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Andrew Cockburn’s Rumsfeld Revelations

Posted on Mar 15, 2007

(Page 2)

Scheer: You talked about torture early on in the interview and then we talked about Guantanamo Bay and he’s saying these are positives in his legacy. And a piece of new information that I got on this sheet and I read in your book was a quote that said, “Make sure this happens,” about Abu Ghraib. And I want to know if you wanted to comment on that a little bit, like, what was his involvement in that torture scandal and what did…?

Cockburn: Well ... he did his best to, when it broke, he did his best to distance himself, to say how shocked he was, that it was the worst day of his life. He said he tried to resign and Bush wouldn’t take it. I mean this is a guy who could get Bush to reverse any decision, well, for most the time until they finally fired him. I mean one thing he was very good at was getting Bush to reverse the decisions that he, Rumsfeld, didn’t like. So if he really wanted to resign he could have. But, you know, he went on like that. But yet there’s abundant testimony that Rumsfeld was deeply involved in devising and in approving interrogation, i.e., torture techniques. That he was the guy who sent the commander of Guantanamo, Jeffrey Miller, sent him out to Abu Ghraib to Gitmo-lize it. ... The quote you gave was on a bit of paper that someone found at Abu Ghraib [referring to] a list of torture techniques. So yeah, the whole response of the Defense Department was to blame it all on the National Guard military police unit from Cumberland County, Md., who indeed ... behaved in a shocking way, but, you know, which deflects all the blame downwards. I mean I found one of the most extraordinary things was that they gave, during the prosecutions, they gave immunity to a colonel, a full colonel, so that he could testify against a dog handler, a sergeant, a specialist, I mean he wasn’t even a sergeant. So that’s not the way things are meant to work.

So, you know, the fact that Rumsfeld, although I’ve heard he’s now—you asked what he’s doing—I’ve heard he’s been seen at at least one big law firm in Washington presumably discussing possibly the defense he’s gonna need in the light of these lawsuits that are being brought both in this country and in Germany against him for being personally and directly responsible for the torture.

Harris: What do you think Donald Rumsfeld would say if he had a chance to respond to you about what you’ve written?


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Cockburn: Oh, he’d probably say I was peddling al-Qaida disinformation. He’d change the subject. You know he’s very good at—I mean if he really chose to discuss it in detail, which he certainly wouldn’t, he would, he’d blame someone else. I mean there was a very telling moment I put at the end of the book where he, just a few days before he finally left the Pentagon, he went on a farewell tour to Iraq. And he went around various bases and he loved to have these town meetings where the soldiers who probably had better things to do but they would all be marched to sit in ranks in front and behind him so that, you know, [it would] make a nice picture, and he would lecture them, give of his wisdom for a bit and then invite questions ... this is the secretary of defense and they’re just poor soldiers in the field…. But in Mosul, a base outside Mosul this last time, one soldier got up and said: Don’t you think you wish now you’d been, shown a little bit more patience? In looking for, you know, the inspections, looking for weapons of mass destruction before you invaded Iraq? You know, don’t you think you should have waited awhile? And Rumsfeld said, “Interesting. But you’re talking to the wrong guy. It was the president who made that decision, the Congress made that decision.”

In other words right up to the very end he can’t face up to the fact, in front of the guys he’s put in harm’s way, he can’t face up to the fact that he sent them. You know that it was his decision. Oh, no, it was the president. It was the Congress. It was Rumsfeld all over.

Harris: But isn’t that the privilege of the secretary position? That you don’t have to be accountable, that you can point your finger at the guys who are on top of you? I mean that’s his greatest luxury.

Cockburn: He obviously thought so. If you think that, you and he are about the only two people on this turning globe who think so. Everyone else thinks, hey, he was secretary of defense, he was Donald Rumsfeld. He was the most powerful man in an executive position in the U.S. government and if he, and if he’s too ashamed to admit his responsibility that really is a window into his soul.

Harris: Do you think anybody will ever take him to task for what he’s done?

Cockburn: Well, I have.

Harris: You have. I mean do you think he will suffer true legal consequence?

