Wanker's Hours

The two faces of Don Rumsfeld

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Defense Dept.

Tissue of lies: Above, Rumsfeld strokes U.S. troops on February 7, 2003, at Aviano Air Base in Italy by lying to them that "it is not knowable if force will be used" against Iraq. Below, Rumsfeld on March 24, 2003, during the gripping bombing of Baghdad. (He's drawn and quartered here by colleague Ward Sutton.)

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Just in time for George W. Bush's speech tonight, his handlers have finally updated the White House's "Renewal in Iraq" page.

As I wrote June 6, that propaganda page hadn't been updated in eight months. But don't criticize the Bush regime for taking three long weeks to react to my item. That's still less time than it took the U.S. media to react to the Downing Street Memo and other British government documents that help bring the Bush regime's pre-war lies into sharp focus. (I first wrote about Michael Smith's scoop on April 30, so, as I've said ad nauseam, don't blame me.)

As Smith himself noted in mid-June, the Washington Post, though a little late, is jumping on the British memos with both feet.

This morning's story by Glenn Frankel doesn't reveal any new info, but it's new analysis and it's refreshing to see front-page mainstream coverage. Frankel does a nice job juxtaposing the public posture of Bush and Blair in 2002 with the back story of their pre-war plot:

    In public, British officials were declaring their solidarity with the Bush administration's calls for elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. But [Foreign Minister Jack] Straw's memo and seven other secret documents disclosed in recent months by British journalist Michael Smith together reveal a much different picture. Behind the scenes, British officials believed the U.S. administration was already committed to a war that they feared was ill-conceived and illegal and could lead to disaster.

    The documents indicate that the officials foresaw a host of problems that later would haunt both governments—including thin intelligence about the nature of the Iraqi threat, weak public support for war, and a lack of planning for the aftermath of military action. British cabinet ministers, Foreign Office diplomats, senior generals and intelligence service officials all weighed in with concerns and reservations. Yet they could not dissuade their counterparts in the Bush administration—nor, indeed, their own leader—from going forward.

So now the U.S. press has stuck its toes into this steaming Watergate. Though the focus is still on the British government, the next logical step for U.S. journalists would be to zero in on the schmucks who were pushing the plot—the U.S. government—and there's no doubt a hell of a lot more paper to trail after than has already been written about. Hey, if anybody out there has any of it, send it along to me. I won't bury it.

What's now called the Downing Street Memo scandal—waiting for catchier name—is deep water, with lots of sharks, but jump in, everyone. Prodding is still necessary. You can see the caution applied by even the U.S. editors and reporters who are publishing on this topic. As Frankel writes:

    Critics of the Bush administration contend the documents—including the now-famous Downing Street Memo of July 23, 2002—constitute proof that Bush made the decision to go to war at least eight months before it began, and that the subsequent diplomatic campaign at the United Nations was a charade, designed to convince the public that war was necessary, rather than an attempt to resolve the crisis peacefully. They contend the documents have not received the attention they deserve.

    Supporters of the administration contend, by contrast, that the memos add little or nothing to what is already publicly known about the run-up to the war and even help show that the British officials genuinely believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. They say that opponents of Bush and Blair are distorting the documents' meaning in order to attack both men politically.

    But beyond the question of whether they constitute a so-called smoking gun of evidence against the White House, the memos offer an intriguing look at what the top officials of the United States' chief ally were thinking, doing and fearing in the months before the war.

That's probably understating things, but that's OK. During the weekend that Smith broke the first story on the original Downing Street Memo, the U.S. press was obsessed with the runaway bride. On April 30, the very eve of Smith's blockbuster, while news of it was clickety-clacking on the world's electronic teletypes, the White House press corps was being beguiled at a formal dinner by Laura Bush, thanks to lines fed to her by the Bush regime's top propaganda mavens. Oh, golly, she upstaged the president! Isn't that marvelous!

The D.C. press was engaged in self-congratulatory patter about being so close to the center of planetary power. Meanwhile, Michael Smith was shitting on the Oval Office's new rug.

But at least the Post is on the job now. I can't wait to find out what U.S. officials were "thinking and doing" during the pre-war plot.

Thankfully, we're reminded of what they were saying by Jon Stewart, whose clever marketing ploy is that he does "fake news." Don't you believe it. You just can't make this shit up. Last night, for instance, while deriding Dick Cheney's "last throes" nonsense, the Daily Show dug up delicious video. Why the "straight" TV news shows don't regularly do this is beyond me. Anyway, here was Rumsfeld on February 7, 2003, lying to U.S. soldiers at a "town hall" meeting at Aviano Air Base in Italy:

    " … it is not knowable if force will be used [against Iraq], but if it is to be used, it is not knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."

Check that. Rumsfeld was both lying and stupid.

Greg ManuelWe now have it confirmed that Rumsfeld was just jerking us and the troops around during that "town hall" meeting in Italy in February '03. To make matters worse, he was yukking it up with the soldiers while he was lying to them. Very funny. On the other hand, Bush Beat reader Greg Manuel (left) is an actual comedian, and he sends along this riddle he's been telling New York audiences:

    Q: What's the difference between the Star Wars prequel trilogy and the war in Iraq?

    A: One outlines the manipulation of a corrupt and complacent democracy into a manufactured war to facilitate the rise to power of a malevolent, oppressive, downright evil force …

    … and the other has light sabers.

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