Charlie rose: Donald Rumsfeld is here. He is, as you know, the secretary of defense. Educated at Princeton, served in the U.S. Navy as an aviator and flight instructor. He is a former member of Congress from Illinois and chief of staff to President Ford.
He served as secretary of defense from 1975 to 1977. He returned to that position in January of 2001. Since then, he's overseen the U.S. military through one of the most important periods in its history. I’m pleased to have him back on this program. Welcome back.
Rumsfeld: Thank you very much. I’m delighted to be back.
Rose: I want to talk about a lot of issues. To make a speech about -- the role of the media, and its impact. Tell me what you want to --
Rumsfeld: Well, that's close. But really, with the talk is about is the fact that this is the first war that's been fought and conducted in the 21st century; in the new media environment where there are cell phones and blackberries and --
Rumsfeld: E-mails and 24-hour talk radio and 24-hour news programs, and the internet and bloggers and all of these things that move information into – near instantaneously all across the globe, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And the fact that the United States government is simply not organized and arranged and structured to cope with that. We're still in the 20th century, in terms of how we deal with it. You have newspapers sitting beside you.
Rumsfeld: They used to be a dominant means of communication for people, and where they got their information. Today, people have so many different channels where they can get information. And, and we need in government to recognize that if you're engaged in a major battle with major armies and navies competing and air forces competing, that's one thing. The center of gravity of that war is where those battles occur. Today, we're not competing with our major armies, navies or air forces. It's an unconventional conflict. It is irregular warfare. It is asymmetric and the battleground is not so much out there, it is here. It is a matter of will. It is a matter of the public's attitudes about these things. Instead of the center of gravity where the naval war is being fought, the center of gravity is in the capitals of cities all across a nations all across the world and therefore we are going to simply have to figure out ways to get arranged to cope with that. Because it's a totally new environment and a very difficult one.
Rose: So your communication person becomes a much more important player in the game?
Rose: You decided that this was necessary to speak out about this because of what?
Rumsfeld: I didn't think it was necessary. I thought it would be useful for people to think about that. For example, after World War II, there were new institutions established. We know about the World Bank and the IMF and NATO and the United Nations. For governmental activity. There are some new institutions established during period there where, for example, the U.S. Information Agency. U.S.I.A.
Rose: Radio Free Europe.
Rumsfeld: Some of these other things and they obviously had an impact during that period. They wouldn't be appropriate today, but the question is, since there is no road map, there's no guide book that when you get up in the morning it says here's what you should do about this, world. And this is not a problem for the Pentagon alone. It is a problem for the society. The question is what are those institutions that might be of value today in the 21st century, given these new realities that exist? And how might we be best arranged so that we can if it be effective?
I mean, Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda have media committees. They meet, they figure out how to manipulate the news in New York City and the United States of America and London and Paris.
Rose: Are you saying that the United States' government should create as part of its responsibility broadcast and use all the technology to get its message across rather than simply thinking more clearly about the structure of technology today, and using it? In other words, should the U.S. government have more responsibility?
Rumsfeld: We clearly have a responsibility for carrying the message of what it is we're doing 24 hours a day --
Rose: Primarily it is about press conferences and reporting, to correspondents and reporters around the world? Primarily questions?
Rumsfeld: You say that's what happens primarily.
Rose: Are you saying it ought to be something more than this?
Rumsfeld: It has to be. Just like it had to be after World War II.
Rose: What is an equivalent of U.S. Information Agency?
Rumsfeld: I don't know the answers to these things. I just know the questions and I’m concerned about it because it's pretty clear that when our society is not doing the job that needs to be done. I mean, here's this country, this wonderful country, the United States of America, that does so much in the world. Through government. Assistance to various people. The tsunami assistance. The Pakistan assistance. The private charities that people do. And, a country that doesn't seek anyone else's real estate, isn't trying to grab anyone else's oil. Isn't trying to do anything like that and yet the message out there is filled with in the air waves are filled with lies. The al Qaeda are constantly, systematically putting out lies about the United States of America and one was Mark Twain said a lie travels two and a half times around the world before truth get it is boots on.
Rose: Are you saying American media is not doing its job in your judgment to report what you think is the truth? We have talked about this before, a criticism of the consequences of what is reported.
Rumsfeld: I am in a mode of being inquiring, not judgmental. I think the media ought to ask itself how it's doing, and they can do that, on their own time. My problem is, I’m in government. And my task is to try to help figure out what government might do to do a better job for our country in this new -- this era of the new realities of the 21st century, and it is a fundamentally different environment than when I was secretary of defense 30 years ago.
