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Rumsfeld On War

"As you know, you go to war with the mechanical pen you have. It's not the real signature you might want or wish to have at a later time."

Rumsfeld to personally sign all condolence letters


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Comments (23)

I found it outrageous that ... (Below threshold)

I found it outrageous that Donald Rumsfeld didn't personally sign letters of condolence.

Our people are fighting and dying in that, apparently, God forsaken land of Iraq and Mr. Rumsfeld can't personally sign a letter of condolence to acknowledge someone's ultimate sacrifice! It seems to reflect a lack of humanity in him.

Maybe it is time for Donald to get the boot...

I'm so glad that some peopl... (Below threshold)

I'm so glad that some people find it vitally important that Donald Rumsfeld to manually sign these letters.

Next thing you know, they'll bitch about the fact that the Secretary of the Treasury doesn't sign every single dollar bill personally.

I found it outrageous th... (Below threshold)

I found it outrageous that Donald Rumsfeld didn't personally sign letters of condolence.

I find it outrageous that the MSM keeps looking for some artifical "tragedy" to stick to this administration. Whats next? Someone bought Rumsfeld a Coke and he didn't report it to the IRS? How about the now defunct "Armored Humvee" story that has been completely blown out of the water. Yawn...

People (i.e. Tim), get real. I highly doubt any Secretary of Defense has ever personally signed every single letter of condolence for each soldier that died under "his watch". If we had to, we would have to open the "Department of Homeland Apologists". No wait, we already have that. It's called MoveOn.Org.

If we had hundreds dying pe... (Below threshold)

If we had hundreds dying per day, I would understand that you cannot personally sign each letter; but, we don't have hundreds dying per day.

These kids made the supreme sacrifice for you and me, so I think 'Big D' could personally sign a few letters.

I'm not a squishy liberal if you want to know. I'm pro-Bush, but I also believe in 'keeping it real'. If the Bush administration is wrong, I'm going to say so. My support is not a 'blank check' and neither should yours.

Personally signing a letter of condolence for a fallen hero so that a loved one can have one more memory to cherish seems such a little thing doesn't it?

Why sign it? Why not sign it?

The category today is Satir... (Below threshold)

The category today is Satire and I'm really hoping your first response was just that, Tim.

I am a Marine, and I do not find it bothering at all that a condolence letter wasn't personally signed. I would be appalled to find out my family was complaining over a mechanical signature instead of remembering my sacrifice.

Thanks Marcus,An o... (Below threshold)

Thanks Marcus,

An opinion from a military man is a lot more authoritative than one from someone who's never been there.

Yeah, it's satire, but the subject does deserve some good discussion which it is getting.

It's good to get fired up before lunch sometimes...

Tim,Have you ever ... (Below threshold)


Have you ever had to just sign something before? You know had 10 papers in front of you that required your signature. Did you ever put any thought into it while you were signing? What's the difference if you sign things like a robot or have a computer do it for you? It's not like Rumsfield is typing up these letters himself, so really what does a real signature mean to the parents and family of the dead soldier? Nothing.

This ridiculous story doesn't say anything about the man Rumsfield is. It is just some stupid story that makes him look bad and right now the media is just piling on.

Mike,I once stood ... (Below threshold)


I once stood in line for a few hours in order to get a book personally signed by General Tommy Franks. I'm sure he was dead tired by the time he finished, but that book is a prized possession today. A personal signature can make a world of difference.

If Tommy Franks' signature means that much to me, I wonder how much Donald Rumsfeld's signature would mean to a family that lost a loved one in combat for our nation?

I do see your point though, thanks.

As long as the MSM has Rumm... (Below threshold)

As long as the MSM has Rummy in their sights, nothing he does or doesn't do will make a difference to them. As I recall hearing, there was a set of parents offended by the fact that Rummy didn't sign their letter. Obviously, these parents were in pain and were lashing out at anyone, or anything, to blame their pain on.

And only a small minded liberal would call for Rummy's ouster for not personally signing letters to parents. That is the stupidist thing I've heard for wanting him removed. Call for his ouster for something a little bit more on the scale of not providing beans and bullets - not for a signature.

My husband and I support Rummy, and will continue to. Oh - hubby's a 1SG in the Army.

