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
April 15, 2002 12:00 PM EDT

(Also participating was Gen. Richard Myers, chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.)

Rumsfeld: Good morning. Earlier today, an accidental explosion killed a number of U.S. servicemen near Kandahar, Afghanistan. At least one serviceman was also wounded in the accident. And we certainly want to express our sorrow and grief to the families of those that have been killed and injured, and salute the brave men and women in uniform who do in fact put their lives on the line every day to defend their country.

In this instance it was a disposal unit that was actively working to destroy some weapons that had been found, and for whatever reason, one of them went off.

There have been various reports of violence in Afghanistan recently, and while we've made good progress in restoring stability to Afghanistan, clearly, getting a peaceful environment will take a good deal of time. The country is fragmented politically. It does not have a strong tradition of democracy, as we all know, and I think any expectation that it will suddenly transform itself into a Western- style democracy ever, let alone instantaneously, is misplaced. What we're hoping is that as the people return to their homes from being internally displaced, and as people from refugee camps outside and the Afghan Diaspora return home, that there -- and as the political process goes forward, that the combination of those things will produce a more peaceful environment. Clearly, the development of an Afghan national army that can help root out terrorists and crime -- criminals will be a help as well. On the other hand, it's important, it seems to me, to remember that for the majority of the Afghan people -- the overwhelming majority -- the difference between this year and last year is night and day. The sporadic violence of recent days is nothing compared to the brutal rule of the Taliban and the al Qaeda and their terrorist allies that existed prior to the emancipation of that country.

Last fall, with the help of Afghan allies and coalition forces, the Taliban regime and the al Qaeda were cast out. The terrorists are either dead, or they're on the run. They are less able to plan, less able to finance and less able to launch attacks than they had been previously. An interim government is in place. Peacekeepers are patrolling in some trouble spots. The Afghan national army is beginning to be trained. Police units and border patrol are beginning to be trained. New hospitals have opened. Vast amounts of food and other humanitarian relief have been supplied and will continue to be supplied. Women are able to go outside and go to school, go to hospitals and serve in government. The Afghan people, for the most part, have a chance to vote and speak relatively freely. And as a result, there is at least a hope for a brighter future.

On another matter, I might just point out that we will -- we do intend to announce the unified command plan sometime this week. It will be a plan which will restructure and streamline a number of aspects of the military command which we believe will better fit it for the challenges of the 21st century. Dick Myers has indicated to me that in his career -- he believes this is the most significant set of changes that we've seen -- that he has seen in his career. But we will be presenting the details when we make the formal announcement, sometime later this week. For the most part, the kinds of consultations that are appropriate and necessary have been or, in one or two cases, are still being made.

Q: (Coughs.)

Rumsfeld: I was going to give you a Heimlich. (Laughter.) Are you okay?

Q: (Coughs.) Yeah.

Rumsfeld: You sure? Okay. You want some water?

Q: No, sir.

Rumsfeld: Okay.

(To press.) You all would've just sat there. (Laughter.)

Q: We're trained to ignore --

Q: Trained to ignore --

(Laughter.)

Q: When you speak, we just -- (off mike). (Laughter, cross talk.)

Rumsfeld: (Laughs.)

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

As the secretary said, regarding that explosive incident early this morning in Afghanistan, reports continue to come in on this incident, and at this point, we can't be any more precise on the numbers involved, nor with any of the details. Central Command will update you as additional details are confirmed.

And as the secretary also said, this tragic event highlights that even when not actively engaged against enemy forces, that our servicemen and women remain at risk as they perform their mission around the world and particularly in Afghanistan.

As the secretary said, our condolences and prayers go out to the families of those who were killed or injured in this incident.

We continue our efforts to find and destroy elements of al Qaeda and Taliban and former Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, and on Saturday a team of U.S. Special Forces and Afghan military forces exploited a suspected enemy complex. During the mission, they located several weapons storage sites containing mines, rockets, explosives, and antiaircraft artillery pieces that we assess were used for training.

During this operation, a convoy carrying U.S. and Afghan forces was fired upon, and an AC-130 gunship was called in to support the friendly forces. The aircraft located and fired on the enemy position, killing several of the enemy.

