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Profiles of Donald Rumsfeld, Michael Moore

Aired June 26, 2004 - 11:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, he's the guerrilla moviemaker targeting the Bush Administration in the summer's most controversial new film, "Fahrenheit 9/11."


MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: With everything going wrong, he did what any of us would do. He went on vacation.

DAVID T. HARDY, CO-AUTHOR, "MICHAEL MOORE IS A BIG FAT STUPID WHITE MAN": I think Moore has created a third genre, the crocumentary (ph).

MOORE: This film is very solid. It's facts.


ANNOUNCER: It's a movie that's fueling an explosive political debate...


LEAH ROZEN, MOVIE CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Anyone who is pro- George W. Bush is going to find this film incredibly offensive.

MOORE: The Republicans are going to come after this film with everything they've got.


ANNOUNCER: Director, writer, and political lightning rod, Michael Moore.

Then, he's the embattled secretary of defense who's under scrutiny over prisoner abuse in Iraq.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: To those Iraqis who were mistreated by members of the U.S. armed forces, I offer my deepest apology.

The standout wrestler in his youth, he came to Washington with his eyes on pinning the old guard. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANK CARLUCCI, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: He wanted to change the establishment. He's always been a change agent.


ANNOUNCER: He first served as defense secretary under President Ford.


GERALD FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I knew Don was a great person of integrity.


ANNOUNCER: After toppling Saddam Hussein's regime, winning the peace in Iraq has proved more difficult.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iraq is just not safe.


RUMSFELD: He's heard calls for his resignation, but hasn't backed down from his critics.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Rumsfeld believes that the positive differences he's made more than outweigh the bad things.


ANNOUNCER: A look at Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, their stories now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Michael Moore has become synonymous with controversy and he's at it again with his latest film, "Fahrenheit 9/11." It is an unapologetic and some would argue an unfair indictment of President George W. Bush and his handling of the September 11 attacks. The movie, which opened nationwide on Friday, has already ignited a political firestorm, but that's pretty much par for the course when it comes to Moore. Here's Mike Meckler.


MOORE: Iraq didn't bomb Pearl Harbor...

MIKE MECKLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you're looking for controversy, Michael Moore is your guy.

MOORE: Quit trying to manipulate the American public with fear, with fear, constant, non-stop fear.

MECKLER: He assaulted corporate America in "Roger and Me." He took dead aim at guns and violence in the U.S. in "Bowling for Columbine." And now, he's got the bush Administration in his sights with his latest film, "Fahrenheit 9/11."

BUSH: I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now, watch this drive.

ROZEN: It is absolutely one sided. It is his viewpoint, and his viewpoint is that George W. Bush is very bad for America.

BUSH: Some people call you the elite, I call you my base.

MOORE: I think people are clamoring for the truth. They want to know how we got this point, how did we get into this war, who lied to us, why did they lie to us.

MECKLER: Academy Award winning filmmaker, best-selling author, social commentator, Michael Moore has his supporters.

SANDRA BERNHARD, ACTRESS: Michael Moore always an amazing, uncanny ability to get into situations nobody else can.

RICHARD GERE, ACTOR: He's telling the truth from his point-of- view. I don't agree with everything he says or how he does it sometimes, but this is a quality guy who's trying to say something.

MECKLER: But not everyone likes Moore or his politics.

JAMES HIRSEN, NEWSMAX COLUMNIST: His world view is, in fact, not centered, certainly not right, but not even -- when you ask that question, not even really mainstream left.

MOORE: How could Congress pass this Patriot Act without even reading it?

MECKLER: And there are critics who say Moore's movies and books manipulate the facts to fit his agenda.

DAVID T. HARDY, CO-AUTHOR, "MICHAEL MOORE IS A BIG FAT STUPID WHITE MAN": Post-war filmmakers created the documentary. Rob Reiner in "Spinal Tap," created the mockumentary. I think Moore has created a third genre, the crocumentary (ph).

MOORE: This film is very solid in its facts and very solid in its analysis.

How much money do the Saudis have invested in America?

MECKLER: Love him or hate him, Moore stirs people up and that's just the way he likes it.

