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tv   Larry King Live  CNN  November 16, 2010 3:00am-4:00am EST

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of attempted kidnapping and attempted robbery because the statute of limitations has expired. he still faces first-degree murder charges. and sarah palin took a lot of flack for coining the word "refudiate." an apparent combination of refute and repudiate. and the new oxford american dictionary has chosen "refudiate" as their 2010 word of the year and it will be entered as an actual word which makes me wonder when they're going to put in "strategicry." >> that's it for "360." larry king starts right now. >> larry: tonight, general colin powell. any second thoughts about president obama? >> he should have focused on the economy and doing something about unemployment. >> larry: how strained the relationship between him and cheney and rumsfeld. can the united states win in afghanistan?
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looks back at his role in history and ahead to america's place in the world. colin powell is next for the hour on "larry king live." >> larry: great pleasure to welcome back to "larry king live" a good friend. we have a month to go with the show. and so honored to have him kick off this week. general colin powell, united states army retired. he was secretary of state under president george w. bush, former chairman of the joint chiefs, founder and chair of the colin powell center in harlem. i will visit the center next month. center for policy studies affiliated with city college of new york. and founding chairman of america's promise. it was six years ago today that colin powell announced he was resigning as secretary of state. boy, time goes. >> time goes, yep. >> larry: do you miss government? >> not really. i try not to miss anything in life. i enjoyed my government service. i was in government service for 40 years between the military
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and the state department. but i always like to look forward as i say to so many audiences you should go through life looking through the windshield not the rearview mirror. >> larry: you are always a general, correct title, once a general always a general. >> protocol is general. former secretary. i would rather be a general rather than former secretary. >> larry: of all the jobs you have had, what do you miss the most? you don't think about it. which? >> in the 40 years of service i had. what i miss the most being with fellow service persons. people who were g.i.s or diplomats or foreign specialists. i miss working with people. the tension, the pressure, the challenges, that, that was an im important part of all the assignments. being in combat, peacetime service all of that was important. bucht the but the thing you miss the most, late at night, reflect on. people you were privileged to serve with. >> larry: get right night, you endorsed the president, mr.
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obama, for president, two years in any second thoughts? >> none whatsoever. when i endorsed then senator obama in 2008. i thought he was the right choice for the country. the country was in deep economic despair, i think the country needed a significant and transformational change, and i thought president obama would provide that for us. i will get to that. it was a hard decision for me. i was so close to senator mccain. i had known him three decades. a fellow veteran all that. i thought it was the right choice. and that's the choice i made. now in the almost two years since i think the president has done a good job in stablizing the economic system. i mean, wall street was collapsing. the whole economic structure of country was falling apart. that has been stablized. i think he has done a good job in moving in a number of directions with respect to iraq and afghanistan and trying to launch the middle east peace
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process. again. but where i think it has not gone as well and reflected in the election just a to days ago was that he is not communicated to the american people what we are going to do about getting jobs back and getting the economic recovery down to the retail level where people are still unemployed. wall street is doing fine. wall street has a lot of bonuses still going out. but the american people are losing some focus on president obama. what he is frying trying how to do. when you look at the election results, as he said, he got shellacked. i think it was more than a shellacking. it was a real body blow he has to reflect on and figure to come back. >> larry: does it surprise you, a great campaigner, mover of people. when he spoke people listened. that that perception fades? >> i am a little surprised. he is such a great communicator. he spoke with a sharpness and directness that i think everybody appreciated. that's why he was elected.
