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DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
April 03, 2003 12:45 PM EDT

(Also participating Gen. Richard B. Myers, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. Photos of briefing are at http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/ and slides and video shown during the briefing are at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Apr2003/g030403-D-6570C.html)

Rumsfeld: Good afternoon. We are certainly grateful for the brilliant and courageous rescue of Sergeant -- correction -- Pfc. [Private First Class] Jessica Lynch, who was being held by Iraqi forces in what they called a "hospital." And we thank all of those who were involved in the planning and execution of the mission. We're grateful to have her back, to be sure. It was a superb rescue effort by truly outstanding and courageous teams. The celebration of her rescue is, of course, tempered by the knowledge that others still remain in enemy hands. To the families of those coalition forces missing in action or held prisoner by the Iraqi regime, know that your loved ones are not forgotten, that our forces are doing everything possible to find them and to bring them home safely.

It's now 14 days since coalition forces entered Iraq, and they are closing on Baghdad. They've taken several outlying areas and are closer to the center of the Iraqi capital than many American commuters are from their downtown offices.

As the coalition continues to close on Baghdad, there likely will be difficult days ahead, but the regime is under increasing pressure. Their Republican Guard forces are being defeated by coalition airstrikes and by effective ground engagements. The Baghdad and Medina Divisions have suffered serious blows. Some units are laying down their arms and surrendering to coalition forces, wisely choosing not to die fighting for a doomed regime.

Coalition forces have caused such attrition to the Republican Guard units ringing the capital that the regime has been forced to backfill its Baghdad defenses with regular army units, forces that they have historically considered less reliable, which is a sign that they know they're in difficulty. Key bridges over the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers have been taken by coalition forces. This, of course, eases the approach to Baghdad.

Like the southern oil fields, our forces are finding some bridges wired for demolition, but not yet detonated. Perhaps those responsible for destroying the bridges heard the message in coalition leaflets and radio broadcasts and have heeded our warnings. Or perhaps coalition advance has been so rapid that they were taken by surprise. We may never know which.

What we do know is that the strategy is working. The coalition has secured the majority of Iraq's oil wells for the Iraqi people, secured key roads and bridges leading the Baghdad, and has now arrived near the regime's doorstep, all in less than two weeks.

As the battle unfolds, it's becoming increasingly clear to Iraqis who is a friend and who is an enemy of Muslim people. In Najaf, for example, Saddam's forces seized a mosque that is one of the most important religious sites of Shi'a Muslims and they used it for cover as they fired at coalition forces. Coalition forces naturally would tend to want to respond to firing on their positions. But they did not. They held their fire. They protected the mosque from destruction. Soon after, a prominent Iraqi cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Sistani, took the courageous step of instructing the population to remain calm and not to interfere with coalition actions.

Truth be told, while coalition forces have taken extraordinary measures to protect innocent civilians in this war, Saddam Hussein has sent death squads to massacre innocent Iraqi Muslims. Indeed, Saddam Hussein has killed more Muslim people than perhaps any living person on the face of the earth. The day is fast approaching when his murderous rule will end. Let there be no doubt, the most dangerous fighting may very well be ahead of us. And by its conduct in this war, the Iraqi regime has shown that there is no depth to the brutality to which they will not sink.

The regime has been weakened, to be sure, but it is still lethal, and it may prove to be more lethal in the final moments before it ends. For the senior leadership there is no way out. Their fate has been sealed by their actions. The same is not true for the Iraqi armed forces. Iraqi officers and soldiers can still survive and help to rebuild a free Iraq if they do the right thing. They must now decide whether they want to share the fate of Saddam Hussein, or whether they will they save themselves, turn on that condemned dictator, and help the forces of Iraq's liberation. I must say, however, that given the conduct of the Iraqi regime, it increasingly seems that Iraq is running out of real soldiers, and soon all that will be left are war criminals.

Gen. Myers.

Myers: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

Coalition ground, air, maritime and special forces have made remarkable progress in the first two weeks of Operation Iraqi Freedom. And I know that Gen. Brooks at CentCom headquarters over in theater gave an excellent operational lay down this morning. And things are progressing well. But I'd like to caution all that there still is much more work to be done. And there's no doubt that some of it's going to be very, very difficult.

We are continuing to move toward our objectives. As you see in this chart, the Iraqi regime has -- no longer controls about 45 percent of Iraq. And coalition forces are on the outskirts of Baghdad.

