tv Charlie Rose PBS June 3, 2014 12:00am-1:01am PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, the story behind the exchange of an american held by the taliban for five taliban figures held in guantanamo. we talked to david martin of cbs news. >> i think he is in for an even more disspiritting experience when he comes back to the united states because the former members of his unit now are in full cry on television and on the internet saying bowe bergdahl is not a hero and some of them are calling him a desserter and some are going so far as to call him a traitor. >> rose: we continue with david rohde and seth jones. >> this is an american soldier for five years on the territory of pakistan and let's hear from bergdahl and maybe he deserves
some criticism and so does pakistan. >> the organization where bowe was and an organization that had close ties to al-qaeda on the ground as well as pakistan's intelligence agency so i do think there's a very important question about why with an organization so closely tied to pakistan's intelligence agency, pakistan was unable to effectively get him released. >> rose: we conclude this evening with david ignatius the columnist for "the washington post" whose latest novel is called the director. >> the combination of bureaucracy and secrecy at the c.i.a. as produced a special kind of disaster. so i would like to see a smaller c.i.a., i'd like to see it focus more on the sequence that really matter. i would like to see it get out of the covert action
paramilitary side of the business. one of the things i really liked about president obama speech at west point is the future counterterrorism missions we're going to do in syria and iraq and elsewhere the training should be done by military people special up operations forces. >> rose: the taliban exchange and david ignatius when we continue. >> there's a saying around here: you stand behind what you say. around here, we don't make excuses, we make commitments. and when you can't live up to them, you own up and make it right. some people think the kind of accountability that thrives on so many streets in this country has gone missing in the places where it's needed most. but i know you'll still find it, when you know where to look.
captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: the last american prisoner of war in afghanistan was freed on saturday as part of a prisoner swap. bowe bergdahl was captured many five years ago. release of five high valued taliban detainees who has been held at guantanamo day since 2001. president obama spoke saturday alongside the young soldier's parents. >> earlier this week, we're committed to winding down the war in afghanistan and we are
committed to closing gitmo. we made an ironclad commitment to bring our prisoner of war home. that's who we are as americans. it's a profound obligation within our military and today at least in this instance, it's a promise we've been able to keep. >> rose: the deal has attracted controversial, some question wisdom negotiating with the taliban and their lingering doubts about how sergeant bergdahl fell into enemy hands. i welcome david martin from the national security how he was capture and what led to his release. >> well, we know with near certain that he simply walked away from his forward outpost in
afghanistan in 2009, sneaking away in the middle of the night. why he did it is a subject of some controversy among the other soldiers in his unit. some say he had been talking about just walking across afghanistan. others say he had been talking about making friends in the local community. and still others say he was talking about going over and fighting for the taliban. so without hearing from bergdahl, we don't really know what his motive was, but it is pretty clear that he deliberately left his base. as to his captivity, it must have been pretty grim. it was five years, most of it was believed to have been in pakistan, and most of it he was believed to have been in the
custody of the network which is a fairly ruthless outfit. and we know now he is having trouble speaking english because he didn't have any chance in the past five years. and that he's got what the pentagon calls dietary needs which i think means that he is suffering some ailments from the food he had to eat for the last five years. as to why it came about now, i think really two things did it. one, there was a proof of life video which the public hasn't seen but which was sent to the u.s. in january, and that supposedly showed him in a markedly weaker condition. and then i think the other important factor was that the u.s. finally started getting assurances from the government of qatar that if they released these five afghan taliban from the prison in guantanamo bay,
they really would be kept in qatar for at least a year and not allowed to leave the country. >> rose: do we know if there was any communication with him while he was in prison, while he was imprisoned. >> no. i do not know of any, although usually in these cases, there are ransom demands. and you know, the family gets the ransom demand, but of course the f.b.i. is sitting on the family's telephone. so that is$ all the information, we don't know but certainly they had intelligence not on where he was but on how he was doing. >> rose: there is this interesting thing to me, one is his parents are obviously expressing their great love for their son and happiness that he's coming home with great and deep and profound understanding. there's also this sense of their l knowledge that he's in bad
shape in terms of where he's been. the father used the analogy of someone that's been deep into the ocean and has to be decompressed before they can come up. >> well, i think that's true. i mean, he essentially would have been in solitary confinement for those five years. i mean he may have had prison guards around him. but in terms of fellow prisoners, we think he was just held by himself. so that must have been a very disspiritting experience but i think he is in for an even more disspiritting experience when he comes to the united states because because they're saying bowe bergdahl is not a hero, some are calling)y him a desserr and some calling him a traitor.
>> rose: soldiers lost their lives or certainly risked their lives in pursuit of him, trying to rescue him. >> yes. >> rose: go ahead. >> you know, it's hard to draw a one to one correlation there because what they're saying is that once they started searching for bergdahl, their patterns became more easily identified by the enemy and they could set ambushes and lay road side bombs. or they're making the case that so many resources such as drones were devoted to the search for bergdahl that their unit was left unprotected. i don't know that they'll ever be able to prove that a soldier died looking for bergdahl. but certainly some of these soldiers believe it and they believe it strongly. >> rose: although the qataris are going able to keep these five for a year. what happens after the year and
obviously they will be in communication with everybody within the taliban and these were important members of the taliban and certainly the network is a very powerful group. >> well, we don't know the details on the conditions under which they're going to remain in qatar. it's been described to me as a form of house arrest. they're going to, according to the taliban press release, they're going to be with their families. but i think it seems almost inevitable that they're going to end up back in afghanistan. but they're probably going to end up back in afghanistan after 2014, after the end of the u.s. combat role. >> rose: so that's some way the administration in its own thinkingfn on this may have rationalized that we'll be gone by the time they get back so we're not releasing five people that are going to come and do
great harm to us. >> i think that it was a genuine determination within the administration to wrap up all of the loose ends in this afghanistan venture and get it over. >> rose: does the controversy have legs, do you think? >> well, i do, because he's going to come back to the united states and he's going to have to tell his side of the story. he's going to have to explain why he did what he did. and i thinktpb1ñ that is going o keep this controversy alive. and these former soldiers are actually, they've, they're using a public relations firm. so this is not a haphazard matter of a few soldiers speaking up. there is now a coordinated effort. i'm not meaning to suggest that these soldiers aren't legitimate and that their concerns aren't
legitimate but it is being organized by a public relations firm. >> rose: finally, this.ná does this offer some possibility that there has been a successful negotiation, even though the taliban's calling this a coup for them so to speak or celebrating as if they got something they very desperately wanted back, that it might lead to real negotiations about what happens in pakistan and afghanistan. >> you know, the issues are so much larger when it comes to reconciliation between the u.s. and the taliban. i mean, the u.s. demand is that the taliban renounce their support for terrorism. and that is such a great ideological leap compared to letting one soldier go who may have become a problem for you
and in fact his captors may have worried about his health and if he dies on their hands then they're going to get nothing for him. >> rose: do they worry, the last point, do they worrisome how the idea of finding a soldier somehow being able to snatch a soldier and hold him hostage or imprison him might be a bargainingqthe other people of guantanamo. >> when it comes to the taliban and al-qaeda i think that's always been their top priority is to get their hands on an american soldier. so i don't think this is going to increase the risk of the taliban or al-qaeda snatching an american soldier. however, in other parts of the world where other of these al-qaeda affiliates are watching, this may give them some ideas. >> rose: david, thank you. >> yes. >> rose: david martin from the pentagon. back in a moment, stay with us.r
further analysis for the release of sergeant bergdahl is seth jones, he was held for seven months. he is now an investigative journalists for reuters. security defense policy center at the rand course i'm spleazed to have both of them here. david let me begin with you. tell me, because of the unique insight, you could tell us about where he might be inojf+mrj hea, in his and what he faces. >> i was elated when we escaped from captivity. there's this graded story of bowe breaking into tears when he realized american soldiers did have him. and he has a long journey and he's going to carry the last five years with him and there's
criticism of him and soldiers who may have died looking for him and he's going to carry that as well. i understand people's frustrations but i think we should hear from bowe what led to this, him being taken captive and hear his side of the story. >> rose: what has his parents told you over the years? >> they don't know, you[, know, what led him. it seems to come off the base and they've been desperate just to get him home safe. they're very concerned about him. >> rose: that concern is based on the understanding what five years in the hands of the taliban can do or more. >> definitely the time with the tale -- taliban. i was there for seven years. he helped me escape in the end but he and i could speak english to each other. bowe bergdahl has been completely alone for the last five years with no english speakers around him. at best he had some young taliban guards that would speak to him in the local language.
>> rose: and the stress of all this and the impact. >> what it does, in the beginning you think they're going to kill you. and then you are brought both cases captured in afghanistan and they take you to pakistan and there's a whole separate story here about how come he was held successfully for five years in pakistan without the pakistani military finding him or trying to find him. there's criticism on this deal somewhat to blame, a lot of the blame is on the pakistani military letting him be held for so long. once you get in pakistan they can hold you as long as they wanted. they have a safe haven. and it shifts from being afraid of dying to thinking is this ever going to end. they feed you. when i got ill they brought you medicine and it become very clear they're going to try to trade you, to sell you in the end. you enter this very dark sense of are you going to be forgotten, will this ever end. and also, what am i doing to my family and my loved ones. what have i done here. >> rose: and what are your conditions of life?
>> he was, i was held by the exact same group that had him. he's probably in a small mud brick house with a big wall around it. i was able to walk in t@ia÷, ya. i was probably treated better than him because i'm a journalist. and i think he spent his days sort of doinggg chores, trying o pass the days somehow. >> rose: seth what do you think me about the unit that he was with? >> well, he was with a u.s. conventional unit in eastern afghanistan but when something like this happens, obviously everybody gears up. you have u.s. intelligence officials that begin to collect information on his whereabouts using human and other technical sources. special operations forces that gear up to try to insert and conduct a hostage rescue situation. you've got the afghan government and the security services trying to identify him. and just to support david's point earlier, i remember
specifically in the initial hours after we realized that he was in captivity, trying to get him before he was taken across the border into pakistan. because as david rightly points out, once he entered pakistan territory, that's a totally different game. the idea that the u.s. could unilaterally insert special operations forces into pakistan obviously has a whole range of political sensitive questions as we saw with the bin laden raid. it was the early rush to get him before he went into pakistan was the focus of a lotwc of effort d obviously that failed because he was held for the vast majority of time in pakistan. >> rose: what did they tell you about bergdahl? >> at that point not a lot of information. some information about leaving the compound but i think what's most important frankly is to hear from bowe himself.
we haven't had his perspective. we've had reports of people who spoke to him in the days before he left and people he communicated with back home. but we haven't heard from bowe himself. and so i think in general, we're missing very important perspective. i would say before any reaches final conclusions on him, they should hear from him first. >> rose: do you believe this could lead to any kind of conversations with the taliban and maybe productive. >> well in my view, negotiations with the taliban serious peace negotiations are going to require a range of issues. and i think there are some factors working against at least in the short term successful efforts. the u.s. has already announced it's going to leave by 2016, end its combat forces. the u.s. now is, was negotiating directly or indirectly with the taliban. i think itspolitical stature. i find it highly unlikely based
on the battlefield picture and the taliban's long term perspective with the u.s. and nato forces leaving that it's going to be willing to negotiate. but again i think talking is useful. i think the prospects at this point are pretty low. >> rose: i want to talk about negotiating and paying ransom to bring somebody home. >> i was just on the phone earlier today with the daughter warren weinstein. he's a 72 year old worker that was being held captive by the taliban in pakistan. weinstein is elated for the bergdahl that their nightmare is over but the weinsteins don't know what to do at this point. what my feeling went through is there's no clear policy from the u.s. and even all western countries together about how do you deal with a kidnapping by a terrorist group and militants. israel released a thousand soldiers to get one israeli soldier back several years ago. european governments, france pay
ransoms, very large ones, this is a source of funding for al-qaeda affiliates. but british government says they will not pay ransoms and families are essentially left on their own. >> rose: do you have an opinion what's the better policy. >> something consistent. and very clear and more public. the kind of shrouded nature of all this it leads to these crazy beliefs among the taliban about what they can get. i was in captivity when the american captain was rescued from the somali, captain phillips is the focus of the movie. actually the u.s. paid $25 million ransom. there's crazy stories out there but the bottom line to be blunt this tactic is working and the west -- >> rose: working in theirg( getting compensation.
>> boko hammer. they don't pay ransoms or there's some other way to deal with this. military raids. it seems differently in different cultures. there's an expectation in france the government is going to ransom a journalist. you got yourself in this trouble you're on your own. >> rose: they're careful not negotiating with terrorists there is a prisoner of war exchange. is that a fine distinction. >> well look i don't think there's much of a distinction here. the u.s. was negotiating but who it was negotiating with was ultimately actually two different organizations that are linked. one is the taliban and the senior leadership and the network on the ground, the organization where bowe was and who held david is an organization ironically with very close ties to al-qaeda on the ground. it's based out of there and it's
interesting that pakistan's intelligence agency. so i do think there's a very important question about why with an organization so closely tied to pakistan's intelligence agency, pakistantz was unable to effectively get him released. i meanquestion that i have not n raised yet. >> rose: what do you think it might be? >> i don't know the answer right now. i think you have to ask pakistan itself. i think their argument publicly has been that they don't have relationship with the militant groups. the senior leadership is in afghanistan not in pakistan although any of us spent any time in afghanistan know quite the opposite. so to be involved in this in a sense they've got to become public about it. >> during my seven months in the hands of the network, it's held the entire time in pakistan. and i think that's where bowe was the entire time. i saw no effort by the pakistani
military to confront the hakanis. i was able to escape with the help of a colleague because we were being held half a mile from a pakistani military base. the soldiers never came off that base to investigate what the taliban were doing. and thank god this afghan soldier brought me to the base -- >> rose: back to the relationship between al-qaeda network and isi. >> isi turned a blind eye to the very least to the hakani network. we learned our lesson. the pakistanis still think they can use them as proxies and control them and it's disastrous. >> rose: you come to the conclusion you took a blind eye to the fact that osama bin laden was that far from the military base. >> at least a blind eye or they knew about it. again this is an american soldier for five years on the territory of pakistan and people let's hear from bowe bergdahl and maybe he deserves some criticism but so does pakistan. >> rose: if this guy was in
afghanistan special forces could have gotten him you would assume. >>8n i think so. the issue in afghanistan would be i mean literally special operation forces could have gotten him. the question would have been in general at what moment. because the, an analysis of it using satellite imagery, human sources on the ground would be to do an assessment of where he was being held, the terrain itself and whether it was feasible for a hostage rescue mission. the placement of the guards that were protecting him. so you just have to wait for a moment when the risks for doing it were minimal and the benefits were high. but again, once you go across into pakistan then you're breaking sovereignty. having been in afghanistan there would have been a chance, it would have been a waiting game on when the risks were low.
>> rose: there's also the question you have in a circumstance like this as to if you pay ransom and how, how do you make that happen. here who initiated this conversation between the taliban and the u.s.? >> i don't know who initiated it. i do know that there have been discussions for a long time for several years with theabout a n. and as part of settlement negotiations, there have been discussions about the release of at least the five taliban prisoners at guantanamo bay. they've been for a long time and we've seen it now as a part of the bergdahl deal. >> rose: and we haven't heard from him but they think they know where he is in pakistan they haven't heard from. >> that's a victory from omar to
show he controls the taliban. this started as a initiative that richard holbrook started. the idea was to have a prisoner exchange as a first sort of confidence building measure that could maybe lead to a peace process involving the afghan government and the taliban with the u.s. drum roll and they couldn't get anywhere. karzai said it repeatedly. he's been a huge problem and see if it changes once he's gone and it goes down to simply doing this deal. i think the separation, again, criticism that these five could be back on the battlefield but we as a country seem to have decided we are leaving afghanistan, we are pulling all of our troops out. if they are held in qatar by thv time these guys if they were to go back and join the fight there would be very few with no americans there. we are ending this war, you know. we would have, you have prisoner exchanges at the end of wars. it's an ugly situation but if we're going to leave afghanistan, do you leave bowe bergdahl there and do you continue holding these afghans
in guantanamo bay. there are 12 other ones still there that have been held for 12 years and the taliban didn't ask for them. they seem to be very low level afghan fighters. >> rose: if you could speak to bowe bergdahl right at this moment what would you say to him? what advice would you give him. >> to sort of take this very slowly. and it's, i talked with other people that have been held hostage in somalia and syria and mostly journalists and it's, and i understand the criticism of bowe. i just would say again that this is just a burden he's going to carry forever. >> rose: forever. >> there's guilt feelings. i have guilt feelings. yes. it's changed his life. he may not know soldiers died searching for him. i could just say that i know he'll always regret that this happened. whatever decision he may have made, i regret going into an
interview that got me kidnapped but i would just tell him to take this very slowly. there thereby a torrent of attention. i think he will rebuild his life. i'm a working journalist again. my wife is pregnant with our second child and he will have a life. but it's going to be a long road and he deserves, you know, to give himself time and to try -- >> rose: time to think it through. >> start a new life. and make amends to so many people. >> rose: seth back just looking to the politic of 2 afghanistan, it looks now we'll leave 9,000 troops there. we assume that the president, the new president of afghanistan will approve that. that's good news, i think, most people believe for having some impact in term of anti-terrorism and training police. >> yes, charlie, i put out a
report from the council on foreign relations at the end of last year which argued that a force of between 8 and 12,000 forces would probably be sufficient to prevent an overthrow of the karzai government. particularly if it included not just a counterterrorism component but also a train advise and assist component. and a range of enablers, helicopters, aircraft that had strike capabilities, intelligence collectors, drones, if they were needed to conduct surveillance and potentially strike. i think what the administration did with that report and we spent a lot of time talking to them, they came in right about the middle of that. so i think these numbers are probably good enough to prevent a taliban overthrow of the karzai government. the challenge, though, is that the u.s. is going to be leaving. it's going to have it roughly by 2015 and then byki 2016 go to
zero. so you can do some issues over the course of 2014 and 2015, but the focus of u.s. efforts to be clear about this, even with 9,000 it's going to leave. you've got to be working on conducting operations at the same time as you're planning to take down infrastructure, figure out what to do with your vehicles. so you've got to fight a war and then retrograde at the same time and that's never ideal in engaging in training or counterterrorism operations. >> rose: thank you seth great to have you. >> thanks charlie. >> rose: thank you dave. >> thank you. >> rose: we'll be back. stay with us. >> rose: david ignatius is here an associate editor and columnist for "the washington post." he's also covered the middle east, the c.i.a. and foreign policy for more than 25 years for various newspapers. he's also a best selling novelists, the latest book is called the director. the spy novel draws on the history of american intelligence and also on hacking and what it
portends for the future of intelligence. i'm pleased to have david ignatius back at this table. welcome. >> thank you charlie. >> rose: how do you do it is my question. how do you do it? this is number nine. >> this is my ninth novel. the simple answer is this is pleasure this is my hobby. i love writing fiction because it's relaxing. i get lost in a book when i'm writing it. >> rose: but can you tell stories here you couldn't write about because you couldn't nail it down for reporting with a pretty sure instinct you believe they are. >> you can take things you learn as a journalist and then begin to speculate about them and draw them out and imagine how they might work. as a journalist, i don't really see into the details of intelligence operations, i see the surface.ópeople tell meçt sa lot but i'm not inside of this world and in a sense that makes it easier because i can imagine
whole parts of it and describe what people might do. and breaks that the agency might plan. >> rose: how many of the characters like the director here are based in some sense on a profile of someone you know? >> every character, they're all composites. there's no character that's best as a single person. i don't think that would work. >> rose: i just said to you i love ramon and you said no where. >> with anywhere, ramon's character in this book and there are people who are like the character and you may know some of them. and but there's no, honestly charlie, if you try to describe a real person, it would be non-fiction, it would be journalism. it's the invention that makes it -- >> rose: i mean, i would assume, tell me if i'm wrong
because i haven't written nine books. i would assume as you go through your life on a plane going to foreign country, to report and interview people, you're meeting people along the way. you're hearing stories along thr computer saying this just may be part of something. >> for sure. little bits of real life just stick in your consciousness and then gets you going. i'll give you a good example. when i was researching the director, i got started back in 2012 with this idea that hacking the intersection, the collision of hacking and intelligence was really interesting. so i decided -- well, did he ever. so i decided i needed to find out about this world. so i went to the biggest hacker's convention, believe it or not. hackers have a convention every year in las vegas. >> rose: called death
something. >> called deathcon, exactly. i went there and there are 10,000 or more people dressed in black t-shirts and jeans and spiky hair. i had somebody who guided me around and introduced me to people. but as i met those people, they began to stick to my consciousness. so they come back out in fiction. >> rose: is anybody any particular person. >> no. but am i drawing on the real life that i saw? absolutely. and i think that's what makes this kind of book that purports to be kind of real life espionage fiction. >> rose: tell me who graham weber is and tell me who james marsh is, not in terms of the characters but who they are in this book. >> in this book graham weber is head of a big communications company on the west coast. he's a very iconoclastic guy. refused a national security
letter from the f.b.i. they told him to produce information and he said no i won't do it, i don't think it's constitut)ç2this. he's kind of a hero that people on the left wants to see c.i.a. reform. the president likes him and decides he wants to shake up the c.i.a. so he's installed as the director of the c.i.a. in his first week on the job into the american consulate you have been hacked. it gives the base chief a lift of all the officers from the agency in germany in switzerland. >> rose: the worst fear you could deliver. >> the worst thing that could happen to the agency seems to be happening to this director in his first week.
he has no idea what to do. he has met james morris who began by reading james morris accompanying director to this hacker's convention where he acts as his guide and kind of, and so he turns to him smart young kid and says help me. i'm going to send you to hamberg to unravel this mystery of being hacker. you're' a hacker. his nickname in the operations division at the c.i.a. is plumbser which in hacker means we own you. he tries to own this problem for the director. we want to discover in the book james morris turns out to be a very complicated person. he has multiple agendas going none of which are clear to the director. and he gets the director into the kind of nightmarish problem that american agencies, the nsa
have been experiencing over the last couple years. i like to say this as a post snowden novel in the sense that my characters are fictional but they live in a world after edward snowden has revealed these secrets. really this book is part about the tools nsa developed and turned back against the c.i.a. and the c.i.a. being under threat from the same kinds of aggressive operations that are conducted against others. >> rose: what are you saying about the c.i.a. in this book. >> i'm saying that the c.i.a. is inhibited by ghosts. that's something that the president says to graham weber when he selects him as$4 direct. and everything weber encounters as he arrives at the agency one thing he decides to remove the statute of wild bill donovan the
founder of the statute in the lobby. he's got his fingers in his belt. he ran to assess and weber's first act is to get that statute out of the lobby. it's a big discolored spot and the employees all look, what's happened. where is wild bill donovan. this is his way of saying we have to shake this place up. these ghosts that inhabit the agency is tied to a past that isn't ours has to end. >> rose: does this reflect your views on the c.i.a. >> i think it does. if you look at the arc of those books you see an agency went from its great days my first novels set in 1970 when it begins when everybody wanted to be a c.i.a. agent. you were nobody in beirut if the
c.i.a. doesn't want you to be somebody on america's payroll. today and so many places around the world the united states is hated, is rejected. and the agency suffers from that. i think the agency has gotten too big. it's too bureaucratic. the combination of bureaucracy and secrecy at the cia has produced -- >> rose: a concept. >> a special disaster. so i would like to see a smaller c.i.a. i would like to see it focus more on the secrets that really matter. i like to see it get out of the covert action paramilitary side of the business.;e what i really liked about president obama's speech at west point, he was suggesting that in these future counterterrorism training missions we're going to do in syria, iraq and elsewhere, the training should be done by military people, by special operations forces. >> rose: the mission that got osama bin laden was conceived by the c.i.a. but run by special
operations. >> yes. so it was a title 50 mission which meant the c.i.a. ran. it was deniable, it was a covert action. under title 10 which is under our uniform military operates, you can't do these deniable covert things. militaries have to go in uniform, they have to declare their presence, etcetera. special operations officers from delta force or seals can be cut to, detached tovtcthey then aree c.i.a. and as they say in the jargon they're operating under title 50 authorities. so that's the training program that we are doing now of syrian opposition forces. it's a c.i.a.yú0.s program. it's run by c.i.a. paramilitary officers. some of them are yes, some of them are army and probably cs special forces.kthe idea --
>> rose: carrying out in jordan. >> it's in jordan. they don't go into syria. the idea that president obama is playing with, i think it's a good one is let's make this more overt. you have a client with a covert action written in the newspapers every other day is ridiculous. let's do it with the military. make a title 10 program. i think obama's got the support of the chairman of the joint chiefs, general marty dempsey which is a big change because he was against this sort of thing before. >> rose: now here's what's interesting. when david petraeus became c.i.a. director people assumed it will be more of a paramilitary role for the c.i.a. i'm asking you. when john brennan became the c it a director he basically said i don't think we ought to be doing that. i want us to go back to our core mission of finding secrets. am i right about that. >> i think the basic parameters
