I am flabbergasted at what I heard Dr. Rice say this morning. If that's an example of the kind of work the National Security Advisor is doingessentially imposing nonmilitary constraints on what is supposed to be a purely military plan that only upon need will later be expanded to an integrated operations orderthen our current situation in Iraq becomes a lot easier to understand. Of course, all that Dr. Rice needed to do was walk across the street to the State Department and ask what a military plan really means, and how it becomes an operations order. Not only was Secretary Powell a high-ranking military officer… but he also served as National Security Advisor, and even if Dr. Rice disagreed with his particular advice he could at least help her understand what a "contingency plan" really means. The irony is that current officers who criticized Dr. Rice's statement could come perilously close to violating Article 88; fortunately, I am no longer subject to this provision. Further, any discussions by those with direct knowledge of the actual contents of the plans in question risk revealing classified information and capabilities. I thus expect a roaring silence from the five-sided building… even if I did not also expect Secretary Rumsfeld to summarily execute anyone who steps out of line.
None of this is to say that things were necessarily better or worse under Clinton, or under George II, or prospectively under Kerry. It is only to say that Dr. Rice's testimonyand this is just one example of several in this morning's "testimony"demonstrates pretty clearly that the funnel that was supposed to bring information from disparate sources into the White House wasn't working properly.