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Video and Transcript: Obama "I Will Never Rush" on Afghanistan (26 October)

Afghanistan: Resignation Letter of US Official Matthew Hoh
Understanding “Mr Obama’s Wars”: Five Essential Analyses on Afghanistan and Pakistan

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Keeping you strong takes something else—a country that never forgets this simple truth. It’s not the remarkable platforms that give the United States our military superiority. Although you have some pretty impressive aircraft here. It’s not the sophisticated technologies that make us the most advanced in the world, although you do represent the future of naval aviation.

No, we have the finest Navy and military in the world because we have the finest personnel in the world. You are the best-trained, best-prepared, best-led force in history. You—our people—are our most precious resource.

We were reminded of this again, with today’s helicopter crashes in Afghanistan. Fourteen Americans gave their lives. And our prayers are with these service members, their civilian colleagues and the families who loved them.

And while no words can ease the ache in their hearts today, may they find some comfort in knowing this: like all those who give their lives in service to America, they were doing their duty and they were doing this nation proud.

They were willing to risk their lives, in this case, to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for al Qaeda and its extremist allies. And today, they gave their lives to protect ours.

Now, it is our duty, as a nation, to keep their memory alive in our hearts and to carry on their work. To take care of their families. To keep our country safe. To stand up for the values we hold dear and the freedom they defended. That is what they dedicated their lives to. That is what we must do.

So I say to you and all who serve: of all the privileges of serving as President, I have no greater honor than serving as your Commander-in Chief. You inspire me. And I’m here today to deliver a simple message—a message of thanks to you and your families.

By being here, you join a long, unbroken line of service at Jacksonville—naval aviators from World War II to Korea to Vietnam, among them a great patriot named John McCain. You embody that sailor’s creed: the “spirit of the Navy and all who have gone before”—Honor, Courage, Commitment.

In recent years, you’ve been tested like never before. We’re a country of more than 300 million Americans. But less than one percent wears the uniform. And that one percent—you and all those in uniform—bear the overwhelming burden of our security.

After months of exercises in the Pacific and stopping narco-traffickers off South America, you—the “Mad Foxes”—joined the recovery of that Air France crash off Brazil.

After hundreds of combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan…when Somali pirates kidnapped Captain Richard Phillips, you—the “Fighting Tigers”—were first on the scene. And others among you—the “Nightdippers”—were part of the carrier group that brought our captain home.

You’ve delivered medical care to people around the world, as my wife Michelle saw this summer when she welcomed back to port the Comfort—including those of you from Naval Hospital Jacksonville.

And like thousands of sailors in today’s Navy, you’ve gone ashore to meet the missions of our time, like the “Desert Lions” who served in Iraq.

Today, we also send our thoughts and prayers to all the folks from Jacksonville on the front lines at this very moment: pilots and aircrews around the world, Navy corpsmen on the ground in Afghanistan. And those of you—the “Dusty Dogs”—who’ll deploy next month to the Persian Gulf. You’re going to make us proud.

But there is no service without sacrifice. And though few Americans will every truly understand the sacrifices that you and your family make—day in day out, tour after tour, year after year, I want you to know this.

Your dedication to duty is humbling. Your love of country is inspiring. The American people thank you for your service. We honor you for your sacrifices. And just as you have fulfilled your responsibilities to your nation, your nation will fulfill its responsibilities to you.

That’s the message that I offered to the inspiring Gold Star families I met with a few moments ago—families who have made the ultimate sacrifice and whom we honor. And that’s the message I bring to you and all our forces, families and veterans—around Jacksonville and across America.

You’ve made the most profound commitment a person can make—to dedicate your life to your country. And perhaps give your life for it. So as your commander-in-chief, here’s the commitment I make to you.

To make sure you can meet the missions we ask of you, we’re increasing the defense budget, including spending on the Navy and Marine Corps. This week, I’ll sign that defense authorization bill into law.

To make sure we’re spending our defense dollars wisely, we’re cutting tens of billions of dollars in waste and projects that even the military says it doesn’t need—money better on spent on taking care of you and your families and building the 21st century military that we do need.