of that are right. never went as far in the paramilitary direction as people expected that he might. and brennan has understood that the c.i.a.'s counterterrorism mission which is what runs the drone program and other efforts -- >> rose: which is the army, isn't it. the drone mission is run by? >> well, in pakistan where we have not conducted the drone attacks i believe is still run by the c.i.a. in yemen which is the other major theatre where droanlz are used the idea was were to turn it over to the military but the operations didn't go over well. there were casualties and it's my understanding this is something we never really know but it's my understanding it was handed back at least temporarily to the agency. snowden. you know this world. what did you think of his
interview with bryan williams. >> i thought it was fascinating because it was almost like he was opening up negotiations with the u.s. government. >> rose: i want to go home. >> i want to go home, i'm a patriot. he was saying i'm willing, if i understood him, i'm winning to plead to reduce charges. i might be willing to serve a short prison sentence. i would have to read it. that's what i took away from it. i thought the second thing that was fascinating was he wanted people to understand that he had been a significant intelligence officer. he hadn't just been a low level technician. no. i was trained as a c.i.a. undercover officer. i heard susan say that was false and another important statement he made in that interview which
was that he had tried to blow the whistle through channels at the nsa, had written to the general counsel and others at the nsa. this afternoon the nsa released what they said was the text of the letter that$, he had sent which is different from what he had described. it's a much more technical and limited. it's not kind of whistle blowing angry, this is unconstitutional and outrageous and i as an american citizen protest it. >> rose: he believes it hadn't done any damage and certainly nobody is hurt. i had susan rice and john kerry and half a dozen other people say, the c.i.a. directors say that's just simply not true. what do you say. >> what i say first is that it's hard for me to see edward snowden as a hero. he signed an agreement. he had some of the government's most precious secrets. he signed agreements to protect them.
and he disclosed them. it's very difficult today to know what the benefits and what the costs what he did are. some benefits are clear. there has been a debate about surveillance that's led to new legislation which i think is going to get passed by both houses and signed by the president that will allow us to experience with much less intrusive kind of surveillance. where the phone companies hold our metadata for a year or two years instead of nsa for five years. it's hard to query it through specific court orders. and that's good. it's worth trying that. and i think we ought to look for several years and see. it's possible contrary what the nsa is saying and protect privacy more. i say let's go further and have additional reforms. so i think that experiment see how we can do things in a way
that was more respectful of privacy. that's obviously a goodç6othe dd about, others havemñ talked abo, the systems that cost billions of dollars to create that have been compromised, there's just no way for me as a journalist outside this to know. i've heard the assertions over and over again. certainly i know from traveling in terms of public opinions about america overseas it's been very damaging. the first thing people want to talk to when i meet with theme. and they are angry. we had it coming we shouldn't have been doing these things in the first place. listening to the german chancellor's phone calls, that's true. but this snowden period has really been a difficult one for the government. and you just have to hope that for the country for us as citizens, the benefits are going to end up being greater than the costs.
