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Secretary Rumsfeld Radio Interview on the Rusty Humphries Program

Presenters: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Rusty Humphries
July 19, 2005
Secretary Rumsfeld Radio Interview on the Rusty Humphries Program

            Humphries: Mr. Secretary.


            Rumsfeld: Hi, Don Rumsfeld here.


            Humphries: It is such an honor to have you on the show. Welcome to the Rusty Humphries Program.


            Rumsfeld: Well, I thank you. I hear you were in Iraq not too long ago, is that right?


            Humphries: Yeah, I just got back from there, and I've got to tell you, I was so surprised on how little damage that was there. It's a testament to the great planning by you and your generals.


            Mr. Secretary, we keep hearing that we've lost 1700 soldiers in two and a half years, and I know losing anybody's awful because I lost my father in Vietnam, but this is one of the least bloody and most successful wars in history, isn't it?


            Rumsfeld: It is indeed, and the soldiers and troops out there are doing such a superb job. They're so professional and they're so dedicated, and I'm sure you came away feeling as I did, that these folks know what they're doing, they're proud of what they're doing, they believe in what they're doing, and they can see progress in what they're doing.


            Humphries: I've got to be honest. I went over there looking for the negativity. I went looking for what Michael Moore and Al Franken have been talking about, and I found exactly two guys that had anything negative to say over there.


            Rumsfeld: Yeah. Well, there's always going to be some situations in a big organization where something didn't work out right for somebody or they don't understand something and there will be complaints. Heck, that's the history of armies. But uniformly --


            Humphries: But only two. That's not that many.


            Rumsfeld: [Laughter]. Of course they're the ones that are newsworthy.


            Humphries: Not on my program, they're not.


            Rumsfeld: Oh, my. Are you going down to Guantanamo, maybe?


            Humphries: Yeah. I'm going down there next month. Now, I'm just going to see a bunch of white guys beating the heck out of a bunch of foreigners just for fun, right?


            Rumsfeld: [Laughter]. Hardly.


            Humphries: Who are these guys we have in custody? I mean you listen to media accounts, it's a bunch of old guys just minding their own business, selling ice cream to poor Afghani children, get swept up by the evil American military so we can torture them about things they knew nothing about.


            Rumsfeld: That's for sure. These are would-be suicide bombers, they're UBL's body guards, they're terrorist financiers, they're recruiters and facilitators and bomb makers and terrorist trainers. These folks are serious al-Qaida and terrorist, dangerous human beings.


            Humphries: Why do you think that so few people think, in the media especially, that these guys are terrorists? We're worried about panties on their heads. What's going on?


            Rumsfeld: One of the things is that these folks are very well trained. If you've had a chance to look at the Internet and see the Manchester document, the al-Qaida training manual, you'll see that they're trained in techniques of counter-interrogation and they're also trained to immediately allege that they've been tortured. So these folks are serious, hard core terrorists who know what they're doing and they manage the media very skillfully.


            Humphries: It's just been announced that the military commissions are resuming there at GTMO. What does that mean and why should I care?


            Rumsfeld: Well, it was a technique that's been used over the decades, and of course in World War II, military commissions were used. And the President, back shortly after 9/11, announced that there would be military commissions. What happened was, some U.S. courts intervened, and have kind of put it all on hold until last week, when the announcement was made by the Circuit Court of appeals, unanimously, that the Commissions could go forward, that they were based in a constant, rooted constitutionally, and that means that we are going to press ahead and begin the military commission trials of some of the individuals being held at Guantanamo, which is a good thing.


            Humphries: So these are trials of the terrorists?


            Rumsfeld: Right.


            Humphries: What is different about these military commissions than for say you or I if we were going to court?


            Rumsfeld: Well, for example, under our Constitution, Article 3 of our Constitution, we have certain due process rights. And if you're a car thief or assault somebody there are rules of procedure that have to be followed. You have to read people their Miranda Rights. You have to see that they're given a lawyer. You have to go through a whole series of steps that fits a peaceful country.


            In this case you've got terrorists who were scooped up in a battlefield, no one read them their Miranda Rights, obviously, we've had a bunch of soldiers who were getting shot at who captured these folks. And so none of the rules that would apply fit this wartime situation.


