Donald Rumsfeld Says Iraq War Intelligence 'Part Of The Problem' With Syria, But Denies Manipulation

Posted: Updated:

Former Secretary Of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday that the failure of Iraq War intelligence was "part of the problem" in convincing other countries to join in an attack on Syria, but denied that pre-war intelligence for Iraq was in any way manipulated.

"I suppose it's part of the problem," Rumsfeld said on CNN's "New Day" of how Iraq intelligence failures affect the chance for a Syria strike.

"You know if intelligence were a fact, it would be called a fact, and not intelligence," he said. "And I think when Colin Powell went before the United Nations with George Tenet, the director of intelligence, and talked about the intelligence they had in great detail, and then it turned out that stockpiles were not found, that people were cautious and began to recognize that intelligence is intelligence and not necessarily a fact."

Rumsfeld moved to criticize President Barack Obama, saying he didn't think Iraq was really the problem in terms of forming a coalition around a Syria strike. "I think what's going on here is almost any president in my adult life I think would have provided stronger leadership and greater clarity, and as a result generated broader support in the international community and in the country and in the Congress," he said.

Just after the Iraq invasion, Rumsfeld seemed very sure of the intelligence the U.S. government had. "We know where they are," he said of the WMDs in an ABC News interview in 2003. "They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat. Second, the facilities, there are dozens of them. It's a large geographic area."

Speaking to CNN Thursday, Rumsfeld denied that the pre-war Iraq intelligence was manipulated. "If you'll recall, the Congress looked at the same intelligence and came to the same conclusions. And there were Democrats who supported it, including very prominent Democrats who enthusiastically supported it," he said.

As for those who claimed intelligence wasn't as clear-cut as the administration made it out to be, Rumsfeld said, "So I think that there may be people on the fringe who say the kind of thing that you're saying, but I don't think anyone responsible has said anything like that."

The Downing Street Memo, a document from a July 2002 meeting with information from a British intelligence officer on his talks with CIA Director George Tenet and other American officials, contradicts Rumsfeld's claim. "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy," the officer "C" reported.

While in office, Rumsfeld set up a special unit to secure intelligence while bypassing the typical channels, the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh reported in 2003. "After he became Secretary of Defense, a separate intelligence unit was set up in the Pentagon’s policy office, under the control of William Luti, a senior aide to Feith. This office, which circumvented the usual procedures of vetting and transparency, stovepiped many of its findings to the highest-ranking officials," Hersh wrote.

Also on HuffPost:

Close
Here's What Politicians Have Said About Syria
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

Donald Rumsfeld Dismisses His Role In Iraq War To Ask For Syrian ...

As Syria looms large, Rumsfeld squirms on Iraq in new film - France 24

Donald Rumsfeld, Iraq War Architect, Is Skeptical of Intervening in ...

Rumsfeld, architect of Iraq war, says Obama hasn't yet justified Syria ...

NBC's Guthrie to Rumsfeld: Do You Take 'Responsibility' for 'Specter ...

Even Donald Rumsfeld says Obama has not justified attack on Syria

Rumsfeld calls Obama's Syria strategy 'mindless' - USA Today

Rumsfeld: On Syria, Obama's 'leadership has lacked a vision ...

Rumsfeld slams Obama on Syria, calls him weakest president in his ...

Rumsfeld concedes Iraq War influences Syria debate

As Syria looms large, Rumsfeld squirms on Iraq in new film

Donald Rumsfeld, Iraq War Architect, Is Skeptical of Intervening in Syria

Obama under pressure to make the case for strikes against Syria amid fears he ...

Donald Rumsfeld to White House: Justify Syria attack

Jon Stewart Returns To "The Daily Show," Compares Obama's Syria Plans To ...

Maureen Dowd: Decade of war in Iraq makes us hesitate on Syria

Austerity Is for the Little People: Syria Edition

History lesson: When the United States looked the other way on chemical weapons