Rumsfeld's Smoking Gun?
Another bombshell from Bob Woodward: Donald Rumsfeld told Saudi Prince Bandar that the war against Iraq was already guaranteed on January 11, 2003, months before the US declared war. The pledge was made while the Saudi Prince was being briefed on war plans and while negotiations in the UN were supposedly still continuing. In fact, even Colin Powell may not have been briefed at this stage!
In Rumsfeld's own words: 'I remember meeting with the Vice-President and I think Dick Myers and I met with a foreign dignitary at one point and looked him in the eye and said you can count on this. In other words, at some point we had had enough of a signal from the President that we were able to look a foreign dignitary in the eye and say you can take that to the bank this is going to happen.'
The Pentagontran published script of the conversation, but deleted this section and seven other passages. But Woodward had his own transcript, in which it is clear that the foreign dignitary Woodward was discussing was Prince Bandar, although Mr Rumsfeld would not say that. In fact, Rummy started back-peddaling immediately:
'We're going to have to clean some of this up in the transcript,' Mr Rumsfeld told Woodward. 'We'll give you a - I mean you just said Bandar and I didn't agree with that so we're going to have to - I don't want to say who it is but you are going to have to go through that and find a way to clean up my language too.'
Rumsfeld is (again) in damage control, as this interview on DefenceLink shows (warning: you may need a barf-bag). Interestingly, the ever-abrasive Rummy reveals some latent aggresion towards El Busho, who twice asked him to do interviews with Woodward: "I declined and the president asked me to please do it, so I work for the president, so I did it. And this time I declined again and the president asked me to do it, so I did it."
It's looking a lot like Bush is just a blind, arrogant, religious fool who is willfully ignorant of the dirty work being carried out by Rummy, Cheney, Ashcroft and other insiders. Why would he insist his staffers do interviews with Woodward, unless he really believes they have nothing to hide?
The Post also reports some interesting banter between Woodward and Rummy:
"You lie. You told people I stuck a finger in your chest," Rumsfeld said. "I never stuck a finger your chest."
"Yes sir, yes, yes," Woodward insisted.
"I never touched your chest."
"I swear you did."
"Yeah, you did."
"You did, physically. It wasn't hostile, you were illustrating a point. I explained that [in the first book]. I thought you scored a very good point, which was about surprise and off-balance."
"Oh yes," Rumsfeld said. "I did. I remember that, you're right."
"Exactly. . . . He's right. I'm wrong," Rumsfeld said.
"Okay. Good," Woodward said.
"I told you my memory is not that good."
"That's on the record I hope."
"Go to hell it is, that doesn't go on." [Laughter]
"We'll clean that up," said Rumsfeld spokesman Lawrence T. DiRita.
"And then we'll print it," Woodward said.