Ford had problems with Bush Iraq policy
2 hours, 42 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - Former President Gerald R. Ford
questioned the Bush administration's rationale for the
U.S. invasion and war in Iraq in interviews he granted
on condition they not be released until after his
In his embargoed July 2004 interview with The
Washington Post, Ford said the Iraq war was not
justified, the Post reported Wednesday night.
Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current
president's justifications for invading Iraq and said
he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions,
much more vigorously, the Post's Bob Woodward wrote.
The story initially was posted on the newspaper's
"I don't think I would have gone to war," Ford told
Woodward a little more than a year after President
Bush launched the invasion.
In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not
only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney
Ford's White House chief of staff and then-Defense
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's
chief of staff and then his secretary of defense.
"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big
mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They
put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford
said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought
they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was
an error in how they should justify what they were
going to do."
In an interview given with the same ground rules to
the New York Daily News last May, Ford said he thought
Bush had erred by staking the invasion on claims
Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.
"Saddam Hussein was an evil person and there was
justification to get rid of him," he observed to the
Daily News. "But we shouldn't have put the basis on
weapons of destruction. That was a bad mistake. Where
does (Bush) get his advice?"
In the Daily News interview, Ford was more defensive
about Cheney and Rumsfeld. Asked why Cheney had tanked
in public opinion polls, he smiled. "Dick's a classy
guy, but he's not an electrified orator," Ford said.
The former president did not like Bush's domestic
"It may be a necessary evil," Ford conceded. "I don't
think it's a terrible transgression, but I would never
do it. I was dumbfounded when I heard they were doing
Woodward wrote in the Post that his interview took
place for a future book project, though the former
president said his comments could be published at any
time after his death.
In another interview released after his death, Ford
told CBS News in 1984 that he initially was against
using the phrase "long national nightmare" in his
first speech as president following Richard Nixon's
resignation, concerned that it was too harsh.
Ford said he reconsidered and sought his wife's
advice. "After thinking about it and talking to Betty
about it, we decided to leave it in and, boy, in
retrospect, I'm awfully glad we did," he said.
In the Daily News interview, Ford, a few weeks from
his 93rd birthday, showed frustration with the toll
health problems had taken on him, saying he thought
doctors were too strictly limiting what he could do.
At one point, he offered to share some butter pecan
ice cream, his favorite dessert, with his guest,
correspondent Thomas M. DeFrank.
Asked what his doctors would think about that, the
former president said, "We have it anyhow."
On the Net:
Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com
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