Also this weekend, there were two incidents of suspected rocket- propelled grenade fire in the vicinity of Khost. On Saturday two suspected rocket-propelled grenades impacted near an airfield in that area, and although there are U.S. and Afghan military forces in the general area, there were no injuries to friendly personnel. In fact, it's uncertain whether the friendly forces were actually even targeted by the weapons.

And then again, on Sunday, two more suspected rocket-propelled grenades were fired in the same area, although these appeared to have impacted some two kilometers away from the airfield. Again, no damage or injuries were sustained by friendly forces, nor is it clear whether friendly forces were actually the target.

And with that, we'll take your questions. Charlie?

Q: Mr. Secretary, Al-Jazeera is showing parts of a tape reported to include bin Laden and a senior official -- (inaudible) -- one of his senior aides. Have you anything to add to the possible authenticity of that? And has the United States got that tape?

Rumsfeld: I have not seen Al-Jazeera's tape. I have seen a tape, and whether it's the same one, I'm not sure. The one I saw was in Arabic. Needless to say, I did not understand what was being said, unfortunately. And I was advised that what I was watching very likely was using a patchwork of clips from previous periods, along with some dialogue of more recent periods -- or commentary from more recent periods, I should say.

So --

Q: Was that tape found in Afghanistan or provided to the United States or --

Rumsfeld: I'd just as soon not discuss its source. But I have seen it, and to my -- anything I can tell or was told, at least thus far, the impression is that it is not new. The tape is new, but it does not reflect anything of UBL from recent periods.

Q: It doesn't include UBL on it?

Rumsfeld: There are shots of him and shots of him talking, but there isn't any reason that anyone who has communicated with me can find to believe that they are anything other than somewhat dated.

Q: By previous periods, do you mean pre-September 11th or pre- --

Rumsfeld: No, no. It comments on things post-September 11th, but the UBL pieces appear to be from last year as opposed to this year.

Q: At the same time, Mr. Secretary --

Rumsfeld: And that is a very preliminary comment. And I would underline again that I don't speak Arabic, so I can't -- all I can say is what I have said.

Q: At the same time, al-Hayat newspaper says it's received an e-mail from Mullah Omar in which he launches into criticism of the U.S. for their support of Israel. Is there any evidence that this was coordinated between Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden? And do we know, are they in communication? Are they able to coordinate something like this at this point?

Rumsfeld: There certainly is no evidence there was any coordination.

Q: Is there any belief that Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden are in contact and able to coordinate anything like this since --

Rumsfeld: We don't know.

Q: Mr. Secretary, the snows are melting in Afghanistan, the weather is moderating, and as General Myers told us, there were some incidents over the weekend. It's time for a spring offensive, perhaps on both sides. I know you don't talk about upcoming operations, but is the U.S. planning anything soon comparable to Operation Anaconda, or maybe even larger?

Rumsfeld: As we have said before, we don't talk about operations. General Myers pointed out that there have been aircraft up and some skirmishes recently in the last 24 hours. And we did not take time off for the winter. As you may recall, we continued throughout the winter. In fact, the spring's coming does not make much difference to the United States. Our interest is in trying to locate numbers of these folks, whether it's one or two or 50 to100, as the case may be -- find them and deal with them.

Q: Well, what about the other side, though? I mean, if we're continuing, okay. But what about the unfriendly, so to speak? Do you expect more action from them?

Rumsfeld: Sure. You bet. We've expected it all along, and we've found some, and we'll undoubtedly find more as we go along. And we'll have to deal with it.

Yes.

Q: Mr. Secretary, Iraq has indicated a willingness to accept a new delegation to search for Lieutenant Commander Scott Speicher. And you're said to be considering sending that delegation. Can you tell us, have you made a decision of -- would the delegation include Scott Ritter, and when might it leave?

Rumsfeld: I don't have any information on that beyond what you've reported from the press. And nothing's come to me as yet.

Myers: Nor to me.

Q: Have you received any new information --

Q: (Off mike) -- working with State. It has not come to you, but --

Rumsfeld: There may be -- the context thus far has been through the Department of State, and they have not yet connected here.

