Interviewed by Katarina Bandini, WHDH, Boston
Q: As you know, Mr. Secretary, today in Baghdad was the deadliest day since the war ended. Red Cross, other aid agencies thinking of pulling back. How can you say we're winning the war to secure this country in Iraq? Isn't it the terrorists that are making the progress?
Rumsfeld: Well, this was a bad day yesterday, and there's no question about that. The attacks by the Iraqi terrorists against, for the most part against Iraqis, says something I think very important. It says that they attacked the police academy, they attacked the Red Cross, they attacked all of those activities that show that there's been success made in the country, that people are doing things, they're opening businesses, they're involved in hospitals and schools and the like, they're forming police units and an army, a governing council, and all of those things are happening and the terrorists are unhappy about it so they're increasing their levels of attack.
So what we have going on simultaneously is some successes taking place and an increase in probably Ba'athist and foreign terrorists and criminals attacking those successes.
Q: Would you say these resistance groups are more organized than you originally thought? And is there evidence these last several attacks, specifically the attack on the hotel and the Red Cross, were coordinated?
Rumsfeld: I don't know that they were coordinated but I think your first point is valid. In fact they're more coordinated and -- let me put it this way. They're more sophisticated than they previously were during the period from May 1 up until about a month ago.
Q: How are you going to stop these attacks? After all, the Al Rashid Hotel had a barrier around it, a protection zone around it, and still they hit it.
Rumsfeld: Your question's a terribly important one. What it points out is that the only way to deal with terrorists is not to hunker down and not try to defend against them, but you have to go after them and find them and capture them or kill them. A terrorist can attack at any time in any place using any technique, and it is physically impossible, anywhere in the world it's physically impossible to defend against terrorists at every moment of the day or night against every conceivable technique and in every conceivable place, which is why the policy of attacking terrorists and going after and finding them and finding their havens is literally the only way to deal with the global war on terror.
Q: Can you give us any specifics on what the Army, the military is doing right now to stop these groups?
Q: -- border, perhaps?
Rumsfeld: Indeed the military in Iraq are out chasing down terrorists and every day that goes by they're capturing and killing any number of remnants of the Ba'athist regime and the Saddam Hussein regime. They are conducting something like 1,700 patrols a day. They are active, working with Iraqi forces, security forces.
We now have something like 90,000 Iraqi security forces in the police, the border patrol, site protection, the army the civil defense corps, and these people are working very closely with the American forces. And the young men and women in our armed forces are doing an absolutely superb job. They're working closely with the Iraqis.
Q: You hear, part of an effort to get the media to focus on the good that's going on inside Iraq, but how can you do that when you yourself in that infamous memo said it's going to be "a long hard slog" and you question whether we're winning the war on terrorism?
Rumsfeld: First of all, the memo was not infamous. It's simply a memo that I wrote. It's part of my job. It seems to me that's what the Secretary of Defense's task is, is to see that we're doing the best possible job we can do to protect the American people from foreign terrorists.
I did say it's a tough hard slog, and it is. There's no question but that what we're doing in Afghanistan and Iraq is difficult work, it's dangerous work. It is work that is important, it has to be done, and we're making progress as we go along.
What I was talking about with the global war on terror is something other than Iraq and Afghanistan. It is the worldwide war. That is the issue I raised there, is an important one.
For example, we know the number of people that we're able to capture and kill that are terrorists that are trying to kill innocent men, women and children in this country and elsewhere in the world. What we don't know is how many people are becoming terrorists, coming out of these radical learning experiences in various schools around the world. That is the worry.
We need to have, in my view, a battle of ideas to see that we don't have continuous people moving into the terrorist world and becoming terrorists at a rate that is equal to or faster than we're able to capture and kill them. That was the point I was raising.
Q: I understand that.
People here are frustrated, growing more frustrated. We, as you may know, have lost local soldiers in Iraq. One viewer said, "How can you trust the Administration when no weapons of mass destruction have been found? We still cannot find Saddam Hussein."
Rumsfeld: If you look at the FBI list in the United States, there are people who have been on that list for 10-15 years. It's very hard to find a single human being.
