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State of the Union

Interview With Sen. Schumer; Interview With Sen. Lugar; Interview With Donald Rumsfeld

Aired February 20, 2011 - 09:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: A few weeks ago conventional wisdom was that threats of a federal government shutdown were a bluff. Conventional wisdom might be wrong again.

Today, Washington's war over spending with Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer. And uprisings across the Middle East, we are joined by the top Republican on the Senate foreign relations committee, Richard Lugar. And a prescription for confronting radical Islam from former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.


DONALD RUMSFELD, FRM. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: They are not going to disappear. They are just a small group of people that are dedicated, and determined and vicious.


CROWLEY: And on this Presidents' Day weekend, lessons from our founding fathers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The financing of our nation should be maintained as the finance of one's own home.


CROWLEY: I'm Candy Crowley, and this is State of the Union.

If congress can't reach an agreement on this year's budget by March 4th, the government will be out of money and shut down. Over time that could mean things like no Social Security checks, no passports, no national park tours. The Republican-controlled House passed a budget to keep the government running through September. But with over $61 billion in spending cuts, the House bill is seen as too harsh and a non-starter in the Democratic-controlled senate. Basically, an unstoppable force has met an immovable object.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) OHIO: Well, when we say we're going to cut spending, read my lips, we're going to cut spending. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not risking a shutdown. They are. That's what they threatened today. That's what they have been threatening for months.


CROWLEY: Now what? Joining me from our New York bureau, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer. Senator, thank you for joining us this morning.

SCHUMER: Good morning, Candy.

CROWLEY: You're $60 billion apart between what the House wants to do and what the Senate wants to do. Where's the middle?

SCHUMER: Well, I hope we can negotiate somewhere in the middle. That's obviously what should be done, but, unfortunately, Speaker Boehner seems to be on a course that would inevitably lead to a shutdown.

CROWLEY: But wouldn't you bear some responsibility for that as well if it came to that?

SCHUMER: Well, let me explain. Speaker Boehner is on a course, I think, that would lead to a shutdown. That's reckless. It would hurt the American people, jobs and the economy, and I'd hope he'd reconsider.

Now, back in December -- Democrats and Republicans always come to impasses about government spending, and in December, Democrats and Republicans agreed to -- we couldn't agree on a full year's budget, so we said we'd agree to a $41 billion level of cuts that would expire March 4th. Now, the House has come up with 100 billion below the president's level. We think it's reckless. It would prevent Social Security checks and veterans checks from going out. It would take people away from the border as we guard the border, health inspectors.

And so what we're proposing is for a short time, a couple of weeks, we continue that $41 billion level while House and Senate negotiators come up somewhere in the middle, but Speaker Boehner has said even before negotiations that he wants it a certain way. That is reckless. That's what Newt Gingrich did in 1995.

And I understand that Speaker Boehner is being pushed by the hard right in both his body, the House, and outside. Sarah Palin said a shutdown would be a good idea in New York on Thursday, but it's wrong. It would hurt innocent people, hurt the economy, and we hope we can come to the table and negotiate without shutting the government down.

CROWLEY: Well, senator, let me just get to that question that is wouldn't you all bear some responsibility for that as well if the government shuts down? It takes two parties to come to an agreement.

SCHUMER: Right, but here's the bottom line. We have said shutdown is off the table. Speaker Boehner, Mitch McConnell, other Republican leaders have not taken it off the table when asked, and there are lots of people on the hard right clamoring for a shutdown.

Don't shut the government down, come and negotiate. And you can't say it has to be this way before negotiations begin. We just got their budget Saturday morning at 5:30 a.m. The right thing to do, the way it's always been done, the way to do this like adults is not to say it's my way or no way. That's what Newt Gingrich did with lots of severe consequences but rather sit down and negotiate. No Democrat has said let's use shutdown to get what we want. Many republicans have.

So I think the public -- I think the public, Candy, when they look at what happened, is going to put the blame on them, if it happens. And I hope and pray to god that it doesn't.

CROWLEY: To be fair, I think that the Republicans would argue that you have been the ones talking more about shutdown than they have. And look, Speaker Boehner said I need a temporary spending bill to have some cuts in it, and the truth is you've basically had this budget that you're now working on, that is now sort of brought it to this climax in early March since last year at this time. So what does make you all move, because you now have this deadline that you're going to meet early next week, but you all are out. Why if it's so important, if it's so vital and if you don't want the government to shut down, why isn't the Senate working?