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but i think a little of that has dissipated now. my own view is that he should have focused on the economy and doing something about unemployment to the exclusion of almost everything else domestically. it's not that other things aren't important. health care is important. our energy policy is important. education policy. all of this is important. but when you are starting out as president, you have to figure out which is the most important. in military terms we say what is the main attack? everything else is important, but what is the main attack? in my judgment, the main attack was to do something about the job situation, the unemployment situation. everywhere i go in the conentry this conentry -- country. this is what i hear. there are other aspects. the deficit is of deep sun concern to the american people, the amount of debt we are piling on, national debt, the election results we saw were not good for president obama and not good for democrats. but at the same time my republican friends had better be
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careful. i think the american people were expressing displeasure with the entish political system in washington, d.c. so the next year, i think is going to be very, very important to see how the republicans use their majority in the house, how the democrats respond with their majority in the senate, and how the president responds as still the president, the next two-plus years. >> larry: governor rendell, democrat of pennsylvania, suggested that general powell be asked to be the chief of staff. would you? >> i haven't been asked. i don't expect to be asked. >> larry: if asked? >> well, i don't know what i would do if asked. i don't expect to be asked. i have had 40 years of government service. >> larry: you are the kind of guy. >> i have no interest. governor rendell would make a great chief of staff. >> larry: turning it around. >> he has been running around throwing my name out. ed rendell is an accomplished politician, governor, mayor of a great sit eye. >> larry: you are used to serving your country, if asked,
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general? >> i have served my country for 40 years. i believe in my current life, post government service. still serving my country. >> larry: you're just back from a major trip, obama is back from a main your trip, produced mixed results. what do you make of that? the eyes of the world, he was held above the grain, now what? >> well i think it was a trip that had some successes. but some disappointments. he didn't get what he wanted with respect to -- trade agreement with south korea. he wasn't able to persuade some of his g-20 colleagues of the direction to move with respect to the financial situation. he didn't get what he was looking for with respect to trade policy changes. but at the same time, i think one of the great achievements of the trip is that he showed that america still recognizes that it is an asian pacific power. when you look at the rise of china, importance of china these days i think he sent the right message that. as you concern yourself, my asian friend, with china, the
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united states is here as part of the asian pacific community. we should not think that china is a nation to be contained because you are not going to be able to contain it. its a nation we have to work with. every now and then china dem mon stralts its new found power to the distress of some of the asian nations. for the president of the united states to be in the region, indonesia, south korea, japan and to participate in the g-20 meetings that were held in asia, i think, and especially in india, i think that shows that america still is engaged. people look to us for leadership, look to us for influence. and the issues that he didn't achieve success with, are still there. they have to be work. >> larry: we will be back with general colin powell right after this.
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>> announcer: larry king live,
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>> larry: i think any american would agree that colin powell is a great american. former general, former secretary of state. the moderate republican, what is a moderate republican? >> i think a moderate republican is someone who believes in the strong national security and defense policy who believes in low taxes, who believes in keeping government as small as necessary, but making sure it is a government that performs the functions of the american people want. but a moderate republican in my judgment is also someone who is quite sympathetic to the social needs of our citizens, who is open towards immigration, immigration is keeping this country thriving. and the issue of civil rights and the issue of taking care of those in our society who are the not doing as well as the rest of us. i think that should be part of the republican mantra too. >> larry: you suggested the tea party may be a fad unless it converts itself into something, a real political organization, a quote from your appearance on
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"meet the press" last month, two months ago the where do you think they're going? >> it is not clear yet. not clear yet how they are going to mesh with the republican party. conservatives in the republican party and moderates. but i think it is a fascinate thing to watch. what a great country we have when a group of people get together and decide we are not happy with what is going on in washington. let's grab the motto, tea party, which has great historic significance and create a movement. when they started it i thought it would be a passing fad. it turned out to be something much more than that. i hope that all our political leaders in washington whether a democrat, republican, moderate, conservative, liberal, reflect on the fact that this is a movement of americans who are concerned about the future of our country, and don't dismiss them as a fad. but at the same time they're not yet a political party that has an agenda, clear agenda, that has standing in congress. >> larry: what about stories though that the base, the central aspect of the republican party doesn't like them? that in a sense it is going to
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affect them? >> well, i think the tea party movement is going to put pressure on republicans and on democrats. now at the same time -- some of the things that the tea party movement is asking for, are unachievable. i am not sure it is right. it's -- it's not doable to say we want to cut spending. we want to reduce the deficit. but we don't want to increase revenue. this algebraic equation will not work. >> larry: you can't have it both ways? >> can't have it every way. when i hear people say we're going to cut spending, interrogators such as you say how are you going to do it? they say we're going to freeze spend spending. don't tell me you are going to freeze spending. tell me what you are going to cut. what service are you not going to provide to the american people that they now are expect expecting? when you look at the growth of government in the last, 10, 15 years, people complain about that -- do you want to get rid
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of the transportation security administration? do you want to get rid of the homeland security department? the director of national intelligence? all of the other things that have been created in the last, 10, 15 years because the american people needed them. and so i have always been a believer in let's have the government that we need to perform the functions that we need. anything that is not necessary, let's get rid of it of course. let's take a hard look at everything that people say is necessary. and make sure that, huh, are we sure? let's get rid of it. so the only way to reduce the size of government is to cut things, not freeze things, and not pretend that we are only going to give it a certain percentage of increase. you have to eliminate things. >> what is the general's read on the former governor of alaska? >> i think governor palin, former governor palin is a fascinating individual. i think she has become a political celebrity. notice i put the two words together the a political force. and she is quite a celebrity.
