Rumsfeld: Powell wasn’t duped on WMD

posted at 11:36 am on February 7, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld comes out swinging in his new book, Known and Unknown: A Memoir, and one of his targets is Colin Powell. Rumsfeld tweaks Powell over his management skills and disputes the notion that Powell somehow got duped into delivering the WMD address to the UN before the invasion of Iraq. The intelligence was wrong, Rumsfeld acknowledges in this interview excerpt from ABC’s Diane Sawyer, but we sent troops into the heat of the Iraqi desert wearing chemical-weapons suits for a reason:

Colin Powell, Bush’s first secretary of state, “did not, in my view, do a good job of managing the people under him,” Rumsfeld said.

“There was a lot of leaking out of the State Department, and the president knew it,” he said. “And it was unhelpful. And most of it ended up making the State Department look good. We didn’t do that in the Pentagon. I insisted we not do it.”

Powell, Rumsfeld said, never spoke up in meetings with the president to raise objections to the Iraq war.

“There’s a lot of stuff [in] the press that say Colin Powell was against it. But I never saw even the slightest hint of that,” he said. … Powell, Rumsfeld said, never spoke up in meetings with the president to raise objections to the Iraq war.

Nor was Rumsfeld particularly impressed with Condoleezza Rice, either:

Rumsfeld was less impressed by some of the president’s closest advisers. Of Condoleezza Rice, President Bush’s national security adviser and later secretary of state, he said, “She’d never served in a senior administration position” — a lack of experience that showed in her lack of organization in putting together critical meetings.

“She’d been an academic. And, you know, a lot of academics like to have meetings,” Rumsfeld said. “And they like to bridge differences and get people all to be happy.”

It looks like Rumsfeld isn’t too concerned about burning bridges. He even goes after Bush 41, while praising Bush 43:

Asked if he admired President George H.W. Bush — a Republican president he didn’t serve under — Rumsfeld was curt.

“No. No,” Rumsfeld said. “No, I was kind of disappointed in him. … He decided he wanted to leave people with the impression that he didn’t want to go to the CIA [in the Ford administration]. And that someone made him go there. And it was probably Rumsfeld or something.”

I’ll get a chance to sit down with Rumsfeld while I’m in DC later this week, along with other journalists, to discuss his new memoirs. Looks like it will be a lively conversation.

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“She’d been an academic. And, you know, a lot of academics like to have meetings,” Rumsfeld said. “And they like to bridge differences and get people all to be happy.”

So true.

kevinkristy on February 7, 2011 at 11:39 AM

Rumsfeld tweaks Powell over his management skills

I’m sure Powell deserves a fair amount of criticism for his remarks, but I’m not sure a guy who had to be fired in order to implement the surge that saved Iraq has any business criticizing someone else’s management skills. Every account I’ve heard had Rumsfeld at odds with the surge, preferring to simply muddle through with little to no progress in Iraq while the American public became more and more disillusioned. He was an abysmal defense secretary, and he should have been removed long before he was.

Caiwyn on February 7, 2011 at 11:42 AM

“There was a lot of leaking out of the State Department,

Just ask Armitage and Libby…

trubble on February 7, 2011 at 11:42 AM

More Rum please!

HondaV65 on February 7, 2011 at 11:42 AM

I cannot help but admire plain-spoken men. Rummy is plain spoken.

pugwriter on February 7, 2011 at 11:42 AM

I can’t wait to read this book. It sounds like Rummy didn’t hold back in writing it and I appreciate that.

myrenovations on February 7, 2011 at 11:43 AM

She’d been an academic. And, you know, a lot of academics like to have meetings,” Rumsfeld said. “And they like to bridge differences and get people all to be happy.”

They like to construct positive feedback loops.

pugwriter on February 7, 2011 at 11:44 AM

This reinforces my low opinion of Powell.

slickwillie2001 on February 7, 2011 at 11:44 AM

So, Don Rumsfeld admits that there were no WMD’s in Iraq.

Imagine my surprise.

