No Evidence is Evidence: Rumsfeld’s Paradigm Shift
Up is down, red is green, yes means no, and no evidence is evidence. Rumsfeld, that loveable lug, is at it again. When Saddam Hussein agreed to weapons inspectors, the Bush Cartel found it almost impossible to take yes for an answer. Holy cow, they said amongst themselves, he’s going to let them in. What are we going to do now? We are readying our troops as we speak. We promised our friends at the Carlyle group and Halliburton (among others) big contracts and big bucks from this one.
What they decided to do was discredit the weapons inspectors. That way, if the inspectors never find anything, people will think it is because Blix and his team are incompetent, not that there aren’t weapons. And the possibility of war remains a go.
But, despite their best public relations efforts, the discrediting didn’t play as well as they hoped. So they searched and searched, trying to find a scrap of something they could pass off as plausible evidence. But, nothing appeared. We’ve got to come up with another plan, they said.
So, Rumsfeld, the master mind of the Pentagon’s now defunct “Office of Strategic Influence,” whose stated mission was to generate disinformation and propaganda, was quoted as saying Iraq is “skilled at denial and deception” and “the fact that the inspectors have not yet come up with new evidence of Iraq’s WMD program could be evidence, in and of itself, of Iraq’s non cooperation. “And, by the way, now the burden of proof of innocence is on Iraq.
The entire world ought to have stood up and shouted a collective: “You’ve got to be kidding!”
But he wasn’t. With these proclamations and statements of conjecture, Rumsfeld, no doubt, hoped to create a subtle, yet major paradigm shift, an alteration of perceived reality: no evidence is evidence. The hope was that a little seed would be planted in the minds of Americans and the media that will grow and blossom into unquestioned reality. “Yeah,” they hope the average citizen will say, “Saddam is really, really sneaky. And bad. So, he’s definitely got weapons, even if we can’t find one of ‘em. Let’s go get him. Let’s go get all of ‘em.”
Rumsfeld & Co. very cleverly set it up so that the inspectors don’t ever have to find a thing, because now no evidence is really evidence. So, no matter what, they have their evidence and Hussein will never be exonerated, which means he’s still a potential threat, which means the possibility of war remains alive. (Confusing? Of course it is. That’s what they’re counting on.)
Another paradigm shift is that the Bush team and the UN don’t have to provide any evidence of Iraq’s continuing efforts to build WMD. Iraq has to prove it isn’t. (The U.S. is charging Hussein is involved in criminal activity. But, in the U.S., in criminal cases, the burden of proving a case against a person is on the party bringing the charges. A person does not have to prove his or her innocence; the prosecutor must prove that the defendant is guilty. I wonder why they think this is moral and just here in the U.S., but not elsewhere? [Come to think of it, for some here, that’s going by the wayside, too. But, they don’t talk about that much.] Hasn’t Bush professed one of his goals is to export the decent standards of Democracy to the world? I guess maybe he only uses democratic principles when it furthers his objectives.)
In any event, Iraq need not worry about trying to prove anything, because the Bush crew is never going to believe any proof they offer. Never. Rumsfeld made sure of that when he said Hussein is known for his “denial” and “deception.” So, not Hussein’s full cooperation with the inspectors, certainly not his word, not the reports from the biological, chemical and nuclear teams that are scouring his country; the most definitive proof will never be proof enough.
It’s a total set up; a no win situation; the window to war the Bush Cartel hopes to point its missiles out of, if they don’t happen to find any evidence to shoot their arsenal at. They could find evidence today. No matter. Who needs evidence, says the Bush administration. Our trap is set.
Unlikely, but just maybe Rumsfeld actually believes what he is saying when he says no evidence is evidence. And it isn’t just simply a page of Doublespeak from Orwell’s 1984. When one is engaged in a lot of covert actions, one starts seeing that same behavior in everyone, everywhere. One becomes indiscriminately disbelieving and suspicious. It’s classic.
Perhaps Rumsfeld so readily sees current “noncooperation” in Hussein because that very phenomenon is happening in the Bush administration’s many games of Do As I Say, Not As I Do. For instance, our government is demanding total and full disclosure from Iraq. Yet, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle stated that the Bush administration has failed to provide disclosure to Congress about the prospect for a war on Iraq, as is its legal requirement as part of a resolution passed last October.
[Lest we forget: the Bush team does not have the legal right to declare war. Only Congress has that right. This Congressional declaration of war was put in place specifically so a president would not have the exclusive power to decide such a momentous thing. It was meant to keep this awesome power from being abused. No, September 11th does not change that. In fact, it argues more for checks and balances to ensure measured decisions are made in such emotional times. Remember, too, for all he’s done and as despicable as he is, Hussein had nothing to do with September 11th.]
