Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

MATTHEWS: Mr. Secretary, let me ask you about the war in Iraq and the boldest question I could put to you here in the Pentagon. Did you ever advise the president to go to war?
RUMSFELD: You ought to get a life. You could do something besides read those books.

MATTHEWS: This is my life. Let me ask you about something a little more...

RUMSFELD: Let me answer your question.

MATTHEWS: Did you advise the president to go to war?

RUMSFELD: Yes. He did not ask me, is the question. And to my knowledge, there are a number of people he did not ask.

Woodward said he found that the administration quietly shifted money around to pay for early preparations for war in Iraq, without the approval of Congress. He said those preparations included building landing strips and addressing other military needs in Kuwait.

The money, about $700 million, was taken in July 2002 from a budget item that had been approved for the war in Afghanistan, Woodward wrote.

"Some people are going to look at that document called the Constitution, which says that no money will be drawn from the Treasury unless appropriated by Congress," Woodward says in his CBS interview.

Does this mean that the President didn't consult the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Defense or Congress on the decision to go to war?

It appears he did consult God.

I'm in Europe so I have no idea how much coverage this is getting in the US, but isn't this an important issue?


It's all semantics, and frankly, no longer important and is certainly not news. Of course, for more than a year, there were lots of discussions and consultantations with lots of people and lots of organisations around the world, including his Cabinet. The President did consult Congress, which per the Constitution is, I believe, the only organsation to which the President needs approval from for this matter.

It is important, for it seems that people who should have been involoved - hell its their job to be so - were bypassed. It gives all those conspiracy theories a cookie to chew on, and definitly makes the previous Bush arguments an even bigger bunch of lies than they had already proven to be.

Joi...I'm glad you are blogging about politics now! This should be news.

This should be pretty damn BIG news. But I don't really see it anywhere. Starting a war without even asking the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of State, let alone Congress. But he asks the voices in his head. That's not just a minor detail. It is downright scary.

It is, in fact, an impeachable offense, to allocate war funds to Iraq that were approved by Congress for a different war. But since impeachment is political, and the Repubs control the House, expect to hear nothing of it. We'll have to wait for something truly significant, like a blowjob. Sending people to die on false premises and unconstitutional allocation of money to do it? No big deal! (I fully expected the brainwashees to jump on this. Undoubtedly they have been fed a defense.)

It's not big news here because of something peculiar about the US. Everyone who cares about the issue of the decision to go to war knows in the back of their mind about this. The story has sort of quietly propogated. The reason there isn't more debate here about this story represents a shortcoming of our American culture. As you know, left wing Christianity has been blogging about why it is that the Right seems identified with Christianity and the left is stereotyped as irreligious. For half the country there is a deep distrust of intellectuals, while for the other half there is a deep concern about monolithic faith trumping democratic discussion. Why is there no debate about this story ? Because the two sides of America don't speak, we are not on speaking terms. The two sides have their prefered News sources, we are extraordinarily polarized.

'dendum: um, it is intellectually dishonest to ask the President to ask anyone at all whether "we should go to war"? We get an intellectual President, and you bet, I want him or her to be the sole decision maker.

But this gets deeper into GWBush's mindset.

When a man who speaks in messianic tones has his finger on the button, we really do have a serious problem.

Not fundamentally different from the Israel minister who assasinated Palestinian bignames.

In America, the general population - and most journalists - consider all of that stuff an "inside the Beltway" detail. :-)

Actually, as your transcript of the Matthews/Rumsfeld interview points out, Rumsfeld never actually answers Mathews' question. Instead, Rumsfeld skillfully avoids directly answering the question by giving an answer that sounded like it addressed the question but, in fact, did not.

Specifically, to the question:

MATTHEWS: Did you advise the president to go to war?

Rumsfeld's answer was:

RUMSFELD: Yes. He did not ask me, is the question. And to my knowledge, there are a number of people he did not ask.

Rumsfeld does not directly answer the question. Matthews asked a direct "Yes or No" question. While Rumsfeld (perhaps in a Freudian slip?) states "Yes" he then quickly re-phrased the question into something close to Matthew's original question but, in fact, was a completely different question. Rumsfeld's answer had to do with the President asking Rumsfeld about going to war. It said nothing about Matthew's original question "Did you advise the president to go to war?"

