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Interview with Former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld

By Hannity, Hannity - February 8, 2011

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Special Guests | Donald Rumsfeld, former secretary of defense

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This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 8, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Welcome to the special edition of "Hannity." And I am joined tonight for the entire hour by America's longest-serving Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He is the author of the brand new book, it is called "Known and Unknown." It hit book shows all around the country earlier today, in it he describes the highs and lows of a long and dramatic career and discloses some behind the scenes details that may shock you.adsonar_placementId=1502157;adsonar_pid=150758;adsonar_ps=-1;adsonar_zw=198;adsonar_zh=170;adsonar_jv='ads.adsonar.com';

Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for being with us. Good to see you again, again.

DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Thank you so much.

HANNITY: You know, as I read this book in its entirety, I was standing back and just looking at the big picture. You met and knew JFK who you called the most charismatic president you had ever met, right?

RUMSFELD: Indeed.

HANNITY: JFK, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Clinton, the two Bushes.

RUMSFELD: Eisenhower.

HANNITY: Eisenhower, OK, Eisenhower. We got them all.

RUMSFELD: Jimmy Carter.

HANNITY: And I was thinking as I was reading this because it serves -- I wanted to just get your thoughts, you called JFK the most charismatic president ever that you've met.

RUMSFELD: He really was. He was young, he had energy, he offered hope and it was a time in our country's history when -- that he was the right person to be there in terms of inspiring. And then his life was gone, so soon.

HANNITY: One interesting comment about Bill Clinton in this -- and you are very appreciative of it -- and it was either Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo.

RUMSFELD: Abu Ghraib.

HANNITY: -- and the abuse scandals. And he said, apparently pulled you aside and said anyone who's making that allegation is not a right-thinking person. And you felt very appreciative of it.

RUMSFELD: I did. We were at the World War II memorial for the dedication. And he walked across a tent, you know, 30, 40 feet across there, and stuck out his hand and said, you will get through this. No one right thinking person would have any -- even begin to think that you could even know what was going, you know, 5,000 miles away on the midnight shift in Abu Ghraib. And of course he was right.

But nonetheless, it was a terrible time for our country. I was such a revolting, disgusting, deviant behavior that took place there. And it was harmful to our military.

HANNITY: We are going to get to all the specifics of that but very few people have had this experience, I wanted to get it from you. You really appreciated the fact that George W. Bush asked you to be secretary of defense, a job you had held when it was 24-years prior.

RUMSFELD: Yes.

HANNITY: Youngest and oldest secretary of defense in history and longest serving. But the fact that he was his own man is what you pointed out in the book.

RUMSFELD: Well, he was and he is. He and his father I guess have a terrific relationship. But George W. Bush is George W. Bush. He's not George Herbert Walker Bush and it's admirable. He was a good president and an honorable man. And I respect him.

HANNITY: How do you feel about him now? Do you still have contact with him?

RUMSFELD: Occasionally on the phone. I talked to him not too long ago. And he's made a judgment that -- he wrote a book and he's made a judgment that he's not going to participate heavily in current events which I think is probably a good idea for a former president.

HANNITY: How well do you know the current president? You did write about Barack Obama that once he assumed the responsibilities of being commander in chief in 2009 he found that making policy was much different from making speeches. And you're referring to Guantanamo and his first promise that he would close it.

RUMSFELD: You know, during the campaign, he and his opponent both were quite critical of the Bush administration. And president, now president but candidate Obama was critical of Guantanamo. He was critical of indefinite detention for unlawful combatants. He was critical of military commissions.

And here we are two plus years later, and all of those things are there, not because anyone wants him to be there but because they were the best solutions. And the structure that President Bush and his administration put in place, it seems to me, is today accepted as a good structure, as things that were needed. Not things that we wanted but given the nature of terrorism in the world, things that were needed.

