tv Charlie Rose PBS February 18, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, mike morell, former deputy director of the c.i.a. talks about isis and iran. join us. >> there is a desire on the part of the iranians to be the hegemonic power in the middle east. there is a desire on the part of the iranians to recreate the persian empire which at one point in its history ruled 44% of the world's population. that's what they want to reestablish. and standing in their way is-- is-- is saudi arabia and the moderate sunni states. you know, i believe that it's in our interest to back saudi arabia and the moderate sunni states in this struggle between them and iran. >> rose: mike morell for the hour next.
>> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by: >> rose: additional funding provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: mike morell is here. he was deputy director of the c.i.a. from 2010-2013. he also served twice as acting director during that time. there is also this-- egypt launched air strikes against islamic state targets in libya yesterday. the attack was in retaliation for the beheading of 21 crist
egyptian hostages. the killing raised concern that the isis is expanding its global footprint beyond its bases in iraq and syria. in geneva iran's six international powers have entered a decisive phase in nuclear noarngz the world powers want iran to curtail its nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions. iran's supreme ruler announced last week no deal is better than a bad deal. american politicians have said the same thing. i'm pleased to have mike morell back at this table. welcome. >> good to be here. >> rose: someone said to me there's a sense that somebody's got to come together, that the isis and the extent of their footprint is much more troubling than anybody ever imagined. tell me how you see isis today based on what we just saw in libya paris, copenhagen iraq
and syria. what is the challenge here? and what kind of response is demanded? and what's the time context? >> so let's charlie, first start in iraq itself. we've been-- we've been at this now-- "we" being the united states and the coalition-- we've been at this now for six months, six months of air strikes. so in iraq, what we've done in those six months is basically stopped their expansion, stopped their blitzkrieg. we've put an end to that. we the coalition, have put an end to that, and the iranians have put an end to that. the iranians have built very effective shi'a militia that are taking on isis on the ground while we do a lot from the air. but we've stopped the expansion of them in iraq. >> rose: on the iran element
just for a moment. these were militias already in place, shi'a militias that had been engaged in iraq before-- >> many of them but not all of them. some of them are new. >> rose: so they're new. >> some of them are new, not all of them. >> and how is iran contributing to their effort? >> they are funding training, equipping, providing strategic guidance and tactical guidance on the ground as well. so we've basically stopped the isis expansion in iraq, but within the area that they control-- so within the sunni areas of iraq and within the sunni areas of syria, isis has consolidated its position over the last six months. what does that mean "consolidated?" it means six months ago they did not control all of that territory. now they pretty much do. so there were some tens of thousands that they didn't control. they've taken those over. so while we've stopped the expansion, they've consolidated their position. that's one thing that's happened in the last six months. the other thing that's happened
in the last six months is we've seen their ideology spread in two different directions. one are to young people in western europe, in canada in australia and in the united states, people who have become radicalized. and we've seen what they've done in paris, in sydney in denmark here in new york with a hatchet attack on two new york police department officers. so we've seen that spread of their ideology. the other spread of their ideology which really has only become clear in the last month or so is the spread of their ideology to other extremist groups in algeria, in libya, in egypt, increasingly in afghanistan. >> rose: yemen? >> and in yemen. and these-- these aren't groups that didn't exist and all of a sudden have popped up and called themselves isis. these are extremist groups that
existed, didn't associate themselves with anybody and now all of a sudden are saying hey, we're part of this isis movement. >> rose: and swearing allegiance to isis and al baghdadi. >> exactly. why does that matter? i think it makes them more dangerous because before when they were not associated with anybody, they were-- they were primarily going after local targets. they had local grievance, local targets. now, as part of isis they're expanding their target set. so what we saw in tripoli last month was we saw a group that now alines with isis attack a western-oriented hotel, a hotel where western businessmen stay and a hotel where diplomats stay. we saw an attack on the group associated with isis, and we saw a hand full of people including an american, including an american. and this-- look what we just saw in the eastern part of libya with the beheading of these
christians from egypt. so that wouldn't have happened right, if they had not been part of isis. so that's a consequence of them taking on that name. this spread, right this spread of this ideology to self-radicalized youth and to these terrorist groups is faster than anything we saw with al qaeda, with al qaeda core in pakistan. >> rose: and the threat is that it will continue to spread. that it is like a rolling stone gathering momentum? >> uh-huh. and why is it spreading, right ?ing the answer to that, charlie, is two-fold. one is, isis is seen as successful. isis is seen as successful and nothing breeds followers in the terrorism business like success. and i think the other is the quality, as we've talked about before, the quality of their social media. >> rose: and they've got social media. they also have money and they have weapons because of those that they've captured from the iraqi army. >> correct. >> rose: this is the "new york times" today this morning under the headline, "u.s. intensifies
effort to blunt isis message." so that's one small thing. >> that's very small. >> rose: very small. >> and i say two things about it. it's very small. >> rose: right. >> the state department office has never received the funding that it needs to take this on. and even with this-- even with this plus-up, it's still not going to. but the other thing is that in this propaganda war, we can't be at the center of it. because we don't have any credibility in that part of the world. a big parent of the messaging here has to be about islam itself, and what the religion is about and what it's not about. we have no credibility in
talking about that. >> rose: but hasn't the cece from egypt and alduala begun to talk about this? >> yes, and that's very very important. but ultimately the leaders of those countries have to take it on. the clerics in those countries have to take it on. >> rose: in the mosque. >> in the mosque. the leading clerics have to take it on but most important those clerics in the mosques on fridays giving sermons have to take it on. >> rose: the other thing that came out and there was a piece on "60 minutes" you may have seen and it also is true i think about what they've discovered in copenhagen, is these people who have become adherents to isis got their indoctrinate rinnation in prison because they were simply criminals. >> right. >> rose: they were thieves. >> right. >> rose: and they went to prison. >> right. >> rose: and they became indoctrinated inside of prison. >> yes. >> rose: and then they go out and do acts that are political, not just criminal. >> uh-huh.
so prison is a place around the world, including the united states where people get radicalized. it happens fair couple of reasons. one is you join a group in prison to protect yourself from other prisoners. and so you tend to join groups that of like-minded people, so if you're a young person, you gravitate towards those who are like you. so if you're a muslim, you gravitate to other muslims, and you can be radicalized. the other is for a the love people in prison, they feel alienated from their society. they wouldn't be in there in the first place. and what-- what isis and other terrorist groups give you is a purpose, a purpose to your life. and that's one of the things-- that's probably the major thing that attracts people to terrorist groups is a purpose. >> rose: okay let's shift back-- that clearly has to be part of it. this argument some people-- and the president has been there and he's gotten in the middle of
this a little bit-- is that these are not-- they're not islamic. yes, they say they are, but islam says no they're not. there's nothing about islam that they are acting on. others will say no, that's not true. there is an extreme part of islam going back to saudi arabia arabia that they do find things that inform them about what they want to do and give them an identity. where are you on that? >> there is no doubt, there is no doubt that religion plays a role here and an important role. they believe, they believe that what they're doing is defending their religion. they believe they are interpreting their religion correctly. you know, most muslims would
disagree with them. >> rose: right. >> you and i would disagree with them. most clerics would disagree with them-- not all-- but they believe, they believe deeply in what they're doing. they believe they are religious. they believe they are defending their religion from us. >> rose: and that's what they've been taught. >> yes. >> rose: an interpretation of islam. >> one and of the ways -- >> by the people in prison or the people in the mosques. >> yes, charlie one of the ways young people get radicalized is they have not been good students of their religion. so they don't understand their religion anywhere near as well as they should and so they become vulnerable to the messages from these radical preachers, and these radicals about what their religion really stands for. what's cull tullely called for is more religious training in a lot of parts of the world so people really understand what islam is all about and what it's not. >> rose: so there has to be an internal engagement within islam. >> yes. >> rose: about what it is that
these people are hanging on to. >> yes. >> rose: that gives them the motivation to go out and do the kind of acts that everybody else says is an obscene act against the koran. >> yes. >> rose: so they're on the move. while they may have been stopped but not turned around. >> they're on the move in a different way now ncht gl and they're consolidating. what's necessary on the ground in a strategic military way? >> so ultimately ultimately, you have to take their territory away. because if you don't take their territory away, they will-- they will continue to have safe haven, which is extremely valuable to a terrorist group. and what they will ultimately use to attack us-- they've said that. they have said that-- and so you have to take-- and as long as they have territory charlie, they're going to continue to get money. they produce and sell oil. they're going to -- >> in iraq. >> they're going to continue to
get money. they're going to continue to get recruits. they're going to continue to get weapons. taking that it territory away from them is vitally important. >> rose: and so how do you do that? >> ultimately there's only one way to do that. ultimately you have to do it on the ground. you have to take it away from them with ground troops. our plan our plan in iraq is hold them back with air strikes, retrain the iraqi army, you know which has dwindled to 50,000 guys. needs to be rebuilt needs to be retrained, because maliki, the former prime minister of iraq, you know by putting political people in charge of it by disenfranchising sunnis, really destroyed the army. so you're talking about rebuilding it again. that is a long-term process. meanwhile, these shi'a militia that i was talking about built trained by, supplied, equipped by the iranians, 100,000 strong now. so somebody's got to take this
territory back from them in iraq. you know i'd put more money right now on the shi'a militia doing it than the iraqi army eventually doing it. one of the possibilities here is that we defeat isis in iraq but we lose iraq to iran, essentially, because -- >> is that a price worth paying? or a risk worth taking? >> i don't know. we should talk about that when we talk about iran in a second. >> rose: all right. >> but not only do you have to take the territory from them in iraq. you have to take the territory from them in syria. because if you don't do that if you only take the territory from them in iraq, what happens is is they go back across that border they go back across that border into syria, and they have safe haven there. so you have to-- you have to have a strategy in iraq, which we do have a strategy, but you also have to have a strategy in syria, and that's where i think-- that's what i've thought all along is the weak link. >> rose: so hodo you create a
strategy in syria? >> the strategy in syria is to train 5,000 moderate sunni oppositionists a year to go in there and take on isis. that number is nowhere near large enough. whatever sunni oppositionist you train are going to go if there and face isis, which is a government-- the government estimates is anywhere between 20000 and 30,000 guys and assad's army. that-- those sunni oppositionists are going to be taking on both isis and the assad army. so 5,000 a month-- or a year is nowhere near enough. >> rose: some people have said you've got to prioritize and not take on the syrian army and what you have to do is first take back whatever isis controls in syria and cut off syria as a place for isis to come to. >> right.
right. so now we come back to the iran problem again. and really there's kind of three overlapping fundamental issues i think in the middle east right now. one is this struggle that we and the moderate sunni state have with islamic extremism. that's been playing out, you know, five or six years before 9/11. that's at play. the other thing that's at play is the whole arab spring. the the arab spring has an-- and what the arab spring is at the end of the day is an educated population saying to their governments "we don't think-- we don't think that we're going to have a better life and we don't think our kids are going to have a better life under the direction that you're taking this country, and we want to go in a different direction and we want you to go."
that's played out in egypt, it's played out in tunisia it's played out in syria and it's played-- it will continue to play out in different areas. it is relevant to the terrorism problem because the arab spring has created failed states, created a failed state for a while in egypt, until sisi took matters into his own hands. it's create add i failed state in libya. look at what it's doing right now in yemen. we're at the risk of a failed state in yemen. and it's created a failed state in the eastern part of syria. assad basically still controls the west, but the east nobody controls. isis controls it. so the arab spring has created this spaild space which is being filled by a void vacuum -- >> and that's why they go in, in the first place. >> why they go in, in the first place. and then you've got a third problem which gets to your assad
question which is there is a cold war going on in the middle east between the moderate sunni states-- saudi arabia and its gulf allies on the one hand -- >> jordan and the emraits. >> jordan and the emraits, and iran on the other. and it is a cold war. tais struggle. it is a fight over the future of the middle east. and the iranians -- >> on the one hand you have sunnis, on the other hand you have shi'a. it's iran shi'a, it's hezbollah shi'a, it's iraq shi'a. >> yes and it's yemen shi'a. >> rose: and yemen shi'a. >> and yemen shi'a. >> rose: and even bahrain is shi'a, right? >> yes, it is yes. it is a sunni-shi'a thing, but more than that it's a persian-arab thing. there is a desire on the part of the iranians to be the hegemonic power in the middle east. there is a desire on the part of the iranians to recreate the
persian empire which at one point in its history ruled 44% of the world's population. that's what they want to reestablish. and standing in their way is saudi arabia and the moderate sunni states. i believe that it's in our interest to back saudi arabia and the moderate sunni states in this struggle between them and iran. >> rose: why do you believe that? >> because we have-- charlie most people had they read the paper, watch tv, think that our only problem with iran is the nuclear program. we have many, many problems with iran. one is this desire to be the most influential power in the region. >> rose: why isn't that a natural quality for them? i mean should we blame them for
doing something-- the egyptians-- because the army was once the most powerful party in the region. saudi arabia because of the oil was a very powerful party in the region. the iranians say well,un, we have a right to be a powerful factor here in this expreegz to want to exercise our power. that doesn't mean that we have to like it, and maybe we have to take sides but that's a legitimate aspiration on the part-- >> it's a legitimate aspiration but it's legitimate policy on our point of view to oppose it. >> rose: right. >> because we don't think that they follow policies that are in our interests. and this is a part of the world that despite-- this is a part of the world charlie, that despite the energy revolution here in the united states and all the oil and natural gas we're now producing here that still remains vitally important to us. >> rose: before i come to-- deep dive on iran-- i want to come on this point with respect to assad. because syria is so critical and
we don't have a strategy. >> right. >> rose: what do we need to do? do we, for example-- some say it's an unspoken thing happening now anyway between assad and what he's doing and what we would like to do. there's no agreement. they're not communicating. >> right. >> rose: but assad said in a recent interview on the bbc, i get information. >> so i don't know about that, but here's what i do know, right, that i think the way to think about the strategy is-- but i'm going to tell you in a minute why it's going to be hard to implement-- i think the strategy is yes, defeat isis first and then take care of assad. >> rose: that's prioritizing. >> that's prioritizing. the problem is these moderate sunni oppositionists that we're going to train and send into syria with weapons, they're not going to share our priority. their priority is get rid of assad. >> rose: even though isis is against them. >> uh-huh. >> rose: even though they're-- even though it is said that isis
wants to eliminate them more than it wants to eliminate assad. so then it will be just then versus assad and not anybody else versus assad. >> uh-huh. and i worry without assad you lose all of syria. so that's all of syria looks like libya rather than just the eastern part of it. >> rose: it becomes a whole group of militias running rampant. >> right. but here's the key to the assad piece. if-- to any extent that assad wins, iran wins. so syria was the perfect state from the iranian perspective. because syria did whatever-- essentially, whatever iran wanted it to do. >> rose: and they gave them an access to lebanon and hezbollah. >> exactly. that's how they got weapons to hezbollah. and hezbollah couldn't exist without the support that it gets from iran.
so syriaune syria's important for a lot of reasons to the iranians, so to the extent that assad wins iran wins and that's why this is so hard. >> rose: before i go to iran you do have a sense that somebody's got to do something now. that this thing is metastasizing, is growing becoming more violent and they're consoldaight and, yes, they've been stopped and, yes, at should point there's going to be the launch of a campaign to get back mosul, sooner rather than later, you would assume. and then there's the peshmerga, who say they're not getting any weapons or anything from americans, give them the weapons and they'll fight and go to mosul themselvess. but we're not sending them anything, soy they say. i can't understand why we wouldn't support the peshmerga other we're worried about turkey. >> i know exactly what they're saying and i don't know but clearly we're not doing enough from their perspective. >> i think we have to accelerate
i think we have to accelerate what we're doing on the ground, and it doesn't necessarily need to be us, right, but we have to give the peshmerga what they need -- >> in fact tshouldn't be us. >> and it probably shouldn't. >> rose: except for air and weapons. >> it probably shouldn't. >> rose: well -- except for air and weapons. >> right. and let me tell you a reason -- >> and advisers. >> and i'll give credit to a former boss of mine. dave petraeus was a very smart guy when it comes to this kind of stuff-- when it comes to a lot of stuff. one of the point he made to me when we were talking about this recently is you've got to be careful putting a u.s. soldier with a group of iraqis. why? because you put a u.s. special forces guy with an iraqi unit and that is that u.s. special forces guy all of a sudden becomes michael jordan. they bottom become superman and the iraqis step back and watch. they have to do the job
themselves at the end of the day. they have to learn to do this themselves. that's a very powerful argument. >> rose: but we have to have somebody over there directing the flights and doing that kind of stuff. >> that's different. that's a strategic level as opposed to a tactical level. but i think we have to find countries willing to put people on the ground, whether the jordanianss, the amaradis i think it's time to put measure pressure on isis so we start pushing them back. and i think it's time to upscale the number of syrian oppositionists we're training, and i think we need to speed the rebuilding of the iraqi army. >> rose: you think that's the president's policy? >> i hope they're talking about it. i don't know. >> rose: you hope they're talking about it. >> i'm not in the room. >> rose: the house is on fire so to speak, if you accept that analogy. >> yes. >> rose: what are the arab countries, the sunni arab countries prepared to do, the saudis,ed the jordanians, the
emrats prepared to do. we're know they're sending air strikes. the jordanians have sent air strikes. the egyptians have sent airstrikesstrikes to libya, and the saudis-- >> a couple of interesting points. look way back to when the shi'a uprising took place in bahrain. the saudis and emrawdies sent in troops and they saved -- >> the family in bahrain. >> they did. >> rose: but they're sunni, right? >> yes, just over the weekend the g.c.c., gulf cooperation council, put out a public station saying if the u.n. doesn't do anything about yemen we'll we will take matters into our own hands. >> rose: sisi is talking about coming to the u.n. >> and that says to me g.c.c. ground troops in yemen. this is another place where the fight is being played out between iran on the one hand and the gulf arab states on the other. so i think they're prepared to
put in troops into yemen to fight that fight. i think they should also be prepared to put troops into iraq to fight that fight as well. >> rose: and do you think they will? >> i think it should be -- >> are they closer to it than ever before? >> yes and i think we should be encouraging them. >> rose: to do that? >> uh-huh. >> rose: they're on the front line of that. >> they're on the front lines. >> rose: where isis is going. >> they understand that better than anybody. >> rose: all right, so back to iran. iran today has great influence in iraq has great influence in syria, has great influence in lebanon because of hezbollah. that's three-- >> and yemen. >> rose: and yemen. four huge influence the most powerful influence. >> yes. >> rose: in those countries from an outside source. >> yes yes, yes. and it's part of the struggle that's going on absolutely. so let me just go back through the things that bother us about what the iranians are doing.
so their desire to be the most powerful country in the middle east not in our interest. it is iranian policy, it is iranian policy for israel to no longer be on the face of the earth. it is iranian policy. the supreme leader who is the most powerful person in iran calls the shots on national security. the president does not have influence on national security. all national security decisions are made by the supreme leader. the supreme leader has called israel a cancer that needs to be cut out. four days before the interim nuclear agreement was first signed in the fall of 2013, the supreme leader called the zionists animals and called for israel's annihilation.
just last fall just last fall, the supreme leader put out a nine-point plan that would result in israel being removed from the map. now, to be fair to him it's not by force. it would be by a vote. but his nine-point plan is stacked in a way that that outcome would be guaranteed. and he says in the meantime, before we ever get to that vote we need to continue to provide weapons to israel's opponents. and so the iranians want to destroy our most important ally in the middle east. that's two. three, the iranians are a state sponsor of terrorism in two ways. first of all they practice terrorism as a tool of state craft. essentially, one of the only countries left in the world that does that. what do you mean by that,
michael? >> rose: i didn't think i'd have to ask the question. i thought you'd tell me. >> the iranian revolutionary guard force which is independent of the iranian military has a group called the kudz force who hangs out in damascus, baghdad and iran, shuttling between them. >> rose: and reports only to the ayatollah. >> correct. the doesn't even report to the head of the i.r.g.c. the kudtz force conducts terrorism around the world. i'll give you an example pps it was the kudtz, who was planning to assassinate the saudi ambassador to the united states in a georgetown restaurant, cafe milano. they were planning to assassinate him. planning an attack on the saudi embassy, and planning an attack on the israeli embassy and that
was a kudtz force operation. >> rose: no doubt about it. >> no doubt about it. >> rose: you've seen the evidence. >> and no doubt it went to the highest levels of of the iranian government. it is not some rogue operation in the kudtz force. that's one type of state-sponsored terrorism. the other type of state-sponsored terrorism is support to internationalliy recognized terrorist groups. palestinian groups attacking israel. hezbollah, like i said earlier, hezbollah could not exist without the support it receives from iran. >> rose: hamas. >> hamas historically but a little less so now. >> rose: because? >> because they don't like what the iranians are doing in supporting assad so a bit of a rift between iranians and hamas. before 9/11 hezbollah had killed more americans than any other terrorist group on the planet before 9/11. most people don't know that. they did the embassy bombing in beirut, among other things.
hezbollah, hezbollah, the stated purpose of hezbollah's existence is to destroy israel. and the iranians-- the iranians provide it with money and weapons. hezbollah conducts terrorist attacks around the world against israel. you may remember one from a couple of years ago in bulgaria, where hezbollah attacked a group of israeli tourists, mostly young people and killed a handful of them and injured 30-some. hezbollah conducts those attacks that would not be possible without the iranians. next you've got iranian support to the shi'a militia groups. you know in some-- you know, in some ways, that's helpful to us today in iraq because they're fighting isis. but those same shi'a groups
those same shi'a groups killed american soldiers in iraq by the dozens and dozens and dozens. then you've got iranian support to regional insurgent groups. so you've got iranian support to the houthis in yemen and you just saw the result of that. they swept south and took over the cap dal tal. >> rose: took over the government. >> took over the government. and you have iranian support to the shi'a opposition in bahrain that we talked about. you have awns opposition to the eastern providence in saudi arabia. all of that report is designed to overthrow those rejeems and put in rejeems like you have in syria who are close to iran. >> rose: okay, this question-- someone said you have two choices in circumstances like this. you have to either change the regime or change the behavior. so what should be our policy? >> so the supreme leader
believes-- the supreme leader believes that is already the policy of the united states to get rid of him and the clerical regime that sits atop the iranian government. >> rose: is he right? >> no, he's not. there is not a policy. there is not a policy. he's wrong about that. just like putin was wrong that the c.i.a. was responsible for what happened in the streets of kiev. >> rose: right. >> it's nonsense but he believes it. >> rose: he really does believe it. i've talked to my russian friends that's he's convinced of it the c.i.a. did it. >> and the supreme leader thinks the same thing about skyand his regime. >> rose: those boys think the c.i.a. is all powerful. >> here's the interesting thing about iran and while some people believe that there is a hope, i think you and i have actually talked about this privately before-- is in those arab tbufl states-- gulf states that are friends of ours-- saudi
