'This Week' Transcript: Tom Donilon


DONILON: As you know from covering many of these events, initial reports can sometimes be inaccurate, right, and need to be corrected. And as soon as the information was refined and was corrected, the administration put that out.

You know, when I looked at the picture the other day, the famous picture now of us in the Situation Room -- looked at it yesterday -- I was -- I tried to reflect on it a little bit, and my eyes went to the president. And we ask a tremendous amount of our presidents, including these kind of decisions. And this -- you know, a week ago Thursday evening, he got his last briefing on this in the Situation Room. And he got divided counsel, frankly.

AMANPOUR: Divided?

DONILON: Absolutely. As you would expect.

AMANPOUR: Was there dissension?

DONILON: Divided counsel, people recommending different options.

AMANPOUR: Because it's been written (ph) dissension amongst the ranks.

DONILON: I wouldn't call it dissension. I would call it -- I would call it -- I would call it a divided counsel, that people had -- were in favor of different options. And I've served three presidents, as you know. And you watch the president take this in. He chaired five National Security Council meetings in six weeks. Take all that in, say, I'm not going to make my decision now, I'll tell you my decision tomorrow, stand up, walk out of the Situation Room, go down that colonnade that you know so well by the Rose Garden to his residence, and make that decision.

And this is what we ask of our president. And I think in this case the president was well served by the process, and we're well served by his decision.

AMANPOUR: As you know, there are many in the Republican Party, many former Bush administration officials -- the attorney general of the Bush administration wrote in the Wall Street Journal that, quite frankly, it was the Bush policies that led to this success, that the enhanced interrogation methods were pretty much the thing that led to you all finding Osama bin Laden, and that President Obama's decision to do away with enhanced interrogation will mean that it will be very difficult, if at all possible, to get these kinds of intelligence again. So do you think then that it's -- you should reinstate harsh interrogation?

DONILON: No. And, in fact, I can't really and won't, frankly, get into specific pieces of intelligence that led to the raid on Abbottabad. But what I will say further, though, is this, is that no single piece of intelligence that was gathered many years ago or in the interim, no single piece of intelligence led to this success. It was hundreds of pieces of intelligence. And that's how these cases are put together, as you know, over time. And it was across two administrations.

When President Obama was told that our forces were safely back in Afghanistan, the first person he called outside the White House was President Bush.

AMANPOUR: How badly is your relationship with Pakistan damaged because of this? I mean, we've heard...

DONILON: Yes. Yes.

AMANPOUR: ... Leon Panetta, we've heard others say, I mean, they were either incompetent or they were involved, we didn't tip them off because they would have tipped off the target. I mean, what are you going to do to restore and to -- to fix this relationship?

DONILON: Let me say two or three things about...

AMANPOUR: Actually, first I want to understand...

DONILON: Of course.

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