In the cheshire cat mind of Donald Rumsfeld, President Obama is "worse than a trained ape." In Jung's terms, Rumsfeld projects on Obama. As Errol Morris's new film and interview below in the New York Times reveal, with this torturer, there is no there there.
In the American elite, we have a sorry spectrum from Obama, the cool manager of drones, force-feeding hunger strikers at Guantanamo (a form of torture), using mercenaries (privatization of the military) and a secret, tyrant's army - the Joint Special Operations Command - and now, accomplice to those officials in the Bush-Cheney regime who have been let walk for war crimes, ranging on to even more scary Republicans (endless new and unthought-out wars, torture and blithering bigotry). Oligarchy is, in foreign policy, an unchallenged force (i.e. no unions, no civil rights movements or mass movements except in cases of extreme outrage like Iraq or increasingly Palestine), and it is no wonder that Obama, once a community organizer and student of racism, is but the moderate wing (won't wage war in Iran, is avoiding big wars so far; has just proposed some serious limitation on NSA spying; and the like) of this, generally speaking, bizarrely arrogant aggressive grouping. Among politicians, if we continue to push from below, perhaps the Ron/Rand Paul skepticism of adventures abroad as a creator of hostility toward America may make some impact, along with Bernie Sanders and some others among Democrats.
But just think that such people - Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush, Rice and the like held the fate of humanity and could again. Colin Powell apparently objected privately to purposeless aggression - aggression is always evil, but the Iraq invasion had no serious basis except yearnings for oil and military bases, and even these, fortunately, were squandered, though at immense cost to ordinary Americans, by this feckless crew - and torture, but went along. What we have is a lame spectacle of self-important torturers on parade. See here and here.
Here is Andrew Sullivan, a decent Tory Royalist as he partly describes himself (add Catholic, gay, the first to see the merits in Obama's candidacy and a critic of some major faults in his policies, especially about torture) on Errol Morris's new movie "The Unknown Known" (the title, one assumes, speaks to Rumsfeld's Cheshire cat impression).
"Rumsfeld: Obama Worse Than A “Trained Ape”
MAR 25 2014 @ 11:38AM
For a video interview with Morris, see here.
What’s truly striking and amazing about Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld is their persistent refusal/inability to reflect in any serious way on the immense moral, fiscal, and human costs of their failed wars. They are post-modern creatures – Rumsfeld never tackled an insurgency, he just “redefined” the word, just as he re-named torture – and you see this most graphically in Errol Morris’s small masterpiece, The Unknown Known. And so the very concept of personal accountability and responsibility is utterly absent. There was one flash of it: when Rumsfeld offered his resignation after the torture program’s reach and migration was revealed in the photos from Abu Ghraib. But even then, Rumsfeld was resigning because of the exposure – not because of the war crimes which he directly authorized.
And so it is fitting, perhaps, that after the massive misjudgment of the Iraq invasion and occupation, and after neglect in Afghanistan made that country even less safe from the Taliban, that Rumsfeld has the gall to attack the sitting president in a clear case of dealing with a foreign leader. Here is Rumsfeld, unable (unlike McNamara) to find a conscience within his massive, brittle ego, lashing out at the president yet again:
'This administration, the White House and the State Department, have failed to get a status of forces agreement. A trained ape could get a status of forces agreement. It does not take a genius.'
Here is the man who derided half of Europe and told the Brits they weren’t even needed on the eve of warfare talking about diplomacy:
'United States diplomacy has been so bad, so embarrassingly bad, that I’m not the least bit surprised that he felt cornered and is feeling he has to defend himself in some way or he’s not president of that country. We have so mismanaged that relationship … I personally sympathize with him to some extent. Nobody likes to hear a foreign leader side with Putin on the Crimea the way he has. But I really think it’s understandable, given the terrible, terrible diplomacy that the United States has conducted with Afghanistan over the last several years.'
So having described the first black president as inferior to a trained monkey, he actually sides with a current adversary of this country against his own commander-in-chief. There was a time when I would have been shocked by this. But Rumsfeld and Cheney can permanently reduce one’s ability to feel shock at anything.
