Bush officials: Good job Obama but...
May 3rd, 2011
02:13 PM ET
11 years ago

Bush officials: Good job Obama but...

Washington (CNN) - Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld applauded the successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden under the Obama administration, but also highlighted the pivotal role their team played in the search for America's most wanted terrorist.

"It was also important that President Bush put in place counterterrorism strategies and policies, efforts that the military and intelligence have been making over the years," Rice told CNN's "American Morning" on Tuesday. "To work together better to achieve that kind of level of integration didn't happen yesterday. This is something that has been happening for quite a long time."

Rice said that the discovery of bin Laden's whereabouts was made possible by intelligence gathered during the Bush administration, pointing to how the roundup of al Qaeda field generals such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in 2003 and Abu Faraj al Libi in 2005, helped provide the link to bin Laden's courier, who ultimately lead C.I.A operatives to the compound where bin Laden was staying.

"We all have to realize that war on terror, the fight against terrorists, is a tough fight, and the key is information," Rice said. "Now let's remember that in the early days, we knew very little about how al Qaeda operated and the roundup of their field generals like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed let us not just to learn that there was a courier, I remember when they learned there was a courier who might be a link to Osama bin Laden, but we also learned from those people about the structure of al Qaeda unfolding plot lines."

In a CNN interview on Tuesday, Rumsfeld recalled when the Bush administration was criticized for keeping seemingly low-level prisoners, who were drivers, chauffeurs, couriers, or bodyguards at Guantanamo Bay and defended Bush-era interrogation methods on detainees, such as waterboarding, saying such techniques were ultimately "enormously valuable" for intelligence gathering.

"It is those people that know the habits and locations of the senior people. It is a good thing that the people were held and that there were interrogations," Rumsfeld said. "That information was patched together over a period of time."

In Rumsfeld's opinion, the new reality following bin Laden's death does not necessarily change the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

"I think Osama bin Laden will be replaced by a successor. If we capture and kill them, that individual will be replaced. The people are determined. They are vicious. They are capable of raising money and recruiting people and training them to go out and kill innocent men, women, and children," Rumsfeld said.

Another member of the Bush administration, Retired Gen. Colin Powell, who served as secretary of state under Bush, told CNN on Monday that Obama handled the situation brilliantly.

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soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Mom to 3

    SO disgusting that RIce and Rumsfeld would use this as an occasion to promote waterboarding. The information gained from Khalid Mohammed was NOT obtained from waterboarding. We basically tricked/manipulated him during a regular interrogation using information we already had (which may or may not have been obtained by torturing a bunch of low level people who may nor may not have even been terrorists - is that really how we want to conduct ourselves??). On top of that, the Bush administration basically gave up looking for Bin Laden when they decided to focus on starting another war in Iraq instead. Bush's famous quote of "I don't know where he is - I don't think about him" says a lot. Seven years went by. Finding Bin Laden was simply not a priority for the Bush administration. President Obama renewed the focus on finding Bin Laden and we were successful within two years. The Bush administration had VERY, VERY little to do with it. It is laughable that Rice and Rumsfeld are trying to insert themselves and the rest of the Bush administration into this now and trying to justify waterboarding while they are at it. Give it up!! OBAMA 2012!!

    May 3, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    People get a life! ALL Bush did was start this mess now it's left up to others to clean it up. The only people who deserve credit for this is the soldiers who put their lives on the line and the families they leave behind. Everyone else should stop patting themselves on the back or try to take credit for something they didn't do!!!!! I saw that we all GIVE a BIG THANK YOIU to every soldier you see!!!!!!!!!!

    May 3, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  3. S. In California - Obama 2012

    This is how the history books will read:

    Abraham Lincoln: President / Success in Civil War
    Franklin D. Roosevelt: President / Success in WWII
    George H.W. Bush: President / Colin Powell HERO of Gulf War
    George W. Bush: President / Orchestrator of Iraq war of which NO weapons of mass destruction were EVER found but killed Hussien; and
    Barack Obama: President / Captured and killed BL without ANY LOSS of American lives

    These ARE THE FACTS. They can lie ALL they want. This is what people will see and remember.

    May 3, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  4. Charles

    Liars suffixing again. Gee give Obama the credit he deserves and stop the spin.I dont care whether Obama looses or win but lets have a little bit of decency my christian friends.

    May 3, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The intelligence was only gathered in the past 2 years (4 years tops). It wasn't gain through interrogations either from what I have read. So, big deal that they did what ever they did. They didn't do enough to get it done and didn't focus on him at all.

    May 3, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  6. KevBro

    Loving the idea of disposing of remains at sea, no doubt the right wing smear merchants will try to use it for manipulating the weak minded, speaking of the weak minded whatever happened to Trump?

