If words could waterboard. Public radio destroys Rumsfeld in interview.

If words could waterboard…. Former Bush Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld did an interview yesterday with Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal (not to be confused with Kai the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker who’s now in jail for suspected murder).

And the interview is better than sex.

It’s like Godzilla went to an interview with Bambi.  But unbeknownst to everyone — contrary to all expectations — Bambi fought back that day.

The interview is only 6 minutes long, and it’s just the most wonderful thing you’ll hear in a very, very long time.

So, get a load of the first question.

They’re talking about Rumsfeld’s new book about his “rules” (like Gibbs’ on NCIS), and Kai brings up Rumsfeld’s rule about how “It’s easier to get into something than it is to get out.”

MARKETPLACE’S KAI RYSSDAL: It’s easier, you say, to get into something than it is to get out of it.  And I, I can’t help but wonder where we would be in this country today if you guys had been thinking of that ten years ago.

From the classic short film Bambi vs Godzilla.

From the classic short film Bambi vs Godzilla.

RUMSFELD: I thought of that when I was President Reagan’s Middle East envoy and we had 241 Marines killed at Beirut [in 1983], at the airport. And I concluded then that the United States has to be careful about putting ground forces in because we’re such a big target. And I also over the years came to the conclusion over the years that the United States really wasn’t organized, trained and equipped to do nation-building. So if you think of Afghanistan…

KAI: …Yeah, wait, hang on a minute. I sorta can’t believe these words are coming out of your mouth, ten years later. So this was on your mind as Iraq was burbling up?

RUMSFELD: Absolutely.

KAI: And yet here we are.

RUMSFELD: Well, in Afghanistan we had 23,000 troops in there, as I recall, when I was there, and President Obama ran ’em up to close to 100,000.  And the situation in Iraq, we had a relatively small footprint, and changed the regime, which was the policy of the United States in the Clinton administration.  Once you get a mission creep, where people start attempting to do things well beyond that, um, that’s obviously not something the Department of Defense is organized to do.

KAI: I will do you the favor, Mr. Secretary, of assuming you’re not trying to shift responsibility here.

RUMSFELD: Well I’m not, it’s just reality. When you do something, then someone wants you to do something else and then something else and then over time, the mission, historically, creeps into something else that was initiated at the outset.

KAI: And yet, the primary critique of the Bush administration in Iraq is that you guys went in without a plan to get out, and here we now are having a conversation where you say, yeah I was thinking about all this stuff, but we went in anyway.

Then there’s this:

KAI: You appreciate, you can’t have a conversation with Donald Rumsfeld, about the rules he lives by, without talking about these things, right?


KAI: Yeah.

And this:

KAI: I want you to assess, now, yourself, and your period in office as Secretary of Defense of the Bush administration.

RUMSFELD: [silence]

KAI: G’ahead.

Seriously, it’s some of the best six minutes you’ll ever spend.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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89 Responses to “If words could waterboard. Public radio destroys Rumsfeld in interview.”

  1. BigGuy says:

    George W Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld are not stupid. They were and are EVIL. Since all three view W’s presidency as directed by God, they do not even conceive that they did any wrongful acts at all. They were doing God’s work. They all have clear consciences and conceive themselves to be moral exemplars..

    When we question the failure of W’s administration to protect the USA from terrorists on 9-11 despite
    100’s of warnings of impending disaster, they simply can not comprehend us. They were good men placed into office, not by the Supreme Court, but by the Word of our Christian God working through
    the consciences of those Justices, Our Christ directed them in their daily work, so they know they did their best. 9-11 occurred because of the failures of Bill Clinton or because it was ordained by our Lord Jesus Christ, but as for George W Bush, Dick Cheney, or Don Rumsfeld — not one of them was responsible for that security failure.

  2. d3clark says:

    Maybe his attitude and arrogance are what triggered Mrs. RMoney to say (re: taxes), “That’s all of the information YOU PEOPLE are going to get!”