To make sure we have the right force structure, we’ve halted reductions in Navy personnel and increased the size of the Marine Corps. And this year—the first time in the history of the all-volunteer force—the Navy and every component of every branch of the military, Active, Guard and Reserve, met or exceeded their recruiting and retention goals. Yes, that’s due in part to tough economic times. But I say it’s also a testament to you and everyone who volunteers to serve.

To make sure you’re not bearing the burden of our security alone, we’re enlisting all elements of our national power—diplomacy, development and a positive vision of American leadership in the world.

And while I will never hesitate to use force to protect the American people or our vital interests, I also promise you this—and this is very important as we consider our next steps in Afghanistan:

I will never rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm’s way. I won’t risk your lives unless it is absolutely necessary. And if it is necessary, we will back you up. Because you deserve the strategy, the clear mission, the defined goals and the equipment and support you need to get the job done. That’s the promise I make to you.

As you meet your missions around the world, we will take care of your families here at home. That’s why Michelle has been visiting bases across the country. That’s why the Recovery Act is funding projects like improvements to your hospital and a new child development center at Mayport. It’s why we’re increasing your pay, increasing child care and helping families deal with the stress and separation of war.

Finally, we pledge to be there when you come home. We’re improving care for our wounded warriors, especially those with Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injuries. We’re funding the Post-9/11 GI Bill—to give you and your families the chance to pursue your dreams. And we’re making the biggest commitment to our veterans—the largest percentage increase in the VA budget—in more than 30 years.

These are the commitments I make to you; the obligations that your country is honor-bound to uphold. Because you’ve have always taken care of America, and America must always take care of you. Always.

You know this. It’s the spirit you live by every day. It’s the pride—and yes, the anxiety—when you wave goodbye to your loved ones on the tarmac. It’s the joy—and relief—when they come home safe. And it’s the dignity and respect you show every fallen warrior who comes home to Jacksonville, like the navy aviator you honored two months ago.

Navy Captain Michael Scott Speicher. The kid from Orange Park. Loving husband. Devoted father. Based at Cecil Field not far from here. Then, on the first day of Operation Desert Storm, he was taken from us. And in the long years that followed, a Navy family and this city would endure the heartache of the unknown.

Through all those years, no one missed Scott more—or fought harder to bring him home—than his wife Joanne. His friend and former Navy pilot Buddy Harris. And their children: Meghan, Michael, Madison and Makenzie. They were among the Gold Star families I met with, and we thank them for being here with us today.

Then, this summer, the news came. After 18 years, after all the dashed hopes, we found him. Scott’s remains were finally coming home. The evening news and morning papers told the story of that day. But few told the story of the days that followed.

It’s the story of how you greeted the plane upon landing—hundreds of sailors—and escorted his flag-draped casket to your chapel. How Navy honor guards kept constant vigil, through the night, as so many of you passed by to pay your respects. How thousands of you—sailors and civilians—lined the streets of this base as you gave Scott back to the city he loved. That’s what you do, not only for Scott, but for all the fallen warriors you bring home.

It’s the story of how that procession retraced the steps of Scott’s life. Past the Jacksonville veterans memorial that now bears his name. Past the church where he worshiped, the high school where he excelled and Cecil Field where he served.

It’s the story of how Jacksonville seemed to come to a standstill as people lined street after street to honor one of their own. Scott’s friends and total strangers. Police and firefighters standing at attention. Small children holding American flags. Graying veterans giving a firm salute. And then, as Scott was finally laid to rest, a final fitting tribute—his old squadron roared overhead, high across the sky.

That’s the spirit we see here today. You, men and women devoted to each other—and to your country. A proud country devoted to you. And the example you set for us all: that if you can come together—from every corner of America, every color and creed, every background and belief—to take care of each other, to serve together, to succeed together, then so can we. So can America.

Thank you for your service. And thank you for reminding us of the country we can and must always be. God bless you Jacksonville. And God bless the United States of America.

Video, Transcripts, and Analysis: National Security Advisor Jones on CBS and CNN (4 October)

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Have a good viewing of the video or read of the transcript of the interview of General James Jones, President Obama's National Security Advisor, on CBS's Face the Nation and you'll get the big story. The fight between Obama advisors who want to limit US involvement in Afghanistan and the military commanders who want escalation just went public, big-time. The decision of General Stanley McChrystal, in a speech in London, to trash Vice President Joe Biden's preference for a tightly-defined American effort against Al Qa'eda was a Take That to the Administration. That's why he got hauled aboard Air Force One, as President Obama made a special stopover en route to Copenhangen, for "consultations".

