Tags: Medals | Freedom | Undeserved

Medals of Freedom Undeserved

Wednesday, 14 September 2005 12:00 AM

Powell, however, did not blame former CIA director George Tenet, according to the Times, "for the failures and did not believe that Mr. Tenet tried to mislead him," saying, "‘No, George Tenet did not sit there for five days with me, misleading me,' referring to the week he spent at the CIA reviewing the evidence on Iraq before making his presentation to the United Nations. ‘There were some people in the intelligence community who knew at that time that some of these sources were not good, and shouldn't be relied upon, and they didn't speak up. That devastated me.'" I respect and admire Colin Powell. He has served our country magnificently as Secretary of State, National Security Adviser to the President, four-star General in the U.S. Army and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the first President Bush.

He does not blame George Tenet for the misinformation on which he relied and that he repeated to the U.N. as Secretary of State, but instead, according to The Times, calls to task "some intelligence agents [who] knew the information he had was unreliable but did not speak up."

Why shouldn't he and all of us blame George Tenet, the former director of Central Intelligence? Tenet told President Bush that establishing that Saddam Hussein had unconventional weapons was a "slam dunk case." Tenet gave the President a personal briefing every day on Iraq, and the President and Powell had every right to rely on his advice when it came to issues of national security.

So why did Bush award Tenet the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the applause of the Congress and of Powell? I haven't a clue. Nobody in his right mind believed Tenet's statement to CIA personnel. According to CNN, Tenet said, "And while Washington and the media will put many different faces on [my decision to resign], it was a personal decision, and had only one basis in fact: the well-being of my wonderful family, nothing more and nothing less." Puhleeze!

In the same interview with Barbara Walters, according to The Times, Powell said, "What we didn't do in the immediate aftermath of the war was to impose our will on the whole country with enough troops from coalition forces or by recreating the Iraqi forces, armed forces, more quickly than we are doing now."

Paul Bremer, appointed by the President as administrator of Iraq, ordered that the Iraqi army be disbanded instead of simply changing its leadership and employing it, as we are now seeking to do, to fight the insurgents and terrorists.

Bremer's decision surely was a major factor in the huge casualties suffered by the U.S. armed forces since the end of the conventional war, which now total 1,895 dead and at least 14,362 injured, with an estimated more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed by those same insurgents and terrorists. Why was Bremer also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom? Both Tenet and Bremer deserved sacking, not medals.

It would not surprise many if suddenly Michael Brown, who just resigned as director of FEMA, were awarded a medal for his recent service in New Orleans.

Colin Powell's admission that we did not send adequate military forces into Iraq in 2003 conjures up the name of General Eric Shinseki, who told congress that the occupation could require "several hundred thousand troops."

According to most of the media reporting at the time, General Shinseki was sacked - forced to retire prematurely - because his opinion differed with that of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who believed, and apparently still does, that the current number of American forces, 137,000, is adequate to do the job. Isn't Shinseki owed an apology by Rumsfeld and the president? I think so.

The investigations that have been launched into prison conditions at American installations criticized by the International Red Cross in Iraq (Abu Ghraib) and in Cuba (Guantanamo Bay) have led to criminal trials, but apparently only of low-level military personnel.

Why haven't high-level brass charged with responsibility for the facilities and maintaining discipline been pursued criminally for their failures and dereliction of their responsibilities? Why does it seem that we reward high-level incompetents with medals and low-level incompetents with jail?

Some will say, "Koch, you are criticizing those you have told us to vote for." Yes, that is true in this case. It harkens back to one of my rules when I was mayor. I said, "Government is not for my friends," going on to explain that to be in my government, if you were a friend of mine, you had to be far better than other applicants for the job. I expected then and continue to expect now more from my friends.

I still admire, respect and support Colin Powell, President Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld for the positive, even great contributions they have made to the U.S., particularly their courage in taking on international terrorism. But that should not and will not stop me from being critical when their actions or inactions merit a public rebuke. If that be disloyalty, so be it.


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Powell, however, did not blame former CIA director George Tenet, according to the Times, "for the failures and did not believe that Mr. Tenet tried to mislead him," saying, "'No, George Tenet did not sit there for five days with me, misleading me,' referring to the week he...
Wednesday, 14 September 2005 12:00 AM
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