Video: Hadley: Problems, people haven't changed

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    >> refills. facing policy challenges right now. forces are in tough fights in taliban. violence continues in iraq with the elections coming up and iran still refuses to curb its nuclear program .

    >> these are some of the same problems the bush administration faces. joining us now, former bush national security advisor stephen hadley . he's now at the institute for peace. thank you for being here. before we get into the news of the day, i want to ask you a broad question. you've been out of the administration for a year now. looking at what the obama administration has done, are you surprised at all the extent to which the obama administration has continued some of the bush policies, some of the controversial policies, for example indefinite detention, the national security letters . there's a list of things that he has decided to continue doing. does it surprise you at all?

    >> there are three little rules about politics in washington. one, elections are fought on differences often foreign policy , many of them are strawmen and red herring . when a new administration comes in they all distinguish themselves by not being a predecessor. the truth is when it comes to governing, there is a lot more continuity. why? because the problems haven't changed. the bad guys haven't changed. your allies haven't changed. the instruments with which you deal with international policy don't change. there is likely a high degree of continuity between administrations. that's always the case.

    >> your former boss vice president cheney has been critical of this administration . do you share that view?

    >> i think what vice president cheney 's been doing is focusing on the national security implications of some of these issues that became an important part of the political debate. it dramatizes the fact we are still under siege, there is still a war on terror , al qaeda is still coming to us and the -- coming at us and the country still needs to take measures to protect itself. that's the point he's trying to underscore. from do you think the president or policies don't understand that?

    >> i think you have seen the president talk about this issue. he's changed a little bit how he speaks about it. i think one of the things that was a good thing about the christmas incident in detroit was that it was a wake-up call to the administration that we were still a nation under attack, in which nobody died. it was in some sense a real fortuity. the president's talked about how this is a war on traerror. there's been a high degree of continuity with the administrations including what we need to do to keep this nation safe.

    >> we're a year out which means for a previous administration it is the memoir time. karl rove 's memoir comes next. we know vice president cheney is working on one. president bush . we won't ask you for your memoir times. but there is an excerpt today, maybe a startling quote to some. karl rove writes in his book -- would the iraq war have occurred without wmd ? weapons of mass destruction . i doubt it, he writes. congress was very unlikely to support the use of force resolution without the wmd threat. the bush administration itself would have probably sought other ways to constrain saddam, bring about regime change and deal with iraq 's horrendous human rights violations . i can't remember anyone this close to the president saying we went to war under a false pretense . he's not saying it is a lie, but a false pretense . what -- that's an implication not just on a legacy but that sends a message to the world that isn't very good for the u.s. reputation.

    >> i think it's not that we did it on a false pretense . we did it on the basis of intelligence that turned out not to be true. this was intelligence that the intelligence community believed, the u.s. intelligence community believed, other services across the world did, it was based on u.n. inspection records. we all thought saddam had weapons of mass destruction .

    >> should we have done more checking? is that one of the lessons here? you know what, you have to take this intelligence stuff and take more time.

    >> well, i think if you -- to talk about iraq as a rush to judgment, when we had 12 years of diplomacy, 16, 17 u.n. security council resolutions, three inspection regimes where president clinton ordered the use of force against iraq . this is a situation where some people say that it was war of preemption. i think it was a war of last resort. i think we had exhausted all diplomacy, all efforts. we had sanctioned regimes. we exhausted all efforts short of war. and it's very clear when the president made his decision to go to war that the inspection regime was not getting at the truth in iraq , and that the economic sanctions which were preventing saddam hussein from using oil revenues for pressing h -- oppressing his neighbors, supporting terror, wmd , were about to collapse. i think the president really played this out as long as possible. he would tell you today that he thinks if the international community had retained its unity, if president chirac , chancellor schroeder and president putin had stayed with us in putting pressure on iraq , we might have been able to do this without the resort to war. i think it was a case where diplomacy was exhausted and the issue was whether the united states and the united nations and the whole international community was just going to basically surrender to saddam hussein , or whether those 17 u.n. security resolutions --

    >> quickly, the damage -- just as a national security expert, when you're trying to win over support with right now iranian -- with these iranian sanctions, where we're basing it on our intelligence reports, combination we had remember with president obama , gordon brown , nicolas sarkozy at the g-20 in pittsburgh trying to make against the united nations , our intelligence was wrong if iraq . is it fair for another country to say you were wrong there, why are you right now?