  3. d3clark says:



  4. d3clark says:

    Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. convicted of war crimes:

    Bush Indicted for War Crimes: Verdict of KL War Crimes Tribunal

    The historic verdict recently reached by Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur War Crimes
    Tribunal substantiates long-held accusations that the treatment of
    detainees held by the US military in Bagram, Guantanamo and Abu Gharib
    constitutes torture as understood and accepted by international law.

    The tribunal heard disturbing witness accounts from
    victims who suffered irreparable harm and injury at the hands of US
    soldiers and contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, including testimony
    from Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantanamo detainee and Jameelah Abbas Hameedi,
    an Iraqi woman who was tortured in the infamous Abu Ghraib facility.

    At the end of the week-long hearing, the five-panel
    tribunal unanimously delivered guilty verdicts against George W. Bush,
    Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their key legal advisors, who were all
    convicted of war crimes for their authorization of torture, in direct
    violation of the Geneva Convention on torture 1949, the Convention
    against Torture 1984, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United
    Nations Charter, and the US Constitution itself.

    Although the Malaysian War Crimes Tribunal lacks the
    jurisdiction to prosecute the accused, the findings of the judiciary in
    Kuala Lumpur, along with a record of the tribunal’s proceedings, will be
    sent to the International Criminal Court, the United Nations and the
    Security Council. While the verdicts of the War Crimes Tribunal cite
    highly documented and definite evidence indicting former Bush
    administration officials of war crimes, dwindling public confidence in
    institutions such as the International Criminal Court can be attributed
    to their failure to recognize these, and other conclusions reached by
    independent judiciaries.

  5. Elfangel says:

    They’re business being indignant that a white Marine held an umbrella so a black President could make a speech in the rain. Probably also picking up their sheets from the dry cleaners.

  6. lynchie says:

    I had to force myself to listen. Thinking about the dead and maimed made me feel ill.

  7. lynchie says:

    It is all about re-writing history.

  8. lynchie says:

    Once a person agrees to an interview and the audio above did cover the book why can’t you ask anything else. He is claiming his rules and the interviewee simply called him on it. If you feel it is left leaning good and who cares what you think. Just another Bush Cabal apologist.

  9. Matt says:

    I’m not a Donald Rumsfeld fan. But there is a decorum to an interview that was simply absent. He asked him about things that weren’t in the book. Irrespective of the author, your favorite public servant, politician, etc., you could take something absent from a book any direction you wished. I had been listening to APM Marketplace Tech Report for months and just recently started listening to Marketplace. Many of the pieces I like, but this one was very disappointing. I left quite certain that it was a left-leaning production and I will likely now never be convinced it is not.

  10. karmanot says:


  11. karmanot says:


  12. Mike Meyer says:

    But where are the missing people? The Judge, The Jury, The Prosecutor, THE WITNESSES&VICTIMS, where are they? Why are there NO charges read in court?

  13. Kim_Kaufman says:

    I heard this also. It was stunning. And Kai is usually such a kiss-ass to the powerful (and once powerful). But even Kai could not hide his disbelief in what he was hearing. I cannot believe a publisher even published a book by Donald Rumsfeld on rules to live by. The book should be put in the “Dark Humor” section of bookstores. Or True Crime. Code Pink is doing demonstrations when he appears at Nixon and Reagan libraries soon. The guy is beyond being a total douchebag.

  14. PrahaPartizan says:

    Shinshecki”s testimony exposes the lies enclosed in the assertions Rumsfeld made when the war started and still makes in this interview. Condi, Rummy, Dick and the Dummy never thought for a minute about what it would take to put the pieces back together again after plunging into Iraq and have never cared. They are arrogant punks who feel they can demand adoration from Olympus because they are special. Rummy will not like history’s verdict on his stewardship, which ranks right up there with the last Steward of Gondor for effectiveness.