MOORE: I won't have it on my conscience and I won't have it on my soul. I won't let it be said that I stood by and did nothing, said nothing, you know, while others had a rougher go of it than I had. MECKLER: Michael Moore was born in 1954, and raised in an Irish- Catholic household, in Davison, Michigan, a suburb of Flint.

JEFF GIBBS, FRIEND: He was raised in a -- you know with the values from his parents, and from the church, that you take care of the least among you.

MOORE: You know generally I was a good kid, and I did well in school. But I got easily offended at any form of injustice. You know, whether it was, you know, they ran out of, you know, chocolate milk and we had to drink the white milk, you know, in the cafeteria. It didn't matter what it was.

MECKLER: Moore's father worked in the auto industry making spark plugs. And Moore found himself influenced by a town where General Motors was king, and organized labor fueled the machine.

MOORE: Our fathers and grandfathers who built that union, created this enormous middle class that for the first time in history allowed the children of working people to go to college, to have a better life. To be covered with health insurance and things like that. And that had, I think, and enormous impact on all of us.

MECKLER: In high school, Moore was voted class comic and was on the debate team.

GIBBS: He was actually very similar to how he is now. We both loved staying up late, you know, contriving different schemes to change the world, and you know, change our town and watching movies, and you know, listening to rock 'n' roll.

NAN JOHNSON, DAVISON AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY: If there was an issue that he did not agree with, if he felt that someone was being treated negatively, he was never afraid to stand up and speak for what he believed in.

MECKLER: At age 18, Moore put his words into action. He ran for Davison's school board.

MOORE: I basically had, you know, one position, which was fire the principal; actually fire the principle and the assistant principle. I guess there were two positions I had. And I won. And within nine months the principle and assistant principle turned in their resignations. I thought geez, you know, this didn't take long, and I'm still 18, you know, I thought. I learned at an early age that maybe you can affect change by not having to do a whole lot.

MECKLER: Moore flirted briefly with college, then at age 22, started his own independent newspaper, "The Flint Voice".

MOORE: I really saw the mission of the paper to stay on top of General Motors, inform the people what it was doing to the town, and encourage people to think about other issues too that were not being covered in the traditional news media.

ED BRADLEY, FLINT JOURNAL: It had kind of a reputation as a -- quote, unquote -- "muckraking paper," I guess, in the eyes of the establishment here in town. He really raised a lot of eyebrows, and brought up a lot of issues and did start up some controversy.

MECKLER: After a decade working on "The Voice," Moore moved to San Francisco to become editor of the left-wing magazine, "Mother Jones."

MOORE: They liked what I was doing in "Flint," and they were like how would you like to do this on a national level? And I thought wow, what a great opportunity to, you know, cover these issues and say the things I wanted to say, but with a much larger audience.

MECKLER: His first issue was well received and featured an auto worker on the cover. But after just four months, Moore was fired. He said for ideological reasons. The publisher said for job performance. Moore's national platform was gone.

When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues.

MOORE: And I'm back home in Flint, and you know, I'm depressed. And I'm, you know, getting $99 a week on unemployment, not knowing what to do.

MECKLER: Down and out in Flint, Michigan.





MOORE: Everybody should get fired at least once in their life. It's a life affirming experience.

MECKLER (voice-over): In 1986, Michael Moore had lost his national voice as editor of "Mother Jones" magazine. He returned home to Flint, Michigan, where he saw General Motors laying off thousands of workers and a town on the decline.

JOHNSON: People were losing their jobs. People that had worked for years and years for General Motors all of the sudden didn't have a job. They had families to take care of.

MOORE: I couldn't believe that a time that GM was still posting these big profits, that they would be doing this to the town. And so I just decided I had to do something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you hear me?


MOORE: Hi, I'm Michael Moore.

MECKLER: What Moore did was make "Roger and Me," a documentary about Flint's difficult times.

GIBBS: He'd been through a very difficult period of time. And he was just obsessed with making this movie, and telling the story of Flint.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are you guys going?

MOORE: We're going up to the 14th floor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have an appointment?

MOORE: No. We're going to try and see Roger Smith.


