Does U.S. Defense Secretary abide by Rumsfeld’s Rules?

Reading between the lines on PDF-based life principles in light of Iraq prison scandal

With the alleged mistreatment of detainees being held in an Iraq prison representing just the latest Middle East policy crisis for the U.S. federal government — requiring Pres. George W. Bush to speak directly to the Arab world via select regional media yesterday — some in Congress are calling for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, Bush’s colorful and often controversial Secretary of Defense.

The president has so far indicated continued support for Rumsfeld, despite reportedly issuing a ‘mild rebuke’ to his top Defense Department administrator yesterday for failing to adequately share critical details with the White House in advance of media coverage depicting the humiliating, unlawful treatment of prisoners by U.S. soldiers and associated personnel.

As photographs and other relevant evidence continue to emerge — which could eventually dictate the eventual fallout from and impact of the international incident — speculation is growing as to whether Rumsfeld will fall (willingly or not) on his sword for the troubled Bush Administration. One place to look for guidance could be a document authored by Rumsfeld several years ago that we previously highlighted in the Planet PDF Weblog.


The so-called ‘Rumsfeld’s Rules [PDF: 40kb] is, as we noted earlier, a ‘compilation of wisdoms, witticisms and uncommonly common sense’ related to leadership that Rumsfeld began collecting in the 1970s. An official, copyrighted version was first posted online in January 2001, then updated most recently in September 2002.

The topical sections are:

  1. Serving in the White House
  2. Keeping Your Bearings in the White House
  3. Doing the Job in the White House
  4. Serving in Government
  5. Politics, Congress and the Press
  6. For the Secretary of Defense
  7. On Business
  8. Life

Some Rumsfeld truisms from the document’s opening section that seem especially pertinent to the current conundrum include:

  • ‘If you foul up, tell the President and correct it fast. Delay only
    compounds mistakes.’
  • ‘Preserve the President’s options. He may need them.’
  • ‘The price of being close to the President is delivering bad news.
    You fail him if you don’t tell him the truth. Others won’t do it.’
  • ‘You and the White House staff must be and be seen to be above
    suspicion. Set the right example.’
  • ‘Remember the public trust. Strive to preserve and enhance the
    integrity of the office of the Presidency. Pledge to leave it
    stronger than when you came.’
  • ‘Don’t blame the boss. He has enough problems.’

Then there’s this one that those who opposed Rumsfeld’s initial support for the preemptive, U.S.-led attack of Iraq would likely underline:

‘It is easier to get into something than to get out of it.’

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About the Author: Kurt Foss

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