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CNN Larry King Live
Secret U.S. Documents Leaked
Aired November 29, 2010 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, U.S. diplomacy exposed. Secret, sensitive, even embarrassing embassy cables published by WikiLeaks for the whole world to see.
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: There is nothing brave about sabotaging the peaceful relations between nations.
KING: President Obama orders a security review after speaking his mind.
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president was, as an understatement, not pleased.
KING: Do the leaks compromise national security? Are lives in jeopardy?
Journalist Bob Woodward and others are here to tell us what it all means for Americans standings with our allies and our enemies, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Jon Bon Jovi was scheduled to be with us tonight. We had taped him earlier and will air next week.
Since this weekend, the whistle-blowing Web site WikiLeaks has published hundreds of classified U.S. diplomatic messages. The first of what the organization says is a quarter million similar documents.
In addition to being published on WikiLeaks' Web site, the documents were acquired in advance by five major newspapers in Europe and the U.S. CNN, rather, declined a last-minute offer to discuss advanced access to some of the documents because of a confidentiality agreement requested by WikiLeaks that CNN considered unacceptable.
CNN has committed to carefully and responsibly reporting on the documents already published by WikiLeaks and the five newspapers. Focusing not only on what the leaked documents say, but also what their publication means for global relations and U.S. diplomacy.
Here to discuss all of this, Daniel Ellsberg, former military analyst. In 1971, he leaked the so-called "Pentagon Papers," a secret study of U.S. decision making about Vietnam to the media. He's the focus of the 2009 documentary, "The Most Dangerous Man in America."
Jamie Rubin served as chief spokesperson for the State Department and assistant secretary of state public affairs during the Clinton administration. He's now adjunct professor at Columbia University School of International Public Affairs.
And finally, Michael Hastings, contributing editor, "Rolling Stone." His article, "The Runaway General," led to the ousting of General Stanley McChrystal as commander of the U.S. coalition forces in Afghanistan. And he's the author of "I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story."
OK, Daniel, what do you make of all of this? Should this have been published? Should we know what secrets -- what things in the diplomatic area are being said by one official to another? Is that our right to know?
DANIEL ELLSBERG, FORMER U.S. MILITARY ANALYST: Well, nothing in those documents, embarrassing as they are to some people and their kind of snarky comments -- nothing remotely compared to what Michael Hastings published what he overheard in General McChrystal's headquarters, and I thought properly published.
It really threw into question civilian control of the military and I think President Obama made the right decision when he acted on Michael Hastings' reporting.
So in other words, presidents can learn things from reporting that they don't know through channels.
KING: And knowing how you release things, what should not be reported?
ELLSBERG: All kind of things.
ELLSBERG: Mostly things that are above the classification of this. Communications, intelligence, the names of covert agents, for instance, Valerie Plame's name should not have been revealed by Scooter Libby or Karl Rove or Dick Cheney. That was irresponsible.
In fact, I don't think I ever had a colleague who would have done that. She was doing important secret work --
ELLSBERG: Why her true identity being secret, and they destroyed her career.
KING: James Rubin, what do you make of this?
JAMES RUBIN, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN, CLINTON ADMIN.: Well, I think there's no question that all of these documents are compelling read for those of us interested in foreign affairs. They're kinds of documents I haven't seen now for several years so I've enjoyed reading them.
I'd learned some details. But I think what I make of it overall is that somehow an organization that was originally intending perhaps to affect the debate in this country about the Iraq war, say, or the war in Afghanistan has somehow morphed into an anti-American organization whose very purpose appears to be to weaken the ability of State Department diplomats to do their job.
And the irony, Larry, is that diplomats at the State Department have really not many tools at their disposal. It's not like the Pentagon that has weapons or the Treasury Department that has financial wherewithal.
The State Department's basic tool is the trust it develops with foreign governments, diplomats in those countries, human rights workers in those countries, or others who are sharing information based on trust.
And no matter what any of the organization's proponents will say about this or supporters, in one way or another, the trust between the United States and many foreign governments has been weakened. It hasn't been destroyed forever, but it's been weakened.
