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Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with NBC Meet the Press

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
April 13, 2003

(Interview with Tim Russert, NBC Meet the Press.)

 

     Q:  Mr. Secretary, welcome. 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Thank you. 

 

     Q:  Tell me the great news about the American POWs.  

 

     Rumsfeld:  About, oh, six or eight or nine kilometers south of Tikrit the American Marines were approached and told that there were some Americans in a certain location, and they went and found seven American servicemen, and they are in good health.  As I recall, two have gunshot wounds, but basically they are in good shape.  We're delighted.  And of course we are still anxious and concerned about those that are still missing.  And the families of these seven are in the process of being notified. 

 

     Q:  The Iraqis provided us access to them, or led them to us?"

 

     Rumsfeld:  It's happening all over the country.  We're -- an awful lot of Iraqis are being cooperative, and in this case they advised us that there were Americans at a certain location.  But in city after city across the country, people are coming up and telling us where the Baath Party members are that are causing the problem, where these Fedayeen Saddam terrorists are.  And that's a good thing.  And they're also volunteering to restore order in cities where there has been disorder.  In some cases there's actually joint patrols going on with local people, with U.S. and coalition military, out policing the area and restoring order. 

 

     Q:  Let me show you this deck of cards, which you are very familiar with.  This is the seven of diamonds.  This gentleman right here, Saddam Hussein's scientific advisor surrendered yesterday.  What will happen to him now? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  I don't know.  There are all kinds of arrangements that have been thought through where the people will be addressed in a responsible way.  In some cases I suspect it will be the Iraqi people will make judgments about people who have done -- engaged in war crimes.  In other cases it may be other institutions. 

 

     Q:  But not us? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  I wouldn't rule out anything.  I think those are things that people who think about those things are thinking about, and those are lawyers and that type. 

 

     Q:  He said yesterday that he did nothing wrong, and that he can assure everyone that Iraq does not have weapons of mass destruction. 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Well, that's wonderful.  (Laughs.)

 

     Q:  You don't believe him? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  (Laughs.) No.  Goodness, no. 

 

     Q:  You're fully confident we will find weapons of mass destruction? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  The intelligence community has been over a period of years reporting all kinds of information about the chemical and biological activities, and the reinstitution of the nuclear program in that country.  We also know that the Iraqis have learned to live in an inspection environment.  They have hid things.  They have done it well.  They have things underground and well dispersed and documentation dispersed.  The only way we are going to find it -- the inspectors didn't find anything.  We're not going to find anything until we find people who tell us where the things are.  And we have that very high on our priority list, to find the people who know.  And when we do, then we'll learn precisely where things were and what was done. 

 

     Q:  Do you think some of it may have been sent to a neighboring country? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  It's possible.  We have seen reports to that effect. 

 

     Q:  Where? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  I'd rather not get into it. 

 

     Q:  How important is it for the United States to find weapons of mass destruction because with the stated cause of the war to disarm Saddam Hussein? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Oh, clearly it's on the priority list to be done.  It's not the kind of thing you spend much time doing when you're in a war and you're trying to win the war and stop the violence and stop the killing.  But it is something that people are trained to do and they are organized, and there will be exploitation of possible sites in an orderly way as soon as the environment is sufficiently permissive. 

 

     Q:  Let me go back to this famous deck of cards.  I could ask you to pick a card, any card.  But I'll take this one on top -- the ace of spades, Saddam Hussein.  Where do you think he is? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Well, he's -- there are people around who think he's dead.  There are people around who think he's injured.  And there are people around who don't know.  And I'm one of the latter.  I'm without an opinion.  I have not developed conviction on the subject.  I've seen reports from people who claim they were eyewitnesses to certain things, people who were -- suggest that they were in close proximity to something that happened.  And but I don't have enough multiple sources and tested sources that I could develop conviction and say, Well, I think he's dead, or I think he's -- this is what happened to him.  I just don't know.  We'll find out. 

