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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 22, 2009 9:00am-9:30am EDT

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directly from iran. there are saying obama is planning exactly right. host: @ thank you for all the calls and more coming up in just a moment. we will spend an hour with a former pentagon reporter from "the washington post" won its new book, extensive fire fee of former defense secretary donald rumsfeld. . kathleen sebelius spoke earlier today on "good morning america" says that there's no choice but to revamp health care because
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the costs are crushing businesses and families. another says that it will increase costs and reduced losses in the senate health committee continues its mark up of health care legislation. live coverage on c-span3. the world bank has updated its forecast for the year. it says the world economy will shrink nearly 3%, almost double the previous estimate. stock futures are down this morning. the senate is close to passing a bill that would mandate its expenses reduced expenses and fund-raising be posted on line, a few weeks after nancy pelosi mandated house expense reports be digitally published. a democrat from missouri says there's a decent chance it may happen soon, forcing senators to put all their office expenses including staff salaries on line. even without remarks economic stimulus money will go to members of congress who oversee funding for the army corps of engineers.
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more than $2 billion of that stimulus money is going to those members' home districts. finally, senator ted kennedy recorded a camping spot for chris dodd. in the ad senator kennedy says in part that quality health care is a fundamental right for all americans. chris dodd has been his closest ally in that fight. kennedy is being treated for a brain tumor. those of some of the latest headlines. "washington journal" continues. host: cover the pentagon for "the washington post" for many years. he is now out with a book called "by his own rules: the ambitions, successes and ultlimate failures of donald rumsfeld" -- how did donald rumsfeld view the role of public service? guest: he was very interested in
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public service from a very young age, inspired in college when it advice stevenson came to talk to his graduate in class. that was at princeton. stevenson urged all the students to use their educations to put them to work in public service. not long afterward donald rumsfeld ran for congress and became the youngest republican member in 1960 and believed in public service. he served not only in congress, but also in the nixon and ford administrations and returned in the bush administration. even in between when he was a corporate executive he stayed involved serving as a presidential envoy on a couple of presidential commissions. host: the book is 800 pages.
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did he ever have presidential aspirations? guest: some of his old high- school classmates remember his expressing an interest back then as a teenager in becoming president some day. it was interesting to hear a number of his former classmates say they took it seriously. the thought if any of them ran he would be the one. he did try in 1986, 1987. he did not give for because he had been out of government for over a decade. he could not give much traction or raise much money. you mentioned that the length of the boat. it is long. but this is a very consequential figure, very powerful. the most influential secretary of defense we have had since
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matt chimera -- macnamara as well as controversial, so i thought he was worth the lengthy treatment. i talked to him eight times. host: how long would the 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 had no control over it. i think you felt in the and that would write the book anyway so is probably better to cooperate.
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host: and you read about the ambitions, successes, and ultimate failures. he has had quite a distinguished public and private service as a figure. what are the ultimate villiers'? with the former secretary agree with your assessment? guest: he is a tragic figure. he was enormously successful for much of his life, both in government and in business. he entered the pentagon under george bush at age 68 with a lifetime of accomplishment. he was the on the person ever to get a second shot at the position. he had held the same job once before under president ford. he had enormous potential, lots of talent. much of this story is how he ran
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into trouble and was eventually compelled to resign six years later. there were failures of strategy, to adjust to changing conditions, failures in relationships with the military, congress, colleagues, and ultimately a failure of leadership. it is a tough vote. i try to be nuanced and balanced. whether he would agree with my conclusions, i don't think so. host: you start the book with the end of his career as secretary of defense from december 2006 and his resignation. we showed viewers a little of the farewell ceremony. why did you begin at the end? guest: it was one of the moments of his life that had not been as fully explored, explained in
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terms of how much you would have known, in terms of resigning or not, why the president decided to finally after months of resisting advice from aides and others to replace him. why bush finally decided to do so. so i felt it was important to for in the whole story of his life by beginning at the end. host: the book is "by his own rules: the ambitions, successes and ultlimate failures of donald rumsfeld" by bradley graham. caller: good morning. as donald rumsfeld donald rumsfeas the president of a corporation brought aspirin came into the public domain which caused several million people to die from brain tumors -- he
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brought asparatame into the public domain. i wonder if he feels he is responsible for those deaths guest: the product which is commonly known as nutrasweet now found in thousands of products as an artificial sweetener and now from soda pop to chewing gum remains controversial. i am no expert on the scientific findings, but lender standing is that the predominance of evidence has not established any links between asparatame and nutrasweet in the deaths use. donald rumsfeld remains proud to this day of bringing the product to market. it was an fda regulatory limbo when he took over at the
