From CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer yesterday.
BLITZER: Let's talk about when the Iraqi military, the security forces, will be ready to completely take over responsibility of their day-to-day security. When do you believe that might happen?
RUMSFELD: The problem with answering that question with a date is that you can't know what the level of the insurgency is going to be. You don't know the extent to which Iran and Syria are going to misbehave or behave. You can't know the extent to which Zarqawi's money is going to flow in and he'll hire more criminals or suicide bombers.
So what you have to do is look at the conditions. And the answer is that you see the conditions on the ground, and they may be higher or lower, and the test is to see that the Iraqi security forces over time can manage that level of insurgency.
Rummy tap dancing for his life.
BLITZER: Joe Biden, the senator, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, writes in The Washington Post today, "We should focus on real standards, not raw numbers. The real standard is straightforward: Can an Iraqi soldier or policeman do what we ask American soldiers to do, provide law and order, protect the infrastructure, defend the borders and, above all, defeat the insurgency? There are nowhere near 136,000 Iraqis capable of accomplishing these goals."
Is he right?
RUMSFELD: The 136,000 is the number of Iraqi security forces. Some of them are trained to be policemen. And, now, a policeman is not a counterterrorism or a police commando. He's not a regular army officer. He's a policeman. And he's trained to do that.
BLITZER: How many are there? Of the 136,000, I assume 40,000 or 50,000 are police. But how many of the soldiers are really ready to go out there and fight, kill and protect their people?
RUMSFELD: We've got the numbers of each category.
Now, the thing that's correct in that statement you've read is that numbers are interesting, but they're not determinative.
Quality is also important. And that means, how good are the noncommissioned officers? How strong is the chain of command? How good is their intelligence? What is their mobility? Can they move around the country and be sustained?
BLITZER: So, you don't want to give us a number of how many you think are really good at that job already?
RUMSFELD: At the -- depends on what's "that job." They're good at what they're being trained for, after they've been at it a little while. Then it just takes them a while to get good. The thing that worried me about the statement you read is, there is no military in the world that's as good as the United States military. I mean, the idea that these folks are going to be able to pick up and start operating like our special operations people do or like our Green Berets do or like our soldiers do or our pilots or our Navy people, they're not. I mean, we have the best military on the face of the Earth.
These people are going to develop a capacity to be a good military for that part of the world.
I don't think he's talking about defending against Iran or its neighbors, he's talking about defend itself from the internal insurgency.
And over time, that could take many years for them to develop the military capability to defending against an external aggression.
What the hell does that mean? We're going to leave as soon as they can get their act together with respect to the insurgency but not to the point they can defend their borders? Maybe, after we bomb the crap out of Damascus and invade Iran there won't be anyone left to defend against.
RUMMY: But the presence of U.S. forces does not depend on that latter fact, of being able to defend against an external presence. It depends on the Iraqi security forces' ability to manage their internal security, so the people of that country can get on that path to democracy which was seen last Sunday in such a thrilling way.
Army in woeful condition?
[Plays vidoe clip.]
LIEUTENANT GENERAL STEVEN BLOOM: As it pertains to the National Guard, the Army National Guard in particular, we were woefully under equipped before the war started.
That situation hasn't gotten any better. As a matter of fact, it's getting -- it gets a little bit worse every day.
BLITZER: Are you concerned about this, specifically about what General Blum says?
RUMSFELD: Any time our country's engaged in a conflict, you have to be concerned and attentive to the recruiting and retention, particularly when you've got a volunteer force, as we do.
Everyone who serves is a volunteer. Basically, recruiting -- you cited a few that are low. Basically, overall, recruiting and retention is roughly on track.
Some of the numbers are low, for an interesting reason: We're increasing the size of the Army and the Marines. When you do that, you reduce the pool that people pull from to have a National Guard recruiting. Many of the people that go into the Guard and reserve come out of the active force. And if you're holding them in -- not holding them in -- encouraging them to stay in, because you're increasing the size of the active force, obviously you have reduced the pool.
That was an inter sting Freudian slip about "holding" troops in.
On the post occupation disaster and untidiness of freedom.
BARBARA BODINE, FORMER CPA OFFICIAL: ... the decision was that we were not going to get involved in trying to stop the looting. And, in fact, the secretary of defense, you know, basically trivialized it and said it was just messy and part of democracy.
That was kind of the first signal that we were not going to really try to take control of the country.
BLITZER: I wonder if you want to respond to her.
