April 8, 2008; New York. Parade magazine, the popular Sunday newspaper insert, has filed suit in District Court today against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claiming copyright infringement. The suit follows on revelations in former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith’s new book, War and Decision, that Rumsfeld presented a “Parade of Horribles” to high-level officials in the White House prior to the launching of the war with Iraq in 2003. Lawyers for Parade magazine claim that Rumsfeld signed his own name to the list of possible disasters that might result from a war with Iraq, despite the fact that the list had originally appeared in the July 6, 2002, issue of Parade as part of a quiz, “Fire or Ice?” In the quiz, readers were asked to rank potential problems in pursuing a war, jumbled in with a set of random letters, numbers, and diacritical marks. (The correct ranking for most likely problem was “all of the above.”) The lawyers state that Rumsfeld was not the author who supplied the quiz, under contract, to Parade. Rumsfeld’s creation of this list from previously published material, and the photocopying and distribution of the list among White House staff, if true, would constitute a clear violation of U.S. and international copyright law.
Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a frequent critic of Rumsfeld, noted the irony that Feith is now claiming that the most ardent of pro-war advocates also had had the best foresight regarding potential problems resulting from the war they lusted after. “Feith’s book forces us to make one of two conclusions. Either he’s a lying sumbitch trying to conduct cosmetic surgery on his and his colleagues’ war-crime past, or they are even more imcompetent than we ever imagined. Even after taking the Parade quiz, they still went ahead and launched this bumblefuck war? Lord help us!”
Walter Anderson, chair and CEO of Parade Publications, said he nearly choked on the wine he was drinking when he came across the relevant passage in Feith’s book. “These guys are supposed to be defending the American way from terrorists, protecting our right to unlimited volumes of brain-deadening ‘entertainment’ and Hollywood gossip, and yet here they are breaking the most sacred trust I hold with the shareholders of this company to the profit stream available from reproductions of our quiz? I never thought I’d see this from members of the Bush Administration.” Anderson went on to note that Parade had itself settled out of court over a complaint that its quiz had utilized previously published material. “Yeah, it’s not as if it took a rocket scientist to figure out that the Iraq war was going to be stoopid [sic] beyond all belief. There must have been about 1,000 articles a month on how the war was doomed to be a quagmire–maybe not in the mainstream media which was busy kissing Bush’s post-9/11 ass, but the word was out. Nowadays you can’t think of any criticism of the President and his policies that hasn’t been pointed out by dozens of people before you. Not only is he running this country into the ground, but he’s making it hard for writers to write anything without stepping on one another’s toes.”
In response to requests for comment, Rumsfeld said only, “why have you chosen to be with the terrorists?”