Jones, with his military background, has been Obama's chosen tough guy to face down the commanders (thus his comment this summer to the commanders in Afghanistan that, faced with a request for more troops, the President would react, "WTF?"). So, watching and reading this, how firm a line will Obama hold against the persistent demands and public pressures of his Generals?

(Below the CBS interview we've added the transcript of Jones' appearance on CNN's State of the Union, which goes over similar ground.)

Watch CBS News Videos Online

BOB SCHIEFFER, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: General, thank you for coming. More bad news from Afghanistan this morning. Eight American troops killed in this latest attack. This as the White House is debating whether to send more troops to Afghanistan. I want to begin by asking you about this meeting that the president had with General McChrystal, our top general in Afghanistan. He met with him in Copenhagen after the general basally shot down the idea of changing strategy in Afghanistan. Two questions. First, did the president feel that the general was trying to bring pressure on him in public and did he tell him not to do that?

GEN. JIM JONES, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, Bob, first, thank you very much for having me on. It’s good to be back. Secondly to answer your question, I wasn’t at that meeting. And this is a one- on-one meeting between the two of them. And I haven’t really talked to the president about that. So I couldn’t answer this question except to say that the two had a good meeting and it was a good opportunity for them to get to know each other a little bit better. I’m sure they exchanged very direct views.

SCHIEFFER: Well, did the general tell the president that he thinks it’s a bad idea not to put these extra troops into Afghanistan that he is requesting? He says he needs 40,000 troops.

JONES: Well, General McChrystal and the entire military chain of command as well as the Secretary of Defense and the entire national security team is in the process of discussing this very issue. We’ve had one lengthy meeting already last week with General McChrystal on the screen from Kabul. We will have more.

This week, two more meetings this week. So all of these things are being discussed as they should be against the back drop of this unfortunate tragedy that we all regret.

But it serves to underscore the importance of the moment to make sure that the strategic issues and the strategic decisions that the president will make are fully aired and vetted and that the options that the president has are also put on the table. It would be, I think, unfortunate if we let the discussion just be about troop strength. There is a minimum level that you have to have that there’s unfortunately no ceiling to it.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just put up on the screen here what exactly the general said last week in London. When he was asked is scaling back the force as Vice President Biden wants to do was a good idea. Here’s what he said. “The short answer is no. A strategy that does not leave Afghanistan in a stable position is probably a short-sighted strategy.”

That’s pretty tough bottom line there, it seems to me. For example, do you agree that that would be a short-sighted strategy, general?

JONES: Well, I think that the -- I’ve said before for many years -- and I’ve had about six years of involvement in Afghanistan in various functions -- I think it would be a mistake to underestimate the importance of other elements of the strategy that were decided on in March.

We do have a strategy. What General McChrystal has done is presented his opinion, is presenting his opinion of what he thinks his role within that strategy is. Our strategy is a regional strategy. We focus on Afghanistan and also Pakistan. And I think that to not understand the value of the role that the government to play in Afghanistan and we have an election that is playing itself out is a very, very significant aspect of the strategy.

And to not fully understand how reconstruction and development play in, whether you’re adopting a counterterrorism strategy or counterinsurgency strategy, there are things that you have to do, there are common things you have to do to be successful in both.

So I think this is what we’re going to tear apart and look at and consider General McChrystal’s input. The president should be presented with options, not just one fait accompli. And we will come up with the right solution, I think.

SCHIEFFER: Well, isn’t it going to be difficult though? Because this is the man that President Obama September sent out there? He relieved the general that was in command. He sent the new man out, said you go out there and tell me what we need to be doing here. And he comes back and says we need 40,000 troops. Isn’t that a hard decision for the president to disagree with?

JONES: On that score, the president is just now receiving the -- what the ask is in terms of troops. So that hasn’t -- that has not been discussed yet.

Our process is to examine the strategy, make sure we have that right, and again it’s Afghanistan for sure but it’s also Pakistan and it’s the region which is why we reshaped ourselves to deal with this issue in that way.