What we do know is that Saddam Hussein is not running Iraq. He is not butchering tens of thousands of people. He's not using chemicals against his neighbors or his own people as he did previously.
Now with respect to the weapons of mass destruction, the intelligence said what it said. It was presented by the President and by Secretary Powell. We believed it to be true then, we believe it to be true now. The Iraqi Survey Group under the leadership of Dr. David Kay is proceeding in an orderly way with some 1,200 people dealing with a country the size of California. We have not seen any evidence to suggest that the intelligence was wrong.
You're quite right, we have not developed information that demonstrates conclusively that it was right, but by the same token we don't have evidence that it was wrong. It seems to me, we've been at it now for about five months and reasonable people would expect that in a state the size of California you'd allow a reasonable amount of time to do this important job.
Q: All right, Mr. Secretary. It's been a privilege. I hate to cut it off because there are so many things we could ask but I understand my time is up. I want to thank you very much.
Rumsfeld: Thank you.
Interviewed by Lisa Thomasori, WPVI, Philadelphia, ABC Affiliate
Q: Right now Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld joins us live from the Pentagon in Washington tonight to speak to us about the war in Iraq and the global war on terrorism. Mr. Secretary, thank you for taking time to join us.
Let's begin with today's violence, namely the attack on the Red Cross headquarters and the several police stations. President Bush today said that the new wave of attacks shows just how desperate the enemy has become. Does this mean, do you think this means we are making progress rooting out those behind the attacks? And can we expect an escalation of the violence?
Rumsfeld: I think it's not really possible to know whether there will be continued escalation. Certainly in the last three or four weeks we've seen an escalation in the violence. We've also seen a number of successes take place in Iraq. And interestingly, the terrorists seem to be targeting those successes. They've attacked police academies, graduating classes, for example. They've killed one of the Governing Council members. They have attacked the Red Cross.
For the most part they are killing Iraqis. A large number of Iraqis have been killed by the terrorists that are engaged in these activities. Any time any one loses their life it's a tragedy and our heart goes out to them and their families and their loved ones -- whether it's an American or a Coalition member or an Iraqi.
But it seems to me that the U.S. military, the young men and women, are doing a superb job. They are conducting some 1,700 patrols a day and they're making headway in capturing and killing these terrorists which is what ultimately has to be done.
Q: Sir, the Philadelphia region is home, as you know, to several thousand Reservists and National Guard members. They've been activated for duty. Several weeks ago the Pentagon announced an extension of their tours into next year.
What do you say to the families and employers of these citizen soldiers who are trying to cope with the prolonged separation?
Rumsfeld: Well what the Army has done is they've established up to one year of service in country in Iraq, for example. And what you have to say to them is that the total force concept works. That we have all volunteers. There's nobody who's been conscripted. Every single person raised their hand and stepped up and said we're willing to volunteer for this mission. They're doing an absolutely superb job and our country is deeply in their debt.
The work they're doing is tough, it's under difficult conditions, and they are proud of what they're doing, they recognize the importance of their mission, and I and certainly our country are deeply appreciative and grateful to them.
Q: Again, we thank you for taking time. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, thank you for joining us this evening.
Rumsfeld: Thank you.
Interviewed by Paul Moyer, KNBC, Los Angeles
Q: We were on the air pretty much all day yesterday with these fires. May I ask something about that to begin with?
Q: Do you know what the United States government, the military, is doing to help us fight these fires out here?
Rumsfeld: I know that the U.S. government support for California depends on a request being made by the Governor of California, which as I understand it he made late yesterday. He declared an emergency and expressed a request.
I signed a deployment order about 30 minutes ago that is going to deploy some aircraft to assist and I know that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, is currently involved. I was with the President this morning and he indicated that he stands ready to be responsive and assist the people of California and the Governor of California.
Q: The Governor's office, the Democrats out here are grousing a little bit, saying that it took too long. There was too much red tape and too much bureaucracy and you didn't respond quick enough. Do you want to respond to that?
