Donald Rumsfeld Discusses Libya, Iran, Afghanistan and Handling of Iraq War

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 3, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET!

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has a new book out called, "Known and Unknown: A Memoir." It's doing very well, achieving best-seller status almost immediately upon release.

But, the book is also controversial because Mr. Rumsfeld backs away a bit from the Iraq war policy. As you may know, President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld are considered the architects of what happened in Iraq.

With us now is Donald Rumsfeld. All right, we are going to get to Iraq. I've got two segments with you. So we'll get to that, but I've got to get to Libya first. Qaddafi, all right, he's got enough cash to hire the thugs to keep him in office. He lost most of the country. President Obama is pretty much playing it from a distance. What should the president do that he isn't doing?

DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I was President Reagan's Middle East envoy and spent a lot of time in that part of the world, and I think it would be a very good thing for the people of Libya and for the people of the region if Qaddafi left.

O'REILLY: Everybody knows that.

RUMSFELD: And what do you do about that?

O'REILLY: Yes, how do you facilitate it?

RUMSFELD: You do -- you do a range of things. You've got choices. You have choices of overt action and covert action. We don't know if there…

O'REILLY: We assume there is covert action going on.

RUMSFELD: I don't assume that.

O'REILLY: You don't assume that? See, I do.

RUMSFELD: I just don't know.

O'REILLY: Because I think, I think you've got Leon Panetta, the CIA chief, a good man. I think he is helping the rebels and they're helping the rebels to the extent they can.

RUMSFELD: I hope so.

O'REILLY: So I -- I'm assume that's happening.

RUMSFELD: Then you have got public diplomacy, what you say publicly.

O'REILLY: Right.

RUMSFELD: And people hear that…

O'REILLY: Right.

RUMSFELD: …and that can have an effect. But you also have private diplomacy, and we don't know what he's saying.

O'REILLY: That's true. But again, Hillary Clinton and the State Department have been pretty aggressive. But look, we've got warships going there. If you were the secretary of Defense now, would you recommend that we take, you know, put people in there to protect the rebels or protect the humanitarian people who are leaving? Should we have some more boots on the ground there? Should we do some air power stuff?

RUMSFELD: I listened to Secretary Gates, the secretary of Defense, and agreed with him that it's a lot more complicated…

O'REILLY: OK, so you would…

RUMSFELD: …than it looks.

O'REILLY: So you're agreeing with President Obama's…

RUMSFELD: Well, no. I would get in position so you could be able to do something.

O'REILLY: All right. So you would have warships there as a message.

RUMSFELD: And be prepared to do something depending on what took place. But I think people who are suggesting that it's easy…

O'REILLY: Nobody is suggesting that, Mr. Secretary, with all due respect. Would you shoot Libyan planes out of the air? And a no-fly zone.

RUMSFELD: It depends on what they were doing. I -- I don't know that you should put in a no-fly zone at the moment. I don't know what -- what the aircraft are doing and what the Libyan aircraft are doing.

O'REILLY: Well, you know we have reports from the correspondents on the ground the Libyan air force is bombing civilians, you know, keeping Qaddafi in power. So if that's the case…

RUMSFELD: If you had a no-fly zone, then you obviously…

O'REILLY: Yes, you could shoot them out of the air. Would you do that? Would you recommend that?

RUMSFELD: If you have no-fly zone, that's what you'd be there for.

O'REILLY: But do you want one? Do you think it…

RUMSFELD: No. I think -- I think, they ought to do the other things and be prepared to do that and see what happens.

O'REILLY: But not do it yet?


O'REILLY: All right. There is some urgency to it.

Now, Iran is emerging as a power in the region because, you know, Mubarak is out. A lot of the dictators have fallen and Iran loves this, right? Am I correct there? This is good for Iran? All of these guys falling down.

RUMSFELD: I think that's right.

O'REILLY: OK. Iran also has its eye…

RUMSFELD: In the long -- wait a minute, in the long run, it may not be.