A reader adds:
'Rumsfeld fails to give his audience any hint of the fact that this is a problem that he made. America used to have no problem concluding SOFAs with its allies. Those agreements addressed Americans in uniform and provided that owing to the need for military discipline and control, the soldiers, sailors and airmen (and women) would be subject to military justice rather than the criminal justice system of the host government. However, under Rumsfeld, the footprint of the American military changed dramatically, and contractors came to constitute a majority of the force the US deployed. At the same time, American military and civilian justice failed utterly to deal with the contractors (think of the Blackwater contractors who massacred 14 Iraqis and wounded 20 more at Nissour Square in Baghdad in September 2008, for instance). These circumstances led both the Iraqis and the Afghans to refuse to sign a SOFA in the form the US sought, because the US’s terrible record (Rumsfeld’s record) of non enforcement. Thus, Rumsfeld created the problem and has made it increasingly difficult for the US to get these agreements.'
The key problems, Iraq and Afghanistan, were problems under Bush as well as Obama, and were handled by the same professional team at the Pentagon. They really have next to nothing to do with the White House, under either Bush or Obama. But they have an awful lot to do with Rumsfeld and his scandalous mismanagement of the Pentagon."
"The Certainty of Donald Rumsfeld (Part 1)
By ERROL MORRIS New York Times MARCH 25, 2014,
For cartoon and photos, see here.
This is the first installment of a four-part series.
Four kinds of persons: zeal without knowledge; knowledge without zeal; neither knowledge nor zeal; both zeal and knowledge.
– Pascal, Pensées
When I first met Donald Rumsfeld in his offices in Washington, D.C., one of the things I said to him was that if we could provide an answer to the American public about why we went to war in Iraq, we would be rendering an important service. He agreed. Unfortunately, after having spent 33 hours over the course of a year interviewing Mr. Rumsfeld, I fear I know less about the origins of the Iraq war than when I started. A question presents itself: How could that be? How could I know less rather than more? Was he hiding something? Or was there really little more than met the eye?
Many people associate the phrases the known known, the known unknown and the unknown unknown with Rumsfeld, but few people are aware of how he first presented these ideas to the public. It was at a Pentagon news conference on Feb. 12, 2002. Reporters filed in to the Pentagon Briefing Room — five months after 9/11 and a year before the invasion of Iraq. The verbal exchanges that followed provide an excursion into a world no less irrational, no less absurd, than the worlds Lewis Carroll created in Alice in Wonderland.
Jack McWethy, the ABC Pentagon correspondent, asked Rumsfeld about the containment policies of the Clinton administration.
The substance of Rumsfeld’s reply reiterated his previous condemnations of those policies — sanctions aren’t working, the no-fly zones produce little or no benefit, and Saddam is developing weapons of mass destruction. It was also a warning:
DONALD RUMSFELD: Every year that goes by and the inspectors are not there, the development of their weapons of mass destruction proceed apace, bringing them closer to a time when they will have those weapons developed in a form that is more threatening than it had been the year before or the year before that.
Jim Miklaszewski, the NBC Pentagon correspondent, asked another question.
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: In regard to Iraq weapons of mass destruction and terrorists, is there any evidence to indicate that Iraq has attempted to or is willing to supply terrorists with weapons of mass destruction? Because there are reports that there is no evidence of a direct link between Baghdad and some of these terrorist organizations.
DONALD RUMSFELD: Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, 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. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones. And so people who have the omniscience that they can say with high certainty that something has not happened or is not being tried, have capabilities that are — what was the word you used, Pam, earlier?
PAM HESS: Free associate. [The phrase “free associate” came earlier in the press conference in response to a question about drones.]
DONALD RUMSFELD: Yeah. They can do things I can’t do. (laughter)
Few people today remember that Rumsfeld was ostensibly responding to Miklaszewski’s request for evidence. What evidence do you have that Iraq is supplying terrorists with W.M.D.? Rumsfeld’s answer was a non-answer — not just an evasion or a misdirection. Many people believe Rumsfeld’s reply was brilliant. I think otherwise.