 

     Q:  Saddam said, "I was born in Iraq.  I will die in Iraq."  Is that his last stand or his last lie? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  (Laughs.) I don't know.  If he's dead, he didn't have much of a choice.  He didn't have time to make the choice, anyway.  If he's alive, he may try to escape yet.  He's done it once before. 

 

     Q:  He escaped once before? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  You bet.  He got out of the country years and years ago after an attempted coup and went to Egypt, as I recall. 

 

     Q:  So you think he might try to run? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  I don't know. 

 

     Q:  General Tommy Franks said today that we have samples of his DNA which we can use to assess various places where we think he may have been bombed.  You confirm that? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  No.  I just happen not to know. 

 

     Q:  You do not know? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  No. 

 

     Q:  And you wouldn't know how we got it? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  I don't know. 

 

     Q:  But you don't doubt General Franks? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  I don't doubt General Franks at all.  He's doing a terrific job.  He's an enormously talented general officer, and he and his team deserve just a wonderful credit for the job they've done and for the way they've led these fine young men and women in uniform. 

 

     Q:  Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, our troops are in Tikrit as we speak this morning. 

 

     Rumsfeld:  They are. 

 

     Q:  What kind of resistance are we meeting? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Very little.  Apparently an awful lot of the people there have fled, and there are people who do not have a lot of admiration for the Baathist regime that are there who are helping. 

 

     Q:  Even in his hometown? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Mmm-hmm.  Mmm-hmm.  (Affirming.)

 

     Q:  It's somewhat ironic that when we went into southern Iraq, which we thought we would be welcomed much more -- much better than we were -- the Fedayeen and others put up some resistance, and the conventional wisdom that once we got north to Baghdad, and God forbid Tikrit, the elite Republican Guard would dig in and fight to the last man.  It just hasn't happened. 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Well, there are layers of security forces.  They're with the regular army -- never considered to be terribly loyal to Saddam Hussein's regime.  The Republican Guard, the more elite group, they took a lot of punishment from the air.  And by the time the fighting came they had pretty much pulled down from the north and up from the south in the Tikrit Baghdad area.  And they had some fight in them, but the air power was overwhelming for them.  And then there were some battles on the ground.  And then they dissipated and left. 

 

     Then there's the SSO, and then there are these so-called Fedayeen Saddam people that are a bit more fanatical.  But what's left is still in that area in Baghdad.  And then there's some foreign fighters.  We have been finding people from other countries engaged in battles, most recently in Baghdad over the last 24 hours. 

 

     Q:  From where? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Some are from Syria -- the largest number I think from Syria.  We've seen them coming in.  They were bringing busloads in for a while.  We turned busloads back. 

 

     Q:  Now, you have warned the Syrians several times -- one, about shipping night goggles to the Iraqi forces.  Did we find any night goggles in Iraq? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Oh, yes, we found night goggles in Iraq. 

 

     Q:  And you warned the Syrians about harboring members of Saddam's regime.  Can you confirm that members of Saddam's regime fled to Syria? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Oh, there's no question but that they did -- absolutely. 

 

     Q:  Including --

 

     Rumsfeld:  Some left and went to Syria and stayed, and some have left Iraq, gone to Syria and transitted to other countries. 

 

     Q:  Dr. Germ and Mrs. Anthrax were reported to have fled to Syria.  Do you have any information on that? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Nothing that I want to discuss about individuals. 

 

     Q:  Also suggestions that Syria is harboring terrorists -- Hamas, Hezbollah, others.  Is that your view? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Oh, Syria has been on the terrorist list for years.  They are -- have worked with Iran and been a transit route for the Hezbollah down to Damascus down to Beirut, which they still occupy, Lebanon, Syria does, and then down towards Israel.  That's been the route, through the Bekaa Valley and -- no, they've been a very active sponsor of terrorism. 

 

     Q:  What happens if Syria doesn't change their behavior? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Oh, that's above my pay grade.  Those are the kinds of things that countries and presidents decide.  That's broad national policy.  I am a participant, but I am certainly not a decider. 

