October 22, 2003


Rumsfeld's war-on-terror memo: Below is the full text of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's memo on the war on terror (USA Today, 10/22/2003)

October 16, 2003
TO: Gen. Dick Myers
  Paul Wolfowitz
  Gen. Pete Pace
  Doug Feith

FROM: Donald Rumsfeld

SUBJECT: Global War on Terrorism

The questions I posed to combatant commanders this week were: Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror? Is DoD changing fast enough to deal with the new 21st century security environment? Can a big institution change fast enough? Is the USG changing fast enough?

DoD has been organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies, navies and air forces. It is not possible to change DoD fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror; an alternative might be to try to fashion a new institution, either within DoD or elsewhere — one that seamlessly focuses the capabilities of several departments and agencies on this key problem.

With respect to global terrorism, the record since Septermber 11th seems to be:

We are having mixed results with Al Qaida, although we have put considerable pressure on them — nonetheless, a great many remain at large.

USG has made reasonable progress in capturing or killing the top 55 Iraqis.

USG has made somewhat slower progress tracking down the Taliban — Omar, Hekmatyar, etc.

With respect to the Ansar Al-Islam, we are just getting started.

Have we fashioned the right mix of rewards, amnesty, protection and confidence in the US?

Does DoD need to think through new ways to organize, train, equip and focus to deal with the global war on terror?

Are the changes we have and are making too modest and incremental? My impression is that we have not yet made truly bold moves, although we have have made many sensible, logical moves in the right direction, but are they enough?

Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?

Does the US need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists? The US is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' costs of millions.

Do we need a new organization?

How do we stop those who are financing the radical madrassa schools?

Is our current situation such that "the harder we work, the behinder we get"?

It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog.

Does CIA need a new finding?

Should we create a private foundation to entice radical madradssas to a more moderate course?

What else should we be considering?

Please be prepared to discuss this at our meeting on Saturday or Monday.


Excellent questions all, but in sum the likely answers appear to put places like Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia--where the intellectual power of Islamicism is centered--in the crosshairs, rather than just focusing on where the terrorists are physically. This is a logical, long overdue, next phase of the war.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 22, 2003 1:26 PM

Hard to see how leaking this memo is supposed to hurt Rumsfeld or Bush, since the only logical position to attack this is from the right, where the criticism would be the administration hasn't gone far enough in the war on terror.

Lieberman is the only one on the Democratic side who could even come close to using that tactic. The rest of the field would have to twist like pretzels to come up with a logical connection between critcism based on the memo and their own statements about Iraq, Afghanistan and any further conflicts (which means we should be hearing from Wesley Clark sometime in the next 24-hour news cycle).

Posted by: John at October 22, 2003 2:16 PM

Lots of blogs are all over this story (see Instapundit, almost all of whom are coming to the right conclusion about the memo, the press' attempt to spin the memo and the unforturnate chance that the spin might dissuage the government from asking these questions. This is one of the things I appreciate most about blogs. Before blogging, I would have read the memo, gotten angry at the spin and assumed that many others would accept the spin unquestioningly. Now I know that many others also understand what's going on.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 22, 2003 2:30 PM

"Be ready to discuss at our meeting Saturday or Monday"

Nothing like a meeting with Rummy on Saturday to make your weekend.

Posted by: AWW at October 22, 2003 2:39 PM

Oh where to start with this one?

First of all, doesn't Rummy answer those kind of questions himself? Of course he does.

"Mixed results" with Al Qaida and Taliban might just have been better without a misguided Iraq invasion.

"Not made truly bold moves." I guess Bush's speechwriters will have to find a new adjective to forcefeed the public/press.

"The US is puting relatively little effort into a long-range plan." Duh.

"Do we need a new organization." Should probably ask his new boss of a few weeks ago, [the wildly incompetent] Dr. Rice.

"...a long, hard slog." Hmm. What's an eight-letter word for long, hard slog. First letter: Q.

"Is our current situation such that 'the harder we work, the behinder we get'?" That's an easy one! We need to ramp up the synergy and dial into our core competencies for a results-driven paradigm. Thinking outside the box will yield a win-win scenario!