Rose: Was it okay for the American government to pay reporters in Iraq to promote certain stories?
Rumsfeld: That's a good little vignette. The military people are in a town and in the country and they're trying to do a good job and they are doing a good job. The men and women in uniform are doing a spectacular job out there and God bless them.
Rose: But that story is… Well, go ahead.
Rumsfeld: So, so they know that if people -- they know the enemy is lying about what they're doing. They're there to take over the oil, they're there to occupy the country and stay and take their property and they're abusing people and what have you. So, what they did was they are putting generators in hospitals and fixing schools and so they hired a contractor and the contractor which they have the authority to do, they hired the contractor and the contractor decided the thing to do was to get the fact they were put ago generator in the hospital, that type of thing, in the press so people see the other side of it. And they went to the press people and, paid some people who speak Iraqi or Arabic to go to Iraqi journalists, as I understand it. I knew nothing of this.
Rose: Pay journalists, paid somebody to go to a reporter and say this is a good story?
Rumsfeld: What they did then probably in some instance paid some people to put it in the press. And in parts of the world, that is a practice that's normal as opposed to not here where it is -- just a minute. Now, then it makes the press. In the press. And the press loves the media. The media loves the media. They'd like to talk about nothing more than the media. They just love it. They talk to each other.
Rose: Certain fascination.
Rumsfeld: It is an infatuation. Now, what has happened, the press got it. Then the Congress calls for hearings and fussing about this and complaining about that as though it's something terrible that happened. It wasn't anything terrible that happened. When we heard about it, we said, “gee, that's not what we ought to be doing” and told the people down there. They told contractor who did it. Wasn't a military person. They stopped doing that. (sic) [The issue is still under review by the MNF-I commander.] But in the process, there's been a chilling effect. Anyone involved in public affairs in the military knows that they are right on the spear point. If they do anything that the media thinks is not exactly the way we do it in America, they're going to make a big deal out of it and get pounded and that is not career enhancing. They're going to end up, their names are going to be floated around in Congress in a hearing and so, who in the military would want to go anywhere near the third rail which is the media? Think of it.
Rose: Here's the other aspect of that. Do you -- because you ask in questions. Ask this question and tell me what you think the answer is. Do you believe the American media in Iraq is doing a bad job? Do you believe the American media and the reporting they're doing, television, risking their lives to cover the story, and do not -- the story they're telling hampers the war effort. Do you believe that?
Rumsfeld: I think to the extent there is a -- I’m not going to be judgmental. You're trying to walk me there. I don't get up in the morning and make it my job to evaluate that. I've got more important things to do.
Rose: But you have done speeches in which you have spoken to this issue. You don't think things are put in context, part of the story is being told. Reporters will step forward and say the following, first of all, they’re risking their life to tell the story they see and that Iraq is about -- is a violent story and that is the loss of life and what is happening over there is the story. And it is hard. And it would be irresponsible, they say, to report a hospital opening every day. Rather than the ongoing acts of violence which are defining that war.
Rumsfeld: I thought there was a CNN person who announced they were in Baghdad and never wrote bad stories about Saddam Hussein and his regime because they didn't want to get thrown out. And they thought it was their obligation to --
Rose: There was a producer by the name of Jordan, I think. There was a controversy about that, yes.
Rumsfeld: think of that. How do you feel about that?
Rose: We don't -- I think that he should have reported the truth.
Rumsfeld: Well, so do I.
Rumsfeld: I was just checking. I just kind of wanted to --
Rose: I think he left CNN after that. He did. But my point is I want a fix. You have -- you know more about this war than almost everybody in other words and you get feedback from the men and women in the field. And do you -- you've got to have a feeling --
Rose: This speech you're making, the passion you have about this, this is not the first speech you made about this and you talked to me about this in previous interviews because you believe that something important about the American attitudes of the war may have an impact, may, it --
Rumsfeld: May? It does have an impact. Because this is a test of wills. The media committees of the al Qaeda are consciously trying to manipulate the American media and opinion elites in the United States to get us to pull out of Iraq and pull of Afghanistan, and pull out of the Middle East so that they can re-establish the Islamic, extremist, Islamist califate. That's what they say. The quotes are there. It's on the internet. People can understand that.