Another example: Rumsfeld accuses Iraq of being skilled at deception. Yet, after his disinformation Office of Strategic Influence was closed due to public outcry, Rumsfeld was not one to be defeated. So, he created a new position - Deputy Undersecretary for Special Plans. The job’s responsibility is to continue the same deception operations as the Office of Strategic Influence was to perform, just under a different name. (You also might want to take a look at the toned down website of John Poindexter’s brainchild - Total Information Awareness office - it states some of its purpose is “storytelling” and “truth maintenance.”)
This “noncooperation” and games playing also translates into withholding information or preventing any serious dialogue about anything the Bush Cartel wants to keep hush-hush. The current administration is one of the most secretive in history. It is removing information from the public domain at an alarming rate. The FOIA is being eviscerated; thousands of very important governmental documents are being shredded; Bush’s military record (or lack thereof) has disappeared; Ashcroft has given orders to agencies not to cooperate with people looking for “sensitive” information – information that the public has a legal right to know about; 8,000 pages from the Iraqi Declaration were removed by the U.S. before it was released to the UN (those pages presumably named corporations that aided Iraq in its biological and weapons proliferation); chunks of government and industry websites have been deleted and what remains has been sanitized, minimizing embarrassing facts about industry ties and the like; Cheney’s Halliburton case miraculously got dismissed from the courts right along with the truth; the fact that language protecting Eli Lilly against certain law suits was somehow buried in an unrelated security bill with nobody taking responsibility has long been swept under the rug. The list goes on and on and on.
The Bush administration is setting dangerous precedents, opening a Pandora’s box of issues. In the National Security Strategy that the White House issued last September, the US claimed it has a "right" of military preemption anywhere around the world. Yet, the U.S. keeps watch over other countries, believing none have this same right and none have claimed it.
But that won’t last long. We have just as much of a right to do it as they do, other countries will say. And they’ll be correct. The Bush administration doesn’t have the right to do things other countries can’t, as much as they try to pretend otherwise.
Similarly, the U.S. is playing the game of Two New Weapons of Mass Destruction for Me, and None For You. This is a dangerous game as any kid on the playground can tell you, because the kid who isn’t allowed to have any toys won’t play for long – at least not the game you’re playing. He sees the inequity and the injustice and soon something’s gotta give.
Thus, Bush is creating a world of preemptive strikes, nuclear weapons proliferation; a world that can ignore environmental treaties and erode citizens’ rights, only naming a few.
And now, the administration via the voice of Donald Rumsfeld, may very well be creating a precedent for the use of theoretical possibility and conjecture – no evidence is evidence – as a rationale for war. At the rate we’re going war, the world over, may soon be founded on mere hunches.
Perhaps Rumsfeld’s logic will filter into situations that have nothing to do with war. Perhaps one day we’ll see the same reasoning in our courtrooms: If the jurors find no evidence whatsoever that a defendant has, say, murdered his wife, then perhaps they’ll conclude the lack of evidence is, in and of itself, really proof that he did do it.
If a police officer gives a driver suspected of driving under the influence, a breathalyzer test that comes up negative, perhaps that is evidence, in and of itself, that she is actually driving drunk. A whole new system of law, justice and ethics could be born.
Iraq, in fact, may not be cooperating in ways we haven’t discovered. But we need real proof, not theoretical possibilities. What are they going to call this war: Operation Because There Was a Theoretical Possibility? (Even if they found proof, war will only make us less safe. But, that’s another issue.)
It seems to me when Rumsfeld made his dubious comments, it provided evidence, in and of itself, of an administration that will shamelessly stop at nothing to get what it wants – making embarrassingly transparent leaps into the treacherous waters of unsubstantiated conjecture, knowing the media will leap right in with them as much of America, cued by their TV sets, hurry to put on their swim suits of credulity, ready to follow along side by side with Tony Blair who stands at attention in his uniform of mask and snorkel.
It is evidence, in and of itself, of a brazen administration run amok.
It is evidence, in and of itself, of a president who is in actuality, simply an all-too human, failed businessman with major family connections, who feels the need to compensate for his long list of failings, hoping to make his daddy proud.
It is evidence, in and of itself, that this administration is desperately scrambling for something – anything - any excuse to deploy the poor and disenfranchised Americans that mostly make up our military, asking them to risk their lives so the Bush adminstration can flex its world-wide muscles as it secures strategic positioning, hoping we Americans will hold up our giant foam fingers and chant, “We’re Number One.”
It is evidence, in and of itself, that to our current administration, the potential of gallons and gallons of spilled innocent Iraqi “collateral” blood is less of a concern than the promise of a cheap gallon of oil.
Let’s shift the paradigm so that the burden is on the Bush administration to prove to the American people and the world otherwise.
Carol Norris is a freelance writer and psychotherapist. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org