tv Charlie Rose PBS June 12, 2012 12:00am-1:00am PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with henry crumpton, a former c.i.a. official. his new book is called "the art of intelligence." the next mission for the u.s. government as a whole in the international community as a whole was to help the afghans secure their nation so al qaeda and the taliban could not come back. and in that there's been failure. >> rose: we conclude this evening with a conversation with the former president of abc news david westin. >> you get paid everyday to come in and work with really smart people who are passionate and interesting to find out things nobody else knows about things that matter. and then to try your best to explain it to the american people and if you get lucky on a good day-- it doesn't happen everyday-- you have a chance of making the world a bit better place and are aren't many m jobs like that. >> rose: henry crumpton and
captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: henry crumpton is here. he spent 24 years as an officer in the c.i.a.'s clandestine service. he began his career at age 23 as a field agent in africa. he rose to the rank of deputy director for the center of counterterrorism. in the days following 9/11 he was in charge of the covert u.s. response. here is crumpton on "60 minutes" last month reflecting on his leadership of the u.s. mission in afghanistan. >> they expected that we would not respond in any meaningful way. >> weakness. >> weakness. and the enemy thought the u.s. was weak. the last thing they thought is that we would drop commandos-- c.i.a. and special forces-- behind their lines and we would
assume the role of insurgents and forge these deep alliances with these afghan tribal leaders these non-state actors. and in a matter of 90 days subvert and overthrow the taliban regime and kill large numbers of al qaeda. >> rose: his new memoirs follows his years in the c.i.a., the fight against terrorism and the changing warfare. it's called "the art of intelligence" and i'm pleased to have henry crumpton back at this table. welcome. >> charlie, thanks, good to be here. >> rose: you wanted to be in the c.i.a. when you were ten years old? 12 years mold? >> i wrote to them when i was ten or 11 years old and got a response to my shock and surprise. >> rose: get an education and come back. >> yeah, they said grow up, reapply and i did. >> rose: more than once. >> i applied when i was 21. they said i was too young, insuchly experience sod i went at them again another year later. >> rose: but you got in and ended up in africa.
>> i had ten years in africa, different countries. our mission was to recruit foreign nationals to spy for the c.i.a. and during that time, of course, a lot of the hot battles of the cold war being waged and there was a great place... >> rose: russia, battleground africa. >> that's right. and all the bits and pieces that went along with it and these various insurgencies throughout the continent. >> rose: u.s. versus the soviet union. so what would you do? you go to a place, off cover and you seek out people that will do what? >> well, you try to understand their motivations. first you need to find people that have access to secrets. to secret that the u.s. government needs. then you try to understand what their needs are, what their motivations are and forge common ground. to the extent you can do that and find that common ground you recruit these people to spy for the c.i.a. >> rose: what misconceptions do we have about this? >> well, ifv"z address it in te book that i think most americans
have a view of a c.i.a. officer perhaps in a negative light as portrayed in popular media that there's this deep moral ambivalence and there's corruption involved. on the other hand, i think there's some... they may ceci yay officers as great heroic figures, and there are some of them. but really the intelligence officer working for the c.i.a. is indeed courageous and focused on the collection of intelligence and in some cases covert action. public perception, i believe is more on the covert action part-- underscore action-- but the foundation for all that and the bulk of my work was collecting intelligence and writing report >> rose:. where were you? >> i was posted overseas after three years in washington, d.c. working in the counterterrorism arena here. and it was a great field assignment. i had been there about 70 days and 9/11 occurred.
and kofr black, who was the chief of the counterterrorism center under the direction of director tenant asked me to return... >> rose: george tenant? >> yes, george tenant and kofer asked me to lead the c.i.a. response. >> rose: what was his job at the time? >> he was chief of count terrorism center. >> when a career c.i.a. officer or someone like yourself says the kind of guy you can bet your life on, you mean that literally? >> literally. this is not working for a wall street law firm. dog eat dog. nobody dies. we're talking a where the life and well-being of your colleagues are at risk. >> the c.i.a. was given the lead role in prosecuting a war for the first time in history and black promised then-president george w. bush the agency was up to the task.