MECKLER: The movie showed Moore on a personal quest to find General Motors CEO Roger Smith, and ask him why General Motors was eliminating jobs in Flint. It also became a social commentary on what Moore saw as corporate greed in America's economic ills.

MOORE: We lived in the wealthiest country in the world. And Flint is the hometown of the wealthiest corporation in the world, you know. Why are they closing factories at a time when there's you know, making $5 billion in profits.

OWEN GLEIBERMAN, FILM CRITIC, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Michael Moore invented his whole style in "Roger and Me," of stalking CEOs. Michael Moore comes on as the fearless proletariat with a camera who's going to get the truth.

MECKLER: Shot for just $250,000, the film would become the highest grossing narrative documentary to that point.

ROZEN: You're coming out of the Reagan era, you're in the Bush era, the economy is allegedly so good, and yet anyone out there knew there were all these homeless people, knew that things were not really as good as they were being portrayed. And this documentary plugged into that.

MECKLER: But "Roger and Me" also faced criticism. Moore was accused of misrepresenting the facts, filming people being evicted from their homes who had never worked for General Motors and not being precise about when GM had laid off 30,000 Flint workers.

ROZEN: The reason it's called a documentary is that everything in there is the way it's supposed -- is the way it is. He was a little loose with how he put it all together. The question is, did he learn from that? Or has he continued to do it?

MOORE: It was like; it was just 10,000 people that lost their jobs, Mike, during those three years, not 30,000. I mean it's like, can you imagine having that conversation about -- I mean it's 10,000 people. There's no dates in the film. It's meant as an essay about that decade.

MECKLER: Moore took the aggressive style he developed on "Roger and Me" to television, first, with a satirical news magazine, "TV Nation..."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's "TV Nation," with Michael Moore.

MOORE: We are crime fighters and this is a corporate crime fighting chicken.

MECKLER: ...and then with the "Awful Truth."

MOORE: Judge Starr, Judge Starr, Judge Starr, I think I found a cheaper way to conduct a witch hunt.

MECKLER: Moore's shows didn't find a widespread audience, but his books certainly did, most notably, 2002's "Stupid White Men," Moore's response to the 2000 presidential election.

MOORE: And they've got somebody sitting in the Oval Office that isn't there by the will of the people and I just thought, you know, I've got to say something about this.

MECKLER: Moore addressed issues of race, education and the state of America. He asks President Bush, "Are you able to read and write on an adult level?" He calls Bill Clinton one of the best Republican presidents we've ever had. And he blasted both major political parties.

MOORE: They're there to do the bidding of the top 10 percent, the wealthiest 10 percent. It's really wrong in a democracy to have the upper 10 percent, they get to have two political parties, and the other 90 percent have nothing.

HIRSEN: He is one-sided and some of the things that he presents as gospel, he needs to be challenged. And some of the things he presents as complete are terribly incomplete.

MECKLER: But after September 11, Moore's publisher, Harper Collins, decided the timing wasn't right to release a book that referred to President Bush as the Thief in Chief. "Stupid White Men" stayed in limbo for months until Moore got some help getting it released.

MOORE: Some librarian heard me talk about how the book wasn't coming out, and she got on the Internet, and got all these librarians writing e-mails to Harper Collins demanding that the book come out.

ANN SPARANESE, LIBRARIAN: I wrote a little piece. It was a little letter. It might have had four or five paragraphs in it. Basically it said this seems like something that we might want to do something about.

MOORE: They called me up and they said, "What did you tell the librarians?" I said I don't know any librarians. "We're getting hate mail from librarians." That's one terrorist group you don't want to mess with. Ooh, scary librarians. They freaked out. Finally they said OK, this is going to be too much trouble for us, and they put the book out. MECKLER: "Stupid White Men" spent more than a year on the "New York Times" best seller list. Michael Moore had established himself as a multimedia force, one of the leading voices of the left in America and a voice that would continue to stir up controversy.

When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, Moore rocks the Oscars.

MOORE: I think anybody voting for me for this award knew that they weren't going to get a speech thanking agents, lawyers, lawyers of agents, and agents of lawyers.




MOORE: Yes, I'm here to open up an account.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. What type of account would you like?

MOORE: I want the account where I can get the free gun.

