Rumsfeld’s memoir is one big clean-up job, a brazen effort to shift blame to others — including President Bush — distort history, ignore the record or simply avoid discussing matters that cannot be airbrushed away. It is a travesty, and I think the rewrite job won’t wash.
The Iraq War is essential to the understanding of the Bush presidency and the Rumsfeld era at the Pentagon. In the book, Rumsfeld tries to push so much off on Bush. That is fair because Bush made the ultimate decisions. But the record shows that it was Rumsfeld stoking the Iraq fires — facts he has completely left out of his memoir.
For example, I reported in my 2004 book, Plan of Attack (p. 25), that at 2:40 p.m. on 9/11, with the smoke and dust still filling the Pentagon, according to the notes of two of Rumsfeld’s top aides, Rumsfeld mused about whether to hit “S.H. @ same time,” not only bin Laden. One note taker reaffirmed this in an interview with the 9/11 Commission, and said that “S.H.” referred to Saddam Hussein. (p. 335 of Commission report, and p. 559 footnote 63). None of this is in Rumsfeld’s book. But he does cite the aides’ handwritten notes for other quotations he uses in his book to recount that day. (p. 343 of his book, and p. 759 notes 30, 31 and 32. The notes are of senior Rumsfeld aides Victoria Clarke and Stephen A. Cambone.)