O'REILLY: OK, but right now Iran is empowered by all of these guys going down. They have their eye on Iraq, Iran does.

RUMSFELD: But wait a minute. Iran has a population that isn't terribly happy with the Ayatollahs. There was…

O'REILLY: No, but they have a police state that can really tamp them down.

RUMSFELD: Of course they do. Well, that's true in a lot of those countries where they are not getting tamped down.

O'REILLY: But not as effective as this. Not as effective as this.

RUMSFELD: I mean, there was a revolution in Iran and it ended up in the hands of a few Ayatollahs and they are repressing the population in that country.

O'REILLY: Yes, but the difference is that the population is split and the theocracy with these brutal mullahs run the thing that's not universally unpopular. So I don't think there's going to be an uprising in the police state there. The police state can control those people.

RUMSFELD: Well, people think a police state can control people everywhere.

O'REILLY: A theocracy is a little bit different though.

RUMSFELD: I don't know that. I mean, that country has diverse elements. It's got people in the south, Kurds. It's got people in the north.

O'REILLY: No, it's all over the place, but…

RUMSFELD: It's got Persians.

O'REILLY: You know with that Revolutionary Guard being armed and dangerous they'll shoot anybody on sight. It's very, very tough.


RUMSFELD: Remember how fast it turned on the Shah? He had the SAVAK -- he had the SAVAK…

O'REILLY: Yes, but he didn't have the theocracy, he didn't have the religion. And that's what these guys prey on.

Afghanistan, Obama doing the right thing?

RUMSFELD: I have a lot of confidence in Petraeus.

O'REILLY: Petraeus?

RUMSFELD: Yes, I think he's a sensible man and a fine general officer. The reality is that country is going to have to nation build itself. We can't nation build another country…

O'REILLY: Give me odds of that happening. Everybody says the Afghans are just not going to do that, it's too corrupt, too backward.

RUMSFELD: Oh, I hear that corrupt baloney. Listen, is there -- how many countries in the world are corrupt? Most of them…


RUMSFELD: …have corruption. Look at the United States. How many congressmen have been sent to the slammer?

O'REILLY: Yes, but it's nothing on the scale of Afghanistan.

RUMSFELD: Well, listen. The criticism of Karzai, I think, are misplaced.

O'REILLY: All right.

RUMSFELD: And I think it's been very…

O'REILLY: You're a Karzai fan? You like him?

RUMSFELD: I think it's been very unwise. He -- he's been elected leader of that country.

O'REILLY: Yes, but it was a booted election; it was a rigged election.

RUMSFELD: Oh, come on.

O'REILLY: You don't buy that?

RUMSFELD: What is -- it was an election. They had their own constitution. And I think you…

O'REILLY: You think he's an honest guy, Karzai?


O'REILLY: Really?

RUMSFELD: I have seen no indication that he's corrupt. And I think the way he's been savaged by Holbrooke and by General Jones and by Biden and other people criticizing, he's -- he is the president of that country; we want him to succeed. Instead of running around and saying…

O'REILLY: Well, I want -- I certainly want the Taliban…

RUMSFELD: …oh there's gambling -- there's gambling in the casino, oh my goodness.

O'REILLY: Give me odds that the Taliban is defeated and we prevail in that country and a decent government is in. Give me odds.

RUMSFELD: Close question.

O'REILLY: 50/50?


O'REILLY: All right.

RUMSFELD: The Taliban are determined. They are -- they are extremists. They are brutal.

O'REILLY: And they've got a sanctuary in Pakistan.

RUMSFELD: Exactly.

O'REILLY: All right, today…

RUMSFELD: But they have a chance and we've given them a chance.

O'REILLY: We have absolutely given them 10 years of American blood and treasure.

RUMSFELD: You bet. You bet.

