September 5th, 2013
09:06 AM ET
1 year 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. Lynda/Minnesota

    Fair is Fair
    Marie MD

    @just saying, I take it that you are privy to top secret information.
    I personally that we should do absolutely nothing. Let other Arab countries, China and Russia take care of Syria.
    Genocide in other countries haven't been met with strikes and have been allowed for decades.
    Regardless of what we do the terrorists and Arab countries will still hate us. What's the point in Syria.
    --–
    For (I believe) the first time, I find myself in agreement with you, Marie.

    Are you conceding that we should never have involved ourselves in Iraq, Fair is Fair? If I remember correctly, you were on the other side of the page a few years back.

    September 5, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  2. tom l

    Seems to me that Barack Obama was for the red line before he was against it...

    September 5, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  3. Nothing At All

    Rummy we're still waiting for the Iraqi's to welcome us as hero's. This guy has no credibility whatsoever.

    September 5, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  4. Italmn

    Donald Rumsfeld REALLY CNN ? A man who is wanted for WAR Crimes in other countrys ? I don't know how he's got the guts to chime in period. He's absolutely disgusting to say the least.

    September 5, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. Hogan's Goat

    "Obama? Gives a great speech but sucks as a leader." Dumb troll makes dumb remark as Obama leads the GOP into agreement and approval for a military strike against Syria.
    You poor guys can't decide whether to claim Obama is "inexperienced and ineffective," or that he controls gas and food prices and has a trillion-man ACORN army poised to take your guns in a conspiracy dating back twenty years. Flip a coin or something, or else take the medicine the doctor gave you.

    September 5, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Donna wrote:

    "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.
    ------------------
    Thanks for jumping into the conversation and making my point to Fair for me, which was Democrats voting for military action is not anything new. But, Fair seems to think it's something new for the liberals to do.

    Heck, while we're at it, we might just as well point out that liberals voted for action against the Taliban in Afghanistan in higher numbers. Democrats voted for military intervention in Bosnia, while the Republican majority voted it down under Pres. Clinton. Once again, Fair is caught cherry picking facts to make an obviously false claim.

    "Fair tried, but we got her.

    September 5, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  7. rick7809

    First of all Rumsfeld is probably a nice guy, but he is also a war criminal. You might as well ask a Mexican Drug Lord to comment about US drug policy. Second, I am a bit worn by the "Obama is not a leader" talk. How can you lead when the opposition party has done nothing but lie and whip up fear for the last five years and has had as their sole objective, the goal to make him fail. You cannot lead people with closed minds that actively work against everything you say.

    September 5, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. Matt

    The parallel is Syria and Iran bogged us down in Iraq to mentally break us so we do not interfere while Iran build the bomb and as can be seen while Assad gasses his own people. That is his end game chemical his regime rests and falls on this. If he was a man he would gas the rebels, attack his neighbors draw them him in, kill as many as he can and hope once much of his military and regime is deconstructed that he comes out of his spider hole and is still president. That buys him around six to 12 months, there are enough kids of fighting age or approaching in refugee camps the insurgency will respawn. But he wants to gas and that is the cost before the US attacks. It is still a sweet mission low drag. The question of intelligence or how we got into Iraq is not important, it is how we left that matters on whos time frame and what they got out of bogging us down in 05.

    September 5, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  9. rs

    tom l
    Seems to me that Barack Obama was for the red line before he was against it...
    ____________________
    The use of gas during World War 1 is what lead to the near universal banning of the use of gas against armies or civilians. I'd say that pre-dates Mr. Obama, wouldn't you?

    September 5, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  10. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Donna wrote:

    "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.
    ------
    Thanks for jumping into the conversation and making my point to Fair for me, which was Democrats voting for military action is not anything new. But, Fair seems to think it's something new for the liberals to do.

    Heck, while we're at it, we might just as well point out that liberals voted for action against the Taliban in Afghanistan in higher numbers. Democrats voted for military intervention in Bosnia, while the Republican majority voted it down under Pres. Clinton. Once again, Fair is caught cherry picking facts to make an obviously false claim.

    "Fair tried, but we got her.
    ------–
    Please don't put words in my mouth. Your statement was, quote, "democrats are consistent – they voted for the Iraq war resolution". I responded with the vote tally which showed that 39% voted for, while 61% voted against (which is a landslide, is it not?). Nothing more, nothing less. Your assertion that I said anything different is wrong. YOU are the cherry picker... no slick amount of spin or out of context quoting changes that.

