United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

Transcript


Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with CBS Early Show

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
September 18, 2001

Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2001 - 7:06 a.m. EDT

(Interview with Bryant Gumbel, CBS-TV Early Show)

Gumbel: The nature and timetable of the U.S. response is, of course, still being planned. Donald Rumsfeld is the administration's secretary of Defense. He's in Washington.

Mr. Secretary, good morning.

Rumsfeld: Good morning.

Gumbel: I don't know if you just heard Richard Roth's report from Pakistan, but he noted that the foreign minister, while reiterating his pledge of support, says the U.S. could help its case by releasing evidence to convince skeptics of bin Laden's involvement. Does that make sense to you?

Rumsfeld: Well, let me say two things about that. First, the United States is approaching this in a measured and steady manner. We are gathering all the information that's appropriate and we are beginning the process of following the president's instructions, which are really literally the only way to deal with a problem of terrorism like this, which is a worldwide problem, and that is to go after terrorism at its roots.

That means to deal with terrorists and deal with the countries that harbor terrorists. You have to do that, because there's no way to defend in a free society. Terrorism strikes at what we are. We are a free people. That's what we as a people are. And terrorism tries to deny that freedom.

Now, does it make sense to begin releasing intelligence information? Of course not.

Gumbel: Pakistan right now is, as you know, trying to convince -- the world is trying to convince the Taliban leaders in Afghanistan to surrender bin Laden. Could all conflict be avoided, or does it go deeper than that, if they surrendered bin Laden?

Rumsfeld: Yes, bin Laden is one person who is unambiguously a terrorist. The Al Qaeda network is a broad, multi-headed organization. If bin Laden were not there, the organization would continue doing what it's been doing. So clearly the problem is much bigger than bin Laden.

Gumbel: So what, then, is the motive for the Taliban to extradite bin Laden?

Rumsfeld: Well, clearly you begin on a journey with one step, and he would be one step.

Gumbel: Mr. Secretary, you have said, in talking about this war, that it'll be a war fought in the shadows. Could you expand on that for me? What does, to your mind, "in the shadows" mean?

Rumsfeld: Well, this is a -- this 21st century phenomenon is so different for the United States. We're used to dealing with armies and navies and air forces, with ships and guns and planes. In this instance, the terrorist organizations don't have those kinds of capabilities. They have a very different kind of capability. They're determined. They are patient. They are well-financed.

They are functioning all across the globe. They're not just in Afghanistan. They're in -- just this one organization, Al Qaeda, is probably in 50 or 60 different countries, including the United States of America. They don't have high-value targets that we can go after. So what we have to do is to recognize what they are and deal with them as they are.

Gumbel: So as we prepare to fight this war, what is it we should be prepared for?

Rumsfeld: Well, we certainly can expect that there will continue to be terrorist acts. They have publicly stated that they intend to do that. We also have to find ways to deal with that network. And one of the ways to deal with that network is to drain the swamp. These terrorists don't function in a vacuum. They function in a country. And countries foster and facilitate and tolerate their behavior, and that's got to stop.

Gumbel: Mr. Secretary, final note. As you continue to make your preparations, are you feeling any pressure to act soon while emotions are still running high?

Rumsfeld: You know, there is a quiet anger in this country, but the country is unified and the Congress is unified. And indeed, the world community is increasingly unified. And I think what the pressure to do is to do what's right, to root out terrorism at its source and to do it in a measured and purposeful and steady way.

Gumbel: Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Mr. Secretary, thank you, sir; appreciate it.

Rumsfeld: Thank you.