Rose: Clearly you would know that that would be their objective. Everybody has always -- back to the Nazis. They understood that public opinion is important --
Rose: In warfare and is important in the exercise and gaining of power --
Rumsfeld: You bet.
Rose: It has always been that.
Rose: At the same time, there are reporters over there, you know, -- David Halberstam says this sounds like -- -- whatever sham -- it's like shooting the messenger. You don't like the message so you want to shoot the messenger.
Rumsfeld: I’m not judgmental about the message.
Rumsfeld: You asked me the question. I'll give you the answer. I speak to the troops all the time. I talk for about ten minutes and then I answer questions for about 30 minutes, 40 minutes. And I have never once spoken to a town hall filled with soldiers sailors, airmen, Marines, male and female all across our country and not had one or two of them stand up and ask me what can be done about the negative impression that is being sent back from Iraq by the journalists to the United States. The imbalance, the lack of context. The focus on the negative. Now, that's what they're saying. That's 138,000 men and women over there sending e-mails back, and I’m sure they've run the full spectrum but I always get asked that question. Now, I don't know everything that's going on in Iraq and I don't read everything that's written here but I think that it is important that there be context. And context means an understanding of history.
Rumsfeld: And an appreciation for what's being done in the complexities of what is being done. I got asked the question the other day in a Congressional hearing where they listed about eight things that are not pretty. I said, fair enough. That's true. That's part of the truth. The truth ought to be communicated. I said there's 8 or 10 or 12 thing that is are pretty good and are doing pretty well.
Rose: Why soldiers risking their lives to do good things to influence their relationship within whatever particular community they are.
Rumsfeld: Forget that. The fact they have in Iraq successfully had an election January 15th. Drafted a constitution. They successfully had a referendum.
Rose: But you don't think that story is reported and reported and reported? About the election and the constitution and --
Rumsfeld: It's keeping the balance and the context that it seems to me is useful.
Rose: Let me talk about beyond media. You have said in a very interesting way, made a speech and there is a quadrennial defense report looking at the future. It is based on the lessons and you're unique as a secretary of defense because you get to issue one of these having looked and experience of your four years. Not like when you one come in as secretary of defense. Tell me how you see the future in this war against terrorism. What's important? And what ought the U.S. military and the U.S. government do and gear up to do?
Rumsfeld: First, I’m not smart enough to think I could answer your question and pretend it is my judgment.
Rumsfeld: We spent a year with the senior military and the senior civilians. Hundreds and hundreds of hours together. Thinking about this. Talking about this. Debating and discussing it. And the quadrennial defense review report that just came out is a product of all of us sitting together and learning from each other, and testing ideas. And it is not my product. It is the literally the product of the senior military and senior civilians in the department.
Second, if I had to drop a plum line through the middle of the whole thing and say what do you know of all of that, it's that this world we're in for the next period, 5, 10, 15, 20 years whatever, is a world that's different. From the 20th century. The likelihood of a major conflict between armies, navies and air forces given our capabilities is modest. The likelihood of continued asymmetric attacks on our values and our lives as free people is significant. The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize. It is to alter your behavior, and we have a lot of ability in the department if you think of the things a military needs to do, it is to find the enemy. The fix them. And to finish and close out, deal with it. Capture or kill.
We have an enormous capability to finish. Our ability to find the Soviet Navy was superb. The Soviet Air Force or Army. There isn't a Soviet Union anymore. Our ability to find a single individual or a network --
Rose: Is much more difficult.
Rumsfeld: Oh. And to find and to fix them in time, sometimes you can find where they were but to fix them in a timeframe that you can then do something about it. So we know of certain knowledge that we can't defend every place and that's of interest to America. Against every conceivable type of attack at every moment of the day or night. It can't be done. Therefore, the only thing you can do is to put pressure on those that might challenge you, that might try to terrorize you. That might try to kill your people or your interests. Putting pressure on is not a department of defense job alone. It requires all elements of national power. Political and cultural and economic, diplomatic. Law enforcement as well as kinetics and the military. You have to put pressure on these terrorists' networks wherever they are.
Rose: Not even regional now. You are talking about a truly global conflict of our generation?
Rumsfeld: It is. And it is more focused in certain parts of the world. The Muslim world because it's a struggle between --
Rose: It is across the globe
Rumsfeld: Exactly. There's an entire belt and it is -- it is relatively small number of violent extremists. Against a large, overwhelming majority of Muslims that are not extremists. That are moderate.