/surprise

JohnGalt23 on February 7, 2011 at 11:44 AM

“She’d been an academic. And, you know, a lot of academics like to have meetings,” Rumsfeld said. “And they like to bridge differences and get people all to be happy.”
//
Hmmm,betcha there’s a double meaning there:) Good for you Mr. Rumsfield.

ohiobabe on February 7, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Rummy 2012.

JustinHiggins on February 7, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Just telling it like it is

cmsinaz on February 7, 2011 at 11:45 AM

The US State Department leaks like a sieve no matter who runs the place, especially with a republican administration.

Skandia Recluse on February 7, 2011 at 11:45 AM

So, Don Rumsfeld admits that there were no WMD’s in Iraq.

Imagine my surprise.

/surprise

JohnGalt23 on February 7, 2011 at 11:44 AM

What are you talking about?
There is a lot of space between “the intelligence was wrong” and the incorrect statement that there were no WMDs in Iraq.

Count to 10 on February 7, 2011 at 11:50 AM

I had the great pleasure of going to a speech and Q/A session with Rumsfeld when he visited Iraq in 2005. Very friendly guy and he seemed very intelligent to me.

It was actually the first time I have seen a man with so much responsibility in person. It was pretty cool to sit there 30 feet from the Secretary of Defense and listen to him respond to people’s questions. I can’t even remember the question I proposed, I never got picked for a question.

Mord on February 7, 2011 at 11:51 AM

So all of the chemicals Saddam used to kill the Kurds was not considered a WMD?
OK.

Badger40 on February 7, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Plain talk. I love it. Of course Powell wasn’t duped about WMD. By the way, he wasn’t duped about Obama either. He backed Barry Soetero for only 1 reason.

SouthernGent on February 7, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Powell needs to just come out of the liberal closet, once & for all.

Badger40 on February 7, 2011 at 11:56 AM

So, Don Rumsfeld admits that there were no WMD’s in Iraq.

Imagine my surprise.

/surprise

JohnGalt23 on February 7, 2011 at 11:44 AM

Because they had been moved to Syria by the time the US invaded. Fellow Baathist Assad was happy to get his hands on them.

I keep hoping the Israelis would send a shell over to the Bekaa Valley and near-miss the locations. It would freak out Assad. Proabaly start a shooting war, though.

Wethal on February 7, 2011 at 11:56 AM

As much as I want to dislike Rummy, why cant I bring myself to? I cant help but like him.

Indy82 on February 7, 2011 at 11:57 AM

I keep hoping the Israelis would send a shell over to the Bekaa Valley and near-miss the locations. It would freak out Assad. Proabaly start a shooting war, though.

Wethal on February 7, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Yeah, like that isn’t going to happen sooner or later with Israel having unfriendly neighbors in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and possibly Egypt and Jordan.

They just need to have the targeting in mind for the next time Assad et all decide to get cute.

teke184 on February 7, 2011 at 11:59 AM

I think the Bush Administration underestimated how well Saddam was going to be able to scrub the evidence of his WMD program, and how desperately the Left would ignore evidence of the destruction of evidence to cling to their narrative.

Sekhmet on February 7, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Bwahahahahaha!!!!

This is waaaaay off topic….

Obama just got done trying to pull the wool over business leaders eyes by rewriting the reasons we got out of the great depression. He insisted the only reason business leaders decided to get involved in war production was because FDR called them to “sacrifice and serve their country”! And Obama “proved” his assertion by pointing to the massive increase in production in the year….wait for it….

1941!!!!!

ROTFFLOMFAO!!!!

He really must think everyone is as ignorant of history as he is! Lordy, you just can’t make this stuff up!

Ya know, if comedians would use all the idiocy Obama provides for classic joke material, we would have been out of the recession a year ago just from ticket sales to comedy clubs!!!! lol

We now return you to your regularly scheduled topic.

csdeven on February 7, 2011 at 12:14 PM

I think the Bush Administration underestimated…

Sekhmet on February 7, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Reading the Bush book ‘Decision Points’ it is almost frightening how naive the president was about the press and the Democrats and other world leaders.

myrenovations on February 7, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Everybody was Rum-Fu fighting…

Christien on February 7, 2011 at 12:19 PM

Here’s the deal about academics: they are meetings-oriented, ivory tower isolated illusion-loving, cynical idealists. But we need one or two in the cabinet.