arabia, the emirates egypt-- the leaders of those countries love us. the populations there don't. in fact, the polling shows just the opposite. they don't like us at all. in iran -- >> and why is that before we go to iran? why is it the population-- they think that we have propped up regimes that have no popular will and so, therefore it, except for us, those regimes would not be in power? >> i think there's a couple of reasons. i think they blame us for many of their problems. they blame us for our support of israel. and they do see us as-- as propping up regimes -- >> the people of saudi arabia, for example. >> yes that they're unhappy with. some, certainly not all. >> rose: then guto iran where the ayatollah and the clerics -- >> despises the united states. sees the united states as the devil but the people of iran love us, culturally love us--
music clothes -- >> western films. >> western films western books. it's really interesting. 45% of the population in iran is 25 and younger. and that's where most of these feelings are about-- positive feelings are about glus and you see it erupt as it did when there was a contested election. that's when it came up and then it sort of got slapped down and put in jail and put under house arrest. >> there are some people that see hope here over the long term. there are some people that believe that a nuclear deal would allow the beginnings of a conversation with the iranians that would lead to less distrust on both side and to better relations ultimately. i'm skeptical of that for two reasons. one is you're talking about a very very long time, i think. because this current leadership is entrenched. you know, the demographics are
such that that generation in iran that fought in the iran-iraq war, when they believed we were on the side of saddam hussein. >> rose: we were! >> we were, we were. they got that one right. you know, that generation despises us. that generation is going to be in power for quite some time. thatthey are going to be around for a long time. this change if it comes will be very, very slow. then it the other is even in our own society, people get more conservative as they age. it just happens. so these people who like us today and see us as one thing today, may well grow out of that as they move on in their life and get jobs that require them to have a different view. i mean it happens to all of us. and so i'm worried about how
long it will take to get there, and what could happen in the meantime. so you -- >> but let me interrupt before you say that. suppose-- so what was ayatollah hominy's letter to the president about? if we can do these nuclear deals maybe we can cooperate in iraq with respect to putting down isis? that is what it supposedly was-- >> i didn't think it. >> rose: i didn't either. but what do people think it was about. what's the conventional wisdom among intelligence types gidon't know. >> rose: not people in the c.i.a. now. i want to be clear what i'm saying. >> the supreme leader's view-- most likely about the nuclear talks-- the supreme leader's view has been all along that if we cut a deal there's got to be sanctions relief immediately, full sanctions relief immediately. and we're for kind of staged sanctions relief. i think that's what it was probably about. i think it was probably just
pushing his view about the way this should -- >> but obama has written him in the past, too. >> uh-huh. >> rose: same idea, let's figure out how to do this. now speaking to the president, i mean he clearly has said, even ben rhodes had said fhe can do the nuclear deal with iran it will be the crowning achievement of barack obama's foreign policy in this second term. >> if we can do a nuclear deal that is a good nuclear deal. >> rose: well, that depends on how you define that too, doesn't it. how many centrifuges you leave operational. >> i have a very specific definition about what i think is a good deal and a bad deal. >> rose: which is? >> so now we come to the nuclear agreement-- or the the nuclear problem which sits atop this whole thing, right. the iranians have the technical capability to build a weapon. iranians have the technical
capability to build a weapon. if they want to build one, they can build one. >> rose: they have the know-how and the means. >> they have the know-how and the means. that's what they've developed over the past number of years. so whether they do or not will depend totally on whether they want to or not. i believe the supreme leader wants a weapon. and i believe that his plan is to eventually get a weapon. so what matters in this it nuclear deal and what doesn't? so i think-- this is mike morell talking. this is not the administration. this is not c.i.a., this is mike morell. i think the debate over the number of centrifuges is misplaced. because the number of centrifuges-- we're talking about the number of centrifuges at declared facilities, facilities that have been declared to the international atomic energy agency, right. that are inspected regularly by
the international atomic energy agency. >> rose: you said they want one. they want to build one now, and if they don't, why not? >> here's what i can say. i can say that up till-- up until 2003, they were building one. in 2003 they stopped. >> rose: and we know about the guy who left and went back-- >> they stopped. why did they stop? most people believe they stopped because we had just invaded iraq over weapons of mass destruction,ing and the supreme leader was afraid we'd do the same thing to him, right? >> rose: which was the same opinion held by gaddafi. >> right. >> rose: right? am i right about that? >> yes. >> rose: they looked at what we did in iraq and said we don't want that. >> and the north koreans are thinking we're glad we got this done in time. so they stopped. the 2007 national intelligence estimate which has been declassified said that they stopped in 2003.
