December 7th, 2008
02:10 PM ET
14 years ago

Rice takes responsibility for troubled Iraq occupation

[cnn-photo-caption image="" caption="Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Iraq will be viewed as 'strategic achievement.'"]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Sunday took partial responsibility for the troubled occupation of Iraq, saying the government was not properly structured to handle the problems the United States faced after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime.

When asked by Fox News' Chris Wallace if former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had mismanaged the occupation in Iraq, Rice said the war started well but that it was a mistake not to give responsibility for the occupation solely to the military.

"I take responsibility for that, too," she said. "We just didn't have the right structure."

Rice was President Bush's national security adviser when the U.S. invaded Iraq in the spring of 2003 and was responsible for coordinating the activities of the Defense Department, the State Department and other national security agencies.

Rice, however, said she believes that the overthrow of Hussein would eventually be viewed as a "great strategic achievement" for the Bush administration and the United States.

"You now have a young democratic, multi-ethnic, multi-confessional Iraq that has just signed an historic agreement with the United States establishing a long-term relationship. ... That's a trade up," she said.

Rice also echoed the sentiments of her boss, President Bush, saying she wished the intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs had been better.

"I would give anything to be able to go back and to know precisely what we were going to find when we were there," she said. "But that isn't the way that these things work."

But Rice said the administration's decision to invade Iraq was the right one at the time, saying the risk that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction was unacceptable.

"While it's fine to go back and say what might we have done differently, the truth of the matter is we don't have that luxury. And we didn't at the time," she said.

Filed under: Condoleezza Rice • Iraq
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