Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey on 'This Week'

Martha Raddatz speaks with Gen. Dempsey on Edward Snowden and turmoil in the Middle East.
7:49 | 08/04/13

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Transcript for Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey on 'This Week'
russia has stabbed us in the back and each day that snowden is allowed to roam free is another twist of the knife. Tough talk for senator chuck schumer after russia granted asylum to fugitive edward snowden this week. One of many challenges facing our next guest, general martin dempsey, president obama's top military adviser who is in the room for every national security decision the commander in chief makes. Our exclusive interview happening as he enters his second term and perhaps most intense period as joint chiefs chairman with violence flaring across the mideast. But we started off with what the u.S. Should do about edward snowden. Do you know where he is? No, I don't. How serious is this that russia has done this? Well, you know, you've heard it characterized as disappointing, and, you know, that is the first word that comes to mind. Snowden is not a guy that's doing these things for honorable or noble purpose. You know, he's not doing this to make some kind of statement or spirited debate. He has caused us some considerable damage to our intelligence architecture. Our adversaries are changing the way that they communicate. My job is to protect the country, so I am very concerned about this. Do you know how much classified material he has right now? No, I do not. I do not, although it's obviously significant. Is there a way for the russians or the chinese to get that information without physically grabbing his computer? Well, I don't know. I mean, that's one of those technical means that would exceed, you know, my knowledge, but I'd certainly be concerned about that. Would that surprise you? No, it wouldn't surprise me. It wouldn't surprise you that they might have already gotten that information. No, it wouldn't surprise me. Another challenge on dempsey's radar, the growing crisis in egypt where we saw firsthand recently the passionate protesters determined to get ousted president mohamed morsi back into office. We wanted to see it in egypt. We went to the palace and we wanted but we didn't see it. Reporter: In a highly controversy statement this week, secretary of state john kerry described the overthrow of morsi this way -- to run the country there is a civilian government. In effect, they were restoring democracy. Do you agree with that statement? I've actually been asked what I feel it is at this point, and my answer has typically been, i don't know yet. This will only be apparent as we see what the transitional government intends to do. He was a democratically elected president. How can you call it restoring democracy? Well, that's why I didn't sign up for that characterization when you just asked me. I think -- I think, frankly, that we will know what it is soon, but it may not be apparent -- so kerry may have misspoken there. I don't know. I'm not going to speak for the secretary of state. He's the leading diplomat of our nation. I want to move on to syria. Uh-huh. This week we saw video of bashar al assad just outside damascus, a place that was previously held by the rebels, now retaken by syrian government troops. Is he winning? This kind of conflict, an internal civil war insurgency, always ebbs and flows. He appears to be gaining momentum, but I don't think it'll be sustainable. What happens next? Well, what happens next is the source of continuing discussions about our strategy and whether we should become directly involved or become involved through support to the opposition building partners in the region, humanitarian relief. Now, we're doing -- we're doing quite a bit. The one thing we're not doing is becoming engaged directly. Let me talk about iraq. Sure. I have seen you, been with you numerous times in iraq and through the years. I think the first time we met was right after the initial invasion. How do you view iraq today? I think july was the most violent month in five years, about a thousand civilians killed. Wass iraq a success? When I look back at the sacrifices we made in iraq, we did, in fact, provide them with an historic opportunity to be what they want to be. Now, I'm not suggesting they're where they need -- where they want to be or where we would like them to be, because, again, this regional -- this kind of unleashing of what probably is centuries-old animosities is going to take a while for them to get through. How much of what you learned from iraq are you applying to syria? It has branded in me the idea that the use of military power must be part of an overall strategic solution that includes international partners and the whole of government, and that simply the application of force rarely produces, in fact, maybe never produces the outcome we seek. Meanwhile, back home a serious challenge within the military's own ranks. A disturbing increase in sexual assaults, an estimated 26,000 just last year. The debate, whether commanders should be involved in the decision to prosecute offenders. Senator kirsten gillibrand wants to take it out of the chain of command. Why should it not be so if half of women do not want to go to their commanders to report this? Yeah, a victim doesn't have to go to the commander. There are at least nine other places where a victim can go, and, by the way, we are doing other things other than trying to help the senators that are interested in legislative changes to the uniform code of military justice. There's things we can do ourselves. We can, as the air force has done, we can accept a program for special victims counsels. There's -- you're looking at all sorts -- we're looking at every possible way and open-minded to every single option. Okay. Wrapping up right now, you had a grandchild, the eighth grandchild this week, right? I did. And your job was to do what? Well, my job was to baby-sit the newest grandson's 2-year-old twin brothers, which actually was probably the most difficult thing I've done since I've been chairman. You were telling me that one of the things your grandsons and all your grandkids love is you singing the national anthem at national parks. How did that come about? ♪ What so proudly we hail ♪ this is a whole story. I had gone to throw out a pitch, and right before the pitch someone had performed the national anthem, and it wasn't very good and I -- no, it wasn't. And I take the national anthem really seriously, and that won't surprise you, and I said to one of the owners, you couldn't do any better than that? And he kiddingly said, you think you can do better? And I said yeah. He said, okay, we'll set a date, and we set the fourth of july. You chose that, right? I chose the fourth of july and you'll also notice, lest you think I'm a brave man, I brought four of the best singers I could find from the army chorus. ♪ For the land of the free ♪ and together we sang the national anthem. It was really moving actually. It was a beautiful performance, and I've seen many others of your performances of singing. Anything you want to sing right now? No. I knew you were going to say that. And I knew you were going to ask. Yes, you did. You were prepared for it, and i can't sing either, so thanks

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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