Hard News by Russell Brown


Put on the full armour of God

The most arresting part of Robert Draper's story for GQ magazine on the Rumsfeld years concerns the styling of the confidential briefings with which Donald Rumsfeld kept his President up to date on Iraq.

It's both hilarious and alarming. These documents weren't standard issue. Each briefing was appended, in a way that made it look like a child's school project, with a cover sheet bearing photographs -- and a Biblical quote to guide the President's feelings about the news.

This mixing of Crusades-like messaging with war imagery, which until now has not been revealed, had become routine. On March 31, a U.S. tank roared through the desert beneath a quote from Ephesians: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” On April 7, Saddam Hussein struck a dictatorial pose, under this passage from the First Epistle of Peter: “It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.”

There are various examples in a slide show on the GQ website.

As Andrew Sullivan puts it:

I wonder what's worse: a defense secretary who puts Old Testament quotes on progress updates on an invasion of a Muslim country or a defense secretary who thinks this will add to his president's knowledge and expertise.

The GQ story is referenced in a New York Times column by Frank Rich, in which Rich strongly makes the case that "[i]f the Obama administration really wants to move on from the dark Bush era, it will need a new commission, backed up by serious law enforcement, to shed light on where every body is buried."

I can certainly see that Obama would be reluctant to open up several new fronts when he already faces an arguably unprecedented array of challenges, and even that he might be responding to genuine advice from the field in, to take one example, reversing his decision to release photographs of detainee abuse. But it doesn't seem that this is going away.

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