Rumsfeld: I should have resigned after Abu Ghraib
posted at 11:36 am on February 8, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
Actually, Donald Rumsfeld did resign as Secretary of Defense after Abu Ghraib — twice. George W. Bush refused to accept both times, keeping Rumsfeld on at the Pentagon, where he turned into a lightning rod for criticism of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. ABC released the first part of Rumsfeld’s interview with Diane Sawyer (part 2 comes tomorrow), and Rumsfeld now believes that the country would have been better off if his former boss had taken his first offer:
But his biggest regret was staying in office during what he calls a period of “damaging distraction,” as photos of abused detainees at Abu Ghraib circulated around the globe. He twice wrote letters of resignation to the president, but was convinced to stay on both times.
“That was such a stain on our country,” he told Sawyer. “To think that people in our custody were treated in that disgusting and perverted and ghastly way — unacceptable way.”
“There wasn’t an easy target,” he added. “And so I stepped up and told the president I thought I should resign. And I think probably he and the military and the Pentagon and the country would’ve been better off if I had.”
Interestingly, Rumsfeld isn’t willing to go quite that far on the issue that did result in his eventual departure, troop level commitments in Iraq. He considers it “possible” that he was mistaken on troop levels, an odd construct considering the success of the “surge” after his departure, although Rumsfeld at least leaves the possibility open. He openly scoffs at the notion that he ran the Pentagon through “intimidation,” noting “these are people with stars on their shoulders! … Patriots!”
Rumsfeld also defends the use of harsh interrogation tactics in his interview, saying that they “saved lives.” But he also admits that interrogators went past his orders with at least one detainee, Mohammed al-Qahtani:
Qahtani would be subjected to sexual humiliation and long periods of sleep deprivation and isolation while in custody at Guantanamo, and his heartbeat at one point dropped to 35 beats per minute.
Rumsfeld said he only learned the details of such treatment after the fact — and that interrogators went further than he had authorized.
“I didn’t approve any of that,” Rumsfeld said in the interview. “And when I found out that they had done some of those things, the people who had done things that had not been approved were dealt with. They were stopped and prosecuted.”
I just received Rumsfeld’s book, Known and Unknown: A Memoir, which I will try to read before going to Washington DC this week. Rumsfeld was one of the most fascinating figures of the Bush administration, which definitely comes through in this interview, and his memoir should be equally interesting.
This entry was posted on February 8, 2011 by Various Writers. It was filed under America's Freedoms, Americans Reject Sharia and Islamic Supremacism, Classified Intelligence, Education, Intelligence, Learn from History, Military Veterans, Most Americans Reject Socialism, National Security, Nuclear Security, Politics, Progressives pushing for Marxism/Socialism, Terrorism and was tagged with ABCNews, Abu Ghraib, Diane Sawyer, Donald Rumsfeld, Iraq War, memoirs, Republicans, Secretary of Defense-Bush Admin.