Rumsfeld admits ‘possible’ Iraq troop mistakes

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, February 8, 2011 8:22 EDT
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WASHINGTON – Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld releases his new memoir Tuesday, as he concedes his Iraq troop decisions may have been wrong while sparing no criticism of former colleagues.

In “Known and Unknown,” Rumsfeld defends his handling of the war and recounts his government career serving Republican presidents from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush.

The former defense secretary was reluctant to endorse Bush’s assessment that the decision to draw down US troops shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq was “the most important failure in the execution of the war.”

“I don’t have enough confidence to say that that’s right. I think that it’s possible,” Rumsfeld told ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer.

“We had (an) enormous number of troops ready to go in. They had — we had off-ramps, if they weren’t needed.

“It’s hard to know. You know, the path you didn’t take is always smoother,” he added.

The former Pentagon chief’s comments came in his first television interview since leaving public life in December 2006 after a long and divisive tenure at the Pentagon.

They largely echoed his memoir, in which he laid blame for much of the failings and heavy bloodshed of the Iraq war on “too many hands on the steering wheel.”

Rumsfeld, who served as Bush’s defense chief for six years after holding the the same job under president Gerald Ford in the 1970s, acknowledged that “in a war, many things cost lives.”

But he had no regrets about his leadership of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — the latter now nearing its 10th anniversary.

He refused to echo the regrets of another domineering defense secretary — the late Robert McNamara — who came to describe the Vietnam War as “terribly wrong.”

“That’s not the case with Iraq,” Rumsfeld countered.

“I think the world’s a better place with Saddam Hussein gone and with the Taliban gone and the Al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan,” he added, insisting the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States was “incremental,” not rushed.

Rumsfeld said it was Paul Wolfowitz, then a deputy secretary of defense and later a major architect of the Iraq war, who raised Iraq at the Camp David presidential retreat shortly after 9/11.

Just as in his book, the former defense chief also ripped into some of George W. Bush’s closest advisers, saying Condoleezza Rice lacked experience and Colin Powell showed poor management skills.

Asked whether he admired his ex-boss’s father president George H.W. Bush — under whom he did not serve — Rumsfeld replied curtly: “No, I was kind of disappointed in him.”

Rice, Bush’s national security adviser who later became secretary of state, had “never served in a senior administration position,” a lack of experience that hampered her ability to organize critical meetings, Rumsfeld said.

He said Powell — Bush’s first top diplomat — “did not, in my view, do a good job of managing the people under him,” calling leaks out of the State Department “unhelpful.”

Rumsfeld said Powell, along with other top Bush advisers and officials, truly believed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction when he made a presentation to the UN Security Council in February 2003 — and never spoke up during meetings with the president to raise objections about the war.

“There’s a lot of stuff (in) the press that says Colin Powell was against it. But I never saw even the slightest hint of that,” he said.

On the weapons of mass destruction that never surfaced despite being cited by the Bush administration as the primary justification for the war, Rumsfeld acknowledged: “My goodness, the intelligence was certainly wrong.”

But he categorically refused to to say whether he would have acted differently had he known then what he knows now about Saddam’s alleged weapons.

“I have no idea. I have no idea,” he said. “What you know today can help you on things you’re thinking about tomorrow. It can’t help you with things you were thinking about back then. Back then, there was reasonable confidence that he had these weapons.”

In conjunction with bookstores selling his memoir this week, Rumsfeld is also releasing online a wide range of nearly 2,000 documents from his tenure in public service, dating back to his years as a congressman in the 1960s. They will be available on www.rumsfeld.com.

Agence France-Presse
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  • Anonymous

    And how do you spell t-o-t-a-l-l-y d-e-l-u-s-i-o-n-a-l?? The world would be a better place, Donnie, if you, Georgie, Dickie, and the rest of your cabal were brought to justice at The Hague. Collectively you have brought the world such horrors of which Saddam could only dream.

  • Pollgera

    Remember, if you deny something strong enough and long enough – people will believe you. Even as they watch the blood dripping off your hands….

