Secretary Rumsfeld Remarks to The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations/Commercial Club of Chicago
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Your eminence, Lester, thank you so much; and Andy; and members of the council and the commonwealth club -- Commercial Club of Chicago.
I look out at this group of obviously intelligent, successful, wise people and think that it's a Friday afternoon in August -- (laughter) -- and it's glorious weather, and I wonder what are you doing here. (Laughter.) But I thank you for being here.
It is very good to see so many old friends, folks from high school and college and business. So I don't get back here very often. I seem to find myself in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan -- maybe if you changed the name of Chicago to Chicagostan I could get here more often. (Laughter.) But it's -- as we meet today, there are a lot of very brave men and women, folks from this state and across the country, who are serving our country so well and who are doing important work. And all are volunteers. Each single one of them raised their hand and said "Send me," and certainly we ought to always recognize and appreciate their service.
I want to talk a bit about the extremists, the enemies that we are facing in this global struggle between civilized nations and extremism, and also touch on a few other issues of importance.
Everyone in this room knows that our free system is rooted in trust -- in each other, in our personal lives, in our free political system, our free economic system. It is that trust which is the glue of our society that enemies hope to shatter. And it is the freedom that that trust gives us that they hope to deny us.
This, I suppose, is not really a new phenomenon. Although our enemies today are different in many respects, in one sense they do follow the path of the dictators, the fascists, the communists, who have challenged our way of life over past decades, and over which, with our allies and friends throughout the world, we've prevailed.
When the Cold War ended, some thought it was the end of history and believed that we would not be challenged again, but of course on September 11th the world found that we had not reached the dawn of global peace after all. And today we face a different kind of enemy in a very different world. So we need to think and act differently.
As we've seen, extremists are willing to cut off people's heads and they're willing to kill thousands of innocent men, women and children. We saw the videos of what Saddam Hussein did to his people, where they chopped off heads and chopped off hands and pushed people off the tops of three- and four-story buildings. The extremists that we're dealing with today have murdered people from countries all across the globe, seeking to strike fear into the hearts of all of us; in short, hoping to terrorize. People tend to think of terrorism as an event, where someone is killed or a building is blown up or an explosive device occurs, but that's really not it. Terrorism, the purpose of that is to terrorize, as Lenin said. It's to alter behavior. It's to change one's behavior.
In Afghanistan under Taliban rule, women were forbidden to wear colored shoes, to sing, to walk unaccompanied, to go to a male doctor, to be a doctor, to study. In short, they had no rights. These Taliban and the al Qaeda follow an ideology of oppression, of hatred and subjugation of women.
On September 11th they killed 3,000 citizens -- from many countries, of all faiths. And were they to acquire the lethal weapons that they are seeking -- and let there be no doubt about that -- they could kill 10 times or 100 times that many.
Despite all that's been done to thwart terrorist plots -- and a great deal has been done -- and to strengthen security, the extremists, since they are on the offensive, have an enormous advantage. A terrorist needs to be lucky only occasionally, and the defenders have to be skillful all the time to prevent such an act. Terrorists can attack at any time, at any place, using any conceivable technique, and it is physically impossible to defend in every location at every moment of the day or night against all of the various techniques that terrorists can use.
So the only way to win the struggle -- the war, the insurgency; call it what you wish -- is to be on the offense. It's to put pressure on the terrorists where they are, before they strike. We can either change the way they live, or they're going to change the way we live. And they strike at that thing that we are, namely free people.
They have a strategy. They're determined to terrorize peaceful democratic governments and their people. They know what they're doing. And we see it, of course, in Afghanistan today, we see it in Iraq, and we see it with terrorist attacks all across the globe, from Asia to Europe.
They hope to intimidate the coalition countries, to drive out our allies and to impose their rule. And they are conducting a reign of terror against those who represent hope -- the mayors, the city councilmen, women who register to vote in Afghanistan, volunteers who are standing in line to join the Iraqi security forces, police chiefs, coalition troops.
They're targeting oil pipelines, electricity grids, other essential infrastructure, to try to show that the new government's progress -- and slow that progress and to cripple it.
