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‘The Unknown Known” or what we already knew

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The Unknown Known


Sitting in the dark watching Donald Rumsfeld’s face for an hour and forty-three minutes, even if you get to see him stumble at times over his own explanations, is while interesting, at times unbearable. “The Unknown Known” is a one man show, (with the Director Errol Morris fielding questions to him off screen). Rumsfeld is at the center expounding upon his time in public service. Rumsfeld uses words as weapons with not only the media, but even those he worked for. Rumsfeld mugs and smirks at the camera all the while stating his own little epiphanies in condescending tones and twisting his words to suit his needs.
Let us take his statement that there are “Unknown, knowns, and known unknowns and finally that that there are things are unknown that we later find out were known." To Rumsfeld it is all about expanding your imagination to the extent that you can foresee what these unknowns are and thus mitigate dangers. In this Rumsfledian world, things such as torture have only happened three times. He wrote on a memo regarding stress positions that he has stood for 8-10 hours a day therefore six is easy…
While there is nothing new here; it is surprising that he did not read the report on torture that was issued. Given that, then who is he to make statements which one can value and believe? Additionally, if Rumsfeld et al were so wonderful and good at scouting out the unknown knowns, then how they can tout their own program given that it failed when it mattered the most? (To wit, if it really was flawless, how could they have so easily dismissed the PDB entitled “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US”) and further, continued to publically link Saddam Hussein with 9/11? (while at the same time denying they did that). Both things are failings, yet both met their need. Rumsfeld for all his rationalizing and mugging could not and did not answer for this.
Finally, one moment which was missing in this film was when a Marine questioned Rumsfeld on the lack of equipment they had to protect themselves. Did the makers of this film have an agreement not to ask that question? Further, if they had, and if they had played it, one wonders just what his response, if any, would have been.


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