United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

Transcript


DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
March 25, 2002 12:30 PM EDT

(Also participating was Gen. Richard Myers, chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. The briefing slides are available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Mar2002/g020325-A-8773J.html)

Rumsfeld: Good afternoon.

As we approach the anniversary - six of months of the commencement of the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, many of our goals with regard to Afghanistan have been accomplished. With our coalition partners, we've planned and executed a military campaign that has disrupted the use of Afghanistan as a base of operation for terrorists and as a haven for training and various terrorist activities. We've provided humanitarian relief to the Afghan people and helped divert a crisis of significant proportions. We've removed the Taliban from power, freed the Afghan people from a repressive regime. With our partners, we've established hospitals, rebuilt and reopened schools and restored freedom of movement -- especially for women and young girls. As you can see from the slide, they haven't --

(To aide.) You going to use those slides?

Staff: (Off mike.)

Rumsfeld: Good.

Mothers who were confined to their homes are now free to seek treatment for themselves and their children. Women are again teaching, and young girls are openly attending school. It's quite a difference from just six months ago. I should add that the school in Mazar-e Sharif, where the al Qaeda forces fought such a fierce battle for so long, has been reopened in tents in the schoolyard, and the school itself is being repaired and rebuilt with USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) -- taxpayers' money.

We've also assisted the initial transition to an interim government, the first step on the road to hoped-for longer-term stability. This month the U.S. armed forces will continue to work with coalition forces in developing and training an Afghan national army. While a training schedule is still being worked out, current plans call for training cycles of approximately 10 weeks each for the duration of something like 18 months for the first units. Training will include both individual military training, as well as training at the squad, platoon, company and battalion levels. A cadre of commissioned and noncommissioned Afghan officers will assume the responsibility of training future Afghan soldiers will also be formed. We anticipate that the Afghans might take charge of this program by the end of the year.

But while stability is being restored to Afghanistan, terrorism is taking its toll in other countries around the world. Our goal is to train and equip forces in selected countries that want to help combat terror in their areas.

In Yemen, for example, there's reason to believe that the al Qaeda would like to reconstitute in that country. We'll be working with the Yemeni government to head off the possibility of that country becoming another haven for terrorists by helping them train and equip Yemeni forces, special forces, and supporting them in their efforts to combat terrorism.

Similarly, last September Georgian president President Shevardnadze asked for assistance to help train their forces to reassert control over the Pankisi Gorge. President Bush has responded by offering an increase in military assistance to help train and equip Georgia forces, to help them develop some counter terrorist capabilities.

These endeavors are part of our efforts to establish security cooperation with countries that share our goals with regard to stopping the spread of terrorism. Our hope is that there will be no new sanctuaries or havens for terrorist networks. As President Bush has said, we will not send American troops to every battle, but America will actively prepare other nations for the battles ahead.

We take seriously not only the number but the increasing boldness of terrorist instances around the world, such as the recent Sunday morning bombing of the Protestant church in Islamabad, Pakistan, killing five people, including two Americans, and injuring dozens more. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms. We appreciate President Musharraf's pledge to work to bring those responsible to justice.

We take very seriously the growing threat of catastrophic terrorism, terrorism that could include the use of weapons of mass destruction. We intend to work with others and try to prevent an escalation of terrorism using such weapons.

General Myers?

Myers: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and good afternoon.

Operations in the global war on terrorism continue. In Afghanistan over the weekend, we continued searching numerous cave complexes. In addition to small arms, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns, we also discovered a couple of computers, some manuals, a couple of passports, phone lists, maps, and bomb-making notes. We're going to continue to exploit these items as we get them.

In regards to training an Afghan national army, from the start, one of our missions has been to ensure Afghanistan is not a safe haven for terrorists, especially organizations like the al Qaeda. This assistance that we're going to provide will train the Afghan national army, is directly part of that mission. When I was in Afghanistan several weeks ago and met with Chairman Karzai, one of his top priorities, of course, was to establish an Afghan national army. He was emphatic in stating that he did not want us to do this job for him but wanted us to provide the wherewithal so the Afghans could do it for themselves. So this training effort is in that spirit.

Training the Afghan army will serve as a positive step to help ensure that there is a better chance for peace and security in Afghanistan and that the country is not used, as the secretary has just said, for a terrorist haven in the future.

And with that, we'll take your questions.

Rumsfeld: Charlie?

