Rumsfeld’s top regret: not quitting after Abu Ghraib

By admin
Tuesday, February 8, 2011 12:49 EDT
google plus icon
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

WASHINGTON – Former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld admitted in an interview that the country “would’ve been better off” if he had quit after the 2004 Abu Ghraib scandal and spared no criticism of his colleagues in his new memoir published Tuesday.

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.

However the former Pentagon chief also admitted his biggest error during his tenure under Bush was his failure to convince the president to accept his resignation in the wake of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

“That was such a stain on our country. To think that people in our custody were treated in that disgusting and perverted and ghastly way — unacceptable way,” Rumsfeld told ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer.

And so I stepped up and told the president I thought I should resign. And I think probably he and the military and the Pentagon and the country would’ve been better off if I had,” he said.

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

In his memoir, Rumsfeld meanwhile wrote how he was “surprised and troubled” that US interrogators went further than the controversial methods of detainees at Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq that had been otherwise approved.

In earlier parts of the ABC interview released Monday, Rumsfeld 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.”

Telling Sawyer that assessment was “possible,” Rumsfeld also cautioned that “the path you didn’t take is always smoother.”

The admissions 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 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.

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.

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 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.

By commenting, you agree to our terms of service
and to abide by our commenting policy.
  • Anonymous

    OUR top regret: That this moron ever got the job in the first place.

  • Phil E. Drifter

    Bullshit. He has no regrets, everything worked according to plan.

    Nov. 1st, Dubya: “Rumsfeld is not retiring.”
    Election night: Rumsfeld: “see ya.”

  • Taleisin

    My regret is him not quitting politics after Gerald Ford.

  • ThorsteinVeblen2012

    This man is so detached from any sense of decency as to live in a home named “Mount Misery” notorious as a place where slaves were taken to be broken including Frederick Douglass. Who would choose to live in such a diabolical place? Most people would rather live under a bridge. Not an evil madman.Every word he speaks is a lie. Yet the powers that ran this country gave him the exalted position that allowed him to cast his madness over the world.He should be in jail. He should be treated like the tortured ghosts that inhabit his home. He should be cursed in every public forum he is seen.But not in this country. Not by this President.

  • Anonymous

    Rummy Top Regret:

    Pulling Building 7 at 5:20 pm, he should have waited a couple hours more in the Darkness, so nobody could film it.

  • Anonymous

    **Ah, Don. Is that your only regret? That you didn’t resign after Abu Ghraib. My only regret is that Yahweh didn’t strike you dumb. I can never scrub the visual of you ruining that kid who busted your little party up, thanking him by name when you knew what would happen. You’re a real bastard, Mr. Rumsfeld.

  • Winski

    I’m always confused when one of these clowns shows up from somewhere other than in his jail cell at the HAGUE??? He and Beeek would make good room-mates at a local psycho ward as well..

  • hegesias

    America’s top regret: not electing a president who would try Rummy, Cheney, Bush, Rice, Powell, Bremer, Wolfowitz for war crimes.

  • dlindem

    Amen. Obama has turned out to be a disappointment in so many ways.

  • dlindem

    No regrets about the thousands of people who died because of you? You’ve got a spot waiting for you in hell rummy.

  • NadePaulKuciGravMcKi

    “Medal of Freedom”

    Blair Bremer Bush Cheney Greenspan Kissinger Merkel Podhoretz Rockefeller Rummy Tenet Uribe

  • hegesias

    No doubt about it. Once elected, he totally gives us the finger because he thinks we have to vote “against republicans” in 2012 anyhow. WRONG. Bernie Sanders 2012, whether he runs or not.

  • gypski®

    Never regret the big lie right Donnie? If there is a hell, they have a special spit just for grilling you, and it will make Abu Ghrab look like a Boy Scout Jamboree.

  • TheDevilCanDance

    There are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some among us who should have been hanged.

  • http://harry-canary.myopenid.com/ Harry Canary

    He did strike him dumb, just in the wrong way.

  • Hassan i Sabbah

    Was this before or after he helped pull off 9/11? I mean, really fellahs, the editors at this site really don’t seem to get it.

  • Hassan i Sabbah

    I’m sure they ran this past the requisite focus group to make sure it would help book sales. And the odds that he actually wrote the book are not much better than that the Dodo in Chief wrote his.

  • Anonymous

    Ronald Dumsfeld. Demented War Criminal attempting to escape Judgement day.

  • Anonymous

    Too big to be jailed?

  • Phil E. Drifter

    Raw Story’s job is to report the news. Right under the title is marked

    By Agence France-Presse
    Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 -- 12:49 pm

    So if you have a problem with this story, you take it up with them, not Raw.

    I love the new commenting system, it’s too bad this site is flooded with absolute fucking morons like yourself now.

    It’s not even worth discussing things here any more because of retards who make obvious, oblivious spelling and grammatical errors and they get dozens of thumbs up.

    Reread your post after you make it, people. For christ sake, Firefox underlines words it thinks are misspelled.

  • Phil E. Drifter

    Rumsfeld was appointed.

    Lets not forget: http://www.wilsonsalmanac.com/images1/rumsfeld_&_hussein1.jpg