O'REILLY: All right, Mexico. Today, Calderon and Obama have a press conference. I tried to watch it. It put me to sleep. I think Mexico is the next big story. I think Calderon should declare martial law and let the military deal with the drug cartels. There's 35,000 dead down there, and he's just -- he doesn't seem to get it. Neither of them seemed to get it. Am I wrong?

RUMSFELD: The idea of a 2,000-mile border with the United States and a dysfunctional country is a terribly dangerous thing.

O'REILLY: That's what I think.

RUMSFELD: On the other hand, there's -- there is an optimistic side.

O'REILLY: Oh, come on.

RUMSFELD: Yes. In the year 2000 -- I'll give it to you.


RUMSFELD: In the year 2000, Colombia, the FARC was winning.

O'REILLY: We won there. But they had a charismatic leader who is willing to go in.

RUMSFELD: I'm -- I'm coming to that.

O'REILLY: Yes, we don't have time for this.

RUMSFELD: Well, but Uribe did a whale of a job down there.

O'REILLY: He did.

RUMSFELD: And – and…

O'REILLY: But Calderon why doesn't he just declare martial law and let the army take care of the cartels. That's the solution to his problem.

RUMSFELD: They've had a series of leaders in that country that have been…

O'REILLY: Corrupt like Karzai.

RUMSFELD: Come on. You don't know that.

O'REILLY: I have got pretty good information.


O'REILLY: All right.

RUMSFELD: Maybe someone in his family.

O'REILLY: I don't know.

RUMSFELD: Maybe people in the government.

O'REILLY: When we come back I'm going to give you hard time about Iraq. Are you ready for that?

RUMSFELD: We've had three governors in Illinois go to the slammer in my adult life.

O'REILLY: Well, I'll trade Illinois for the Taliban and we take Afghanistan free. No, I'm only kidding the people in Illinois. All right, are you ready? I'm going to give you hard time about Iraq when we come back.

RUMSFELD: I may give you a hard time.

O'REILLY: All right. I hope so. In a moment we will talk Iraq with Mr. Rumsfeld. Was it worth the blood and treasure?


O'REILLY: Continuing now with the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the author of the new best-seller "Known and Unknown: A Memoir."

Mr. Secretary, I interviewed you three times during the Iraq war, all right? Each time you were kind of optimistic about that situation. The war had cost America about 4,442 dead and almost a $1 trillion.

RUMSFELD: No, it has, not had.

O'REILLY: We are in the process.


O'REILLY: That's where things are: almost $1 trillion in expense and over 4,000 dead. Now, it is a democracy. It's not like Iraq -- it's not like Afghanistan. I don't believe it was a corrupt election there. I believe that he was elected legitimately. Shaky, but we accomplished our goal there. We accomplished it. But I submit to you and you know I was a supporter of the Iraq war, OK? And I don't blame you for weapons of mass destruction. I think what the data we had anybody could have made that mistake. The New York Times had it on the front page they had weapons of mass destruction. But the way the war was waged, come on. That was a big screw-up. We didn't have enough troops there. We didn't -- we underestimated the problems there. Didn't we?

RUMSFELD: I think you are wrong, and I will tell you why.

O'REILLY: All right.

RUMSFELD: It was an evolving situation. General Franks had a plan where we could have put 450,000 troops into Iraq. He had off-ramps when he decided he didn't need them. He made recommendations to me. I agreed with him. The other people in the National Security Council agreed with him. The people, his battlefield commanders agreed with him. What happened then? I mean, he was very successful with the major combat operation.


RUMSFELD: And then what happened? Several things happened. 100,000 prisoners Saddam let loose from his prisons. He called for jihad and it was not predicted there would be an insurgency of this nature but they came from Iran, they came from Syria, they came from various other countries. Third, the Sunnis felt they were left out and so they worked with the Al Qaeda, and as -- over the months, you ended up with an insurgency.

O'REILLY: All of those things are true.


O'REILLY: Shouldn't you have anticipated them? See, when you a launch a war of that size you have got to say what could go wrong?

