tv Q A CSPAN February 20, 2011 8:00pm-9:00pm EST
[captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] >> a look behind the new book by former secretary of defense donald rumsfeld. he talks about the making of the book and responses to reviews. he also looks back to c-span appearance 20 years ago where he gave the advice to presidents and their staffs. >> don rumsfeld, author of "known and unknown." how did you write this book? >> i thought about first using
basically my memory. i decided to have such a rich archive, and i have lived so many years, one-third of our country's history, which is almost unbelievable, and i decided to digitize a lot of my papers and then use that. the second thing i did was i decided -- i have read a lot of books by friends involved in things i had been involved in. it was a narrow perspective. i decided to bring and i don't know how many people, 40 or 50 people, one at a time, who were involved with me at various segments of my life, and we would sit in a conference room and take it and then transcribe it, and then stimulate other and remind each other of things that took place. then we would transcribed, and then i also had a parents letters from world war ii, all the memos when i met with gerald
ford, the only president who was not elected vice president or president. a dictated a lot of memos on these old-fashioned dictaphone is with the little takes. i had mountains of paper, and i did a lot of oral histories over the years. each time i would do some position, some group would come and want to do an oral history. so i had this enormous archive. we'd started taking it and putting it together, and then working it and working it, and it took forever. it took four years to do this. but it is fun. i enjoyed it. i did said well, i expect it will take a long time and be a lot of work, and i will just relax and enjoy it. i have had a lot of -- a chance to visit with a lot of old friends. >> where did you do it? >> mostly in washington, where my archive is. the war got digitized, i could do it in my home in new mexico or out in st. michaels,
maryland. >> did you have someone kind of overseeing the whole thing? >> casselman said the other day, i have an army. -- as someone said the other day, i have an army. i have three key people who help me do all of it. and five or 600 who have been doing the fact checking and research and transcribing and all the amount of work that is involved. we had a team of six or seven people. >> how many days or hours collectively did you actually collectively did you actually spent on it, do you think? >> oh, goodness, over four years. >> every day? crack's most every day. probably five and half, six days a week. >> why did you want to spend all this time doing this? >> well, at first i didn't. at first i thought i would do a short book. then i decided that i had the
time, had the ability to digitize, which saves an enormous amount of time, and i decided that what i wanted to do was try to write it for people who are interested in history, who are interested in government, people who like to feel that they were there in the room when decisions were made, and get a sense of the people and what the differences were or what the agreements were, how it worked. but the website that we created with these hundreds and hundreds of documents, and thousands of pages, would give a reader a chance to read the book, look at an end to note, and then go and see the entire memo. if i quoted a parrot, they can go and read the entire memorandum. i guess parley i wanted to do it because i am able to do it. have the time and i have the
archives and the interest, and i had never done it before. many people have written books. i have never written a book. >> who paid for all this? >> i did. >> out of your own pocket? >> yes. >> has it ever been done before, that you know of? >> not that i know of. i am sure there is someone who must have done it. what we have done is, we have taken all of these primary source documents, in large measure i have written, for whatever reason over so many decades, and digitized them. then you can research it. you can go in and look by keyword or name are date. the book is rooted in the archives. it is what it is. it says what happened, i think. >> i know when i got on, i could type in names of people i had known and it would come up.
