Donald Rumsfeld's Willful Ignorance

Donald Rumsfeld joined the Bush Administration "best defense is a good offense" campaign today, criticizing the media for emphasizing negative stories about Iraq. According to the AFP account of the speech that appears on Yahoo, he said there was a false report that Iraqis had been put in a cage with lions (never heard that one) and the old Newsweek chestnut that the Koran had been "flushed down a toilet." As the article drolly continued, "a military investigation later found that no Korans were flushed down a toilet but that guards had "mishandled" the Muslim holy book on a least five occasions." Oh, okay.

Most interesting to me is Rumsfeld's reaction to the story, now almost a week old, that the U.S. purchased favorable stories in Iraq newspapers.

"We don't know what the facts are yet," he said, noting that the military is investigating. "The problem is the story goes out all over the world, over and over and over again, and we're still trying to find out the facts on it."

Well, there is only one reason why we don't know more facts: because the Pentagon won't tell them to us. Does he really expect us to believe that he has learned nothing about this that can be shared with the American people who are paying the bill? Actually, there could be a scarier reason, maybe Rumsfeld actually does not know the information.

It is ironic that those running the war complain of unfavorable coverage, given their ubiquitous news management. We are reduced to a choice between anecdotal accounts and government propaganda because Iraq is so out of control that news cannot be covered. What I have read indicates that reporters are kept away from many of the sites where this "good news" is happening and are justifiably skeptical of rosy government accounts.