Air strikes continue. In the last 24 hours coalition air forces have flown more than 1,000 sorties over Iraq. Since the war began we have fired over 725 Tomahawks and dropped over 12,000 precision-guided munitions. We essentially control over 95 percent of Iraqi airspace.

Now let me show you a pre- and post-strike image of some recent strikes. These images are of Special Republican Guard military barracks located on the edge of the Saddam International Airport just outside Baghdad. And that's the post-strike image.

We are also conducting helicopter strikes on Republican Guard armor, and I have some recent video that captures the success of advancing forces. The video shows three short clips of Apache helicopters destroying Iraqi tanks and anti-aircraft missile launchers southwest of Baghdad.

(Pause, videos shown.)

And with that, we'll take your questions.

Q: What are the weapons systems --

Staff (?): I'm sorry, I guess there's one more here.

Myers: Probably the Hellfire missile in most cases. We also have a chain gun, as you know, on the front of it. It looked like a little bit of both in those.

Yes.

Q: I'd like to ask Gen. Myers, if I may. Gen. Myers, have U.S. forces, ground forces begun an assault, a direct assault on the airport of Baghdad that you referred to? And number two --

Myers: On the what, Charlie? On --

Q: On the airport, south of Baghdad. And the lights went out in Baghdad tonight abruptly. Did U.S. air power knock out electric power in Baghdad and is this to give U.S. forces a night-vision advantage in any urban conflict?

Myers: The first part on the airport, like any objectives in and around Baghdad for ground forces, we just can't comment on that. That has to be -- that will be up to Gen. Franks, and we'll report after the fact, not before the fact, what their objectives are. They're on the outskirts of Baghdad right now.

In terms of the power, Central Command has not targeted the power grid in Baghdad.

Q: So you don't know why the power might have gone off?

Myers: We do not. At this point, we do not. CentCom is looking at that themselves, but they don't know.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you referred to some of the Republican Guard forces laying down arms. Can you tell us whether some of them have actually been withdrawn deliberately back into the city limits where -- and does Saddam and his -- do they have central control over the forces that are in the city, as opposed to those that are out in the field?

Rumsfeld: We've had pretty good visibility, but cloud cover has resulted in a situation we don't have perfect visibility. And if I dropped a plumb line through everything I've read on this subject, my impression is that it's all of the above; that the -- some forces have in fact retreated into cities, others have just left and gone home, still others have surrendered, still others are still there fighting and have been reinforced both with remnants of other Republican Guard units and also regular army forces.

Q: And the second part of that question. Is the command and control of the forces inside the city stronger than --

Rumsfeld: Inside which city?

Q: Baghdad.

Rumsfeld: Oh, it's been degraded significantly, but it still exists, is our assumption.

Q: Gen. Myers?

Q: Mr. Secretary, the other day you said that --

Q: Mr. Secretary, you said a couple of months ago that Iraq is running out of real soldiers and that all that will be left are war criminals. Is that a warning that if these military leaders don't give up now that they'll be considered war criminals or is that an appeal to surrender?

Rumsfeld: I guess it's a reflection of what's taking place there. There are any number of soldiers that are behaving as soldiers, and they have been either surrendering, been captured or been killed or they're still there fighting. There are others who have left and gone into a different mode where they are in civilian clothes and they are operating out of cities and they are putting themselves in close proximity to schools, hospitals, mosques and the like, and conducting themselves less as soldiers and more as war criminals. I don't want to get into any legal definitions, but there's no question but that the things -- the execution of Iraqi people, the execution of others is certainly not something that soldiers do.

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Yes?

Q: What can you tell us about what it appears the Special Republican Guard and the other security organizations around Saddam Hussein appear to be doing in Baghdad now, as it seems that the arrival of American forces is imminent? Are you seeing special kinds of preparations?

Rumsfeld: They have conducted exercises over recent months and have block captains and they have dug trenches to put oil in to burn things; they have done a variety of things that suggests that they anticipate that they could end up in the city of Baghdad and they've had various perimeter defenses. We're not in there at the moment, so we don't --

Q: You've gone through several of their outer rings already, but in -- (inaudible) -- these special organizations have special ways of approaching things that are not necessarily conventional.