but it also said that, that the analysts at the at the time believed that their goal was to get close to get as close as possible so they can dash to a weapon if they decide to but they hadn't decided to do it yet. i can't tell you, charlie, whether the analysts still believe that today or not because i don't know, but i will tell you i don't believe it. i believe they have made a decision. when leon was testify ago. >> rose: made a decision? >> that the supreme leader has made a decision that iran will have a nuclear weapon some day. i believe that. >> rose: you do remember panetta saying that. >> he was saying what our analysts believe. and that's what i said. i used to say what our analysts believed. now i'm allowed to say what i believe. so i believe that he will-- that he has made a decision to eventually get a weapon. >> rose: why do you believe that? >> because i believe that why put all this effort into this nuclear program pre-2003, and
then continuing post-23 with all of the work on the centrifuges, why build the gome facility. i believe the enrichest facility-- the underground enrichment facility outside of goal, their religious capital, that was a convert facility and we caught them and they made it public before we did. >> rose: here is the argument being made. we made it to-- sanctions made it too high a price to pay to have a nuclear weapon and that was why they were prepared to stop. and they did freeze it in place. >> hu. >> rose: that's what the agreement has done, the interim agreement. >> right. let's come back to the deal. so i don't think the focus should be on the number of centrifuges. in fact there's a great irony here. 5,000 accept the fiewjs is-- if you're just going to have a nuclear weapons program, 5,000 centrifuges is pretty much the number you need. if you're going to have a power
program you need a lot more centrifuges. by limiting them to a small number of centrifuges we're limiting to the number you need for a weapon. the great irony here. >> rose: why don't we recognize that? >> i don't know. >> rose: it's a very important question. you don't know. >> i'm not around the table anymore, charlie. >> rose: you know what kind of arguments they'd make. >> by limiting the number of centrifuges you are limiting their ability to use those declared facilities to break out. i just don't think that's how they're going to do it. i think they're going to do it by building another convert facility. what i do think we should focus on? i think we should focus on three things. i think we should focus on not letting them do any more r & d work, research and development work onanced centrifuges. they have a basic centrifuge designed and a slightly advanced centrifuge design. they would like to do work on even more advanced centrifuge designs. i wouldn't allow them to do that
anymore. why? because an advanced centrifuge produces enriched uranium at a much, much, faster rate. i would say that has to be part of the deal. the other thing i would say, they are building-- and i think this is part of our discussion with them. they are building a plutonium reaction arak. they don't have the capability today to produce plutonium for a weapon. i don't think we should allow them that capability. so that's got to be part of the deal. and the third area, because it is so-- because a convert facility is the way they're likely going to go, i.a.e. inspectors have to be able to go anywhere in that country any time they want. >> rose: so therefore we don't have a deal. do we have some interim deal? we don't get the deal but we get some kind of irnlim agreement.
>> here's the problem. i don't know to what extent people have thought about the implications of no deal. and the end of negotiations. what happens? you know from the iranian perspective they unfreeze everything that they froze. what do we do? do we-- the sanctions never came off. a few came off. we put those back backon. do we put more singleses on them? do we do anything else? do the israelis do anything from a military perspective? i don't think anybody has thought through the implications of no deal. better start doing that. >> rose: so you already believe they can build a weapon. >> if they want to. >> rose: if they make a decision to. >> rose: so you don't have an agreement. you don't have an interim agreement. you have no agreement. and they start building.
how long is the so-called breakout time? is it a month? is it two months? >> it depend, right. so my analysts my analysts used to look at the declared facilities and you'd look at the state of the declared facilities, how many centrifuges, what kind of centrifuges, how much low enriched uranium they've already produced and my analysts could tell you three-month breakout six-month breakout, whatever it was. it was getting shorter and shorter and shorter over time. but nobody believes that that's the way they're going to do it. everybody believes -- >> some convert thing. >> convert facilities. how long would it take? it depend on whether they have a convert facility or not? >> rose: so you're sitting there in the white house and you say, damn it may be a month, it may be two months. maybe they have a convert facility. we don't know where it is. >> right. >> rose: and maybe israeli intelligence tells you they're going to have a nuclear weapon.
