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Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with Group of Reporters

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
July 13, 2001

Wednesday, July 11, 2001

(Interview at the Pentagon with a group of reporters.)

Rumsfeld: We had the chief and the chairman and the vice-chairman and the under secretaries and went, I guess about an hour and a half, two hours. Of course in the private sector you have a full range of things you can do to attract and retain, and because it's a market-oriented system that you need to get all different types of people and you need to keep them for different types of functions, and you need to keep them for different periods, and they all have varying interests as to what appeals to them and attracts them, or retains them.

Of course in this institution we don't have control over the civilian population, 600,000, they're with the Office of Personnel Management. And the military side, we've got a great many rules and requirements that don't allow you to have the flexibility that you need.

David...I forget what they call those little things, IPTs or something, task forces or groups that the QDR has broken themselves into. His task force is wrestling with all of that. My guess is where it will come out is, we'll end up with some decisions shoved up to this group that meets in here every day, and then some will be recommendations for follow on, things that need to be done or analyzed, and we're going to probably have to go outside to get some analytical work done.

There's a good deal of information on the military people. There's practically no information on the civilian side. There just isn't any data. What brings them in? What's the number? A couple of weeks ago I was told the size of the fraction of the civilian manpower, civilian workforce for the Pentagon is eligible to retire in the next few years.

Q: Just walk around the building. (Laughter)

Rumsfeld: You leave me alone.

Q: By the way, happy birthday.

Rumsfeld: Thank you very much.

Q: It was Monday.

Rumsfeld: My wife threw a surprise party, the dear thing.

Q: So July 9th?

Rumsfeld: Yeah. She had a surprise party, and some friends came from high school and college, we had a nice time. Not a big group, but it was good fun. Someone said to me about birthdays at my age -- it's like golf. You don't keep score, you just keep swinging.

Q: They had a correction about you on NPR because they apparently said you were the oldest person to be named secretary of Defense, and then somebody wrote in to say that Weinberger was older when he left.

Rumsfeld: Is he the one that was older?

Q: But not when he took the job. So they stuck by it and said you were the oldest to be named secretary of Defense.

Rumsfeld: What about Clark Clifford?

Q: I think Henry O. Simpson was older when he was named as well.

Q: Only Tom Ricks would know that.

Rumsfeld: I never bothered to look. It's not an honor that I sought. (Laughter) It doesn't say I was the oldest, it says I was the youngest, I think.

Q: If you stick around long enough, though.

Rumsfeld: Right, there you go.

But the meetings are very interesting. Now the problem we've got is you've got these six, seven task forces.

Q: Do you get the feeling there's too many civilians working at the Pentagon?

Rumsfeld: No. That issue never even came up.

Q: There has been some reporting that to be able to pay for modernization and all the things you want to do in the force that you may have to reduce the force structure. You've seen those reports.

Is that under consideration?

Rumsfeld: That group I think reports Monday. Maybe it reports Thursday or Friday. It's General Carlson's heading up I think the one on force structure, and I think he reports this week.

Q: I was just wondering if there was any similar thought to reducing the size of the civilian...

Rumsfeld: No. The only point that's been made to me thus far about the civilian force is A, you have practically no control over what you do with it because it's all separate over at the Office of Personnel Management, OPM. And second, that because of the large number of people that you don't know what they're going to do, but they have the option of retiring in a very short period of years, that it gives you an opportunity to make some judgments about how that force ought to be arranged and focused which you wouldn't have because you have so little control over them, except for the fact that so many very likely will be leaving during a relatively short time.

Q: In other words you wouldn't have to replace these people if you didn't want to.

Rumsfeld: Or if you did, you might replace them in different ways for different functions.

Q: But they're going away so...

Rumsfeld: We don't know that. They have the option.

Q: Right.

Rumsfeld: I don't know if any of you know David Chu. He was Dick Cheney's PA&E. He is really marvelous and knowledgeable and has spent so much of his life thinking about these things. And he's got a very well ordered mind and a disciplined mind, and the fellow that was his deputy, they haven't been here but 15 minutes, Charles Abell, who came off the Hill, who also knows this stuff like the back of his hand.

Q: Pardon me. I don't know that number, the percentage that is nearing retirement.

Rumsfeld: Well, I don't want to say, but my recollection is it's like 40. But you better check that.

Q: When you say nearing retirement, how long is that?

Rumsfeld: I don't know. It is not age, it is, maybe years of service. I don't think you can have an age, I don't know that. But there's a number of people who will be moving into the point where it's advantageous to them, or they have the option to retire within a five year period I think is the window that I've seen characterized. And it is a very high percentage in a very short period of years on a very big workforce. If you think of 600,000-plus human beings, and in a five-year period, if those numbers are right, I'm doing it purely from memory, that something like 40 percent of them could retire. Even if some non-trivial fraction of them did, that's a lot of people. It could be a big minus as well.

Q: Would that also be an opportunity to attrit the size of the force?

