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Secretary Rumsfeld Media Stakeout following Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
September 24, 2003

(Also participating was Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.)


     Rumsfeld:  We had a very short meeting with the Senate Appropriations Committee, General Meyers, Dr. Zakheim and I did and we’ve answered questions now for -- I don’t know six hours or something -- and it was a good hearing, it was thorough, it was very well attended by the Senators, it covered a great many subjects exhaustively and I’m very pleased that we were able to do it and that we were able to spend that much time and respond to that many questions.


     Q:  Mr. Secretary can I ask you a few questions on another topic about Guantanamo Bay detainees.  The first question is do you believe it’s possible al Qaeda may infiltrate the U.S. military and second how do you respond?


     Rumsfeld:  Let’s do one at a time it’s late in the day.


     There are a lot of reports in the press and we do not have -- I do not have any conclusive information about the circumstance of the individuals that are being speculated about and given the fact that it’s a legal process and I dropped out of law school I think I’ll refrain from opining.


     Q:  Can I ask then how do you respond to the charges that the screening process for people in contact with detainees is too relaxed?


     Rumsfeld:  Clearly throughout the history of mankind,   they’ve always been individuals who have gotten through screens and done bad things.  They’ve also been people who go through a screen not intending to do bad things and arrive at some point later and decide they’re going to do bad things that are harmful to the intent of the activity.  So I guess how do I respond?  I respond to the fact that history can repeat itself, what will be the case in this instance we don’t know.


     Thank you.  Oh you want another question?


     Q:  (Inaudible.)  Is there an espionage ring there?


     Rumsfeld:  I’ve just answered that question -- I mean just what I said, I’ve just answered that question.  Someone else had a question.


     Q:  Can you answer what the vetting process was at the clergy at Guantanamo Bay?


     Rumsfeld:  Do you want to describe the vetting process for clergy?


     Myers:  I’m not sure I can describe it in great detail but I can say this, based on what we do know, and I think General Pace said this earlier this morning, anytime you have allegations like this you always look at your procedures and process that would be natural and normal so we’ll do that.


     Rumsfeld:  Thank you folks.

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