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Secretary Rumsfeld Stakeout at CBS following Face the Nation

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
September 14, 2003
 Rumsfeld:  Greetings.

 

            Q:  Good morning Mr. Secretary.

 

            Rumsfeld:  Good morning.

 

            Q:  Can we start off with the U.N. resolution?  What are we going to try to do differently with leaders?  Are there any lessons that we learned from past experiences?

 

            Rumsfeld:  Secretary Powell has been in Geneva working with the members of the Security Council to see what common ground they can find for a possible additional U.N. resolution.  It’s the kind of thing that takes time, people – the ministers then go back to their capitals and discuss it with the Presidents and Prime Ministers and then at some point they come into a conclusion either they have common ground or they don’t.  It would be good in my view if we could find common ground for a U.N. resolution, I think that the – it’s not that we would end up with a lot of additional troops – international troops I think that’s unlikely, I think you’re more likely to get something between zero and 10 or 15 thousand possibly one addition from an additional U.N. resolution but I think the advantage is you get additional countries feeling committed to success in Iraq, which is a good thing.

 

            Yes.

 

            Q:  Mr. Secretary I want to follow up on a conversation you had with Mr. (inaudible).  I’m sure that (inaudible) reading the Washington Post for details isn’t necessarily first on your list but I’m curious did the article in the paper this morning Senator Graham’s comment that some of his Republican colleagues that you were defensive.  Congressman (inaudible) put out a letter saying both you and Secretary Wolfowitz ought to consider returning to the private sector.  I’m wondering how you respond to attacks that seem to be personally directed at your leadership and how you would evaluate your own leadership?

 

            Rumsfeld:  Oh I don’t do that I leave that to others.  But you know there’s always – if you’re in positions like this there are always going to be people who disagree, that’s fair enough. Right now there’s a big debate over how many U.S. troops should be in Iraq and I’ve been interested in the debate notably for it’s lack of quality.  The meetings I have with all of the military Commanders say that they have sufficient U.S. troops in Iraq, that is to say General Abizaid, General Sanchez right down to the Division Commanders.  Now they are the experts, there’s a few people outside, some retired people who think that it would be nice to have more but no one explains why or what they would do or how it would work.  In fact, our military Commanders look at it very carefully, very seriously, they review it periodically and I must say I am comfortable with their decision.  In my view that doesn’t make me stubborn it simply means that I’ve consulted the proper military authorities who have knowledge and the people who are claiming that they’re wrong it seems to me are really functioning without the kind of information and the kind of knowledge that the military Commanders have.

 

            Q:  Mr. Secretary state you message please to troops that are upset about their deployments being extended longer than they thought and or had been planned?

 

            Rumsfeld:  First of all they’re always going to be someone whose expectation isn’t met in one way or another.  The fact of the matter is that everywhere that I have been and everywhere our people have been, morale has been very high.  We are meeting or exceeding all of our recruiting goals, we’re meeting or exceeding all of our retention goals for the military so that suggests that the management of the force at this point is going quite well and that the people in the force who were asked to re-enlist or to stay and serve are happy to do it.  Now, we’re talking about millions of people you know a million plus so there’s always going to be someone in there who will do what you did and give you a quote like that but for the most part, the goals are all being met.  It always breaks my heart when there’s a mobilization and I find that instead of the thirty day notification someone’s getting 5 or 10 days notification that’s hard on the family, that’s hard employers and we’ve simply got to get those systems in the Department functioning into the 21st century instead of these industrial age processes which we currently have and we’re working like the dickens to try to fix that.

 

            Q:  Mr. Secretary with regard to the 8 Iraq soldiers killed by – accidentally killed by American soldiers.  Do you think that a possible retaliation will impede efforts in Iraq?

 

            Rumsfeld:  No I think that in combat situations where people are shooting at each other it’s always the case unfortunately that some innocent people get killed.  Sometimes we have friendly fire incidents where our own forces are harmed or accidents like that.  But I think it’s important to kind of lift our eyes up and recognize that 4 ½ months ago 23 million Iraqis were living in a repressive, dictatorial regime.  Mass graves were being filled up with people being killed by that regime, prisons were being filled up with people being incarcerated by that regime and tortured, now 4 ½ months later is a very short period of time and 23 million Iraqis are liberated.  There are 56,000 Iraqis participating in their own security, police, site protection, border guards, civil defense, there’s been a wonderful progress that’s taken place.  Is it perfect?  No.  Is it going to be difficult?  Yes.  Is it going to take some time?  Yes.  Will there be some people killed?  I regret to say I’m afraid that’s the case, but what when I say to myself how’s it going?  I think it’s a lot better for this country to be fighting terrorists in Iraq or Afghanistan or elsewhere than it is -  I mean Baghdad for example, rather than in Boston or in Baltimore or Boise and this is part of the global war on terror, that’s what’s taking place, it’s part of defending this homeland of ours and seeing that free people here can live in freedom and their kids can get up in the morning and go to school and you can reasonably expect they’ll come home.  I know that everyone in an era of 24 hour news everyone would like everything to be solved in one 24 hour cycle but life isn’t like that and 4 ½ months is not very long and if you think of what they’ve done, they’ve got a governing council stood up, they have central bank, they have a new currency, they’ve got 56,000 Iraqis that have been brought in as security guards and policemen, 90% of the people in that country are for the first time in decades living under council, city councils, village councils that are contributing to their governance, which has not been the case.  I think that we’ve got an important job, a tough job, we’re at it very seriously, I don’t expect that everyone’s going to always agree with everything, I expect there to be debate and discussion and I welcome It.

 

Thank you.