Thursday, January 6, 2011

Donald Rumsfeld: Known and Unknown: A Memoir

Based on the product description, provided for by the publisher: With the same directness that defined his career in public service, Donald Rumsfeld's memoir is filled with never before disclosed or otherwise revealed details and insights about the Bush administration, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as September 11. It also features Donald Rumsfeld's singularly surprising observations on over 80 years of history: his experiences growing up during the Great Depression and World War II, Rumsfeld's time as a Naval aviator as well; his service in Congress starting at the relatively young age of 30; his cabinet level positions in the Nixon and Ford White Houses; his assignments in the Reagan administration; and his years as a successful business executive in the private sector. Donald Rumsfeld addresses the challenges and controversies of his career, from the unseating of the entrenched House Republican leader in 1965, to helping the Ford administration steer the country away from Watergate and Vietnam, to bruising battles over transforming the military for the 21st century, to the war in Iraq, to confronting abuse at Abu Ghraib and allegations of torture at Guantanamo Bay. Along the way, he offers his plainspoken, first-hand views and often humorous and surprising anecdotes about some of the world's best known figures, from Margaret Thatcher to Saddam Hussein, from Henry Kissinger to Colin Powell, from Elvis Presley to Dick Cheney, and each American president from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush. Rumsfeld relies not only on his memory but also on previously unreleased and recently declassified documents. Thousands of pages of documents not yet seen by the public will be made available on an accompanying website. Known and Unknown delivers both a fascinating narrative for today's readers and an unprecedented resource for tomorrow's historians. Proceeds from the sales of Known and Unknown will go to the veterans charities supported by the Rumsfeld Foundation.

Regarding the "Unknown" statement: The "there are known knowns..." statement was made at a press briefing given by former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on February 12, 2002. Rumsfeld's statement relating to the absence of evidence linking the government of Iraq with the supply of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups was criticised as an abuse of language, but defended as reflecting a profound, almost philosophical truth. Rumsfeld's defenders have included Canadian columnist Mark Steyn, who called it "in fact a brilliant distillation of quite a complex matter", and Australian economist and blogger John Quiggin, who wrote, "Although the language may be tortured, the basic point is both valid and important ... Having defended Rumsfeld, I’d point out that the considerations he refers to provide the case for being very cautious in going to war."
"[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." - United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

In January of 2011, Michael Rubin at the National Review Online, posted "Debunking the Crudest Iranian Propaganda," in which he said this: Not only in Najaf, but throughout Iraq, there was an outraged buzz about rumors that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had met with — and bribed — Grand Ayatollah Sistani. These reports — which originated on Iranian-backed Arabic news sites — are flatly untrue and are meant to discredit Grand Ayatollah Sistani. The Iranians know that it is the independent Shiites in Iraq which pose the greatest threat to the Iranian regime, since independent Shiite scholarship undercuts the theological legitimacy which the Iranian leadership seeks to claim.

In response to the rumor, Donald Rumsfeld’s office released this statement:
“The rumors currently making the rounds in some Arabic press outlets that allege Mr. Rumsfeld’s forthcoming memoir contains information about meeting with and bribing Grand Ayatollah Sistani are as laughable and inaccurate as they are disprovable. People will be able to see for themselves exactly what is in Known and Unknown when it becomes public on February 8.

Suffice it to say that Rumsfeld did not offer to pay for any of Grand Ayatollah Sistani’s opinions, nor would he have even entertained the thought. Furthermore, Rumsfeld never met with Sistani. Suggestions to the contrary are flat untrue.

Grand Ayatollah Sistani was and remains a courageous but distinctly independent voice in Iraq. It’s worth noting that the misinformation campaign began in Iranian-backed press outlets and looks to be nothing more than a not so clever attempt to mislead and sow mistrust among Iraqis.”

Meanwhile, Michael Crowley over at Time Magazine had this to say on the issue: NRO's Michael Rubin delivers the strange report that Iraq is abuzz with a rumor that Donald Rumsfeld met secretly with that country's powerful Shiite Grand Ayatollah Sistani before the U.S. invasion and offered him a massive bribe, purportedly so Sistani would tell his followers not to resist the Americans. It is a reminder, though, that Rummy's much-anticipated book--one that some people expect to hit hard and settle multiple scores--will be landing quite soon.

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