Q: And welcome back. This is the Steve Gill Show. And a very special guest this morning, Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld who recently -- a couple months ago, I guess -- was with us here in Middle, Tennessee up at Ft. Campbell with about 10,000 of our finest. And Mr. Secretary, as I told them that day when I was speaking to them for a few moments, it is great to see those 10,000 Hooah 101st Airborne warriors in a good mood. I can’t imagine seeing 10,000 of those guys coming at you in a bad mood.
SEC. RUMSFELD: [Laughs] That’s a wonderful thought. Well, you’re right. That was a great day with those troops at Ft. Campbell. They’re doing such a superb job in Iraq and around the world that it was a thrill for me to be there with them.
Q: And as you know on that day, Tennessee Titans Coach Jeff Fisher gave you a football helmet signed by him that said, “You’re our nation’s top defensive coordinator” and “When in doubt, blitz.” It looks to me in Fallujah, like you’ve been following the Jeff Fisher battle plan. Are you going to give him credit for this?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, listen, I should. You know, I hadn’t thought about that, that that helmet’s quite a thing and our folks in Fallujah did a superb job. They’re still doing it as a matter of fact, they’re finishing it up. But they have killed or captured a large number of the extremists who have been killing Iraqi people and trying to attack coalition forces and God bless them for it. They’ve just done a wonderful job.
Q: Some of the toughest warfare imaginable, literally, door-to-door ambushes around every corner, car bombs set up. I know that every casualty, every wound, every killed soldier is anguish to you. But you have to be pleased at the low relative number of casualties with that kind of fighting.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, you’re right. If you think of the difficulty of door-to-door tasks, as they’ve been undertaking in Fallujah, it is dangerous work, but they’re so well-trained and well-equipped and so professional that we’ve been fortunate that the losses have been as low as they have been.
Q: The technology is pretty spectacular as well. I know the heroism of these brave men and women in our armed services is spectacular, but the technology is really a big difference, as well.
SEC. RUMSFELD: It does. It makes a big difference. And goodness knows, the country has willingly invested in a great many advances in technology that have been a big help.
Q: I know that one of your pet projects is “America Supports You”– making sure that our troops get the support from here at home. Tell us a little bit about that, what we can do to help, particularly during the holiday season, as folks want to show their support for our soldiers for the fighting men and women on the front lines, not just in Iraq, but all over the world.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, it is so important that the men and women in uniform who are putting their lives at risk to defend and preserve the freedom of the American people and people around the world, are supported. And the “America Supports You” effort has a site called americasupportsyou.mil – m-i-l. And it offers a whole host of ways that people can very quickly, very easily do something to demonstrate their support for the troops. There are a lot of wonderful ideas and easy ways to do things for people. And we’re focused on the power of saying “thank you” to people. And not just thank you to the troops, but also their families. If you think about it, here we are, we’ve just finished Thanksgiving and we’re moving towards the Christmas season. And it means so much to the families and the loved ones as well as the troops for people to sign on that Web site -- Americasupportsyou.mil -- and just take three minutes to do something that would mean so much to so many.
Q: My father, Secretary Rumsfeld, was in Vietnam in 1968 and ’69. I remember as a sixth-grader, you know, having to go to bed every night, saying goodbye to a picture or goodnight to a picture on your bedside table. The families really have a lot on their plate, particularly again, the emotional concern and worry, and again, everything we can do to help those families. Sometimes the guys that are in the fight, you know, they’re in the middle of the battle and they’re kind of getting their licks in. The families sometimes have some of the toughest duties because they’ve got all of the worry and none of the ability to kind of hit back.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, you’re exactly right. My father was in World War II on an aircraft carrier. And I remember the same thing you remember very well. And I think that on that Web site, you’re going to find ways that people can be supportive of the families, as well, so I encourage it.
Q: Secretary Don Rumsfeld with us this morning on WTN. Mr. Secretary, one of the issues in Washington that’s occupying a lot of attention in kind of the waning days of Congress, is intelligence reform, trying to do something with the 9/11 Commission Report. Some in the Congress are holding up the intell reform saying that the Defense Department had complicated delays in trying to utilize the intell. Are you concerned about the bill as it stands now? Do you see some things moving that might help some of those concerns? Kind of where do you see that in the waning days of this Congress?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, it looks as though there’s a debate going on between the House and the Senate conferees – the people who are trying to resolve the differences between the bill passed by the House and the bill passed by the Senate. The president’s taken a very clear position. He is anxious to see that a reform bill is passed and needless to say, as a part of this administration, I support the president. My guess is that we’ll see a bill passed during this period and certainly that’s the hope.
