Donald Rumsfeld’s Crusade-like Messaging in Worldwide Intelligence Updates

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

If President Obama is concerned about international reaction to the publishing of previously leaked (but not published) photos of torture, then he really ought to be concerned about the recently published report in GQ Magazine containing the cover sheets of Donald Rumsfeld's Crusade-like messaging in his Worldwide Intelligence Updates. Remember the uproar over George W. Bush referring to the war as a "Crusade"? Rumsfeld's messaging may have been the reason for it.

h/t Americablog.com for the screen shots

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h/t crooksandliars.com for the screen shot

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Robert Draper's in-depth report for GQ AND HE SHALL BE JUDGED: GQ Features is worth the long read (excerpt):

On the morning of Thursday, April 10, 2003, Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon prepared a top-secret briefing for George W. Bush. This document, known as the Worldwide Intelligence Update, was a daily digest of critical military intelligence so classified that it circulated among only a handful of Pentagon leaders and the president; Rumsfeld himself often delivered it, by hand, to the White House. The briefing’s cover sheet generally featured triumphant, color images from the previous days’ war efforts: On this particular morning, it showed the statue of Saddam Hussein being pulled down in Firdos Square, a grateful Iraqi child kissing an American soldier, and jubilant crowds thronging the streets of newly liberated Baghdad. And above these images, and just below the headline secretary of defense, was a quote that may have raised some eyebrows. It came from the Bible, from the book of Psalms: “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him…To deliver their soul from death.”

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.” (To see these and more Bush-administration intelligence cover sheets, visit GQ.com’s exclusive slideshow).

These cover sheets were the brainchild of Major General Glen Shaffer, a director for intelligence serving both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense. In the days before the Iraq war, Shaffer’s staff had created humorous covers in an attempt to alleviate the stress of preparing for battle. Then, as the body counting began, Shaffer, a Christian, deemed the biblical passages more suitable. Several others in the Pentagon disagreed. At least one Muslim analyst in the building had been greatly offended; others privately worried that if these covers were leaked during a war conducted in an Islamic nation, the fallout—as one Pentagon staffer would later say—“would be as bad as Abu Ghraib.”

* * *

The Scripture-adorned cover sheets illustrate one specific complaint I heard again and again: that Rumsfeld’s tactics—such as playing a religious angle with the president—often ran counter to sound decision-making and could, occasionally, compromise the administration’s best interests. In the case of the sheets, publicly flaunting his own religious views was not at all the SecDef’s style—“Rumsfeld was old-fashioned that way,” Shaffer acknowledged when I contacted him about the briefings—but it was decidedly Bush’s style, and Rumsfeld likely saw the Scriptures as a way of making a personal connection with a president who frequently quoted the Bible. No matter that, if leaked, the images would reinforce impressions that the administration was embarking on a religious war and could escalate tensions with the Muslim world. The sheets were not Rumsfeld’s direct invention—and he could thus distance himself from them, should that prove necessary.

Still, the sheer cunning of pairing unsentimental intelligence with religious righteousness bore the signature of one man: Donald Rumsfeld. And as historians slog through the smoke and mirrors of his tenure, they may find that Rumsfeld’s most enduring legacy will be the damage he did to Bush’s.

Be sure to view the slide show of the cover sheets from the Worlwide Intelligence Updates.

UPDATE 5/19/09: Robert Draper was a guest on the Rachel Maddow Show last night and discussed his GQ Magazine article.

Transcript 'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, May 18

0 responses to “Donald Rumsfeld’s Crusade-like Messaging in Worldwide Intelligence Updates

  1. The Iraqi’s were already calling us ‘Crusaders’. Totally thoughtless actions like those of Don Rumsfeld will inflame Muslims and put even more Americans at risk. It is hard to figure out how Rumsfeld could possibly have more American blood on his hands.