 

     Q:  But could they be risking the future of their government? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Well, I guess to a certain extent you are known by your friends, and being on the terrorist list is not someplace I want to be, if I were a country or a leader of a country.  I don't quite understand a country that forgoes the economic opportunity that comes from interaction with the world community and the opportunities for their people by creating an environment that's hospitable to enterprise and to economic intercourse, why they want to live like that, why they want to think that the only way to sustain their dictatorships is to repress people and to deny them the fruits of economic interaction with the world.  I think it's a shame.  I don't know what motivates people except preservation of a regime.  You look at dictatorships, and basically they get up in the morning, and the single most important thing is not looking out for their people.  It's how do we preserve the regime?  How do we continue our ability to control everything and repress everyone, and control the press and deny freedom of religion, and enlarge our prisons, and force people in the case of other countries to live on subsistence food.  I don't get it. 

 

     Q:  Is there a lesson for Syria as to what happened in Iraq? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Well, I think -- we've got a lot of work left to do in Iraq.  When you say "happened," it's still happening.  We still have fighting to do.  There's -- our troops are still being killed and wounded, and God bless them.  They're doing such a wonderful job.  We then have to make this transition to -- through this period of some disorder to a period of order.  And the opportunity for the Iraqi people to fashion their future.  And it's not going to be the United States that's going to be fashioning their future.  They're going to fashion their future.  And they have an opportunity here to be liberated, be free, and fashion an Iraqi solution to how they want to live their lives.  And that's a wonderful thing. 

 

     Q:  I want to get to that.  One last question on Saddam Hussein.  How important is it that we capture Saddam or find his body so that the people of Iraq know that he is gone forever and cannot be in the Hustings with his Republican Guards living underground, plotting a return? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Well, I mean from my standpoint I have trouble -- we know he's not running that country.  He was, and he isn't.  So that is an enormous accomplishment. 

 

     That regime is --

 

     Q:  Is history forever? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  That's such a long time.  No, I --

 

     Q:  But Iraqis are concerned that he still might be out there looming and plotting and waiting to come back? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Oh, no, no, no.  He either is dead or he is going to be caught, and we'll find him.  The world will find him.  He's not a person that has a lot of friends -- in the Arab world or anywhere else, and we'll find him. 

 

     Q:  Let me turn to the situation, the nonmilitary situation if you will, in Iraq, and that is the whole issue of looting.  This is the scene with the Museum of Antiquities, which housed treasures dating back thousands and thousands of years from the beginning of civilization, and it was ransacked and destroyed -- about 175,000 items.  The head of the museum, "Our heritage is finished."  What happened there?   How did we allow that museum to be looted? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  How did we allow?  Now, that's really a wonderful, amazing statement. 

 

     Q:  No, how were we --

 

     Rumsfeld:  No, let me just say a word here. 

 

     Q:  Wait, well --

 

     Rumsfeld:  Wait a minute, wait a minute. 

 

     Q:  No, let me be precise, because it's an important point --

 

     Rumsfeld:  But we didn't allow it.  It happened.  And that's what happens when you go from a dictatorship with repressed order, police state to something that is going to be different.  There's a transition period, and no one is control.  There are periods where -- we're still fighting in Baghdad.  We don't allow bad things to happen.  Bad things do happen in life, and people do loot.  We've seen that in the United States.  It's happened in every country.  It's a shame when it happens.  I'll bet you anything that if they -- when order is restored and we have a more permissive environment that there will be opportunities to ask people to return some of those things that were taken.  We have already found people returning supplies to hospitals. 

