Elder Bush Criticizes Cheney, Rumsfeld in Biography

Elder Bush Criticizes Cheney, Rumsfeld in BiographyElder Bush Criticizes Cheney, Rumsfeld in Biography

In a blistering critique, former president George H.W. Bush says onetime Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld “served the president badly” when George W. Bush was in the White House and that former vice president Dick Cheney “built his own empire” and asserted too much “hard-line” influence.

The critical assessments of Rumsfeld and Cheney—key players in the US-led war in Iraq—are contained in a biography of the nation’s 41st president to be published next week. A copy was obtained by The New York Times.

In interviews with biographer Jon Meacham, Bush, now 91, said Cheney, who also served in the elder Bush’s Cabinet, acted too independently and asserted too much “hard-line” influence within George W. Bush’s administration, especially after the Sept. 11 attacks, AP reported.

The book, “Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush,” also contains the elder Bush’s ruminations about his son, whom he praised but also called responsible for empowering Cheney and Rumsfeld.

Of Cheney, Bush said, “He just became very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with.”

Bush said he thinks the Sept. 11 attacks changed the vice president, making him more hawkish about the use of US military force abroad.

Talking about Rumsfeld, the elder Bush used stronger, more personal criticism, the Times reported.

He said he worried that the younger Bush used rhetoric that was at times too strong, citing as an example the 43rd president’s 2002 State of the Union address, during which he described an “axis of evil” including Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

“You go back to the ‘axis of evil’ and these things, and I think that might be historically proved to be not benefiting anything,” he said.