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Secretary Rumsfeld Media Stakeout following Briefing for Senators

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
October 22, 2003 5:20 PM EDT

(Also participating was Senator Jeff Sessions, and Gen. Richard Myers chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.)

 

            SEN. SESSIONS:  All right.  We had another very good briefing with the secretary of Defense and General Myers.  They stayed till every senator had every question they wanted to ask asked, beyond the allotted time that had been set there.

 

            I thought the questions were to the point, insightful and constructive.  It was a very, very good session.

 

            And with that, I'll turn it over to Secretary Rumsfeld.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  We'd be happy to answer a few questions.

 

            Q     Talk about your memo and --

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  How'd you feel about it?

 

            Q     I'm asking you about how you felt about having it published, and why you thought it was necessary to deliver that message.

 

            Q     Sir, can you step up to the microphones?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, if I had wanted it published, I would have issued it as a press release, which I didn't do.

 

            The reason I write those things is -- and ask questions is because I find it a useful thing to do.  The department's a big institution with a lot of people, and to operate, it needs to get into a rhythm and go along in a regularized way.  And sometimes that's good, and sometimes one needs to say to a big institution, "Hey, wait a minute.  Let's lift our eyes up and look out across the horizon and say are there questions that we ought to be asking ourselves?  Are we -- are there things that we ought to think about ways to do differently?"

 

            And I do it periodically.  It happened that I was thinking about the global war on terror, and I had recently heard a series of comments in reports to General Myers and me by our combatant commanders around the world in reporting where they were in the global war on terror.  And I started asking them these kinds of questions, then I went back to the office and put it down in a memo and sent it to three or four of my closest associates.

 

            GEN. MYERS:  Could I comment on it?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Sure.

 

            Q     (Off mike.)

 

            GEN. MYERS:  Let me just comment, and help maybe put this in context a little bit more.  The experts will tell you -- if you talk to somebody about change and transformation of anything, they'll tell you that the larger an organization and the older an organization is, the more difficult it is to change it.  And it's not going to happen unless you have the CEO bought into the need to change.

 

            And so, what you're seeing in this memo, I think, is -- the way we do business is, our boss is challenging us with a lot of questions on, you know, are we -- are we changing ourselves to deal with this 21st century threat environment we find ourselves in?  And it'd be interesting to count the number of question marks in that memo.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  (Laughs.)  A lot.

 

            GEN. MYERS:  I haven't done it, but I think -- there were -- there were not many declarative statements.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  (Laughs.)

 

            GEN. MYERS:  Most of them were question marks.

 

            (Cross talk.)

 

            Q     (Off mike) -- subject, on a different subject, do you think --

 

            Q     (Off mike) -- the 16th, have you received any input, feedback on it yet?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  We've had a discussion or two, that group and others, on it, yes.

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary, the president today was critical of General Boykin's comments.  I wonder, do you share his criticism of those comments.  And do you at this point think that General Boykin should step down while the IG investigation is underway?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  As I have answered to you -- yesterday, I believe -- and to the Pentagon press corps the first day this subject came up, that the president has very clear views on this subject.  We do not -- he does not, nor do I, believe that we're engaged in a war against a religion.  We're engaged in a global war on terrorism.  And the president has been very clear about it.  I have been very clear about it.  And obviously, our views are different from those views that the press is reporting in connection with General Boykin.

 

            Q    Do you think he should step down at this time, during the investigation?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Oh, no.  He's -- what's taking place is there's a -- he has requested an inspector-general review of the matter, and I think that was an appropriate thing to do.  And we'll let that play out.

 

            Q     Getting back to the memo, sir, you said in the memo it would be a long, hard slog, the reconstruction.  How long and how hard?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  You're incorrect.  The memo did not say the reconstruction would be a long, hard slog.

 

            Q     What did -- (off mike)?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  It said that -- first of all, the entire memo was cast about the global war on terror.  In a section of it -- and this is on the Internet, I think people can read it -- I mentioned that we can win Iraq -- the battle in Iraq and the battle in Afghanistan; it will be a slog, a long, hard slog.  But the big question is the broader one about the global war on terror.  And I didn't use that phrase in the connection with the subject of the memo, namely the global war on terror.

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary --

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  It will be a long -- as the president said, it's going to take time.  And it's going to require the use of all elements of national power to deal with the global war on terror.  It's not simply a Defense Department matter.  It's a matter for the Treasury Department, dealing with their finances, dealing with the education of people who are being trained to be terrorists.  That was the thrust of it.  That's --

 

            Q     (Off mike.)  (Inaudible) -- talking about -- (inaudible.)

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I had -- I asked questions.  I didn't answer questions.

 

            Q     Well, I'm asking the question, and what is your answer?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I'm a question-asker.  I should be sitting where you're sitting.  (Laughter.)

 

            STAFF:  Thanks a lot, but we got to go.  We got to go.

 

            Q     Mr. Secretary, do you think, in regards to the --

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I'll take one last question.

 

            Q     In regards to the global war on terrorism, do you think that there is an immediate need for some type of yardstick to measure the progress in the war?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  We have lots of yardsticks and metrics where we can measure things like what's taking place in Iraq, what's taking place in Afghanistan, how we're doing in the finances, how we're doing in capturing and killing, for example, the top 55 Iraqi leaders or the top al Qaeda leaders.  We know all those metrics.

 

            The tough one is the macro one.  How many young people are being taught to go out as suicide bombers and kill people?  That's the question.  How many are there?  And how does that in-flow of terrorists in the world get reduced so that the number of people being captured or killed is greater than the ones being produced?  There isn't anyone who knows a metric for that, because it's too vast and too complex.  But elevating that issue, I think, forces people to think about it in the broadest possible context, which is why I did so.

 

            Thanks very much, folks.

 

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