Friday, May 05, 2006

Rumsfeld Ambushed

This amused me greatly:

ATLANTA, May 4 -- Antiwar protesters repeatedly interrupted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during a speech Thursday, and one man, a former CIA analyst, accused him in a question-and-answer session of lying about prewar intelligence on Iraq.

"Why did you lie to get us into a war that caused these kind of casualties and was not necessary?" asked Ray McGovern, the former analyst.

"I did not lie," shot back Rumsfeld, who waved off security guards ready to remove McGovern from the hall at the Southern Center for International Studies.

With support for the war in Iraq remaining low, it is not unusual for top administration officials to encounter protests and hostile questions.

But the outbursts Rumsfeld confronted on Thursday seemed beyond the usual.


See the Video

Ray McGovern served as a CIA analyst under every administration from Kennedy to Bush Sr and received the Intelligence Commendation Medal from George HW Bush. Full Bio

Mr. McGovern was later interviewd on CNN by Paula Zahn:

ZAHN: Did you go to this speech today with the intent of challenging Secretary Rumsfeld?

MCGOVERN: I had no predetermined objectives. I just wanted to see what he had to say. But I did get very motivated when the first lady was ejected ... from the crowd.

ZAHN: What was it, then, that you wanted to accomplish by following her rather pointed question?

MCGOVERN: Well, you know, she talked about lies. And I get very upset when Donald Rumsfeld shakes his head and says, "Lies, gosh, lies. I hate it when somebody says that our president would tell lies."

Of course, she hadn't said the president; she said Rumsfeld. But he said that lies are fundamentally destructive of the trust, without which government cannot work.

And that's true. And I found myself really agreeing with that.

ZAHN: Essentially, what he told you is: I never said exactly where the weapons of mass destruction were. I was referring to, we had a pretty darn good idea where the sites were. ... Do you buy what he said today?

MCGOVERN: His words [in 2003] were: "We know where -- where the WMD are. They're near Tikrit and Baghdad, and north, south, east, and west of there." That's a direct quote.

And when he used that wonderful non sequitur by looking at the uniformed personnel in the front row and saying: "Well, they went in with protective gear; they certainly thought there were weapons of mass destruction there." Well, my goodness, of course, they did. Because you, Donald Rumsfeld, told them that they were there.

And, you know, it's not polite to say this, but that was a bald-faced lie. And ... he should have owned up to it, if he wants there to be a modicum of trust.

ZAHN: How much of an ax do you have to grind with Secretary Rumsfeld?

MCGOVERN: It's not a matter of axes to grind. It's a matter of telling the truth.

And we pledged, in my day at the CIA, to tell it without fear or favor, to tell it like it is. And, when I see that corrupted, that is the real tragedy of this whole business.

ZAHN: There was a point where it appeared as though you were going to get kicked out.


ZAHN: Donald Rumsfeld encouraged whoever I think had their hands on you at the time to let you stay there. Does he get any credit for that today?

MCGOVERN: At first, I thought, "Well, that was rather gracious."But, then I got to thinking, I was not abusing the privilege. I was simply asking pointed questions. And for the national TV audience to see me carted away for asking Rumsfeld to explain what any objective observer would call a lie, that wouldn't have been good PR.

So, yes, I'm glad he let me stay. But I think it was for self-interested reasons.