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now, whether she will run for president or run for any other political office in the future i would leave that up to governor palin to decide. >> larry: what is she to a moderate republican? she is very critical of. >> more to the right side of the political spectrum than i am. and i don't think anybody would, would object to that statement. and, you know, her positions are very populist, what she would cut, eliminate or solve the algebraic equation, less government, less spending and no more revenue in fact, cut taxes. how do we solve that equation, governor? >> larry: hmm. we'll ask about afghanistan right after this. our guest is general coal ln powell. -- colin powell. don't go away.
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>> larry: back with general powell. the united states troops in afghanistan, 100,000. obama says there will be a draw down of the surge troops in july. reports say the united states is eyeing a plan to end combat mission there in 2014. >> well, 2014. >> is this his vietnam? >> we shouldn't make these kind of comparisons. they're totally different situations. 2014 is the date agreed upon in
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general by president karzai and by our administration. >> larry: seems forever off? >> several years off. now what president obama has said when he sent in the additional troops was that he would take a look in july and try to begin or begin -- a little unclear exactly what he, what the various officials in the administration say, but begin the draw down of our overall troop level in afghanistan in july of next year. it doesn't mean we are pulling out 100,000 troops. i don't know how many troops we will pull out. and he has said, and his associates have said, inside the national security team, is that it is conditioned space. it depends on what things look like in july. so right now, my analysis and, not doing it from any official information i get, is that our troops, as you would expect are doing a terrific job. when you put an american infantry battalion, marine battalion on the ground things change.
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we use our special forces to go after the folks and find them and take them out, things change. so i see some signs of improvement. but i cannot tell -- how firm that is. how real it is. and whether it will still be there a couple years from now. it really is going to require, the only answer to this, is for us to do best we can, but then, it's the afghan authorities that have to take is over. the afghan army, the afghan national police. and the civil authority, it will be the afghan government. >> larry: in meantime, men and women die? >> yes, that's why wars are terrible things and should be avoided. but right now, men and women are dying most of them are dying at the hand of the taliban. and what we are frying to do u trying to do is put them out of business, force them out. persuade them they're not going to win. they won't win because one we have our troops there. but beyond that we can't stay there forever. the afghan national police and afghan army and effective afghan government the people can believe in.
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that's the weakest part. >> larry: has anybody consulted you on this? >> i have been in regular touch with authorities within the administration and the president. >> larry: you talk to the president? >> from time to time, yes. >> larry: dupe they o they talk to you about afghanistan? >> all time. >> larry: what do you make of mr. karzai, what is your read on him? >> mr. karzai is a nationalistic leader. he has said some things in last few days which show discomfort, displeasure on his part with respect to some of the things we are doing. the late-night raid. but you know he wants american troops to eventually leave his country. guess what? so do we. and so there is a difference of opinion as to how this strategy should be pursued. should it be strictly going after terrorists, should it be trying to essentially do an effective counterinsurgency mission where you are in large extent taking over the running of a country. when you send in an infantry in,
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say straight in it out, the command will go in and become all most the government for a while. we have to make sure that doesn't turn out to be permanent case. you have to bring in the real afghan government. there is a difference of view right now. i don't think it is fundamental. i don't think they're at loggerheads between mr. karzai. >> larry: can you try to walk in his shoes? is that a good idea to do that? >> you know, he has been in power since the -- the taliban collapsed in 2001, early 2002. and he has been under pressure for all these years. and he is committed to his people. he sacrificed for his people. he put hill self in danger for his people years ago. and we have to try to support him to the best of his ability. but there are weaknesses in his government. and there are weaknesses in the way in which he conducted his office, the level of corruption is unacceptable. we have got to do an even better job with respect to the drug trade. >> larry: an interview with on un un -- our own candy crowley. he says, what happened wupz that
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some nato allies turned out not to be welling to fight illing to fight. what are your thoughts on that? >> i'm not sure what former president bush meant by that. we were joined in afghanistan by a number of our nato allies. there were a number of them there now. i would not want to diminish in any way the contributions they have made. you have to remember that they come in as nato allies, but under the control of their own prime ministers and presidents. and in some cases they were not given the same kind of authority to engage the enemy that u.s. forces were given. i think that's the point the president was trying to make. but at the same time, if we needed 100,000 now to stabilize the situation and hundreds of thousands of afghan police and soldiers, then maybe we should have concluded some years ago that the light footprint we had in the early years, 2002, 2003, was not adequate. i think we might have been better served with a larger
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footprint earlier. i am always of the view that if you are going to do something, do it. put a large force in. >> larry: we'll ask the general, get to him what president bush said about him, in the book, and get his comment right after this.
