TODAY BEFORE THE COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS, DONALD RUMSFELD backed off the assertions of an active link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
In Jamie McIntyre’s CNN report, he writes:
When asked about any connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, Rumsfeld said, “To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two.”
Before the day ended, the Department of Defense issued a release stating that Secretary Rumsfeld did not mean what he said.
The DOD statement from Rumsfeld begins:
A question I answered today at an appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations regarding ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq regrettably was misunderstood.
I have acknowledged since September 2002 that there were ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq.
This assessment was based upon points provided to me by then CIA Director George Tenet to describe the CIA’s understanding of the Al Qaeda-Iraq relationship.
Today at the Council, I even noted that “when I’m in Washington, I pull out a piece of paper and say ‘I don’t know, because I’m not in that business, but I’ll tell you what the CIA thinks,’ and I read it.”
Apparently, Don Rumsfeld committed heresy and wasn’t free to think out of bounds. Good boy Don — please do this again, and again.
This reminds me of a time when I worked for Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and we were exploring different ideas on how to incentivize long-term share holding and create speed bumps in short-term stock churning. The thinking went that the increasing short-termism in the expectations of investors was leading to underinvestment in long-term human capital needs and technology R&D by public firms.
Two of the most thoughtful economic minds who had written widely on the subject of these kinds of disincentives for stock churning, or short-term securities excise taxes, were Lawrence Summers and Joseph Stiglitz.
After getting my Senator to quote them a couple of times in speeches, I had a phone call from the Congressional Affairs office of the Treasury Department. The liaison said: “When Dr. Summers joined the Treasury Department, he changed his mind on that subject.”
Rumsfeld’s heretical revelations have occasionally been significant and show that he at least sees a gap between the Bush administration’s line on things and what is real. Remember the Rumsfeld memo? It’s worth another read.
I still think Rumsfeld should have resigned or been fired over Abu Ghraib — but if he’s not going to go, then at least we should get the chance to hear him speak more frequently without his Dick Cheney-approved scripts.
— Steve Clemons