  15. And if this weren’t enough already, enter Paul Bremer… stage right.

    Douche bag, supreme!

  16. Don’t wanna say much, but hasn’t history already judged?

    What’s he waiting for… the end of days?

  17. karmanot says:

    Powell was just revealing his true nature, again. He was responsible for lying and whitewashing My Lai, until the truth came out. Powell has a history of lying for the establishment.

  18. karmanot says:

    Appearing on D list Greta van Susteren’s show is very close to the bottom of the barrel.

  19. karmanot says:

    oh yeah!

  20. karmanot says:


  21. Ninong says:

    Actually I was quoting the response Dick Cheney gave to ABC’s Martha Raddatz on network television five years ago in response to a similar question. Cheney was in the process of defending the Iraq war as a success when this exchange took place:

    Raddatz: Two-thirds of Americans say it’s not worth fighting, and they’re looking at the value gain versus the cost in American lives, certainly, and Iraqi lives.

    Cheney: So?

    Raddatz: So — you don’t care what the American people think?

    Cheney: No, I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.

  22. Yeah, I didn’t want to transcribe everything, but that one made me laugh too.

  23. loona_c says:

    He missed a rule. The one he shares with George W, the one that says “history will judge you (better).” He actually said that too.

  24. Dave of the Jungle says:

    General Scowcroft, who worked with Cheney during Bush 41, said something had changed him. He did not recognize him during the Bush 43 era and was clearly disturbed by his behavior.

  25. BeccaM says:

    Somehow I’m not sure Cheney ever needed any help in being evil.

  26. BeccaM says:

    They’re still indulging their Benghazi obsession. Look for any post related to that topic and there they’ll be.

  27. Jim Olson says:

    I heard this live yesterday, and had to pull the car over.

  28. pappyvet says:

    Hmm….thats odd….no trolls here today. Must be twofers someplace

  29. karmanot says:

    Yep, Puritans in starched white caps, turkeys, and cranberries on every plate will give the world our freedoms.

  30. karmanot says:

    Compared to the British, American colonialism is strikingly and fundamentally incompetent, due to a short life, historically speaking.

  31. pappyvet says:

    “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

  32. karmanot says:

    His only success was producing an evil spawn in Cheney, who near the end turned on him and betrayed his old mentor.

  33. karmanot says:

    He couldn’t know what he didn’t know, so when he knew, he wouldn’t have to apologize.

  34. UncleBucky says:


  35. Badgerite says:

    In reality! IN REALITY! In reality, General Shinshecki insisted that to occupy a county like Iraq and actually control the situation at least 300,000 troops would need to be deployed. He testified in front of Congress as to his professional opinion on this point. Rumsfeld and company post haste ‘retired’ him and put in a general who would do their bidding and the minute the invasion was over and the occupation started he got the hell out because he was no idiot and knew what was coming. To invade and occupy ANY country in the middle east, requires that the people in charge be aware of the fact that the troops there are already going to be targets and insisting that the occupation be done with too few troops to actually guard vital strategic assets such as ammo dumps and borders and hostile population centers is just flat out crazy and incompetent. What does he think the surge was all about. It was about undoing the Rumsfeldian idiocies of the previous four years that had Iraq well on its way to full blown civil war like Syria with the US troops stuck in the middle of it. I don’t suppose he noticed that things didn’t start to get better there until he was finally removed as the man in charge? What a skunk!

  36. Dave of the Jungle says:

    That’s right.

  37. lynchie says:

    He could give a shit what history says or what we say for that matter. We don’t enter his circle. He is with the haves and we are the have nots.

  38. lynchie says:

    And Powell content to tell the lies and watch as thousands of our kids went to their deaths and many more thousands with limbs being eaten by buzzards

  39. nicho says:

    Cheney would claim that people should apologize to him — especially if he had shot them in the face or something.

