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tv   Today in Washington  CSPAN  December 28, 2011 6:00am-7:00am EST

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policy. what is the first question you ask both candidates? >> do you believe that america has an exceptional and unique role to play in the world or is america just any other country? because if america is just any other country, then you have no right to ask the american people to sustain the sacrifices that we have had to play the role that we have on behalf of the international community for now better than 60 years. so why is america exceptional? [applause] >> second question is, even though you are not responsible and we can't officially wake you up anymore, what keeps you up at night and foreign policy? what are the things you worry about that we had to worry
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about? >> well, i worry about the list of terribles. iran, pakistan. i worry about mexico. i think we don't pay enough attention to attack in america's southern border. if you live in california or new mexico commune of the drug cartels on a lot of that space between the new mexico in the southern border of the united states that's very dangerous. two years ago there were 5000 kidnappings and murders of officials -- mexican officials, probably twice that in the last couple of years. so very dangerous. but what mostly keeps me up at night is the question of whether the united states is going to reaffirm that somehow do the internal repair that we need to do to the. i worry that we can't seem to get our entitlements under control. i worry we can't get our budget deficits under control. i worry about immigration
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policy. i worry that nk child education i can look at your zip code and tell whether or not to get a good education. and that is not just wrong. it is actually probably going to undo us more quickly than anything the chinese could ever do to us. because if we have people who are unemployable, they'll have to live on the dole because so have no other choice. we will continue to have a situation which only 30% of people who take the basic skills test to get into the military can pass it. it will indeed pull us apart is a country faster than anything else. and if we are not competent and optimistic and country, we won't be. and so, that is probably the one that really keeps me up at night. >> here's my final question. if you have a choice between running for the senate in california, being a university president were being head of the national football league --
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[laughter] >> that's no contest. >> well, used to want to be the commissioner of the nfl, but i told roger caddell, when i was struggling with the iranians and russians every day, your job looked pretty good. it actually from northern california, it doesn't look so good anymore. and these days i have to say it, these days being a university professor at stanford university, where the stanford cardinal having quite a special season, you know, come on, you know what the special seasons are like you've got an event. let us have one. that's really the greatest job in the world.
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minutes. >> without we would have the scattering because secretary rumsfeld's book has not been getting very much attention, so we thought we would make up for that bailey by at least having one event. i know you're not doing anything else to make sure the boat gets the attention it deserves. it is appropriate that we are doing this here at the national constitution center because one of the things the founders were serious about unlike regimes in europe but they were starting this country to be unlike, they wanted to make sure we had a record of our leader is, what they thought about what they did in office and also they hoped
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that record would be open as soon as possible. [inaudible] >> can everyone here? >> there so much noise over to the right. [inaudible] is that what it is? >> it's a big crowd of people trying to get upstairs, which for an author is news you like to year, so will speak louder. nne caius, they hope that we have hope for what the leaders thought as soon as possible so we can learn from successes and shortcomings. as i would say, donald rumsfeld's book is in that tradition. i'm glad it's published. i think you are, too. >> thank you or >> the book is on mr. rumsfeld's entire life. i thought we'd begin by talking about iraq and work backwards. a great deal of the book is
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about iraq. i guess maybe the way to get into this as here we are in the constitution center. we just passed by a statute madison in the other room. as you know, madison gave a lot of thought to warn the president should do and how often americans who get into war. if he came back and ask you to tell him, why do we go to war in iraq, what would you say it? >> the answer would be that the congress that the united states passed a resolution overwhelmingly favoring regime change in iraq. in the night t. 90s. by an overwhelming vote. it was signed by president clinton. the united nations issued some 17 different resolutions, advising iraq that they should conform to the resolutions, the request of the u.n. security council to allow the resent