Rumsfeld: No, that's right. I mean, we do worry about them, for example, attacking the Shi'a population in the east side of the city. They've done that type of thing before and then tried to blame it on other people. We've -- they've apparently been involved in various incidents where they've tried to conduct the killing of innocent men, women and children, particularly Shi'a, and blame it on coalition forces and that type of thing.

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Rumsfeld: Bill?

Q: We've heard a lot from people going on about securing the southern oil fields, but not very much about what's going on in the north to try to secure those fields. Could you comment on that and on the activities in the north generally?

Rumsfeld: We have a lot of Special Forces up there. The British have been up there, as well, from time to time. We have -- the 173rd [Airborne Brigade] is there. And we have excellent relationships with the two Kurdish groups and are -- and as a matter of fact, have conducted a combined operation with them on some facilities and suspected poison sites in the country. The oil wells, as I recall, Dick, run pretty much just outside the green line -- just south of the green line.

Myers: They do, and then sort of north and south around Kirkuk, as well. So they're exactly in that area.

Rumsfeld: And needless to say, we have to assume that they've been wired with explosives, as some were in the south. We also would like very much to get in there and be able to assure that they are not damaged and cause a major environmental problem. And Gen. Franks has ways of doing that at the right time.

Q: Gen. Myers?

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Q: Gen. Myers, factoring in the air campaign that has taken out a lot of the Republican Guard divisions to the south, there are some U.S. commanders who are expressing surprise at the lack of resistance that they're seeing as they're rolling to Baghdad. Is your perception that there is a tactic --

Rumsfeld: Who is expressing that?

Q: Some commanders on the ground, from embedded reporters talking to them. Is there a tactic, do you feel, by the Iraqis to draw coalition forces into the city to try to do an urban warfare scenario?

Myers: Let me just say we talked about -- we've talked to -- no. I think if you look at the way the combat is being conducted, we are -- coalition forces are -- destroying most of the equipment associated with these Republican Guard divisions. A lot of the people have been killed. A lot of the people that come out after dark to attack our tanks, that might be a line in the shadows -- the death squads and those sorts of folks -- a lot of them have been killed as well. So it doesn't appear -- we know that they're dispersing, sometimes with equipment, and our forces are smart enough to figure out that you don't want to get in where you could be enveloped somehow. So they're taking all that into account.

Rumsfeld: We know they have a series of things that they plan to do as the first don't succeed and then they have other things they will do. But to call it a ploy, after they've been decimated and had their effectiveness reduced, in terms of their equipment, from a hundred percent down to somewhere in some cases 15 percent or 20 percent or 40 percent or 55 or 75 percent, it's hardly a ploy. The air power has been very effective and the ground action has been very effective.

Q: Just to clarify, you're not seeing Republican Guard divisions pulling back into the city right now?

Myers: Well, you see, it's a mixed sort of thing. Primarily, from the picture I have, is that they are trying to reinforce those rings of defense and not abandon them. That's the primary push we see right now.

Q: Gen. Myers, do you have an update on the two reports of potential friendly-fire incidents? There was a Patriot missile which was possibly fired at a Navy plane, as well as an F-15 which possibly fired at ground troops?

Myers: No updates other than that both those are being examined by Central Command. Nothing to update at this point. No further details.

Q: Gen. Myers, I wanted to take you back to a the old issue of urban conflict, urban warfare, as it sees imminent, there may be a conflict there. Can you give the public a sense of how the U.S. has advanced from the days of -- you may think of the battle of Hue in Vietnam, or Stalingrad and the Mesopotamia. There's images of apocalyptic urban conflict. Can you give us a sense of the model you've used to game this out in terms of the blend of lethal, nonlethal. How might it be different, this great urban conflict people have envisioned?

Myers: Well, first of all, you never know, I mean, how it's going to come out. The tactical situation could be very different from what we suppose, and so, I mean, you're just going to have to be ready for lots of things. But you've got a city of Baghdad, you've got about 5 million residents, half of whom are Shi'a that have been persecuted by the regime, probably will not be friendly to the regime. They're basically on the eastern half of the city. You would have to -- you could assume that they might be helpful.

When you get to the point where Baghdad is basically isolated, then what is the situation you have in the country? You have a country that Baghdad no longer controls, that whatever is happening inside Baghdad is almost irrelevant compared to what's going on in the rest of the country. What's going on in the rest of the country? Well, you have the southern oil fields; we'll see about the north. You have the face now of a -- by this time, probably, of an Iraqi administration, interim administration, some form of people standing up now starting to work the post-conflict governance. It will take some time, but you'll have that.

