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Secretary Rumsfeld Editorial Board with the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
February 17, 2004

     Q:  I'll ask you first off as an opener what brings you to Tampa today and if there's something you can say about MacDill and its role in our country's defense system.  We're especially interested in our base here in Tampa.  What brings you to Tampa today?


     Rumsfeld:  Well, I started out this morning in Key West at a Joint Center that we have down there and spent some time with those folks, and came up here to meet with General Brown and his people at the Special Operations Command, and have been here for most of the day.  I periodically visit the major commands.  I'm not going to be visiting CENTCOM today.  I've been here previously.  General Abizaid's out of the United States at the present time.


     But I have no announcements to make on bases or anything like that.  We've got a BRAC underway, as you know.  It's a good thing, it's needed.  Experts estimate that we may have as much as 20-some-odd percent excess base capacity in the United States and the world.  We're looking at our footprint around the world, but it's a process that's established by Congress, statutory.  You're all familiar with them.  We've been through several, I guess, two or three.  I've never been through one before.  It came along after I left the Pentagon 25 years ago.  But it's transparent and people will know what there is to know as we proceed.


     I have a situation where I'm not to discuss anything about it other than the statute until it plays itself out, otherwise I will be involving myself prematurely in the process.  I don't talk about bases.


     Q:  Will you have a role in it, though?


     Rumsfeld:  There is a statutory role for the Secretary of Defense, yeah, and the Congress has a role, the President has a role.  It will be done in a very open, fair, transparent way.


     Q:  I've been wondering if you've given up on your plan early on to modernize the armed forces.  A lot has happened since then.  Is that still on the shelf?


     Rumsfeld:  That's an interesting question.  I thought you were being funny.


     Q:  No, no.


     Rumsfeld:  We not only have not given up, we have done as much in the last three years as I would guess has been done in multiples of that over history.  In fact I can give you --


     The President asked us to get at the task when I first arrived and we were hard at it when September 11th came along.  There were a few people who speculated that you couldn't do both, fight a global war on terror and simultaneously transform the armed forces.  I found just the opposite to be the case.  We have to.  We have to do it.  Not only was it not more difficult, it was probably easier to do it because of September 11th.  That is to say the number of people at multiple layers of our organization saw the need and the urgency of it much more clearly than they would have had September 11th not occurred.


     To staff:  We have, just to give you an example -- there are the initiatives.  Where are the accomplishments?    You don't have it. 


     I'll give you these.  It's an interesting story.  It's not something that people write much about, which is unfortunate.


     We have completed a nuclear posture review and have made significant changes in our nuclear posture around the world in addition to the President announcing that we are heading towards deep reductions of strategic offensive nuclear weapons from many thousands -- down to 1,700 to 2,200.  There have been a number of internal changes as well, as numerical changes.


     We've implemented the recommendations of the Space Commission.  We have restructured the missile defense program, and with the removal of the ABM Treaty we've been able to engage in a variety of research and development activities that enable us to look at a variety of ways to undertake missile defense, which of course is something that is increasingly of interest.


     We have a new defense strategy.  We have a new force-sizing construct.  We have developed a set of techniques as to how we can balance risks.  Normally -- the department was reasonably good at balancing like kinds of risks like, for example, the use of airlift with respect to a Korea contingency versus an Iraq contingency.  You could do that pretty well.  We didn't do very well comparing those things against the risk of not investing in research and development, or not investing sufficiently in the people portion of the department so that you are able to attract and retain the people you need.  We've developed a set of techniques where we think we do a much better job of balancing risks than had been done previously.


      We have made probably more changes in the Unified Command Plan than ever in 30 years, where we've made significant adjustments.  We've merged the Space Command with the Strategic Command.  We've stood up for the first time a Northern Command for homeland security.  We have elevated homeland defense in the Quadrennial Defense Review to a first priority and arranged ourselves so that the Department of Defense, which tended to look out as opposed to in and out, today has the ability to contribute to homeland security in a way that we have not previously been able to do.


     We have made changes in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization by establishing a quick response force for the first time in history, establishing a Transformation Command which didn't exist, so the NATO allies can adjust and transform as we transform and we'll be better able to operate together.


     We've reduced I think from 18 to 11 the headquarters commands of NATO, which is hard enough to do in a single country but to get 19 countries to make changes like that has really been an accomplishment.


