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Donald Rumsfeld: US Response to Egypt 'Confusing'

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld criticized the Obama administration’s response to the crisis in Egypt Friday, calling it “confusing” and telling ABC News the United States’ diplomatic effort “certainly doesn’t give one confidence.”

In a radio interview, Rumsfeld was particularly critical of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s description of the Muslim Brootherhood as a “largely secular” during a House Intelligence Committee testimony Thursday that Clapper's office later had to clarify. 

“That is not something that is subject to debate,” Rumsfeld said of Clapper’s contention.   “That is something that we know a great deal about.”

Rumsfeld, however, did not fault CIA director Leon Panetta for pointing to news reports, suggesting during his testimony there was a “strong likelihood” that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would step down Thursday. 

“People who think they know the answer and publicly announce what they believe to be the case are often wrong,” Rumsfeld said, saying that the outcome of a volatile situation is not always possible to predict.

But the former defense secretary said official statements from Washington urging Mubarak to step aside have differed from what the administration’s special envoy, Frank Wisner, had been saying in Cairo.   This, Rumsfeld said, has proven to be “confusing.” 

“It certainly doesn’t give one confidence,” the former secretary said of the administration’s public steps.

“One doesn’t know precisely what’s taking place with private diplomacy -- what’s really most effective -- but certainly the public diplomacy has been somewhat confusing.”

Rumsfeld, who has known Mubarak for decades, responded carefully when asked whether he is a dictator.

“He clearly has perpetuated himself in office.   He clearly has hoped that his son would succeed him.   There have been a number of things that have inhibited freer political systems,” Rumsfeld said of the Egyptian president, stopping short of offering any further criticism of Mubarak.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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