Andrea Mitchell Gets Angry At Rumsfeld Over Iraq War: 'Mr. Secretary, You Know What Stove-Piping Means.'
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When I saw that Rummy was going to be interviewed by Andrea Mitchell I figured it would a typical Beltway snore, complete with Rumsfeld trying to be his folksy, charming self and Andrea falling for it since he's long gone. I have to say it was anything but. Donald Rumsfeld probably thought he would still be treated like the political rock star he was to the Beltway media during the Bush years. You remember those press conferences? But something very strange happened. He didn't get the Hannity fanboy treatment. Mitchell came out swinging from the beginning of the interview and immediately blamed the Bush administration for taking Gaddafi off the terrorist list since Libya is in the news now and then pummeled him on his aw shucks, I don't know what you mean attitude to her questions about the lies which engulfed the Iraq war under his watch. She was dumbfounded when he said he didn't know what "stove-piping" meant. You could see from her expression it really got her goat. (About the 6:30 mark in the video)
Mitchell: One of the key factors was this source ‘Curveball.’
Rumsfeld: How do you know it was one of the key factors?
Mitchell: From all the reports, from all of the writing, the point was that without Curveball, Colin Powell said without being told this man, a single source, that he would not have made the speech that he made to the United Nations.
Rumsfeld. Right, and that's fair. The intelligence people, these are honorable people - George Tenet and John McLaughlin -
Mitchell: And all them in the Pentagon in your Office of Special Plans.
Rumsfeld: They had nothing to do with it. They were not intelligence gatherers. They did not have anything to do with Curveball at all. It would be a mistake to connect them. The people, the intelligence community gathered information from all kinds of people. Curveball was one of hundreds I'm sure. I’m not in the intelligence business so I can’t say precisely -
Mitchell: You actually created for the first time a special unit, this Office of Special Plans. It has been described as an intelligence –
Rumsfeld: The policy office created it.
Mitchell: On your order.
Rumsfeld: Not on my orders at all. I was advised they did that and there was nothing wrong with that. There were a handful of people in there, 2 or 3 people, interpreting intelligence. They weren't creating it, they weren’t gathering it. And I think the implication of your question I think isn't consistent with what I understand to be the facts.
Mitchell: According to subsequent reports, Inspector General’s reports, that intelligence unit, that analysis unit in the Pentagon was stove-piping information – intelligence information.
Rumsfeld: What does that mean? Stove-piping?
Mitchell: Mr. Secretary, you know what stove-piping means. It was keeping intelligence information away from other units. Not permitting people in the CIA -
Rumsfeld: Oh, not at all.
Mitchell: - and not permitting Colin Powell to know all of the factors.
Rumsfeld: That is not true. That is factually not true.
Mitchell: Tyler Drumheller, the former CIA analyst who has written -
Rumsfeld: Never heard of him, Tyler Drumfeller. But I do know is that when I heard about this office and what they were doing and they briefed me once – once is all as I recall, I said, you should brief George Tenet and they did. There was no secret about it – there was nothing mysterious.
Mitchell: You were only briefed once?
Rumsfeld: To my recollection. By this group. I was briefed every day by the CIA.
She continued to hound him on key points of information that were crucial to the run-up to the Iraq war and then he played dumb again when she questioned him about his involvement with torpedoing Gen. Shinseki and trying to squelch others from speaking out about the war. She was well prepared for Donald and quizzed him over his frightful decision to disband the Iraqi army which resulted in a brutal civil war that cost many innocent Iraqi lives as well as our many of our troops.
Mitchell: his replacement.
Rumsfeld: I did not announce his successor a year before. That is a myth that's been built up and many people have pointed out -
Mitchell: were you trying to send a signal to undercut General Shinseki?
Rumsfeld: I certainly was not.
Mitchell: So that people would know they could not dissent about what some would argue –
Rumsfeld: That’s absolute nonsense, Andrea. It just didn’t happen.
Mitchell: What about the decision to disband the Iraqi army?
Rumsfeld: What about it?
Mitchell: Do you take responsibility for that? You seem to be implying that Jerry Bremer was responsible for that. It could not have happened without your concurrence though.
Rumsfeld: You have a lot of conclusions that come from people not involved. I tried to write about it in an accurate way. I've got documentation on the website that supports it. The Iraqi army in large measure disbanded itself because you had something I think 11,000 Sunni generals.
Mitchell: They were defections, but there was a decision made.
Rumsfeld: Just a minute. And a group of Shia conscripts many of whom just went home. There's no question but that the coalition provisional authority, Jerry Bremer, made an announcement and is it a wrong decision? I don't think so. I think he probably, it's - there's arguments on both sides..
This interview is worth watching. I doubt anybody will attempt to question him like that again because he'll be careful not to make himself vulnerable. He's trying to repair his image with this book tour, but he's discovering that maybe it's not going to be such an easy sell to the Beltway crowd that once adored him. Andrea Mitchell certainly showed him no respect and I say Brava!