     These things are enormously important that I've described.  I could spend a half hour or an hour on each one of them, but together they represent just an enormous amount of change in the department in terms of transformation.


     We've done a lot of things to relieve stress on the force.  We have instituted a series of things to improve the stewardship of taxpayers' dollars.  We have put a high focus on joint concepts of operation and joint training.  If we learned anything in the Iraq war it was that you need to train and exercise the way you're going to fight.  That probably was the first conflict in our country's history where the services did more than simply deconflict one from another.  They actually, the leverage that we achieved because they operated in such close joint methods, the leverage was vastly increased.


     We have been abbreviating, trying to abbreviate, in some cases successfully, in some cases less so, the kind of processes that exist in the Department of Defense, trying to shorten them.  If you take a look at the acquisition process of the Department of Defense, since I was there 25 years ago it's doubled.  It's gone from 10-12, years to 25 years in length.  We've been trying to shorten these things by using, for example, spiral development and not waiting for every new piece of technology that comes along, but just as you have to do in your business, print it.  I know there's more news tomorrow, but print what you've got and go.  We're going to have to do that.  The time is expensive, so we've done a lot of that.


     We're in the process of changing our attaché arrangements around the world.  We have vastly strengthened intelligence in the department by creating an Under Secretary for Intelligence and an Assistant Secretary for Homeland Defense.  That's improved our ability there.


     So we've done just any number of things that have transformed how that department functions and how it interacts with the rest of the government and how it interacts with our allies and friends around the world.


     We've developed a Security Cooperation Plan with other countries and changed our focus so that we have new and different relationships, for example, with the Caucuses and with Central Asia and with India and Pakistan.  I've been working to strengthen alliances in that direction.


     I really did think you were kidding when you said that.  What we've done is so much internal but we've spent so much time on it that I think about it every day.


     Q:  When you first talked about it we applauded you.


     Rumsfeld:  Well you ought to be applauding now because we have really done a lot.


     Q:  It just sort of dropped off our screen.


     Rumsfeld:  I can understand.  Everything else is so much more interesting.  In fact we will get you the correct things.  This unfortunately is not.  The other page will show you the priorities we're working on for this year.


     Q:  Mr. Secretary, a friend of mine's brother was a career Air Force officer, in fact you just visited Yakota, Japan --


     Rumsfeld:  I did.


     Q:  He's concerned about the Air Force being downsized by about 12,000 or 13,000 personnel.  He's wondering if that would lead to troops being deployed longer or more frequently.  Could you answer that?


     Rumsfeld:  Sure I can answer it.  The answer is no.  First of all, I don't know that the Air Force is being downsized.


     Q:  (Inaudible.)


     Rumsfeld:  The Air Force and the Army and the Navy all fluctuate.  We have emergency powers at the present time because of the war on terrorism, and so we allow the services to increase or decrease as their circumstance requires.  The Army has gone up over the past two years at any given moment from 11,000 up to 20,000.  They're now talking about I think going up to a total of about 30,000.


     The Navy actually has declined somewhat.  They have been investing much more in less manpower intensive platforms and have been able to actually significantly increase their capability and their lethality and their time on station with fewer people.  So it varies from service to service.


     But we've got a series of things going on to relieve stress on the force, even though we're at a high operational tempo.  For example we have a new personnel system that ought to enable us to move a relatively large number of positions that are currently occupied by uniformed personnel over to the civilian side.  In the past, because we don't manage our personnel system on the civilian side, it's the Office of Personnel Management that does it, people haven't wanted to use it as much.  So if they needed a job done they'd reach for a uniformed person because they can move them, they can deploy them, they can change them, they can transfer them, they can get him going right away -- him or her.  And as a result, they've kind of stayed away from the civilian side because it's so complex.


     We have people who run shops of 100 or 200 people that may have to manage six different personnel systems.  It's kind of a nightmare for them.


     So we now have, Congress gave us the flexibility.  We're in the process of beginning to use that.  That will allow people to use the civil service properly and not put military people in tasks that can just as easily be done by civilian personnel.