There are things going on in Pakistan that are very encouraging. The Pakistani army and the government have done much better since March when the strategy was announced against the insurgents on their side of the border. The relationship between the United States military and the Pakistani military is a growing one. It’s on the ascendancy. We hope that will lead to a campaign against all insurgents on that side of the border.

If that happens, that’s a strategic shift that will spill over into Afghanistan. So I would remind just for the sake of discussion here what our goals were to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda from being able to operate inside of Afghanistan, returning to Afghanistan, and also in the so-called safe haven of Pakistan.

SCHIEFFER: General, that prompts a question. Do you believe -- I mean, the general conventional wisdom is that if the Taliban comes back in force, if we’re not there, then al Qaeda will come back. Other people are saying, you know, during these discussions at the White House, we’re questioning all these assumptions. Do you think it follows that if the Taliban comes back that al Qaeda will be back?

JONES: That’s a hypothetical that I just, you know, it just depends on the circumstances. I would prefer to think about the other side of the coin is how do we make the present government successful? How do we get better rule of law at the local, regional and national level?

How do we marshal the nation-building effort, if you will, the development effort, economic development so that people in Afghanistan have a better future? By the way, the people of Afghanistan know what life is like under the Taliban. They’re not exactly thrilled about that possibility.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you is. Officials in Pakistan and Afghanistan have told us that we are concerned that once again America is losing our resolve in that part of the world. Are you concerned that what we consider deliberating others might see as dithering?

JONES: Well, you know, I think the deliberation is important. We have not only our national deliberation but we have an international presence that is extremely impressive and important. We are working side by side with NATO, for example, as we evaluate General McChrystal’s recommendation.

So, this is something that the president had said we would always do back in March he said after the elections we will make an assessment. This is exactly what’s happening. No one has suggested that we’re about to leave Afghanistan. We are committed to the battle against the radicals, radical terrorism.

SCHIEFFER: When do you think we’ll have a decision? When will the decision have a decision, a matter of weeks, months?

JONES: No, no. I think in a matter of weeks. We’re going to -- we have time on the president’s schedule. He’s going to devote an enormous amount of his time to lead us through this. Everyone will be involved. And at the end of the day, the right way to do this is to present the president with a set of options on what he can do. And Afghanistan will be the topic but it won’t be the only topic. It will be Pakistan. It will be the region. That’s the way we should do it.

SCHIEFFER: I have to ask you before you go about Iran. The “New York Times” reports this morning that the atomic agency concludes that Iran has acquired sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable bomb. I take it we know about this. What is the significance of that? Because two years ago, of course, our intelligence reported that Iran had stopped trying to design a nuclear weapon.

JONES: You know, I don’t think, you know, whether they know how to do it or not is, you know, is a matter of some conjecture but what we’re watching is what is their intent. And we have been worried about that intent. We now have an Iran that is willing to come to the table. We have two more meetings scheduled, one in which they will announce the -- they will allow the inspectors to visit the Qom site, which has just been recently announced, and the other one to discuss methodology by which we can ship [enriched] uranium out of the country.

Those two things alone move the dial in our direction favorably. And the issue of proliferation is one that really keeps us up at night and should keep us up at night whether it’s North Korea or Iran and on both fronts, we’re seeing some positive movement in the positive direction.

SCHIEFFER: All right, well general, we have to let you go. Thanks so much for joining us.

JONES: Bob, it’s always a pleasure, thank you very much.
CNN's State of the Union

KING: Let’s start as Americans wake to this sad news. Eight more Americans killed in Afghanistan in what is described as a fierce gunfight up near the Pakistan border. Let’s start with the threshold question. Nearly eight years after that war began, how long? How long will Americans be fighting in Afghanistan?

JONES: Well, John, as you know, we have been there a while and our allies have been there with us -- 42 countries, NATO, all of the major organizations of the world, from the U.N. to NATO, the EU, 68,000 U.S. troops now closing, 30,000 allied troops and close to 100,000 Afghan troops.

So it’s a robust force. I think the strategic decisions that the president is considering right now in the wake of the March decisions and the conference that we had in the White House are really the topic of the moment and that will set the stage for what happens in the future.

KING: Set the stage. So you don’t see the end in sight now?

