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. Rdepontb

    L. Paul Bremmer, a sociological menace to society, was, quite literally, handing out billions of US dollars on the ground for months and months. This naturally confused everyone-troops, troop leadership (on both sides) and set us on a road of terribly wasted opportunity, resources, and time; ultimately, of thousands upon thousands of Iraqi lives and thousands of US lives. A decade later, we are barely getting out, albeit with our heads hanging low and furtive.

    February 3, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  2. Jay

    Hey Scumfeld, did they ever find those WMD's that we spent so much money on looking for by invading a foreign country? Now you're trying to sell a book like the "Decider". I imagine he and you'll make money from all the fools that decide to read your account. How about you apologize to the parents, spouse, children, friends, and other family members of every dead soldier and donate the proceeds of your book to them?

    February 3, 2011 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  3. pp

    George Bush and his egotistical, power-hungry cabinet set the stage for the financial mess we are in today..... not to mention the awful price paid in human lives. So, now that the full effect of the Iraq/Afgahastan war damages are fully know, it is blame time by everyone involved!!! Rumsfeld has hidden out since Bush left office and now comes crawling out of his cave to throw darts. I wish Rumsfeld and Cheney would have an old fashioned "cowboy" duel and both would end up in the dust. Bubba is already fading to oblivion – but not soon enough. I'll bet if Osama Bin Laden had put a target on Georgie boy, he would have succeeded and wouldn't have put up a "Mission Accomplished" banner to proclaim his victory.

    February 3, 2011 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  4. Sniffit

    "There were far too many hands on the steering wheel, which, in my view, was a formula for running the truck into a ditch,"

    Translation: "I, like the rest of the GOP, would have preferred it is Bush had been given full on dictatorial power instead of us having to work around that pesky Constitution thingy."

    February 3, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  5. Michael in Houston

    Geez.....talk about pathological liar, out of his mind, criminal, and embarrassment all wrapped up in one old body. Get lost.

    February 3, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  6. wildman

    Wow! A member of the Bush administration almost takes responsibility for his incompetence. How can 30 or so percent of the U.S. ppopulation still not see what a disaster the last administration was.

    February 3, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  7. Mat T

    What's most annoying is that so many people can legitimately say "I told you so..." Now Rumsfield, Bush, Cheney, and all the other architects of the US invasion of Iraq are making money writing about their many mistakes as if its a surprise.

    Diplomatically and politically, the Bush administration's performance was tragically amateurish. First, unfettered inspections found no WMDs– there was no legitimate justification for our invasion. Then we angered both neutral countries and allies. We mocked good advice from France, attempted to bribe Turkey with $2 billion so we could launch attacks from that country, declared that only countries who participated in the invasion could bid on reconstruction projects, claimed its OK to torture–there were so many mistakes it boggles the mind. What's maddening is that most of the world was advising against this war from the beginning, but Bush and company ignored that advice.

    The US military did its job well, simply overwhelming the Iraq armed forces in very short order, but otherwise the Bush administration failed miserably and took the country WAY off course.

    February 3, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  8. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Thank God that Bush and his culture of corruption are gone.

    February 3, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  9. Jane

    Rumsfield failed as a military leader. He was the "expert" and should have been able to sway Bush's decision but apparently did not convey his purpose well. Rumfield is just as muchto blame as Bush and should have left the post YEARS earlier. He was a failure to the troops –as a veteran we rolled our eyes at him.

    February 3, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  10. PalmReader

    Tell me again about WMD's, Rumsfeldt . . . and how they are buried deep within the sand of Iraqi and Iranian (or is it Syrian) borders. Gas is once again hitting an all time high . . . that whole Iraqi oil thingy went almost as well as the war itself, yes Donald?

    February 3, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  11. TruthAndBeauty

    "There were far too many hands on the steering wheel, which, in my view, was a formula for running the truck into a ditch"
    You have GOT to love the corporate world blame-sharing/avoiding tactics that the Bush administrations exemplify in all their glory.
    Once you get around to admitting that there was a problem, everybody owns it and nobody owns it. That way no one will go to jail or be sued. These guys are in their own special way brilliant.

