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Secretary Rumsfeld Stakeout following NBC Meet the Press

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
March 23, 2003

Q: There seems to a problem with your targeting in be involved in the bombing of [inaudible] Baghdad. [Inaudible] Iraqi military leaders?

Rumsfeld: No. Any discussions that are going on tend to be with field commanders and there is no pause. The plan is going forward and targets will be hit at times of our choosing.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you also seem to be in [inaudible].

Rumsfeld: They are going along very well and some units have surrendered.

Q: Iraq says they have POWs. Do you think they really do? And my second question is --

Rumsfeld: We don't know.

Q: And has there been any agreement between the DoD and the U.S. media not to show Iraqi casualties? Because Iraq claims there have been 77 in Basra, so do you think there has been any agreement despite their attitudes?

Secretary Rumsfeld: I don't know what you're talking about.

Q: The negotiations with Turkey and the possibility of allowing their troops into Iraq?

Rumsfeld: We've made no arrangements with Turkey for their troops to go into Iraq.

Q: [Multiple questions]

Rumsfeld: Folks, wait a minute. We can do this for a minute or two but I cannot listen to 16 people at once and you have to show each other a little courtesy.

Q: To the Turkish invasion to Northern Iraq. The German government threatened the Turks with [inaudible] Pershing II missile crews if Turkey invades Northern Iraq. Was this diplomatic step a severe help for the American cause? What do you think about the [inaudible] announcement to threaten Turkey?

Rumsfeld: I've not seen the announcement.

Q: [inaudible]

Rumsfeld: It appears, there's an investigation underway and it appears that there may have been a Patriot battery that struck a U.K. aircraft. For whatever reason, the Identification of Friend or Foe communication connection was not made if that's the case.

We don't know the facts. The facts are being investigated. We will know ground truth at some point.

Q: It's reported the al Qaeda bio/chemical weapons programs much more advanced including [inaudible] cyanide and [inaudible]. Can you comment on this or what steps have been taken?

Rumsfeld: There is a good deal of intelligence about the al Qaeda involvement with various types of poisons, toxins and chemicals. We hear it from others for the most part and we have not, the campaign has been going on for seven hours. At some point in the period ahead one would hope that we'd be able to have forces in places that they'll be able to know of certain knowledge what in fact the al Qaeda has been up to in Iraq.

Q: Mr. Secretary, can I ask one more question about western Iraq.

Rumsfeld: You win, you win - this is the last question.

Q: Can you just confirm for us that have coalition troops taken over the areas in western Iraq from where Iraq can fire SCUD missiles to Israel?

Secretary Rumsfeld: We have a good many forces in the west and they are ranging across the entire western portion of Iraq. You never can be certain, but the hope and the prayer is that we will have successfully prevented the firing of any ballistic missiles from that portion of Iraq that could strike neighboring countries.

I'm going. Thank you very much.