Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who served under former President George W. Bush and was a key player in the decisions to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Wednesday that President Barack Obama has so far failed to justify U.S. intervention in Syria, telling Fox News' Neil Cavuto that the administration's strategy is "mindless."
"One thing that's very interesting, it seems to me, is that there really hasn't been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation," Rumsfeld said in an interview with Fox Business Network.
He argued that intervening in Syria would not aid the United States' key interests in the Middle East, which he believes are the relationship between Syria and Iran and Iran's nuclear program.
Rumsfeld also joined Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in criticizing the administration over leaks on potential air strikes in Syria.
"The idea of demystifying what you're going to do for the enemy is mindless," Rumsfeld said. "I can't imagine what they're thinking, why they would want the Assad regime to have crystal clarity."
On Wednesday, Obama said U.S. intelligence had linked Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime to the lethal chemical weapons attack on civilians.
"We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out," Obama told PBS. "And if that's so, then there need to be international consequences."
However, several U.S. officials said questions remain on who ordered the strike.
Multiple U.S. officials used the phrase "not a slam dunk" to describe the intelligence picture – a reference to then-CIA Director George Tenet's insistence in 2002 that U.S. intelligence showing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was a "slam dunk" – intelligence that turned out to be wrong.
A report by the Office of the Director for National Intelligence outlining that evidence against Syria is thick with caveats. It builds a case that Assad's forces are most likely responsible while outlining gaps in the U.S. intelligence picture. Relevant congressional committees were to be briefed on that evidence by teleconference call on Thursday, U.S. officials and congressional aides said.
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