TODAY   |  May 14, 2013

Rumsfeld: I believe there's a Benghazi cover-up

The former secretary of defense talks about his new book, “Rumsfeld’s Rules,” and the Benghazi attacks, saying he does believe there was a cover-up by the Obama administration. He also reflects on some of his controversial decisions during his tenure in the Bush administration.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> former defense secretary donald rumsfeld has had a distinguished career in public service and the private sector and opens up about "rumsfeld's rules" in business leadership, politics and life.

>> i want your input on the consulate. you said quote the way the white house has tried to cover this up and manage it falls on the president. yesterday, the president said there is no there there, that it's a sideshow and that it defies logic to say there was a cover-up. do you still think there was.

>> i do. i think that as it's unfolded, it's very clear that the people knew from the out-set that it was not the youtube, that it was not a demonstration, and people on the ground and people in washington have now testified to that.

>> do you think that the administration has answered enough questions on it? do you think it's possible that some republicans are trying to use this to discredit hillary clinton in case she decides to run for president in 2016 ?

>> no. i think that's a side -- that's the sideshow. is the hillary clinton piece of it. the first problem was if you're going to put people at risk, you have to try to protect them. and the british took their people out because they knew they were at risk. the americans were left in and they weren't provided the kind of security that they needed obviously because they're dead.

>> let's turn to your book. lots of rules and maxims in here. some make perfect common sense, set your goals, learn from those who have been there, trust your instincts. this one caught my eye, though, mr. secretary, it is easier to get into something than to get out of it.

>> it's true.

>> do you think a lot of people will read that an immediately say, iraq and afghanistan ?

>> well, sure. of course. it is -- there's another word there, phrase that comes in. that's mission. the reason we went into afghanistan was the facts on september 11th and the fact taliban was the host to al qaeda . that problem was taken care of relatively quickly, in a matter of weeks with a relatively few number of troops. the numbers were 25, maybe 30,000 americans is all. president obama 's now had a hundred thousand in that country. obviously, it's a different mission.

>> right. the question a lot of people will ask, did the bush administration and did donald rumsfeld even have that saying up on a wall somewhere, and did they look at that motto before they committed to wars in afghanistan and iraq ?

>> the answer is yes. i actually wrote a memo, which is on my website,, that's been called the parade of horribles. i sat down and wrote all the things that could go wrong, that i could think of prior to the president's decision to go into iraq , one of which was there may not be stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction .

>> you write about your time as defense secretary quote your words here, there was no shortage of decisions i made that rattled a few cages and made some folks unhappy. might i have approached some decisions differently knowing what i know now, of course. you talk about wishing you hadn't misspoken in a couple situations and maybe more forceful with president bush at the time about accepting your resignation after abu ghraib . that's a little bit like falling on your sword. is there a specific military or policy decision you wish you could have changed?

>> sure. a personnel decision is really -- if it's a mistake, it's the mistake of the person doing the hiring, as opposed to the person coming aboard. i made a mistake by taking a former general and making him secretary of the army . if you know you need to change the culture, if you know you need to move that institution as the president said, from the end of the 21st century and into the information age, putting a person who came up through that system in charge as the civilian leadership was a mistake. i had to correct the mistake.

>> some people say take the high road , it's less crowded. donald rumsfeld , good to see you, sir.

>> thank you.

>> thanks for coming back. the book again is called "rumsfeld's rules."