And I think there will be occasions when things that might have happened otherwise, whether that's attacking a terrorist cell in Yemen or sharing the views of the king of Saudi Arabia, things that would have been said before may not be said. And that can hurt us for no apparent purpose.
There's no policy debate. It's not like Daniel Ellsberg's case where the Vietnam War Pentagon papers showed the government lying to its people about the cause of the war or the approach of the war.
All of this shows is that the U.S. government is doing pretty much the same thing in private -- trying to stop Iran from getting a nuclear pep and North Korea from advancing its cause. The same thing in private as it's doing in public.
KING: All right.
RUBIN: So --
RUBIN: The whole rationale has been thrown overboard.
KING: Michael, what are your thoughts? Do you think WikiLeaks is anti-American?
MICHAEL HASTINGS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, ROLLING STONE: No, not at all. And I'm a fan of the State Department, but this idea that this WikiLeaks dump is going to undermine American credibility overseas, I think, is somewhat laughable.
I think we need to put this in the larger context of responsible foreign policy. And over the past decade, we've seen a war launched in Iraq that was totally irresponsible, while we ignored a war in Afghanistan for eight years, and now we learn in these documents that we're spying on our -- we're telling our diplomats to spy on our allies, which is also seems to be somewhat irresponsible.
Those things and our unilateral action we've taken over the past decade have done much more to undermine American standing with their allies than WikiLeaks and Julian Assange could if they published 100,000 documents every day for the next 20 years.
KING: The Obama administration is scrambling, of course, to deal with the fallout from this latest document released by WikiLeaks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has condemned the disclosure. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: So let's be clear. This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community, the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity.
I am confident that the partnerships that the Obama administration has worked so hard to build will withstand this challenge.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Daniel, doesn't she have a point?
ELLSBERG: Well, I think there hasn't been a secretary of state since the Second World War who wouldn't have said exactly the same words about the Pentagon papers. And as a matter of fact, the secretary of state then, Secretary Rogers and the latest Secretary of State Henry Kissinger did say almost exactly the same words.
That's why they saw me as the most dangerous man, I'm sure, in America. I'm sure they see Julian Assange now as the most dangerous man in America. The truth-teller is potentially embarrassing.
KING: It doesn't --
ELLSBERG: Likewise Bradley Manning.
KING: Doesn't James Rubin and Secretary Clinton have a point? Even though every secretary is --
ELLSBERG: Very, very --
KING: Does she not have a point?
ELLSBERG: The -- if there's really no criterion other than the diplomats can lie abroad for their country without fear of being embarrassed by it by anybody at home in a democracy, if this was a monarchy or a dictatorship where there was no public responsibility for public policy at all, and no real need for the public to know more about what policy lies ahead, and what it's lied -- what is we're doing right now, then there really wouldn't be any strong reason for the public to be informed of this sort of stuff.
But actually there is. For example, the notion that there's really nothing that the American people should know in this or that everything is -- that everything is being said in public that is being said in private, quite the contrary.
When the foreign minister or the deputy prime minister actually of Yemen says, in a joke, I lied to parliament saying that the cruise missiles, some of which, by the way, have killed Yemeni district chiefs, not al Qaeda, by mistakes -- I lied to parliament and said they were ours, not yours. And the Prime Minister Ali -- the president, said yes, well, continue to say that they're ours. We were lying at the same time.
When we go along with that, we're lying to the American public. Shouldn't we know who we're shooting cruise missiles at?
RUBIN: Larry, I -- Larry --
KING: We'll have James reply -- James, I'll have your reply right after this.
KING: We should mention that none of the diplomatic documents disclosed thus far is regarded as top secret. In fact, many aren't even classified.
All right, James, how do you respond to Daniel's point?
RUBIN: Well, I'd like to say first of all that Daniel Ellsberg was involved in a fundamental issue of national security, a war, that many people in this country didn't believe in. Some did.
And he made his decision, and "The New York Times" made their decision. But that was an issue of principle. That was an issue where there was a war going on and there were strong views on both sides.