JONES: Well I think the end is much more complex than just about adding “X” number of troops. Afghanistan is a country that’s quite large and that swallows up a lot of people. The key in Afghanistan, as we said back in March, is to have a triad of things happen simultaneously.

Security is obviously one reason, one important thing to take care of, but the other two are economic development and good governance in the rule of law and on that score, we have a lot more work to do and a Karzai government is going to have to pitch in and do much better than they have. But underlying that is, of course, the effort to build up the Afghan national security force, the police, and the army and that will be an important part of whatever we decide to do.

KING: Let’s walk through some of the challenges. As the head of the National Security Council, you are leading these discussions. One of the big questions is, does the return of the Taliban, if the United States were to have a smaller footprint or come out of Afghanistan all together and the Taliban was resurgent, does the return of the Taliban in your view, sir, equal the return of a sanctuary for al Qaeda?

JONES: Well, I think this is one of the central issues and it could. Obviously, the good news is that Americans should feel at least good about in Afghanistan is that the al Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country. No bases. No buildings to launch attacks on either us or our allies.

Now the problem is, the next step in this is the sanctuaries across the border. But I don’t foresee the return of the Taliban and I want to be very clear that Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling.

We are in the backdrop of this sad news and we all of us extend our condolences to the families who are going to get some sad news. But this is a tactical situation and the strategic discussions that go on and that are going to go on involving the senior military, senior active duty military in our armed forces and in the civilian leadership are very serious, very strategic, and very comprehensive. And it would be unwise to rush to a final judgment here.

KING: Well, General McChrystal -- excuse me for interrupting, but General McChrystal said he believes there is a very strong possibility if the Taliban resurged, that that would be equal, essentially, another open sanctuary, more camps. That’s where they launched the 9/11 attacks from. Do you and General McChrystal disagree on this?

JONES: No, I don’t think so. I think that’s a hypothetical. I believe that -- and I think most of us believe that the Karzai government does have a chance of pulling this out. As I said, troops are a consideration, but the other two factors that I mentioned, bringing hope to the people of Afghanistan through economic development, good governance, no corruption, no crime, replace corrupt governors where they have to be replaced. And I think what everybody agrees on is a really robust effort to help the Afghan army and the Afghan police control their own destiny.

KING: I want to get to the political situation, but let’s stay on security for a minute. Do you believe that we could succeed in Afghanistan with a smaller footprint, as some have said? Vice President Biden once discussed vigorously, as in special forces, use of drones, not as big of a footprint on the ground, not 68,000 and certainly not 100,000, but actually fewer American troops on the ground. Could we succeed that way?

JONES: We will be examining different options, and I’m sure General McChrystal and General Petraeus and Admiral Mullen will be willing to present different options and different scenarios in this discussion that we’re having.

I want to be clear that we have agreed on a strategy back in March. That strategy still obtains. The McChrystal report is his initial assessment on how to best support that strategy. So in the coming weeks, we will have vigorous debates. There will be alternative views presented and we’ll come up, I’m quite sure we’ll come up with a right solution.

KING: If he has campaigned, General McChrystal has quite publicly, a big speech in London the other day for his plan -- if the president decides no, I’m not sending more troops to Afghanistan, you have been in that position yourself sir as a commanding general. Could General McChrystal stay on if the president said no?

JONES: Again, that’s another hypothetical that I probably --

KING: Would you?

JONES: I shouldn’t judge what General McChrystal is going to do or not do. I am absolutely convinced that General McChrystal is in it for the long haul. He has said so publicly and privately. So this is not a -- this is not -- I don’t think this is an issue.

I think the real issue here, and this is important, John, the real issue I think is how we make all of the things that have to work together function in Afghanistan. And this is a strategic moment. And I think that we have an election that we have to get through and certify, the legitimacy of which is important for the people of Afghanistan.

We have really three things that have happened since March. One is, we’ve had the election and we’re getting to the point where, hopefully, it will be certified and it will be seen as legitimate. That’s very important. We’ve had General McChrystal’s assessment, which says the Taliban is doing better than he thought, and that is good. And then the third thing that’s happened, and this is a theater impact, it’s very important, is the Pakistani army and the Pakistani government has done much better than anybody thought they would do since March.