Rumsfeld: Or change the mix or do whatever you wanted, because it's an opportunity that doesn't come along every year. It's also obviously an opportunity to change the age mix and with the age mix maybe the interest and capability mix. Fuel mix. That's the word I was looking for.

But it was a very interesting meeting, but I started to say we've got these six or seven task forces that are worrying these things through now, and they're going to have to start getting pulled through a needle head in a short period. And very likely, from everything I can tell, I was visiting with one of the vice chiefs who's been in all the meetings the other day, and asked him what he thought. He said he thinks that the military is very comfortable with what's going on [with respect to that], however, they're very comfortable with analysis and analytical work and data to support conclusions. And that there are pieces of this that there simply is not going to be time between now and August to get the analytical work, and what we're going to have to try to do is, in one case David Chu, I said how long will it take you to get it? He said probably two years to really get the analysis that would be necessary to support a significant adjustment in how you were doing things. In some cases it's two weeks. But then it's also in between.

The vice chief was saying, he said we've simply got to find a way to take what we can do and... Part of it we'll know the answer to and can make decisions because we'll have sufficient analytical information. Part of it we can get it in a short period of time and do it in the course of the '03 build budget. But part of it we're going to have to just simply say it's not possible, here are the issues, try and make decisions in the '03 budget that reflect the absence of knowledge and put a fuse on it for six months or 12 months or in the case of the one, David thinks could take a year or two, and do it in that way, which is not surprising. That's a fairly normal way of doing things. But it looks like that's where it's going to be.

Q: I'm a little puzzled. What does all this have to do with Chandra Levy? (Laughter) I don't see the connection.

Q: This is a one-story town. (Laughter)

(Multiple voices)

Q: Can I ask about missile defense since we have this test coming up and there's been a lot of, a lot of the critics of missile defense have been whining about this idea of building a test facility in Alaska, and they've been complaining that it's just a back door way to start deploying missile defenses and breaking the ABM Treaty before you even have any results that show that this capability really can work.

Do you have a secret plan to put an operational system in Alaska? Can you just tell us what the story is there?

Rumsfeld: I know it's hard to believe but I don't have a secret plan for anything. I just don't.

The fact is that I was engaged in a discussion with Carl Levin and it turned out that General Kadish had briefed him on something before he briefed me on the same thing.

Q: I remember him asking about that at the hearing.

Rumsfeld: It didn't bother me a bit. There's so much going on in this place, it's so big, and there are so many decisions being made, and there are so many people engaged in useful work that that's inevitable. But I think since that hearing I have had a briefing from General Kadish and am up to speed, pretty much up to speed. We've not quite come to closure on all of it, but the short answer is no. I am A, fully aware that it would be foolish to try to have a secret plan to do anything, even if I were smart enough to want to have a secret plan.

We've got this process in the hands of people who are smart, who know how to do it, who are working the problem. And with respect to the treaty, as I said to the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, my attitude about it is that we don't have any desire at all to be clever or to stretch the meaning of the treaty or something like that.

Why would we want to be accused by -- even if it's one lawyer out of four -- of doing something that is amiss? That isn't the way this institution ought to function. We ought not to be accused of doing things that are not legal or...

Q: Maybe I haven't asked this very artfully. Let me get specific.

Are you in fact going to build a test facility in Alaska? And is it possible that then could become an actual deployed missile defense site as you spoke about when you were in Europe, about deploying technology as soon as it's available and not necessarily waiting until the end of the process?

Rumsfeld: Can I have a piece of paper? Let me... I know this isn't handy for sound bytes, but let me take a piece at a time.

There's a question of deploying. We have no plans at the present time to deploy in the meaning of the word. There was a plan to deploy a site, as I understand it... I shouldn't even say that.

The prior administration had plans to put interceptors and a new radar in Alaska. And I believe they characterized that as a deployment, although I don't know.

Q: They decided not to do that.

Rumsfeld: Okay.

And the stage we are in is not in deploying anything. It is in doing research, development and testing.

To do that, the first thing you have to do is give notice to Congress that in 30 days you might let a contract. That's kind of an early signal of something happening.

The next thing you do is you let a contract, and then there's time that passes.

The next thing that happens is you may take down some trees, burned trees I understand are up there, to clear a site.

The next thing one might do is to begin to put an interceptor in a hole, or prepare the ground for upgrading the, I guess it's called the Cobra Dane radar that's up there, or begin preparing a site to deploy, not to deploy, to put up a different radar, which is what the prior administration proposed.

Now there are lawyers who would say that if you, not if you notify you're going to let a contract, and not if you let a contract, but if you in the few weeks that you can do anything up there, if you clear the trees that's not a problem, most lawyers would say -- I think all.

When you do something other than clear the trees, that is to say you put in a rail for a radar, a new radar, someone could make the case that that is the beginning of deployment.

