Rumsfeld: WMD issue was 'the big one' in Iraq invasion
February 20th, 2011
09:01 AM ET
10 years ago

Rumsfeld: WMD issue was 'the big one' in Iraq invasion

Washington (CNN) - If the Bush Administration had known there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, it probably wouldn't have decided to invade in 2003, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an interview broadcast Sunday.

Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union" program, Rumsfeld noted there were multiple reasons for attacking Iraq and ousting Saddam Hussein from power.

However, intelligence reports - now shown to have been false - that Iraq possessed so-called WMDs was the main reason for going in, Rumsfeld said.

"No question it was the big one," he said. Asked if the United States would not have invaded if the administration didn't believe Iraq had the weapons of mass destruction, Rumsfeld said: "I think that's probably right."

He criticized the source known as "Curveball" - an Iraqi defector who admitted his claims that Iraq possessed WMDs were false - but stopped short of condemning the U.S. intelligence community.

"The intelligence community talks to hundreds of people," Rumsfeld said. "They have human assets, such as this man. Some are honest, some are dishonest. Some do it for money, some do it for self aggrandizement. Some do it, apparently, to lie."

Now peddling a book four years after being replaced by Robert Gates as defense secretary following heavy Republican losses in the 2006 mid-term elections, Rumsfeld maintained the swagger and bravado that were his hallmarks when dealing with the media as a Cabinet member.

He said said the Obama administration was "wrong in attacking the Bush administration's structures that have kept this country safe for almost a decade now," including the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

President Barack Obama campaigned on the promise that he would close the facility known as Gitmo in his first year in office, but it remains open.

"They now have switched from the campaign mode, and they are keeping Guantanamo Bay. They are keeping indefinite detention," Rumsfeld said. "They are keeping military commissions. So obviously, they've come to the conclusion that their campaign promises - easier to campaign than it is to govern."

Rumsfeld also rejected the premise that the United States is viewed more favorably around the world with Obama as president.

"No, and I don't think there's data that supports that," Rumsfeld said. "I think he had made a practice of trying to apologize for America. I personally am proud of America."

He was also critical of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded Obama in his first year in office in 2009.

"Well, he had not accomplished a thing when he got the Nobel Prize," Rumsfeld said. "It was given to him on hope. Had to have been because there wasn't anything that he'd done."

Despite receiving some boos when he recently was honored at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual gathering of conservative activists, Rumsfeld said the Tea Party movement has brought "a lot of energy into public life and public affairs."

He said he was "deeply worried about the budget" and that the country needs to start saving money now. Some of those savings can come in the Pentagon budget he formerly oversaw.

"My goodness, every year the Congress was stuffing $10 billion down the Pentagon's throat that we didn't want," Rumsfeld said. "There's no question that there's money there."

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Donald Rumsfeld • Iraq • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Marcus

    Now it's official...
    There were no WMDs
    There were no mobile laboratory that could create them.
    And this guy couldn't care less if there were or not!

    February 20, 2011 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  2. annie s

    In 1998, Mr. Rumsfield was one of several conservatives, including Cheney, Jeb Bush and Paul Wolfowitz, who tried to put pressure on President Clinton to go to war in Iraq. So we're supposed to believe they might not have invaded the country if they had not had their so-called intelligence claiming WMDs? Bull. They were just looking for a reason that they could sell to the American people to garner their support to invade a nation that was of no imminent threat to us at all.

    February 20, 2011 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  3. D. Bunker

    And why isn't Rumsfeld facing trial for war crimes?

    February 20, 2011 09:30 am at 9:30 am |

    It is "long overdue" that the Senate begin an investigation into why the Bush Administration went to War with Iraq. In addition to all of the "unfunded monies" spent, there are thousands of US soldiers who lost their lives, hundreds of thousands who were maimed for life and millions of innocent Iraqi men, women and children who perished in the quote unquote battle for Democracy. It is time for the Ameican People to be told the truths and those responsible for these actions be held accountable.

    February 20, 2011 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  5. E1atoM

    Why can't Rumsfeld, and Cheney, just stay in the cave they've been in for a while now. Your own ilk has booed you so please get the hint already.

    February 20, 2011 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  6. Andres Zambrano

    Im usually pretty open, but this punk needs to go back into his hole. Almost makes me want to start to organize with all the BS going on right now.

    February 20, 2011 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  7. harry

    does it really matter what this liar says....

    February 20, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  8. harry

    did he not say that there are WMD "north of baghdad, south of baghdad, east of baghdad and west of baghdad" and Oh, he also said 'there are known knowns and known unknowns and some unknown knowns.......

