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Secretary Rumsfeld and Under Secretary Zakheim Press Availability on the Hill

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
September 30, 2003

(Participating were Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) Dov S. Zakheim.)

 

            Q:  Sir, [inaudible].

 

            Rumsfeld:  I doubt it.  My impression is that the bill is going to pass, that there's broad support for it on both sides of the aisle.  I must say, we were just talking coming down that the Members who have been to Iraq, who have had an opportunity to see what's taking place on the ground there, the truly superb work being done by the military and by the Coalition Provisional Authority, the progress that the Iraqi people are making on the economic area, the political area, as well as the security area, that they recognize how important the entire package of $87 billion is.

 

            So I think there will be excellent support.  I was just told also that it's pretty much finished in committee in the Senate and will be going to the Floor tonight?  Interesting.  Maybe tomorrow.

 

            Q:  [Inaudible]

 

            Rumsfeld:  General Abizaid was here last week.  He spoke on the subject in a committee hearing and he pointed out the fact that there are literally thousands of caches of weapons in that country.  Some are visible, some are not visible.  And that there isn't a day that goes by that a handful or more are not discovered and taken control of, and they're in the process of consolidating this and destroying that which ought to be destroyed saving that which is appropriate for the Afghan National Army.

 

            They've been found in schools, they've been found in hospitals, they've been found out in the open.  And he said, he's a four star general, and he said he's never in his life been any place on the face of the earth where there are more weapons than in that country.

 

            Q:  Mr. Secretary, there’s a third person detained today [Inaudible] possible espionage at Guantanamo Bay.  Can you comment on the security breaches there [inaudible]?  Do you still have confidence in the command down in Guantanamo Bay?

 

            Rumsfeld:  There's been a good deal in the press on this subject.  My understanding is that investigations are in process and that it's appropriate for those investigations to proceed in an orderly way and that the people conducting those investigations will at the appropriate time comment to the press about precisely what has taken place and whether or not any charges have been made.

 

            You had a question back there.

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] Do you still have confidence in the general in charge down there, sir?

 

            Rumsfeld:  I'll let you know when I don't, but I do.  It's General Miller and he's done an excellent job of improving the circumstance with respect to the interrogation process.  He's managed his assignments well.  What is actually taking place there we'll know more about later.  But clearly your second question to respond in any way other than I did would require someone to pre-judge something that I just explained in answer to your first question was underway and it would be inappropriate to do that.

 

            So now --

 

            Q:  [Inaudible]

 

            Rumsfeld:  Wait a minute.  You've got three going.  [Laughter]

 

            Q:  [Inaudible]

 

            Rumsfeld:  Look, this is an issue that the White House and the Office of Management and Budget are handling.  We believe that the entire 87 is needed, that the two pieces, the defense side and the Coalition Provisional Authority side are inextricably linked, and that we need success on the political, the economic, and the security side simultaneously for that country to be put on the right path.  I'll stop there.

 

            Q:  Mr. Secretary, there’s a lot of suspicion here on the Hill that $20 billion dollars, a lot of [inaudible].  Can you talk a little bit about your philosophy, [inaudible]?  Can you talk a little bit about the competing aspects of this criticism [inaudible]?

 

            Rumsfeld:  Yeah.  You remember the details. 

 

            Zakheim:  There are two contracts that have been asked about.  As you know, both of them were extent prior to the war.  And one of which was competitively bid.  That was for unforeseen circumstances such as the war itself. 

 

            We are competitively bidding that one in November.  There is every intention to competitively bid virtually all the contracts. I say virtually all, because you never know if there's one, and then you'll catch me on the one.  But that is the intention, to competitively bid virtually everything.

 

            Q:  Mr. Secretary, [inaudible] a couple of Members of Congress said that [inaudible].  How do you handle [inaudible]?

 

            Rumsfeld:  I don't think about it a lot to be honest with you.  It's that season I guess.  What else?

 

            Q:  Congressman [Inaudible] indicated some concern about the emails – about the $20 miliion that had been supposedly parked at the Special Operations Command?

 

            Rumsfeld:  He answered that in the hearing.

 

            Q:  Could you address whether the congressman’s concern was that maybe something was trying to be hidden from Congress?

 

            Rumsfeld:  He answered that in the hearing.  He did it brilliantly.  Do you want to -- Were you in the hearing?

 

            Q:  Yes.

 

            Rumsfeld:  Then why do you ask the same question?  [Laughter]

 

            Q:  [Inaudible]

 

            Rumsfeld:  He's the one that knows about it.

 

            Zakheim:  For those of you who weren't at the hearing, first of all the Inspector General with whom we worked very, very closely has initiated an audit.  They wrote to us at the beginning of August about it.  Normally these things can take about a year.  They're accelerating that to try to do it in a matter of months.

 

            Beyond that I should say that in the first place when we put a budget together we do brief the Congress in depth.  We submit it.  It is scrubbed.  And, then in terms of moving money around, anything more than $10 million from one line item to another has to be presented to the Congress for prior approval, what's called a prior approval reprogramming.  So at both ends of the process we're open and square with the Congress as we should be.

 

            Rumsfeld:  All right, thanks folks.

 

            Q:  You mentioned the difference between an audit and an investigation. What is the difference?

 

            [Inaudible response]

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