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May 4, 2006

Rumsfeld: “Why Did You Lie?”
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 05:53 PM * 33 comments

From the good folks at Think Progress:

Speaking in Atlanta today [at the Southern Center for International Studies], Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was sharply questioned about his pre-war claims about WMD in Iraq. An audience member confronted Rumsfeld with his 2003 claim about WMD, “We know where they are.” Rumsfeld falsely claimed he never said it. The audience member then read Rumsfeld’s quote back to him, leaving the defense secretary speechless.

They’ve got the video. And a transcript.

Rummy’s excuses: Colin Powell believed that there were WMDs (and who told him they were there?) and the US troops wore chemical protective suits because they thought there were WMDs (and who ordered them to wear ‘em?) Weak. Lame.

Back on 04MAY03 Rumsfeld did, in fact, say “We know where they [the WMDs] are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.” He said it on national TV. Has everyone forgotten?

Oh — and the questioner was a 27-year CIA veteran. One of his former tasks at the Company was to be Daily Presidential Briefer for George H. W. Bush.

Comments on Rumsfeld: "Why Did You Lie?":
#1 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 06:13 PM:

the questioner was a 27-year CIA veteran


#2 ::: Chris S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 06:15 PM:


I wonder how badly that 27 year CIA veteran is going to be smeared in the next few days.

#3 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 06:17 PM:

What I'm wondering now are:

1. Will the media consider this newsworthy enough to pick up? Or will they consider this "old news" and ignore it?

2. Did Rummy know that he was talking to a CIA veteran? Otherwise, I wonder why he didn't fall back on the excuse that the Bush Administration had been using. That is, blame everything on supposedly being misinformed by the country's intelligence agencies. (Or is the problem there that this defense requires him to admit that he did, in fact, say something which was untrue?)

#4 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 06:18 PM:

The questioner was Ray McGovern. nice resume. wish I could hire him for something.

#5 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 06:21 PM:

Ray, with a number of other intelligence folks founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity specifically to skewer the cocked up BS from Bush, Rummy, etc.

Seriously, I gotta find out if I can send this guy some money.

#6 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 06:31 PM:

Damn that traitorous clown Stephen Colbert!

His shameful jibes at the White House Correspondents' Dinner has encouraged every kook in the Reality Based Community to question the truthiness of our war leaders.

How will it end?

#7 ::: Doctor Slack ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 06:52 PM:

Good to see. Of course, Rumsfeld lying kind of is old news; by now he's one of the most famous examples of the contemptuously offhand, clumsy mendacity that characterizes the Bush White House from top to bottom. (Tom Friedman, of all people, once nailed him to the wall in the midst of trying to un-say his own prior statements on Iraq and "imminent threat" -- I think the video is still available at CAP.) But it does bear repeating.

#8 ::: Things That Ain't So ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 07:27 PM:

But don't you all understand? When a Democratic president lies about hooking up with an intern, it's a national calamity, an impeachable offense.

When a Republican president and members of his cabinet all conspire to lie in order to bring about an expensive war -- well, heck, that's just, you know, um, well, gee, why are you asking all these questions? You must really hate America! You're letting the terrorists win! Hard work! 9/11!

#9 ::: Andy Vance ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 07:28 PM:

the US troops wore chemical protective suits because they thought there were WMDs

That brings back memories. I was watching a Fox News in an airport lobby a few days before the war began when the reporter suddenly donned a gas mask. The crowd around me stiffened and stood in rapt attention. I laughed involuntarily, and most of them spun around and glared at me like I had stepped on a duck. It was an eerie feeling... dystopian, even.

Thank Jeebus that's mostly receeded, but after listening to my cubicle neighbor laughing hysterically over Zarqawi's funniest home video and reading this yo yo, I had a flashback.

The unintentionally comic elements of this footage does not, of course, minimize the lethal threat Zarqawi and his minions pose to the Iraqi people, but it does humanize him and diffuse a bit of the mythology surrounding him. He is not invincible, and at moments, he is all but helpless.
Helloooo. Is there anybody out there? Are people really this easy? Turn Goldstein's face into a Eurasian soldier, then a sheep? Screams and yucks? Is that all it takes?

