WASHINGTON -- 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 two players in the U.S.-led war in Iraq -- are contained in a biography of the nation's 41st president to be published next week. Copies were obtained by several news outlets.
In interviews with biographer Jon Meacham, Bush, who is now 91, said that Cheney, who also served in the elder Bush's cabinet, asserted too much "hard-line" influence within George W. Bush's administration, especially after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Jeb Bush, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, said yesterday that he had not read the book. "My thought was that Dick Cheney served my dad really well," Bush told The Associated Press. "And he served as vice president, he served my brother really well."
George W. Bush, in a statement, said "Dick Cheney did a superb job as vice president, and I was fortunate to have him by my side throughout my presidency. Don Rumsfeld ably led the Pentagon and was an effective secretary of defense."
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.
Talking about Rumsfeld, the elder Bush said, "I think he served the president badly. I don't like what he did, and I think it hurt the president having his iron-ass view of everything," Bush said.
In a statement, Rumsfeld said: "Bush 41 is getting up in years and misjudges Bush 43, who I found made his own decisions."
The elder Bush did not suggest that he disagreed with his son on the invasion of Iraq. Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein "is gone, and with him went a lot of brutality and nastiness and awfulness," Bush said.