>> i said mr. president these guys are going to have flies walking across your eyeballs. this suspect a joke, this is a statement of fact of what's going to happen. >> he responded? >> he asked me again to validate whether i could do this and i said mr. president there's no doubt in my mind... there's no doubt in my mind i knew planning i knew people, i knew hank crumpton. >> rose: there's cofer black talking about you. >> uh-huh. >> rose: why do you, being immodest, believe you were good at this? >> well, it was driven by a mission to serve my nation and over the years i had focused on the craft... the art of intelligence and i'd engage in what i think was a determined deliberate practice, to become a very good spy and particularly in the latter years working in counterterrorism and i had
advocated for more aggressive posture operations inside afghanistan and... >> rose: what did that mean, more aggressive actions? >> having more men in afghanistan and, bernie madoff, charlie, we started sending... bear in mind we started sending teams into afghanistan in september 1999, two years before 9/11 and i advocated that strongly. in fact, i had wanted to have a permanent presence there. i had wanted more aggressive lethal action against al qaeda and the taliban and so cofer understood that and he had confidence in my leadership skills and i'm eternally grateful he gave me the opportunity. >> rose: and then there's one incident i want to talk about before we talk about 9/11 is when you almost had osama bin laden. how close was that? >> there were multiple occasions where our human source reporting was very good, very accurate and
bear in mind the c.i.a. established an office in 1996 dedicated to al qaeda to the pursuit of bin laden. so for years even before i arrived at the counterterrorism center c.i.a. had been working this. half a dozen very credible reports, for me the most obvious... the most frustrating was in the late summer of 2000 when human sources had directed us to a compound near kandahar in southern afghanistan and based on that reporting we directed a predator... we flew a predator over the compound and sure enough bin laden was there. >> rose: certain. >> absolutely. 6'4, he was in white, a security detail. it fit perfectly with the multiple human sources that we had on the ground at the time. >> rose: and what happened? >> we reported to the white house right away, of course, that bin laden was, indeed, there. >> rose: richard clark was or was not at the white house at this time? >> he was. he was an ally in terms of wanting the u.s. government, the c.i.a. to be more aggressive.
and at this point the white house responded that cruise missiles launched from submarines would take five, six hours to reach the target so the new requirement to us was where would bin laden be six hours from now? and, of course, we could not predict that. and from that point we said okay we'll have to develop a means to respond right then and right there and that led to us attaching hellfire missiles. >> rose: did that decision go up to the president? >> i would only assume it would because this covert action finding was signed by president clinton. that's his responsibility. but whether that specific intelligence went to him on that day or not, i don't know. >> rose: and would in the a matter of course normally go for that? that's such a serious issue you'd want the president to sign off on it. >> yes and i would think so. i would hope so. >> rose: has he acknowledged that or not? >> i haven't talked to him about it. i don't know. >> rose: you're not interested. >> i'm very interested in what his decision was on that day, of
course. >> rose: because you would have had him and avoided 9/11. >> well, it's possible. i think if we had had greater authorities and greater resources going back to the years, the chances of 9/11 would have been greatly diminished, certainly. >> rose: okay. would the chances of 9/11 been greatly diminished if there had been more corporation, disclosure, transparency between c.i.a. and f.b.i.? >> well, both. but you had f.b.i. special agents working for me inside the c.i.a. counterterrorism center. you had c.i.a. officers working inside f.b.i. headquarters. so i don't think there was any intent or purposeful efforts to not be transparent. i mean, the[áá organizations work hard to integrate their personnel and to share information. but charlie i don't know anything more imperfect in all of man's endeavors than espionage and war. and if you seek tactical
intelligence perfection, which is what we're talking about, knowing exactly when and where and how al qaeda would attack on 9/11 well often that's not going to be met. particularly-- and this is the point... one of the points i make in the book-- in the context of strategic policy failure. where you've had repeated strategic warning from the c.i.a. about the al qaeda threat specifically in august of 2001 when the c.i.a. wrote a memo about al qaeda's intention to attack the u.s. with the reference to new york city in that memo. >> rose: today you think it's much better. >> i do. i think administrations both republican and democrat have learned a lot. the al qaeda central command control has been severely degraded as recently, again, as a couple days ago when al-libi was killed in a hellfire strike
from a drone. so i think their capabilities in south asia and worldwide are crippled. however, i still have concerns, particularly about al qaeda in the arraignian peninsula in yemen. >> rose:" was just killed in the drone mission, number two behind al-zawahiri. >> right. >> rose: the operational guy. >> yes. al-libi. he was a fighter. had been in the battlefield for years. in fact, he was captured by coalition forces and imprisoned at bagram air base but escaped, got back to pakistan and quickly rose through the ranks. he was a very careable leader and this is very important victory, but incomplete. >> rose: tell us how these things happen. a drone missile takes out the number-two guy at al qaeda. >> well, first of all it's an intelligence success because you have to find him.