SCHUMER: Okay, first, we didn't get -- you know that the Constitution says that all spending bills should originate in the House.


SCHUMER: So we can't do anything until the House sends us a bill. They send it to us 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning. It was a raucous week to their credit, an open week where things were debated on the floor. And so we've begun immediately to do two things, first, to prepare a temporary stop-gap emergency proposal.

CROWLEY: Will it have cuts in it?

SCHUMER: To keep the government -- yes, it has $41 billion in cuts, below the president's level.

CROWLEY: But that budget was never put into play, so it's $41 billion from his proposal that was never put in place, right. It's the same as 2010, same spending as 2010.

SCHUMER: They are proposing $100 billion below the president's level. That's the benchmark we have used, they have and we have. And obviously we are going to have to sit down and negotiate and we're prepared to negotiate right away. We're going through their document right now. It's a big document with a whole lot of pages. And while at the same time we prepare an emergency stop-gap measure to keep the government going so there's not a shutdown, we're prepared to negotiate about what should happen for this fiscal year.

They have said repeatedly that -- many Republicans have said a shutdown is a good thing. And unlike all of our leadership has said we'll avoid a shutdown at all costs and they are not saying that. So one thinks that they are use the shutdown to get their way. And as I said, that's wrong. It's dangerous for the economy, dangerous for the American people and it's what Newt Gingrich tried, albeit over a smaller amount of cuts, $17 billion.

CROWLEY: Would you agree for a temporary measure that has cuts inside that temporary measure, rather than extending what exists, would you grew to a temporary measure that cuts something, anything?

SCHUMER: We have already agreed to a temporary measure that cuts $41 billion, very painful.

CROWLEY: So no further than what you're talking about.

SCHUMER: Yeah. But these cuts are very painful and many in our caucus didn't want to go along with those. You don't say before you negotiate it has to be this way. We are saying continue the government at a $41 billion level of cut for a period of time, short period, a couple of weeks and negotiate something for the whole year. And we realize that in those negotiations, where the house is at 100 billion, we think it's extreme. We're at 41 billion, there has to be give on both sides, but we are saying negotiate, and they are saying do it my way before there's any negotiations or the government will shut down.

CROWLEY: Let me turn you quickly to overall negotiations to bring the deficit down. Why do you not want to include Social Security in that? I realize it's not an on-budget item, but the president's own debt commission has said you cannot do anything about the debt until you deem with Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

SCHUMER: Okay. Look, first of all, let me say I think that the negotiations going on among the bipartisan group of six are a very good thing, and I want them to continue, and I hope they will be successful, and I think most Democrats share that view.

Social Security, however, does not contribute one penny to the deficit and won't until 2037. And so therefore...

CROWLEY: And yet people in your own party believe that it is urgent that you deal with Social Security, to deal with the overall debt picture.

SCHUMER: Well, we believe -- the vast majority of Democrats, overwhelming, believe that since Social Security doesn't contribute to the deficit, since Social Security will not contribute until 2037, that by including it in these specific negotiations it makes it harder to deal with what is the immediate and dangerous problem which is our immediate deficit over this year and the next several years. And, therefore, most of us think that Social Security should be kept for generations, and the way to do that is like what happened in 1983: Democrats and Republicans get together and come up with how we can extend Social Security.

But to mix it up as part of these negotiations I think will make these negotiations much tougher and harder, and because Social Security doesn't contribute to the debt, it makes sense to separate the two.

CROWLEY: Senator Chuck Schumer out of New York this morning for us. Thank you so much. Always too short, I hope you'll come back.

SCHUMER: Thanks, Candy. Have a nice day.

CROWLEY: Up next, we will get perspective on the protests across the Middle East and what they mean for the U.S. with the senate foreign relation committee's top Republican Richard Lugar. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: With me now here in Washington, Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana.

Thank you for being here, sir. We appreciate it. The House has passed a bill, which is about $61 billion in spending cuts, to take the government through September. Can you support what the House has done?

LUGAR: No, I would not support the entirety of the House bill, but I think the basic problem presently is there's very little time. There is the imminence of a government shutdown. I just heard your interview with Chuck Schumer.