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>> larry: we're back with general powell. all right, writing in his new memoir about your february 5, 2003 speech to the u.n. which has now become historic. here's what the president, former president says. colin's presentation was exhaustive, eloquent and persuasive. coming against the backdrop of saddam's defiance of weapons inspectors it had a profound impact on the public debate. later many assertions in the speech would prove inaccurate. at the time his words reflected the considered judgment of intelligence agencies at home and around the world. do you wish you had been less exhaustive, eloquent, and persuasive?
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>> no, that was my job at the time. and the information i was being given by the intelligence community hung together. and i spent four days and nights out at the cia going over it and asking every way i could. are you sure of this? you have multiple sources on this? i got those assurances. the same assurance as that the intelligence community gave to the president. the same assurances the intelligence community gave to the congress, four months earlier. and at the request of the congress, and the congress passed a resolution supporting the president if he decided he had to take military action. that was months beaver i fore i gave my u.n. speech. >> larry: a lot of people counted on you. you changed the ball game. >> i turned the dial, no question. that's what the president wanted me to do. what i was supposed to do? >> larry: do you regret it? >> i regret it now. the information was wrong. i will be seen as the one who made the case before the international community. but there wasn't a word in that speech, presentation, that was not vetted and approved by the
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intelligence community. that is neither here nor there. >> larry: are you ticked? >> yeah. you know, i have had members of congress say to me, well, i voted for the resolution because of your presentation. and i had to remind them, no you didn't you voted for the resolution three months before my presentation. >> larry: you swayed public opinion? >> i swayed public opinion, there is no question about it. but for months afterward when we didn't find any weapons of mass destruction, we didn't find the biological vans or any of that. until six or eight months later, the intelligence community still insisted that the items were there. they weren't. >> larry: when you left you were an unhappy man weren't you? >> no, i wouldn't say i was an unhappy man. i was glad to be moving on in my life. >> larry: glad to leave? >> at that point, yes. and the president and i had conversations in early 2004, when he was getting ready for, you know next campaign, and i said to him that i thought it
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was time for me to leave at the end of the my first four years. i had no desire to stay on for a longer period of time. and i also made it clear to the president that i didn't think our system, our national security system, was working as well as it should. it wasn't serving him as well as it should. and he should think about making some changes. i think the changes began with me. >> larry: osama bin laden is still at large, why? >> because we haven't caught him. i don't know where he is. he is some where, i am reasonably sure. >> larry: living? >> i have no reason to believe he is not living. but you know you can't prove it. every six months or a year out comes a tape that suggest he's is still living. but he has -- proven himself to be a master at hiding himself. people think it is easy to find somebody who is making every effort not to be found. i faced this in a number of situations with all of our satellites, with all of our electronic means, with all of our spies, still, people are able to hide from us for an
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extended period of time. i couldn't catch manuel noriega right away in panama, i couldn't catch mr. adeed in somalia right away. it is not easy to find somebed who know house you are looking for them. >> larry: somebody that tall? >> somebody that tall. haven't found him. been ten years now. we still haven't found him. he is still a force. but here is an important point. he is not walking around giving television interviews. and he is hiding. and as long as he is hidden and afraid to use a telephone, a afraid to use a satellite radar, afraid to do anything but give a video interview. he is not the same force he was ten years ago. he is trying to stay alive. therefore, we have a different kind of al qaeda that we are dealing with than the al qaeda that struck us on 9/11. >> larry: to your knowledge have we ever come real close? >> i have no idea. some people say that in the early days when weep were going through the mountains we might have missed him.