     We're doing a lot of other things.  We find that a major major fraction of all the people in the Guard and Reserve haven't been called up.  Some in 50 years, a lot of them in 10 years, 12 years, 15 years.  On the other hand some people have been called up two, three, four times in the last 10 or 15 years.  The reason is because there's an improper balance as between the active component and the Guard and Reserve.  So our services are well into the process of rebalancing that so that the skill sets that have been overused in the Guard and Reserve will be put on active duty, and skill sets that have been underused will be balanced off.


     Those are just a couple of examples of things we're doing to reduce stress on the force.


     Q:  While we're on that, in Florida I think one of the reasons our Guard has spent so much time overseas was because of special expertise and those abilities you're talking about.  We've seen the different family expectations about what they perceived the role of their soldiers would be.  I've read that you don't sense that there will be any recruitment problems to follow because of that.


     Is that sort of your read?  What's your sense of how much a role they'll continue to play and whether you'll have problems recruiting for reserve forces in the future.


     Rumsfeld:  You always have to worry about it and we do worry about it.  We haven't seen any sign of it at the moment.  The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, none of them have seen any clue that we're going to have a recruiting or retention problem.


     One of the services in one category is soft, but that's the only thing anyone has seen thus far, the services tell me.  Now does that mean it won't happen next month or six months from now?  No, it doesn't.  You have to be ahead of the game just like you do in your business.  We're a volunteer force just like you are.  You have to get up in the morning and know that you've got to do what you have to do to attract and retain the people that you need to put out your papers.  You don't wait until all of a sudden they're all gone and then you're going to have to have a six months startup period.  You've got to be ahead of the curve.  That's what we're doing.


     This is interesting.  This says that only 7.l5 percent of the reserve forces have been mobilized more than once since 1990.  So this discussion -- One of the problems is you'll hear something anecdotally and then it will get printed in the press and it will sound like a horror story.  Somebody had this problem or they were called up three times or something.  So we immediately chase it down and say goodness, what happened.  It turns out that the active and reserve components were just mal-apportioned and we're fixing it and going to get it fixed, and as I say we're well along the way.


     But 92.85 percent have served only one time since 1990.  That's not much.  The people who are in the reserves are in the reserves because they want to be in the reserves.  They're volunteers.   They got up in the morning and said, gee, I want to do that.  So when they get called up, the overwhelming majority of them want to be called up.  They want to be a participant in it.  And they feel it's important and a great many of the people who are "involuntarily activated" are actually voluntarily activated, who prefer to have it be on an involuntary basis for whatever reason.  So they volunteer to do it.


     I think it's actually only 47 people have been activated five times.  And how many of those actually did it voluntarily, I don't know, but I'll guarantee a fairly large number did.  And 488 people -- this is out of hundreds of thousands of people.  Only 37,000 have been mobilized twice since 1990.


     So it is more anecdotes that people are seeing and hearing, I think.


     Q:  Is the length of service a concern?


     Rumsfeld:  No.  It's that people don't use data.  They use anecdotes.  In here you can find some anecdotes that are egregious, that shouldn't have happened, simply because you're managing a large, big organization that wasn't properly balanced as between the Guard and Reserve and the active force in my view.  You're welcome to have a copy of this.


     It is tough.  You've got a big organization and a number of skill sets were purposely put in the Guard and Reserve almost 100 percent at one moment because they didn't want to have to ever get into a -- some people in the military decades ago didn't want to have another Vietnam.  Therefore they said you can't have a war unless you call up the reserves.  If you call up the reserves you've got to have popular support.  Therefore, they put certain things that are required early on in the Guard and Reserve.  Port openers, things like that.


     The other thing that happened, some skill sets like civil affairs, the people in the Guard and Reserve are particularly good at.  They're mayors and they're policemen and they're people who know how to do that so they gravitated that way.


     Q:  Mr. Secretary, let's talk about Iraq a little bit.  I wonder if you can talk about the challenges that you're seeing there right now.  How long you think we're going to be there, what you would say to the families of those who are there now, and how long, what our strategy is maybe for getting out.  And as we've seen these attacks on our military personnel over, as these days go by, what kind of on-the-ground intelligence are you getting in Iraq?  How are you finding the people there to help them, and to thwart these attacks on our people over there?


      Rumsfeld:  I've just been spending much of the day on that subject, on the intelligence piece of it and it is getting better by the week.


     What we've done is we've gone from -- The Iraqi army disappeared.  They were mostly Shia conscripts.  I've read some articles of people saying well we'd have been better off if we'd kept the Iraqi army in place, then they could have been helpful in security.  Of course they didn't exist.  They were gone.  Disappeared.  And went home, didn't want to be there in the first place except for the generals.  I don't know how many generals.  What did they tell me the other day, 16,000?


     Voice:  Over 10,000.


     Rumsfeld:  11,000 generals in the Iraqi army.  They were available.  (Laughter.)  But not the ones we wanted, unfortunately.


     So what we did was we started from scratch.  The police in Iraq were not police that go out and protect and serve like they do in Tampa.  These were folks that went in and arrested people at night and took them down to the prisons and beat them.  So we had to kind of start from scratch.


     We now have over 200,000 Iraqis.  Imagine, 200,000 Iraqis in security activities.  They're in the army, a relatively small number still, thousands; we've got site protection people; we've got civil defense people; we've got police; and we've got border patrol.  The number, the last time I looked, something like 204,000 Iraqis.  As that number's come up our numbers have stayed about the same.  We've come from 150,000 down to about 115,000.  Coalition forces I think are still around 25,000.  So the total number of security forces in the country have been going up.  If you add the Iraqis, they're now the largest partner, almost twice what we've got in there. 


     The total number of security forces are going up in the country every week, ours are staying relatively level at 115,000 plus 25,000 in the coalition, and so the Iraqis as they become a more important element of the security forces, interestingly, are doing a lot of joint patrols with our folks and the coalition folks.  And of course they know the neighborhoods, they know the language, and as a result the intelligence has considerably improved.  It's not surprising that the terrorists are attacking police, Iraqi police.  They killed a number of Iraqi police recently because they're being successful.


     It is a good thing for Iraq that we still have a lot of people standing in line to serve in the Iraqi police and the Iraqi army and what have you.  They are taking on more and more of the security responsibility, and as I say, they're getting killed.  The reality is that they're out in front and doing things.  They're not hiding back in their barracks, they're out serving.  As a result there are increasingly, percentage wise, there's a growing percentage of Iraqis who are losing their lives relative to coalition forces that are losing their lives.


     It is not an easy thing to go from where they were, decades of a vicious dictatorship, and a command economic system where they couldn't do anything they weren't told to do, to a situation where you're looking for entrepreneurial activity and people doing things that nobody is telling them not to do.  It's just quite the reverse.


     They don't have a lot of experience with political compromise.  If you think of your city council here and your state legislature, people talk and debate and discuss and there's a piece of paper that assures them, a constitution, of reasonable security and certain rights and certain protections.


     The army and the police gave them their security in that country, not a piece of paper, not a federal constitution or a state constitution, and they don't have much experience with political compromise.  You can see it.  You can see the debate and discussion as it goes.  It's not as developed as it is here in this country and other countries.


     Now they're going to end up with something that's going to be different than what we have.  I don't know what it will look like, but there are certain red lines.  One is it should be a single country.  Second, it should be a country that's at peace with its neighbors and not have weapons of mass destruction.  It should be a country that gives certain rights to all elements -- women, males, different religious elements in the country.  Beyond that it's kind of up to them how they want to organize it and arrange it but that's what they're in the process of doing.  And of course like any democracy it's kind of noisy and untidy and bumpy and that's what's taking place.


     It's a violent part of the world and my guess is there are going to be people killed there for a while.  That's unfortunate.  I don't know how many people get killed in the major cities of the United States -- hundreds every year in homicides in each of our major cities.  There are very likely to continue to be people killed in Iraq.  It's regrettable but it's human beings doing what human beings unfortunately seem to do from time to time.


     Our task is to keep passing governing responsibility, the political responsibility off to the Iraqis and the security responsibilities off to the Iraqis and to see that they're put on a path that will end up with those characteristics that I just described going forward.  It's not an easy thing to do but that is what everyone is determined to do in the coalition.  As that happens, less and less U.S.  or coalition forces will be involved, security forces, and less and less U.S.  and coalition will be involved in the governance of the country.  At some point sovereignty probably will pass, will move over in pieces, is my guess, as opposed to in one fell swoop.


     Q:  Did you expect it would get better after Saddam was captured and Uday and Kusay?  Did you expect that the attacks on our troops would lessen or that the Iraqi people might help us with the defense?


