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Frontline and The Washington Post present 'Rumsfeld's War'

SHOWCASE | October 28, 2004

An outstanding report that breaks through the wall of secrecy in the Bush administration.

By Barry Sussman

In an excellent piece of journalism, PBS's Frontline and The Washington Post describe how, with defense secretary Rumsfeld at the helm, the American Army has reached a point where, according to some, it is almost "broken".

The 90-minute documentary aired Oct. 26th, 2004, and is available in its entirety online.

Two things about the report stand out: First, the extensive knowledge and sound commentary of the Post reporters, and second, the lucid, pointed statements by former military officers and others. At a time of so much secrecy in government, it's refreshing — even heartwarming — to watch high officials give what certainly appears to be an honest accounting of events and offer their views in an unrestrained fashion.

Make it three things that stand out: This is a documentary that tells a lot not only about Donald Rumsfeld and the condition of the military but also the workings of the Bush administration.

Some of the most striking statements came from Thomas White, the first secretary of the army under George W. Bush. White described a meeting in which he and General Eric Shinseki, then army chief of staff, clashed with Rumsfeld as the defense secretary sought to reduce the number of troops in the army.

"There were very strongly held views, myself and General Shinseki and others in the room, that this was not the right answer," White said. "The secretary, he just got up and walked out, which was a signal to all of us that he wasn't terribly happy with the results of the meeting."

Also taking part in the documentary, aside from the military figures and Post reporters, were journalist and author James Mann and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The program was produced by Michael Kirk.

(The Frontline Web site contains some material that goes beyond what was shown on TV.)

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