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Secretary Rumsfeld Press Availability en route to Singapore

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
June 02, 2004
Secretary Rumsfeld Press Availability en route to Singapore

Q:  [Inaudible]


RUMSFELD:   I like that [Inaudible]. 


Q:  Sir, [Inaudible]


RUMSFELD:  You want me where? 


Q:  [Inaudible], sir.


RUMSFELD:  Over there?


Q:  [Inaudible]  Thank you, sir.


RUMSFELD:  All right.   I have had three briefings this afternoon and I’ve been able to make good use of this facility.  As you all know, we’re headed for Singapore.  And if you’ve not seen the air refueling, you might want to walk up and see it.  It’s interesting.  As you know, this is the National Airborne Command -- Operation Center and it’s an interesting site up there.  We go to Singapore.  I’ve got meetings with the deputy prime minister in Singapore.  I’ll be with the minister of defense.  I’m going to the aircraft carrier [Inaudible].  I’m meeting with the Essex Strike Group out of Japan that’s in – is, I think, close to 5,000 Navy and Marine folks in that area and we’ll be doing a re-enlistment ceremony and then – adding a town hall and answering questions there. 


I have bilaterals, as I recall, with Japan, Australia, Singapore, Korea, and possibly one or two others that they’re working on.  I think I speak tomorrow morning.  No, but – Saturday morning – the next morning.  And then after lunch, we go to Bangladesh and we’ll be meeting there with the foreign minister and the prime minister who’s also the defense minister and some military officers and then returning home.  And I am not going to go to Normandy, which I had hoped to try to do, but it just wasn’t possible to pack it all in.  So that’s what’s up.


Q:  Mr. Secretary, [Inaudible] the regional maritime security initiative you all are proposing.  How important is it to protect shipping security and [Inaudible] that area and [Inaudible] and what is the U.S. prepared to offer and what other countries that you’d like to see join?  How important is that? 


RUMSFELD:   I’m going to let you talk to Admiral Walt Doran who’s going to be out there with me.  Apparently, what happened was that Admiral Fargo mentioned it in some testimony.  It was misreported.  I know you’re shocked to hear that that could even happen, but it did.  And I’m told it was misreported and then repeated, as happens in life.  It goes in the morgue and then somebody takes it out and misreports it again and pretty soon, it becomes fact almost.  But they’re in the process of trying to unravel all of that and it is in its early stages.  They’re in a consultation mode.  And so I’ll let Admiral Doran – give you a good deal about it.  And it’s too bad that that happened, but it did. 


Q:  But [Inaudible] maritime security in that area.  [Inaudible].


RUMSFELD:   I’m not going to get into it.  What’s important is that we have a lot of good friends and a lot of good allies in this region and that the United States is not going to be doing anything that we haven’t discussed with them and coordinated and cooperated with.  And as I say, it is not what has been reported. 


Q:  Set the record straight [Inaudible].


RUMSFELD:   I just said, I’m going to have you talk to Admiral Doran and he will walk you through it in detail. 


Q:  And [Inaudible] you’re hoping to do in the conference, in your bilateral meetings with the individual countries:  France, Japanese, the [Inaudible]?


RUMSFELD:   Yeah.  Very close relationships with Australia, with Japan, with Korea, with Singapore.  And they are multifaceted relationships.  They’re obviously political and economic, but they’re also in-depth security relationships.  In each case, we do many things with those countries.  They’re in some cases, involved in Afghanistan, in some cases involved in Iraq, in some cases involved in both, in some cases involved in missile defense.  We have various training activities together.  We share intelligence.  We’re all involved in the global war on terror.  And we try to meet fairly frequently with those countries because of the closeness of the relationship and the importance of the relationship. 


Q:  [Inaudible] ask any of these countries to contribute more troops to Iraq or to consider sending troops to Iraq?


RUMSFELD:   I doubt it.  We have asked the world to assist Iraq and Afghanistan.  And a very large number of countries have stepped up and agreed to do that.  I think it’s -- last time I looked, 33 in Iraq -- plus or minus a few -- and in Afghanistan, slightly fewer.  They’re assisting with troops, in many cases.  They’re assisting with humanitarian assistance in some places.  They are assisting in training police and military forces in cooperation with us.  They have – a large number of the countries in that region have been or most of the countries in the region are cooperating with the global war on terror, which is an 80-nation coalition. 


But in terms of specifically going in and asking if there’s something specific, I doubt it.  Certainly, they all know that, first of all, a number of them are already participating in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But my feeling is that each country ought to do what it’s comfortable doing.  And they know our interest in having a lot of nations invest themselves in the success in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And I don’t think we need to go in and say would you please do this, that or the other thing.  They’re all cooperating.  Some are cooperating in maritime interdiction activities, [Inaudible]. 