Miklaszewski was unsatisfied and was trying to pin him down. I sense his frustration. I share it. What is he saying? Miklaszewski continued:
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JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: Excuse me. But is this an unknown unknown?
DONALD RUMSFELD: I’m not —
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: Because you said several unknowns, and I’m just wondering if this is an unknown unknown.
DONALD RUMSFELD: I’m not going to say which it is.
Jamie McIntyre, the senior Pentagon correspondent for CNN, returned to the real question — the question of evidence.
JAMIE McINTYRE: I just want to — because you so cleverly buried Jim Miklaszewski’s question by characterizing it as something that was unknowable. But he didn’t ask you [about] something that was unknowable. He asked you if you knew of evidence that Iraq was supplying — or willing to supply weapons of mass destruction to terrorists —
DONALD RUMSFELD: He cited reports where people said that was not the case.
JAMIE McINTYRE: Right. He’s done that and —
DONALD RUMSFELD: And my response was to that, and I thought it was good response.
But McIntyre did not give up. And Rumsfeld slipped into more gobbledygook.
JAMIE McINTYRE: But if we are to believe things —
DONALD RUMSFELD: I could have said that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, or vice versa.
JAMIE McINTYRE: But we just want to know, are you aware of any evidence? Because that would increase our level of belief from faith to something that would be based on evidence.
DONALD RUMSFELD: Yeah, I am aware of a lot of evidence involving Iraq on a lot of subjects. And it is not for me to make public judgments about my assessment or others’ assessment of that evidence. I’m going to make that the last question.
The power of dogma versus evidence. We have been transported back to 1633. To Galileo Galilei standing before the Inquisition disputing the geocentric versus the heliocentric solar system. For the Inquisition, Galileo’s calculations conflict with dogma. But for Galileo, his calculations reveal the true nature of the universe — the true nature of reality. (The scene is memorialized in a painting by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury, Galileo Galilei Before Members of the Holy Office in the Vatican in 1633 — a painting of a painting with Raphael’s Disputation of the Holy Sacrament looming in the background.)
These 17th century debates remind us that if you have an unshakable belief in something, then no amount of evidence (or lack of evidence) can convince you otherwise. (There are always anti-rationalist objections to everything and anything. It is curious, however, to hear them in the 21st century rather than in the 17th.)
Robert-Fleury Joseph-Nicolas (1797-1890)/ Louvre, Paris, France/ Peter Willi/ The Bridgeman Art Library
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) before members of the Holy Office in the Vatican in 1633.
Jim Miklaszewski (NBC Pentagon correspondent), Pam Hess (former U.P.I. Pentagon correspondent) and Jamie McIntyre (former CNN Pentagon correspondent, now at NPR) were three of the reporters who questioned Rumsfeld in that exchange on Feb. 12, and I decided to interview each one of them. They were hearing about the “known” and the “unknown” for the first time. What did they make of it? I wanted to interview people who may have shared my frustrations with the answers that Rumsfeld offered to questions about evidence.
Pam Hess was my favorite. She worked for U.P.I. and A.P. and is now the executive director of Arcadia, a center for sustainable food and agriculture.
ERROL MORRIS: Rumsfeld clearly liked you.
PAM HESS: Yes, I think that’s true. He liked Mik [Jim Miklaszewski] and Jamie [McIntyre], as well. He liked a lot of the reporters. That was my impression. As the Secretary of Defense, he had so much power, and was obviously so confident, which you could also characterize in other ways —
ERROL MORRIS: In what other ways would you characterize it?
PAM HESS: [Laughs] Some people would call him arrogant. I just found him to be his own version of “extremely confident.” And I think he appreciated reporters because we didn’t have to kowtow to him. He enjoyed that he was finally in a place where people were saying what they thought. My impression was that he enjoyed the press conferences because he sort of got to bare-knuckle it.
ERROL MORRIS: He also got to perform.
PAM HESS: And he loved it. He’s an eminently confident person and therefore does not shy away from being the center of attention.
