May 6, 2006, 08:28
Editor's Note: We
appreciate Ray McGovern's taking advantage of a rare opportunity t0
grill Donald Rumsfeld. McGovern focused his assault on Rumsfeld's
lies about WMD in Iraq. We also appreciate those activists who stood up
in Rumsfeld's appearance in Atlanta to confront this war criminal. The
the Bush regime must be held accountable for its lies about WMD,
we believe it is important to remind ourselves that the existance
of WMD in Iraq still would not have been a justification for the
unprovoked war by the US/British/Israeli alliance. If a
nation can be justifiably attacked because it is in possession
of weapons of mass destruction, the September 11, 2001
attack on the U.S. was entirely justifiable. Not only does the
U.S. threaten to use it's WMD against other sovereign nations - it
does so with impunity. - Les Blough
World Can't Wait:
It just wasn't a good day for Rummy. He usually speaks only to "safe"
audiences of carefully selected military personnel. But on May 4, he
made the mistake of speaking to a public audience at the Southern
Center of International Studies in Atlanta. The result was predictable!
In a protest organized by World
Can't Wait--Drive out the Bush Regime, at least three different
protesters were hustled out by cops for interrupting Rumsfeld. One
carried a banner denouncing Rumsfeld as a war criminal. Another stood
in the audience with her back to Rumsfeld. The Associated Press
reported that "the outbursts Rumsfeld confronted on Thursday seemed
beyond the usual."
Toughest of all for Rumsfeld was
the persistent questioning from Ray McGovern. McGovern, a witness
before the Bush Crimes Commission (www.bushcommission.org)
and a member of the current Commission campus tour, put a hard line of
questioning to Rumsfeld beginning with "Why did you lie to get us into
a war that caused these kind of casualties and was not necessary." Cops
were about to drag off McGovern when Rumfeld waived them off and lamely
tried to respond.
"I'm not in the intelligence
business," Rumsfeld said about U.S. assertions that now-deposed
President Saddam Hussein possessed chemical and biological weapons and
was seeking nuclear arms.
Rumsfeld next tried to blame it
all on then-Secretary of Colin Powell, in his February 2003 speech
before the United Nations detailing U.S. beliefs about Iraqi arms, had
"spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence Agency people and
prepared a presentation that I know he believed was accurate."
And Rumsfeld tried to put it on
Bush saying that Bush, who made the threat posed by Iraq's weapons his
main justification for war, also "spent weeks and weeks with the
Central Intelligence people" before making his case to the American
"They gave the world their honest opinion," Rumsfeld added. "It appears that there were no weapons of mass destruction."
McGovern shot back, "You said you knew where they were," referring to the Iraqi weapons.
"I did not," Rumsfeld retorted. "I said I knew where suspect sites were."
"You said you know where they
were, near Tikrit, near Baghdad, and north, east, south and west of
there. Those are your words," McGovern shot back.
"I'd just like an honest answer,"
McGovern added. "We're talking about lies," also mentioning the
administration's assertions of prewar ties between Iraq and al Qaeda.
A week and a half into the war,
Rumsfeld was asked on March 30, 2003, on ABC's "This Week with George
Stephanopoulos," whether he found it curious that U.S. forces had not
yet found weapons of mass destruction.
"Not at all," Rumsfeld responded, according to a Pentagon transcript of the interview.
"We know where they are. They're
in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north
somewhat," Rumsfeld stated.
Rumsfeld on January 20, 2003,
said Saddam's government had "large, unaccounted for stockpiles of
chemical and biological weapons, including VX, sarin, mustard gas,
anthrax, botulism, and possibly smallpox," as well as "an active
program to acquire and develop nuclear weapons."
Later in the day CNN had Ray McGovern on for a nationally broadcast interview.