Now if it is a test as opposed to a prototype or a useable, something that could conceivably, ultimately be used as a radar in a missile defense system, someone could say that that is outside the treaty.

Now our intention is to not go outside the treaty. We've been working on some testimony that Paul Wolfowitz is going to be delivering tomorrow, I think, and it's very good. It goes into all of this. It has a series of Q&As, I guess not Q&As, they're things like that. It says what about the idea of deploying as quickly as possible or something, what does this mean? We tried to get a lot of those things up, and it's going to be I think very good testimony.

Go to the question of deploy as quickly as possible. Clearly the president has said he intends to have missile defense and he would like to deploy when it was ready to deploy. He's not rushing to deploy something that's not ready to deploy.

The issue has been raised, well, would you deploy something that didn't work? Of course the answer is nothing works perfectly. And we don't have a single weapon system that works 100 percent of the time. The difference in lives saved if you get a reasonably high percentage of success in the event of an attack is obviously worth a lot. So the answer is, you bet. Like most cars, airplanes and weapons that we have, you would very likely come to some point that you would be willing to deploy even though it didn't do 100 percent of what one would like in a perfect world.

The other complication is, let's say you had a test site, and the question is, would you deploy it before it was ready to be deployed, quote/unquote. The answer is you might, because in Kosovo and in the Gulf War there were any number of weapon systems that were in the RDT&E stage that were seized out of that and used successfully in the conflict.

If you had a test site and if there were some incidents that gave rise to a period of tension and the risk of a ballistic missile from a hostile power, it would be unreasonable to think that you might not try at least to use something that had not reached the deployment stage, just as has been done repeatedly throughout the history of our country.

The bottom line is that the treaty is designed to not have ballistic missile defenses, and the president has decided he wants to have ballistic missile defenses, and we are proceeding on an R&D effort to get it to the point where we can have ballistic missile defense -- theater and national.

Q: There's a press report just this evening out of the State Department that a memo has gone up to all U.S. embassies, sort of a talking point on missile defense. And one of the points that it makes is that the U.S. will do a non-ABM compliant test within months, not years.

Rumsfeld: That is the phraseology that everyone's always used.

Q: Months, not years?

Rumsfeld: Oh, yeah. I think that's in Paul's testimony. That's a repeat of what has always been said. That's nothing new.

We don't have anything there, and the question is how many months.

Q: Is there something there, or...

Rumsfeld: No, no. There's nothing new on that.

Q: Can I ask you to just clarify something, though. When you say it's our intention, I'm just thinking, not to go outside the treaty, but clearly a deployment of ten missiles with the stated intention that you might use them is outside the treaty as it currently exists.

So at what point in your mind is this test facility outside the treaty? Because you are going to go outside the treaty.

Rumsfeld: Well, we've always said we intend to have missile defense which means you're going to go outside the treaty. But we intend not to go outside the treaty because the president has indicated that he wants to establish some understandings with Russia that would move us beyond the treaty and not put us in violation of the treaty which he has no intention of doing.

Obviously your first choice would be to do that in a mutual way and that's why he's met with Mr. Putin, that's why he's meeting with him again this month. That's why he had me meet with Minister of Defense Ivanov and why Secretary Powell's met with his counterpart, and why we plan to have some additional meetings during the rest of this year.

Q: What point is this outside the treaty, or beyond the treaty.

Rumsfeld: We don't want to be accused of being close to being out because someone can then say you're out.

So that means what we're going to have to is obviously watch what we are doing so that we aren't violating the treaty, and proceed apace with the Russians in a manner that ends up preferably mutually agreeing to an approach that would set aside the treaty or put us beyond the treaty with some understandings as to what we're going to do and some new framework that makes sense from our standpoint and their standpoint.

Q: What reaction has the U.S. gotten so far from the Russian and the European allies about this test facility concept and putting ten missiles in the ground?

Rumsfeld: We have not put ten missiles in the ground.

Q: The concept...

Rumsfeld: Oh, the concept. That's the old concept from the previous administration except they were going to put 100 missiles in, as I recall.

Q: Yes, but they were going to make a deployment decision. I guess what I'm really trying to figure out is what reaction you've gotten from the Russians and the allies about this concept of a potential early ten-missile deployment for a test facility, but reserving the right to use these ten missiles in the event of a contingency. What are the Russians and the allies telling you about? What are their thoughts, their reactions back to you on this?

Rumsfeld: I don't think that anyone's focused on that particular little bitty piece of it all.

In the first place, if you think about it, the relationship between the United States and Russia is political, it's economic, it's secure. It is a piece of the security, but in the total context of the relationship which is what is going to be under discussion. You see, it's the whole relationship, not missile defense or ABM Treaty.

I don't think anyone's got any lack of clarity as to, in terms of Europe or Russia, as to what we've got in mind. We've got in mind having missile defense. We're not at the point of deploying, and we are at a point of trying to sort through with Russia a framework that will enable us to do that in a way that is perfectly consistent with our relationship.

