• With: Donald Rumsfeld

    This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 1, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Should U.N. ambassador Rice resign? Now, earlier, former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld went "On the Record."


    VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Secretary, nice to see you, sir.

    DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Thank you. Good to be with you.

    VAN SUSTEREN: There are many calls by Republicans for secretary -- or for ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice to resign. She has the backup of the secretary of state and the president, but there are calls for her to resign after going on all those talk shows and pushing this YouTube video as the reason, the cause. Your thoughts, sir?

    RUMSFELD: Well, that's really up to the president and the ambassador, as far as I'm concerned. I think that the president can nominate who he wants. And the Senate confirmed her. And she's the ambassador while she's there.

    I watched the presentation, and I thought it was amazing that someone in her position would go on with that degree of certainty, that fast and that authoritatively and be that wrong.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think she was perhaps hung out to dry? Because I thought it was unusual that the ambassador of the U.N. would be making that appearance right after that event. I would have expected some other member of the administration, not the ambassador to the U.N.

    RUMSFELD: I agree. It would have been more likely that someone from the cabinet or the White House staff or the NSC staff might have said something. It may very well be that she was already scheduled and they just used her. But her -- her presentation was demonstrated to be inaccurate within a matter of hours, which has got to be embarrassing.

    VAN SUSTEREN: What about the investigation? We are confirming this morning, one of my colleagues, Justin Fishel over at the Pentagon, producer, that the FBI 20 days later still has not set foot in Benghazi.

    RUMSFELD: I would guess the FBI is trying. And my guess is that he -- the individual who makes the decision has decided that the situation's still not safe for that team of people to go in. Obviously, every day that goes by means that the -- the scene will have been sufficiently disturbed that the likelihood of their learning much diminishes with every passing day.

    VAN SUSTEREN: How could it not be safe for our FBI, who are pretty well trained for security, and yet it was safe for our ambassador and others to be there?

    RUMSFELD: It wasn't safe for our ambassador.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Well, no, but I mean, the thinking -- I mean, when -- obviously, it wasn't because they were killed. But I mean, the thinking -- the thinking that the FBI are not tough enough and armed enough and ready to go and investigate that because, as you say, as time marches on, we lose evidence, we lose information.

    RUMSFELD: Sure. I think that once an event like that happens and the people are killed, it's clear that they misjudged the security situation. They didn't have the kind of security that they needed to stay alive. And my guess is that it's very difficult for the FBI to figure out exactly what the security situation would be.

    If they go in, it would be noted. They would be a target. And it may very well be that the government is encouraging them not to. It could be that they just have concluded that they would make such a presence if they went in that they could become a sizable target.

    But I just don't know. I think it's unfortunate that they've not been able to get into the crime scene.

    VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I've always been on the outside. And it's very different on the outside than the inside. But I'm curious if you have any sort of thought why the administration went out with the YouTube video theory to begin with because on the outside, it's 9/11, it's Americans in a hostile environment and on our territory, a consulate in Libya, yet they went out with the YouTube and they stuck with it for so many days. And you know, even without the ability of intelligence, I would have at least couched it a little bit differently.

    RUMSFELD: Well, you're quite right. They made a terrible mistake. I think what they did was -- you know, hope springs eternal. They wanted it to be the YouTube, and they -- it was much more convenient from the administration's standpoint to have it be the film that nobody's seen.

    And yet it demonstrated such serious misjudgments on their part, to think that they could make it be the YouTube, which it wasn't, obviously, as time's gone by. And I quite agree with you that anyone looking at it, knowing the history of September 11, would at least have registered that that could very well have been part of an organized attack, which apparently, now people in the senior in the administration have acknowledged, that it was a planned attack.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Is there a consequence of that misjudgment, or is it something we all chatter about it amongst ourselves, like, How could you think it was a YouTube video when it's obviously something different? Is it -- is there a real consequence to that mistake, or misjudgment, as you call it?

    RUMSFELD: Well, I think so. I think -- and you know, anyone can make a mistake. So you can have one incident where it's happened, something happens. But they've had a pattern where the leaks out of the White House and the presentations by the White House have been the kind of thing that, in retrospect, looking at them all as a pattern, they're calculated to try to make the president look like he's in charge and that he is not being -- that his foreign policy is working, instead of the fact that it seems to be unraveling as we watch the world scene.

    We see that country after country -- I don't know how many it's been, 15 or 20, where the people have been burning American flags, have been burning pictures of the president of the United States, have been attacking embassies in one way or another, demonstrating an opposition to the United States and to the policies that this president has put forward. And that's got to be disturbing.

    You're in the middle of a political campaign, so it makes the administration look bad. And my impression is that they're trying to spin things in a way that will mute the difficulties we face in the world, and they're serious difficulties.

    VAN SUSTEREN: How do you describe his foreign policy?

    RUMSFELD: I think that the foreign policy of this administration for three-and-a-half, four years now has been one of a step back -- the phrase that came out of the White House, to lead from behind, which you can't lead from behind. Leaders lead from the front.

    The economic management of our country has told the world that we're in decline, and it was sufficient that the vice president of the United States had to go at his convention and say, We're not in decline. Now, why did he have to say that? Because it's clear the country is managing its economic affairs in a way that tells the world we're modeling America after Europe. And that's a failed model.

    The idea of another half a trillion-dollar cut in the defense budget sends the signal out to the world that the United States will not be in a position to contribute to peace and stability and contribute to a better world, which we've done throughout my adult life. We've -- we've -- our country has been a factor, a presence, but it's in withdrawal under this administration.

    And I -- a vacuum abhors a -- it just -- it'll be -- it'll be filled -- it'll be filled by somebody, and it'll filled by countries that don't have our best interests at heart.

    VAN SUSTEREN: If someone from the administration were here, the response would be, Well, he inherited two wars and a deep recession. Now, the debt -- the debt has gotten much larger. I mean, there's no question about that.

    RUMSFELD: Oh! There's the understatement of the year!


    VAN SUSTEREN: So but how do you respond to -- like, you know, what should he have done differently, or how would you have -- you know, and I realize there's some value, 20/20 hindsight, but I also know that you have some -- your own thoughts, even if this were back three-and-a-half years ago.