    September 5, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. Fair is Fair

    "You're the one on record this week assuring us that the House will pass a resolution authorizing military action."
    ------
    No such thing as "assurances". I said I would be shocked if the house voted against authorization. And I would be.

    September 5, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  12. Scotty

    It is nothing new, Obama has failed as a leader, embarressed himself in front of the world. But I do not blame him, the real blame belongs to the people of this country for electing him, you all wanted the free stuff he offered. How does it feel now watching him screw you all.

    September 5, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  13. Edward

    How can such a hated, deceptive man even speak about this situation. Hide yourself in shame Rumsfeld. Retire to oblivion. Hold your tongue. Look what you did to America's credibility in the world and silence yourself for the good of the nation.

    September 5, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Matt

    The parallel is Syria and Iran bogged us down in Iraq to mentally break us so we do not interfere while Iran build the bomb and as can be seen while Assad gasses his own people. That is his end game chemical his regime rests and falls on this.
    -----------------
    I wish I could pop that bubble that you're living in.

    REALITY CHECK: Are you even aware of the decade of war between Iraq and Iran in the 1980s? Are you aware that Saddam had the strongest Arab army in the Middle East? And that Saddam used that army to suppress his neighbor and enemy, Iran?

    Saddam had little to no interest in conquering Iran and its' people. He had enough trouble controlling the various ethnic groups and sects within his own borders, much less adding more onto his plate by conquering Iran. No, Saddam was the check and balance on the growth of the Iranian military. Saddam flew regular bombing raids into Iranian territory to destroy military and nuclear research facilities. Naturally, Iran attacked back and war ensued.

    The U.S. supported Saddam because he was fighting the Iranians and it looked better when Iraqi jets blew up Iranian facilities than American jets doing it. Saddam had the power but used it only to secure his own peace of mind, that is until he lost his mind and invaded Kuwait. But, that's another story but it is reason for a conspiracy theory behind Bush-43 wanting to knock off Saddam, which Bush-41 did not do a decade before. There was a supposedly a thwarted assasination attempt on Bush-41.

    After the Gulf War in the alllies set up "no-fly zones" in the northern and southern regions of the country, but curiously left the central band of the country more or less free and clear. The clear region made it convenient for Saddam to contnue his attack flights on Iranian research facilities. Iran didn't dare start firing into Iraq, not with allied jets in the air.

    When the Bush administration took out Saddam, they permanently and dangerously upset the balance of power. No one was going in and blowing up Iranian facilities during the Bush years. It would not look good for U.S. or allied jets to start a bombing run in Iran. To this day, the U.S. still cannot launch a unilateral strike. Iran took advantage of the respite. They've been doing however they well please in nuclear research. Saddam would have bombed them to dust long ago.

    What does all of this have to do with Assad? Aside from the Bush administration starting what has turned out to be a highly ill-advised war against Iraq for the same reasons as going into Syria, it has notihing to do with Assad. The problem is that our allies had been made to look like fools in their own countries because of the Iraq War. Their people are now highly mistrustful of the U.S., which is in part why Pres. Obama did not want to take a role in the Libya operation that looked anything like a starring role, not after what took place in Iraq. Pres. Obama had called it "leading from behind".

    September 5, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  15. Malory Archer

    Scotty

    It is nothing new, Obama has failed as a leader, embarressed himself in front of the world......

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Only in your ilk's world, babe. For thinking denizens of the planet, President Obama is the antidote to the embarrassment that was the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and his apologists such as yourself.

    September 5, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. Fair is Fair

    Lynda/Minnesota

    Fair is Fair
    Marie MD

    @just saying, I take it that you are privy to top secret information.
    I personally that we should do absolutely nothing. Let other Arab countries, China and Russia take care of Syria.
    Genocide in other countries haven't been met with strikes and have been allowed for decades.
    Regardless of what we do the terrorists and Arab countries will still hate us. What's the point in Syria.
    ––
    For (I believe) the first time, I find myself in agreement with you, Marie.

    Are you conceding that we should never have involved ourselves in Iraq, Fair is Fair? If I remember correctly, you were on the other side of the page a few years back.
    -------
    Marie's point was on Syria, Lynda. As far as Iraq goes... you know, hindsight is 20/20, as they say. I do believe the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein in it. But you look at what's happened in Iraq since we've pulled out of there and it's really not pretty, and it's just within the last year or so that it's become clear, with respect to Iraq, that a leopard can't change its spots. They're probably up next in the civil war games (so to speak). I suppose I could borrow a quote from the President and say that my stance "is evolving"... but I'll take a higher road than he and say flat out that the events in Iraq over the past year or two have proven that I was wrong. Human, you know...

