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Secretary Rumsfeld Stakeout following ABC This Week

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
February 03, 2002

(Stakeout outside ABC News Studio after interview on "This week")

Secretary Rumsfeld: Good morning. How are you? You look cold.

Q: Yeah. I just have a few brief questions now related to anything you talked about on [This Week].

But the prisoner transfers in Guantanamo, (inaudible)?

Secretary Rumsfeld: No.

Q: I heard there were new barracks they were building in anticipation of that?

Secretary Rumsfeld: Right. Rather soon, I think. I think we're going to be able to probably bring another plane or two in as they complete the cells that they've been working on. It should be in the immediate period ahead.

Q: And the C-21 that went down yesterday over North Dakota, I believe. Was that on a routine training mission? Or was there some relationship to Operation Enduring Freedom or (inaudible)?

Secretary Rumsfeld: Not to my knowledge.

Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, as the budget comes out tomorrow obviously (inaudible) military spending and offsets in other areas, (inaudible), or (inaudible)?

Secretary Rumsfeld: Well, you never know for sure but my impression is there has been very, very strong, broad and deep bipartisan support for the operation Enduring Freedom and the effort against terrorism in the Congress from both political parties. I have been encouraged by that. I assume and believe that if we're able to make the proper case, which is a very good case, as to why these funds are needed that we will get broad bipartisan support in Congress. I've heard nothing to the contrary.

Q: The President (inaudible) --

Secretary Rumsfeld: The President's remarks were I thought very clear. He was pointing out the reality that each of those countries has a weapon of mass destruction program, and that each of those countries is on the terrorist list, the terrorist (inaudible), and that each of those countries has had, in varying degrees, relationships with terrorist networks. And our concern, really, has to do with the risk, the possibility that terrorist networks will in fact succeed in their efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

We know al Qaeda has been actively seeking weapons of mass destruction for a number of years.

To go back to the budget issue for a minute. If you think about it, we are investing in our defense so that we can live in peace and stability and so that people can have economic opportunity. And when one thinks of what the tradeoffs are in terms of our federal budget, the use of taxpayers' money, everything that we enjoy, all the privileges of freedom that we have depend on our being at peace, our being safe, our being in a relatively secure circumstances. That's why Presidents throughout the history of this country and populations throughout the history of this country have generally said yes, we're willing to make those kinds of investments because we don't want to put at risk our freedom or peace.

In the 21st Century with the existence and the availability of weapons of mass destruction our margin for error has declined. Instead of having a big margin for error because we have these two wonderful oceans on either side of our country and friends to the north and the south -- which gave us a big margin for error. We could make a mistake. We could not do all we should and we'd still have time to recover, to take a deep breath and make the investments and go out and deal with a problem as happened in World War I and World War II. Today we don't have that margin for error. The power, lethality and reach of weapons today is so great and their lethality so enormous that to make a mistake would be something that would be inexcusable.

Q: Getting back to the (inaudible), do you fear that international support (inaudible)? Or (inaudible)?

Secretary Rumsfeld: No, I think the countries of the world in varying degrees will be supportive. We don't ever expect that every country in the world will agree with us. We know every country has a slightly different perspective, different circumstances, different fears and different hopes. What we need to do is to do what we believe is right, to talk to other countries about it, and to fashion coalitions with countries that do agree with that, understanding that not every single country is going to agree with every single thing we do.

Q: Can you give us an update on what you know about (inaudible)?

Secretary Rumsfeld: Sure. The Department of State is actively involved, working with the government of Pakistan to follow up every lead. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is actively involved, the agencies of our government that have knowledge or abilities in that area are certainly working to be of assistance.

Thanks to you all.

Thank you.

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