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but i have no idea whether that is accurate or not. >> larry: that is rough terrain isn't it? >> it is difficult terrain. we often think about that region as if you can just go anywhere you want in a to hours. and we have to keep this in mind, too, when we talk about pakistan. because our pakistan friends are an important part. >> larry: you just met with them? >> i just met with the pakistani chief in my home a to weeks ago. he has got a tough problem. it is the most difficult terrain imaginable. he has troops but he doesn't have the kind of ability or intelligence capability he need. if there was one recommendation i would give to our government. we have got to do a better job of giving the general and pakistani armed forces the where withal to get into the very difficult areas. >> larry: let me pick up on that right after this. we'll be right back. ] a little bit of this, a touch of that... yup, there's a new head chef in the kitchen. introducing new quaker mix up creations.
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>> larry: concerning the pakistani general has the government listened? >> so far, i think the government understands the problem. and i think they are trying to provide him more resources, more money. but i still think it is inadequate to the task he is facing. >> larry: mr. netanyahu agreed to the deal, he gets more planes, he stops the settlements. i know you have had to deal with this as secretary of state and our whole adult lives. what do you make of the middle east? >> it is as complicated as is has ever been, my predecessor struggled with it, my successors have struggled with it. now the deal, secretary clinton
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worked out with prime minister netanyah of the, netanyahu, stoppage. incentives, more airplanes, whatnot. that leaves me a little cold because why does it require airplanes to do what is a sensible thing to do? and that is to suspend settlement construction in order to try to get this peace process moving forward. but we have had a suspension of settlement activity for a number of months. that didn't break through. so i will be anxious to see what mr. netanyahu is able to obtain from his cabinet and whether he gets the flexibility he needs to engage in a serious way. if we just go back to exchanging talking points with each other, palestinians, ex-changing talking points, the israelis, senator mitch, secretary clinton doing best they can.
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60 days from now we are back where we started that will not be helpful. >> larry: what is it like for you as secretary of state to go back and forth there, frustrating? >> it could be very frustrating. in the days i was secretary of state, yasser arafat was still there as president, palestinian authority, and it was extremely frustrating. because he would make claims and he would say he was going to do things that he didn't. and so we could never get the process really going. and at that time, israel was still suffering from a large number of terrorist attacks. and area iel sharon was during my time. they said look we will put up walls, seal it off and get rid of gaza and see if that breaks any of the log jams that we have. and what we have now is that well we are trying to find a way to move forward. israel is more secure than it has been in -- in many years --
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because of the wall and the other things that it has done. the west bank is not doing badly economically. and hopefully the people in the west bank will start to say, we really don't need this kind of conflict and start to build up. and so -- mr. netanyahu is in a rather stable, secure position. so he also is being held far to the right by his cabinet. so he, he is not under the same kind of terrorism pressure that other earlier prime ministers have been. meanwhile, on the palestinian side, you have the split between fatah or hamas. who are you negotiating with, fatah, and abbas, and gaza and the control of hamas. >> larry: do you see any optimism? >> you always have to. if you are going to play in the mideast you always have to have a sense of optimism, you can never quit, never walk away. stakes are too high. lives are at risk. our interests are at risk in the region.
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you have to stay engaged as difficult as it is. >> larry: if they ever got together wouldn't it be a major power? >> they being israelis and palestinians? awe. >> larry: yeah. it would be -- >> intellectually and both of them, the palestinians and the israelis have -- believe it or not -- entrepreneurial spirit about them. aren't we all? >> larry: good point. >> if we could ever create the two-state solution that we have all wanted for the many, many years and bring them together with -- with a sense of respect for each other, it has to be a real palestinian state, not some area cut into a thousand pieces. if we could ever cause that to happen, i would think it would be a terrific place. >> larry: what do you think of the job secretary clinton is doing? >> secretary clinton good friend and associate of mine is doing an excellent job. she is still stuck with the same problems that the we gave her. she is doing an excellent job.
