Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s new memoir, “Known and Unknown,” sets the record straight on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass d
estruction and warns of impending dangers from countries such as Iran and North Korea.
During an interview with Newsmax.TV, Rumsfeld vigorously defended the George W. Bush administration’s judgment of the threat from Saddam and blasted critics who accused the president of lying about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. The interview took place shortly after he received the prestigious Defender of the Constitution award Thursday from the Conservative Political Action Conference during the annual conference in Washington, D.C.
Rumsfeld castigated the Democrats who used the taunt of “Bush lied, people died” as their mantra during the 2004 presidential campaign.
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“It was an outrageous statement,” he said. “It was so inaccurate. President Bush and Colin Powell and Condi Rice and the vice president and George Tenet and I believed fully in what we said. And to suggest that the president of the United States was lying is inexcusable.”
But “the drumbeat was too powerful” for the White House to push back successfully against its critics, he added.
Rumsfeld said he and his colleagues “were saying exactly what the people in the Congress were saying who saw exactly the same intelligence. They were saying what the intelligence community was saying. They were saying what the intelligence community in other countries such as the U.K., France, and elsewhere believed. It was unfortunate that the lies overwhelmed the truth.”
In his book, Rumsfeld wrote that the failure of the Bush White House to counter “half-truths, distortions and outright lies” in the national media allowed the president’s political enemies to write the narrative of his administration.
And yet, he had no real explanation of why the administration didn’t push back harder.
“Oh, one never knows,” he said. “First, it’s hard” to push back effectively.
Rumsfeld credited the forces of political correctness with powers that exceeded the truth of their ideas.
Whenever administration officials talked about the threat from radical Islamists, he said, “their views are seen as anti-Muslim, which is not true.”
And when the administration opposed Muslim terrorists overseas, it was accused of being “against that Muslim faith, which you are not.”
“What we’re against is people who are going around killing other people, other innocent human beings. And we ought to be willing to say that. We ought to be willing to say there are radical Islamists who are out to damage the nation state, to kill innocent human beings, and we ought not to allow them to do it,” he said.
Rumsfeld said he opted not to write a “quick” book about his tenure in the Bush administration in favor of writing a detailed historical account “aimed at serious readers and people really interested in government and public affairs.”
With a staff of six aides, Rumsfeld got the government to release reams of previously classified memos, including many of his famous “snowflakes” to aides and colleagues.
He said he wants history to judge him accurately, which is why he has posted these documents in searchable format at his website, Rumsfeld.com.
Rumsfeld said he is worried about the threat from an electromagnetic pulse attack from countries such as Iran and North Korea.
“We’ve thrown away the shoeboxes with the 3-by-5 cards,” he said, “so that cyberwarfare, and electromagnetic pulses and the things that can avoid competition with large armies and large navies and large air forces clearly have leverage, an advantage. And because of that, they’re attractive” to America’s enemies.
In his memoir, Rumsfeld says he repeatedly tried to get the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the White House to pay more attention to the threat from Iran, without success.
At one point, he forwarded to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, a news article and a National Intelligence Council paper detailing Iran’s “lethal support” for militants attacking U.S. troops in Iraq. “If we know so much about what Iran is doing in Iraq, why don't we do something about it?” he asked Pace.
“When you have a country like Iran, really a fine country with a proud history, taken over by a very small clique of people who are ideological and radical, you have to worry,” he said. “And we in this country, and other people who value freedom and free nation states, have to recognize that that combination of radical ideology and weapons of mass destruction is a danger.”
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