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Rumsfeld: Threat Warnings are 'Just the Truth'

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2002 – Over the last few days, Vice President Dick Cheney, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and New York City authorities have warned that terrorists will most likely strike again.

"What's going on? Are all these things part of a pattern?" Jim Lehrer asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld Wednesday night on the PBS program NewsHour.

"There is no pattern," Rumsfeld replied. "It's just the truth."

The truth, the defense secretary stressed, is that there are hundreds of trained terrorists around the world. "They have money," he said. "They are skillful at what they do, as we saw on Sept. 11."

For months, Rumsfeld said, he's been warning Americans that such countries as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya and North Korea sponsor terrorism and that these nations have chemical and biological weapons programs. Some of them also have aggressive programs to develop nuclear weapons.

These countries have close relationships with al Qaeda, Hezbollah and other terrorist networks, and the terrorists want to acquire weapons of mass destruction, he said. Based on what the world witnessed on Sept. 11, "they wouldn't hesitate a second to use weapons of mass destruction, if they had them."

"That's the world we live in," Rumsfeld said. "The proliferation of these weapons is so widespread that we have to expect that that will be the case."

Even though the defense secretary and other security officials have said there is no perfect defense against terrorism, much is being done to protect America, according to Rumsfeld. U.S. officials have been working aggressively to reduce proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the capabilities to deliver them. They are also working to heighten public awareness of the threats and strengthen intelligence gathering.

Since it's not possible to defend at every time in every place against every conceivable technique, Rumsfeld said, the United States is taking the offensive. President Bush wants to go after global terrorists around the world and the countries that serve as sanctuaries and havens.

"We went into Afghanistan and we have thrown the Taliban government out and we've got the al Qaeda on the run," Rumsfeld said. "We have to stay at it now and see that Afghanistan does not revert back to a terrorist haven."

U.S. leaders are also using other means to put pressure on the terrorists, he said. U.S. efforts are working to dry up terrorists' financial support, to cut terrorist recruiting and to make it more difficult for them to move between countries. "It seems to me that we've got a full court press on terrorists around the world," Rumsfeld said.

But that still doesn't mean you can stop every attack, the defense secretary noted. The threat of asymmetrical attacks is a reality, which makes it important for the nation to transform the military. The armed forces must be "arranged for the kinds of threats and capabilities that can be used against us in the coming decade or two," he concluded.

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Related Sites:
DoD News Transcript: Sec. Rumsfeld Interview with Jim Lehrer, News Hour, PBS TV, May 22, 2002

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