An Unknown Unknown Made Known Known

[NB: Check the byline, thanks./~Rayne]

Others have already “eulogized” former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who passed away today at age 88 — an age many victims of his war crimes and unlawful warfare will never attain. I really don’t think I can add something cogent at this time to others’ remarks on Rumsfeld’s passing.

Instead of a “eulogy,” I’ll note this site published at least 50 posts tagged “Donald Rumsfeld,” nine more related to “Hamdi v. Rumsfeld“, and an entire category with more than 1,000 posts labeled “Torture” through which you can revisit Rumsfeld’s legacy, not to mention hundreds of posts under “torture tapes” and “torture tape.” (Obviously Rumsfeld leaves behind a mess of tagging and categorizing cleanup.) Don’t forget the Torture Tape Timeline.

For once I will heed the adage about saying nothing if you can’t say anything nice.

But this is nice:

Formez la deuxième ligne. Add your “eulogy” in comments below.

62 replies
    • tinao says:

      There is a hell Hopeful. As I understand it, when you physically pass, you either move closer to the source of all (heaven) or you move away from it (hell.) Thou mayest, which to me means the choice above is attained or not by free will. God/The Source’s gift to us all.

  1. punaise says:

    Dragging this forward from the previous thread, where it was OT:

    As Charles P. Pierce pithily puts it:

    You Go to Hell With the Alibis You Have

    Donald Rumsfeld died on Wednesday. He was 88 years old, an age thousands of Iraqis will never reach because of him.

    “Rumsfeld was one of the prime architects of the worst foreign policy disaster undertaken by this country since it subbed in for France in Indochina. That’s Line One of the obituary, just as it should be the first line in those that are coming for Powell, and Dick Cheney, and the president that they served.”

    As Trump-PTSD victims we may be tempted to say “Oh, Bush wasn’t so bad”. But they all need to rot in hell.

    • PieIsDamnGood says:

      Trump wouldn’t have been able to destroy our belief in truth if Bush/Cheney/Rummy hadn’t contributed to the project.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      More from Charlie Pierce:

      [U]ntil his star turn in the Bush Administration, Rumsfeld was a run-of-the-mill upper-level Republican apparatchik. He was Gerald Ford’s chief of staff, and then his Secretary of State [sic, his SecDef], the youngest person to hold that job at the time. But then, after a 23-year hiatus as a corporate lawn ornament, he came back to the Pentagon and defined himself for all eternity as the man on whose watch we became a country that tortured people, a distinction that Rumsfeld bragged on long after he was fired in 2006.

      • bmaz says:

        I love Charlie, but Rummy, like Cheney, was never “run of the mill”. My have bee malefactors supreme, but were far more that “run of the mill”.

        • Wajim says:

          Roger that. We underestimate these people, who are willing to do things well beyond what you or I would ever do

  2. P J Evans says:

    One of his authorizations had the hand-written note that he stood for as long as 10 hours a day. My first though was “you got to move around without punishment, too”.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      One of Rummy’s more laughably defensive dismissals. As the boss, he could walk, run, stand or sit at will, shout orders, do nothing or do everything. As a prisoner, unrelieved forced standing is a painful part of a psychological torture program. It is designed to make you feel complicit in your own misery, to dominate and exhaust and you, and make you feel powerless and hopeless, so that you will cooperate and spill whatever beans you have, and those you don’t, such as a false confession to make the pain go away.

      Rummy knew the difference, but narcissist that he was, he didn’t think you should know it, but didn’t give a shit if you did.

      • RMD says:

        the ‘designers’ advertised that these torture methods would yield “actionable, real-time intelligence”, the overwhelming evidence is that they did not.

        • RMD says:

          A summary of the Senate’s report’s findings include:

          ▪ CIA torture techniques “did not effectively assist the agency in acquiring intelligence or in gaining cooperation from the detainees.” The agency is said to have exaggerated the value of intelligence their interrogations produced, a lie meant to argue for allowing even more brutal interrogation.
          ▪ In addition to lying to government officials about the effectiveness of torture, the CIA manipulated the media by leaking classified information that made it seem like torture was extremely effective in gaining new intelligence.
          ▪ The CIA’s torture program “complicated, and in some cases hindered the national security missions” of other agencies.
          For example:
          Torture—specifically, mock burial and waterboarding—led Ibn Sheikh Al-Libi, an al Qaeda training camp director, to tell the CIA in 2002 that Iraq and Al Qaeda were working as a team with deadly chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
          Al-Libi likely told his captors false information in the hopes that the torture would end. That’s the exact behavior that U.S. military and law enforcement handbooks predict when they explain that torture consistently yields unreliable information. Victims will say anything in order to make the pain stop.
          Still, Bush and his administration offered Al-Libi’s story as proof that when making the case for a 2003 war in Iraq: Saddam Hussein was not only working with al Qaeda, the president said, but they had deadly chemical weapons that had to be destroyed.



