When Adelman went to see Rumsfeld in his office, he knew that Rumsfeld wanted him out. “He said, ‘Ken, you’ve been my friend for most of my adult life,’ and he said that I was going to be his friend for the rest of his life,” Adelman recalled. “Then he said, ‘It might be best if you got off the Defense Policy Board.’ I said, ‘It won’t be best for me. If you want me off, it’s not a problem, but if it’s up to me I’ll stay on.’ He wanted me to resign. He didn’t want to do it himself. And so we did that little dance.”
Adelman went on, “Rumsfeld said, ‘You’ve become disruptive and negative.’ Well, I got a little flustered and said, ‘That’s bullshit about being disruptive. Negative, you’ve got right.’ He responded by saying, ‘Well, you interrupt people in the meetings.’ And I said, ‘You know where I learned that from? I learned that from the master.’ ” Rumsfeld laughed, Adelman said.
“I had the floor then, and I started by saying what a positive influence he had been in my life, that I love him like a brother. He nodded, kind of sadly. And then I said, ‘I’m negative about two things: the deflection of responsibility, and the quality of decisions.’ He said he took responsibility all the time. Then I talked about two decisions: the way he handled the looting, and Abu Ghraib. He told me that he didn’t remember saying, ‘Stuff happens.’ He was really in denial that this was his fault.” Adelman said that it struck him then that “maybe he really thinks that things are going well in Iraq.”