May 09, 2006

The Rumsfeld Heckler Speaks - My Meeting With Rumsfeld:
The event was said to be open to the public, but it took tradecraft skills assimilated over a 27-year career with the CIA to acquire a ticket. (The event was strangely absent from the Center’s website, reportedly at the insistence of the Defense Department.)...

I arrived at the Rumsfeld lecture early, took a seat near a microphone set aside for Q-and-A, and thought I might ask Rumsfeld to explain his use of the “bulletproof” adjective, which came at a time when none other than Gen. Brent Scowcroft was describing such evidence as “scant,” and the CIA was saying it was non-existent. (The 9/11 commission later ruled definitively in CIA’s favor.)

Rumsfeld brought up bĂȘte noire terrorist al-Zarqawi as proof of collaboration between al-Qaida and Iraq, but that was a canard easily knocked down. It appears that Rumsfeld thinks no one really pays attention. Sadly, as regards the mainstream press, he has been largely right—at least until now.

When Rumsfeld broadened our dialogue to include the never-to-be-found Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, saying, “Apparently, there were no weapons of mass destruction,” I could not resist...

That evening a friend emailed me about a call she got from a close associate in “upper management at CNN” to ask about me. She quoted the CNN manager: “We checked and double-checked everything this guy had to say and he was 100 percent accurate.” He then asked if those protesting the war “were getting organized or something.” She responded, “Indeed we are and have been for some time, and it’s about time the mainstream media caught up.” ...

In some press reports I was described as a “Rumsfeld critic” and “heckler” who was, heavens, “rude to Rumsfeld.” Other accounts referred to my “alleged” service with the CIA, which prompted my wife to question—I think in jest—what I was really doing for those 27 years. I believe I was able to convince her without her performing additional fact checking.

All in all, my encounter with Rumsfeld was for me a highly instructive experience. The Center’s president, Peter White, singled out Rumsfeld’s “honesty” in introducing him, and 99 percent of those attending seemed primed to agree. Indeed, their reaction brought to mind film footage of rallies in Germany during the thirties. When Rumsfeld replied to my first question about his false statements on Iraq 's WMD, the applause was automatic. “I did not lie then...,” he insisted.

This was immediately greeted with what Pravda used to describe as “stormy applause,” followed immediately by rather unseemly shouts by this otherwise well-disciplined and well-heeled group to have me summarily thrown out. At the end, as we all filed out slowly, I could make eye contact with only one person—who proceeded to berate me for being insubordinate.

Scary. No open minds there. A graphic reminder for those wishing to spread some truth around that we have our work cut out for us. We have to find imaginative ways to use truth as a lever to pry open closed minds.


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