Rumsfeld still falling down rabbit holes
Former secretary of defence is still not admitting his historic blunders
Morris’ wife and collaborator, Julia Sheehan, said that McNamara was The Flying Dutchman wandering the Earth looking for redemption, while Rumsfeld is the Cheshire cat.
“All we’re left with at the very end is this infernal grin,” Morris said. “Everybody wants this smoking gun. The entire Bush administration is a smoking gun. “In his memos and homilies, Rumsfeld will say things that are just contradictory, as though by saying everything, you’ve covered all your bases,” Morris continued. “It’s deeply anti-rational, as if there’s no deep reflection or thought. You have no evidence? Well, ‘the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence’, as Rumsfeld said about WMD in Iraq. Taken to some crazy conclusion, you can justify anything that way. At times in his language, he descends into some strange insanity, as though he’s trying to convince himself.”
Asked the lesson of Vietnam – Rumsfeld was the chief of staff to Gerald Ford when Saigon was evacuated – Rumsfeld briskly replies: “Some things work out, some things don’t. That didn’t.” When Morris presses Rumsfeld about the justice department’s “torture memos”, the former defence chief said they did not come out of “the Bush administration, per se; they came out of the US department of justice”. That parsing would be beyond Bill Clinton.
About the memos that led to what Morris considers “one of the great stains in American history”, Rumsfeld says he never read them. When asked why, he replies, “I’m not a lawyer. What would I know?” When Morris asks Rumsfeld about the “confusion” that linked Saddam to 9/11, he answers brightly, “I don’t think the American people were confused about that”, adding: “I don’t remember anyone in the Bush administration saying anything like that, nor do I recall anyone believing that.”
Holy mushroom cloud. Rumsfeld doesn’t even seem to understand his signature phrase. Reading from a 2004 memo, he says, “There are known knowns. There are known unknowns. There are unknown unknowns.” He tells Morris there are also unknown knowns. Things that you possibly may know that you don’t know you know.
Morris challenges him: “But the memo doesn’t say that. It says that we know less, not more, than we think we do.” Rumsfeld finally admits a boo-boo: “Yeah, I think that memo is backwards.” Then he chastises the filmmaker for “chasing the wrong rabbit”. Right down the rabbit hole.
– (New York Times)