  40. lynchie says:

    Yeah with our satellites we could see a pimple on a camels ass. If they moved them we would have had it on tape. After nothing was found why not show us the tapes of the trucks going to Iran, Jordan, Syria wherever. Liar.

  41. pappyvet says:

    Now its time to say goodby
    To George and Don and Dick
    M I C..see you in Hell
    K E Y..why? Because you earned it
    There werent no WMD

  42. lynchie says:

    and take all the money, oil and treasure.

  43. BeccaM says:

    Just like all the WMDs we were absolutely, positively gonna find over there.

  44. BeccaM says:

    Or less. Some of ’em were claiming the war would entirely pay for itself, using seized Iraqi oil and offshore financial assets.

  45. BeccaM says:

    I actually think Cheney’s response would’ve been “Apologize for what? I’ve done nothing to warrant an apology to anyone.”

    Or, the more direct, “No.”

  46. pappyvet says:

    LOL! I knew I heard it somewhere Thanks. How true

  47. pappyvet says:

    and next time is always a part of their program

  48. Ninong says:

    Kai: “I looked in this book, pretty hard, about any rule that you might have had about apologizing, and I couldn’t find one.”

    Rummy: “And, what’s your question?”

    Kai: “Did you ever think about apologizing?”

    Rumsfelt fell into that one with his response to the question. Cheney would have responded, “So?”

  49. It’s not that old a saying, you know, it’s from [I]The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.[/I] :p (I suppose it might go back further than that though.)

  50. pappyvet says:

    Absolutely, Whats that old saying. “When the myth sells more than the truth,print the myth.”

  51. pappyvet says:

    Sure not a problem,its a slam dunk

  52. Dave of the Jungle says:


  53. pappyvet says:

    “If you think — let me take that, both pieces — the area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.” Donald Rumsfeld,

    In 2002, Larry Lindsey, director of the National Economic Council under Bush, was fired after he said in an interview in the Wall Street Journal that the war would cost $100 to $200 billion. Rumsfeld called this “baloney” while suggesting that $50 to $60 billion was an accurate assessment.
    If you include both the next decade’s interest payments and veterans’ benefits, the total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is now estimated to reach more than $5 trillion according to the Fiscal Times
    Rumsfeld’s oldest friend, Frank Carlucci, a former defence secretary himself,
    now heads the Carlyle Group, which has a big interest
    in the contracting firm United Defense. Carlyle’s board includes George Bush Sr and James Baker.One program alone the Crusader artillery system has earned Carlyle more than
    $2bn in advance government contracts.

    And when the United Nations relaxed its sanctions in 1998 and
    permitted Iraq to buy spare parts for its oil fields, it was Halliburton, under
    Dick Cheney’s leadership, that cleaned up on the contract to repair war damage and
    get Saddam Hussein’s oil pipes flowing at full capacity again. They gagged down over 24 million.
    And when the Iraqi oil industry needed to be rebuilt after we bombed the hell out of it,,who got the contracts? You guessed it,Haliburton.
    The wolves cleaned out our country and knew exactly what they were doing.

  54. karmanot says:

    No really, he means it next time.

  55. Dave of the Jungle says:

    It can all be done for $1.5 billion. No, really!

  56. pappyvet says:

    “It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.”
    – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, to U.S. troops in Aviano, Italy; Feb 7/2002

  57. BeccaM says:

    Let’s see… massive round-ups of Muslim-Americans and foreign nationals after 9/11, holding them for months as ‘material witnesses’ without charges. Launching two wars, the second of which has been proven to be on totally false pretenses. Little or no care taken to protect civilian populations. Torture. Indefinite imprisonment without charges in America’s network of gulags and secret prisons all over the world. Warrantless searches and a repudiation of the rule-of-law.

    Nah, I think we’ve long since established they have no decency whatsoever. Sadly, much of our so-called news media never got the message or have forgotten it.

  58. Dave of the Jungle says:

    Yeah. For some reason, the genocidal projects of the world rarely seem to warrant our intervention but we can sure depose an “evil dictator” as long as one of the world’s largest oil reserves is at stake.