    >> the irony is we may have been wrong on the other side of the ledger with iran . in 2008 the nie said they suspended their military program in 2003 . now it looks like maybe they had not. so intelligence figures in these issues but i think one of the lessons is you can't make intelligence the litmus test. remember, the reason to go against saddam hussein was, yes, wmd -- which the whole world thought he had. he had it in '90 and '91. he did not account for and did not complain as to what had happened to it. therefore, the world rightly assumed he still had it. he invaded his neighbors, a ten-year war with iran , invaded kuwait, oppressed his people, support of terror. there was a long list why saddam hussein was a disruptive influence in his neighborhood and a threat to the united states and it was really all of those things that caused the president to make the decision.

    >> let's move on while we have a few minutes. different topic. the detention and trials of terror suspects like khalid shaikh mohammed . we heard again former boss, vice president cheney , make an intriguing statement on one of the sunday shows recently. i want to play it, then ask you about it.

    >> i can remember a meeting in the roosevelt room in the west wing of the white house where we had a major shoot-out over how this was going to be handled between the justice department that advocated that approach and many of the rest of us who wanted to treat it as an intelligence matter, as an act of war with military commissions . we never thoroughly or totally resolved those issues.

    >> okay, major shoot-out. that caught our eye. first, were you in the roosevelt room for that meeting and where do you come down on this issue, whether these terror suspects can be tried in certain cases in civilian court?

    >> i think there are a number of options with these folks. certainly you can do it under military commissions . you can do it in an article 3 court. i think those decisions need to be made on a case by case basis. i think the problem people had with the decision that was made with the -- in the christmas day incident was it didn't seem that there was a process by which law enforcement considerations were included as a part of a broader consideration that took into views of the national security apparatus, the intelligence community . because i think there is a risk that we slide into viewing this as a law enforcement matter rather than what it is, and effort to deal with people who are attacking our country and trying to kill our people.

    >> love to get your opinion real quick on the president's decision to have ksm tried in a civilian court as opposed to a military commission . do you think that was the right decision?

    >> i think if we had still been in office, the decision would have been made to put it in a military commission . the president has made that decision with his attorney general. it is now obviously engendered a lot of controversy. the president is looking at it again and i hope that the president gets a broad range of views and makes his considered judgment. i think the case for treating him in a military commission is very strong. this is the guy who was the mastermind of 9/11, an afkt war again against the united states similar to pearl harbor . i think it is what former president bush would do. now obviously president obama is looking at this thing and we'll see what decision he comes up with.

    >> i heard you say early on, case by case. you don't rule out using civilian courts.

    >> absolutely not. we did. this administration --

    >> you don't believe it was wrong then and you don't believe it is wrong now.

    >> no. but i think what it right is to have a process that takes into account all the competing considerations.

    >> but it -- say what you will about it, it was certainly a product of deliberation. think holder feels like the attorneys in the federal court are more experienced, that military commissions are basically quite untried. there's only been three cases that have gone to conviction. there's something -- there's more doubt, there would be more clarity in the civilian --

    >> he certainly had a process. i don't deny that. the issue that's been raised subsequent was, was denny blair the director of national intelligence considered. were his views sought and did they factor in to the president's decision. the director of cia. were his views sought and considered. was the secretary of views, the secretary of defense's views sought and considered? i think what the administration has said now subsequently is that they have established a process by which these decisions made by case will take into account all of the national security principles. that's what should happen.

    >> you said something at the beginning about elections talk about the differences, but there's more continuity. how often does the add obama administration policy team it reach out to you?

    >> i don't think any national security team reaches out that much to the predecessor. you know, once you're out, you lose the intelligence . you lose the access. and it's a different president, a different administration . that said, i have talked to general jones, my successor, on a number of occasions. he has, before the afghanistan decision, was kind enough to call me and wanted to explain what they were doing. so i have no complaints. i think he's treated me well, and i have nothing but best wishes for him on a very tough job.

    >> all right. steven hadl stephen hadley , thanks for your time

MSNBC
TRANSCRIPT

On Thursday, The Daily Rundown's Savannah Guthrie and Chuck Todd spoke with former Bush National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley about each administration's handling of the war on terror.

Below is the complete transcript.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, CO-HOST, THE DAILY RUNDOWN: Joining us now for a rare television interview is former Bush National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley who’s now at the Institute for Peace. Thank you for joining us, it’s nice to have you here.

STEPHEN HADLEY, FORMER BUSH NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Nice to be here.