I wish my point would have ... (Below threshold)

I wish my point would have made more of an impact because your analogy is just awful. You equate waiting in line for an autograph with the notice from the DOD that your son or daughter has been killed in combat. Think about how pathetic that comparison is. It actually made me sick to my stomack when I finished reading it. I doubt that letter and more importantly the signature even registers with most parents who have received word of their child's death. However, I can not speak to that because I have never gone through it, but I would never equate it to waiting in line for an autograph.

I'll just chime in to concu... (Below threshold)

I'll just chime in to concur with Marcus. I'm now retired from the Navy, but if I had been lost in combat, I'm 100% certain my family wouldn't have given a rat's patootie how the SecDef's signature got on a letter. They wouldn't have even cared if they got a letter from him. It's just such a non-issue.

And to bring it to our current situation, if my son, the Marine, were to be KIA in Iraq or Afghanistan, I'm pretty sure I'll be focusing on other things when SecDef's letter arrives. This whole thing is just silly.

My more comprehensive view on this subject and the numbskulls who are promoting it are here.

Yes, Rumsfeld should be jus... (Below threshold)
Sue Dohnim:

Yes, Rumsfeld should be just as efficient as every other politician by signing every condolence letter.

Not only that, but by taking his time to sign each and every letter, it takes away his time for any of his other duties that might stabilize or decrease the number of condolence letters, thus giving him more letters to sign.

A useless self-perpetuating job. In other words, typical government work.

Well, I completely agree th... (Below threshold)

Well, I completely agree that this isn't an issue of Rumsfeld the man, but about the MSM focusing on the Bush Administration-via-Rumsfeld to do what they do (and it seems, all that they do) and that is to try to find anything possible that they can fan into raging flames, get liberal blogs to start up about, get the fomenting going...

This sort of thing -- Rumsfeld not signing each and every condolesence letter himself -- is again one of those issues. I guess it's yet another example that Democrats have a lot of time to complain about petty issues such as this, but not enough time to think through to bigger issues and maybe contribute to alleviating Rumsfeld's and America's workload as to military/defense responsibilities.

I can understand that some grieving families would (mis)perceive a machine stamped signature as Rumsfeld "not caring" but I also perceive that as their grief talking. Rather than memorialize their lost loved one(s) they indulge in this sort of non productive wasteful "cause" and liberals are always right there at the ready to help them along in these non productive efforts. Not to demean or minimize survivors' grief, not at all, just that the "outrage" of this machine stamping signature issue seems to try to cast the attention on the grief itself of survivors and off the actual heroisim of those who gave their lives. Grief does strange things to our emotions and I'd say that this is one of those things, in all due respect.

What I can't figure out is McCain and also Lott and whattheheck they're so unaccepting about as to Rumsfeld. Are either of those two up for reelection in some near future time? Because this sure seems like one of those "reelect me" efforts by both McCain and Lott.

The SecDef should write a l... (Below threshold)
VA Jim:

The SecDef should write a letter, personally signed, to every single decedent's family that he personally knows. This was (is?) the sacred duty of every CO, to write a personal note of condolence to the family. Since the CO actually knew the soldier, the letter would be about the individual.

Just my opinion, but the letter should be personally signed from the CO minimum. Other letters --other COs or NCOs-- sent as warranted. All under an approval cover letter from the Office of the SecDef.

Dunno how this letter from the SecDef got started (why not the Generals, or the Pres?), but 'real' signature or not, the letters themselves aren't personal. They can't be, and it's unrealistic to expect it.

The use of the autopen by t... (Below threshold)

The use of the autopen by the various Secretaries of Defense, the Navy, etc., has been commonplace for decades.

I am very disappointed at the way fair-weather conservatives are bailing on Rumsfeld. Remember the halcyon days of 18 months ago, when he was being feted as not only a genius but a sex symbol? Yes, things have not gone particularly well since then, but overall it is hard to see how anyone could have done much better. The failure to discover that the regime was secretly making preparations for an insurgency was an intelligence failure, not a military planning failure. And the oft-mentioned idea that we could have kept the conscripted Iraqi army together is frankly ridiculous. Besides being responsible for terible atrocities against Shias and Kurds, that army was mostly held together by the Iraqi intelligence services, which had agents in every platoon holding guns to the conscripts' heads.

Does anyone remember Rummy ... (Below threshold)

Does anyone remember Rummy having surgery on his hand a while back...cast and all? I suspect that it was "the machine" took over signing letters and after that it became SOP. He just never was handed letters after that by secretary # 1 or #2 or #3 to sign.