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QMHLPCDSPGF7FIPM6ISG6O5EEA Hugh Massengill

    Until this blood-encrusted war criminal stands trial alongside George W. Bush and others in that horrible administration, the United States will be labeled an outlaw country, like others who invade countries, murder their citizens, and steal their natural resources. It is the wildest hypocrisy to call Saddam a war criminal for his invasion and torture, and ignore the United States’ own behavior. We could cut down world-wide defense budgets by half, and deliver real help to the poor, if we only had a respect for law and order.

  • Anonymous

    He takes to the public arena and once again proves what a total fucking asshole his is.

  • Anonymous

    Rummy: “Look, you go lie with the brains you have, not with the brain you are short of.”

  • Anonymous

    There is one thing we know that you know that others also know that was not unknown that you are an evil complicit war criminal murdering asshole with blood on your hands.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/RepublicConstitution?feature=mhum TruthRegimes

    “Rumsfeld Criticizes Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, George H.W. Bush”

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/RepublicConstitution?feature=mhum TruthRegimes


  • Guest

    The poor, poor United States. How the mighty have fallen, to be ruled over by such as these. It seems the most psychopathic and venal of people have risen to positions of power here; not only in government, but in the corporate, communications, and religious spheres as well. All have converged in high places to create a perfect storm of despotism, predatory capitalism and environmental degradation. To whom much is given, much is required, and the U.S. has been weighed in the balance and is found wanting. It will be overturned, overturned, overturned and cease to be.
    Hey! American Idol is on! Pass the Cheetos.

  • Ignatzfattis

    Possible for now -he’ll say Yes when he can figure out how to blame someone else for it.

  • gypski®

    Donald Rumsfeld, common criminal with political immunity. Ain’t the land of the free grand. We arrest people for smoking pot and ruin their lives with hardly a blink of the eye or remorse. Gotta love that illogical logic.

  • tehamawhiteneck

    At least he is man enough to admit that everyone else was wrong..Typical neocon.

  • Taleisin

    The problem is; there are things that he knows that we know, and there are things that he knows that we don’t know, and then there are things he thinks we don’t know that we do know. And then there are things he doesn’t know that we don’t know that, ah fuck it………….

  • Anonymous

    Rumsfeld, always the smartest guy in the room. However, when asked about the WMD being non-existent, he acts like a dummy. They based the entire reason to invade Iraq on WMD, but when none was found, the Bush Admin just blew it off, saying “no one could have known for sure”. What!!! OK, I understand that this was a ploy to get us all pumped up and rah, rah, patriotic and stuff, but honestly, didn’t they figure they were going to get caught up in this whopper of a lie and be run out of town on a rail? Well, that never happened, either. Why has no one from the Bush Admin been prosecuted for giving false statements and starting a war without any factual basis for the operation? Why? One must follow the money. The huge, trillion-dollar+ debacle called Iraqi Enduring Freedom, has enriched certain powerful and uber-wealthy business interests. No one seems to have the guts to bring these people before a court. But, one must remember that the Supreme Court is stacked in favor of large corporate interests, not the people of this nation. We are serfs, peons, slaves to these powerful corporate entities. That is why no one has been brought to justice.

  • Anonymous

    Hang him….

  • dk504

    >>>He refused to echo the regrets of another domineering defense secretary — the late Robert McNamara — who came to describe the Vietnam War as “terribly wrong.”
    “That’s not the case with Iraq,” Rumsfeld countered.<<<<<

    Rummy is insane and should hang as a traitor. He was part of the cabal that lied us into an illegal war. Ex-President included, traitors all, but they walk the streets free and rich as they
    renditioned 14 year old boys to Egypt.

    Rummy, STFU and stay in your slime pit. Don't ever come out and talk again. You're not a patriot, you're a traitor and deranged. Don't raise your monstrous head again.

  • dk504

    Poor Rummy, it’s everyone else’s fault except his. He’s always right and always did the right thing for America. POS.

  • Anonymous

    A guy pulls one of the all-time boners and he whines about troop decisions?

    This is a time for the metaphor about arraigning the deck chairs on the Titanic. It should be noted that the head of the steamship company was very upset that the deck chairs were painted the wrong shade of Robin’s Egg Blue.

  • Anonymous

    Give that old fool an M16 and send him to the front line.

  • Anonymous

    Why is ANYONE even paying attention to the excrement that dribbles out of his mouth. if it can’t be used to indict, try, and hang him?