For years, at the Pentagon press podium, Lawrence di Rita helped Donald Rumsfeld lie to the American people. Now, I see via Abu Muqawama that he’s taken to the Washington Post to continue to attack the legacy of a much better man, ret. Gen. Eric Shinseki, who told the truth about the force requirements for occupying Iraq.
DiRita’s basic argument is that Shinseki’s reputation is constructed around a “myth” of resistence to the Bush administration. It’s a curious argument — the mouthpiece for the former secretary of defense is actually arguing that Shinseki should have dissented more from his ex-boss’s ludicruous and irresponsible proposals if he wants to be considered truly a dissenter. But this is just an outright lie:
Shinseki was not forced from office. He retired on time in June 2003, with the full honors due a retiring chief of staff of the U.S. Army.
What DiRita is hoping you don’t understand is that Rumsfeld announced over a year before Shinseki’s scheduled retirement that he was in the market for a new Army chief of staff after the two men tousled over an Army artillery system. It was a typically classy and productive way to handle things. DiRita might be literally correct that Shinseki wasn’t formally fired, but the actual context of what happened makes his statement have the same relationship to the truth as most of his official statements from the Pentagon press shop. Here’s how ret. Gen. Paul van Riper described the reaction to Rumsfeld’s premature cashiering of Shinseki:
The idea that DiRita is interested in the truth is just too absurd to take seriously. What rankles him is that Shinseki was right and Rumsfeld was wrong, and everyone knows it. This effort to get people to believe DiRita instead of their own lying eyes is an artifact of the Bush era that most people are happy to see drift off into the distance on another month and five days.