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Rumsfeld's Memoir: Known and Unknown and Untrue

The ex-defense secretary says he may have made a "few misstatements" about Iraq's WMDs. A few?!

| Tue Feb. 8, 2011 6:10 PM EST

In his new book, deftly titled Known and Unknown, former Defense Secreatry Donald Rumsfeld insists that he and the Bush-Cheney crew did not purposefully misrepresent the WMD case for the Iraq war: "The President did not lie. The Vice President did not lie. Tenet did not lie. Rice did not lie. I did not lie. The Congress did not lie. The far less dramatic truth is that we were wrong." He does acknowledge that he made a "few misstatements," referring specifically only to one: when he declared early in the war, "We know where they [the WMDs] are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

In the book, Rumsfeld claims that he should have referred to "suspect sites." But, he says, his "few misstatements" were "not common and certainly not characteristic." The intelligence at time regarding Iraq's WMDS, he writes now, was strong. Yet he cites a note he wrote to himself in August 2002 that the intel "could be wrong"—as if to demonstrate his prescience and open-mindedness. And he insists in the book that Saddam Hussein's purported (but nonexistent) WMD stockpile was "only one of the many reasons for the war."

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Rumsfeld is engaging in revisionism on these fronts. His incorrect statements about Iraq's WMDs were quite common. Even though he may have thought the intelligence could be wrong, he repeatedly declared in public there was no possibility Saddam was not neck-deep in WMDs. And he often said the reason for the war were Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. So, as a public service, here is a partial list of the many Rumsfeld "misstatements" that he does not address in his 813-page memoir.


Question: What do you make of the statement made by the Iraqi government yesterday that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction and is not developing any?

Rumsfeld: They are lying. Next.

Question: When you say that Iraq is lying. That story mentioned having weapons—

Rumsfeld: Sometimes I understate for emphasis....

Question: It was a two part thing, that were not developing and that they did not have any. Were they lying about one, or both?

Rumsfeld: No. They have them and they continue to develop them and they have weaponized chemical weapons, we know that. They've had an active program to develop nuclear weapons. It's also clear that they are actively developing biological weapons. I don't know what other kinds of weapons would fall under the rubric of weapons of mass destruction, but if there are more, I suspect they're working on them as well, even though I don't happen to know what they are. It is just false, not true, inaccurate and typical.

"There's no debate in the world as to whether they have those weapons."

Rumsfeld: They have chemical weapons and biological weapons and they have an appetite for nuclear weapons and have been working on them for a good many years, and that there's an awful lot we don't know about their programs.

Question: Mr. Secretary, what global terrorist networks do you believe that Iraq has relationships with? Is Al Qaeda one of those terrorist networks?

Rumsfeld: Sure. 

"The big thing that was there was the weapon of mass destruction issue, and [Saddam Hussein] had agreed, and the UN had agreed, that he would not have a WMD program. We know he does have one and he is continuing it."

"There's no debate in the world as to whether they have those weapons… We all know that. A trained ape knows that."

"There is no doubt in my mind but they currently have chemical and biological weapons."

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