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their country to provide the aspect there is the information on their weapons of mass destruction. and the united nations had then repeatedly rebuffed. president george w. bush made a decision when he first came into office that he was concerned about the fact that iraq was firing regularly at the united states and united kingdom aircraft that were supporting the united nations no flies on them patrolling in the northern and southern portion of iraq. those plans are being shot at almost every day. the only country in the world they were shooting at american and british aircraft over 2000 times they were fired on. the joint chiefs of staff advise me in the president they were concerned about the fact that eventually one of our planes in a british plane or planes would
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be shut down and the crews would be killed or taken hostage. third, the united states department of state had listed iraq is one of the countries on the terrorist list. so there were a series of things like that by way of background. next come in the united states intelligence agencies spend a great deal of time and determined that they were convinced that the iraqi government had weapons of mass destruction, had the competence to continue developing weapons of mass destruction and that capability to rapidly expand its capabilities in the event they decided to do so. you have a country in iraq that had used chemical weapons on its own people, the kurds. a country had used chemical weapons against its neighbor and
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he ran. and a behavior pattern that persuaded people that they not only have them, but would use them. and we were at a point in our countries history where the lethality of weapons hunt arrived at the point that once you mix them with someone who is willing to proliferate those weapons and once you've given, allowed them to someone who has demonstrated willingness to use them as well as proliferate them, the danger of the lethality was so great that president bush went to the congress and told the congress what they believed. >> was there every thought of a war declaration instead of going through resolution? >> no. i don't know. that would've been something the department of state would've done with the president. >> we have not had a declaration of war since 1991.
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>> not korean war, not vietnam, not the incursions president clinton was involved in. >> would it have brought american foreign to this? >> i doubt it. i think that -- you never know. that is a road they didn't travel and i can't really say. but i think the resolution passed by congress and in the resolutions by the united nations provided an underpinning the other thing habitat to the former president is that president bush and colin powell and condi rice and george tenant and the vice president, all of us discussed the hope that they would not be a conflict and that saddam hussain could be persuaded to leave the country and not require an invasion of the country. and there were messages passed and request made and they were
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rebuffed. i mean that saddam hussein very likely was purposely trying to make the world believe he has large stock piles. i think that he felt he had friends in the united nations who might evil to stop the united kingdom, the united states and various other countries that were supporting the coalition and prevent them from going in. and i also think that because president george w. bush's father had gone into iraq after iraq invaded kuwait and caused them to be removed from kuwait, but did not change the regime, there's good evidence that saddam hussein believed that america would not change the regime. that he would survive even though the united states may come in. so, there were a combination of things taking place that argued
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for it and there was a behavior problem on the part of iraq, misguided as it turned out and he refused to live with his family, which was offered and urged. and war is the failure of diplomacy. >> as you quote in the book, one thing i think people will be very surprised to read about his president bush never asked you for your advice on whether the country should go to war against iraq. would that violate one of rumsfeld's rules? >> no, i don't think so. i don't know that he asked colin powell or condi rice or the vice president. he was the president. he was elected by the american people. we had frequent meetings and discussed various aspects of the situation. they worked very hard with the united nations to try to put additional pressure on saddam hussein so that he wouldn't continue to resist.
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i'm the president did what a president has to do. he made the decision and i assume that everyone in that group would have argued vehemently if they disagreed if no one did. >> how do you think people in the future will look back at this decision in iraq? >> is hard to know. you know, the road not traveled is always smoother than one looks at him and thinks, what if and when this? i think a little known fact is that gadhafi, the head of libya at that point at a very aggressive nuclear program underway. and when the united states went in and change the regime in iraq, gadhafi who had been working very hard on a nuclear program very high in the terrorist was decided that he would forgo his nuclear program.
