Tony Snow: ‘I’m Not Going To Hold Donald Rumsfeld Accountable’

This afternoon, Tony Snow went on CNN to defend the administration’s “stay the course” strategy in Iraq. The discussion veered into the subject of former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki’s pre-war prediction that “several hundred thousand soldiers” would be needed to maintain control over post-war Iraq. Snow falsely claimed that Shinseki was only referring to the number of troops needed to “go in and take Baghdad.” Snow concluded the segment by stating, “I’m not going to hold Donald Rumsfeld accountable.” Watch it.

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2006/09/snowshinseki.320.240.flv]

As his Feb. 2003 testimony makes clear, Shinseki suggested a massive force would be needed to assert “post-hostilities control,” not just to take over Baghdad.

SHINSEKI: I would say that what’s been mobilized to this point, something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers, are probably, you know, a figure that would be required.We’re talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that’s fairly significant with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so, it takes significant ground force presence to maintain safe and secure environment to ensure that the people are fed, that water is distributed, all the normal responsibilities that go along with administering a situation like this. [Senate Armed Services Committee, 2/25/03]

Full transcript:

BLITZER: Remember Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, rebuked him orally for saying that that many troops would be needed.

SNOW: Well, and as you will recall, Wolf, when it came to the act of combat — as i recall what Ric Shinseki was talking about at the time is what was required to go in and take Baghdad. It turns out that it was the most effective military operations in history. As a matter of fact, I think the term that Tommy Franks used was catastrophic victory, it was so swift and more rapid than anyone perceived at the time.

SNOW: I’m not going to sit around and engage in the game of gosh, what would we have thought back in April of 2003, because none of us quite knew exactly what to expect next. I am not going to hold Rumsfeld accountable when neither you nor I would have been able to figure out what was going to happen.