find one individual in a very complex environment not just in terms of the physical geography but in terms of the social geography and then executing with precision using a hellfire missile-- the warhead is only about 20 pounds, a very precise weapon-- it's, i believe, changing the nature of warfare. >> rose: changing the nature of warfare? >> yes. >> rose: so the future of warfare looks like what? >> well, again, in the book i describe my perspective on this and i think there are many variables but i underline three. one is the asymmetry of power. 9/11's an example. you have 19 guys with box cutters somehow compelled us to invade iraq and iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, spend one to perhaps two trillion dollars in our defense budget. and there are many other examples. the second variable i talk about is the growing role of non-state actors. it wasn't very long ago when we
thought of enemies and threats in terms of nation states, and that's still there. >> rose: so when you were asked-- as i do now-- have we diminished the threat of al qaeda, you say what? >> yes. we have diminished the threat. >> rose: however... >> think of it like disease. it's how do you manage disease? we're not going to have a victory in europe day like world war ii where it's unconditional surrender on behalf of the enemy and we bring our troops home. it's going to be a constant fight and al qaeda, i think, will eventually be defeated but there will be splinter groups and affiliates and others that may take its place. >> rose: when you look today at the effort in afghanistan... first let me go back to what role you played.c you went to afghanistan and were give an lot of credit for what happened there. how many days was it between the day of the attack and the association with the northern alliance, c.i.a., special forces
ran the taliban out of afghanistan. >> that's... less than 90 days if you measure it as i do by the fall of kandahar on 7 december, 2001. that was the last urban stronghold of the taliban and at that point at least a quarter of al qaeda leadership... >> rose: fled to pakistan and everywhere else? >> a quarter of al qaeda leadership was dead, 20,000, 30 of the enemy were dead. the taliban were routed and we had captured and gained access to more than 20 sites including al qaeda's anthrax laboratories. >> rose: so what went wrong in the intervening years of that war? >> well, in my view i don't think we fully understood that victory or if we did we forgot the lesson and the key point was that it was an afghan victory. on december 7 when kandahar fell there were fewer than 500 americans on the ground. but today it's commonly referred to as a u.s. invasion of
afghanistan. it was not an invasion. it was a victory by our afghan allies in concert with us and our air power. >> rose: primarily from the northern alliance? >> not just primarily. we had tribal leaders throughout afghanistan that were helping us. karzai is an example. and it really was an afghan victory as well as ours. >> rose: so an afghan victory and today the united states is withdrawing and the future of afghanistan is in question. >> yes. well, i think that if we'd have learned that success in '01/'02 and we would have empowered the afghans to help them gain control of their country not just militarily but in other ways... >> rose: my understanding that was the mission to help them gain control of their country to empower them to to make their own country secure. >> the mission for c.i.a. and special forces was to destroy al qaeda. >> rose: right.
the next mission for the government as a whole was to help the afghans secure their nation so al qaeda and the taliban could not come back. and in that there's been failure. >> rose: why? >> i think that we approached in the a very conventional way. 130,000 u.s. and coalition troops in afghanistan now and that was after we ignored afghanistan. that's frornt 02 to 05u's realle were focused on iraq, resources were going to iraq. >> rose: there's no question in your mind that because of the invasion of iraq the conflict in afghanistan was harmed and... >> yes. yeah. in my mind there's no doubt. >> rose: so if, in fact, they had stayed and we had not invaded iraq probably we would not have lost afghanistan? >> not necessarily. because even if we had stayed i'm not sure... >> rose: shifted focus, however you want to characterize it. >> right. if we had focused more on afghanistan, devoted more resources i'm not sure we would
have been able to project the non-military power required. by that i mean focus on rule of law in utilities and education. there's been some progress. one example is in 2001 basically no girls were going to school and today you've got about three million in school. and that's a powerful weapon against... >> rose: and the taliban comes back, what happens? >> already they're attacking girls school. there's a recent report they had poisoned more than 100 girls in one school system. >> rose: because they were inmc. >> yes. >> rose: there's also this controversy which seems to be ongoing and maybe it's just about history now but when in fact al qaeda... when in fact osama bin laden was in tora bora what is your version... what is your understanding of what happened so that he escaped into pakistan? >> well, my understanding is pretty clear. we knew he was there; we reported he was there, we provided this intelligence to the white house to... >> rose: and by being there you mean specifically where he was.
>> absolutely. >> not just within a hundred mile range. >> it was really the... al qaeda's command and4 fallback position high up in the mountains of tora bora. and we knew exactly where he was. >> rose: and could you-- with the people that you had-- have gone and captured him? >> no. i think... >> rose: who could have? >> well, the request for my men in the field which i relayed was for several hundred rangers, u.s. forces on the ground. al qaeda numbers probably just under a thousand was our best estimate at tora bora. >> rose: usual going to send how many rangers. n? >> i think 800 rangers would have done it: air power. instead we went with what we h and it was a military decision not to deploy those troops and... >> rose: and why did they make that decision? >> well, because the way we had operated in afghanistan prior to that had worked. i think that's an important part