Q: Have you received any new information that indicates he might still be alive?

Rumsfeld: No.

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Rumsfeld: Yes.

Q: General Myers, this combat activity over the weekend: Do you have any idea what it was about, who they were? And is it possible that this team ran into one of these -- you know there are these rival militia groups that have been going after each other in the last few weeks. Is it possible that's what's happening here? Or do you suspect it's al Qaeda actually organizing to be hostile to the United States?

Myers: Tom, we don't know. As I've indicated in remarks, it wasn't clear -- particularly in the second incident, whether U.S. forces or our Afghan counterparts were even a target of these particular rocket-propelled grenades -- launches. And we were pretty much in position. We were not out in reconnaissance and surveillance. So it wasn't --

Q: Do you have any signs of offensive operations by al Qaeda?

Myers: Well, I think, as the secretary said, we've said up here for some time that we've expected that. We expected it through the winter. We expect it will increase as the weather gets better and as the snows melt and so forth. We -- in terms of large operations, I'd -- I think I'd rather just not get into that.

Q: Mr. Secretary, also, in the videotapes that al-Jazeera is showing bits and pieces of is allegedly one of the hijackers who was killed going into either this building or the towers in New York. Do you have any reason to believe that this person who is alleged to be that hijacker is in fact one of the hijackers?

Rumsfeld: I don't personally. I'm told that the tape in Arabic, when translated, does leave the impression that they are reinforcing the fact that they were involved in September 11th.

Q: You seemed to imply earlier that you or the U.S. government has had possession of these tapes prior to Al-Jazeera broadcasting them. Is that correct?

Rumsfeld: Not to my knowledge.

Q: And just to clarify on that, because I think -- (inaudible) -- you're not at this point certain that the tape that you saw and was --

Rumsfeld: Is even that same tape.

Q: -- is the same tape.

Rumsfeld: Exactly, because I've not seen their tape.

Q: It could well be -- it might be a different tape.

Rumsfeld: Could be.

Q: Sir, just to try to --

Rumsfeld: I wouldn't guess that that's the probability, but because of my lack of certainty as to what Al-Jazeera is showing, I just don't know.

Yes?

Q: The part of the tape that you saw -- was it Osama bin Laden kneeling next to al-Zawahiri outside? Is that --

Rumsfeld: It was certainly shots of UBL, not standing.

Q: Do you remember if he was sitting next to someone?

Rumsfeld: From time to time, he was. And I don't remember --

Q: How long was the tape that you saw?

Rumsfeld: I didn't watch the whole tape, so I can't answer your question.

Q: When did --

Q: And when did it come into your possession?

Rumsfeld: I don't remember.

Q: Can you remember when you saw it?

Q: Today?

Rumsfeld: Very recently, yeah.

Q: So today or over the weekend? Today's Monday.

Rumsfeld: Hm. It's Monday all day, I bet. (Scattered laughter.) (Chuckles.)

I think I saw it yesterday.

Q: When you say, Mr. Secretary, that it reinforces their involvement in the September 11th attacks --

Rumsfeld: No, I didn't.

Q: Oh. I'm sorry.

Rumsfeld: I said the people who understand Arabic --

Q: Say that --

Rumsfeld: -- have left me with the impression that one of the purposes of it was to reinforce UBL's relationship to September 11th. That is a big difference from what you said I said.

Q: Did they have any opinion as to whether this was pre- September 11th or post-September 11th -- that tape?

Rumsfeld: If it tries to reinforce or suggest a relationship with September 11th, it has to be post-September 11th, or else they could look into the future. I mean, you don't know when the pictures were from. All you know is that there is reference to September 11th. Therefore, one would think it was after September 11th. But what kinds of pictures or words might have been juxtaposed with it, I don't know.

Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, because those clips of bin Laden appear to be from last year, as you said, have you drawn any new conclusions about bin Laden's fate --

Rumsfeld: As I was told.

Q: As you were told.

Rumsfeld: Yes.

Q: Have you drawn any new conclusions about bin Laden's fate, whether he's alive or not?

