September 5th, 2013
09:06 AM ET
11 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. jinx9to88

    Rumsfeld, what made your decision so wrong is that you, Bush and Cheney lied about the intelligence you found to convince the American people. You and your cronies should be in prison!!!!!

    September 5, 2013 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  2. just saying

    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.
    ---

    thousands (many more than in syria) of dead kurds is not evidence? thousands of dead iranian soldiers is not evidence? the leftist democrats like to pick and choose and ignore evidence when it does fit with their far left political ideology.

    so will this new action by obama and his warmongering do gooder lefties become the obama doctrine? whenever some crackpot halfway around the world decides to gas their people, the usa is obligated to intervene militarily? nobody is asking these questions because they know this is only about saving face for obama after his shoot of his mouth, aka talked stupidly. everybody on the left claims obama is some genius but every day that passes proves him more and more a simpleton living in an alternate reality.

    September 5, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. G

    like to see the three stooges take a walk down the streets of bagdad–

    September 5, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  4. Pandamonius

    The honesty of our Intelligence services took a big hit during the Bush years, so it is understandable that people want better reviews and better answers now, when the only group saying it was Assad and not the rebels is that very same untrustworthy intelligence group.

    September 5, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  5. anonymous

    Where is Obama's plan to get UN approval and/or sanctions? Where are all of our allies and all the other countries that Obama has supposedly repaired our image with? Even our closest ally, the Brits, want nothing to do with this Obama misadventure. Could it be the world is now finally revealing its true feelings about Obama? Gives a great speech but sucks as a leader.

    September 5, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Fair is Fair

    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."
    --------
    Democrat votes for Iraq war – 82
    Democrat votes against Iraq war – 126

    Nice try, but you got nothing.

    September 5, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. rs

    At many levels. First, we destabilized the existing relationships between Iran and Iraq by essentially taking Iraq out of the equation. Despite once being supported by the U.S.as our chip in the region to counterbalance Iran, Bush (and Rumsfeld) elected to go after Iraq. The result was that Iran's influence swelled in the region, as did their ally, Syria. Add in the Arab Spring, and the stage was set for civil wars (as seen in Libya, Iraq, potentially Egypt and other nations throughout the region).
    So, not only are the after affects of one of America's longest wars influencing a certain lack of enthusiasm for dealing with the Syrian issue, The Iraq war itself set into motion a destabilizing series of events that leads us to where we are in Syria today- and that won't be the end of it.
    In all likelihood, until such time as the nations in the middle east, and their populations, get to draw their own borders, and shake off the imposed colonial boundaries and populations they contain today, this is apt to be the future for the region.

    September 5, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  8. Larry in Houston

    hey Donald, why don't you go back into retirement, like "W" .....at least he's got the smarts to lay low. unlike you. All 3 of you guys should not only be tried for treason, but you guys should be taken out to Alcatraz for the rest of your lives.
    I still think Henry Paulson has split the 787 Bill between You, "W" & Cheney

    September 5, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. Hogan's Goat

    Another alarming choice for the Shredded Right. Half of them choose to say the president is weak and uncertain about acting on the clear and present danger of Syria, and the other half go with him being inexperienced and aggressive and jumping into this obvious trap, while the Libertarians just shrug and say "Why help anyone ever?"
    Let's see how this translates into votes . . . .

    September 5, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  10. anotherGDlefty

    Dear Don, please run for office since you know it all.....of course we could have used your clairvoyance about a decade ago...
    Shove off Don.

    September 5, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    just saying wrote:

    thousands (many more than in syria) of dead kurds is not evidence? thousands of dead iranian soldiers is not evidence? the leftist democrats like to pick and choose and ignore evidence when it does fit with their far left political ideology.
    ----------------------
    How many years ago did that happen? The Bush administration was citing atrocities that occured more than a decade prior to

    ===========================================
    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Democrat votes for Iraq war – 82
    Democrat votes against Iraq war – 126

    Nice try, but you got nothing.
    ----------------------
    Your initial snipe suggested that none, if any, Democrats were willing and able to vote for a military action. Thanks for proving my point. BTW, the Democrats will probably vote along the same percentages this time around, too. Meanwhile, the demogogues among the Republicans have flip-flopped over onto their backs to show the yellow stripes on their bellies.

    September 5, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  12. Marie MD

    It's is all shrub#43 and this clown's fault along with his walking dead VP puppeteer.
    Hussein was a dictator but he seemed to have kept Iraq in check and was an enemy of bin laden.
    Thanks to the war criminal's administration for stirring the pot for non existent WMDs!

    September 5, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  13. Donna

    Democrat votes for Iraq war – 82
    Democrat votes against Iraq war – 126
    -----

    That is called that bipartisan support for the Iraq war. Just ask Hillary Clinton, she voted for it as well since most of the intelligence was developed while her husband, Bill Clinton, (you know, the Democrat icon that is a supposed genius) was in office watching attack after attack on our country by AQ and doing nothing.

