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Rumsfeld Distances Himself from Iraq Invasion


There comes a point in a bloggers life, approximately Sunday evening at ten-ish, when a post comes along that needs to be transcribed in full. Its lazy, oh it is, and I stole it from thinkprogress here.

Ill react at the end once I've recovered from the tough task of transcribing an entire post.

In a striking sign of faltering U.S. efforts in Iraq, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is now trying to distance himself from the decision to invade Iraq.

In last Sunday’s Washington Post, Rumsfeld downplayed his role significantly:

For there comes a point when even the secretary of defense must realize that “it’s not your decision or even your recommendation,” Rumsfeld reflected with Woodward. By which he meant the Iraq war wasn’t Don Rumsfeld’s decision or recommendation.

Rumsfeld went even further this morning on ABC’s “This Week,” telling George Stephanopoulos that he “didn’t advocate invasion” and in fact, “wasn’t asked” about the decision. [Full transcript below.]

Rumsfeld can’t rewrite history. The truth is, as early as 1998, he signed a letter urging President Clinton to turn his attention “to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power. This will require a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts.”

Hours after the 9/11 attacks, Rumsfeld was already urging his aides “to come up with plans for striking Iraq — even though there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks.” According to notes, he wanted “best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only [Osama bin Laden].”

Indeed, a Newsweek article from September 2002 described Rumsfeld as “the most visible and certainly the most colorful frontman for attacking Iraq.”

Full ABC transcript:

STEPHANOPOULOS: If you had known that no weapons of mass destruction would be found, would you have advocated invasion?

RUMSFELD: I didn’t advocate invasion.


RUMSFELD: No, I wasn’t asked. If you read all the books and the things —

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why weren’t you asked? That’s very puzzling.

RUMSFELD: Well, I’m sure the president understood what my views were. But as a technical matter, did he ever look and say, “What should we do? Should we go do this or not do that?” This something the president thought through very carefully.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you trying to distance yourself from the war with that –

RUMSFELD: Of course not. Of course not. I agreed completely with the decision to go to war and said that a hundred times. And don’t — don’t even suggest that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I’m just asking.

RUMSFELD: Well, you know better.

My own reaction, aside from the obvious distaste for a man without the cajones to stand up and be responsible for his actions, is that this is very telling of thinking in the White House. First the Nuremburg trial defence is simply not going to cut it for a character of the power and stature of Rumsfeld, a war was much farther away without Rumsfeld advocating it. As thinkprogress pointed out above, the guy is cited across the web and MSM as being a major player in the whole Iraq Episode.

Rumsfeld has form of distancing himself from known history. I am thinking particularly of the T.V. footage of him meeting Saddam in the 80s to sell him some weapons, that footage has rarely come to bite him over the course of his current stint in office except when Michael Moore made Farenheit 9//11 and even then the fallout didnt catch Rumsfeld. He is one of politics great snakes. There is little to trap him down and little he cannot slither from. So to see him turn his great talent of separating him from his actions sends signals that many who inhabited the administration but were never "of" it are prepared to move on.

While their intentions for the Presidential term lie in bits, at the feet of Iraqi insurgents, public disaffection, internal malpractice/corruption and an imploding public policy agenda, the men and women who were seen as the real power behind the President are moving on. Rumsfeld has proved more adept than most at keeping ahead of the curve and his machinations to be the first to jump from the sinking Iraq ship suggest that he is thinking ahead to 2008.

As I said, he has a knack of being unassociated with negativity in the public psyche. This seems to be more of the same, it seems as though it is directed at 2008 and perhaps another tilt at the portfolio.


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  1. Blogger David R. Mark | 7:24 p.m. |  

    Agreed. Rumsfeld's interview was odd, to say the least. I have a similar entry over at JABBS. I'd welcome your feedback.

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