Donald Rumsfeld and the Taliban 2001

Here I have posted a number of reversals found on Donald Rumsfeld talking about the situation in Afghanistan around October 2001.

1) In 2001, there was reporting in the media about possible parts of a nuclear weapon were found in the south of Afghanistan; one such part of the device was referred to as a ‘shotgun’. That same week, I found this reversal from Rumsfeld.

Reverse: ¹Shotgun worked south. ²You don’t say a thing. 
Forward: If the ¹[thrust of that quest]io²[n, it is would o]f would we knowingly allow him to get out of Kandahar, the answer is no we would …

Shotgun [that quest]ion – [sh] has characteristics of [sh] and characteristics of [ch]; [o] vowel longer; it would be quite normal for [t] to not be articulated providing there is constriction in upper throat which there is here with articulation of [k] in ‘question’. [g] is produced by the [k]. There is a [t] alveolar following in ‘tha[t]’, however the [k] suitably masks it. The [th] produces a perceivable [n]. Though not perfect, there is a reasonable approximation of the word. What is important is to address the quality of other words and the appropriateness to context.
worked south [thrust o]f – sounds representing [k]e[d] occur at the release of (s) and full articulation of [t] in the FS. [s] and [th] occur in [thrus]t to produce south.
you don’t [would o]f – [nt] is perceivable from the release of [s] in ‘is’ in the FS. ‘You’ comes from the release of [d] and articulation of the vowel following.
say a [is] – perception of [y] and (a) may occur as a result of extended intonated (i) in ‘is’.
thing – [it is would o]f – [th] from [t] and ng] from the release of [n] in ‘question’.

These two statements are joined by what appears to be ‘and the’ to make ‘and the shotgun worked south’. I have ignored it here.

2) Early in the US involvement in Afghanistan there was frustration over the competence of the Northern Alliance in combatting the Taliban. This reversal came from Rumsfeld at that time.

Reverse: They connect kill in any force, see that pressure 
Forward: to the Taliban leade[rship that is so intimately connected]

They cannot kill – intimate[ly connected] – one can reasonably see how the RS words are produced from the FS.
in any [intimat]ely – this is a bit of a ‘sticky wicket’. It can be heard in different ways and a certain amount of projection occurs in order to make it grammatically sensible. Closer to the sounds occurring would be ‘the money’ or ‘the many’. Also, one could project ‘n then they’ into it.
force [so] – interestingly, an obvious [f] occurs.
see that/death [that is] – [th] in the RS occurs at [t] producing a [d]; [t] occurs at [th] in the FS; [th] can still be heard on closer listening, so there has to be an assumption that it is meant to be [t]. However, it can be heard as ‘see death’.
pressure [rship]- interestingly, [pr] occurs in reverse at [ip]; so an [r] is maintained here to produce the [pr].

This reversal may show frustration over the ineffectiveness of the Northern Alliance. There is uncertainty of ‘in any’ and ‘see that’, and these are just as likely to be something else. RS is often a series of statements rather than one longer reversal. To identify individual shorter statements, one needs to be aware of this and not just see it as one single sentence or phrase. Alternatives could be:

They cannot kill – the money – force. See death – pressure (or see death, pressure).
They cannot kill the many – force. See death – pressure.
They cannot kill, the many force. See death, pressure.

Nevertheless, even though there are alternatives there is a theme here, and that is that the Northern Alliance was not effective in fighting the Taliban.

3) In these two reversals, Rumsfeld uses the word ‘snake’ to refer to Al-Qaeda. This one is from October 2001. 

(a) Reverse: Call police, make your break snake 
Forward: … that every place at every time a[gainst every conceivable], imaginable, even unimaginable, terrorist attack.

(C)all police – con[ceivable] – the release of [v] and [ee] in the FS interestingly gives perception of [l]. [b] produces (p). Also interestingly [v] itself has become sonorous and disappears from other influence in the RS. An assumption is being made for [k] in call, as it is not articulated; there is only post-velar constriction as Rumsfeld moves to the next word following in the FS.
make your break [every con]ceivable] – [m] actually is [n]; [b] comes behind [v], however, the sound is perceivable as a bilabial [b], and, in fact, even in the FS, it can be perceivable as such; [k] is perceivable through post-velar constriction between agains[t e]very.
snake a[gains]t – obvious from the FS sounds.

m/n in RS is a contentious issue. Some reversal documentation depends on an obvious [n] in FS being an [m]; it is only that it can sound like [m] without closer listening. An acceptance of this would depend on the efficacy of the rest of the reversal or reversal group. Also, there is assumption placed on a [k] for ‘call’. The rest is reasonably sound, and some sounds are produced in RS in a way that is not so obvious from the FS sounds, and this is worth noting.

