A couple of weeks ago, answering a question from a student after giving a speech at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, Bush provided a hint of the emotional texture of his extraordinary dependence on his Secretary of Defense. “My question,” the young woman said,
is in regards to private military contractors. The Uniform Code of Military Justice does not apply to these contractors in Iraq. I asked your Secretary of Defense a couple months ago what law governs their actions.
The President: I was going to ask him. Go ahead. (Laughter) Help. (Laughter)
Q: I was hoping your answer might be a little more specific. (Laughter) Mr. Rumsfeld answered that Iraq has its own domestic laws, which he assumed applied to those private military contractors. However, Iraq is clearly not currently capable of enforcing its laws. . . . Mr. President, how do you propose to bring private military contractors under a system of law?
The President : I appreciate that very much. I wasn’t kidding. (Laughter ) I was going to—I pick up the phone and say, Mr. Secretary, I’ve got an interesting question. (Laughter ) This is what delegation—I don’t mean to be dodging the question, although it’s kind of convenient in this case, but never— (laughter ). I really will—I’m going to call the Secretary and say you brought up a very valid question, and what are we doing about it? That’s how I work. I’m—thanks. (Laughter )