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he contacted some western leaders had indicated, look, i do have this nuclear program. i'm willing to stop it. i'm willing to have it inspected that i stop it because i do not want to suffer the same fate as saddam hussein. so if you look at the region, there is some disadvantages that linger from the conflict. at the same token, you have a country of iraq that no longer has a truly vicious, brutal regime, that it used chemical weapons against its own people and its neighbors. it's gone. the iraqi people have fashioned a constitution, have elections under the const dictations and are finding their way towards away from their oppressive system towards a freer political and freer economic system. in other countries in the region, such as libya are
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engaged in a behavior pattern that is vastly better for the world and for the region. so there are minuses, is and there are some pluses. and i think you're an outstanding historian and i think it will be people like you who overtime will play all those things and with the benefit is some distance, make some judgments. >> a little while from now. let's go back to the beginning. you were born in chicago, groping winnetka, illinois, which is not quite as prosperous as it is today. a little villages you read about and what to high school, went on to princeton. is that a bit of a culture shock coming from the midwest? >> my goodness, it was indeed. i was still going to a big 10 school and wrestled genovese
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said no, no, we've got to go to princeton. why? he said that's where you belong. i said i can't go there. at about the money. he set a date with scholarship,, which he did. so i went and of course most of the people going to private schools. they've taken a course is before and i got there and i worked my head off. i spent a lot of time in the library for playing football or wrestling and never did much other than not. there were no women in the school. it rains a lot. [laughter] not my first choice. and my wife here was off at the university of colorado comiskey in her way through college and it was a totally different experience for me. >> you've also heard a little talk by princetonians would run for president who had been nominated once.
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i found the book, but i'm told you actually know some of those words almost by heart. >> it was in a senior banquet 1954 and the former governor of illinois was at the stevenson had lost to dwight eisenhower in 52 and later lost and 56. it is a senior banquet in college and he came to speak at princeton. and he gave the most eloquent and persuasive speech about public service that i had ever heard or will ever hear. it was an evening event and all of us just sat there listening to this brilliant, he caught an egghead. and he himself used to say -- what is it, something about --
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>> you have nothing to lose but your yolks. >> yes, exactly. i think all of it who were getting ready to go in the military, all of us came away with a sense of responsibility. and one of the things he said was that young people in our country have a responsibility to help guide and current the course of our country and the power of the american political system is virtually without measurement. if america were to stumble, the world would follow. and it had an impact on me. i have put up a website with hundreds of memos that i believe support the book that we've got here. you can go to an end note and go to the website and actually see
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the entire memo if i quoted paragraph. but i'm also positively but at least the stevenson's speech on my website and i highly recommend it. it is a wonderfully inspiring speech. >> although he did not venture to become a democrat obviously, was there any point in your early life he would've been anything but a republican? >> i goodness, yes. during world war ii as a young man, my father was in the navy. franklin roosevelt was about the only president in my lifetime between 1932 and i guess he was sworn in and dirty three and i was born in july of 32, but i never knew herbert hoover personally. but franklin roosevelt was the president. he represented the united states of america have more time. and my parents, i never want my
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new would look to him as the leader of our country. it was enormously important for young man. >> and you were so taken the stevenson and what he said that a sin that has some influence over the fact that he ran for congress at the age of 29, very dark horse 1962. most people don't run for congress utterly. at least they did in those days. as he said, is younger than it is nowadays. what moved you to get answers to? >> well, i was the longest of long shots. i had been away from my home district for a decade. i've done for your sick college cometh reenactors in the navy and then worked in washing 10 for two congressmen. one from ohio one from michigan. i've never met a congressman before in my life and then i'd come to chicago, home. and suddenly out of the blue, a woman who was a congresswoman,
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who had succeeded her husband and they had occupied the congressional district from 1932 until 1960. and she announced she wasn't going to run for reelection. and i thought to myself, my goodness, that same family had owned by district for the entire lifetime. >> you may not get another chance. >> so i talked to choice and choose game she said we got a whole bunch of friends from high school and college and god bless them, they went out there informed i think some in like 1500 volunteers helping and people running around with car tabs on their cars saying rumsfeld for congress with earrings, but, bumper stickers. and sure enough i was fortunate. one of the thing that might have hoped, michael, if president kennedy had gotten elected two years before. >> he ran for congress the
