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“Just Do As I Did”: Did Donald Rumsfeld Counsel President Obama To Lie So As To Create The Justification For Bombing Syria?

Every now and then, one sees something happen right before one’s eyes that defies the laws of time, space, reality and reason. Such a moment occurred yesterday during a truly remarkable appearance by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Neil Cavuto’s Fox Fox Business News program.

During the interview, Rumsfeld appeared to criticize the Obama Administration for failing to present a supportable argument as to why an attack on Syria is in our nation’s best interest.

“There really hasn’t been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation,” said Rumsfeld.

On the surface, it would appear that Rumsfeld’s criticism was meant to remind the President that—before tossing in those Tomahawk missiles—he needs to present the American people (who largely oppose any American involvement in Syria) with a solid explanation as to why it is in our nation’s best interest to become involved with the Syrian civil war.

I actually agree with the substance of Rumsfeld remarks on their face. While there is nothing to confirm that President Obama has yet to make a decision to take military action in Syria, it is important that the public know all of the facts and be privy to the administration’s thinking should the President ultimately decide to become embroiled in yet more Middle East madness.

However, I say that I agree with Rumsfeld’s remarks “on their face” because I find it nearly impossible to believe that the one time Secretary of Defense would dare to offer such a remark—given his own stunningly horrendous track record on the subject—unless he had  another motive entirely in offering such advice to the President—a motive I would likely not agree with in any way whatsoever.

When one has led one of the most heinous conspiracies in modern American history—a conspiracy to create such a justification for war out of whole cloth and lies for the purpose of tricking the country into supporting an unnecessary invasion—I don’t think it unreasonable to expect that this individual should forever waive the right to advise presidents, politicians or the local street sweeper on such matters. This is particularly true when that individual’s efforts to fabricate and sell a justification for war has led to the death, disfigurement or disability of thousands of Americans while wasting trillions of taxpayer dollars in the process.

Donald Rumsfeld is the perfect embodiment of such an individual and he must know it—so much so that it would seem inconceivable that a man who has committed the crimes against his fellow Americans that Donald Rumsfeld has committed could possibly have the hubris to appear on TV to advise a sitting president on the importance of justifying military action.

That is, unless Rumsfeld had something very different in mind.

Maybe Donald Rumsfeld was attempting to send President Obama a very different message—if you can’t provide the country with a fact-based, valid justification for bombing Syria in retribution for the Assad government’s gassing its own citizens in the dead of night, then do as I did and get busy creating enough facts to make it look good.

After all, who knows how to fabricate a justification for war better than Donald Rumsfeld?

In case you’ve forgotten, here are but a few of Rumsfeld’s greatest hits—

As recounted by former Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O’Neill, the first order of business during the Bush Administration’s very first national security meeting was toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein. According to O’Neill, the discussion was  “all about finding a way to do it. The president saying, “Go find me a way to do this.”

Bush didn’t need to tell Donald Rumsfeld twice. The record is all too clear that the Secretary of Defense gladly took up his boss’s challenge and went looking for a story he could sell to the country in order to take out Saddam Hussein.

When the 9-11 attacks happened, Rumsfeld saw his opportunity.

Before long, we were told that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that he would use against American interest if we failed to topple his regime. Of course, no such weapons have ever been located.

Then we were introduced to the lie purporting that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium-rich yellowcake from Nigeria in furtherance of his plans to create atomic weapons to be used against American interests—despite ample, proven factual evidence that this was never the case.

And, of course, the greatest hit of them all, Rumsfeld and friends sought to convince us that Saddam was somehow behind the 9/11 attack despite it being crystal clear to the Department of Defense and the remainder of the government that this was never the case.

While the record is clear that Rumsfeld and Cheney sought to tie Saddam to the 9-11 attack within hours of the first plane slamming into the World Trade Center, many supporters of Rumsfeld continue to claim that this was never the case. Yet, the proof of this effort has always been available for all to see, memorialized in writing in the March 18, 2003 letter from President Bush to Congress seeking authorization to use force against Iraq.

“(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.”

So outrageous is the notion that Donald Rumsfeld would appear on television and presume to offer his counsel on the importance of the administration setting forth a legitimate case to engage in military action before doing so, one struggles to understand how the irony and stomach churning result of Rumsfeld’s appearance could possibly escape him or anyone else.

Accordingly, a sane individual is left to conclude that either Donald Rumsfeld is either the most despicably clueless man in America—a real possibility, I grant you—or that he was trying to tell the current occupant of the White House to do as he did—if you want to go to war, just lie.

Either way, Donald Rumsfeld has no standing nor right to speak a word on the subject of justifying military action unless it is to provide the nation with a full confession of his own terrible sins. To presume otherwise is an unspeakable offense to the American public, particularly when it comes to those who lost loved ones in a well-packaged, falsely justified and wholly unnecessary war based solely on Donald Rumsfeld’s lies.


By: Rick Ungar, Op-Ed Contributor, Forbes, August 29, 2013

August 30, 2013 Posted by | National Security | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“When Used For The Right Purpose”: Was Cheney Right That “Deficits Don’t Matter”?

After the Republicans gained control of the US Senate in the 2002 election, giving them across-the-board dominance of the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, the key players in the administration of President George W. Bush gathered to discuss fiscal policy.

Vice President Dick Cheney wanted to cut taxes for the rich.

Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill was skeptical. According to his recounting of the incident in Ron Suskind’s brilliant book, The Price of Loyalty, O’Neill expressed concern that a trillion dollars worth of tax cuts had already been enacted. O’Neill was no liberal. He liked tax cuts. But with the country rebuilding from the economic slowdown after the 9/11 attacks, and with a war being fought in Afghanistan and another on the horizon in Iraq, O’Neill noted that the budget deficit was increasing. And he argued against Cheney’s position, suggesting that another tax cut was unnecessary and unwise.

“You know, Paul, Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter,” said the vice president. “We won the mid-term elections, this is our due.”

O’Neill was, according to Suskind, left speechless.

But Cheney wasn’t done. He and the Bush-Cheney administration that he served as CEO piled up deficits and debts. Indeed, as The New York Times has well noted, “Under Mr. Bush, tax cuts and war spending were the biggest policy drivers of the swing from projected surpluses to deficits from 2002 to 2009. Budget estimates that didn’t foresee the recessions in 2001 and in 2008 and 2009 also contributed to deficits. Mr. Obama’s policies, taken out to 2017, add to deficits, but not by nearly as much.”

Now, a decade later, Cheney’s party is arguing that deficits matter. A lot. House Republicans are so fretful that they are willing to steer the country toward chaos by refusing the compromises that would avert across-the-board sequester cuts. Other Republicans uncomfortable with sequestration are pushing an austerity agenda that’s better organized than the sequester, but potentially even more painful.

So was Cheney right in 2002? Or is he right, now, when he cheers on Republican attacks on Obama’s spending and says, “I worship the ground Paul Ryan walks on”?

The fact is that deficits are relevant.

So are debts.

Nations must treat them seriously.

But nations do not have to fear deficits, any more than Dick Cheney did on that day in the fall of 2002. And in that sense Cheney was right: deficits don’t matter if they are employed for a purpose. Cheney’s purpose—cutting taxes for the rich—was dubious. But stimulating the economy, expanding access to healthcare, funding state and local governments and protecting seniors on Social Security… these are good, and necessary, purposes.

Spending has value, especially when it is needed. As Bob Borosage of the Campaign for America’s Future reminds us: “The U.S. has witnessed slow growth since coming out of the Great Recession in 2009. The result has been a deficit that has come down from over 10 percent of gross domestic product to a projected 5.3 percent of GDP this year (slightly higher if Congress is sensible enough to repeal the sequester) and a projected 2.4 percent in 2015 (if congressional austerity bombs don’t blow up the weak recovery).”

For Cheney’s political heirs to claim now that the United States is in crisis, or at a “tipping point,” is absurd. For them to refuse to govern until they get their way, throwing one tantrum after another, is irresponsible. For them to see value in sequester cuts that impose real pain on real people is not just crude, it’s economically senseless—and dangerous to the long-term prospects for economic renewal and growth.

President Obama needs to push back against the deficit fabulists. He does not have to echo Cheney’s glib “deficits don’t matter” talk. But he should explain, as economist Dean Baker does, that the ranting and raving about deficits and debts by groups such as Pete Peterson’s Fix the Debt campaign and its co-chairs, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, is “the great distraction.”

America should be focused on the economic challenges that have slowed our economy, and that have caused our government to run up deficits and debts. We need to be focused on putting people to work and growing the economy, not playing sequester games that result in real job losses and create an equally real threat of recession.

When the Fix the Debt crew gather, as Baker has noted, “many of the people most responsible for the current downturn come together to tell us why we should be worried about the deficit at a time when 25 million people are unemployed, underemployed or have given up looking for work altogether and millions face the prospect of losing their homes.”

Our concern as a country should be with shaping the policies and making the investments that find work for the jobless and create the robust economic growth that creates surpluses. That’s far more vital than the focus on fiscal issues and the deficits that Dick Cheney explained—back when he was in power—“don’t matter.”


By: John Nichols, The Nation, March 1, 2013

March 4, 2013 Posted by | Deficits | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Quickly We Forget: Dick Cheney, “Deficits Don’t Matter”

Sure, it’s huge, but big deficits don’t always lead to bad economic health. As we found during The Great Depression, the opposite is also true.

For those worried about the future, huge federal deficits remain the gift that keeps on giving, or taking, depending on your point of view. They are always around, always huge, and seem to be an issue that neither party has immunity from.

If you care to bash Republicans over this issue you need look no further than former Vice President Dick Cheney who told former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill that “deficits don’t matter” when the latter voiced concerns about the size of the federal bill. Cheney later fired O’Neill, presumably for thinking deficits actually mattered.

Still, Cheney was true to his word, as the White House of George W. Bush raised the federal deficit every year it was in office. When Bush started his presidency, the national debt as a percentage of gross domestic product hovered at 60%. By the time he exited, it was closer to 80%. Surely the first part of President Obama’s term will see that ratio only rise further, as the federal government fully deploys the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, the $200 billion Term Asset Backed Loan Securities Facility and the $500-$1 trillion Public-Private Investment Program, among other alphabet soup bailouts.

Of course, to critics of Obama, including conservatives, now deficits do matter a lot more than they did a year ago. Look no further than the well-covered “tea parties” to see an instance where partisanship has seemed to trump fiscal stewardship, or at least short-term memory.

By: David Serchuk: Article originally posted August 5, 2009,

April 16, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Deficits, Democracy, Democrats, Dick Cheney, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, Federal Budget, GOP, Government, Ideology, Lawmakers, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Teaparty | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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