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TODAY   |  September 04, 2013

Rumsfeld on Syria: Do something ‘worth doing’ or nothing

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says that the president and Congress need to “do something worth doing” regarding Syria or do nothing at all, and that Obama has put Congress in a strange position.

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

>> you. let's turn to donald rumsfeld . he is the author of rumsfeld's rules. secretary rumsfeld , good morning to you.

>> good morning.

>> you had tough words for president obama yesterday. you said this plan for a shot across the bow limited strike would be ineffective and an embarrassment for the united states . my question to you is would it be better to do something limited or do nothing at all?

>> it seems to me either you do something that's worth doing or you do nothing at all. the danger of doing something that is not worth anything, that results in nothing, that leaves assad standing, it seems to me it makes the united states look like that's what we prefer and it's quite the contrary. the president said repeatedly that that's not what we prefer. and it seems to me that the leadership has lacked a vision and the essence of leadership is to have a vision and clarity. that's where you develop a kind of support and unity in our country and our congress and in the world. and if there's anything that's clear it's that they do not have that kind of unity at the present time because of a lack of clarity.

>> do you think it was a mistake for the president to consult congress ? do you think it gave assad the gift of time?

>> oh, i think that if he gets support of congress that's probably a useful thing. on the other hand he did not need to go to congress . president after president recognized that the authorities they have as commander and chief enable them to use force within reason, and then at some point go to the congress .

>> looming over this debate time and time again has been the sector of iraq . most recently the u.k. parliament , many members cited the failure of intelligence leading up to iraq as the reason that they won't take action now in syria because they don't trust u.s. intelligence . do you personality take any responsibility for that? or feel any responsibility for that?

>> well, i think that the intelligence community turned out to be wrong and the presentation made by secretary of state colin powell proved out to be wrong. on the other hand you had a brutal dictator in iraq that used chemical weapons against his own people. used it against his neighbors. rebuffed 17 u.s. resolutions and the president went to congress and got the support of congress and the u.n. and fashioned a large coalition. it seems to me that all the appropriate steps were taken and the democratic congress voted for regime change in iraq .

>> i was thinking about your book rumsfeld's rules and you say it's easier to get into something than get out of it. you're somebody that thinks regime change is the thing to seek in syria. does that rule apply here?

>> it's true that it's easier to get into something than to get out of it. there's also times that leadership requires that you act and it seems to me, in that in instance, the instinct i have is to be supportive of the president and to wish him well if he decides to use force. i think that the presentation made by secretary kerry who i think has been dealt a difficult hand, the presentation was forceful and persuasive.

>> well, donald rumsfeld , it's always good to get your insight.