Rumsfeld's Reflections on 9/11
Former defense secretary looks back on the Sept. 11 attacks 10 years later, sounds off on dropping troop levels in Iraq
- Duration 16:57
- Date Sep 6, 2011
Former defense secretary looks back on the Sept. 11 attacks 10 years later, sounds off on dropping troop levels in Iraq
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It's -- sector -- sir thank you.
It's hard to believe its ten years since it's amazing.
It is and it's a good thing that -- that -- marking that date because we can remember there.
People who were lost.
Their families their friends and and how fortunate we've been we've passed a whole decade almost where where we haven't had a successful attack on America.
With the serve up a difficult -- of the media how do you.
-- the day not exploit it and not tell the terrorists that they know that they got us.
I suppose there is -- attention there and one's mind.
But it it was the largest attack on America in our history.
Inside of our country.
Led to a whole new set of steps to try to protect the American people a different way of looking at instead of thinking we can defend.
Which you can't defend against a terrorist every place at every moment of the day or night and kept every conceivable technique.
But but we had to go after -- we had to put pressure on him and thus far it's it's been.
You -- that's the Bush Doctrine of preemption right we pretty much well but I wouldn't use the -- preemption it's more.
Making everything they do difficult making it harder for them to raise money harder to talk to each other -- move between countries.
Harder to find a country that will tolerate and be hospitable to.
The terrorist activity harder to train.
Now we don't have metrics to know how successful we've been in terms of reducing their recruiting reducing their -- -- But we we do know that while they've had some successful attacks elsewhere in the world in the last decade -- not been successful here.
Give a sense of the Obama administration also has that strategy I guess the best thing when as Libya the sort of then you go go to the you prevent that from happening in the future or not that that.
I think Libby was quite -- And they they argue that -- humanitarian terms.
Although He had been a sponsor of terrorism to be sure.
No I think what they did was they campaigned against the bush approach and once they got and they realize that the nineteen nation coalition that was put together was successful in sharing intelligence and -- tracking bank accounts and and cooperating against terrorism and they they ended up keeping Guantanamo open not because they like -- we didn't like it either.
But they couldn't think of a better solutions.
The same thing true with the Patriot Act and military commissions.
Indefinite detention all of those things were things that were criticized but today are still in place two and a half years later.
Because they -- -- the best alternative to two.
The other choices and they are in fact successful in keeping America's safer.
And -- over a mile actually put out we -- A piece of that of a plane the plane that hit.
Indeed and -- picked that up.
The morning of the attack.
This is -- -- it's unbelievable what happened that you worry you that you could feel the building shake and I could.
And immediately went out down the hall until the smoke was so bad -- downstairs and outside around the corner.
The field out there than the grass is just covered with pieces this size.
Off that enormous surplus which -- At a course been loaded with jet fuel and crashed into the building 500 miles an hour.
And there were very few pieces that were there could be put in the back of pickup truck and so -- explode.
And there were people that building was burning issues you know well.
Smoke filling it.
President of bush thought that he'd be very different present and here outside the education president that they can -- Monday that -- who became a wartime.
President you -- secretary of defense I don't pride and they can be a wartime search -- events.
Certainly -- interesting footnote in history is that.
Secretary Mac the American this confirmation hearing was never -- a single word about -- him.
Dick Cheney in his confirmation hearing for secretary of defense was never afterward about Iraq.
And yet or the Iraq War.
Became a major part I was never -- -- -- about Afghanistan or al-Qaeda.
In my confirmation.
So it it it suggests that.
-- president and his cabinet are faced with the way the world works and they have to live with.
And you're quite right President Bush and sure came in thinking He would be focused on domestic issues.
You mentioned Vice President Cheney and has a lot of news with his book and there's the in the service back that's his -- -- between secretary Powell.
And Vice President Cheney and -- -- natural tension that always between defense and state that.
Vote for -- decades.
What do you make of that tension between those two.
Well of course.