Q: Mr. Secretary, how many trainers do you plan to send to Afghanistan? How much will this effort cost the United States? And how big do you think an Afghan national army would be? What's the plan?

Rumsfeld: The total size of the Afghan army is a subject that is under discussion and very likely will continue to be under discussion, for several reasons. It's not clear to me that that will even be decided until after the government that follows the interim government is in place. There are a variety of different views.

Second, with respect to the training, as you may recall, there was no money raised at the Tokyo conference for the training and equipping and paying of the Afghan army, which was unfortunate. The United States is going to work with some other countries to try to raise some funds for the purpose of training the Afghan army. And needless to say, the pace at which it happens and the size will be somewhat dependent on the success of that effort.

Third, there are others who are working to train an Afghan army. The ISAF, the International Security Assistance Force, has been active in this. Some of the regional army efforts have been interested in the process. Other countries have offered some assistance. And the plan is evolving. What we've decided to do is to try to get it started and be helpful with one piece. And -- but the total package has not been fleshed out.

Q: Do you know how many U.S. trainers will be sent, at least initially?

Rumsfeld: Very small numbers. We already have people there, Special Forces people that very likely will be used for that when they're not being used for other things.

Myers: Can I mention -- I don't know that you mentioned it, but it also includes border security, as the interim administration right now feels that the border security will be part of their ministry of defense. So they have included that in this training -- in the training piece.

Rumsfeld: In the first tranche.

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Rumsfeld: Yes?

Q: You listed the various accomplishments so far in Afghanistan. What remains to be done militarily in Afghanistan for U.S. combat troops? And how long would you anticipate it would take them to accomplish?

Rumsfeld: I'm very reluctant to try to put a deadline on it. You know, it will not be the United States or even the International Security Assistance Force or coalition forces that will ultimately create an environment in that country that one could characterize as secure; it will be the Afghan people and the Afghan government and the cooperation among those various elements in the country who are going to, in the last analysis, provide for their own security.

We, needless to say, do not want to leave abruptly in a way that could inject an instability in the situation, which is why we're working with the interim government to see if we can be helpful in getting their army going and up to speed. There are four or five different models. What the interim government will finally settle on or what its successor government will remains to be seen. But we have always said we think we'll be there a number of months, and certainly our hope is that there will be a sufficient police force, a sufficient border patrol, and a sufficient Afghan national army that while we're there facing down the remaining al Qaeda and Taliban, that the government forces will be sufficient to create an environment that permits humanitarian assistance and internally displaced people to come back and go to their homes, or refuges to come in from other countries and come back to their homes. But it is not knowable how long that will take.

Q: Well, will it be -- do you expect it to be a question of mopping up, or are we going to be facing guerrilla war, essentially, in Afghanistan for some time to come?

Rumsfeld: Well, okay, setting aside Afghanistan's future and talking simply about the U.S. role in chasing down al Qaeda and Taliban, that's difficult to know. There's no question in my mind but that the remaining al Qaeda and Taliban would like very much to reconstitute and conduct terrorist operations in the country, to attack U.S. and U.S. interests and government interests and coalition interests, and see if they can't chase everyone out, so that they can go back to training terrorists who can fly into buildings in New York and Washington. I don't think they're going to be successful. I think we're putting enough pressure on them around the world and in Afghanistan that that's going to be a very difficult thing for them to do there.

It doesn't mean there won't be future terrorist attacks; I suspect there will be. But we're going to have to stay there and keep at that, because what they -- has happened is, these folks have melted into the mountains. They've melted into the villages. They've gone over the borders. And at the first chance they have, they'd like to come back. And what we need to do is to work with the coalition to see that the government of Afghanistan at some point is sufficiently stable, that it's able to contribute to a secure situation and keep them from coming back.

Q: Mr. Secretary --

Q: Mr. Secretary --

Rumsfeld: Yeah.

Q: There are two concerns you hear about creating an Afghan army. One is that the warlords will continue to maintain their own militias and that the Officer Corps is sort of heavily weighted toward Tajiks and Uzbeks, as opposed to being more ethnically diverse. Do you share those concerns, or is that something that the government will just have to deal with -- the Afghan government?

