When TIME reported in January 2005 that a reporter had helped Army specialist Thomas Wilson “craft” the question he asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about U.S. troops having inadequately armored vehicles, I wrote in a letter published by TIME:
That should in no way detract from the seriousness of the shortages and the problems that our troops are facing in combat in Iraq. It does not make Rumsfeld’s answer — “You go to war with the Army you have” — less callous or arrogant. And it certainly does not make the deaths and horrific injuries suffered by our troops less real or less painful to bear because they lack such protection.
It has now been more than six years since that incident and apparently the man has not changed one iota.
As reported by the Stars and Stripes and The (Tacoma) News Tribune, Joppa-Haggerman, the widow of an Army Ranger who blames the military for her husband’s recent suicide, appeared at a Donald Rumsfeld’ promotion for his memoir “Known and Unknown” at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
According to the news reports, “Joppa-Hagemann introduced herself to Rumsfeld by handing him a copy of her husband’s funeral program. She then told him her husband had joined the military because he believed the lies told by Rumsfeld during his tenure with the Bush administration…”
The Tacoma News Tribune:
Joppa-Hagemann complained about Rumsfeld’s response Friday to her account of Staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann’s multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and his death at age 25. Hagemann belonged to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
She recounted her husband’s painful story of eight deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, his battle with PTSD, and eventual suicide, for which she blamed the military and Rumsfeld.
According to the website “Coffee Strong,” Rumsfeld’s only response was “to callously quip, ‘Oh yeah, I heard about that.’”
The News Tribune:
A base spokesman said Saturday that the pair were causing a minor disturbance.
“Two people were quietly and peacefully escorted out of the PX after they caused a disturbance at the book signing,” public affairs officer Bud McKay said.
Joppa-Hagemann said the pair spoke calmly and weren’t trying to make a scene. She should have been allowed to finish talking to Rumsfeld, she said.
Whether Joppa-Hagemann made a scene or not, what people will remember about this incident are Rumsfeld’s condescending and callous words, so reminiscent of his “You go to war with the Army you have ,” back in 2005.
Whether, as the Secretary of Defense of our nation, responding to a soldier telling him about the shortages and problems American combat troops were facing fighting his war in Iraq, or whether, as a book flogger, responding to a widow telling him about the loss of her husband, Mr. Rumsfeld’s callousness has not changed.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.