[movies] Errol Morris on How Donald Rumsfeld Sees His Own Legacy … interesting preview of Errol Morris’ new film on Donald Rumfield. Here’s the trailer.
The most distinctive thing about Rumsfeld is his use of language. Is it Orwellian? In 1984, language is used as a means of control—but it is conscious control. With Rumsfeld, I felt I was witnessing something more complex: a man using language to obscure the world from himself as well as from others. In his Pentagon press conferences he would frequently quibble over the meaning of words: “pre-emption,” “insurgency,” “quagmire.” It was almost a way of keeping a safe distance from reality.
Most people remember that Rumsfeld’s famous comment about “known knowns,” “known unknowns,” and “unknown unknowns” happened at a press conference, but few remember that it was in response to a question about what evidence we had that Saddam Hussein was linked to terrorist organizations—which was the justification for the war in the first place. The more I studied this performance, the more I realized that what Rumsfeld said wasn’t really an answer. It was an attempt to change the subject, to turn reporters’ questions about intelligence into a lofty question about the nature of knowledge: “Sometimes we have evidence for things and sometimes we don’t; sometimes we know what we’re looking for and sometimes we don’t.”