That's not what this is. This is a case of journalists, quite understandably, finding fascinating all the details of diplomatic exchanges. But some of them, particularly Mr. Hastings, not having a very firm grasp of what the diplomatic community is all about.
If governments and the rest of the world don't believe that when they share information with the United States government that that can be kept secret, they're not going to tell us certain things. That's simply a fact.
And it's not a criticism of Mr. Hastings to point out that in other cases where sources have been revealed or other governments have chosen to do things differently, actions, operations, policies can't be pursued. The State Department is trying to solve issues peacefully most of the time. And this anti-war organization somehow got all confused in what it was doing when it got access to all these documents, and has basically put all the diplomats who have done all this hard work, talked to human rights workers, talked to foreign governments, and wrote it all down as their job and everyone now is looking at it.
That's not a good thing for the United States, Larry. It's a bad thing for the United States.
KING: Michael --
HASTINGS: I have a pretty -- I have a pretty clear idea how things go in diplomatic circles, and I've been a firsthand witness of failure of diplomacy many times over the past few years.
I'd like to point out that protecting the king of Saudi Arabia, one of the most authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and sort of concocting a scheme so he can lie to his population to protect our interest, and then doing the same thing with Yemen as Daniel Ellsberg mentioned, to sort of cut these backroom deals where these authoritarian leaders are lying to their population on our behalf is the most undemocratic thing one can imagine.
And I think trying to smear WikiLeaks as anti-American this or that totally misses the point. This is an organization that supports democracy, that supports freedom and supports transparency.
And when WikiLeaks breaks stories about China and Russia and other governments, we applaud them. And I think we have to hold ourselves to the same standards. And I don't think that we're -- that the fallout that's being claimed about the damage this is going to do is going to actually come to pass, as it hasn't in the previous two cases with Iraq and Afghanistan.
KING: All right. I don't want to gang up on James. Do you want to make a quick point, Daniel? And then James can reply.
ELLSBERG: Yes, what is the secret that runs through a plot of this diplomatic -- and it is actually something for the public to know is how sensitive the various countries, not only Yemen, but really a number of countries in the Middle East, especially in Muslim countries.
How sensitive they are that we keep the secret that they're helping us, that they're working with us. Now why does that have to be secret? Because their population is very opposed to their helping us, which puts quite a damper and a constraint on our ability to deal with the war on terror.
We need their cooperation. Why is their public so opposed to it? Because we are pursuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which I have to say to Jamie Rubin, I am as outraged by as I ever was about Vietnam.
Indeed, the Iraq war was a clearly blatant case of aggression. A crime against the peace. It was outrageous that Americans were involved by their leadership in that.
The escalation in Afghanistan is as foolish, unwise, reckless, irresponsible. Michael Hastings put it very well. Whatever Assange did or will do in the rest of his life, or Bradley Manning, can't compare in the recklessness and irresponsibility of these administration.
KING: All right. And we'll take a break and I'll have James Rubin respond to all this right after this.
KING: All right, Mr. Rubin, it's your platform. Mister -- I don't want to have ganged up on you, but Ellsberg and Hastings are in agreement. And it's two against one, so go.
RUBIN: OK, Larry.
Well, they do appear to be in agreement about the Iraq war being a bad thing for the United States, and they may even agree on Afghanistan for all I know. But that's not really the point. And I think people who are against the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan have every right to be against the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
People who don't want the king of Saudi Arabia to lie to his own people should go out and do something about it. But the point here in that we're the United States, we're trying to respect the views of other governments and people from the left, which your two guests clearly are, have long said the United States shouldn't impose our will on other countries and our culture and our attitudes.
The king of Saudi Arabia, the president of Yemen, this is their culture. This is their way they want to do business. We have to respect that.
I can assure you that the U.S. government would prefer to be able to acknowledge publicly the extent of its cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Yemen, but those governments don't want to.
And so if Mr. Assange or Dan Ellsberg or Mr. Hastings want to go report on something happening in Saudi Arabia, let them do that.
The United States government has to protect our own people. And one of the ways -- not the only way, but one of the ways it does that is to make arrangements with foreign governments to act against terrorists.