RUMSFELD: No, not really. I don't know what else she may have said. [Well, what about responding to what she did say?]
But the reality is that, when we went into that country, our soldiers had the task of, first of all, defeating the enemy. And in that early day, in the very early days when Baghdad was being taken, there was some looting. [Some looting?]
And the question -- it wasn't my decision -- it was a question for the commanders, the battlefield commanders. She implies that I made some sort of decision. [Oh, not you. You're only in charge of the whole operation.]
I commented that I thought the battlefield commanders made the right decisions, and the right decisions were to defeat the enemy, instead of providing security around a museum or something. [Yeah, its only some dusty old stuff from the beginning of civilization, after all.] I forget what else there was that somebody was concerned where there was looting. [What?]
Iraqi security forces proving Rummy correct?
From the BBC:
Iraqi security forces are losing men because of "severe intimidation" by rebels, a top US general has said.
Lt Gen David Petraeus, in charge of training Iraqi troops, said few of the 90 battalions were at full strength.
The US general said 136,000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers were now trained and equipped.
Gen Petraeus said 88 Iraqi battalions were conducting operations. But he conceded that few of those units were at full strength.
But some independent analysts in Washington question the general's numbers, our correspondent reports.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies says it has found that only handful of Iraqi police and military battalions are able to fight independently.
US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told Congress on Thursday that Iraqi units, on average, had absentee rates of about 40%. [Somebody better get Wolfowitz on the same page.]
Allawi's prediction of an end to the insurgency in a few months counting down:
"At least 15 civilians were killed and 17 wounded when a suicide car bomb exploded outside the main police headquarters in the town of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad.
In the northern city of Mosul, 12 people were killed and four wounded when the other suicide bomber blew himself up among a crowd of police officers in a hospital compound.
A large crater was blown in the road and at least five cars were destroyed. Most, if not all, the victims were thought to be police officers waiting to collect their salaries."
Also, 9 U.S. casualties to date this month.
Rousing vote for torture secretary.
(Senate endorses torture.)
From the WaPoWaPo:
"The Senate voted 60 to 36 yesterday to confirm Alberto R. Gonzales as attorney general, but only a handful of Democrats backed him after days of often strident debate over his role in setting controversial interrogation policies for detainees.
With only six Democrats voting aye -- the smallest level of minority-party support in decades -- the Senate action provided further evidence that tensions between the two parties rival those during the Vietnam War and Watergate eras.
Landrieu (La.), Lieberman (Conn.), Nelson (Neb.), Nelson (Fla.), Pryor (Ark.) and Salazar (Colo.).
...a string of Democrats said Gonzales was unconvincing because he claimed not to recall details of his role in the drafting of an Aug. 1, 2002, Justice Department memo that narrowly defined what constituted torture and was disowned by the administration after it became public last year.
The memo was requested by Gonzales and addressed to him, and numerous sources have said he chaired meetings that included discussions of simulated drownings and other harsh interrogation techniques.
Gonzales "was at the heart of the Bush administration's notorious decision to authorize our forces to commit flagrant acts of torture in the interrogation of detainees in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).
Not since 1925, when the Senate twice rejected attorney general nominee Charles B. Warren, has a nominee received as few minority-party votes as Gonzales did, according to Senate historians.
Four years ago an evenly divided Senate voted 58 to 42 to confirm Ashcroft, with eight Democrats joining all 50 Republicans in backing the outspoken and often controversial former senator.
Most attorneys general have been confirmed easily, sometimes unanimously."
On to Iran.
Supposedly, Condi is on her "whirlwind" trip to Europe and the Middle East to mend fences. I don't think sh'e doing very well. When asked if the U.S. was going to use military means to deal with Iran she said:
"The question is simply not on the agenda at this point."
Well, that's encouraging. But she also said, "The US President is never going to take options off the table." And you know what that means.
I still don't understand what our policy is at this point toward Iran. For the past four years it has been nonexistent. Now that Colin Powell and his namby pamby diplomacy crap is gone, the neocons know what to do.
We're going to let the Europeans go round and round with the Iranians for a while and come summer declare negotiations haven't worked and then we're pull out the "shock and awe."
Rummy said on CNN Iran was "some years away" from a bomb. Be assured that particular quote will come back to haunt him when Bush's propaganda machine starts reeving up the mushroom cloud warnings.
See former Iraq Survey Group leader David Kay's opinion piece in the Post today "Let's Not Make the Same Mistakes in Iran."
Don't worry, we will. Bush and Co. don't think they've made any mistakes.