    February 3, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  12. mike

    I love how bush,cheney,and rumsfeld are playing the blame game on each other I wouldn't have these scum bags next to me in fighting the battle these cowards would all be running from one another just like they are doing now

    February 3, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  13. Olaf Big

    Shucks! Rummy did not take my advice. Did not I say "Fiction is my reality" is a more fitting title for his book?

    February 3, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. Juaquiin Mann

    Stuff happens!! A euphemism for I'm a lousy administrator and inept in my job. Rumsfield is a loser that had an exhalted view of himself as the savior of the "free word", as long as you recognize that you have to give up your freedom to allow the "exhalted ones" to do their stuff. Rumfileld was absolutely one of the worst higher cabinet officials that we have had in recent memory and hopefully history will remember him as such.

    February 3, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  15. William A. Schaedler

    Both Bush and Rumsfeld are two very stupid men. It is because of their stupid decisions and political follies that the United States is no longer perceived as a desirable nation. You need only to look at the terrible shape it is in today. Bush should never have been installed as the President of the United States by the Supreme Court. He is lacking in intelligence. And he proved to be possibly the worst holder of that office in history. And Rumsfeld was a large part of the Bush years. These two men are shameful.

    February 3, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  16. Fonsini

    I see the rabid liberals like this Mooney character are still unable to move on from their obsession with the Bush administration. Sad really, they say you get the government you deserve, but I think you get the journalists we deserve, and we obviously deserve some poor ones.

    February 3, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. SAY WHAT!!!

    a little too late...

    February 3, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  18. Jack Dallas TX

    There is a place on the bench in hell next to McNamara and Aspen just waiting for Rumsfeld.

    February 3, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  19. KnowItAll

    Go to jail, directly to jail. Do not collect blood money for rewriting history you war criminal.

    February 3, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  20. Name gary d

    I'm sure as the years go on we will see that this war had all the makings off a unjust war,people have a sense him them that says after sometime why am I going to take the blame when I was not the one making decisions. This further illustrates why Bush needed to win the presidency, it was to do exactly what he did. He will go down as the worst of all time but the issue here is that he will never realize it himself. Now he says he never wants to be involved in politics any more. Ask yourself why

    February 3, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  21. Bill

    I never thought I would defend the worst president of modern times, but Donald Rumsfeld has a lot of nerve. If he wants to pass the blame on his failures on to Bush, the biggest criticism should be that Bush was too loyal to someone who, as Defense Secretary, proved utterly incompetent in defense strategy, provided horrible morale as a leader, and was totally inconsiderate of the troops. A lot of people have said Bush's biggest downfall was that he received a lot of bad advice, which is a fair criticism, even though as President it was his responsibility to have people in the room capable of providing good advice. If you look at his Cabinet for his eight years, it was filled with people who had no business advising a President, and Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft are two perfect examples of that.

    February 3, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  22. Joel Speller

    Rumsfeld is an arrogant ass, Gen Shinseki tried to tell him what to expect and they (Rumsfeld) cut him off at the knees for stating his opinon. Others tried too, but the administration didn't listen, ten years and billions later what have we got?

    February 3, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  23. Geoz

    Join the ranks of the Bush staff who blame bush. You just don't see cabinet members doing this in other admins. Only the faithful – those who believe without reason or rationale – continue to support W.
    I don't blame people for voting for him the first time. He talked a good game (even though I didn't vote for him). But the second time is blind faith. Blind -not seeing and Faith- not thinking. If you still have that blind faith, then look out for octopi in the trees.

    February 3, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  24. Ben Ben

    America this is what happens when morons are elected.

    February 3, 2011 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  25. Dumbya

    Too many hands on the steering wheel and all those hands were juveniles without a license to drive. love the bickering that continues amongst these morons, gonna be plenty of evidence to convict all the fools of treason as they keep shooting each other

    February 3, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
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