And Mr. Hastings seems to have a very casual view of all of this. And he's sure based on all the things that he knows in his life that none of this will make any difference. And I'm telling you, having actually served in government, having spent eight years in the State Department, but also being a pretty big advocate of freedom of the press, that sometimes secrets actually matter. And to draw a broad brush and just throw out 250,000 documents without reference to any specific policy you're opposing or supporting without reference to any particular goal other than secrecy being unraveled for its own sake, seems to me to be missing the purpose of good journalism.
Bob Woodward did good journalism. He uncovered Watergate. Other reporters in recent times for other newspapers have done great journalism.
This is not great journalism. This is stealing documents and putting them out on the Internet.
KING: Well --
RUBIN: And that harms the ability of the United States government to protect its people and many other human rights workers and others around the world that presumably Mr. Hastings and Mr. Ellsberg would be supportive of, who have shared --
RUBIN: -- their information with the U.S. and now we're reading about it in the "Guardian" or --
RUBIN: Or the "Der Spiegel."
HASTINGS: Well, I think WikiLeaks so far has handled these documents responsibly. But let's talk about terrorism, which Mr. Rubin mentioned that I have a very casual view about.
I actually don't. And the question is, is the foreign policy we're pursuing actually protecting us from terrorists? Is -- when we are cutting deals and launching drone strikes in Yemen that are tremendously unpopular and creating much more anti-Americanism than we would if we could find sort of peaceful means, that's actually creating more terrorists.
RUBIN: What's the peaceful means? There isn't with these people.
HASTINGS: You use --
RUBIN: Get over it.
HASTINGS: You use law enforcement, you try to arrest people, you use intelligence gathering by our 16 intelligence agencies. You don't think there's --
RUBIN: With al Qaeda cells --
HASTINGS: -- peaceful means? Then what do you -- then if you don't think there's peaceful means to try to solve some of the world's problems -- yes, do some terrorists need to be killed? Certainly. You know I have a list myself.
But at the same time, the question is, are we doing that in a way that in the end is going to harm our interests more than hurt our interests -- more than help our interests? And I think so much of our policy is often shortsighted. You know --
RUBIN: Well, Larry, it's fine to criticize our foreign policy. This isn't about that.
HASTINGS: But it is. Because we now know --
RUBIN: Mr. Hastings is a --
HASTINGS: We now know that --
RUBIN: Mister Hastings is --
KING: One at a time.
RUBIN: Mister Hastings is perfectly able --
KING: Hold it --
RUBIN: -- to go around and write his articles and criticize U.S. foreign policy. I have no problem with that.
RUBIN: God be with him. The issue is whether --
HASTINGS: Well, I'm glad you agree in some democratic principles.
RUBIN: Hold on a second. The issue is whether the U.S. government is allowed to have a private conversation with a foreign government in order to advance the interest of the American people.
And by leaking all of the documents, by making a broad brush without reference to different policies that one might agree with or disagree with, one is trying to deny the U.S. government the ability to operate.
When Mr. Hastings sits down with his editor and plans out how he's going to go after General McChrystal, I'm sure he wouldn't want those conversations reported to the world. So people --
HASTINGS: I'm happy to report those conversations to the world.
RUBIN: People who do their job in journalism --
HASTINGS: Oh, man.
RUBIN: -- in medicine, in every profession, in law. There's such thing as attorney-client privilege.
HASTINGS: Yes, and this is --
RUBIN: That's the purpose of secrecy.
HASTINGS: This is a massive --
HASTINGS: -- national security state where three million people had access to these documents, right? Where our government is creating thousands and thousands of private communications that us citizens are just supposed to take them at their word.
I don't buy that. And I think that when we have transparency --
KING: All right. All right. We have limited time but --
HASTINGS: -- and the ability to see how these policies are made, that is gong to help us make more informed decisions. For instance --
KING: We have obviously --
HASTINGS: If I can just finish this in a second. For instance, now we know that our allies -- our so-called allies in the Middle East are trying to get us to attack Iran. I think that's a very important fact that these documents showed.
RUBIN: But everybody has --
KING: We're out of time in this segment.
