(Media stakeout on Capitol Hill. Also participating was Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.)
Rumsfeld: No, no, that would be wrong. Good afternoon. Terrific.
Q: Senator (Inaudible.) still say (Inaudible.) did you get many questions on where we are with respect to (Inaudible.)?
Rumsfeld: We had I think, one or two, and had a very good discussion and Chairman Porter Goss of the Intelligence Committee also commented on the subject and it was a good visit, lots of questions all across the lot -- Afghanistan, Iraq, global war on terror -- and the WMD [weapons of mass destruction] questions, the questions on the post-Saddam Hussein circumstance today under Ambassador Jerry Bremer, it was a good meeting.
Q: What do you tell the members about the WMD issue and the concerns they might have about the intelligence?
Rumsfeld: That my observation on the intelligence although it’s not my business but I read it, is that it’s been good, it’s been enriched as they’ve gone through this past period of years and that I believe that the presentation made by Secretary Powell was accurate and will be proved to be accurate.
Q: Sir, do you think it makes sense for Congress to investigate (Inaudible.)?
Rumsfeld: I think Congress under Article 1 of the Constitution has an obligation to conduct oversight and it’s their call as to whether they wish to do that, obviously if they decide to do that we would certainly cooperate, General Myers is here as well. And I think they are discussing how they may or may not want to do that now, I don’t know. I don’t deal with the intelligence committees, I deal with the armed services committees.
Q: You oversee a lot of the intelligence community, would the DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency] etcetera, cooperate with a Congressional investigation?
Rumsfeld: Oh my goodness of course, we cooperate with congressional work all the time.
Q: Mr. Secretary (Inaudible.) Chemical Ali (Inaudible.)?
Rumsfeld: I don’t know. He was in the southern part of the country, they had locations on him, they attacked locations where they believed him to be, there was some speculation afterwards that they thought that he’d been killed, now there’s some speculation that he may be alive but I just don’t know. Do you anything more about it?
Myers: No, that’s exactly right. I think through some of the interrogations they think that he may be alive right now so that’s how we’re carrying him actually.
Q: Are you concerned at all about the pace of establishing an Iraqi government, the Iraqis establishing an Iraqi government?
Rumsfeld: I’m really not, it seems to me that it’s a hard thing to do, to go from a dictatorship to a -- on a path towards some sort of representative government and it has to be an Iraqi model that evolves that they have ownership in. If you think about it, Adolf Hitler was elected, so elections are not the certain judge. You don’t want to have an election one time and then a dictator and then go right back to some dictator model. And you don’t want to have a model that is, in Iraq, that is different from the one that has been generally set forth, namely a single country, a country that doesn’t threaten its neighbors, a country that is respectful of the religious and ethnic composition of the country and that they have voice in their government. Now, does that happen in five minutes? No it doesn’t. Think of how long it took us in the United States -- eleven years from the Articles of Confederation to a Constitution. It takes time for Eastern Europe to do it. It’s taking time for Afghanistan to do it. They’re not going to have their elections for a permanent government I don’t believe until June of next year. So I think its important that there constantly be progress going forward, I think it’s important that Iraqis be engaged in all of those activities that will get them there -- that is to say a Constitutional convention of some sort, a process that will move it forward to an interim authority of some kind, and then some participation and then ultimately a permanent government. What that pace ought to be I don’t know and I know that Ambassador Bremer is doing a darn good job working on it.
Q: Mr. Secretary (Inaudible.).
Rumsfeld: Oh I don’t know. I didn’t hear what he said in the context that he said it, so I’m disinclined to comment on what Senator Byrd may have said.
Rumsfeld: Is that right? Well I like to do my own research so I think what I would say is that we haven’t found Saddam Hussein and I don’t know anyone whose running around saying he didn’t exist. It takes time. Does that sound reasonable?
Q: I like it.
Rumsfeld: Yeah, I like it too.
Q: Mr. Secretary (Inaudible.) bringing the warfighters home and turning the job over to somebody else?
Rumsfeld: Somebody else, who do you have in mind?
Q: Troops (Inaudible.) North Carolina, South Carolina.
Rumsfeld: Oh other American troops, oh I see. What we are doing two things -- and Dick you may want to comment -- but we are doing two things, one is we will have normal rotations and there will be people who leave and already a number of Naval personnel have left and a number of Air Force personnel have left and there will be a rotation set up for ground forces. In addition, we are doing a lot of I think you said today 41 --
Myers: Forty-one, we think when this is all, when it all sorts out, we’re working with - through different conferences, I think 41 nations that will contribute troops for the stability operations inside Iraq and of course they will be used to replace those forces that are in there now or augment them depending on the security situation but probably in most cases replace them, a fairly substantial force, yet in the final - we’re in the final details of that, it will take some time but we’re almost there.
Rumsfeld: The numbers that are committed to do that are countries are much smaller than 41. I think 41 is the number as Dick said that we’re in discussions with and in some cases it’s dependent on their parliaments. Now that the U.N. resolution is there a good deal of it is opened up and they’re able to do a lot of countries. Some still need their cabinets or their parliaments to agree and in some cases it’ll require raising funds to assist them or raising things like airlift or combat support, that type of thing. And we have to mix and match all of that and that process is taking place. The hope is that by fall, I think, September 1st --
Myers: It could be even earlier and it’s substantial numbers. I mean we’re talking large numbers here.
Rumsfeld: You’re shooting for 3 divisions.
Q: (Inaudible.) significant relief then (Inaudible.) rotation of these troops by the first of September?
Rumsfeld: No, don’t pin me down. The hope is that they would start going in by September I said, Dick said maybe sooner and that’s true, maybe sooner, but would say by September, by fall. And to what extent they would replace our forces is an open question because the security situation as General Myers says.
Myers: The security situation will drive that so it’s not going to be driven by a date.
Rumsfeld: Thank you. Good to see you all.