of5çip it but it shall was different. it was high up in the mountains. the only reason to be there is to hide or fight. tsh. to be so you didn't have afghans trying to recapture their home villages and valleys so it was geographically different and also the enemy, they were well prepared. there was their fallback position. but nevertheless with a handful of c.i.a. and special forces and terrific u.s. air power we practically wiped them out except for bin lad on who did escape to pakistan. >> rose: roll tape, this is donald rumsfeld on this program on may 30 less than a month ago. here he is. help me understand this historically. hank crumpton was just on "60 minutes." >> oh, was he? >> rose: he has a new book out, too. and they talk about the time they thought they had an opportunity to get him in tora bora. what was your role and what did you advise or did it come to you
for a decision? >> never came to me. i never heard a word from george tenant or a word from tom franks general franks. i know that at no moment did the c.i.a. or the combatant commander in central command come into the pentagon with a request for something that was turned down. it did not happen. i don't know what went up the c.i.a. chain to tenant, i have no idea. and i've never bothered to go back and ask. i know that the u.s. military, general franks and the combatant commander poured enormous amount of air power into tosh. i know that it was my... my recollection is that it was ramadan and the forces on the ground were northern alliance forces or west... eastern alliance forces. and that they went during the day and when evening came they stopped. >> rose: right. >> and that ultimately the al
qaeda people who probably were there but i don't know they were there and no one ever pinpointed them as being there to my knowledge eventually were able to get into pakistan. they were very knowledgeable about the tora bora mountains. >> well, i disagree, with all due respect to former secretary of defense. the c.i.a. knew al qaeda was,x/@ there absolutely, there were intelligence reports and within hours of the request from my men in the field i called general franks in tampa, at central command, great relationship with general franks, enormous respect for him. whether he passed on that request to the pentagon or not i don't know. i did also report it to director tenant. >> rose: so director tenant knew? >> yes. he knew. general franks knew. >> rose: this is the man who launched 9/11. under his direct orders this was carried out and it goes to the
c.i.a. director you've told him yourself. >> yes, every... >> the man in charge of the military is general frank. >> yes. >> rose: he knew because you told him. >> yes. >> rose: and you're saying to me that this... didn't go to the secretary of defense? >> to my knowledge i just don't know. >> rose: what would you think would normally happen on a matter of this significance? >> well, out of... i certainly hoped at the time they would have responded to our request in a favorable way but that did not happen. and in terms of how the reporting went to the secretary or not i don't know... >> rose: well, you know george tenant well. did he pass it on tg q/ç the secretary of defense? >> i don't know if he did or not. but i know that our intelligence reports were disseminated to the department of defense, to the white house, to central command. >> rose: have you ever asked george tenant did he pass it on to donald rumsfeld? >> yes, we have talked about it. he does not recall passing it on
but he may have been under the assumption that these reports-- well, it wasn't any these reports did go to the pentagon. but in terms of al qaeda being there or not absolutely al qaeda was there, their leadership was there, bin laden was there and there was extensive reporting, not just human reporting but signals, intelligence imagery and the military-- as secretary rumsfeld noted-- did respond with a massive air campaign, it went on for three days. >> rose: but that wasn't enough. >> it wasn't enough to kill bin laden. it killed several hundred of the enemy and it was, in fact, a victory, i believe. blemished by bin-ç4( laden's e. >> rose: how then did bin laden-- because of your own experience and whatever you know and the people you know-- escape detection until last year? >> well, first of all man hunting is really hard. even here in the u.s. look at the f.b.i.'s ten most wanted list, often it takes years to capture them. if ever. particularly in that part of the
world, in the tribal areas of afghanistan both the geographic terrain and the cultural terrain make it extra difficult. now i think many people, including me, were surprised that bin laden was in fact in abbottabad outside the tribal areas in a town where the pakistanis had a large military garrison. that was pretty shocking. >> rose: there's also this question which is interrogation. in your judgment, when does interrogation slide into torture? >> i think that... >> rose: not by a military definition of the united states military but just your experience. >> well, i have no direct experience in interrogation, i'm not an interrogator. but my heart as much as my head tells me that the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the c.i.a. did not constitute torture until we got to
waterboarding. >> rose: sleep deprivation is not torture? >> i don't think... no, and loud music and the ad temperature in particular rooms. i don't car which torture. i don't think any of it was torture. waterboarding, i think, crosses a line. but there's a bigger question. is it effective? and if it is effective what price do we pay as a nation to engage in that type of procedure. >> answer both those questions. it is effective? >> well, people i trust say it is. >> rose: george tenant being among them. >> yes and michael hayden and jose rodriguez and many leaders of the c.i.a. and i agree with that. >> rose: here is jose rodriguez, you just mentioned him. >> okay. >> rose: tell me about him, you said here's a guy you trust. >> yes. >> rose: tell me what you think of what he said. >> okay. >> rose: >> was it waterboarding that broke the dam by abdew souix bayda? >> i think he was taken aback by an insultv
>> he sense was zubada became compliant the harsh treatment stopped and he became a fountain of information. but the inbound interrogators remember it differently. in fact, what they say is everything important that he gave up he gave up to them before the harsher interrogation techniques kicked in. >> well, that is just not true. it's not true. >> rose: so he said enhanced interrogation with respect to one of the principals worked. >> uh-huh. >> rose: you believe it did because you believe him. >> yes and also other c.i.a. leaders who vouched for the effectiveness of these techniques. >> rose: the other point is whether it's effective or not you say it could be effective. >> it could be. i have no direct knowledge, i'm basing my opinion on what he and others have said. >> rose: the second point you raised was whether it's in our national interest to do it because of principle and will it be done against us. >> right, and that's not a decision for the c.i.a. to make. it's not a decision i don't think even for the president to make. this is about the american