"Does CIA need a new finding?" I think Pulitizer Prize winning journalish Sy Hersh covered that in his latest New Yorker piece. Nothing we didn't already know though.

"What else should we be considering?" Well, you may wish to spend more time with your family, if you know what I mean. Obviously more massive tax cuts for the wealthy and no-bid contracts for Administration friends too. Having a high-ranking military appointment spout off religious lunacies and declaring a War Against Islam for Jesus might be a sound plan too.

Posted by: at October 22, 2003 2:40 PM

--"What else should we be considering?" Well, you may wish to spend more time with your family, if you know what I mean. Obviously more massive tax cuts for the wealthy and no-bid contracts for Administration friends too. Having a high-ranking military appointment spout off religious lunacies and declaring a War Against Islam for Jesus might be a sound plan too.''

Sounds good to me.

Posted by: Sandy P. at October 22, 2003 2:49 PM

Just wanted to acknowledge the helpful and constructive nature of the comments from anon. He hit the nail on the head. The Bush administration is filled with war-mongering, greedy, defense contractor loving S.O.B.'s who would rather enrich themselves than protect and defend the USA. Unlike the self-less Clintonistas who truly feel our pain. Just imagine, on top of all of that, a military man who thinks his cause is righteous and just? What neanderthals! Where's the brilliant Maddy Allbright when we need her?

The idea that defeating a lethal bunch of racialist,nationalist and religious fanatics who spread themselves throughout a backward and oppressive region of the world might be "a long hard slog" is so simplistic. Why don't we just send them stuff and repeat over and over how sorry we are for forcing them into taking such desperate measures against us? The over-simplifications of the current administration are not helpful.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at October 22, 2003 3:03 PM

'What's an eight-letter word for long, hard slog. First letter: Q.'

Quixotic? Quibbles?

Posted by: old maltese at October 22, 2003 3:15 PM

How about pretendinng we're actually in a war and "discouraging" the radical madrassas with daisy cutters?

Posted by: Ralph Phelan at October 22, 2003 3:16 PM

Hey, anyonmous troll. Do you realise that a "finding" in the CIA context does not refer to "intelligence findings (results)", but, in effect, their orders or parameters of engagement?

Why, no, I imagine you didn't know that... or if you did, you were deliberately pretending not to. Because, why, if you know that, it doesn't make Bush and Rumsfeld look like mean, evil warmongers!

And we certainly can't have THAT, can we?

Posted by: Sigivald at October 22, 2003 3:20 PM

Forgive me, I forgot to post my name in the above trenchant analysis of the RummyGram.

Firstly, lighten up, Francis. I'm just having a little fun at the not-long-for-this adminstration D. Rumsfeld. Sheesh. C'mon, it's a little cute?

It's most certainly a Good Thing that The Rumster is asking questions. I really believe that. Couple things can't be ignored though:

1. The harder/behinder bulljive is embarrassing. You need to work smarter, not harder. That's a bad Dilbert.

2. Memo is quite at odds with the bulljive PR campaign from the Administration about how we're getting too much bad news on Iraq. Doesn't reflect well on Prez et al. Look for Rummy to "want to spend more time with his family" in the coming weeks. Could happen. Someone's got to take the fall for the perceived bad news, real or imagined.

3. Bush hisownself needs to play some ball as to rooting out the radical madrassas. (And bringing this to light may help bring down Rummy too.)

4. Boykin is a lunatic who needs reassignment prontisimo. It's as though he took the position that Palistine in a righteous religious war against The Zionists etc. etc. It is so.

5. Yes it is.

6. Sigivald--I was just making a point. You read that Hersh piece and follow-up Q & A? Confirms some fears. Heads need to roll.

7. old maltese--right on!

8. Sandy P.--{shudder}

9. Tom C--Lighten up, Francis.

Posted by: Jimmy at October 22, 2003 5:18 PM

Boykin's wrong but we need to after the madrasses? That makes no sense.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2003 5:33 PM

oj - It makes sense if you're not fighting a war on terror, but a war on religion.

Posted by: pj at October 22, 2003 6:06 PM

Get a grip, Sandy. Hersh is far gone in lunacy or Alzheimer's or something.

