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Secretary Rumsfeld Stakeout after CNN Late Edition

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
March 14, 2004
Secretary Rumsfeld Stakeout after CNN Late Edition

     Q:  The people taking responsibility for the bombing in Madrid (Inaudible.) main ally to the United States.  What's your reaction to that?

 

      Rumsfeld:  I really don't have one.  It's so soon after the tragic event and until people are able to sort out who actually was involved.  Spain, regrettably, has had terrorist attacks for decades and certainly my heart goes out to the Spanish people, the people that were killed and wounded.  But frequently after a terrorist act, people try to take credit and it turns out not to have been the case.  So I'm not one to rush to judgment.

 

     Q:  What effect do you think that will have on our allies as far their help in the war on terrorism?

 

     Rumsfeld:  Oh, none. I think we've got 90 nations already in the global war on terror.  It's probably one of the largest coalitions in the history of the world.  We have 34, 35 nations in Iraq on the ground helping, still others giving humanitarian assistance.  We've got a large number in Afghanistan.  And I think people understand that the idea that you can live on this planet and take a pass and just say well, I didn't know, or I didn't want to know, or I'm not going to get involved. We've seen that.  In our neighborhoods we've seen people who see a crime take place and just drive by and not want to be involved.  On the other hand, our world is such that we do believe that killing innocent men, women and children is a bad thing, not a good thing.  It's the responsibility of all countries and all individuals to recognize that, and to stand up for the right rather than the wrong.

 

     Q:  Mr. Secretary (Inaudible.) bombing in Spain.  Anything about progress in the war on terror?  And is the (Inaudible.) an indication that terrorism is spreading?

 

     Rumsfeld:  I don't think so.  I know we're making progress in the global war on terror.  We're putting pressure out there and drying up parts.  Not drying them up completely, but reducing the amount of funding that's been going into it, we believe.  A great many people have been arrested and detained and interrogated.  It's been made much more difficult for terrorists to move between countries because there's a heightened sense of vigilance.  It makes it more difficult for terrorists to communicate with each other, it takes them more time, costs them more money.  And all of that pressure, using all of the elements of national power by many nations has made life more difficult for them.

 

     Has it stopped terrorists?  No

 

     Think of all the policemen in the United States of America.  Tens and tens and tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of policemen.  Has it stopped crime?  No.  It hasn't.  Think of all the firemen.  Has that stopped fires?  No.  But it reduces them and it reduces the loss when it occurs.  It's something that people have to do.  We simply have got to recognize that a terrorist can attack any time, any place, using any technique and you can't defend against an attack any where in the world at any moment of the day or night against any conceivable technique.  The only choice you have is to go after the terrorists, and that's what the world is doing.  When I say the world, I mean the international community.

 

     Q:  Do you see (Inaudible.)?  (Inaudible.)?

 

     Rumsfeld:  I don't know if he's alive or dead.  He's going to be, if he's alive, he's certainly going to be captured eventually, but we see growing connections between terrorist organizations and we see a more decentralized terrorist activity in the world.

 

     Just think of all the places where there have been terrorist attacks recently -- Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Spain and many other countries.  It is clearly a priority to capture him, and we will.

 

     Q:  Families of (Inaudible.) people in Iraq are demonstrating today in Dover, Delaware.  I wonder if there's anything you want to say to them (Inaudible.)?

    

     Rumsfeld:  Families of who?

 

     Q:  Families of service people in Iraq are protesting about the war itself, the handling of the reservist people.

 

     Rumsfeld:  As you know, throughout the history of our country any time there's been conflict there have been some numbers of people who didn't agree.  That's one of the things about our country, people can have any view they want and they can express it.  They can express it through letters to the editor, free speech, or free assembly.  What we do know is that the men and women in uniform are all volunteers.  Every single one of them is a volunteer.  They're doing something because they want to do it, they're doing something because they believe it.  The cause is a good cause.  Fifteen million [sic] people have been liberated, and freedom has been advanced.  Everywhere I go the morale of the young men and women in uniform is high.  They are well trained and well equipped.  They're well led and they're proud of what they're doing and goodness knows the American people are proud of them.

 

     Thank you very much.

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