And they're striking at U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, trying to undermine America's morale and to weaken support here at home, as has happened in other conflicts.
The rise of a free, self-governing Afghanistan and Iraq will deny terrorists a base of operations, discredit their extremist ideology and give momentum to reformers across the region, and they are determined to try to prevent that.
In Afghanistan, there are now some 13,000 soldiers in the Afghan National Army, and over 21,000 in the Afghan National Police. Construction is under way, and a good deal has been completed of the major road that connects the cities of that country and is critically important to their economy.
Interestingly, despite a campaign of intimidation -- (brief audio break) -- people have already registered to vote for the coming election in Afghanistan. We were hoping there'd be 3 million that would brave that and actually get there and register. And the U.N. was looking for a number slightly above that at 4 million, so that it could be considered a legitimate election. But they're now up at 8.4 million. Clearly, it's a booming success. The people of that country want elections and they want to participate in it. And they don't have a lot of experience with that.
And this is all happening despite the intimidation by the Taliban that operates just outside the borders, and the al Qaeda. The al Qaeda, of course, are housed, in some instances, in Iran. And the Taliban have -- using that border area along Pakistan are able to move back and forth. Not too long ago, they stopped a bus, inspected everybody's belongings; found women who'd registered to vote and killed them. A very pointed, targeted effort.
In Iraq, courageous leaders have stepped forward to lead their new government and to prepare for elections next year. The economy is growing. The currency's been steady. They opened a stock market. They pulled together an Olympic team. The schools are open. The Iraqi security forces have gone from zero to something in the neighborhood of 110,000 that are trained and equipped properly, and something like 206,000 that are recruited and in the process of being trained and equipped. Every day the Iraqi security forces take on more and more responsibility for protecting their own people.
There have been some reports to the effect that they have not been too effective; that they didn't face down some opposition at one point. I think it's important to point out that if you've armed Iraqi police with small arms and they're up against folks with AK-47s and heavy weapons, that it doesn't -- it wouldn't make a lot of sense for them to stand there and attempt to take them on. And in fact, the Iraqi security forces are doing an excellent job. They're -- more and more the U.S. patrols and the coalition patrols are not solo patrols, they're doing joint patrols with Iraqi forces. Increasingly we'll see Iraqi forces conducting their own patrols with U.S. people behind and coalition forces behind ready to assist as necessary. Millions of women in Iraq are gaining new freedoms -- two of them are here; I just went down and said hello.
I think you spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations at a breakfast this morning. We welcome you.
The progress is, of course, mixed in with a lot of bad news, and we have to recognize that. People are being killed. People are being wounded. There have been something in excess of 500 Iraqi security forces (sic) that have been killed. So it isn't like they're sitting in their barracks not doing anything. They're out there trying to help build a free country.
There are neighbors that don't want a free Iraq, an Iraq that's respectful of all the diverse religious and ethnic groups in that country. There are neighbors that don't -- prefer not to have a secular system in that country that's at peace with its neighbors and that is not a haven for -- not on the terrorist list, for example. So we have this contrast of things going well -- very well -- and things going not well.
And how will it evolve? How will it shake out?
If one had the impression that one gets from the television and the media, I think that you would have to be discouraged. And you can't see the steady drumbeat of problems on the front page of the paper and on the television, day after day, and not feel that it's a very tough situation. And it is a tough situation; it's a tough part of the world.
On the other hand, if one looks at what's happened and the distance they've come and the progress that's been made, one has to be hopeful. And if you go back and read and think about other conflicts and how difficult they were and how discouraging they were -- for not just months but years in some instances -- and the number of lives lost -- and yet, the steadiness of purpose prevailed and people persisted and people ended up successful.
There are questions. People ask, for example, are we safer today than we were on September 11th, 2001? The answer is yes. There's no question about it. We have an 80- or 90-nation coalition, probably the largest coalition in the history of the world, that's working together, sharing intelligence, putting pressure on terrorists, making it more difficult for them to move between countries, to raise money, to recruit people, to retain people, to communicate with each other. And that's a good thing. And a lot of operations have been disrupted.