Q:   The United States has decided to take some troops out of South Korea and send them to Iraq.  What would you say to those countries who’d [Inaudible] that as a sign that the situation in Iraq is [Inaudible] down.  Our U.S. forces not part of the world [Inaudible] but – and maybe [Inaudible] the U.S. convincing them you can stay [Inaudible]?


RUMSFELD:   Well, that would be false.  As General Pace and General Myers have both testified to in repeated press briefings when that same question comes up as it does about monthly, they have done a series of analysis and there is no question whatsoever that the United States of America is capable of executing its defense strategy which includes, as we use the phrase, a situation, a conflict where we win decisively and then a second one where we swiftly defeat an enemy that intends to do something and that is not an issue. 


We are in the process of adjusting our forces worldwide.  We’ve been working on it for 2.5 years.  We’ve got excellent cooperation from companies across the globe and we’ve taken our time with it.  We’ve consulted extensively in the Congress and with our friends and allies.  And one of the things that everyone -- including you -- are going to have to get over is the idea that numbers of troops or numbers of things or how one assesses capability, because it’s just factually not the case anymore.  And you can have 10 ships and take three away and replace a few of the remaining seven with ships that are vastly more capable and you end up with a slower number of things in a vastly greater capability and lethality and that’s true of almost all kinds of capabilities we have.  We will not – this country will not – weaken the deterrent or the defense capabilities that we have, even though numbers and locations may shift and evolve as technologies advance and as circumstances change.  We have been for a long time in, in effect, where we were when the Cold War ended.  And it’s time to adjust those locations from static defense through a more agile and a more capable and a more 21st century posture. 


Q:  What would you be doing in places like Guam to enhance our military capabilities?


RUMSFELD:   What we’re doing is first we looked at each area of responsibility, then we looked at the globe totally and connected those things.  Then we worked with Congress.  Then we worked with the rest of the executive branch of the federal government.  Then we began having preliminary meetings with the countries that would be the most effective.  And then we said, OK, pretty good.  We have a good chance at what we think we’d like to do.  But we don’t know what we will do until we go out and try to do what we would like to do and that means you go to a country and you say here are the things that are important to us. 


We want our forces where they’re wanted, where it’s hospitable.  We want them where they’re usable.  We don’t want forces located where we can’t move them and deal with the problems that exist in the world.  The American taxpayers aren’t going to have one defense department for this country and another one for that country and another one for some other country.  We have one Defense Department for the United States of America and we have to be able to use it to the best advantage.  So, for example, if you’re located in a country that decides they don’t want you to be able to move those forces at some point or they decide that – if their neighbor decides that they won’t allow you to move them, that means they’re less usable and that has to effect this.  Cost will effect this. 


So what we’ll do is we’ll begin that process of -- we have got choices.  We’re not in a position of being a supplicant.  We’ve got value.  And what we can do is to start talking to a country and say here’s an idea.  How do you feel about that?  We don’t want to do anything some other country doesn’t want us to do; we don’t need to.  We’ve got a variety of different ways we can do this.  There’s not one template or one model that will be sat down and say that’s it.   So there’s not going to be any big announcement on this.  We’ll start with a country and if it’s not comfortable, we’ll try the second choice and see if that’s better and the third choice.  And we’ll just work our way around until we get it all done and they’ll get announced in pieces.  And when it’s all over, our country will be vastly better off.  The friends and allies of the United States will be vastly better off and we will look from somewhat different than we currently do.


Q:  [Inaudible]


[Cross Talk]


RUMSFELD:   I can go on and on. 


[Cross Talk]


RUMSFELD:   It’s going to take awhile for me to get Jim straightened out.  [Laughter.]


Q:  I wanted to ask you about the Chalabi [Inaudible].  Has anybody in the Pentagon or Defense Department been questioned or interviewed by the FBI on this?


RUMSFELD:   Well, the Pentagon has how many people?


Q:  20,000.


RUMSFELD:   Twenty – oh – oh, you’re talking about just the Pentagon?


Q:  [Inaudible] how many [Inaudible]


RUMSFELD:   The Defense Department.  That’s bigger than 20,000.


Q:  [Inaudible]


RUMSFELD:   Now, come on.  First of all, I don’t have any knowledge that anyone has, but it would be, you know, there’s things going on all the time.  But I have heard nothing that anyone has been interviewed.  Is that your question?


Q:  [Inaudible] interview request?


RUMSFELD:   Is that the correct answer?  Yeah, I just don’t know.  


Q:  Do you also know whether anybody who works for you [Inaudible] was involved in…


RUMSFELD:   Who works for me?  Two, three million people, civilian military.


Q:  [Inaudible] do you know of anybody who was involved?


