Submit your questions for Donald Rumsfeld

Spending nearly half a century near the center of power, it helps to develop a thick skin. So perhaps it’s not surprising that one of “Rumsfeld’s Rules” is: “If you are not criticized, you may not be doing much.”

Donald Rumsfeld and George W. BushRumsfeld, of course, is former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who will appear at the National Constitution Center on Feb. 9, as the first stop on a national book tour for Known and Unknown, his soon-to-be published memoir.

The choice of title suggests something Rumsfeld does know: that notwithstanding a decades-long career in public service that began during the Eisenhower years, what he will be remembered for are the five years, from 2001-2006, that he served as President George W. Bush’s first Secretary of Defense, a tenure that spanned the 9/11 terrorist attacks and launching the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Rumsfeld’s memoir, which has been embargoed before publication, is a 700-page narrative supplemented by 100 pages of endnotes, according to advance descriptions.  Its audience includes the verdict of history.

About the title

The book’s title alludes to a much-quoted explanation at a press briefing in 2002 for the lack of evidence for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq:

“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because, as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don’t know.”

The book touches on Rumsfeld’s childhood in Illinois during the Great Depression and World War II, going to Princeton on scholarships, serving as a naval aviator and then getting his first political job on Capitol Hill in the 1950s. Rumsfeld went on to serve four terms in Congress during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

His executive branch service included key Cabinet positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations, including appointment as the youngest-ever Secretary of Defense under President Gerald Ford. Rumsfeld returned to that job at age 68 as President Bush’s Defense Secretary. Nine months later came the 9/11 attacks.

Rumsfeld, who was replaced as Defense Secretary by Robert Gates after several generals called for his resignation, has said that his book addresses the controversies that surrounded his second tour of duty at the Pentagon. The Feb. 9 program can be expected to include discussion of such issues as Iraq War strategy and mistreatment of prisoners at the detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Abu Ghraib, which occurred on his watch.

Submit your question

Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian, will serve as Rumsfeld’s interlocutor for the program. But we hope to present questions from the audience and readers of Constitution Daily, as well.

To submit a question, and to respond to questions that other readers submit, simply comment on this post below.

Tickets for the event are still available by calling 215.409.6700 or by visiting constitutioncenter.org.

Photo credit Marion Doss

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. Brian Akamine says

    Could you explain what the Wolfowitz Doctrine is? Was there a strategic reason beyond the WMD justification to invade Iraq in that once instituting democracy in the center of the Middle East, it would in turn create a vacuuming effect and influencing the notion of “freedom” in the Middle East. Is the revolution in Cairo somehow a byproduct of this undercurrent of this long-term intent? What are the most fundamental issue that are considered America’s interest in the Middle East? If you could rewind history, would you change what decisions you made following 9/11? if yes, what?

  2. Jane McDevitt says

    Why did you unleash the poison aspertame on the American People when you were CEO of Searle? Did you know the 9/11 attacks were over when you went out of the Pentagon to assist the injured? If so, how did you know? If not, why didn’t you remain in your office and conduct affairs with the White House and your military staff? Why did you say you knew where the WMDs were in Iraq? Your quote, “we know where they are, North, South, East, and West of Tikrit?” How much money did you make when the DOD bought millions of tamiflu vaccines for the US Military, after all you were a major investor of the manufacturer were you not?

  3. Fred Peltier says

    as you have stated numerous times, with certainty that Iraq had WMD and were going to destroy our way of life ; then why did you allow our military to take off their gas masks and their chemical suits. Within two weeks after the start?

  4. brendancalling says

    how many innocent people are dead because of you?
    Did we ever find the WMD that you said were “We know where they [Iraq's WMD] are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat.”?
    if Saddam Hussein was so awful, why are there pictures of you shaking his hand, dating back to the Reagan era when we backed Iraq?
    Do you have a sense of shame, or do you simply not mind the fact that you’re an internationally despised war criminal who should be packed up in a crate and shipped to the Hague?

  5. Jim Nelson says

    You are a war criminal. When are you going to surrender to the International Criminal Court?

  6. brendancalling says

    why does the constitution center want to bring such shame on the City of Philadelphia? I mean, if Rumsfeld’s an appropriate speaker, who’s next? Maybe you could invite Hosni Mubarek to speak about human rights and the importance of democracy? Maybe John Yoo can discuss why the president has the power to crush a child’s testes. Why not invite Kermit Gosnell to discuss reproductive health?

