Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ford's Comments on Iraq War Released

President Gerald R. Ford, center, with Chief of Staff Donald H. Rumsfeld, left, and Rumsfeld's assistant, Dick Cheney, on April 28, 1975. (By David Hume Kennerly -- Ford Library Via Associated Press)

Ford Disagreed With Bush About Invading Iraq

By Bob Woodward
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 28, 2006;

Former president Gerald R. Ford said in an embargoed interview in July 2004 that the Iraq war was not justified. "I don't think I would have gone to war," he said a little more than a year after President Bush launched the invasion advocated and carried out by prominent veterans of Ford's own administration.

In a four-hour conversation at his house in Beaver Creek, Colo., Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney -- Ford's White House chief of staff -- and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his Pentagon chief.

On July 28, 2004, former president Gerald R. Ford sat down for an interview with The Washington Post's Bob Woodward. The interview was conducted at Ford's Beaver Creek, Colo., house; the former president agreed that his comments could be published any time after his death. Below are audio excerpts from the interview:

Ford says he does not believe the United States should intervene militarily overseas unless it is directly in America's national interests.

Ford says that, based on the facts as he understands them, he does not think that he would have ordered the Iraq war if he had been president.

Ford says he believes that President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld erred in justifying the Iraq war as one aimed at eliminating Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

Ford says that while he never publicly criticized the Bush administration's war in Iraq, he does think they made a mistake in how they justified the war.

Gerald Ford at the National Press Club

Posted Thursday, July 24, 2003.

President Ford Salutes the Vital Role of a Free Press

The nation�s free press contributes greatly to invigorate the tenacity of democracy in America, former President Gerald Ford declared in honoring three journalists who were awarded top prizes from the Gerald R. Ford Foundation at the July 17 NPC Luncheon. This year�s winners of the $5,000 awards are Bob Woodward and Dan Balz of The Washington Post for distinguished reporting on the presidency, and The Wall Street Journal�s Pentagon correspondent Greg Jaffe, reporting on national defense. �Journalists provide the people of our great nation the information, vision and strength that has resulted in the un-precedented advancement and freedom of all our lives,� Ford said. He noted that even though there are difficulties and confrontations for the president to deal with the press, the country is better off because of their work. In closing the luncheon, all attendees joined in singing �Happy Birthday� to the 38th U.S. President.


NPC Forum Considers Reporting Weapons of Mass Destruction

The Bush administration used the threat of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction as a key justification for invading Iraq. Critics are charging that intelligence about those weapons was manipulated and exaggerated to justify the war. How accurately and fairly have the media reported on this controversy and the case for going to war against Saddam Hussein?

On Mon., Aug. 4, 6:30 p.m., the NPC Forums Committee in cooperation with the Newseum will present a panel discussion to consider these questions. Panelists will include:

Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was sent to Africa by the CIA and concluded there was no Iraq-Niger uranium deal;
Margaret Carlson, Time Magazine;
Gordon Corera of the BBC, and
Jon Wolfsthal of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

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