May 19th, 2009
07:44 PM ET
11 years ago

Rumsfeld aide blasts report on religious Iraq slides

A Rumsfeld aide denies reports the former Defense Secretary used Christian-themed covers on Iraq reports.

A Rumsfeld aide denies reports the former Defense Secretary used Christian-themed covers on Iraq reports.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would not have approved Christian-themed covers to intelligence reports on the invasion of Iraq, calling them "counterproductive to the war effort," a spokesman said Tuesday.

The covers, some of which were published in the latest issue of GQ magazine, juxtaposed images from the 2003 invasion with verses from the Bible.

According to the magazine, Rumsfeld used the covers to curry favor with then-President George Bush, a devout evangelical.

In a written statement Tuesday, Rumsfeld spokesman Keith Urbahn said the secretary saw the reports only occasionally, and they were never shown to Bush.

"Rumsfeld was fully aware that words and actions could be harmful and counterproductive to the war effort. It's safe to say that some of these cover slides could be considered in that category," Urbahn said. "The suggestion that Rumsfeld would have composed of, approved of, or personally shown the slides to President Bush is flat wrong. It did not happen."

The story of the slides was only part of a larger, highly critical article about Rumsfeld, who was fired in 2006 after the unpopular war in Iraq helped contribute to that year's Republican electoral losses. An official quoted anonymously in the GQ article said the slides - which had been prepared by a two-star general on the Pentagon's intelligence staff - could have done damage "as bad as Abu Ghraib" if they had become public during the invasion of an Islamic nation.

Among the covers published by GQ was one showing a U.S. tank silhouetted by a desert sunrise below a quote from the New Testament book of Ephesians: "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."

Another featured a quote from the first book of Peter atop a photo of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. It read, "It is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men."

The article's author, Robert Draper, penned a 2007 book on the Bush presidency. Urbahn said Draper was "being taken by people with an axe to grind." But the story had the ring of truth to David Kuo, who led the White House "faith-based" program office during the Bush administration.

"The guy knows how to market things, and clearly he knew how to market things to his boss, to his audience of one - the president of the United States. And that was to use these biblical quotes," Kuo told CNN.

Kuo said Iraq was "always a war in search of justification." But he called the slides "frankly appalling to me, as a follower of Jesus."

"I never saw these memos. But I've got to tell you, if their use of biblical language and spiritual ignorance is anything as bad as their military ignorance, it is clear why the Iraq war is a debacle," he said.

Filed under: Donald Rumsfeld • George W. Bush
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Dan, TX

    Then what did happen?

    May 19, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  2. ray ray

    Well... everyone KNOWS the reputation for GQ magazine and their hard-hitting reporters... so it must be true!

    (eyes rolling)

    May 19, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  3. Lynn

    Let's hear from Rumsfeld himself; what a wimp...sending out someone else to spread his lies for him!! Then would the GOP demand his apology??

    May 19, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  4. jaye

    I don't believe anything Rumsfeld says...

    May 19, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  5. barking republican ankle biters


    May 19, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  6. elana

    Sorry, Dude! I don't believe ONE WORD you say!!

    May 19, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  7. No Incumbents 2010

    People who believe Pelosi, but hate Rumsfeld spewing stupidity in 3,2,1...

    May 19, 2009 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  8. Keith in CA

    There must be a special level in Hell for these war criminals. They disgraced our country and perverted Christianity to do it. What is the difference between a Crusade and a Jihad?

    May 19, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  9. Jason

    Ahem, liar.

    May 19, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  10. Brent

    I call bull. He knew and he liked ... as long as it was between him and W.

    May 19, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  11. Pragmatic

    Why would I ever believe a word Rummy would say?

    May 19, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  12. Richard Larson

    As much animus as I have felt for Don Rumsfeld since he first came upon the national scene, I am almost convinced that his office was not the originator of these briefings, but that they were very probably from the office of Doug Weith who absolutely had no compunctions whatever about abrogating the concept of separation of church and state. Weith did everything he could during his thankfully short time in office to assist the President and his followers in the massive accumulation of power and arrogance within the executive.

    May 19, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  13. Neil

    It never ceases to amaze me how Christians attempt to sanctify their sins by invoking the name of Christ. It's okay to torture. It's okay to lie. It's okay to kill innocent women and children. It's okay to "hunt Muslims for Christ." Jesus said so. The God of Love.

    May 19, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  14. Richard Larson

    Oops, delete the W and insert an F, for Doug Feith.

    May 19, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  15. Holy cow

    Some people commit crimes or order others to do it, in the name of God. Nothing has changed though the human history.

    May 19, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  16. Cynthia - Arkansas

    They might as well sit back and let the other shoe drop. It's all going to come to light now. They can thank Dick Cheney for not letting it go. President Obama wanted to move on, but Cheney wouldn't let him.
    Now the truth must be told, no matter how ugly it is. There are all kind of people who were too afraid during the Bush era to say anything. Thank God, those days are over.

    May 19, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  17. Jayden,FL

    LIE LIE LIE! Put Rumsfeld in Jail

    May 19, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  18. Alicia

    Soooooo Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Rove LIE, LIE, LIE about the war and now the Repubs think they have something with legs on Pelosi. Pah Leezzzzzzz

    **The Republicans owe the country an apology for the war crimes and torture.

    May 19, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |

    This is just one more example of what America gets when it votes bible thumpin' evangelical jeez-zus freaks into office.
    The country got just what it deserved for voting for the "family values" and "religuous foundation" professed by a candidate instead of the competentance of the candidate – A war dressed up as a rightuous crusade...
    And the motto of these con artists? God bless America....

    May 19, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  20. RUTY

    I do NOT believe Rumsfeld.He is a "Bushie". That makes him less than honest.

    May 19, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  21. Randolph Carter

    That's what you get when you elect nincompoops who believe that some big invisible man in the sky created the universe 6,000 years ago. Everyone knows that the flying spaghetti monster created the universe last Thursday. Can I prove that? No. Can you prove me wrong? No. Have a nice day!

    May 19, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  22. Mike S.

    That's the Bush Rove years: cast out Jesus on a hook, and reel the suckers in.

    May 19, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  23. mike

    How can he be so bold, the proof is there on paper.

    May 19, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  24. Geez

    Sure he does. WHAT else would we expect from this horrific administration who can't seem to tell the simplest truth the whole 8 years they were in office. I mean it's one BIG LIE after another.

    WHY is America surprised?

    May 19, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  25. JILL

    Boy, these guys weren't only stupid, they were dangerous!

    May 19, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
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