quote:Rumsfeld's obsession with machines and their efficiency has translated into his using one to replace his own John Hancock on KIA (killed in action) letters to parents and spouses. Two Pentagon-based colonels, who've both insisted on anonymity to protect their careers, have indignantly reported that the SecDef has relinquished this sacred duty to a signature device rather than signing the sad documents himself.
When I went to Jim Turner, a good man saddled with a tough job as one of Rumsfeld's flacks at the Pentagon, for a confirmation or a denial, he said, "Rumsfeld signs the letters himself."
I then went to about a dozen next-of-kin of American soldiers KIA in Iraq. Most agreed with the colonels' accusations and said they'd noticed and been insulted by the machine-driven signature. One father bitterly commented that he thought it was a shame that the SecDef could keep his squash schedule but not find the time to sign his dead son's letter. Several also felt compelled to tell me that the letter they received from George Bush also looked as though it was not signed personally by the president.
Dr. Ted Smith, whose son Eric was among the first 100 killed in Iraq, notes that the letter he received "from the commander in chief was signed with a thick, green marking pen. I thought it was stamped then and do even now. He had time for golf and the ranch but not enough to sign a decent signature with a pen for his beloved hero soldiers. I was going to send the letter back but did not. I am sorry I didn't."
Sue Niederer, whose son Seth was also killed in Iraq, sums it up: "My son wasn't a person to these people, he was just an entity to play their war game. But where are their children? Not one of them knows how any of us feel, and they obviously aren't interested in finding out. None of them cares. And Rumsfeld depersonalizing his signature - it's a slap in the face, don't you think?"
Bad P.R. for sure. I understand why a Secretary of Defense might have a lot of pressing things to do, and why signing these letters might take more time than he wants to give. But this isn't the kind of move you make in the middle of a military operation. Sign the things while you watch television or something. But don't give the impression that you don't care, whether it's intended or not. There is probably no better way to turn people against a war than to let them think you don't care about the people fighting it.
Posts: 1445 | Registered: May 2004
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Just a question for our history buffs, but who signed those in past wars? Did such augost personalities as the President and the Secretary of Defense(or War) have anything to do with the letters? I ask just because it would seem hard for FDR to keep up with things like D-day happening.
In any case, if the Bush and Rumsfeld are trying to show their sincerity, you would think they'd do it sincerly. You would think with how few Americans have died so far they'd take the time to be personal about it. I don't know if this is true or not, but if true it pisses me off and if not true I'm gonna be pissed off at Hackworth. In any case at least the memo-analysers are gonna get more work.
Congratulations. This is quite possibly the most ridiculous objection to any member of the Bush administration I've heard in recent memory, and that's saying quite a bit. Are you people just looking for things over which to find fault?
I mean, there are serious policy arguments you could level against them. Tactical arguments over how the Iraq war is being conducted, strategic arguments over whether we should've gone in.....but instead we have "Lettergate"?!?!
Ridiculous things like this are the reason that the Democrats are the minority party in this country today. They do give me a good chuckle though, and they lose elections for the party that throws them out there. Keep it coming.
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That said, I don't disqualify a warrior for lack of sensitivity.
Furthermore, the evidence presented hardly established that he isn't signing. If they have time to do the article, then they have time to get a couple letters together and line them up. Are there variations in the signatures?
I don't disqualify a warrior for rumored lack of sensitivity.
Posts: 44193 | Registered: Jun 2001
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I'm fairly certain that commanding officers generally sign the letters. This hasn't always been the president or sec.def, often its colonels or generals in the field.
That said, if your name appears on a KIA report, it better damn well be your signature. I don't care if its a captain, or George Bush. Get your damn name on it. Show respect.
Of course, as pointed out, there's no conclusive evidence offered here.
I do disqualify warriors from ordering people to their deaths if they don't actually care about the people they are ordering to their death. If you don't have the empathy to understand the pain caused to families whose relations die in combat, you have absolutely no business having the authority to order anyone into combat. Commanders who don't have that empathy get more people killed then necessary to do the job, and the dual responsibilities of a commander are getting the job done, and keeping his troops alive.
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There have only been, what, a little more than 1000 dead? That's hardly a rough job over the course of a year. I'll grant that in a larger war with more casualties, it could get to be an absurd task, but just sign the letters.
And regardless of whether or not he did before, (since we can't really know for sure) I'd be surprised if he didn't start signing them now if for nothing else than the PR.
How amazing is it that during a war some are dubbing World War IV, we can expect the authentic signatures of the Commander in Chief or SecDef on every war dead letter?
Not even plausible 30 years ago. Totally laughable idea if you brought it up sixty years ago. Can you imagine them burning the midnight oil and rubbing their arthritic hands?
That's what strikes me.
That said, a stamp does feel very impersonal. I'm happy Clinton only stamped my President's Education Award for Outstanding Academic Acheivement. Yich.
Posts: 7500 | Registered: Sep 2003
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