From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
Inside Rummy's Office

August 5, 2003 1:13 PM

Karen Kwiatkowski, retired Air Force lieutenant colonel:

After eight years of Bill Clinton, many military officers breathed a sigh of relief when George W. Bush was named president. I was in that plurality. At one time, I would have believed the administration's accusations of anti-Americanism against anyone who questioned the integrity and good faith of President Bush, Vice President Cheney or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

However, while working from May 2002 through February 2003 in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Near East South Asia and Special Plans (USDP/NESA and SP) in the Pentagon, I observed the environment in which decisions about post-war Iraq were made.

Those observations changed everything.

What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to good order and discipline. If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of "intelligence" found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the post-Hussein occupation has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one need look no further than the process inside the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

More from the archive in Incompetence, Neocons, War and Peace.

Inside Rummy's Office (08.05.2003)

Next Entry: Arianna is running for Governor! (08.06.2003)
Previous Entry: Can You Say Frontrunner? (08.03.2003)

Read the 14 comments.

Paul in OC:


Tue Aug 5 2003 5:52 PM


I just wonder how a light colonel came to be such an expert on the inner workings of the state department, pentagon, and white house in just four years (only two under the current administration). My experience has been that anyone of that rank pours coffee and leaves the room during the important conversations.

Wed Aug 6 2003 5:52 AM

Paul in OC:


I marvel at how easily the "true believer" conservatives can dismiss the warning flares sent up by intelligence and military professionals of mismanagement and abuse of power. When I mentioned to a friend of mine that intelligence professionals were up in arms about being pressured to change their analyses to match policy, he said that he wouldn't believe it unless a person stepped forward (and risked their career over it).

Soldiers in Iraq complained bitterly about the never-ending assignment - subsequent reports indicate that their superiors were punished for it. (They claim that their careers were ruined.)

Joseph Wilson stepped forward to call the administration on the Niger lies and cover-up. His wife's career was cut short by senior administration officials, who identified her as a covert operative for the CIA.

Col. Wiatkowski stepped forward, only because she could safely do so as a retiree, and listed specific and systemic structural and procedural problems in the management of defense policy. Rather than recognize the warning for what it is, out pops the "true believer" conservative response that Lt. Colonels don't actually participate in the running of the defense department, they just pour coffee for the full-bird Colonels and Generals who do all the real work!!!

Wed Aug 6 2003 9:43 AM


A twenty year (?) airforce career officer that has taken at least 4 extended leave of absences is extremely light as a lt colonel.. As for her "stepping out", I believe the current ax grinding style of writing has more to do with forwarding her new career as columnist then anything she learned or thought she learned in the pentagon. Her own writings indicate that good intellegence officers are few and far between, which might be a good indication as to why she is nolonger employed as one.

As for Joe Wilson's report on his vacation in Niger what a joke. He spent a week there and never filed his "report" until AFTER THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS, over nine months after his return to the US.

His wife's exposure as a covert CIA operative is along the lines of treason, but I am surprised at how quite this subject has suddenly become. Is/was his wife a covert CIA operative or was she a desk bound analyst? I would need more then the word of Paul Krugman to believe this. Simply because the NY Times made this assertion makes me have my doubts. When it appears in the Wall Street Journal confirms through their own sources I will be writing my congressman demanding someone's head.

I would also think the names of the "senior administrative officials" would be exposed by now if the media had them. Divulging state secrets is a much bigger story then Koby Bryant or Wilson's "How I spent my vacation report", or any of the Clinton's headlines. The democratic party is missing a huge opportunity if that is the case. Instead of harping on "16 Words" they could be launching a congressional investigation over the compromising of American intelligence services at the very time they are needed most.

Wed Aug 6 2003 12:04 PM

Paul in OC:

"As for Joe Wilson's report on his vacation in Niger what a joke. He spent a week there and never filed his "report" until AFTER THE STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS, over nine months after his return to the US."

That is not true.

Wed Aug 6 2003 1:48 PM

Paul in OC:

"I would also think the names of the "senior administrative officials" would be exposed by now if the media had them."

Not true. When sources ask to have their names withheld, journalists can't divulge their names, or risk never being trusted again. They may as well start a new career in that case.

Wed Aug 6 2003 1:50 PM

Jim Gilliam:

I think dhermesc is referring to this from Wilson's NY Times article:

Though I did not file a written report, there should be at least four documents in United States government archives confirming my mission. The documents should include the ambassador's report of my debriefing in Niamey, a separate report written by the embassy staff, a C.I.A. report summing up my trip, and a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports, I have spent enough time in government to know that this is standard operating procedure.