we don't know where they're going to produce it, but they're going to have one in tbhongz three months. they'll have one by the end of 2015. what do you do if you're president? >> what do you strike? because you don't know where it is. right? you know, if -- >> first of all, do you strike? >> that's a tough question, too. because-- i believe -- >> it will turn all the iranians against you. >> yes and end any hopes of that -- >> there's no deal after that. >> there's no deal after that. and if the analysts are right, and if the analysts are right about they haven't made a decision yet boy, nothing's going to make them make a decision faster to get a weapon than bombing them, right? they're going to say hey, they didn't do this to north korea, and north korea has a weapon. which is why i think he has already made a decision. he wants a weapon for two reasons i think. one is-- he believes we're trying to overthrow him and his
regime. what's his best guarantee against that? a nuclear weapon. and he wantaise nuclear weapon because he sees it as part of this regional influence. and it would make a difference. >> rose: so if he get a weapon, if iran gets a weapon, the conventional wisdom is the saudis could have a weapon from pakistan nay month. >> that's the conventional wisdom. i don't upon if it's true. >> rose: it seems to me time is of the essence. we're look at severe problems. nobody is going to change the regime internally do you think? >> no. and you asked earlier should we change the regime. our batting average with changing regimes is not very good. >> rose: period. >> is not very gooding. >> rose: period. >> even if we could i'm not sure we should. >> rose: does does the c.i.a. take responsibility for that? >> for. >> rose: for not changing rejeems well? >> no, no no. >> rose: well who do you think-- >> it's not getting rid of the person that's hard. it's what follows. >> rose: whose responsibility is that?
>> look at iraq. look at iraq. getting rid of saddam at the end of the day was not that hard. replacing saddam with somebody who could actually run the place very very hard. >> rose: but we also were misled by a bunch of bad people, too. some of the people we supported who felt they were-- >> sure, sure. but, you know, there was a reason why saddam ran the place the way he did. there's a reason he ran it with an iron fist. >> rose: the story was, was saddam the way he was because of the way iraq was or was iraq the way it was because of the way he is. >> probably a little of both. qadavi kept islamic extremists under control. so no, we don't have a very good track record. >> rose: back to isis. >> two very fundamental problems in the middle east. isil and iran. both of them are significantly detrimental to u.s. national security interests both of them. and yet there's this weird
relationship between the two of them. where the iranians are actually helping us with isil. >> rose: the interesting thing, too is that in public opinion polls, whatever they mean, if anything more and more people have come to the conclusion they want to see the united states do something about isil. recent, yesterday the day before. the percentage is larger. i think it's pretty even, not a majority of one or the other. but all these beheadings and burning a jordanian pilot alive and decapitating 22 christians in libya has created some sense that it reminds people that this is-- these are crimes against civilization. >> right. you have to wander about why they're doing it, right? >> rose: which is the interesting question. >> i think they're doing it because they see it as keeping their name in the news. that they continue, right to dominate news cycle everywhere.
and, boy, does that feel good right, if you're isil. >> rose: it has always been about attracting attention. >> that's the point of it. i don't think that they've thought through the downside. if we sat down with them we would advise them, don't do this. you're actually hurting your brand. you're actually turning people against you. >> rose: but al qaeda and bin laden advised isil don't go for caliphate. don't do that now. don't go for an islamic state. >> and remembers zarqawi who created al qaeda in iraq which has now become isil that bin laden counseled him to not be so-- don't kill shi'a. don't kill civilians. don't mistreat people. >> rose: the other argument beyond the two you've cited is the attention is somehow they want-- their crazy strategy is to draw us into it and get more
adhere ents on their side that they're somehow trying to get us involved. >> i don't know if that's their strategy. >> rose: i'm just saying-- >> that was certainly bin laden's. >> rose: this is an argument. >> it was bin laden's strategy to brau of draw us into afghanistan and he was pleased to be able to draw us into it-- he didn't draw us in, but pleased we went into iraq. certainly you can saw this-- certainly you can say this, that the creation of the coalition, the u.s. and coalition air strikes have helped their brand. it really wasn't until we went to war with them-- and i think was the right decision but one of the down sides of that is it gives them a propaganda tool to use in their radicalization and they certainly have. >> rose: and recruitment. >> and recruitment. >> rose: mike morell, thank you. >> good to be with you. >> rose: mike morell for the hour. thank you for joining us.
the following kqed production was produced in high definition. and their buns are something i have yet to find anywhere else. >> i'm not inviting you to my house for dinner. >> breaded and fried and gooey and lovely. >> in the words of arnold schwarzenegger, i'll be back. >> they knew i had to ward off some