Tim Russert Wants President Bush to Acknowledge a Litany of Iraq War ‘Mistakes’

National Security Agency Director Stephen Hadley was Tim Russert’s guest on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” and with the grilling he got, he’s probably sorry he accepted the invitation. In an interview that seemed more like an interrogation by an angry police officer, one of the most telling moments was when Russert enunciated a list of mistakes he believes were made in Iraq, and asked if President Bush is going to acknowledge each and every one of them.

If you’re playing at home, make sure to have your pencil handy so that you can check off each demand as Russert works his way through his list (video available here):

But in terms of trying to bring the country together, to bring Democrats—who now control Congress—to the table, could the president step forward and say, “I acknowledge we were wrong about WMD, we were wrong about troop levels, we were wrong about the length of the war, we were wrong about the cost of the war, we were wrong about the financing of the war, we were wrong about the level of sectarian violence, we were wrong about being greeted as liberators. We made some fundamental misjudgments, and they were wrong, but now we’re all in this together”? Could he do that?

Hmmm. So, in Russert’s view, to bring Democrats to the table -- even though they now control Congress -- the President must prostrate himself in front of them and the nation. Interesting perspective, dontcha think? Does this suggest that the Democrats should do absolutely nothing until the President complies?

What follows is a partial transcript of this encounter.

MR. RUSSERT: But in terms of trying to bring the country together, to bring Democrats—who now control Congress—to the table, could the president step forward and say, “I acknowledge we were wrong about WMD, we were wrong about troop levels, we were wrong about the length of the war, we were wrong about the cost of the war, we were wrong about the financing of the war, we were wrong about the level of sectarian violence, we were wrong about being greeted as liberators. We made some fundamental misjudgments, and they were wrong, but now we’re all in this together”? Could he do that?

MR. HADLEY: He’s done a lot of that. He’s acknowledged that...

MR. RUSSERT: All those mistakes?

MR. HADLEY: He has acknowledged that—for example, that there were not stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

MR. RUSSERT: How about troop levels?

MR. HADLEY: He’s, he’s acknowledged that, that in terms of troops we need to be building Iraqi forces to provide greater security. You know, Tim, people forget that, that we had hoped to have 150,000 to 200,000 Iraqi army forces to help in the security proposition, and those forces melted away at the close of the war. We have been trying to build Iraqi security forces, because when we go to the Iraqis and say “How about more forces?” the answer of the Iraqis has been “We do need more forces, but they need—we need Iraqi security forces.” And that’s why one of the major efforts of the administration has been to train and equip and increase the competence of Iraqi security forces, because Iraqis want Iraqis to be responsible for security and chart the way forward.

So the president has acknowledged that there are things that have not gone the way we had hoped, that we need to make some changes. We’ve been making some changes. He’s acknowledged we need to make a reassessment, given the new situation on the ground. That’s the process we’re engaged in now.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.