George Stephanopoulos' Exclusive Interview with Sen. Hillary Clinton

CLINTON: Well, I just disagree with that. You know, I can imagine what the stories would have been had I attended a National Security Council meeting. You were there. I think you can vouch for that.

But I had direct access to all of the decision-makers. I was briefed on a range of issues, often provided classified information. And often when I traveled on behalf of our country. I traveled with representatives from the DOD, the CIA, the State Department. I think that my experience is unique, having been eight years in the White House, having, yes, been part of making history, and also been part of learning how to best present our country's case. And now, seven years on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

STEPHANOPOULOS: President Clinton has said, has suggested that you urged him to intervene in Rwanda in 1994.


CLINTON: It is. It is true. And, you know, I believe that our government failed. We obviously didn't have a lot of good options. It moved very quickly. It was a difficult, terrible genocide to try to get our arms around and to do something to try to stem or prevent. It didn't happen, and that is something that the president has apologized for, and I think that for me, it was one of the most poignant and difficult experiences, when I met with Rwandan refugees in Kampala, Uganda, shortly after the genocide ended, and I personally apologized to women whose arms had been hacked off, who had seen their husbands and their children murdered before their very eyes and were at the bottom of piles of bodies.

And then when I was able to go to Rwanda and be part of expressing our deep regrets, because we didn't speak out adequately enough, and we certainly didn't take action.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You called President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan an unreliable ally. Should he step down?

CLINTON: I'm not calling for him to step down. I'm calling for him, number one, to agree with an independent investigation of Benazir Bhutto's death. I am calling on him to hold free and fair elections with independent monitors. I believe that it will take a little time to get that ready, because Benazir's party will have to choose a successor leader...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So we don't need the elections on the 8th?

CLINTON: Well, I think it will be very difficult to have a real election. You know, Nawaz Sharif has said he's not going to compete. The PPP is in disarray with Benazir's assassination. He could be the only person on the ballot. I don't think that's a real election.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are we getting to the point, as the United States faced back in 1979, when we stood behind a leader who doesn't have the trust of his people, for too long?

CLINTON: Well, that's very possible. We don't know. We know that there is a very strong, pro-democracy, anti-Musharraf movement.

You know, when you have people demonstrating in the streets who are wearing coats and ties, you know, those are the people we should be standing with, the civil society, the middle class of Pakistan, that at this point, if Musharraf were to step down, who would take his place? How would that ever be worked out? This is not a country that has a history of peaceful succession.

This is an opportunity for President Musharraf to step up and actually fulfill many of the words and promises that he's made to me and to many others over the course of a number of years.

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