A couple of weeks ago I covered -- in my fair but dangerously unbalanced Attytood guise -- the book chat here in Philadelphia with former Defense Secretary and Bush 43 regime stalwart Donald Rumsfeld. I noted that while at the National Constitution Center Rumsfeld refused to answer any questions from the media, and that I had wanted to ask him why he was making notes about attacking Saddam Hussein and Iraq on 9/11/01, when the Pentagon was literally still on fire from an attack by Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
Philadelphia's radio guy Michael Smerconish did get to interview Rumsfeld, however, and to his great credit Smerconish asked the right question:
Which brings us to the new No. 1 book on the New York Times' nonfiction list: Known and Unknown, by Donald Rumsfeld. When I obtained my copy, I quickly scanned the index to see what attention Rumsfeld gave the matter. Unfortunately, there wasn't much.
Smerconish points out that CIA chief George Tenet told Rumsfeld at noon that al-Qaeda was likely behind the attack on America -- yet the defense secretary was scribbling notes about attacking Iraq at 2:40.
Rumsfeld doesn't say.
I then asked, "To those who say it is evidence of you having been predisposed toward taking out Saddam Hussein regardless of any involvement relative to Sept. 11, you would say what?"
"That's nonsense. I was not predisposed to doing anything. 9/11 was a surprise. What we were doing during that period while the building was still burning was trying to figure out what was happening, who was responsible, and it became very clear very quickly that Saddam Hussein was not involved, and we discuss this in the book in some detail."
I know better than to think that will settle the matter. But at least now the record is complete and ready for debate.
Frankly, Hosni Mubarak gave more information in his last speech to the Egyptian people. The only thing you can say in Rumsfeld's behalf is that he didn't really lie -- because he didn't answer the question. This is dramatic evidence of how eight years after the fact, we are still lacking for answers on why the United States invaded a nation that did not attack us. Kudos, at least, to Smerconish for popping the question.