#10 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 08:00 PM:

'Rumsfeld was speechless.' He must wish he'd been speechless three years ago when he was lying through his teeth.

#11 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 08:05 PM:

I saw this, as well as some other Rummy-audience confrontations, on NBC News about 35 minutes ago.

#12 ::: Cynthia ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 08:50 PM:

I wish you could see how quickly this was glossed over in the local newscast. Ray Mcgovern was portrayed as 'random person protesting the war', not as a credible intelligence source. Thank goodness I only count on our local affiliate for news about weather, parades, and lost herds of sheep. (even then it's hit or miss!)

#13 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 08:55 PM:

"...and east, west, south and north somewhat."

Well, he wasn't lying, was he? If you go in all of those directions for long enough you will eventually run across a WMD. Might not be in Iraq...or on Earth...but it all depends on your definition of "somewhat."

The intent was fairly obviously mendacious, but you can't fault the statement itself. :)

#14 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 10:38 PM:

"...and east, west, south and north somewhat."

And you thought there was mere popularity-hoovering behind the program to put troo -- I mean, people on Mars.

#15 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2006, 11:13 PM:

Sigh. The further we go the more stupid they get. (cheney, et al.) They so totally think the rest of us are so stupid we can't put two and two together. I always believed that once you started to lie, you'd always be found out because unless it was a totaly simple lie, you'd end up not remembering the details. Geee whiz, lookit!

#16 ::: Daniel Abraham ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 12:32 AM:

I'm not sure they think we're stupid. It's more that they think we don't care, or don't have the power to do anything effective about it if we do care.

That's still wrong, but it takes more work to refute.

#17 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 02:31 AM:

They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat

Wait for Part 2, where they define "area around" and "somewhat" to mean "pretty much anywhere the planet".

#18 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 03:01 AM:

I believe "area around" has already been redefined as "greater Tehran."

#19 ::: Nikki ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 03:24 AM:

Perhaps Rumsfeld back in 2003 should have taken a more circumspect, Blair-y approach, and hedged his statements around so that he couldn't actually be accused of straight-out lying.

We've had some amazing excuses for those claims about non-existent WMD in Britain. "Intelligence was wrong but it doesn't matter because we did the right thing, and if we exaggerated it so what, it still doesn't matter because we did the right thing, and anyway we didn't exaggerate it, well, we didn't exaggerate deliberately, and if we did it doesn't matter because we did the right thing. And July 7 proves it, so there. And God will judge me."

To which my response was, well, maybe God will judge you, Tony, but we'll get a chance long before that...

The stupidest thing is, Blair seems untouchable on Iraq. I don't understand it. Journalists can get at Blair on the health service, on John Prescott's love life, and Charles Clarke's incompetence, but they can't make a difference over Iraq.

Incidentally, Geoff Hoon (defence minister in 2003) is supposedly going to be promoted today, in a reshuffle Blair hopes will restore some standing in the opinion polls.

Most people I met before the war didn't believe the WMD claims. A lot of those didn't believe it and didn't care. When asked if the war was right they didn't care - it was a chance to have a war and wave the troops off at Southampton. Maybe it's because I lived in an army town, but it does not say good things about our electorate.

#20 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 05:25 AM:

One of the problems of politics in the UK, over the last quarter century or so, has been the lack of credible opposition parties. Thatcher and Blair have both lasted as they have because of that.

In both cases, a part of the problem was the failure of the Opposition party when it was the party of Government. But both Conservative and Labour parties have failed badly as a Parliamentary Opposition, each being fragmented by their internal differences.

I don't know how well that translates to US politics, but I get the impression that the Republican Party has the more centralised control of their image--a team of vicious, deporaved, sociopaths, but at least a team.

#21 ::: Nikki ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 06:03 AM:

Dave, you are right about the quality of opposition parties in the U.K. Labour was not a credible alterntative to Thatcher's Tories until about 1990, and lost narrowly in 1992. However, after 1994, they were lethal in opposition, hammering at every weak point in the Conservative government.

