Rumsfeld says blame to go around on Iraq
February 3rd, 2011
09:14 AM ET
3 years ago

Rumsfeld says blame to go around on Iraq

(CNN) – In his upcoming memoir, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld describes a Bush administration marred by chaos and disorder during the months leading up to the Iraq War – the prime reason, he says, why the postwar transition was so poorly planned.

"There were far too many hands on the steering wheel, which, in my view, was a formula for running the truck into a ditch," writes Rumsfeld in Known and Unknown, which is set to hit bookstores next week. Advanced excerpts were first obtained by the New York Times and Washington Post.

Rumsfeld writes a key point of disagreement revolved around how quickly to hand power to a new Iraqi government. The Pentagon, he writes, favored a quick transition to power while the more-wary State Department said a slower process would better ensure new and legitimate leaders emerged in the fragile country.

Ultimately, Rumsfeld blames former President Bush for not clearly resolving the disagreement and clearly charting a post-war plan before hostilities commenced, instead deferring to his point man on Iraq reconstruction, L. Paul Bremer.

Bush "did not always receive, and may not have insisted on, a timely consideration of his options before he made a decision, nor did he always receive effective implementation of the decisions he made,” writes Rumsfeld.

Bremer, suggests Rumsfeld, pursued a muddled reconstruction plan that more closely resembled that which was advocated by the State Department. At the same time, Rumsfeld gripes Bremer did not keep the Pentagon informed of his decision making.

"Those key differences were never clearly or firmly resolved in the NSC," Rumsfeld writes. "Only the President could do so."

Rumsfeld also directs blame toward himself, according to the released excerpts, writing that he wished he had resigned in 2004 when the Abu Ghraib prison photos suggested Americans were torturing detainees. Bush, writes Rumsfeld, rejected two separate resignation letters dated five days apart in the after math of the scandal.

"Looking back, I see there are things the administration could have done differently and better with respect to wartime detention," says Rumsfeld.

A spokesman for President Bush had no comment. CNN has also reached out to Bremer and is awaiting a response.


Filed under: Donald Rumsfeld
soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. maggie

    Great. Dueling memoirs all meant to keep legacies clean. they were both wrong. We never should have gone to war.

    February 3, 2011 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  2. Arun

    The most the important thing the Bush administration could have done was: NOT GO TO WAR!! Just a bunch of lies and they knew it!!

    February 3, 2011 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  3. c

    Another Rummyfeld pack of lies and distortions - or is this the truth brought out to compete with Boss Bush's book of several weeks old?

    Rummyfeld was, like all others in the Bush camp, a very arrogant and hostile individual. He comes across as having wanted war more than most in the Bush circus and many joined him because he appeared to be second in command behind Cheney who is without question one of the most evil men to have ever lived.

    Sure, Rummyfeld wants to deflect some of the blame from himself for Iraq. Anyone would!! But the fact is he will leave a legacy of hatred, arrogance, war and bloodshed when he could have operated in a far different theater. His arrogance was seen every time he stood before reporters and it continued until the day he departed. Offering resignations to Bush was worthless and senseless - Bush was not going to accept resignations and Rummyfeld knew so. To accept his resignation any earlier than he did would have been tantamount to admitting failure, crimes, and lots of other things.

    There! That's a generalized synopsis of Rummyfeld's life and "service" to Bush (not country). Save your money!!

    February 3, 2011 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  4. Tyler

    It seems Rummy isn't totally a heartless jerk, whaddya know!

    February 3, 2011 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  5. Chipster

    Ultimately, the blame rests historically with Bush because he was the President who exploited the fear and anger of the American people, shamefully using the blood of the 9/11 victims, to pursue his personal vendetta. Inexcusable is the fact that resources were diverted from pursuing the criminals who attacked us on 9/11. But in truth, WE are the ones to blame. WE allowed, many even encouraged it, wanting revenge rather than justice – wanting to feel powerful by showing that we can destroy a 3rd world country. WE allowed it. WE are to blame.

    February 3, 2011 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  6. NVa Native

    When Rummie spoke in riddles about what was "known & un-known" – he knew the truth and yet he pushed for war based on the lies he helped develope. He sent our brave troops to war in a hurry (without having the equipment that was available that would save our hero's lives) before the press and others could see the lies and deception – he helped create and deliver to the American people – and stop their evil deeds.
    Rummie (and the rest of Bush/Cheneey regime) is a war criminal who deserves to be on trial for his/their crimes.

    February 3, 2011 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  7. DAW, NC

    They continue to blame others and attempt to rewrite history to fit their individual needs. How typical of the neoconservatives.

    February 3, 2011 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  8. Squigman

    It's a sight to behold when the rats start turing on each other, and canibalism becomes the norm. Bush, Chaney, Rove and Rumsfeld all need to be arrested, tried, and if found guilty (or incompetant), then jailed. Society deserves better. The true blame rests with the mis-informed masses that allowed them to be elected in the first place.

