Friday, May 05, 2006

Rumsfeld Questioned, Badly Answered

The other day after a speech in Atlanta, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was questioned by an audience member about Rumsfeld's claims about knowing where the WMDs were in Iraq. The video.

First, I can't hardly believe that over three years later this is the first time someone had the nuts to ask Rumsfeld this. Partly it was about opportunity, but mostly it's because reporters weren't asking this question.

Second, the CNN reporter (on audio) characterizes the man asking the question as a protestor. A protestor? For asking a government official a question in a calm manner during a question and answer segment? Complete horseshit! This is the attitude that anyone that doesn't agree with the Bush administration gets. Asking the wagers of the Iraq War questions about the war or what they said about the war is considered protesting rather than expecting answers to legitimate questions. If a reporter asked the same question, would the reporter be declared a protestor?!? As well there were people in the audience obviously vocally trying to shout down the questioner, but were they labeled protestors? Rhetorical "no" to both questions.

By the way, the "protestor" was former CIA analyst Ray McGovern. It's not clear whether the CNN reporter or Rumsfeld knew this.

Rumsfeld did attempt to answer, first denying he said he knew where they were, then glossing his prior statement. The questioner was nearly tossed out of the room. I'll have to give Rumsfeld credit for letting the man stay, although Rumsfeld may have been savvy enough to understand that the later story would have included that the man was forced to leave.

Rumsfeld then tells the man "You're getting plenty of play, sir," as if expecting an honest answer of our leaders is somehow a special treatment. That line is so telling. These press conferences are so controlled that even getting a follow-up question is amazing. But in this case just getting Rumsfeld to answer honestly still wasn't going to happen.

Further spin I noticed. Rumsfeld offers the question, "Why do you think the men and women in uniform everyday came out of Kuwait and into Iraq put on chemical weapon protective suits, because they liked the style? They honestly believed there were chemical weapons, Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons on his own people previously, he used them on his neighbor the Iranians, and they (the troops) believed he had those weapons. We believed he had those weapons."

The man then said "That's what we call a non sequitur. It doesn't matter what the troops believed, it matters what you believed."

Good response!!! Why? Because the troops didn't decide to go to war, the president did and Rumsfeld and the Department of Defense instituted the orders. The troops didn't decide to put on chemical weapons suits, they were ordered to. I watched the war on TV like many people did. I clearly noticed those chemical weapons suits were essentially discarded after a few days. I watched the vehicles roll into Baghdad with troops sans those suits.

Which brings us back to the original Rumsfeld quote. On March 30th, 11 days INTO the war, Rumsfeld said in an ABC interview when asked about WMDs, "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." So why did I observe all these troops in the Baghdad area not wearing protective suits if Rumsfeld believed that?

Further, it was Rumsfeld that was photographed shaking hands with Saddam Hussein back in the 1980s. The US courted Saddam, helped build him up. Our country even sold materials that helped produce those chemical weapons that were used on the Kurds.

And finally, the US had no problem with the Iran/Iraq War. In fact we helped Saddam in that war, supplying him with satellite photos of Iran as well as military equipment. It's so like Rumsfeld and company to keep spinning that Saddam used WMDs against his own people and Iran like they didn't know it at the time and in fact tacitly approved of it.

These are the questions I wish Rumsfeld would answer. Why did you go to Iraq and shake hands with Saddam Hussein? Why did the administration you worked for deliver satellite photos of Iran to Saddam when you knew he was capable of using chemical weapons? And then why so long after that era have you now made this an issue you decide to care about when you didn't care then? But I wish I could have followed up Ray McGovern's questions and asked, how come the troops almost entirely DIDN'T wear chemical weapons suits even in the area you claimed you knew where the WMDs were?


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