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QUESTION: So I would like to ask you to be up front with the American people, why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary, that has caused these kinds of casualties? why?
RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, I haven’t lied. I did not lie then. Colin Powell didn’t lie. He spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence Agency people and prepared a presentation that I know he believed was accurate, and he presented that to the United Nations. the president spent weeks and weeks with the central intelligence people and he went to the american people and made a presentation. i’m not in the intelligence business. they gave the world their honest opinion. it appears that there were not weapons of mass destruction there.
QUESTION: You said you knew where they were.
RUMSFELD: I did not. I said I knew where suspect sites were and —
QUESTION: You said you knew where they were Tikrit, Baghdad, northeast, south, west of there. Those are your words.
RUMSFELD: My words — my words were that — no, no, wait a minute, wait a minute. Let him stay one second. Just a second.
QUESTION: This is America.
RUMSFELD: You’re getting plenty of play, sir.
QUESTION: I’d just like an honest answer.
RUMSFELD: I’m giving it to you.
QUESTION: Well we’re talking about lies and your allegation there was bulletproof evidence of ties between al Qaeda and Iraq.
RUMSFELD: Zarqawi was in Baghdad during the prewar period. That is a fact.
QUESTION: Zarqawi? He was in the north of Iraq in a place where Saddam Hussein had no rule. That’s also…
RUMSFELD: He was also in Baghdad.
QUESTION: Yes, when he needed to go to the hospital.
Come on, these people aren’t idiots. They know the story.
RUMSFELD: Let me give you an example.
It’s easy for you to make a charge, but why do you think that the men and women in uniform every day, when they came out of Kuwait and went into Iraq, put on chemical weapon protective suits? Because they liked the style?
They honestly believed that there were chemical weapons.
Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons on his own people previously. He’d used them on his neighbor (AUDIO GAP) the Iranians, and they believed he had those weapons.
We believed he had those weapons.
QUESTION: That’s what we call a non sequitur. It doesn’t matter what the troops believe; it matters what you believe.
MODERATOR: I think, Mr. Secretary, the debate is over. We have other questions, courtesy to the audience.