It's a little different now the roles are reversed. The Conservatives since 1997 have never been credible, or even effective in opposition. Tony Blair isn't that good at the despatch box, faced with a brilliant opposition leader, William Hague needled him every week for years, but this didn't translate into electoral gains. It didn't matter to the public as a whole. This may be about to change with the election of David Cameron as Conservative Leader, but one of the major problems is that New Labour is actually very conservative, and there many many things that are controversial in the Labour party that the Conservative Party naturally supports...which brings us back to the war in Iraq. The Conservative Party supported the war, and this has absolutely crippled them in their opposition to Blair over the issue. There is simply no way they can take advantage of Blair's mistakes, regardless of leader. We have had to look to the media to do it. We've had intelligence sources speak out, too, and what happened? Four journalists were sacked (one the Director General of the BBC), some with direct connections to the issue, some connected indirectly, and the pressure put on that source, together with the smear campaign against him, led him to commit suicide. For years we've had stories in the papers on the issue, something new every few weeks, and nothing sticks. The papers have dug up everything possible to get at Blair on this, every story that is even only tangentially related, but the effect it has really had is that even people who cared originally have begun to get bored with the issue.

#22 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 10:10 AM:

In both the UK and the USA it is significant that during the 1990s a disciplined right-wing faction within a major party previously seen as doomed to opposition staged a takeover and imposed their ideology over the objections of other factions -- and went on to run a tightly-whipped legislative program involving increased public spending and increased overseas military adventurism. (The US picture is slightly complicated by the separate executive presidency, but that fell into line with the rest of the program in 2000.)

Both parties seem to be reading from the same prayerbook. And both of them have successfully demoralized and fragmented their opponents.

Is the current New Labour upset a sign of things to come for the neocon wing of the Republicans? I note with interest that Jack Straw had gotten himself away from the tar baby that is the Foreign Office, ahead of the blowback from the forthcoming Iraq withdrawal. (It may be tomorrow, it may not be until 2008, but whoever's in the hot seat when it arrives is going to be looking for a new career outside of politics afterwards.)

#23 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 10:15 AM:

a team of vicious, deporaved, sociopaths

Rugby players???

#24 ::: Richard Brandt ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 11:19 AM:

Will the media consider this newsworthy enough to pick up? Or will they consider this "old news" and ignore it?

Here was the AP's take:

Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst and noted critic of the war in Iraq, waited patiently in line to question Rumsfeld, then let loose.

"Why did you lie to get us into a war that caused these kind of casualties and was not necessary?" McGovern said.

"I did not lie," shot back a feisty Rumsfeld, who waved off security guards ready to remove McGovern from the hall at the Southern Center for International Studies.

So. Someone confronts Rumsfeld with direct proof that he was lying, leaving him totally flummoxed. The AP story quotes him with what could just be a wild baseless generalized accusation, and leaves us with a Rummy full of righteous indignation, instead of sputtering as he's left without a leg to stand on.

Just what is going on here?

#25 ::: Nikki ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 11:46 AM:

My take on the New Labour mess in the last week is that the press have not been able to hit back over Iraq directly, so they are going at everything they can find. The Conservatives also have a media-friendly new leader, which isn't helping New Labour - I don't know if that is likely to be the case in the U.S. or not.

I like your idea about Jack Straw, Charlie - it hadn't occurred to me he got out of it on purpose. The BBC talk today is that Iraq is fading as an election issue, but I heard an interview with some Labour activists today who had worked for other parties in the local election campaign, and who named the war in Iraq and the way the government took us into that war as their reasons for defecting. So perhaps the older factions are beginning to fight back? WMD have kind of faded from the spotlight, but Iraq is still there, and it's certainly the issue that Blair will be remembered by. He's very concerned with his 'legacy'.

#26 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 11:47 AM:

Going off on a bit of a tangent.... Did anyone else here watch PBS's "Texas Ranch House" series? (The Phoenix station showed the whole thing over four nights.) I know, it's contrived "reality TV", but the setting, the historical tidbits and those occasions where the human behavior rang true could be compelling. I mention it here because the insular smugness of the Cooke family, and their treatment of "underling" ranch hands, reminded me of our current government. Sure, they were in difficult circumstances (where I would have wilted and fled after about a day), but their arrogance appalled me.

#27 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 01:16 AM:

I found a couple things particularly interesting about this.

