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"There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity."~~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

If it weren't so dangerously sad, the media gyrations to deflect attention from the sordid mess defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld has made in Iraq would be amusing. But efforts to hide the truth are futile because Rumsfeld is literally surrounded by "stars" -- retired general officers speaking publicly about the fatal mistakes Rumsfeld made in his mad dash to "sweep everything up" and dash blindly off to war.

CNN and the Boston Globe say there are six officers, Fox News says "a handful," the New York Times says seven, the Christian Science Monitor plays it safe with "several," and Rumsfeld himself laughs it off with "two or three out of thousands."

There seems to be eight so far -- Gen. Eric Shinseki, former Army Chief of Staff, was cut off at the knees a year before his retirement for testifying under oath during a Senate hearing a month before the assault on Iraq that it would take "several hundred thousand" troops to quell ethnic tensions that could lead to an insurgency.

He was soon joined by Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former CENTCOM commander; Lt.Gen. Greg Newbold, Director of Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the war planning; Maj.Gen. John Batiste, former 1st Infantry Division commander; Maj.Gen. Charles Swannack, former commander of the 82d Airborne Division in Iraq; Maj.Gen. John Riggs who, after 39 years in the Army, retired from the Pentagon in 2005; Maj.Gen. Paul Eaton, who oversaw training of Iraqi troops from 2003-2004 and Gen. Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander.

Pay Attention!

We are now victims of a full-bore public relations assault. White House bullhorns and media mockingbirds are out in force, only too happy to be diverted from discussing the treasonous Bush/Cheney/Rove/Libby leak of an undercover CIA operative or from investigating the restless murmurings of an impending nuclear attack on Iran. The punditry brigade, including former military brass on media payrolls as "analysts" immediately began regurgitating talking points from a Pentagon memo hurriedly sent out when criticism began to gain momentum. They were then summoned en masse to the Pentagon for a briefing on the miraculous successes of Iraqi Operation Let God Sort 'Em Out.

CNN jumped out in front of the pack with a continuous loop of a staged video package showing Marines training top-notch Iraqi troops while winning "hearts and minds" of grateful Iraqi citizens, followed quickly by an article defending Rumsfeld. The issue soon became a disorderly political media debate on whether the generals were at war with each other, if they were attempting a coup of their civilian leaders or were merely rats deserting a sinking ship.

The brothers Limbaugh went into complete meltdown. Rush's head exploded as he shrieked that the generals were just a bunch of malcontents hooking up with the "liberal drive-by media" to get rid of Rumsfeld for attempting to fix the mess President Clinton made of the military. David took each general to task for joining the anti-Bush liberal media vultures who "have hovered over Rumsfeld's stubbornly vibrant carcass for way too long..."

Then, Rumsfeld, like Dick Cheney does when he needs to "catapault the propaganda," picked up the phone and called the drug-addled, dangerously ignorant "El Rushbo" to reassure millions of panting dittoheads that those who oppose him or criticize his handling of the war are being manipulated by terrorists like Zarqawi, Bin Laden and Zawahiri.

It didn't help matters when four retired generals penned an April 17 Wall Street Journal op-ed defending Rumsfeld and scolding their outspoken peers.

"We do not believe that it is appropriate for active duty, or retired, senior military officers to publicly criticize U.S. civilian leadership during war," they wrote, and added that the feelings of those who had come forward were "irrelevant." They went on to single out Zinni and Newbold, saying the two "do not understand the true nature of this radical ideology, Islamic exremism, and why we fight in Iraq." They then neatly connected the war in Iraq to 9-11 by smugly suggesting Zinni and Newbold "listen to the tapes of United 93."

Generally speaking

Who are these four men? Unlike those who were in Iraq and are alarmed at the chaotic, snarled disorder of Rumsfeld's leadership, the four Journal writers are warriors of a different era and were not involved in the planning or execution of the ongoing slaughter.

I suspect that Lt. Gen. John S. Crosby, my former boss for whom I have tremendous admiration and respect, now director of the government's Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP), and Maj. Gen. Burton R. Moore, director of legislative liaison for the Air Force, allowed their names to be used because of a sense of honor and conviction that commissioned officers, whether active or retired, do not speak out against their civilian leaders, especially in a time of war.

However, the Journal and other media failed to mention that the latter two -- Vietnam-era Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, former assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force, and Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, former deputy commander of US Army, Pacific, are paid Fox News analysts and active, aggressive, warmongering Bush supporters.

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Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a Managing Editor for OpEd News, and a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites.

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