Rumsfeld: I haven't. I'm still -- I mean, as far as I know, I've not seen anything about his activities, any videotapes of him that are reasonably certain to have been in this year. Maybe they exist; he may exist, but I just don't know it.

Yes?

Q: There was some concern with previous tapes, the government asking networks not to broadcast them for fear they might contain hidden signals, hidden messages. Is there still that concern? Is that no longer a concern?

Rumsfeld: I don't know. I can't speak for the government. For myself, it -- my attitude is that the people who make those tapes give those tapes to networks and networks play them, and it's out of my control. And therefore, I don't spend a lot of time trying to decide if I would like to try to not have them play them, because they do play them, and life goes on.

Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, on another issue, Amnesty International, in London, has issued a 62-page report saying that it regards the treatment of the detainees in Guantanamo as cruel, and particularly cites the inability of the detainees to get legal counsel. Do you have any reaction to that?

Rumsfeld: I have not seen the report. And I have seen the people in Guantanamo, and their care and treatment is exactly the opposite of what you have said they have said.

Q: What about the criticism in some quarters that the U.S. government ought not to be holding an American citizen indefinitely without placing some sort of charges against him? And I'm referring to Yasser Hamdi.

Rumsfeld: The individual, as I recall, that you're talking about is a person with dual citizenship, and he is the one, probably, that was moved from Guantanamo Bay to Norfolk. I don't know how long "indefinitely" is, but he clearly has not been held indefinitely; he has been held a relatively short period. And what the lawyers will decide they intend to do with him remains to be seen, and when and on what basis. However, it has been generally accepted, I'm told by lawyers, that people who are captured on battlefields and who you have been fighting -- and that is certainly the case with that individual -- a country has every right to keep them off of the battlefield and detained so that they do not go right back out and engage in battle on behalf of the al Qaeda or the Taliban, as the case may be in this instance, and try to kill Americans or Afghans or other people.

Q: A follow-up on Iraq.

Rumsfeld: I'm assuming those lawyers are correct. I'm assuming that the fact that that has been done historically is correct.

Q: Just a second question on Iraq. Iraq has been somewhat quiet lately in terms of action in the no-fly zone, but we did have another incident today in which U.S. forces struck an air defense site. Is there any evidence that Saddam Hussein is gearing up his -- or renewing his efforts to try to down U.S. or coalition pilots? Are you seeing any evidence of a new offensive by Iraq or more defiance of enforcement of the no-fly zones?

Myers: Well, Jamie, as I think most people are aware, the efforts in both Operation Northern Watch and Southern Watch have continued. We have not changed to a substantial degree our patterns, and our forces, our airmen and aircraft, continue to be fired upon when they fly. And they respond appropriately to those firings. And that's what happened today. Two F-16s dropped some laser-guided bombs on a radar site when it illuminated the aircraft. It's not a change. It's the way -- it's the way we've been conducting operations there for quite some time, in self-defense.

Rumsfeld: Yes?

Q: It was reported today that Army Secretary White is under investigation by the FBI for possible insider trader charges. I'm curious if you can confirm that, and also tell us --

Rumsfeld: I can't.

Q: You don't know?

Rumsfeld: Don't know.

Q: And also tell us if you remain confident in his ability to do his job, given some of these investigations?

Rumsfeld: There's no question but that he's performing his job and performing it well. There's also no question in my mind but that he has been forthcoming and responded to every inquiry that's been made.

Yes?

Q: To go back to Hamdi for just a second, you said a number of times that it's up to the lawyers to decide what to do with him. Isn't it up to --

Rumsfeld: Unless there's a policy issue that they then come -- what they do is they talk to me about broad principles, and then they take individuals as to how those individuals might fit within those categories. And what we then do is we deal with the Department of Justice, in some cases the White House, because the military order is a presidential order, and the Department of Defense, and discuss in an interagency manner -- the lawyers do. And then at some point, they surface these up to the political level, the principals' level, where they are then looked at from a policy standpoint.

At the moment, there has been nothing that the lawyers have surfaced up on this subject of the Saudi who has dual citizenship in the United States.