Rumsfeld: Well, I've heard more concerns than two about it. But we do know this: We know that Afghans are well armed. And we know there's a lot of soldiers. And do we know they know how to fight? And one would think that at some point, we may be fortunate enough that they'll decide that it's in their interest to have a national army and military and border and police circumstance, rather than simply various provinces having their own military forces. I mean, what will ultimately happen in that regard, it's hard to know. I think the important thing is that it appears that the -- all of the representatives in the interim government favor a national army. To the extent that they end up being sufficiently influential in the country, then it's likely there will be a national army, as opposed to all of the multiple armies that we see in different sectors of the country.

Q: Mr. Secretary --

Q: Mr. Secretary -- (inaudible) -- plan to weigh in on any of those concerns if we leave it up to the government itself to deal with those issues, you say?

Rumsfeld: Well, I think by saying what I just said, we're weighing in. We've offered to train -- help train the International Security Assistance Force, which is an international activity it's been helping to train. I'm sure that they money we're going to try to help raise for Afghanistan to pay for the beginnings of a national army ought to help. I mean, I don't think there's any ambiguity in our position.

Q: (Inaudible) -- a ballpark how much money's going to be needed?

Rumsfeld: Well, you can't know that until there's some decision made about the size of the army. And that's some distance off.

Yes.

Q: Mr. Secretary -- (inaudible) -- the International Security Assistance Force: Can you say what -- and maybe General Myers can answer this question -- what support Central Command will give to the force and particularly to the Turkish leadership? In the event, for example, that there's some real trouble, will U.S. forces be available to come in to provide assistance in the same way I think they were prepared to do when the British were running the force, or do you see any change in that kind of security guarantee?

Rumsfeld: Well we haven't resolved that. We're in the process now of working with the Turkish government and the Brits and some others to try to help to raise money for the International Security Assistance Force. We did have a negotiated memorandum with the Brits whereby we would provide some logistics, as we were able to, some intelligence as we were able to. And in addition, that with respect to the element in Kabul, in the event that there was a dust-up of some kind, that we would -- and we had people in the area, that we would provide a quick reaction capability. I would guess that we'll enter into some sort of an arrangement with Turkey also. It -- that process hasn't even started, has it, Dick?

Myers: It's just beginning, sir. Just beginning.

Q: But do you -- (inaudible) -- change that?

Myers: My guess would be it would be similar, but we'll have to work that out with Turkey. And as the secretary said, that's just beginning.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you talk about the numbers, that you don't know the numbers that the Afghan army will have, you don't know how much it will cost.

Rumsfeld: They don't know.

Q: You don't, they don't know, you don't know, nobody knows.

Rumsfeld: They don't know.

Q: But you do know that there will only be a small number of U.S. trainers. Is that because that's all the U.S. wants to commit to training?

Rumsfeld: No, it's just that's how many -- we're going to start with a small number of people to begin the process of getting an Afghan army going, and that takes a relatively small number of people. Other countries will be participating, I'm sure. There's also the technique of training trainers to do it themselves. And as I said, I think, Dick, one of the plans suggested that towards the end of this year, they might be able to take over some of the training themselves.

Myers: Absolutely. That's part of the plan.

Q: So you don't see the U.S. number growing.

Rumsfeld: Total U.S. in country?

Q: No, to train, even if the Afghan army --

Rumsfeld: I don't know. It's early stage and it's not possible to know the answer to that question.

Q: Is it dozens or hundreds that may be in the initial phase here?

Myers: Low hundreds, at most, I mean, but we're still fleshing that out. We have to come to the secretary with the definitive plan yet, and we have not -- they haven't brought that to us yet. But train the trainer, and it could even go to contractor personnel, perhaps, in the future.

Rumsfeld: There's a variety of different ways to do these things.

Q: Mr. Secretary, could you or General Myers give us a progress report on efforts in the Philippines and what's happening there recently?

Rumsfeld: Go ahead.

Myers: We've continued to advise and help train at battalion level and above. Our so-called Joint Task Force 510 has been doing that. We have less than 600 people engaged in that effort right now, and it's both land and some air pieces of that we are in fact doing. We think we've been able to help the armed forces of the Philippines with some of our expertise, and I think I'll leave it at that.

Q: Are either of you aware of an attempt to pay ransom for the release of the Burnhams, the couple held by Abu Sayyaf?

Rumsfeld: That's not a subject that DOD gets into.

Q: Mr. Secretary, even before the army takes hold -- can I just ask you about --

Myers: Go ahead. I'm sorry.

