Donald Rumsfeld is our nation's longest serving Secretary of Defense, and the only Secretary to serve in that post under two different Presidents, Gerald R. Ford and George W. Bush. On April 1, 2007, I had the privilege of interviewing Secretary Rumsfeld by telephone from an undisclosed location.
The Talking Dog Secretary Rumsfeld, I can't thank you enough for agreeing to this interview. May I say how open-minded it is for you to speak with me, given how critical of you I have been, particularly of detention policies you administered and authorized that I believe verge on, if not outright constitute, war crimes. Do you have a comment on that?
Donald Rumsfeld: Stuff happens. It's untidy, and freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.
The Talking Dog On the subject of detention policy, can you comment on the recent confession at Guantanamo by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the recent guilty plea there by Australian national David Hicks, who received a 9-month sentence after we held him for over 5 years?
Donald Rumsfeld: You go to asymmetrical war with the rack and thumbscrews that you have, not with the rack and thumbscrews that you might want or wish to have at a later time.
The Talking Dog Let's turn to Iraq... as you know, Congress is debating whether to tie continued funding of the Iraq War to binding or non-binding schedules for troop withdrawal. If I might ask, how do you think this will work out... how long do you think our troops will remain in Iraq?
Donald Rumsfeld: The Gulf War in the 1990s lasted five days on the ground. I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months. But it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that.
The Talking Dog The President has threatened to veto any bill purporting to "limit his options" militarily... even if it delays funding of the war, do you believe that the President's position on that is justified?
Donald Rumsfeld: Needless to say, the President is correct. Whatever it was he said.
The Talking Dog: Do you have any overall thoughts about the wisdom of the view now seemingly held by over 59% of the American people that we should set a timetable for withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq?
Donald Rumsfeld: If we left Iraq prematurely, the enemy would tell us to leave Afghanistan and then withdraw from the Middle East. And if we left the Middle East, they’d order us and all those who don’t share their militant ideology to leave what they call the occupied Muslim lands from Spain to the Philippines.
The Talking Dog: If I might, can I ask you about some of the background for the ultimate decision to go to war in Iraq... for one thing, can you comment on the pre-war intelligence?
Donald Rumsfeld: Oh my goodness gracious, what you can buy off the Internet in terms of overhead photography! A trained ape can know an awful lot of what is going on in this world, just by punching on his mouse, for a relatively modest cost.
The Talking Dog: Well, given that the so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction were never found in Iraq...
Donald Rumsfeld: We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat. There's another way to phrase that and that is that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. It is basically saying the same thing in a different way. Simply because you do not have evidence that something does exist does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn't exist.
The Talking Dog Let me turn to a slightly different subject... what do you believe the prospects are that we will eventually bring Osama bin Laden and the other Al Qaeda leadership to justice?
Donald Rumsfeld: We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama Bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead.
The Talking Dog Can you be any more specific than that?
Donald Rumsfeld: I don't know what the facts are but somebody's certainly going to sit down with him and find out what he knows that they may not know, and make sure he knows what they know that he may not know. 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. I believe what I said yesterday...I don't know what I said, er, but I know what I think, and...well, I assume it's what I said.
The Talking Dog: Secretary Rumsfeld, I know your time is very valuable, so why don't I give you this opportunity to comment on anything I have asked you in further detail, or if there is anything I should have asked you but didn't, or anything else my readers need to know?
Donald Rumsfeld: I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past - I think the past was not predictable when it started.
The Talking Dog: Secretary Rumsfeld, I join all my readers in saying thank you for that interview.
Why do I have a feeling, that if this were real, it would really go like this.
Posted by Dale J. Thomas at April 1, 2007 11:10 PM
But, but TD! Where was the Secretary on September, 11 ??
Posted by alicia at April 2, 2007 12:06 PM
I'll be damned if I re-trace interview questions asked by Larry King... as always, here at TTD, we give you the unvarnished facts, with only enough snark to put them in context...
Here is the Larry King/Donald Rumsfeld interview re: SecDef's location on 11 Sept.:
KING: You were right here when the Pentagon...
RUMSFELD: I was.
KING: And someone told me that you had spoken to a congressional delegation...
RUMSFELD: Right here in this room.
KING: ... in this room about terrorism that morning. RUMSFELD: I had said at -- I had an 8 o'clock
breakfast -- that sometime in the next two, four, six, eight, 10, 12 months, there would be an event that
would occur in the world that would be sufficiently shocking that it would remind people, again, how important
it is to have a strong, healthy Defense Department that contributes -- that underpins peace and stability in our
world. And that is what underpins peace and stability. It's the fact -- we can't have healthy economies and
active lives unless we live in a peaceful, stabile world. And I said that to these people.
And someone walked in and handed a note that said that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. And
we adjourned the meeting. And I went in to get my CIA briefing right next door here, and the whole building
shook within 15 minutes. And it was a jarring thing.
KING: And you ran toward the smoke?
RUMSFELD: Oh, goodness, who knows? I wanted to see what had happened. I wanted to see if people
needed help. And went downstairs and helped for a bit with some people on stretchers. And then I came
back up here and started to realize I had to get back up here and get at it.
KING: I know we're out of the allotted time, but Gary Hart has said that he expects -- his commission
previously said this would happen. You were pretty prophetic that morning. But it's going to happen again.
RUMSFELD: Well, we have to recognize that it's a dangerous and untidy world. There's a lot of very powerful,
lethal weapons that exist and ways that people can impose enormous damage. And we have to be vigilant.
We have to be willing to invest to see that we have the kinds of capabilities that we can deter and defend
and, where necessary, preempt.
KING: But it's an every-minute job.
RUMSFELD: It is. It is.
KING: Thank you, as always.
RUMSFELD: Thank you. Appreciate it.
KING: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Posted by the talking dog at April 2, 2007 12:38 PM
Posted by alicia at April 2, 2007 1:57 PM
My cat jumped three feet when I laughed out loud at about this point:
"... there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know. I believe what I said yesterday...I don't know what I said, er, but I know what I think, and...well, I assume it's what I said."
Next interview please ask Donnie about the WMD discovery in Iraq where they dug up a so called "part from a centrifuge" under some man's rose bushes ... kinda like "pieces parts."
There was great expectation behind that find.
Posted by Granny at April 2, 2007 10:04 PM
Why hasn't Donal Rumsfeld been committed to an insane asylum? This main is clearly loony.
Posted by david ferguson at April 3, 2007 1:02 PM