MECKLER (voice-over): In 2002, Michael Moore stirred the pot again with the release of "Bowling for Columbine."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once we do the background check and everything...

MOORE: Right, right.


MECKLER: The film targeted what Moore sees as America's culture of guns and violence.

MOORE: Wow! Sweet! I'm afraid that as Americans, we've lost our compass. When you start to be afraid of everything and you no longer can discern what the real fears are, and what the non-fears are, then you're kind of hopeless. And you're lost. And I think that's where we're at right now in this country.

Do you think it's a little dangerous handing out guns in a bank?

MECKLER: The movie was a critical and financial smash, grossing nearly $60 million worldwide and winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary.

MOORE: Thank you.

ROZEN: He deserved the win for documentary. "Bowling for Columbine" is a terrific documentary. It may be a little long. It may be a little full of Michael Moore, but he is talking about things that have to be talked about, gun control.

MECKLER: While accepting the Oscar, Moore used his international spotlight to speak out again. To a combination of cheers and boos, Moore denounced President Bush and the war in Iraq, saying, "We're against this war Mr. Bush. Shame on you Mr. Bush, shame on you."

MOORE: What's great about this country is that you're able to speak your mind, and that's what I do. I do that in my filmmaking, I do that in my daily life, and I don't stop being who I am when I come into this ceremony.

MECKLER: As Moore's stature has risen, so have the voices of his critics. His anti-war stance earned him a spot as the King of Hearts in a deck of playing cards spoofing Iraq's 52 most wanted. There are a multitude of anti-Moore Web sites. And there's even a new book soon to be released by his former publisher, Harper Collins, called "Michael Moore Is a Big Fat Stupid White Man."

HARDY: I think he's a genius at what he does, which is propaganda. I think his morally flawed in that he doesn't adhere to anything approaching the truth or seem to believe himself bound by an obligation to be truthful or fair.

MECKLER: Moore strongly defends the accuracy of both his movies and his books.

MOORE: When I write my books, I have three fact checkers that I hire full-time that go through the book. And then, I hire a lawyer to go through the book because I do have a point-of-view and I'm giving my opinion, which you can take or leave, and my opinion may be right or wrong. But I need you to know that when I say these are the facts, these are the facts.

MECKLER: Critics disputed his use of the facts in "Bowling for Columbine." They questioned whether Moore used deceptive editing to make Charlton Heston and the NRA look bad.

CHARLTON HESTON, PRESIDENT, NRA: From my cold, dead hands...

MOORE: Just 10 days after the Columbine killings, despite the pleads of a community in mourning, Charlton Heston came to Denver and held a large pro-gun rally for the National Rifle Association.

DAVE KOPEL, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE: The clip that Moore uses comes from Heston speaking a year later in North Carolina.

MECKLER: Heston never picked up a rifle, never said a line like that in Denver. Of course, it would have been horribly insensitive for him to have done that.

HARDY: He doesn't lie to you about the speech but he lets you see something, which is false and you come away saying this man is extremely arrogant and insensitive.

MECKLER: On his Web site, Moore rejects the criticism, saying he used the image of Heston raising the gun simply to introduce me because of Heston's most well recognized NRA image. ROZEN: You never go to a Michael Moore film expecting objectivity and he absolutely had a viewpoint in Columbine. He ran quotes that supported his viewpoint. How truthful, how objective was he, he's not objective. Truthful, yes, there are many versions of the truth. That was his version.

MOORE: I'm trying to get members of Congress to take get their kids to enlist in the Army and go over to Iraq.

MECKLER: Moore's latest film is "Fahrenheit 9/11" and it may make "Bowling for Columbine" seem as controversial as the "Sound of Music".

MOORE: How could Congress pass this Patriot Act without even reading it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sit down, my son. Well, we don't read most of the bills.

MECKLER: The movie details alleged connections between the Bush family and the prominent Saudi family of Osama bin Laden, and it's highly critical of the war in Iraq.

MOORE: George W. Bush and his ilk, they actually despise our troops. To send them to war based on a lie is the worst violation of trust you could have.

MECKLER: The film has already received critical acclaim and was awarded the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

MOORE: I -- you have to understand, the last time I was on an awards stage in Hollywood, all hell broke loose. I can't begin to express my appreciation.

MECKLER: White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett has called Moore out of the mainstream and added, "This is a film that doesn't require us to actually view it to know it's filled with factual inaccuracies." And former President Bush told "The New York Daily News" -- quote -- "I have total disdain for Moore."

ROZEN: Anyone who is pro- George W. Bush or a defender of George W. Bush is going to find this film incredibly offensive and I guarantee you are going to see reams and reams of news reports, web footage, et cetera, picking the film apart.

MECKLER: Meanwhile, Moore is preparing to fight back at anyone who says his film is less than truthful.

MOORE: Well, in the past, right-wingers and other kind of lunatics have attacked my work. This time, I'm not going to let them get away with anything. So we've got our own little war room put together. And anybody who comes to this film with a lie or an attack will be responded to in light fashion with the truth.

MECKLER: In other words, Michael Moore will continue doing two things he's done his entire career -- he won't shy away from controversy and he won't be quiet about it.


ZAHN: Michael Moore's new film, "Fahrenheit 9/11," isn't so hot with legendary writer, Ray Bradbury. He is upset with Moore over "Fahrenheit" because the title comes from Bradbury's sci-fi classic "Fahrenheit 451." Bradbury says no one even asked his permission to lift the title. Moore says he's tried to call and apologized.

ANNOUNCER: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, his second go- around as defense secretary has been filled with triumphs and controversy.


KEN POLLACK, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: If Iraq goes badly; I think that Secretary Rumsfeld will probably be portrayed as one of the great culprits in this.


ANNOUNCER: Donald Rumsfeld under fire when we return.



ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is outspoken, confident, and by many accounts, the last person you want to cross. His style and bravado have won him raves and resentment. As America gets ready to hand over sovereignty in Iraq, a look at Secretary Rumsfeld, his accomplishments, his miscues, and the controversy that threatened to bring him down. Here's Jamie McIntyre.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, folks, we need to come through.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's been one of the most influential and controversial members of the Bush Administration.

BUSH: You are a strong secretary of defense, and our nation owes you a debt of gratitude.

MCINTYRE: A Washington power player who went from Navy pilot to Congressman to two-time secretary of defense.

RUMSFELD: The only thing that the coalition will discuss with this regime is their unconditional surrender.

MCINTYRE: Never shy of the spotlight, he took center stage during the war on Iraq. He took heat over the continuing struggles to secure the country, and he took the blame for one of the United States' most notorious failures in Iraq. RUMSFELD: These events occurred on my watch. As secretary of defense, I am accountable for them. And I take full responsibility. MCINTYRE: He's weathered calls for his resignation. Now, on the brink of the transfer of authority in Iraq, he's a man whose legacy is on the line.

POLLACK: If Iraq turns out well, then Rumsfeld's legacy in Iraq may actually be pretty good. On the other hand, if Iraq goes badly, I think that Secretary Rumsfeld will probably be portrayed as one of the great culprits in this.

MCINTYRE: Donald Rumsfeld, the man with the distinction of being both the oldest and youngest secretary of defense in U.S. history.

Throughout his life, Rumsfeld has been a competitor. As an honor student at Chicago's Nutriar High School, he played half back on the football team and dominated the wrestling mat.

CARLUCCI: He had come out of Nutriar High School as a very good wrestler.

MCINTYRE: Former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci was a teammate at Princeton.

CARLUCCI: Princeton is not an easy university, and he did well at Princeton. He's serious-minded person. He sets goals and strives toward those goals.

MCINTYRE: A political science major on academic scholarship, he picked up extra cash doing one-armed push-ups for money. Upon graduation in 1954, he served three years as a Navy pilot, and won the All-Navy wrestling title. During this time, he also married his high school sweetheart, Joyce Pierson.

But it was his first job after the Navy, a two-year stint as a congressional aide that set the stage for his biggest competition yet. He built powerful connections, then moved home to Chicago to work as a stockbroker, and run for Congress.

FORD: I was tremendously impressed. He was about 29 years of age, attractive, obviously, dedicated. So I was real pleased to see him be a candidate, and I was more pleased when he won the election.