But reality is that new recruits step forward, and money still flows, and not enough countries have changed their laws to make it difficult for terrorists to operate. With increased military, intelligence and law enforcement cooperation, the coalition countries are attacking those financial structures -- in some instances non- governmental organizations that do 10, 20, 30 percent good works, and then support terrorism with the remaining of their money. It's not easy to sort that out and separate the good from the bad and know what to do about it.
Some people ask do we have enough troops to do the job in Iraq? And the answer is, there's no magic formula, there's no template, there's no rule book that you can go back and look at for that. The fact of the matter is we have -- the president has said, and we have in fact put in the number of troops that the military commanders -- first General Franks, and more recently General Abizaid and General Casey -- have asked for. And the balance is this, if you think about it. In Afghanistan, the Soviet Union probably had 300,000 folks in that country, and they lost. We had several thousand troops in that country and we won. Now, why is that? Well, for one thing, we're not occupiers. Our country doesn't go to another country because they want to take it over. And that message gets out; eventually that messages gets out.
In the case of Iraq, we currently have 123,000 folks there, and it is -- you can't see a day go by that you don't say, "Gee, the border's porous with Iran or with Syria, and if we had a few more, might not that help?" And the military commanders on the ground say: No, we want the effort to go into building the Iraqi forces. We do not want to become an occupier; we do not want physical presence all over that country which creates greater resistance than exists today. We want to have enough so that we can train and equip and support the Iraqi forces, build them up and transfer the responsibility to them. And I am persuaded they're right, but the debate goes on.
Obviously, if you had more troops, that means you have to have more support, combat support forces. That means you have to have more force protection. And that means you have a heavier and heavier footprint and you have greater and greater vulnerability to explosive devices of various types, and mortars; and instead, the effort is trying to balance it. And that's what's been taking place and that's what's contributed to that debate.
The other question, of course, that people ask is, is it worth it? Is it worth it, I suppose, in money, they mean; is it worth it in lives; is it worth it in lives not lived; is it worth it in lives lived differently, with limbs off? The answer is, it is worth it.
I'm trying to think when it was -- I mentioned in an article today in the Tribune that I was in Korea, and I can't remember when it was; it was four, five, six months ago. And we were in a hotel, it was night, and there was a function. And a woman, a Korean woman reporter -- probably, I don't know, 45 years old, too young to remember the war, said -- they were having a debate in the Korean Parliament, the South Korean Parliament that very day about, oh, my goodness, why should we send our troops halfway across the world to Iraq to participate?
And I looked at her, and I looked out the window. And of course, here's this -- many of you have been to South Korea, but they've got energy and they've got a successful economy, they've got a vibrant democracy, and they're trading all across the globe. And I've got a picture on my desk in the Pentagon of the Korean peninsula with the Demilitarized Zone from a satellite at night, and the light in South Korea at night is just all -- you can see the electricity, and the North is black. Nothing except one pin prick of light in Pyongyang, the capital; that's all.
The same people, same resources, same geography, same opportunities. And one's a free system, and the one in the North is a vicious dictatorship. They have lowered the height to get into the North Korean military to four feet, 10 inches, and under a hundred pounds for adults, because of malnutrition.
And I thought about that when this woman asked me that question, and I said, "Think of that! Think of millions of human beings living a different life, starving, in jails, in concentration camps." They have concentration camps as big as the city of Austin, Texas, in North Korea.
And I told this woman, "You bet it's worth it." I mean, why was it worth it for our people to go over to Korea 50 years ago? And the answer is, because freedom is important, and terrorism and intimidation and accommodation to terrorism is dangerous. It's dangerous to everything we believe in.
The -- for all of the enemy's cunning and ruthlessness, we have an enormous advantage. And that is our way of life. It is the example for the world -- these free systems. They're the ones that are providing more for more people -- free political systems and free economic systems. And the great sweep of human desire for freedom is on our side.
