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US President's responsibility for policy and its implementation

Commenting on the press conferences of Rumsfeld, Bob Gard stresses that the president is always responsible: "If you read the transcripts of Rumsfeld's interviews, you will see that he is very careful to stay aligned with the president's statements and to refuse to speculate on future actions by saying in different ways that the president has not yet decided or that the decision is not his to make. Cabinet officers don't, or shouldn't, have their own policies; it is their responsibility to administer their departments consistent with the law of the land and the policies of the president"

My question: What about the implementation of policy? If the President decides on a course of military action in Afghanistan, and the commanding officer bungles it badly, leading to disaster, is the president solely responsible? Can the officer be court marshalled?

Ronald Hilton - 4/25/02