WASHINGTON, September 5 (RIA Novosti) – Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday that faulty intelligence in the run-up to the US-led war in Iraq – of which he was a key architect – is impacting the US government’s current push for military intervention in Syria.
“That experience unquestionably has affected some people’s judgment and attitude and impressions,” Rumsfeld told CNN in an interview.
Rumsfeld, who criticized US President Barack Obama for what he described as a lack of leadership during the current Syria crisis, also conceded that intelligence used to justify military action is not always correct, citing US intelligence about weapons of mass destruction allegedly held by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein that Washington used to defend the 2003 Iraqi invasion but which later proved to be false.
“You know if intelligence were a fact, it would be called a fact, and not intelligence,” Rumsfeld said. “ … It turned out that stockpiles were not found, that people were cautious and began to recognize that intelligence is intelligence and not necessarily a fact.”
The Obama administration claims it has intelligence giving it “high confidence” that an apparent chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 outside Damascus was carried out by the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and is pushing for a punitive military strike in response based on that intelligence.
Two weeks after the United States invaded Iraq, Rumsfeld told ABC News that Washington knows where Hussein’s alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction were located.
“They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat,” Rumsfeld said at the time. “Second, the facilities, there are dozens of them. It's a large geographic area.”
Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have said a military strike against Syrian targets would not place US soldiers on the ground in Syria and would not portend extended US involvement comparable to American operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have dragged on for more than a decade.