Donald Rumsfeld's Strangeloveian Defense Briefing Art

Over at Gawker, Foster writes:

[A]longside Robert Draper's GQ piece on Donald Rumsfeld being called out by former colleagues, they're running covers of his White House morning defense briefings. You have to see these.

Draper notes that the briefings were "a daily digest of critical military intelligence so classified that it circulated among only a handful of Pentagon leaders and the president; Rumsfeld himself often delivered it, by hand, to the White House." You have to wonder: was Rumsfeld sitting over a well-to-do Department of Defense intern, going through loads of pictures and trying to decide what colors he wanted which quotes to be? Or did he do it himself?

Donald Rumsfeld's Judgment-Happy, Scary, Biblical Defense Briefing Art (Gawker, thanks Richard Metzger)


  1. War kitsch from the Bush Administration…. I love its mix of biblical homiletics and imperialst propaganda. Creepy-scary!

  2. F&*%ing Rumsfeld.

    F&*%ing GOP base for letting this crap go on utterly unquestioned for six years.

  3. Ugh. I supported the Iraq War. Still do. But let’s just drop “Jesus Wept” on the front page every day to get closer to the Lord’s view of the damned thing.

  4. @ Bevatron #4: Just curious, did you support the war because of the rationale offered at the time of invasion or for some other reason?

  5. These are awful.

    Propagandhi’s song “Iteration” about Rumsfeld, however, is fantastic:

    Donald wept through the proceedings.
    His tears soaked through the canvas that cloaked his twisted face and they stained orange jumpsuit where with such rare distinction he once displayed the evidence of his outstanding contributions to the maintenance of a kingdom come.
    But those days are gone.
    He’s nothing more than a number on a docket thick with shareholder, engineers, PR firms, politicians: war-profiteers.

    “How the fuck did I end up here? This just isn’t fair. Ain’t no place for a millionaire.”
    He searches for the words to stop this table in mid-turn, like “we are but old men” and “we only did what we were told”, but the laughter from the gallery drowns out these vestiges of a profession’s oldest defense.

    “The court will direct the record to reflect compliments from the bench; you sir, are central casting’s crowning achievement.
    And for your outstanding performance in a comedic role, I’d like to dedicate the findings of the jury to the dead.”

    But how can one man ever repay a debt so appalling?

    Can’t gouge 10,000 eyes from a single head so I think we should observe a sentence that will serve to satisfy both a sense of function and poetry: so you will spend the rest of your days drenched in sweat, with your face drawn in a rictus of terror as you remove another buried land mine fuse.

    Meanwhile, 100 yards back behind the sandbags, a legless foreman pulls the trigger on a red megaphone.
    Squelching feedback. Drunken laughter. Broken English. His dead daughter’s picture.
    Time and tide, no one can anticipate the inevitable waves of change.

  6. You know it’s serious stuff when the classification of a document itself is classified.

    Really weird. I wonder if the briefs themselves were cartoons.

  7. I heard a story from someone who worked in the Sec. of Defense office when Rumsfeld came in. The story goes that he had the new technology, e.g., a screen and LCD projector, torn out, and his office was restored to the way it was in the 1970s (during his first tour as SecDef). They even dug out his old dictaphone. Thus, I doubt that he did any of the PowerPoint or picture downloads himself.

  8. I can’t figure out how a group of people can see the world in such high contrast of black and white, with little or no shades of gray (mostly white, I’d assume…) It suggests stunted intellectual growth in the Bush administration.

  9. People so often quote verses out of context. Take for example the verse before Proverbs 16:3:

    “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight,
    But the Lord weighs the motives.”

    I somehow doubt Rumsfeld would have put that verse in one of his briefings :P

  10. @ #10 posted by toolbag

    “You know it’s serious stuff when the classification of a document itself is classified.”

    I’m confused, what makes you think the classification is classified? The brief is Top Secret, NoForN (No Foreign Nationals). The rest of it I don’t know.

  11. Did I miss something? How are they publishing the covers to these briefings? Even if they are just the cover, they should still hold the same security classification as the entire document (IE Top Secret).

  12. @ #15 if you look at the article itself there’s a bunch of the cover pages for the briefs and a few have half the classifications blacked out. I’ve actually seen this before but generally it was the REL UK/AUS/etc that’s not divulged because the US didn’t want certain allies to know we were working with other allies. Not sure why these are like that.

  13. I like how the one depicting Saddam’s fall quotes, uncritically and without ironically, the Mene, mene tekhel upharsin line from Nebuchadnezzar’s Feast: prophesy much, Rummy?

  14. I think the Isaiah quotation (“Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, The one that remains faithful.”) is one of the creepiest. The lines around that are serious time-of-the-apocalypse stuff.