Q: Good. Thank you, Chief. In the interim, before the national army in Afghanistan takes hold, are you unalterably opposed to having a limited number of American peacekeepers to prevent lawlessness from sweeping through the land and perhaps snatching defeat out of victory? I mean, the Bosnia example, where you have less than 1 percent of the army as peacekeepers, seems to have worked. Are you unalterably opposed to spreading some American peacekeepers?

Rumsfeld: Who is "you"? Meaning me or the United States of America?

Q: You, the secretary of Defense.

Rumsfeld: Ah. I'm not unalterably opposed to most things.

Myers: (Laughs.)

Rumsfeld: I tend to learn through discussion, and I find when I get smarter about things and learn more about them, sometimes my thinking evolves.

Furthermore, it's not a matter for me to decide. It's for the president of the United States to decide.

Third, I would say that we tend to do war fighting more than peacekeeping, and as a result, we have encouraged other countries who have an interest in peacekeeping to participate in the International Security Assistance Force to the extent they want to, and they have. We have not put, quote, "peacekeepers" into the ISAF, as a country, although we're helping them, obviously, in the ways I just indicated.

If you want to take "peacekeeper" and make it not a capital P, which means a certain thing, but a small p, our very presence in Bagram, in Kabul, in Kandahar, in the eastern provinces, our Special Forces' presence with most of the major military factions in that country embedded in their activities, obviously contributes to, if not peace, at least a more stable and secure situation.

Q: Will they stay there till the new national army takes hold?

Rumsfeld: Oh, goodness. I don't know. I suppose it depends partly on what's going on in the world, what other things happen. But I would say that we have an interest as a country in seeing that Afghanistan's successful, and that's why we gave something like $137 million in food aid before September 11th ever happened, to the starving people in Afghanistan. It's why we're continuing to do humanitarian things there, and it's why we're trying to help them root out these terrorists that still exist there. I can't look around four corners, and every time you take a look at Afghanistan, you see four, five, or six corners, so --

Q: Mr. Secretary, on the subject of potential future missions for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, what is your thinking about the possible use of the U.S. military to eradicate the opium poppy crop in Afghanistan? There are some advocates in the U.S. government who think the U.S. military ought to take that on, because it could cut off some of the source of funds for terrorists.

Rumsfeld: Yeah. It's interesting. I saw an article that suggested that we're opposing that. I talked to Dick Myers and I talked to General Franks this morning. He has no knowledge of anyone opposing or supporting anything, except that our policy is, as a country, that the heroin trade, the poppy business in that country, represents a fairly significant fraction of the world's heroin and that that's a bad thing and that the money that's going to the people that are doing that ends up doing things that are generally unhelpful to the United States of America and to the interim government of Afghanistan. Therefore, we have a very active interest in there not being a successful poppy crop this year that reaches the market.

How it will be dealt with -- I know there are several countries talking about how it might best be dealt with, and the interim government is interested in how that might best be dealt with. No one has asked the United States military, to my knowledge --

Myers: No. No, sir.

Rumsfeld: To have a particular role in that, but certainly the United States is leaning forward to want to be helpful with that, because it's just an enormous amount of money involved that will end up funding crime, terrorism, various things to destabilize the interim government.

Q: To use George's phrase, you're not unalterably opposed to the U.S. military being involved in some way in the eradication?

Rumsfeld: I wouldn't know quite how, but -- and I don't know that the word "eradication" is necessarily the best word. There are a variety -- I'm unknowledgeable about some of the things other people are thinking about; I just haven't heard any yet that necessarily involve the Department of Defense.

Q: Mr. Secretary, over the weekend, the Iraqi government denied that it's holding a former Navy pilot, Scott Speicher, who was shot down in the early hours of the Gulf War and invited an American delegation to Iraq to try to determine his status. One, do you believe their denials? Will the U.S. take Iraq up on its offer? And is there any reason to believe that Scott Speicher may still be alive?

Rumsfeld: I don't believe very much that the regime of Saddam Hussein puts out. They're masters at propaganda. Second, we're not aware of any offer by the Iraqi government. There are several formal ways that those offers can be made. You cited it as though it's a fact; to my knowledge, it is only a fact that it's been printed. Whether it's actually happened, I'm not aware of it, nor is the Department of State, to my knowledge.

Needless to say, we have a great deal of interest in anything involving Commander Speicher, from any source. And -- but with respect to the last part of your question, I have no new information about his status. And it is an issue that the Department of State will clearly be at this end of the receiving set to find out. But we checked this morning, and they seem not to have received the proposal that's being widely reported.

