8:35am

Tue February 8, 2011
The Two-Way

Rumsfeld: Country Would Have Been Better Off If I Had Resigned In 2004

Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he should have stepped down in 2004 after photos emerged of the abuses done to Iraqi prisoners by U.S. personnel at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.

"That was such a stain on our country," he tells ABC News' Diane Sawyer in an interviewed aired Monday on Nightline. The prisoners, he says, were treated in a "disgusting and perverted and ghastly way."

"I stepped up and told the president I thought I should resign," he says. "I think probably he and the military and the Pentagon and the country would have been better off if I had."

Also during the interview, Rumsfeld defends the Bush administration's war and anti-terrorism records, and his own reputation as a boss who intimidated some of the Pentagon brass.

"Oh the poor people," he says of generals who complained. "I terrified them. ... My goodness."

There's also a remarkable moment during the conversation when Rumsfeld chokes up, tears in his eyes, as he talks of his wife's health problems.

He's been doing a series of interviews to promote his new memoir, which is out this week. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.