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29th eared >> he had served in the senate for part of a turban and a run for president. he was a young president and he had been elected and he was so charming and humorous. >> in the first president so you post for a picture during the campaign and as a new congressmen, i think within your first couple months went to the white house and that kennedy. >> i did indeed. but the fact we had such an attract the young president hadn't appealed the district and indicate 29 years old running for congress look like maybe he could actually be a congressman. >> and so it proved to be. you came to washington and among the things he did in washington and you write about in the book is you attended a briefing by lyndon johnson in vietnam. a little bit about that because you actually spoke up in that briefing and away i think very few people did. >> well, this wonderful vice
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president, hubert humphrey was called a happy warrior and just a wonderfully energetic and appealing person. he was vice president india just had just come back from vietnam. vietnam was increasingly becoming a major political fact during the country. it had not been when i first ran in 62. but i tend to 64, 66, 65. so president johnson was getting complaints that members of congress didn't feel they were being informed about the war. >> owl -- however could they said such a thing quiet >> so he invited members of congress to the white house. a large number went down. 100, 150 of us. it was winter as i recall. the invitation came late and we went in and it's not a thing for a congressman to be heading
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briefed by the president and vice president who had just come back from vietnam. and hubert humphrey started to get the briefing and lyndon baines johnson was commander-in-chief and he was bigger than life. you pop up every time someone would say something and answer the question and hubert would just about be ready to answer and stuff and lyndon johnson would take over. >> that's pretty much the way it usually works, too. >> yes indeed. he was a powerful figure. >> johnson was talking about the things he was doing to win the award. you piped up and said what i mean hall's? >> he was, you know, as a congressman listening to him i was probably more critical than it would've been as a member of the executive branch being asked questions, which by then was of congress. so where you stand kind of depends on where you sit. but he was going through a
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period where he was trying to figure out what to do in the war in vietnam. and he would go through a heavy bombing. and then there would be a bombing pause and he would hope that that would cause a positive reaction from the north vietnamese or the vietcong and it didn't. and he, in explaining what he was doing, was asked a question by democratic congressman named john from texas about why it wasn't working. and his answer was in effect that it would work. and of course, the fact was if you do something for you. and then stopped completely, it is confusing. it can be seen to our people. it's confusing to the enemy and i did ask a question and try to get some response from hans asked you how the combination of off and on was going to work.
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the way it's going to work as more of the same. and at that point he was in a bombing pause, and he had a tough job as president and he did his best. >> in retrospect, what do you think his mistakes are in vietnam and making the decision the way it was for? >> well, i wasn't in his shoes and it's hard to say for sure, but in the last analysis come in that country was going to have to find its way itself. and the task we had was not to try to go after the north vietnamese were the vietcong alone because all they have to do was disappear. they didn't have to fight a single battle. they could just disappear in a week later show back a. they could go harvest the rice and then come back and you could have what u.s. forces from one
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end of the country to the other and they would've just disappeared into the countryside. and then, when he passed, they would come right back. in my view in retrospect, what the benefit of hindsight, the task was really to try to get this out vietnamese government capable of organizing and training and equipping their own forces and providing funding for the people of south vietnam and the rest of vietnam that offered a promise for them for a future. and i think ho chi minh was more successful and suggesting to the vietnamese people at their future under him would be brighter for those people. there is an argument made by the south vietnamese government was corrupt and out of touch with people. that is not unusual in the world for governments to be labeled curragh.
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a great many in the world are corrupt. i don't know that they north vietnamese was not corrupt. that was an argument. and the combination of those things i think created a very difficult circumstance for lyndon johnson and the united states of america. >> in 1968, richard nixon was elected. he comes to you and asks you to take on the office of economic opportunity, one of the crown jewels of the great society, not very path of the republicans are next and he basically wanted to dismantle it. not a great career move for you i think, but she did it. what is your rationale? >> i'd voted against the legislation when it was passed. sargent shriver recently passed away in the person who headed up the office of economic opportunity. and it started under president kennedy and he and his brother, bobby kennedy and the justice
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department had fashioned a program to try to assist the poor in the country and then president johnson came in with his vague texas approach and enlarged it and it became the war to eradicate poverty. if you define poverty is a certain percentage of the population and then you try to eradicate it, it is not possible because it is always going to be a certain percentage of it's in that category. they immediately started a host of programs. there is the job corps, head start, migrant programs, health care programs, drug programs. there must've been 12 or 15 different programs under this program in the war on poverty. the design was that it would bypass governors and mayors, elected officials.
