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Monday, July 04, 2005

Responsibilities overshadow order-following

Signs of Life at State - New York Times: "This page has not been shy about criticizing Ms. Rice, or in voicing its disappointment with her record as national security adviser. She had the president's ear, but she seemed to use it to tell him only what he wanted to hear. Her staff knew the evidence that Saddam Hussein was actively pursuing nuclear weapons was dubious at best, yet Ms. Rice fanned those fears to promote her boss's ill-advised invasion. In her new job, she has wrested Iraq policy from the Pentagon, and has demanded that the various religious and ethnic groups in Iraq work together. But Mr. Bush's delusional Iraq speech last week suggests the basic problems are as deep as ever."
I have had others argue that people in positions such as Ms. Rice are supposed to follow exactly the agenda of their superior. This was particularly in reference to Mr. Powell's unfortunate tendency to go along with that which many believed he did not agree. I feel strongly that such following is wrongheaded. When you have risen to such a position, it is incumbent upon you to act according to what you see as right rather than what you are told is right. The point of qualification for a position such as Secretary of State is that you have experience and knowledge that gives you understanding. In such a position, it is no excuse to suggest that you were following the agenda set by the one person above you whose qualification for office is simply that he was elected. As significant as that is, it is not such to override someone who is qualified to be Secretary of State. If the person in that office continues in that office and acts in ways that are contrary to integrity, it is that individuals total responsibility. One cannot say that Ms. Rice was anything but guilty of deception if she knew the truth and followed a different path. It is no excuse to say that Mr. Bush made her say it.

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