i guess you could actually click on a letter or an article on the end notes, which i don't think i have ever seen before, and as you will see, i will read back to you some of the things people have written and maybe even use your own in notes against you. >> it is inevitable. if your arm to put that much out there, someone is going to find something -- if you are going to put that much out there. there will be misspellings, there will be names wrong, but these were working documents, things that actually were part of how things worked. >> what you think it cost? >> it has caused quite a bit. fortunately, life has been good. i spent 20 years in the private sector and i have been able to do that. >> de think it cost half a million, $1 million? >> i don't want to guess. >> what do you hope to get from it? >> i hope to have produced a
book, which i think i have, that will interest people in public service, that will inform serious people about how decisions are made, and the fact that those are tough jobs and the people in them or honorable people and they have to make decisions with imperfect information, inevitably. i hope that will have a glimpse of what the times that i have lived have been, this third of our country's history. i was serving in congress during the vietnam war and during the civil rights marches and when the city of washington, d.c was in flames after martin luther king was killed. they will get a sense of the fact that president lyndon johnson could barely used the white house because of the demonstrators against the war in vietnam. we all have a tendency to think of the times we are living in a somewhat unique and distinctive, and of course, they are
different. in my 78 years, i have seen an awful lot of turmoil in the country and difficulties in the country. i must say i also hope that people will read this and see how important the all volunteer military has been. if you think about it, back in the 1960's, before president nixon and milton friedman and a whole group of people had pushed for a volunteer army, and president nixon managed to get it through the congress. before that, there were people serving who did not want to serve and our military. everyone there today is there because they want to be. the mood in the country is so different as a result of that. compared to the vietnam war, what is going on today in iraq and afghanistan, the american people are proud of the military, and the military are proud what they are doing. they know what they are doing
and why they are doing it. that is why decided i wanted the proceeds of the books to go to those men women in uniform and their families and to the children of the fallen. that is what will happen to the proceeds. >> if you get on the dollar rumsfeld foundation website, you see that you have around $10 million, you have given money away -- scholarship money away. how do you choose those people, and why are you doing that? >> i have had people work for me and governments who never could have gotten a master's or a ph.d. on their own. there was a foundation that was supporting the type of thing for people who needed the assistance. joyce and i decided we would give some money each year, and we have spotters around the country at 12 or 15 different universities to make
recommendations to us, and then we select them and provide the funds they need, tuition and stipends they need, particularly people who are interested in public service. they are studying things like economics our government or international affairs, things that relate to government, with the thought that maybe someday they will participate in helping to guide and direct our country. >> go back to the book itself. how much did you personally right? >> i wrote a lot. i don't know quite how to answer, because what i would do is dictate and then it would be transcribed. then our team of people would fact check and recast it. i suppose i have been over every word in its somewhere between 15 and 20 times, editing and editing, which is what i do. we took some of the material,
things i dictated years ago, cable sent memoranda and the like. >> are you tired of this? writing and talking about it? i have seen you on fox several times, abc, cbs, i have read a lot of interviews in publications. is this getting old? >> no, not at all. i enjoyed doing it, as i said, and i think it is clear that i feel very fortunate to have been able to serve in government over so many different decades in so many different roles. i find it interesting. i also never had written a book before, and the thing i have always enjoyed in life most is learning. this has been an opportunity for me to learn, which makes it particularly interesting. if you do something over and over again, it can get a little
tiring, but i have never written a book, and it has been a challenge. we put together this wonderful team of people and work hard on it and enjoy it, and i am enjoying having a chance to talk about the book and how we did it and why we did it. >> you told fred barnes that you called seven people before the book was published to tell them what to expect in it. maybe you wrote 20 others. explain that, and why did you call them, and he did to call? >> i remember calling president bush and vice president cheney and colin powell and condoleezza rice, maybe one or two others. then i sent it out -- a separate memo out to a lot of people. this has not been done before. there is going to be a website where someone can go in, and
they are going in in large numbers. i thought the people ought to know that their names are in some of these memos, and i did not want them to be surprised. i told all of them i doubted if there was a single memo in there that referenced them that they had not already seen. it would be something i had sent to them earlier or they had sent to me, or where we were discussing something. the only surprise would be that suddenly a bunch of people on known to me or them would be going into the website and seeing these memos and reading them. >> a couple of cases where a memo was classified and you got the defense department to declassified. my first reaction was, if i want one of those, i have to go to the freedom of information act to do it. is that a little bit unfair to is that a little bit unfair to the outside world that you can get something declassified and i could not? >> i don't think so. i was a u.s. ambassador to nato back in 1973 or 1974.
there are certain things where they just declassify it after a certain period. i was president reagan's middle east envoy in the 1980's. meeting with saddam hussein and those things, and large actions of those things are automatically be classified. then we had a number of things that i dictated that reclassified only because there were times since it. the pentagon does this in the normal course of things. >> i have a whole bunch of coverings of your book, both good and bad. who made the decision to give the first interviews to abc, and why? >> i don't know, i suppose the various networks indicate they would like to do it, and then that publishers would discuss it
and we would end up discussing it and someone in the group would say i would recommend this or that, and then that would happen. >> did having anything to do with diane sawyer and you working together years ago? >> we never really work together. she was in the white house press office in the nixon administration, but we never worked closely together at all. >> i want to run the opening to "nightline." all this is this the introduction, and i want to get your reaction. have you seen this? >> i have not. >> let's run it and get your reaction. >> tonight, world exclusive, diane sawyer goes head-to-head with donald rumsfeld in a tv first. the former secretary of defense opens up as never before.