Rose: There is and this quadrennial defense report and you as a participant in that that and coming from the secretary of defense, you see the fight against terrorism as similar to the cold war. We are calling it the long war. Term of art now being used and defining this generational conflict. Yes?
Rose: And --
Rumsfeld: John F. Kennedy called the Cold War the long, twilight struggle, I think. That's what this is. It's a long twilight struggle. Now, it is very different from the Cold War.
Rose: In that there is no nation state involved.
Rose: And they use technology as we referred to in our conversation about media have access to and use technology in a way --
Rumsfeld: Very skillfully.
Rose: Crossing borders without any need for being present.
Rose: The strategy, is one, preventing a terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction. That's one part of it.
Rumsfeld: It is.
Rose: The other part is defend the homeland. The third part of it is to reach out to allies.
Rose: Have we come because of understanding about the war that in this great struggle, allies and interdependencies are critical?
Rumsfeld: Oh, they are. I mean, it is so clear that the things that we need to do in this world to succeed and to prosper is to see that this global system is able to function. Take proliferation of dangerous weapons. No one country can stop that. It takes cooperation among dozens and dozens of nations. The global war on terror; 80 countries now cooperating. Sharing intelligence and assisting each other.
Rose: Is this --
Rumsfeld: You have to build partner capacity. To we have to make other countries more capable than they are today.
Rose: And you want, for example, NATO countries to step up?
Rose: Contribute more to NATO and recognize that it is a shared challenge?
Rumsfeld: It is. We all have a stake in the success of the global system.
Rose: Is it a more apparent to you now because of the experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq?
Rumsfeld: I suppose it probably is. Although I was ambassador to NATO back in the 1970s and have been a strong supporter of that relationship for many, many decades.
Rose: I said to the -- a guy named Henry Crumpton in charge of counter terrorism at the State Department.
Rumsfeld: I know who he is, yeah.
Rose: The other day, what do you fear the most? He said not nuclear but he said biological.
Rumsfeld: Oh, I do, too. The reality is anyone who's been looking at this and I was in the pharmaceutical industry for a number of years, as well. And when you think of the things that can affect human beings, particularly thing that is are contagious, in fact, things to affect later generations, the concern about biological weapons has to be right there at the top.
Rose: When you look at what's -- look at the quadrennial defense report and you look at the challenges around the world, how does it change in terms of the way we wage war and in terms of force structure? In other words, do we have to reform the military in order to meet the challenge? That's one of the thing that is you came saying you wanted to do.
Rumsfeld: Well, the President did. Is President made a speech in his campaign that he needed the military to be transformed and it is true. We simply have to adjust to the fact that it is not so much looking -- which countries to threaten us. More what kind of capabilities could threaten us? Instead of a threat-based policy we were more capability-based policy. And, the -- it is -- when we use the word reform or transform, it sounds as though you start untransformed and finish your transformed. The nature of the world is it's moving so fast and technology moves so fast that it is a continuum. You have to get yourself into a mode of transforming and stay in that.
Rumsfeld: And that's what we need to do. It is. It is almost cultural, attitudinal, more than specific.
Rose: In terms of the people who want to make the change?
Rose: So where do you come from in that? What is the cultural attitudinal Donald Rumsfeld?
Rumsfeld: We simply have spent an enormous amount of time selecting individuals for key positions in the department for the last five years.
Rose: To reflect what? What mind set? What sense of your mission?
Rumsfeld: People who are ‘joint’ as opposed to service centric. To the extent of person thinks the Armies, Air Force, Air Force or Marines protects our country. They just don't get it. It will take the interdependence of all of those capabilities to protect our country. People who think that the department of defense will protect our country just don't get it. It takes the full interagency. That becomes interdependent to succeed. People who think the United States of America can defend our country alone are wrong. It's going to take a set of partnerships and relationships and strengthening partners around the world to do it. And that's an attitude. And it's terribly important.
Rose: Did you have that attitude at the beginning of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq? You.
Rumsfeld: I did. I mean, I remember being deeply concerned when I was secretary the last time about one of our services, two of the services that were particular service-centric and thought they were in the 1940 was a naval war fought separately and a land war that was fought separately. Those days are gone. And I felt that back in the 1970s.
Rose: Yeah. I saw an interesting thing the other day about a young, I think General, who had to – his territory had to do with Bolivia and Morales and General Klank maybe.
Rumsfeld: John Craddock. Yeah. He is a very able officer.
