December 23, 2004 | Broadcast

The Early Show

Mr. CLIFF MAY (Foundation For The Defense of Democracy): Good morning.

Mr. P.J. CROWLEY (Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress): Good morning.

SYLER: P.J.–actually, Cliff, let me start with you. Secretary Rumsfeld, as we said, came under fire and most recently, for notifying families who’d lost a loved one in Iraq, with a letter that was signed by an auto pen, by a machine. If he, in fact, does care for those families as he says he does, how is that allowed to happen?

Mr. MY: Well, I think he has said it shouldn’t of happened and–and he will correct that in the future. But the way it was allowed to happen is he is overseeing the fighting of a very, very difficult war, and when you’re doing that, you cut corners on other things that you may–that you my want to do. So I don’t think he defends it. I don’t defend it, but let’s understand what’s really important here. That is making the transformations necessary so that we can win a 21st century war, a kind of warfare we didn’t really plan for in the last century, and which is proving very, very challenging.

SYLER: Yeah, yeah. But–but–but Cliff, can you see where people would say that seems to be insensitive? These people are out there fighting for this country, and yet they can’t get a letter that is signed personally by the secretary of defense?

Mr. MAY: I can. But I would also say that the most important characteristic for a secretary of defense is not so much sensitivity as toughness. We are fighting a very real war. It is a war we have to learn how to win that is going to require the transformation of the military establishment, exquisitely designed to take on the Soviet Union. It no longer exists. We have a military establishment that can topple Saddam Hussein in a number of years but may have to give it back after a number of years. He has to work to transform the military to take on this kind of enemy. And as Sheila MacVicar pointed out, this is Ansar al-Sunna that did this–that did this terrible attack this week. Ansar al-Sunna is al-Qaeda linked. We have to fight this enemy and win against this enemy.

SYLER: All right.

Mr. MAY: And I don’t think he was right not to sign it himself, neither does he, but that’s not the real point here.

SYLER: OK, P.J., let me turn to you for just a moment. Senator John McCain says he has no confidence in Rumsfeld. He’s long been critical of his decision not to send more troops. Senator Chuck Hagel has also been somewhat critical. And yet no one’s asking him to resign. Why not?

Mr. CROWLEY: Well, I’m thinking he should resign, you know, and I–I’m not–I’m not thinking he should resign because he’s gruff. I think he should resign because he’s been wrong. I mean, this is Rumsfeld’s war. He has been the primary architect of–of where we are and we are not where we want to be and we’re not where we need to be five weeks before the election. This is the man who said that the insurgents were a bunch of dead-enders. Now we know, 21 months later, they’re a very dangerous, very resilient force. They’re adapting very tragically to the battlefield in Iraq. And I agree with Cliff, you know–you know, you measure a secretary of defense based on–on toughness, but you also measure a secretary of defense based on strategy. He is the one who told CENTCOM you don’t need 350,000 troops, you need 225,000 troops. The problem is, from day one, we have not had enough resources on the ground to do what we need to do in Iraq.

SYLER: Cliff, I have just about…

Mr. MAY: Rene.

SYLER: Go ahead. Go ahead, Cliff.

Mr. MAY: Two things to my friend, P.J., I want to say. One is, had we had more troops in the tent this week, we wouldn’t have had fewer casualties, we would have had more casualties. And second, you’re right, P.J., that the enemy that we faced was not quite understood but that’s because we have had insufficient intelligence, we’ve had it for years.


Mr. MAY: That too needs to be reformed by Porter Goss and others immediately.

SYLER: And gentlemen, that’s all the time we have for the debate this morning. We thank you for your time.

Mr. MAY: Thank you.