the controversies, the worse, the weapons of mass destruction, and the question, what did he get wrong? plus the man whose public face has been steadily defiance get emotional for the first time about his private trowels at home during his tenure at the pentagon. and i opening, surprising, revelatory interview starts right now. >> from the global resources of abc news, which sent the mcfadden in new york city, this is "nightline, february 7, 2011." >> would issue reaction to the don rumsfeld book? -- what is your reaction to the don rumsfeld what? >> i know what i think about the book, i like it. >> i mean the way it is treated. >> it sounds like it is hyped. i guess they want people to watch their television shows and that is why they do it that way.
the book has been characterized quite differently by other people as a very serious, historical book that people interested in history will read. >> what is your reaction -- they >> what is your reaction -- they show you breaking down on camera into cases. what is your reaction to seeing that? >> i don't know what my reaction is. happened. my wife was terribly sick and almost died at one point, and my dad had alzheimer's. it is something that is hard to talk about or think about. those are things that i am not normally discussing. she asked the questions, and i answered them as best i could. >> have you seen christopher dickies review of your book in bloomberg business news? >> no, i haven't. > >> he says he has no you for 15
years and he likes your book. >> i have seen some negative comments on the book, and it sounded like they had not read it, but that sounds like a person who has read it and that is what he thinks, and people can think what they think. that is the way our country works. >> interrupt me at anytime. i am going to read the column from last friday, february 11. did you see that chris mark critz i have not. >> -- the dc that? >> i have not. >> that is just inaccurate. in the book, as i discussed at some length -- think about this. colin powell is the one who made
the presentation at the united nations. he probably had more experience dealing with intelligence materials than anyone, including the director of the cia. one of the intelligence elements reported to him at the department of state, he spent days working on it. he prepared a speech for the world which he believed every single word in it, let there be no doubt. president bush believed every word he said, as did vice- president cheney and condoleezza rice and as did i.. how to know quite characterize a person who would come to that conclusion, when all the evidence is to the contrary. the congress, republicans and democrats alike, looked at the same intelligence and voted overwhelmingly for the resolution for president bush. the political leadership in the congress, hillary clinton, bill clinton, john kerry, one after
another, al gore, were in support. now, when things did not go well, obviously they shifted their positions somewhat. you can go back, the record is clear. the intelligence agencies of the united kingdom and france and other countries all were in agreement. it's terribly unfair to suggest that anyone was pulling the wool over anyone's eyes. it is just flat not true. >> we were talking about major combat operations. there was nothing inaccurate there at all. i don't know how many times i said that anyone who tells you how long is going to last, how much it's going to cost or how many lives will be lost is making a mistake, because people almost always are wrong.
>> maureen dowd. >> you have got to be kidding. >> his memoir is like a living breathing version of himself. >> she must not have read it. anyone who has read it knows that i tried to talk about things, disappointments or things that one might regret, and i did or do regret. i think what i have done is to try to set out not only my recollections and my opinions, but also documentation that supports it. >> did you read that stuff? >> no. maureen dowd, my goodness gracious, you have to be
kidding. she has a fixation, apparently, and she is cynical. my wife once read one and she said, i hope that woman is not as cynical in all of her life as she is in her column, because it would be such an unhappy life. >> how you filter information now that you are in civilian life? >> i obviously use a computer, and i listen to news programs occasionally. and i read a lot. kai reed newspapers. >> in the early part of your book, you psych whitaker chambers as having an impact on your life. >> the book "witness" was an important book and i read it at an important time in my life. i was in college, and i watched the mccarthy hearings and they had an impact on me. it was the opportunity to see