And the 25 million Afghan people have a good crack at building a free system. It isn't certain, but they have a very good crack at it. And the 25 million Iraqi people have a good crack at building a free system as well, as amazing as that would be, given where they've been. And if they're successful -- and I believe they will be -- if they are, it will make an enormous difference in this world. To put in that part of the world and to see built a free political system and a free economic system at peace with their neighbors, not on the terrorist list, respectful of all of the elements in that country, it would have to have an effect on those neighbors. It would have to. And I think it will.
Thank you. (Applause.)
Now, I'd be delighted to answer some questions.
You know, the first -- I think one of the very first talks I gave was at a coffee klatch in Skokie, Illinois, a hundred -- not quite a hundred years ago -- (laughter) -- but it was, I think, in 1961 or 2. And Bob Galvin (ph), who's here, was sitting in the front row with his legs crossed and asked me a question, and I was petrified. (Laughter.) So I'm not going to call on Bob, wherever he is. (Laughter.)
Now, you're going to move the mikes around, somebody said, and --
Yes, there's a mike, but no question. Yes, right over there.
Q Secretary Rumsfeld, I have two questions to ask you.
SEC. RUMSFELD: You should be a journalist. (Laughter.)
Q My minor was --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Why not one? (Laughter.)
Q Because I don't get to do this too often with you.
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Laughs.) Well, I'll pick the one I like. (Laughter.)
Q (Laughs.) Okay.
Number one question is, how many U.S. servicemen do we have in Europe, especially in Germany, and why, aside from our commitment to the NATO?
And number two is when do you think we're going to stick -- or pull our heads out of sand and look at the regime in Iran as the main culprit and sponsor of terrorism from Argentina to Europe to Saudi Arabia?
SEC. RUMSFELD: We have fewer folks in Germany today than we did yesterday, and we'll have fewer tomorrow. And the reason is is that we don't expect a major Soviet Union tank attack across the North German Plain. We've decided that it's time to shift our posture in Europe and Asia and around the world and move from static defense, which does not make much sense today, to a more deployable and usable set of capabilities.
So we -- we've not made announcements yet, but we're in the process of discussing this with our friends in Germany and Europe and in Asia, and we are adjusting our force posture. And within -- it will probably take us three to four years to roll it out, but when we're through, we'll have a -- the United States taxpayers and the American people and our friends and allies around the world will have a U.S. force deployed in a way that makes sense for the 21st century. And we're making very good progress on it.
The subject of Iran is -- I don't think our heads are in the sand. Iran is obviously on the terrorist list. It is clearly, by the testimony of the International Atomic Energy committee, involved with the development of nuclear capabilities. It works with Hezbollah and Syria to send terrorists and terrorist materials down through Damascus, into Lebanon and into Israel. They are unhelpful with respect to what we're doing in Afghanistan. They're unhelpful with respect to what we're doing in Iraq.
And the future there is unclear to me. They've got a handful of clerics that are running that country. The people are intelligent. The people have an interesting, important history. The people have a visibility into what's happening in the world. They know that the rest of the world is going on.
And I suspect that that is a nation where we -- I mean, I must say all of us were surprised when it moved from the shah to the ayatollah in five minutes, it seemed like, and I think one day we may find that we'll be surprised, happily, to see it move from where it is to where it might ought to be one day. I think the people are aware of the situation, and I think that the degree of support for the clerics is probably relatively modest in that country.
Q Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Going back to the article that you wrote this morning at the Tribune, we are a nation proud of having gone to Korea. There are other wars, like Vietnam, where we also fought for freedom and yet we may feel in the light of further history that it may not have been a good choice. What tools, what studies, what programs does the current administration have to, before we go to war, determine if a conflict will, in history's light, come out one way or the other?
SEC. RUMSFELD: That's a tough question. I guess that those tools really have never existed in history. The conflicts have often come out differently than had been intended, as your question suggested.
The -- in the case of Afghanistan, the issue that -- the thought -- when I was confirmed eight months before that, no one mentioned Afghanistan. Of course, no one asked in my confirmation hearing -- no one even raised the word "Afghanistan." But then in Dick Cheney's confirmation hearing, no one mentioned Iraq, and that was right before the Gulf War.