ERROL MORRIS: He might have liked to be confronted, but it’s not at all clear to me that he was responsive to the questions. Before he gave the “known and unknown” speech, Jim Miklaszewski asked, pointedly, “What evidence do you have that Saddam Hussein is providing W.M.D. to Al Qaeda?”
PAM HESS: The problem you have as a reporter is that you need facts. To really chase that rabbit down the hole — to take it apart — you needed more information than we had. We didn’t know that there were no weapons of mass destruction.
ERROL MORRIS: But you certainly you had suspicions —
PAM HESS: [The administration] may well have all believed that there were W.M.D. But honestly, if they went there and found nothing, how do you make a case for war? When Rumsfeld was selected as Secretary of Defense, that group of people came in with him — Feith and Wolfowitz and all the rest. Reporters would just look at their résumés and where they were coming from — and this was well before 9/11 — we were like, “How long before this war with Iraq starts?”
ERROL MORRIS: Did it seem like an inevitability?
PAM HESS: It was a difficult environment to report in. The anti-war crowd really wanted the reporters in that room to take up their fight. And that is something that we couldn’t do, professionally or ethically. We’re not there as antiwar protesters. We’re there as reporters, trying to assemble a public record. You had to have all your ducks in a row to ask a question and to be able to keep pursuing it, because he would find any weakness and take it apart. I thought of them as exit ramps. I tried not to give him exit ramps in my questions.
ERROL MORRIS: You were good at your job. You asked thought-provoking questions. You confronted him repeatedly.
PAM HESS: It was an intimidating room to be in sometimes.
ERROL MORRIS: You said that you were always looking for what would be his possible exit ramps? Could you give me an example?
PAM HESS: The “unknown unknown” is a perfect exit ramp. [Miklaszewski’s questions about evidence were never answered.] I remember a reporter asked a question that began, “It is said that … x.” And Rumsfeld pounced on the “It is said” part: “Who says that?” If there were any adjectives or adverbs that he could quarrel with, he would. Those were the exit ramps. I learned and others learned not to go in unprepared. You had to put together a question without exit ramps — that is, direct and short and getting exactly to what you want to know. And whether or not he answered it is another question. But at least you have a clear question on the record, and then you can judge his answer. I don’t mean this as an insult to him — but I think that there’s less there than people imagine. He’s who he is, and that’s it. That guy that you captured on film, that’s who he is exactly. And I think that freaks people out. Because he doesn’t have these layers of insecurity and self-doubt. He just doesn’t.
In 2003, Jamie McIntyre was the senior Pentagon correspondent at CNN. Now, he is a familiar voice on NPR’s All Things Considered. When I called him, he compared Rumsfeld, the subject of my current film, The Unknown Known, and Robert S. McNamara, the subject of an earlier film, The Fog of War. He told me about a trip he had taken with Rumsfeld. Fog served as inflight entertainment. Did Rumsfeld watch? Was he struck by any similarities? Jamie McIntyre asked him, but his question was quickly dismissed: “No, no, I wasn’t watching … If I have time I’ll watch it.” The story resonated with me. On our first meeting, I’d asked Rumsfeld if he had ever seen The Fog of War — I had actually sent him a copy. But it was never clear to me whether he had watched it. Notwithstanding, he told me, “that man [McNamara] had nothing to apologize for.”
ERROL MORRIS: I hadn’t realized that Rumsfeld’s recitation of the known and unknown was a response to a question by Jim Miklaszewski about evidence. It was a very, very specific question. And the answer is this evasion —
JAMIE McINTYRE: Pentagon reporters don’t really expect to get much information from briefings. The real reporting at the Pentagon is based on sources and relationships that you have with people — digging out the things that the Pentagon doesn’t want to say. So the briefings are a place where you can get people to put stuff on the record, and you can be on record asking tough questions. Reporters are trying to demonstrate that they’re independent, that they’re asking the tough questions, that they’re not cowed or intimidated by these officials.
ERROL MORRIS: Still things do come out of press conferences. Do you remember that press conference? The known and the unknown?
