March 6, 2003
Iraq a Terrorist State? Rumsfeld Doesn't Know
An excerpt from an interview with U.S. Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld by The BBC's David Dimbleby:
Donald Rumsfeld: ...The critical issue is the relationship between weapons of terrorist states, which Iraq is, by everyone's agreement -
David Dimbleby: America took it off the list of terror states 20 years ago.
DR: I don't know that. I accept -
DD: When you - when you - sorry. When you visited Iraq and negotiated with Saddam Hussein, when America wanted Saddam Hussein for its own purposes, America took Iraq off the list of terrorist states and, indeed, supplied it with the wherewithal to make the chemical weapons they're now trying to remove.
DR: I've read that type of thing, but I don't know where you get your information, and I don't believe it's correct. They may have been taken off. I was a private businessman. I was asked for a few months to assist after the 241 Marines were killed in Beirut, Lebanon. And I did meet with Saddam Hussein. I did not give him or sell him or bring him any chemical weapons or any biological weapons, as some of the European press likes to print. It's just factually not true.
Now, whether or not the United States at some point, when I was not part of the government, decided to take him off a terrorist list, you may be right. In fact, I -
DD: Are you saying you don't know, you didn't know when you went there whether he was on the list of terror states or not? You were trying to reopen -
DR: I believe he was.
DD: - a relationship between the United States and Iraq.
DR: That's right. And I believe he was on the list of terrorist states when I went there.
DD: We're being diverted a bit here, but let's just go into this, because it's another of the causes of a lack of credibility, or a credibility gap that you particularly have to fill, that you were there and met the man.
DR: I was there with the President and Secretary Shultz to meet with him and to see it was one of the few Middle Eastern countries that had not re-established relationships with the United States after the earlier Middle East war.
DD: But you aren't saying that you weren't aware that he was using chemical weapons, because the Secretary of State at the time had said they were using them.
DR: I was certainly aware of that. I didn't say I wasn't aware of that. I said I was not aware that the United States gave him, as you suggested, or I gave him, and that I had some burden to bear. That's just utter nonsense.
DD: I'm not suggesting you had a burden to bear. I was saying that there was one of the reasons you lacked -
DR: You said you particularly.
DD: No, you went and talked to the man.
DR: I did.
DD: But what I'm suggesting is that the United States in the world outside, over and over again people say, well, now they're trying to get rid of the weapons, as Jesse Jackson put it when he was at Hyde Park Corner a week ago, for which the United States has the receipts. I mean, that's the problem, that you created this monster, evil, as you know -
DR: You who?
DD: You, the United States, not you personally.
complete transcript of the interview can be found here:
BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
otherwise noted, all original