Bible quotes adorned covers of top-secret Rumsfeld intelligence reports

Published: May 17, 2009

Top secret military intelligence briefings prepared by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and often hand-delivered to George W. Bush featured Crusades-like Bible quotes above triumphant photos of the U.S. military effort in Iraq.

Less than one month after U.S. and coalition forces invaded Iraq in March 2003, a “Worldwide Intelligence Update” reached then-President Bush with the following quote on the cover of the briefing, above photos of jubilant Iraqi crowds in newly liberated Baghdad: “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him…To deliver their soul from death.”

One week earlier, on April 3, 2003, another of these reports reached Bush, and its cover contained a passage from the book of Proverbs: “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

Revelations of these top-secret briefings containing explicitly Christian messages appeared today on GQ magazine’s Web site.

Texan journalist Robert Draper, who wrote an authorized biography of George W. Bush called “Dead Certain,” obtained the cover sheets from a former Bush administration official. Draper writes:

These cover sheets were the brainchild of Major General Glen Shaffer, a director for intelligence serving both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense. In the days before the Iraq war, Shaffer’s staff had created humorous covers in an attempt to alleviate the stress of preparing for battle. Then, as the body counting began, Shaffer, a Christian, deemed the biblical passages more suitable.

Many inside the Pentagon, including one Muslim analyst, were offended by the biblical quotes, while others worried that the briefing cover sheets, if leaked, would do serious damage as the U.S. and its allied coalition of mostly Western troops prosecuted a war in an Islamic nation.

The Bible quotes adorned the reports in part because Rumsfeld wanted to forge a connection with his boss, Draper writes:

[P'ublicly flaunting his own religious views was not at all [Rumsfeld]’s style…but it was decidedly Bush’s style, and Rumsfeld likely saw the Scriptures as a way of making a personal connection with a president who frequently quoted the Bible.

Rumsfeld was intensely disliked by many high-level Bush administration officials, who wished he had been fired long before he actually was, Draper reports.

“Though few of these individuals would speak for the record (knowing that their former boss, George W. Bush, would not approve of it),” Draper writes, “they believe that Rumsfeld’s actions epitomized the very traits—arrogance, stubbornness, obliviousness, ineptitude—that critics say drove the Bush presidency off the rails.”

Additional images of “Worldwide Intelligence Update” cover sheets can be found at the URLs below.