May 19th, 2009
07:44 PM ET
6 years ago

Rumsfeld aide blasts report on religious Iraq slides

A Rumsfeld aide denies reports the former Defense Secretary used Christian-themed covers on Iraq reports.
A Rumsfeld aide denies reports the former Defense Secretary used Christian-themed covers on Iraq reports.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would not have approved Christian-themed covers to intelligence reports on the invasion of Iraq, calling them "counterproductive to the war effort," a spokesman said Tuesday.

The covers, some of which were published in the latest issue of GQ magazine, juxtaposed images from the 2003 invasion with verses from the Bible.

According to the magazine, Rumsfeld used the covers to curry favor with then-President George Bush, a devout evangelical.

In a written statement Tuesday, Rumsfeld spokesman Keith Urbahn said the secretary saw the reports only occasionally, and they were never shown to Bush.

"Rumsfeld was fully aware that words and actions could be harmful and counterproductive to the war effort. It's safe to say that some of these cover slides could be considered in that category," Urbahn said. "The suggestion that Rumsfeld would have composed of, approved of, or personally shown the slides to President Bush is flat wrong. It did not happen."

The story of the slides was only part of a larger, highly critical article about Rumsfeld, who was fired in 2006 after the unpopular war in Iraq helped contribute to that year's Republican electoral losses. An official quoted anonymously in the GQ article said the slides - which had been prepared by a two-star general on the Pentagon's intelligence staff - could have done damage "as bad as Abu Ghraib" if they had become public during the invasion of an Islamic nation.

Among the covers published by GQ was one showing a U.S. tank silhouetted by a desert sunrise below a quote from the New Testament book of Ephesians: "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."

Another featured a quote from the first book of Peter atop a photo of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. It read, "It is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men."

The article's author, Robert Draper, penned a 2007 book on the Bush presidency. Urbahn said Draper was "being taken by people with an axe to grind." But the story had the ring of truth to David Kuo, who led the White House "faith-based" program office during the Bush administration.

"The guy knows how to market things, and clearly he knew how to market things to his boss, to his audience of one - the president of the United States. And that was to use these biblical quotes," Kuo told CNN.

Kuo said Iraq was "always a war in search of justification." But he called the slides "frankly appalling to me, as a follower of Jesus."

"I never saw these memos. But I've got to tell you, if their use of biblical language and spiritual ignorance is anything as bad as their military ignorance, it is clear why the Iraq war is a debacle," he said.


Filed under: Donald Rumsfeld • George W. Bush
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. lived9lives

    So the Secretary of Defense saw them "only occasionally". Gee, I only had to see them ONCE to realize they were counter-productive. He did not personally show them to the President? Then WHO did?
    And that anonymous 2 star general is close to a coward. Speak up. Tell America how many troops were exposed to this religious indoctrination? You know – the public.

    May 19, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  2. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Just another reason why Bush and his administration were bad for the country. When Bush didn't understand the question of a Iraq being a war of necessity or a war of choice, that should have been a huge clue to everyone that he needed a different and more up to date brain (more than Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove and others).

    May 19, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  3. Susan

    So whose reports are these?And the Sec. of Defense never saw reports about the war? Sounds a little fishy to me.

    May 19, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  4. teacheng

    I'm sure this 'aide' is totally reliable.

    Rumsfeld and his ilk have crippled our military and American jurisprudence for decades to come.

    May 19, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  5. Jake

    this is BEYOND disturbing

    May 19, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  6. GOPer

    The 8 years of lies in the Bush administration killed our party and left thousands dead on both side, all for no reason at all!

    May 19, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  7. Martin

    There is much that disturbs the mind with just a cursory examination of the internal workings of the eight years of the Bush administration; but I find these "slides" created by Rumsfeld particularly striking and disturbing.

    Beyond just the content of these "slides", the general lack of aesthetic and the screaming text and collage-like handling of information/image remind me of the work of outsider artists, or the work of the mentally ill.

    Believe me, if I were naive enough to believe in the Biblical quotes used in these intelligence briefings I would steadfastly call to my higher power to explain to me how such insane ignorance could invade the highest office of the land.

    May 19, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  8. jayjayaye Utah

    Let Rumsfeld state this under oath before Congress or in a court, and I'll believe it. Until this happens, why should anyone believe anything about this disgusting fiasco other than that it took place?

    May 19, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  9. Imarriedmycousin in TheOleSouth

    Sounds like they were doing an American jihad.Great photo of dumb and dumber.

    May 19, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  10. Miguel

    not good

    May 19, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  11. Chris

    "counterproductive to the war effort"? how about just plain wrong? to go to war in iraq for christianity is just plain WRONG. notice how rumsfield's camp isn't saying that.

    May 19, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  12. Eileen

    I'm not buying their retort.

    Rumsfeld is a human sos.

    May 19, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  13. Doug504

    Rumsfeld's spokesperson says the Sec. of Defense saw these intelligence reports "only occasionally".

    Does he really think not reading intelligence reports is a better defense?

    May 20, 2009 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  14. Brad

    "The suggestion that Rumsfeld would have composed of, approved of, or personally shown the slides to President Bush is flat wrong. It did not happen."

    Yet the war still happened... amazing.

    May 20, 2009 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  15. Bill

    These 2 Crooks – Should be in Jail. :|

    May 20, 2009 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  16. JCrunch

    Just say no to hate and ignorance. Say no to religion.

    May 20, 2009 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
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