MCINTYRE: In Congress, Rumsfeld maintained a conservative voting record, but made a name for himself with his no-nonsense style and his progressive instincts.

CARLUCCI: He wanted to change the establishment. He's always been a change agent. He wants to improve things, bring about a different status.

MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld joined the Young Turks, a feisty band of Republican congressmen rallying to replace their old guard minority leader. Their choice, Michigan Republican Gerald Ford.

FORD: They came to me as a group, and Don was one of the leaders, urging me to be a candidate against Congressman Charlie Hallic (ph), and I won by the landslide margin of 73 to 67.

MCINTYRE: In 1969, midway through Rumsfeld's fourth term, President Nixon tapped the congressman to head the Office of Economic Opportunity, an expansive anti-poverty program.

The former congressman quickly reined in the agency, downsizing and asserting his newfound management style.

KEN ADELMAN, FORMER RUMSFELD AIDE: He holds people very accountable for what they do. You know you're doing a wonderful job with Rumsfeld not when he tells you you're doing a wonderful job, because that'll never happen. You know when you're doing a wonderful job with Rumsfeld when he gives you more things to do.

MCINTYRE: After two years, Rumsfeld left the bureau, taking an economic adviser post in Nixon's cabinet. He left behind a loyal staff impressed with his quick mind and according to one speechwriter, frustrated with his red pen.

ADELMAN: I had a quote from Percales (ph) right in the middle of the speech, and he went and he marked that up as well. And he says, "Let me see that." So I fling it over to him in a kind of angry way, and he takes that, and he scratches it, and he says, "That'll solve it." I said, "Solve it? What do you mean?" So I take that draft from him and I look at the introduction, and he says, "As Percales should have said."

MCINTYRE: When we come back, Rumsfeld's political star rises in the face of scandal.

JEFFREY KRAMES, AUTHOR, "THE RUMSFELD WAY": He has the rare distinction of being in the right place at the right time and avoiding the wrong place at the wrong time.





MCINTYRE (voice-over): By 1971, Donald Rumsfeld was in Richard Nixon's inner circle. He was an economic adviser, a member of the cabinet, and yet he felt uneasy.

KRAMES: He had sort of bumped heads, if you will, with people in the Nixon administration, and he wanted to put some distance, I believe, between himself and the administration.

MCINTYRE: With discord on the job and a withering economy, Rumsfeld put in for a new position.

KRAMES: He actively sought that NATO ambassadorship, and fortunately, he has the, you know, rare distinction of being in the right place at the right time and avoiding the wrong place at the wrong time, because, of course, when the first hint of Watergate surfaced, he was, of course, in Brussels with his family, you know, serving as NATO ambassador.

RICHARD M. NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.

MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld was well removed from the scandal that toppled President Nixon.

Shortly before his swearing in, Nixon's successor, Gerald Ford, was asked who he wanted as chief of staff. He wrote down one name -- Rumsfeld.

FORD: I picked him because I knew Don was a great person of integrity, who was a well organized, highly disciplined person.

DAVID HUME KENNERLY, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER: What President Ford realized, he needed somebody to not only guard the gate but to be a personal adviser and someone who he trusted 100 percent and their relationship was and is excellent.

KRAMES: Rumsfeld was the person that Ford saw first in the morning and last before he went to sleep at night, and I believe that won the ire of many of other cabinet members.

MCINTYRE: The chief of staff controlled access to the president. Many resented his power. Until 1975, George Bush Sr. was enjoying his own stellar career in the GOP. He blamed Rumsfeld, a potential rival, for his appointment to CIA chief, then considered a political dead- end.

KENNERLY: I think there was a characterization of Rumsfeld as having performed some Machiavellian maneuver to put Bush over there, to get him out of the political way. And from everything I know, which is quite a bit, I don't think that's true.

MCINTYRE: At the same time, President Ford transferred Rumsfeld to a first term as secretary of defense. The 43-year-old secretary was hawkish. He pushed for updated weapons systems. But with only 14 months on the job, little changed at the Pentagon.

JIMMY CATER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land.

MCINTYRE: With President Ford's defeat in '76, Rumsfeld was out of a job.

That quickly changed when troubled drug company, GD Searle, took a chance.

