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tv   Washington This Week  CSPAN  July 3, 2021 6:59pm-8:02pm EDT

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customers with speed, value and joys. now more than ever, it all starts with reliable internet. >> supports he spent -- these companies support c-span is a public service, along with these television providers, giving you a front-row seat to democracy. >> which presidents rank best to worst? join us live sunday, july 4 on "washington journal" about c-span's survey on presidential eater ship with our survey advisors giving us insight on the rankings. join the conversation with historians douglas brinkley, professor of history at rice university, a professor of history, a presidential biographer, richard norton smith, and the chair of the calvin coolidge presidential foundation. watch washington journal live
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sunday, july 4, and -- sunday, july 4, and before the program, see the full results of the 2021 survey on >> sunday night on q&a, a look at american presidents through the lens of the books they have written. >> the story has often been, and you saw in that quote, that kennedy's father was pulling the strings. >> but that is not true. jack kennedy won that pulitzer prize. he told his story and i would rather win the pulitzer prize than the president. because he had to strong desire for literary fame, even though he did not want to do a literary work, he got himself the prize. inner-city and washington dc, people had been gossiping i wonder who really wrote that book. but the pulitzer change the equation when i think made it a
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moral and ethical question. readers realize this. i looked at the letters that he was receiving in 1950 seven and librarians and schoolteachers were sending him letters, sank did you really write this book? you wouldn't have except that price if you did not write the book did you? that's not fair thing to do. >> you can also listen to q&a as a podcast. >> former defense secretary robert -- donald rumsfeld died wednesday at the age of 88. here is a look back on an interview he did in 2011 on his life in public service, his role in the invasion of iraq, and
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working for presidents george w. bush and gerald ford. >> so i decided to bring in people who were involved with me at various moments of my life and we would sit in a conference room and transcribe it and
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stimulate the other one, talk about and remind each other of things that took place. and then we would transcribe it. i also had my parents letters from world war ii, i had memos when i met with gerald ford. i dictate a lot of memos on these old-fashioned dictaphone's -- dictaphone with these little tapes. each time i did some position, some group want to come and do an oral history so i had this enormous archive. we just started taking it and putting it together and working it and working it and it took forever, it took four years to do this. but it is fun. bill said you have got to enjoy it so i just said i expect it will take a long time, it will be a lot of work and i will just relax and enjoy it. >> where did you do it?
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-- lamb: where did you do it? rumsfeld: i did it part - mostly in washington where my archive is. but the more it got digitized i could do it out at my home in new mexico or i could do it out in st. michaels maryland. lamb: did you have someone kind of overseeing the whole thing for you? rumsfeld: well as someone said the other day i've got an army. i've got three key people who help me do all of it. and then i've had oh five or six other people who've been doing the fact checking and research and transcribing and all of the mountains of work that it involves. so we probably had a team of six or seven people. lamb: and how many days or hours collectively did you actually spend on it do you think? rumsfeld: oh, goodness, well over four years. lamb: every day? rumsfeld: most every day, probably be you know, five and a half six days a week.
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lamb: why did you want to spend all this time doing this? rumsfeld: well i -- at first i didn't. at first i thought i'd do a short book and then i decided that i had the time. i had the ability to digitize which saves an enormous amount of time. and i decided that what i wanted to do was try to write it for people who are interested in history, who are interested in government, interest serious people who would like to feel that they were there in the room when decisions were made and get a sense of the people and what the differences were or what the agreements were, how it worked. but the web site that we created with these hundreds and hundreds of documents and you know thousands of pages give a reader a chance to read the book, look at an end note, there're something like 1,300 end notes, look at the end note and then go and see the entire memo. so if
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i've quoted a paragraph, they can go read the entire memorandum and see well that's interesting. that's what the context and the perspective was. and i guess partly i wanted to do it because i'm able to do it. i have the time and i have the archive and the interest and i've never done it before. i mean many people have written books. i have never written a book, so. lamb: who paid for all this, staff and everything out of your own pocket? rumsfeld: yes, yes. lamb: so on the web site where did you get this idea and has it ever been done before that you know of? rumsfeld: not that i know of. i'm sure there is somebody who must have done it but what we've done is we've taken all of these primary source documents, things in large measure i've written for whatever reason over you know so many decades and digitized them. and then you can research it. you can go in and look by key word or name or date. and so i think that it's - the book is rooted in the archive and it is what it is. it says what happened i think.
