Meet the Press   |  October 06, 2013

4: Power discusses Syria, Iran and Hillary Clinton

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power discusses the U.S. role going forward in Syria, how to view new leadership in Iran and an emotional apology to Hillary Clinton.

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

>>> samantha power is the new and youngest ever ambassador to the united nations , and she's facing her first big test as the u.s. looks to eliminate syria 's chemical weapons . i sat down with ms. power this week for an exclusive interview inside the united nations security council room. you got the deal on syria . it does not have an automatic enforcement, so can you really say it's a resolution that has teeth that will bite?

>> this is the first resolution that has ever required syria to do anything. russia has been taking it by the hand, you know, putting it under its wing and shielding it from any international pressure of any kind. we think it is very significant that syria is now legally required by the world, by russia and the united states to give up its chemical weapons .

>> there was a time about a year ago when there were people inside the administration who were urging the president to do more to arm the moderate opposition. this was a time when assad was weaker, when he was more on the ropes. did the administration miss its moment? and is it fair to say that you could draw a direct line between that and the slowness of the world and what happened on august 21st ?

>> well, i think the united states has employed just about every tool in the tool box short of invading syria . we have put in place the most crippling economic sanctions that exist just about anywhere in the world. we supported again these accountability mechanisms so that at some point justice will be done, and we hope for some kind of deterrent effect day to day in terms of perpetrators.

>> hard to go back in time, but had there been action to arm that opposition earlier, might they have been able to gain more of a foothold?

>> again, from the beginning, the president has urged us to take every tool out of the tool box to scrub it to see that the benefits outweigh the costs. we had very serious vetting issues and very serious vetting concerns, and some of those concerns are more pronounced even today.

>> on iran , you heard the israeli prime minister say iran 's new leader rouhani is a wolf in sheep's clothing, almost suggesting that the u.s. may be getting hoodwinked by him. what's your take?

>> the president has made very clear that our engagement with iran will be on the basis of substantive progress. given the new rhetoric and the charm offensive that some people refer to it, including the israelis, they thought it was very important to protest and listen and see if there was something being substantively offered here. there is skepticism but a willingness to test t. there his. there is a diplomatic window, but it won't remain open forever.

>> you made a rough and tumble comment about hillary clinton . was that a searing experience?

>> yes. it was beyond searing. what i found so upsetting was the idea that somebody like secretary clinton's icon to young women , then young women like me, you know, this person who cared so much about women and children , who had given her whole life to public service could think for a second that i could think anything like that about her. i have regretted it pretty much every day since.

>> i know you apologized to her. i heard there were tears.

>> certainly it was very emotional for me. and i was so grateful to have the chance just to say in person what i had said to everybody. could you tell hillary that i think she's a total rock star ? she's changed the world in a thousand ways. but to be able to say that in person is something that i'm immensely grateful to her to have given me that opportunity.

>> you wrote a book called "a problem from hell" and now i was thinking these are your problems from hell. no longer are you a writer or observer, but you're in a position of power.

>> when i was a writer or a loudmouth pundit, it was very easy at the end of the day to say, i've spoken my piece. now the discussions we have are internal, you're getting to have these discussions with the president of the united states , with the secretary of state.

>> do you almost feel people are holding up that past life and saying, samantha power can't compromise. she's the one who wrote this book on genocide.

>> i think they're very entitled to do that. they bring things to me that constantly sometimes in the bubble of government one doesn't always get exposure to.

>> i read an article that said, after five years of being a bureaucr bureaucrat, power has learned to bite her tongue. i thought, she would hate that if she read that.

>> i hope i've learned to bite my tongue. i have the opposite reaction. i think i'm making some progress. but it does take practice when you're a loudmouth like me and you're irish.

>> thank you so much.

>> thank you, savannah.

>> our interview with u.n. ambassador samantha power .

>>> next, president obama weighs in