I would simply add this thought and using your program as an appeal for the president of the United States to call immediately the leadership of both Houses together and indicate the gravity of the problem of the government shutting down, and at the same time to produce a formula in which, as a matter of fact, the Senate might act in four days of time because the Senate doesn't usually act in four days of time on complex issues, absolutely no possibility.

So already the blame game has started with Chuck suggesting the Newt Gingrich situation, Republicans suggesting, however, that we don't have the money that we're talking about in this budget. We are spending money that we do not have. Even the Social Security payments, we do not have. We're borrowing that from the Treasury.

CROWLEY: Right. Is 61 billion too much?

LUGAR: Not necessarily, but I think that senators would...

CROWLEY: But this configuration of 61 billion is?

LUGAR: But once you take a look at all of the elements there, various agencies are shut down, there could be some disputes there. Speaker Boehner has said essentially that he's not going to favor continuation without there being significant cuts.

Significant or whatever, the adjective is very important, but this -- the president sort of backed away from all of this. He offered his budget, which is irrelevant to the whole business right now. This is a time for presidential leadership, because it is crucial to our armed forces and the continuation of Social Security payments, all of the things we've talked about, we do not have a government shutdown.

But we must have reductions that are very, very substantial and the Senate must have an opportunity to act upon them as well as the House.

CROWLEY: Can you just quickly for me, to wrap this up, define substantial from the view of Richard Lugar?

LUGAR: Well, I think something in the neighborhood of the 60 billion that the House has done. That seems to me to be a reasonable figure, to say the least. I don't think they have overstated it.

CROWLEY: OK. Thank you. I want to move you on to a couple of things. We are seeing renewed stories now that the Obama administration is in fact talking with leaders in the Taliban in Afghanistan. Does anything about that bother you?

LUGAR: Well, I'm certain such talks have gone on in the past, sometimes covertly, sometimes more obviously. It is a situation described frequently as a stalemate in which somehow at the edges talks with the Taliban, who are currently the enemy, as opposed to the al Qaeda people who have probably left to go to Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, or wherever, I think that we're either going to have to have some type of negotiations with the president of the country, President Karzai, the leadership, whether they call them warlords or the leaders in various provinces take place.

Otherwise, we're in a situation in which the Taliban or al Qaeda and/or various forces will simply outwait us. The Afghan people, in terms of their own security, will never be confident. And we're at a juncture in which our government is going to have to define really what the end-game is, what our purposes are.

They have not done so. This is something we've called for in the Foreign Relations Committee. I think we're going to have to get it.

CROWLEY: At some point know like what is our goal here, like when can we get out?

LUGAR: Precisely, because what is being suggested really is support of an Afghan army for many, many years. You asked, with what money? Well, with our money, tax money. At the same time we're discussing this budget situation...


LUGAR: ... we're really implying a huge amount of money year after year and so-called nation-building in Afghanistan or maybe just holding the fort with regard to cities we think we've captured.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you a couple of things about the goings on in Egypt. First of all, we've had long ties with the Egyptian military. They are now in control. Do you trust, fully trust the Egyptian military to transition to some sort of democratic elections?

LUGAR: Well, I don't think it's a question of trust. I think we take objectively the fact that they are in charge. We are hopeful from whatever advice they are going to take from us that they will in fact have a new constitution or elements of that, that they will begin to build political parties or allow those to be built.

But that's going to require a great deal of expertise as to how a political party is formed. It's important that we do, however. The Muslim Brotherhood is fairly well organized. People can see maybe 30 percent of the electorate, in this situation.

And so, as a result, the military has right now the ball in their court. I think we have to be understandable that our process here is going to be modest. In other words, the Egyptians need not...

CROWLEY: There's not much we can actually do.

LUGAR: No, or need not take our advice at all.


LUGAR: Secretary Clinton the other day suggested $150 million of money already projected toward Egypt be allocated towards more specific economic aid. That may be helpful.

Egyptian diplomats have said the Egyptian economy is in the tank, with the tourism thing demolished, with the corn, wheat prices and the so forth on which Egypt is so dependent, creating real hazards with regard to just feeding, quite apart from politics, that our assistance here may be the most influential thing we can do.

CROWLEY: Looking across what is happening in the Middle East now from Bahrain, to Libya, to Yemen, where are you the most concerned?

LUGAR: Well, I think it's simply a question of how each of these countries works out the problem, they have aged leadership. By that I mean 60-, 70-, 80-year-olds, a majority of the population may be 25 and under. When the 25s didn't know what was going on in the rest of the world, that was one thing, they now know.