 

     Q:  What the heads of the museums will say is that they actually ask for the U.S. to help protect it, and that the U.S. declined.  Is that accurate? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Oh, my goodness.  Look, I have no idea.  We've got troops on the ground, who do you know who we asked and whether his assignment at that moment was to guard a hospital instead -- those kinds of things are so anecdotal, and it always breaks your heart to see destruction of things.  But --

 

     Q:  The Red Cross said hospitals were also looted.  Does that surprise you?  I mean, it's one thing for the Iraqis to ransack, loot Saddam's palaces and steal his faucets.  It's quite another to loot their own museum and their own hospitals.  Did that surprise you? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Surprise me?  I don't -- disorder happens every time there's a transition.  We saw it in Eastern European countries when they move from the communist system to a free system.  We've seen it in Los Angeles here in our own country.  We've seen it in Detroit, we've seen it in city after city when there was a difficulty.  And it always breaks your heart.  You're always sorry to see it, and it isn't something that someone allows or doesn't allow.  It's something that happens.  We know there are people -- there are people who do bad things.  There are people who steal from hospitals in the United States.  So does it surprise me that people went into a hospital and did something?  I guess it doesn't surprise me.  It's a shame, it's too bad, and we're trying to get medical supplies in to those hospitals that were robbed, and we are doing it, and we are having good success at it. 

 

     Q:  Earlier this morning I spoke with Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress who is on the ground in Iraq, and asked him about looting and what his own people could do about it.  Let's just listen: 

 

     (Begin videoclip.)

 

     Q:  What can be done to stop the Iraqis from looting their own country? 

 

     Chalabi:  Iraq has been a country devastated by Saddam Hussein.  Civil society is destroyed.  Thirty-five years of oppression, it's understandable that people are angry and they are doing such acts.  Immediately free Iraqi forces must be deployed in Baghdad and other parts of the country so that the looting will be stopped in complete coordination with the U.S.

 

     (End videoclip.)

 

     Q:  Free Iraqi forces?  Are there enough of them to be distributed around the country to help U.S. troops stop the looting and restore order to Iraq? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Well, what -- there's a combination of things.  There are U.S. and British and Polish and other countries' forces that are in the country.  And as they create a presence, we find that the local people come forward and start assisting and cooperating, and policemen come back to work.  Medical workers come back to work.  The firemen are coming back to work.  And in some cases they are engaging in joint patrols with the people from that village or that city, and that's a good thing.  It is the presence of coalition forces that give people enough confidence that there is going to be order there to allow the local people to come up and say, Well, let's get our arms around this and get it going.  Clerics are coming out and urging people not to loot and not to engage in destruction.  And every hour that goes by it's getting better and more peaceful and more orderly in that country. 

 

     There are also in some cases Kurds, in some cases Shi'a, in some cases free Iraqi forces that are participating in this, and that's a good thing that they are able to do that. 

 

     Q:  Some ministries were burnt, probably some interesting records in there about Saddam Hussein and his regime.  Do you suspect that some pro-Saddam folks may have burned those ministries and destroyed those records? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  I think that's likely.  There's no question but that one of the things we're most interested is in the records.  We want to see where things are and who's who.  Who are the people that are going to potentially pose the problem for the new Iraqi government as it's formed?  And we are looking for Baath Party records and that type of thing.  There's -- certainly the intelligence services ministry and some of the ministries of defense and special Republican Guard and those groups -- I don't doubt for a minute that people did not want that information known. 

 

     Q:  The regime is gone, and yet last Wednesday there was still enough communication where they were all able to call in sick.  The information minister, who was making a fool of himself -- but a lot of other minders -- they all decided not to show up to work on the same morning.  Is there still some communication structure in place for the Saddam regime? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Oh, I think -- I think you have got to assume that there were sufficient redundant systems, including couriers -- you know, telephone couriers, wires, cable, short-wave.  There are all kinds of ways people can communicate.  So the fascinating thing to me -- you said the minister of information was making a fool of himself.  And it does look foolish to stand in Baghdad and say that there's no Americans in Baghdad, when everyone is looking at the split screen seeing that there are Americans in Baghdad. 

 

     Q:  He said Americans --

 

     Rumsfeld:  He said Americans are not at the airport.  I will take you there. 

