Rice Not Ready to Discuss U.S. 'Mistakes' in Iraq

Although she is not yet ready to explain herself, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is admitting that the United States has made mistakes in Iraq.

"As to whether the United States has made mistakes: Of course, I'm sure we have," Rice told the Arabic satellite television station Al-Arabiya. "You can't be involved in something as big as the liberation of a country like Iraq and all that has happened since, and I'm sure there are things that we could have done differently."

However, Rice told Al-Arabiya that now is not the time to talk about U.S. mistakes in Iraq.

"Frankly, we are looking ahead," she said.

Once her tenure as secretary of state is over and she is back at Stanford University, she said she will reflect on the war.

"I can look back and write books about what we might have done differently," she said.

But she may not be able to put it off until then. In January, a Democratic-led Congress will be sworn in and is likely to demand a full accounting of any mistakes made in Iraq.

Throughout the conflict, the White House has been hesitant to acknowledge mistakes.

At a press conference in 2004, President Bush famously said he could not think of any mistakes his administration had made.

In May of this year, two years after the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, he said, "I think the biggest mistake that's happened so far, at least from our country's involvement in Iraq, is Abu Ghraib. We've been paying for that for a long period of time."

And on the five-year anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, Bush said, "Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq, the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone."

Earlier this year, Rice found herself on shaky ground with the Pentagon after telling reporters that thousands of "tactical errors" had been made in Iraq. Some generals in Iraq considered that a criticism of the execution of the war, without admitting errors in its planning.

To see the full transcript of the Rice interview visit http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2006/77213/htm.

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