Press Availability with Secretary Rumsfeld at the House Ops Intell, Cannon House Office Building
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Thank you, Chairmen, plural, all three of you. Thank you so much. General Pace and Secretary Rice and Director Negroponte and I were here today in the Senate and the House to talk about this struggle that is taking place in the world against violent extremism. It has been called the Long War because it is not something that’s going to end quickly. It is, as has been suggested, something that requires all elements of national power. It’s partly military, it’s clearly a good portion intelligence, it’s foreign policy. It is a matter of putting pressure on the terrorists everywhere they are and everywhere we can, making things harder for them to do. It has to be more difficult for them to recruit, more difficult to move between countries, more difficult to get weapons, more difficult to move money, and, certainly, more difficult to conduct terrorist activities. There has been very good progress made in this conflict. What’s taking place in Afghanistanand Iraq are fronts in this broader, global struggle that’s taking place. The goal of terrorism is not to kill people, necessarily, it’s to terrorize people. It’s to alter the way they think, and it’s to alter their behavior and the way they live. And if there’s anything that strikes at free people, it is that. Free people have the benefit of being able to get up in the morning, and go where they wish and say what they wish and do what they wish, and terrorism is designed to terrorize them so they may not do that. So the countries that are the most open and the most free are the ones that are the most vulnerable, which is why the Chairman is so correct that we have to make sure that we take this battle to them wherever they are, and it’s a whale of a lot better to be dealing with them where they are than to have to deal with them here in the United States. Thank you.
QUESTION: When did you find out that the President was going to Iraq? Were you part of that?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I was part of that. I’ve been aware for a week, or so. Longer, now that I think about it, that he had contemplated that.
QUESTION: How did you keep it a secret?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Very skillfully. I told no one. The President wanted to go over there and sit down with Prime Minister Maliki and his cabinet and take the measure of a man. We had a good videoconference with the Iraqi cabinet and the Prime Minister from Camp David. President Bush, of course, was there with them. It was a good thing to do. It’s important that this government be supportive. The President wanted them to know we wanted to be supportive of them and that we wish them well. It’s the first permanent government. All of the previous ones have been interim. They were in transition, they were governing councils of varying stripes, and this is a government that was elected under a constitution drafted by the Iraqi people, approved by the Iraqi people, and they are there for four years. It’s important for the 28 million Iraqi people, who have been liberated, that they succeed. It’s important for the region that they succeed, and it’s important for the global war on terror that they succeed. Thank you, folks.