KING: James Rubin --
RUBIN: Secrecy matters sometimes, Larry.
KING: We mentioned Bob Woodward, he will be next. He'll be next. And we'll have you back, Daniel. This got a little carried away. But Bob Woodward is here and he's next. Don't go away.
KING: You can say a lot about this show but one thing you can't say is that we're not diverse.
Our guests the rest of the week includes Stevie Wonder, Vladimir Putin, the prime minister of Russia, Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight champion, Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world, Terry Fetta, the brilliant impressionist and ventriloquist, and Jane Levy who's written an extraordinary best-seller about Mickey Mantle.
Speaking of best-sellers, Bob Woodward is the associated editor of "The Washington Post." A number-one "New York Times" best-selling author of everything, his latest "Obama's Wars," a runaway best seller.
We'll talk to him right after we hear more of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's reaction to the latest WikiLeaks document release. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: The United States strongly condemns the illegal disclosure of classified information. It puts people's lives in danger, threatens our national security, and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
KING: All right. No one knows more about revealing things, judging things, reporting on things, you've heard the first half of this show, you've heard from the secretary of state. What do you think, Bob?
BOB WOODWARD, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I guess I would take a moderate position on this. First of all, a lot of it is not new. There was much hand wringing about the disclosure, that it was our weapon that was used in an attack in Yemen. Actually, that's been on the front page of the newspapers for a long time. It hasn't been officially confirmed, but the sources were so good and the reporting was so deep on this, and it was never denied by the government.
So a lot of these things are just not new. So the old data is being run up the flagpole. People are getting quite exercised. I think first, you have to filter it out. Is it new?
KING: What about that which is new?
WOODWARD: Well, some of it is indeed new. And I think it is known that a lot of the Arab leaders in the Middle East want to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, as the King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in one of the cables is quoted, "let's cut off the head of the snake in Iran."
They felt that way about Iraq. In some way, it's not totally surprising. I think the dilemma here is the scale; 250,000 documents is something you and I couldn't read in the rest of our lifetime. So how do you sort through it. The kind of massive publication of it, I have to label mindless.
How can anyone figure out what it means, decipher it? I do agree with Secretary Clinton on part of this. If you're just going to put this all out and not check with the government or sources that you can trust, you may get somebody killed and actually end very important operations that this country is involved in. It is clearly a dangerous time.
KING: Didn't Mr. Hastings and Mr. Ellsberg make some good points, though?
WOODWARD: Well, they feel very strongly about transparency. I share their strong feeling about transparency. We need to make the government more transparent. But to -- you know, you need to step back from this. The forces are lining up against it, not just in the government, but a lot of people are just saying, hey, wait a minute, what's going on here? Does this make sense? Is this good for the country? Is it good for diplomacy?
And as we have seen, as Ellsberg saw when he leaked the Pentagon papers, the government is quite capable of striking, investigating, and holding people accountable. I think that may happen here. At the same time, only several hundred of these documents have been examined and printed. So, you know, what's in the other 249,800. We don't know.
KING: We'll be right back with more of Bob Woodward on top of this scene, right after this.
KING: We're with Bob Woodward. All right, in your opinion, is Wikileaks a responsible organization? Or as Peter King, the congressman who is going to take home the Homeland Security Committee in the House thinks they're a terrorist organization. What do you think of Wikileaks?
WOODWARD: Well, I don't look at them as a terrorist organization. They have their purposes. They need to moderate what they're doing. There is a way to release classified material. I've dealt with it for 40 years as a journalist and author. And what you need to do is be careful, because you really can, as I was saying, get people killed.
If that's the goal of Wikileaks, then the congressman is right. I don't see evidence of that. Larry, I think one of the other issues in all of this is what are we seeing? One of the publications that devoted a lot of space to this said that the publication of these cables provides an unvarnished look at the way the government makes its really big decisions. That really is not true.
These are State Department cables. There are apparently some references to intelligence and military operations. But, as we know, policy is made in the White House by the president on these issues. There's no evidence I've seen so far -- now that may change -- that President Obama saw these documents, that they somehow figured in his decision-making. What the documents are, they're part of the building blocks of making the policy that eventually comes out of the White House, the State Department or the Pentagon.