(b)This reversal occurred on November 19, 2001:

Reverse: snake fightin’ on 
Forward: .. that would provide for the release of forces of foreign nationals, [non-Afghans] leaving the country and and destabilising neighbouring countries.

Snake – Af[ghans]
fightin’ on [non-Af] – The [t] is a glottal [t] that occurs at the beginning of initial (a) in Afghans. This is completely valid and quite sound

4) This reversal set comes from Oct 2001. There are 19 words in the FS. Potential language exists behind total FS section as a series of statements. Note discussion at the end about different ‘voices’.

Reverse: Seize the gear// Their (h)ome/The Rome attack August 6//Those terrorists seed the weed//Kill//We’ll/will know he’d eat the(m) 
Forwards: ⁵[But the the only ⁴{w]ay} ³[to deal with these terrorist threat{²s]is to go at them where} ¹[they exis]t …

¹Seize the gear – th[ey exis]t – initial sound in ‘gear’ comes behind the [g] articulation in [x]; a short perceptible separate sound on the release of [g] in the FS provides an impression of ‘the’. ‘Seize’ comes behind the sound [zis] in the FS (the [t] at the end of ‘exist’ disappears).

²Their (h)ome attack August 6 [is to go at them where]
Their (h)ome – the[m where th] – there is uncertainty as to what it is. One may perceive ‘The Rome’.
attack [at the]em – the [th] in the FS weakens and is completely overshadowed by the strong [t] following. A sonorous [k] is perceivable through the strong, wide-mouthed low back [a] in the FS.

August 6 – threat[s is to go] –[x] comes from the release of [ts] in the word previous.

³Those terrorists seed the weed [to deal with those terrorist threats]

Those [threats] – weakened [thr] produces a perceivable [s] sibilant; [th] in the RS is perceivable behind [ts] in the FS, perhaps in part due to the more dental character as the tongue moves from the vowel position [e]. to the stop and fricative.
terrorists [terrorist] – close approximation to the word
seed [these] – the [th] produces a [d] due in part to its stronger stop character following the [th] in ‘with’.
the [with] – obvious from FS
weed [to deal] – the character of [l] in the FS changes to accommodate some characteristic of [w]; interestingly the [d] is not fully articulated (with tongue only touching alveolar ridge), and full articulation occurs at [t] in ‘to’.

kill [way] – A perceivable [k] occurs which is not apparent from the FS, except that the ending of the FS word end with approximant position in the velar region.

We’ll/will know he’d eat th(em) [But the only w]ay – the ending for ‘them’ is not sound (thup). ‘eat’ comes behind ‘the’. It is interesting that it is perceptible enough to be a [t] with the [th], yet the [t] in ‘but’ in the FS has a dental fricative character [th or s]. We’ll\will know comes behind [only w]ay. Obviously the last word falls into gibberish, so this has to inform acceptance of the reversal.


These reversals possess a high number of sound word representations, and with the large number of actual sentences (apart from the single word reversal) and the interesting comments themselves makes it worth taking note. Of course, one needs to be careful about documenting everything that appears it could be language. Close examination and consideration is important.

In the FS, Rumsfeld wanted to get at them where they are found. ‘Seed the weed’ may refer to planting/sowing a drug crops (opium), which it was known Al-Qaeda was doing in Afghanistan. The same ‘voice’ (see next paragraph below) instructs/commands that the gear should be seized. If ‘weed’ is not slang for a drug crop, then it could be metaphorical for promoting activities that strangle positive growth. If the final reversal has any validity, eating what would be a question to ask, and who as well? Sometimes months come up in reversals; this one (August 6) is particularly interesting because it also has the date, and it is very clear. This reversal was taken in October 2001, so it would be quite odd to represent a date the following year, and maybe even the past year before 911. If valid, perhaps that date has some importance in Rumsfeld’s subconscious through a past event.

An interesting observation is the different ‘accents’ produced. There are two (seize the gear/see the weed) which sound like a ‘hayseed’ is speaking (listen to ‘gear’ and ‘weed’ in particular) like someone from the 1960s TV series Petticoat Junction! There is only one that sounds like Rumsfeld’s voice (Their (h)ome/The Rome attack August 6), but perhaps the one word statement is too; as it is only one word it is hard to tell. There is a third, very different, and quite odd ‘voice’ producing the final reversal statement.