>> rose: speaking of u.s. foreign policy and president obama, you said, quote, this was about a month ago, u.s. foreign policy has suffered real reputational damage. damage unfortunately has been self inflicted by an administration that focuses too much on short term messaging the key turning point in egypt and arab spring and yes benghazi. administration was driven bydú messaging priorities rather than sound interest-base policy. >> well, i'm glad you quoted that because it's a tough statement but it's one that i really do believe. we have suffered reputational damage. everywhere i go, i'll bet you say the same thing, i hear people say your government is in retreat. united states is a weaker power than it was. we need more leadership than we're getting from president obama. and you know, that hurts us. it's damaging for the united
states to be seen asgsd vacillag when the economists runs a cover can, what would america fight for. >> rose: i did a whole show on that. >> that's reputation damage right there. the cost of the lost credibility is significant. i think when president obama gives a speech like the one he gave at west point which i think was generally a good speech. >> rose: did it answer the critics do you think. >> not totally but it began to. when susan rice comes on your show and tries to speak carefully and seriously about foreign policy that helps. i would say that the outcome in ukraine as of this hour shows that president obama generally made good decisions. realizing he didn't have military options, he chose other options and inkf the end vladimr putin the russian president realized he didn't want to invade ukraine and we had selections last sunday and they seem to have gone pretty well. but this whitehouse is too focused on message. and it is too reactive in short
term. that's why the president's -- >> rose: messaging meaning, what do you mean by messaging? >> i mean messaging in a sense that a campaign professionals use that term during a political campaign. that you're messaging with them the 24 hour cycle. you want to make sure your message gets out. >> rose: you take that to benghazi and all the controversy of susan rice and what she said and what memo might have been written. >> i think susan rice gets unfairly criticized in this whole. she basically just took the talking points that have been prepared by the c.i.a. with an awful lot of input from the entire executive branch. and went on tv and read them. what bothered me about this whole exercise was it was incredible fastidious attention
to every word in those talking points when the larger issue of libya falling apart, the death of our brave ambassador, chris stevens and three other people there, the question of how this security vacuum in libyas was going to be filled. the question of what policies the united states was going to develop to deal with a morphing al-qaeda. frankly charlie at that time heading toward the election, the republicans are right saying the administration wanted everybody to think al-qaeda was finished. it was over, you know. and we now understand in 2014 the president put at the center of thinks speech at west point. the[b reality that al-qaeda is still with us, it's a different kind of, if it's morphed into something else and that's the very issue the administration was trying so hard to deny after benghazi. and so i think a lot of this republican campaign is just silly. it's wasting the country's time.
the basic issue of the administration thinking more about the message it wanted to convey than the policies that would really address the underlying problem, i think that is a fair criticism. >> rose: when you look at the president's policy with respect to china, do you think the chinese, what's the relationship? >> the first thing i'd say is that my impression is that the strongest leader in the world today is chinese president xi jinping. i think the obama operation is trying to deal with the reality of china and try to alliance with japan and having an open productive relationship with china. i thought on the president's trip to asia he got that balance of that right. he stood by the japanese on the question of the disputed islands. but he also made clear thatãthe
united states wanted and negotiated resolution of this problem generally in the south china sea and east china sea, wanted to see a rule's based outcome rather than more chinese bejligerence. >> rose: what is the first thing you look for. a central idea that will drive the book? >> i look, i try to think what the cia is going to be dealing with a couple years down the road, a book i call the increment which was about the iranian nuclear program. i got to thinking, what is it that the united states will be trying to do to, you know,
disrupt this iranian nuclear program along the way. i got to thinking about supply chains and how you getzp inside those and penetrate those and i began to think about computers the chinese were using and etcetera. >> rose: looking at the possibility of your next book -- >> might have a little bit of chinese. i had a foreign minister ask me after the iranian book came out, he said you know, he was thinking of the virus which is where the real life thing was. he said david, how is it you were cleared for something that i was not. i was very flattered by that. obviously not true. the fun of being a novelist, the fun of having a job that i do you get to speculate. you think about where will things be two years from nown%÷ what will be the thing that you,
charlie, will be doing programs about. and how can i tryfiction that wn with that fact, with that real world in a way that teases out unless you have some fun with it think about it and reflect on it. >> rose: the book is called the director by david ignatius. this is the night you are working on the tenth and will be based in china. >> thank you> rose: thank you, david. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
this is "nightly business report." fuelling the firestorm the white house unveils an ambitious plan to slash power plant solutions. the controversial new regulations could have a big impact on companies and consumers. in the spotlight, apple unveils new features for its 60 product, iphones, ipads and macs, but were investors proud neighborhood, showing promise, investigating the new cancer treatments and the companies getting to work them to market. we have all that and more tonight on "nightly business report" for monday, june 2nd. >> good evening, welcome. not everyone believes in global warming or climate change, if it exists, is largely caused by