          “The Senate report concludes that the brutal techniques did not add valuable information to what had been already obtained through less coercive means.”

          at: </blockquote.

        • BobCon says:

          It’s worth noting that a ton of the input from the hired gun psychologists was total BS. They were there to put a layer of gloss over torture, not to come up with any kind of scientific program.

          As that article quotes Dr. Charles Morgan “They’re not really scientists.”

          Mitchell and Jessen knew they were there to do no more than dig through studies and find some kind of cites to provide rationales, no matter how thin, for torture. Everything else — information gathering, deprogramming — was beside the point.

  3. BalifartheLost says:

    A brilliant warrior, but an amoral one at best. His deployment of chaos based warfare quickly destroyed the morale of Saddam’s forces in Iraq 2. However this same decision gave us more land than we could hold, causing many Iraqi and American deaths after. Let us hope they don’t remove the bloodstains from his legacy.

    The interview/documentary “The Fog of War” with his mentor Mcnamara is very illuminating, in a way that may make your noodles come back up.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I join those who characterize Rumsfeld as a dominance-addicted liar rather than a brilliant leader. “Chaos based warfare” is jargon that attempts to turn the inevitable into the intended, in much the same way that capitalism claims that the destruction it leads to is creative, intended, and an economic and social good.

      “Gave us more land than we could hold?” – or had any legitimate claim to. As every general knows, you break it, you bought it. That is, once you invade and occupy, you’re liable for what happens next, but it doesn’t mean you own it.

      The odds are good that the claims Rummy made for Aspartame, as CEO of G.D. Searle, were part of the same bullshit he shoveled as GW Bush’s SecDef.

      • M Smith says:

        “Chaos based warfare” I’ll never forget when that evil shit had a press conference to proclaim how he would speak less obscurely in the future. He used the line: “At this juncture in the continuum”. rather than saying “Now”.

    • Summertime Blues says:

      Rumsfield was a best a technocrat if not a sociopath, but most certainly not a warrior. Rumsfield, Cheney and their peers were chickenhawks that would have pissed their pants if caught in combat, and not having military experience had no care or concern for those put in harms way. In their arrogance they set aside the lessons that were learned from Vietnam, set aside the counsel of General Eric Shinseki, and engaged in a conflict that we’re still trying to disengage from. So not not a warrior, and arrogant rather than brilliant. Credit for any success on the ground goes to the military commanders, not political posers.

      • Balifarthelost says:

        He ran back into the pentagon after it was hit until he was evacuated , he was brave . And utterly terrible! An unrepentant torturer as well, there can be no forgiveness for that.
        He was a student of Mcnamara’s who was a student of Doolittle’s so the line of murderous-efficiency first warfare flows directly down.
        He did oversee the deployment of a new type of warfare successfully – to the detriment of our own men because we devalued Shinseki’s brave whistleblower warning that we had nowhere near the men need to hold the land which we had no right nor need to be in.
        Please don’t mistake my acceptance that this jerk did a few things well or right as excuse that he was any type of a good person.

        Good Riddance To bad Rubbish. He taught us terrible lessons we would be better off not knowing.

    • BobCon says:

      Iraq’s army was already a shell. He arguably made the US’s job a lot harder than it should have been with his micromanagement and interference, and his installation of idiots like Paul Wolfowitz. He completely warped US strategy with his faith in Ahmed Chalabi, and his insistence on diverting US resources to land Chalabi in Iraq during the earliest stages of the war made US force constraints imposed by Rumsfeld even worse.

      Rumsfeld had no clue what he was doing.

  4. Peterr says:

    The best perspective on Don Rumsfeld that I’ve ever seen came from John Dean 15 years ago.

    Back in 2006, the Firedoglake Book Salon spent two weeks chatting with John Dean about his book “Conservatives Without a Conscience”. The first chat is here, and the next day, Jane Hamsher posted a “John Dean Continued” thread, with this note at the top:

    (Well I can honestly say this hasn’t happened before. We had a wonderful day at the FDL Book Salon yesterday with John Dean, in which he took the time to methodically go through and try to answer everyone’s questions. Of course he could only get so far given the time limitation and the number of people anxious to chat with him, but today he emailed me another installment of answers. If you didn’t get the chance to visit the comment section from yesterday’s thread it’s right here, and it continues now — JH)

    One week later, the then-regular second week followup thread (Dean’s third!) was posted.