So you're going to have Baghdad isolated, you're going to have half the population that probably wants nothing to do with the folks -- the oppressive regime. And then you'll start working at it as you can. But one of the things you can do is be patient about that. So this notion of a siege, and so forth, I think is not the right mental picture.

Rumsfeld: Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, do you have any information that would lead you to believe that a third party, perhaps a foreign government, such as France or Russia, might be encouraging what's left of Saddam's regime to just hang on in hopes of cutting some kind of a deal? And is there any deal available to them, short of their end?

Rumsfeld: The answer is yes and no. There's no question but that some governments are discussing, from time to time, some sort of a -- cutting a deal. And the inevitable effect of it, let there be no doubt, is to give hope and comfort to the Saddam Hussein regime, and give them ammunition that they can then try to use to retain the loyalty of their forces with hope that one more time maybe he'll survive, one more time maybe he'll be there for another decade or so, for another 17 or 18 U.N. resolutions.

And as to the second question, there's not a chance that there's going to be a deal. It doesn't matter who proposes it, there will not be one.

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Myers: If I could just tag on to that. If that's done by other governments, the one thing you know for sure, it will potentially -- has the potential to prolong the conflict and has the potential for both Iraqi civilian casualties and coalition casualties to increase.

Rumsfeld: Which is notably not helpful.

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Q: Mr. Secretary, CentCom put out a warning last night that the regime might be planting bombs in hopes of blaming the coalition for a propaganda victory. I'm just wondering, how are you warning the people of Baghdad about this danger? Are you warning them?

Rumsfeld: The people of Baghdad know this regime well. They've been living with it. They know that there probably isn't a more vicious regime on the face of the earth today. And they don't need any coaching or guidance from us. They have seen what they have done. They see every day. They're being threatened by these death squads at the present time, and they know what the nature of the Special Republican Guard is. They know what the nature of the SSO is. They know what the nature of the so-called Fedayeen Saddam are, and this clique around Saddam Hussein and his family. They don't need -- they don't need my help.

Q: Mr. Secretary, back to the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch for a moment. A several-part question with the understanding you may not know the answers to any of these. Do you any information --

Rumsfeld: That's true of any question. (Laughter.) Single-part, multiple-part, it doesn't matter.

Q: I'd just ask for a one-time exemption for the multiple-part question, though. (Laughter). Do you have any information that substantiates some of the accounts we're hearing of her heroic effort to hold out and expending all of her ammunition before she was captured? Is there any evidence that she was tortured or mistreated? And is she a witness to any war crimes, specifically the execution of any American prisoners?

Rumsfeld: Gen. Myers and I get briefed on these types of things and there's an orderly process for debriefing and discussing them. And I have no intention of discussing it piecemeal.

Q: Mr. Secretary --

Q: Mr. Secretary? Could you both -- there has been mention about the friendly fire incident. But without getting into the details of that, does the increase in the potential of friendly fire incidents cause you any sort of concern, or what are your thoughts about that?

Rumsfeld: Well, I think your question assumes there's been an increase. And I don't know that there has been. There have been friendly fire incidents in every war in the history of mankind. There are portions of this battlespace that are enormously complex, and human beings are human beings, and things are going to happen, and it's always been so, and it will be so this time. It's always sad and tragic, and your heart breaks when people are killed or wounded by blue-on-blue fire. But I think it would be inaccurate to say there's, A, been an increase, or that the level of this unfortunate incident is higher in this conflict than any other. That's not the case.

Q: Mr. Secretary --

Q: Gen. Myers, can I take you back to a couple points? When you talked about the strategy of approaching Baghdad a couple of minutes ago, you talked about moving forward; isolating the regime, I think, is what you said; and then, you know, an interim government authority would begin to emerge.

But what you didn't mention in that was the removal of the current regime in that scenario. So what I'm wondering is if you're looking at a solution here of sort of terrific simplicity. You just go to Baghdad, isolate the regime and establish this interim authority, and you're de facto in charge and then work on removing the regime after that.

Myers: You may have a regime. You may not. I use the term "irrelevant" because at this point they're not going to be able to communicate with the people of Iraq. That will all be shut down. They won't be able to communicate within certain parts of Baghdad, and you'll continue to ensure that happens. You know, there's -- we would control the water, the electricity, things like that. I'm not suggesting any of that would be turned off, turned on. It just would depend on the tactical situation.

