Letters

FACT-CHECKING

Re Sydney H. Schanberg's "Bush's Ever Shifting Absolutes" [April 2-8]:

Believe me, I am no fan of Donald Rumsfeld but it seems like Schanberg misquoted him in his recent article. Schanberg damns Rumsfeld by quoting him as justifying the run-up to war this way: "What we're trying to do right now is hard. It's to connect the dots before the facts."

I wanted to share that Lewis Carrollian quotation with a friend, so I first looked up the source, just to make sure it was for real. It turns out that it probably wasn't.

I found only one citation on the Web, and the word "facts" was in brackets, indicating the transcriber was merely inferring what Rumsfeld meant to say. But a Web search for the same sentence with "fact" instead of "facts" turned up a whole bunch of hits.

Rumsfeld said "fact"—singular—in virtually identical sentences and contexts on the September 8, 2002, edition of Face the Nation, on Fox News on January 19, 2003, and in a February 10, 2003, address to the Munich Conference on European Security Policy.

Taken in context, the accurate quotation is quite a bit more rational—actually, Rumsfeld was saying that the government would like to detect planned terrorist strikes before they happen, and not, as Schanberg would have us believe, that they are trying to concoct groundless rationales for invading sovereign nations (even though that is exactly what they did).

It's disappointing that Schanberg, the self-described "graying journalist" who has "been around so long," didn't do something as basic as verifying his quotations—the anti-war argument is a strong one, but misquoting the opposition does nobody any favors . . . except maybe Rush Limbaugh.

Michael Azerrad
Greenwich Village

Sydney H. Schanberg replies: My simple response to your charge of misquotation is that I watched and listened to the Rumsfeld speech live on C-SPAN on the night of February 14. He said "facts." Don't take my word for it; check it out with C-SPAN. Also, the transcript you refer to, in which the word "facts" is bracketed, is a transcript prepared by Rumsfeld's own public relations staff, who then placed it on his official Defense Department Web site. My understanding of an official transcript is that when brackets are used, they are intended to indicate that while a tape of the speech may be blurred at that point, the word in brackets is what the speaker said.

In short, Rumsfeld, who is meticulous about insisting on accurate quotation of his words, put his imprimatur on that transcript and it's been up on his site without amendment for nearly two months.


HISTORY IN THE FAKING

Re "Bush's Ever Shifting Absolutes":

I have to wonder if the as yet unwritten American history textbooks for our nation's 2010-era high school and college students will mirror the excellent assessment of the Bush administration and clearly written time line of current events depicted in Sydney H. Schanberg's article.

Or perhaps the 2010-era president, Tom Ridge, presiding over all nine fully conservative justices of the Supreme Court, will find some way to ensure that this history is never recorded as such.

Jean-Paul Tremblay
Morningside Heights


ABSOLUTE SCHANBERG

Re "Bush's Ever Shifting Absolutes":

I must commend Sydney H. Schanberg on a very well-written piece. It's refreshing to hear the words that I can't seem to formulate myself. His article needs to reach as many Americans as possible. If people take a moment to digest what Schanberg has written, they might get a clearer picture of the current world crisis that our president has recklessly brought upon us. Thank you!

Gino Hawley
West Palm Beach, Florida


GOLDEN AGE

Re Hua Hsu's obituary for Leslie Cheung ["Beautiful Alone," April 9-15]:

It was Cheung's strong and moving portrayal of Dieyi in Chen Kaige's Farewell My Concubine that got me interested in modern Chinese literature and film. It was also because of him that I got to know more about Wong Kar-wai's films.

His death marks an end to a golden era of Hong Kong filmmaking (which began in the 1980s) and he will be missed greatly. I hope people in the U.S. can also take an interest in his films, which are very moving and provide fascinating insight into Chinese culture, from Peking Opera decadence (Concubine) to the flamboyant youth culture of 1960s Hong Kong (Days of Being Wild).

Debbie Tan
Singapore


THE CABLE GUY

Re Cynthia Cotts's "Paint It Black" [March 26- April 1]:

Cotts omitted the only television coverage of Iraq on Time Warner Cable that is not biased toward the U.S.: the CBC (available on the Newsworld International channel). In general, the CBC team (especially Peter Mansbridge) regularly features interviews with skeptics and peace activists to balance the cheerleading of the embedded representatives of CNN and the other U.S. networks.

Jerry Engelbach
Fort Greene


LIBERTY LETTER

Mark Fiore's "Blusterizer" cartoon on updating words could not have said it better [villagevoice.com, March 20].

I hope Mark Fiore keeps creating more like this, which depicts one of the problems with our government's slant and the bulk of the media that follow its lead.

Kurt Lehman
Altadena, California


MONSTER MASH

I'd like to thank James Ridgeway for his informative article "Rumsfeld's Dealings With Saddam" [villagevoice.com, April 2]. These are the sort of facts Americans need to know. So, the war boils down to attempting to undo the damage we've helped create in Iraq! The mistakes we made in the past await us in the future, and the future is now. We must face our folly.

Sylvia Barksdale
Lynnfield, Massachusetts


OVERLOOK PRESS

"Rumsfeld's Dealings With Saddam" suggests that Donald Rumsfeld and other Reagan administration officials overlooked Iraq's use of chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurds in order to secure an oil pipeline deal.

This is untrue. Rumsfeld and other Reagan administration officials (George H.W. Bush, Dick Cheney) provided Saddam Hussein with chemical and biological weapons, quite possibly the very weapons used to murder the Kurds, at least according to the London Times and The Washington Post. Providing weapons of mass destruction to Saddam is not the same as overlooking weapons of mass destruction.

Rob Urie
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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