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Known and Unknown
by Donald Rumsfeld
(Click for Amazon book review)
OnTheIssues.org BOOK REVIEW:
Donald Rumsfeld famously said in a 2002 press interview, "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."
That confused many members of the press, and many concluded that Rumsfeld was just toying with the press. The title of Rumsfeld's memoir would seem to continue Rumsfeld's making fun of the press. Some have defended Rumsfeld's 2002 statement as brilliant rather than mocking, so perhaps Rummy is just pointing out with the title "Known and Unknown" that most of us are just too dumb to get it.
We found one "unknown unknown" in this book of great interest. Rumsfeld reports (p. 448) that in 2003, the US Army entered Khurmal, Iraq, and confirmed an already-known WMD facility (constructing Weapons of Mass Destruction): "By then, much of the facility had been destroyed by cruise missile strikes and fighting on the ground, but clear signs of chemical weapons production were found, including chemical hazard suits, manuals to make chemical weapons in Arabic, and traces of the deadly toxins cyanide, ricin, and potassium chloride." We're unclear if this is a new revelation in this book, but an Internet search of the term "Khurmal" yields only refutations that it contained no WMD facility.
Since WMDs in Iraq were Pres. Bush's primary rationale for the invasion of Iraq, and since "Khurmal" was cited by Colin Powell in his UN speech encouraging the Iraq invasion, this would seem to be a key piece of evidence. Had this piece of information been made public, Americans would have to say that, indeed, Pres. Bush had been right all along, instead of the current conclusion that the rationale for invasion was mistaken. So why would the Bush administration not reveal this key evidence? Rumsfeld concludes: "For whatever reason, the administration never made public these facts about an active WMD production facility run by terrorists in Iraq."
Huh? I find that passage as confusing as Rumsfeld's famous 2002 statement. I'm unclear if Rumsfeld is contending that Saddam had WMD after all. Rumsfeld says (p. 449), "Powell was not duped or misled by anybody, nor did he lie about Saddam's suspected WMD stockpiles. The President did not lie. The Vice President did not lie. Rice did not lie. I did not lie. The Congress did not lie. The far less dramatic truth is that we were wrong."
Huh, again? Wrong about what? If the war rationale about WMD was wrong, then what was the Khurmal passage about? And what was at Khurmal then? There are just so many unknown unknowns here -- I must be too dumb to get it!
-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, OnTheIssues.org, November 2011
by Donald Rumsfeld.
Page last edited: Mar 12, 2012