Rumsfeld: Oh, no. That's not anything to do with the Department of Defense and I just wouldn't know what the details are. That's FEMA. My guess is, I was told this morning by the Chief of Staff of the White House, Andy Card, that they sent a team of people out there to assist the Governor in taking care of any required statutory, administrative process that's necessary to deploy forces, to deploy assistance I should say.
Q: All right, sir.
The attacks against the Al Rashid Hotel in which Mr. Wolfowitz was staying, the suicide bombings against the Red Cross center in Baghdad of late, things like this seem to be happening more and more. Have we misjudged the tenacity of the resistance in Iraq?
Rumsfeld: Well what we are seeing is in the last three or four weeks we've seen an increase in the number of incidents per week. There's no question about that. What it reflects, interestingly, is they tend to be attacking successes that are taking place in Iraq. They've killed one of the Governing Council members. They attacked, for example, the police academy at a graduation ceremony. They have attacked the International Red Cross.
The overwhelming majority of the people they're killing are Iraqis, fellow Iraqis. The terrorists, the remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime clearly are disturbed that progress is being made in that country and they're attempting to dissuade the Iraqi people from cooperating with the Coalition.
I think that reasonably we have to expect that that will go on for a bit.
Q: Are you saying these attacks are an indication that we're being more successful?
Rumsfeld: Well, I'll give you an example. We had no Iraqis providing for Iraqi security in May or June. Today we have about 90,000 Iraqis doing that. They're in the army, the police force, the border patrol, site protection, police. All of that is a success, that you could end up going to 90,000. I think it's a success anyway, and obviously the terrorists do because they're trying to attack those people. They've killed over 85 Iraqis who were involved in providing security.
Q: How do you expect the American people to vibrate to the positive spin that you're trying to put on this and the President's trying to put on this when Americans are being killed, there are attacks each and every day, and this latest attack at the Al Rashid, they penetrated a defense area, a secure defense area.
How can the American people see it your way when these things are happening every day and Americans are being killed?
Rumsfeld: First of all, I'm not putting a positive spin on it. I just have said that this is a tough business, it's a dangerous business, it's always a tragedy when Americans get killed or Iraqis get killed, and it's a war, a low intensity conflict that's taking place. So your suggesting that that's a rosy picture I think is a misunderstanding of the situation.
Second, I would say you asked about the American people. My experience with the American people over 71 years of my lifetime is that they've got a pretty good center of gravity. They are thoughtful, and they weigh things and they listen and they make judgments, and they tend not to rush to judgment simply because people say things that may or may not be true.
Q: General Boykin made some comments, religiously insensitive comments having to do with the Muslim religion. I won't go into them for the sake of time, but because of those well-publicized comments is his dismissal under consideration by your department, sir?
Rumsfeld: What we've done is, at his request, we have initiated an Inspector General review, and while that review is going forward my instinct is to not comment on it.
I've indicated that the President has expressed himself that this is not a war against religion. I've expressed myself that it's not a war against a religion. We both believe that very deeply and we'll see what the Inspector General review produces.
Q: Is there a chance that he will be fired?
Rumsfeld: We'll see what the Inspector General review produces.
Q: All right.
The increased role of National Security Advisor Rice in post-war Iraq, does that make you uncomfortable, sir? Does that threaten you?
Rumsfeld: No. That's the job of the National Security Council is to coordinate among the various departments and agencies.
Have you talked to President Bush about your possibly continuing in the Administration if and when he should be reelected?
Rumsfeld: No, I've not talked to him. I'm with him frequently. I was with him this morning for some time along with John Abizaid and Ambassador Bremer, but that's not a subject that comes up at all.
Q: Do you want to stay?
Rumsfeld: My instinct is to serve my country the best way I can, and how that might be at any given time is something I suppose we'll worry about later.
Q: The memo that you wrote that was leaked and you described I believe the war on terrorism as a "long, hard slog." Why did you write that?
Rumsfeld: I do that frequently. My belief is that it's the job of the Secretary of Defense to ask tough questions and I think you misread the memorandum. If I'm not mistaken I think I said that the work in Iraq and Afghanistan is winnable, but it will be a long, hard slog. I did not say that about the global war on terror.
