Secretary Rumsfeld Hosts an Honor Cordon to Welcome Denmark's Minister of Defense Soren Gade
SEC. RUMSFELD: Good afternoon. We have just completed a good meeting -- the minister of defense of Denmark and I have. We met in Istanbul not too many weeks ago and had lovely weather there, as well, so we were pleased that we could provide a beautiful day for his visit to the Pentagon.
As you know, we cooperate in many ways in our military-to-military relationship in NATO in the Balkans, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in missile defense activities and so many other ways. So it’s always a pleasure and a privilege to have the minister of defense here. And I will be happy to turn over the mike to you, sir.
MR. GADE: We had a very good meeting and I expressed to Secretary Rumsfeld that we are committed in the fight against terror. We have a job to do in Iraq. And we are going to stay in Iraq. You have a mandate from the Danish Parliament up to the end of this year and then it, hopefully, will be renewed. I also express my regrets that United States have had so many losses in Iraq. I know that United States have had the losses yesterday and I’m very sorry to hear it. But I also know that we all have to sacrifice because we have this war going on and we have to win it. We cannot allow the terrorists to win.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I’d like to add one comment that I neglected to mention and that is that another way that our two countries have been cooperating is the Proliferation Security Initiative. And very recently, the minister and his country hosted, I believe, it was some 17 nations in Copenhagen who were brought together to discuss the proliferation problems and particularly with respect to container security which is, of course, an enormously important issue for the world. There are so many things that no one or two or three nations can do alone and the problem of proliferation, of weapons of mass destruction is one of them. It is something that requires the most intimate cooperation between nations and we’re so pleased that Denmark has taken the lead in hosting the conference and in assisting the world in coming to grips with this important problem. We’d be happy to respond to some questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary, did you have a chance to comment or give your Danish colleague some advice or comments in connection with the charges against a Danish interrogation officer in Iraq who has been charged for abuse interrogating Iraqi prisoner?
Q: Mr. Secretary, on the subject of terrorism, can you tell whether the U.S. has foiled these al Qaeda plots that we have had all these warnings about the buildings in the U.S. and in Washington and in New York and if you think that this is all that there is or is there more or is this just part of the issue?
SEC. RUMSFELD: No one can know the answer to that question. It’s something that will play out over time. I know that our country working with so many other countries sharing intelligence and they’re cooperating in putting pressure on these global terrorist networks is having good success in making their lives more difficult, making it more difficult for them to move between countries, to finance their operations, to recruit and retain their terrorists, to communicate with each other. But they only have to be lucky once or twice and they can kill 2 or 3,000 people. The defender has to be lucky all the time, has to be fortunate, has to be attentive. And that’s why these terror alerts exist. It’s why it’s so important that so many countries cooperate to put pressure on the terrorist and to make their lives more difficult and try to prevent them from killing still more innocent men, women and children.
Q: You know, what is your reaction to the arrest warrants issued by an Iraqi judge against Ahmed Chalabi and Salem Chalabi and do you believe the allegations against them?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Iraq is a sovereign country and they have a justice system that will work its will and it’s not for me to comment on it.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you’ve taken great pains and you’ve talked about Gen. Myers taking great pains to extricate yourself from the political process. At the Democratic convention, we saw generals lining up behind [inaudible] being very vocal about their support for Senator Kerry and their criticism of President Bush. Do you expect the same sort of thing coming up at the Republican convention. Eliot Cohen recently wrote an article saying he thinks that this is a dangerous thing for America -- for generals to be squandering their neutrality and getting involved in the political process like that.
What role do you think former generals should be having, like what do you think generals should be doing and do you agree that that is somehow dangerous for generals to leave this building and then start getting involved in political campaigns?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I suspect that I’ll be more inclined to comment on that, after I leave government at some point in the future. The only thing I would say is that I know Eliot Cohen and he’s a talented, constructive person. And it’s awfully hard for people to – it’s useful for people to say what they believe, whether it’s Eliot Cohen or somebody else. But in our country, everyone has an opportunity to do or say that which they will. They also then live with what they say or do. And the American people have a wonderful way of sorting all that out. And I guess that’s the basic principle of a free political system.
Q: You said, no that you didn’t give advice about the mishandling of prisoners, but did you discuss it at all? And to the Danish minister, if I can just add?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I did not.
MR. GADE: It is a topic when we discussed it at a summit in Instanbul. But we have this – we look upon it this way, if there’s anything to deal with which we have a problem, we will deal with it, because we live in societies both in the United States and in Denmark where we have a justice system. So if you have done something wrong, you go to a judge and you must hear what the judge says and that’s the way it works in a democracy and in our part of the world. But of course, in Denmark, we have an investigation going on. We don’t know if there’s anything wrong and if there’s anything wrong, we will deal with it, I can assure you.
Q: And just for the treatment of prisoners that Iraq has reinstated the death penalty?
MR. GADE: [Inaudible]
Q: [inaudible] for the treatment of prisoners by the Danes in Iraq that Iraq has reinstated the death penalty.
MR. GADE: I couldn’t hear the last part of it. But, no doubt, we have to stick to the – and we have to stick to the rules. And I mean, the leading officers from the battalion, they are back in Denmark now, while the investigation is going on. Nobody’s guilty up to till this moment and nobody will be found guilty before the end of the investigation.
Q: [Inaudible] the death penalty?
MR. GADE: Oh, yes. I’m sorry. Now, yeah. No, we are not giving any detained Iraqis. We don’t hand over anybody if all we are sure that they are not met by the death penalty and we are looking into this business right. But we -- again, we’re not doing it and we are suspending handing over Iraqi prisoners right now.
Q: What is your country’s reaction to the al Qaeda threats?
MR. GADE: Well, there has been threats against the coalition at all times while we have been in Iraq. And of course, we take them very seriously. Our intelligence both in the police and the military, of course, are on the alert all the time and we have to deal with it. We have to deal with this threat as your country and everybody else. So we take it very seriously. But of course, this is not the first time we have a threat against our countries, but it’s the first time it has been said so loudly as this time where they have addressed Denmark directly. But there have been a lot of threats against the coalition, but they have not been so specific.
Q: Mr. Secretary, after all the trouble and problems we hear about in Iraq what, in your view, is the good news out of Iraq today?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, as your question suggests, both exist – the good and the bad. As we see fighting continue on occasion, we see people killed and wounded and, of course, we have to admire the wonderful job that is being done by the young men and women from the coalition countries in assisting the Iraqis in liberating their country first and then setting it on a path towards a free Iraq, an Iraq that’s respectful of all of the people there and at peace with its neighbors.
The good things that are happening apparently aren’t as newsworthy and they seem not to make the press. But the fact that the schools are open and that the hospitals and clinics are open and functioning, that the Iraqi people are free and are moving towards an election for the first time in decades, that the economy is growing, that refugees are coming home.
We do not have a humanitarian crisis or internally displaced people. They are building up their Iraqi security forces so that they can take care of their own security. They are fielding an Olympic team which is quite a thing, if one thinks about it. They fashioned an Iraqi symphony orchestra which is a good thing. They’ve got a stock market, not with a lot of companies on it yet, but it’s there and it’s growing. It tells you that these are people who have a wonderful future ahead of them. They are intelligent. They have good education. They have water. They have oil. They have opportunity. They live in a tough part of the world, let there be no doubt, and they’ve got neighbors that, in some instances, are not wishing them well. But they also have friends.
We’ve got 32 countries that are participating in that coalition and I am absolutely convinced that the 25 million people of Iraq have a good crack and succeeding and building a bright future for the people of that country. Thank you very much.