     Rumsfeld:  I looked at the chart this morning flying in here.  It was something like this.  It was -- Is that about right?


     This is roughly in the Saddam Hussein area so it's down.  In terms of incidents and attacks.  Who knows where it will be in three months?  It could be up.


     The makeup of the problem, if you think about it, is a mixture.  It's former regime elements -- Ba'athists and former intelligence officers from Saddam Hussein's crowd.  Bad people.  People who want to take the country back and put that crowd back in power.  That's one element.


     Another element is the jihadists, the people coming in from neighboring countries.  We keep scooping up them too.  A lot of them, mostly coming in from Syria.  The last batch I looked at this week there were what, a couple of Syrians, and then two or three from several other countries that got arrested or killed.  Then there are criminals.  Saddam Hussein let over 100,000 of these folks out of the jails just before the end of the year, prior to the war.  Some of them are still out there.  There are probably unemployed people who get paid from one of these, so one of the former regime elements or the jihadists, the terrorists, will pay them and they'll give them money to go do something.  So it's a mixture.  It is shifting, the mix is shifting at the present time and my impression, and don't hold me to this because it's a moving target, but my impression is that the former regime elements are less of a problem today and the foreign terrorists are more of a problem today.


     Q:  The borders aren't secure, foreign terrorists are still coming in?


     Rumsfeld:  Absolutely.  The borders of the United States aren't secure.  North or south.  That's reality.  You can't secure those borders.


     My impression is that the Turks do a pretty good job on their border, the Jordanians are doing a pretty good job on their border, the Kuwaitis are doing a pretty good job on their border, the Syrian border is very porous, the Iranian border is quite porous, and other pieces of it are quite open.  Some segments are pretty (Inaudible.).


     Q:  I'd just like to ask about Guantanamo.  The rules for military tribunals have really been set since last May but we haven't seen a single individual come up for a tribunal hearing.  You recently said you're going to be instituting some kind of an annual review process for the prisoners there.  Are those going to be trial-like?  Are people going to be able to confront the evidence against them?  Maybe have some kind of ability to bring witnesses or have testimony on their own behalf?


     Rumsfeld:  We can get you a transcript where a lawyer discussed that at some length this week, named Paul Butler.  You can call and have it faxed down today if you want it.


     This is an effort to say let's not make a mistake on these people.  They get reviewed before they were ever sent here, because we didn't want them at GTMO, we didn't even want to capture them.  We let tens of thousands loose who have been scooped up in various raids both in Afghanistan and in Iraq, so the numbers that are kept are quite small, down in the 600-plus in Guantanamo and some thousands still in Iraq.  But the numbers that have been released in Iraq and Afghanistan are many, many multiples of that.  So you don't want them.


     So why do you have them if you don't want them?  The reason you have them is because in a war you want to get people off the battlefield so they don't keep killing your people.  So they get scooped up not because they stole a car or robbed a bank, but because you don't want them on the battlefield killing innocent men, women and children.


     The second reason you want them is again, not to punish them for stealing a car or robbing a bank, but to learn what they know so that you can stop others terrorists from killing innocent men, women and children.


     In that process you end up with people that have, one of them had 13 different aliases, we found, and all kinds of multiple documentation and you don't know who they really are.  Some of them will talk relatively early.  One of them didn't say a word for over a year and then finally started providing information that was quite valuable.     


     We've been trying to give them back to the countries that they came from if the country would agree that they're the kinds of people that ought to be kept off the street, and if they would share intelligence.  We'd rather have their own countries hold them.


     At some point we said what we ought to do is review these people at least once a year and look at them again, fresh, and say how do we feel about that decision that was made earlier, a year ago, or in this case when they were scooped up?  The process will allow for them in one way or another to communicate information that might be helpful in making a reevaluation as to how valuable they really are, number one.  How dangerous are they.  Number two, how much intelligence are we likely to get from them?  Number three, the last choice is prosecution and punishment if you will, and the question is do you have evidence that would work in that kind of an instance.   In the case of some people you do, in the case of other people you simply picked them up on a battlefield so it's not the kind of thing you're going to --


     This has been done in every war in history that I know of.  All the allies did this, kept people off the battlefield until after the war was over.  The distinctive thing here is, when is this war over?  That is a fair question.