JAMIE McINTYRE: When he said it, I remember thinking, “Yeah, that’s true. It’s sort of self-evident, but it’s true: the things that we know, and the things that we don’t know, and the things we don’t know we don’t know.” After that, I remember some people were portraying it as some sort of gaffe — some bit of nonsense he had said that was convoluted and didn’t make any sense. Bob Gates, who came after Rumsfeld, had his own version of this thing. He came from an intelligence background, and he used to talk about the difference between “secrets” and “mysteries” — secrets being things that were knowable but we just don’t know them, and mysteries being things that are basically unknowable — as the difficulty that policy-makers have in making decisions about things because of the information they don’t have, the imponderables.
ERROL MORRIS: I sometimes think of it as the epistemology from hell: the known known, the known unknown —
JAMIE McINTYRE: What you see in Rumsfeld is based on how you feel about him. I actually liked him a lot. There’s a tendency to really demonize him, or, for the few people that really love Rumsfeld, to lionize him.
ERROL MORRIS: I was often struck by the difference between Rumsfeld and Robert McNamara. McNamara said that he never answered the question he was asked but rather the question that he wanted to be asked. Rumsfeld, on the other hand, would never answer the question he was asked or any other question — Ask Rumsfeld a question, and all you get is evasions. But are they just evasions or do they reveal a lack of substance? And McNamara expressed regret —
JAMIE McINTYRE: I know Rumsfeld well enough at this point to know that he’s never going to have this kind of epiphany. He’s never going to have this introspective moment where he realizes, even though we had the best intentions, that many of his decisions turned out to be disasters. It was rare that he would ever admit that he was wrong about anything. Part of his defense was that he was very adept at putting caveats into everything that he said so that he could go back later and cite the caveat. “I never said how long the war would last.” “I never said how many troops would be needed.” “I never said how much it would cost.” He was very slippery. You couldn’t pin him down on things. And his favorite technique, of course, was to challenge the premise of your question and never actually answer it.
Jim Miklaszewski has been the chief Pentagon correspondent at NBC for over 20 years. He’s still there.
ERROL MORRIS: Everybody knows about the known known, the known unknown, etc. But the first time Rumsfeld publicly mentioned it was in response to a question you asked — “What evidence do you have that Saddam is giving W.M.D. to terrorist organizations?”
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: There were many people within the U.S. military asking the same questions internally — “Have you seen or heard anything about the existence of W.M.D.s?” Which was a strong indication that many people within the senior military ranks were not convinced.
ERROL MORRIS: I think it’s amazing that people in the military were asking you for information about W.M.D. But you never really got a reply —
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: I mean, what do you do at a press conference? I thought I had challenged him about as far as he was going to let me go. Not that I needed his permission. But it was clear that he was not going to answer it beyond that, at that point … Whenever we go to these briefings and we question anybody — and particularly the secretary of defense — we’re not looking for opinions, we’re not looking for political spin. We’re just looking for facts. That’s what drives this press corps, covering the military in particular: “Just give us the facts and let us report them.”
ERROL MORRIS: You have a look on your face — maybe this is just my interpreting it — a look of bemusement.
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: Oh, no. Most good reporters are, in a sense, like lawyers — you ask a question, having a sense of what the answer, or at least part of the answer, is going to be. But with Rumsfeld, that really was never the case.
ERROL MORRIS: Could you see the war coming? Did it seem like the die was cast already in early 2002?
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: Well, I think the die was cast not only concerning weapons of mass destruction, but concerning the invasion and the immediate aftermath. For months after the Iraq war began, many — not just in the Pentagon but in the administration — failed to recognize that while the invasion was a success, the steps that the U.S. had taken immediately following the invasion were crumbling before their eyes: the de-Baathification, the disarming and dissolution of the entire military. This was something that Rumsfeld used to talk about, too, in the days after Baghdad fell. He was very dismissive of the fact that the looting [in 2003] signified anything except a brief period of lawlessness. But, again, I harken back to some of the military leaders who saw that, and immediately recognized that there was no structure left there, which did not bode well for the immediate, if not the distant, future security of Baghdad or of the entire country.