            These people, military commission rules are rooted in major part in some aspects of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. They're rooted in some respects in prior military commissions, and the design is, that you have an opportunity to bring a person before a tribunal, see that they're tried and judged, but to do it in a manner that can protect information that may need to be kept classified, if you will, and they're just rules that are more suited to wartime and terrorists than they're suited to the private citizen who steals a car.


            The goal here is to gather information from these people rather than to punish the car thief and then let them out. We don't want these people back out on the streets because they're organized and trained to kill people.


            Humphries: That makes sense to me.


            Last night I told the audience I was going to be talking with you, and I asked them what questions they would like to ask you. The number one question was not Iraq, it wasn't Afghanistan, it wasn't GTMO. It was China and their recent aggressive stance on [Unical] and the trade deficit and that major general's comments. Should we be concerned with China or this just a bunch of bluster?


            Rumsfeld: Well, we always have to be concerned when we see that kind of a military capability being invested in. They're purchasing a great many pieces of military equipment from Russia. They're developing their own military capabilities. They're deploying a good deal of new capabilities.


            Now what does it all mean? Well, time will tell. We have to be attentive to it. On the other hand, we're issuing a report this week that will very directly lay out what they are doing by way of their budget, what they're purchasing and what its military implications might be. That report's being briefed to Congress today and should be released later in the week.


            The way I look at the Peoples Republic of China is this. I think that it is possible to have a growing economy if you are willing to open up your society somewhat to computers and to business people who come in and out, and you have to engage with the rest of the world. The rest of the world has to look at you and say that you're a suitable place for investment and that you're an economic trade partner that a country would like to be engaged with.


            Now, they have a political system that is not a free political system, so that to me is a contradiction to having a relatively free economic system.  And I think they're going to be facing a choice at some place down the road in the years ahead. There's going to be a tension between their restrictive, unfree political system and they're increasingly free economic system. They're going to have to make a choice. Do they want to inhibit the economic growth which they need for that population, or do they want to maintain their restrictive political system and crimp their economic growth? I think that's what's going to happen. They're going to face that and they're going to have to make a choice.


            Humphries: I hope it's the right one. I don't know that I believe that they'll do the right thing.


            The last real quick question that the audience wanted to know from you is, after all that disrespect and that flap-jawing, what's your opinion of Teddy Kennedy?


            Rumsfeld: Well, you know, it's a style that he's adopted.


            Humphries: Not a good style.


            Rumsfeld: [Laughter] It's a style. Under Article 1 of the Constitution is the Congress, and the Congress has oversight over the activities of the executive branch. Back when I was a congressman, things were done in a more civil way which I've always thought was a better way in our society. But I think that people say things and then they're held accountable for what they say, and I suspect that some people will agree with him and many people won't.


            Humphries: It was shocking and very disrespectful. I think he turned a lot of people off.


            The last question, because I know you've got to get going. America Supports You is an organization you're really involved in, helping out the soldiers. Tell me a little bit about it and what can we do to help?


            Rumsfeld: Well, it's on the web site. You can go to AmericaSupportsYou.Mil or AmericaSupportsYou.Com. It has a long list of things that people, wonderful people all across our country are doing. These are families, they're corporations, they're clubs, they're organizations of various types, and it will show people how they can support the troops and the things they can do personally -- they and their families or their corporations. And the response since the President mentioned it in his speech about two weeks ago has just been wonderful. The outpouring of support by the American people for these wonderful young men and women in uniform who are serving around the world is the most heartwarming thing one can imagine.


            Humphries: It is so great, and it's been such an honor to have you on the program. You know, a lot of folks throw around this term, "You're a great American," but with you, Mr. Secretary, the term fits. You're going to be listed as one of the Great Americans in history and I hope to have you back on again soon for a little bit longer time, maybe have you talk to some folks.


            Rumsfeld: Rusty, I look forward to doing that. I'd be happy to visit with some of your folks.


            Humphries: God bless you, my friend. Take care. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Thank you very much, sir.


            Rumsfeld: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be with you.


            Humphries: God bless. Bye, bye.


            Rumsfeld: Bye.

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