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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 28, 2009 11:00pm-11:30pm EDT

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president some day. you know, lot of kids maybe express that, but what was interesting was to hear a number of rumsfeld's former classmates say they would -- with rumsfeld they took it serious of the. they thought if anyone ran he would be the one. he did try in 1986-87 to run. he didn't get very far. he had been out of government for over a decade at that point, and he couldn't really get much traction or raise much money. you mentioned the length of the book, and it is quite long, but you know, rumsfeld is a very consequential figure, very powerful figure, the most influential secretary of defense we have had since macnational marry a as well as the most controversial... host: how long would the
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sessions go? guest: some went several hours. i spent the day with him at one of his homes. he has a large farm in taos, new mexico. i met with him in his office which he still maintains here in washington. he was wary, although cooperating with me -- he wanted to make certain this could not be seen as an authorized biography. it is not. he and it is not. he had no control over it. but i think he felt in the end i was going to write the book any way and so it was probably better for him to cooperate with me more than not. >> host: and in the and you write the ambitions, success and of and failures, he has had quite a public figure.
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what are these ultimate failures and what the former secretary agree with that assessment? >> guest: you know, he is in the end in my view a tragic figure. rumsfeld was enormously successful for most of his life both in government as well as in business. and he entered the pentagon under george bush, age 68, with a lifetime of accomplishment behind him. he was the only person ever to get a second shot being secretary defense because he had held the same job once before under president ford and he had enormous potential, a lot of talent and much of the story of the book is how he ran into trouble and it was eventually compelled to resign six years later. in terms of the failures there were failures of strategy,
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failures to adjust to the changing conditions. failures in his relationships with the military, colleagues and the administration and ultimately failure of leadership. it is a tough book. i do try to be a nuanced and balanced and in terms of whether he would agree with a number of my conclusions i don't think so. >> host: before we get calls you start the book with the end of his career as secretary defense in december of 2006 and his resignation. we just showed viewers a little bit of the farewell ceremony. why did you start at the end? >> guest: i think that was one of the moments that hadn't been fully explored, explained in terms of how much he might have known or what he was planning about resigning or not. why the president decided
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finally after months and months of resisting advice from aides and others to replace him, why bush finally decided to do so, and so i felt it was very important to frame the whole story of his life by starting at the end. >> host: the book is owned donald rumsfeld, bradley graham, "by his own rules." first call louisianan on the independent line, this is it. good morning. >> caller: good morning. thank to c-span, the voice of the people. i wanted to ask donald rumsfeld as the ceo of the corporation bought ascertain and 83 into the public domain and it caused several million people to die from brain tumors. i wonder if he feels like he's responsible for those deaths. >> guest: the product
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ascertain, which is commonly known as nutrisweet now found and thousands and thousands of products as an artificial sweetener from soda pop to chewing gum, it remains controversy all. and i am no expert on the scientific findings, but my understanding is that the great predominance of evidence has not established any link between aspertane and nutrisweet and the deaths that you speak of. and rumsfeld to this day remains very proud of having brought that product to market. it had been kind of fda regulatory limbo when roosevelt took over and he tried very hard -- rumsfeld took over and he tried to get that and was successful. >> host: you write at his
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tenure he was instrumental in the development of hdtv. >> guest: that's right. rumsfeld has this quite impressive career in business having been a sort of agent of change, taking companies like general instrument, turning them aren't making them successful and also bringing to market these very significant products like in the early days of hdtv and nutrisweet. >> host: but he didn't enter private industry until well into his 40's. he had been in government of some sort. what he had been happy to stay in government service to you think? >> guest: i think he would have been. he just didn't see an opportunity at the end of the ford administration to either run for senate perhaps or run for governor at that point. but isn't quite ready to run for president then. and he also believed in people sort of moving back-and-forth between government and industry. >> host: let's here from
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florida. this is sylvester. good morning on the republican line. go ahead, sylvester. >> caller: good morning, how are you doing? >> host: on the democrats' line, correct? >> caller: yes. >> host: sylvester, do as a favor i'm going to put you on hold. majeure you turned on the television or radio so you don't feed back. we will get you in a second. springfield, good morning, markets. >> caller: how are you doing? i was just listening to how donald rumsfeld hagel originally had some presidential aspirations. are we looking forward to seeing rumsfeld rahm as the president in the next four years, and as well, as for ms responsibility has he ever admitted to the responsibility or admitted that we should have sent more troops on the ground when we first invaded iraq or is it something that is kind of glossed over? >> guest: as for future presidential ambitions, i think those are behind rumsfeld.
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he has no intention that he shared with me any way of coming back into the government, let alone running for president. he's spending much of his time working on his own memoir which is due out late next year. no, he has not expressed any regrets, any second thoughts about the troop level initio. we will probably hear more from him about that in his book. i deal with it at length in my book. he was not the only one arguing for holding the line on the number of troops and trying to bring them down in iraq. that was also a position favored by his top generals and iraq at the time. and he -- they all shared a view that it would be better to try to turn over the responsibility for is a committee as quickly as
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possible to the iraqis and to bring down u.s. forces as quickly as possible. >> host: let's hear from a republican call, this is shannon from detroit. good morning. go ahead. >> caller: i was calling because i wanted to talk about donald rumsfeld and i believe the reason why he was actually forced out of office, it really comes from what i was saying, the attacks of 9/11 of the world trade center and everything. they say in certain reports that he was actually on the other side -- >> host: the pentagon? >> guest: yes, the pentagon. and when he was on the other side of the pentagon everything actually had taken place and they believe that he was probably had something to do that. >> host: let me follow up with that call. what was his response that day and how did 9/11 affect donald rumsfeld both personally and the
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policy point of view? >> guest: it had a very profound effect on rumsfeld. rumsfeld was on the other side the pentagon from where the american airlines flight hit on september ebook and his immediate response was to run out a side of the building to see what happened and he spent a few minutes actually helping, trying to deal with victims and so on before running back into the building and joining the other top administration officials and planning their response to the disaster. he, like other top officials of the bush administration of course never forgot that day. and it gave him more than anything in even greater sense of urgency than he had before that day in terms of trying to affect change in the u.s. military. u.s. know, he came into the job as the defense secretary with the main mission, the main assignment from george bush to transfer the u.s. military.
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and he was pushing for that, he was pushing for that before 9/11 but that whole mission gained even greater urgency. >> host: let's hear from -- we are going to take a look at one of the comments, one of the many briefings, rumsfeld held up the pentagon and this is the response to a question about back when he did a kuwait troup town meeting and said basically you go to war with the army you have, not the army you want. this was his response a couple of weeks later to one of the reporters' questions. i want to get your reaction to this. >> i am truly saddened by the thought anyone could have the impression on or others here are doing anything other than working urgently to see that the lives of the fighting men and women are protected and are cared for in every way humanly possible. and i hope and pray that every family member of those who have died so briefly knows how deeply
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i feel their loss. when i meet with the wounded, with their families, or with the families of those that have been lost, their grief is something i feel to my core. >> host: those are some very personal moments to critics of his policies. >> guest: yes, well, those remarks in kuwait to the troops are among those that people remember most about rumsfeld. he was very upset with the way those remarks were reported. he felt they were taken out of context. if you read all of his remarks he argues that he showed more sympathy, more understanding for the position that the troops were in. but nonetheless, the tone of what he was singing date resonate with the troops there and throughout the military and seemed to reinforce the image of
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him as an insensitive and somewhat uncaring. he did come back from that visit and fired off a few men memo's i report in the book, to the senior commander saying we are not doing enough on this armor issue and he started setting certain deadlines for when all the vehicles had to be properly equipped. so, he was -- he was -- he was certainly bothered by it, but the reaction to those comments had tremendous significance in in the political world, too, as some republicans began to join democrats in questioning whether rumsfeld should remain as the defense secretary. >> host: your book has a series of pictures of secretary rumsfeld appearing before the many hearings. you call him the master of hand gestures. he spent four years as a congressman. did he feel comfortable on the
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hill as the secretary of defense? >> guest: rumsfeld's hand gestures are a part of the way he speaks and they go way back, too. even when he was anthon -- in the nixon white house there were stories about how he would talk, and the ford white house, how he would talk with his hands. he was very good on the hill in terms of his performances, but he had terrible strains with a number of key members of congress that did not serve him well and that was one of the greatest paradox is about his time or one of the things that puzzled one of his closest aides is why he didn't seem to make more of an effort and wasn't able to get along better with the key members of congress.
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he seemed sometimes almost purposefully to alienate them and i think it was one of the major factors that contributed to his downfall. >> host: here is florida, sylvester you on the line? >> caller: yes, sir. >> host: go ahead with your question for bradley graham. >> caller: i just want to know if donald rumsfeld were president now how do you think he would respond to the government and protesters? >> guest: you know, that's -- purely speculative of course. he, for all his toughness though and his plainspoken as and directness, i think rumsfeld also had a kind of an inner compass particularly when facing dicey situations and sense sometimes of how far to go and when not to go too far. for instance, when he was the secretary of defense, he was very wary about taking military
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action against al qaeda and taliban terrorists in parts of pakistan for fear of destabilizing the pakistani government. >> host: we have a question for you at twitter, eight wheat from a viewer. could your guest comment on the role of donald rumsfeld and watergate. this is from the post naderater. >> guest: rumsfeld although he served senior positions in the nixon administration was able to east cape much of the people watergate. he was also overseas as ambassador to nato at the time the watergate scandal broke he, however, was quite involved with mix and's political operations in the doing, as i write in the book, various political favors
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and activities, and he was very close to mitchell of nixon's top political operatives who work in watergate. >> host: you mentioned in the book about all of rumsfeld being influenced by adamle stevenson, a speech by the democratic senator adlai stevenson in the 50's. how did donald rumsfeld wind up being a republican? >> guest: well, he came from a very conservative district. the north shore of chicago, and he couldn't have gotten elected if he were a conservative. but he wasn't a neoconservative. sometimes people confuse him as being a part of that community. he was always quite mainline conservative and what is also very interesting some people may be surprised to learn is that when he was younger and congress particularly he had an image as a moderate republican, reformer,
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he actually led a group that came to be known as rumsfeld's readers in challenging the republican old guard that had been in charge of the leadership. >> host: dewaal so right that at one point in the transformation process was not going the way that some conservative critics wanted. at one point i believe in august of .2001 gilchrest zero, the editor of the weekly standard, called for bottled rumsfeld and paul wolfowitz's resignation. >> guest: that's right. there was a time there a few months into his tenure when rumsfeld was widely speculated likely to be the first cabinet casualty of the bush administration because he had come into office charged with transforming the military but he was taking his time organizing a lot of study groups, are doing with the chiefs and members
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about the direction of change and some were not happy with how the change was happening. it was 9/11 that saved him. >> caller: good morning. to many american people were told the budgets for all of the military, the pentagon, what do those total? and you often talk about the politicians often talk about public service but yet the revolving door that these people and the staff of the politicians end up going to work directly or indirectly through these military suppliers.
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the top public service all the time. but the fact is it's primarily for personal gain and this was the problem in this country. thank. >> guest: the defense budget now is over half a trillion dollars its continued to rise through this decade even not counting the cost of the war in iraq, the war in afghanistan or the war on terrorism, which of course have added significant billions of dollars. as for the revolving door, it occurs. i don't think that that's the reason for the rise and defense spending however. it fairly easily out of public service and industry and back and forth given the tenure of times today is that sort of -- is that sort of -- sort of
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position possible or ability to do that possible? >> guest: it's still possible. they are trying to put on additional controls about that. but, look, i mean, you know if it is a technical area, certainly to experience counts, and i don't think we want to completely close the door either for those who have experience in defense industry to come into government or those in government to be able to go into defense first. >> host: among the many photographs looks at the secretary rumsfeld with general abizaid, with george casey in iraq, and here with joint chiefs chairman peter pace, the former chair and here with troops also have a town hall meeting in iraq in 2005. how was he viewed both by the troops and the general staff? >> guest: he generally got a very good rousing receptions
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when he went to see the troops. the episode that we mentioned earlier about the farmer in kuwait was actually an exception where the troops seem to ask particularly poignant questions of him. one explanation of that maybe if it was a group largely made up of reservists. but it was a little further into the war as well and a lot of resentment and frustration were building. but he generally was well received by the troops and so he enjoyed visiting with the troops all over and having tips with the generals were more mixed. and one of the things in writing the book that most impressed me was going back to some of those senior officers with whom rumsfeld got along the best and
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hearing them describe their relationships reflect on their dealings with rumsfeld, and even those like general abizaid, like fer clark, the head of the navy, even those who had the reputation for having figured out how to deal with rumsfeld had very mixed feelings about the relationship that they had with him. >> host: did most of them when you asked for interviews give good access? >> guest: yes i can't complain about the access and i also zero rumsfeld qassam thanks for that. he opened a number of doors for me with different people. it was very helpful also to be able to go back and talk to both former officials and retired military officers after they had left and had some time to reflect. >> host: question about his resignation from twitter. regarding his resignation, who was in the group that supported him and who was against him? >> guest: basically by the time he stepped down about his only major supporter and the administration was cheney.
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of course that relationship goes back many years. it was rumsfeld who brought cheney into the executive branch into the nixon administration when rumsfeld hired janney to be the chief of staff of economic opportunity so they were close and had a long-term relationship but there by the end in the bush administration, rumsfeld had very few places of support either within the administration or congress or the senior military ranks. >> host: why did the president wait until after the elections that year to accept his resignation? >> guest: for everything i was told by his top people, the president was very adamant about waiting even though he seems to have made up his mind rumsfeld need to be replaced. >> host: made up his mind before -- >> guest: before the election. they will set up in motion the plan for how the resignation would be announced and so on. bush was insistent that the news not come until after the election because he didn't want
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it to seem like it was being politically motivated like it was that he was trying to help a republican candidate. there were a lot of republican candidates after the fact who were quite upset that bush hadn't moved sooner because it was felt in republican circles that rumsfeld's departure might have helped save some republican candidates. >> host: bradley gramm is the guest, his book "by his own rules" released today. washington, d.c. two ralph on the democrats' plan. >> caller: i think that you are the [inaudible] first of all when you said something about the generals supporting rumsfeld, rumsfeld fired any general report to the eckert told him he needed three or 4,000 troops. he wanted to go to 75,000. he fired since hecky so it's
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either you agree it me or are out the door. he was completely dominating. he was also instrumental in the life of iraq. he was talking about this weapon of mass destruction and the entire district of the united states, boom, a worldly to get scared. he also participated and i recommend everybody look it up it is called project for a new american sentry which basically says we should dominate the middle east and anything less than a pearl harbor type of event will not motivate the united states and attack iraq and afghanistan and get a out of there. >> host: lots there, we will get a response. thanks for the call. >> guest: rumsfeld, just to correct the record here, did not fire general shinseki although it is commonly thought that he did. he actually didn't fire any general. the only person he fired was the army secretary, tom white, a number of people feel that
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perhaps he should have fired more people. his successor, bob gates has now dismissed the number is six senior officials. he did pull the rug out from under shinseki by allowing the word to be publicized 18 months or so early of who shinseki would be replaced with at the end of his term as the chief of staff but shinseki was allowed to serve out his term. there's no question there were a lot of strains between rumsfeld and general shinseki between other members of the joint chiefs of staff in particular but resented a feeling sidelined by rumsfeld he could be very overbearing, very domineering. but there are a number of four-star officers and other officers who also are that way.
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it's a tough culture. and i think when you look very closely as i try to do in this book at a number of the major decisions you can see as much as rumsfeld is to blame for many things that went wrong there were a number of senior officers who could have done more to either stand up to him or also to be blamed for misjudgment and miscalculation. >> host: you write about his wife, joyce. how many interviews did you have with her and what sort of advisory role did she have for donald rumsfeld's courier? >> guest: i talked to her about five times and she is a critical figure in rumsfeld's life. the most important figure. they go back to high school when they first started dating. she is a tremendous asset to
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him. she has got no detractors alike find. she is perfectly charming and engaging. very shrewd in her own way. >> host: she was also very bluntly honest with him on his career decisions and things like that. >> guest: yes, she was -- she always brought into those decisions. she also had a certain appreciation for rumsfeld even at his height of popularity which was looking back around the time of the afghan >> reporter: where he was the face of the united states war at that point and people by the millions what to in and watch his news conferences. the president nicknamed him and at that point his wife, joyce, when a talking to a group of military wives tried to bring in a certain sense


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