The Post-Gazette's Reg Henry (Revised)
"The mission was to kill people." (Comment today on CNN by the former number two leader of Al Qaeda in Indonesia outlining the group's "mission" in that country)
Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The world will little note nor long remember that fact, even though Henry is a moderately humorous individual.
The P-G is a strange place. It has some of the best journalist-reporters in the East, but it's editorialists generally look like a bunch of refugees from the old SDS of the 1960s.
The current editor has been getting rid of some of the worst offenders, including Ann McFeatters, mentioned in the previous postings. The worst of the columnists, including one Dennis Roddey, seem to appear less often, which is good.
Then, we have the old retainers, such as Reg Henry.
In today's column, Henry takes the standard liberal position that Don Rumsfeld has screwed up the Iraq War. He also criticizes President Bush and Vice-President Cheney for praising Rummy as "the finest Secret of Defense" in the nation's history.
Reg sees such a commendation, which is probably true, as unconscionable hyperbole. I speculate that very high praise is something that Reg retains for, oh, owners and editors at the Post-Gazette.
Columnist Henry believes it was unseemingly to have a commendatory send-off for Rumsfeld. He seems to think it would have been better for him to skulk off in disgrace.
(I submit that the Reg Henrys of the world -- not matter what fine gentlemen they be -- have no concept of how to react to mass murderers like those in Indonesia or Iraq. Don Rumsfeld didn't precisely know how either, but at least he tried, however imperfect his actions.
I read recently that Rummy's net worth was somewhere in the $100 million+ area. I speculate that if Reg Henry was worth, say, one-tenth that much, he wouldn't be doing some dirty job (like serving as Secretary of Defense) or writing a newspaper column. He could have stay in business and made another gazillion dollars.
A former Navy pilot, Rumsfeld served as the nation's youngest Secretary of Defense -- and later, as the oldest. He's devoted more hours of life to serving the public than Reg Henry has to sleeping. Now in 70s, Rumsfeld has paid out more in personal sacrifice and anguish than we as a nation have a right to demand.
While fighting two wars, Rumsfeld has re-modeled an army that was in no way ready to fight modern conflicts, dominated as they are by murderous, fanatical insurgents. He doesn't have the luxury we did in the days of yore, like World War II, when the draft allowed massive build-ups.
Rummy has been to Iraq 15 times -- and reportedly has visited Walter Reed Hospital with his wife dozens of times. I'm sure he has no illusions about the human cost of war.
Admittedly, he doesn't have a lot of respect for the Washington media. I remember one occasion when NBC's top defense reporter asked him if it was "sporting" (or fair) to attack Taliban forces who were in strategic retreat. He disliked reporters who hadn't taken the time to inform themselves about the nature of the War on Terrorism.
Reg, what you miss in your column is a central point: Al Qaeda (and their fellow insurgents) wants to kill Don Rumsfeld, Reg Henry, David Shribman, Tony Norman [Associate Editor of the P-G], Steve Maloney and all our friends and family members. There's nothing personal in it, just the spillover from fanaticism.
Do you believe we should do anything in response? Or are you neutral on the subject?I look forward to future columns telling us how you would deal with this situation.
But somehow I don't think tying a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree will suffice. When President Hillary comes in and we have a 9/11 twice a year or so, Reg Henry may get to repent at leisure . . . if you aren't spending all your time ducking for cover.
Personally, I have great respect for Rumsfeld, and I believe the country has lost a great leader. I also believe that, if I owned the P-G, people like Reg Henry would soon come around to my point-of-view.
After I wrote back to Mr. Henry, he sent me the following note (in red). I think the note demonstrates the kind of intellectual depth one gets with some P-G writers:
FOLLOWING IS MY RESPONSE TO AN E-MAIL FROM HENRY, ONE HE DOESN'T WANT REPRINTED:
That may be the reason the ISG disappeared without a trace? I devoted an entire column to the Post-Gazette and another one to you. I believe you're totally uninformed about the situation in Iraq, pre-2001 and post-2001. Iraq was a haven for terrorists under Saddam, and it included Abu Nidal, one of the world's most vicious terrorists. It also included a terrorist center at Salmon Park. In the north of Iraq, Ansar Al Islam (a subsidiary of Al Qaeda) had a major terrorist center, where they were experimenting with Ricin and Sarin Gas. Obviously, Al Qaeda in Iraq has decided to take a major stand in that nation, and its current leader said 4,000 Al Qaeda have been killed there (meaning it's probably 8,000).People "like me" know these things, and people like you could find them out if you checked out Google -- or shouted across the hall to your colleague Jack Kelly. Merry Christmas,steve maloney