5/4/06: Rumsfeld's speech at the Southern
Center for International Studies in Atlanta today was disrupted by
World Can't Wait activists and others. At the beginning of the
speech a woman stood up holding a banner reading "Guilty of War
Crimes!", and shouted "I cannot stay silent, this man needs to be in
prison for war crimes" as she was dragged away by security. Two
more protesters stood up and disrupted the speech, and another turned
his back on his back on Rumsfeld.
the Q&A, Ray McGovern (a former CIA analyst who recently returned
his intelligence medal to Congress in protest of torture) asked
Rumsfeld "Why did you lie to get us into a war that caused these kind
of casualties and was not necessary?" Rumsfeld couldn't muster
much of an answer besides claiming he didn't lie, which McGovern then
refuted with a direct quote from Rumsfeld in the run-up to the Iraq
war. A woman whose son was killed in the Iraq war also asked
Rumsfeld whether the government would provide any help for her grandson.
his speech, Rumsfeld talked about building "flexible military
partnerships" around the world outside of NATO (translation: ally with
regimes known to openly practice torture and human rights
abuses). When he was disrupted, Rumsfeld arrogantly joked
(referring to the protester), "I think we can count her as
undecided". Besides being disgusting, this comment from Rumsfeld
is also unoriginal - it's the same thing he said when he was disrupted
by another World Can't Wait activist at the National Press Club in
What happened in Atlanta today is an example
many more need to follow. CNN reported that while the Bush regime
is coming under more fire in their public appearances (including in
Rice's much disrupted recent visits to England, Australia, and Greece),
this outbust was "beyond the usual". As retired generals are
calling for Rumsfeld's resignation and government sponsored torture
becomes more exposed, the protests against Rumsfeld were right on
time. The actions today should serve as a clarion call to others
that anywhere the architects of torture and unjust war go, they should
be called out for their war crimes.
A firsthand account:
Today was a fine day
in Atlanta, although I doubt that Donald Rumsfeld feels the same
way. He was asked to come speak here today at the Atlanta History
Center by the Southern Center for International Studies and it was open
to the public for $40.00 a ticket. Several of us decided to
attend the event to let him and the world know what we think of him. So
several minutes into his speech an activist with World Can’t Wait
Atlanta stood up, unfolded a banner that said "Guilty of War Crimes" as
she screamed, "I cannot be silent, this man should be in prison for his
war crimes and crimes against humanity. He personally ordered
widespread torture, an illegal and immoral war in Iraq, and is now
planning a nuclear war on Iran. We in the millions need to stop
these crimes and Drive Out the Bush Regime, The World Can’t
Wait!" As she was escorted out of the venue, she continued to
scream "The World Can’t Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime!" Donald
Rumsfeld responded with his usual line after she was removed, " I guess
she is undecided." She was handcuffed and told that she would be
detained until they were told if Rumsfeld wanted to press charges.
As he continued his
speech, another protester, a local peace activist, stood up and turned
his back on Rumsfeld. He was not removed from the room and kept
standing through the rest of the speech. He had a big sticker on his
jacket "Impeach Bush" on the background of a Georgia peach. Rumsfeld
continued his speech as the protester stood with his back turned.
A few minutes later, another local peace activist stood up with a
banner that read "Rumsfeld is a Serial Liar," and she began to scream
"you lied to the American people, you lied about WMDs, you lied about
the Iraqi nuclear program," as she was removed from the
venue. And then just as they thought every thing was back
on track, a youth with the World Can’t Wait Atlanta got up and shouted
"How can y’all sit here silent when you have a war criminal in front of
you?" As he was escorted out, he turned to the stage and said, "You are
a war criminal, Mr. Rumsfeld." All three of us who were removed from
the venue were temporarily detained then escorted off the property.
Ray McGovern, who is
an ex-CIA analyst who participated in the Bush Crimes Commission, was
in town this week to receive an award from the ACLU. He was able
to get a ticket and participated in the Q&A after Rumsfeld’s
speech. He asked Rumsfeld about his lying about the WMD to get
the backing of the public to go to war with Iraq. Rumsfeld
basically blamed the lies on Bush and Colin Powell, and tried to
doubletalk his way around the accusations. Ray McGovern kept pressing
and wouldn’t let Rumsfeld wiggle out.
Before, during and
after the event there was also a demonstration outside in front of the
Atlanta History Center. About 50 people attended, some people
wore the orange jumpsuits with black hoods. They were very
visible on a busy street with many cars showing support. There
was a lot of local media coverage.
All night the news shows have covered
the multifaceted expressions of opposition during Rumsfeld’s visit. Our
actions today were very successful in that we were able to change the
terms of debate from whether Rumsfeld was incompetent, didn’t send
enough troops to Iraq, didn’t plan for the occupation, etc. to whether
he is guilty of war crimes and whether he and the Bush administration
lied to justify the war.