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>> larry: you were young then. we're back with general colin powell powell. waterboarding, the president kind of defends it i guess in the book. do you? >> you know, when we were going through this, america had just been struck, and we were trying
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to make sure we were protecting the american people in every way possible. and the intelligence agencies came forward with some procedures they wished to use to get as much information as they can. and we all talked about things and we were concerned about the fact that we had responsibilities under international law. i think all of us felt that waterboarding was, if not over the line, very close to the line. but the president of the united states, who has responsibility to protect the american citizens, felt that in that circumstance waterboarding was appropriate and as he clearly said he approved it. he takes responsibility for the approval of it. i think subsequently, as you kind of go down the years and take a look at what has happened over the years, i think it could be called now torture. you know that the cia stopped doing it. and there was a school of thought within the fbi and elsewhere that you don't really
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get good information from this kind of thing. you can get it through more vigorous and professional interrogation. but the president of the united states is the one who has a responsibility for our safety. and at that time, the one thing we were most concerned about is to make sure that we were getting everything we need to prevent another 9/11 attack. it is easy. >> larry: you wouldn't support it now? >> i wouldn't. >> larry: the book describes tensions between you and dick cheney and you and don rumsfeld. if memory serves me correctly, going back to the gulf war, weren't you and cheney on the same plane. >> yes. then secretary and cheney i had a very good relationship for the almost four years we were together. >> larry: yeah. so what happened? >> you know, during the -- during the president george w. bush's administration there were many areas of cooperation where we all agreed on things. we had a treaty with moscow reducing the significantly the number of nuclear weapons that exist in the world. we made significant increases in money for hiv/aids prevention, president's emergency program for aids relief, we increased our funding for, foreign assistance around the world. a lot of things were done well. but people like to focus on the areas of disagreement.
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and the principal area of disagreement that people look to focus on is iraq and some of the things that were done related to guantanamo. my view of iraq was that this is a war we should avoid if we can. and therefore, my recommendation to the president, was that he take it to the united nations. he did that. and after getting a resolution we found that the iraqis would not give us what we needed to assure ourselves, they didn't have weapons of mass destruction. the president decided that, it was necessary to undertake combat operations. since i pushed him down the diplomatic track or encouraged him to do that knowing that if it didn't work comb battle would be necessary i, i was fully supportive of going into combat.
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we had lots of different points of view during that period. but, you know, that's -- that's -- >> larry: you ever talk to cheney or rumsfeld? >> no. >> larry: well said. direct. you helped usher in don't ask, don't tell. i think you were the main promoter of it. >> the main promoter of it. yes, is was my position. >> larry: it was your baby? >> it had a lot of, it had a lot of fathers. i mean senator nunn was the main proponent of it up on capitol hill. president clinton came in and we discussed this. and my recommendation to him was not to press this right now because it was not as simple as people made it out to be. we had real issues with respect to living accommodations, with respect to its effect on the force, with respect to our spouses, our chaplains, our noncommissioned officers. and he didn't, he never -- he never said implement this policy. he said we would study it.
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>> larry: clinton never said -- >> he never gave the order. he would never tell you if he was here today that he gave the order. so we studied it. the problem weep face faced early on, if we didn't do something, the congress was going to go back to the old policy of not letting anybody, asked the question before you came in. and so the compromise was don't ask don't tell. and congress made it a law. we didn't -- my position has been, it has been 17 years since we put the policy in place. lots of things have happened. attitudes have changed within our society. but i always believe, as i believed in 1993, that we have to take into account the views of our military leaders who are response bum for the well-being of the armed forces. >> larry: you support the mccain view? >> yes. but our military leaders have now spoken. the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, secretary of defense,
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there is some, some difference of opinion among the chiefs that will have to be resolved. but i wish that we would just let that study be finished, let it be published and let everybody read it and not leak parts of it. i share senator mccain's view that we ought to let the process unfold and not try to intercept it with court rulings or with people trying to get a vote out of the congress when the congress is not ready to vote on it. >> larry: back with more, general powell, two more segments to go. don't go away. important phone call i made. when i got my medicare card, i realized i needed an aarp... medicare supplement insurance card, too. medicare is one of the great things about turning 65, but it doesn't cover everything. in fact, it only pays up to 80% of your part b expenses. if you're already on or eligible for medicare, call now to find out how an aarp... medicare supplement insurance plan, insured by unitedhealthcare insurance company, helps cover some of the medical expenses... not paid by medicare part b.
