Lou Dobbs on Rumsfeld Questioning by McGovern
From Lou Dobbs on CNN:
A retired CIA officer [Ray McGovern] today refused to back down when he challenged Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on prewar intelligence on Iraq and the defense secretary's statements leading up to the war. The former CIA analyst, Ray McGovern, accused Rumsfeld of lying. Rumsfeld was repeatedly heckled during his speech in Atlanta. Jamie McIntyre has the report tonight from the Pentagon -- Jamie.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, it's a symbol of how Rumsfeld has become a lightning rod for criticism about the Iraq war. Protesters at his speech in Atlanta interrupted him several times, one holding a banner saying "guilty of war crimes."
And as you said, that retired CIA analyst, Ray McGovern, challenged Rumsfeld directly, accusing him of misrepresenting, of lying about the prewar intelligence. Here's a little of the exchange.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The president spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence people, and he went to the American people and made a presentation.
I'm not in the intelligence business. They gave the world their honest opinion. It appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said you knew where they were.
RUMSFELD: I did not. I said I knew where suspect sites were, and we were...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said you knew where they were, near Tikrit, near Baghdad, and north, east, south and west of there. Those are your words.
RUMSFELD: My words -- my words were that...
No, no, no. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Let him stay one second. Just a second.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is America, huh?
RUMSFELD: You're getting plenty of play, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd just like an honest answer.
RUMSFELD: I'm giving it to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're talking about lies and your allegation that there was bulletproof evidence of ties between al Qaeda and Iraq. Was that a lie or were you misled?
RUMSFELD: Zarqawi was in Baghdad during the prewar period. That is a fact.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Zarqawi? He was in the north of Iraq in a place where Saddam Hussein had no rule.
RUMSFELD: He was also. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's where he was.
RUMSFELD: He was also in Baghdad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, when he needed to go to the hospital. Come on. These people aren't idiots. They know the story.
MCINTYRE: All right. Well Rumsfeld there, usually very careful not to say anything that could come back to haunt him, but Ray McGovern, the CIA agent, was right when he referred to that quote which was a direct quote that Rumsfeld made on the ABC weekend show "This Week," in which an answer to a question about why they hadn't discovered weapons of mass destruction yet back in March of 2003, Rumsfeld said, "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad, and east, west, south and north somewhat."
He also said that, it's one of the sites where the U.S. had gone. They'd seen trucks coming in and out and said some of the WMDs were probably moved. Although, he quickly again qualified it and said, "I don't know that. We'll have to see."
But one thing about Rumsfeld is he is loathe to admit that he was wrong about anything. And this is another case where he was not only going to insist that he didn't lie, but he wouldn't even admit that the quote he gave at the time turned out to be incorrect -- Lou.
DOBBS: So, Ray McDonald (sic), in point of fact, pointed him out, pointed -- I'm sorry, Ray McGovern...
MCINTYRE: McGovern, right.
DOBBS: ... pointed out successfully to the defense secretary that he did, in fact, lie.
MCINTYRE: Well, lying means intentionally deceiving. You can certainly say something that turns out later to be inaccurate, and it may not have been an intentional lie. But the interesting thing about Rumsfeld he rarely even concedes that anything he said has turned out to be incorrect.
DOBBS: Well, let me ask you if he intentionally meant to say this or not, because I noticed as the defense secretary was speaking today he said, "I am not in the intelligence business."
MCINTYRE: Well, he is technically a consumer of intelligence.
DOBBS: Technically a consumer? Jamie, he has the preponderance of the budget for intelligence in this country. [Way to go Dobbs!]
MCINTYRE: Well, there is a debate about the Pentagon's own intelligence shop and to the extent that they either analyze existing intelligence or went out looking for their own intelligence. But again, Rumsfeld a difficult guy to pin down today.
DOBBS: Well, I'm going to pin this down.
DOBBS: When the secretary of defense says he is not in the intelligence business, that's a -- that's absolutely wrong!
DOBBS: Well, technically, he's one of the consumers of intelligence. He's supposed to...
DOBBS: Excuse me. Is he in charge of the Defense Intelligence Agency?
MCINTYRE: He is. And that agency is supposed to serve him by providing him with the intelligence that he can act on it.
DOBBS: oh, OK. I think I understand the distinction, Jamie, but it's one that I don't think is much of a difference, if you will. I think the -- I think the defense secretary utterly misspoke because he has the preponderance of the intelligence budget of the United States government.
MCINTYRE: Well, it will be interesting to hear what he says tomorrow, because one of the things he said in that was that he didn't say he knew where the weapons were, only where the suspect sites were. And as we know, that's clearly not what he said.
MCINTYRE: So, it will be interesting to see if he admits at least that much tomorrow.
DOBBS: You got it. And fascinating. And you know what? It's great to be in America, where folks can challenge our officials and do so successfully.
MCINTYRE: Well, give Rumsfeld credit, because they were about to remove this guy from the hall, and Rumsfeld did say, as you said, this is America and not do that that.
DOBBS: Yes, absolutely. And I think that, at least is -- leaves us reason, room to be buoyant.
Thank you very much.