Cockburn: That’s an interesting question. I mean I don’t think he’ll be visiting Germany any time soon. Oh, he’d be advised not to. I think his travel, I think he is a bit worried. I was very interested to hear he’s been hanging out at, it was Williams and Connolly I heard he’s been seen at. Very big D.C. law firm. But he may have gone to others, for all I know. It’s interesting. ... Unfortunately, his gang has taken over the judicial system to such a degree in this country that, you know, in this country unless things really, really change, I would say [there is] zero chance of him suffering judicial sanction here. But nonetheless ...  it’s worrying to have this legal process against him in Germany…. We have legal globalization to a degree now so that you can have assets seized. It’s a drag for him, and it’ll cause him to sort of [have], I don’t know, sleepless nights, but [at the least it will]  cause him awkward, an awkward 15 minutes or so every so often.

Scheer: ... We talk about Donald Rumsfeld being a neoconservative—he’s very toxic, as you said earlier. What about the other guys? I mean, are we going to see another rise of neocons? Are these guys, are they going to start all falling apart, or is this going to just continue every election cycle that we’re going to have neocons as just a new political party that we have to get used to?

Cockburn: Well, you know they’re in both parties and they sort of mutate. You know we have Democrat—... originally, you know, the neocons were all Democrats,  like Wolfowitz. He was in a Democratic administration, he was in the Carter administration, it was his first biggish job.  So they’re still around. ...

The prominent ones are lying low, like this extraordinary outburst from Perle and Kenneth Adelman and a couple of the others about oh, it’s shocking, you know, the invasion of Iraq was a big mistake, it all turned out rottenly, you know, I had nothing to do with it ... they did it so badly it’s all Rumsfeld’s fault. Well, I mean they were so deeply involved they were up and over their ears in it. First of all in promoting the whole idea to begin with. I mean a lot of decisions that went along with it.  Their love affair with Ahmed Chalabi and so on and so forth. But, you know, so they’re discredited at least for the time being. Um, we have others. We have these fellows at The New Republic still working away and they still got their big think tanks. And the surge, you know the surge in Baghdad, that’s a neocon and it comes from Frederick Kagan ... that legacy is still very much with us. I mean Cheney’s office is stuffed with neoconservatives. But it’s good that people point the finger at the neoconservatives and it’s good that they get blamed, but people shouldn’t let themselves off the hook either. There’s still an automatic, semiautomatic, tendency to believe them, you know, [as] the propaganda volume is turned up to full on Iran right now, you know, the menace of Iran. And speaking with a little bit of skepticism because of what happened in Iraq. But nonetheless I think if they do it right they could probably massage the media into endorsing some kind of strike against Iran. So, you know, yeah, the neoconservatives are still with us.

Harris: And I think they will be for some time. I hope you’re wrong about them [the media] being so flexible they could be pushed into a war into Iran, but time will tell, huh?

Cockburn: Yeah. I’m afraid so.

Harris: Andrew Cockburn has written the book “Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall and Catastrophic Legacy.” If you have questions about what went on in 2002, what happened when we went in in 2003, I think Donald Rumsfeld is a good place to start. It’s a great book. You owe yourself the read. Andrew Cockburn, thank you for joining us on Truthdig.

Cockburn: I’m delighted. Thank you very much.

Harris: For Josh Scheer, for Andrew Cockburn, this is James Harris, and this is Truthdig.

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By P Rob, July 16, 2007 at 2:08 am Link to this comment
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I always get a smile when I read about how Bush and company has ruined America and they are to blame.  Why blame Bush and Cheney?, the American people voted them in.  Not once but twice, now that is who we really should blame!

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By davr, March 31, 2007 at 12:30 am Link to this comment
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Something missing in the otherwise excellent interview is the fantastic amount of war profiteering on the part of all the Bush/Republicans, including Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice etc., etc., that has gone on and still goes on in their so called War on Terrorism. 

The whole mess is just one big exercise in war profiteering.  These people have grown fantastically rich from their war on terror.

War profiteering use to be against the law.  What the hell happened to the laws of the land?  Apparently they Law doesn’t apply to the Bush/Republicans, Israeli Zionists and dispensationalist Christian Right.

