Soldiers Learn They’ll Be in Baghdad Longer Than Expected
By Jeffrey Kofman ABC News
F A L L U J A H, Iraq, July 16— The sergeant at the 2nd Battle Combat Team Headquarters pulled me aside in the corridor. “I’ve got my own ‘Most Wanted’ list,” he told me.
He was referring to the deck of cards the U.S. government published, featuring Saddam Hussein, his sons and other wanted members of the former Iraqi regime.
“The aces in my deck are Paul Bremer, Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush and Paul Wolfowitz,” he said.
In the back of the group, Spc. Clinton Deitz put up his hand. “If Donald Rumsfeld was here,” he said, “I’d ask him for his resignation.”
None of this is a surprise, of course. Tell a bunch of soldiers they’re coming home after ten months, and then tell them that instead they get to spend the summer in scenic Iraq, and they’re going to be peeved. And of course General Abizaid (*) is right that it’s against the law for soldiers to publicly criticize their civilian leaders (except in letters to their Senators and Representatives.)
[Of course much of the military hierarchy, and virtually all the Republicans in Washington, just smiled when that law was broken at Bill Clinton’s expense, but they were wrong to do so, and the Democrats would be wrong to imitate them now. That law is there for a good reason. On the other hand, it’s almost inconceivable that the soldiers who were dumb enough to talk on camera will actually face a court-martial, though in theory they’ve exposed themselves to one: that would generate a furious backlash.]
What’s really newsworthy here is the willingness of ABC News to go with the story. If I were Karl Rove, that would have me up nights worrying. As a general rule, the press never kicks a man who isn’t down yet. This suggests that the Yellowcake Road is taking a real toll on Bush’s standing with the media, if not, or not yet, in the public at large. He’s been wearing the world’s thickest coat of Teflon since the summer of 2000, but that stuff is very easy to scratch, and once it gets scratched everything starts to stick.