people and congress, their representatives. what does the u.s. want to do? if these measures are effect i have what price do we pay by using them? but we also have to ask, charlie again assuming these measures are effective what price will we pay if we don't use them. and i don't think we've had that national discussion yet. >> rose: at the time of the iraqi war and at the time of the discovery that they couldn't find any weapons of mass destruction c.i.a. came under enormous criticism. >> yes. >> rose: did it deserve it? >> certainly in the failure of both collection and analysis on weapons of mass destruction in iraq that was a major failure that's been acknowledged. i think however that some of the successes of the c.i.a. have not beenkit> acknowledged. in fact many of them are not known and that's one reason i wrote the book, charlie, to see if i could provide at least one perspective on some of the success, particularly related to counterterrorism. >> rose: the book is called "the art of intelligence." lessons from a life in the
c.i.a.'s clandestine service. henry crumpton, thank you. >> charlie, thank you. >> rose: pleasure to see you. back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: david westin is here. he was president of abc news from 1997 to 2010. under his leadership he presided over some of the most dramatic and impactful news stories in recent history. here's a look. >> this is a special report from abco+wz news. >> good evening, i'm kevin newman in new york. we have an update now on the condition of princess diana, the princess of whales who was involved in a traffic accident in paris this evening. this is the... these are the first pictures from the scene of the accident. >> "good morning america" was in progress on the east coast and midwest but we're joined by the entire network to show you pictures at the foot of new york city. this is at the world trade center. obviously a major fire there and there has been some sort of explosion. we don't fully know the details. there is one report as of yet unconfirmed that
the world trade center. >> on my orders the united states military has begun strikes against al qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the taliban regime in afghanistan. these carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations and to attack the military capability of the taliban regime >> mr. bush has you know had a fairly quiet day. it was described as something of an eerie day at the white house. everybody was quiet and somer, there was no particular business. president got his usual briefings from the military staff, didn't go to anybody, didn't talk to anybody of huge significance. went for a walk with the dog and is now back to talk to the nation. >> my fellow citizens, at this hour american and coalition forces are in the early stage of military operations to disarm iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger. on my orders coalition forces
have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine saddam hussein's ability to wage war. these are opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted campaign. >> rose: david westin looks back at his time as head of abc news in a new book called "exit interview." i'm pleased to have him here. he's a good friend and i'm angst to have him talk about the interesting things that happened in network news. welcome. >> rose: thank you very much for having me, charlie. >> rose: "exit interview" is a great title because that's one of the things we do here. why did you choose it? >> that's a simple one. peggy noonan. i talked to her about this. i had lunch with her and she went through book and she was enthusiastic and i said "i don't have a title." and peggy without missing a beat said "exit interview." she didn't even have to think about it. that's how good she is. >> rose: why did she they? >> because given what i told her what the book was going to be it was my attempt to be honest on the way out the door about what
i saw when i was there which is what an exit interview is. >> rose: let me talk about going to abc. you were a lawyer in private practice. you come to new york to be general council in >> yes, they recruited me out of the blue. i had not done any work in communications or journalism or anything like that in washington. they called me up pretty much out of the blue and said "we'd like you to be general council" and i did. really because it seemed so exciting and new and friend and i thought i would do it for three or four years and go back to practice law. >> rose: and you found it satisfying to be involved in that kind of work? >> it was wonderful. this is capital city, the parent of abc at the time and tom murphy and dan burke ran it. >> rose: two great human beings. >> great human beings and they were my bosses. so my baptism, as it were, into corporate america were with tom murphy and dan burke. working for them as general counsel there's no better job in law than that because of the who they were and the way they ran their company.
they came to me after a couple years and said "we'd like you to leave the law and work on the business side and run the network." so it was an indirect route. >> rose: to run the network? >> bob iger was running the network at the time, who now runs the walt disney company and they came to me and said dan will step down and we want you to run the network as a succession plan and i said at that point who could turn that down? so i tried it. >> rose: then you got involved in the selection of a successor to to ruin ar lidge. >> as head of the network, news reported to me. those of us who knew rune knew he didn't report to anybody at all but that was part of my responsibility it was the end of rune's tenure. everyone knew it, i don't know if roon knew it. i spent a year to figure out the
right successoj7 çñ and he was a legend and i sort of pulled a dick cheney. >> rose: i was going to suggest that. >> i went to bob reluctantly and i said bob, i think i know... because we would talk a couple times a week about this issue because there needed to be a change and i said to him i think i could do that because i worked with these people at abc news closely at general counsel, defending them, i worked with them running the network, i know them and respect them and i think they'd accept me and i can do that for two or three years on an interim basis and bob's response was "i think you could do that, too, but i don't want you to." we talked about it and brought roone into it and roone was quite resuperintendentive. >> rose: because he had worked with you. >> we worked closely together and he had a sense it was coming to the end and this was something he could be comfortable with so he groomed me as best he could for a year and i took over.