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company. he tried very hard to get permission to market that and was ultimately successful. host: you write that as part of his tenure at general instruments that company was instrumental in the development of hdtv. guest: that is right. he has an impressive career in business, an agent of change, taking these companies and turning them up around. also bringing to market these very significant products. the early days of hdtv. host: he did not enter private industry until well into his 40's. would he have been happy to have stayed in government service? guest: i think so, but he did not see an opportunity at the end of the ford administration to run for senator or governor. he was not quite ready to run
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for president. he also believed in people moving back and forth between government and industry. host: let's here from florida on the republican line. caller: good morning. host: rather on the democrats' line, correct? caller: yes. host: will put you on hold. please turn down your television or radio. springfield, good morning. caller: good morning, i was listening to how they said donald rumsfeld originally had presidential aspirations. are we looking for to see him run it as president in the next four years? does, has he ever admitted to responsibility for, that we
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should have sent more troops into iraq? or has he glossed over this? guest: as their presidential ambitions i think those are behind him. he has no intention, that he shared with me, anyway of coming back into government, their lone run for president. he spends much of his time working on his own memoir which is due l.a.out late next year. no, he has not expressed regrets about the troop level issue. we might hear more from him about that in his book. i deal with it at length in mind. he was not the only one. -- i do with that issue in mine. he was not the only one for limiting the number of trips. that was also the favor of his top generals in iraq at the time.
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they all shared the view that it would be better to turn over responsibility for security as quickly as possible to the iraqis and bring down u.s. forces as quickly as possible. host: this is a republican caller from detroit. caller: i believe the reason why donald rumsfeld was forced out of office comes from -- what i would say 9/11, the attacks at the world trade center and everything. they say in certain reports he was on the other side -- of the pentagon. when he was on the other side of the pentagon everything had taken place.
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they believed he probably had something to do with it. host: what was his response that day and how did 9/11 affecting both personally and from a policy point of view? guest: it had a profound effect on him. he was on the other side of the pentagon from where the flight had hit. his immediate response was to run outside the building to see what had happened. he spent a few minutes helping victims. then he ran back into the building to drop other top officials in planning the response. he like other top officials of the bush administration never forgot that day. it gave him an even greater sense of urgency than before and
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try to affect change in the u.s. military. he came into the job as defense secretary with a main assignment from george bush to transform the military. he was pushing for that before 9/11, but afterwards the mission gained even greater urgency. host: we will take a look at one of the many briefings donald rumsfeld held of the pentagon. it is in response to the question, back when he did a kuwait troop town meeting. when he said to go to war with the army you have, not the one you want. this is his response. >> i am truly saddened by the thought that anyone could have the impression that i or others are doing anything other than working urgently to see that the lives of the fighting men and
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women are protected and cared for in every way humanly possible. i hope and pray every family member of those who have died so bravely knows how deeply i feel the loss. when i meet with the wounded or families or with the families of those lost their grief is something i feel to my core. host: those are some personal moments to critics of his policies. guest: those remarks in kuwait to the troops are those people remember the most. he was very upset with the way those remarks were reported. he thought there were taken out of context. if you read them all he argues he showed more sympathy and understanding for the position the troops were in. nonetheless, the tone did
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resonate with the troops. they seemed to reinforce the image of him as insensitive and a somewhat and caring. he returned from the visit to fire off a few memos. i report them for the first time in the book. the most to senior commanders as saying that we're not doing enough on this farmer issue. he began to set deadlines for when vehicles had to be properly equipped. -- he said we were not doing enough on the armor issue. but the reaction to those comments had a tremendous significance in washington, and the political world, too, as some republicans begin to join democrats in questioning whether donald rumsfeld should remain as defense secretary. host: your book has several
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pictures of his appearing in testimony. you called him a master of hand gestures. did he feel comfortable on the hill as secretary of defense? guest: his handed gestures are so much a part of the way he speaks. and they go way back too. even when he was in the nixon white house there were stories about how he would talk, 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 who did not serve him well. one of the great paradoxes of his time and what puzzled his
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closest aides most was why he did not seem to make more of an effort or get along better with key members of congress. he seemed almost purposely at times to alienate them. i think it was one of the major factors contributing to his downfall. host: florida, sylvester, are you still on a the line? caller: yes, sir. i just want to know if donald rumsfeld were president now how do think he would respond to iran's government and protested? guest: it is purely speculative. for all of his toughness and plainspoken as and directness i think he also had an inner compass, particularly when facing dicey situations in a
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sense of how far to go. for instance, when he was secretary of defense he was very wary about taking military action against al qaeda and taliban terrorists and parts of pakistan for fear of destabilizing the pakistani government. host: we have a question for you from twitter. what was his role in watergate? guest: although donald rumsfeld service senior positions in the nixon administration, he was able to escape much of the tank of watergate. he was overseas as ambassador to nato at the time the scandal broke.