Q: How far can you go with this test facility plan before you have to have an understanding with the Russians about it? How far can you go? Can you put a missile in the ground?

Rumsfeld: I don't know. I think you probably could if you wanted to characterize it as a test facility, which it would be. And I think most lawyers would agree with that. But as I say, our goal is not to get into that. We're not going to get into a lawyer's debate over if you might use it, might it not? Might more of the lawyers go to the other side if you think you might use it in a crisis that doesn't exist hypothetically? I mean that's just chasing your tail.

We want to sit down with the Russians and sort through this in a way that's rational and professional, and we don't intend to violate the treaty. And when I say that, I suspect I'm right. I don't think you'll find we have, will or even might. I think that this person does not like to go right up to the edge of the line and allow people to point a finger at you and say gee, look what you've done.

Q: But if you've reached... For some reason despite all the good faith diplomatic efforts you reach no understanding with the Russians, there will come a point where you... You could withdraw from it.

Rumsfeld: You could withdraw from the treaty. So they know that, we know that, but our hope is that we'll find a way to make sure...

Q: Can I ask about the test facility? I'm not an arms control expert but since I came over here I talked to one. He said the appendix to the ABM Treaty virtually says that you are limited to the two test spots in White Sands and Grand Forks.

Rumsfeld: Uh huh.

Q: You put a test facility in Alaska, and he said the moment it becomes recognizably an ABM test facility it is non-treaty compliant.

It seems to me that if you're going to notify within a month or so that, even (inaudible) plan to begin construction, that you are writing the theme for non-compliance. It's seeks or months...

Rumsfeld: Oh, no.

Q: ...from the Russians saying that we don't agree with you on this.

Rumsfeld: Well, there are going to be a series of meetings with the Russians. The president's got one meeting coming up in Genoa. He's got a meeting, if I'm not mistaken, in Genoa, he's got a meeting in Crawford, Texas, all in the next several months. He's asked me and Minister Ivanov to meet, and Minister Ivanov has agreed. At some point we'll be working out our calendars. Secretary Powell is going to be meeting with the other Ivanov, the foreign minister, probably in Genoa when he travels with the president.

I tried to explain, the notification to Congress 30 days before you let a contract, is not a violation of anything.

The letting of a contract is not a violation of anything.

The cutting down of trees and site preparation is not a violation of anything. There's only several months that you can do anything in Alaska, I'm told. I haven't been to Shemya.

Q: When would work start clearing the trees?

Rumsfeld: I suppose it could be in the window this summer, late summer I think it is, that you're allowed, that the climate permits you to do anything like that.

Q: But no laying of rails or whatever that next physical act?

Rumsfeld: That's the question. Whatever that act is that conceivably... This is what, July. And if you're talking about down the road clearing trees in whenever it is, May, June, July August, whenever the heck it is, that's a long way off.

Q: You're talking about next summer.

Rumsfeld: Yeah.

Q: You've missed the window this summer.

Rumsfeld: In terms of doing anything that's treaty, that rational people would say is a violation of the treaty. We're not going to...

Q: So construction would not be until next summer.

Rumsfeld: We don't even know if there will be. We're talking about letting a contract.

Q: Who's talking about letting a contract?

Rumsfeld: Kadish. He's got 15 things he's doing. Whole different sets of areas.

Q: Knock down the trees, the burned trees this summer...

Rumsfeld: We're all off on the wrong wicket on this discussion.

Excuse me, I should let you ask... Go ahead.

Q: That's okay. I'm just curious to clarify, you'd knock down the trees this summer, but that would be it, the burned trees that you were talking about earlier.

Q: At Greely.

Rumsfeld: I can assure you that if the United States of America intended to do something that would violate the treaty in July or August or September of this year, I would know about it. (Laughter)

Q: So are you going to knock down the trees? That's a question. Are you going to knock down the trees?

Rumsfeld: That would not be a violation of the treaty.

Q: And do you intend to knock down the trees this summer?

Rumsfeld: You'd have to ask Kadish.

Q: Okay.

Rumsfeld: So we are not going to do anything...

Q: Right, I understand.

Rumsfeld: I've said it so many times, and it's hard to... I don't know if people are looking for us to make a mistake and break the treaty by accident, or through waivers.

Q: My question is...

Rumsfeld: Or inadvertently.

Q: It sends a signal that you guys are really serious and you're moving...

Rumsfeld: No, that's not it at all.

Q: So why do you need a test site in Alaska? Why are you moving in that direction? It appears to be that that puts you a step closer to actually fielding something.

Rumsfeld: Let me go back to this and nail it, and I'll come back to that in one minute.

We have no intention of breaking the treaty. Trust me.

Q: Verify it. Colin Powell.

Rumsfeld: Verify it, you're right. It was Jimmy Carter who said trust me. We're not going to do that.

If for some reason there's no other way to work it out, obviously you would use the treaty itself and initiate the process of withdrawal from it so that you were able to do whatever you thought you needed to do at some point.