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and that had the effect of angering republican and democrat mayors and public officials because the money would come straight from the federal government to organizations that were described as having maximum feasible participation of the poor was the concept. in bypassing the mayors. so local city councils and state governments were constantly being aroused. as a legal services program. the office of economic opportunity then filed lawsuits against mayors and governors and city councils. all of the people, regardless of political party had nothing to do with politics. it was against the structure, so by the time they went in there, it was widely displayed.
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>> your ui are promising republican people. even then talking about you as a possible future president. isn't this sort of a graveyard for a career like that? >> well, joyce estate somewhat unusual sense of humor. one night i went to the icebox and there is a sign that said, he tackled a job that couldn't be done with this night we went right to it. he tackled a job that couldn't be done. and couldn't do it. [laughter] you last. at 10:00 at night and i was reaching in for a soda pop in reading that, that slows you down i'll tell you. [laughter] >> so you did that. you and onto to the next white house. you're right in the book that she wanted to believe washington of 1972. the juicy watergate coming? >> no, i didn't know. one time someone wrote -- i ended up going over as
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ambassador to nato after the 1972 election and the pundits in washington couldn't believe that i would leave the seat of power. i was a member of the cabinet and the white house and suddenly i'm going off to brussels belgium doesn't like siberia to political people in the white house because in proximity to power is considered in washington what one would want. i did just the opposite. i want thousands of miles in the other direction. some wag wrote in some magazine in washington after watergate broke, was the smartest man in washington? answer, don rumsfeld. it is not in washington. answer, that's right. and i got a reputation for being smart and set of lucky. i had no more idea what was going on. an encounter richard nixon had just been reelected by one of
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the biggest margins in the history of the country. he won every seat in the union except massachusetts and the district of columbia. and no one could imagine that i would want to get away. excuse me. but i would want to be away from that is the poster read in the middle of it. but we did. we took our family went to belgium and what a truly wonderful experience representing our country overseas. >> and i drove ford becomes president after the nixon resignation. you're a great friend in the 1960s came in saying he wanted a staff that would be spokes of the wheel. everyone would report directly to the president. you are brought in after a month when he thought that was not working very well. was that a time -- it's been said a lot that people who worked for president ford were very much impressed with the fact that presidential power was so much at its nadir. did you see signs of that? >> show ford was the legislator and he was a minority leader.
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and he functioned on the spokes of the wheel concept, where one could come to see him and he liked people. is it graciously, wonderfully warm decent man. anyone who wanted to have access to him could. has minority theater of the united states house of representatives that worked. in fact, who was positive. the president of the united states can't do that. it just doesn't work. it's dysfunctional. and he had watched the nixon white house. and i believe he believes are part of the reason for nixon's downfall was davis love is called the berlin wall, this type white house staff system run by bob haldeman and john ehrlichman that they called the berlin wall because they both had names that sounded vaguely germanic. and so, he did not want that. and he said he'd establish this
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any first asked al haig to stay on and then it turned already thought he couldn't keep out and i went over as allied commander in europe. he asked me to come in and i told them i wouldn't do it. it couldn't be done. the model he designed wasn't going to work. and he said i know that now, but i want to have to get from where i am to where i want to be. just give me a little slack while we navigate over to a rational white house chief of staff system. >> what i'm thinking a little bit is dick cheney has said that serving as chief of staff is your successor under president ford, he saw so many signs of the fact that presidents were constrained in the wake of watergate congress is moving in. when he became vice president, one of the things he hope to do was expand presidential power and move the pendulum the other way. did you feel the same way? >> when you have an embattled
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president functioning in a white house that at that point was deemed illegitimate, watergate had drained the reservoir of trust in our country. and for the first time in our history, a president of the united states had to resign. it was a stunning event and our country, and the world. and when you turn the reservoir of trust, which is how we govern our country. we don't govern by command. we governed by persuasion and through leadership. you have to be able to persuade. and if there's no trust, you can't persuade. people don't respond. and the white house is in that terrible, terrible circumstance. >> the effect of that was that he had a dilemma.
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should he go for continuity, which would reassure the american people that he come a total unknown who had never been elected president or vice president with no campaign staff, no platform, no knowledge about the country having campaign the country, no base of support, he felt a need to reassure the country that there would be continuity in policies. the alternative would have been which i favored huge favor change. my view was if that institution of the white house was deemed illegitimate and not trustworthy, then-president ford had to create sufficient changed would not be seeing is a continuum of the nixon ford white house, but as a ford white house. he made an out changes in the cabinet and staff that people
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would see him as stepping forward with a new change. he opted for continuity and pay the penalty. >> you think you should not? >> i don't. he should've made enough changes. he was such a decent kind man. is that i don't want to let anyone go and have it appear that they did something wrong because there were a handful of people who did something wrong in that white house. it was not a large number and there were truly wonderful people there. pat moynihan was there an alan greenspan was there and george shultz was there and a host of dr. simon.whitman and so many people that wonderful reputations. and gerald ford just could not bring himself. he just didn't want to do it because he felt it would be a tarnish. >> unlike him. >> u. later rest in this book a story about how the elder president bush, george h.w. bush went to the cia in 1975.
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you want to tell us briefly the story in which you feel the real story was? >> what do you mean what i feel there will story was? >> what the real story was. total whole story and in god's truth. >> gods truth. now you're talking. george herbert walker bush came to congress in 1966. i've been elected in 62. he came in with a wonderful group of people and i knew him and served in the congress with him. he at some point ended up running for the senate and losing. and then he went over to china as a representative. and he wanted to come back. and he told president ford that he wants come back and serve in an executive position. and i was chief of staff of the white house and periodically i would be asked by the president to send in a group of names to be attorney general or director of cia and bill colby said he wanted to leave or some other
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cabinet officer, department of housing and urban development or what have you. as of the staff in the white house would produce these documents if you are six or eight names of people in the pros and cons and the people who favor these, where they rank them. and in the present of a book and asked to head the fbi take a check or ask other people to that for now. and that kind of a thing when and when the president said director colby wanted to leave the cia. and bush's name is on that list that the staff produced and people at them first, second, third, forth above the line or below the line. and for whatever reason, there is a myth created that because i had been considered for vice president when president ford pick nelson rockefeller and george bush -- herbert walker bush had been considered, that we were competitive.
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so then this came out that when he was sent to the cia, the senate said we won't confirm him unless you agree that he will not be vice president. so it kind of ruled him out. and i told president ford i thought he shouldn't do that, that he should definitely not allow the senate to tell him through put the country should have as a vice presidential nominee. i urge you not to agree. the facts are that george herbert walker bush bid for president to tell them he would not be vp. he wanted to be director of the caa. his wife wrote a book and said he was thrilled to be nominated for that. and somehow or another to miss came around i was the one who masterminded all of this and arranged for him not to be considered for vice president. >> you read in the book that he believed that. >> i don't know that he believed it. i know that the myth persisted.
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i finally was tired of it and i wrote president ford and said, give me a letter that tells me what the facts are. he wrote back and said you're quite right. george herbert walker bush bid to be head of the caa, wanted to the head of the cia was delighted in you had nothing to do with it. do not belong in the short of it. in our world, narratives and theories get strung out over a period of time until it is like they are chipped installed and true notwithstanding the fact that they are totally based in midair, without any roosters substance to them at all. >> so let's move the clock up since we don't have a lot of time. 2000, george bush's son is elected president and you could see him. did you have any thought you'd be you'd be asked to go in the cabinet? >> goodness, no. i was an old man. [laughter] joyce and i had gone to her
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50th high school reunion and illinois and in the year 2000, i think in september. enjoys with her perception and wisdom and foresight announced to her friends that this was the beginning of our rural. this is in september of 2000. and we had no more idea and the world that i would end up back in government. had no particular desire to. we were happy in life is good. i'd been in business for a period of years. >> and very successful. >> and served as several government commissions. on the ballistic missile said in one of space and i was contributing in the volunteer way. >> when he became secretary of defense, how it can change at the pentagon in washington in general since 1977? >> i wish i knew the actual numbers, but for one thing,
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congressional staffs have ballooned and had grown by a multiple of two, three or four. the defense authorization bill is a piece of legislation at the congress passes in each house in n.a.b. conference and there's a piece of paper, papers that represent the authorization bill, telling the department of defense but it can do for the next year. when i left as secretary of defense in 1976, the defense authorization bill had 74 pages. when i came back in the year 2001, the defense authorization bill had something like 574 pages. that is going to be off by a few, but it's good enough for government work. you get a sense of what it changed. what had changed is that the department of defense is
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enormous and there is no way it can be efficiently run. government is almost inherently an efficient because it can't die. it doesn't go away. unlike a business. you drive down any street in philadelphia and you'll see a retail operation i was there one day and it's gone the next. it can fail. government just stays there. so the inefficiencies compound. and the effect of it is that it is not efficient and to the extent something is not efficient, then the congress, concerned about representing their come if you any responsibility for oversight, legislative oversight to see something wrong and besides the way to fix it is to require another report or to hire more people to monitor something were to have more hearings and to look into it. so what you see is how many people are old enough to remember bold first couple through member of the through?
