Don­ald Rums­feld

“Known and Un­known: A Mem­oir” (2011)

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK -

As we now know, por­tions of Pow­ell’s pre­sen­ta­tion about Iraq’s WMD pro­grams proved not to be ac­cu­rate, but some­thing in­ter­est­ing hap­pened over the years that fol­lowed. ... Over time, a nar­ra­tive devel­oped that Pow­ell was some­how in­no­cently mis­led into mak­ing a false dec­la­ra­tion to the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and the world. Pow­ell him­self later con­tended, in de­fense of his par­tic­i­pa­tion, “There were some peo­ple in the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity who knew at the time that some of th­ese sources were not good, and shouldn’t be re­lied upon, and they didn’t speak up. That dev­as­tated me.” When asked why th­ese peo­ple did not speak up, he replied, “I can’t an­swer that.”

Pow­ell had spent decades in uni­form and had be­come the most se­nior mil­i­tary of­fi­cer in our coun­try, and at ev­ery level he had spent long hours deal­ing with in­tel­li­gence. As Pres­i­dent Rea­gan’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, he rou­tinely had been ex­posed to re­port­ing and anal­y­sis from the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity. As sec­re­tary of state, his de­part­ment’s own in­tel­li­gence agency re­ported to him. There was no one else in the ad­min­is­tra­tion who had even a frac­tion of his ex­pe­ri­ence in in­tel­li­gence mat­ters, in­clud­ing CIA Di­rec­tor Tenet. Pow­ell was not duped or mis­led by any­body, nor did he lie about Sad­dam’s sus­pected WMD stock­piles. 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.

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