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Secretary Rumsfeld Media Stakeout after Fox Interview

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
March 28, 2004
Secretary Rumsfeld Media Stakeout after Fox Interview

            Q:  Good morning.

 

            ALL:    Good morning.

 

            Rumsfeld:  Hello folks.

 

            Q:   You seem to be in a very cheerful mood this morning Mr. Secretary.

 

            Rumsfeld:   You bet. 

 

Q:   (inaudible) Mr. Secretary, do you have any thoughts on what possibly could be motivating Mr. Clarke as to the statement that he has? 

 

Rumsfeld:   I don’t.  I don’t know him

 

            Q:  Mr. Secretary, there’s a (inaudible) about U.S. training Iraq leaders to create a civilian front (inaudible).  What does the Defense Department look like and what can be expected from it?

 

Rumsfeld:  Well, it’s in formation and we have spent a lot of time with the Iraqi Governing Council and the ministers discussing it and not just the United States, but also the United Kingdom and other countries that are in the coalition have also participated.  And they now have a template or a sketch of what they think it ought to look like -- it would be civilian-led -- and it will be in the process of standing up over the coming weeks and months.  One would anticipate that it would be ready, at that point, where sovereignty passed.  In the early stages, it’ll be relatively small in the sense that its army is just now in formation.  But it’s a good thing and it’ll, I’m sure, serve them well over the years.

 

Q:   Mr. Secretary, (inaudible) Pentagon (inaudible) supports training in Iraq (inaudible)?

 

            Rumsfeld:  Yes. 

 

Q:   Can you talk more about the (inaudible) process and who is handling the training here in the U.S.?

 

            Rumsfeld:  Well, what has happened is they have decided to bring over a group here and they have had -- I believe one day I was going out of the building and I shook hands with about 50 of them – 40 of them, I think, and they were on their way over to the National Defense University and were going through various classes and what have you. 

 

But it would be the obvious things that a civilian-led government -- as opposed to an Iraqi-Saddam Hussein government -- a civilian-led government, how the interaction would be between the Department of Defense and the civilian leadership.  And how the interaction would be between the civilian leadership of the Department of Defense in Iraq and the military officials and which elements of security forces would or would not be a part of each ministry.  For example, the intelligence function would logically be under the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.  The Ministry of Defense, conversely, would logically be the place where the Army would report through and where the current civil defense – Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. would report through. 

 

            Yes?

 

Q:   Mr. Secretary (inaudible) violence (inaudible) this week.  (Inaudible) of the Israeli decision to assassinate Ahmed Yassin? Any concerns that of that conflict entering into Iraq? And what’s your take on if Ayman al-Zawahiri still alive and (inaudible)?

 

            (Laughter)

 

            Rumsfeld:  You know, I know there are things I don’t know and some of those things you’ve been asking me about, I know I don’t know.  I think the idea that we can attribute an act of violence in one country to some act in another country is a bit of a stretch.  I just don’t know what the interaction is.  I know people try to connect things like that, but I’m just not in the position to …

 

Q:   (inaudible)

 

            Rumsfeld:  … to validate that.  I’m always concerned.  I’m always concerned about the potential for violence and innocent people being killed.  And for the most part, the people being killed in Iraq are innocent people -- they’re civilians. 

 

And in recent months, the people being killed – most of the people are being killed are people who are involved with the Iraqi Security Forces – the policemen and the site protection people.  And they have been doing a very good job.  They’ve been out in front and they’ve been contributing to the security of the country and, regrettably, a number of them had been killed, just as a number of the coalition forces have been killed. 

 

            Q: 

 

            Rumsfeld:  He’s a person that ought not to be out loose.  He’s a killer, he’s a terrorist, he is a person who is helping facilitate and train and finance people that kill innocent men, women and children.  And that’s not a terribly civilized thing to do and an awful lot of folks in the world would like to see it stopped. 

 

Q:   Mr. Secretary, given the international terrorism seem, if anything, to be on the increase.  It’s certainly just as rampant in the last couple of years.  And given that coalition forces are being attacked and are being killed almost on a daily basis in Iraq, do you look back at all and ever harbor any doubts about the way that this administration has handled the events of the last couple of years? 

 

            Rumsfeld:  Well, one always is constantly looking for lessons learned and how one might do something better.  I think the thrust of the question ignores the biggest single reality that exists and that is that the United States was going about its business on September 11th in 2001 and it was attacked and 3,000 Americans were killed.  Now, people from other countries were killed -- men and women and children, people from all walks of life, people from different faiths.  They were killed.  The United States had done nothing. 

 

And the thrust of your question is, oh, well, if you had done something different, maybe something else would have changed.  This country was attacked.  It was the worst attack in the history of our nation.  And you’ve got a choice at that point.  You can say, well, maybe if we don’t do anything about that, maybe they’ll go away.  Maybe those terrible people will not do it again.  Well, what nonsense, they’d already done – attacked the U.S.S. Cole.  They had already attacked Khobar Towers.  They had already attacked the United States – terrorists had an airliner and PanAm flight. 

 

And throughout history, there have been people who follow that philosophy who said, gee, maybe if I just turn my head, they won’t hurt me.  Maybe they’ll hurt somebody else, instead of me and that’s a good thing, they think.  Well, it’s not a good thing.  These people are going around systematically trying to kill innocent people all across the globe and they ought not to be allowed to do it.  And any suggestion that if you go after them, because they are doing it you, in fact, would be better off, if you hadn’t done that is utter nonsense.

 

Q:   I wasn’t suggesting, Mr. Secretary, you should have done nothing.  I was asking whether you thought you should have done things different? 

 

            Rumsfeld:  And I answered it my way and you asked it your way. 

 

            Unknown:  Thanks a lot, folks. 

 

Q:   Thank you.

 

Rumsfeld:  You bet. 

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