Q: A question for the general?

Rumsfeld: Absolutely.

Q: Okay.

Rumsfeld: Give him a tough one. He's had an easy morning.

Q: Over the weekend it was reported also that the U.S. military discovered what appeared to be the makings of an anthrax laboratory near Kandahar. Could you tell us, General, exactly what was found at this site? Was it just the equipment? Were there precursor chemicals? Was there any actual anthrax discovered so far in the exploitation of any of these sites in Afghanistan?

Myers: There was a lab in Kandahar where we did find some equipment that was indicative of perhaps manufacturing anthrax. Not all the equipment you would need was there, but there was some of the equipment. Looked like some of it had been tried to have been destroyed. There was no -- at least right now, there were no large quantities of anthrax you could see. They'll do the usual swabs and bring those back for analysis. And -- so that's what we found.

Q: Well, in any of these sites and I understand there were 60 that were exploited so far -- has there been any evidence that any actual biological weapons were produced?

Myers: There have been -- in the sites we have exploited so far, I think on five or six cases, some of the swabs that we took have turned out positive for anthrax and, I think, ricin. But the caveat to that is that there's such minute amounts, that the anthrax could be naturally occurring, and the ricin could be there because of the castor bean. It could be that. And so, no, no conclusive proof of active agents.

Rumsfeld: But a great deal of evidence of a desire to have --

Myers: The intent is there to --

Q: Any idea where those five sites were that you just mentioned?

Myers: Oh, I think we know exactly where they were. (Laughter.) Are you asking, Mick? (Laughter.)

Q: I am.

Myers: We'll have to check on that. I mean, if it's releasable, we'll certainly release it.

Q: Can I just follow up quickly? The equipment found, is that clearly to make anthrax or chemical/biological weapons, or was it possibly dual-use equipment?

Myers: Well, every -- I mean --

Rumsfeld: Most equipment like that is dual use.

Myers: Dual use.

Rumsfeld: But there is no -- we have so much evidence in writing of the desire to develop capabilities, chemical and biological capabilities, that the fact that it's dual use is saying a pistol's dual use; it can shoot at a target or it can shoot at a person.

Q: Well, was it clear from what you found that it was clearly for chemical --

Myers: Not only what we found there, but what led us to that particular site and how all that came together, it came together that that was a site they were using, from a good source, and so we went and we found what we found.

And somebody asked if there were agents. There were -- there were no precursor chemicals either found, but there was equipment found.

Q: Can you talk about the type of equipment? Would it be things like fermenters or dryers or --

Myers: There was a dryer. There was an autoclave. There's some other -- and that's the one I saw. There probably are others, and I just don't know that, but not -- like I said, not all the equipment you would need was present.

Yes?

Q: So it looked to you like an attempt to set it up, and they'd not gotten there yet, as far as --

Myers: I can't -- I'm just not that smart. I can't tell you.

Rumsfeld: Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, you've dealt with this question before, but it persists. The issue of U.S. troops --

Rumsfeld: Obviously, I did it imperfectly.

Q: U.S. troops going across the border to help that -- Pakistanis look for al Qaeda/Taliban troops who have fled from Afghanistan. So is there any plan to do that, to send our people in to --

Rumsfeld: No. President Musharraf has been enormously cooperative. He has put forces along that border. He has been cooperative in every respect that we've requested of him. It is a very rugged, difficult border. I don't doubt for a minute that in almost any one of the 360 degrees of Afghanistan's border, that some clever person or persons couldn't get across. On the other hand, he and his forces are working very hard to help us to stop them from coming across and, to the extent they come across, stop them and arrest them. And he's done a good deal of that.

Q: Mr. --

Rumsfeld: So it seems to me that responds to your question.

Q: What about on the opposite border, the Iranian border? Sir, there have been reports now of al Qaeda receiving a haven there -- indeed, of trying to launch an operation. The Iranians, according to U.S. officials, are still involved in funding Hezbollah, sending weapons to the Palestinians, and indeed perhaps backing other extremist organizations. Does the United -- does your administration -- the Bush administration have a policy vis-a-vis dealing with Iran?