One or two. The trouble with the Obama administration is that he is an academic and he is surrounded by them.

I speak as an academic.

MaxMBJ on February 7, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Count to 10 on February 7, 2011 at 11:50 AM

Please, look who you are posting to…facts and analysis is not Galts strong suit.
A drive-by poster, that seldom backs up his comments.

right2bright on February 7, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Wethal on February 7, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Everyone, listen to this man. Saddam’s former air vice marshal said as much about the WMD’s, and I’m not about to trust career protesters or politicians looking to keep their own jobs over someone who Hussein confided in regularly.

Ryan Anthony on February 7, 2011 at 12:30 PM

Bush as VP was Reagan’s biggest mistake…Powell is a liberal…so is condi…

right4life on February 7, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Rumsfeld has always been my favorite Defense Secretary. He irritated all the right flag officers…..

Although he apparently didn’t humiliate them in public, he made them think about what was right and accurate and defend their own rice bowls. If they couldn’t defend it well enough, they lost funds. The fact that he was against the Surge initially, is not a reflection on his judgment or acumen. He was given a job to do, and the prevailing attitude was to use a light footprint instead of a large footprint because Arabs are supposed to resent being shown up by Westerners. The thought is they would take responsibility for their own country, and defend it, even after they were defeated in combat. Big mistake there. Who knew they were incapable of being civilized until absolutely crushed……

The only misjudgment Rummy made is believing Iraqis were man enough to accept their defeat and then move forward to protect their country and themselves from insurgents. It cost our Mens lives. But that isn’t his fault. That is the Iraqi’s fault. Even today, they will not stand up against Muslim extremists in their midst. The rank and file Muslim in the Middle East believes opposing the West and the Jews is their religious calling.

The only ones to blame for the insurgency, for needing the Surge, and for the need for our best Men to die to save ourselves, and the Iraqi people, from their worst elements, are those Muslims in the Middle East who believe the United States and Israel are out to cheat them and oppress them.

Stupid people (and I include all their brainwashed masses in that definition) will always choose war over their best interests. Muslims in the Middle East are the poster child for that sentiment.

Subsunk

Subsunk on February 7, 2011 at 12:34 PM

If I had to chose between Rummy and Rice… I like Rice.

I think Powell did a decent job until he started playing victim. Instead of saying “we” got it wrong… he tried to not take any blame.

At that point I lost respect.

Also, I’m glad Rummy is sticking up for HW Bush. There is no doubt in my mind that Bush always always tried to get the best advice and follow it. And then he didn’t blame others for the decisions he made.

We knew what we knew. We acted on the information we had. The chips will be falling for decades.

At least there was leadership in Washington then.

petunia on February 7, 2011 at 12:35 PM

This brings me back to the golden days of 2003-2006 when we were forever “turning the corner” in Iraq.

Good times. Good times.

YYZ on February 7, 2011 at 12:38 PM

Ya know, if comedians would use all the idiocy Obama provides for classic joke material, we would have been out of the recession a year ago just from ticket sales to comedy clubs!!!! lol

We now return you to your regularly scheduled topic.

csdeven on February 7, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Contrary to popular belief, most comedians are not suicidal. With exceptions, like Jeff Fox or Larry the CG, their audience consist of flaming liberals who would most likely boo them off the stage if they blasted O.

That said, I too listened to a bit of Obama’s pleading that the private business sector get off their @sses and start hiring, (because his government incentives are so popular), and spend the trillions they are sitting on. What a joke—
“we’re from the government, and we just want to help eff you”

Rovin on February 7, 2011 at 12:40 PM

…He was an abysmal defense secretary, and he should have been removed long before he was.

Caiwyn on February 7, 2011 at 11:42 AM

Rummy tried a modern military tactic many said wouldn’t work. He sent a lighter, faster force with air superiority across Iraq to the capital, bypassing what wasn’t in their path and taking the city. The surge and the pro-massive force side would’ve been unnecessary had we not embarked on what Bush campaigned against–nation building. We should have left after toppling Saddam and wished the Iraqis better luck with their next government and that we’d be back if it became necessary. Then I would have done the same thing to Syria.

cartooner on February 7, 2011 at 12:42 PM

YYZ on February 7, 2011 at 12:38 PM

When unemployment was around 4.5%? Yeah, sure do miss that too.

