September 5th, 2013
09:06 AM ET
7 months ago

Rumsfeld concedes Iraq War influences Syria debate

Updated 9/5/13 12:00 p.m. ET
(CNN) – While sharply criticizing President Barack Obama as an ineffective leader on Syria, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld conceded that faulty intelligence in the lead up to the Iraq War is influencing the current debate over intervening there.

"That experience unquestionably has affected some people's judgment and attitude and impressions," Rumsfeld, who led the U.S. invasion of Iraq, said on CNN's "New Day."

Rumsfeld's admission came just moments after he vigorously denied any parallels between the two military operations.

"Congress looked at the same intelligence and came to the same conclusions and supported it, including very prominent Democrats who enthusiastically supported it," Rumsfeld said, referring to intelligence that the Bush administration showed Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

When asked by CNN "New Day" anchor Chris Cuomo of skeptics who say that intelligence was manipulated and spun politically, Rumsfeld said people "on the fringe" had taken that position. "[I] don't think anyone responsible has said anything like that," he insisted.

The former defense secretary, who resigned from the top defense post in 2006 amid widespread criticism that he mismanaged the Iraq war, added, "Intelligence is intelligence and not necessarily a fact."

Despite his concession, Rumsfeld maintained that the more pressing reason why Obama is struggling to gain the support of Congress is because of Obama's lack of leadership.

"Almost any president in my adult life I think would have provided stronger leadership and greater clarity," he said.

This is not the first time Rumsfeld has provided his input on Syria. He has been outspoken in his criticism of Obama's handling of the possible military operation.

"There really hasn't been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation," he said on Fox Business Network last week.

He also criticized the president for not garnering support before the release of his intent to intervene in the war-torn country.

"I can't imagine what they're thinking, why they would want the Assad regime to have crystal clarity with respect to what they intend," Rumsfeld said.


Filed under: Donald Rumsfeld • Syria
soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. Name jk. Sfl. GOP conservatives,the garbage of America.

    This GOP bungalar needs to go home and shut up. Time and Cheney blew the Iraq war.

    September 5, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  2. Winston Smith

    Here's one that should be called a yard bird, getting a stripped tan, and being passed around like a rag from cell to cell. Yet somehow he gets to spew his venom in the news, like the hissing snake he is. WAKE UP. GROW UP. The United States needs leaders with forethought, not casualties of war.

    September 5, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  3. Malory Archer

    The war criminal should just keep his evil mouth shut. Nobody from the previouos occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue's eight year reign of error should say anything except to plead for their miserable lives at a war crimes trial.

    September 5, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Finally, someone in the Bush administration is taking blame for at least some of the political chaos that we see today. But Mr. Rumsfeld really needs to go back to where he came from.

    Romsfeld's still trying to save face from being tagged as the worse Defense Secretary in the nation's history. That's not me saying that, it's members of his own party that have been saying it since the end of the Vietname War. The grapevine says that he is the first to "lose a war" in American history. He tried to make up for it in Iraq, only to wind up with more egg on his face. But, I have to give him credit for not being a quitter, while criticizing him not knowing when to quit.

    September 5, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  5. Data Driven

    "While sharply criticizing President Barack Obama as an ineffective leader on Syria,"

    See? Talking about Syria is just a subtext within the larger theme of "sharply criticizing Obama". CNN invites this guy, who should probably be locked up in the Hague, to talk about Syria, but he knows nothing about Syria, he is not privy to intelligence on Syria. One thing he knows, though: criticize Obama enough and maybe people forget about your own criminal failures. Psychiatrists call it "deflection".

    September 5, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  6. The Real Tom Paine

    -"Congress looked at the same intelligence and came to the same conclusions and supported it, including very prominent Democrats who enthusiastically supporter it," Rumsfeld said, referring to intelligence that the Bush administration showed Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

    What was of greater influence was the shameless demagoging of the 9/11 attacks by the GOP, and the fact that Congress was facing midterm elections: the enthusiasum Rumsfeld refers to only existed in his mind and the rest of the neocons, who expected democracy to roll in like the tide once Saddam was removed. Pardon people for being a little skeptical, Mr. Secretary, based on your playing fast and loose with the truth. You are no sage, sire.

    September 5, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  7. onlyfacts

    I'm pretty sure Rumsfeld's bosses were our leaders on Sept. 11, 2001. I guess he is referring to Bush when he says, "ALMOST any leader in my adult life would have provided stronger leadership".

    September 5, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  8. Anonymous

    Rumsfeld: "Of course the false intelligence from Iraq is influencing the decision on Syria but thats not the reason why its a difficult decision, its because of Obama"

    September 5, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  9. O'drama Ya Mama

    Rumsfeld: "Of course the false intelligence from Iraq is influencing the decision on Syria but thats not the reason why its a difficult decision, its because of Obama"

    September 5, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    Well, to be clear ... there is nothing (and I mean nothing) that Mr. Rumsfeld can say that is of any interest to me or is (in my opinion) worthy of discussion or debate.

    September 5, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Sit down and shut up.

    September 5, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  12. Donkey Party

    Why Rumsfeld isn't behind bars right now is a travesty.

    September 5, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  13. Wake up People!

    This lying war criminal ought to be in prison along with the rest of their crew.

