Should DoD Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resign over abuse of prisoners scandal?

Readers thinks the Secretary of Defense should resign as a result of the recent Iraqi prison abuse scandal.

Should Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld resign?

A recent nationwide poll found that 66% of Americans believe the Secretary of Defense should not resign.

Polls of federal employees generally tend to come out on the more liberal end of the political spectrum than nationwide polls on political issues. This latest issue is not an exception.

When we asked readers whether the Secretary of Defense should resign in our poll this week, 52% of those responding say he should resign, 44% say he should not and the remainder are not sure.

As to the question of whether Secretary Rumsfeld will resign, 80% of respondents say he will not and 10% think he will leave his post. 10% are undecided on the question.

There are strong feelings on both sides of the issue. Here are a few of the comments in support of and against his resignation.

A business manager from NASA in California wrote: “The day congress is responsible for every person in the state they represent (to include murderers, rapists, etc) is the day Rumsfield should be held accountable for every soldier in the military.”

An equipment specialist from Defense Logistics Agency said: “I don’t excuse what our soldiers did, but I want to hear some apologies from the Arab world for the Atrosities they have commited aganist us.”

A management analyst in Rock Island, IL had this to say: “The Sec Def is responsible for everything that happens in DoD, but he does not control the military in the combat lines. The Gens, officers and NCOs are the ones who need to be held accountable for the operations of the prison.”

A civil engineer with the Forest Service defended Rumsfeld: “Even though some feel SOD is ultimately responsible, he’s not the one ultimately to blame. Direct line of command has that responsibility. A commanders head needs to roll. If we’re going to fire every official of state because the Democrats don’t like em, we’ll surely introduce a non-effecttive government and a real PC bunch that will for sure get us killed.”

A defense planner in San Diego, CA thinks Rumsfeld should leave: “Resign now or drag Bush though the coming muddy slime with you, get out now. You had no plan. Now we got to fix your mess, you know you don’t know what your doing so get out of the way and lets creat a plan thats real.”

An HR specialist with the IRS feels: “Everyone condemns the acts of these few troops. They acted despicably and should be held accountable. Having Rumsfield resign only serves to aid the enemy. The incident is inappropriately being politicized. They need to find those who ordered and those who had a direct hand in the prisoner abuse and punish them in accordance with military law. I only wish the muslim community had been this outraged over Saddam’s crimes.”

A classification specialist from Huntsville, AL said: “What happened was unfortunate and not an act of good judgement. BUT, a huge question looms or should—to all of us including the MEDIA. What was the root cause of the actions by our troops? Are they sitting in the safery of a news room someplace OR are they in a combat zone? Have they seen the jeering crowds around the dead bodies of their comrades? Have they been jeered by the mobs? Have they seen or heard about their comrades being hanged and burned from a bridge? Do they experience deep fear and anxiety everytime they get in a military vehicle for fear of running over a bomb planted in the road? Instant death!!Get the picture!!!! Fear!! How many of us have moments of anxiety everytime we board an airplane—-here in safe America. Compare that to being a troop in Iraq. Why is there so much precaution on safety (and at great cost) at our airports? We all know the answer. Remember the Twin Towers? Remember why JFK chased the Russians out of Cuba. This is why we are in Iraq. We must be careful about unchecked criticism.”

A secretary for the VA in South Dakota says: “Why should he resign? Did he do the actual abuse? If he investigates and takes care of the situation, he should not be blamed.”

A NASA retiree in Florida views the question this way: “The Iraqi prisoner mistreatment is a badge of shame for every American to carry. Those responsible need to be dealt with harshly. The ongoing investigations would have to show pretty egregious conduct on Secretary Rumsfeld’s part to cause him to resign in the midst of a war. If the evidence leads to his doorstep, however, then he should do what is best for the nation, do the professional thing, and resign. Unfortunately, recent history is replete with examples of politicians and political appointees who forget the best interests of the public they serve and tenaciously cling to their office or position out of self interest even though by doing so they hurt the country. It is clear heads need to roll in the Iraqi prisoner scandel, but it seems premature to decide that Rumsfeld’s is one of them until all the facts are in.”

A quality assurance specialist thinks some heads will roll but not the Defense Secretary. “No one in the Bush Administration seems willing or able to take responsibility for anything. If they can’t blame things on the previous administration as they usually do, they place it elsewhere. This will be no different. Those at the bottom of the food chain will be literally fed to the dogs, while others more senior and who certainly deserve part of the blame will escape unscathed.”

An attorney with the Dept. of Justice supports resignation: “The only way to show this conduct is unacceptable is for the top leadership to take responsibility for failing to ensure his people acted properly, by resigning. Just mouthing the words has no conviction.”

A nurse in Bethesda, MD has harsh words: “The Bush leadership set up a climate for such abuse by negating the Geneva Convention rights for the prisoners on Guantanamo. I am ashamed that our country is seen by the rest of the world torturers and abusers. Wasn’t that the reason we went to Iraq? To free the people from the terror of Saddam Hussain? Get real Mr. Bush. No one believes a thing you say anymore.”

An electronics technician from Tobyhanna, PA thinks the Secretary should leave: “This is a travesty against civilized behavior and a blight on our society and our military. All, from the bottom to the top, should be held fully accountable for these deplorable actions. I am disgusted and saddened when I see the photos of the prisoners and read accounts of the abuses. Further, I am disgusted when I hear people comparing this situation with how our military prisoners and contractors are treated at the hands of their captors.”

Thanks to all readers who took the time to vote and to those who also took the time to send in their opinion.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47