    I get the impression that a significant fraction of the fundamentalist Christian bloc in the U.S. truly believe that war in Iraq is paving the way for the rapture. Seeing that sentiment from the leadership at the time is just extra creepy.

  15. talk about creepy; Rummy in the bedroom with his super giant size bottle of Viagra, addressing the cowering lump under the sheets;
    “Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter!”

  16. America, I am so at a loss as to how I am suppposed to position myself towards you lately.

    Good, Bad, Wrong, Right.

    Shit! I mean you guys make me laugh and entertain me. There’s some really nice people living over there in your country. But then there’s that torture thingy you know. And allowing yourselves to be ruled by a bunch of religeous zealots. WTF is up with that?

    Oh well, at least you guys make a lot of good porn.

    Or am I supposed to not like that?!

    Confusing times indeed.

  17. Required comment from liberal Christian: this makes me at least as sick as the rest of you. Possibly more, since it’s my religion these gonards are f’in up.

  18. When Osama bin Laden called Bush a crusader I thought at the time that was a bit over the top. Little did I know…. The American oligarchy at it’s finest.

    Maybe now people could cut Code Pink a little slack. Yes they can be obnoxious as hell but is there anyone in the world right now more deserving? Everywhere he goes, every time he tries to speak, this war criminal should be shouted down by every single person present. No rest, no peace for him until he is sitting in a cold cell at the Hague.

  19. Ewww, Takuan, you’ve made me relive my least-favorite scene from my least favorite book, Lady Chatterly’s Lover. Rummy as Mellors, wow. Thanks, of a sort!

    I would love to see this charming versicle, Isiah 36:12, illustrated:

    But Rabshakeh said, Hath my master sent me to thy master and to thee to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?


  20. @#30: This looks a lot like the al quaida pages on net!!!

    Ha, ha! You are absolutely right! Same graphic designer? (Uh oh, tin foil hat time.)

  21. Does anyone think it is possible that the most conspiratorial, millenarian, eschatological wingnuts of society are employed in the highest echelons of government?

  22. Stefan @ #3 – Unquestioned? Dude, they’ll put up a fecking *shrine* to these briefings.

  23. This Christian war porn looks like a lot of the kitschy shit that the wingnuts post over on the FreeRepublic website.

  24. Very ugly and inappropriate stuff. Rumsfeld is ultimately responsible for these covers being used, but he did not personally create them, as is implied by the BB and Gawker headlines. Early in the GQ article is this paragraph:

    “These cover sheets were the brainchild of Major General Glen Shaffer, a director for intelligence serving both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense. In the days before the Iraq war, Shaffer’s staff had created humorous covers in an attempt to alleviate the stress of preparing for battle. Then, as the body counting began, Shaffer, a Christian, deemed the biblical passages more suitable. Several others in the Pentagon disagreed. At least one Muslim analyst in the building had been greatly offended; others privately worried that if these covers were leaked during a war conducted in an Islamic nation, the fallout—as one Pentagon staffer would later say—’would be as bad as Abu Ghraib’ ”

  25. Man, it’s OK to have an imperialistic foreign policy which mainly benefits corporations, but you’re not supposed to believe in your own propaganda. That’s gonna ruin it for everyone!

    I mean, here in the colonies I don’t mind living under a secular empire, but if it turns into a proper theocracy, well, let me tell you: we tried that in Europe for a few thousand years, it didn’t work, and the reason it didn’t has nothing to do with warplanes.

  26. This is what you get when you incorporate the Mosaic Ten Commandments into Christian doctrine.
    Christ was not a soldier. Period. And only one “commandment” is Christian: Love thy neighbor, as thyself.
    All the rest (particularly the Ten Commandments) have been added to Christian doctrine by “Authorities”, centuries after Jesus was nailed to the cross.
    What’s the etymology of the word ‘altar’?

    What is with the American descent into superstitious gloom, torture, and Crusade?
    Is there something in the food/water supply?

    But to tell the truth IMO this art is far better than the War (any war) itself.
    Countries ought to settle their differences in art contests, not war:
    skill in creating beauty, NOT skill in destruction, ought to take the laurel.
    Why doesn’t it?

  27. Note that only two of the 11 Bible quotes in the GQ article are from the New Testament.

    One was from a letter by a guy who used to hang with Jesus, while the other was from another letter by a notorious nutjob and fast buck artiste who claimed to have seen Jesus in a vision years after he was dead, then used that to get in on the ground floor of the Messiah biz.

    Nothing from Christ himself.

    My guess (as an outsider) is that what passes for a ‘Christian’ in the US doesn’t have much use for the Commie faggy peacenik stuff He used to spout.

  28. I totally love this!
    This is the final proof, that the former USA administration (and still widly current second row) is not an inch ‘better’ or ‘different’ from Al Quaida.
    Just swap ‘god’ for ‘allah’ and it’s EXACTLY the same argumentation an rhetoric.

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