    September 5, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  14. Sniffit

    DUH. The GOP's/Teatrolls' greatest desire is to prove that the federal gov't does not work and cannot be trusted. Dubya, Cheney and Rummy did a bang up job of proving it...on purpose. Now, when we have evidence that someone ACTUALLY USED some of the most heinous, cruel and evil of WMDs on innocent civilians, we have a country divided, that won't trust the word of the gov't or their "lying eyes" with respect to the evidence. Because we were lied to last time, we're a a country whose proper moral outrage towards such an atrocity, such evil, is BROKEN. Sapped of that outrage, we lack the will to act to punish and prevent such acts all because our trust in ourselves and our own systems is broken. Dogmatic, knee-jerk distrust of gov't and our leadership is a national security problem. There's a difference between healthy skepticism and adamant refusal to believe what evidence is showing you.

    September 5, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  15. Robert Wood

    Why in God's name would CNN ask Donald Rumsfeld any questions on Syria?The only question he should be asked is how he stayed out of jail after lying us into the Iraq war. The same goes for Cheney and Bush and all their helpers.

    September 5, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  16. Bessy

    This creature should just crawl back into whatever hole he came out of. He has no right what so ever to ever make comments about any decisions that have to be made re: foreign policy or our country in general.

    September 5, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  17. J.V.Hodgson

    Typical CNN picking up someone who is bound to totally adversarial to what Obama has done and how!
    No leadership ... well what about more disclosure to the whole of congress including secure briefings on all the intelligence and then of course the Senate hearings and house hearings to come. None of that from Rummy, of course not, otherwise he cannot justify Bush acting on his CIC powers, constitutionally ok or not or OK under the war powers act. Leadership Obama lays down a redline and Republicans scream weak no leadership, now they say he should not have done that.... ( he didn't alone its international protocol and laws). Why do we constantly Americans ignore protocols and conventions we have signed ( when it suits us) and then when we get an exaggerated view of our so called national security. WE are brilliant at dreaming up the NS cause and shout loudly like American tourists are portrayed as doing globally ( right or wrong by those other nations) and frankly never mind the facts or conventions! Only the presidents decision matters'.
    Then just look after that at the harrowing self criticism ( noisy guilt even) soul searching ( did we do the right thing Or not?) get it wrong somehow once American soldiers get killed!! 1400 plus Syrians including 400 kids how are they an NS issue? 1400 Americans or soldiers I guarantee we would not be debating this we 'd be at full scale war already!!
    Our political system in todays world becomes Adversarial, ( not checks and balances) ideological, and this congressional vote on Syria will show up the flaws of the system in 21st century America.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    September 5, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  18. ST

    Some might blame Rumsfeld of what happened in Iraq and now reflects in Syria issue. With me I don't blame this man anymore. That was the past. I blame this short man Putin. He is a bully and doesn't want any co-operation. I know from the opposition side, they are blaming Pres. Obama. Really! are you serious? There was time the former Russian Prime Minister (by the way was in good terms with Pres. Obama), had the moment when Pres. Obama came close to his ears of Medvedev and whispered a good message to be delivered to Putin. Of which the former Prime Minister acknowledged he will deliver.
    This showed that President Obama wanted good relationship with Russia in return Putin paid him by accommodating the fugitive Snowden. Is this man Putin a person who wants peace on earth? I do not think so.

    September 5, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  19. wendel

    suddenly the trolls have turned into yellow belly's. Why? Is it a fear of their constituate's or a desire to screw the president once again????Or do they just not care about dictators gassing their own people???

    September 5, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  20. Data Driven

    @Sniffit,

    Great post. While I believe we should pursue other options first before launching unilateral strikes (which seems to be where we're headed), it has finally become crystal clear to those in any doubt that the previous regime pretty much destroyed this country's moral authority, to say nothing of our political credibility with other nations. Maybe next time we'll be a little more careful about starting wars "of our own choosing".

    "DUH" indeed.

    September 5, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  21. Fair is Fair

    wendel

    suddenly the trolls have turned into yellow belly's.
    ----–
    Suddenly the pacifist left has turned into neocons.

    September 5, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  22. Sophie Meyer

    Mr. Rumsfeld, have you no shame?

    On the topic of Syria and war, Rumsfeld is the last person whose commentary should be seriously considered. Take a hike rumsfeld.

    September 5, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. The Real Tom Paine

    -Fair is Fair

    wendel

    suddenly the trolls have turned into yellow belly's.
    --–
    Suddenly the pacifist left has turned into neocons.
    *************
    We have evidence, Rumsfeld never did. Earlier this year, the Right was screaming for intervention, now all of a sudden they are questioning their earlier analysis? Why? It has more to do with domestic politics and the resurrection of the Bob Taft school of Isolationism rearing its ugly head in the form of Rand Paul then it does with the situation on the ground. What is being proposed is a stand-off strike, not an invasion.

    September 5, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. Joi Gibson

    This man has no business criticizing anything President Obama does. In fact, he should be ashamed of himself, yet sadly, he is not, and now all he can do is criticize. How about be a man and accept responsibility for what you did to this country and have the grace to stay off the airwaves. And CNN what is with you. Why would you ask the opinion of someone with no credibility their thoughts on this situation. It makes your network as seem as worthless and Donald Rumsfeld. I'm sorry but he and Cheney just make my blood boil.

    September 5, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    suddenly the trolls have turned into yellow belly's.
    --–
    Suddenly the pacifist left has turned into neocons.
    -------------------------------
    The left has remained consistent. Did they not vote FOR a resolution authorizing action against Iraq?

    "Nice try, but we gotcha."

    September 5, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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