GUTHRIE: Before we get into the news of the day and some of the hot spots we just mentioned, I just want to ask you kind of a broad question. You’ve been out of the administration for a year now. Looking at what the Obama Administration has done, are you surprised at all the extent to which the Obama Administration has continued some of the Bush policies, some of the controversial policies, for example indefinite detention, the National Security letters? I mean there’s a list of things that he has decided to continue doing. Does it surprise you at all?

HADLEY: Savannah, there are really three little rules about politics in Washington. One, elections are fought on differences — often foreign policy, many of them are strawmen and red herring. Then when a new administration comes in they all distinguish themselves by not being their predecessor. But the third truth is when it comes to governing, there is always a lot more continuity. Why? Because the problems haven’t changed.

The bad guys haven’t changed. Your allies haven’t changed. The instruments with which you have to deal with international policy don’t change. So it’s very likely that there will be a high degree of continuity between administrations and that’s always the case.

GUTHRIE: Your former boss Vice President Cheney has been quite critical of this administration. Do you share that view?

HADLEY: Well i think what Vice President Cheney's been doing is focusing on the National Security implications of some of these issues that became a very political part of the debate. I think he’s done a useful service in dramatizing the fact we are still under siege, there is still a war on terror, al-Qaida is still coming at us and the country still needs to take measures to protect itself. That’s the point hes trying to underscore.

GUTHRIE: Do you think the president does not understand that or his policies reflect a lack of understanding?

HADLEY: I think you have seen the president talk about this issue. He's changed a little bit how he speaks about it. I think one of the things that was a good thing about the Christmas incident in Detroit was that it was a wake-up call to the administration that we were still a nation under attack, in which nobody died. It was in some sense a real fortuity.

And I think you’ve seen the president talk about how this is a war on terror. And as I think you pointed out earlier on, there’s been a high degree of continuity with the administrations including in the area of the things we need to do to keep this nation safe.

CHUCK TODD, CO-HOST, THE DAILY RUNDOWN: We’re a year out which means for a previous administration it is the memoir time. And Karl Rove's memoir comes next. We know Vice President Cheney is working on one. President Bush. We won't ask your plans for your memoir.

But there is an excerpt today, and it may be a startling quote to some. Karl Rove writes in his book  ‘would the Iraq War have occurred without WMD?’ Weapons of mass destruction. ‘I doubt it,’ he writes.  ‘Congress was very unlikely to have supported the use of force resolution without the WMD threat. The Bush administration itself would have probably sought other ways to constrain Saddam, bring about regime change and deal with Iraq's horrendous human rights violations.’


I can’t remember anyone this close to the president saying we went to war under a false pretense. It doesn’t mean that there was a lie here, but a false pretense. That's an implication
not just on a legacy but that sends a message to the world. That isnt very good for the U.S. reputation.

HADLEY: I think its not that we did it on a false pretense. We did it on the basis of intelligence that turned out not to be true. This was intelligence that the intelligence community believed, the U.S. intelligence community believed, other services across the world did, it was based on U.N. inspection records. We all thought Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.

TODD: Should we have done more checking, I mean is that one of the lessons here you know what, you have to take this intelligence stuff and take more time.

HADLEY: Well, i think if you -- to talk about Iraq as a rush to judgment, when we had 12 years of diplomacy, 16, 17, U.N. Security Council resolutions, three inspection regimes where President Clinton ordered the use of force against Iraq. This is a situation where some people say that it was war of preemption. I think it was a war of last resort. I think we had exhausted all diplomacy, all efforts.

We had sanctions regimes. I think we exhausted all efforts short of war. And its very clear when the president made his decision to go to war that the inspection regime was not getting at the truth in Iraq, and that the economic sanctions which were  preventing Saddam Hussein from using oil revenues for pressing his neighbors, supporting terror, WMD, were about to collapse.

So I think the president really played this out as long as possible and he would tell you today that he thinks if the international community had retained its unity, if President Chirac, Chancellor Schroeder and President Putin had stayed with us in putting pressure on Iraq, we might have been able to do this without the resort to war. But I think it was a case where diplomacy was exhausted and the issue really was whether the United States and the United Nations and the whole international community was just going to basically surrender to Saddam Hussein, or whether those 17 U.N. Security Council resolutions were…

TODD: But very quickly, the damage just as a National Security expert, when youre trying to win over support with right now Iranian — with these Iranian sanctions — where we’re basing it on our intelligence reports, combination we had remember with President Obama, Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy at the G20 in Pittsburgh standing up together and they’re trying to make against the United Nations, our intelligence was wrong in Iraq. Is it not unfair for another country to say, you were wrong there, why do you think you are right now?

