Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Rummy Splits Hairs Over Wording On Iraq

United States Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has decided that the best thing to do in order to distance himself from his own statements concerning Iraq is to berate reporters over the specific wording he may have used in the early days of the invasion. Donny has quite a bit of egg on his face concerning his rather declarative statements concerning the disposition of Iraqi civilians to the virtual destruction of their country and supposed WMDs. But when confronted by these statements, he has decided to launch Operation Semantics.

For example, on Feb. 20, a month before the invasion, Rumsfeld fielded a question about whether Americans would be greeted as liberators if they invaded Iraq.
"Do you expect the invasion, if it comes, to be welcomed by the majority of the civilian population of Iraq?" Jim Lehrer asked the defense secretary on PBS' "The News Hour."
"There is no question but that they would be welcomed," Rumsfeld replied, referring to American forces. "Go back to Afghanistan, the people were in the streets playing music, cheering, flying kites, and doing all the things that the Taliban and the al-Qaeda would not let them do." The Americans-as-liberators theme was repeated by other senior administration officials in the weeks preceding the war, including Rumsfeld's No. 2 - Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz - and Vice President Cheney.

But on Sept. 25, - a particularly bloody day in which one U.S. soldier was killed in an ambush, eight Iraqi civilians died in a mortar strike and a member of the U.S-appointed governing council died after an assassination attempt five days earlier - Rumsfeld was asked about the surging resistance.
"Before the war in Iraq, you stated the case very eloquently and you said . . . they would welcome us with open arms," Sinclair Broadcasting anchor Morris Jones said to Rumsfeld as the prelude to a question. The defense chief quickly cut him off.
"Never said that," he said. "Never did. You may remember it well, but you're thinking of somebody else. You can't find, anywhere, me saying anything like either of those two things you just said I said."

He's a slippery one, alright. Let's see what he may or may not have said about weapons of mass destruction. When testifying about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction before the House Armed Services Committee Sept. 18, 2002, Rumsfeld said Saddam "has amassed large clandestine stocks of biological weapons." including anthrax and botulism toxin and possibly smallpox. His regime has amassed large clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons, including VX and sarin and mustard gas."
Saddam "has at this moment stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons," he later added, repeating the charges the next day before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He repeated that theme in the weeks preceding the war. Last month, after U.S. weapons hunters reported to the administration and Congress that they have yet to find a single weapon of mass destruction in Iraq, Rumsfeld was asked about his earlier statements.
A reporter at a Pentagon news conference asked: "In retrospect, were you a little too far-leaning in your statement that Iraq categorically had caches of weapons, of chemical and biological weapons, given what's been found to date? You painted a picture of extensive stocks" of Iraqi mass-killing weapons.
"Wait," Rumsfeld interjected. "You go back and give me something that talks about extensive stocks. The U.N. reported extensive stocks. That is where that came from. I said what I believed to be the case, and I don't - I'd be surprised if you found the word 'extensive."'
And he's right. He never specifically used the word "extensive". At least he has good recall over what he said. But, of course, he will start to deny that too when elections come back up. I have a funny feeling he won't be getting his old position back.

A special thanks goes out to Eric Rosenberg of the Hearst Newspapers and the fine people of the Ocala Star Banner, because I ripped about 85% of this article from their site. See, it's not plagiarism if you give credit where credit is due.

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