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lamb: i know when i got on i could type in names of people that i've know and it would come up. but i guess and you just said this, that you could actually click on a letter or an article on the end notes which i don't think i've ever seen before, and as you'll see i'm going to read back to some of the things that people have written. they've even used your own end notes against you. rumsfeld: sure. exactly. it's inevitable. if you're going to put that much out there, someone's going to find something, and of course a lot of it never read by me. it wouldn't - it was never edited - there'll be misspellings. there'll be names wrong, but it's - these were working documents. these were things that actually were part of how things worked. lamb: what do you think it cost you? rumsfeld: oh goodness - i don't know. it's cost quite a bit. fortunately, life's been good. i
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spent 20 years in the private sector, and i've been able to do that. lamb: would it cost you a half-million, a million dollars, do you think? rumsfeld: i don't want to guess. lamb: but a lot of money? rumsfeld: yes. lamb: what do you hope to get from this? rumsfeld: i hope to have produced a book, which i think i have, that will interest people in public service, that will inform serious people about how decisions are made, and the fact that those are tough jobs, and that the people in them are honorable people, and that the - they're - they have to make decisions in - with imperfect information, inevitably. i hope they'll have a glimpse of what the times that i've lived have been, this third of our country's history. think of it - i mean, i was serving in congress during the vietnam war, and during the civil rights marches, and the times when the city of washington, d.c. was in flames after martin luther king was killed - assassinated. they'll get a sense of the fact that president lyndon johnson could barely leave the white house for periods because of the demonstrators against the war in vietnam. we all have a tendency
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to think of the times we're living in as somewhat unique and distinctive, and of course, they're different. but, in my 78 years, i've seen an awful lot of turmoil in the country, and difficulties in the country. i must say, i also hope that people will read this and see how important the all-volunteer military's been. if you think about it, back in the '60s, before president nixon and milton friedman, and the whole group of people had a push for a volunteer army, and president nixon managed to get it through the congress. before that, there were people serving who didn't want to serve in our military. everyone today is there because they want to. every single person is there because they put up their hand and said i want to do this - i'm a volunteer - send me. and the mood in the country is so different, as a result of
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that. compared to the vietnam war, the - today, the - what's going on in iraq or afghanistan - the american people are proud of the military, and the military are proud of what they're doing, and they know what they're doing, and they know why they're doing it, which is why i decided i wanted the proceeds from the book - my proceeds - to go to the men and women in uniform, and their families, who also served and to the children of the fallen. and that's what'll happen to the proceeds. lamb: if you get on the donald rumsfeld foundation web site, you see that you have somewhere around $10 million in the foundation, maybe more by now, but you see that you've given money away - scholarship money away. rumsfeld: yes. lamb: how do you choose those people? how much of that have you done, and why are you doing that? rumsfeld: i've had people work for me in government who never could have gotten a master's or a phd on their own. and there was a foundation that was supporting that type of thing for people who needed the assistance, and joyce and i decided - my wife, joyce - that we would give some money each
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year. and we have spotters around the country at 10, 12, 15 different universities, who make recommendations to us, and then, we select them, and provide the funds they need, the tuition and stipends they need, to be able to - particularly, people who are interested in public service. these are people who are studying things like economics or government or international affairs, and things that relate to government with the thought that maybe someday they'll participate in helping to guide and direct our country. lamb: go back to the book itself. how much of it did you personally write? rumsfeld: well, i didn't, i wrote a lot and i don't know quite how to answer, because i dictated. so what i would do is dictate and then it would be transcribed and then our team of people would work it and fact check it and recast it. and then i suppose i've been over every word in it, somewhere between 15 and 20 times, editing and editing and editing, which is
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what i do. we took some of the material were things that i dictated years ago, and cables and memorandums and the likes. lamb: i don't want to - simple question, are you tired of this, writing it and talking it? i've seen you on fox several times, i've seen you on abc, i've seen you on cbs, i've read a lot of interviews in usa today and other publications. is this getting old? rumsfeld: no, it's not at all. i enjoy doing it as i said and if - when looks in the book, i think it's clear that i feel very fortunate to have been able to have served in government over so many, in so many different roles, over so many decades. and i find it interesting, i also never written a book before and the thing i've always enjoyed in life most is learning. and this
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has been an opportunity for me to learn, which makes it particularly interesting. i think if you do something over and over and over again, probably it can get a little tiring, but i've never written a book and it's been a challenge. we've put together this wonderful team of people and worked hard on it and enjoyed it and i'm enjoying having a chance to talk a bit about the book and how we did it and why we did it. lamb: you told fred barnes in the weekly standard that you called seven people before this book was published to tell them what to expect in it and you wrote maybe 20 others. rumsfeld: i did. lamb: explain that and why did you call them and who did you call? rumsfeld: well i remember calling president bush and vice president cheney, colin powell, condi rice, and jerry bremer, you know, maybe one or two others. and then i sent it out to an awful lot a memo, a separate memo out to a lot of people. the reason i did it, is
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because this had not been done before. suddenly there's going to be this web site which exists now,, where someone can go in and people will go in, they are going in, in large numbers and i thought the people ought to know that their names are in somebody's memo's and i didn't want them to be surprised. i told all of them i doubted if there was a single memo in there that referenced them that they hadn't already seen. i mean it would be something that i would have sent to them earlier or they'd sent to me or where we were discussing something. so i don't think that there would be any surprises, the only surprise would be that suddenly a whole bunch of people unknown to me or to them, would be going into the web site and seeing these memos and reading them. lamb: i saw a couple of cases, where a memo was classified and you got the defense department to declassify it. my first reaction when i saw that is, if i wanted those i would have to go to the freedom of information act to do it. is that a little bit unfair to the outside world, where you can get something declassified that i couldn't? rumsfeld: no, i wouldn't think so. you know, i was, for
