WaPo’s William Arkin has posted a blog with the headline “Rumsfeld Didn’t Lie, But He Should Still Go.”
He quotes Rumsfeld’s exchange with Ray McGovern and then writes:
“If the issue here is Saddam Hussein’s connection to al Qaeda and his involvement in 9/11, to the ‘bulletproof’ evidence the administration claimed, and more important for America, to the likelihood that Saddam would have ever shared any WMD with terrorists — the true strategic assumption behind the Iraq war and the justification for our entire WMD obsessed foreign policy today — McGovern scored.”
No, he did not, because this was not a basketball game. This was a rare instance of someone acting as a reporter and questioning a member of the gang that lied this country into an aggressive war. And it was not “the adminitsration” that made those claims. It was individual people, including Rumsfeld.
“But if the issue is Zarqawi, and a spooked and reeling Bush administration worrying that they just don’t really know what’s going on in places like Iraq, that they can’t rely on the great CIA, and that they can’t predict what will happen, Rumsfeld scored.”
Again, this was not a basketball game. No scoring. Rumsfeld not only did not rely on the CIA. He created his own “intelligence” operation in the Pentagon called the Office of Special Plans. Has the Washington Post heard about this?
“Yesterday the Secretary of Defense was able to say without equivocation and hesitation that ‘it appears there were not weapons of mass destruction’ in Iraq, but that is not the headline. Certainly we remember not too long ago administration officials saying that WMD were still to be found, that it’s not over ’til it’s over.”
Ponder for a moment the frame of mind of someone so unconcerned with the emergence of facts but obsessed with the statements of people in power that he imagines it is news that Rumsfeld admitted what the whole damn world knows. Amazing. Arkin has not said anything to suggest that Rumsfeld didn’t lie, but he has explained the second half of his headline. Rumsfeld should go, he clearly thinks, because some powerful people have said so. What other reason could there be for anything to happen?
“In the end it comes down to McGovern’s question: Why did you lie, not did you.”
It does? OK, what’s the answer? To either question. Did he lie? And if so, why?
“A better question for McGovern, once he was given a chance to talk, once he was standing there on television, once he had Rumsfeld captive, would have been: Mr. Secretary, do you now see that you or the administration were wrong about Iraq’s WMD or the characterization of Iraq as imminent threat?”
So, rather than answering Ray’s question which “it comes down to,” Arkin is fantasizing about how much nicer it would have been had he asked a softball and let Rummy smash it out of the park.
“I know that Rumsfeld could have slipped away with some political answer. It is still a better question.”
Why is it?
“I imagine McGovern’s goal yesterday was to get on the evening news. It was a spectacle, and McGovern wasn’t really seeking an answer to any question: he already had the answers; he was just seeking to expose.”
Why imagine these things? You could ask Ray. Pick up the phone and call him. He might have some actual insight into what he was trying to do.
“The protestors screeching impeachment and ‘lying’ yesterday, as well as McGovern, can’t accept that there is a difference between being wrong and deceiving.”
They can’t? Have you asked them? And, by the way, what is your definition of screeching? Rumsfeld was not wrong. Rumsfeld was deceiving. How do we know this? It’s not because Rumsfeld has admitted it, and therefore it’s not for any reason you’ll ever accept. It’s because of the enormous quantity of evidence that Rumsfeld (the man who asked Richard Clarke on September 12, 2001, to find a way to attack Iraq) was bent on war with Iraq no matter what. The plans are laid out publicly by the Project for a New American Century. Each claim that Rumsfeld promoted, from the ties to 9-11 to the aluminum tubes to the niger uranium to the chemical and biological weapons was known by him to be false. See www.afterdowningstreet.org
This is a man who claims to be promoting freedom but has authorized detention without charge and torture. This is a man who claims to be helping the Iraqis, but has used napalm, depleted uranium, and white phosphorous on them as part of their liberation.
Does it not abuse the English language at this point to even entertain the possibility that “Rumsfeld didn’t lie”?
Arkin presses on:
“They are so stuck in a mode of accusation and certainty they don’t really think there is any point in political dialogue with the administration. Bush is Hitler, and with that he, nor Rumsfeld, deserves human courtesy. Human courtesy would mean understanding fallibility, fear, pride, the drive of false certainty in office. I’m not asking anyone to accept the war or the dominant national security orthodoxy, which I abhor.”
Oh, of course, and it shows, it really does.
“I just don’t want the only answer to be pulling a lever every four years; there are alternatives, even politicians and the administration learns. We are here as citizens to teach and guide them.”
And to impeach them and remove them from office. May I mail you a copy of the US Constitution?
“In the end, my respect for the Secretary went up when he said, responding to another protester that accusations of lying are ‘so wrong, so unfair and so destructive.'”
And that’s even true, when the person accused HAS NOT BEEN LYING.
“My guess is that the impact of the confrontation won’t be for Donald Rumsfeld to seek forgiveness. More likely, the Secretary will just become ever more careful to say nothing at the podium or in interviews in the future.”
So, when a citizen challenges a cabinet secretary who has nothing to hide, the result is that our noble public servant then hides his worthy work from us. So, the proper behavior would be to obey, and then the facts would all come out? Suddenly I understand how the Washington Post operates.
“The best reason for Donald Rumsfeld to step down as Secretary is that he has become the debate, a lightening rod who can no longer continue to perform this important duty. America needs someone in charge of the military who can give candid answers without fear of having yesterday’s candid answers thrown back in their face. America also needs to give its leaders a chance to be wrong. The implications such intolerance to error is to push human beings up against the wall, a place where there is no good outcome.”
So he’s right, but should resign because we barbarians think he’s a lying criminal. I’m sorry. If he had an ounce of honesty in him and were in any way wrongly accused, I would advocate for him remaining. Arkin, on the other hand, has just openly confessed to writing columns without content. There is not a word here on the topic of whether Rumsfeld lied. Arkin should resign immediately.
DAVID SWANSON can be reached at: email@example.com