Dayton v. Kennedy

Returning Senator Mark Dayton to the Ranks of the Idle Rich in 2006


Golden Oldie

The below is cut liberally (in the best sense of the word) from Captain's Quarters from the Spring of 2004. The incoherence is staggering. The ignorance about national security is blood curdling. To paraphrase Jon Lovitz's Michael Dukakis from a 1988 SNL bit: "How did Rod Grams lose to this guy?"

May 07, 2004
Minnesotans Owe You An Apology
I just heard the exchange between Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton, Donald Rumsfeld, and General Richard Myers at the Senate hearings regarding the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The transcript of the exchange has to be either read or heard to be believed. The worst of it -- but not all of it -- revolved around Myers' request to CBS to delay the publication of the pictures until the hot spots where troops were taking fire, and could conceivably be captured, until after they had pacified those areas. Dayton became hysterical at the notion that the military might ask the media to assist them in keeping American troops as safe as possible, under the circumstances:

DAYTON: Mr. Secretary, is that standard procedure for the military command of this country to try to suppress a news report at the highest level?

MYERS: It didn't -- let me just -- Senator Dayton, this is a serious allegation...

DAYTON: Sure is.

MYERS: ... and it's absolutely -- the context of your question, I believe, is wrong. ... This was not to suppress anything. What I asked CBS News to do was to delay the release of the pictures, given the current situation in Iraq, which was as bad as it had been since major combat ended, because I thought it bring direct harm to our troops; it would kill our troops.
We talked about it, and I said, "I know this report will eventually come out. But this -- if you can delay it for some period of time -- it would be helpful."

Dayton, a moment later, gave this speech:
DAYTON: I would just say, General -- and I agree with your assessment of the consequences of this on our troops, and that's the great tragedy of this, but attempts to suppress news reports, to withhold the truth from Congress and from the American people is antithetical to democracy. ... And whatever the intentions may be, sir, the result is always the same. And it's, I think, terribly tragic that the president, who wants to expand democracy around the world, by actions of his own administration is undermining that democracy in the United States.
That's always the result when people try to control information, delay it, manage it and suppress it, it has that result. It's antithetical to a democracy.

Rumsfeld had had enough at this point, and forcefully interjected:
RUMSFELD: May I speak a minute, Mr. Senator?
Throughout the history of this country, there have been instances where military situations have existed that have led government to talk to members of the media and make an editorial request of them that they delay for some period disclosing some piece of information. It is not against our history. It is not against our principles. It is not suppression of the news. And it's a misunderstanding of the situation to say it is.

DAYTON: It is against our principles. It's against our principles when you come before 40 to 45 members of the Senate three hours before that news report is going to occur and don't mention one word about it, sir.
That is antithetical to democracy and the Constitution, which has the Senate and the House as co-equal responsibility for this country.

No sooner had this ludicrous assertion escaped Dayton's lips, in contradiction to centuries of polite and proper interaction between the military and the media, than he challenged Rumsfeld and Myers to explain why they felt it was necessary to send tanks and troops into a war zone:

You're increasing the number of forces, the number of tanks over there. How can this have anything to do but to escalate the level of violence, the opposition of Iraqis, intensify the hatred across the Arab world to the United States, and more atrocities? How can this have any result other than to put us deeper into this situation and make the conditions there worse for our forces and for our nation and for the world?


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