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By Margaret Currey, March 25, 2007 at 2:09 pm Link to this comment
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To me Runsfeld was an out of touch person one just loved his phrases like Henny Penny the sky is falling.

Runsfeld and this administration reminds me of the incident in Calif. where the jury was told don’t believe in what you see, believe in what we say.

I am really glad this administration during their last two years will know that the american public no longer believe in their pack of lies.

Runsfeld is going, Gonzales is on his way out.  The remainder Bush and Chaney should be Impeached before they can do more harm.

Margaret from Vancouver, Washington

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By Louise, March 22, 2007 at 3:28 pm Link to this comment
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Something always jumps out when you read about Rumsfeld. The same thing can be said about Cheney. The fact that in the course of their respective political carreers it was never about service so much as contacts, opportunity and control.

We see a similar pattern behind George H.W. Bush’s drive to be president. Every position, every contact, every experience and every petty gripe seems to be related to this need. Going back even further we find the legend behind Presscott Bush, GHW’s father.

He was supposed to be president. The fact that he never ran for the office is irrelevant. The family legend is that he was supposed to be. Perhaps that legend has been one of the frauds that drove the caregivers in Grandpa’s posterity to raise their children to that goal. Or maybe it was just patriarchal oneupmanship.

(Similarly Bill wasn’t the first president, but Hillary could be a first.)

Irregardless, when the focus is on getting there rather than the enormous responsibility that position requires, something gets lost. Personal ambition, personal need and personal satisfaction overcome any hope of legitimate service to the voters who put their trust in that person.

I think if anything is written about the legacy of Bush II, and his disastrous administration, it should focus on that lesson learned. Just because someone badly wants to be president, or be in his administration, should never out weigh that someones qualifications. Or whether or not that person is a true leader and understands what honest service is.

Rumsfeld is a perfect example of the man who wanted the power and title of president, but never understood about real leadership, qualifications or the difference between self serving and service. That fact stands out as his legacy. Impression over value. Self-perception over actual performance.

Perhaps somewhere along the way the denial of the title “president” planted a petty pay-back mentality. The development of a plan to completely re-write everything, from the way the Constitution was interpreted to the way the military was constructed. From the way elections were controlled to the way the wealth was distributed.

At the end of the day it all comes back to one simple truth. No matter what is said to explain the mentality, nothing can justify it. Because the motives are so impure. ‘Hang the country, hang the constitution, hang anybody who gets in my way, I just want to know what’s in it for me,’  pretty well sums up Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush and Bush. And all the neocon henchmen and unfortunately a good many other presidents and politicians.

Pay attention to the current crop of presidential wannabees and see if you can distinguish between “I want to serve the people” and “what’s in it for me.”

As far as Rumsfeld is concerned. My spellcheck always changes his name to Rusted. (chuckle)
Maybe the excessive use of his own products containing known carcinogens and Cheney’s heavy consumption of “legal” drugs, goes a long way to explaining the dead cells in the brain matter. But that will never explain the lack of morality.

Today we have a collection of completely amoral people running our government. Easily proved when you study the bio of people like Karl Rove for example. Rove never would have made it past the front door of republican campaign headquarters if they hadn’t been looking for a thoroughly dishonest man.

I have to agree with Cockburn’s assessment, “they could probably massage the media into endorsing some kind of strike against Iran.” But I don’t think it has anything to do with “massaging.” It has everything to do with wide-spread dishonesty and a complete willingness to sell out to the highest bidder.

We have become trapped in a political system that functions only for profit. A system created to favor the favored at the expense of the majority. And main stream media clearly represents that favored few.

Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here, would we?

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By the carp, March 21, 2007 at 8:34 pm Link to this comment
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Please…nobody in all of this mentions Israel, and The Lobby? All of the aforementioned are subject to the entreaties, pistols-in-hand, of AIPAC, Abe Foxman at the JDL, etc Israeli cetera.

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By gerry issokson, March 21, 2007 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment
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in addition to the war’s costs already detailed, has anyone added up the costs of the sweetheart arrangrments that were no doubt required in order to create the coalition of the “willing”?