    In the first thread, I posed a question to Dean about Rumsfeld, asking him to respond to a takedown by Keith Olbermann, based on his experience with Rumsfeld in the Nixon White House. In Dean’s response, he said this:

    Rumsfeld came to the Nixon White House in 1970 some five months after I arrived. At the time, I asked White House chief of staff Bob Haldeman what Rummy was going to be doing. “Nothing,” Haldeman told me, explaining that they were placing him on the White House staff (giving him a sinecure) to bolster his chances to win a Senate race in IL.

    In time, Haldeman — not to mention — Nixon came to distrust Rumsfeld. Many thought Nixon appointed him Ambassador to NATO as a promotion. In fact, they wanted to get him out of the White House. Haldeman called Rumsfeld “slimmy” in his contemporaneous diaries, and Nixon is heard on his tapes discussing Rumsfeld in less than flattering terms.

    Most ironic, given Rumsfeld’s current position on Iraq, Rumsfeld argued that Nixon should get the hell out of Vietnam. Rummy was a cut and run guy back then.

    The typo “slimmy” gots lots of laughs in the followup comments and thread. Still, when HR Haldeman thinks you are slimy and Nixon thinks you are not trustworthy, that speaks volumes.

      • David Clapp says:

        I certainly didn’t mean to imply that. Maddow went through much of his vile history. My wife (who lived in DC) and I both reacted with surprise that we never knew that this was his idea of a vacation home.

        • John Paul Jones says:

          I took her point to be that his ignorance, or ignoring, of this relatively easy to excavate history spoke to his casual and habitual amorality. Some hypocrites have a sort of residual honesty, where they try to dodge around things without stating the truth that they know. Maddow’s point about Rumsfeld was that he completely lacked that, lying on numerous occasions with a perfectly straight face because the truth didn’t interest him, only himself. He also seemed to me, in her telling, rather monumentally stupid, rather than a somewhat bright machiavellian.

      • Joseph Andrews says:

        @bmaz: your post here is quite revealing…although not perhaps the way you intended

        • bmaz says:

          Yes yes, with all the war crimes, torture and death, let’s whine about a piece of property Rumsfeld once bought. And that is precisely what I intended to convey.

        • Rayne says:

          Love you, man, but that’s a very privileged perspective. Imagine being Black and knowing all this time — unlike most white people — the dude who was paid with your tax dollars to be America’s torturer retired to a historically-significant place of Black torture.

          This wasn’t an Oops! on Rumsfeld’s part. That place was a known known for Black torture.

          If anything you should now be making the connection between white supremacy during the Bush administration and its relationship to its torture program.

          ADDER: This is why critical race theory needs to be taught — because ignoring threads of significance like torture which underpinned the slavery-based economy of the past led to torture’s continuation in the contemporary fossil fuel-based economy.

        • bmaz says:

          It is not a “privileged perspective” in the least, just a recognition that, of the sins of Rumsfeld, buying this property is pretty far down the list. Maybe the people who are dead and maimed because of Rumsfeld might agree. But, hey Rachel Maddow got off one of her little monologues.

        • Rayne says:

          We’re going to agree to disagree about your perspective. While his responsibility for the torture program itself is his most heinous legacy, this property was a massive FUCK YOU, I DON’T GIVE A SHIT WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT MY TORTURING BROWN PEOPLE to cap his career.

          And when you blow off what brown people think about the sum of Rumsfeld including his parting FUCK YOU, well…

        • Rayne says:

          I’ve let go of Rumsfeld’s rotting carcass with this post. But the legacy of this wretched Rumsfeld’s torture program will be examined for lifetimes just as the Nazis’ and slavers’ tortures are still studied and will be studied decades from now.

        • Joseph Andrews says:


          …your post here (like many of your other posts)…yields more heat than light.

  5. timbo says:

    He’s dead? We shouldn’t let his legacy be anything but tarnished by his evil policies… the millions of people displaced by his lies, the hundreds of thousands killed or maimed by his orders, the thousands and thousands of folks who were victims of his torture programs, and all the other folks his secret policies, some of which we may never know much about, who were illegally killed, maimed, and/or financially ruined in such a way that their loved ones were punished as well.

    • Rayne says:

      Recalls comic Moms Mabley’s old gag: “I was always taught never to say anything about the dead unless it’s good. He’s dead. Good!”

    • joel fisher says:

      The fact that I understand this post proves that I’ve got too much time on my hands.

    • Savage Librarian says:

      And next to Phil Kitzer. Who suddenly brings to mind Phil of Guccifer 2.0 notoriety…And definitely brings to mind the Fart of the Deal.