I read about half of his books so far and He had of course a very close relationship with -- -- When there were in the Pentagon back in the George Herbert walker Tuesday.
I've not gotten to the last portion of the vice president's book -- I'm looking forward to reading it but so I I don't know what it's about other than.
There are in any National Security Council as you point out there were difficulties between.
-- British and -- and size vans between its lesson during Kissinger.
All various people in in it.
Because they represent different viewpoints different perspectives.
And -- Of course worked with both of them during that period and as well as with Secretary Rice when she moved over there.
And I just haven't had a chance to read that portion of the book.
I'm Vice President Cheney -- fellowship with -- He did and you let didn't take him I didn't I was looking for a lawyer and He was a -- academic at the time at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
And that was probably in the first quarter of 1969.
And -- I was in my fourth term in congress He was.
And He just won an American Political Science Association fellowship and He was one of several who applied and -- Taking -- warrior.
-- about five or 43 or four months later hired him at the Office of Economic Opportunity after resigned from congress and went into president Nixon's camp.
So -- dollar it did and we've.
Work together often periodically and when I went business and He went to congress that.
I've enjoyed working with -- -- -- fine man.
You know in the last few hours there's been Fox News report that active President Obama has decided to draw down.
Iraq troops in Iraq to 3000 by the end of the year.
There's some generals who are deeply disturbed by that's.
Senator Lindsey Graham so upset about that.
What's your thought on -- down 3000.
I have to hear what was -- than what the decision was and what the remaining 3000 donors are.
Going to be doing there and what the attitude I don't know what the attitude of the Iraqi Government.
There's been some difficulties there between the US government Obama administration.
And the Iraqi Government so I don't know what their understandings.
About Ahmadinejad think he's standing by waiting to go and.
The Iranians are attempting aggressively to improve and increase their influence in the world He certainly in the region.
-- they're supporting various terrorist organizations working with the the government of Syria.
Do you make difficulties.
For us in Iraq to be sure.
They -- difficulties in in Afghanistan as well.
-- I don't know.
I don't know that the draw down will necessarily change their posture.
For the worse because.
They're already behaving in ways it's notably unhelpful to the Iraqi People.
And to the coalition of countries that have been helpful to back.
What's the most of part about being in the cabinet in -- defense sectors did even even I guess the vice president that.
You know were -- taken potshots at you but -- what don't we get.
The vice president of CNN notably different position and -- and I think -- the difference in the case of Richard Cheney.
Was that He was an aspiring to be present which is most unusual for a place -- And as result we didn't spend any time trying to polish his image or to disabuse people of and misunderstandings.
Of what is views -- I always found them to be very circumspect He was careful in meetings asked excellent questions and in National Security Council -- There was never any doubt in my mind but that He gave his views to the president very forcefully and and and thoughtfully.
But He did not do anything ever outside that would.
Reduce the president's options or or presume on -- -- presidential position -- decision.
He He was a and it totally loyal vice president to that president.
And and I think as a result was probably one of the most effective certainly in my adult life.
But the narrative that was running through much of the administration is that He was He was one was in charge.
Or had that -- -- but that was the Serb part of the -- And of course -- The people who write about those things tend to be people who were involved and didn't know much about them.
Or people who leak things out and try to cast in a way that they think is favorable to something they want.
He never behaved in ways though He were president He -- -- was vice president He knew who The Who the president wants it was George W.
And He was respectful.
And as I say.
Was very careful not presume a position on the part of the president but to preserve the president's options which I think is.
Is the it is an important thing to do if if you realize that the presents the one that was elected by the American people.
Presidents the individual who's there to make those decisions and the rest of view of the vice president and the cabinet officers there too.
See you the president has the fullest.
Information the most accurate information and has a clear understanding of the pros and cons but then the president makes those decisions.
How much -- when I read memoirs because there's this off until vastly different than what has been said -- appears on the outside.
