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Iraq Intelligence Mistakes Were Honest, Rumsfeld Says

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2005 – The decision to send troops into Iraq was made in good faith based on shared intelligence, and the servicemembers risking their lives in the war on terror need to know that, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld handle reporters' questions at a Nov. 15 Pentagon news conference. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Sean P. Houlihan, USAF

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

At a Pentagon news briefing, Rumsfeld said the intelligence used to make the decision to go into Iraq was the same intelligence that members of the House of Representatives, Senate and national intelligence agencies had, and it was not unique to President Bush.

Rumsfeld said he understands the American people and members of Congress want to know as much as they can about the war, because it has far-reaching effects. It is only because America is a free society that there can be this open discussion and debate, he said, and he is confident the right conclusions will be reached about the war.

"I have a lot of confidence in the American people, and frankly, I have a lot of confidence in the Congress," he said. "Congress represents the American people, and the American people have a very good center of gravity. They listen, and they'll decide. What's going on in Iraq is important. It's important historically; it's important for the Iraqi people; it's important for the entire region; and, quite honestly, it's very important for the United States of America and the coalition countries."

Mistakes made in pre-war intelligence were honest mistakes, Rumsfeld said. Providing intelligence is a tough job to do, and there can always be improvements in the system, he said.

"We constantly need better intelligence," he said. "If there's one thing I hear every single day from the battlefield commanders, it's they need better intelligence."

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq will be based on conditions on the ground, Rumsfeld said, and not until the mission is complete.

"While the American people understandably want to know when our forces can leave Iraq, I believe they do not want them to leave until our mission is accomplished and the Iraqis are able to sustain their fledgling democracy," he said.

Iraqi security forces are assuming responsibilities in areas of the country and are growing in number daily, Rumsfeld said. Iraqis are eager to take over the security of their own country, and the U.S. shares that goal, he said.

"We don't go into a country to stay in a country," he said. "We go into a country to try and be helpful and then leave as soon as possible -- but not in a manner that's precipitous and not in a manner that would inject an instability into the situation and not in a manner that would suggest to the terrorists that all they have to do is wait us out."

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