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May 23rd, 2013
06:59 PM ET

Rumsfeld: I give the Bush administration a D-, Obama gets an F

President Barack Obama's speech on Thursday made clear that his administration's policies are not the same as his predecessor's, former President George W. Bush.

"I believe we compromised our basic values by using torture to interrogate our enemies and detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law," said Obama at National Defense University, referring to the Bush administration's national security policy.

But Donald Rumsfeld, who served as defense secretary under Bush from 2001-2006, said Obama has “blamed the Bush administration for practically everything since he took office."

Rumsfeld said that people “kind of conflated” the Defense Department with the CIA during the Bush years.

“The Department of Defense at Guantanamo water boarded no one,” he said of the detention facility in Cuba and harsh treatment of certain terror suspects.

”Three people were water-boarded by the agency with the authority of the Department of Justice and the president," said Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld said the United States has not engaged terrorism ideologically in the same way it took on Communism during the Cold War.

"I gave us a D-minus, and I'm an easy grader. I would give this administration an F, because they won't even use the words," said Rumsfeld.

"Until today, I haven't heard people use the word jihad. I haven't heard the people in the Obama administration talk about the fact that there are people that are determined to kill innocent men, women, and children that are attacking the whole concept of the nation state," said Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld also took issue with Obama's assertion that al Qaeda had "been gutted."

"That just simply isn't true. Al Qaeda is still effective. We have killed or captured any number of al Qaeda leadership, and they get replaced. Someone comes on behind them," said Rumsfeld, who also acknowledged that the threat is not the same today as it was in 2001 or 2002.

But he said there are still many unknowns.

"We know the number of people that have been killed or captured. We don't know the number of people that have been recruited. We don't know the number that are being trained. We don't know the amount of money that the al Qaeda and their affiliates are raising every year from supporters," said Rumsfeld.

Drones were not started by the Obama administration; there were drone attacks during the Bush years as well.

"We had very few when I came into office. They were increased, and this administration has the benefit of those unmanned aerial vehicles," said Rumsfeld.

But Rumsfeld said that it is a very tough issue, and agreed with Obama's statement that the administration would consider options for making drone strikes more transparent, like an independent oversight board, or a special court to approve the attacks.

"Going to the Congress and discussing it with them and getting them on board for some policy - that makes sense to the American people, so that he has that kind of support. He will need it," said Rumsfeld.

On the topic of his new book, "Rumsfeld's Rules: Leadership Lessons in Business, Politics, War, and Life," the former congressman, White House chief of staff, and two-time defense chief, responded to critics who doubt his leadership.

"These are not all Rumsfeld's rules. These are rules from people that are a lot wiser than I am. And I have collected them over my lifetime," said Rumsfeld. "And I guess what I would say to people like that is read the book."

Rumsfeld said there is one particular rule he would give to Obama.

"When I was a Navy pilot, the rule if you're lost is to climb, conserve, and confess. Get some altitude. Take a deep breath, and get on the radio and say, you're lost," said Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld said the administration changes its tune "week after week after week, whether it's Benghazi or whether it's the Internal Revenue Service."

"What you need to do is get the people in the office, sit them down, and find ground truth, because the currency a leader has is credibility," said Rumsfeld.

"To the extent that credibility gets eroded over time, you lose your ability to lead."

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