  7. brendancalling says

    from the same article: “Joseph Collins, who served as deputy assistant secretary under Rumsfeld, describes Civil Affairs soldiers as “some of the great unsung heroes” of the Afghan and Iraqi wars. But they suffered from bureaucratic confusion and sporadic interest from Rumsfeld, the documents show—and Congress was misled.”
    why did this happen under your watch?

    why were “One thousand or more Civil Affairs soldiers… “ghosts” who lacked the training or fitness to be deployed”? Why were “Reservists were mobilized with only two weeks’ notice”? Why were “soldiers… forced to sign statements that they were “volunteering” for what was “an involuntary mobilization.””?

    How much did you get for your soul?

  8. Bill Stein says

    US COMPLICIT IN GASSING THE KURDS!

    In 2002, President Bush used Saddam’s WMD program as a rational for invading Iraq.
    Whether Saddam still had a viable WMD program at that time is a point of contention.
    But one thing is certain, we knew he had WMD’s because we were one of his main suppliers.

    It was the US who sold Saddam much of the material he need to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. We shipped him dangerous pathogens including deadly anthrax and botulinum toxin. US companies sent him precursor chemicals used for chemical warfare agents. We helped him to target his chemical weapons attacks against the Iranians using our satellites. We even helped him the finance the whole operation illegally through agricultural loans that were never to be paid back. Then, one of the men who had investigated and documented the Kurdish Genocide—Peter Galbraith–authored a bill: The prevention of Genocide act. Sponsored by Jesse Helms and other senators, this bill would have severely limited US exports to Iraq. A veto threat by President Reagan got the bill overturned and the deadly exports continued. Peter Galbraith later stated in an interview on NPR that he believed the US was “complicit” in Saddam’s crimes.

    Why did this happen? How could we justify supporting and arming a dictator who we knew was using poison gas to commit acts of genocide against the Kurdish people. How could we allow it to continue even after Halbja in 1988 and the attempt by our congress to stop it?

    Why did you, Mr Rumsfeld, travel to Iraq meet with Saddam Hussein in 2003 and 2004?
    (see the picture of you shaking Saddam’s hand on the internet or is that just photoshop?)
    Why would a US administration establish friendly relations with a murderous dictator who we knew at that time was using poison gas in warfare (in violation of the Geneva Protocol which prohibits such actions)?

    How could President Bush just lie to the American people? How Bush use Saddam’s
    WMD program as an excuse to invade Iraq when he knew full well that we were the one’s who shipped him the stuff and we were the ones who looked the other way while he used it? Was it to protect his daddy?

    Please answer these questions and clear this up for me so I can finally lay it to rest.

    Sincerely,

    Mr Stein

  9. Bill Stein says

    US COMPLICIT IN GASSING THE KURDS!

    In 2002, President Bush used Saddam’s WMD program as a rational for invading Iraq.
    Whether Saddam still had a viable WMD program at that time is a point of contention.
    But one thing is certain, we knew he had WMD’s because we were one of his main suppliers.

    It was the US who sold Saddam much of the material he need to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. We shipped him dangerous pathogens including deadly anthrax and botulinum toxin. US companies sent him precursor chemicals used for chemical warfare agents. We helped him to target his chemical weapons attacks against the Iranians using our satellites. We even helped him the finance the whole operation illegally through agricultural loans that were never to be paid back. Then, one of the men who had investigated and documented the Kurdish Genocide—Peter Galbraith–authored a bill: The prevention of Genocide act. Sponsored by Jesse Helms and other senators, this bill would have severely limited US exports to Iraq. A veto threat by President Reagan got the bill overturned and the deadly exports continued. Peter Galbraith later stated in an interview on NPR that he believed the US was “complicit” in Saddam’s crimes.

    Why did this happen? How could we justify supporting and arming a dictator who we knew was using poison gas to commit acts of genocide against the Kurdish people. How could we allow it to continue even after Halbja in 1988 and the attempt by our congress to stop it?

    Why did you, Mr Rumsfeld, travel to Iraq meet with Saddam Hussein in 2003 and 2004?
    (see the picture of you shaking Saddam’s hand on the internet or is that just photoshop?)
    Why would a US administration establish friendly relations with a murderous dictator who we knew at that time was using poison gas in warfare (in violation of the Geneva Protocol which prohibits such actions)?

    How could President Bush just lie to the American people? How Bush use Saddam’s
    WMD program as an excuse to invade Iraq when he knew full well that we were the one’s who shipped him the stuff and we were the ones who looked the other way while he used it? Was it to protect his daddy?

    Please answer these questions and clear this up for me so I can finally lay it to rest.

    Sincerely,

    Mr Stein

  10. Bill Stein says

    Also, did April Glaspie really give Saddam the green light to invade Kuwait by saying,

    “We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait.”

    I’d like to know about that too.

  11. Bill Stein says

    From USA Today

    09/30/2002 – Updated 02:31 PM ET

    A look at U.S. shipments of pathogens to Iraq
    Shipments from the United States to Iraq of the kinds of pathogens later used in Iraq’s biological weapons programs, according to records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Senate Banking Committee and U.N. weapons inspectors:
    ANTHRAX

    Iraq admitted making 2,200 gallons of anthrax spores and putting some of them into weapons. U.N. inspectors said Iraq could have made three times as much anthrax as it acknowledged, and could not verify Iraq’s claims to have destroyed all of its weaponized anthrax.

    The American Type Culture Collection, a biological samples repository in Manassas, Va., sent two shipments of anthrax to Iraq in the 1980s. Three anthrax strains were in a May 1986 shipment sent to the University of Baghdad, which U.N. inspectors later linked to Iraq’s biological weapons program. A 1988 shipment from ATCC to Iraq also included four anthrax strains.

    BOTULINUM

    Iraq admitted making 5,300 gallons of botulinum toxin, a deadly poison produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria, and putting some of it into weapons. Five warheads filled with botulinum toxin are missing.

    ATCC sent six strains of Clostridium botulinum to the University of Baghdad in the May 1986 shipment. The September 1988 ATCC shipment to Iraq also contained one strain of Clostridium botulinum.

    In March 1986, the CDC sent samples of botulinum toxin and botulinum toxiod (used to make a vaccine against botulinum poisoning) directly to Iraq’s al-Muthanna complex, a center for Iraq’s chemical weapons program and the site where Iraq restarted its dormant biological weapons program in 1985.

    GAS GANGRENE

    U.N. inspectors concluded Iraq could have produced hundreds of gallons of the germs that cause gas gangrene, though Iraq admitted producing just a fraction of that amount. Gas gangrene, caused by the Clostridium perfringens bacteria, causes toxic gases to form inside the body, killing tissues and causing internal bleeding, lung and liver damage.

    ATCC sent three strains of Clostridium perfringens to the University of Baghdad in the May 1986 shipment and another three strains in the 1988 shipment.

    OTHER

    The CDC sent bacteria samples to Iraq’s Atomic Energy Commission in 1985, 1987 and 1988. The commission was involved in Saddam’s attempts to build a nuclear bomb and other weapons of mass destruction.

    The CDC also sent bacteria samples to the Sera and Vaccine Institute in Amiriyah, Iraq in 1988. The institute stored samples and did genetic engineering research for Iraq’s biological weapons programs, U.N. inspectors found.

  12. Bill Stein says

    No more comments after mine? Hell, why should Rumsfeld or Bush or anyone else have to answer difficult questions afterall. Hey, you mean to say we knew Saddam was guilty of genocidal murder using poison gas (like in Nazi Germany, you know, piles of dead bodies of women and children and minor stuff like that) and we just kept sending him tools to murder more people. We even helped him target the f*ing weapons? Or maybe if we’d showed him more love and compassion he’s stop doing those things and act nice.

    Don’t dare ask Rummy or Bush or any other Neocons tough question. We don’t want to embarass them.

  13. Scott Valerius says

    If its been over 10 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, who are the countries backing the insurgency? Why should we stay there and waste our tax dollars and resources that just get consumed year after year? Why is it the American people who work for a living and pay taxes bare the burden of funding a 10 year war? What will we get out of this if we so call “win”? Is there any end in sight or will this be the graveyard of our neoconservative empire?

  14. Scott Valerius says

    I just got done over hearing your press conference with 5 other guys at the table there. I think Scooter was there too. In it you state that the media did a good job of reporting all the bad news but terrible at reporting the good news like “putting air conditioners in schools over there in Iraq.” This is how necons like your self think. If you were not a necon you would first realize that this is a BAD thing. Why because that air condition was bought with MY tax dollars! I won’t ever benefit from it or have a fellow American benefit from it ever! Why do neoconservative’s value other countries over their own? Is it to show the rest of the world how generous we are? Are you not aware of the countless temporary school classrooms that could of used that very same air condition which was probably manufactured in the same town but needed to be shipped to Iraq once again using MY tax dollar for shipping costs?