Rose: Here’s what was interesting. He was talking about it in the most enlightened way that I'd seen about the threat and Bolivia and understanding but also an awareness of speaking to a whole range of issues you were talking about. I’m reading down there, it said he's a former military assistant
Rumsfeld: He was a senior military assistant. Exactly.
Rose: He seemed to reflect exactly what you are talking about in part.
Rumsfeld: And of course, what I’m talking about isn't Rumsfeld. What I’m talking about is the collection of views and concerns and hopes and aspirations that the senior civilian and senior military people in our department have. And John Craddock represents that. We have many, many others who do. Terrific, John Abizaid, who is the central command commander. George Casey. Abizaid,
Rose: I think Abizaid was the first person I think used the term long war.
Rumsfeld: I think it's been used for centuries.
Rose: Sure, sure, sure. But in terms of the present context.
Rumsfeld: May very well be.
These are talented people. The senior military people in our department are -- we have some truly superb people and the fact that they volunteered to go in, stayed in all those years and have -- are so thoughtful and capable and dedicated to our country, it is really impressive -- I feel privileged to work with them.
Rose: Has the war in Iraq in any way distracted the effort you want to do to face a challenge of the future?
Rumsfeld: Exactly the opposite.
Rose: You have learned from it?
Rumsfeld: Not just that.
Rose: And --
Rumsfeld: Not just that. It provides the impetus. The urgency. The need. It -- think of September 11th. Afterwards, everyone was saying, oh, what could we have done to avoid it? Who did something wrong? We had the commissions and the hearings and that all that stuff. At the pentagon we were thinking about that. We were thinking about imagine a 9/11 six months from now. What do we need to do now to prevent that from happening? To mitigate it if it does happen. How can we get better arranged the protect the American people? And just the totally opposite of what everyone else in Washington was swirling around and milling around and opining on this and opining on that. And we were saying, think of it six months from now. You know someone's going to try to do it again. What can we do to stop that, to prevent it and to help our country?
Rose: What did you do?
Rumsfeld: We have done dozens and dozens of things. We have done so -- we commanded the Northern Command. Never had one. We created an assistant secretary of defense of homeland security. We have connected with the Coast Guard in a way that never existed before. We have adjusted our air defense capability here in the United States. We have cooperated with other departments and agencies to put pressure on terrorist networks all across the globe. Everything has to be harder for them. Harder to move between countries. Harder to communicate. Harder to raise money. Harder to recruit. Harder to retain people. And that's what's been going on and the pressure is working.
Rose: Did you get what you needed from the budget in order to carry out the kinds of thing that is you think are a part of this battle against terrorism, this long war, and this attitude that you're reflecting now? In terms of the kind – how you're shifting from a Cold War to a different war.
Rumsfeld: The budget is fine. It's going to --
Rose: You can live with it?
Rumsfeld: We can live with it and we ought to do a better job of spending it. In other words, it is --
Rose: In terms of weapon systems?
Rumsfeld: Well, no. Weapons systems are one thing. Everyone talks about this airplane or that ship.
Rumsfeld: I’m more interested in intelligence gathering, connecting intelligence to the operations in real time so that you can actually stop something from happening. That's what we need to get better at. It is the soft stuff. It is the connectors. In linking the services in a way that you leverage that capability. Increasing precision in your attacks. Speeding data to the user, the person who needs it. The operator of that -- to have that data in his hands so something good can come of it. That's what we need. Sure, we have to worry about platforms and ships and guns and tanks and planes and that stuff. That is not what the department of defense has to be about.
Rose: Intelligence and the information how you use that information?
Rose: Has disclosures about NSA and wiretapping in your judgment damaged the process?
Rumsfeld: Oh, absolutely.
Rose: In what way?
Rumsfeld: My goodness. It's like standing up and having a billboard or a website and saying, hey, anyone out there with something against the United States and wants to harm them, be on notice that they're doing this, that or the other thing.
Rose: The first response from people is, they knew that. They understood that they were being tapped. I mean -- you say well?
Rumsfeld: I say that we have seen instances where people altered their behavior when they understand better about what's taking place.
Rose: Not unlike Osama bin Laden not using the cell phone once the disclosure was --
Rose: Part of this QDR too is – I want to look at China. You had an unique access to go to China and my understanding is that Chinese military showed you things they had never shown anyone else before.
Rose: You also in this defense report said that China is in this new century likely to be our principal military and political competitor.
Rumsfeld: It's fairly gently stated.