So they become an entity, perhaps, if there's anybody left, if they haven't all run. Of course, there's lots of reports of people already leaving Baghdad. But whatever remnants are left would not be in charge of anything except their own defense. And it would be fairly small compared to the rest of the country and what's happening.

Q: And if I could just ask you a follow-up, you both mentioned your concerns, I believe, about the Shi'a population on the east side of Baghdad. Now that you've put that on the table, is there any plan or possibility for the U.S. military to provide protection to those people, now that you've put the risk on the table here?

Myers: That gets into future operational planning, which I think we probably shouldn't talk about.

Q: Mr. Secretary --

Rumsfeld: We didn't put the risk on the table. It's the Iraqi regime has put it on, previously and currently.

Myers: In fact, they've shown -- you know, they have artillery positions in the city that for several years -- for many years were -- those artillery positions are positions used to control the Shi'a population in Baghdad. I mean, that's what -- the positions are in Baghdad to shoot on the Shi'a. So just to back up the secretary's comments on that --

Rumsfeld: Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, when was the last time you received a reliable report saying that Saddam and his sons were still alive?

Rumsfeld: (Sighs.) Goodness! You know, the question of reliable -- I see so much intel, and so much of it's anecdotal. So much of it's one source. Some of it -- much of it is an untested source. And therefore the word "reliable" -- I haven't seen anything that was multiple-source, from known reliable sources or methods, that suggests that he is or isn't alive.

Myers: One way or the other.

Rumsfeld: So I just can't answer it any better.

Yes?

Q: Sir, is the escape scenario for Saddam Hussein now off the table, with the unconditional surrender language you're using? And Gen. Myers, is the --

Rumsfeld: The ultimatum was 48 hours. It expired a week and a half ago.

Q: But after that, there was still some talk from the administration about you'd still welcome a scenario where he went off to Algeria or wherever.

Rumsfeld: Who said that?

Q: I was under the understanding that the administration would still have accepted his departure to shorten the war, to end the war, even after the ultimatum expired, even would facilitate it.

Rumsfeld: There's not much we can do about it, if he's able to get out of the country, he's out of the country. But if you're asking are we still encouraging him to leave, the answer is no. And I don't know who in the administration would have said that.

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Q: Gen. Myers, is the battle of Baghdad the last big battle of this war, or do you see Tikrit as that last-stand site, or do you have an idea about that?

Myers: To be determined. You know, you saw the map of where the Iraqi regime does not have control, and you know where they still have a modicum of control, and we're trying to influence that as time goes on. So it's just going to have to be determined.

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Rumsfeld: Ivan?

Q: Thank you. A couple of days ago, you said at that podium that the only terms you will accept are unconditional surrender. In order to get that, you have to negotiate with somebody. Would you feel --

Rumsfeld: Not necessarily.

Q: Okay. Then the follow-up: Would you believe or have you instructed our troops to hold without entering the city, to allow you to try and negotiate and to stop any kind of bloody urban fighting?

Rumsfeld: We're not there yet. Tom Franks is the man on the ground. And if he gets to a point where he wants to talk about something, he'll call.

Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, I presume you're pleased, but are you also puzzled by the fact that the Iraqis haven't used any chemical or biological weapons? And do U.S. forces have any special way to respond militarily if such an attack should be launched, or is the threat of war crimes trials the strongest deterrent?

Rumsfeld: Well, needless to say, the last thing anyone would want to see is chemical weapons used in this conflict. We've always believed that the chances of their being used increase the closer that coalition forces got to Baghdad. I suspect that the regime has a dilemma. If, on the one hand, they are holding out hope with their people that there might be a deal cut, the use of chemical weapons would certainly end that prospect. And --

Q: (Inaudible) --

Rumsfeld: Just a minute. And that being the case, they have to be balancing that. Do they want to not use all their weapons and hope that they can get a deal, when it's not even a remote possibility, or will they go ahead and use them and totally eliminate the perception in their people that he might survive, because once he uses those, it's pretty clear there can't be a deal? So that's the dilemma I suspect he faces.

Q: And Gen. Myers --

Q: Is there a special military response to the chemical weapons --

Rumsfeld: We've allowed as how we thought that they'd best not use those weapons. And I don't want to go beyond that.

Yes.