KRAMES: Here you have $1 billion-plus company, and you hire on a man who has never, besides being a stockbroker many years earlier, who had zero experience in the business world. And he wasn't coming in, you know, sort of as a mid-manager; he was coming in as CEO.

MCINTYRE: In government, Rumsfeld developed a brazen management style, one he readily unleashed in the private sector. The new CEO slashed jobs and restructured the leadership. It was a painful process, but the company began to turn around. Rumsfeld was making a name as a manager.

KRAMES: In 1980, "Fortune" magazine named him as one of the 10 toughest bosses in America, saying he "will demolish anyone not in complete control of the facts." That was the quote.

MCINTYRE: He laid off nearly 60 percent of the corporate staff, sold off unprofitable business units, and sued the FDA to approve the Searle product NutraSweet.

KRAMES: And then in 1985, he helps sell the company to Monsanto, netting Rumsfeld his first personal fortune, if you will, of over $10 million.

MCINTYRE: All the while, Rumsfeld stayed involved in government. He traveled throughout the Middle East as a special envoy for President Reagan, even meeting Saddam Hussein in 1983.

RUMSFELD: One of the pieces of it was to go to Iraq. They were engaged in a conflict with Iran, and our interest was in having them be more of a balance in the -- with respect to the Middle East


MCINTYRE: In the mid '80s, Rumsfeld briefly set his sights on the '88 presidential race.


MCINTYRE: Despite his government and corporate reputations, Don Rumsfeld was not a household name.

RUMSFELD: As someone who Jimmy the Greek has at 50-1 odds, you know, you really can't be picky anyway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir.

MCINTYRE: He returned to the business world in 1990, taking the helm of electronics firm, General Instrument. He also participated in Bob Dole's '96 presidential run, but it would be an election four years later that would bring him back to the halls of power.

MCINTYRE: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, the old hawk ruffles feathers as he returns to the Pentagon and faces calls for his resignation.




(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MCINTYRE (voice-over): January 2001, George W. Bush becomes the 43rd president of the United States. His choice for defense secretary, his father's former rival.

O'HANLON: I am surprised that George Bush, the son, could forgive the sleights at his father's expense from Rumsfeld a quarter of a century ago.

Perhaps this was a way that George W. Bush felt he could distinguish himself from his father; something he thought was politically important, as well as consistent with his own beliefs.

FORD: President Bush knew of Don's background and his capabilities, and decided he wanted someone with Don's experience running the Pentagon.

MCINTYRE: For the second time in his life, Don Rumsfeld took the oath of office as defense chief, but this run would be a far cry from his previous Cold War term.

CARLUCCI: It's a much more complex job than it was then and the management has gotten no easier.

MCINTYRE: The management part of the job got particularly hard when President Bush asked Rumsfeld, a traditional hawk, to cut defense spending.

KENNERLY: Everybody was after him, from people on the Hill whose constituents were going to lose bases in their hometown to contractors who were not getting as much money as they thought they would get. But Rumsfeld didn't care. The president told him to cut back and he was going to cut back.

MCINTYRE: The cutbacks put him at odds with the uniformed military. Rumsfeld kept counsel with his own inner circle, and his popularity dwindled. Newspapers predicted an early departure for the secretary.

KRAMES: Even "The Washington Post" on September 7 was painting Rumsfeld as a dinosaur of the past, and even in that "Washington Post" piece, naming successors for the secretary.

MCINTYRE: Four days after that "Washington Post" piece, on September 11, the Pentagon and the whole country were jolted into a new reality.

KENNERLY: The day that the plane ran into his building, he was right out the door helping pull people out of the burning rubble. That's who he is. I mean that's not an act.

MCINTYRE: After helping on the scene, the secretary returned to his office to prepare a military response. Don Rumsfeld, crisis manager, was in his element.

O'HANLON: Rumsfeld is a very good secretary of war. Maybe that's a different job from a peacetime secretary of defense. MCINTYRE (on camera): I'm told that you point this out to people a lot when they're in your office.

RUMSFELD: I always liked it, and I think Theodore Roosevelt is enormously interesting American figure, but it says there, "Aggressive fighting for the right is the noblest sport the world affords," and indeed that's true.

MCINTYRE (voice-over): Rumsfeld's first fight for the right in the post 9/11 world was taking out the Taliban in Afghanistan. Rumsfeld pushed military planners to think outside the box, to use more Special Forces and air power and put fewer U.S. troops on the ground. The Taliban fell, but an important part had got away.

O'HANLON: I think you have to say he got the invasion phase right. He got the manhunt for bin Laden wrong and he contributed to a mediocre stabilization effort after the Taliban was out of power. On balance, I'd say it's roughly a 50/50 record.

MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld would further challenge the military over its initial plan for invading Iraq.

RUMSFELD: It didn't reflect any of the lessons from Afghanistan, that it didn't reflect the current state of affairs in Iraq.

O'HANLON: To Rumsfeld's credit, he allowed himself to be talked out of this initial plan where he thought maybe 30,000 to 50,000 American troops would be enough to overthrow Saddam Hussein. He went much more in the direction of the Army, closer to 250,000.

MCINTYRE: Coalition forces overthrew Saddam Hussein's regime in less than three weeks.

POLLACK: The plan for taking down Saddam's regime was a fine one. Clearly, the United States knew what it was doing and had the forces available. By the same token, I think it's also become clear that we didn't have a very good plan for handling post-war Iraq. We did not have enough troops.

MCINTYRE: The job of planning for post-war Iraq also came under Rumsfeld's oversight.

O'HANLON: This is the clearest example of where when Rumsfeld and Powell arm wrestled in this administration, Rumsfeld usually came out on top. The mission to stabilize Iraq once Saddam was gone was naturally a State Department kind of mission. It required politics, economics, rebuilding, financing, foreign aid, and of course, military presence. It's just the kind of thing the secretary of state job was created to oversee, but Rumsfeld won the job.

MCINTYRE: But the job has not gone smoothly. Although Rumsfeld and the Bush administration point to successes in rebuilding Iraq, the country remains racked by violence. Looting, suicide bombers, and rogue militia have made security in Iraq a critical problem.

POLLACK: Iraq is just not safe. And that insecurity is a tremendous problem for Iraqis in all aspects of their life, their daily lives, their economic activities, everything that you can imagine all comes back to security, and it's their greatest complaint about the failures of the United States.

MCINTYRE: However, in April, security issues in Iraq were overshadowed by something even more disturbing -- photos and videos showing the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers.

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: This is not the way for anyone who wears a uniform of the United States of America to conduct themselves.

MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld was called before Congress and as secretary of defense, took full responsibility.

RUMSFELD: So to those Iraqis who were mistreated by members of the U.S. Armed forces, I offer my deepest apology.

POLLACK: I think secretary Rumsfeld has been working hard at damage control. He made the smart move of going out to Iraq, being seen at Abu Ghraib itself to demonstrate that he's hands on, that he wants to get to the bottom of it. But the U.S. still has a lot of work to do in terms of making clear to the Iraqi people that these kinds of excesses are not going to be repeated, that people are going to be brought to justice.

MCINTYRE: In the fallout of the Abu Ghraib scandal, calls mounted for him to step down.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: Mr. Rumsfeld has been engaged in a cover-up from the start on this issue and continues to be so.

MCINTYRE: However, President Bush gave his secretary of defense his full support.

BUSH: You are courageously leading our nation in the war against terror. You are doing a superb job.

MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld remains a lightning rod for criticism over the continuing war on terror and the situation in Iraq. Something he says comes with the job.

RUMSFELD: That's the nature of the world we live in. You know, if you do something, somebody's not going to like it. Therefore, you've got a choice. You can go do nothing, or you can go do something and live with the fact that somebody's not going to like it.

MCINTYRE: And Donald Rumsfeld will never be accused of doing nothing.


ZAHN: The U.S. is set to hand over sovereignty in Iraq this Wednesday, but U.S. Troops are expected to remain on the ground long after the transfer of political power. That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Coming up next week on the July 4 holiday weekend, a look at D-day 60 years later through the eyes of those who were there.

I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks sop much for joining us. Be sure to stay with CNN for the very latest on what's happening in your world.


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