Inside the Beltway: Rules a la Rumsfeld

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America is not what is wrong with the world. If you expect people to be in on the landing, include them in the takeoff. You get what you inspect, not what you expect. If you’re coasting, you’re going downhill.

When negotiating, never feel that you are the one who must fill every silence. The only thing that should be surprising is that we continue to be surprised.

You go to war with the army you have — not the army you might wish you have. A’s hire A’s and B’s hire C’s.

America’s economy was built on fortitude, not fear. “Stay in your lane” is not my favorite phrase. Learn to say “I don’t know” — if used when appropriate, it will be often. If you develop rules, never have more than 10.

— A dozen of the 400 rules suggested in “Rumsfeld’s Rules: Leadership Lessons in Business, Politics, War, and Life,” a new book by Donald Rumsfeld, published Tuesday.

ATTN: MR. HOLDER

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus ramped up the hostilities between The Associated Press and the Justice Department by calling for the resignation of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. after news surfaced that the department had seized phone records from the wire service.

“The First Amendment doesn’t request the federal government to respect it. It demands it,” declared Mr. Priebus, adding that if President Obama does not ask for the aforementioned resignation, “the message will be unmistakable: The president of the United States believes his administration is above the Constitution and does not respect the role of a free press.”

Associated Press President and CEO Gary Pruitt, meanwhile, is ready for Part 2.

He himself launched the first volley Monday with a public letter to Mr. Holder, and a message to America that the records seizure was an “unprecedented intrusion.” Mr. Pruitt, in turn, received a reply letter within 24 hours from Deputy Attorney General James Cole, who advised that investigating phone records “is undertaken only after all other reasonable alternative investigative steps have been taken.” Mr. Holder reinforced the idea during a news conference Tuesday.

But this battle moves quickly. In timely wire service style, Mr. Pruitt immediately fired off a public reply, noting, “We appreciate the Dept. of Justice’s prompt response, but it does not adequately address our concerns. The letter simply restates the law and claims that officials have complied with it.”

RSVP MR. HOLDER

Journalists are ready to rumble. The American Society of News Editors deems the Justice Department’s seizure of wire service phone records both “outrageous” and “appalling,” among other things.

“This is a disturbing affront to a free press. It’s also troubling because it is so consistent with an administration that has aggressively investigated disclosures of classified information to reporters,” says the group’s director Arnie Robbins, who says he would be “delighted” if Mr. Holder would attend the group’s convention next month at a hotel just four blocks from the White House.

And from Vincent Duffy, chairman of the Radio Television Digital News Association: “This unprecedented invasion of privacy involving confidential information is a blatant violation of basic rights afforded by the First Amendment. This action is unwarranted and absolutely strikes at the heart of the press freedoms we cherish in the United States.”

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