>> rose: when he came and said here's man in n a suit who looks like an anchorman. >> and is an a lawyer! so they were very skeptical. peter jennings was skeptic in chief. >> rose: and you said we're going do a one hour special on princess diana. >> it was at the very beginning, four months into my tenure, labor we could, as you recall, a saturday. and everybody was scattered to the four winds, including peter who was out of town and i went in the newsroom pretty much by myself and decided we needed to do a prime time special the next night. peter called in after 19 1:00 at night and got me on the newsroom floor just off camera, you saw kevin newman in the beginning. i was just off camera and peter as you know well could be very emphatic, right? and this is a doubting time for peter with me and peter said "i understand you're thinking about doing a prime time special on princess diana." i said "that's right, peter." and he said "well, that is your right but i feel i owe it to you david to tell you if you do a prime time special on princess diana no one will ever take you
seriously as the president of abc news." so here i am four months in, i didn't have the journalism credentials and i took a deep gulp and i said "all i know is i have a sister back in michigan and she's followed every detail about this woman's life from the moment she got engaged. i think will be other people." he said "i said it's your right, i'll have nothing to do with it." and that was the end of the conversation. (laughter) in fairness the next morning he called in and said "david, i've read the coverage, you were right; i was wrong, it's a big story, i'd like to do the special." >> rose: he said "i'd like that do it?" >> i said peter you're our principal anchor, but i've already signed up diane sawyer and barbara walters to do the special and i won't kick them off. so we ended up doing it with the three of them. >> rose: were they thrilled about peter joining them? >> they are perfectly accepting. as part of writing the book i looked at the transcripts and early on peter turns to diane and barbara and says "when you first heard about this story last night, did you think it was a big story?
" and diane says "yes." and barbara says "oh, my, yes." you knew peter well. he was a great journalist and his instinct most of the time was dead on and we agreed on many more things than we disagreed. it just happened to be the first one out of the box. >> rose: how many times did he say to you "david if you go ahead this is your right but if you do that it will damage your reputation and abc's reputation"? >> it's the only time at the the very beginning. we came very close professionally and personally after that and worked on a lot of things together, the millennium program, the 24-hour program and, of course, 9/11 and presidential elections and we became quite close over time. you had to earn peter's trust and respect. >> peter had also had a great passion for foreign news and during his time as anchor person there was less foreign news by the threat networks, correct?a >> it goes up and down but there's certainly retrenchment. this is something everybody in media has faced, news media has faced is challenges economically and with that there are cuts to
various places. it does go up and down with the news. obviously when the iraq war came in 2003 we spent millions upon millions covering that and the american people were very interested in the difference between sunnis and shi'as. something i never thought they'd pay attention to but there was a struggle. peter was a wonderful influence in the newsroom pressing for more. newspaper more money, more coverage, more resources? >> covering the stories. people saw him on air but i'm this... i think we all miss peter terribly behind the scenes after he passed away because of the force he was in the newsroom pressing for stories that might not get covered. >> rose: how did he tell you he had cancer? >> this is actually very much... he and i were supposed to do a press conference together on san francisco announcing abc news now, which is a 24-hour streaming video project that he and i cooked you have. really his idea to cover the 2004 conventions gavel to gavel.
and he came to me and he said david, i have something that i've thought is a cold or maybe a flu or something like that but the doctors have found a lymph today in that's enlarged and i need to have a biopsy so i won't be able to join you. not knowing what it was at that point and i flew to san francisco, did the press conference and called back and talked to him onxb the phone frm the car on the way to the airport and he said "it's lung cancer." >> rose: and you knew. >> well, i knew it was really bad. what really happened was i flew back the next morning, he and i got together with tim johnson, our medical editor, wonderful man who a s a close friend of peter's and mine. the three of us got together to talk about how we would announce it and what ended up... peter drafted an e-mail, i drafted one and we sent them out after each other and tim stayed behind and i asked tim how bad is this because he is a medical doctor and he told me it was very bad indeed. >> rose: about a year? >> no, he said five months and
he was just about exactly right. looking back on it now he said it could be three months or a year but he said five months or so but it was very emotional. very emotional for the entire news division but for me because we'd become close personally and it was a difficult time. >> what was his genius, peter? >> go back to what i said earlier. >> rose: what was his personality? (laughs)fyy- >> he was a skeptic. he had a great intelligence. he didn't graduate from high school, forget college, which made him feel he had to make up for ha. >> rose: he had to read every book he could put his hands on. >> exactly right. leading into the millennium i went to his office three or four days before he was by himself with a stack of index cards about that high and i asked him what are you doing peter and as far as i could tell he was trying to memorize every fact about the world for 2000 years. and i said peter, no matter what happens no one will think you're not smart or don't know things. but first impression he was a
skeptic about me, his bosses, presidents he was a skeptic about weapons of mass destruction when i wasn't skeptical enough about weapons of mass destruction leading into iraq. not because he knew something but because he knew that part of the world and he knew nothing was as it seemed. when it came to princess diana he admitted he was wrong but he was raising a very important point and i knew it at the time. that there is a line between entertainment and news and we need to be asking ourselvesbly we covering the story and why in this detail at this length? is it because it's historically important or because we simply thing people are interested in it? you have to be asking yourself that question. >> rose: and on the morning news on "good morning america" you have both entertainment and news. >> as far as i know always has been so going back to the chimpanzee on the "today" show. it's always been an uncomfortable hybrid sometimes. >> rose: but compared to the evening news or the world news it's 30 minutes versus two hours. "good morning america" you have more airtime to prepare and in
