Then the upper levels of the Taliban -- you know, look. They have to renounce al Qaeda, renounce violence. They have to be willing to abide by the constitution of Afghanistan and live peacefully.
We have no firm information whether any of those leaders would be at all interested in following that kind of a path. In fact, I'm highly skeptical that any of them would.
So, we're going to be consulting with our Afghan partners. It's going to be a multiply-run operation to see who might come off of the battlefield, and who might possibly give up their allegiance to the Taliban and their connection with the...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But high-level negotiations are possible?
CLINTON: We don't know yet. And again, I think that -- we asked Mullah Omar to give up bin Laden before we went into Afghanistan after 9/11, and he wouldn't do it. I don't know why we think he would have changed by now.
GATES: I would just add, I think that the likelihood of the leadership of the Taliban, or seniors leaders, being willing to accept the conditions Secretary Clinton just talked about depends in the first instance on reversing their momentum right now, and putting them in a position where they suddenly begin to realize that they're likely to lose.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How is this offensive in Helmand Province going?
GATES: It's actually going very well. And the Marines have already had -- I think one of the reasons that our military leaders are pretty confident is that they have already begun to see changes where the Marines are present in southern Helmand.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the question of costs, which has been raised by our next guest, Senator Russ Feingold. As you know, he's against the escalation announced by the president.
But he's also gone (ph) and wrote a letter to the president where he raises -- where he says, we request that you not send any additional troops to Afghanistan until Congress has enacted appropriations to pay for the cost of such an increase, and that you propose reductions in spending to pay for the costs of any military operations in Afghanistan -- a concern shared by many of the American people.
Secretary Clinton, shouldn't this war, if we're going to fight it, be paid for?
CLINTON: Well, the president has said that the costs are going to be accounted for, that the Office of Management and Budget, the Defense Department, the State Department, you know, are going to be working to make sure that we give the best projections of costs we can.
I think that we're going to have to address our deficit situation across the board. There's no doubt about that, and I certainly support that.
But I think we have to look at the entire budget, and we have to be very clear about, you know, what the costs are, as Secretary Gates has said a couple of times in our testimony together. We are drawing down from Iraq. There will be savings over the next two to three years coming from there. And the addition of these troops is going to put a burden on us, no doubt about it.
It is manageable, but we have to look at all of our fiscal situation and begin to address this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There's also the question of the cost-benefit analysis. And a lot of people look at our own U.S. government intelligence estimates, saying there are fewer than 100 active al Qaeda in Afghanistan and say, why is that worth putting $30 billion more this year into Afghanistan?