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example, a us ambassador to nato back in 1973,4 and there are certain things where they just declassify after a certain period. and i was president reagan's middle envoy in the 1980s and as i talk about it the book, the meeting with saddam hussein and those things and great, large fractions of those things are automatically declassified. then we had a number of the things that i dictated of course were classified only because they were time sensitive and i classified them originally. the pentagon does this in the normal course of things. lamb: i have a bunch of coverings sitting in my lap here both good and bad of your book. rumsfeld: yes. lamb: who made the decision to give the first interviews to
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abc? and why? rumsfeld: i don't know why. i suppose various networks indicated they would like to do it and then the publisher and people expert in all this, which i'm not, would discuss it and then we would end up discussing it and some one in the group would say i recommend this or i recommend that and then that would happen. lamb: did it have anything to do with diane sawyer and you working together years ago and a¢aa rumsfeld: no, we never really worked together. she was in, i think, the white house press -- and --
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rumsfeld: no, we never really worked together. she was in, i think, the white house press office in the nixon administration but no, we never worked closely together at all. lamb: i want to run that opening to nightline. you've worked for 40 years and all of a sudden the book goes into the hands of the media. rumsfeld: yes. lamb: and all this is is the introduction and i want to get your reaction. rumsfeld: it must be bad or you wouldn't go around. lamb: no, its not - have you seen this. rumsfeld: i have not. lamb: let's run it and get your reaction. rumsfeld: ok.(video starts) unidentified participant: tonight on nightline, world exclusive, diane sawyer goes head to head with donald rumsfeld in a tv first. the former secretary of defense opens up as never before. the controversies, the wars, the wmds and the big question, what did he get wrong? plus the man whose public face has been stoically defiant, gets emotional for the first time on his private trials at home during his tenure at the pentagon. a eye-opening, surprising revelatory interview starts right now. from the global resources of abc news with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden, and bill weir in new york city, this is nightline, february 7, 2011.(video ends) lamb: so what's your reaction to the don rumsfeld book? rumsfeld: well i think i have seen that or at least parts of that. you mean - i know what i
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think about the book. i like it but -- lamb: no, i mean the way it's treated - the trumpets blowing and -- rumsfeld: it sounds like it's hype - i guess they want people to watch their television show. is that why they do it that way? that's not - the book is being characterized quite differently by other people as a very serious historical book that people interested in history will read. lamb: what's your reaction, in two cases they show you breaking down on the camera? what's your reaction to seeing that? rumsfeld: well, you know i wish - i don't know what my reaction is. it happened. my wife was terribly sick and almost died at one point and we've - my dad had alzheimer's and its something that's hard to talk about or think about. and those are things that i'm not normally discussing but she asked the questions and i answered them as best i could. lamb: have you seen christopher buckley's review of your book in the bloomberg business news? rumsfeld: no, i haven't. lamb: i'll just read you what he says. he says, "i've known don rumsfeld for 15 years and i approached "known and unknown" with some trepidation. i was against the iraq war from the outset." and then he says ""known and unknown" changed my mind. rumsfeld doesn't suffer from testosterone deficit syndrome, and he comes at the reader with his jaw full out, yet even his critics will have to strain to assert that he's dishonest. he takes his share of blame for the administration's overemphasis on wmds. there were, he writes, many other valid reasons for taking out saddam hussein, among them, saddam's more than numerous
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violations of the u.n. resolutions. he makes no claims to being a pr genius, and acknowledges that the old europe crack didn't help, but he insists america did
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the right thing in iraq, and that he would do it again. he believes that bush 41 should have finished the job on the first go-round. but he doesn't buy into the oedipal theory, much in vogue, that bush 43 went back to upstage his old man." christopher buckley says he's known you for 15 years - against the war, but he likes your book. does that surprise you? rumsfeld: no. i hope other people will read the book carefully. i've seen some negative comments on the book. lamb: he likes your book. does that surprise you? rumsfeld: no. i hope other people will read the book carefully. i've seen some negative - and that's what he thinks, and people can think what they think. that's the way our country works. lamb: interrupt me at any time because i'm going to read you the al neuharth column from last friday, february the 11th. did you see that? rumsfeld: i haven't. lamb: al neuharth's 86 years old. he was the founder of usa today. he has a column every friday, and he says, "don rumsfeld, best known and remembered as president george w. bush's secretary of defense, before and during the iraq war, has penned an 815 page book, released this week, titled 'known and unknown.' it should remind us of how little we knew about iraq, and how rumsfeld, vice president cheney, bush and others pulled the wool over our eyes."
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rumsfeld: that's just inaccurate. in the book, as i discuss at some length - think about this, colin powell is the one who made the presentation at the united nations. he probably had more experience dealing with intelligence materials than anyone, including george tenet, the director of cia. one of the intelligence elements reported to him at the department of state. he spent days working on it. he prepared a speech for the world, which - he believed every single word in it - let there be no doubt. president bush believed every word he said, as did vice president cheney, and condi rice, and as did i. i think that it is - i don't know quite how to characterize a person who would come to that conclusion when all the evidence is to the contrary. the congress, republicans and democrats alike, looked at the same intelligence, and voted overwhelmingly for the resolution for president bush. the political leadership in the congress - hillary clinton, bill clinton, john kerry - one after
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another - al gore - were in support. now, when things didn't go well, obviously, they shifted their positions somewhat, but you can go back - the record is clear. the intelligence agencies of the united kingdom, and of france, and in other countries, all were in agreement. and i think it's terribly unfair to suggest that anyone's - was pulling the wool over anyone's eyes. it's just flat not true.
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lamb: al neuharth writes, "but they said fixing the problem would be simple. before the invasion, rumsfeld told troops, it could last you know six days, six weeks - i doubt six months. cheney said the conflict would be weeks, rather than months." rumsfeld: we're talking about major combat operations, and there was nothing inaccurate there at all. and i don't know how many times i said that anyone who tells you how long it's going to last, how much it's going to cost, or how many lives will be lost, is making a mistake because people almost always are wrong. lamb: maureen dowd - donald rumsfeld. rumsfeld: you've got to be kidding. lamb: here we go. "donald rumsfeld had only 18 - only 815 pages, including a scintillating list of acronyms to explain why he was not responsible when stuff happened - that's an old phrase of yours. his memoir, 'known and unknown,' is like a living, breathing version of the man himself, very thorough, highly analytical, and totally absent any credible self-criticism." rumsfeld: false. she must not have read it. anyone that's read it, as you have, knows that i've tried in there to talk about things that were disappointments, or things that one might regret, and i did regret, or do regret. i think what i've done is to try to set out, not only my recollections and my opinions, but also documentation that supports it. lamb: do you read that stuff
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when you're -- rumsfeld: no. lamb: you don't ever? rumsfeld: maureen dowd? my goodness gracious. you've got to be kidding. lamb: why not? rumsfeld: why would one? she has a fixation, apparently. and she's cynical, so i hope - my wife once read one, and she said i sure hope that woman is not as cynical in all of her life, as she is in her column because it would be such an unhappy life. lamb: so on a normal day, how do you filter information into you now that you're in civilian life? rumsfeld: well, i obviously use a computer, and i listen to your news programs, occasionally, and i read a lot. i read newspapers. lamb: stop there because in the early part of - i want to go back some - but, in the early part of your book, you cite whittaker chambers as having an impact on your life. rumsfeld: the book, "witness," was an important book for whatever reason, it - partly because it is an important book, but also, because i read it at an important time in my life. i was in college, and i watched the army-mccarthy hearings, and they had an impact on me. it was an opportunity to see the congress going beyond its proper role. lamb: go back to "witness" for a moment. what was it about that
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whole episode? rumsfeld: well, of course, it was - the cold war was on, and here was a man who was a communist, and a confessed communist, and the hearings, of course, and the congress, where there was alger hiss on the one side, a person who had been a clerk, as i recall, for felix frankfurter, and was attractive, and gone to the nice schools,
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and so forth, and you know had this man who was an admitted communist, who wasn't very attractive, and nobody believed him, and nobody was supporting him. and when the thing all sorted out, it turns out that whittaker chambers was correct, and that alger hiss was, in fact, a - had known him, and had been a communist. and that twist where what everyone seemed to think wasn't the case was helpful. and of course, it was also, at the time that the soviet union was aggressive and expanding in several continents. there was concern about the influence of communism in the world, and i was studying government and political science in school, so it just had an effect. lamb: what - now, so you mentioned the army-mccarthy hearings. are there other things like that that still are with you years later? rumsfeld: well, adlai stevenson's speech at my senior banquet in college in 1954 was unquestionably the - a speech that was inspiring. it was elegant, it was eloquent, it was pointed to young men getting
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ready to go off and serve in the military. and it left me with the clear understanding that all of us have an obligation to participate and to help guide and direct our country, and civic responsibilities, and i hope people will read it. i put that speech on my web site, so it might inspire other people. lamb: i want to show you some video from 20 years ago. this was a conference on the presidency at hofstra university on long island. and this is only 30 seconds. it'll speak for itself.(video starts) donald rumsfeld: so many people would come up to me when i was chief of staff and say, rummy, this is goofy. the president's making a terrible mistake. we've simply got to get him to change his mind. and i'd say terrific, i'll make an appointment, we'll go in this afternoon, let's go on in there, we take the guy in there, the guy get all steamed up, smoke would be coming out of his ears, he'd walk into the president's office, genuflect, kiss his ring, tell him what a wonderful job he was doing, walk out and say well that should have set him straight. bang. they go absolutely to jelly when they walk in the oval office. i
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don't - i suppose i understand but i must say i found it frustrating.(video ends) lamb: how often did you see that happen? rumsfeld: oh, all the time. you know one of - i've been collecting things i call rumsfeld's rules. they're not really mine. they're insights of people a lot smarter than i am. and one of them is that if you have proximity to a president you automatically have an obligation to tell him the truth and what you really believe with the bark off. because people who don't have proximity and only go in and see him occasionally simply don't want to do it. they'll tell me and they'll say this is terrible. gerry ford's got to do this or you know george w. bush to do that and he's making a big mistake. and then you put them in there and they just can't get it out. it's their one chance and they want the president to know they like
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him and wish him well and are positive about him generally and they don't want to use their brief moment with the president to open a wound. lamb: can you remember when you told the president exactly how you feel about things and didn't mince words? rumsfeld: oh my goodness, over and over and over. lamb: give us an example some moment. rumsfeld: well if you go to my book i discuss my situation with gerald ford. now that's unusual. now here was a man the only president i've ever known who was a friend. we served in congress together as i talk about in the book. i've tried to - i did help him become minority leader of the united states house of representatives. and so we had a different kind of a relationship than one would normally have with a president. but i would walk in to him over and over and there're going to be - there are or will soon be memos on my web site where i just say precisely what i said. and what i would do is say look, i think you're doing this flat wrong. let me tell you why. one
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time he was getting ready to give a speech on the win program the whip inflation now program, and i read it, came to me late, and, he'd already scheduled time for the congress and i read it and i went in to him and i said look, this is not good enough for a precedence, simply is not going to do the job. simply the truth, the truth is this is an enormously important issue. the economy was in the tank and that you're not satisfied with what the economist and your team have put together, and you're going to go back to the drawing board and by golly you're going to get this right. and he said rummy, i think this is a good program and i'm going to go ahead and do it. and i told him well you're going to be making a whale of a mistake. and he did, he went out and it was laughed at, the win program and the buttons that said win and the bumper stickers. lamb: oh, i remember the bumper stickers. rumsfeld: do you remember this? lamb: sure. rumsfeld: oh my goodness. lamb: whip inflation now. let me show you a picture of you and
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gerry ford, you can see it on the monitor there. he's waving and you're off to the right, what's that story there? rumsfeld: that was in san francisco. and this woman sara jane moore was just across the street. the normal street size, his car was in right front of him and he came out together and he had bought and a elevator had come down, and hit his head and scarred his head and of course he was being teased by folks about bumping his head on a truck, stumbling and so forth. he was one of the best athletes who served in that office. and i said to him, look we were up the hotel room and i said, look when you come out, you don't want to have chevy chase have a big fun at your expense about the fact that you bumped your head again, come out, walk fast, wave and just get right in the car and we'll get out to the airport.