RUMSFELD:   I tell you, the press is reporting that there is an investigation going on.  I do not have personal knowledge of that.  I’ve asked somebody and it may very well be the case.  And normally when that’s the case, you let those things run their course.  I mean, law enforcement is law enforcement.  And if there are people involved in an investigation, then that’s a good thing. 


Q:  [Inaudible] the investigation is it also [Inaudible]…


RUMSFELD:   I don’t know that there’s an investigation.  I said I’d read that in the press.  And if there is one, then that’s a good thing because people ought to be investigating possible wrongdoing if there has been wrongdoing. 


Q:  [Inaudible] someone that you know if there’s an investigation.  Do you know if Ahmed Chalabi passed information personally to Iran?


RUMSFELD:   How would one know that if there’s – the people who investigate things come to conclusions and then they proceed in a law enforcement manner on things like this.  And one doesn’t know the answer to that until:  a, the investigation is over; and b, a prosecution is taking place; and c, a judgment’s been rendered.  So how can I even begin to answer something like that?


Q:  [Inaudible] where U.S. officials [Inaudible] something like that to Chalabi?


RUMSFELD:    I tell you, if I get into these hypothetical questions about what about this, what about that, it’s not a subject that I’m into.  I just can’t help you.  And obviously, classified information is something that is important to be protected.  But for me to answer to the question you posed would imply:  a, that it happened, which I don’t know; b, that it’s been resolved and decided that it happened; and then that I knew it was purposeful as opposed to accidental, if it happened.  I just can’t do that.  That’s not responsible.


Q:  Why are you going to Bangladesh? 


RUMSFELD:    They’ve been involved in a variety of activities over the years where they’ve participated in peacekeeping activities.  And as you may know, we’re interested in peacekeeping and I thought it would be a useful thing being there in the region. 


Q:  [Inaudible] pretty well to do that [Inaudible].  But you have to see them in Iraq, just the U.N. – got a U.N. mandate?


RUMSFELD:  As I say, I think countries ought to do what they are comfortable doing.  I haven’t talked to them, so I don’t know that I would or wouldn’t.  That isn’t the issue.  I’m not going there to do that. 


Q:  Mr. Secretary, when you say that [Inaudible] countries are involved in the war on terrorism, do they think things like a terrorist threat to themselves, as the United States does and [Inaudible] not, what is the threat they face?


RUMSFELD:   [Inaudible] they’ve posed a terrorist threat to themselves? 


Q:  [Inaudible] a threat that the U.S. faces?




Q:   [Inaudible] terrorist threat that they make.




Q:  [Inaudible]


RUMSFELD:   Well, we have seen terrorist actions that are not dissimilar in Madrid, in Bali, in the United States, in dozens of countries.  And we know that the government of Singapore announced that they thwarted and prevented some terrorist activities in their country.  Now, is each one exactly the same, no.  Are they slightly different, sure.  You know, in case a plane goes into a building, in another case, it’s a train in Madrid, or a hotel or what have you. 


But what is going on in the world is serious and real.  And it is a collection of -- in some cases connected, in some cases, not connected -- extremists and radicals that are attacking states, nations and the state system.  And they attacked the U.N. in Iraq, for example, and they’ve put a price on Kofi Annan’s head, the secretary general of the United Nations.  They have a view of what they would like the world to look like that is fundamentally different than what civilized societies want.  And it is a global problem.  It’s a struggle.  It’s a war – call it what you want – an insurgency that’s trying to overthrow in many cases and recently in Saudi Arabia -- I can name five or six other countries if I thought for a minute -- that is attempting to alter the way countries function and that’s a serious problem and it’s a serious problem for every country that prefers to have a state, as opposed to a handful of extremists deciding what will happen to their people. 


Q:  [Inaudible] in Europe and tell them we need to get tougher?


RUMSFELD:    Have I told the people in Europe there?


Q:  [Inaudible] with your trip to Brussels [Inaudible] to Europeans that, look, it’s on our shores, it’s going to be on your shores and you have to act now.  Don’t wait until it happens elsewhere for you to act [Inaudible]?


RUMSFELD:  No, I don’t think so.  And I don’t remember saying that, except that there’s no question but that Europe has the same vulnerabilities -- possibly more, given their demographics -- than other locations.  But this area has the same problems.  We’ve seen it.  It’s not something that’s restrictive of the United States or to Europe or to Asia.  It’s global.  It is clearly global. 


Q:  Mr. Secretary, do you think that’s the [Inaudible] situation in Iraq [Inaudible] now that we have an interim government [Inaudible]?