 

     Q:  Right. 

 

     Rumsfeld:  The journalists said, Take us there.  He said, I can't do it right now. 

 

     Q:  The thing that surprises me is not that.  What surprises me is that people are surprised.  He's been lying like that for years -- over and over -- and the media carries it as though it's true.  It's been happening a month ago, two months ago, three months ago.  He's been lying exactly the same way.  And yet it's been carried and transmitted across the globe as though it were true.  It's only when people had split screens and could see it that they finally said, Oh, my goodness, this fellow lies.  Isn't that amazing?  There's gambling in the casino. 

 

     Q:  Let me talk about where we go from here.  Again, I talked to Ahmad Chalabi about the future of Iraq, the Iraqi interim authority.  Let's watch and listen to that and come back and talk about it. 

 

     (Begin videoclip.)

 

     Q:  How long do you think it will be before the Iraqis will be able to set up a new government? 

 

     Chalabi:  Very quickly.  We are -- General Garner now is doing a great job.  He's in touch with us.  He's come to Iraq.  He will start working very soon, and he will -- after he finishes his job of restoring basic services, the interim Iraqi authority will be established, and that in interim authority will be an authority of Iraq, chosen by Iraqis, and it will be able to function as an authority in the country immediately after General Garner's job is finished, which should be only a few weeks. 

 

     Q:  So you believe that General Garner's job will be finished in a few weeks, and then the Americans can leave? 

 

     Chalabi:  Americans -- I am not saying the Americans can leave.  I am saying that the Iraqi interim authority will be able to function as the U.S. planned to have General Garner finish quickly, and that is the decision of the U.S. government.  And their government also has decided to support the establishment of the Iraqi interim authority.  We are happy about that, and we will work to do so.  The interim authority will draft a constitution, put it to public referendum.  Once the constitution is approved, we will have free elections and there will be a freely democratically elected government.  This process should be under two years, and I think the U.S. forces should remain in Iraq until the first democratic government is installed in Baghdad. 

 

     Q:  What role would you like to play in any new government? 

 

     Chalabi:  I am not a candidate for any government position in Iraq now. 

 

     Q:  But if you were asked to run, to be the new leader of Iraq, would you accept? 

 

     Chalabi:  It's not about me personally.  I do not want to answer this hypothetical question.  It is not important to be a government position to serve Iraq.  It is very important to be devoted, to be with the people in their hour of trial. 

 

     (End videoclip.)

 

     Q:  That timetable that General Garner will have an interim government in place in a few weeks -- would you think that's a pretty good time table? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Jay Garner is doing an excellent job.  His title is "civil administrator."  He is working to see that the country begins to supply the medical needs of the people, the food needs, the water needs.  And the overall authority at the present time obviously is General Franks.  And the task is to create an environment that is sufficiently permissive, that the Iraqi people can fashion a new government.  And what they will do is come together in one way or another and select an interim authority of some kind.  Then they -- that group will propose a constitution and a more permanent authority of some kind, and over some period of months the Iraqis will have their government selected by Iraqi people.  At the present time the war is still going on, and it's a little premature to be setting timetables and dates.  I just don't know.  The first task is to win the war and eliminate the pockets of resistance.  The second task is to see that these basic needs are met and that order is restored, and then to get the Iraqi people to think through exactly what kind of a model they want to select their own government. 

 

     Q:  Let me show you some comments by a man you know well, Brent Scowcroft, who was former President Bush's national security advisor.  He said this:  "I'm a skeptic about the ability to transform Iraq into a democracy in any realistic period of time.  What's likely to happen is that the meanest, toughest ones will rise to the top, at least for a couple of generations."  And then Scowcroft went on to say this, and let me add this:  "What's going to happen the first time we hold an election in Iraq, and it turns out the radicals win?  What do you do you do?  We're surely not going to let them take over." 

