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Donald Rumsfeld: 'It's Possible' Troop Decisions Were a Mistake in Iraq

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- More than four years after leaving public life, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld continues to believe the war in Iraq was worth the effort, and has no apologies for his decision-making in leading the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Rumsfeld concedes that "it's possible" that decisions on how many troops to send into Iraq marked the biggest mistake of the war.

"In a war, many things cost lives," Rumsfeld told ABC News.

Pressed on the fact that President Bush has written that cutting troop levels in Iraq was "the most important failure in the execution of the war," Rumsfeld called that "interesting."

"I don't have enough confidence to say that that's right.  I think that it's possible.  We had [an] enormous number of troops ready to go in.  They had -- we had off-ramps, if they weren't needed."

"It's hard to know," Rumsfeld continued.  "You know, the path you didn't take is always smoother."

The interview -- Rumsfeld's first for television since 2006 -- is tied to the publication of his memoir, Known and Unknown, this week.

The book spans a half century that took Rumsfeld, now 78, from a back bench as a 30-year-old member of Congress to success in the private and public sectors.  He served Republican presidents from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush, including a stint as President Gerald Ford's chief of staff.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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