It's not as if we are peering in and have secret tape recordings of what's going on in the White House.
KING: But what Secretary Clinton informs him might be based on information she's received from those cables, correct?
KING: So it could affect decisions.
WOODWARD: They are building blocks. They could affect decisions. But this is not -- we are not seeing some unvarnished examination of how big decisions are made. That is just not so, yet.
KING: Does this overall trouble you?
WOODWARD: You know, I think it depends in -- I hate to be so tentative here, but there's so much we don't know about what's in these other documents. Apparently none of them are top secret, as we know. The really sensitive matters are classified top secret. So, you know, what are we not seeing? I don't think we should get overly exercised and somehow think this is the Pentagon Papers.
The Pentagon Papers were details about the highest level deliberations, highest level classification and had a theme. And the theme was the government wasn't telling us the truth about the Vietnam War. I have not seen a theme. There is a suggestion that some of these things are unknown, but they are not at all of the magnitude of what went on with the Pentagon Papers.
KING: We'll take a break. When we come back, I'll ask Bob if he thinks this could possibly lead to damaged relations between countries when they learn what they're thinking about -- you know, what one country thinks the country is thinking about that country. We'll come right back.
KING: We're back with Bob Woodward. "Obama's Wars" remains a major best seller and a book everyone should read. Do you think the release of documents like this could damage relationships between countries?
WOODWARD: Not in a serious way. So somebody thinks the king or a leader is a fool or weak. I've reported just in most recent book comments made by people in the Obama administration at the very high level about President Karzai of Afghanistan, that he's delusional, not just weak, that he's on his meds, off his meds. So there are things like this that get into the press and books all of the time.
Diplomats have to live in the real world and they know. And I think Secretary Clinton made the point -- somebody said to her, imagine what we say about you. And I'm quite sure that's true. So it wouldn't be these kinds of assessments and derogatory language. If there's something revealed about secret operations or money or something like that, it could have an impact.
When I was working on the last book, I went to the intelligence people with the classified information and secrets I had, and I asked, I'm going to publish this, and in this form, will it do damage, so I could listen to their arguments. We got to one issue and one very senior person said, if you publish that, it's going to be a real problem. I asked, on the Richter Scale of zero to 10, what is it? He said a nine and made a case why it should not be published, and it's not in the book.
The stuff we've seen now in the cables and what's been published so far on the Richter Scale is a four or five. Not something really serious. Now, again, the caveat, that may change.
KING: Couldn't this affect Ahmadinejad's thinking about what his neighbors are thinking about him, and lead him to take some sort of forceful action based on that?
WOODWARD: I don't think so. What's he -- no, I don't think he would. And, you know, maybe he's delusional, too, and he thinks the Saudis love him and the Emirates love him and so forth. I doubt it. This is -- and Jamie Ruben was making the point that this is harmful to diplomacy. I'm sure it's not helpful, but sophisticated diplomats know when they say something, it may get out, even if it's done in private.
There are private meetings where there's no note taker, where only the senior people are there. And if there are notes or cables, they're given higher classification. Apparently, those are not part of what Wikileaks has. So we're getting a very mid level examination of what goes on, not a high level.
WOODWARD: You are not saying, are you, that this is much adieu about nothing?
WOODWARD: No, of course not. And it's serious and the attention it's received I think it's appropriate. I think the press is to be commended for dealing with this responsibly. "The New York Times," which had advanced access, said they are withholding some data that might harm operations or reveal sources. So it's being done in a more responsible way at their level.
But as they pointed out, Wikileaks is going to put this out and somebody is surely going to publish all of it. I mean, I guess at some point it's all going to be available on the Internet. If somebody wants to take a ten-year vacation, they can read it all.
KING: More with Bob Woodward right after this.
KING: Back with Bob Woodward. How about the revelations about China getting a little weary about North Korea and its behavior, calling -- acting like a spoiled child? You think that might have some effect on future happenings?