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>> larry: tell me about this thank you have in harlem? >> among the interests in my life, one is the colin powell policy center in the city of new york. my alma mater. i graduated 52 years ago. certain expectations they would never name anything after me. but i went into the army and did reasonably well and so, they have named the center after me. it's focused on bringing along the next generation of young people to leadership positions in our country. they are 80% minority. 50% immigrants. they are immigrants. not the children of immigrants. >> larry: immigrants themselves? >> yes. the melting pot. >> larry: from where? >> all over. you name it. name a country in the world and there's somebody at ccny and in the powell center. it's if that nature of our society to are bring in immigrants. immigrants that will bring in culture, new ideas and keep us fresh and alive.
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immigrants to work and keep the working population relatively young compared to europe and asia. i'm involved in other aspects of youth work. i founded "america's promise." we're continuing to reach out to our young people. we have to become a nation of graduates. we have too many kids not finishing high school. the chinese, indians, everybody is investing in education. america has to do a better job. it is not just our schools and our teachers that we have to make an investment in. ref to make an investment in our families and communities. >> larry: when did we fall behind? >> when family structure, i think, started to fall. started to crack. and we have children having children. and this is where we have to put our energy back, to make sure that kids have a safe place in which to learn and to grow.
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to make sure they have adults in their lives who are positive adults. make sure they have a healthy start and given the skills they need and teach them to give back to others. so our approach to fixing our education problem, making us a nation of graduates, not just a schoolhouse problem, it begins in the home. i like to say, a child starts learning the first time the child hairs its mother's voice and knows it's his mother's voice. from that point on that has to be nurtured in the home and then into the school. >> larry: and these kids are 18, 19, 20 years old? >> the students at the powell center are 18, 19, 20, 21. they are young adults. they usually work. some of them have families, but they want that education. they're hungry. >> larry: i'm going to come and talk to them. >> i love it. >> you invited me. >> bring a check. >> larry: i will. it never stops. we'll be back with our remaining moments with general colin powell right after this.
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>> larry: back with general colin powell. mr. gates is leaving. suppose president obama says -- general, be my secretary of defense. >> you know, when a president asks you to do something you have to listen. and consider it. but i'm not interested in another government position and i think that the president has many options out there, both for chief of staff and for secretary of defense. >> larry: knowing you, you'd consider consider? >> i'd have to listen to him but
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i'm not interested in another government job. >> larry: but retirement is not in your ball park either, is it? >> i'm having a great time in retirement. >> larry: you're retired? >> let's say i have a very active retirement. i'm not looking for a job. i think that 40 years of government service and i'm at an age, larry, where i'm looking forward to a more diverse kind of experience in life. >> larry: with you'll you see around you, all the positions you've held, the rise you've had to make, the odds that were against you, are you optimistic? >> i'm always optimistic. and what makes me more optimistic is going around the country, meeting people and talking to audiences. even though we have economic problems and a couple wars, the american people still believe in this country. they believe we can surmount all the problems we have. what they're waiting for is their political leaders in washington to get on with the solution to problems and not just continue to argue with each other. so the next year will be important. if congress comes back and decides to remain as polarized
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as they have in the last couple of years and just sort of keep going all the way through 2012, it will be a missed opportunity. the american people will not take that kindly. so they are a great people. they believe they have the same optimism that i've tried to live with all my life. and don't ever sell this country short in its ability to get on top of its problems. >> larry: as a minority, don't you have any bitterness with what went on? >> of course. the more i read about some of our history, it really strikes me deeply. but, you know, that was our history. we can't escape our history. but we have to look to our future. i came along at the right time after most of that was over and i was told, you just perform. don't worry about your color, that you're an immigrant family kid. that you're a poor kid from the bronx, born in harlem, we don't care. all we want you to do is perform. >> larry: love you, colynn. >>


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