Nov. 15, 2009 -- ABC NEWS, THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS INTERVIEW WITH SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON AND FORMER MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: And we begin today with the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Thanks for spending time with us this morning.
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Oh, it's a pleasure to talk with you from Singapore, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And as you're in Singapore, you and the President are facing really his toughest decision yet on Afghanistan. And on his way over when he stopped in Elmendorf Air Force Base, President Obama made this commitment to the troops and the country. Listen.
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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATESTEPHANOPOULOS: We'll give you the strategy and the clear mission you deserve. We'll give you the equipment and support that you need to get the job done. And that includes public support back home. That is a promise that I make to you.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Now that is a tough promise to keep. History shows that the public won't support a war for very long if they're not convinced that the goal is worthy. But also, and probably more important, that the war can be won. How can you convince the country that this war can be won?
CLINTON: Well I think the President said it very well in talking to some of the brave young men and women in uniform when he stopped at Elmendorf.
What he's been doing in the last weeks is testing every single assumption, asking for evidence, asking for dissenting opinions. I mean, he has conducted an extraordinary effort to make sure that the decision he makes is rooted in his best judgment as to what is in the national security interest of the United States. And I believe that's a case that can be made to the American people. I have no doubt about that. Now, look, I understand that there will be people who are maybe critical or unconvinced or not persuaded. But I think the majority of Americans will know that this president has gone the extra mile, in fact, more than that to make sure that whatever decision he makes is in the best interest of our country, that it is aimed at making our country more secure and supporting our men and women in uniform as they fulfill the mission.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, one of those dissenting voices right now is reported to be our ambassador in Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry. He's also the former commanding general of U.S. forces there. And he has sent cables to Washington warning that President Karzai is not a worthy partner and that sending more troops to Afghanistan now could actually make it more difficult for the Afghan government, President Karzai, the Afghan army to do what they need to defend their country on their own. And I know you can't comment on any classified cables but what do you think of this sentiment that President Karzai has not shown that he's a credible partner yet and that sending more troops now will actually make the Afghan army too dependent on U.S. forces?
CLINTON: Well, George, you're right. I can't and wouldn't comment on the confidential advice that anyone has provided to the President during his deliberations. But the argument that you've just described is one that a number of people have made in the press and in arguments that have certainly been made known to me, to the President and others. We agree that our goal here is to defeat al-Qaeda. That has been a clear goal and a mission from the President ever since he made his commitment of additional troops back in the spring. And we understand that the Afghans themselves need help in order to defend themselves against the Taliban. Those are mutually reinforcing missions but our highest obligation is to the American people. It is to do everything we can to make sure that America is secure, that our allies, our interests around the world are protected. And that is what we're focused on. Now we believe that President Karzai and his government can do better. We've delivered that message. Now that the election is finally over we're looking to see tangible evidence that the government, led by the president but going all the way down to the local level, will be more responsive to the needs of the people, will deliver the services that the people of Afghanistan want, who do not want to return to the Taliban, but they want a government that actually can function on their behalf. And that together we and our allies in the international community will help them to build a security force that can take care of their security going forward.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But President Karzai does seem to be ignoring some of our concerns. He's surrounded by a Vice President Marshal Fahim whose been accused of corruption. He's allied with General Dostum, a warlord, whose been accused of massacres in the past. What kind of concrete steps must President Karzai take to prove sending more troops is not a waste of American lives and American money?
CLINTON: I have made it clear that we're not going to be providing any civilian aid to Afghanistan unless we have a certification that if it goes into the Afghan government in any form, that we're going to have ministries that we can hold accountable. We are expecting there to be a major crimes tribunal, an anti-corruption commission established and functioning because there does have to be actions by the government of Afghanistan against those who have taken advantage of the money that has poured into Afghanistan in the last eight years so that we can better track it and we can have actions taken that demonstrate there's no impunity for those who are corrupt.
So we're going to be doing what we can to create an atmosphere in which the blood and treasure that the United States has committed to Afghanistan can be justified and can produce the kind of results that we're looking for.
But we have no illusions. This is not the prior days when people would come on your show and talk about how we were going to help the Afghans build a modern democracy and build a more functioning state and do all these wonderful things. That could happen but our primary focus is on the security of the United States of America. How do we protect and defend against future attacks. We do not want to see Afghanistan return to being a safe haven and a staging platform for terrorism as it was before. That is what is driving the President to make the best decision he can make.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The word of the week in Washington seems to be off-ramps. That's what the President is pushing for, off-ramps out of Afghanistan. What is the off-ramp out of Afghanistan?
CLINTON: Well, I think you know we want to get al-Qaeda, George, and we're very clear about that and we see it as part of our integrated strategy looking at Afghanistan and Pakistan as a theater in which we have to operate. We have made it clear to the Pakistanis, as well as to the Afghans and others that we want to do everything we can to disrupt dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda.
And when we talk about on-ramps, off-ramps, whatever the terminology of the day might be, you know, that's a kind of shorthand. What we're trying to figure out is, what is the best decision the President can make to achieve our primary core objectives?
