THE BUSHIES GET TESTY….From a Knight-Ridder story on Tuesday:
In one recent high-level meeting, [Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld looked at Secretary of State Colin Powell and said, “Jerry (Ambassador Paul Bremer, the top U.S. civilian in Iraq) works for you, right?”
Powell looked as if he’d been struck by lightning. Bremer and every other U.S. official in Iraq reports directly to Rumsfeld and the Pentagon. Rumsfeld demanded and got complete authority over the military, over the civilian authority in charge of rebuilding the country, over the administration’s $87 billion Iraq budget, over every line of every contract let. And suddenly he forgot that Bremer works for him?
That same week, Wolfowitz and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage were summoned to a closed-door session of the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss how the U.S. contracting system is working in Iraq.
When Wolfowitz was asked a tough question about the controversies surrounding the U.S. contracting efforts in Iraq, he turned to Armitage and said: “You can answer that one, right, Rich?” Armitage answered by noting that the Department of Defense and the Office of the Secretary of Defense control every American contract let in Iraq, and that the State Department has authority over none of those contracts.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, a retired four-star general known for his even temperament, paused yesterday during a congressional hearing to berate a Hill staffer for shaking his head as Powell offered a defense of his prewar statements on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.
….Powell was recalling for the panel his review of the prewar intelligence. “I went and lived at the CIA for about four days to make sure that nothing was,” he began, when he paused and glared at a staffer seated behind the members of Congress.
“Are you shaking your head for something, young man, back there?” Powell asked. “Are you part of these proceedings?”
Things are getting mighty testy in the Bush administration, aren’t they? I gather that panic is already running pretty high in the White House over both the Valerie Plame investigation and the National Guard fiasco, so there’s probably no one around to even try and broker a peace agreement between State and Defense. Maybe we need a roadmap?