Jason Linkins / The Huffington Post – 2008-05-19 02:07:42
(May 13, 2008) — An ongoing exploration of the documents related to the Pentagon’s “message force multipliers” program has unearthed a clip of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggesting that America, having voted the Democrats back into Congressional power, could benefit from suffering another terrorist attack, and doing so in the presence of the very same military analysts who went on to provide commentary and analysis of the Iraq War.
As documented by Newsvine, it all went down at a valedictory luncheon Rumsfeld hosted for those analysts on December 12, 2006. Many of the “message force multipliers” named in the original New York Times piece were in attendance, including David L. Grange, Donald W. Sheppard, James Marks, Rick Francona, Wayne Downing, and Robert H. Scales, Jr.
They were treated to an extraordinary conversation (Newsvine has highlights, the hour-long clip of which can be found here) with Rumsfeld, that included many jaw-dropping moments, such as Rumsfeld admitting that in Iraq, the U.S. “can’t lose militarily, but…can’t win by military means alone,” an agreement that Iraq could use a Syngman Rhee-type dictator (because that’s what democracy smells like!), and a lengthy passage where Rumsfeld jokingly offers a bottle of champagne to anyone who could kill Moqtada al Sadr. You sure don’t see too many people joking on al Sadr these days!
But by far the most extraordinary part of this luncheon is the antipathy the gathered members exhibit toward the American people for having the temerity to vote the Democrats back into power. When Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong bemoans the lack of “sympathetic ears” on Capitol Hill, Rumsfeld offers that the American people lack “the maturity to recognize the seriousness of the threats.” What’s to be done? According to Rumsfeld, “The correction for that, I suppose, is [another] attack.”
DELONG: Politically, what are the challenges because you’re not going to have a lot of sympathetic ears up there.
RUMSFELD: That’s what I was just going to say. This President’s pretty much a victim of success. We haven’t had an attack in five years. The perception of the threat is so low in this society that it’s not surprising that the behavior pattern reflects a low threat assessment. The same thing’s in Europe, there’s a low threat perception. The correction for that, I suppose, is an attack.
And when that happens, then everyone gets energized for another [inaudible] and it’s a shame we don’t have the maturity to recognize the seriousness of the threats…the lethality, the carnage, that can be imposed on our society is so real and so present and so serious that you’d think we’d be able to understand it, but as a society, the longer you get away from 9/11, the less…the less…
Less than a week ago, the Department of Defense did a document dump on their program to use retired military analysts as surrogates on network and cable news to pimp the administration line on the Iraq War — something we now know they did on at least 4,500 occasions.
Over at TalkingPointsMemo, a thread has been opened for those who want to sift through the material and highlight key discoveries.
So far, dedicated TPM readers have unearthed a number of noteworthy finds, of which this audio recording of this luncheon is perhaps the most astounding.
Jason Linkins is a Political Reporter at the Huffington Post, covering media and politics. He’s based in Washington, DC. Previously, he wrote for HuffPo’s Eat The Press, and has also contributed to DCist and Wonkette.