By Errol Morris
When I first met Donald Rumsfeld in his offices in Washington, D.C., one of the things I said to him was that if we could provide an answer to the American public about why we went to war in Iraq, we would be rendering an important service. He agreed. Unfortunately, after having spent 33 hours over the course of a year interviewing Mr. Rumsfeld, I fear I know less about the origins of the Iraq war than when I started. A question presents itself: How could that be? How could I know less rather than more? Was he hiding something? Or was there really little more than met the eye?
Many people associate the phrases the known known, the known unknown and the unknown unknown with Rumsfeld, but few people are aware of how he first presented these ideas to the public. It was at a Pentagon news conference on Feb. 12, 2002. Reporters filed in to the Pentagon Briefing Room — five months after 9/11 and a year before the invasion of Iraq. The verbal exchanges that followed provide an excursion into a world no less irrational, no less absurd, than the worlds Lewis Carroll created in Alice in Wonderland.Scroll down at the link for parts 1-3.
Errol Morris's documentary on Robert McNamara, The Fog of War, was amazingly good. In part, this was so because we see McNamara struggling with the mistakes he made, agonizing over his decisions, which, after all, caused the loss of thousands of lives and the physical destruction of a nation.
It looks like Morris's new documentary on Rumsfeld, The Unknown Known, will be worth watching for the opposite reason: a complete and utter unwillingness or incapacity on the part of Donald Rumsfeld to engage in any self-reflection about the way he helped lead us into war in Iraq and the ensuing catastrophe.
I suspect he is not alone in that: