Secretary of State Clinton Interview With Scott Pelley of CBS 60 Minutes

Washington, D.C.—(ENEWSPF)—May 10, 2010.

SCOTT PELLEY: After the car bomb was found in Times Square, we wanted to ask the Secretary of State about the Administration’s efforts against terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We spoke with Secretary Clinton at the State Department on Friday. It was the last in a series of interviews that we’ve done with her, because over the past six months we’ve been traveling with Mrs. Clinton to see how this surprising choice for Secretary of State is engaging the world. We didn’t expect such a far-flung story would begin with questions about events in the heart of Manhattan.

QUESTION: Is the Times Square bomber connected to a Pakistani-based terrorist group?

SECRETARY CLINTON: There are connections. Exactly what they are, how deep they are, how long they’ve lasted, whether this was an operation encouraged or directed; those are questions that are still in the process of being sorted out.

NARRATOR: The most likely connection, she says, is to a group called the Pakistani Taliban.

QUESTION: With the bomb in Times Square, I wonder what your message is to the Pakistani leadership.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s very clear. This is a threat that we share. We have a common enemy. There is no time to waste in going after that common enemy as hard and fast as we can and we cannot tolerate having people encouraged, directed, trained, and sent from Pakistan to attack us.

NARRATOR: Secretary Clinton was in Pakistan, ironically, at the same time the alleged Time Square bomber was being trained there. On that trip away from the cameras, she said something remarkable about the Pakistani Government, something she repeated to us.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not saying that they’re at the highest levels – but I believe that somewhere in this government are people who know where Usama bin Ladin and al-Qaida is, where Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is, and we expect more cooperation to help us bring to justice, capture, or kill those who attacked us on 9/11.

QUESTION: But we’re not getting that cooperation.


QUESTION: The question is: Why is this Administration not pressuring Pakistan to give up Usama bin Ladin, his deputy, Ayman alZawahiri?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I have to stand up for the efforts that the Pakistani Government is taking. They have done a very significant move toward going after the terrorists within their own country.

QUESTION: Even in light of the Times Square bomber, you are comfortable with the cooperation you’re getting from the Pakistani Government?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, no, I didn’t say that. I said that we’ve gotten more cooperation and it’s been a real sea change in the commitment we’ve seen from the Pakistani Government. We want more. We expect more. We’ve made it very clear that if, heaven forbid, an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences.

QUESTION: What do you mean exactly by that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think I’ll let that speak for itself.

QUESTION: Developments to come?


NARRATOR: We met with Hillary Rodham Clinton at the State Department. If history had been President Obama’s guide, he probably wouldn’t have chosen her. Modern Secretaries of State are almost never politicians and not since Lincoln has a President picked a fierce rival for the top post in his cabinet. In another of our interviews, we were surprised when she told us what she thought when she first heard that President Obama was going to offer the job.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Just ridiculous. I absolutely did not believe it.

QUESTION: Not in a million years.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Not in a million years. And when he raised it, I said, “Well, there are so many other people you should consider. I really don’t think I want to do that. I’m not interested in doing it and” –

QUESTION: You declined?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I didn’t want him even to ask me. I wanted to avoid the being asked part, because I really – I didn’t think it was the right fit. I wasn’t ready to try something new. I wanted to get back to what I was already doing. But he turned out to be very persuasive.

NARRATOR: Now she’s going from not interested to an all-consuming global campaign in a time when the U.S. is the biggest debtor in the world, fighting two wars, and accused of abandoning its ideals to the struggle with terrorism.

SECRETARY CLINTON: We had to tee up a lot. There was just so much, when I walked in this door – there was not only these really high expectations about the President and, to some extent, myself about what that meant, but you just can’t say, “Okay, we’re here. Everybody – okay, change what you’ve been doing. Immediately adopt a new positive view toward us. It takes a lot of hard work to make that real.

NARRATOR: Right away she found that America is in a crisis of credibility.

SECRETARY CLINTON: You’ve got countries who are explicitly saying to me in private, “Well, look, we always looked to you because you had this great economy and now look, you’re in the ditch. And you’ve dragged other people into the ditch.”

QUESTION: Larry Summers, the President’s economic advisor asked this question, “How long can the world’s biggest borrower remain the world’s greatest power?” Is America in decline?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, we’re not. But it’s a question that has to be answered and I happen to believe it’s one of the critical challenges before us. Our nation has to be strong fiscally at home in order for us to be strong abroad.

NARRATOR: Nowhere is her work abroad harder than the place where we met Secretary Clinton last November.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Hey, how are you? It’s good to see you.

QUESTION: I’m well. How are you, Madam Secretary?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m excellent. Thank you.

NARRATOR: It’s a country that doesn’t exist on any map; the land that policy-insiders call AFPAC, the cradle of terrorism that lies along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Clinton came to bless the inauguration of Afghan President Hamid* Karzai, even though Karzai was seen by many to have stolen the election through vote fraud.

QUESTION: You’re going to leave here now and go see President Karzai. How frank are you going to be? What are you going to tell him?

SECRETARY CLINTON: We will have a very frank conversation, because I think it’s in everyone’s interest to make sure that there are no misunderstandings, no misconceptions about what we hope to see and what we expect from his second term.

NARRATOR: The Obama Administration has calculated that Karzai is the best option among bad alternatives. Getting American troops out will depend on pragmatism and compromise, exactly the skills of a politician, like Clinton. She played both good cop and bad cop demanding reform behind closed doors –

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Please get up, please.