Q: You'd withdraw but not break, that's what you're saying.

Rumsfeld: The president said he wants to have ballistic missile defense. The treaty prohibits ballistic missile defense.

Q: If you can't reach an agreement with the Russians you'll withdraw.

Rumsfeld: We'd have to. We have no other choice.

Q: I don't understand the difference between that and breaking the treaty.

Rumsfeld: Oh, I see your point. Maybe it's my language that's imperfect.

Q: You're going to get out of the treaty, no matter what.

Rumsfeld: No.

(Multiple voices)

Rumsfeld: ...six months notice and you can do that.

Q: I understand, but the effect is the same.

Rumsfeld: No, I don't think so at all. I think it's not good for the United States to be accused of breaking a treaty, of violating a treaty, of doing something that is inconsistent with the provisions that you signed and the Senate ratified. I don't think they're the same at all.

Q: Okay.

Rumsfeld: Now we have no intention of doing either one, to be perfectly honest. We have every intention of working out an arrangement with the Russians, and I think we will.

Q: What are you prepared to offer the Russians to reach this mutually agreeable path to missile defense?

Rumsfeld: I don't know that you offer people anything in a negotiation like that. We don't feel like we have to offer anything and I don't think they feel like they have to offer anything.

What we have is a situation where our two countries have a lot of things that are in common interests. The Russians, if they look around the world, see a number of economies that are doing well and a number of people that are doing well, and there are certain things that lead to people doing well, and they tend to be freer political systems and free press, and they tend to be freer economic systems. There tends to be a respect for contracts and the rule of law. And to the extent you create an environment that's hospitable to investment, investors come in. And they come in, they're not going to come in from Cuba and they're not going to come in from North Korea, they're going to come in from the West.

And to the extent Russia orients itself to the West, obviously it will benefit in so many ways from that investment and their people will do well.

This is a big country. It's a country that has been characterized in the past as a dictatorship, a communist dictatorship with lots of nuclear weapons. It is today a country that is not a communist dictatorship. It is in transition to something else. They still have a lot of nuclear weapons but they're declining, just as we intend to reduce our numbers of nuclear weapons. And they have a great history of literature. They have some of the finest mathematicians and scientists on the face of the earth. They have no reason in the world they could not be doing things that India and other countries are doing with respect to software capabilities and with the talented workforce and literate workforce that they have.

It isn't any decision the United States government's going to make. It isn't going to come from the IMF or the World Bank or the Export/Import Bank. It's going to come from, the power of private investors is enormous, and their circumstance is going to be determined by how they want to go. And it's frankly very much in their interest to go the way I've just suggested, and it's very much in our interest that they go that way.

It is a very good thing for Western Europe. It's a very good thing for the United States. And it's not a very good thing if they decide to go some other road.

We as a country have a lot that we can be helpful with if that's the way they go. There's not much we can be helpful with if they decide to go some other way. So there's political interests, we have economic interests, and they have a security interest. If they go another way it's going to cost them from a security standpoint. It's going to cost us from a security standpoint and we don't want that. We don't think of them as the enemy, we don't think of them as a conventional threat, we don't think of them as posing a nuclear threat, that they have any, aren't going to gain anything by threatening.

They are a problem from the standpoint of the numbers of things they have that if export controls don't work well and they aren't managed correctly can be damaging to the rest of the world because there's so many things they have that are attractive to other people, and if they're floating around the world we're going to end up with an awful lot more people with technologies that are threatening to the rest of the world, including us.

But I think that that framework that I've just characterized is much bigger than missile defense, and it seems to me that that is the context for our discussion. It certainly was the context for the discussion I had with Mr. Ivanov. It is certainly the discussion that President Bush and President Putin had and they announced after their meeting, and I suspect that it would be that big and that broad as we go forward.

Q: Is it your sense that the Russians have as much heartburn over ABM as critics of missile defense have?

Rumsfeld: You know, there's Russians and there's Russians. I guess it's like there's Americans and Americans.

Q: What about those Russians in charge?

Rumsfeld: Well, I think that time will tell. But my impression is that Mr. Putin, from what I've read of his meeting with President Bush and what he said, and my meetings with Mr. Ivanov, and thinking about it, I think the arguments are so compelling that they and we both benefit if we can find a way to fashion an understanding that makes sense for both of us for the future.

I think they're perfectly capable of thinking fresh and not being constrained by Cold War arrangements that were fundamentally established between two adversary states, one of which doesn't exist anymore.

Q: What about China? When they look at your Pacific-wide test range and X-band radar out in Hawaii or floating around on a ship, aren't they going to say this architecture is aimed right at us?

Rumsfeld: Well, as you know, a defensive system is not aimed at anybody. It's a defensive system. That does not mean that somebody can't say anything they want to say.

There's certainly no Russian who's knowledgeable at all who could suggest that what we're proposing to try to do is any threat to a country with thousands and thousands of nuclear weapons, and they know that.

China's got a different circumstance. China has many fewer. They are adding to them, and they are adding to them quite apart from missile defense. They're doing it because they decided that's what they want to do, and China's China. China's going to do what it wants to do, and it's increasing its defense budget in double digits, has for a number of years. It's working on a whole host of ballistic missiles that they're deploying in waves that are threatening to Taiwan.

I don't think, frankly, that missile defense is going to make one bit of difference to China. They're going to be doing what they're going to be doing anyway. And the only state or entity that could contend that missile defense was threatening to them is a country that has decided that they want to try to intimidate the United States or their neighbors with ballistic missiles.

They therefore would find it disadvantageous that missile defense existed, and muted that threat. It's not threatening. Defenses are not threatening to anyone.

Q: But Mr. Secretary, as you look at the broad array of issues you're working on, the radical transformation you've described, personnel, weapon system, etc., do you feel today that the billions required to research, test, develop and deploy missile defense is worth taking money away from all the other things that this department has to do every day, which most people believe is a more immediate threat to American national security.

Rumsfeld: Well I'm not in a position to have the knowledge that you've expressed in your question that most people think.

Q: Okay, just answer the question...

Rumsfeld: I got the sense. First I want to erode the premise of the question. (Laughter)

Q: Welcome to our world.

(Multiple voices)

Rumsfeld: It looks to me that if... First of all, we've had people killed by ballistic missiles. They threaten our neighbors now. They threaten our deployed forces now. They threaten our allies now. They are growing in numbers across the globe. They are growing in range across the globe, and the lethality of the warheads are growing across the globe.

In terms of the numbers of countries and the stockpiles and the, I don't know quite what the word is, but when I read about what's going on with germ warfare and the biological side of it, the advanced generations of these things and the damage they do is horrendous. And we're spending probably... If you took every conceivable kind of, the PAC-3 and Arrow and every...all across the spectrum of ballistic missile defense, we're probably spending what, two percent of the budget? Two-and-a-half at the most. Two-and-a-half.

We're spending more than that, three, three-and-a-half for terrorism. We're spending some other, we're working on...

Q: DoD, 3.5....

Rumsfeld: What's that? It's administration wide.

Q: Ten or 11, right?

Rumsfeld: We're spending on lots of things one, or two, or three, or four percent of the budget. Cruise missiles are proliferating as well, and in a very worrisome way.

And if you believe as I do that we're unlikely to be attacked on the high seas because of the power of our Navy; and if history, if the past is prologue, why we're unlikely to be surpassed in the air. We haven't had many airplanes shot down in the last period of years by the enemy. Clearly it's the asymmetric threats that are a risk, and they include terrorism, they include cruise missiles, they include ballistic missiles, they include cyber attacks. And if you added up the money we're spending on all of those combined, it is not anything that would give anyone cause to ask the question, it seems to me.

It is probably true that we are, I want to think how I say this. I suspect, I can't prove it. Off the record. [off the record response deleted].

Q: Are we back on the record?

Rumsfeld: Oh, you bet.

Q: Mr. Secretary, I want to go back to the test site. Could you...

Rumsfeld: No.

Q: ...in a little bit more detail what the plan is there? I mean are there going to be... Is the plan to have missiles or ten missiles...

Rumsfeld: The last time I looked the theory was that at some point there would be a test site... This is all a projection. It's not a promise. It may change.

What's going to happen is with all of these things, the dozen or more different activities, we're going to stop some of them. We're going to go forward with some others, and we're going to learn from it. They're not all going to go forward. There isn't any money in there for deployment. There's only money for research and development and testing.

It could change. But is it possible that instead of 100 interceptors up there some day that there would be 10? Yeah. That is part of what they're thinking about.

Q: That would be at Fort Greely and at Kodiak or...

Rumsfeld: No. I don't know. You'd have to ask Kadish or someone. My recollection is that Fort Greely is where the interceptors go and the radar is at Shemya.

Q: Will it be an X-Band radar in Shemya?

Rumsfeld: They haven't decided. Right now they're talking about an upgrade of Cobra Dane.

Q: What about Kodiak?

Rumsfeld: I don't know.

Q: What will be at Kodiak Island?

Rumsfeld: You'd have to ask somebody else.

Q: Can I follow up on Tom's question, on the question of money, I thought Senator Levin's comment yesterday was pretty telling on the more broad picture of money that with a tax surplus, or because of the tax cut the budget surplus being so eaten away, that there wasn't even likely to be money for the $18 billion increase without defense spending, without going into Social Security or Medicare or something like that. The disincentives now looking at passing Defense appropriations probably dead last in this year's budget cycle so that by the time they get to you there isn't anything anyhow.

How do you begin to address this broader money situation this year? What do you do about it?