What I said about the global war on terror in the broadest sense is that it's very important that we see that we address the problem of new terrorists coming along every week, month and year. We're out finding terrorists where they are, going after them, capturing them and killing them because that's the only way you can deal with the terrorists. You can't hunker down and sit there and think you can defend at every time, at every place, against every conceivable terrorist technique. That's not possible. We have to go after them.
What I was doing there was raising in my view very important questions about how our country's organized and arranged and trained and equipped to do this job over a sustained period of time.
Q: Mr. Rumsfeld, thank you for your patience, and thank you for sitting here for me.
Rumsfeld: You bet.
Interviewed Allen Kraschevski, WLS, Chicago
Q: Mr. Secretary, this is Allen Kraschevski in Chicago. Can you hear me?
Rumsfeld: I can, Allen. How are you?
Q: I'm doing terrific, thanks. Thanks for your time. I appreciate it.
I've heard some of your comments already so I won't cover some ground that's already been covered.
Let me ask you just initially to respond to the New York Times story today which claims that an unnamed top military official is saying that there was specific intelligence regarding an imminent attack at the Al Rashid Hotel, and yet no special precautions were taken. What would you say to that?
Rumsfeld: I don't know that that's true. If anyone's ever looked at intelligence over any period of time, on any given day there will be literally hundreds of scraps of intelligence that need to be sorted through. But whether there was with respect to that would be something that would only be known locally, and I don't have any reason to know that it is or is not correct.
Q: Granted we have hindsight now, but in your opinion was security lax on the hotel's perimeter?
Rumsfeld: I wasn't there. It's the kind of thing that people, combatant commanders and people in charge of security worry about. They're professionals. They do their best. And we have to wait and see what the outcome might be.
I think it's important to put it into perspective, however, and that is that a terrorist can attack at any time, any place, using any technique. And it is not possible to defend against every conceivable technique at every moment of the day or night in every place on the face of the earth. So the fact that a terrorist can be successful in an attack ought not to be surprising.
That's why the approach of going after the terrorists where they are is literally the only way in the world to effectively combat terrorism and win this global war on terror.
Q: As you look at what's going [on] over there today, is there a sense that these attacks are becoming much more coordinated in terms of whoever is pulling them off?
Rumsfeld: I think there's a likelihood that there's an increase in coordination. I don't have any evidence of that at the moment with respect to these attacks, but they certainly, we've seen an increase in the number of attacks in the last three or four weeks. We know that. And to some degree they show an increased sophistication.
Q: In terms of who may be responsible are they former Ba'athists, are they Saddam loyalists, or perhaps non-Iraqis?
Rumsfeld: We know that there are a lot of former regime loyalists and Ba'athists that are engaged in this, and we know they have money. They stole a lot from the Iraqi people.
We also know that there are some foreign terrorists that have come into the country. We've collected up over 200 of them, a great many of them Syrian and Lebanese, and they're in jail, in prison. And we've killed a number.
There also were something like 100,000 criminals that Saddam Hussein let out of the prisons and some of those individuals may very well be being paid by the Ba'athists to engage in some of these acts. So I would guess it's a mixture of those three.
Q: Any evidence that, so to speak, the price for getting people to do these type of acts is increasing because of the increased visibility and difficulty in pulling them off?
Rumsfeld: I have no knowledge as to what the price is at the moment, although we've found people who have money on them. But what the going rate is for any given act of that type is something that I'm not in a position to comment on at the moment.
Q: With our success linked to the stabilization of security there, I'd like to get just your thoughts on the challenge that you face in achieving post-war security and whether you believe that perhaps it's much greater than you anticipated.
Rumsfeld: The challenge is real. You have a country the size of California. There are about 23 million people. The overwhelming majority of the people are very pleased that the Coalition countries are there. They're anxious to have them stay and contribute to security. We are very rapidly increasing the Iraqi security forces. We've gone from zero around June up to close to 90,000 today -- Iraqis who are in various types of uniforms -- police, site protection, border patrol, army and the like, that are helping to provide for the security of the Iraqi people.
Our task is to keep training those people up as fast as we can, see that they assume that responsibility for providing security for their own country. It's their country. In the last analysis they're going to have to take over these responsibilities and the sooner the better. And it's coming along very, very well.
