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I saw up close how Rumsfeld deliberately caused the deaths of US troops for personal gain. He deserves a special place in hell

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While I never met Donald Rumsfeld in person, our paths crossed indirectly on several occasions. What I learnt from these experiences hardened my heart toward a man who caused so much harm based on actions that placed ambition over integrity.

In the days following my September 3, 1998, testimony before a joint session of the Senate Armed Forces and Foreign Affairs Committees, where I challenged the US government’s inconsistent policies regarding the disarmament of Iraq, I received a letter from the former defense secretary. When I heard yesterday that Rumsfeld had passed away at the age of 88, I re-read the letter and ruminated about the man who wrote it, and how I felt about him in retrospect.

Any direct communication from a former cabinet member – especially a secretary of defense – is not to be trifled with, especially if it is complimentary in tone and content.

“Dear Mr. Ritter,” Rumsfeld wrote, “I watched you on C-SPAN as you presented your testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”

“It was a superb job. You presented your position thoughtfully, constructively, and forcefully, and were not blown by the winds from the other side of the table. Congratulations on your testimony. Congratulations on your performance on behalf of the UN and the United States. Know that you have my best wishes for what I am confident will be a superb future. We need more people like you in our wonderful country, and the example you are setting is a proud one.”

Rumsfeld’s letter gave me pause. Up until that time, I’d had no direct connection with the man. I knew of him by reputation only, first as secretary of defense under President Gerald Ford who, together with the then-White House chief of staff Dick Cheney and a Pentagon official named Paul Wolfowitz, helped promulgate exaggerated claims of Soviet strategic nuclear capability through a so-called ‘Team B’ of politicized analysts whose mission was to second-guess a more nuanced and balanced assessment delivered by the CIA.

The Team B assessment went on to influence the national security policies of the Reagan administration, leading to a nuclear arms race coupled with a dangerous escalation of tensions between the US and the Soviet Union that nearly manifested itself on more than one occasion in the kind of nuclear conflict that would have ended the world as we knew it.

As I was someone who had helped the US and the Soviet Union climb down from the threat of conflict premised on exaggerated threats through the vehicle of verifiable disarmament, the cabal of conspiracy theorists with whom Rumsfeld had found common cause did not register high on my list of people whose opinion I........

© RT.com

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