Transcript: Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and Sec. of Defense Robert Gates Speak to Cynthia McFadden

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GATES: First of all, I think frankly Hillary put it best in the hearing we did together. What what you have seen develop, first of all that border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan is is the epicenter of terrorism, because whether you're in Yemen or Somalia or in Asia or wherever else, they are getting encouragement, they are taking inspiration, and often they are taking guidance from Osama Bin Laden and Zawahiri and their minions who are telling these guys what kind of operations to plan, to keep their focus on the U.S. and so on.

Furthermore, they have created what Hillary calls the syndicate of terror, with it is not just Al-Qaida, it's the Taliban in Pakistan, it's the Taliban in Afghanistan, it's the Haqqani network, it's all these different groups. And a success for one becomes a success for all. So if we don't deal with that problem, then we are going to have a challenge of our own security. And the tentacles spread to a lot of different places, North Africa, Yemen, elsewhere.

McFADDEN: So what can we do to help the Yemen government?

CLINTON: Well we're actually working with the government of Yemen, and we're providing equipment, ah military advice. Ah it's their army which conducts the actions against the Al-Qaida affiliates in Yemen. But we're also trying to persuade the government of Yemen that this is not just about killing bad guys. This is about improving the lives of the people in Yemen.

So from my perspective on the diplomacy and development side, we're trying to assist the government of Yemen to make it clear that it's a full comprehensive effort to try to change direction. If you look at what's happening in Yemen, they're running out of oil. They may be the first country to run out of water. They have a wealth of problems and their internal conflicts between tribes in the south with the government, tribes in the north with the government, it's an incredibly difficult political environment.

So we are working, along with a lot of our allies in the Gulf, because it's not just the United States, it's Saudi Arabia and others who see terrorism emanating from Yemen. It's many of our European friends, and as we just saw with the packages that ah started in Yemen, with the Christmas Day bomber who was trained and directed from Yemen, these these problems can migrate in many different directions. So we have to work where we are with governments and like-minded friends.

McFADDEN: So you tell me you're not going to stay in office more than another year, Secretary Gates? Any thoughts about who might do a good job at Defense?

CLINTON: We're hoping that that timeline keeps moving further and further ah beyond . . .

GATES: . . . We have, we have . . .

CLINTON: . . . We came in together, we should go out together! That's my theory!

GATES: We have, we have what we call the Old Folks Caucus.

CLINTON: [laughter]

GATES: Since we're so much older than everybody else in the government right now! We're the only ones that kinda pick up on our cultural allusions and our jokes and things like that! All these younger people are sitting around with what -- what was that all about? . . .

CLINTON: . . . What are they talking about!

[laughter]

McFADDEN: Could she do your job?

CLINTON: I --

GATES: Sure.

CLINTON: Well yeah, but --

McFADDEN: But what?

CLINTON: No, no, wait a minute!

McFADDEN: I asked -- Just a second, I asked him.

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