God, I am enjoying the circular firing squad that is the Bush administration struggling to lift their individual heads above the slime that surrounds them. Implicit in this clamoring is the acknowledgment that they know they are part of this slime. Donald Rumsfeld is one of the first out of the gate to try to rehab his image and did so by going after the two members of the Bush administration who went out with the highest approval ratings, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice:
In his first television interview since leaving public service in 2006, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gives candid criticism of his fellow Bush administration officials, former Secretary of States Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. [..]
Powell, President George W. Bush's first secretary of state, "did not, in my view, do a good job of managing the people under him," Rumsfeld said [..]."There was a lot of leaking out of the State Department, and the president knew it," he reportedly said. "And it was unhelpful. And most of it ended up making the State Department look good. We didn't do that in the Pentagon. I insisted we not do it."
Rumsfeld was criticized during his tenure as defense secretary for his tight rein on information relating to the war on terrorism. This week, in conjunction with the release of his new memoir "Known and Unknown," Rumsfeld is releasing online nearly 2,000 documents from his career in public service. They span his time in Congress, in the Ford and Nixon administrations, the 9/11 attacks and the build up to the Iraq war.
Rumsfeld acknowledged that "the intelligence was certainly wrong" with respect to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. However, he said that the military and the Bush administration -- including Powell -- had faith in the intelligence at the time.
"There's a lot of stuff [in] the press that say Colin Powell was against [the war]," he said. "But I never saw even the slightest hint of that."
"The idea that he was lying or duped is nonsense," Rumsfeld added.
Rumsfeld said "it's possible" that decisions on troop levels in Iraq may have been the biggest mistake of the war. He maintained that the war overall was not a mistake.
"I think the world's a better place with Saddam Hussein gone and with the Taliban gone and the al Qaeda out of Afghanistan," he said.
Rumsfeld was also critical of Powell's successor, Condoleezza Rice, for her lack of experience in government.
"She'd never served in a senior administration position," he said. "She'd been an academic. And, you know, a lot of academics like to have meetings. And they like to bridge differences and get people all to be happy."
Rumsfeld feels no similar compunction to make people happy. He reportedly caused Rice to burst into tears at the prospect of meeting with him:
Miss Rice tried repeatedly to organise a meeting with the most senior figures in the government to discuss the tribunals, but Mr Rumsfeld twice refused to attend, sending his deputy Paul Wolfowitz instead.
Pulitzer prize winning author Barton Gellman writes: "He did not regard her as an equal and barely hid it. The opinions of her staff did not interest him."
On finding Mr Rumsfeld absent from a second meeting, CIA director George Tenet was so angry that he defied a direct order from Miss Rice to sit down and marched out of the meeting, declaring: "This is bullshit."
The book goes on: "Something happened to Rice's face, control melting away. Her eyes welled up and her next words caught in her throat. The men in the room did not know where to look.
'She started to cry,' said one of them. 'And she said - I can't remember the exact words because I was so shaken - something like: "We will talk about this again," and she turned and walked quickly out of the door.'"
So when Fareed Zakaria asks Rice about Rumsfeld's less-than-glowing reports of the job she did, Rice simply gets a tight smile and says that Donnie--who has carefully crafted an "aw shucks" persona in the media--is just a grumpy guy and doesn't know what he's talking about.
But the best part? She tells Fareed to wait for her book to find out what she really thinks about Rumsfeld. The circular firing squad is about to load up again.