    This recalls, also, Condilezza Rice explaining that the whole thing was somehow all about “changing the neighborhood” in the Middle East.

    How do we like the neighborhood, these days?

  59. cdkeli says:

    I’ve listened to this interview 3 times by now (it was featured on the BBC last nite too) and it just never gets old!!! Clearly Rumfeld’s arrogance has completely blinded him to the reality of his foul deeds and he doesn’t regret the thousands of young men and women killed or seriously wounded, the destruction of the American economy, ad nauseum. It is also evident this killer-clown has surrounded himself with arse-kissers that fill his ears with the empty platitudes and sick praise he thrives on. One telling question was when the interviewer asked if he’d read the book by Robert McNamara and Rumfeld arrogant responds “,,I was in congress,,,” – a classic non sequiter and true expose of this blissfully ignorant malfeasant beast.

  60. BeccaM says:

    He’s also one of those sorts who absolutely, positively cannot take blame or responsibility for anything he’s ever done or ever admit he’s made a mistake.

  61. BeccaM says:

    Aye, and people were demonized extensively for opposing the war, even though our objections were proven right over and over again.

    A childhood friendship of mine that had lasted decades was damaged badly when she learned I was against the invasion. “So you support Saddam Hussein, is that it?” she demanded. “You’re okay with him killing his people?”

    That became the narrative, even after the pro-war crowd began to accept there were no WMDs to be found and that the entire pretext for starting the war in the first place was false.

    Anyway, yeah, it’s almost funny to hear the rank hypocrisy of Rumsfeld pontificate about dangers of mission creep when that was how the Afghanistan and Iraq wars were run by him, intentionally. “First we concoct a phony ‘imminent threat’. Then we invade and say it’s for regime change and to liberate the Iraqi people. Then we stay forever to ‘nation build’.”

  62. ninjakiller says:

    This scumbag was trotted out on Greta Van Susteren’s show on Fox to attack Obama over Benghazi. How can he even show his face in public? Much less criticize Obama.

    “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” -Joseph Nye Welch

  63. Naja pallida says:

    He’s lived his entire career amid toadies and sycophants, cloistered in a little psychotic right-wing bubble, along with Dick Cheney. The real world just doesn’t ever seep in. No matter what NPR says, he can always go back to Fox Noise and have his ego stroked, and reaffirm his belief that he has never made a mistake, and can do no wrong.

  64. SkippyFlipjack says:

    I wish the interview had gone longer. Rumsfeld didn’t appear as irritated as I thought he might, and the longer it went, the more interesting it may have gotten.

  65. Ah ok, corrected it, thanks

  66. Got it, thanks

  67. TomL says:

    Slight transcription correction, he says the US *wasn’t* organized … to do nation-building.

  68. SkippyFlipjack says:

    “My book of course is not about Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s a bunch of rules.”

    Heh heh.

  69. And that part of the interview is best heard for real – it’s priceless.

  70. BeccaM says:

    Yep. That’s why I have no particular confidence the Keystone XL sludge pipe will be stopped. Big Oil wants it. And Obama has this weird ability to keep pushing for odious policies, no matter how many times he’s stopped. I think he knows he needs only succeed once and it’s all over.

    Same with chained-CPI and all the other conservative-regressive crap he wants to enact.

  71. Dave of the Jungle says:

    Yes. Once the troops were in, it was more easy to flagrantly hoodwink people and one would have been considered unpatriotic for criticizing the government at that time.

    I will be most interested to see what professional historians ultimately do with all this. I hope to live long enough to see the Bush Administration thoroughly excoriated and in a way that poor Dubya will have been unable to predetermine.

  72. BeccaM says:

    Not long after the war started, Bush also got on TV to claim they’d actually found WMDs in the form of those trailers, which they claimed were bioweapons labs (they weren’t) and fully expected to find lots more.