ERROL MORRIS: Do you think that Rumsfeld was in denial? That even he couldn’t see his way to the facts through the layers of fantasy that he constructed in promoting the Iraq war?
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: Well, not just him but the entire building was in denial. Doug Feith — don’t get me started on Doug Feith — told me that they had a Marshall Plan all set to go in terms of rebuilding Iraq. And he pointed to this stack of huge three-ringed binders, all of them black. There must have been about 10 of them stacked up on top of a cabinet. And I asked to see them, and he said, “No, you can’t. It’s classified.” And I said, “Well, O.K., I understand that, I guess.” But I raised it to somebody else within the next couple of weeks. I said, “Well, Doug Feith showed me the Marshall Plan for Iraq.” And this person laughed, and he said, “Mik, that was the Marshall Plan.” It was a copy of the original Marshall Plan, not a plan for Iraq.
ERROL MORRIS: Was Feith responsible for these, the two edicts that came out of Bremer — the de-Baathification edict, the disbanding of the military?
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: Well, no, because Rumsfeld would not have delegated that kind of authority or power to Feith, either. There were certain people that you could tell he would listen to intently, but it always looked to me, whenever Feith came around, it was, Rumsfeld was just very dismissive. He’d say, “O.K., well” — and then sort of shoo him away.
ERROL MORRIS: So who did Donald Rumsfeld listen to?
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: Donald Rumsfeld.
A couple of months after our discussion I received an email from Pam Hess. She had written down some notes, and finally decided to send them to me. She described these thoughts as “the mice running around in her brain opening up old doors.”
With regard to your central question: was it frustrating to cover Rumsfeld? The answer is no, mostly. I saw who he was pretty clearly and I didn’t expect to get much out of him — at least nothing he didn’t want to share — so I usually wasn’t frustrated. He met my expectations.
And to say it was frustrating would suggest that I thought I “knew” the truth and just couldn’t get him to admit it.
But the fact is, I didn’t know what was true regarding the intelligence — none of us did. So I tried to nibble around the edges of what was knowable. If I couldn’t see and judge the value of the intelligence for myself, I could at least try to figure out his decision process, what his thinking was, why he felt so clearly and strongly that war with Iraq was the right way to go — regardless of what the intel said — and try to capture that for the record. I was very curious about the narrative he was building. The “why” interested me more than the “what.”
A good way to describe the situation in that press room in the lead-up to the war was that the administration had this black box of intelligence, its contents known only to them. We were basically asking 20 questions about what was in the box. But without getting a peek at it ourselves, we were not in a strong position to challenge them factually — which is ultimately our only real power …
So I’d turn over everything he said in my head, try to square it up with everything we knew, and argue it out to myself from his perspective. And many times I’d hit a brick wall — I just couldn’t make sense of what I thought I knew to be true from what he said. And then my hand would shoot up involuntarily. I have seen tape of it actually happening. My brow gets knitted, I cock my head, then up goes the arm.
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His confrontational style encouraged me to have my facts down cold before I went in there. He’d destroy you if there was a weakness in your question, and you’d end up giving him the exit ramp he was looking for to get out of a difficult question while scoring points with his sizable fan base on TV.
I don’t think anyone could ever get him to admit regret or question his past actions. It’s not in his DNA, and I don’t think he feels regret for anything. This is a supremely self-assured person who believes he makes the best decisions possible given the information and the situation at hand, and then lets the chips fall where they may.
Critics attacked us because they thought they could do our job better — that if they had the opportunity to interrogate Rumsfeld, by golly they’d break him and get the truth!
Never gonna happen. He is, I believe, exactly who he presents to the world.
 McWethy died in a skiing accident shortly after he retired from ABC News. This was his question:
JACK McWETHY: Previous administrations have adopted the policy of trying to contain Saddam Hussein. And it appears from what the president has said and what Colin Powell has said that containment no longer works in the view of this administration, that the threat has somehow changed, increased, that the dynamics are different, and therefore regime change has become a more substantial goal for this administration than previous ones. Is that true?
