JIM LEHRER: And finally tonight, a conversation with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the occasion of the publication of her memoir, "Madame Secretary." I spoke with her earlier this evening. Madame Secretary, welcome.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Good to be with you, Jim.
JIM LEHRER: First, a couple of news developments. You are a member of the board of the New York Stock Exchange did you participate in the meeting to ask Richard Grasso to resign?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I was at that board meeting yes, I did participate in it.
JIM LEHRER: Were you favor of it?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I'm not going to talk about the specific votes. I was very glad to have been part of the board. As secretary of state, I understood the importance of global capital markets and essential part that the New York Stock Exchange plays in that. I am interested in governance. I requested to be on the committee, and I think that the stock exchange needs to be more representative of the smaller investor. And so I'm looking to the future and trying to work on the governance issues.
JIM LEHRER: You think it was a good thing for Richard Grasso to step aside?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I think the time came and that was the decision the board made. Carl McCall will be speaking much more on behalf of the board on this issue.
JIM LEHRER: What about the issue of folks who gave him the $140 million, in other words, the people on the board who passed on that, are they off the hook now that Grasso is gone or is that also part of what needs to be looked at as well?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I think part of what will be looked at in the future as part of governance committee is looking at executive compensation and packages like this. Those decisions had all been made in a previous time.
JIM LEHRER: Now, Wesley Clark announced for Democratic presidential nomination yesterday. It's widely known that the Clinton administration essentially fired him as NATO commander after the Kosovo War. What can you tell us about that?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I think it was much more complicated than that, and it was time for Joe Ralston take over the job at NATO. I think Wes Clark is one of the most remarkable people. He is a very good friend of mine. I had taught his son first, and then Wes was my military liaison when I was at the U.N. He was a wonderful partner for the Kosovo War. I think he did a great job and I am very glad he's entered the race.
JIM LEHRER: You don't know why he was fired?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I don't know all the details of that. That was done by other people.
JIM LEHRER: Okay. Now to your book, "Madam Secretary" -- after reading your book, I had a feeling that those two words still have deep resonance with you, am I right about that?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Absolutely. I think it's one of the best titles. I loved being Madam Secretary. I hope that the book shows there was not a minute that I wasn't proud to serve the United States and very proud to be the first woman secretary of state and I really loved the job. And I make very clear that I don't believe people who say that they are glad those kind of jobs are over.
JIM LEHRER: Was the fact that you were the first woman to be secretary of state, how did that affect your functioning as secretary of state?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I think ultimately it didn't, though there were a lot of questions as to whether a woman could be secretary of state. I write about the months or the weeks leading up to it where there were people who said a woman couldn't be secretary and couldn't deal with Arab countries and couldn't do the job. What I found was that it... I think actually was an advantage. There were many things that I could do in terms of being concerned about relationships with different leaders having a sense of desire to build some consensus and then maybe not fairly but switching signals, sometimes being very charming, but then telling it like it is. And I didn't have trouble with the leaders in Arab countries. I arrived in a very large plane that said "United States of America."
JIM LEHRER: But you did have problems with some of the men within the Clinton administration, did you not?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I did, but not... I tried to analyze that. Some of it had to do with the fact that we all knew each other so well. They had known me in a completely different role. I had been a staffer on the Hill or I had served with their wife on a school board or been a carpool mother. I think all of a sudden to have me have the number one job was a shock to some of them.
JIM LEHRER: Some of them you said in the book just interrupted you all the time. They didn't listen to you. You were secretary of state or even before that when you were the U.N. Ambassador, you would come to a meeting as a member of cabinet and you start talking and they would look away or interrupt.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, that did happen and I found it very irritating. It happened more while I was ambassador to the U.N., but I think I ultimately got my point of view across mainly because the President of the United States never did that to me, and I think that we developed a very good relationship and agreement on the policy issues.
JIM LEHRER: President Clinton took you seriously as secretary of state?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I certainly had that feeling and he was very supportive and I had access to him when I needed it. And he did not drum his fingers on the table when I spoke.
JIM LEHRER: You also said quite openly that you believe that Hillary Clinton had something to do with the fact of your becoming secretary of state. There were two or three other people that were in the running and the stories kept putting you in the second tier or whatever and suddenly you got the job, and you said you believe Hillary Clinton had something to do with that?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I do believe that and she makes that clear as she writes. And President Clinton, when we were at an embassy at a foreign country and we were there together, he did in fact say that Hillary had had a great deal to do with it and I had never been off the list. There were people that came and went, but that I hadn't been off the list. But ultimately if President Clinton hadn't wanted me, I would not have been secretary of state.
JIM LEHRER: You also said that you felt... you drew some heat, some criticism outside the administration from other folks because you were a woman. People were not as ease, some people were not at ease about a woman secretary of state. You were criticized for doing things that if a man had done them it would not have happened. Do you still feel that way?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that there were certain aspects where women would say I was emotional or adjectives for a man in would be used as saying "committed," but for a woman it was "emotional." I have to say something to you very frankly, Jim. It's a changed a little bit as I wrote the book, because some of the things that I thought were gender-based that effected me as I watched some Colin Powell's problems, I think that they are not gender-based.
JIM LEHRER: It goes with the job.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: It may go with the job and the way that the State Department is one of many national security agencies when I happen to believe and so does Colin Powell, I think, that it's the prime agency.
JIM LEHRER: It's hard for a secretary of state to make that case increasingly, is that what you're saying?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: It's very hard and it's hard during a war particularly because the State Department has no airplanes. I do think that the combination of the department's working together. I also think -- I also think that Sandy Berger did everything he could do to have a very good team...
JIM LEHRER: National security advisor to President Clinton.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Yes.
JIM LEHRER: On some of the policy issues, are you satisfied that you and the Clinton administration did everything you could about Osama bin Laden and possible terrorism from al-Qaida while were you in office?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Absolutely. It's obviously something that we have all reviewed in our heads, but I think that we made very clear the danger of terrorism. President Clinton spoke about it early and often and developed a whole set of policies which made it possible to look at the financial trail of the terrorists to try to establish and give a greater budget to the CIA and FBI created an Osama bin Laden part of the CIA. We also foiled a lot of attempts -- the dogs that didn't bark. I think the most famous is over the millennium at Los Angeles Airport. I do think... and the other part that I think people forget. Before 9/11, things were quite different. When we reacted to the bombing of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and launched 75 Cruise missiles against Osama bin Laden's camps and came very close to getting him and attacked a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan, people thought we had overreacted. It was the opposite. I think we did everything we could.
JIM LEHRER: But now the suggestion is you under reacted as you know.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I think that we actually did the right thing. We consumed all the intelligence we had. We hit at Osama bin Laden when we thought we could find him and now there are 8,000 U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. They have been... after they bombed everything, they've been there more than two years and they haven't found Osama bin Laden. So I think it's a very hard job and I think we did everything we could.
JIM LEHRER: Do you have any regrets that you did not do more about Saddam Hussein and Iraq under your watch?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: No, I think we actually did a lot of... kept him in a strategic box. We bombed very much if you remember all the maps always in terms of North and South -- covers a great portion of Iraq. I think we had him in the box. I have said that I agree with the "why" of what President Bush has done because I said the same things about Saddam Hussein that he has said, but I didn't understand the "why now." While he was a threat, I didn't think he was a imminent threat and I question the "what next," which clearly is an issue at this point. I think we did what we could. We did not plan to invade Iraq, but we did want to see regime change from inside and we had him in a strategic box.
JIM LEHRER: Do you think the United States and Britain were right to invade Iraq?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that it is harder and harder to understand some of the motivations. I think the world is better off that Saddam Hussein is not around, but there has been a chaotic situation created and in some ways a self-fulfilling prophecy even though now the administration is saying they never linked 9/11 with Saddam Hussein they had in fact created those links. They said that it was the center of terrorism and now, I think, it is. It has attracted all the various terrorism groups and it is a breeding ground and a gathering ground for terrorists.
JIM LEHRER: You mean as a result of our action there?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, because it's a chaotic situation now and I think that's the problem with the lack of planning for the post period.
JIM LEHRER: Speaking of the post period, where do you come down on the dispute between basically the United States and France now, and there are other countries involved, over internationalizing the civilian control, not getting the U.N. involved, but giving control to the Iraqi governance council earlier than the United States wants to?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I think it's unfortunate that we believe that France is our enemy. France is never easy to deal with it and I spent a lot time with my counterparts, but the alliance with France is something that strengthens us both. I believe that the United Nations does need to be brought into this -- that it is perfectly possible to have a situation where you have the United States in charge of the military and then put the United Nations much more in charge of the political, economic, and humanitarian aspect, and I do think that it is probably better to try to get some kind of local control. The problem is at what stage do you have elections? You can't impose democracy from the top. It has to be built from the bottom. I find the debate about the Iraqi, about the governing council, a little strange, since they originally said that it was not representative of anybody, that is the French, and now they want to turn it over more quickly. I do think there needs to be a U.N. decision on it and then a process that allows more Iraqi control, but that we need to be there internationally.
JIM LEHRER: Do you get the feeling that this is going to be worked out between the United States and France and this thing is going to go away, the problem is going to go away?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I hope so. I think it requires a great deal of diplomacy and something that I found and that I write about a lot in terms of Kosovo, is how much work it took. I was on the phone every day with my counterparts about how to work before the war, during the war and after. And we developed plans about how to do the post part in Kosovo on a daily basis by having very intense retail diplomacy.
JIM LEHRER: You said in your book -- I'm paraphrasing -- that Kosovo you are very proud of. That was "Madeleine's War" as they called it. You also said that your biggest regret has to do with Rwanda. Explain why you have regrets.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I was ambassador at the U.N. and I tried very hard in the book to explain the context of dealing with so much peacekeeping operations at the same time and that the horror of the volcanic explosion of genocide in Rwanda came after we lost Blackhawk down and our soldiers - our marines there and the tragedy of that. But I do think that the international community failed in not being able to put together forces to try to help in Rwanda. I'm not sure and I try to be frank about this, that we could have gotten enough forces in there on time, but I personally wish when I had been at the Security Council I called for new instruction and a made quite a fuss, but I wish I made more of a fuss, because I think it is a major tragedy and both President Clinton and I have expressed our regret for that.
JIM LEHRER: But generally speaking, reading your book, I came away with the impression that you are very proud of what you did as secretary of state and as U.N. Ambassador. Is that a correct reading?
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: That is a correct reading, and I know this may sound hokey but not being born an American and having the opportunity to...
JIM LEHRER: You were born in Czechoslovakia.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Yes and having the opportunity to be a part of the goodness of American power, I was very proud to serve a president who believed in active engagement and we did a lot of good things we enlarged NATO and we stopped the fighting in Kosovo and we tried our hardest to get peace in the middle east and to have some resolution of the problems with North Korea. We believed in treaties. We were not treaty-allergic. We tried to create a new international system for the 21st century. So I'm very proud of what we did.
JIM LEHRER: People can read all about it in "Madam Secretary." And Madam Secretary, thank you very much.
MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Jim.