For Donald H. Rumsfeld to resign over the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib would be a mistake, the four-member panel headed by James M. Schlesinger asserted Tuesday. But in tracing responsibility for what went wrong at Abu Ghraib, it drew a line that extended to the defense secretary's office.Glad they found Mr. Schlesinger, Secretary of Defense under Nixon (during Watergate) to do the digging and the blaming.
The panel cited what it called major failures on the part of Mr. Rumsfeld and his aides in not anticipating and responding swiftly to the post-invasion insurgency in Iraq. On the eve of the Republican convention, that verdict could not have been welcome at the White House, where postwar problems in Iraq represent perhaps President Bush's greatest political liability.
The report rarely mentions Mr. Rumsfeld by name, referring most often instead to the "office of the secretary of defense.'' But as a sharp criticism of postwar planning for Iraq, it represents the most explicit official indictment to date of an operation that was very much the province of Mr. Rumsfeld and his top deputies.
The panel sidestepped the broader, even more contentious, question of whether Mr. Rumsfeld had sent enough troops to Iraq. It focused instead on what it described as short staffing among the military police, who were outnumbered by prisoners by a ratio of 75 to 1 at Abu Ghraib, and at the headquarters of Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, whose 495-member staff numbered only about one-third of the authorized total.
Long story short: It's Rumsfeld's fault, but we're not going to blame him directly being that the convention is right around the corner.