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Secretary Rumsfeld Radio Interview with the Jerry Agar Show

Presenters: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Jerry Agar
March 02, 2006
Secretary Rumsfeld Radio Interview with the Jerry Agar Show

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Don Rumsfeld here.


            AGAR:  Jerry Agar.  It's good to talk to you again.


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  It's good to talk to you.  You've been in Iraq since I've seen you.


            AGAR:  Well, I tried to go back and they said I couldn't go this time.  Can I appeal to your higher rank here?


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  I'll beat up on Eric Ruff right after this and tell him you ought to be able to go back.


            AGAR:  I do want to go back.


            You're in Independence, you're at the Truman Library to talk about our global war on terror.  Why the Truman Library?


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Well, President Harry S. Truman's role as President was so important and so historic and he was the initiator of so many aspects of the post Cold War world institutions, programs, activities, executive orders, actions, and it, of course, as President Kennedy described it, was a long twilight struggle.  It didn't end with a signing ceremony on the USS Missouri as World War II had.  And there obviously are notable differences between the Cold War and the global struggle that we're engaged in today against violent extremists, but there are also a lot of similarities.


            AGAR:  So it seems like an apropos place to be.


            What did you make of the fact that a pretty major conservative commentator, Bill Buckley, wrote a column just the last few days saying we've lost and we should admit defeat.


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Interesting.  I haven't seen it.  He is a friend, and I've not seen Bill's column to that effect.  I think that time will prove him wrong.


            AGAR:  You're still confident?


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  You know, we look at the violence that's taking place there, and compare it to the United States or to Europe or something, kind of ignoring the fact that there are thousands and thousands and thousands of people killed in the United States of America every year in homicides; ignoring the fact that there were hundreds of thousands of people put into the mass graves in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's tenure as the dictator of that country.  And while violence is always stunning and shocking and heartbreaking to see innocent people killed, the reality is that that's been a violent part of the world for a good long time and what we're seeing there now is a conscious effort by the terrorists and the insurgents to incite a civil war and sectarian strife.  Those same people tried to stop the election last January 15th and they failed.  They tried to stop the drafting of a constitution and they failed.  They tried to stop the referendum on the constitution last October 15th and they failed.  They tried to stop the election December 15th and they failed.  Twelve million Iraqis went out and voted notwithstanding the violence, notwithstanding the threats and the intimidation.  Now they're trying to stop the formation of a new government.  I think they're going to fail again.


            AGAR:  And will they fail in their effort to get a full-blown civil war going?


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  I think so.  I do indeed.  I think the people there have so much to lose if they allow that to happen.


            AGAR:  Last week America's Ambassador to Iraq warned the Iraqi government that we as the United States are not going to invest resources of the American people to build forces run by people who are sectarian.  Were you in on that pronouncement?  What do you make of it?


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  We've always believed that for that country to succeed they need to have a government that is representative of all the elements in the country.  People have to have confidence that a piece of paper, a constitution, will protect them from their enemies in that country and they have to see that the police forces and the military forces, the Minister of Defense and the Ministry of Interior's forces are a mixture of people from all segments of the society so that they can have confidence that they will not be used the way Saddam Hussein's army was and the way his police were used, to namely go in and arrest people and throw them into the jails and kill them.


            AGAR:  How are we doing in terms of aiding them, and how are they doing themselves in building up that police force and their military?


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Well, we've made enormous progress with the military, the Ministry of Defense forces, the Department of Defense has been responsible for those for a couple of years now and made excellent progress.  I'm told by General Casey yesterday morning in a conference call I had with him that the Ministry of Defense forces have conducted themselves exceedingly well during this period since the bombing of the Golden Dome Shrine.


            The police forces are not as well developed and not as far along.  The Department of Defense just took them over three or four months ago and assumed the responsibility for their training and equipping. But between the two they now number over 230,000 security forces and they are performing a major portion of the security in the country so the progress has been excellent.


            AGAR:  Not too long ago, a little less than two weeks ago, a committee from the United Nations put out a report on Guantanamo Bay.  They still accuse us of atrocities there and their main recommendation was we shut it down as soon as possible.  How are you reacting to that?


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  It's unfortunate that people read that and assumed it was from the United Nations.  I'm told that it was not.  That there were some rapporteurs who are connected to the United Nations, but that the report was not an official presentation by the United Nations.


            A second fact is, none of the people who participated in writing the report have ever been to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


            AGAR:  Right.


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Third, I'm told that they got much of their information from the lawyers for prisoners that are being held down in Guantanamo Bay and of course we know what those prisoners were taught under the Manchester document.  They're taught to lie, they're taught to allege that they have been tortured, and that's part of the training that they received.


            We know that torture is not occurring there.  We know that for a fact.  We have enormously responsible people who are managing that situation.  Literally hundreds of Members of the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, their staff members, journalists by the hundreds have been down there and seen the place.  The International Committee of the Red Cross was in residence there for a period of years.  They visited continuously. We see nothing, absolutely nothing from all of those various people who visit Guantanamo that even begins to represent the kind of information that these two or three rapporteurs who have never visited the place put out.


            Of course you read it and you then asked questions about it and it gets currency.  The fact of the matter is, go back to the time when there was an allegation in I think Newsweek Magazine that they had flushed a Koran down a toilet in Guantanamo Bay.  The lie circulated around the globe and there were riots in Pakistan, people were killed, and by the time we investigated it, it turned out it never happened, it was totally inaccurate.


            The reality is that the terrorists have media committees. They are getting very clever at manipulating the media in the United States and in the capitals of the world.  They know for a fact they can't win a single battle on the battlefields in the Middle East. They know the only place they can win a battle is in the capitol in Washington, D.C. by having the United States lose its will, so they consciously manipulate the media here to achieve their ends, and they're very good at it.


            AGAR:  Is Guantanamo Bay for us just a prison for people we've captured, or are we getting information from these people?


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Absolutely the latter.  We're certainly getting information from them.


            AGAR:  I have the opportunity to go down there in a week and a half.  What would you tell me to look for there?


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  I'm not going to tell you to look for anything.  Just keep your eyes open, talk to everyone you can, and come back and tell the truth.  You're not going to find anything like those folks are reporting from those detainees who were trained to lie.


            AGAR:  I do want to back to Iraq.  I'm appealing to you here.  I appreciate your time, and welcome to Kansas City.


            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Thank you.  I'm glad to be here.  This Truman Library is something that I hope lots of folks will come and visit.  It's impressive and it was such an enormously important part of our post-World War II history.


            AGAR:  Thank you, sir.

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