Milbank: Rumsfeld Memo ‘Headed for the Hall of Fame of Cover-Your-Ass Memo Writing’

Last night on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank discussed the recently leaked Donald Rumsfeld memo that called for a “major adjustment” to our Iraq policy.

Milbank called the memo a “classic” example of “cover-your-ass memo writing in Washington.” Rumsfeld “listed every conceivable option” in his memo, Milbank says, to allow himself to claim, “Well, I recommended we go in that direction.” “This was something of an authorized leak by Rumsfeld’s people in order to protect his legacy here,” Milbank added. Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2006/12/milbank_rumsfeld.320.240.flv]


OLBERMANN: Time to call in our own Dana Milbank, national political reporter for the “Washington Post.” Dana, good evening.

MILBANK: Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: I have to say, I’ve fallen in love with the Dickens analogy. Forgive me for going to it again. This reads like Jacob Marley’s ghost warning Scrooge. How do you explain the discrepancy between what the Defense Secretary wrote in the memo, and what the President himself was saying on the eve of the midterms?

MILBANK: Oh, I don’t think we’re giving Don Rumsfeld enough credit for this. This is a classic. This is headed for the hall of fame of cover-your-ass memo writing in Washington, when we’ve already had a lot of those. Of course there’s a discrepancy between what the Secretary of Defense was saying and what the President was saying. But look at what he’s done here, is he’s listed every conceivable option so that he can now, and for future historians, say whatever the outcome in iraq, ‘Well I recommended we go in that direction.’ Because he has recommended increasing troops, decreasing troops, staying the same, adding trainers, just about every possible permutation.

OLBERMANN: Would that have been written with an expectation that he was not going to be retained? What would have happened if the Republicans had retained both the House and the Senate and there’d been no need to show Rumsfeld the door? Would this memo have not been a noose in which Mr. Rumsfeld would have found his neck?

MILBANK: Well, then his loyalists wouldn’t have leaked the memo. It seems pretty clear that this was something of an authorized leak by Rumsfeld’s people in order to protect his legacy here.