You know, we're not interested in staying in Afghanistan. We have no long-term stake there. We want that to be made very clear. We came to do a mission. Unfortunately it was not achieved in the last eight years. In fact, the mission was changed because it could not be achieved, or it no longer was the primary goal that was expressed in the prior administration. Well, our goal is very clear. We want to get the people who attacked us and we want to prevent them and their syndicate of terrorism from posing a threat to us, our allies and our interests.
STEPHANOPOULOS: While you are there the Attorney General announced that he was going to be prosecuting al-Qaeda members in U.S. criminal courts in Manhattan, in New York City, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four of his of his alleged accomplices. And that came under some fire, including from the former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani who's our next guest. Here's what the mayor had to say about that decision.
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RUDY GUILIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: This was an act of war and an act of terror. They should be prosecuted, they should be prosecuted in a Military tribunal. We would not have tried the people who attacked Pearl Harbor in a civilian court in Hawaii for what they did.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: Now it is true that during World War II we tried Nazis who crossed our borders in Military courts, in Military tribunals. Why is it so important to have these trials in Federal criminal courts?
CLINTON: Well, of course, George, this is a decision that the Attorney General, the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense have made after extensive, exhaustive review.
Look, I was a senator for eight years. I was a senator on 9/11. My goal is to make sure that the mastermind and the other implementers and designers of this horrific attack on us pay the ultimate penalty for what they did to the United States and to a lot of people whom I know and who I had the honor of representing.
The Attorney General determined after consulting with veteran prosecutors that this was the case that appropriately can be brought in our Federal courts. Other cases will be brought in the Military commissions. I'm not going to second guess the Attorney General.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The State Department has the job of trying to find homes for the 90 or so prisoners at Guantanamo who've been cleared for release but there's no country that will take them.
How long will it take to find places for those 90 detainees? And will that delay, how much further will that delay the closing of Guantanamo?
CLINTON: Well, actually, George, we've been making progress. I think when we started there were way more than 100 -- I don't remember the exact number. We have a dedicated group led by Ambassador Dan Fried, who has literally traveled the world making arrangements for detainees to be transferred to countries willing to accept them. And we are making progress. There's a large group of detainees from Yemen that posed some specific security issues that have to be addressed. But we are making progress.
STEPHANOPOULOS: While you've been gone Sarah Palin is making quite a splash back here in the United States. Her book "Going Rogue" is about to be released but there are already excerpts out. And she has some kind words for you in the book. She says she was wrong to criticize you last year for whining and now she says that she realized the media was biased when they were talking about your candidacy. And she goes on to say this, to write this.
"Should Secretary Clinton and I ever sit down over a cup of coffee, I know that we will fundamentally disagree on many issues. But my hat is off to her hard work on the 2008 campaign trail. A lot of her supporters think she proved what Margaret Thatcher proclaimed. 'If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.'" It sounds like she's fishing for a coffee date. Is it going to happen?
CLINTON: Well, you know, I've never met her. Look, I'd look forward to sit down and talk with her. Obviously we're going to hear a lot more from her in the upcoming weeks with her book coming out and I would look forward to having a chance to actually get to meet her. STEPHANOPOULOS: Was the media fair to her?
CLINTON: Well, you know George, I'll leave that for my book if I ever write another one.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Well, I only have one final question. As you know Mayor Giuliani is following you in just a minute. And he's been talking to a lot of people in New York about running for governor next year. And a lot of governors think you're doing exactly the same thing.
Are they right?
CLINTON: What -- that I –
STEPHANOPOULOS: Talking to people about running for governor? (CROSSTALK)
STEPHANOPOULOS: No, talking about running for governor yourself next year. CLINTON: No, no, no. That's another one of those stories that never will die and I hope maybe we can put it to rest today. No, I am committed to the job that I have. It is an extraordinarily important time to be the Secretary of State of my country and to work with President Obama in trying to pursue our interests and advance our values around the world and that's what I am going to continue doing.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So that rumor is dead. You're not running?
CLINTON: That rumor is dead. And if you can please, you know, put it in a little box and send it off somewhere I'd appreciate it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: All right. It is done. Madame Secretary, thanks very much for your time today.
CLINTON: Thanks, George. Good to talk to you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And with that, let me bring in the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, from New York City right now. Welcome back, Mr. Mayor.
GIULIANI: Nice to be back, George. How are you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm doing great, thank you. So let's start with the politics. Hillary is out from running in 2010. Is Rudy in?
GIULIANI: Well, I don't know about that. It was interesting to see her be so definitive about it, but I kind of thought that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What about you? You said a couple of months ago that you would make a decision in November. Polls show you actually as the leading Republican candidate, the leading Republican hopeful, and it's also shaping up potentially to be quite a Republican year in 2010. How hard are you looking at it and will you run?
GIULIANI: Well, I'll take it all under consideration and decide it pretty soon, but I haven't -- haven't really focused on it yet. But I will very soon.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you lean for or against?
