On the same day that he praised Al Jazeera, former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld had an incredibly contentious interview with the network. (Watch video above.)
Rumsfeld made news in late September by talking to Al Jazeera's David Frost and saying that he was "delighted" by the network's success. (This was quite the reversal for Rumsfeld, who had called Al Jazeera's Arabic network "vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable" during his tenure.) However, an interview with Al Jazeera English Washington bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara was filmed on the same day as the Frost interview. The conversation with Foukara did not air until Tuesday, and was an entirely different animal from Rumsfeld's friendlier talk with Frost.
Foukara asked Rumsfeld about, among other things, the Iraq war. He was very direct with his subject, asking straight out if he felt any responsibility for the deaths of innocent Iraqis because, in his words, the Bush administration "didn't secure the borders" of the country and sent in too few troops. Rumsfeld dismissed this suggestion.
"You keep making assertions that are fundamentally false," he said. "Correct me," Foukara replied. Rumsfeld insisted that all of the troop levels had been highly vetted on multiple levels. "Does that make the numbers right?" Foukara interjected.
"Do you want to yell or do you want an interview?" Rumsfeld shot back. "I'm having an interview, and I'm actually enjoying this interview," Foukara said, almost cheerfully. "You have a choice," Rumsfeld said. "You're being true to form."
Foukara attempted to ask his question again. He wondered if Rumsfeld felt responsibility felt responsibility for "tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis killed by the coalition," as well as by the "criminals" who Rumsfeld had blamed for much of the violence in the country. Rumsfeld didn't even attempt to answer the question. He accused Foukara of asking him "pejorative" questions, and told him he though it was in his "being" and "nature" to be disrespectful."
"This is not about me," Foukara said. "If you want to attack me personally, fine, but give me the answer to the question."
"Why should I do everything you want and you won't do anything I want?" Rumsfeld asked. "Because I'm the interviewer!" Foukara said.
Rumsfeld ultimately called the whole thing "worthless."
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