They know they are not getting their fair share, that life is not going to be good for them. As a result, given hunger problems, other economic difficulties, they have come to the fore. So as a result the question is, will, as in the case of the Libyans, the protesters simply be shot?

Thus far the Libyan police and army have stayed loyal to Muammar Gadhafi. Maybe they will continue to and shoot the protesters. Small country, not many protesters.

But I would just say by and large most of the governments are coming to accommodation. They are beginning to talk about more representation, democracy, hope for youth, all the rest of this.

Now whether they are successful, whether they make it to the finish line, in most cases the armies of each of these countries will be essential, and they have very different relationships to the rulers. CROWLEY: And finally and quickly, a Hamas official has said that Egypt has agreed to open the Rafah terminal, which allows import and export from Egypt into and out of Gaza. Is that a good or bad thing for Israel?

LUGAR: Well, it's the beginning of a very edgy relationship between the new Egypt, whoever is in control, and Israel. The fact the two Iranian ships either have gone through, as the Iranians claim or haven't yet made it but are going to be given that privilege is significant, plus the 300 or so people going back and forth into Palestine each year. I think, you know, this is a very great dilemma that the Israelis see, that we see. Once again we'll have to be helpful diplomatically, but it's something that's going to have to be worked out on the ground between the two parties.

CROWLEY: Richard Lugar, it is always a pleasure.

LUGAR: Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Thank you for joining us.

Up next, a conversation I had earlier with Donald Rumsfeld. The former defense secretary opens up about Iraq, Afghanistan and his views on the Obama administration.


CROWLEY: Joining me now here in Washington, former defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us. When I spoke to former president Bush just before he left office, and I said, "Did you ever have a moment when you were in the Oval Office when you sat in this office and thought, "Oh, what, have we done? Was this the right thing?"

And he said, "Sure, yes, I did."


CROWLEY: What kept you up at night?

RUMSFELD: I think the concern I had that the information we had was imperfect, and...

CROWLEY: It was -- it was more than imperfect. Some of it was just flat wrong.

RUMSFELD: That's true, and I think that -- I don't want to be excessively critical of the intelligence community, because it's a hard job. We're dealing with closed societies. We're dealing with a complicated world. It's very difficult to determine intent on the part of others. And we have a lot of wonderful, dedicated people in the intelligence community.

But I've been around long enough and seen enough instances where the intelligence was wrong and where the information that later was learned didn't conform to what was expected.

CROWLEY: That certainly was the case...


CROWLEY: ... his time.

RUMSFELD: No question, no question. CROWLEY: I want to -- there are -- there are stories out this week about a man known as Curveball in intelligence circles.


CROWLEY: And I want to first kind of set this scene for our audience by playing something that Colin Powell, who was then the secretary of state, he was addressing members of the U.N. He was justifying upcoming invasion into Iraq. This is part of what he had to say.


COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We have firsthand descriptions of biological weapons factories on wheels and on rails. The source was an eyewitness, an Iraqi chemical engineer who supervised one of these facilities. He actually was present during biological agent production runs.


CROWLEY: OK. Now I want to show you a picture to our audience of an Iraqi defector. This is Curveball. Curveball talked to "The Guardian" Tuesday and said it was all a lie, totally a lie. And here's what they said.

"They," meaning the U.S., "gave me this chance. I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that, and we are proud that we were the reason to give Iraq the margin of democracy."

This was a major part of the argument for Iraq, and this guy totally lied. Do you not want to reach through that screen and strangle that guy?

RUMSFELD: You know, the intelligence community created the National Intelligence Estimate. Colin Powell is an honorable man. He understood intelligence products. He worked hard to prepare those remarks to the United Nations. He believed every word he said. And what was he basing it...

CROWLEY: Of course he did, because he was told, he says -- he said, "Look, go ask the Defense Intelligence Agency. You're as close as I can get."

So how did this guy's information become gospel when, in fact, he was completely lying? And by the way, the German sources who turned this over said, "We don't think the guy is reliable," but somehow that part of the information didn't make it up the chain. How does that happen?

RUMSFELD: Well, the intelligence community talks to hundreds of people. They have human assets such as this man. Some are honest. Some are dishonest. Some do it for money. Some do it for self- aggrandizement. Some do it, apparently, to lie. CROWLEY: Did you ever, when you found out there were no -- again, I asked -- I remember asking former President Bush about it, when you found out there were no weapons of mass destruction. He said, "I was sick to my stomach."