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however, he was " involved with nixon's political operations -- quite involved, as i write in the book about local favors and activities. he was very close to nixon's top political operatives who were implicated in watergate. host: you wrote about his being influenced by adlai stevenson in the 1950's. how did donald rumsfeld in the becoming a republican? guest: he came from a conservative district on the north shore in chicago. he could not have gotten elected if you were not conservative. but he was not a neo - conservative. sometimes people confuse him as being part of that community. he was always quite mainline
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conservative. some people might be surprised to learn that when he was younger in congress he had the image as a moderate republican, a reformer. he led a group that came to be known as rumsfeld's raiders and challenged some of the old-guard republicans in leadership. host: you wrote that his transformation process did not go as some conservative critics wanted. in august 2001 bill kristol called for donald rumsfeld and another resignation. guest: that is red. there was a time a few months into his tenure when he was widely speculated likely to be the first cabinet casualty of the bush administration because he had come into office charged
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with transforming the military, but was taking his time, organizing study groups. he argued with the chiefs, members of congress about the direction of change. some were not happy with how fast change was happening. it was 9/11 and that the war in afghanistan that really saved him. host: good morning, caller. caller: to the american people in total budgets for all the military, the pentagon, what did those total? politicians often talk about public service but yet the revolving door that these people and at the staff of the politicians and up going to work
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directly or indirectly for these military suppliers. the top public service all the time but the fact is it is primarily for personal gain. this is the problem in this country. thank you. guest: the defense budget now is over .5 trillion dollars and continues to rise through this decade. even not counting the cost of the war. and the war in afghanistan and the war on terrorism all of which have added billions of dollars. as for the revolving door, i don't think it is the reason for the rise in defense spending, however.
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host: he transition the easily between public service and private business bega. guest: it is still possible to do that. bertran to put additional controls about that. -- they are trying to put additional controls. look, if it is a technical area experience counts. i don't think we want to completely close the door on those who have experience in the defense industry to come into government or those in government going into defense. host: among many photographs looks bad secretary rumsfeld with these other figures. here he is with troops at a town
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hall meeting. how was he viewed by the troops and the general staff? guest: he generally got very good, rousing reception. the episode concerning armor and kuwait was an exception where the troops asked pointed questions from him. one explanation might be that the group was largely made up of reservists. it was further into the war and many frustrations were building. he generally was well-received by troops and enjoyed visiting with them. his relations with the generals were more mixed.
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one of the things in writing the book that most impressed me was returning to some of those senior officers with whom he got along best and hearing them describe their relationships with him. even those like the general, clark who was the head of the navy, even those who had the reputation for having figured out how to deal with donald rumsfeld had mixed feelings about that relationship. host: did the most give you good access? guest: yes, i cannot complain about the access. also, donald rumsfeld who opened doors for me with different people. it was also helpful to go back and talk with both former officials and retired military officers after they had left and had time to reflect. host: a question about his resignation from twitter.
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guest: by the time he stepped down his only major supporter in the administration was dick cheney. that relationship goes back many years. it was donald rumsfeld who brought dick cheney and back in the nixon administration. they were close and had a long- term relationship. but by the end in the bush administration donald rumsfeld had very few voices of support either within the administration, congress, or the senior military ranks. host: why did the president wait until after the elections to accept his resignation? guest: the president was adamant about waiting even though he seems to have made up his mind about the replacement. that was before the election. they set into motion some
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planning as to how the resignation would be announced. bush was insistent that the news not come until after the election because he did not want it to seem like he was being politically motivated, to help republican candidates. there were many republican candidates after the fact who were quite upset that bush had not moved sooner because republicans felt the departure might have helped save some republican candidates. host: bradley graham is our guest. this is his book. good morning on the democrats' line. caller: congratulations with your new book i think you have the market on the fiction ultimate universe. first of all, you said something about the general supporting donald rumsfeld.

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