Rose: Okay. But tell me what you meant. It is gently stated.
Rose: It didn't say they were the enemy. No conflict. You said competitor.
Rose: Okay. Compete militarily is what you maybe said.
Rumsfeld: Okay --
Rose: Okay. Fair enough. You are precise about language, aren't you?
Rumsfeld: I try to be. In my job, you better be. All of us make mistakes and say things they wish they hadn't.
Rose: Take me inside your head and how you see China.
Rumsfeld: I see China as a large country, an important country, a country that has been in isolation for a long period from much of the world that has -- had a history of being difficult with its neighbors. Whether Russia or India, Vietnam the Spratly Islands. And a country that today is after Deng Xiaoping placed them on the economic track of opening up their economy and trying to develop their economy, on a path that looks to me to be constructive. And, the -- you cannot be successful economically without opening your system to some extent. You have to have -- a command economy isn't going to work.
Rumsfeld: A freer market is going to work.
Rose: -- Opening up the political system?
Rumsfeld: There are countries that have been very successful economically that have maintained a relatively tight degree of control on the political side.
Rose: What do you think their ambition is?
Rumsfeld: I don't think they know. And I don't think it matters. Because the people who are there today aren't going to be around when the country's ambition might be more usable.
Rose: When the economy's grown that much further?
Rumsfeld: Sure, sure, sure.
Rose: Might be the most important military power?
Rumsfeld: The task is to say, okay, they're on a path of wanting to increase their economy. That's good in my view. That's a positive impulse. And not a negative one from my standpoint. What we need to do is to interact with them in a way that to the extent they have choices they make choices that are peaceful and enter the world system without a grinding of gears and that's a good thing. To the extent they're not transparent in their – what they're doing militarily, it does raise questions on the part of their neighbors and others. And they have been less than transparent.
Rose: Neighbors in the region, yes, of course. By definition.
Rose: With respect to Iran, should we expect them to do more? Should we expect them and do you think they will be willing because they are a stake holder and Iran is and China is and Russia is and India is. They all have a vested interest in what happens in Iran. Are they responding and how do they --
Rumsfeld: Our relationship with India is excellent. One of my first meetings in February of 2001 when I came back to government was with the Indian national security adviser at the Munich Conference, and I've been enormously impressed at their approach and what they're doing and the fact that it's survived now a successive, two successive governments in India and our relationship, our military to military relationship is a very positive one and I know the President's visiting there and it is an excellent relationship.
Rose: I'll be there next week talking to them. Our message ought to be what to them, the Indians?
Rumsfeld: That we want to cooperate with them politically, economically and from a military to military standpoint. And I think they're playing a very constructive role in the world.
Rose: Look at what's happening around the world. I mean, does the fact that China is aggressive about oil, for example, as it needs to be, and you look at other countries, is there now a kind of competition with China that they -- does the rise of China affect our relationship with other countries? And so that they --
Rumsfeld: I suppose to some extent.
Rose: They don't want to be too close to us.
Rumsfeld: Vice versa. They're worried about China and like to be close to us.
Rose: That would be Russia. Who would that be?
Rumsfeld: I’m not going to get into countries like that. That suggests I understand their motives and I think motives are multifaceted. It's generally national interest as it should be. And --
Rose: Looking back. Back to the intelligence issue which is so important as you said. Is the new structure in your judgment with Negroponte heading up the new organization working? Is it good?
Rumsfeld: Too soon to tell --
Rose: You had some reservations at the beginning?
Rumsfeld: Yeah, sure. You are in the middle of a war and you start to play 52 card pickup and adjusting how you do your intelligence is a little risky, I think. But the decision was made and it's gone very well. John Negroponte is an enormously talented guy. He is doing an excellent job. Porter Goss with a tough job at the agency and is very talented guy, fellow, doing a good job. You have two good people. We have got military people working very closely with them because the reality is, the department of defense is the biggest user of intelligence. And we need to have intelligence collected to the operators. They have simply got to be able to get real time intelligence to be able to do their job and therefore, the intelligence can't go off and be in an ivory tower. Something that's theoretical. It has to be real and it has to be connected to the users. And we're connected in the theater of operations very well. John Negroponte and Porter Goss and I are very well connected at the top. You know, in the middle sometimes, it pulls out but we're able to put it back together pretty fast. I think it is going to work.
Rose: You do? Early judgment. You still control the budget of NSA?
