Rumsfeld challenged about Iraq, heckled by protesters

Anti-war protesters repeatedly interrupted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during a speech Thursday, and one of them, a former CIA analyst, accused him in a question-and-answer session of lying about prewar intelligence on Iraq.

"Why did you lie to get us into a war that caused these kind of casualties and was not necessary?" asked Ray McGovern, the former analyst. He said Rumsfeld had told a "lie" about supposedly known caches of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and had falsely linked al-Qaida to Saddam Hussein's regime.

"I did not lie," shot back Rumsfeld, who waved off security guards ready to remove McGovern from the hall at the Southern Center for International Studies.

With Iraq war support remaining low, it is not unusual for top Bush administration officials to encounter protests and hostile questions. But the outbursts Rumsfeld confronted on Thursday seemed beyond the usual.

Three protesters were escorted away by security as each interrupted Rumsfeld's speech by jumping up and shouting anti-war messages. Throughout the speech, a fourth protester stood up in the middle of the room with his back to Rumsfeld in silent protest.

Rumsfeld also faced tough questions from a woman identifying herself as Patricia Robertson, who said she had lost her son in Iraq. Robertson said she is now raising her grandson and asked whether the government could provide any help.

Rumsfeld referred her to a Web site listing aid organizations.

President George W. Bush seldom faces such challenges. Demonstrators usually are kept far from him when he delivers public remarks, reports AP.

O.Ch.