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Rumsfeld: It's Not Helpful to 'Personify' War on Terrorism

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2002 – The United States would like to capture Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda terrorist network's leader and financier, "but the problem is much bigger than any one person," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said June 27.

"Trying to personify the problem is catchy for headlines, but it's not terribly useful in the global war on terrorism," Rumsfeld said to reporters as he left a Senate meeting on Capitol Hill. The secretary said that even if U.S. forces were to capture bin Laden and "take him out of commission, the al Qaeda organization would go right on."

The war on terrorism's goal is to deal with global terrorist networks and the countries that harbor them. "It is true that al Qaeda is a critical one of those global terrorist networks," Rumsfeld said. "It is not the only one."

Noting that the Senate had recently passed the Defense Authorization Bill, Rumsfeld expressed disappointment that the 2002 Supplemental Appropriation Bill had not passed and was unlikely to before Congress recesses today. He said it's important that the House and Senate address the bill immediately upon their return July 8.

"Those are funds that are needed for the global war on terrorism," Rumsfeld said. "They're needed for such things as helping to train the Afghan army, and it's important that we, as a country, continue to provide as secure an environment in Afghanistan as is possible so that we can go ahead and continue to pursue the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists."

Asked if he was apprehensive about possible attacks during the Fourth of July holiday, Rumsfeld said he's "not in the business of giving warnings, alerts or a heads-up" on possible terrorist events in the United States.

"We have forces all over the world," he said. "We're constantly adjusting force levels and threat levels in various parts of the world based on intelligence, but I have nothing I would really want to say about that."

In news from Afghanistan, U.S. Central Command officials reported today there was no U.S. involvement in an explosion at an ammunition storage site in southern Afghanistan that occurred Friday morning, local Afghan time. According to press reports, the powerful blast, in the town of Spin Boldak, about 185 miles south of Kandahar, killed one person, injured more than 25 others and shattered windows two miles away. Another 50 people are reportedly missing.

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