Rumsfeld: There's no question but that Iran has not been doing what Musharraf and the Pakistanis have been doing -- indeed, quite the contrary; they've been notably helpful. There's no doubt at all but that people have been moving back and forth across that border, to the great disadvantage of the interim government of Afghanistan and the Afghan people. There's also no question in my mind but that Iran was fully complicit in the process of moving that ship down, en route towards the Palestinians that was filled with so many tons of weapons. There's also no question but that Iran has been very active in funding Hezbollah, and those folks have a way of leaving Iran and ending up in Damascus, probably by air, moving down through the Damascus-Beirut road into the Bekaa Valley, and then proceeding to try to commit terrorist acts and kill people. So the difference is enormous. The president has spoken about Iran in one his recent addresses, which you'll recall. So I think he'd probably elaborated the U.S./Iran policy rather well.

Yes.

Q: If this is global war on terrorism, what is the approach to dealing with Iran?

Rumsfeld: Well --

Q: I mean, we can see in various other parts of the world --

Rumsfeld: Sure. And my guess is, we'll see more about Iran and other countries as we go along. One doesn't do everything at once.

Q: Mr. Secretary --

Q: Mr. Secretary --

Rumsfeld: The president is -- there's diplomacy -- there's the political, the diplomatic, the economic, as well as the security side of relationships. And there have been a number of international efforts to deal with Iran, and Iran obviously has been unpersuaded by them.

Yes.

Q: Have the Russians been persuaded yet, sir, to end their nuclear cooperation with Iran?

Rumsfeld: Well, I guess I'm going to leave that for Secretary Powell to characterize.

Yes.

Q: Will you have -- (inaudible) -- on who gets to be trained by the U.S. military and who doesn't -- for example, if there are people who have very human rights records, will they be able to enroll in the program?

Rumsfeld: Gosh. As General Myers said -- (chuckles) -- we've not even received a proposal yet. This is all kind of premature. But certainly, we would, as a country, feel much more comfortable seeing that the army, as it evolves, was trained along the kinds of lines that we prefer. And I would suspect that would be also --

Myers: That's pretty much --

Rumsfeld: The interest of the government of Afghanistan.

Rumsfeld: It's pretty much standard procedure as to that's the people we train. And that's -- that would be certainly done there.

Q: Mr. Secretary, along that line, would you say that the deployment of a credible Afghan army is the primary criterion for the United States' drawing down its forces in the country, no matter how long that takes?

Rumsfeld: No.

Q: Can you tell us what the criteria are for drawing?

Rumsfeld: I could. But that would be a second question. (Laughter; laughs.)

(Cross talk.)

Rumsfeld: (Laughs.) I've indicated that our principal focus clearly has to be to stop the -- to track down and try to find and either have them surrender or stop them -- the senior al Qaeda and Taliban in the country. All of that ought to contribute to a more secure circumstance for the government of Afghanistan. So I think there's a direct relationship. The government of Afghanistan has the same goal we have. They do not want terrorists -- al Qaeda, Taliban -- in their country. They do not want it to be a haven for terrorism, and they're very much in support of what we're doing.

Last question.

Q: On another subject you've dealt with in the past, Secretary White of the Army and his previous employment with the Enron Corporation. There's now been another series of letters with some members of Congress and Secretary White. And just what is at the moment your read on that? Are you comfortable that Secretary White does not have an ethics issue at this point regarding his employment with Enron and the selling of his stock? Have you talked to him about it?

Rumsfeld: I have visited with him about it, and with the general counsel's office, and the three of us have discussed his situation and that situation. You know, I've been around so long I've seen an awful lot of these, and they tend -- they tend to go from one story to another story to another story. I have every confidence that Secretary White is doing everything he can to comply with the various requests that have been made of him. And insofar as I am aware, that's the case. And I think that the details of that, which -- it tends to get down to phone calls and requests from the Hill and one thing and another, and it's not the kind of thing that I am going to get into in any detail. It seems to me that he is available to comment on those types of things, and I'll leave it to him.

Q: Let me just ask you, though, since you raised it, it seems a little bit --

Rumsfeld: You raised it, I didn't raise it.

Q: No, you raised what I was about to ask you. It --

Rumsfeld: Goodness gracious.

Q: Seems a little unusual that you and Secretary White and the general counsel, that the three of you, would have had a specific conversation about this matter.

Rumsfeld: Why would that be unusual?

Q: Well, you're a busy guy, you know?