So that changes the game a little bit in terms of the regional configuration. I’ve said earlier that the presence of the -- I’m sorry, of al Qaeda in Afghanistan is virtually, is minimal. So we have these safe havens to deal with. We’re working very closely with the Pakistani government and the Pakistani army to try to, to try to help them get rid of the insurgency problem on their side of the border. If that happens, that’s a strategic shift in the region.

KING: The president sad down face-to-face with General McChrystal the other day on Air Force One in Europe. Did he express any disappointment that the commander has been so public? Essentially many in Washington think almost putting the commander-in-chief in a box by publicly saying, I need these troops?

JONES: Well, I wasn’t there and what happened between -- the conversation between the -- and I’ve not spoken to the president since he talked to him, so I can’t comment on the conversation.

KING: Is that an appropriate -- would you act that way as a commander? Is it at all unseemly that the men in uniform, and I know sir you wore the uniform for many years, that they’re out openly campaigning for this one as an open question for the president?

JONES: Ideally, it’s better for military advice to come up through the chain of command and I think that General McChrystal and the others in the chain of command will present the president with not just one option, which does, in fact, tend to have a, you know, enforcing function, but a range of options that the president can consider. And as I said, and forgive me for repeating myself, troops are a portion of the answer, but not the total answer. It’s this coordination that has --

KING: But you know you have some critics. Having seen General McChrystal made his case publicly, having spoken to General Petraeus, having been to the region, some Republicans including Senator John McCain say that you, sir, and others in the White House are playing politics with this decision. I want you to listen to Senator McCain.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It’s well known, it’s broadcast all over television, that there are individuals, including the vice president of the United States, now, unfortunately, the national security adviser, the chief political adviser to the president, Mr. Rahm Emanuel who don’t want to alienate the left base of the Democrat Party.


KING: Is that a factor in the White House, rising Democratic opposition to sending more troops to Afghanistan? Do you, sir, say, Mr. President, no more troops, because of politics, as Senator McCain says?

JONES: Senator McCain knows me very well. I worked for Senator McCain when he was a captain. I’ve known him for many, many years and he knows that I don’t play politics with national -- I don’t play politics, and I certainly don’t play it with national security and neither does anyone else I know. The lives of our young men and women are on the line. The strategy does not belong to any political party and I can assure you that the president of the United States is not playing to any political base. And I take exception to that remark.

KING: Let me ask you lastly on this subject because there’s a lot I want to talk about, but on this subject, you said you hope the government is certified soon. As you know, there have been allegations of massive fraud in the elections. Peter Galbraith is a U.S. diplomat who is part of the U.N. team there and then was removed because he says he spoke up. He wrote an op-ed piece in “The Washington Post” today where he says this. “As many as 30 percent of Karzai’s votes were fraudulent and lesser fraud was committed on behalf of other candidates.” And he again says, “The fraud has handed the Taliban its greatest strategic victory in eight years of fighting the United States and its Afghan partners.”

Was he right? Was the fraud that bad, and if so, can we have a relationship with President Karzai?

JONES: This is the first election that the Afghans have run themselves, and so it’s probably destined to be a little bit imperfect. But the important thing is that the Afghan people, however this comes out, the Afghan people feel that President Karzai is their legitimate president.

And I think the IEC, which is the Afghan Election Committee, and the ECC, the international position, international commission are reconciling in such a way that hopefully within the next week or 10 days, they’ll come out and they’ll basically certify the election.

Obviously, there is some fraud and abuses, but I think that they’ll come to a good spot and the Afghans will support -- it’s very important that they support the legitimately elected president. As to the dispute between Mr. Galbraith and Kai Eide, I know them both. They’re exceptionally able people. Unfortunately on this view, they had a sharp division of opinions. The U.N. is going to resolve it. But in the end, what’s most important is that the Afghans feel they have a legitimate president and I think it’s headed in that direction.

KING: A quick break. We’ll be back with more with General Jones, the national security adviser, in just a minute. We’ll discuss a new report suggesting Iran is closer to a nuclear bomb than you might have thought. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We’re back now with national security adviser and retired Marine Corps general Jim Jones. General, I want to start with this alarming headline in “The New York Times” today. Reports say Iran has data to make a nuclear bomb. If you read this in detail, it says essentially that Iran has cracked the code. It knows now how to make a smaller warhead. That it is closer to being able to build a bomb, a workable nuclear bomb and deliver it than the United States intelligence assessment that is public and those of some of our allies. Is that a fact? Are they closer to a bomb that has been publicly acknowledged?