Is that what I mean even now like you know how much are we doing this to the new administration getting that -- -- -- it different -- spinning it incorrectly.
My memoir known and unknown which took four years to produce.
Is really the first political memoir of the information age because I was able to take four years and and digitize.
And -- mountain documentation.
And the website Rumsfeld dot com.
Has object of some 4000.
Documents that that.
Support the positions that I've presented in the book as to what was actually taking place.
Other memoirs thus far have really not.
Because it does take time and it takes a lot of effort and investment.
To do it.
And I think that that that.
-- -- serious people who were interest -- really knowing what took place.
Paragraph from the book.
That is is an excerpt from a memo I wrote maybe.
Ten years ago -- -- snowflakes snowflakes.
And they can then go pull up the entire document.
Now that that really -- the book.
In the facts and and in the primary source documents which of course the people who've written books previously have been journalists who weren't there and they talk to somebody who had.
Peripheral involvement but probably not in any of the meetings.
And and that is what becomes the narrative out there and until people.
Do what what we've done take the time to create a website and put the documents -- -- world to see.
It seems to me that that we we can't know what's happening in real time because so much of -- classified confidential.
There's so -- questions.
That where were you on 9/11 and Ana -- you are no islands where were you when you heard that assumption -- ahead and count I was in bed reading.
And my chief of staff called and said.
Beauty is calling the television stations calling and they want you to go on to talk about that.
Killing of Osama bin Laden -- I didn't wanna go on television talk about -- Went back to and -- greatly relieved that the -- a better place with -- -- Happen.
Any regrets not and in -- -- -- -- probably Sam packet in an attempt in the world would have been a better place earlier but of course it those kinds of things we had.
We've gone through ten years after the end of the Cold War where they had under invested in defense under invested in our intelligence capabilities.
Last two years of -- George Herbert walker Bush Administration in the eight years of Clinton.
So when President Bush came and He simply had to do do repair work -- to develop the capabilities and and we invested heavily in our special operations forces increased their numbers improve their equipment increase -- authorities.
Brought the Marines and the special operations for the first time.
And and over time they developed capabilities that simply didn't exist early.
Is He won't replace books bin Laden was that I set are are getting and it's really significant.
It's really significant because -- become the face of al-Qaeda and clearly was important from fundraising.
And organizing and recruiting.
On the other hand He will be replaced has been replaced him and others will follow we.
In in Iraq or Afghanistan where the al-Qaeda leaders were killed in certain regions of the country they'd be replaced.
In in one instance over three years there were three different leaders because -- Killed her caption the previous two.
So it'll it'll continue and it's it's more like it's not like.
Korea or Vietnam or World War II where it starts and ends it's more like.
The Cold War where it goes on for a period of time and it's a competition of ideas we're gonna have to be successful.
In persuading people that.
Giving money to terrorist organizations.
Recruiting people and training to.
Become radical islamists Angola -- -- men women and children is not good for them and not good for the world and that there's a penalty for.
He seemed so pathetic when He died I mean in that room and that that like a prisoner and I it it was almost like this sort of it.
He was more about a myth that it's sort of I can't seem sort of an actual data -- camera disease seem -- -- to pathetic to death.
Well let me think of Mussolini.
-- -- Feed -- Lake Como area in the war -- mean.
Think of Adolf Hitler committing suicide.
Think -- Saddam Hussein when He was pulled out of that spider hole and the -- saw that waste and it no matter where you look.
I think of the ones that are on the Riviera.
You know Duvalier and and others who've who've left -- mr.
Mubarak today which is there.
Amazon person that we worked closely with him and he's -- -- -- -- trying to him.
-- the the ending is leadership in the world over and tend not to be happy.
In our country that they are.
-- change we change governments peacefully.
That people are able to walk around the streets and and live a normal life and and a but but certainly there are any number of instances that are of a kind.
And it's just look at response -- that we don't give power we lend it any -- its very term and that may be the big difference.
The second SC SX thank you gotta have -- with you.