 

     It's interesting theory that if in fact Iraq has a democracy and people come together and vote they may vote for someone that we may not particularly like.  Turkey, modern Islamic state, wouldn't allow us to base troops there.  Could we get a government in Iraq that is not to our liking, and would we allow that to happen? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  The basic principles that President Bush has properly put forward are these:  that the Saddam Hussein regime has to go, that the new Iraqi government, whatever it is, be selected by the Iraqi people; that it not have weapons of mass destruction; that it not threaten its neighbors; that it be a single country, and that the people of that country be free to put themselves on some kind of a path toward a representative system that protects the rights of the minorities and the ethnic groups in that country. 

 

     Now, the people who will be participating in that process will be people who generally subscribe to those principles.  They will not be the Baathist Party people.  They will not be the Fedayeen Saddam people.  They will not be the leftovers from Saddam Hussein, and they will not be people who have committed war crimes and the like.  I am not as smart -- smart enough to know how many generations it takes.  I do have a lot of confidence in people.  I mean, I've watched the American people over this past period of two years, and the American people have a good center of gravity.  They get what's going on in the world.  I think people in many countries -- people said the Japanese couldn't have a democratic system.  People said the Nazis couldn't be replaced with a democratic system.  I think people basically want to be free, and they recognize that the way to do that is to participate in a system where you get something, freedom, and you give up something, because you participate in a -- you know, you give up the right to go around killing people, you give up the right to use violence to settle your scores.  Is someone smart enough to know that the Iraqis are for whatever reason unique on the face of the Earth, that they are not capable of living in a free system?  I don't know that.  I'm hopeful that's wrong. 

 

     Q:  But there are suggestions that there were free elections in Jordan or Saudi Arabia, and Osama bin Laden's name was on the ballot, he would be a very popular candidate.  How do you prevent that from happening in Iraq? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  I -- I guess it does take time.  And it takes information.  It takes free press, and it takes free discussion.  And if you have a system where that has been denied for a long period of time, it is quite true that people end up not understanding what really are the facts.  And to the extent they are lied to repeatedly, over and over and over again, and people are put in jail for having differing views, it's not surprising that they end up thinking things that aren't true. 

 

     Now, how do you get from there to here?  It takes some time.  Brent's right in that regard.  But I think the solution to the problem is the freedom to talk, and the freedom to speak, and the freedom to discuss, and the freedom to make mistakes.   I mean, look at the mistakes we've made in our own country. 

 

     Q:  Let me refer you to some comments made by Jim Woolsey, the former head of the CIA, and ask you to respond to them.  "We are now engaged in World War IV."  Woolsey described the Cold War as the Third World War, and said this Fourth World War could last for some time.  He said, "The new war is actually against three enemies:  the religious rulers of Iran, the fascists of Iraq and Syria, and Islamic extremists like Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network. 

 

     Do you concur with that? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Oh, I don't think I'd put it that way.  It seems to me that the Cold War was a war, and it was a difficult period for people.  It required us to be patient.  It required us to invest when there wasn't an immediate threat that you could see at your doorstep.  And it took successive generations and successive presidents of both political parties to have the stamina and the will and the foresight to resist the expansion of the Soviet Union and communism on this globe, and it was a good thing, and we won it.  And we won it with patience and perseverance.  I think we are in a new period, and it is a different period.  It's not so much the threat of conflict by states, but it is -- the danger is real, and the danger is that there are weapons that can kill tens of thousands of people -- hundreds of thousands of people -- that are increasingly available across the globe.  And there are states and terrorist networks that seek those, have those, and intend to use those capabilities.  And that poses a problem for people who want to be free, because free people are vulnerable to terrorists.  We can't defend at any moment against every possible person we see.  We can't live in fear constantly.  So we have to go out and find those networks, as the president has said since September 11th.  And we're doing a good job at it.  We're arresting people all across the globe -- I say we -- I say this large coalition of countries. 