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well he came out and the bullet, she shot a bullet, when right by his head, right by my head, right by the secret service man's head and into the wall of st. francis hotel and we pushed him in the backseat of the car and the secret service guy and i were on top of him and the car sped out of town. and six, eight blocks later you could hear a muffle thing "come on rodney, you guys get off your heavy," so, and fortunately he wasn't hit. but its - it was the second time that he'd been; someone had tried to assassinate him in california, the other was in sacramento, in the park as we were walking into see governor jerry brown. lamb: squeaky fromme? rumsfeld: yes that was squeaky fromme. lamb: both of those women still in prison? rumsfeld: no, they let sara jane moore out and i'm not sure about squeaky fromme. she got out and said she's sorry she missed and she wanted to create chaos, this was sara jane moore. lamb: what does that do to you, a near miss and to him? rumsfeld: well he, we got him a
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bullet proof vest finally and he wore it i think twice. but for me what it told me was its practically impossible to protect a person, you know, if you're a politician and you're out seeing people and doing things and around. the person who tries to do it can be killed or captured generally. but it's just not possible to protect a person, you know, 24 hours a day against every conceivable type of attack. lamb: one of the things you learn on your book is a lot about connects, people you knew and when i run another clip from the session you had which will get us to the next section i want to talk about, business and government.(video starts) donald rumsfeld: as in business i thing success in government requires an orientation to the customer. the only reason for government to exist is to serve
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the people. it's important for people in the white house to remember that. i don't know quite why it is that that fact is so easily overlooked. i suppose in business, if you overlook it you go out of business. but in government it just goes on and on and on.(video ends) lamb: how many years in business? g. d. searle. rumsfeld: oh more than 20. i was chief executive of searle and general instrument corporation and then chairman of gilead sciences over the years. lamb: how would you characterize the difference between running a business, for profit business, stock market, the whole thing, and running a government agency like the department of defense? rumsfeld: in business if you do poorly the business goes out of business, it ends. and government doesn't end. government can do quite poorly
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over a long, long, long period of time and it just goes on and on and on. the - another thing about business is you know human beings and unless you're einstein or mozart and you go off and all by yourself and do something brilliant, all the rest of us who aren't einsteins or mozarts, what we do is we - what we do is with other people. so in business you just lay out a course of action, try it. get people to help you do it. if the people do well, you reward them. if the people don't do well, you get other people to help do it. if it does well, you encourage it and keep it going. if it doesn't do well, you stop it. in government, it's quite different. in government for example when i was running the office of economic opportunity, we would try something and
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before we could even get it going, the congress wanted an oversight hearing. people wanted to have an inspector general's report on it. people kept pulling it up by the roots to see how it was doing and that's the first way to kill something. we tried for example with educational vouchers. we tried a certain type of family assistance in welfare, performance contracting in education. but no one would lessen- really in their - be there long enough to see if they would work. it always wanted to exam it, debate it, and discuss it which is in the case business isn't the case at all. we would go out and try something. if it doesn't work you stop it. if something doesn't work in government, well, my goodness there are investigations. you made a big mistake, everything
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is horrible. and so - the chances of doing of having something succeed in business are vastly greater. in government because something doesn't ever end, it doesn't have to stop if it doesn't work well, that's not the case. lamb: the day we're taping this, monday, february 14, this article in usa today, right here it says, "the challenge of belt tightening. the pentagon has tried for years to drop alternative engine for f35 yet lawmakers refuse to cancel the program." rumsfeld: yes. lamb: you saw this up close and you talk about something called the iron triangle in your book. first of all, what's the iron triangle? then i want to ask you about things like this. rumsfeld: the iron triangle as i characterize it is the fact the bureaucracy in the department of defense, military and civilian, is relatively permanent. it's there. the defense contractor that's an institution that exists in our society as relatively permanent, it's there. and the congress of the united states, the members and their staffs change relatively
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little in any given election cycle. and the three of them get together and develop a comfort level as to what ought to be. now if somebody comes in then and wants to change that, namely a president of the united states gets elected and he has views. take president george w. bush, he gave a speech at the citadel. he outlined what he thought ought to happen. how the department of defense could be brought into the 21st century. and any changes that are made are tend to be made over the objection of the congress, the defense contractors and the permanent bureaucracy. they are comfortable with it the way it is. they've concluded that that's the way it ought to be and if a president gets elected and comes into office with different views, there tends to be natural opposition to it. i canceled for example the crusader program. i can't think of a worse name in this environment that we're in than the crusader but it was an enormous artillery piece that took two aircraft to move anywhere in the world. certainly not something that was appropriate for the 21st century and the asymmetric warfare that we're facing. and the opposition
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to it was just incredible, i mean the retired community in the army, the active duty community in the army, the civilian contractors, the congress. i'll give you an example just a data point, when i was secretary of defense in the 70s the defense authorization bill was 74 pages long. when i came back in the year 2001, if i'm not mistaken the defense authorization bill was over 500 pages. so what happened is in the intervening period the staffs in congress ballooned. they went up by a multiple of two or three. the continuing layering of requirements from the congress generally stimulated either by the defense community or stimulated by the bureaucracy because they want to perpetuate