HADLEY: The irony is we may have been wrong on the other side of the ledger with Iran. In 2007 the NIE said they suspended their military program in now it looks like maybe they had not. So intelligence figures in these issues but I think one of the lessons is you cant make intelligence the litmus test. It is one input to the president. Remember, the reason to go against Saddam Hussein was, yes, WMD which the whole world thought he had. He had it in ’90 and ‘91. He did not account for and did not complain as to what had happened to it. Therefore, the world rightly assumed he still had it.

But also he invaded his neighbors, a ten-year war with Iran, invaded Kuwait, oppressed his people, support of terror. There was a long list as to why Saddam Hussein was a disruptive influence in his neighborhood and a threat to the Unidted States and it was really all of those things that caused the president to make the decision.

GUTHRIE: lets move on while we have a few minutes. A different topic. The detention and trials of terror suspects like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. We heard again former boss, Vice President Cheney, make an intriguing statement on one of the Sunday shows recently. I want to play it for you, then ask you about it.

I can remember a meeting in the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing of the White House where we had a major shootout over how this was going to be handled between the Justice Department that advocated that approach and many of the rest of us who wanted to treat it as an intelligence matter, as an act of war with military commissions. We never thoroughly or totally resolved those issues.

GUTHRIE: Okay, major shootout that caught our eye. First, were you in the Roosevelt Room for that meeting and where do you come down on this issue, whether these terror suspects can be tried in certain cases in civilian court?

HADLEY: I think there are a number of options with these folks. Certainly you can do it under military commissions. You can do it in an Article 3 Court. And I think those decisions need to be made on a case-by-case basis. I think the problem people had with the decision that was made with the in the Christmas Day incident was it didnt seem that there was a process by which law enforcement considerations were included as a part of a broader consideration that took into views of the National Security apparatus, the intelligence community. Because I think there is a risk that we slide into viewing this as a law enforcement matter rather than what it is, an effort to deal with people who are attacking our country and trying to kill our people.

GUTHRIE: Love to get your opinion real quick on the president's decision to have KSM tried in a civilian court as opposed to a military commission. Do you think that was the right decision

HADLEY: I think if we had still been in office, the decision would have been made to put it in a military commission. The president has made that decision with his Attorney General.
It is now obviously engendered a lot of controversy. The president is looking at it again and i hope that the president gets a broad range of views and makes his considered judgment. I think the case for treating him in a military commission is very strong. This is the guy who was the mastermind of 9/11, an act war against the United States similar to Pearl Harbor. I think it is what former President Bush would do. Obviously President Obama now is looking at this thing and we’ll see what decision he comes up with.

Todd: But I heard you say early on, case by case. You don't rule out using civilian courts.

HADLEY: Absolutely not. We did. This administration...

TODD: You don't believe it was wrong then and you don't believe it is wrong now.

HADLEY: No. But I think what it right is to have a process that takes into account all the competing considerations.

GUTHRIE: But it say what you will about it, it was certainly a product of deliberation. Think holder feels like the  attorneys in the federal court are more experienced, that military commissions are basically quite untried. I think theres only been three cases that have gone to conviction.  So theres something — theres more doubt, there would be more clarity in the civilian.

HADLEY: He certainly had a process. I don't deny that. The issue thats been raised subsequent was, was Denny Blair. The Director of National Intelligence considered. Were his views sought and did they factor in to the president's decision. The Director of CIA. Were his views sought and considered. Was the the Secretary of Defense's view sought and considered I think what the administration has said now subsequently is that they have established a process by which these decisions made by case will take into account the views of all of the National Security principles. That’s what should happen.

TODD: You said something at the beginning about elections talk about the differences, but theres more continuity in foreign policy. How often does the add obama administration policy team it reach out to you?

HADLEY: I don't think any National Security team reaches out that much to the predecessor. You know, once youre out, you lose the intelligence. You lose the access. And its a different president, a different administration. That said, i have talked to General Jones, my successor, on a number of occasions.

He has, before the Afghanistan decision, was kind enough to call me and wanted to explain what they were doing. So I have no complaints. I think hes treated me well, and I have nothing but best wishes for him on a very tough job.


The Daily Rundown airs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. ET to 10 a.m. ET on msnbc.

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