Will we be able to do it? I believe we will. I think that if we're able to continue to train the Iraqis and transfer responsibility for running the government at a certain moment we'll see the numbers of attacks against Iraqis decline because the people will be providing more and more intelligence to stop the Ba'athists from doing it.
Q: And you continue to believe that can occur without additional American troop strength?
Rumsfeld: Well, there's not a single commander we have that's asked for more American military strength. The overall security forces have been going up every week as we've gone from zero to 90,000 Iraqis involved in their own security. We've held our forces level, and the Coalition forces about level. But the aggregate force has gone up almost every week.
Q: I'm going to break from this line of questioning and ask you the question that Time Magazine poses today. Do you feel you're losing your mojo?
Rumsfeld: I haven't seen that, but no, I really don't. I think we've got an awful lot of important things going on here in the department. We're making progress in transforming the department to fit the 21st Century. Indeed right now pending before the Congress is a piece of legislation that could be historic in giving the department the kinds of authorities it needs to better manage the department in the interests of the American people. Significant changes in the personnel system, and a variety of other legislative changes which if we're able to get the conference completed some time this week really could prove to be a stunning accomplishment.
Q: Do you have any sense whatsoever that people, and I'm talking about on the Republican side, consider you a liability for the Administration? Or no?
Rumsfeld: No, I don't. I've got, I go up there every week for one thing or another and have folks down. Always with 535 members of the House and the Senate there's going to be someone who disagrees with you, and there's always press that likes to play that up and have conflict. But for every person who has one opinion in the Congress there's someone who has the opposite opinion.
I noticed that one person was suggesting that we take a certain course of action yesterday, and today the Majority Leader and the leader of the United States Senate came out and took the position that I've taken.
So it's the way it is in this town.
Q: I want to ask you just briefly to respond to Senator McCain’s comments over the weekend saying that he believes you've been less than truthful in your public comments regarding how we're faring in Iraq. Are there two sides, Mr. Secretary, to what you say publicly and what you say privately to those closest to you, or no? Is it the same story?
Rumsfeld: No there isn't. Anyone who goes back and listens carefully to what I've said they'll find that I've said exactly what I think. That tends to be my pattern.
Q: Are you glad your memo's out?
Rumsfeld: Oh, not really. If I had wanted it to go out I would have issued it as a press release. But I've been around this town for awhile, and things do leak. I re-read that memo and it reads pretty well to me. I think it's a pretty good memo.
Q: Do you think it in any way serves to further open the discussion regarding the difficulties that may lie ahead to get people talking about this and what should be done?
Rumsfeld: That's fine with me. I think these are important issues and they're the kind of questions that members of the House and members of the Senate and members of the Administration and thoughtful people ought to be asking.
Q: As it relates to global terror, do you see us making a discernable dent in this problem?
Rumsfeld: I do. There's no question we're having a lot of success in the global war on terror. I mean you just look at the thousands of people who have been arrested and detained. It's much more difficult for terrorists to move money. It's more difficult for them to get their hands on weapons. It's more difficult for them to move between countries. Undoubtedly we've made a big impact on both al Qaeda and on the senior Iraqi people.
On the other hand I'm sure there are new terrorists being trained. And what I raised in the memo was, what's the balance there? We've got to see that we have programs that dissuade people from joining the terrorist networks, and programs that dissuade countries from harboring terrorists. That's what we're trying to do. It's tough work, it's a difficult job, and we've got an awful lot of wonderful people in a 90-nation coalition working on it.
Q: Our time may almost be up here, perhaps it is up, but no Saddam Hussein yet. How important is it to the American cause, dead or alive?
Rumsfeld: I have to say thank you. I'm told the time is up.
Q: Okay, Mr. Secretary. Thank you. I appreciate your time. Thanks so much.
Interviewed by Bill Scheckner, KPIX, San Francisco
Q: Thank you very much for making yourself available to us.
It's been nearly six months since the fall of Baghdad and the latest attacks have come inside what's called the Green Line which is supposed to be the safest area in Baghdad. Is this situation out of control?
