As former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says in his new memoir, "Known and Unknown," he is not one for wrestling with remorse. “Never much of a handwringer,” he writes. When Mr. Rumsfeld does share moments of decisionmaking doubt, he tends to emphasize the role that “others” played in leading him or the American public astray. Throughout the memoir, Rumsfeld is not averse to settling some old scores.
Here are five mistakes that Rumsfeld acknowledges having made, and the people he wishes would get blamed right along with him.
David Hume Kennerly/AP/File
That said, he adds that he regrets not resigning as secretary of Defense in the wake of the scandal. “I now believe that this was a misjudgment on my part,” he writes. “Abu Ghraib and its follow-on effects, including the continued drumbeat of ‘torture’ maintained by partisan critics of the war and the President, became a damaging distraction.”
That does not mean, however, that Rumsfeld believes the administration bears any responsibility for these “inexcusable” acts. “Rather, they were the senseless crimes of a small group of prison guards who ran amok in the absence of supervision. To my knowledge, no one in the Pentagon had forewarning of the issues that gave rise to the abuses at Abu Ghraib.”
He does take a moment to single out some Democrats who particularly displeased him during this period, however, including the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. “For a senior senator to equate the perverted escapades of a handful of guards on the midnight shift with the routine practices of rape, torture, and murder in Saddam’s prisons was appalling, even by the low standards of a political season.”
Rumsfeld also takes a number of swipes at former Army Chief of Staff and current Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gen. Eric Shinseki, who angered the Bush administration when he told Congress that America had needed more troops in Iraq.
Shinseki “had been in charge,” he writes, “when the original deficiencies in training, selection of senior personnel and establishing [command] headquarters occurred.” He also expresses his displeasure with Hillary Rodham Clinton, “the junior senator from New York, who was castigating the administration over the scandal.”
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