 

     Q:  There are some suggestions that there's a checklist, that if Syria, Iran, North Korea does not get rid of their weapons of mass destruction that they could very well meet the same fate as Iraq at the hands of the United States? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  I -- you know, war is the last choice always, and I have no idea how the world is going to roll out over the coming period.  But my hope and my prayer is that countries will not continue to seek to acquire chemical and biological and nuclear weapons. 

 

     Q:  And if they do? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  And that's for others to decide.  I'm secretary of Defense of the United States.  My job is to be prepared and have organized and train and equip people who are prepared to defend our country. 

 

     Q:  What about a country like Cuba which has just executed some political prisoners, major crackdown over the last few weeks?  Would we ever consider trying to liberate the people of Cuba? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  American people tend to want to go about their lives as free people.  What we want to do is -- we care about the people of Cuba, who are repressed in a dictatorship, who people are imprisoned and killed and denied rights to speak their minds.  And that's sad.  It's unfortunate.  But the American people for the most part are people who want to go about their business.  And we recognize we can't try to make everyone in the world be like we are.  We hope they have freedom, and we hope they have the opportunity to say what they want and practice freedom of religion and freedom of speech, freedom of assembly.  But we recognize in a complicated world that there are countries that live differently.  And so it isn't a matter for the United States to try to have everyone else be like us. 

 

     Q:  But if they have weapons of mass destruction, that's a different matter? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  But, but -- but to the extent our country is threatened or our people are threatened, and the president and the government -- that's the first responsibility of government, is to see the protection -- the security of our country. 

 

     Q:  Colin Powell had a doctrine that -- the use of overwhelming force in any military situation.  This particular war seemed focused around -- and we talked about this before -- speed, flexibility and use of intelligence data real-time.  Has speed, real- time intelligence, flexibility, the Rumsfeld doctrine, replaced the Colin Powell doctrine of overwhelming force in 2003? 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Well, first, I don't think there was a Powell doctrine.  I think it was Cap Weinberger who fashioned that list, and it evolved over and became called the Powell Doctrine.  But my recollection is it was Cap Weinberger's doctrine.  And, second, it certainly is -- I wouldn't call it a Rumsfeld doctrine.  I think it's the law of physics.  In this case speed was more important than mass.  And in fact the plan that General Franks and his team and the president and the National Security Council and I all were involved in, worked, and it worked brilliantly.  And General Franks deserves a lot of credit, and his wonderful team of people -- Tim Keating and General Mosely and General McKiernan and the people who implemented it.  What they did by starting the ground war first, instead of a long air war, they avoided an enormous amount of innocent people being killed and collateral damage.  They -- the surprise of it -- we had no strategic surprise, but we gained tactical surprise by having the ground war start ahead of the air war.  Everyone was expecting an air war.  No one believed that he would start the ground war without the 4th Infantry Division, which was still up in the Mediterranean waiting to come in through Turkey.  And the effect of it was that the oil fields were not burned, there are not masses of refugees, there are not masses of internally displaced people, there was not massive collateral damage.  The neighboring countries were not hit with Scuds and ballistic missiles, because of the speed which General Franks and his team -- the Marines and the 3rd Infantry Division and the British forces in the south -- what they did was accomplish a victory here, an achievement, an accomplishment in a relatively short period of time -- what has it been?  Three plus weeks is all -- in a way that preserved that country for the Iraqi people, and preserved the oil wells.  Think of the environmental disaster when Saddam Hussein's crowd burned all the oil wells in Kuwait.  It was just a terrible thing that happened.  So I think that speed will be seen when this is over, and will be written about by military historians.  Speed will be seen as having achieved a lot in this instance. 

 

     Q:  And before we go, Mr. Secretary, I am just being told in my earpiece that Saddam's half brother has just been captured, another one of the 55. 

 

     Rumsfeld:  There are a couple more in there that I think aren't around. 

 

     Q:  And we will be watching.  We thank you for joining us with your views today. 

 

     Rumsfeld:  Thank you. 

 

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