it was the opportunity to see the congress going beyond its proper role. >> what was it about that whole episode? >> the cold war was on, and here was a man it was a communist, a confessed communist, and the hearings in the congress, there hearings in the congress, there was alger hiss on the one side, he was attractive and had gone to the nine schools, and no one was supporting him. when it all sorted out, it turns out that witter chambers was correct and alger hiss had known him and had been a communist. that twist, what everyone seemed to think was not the case, was
helpful. also at the time the soviet union was aggressive and expanding in several continents. there was concern about the influence of communism in the world, and i was studying government and political science in school. so it had an effect. >> are there other things like that that still are with few years later? >> adlai stevenson's speech at my senior banquet in 1954 college was unquestionably a speech that was inspiring. it was elegant, eloquent, it was pointed to young men getting ready to go off and served in the military, and it left me with a clearer understanding that all of us have an obligation to participate and to help guide and direct our
country, and civic responsibility. i hope people will read it. i have put that speech on my website so it might inspire other people. >> i want to show you some video from 20 years ago. this was a conference on the presidency on long island. it is only 30 seconds and it will speak for itself. >> so many people would come up to me when i was chief of staff and say this is a goofy, the president is making a terrible mistake. we have to give him to change his mind. i would say to review, we will make an appointment, we would take the guy in there and smoke would be coming out of his ears. he would walk into the president's office, genuflect, kiss his ring, walk out and say that should have set him straight. they'd turn absolutely to jelly when they walk into the oval office. i must say i found it frustrating. >> how often did you see that
happen? >> all the time. i have been collecting things i called rumsfeld rules. they are inside a lot of people smarter than i am. one of them is that if you have proximity to a president, you automatically have an obligation to tell him the truth and what you really believe. people who do not have proximity and only go in and see him occasionally simply don't want to do it. they will tell me and say this is terrible. jerry ford has got to do this or george of the bush has to do that, he is making a big mistake. then you put him in there and they just cannot get it out. it is their one chance and i want a president to know they like him and wish him well and are positive about him generally, and they don't want to use their brief moment with the present debt to open old wounds. >> can you remember when you
told the president exactly how you feel about things -- over and over again. >> give us an example. >> if you go to my book, i discuss a situation with gerald ford. that is unusual. the only president i have ever known who was a friend. we had served in congress together. i helped him become minority leader of the u.s. house of representatives. we had a different kind of relationship than one would normally of -- normally have a the president. i would walk into him over and over and say there will soon be memos on my website where i just say precisely what i said. i would say look, i think you are doing is flat wrong, and let me tell you why. once he was getting ready to give a speech on a program.
i went in and said, this is not good enough for a president. it is not going to do the job. i urge you to cancel your speech, take five minutes and simply say to the world a truth, this is an enormously important issue. and that you are not satisfied with what the economist and your team have put together and you are going to go back to the drawing board and get this right. he said i think this is a good program and i am going to go ahead and do it. i told him he was making a whale of a mistake. and he did. he went out and he was laughed at. do you remember this? >> yes, with inflation now. -- a whip inflation now. >> he is waving, and you are off to the right. what is the story there?
>> that was in san francisco. this woman, sara jane moore, was just across the street. his car was right in front of him, and we came out together. an elevator had come down and hit his head and scarred his head, and he was being teased about bumping his head and stumbling and so forth. he is one of the best athlete that ever served in that office. i said look, when you come out, you don't want to have chevy chase have fun at your expense about the fact you bump your head again. come now, what fast, wave, and just get right in the car and we will get out to the airport. he came out, and she shot a bullet that went right by his head, right by my head, right by the secret service man is head and into the wall of the st.
