Rumsfeld: Syria without Assad would be better


(CBS News) Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the world would be better off if Syria were led by someone who is not a member of the Assad family but he declined to offer any ideas for the Obama administration.

"The world, obviously, would be better off with the Assad family out of there. But the question is, what comes next? And that's a very tough intelligence question," Rumsfeld said in an interview with "CBS This Morning."

Asked what the United States should do about Syria, the former Defense chief said American government officials are "undoubtedly looking at the full range of possibilities from doing nothing to using military force on the ground."

"And all those things in between, covert activity, working with Kofi Annan's effort, going more seriously with an aggravation of countries that are likely to do something, do something from the air, as was done in Libya," he said.

"The intelligence undoubtedly is going to drive them toward one of those mid possibilities," Rumsfeld stressed.

Syria's top diplomats were expelled from major western capitals this week as those governments protest violence there. United Nations and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan left Damascus after calling the massacre of 108 people in Houla last Friday a tipping point in the Syrian crisis.

The U.N. Security Council will meet Wednesday to discuss what - if anything - can be done to stop the bloodshed in Syria.

Reaching any kind of unified response will prove difficult.

Officials from Russia and China reiterated earlier in the day that they're categorically opposed to any military intervention, and say it's too early for the U.N. to take any new measures.

The White House made it clear Tuesday that the Obama administration remains opposed to any military action at this stage.

Asked about reports from 2003 that his former boss, President George W. Bush, privately blocked Rumsfeld's efforts to draw up preliminary contingency plans to invade Syria after Iraq, Rumsfeld said he did not recall any talk "inside the government" to invade Syria.

Bush ruled out suggestions that the US should go to war against Syria following its military success in Iraq, Britain's Guardian newspaper reported in April 2003. The newspaper wrote that Rumsfeld "ordered contingency plans for a war on Syria to be reviewed following the fall of Baghdad."

"I don't every recall anyone discussing that," Rumsfeld told Erica Hill.