Just a few passages from the transcript:You simply cannot deal with all the challenges that government has to deal with, meet all the demands that government has to meet in the modern age, in the 21st century, without admitting that it is hugely complex. That doesn’t mean you have to add a Department of Homeland Security with 70,000 disparate entities thrown under somebody in order to handle them. But it does mean that your bureaucracy has got to be staffed with good people and they’ve got to work together and they’ve got to work under leadership they trust and leadership that, on basic issues, they agree with.
And that if they don’t agree, they can dissent and dissent and dissent. And if their dissent is such that they feel so passionate about it, they can resign and know why they’re resigning. That is not the case today. And when I say that is not the case today, I stop on 26 January 2005.
I don’t know what the case is today. I wish I did. But the case that I saw for 4 plus years was a case that I have never seen in my studies of aberration, bastardizations, [inaudible], changes to the national security [inaudible] process. What I saw was a cabal between the Vice President of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the Secretary of Defense and [inaudible] on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.
And then when the bureaucracy was presented with those decisions and carried them out, it was presented in such a disjointed incredible way that the bureaucracy often didn’t know what it was doing as it moved to carry them out.
Read George Packer’s book The Assassin’s [Gate] if you haven’t already. George Packer, a New Yorker, reporter for The New Yorker, has got it right. I just finished it and I usually put marginalia in a book but, let me tell you, I had to get extra pages to write on.
And I wish, I wish I had been able to help George Packer write that book. In some places I could have given him a hell of a lot more specifics than he’s got. But if you want to read how the Cheney Rumsfeld cabal flummoxed the process, read that book....[snip]
So you’ve got this collegiality there between the Secretary of Defense and the Vice President. And then you’ve got a President who is not versed in international relations. And not too much interested in them either.
And so it’s not too difficult to make decisions in this, what I call Oval Office cabal, and decisions often that are the opposite of what you thought were made in the formal process.