Q: It's been seven or 10 days since there's been much discussion about contact with Iraqi commanders in hopes that they might turn. Is that no longer a productive enterprise, or do you still have some hope that once you get to Baghdad you may be able to persuade --

Rumsfeld: There are still contacts and you never know. Until people decide that for sure he's going to go, and they are not at risk from the Special Republican Guard or the SSO or the Fedayeen Saddam of shooting them if they do try to make a deal, it won't happen. At that moment where they're convinced he is going to go, and they do want to be helpful, then they're going to have to figure out a way to live and not get shot by some of the folks that have been infiltrated into their operations. And as I say, discussions still continue.

Pam?

Q: Have you seen any indications from Iran or Syria that they've heeded your warning, or are ignoring your warning? And please be as specific as possible. And Gen. Myers, your thoughts on progress on the friendly fire front. Is it better or worse this time around, or about what you expected?

Rumsfeld: I have no way of knowing what Iran's reaction was, but I have not seen anything recently on the part of Iran that was -- I don't know if you have, either -- that is terribly disturbing. We do -- we have seen that Syria is continuing to conduct itself the way it was prior to the time I said what I said.

Q: So what's next --

Rumsfeld: Oh, that's -- that's for others to decide.

Q: And friendly fire, Gen. Myers?

Myers: I'll stick with the secretary's comments on that. They're terrible tragedies. You never like to see it happen. We shouldn't accept that it's inevitable. It seems to be in every conflict that it is, but we shouldn't accept that. We've still got to work the technical pieces, the tactics and techniques and procedures. But in the middle of some of these conflicts, it happens, obviously. I mean, it's happened to the U.K. forces, it's happened to our forces. We'll have to investigate each one of them, see if it was a breakdown in our techniques, our procedures, or if there was a technical breakdown that we have to shore up, and we can do that. So we'll just keep working at it.

Rumsfeld: Last question, in the back.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you and Gen. Myers have said that the most dangerous fighting may lie ahead. Wouldn't it be more accurate to say the most unpredictable phase lies ahead? Because we don't know what we'll find in Baghdad, whether the regime has lost control, whether there will be a coup, chemical weapons attacking the people. And doesn't that present the most challenging phase yet in terms of our planning?

Rumsfeld: It's interesting how people tend to always start where we are. Predictability. What was not predictable when we started? It was not predictable that we would be able to save the southern oil wells. It was not predictable whether we'd be able to prevent Scuds from going into Jordan or Saudi Arabia or Israel. It was not predictable whether or not there would be a massive humanitarian crisis, as there was in 1991. It was not predictable whether there would be massive refugee flows into neighboring countries and causing great difficulties for them. It was not predictable whether our forces gathering in Kuwait conceivably could have been hit with chemical weapons in that location.

There has been a whole series of things, unpredictables, unknowables, that had to be addressed by Gen. Franks, that he addressed very thoughtfully, that he fashioned a plan to deal with. And because of the success of his plan, he has in fact avoided any number of risks and dangers that he had to take into account and that concern all of us.

So, no, I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started.

Q: (Off mike) -- is this a highly unpredictable phase we're entering? And how does that complicate the planning now?

Rumsfeld: In this business, everyone goes to school on everyone else, from the first day. They react to what we do. We react to what they do. The plan is adjusted, and the plans are made, and excursions are developed and, the good Lord willing, serious problems are averted and avoided.

The -- I guess I'll stand -- what I said. I believe that what I said is correct: that we have faced this whole series of risks, very serious risks and dangers, from the beginning, and a good many of them have thus far been avoided. We still have the risk of the northern oil fields, to be sure. We still have -- nothing's ever over till it's over. But sure, there are difficult days ahead.

Is it more or less unpredictable than it was 12, 14 days ago? I think not.

Q: Mr. Secretary --

Q: Mr. Secretary, can I just have one brief follow-up to Jamie's question on the private who was --

(Cross talk.)

Rumsfeld: Brief, maybe.

Q: -- if it's okay, on the private who was freed --

Rumsfeld: It's the size of it that --

Q: -- the 11 bodies found in the hospital where she was being held? Has there been any determination of whether or not they were Americans --

Rumsfeld: We're not going to get into that.

Q: You won't discuss it?

Rumsfeld: When we know something definitive, we'll tell you. You can be certain of that.

Thank you.

Q: Mr. Secretary, how are you and Colin Powell getting along these days?

Rumsfeld: Good.

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