The many faces of Rumsfeld

WASHINGTON — In some of the most carefully chosen language since Bill Clinton said, “It depends what you mean by the,” U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday denied the United States plans a long-term military presence in Iraq.

Sort of.

“I have never, that I can recall, heard the subject of a permanent base in Iraq, discussed in any meeting,” said Rumsfeld, denying a New York Times report that — and here’s where it gets rich — didn’t say the United States is necessarily planning permanent bases in Iraq.

“The likelihood of it seems to me to be so low that it does not surprise me that it’s never been discussed in my presence,” Rumsfeld said. “To my knowledge.”

Such delicious obfuscation hasn’t been relished in Washington since former U.S. president Clinton took a grammatical stand when questioned about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.