Rovin on February 7, 2011 at 12:42 PM

I think Dr. King would be proud, that Donald Rumsfeld judges General Powell, NOT by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.

If he felt issue with Iraq were wrong, he should have been strong enough to voice his opinion to the group and explain himself. General Powell was weak.

originalpechanga on February 7, 2011 at 12:45 PM

The surge and the pro-massive force side would’ve been unnecessary had we not embarked on what Bush campaigned against–nation building.
cartooner on February 7, 2011 at 12:42 PM

Looking back, I’m pretty sure that’s why I ended up voting for Gore.

Count to 10 on February 7, 2011 at 12:46 PM

Plain talk. I love it. Of course Powell wasn’t duped about WMD. By the way, he wasn’t duped about Obama either. He backed Barry Soetero for only 1 reason.

SouthernGent on February 7, 2011 at 11:55 AM

For the life of me I can’t imagine what that could be. /

SKYFOX on February 7, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Yeah those liars about WMDS:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/war/wmdquotes.asp

For anyone who claims there were no WMDs, tell them to Google Georges Sada.

DavidM on February 7, 2011 at 12:55 PM

Tip For Ed – Mysterious Circumstances: Abercrombie’s Health Director Quits One Week After Admitting Obama’ Birth Certificate Does Not Exist

Nearly Nobody on February 7, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Ed’s not interested. He saw some birth announcements in a newspaper. That’s all he needs to see.

Basilsbest on February 7, 2011 at 12:55 PM

Bush as VP was Reagan’s biggest mistake…Powell is a liberal…so is condi…

right4life on February 7, 2011 at 12:33 PM

Reagan knew that choice was political expediency, but I believe that Reagan thought he could teach him the rightness of conservatism by example. He didn’t count on the density of Bush’s skull.

SKYFOX on February 7, 2011 at 12:59 PM

When unemployment was around 4.5%? Yeah, sure do miss that too.

Are you saying our flawed strategy in Iraq contributed to our low unemployment rate?

YYZ on February 7, 2011 at 1:12 PM

Having read Shadow Warriors, I am inclined to agree with Rumsfeld regarding the tighter ship that the Pentagon ran in contrast to the State Dept. There were resentments at State over this power struggles and some efforts at sabotage against the administration.

Rice’s area of expertise was the Soviets, not the ME.

Cheney, Rumsfeld, and even Feith were the statesmen in this crew. They saw the bigger picture, but became scapegoats when underminers attacked their credibility.

onlineanalyst on February 7, 2011 at 1:23 PM

I will look forward to your reporting on that interview, Ed. I can’t help but admire Rumsfeld for his astonishing body of work, and I wouldn’t trade one Rumsfeld for a roomful of affirmative-action Colin Powells.

Jaibones on February 7, 2011 at 1:24 PM

I always admired ole Rummy. Still do, for that matter. He’s a true patriot.

petefrt on February 7, 2011 at 1:24 PM

If he (Powell) felt issue with Iraq were wrong, he should have been strong enough to voice his opinion to the group and explain himself. General Powell was weak.

originalpechanga on February 7, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Maybe Powell did bring up the issue and debated amongst W’s top (and inner) tier. W then considered all pov and made his decision.

Powell should live with that and did HIS BEST to fulfill his obligations. Instead, we saw all kinds of back stabbing to W by people under him. And we certainly did NOT see Powell did anything to curb that.

Sir Napsalot on February 7, 2011 at 1:54 PM

Like or hate him, the man has balls.

Schadenfreude on February 7, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Caiwyn on February 7, 2011 at 11:42 AM

It sounds as if you don’t respect people who are fired.

You must not respect General McArthur…Truman fired him during Korea.

General McCrystal, then? Obama fired him just last year, for comments he didn’t even make.

General McKiernan? Obama fired him too.

Just for your edification, Rumsfeld wasn’t fired. He resigned because of complaints by 8 Generals. EIGHT.

