Just As I Thought

We now know what we don’t know

From today’s In The Loop column by Al Kamen in the Washington Post:

It seemed for a while that Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld’s appearance Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” would degenerate into yet another tiresome “did so-did not” spat over whether anyone in the administration said Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction posed an “immediate threat” to the United States.

“You,” Rumsfeld said to host Bob Schieffer, “and a few other critics are the only people I’ve heard use the phrase ‘immediate threat.’ I didn’t; the president didn’t.” Despite that, “it’s become kind of folklore that that’s what’s happened.”

So New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, not previously known as a folklorist, pulled out a Rumsfeld quote from 2002. “Right here it says,” Friedman said, ” ‘Some have argued’ — this is you speaking, ‘some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent, that Saddam is at least five to seven years away from having nuclear weapons; I would not be so certain.’ ” Friedman said that was “close to imminent.”

“Well, I’ve tried to be precise,” Rumsfeld said, “and I’ve tried to be accurate.”

” ‘No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people,’ ” Friedman quoted Rumsfeld as telling Congress in September 2002, ” ‘and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.’ “

“Mmm, ah, my view of the, the situation,” Rumsfeld said, “was that he, he, had — we believed, the best intelligence that we had, and other countries had, and that we believe, and we still do not know, we will know.”

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