In Rumsfeld's own words


Geraldine Sealey
March 16, 2004 2:12AM (UTC)

Donald Rumsfeld operates with the hope that Americans -- or maybe just American journalists on Sunday talk shows -- have short memories and lack the powers of Google and LexisNexis. On Sunday morning, CBS' Bob Schieffer asked Rumsfeld a reasonable question: "If Iraq did not have WMD, why did they pose an immediate threat to this country?" Rumsfeld countered with: "You and a few other critics are the only people I've heard use the phrase 'immediate threat.' I didn't...It's become kind of folklore that that's what happened."

Folklore, huh? Rumsfeld then issued this challenge: "If you have any citations, I'd like to see 'em." The New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, also on the CBS panel, obliged, reading Rumsfeld his own testimony to Congress in September 2002: "No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people" than Iraq and that "some have argued that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent [but] I would not be so certain."

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According to the transcript, Rumsfeld's response was: "Mm-hmm. It--my view of--of the situation was that he--he had--we--we believe, the best intelligence that we had and other countries had and that--that we believed and we still do not know--we will know." Center for American Progress has the video clip on today's Progress Report along with a complete rundown of administration officials' runarounds on WMD, the Saddam threat, and prewar intelligence from all the Sunday morning shows.


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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