Well, at any rate, the list of potential leakers is pretty short. Who's Feith?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 22, 2003 6:22 PM


But can we assume that's what Jimmy meant? He seems to contradict himself.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2003 6:26 PM

Are we committed to keeping Iraq one nation ?
Why not give more control to the Kurdish and Shi'ite parts, and concentrate more troops in the "Sunni triangle" and Baghdad ?
It would add to our capability to suppress ambushes, and give the native Sunni a carrot to strive for.

Long term, to avoid more terror, the US should strive for more energy independence, combining conservation, further exploitation of American oil reserves, and massive alternative energy research.
Once oil prices drop, Islamic societies will have fewer dollars to spend on terror, and once America can afford to ignore the Middle East, there will be fewer provocations for terrorists to recruit with.


You're irritated because Rumsfeld asked for advice and ideas ? Most view that as a sign of maturity.

Would you have supported the war if it had been under the UN banner ? If so, why is it "misguided" for the US to do what the UN couldn't bring itself to do ?

Apparently, further containment was not an option.
Therefore, the choices were: Let Saddam do as he willed, or, finish the job that was started in '91, and ended ONLY because it was thought that Saddam would fall, to a rebellion. Remember, in 2003, Saddam was STILL in conflict with the US and others, and had never met the full terms of the armistice.

Further, thinking that there will be MAJOR consequences for invading Iraq is 20th century Cold War thinking. You may, seriously, want to consider WHY you think it's a bad idea, and what possible consequence may occur. Terrorists are bad, but completely unable to destroy American society, nor bring down the US gov't.

In greeting the 21st century, Bush shows that he's crossed the "bridge" Clinton was always meaning to get around to building, and Bush has also shown that he's EXACTLY as stupid as Reagan.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 22, 2003 6:36 PM

It is entertaining to watch the development of interpretations concerning this memo. The seisure by the anti-Bush on any possible negative understanding of the memo reveals an almost childlike search for the pot at the rainbow's end.

Surely, it is beyond belief that political appointees might further political aims by artful leaks. This bunch of clowns can't do anything right - can they?

When politics is done well it is art. In the past 23 years we have been graced by two artists at the presidential level (and one paint by the numers arriviste).

Posted by: RDB at October 22, 2003 6:39 PM


Obviously Rumsfeld leaked it or had it leaked. It serves his purposes brilliantly.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2003 6:48 PM


Only Rumsfeld? W is in Asia (God knows where). Karl, on the other hand, is not. The Plame game was more entertaining. (Look, watch the Post tie the noose and kick the chair out of the way.) Misunderestimation is a virtue that the Dem's seem to be practicing assiduously. Here's to'em.

Posted by: RDB at October 22, 2003 7:26 PM


Just saw Jim Miklasewski (sp?), a great Pentagon correspondent, saying that DoD was eager to confirm the authenticity of the memo.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2003 7:36 PM

Just heard Daschles take. Selecting Sondheim as the new lyricist for the Dems seems an auspicious move. The seventy five year segue from Yellen to Sondheim could have been less adagio but the end result appears to be satisfactory.

Posted by: RDB at October 22, 2003 8:25 PM

Dashcle and the other Democrats who raced to comment on this today basically just wanted to get the fact that this is a "scandal" into the evening newscasts and Thursday morning papers. They can't take it any further than saying "this shows there are more problems in Iraq and Afghanistan than the administration has admitted," because the vote by so many top Democrats against the $87 billion aid package Bush wants for those two countries creates a complete disconnect between their message of today, and their messages over the past month.

Unless the Democrats want to turn around and say we need to give Iraq and Afghanistan more money and target more areas in the war on terror, there's nothing else for them to say on the issue. And any Democrat who says that will completely alienate the party's true believers.

Posted by: John at October 22, 2003 11:39 PM


I should lighten up? Can't do it while the dangerous, war-mongering, friend of the rich, enemy of the poor, right-wing, neo-nazi, end of the empire Bush is in power. President Howard Dean will straighten it all out, then I can "lighten-up". BTW, you are just so smart!

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at October 23, 2003 10:21 AM

I was a squadron commander once.

This is the kind of thing with which I challenged the people who worked for me all the time.

I would be honored to work for the SECDEF.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 24, 2003 5:39 PM