francis hotel prepared we pushed him into the backseat of the car and the secret service guys and i were on top of him, and the car sped out of town. six or eight blocks later you could hear him saying you guys get off, you are heavy. fortunately, he was not hit. it was the second time someone had tried to assassinate him in california. the other time was in sacramento in the park as we work going in to see jerry brown. >> that was squeaky fromme. she is sorry she missed, and she wanted to create chaos, this sara jane moore. >> what does that do to you, and to him, this near miss? >> we got him a bulletproof vest, finally, and he wore it twice. for me, but it told me was, it
is practically impossible to protect a person. if you are a politician in you are out seeing people and doing things, the person who tries to do it can be killed or captured, generally, but it is just not possible to protect a person 24 hours a day against every conceivable type of attack. >> there is a lot about connections in the book, people you knew. i want to run another clip from that session you had that will get us to the next session about business and government. >> as in business, i think success in government requires an orientation to the customer. the only reason for government to exist is to serve the people. it is important for people in the white house to remember that. that't know quite why is
that fact is so easily overlooked. i suppose in business, if you overlook it, you go out of business, but in government, it just goes on and on and on. >> how many years in business? more than 20. i was chief executive of -- delhi as science over the years. >> how do characterize the difference between running a for-profit business, stock market, the whole thing, and running a government agency like the department of defense? >> in business, if you do poorly, the business goes out of business. government does not end. government can do quite poorly over a long period of time and it just goes on and on and on. another thing about business is, human beings, unless you
are einstein or mozart and you go off by yourself and do go off by yourself and do something, all the rest of us deal with other people. in business, you lay out a course of action, try it, it people to help you do it. the people do well, you reward them. if they do not, you get other people to help do it. if it does well, you encourage it and keep it going. it doesn't do well, you stop it. in government, it is quite different. in government, when i was running the office of economic opportunity, would try something, and before we could even get it going, the congress wanted an oversight hearing. people kept pulling it up by the
rich to see helen was doing, and that is the first wave being the best way to kill it. we tried certain types of family assistance and welfare, performance contracting in education. but no one would let them be there long enough to see if they would work. they always wanted to examine it, debated, discussed it, ♪. you try something, if it doesn't work, you stop it. if something doesn't work in government, there are investigations. the chances of doing -- having something succeed in business are vastly greater. in government, because of something never ending, it does not have to stop if it doesn't work well. that is not the case. >> the day we are taking this, monday, february 14, this
article in usa today. you saw this up close. you talk about something called the iron triangle in your book. what is it, and i want to ask you about things like this. >> the iron triangle is the fact that the bureaucracy and the department of defense is relatively permanent. the defense contractors, that is an institution that exist in our society that is relatively permanent. the congress of the united states, the members and their staffs change relatively limited in any given election cycle. the three of them get together and develop a comfort level as to what ought to be. if someone comes in and wants to change that, namely a president
gets elected. take president george w. bush. he outlined what he thought ought to happen, how the department of defense could be brought into the 21st century, and any changes that are made tend to be made over the objection of the congress, the defense contractors, and the permanent bureaucracy. they are comfortable with the way it is. they concluded that is the way it ought to be, and a president comes into office with different views, there tends to be natural opposition to it. for example, the crusader program. i cannot think of a worse name in this environment, but it was an enormous artillery piece that took two aircraft to move anywhere in the world. certainly not something that was appropriate for the 21st century and the asymmetric warfare we are facing. the opposition to it was just
incredible. the retired community in the army, the active duty community in the army, civilian contractors, congress -- i would give you an example as a data point. when i was secretary of defense in the 1970's, the defense authorization bill was 74 pages long. when i came back in the year 2001, if i am not mistaken, the defense offered a position bill -- the defense authorization bill was over 500 pages. the staff and congress ballooned by multiple of two or three. the continuing layering of requirements from the congress generally stimulated either by the defense community or stimulated by the bureaucracy because they want to perpetuate something, it ends up with rules and requirements, reports, all of these things, hundreds of
reports required by the part of defense. defense. hundreds of letters have to be answered for all kinds of detailed things. the movement away from legislative oversight of a broad, substantial of nature, which would be very constructive if hearings were held on important things, going down to micromanagement. the closest thing i can think ands gulliver's travels lilliputian would put the red over bolivar. not one of those threads may indeed difference, but when you put hundreds of these threads over the dollar, he could not get up. that is basically what is happening in the department of defense. >> to presidents have tried to eliminate funding for a backup engine on the fighter jets.
it goes into the details of how much money these industries are giving to the members of congress. congress. with the trouble we are in economically, how is this ever going to stop, when the defense determine who needs these weapons says no, and congress said yes? >> every year there was another 10 or $12 billion that the congress added to our legislation that we did not want, that we argue, please do not put that in there. it is for things and had nothing to do with the defense budget. the implication of your question is sure, we have serious economic problems in this country, but there is no way to
balance this budget of the defense department. >> how do we stop this throughout government? >> entitlements and are basically where the money goes. we are spending a relatively small percentage of our gdp on defense, compared for example to back in the eisenhower and kennedy era. we were spending 10% and we are now down to 3% or 4%. while you are robbing secretary of defense, we are getting -- while you were off being secretary of defense, we were getting phone calls to or call- in show every day. this is a 1998 letter that you signed. you were a civilian, and you signed it. i want to ask about it, or read
if you look over on the screen, you will see his son did. those people on the right, all those people were out of government at the time. in the administration of george .ush, they come enin there you are heading up the defense department. in so many ways, this letter was successful. >> it is interesting, because that was 1998. the democratic congress passed a resolution that made the policy of the united states of america regime change in iraq, and president clinton agreed with that and signed it.