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an old fusions for this big. goals were finally put so many threads over gulliver that he couldn't knows. not one of those threads was doing the job. it was the thousands of threads that prevented him from moving. and that is where we have arrived in government. we have so much oversight in so many pages of micro requirements can so many reports to be filed that it consumes just an enormous amount of time. there are over 10,000 lawyers in the department of defense. imagine. i've got nothing -- i've got nothing against lawyers, but i don't know how -- to >> delivers her walking out of the room right now. >> i don't know how any organization can function with 10,000 lawyers. [laughter] just kidding.
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>> i'm going to push you to skip to the rest of us because we haven't got much time and i want to get to do the things that happened obviously during that decade. 9/11. in retrospect, do you think 9/11 could have been averted if you were able to rewind the tape? if earlier presidents behave differently. was that the extent to some of things the president did or did not do? >> you know, i am not one who can answer a question like that. i'm the one hand just logically come you said yourself, there must've been some things that might have been done differently on the other hand, the task of the intelligence community is truly difficult. it is just a very, very tough job. the world is a big place. the terrorist networks in the
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closed societies in many countries make it enormously difficult to gather intelligence that can be useful and actionable. in my adult life, i have seen literally dozens of instances, where our intelligence community has failed to predict something. it was a very funny book called pearl harbor by roberto wohlstetter and the forward to that book was written by a think a -- i think he was harbored at the time named dr., shelling. he wrote this forward about surprise. he characterized pearl harbor is a failure of imagination. and of course there were so many hearings after pearl harbor, what might have been done, who might have known this. was it great to have a concentration of our battleships
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immobilized and vulnerable as they were with all of our planes on the ground on a sunday morning. i'm tram? i look back on nine 9/11 and i am aware of the reappraisals and lessons learned that have been done. and there's no question that the fact that the united states of america in the case of somalia, after being attacked, pulled back. in an instance in haiti was attacked in some ships pulled away. i think it was bosnia, some folks went across the line and were captured and we pulled back several collaborators. and lebanon, after the marines were killed in the barracks there at the airport in beirut, the united states withdrew their forces. after the khobar towers and the
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uss cole were attacked by terrorists among the reaction of the united states was minimal i would say. there were some cruise missiles launched on a couple of occasions. if you think about it, the terrorist that organize these kinds of activities don't have countries to defend. they don't have populations to defend. they don't have real estate and infrastructure they want to protect. they operate in the shadows and you can operate a lot of cruise missiles and drop an awful lot of bombs and do precious little damage to the terrorist network. they came away having drawn a lesson and have said as much. osama bin laden has said on many occasions on video for the united states was a paper tiger. and if the united states is yet, it will react. it will withdraw.