Personally, I think it just shows that Wilson never took the claim seriously - it was obviously bogus. Within a week, he was able to determine it was complete nonsense, and reported back as such. Barbro Owens Kirkpatrick, another ambassador in the region, had already determined it couldn't have happened before Wilson even showed up.

Only after he realized that the claim was still floating around in the administration did he feel it was necessary to write a report himself.

Wed Aug 6 2003 2:01 PM


Thank you Jim.

As for not revealing your source, you can make a living off of one story of this magnitude. I think the rest of the media world would forgive a reporter for doing his patriotic duty of revealing a traitor in the midst of a Republican Administration. At this point in time an unnamed source with unconfirmed information is simply reporting rumors, hardly journalism.

Wed Aug 6 2003 2:50 PM


Paul in OC

Exhibit "A" of the value of quoting unnamed sources would be the Jessica Lynch story. Turns out all the early reports that reported her heroics where as factual as the National Enquirer's report of Julia Roberts' and Bill Clinton's love child. According to you those unnamed sources would never again feed you informaton if you "outed" them, but what good is it to get a story from a confirmed liar? To report from a known unreliable source doesn't say much for one's journalistic integrity.

Wed Aug 6 2003 3:11 PM

Paul in OC:


You didn't say anything about a written report. Your statement that Joseph Wilson didn't file a report before the SOU is incorrect or at the very least misleading, because Wilson was debriefed personally immediately after he conducted his investigation.

Thanks for the link, Jim.

Wed Aug 6 2003 5:21 PM

Paul in OC:


"I think the rest of the media world would forgive a reporter for doing his patriotic duty of revealing a traitor in the midst of a Republican Administration."

What good would that do Bob Novak? He'd still be out of a job. He would never again be trusted to print quotes from unnamed sources. Journalists print quotes from unnamed sources which they judge to be reliable. It's up to you, the reader, to determine whether you trust the journalist and the publication enough to believe the sources are "senior administration officials", or however they are described.

You obviously believe that Bob Novak of the Chicago Sun-Times is not a reliable journalist. That is your prerogative.

The only way some information can get out, is if people can speak without fear of retribution against their careers, families, etc. Ask yourself if you would ever speak out on the record on an issue which could get you fired, cause your family to be targeted for hate crimes, or embarrass you publicly.

I don't subscribe to the theory that unnamed sources are so unreliable that they can be discounted out of hand. It has to be taken on a case-by-case basis.

Wed Aug 6 2003 5:34 PM


As a reader (and watcher) I have come to the conclusion that the news reporting media has the journalist intregrity of the National Enquirer. Obviously the idea of two independent sources for a "story" has fallen by the wayside. Give the janitor $20.00 and you have a reliable source in the pentagon. Or why bother leaving your apartment at all? Crawl out of the bed and start writing a story you saw on CNN or Fox or a Strsky and Hutch rerun, add a few fictitious details to make it you own. Who cares if your source was the morning news? If you work for the Times, it's not the editor.

Thu Aug 7 2003 5:42 AM

Paul in OC:


Nothing wrong with skepticism, as long as it's equal opportunity skepticism. The Republicans which I call "true believers" have a preconceived notion about the world and are intolerant of information or ideas which contradict that world view. So, they soak up the latest bizarre Limbaugh propaganda, but refuse to believe anything which, for instance, makes a Republican look bad.

We need more equal opportunity skeptics in this country, but we don't need any more people who are desparately trying to hang onto their world view, regardless of whether it matches reality or not.

For a laughable example, take the charges that the Clinton administration vandalized the offices and stole equipment before leaving. At the time, Republicans accepted the charges, because it corresponded to their world view that Democrats are irresponsible. A thorough investigation showed that whatever damage occurred was considered normal for an administration change, but I have yet to hear any Republican point out how sleazy it was for Bush administration officials to make these baseless allegations in the first place.

As a Democrat, I am able to criticize Davis. He's an unimaginative Governor for the special interests. I find very few Republicans who will find fault with any of their elected representatives. They reserve their skepticism for news which conflicts with their ideology.

That's not skepticism. That's bias.

Thu Aug 7 2003 11:30 AM


Who made the allegations that the Clinton administration had vandalized the offices? The Bush administration is blamed but WHO? If your source is a liar why not put the flames to his feet.

I go back to the unnamed anonymous high ranking official, apparently this guy gets around.

Thu Aug 7 2003 2:44 PM

Jim Gilliam
Jim Gilliam


Add to My Yahoo!

Last week's soundtrack:

jgilliam's Weekly Artists Chart