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CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript

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BOB SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. We talked to the Secretary of State as the NATO summit was concluding yesterday. She said the NATO allies gave the President's Afghanistan policy a resounding vote of confidence and that Afghan President Karzai, who has been critical,
is now on board.

HILLARY CLINTON (Secretary of State): He is fully in support of the strategy. He is fully in support of the fact that it is making progress. But he is very sensitive, as you would expect the president of any country to be, as to whether or not when we engage in night raids or other offensive actions, we are actually getting the bad guys and not conducting actions that result in
a lot of civilian casualties. And so, General Petraeus understands that and they work-- they're working closely together to make sure that they stay in sync.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, that doesn't sound exactly like what he told the Washington Post just a week ago, when he said U.S. forces were becoming too intrusive in Afghan life. He wanted to stop the nighttime raids, which is kind of the heart of General Petraeus' strategy. Are you telling me he's changed on that?

HILLARY CLINTON: No. What he-- what he has said to me and to others is if you have a night raid that kills a Taliban leader, he's all for it. If you have a night raid that kills five or six innocent civilians and maybe some really low-ranking nineteen-year-old kid who joined the Taliban, he's asking us to evaluate whether or not that is an appropriate balance. So I-- I think sometimes the-- the very legitimate questions he's raising get blown out of proportion. And I think what we--we do in talking with him and I do it on a regular basis is to make sure we listen well and we understand exactly what the root of his concerns are.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask you. What do you say to the parents of an American nineteen-year-old, parents who have lost a nineteen-year-old in Afghanistan? When they hear that the president of Afghan-- Afghanistan says we're being intrusive there? What do you say to those people?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, we say it-- and the President, of course, you know, signs a letter to every one who-- every family that loses someone in Afghanistan. We say we are making progress on the ground. That is indisputable. It's not only something we believe. The Afghans believe it and all of our NATO-ISAF allies believe it. Number two. Because this is a war against an enemy that doesn't fight fairly, that is, you know, picking off civilians, using IEDs, going after our troops, we have to be always as clear as we can that we're going after the real enemy and not just, you know, making a-- an offensive move that doesn't have a-- a positive military reason
behind it. But, you know, that nineteen-year-old who is out on an outpost in Afghanistan is standing up for American National Security interests. And maybe there is always a question when you're trying to win the hearts and minds of a population while killing an enemy that lives and hides amidst that population how best to do it. But I think our young men and women on the
ground understand that better than perhaps those who are far from the fight. So this something we always are asking ourselves. How can we do it better? How do we protect our people? How do we protect the innocent Afghans and how do we keep doing what we're doing successfully
which is degrading and reversing the momentum of the Taliban.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, let's-- let's talk about the START treaty. You know, Madam Secretary, on the President's recent trip to-- to Asia, he was totally blindsided when he thought he was going to get a trade agreement in South Korea and-- and the thing fell apart. Now he is saying that getting this START treaty ratified by the Senate is-- he's putting the highest priority
on getting that done in this lame duck session of the Congress. How-- isn't he risking another serious em-- embarrassment, because frankly, he doesn't have the votes to get it ratified in the Senate right now? Why has he said this is the highest priority right now?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, Bob, first, I don't think those are two analogous situations. I mean, the President didn't finalize a deal in Korea because he was not satisfied that the deal was in the best interest of America. And that's what a President is supposed to do and so he did the
right thing. Obviously, he is continuing to negotiate, to get a deal that is in the interest of the United States. With respect to START, there is no doubt that the START treaty is in the interest of the United States. Don't just take it from me or from the President. Look at what the Europeans, people like Angela Merkel or the foreign minister of Poland or the president of any
of the Baltic countries or so many others are saying. They live next door to Russia. They know that this is in their interest and they also know that because we have no treaty, there is no inspection going on. There is no verification going on. And so--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): But Madam Secretary--

HILLARY CLINTON (overlapping): Well, but Bob-- but the--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): --he doesn't have the votes.

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, but you know, it's always difficult to get these treaties through. It always takes a lot of presidential effort. And we are making the case that number one. This is in American's national security interest. Our friends and allies around the world support this. We
need to get inspectors back on the ground. Remember what Ronald Reagan said when he was passing a-- an arms control treaty with Russia. Trust but verify. Right now we cannot verify. And this is the kind of important national security agreement that the Senate needs to be encouraged to stop and really study and focus on. And to be fair, Bob, you know, the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee voted it out on a big bipartisan vote. It couldn't get the attention it needed before the election. The President is saying this needs to be dealt with in the lame duck session. Senator Lugar, who knows more about arms control treaties than anybody else I would argue in our country probably at this point, has said very passionately this must be done for the United States.

BOB SCHIEFFER: But do you think you can get the votes? That's-- I guess that's the question I have.

HILLARY CLINTON (overlapping): Well, but that's what poli-- but that's what politics is about. And I have to say I'm proud of the President for making this a priority, because he's putting it above politics which is exactly where it needs to be. He-- he believes so strongly that this is an important treaty to get done this year that he is putting his enormous office efforts behind it.
And, you know, obviously, we're all doing everything we can. Now at the end of the day, the--the senators have to decide. But I would hope that this treaty would be treated as others whether it was a Democratic or a Republican president saw their treaties in arms control with the-- with the Russians treaty and that is, this is beyond politics. Let's pass it by an
overwhelming bipartisan vote.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, let me ask you quickly about these terror trials. We-- we saw one of these people from Guantanamo, he almost walk out of a courtroom here, someone who was charged with blowing up our embassies in Kenya and-- and another place in Africa. And he was acquitted of two hundred and eighty-four criminal counts convicted on only one. Now mind you, I know he's going to face some prison time. Is it time, Madame Secretary to start rethinking whether we ought to put these people in these civilian courtrooms and-- and think about putting them before military tribunals?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, Bob, I don't believe so and here's why. The terrorists who are serving time in our maximum security prisons are there because of civilian courts, what are called Article III courts. Our Article III courts have a much better record of trying and convicting terrorists than military commissions do. And, in fact, this defendant having been convicted will be sentenced somewhere between twenty years and life. And some of the evidence that was presented could not be used but the rules of the military commission which remember operate under military law similarly would be disqualified certain evidence. I believe that the vast majority of the defendants can be tried in Article III courts but there are some who should not be. And they should be reserved for military commissions for a variety of reasons. But I think--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): What about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?

HILLARY CLINTON (overlapping): Well--

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Do you think he ought to be trial in the civilian court?

HILLARY CLINTON: I-- I think that that is a case that is a very difficult one because of all the security issues and the other problems. There will be a recommendation made by the attorney general. But if you look at the case that was finished last week a lot of the counts were related to evidence that because it was connected in some way to the use of inappropriate interrogation methods could not be used. And as experts in military law have pointed out, that would also be a problem in a military commission.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you one final question. There's a big uproar in this country now about this new pat downs that are going on as people try to get on airplanes. Now do you think that this is necessary in the war against terrorism or should we take another look at this?

HILLARY CLINTON: Well, Bob, I-- I-- I think that we have to be constantly asking ourselves how do we calculate the risk? And you know, sometimes we don't calculate it correctly. We either overstate it or understate it. Clearly, as Secretary Napolitano has said, you know, we're doing this because the terrorists keep getting more creative about--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Got you.

HILLARY CLINTON: --what they do to hide explosives and, you know, crazy things like underwear. So clearly, there is a need. Now if there is a way to limit the number of people who are going to be put through surveillance, that's something, that I'm sure can be considered. But everybody is trying to do the right thing.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay. Madam Secretary--

HILLARY CLINTON (overlapping): And I-- and I understand how difficult it is--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Yeah.

HILLARY CLINTON: --and how offensive it must be for the people who are going through it.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well-- now to the final question. My time is up. But would you submit to one of these pat downs?

HILLARY CLINTON: Not if I-- not if I could avoid it. No. I mean, who would?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary.

HILLARY CLINTON: Right.

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