WOODWARD: No. But I think it's good to see that the Chinese are being realistic about their ally in North Korea, which is this rogue regime that not only can do damage in South Korea, in Asia, but to China. So, you know, I think that's a revelation that is somewhat heartening, if I understand it correctly.
KING: Let's go to another area. A month after the election, the Republican and Democratic leaders are going to sit down with the president tomorrow. It's the Slurpee summit; 7/11 will cater it. Will it change anything?
WOODWARD: Who knows? Hopefully somebody is there taking good notes and we'll find out exactly what they said, what the body language was with the attitude, whether the attitudes have changed. Do both sides here realize they're going to have to work together to tackle some of these problems? We'll see. And I'm sure soon there will be read outs from that very important meeting.
KING: What do you know about the Pentagon report tomorrow about Don't Ask Don't Tell and apparently the McCain flip-flop?
WOODWARD: I don't know. That's going to -- that obviously is an issue that -- I think it's going to change. The question is when. I just was thinking about the Wikileaks matter and the questions your earlier panelists were bouncing around about. You know, just how does it connect to a policy? How does it tell us something that we need to know, which I think is the critical question here.
Recently, somebody sent me a declassified secret document that Don Rumsfeld, the former secretary of defense wrote, in the summer of 2001, three or four months before 9/11. And the secret memo was to Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney, the vice president, and Colin Powell, then the secretary of state. It's a long memo in which Rumsfeld said we have to have meetings and get serious about Iraq and doing something about Saddam Hussein.
Now, I wish in the summer of 2001, Wikileaks or somebody had been around to leak or provide that document so we would have known at that point the secretary of defense was mightily agitated about Iraq and wanted to do something, wanted to see if regime change was possible, and was laying out some quite radical options.
That is a point where if there had been transparency or a leak, that would have been very useful to people, and I wish there was more of that. But the stuff I've seen here, what does it tell us about what the government might do in the future that needs more examination, more debate, as we did not have in the run-up to the Iraq war.
KING: The remaining moments with Bob Woodward right after this.
KING: Vice President Joe Biden was our guest recently. And Bob Woodward's name came up in our conversation. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The White House shot down the rumors that you and Hillary Clinton were going to do a switch.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I tried but it didn't work. No, I --
KING: You wanted state, didn't you?
BIDEN: No, no. Look, here's the deal: the president and I, there is never any serious talk, ever that anyone ever heard, about me not being on the ticket with him or her not staying in state.
KING: Woodward started it.
WOODWARD: If you look at it, even Bob backed off a little bit on that as he -- what he said -- and I read his book -- what he basically said was, when she was being considered for secretary of state, it was suggested by one of her pollsters she should take it because maybe there would be the opportunity to be vice president.
Hillary has made it clear right from the first time I came out, Joe, I don't want to be vice president. The president has made it clear, Joe, I expect you to be on the ticket. I want you on the ticket. So it was really kind of, you know, sort of a Washington parlor game.
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KING: Any comment, Robert?
WOODWARD: He's right. In the book, I report at the time, Obama offered the secretary of state position to Hillary Clinton. One of her political advisers said, look, take it because in 2012, Obama may be in trouble. He may need you. He may want to make you vice president because of the voting groups like workers, women, Hispanics, that she really carried in the primary.
So it was set in that time, as the vice president said. And this resurfaced as I was out doing some interviews on the book. And all of a sudden, it's a headline in the Drudge Report. And it was set in a time before she became secretary of state. At the same time, I think if President Obama's in trouble, like any politician, they will dump their vice president if it's to their advantage.
Jerry Ford dumped Nelson Rockefeller for Bob Dole to run against in 1976. So stay tuned.
KING: He never lets it go. I love Woodward for that. He never let's it go. What are you working on now?
WOODWARD: I'm not sure. Kind of seeing -- there's an awful lot going on. Listening to Anderson and you, I mean, in foreign affairs, domestic affairs -- the Obama presidency is being tested every day. And we're going to see if he's going to change in any way that's measurable, so people will say, as they did in 2008, I'm inspired by this man.
KING: Thank you, Bob. As always, great seeing you. Bob Woodward. Stevie Wonder is here tomorrow night. Right now, Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?