RUMSFELD: Every leak out of the White House is a signal to other countries, Be very careful about cooperating with the United States of America because if you do, you very likely will end up running the risk at least of compromising your country's relationship with the United States. You're compromising intelligence information that you need to defend your people. And as a foreign country, or foreign agents, you run the risk of compromising foreign agents.
Every country and every potential person we try to recruit to assist us looks at these leaks and says to themselves, That's not a reliable partner.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are these leaks any different? Washington's always been full of leaks. Are the leaks that have come out recently out of this White House or this administration -- I don't know where they originate -- there's an investigation going on. Are these leaks of any different quality or more serious or less serious or is it Washington as usual?
RUMSFELD: No, it's more serious. These leaks have been early and specific and damaging to our relationships.
VAN SUSTEREN: Syria -- if you were secretary of defense or president or - - what should we be doing about Syria?
RUMSFELD: I think that we would need to be looking very carefully at who the rebels are, where they fit across the spectrum, from people who might be better than the current regime to people who might be as bad or worse than the current regime.
And I personally believe we should be providing covert assistance to the people in that mix of rebels who we believe would provide a better leadership.
Syria and Iran are linked at the hip. They are terribly damaging to our country. They support Hamas. They support Hezbollah. They support other terrorist organizations. They are harmful to us in Iraq. They are harmful to us in Afghanistan. And they are harmful in the region.
And to change that regime is vastly more important than what went on in Libya because of the damage that Syria and Iran together pose to the United States of America.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is it that easy to single out which rebel group does what? Because I know -- I was recently in Israel, and they are very concerned that should the regime fall, that Hezbollah will get hold of the chemical and biological weapons, that a rebel group with great sympathy to Hezbollah (INAUDIBLE) get it. I mean, is it that -- that easy to do, to identify which rebels you want to help and which not?
RUMSFELD: No. You can identify who's better to help. It's not -- we're not talking about perfection against something terrible. We're talking about gradations. And it is possible to identify people that would be preferable to others.
On the other hand, it is impossible to determine how it'll come out because you don't know what the dynamic will be. And leadership is important. Support is important, assistance, intelligence, weapons and the like.
I think that we should be providing that kind of covert assistance. And I think we should be trying to figure out who they are. But I think you have to be realistic.
What -- the people that are the best organized, the most disciplined, are also probably the Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood and the people who are the toughest and the most brutal.
And they can be a relatively small minority in the spectrum of people opposing the Assad regime. You can have a majority of those people opposing the Assad regime be people are not Islamist. But they could still lose, so you can't tell how that's going to come out.
VAN SUSTEREN: And after our interview, Secretary Rumsfeld took us on a tour of his office. But it's not just any office. It looks more like a museum of United States history, with a few personal touches thrown in.
RUMSFELD: That was a cabinet chair from the Gerald R. Ford administration and this is a cabinet chair from the George W. Bush administration. And they put your jobs on the back. They put a little brass plate there, and it -- that kind of makes me look like I couldn't hold a job, but...
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you got a lot of them. This one doesn't look like it's been sat in very much.
RUMSFELD: Well, I was traveling a lot.
VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) new. You were traveling a lot.
RUMSFELD: This is a piece of the Oval Office floor. I did not lift it out of the Oval Office. It was sent to me by the president when they apparently redid the floor.
Here's your friend Henry Kissinger. We were in Beijing back in 1974, after a meeting in Vladivostok, and there's George Herbert Walker Bush and Henry Kissinger with me with Phil Habib and Deng Xiaoping and some of those folks.
I was chairman of Tuskeegee Institute's 100th anniversary, which was - - they gave me this Booker T. Washington picture.
That's a piece of the plane that hit the Pentagon that I picked up out there that morning and brought with me into the office. And once they heard I had it in the office, it turned out it was the property of American Airlines and we had to get their permission to keep it, which they finally gave us.
VAN SUSTEREN: The day of the crash, you were in the building. Did you feel it shake or...
RUMSFELD: Oh, sure.
VAN SUSTEREN: ... (INAUDIBLE) big building. Actually feel it shake?
RUMSFELD: You could. And we'd seen two planes go into the World Trade Center, so when it hit the Pentagon, it was clear that we'd been attacked. And the only question, What was it? Was it a truck bomb? Was it an airplane?
And went out and down and around to see what it was and picked this up and brought it back.
These are pictures of the presidents. When they get together, they agree to sign so many copies for each other. And President Ford sent me these.
VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, lookit, there's Richard Nixon. He didn't sign it.
RUMSFELD: He did. He used...
VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, it's faded?
RUMSFELD: ... ink that's faded.
VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, his is faded.
RUMSFELD: And same thing here with Herbert Walker Bush.