5) This reversal was found in speech from December 2001.

Reverse: His sex is ’91. 

Forward: … let [you know we don’t discuss] future operations but I think the more point is I think we are all very much focused on the work that needs to be done.

Ninety-one [you know we don’t] – ‘one’ comes behind ‘y know’. ‘Ninety’ comes behind [we don]’t. The [d] in the FS creates an [n] + alveolar flap (the tongue hits the alveolar ridge like [t] in ‘water’ how many Americans and Australians pronounce the sound). The vowel then rounds to the [w]. This is linguistically valid, and is normal process in FS.

His sex [discuss fut]ure –‘sex’ comes behind di[scus]s; An impression of ‘is’ is created from the frication formed at [t] in ‘don’t’ and the vowel in the transition to [d] in discuss. One can still perceive the [d] in closer listening, however, it appears not to get in the way of the message. ‘His’ comes behind [fut]ure. The fricative [f] leading t the (s) in the ‘discuss’ creates the perception of [s]. However, there is a stop consonant at the beginning; removing it would create ‘is’ without the ‘h’. Although it is a post-alveolar [ch] in the FS, one can get the impression of a [k] as in ‘kiss’. However, I will make an assumption of ‘his’ here.

This actually quite a good reversal, apart from the uncertainty over ‘his’.

One may get the impression that Rumsfeld is referring to the President or some other highly influential person in decision-making, or actually, Rumsfeld’s subconscious referring to Rumsfeld himself. One may get the impression of a word half a second before this reversal (listen behind the FS) of ‘sheriff’, a figure that carries out the law to keep the peace. Also, immediately following the reversal there is an impression of ‘he’s heading for ….’ Before the audio ends.

What happened in 1991? The Bush (Snr) removal of Saddam from Kuwait. So, what gets him ‘off’, what gets him excited is the success of ’91 (whether it is Rumsfeld’s belief about Bush (Jnr?) or Rumsfeld himself).

6) This reversal came from October 2001 and referred to General Richard Myer, who at the time was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) and served as the principal military advisor to the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security Council during the earliest stages of the War on Terror, including planning of the War in Afghanistan. In the FS, Rumsfeld is clearing up confusion about where an attack was coming from.

Reverse: Myer in muff 
Forward: … you saw on television, undoubtedly, was AAA coming up [from the ground] not something going down from the air.

Myer g[rou]nd – Interestingly, a clearly perceivable [m] occurs after articulation (in reverse) of [n] in ‘ground’ (If you listen behind the forward speech you will hear before ‘Myer’, there is actually ‘and’, and it is this [n] that comes from [nd] in the FS; however I have chosen to leave it off). There is a diphthong movement of the vowel in ‘ground’, and [y] occurs when the tongue moves to a high frontal position.
in muff [from the] – Also interesting, is the almost disappearing [g] in ground, allowing a clear perception of ‘in’; muff occurs very clearly behind ‘from’.

Well, a ‘muff’ is a clumsy or bungled action. What an interesting reversal. We have the name of one of the key people (who, as well as advising the government, addressed the public on operational matters), the importance of the particular time (October 2001), and the particular topic of the FS by Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld’s attitude towards Myer at the time?

7) This reversal uses a metaphor discovered by David Oates, which he connects to the ’91 Desert Storm conflict. He believes the word represents warfare and conflict, and came from the Arabic word ‘simoon’. It is October 2001, and the US had entered a new conflict in Central Asia/West Asia as is the location of Afghanistan.

Reverse: Either – ‘Feel Simone visit in me/the Asia’ or ‘Feel Simone – this it in me/the Asia’ 
Forward: obviously as a [regime that is enormously h]armful to the Afghan people

Feel Simone – e[normously] harmful – evident fricative gives suitable impression of [f] in reverse.
Visit in me/this it in me – reg[ime that is en] – one may get an impression of [v], however the sound is more evidently [th], where [e] transitions to the beginning of [n] in the FS. [n] in ‘in’ perceivable in [th] in ‘the’ in the FS.
Asia [regi]me – [r] as a final, but otherwise quite sound.

There is obvious ambiguity with the middle words in the reversal. Based on the closest phonemes, it would be ‘this it in me’ (me as a slang of my). However, we know that not all sounds come out exactly as they are meant to, and even in forward speech, sounds are perceivable that are not part of the actual word spoken. Therefore, the word ‘visit’ and ‘the’ will be suggested as alternatives.

Nevertheless, either alternative, this metaphor that represents warfare and conflict had certainly arrived in Asia.

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