RUMSFELD: I did. If you go to my website you will see a thing called the "Parade of Horribles" where I listed 15, 20, 30…

O'REILLY: Back then you listed them?

RUMSFELD: You bet. Before the war…

O'REILLY: Why didn't you tell me and the press?

RUMSFELD: Well, I told the president; I told the National Security Council.

O'REILLY: You didn't tell the people.

RUMSFELD: We talked about any number of things that could go wrong.

O'REILLY: Inside, but the public had no idea. I didn't have any idea.

RUMSFELD: We didn't know what would go wrong.

O'REILLY: But you had an idea what could go wrong.

RUMSFELD: You bet.

O'REILLY: Shouldn't the public have been in on that?

RUMSFELD: I don't think so.

O'REILLY: Come on.


O'REILLY: Because they are the guys that are fighting. We are the people that elect people to make decisions.

RUMSFELD: The people fighting were aware of these things. They were wearing, for example, chemical suits.

O'REILLY: You are telling me that the American public did not have a right to know the parade of horribles that you knew? The unintended consequences.

RUMSFELD: They did know many of those things.

O'REILLY: No, you should have told them and so should have President Bush have told them.

RUMSFELD: They were told a lot of that.

O'REILLY: They were -- I didn't know any of that and I do this for a living.

RUMSFELD: Come on, sure you were.

O'REILLY: Did I know you were going to fire all of Saddam's infrastructure, they would all be fired so they would be teed off and come back and shoot you? Did I know the armaments were going to be looted and that you weren't going to have American soldiers stationed there to stop that? Did I know that the Sunnis were going to be shut out and were going to be so angry they would attack Americans? I didn't know any of that.

RUMSFELD: Do you want me to respond to that?


RUMSFELD: OK. The decision on the army suggests now today in retrospect that it was disbanded and it was a big mistake. In fact, it disbanded itself and Bremmer and the coalition provisional authority have been criticized for that. The only real fault one can make is they didn't start paying the people fast enough. There was a delay in being able to pay the people who had disbanded themselves and then they reconstituted the military with the de-Baathification. The same thing was done in Nazi, Germany. They had a de-Nazification program.

O'REILLY: We had defeated them to the ground though.

RUMSFELD: No, my lord, there was looting all over the Bremen area. We've got selective memory here.

O'REILLY: I'm running out of time. I'm going to bring you back.

RUMSFELD: Wait a second. You made all those charges and then you don't let me answer.

O'REILLY: No, I want you to answer. The big thing is that I don't think the American people were aware of the unintended consequences that could have happened. Make your last point.

RUMSFELD: Your little tease before I came out here…

O'REILLY: Right.

RUMSFELD: …suggested that I was saying one thing publicly and one thing privately. Let me explain that. I was saying what I was saying publicly and it's what I believed at the time. We all know that any plan is out the window once you make first contact with the enemy. That's the nature of it. Eisenhower I think said the plan is nothing; planning is everything. And because you have to keep adjusting and adapting to what takes place in the battlefield. If anyone thinks you can sit back, plan the thing all out and have it go that way, it's never been that way. You know that. Just a minute.

O'REILLY: Go ahead.

RUMSFELD: So what I said was here is where I think we are every week or so. But I was constantly inside doing what a responsible leader should, and so was the president and so was everyone else in the NSC. I was saying what about this? Shouldn't we be thinking about that? Are we doing everything we need to do?

O'REILLY: All right. But the public didn't know.

RUMSFELD: Those are responsible questions inside. And they are not…

O'REILLY: And that's why people should read your book.

RUMSFELD: I hope so. And I hope they will go to the website

O'REILLY: But all I'm going to tell is the public and I didn't know a lot of this stuff, and I think we should have. Mr. Secretary, always good to see you.

RUMSFELD: Thank you.

O'REILLY: Very, very good debate. Very fun.

RUMSFELD: Good to be here.

Content and Programming Copyright 2011 Fox News Network, Inc. Copyright 2011 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.