Q: Hi Mr. Secretary, this is Marc Bernier. We met at the Pentagon and met at the White House this year. Good to talk with you again, sir.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you, Marc. It’s good to be back with you.
Q: Mr. Secretary, to go right to it, let me ask you, the finding of these chemical weapons as a result of our military actions in Fallujah, once again, is the proof positive that the Iraqis were in a position where they would have created problems for their neighbors and possibly for our allies in the region? That should make you, as well as others, feel that we should stay the course and to snuff out these insurgents wherever we find them. Am I correct?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, there’s no question but that for Iraq to be successful, the government of Iraq fully understands that they simply cannot allow there to be safe havens for elements that are opposed to the government of Iraq – elements that are insistent on killing innocent Iraqis, killing coalition forces, people who are determined to try to bring back a dictatorship, extremists of various stripes from other countries. You cannot allow a safe haven in that country and expect to succeed, so you’re quite right.
Q: Mr. Secretary, I was curious, this tape that was released yesterday, has intelligence determined if this is recent or is it old and they were very crafty about how they taped it, so they could time-release it?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I tell you, I have not listened to the tape. But the, the reality is that it is, of course, there had been instances where the experts have, in fact, validated tapes and concluded that they were real and been able to put a time on them. There have been times when they’ve been able to validate a tape, but not know when it was actually taped and there have been other times when there have been questions about the possibility that tapes have been dubbed and altered in various ways to appear to be something they aren’t. In this particular case, I have not heard what the results are.
Q: Mr. Secretary, this tape sounds like an act of desperation in its release because Zarqawi had almost scolded his own people, some of those insurgents expressing his disappointment that they weren’t fighting harder and that’s why I asked because it seems like it’s another desperate ploy to keep the insurgents active.
SEC. RUMSFELD: It’s interesting to watch the ebb and flow of this thing. There are times when these extremists who are determined to try to take back that country and to take over a number of countries, sound like they’re confident and they want to bolster their troops by saying things are going well. There are other times, of course, when we see information that points out how difficult life is for them. A great many have been killed or captured. The pressure has been put on their flow of funds. The difficulty of moving and having to avoid being caught makes life harder for them. It makes it more difficult to attract people, to retain people, to recruit them. And it varies from country to country from time to time. And what I do know is there have been literally hundreds of them killed in the last two months or captured and that’s not good for their morale.
Q: Mr. Secretary, can you tell us have they definitely decided, are the elections going to move on as scheduled or are we reviewing that situation, the Iraqis reviewing that situation?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, the Iraqi government has announced that they will go forward with the elections. They fully intend to do that. I expect them to do that, certainly we favor that. There are people who, from time to time, pop up and say, oh, my goodness, maybe they should be delayed for this reason or that reason. I think that the way to think about this is that there are various factions within the country. And if you were in a faction that looked like you weren’t going to do very well right then, you might like to delay things and advantage yourself. And so, periodically, you’ll hear people say, oh, let’s delay the election. Well, you know, that’s like extending the time for a football game or something. My attitude about it is that the Iraqi people want elections. The overwhelming majority of them are determined to have elections, that there will be elections, and that the elections will give a strength to the Iraqi government that is important for the success of that country. And the United States of America is determined that those elections go forward.
Q: Mr. Secretary, on another subject, with the controversy that came about, the situation at Guantanamo or even at Abu Ghraib prison, I have been operating under the assumption since we’ve had our two talks, that you clearly outlined in working with Gen. Myers, exactly how we should handle anyone that we capture in the interrogation process to delineate and get information without using excessive force or brutality. You clearly outlined the acceptable means. Am I correct that any of the things that went wrong were not in any of the memos that you ever sent on how to acquire information?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, you’re quite right. In fact, I’d go a step further. The president of the United States indicated that he expected every detainee to receive humane treatment. Gen. Myers and I certainly repeated that and communicated that throughout the system. And unfortunately, what took place is some individuals who have now been punished or other individuals are currently being tried or processed in one way or another at various levels in the organization, in fact, engaged in some behavior that was unacceptable and illegal and they’re being called to account for it.
Q: Mr. Secretary, I know you thought it was great and it was a very carefully measured decision to embed these reporters with our fighting men and women overseas. In light of some of the sparse video that shows some of the fighting that’s had to go on and some of the controversy, do you still think it was a good idea, when we go into places like Fallujah, that we needed to have reporters in there to report that, because war is Hell, you’ve stated it, others have stated it? And sometimes people get a distorted version of what these young men and women are dealing with.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Uhm...you know, in life you have to take the good with the bad and so you have to balance it out. And my view is after many, many months now of assessing this and seeing the good with the bad, seeing instances where reports are filed and shown of a slice of fact, but the slice of fact is only that. It’s only a slice of fact. It’s not a total picture. It’s not in context. And it’s up then to the American people and the people of the world to take those slices and put them into a broader context over a period of time. So I am, I have developed conviction that it has been the right thing to do to embed reporters. I think that it’s the right thing to do for two important reasons. Number one, I have a lot of confidence in the American people that if they see enough slices of reality, they will be able to synthesize all of that and come away with reasonably correct judgments.
Second, and not unimportant, indeed, quite important, literally hundreds of journalists from around the world and in the United States have had an opportunity to be closely connected with U.S. men and women in uniform. And what they will see and have seen is these truly outstanding young men and women who are doing such a wonderful job and they see courage, they see professionalisms, they see compassion, they see strength. And for the rest of their lives, they will value that experience and they will have a much better understanding in whatever they do in careers in journalism about the truly noble work that’s being done by American men and women in uniform and I think that’s a good thing.
Q: Finally, Mr. Secretary, I asked you this in the spring and you were noncommittal, as I expected you to be, in light of the fact that we know that Secretary Ridge is handing his resignation in to the president. There are some things that he wants to do in his life and at home and he’s got kids in college. I’ve been a fan of yours. I’ve told you that when I saw you. Are you going to stick around for this next term or have you not made up your mind or had that conversation with the president yet?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I’ll tell you, that’s something that I think that I’ll leave for a future date. I appreciate your nice words and certainly Tom Ridge has done a fine job for the country and the country’s been fortunate to have an able public servant like Tom. He’s uhm…I had not been aware that he was planning to do that, but I heard just before I came down here that he was doing it and I certainly wish him well. But I think what I’ll do is put off for another day any comment on Rumsfeld.
Q: I appreciate that. Mr. Secretary, happy holidays to you, Mrs. Rumsfeld, and the entire family and thank you for giving us these minutes today on the Marc Bernier Show.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thanks so much. It’s good to be back with you. I appreciate it.
Q: Best of luck, Mr. Secretary. Bye-bye.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you.