Blogs > Cliopatria > Did Donald Rumsfeld Ever Say that Iraq Was an "Immediate Threat"?

Mar 24, 2004 11:02 pm

Did Donald Rumsfeld Ever Say that Iraq Was an "Immediate Threat"?

From the "Notebook" in the New Republic (March 18, 2004):

For months, the Bush administration has insisted it never said the threat from Iraq was imminent. So we were gratified to see Donald Rumsfeld stumble and fall when confronted by Bob Schieffer and Thomas Friedman on "Face the Nation" this Sunday. In response to a straightforward question--Schieffer asked, "If [Iraq] did not have these weapons of mass destruction, though, ... why then did they pose an immediate threat to us, to this country?"--Rumsfeld said:

Well, you're the--you and a few other critics are the only people I've heard use the phrase 'immediate threat.' I didn't. The president didn't. And it's become kind of folklore that that's--that's what's happened. ... If you have any citations, I'd like to see 'em.

Then, like a gift from the Gods of Nexis, Friedman produced such a citation:

Friedman: We have one here. It says "some have argued that the nu"--this is you speaking--"that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent, that Saddam is at least five to seven years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain."

Rumsfeld: And--and--

Friedman: It was close to imminent.

Rumsfeld: Well, I've--I've tried to be precise, and I've tried to be accurate. I'm s--suppose I've--

Friedman: "No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."

Rumsfeld: Mm-hmm. It--my view of--of the situation was that he--he had--we--we believe, the best intelligence that we had and other countries had and that--that we believed and we still do not know--we will know.

Perhaps that will put the "imminence" debate to rest--once and for all.

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Tim Wright - 4/2/2004

Ahhhhh. That felt good.