Just this week, White House spokesman Scott McClellan lashed out at critics saying "Some in the media have chosen to use the word 'imminent'. Those were not words we used." But a closer look at the record shows that McClellan himself and others did use the phrase "imminent threat"[...]
It's not just McClellan who should be dining here. Rumsfeld was looking for a round room on Face the Nation (pdf transcript here) yesterday as Bob Schieffer and Thomas Friedman backed him into a corner using the dastardly method of actual previous quotes! [emphasis mine]
SCHIEFFER: The--the president ordered this invasion, as the world knows, because he said there were weapons of mass destruction, and he said they posed a threat to this country.
Knowing what we now know, Mr. Secretary, do you think it was still wise to take this
invasion? Did Iraq pose an immediate threat to this country?
Sec. RUMSFELD: Bob, the answer is I do believe it was the--it was the--the right thing to do.
And I'm--I'm glad it's done. The 25 million Iraqi people have been liberated. A regime, a
vicious regime, is gone after decades of repression and death squads and--and mass graves and mass killings, a country that used chemical weapons on its neighbors and on its own people, that fired ballistic missiles into several of its neighboring countries. It's a good thing they're gone. And--and...
SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just ask you this. If they did not have these weapons of mass
destruction, though, granted all of that is true, why then did they pose an immediate threat to us, to this country?
Sec. RUMSFELD: 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. The president went...
SCHIEFFER: You're saying that nobody in the administration said that.
Sec. RUMSFELD: I--I can't speak for nobody--everybody in the administration and say
nobody said that.
SCHIEFFER: Vice president didn't say that? The...
Sec. RUMSFELD: Not--if--if you have any citations, I'd like to see 'em.
Mr. 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.'
Sec. RUMSFELD: And--and...
Mr. FRIEDMAN: It was close to imminent.
Sec. RUMSFELD: Well, I've--I've tried to be precise, and I've tried to be accurate. I'm s--suppose I've...
Mr. FRIEDMAN: `No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world and the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.'
Sec. 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. David Kay said we're about 85 percent there. I don't know if that's the right percentage. But the Iraqi Survey Group--we've got 1,200 people out there looking. It's a country the size of California. He could have hidden his--enough chemical or biol--enough biological weapons in the hole that--that we found Saddam Hussein in to kill tens of thousands of people. So--so it's not as though we have certainty today.
But what--think what happened. There were 17 UN resolutions. There was unanimous
agreement that he had filed a fraudulent declaration. The final opportunity was given with the last resolution, and he didn't take it. He chose war. He didn't do what Kazakhstan did. He didn't do what South Africa did. He didn't do what Ukraine did. He--he didn't say, `Come in and look and see what we have.' He was engaged in active deception. We'll ultimately know a great deal about what took place.
SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, David Kay--you mentioned David Kay--he said last week that the president should simply come clean with the American people. He said--he told The Guardian newspaper in--in England, `The president should say, "We were simply mistaken and we're determined to find out why,"' and he said, `Until we say that, it's going to hurt American credibility and delay reforms in intelligence which simply need to be done.'
Sec. RUMSFELD: Well, I--I didn't see the full statement that he made, but I would say this about that. First of all, there are lessons being learned about intelligence and--and the Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence community have engaged in a lessons-learned process. And there isn't any delay as that sic--statement suggests in addressing those issues to the extent they're known at this point.
Second, David Kay, by his own testimony, indicated that he thought we know about 85
percent of what we'd know. That's a--an estimate. I--by his own testimony, it's an estimate. And we have imp--very talented people out there working very hard to learn whatever else there is to know. And I think it's perfectly proper to reserve final judgment until we've been able to go through that process, run down those leads and see what actually took place. If--if--the--the president has said essentially what--what David Kay said, that--that, thus far, we know what's been delivered and what's been discussed publicly and we suspect there's more to be learned. And--and that's why we're spending so much time and effort interrogating people and--and there are millions of documents yet to reviewed, literally millions of documents.
Is calling someone a liar still slander/libel if it's true?