so there was broad agreement in both political parties back in the 1990's. here you had a country that was on the state department's terrorist list, a country that invaded kuwait. you had a country that had engaged in a long war with iran. yet a country that was shooting at american airplanes almost every day as the u.k. and u.s. aircraft patrol the no-fly zones in the northern and southern part of iraq. if you had a country that had rejected some 17 un resolutions. i don't think it is surprising that a number of people in both political parties held that view. >> these are the people that moved into the administration who had that view before they got into the administration. >> but it was broadly supported by the democrats and president clinton. beck's this outfit was set up by robert kaydin -- robert kaydin
and the office was located at the weekly standard. i just wonder if you remember why you signed that letter and what the circumstances were around it. people called us all the time and said we should have known this was coming because these guys all agree to it before hand. >> interesting. it is a matter of public record. people said it publicly and president clinton agreed and the democratic house and senate agreed. how can anyone use the word conspiracy? >> you probably have not heard some of our callers. the point i want you to talk about is the idea that all of you knew each other than, you agree on that point and you came into government. it is no surprise that you carry that out. >> i had no intention of coming back in government, you can be sure of that. that was a big surprise to me. president george w. bush did not
sign that. >> dick cheney signed the original letter the year before setting up the whole project. >> president bush did not sign. he was the president. he is the one who made the decision. i think using the word conspiracy is a real unfortunate thing. >> i am not using that word. >> there are people who say things like that, but there is not any shred of legitimacy to the use of that word. >> this comes from an interview with the fellow i did on a book about you. you tell us what is true and what is not true. >> i cannot be the first person
to tell you that the first thing i learned here that surprised me was that of rumsfeld is a close friend of dan rather and co owns a ranch with him somewhere. redefine that? >> when i was interviewing his friends, one of them just mentioned, by the way, i think he and dan rather on property together in new mexico. i said that is an interesting tidbit. dan rather is not a particular ally of republicans and rumsfeld is a lifelong republican. i call rumsfeld 8, and he said he thinks that is urban legend. two days later he comes back and says yes, they honor ranch together in new mexico. they met during the nixon administration when rather cover the white house and have remained very close friends ever since. >> the facts are these. i did not know dan rather and we were not close friends.
our children went to school together in washington d.c. and our wives were close friends, and dan and i became friends. he was covering the white house and i was in government. i did not deal with him from a press standpoint at all. it was more of a neighborhood type thing. type thing. at a certain point, and it was not house, new mexico. it is over east of santa fay, i cannot remember the name of the town. there were five of us who owned a ranch, just different people, different relationships, and we never used it much. it was an investment. i have known dan over the years. i have not seen him in ages. >> do you still have ownership
at all? >> no, that was in the 1970's and 1980's. it has been 10, 15, 20 years since we had that ranch. since we had that ranch. near las vegas, new mexico, not las vegas, nevada. >> embedding of journalist in the iraq war, whose idea was it? >> i don't know precisely. i know who i heard it from first, it was the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. she had been working with her staff and various people discussing whether it was a good idea or not. at some moment she came to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and me and said that she believed that this would be a good idea, that we could allow journalists to go right into the units that were fighting the war in afghanistan and
eventually in iraq. let them see for themselves what the men and women in uniform were doing and how they were doing it. the downside to that obviously is, if you have journalist embedded in your units, you have to protect them. you have to feed them, transport them and move them around. you don't want them saying things that would put our troops in jeopardy by revealing what was going to be done next or that type of thing. she was persuasive, and eventually dick myers and i both like the idea and we agreed and she set about doing it, and did very, very well. i think an awful lot of young journalists, men and women, were willing to put themselves at risk, and you have to credit them for that. that had a chance to see how
truly magnificent the men and women in uniform are, the wonderful job they do, how well they do it and how professional and proud they are of what they do. in that they are good people, people who live next door to all of us. we decided that was a good idea, and we did it. for a long time, it worked rather well. >> you remember how the media covered vietnam. now you have been through this. if the secretary of defense comes to you in the future and says what should i do, we are faced with this again, would you recommend embedding to them? >> i would. i think an awful lot of journalists have never served in the military, and i think it probably a regardless of what they wrote or saw or what their editors wanted them to write, they saw how truly wonderful these young men and women are
who volunteer to serve our country. i think that is good. these people in journalism have a responsibility. they will be writing for the rest of their lives, probably, and if they know these people are good people, they are decent and hardworking and brave and they are trying to do what is right, and they make mistakes, you bet. will they see things that are going to be not positive for the military or the administration or the armed forces generally? yes, they will. do they get pressure from their editors who are competing to sell newspapers or get advertising people to support their television programs? yes, they get pressure. the old story is, if it bleeds, it leads. sometimes they get in a hurry. can you live with that? sure. i would recommend they do it.