So we don't have perfect visibility out into the future. The case of Afghanistan -- of course, we were attacked by al Qaeda, and al Qaeda was being harbored in Afghanistan. And we'd known that in the country back into the 1990s. But the question is when you do something about it.
And in the case of Iraq, interestingly, they'd gone through 17 United Nations resolutions that they'd defied -- 17. And the question is, should it have been 18 or 19, or at some point ought the decision to be made? And it was made.
In the future, the issue will be more difficult, in one sense, because each year that goes by, weaponry becomes more lethal. And instead of being able to kill 3,000, you might be able to kill 30,000 or 300,000. A biological attack can affect people down through generations.
And so the tolerance level changes as the lethality increases, one would think. And I think that our system, our democratic system, is going to have to synthesize that and integrate it into our thinking. And as we go forward, nobody wants war. The president took months and months and months on the Iraq war and in fact at the last minute asked Saddam Hussein to leave the country, hoping there wouldn't have to be a conflict. But our society is going to have to think that all through and see if we as a people can come to conclusions about how we can make good judgments.
The goal is obviously a more peaceful planet. And our country particularly, being somewhat isolationist or at least a feeling in our country that we'd just as soon be left alone and not have to have any of our forces anywhere in the world is kind of our first choice, I think, although we all recognize how interconnected the world is. And we just have to hope and pray that there are not times in the future where we're required to use force because of the balance in one's mind as to what the risk is of -- people tend to think of the risks of going to war; there's also the risks of not using force. And I'm terribly worried to be -- you know, just to mention this situation that happened with Spain and the Philippines. I think that weakness is provocative, that it can entice people into doing things they wouldn't otherwise do, I think to the extent they see that terrorism works. You know, in business you know that if you want more of something, you encourage it, and if you -- you reward it -- and if you want less of something, you penalize it. And to reward terrorism is a very risky thing in this world, and I think we have to be quite careful about that.
Question -- yes, sir.
Q Thank you, Mr. Secretary. How do you as secretary of Defense think about balancing the apparently very different requirements on DOD of facing emerging, more conventional threats in the long term, like China, versus the threat of terrorism? And it seems the requirements are quite different and there's a finite amount of resources that need to be divided amongst them.
SEC. RUMSFELD: You mentioned China -- is the word you used? Is that what you said?
Q That's an example.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah, yeah. How do I do that? Imperfectly -- (laughs) -- I'm sure. It is a -- it's a series of tugs of war is what it is, what it really is. Things in motion tend to remain in motion, and there's such enormous pressure for something that started in an institution the size of the Department of Defense. The Congress gets a constituency -- in the congressional districts, there's a constituency for something that's already happening for it to keep happening in exactly that way. People are trained to do things a certain way, and of course, this institution, the Defense Department, was organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies, navies and air forces. Well, there are not a lot of them around at the moment. And we've got manhunts going on and a series of tasks that -- we have to deal with asymmetrical threats that are unlike anything that the people in this institution, for the most part, were trained to deal with or were equipped to deal with.
And so what one has to do is constantly try to evaluate risks, and we end up trying to balance off things that are not likes. It's easy enough to balance off this type of ship versus that type of ship, or bringing power to bear from the air or from the sea or from the ground. One can do that rather well, balancing risks.
When you try to balance risks between the future -- five, 10, 15 years out -- and investments now, I mean, I don't know what's going to happen to improvised explosive devices, but we see them in the Middle East today. We could very well see them in American cities tomorrow. What level of investment ought we to be making to deal with these improvised explosive devices that are having such a lethal effect in the Middle East?
The hope with respect to China -- just to take the subject you mentioned -- is that we'll be wise enough and the world will be wise enough to engage that country in a way that its entry back into the world is done in a reasonably peaceful way, without grinding of gears. And will that happen? We won't know for some time. They've got a difficult problem. They're trying to -- and they're being successful in having that economy grow, and it's growing in double digits. Well, so is their military growing in double digits. And the -- to grow in double digits over a sustained period of time I would submit is most likely to occur if an you have an increasingly freer economic system. And to the extent you have an increasingly freer economic system, one would think it would begin to create a tension between a political system, a governmental system that is anything but free, and there's going to be a tension there. And what can -- the question is, what can the world do to see that that tension -- that the winner in that tension is the free economic system, freer economic system, begins to impinge on their un-free political system. And that would be a good thing for the world. Contributing to that is not necessarily a military matter at all, although it is important what happens on the Korean peninsula; it is important what happens to Japan. And increasingly Japan is playing a more important part in the world, which I think is a good thing, a moderating thing in that part of the world. So I'm hopeful about that.
But the answer to your question is, it is the toughest thing in the world to balance off an immediate need for spare parts, for example, versus an investment that's not going to pay dividends for five or 10 years in research and development, or stopping something, like we've stopped several major weapon systems recently. And you've seen the hue and cry when we do it because people like what is. And yet the advantage of doing that, I am convinced, has been -- will be proved to be significant for the United States Army. They will become a 21st century military under the leadership of General Pete Schoomaker, who we brought back out of retirement and is just doing a wonderful job. He is moving from 33 to 43 to forty -- possibly 48 brigades that are going to be pulling down some of the division capabilities into the brigade level so you've got the ability to deploy and mix and match in a much more effective way. We're rebalancing the active force with the reserve component so we don't have to keep calling up reservists that have skill sets that are in short supply in the active force.
And I think that the process of transforming the Department of Defense -- people have said, "How could you do that in the middle of a war?" And the answer is I think it's probably easier. I think the impetus is there, the sense of urgency is there. People see the need to make the changes and adjustments to fit the 21st century. So I'm very encouraged about the progress that's being made in changing this enormous institution to make it serve the American people better.
Q Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Rachel Smith, Georgetown University. My question concerns the foreign media. During the war in Iraq you made some choice remarks towards the reporting done by Al- Jazeera and other Arabic news sources. I'd like to know, have your views on the truth and validity of their reporting been ameliorated since the end of the war, or do you feel that this reporting still does not uphold the truth and moral values that the American media stand for?
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Pause.) (Laughter.) Way to go, Rachel! (Laughter.) I did have some words. Choice? I'm not sure. But it has been a terribly damaging thing to have what Al-Jazeera and Al- Arabiyah have done to our country in the Middle East. They have persuaded an enormous fraction of the people that we're there as an occupying force, which is a lie, that we are randomly killing innocent civilians, which is a lie. I don't think there's ever been a conflict that -- the likes of Afghanistan or Iraq where there has been as much respect for avoiding collateral damage and avoiding the killing of innocent people as in those two conflicts. We benefit from fabulous technology and precision weapons.
In any war, people who should not be killed are killed. But in Iraq today the people that are being killed are, for the most part, Iraqis, and they're almost all being killed by Iraqis. And they're being killed by the extremists, by the terrorists. They're being killed by the remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime.
And the press -- the Middle East press -- we know that Al-Jazeera -- some of the reporters in Baghdad under Saddam Hussein were getting paid by the Saddam Hussein regime. And they've persuaded a pile of people that what's happening is a terrible thing. And that makes everything harder. They're doing the same thing in the neighboring countries, make -- which makes everything harder -- makes much harder for those regimes.
And on the other hand can we -- will we survive it? Yes. Is there anything we can do about it? No.
Periodically the Iraqi government, I think, shuts down Al- Jazeera, tells them -- the people they can't have credentials to come to the meetings for a while. But it is what it is. And you've got a group of people who are out telling the world things that are not true, and yet people have a pretty good center of gravity. They've got reasonably good sense, and their inner gyroscopes adjust to that, finally. They see things happen, and they see what's being said about it, and they say they know that there's a disconnect. There's a discontinuity there. And pretty soon, when they see it on television, they don't believe it.
And so I think that -- I wish there was something we could do about it, but it has not improved significantly, Rachel. It's -- it is what it is. And I track it. We've got a tracking method of watching how they handle various activities, and you can see spikes, and those two -- particularly those two, although -- think about it -- I mean, CNN -- one of the people from CNN wrote an article in the, I think, New York Times reporting that they purposely did not report things that was -- were uncomfortable for Saddam Hussein, because they would not be allowed to stay in the country. So they stayed in the country. This is -- an official of CNN wrote this article. So for a whole series of many, many, many months, the watchers of that station were seeing not what was happening in that country, but they were seeing only that which Saddam Hussein -- which that network believed would not be unacceptable to Saddam Hussein. So it is -- and of course their dilemma was if they weren't there to report at all, which they wouldn't be if they reported things that were uncomfortable for Saddam Hussein, then they wouldn't be reporting at all. So that was the dilemma they were facing.
It is a -- it is a tough problem for people, and it is very tough on the terrific young folks who are over there doing wonderful things. I mean they are helping to build schools, they're helping to fix generators in public places. They're assisting people in hospitals. And they don't see that reported, and the people -- their parents back home end up seeing and hearing things that are for the most part negative, because I guess that's more newsworthy. And that's hard on their parents and it's hard on them.
And I was testifying before a congressional committee one day, and it was early in the morning. And six of the 15 or 20 members of the committee had just come back from Iraq -- that morning they had arrived. And they came to the hearing, and one after the other -- Republican and Democrat -- went right down the line and said that they couldn't believe the difference between what was taking place in Iraq and what they had in their heads as going on in Iraq before they went. And they talked about it. The next day there was not a single word in a paper or on television about what they'd said -- six congressmen, Republican and Democrat both.
Now, what do we do about that? Well, we get up every morning and go right after it. Joyce (ph) calls this the -- what did she say? This is her -- this is our "pinata period." (Laughter.)
Q Thank you, Mr. Secretary. May I ask you to offer a comment on the future of the Christian communities in Iraq? The Latin Archbishop of Baghdad was here two weeks ago, and he corroborated exactly what you have said about the improvement of the life of the ordinary Iraqi. The one note of uncertainty, and where the hope began to waver when he was talking, concerned the future of the Christian communities. You know, the Ba'athist regime was secularist, officially, and there really wasn't freedom of religion or anything else, but there was room to maneuver. And now, especially in the light of the attacks on the Christian churches recently, would you care to comment on what you think that future might be?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes, sir. The Iraqi people are going to write that next chapter. And the people serving currently in the Iraqi interim government, I believe, would answer that question that not just the Christian community but the Jewish community and the other diverse elements of that country are all going to have the opportunity to be free to practice their faith. The next step, of course, is to go from the group that's in there now to a constitution and an election that will answer those questions more definitively.
I have a great deal of confidence in the people that are there currently, that they understand that the future of that country will be enormously benefited if they fashion a constitution and a pattern and a practice of being respectful of all of the diverse elements in that country. If they don't, if they decide to have some kind of a regime that represses certain religious faiths or certain ethnic groups in the country, they lose a great deal. And so I'm optimistic about it.
I think that -- I think there's going to be a struggle. The -- it won't -- it's not written, but the things I am seeing at the present time is that the overwhelming majority of the people who currently have influence, from a governmental standpoint, are people who want that state to be a free country, that they want to be at peace with their neighbors, and they do want to create an environment that's hospitable to all the various elements in the country, as much as they may favor their own religion or sect.
Q The 9/11 commission --
SEC. RUMSFELD: We'll get you a mike.
Q Mr. Secretary, the 9/11 commission issued its recommendations about how to change the intelligence. The president has responded, Congress is debating it. Since you're crucial to really the whole intelligence issue, would you give us your views?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I've been giving my views to the president, and my public views will be affected by his decisions. (Laughter, applause.) Mrs. Rumsfeld did not raise a lot of dummies. (Laughter.)
Now, what could I say about it? I am very pleased with the commission's report. I think it's been a constructive thing and I think that the debate that's now taking place in the country is a useful one.
I watched about 20 minutes of a hearing that Porter Goss, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had the other day where he had John Hamre, who's a former deputy secretary, and I think Michael O'Hanlon and General Bill Odom. And they had a very thoughtful exchange on these subjects.
