Mitchell Reports | December 13, 2012
>>> hillary clinton is iffing to be testifying to the senate and house foreign policy committees representing a report, presenting a report, to congress. the much anticipated findings of that independent investigation into the security failures that contributed to the benghazi attack and, of course, killed four americans, including the u.s. ambassador , chris stevens . joining me now from harvard is nicolas burns, professor of international politics at harvard's kennedy school , and the former u.s. ambassador to nato , greece, and a number of other places. nick, great to see you. you are such an old hand, veteran diplomat, and were at least at the state department . i think you were serving in greece. the last time we had one of these major reports, which was on the 1998 bombings. this report has been done by two senior experienced people, tom pickering and admiral mike mullen , and my indications are that it is really going to be very tough on the state department . hillary clinton has to defend this and present it to congress.
>> well, andrea, i don't have a preliminary indication of what the report was saying, but i think secretary clinton would drae grae to testify publicly, but there are obviously congress has an obligation i think they have chosen to highly objective non-political, non-partisan people in tom pickering , ambassador tom pickering , and admiral mike mullen , and we'll see what the report says, but clearly the administration does need to deal with these issues before we get to 2013 and the president's inauguration.
>> and one of the questions that is being examined is all of the warnings and the incident -- there were five separate incidents that preceded the fatal attack -- whether or not we have to have a whole different attitude towards either securing these outposts, which are not official embassies -- this wasn't even an official consulate -- or better securing them or not being in these places, and that's always the push-pull for diplomats because they're on the frontlines, but they are not in military service . here pet in danger zoosh one of the questions that's been lost in the three months since the horrible terrorist attack in benghazi , is that congress has not fully funded embassy security worldwide in the last two fiscal years. so one would hope that one of the issues that congress would now debate is whether or not we need to put more money into embassy security. i certainly think we should. we obviously also immediate more money for diplomacy in general, and for the state department budget. we've been thinking about this for decades since the beginning of the age of terrorism, which we've all lived over the last three decades, at least, and that is we obviously need as job number one to protect our diplomats, and do everything we can to make sure that our embassies, our consulates, and the way we do business is fully, fully responsive to the need for security, and at the same time we train young men and women as diplomats to go out and to meet people and to integ gate themselves themselves into the society. they need to leave the walls of the embassy. there is this tension between these two competing priorities and we -- i dealt with this when i was an ambassador, particularly with our younger officers who wanted to go out and meet people, and there are times when you have to err on the side of security, because the situation demands it, and there are times when you have to let those officers go out and do their jobs and encounter and meet the people of the country, and i think we should never get away from the reason that we have diplomats and that is to do the work on behalf of the american people , and that will end with this debate that we're having over benghazi .
>> and, in fact, it was after the 1988 -- 1998 bombings that -- and the inman report that we began putting our embassies behind high walls and cutting off access, and chris stevens , to his eternal credit, was one of those diplomats who ventured out and engaged with the people. i wanted to quickly ask you about syria, nick, because the russian deputy foreign minister is now suggesting that assad may lose power, and that is another sign of a shift. it's all very incremental, but these are hints that perhaps vladimir putin is ready to give up on assad .
>> andrea, i found this statement by the russian deputy foreign minister to be highly, highly interesting this morning and significant because the russians don't speak loosely. he is a very senior member of their government, and to put out that they think that assad will leave is really an indication that russia is finally facing reality and let's hope that this will lead to a reconfigure rags of the russian position. secretary clinton met with -- it may be that the united states and russia will now have an opportunity to work together. if russia could try to influence assad to leave as quickly as possible, that would certainly help the situation where too many people are being killed, and both russia and the united states have an interest in making sure that the chemical weapons stocks in syria don't fall into the hands of a radical islamist group or terrorist group which could happen in the event of the fall of the assad government, so american and russian interests may be converging at the end of this phase of the syrian conflict more than they were certainly, say, a year ago when russia was an unstinting supporter of the assad regime.
>> nicolas burns, ending on an up note. thank you very much.
>> good to see you. this just in. president obama moments