    May 3, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  7. Joan

    Would someone ask Ms. Rice if they knew this information from a detainee in 2003 during Bush's presidency why they didn't act on it then? Also, if they suspected he was in Pakistan during Bush's reign, why did they take their eyes off the ball in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region and put the focus, troops and trillions of dollars into Iraq? It has been said many times that Bush said on into his presidency that it wasn't as important any more to get Bin Laden and he de-emphasized that aspect of the mission. Is that true? In 2008 Pres. Obama said he wanted to get Bin Laden and apparently told his security team to make it a priority. Thank goodness Pres. Obama focusses on the important issues and follows through. As Brennen said, it was a "gutsy" move by the President and will go down in history as one of the most important decisions made by any president.

    May 3, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  8. S. In California - Obama 2012

    Even though I didn't agree with Condoleezza's politics, I did think she was intelligent and I was proud of the position she achieved. I no longer find her intelligent or credible. I find her to be very ignorant. She just can't get over her love affair with George. She's a major embarrassment to most black people (not because of her politics) but because of the way she consistently lies. She will never again have any respect from me.

    May 3, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  9. C. Howe Yulikit

    Oh just shut up with the "Me Too!" garbage. And the info came during regular interrogations. If anything the Waterboarding delayed the access to the info.

    May 3, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  10. OneMoreTime

    Poor old pathetic things, still beating their drums and gums. Talk all you want, the American people know what you
    did, and worse, what you did not do. You had eight years, you failed, now live with it while the rest of us pick up
    the pieces and try to heal the pain you caused.

    May 3, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  11. Carl

    President Bush was a stammering idiot throughout his dealing with Osama bin Laden. It became apparent that he had "little wiener" syndrome with all of the immature braggadocio about "wanted dead or alive" and "mission accomplished". President Obama appears to have the focus of an adult with the burdens of being the President of the USA. President Bush always seemed to be begging to be accepted as "cool" – but knew that he was the little dork being laughed at. America will be “fundamentally” changed – God bless you – God bless the United States of America.

    May 3, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  12. KevBro

    These GOP folks are amazing, first they say the ailing economy and the debt is all Mr Obama's fault, then they are tripping over themselves to try and take credit for OBL's demise. Typical GOP hypocrisy; always wanting it both ways.

    Not this time folks ! Americans can see the obvious

    May 3, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  13. Howard

    If it wasn't for the INTEL from the Bush term, Obama would not have found bin Ladin. That INTEL came from GITMO, you know, the place Obama wanted to close. That INTEL resluted from interrogations ... you know the interograions Obama wanted to stop.

    Obama is an shameful opportunist and narcissist, who will gladly take all the credit, regardles of contributions by anyone else ... while conveniently avoiding responsibility, by blaming problems and defeats on everybody else. I doubt if Obama will concede to the fact that Bush's actions contributed to the bin Laden killing. Like the story of the scorpion and the frog, It's simply Obama's nature to feed his huge ego at all costs. So, I can only assume that George Bush will continue to be Obama's favorite whipping boy ... and the excuse for all Obama's short comings.

    Obama probably did not release photos and video at this time, so when he releases them later, so he can string out this story, continue getting more credit, and milk it for every last drop of media coverage he can. And, it was Obama's AG, Eric Holder, who wanted to prosecute the CIA operatives who interrogated the detainees at GITMO.

    From Audacity of Hope:

    "I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction." – Barack Obama

    May 3, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  14. Troy

    Not a big fan of Bush or his time as president, but he has to get some of the credit since the data was collected on his watch and passed off to Obama. This was how the governement should work if there wasnt all this silly infighting. A great job to Bush's team and Obama's!

    May 3, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  15. payback

    ...If they choose to give credit to bush... and not so much to President Obama...They should also, say, that bush, should take responsibility for the ECONOMIC MESS. He left the country in................................................

    May 3, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  16. they call me "tater salad"

    Knew it wouldn't take long for Bush's little hand puppets to try to take credit..........Bottom line, Obama got it done in a little over 2 years while history will show that you clowns FAILED to get a whiff of this guy in 8 years of trying..........So eat it, you can't change what is a proven FACT!!!!!

    May 3, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  17. bertha59

    Okay, so when the Bush administration gathered the intel in 2003 and 2005...by 2008 they had not captured or killed bin Laden yet. You know what? I am sick and tired of the GOP and partiers minimizing President Obama's accomplishments...and there are so many more than Bush. All Bush did was invade two countries, destabilized these two countries, run the surplus left by Clinton into the deep dark red abyss, and made sure big business and the wealthy did not pay their share of taxes.

    May 3, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
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