Rumsfeld: Hillary Clinton 'Sideshow' in Benghazi Flap

Image: Rumsfeld: Hillary Clinton 'Sideshow' in Benghazi Flap

Tuesday, 14 May 2013 12:43 PM

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Claims that Republicans are making too much of the Benghazi affair in an effort to discredit likely Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton are false, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday.

"No, that’s the sideshow, the Hillary Clinton piece of it," Rumsfeld told NBC's "Today" show host Matt Lauer.

Lauer had asked Rumsfeld whether Republicans were raising a ruckus over the Benghazi attack to get at Clinton, who is clear favorite among Democrats to be their 2016 candidate for the White House.

The basic principle is that "if you’re going to put people at risk, you have to try to protect them," Rumsfeld replied. "The British took their people out because they knew they were at risk, and the Americans were left in, and they weren’t provided the kind of security they needed, obviously, because they’re dead."

Latest: Is Obama in Cover-Up on Benghazi? Vote Here

The White House continues to hide information about warnings it received concerning a possible attack well before it actually occurred, Rumsfeld said.

"I think as it’s unfolding, it’s very clear that the people knew from the outset that it was not the YouTube, that it was not a demonstration" that sparked the assault, he said. "People on the ground and people in Washington have now testified to that."

Rumsfeld is making the media rounds to promote his new book, "Rumsfeld’s Rules."

In an interview with Politico, he said the United States is losing the important "competition of ideas" against Islamic fanaticism. And he places the blame for that on both the Obama administration and the Bush administration.

As for the war on terror, "we don’t have metrics to know whether we’re winning or losing," Rumsfeld said.

"Are more people being dissuaded from becoming terrorists? Are more people being captured or killed who are terrorists than the number of people being brought into these madrassas and being trained and recruited to go out and kill additional people? I don’t know. We don’t know. The world doesn’t know."

It goes back to the competition of ideas, Rumsfeld says. "Part of the reason we don’t know [if America is winning] is because this administration — and I must say the prior administration didn’t do well at it, either — has been slow engaging in the competition of ideas," he said.

"This is much more like the Cold War: it’s going to last decades."

Technology has altered the equation, Rumsfeld says. "If someone can go on the Internet and teach people to become radicalized, which happens, we don’t have to fight an army or a navy or an air force," he said.

"I don’t think either administration has done very well in terms of recognizing that this isn’t going to be won with bullets. This is going to be won much more like the Cold War."

Rumsfeld faults Obama for his weak rhetoric. "For whatever reason, this administration is almost totally unwilling to even use the word ‘Islamist,’" Rumsfeld said.

“It’s unwilling to describe who the enemy is. And the enemy is there. . . . It is a minority, a small group of radical Islamists who are determined to end the concept of a nation-state, who are training people not to go get jobs, but training people to go out and kill innocent men and women and children.”

Rumsfeld outlines the tactical tasks in the competition of ideas. "Until you’re willing to describe that enemy and engage in a competition [of ideas] and try to reduce the funding that goes into the madrassas, the radical imams that are training people to kill people, until you are willing to do that, I don’t think you have much sense of possibility of prevailing over them in the long term."

Latest: Is Obama in Cover-Up on Benghazi? Vote Here

Rumsfeld said he's impressed with how Congress is approaching the Benghazi scandal, singling out House Oversight Committee chairman Darrel Issa, R-Cal., and Rep. Jason Chaffetz , R-Utah, for special praise.

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