Mason encourages the prospective victim with a big smile:
“You’ll enjoy Mr. Barlow. And he’ll enjoy you.”
When former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld would speak to the American people, via the assortment of hacks the media corporations would send up to the Pentagon to be lied to by the war perps, he sounded a lot like the creepy curator of a vampiric obsession:
“You’ll enjoy the Iraq War. And it’ll enjoy you.”—Rumsfeld would say to the American people.
Today, the New York Times starts a four-part series, “The Certainty of Donald Rumsfeld”, where Errol Morris, who examined another vampire from another era, Robert S. McNamara, in the documentary, The Fog of War, looks at the strange, still deeply disturbing, story of how the American press simply went to sleep, dealing with Rumsfeld, and the rest of the Bush gang, during the Terror Wars.
Of course, Morris isn’t setting out to make that case exactly. What he is examining today are what Morris calls Rumsfeld’s most famous words, spoken in a Pentagon press briefing, back on February 12, 2002. (see video)
After being asked a fairly straightforward question by NBC Pentagon correspondent, Jim Miklaszewski:
“Is there any evidence to indicate that Iraq has attempted to or is willing to supply terrorists with weapons of mass destruction?”Rumsfeld went off on a silly, evasive anti-response, not in any attempt to answer that question of course, but rather as a way of punishing Miklaszewski’s stupidity and cowardice, in adding this bit to the end of his question:
“Because there are reports that there is no evidence of a direct link between Baghdad and some of these terrorist organizations.”As all the Pentagon reporters, whose memoirs of this incident are reviewed by Morris in his article, the last thing any Pentagon reporter wanted to do, in questioning Rumsfeld, was to try to armor up his question with bullshit. The fact “there are reports” is absolutely irrelevant. There could be reports claiming lots of dubious things, after all, or even claiming sound things. But saying that gave Rumsfeld what former UPI Pentagon reporter Pam Hess, called an “exit ramp”, or an escape from having to answer the real question.
Instead Rumsfeld said the following infamous gibberish:
“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”As you can see, Rumsfeld leaped right over the actual question to attack, in gayly sophistic terms, the strawman of crappy journalism, which while definitely an evasion, had the beneficial aspect for Rumsfeld of being a fair criticism. People who watched Rumsfeld manage the Pentagon reporters, like he was herding dumb sheep, were definitely watching a bunch of hacks, seemingly elevated to their positions on the basis of their willingness to comply with the post-9/11 rules of journalistic integrity—100% erased in service to the Bush regime's war crimes machine.
For example, after Rumsfeld turned to his gal pal, Pam Hess, to make a joke about the silly question involving “reports”, Miklaszewski managed to get a followup.
Now, you might think a proper followup would be something like:
“Mr. Secretary, if the Administration has evidence Saddam Hussein is handing out WMD to terrorists, the American people deserve to know this. When I asked you a straightforward question about this, you evaded by focusing on the part of my question you preferred to ridicule, instead of the question the American people need answered by their government.”And then Rumsfeld would probably have said something like:
“Excuse me, Jim, did somebody appoint you the spokesman for the American people, and their interests?”HAHAHAHA!!!
And that is when a good journalist would have said:
“Actually, that is exactly what we are supposed to be, Mr. Secretary. And getting the facts, instead of arrogant spin, out of government officials, is precisely what our job is all about. SO, why don’t you actually answer the question about the evidence you have or don’t have about Saddam giving out WMD to terrorists?”Then they would have escorted Miklaszewski out of the room, and had him shot. But at least he would have reminded that bunch of cowardly doofuses, including himself, how to deal with a serial evading killer, like Donald Rumsfeld.
Instead, Miklaszewski tried to outsmart Rumsfeld, by asking him if the evidence situation on Iraq’s WMD was one of the “unknown unknowns”. In other words, having seen Rumsfeld treat the question as a joke, Miklaszewski wanted to score some smartass joke points of his own.
Eventually, Jamie McIntyre would come back to paring down the question again—are you aware of any evidence?
But Rumsfeld wasn’t have any of it:
“Yeah, I am aware of a lot of evidence involving Iraq on a lot of subjects. And it is not for me to make public judgments about my assessment or others’ assessment of that evidence. I’m going to make that the last question.”At one point in Morris’ article, Pam Hess, who Morris calls “my favorite” (she seems to have been Rumsfeld's favorite too), makes the following defense of her reporter crew at the Pentagon:
“The anti-war crowd really wanted the reporters in that room to take up their fight. And that is something that we couldn’t do, professionally or ethically. We’re not there as antiwar protesters. We’re there as reporters, trying to assemble a public record.”Actually, Hess seems to have “reporter” confused with “stenographer”.
But on the point about reporters being professionally and ethically bound not to be in league with “the anti-war crowd”—she might as well have called them a stupid mob—is that really true?
Because, by only being concerned to create this “public record”, as supplied by the Bush gang, Hess and her comfy colleagues were failing to do their jobs—which is to pull apart the ivory tower to find the facts, NOT JUST for the public record, but to supply some idea of the truth to the American people. Remember them? Because they just might have been interested to know the case for war in Iraq was so dubious, and not a slam dunk, before the USA went off to lose, and to cause Iraq to lose, thousands of lives with no justifiable reason.
But, as Morris’ article makes quite clear, Hess and the other reporters were pleased to think that Rumsfeld, who should have been their adversary, was instead somebody who liked them, and who respected them as “people who [were] saying what they thought”.
Well, that’s really the problem. Because the press corps in the Bush years, at least up to the time of Katrina, simply changed the definition of what it meant to be a journalist. Very little discussion takes place in Morris' article about the right of the American people, through reporters, to confront and challenge the confident claims of public officials.
Morris does say that he at one point asked Rumsfeld to address this question, to finally explain to the American people why the US went to war in Iraq. Morris admits his frustration in being unable, in 33 hours of interviews!, to get a straight answer from Rumsfeld to that question.
Does it really take 33 hours to ask the only question that matters:
“You’re a war criminal, right, Rummy?”Not that we need Rummy’s answer to that, to know the truth, but you know, it might be instructive to see if he even bothers to spin it. My guess is he would smile and say “Next question, little doggy. What’s buried in Baghdad stays buried in Baghdad.”