    February 20, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  9. Chris aka "Knowledge"

    The lies that come out of this man are unconscionable!!!....It is still fresh in my mind, even after 9 years, how Bush and his henchmen (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Powell, Rove and company) could have the AUDACITY to go to bed every night with a bag of lies on top of their pillow.

    February 20, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  10. jim

    and some, like rumsfield, do it because they are evil.

    February 20, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  11. i remember

    i remember the photo of donny shaking saddam's hand in the 1970s. we (the CIA) made that guy – rumsfeld is complicit in all the following war crimes. it was never about WMDs. iraq was the axis of several people's grudge match ("he tried to kill my daddy"), and we paid the price for to grind those axes in blood and treasure.

    finally – is "known and unknown" the dumbest title for a book ever? i imagine the contents are just as uninspired. maybe he could follow it up with "up and not up" or "salty and sweet?"

    February 20, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  12. Disbelief!

    Are you KIDDING me? It's important that we all keep pushing back against the revisionist history the liars like Rumsfeld are trying to push. In the months and weeks leading up to the war in Iraq, there was a steady drumbeat of "WMD WMD WMD" – am I the only one who remembers this? WMDs were the one and ONLY reason for that war, and it was an outright lie from the very beginning. God forbid that five, ten or twenty years from now these buffoons somehow manage to convince intelligent people that WMDs had nothing to do with the war in Iraq.

    February 20, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  13. jimfishafrica

    Rumsfeld says we must face economic problems now ....and who brought on all this? The illegal war in Iraq and now Afganistan ! What was the world's view of the USA when Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were in power....we were an embarrassment to the world. How can these guys sleep at night?? With Obama as President I am much happier to be an American and leaders of other world powers are pleased to have the USA as a partner in solving problems.

    February 20, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  14. nru

    I think he owes many of us an apology at a minimum,

    February 20, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  15. kyle

    The other reason was W Bush trying to finish what Bush 1 didn't.

    February 20, 2011 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  16. arduck

    You say WMDs weren't the only reason. They were the only reason I remember you gave us. Until you could not find any.

    February 20, 2011 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  17. Chris

    What I remember is Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and company telling the American people that it was absolutely vital that we invade Iraq right away because they were 100% certain that Saddam Hussein had a huge stockpile of WMD"s that he was getting ready to use against the US at any moment. They also said we'd be greeted as liberators, be in and out of the country in a matter of months, and the whole operation who only cost a handful of millions.

    February 20, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  18. Kevin

    They wanted to stabilize the middle east and thought that they could do this by giving Iraq democracy. At least that's what they started saying in 1998. Way to go PNAC.

    February 20, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  19. New Age Independant

    Remember the poll that overwhelming said that the public supported the war EVEN IF WMD WAS NEVER FOUND? I suppose that you liberals dont care about the atrocities that were done over there by Saddam? Try to imagine those being done to your own children, wives; husbands being taken away against their will. You are all pathetic.

    February 20, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  20. Randy, San Francisco

    Rumsfeld should be featured on America's Most Wanted TV show for war crimes.

    February 20, 2011 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  21. gypsydaveywithablowtorch

    Of course WMDs weren't the reason for the war-they knew all along there weren't any. What were the reasons?:

    1) Reelection in 2004
    2) Bankrupt America so that we could end social programs
    3) oil
    4) Haliburton profits

    Can anyone think of other reasons?

    February 20, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  22. RichColorado

    Make sure we don't buy his book. How anyone can make money after doing such a disservice to his country is beyond me. How anyone can "Think" they can profit from these lies? The proceeds of this book should go to the soldiers families. It is the least he should do after creation of a fairy tale that not only killed thousands of innocent people, our soldiers, and arguably seeded an economic recession that created hardship on millions of people.

    February 20, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  23. Bessy

    Another great reason was G.W. Bush wanted to get even for what he considered the unfinished business of Daddy Bush. If you really read up on the subject you will learn that this war was always in his plan when he got elected.

    February 20, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  24. GOP = Greed Over People

    Spin it Rummy, spin it!

    It did morph into "We Meant Democracy" after all the shrub's lies "supported" by your "evidence your lies, were uncovered as regards to weapons of mass destruction!

    Unfortunately, 4800+ young Americans paid the ultimate price while you are on a book tour begging for bucks and making excuses!

    Very republican.

    February 20, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  25. Steve

    He always knew it was a lie, but was quite willing to use any means to achieve the US involvement in war.

    It was good for American Business, It satisfied the people's need for revenge, and he was able to carry out his own true hedonistic nature.

    He should have been on the gallows along with Saddam.

    February 20, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
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