>> there is a little story in here where toy clark is mentioned. there are two reasons i want to bring it up. you are the secretary of defense and you have a relationship with everybody else in the defense department on the level of you are mr. secretary. the store i want to ask you about is the story on the day of 9/11. you had been rescuing people and you had been at the pentagon until 11:00 at night. she asked you if you had called your wife. do you remember this? >> i do. when you say i was resting people, i was out there for very short time. i helped out briefly and got right back to my office. i don't know what time it was. 11:00 at night.
we had had a tough day and the country had had a tough day, hundreds and hundreds and thousands of people had been killed, the building was smoking and burning, and they were still pulling people out of the charred remains of that area where the american airlines plane hit our building. i had gone back to the office and we were trying to sort through. i wanted to keep the building open. i did not want the terrace to shut us down, and we were trying to see if that would be possible. at some moment she looked at me and said, have you called mrs. r? i just said no, and she blurted out you s.o.b.. it was a stunner. i probably said you have a
point. i have talked to mike about that sense, and she said it never crossed her mind. we had been married 46 years or something. she said she knew where i was. she was hearing reports. i knew where she was. she had been at the defense intelligence agency getting a briefing. she did not have any doubt in her mind but that i had things i had to do. so it was not a problem. toy clark was looking at it as a wife and spouse, and it was a perfectly understandable reaction, i suppose. i don't know what i said, but are probably said you are right. are probably said you are right. >> president you work around and observed over the years -- this is not about politics.
which president in your experience was the best suited to run the country, not from public relations standpoint. you talk a lot in the book about white house systems and the different meetings and all that you had, but which one was best equipped to run the country? >> you have to appreciate that they were all very different. we have to rahm -- we have to remind ourselves that the times the search for notably different. the skill sets or the backgrounds that might be most beneficial at one time might not be quite as beneficial in another. they also were different at different stages of their presidency. if the serbs over time, they might have come in with some strengths and weaknesses in the if they served over time. as the ball, the weaknesses might have very well disappeared in their strings became greater. so it is a hard question to
answer. i think that from the time he was there, the fact that gerald r. ford had such basic human decency and was so naturally a human being that people could appreciate, i think that coming in as he did when the reservoir of trust had been trained in our country, following the only president in our history to resign, was a terribly difficult thing, and i think he helped kill the country, and that was important. ronald reagan unquestionably had a strategic sense that was directionally correct an enormously helpful to our country in terms of ending the cold war. he did an awful lot that was right.
dwight eisenhower had a largely successful presidency. richard nixon, an enormously talented man with a wonderful mind and a seriousness of purpose, and brought an enormously talented team of people into government and affected the course of government for decades thereafter. people like henry kissinger and alan greenspan and some of the others. >> we are out of time. why did you not take the job of committee to reelect the president of richard nixon in 1972? >> i was -- adjusted not have any interest in doing it. >> the book is called "known and unknown." donald rumsfeld is our guest. thank you very much for being here.
>> for a dvd copy of this program, called 1-877-662-7726. for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit our website. "q&a" programs are also available as c-span podcasts. >> tonight, british prime minister david cameron response to concerns about the recent rise in unemployment and prime ministers questions. after that, look it highlights from question period in the canadian house of commons with prime minister stephen harper. remarks from secretary hillary clinton on afghanistan and pakistan. andue