A Right to Fire or an Obligation to Fire?

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Baldilocks says President Bush has the right to fire Donald Rumsfeld for not communicating how bad the offenses were earlier. In any job it's bad to withhold important information, and if you're in charge of the Pentagon it's even more serious. So this is the sort of thing that someone could easily be fired for. I wasn't sure Rumsfeld even knew how serious these charges were, though. Am I wrong about that?

She then goes on to say that, even if it's the sort of thing that could get someone fired, there's still no reason to insist that he must be fired for it. One issue is what many people have continued to emphasize, that Rumsfeld has done a very good job in general as Secretary of Defense. If he'd lied or somehow otherwise been part of a coverup, that would be reason to insist that he resign or be fired, but there's no evidence of such a thing. Everything that needs to happen to solve the problems seems to be happening. She argues that his resignation would accomplish nothing more and would harm the war effort.


They would first have to prove that he had foreknowledge of the events of torture, and either (a) actively encouraged, supported, or even planned these tortures, or (b) stood by passively and did nothing to prevent the atrocities. The hard part is that, because these crimes were perpetrated at such a low level (the most recently court-martialed soldier was a private first class), in order to prove that Rumsfeld condoned or planned it, the prosecutors would have to go up the entire chain of command and establish along the way who knew what and when. They would have to do pretty much what prosecutors at the Nuremburg trials did. I am not saying that it's impossible or that it did not take place, but the burden of proof would rest squarely on the shoulders of the prosecution.

No, the resignation outcry isn't assuming Rumsfeld was responsible for the torture. (If it is, then the people doing it are more stupid than I thought.)

It's because he didn't inform the president how severe the problems have been and because he's allowed the investigation to go on for so long.

OK. But the demand then is more of a PR backlash than a legitimate wrongdoing by Rumsfeld. It doesn't even measure up to "obstruction of justice" which worked pretty well against Nixon and a host of other political scapegoats.

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