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The Sunday Times (London)
Oct. 15, 2006

Letter RE: “Time for a change in Iraq”

A recent article (“Time for a change in Iraq,” Oct. 8, 2006) contains a number of erroneous claims, two of which especially merit a response.

First, the claim that Iraq is in “chaos” due to “politicians making military decisions” is false. Commanders in the field have consistently determined troop levels and other military matters. Regarding troop levels, commanders have emphasized the need for more capable Iraqi forces, not additional American troops. As General Abizaid, Commander U.S. Central Command, explained:

“I think those ‘experts’ want the U.S. troops to do all the work. And General Casey and I don't want U.S. troops to do all the work. It's very, very clear to both of us that, in order to win in Iraq, the Iraqis have to assume more and more responsibility. And they're doing that, and we intend to keep doing that.”

Second, the claim that “Rumsfeld froze out others in the administration, refusing even to return their calls” is false. This myth is derived from a passage in Bob Woodward’s recent book where Secretary Rumsfeld supposedly refuses to return then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice’s phone calls. Secretary Rice has described this claim as “ridiculous,” and stated “Secretary Rumsfeld has never refused to return my phone calls.” Secretary Rumsfeld similarly described this as “nonsense.”

Bryan Whitman, Deputy assistant secretary of defense for Public Affairs, Washington

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