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it won't reach out and do damage to the people imposing that damage on our country. so someone could make a case that that pattern -- the weakness is provocative, that to the extent we behave in a manner that is weak and allows those kinds of things, that it provokes people into doing things they might otherwise not do. they wouldn't think of doing it if they felt they would be instantaneous punishment for doing it. but listen, the last thing i would do would be to say that there is something somebody could have done to have prevented september 11. i just -- i would say it like pearl harbor is a failure of imagination and probably a relatively understandable failure of imagination. >> maybe a couple questions from the audience. one is about iraq and vietnam. do you think that is a fair comparison?
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>> are certainly similarities and certainly notable differences between the two. the vietnamese were not likely to come and attack the united states of america. the terrorist threat, the dean shares in iraq was on the terrorist list. the terrorist threat was a very real one to our country. and al qaeda had demonstrated that it would come and attack america. now, there is no direct link between al qaeda and iraq. there certainly was between afghanistan and iraq. iraq was on the terrorist list. and iraq had a pattern of having developed weapons of mass destruction. and so there was -- there were these things that affected it. but i would say that -- i think
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the differences are greater than the similarities, but there certainly were similarities. >> out of beta in the case of johnson. you and i both know a lot about the people who worked for lyndon johnson. one thing they say it's a tough thing for them is when people say last my son in vietnam. why did he die? would you say for iraq? >> it is the hardest thing. i think anyone who is in a position of responsibility, with a conflict occurs and you will come as choice and i would go to the hospitals to meet with the wounded whose lives are changed forever, and meet with their families and meet with the families of those who have been killed, we would need to ourselves, we are going in, what is it that we could say or do that would help them understand
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the appreciation that we in america have for this sacrifice? the individual sacrifices and the sacrifices of families as well because he sacrificed and they serve. and we would come out of those meetings almost invariably inspired, not feeling that we had hoped to them, but feeling they had hoped us. the pride they have in their service, the cohesion they feel with the units they were and come in their desire get back to their unit, you just could not fail to come out of those meetings inspired by the young men and women. the big difference between the vietnam war and the conflicts
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today is that thanks to milton friedman and richard nixon in the congress, we have an all volunteer military. every single one of those people who serve our country serve because they wanted to serve. they serve because they consciously decided they wanted to raise their hand and go and help protect our country. but not dedication and on the patriotism and that pride is so powerful. now, how does one answer that? spicing answer is that -- >> with the johnson people said he still pushed us to tell exactly what the sacrifices made for. does anyone ever do that when you see them? >> sure, sure. >> world war ii i assume that is not hard. but a war like iraq or vietnam or something that is not full
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throttle, what do you say? >> a war that his armies against navy, air force against air force, that is clear. that's understandable. it starts and ends. it ended world war ii on the uss missouri battleship at the signing ceremony. what went through the cold war was quite different. it was many decades long. it was an ideological competition of ideas. there was never going to be a signing ceremony. what we are in today is much more like that. it is a longer period of time. it's a marathon, not a sprint. it is a competition of ideas. but for whatever reason, we are hesitant and not skillful and engaging in the competition of ideas. we recognize the overwhelming ideas of the muslims on the face of this earth are you fine
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people who have a religion that may be different from christianity or judaism or other religions, but they are not radicals. they're not terrorists. they are fine people. and yet, there is a small minority of muslims that have engaged in terrorist acts that organize to do those things. and we are reluctant as americans to take a bad debate can compete with those ideas. they are not reluctant. there are recruiting. they are out raising money. they are out organizing and there are planning attacks against the nationstate, that because they have a conviction that it is their calling to do that. so the fact that we are willing to engage in that debate were not skillful addict or reluctant to do it leaves people with a vagueness as to why -- why people have to do things.
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the wonderful thing i found that the men and women in the armed forces is that they are there whether they are serving in korea or in bosnia or in iraq or afghanistan. they know what they are doing. they understand it. they are proud of what they were doing. thanks to modern communications and e-mails, they are able to communicate with their families and their families and the company sent what they are doing and why they are doing it. and when there is a loss of life, it is heartbreaking. when there is a loss of limb, is heartbreaking. and yet, he talked to those families and you talk to those people and they don't ask why was i dare? they know why they were there and they are proud that they were there. and we're very fortunate country. >> that's for sure. you are a very close to that leadership as well as a leader ur


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