HANNITY: Yes. All right. We're going to continue. We have playing more coming up with the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He gives us his inside story about his 1983 meeting, one of the few people to actually sit and meet with Saddam Hussein. Also the very personal side of the secretary. And also, leading the Pentagon after 9/11 and how those attacks changed the secretary of defense's life. That and much more, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUMSFELD: The infamous Iraqi leader approached me confidently.

Saddam wore military fatigue with a pistol on his hip. It was December 20th, 1983, the only time I met the man who would become known as the butcher of Baghdad.

Saddam stopped a few feet in front of me and smiled. I extended my hand which he clasped. The cameras rolled. My trip to Baghdad that winter as President Reagan's envoy, my official title was personal representative of the president of the United States in the Middle East, was the highest level contact by any U.S. official, with Iraq's leadership in 25 years. None of us in the Reagan administration harbored illusions about Saddam.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: And that was Donald Rumsfeld on his 1983 meeting with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. That meeting would later become the subject of fierce criticism from the American Press Corp, when the Bush administration announced its intention to topple Saddam's regime.

We continue now with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. You are one of the few people that I know in the world that ever, from America, that ever got a chance to meet with him. And what was that like?

RUMSFELD: Normally, when one thinks about relationships with other countries, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And we had a situation where the two powerful countries Iran and Iraq, were at war with each other. And we were cross ways with both countries. Iran had taken hostages, our American people in the embassy. And it seemed logical to President Reagan and Secretary Schultz and to me, that we ought to at least try to develop a better relationship with Saddam Hussein.

In the real world of international affairs, sometimes you deal with people that are less worse than the others. And so, I did go to meet with Saddam Hussein.

And he was in his fatigues with a pistol at his hip, a fairly typical Middle Eastern dictator. We had a good visit and shortly thereafter, we did re-establish relationships with Iraq which had not existed for many years since the Middle East war.

HANNITY: And he gave you a strange gift too?

continued...

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February 08, 2011

Guests: Donald Rumsfeld, former secretary of defense

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This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 8, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Welcome to the special edition of "Hannity." And I am joined tonight for the entire hour by America's longest-serving Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He is the author of the brand new book, it is called "Known and Unknown." It hit book shows all around the country earlier today, in it he describes the highs and lows of a long and dramatic career and discloses some behind the scenes details that may shock you.

Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for being with us. Good to see you again, again.

DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Thank you so much.

HANNITY: You know, as I read this book in its entirety, I was standing back and just looking at the big picture. You met and knew JFK who you called the most charismatic president you had ever met, right?

RUMSFELD: Indeed.

HANNITY: JFK, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Clinton, the two Bushes.

RUMSFELD: Eisenhower.

HANNITY: Eisenhower, OK, Eisenhower. We got them all.

RUMSFELD: Jimmy Carter.

HANNITY: And I was thinking as I was reading this because it serves -- I wanted to just get your thoughts, you called JFK the most charismatic president ever that you've met.

RUMSFELD: He really was. He was young, he had energy, he offered hope and it was a time in our country's history when -- that he was the right person to be there in terms of inspiring. And then his life was gone, so soon.

HANNITY: One interesting comment about Bill Clinton in this -- and you are very appreciative of it -- and it was either Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo.

RUMSFELD: Abu Ghraib.

HANNITY: -- and the abuse scandals. And he said, apparently pulled you aside and said anyone who's making that allegation is not a right-thinking person. And you felt very appreciative of it.

RUMSFELD: I did. We were at the World War II memorial for the dedication. And he walked across a tent, you know, 30, 40 feet across there, and stuck out his hand and said, you will get through this. No one right thinking person would have any -- even begin to think that you could even know what was going, you know, 5,000 miles away on the midnight shift in Abu Ghraib. And of course he was right.

But nonetheless, it was a terrible time for our country. I was such a revolting, disgusting, deviant behavior that took place there. And it was harmful to our military.

HANNITY: We are going to get to all the specifics of that but very few people have had this experience, I wanted to get it from you. You really appreciated the fact that George W. Bush asked you to be secretary of defense, a job you had held when it was 24-years prior.

RUMSFELD: Yes.

HANNITY: Youngest and oldest secretary of defense in history and longest serving. But the fact that he was his own man is what you pointed out in the book.

RUMSFELD: Well, he was and he is. He and his father I guess have a terrific relationship. But George W. Bush is George W. Bush. He's not George Herbert Walker Bush and it's admirable. He was a good president and an honorable man. And I respect him.

HANNITY: How do you feel about him now? Do you still have contact with him?

RUMSFELD: Occasionally on the phone. I talked to him not too long ago. And he's made a judgment that -- he wrote a book and he's made a judgment that he's not going to participate heavily in current events which I think is probably a good idea for a former president.

HANNITY: How well do you know the current president? You did write about Barack Obama that once he assumed the responsibilities of being commander in chief in 2009 he found that making policy was much different from making speeches. And you're referring to Guantanamo and his first promise that he would close it.

RUMSFELD: You know, during the campaign, he and his opponent both were quite critical of the Bush administration. And president, now president but candidate Obama was critical of Guantanamo. He was critical of indefinite detention for unlawful combatants. He was critical of military commissions.

And here we are two plus years later, and all of those things are there, not because anyone wants him to be there but because they were the best solutions. And the structure that President Bush and his administration put in place, it seems to me, is today accepted as a good structure, as things that were needed. Not things that we wanted but given the nature of terrorism in the world, things that were needed.

HANNITY: Yes. All right. We're going to continue. We have playing more coming up with the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He gives us his inside story about his 1983 meeting, one of the few people to actually sit and meet with Saddam Hussein. Also the very personal side of the secretary. And also, leading the Pentagon after 9/11 and how those attacks changed the secretary of defense's life. That and much more, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUMSFELD: The infamous Iraqi leader approached me confidently.

Saddam wore military fatigue with a pistol on his hip. It was December 20th, 1983, the only time I met the man who would become known as the butcher of Baghdad.

Saddam stopped a few feet in front of me and smiled. I extended my hand which he clasped. The cameras rolled. My trip to Baghdad that winter as President Reagan's envoy, my official title was personal representative of the president of the United States in the Middle East, was the highest level contact by any U.S. official, with Iraq's leadership in 25 years. None of us in the Reagan administration harbored illusions about Saddam.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: And that was Donald Rumsfeld on his 1983 meeting with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. That meeting would later become the subject of fierce criticism from the American Press Corp, when the Bush administration announced its intention to topple Saddam's regime.

We continue now with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. You are one of the few people that I know in the world that ever, from America, that ever got a chance to meet with him. And what was that like?

RUMSFELD: Normally, when one thinks about relationships with other countries, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And we had a situation where the two powerful countries Iran and Iraq, were at war with each other. And we were cross ways with both countries. Iran had taken hostages, our American people in the embassy. And it seemed logical to President Reagan and Secretary Schultz and to me, that we ought to at least try to develop a better relationship with Saddam Hussein.

In the real world of international affairs, sometimes you deal with people that are less worse than the others. And so, I did go to meet with Saddam Hussein.

And he was in his fatigues with a pistol at his hip, a fairly typical Middle Eastern dictator. We had a good visit and shortly thereafter, we did re-establish relationships with Iraq which had not existed for many years since the Middle East war.

HANNITY: And he gave you a strange gift too?

continued...

