Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the Dark Art of Propaganda, by Amy Goodman

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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.

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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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2 comments

  1. 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.

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    1. 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

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