GIULIANI: Am I leaning for or against? I'm not leaning at all. I'm straight ahead.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Well, then, let's go to the news of the week on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. You saw Secretary Clinton right there.
What I'd like to ask you about, though, are comments you made back in 2006. That's when the 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, was convicted in federal criminal court. You were disappointed that he didn't get the death penalty, but you did praise the overall trial. Here's what you said -- you said, "I was in awe of our system. It does demonstrate that we can give people a fair trial, that we are exactly what we say we are. We are a nation of law." You called it a symbol of justice then. If criminal court was good enough for Moussaoui, why isn't it good enough for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?
GIULIANI: Well, it was, and it would be good enough for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but the reality is, there's another alternative, and the administration for some strange reason is creating the other alternative, military tribunals. They're going to try five other people at least in those military tribunals. I don't understand why they can't try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in the military tribunal. That also would demonstrate we're a nation of laws. That is the way in which we have tried enemy combatants in the past, whether it was the second world war or the Civil War. So, we're basically, in this particular case, we're reaching out to give terrorists a benefit that's unnecessary. In fact, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, when he was first arrested, asked to be brought to New York. I didn't think we were in the business of granting the requests of terrorists.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yet it does show the world that we have nothing to fear. That is the argument that the attorney general makes. And also, if you look at the history here, you got more than 200 international terrorists in federal prisons right now. Not only Zacarias Moussaoui in the supermax, you've got Ramzi Yousef, Richard Reed, the blind sheikh Abdul Rahman. We have demonstrated that our federal system can handle this, and we can put these people away if necessary.
GIULIANI: But we also demonstrated that our federal system has an enormously protracted process that's going to go on forever. That it grants more benefits than a military tribunal will grant. There's always the possibility of acquittal, change of venue.
And the reality is, George, it also creates an extra risk that isn't necessary. It creates an extra risk for New York. Now, New York can handle it, there is no question about it, but why add an additional risk when you don't have to do that?
And then I'm troubled by the symbolism of it, also. It seems to me that the Obama administration is getting away from the fact that we're at war with these terrorists. They no longer use the term war on terror. They have been very slow to react to the whole situation with Major Hasan, which was clearly a terrorist act in the name of Islamic terrorism. Gosh, he announced it as such when he did it. He was carrying around business cards saying "soldier of Allah."
So, it would seem to me that this is the worst symbol to send, that this is a civilian matter. It was the mistake we made in '93. In '93, we treated the attack on the World Trade Center as a civilian matter. Understandable back then. We didn't have the example of September 11th. Many people think that was a mistake.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me press you on that. Do you believe that Major Hasan should be tried in a military tribunal?
GIULIANI: I don't know about that. I mean, I would want to see the facts develop. I think the administration has been very slow to come to the conclusion that Major Hasan was an Islamic extremist terrorist. I mean, the reality is, he announced "Allah akbar" when he shot and killed those people. He was communicating with a cleric who was encouraging terrorism. And now it turns out he has -- he even has business cards saying "solder of Allah."
And I suspect that -- I suspect that Major Hasan, although I don't know if a decision has been made, will be tried in a court-martial. I suspect, but he could be tried either way. But these are acts of war.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Let me change subjects now, because we are dealing with this "Going Rogue" book tour of Sarah Palin. She made the cover of Newsweek today. I don't know if you've seen it yet, but we're going to put it up for our viewers right there. It says, "how do you solve a problem like Sarah?" She's there in I think it's a running outfit. She's bad news for the GOP and for everybody else too.
What is your answer to that question?
GIULIANI: Well, I think first of all, being on the cover of Newsweek is good for the GOP. It shows that there is an awful lot of attention being paid to our party. She's an exciting figure in the Republican Party. She's someone who draws an enormous amount of attention.
I saw it for myself, George, this summer when I took her to Yankee stadium. Democratic territory, 7:1 Democrats in the Bronx, probably. She got a great reception. So there's something -- there is something extra special that Sarah Palin has in terms of reaching out to people, and my party needs that kind of excitement.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't believe that...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... as some others have suggested, that she's going to push moderates out of the party?
GIULIANI: Moderates just shouldn't get pushed out of the party. She -- Sarah can push for the positions that she has. Other people can push for the positions that they have. That's the kind of competition we want. And we want attention on the Republican Party. After all, it's good for a two-party system. And she creates attention. She raises money. She helps candidates. I don't agree with everything that she says, but she doesn't agree with everything I say.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Almost two-thirds of the public doesn't think she's qualified to be president. Do you?
GIULIANI: Well, I think that's going to be develop. I mean, she has got two, three years to develop a case, if she wants to make a case for running for president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Mayor Giuliani, thanks very much for your time this morning.
GIULIANI: Great to see you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: When we come back, the roundtable weighs in. Terror trials, off-ramps from Afghanistan, and the "Going Rogue" book tour. What will be the fallout for Palin and the GOP? We'll have that when we come back.