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Ford had problems with Bush Iraq policy

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061228/ap_on_re_us/ford_iraq Ford had problems with Bush Iraq policy 2 hours, 42 minutes ago WASHINGTON - Former President Gerald
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 28, 2006
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061228/ap_on_re_us/ford_iraq

      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
      death.

      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
      Internet site.

      "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
      surveillance program.

      "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
      it."

      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

      CBS News: http://www.cbsnews.com
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