NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Rumsfeld: Obama Has Embraced Bush's Post Sept. 11 Policies

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Tim Sloan
AFP/Getty Images
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

As the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks draws closer, we're pointing to some of the stories being told about that day and the days since.

In a long interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, yesterday, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld looks back at Sept. 11. Rumsfeld recounts that day at the Pentagon; he rememebers feeling the building shake and watching the thickening smoke and leaving the building to find the lawn covered in pieces of metal from the airplane.

One of the highlights of the interview is what he says about the Bush Doctrine, the set of policies enacted by President George W. Bush after the terrorist attacks. Rumsfeld says that despite the fact that President Obama campaigned against those policies, he's ended up supporting them throughout the first half of his term.

"I think what they did was they campaigned again the Bush approach — and once they got in they realized the 90-nation coalition that was put together was successful in sharing intelligence, and tracking bank accounts, and cooperating against terrorism," said Rumsfeld.

"They ended up keeping Guantanamo open not because they like it — we didn't like it either — but they couldn't think of a better solution," Rumsfeld said. "The same is true with the Patriot Act, and military commissions, and indefinite detention. All of those things were criticized but, today, are still in place two-and-a-half years later because they're the best alternative to the other choices — and they are in fact successful in keeping America safer."

Now, Rumsfeld isn't the first to point this out. In fact, The Washington Post's Charles Krauthhammer dissectedObama's May speech about the Middle East and concluded that in many ways — including the goal of spreading democracy in the Middle East — Obama adopted the Bush doctrine.

Steven Metz, a professor at the U.S. Army War College wrote in response to Obama's March speech on Libya that Obama reminded him a lot of Rumsfeld.

Of course others disagree. In March, Mother Jones ran a piecethat said Obama's speech on Libya was the president crafting the "anti-Bush doctrine." The piece seems to go along the same lines that David Remnick rook in his New Yorker piece this week.

Essentially, they argue, Obama is leading a true international coalition from "behind the curtain," a marked shift from he confrontational style of Bush. As Mother Jonesputs it, the idea of a preemptive cowboy is far from the Obama doctrine.

We'll leave you with full video of the Rumsfeld's interview with Fox:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit

Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.