You know, would you -- did anyone say, "Get me the person who gave us this intelligence," because to me, sitting here listening to you...

RUMSFELD: Well, we know who it was.

CROWLEY: ... the fault of the war was the intelligence community.

RUMSFELD: Well, that's...

CROWLEY: The false premise of the war.

RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, there were a variety of reasons for the war, not simply WMD.

CROWLEY: Well, that was the one that you all pushed the hardest.

RUMSFELD: That's true, but if you looked at the resolution from the Congress, there were multiple reasons. If you looked at the U.N. resolution, there were multiple reasons. So it wasn't the sole reason.

CROWLEY: But it was a big one.

RUMSFELD: It was no question. No question it was the big one.

CROWLEY: I think probably people would argue to you that we wouldn't have gone in, had we said, no, they don't have weapons of mass destruction.

RUMSFELD: I think that's probably right. A great many people would have -- would not.

CROWLEY: Did you ever think we shouldn't have gone? When you found out there were no weapons of mass destruction, your headline reason, was there just one moment in there when you thought, "Oh, we shouldn't have gone?"

RUMSFELD: It was never my headline reason only -- never the only reason, I should say. They were shooting at our aircraft, and I was deeply concerned, as were the joint chiefs of staff and the chairmen, that one of our planes was going to be shot down and a crew was going to be taken hostage or killed, and it was almost a daily occurrence, and -- and...

CROWLEY: There might be less intrusive ways to take care of that.

RUMSFELD: True, but the knowledge -- you suggest kind of in your question that there was a single moment. There wasn't. We didn't know for weeks and weeks whether we'd found -- would still find, I should say, something that would approximate what was believed in the intelligence report.

CROWLEY: But across that expanse of time up till right now, from the start to the finish, was there a moment when you doubted whether we should have gone? I realize that you came to the conclusion that it was -- you got a good outcome, you know, that you're arguing, but was there ever a moment in that span of time when you thought we shouldn't have gone?

RUMSFELD: Oh, my goodness, we were so busy fighting the war and trying to save lives and to make the right decisions as the enemy shifted their tactics and procedures.

I think there clearly were moments where we talked about it. There were moments where we discussed it. There were moments where we said, even more importantly, because what's done is done.

But more importantly was what in the world caused that? How can we avoid that in the future? Are there other things that we're relying on that may not be true? And that kind of was the focus of the intelligence community and the discussions. What else are we depending on that, conceivably, we could find out, to our surprise, might not be the case, and -- and that focus was terribly important.

CROWLEY: Mr. Secretary, stick with me.


CROWLEY: We've got to take a quick break, and when we come back moving on to Afghanistan and some other hot spots in the world. Talking, of course, with former defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.


CROWLEY: We are back with our guest, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, author of "Known and Unknown: A Memoir," covering a lot of time.

Let me take you to one of the things that I've seen you say a lot and that you allude to in here, and that is that you do think that initially the right number of forces were sent into Afghanistan, that you were fully manned, if you will, there. If that is the case, why did the Taliban come back in such force in 2006 and 2007?

RUMSFELD: Because they are determined. They are dedicated. They are vicious. They are anxious to re-establish themselves and have a country. It was such a terrible regime that only three nations in the world had diplomatic relations with the Taliban.

CROWLEY: But couldn't more troops have taken care of more Taliban so there would be fewer of them to come back? RUMSFELD: Oh, no. No, they simply move into another country, go into neighboring countries, go into Pakistan. No, or disappear or just become quiet and not be active. And the minute they have an opportunity, they come back.

So what's going to have to happen, and General Petraeus is a fine general, and I'm sure he's doing a good job there, but what's going to have to happen eventually is the Afghan people, the Afghan government, the Afghan security forces are going to have to figure out an arrangement with their people so that it is not hospitable to the Taliban.

And they are in the process of doing some of that right now, and over time. But they are not going to disappear. They are -- it's a small group of people that are dedicated and determined and vicious. I mean, these people were using the soccer stadium...

CROWLEY: But do you think going in, OK, 10 years from now we'll still going to be there?

RUMSFELD: No, no, and I said that. I said, look, you can't make a career out of this. The Afghans are going to have to solve the....

