Donald Rumsfeld is in full damage control mode after a declassified memo from 2002 making the rounds revealed that he lied about Iraq’s “WMDs.” Like anyone desperate to sway public opinion and keep himself out of jail, Rumsfeld is giving interviews to tell “his side.” Why he decided to go The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is unclear. Colbert is a screaming liberal, very smart and very well-informed. Perhaps Rumsfeld thought he could outmaneuver the comedian? Maybe he thought Colbert would go easy on him? Maybe Rumsfeld is suffering from dementia?
Needless to say, the interview did not go well for Rumsfeld:
The talk show host said this showed Bush administration officials believed there were weapons of mass destruction — but they had no hard evidence of their existence.
“I believe that sincerely — I don’t think anybody made up the belief that there were weapons of mass destruction,” Colbert said, as Rumsfeld insisted those beliefs were sincere. “That is cynicism beyond what I would ever want to think of my government.”
“I believe that everybody believed that they were there, but there was no hard proof that they were there,” he continued. “And yet it was presented to the American people as if there was. So there was an unknown known for the American people. It was known that there was not hard evidence, but we were presented a partial picture — and that’s the unknown known that we were denied. Do you think that was the right thing to do?”
In this, Colbert is far nicer than I would have been. We already know that Bush and his neo-con administration wanted an excuse to invade Iraq. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Bush demanded that the intelligence community “find” a connection between Iraq and the attacks. When they couldn’t find a connection, one was manufactured for the sole purpose of selling the American people on the war. In this “known known” context, it takes very little to imagine Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld fabricating their “belief” in WMDs from whole cloth.
But the best moment came when Colbert got Rumsfeld to admit, out loud, that the utter certainty about WMDs that we were sold was, in fact, total bullshit:
“Were there things that the administration or you knew that we didn’t learn about out of the best possible intentions — which is, there were things that would undermine the case for a war you thought was necessary to save the United States,” Colbert said.
At last, Rumsfeld delivered a straight answer.
“The president had available to him intelligence from all elements of the government, and the National Security Council members had that information,” Rumsfeld said. “It was all shared, it was all supplied, and it’s never certain— if it were a fact, it wouldn’t be called intelligence.”
Translation into non-weasel speak: We lied when we said we “knew” for a fact that the WMDs existed.
If you’ll recall, the made up connection to 9/11 and WMDs were the entire basis for the Iraq War and Rumsfeld just admitted they lied about them.
For the revisionists out there, a quick history lesson. Rumsfeld didn’t say he “thought” Iraq had WMDs. Or that we were pretty sure or even very confident. He didn’t equivocate in the slightest. He said we knew where they were.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And is it curious to you that given how much control U.S. and coalition forces now have in the country, they haven’t found any weapons of mass destruction?
SEC. RUMSFELD: …We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.
-ABC’s This Week, 3/30/03
If the American people had been told that our intelligence on WMDs was as shaky as it actually was, no one but the most bloodthirsty among us would have supported it. Americans are more than happy to bomb people that attack us or a friend, but preemptive war is not, and has never been, a part of our DNA. Rumsfeld and his co-conspirators knew this so they lied through their teeth. It took a comedian to finally get one of the blood-soaked architects of America’s worst war since Vietnam to admit it.
Bravo, Mr. Colbert! Bravo!
Here’s the amazing video:
Featured image via screencap.