First, they're playing it on the news networks instead of sweeping it under the rug. That's different.

Second, the NBC commentator asked one of the other news people something to this effect: "They normally pre-screen these audiences very carefully. What's going on with something like this getting through? Does this mean they're just unable to find enough administration supporters to fill an audience these days?"

#28 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 02:57 AM:

My goodness, Clifton, real snark from real media? I wish I'd seen/heard that.

#29 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2006, 12:26 PM:

Aw, he's just a crazy nut! Did you see how he disagreed with Rumsfeld? An obvious sufferer from "Bushie Disagreement Syndrome." It's best not to excite him by giving him any coverage or reporting on the substance of what he said, and then maybe we can go see if Michael Jackson's up to anything interesting.

#30 ::: Anatoly ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 04:58 AM:

What, no-one fact-checks anymore?

Just one google search is enough to discover that
Rumsfeld said those words on March 30 2003, which was after the beginning of the war (11th day of the war), and so saying that he was "sharply questioned about his pre-war claims about WMD in Iraq" is a lie from "the good folks at Think Progress", and a very misleading lie at that. It makes the reader assume that the quote from Rumsfeld was pre-war, a part of the justification effort for the war, and that obviously makes a huge difference.

Why did you feel compelled to repeat that lie?

#31 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 06:07 AM:

You want pre-war? You got it!

"[Saddam has] amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of biological weapons, including Anthrax, botulism, toxins and possibly smallpox. He's amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX, Sarin and mustard gas." --Donald Rumsfeld, 9/19/02

"[Saddam's] regime has large, unaccounted-for stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons -- including VX, sarin, cyclosarin and mustard gas; anthrax, botulism, and possibly smallpox -- and he has an active program to acquire and develop nuclear weapons." – Donald Rumsfeld, 1/20/03

Those are some of the "pre-war claims" that "We know where they are" referenced. In fact, they weren't "in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." They weren't anywhere at all, and there hadn't been any in Iraq in ten years. Rumsfeld either knew it or should have known it.

#32 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 06:54 AM:

Here's another depressingly interesting speculation about the recent local government elections in the UK. One of the aspects which worried a lot of people, in the major parties, was the rise of the neo-fascist BNP.

Then the story broke about the incompetent handling of immigrants who had been convicted of serious crimes, but had vanished on completion of their sentence. Some could have been deported, some should have been tracked, under laws that covered their specific crimes.

As you can imagine, this provided a wonderful opportunity for the politicians to safely say the same sorts of stuff about (some) immigrants as the BNP did. "Deport them all!" sounds much the same, whether you're talking about the bloody darkies or about roughly a thousand criminals.

In the election, the BNP picked up a handful of seats in a few local councils, and became the second-largest party in one.

And straight afterwards there was a cabinet reshuffle that booted the Home Secretary, got Jack Straw clear of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and replaced him with a woman who is responsible for a 1.6 billion Pound balls-up involving a gross failure to implement EU directives.

Margaret Beckett was even praised for her loyalty, but her record of dealing with foreign lands is hardly a glowing one.

The Cabinet reshuffle pretty well had to wait until after the election, and I doubt it was forced by the poor results for the Labour Party, but the promotion of failures does suggest that Tony Blair has run out of steam. He can't even get rid of a deputy who seems to have a Clintonesque approach to office affairs.

And, while Bill Clinton is hardly one of the world's beautiful people, it's much harder to look at a photograph of John Prescott and imagine him being offered a blow-job. (Still, what do I know? I'm a guy.)

(Well. maybe there's a greenish tinge to my opinion--it's a long time since I was offered a blow-job.)

To be honest, looking at the record of the Cabinet since 1997, another "gay sex romp" would be less of a surprise than Prescott getting laid.

#33 ::: Anatoly ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2006, 10:41 AM:

Exactly, James. There're enough incriminating quotes from Rumsfeld before the war. There's no need to pretend that a relatively innocent (meh, I don't really want to say that - but, read in context, *and* considering it was said after the war started, it's not nearly as incriminating as those others) quote was said pre-war, just to score, presumably, a propaganda point.

Thanks for digging up those quotes again.

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