'This Week' Transcript: Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld


TAPPER: Vintage Donald Rumsfeld right there, appearing on ABC many Sundays ago, in 1976, during his first tour as secretary of defense. His second more turbulent Pentagon tour ended in 2006, after which Rumsfeld clammed up and went low-profile, but now he's back answering his critics with a new book on the New York Times best-seller list -- and I should note that all proceeds are going to military charities that support the wounded and the families of the fallen. Secretary Rumsfeld joins us again from Florida.

Mr. Secretary, let's talk about your book. It's a best-seller, and it's interesting, but there seems to be a common thread in the criticism. Bob Woodward of the Washington Post called it, quote, "one big clean-up job, a brazen effort to shift blame to others, including President Bush, distort history, ignore the record, or simply avoid discussing matters that cannot be airbrushed away."

Without making this a fight between you and Bob Woodward, how do you respond to the general criticism that you used this book to shift blame away from things that were your responsibility?

RUMSFELD: Well, first, I'd say that the comment on the book has been all across the spectrum, a good deal of praise, and then there are people like Woodward who've criticized it. And I understand that. These are tough issues. It's a controversial set of subjects.

I decided that, unlike Woodward, who writes a book fast and doesn't have a website to document it, and talks to people who were not involved in the decisions in some cases, second and three layers down, that's a different kind of a book.

My book has over 1,300 endnotes. It has hundreds of footnotes. I have created a website that has over 3,500 primary-source documents and other types of documents that support the book. So if someone reads the book, they see a paragraph I've quoted from a memo and then go to the endnote and go right to the website and read the entire memo. This is an unusual book in the sense that it is fully documented.

And I feel very good about it. I think that we have had something like 10 million hits on the website, where serious people -- rather than criticizing -- have gone to the website, tried to see what really took place, and began to see how tough those decisions are, that all the easy decisions get made below the presidential level, and that these decisions are inevitably going to be made by people. They're multidimensional. They are decisions that in many instances are made with imperfect information, in some cases, even with inaccurate information.

But I think it will give historians and people seriously interested in these subjects a chance to see really what it was like on the inside, which is, of course, not the case with these books that are written by people who weren't there.

TAPPER: All right. Well, let's talk about some of the footnotes, because I did go to www.rumsfeld.com, the website you surprisingly just failed to -- to name, and also have read the book. And there was something that was very interesting, and that is this memo that you prepared before the war in Iraq in which you outlined all of the worst-case scenarios, the things that could go wrong. You didn't think they were going to go wrong, but they could go wrong. You called it the parade of horribles.

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