Rumsfeld: Well, I also care about how this place is operating. And when this thing first came up, I sat down, asked Secretary White to come in and visit, and I asked the deputy general counsel that was available to come in and visit, and we discussed the kinds of problems that can occur in these kinds of investigations that are ongoing for Enron. And we had, for example, goodness, I can't remember where it came from, but there was a request for every department of government to look at its relationships with Arthur Andersen as well, as I recall.

And so I sat down and we talked, and obviously we all agreed -- it wasn't me imposing anything, it was the secretary and me both agreeing that obviously he would recuse himself from anything involving Enron or anything involving Arthur Andersen, and that we would -- the general counsel would work with him to see that he was sufficiently insulated and that the department would not have any -- that no one could look at the department and say that a person who had some relationship with Enron in his earlier life was now involved in anything that related to Enron or Arthur Andersen, as the case may be. And we established some ground rules as to how things would be handled. It seems to me quite a normal thing for a responsible executive to do. So --

Q: Is there any evidence, though, that he acted in any unethical manner in terms of disposing of his stocks?

Rumsfeld: I think I just answered that question. I said that --

Q: This is no basis for him resigning, right?

Rumsfeld: I answered the question by saying that to my knowledge he is doing everything possible to comply with all the requests that are out there. And there is no evidence ---

Q: This has been a personal request --

Rumsfeld: I understand, but I'm just going to finish -- there's no evidence that I know of, beyond the request, that suggests anything other than that people have been making what I consider to be perfectly appropriate requests of anybody who had those kinds of relationships which happen to be where he was employed.

Q: Does he still enjoy yours and the president's full confidence?

Rumsfeld: If he didn't, I would obviously have been visiting with him. But I know nothing other than that he has been complying fully with the requests that have been made.

Last question. I --

Q: Thank you. I was -- I'm curious about what you said about the funding for this --

Rumsfeld: This is not about kangaroos, then?

Q: It's not.

Rumsfeld: No. Good. (Laughter.)

Q: Kangaroos. (Laughs.)

Q: Is this a kangaroo addiction?

Q: Wallabies. We're into wallabies now.

Q: (Off mike.)

Q: Okay, not about kangaroos. The --

Rumsfeld: Right.

Q: I'm curious about what you said about the funding for the Afghan national army. This has been one of your main talking points for so long, and yet you say you'll see about raising funds for it. Why isn't the United States just writing a check for this? This is obviously one of the real basic --

Rumsfeld: A funny thing about our Constitution -- the executive branch proposes, and the Congress disposes. And it's not an accident that the Congress is Article I and the executive is Article II. So we can't just reach in one pocket and say, "Let's do this with that." We have to do things with the taxpayers' money that the Congress said that they're appropriating for that purpose.

Q: So you're going to go to Congress and ask for a tranche of money?

Q: (Off mike.)

Rumsfeld: I'm not going to get into how they will ask, and it very likely would not be Defense anyway. These are the kinds of things that the Department of State tends to handle. And I'm not the director of OMB as to know which pocket they want to do it in, but I do know there are two likelihoods. We may ask for some money, although I can't say that's for sure, because that's not my portfolio in life. The second thing is, I do believe we're going to ask other countries to step up and pay for some of it. And, as I indicated, when the donors' conference was held in Tokyo, most of those donations -- I shouldn't say "most," because I don't have the data -- many of those donations, A, were time-phased over a period of three, four, five years; second, many of those donations were in kind, as opposed to in dollars; and third, many of those donations had strings on them that were toward specific nonmilitary activities of a humanitarian nature. So we came out with, I think, a goose egg out of the donor's conference for the funding of the Army.

Now if you think about it, what's the first thing in the world you need to -- for anything else to happen -- for hospitals to happen, for roads to happen, for refugees to come back, for people to be fed and humanitarian workers to move around the country? Got to have security. So we're going to have to develop -- State Department -- Colin Powell's aware of this, and he's on top of it, and he and the -- for the United States and other countries are going to be, I am sure, moving around, trying to help raise the money both for the successor interim -- International Security Assistance Force and for the training and sustainment of the Afghan national army.

Thank you very much. Nice to see you.

Q: Thank you.

THIS TRANSCRIPT WAS PREPARED BY THE FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE INC., WASHINGTON, D.C. FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE IS A PRIVATE COMPANY. FOR OTHER DEFENSE RELATED TRANSCRIPTS NOT AVAILABLE THROUGH THIS SITE, CONTACT FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE AT (202) 347-1400.

Additional Links

Stay Connected