Meet the Press | May 19, 2013
>>> and we're back. for our remaining moments, joining me,author of the new
book "rumsfeld's rules: leadership lessons in business, politics, war and life," former defense secretary donald rumsfeld . mr. secretary, welcome back. you have such an interesting distinction here. i remember president bush called you a matinee idol and now you're soon to be a great grandfather. that's quite a combination.
>> it's exciting.
>> i want to ask you about a very disturbing subject within the military that you've worked over for so long and that is sexual assaults in the military. some of the reported accounts when you were secretary and reported and estimates, a much larger number and the alarming rise between 2010 and 2012 . what should the military do about it? does it have to change the way these crimes are reported at the chain of command and go outside of that to a special prosecutor ? what would do you?
>> i don't know that a special prosecutor is the answer, but there is an argument that can be made for handling them in a way different than they're being handled because they're serious. and i would suspect that an awful lot of them doesnn't even get reported. that's probably true in the public sector, private citizens as well as in the military. but it's a terrible thing. there has to be zero tolerance . and it appears that something different is going to have to be done and i wish i knew what the answer was. i don't. people simply have to not tolerate.
>> what about the culture in the military? is that major part of contributing to it?
>> people talk about that and talk about athletic teams and male environments. i don't know the answer to that. there's certainly nothing about the military that would contribute to it in terms of the purpose of the armed forces . but i don't know the answer and i think they better really land all over people that are engaged in any kind of abuse of that nature.
>> there's so much happening in washington and you are a veteran of so many controversy. you write this from the book, "if you foul up, tell the boss and correct it fast, mistakes can usually be corrected if the organization's leaders are made aware of them and they are caught up early enough and faced honestly. bad news doesn't get better with time. if you have fouled something up, it's best to tell the boss first."
>> that's true.
>> accountability, whether it's irs or questions about benghazi , who is accountable? how do you assess that in these cases?
>> in these cases i don't think they know yet. clearly the president and in the case of benghazi , the secretary of state. that's the way life works. but what bothers me about it is that two things really concern me, one, you think of a manager, a leader. when something like that happens, you call people in, you sit them down and you let them know that you intend to find ground truth fast. and he seems not to have done that. the other thing that's worrisome is, as they say, truth leaves on horseback and returns on foot. what's happening to the president is incrementally trust is being eroded because of the different messages coming out. you know, it important that you avoid the early reports because they're often wrong, and you have to get people in, find ground truth and then communicate that as fast as you can. to the extent information goes out that proves not to be accurate, presidents and leaders lead by persuasion. they doesn't lead by command. you have to be trusted. and to the extent trust is eroded, as it is when stories get changed and something more is learned and it kind of incrementally destroys your credibility, i think that clearly is a problem. i was worried, for example, i came back from being ambassador of nato when president nixon had resigned and president ford was in office. the reservoir of trust had just been drained during that experience that we went through.
>> you saw that first hand.
>> i did.
>> with president bush , a reservoir of trust in your leadership and that of the vice president and that of the president and of course with the iraq war in a trust eroded. do you see parallels here or more sympathetic or less inclined to the critical?
>> anyone looking at those jobs have to know they're tough jobs. when you've got one big problem, it's a big problem. when you've got two, it's like ten. when you have three, it's a problem. it's a perfect storm in there right now and those jobs are very difficult and there are a lot of things that make them even more difficult.
>> but former vice president cheney said that they're lying in the administration. do you think that's overly harsh? do you think we know that that's true?
>> he may know something i don't know. all i know is that the story has changed repeatedly on benghazi . i don't know anything about the a.p. story. it seems to me until we have some sense of that, we can't even begin to make a judgment. but i think people looking at the changed stories on benghazi and the way the talking points were altered are of a view that they were trying to support a narrative that in fact did not exist.
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