Do you know how many Generals there are throughout DoD? US Code limits the number to 658.

So the “General’s Revolt” complaining about Rumsfeld totals approximately 1.2% of all O-10 or higher grade personnel in DoD.

Rumsfeld has rightly stated that COCOM CGs (like Petraeus while at CENTCOM) have true authority over the number of troops serving down range.

If you look at the CGs of CENTCOM and MNF-I during this “Rumsfeld anti-surge” meme (Fall 2006), you might find the leaders actually resistant to the surge, those men whom Rumsfeld supported in that assessment.

CENTCOM’s CG at this time, GEN George Casey, believed “the Iraqis [should] take ownership of their problems and responsibility for their own security.”

“In August 2005, Casey used specific troop numbers in his public discussion of a possible drawdown. He said the then current troop level of 138,000 could be reduced by 30,000 in the early months of 2006 as Iraqi security forces took on a greater role. President Bush publicly called the talk ‘speculation’ and rebuked the general.”

“In January 2007, Casey implied his opposition to a troop surge, [ultimately stating] ‘It’s always been my view that a heavy and sustained American military presence was not going to solve the problems in Iraq over the long term.’”

(Those quotes are from Wikipedia, BTW. This is pretty common knowledge.)

The CG of MNF-I during the same timeframe, GEN John Abizaid, was also opposed to the surge.

“While in uniform, Abizaid had been opposed to a ‘surge’ of U.S. forces in Iraq because he believed that simply building up military strength wouldn’t solve the more deeply embedded problems.

“‘It was clear that putting additional troops in would gain temporary security,’ he said. ‘What was not clear to me was what we were going to do diplomatically, economically, politically and informationally to make sure that we moved forward in a way that just wasn’t temporary.’”

(That was MSNBC. I’m using these sources, since they would be most likely to contradict Rumsfeld, but surprisingly didn’t.)

If you disagree with Rumsfeld’s policies, fine. But don’t make it sound as if the ‘popularity contest’ is a valid basis for any aspect of an argument.

Miss_Anthrope on February 7, 2011 at 2:15 PM

The surge and the pro-massive force side would’ve been unnecessary had we not embarked on what Bush campaigned against–nation building.
cartooner on February 7, 2011 at 12:42 PM

Looking back, I’m pretty sure that’s why I ended up voting for Gore.

Count to 10 on February 7, 2011 at 12:46 PM

I voted for Gore, because I failed to appreciate just how bad Democratic economic and foreign policy is. I remain just as much a socially liberal environmentalist as I was in 2000. It’s the people who articulate the conservative ideas most sharply that got me to change my mind on how I vote–people like Sarah Palin and Rumsfield. Huckebee would never have influenced me.

thuja on February 7, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Rumsfeld has always been my favorite Defense Secretary. He irritated all the right flag officers…..

The thought is they would take responsibility for their own country, and defend it, even after they were defeated in combat. Big mistake there. Who knew they were incapable of being civilized until absolutely crushed……

Subsunk on February 7, 2011 at 12:34 PM

While I also like Rumsfeld, Arabs are an obstinate people. Machiavelli says to crush opponents early on, and since Hiroshima and Dresden, we don’t crush opponents anymore. (For the better I would argue) The administration also should have known that our liberals couldn’t be trusted to support the nation during a war (even though they voted for it), which made dealing with the Arabs even harder. I credit our media and liberals with numerous casualties for their near treasonous behavior. It’s fairly safe to say when dealing with liberals, one should watch one’s back. To them the ends justifies the means.

scotash on February 7, 2011 at 2:29 PM

I think Rumsfeld’s got useful things to say, and I’d agree that Rice was not an effective SecState, which isn’t to say that I think he got things right at DoD.

The real key is to ask who was responsible for convincing Bush to go into Iraq with < 200K troopers?

This, the penny-wise-and-pound-foolish approach that got us into an eight-year war when it should have been over in two, is where we paid the price for GWB's lack of national-security expertise. His father would have known that his advisers were cramming smoke in his boot.

JEM on February 7, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Rumsfeld and Cheney pulled the Bush administration to the right and gave it gravitas. Thank God for them.