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By fiskhus jim, March 16, 2007 at 1:23 pm Link to this comment
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Great piece - very informative.  Thanks!

Now, about that pretzel choking incident: 

Did anybody but me notice, at the same time Bush was claiming to have choked on a pretzel and fallen down, that Rummy’s hand was bandaged?

I mean, did Rummy pop him one or what?

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By JKoch, March 16, 2007 at 9:10 am Link to this comment
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Rummy is rich, has a house with a great view, the CFR or WSJ will publish anything he writes, he is more fit than most codgers, and he can play golf or tennis wherever he wants.  Who could ask for more?  Let Wolfowitz endure the “purgatory” of World Bank command, Davos summits, 5 star hotels, and lavish dinners.  War opponents, on the other hand, can expect to be honored by ...[?], appointed to the board of ...[?], or get a campaign contribution from ...[?].  End of subject.

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By BruceM, March 15, 2007 at 10:58 pm Link to this comment
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What about Rumsfeld’s pro-Saddam years? He was the force who pushed the Reagan administration to assist Saddam Hussein, culminating in that famous photo of Rumsfeld warmly shaking Saddam’s hand well after the “Butcher of Baghdad” committed the mass slaughter for which he, Saddam, was executed. It seems to me that Rumsfeld, Saddam’s enabler, should be swinging from the same rope.

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By John Hanks, March 15, 2007 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment
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The rich class is a monster class.  The combination of arrogant detached crocked rich jerks and arrogant vicious lower middle class predatory jerks is simply unbelievable.  Monsieur.  BRING ME A BUCKET!

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By ben frank, March 15, 2007 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment
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So his legacy is all about the failed Iraq war? What about his failure on Sept 11?

Journalists are supposed to investigate the real story right? I’ve got a good one for Mr. Cockburn.

Shortly after 9/11 Rummy was interviewed by Jim Lehrer and asked if he felt any responsibility for 9/11. Rummy says, “Well you know those were domestic airplanes, which makes it a law enforcement issue.”

Listen for yourself

C’mon journalists- is that a reasonable answer, those hijacked planes were a law enforcement issue? Bullshit.

Rumsfeld’s legacy is not just Iraq, but his ‘failure’ on 9/11.

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By Jackie T. Gabel, March 15, 2007 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment
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As for Iran…

“A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq, or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran; culminating in a “defensive” U.S. military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.” - Brzezinski’s warning, Feb. 1, 2007

Brzezinski was preceded in January by Congressman Ron Paul’s warning of a “contrived Gulf of Tonkin type incident” as a pretext for war with Iran. Nothing in this book about false flag terrorism. Certainly Cockburn has to have cited 911 somewhere in his book, but in what context? He knows the score. No doubt we’ll see all these neocons go down, but their handlers, it seems, will never come to light, unless this gang of thugs is charged with treason, shown the noose and encouraged to make a deal.

Josh, you guys know the score too. These guys didn’t lie about everything but 911, and their litany of documented crimes fails on every front to slow their aggressive fascist reign. Moreover, the cite “the lessons of 911” as justification for every transgression. If the 911 Myth isn’t exploded, there’s no exit from the 100-year global war of terror now in the making.

Looks like another limited hangout, guys.

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By Quy Tran, March 15, 2007 at 11:27 am Link to this comment
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He’s already gone to other world so stop wasting time to talk about him.

History was turned to new page with new butcher !

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By Steve Hammons, March 15, 2007 at 9:32 am Link to this comment
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Cockburn’s article provides essential and frightening insight into Rumsfeld.

The article is excellent “intelligence information” for those honorable Americans who are very concerned about our nation at this time.

It is very important for journalists and others researching and communicating this kind of “intelligence” to get the information to the public.

We all are “intelligence officers” in a way ... we must read and gather information about our government officials, like Rumsfeld, and about many other topics. For more on this, see:

“Gathering intelligence: Grassroots intel by and for the people”

By Steve Hammons
Populist Party of America
January 30, 2007

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