Rumsfeld: Well, first of all it is I think not only debatable but being debated as to whether or not the 18 fits under the rules, procedures, requirements for all of the lock boxes and everything. I'm not into all that extensively. But Mitch Daniels says it's fine; somebody else says it isn't. Someone's going to have to decide it. My guess is when it's all done we'll find that we get that much. Some people think it's too much, some people think it's too little. As I've said and the chiefs have said, I've never known a secretary of Defense or a chief who didn't want more.

But my guess is you'll find, I could be wrong, but my guess is you'll find that we'll end up with something plus or minus that amount and that will be the case.

Q: You're feeling no pressure from Congress at the moment that there won't be the money available broadly speaking for the increases that you are projecting over the years?

Rumsfeld: I don't know. I'm not an expert on how all this works. All I can say is there is competition... Let me rephrase that.

There are different perspectives among the various committees in the two houses of Congress. The Budget Committee, the Appropriations Committee, the Armed Services Committee. I think it is fairly broadly agreed that this is a large increase of seven percent -- the biggest since 1986. I'm told. I've not checked.

It is also broadly agreed that the underfunding that has occurred in the past six or eight years is so substantial and the procurement holiday was so long and the peace dividend went too deep and overshot the mark, that every single cent we've asked for is needed and more.

Q: Do you see any weapons you think you could cut?

Rumsfeld: Oh, there's no doubt in my mind that we'll end up coming out of the budget bill in '03 with some changes in how programs go, whether it's... There's already been an announcement on the B-1.

Q: ...no-brainer is...

Rumsfeld: Well, you've got to put yourself in the position who have something in their district and want to have it there and want to express the fact that they would like to have it there, and they do. That comes as no surprise. This isn't anything new. We've seen this since the beginning of time.

Do I think we'll end up roughly with what we proposed on the B-1 and the Peacekeeper? I do. Is it possible that several things we'll propose won't happen? Sure. Is that why the Constitution divided the power between three branches? Sure. It's the way it works. We don't have to run for cover and say oh my goodness gracious, somebody isn't going to agree with that. I've never seen any proposal where 100 percent of the Senate and 100 percent of the House agreed on it. You don't get up in the morning and expect that.

Q: I'm almost embarrassed to bring up something that's added down at the organizational chart, but it seems to me that what you are trying to do as a department is fascinating, and how you're trying to do it is almost as interesting -- this use of the Service secretaries as an executive committee or whatever you're calling them.

After the fact I realize when Paul and the three of them came down to talk to us two weeks ago, we missed the buck. All the examples that they raised and all that we asked about, what are you guys going to help Rummy decide, we're all business side of the house, we'll finally get housing privatization and... that's important. There's a lot of money and you've made that case.

But we don't have a secretary of Defense to save money. We have a secretary of Defense to decide (inaudible).

Is it your intention to use the Service secretaries as your principal associates in deciding policy as well as business execution?

Rumsfeld: Oh, yeah. They're in every meeting. They sat here all afternoon with the chiefs and sitting side by side.

Q: The 55-year or whatever history of this department is people looking at the thing and deciding the services were a write-off. If you want to integrate things you've got to build this super service organization around the office of the secretary, you let the stovepipes cough stuff up, and then the secretary and the USDs and ASDs... But you've decided to go a different route, and I find that very interesting. Why is this going to be better, and why is it going to work?

Rumsfeld: First of all, I don't know if it's going to work and I don't know if it's going to be better. Having put this plate right up on the table. I don't know any other way to do it. I know that change is so hard that if you don't have people under the umbrella working on it with you and pulling in harness, it ain't going to happen. That is why we spend hour after hour after hour in here with the chiefs and the chairman and the vice-chairman and the Service secretaries and the under secretaries. So that we all know what the other person thinks. We all know what the shortfall is in what we're proposing. It gets chewed up and chopped up and kicked around.

And when we finish if we don't go out with broad agreement as to what the dickens we're doing, we don't have a chance anyway. If you do something, somebody's not going to like it, and in this town somebody on the Hill isn't going to like it. And change is hard. We all know that. The contractor community's not going to like it because that's change.

So if we're going to get anything done, this place has got to be singing off the same sheet music.

Now the other way to do it... I'll tell you one thing I think will come out of all of this. I shouldn't say that. I don't need to set hurdles for myself. Why would I want to do that?

Q: We won't...

Rumsfeld: What the heck. I think that this institution is living in a time where weapons are vastly more powerful than they were previously. And second, where the responsibility of intelligence gathering is so much more challenging than it was previously. Because previously you had to look at one or two places. Now you've got to look at a lot. Previously you could look at one or two places for a long time and get to know them well. Now you're dealing with a lot of different actors with quite different motivations, quite different behavior patterns.

You combine the magnitude of the intelligence task, which means you can't do it. You can't know anywhere near as much about the risks as you did know about the risks in the Cold War. Not because they're not competent, but because the task is so much more challenging.

