CNN Presents Documentary Reveals "Real Rumsfeld" Amid Iraqi War Criticism
Rumsfeld - Man of War, Reported by Frank Sesno, to Premiere on Saturday, September 30
A revealing new documentary, CNN PRESENTS RUMSFELD - MAN OF WAR, takes an unprecedented, up-close look at U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. CNN special correspondent Frank Sesno was given rare access to the defense secretary, his allies and critics of his stewardship of the war in Iraq. During an exclusive interview and tour of his Pentagon offices, a candid Rumsfeld admits that he did not anticipate the strength of the Iraqi insurgency - but he also challenges those who have questioned his war planning.
Man of War premieres on Saturday, September 30, at 8 p.m. EST and re-airs on Sunday, October 1, at 8:00 p.m. EST.
Sesno reports that Rumsfeld, who achieved extraordinary success in turning around two corporations as a CEO in the 1980s and 1990s, brought a business executive′s cost-cutting sensibility to the Pentagon. While supporters say he listens to ideas and is eager to hear opposing views, his critics say that once he has staked out a position, it is nearly impossible to change his mind.
Both Rumsfeld′s allies and his detractors talk plainly about his management style, his decision-making and the chronology leading up to the current state of affairs in violence-plagued Iraq. In Man of War, Rumsfeld and his war planners accept a share of responsibility for the failure to adequately plan for the insurgency in Iraq.
Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says, "It′s not that the questions weren′t asked, it′s that the belief was there would not be a strong insurgency, in fact the Iraqi peopleÉwould in fact do what Western minds tell us folks would do, which is grab hold of this freedom, nurture it and not devolve into internal bickering. So, it′s not that it wasn′t a possibility, it′s that we did not foresee it. I certainly did not foresee it."
Retired Army Lt. Gen. John Keane, former vice chief of staff for the U.S. Army, says blame for those miscalculations should be shared by both military and civilian leadership.
"When it comes to the insurgency itself, none of the senior military leaders anticipated the insurgency, and I believe that′s more our business than it is Rumsfeld′s business," Keane says in the documentary. "We should′ve seen that coming, particularly the ground guys like myself and others who know a little bit more about this." Critics of Rumsfeld - several of whom have called for his resignation - say planning failures for Iraq resulted in a breakdown of law and order, a lack of confidence in the American presence, and, ultimately, a longer and more dangerous war.
Retired Gen. John Batiste says his direct requests for more troops were not fulfilled. With more troops, Batiste says, he would have secured Iraq′s border with Iran and the oil infrastructure and established better relationships with the Iraqi people. Batiste tells Sesno that there is "no question" that his inadequate force levels hurt his efforts to stop the insurgency during his command. These sentiments are echoed by L. Paul Bremer, the former Coalition Provisional Authority administrator for Iraq.
Although Rumsfeld oversees the most technical and logistical transformation in the history of the American military, most agree that the defense secretary′s place in history will be determined by his management of U.S. forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Associates tell us that he can be brutally combative but also fair and generous," said Mark Nelson, vice president and senior executive producer of CNN Productions. "No matter what your view of the man might be, there is no doubt that his iron-fisted leadership of the Pentagon is defining the war on terrorism and will determine the shape of our military for years, even decades, to come."