    February 3, 2011 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  9. Chris

    ISeveral days before Bush's famous speech depicting the imminent threat posed by IraqThe really disturbing issue is that Bush had intellenge reports that Iraq DID NOT pose an imminent threat

    February 3, 2011 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  10. Storm

    On being a Republican 101: NEVER take responsibility for anything.

    February 3, 2011 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  11. Elaine

    One Moron commenting on another...yea!

    February 3, 2011 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  12. Randy, San Francisco

    Rumsfeld is stil in denial. He should have to declare his innocence before the World Court for crimes against humanity.

    February 3, 2011 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  13. A. Goodwin

    Yes, I agree – another BIG mistake was not accepting Rumsfeld's resignation. Love how he points the finger at everyone else, but its seems to me the job of the Secretary of DEFENSE – the principal military and defense policy advisor to the president and responsible for formulating a general defense policy in regards to all matters of concern for the US department of Defense as well as overseeing the execution of that policy – the decisions made at the time fall squarely right back on Rumsfeld. Love it – more of the Bush administration pointing fingers at others except for themselves.

    February 3, 2011 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  14. Canuck

    Hilarious.. even Rumsfeld blames Bush...I guess you go to war with the president you have, not the president you might want or wish to have at a later time.

    February 3, 2011 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  15. El Kababa

    The members of the Bush Administration all know that they will go down in history as bumbling fools who did nothing right. Now they are squabbling over the amount of blame each of them had in the disaster.

    February 3, 2011 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  16. AEK

    Chaos? How to lie effectively to the American people and start an illegal war against a sovereign nation, regardless of how evil the leadership of that country is. How to make sure the best deals are in place for Haliburton. Then, CYA and hope you're not sent to the Hague and tried for war crimes. I can see why the Bush administration was in chaos. Next, attempt to rewrite history to make yourselves look like heros. And that, my friends, is the Republican Party in a nut shell.

    February 3, 2011 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  17. Madison

    If I understood Mr. Rumsfeld's point about the reconstruction effort (details found in my newspaper, not in this article), he blames the State Department for slowing down the turnover of Iraq to its people.

    Yet, General Garner (initial head of the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA)) reported to the Defense Department. He did indeed propose a quick turnover but was removed shortly after the coalition takeover (for unclear reasons). Paul Bremer (head of the newly-named Coalition Provisional authority (CPA)) also reported directly to the Defense Department. He focused on de-Baathification and a longer-term transition, both of which led to the disaffection of many in the Iraqi army and previous political structure. Those people joined the insurrection.

    If those American leaders reported to the Defense Department, how can Mr. Rumsfeld complain about State Department concerns. He had it in his power to ignore those concerns and proceed with his own plans.

    Methinks he did just that...

    February 3, 2011 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  18. James Berkley

    The mistake was not the timing of our withrawal, but rather being there in the first place. This guys still can't see reality.

    February 3, 2011 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  19. Shane Botwin

    It's nice to know that Rummy and Dummy were in charge of sacrificing the lives of U.S. troops.

    February 3, 2011 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  20. Chris

    The real blame goes to Bush who ignored the intelligence reports (several days before his pre-war speech) that stated that Iraq was NOT an "imminent threat." Thousands of lives and trillions later, these guys are busy trying to rewrite history.

    February 3, 2011 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  21. Bob Dog

    Nothing is more entertaining than watching one, cheap, destructive republican, tell the truth about another cheap, destructive republican.

    February 3, 2011 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  22. Larry Bradenton, FL

    the pot is beginning to boil!

    February 3, 2011 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  23. T'sah from Virginia

    Blame it on BUSH
    Blame it on the MUSH
    Blame it on BREMMER
    But all of us REMEMBER!!

    Blame it on the Rum, Rum, Rum, Rum, Rum, Rumsfeld
    Blame it on the DEVIL who lives in HELL

    Blame it on Dick Cheney
    But don’t BLAME it on too many
    You can’t BLAME it on your MAMA!
    And don’t try to BLAME Obama!!

    Blame it on the Rum, Rum, Rum, Rum, Rum, Rumsfeld
    Blame it on Bush and others who took us to HELL!!!

    Here they come – one by one
    Trying to clean up what they have done
    Hoping the American people would forget
    The war they started with no regrets
    Greed and self interest was their fantasy
    And furthermore NOT having an EXIT STRATEGY!!
    Thousands of our young men/women have DIED – it’s INSANE
    Now you tell me – WHO IS TO BLAME!!!

    Let’s support our current leader, President Obama, as he continues to MOVE AMERICA FORWARD and get us out of the MESS he was brought into in order to WTF!!!!

    February 3, 2011 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  24. Lolo

    Low and behold, now they are blaming each other. No one wants to take the rap for this blunder. See this is how the republicans roll. Do all the dirty work under the table and when they get caught no one is to blame.

    February 3, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  25. elidude

    Why isn't this guy in jail for war crimes?

    February 3, 2011 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
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