Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the Dark Art of Propaganda
by Amy Goodman
Published: Wednesday 31 August 2011 NationofChange.org
“A central pillar of the invasion of Iraq was Powell’s Feb. 5, 2003, speech before the United Nations, which laid out the case of weapons of mass destruction.”
“When one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it,” wrote Joseph Goebbels, Germany’s Reich minister of propaganda, in 1941. Former Vice President Dick Cheney seems to have taken the famous Nazi’s advice in his new book, In My Time. Cheney remains staunch in his convictions on issues from the invasion of Iraq to the use of torture. Telling NBC News in an interview that “there are gonna be heads exploding all over Washington” as a result of the revelations in the book, Cheney’s memoir follows one by his colleague and friend Donald Rumsfeld. As each promotes his own version of history, there are people challenging and confronting them.
Rumsfeld’s book title, Known and Unknown, is drawn from a notorious response he gave in one of his Pentagon press briefings as secretary of defense. In Feb. 12, 2002, attempting to explain the lack of evidence linking Iraq to weapons of mass destruction, Rumsfeld said: “[T]here 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.”
Rumsfeld’s cryptic statement gained fame, emblematic of his disdain for reporters. It stands as a symbol of the lies and manipulations that propelled the U.S. into the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq.
One person convinced by Rumsfeld’s rhetoric was Jared August Hagemann.
Hagemann enlisted in the Army to serve his country, to confront the threats repeated by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. When the U.S. Army Ranger received the call for his most recent deployment (his wife can’t recall if it was his seventh or eighth), the pressure became too much. On June 28, 2011, 25-year-old Hagemann shot himself on the Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Seattle. The Pentagon notes that Hagemann died of a “self-inflicted” gunshot wound, but has not yet called it a suicide. Hagemann had threatened suicide several times before. He was not alone. Five soldiers reportedly committed suicide at Fort Lewis in July. It has been estimated that more than 300,000 returning troops suffer from PTSD or depression.
Hagemann’s widow, Ashley Joppa-Hagemann, found out that Rumsfeld was doing a book signing on the base. On Friday, Aug. 26, she handed Rumsfeld a copy of the program from her late husband’s memorial service. She recounted, “I told him that I wanted him to see my husband, and so he would know—he could put a face with at least one of the soldiers that had lost their lives because of his lies from 9/11.”
I asked her about Rumsfeld’s response: “All I remember is him saying, ‘Oh, I heard about that.’ And after that, all I remember is being bombarded with security personnel and being pushed out and told not to return.” Unfortunately, it’s Staff Sgt. Hagemann who will never return to his wife and two little children.
In his NBC interview, Cheney claimed to have played a role in the January 2005 resignation of then-Secretary of State Colin Powell. Powell’s former chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, called the claim “utter nonsense.” More important, though, is Wilkerson’s unflinching call for accountability for those involved in leading the nation to war in Iraq—including punishment for himself. A central pillar of the invasion of Iraq was Powell’s Feb. 5, 2003, speech before the United Nations, which laid out the case of weapons of mass destruction. Wilkerson, who takes full responsibility for coordinating Powell’s address, told me: “It was probably the biggest mistake of my life. I regret it to this day. I regret not having resigned over it.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights and lawyer/blogger Glenn Greenwald are among those who have long called for criminal prosecution of Cheney, Rumsfeld and other Bush administration officials. Said Wilkerson, “I’d be willing to testify, and I’d be willing to take any punishment I’m due.”
Wilkerson says Cheney’s book is “written out of fear, fear that one day someone will ‘Pinochet’ Dick Cheney,” referring to the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested in Britain and held for a year before being released. A Spanish judge had wanted him extradited to be tried for crimes against humanity.
As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and the casualties mount on all sides, the books by Rumsfeld and Cheney remind us once again of war’s first casualty: truth.
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
© 2011 Amy Goodman
Distributed by King Features Syndicate
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First off, let me get something out of the way. It’s CHENEY (rhymes with weeney) and not Chaney (as in Lon, the Wolfman). I know because it was my maiden name as well. Family name researchers trace a Cheney who traveled with Norman The Conqueror from Normandy to help Norman conquer England in 1066 and who was rewarded with land for his help (which is why the name exists now). But Dick Cheney obviously differs from his warrior ancestor in that he chose 5 or 6 draft deferments during Vietnam. I mention this as a probable explanation for why his ego-defense system (kind of like Napoleon Complex) then went into high gear in becoming the powerful Macchiavellian monster who bears the most responsibility for the contriving, lies and power-plays that already have sent hundreds of thousands to their graves, including the numerous American troops’ suicides.
The only thing that I disagree with in Lawrence Wilkerson’s remarks is that it will not be possible for anyone to “pinochet” Cheney as he’s not long for this world. He’s literally spending his last breaths fighting for his legacy.
it turns out that he writes in his book of lying unconscious (obviously near death) for several weeks after his 2010 heart surgery–(the media kept that quiet, didn’t they?). And while he was unconscious, he dreamed he was walking in an Italian villa with cappuccino and reading newspapers.
Obviously in Cheney’s mind, this must be his version of heaven. No big Jesus welcome or anything, just some cappuccino, good newspapers and an Italian villa. Many of us would settle for that too as our eternal rest but then again, most of us did not reign down death upon large portions of the world in a Henry Kissinger–Machiavellian effort to control the world, writing friends on his 2003 Christmas card that “just as God knows when the little sparrow falls, doesn’t he also () our empire as it rises?”
The only way Cheney will be “pinocheted” before he goes to his Italian Villa forever will be if we the people do it (or at least make some attempt). Obama made an early decision to forego accountability (partially so he would have the option to in fact join the war criminal side). And he has since done so.
The only way for ordinary people to not be complicit in their continuing murders and war crimes, is to demonstrate against it all. Passive complicity in war crimes makes the entire country at fault. I greatly respect Wilkerson because he’s distinguishing himself from the complicity by saying he would admit his own mistakes and testify against Cheney.
sorry. i had to retype the headline and somehow it came out wrong. so cheney! whatever the spelling the truth about him still holds! thanks for your comments. sue ann