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Stakeout After House Armed Services Committee Testimony

Presenters: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Representative Duncan Hunter, chairman of the HASC
September 21, 2005
Stakeout After House Armed Services Committee Testimony

            REPRESENTATIVE HUNTER:  We went a little over time.  We had a great briefing in the full Republican Conference on the state of play in Iraq, Afghanistan and also with respect to the participation of the military in the crisis situation in New Orleans.  So we had a very good roundup, a broad array of questions of the Secretary. 

 

            We'll take two questions and the he's got to go as we kept him ten minutes late.

 

            QUESTION:  [Inaudible]?

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  And it may be what?

 

            QUESTION:  [Inaudible].

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  The Senate Intelligence Committee, as I understand it, has jurisdiction over this matter and is looking into it.

 

            Second, the department, I'm told, offered a classified briefing because the subject matter is classified.  And as I understand it, the Judiciary Committee preferred to have an open hearing on a classified matter and therefore the department declined to participate in an open hearing on a classified matter.  But it's something that I'm sure -- It's one of those issues.  We have to obey the laws with respect to security classifications.

 

            QUESTION:  [Inaudible] about [inaudible]?  I'm wondering what specifically he was referring to or if you had [inaudible]?

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  The President, in his remarks, was reflecting the unusual situation that occurred where the federal system assigns responsibilities to the federal government, to the state governments and to the local governments.  The way we're arranged, the first responders in a crisis are the state and local officials.  But in the case of Katrina the state and local officials who were the first responders were in fact victims themselves so there were not the first responders available to do the things that the federal government normally works with them to do -- FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security.

 

            He was just reflecting on that reality, that sometimes a catastrophe can be sufficient that the first responders either aren't there because they're the victims themselves, or they're simply overwhelmed by the magnitude of it.  He was musing over the fact that therefore he is considering what to do about that unusual catastrophic situation, and he mentioned the armed forces in that connection, but it's not developed beyond that.

 

            We're going to have to go.  Thank you.

 

            REPRESENTATIVE HUNTER:  Thank you folks.  I'm sorry we don't have much time.