You take the power of the weapon and the near certainty of "surprise" if you consider it surprise if you're surprised. If you know you could be surprised, it's not surprising. But if you can't get it in your craw that you could be surprised, you'll be surprised.

You couple those things and then you say to yourself how do we organize and arrange ourselves? Well, we do it by Services. How are we doing? Then you say well what's all this talk about jointness, what's all this talk about you should fight the way you train and train the way you fight? If we don't fix that, if we don't get joint, if we don't get arranged so that we can train the way we fight, the way we'll have to fight. And if we don't get arranged in a way that we can be prepared to fight without having to take six months to get ready to do it, or even weeks to get ready to do it, we won't be serving the country well.

We have to get arranged so that we are capable of giving the president pre-conflict options and capabilities. We have to be arranged in a way that we have trained and exercised and organized so that we can respond in a shorter timeframe than six months.

And part of what the Service secretaries working so closely together and part of what the QDR is going to do and part of what we're going to have to do as we go forward, and part of the criteria for who we select for chairman, who we select for chief of staff of the Air Force that's coming up, and who we select for promotion, and the kinds of people we bring into this department, has to be to think about those things and recognize there are risks the country faces if we're inattentive to asymmetrical threats, if we're inattentive to the growing power of those weapons, if we're inattentive to the reality that the intelligence information is a vastly greater challenge than in earlier periods, we've got to keep that front in our mind.

And when I said one of the things we'll accomplish will be that, I shouldn't have said that. I should have said one of the things we'll be trying to achieve will be that.

Q: ...the president's tax cut plan is going to have a direct affect on how much money you will get. Can I ask you, when you get your tax refund check in a couple of months, what are you going to do with it? (Laughter)

Rumsfeld: ...been able to get rid of the last few liquid investments. (Laughter) I've still got a handful.

Q: You still have not (inaudible)...

Rumsfeld: As I think I told you, Andrea, some of those things, I had no idea coming back to government, some of the things I invested in were a thing where I agreed to stick a large amount of money, and they called the first tranche, so they say it's $1 million and you put up $100,000 and they call the rest. So I'd say to my business guy who's helping me try to dump all this stuff, I said give it to our foundation or give it away to the kids or give it to a charity. He said you can't because you've only put in $100,000 and it's a $900,000 debt, so you can't even give it away. It is a catch-22. It is a bloody catch-22. And I've still got several of those sitting around.

Q: My question is...

Rumsfeld: I've gotten some folks to buy some of them, but apparently the ones that we still have...

Q: (inaudible) (Laughter)

Q: My question is, how could a staunch missile defense advocate like yourself be responsible for killing the Safeguard system?

Rumsfeld: Isn't that something.

The Congress mandated that, as I recall. I'd have to go back and look it's been so many years, but my recollection is I just happened to be there.

The other thing I would say is I get credit for being a staunch missile defense advocate. The truth is, I was the chairman of the Ballistic Missile Threat Commission, which looked only at the threat, and I was not expert at all on the ballistic missile defense piece because I'd never been around to be involved in it. I was never part of the big discussions down here and the hair knot, the theological hair knots that everyone's gotten tangled up in on the thing. I really became quite knowledgeable about the threat because I invested a year, year-and-a-half doing not a hell of a lot else, except investing in illiquid... (Laughter)

Q: You mentioned the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Have you come close to picking one? And are you still looking at retired officers?

Rumsfeld: I am not looking at retired officers. You know, you never know when something's close until it's over. But what I did was I fashioned a set of criteria that I believed were what I considered to be the critical things for a person in that post. I consider it a very important decision for me and for the president and for the country. And I have spent an enormous amount of time on it. I brought Admiral Holcomb in to help me out on it, and he's been helping me put some structure and discipline into the process. I've probably talked to 30-35 different people. Some are retired, most are on active duty. Some are civilians, some are in Congress, some are in different places who have reason to have views on this. I've run over a long, long, long list of people with those people and I've kept careful notes, and I've got the notebook and I look at it every night when I go home instead of watching CNN. (Laughter)

Q: Are you looking [to get out of] the Service chiefs and the CINCs the correct one?

Rumsfeld: I did consider some people... I shouldn't say that.

What I did was I freed my mind and I looked at the non-waived first, the ones who don't need a waiver; then I looked at some that would need a waiver; and then I kept talking to people and talking to people and I kept taking people off and I've kind of sifted it down to a handful or so. I've done the same thing with chief of staff of the Air Force.

I had just a wonderful relationship with George Brown when I was here before, and I know how valuable that can be. You're with this person a lot. I mean I must be with Hugh Shelton, gosh, I must be with him, on an average day an hour, hour-and-a-half, two hours, in three or four meetings. We start in the morning, and one thing and another. So you really have to feel good about the person.

Goodness knows, General Shelton has just been terrific, too. He's been an enormous help to me. But I'm working the problem hard.

Q: Who's it going to be? (Laughter)

Rumsfeld: Thank you. It's good to see you all.

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