      Q:  What is the battlefield?


     Rumsfeld:  In this case, these people were all picked up in Afghanistan or Iraq, and those were clearly battlefields. 


     Lawrence Di Rita [principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs]:  The people in GTMO are Afghanistan?


     Rumsfeld:  No, they were from the Afghan war.  They're not all Afghans.  They're from multiple countries.


     Q:  The Geneva Convention lays out a review process for individuals who have been picked up on a battlefield to determine whether or not they are POWs.  And the presumption under the convention is that individuals picked up are in fact POWs.


     Why have you summarily dismissed the possibility that some of these people should be held under those rules?


      Rumsfeld:  Why would you use the word summarily?


     Q:  Because not a single individual at Guantanamo has received an Article 5 hearing.


     Rumsfeld:  I don't know that that's true.


     Q:  That would be news to me.


     Rumsfeld:  I'm not a lawyer.  What happened was that the White House made a decision that A, they would be treated as -- They were characterized as enemy combatants, I think was the phrase.


     Q:  Right.


     Rumsfeld:  And in fact it was unlawful enemy combatants.  Number one.  Number two they said, however, we will treat them in consistent with the Geneva Convention and they are being treated in a manner that is consistent with the Geneva Convention as though they would be prisoners of war.


     Now as I recall this question has come up before and my recollection is that they need to be, two or three people need to sit down and look and make a judgment.  Is that the tribunal you're referring to?


     Q:  It's a formal process, actually.


     Rumsfeld:  Right.  It's relatively informal but it's a process that's specified, as I understand it.  Clearly this review would be of a kind with that and probably could be characterized as that.


     Q:  But not a single individual at Guantanamo has been now designated as a POW, so --


     Rumsfeld:  No, no.  You're quite right.  They have not.  They have been designated unlawful enemy combatants.


     Q:  So even members of the Taliban who were fighting under that auspice, a government of sorts even if we didn't recognize it, were nonetheless picked up and not given POW status.


     Rumsfeld:  They're being treated as POWs but they have not been given that status.  You're quite right.


     Q:  Automatically when the conflict ends, anyone who's designated a POW would get to go back to their homeland.


     Rumsfeld:  Unless charged.


     Q:  Right, criminally charged.


     Rumsfeld:  Right.


     Q:  Does that also apply to people who are enemy combatants?


     Rumsfeld:  Larry reminds me, the distinction here was that in the Geneva Convention, as I recall now, there were several characteristics that were used as tests as to whether someone was a prisoner of war or an unlawful combatant.  One was did they wear a uniform.  Second was did they have hidden weapons or open weapons?  A third was did they blend in with the civilian community as opposed to stand out in military units.  There was a series of tests.  These people clearly all fit the unlawful combatant, enemy combatant, as opposed to a uniformed military fighting in that kind of an arrangement in the Afghan -- all the Guantanamo Bay people, because that's the way the Taliban and the al Qaeda functioned in that country.  They were not a legitimate military force.


     Di Rita:  We're going to run out of time.  We can provide some additional briefing [information] if it would be helpful to you.


     Q:  Just my last question.  When the conflict is over in Afghanistan will the individuals who are now not POWs but being treated as if they are POWs, will they be sent back to the country if they're not criminally charged?


     Rumsfeld:  I'd love to send them back right now if we could get the Afghans to make some prisons and to have a process that could take them and process them in some way that satisfies them that they weren't threats to the government and to the society.


     I can't answer your question.  The issues get resolved at a Lawyers Committee that then makes recommendations to the President, and all the Department of Defense does is probably, I suppose, provide the security and the location for containing them.  That is what we're doing.  But it is not something that we aspire to do and it's certainly not something we aspire to do for a long period.  You can be sure of that.


     Q:  Could you speak about Haiti and --


     Rumsfeld:  Not really very successfully.  I've been out of touch for three days.  It's a difficult situation.  It has been for decades, and it is certainly unfortunate.  It would be a wonderful thing if there were countries in the region that could work together as we were able to do for example in Liberia with the ECOWAS group, as a holding pattern prior to the time the UN was able to assist.  But it tends to ebb and flow and it's got to be terribly difficult for the people there.  You think of their circumstance and it has to be just heartbreaking for them to see their country which used to be a real tourist opportunity for people from around the world to go there, and you look at the photographs of the streets kind of closed and difficult situation for people.