CROWLEY: Looks kind of like we are kind of making a career out of it. RUMSFELD: Well, if you think of it like World War I or II, where it starts and it ends, then you're right. If you think of it like the Cold War where it lasted 30, 40 years and...

CROWLEY: People weren't dying daily in the Cold War.

RUMSFELD: No, but -- no, but there were things going on in the world. I mean, the Soviet Union was expansive in Africa and Latin America and various parts of other portions of the globe.

This is not a conventional war with armies, navies, and air forces. We have some troops, but basically it's going to be won not by bullets but by ideas and by competition of ideas and by the countries involved. They are going to have to...

CROWLEY: But we're still kind of in the bullet phase.

RUMSFELD: Of course we are, to some extent.

CROWLEY: Ten years later.

RUMSFELD: But we haven't lost a battle. We can't lose a battle in terms of a military battle. That means that there's something else going on. And what's going on is we're going to have to persuade the world that these people are harmful. They are dangerous. They are against the nation-state concept. And then the Afghan people are going to have to have sufficient forces to manage their country.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you in sort of a broader sense about the Obama administration. You once said, if you're not being criticized, you may not be doing much. So I want to give you this opportunity. What is it that you think they are not doing right? RUMSFELD: I'm not there. I've been out for four years. Only look at it from afar, and I think private diplomacy is probably vastly more important than their public pronouncements, and I'm not knowledgeable about their private diplomacy.

I do think they were wrong in attacking the Bush administration structures that have kept this country safe for almost a decade now. They now have switched from the campaign mode, and they are keeping Guantanamo Bay. They are keeping indefinite detention. They are keeping military commissions.

So obviously they have come to the conclusion that their campaign promises, easier to campaign than it is to govern. And I think they have made the right decisions in keeping some of those structures because no one wants to be -- have a jail. No one wants to have to do these things, but we've got to defend the American people. We've got to be willing to do it. And I think they have made a series of right decisions in not trying to tear down that structure.

CROWLEY: The president's supporters say that in two years he has been able to return this country to a status of being liked across the world in a way that America was not liked during the Bush administration, that he has once again made America a beacon. Do you agree with that? Do you think that the U.S. is now looked at much differently than it was, and much more positively than it was during your tenure?

RUMSFELD: No, and I don't think there's data that supports that. I think he has made a practice of trying to apologize for America. I personally am proud of America.

CROWLEY: Well, he seems to be quite popular overseas in a way that President Bush was not. The streets aren't full of people burning him in effigy. There does seem to be a new -- a chance to look at America in a different way than it did during the Bush administration. You don't think that's true.

RUMSFELD: I don't think that's true, and I don't think that there's data that would support that.

CROWLEY: Even though the streets look differently?

RUMSFELD: I just don't think it's correct. I could be wrong, but I honestly don't think it's correct. I think that the people...

CROWLEY: Some people think it's part of the reason why he got the Nobel Prize was that he was -- you know, that people just looked at him so much differently.

RUMSFELD: Well, he had not accomplished a thing when he got the Nobel Prize. It was given to him on hope, had to have been, because there wasn't anything that he had done. He had been in office 15 minutes.

CROWLEY: A little more than 15 minutes.

RUMSFELD: A little more.


CROWLEY: I just wanted to say that. Let me ask you to stick with me for a minute. We will be right back with the former defense secretary, Don Rumsfeld.


CROWLEY: We are back once more with Donald Rumsfeld, a former Defense secretary and, of course, author of a new book, "Known and Unknown."

You brought up Guantanamo Bay prison which I know you have always felt should not be closed, that it was as good a place as any to keep some of these people. We're now seeing Secretary Gates sort of saying this is back-burnered, it doesn't seem like we're going to close it any time soon. Are you comfortable with the notion that people that were picked up on the battlefield in Iraq or Afghanistan in 2001, 2002 could live their lives in Guantanamo Bay prison without ever seeing the inside of a courtroom, be it military or civilian? Is that okay with you? RUMSFELD: Oh, goodness, none of it is okay with me, you know. No one wants to be the jailer for the world. I don't know that they necessarily would have to stay there the rest of their lives. Some could be sent back to their home countries to be handled there. In other cases they could have a military commission try them and come to a judgment. They might come to a judgment like happens in our civilian courts that it was a mistake and they shouldn't have been in there. It breaks your heart if that's the case, but it happens.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, if you were still Defense Secretary and if bin Laden were caught, what would you do with him?

