Friday, December 17, 2004


From Stars & Stripes we learn that, until now, Rummy couldn't be bothered to sign every letter to a dead soldier's family himself:

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will begin personally signing condolence letters sent to families of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, after receiving criticism over his use of mechanical signatures....

“I have directed that in the future I sign each letter,” he said in [a] statement....

In a separate statement, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said, “In the interest of ensuring timely contact with grieving family members, he has not individually signed each letter.”...

Rummy's been Mr. Tough Talk, which for a while made Beltway journalists swoon, but it seems this change of heart happened because someone had the nerve to talk tough right back at him:

Retired Army Col. David Hackworth, an author and frequent critic of the Department of Defense, publicly criticized Rumsfeld in a syndicated column earlier this month for not reviewing each KIA letter personally.

He called the fake signatures “like having it signed by a monkey.”

“Using those machines is pretty common, but it shouldn’t be in cases of those who have died in action,” he said. “How can [DOD officials] feel the emotional impact of that loss if they’re not even looking at the letters?”

Meanwhile, it appears that Rummy isn't the only one who sees this as bureaucratic tedium that's best avoided:

Family members had expressed similar concerns to Stripes about President Bush’s signature on his condolence letters, but Allen Abney, spokesman for the president, said that Bush does personally sign the letters sent from the White House.

The families were right about Rummy's phony signatures. Do you think it's likely that they're wrong about Bush's? But Bush can't fess up and change his policy, because that would involve admitting he made a mistake in judgment, and anything, even insulting the troops and their families, is better in Bush's eyes than admitting a mistake.

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