    September 5, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. Thomas

    Rumi as GW used to call him , more like Mr unaccountability !

    September 5, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  15. Larry in Houston

    at first, I thought we were going in.....Now, I know we're not......it's all talk, from here....I think the people in D.C. knows better ( I think ) guess they must have slept on it, for the last several nites.....something in their brain told them that IF we go into Syria, it's going to end up like Iraq & other countries ( Afghanistan) & others) being in a war for another 10 years, and losing our soldiers.... (not to mention hundreds of Billions) I mean take a look at history, every president, except Carter, since Eisenhower, has been in some type of war....ie: kennedy / LBJ / Nixon = Vietnam.....Reagan / Bush / = Panama / Grenada / Kuwait / & other squirmishes / Dubya = Iraq / & it just goes on...at least Carter was trying to negotiate trying to get those 52 hostages out, instead of trying to involve us in another war. Well, what do you expect, when you are trying to police the world ?

    September 5, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. Silence DoGood

    suddenly the trolls have turned into yellow belly's.
    ––
    Suddenly the pacifist left has turned into neocons.
    --
    Actually some of the pacifists like me got tired of Obama's military mentality after innocent villages were drone bombed and the government lied to us that no innocents were killed. The key words are "killed" and "lied". 1000's are dead.

    September 5, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  17. onlyfacts

    What I'd like to see Obama do upon greeting Putin. Instead of the customary handshake, Obama should use his hand to show Putin the international sign of "I don't like you", about 6 inches from his face. That should get some attention.

    September 5, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  18. Fair is Fair

    "BTW, the Democrats will probably vote along the same percentages this time around, too."
    -------
    We'll see. Somehow I doubt only 39% of the democrats are going to support Obama. You might need some salt to eat your words with.

    September 5, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  19. Robert Jay

    Some say the world is expressing it's feelings for Pres. Obama. I say they are expressing their feelings over the mess the Rethugs got us in previously. I for one regardless of who wants to support Syria am sick to death of the middle east idiots – their religion – their hypocritical lives -their persecution of women or any one not like them- I would personally let them see up close and personal what Japan experienced and see if they can't learn to live in their "sandbox" together.

    September 5, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. rs

    "thousands (many more than in syria) of dead kurds is not evidence? thousands of dead iranian soldiers is not evidence? the leftist democrats like to pick and choose and ignore evidence when it does fit with their far left political ideology."
    ____________
    Hmmmm. I guess I missed the evening news the night that the U.S. Army and Rumsfeld captured Mr. Hussein's stash of WMDs.... oh, yeah, the U.N. confirmed before Mr. Rumsfeld's war that there weren't any; Rumsfeld gave one of his cryptic haikus on the "where, oh where are the WMDs", and Bush shocking looked under tables at a national Press Corps event.
    The only evidence we EVER had that Saddam Hussein had WMDs was because Reagan and Rumsfeld SOLD them to him.

    September 5, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. Bob

    Rumsfeld, what made your decision so wrong is that you, Bush and Cheney lied about the intelligence you found to convince the American people. You and your cronies should be in prison!!!!!

    Do not forget Powell, Rice and British crook Tony Blair to be part of Prison and also charged for War crimes.

    September 5, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  22. rs

    So here again we see the shocking lack of coherent policy from the Right. Clearly, they would rather do the old "anything but what Obama wants", even though this is exactly what they were calling for back in December. The Republicans have called for numerous wars and military strikes, from N. Korea to Libya, and now they just aren't sure. They probably don't want to divide their attention from trying to take down our economy and credit rating (AGAIN) next month.
    The Republicans need to find some grown-ups again.

    September 5, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    We'll see. Somehow I doubt only 39% of the democrats are going to support Obama. You might need some salt to eat your words with.
    --------------–
    LOL. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. You didn't post the Republican vote totals, but I'm sure that they're close to 90%, or higher, voting "Aye" for military intervention. You're the one on record this week assuring us that the House will pass a resolution authorizing military action. Let's see how your Republicans vote this time around. I'm on record stating that the House will not pass it, with most of the Republicans voting against military action.

    September 5, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  24. Mikey

    @rs – "The Republicans need to find some grown-ups again."
    *******************************************
    Have you seen their base? The party has been shrinking for over a decade by purging most of the rational moderates, while the fear-driven right seems to have lost their collective mind because they can't adjust to globalization and demographic changes (along with their extreme freak out over the election of Barack Hussein Obama). The base now seems dominated by a bunch of mal-adjusted, whiney, fearful, uninformed zealots. How is that crowd going to elect grown-ups? Expect the clown car to get wackier and wackier.

    September 5, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  25. Name

    think and check the facts before posting

    September 5, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
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