Rumsfeld's 'last act'

Dec. 18, 2006 at 12:25 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is known for many things, but within the Pentagon it was the terrifying avalanche of "snowflakes."

"Snowflakes" were dictated memos, often just one line, demanding an answer to a question or a study on a thought that occurred to him, and they carried the weight of his office on them. Pentagon workers complained that when a snowflake came in, they were expected to drop whatever they were working on -- no matter how urgent -- and provide an answer to the boss by his deadline, always noted at the bottom.

According to Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, Rumsfeld issued 29,302 of them during his six years at the Pentagon.

On Friday, he issued the 29,303rd snowflake.

"This is my final snowflake," said Rumsfeld, who was replaced Monday as defense secretary by Robert Gates.

"As surprising as this may seem to those who may have been buried in the deluge, there are many people in the department who have never received a snowflake. A few souls have even requested one.

"This snowflake is especially for them. It's message is, perhaps typically, to the point: Thank you!"

"The men and women of this department have worked long hours to accomplish a multitude of missions and to keep the American people safe. You have played important roles during times of great consequence for our country. For that you have my respect and appreciation. I will treasure our time together," he wrote.

Rumsfeld notes that there are still outstanding snowflakes on which their recipients may be trying "to run out the clock."

"In the spirit of the season , as my last official act as Secretary of Defense, I hereby grant a general amnesty for any outstanding snowflakes. The blizzard is over! Than you for all you do for our wonderful country. Well done!"

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