Thursday, February 26, 2004
Rats Leaving A Sinking Ship
February 18, 2004
The Secretary of Defense
Dear Mr. Secretary,
Thank you for finding time to see me on February 10. As I said then, the meeting of the Defense Policy Board would be my last, after 17 years of continuous membership under both Democratic and Republican administrations. It was a great privilege to serve on the DPB, but never more so than during your leadership. You have been open to ideas from all members of the group, challenging conventional wisdom and accepted doctrine and examining complex policy issues with great care, wisdom and courage.
Since there is bound to be speculation about my departure from the DPB, I thought I would put what I said to you in writing.
Despite heated disclaimers, my membership on the defense policy board has led many people to see my articles, books and television appearances to associate my views with those of the administration or the Department of Defense. This results partly from a misunderstanding about the role and nature of the Defense Policy Board, exacerbated by the controversy surrounding policies I have advocated as a private citizen. A television viewer or newspaper reader, accustomed to zoning boards, school boards and appeal boards, is likely to think that the Defense Policy Board actually makes decisions, and that a member of it must be in a position to speak authoritatively about administration policy. The fact that the Defense Policy Board is not a decision making body but is simply a forum enabling the Secretary of Defense to hear a variety of opinions and observations (often opposed to one another) is simply not understood by the general public
We are now approaching a long presidential election campaign, in the course of which issues on which I have strong views will be widely discussed and debated. I would not wish those views to be attributed to you or the President at any time, and especially not during a presidential campaign. This is particularly true now since I have just published a book that calls for far reaching reform of government departments responsible for combating terrorism. Many of the ideas in that book are controversial and I wish to be free to argue them without those views or my arguments getting caught up in the campaign.
So it is with gratitude for the opportunity to serve the Department of Defense that I wish to resign from membership on the Defense Policy Board.
With admiration for your service to the nation and the cause of freedom, I remain, sincerely yours,
Accordng to the ABC News report Rumsfeld didn't ask him to resign, but the text I emphasized is a rare admission by a member of the inner circle that neocons are no longer the kids of the moment. Rumor has it Karl Rove's it's the economy stupid-type internal campaign slogan this time around is No War in '04 ... perhaps Fat Karl had a little talk with Perle.