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something ends up with rule, requirement, reports. all of these things hundreds of reports are required by department of defense, hundreds of letters have to be answered for all kinds of detailed things. and the movement away from legislative oversight of a broad substantive nature which would be very constructive if hearings were held on important things, going down not to big broad issues but down to micro management of the thing. the closest thing i can think of is gulliver's. do you remember gulliver's travels and the lilliputians would put threads over gulliver. gulliver was big and strong and the thread no one of those threads made any
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difference. it wasn't a problem or two or five or 10 or 100s. but when you put hundreds of these threads over gulliver he couldn't get up. and that's basically what's happening in government to the department of defense. lamb: let me read the first paragraph. it says "for five years running two presidents have tried to eliminate funding for a backup engine on a fighter jet, a program defense secretary robert gates calls unnecessary," and it goes in here of the details of how much money these industries like general electric and others are giving to the members of congress and the members, former omb director rob portman has written up in here about receiving something like $59,000 from ge over the - for the 2010 elections. and i guess the main point to find out from you is how can we - with the trouble we're in economically how is this ever going to stop when the defense department who needs these weapons, says no, and the congress says yes? rumsfeld: i mean, every year there was another - i don't know whether it was 10 or $12 billion that the congress added to our legislation that we didn't want. that we argued please don't put that in there. it's for things
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that have nothing to do with the defense budget. now, the implication of your question is, sure, we've got serious economic problems in this country, but there's no way to balance this budget off the defense department. i meana -- i mean. lamb: that wasn't the - my implication was how do we stop this throughout government? rumsfeld: exactly. it's broad. because i mean, the entitlements is basically where the money goes. it's the largest fraction. we're spending today a relatively small percentage of our gdp on defense, compare to - for example, back in the eisenhower and kennedy era, we were spending, i think 10 percent. we're now down into the 3 and 4 percent in that area of gdp. lamb: want to put something up on the screen because, while you were off being secretary of defense, we were getting phone calls on our call-in show every day about this, and you don't -
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you talk - you allude to it in your book, but you don't talk specifically about it. what i have here is a january 26, 1998 letter that you signed. rumsfeld: '98? ok. lamb: and you signed it, and i wanted to just ask about it because - well, read it, and you'll see why. rumsfeld: yes. lamb: this was to president clinton. and we'll show you in a minute the list of people who signed it. you say here "the only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that iraq will be able to use, or threaten to use, weapons of mass destruction. in the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action, as diplomacy is clearly failing. '98 now - you're not in government. in the long term, it means removing saddam hussein and his regime from power. that now needs to become the aim of american foreign policy. we urge you to articulate this aim, and to turn your administration's attention to implementing a strategy for removing saddam's regime from power. this will require a full compliment of diplomatic, political and military efforts. although we are fully aware of the dangers and difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the
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dangers of failing to do so are far greater. we believe the u.s. has the authority, under the existing u.n. resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interest in the gulf. last sentence - in any case, american policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on anonymity in the u.n. security council." now, if you look over on this screen, you will see who signed it. and those people - on the right, all those people were out of government at the time, and then in the next - in the administration of george bush, they come in. national security council there with mr.khalilzad. bill kristol had "the weekly standard." richard perle was the the head of the defense policy board. there you are, donald rumsfeld, heading up the defense department. i guess in so many ways, this letter, which was a project for a new american century. rumsfeld: yes. lamb: you were successful. rumsfeld: the - it's interesting because that was in 1998, and the democratic congress passed a resolution that made the policy of the united states of america regime change in iraq, and president clinton agreed with it and signed it. so there was
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broad agreement in both political parties back in the '90s that there was - i mean, here you had a country that was on the state department's terrorist list. you had a country that had invaded kuwait. you had a country that had engaged in a long war with iran. you had a country that was shooting at american airplanes almost every day, as the u.k. and the u.s. aircraft patrolled the no-fly zones in the northern and southern part of iraq. and you had a country that was - had rejected, i think, eventually, some 17 u.n. resolutions. so i don't think it's surprising that a number of people in both political parties held that view. lamb: well, but, by and large, these are the people that moved into the administration, had