NARRATOR: — then saying what she had to in public.

SECRETARY CLINTON: President Karzai has won reelection. It was a legitimate election outcome.

QUESTION: You just made a point of using the word “legitimate.”

SECRETARY CLINTON: And I very much mean it. And now it’s up to him to demonstrate what he can do with that.

Thank you all very much for being here.

NARRATOR: Many back in Washington have more foreign policy experience than Clinton, but she doesn’t let anyone work harder. The Afghan trip was typically brutal. She spent 27 hours on the ground, had countless meetings –

SECRETARY CLINTON: So you’ve solved everything?

NARRATOR: — plus interviews and speeches –

SECRETARY CLINTON: General, I think they want you to come in with the ambassador.

NARRATOR: — and then on departure, she stopped to see the troops.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Is that something you want me to sign?

QUESTION: Yes, ma’am, I do.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, look at you.

NARRATOR: This is exactly what the President got in return for swallowing the bitterness of the campaign and reaching out to Clinton. She’s the only person in American politics with global star power close to his own. She can pack a room anywhere. A few Secretaries of State have been famous. None has been a first name celebrity like Hillary.

QUESTION: Long way home.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Long way home, but at the end of a good day, you feel like it’s worth going home and feeling positive about where we are in the world.

QUESTION: After you.


NARRATOR: In 16 months, she’s flown the equivalent of almost 12 times around the world, 54 countries so far. Her plane goes by the call sign SAM for Special Air Mission. At night, leaving Kabul, the windows were shaded to make SAM less of a target. Secure communications are wedged in and across the aisle is the burn bag stuffed with national secrets, now reclassified trash. To see Clinton today selling Obama’s foreign policy –

PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA: That is simply not true.

SECRETARY CLINTON: You said two things. You talked about –

NARRATOR: You forget two years ago, they were near each other’s throats.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I did not mention his name.

PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA: You’re offering it.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m here. He’s not. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA: Well, I can’t tell who I’m running against sometimes. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: We were campaigning hard against each other. I’ve lost track of how many debates we had where we stood within inches of each other and hammered each other. But that’s a campaign. Yes, I ran hard against him. He ran hard against me. He won. I lost. And then he asked me to work with him on behalf of our country.

QUESTION: And you’ve repaired all of that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, of course, yes. I mean, we have a great relationship.

NARRATOR: But the Obama-Clinton duo has discovered the limits of celebrity. Other world leaders are testing this team. Personal diplomacy has not gotten them results they wanted from Afghanistan. Relations with Israel are the worst in decades. Their biggest foreign policy success came just last month with Russia and a treaty to reduce nuclear arsenals. At the State Department, Secretary Clinton is credited with raising budgets and moral. She let ours be the first television cameras inside her office which is filled with mementos of courageous women.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Eleanor Roosevelt, one of my all-time favorite women whom I admire –

NARRATOR: She’s carved out women’s rights as her own foreign policy priority. Maybe that’s why she accepted this office after losing the one she really wanted. From here, she can still reach places where women suffer. She went to the Democratic Republic of Congo where a quarter of a million women have been raped in the war. And watch what happened in Congo when she got this translated question from a man.

QUESTION: What does Mr. Clinton think through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Wait, you want me to tell you what my husband thinks? My husband is not the Secretary of State. I am. (Crosstalk.) So you ask my opinion, I will tell you my opinion. I’m not going to be channeling my husband.

QUESTION: You felt it was expressed from a viewpoint of gender bigotry, so to speak?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s the way I heard it, yes. And since I believe strongly that one of the great moral, economic, political, and cultural challenges and unfinished business of the 21st century are the rights and aspirations of women and girls, I am going to stand up for that principle.

We must declare with one voice that women’s progress is human progress and human progress is women’s progress once and for all. (Applause.)

NARRATOR: We were with her at the United Nations honoring International Women’s Day when we ran into Madeline Albright who became the first woman Secretary of State under Bill Clinton.

QUESTION: What did you tell her?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: About being Secretary of State? That it was the best job in the world.

SECRETARY CLINTON: But she did say that.

QUESTION: Do you agree at this point?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s an extraordinary job. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: You didn’t say best.

NARRATOR: It’s not the job she wanted, but it is the best of her career.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Let me thank my dear friend, Senator Clinton – Secretary Clinton (laughter). I almost said President Clinton. (Laughter.)

NARRATOR: Whatever the title, Clinton now means Hillary, not Bill, who stands in her shadow. Walking into the West Wing now carrying only the foreign policy portfolio, her popularity is higher than her boss’s. Obama’s approval rating is 51 percent. She is at 77 percent. But continued success may very well depend on plots of terrorists both overseas and here at home.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Nobody wants to see something tragic happen again. But we know that every single day the bad guys are out there and they want to come after us.

QUESTION: Well, this is becoming a trend. People used to ask why they hadn’t attacked us in the United States since 9/11. The answer is now they are and they’re doing it every couple of months. And I wonder if there’s anything about U.S. foreign policy that needs to change, in your estimation, to put more pressure on these terrorist groups where they live, like in Pakistan.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are doing that. And we’re increasing it, we’re expecting more from it. This is a global threat. We have probably the best police work in the world, but we are also the biggest target. And therefore, we just have to be better than everybody else.