Any politician who's been around as long as Rumsfeld knows not to give a direct answer to those type of questions. Instead, do a little side step, a shuffle and add a little razzle dazzle and even Matthews didn't know he'd been bamboozled.

Unfortunately, that's also been the philosophy of the entire Bush presidency, his cabinet and much of the current congress.

And too many people in America are still falling for it.


Who is Mike B. ? That was protea's 'dendum.

It's disingenuous to ask the president to ask anyone whether the US should invade, to a certain extent at least. Except in the case of GW Bush. Otherwise no one would even suggest that the President should ask anyone... The Buck Stops Here... usually.

New data indicates that a large enough percentage of voters out here in the states are Evangelical Reborn Christians, that if the Prez is one, he is shoed in.

I think the bigger issue in this item is that $700m were allocated to "pre-planning". If Bush really hadn't decided to go to war, how on earth could such large sums of money be spent? Remember, this is almost 9 months before the actual war. Obviously the whole "we got bad intelligence thing" is bogus. These criminals wanted to go to war since they were elected.

First of all what the President needed from Rumsfeld was filtered through Condoleeza Rice. Second of all why would he listen to a “weak sister” like Colin Powel? No one takes the Secretary of State seriously, at least inside the beltway.

Peace is not the answer.
Give war a chance

Best wishes,
Barry O’Connell

Hey, Barry. I think you are right. After 9/11, war was definitely called for, but the current battle plan is FUBAR. After that horrible attack on thousands of innocents, it was time for America to stand-up and fight... but wisely. Not like a bull in a china shop. In my opinion, a more common sense retalliation might have included the following:

1. Lock down that damned border between Afganistan and Pakistan. Seriously.

2. Get Bin Laden, for Chrissake.

3. Roll through some of the Afghan tribal areas like the Angel of Death. Clean house. What? It's not easy? Too bad, so sad, but get it done anyway.

4. Take the hint and agressively pursue the development of alternative energy sources. I know, I know -- it's too "sci fi" and currently not feasible, but it must be done. After 9/11, our shameful dependence on Middle East oil was exposed. We should have started serious national programs in education, research, and economic policy that sought to develop the "holy grail" of alternative energy. Forget the war on drugs, how about a war on fossil fuels? Isn't an event like 9/11 dramatic enough to inspire and catalyze this inevitable work? What could be more triumphant than shattering a dependency on the enemy's resources while neutralizing his monopoly? In the meantime, we would have brought a new technology for the benefit of all people. Let the Middle Eastern bastards who would kill our innocents drink that black crude. Let 'em choke on it, because we can figure out a better way.

It's the plan of a boy, but it's better than GW Bush's. Bush's plan is so off-base that it has actually created a whole new smorgasbord of problems to heap on the pile. As crazy as the idea is, perhaps the UN should intervene. But will the UN ultimately exit from Iraq properly? A graceful exit that doesn't leave the Iraqis high and dry is one of the most important things to think about at this point.

Had Bush actually "consulted God" he would have been led to make drastically different choices. Too easy to confuse the voice of one's own ego with the voice of "God".

OK – here goes: The New World Order is for real and it exists because at the end of the last century, the global “social” system closed. Furthermore, we have understood what Modernism consists of, as well as it's purpose. The purpose of Modernism is to be the coping mechanism needed to avoid a global tragedy of the commons. The Post-Modern era is past. We know what it is to be modern, that is no longer an interesting question. The interesting question today is what do we have in common, thus: Welcome to the Pre-Common era. Look to the crisis in Art theory as confirmation, nobody knows what comes after deconstructionism, yet.

We will all be modern because global issues can not be addressed, let alone managed with pre-modern societies. A modern Moslem world is our current challenge, then only a modern Africa is left as the last 'big' piece. The rapidity with which modernity has been adopted throughout Asia, India, Eastern Europe, and the Americas confirms that the model is understood.

The world is going this way because 7 Billion is a small number today, manageable. How different is God and the inevitable?

Rumsfeld is the Cheshire cat. have clue please.