Q: You mentioned World War II. We talked with Ollie North. He’s got a new book out about our war in the Pacific in World War II where he relates the similarities he sees with terror bombers and suicide bombers and kamikaze pilots, some of the Japanese wounded that would pretend to be dead and then attack and shoot our troops, some of the same thing we’re seeing with the terrorists. Do you see linkage with the kind of battles we were fighting in World War II, particularly in the Pacific and is what we’re saying is a new war on terrorism today?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I think there are similarities. Certainly, the kamikaze was a suicide bomber – a person who strapped himself in an airplane and crashed it into a ship. We lost an aircraft carrier to kamikaze pilots, the CV -- small baby aircraft, baby flat top called CV95, as I recall, the Bismark C. And as you also point out, there were people who would booby trap themselves in caves and on the islands. And there’s a similarity there. They were people who determined that they were going to fight to the death and, indeed, encouraged that in others.
On the other hand, there’s a mixture we’re facing today. There are a mixture of people who are suicide bomber types, to be sure. Then there are the other people – the Bin Ladens and the Zawahiris and the Zarqawis. These people aren’t killing themselves. They aren’t strapping bombs on themselves and running out and killing a bunch of innocent people. They’re sending people to do that and they’re preserving their lives and continuing to try to overthrow moderate regimes around the world that do not subscribe to their extremist views. And they have to be defeated. These are the people who are beheading people on television. Were they to win, the world would enter a very dark period.
The wonderful thing to think about, however, is that we just saw an election in Afghanistan for the first time where they elected a president and those people had never had that opportunity before. And everyone said, oh, it won’t happen, these people in Afghanistan aren’t ready for democracy and the Taliban and the Al Qaeda will prevent it and the elections won’t be secure. And here we are, the innauguration’s taking place next week. The election was successful. Millions and millions of people registered, millions and millions of people voted. And it’s an enormous success story, just a—(interrupted)...
Q: Maybe we need to send some of those folks from Afghanistan to Ukraine for election oversights.
SEC. RUMSFELD: [Laughs.]
Q: I know you’re not going to let me get you in trouble on that one. Let me ask you one other thing, because I know you’ve got to run to another interview. Now when we talked a few months ago, I tried to goad you, beg you, plead you to beg to keep your job and you said, politically, you weren’t allowed to get involved in the political process, even to say you want to keep your job. Well, now the election’s over, are we going to be able to keep you on board for another term?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I appreciate that nice thought. I tell you, I’m going to defer responding to a question like that and allow the—(interrupted)…
Q: [Laughs] You won’t ever let me get you in trouble.
SEC. RUMSFELD: No. Heck, no. I’m [Laughs] – well, but I appreciate your nice thought. I will say this, it is, it is a privilege to be able to work with the young men and women in uniform who are doing such a remarkable job around the world and to be able to thank them and to thank their families for all they do to support those troops. And I do hope people will go ahead and take a look at americasupportsyou.mil and see what they can do to demonstrate their support.
Q: Quick final comment. What’s the difference in the first time you served as secretary of defense and today? As you kind of now are looking back over this first term and the last term, what’s the real difference from your perspective?
SEC. RUMSFELD: 24-hour news, 7 days a week.
Q: And the assistance of talk radio.
SEC. RUMSFELD: [Laughter] There you go.
Q: Secretary Don Rumsfeld, you’re one of my heroes. We’re proud to call you a friend of the show and proud of the job that you and Paul Wolfowitz and others on your team have done and we really appreciate the leadership you’ve shown. I know we’ll be able to depend upon it for a long time to come in this country, whether you’re in your position or not and we appreciate your service to our nation.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, thanks so much. I appreciate it and have a wonderful holiday coming up.
Q: You, too, as well. Secretary Don Rumsfeld with us this morning from the Pentagon, secretary of defense.