    September 5, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Let's take from the top, shall we? ... Fair is Fair wrote:

    suddenly the trolls have turned into yellow belly's.
    ––
    Suddenly the pacifist left has turned into neocons.
    -------------------------
    That is your first remark, not your post containing vote totals. Your suggesting that "pacifist left" has flip-flopped and turned itself into war mongering neo-cons.....as if they had never for a war before a day in their life. My response was spot on:

    "The left has remained consistent. Did they not vote FOR a resolution authorizing action against Iraq?"
    "Nice try, but we gotcha."

    "Please don't put words in my mouth. Your statement was, quote, "democrats are consistent – they voted for the Iraq war resolution". I responded with the vote tally which showed that 39% voted for, while 61% voted against (which is a landslide, is it not?). Nothing more, nothing less. Your assertion that I said anything different is wrong."

    I haven't put words in your mouth. Your statistics drew no conclusions. It make no sense to me because it did more to support my point, which Donna so eloquently pointed out. You've lost your touch.

    September 5, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  18. smith

    This is Iraq all over again but much worse. I hope congress and the potus do the right thing and stay clear of this jumble mess of slop. BTW, all these people calling Rummy,W, and Cheney war criminals, Clinton did the same thing in Kosovo.

    September 5, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "Seems to me that Barack Obama was for the red line before he was against it..."

    So you consider the near-universal global condemnation of the use of chemical weapons going back to the Brussels Declaration in 1874, which banned "poison" weapons...not to mention the Hague Conference, the Washington Arms Conference Treaty, the Versailles Peace Treaty, the Geneva Protocol, the Chemical Weapons Convention, etc....to not be a "red line" drawn by humanity in general? Newsflash: Obama's statements about the "red line" are in no way self-contradictory.

    GROW. UP.

    September 5, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. w l jones

    The question over there is who are uniform soldiers or somebody acting as a real soldier?

    September 5, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Fair is Fair

    "You're the one on record this week assuring us that the House will pass a resolution authorizing military action."

    No such thing as "assurances". I said I would be shocked if the house voted against authorization. And I would be.
    ----------------
    Yup. Right there, that's the assurance you gave us. Just before you said that you'd be shocked if they voted against, you said with the most proper conservative certainty that the House would pass a resolution authorizing action against Syria.

    September 5, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. just saying

    Rudy NYC
    If a regional war breaks out because of Syria, then you can expect the price of a barrel of oil to at least double, or even triple.
    --–

    and that fits perfectly with obama's green agenda and hatred of anything to do with oil or coal. of course it'll also throw the global economy into a recession/depression which we have been tettering on since obama took office. and obama is willing to risk this when nobody but him is interested in acting? yes, if this all plays out it will be known as the obama global depression. all because he shot from the lip, the world stands ready to pay a potentially horrendous price. pure unadulterated insanity.

    September 5, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  23. anonymous

    I have the perfect solution. Since this is a world problem according to Obama, then all the signers of the treaty dealing with the use of gas must step forward to help enforce that treaty. Every country that signed the treaty must do one of two things: assign 5,000 troops from their nation to a UN force which will invade Syria, throw out Assad and confiscate the gas weapons, OR they must contribute $1 BILLION towards the effort.

    Laws and treaties without enforcement provisions are useless. It is not the job of the USA to clean up the globe. It is time for the WORLD to put up or shut up.

    September 5, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. Obama is Putin's Favorite Female Dog

    Looks like Obama has returned to Russia for some more obedience training... Putin will not be nice this time. Obama will tighten the leash and use the whip on our little misbehaving puppy.

    September 5, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  25. Lynda/Minnesota

    @Fair is Fair: Marie's point was on Syria, Lynda. As far as Iraq goes... you know, hindsight is 20/20, as they say. I do believe the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein in it. But you look at what's happened in Iraq since we've pulled out of there and it's really not pretty, and it's just within the last year or so that it's become clear, with respect to Iraq, that a leopard can't change its spots. They're probably up next in the civil war games (so to speak). I suppose I could borrow a quote from the President and say that my stance "is evolving"... but I'll take a higher road than he and say flat out that the events in Iraq over the past year or two have proven that I was wrong. Human, you know...
    -------

    Please understand: I wasn't suggesting that you admit you were wrong. I was simply curious as to your viewpoint as it applies today. Your opinion follows my own thoughts on both Iraq and Syria.

    September 5, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
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