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that view before they got in the administration a rumsfeld: but, it was broadly supported by the democrats, and by president clinton. lamb: no. i don't question that. rumsfeld: yes. lamb: it just seems to me that all - it was interesting that you - this took place just after it was set up by, i think, robert kagan and bill kristol. the office was located at "the weekly standard." but, here, all of you were together then, and i just wondered if you remember why you signed that letter, and what the circumstances were around it. because people called us all the time and said, we should have known this was coming because these guys all agreed to it beforehand. rumsfeld: it's interesting - yes. lamb: i mean the - it's a conspiracy, or whether it's - actually, it happened. rumsfeld: it's not a conspiracy. it's a matter of public record. it's - people said it publicly, and president clinton agreed, and the democratic house and senate agreed. i mean, how can anyone use the word, conspiracy? lamb: well, you probably hadn't heard some of our callers. i mean - but, the point that i want to get you to talk about is the idea that all of you knew each other then, you agreed on that point, then you came into government - it's no surprise that you carried that out. rumsfeld: i had no intention of coming back in government. you
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can be sure of that. that was a big surprise for me. well, i mean, president george w. bush did not sign that. lamb: no. he did not, but dick cheney signed the original letter in the year before, setting up the whole project for a new american century a rumsfeld: is that right? lamb: so you had richard armitage over at state, and you had - you know you saw the list. rumsfeld: yes. well, i mean, what i would say is that president bush did not sign. he is the - was the president. he is the one who made the decision, and i think that using the word conspiracy, i think, brian, is a real unfortunate thing. lamb: yes. i'm not using that word - the callers used it. rumsfeld: there are people who - there are people who say things like that, but there is not any shred of legitimacy to the use of that word. lamb: all right. here is an odd and an end i want to ask you
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about. this comes out of an interview that i did with a fellow named rowan scarborough - a book about you, and i just want - i'll run this, and you tell us, finally, what is true, and what is not true. let's run this.(video starts) i can't be the first person to tell you that the first thing that i learned in here that surprised me was that donald rumsfeld is a close friend of dan rather's and co-owns a ranch with him somewhere. rowan scarborough: yes. yes. lamb: where did you find that? scarborough: well, when i was interviewing rumsfeld's friends, one of them just mentioned, by the way, i think he and dan rather own property together in new mexico. so i said that's an interesting tidbit. dan rather is not a particular ally of republicans and rumsfeld is a life long republican. so i called rumsfeld's aide, and he said to me, i think that's an urban legend. i don't think that's true. two days later, he comes back and says, yes - they own a ranch together in taos, new mexico. so they met during the nixon administration when rather covered the white house, and they've just remained friends, very close friends, ever since.(video ends)
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rumsfeld: you want the facts? lamb: yes, sir. rumsfeld: the facts are these. i didn't know dan rather, and we were not close friends. our children went to school together in washington, d.c., and our wives were close friends, and dan and i became friends. i - it was not because he was covering the white house. i was in government, but i didn't deal with him from a press standpoint at all. it was more of a neighborhood type thing. and at a certain point - it was not taos, new mexico, it was - i can't remember the name of the town. it's over east of santa fe. and we owned a ranch there. there were five of us i think who owned the ranch. just different people, had different relationships and it was kind of a - we never used it much. it was an investment and i've known dan over the years and i haven't seen him in ages. but joyce, my wife joyce sees jean from time
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to time. lamb: so do you still have that ownership at all? rumsfeld: no, that was in the '70s and '80s. it's been i'm going to guess i don't know 10, 15 to 20 years since we've had that ranch. oh, it's near las vegas, new mexico. lamb: new mexico? rumsfeld: yes, not las vegas, nevada. lamb: embedding of journalists and the iraq war, at one point there was 775 journalists and photographers, who's idea was it? rumsfeld: i don't know precisely. i know who i heard it first from and it was torie clark the assistant secretary of
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defense for public affairs. and she had been working with her staff and various people discussing it whether it was a good idea and whether it wasn't a good idea. and at some moment she came to general myers, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and me, and said that she believed that this would be a good idea, that we could allow journalists to go right into the units that were fighting a war in afghanistan and eventually in iraq and let them see for themselves what the men and women in uniform were doing and how they were doing it. and now the downside to that obviously is, if you have journalists embedded in your units, you have to protect them. you have to feed them. you have to transport them and move them around. and you don't want them saying things that would put our troops in jeopardy by revealing what
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was going to be done next or that type of thing. and torie was persuasive. and eventually dick myers and i both liked the idea and we agreed and she set about doing it and did it very, very well. and i think that an awful lot of young journalists, men and women were willing to put themselves at risk and you have to credit them for that. they had a chance to see what - how truly magnificent the men and women in uniform are, the wonderful job they do, how well they do it, how professional they are, how proud they are of what they do and that they are good people. they're people that live next door to all of us. and i - so we decided that was a good idea. we did it and for some long period it worked rather well. lamb: you remember probably how the media covered vietnam? rumsfeld: yes. lamb: and now you've been through this, if the secretary of defense comes to you in the future and says what should i do? we're faced with this again. would you recommend embedding to them? rumsfeld: i would, i would. i think that an awful lot of the journalists have never served in the military. and i think they probably regardless of what they wrote or what they saw or what their editors wanted them to
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write, they saw how truly wonderful these young men and women are who volunteer to serve our country. and i think that's good because these people in journalism have a responsibility. they're going to be writing for the rest of their lives probably and if they inside know that these people are good people, that they're decent, and that they're hard working and that they're brave and that they're trying to do what's right, sure. do people in the military make mistakes? you bet. will they see things that are going to be not positive for the military, or for the administration, or for the armed forces, generally? yes they will. do they get pressure from their editors who are competing to sell newspapers, or get advertising people to support their television programs? yes. they get pressure, and the old story is, if it bleeds, it
