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Woodward: Ford Justified Iraq Differently

The ghoulish Bob Woodward couldn’t even wait for Mr. Ford to be interred before cashing in on his death with yet another piece of disinformation.

From the DNC’s house organ, the Washington Post:

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gives former President Gerald Ford the latest information on the situation in South Vietnam, during a meeting at the White House, April 29, 1975.

Ford Disagreed With Bush About Invading Iraq

By Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 28, 2006; Page A01

Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. "I don’t think I would have gone to war," he said a little more than a year after President Bush launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford’s own administration.

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., 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. 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 Pentagon chief.

"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 a conversation that veered between the current realities of a war in the Middle East and the old complexities of the war in Vietnam whose bitter end he presided over as president, Ford took issue with the notion of the United States entering a conflict in service of the idea of spreading democracy.

"Well, I can understand the theory of wanting to free people," Ford said, referring to Bush’s assertion that the United States has a "duty to free people." But the former president said he was skeptical "whether you can detach that from the obligation number one, of what’s in our national interest." He added: "And I just don’t think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security."

The Ford interview — and a subsequent lengthy conversation in 2005 — took place for a future book project, though he said his comments could be published at any time after his death. In the sessions, Ford fondly recalled his close working relationship with key Bush advisers Cheney and Rumsfeld while expressing concern about the policies they pursued in more recent years.

"He was an excellent chief of staff. First class," Ford said. "But I think Cheney has become much more pugnacious" as vice president. He said he agreed with former secretary of state Colin L. Powell’s assertion that Cheney developed a "fever" about the threat of terrorism and Iraq. "I think that’s probably true."

Describing his own preferred policy toward Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Ford said he would not have gone to war, based on the publicly available information at the time, and would have worked harder to find an alternative. "I don’t think, if I had been president, on the basis of the facts as I saw them publicly," he said, "I don’t think I would have ordered the Iraq war. I would have maximized our effort through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever, to find another answer." …

Note that despite the headlines and the spin given this piece, Ford is merely saying that the invasion of Iraq should not have been based solely upon the threat of Saddam having or developing weapons of mass destruction.

This is a position that Gerald Ford had iterated several times before in interviews, such as this one from a reporter for the New York Daily News from just seven months ago:

Last lunch with a legend

Speaks candidly about the WMDs and war in Iraq


Daily News Washington Bureau Chief Thomas M. DeFrank interviewed Gerald Ford more than three dozen times during the late President’s retirement years. He saw Ford in November at his California home and spent more than two hours with him May 11 [2007] for this, his final interview.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Cal. … Ford was a few weeks shy of his 93rd birthday as we chatted for about 45 minutes. He’d been visited by President Bush three weeks earlier and said he’d told Bush he supported the war in Iraq but that the 43rd President had erred by staking the invasion on weapons of mass destruction.

"Saddam Hussein was an evil person and there was justification to get rid of him," he observed, "but we shouldn’t have put the basis on weapons of mass destruction. That was a bad mistake. Where does [Bush] get his advice?" …

But Woodward wouldn’t be Woodward and the Post wouldn’t be the Post if they didn’t try to twist this non-story into a way to attack President Bush — and for a war they also had previously championed.

Moreover, as I am reminded by a brilliant reader:

President Bush didn’t base the Iraq invasion on WMDs. That was the liberals’ reason.

Bush and his administrative spokespeople concentrated on Saddam’s gassing of the Kurds, the rape rooms, Uday and Qusay, his funding of terrorists, his sheltering of terrorists, etc. — to the point that liberals were complaining that Bush was giving too many reasons for the war.

It’s maddening that our motives for going to war have been switched with liberals’ motives only since we haven’t found WMDs. That was their reason.


And lest we forget, it was Bill Clinton and his cronies who pounded Saddam for his weapons of mass destruction, starting in 1998 when he needed a distraction from Monica.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, December 28th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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