In the recent Fox News series on the rise of conservatism narrated by Brit Hume, Rummy talked about how difficult it was to work for Ford when his heart was with Reagan. I was surprised, however, when Rummy published his sex tips in Esquire. Heh.

Terrie on February 7, 2011 at 2:50 PM

Subsunk on February 7, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Ditto

AH_C on February 7, 2011 at 3:27 PM

If he felt issue with Iraq were wrong, he should have been strong enough to voice his opinion to the group and explain himself. General Powell was weak.

originalpechanga on February 7, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Sad but true, but we got the hint of his character ever since Vietnam where he was just another REMF kissing his way up the chain and throwing any that stood in his way under the bus

AH_C on February 7, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Caiwyn on February 7, 2011 at 11:42 AM

It sounds as if you don’t respect people who are fired.

You must not respect General McArthur…Truman fired him during Korea.

General McCrystal, then? Obama fired him just last year, for comments he didn’t even make.

General McKiernan? Obama fired him too.

Just for your edification, Rumsfeld wasn’t fired.

Miss_Anthrope on February 7, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Hmm, I’m guessing Caiwyn doesn’t think much of our new REP from Fla, COL West (RET) and I’m sure he could drop a few other names of superior officers run out of SWA due to politically incorrect actions and/or speech. Thanks to sandbagging officers, quisling politicions and scalp hunting BLM, these honorable people were forced to leave just when their troops needed them most.

AH_C on February 7, 2011 at 3:49 PM

Gotta love him and Bolton.

Levinite on February 7, 2011 at 4:02 PM

I cannot help but admire plain-spoken men. Rummy is plain spoken.

pugwriter

to speak plainly, he’s a lying ashhole who would screw a snake if the snake promised to help him undercut a colleague whom Rumsfeld desired to treat as an enemy.

audiculous on February 7, 2011 at 8:05 PM

The real key is to ask who was responsible for convincing Bush to go into Iraq with < 200K troopers?

This, the penny-wise-and-pound-foolish approach that got us into an eight-year war when it should have been over in two, is where we paid the price for GWB's lack of national-security expertise. His father would have known that his advisers were cramming smoke in his boot.

JEM

yes.

it was a ruinous mistake and when Rumsfeld was repeatedly questioned about why we were using so few troops, he repeatedly said that it was the decision of the generals.

and it was dishonest as well as dishonorable.

audiculous on February 7, 2011 at 8:11 PM

Do you, at least, understand why Rumsfeld wanted to invade with so few troops?

blink

It wasn’t the number of troops in the initial invasion force that was the ruinous mistake and I can understand why Runsfeld went with the smaller, faster force even though the Turks blocked the northern arm.

It was the failure to reinforce and provide a force sufficient to actually control the country once we had become an occupying power.
Rumsfeld repeatedly shrugged off the question of control and kept up the mantra about how the generals said the invading force was sufficient, even after that was no longer the question.
When the generals stopped whispering in his ear after a while and started muttering aloud that we weren’t going to control the country without more troops, Rumsfeld disgracefully kicked Gen, Shinseki to the curb.

audiculous on February 7, 2011 at 10:21 PM

“Rumsfeld disgracefully kicked Gen, Shinseki to the curb.”???

Shinseki served his four years, like the other generals before him, going back some 24 years. To say that he was fired when he served the same 4 year term as everyone else is a little bit of a stretch, don’t you think?

punslinger on February 8, 2011 at 12:59 AM

Do you, at least, understand why Rumsfeld wanted to invade with so few troops?

blink on February 7, 2011 at 10:03 PM

No. If you want to beat the crap out of somebody who thinks he’s tuff, without embarrassing him. you bring way more force than necessary.

Slowburn on February 8, 2011 at 2:26 AM

“Rumsfeld disgracefully kicked Gen, Shinseki to the curb.”???

Shinseki served his four years, like the other generals before him, going back some 24 years. To say that he was fired when he served the same 4 year term as everyone else is a little bit of a stretch, don’t you think?

punslinger

Shinseki wasn’t fired, but Rumsfeld announced that he was no longer really serving, so I don’t think it much of a stretch,

audiculous on February 8, 2011 at 10:25 AM