RUMSFELD: Oh, my goodness, I think he'd end up in Guantanamo Bay and I think he'd probably be subjected to a military commission.

CROWLEY: And then?

RUMSFELD: And who knows what the military commission would decide. He -- he has brought enormous harm to the world.

CROWLEY: Just out of curiosity, if we did catch him, Guantanamo Bay Prison, would you like to go down there and see him?


CROWLEY: Really?

RUMSFELD: No. He's not my type.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you a domestic hot political question. You went to CPAC and received an award there presented by your old friend, former Vice President Dick Cheney. You were booed at CPAC which is conservatives.

RUMSFELD: Well, there were some Ron Paul people. CROWLEY: Yes. Conservatives.

RUMSFELD: Sure. And my question for you is...

RUMSFELD: There were a handful from the back. No big problem.

CROWLEY: No, I understand, this isn't sort of monitor the boos.


CROWLEY: It actually just gets me to the question of what do you make of the current iteration of the Republican Party? You've -- you date back to the Ford years and prior to that.

RUMSFELD: Eisenhower.

CROWLEY: And have watched the Republican Party -- Eisenhower so you've watched it go through a number of iterations. What do you think of this one with the Tea Party influence and the conservatives? RUMSFELD: Fascinating. I find it...

CROWLEY: Oh, come on.

RUMSFELD: I find it very interesting. I think the Tea Party people have brought a lot of energy into public life and public affairs, and it's a good thing that people are energized and active. I have seen the Republican Party declared dead and over probably four or five times, and it hasn't been, and what's going on now is some energy into it, and that's a good thing. And I like to see people involved in public affairs and bring in fresh ideas and what have you.

I am deeply worried about the budget. I think that the deficit is a danger to our country. I think it's going to damage our future, and I think it's putting our next generation at great risk. And we have to really be honest enough with ourselves and address it. And I think the Tea Party people are energized by that concern. And I think that's probably a healthy thing. It will put a balance.

CROWLEY: I think one of your old buddies Alan Simpson, who was co-chair of the debt commission.


CROWLEY: Thinks you can get $100 billion out of the Defense budget between now and 2015. Can you?

RUMSFELD: Oh, goodness, 2015 is a long way off. You know, so many of these people are saying, well, we can save money tomorrow. I'd like to see people start saving money now. Are there things in the Defense budget, my goodness, every year the congress was stuffing $10 billion down the Pentagon's throat that we didn't want. There's no question but that there's money there.

CROWLEY: Want to mention again "Known and Unknown" now about to be a number one best-seller in a hardback on the "New York Times," all the proceeds going to their soldiers and their families. RUMSFELD: Wounded, their families, yes.

CROWLEY: Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure.

RUMSFELD: Thank you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Still ahead on this Presidents' Day weekend, my exclusive interview with two former commanders in chief.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The alternating domination of one political party or another spurred on by the spirit of revenge will always drive a nation further and further from its better interests and greater counsels.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CROWLEY: Now time for a check of today's top stories. As many as 180 people have been killed in Libya from clashes between protesters of Moammar Gadhafi and his security forces. Meanwhile in Yemen, hundreds of anti-government protesters gathered today for the tenth consecutive day while in Bahrain yesterday demonstrators regained control of a major square in that country's capital after deadly attacks by security forces.

A sixth day of protests are expected in Wisconsin today over the state's budget. State workers are angry over a provision that would virtually remove all collective bargaining rights.

CROWLEY: Tens of thousands of people have marched against the bill in the past five days. Now tea party activists have joined the demonstrations in support of the legislation.

The agency in charge of doling out payments to victims of the last year's Gulf oil spill has decided the rules on who will get how much. The changes to the final rules are relatively minor but could make a big difference for some who have filed claims.

U.S. military officials say there's no reason to believe the hijacked American yacht has reached the Somali coast. The U.S. military is prepared to intervene in the situation if necessary. The yacht was en route from India to Oman when it was captured Friday by Somali pirates.

Those are the top stories here on STATE OF THE UNION. Up next, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grant exclusive interviews with STATE OF THE UNION on this Presidents Day weekend.


CROWLEY: On Presidents Day weekend, what journalist wouldn't want to drop into a time capsule for exclusives with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson? Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, is as close as a time capsule as it gets. It's where we found Bill Barker and Ron Carnegie, who have spent a combined 30 years in the shoes of two of our founding fathers. Think of them with presidential historians with great costumes. We drop back now to 1797, President Washington has made the decision to voluntarily step down from office.