Rumsfeld: No, I wouldn't think it's out of control. There's no question, however, but that the number of attacks and incidents have increased in the last three or four weeks, and particularly in the last 48 hours. It looks to be a pattern of regime loyalists and Ba'athists, former Saddam Hussein henchmen, that are engaged in this process. Undoubtedly there are also some foreign terrorists who have come across the lines from Iran and from Syria. We've arrested over 200 of those folks, but I don't doubt for a minute but that there are more of them out there. They're just run of the mill terrorists. In addition there were about 100,000 criminals, 120,000, that were let out of Saddam Hussein's jails who very likely are involved in some of the acts that we've seen take place.
Q: If the situation is not out of control, then how would you describe it? Here are these four explosions today, a major explosion just last week, one before that. How would you describe it?
Rumsfeld: Well, you describe it as a country the size of California with 23 million people and with thousands of former Ba'athists and criminals, tens of thousands of criminals, and hundreds of foreign terrorists that are determined to defeat the Coalition and reestablish a vicious dictatorship in the country of Iraq. And you've got a Coalition of some 32 countries that is determined that that not happen.
And we now have not just 32 countries, but we have the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people anxious to see that that does not happen who are in support of the Coalition.
Indeed, we now have 85 or 90,000 Iraqis helping to provide security for the country of Iraq, and they have lost 85 people, Iraqis, who have been fighting in the front line to provide security for Iraq. They've been killed all in the last four months.
What's happening is a low intensity conflict. It is a war of a kind, it's a low intensity war, but it's a serious one, it's a dangerous one, it's a difficult one, and it's going to take some time.
Q: Would you say it's a guerrilla war we're facing?
Rumsfeld: I don't know. I personally prefer the phrase low intensity conflict. Guerrilla war implies that there's broad support in the country to a certain extent, or there might be broad support in the country, for a resistance movement of some type. And I just don't see that in this situation.
The polls we've seen, the information we see, when you drive around that country people wave and come up to you and are very friendly. The polls indicate that the overwhelming majority of the people want the Coalition to stay there and provide security and assist them.
Look, it's a vicious dictatorship that was thrown out of office, didn't like it, and it's trying to get back in.
Q: Last week a memo surfaced in which despite your public optimism you characterize the situation in Iraq as requiring a "long, hard slog". Respectfully, sir, is there anything about what's happening now that you're not telling the American people?
Rumsfeld: No. And indeed you say despite your public optimism. I don't think what I've just said is terribly optimistic. I think it's very realistic what I've just said and what I've said consistently. And what I asked in the question was for the most part not any assertions, but they were questions. In the memo I asked probably 10, 15 separate questions which I think are important to be asked. I think it's terribly important that all of us, members of the House, the Senate, the Administration, thoughtful people in the country, ask those tough questions and see that we're doing the best possible job of defending the American people. I consider that part of my job.
Q: You're saying today, sir that what's happening is not a guerrilla war, that the opponents of the American troops there do not have the majority support. How can you convince the American public that you're being forthcoming?
Rumsfeld: I just tell the truth. I don't quite understand your question, the implication of it. What I've done all my life is tell what I honestly believe and it seems to have worked.
The discussions I've had on this subject over the past period of months have been analytical for the most part, and it seems to me that that's what my task is. I don't have to persuade people. All I have to do is tell the truth.
Q: The commander of the California National Guard said recently that all of his troops should expect to see duty in Iraq, Kuwait, or somewhere in the Mid-East this next year. How many more reservists is the Pentagon planning to call up in the next six months?
Rumsfeld: I've made a conscious decision to not enter into that subject and let the Army and the Air Force and the Navy and the Marines manage the rotation of forces.
What we do know is this. That we have about 130,000 active and reserve forces in Iraq, and that for the most part we've agreed that they will serve up to 12 months in Iraq, and they then would be rotated out, which means that additional forces would be brought in to replace them. In some instances those additional forces will be American forces, active duty; some will be Reserve and Guard; in some instances they are going to be Coalition forces from other countries. We already have two Coalition divisions. The British lead one and the Polish division is the second. And we have in discussions now with about 14 other countries to bring their forces into the country.