    Another explicit lie.

    Then the yellow cake which was never actually purchased. And the aluminum tubes totally unsuited to centrifuge use. And the Al-Qaeda links and meetings that never happened. And of course the infamous vial of powder Powell dangled in front of the U.N.

    Lies piled on top of lies.

  73. Dave of the Jungle says:

    Niall Ferguson says that the world would be a better place if America would just accept that it’s an Empire and start acting like it. The thing is, most Americans have a naive model of reality and would prefer their comfortable fiction to the truth. Meanwhile, Big Oil controls the governments of the industrial nations, as it has for 100 years.

  74. BeccaM says:

    Funny how the Republican presidents ever since Reagan always went out of their way to assure us that America is not in the business of ‘nation building.’

    If we didn’t have a military and defense budget the size we do — larger than the next dozen nations combined — we’d have plenty of money for health care, education, and decent guaranteed pensions for everyone.

    But yeah — it’s a terrific interview. Donnie seems totally incapable of accepting blame or responsibility for ANYTHING. Bush chose to invade Iraq because Clinton was in favor of regime change? What a load of BS. It was clear throughout the last decade, their plans consisted entirely of “we manufacture a pretext, invade massively, overthrow the existing government, and occupy them forever.”

  75. Amen to that. As I said below, he has always sounded like he’s pissed off that anyone is questioning him, like it’s beneath his dignity even to be asked questions.

  76. GeorgeMokray says:

    This exchange –
    NPR: I want you to assess, now, yourself, and your period in office as Secretary of Defense of the Bush administration.
    RUMSFELD: [silence]
    NPR: G’ahead.

    reminds me of what has been called the funniest moment in the history of radio. It’s an old Jack Benny routine where he’s accosted by a mugger with a gun who says, “Your money or your life!” and is met with silence. The laughter builds until the mugger says it again and finally Benny replies, “I’m thinking…”

    Rumsfeld is and always has been an arrogant ass. Glad to see someone finally make him squirm.

  77. Naja pallida says:

    I honestly can’t think of an interview or television appearance where Rumsfeld didn’t come off as an utterly contemptible, ridiculous prick. The guy wouldn’t know the truth if it crawled up his ass and wiggled. He’s a pathological liar, even when confronted with a lifetime of failures, he just can’t help himself.

  78. sevenish says:

    whoops, I meant APM, not PRI.

  79. Dave of the Jungle says:

    Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld knew well how to keep up a running propaganda narrative that was often masterfully disguised at the level of presupposition. This was one of the moments when they were entirely explicit with a lie.

  80. sevenis says:

    Marketplace is not NPR. It’s distributed by PRI (American Public Media).

  81. BeccaM says:

    ‘Become’? We already are.

  82. GDad says:

    Kai Ryssdal has always been one of my favorites.

  83. I’ve never been able to stand Rumsfeld’s manner. There’s a contemptuous, impatient attitude he’s always had; he’s always come across like it’s taxing his patience to the utmost to be expected to answer questions from his inferiors.

  84. BeccaM says:

    We know where they [Iraq’s WMD] are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat….I would also add, we saw from the air that there were dozens of trucks that went into that facility after the existence of it became public in the press and they moved things out. They dispersed them and took them away. So there may be nothing left. I don’t know that. But it’s way too soon to know. The exploitation is just starting.

    Donald Rumsfeld, ‘ABC News This Week’ with George Stephanopolis, March 30 2003

    These were utter lies. Rumsfeld knew it.

  85. Dave of the Jungle says:

    Polls show that most Americans don’t want to become an Empire. How else can you sneak American Hegemony into the arc of history?

  86. S1AMER says:

    It’s called “reporting,” and it’s a shame there are so few people left who know how to do it.

  87. Dave of the Jungle says:

    “We know where they are.”

  88. Indigo says:

    Mission creep. That explains almost everything that’s happened so far in this Brave New Century.

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