Rumsfeld had apparently come to see Adelman’s advice as a bit too unvarnished. Before the war, Adelman famously remarked that the invasion would be a “cakewalk.” He wasn’t wrong about that. Seizing Baghdad was comparatively easy; holding it quickly became the problem. “When Rumsfeld said, in reaction to all the looting, ‘Stuff happens,’ and ‘That’s what free people do,’ I was just so disappointed,” Adelman recalled last week. “This wasn’t what free people did; it’s what barbarians did.” Within the confines of the policy board, Adelman became blunt about his disenchantment with the Pentagon’s management of the war. At the board’s meeting this summer, Adelman said, he argued that the American military needed a new strategy.
“I [Adelman] 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.”
Rumsfeld had Adelman fired, but within days Rumsfeld was ousted, and Adelman's removal never took place.