WaPo's William Arkin has posted a blog with the headline "Rumsfeld Didn't Lie, But He Should Still Go."
He quotes Rumsfeld's exchange with Ray McGovern and then writes: "If the issue here is Saddam Hussein's connection to al Qaeda and his involvement in 9/11, to the 'bulletproof' evidence the administration claimed, and more important for America, to the likelihood that Saddam would have ever shared any WMD with terrorists -- the true strategic assumption behind the Iraq war and the justification for our entire WMD obsessed foreign policy today -- McGovern scored."
No he did not, because this was not a basketball game. This was a rare instance of someone acting as a reporter and questioning a member of the gang that lied this country into an aggressive war. And it was not "the adminitsration" that made those claims. It was individual people, including Rumsfeld.
"But if the issue is Zarqawi, and a spooked and reeling Bush administration worrying that they just don't really know what's going on in places like Iraq, that they can't rely on the great CIA, and that they can't predict what will happen, Rumsfeld scored."
Again, this was not a basketball game. No scoring. Rumsfeld not only did not rely on the CIA. He created his own "intelligence" operation in the Pentagon called the Office of Special Plans. Has the Washington Post heard about this?
"Yesterday the Secretary of Defense was able to say without equivocation and hesitation that 'it appears there were not weapons of mass destruction' in Iraq, but that is not the headline. Certainly we remember not too long ago administration officials saying that WMD were still to be found, that it's not over 'til it's over."
Ponder for a moment the frame of mind of someone so unconcerned with the emergence of facts but obsessed with the statements of people in power that he imagines it is news that Rumsfeld admitted what the whole damn world knows. Amazing. Arkin has not said anything to suggest that Rumsfeld didn't lie, but he has explained the second half of his headline. Rumsfeld should go, he clearly thinks, because some powerful people have said so. What other reason could there be for anything to happen?
"In the end it comes down to McGovern's question: Why did you lie, not did you."
It does? OK, what's the answer? To either question. Did he lie? And if so, why?
"A better question for McGovern, once he was given a chance to talk, once he was standing their on television, once he had Rumsfeld captive, would have been: Mr. Secretary, do you now see that you or the administration were wrong about Iraq's WMD or the characterization of Iraq as imminent threat?"
So, rather than answering Ray's question which "it comes down to," Arkin is fantasizing about how much nicer it would have been had he asked a softball and let Rummy smash it out of the park.
"I know that Rumsfeld could have slipped away with some political answer. It is still a better question."
Why is it?
"I imagine McGovern's goal yesterday was to get on the evening news. It was a spectacle, and McGovern wasn't really seeking an answer to any question: he already had the answers; he was just seeking to expose."
Why imagine these things? You could ask Ray. Pick up the phone and call him. He might have some actual insight into what he was trying to do.
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