addition you've got a variety of different people watching at different times the audience changes. >> rose: >> you're a pro. it's a different audience at 8:30 than 7:00 but some is just tradition because "good morning america" wasn't in the news division until it was a separate part of entertainment. >> but today it's always been in the news division, has it not. when you made the decision to go with diane sawyer and charlie gibson, what was that about? >> "good morning america" at the time was in real trouble. it was not a good program on the air, not because of anybody's fault but there had been too many changes made too quickly and not well enough thought through in my opinion. it was in trouble mr. the ratings, flirding with third, coming in three sometimes which is not its normal position. we needed to make a change it was clear and we had issues
across the board. it wasn't just anchors and in making those changes i thought we have to get anchors in who know their business, who can cover national disasters who can interview presidents, who can do special reports but also have range. charlie had been on the program for many years and had come off, shouldn't have come off in retrospect. so that was easy. the question was the female, who we would put in and i concluded diane would be great because i knew diane had much more range than what... "prime time live". >> rose: did you know she would be attracted to it? >> not at all and when ih went to her about it she didn't jump at the town opportunity. from my point of view there was more down side risk than upside. she was very successful in prime time and it was a much better life-style. she didn't have to get up at 4:30 in the morning everyday. >> rose: got it. >> exactly. you know well. there's a range in the morning that's required that's tricky and people were very skeptical.
roone arlege, my predecessor, was very skeptical. he thought it was a terrible idea. >> because? >> because he was worried about how she would do but more important than that he thought prime time was so much more important than the morning and he thought it would be a mistake to distract her from prime time. he said "this is a terrible career move." >> rose: for her? >> no, for me. for david. he said i'm not talking about diane, i'm talking about you. /knew diane's range and ability and he needed somebody great. i think it will rally because she knew we and i needed it so badly i don't think it was for anything... >> she also knew she could have an impact on it and make it better and even add to the news value of it because of the kinds of things she would do and because she knew a lot of people and she could get them to come to the morning. >> rose: and one of the things i wanted to die do with diane is
make sure we had substance in the morning. i knew with those two anchors whatever problems we have they weren't the anchors and we could do substantive important news and they did a beautiful job. the ratings in that programs climbed immediately and built throughout the time they were on. >> rose: morning programs in terms of revenue can be very important. >> oh, the most important. for a broadcast news dormant the most important. >> rose: followed by prime time? >> in my experience at abc news and i'm sure this is true for others. in part because it's two hours of programing so it's two hours worth of commercial five days a week. that's a lot of programming. increasingly over time they have become more important personally because throughout the rest of the day and night people have been garaged with news information on the internet and social media and radio and other television things like that. in the morning you've been asleep so the first thing you do when you get up in the morning is check if the world's still
there, what happened. so the relative importance of the morning programs has grown enormously. >> rose: that was one of the things on the plus side is that it's your first shot at an audience who has not thought about the news for seven or eight hours. >> absolutely right and i watch every morning and i watch you very regularly in the morning so i think it was a great move on their part. >> rose: but it's the idea that these are important programs and the first time you have an opportunity to tell the audience getting up but they only stay with you for a while. they don't sit there for two hours. >> well, some of us need to get to work. >> rose: what are the challenges for network news today in the world of the internet and the world of cable and the world of lots of broadcasting or lots of places for people to get news and information. >> rose: well, you just put your finger on a lot of it. during my time there the internet exploded and cable news was cnn existed but msnbc and fox
were only two or three months old when i went there but then the internet and social media and things exploded so one of challenges for network news is the same one faced by every news organization, what's the new digital world and how do we get to it without undermining what we're doing now because there's still very large audiences >> and what's the answer to that how do you get to the digital world without damaging the existing product? >> well, you have to... this is a big challenge for every person working today. you have to have people who can work across all immediate wrote who can do the long form piece and short piece and internet piece and tweet about it. it puts more pressure on journalist but the other thing i talk about in the book that i believe in but am concerned about, i got to see great journalism being done, i got to participate in great journalism, i don't want that to be in the past. and it doesn't have to be in the past. there's great journalism being done today on t.v. and the internet and we need to make sure that continues and to some extent that's up to the public
not just the journalists. >> rose: how's that? >> even the best journalists, even the peter jennings of this world or the diane sawyers, ted koppels, over time they pay attention to audience and if people come to great journalism and give it their time and attention you will get more of it. the flip side unfortunately is also true. if everybody rushes to the latest salacious celebrity gossip then you'll get more of that and so the public has to take some responsibility in seeking out the great work that's being done and rewarding it and if that happens we'll be fine. >> rose: ted koppel. why did you let him go? not fire but let him go. >> what happened with ted... ted is a superb journalist, very@gdd fine interviewer that you would understand and appreciate ted had been on "nightline" for a good many years. >> rose: yes. (laughs) nothing wrong with that. no, no, but he arranged to have a fairly limited presence on "nightline." >> rose: three days a week? >> three days a week with a fair amount of vacation so that he on
only about half the time and "nightline" was struggling in the ratings and the audience and i was worried about keeping the program. >> rose:? that somebody of you might come up and say... >> entertainment. entertainment always wanted late night programming because they looked at letterman and leno with great envy. i said to ted you are great, this is a great program, i need to save this program, i need you do this five nights a week. and i also want to be able to do it live more often because sometimes... and ted and i have a very strong relationship, enormous respect, i for him and i think he for me and he said david i understand what you're asking me. at this stage in my career, forget it, not gonna happen. and i said this is what i need. that's where it led. is it was a loss. >> rose: is there no way to create an alternative of some kind that would keep a great person at the network doing things for you?