The other thing that's happening is we now have 85,000 Iraqis who are filling in the gap in terms of providing security in the country. Our goal is over time to hand over the responsibility for security in that country to the Iraqi people. It's their country and that's basically their job.
Q: Thank you very much, Mr. Rumsfeld. I appreciate your taking the time this afternoon.
Rumsfeld: You bet.
Interviewed by Glenn Cannon, WNYW, New York
Voice: All this week Fox 5 News will be granted exclusive access to top members of the Bush Administration. We're going to talk to them about this tragedy in Iraq and the global war on terror. We start tonight with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Voice: Fox 5's Len Cannon is here right now with that for us. Glenn?
Q: Linda, John, thank you, and joining us from Washington is Secretary Rumsfeld. Mr. Rumsfeld, are you there?
Rumsfeld: I am indeed.
Q: Mr. Rumsfeld, first of all it has been a horrible 24 hours in Iraq. Why has it been so difficult to maintain security there?
Rumsfeld: Well if you think about it there were about 110,000 criminals that were let out of the Iraqi jails by Saddam Hussein; there are thousands of former regime loyalists and Ba'athists who benefited greatly from his dictatorship; and there are some foreign terrorists who have come into the country. They're determined to try to defeat the Iraqi people and reimpose a dictatorship on their country.
The Iraqi people overwhelmingly don't want that to happen.
Q: Well clearly that's the case, but it seems as there's an attack at least every other day. What do you say to Americans who are thinking, you know what? We're getting bogged down in a guerrilla fight that we cannot win.
Rumsfeld: Well, there are more attacks than every other day. Indeed the last two days there were quite a few. And we've seen an increase over the last three or four weeks.
It is not a war that has to be lost. Indeed, I believe it's a war that can be won, and I wouldn't characterize it as a guerrilla war, although some people do. I think of it as a low intensity conflict and --
Q: How could you not say it's guerrilla warfare when you have one attack after another, four today, all suicide bombings, not one-on-one confrontation, but coming out of nowhere? That looks like guerrilla warfare.
Rumsfeld: Well maybe it does to you. I got to the dictionary and it doesn't look like it to me. It looks like terrorists.
Q: You said in a recent memo that the Coalition forces would win the war in Afghanistan, in Iraq, one way or another but victory would come only with what you called "a long, hard slog." Now what do you say to the public when they get tired of this long, hard slog and demand that the troops come home?
Rumsfeld: Well, it's not clear to me that you know the public better than anybody else. It strikes me that the American people have a very good center of gravity. They know that a terrorist can attack at any time, at any place, using any technique, and they know that it's much better to be fighting terrorists outside the United States than inside the United States.
Q: Are you saying then that the public should be prepared to deal for perhaps years with mounting troop loss to try and reconstruct Iraq?
Rumsfeld: I'm not saying that. I'm saying what I said. That is that it's going to be -- It's dangerous work. The young men and women in uniform are doing a superb job. We now have something like 85,000 Iraqis that are providing for their own security and our hope is to continue to train the Iraqi police, the Iraqi army, the site protection, the border patrol, civil defense forces of Iraq, and have them take over this responsibility to provide security for their own country. That's their job. I see that that's the task before us, and that's what we're doing and we're doing it well.
We've gone from zero to about 85,000 Iraqis engaged in security in about five months. That's impressive.
Q: Mr. Rumsfeld, isn't Israel the lesson here, that you really cannot hope to defeat terrorism but only hope to contain it? Isn't that much more realistic?
Rumsfeld: I think you're right. The world has had terrorists for centuries, and I suspect that there will be terrorists for a good many years into the future. What one can't do is simply hunker down and think that you can hide from them.
Free people need to be free. The only way to deal with terrorism is to take the battle to them.
The difference with Israel is Israel lives in Israel. We don't live in Iraq. Our task is not to hunker down and have to live there. Our task is to train the Iraqi people and get them on a path of self-government so that they take over the security for their country, and that's what we're doing. And we're doing it at a very rapid clip.
Q: All right. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Thank you very much for joining us today.
Rumsfeld: You bet.