I have gone out of the way to bring in folks. I brought in former Secretaries of Defense Schlesinger, Cohen, Harold Brown; and former CIA folks, Bill Webster and Bill Studeman. I had lunch yesterday with the chairman -- former chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the former vice chairman, Admiral Crowe, and Admiral Jeremiah, General Davy Jones and so forth, and talked to Bob Gates on the phone the other day, former CIA director -- trying to hear their thinking about it. I met just yesterday also with the current head of the National Security Agency and the NGA.
These are all people who have spent an awful lot of time thinking about these things. I mean, a commission like the 9/11 commission had a job to do, they did that, and then, by the way, they added some suggestions for the future.
Now, they didn't fill in the details. And the devil's in the details, and so there's going to have to be a lot of thought and care given to that. You know, there's been a lot of damage done in this world in the name of reform. The -- someone laughed. It's true. (Laughter.) And this is serious business. This isn't something that one just touches up lightly with some little oil paint and says, gee, we can move this box there and that box there. This is very serious business.
So I am just delighted with the debate, with the texture of it, the dimension of it, and I am very optimistic that we'll end up with some improvements in the system.
For example, it's easy to say, gee, the culture needs to change. But the culture does need to change. And you don't change culture by moving this box to that box; you change culture like they did in the military when we had services that were insular. Each service wanted to do its own business. Each service didn't want to connect with the other service.
So what did they do? They didn't say: Be joint. They went out and said: Okay, how do we fix that? And they started requiring that people in the military have to serve in a joint slot, a slot where you worked with the other services. You had to have certain types of education that prepared you for jointness. And it took 15 years to begin taking the services that came straight up, with their own thing, and then there was a train wreck when they met, and now they're kind of pointing towards each other over a career.
That's what's going to have to happen in the intelligence community. They're going to have to -- the commission recommends breaking down the stovepipes. You know, each category of information, because it's sensitive, has to be kept secret, has to be -- fewer people need to know.
Well, if you do need -- there -- you don't want people to know things they don't need to know. On the other hand, we need to be smart about what people need to know today. And the only way you can do that is to break down those stovepipes. Now how do you do that? You don't do that by moving someone around in a box. This is a terribly difficult thing to do.
And I am encouraged. I am -- I would guess that what will happen is there will be an immediate rush to judgment. It will then meet the thoughtful people's discussion, like took place in that hearing in the House the other day. And we'll find a good deal of thought going into this, we'll find people acting responsibly, and we'll end up with an improved intelligence community.
I think one of the things that we ought to try to in this task, this period that we're in now, is we ought to say: Fair enough. If someone's got an idea, let's hear it. But by the way, show me how it's going to fix a problem we have. I don't want to just know what the solution is; I want to know which problem of the ones cited in the 9/11 commission are going to be benefited by having that new approach or that new job or that new rearrangement. And you've got to connect a solution to a problem.
And my hope is that that's what will take place. I'm -- I mean, the fact is that the -- it is an enormously tough job, the intelligence community's job. It is really tough. We're in a world where so many things are done today underground. We're in a world where we don't have a single target, the Soviet Union, that we can watch, understand, observe, get better at, see the practices and the patterns of behavior, and learn about what they're doing and what threat that poses. Today we've got, you know, not just many, many countries that pose potential threats, but we've got networks, people that operate in the shadows, people that work at the seams, in ungoverned areas across the globe that aren't even nations; they're just places.
So the intelligence community has a very tough job. And they have this more difficult task at a time when technology is advancing in ways that people can -- I mean, people who could never in a million years develop and make the things that the people in this room make can buy them off the shelf, use them against the people who made them, cheap, fast. I mean, the terrorists are using laptops, wire transfers, you know, all kinds of techniques and communication devices, and they use them against the people who developed them.
So much information is now traded as to how the civilized countries collect intelligence. A series of spies have revealed a great deal. The press reveals a great deal. People leak things, make mistakes. And it's increasingly easy for people to learn about how they can manage their affairs in a way that they cannot be observed and not be known. And they go to school on us; they watch what we do.
So it is -- it's a tough job, the intelligence job, and it's -- as I mentioned earlier, it's a particularly tough time because the penalty for error is so much greater, given the lethality of the weapons.
I am getting the hook. (Laughter.) Thank you very much! (Applause.)
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