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. james in denver

    Absolutely disgusting, very disturbing. Bush, Rumsfeld and Je$u$, what a team! Glad to see the world's "most advanced" military still depends on good old iron-age philosophy! Religion will ruin everything for everyone, just give it some time. Modern technology combined with religion might be the most dangerous weapon to mankind, just look what it got us on 9/11. Time to wake up, put down old books/myths, and start believing in human potential.

    May 19, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  2. GOP = 21st century dodo

    We need a Truth and Reconciliation Committee that will investigate EVERYTHING. There are way too many issues where the separate parties involved are making mutually irreconcilable claims.

    May 19, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  3. NVa Native

    And why should anyone believe Rumsfield or anyone from his office?

    May 19, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  4. R AZ

    We do not even know how many things will come out eventually about the past administration.

    May 19, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  5. LouAz

    Reminds me of an old Tonka Toy ad. Father asks his 4 year old how the little toy truck got broken, and the little boy says that an elephant stepped on it. Rummy was never much for the USN. They have a long standing tradition that the Captain is responsible for EVERYTHING that happens to his ship, whether he is on watch or asleep. Rummy's replacement does not seem to have any problem with or avoidance of responsibility.

    May 19, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  6. Bethie

    What a bunch of fruitcakes!! Make ya shudder that these twits were once our devoted leaders??!! Ughhhhhhhhh!

    May 19, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  7. Peter Bursell

    I don't understand... the title of each document is "Secretary of Defense Worldwide Intelligence Report" and Rumsfeld "saw the reports only occasionally"? And... "they were never shown to Bush"? Then, who was the intended audience for these cover sheets? Who DID see them? What gives? We need some better reporting here, not just a press release from Rummy. I'm sorry this story didn't get more attention. I see these images and Bible verses as confirmation that the most powerful pro-war voices were waging a Christian holy war, or at least selling it as such within the power circle. Despicable.

    May 19, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  8. Alex in Wisconsin

    I have to believe Rummy on this one. after all, he would never do something so stupid and insensitive, that would be like not sending enough troops into war, starting a second war before the first one was finished, and sending troops out with insufficient armor. Rummy would never be that idiotic when it came to his job.

    May 19, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "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"

    LOL and he wins the prize for loaded statement of the day

    May 19, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  10. Dan

    That's ridiculous. It's really sad that CNN would consider this news with an annonomous source and and a random guy who was in the White House saying "if" this happened. Are you kidding me? Yes, all of us would expect GQ, a publication for entertainment to write about this. CNN is suppose to be a serious news source.

    May 19, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  11. Dan

    That's ridiculous. It's really sad that CNN would consider this news with an anonymous source and and a random guy who was in the White House saying "if" this happened. Are you kidding me? Yes, all of us would expect GQ, a publication for entertainment to write about this. CNN is suppose to be a serious news source.

    May 19, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  12. What apology?

    And we are upset that arabs, or Al Quaida use religion as a justification for war? Oh right, they aren't Christian, therefore they're evil. Christianity was NEVER used for war...

    May 19, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  13. joe smith

    question; then how did these classified documents, cover and all come into existence? who produced them, who authorized their printing, and what agency of our government printed them? this guy,urbahn, well, he can't be believed, no, this material, as well as the whole iraq mess, must be laid at the feet of rumsfeld, and his supporting cast,..the obama people, because of their voting record on this war, will not, and can not do a thing..

    May 19, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  14. Marge

    How anybody can accuse bush of being a religious person after all he has done to the people of this country is beyond me.

    May 19, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  15. lawyermommy

    Rumsfeld is still talking about the CHAOS he and Cheney engineered????? I though he had gone into the Benedictan monastery to plead absolution for the thousands and even millions of lost lost because of this senseless war!

    May 19, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  16. JOE

    PLEASE....The world has heard all it ever wants to hear about this RIGHT WING NUT...He and his butt buddy BUSH have murdered thousands in the world, including 4500 of our own people. He belongs in a federal prison..

    May 19, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  17. JOE

    INTERPOL has an arrest warrant out for him right now. If he ever sets foot in europe..His crime...WAR CRIMINAL..Just like the NAZI's..

    May 19, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  18. hongli

    George Bush should be ashamed to call himself a christian. He is a WAR-CRIMINAL.

    May 19, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  19. gl, Pittsburgh

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

    Please do any of the Bush Administration ever tell the truth. Please we all no Bush seem them and approved them. They are can lye all day long becasue they are nolonger in office.

    May 19, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  20. Expat American

    Bush's crusade of Christianity as a means to justify an invasion is the most tell tale sign of the failure of his Republican Administration. Bush is responsible for hundreds of thousands of innocent lives lost. He will never pay, but thankfully, history will never let the Republicans be forgotten for this.

    May 19, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  21. Lowell

    Here comes the backpedalling.

    May 19, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  22. Rickymo

    Losers...

    May 19, 2009 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  23. mypitts2

    I don't believe the Rummy spokesman. I believe David Kuo. That sounds more accurate.

    There is no doubt that these reports would have been counterproductive to the war effort, but then many things Rummy did fit that bill. That would not preclude him from doing this, as his aide seems to suggest.

    May 19, 2009 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  24. David in West Virginia

    What should concern Americans is the fact that these slides were made in the first place and never repudiated by the Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld or Pres. George Bush. They should have come out against these slides. Yes, the Repubican Party and the Bush Administration used Christianity and the Far Right Fundamentalist to engage is exactly what is alleged. After all, President Bush called the war a crusade and led some people into believing he was called by God to engage in the War at whatever means he had available to him and we, as Americans, carry the burden of his actions, including his lies, deceit, and torture interrogation tactics. Shame of you, Rummy!

    May 19, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  25. bob

    whatever..who can believe whatever any of them say..........tell us another one Rummy!..I'm on your every word!

    May 19, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
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