Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is often a great relief because he often says what us mere Americans wish to hell SOMEBODY would say, even when he's wrong.

A lot of us are desperately tired of hearing people who think they are sophisticated talking about how we should never get mad at anybody and we should say nice things no matter what. I've been in international negotiations, and believe me, when it gets serious, nobody gives a damn what you said about France last week. Least of all the French negotiators.

Besides, when these self-styled "sophisticates" use the word "diplomacy," they mean "lie." When Americans talk turkey, they get laughs and admiration. When they try to act diplomatic, it just looks as silly as it is.

On the other hand, Rumsfeld has the bad characteristics of a conservative. Liberals want to keep weapons out of the hands of honest Americans. But honest Americans are not the problem when it comes to weapons. Rumsfeld wants to keep information away from "the common people" and limit it to professionals. But the fact is that it is the professionals who are an information sieve.

My boss was senior on the Select Intelligence Committee, and I was Special Assistant to the head of the entire Federal service on security clearances. Let me tell you something you may believe or not as you choose: the only reason the Soviet KGB did not know every secret it wanted to know was because they were stupid and grossly inefficient.

The head of the Cuba section of United States Defense Intelligence Agency spent her entire career reporting directly to Castro. She was only recently caught and sent to prison. She was not the only person Cuba, the KGB, and all the rest had reporting directly to them from inside the United States Government.

And they STILL didn't have all our secrets!

But they didn't have some stuff because they were hopelessly incompetent, despite what all the books tell you.

I will tell you what is NOT, NOT, NOT the reason the Communists didn't have all our secrets. It was NOT because those secrets were kept by the little shirt-tail Napoleons like Rumsfeld and his precious officials with all the clearances.

It is among those professional bureaucrats that our enemies plant their agents.

Rumsfeld is big on keeping secrets for the same reason that some policemen are big on gun control. He wants to be mysterious. In fact, it is a tribute to the dedication of working policemen - the ones who don't get promoted -- that so many of them are not for gun control. After all, with gun control they are big men, because only they are allowed to have guns.

Being the only one who gets to carry a gun is big thing to a little man.

Likewise Rumsfeld wants to keep secrets for the privileged folks like himself. That part of him is a little man.