Rumsfeld: It is cooperative between the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte and me, most of it. We have meetings and talk about how to do these things and we end up agreeing. There's not a problem.
Rose: How big a challenge is Iran?
Rumsfeld: It is big. You have a country that says they'd like to see Israel wiped off the map and the United States not exist. A country that's sponsoring one of the -- I suppose, the leading terrorist sponsoring organization in the world.
Rumsfeld: and Hamas. There they are. They do what they do. They say what they say. The Persian people are a wonderful, talented people. They have a great history and one has to believe that over time, the women and the young people are going to be uncomfortable with rule by a handful of clerics.
Rose: But that's what's scary.
Rumsfeld: Whose behavior is having the result of isolating that country from the rest of the world? Here's a country, they know the rest of the world and they know what's going on in the rest of the world, and they're now getting isolated because of their leadership.
Rose: What options do we have?
Rumsfeld: Oh, goodness, I'll leave that to the President. I’m not going to jump into the middle of that.
Rose: But you have to be prepared. The Pentagon has to be prepared in the event of a military option. It is part of your responsibility, is it not?
Rumsfeld: The President's is, properly, in my view, on a diplomatic track. Working with the European allies and friends to try to work through the IAEA and conceivably eventually at the United Nations. One hopes that the views of the rest of the world will have some impact on the folks --
Rose: That’s China and Russia?
Rumsfeld: Europe, everybody, yeah.
Rose: Europe. Europeans have been at it and doesn't seem to have been – I mean, to have been solved.
Rumsfeld: No, it hasn't. But sometimes -- I mean, think how long, for example, libya was on the terrorist list.
Rose: And where is it today?
Rumsfeld: Well, they clearly, Colonel Quaddafi has made a decision to forego a nuclear program and that is a very good thing. And it's a positive thing. And we ought to nod and say, good for you. And who knows? Maybe some other countries will follow that path. You know? Do you know exactly where it will all be two or three years from now? No. Is that an enormously important step on the part of the Libyan government? You bet.
Rose: I saw the other day Michael Porter, an university school professor, over there working how they meet the challenge of the future.
Rose: The Libyan government. An American professor from Harvard Business School.
Rumsfeld: And I mean, that's a good thing that's happened. We ought to nod our head and credit the Quaddafi government for doing that. In my view. I think that's a significant thing. It would be a wonderful thing if North Korea and Iran and some other countries would nod their head and say that's a path that makes sense.
Rose: Iran, is it -- how dangerous is it to -- how difficult are they making Iraq?
Rumsfeld: They're harmful. You know, there are -- there are relationships across there that go back centuries. There are the holy spots for the Shia faith; they're in an Najaf and the cities in Iraq. So there's pilgrims, Shia pilgrims that come from Iran. By the tens of thousands that come into Iraq all the time. Iraq has intelligence people in -- Iran does in Iraq. Now, do they want a democracy on their border? No. That is not a good thing from their standpoint. They decided --
Rose: Might influence regime country?
Rumsfeld: They want extreme, extreme Islamists to be in charge of countries. that's what they want. And that is what they would like in Iraq.
Rose: But that's not happening.
Rumsfeld: No. They're trying. I mean, the people who are opposing what's going on in Iraq are a mixture. They're the al Qaeda to be sure. They are the Iranians to be sure. The Syrians, the Baath parties. They don't want a democracy on their border, either. And I mean, and think of Iran. They have got a democracy in Afghanistan and on the other border. Not a happy prospect for them either.
President Karzai is democratically elected in that country. They have a parliament. They have a constitution. The people in Iran have to look at that and they're going to see those countries succeeding over time. And they're going to see their country isolated over time. And at some point one would think they would not be terribly enamored of the people leading their country.
Rose: You said that this fight against terrorism will not end with a bang. It will end with a whimper.
Rose: What do you mean?
Rumsfeld: It'll just fade down. I mean, the Cold War, think of the Cold War. Went on 50-plus years.
Rose: Then there was a --
Rumsfeld: Well, the wall went down, sure. But there was no conflict. There was no major battle. There was nothing like that. It ended. And all of those countries most of those eastern European countries are now oriented to the west and in NATO. It is amazing. It is amazing and this – the extremists are determined to have everyone live under the beliefs and convictions and ideology that they put forward. They do not accept anything other than that. That strikes directly at our free system. At our free way of life. And, at the free way of life of countries all across the globe. So, it is something that can't be compromised with. There is not going to be a some sort of an agreement where you negotiate out of settlement of it. It is fundamentally opposed to what we believe in.