  6. harpie says:

    George Packer on Rummy:

    How Rumsfeld Deserves to Be Remembered
    America’s worst secretary of defense never expressed a quiver of regret.
    George Packer JUNE 30, 2021

    […] Rumsfeld started being wrong within hours of the attacks and never stopped. […]

    Every sentence in that paragraph could stand alone engraved in stone:

    He thought that all the intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was wrong, except the dire reports that he’d ordered up himself.

    He reserved his greatest confidence for intelligence obtained through torture.

  7. harpie says:

    I have a comment in moderation, but in the meantime:

    Read George Packer on RUMMY.
    See Clara Jeffery’s thread here:
    12:22 AM · Jul 1, 2021

    There is no one I’d rather read a scathing obit of Rumsfeld than from George Packer—one of the best chroniclers of the Iraq War—and this does not disappoint. […]

    [Let me know if you still have a comment which hasn’t shown up; I haven’t seen one caught in moderation, sorry./~Rayne]

  8. jaango1 says:

    At the outset, Chicano and Native American military vets advocated for the “lending” of of our Constitution–for a period of 20 to 30 years that would come to include the establishment of civil and political rights for Muslim women. And today, the lack of results of this “loan” can be readily recognized. Regardless, the overt effort for establishing the National Monument for Criminal Stupidity, continues apace with success to be achieved in 2035 or 2040.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This is your second user name; you’ve posted as both “jaango” and “jaango1.” Pick one of these and stick with it, let us know which one is permanent. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • jaango1 says:

      Due to Russia’s Solar Winds hack and all that has followed, we’ve here, at the Chicano Veterans Organization, have had to to go out and purchase new computers and all that has followed and to include my new internet name among all the silly changes in order to maintain our internet status.

      [Thank you for confirming your new username. If “jaango” shows up now in threads, those comments will be given close scrutiny./~Rayne]

  9. h candace gorman says:

    My desk is not all that well organized but one particular document has sat on my desk for at least 12 or 13 years. It stays on my desk through every cleaning (which frankly isn’t that often) because I don’t want to forget. I just scanned it and I would attach it here but I don’t know how to do that. It is dated June 5, 2006 and it is from Patrick Leahy to Rumsfeld. –a weasal to a war criminal.
    Leahy references that he received a letter from a lawyer for a Guantanamo prisoner (not me) complaining that letters from prisoners at our offshore gulag to members of congress were being withheld by the defense department. Leahy asked a series of questions — which were never answered– and then hand scrawled at the bottom “Is this really happening?”
    Questions never meant to be answered… because none of them gave a fuck.
    One war criminal down… many to go.

  10. Rugger9 says:

    Read Erik Lummis’ post over at LGM yesterday. So, will Rumsfeld be buried at Arlington among the heroes including those he sent to die? Why didn’t Rummy prepare between 9/11 and the 2003 start of the Iraq war since that is the fundamental job of SecDef? It’s not like W was keeping his desire to take out Saddam Hussein a secret, so why not prepare instead of telling us we went to war with the army we have not the army we wanted.

    So all of the troops that were killed because of the substandard protection (i.e. the flak jackets that didn’t work, to the point where the DoD threatened to cut off paying the death benefit if the “wrong” jacket was used) are on Rummy’s list. Add to that the general lack of interest in support for the troops between being shamed into raising the death benefit to attempts to having monthly military burial ceremonies instead of each soldier getting their own (Rummy thought the number of ceremonies was hurting morale).

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Roberts Court would find the Nuremberg Laws to be race neutral and without religious or other discriminatory effects. Expand the Court, Joe, or sit idly by while the twin fascist Republican doors hit it in the arse on the way out of the country.

  12. pdaly says:

    Before he enters the dustbin of history, it’s too bad there are no plans for his body to lie in state in Iraq or Afghanistan where the population could show their last respects rushing to it with flowers or whatever they are wielding these days.

  13. Leoghann says:

    I haven’t found it necessary to read any of the memorials, either sour or gushing. For at least two decades, Rumsfeld has been on my “finally that bastard is dead” list. I’m not missing him already.

  14. Solo says:

    Anything that holds up the truth of these polyester killers. Like Elvis Costello did in remembering Margaret Thatcher. Anything that “Tramps the Dirt Down.”

    ‘And will there be singing, in the dark times?
    Of course there will be singing – about the dark times.”
    – Brecht –

  15. e.a.f. says:

    Cheered me up no end when the news report he was dead. if there is an after life, which I doubt, it would be nice if he ran into his victims. This time things would be a little more even.

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