NRO‘s Michael Rubin delivers the strange report that Iraq is abuzz with a rumor that Donald Rumsfeld met secretly with that country’s powerful Shiite Grand Ayatollah Sistani before the U.S. invasion and offered him a massive bribe, purportedly so Sistani would tell his followers not to resist the Americans. Rubin posts a statement from Rumsfeld’s normally tight-lipped office:
The rumors currently making the rounds in some Arabic press outlets that allege Mr. Rumsfeld’s forthcoming memoir contains information about meeting with and bribing Grand Ayatollah Sistani are as laughable and inaccurate as they are disprovable. People will be able to see for themselves exactly what is in Known and Unknown when it becomes public on February 8.
Suffice it to say that Rumsfeld did not offer to pay for any of Grand Ayatollah Sistani’s opinions, nor would he have even entertained the thought. Furthermore, Rumsfeld never met with Sistani. Suggestions to the contrary are flat untrue.
It is a reminder, though, that Rummy’s much-anticipated book–one that some people expect to hit hard and settle multiple scores–will be landing quite soon.
Update: Here’s a link to one Islamic message board discussion of the reports about Rumsfeld’s far-fetched meeting. The purported excerpt from his manuscript makes for fun reading–but doesn’t exactly have the heavens-to-Betsy ring of Rummy authenticity:
“Then we reached dwelling place of Al-Sistani wherein he was staying in dirty neighborhood surrounded with garbage from every side. I remember putting handkerchief on my nose due to smell that was present inside Al-Sistani’s building and the areas surrounding it. When I saw Al-Sistani, he hugged me and kissed me more than once even though I don’t find it pleasant to kiss men, we discussed about many issues and it was from wisdom to accept opinions of our friends especially opinion of Al-Sistani.”