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leads. and sometimes people get in a hurry, and they want to have it fast, but not right. but, can you live with that? sure. i would recommend they do it. lamb: you mentioned torie clarke, and there is one little story in here where she is mentioned, and it's - two reasons i wanted to bring it up. one, you're the secretary of defense, and you have a relationship with everybody else in the defense department on a level of - you're the mr. secretary, i assume. did anybody call you don? rumsfeld: some friends do. lamb: in the pentagon? rumsfeld: oh sure. lamb: and they call you rummy, and all that? well, the story i want to ask you about is the tori clarke story the day of 9/11. rumsfeld: yes. lamb: you'd been rescuing people, and you'd been at the pentagon until 11 o'clock at night, and she asked you if you'd called your wife. do you remember this? rumsfeld: i do. first, when you say i was rescuing people - i was out there a very short period of time. i went out to see what had happened. i helped
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out briefly, and got right back to my office. i do. it was - i don't know what time it was - 10:30 or something. lamb: you say 11 in the book. rumsfeld: eleven at night? lamb: yes. rumsfeld: yes. lamb: yes. rumsfeld: and we'd had a tough day, and the country had a tough day, and hundreds and hundreds, and indeed, thousands of people had been killed. our building was smoking and burning, and they were still pulling people out of the charred remains of that area where the american airlines plane hit our building. and i'd gone back to the office, and we were trying to sort through - i wanted to keep the building open. i didn't want the terrorists to shut us down, and we were trying to see if that would be possible, and that type of thing. and at some moment, she looked at me and said, have you called mrs. r? and i just said, no. and she blurted out - not mr. secretary, not sir - she just blurted out, you son of a
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b*tch. and it was a stunner. and i don't know what i said, but i probably said, you've got a point. but, i talked to joyce about that since - my wife - and she said it never crossed her mind. we've been married, what, 56 years now. that was a decade ago - 46 years or something? she said she knew where i was. she was hearing reports. :i knew where she was. she had been at the defense intelligence agency with a bunch of defense attaches, getting a briefing, and she didn't have any doubt in her mind, but that i had things i had to do. and so, it was not a problem. tori was looking at it - tori clarke was looking at it as a wife and a spouse, and it was a perfectly
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understandable reaction, i suppose. and i don't know what i said, but i probably said, tori, i think you've got a point. lamb: that's what you said in the book. rumsfeld: is that right? yes. lamb: presidents you worked around and observed over the years - now this is not about politics, this is - which president, in your experience, was the best-suited to run the country? not from a public relations standpoint, but from a - i mean, because you talk a lot in this book about systems, white house systems, and the different meetings and all that you had, but which one do you think had - was best-equipped to run the country? rumsfeld: you have to appreciate that they were all very different. we have to remind ourselves that the times they served were notably different, so the skill sets or the backgrounds that might be most beneficial at one period might not be quite as beneficial at another. so - and they, also, were different at different stages of their presidency. if they served over time, they might have come in with some
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strengths and weaknesses, and as it evolved, those weaknesses might have very well disappeared, and their strengths became greater. so it's a hard question to answer. i think that, from the time he was there, the fact that gerald r. ford was - had such basic human decency, and was so naturally a human being that people could appreciate, i think that coming in as he did when the reservoir of trust had been drained in our country - following the only president in our history to resign. it was a terribly difficult thing, and i think he helped heal the country, and that was important. i mean, ronald reagan unquestionably had a strategic sense that was
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directionally correct, by my standard, and enormously helpful to our country, in terms of ending the cold war. he did an awful lot that was right, and i mean, dwight eisenhower had a largely successful presidency. richard nixon - my goodness, an enormously talented man with a wonderful mind and a seriousness of purpose, and brought an enormously talented team of people into government who affected the course of government for decades thereafter. people like henry kissinger and bill steinman and alan greenspan, and so many others. lamb: we're out of time, but why did you not take the job of the committee to re-elect the president under richard nixon back in '72? rumsfeld: i was interested in the substantive side of government, as opposed to the political side, and i just didn't have any interest in doing it. lamb: we're out of time. the book is called "known and unknown: a memoir." donald
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rumsfeld's our guest. thank you very much for joining us. rumsfeld: thank you, sir. announcer: c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we are funded by these companies. >> it is more than that. >> comcast is partnering so students can get what they need to be ready. >> comcast support c-span as a public service, along with these television providers, giving you a front row seat to television democracy. announcer: next, the senior
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advisor do president biden discusses the policy agenda with politico playbook and talks about the june jobs report, infrastructure, budget reconciliation, and covid-19 vaccination efforts. announcer: retired gen. david petraeus, former u.s. commander in afghanistan and former director of the cia on president biden's plan to withdraw u.s. forces from afghanistan. david: welcome to washington post live. this summer, u.s. troops will withdraw from afghanistan after a war that's lasted two decades. we will be taking a close look this morning at that withdrawal and the implications for some of the afghans who have helped us in that war.


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