Thursday, January 25, 2018

Rumsfeld Snowflakes Come in from the Cold

Washington D.C., January 24, 2018 - On the day before September 11, 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld believed the gravest threat to American national security was Pentagon bureaucracy, according to “snowflakes” he wrote that were released by the Defense Department after a five-year Freedom of Information Act fight and lawsuit by the National Security Archive.

At 10:15 AM on September 10, Rumsfeld authored a snowflake – the term used to describe his usually one-page, often one-sentence, memos that he sent to his underlings to ask a question or issue an instruction – bemoaning the quantity of DOD agencies, surgeons general, inspectors general, judge advocates general, Congressional Relations functions, and Public Affairs functions. He concluded the memo by asking, “Is this all really necessary?” In a separate September 10 item, he pondered abolishing the Armed Forces Staff College.

The same day, Rumsfeld gave a speech warning, “This adversary is one of the world’s last bastions of central planning. It governs by dictating five-year plans. From a single capital, it attempts to impose its demands across time zones, continents, oceans, and beyond….You may think I’m describing one of the last decrepit dictators of the world [but] the adversary’s closer to home. It’s the Pentagon Bureaucracy.”

The September 10 memo is one page out of an estimated 59,000 pages the Pentagon has begun to provide in segments to the Archive in response to its FOIA suit.

The Department of Defense is now releasing the snowflakes on a rolling monthly basis. In addition to highlighting particular items, the Archive is posting them in their entirety online as they become available to us on a special section of our website named "Rumsfeld’s Snowflakes."

The full corpus of snowflakes is a critical historical resource. The snowflakes serve as a sort of ultimate Pentagon chronology, touching on such diverse DOD issues as staffing, Rumsfeld’s personal requests, advice from such notables as Frank Gaffney and Newt Gingrich, communications from Rumsfeld to President George W. Bush, relations with Russia, China, and other nations, and the DOD’s strategy and conduct in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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