Memo To: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Office of Strategic Influence
You are aware, Don, that over the 30 years I’ve known you, I have never failed to give you good advice. Sometimes you have taken it and profited. Sometimes you have ignored it, and not profited. I can’t recall any times when you took my advice and got burned. So I ask you to take seriously my counsel when I recommend you immediately shut down the infant Office of Strategic Influence (OSI). Cut your losses. Even President Richard Nixon was smart enough to backtrack after he ordered dopey uniforms that smacked of Groucho Marx and Fredonia, if not Kaiser Wilhelm, for the White House Secret Service. Unless you kill the OSI forthwith, it will be a millstone around your neck and President George W. Bush’s. I saw you being grilled on Meet the Press Sunday, and you came as close as you could to taking the Fifth Amendment when Tim Russert read from the NYTimes account, which you dismissed because it did not have any direct quotes from specific leakers. Otherwise, you knew nothing. Nothing. No siree. Nothing. Right under your nose your deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, has created an office with the specific intent of propagandizing the world, and you knew nothing.
I keep telling you, old buddy, that you should have been fired Wolfowitz long ago, as he kept encroaching on your job to the point where it seemed you were the press secretary and he was making policy. Vice President Richard Cheney finally had to call him to tell him to cool it. Wolfowitz operates under the instructions of Richard Perle, the most evil man in the world, whom you appointed chairman of the Defense Policy Board when instructed to do so by Wolfowitz, a junior grade Beelzebub. I may be exaggerating a bit, Don, but unless you exaggerate in dealing with these guys, you lose. As Finley Peter Dunne's fictional character Mr. Dooley once said, “Propaganda ain’t beanbag,” and Perle is a master of the art. A veritable Propaganda Poet! I do admire him and always want him on my side when we are at war, but the problem with Richard is that when we are at peace, he wants to be at war.
As long as the OSI has office space in the Pentagon and a budget that enables it to hire professional propagandists, you must realize that your denials will be worthless when you say it is not involved in disinformation designed to get us into war with Iraq, or some other country on Richard’s list. I’m not exaggerating much. One of the nation’s most seasoned investigative reporters told me a few months back, after talking to his various “deep throats,” that “Perle is running foreign policy in this town.” No kidding around. You don’t have time to think strategically, Don. That has never been your forte. You assign that function to the boys and do what they say, trusting in their judgment. Of course, if they are wrong, the world goes boom. If you follow back the World Trade Center far enough, you will find their “misjudgments” in the Reagan and Bush and Clinton administrations. That’s right, they have always been on the job, whether there is a Democrat or Republican in the White House. When the WTC came down, I could almost hear Perle mutter, “Whoops, collateral damage.”
If, as you told Tim Russert, there are not going to be any “dark” operations coming out of this new Pentagon office, if the Pentagon is not going to be purveying falsehoods, then there is absolutely no reason for OSI’s existence. If you allow it to function, it will eventually drive you nuts. More generals will leak more stuff to the NYTimes, and eventually you may have to take the fifth. Please, for your own sake, get rid of it now.