Personally, while I mourn each loss deeply, I have reached an age in my life were I find it more important concentrating of each and every living member of our military. I want them home safe and in one piece!

The man has a major mission...let's stop these "Oprah" moments for heaven's sake.

Damn the MSM and political candidates for 2006 and 2008.

I think that someone has a ... (Below threshold)

I think that someone has a bone to pick and will use any excuse large or small to attack Rummy. Yes, that type of letter should have had more care put into it yet I'm assuming it is also a stock mass produced letter along the lines of dear___, It is with great sorrow you ___ ___ etc. Shall we crucify him for that also?

I think the most valuable letter would be the one from the CO and comrades. But let me ask this one question: Have any of the honorable members of congress sent a letter to the family of thier constitants? I assume that they would have alot less than Rummy to send, have they sent a personalized letter? What have they done for the families of the soldiers?

It is is easy to stand with the pack and throw stones at a target but are they guilty as well?

VA Jim: My thoughts were si... (Below threshold)
Patrick Chester:

VA Jim: My thoughts were similar. I thought the tradition of writing the letter to the next-of-kin was the responsibility of a more immediate commanding officer.

If I write a letter, I s... (Below threshold)

If I write a letter, I sign it (and you probably won't be able to read the signature).
I don't find this a case worth crucifixion, or even flogging with a wet noodle, but if I have to write a letter of condolence (or congratulation), I sign it by hand. Sometimes even with a fountain pen.
If Rummy doesn't, then it speaks a little of his perception of the process. Time/efficiency issues are probably part of his reasoning. I don't agree with it, but then whether he signs it by hand or not has little to do with his effect on the process of his job.
I see nothing to complain about except the warped MSM process of attempting to humiliate him.

Classic non-issue blown out... (Below threshold)

Classic non-issue blown out of proportion by the clowns in the media. I served in the Navy 25 years. Whether combat related or not the Commanding Officer of a deceased sailor writes a personal letter to the NOK. I was in administration most of my career and unfortunately helped with too many of these (not a lot but too many just the same). Most CO's would draw on their own memories of the deceased. However, a CO does not get a chance to know every person in their command that well. So, they would also talk to the supervisors and peers of the decedent. They would then scribble out a note which we would then type for their signature. To the family these letters with the personal anecdotes would mean much more than a basic form letter from the SECDEF or SECNAV who had never met their loved one. In the end none of the letters mean more than a family's loss.

As a side note, upon my retirement from the Navy I was presented several certificates. The one from the president was signed by an autopen and I'm no less retired than if he signed it personally.

Complainers were long-time ... (Below threshold)

Complainers were long-time Bush attackers with an agenda:

Brit Hume on Fox reported tonight that the only 2 families complaining about Rumsfeld's letters are long-time Bush attackers. (Burkett-types.) One of the mothers is Sue Niederer - the one who caused security concerns at Laura Bush's appearance at a firehouse. Niederer was escorted out and arrested. These complainers are not sincere, they have an agenda. See 9/22/04 article entitled "Secret Service Reviews Comments By Dead Soldier's Mom" at www.wnbc.com/news/3751305/detail.html

Also see picture 20 of 51 in the slide show at that link. What was that bulge on Niederer's right hip underneath the huge T-shirt?

I am sooo glad I have this ... (Below threshold)

I am sooo glad I have this blog to come to, just to see how low you Bush Apologists will stoop because you can't admit you f**ked up!

Does anyone remember Rummy having surgery on his hand a while back...cast and all? I suspect that it was "the machine" took over signing letters and after that it became SOP.

Hmm, back in August 2004, seems his hand was not stopping his squash game:


Go ahead, and take your frustrations at yet another embarrassing incident for Rummy and Bush, out on us Democrats! It's hilarious to watch you come up with all your wild, soulless conspiracy theories!

Fact is, Bush's approval was 55% in Nov, and now 49%. You don't have Kerry as a scapegoat and a shield, against the ineptness and failures of this administration, anymore. Americans care about body armor and signing condolence letters.

No more excuses.

interesting, everyone is be... (Below threshold)

interesting, everyone is beating up Rumsfeld for not personally signing the letters. but, does anyone know which Sec. of DOD did personally sign letters during combat situations? haven't heard that mentioned anywhere in the news.






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