Secretary Rumsfeld Stakeout following U.S. House of Representatives Classified Ops-Intel Brief
REP. HUNTER: Hi. Good afternoon. Hi. I’m Congressman Hunter here. We just had an excellent briefing for all of the members of the House conference and we had an excellent briefing by Secretary Rumsfeld and the entire team, including, you know, Gen. Myers and Gen. Abizaid, head of CENTCOM, and we talked. And we also had Ambassador Negroponte, our Ambassador to Iraq. And we walked through a series of questions that covered everything from the equipment for our soldiers to the politics of the region to the state of the operation in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
And Mr. Secretary, thank you for being with us and taking this full gamut of questions today. Also Secretary Armitage was very graciously here and answered lots of questions. I think we had an excellent and very instructive session.
And Mr. Secretary, do you have anything you’d like to say?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don’t. If you have a question, we’ve got Deputy Secretary Armitage.
REP. HUNTER: OK. We’ll get.
SEC. RUMSFELD: And John Abizaid here.
REP. HUNTER: And we’re talking all questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary, the Senate has just confirmed Porter Goss to be the new CIA Director…
SEC. RUMSFELD: Good!
Q: When will you meet with him?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I generally have lunch every Friday with the CIA director. We’ve been doing that for 3½ years with George Tenet and we’ve already got an invitation out to Porter Goss. As a matter of fact, I met with him – what day is today, Wednesday, Thursday – Wednesday. I met with Porter, I think, Monday or Friday last week already. Well, we’re delighted they are moving on him.
Q: Mr. Secretary, what’s your opinion of the [Inaudible] CIA report that [Inaudible].
SEC. RUMSFELD: Here’s the man who answers that question.
ARMITAGE: I think your referring to the one that came out in the press. It was in the summer sometime. It was…
Q: [Inaudible] The New York Times.
ARMITAGE: It was just reported in The New York Times. It came out in the summer… earlier. It was, it looked to me, like the normal bureaucratic approach to a problem. You take a worst-case, a middle case and sort of the best assumptions. And all three were covered in the intelligence. And it seems to me that the worst case called for a confluence of events that were pretty catastrophic. And it looks to me like we’re a long way away from that and that was a little bit on the alarmist side, and it doesn’t need to be.
Q: General Myers, [Inaudible] training up the Iraqi forces before the election [Inaudible].
GENERAL MYERS: In Iraq or in Afghanistan?
Q: No, in Iraq.
GENERAL MYERS: I’ll let Gen. Abizaid – Abizaid [Inaudible] on that.
GEN. ABIZAID: Well, thanks very much. It’s pretty much an effort that is designed to build Iraqi security capacity as our first priority. We’re working very hard to do that. We’re seeing more and more of capacity building in terms of numbers, also in terms of quality. It’s ultimately Iraqi security forces that will win this fight and we’re doing everything we can to assist them. And in terms of our own force numbers, we’re comfortable with where we are now. If we need more, we’ll come to the secretary and ask for more. But over time as Iraqi security builds -- capacity builds, we’ll look to bring our numbers down, if it makes sense militarily.
GEN. ABIZAID: Well, we sent an additional battalion to Afghanistan, so we have more flexibility militarily. We’ll look at every situation as the facts on the ground dictate. We think that a combination of Iraqi forces that are being built and our own forces that are currently there will be able to handle the security situation, as it will most likely exist in January. But as you always know, the enemy has a vote.
REP. HUNTER: Any other questions?
Q: I have a clarification question.
REP. HUNTER: Remember you got two on this one.
GEN. ABIZAID: Go right ahead.
Q: It’s getting closer to the election and some democrats are talking about [Inaudible] national security [Inaudible] and you have one democrat saying that General Shinseki was fired for saying that number of forces needed in Iraq was higher than what the Administration was predicting at that time. Could you clarify what happened with that?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Sure. I’ll have a go at it and then Gen. Myers might want to. First of all, he was never fired. And the newspapers that repeat that month after month after month are wrong, in accurate, unreliable, irresponsible, I can think of a few more adjectives – egregious. Yeah. But it’s a myth. He was never fired. He served out his full term. Fact number one. Second, my recollection is that he was a before a committee. He was pressed over and over again, “Well, how many troops do you think it’ll take if you did go to Iraq, or for the postwar part of Iraq.” And I think he finally said something in defense that, “Well, it might take the same number it would take to defeat Iraq.” And they said, “Well, how many is that?” And he said, “Well, maybe several hundred thousand.” Well, several hundred thousand is 3[00,000] or 4[00,000] hundred thousand.
It turns out that he was high in terms of what Gen. Franks decided he needed and what the joint chiefs recommended and what I approved because it took about closer to 150,000 in country as I recall, and another 40 or 50 or 60,000 in Kuwait. Is that about right? So it was about 200-plus thousand to do the job.
On the other hand, he was right that it took about that same number, post-major combat operations, because we now have about 138,000 and it took 150,000 in-country and we have additional forces in Kuwait today, just as we did in the combat operation. So he was right in the sense that it took about the same amount. It was wrong because he ended up a little high over what Gen. Franks wanted.
Gen. Myers who is the chairman of the chiefs, he is the individual who met with the chiefs and reviewed what numbers were needed. And the numbers that were provided were the numbers that were asked for by the combatant commander. There is no mystery about it. Nobody turned them down. Nobody said it should be a smaller number. And the people who were running around the world saying that simply are wrong, and they’ve told they’re wrong and it is amazes me why they would keep saying it? Do you want to comment briefly?
GENERAL MYERS: I don’t know what there is that’s left to say [Inaudible]
SEC. RUMSFELD: You know some other adjectives. You were with Gen. Franks, right?
REP. HUNTER: One last question. Yes, sir.
Q: General Abizaid, [Inaudible]
GENERAL ABIZAID: I think we will need more troops than we currently have to secure the elections process in Iraq that will probably take place in the end of January. But it is our belief that those troops will be Iraqi troops. And they may be additional international troops that arrive to help out as well as part of the United Nations’ mission. And so I don’t foresee a need for more American troops, but we can’t discount it.
SEC. RUMSFELD: We’re going to excuse ourselves.
UNKNOWN: Thank you.
REP. HUNTER: Gentlemen, thank you. And folks, thanks for being with us today. Appreciate it.