     Q:  How do you assess the threat of North Korea?


     Rumsfeld:  That's the Korean Peninsula.   There's the demilitarized zone.  The one dot of light -- taking from a satellite at night -- is Pyongyang in the north.


     I had a Korean woman journalist, I'm 70.  She certainly couldn't remember the Korean War.  She maybe was 45, something like that.  She said to me, I was over there and they were just debating whether to send anyone to Iraq, any of their [soldiers] to Iraq.  She said why should we send young Koreans to go halfway around the world to Iraq to get killed or wounded?  I had just seen a friend of mine's name on their memorial board who was killed the last day of the Korean War.  I said the same question we could have asked in the United States.  Why should we send young Americans halfway around the world to Korea to get killed or wounded?  I said there's the answer.  Look out the window, I said to her.


     Here's the same people in the north and the south, they just lowered the height to 4'7" to get in the military because of starvation.  They lowered the weight down below 100 pounds.  Think of it.  Same people.  You look out a window in Seoul, my Lord, it's energy and a vibrant democracy and people with free press and a robust economy selling things all across the globe.  When I was in the pharmaceutical business we had companies there.  When I was in the electronics business we had companies there.  It's just a tragedy, they've got concentration camps with tens of thousands of people penned up, people trying to get out of the country to get into China.  They get on boats and try to get out of this place.  It's just a terrible, terrible human tragedy.


     Q:  What does that picture show you exactly?


     Rumsfeld:  This picture shows that the same people south of the DMZ that have free economic systems and free political systems and that Americans and people from probably 15 different countries went over to help protect and defend against the North Koreans and the Chinese, created something that is helping millions and millions of people to live good, free lives.  And in the north, a vicious dictatorship is preventing the same kinds of people from having the same kinds of success and freedom and prosperity.  It's just a living human tragedy, what's taking place there.


     Q:  And yet the North has a formidable military, doesn't it?


     Rumsfeld:  On paper.  It's large.  They sell weapons all over the world.  Ballistic missile technology, almost anything.  They sell drugs as well, as part of the government.  Counterfeit money they sell.  They have a very large special forces, special operations element, and they appear formidable.  They have spent a fortune tunneling underground.  They clearly have weapons, they've announced they have weapons of mass destruction, but it's hard to know.  It's hard to know.


     Q:  You had a great quote once about things we know we know and things we don't know we don't know.  Could you repeat that?  (Laughter.)


     Rumsfeld:  Anything I've ever said that was great I probably borrowed from someone else so don't attribute it to me, although I suppose I've given it currency.


     There are known knowns, the things we know we know.  There are known unknowns.  Those are the things we know we don't know.  We already know we don't know them.  There are unknown unknowns, and those are things we don't yet know that we don't know.  And that's a fact.  Those exist. 


     The last question was one of those things we don't know for sure.  That's a terrible target for us…


     Di Rita:   An intelligence target.


     That's a closed society, from an intelligence standpoint I mean.  Our intel people have a dickens of a time knowing what's going on in that country.  It is very, very difficult.  So there are a lot of unknown unknowns in there and probably a number of known unknowns as well.


     Q:  What is our strategy about that?


     Rumsfeld:  Diplomatic.  The President is determined to try to get -- We've got Japan and South Korea and China, Russia, all cooperating to try to see if there isn't some way that the pressure of those countries can get that country to behave in a way that's civilized and rational.


     If you think about it, China has -- The military announced they have a nuclear weapon, nuclear material, and China has no interest in having a nuclear Korean Peninsula.  If the country has the kinds of difficulties that some countries can have where the refugees just pour out of it, that doesn't help China.  So China's got a stake in seeing that this comes out right.


     The President has been working with China as well as Japan, which clearly has an interest –- [Goes off the record.]


     [Back on the record.]  And if North Korea misbehaves, continues to misbehave I should say, China has -- And Russia shouldn't want a nuclear Korean Peninsula either.


     That's why the President said my goodness, we ought to have a lot going for us.  Let's get Japan and China and Russia and South Korea all kind of working in the same direction.


     But that is just a terrible picture.


     Q:  How recent is this?


     Rumsfeld:  September 21, '03.


     Q:  Thank you.

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