Rose: When you look at your own role as secretary of defense any great regrets? Any apologies? Any -- because you are someone who asks questions all the time.
Rumsfeld: I sure do.
Rose: You do. I need to know. It is a defining notion of your --
Rumsfeld: I do. Well. True.
Rose: When you ask questions today, what are you asking?
Rumsfeld: I'll give you one example.
Rumsfeld: The situation in Iraq, there's a big debate, has been for two or three years as to how many troops we should have there. And the tension is this – on the one hand, if you have too many, you're too intrusive. You're too much of an occupying power. And you engender opposition and feed an insurgency against you for being there. The opposition, the enemies are lying. They're saying we're there because we want to stay and they’re saying we want permanent bases. They say we're after their oil.
Rose: None of that's true?
Rumsfeld: Certainly is not true. And, and that -- that people believe. The local television stations feed it. Al Jazeera makes a career out of it. That's a tension. Now, the other problem is, if you're too heavy, Americans are wonderful people. If there's a ditch to be dug or a building to be built, we say, let's go do it. And we dig the ditch or build the building. We don't want to create a dependency in Iraq or Afghanistan. We need to create an environment where they can build their country. We are not there to nation build. We don't know how to build nations. We can create an environment hospitable for them to figure it out and build their own country. So too many people create somewhat of a dependency. Too few people, the security environment is not enough to – for people them to build their own country and move forward. I’m asking questions, where are we in that? Do we have the right balance? When we balance risks against too many in there, and creating a dependency or feeding the insurgency, have we balanced it right with enough in there that they can -- the Iraqis can have their free elections and can elect their parliament and can they then govern their country? That, I have to ask questions because no one's smart enough to figure that out. You just have to talk to enough people and try to get that balance and we basically tried to find the right mix of that.
And of course, you – at different levels from my level to the chairman and then to the commanders, and then to the people that work for the commanders, people down on the bottom always could use more people to do what they're doing. At some battalion level in some area.
So that's one example of where you have to ask questions. You said do you have regrets? I think -- I mean, what was done by the -- that midnight watch group of people at Abu Ghraib, and was so terrible in terms of its effect in the world. Against our country. And, there was a – the president from the beginning had a policy of humane treatment and torture was not allowed. We had a policy that reflected the president's policy. It went right down. There was never a policy that would permit anything like that. In fact, those people were not interrogators. There were almost overwhelmingly just people. Some of them were clerks. At least one of them. And, and to have done what they did and then to have those pictures come out, of course, this week, some were released in Australia and people think it's a whole new thing. It is not. It's a same set of pictures from that same period by the midnight watch in Abu Ghraib two or three years ago and the damage it's done and the use the enemies made of it, feeding it on the internet and persuading people to politician – getting into a political debate so that now people are saying Guantanamo should be closed.
I mean, the United Nations' peoples did not even go there that came out with this report. They weren't there. They've never seen it. And there's -- listening to the people, the lawyers from detainees who are trained to lie. The terrorists are trained, we have the Manchester Document that shows how terrorists are trained to lie and to allege they have been tortured and that's what's being fed into that and that's being promoted. And now, how does one deal with that? That's a hard thing to do. But if you say, what do you get most disappointed about? The impression that people have in the world that that was the way that people in the United States behave and we have a million 4 million [1.4 million] people on active duty and another 180,000 guard and reserve and they're terrific people and isn't the way they behave and the people that did behave that way were punished in the code of military justice and sent to jail and demoted in ranks and they went from generals and top colonels and privates all anyone who was involved was punished. And they should have been.
Rose: They've asked me not to ask anymore questions. I’m over. As far as you're concerned, there's full accountability and responsibility?
Rose: Everybody who --
Rumsfeld: The investigation --
Rose: Should have been asked and every person held accountable is held accountable.
Rumsfeld: Unless we find something tomorrow and we'll go after that. Criminal investigations and hundreds and court-martials and punishment and there should have been.
Rose: What remains to be done?
Rumsfeld: You never know. Something will come out tomorrow that someone will say this and then we have to investigate it and find a problem. We'll do something about it.
Rose: All of your people that will be angry at me keeping you too long. Would you please tell them thank you very much for spending this time with us? I hope we can do it again.
Rumsfeld: I enjoyed it.
Rose: It is a good conversation for me and for the country.
Rumsfeld: Thank you.
Rose: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, thank you for joining us. See you next time.