RUMSFELD:   I guess we’ll just have to see, won’t we?  The path from a dictatorship to a representative system that’s respectful of all elements in the country and [Inaudible] to its neighbors, is a bumpy road and it’s not a perfectly predictable road; it never has been.  And people who looked at it and say, oh, my goodness, it’s untidy and it’s ugly and it’s dangerous ought to look at history.  It’s always been untidy and ugly and dangerous.  Look at the countries that have traveled that path.  It’s a tough business.  And people who look at what’s going on in Iraq or Afghanistan and say, oh, my goodness, all is lost because it isn’t smooth and placid and tranquil, I don’t think have read history.  It isn’t likely to be.  And whether this period will show further spikes between now and December in the elections that are taking place, I don’t know.  They tended to oscillate.  It varied over this period of time.  They were high.  They dropped down.  It’d gone back up in April, if you look at the number of incidents on a graph.  And they’ve declined slightly recently, although I shouldn’t say that, because I could turn around tonight and the spike will be back up and a month isn’t over, the month’s just starting. 


So I don’t know what will happen.  It’s clear there are people who are determined that Iraq not go on this path towards a representative system.  And we’ve seen that in letters that have been captured, so we know that.  And we can tell by the pattern of behavior, they try to assassinate people who stepped forward courageously and agreed to become a police chief or a member of the governing council or a mayor or a governor and the like and they try to assassinate them.  They try to damage essential services so that the people will be dissatisfied and [Inaudible].  But the fact remains that the essential services are, for the most part, are in pretty good shape, that people are still standing in line to sign up to join Iraqi security forces, that people are still volunteering to become mayors and police chiefs and prime ministers and cabinet ministers and that’s a good thing. 


Q:  [Inaudible]  General Petraeus with him going over there to stand up the Iraqi security forces faster?  Is there a plan to give him additional money, additional resources or manpower?


RUMSFELD:   He hasn’t arrived yet even.  We have raised the amount of money and the number of troops, a number of security forces three or four times, since we went in that country.  They now have over 200,000.  They’ve lost some 300 people already, despite the fact that all you read is, every once in a while, a couple of them don’t stay in their posts and leave.  But in those instances, in many cases, they were armed with small arms and they were against AK-47s and RPGs.  Anyone with any sense would have moved out and done that.  So the implication that the security forces are not capable of contributing to the security of that country is an unfair characterization, in my view. 


[Cross Talk]


Q:  [Inaudible] collaborating.  I’ve been saying – I’m not saying you said that. 


RUMSFELD:  Because in a lot of cases, they’ve done a darn good job and that’s a good thing.  Are we going to increase it again?  Probably.  We’ve done it three or four times already in the last 12 months and my guess is we will again.  But part of the answer to your question, of course, is it’s up to the Iraqis.  The Iraqis are going to have control of their country and they will have a budget and they’ll make a decision as to what they want to do.  And the new prime minister’s already announced that he wants to increase the size of the army, that he wants to increase some of the other security forces, so my guess is he will.  I don’t know exactly what that’ll mean in terms of the U.S. role in that, but I expect to see the Iraqi security forces get larger. 


Q:  [Inaudible]


RUMSFELD:    I don’t’ know.  We certainly will be briefing the Congress on it and we’ll certainly try to.  What portion of it’s classified or not classified. Our goal is to then get it out, get it all out.  And so every time someone says well, what about this, we start a new investigation.  If there’s a gap or a seam, we put somebody on it.  That one, particularly, is involved with military intelligence and my first choice always is to make it available to the media – first, to the Congress and then to the media.  In some cases, they have to be declassified or sanitized. 


[To staff] What’s the word?


STAFF:    De-classified.


STAF:  Redacted


RUMSFELD:   [Inaudible].  There you go. 


Q:  [Inaudible]


RUMSFELD:    Yeah.  But I don’t know when that’s due.  It’s due some time this month, I think. 


Q:  [Inaudible]  You didn’t mention whether you’re going to be meeting with Chinese.  Are they participating in the [Inaudible] this conference? 


RUMSFELD:    I’m told the ministry of defense is not.  Whether they’ll have a representative there, I’m not sure. 


Q:  [Inaudible] discussed about most Korean issues [Inaudible] about Japanese [Inaudible] North Korea nuclear [Inaudible].


RUMSFELD:   North Korea is the subject that tends to come up when we meet with the five countries involved:  Japan, South Korea, China, United States, others.  So I’m not going to get into what I’m going to talk to the minister about but needless to say, it’s an important issue in this part of the world and it’s certainly an important issue with respect to our good allies in South Korea and Japan. 


Q:  [Inaudible] do you have any updated information on their nuclear development activities? 


RUMSFELD:   Nothing that I could contribute.  That’s basically being handled by the Department of State.  And there’s been a good deal of confusion about their capabilities.  They’ve announced this themselves and other experts in the world opine that they think this, they think that, and I kind of leave that to the intelligence community. 


Q:  All right. 

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