JONES: No, we stand by the reports that we’ve put out. I think you’re going to get a lot of speculation, one way or the other, but I think that what’s happened with regard to Iran in the last couple of weeks has been very significant. And I think that they’ve recently announced that they will open their facility for inspection. I think on the 25th of October, as a matter of fact, in Qom. And then again when they meet again on the 19th of October, they will be discussing the methodology by which they transfer about 1,200 kilos of low enriched uranium to Russia.

KING: How do we deal with the trust issue there? The president said he wanted inspectors in in two weeks, they’ve cut this deal, they will go in three weeks from today. Are you reasonably assured, do you have verification measures in place? Can you see them if they try to move things out of there, if they try to essentially doctor the evidence before the inspectors get there?

JONES: Generally, yes. But I think there’s no substitute for inspections and verification and the fact that Iran came to the table and seemingly showed some degree of cooperation, I think, is a good thing.

Clearly, on matters of proliferation, whether it’s North Korea or Iran, the world is sending a strong message to both countries, and fortunately, we’re seeing some positive reaction to that. But this is not going to be an open-ended process. We want to be satisfied. We, the world community, want to be satisfied within a short period of time. So it’s not going to be extended discussions that we’re going to have before we draw our conclusions to what their real intent is. But for now, I think things are moving in the right direction.

KING: I’ll get you on a couple other questions. Two months ago, you were on “FOX News Sunday” and you said, “I’m confident we’ll be able to meet the deadline to close Gitmo within one year.” Since then, people -- Secretary Gates, others you’ve served with have said, probably not. Do you think you’ll meet that one year or is that going to slip?

JONES: We’re still going to -- we’re hard at work on it and we’re working not only internationally, but also nationally. And I still hope that we’ll be able to meet that deadline.

But the important thing is that the president has committed to closing the facility. It’s turned out to be harder than we thought, but ultimately, I think that -- we think that Gitmo is a symbol for what it represents, has to be closed, and we’ll find the solutions.

KING: You’re national security adviser at a time of two wars, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And there’s a big question about a promise the president made in the campaign, ending the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about homosexuals serving openly in the military.

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid , sent the president a letter this past week in which he says, “At a time when we are fighting two wars, I do not believe we can afford to discharge any qualified individual who is willing to serve our country. Many members of Congress, like me, support the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ As Congress considers future legislative action, we believe it would be helpful to hear your views on policy.”

They want the president to get involved. Is it time now, as soon as possible, to change that policy?

JONES: The -- the president has an awful lot on -- on his desk. I know this is an issue that he intends to take on at the appropriate time. And he has already signaled that to the Defense Department. The Defense Department is doing the things it has to do to prepare, but at the right time, I’m sure the president will take it on.

KING: No idea when the right time is?

JONES: I don’t think it’s going to be -- it’s not years, but I think -- I think it will be teed up appropriately.

KING: Let me ask you, lastly. It’s our first time saying hello here on the program. Obviously, you’re worried about Afghanistan. You’re worried about Iraq. You mentioned North Korea, the nuclear issues, the Middle East.

When you go to bed at night and you look at the map, what keeps you up? Is there something we’re not paying attention to? Is it Yemen? Is it Somalia? Is it somewhere else in the world where you say, “You know what? I know we have to do all this, but this one worries me”?

JONES: There are a lot of things that keep me up at night, but if I had to pick one that I -- that I thought was most -- most alarming, it’s the question of proliferation and weapons of mass destruction falling into terrorists’ hands.

Generally, nation states, once they have the capability, can be controlled a little bit more. But if we -- if we lost, you know, track of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction and came into the hands of a radical terrorist group, they would use them. And that -- and that bothers me a great deal.

And that’s why this question of proliferation is probably central to how our children and grandchildren are going to live in this 21st century. And that we have to do a better job of explaining to our friends and allies how serious this is. And that’s why, I think, the pursuit of organizations like al Qaeda, wherever they are, has to be an international effort, and we have to be successful.

KING: General Jim Jones, the national security adviser. Sir, we thank you for your time today here on the program.