One foot in the door? Rums­feld’s tran­si­tion raises ques­tions

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Rowan Scar­bor­ough

For­mer De­fense Sec­re­tary Don­ald H. Rums­feld has left the Pen­tagon, but not the De­fense De­part­ment.

On Jan. 4, Mr. Rums­feld opened a gov­ern­ment-pro­vided tran­si­tion of­fice in Ar­ling­ton, Va. and has seven Pen­tagon-paid staffers work­ing for him, a Pen­tagon of­fi­cial said.

The Pen­tagon lists Mr. Rums­feld as a “non­paid con­sul­tant,” a sta­tus he needs in or­der to re­view se­cret and top-se­cret doc­u­ments, the of­fi­cial said.

Mr. Rums­feld and his aides, who in­clude close ad­viser Stephen Cam­bone, are sift­ing through the thou­sands of pages of doc­u­ments gen­er­ated dur­ing his ten­ure.

The Pen­tagon of­fi­cial said for­mer sec­re­taries are en­ti­tled to a tran­si­tion of­fice to sort pa­pers, some of which can be taken with them for a li­brary, for archives or to write a book.

The tran­si­tion of­fice has raised some eye­brows inside the Pen­tagon. Some ques­tion the size of the staff, which in­cludes two mili- tary of­fi­cers and two en­listed men. They also ask why the sort­ing could not have been done from the time Mr. Rums­feld re­signed Nov. 8 to when he left the build­ing Dec. 18.

The Pen­tagon of­fi­cial, who asked not to be named, said Mr. Rums­feld served nearly six years as sec­re­tary, more than any other de­fense chief but one, mean­ing he ac­cu­mu­lated an above-av­er­age pile of pa­per.

What’s more, Mr. Rums­feld man­aged the bu­reau­cracy via “snowflakes,” his typed di­rec­tives on white pa­per that fell all over the Pen­tagon by the hun­dreds.

Mr. Rums­feld, who re­signed un­der pres­sure af­ter Repub­li­cans lost con­trol of Congress in an elec­tion largely de­cided on the stale­mated Iraq war, re­port­edly is un­de­cided about his long-term plans. But he thinks he has a lot to con­trib­ute in the de­bate over new ideas and na­tional se­cu­rity. He has talked about writ­ing a book and ar­ti­cles on for­eign af­fairs, but he has made no fi­nal de­ci­sion.

Mr. Rums­feld’s two im­me­di­ate pre­de­ces­sors han­dled their tran­si­tions dif­fer­ently.

William Co­hen, Pres­i­dent Clin­ton’s last de­fense sec­re­tary, went straight to his new con­sult­ing firm in Wash­ing­ton, said a top ad­viser, Robert Tyrer.

The Pen­tagon set up an of­fice with two mil­i­tary per­son­nel to sort through his pa­pers for about six weeks.

“It was use­ful to have a place to make sure things were sorted cor­rectly and all is­sues of clas­si­fi­ca­tion strictly re­viewed and ob­served,” said Mr. Tyrer, who is now pres­i­dent of the Co­hen Group.

The un­clas­si­fied doc­u­ments were trans­ferred to the Univer­sity of Maine’s William S. Co­hen Cen­ter, he said.

Mr. Co­hen’s pre­de­ces­sor, William Perry, left of­fice in Jan­uary 1997 and re­turned im­me­di­ately to his home state of Cal­i­for­nia. He did not open a tran­si­tion of­fice in Wash­ing­ton. He be­gan teach­ing at Stan­ford Univer­sity, said Deb­o­rah Gor­don, his spokes­woman.

His pa­pers ar­rived in com­pact disc form and were de­posited at the Hoover In­sti­tu­tion on the Stan­ford cam­pus, she said.

Not com­pletely gone: Don­ald Rums­feld

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