for example at that time didn't you need somebody to do the sunday program? (laughs) >> i proposed that to ted and he thought long and hard about it and thought seriously about it and i thought he was going to do it. and then he called me back. i was on your program that night and said david, i've been away for a vacation with my family and i've just... it's time for me to move on so toward the end it will happen. the thing you didn't know is two days before i learned about peter's lung cancer and i couldn't tell you that and you were asking me about ted the whole time and i was sitting in this chair on this set thinking boy, charlie... >> rose: if you knew what i was thinking. >> exactly. >> rose: on the weekend you had david brinkley then it evolved then you had george stephanopoulos. then george stephanopoulos went to g.m.a.. was that your move? >> no, jet stream may was my move.n going...
>> rose: did you want him to do that because you wanted him to get experience because it was sort of the natural progression to becoming an abc news... world news anchor or some other reason? >> first6 a fib program because diane was moving off to go to "world news" because charlie announced his retirement somewhat prematurely. so i needed a great anchor and i looked around to see who i thought the best anchor we had was and it was george. george is somebody i had gone to at the beginning of my tenure when he was not full time at abc news and7zow persuaded them to e on board and become a journalist and an anchor and i pushed him hard on g.m.a. because i needed him but also because... i said look, bucknumer be one in washington for the rest of your life and that's a great job,tjkl that's terrific. >> rose: yes, yes. (laughs) >> but this is a bigger stage and this is an opportunity for you and frankly, george, i know if you go to "good morning america" you will bring a heft and a weight and substance to
that program that i want to make sure we have on the program. it took two and a half months or so of careful discussion for him to agree. >> rose: it won't surprise you that one of the people i talked to before i went to "this morning" was george. so then he went back, though, what was christiane amanpour about? was that your call? >> well, christiane amanpour was o6=! is obviously extremely talented. we needed somebody to have-to-replace george and she's very well known. it was an experiment to bring more of an international flavor. i was there long enough to get her launched but then i left shortly after that. >> rose: was there judgment made about those programs and much more about domestic politics than they are about international news after you had a chance to try the experiment? >> well, again, it was after my time so i don't know... we were getting in into a presidential election year so it does focus
on domestic politics quite a bit and christiane's interest in that and worked hard but she didn't have the same identification with that subject as george does. >> rose: so when you wrote this book what can't you tell us that you should have told us? >> (laughs) well, it's not a kiss and tell. i don't thy also people tend to focus on personalities and conflict. sure did it happen? of course, but was it what we were about? no, it wasn't what we were about at all. the thing i don't know if it comes across enough in the book as i told you i came to the job what somewhat reluctantly and was trying to be a good corporate citizen thinking i'd do it and hand it off and i came to love it. i've been blessed with ae great jobs. >> rose: what did you love about it? >> you get paid everyday to come in and work with really smart people who are passionate and interesting to find out things nobody else knows about things that matter and then to try your best to explain it to the
american people and if you get lucky on a good day, doesn't happen everyday, you have a chance of making the world a bit better place and are there aren't many jobs like that. that's a great job. i newsed to say that to people. i have the advantage of coming in from from the outside, maybe you have been here too long with the complaining about how it used to be. folks, this is a wonderful job. we're all fortunate to do this. >> rose: why did you leave it? >> because i'd done it for almost 14 years and there's a season to everything and i've done a lot, i was happy with and proud of and it was great. i'd been through a lot, some difficult times and i thought i accomplished what i wanted to accomplish and it was time for me to move on and it's good for an organization to go through new leadership. my taking over for roone was a different era and it was time for that and i don't want to hold on too long. i've seen too many people hold on too long in those leadership positions, i didn't want to do that. >> rose: thank you. >> thank you so much charlie. great to be here. >> thank you for joining us. see you next time.