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Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with Waukegan News Service

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
November 21, 2001

Friday, November 16, 2001

(Interview with Waukegan News Service, Chicago)

Q: -- some sort of a briefing on anthrax today?

Rumsfeld: (inaudible). Not so much on anthrax as on ways to deal with anthrax. But (inaudible) very small portion of (inaudible).

Q: -- like who's doing it and --

Rumsfeld: It was in the general element of the medical portion here at Great Lakes, and an individual indicated there was some work being done on not just anthrax but a whole host of possible problems, smallpox and various other things. They're looking at convenient methods of delivery of antidotes. (inaudible) try to find (inaudible) quick response, knowledge quickly as to whether or not you have one or more of these things. They're (inaudible) electronic equipment that (inaudible) the kind of thing that normally is done (inaudible) and allows a person to get a very quick read as to whether or not (inaudible).

The other thing, some of these things require (inaudible) swab (inaudible) develop different ways of getting what it is you would get on the swab. (inaudible) scrape it out. But it's (inaudible).

Q: Did the hospital (inaudible)?

Staff: It was Captain Raigan is the one who did the briefing.

Rumsfeld: -- going on here so it can benefit the entire country.

Q: Mr. Secretary, why did you decide to come to the Midwest?

Rumsfeld: I just think it's fabulous (inaudible) what they're doing. Were you out there?

Q: Yes.

Rumsfeld: Did you see her face?

Q: Yes, amazing.

Rumsfeld: About nine and a half weeks, they walk in with (inaudible) with green hair down to their elbows and they come out of there, and don't quote me. (Laughter) I've seen some with purple hair. But, they arrive and they get off the bus and nine and a half weeks later they're a part of something that is big and important and they feel very proud of it and they've accomplished (inaudible).

Q: Does it make you feel confident when you see the way they look here --

Rumsfeld: You bet your life. Of course I'm from Chicago, from (inaudible), and know a good deal of Great Lakes.

Q: Do you still have any links here? Family? You've got a home here?

Rumsfeld: I did until I had to go to Washington. But I (inaudible) office in the Rigley Building. I was with them downtown, right near (inaudible) Park, about a block from the Cardinals out there, North Face Parkway and Schilling.

Q: Are there any family members --

Rumsfeld: I'm going to go see my wife's mom this afternoon. She's in a nursing home here. My sister lives here. My folks are gone. I have a daughter here, three grandchildren.

Q: Is that all?

Rumsfeld: It's my home. Chicago's my home.

Q: Is it important for you to be in the Midwest? Or how (inaudible) the President and everyone seems to have been pretty much out east. I mean everyone consistently says you need America behind you. How important is it for someone like you to be in the Midwest? Do you feel like that translates to the guy in the suburbs or something? Makes them feel like they're part of the effort?

Rumsfeld: I hadn't thought of it that way. I guess I come back here mostly for myself. It makes me feel good.

Q: (inaudible) high stress job right now. Does this recharge the battery?

Rumsfeld: For sure. I get to see friends, and I'll have dinner tonight with my grandchildren.

Q: Have you been out of Washington since the 11th?

Rumsfeld: I have. I was in, in three days I was in Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, India and [Italy].

Q: (inaudible) report or something out of Iran that bin Laden allegedly could be in Pakistan. How does that complicate the war effort or (inaudible) an ally?

Rumsfeld: It started out complicated. This is not an easy job. There's no road map. It's never been done before. We simply have a task that is unlike any other. Normally we go find an army and beat it or a navy and sink it or an air force and shoot it down, but these people don't have those things and therefore you have to go find them. That's different than (inaudible) battleship and an airplane and a person. So we have to just hunt them down.

We've been freezing the real estate that they are free to operate on in Afghanistan now for seven or eight weeks. We've got to just keep putting pressure on them and forcing them to move and killing their aides and associates and making people feel that it's not healthy to be around them. Complicating their communications.

Q: If he leaves Afghanistan does he become priority one then?

Rumsfeld: The network is. Let me make it clear, the [goal] is to pull up these terrorist networks around the world and stop countries from harboring those folks. That means in Afghanistan, you have to deal with the al Qaeda and either kill them or capture them and stop them. It means that with respect to the Taliban, the ones that have been harboring them, we've got to stop them from doing it and make Afghanistan a place that's no longer a place where terrorists get trained and go for R&R.

Q: Do you suspect that if the Taliban falls quickly, as it appears to be happening now, there will be sort of a level of continued resistance by the al Qaeda forces?

Rumsfeld: Sure. There's a whole group of them that fight in the al Qaeda (inaudible). They may fade into the countryside and fade back some day. They may slip over the Pakistan border and slip back some day. It is (inaudible) any way anyone can keep people from going across (inaudible). It's like trying to seal the Canadian border. You can't do that. Logging roads. Animals run back and forth, people go back and forth.

Q: Have you altered any of your views about (inaudible) since this happened? (Inaudible) bring a nuclear bomb in a suitcase across the border and it's not going to be shot down by anti-missile missiles. And things like the World Trade Center can happen even if we had (inaudible). Have you altered your views on this at all?

Rumsfeld: No. I think what we have concluded and what the country essentially concluded was that the Gulf War, it was pretty clear that countries that would want to oppose us are not going to oppose us conventionally. They're not going to develop (inaudible) air force. What they're going to do is they're going to look for symmetrical ways to deal with the West, the United States, Japan, any of these countries, (inaudible) countries. The way they do that is through either terrorism or ballistic missiles or cruise missiles or prospectively cyber attacks. They take the things that we have and use our technology and our openness, as we say, (inaudible) free societies and people can move back and forth and use that against us -- weapons of mass destruction on ballistic missiles or cruise missiles or in terrorist attacks.

They're terribly dangerous. Whereas before what we had been worried about was about terrorist attacks and asymmetrical attacks any time, today it isn't a matter of having to worry about them, it's a matter of recognizing that (inaudible) countries that have harbored terrorists and been around the (inaudible) do have weapons of mass destruction. They do have biological (inaudible). They are actively seeking (inaudible) weapon. And they're perfectly willing to use them.

It is quite true that they can deliver them in a variety of different ways. The problem remains the same.

One thing to remember about terror is that terror does not have to be used. It only has to be threatened and it's achieved its goal. So a country or a state that has a ballistic missile or a cruise missile or a biological or chemical capability can threaten (inaudible) and alter other people's behavior, and that is what we can't [allow].

Q: Bin Laden and al Qaeda have implied that they have (inaudible) capabilities. What do we know for sure about that and how concerned are you (inaudible)?

Rumsfeld: We ought to be concerned, there's no question. They have an appetite for it. To the extent (inaudible) it is (inaudible). The detection of nuclear weapons (inaudible) countries (inaudible). And so it's not possible, it's (inaudible). I think that having a radiation (inaudible) biological weapons is highly likely. Countries that harbor terrorists like Iraq, Syria, they have biological weapons.