CROWLEY: Mr. President, it is good of you to join us.


CROWLEY: Let's start with the political questions. And, first, you've decided two terms is enough, why?

CARNEGIE AS "WASHINGTON": After my first term, many men convinced me that it was necessary that I remain in office for the betterment of this country. But now the nation has matured to a point where I cannot be convinced of that. And I hope that I will be allowed to return home. CROWLEY: I think one of the other political questions that comes off as you prepare to leave office, that is the formation of political parties. You've been critical, you've looked askance at the idea that there might be two political parties that would drive politics. Why is that?

CARNEGIE AS "WASHINGTON": I hoped we never would have seen this introduction of parties into our shores. The alternating domination of one political party over another spurred on by the spirit of revenge will always drive a nation further and further from its better interests and greater counsels.

It causes a man to be concerned not for being a servant to his nation, but rather to be a servant of his political party.

CROWLEY: You have been known as a man of great morality. Have you ever told a lie, just even a little white one?

CARNEGIE AS "WASHINGTON": Man should always be guided by honesty and virtue, but, ma'am, I also was the commander-in-chief of our armies in the late war. I had under my authority a number of spies, engaged in spying upon the enemy and endeavoring to misinform our enemy by way of false numbers in newspapers and such as that. Obviously, I have on occasion been less than truthful.

CROWLEY: And tell me, since there have been so many things written about you already and will clearly be things written about you in the future, what is the biggest misconception that you have read about yourself or heard about yourself?

CARNEGIE AS "WASHINGTON": A political party has made claims that I have wished for the office of president, that I perhaps wish to be a king, which has never been the case. Nobody could wish such an office less than I do. And North America is done with kings.

Now some of those who accuse me in the press know very well that this is the truth. And yet, they feel free to say whatever they wish.

CROWLEY: And yet you believe wholeheartedly in a free press?


CROWLEY: Mr. President, we appreciate your taking the time.

CARNEGIE AS "WASHINGTON": Your servant, madam.


CROWLEY: And in salute to our third president, we move into the early 1800s with Thomas Jefferson, inventor and author of Declaration of Independence, a president who inherited an $83 million national debt.


CROWLEY: Mr. President, you have in your term reduced the national debt by a third. What is the harm of a national debt?

BILL BARKER, "THOMAS JEFFERSON": It leads us into the necessity of becoming dependent upon government itself. That is my opinion. That if we allow stock jobbers, monocrats, Anglo (ph) men, speculators to have their way, that they will pursue this debt in order to aggrandize their wealth and influence.

And, of course, that feeds upon the common man. The financing of our nation should be maintained as the finance of one's own home. There are three particular principles. Take care of your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves. Never spend money you do not have. And do not purchase something simply because it is cheap.

CROWLEY: Do you worry that there are things within the Constitution that will not stand the test of time, that 200 years from now or more there will be things about the Constitution that the American people will want to correct?

BARKER, "JEFFERSON": Well, I'm hopeful in the future we might rectify this idea of an Electoral College, the right of the legislators to decide on who should be the chief magistrate.

In my opinion, it does not properly enounce the voice of the people and may some day become a blot on our Constitution, which will make its hit (ph).

CROWLEY: So you fear that with this electoral system there might be a time when a candidate would be popular among the people and still not become president?

BARKER, "JEFFERSON": Yes, I do. And that is in the human nature of politics to occur, I do believe.

CROWLEY: And that would be a constitutional crisis, then, would it not?

BARKER, "JEFFERSON": Well, yes, it would. And, good heavens, could you imagine were that to occur that it might even come to the point of coming up before our Supreme Court.

CROWLEY: Of the many things you have done, what do you want to have remembered centuries from now?

BARKER, "JEFFERSON": Oh, I would like to be remembered as the author of our Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and as the father of a University of Virginia, by these three as testimonials that I had lived, well, then I wish most to be remembered.

CROWLEY: Mr. President, thank you so much for your time today. We appreciate it.

BARKER, "JEFFERSON": My pleasure as well, ma'am.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CROWLEY: You can find these gentlemen in the flesh in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. Back to this century now. Enjoy your Presidents Day. Thanks for watching STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington.

Up next, for our viewers here in the United States, "FAREED ZAKARIA: GPS."