Bothcurrentandformerloyalistsof formerDefenseSecretaryDonaldH. Rumsfeld showed up to honor the man at his Pentagon send-off two weeks ago.
At a reception afterward in the Pentagon’sportraitcorridor,themood was surprisingly upbeat for a crowd that saw its leader resign over the Iraq war, in which Mr. Rumsfeld and his aides misjudged the enemy.
Reception-goers said history will vindicatethedecisiontooustSaddam Hussein as a way to ignite a democratic movement in the Middle East. Theythinkhistorywillalsolookkindly onMr.Rumsfeld’stransformationpolicies and his aggressive global approach to confronting al Qaeda.
One remarked that it was a good time for Mr. Rumsfeld to leave. The DemocratstakeoverCongressinJanuary and would have subjected Mr. Rumsfeld to hours of inquisition and repeated requests for documents.
Among the Rumsfeld alumni was Douglas Feith, the former undersecretaryofdefenseforpolicy.Mr.Feith, now teaching at Georgetown, is finishing a book on how the war on terror was planned.
Paul Wolfowitz, now head of the World Bank after serving as deputy defensesecretary,alsowasthere,chatting with federal appeals court Judge Laurence Silberman. Mr. Rumsfeld and Judge Silberman go back to the Richard Nixon administration and have stayed close friends.
Pentagon officials said new Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has asked political appointees to stay on thepayroll.Withonlytwoyearsleftto try to turn Iraq into a win, Mr. Gates doesnotwanttospendtimeworrying aboutconfirmingawholenewteamof assistant and service secretaries.
DeputyDefenseSecretaryGordon England has agreed to stay.
We noted in this column nearly six years ago that, as the Pentagon welcomed a new Defense Secretary Rumsfeld on the parade ground, a red-tailedhawkhoveredoverheadfor morethan30minutes.Mr.Rumsfeld, indeed,provedtobeahawkinthewar on terror.
At the Dec. 15 farewell ceremony, as honor guards positioned themselves and attendees waited for Mr. Rumsfeld to emerge from the Pentagon,abaldeagle,thesymbolofAmericanfreedom,flewatalowlevelright pasttheparadegrounds—asifoncue.