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Secretary Rumsfeld Media Stakeout at ABC News

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
November 02, 2003 12:00 PM EDT

Press:Good morning.


Rumsfeld:  Good morning.


Q: Few questions for you.  There are members of Congress both republican and democrat saying you haven’t given them enough assess to information that they need to make decisions on military funding and other things.  Do you have any plans to build up their confidence in the information that you’re giving them or giving them access to?


Rumsfeld:  Well I think when there are 535 members of the House and Senate there’s always going to be someone who disagrees with a policy or an approach.  We have spent more time providing information to the Congress--the House and Senate--I personally go up every week or two and spend enormous amount of time responding to questions.


We have people – staff people who would go every week and I would guess that there’s never been a conflict where more information has been communicated back and forth and understanding the fact that there’s always going to be someone who wish they’ve done something else.  So it’s just one of those things, it’s the nature of the world.


Q:  So you think that you’re doing enough and that when the Armed Services Committees specifically Warner says something he’s getting what he needs?


Rumsfeld:  We are [meeting] with Senator Warner you know frequently absolutely.


Q:  Do you have anything to say to the families of the people of the troops involved in the Chinook attack?


Rumsfeld:  Well, clearly yesterday [Sunday, November 2, 2003] was a tragic day in Iraq and your hearts and prayers have to be with those families and their loved ones and with those that were killed and wounded.


It was a terrible day, in war there are going to be terrible days and unfortunately it’s necessary to work our way through these things and ultimately we’re going to prevail.   The president understands the importance of what’s being done. Fortunately the young men and women serving there understand how important their work is and we will help the Iraqi people win their country and take over their security for the coalition. The Iraqi people have to provide for their own security and that effort is going very, very well.


We now have over 100,000 Iraqis who are participating in their own security and we expect that to be 200,000 by next year.


Q:  Major combat ended months and months ago, Saddam hadn’t been captured, the borders haven’t been sealed and the Republic Guard virtually vanished.  Are these the missteps that should have have been taken care of before?  And looking back on the things that should have been done that weren’t done?


Rumsfeld:  I wouldn’t call anything that you’ve mentioned a misstep.  But the fact of the matter is, that as the coalition forces came into the south, they moved very rapidly to the north and had battles along the way.  By the time they got to Baghdad there was resistance in Baghdad but no fortress Baghdad and in fact, many of the Iraqi troops just disappeared into their homes and threw down their weapons and left because it was clear they were going to be defeated.  So the Iraqi Army effectively disbanded itself what was left after the battles coming up from the south.  Anyone can do that, that’s their choice and what we have to do now is to take that small fraction of those people who are continuing to fight in what is clearly a low intensity conflict and find them, track them down, capture or kill them.   And it is a war but of a different type.


Q: Press is coming out about U.S. thinking about reconstituting entire Iraqi units.  Many view Ambassador Bremer’s decision a while back not to – or to dismantle those troops as a defining moment.  But yesterday Mr. Bremer made the comment that they’ve always welcomed these troops.  I mean can you clarify?


Rumsfeld:  Sure.  I did, I explained it.  What happened was, they disappeared, they disbanded themselves. What we have been doing since is reassembling them in various ways.  We’ve been out recruiting; you don’t go from zero Iraqis providing for their own security to 100,000 in six months by accident. Our plan is to take that 100,000 that we’ve recruited and double it into something in excess of 200,000.


These are policemen, border patrol, site protection people, civil defense and army.  And so have been out recruiting these former army people in many cases as well as other young men and women to come in and serve in these various security forces.  That’s where they’re all coming from.


Q:  Thank you Mr. Secretary.


Rumsfeld:  Thank you very much.

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