< 1 2 3> adsonar_placementId=1502154;adsonar_pid=150758;adsonar_ps=-1;adsonar_zw=612;adsonar_zh=140;adsonar_jv='ads.adsonar.com'; Transcripts

Choose a category

Interviews Interviews

Latest Transcript

February 08, 2011

Guests: Donald Rumsfeld, former secretary of defense

Please click on a date for previous transcripts:

Loading Datepicker Wednesday on 'Hannity'

Are rumors of Sarah Palin’s staff scouting out Iowa true? The former Alaska governor is here to tell us

Wednesday's Great American Panel Juan Williams

Juan Williams is a Fox News political contributor

Frank Donatelli

Frank Donatelli is the chairman of GOPAC

Noelle Nikpour

Noelle Nikpour is a Republican consultant and strategist

Connect With Hannity MyspaceFacebookTwitterEmailMobileBlog Home Video U.S. World Politics Entertainment Leisure Health Scitech Opinion Sports Facebook Twitter YouTube RSS /**/ try { var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-3128154-2"); pageTracker._setDomainName(".foxnews.com"); pageTracker._trackPageview(); } catch(err) {} $.ad.pre(); setPageVideo(); // video

Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for being with us. Good to see you again, again.

DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Thank you so much.

HANNITY: You know, as I read this book in its entirety, I was standing back and just looking at the big picture. You met and knew JFK who you called the most charismatic president you had ever met, right?

RUMSFELD: Indeed.

HANNITY: JFK, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Clinton, the two Bushes.

RUMSFELD: Eisenhower.

HANNITY: Eisenhower, OK, Eisenhower. We got them all.

RUMSFELD: Jimmy Carter.

HANNITY: And I was thinking as I was reading this because it serves -- I wanted to just get your thoughts, you called JFK the most charismatic president ever that you've met.

RUMSFELD: He really was. He was young, he had energy, he offered hope and it was a time in our country's history when -- that he was the right person to be there in terms of inspiring. And then his life was gone, so soon.

HANNITY: One interesting comment about Bill Clinton in this -- and you are very appreciative of it -- and it was either Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo.

RUMSFELD: Abu Ghraib.

HANNITY: -- and the abuse scandals. And he said, apparently pulled you aside and said anyone who's making that allegation is not a right-thinking person. And you felt very appreciative of it.

RUMSFELD: I did. We were at the World War II memorial for the dedication. And he walked across a tent, you know, 30, 40 feet across there, and stuck out his hand and said, you will get through this. No one right thinking person would have any -- even begin to think that you could even know what was going, you know, 5,000 miles away on the midnight shift in Abu Ghraib. And of course he was right.

But nonetheless, it was a terrible time for our country. I was such a revolting, disgusting, deviant behavior that took place there. And it was harmful to our military.

HANNITY: We are going to get to all the specifics of that but very few people have had this experience, I wanted to get it from you. You really appreciated the fact that George W. Bush asked you to be secretary of defense, a job you had held when it was 24-years prior.

RUMSFELD: Yes.

HANNITY: Youngest and oldest secretary of defense in history and longest serving. But the fact that he was his own man is what you pointed out in the book.

RUMSFELD: Well, he was and he is. He and his father I guess have a terrific relationship. But George W. Bush is George W. Bush. He's not George Herbert Walker Bush and it's admirable. He was a good president and an honorable man. And I respect him.

HANNITY: How do you feel about him now? Do you still have contact with him?

RUMSFELD: Occasionally on the phone. I talked to him not too long ago. And he's made a judgment that -- he wrote a book and he's made a judgment that he's not going to participate heavily in current events which I think is probably a good idea for a former president.

HANNITY: How well do you know the current president? You did write about Barack Obama that once he assumed the responsibilities of being commander in chief in 2009 he found that making policy was much different from making speeches. And you're referring to Guantanamo and his first promise that he would close it.

RUMSFELD: You know, during the campaign, he and his opponent both were quite critical of the Bush administration. And president, now president but candidate Obama was critical of Guantanamo. He was critical of indefinite detention for unlawful combatants. He was critical of military commissions.

And here we are two plus years later, and all of those things are there, not because anyone wants him to be there but because they were the best solutions. And the structure that President Bush and his administration put in place, it seems to me, is today accepted as a good structure, as things that were needed. Not things that we wanted but given the nature of terrorism in the world, things that were needed.

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