 These assessments appear in a Rumsfeld memo from July 27, 2001, over a month before 9/11. If Clinton’s policy was containment, the policy of the new administration was regime change.
 Pam Hess, earlier in the news conference, had asked Rumsfeld and Richard Myers (the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs) about drones and their use by the C.I.A.
PAM HESS: Could I just get the two of you [Rumsfeld and Myers] maybe to free associate a little bit more on that subject? We’re seeing a —
DONALD RUMSFELD: To do what? (laughter)
PAM HESS: Free associate. (laughs) It’s a sort of touchy-feely ’70s term. (laughter)
RICHARD MYERS: I don’t believe I can —
DONALD RUMSFELD: You got the — you got the wrong guys! (laughter)
RICHARD MYERS: I don’t think I can do that with you. It’s illegal. (laughter)
 Doug Feith got his start in government in 1981 working for the National Security Council under his college mentor Richard Pipes, who headed up the Team B study challenging C.I.A. estimates of Soviet missile deployment. The next year, he went to the Defense Department to serve as Special Counsel to assistant secretary Richard Perle, neoconservative godfather. In the following years, Feith was influential in blocking ratification of changes to the Geneva Conventions that grant non-state actors prisoner of war status even if they fail to distinguish themselves from the civilian population. Under the Bush administration, he was the number three man at the Pentagon, overseeing the Counter Terrorism Evaluation Unit, which sought and publicized links between terror organizations and state sponsors, and the Office of Special Plans, tasked with postwar planning in Iraq.
Paul Wolfowitz also rose to prominence through his involvement with Team B, though he previously got his start in Washington as an aide to influential Senator Henry M. Jackson. Under Reagan, Wolfowitz became Director of Policy Planning at the Department of State and began at this point denouncing Saddam Hussein. He served as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy from 1989 to 1993 under then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, and was the author of the policy that became known as the Wolfowitz Doctrine, promoting unilateralism and pre-emptive military action against potential threats. He repeatedly expressed his regret that Saddam Hussein was not ousted in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Prior to George W. Bush’s election in 2000, Wolfowitz was one of the first members of a group of political heavyweights called The Vulcans, who were assembled to advise and coach the future president.
 From the April 9, 2003, defense briefing (http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=2339; video here: http://c-spanvideo.org/clip/4471808):
JAMIE McINTYRE: Mr. Secretary, here’s a single question that hopefully doesn’t lend itself to a one-word answer. (Scattered laughter.) What about Saddam Hussein? (Scattered laughter.)
DONALD RUMSFELD: (Sighs.) Exactly what is it about him that you’re interested in? (Laughter.) His health?
JAMIE McINTYRE: Where is he? Do you know where he is? Are you trying to get him? Is he likely to get away? Does it –
DONALD RUMSFELD: There’s no question but that — it is hard to find a single person. It is hard to find them when they’re alive and mobile, it’s hard to find them when they’re not well, and it’s hard to find them if they’re buried under rubble. We don’t know. And he’s not been around. He’s not active. Therefore, he’s either dead or he’s incapacitated, or he’s healthy and cowering in some tunnel someplace, trying to avoid being caught. What else can one say?
JAMIE McINTYRE: Will you get him?
DONALD RUMSFELD: Who knows? Who knows? Time will tell. The important things that needed to happen will happen. The regime will change, and the country will no longer have weapons of mass destruction. It will no longer threaten its neighbors. It will have an opportunity for the people of Iraq to participate in determining what kind of a government they want. And liberated people will be able to be free to say what they want and do what they want. They might even have a free press eventually there.
 L. Paul “Jerry” Bremer was installed as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority for Iraq in charge of reconstruction in May of 2003. In this role, Bremer was permitted to make rules by decree. Many people believe that his first two decrees, made in late May, were responsible for plunging Iraq into chaos and fueling the insurgency. Although there’s little disagreement about the effect of these decrees, there’s considerably more about whether they originated with Bremer, or, if not, where they came from. It seems unlikely that policy decisions of this magnitude would have been made without oversight from the Pentagon, the State Department or the White House."