Q: So it might still be that he might leave the control of the Department of Defense and go elsewhere?

Rumsfeld: Oh, sure. He could very well end up being taken by the Department of Justice. Or he could -- if someone decides he's not worth any more information, he could be let go or he could be transferred to his other country of citizenship, dual citizenship. There's -- the same options exist for him as exist for anybody.

You have to appreciate the difficulty and the magnitude of the job. We've had to interview thousands of people for intelligence- gathering purposes in the first instance. We've had to interview thousands of people -- let me change that to hundreds of people for law-enforcement purposes. And that takes time. And the idea that he's being held indefinitely, as though he's now in his fifth year, of course is just silliness. We've had him a relatively short period of time.

We're deeply concerned about getting intelligence from these folks. They were captured on the battlefield. We want to try to prevent further attacks. And it makes all the sense in the world to be doing exactly as we are doing. And all the fussing around the edges about it I find a distraction.

Yes?

Q: It hasn't worked its way up to your desk or --

Rumsfeld: Has not.

Q: Mr. Secretary, has the U.S. government asked permission to launch raids over the border into Pakistan? And if so, has President Musharraf granted permission?

Rumsfeld: From the outset, I have indicated that I prefer to allow other countries to characterize the ways that they are assisting us in the global war on terrorism. And you, sir, have just settled on exactly one of those instances.

Q: Has the U.S. asked permission?

Rumsfeld: If I wanted to answer that portion of your question, I probably would have, and I didn't. (Scattered laughter.)

Q: But do you --

Rumsfeld: What we have -- what -- I will say exactly what I want to say about this, and it is this: We are getting wonderful assistance from a lot of countries around the world. It is very much in their interest that they be the ones to characterize how they are helping us. They have different perspectives, different laws, different political circumstances, different neighbors, different views of threats, and we want the maximum help we can get as a country to stop terrorism and to root out the terrorists and to stop the sanctuaries that exist. There is no question but that that decision on the part of the United States government was exactly the correct decision to let those countries characterize what they are doing to help -- full stop. Pakistan is a separate case -- no question but that they have been wonderfully helpful and cooperative from the outset of this global war on terrorism. They have been, they are today and I have every reason to believe they will be prospectively.

Q: Are you satisfied with the way the last wave was handled, with FBI and perhaps CIA, as opposed to using U.S. military? Are you satisfied with that kind of way of handling the problem -- arresting these people?

Rumsfeld: Well, Charlie, when you have a country that is cooperating, and you develop a combined and joint effort, and you are able to go to something like eleven different locations and successfully apprehend something in excess of 60 people in those locations -- and among them is a individual who is very senior in al Qaeda -- and then have the opportunity to go over all of the things you collect from those 11 locations and have the opportunity to sit down and visit with the 60-plus human beings that were captured -- I don't see how anyone could describe that as anything other than a enormously successful effort.

Q: Can I do a follow-up on that?

Rumsfeld: And the idea of using military people for what is obviously a law-enforcement task -- it seems to me it wouldn't fit. You're looking at 11 different locations. That isn't what we're organized and trained to do. So it was a very successful effort. It started. It ended. And it has been useful.

Q: Mr. Secretary, can I do a follow-up on that, please? You are reported to have said yesterday that Abu Zubaydah is "talking," quote-unquote. Is he singing like a canary? Are you getting good, useful information?

Rumsfeld: No.

Q: Give us some --

Rumsfeld: All I can say is what I've said. Look: We have him. His health is getting better. It is, I think, very clear that he's going to live. And I'm not going to give daily reports on his situation.

Q: What about the one --

Q: Mr. Secretary --

Q: What about the one you captured in Spain over the weekend? Is he a key figure?

Rumsfeld: Pardon me?

Q: I'm a wounded veteran. Don't I get a follow-up, Mr. Secretary? The one you caught in Spain over the weekend -- is he a good catch -- the one the Spanish people caught, the so-called finance minister for the al Qaeda?

Rumsfeld: At the moment, he is thought to be.

Q: I'd like to ask your thinking on a completely different subject -- Americans looking at what's been going on in Israel, of course, for the last weeks here. As a member of the national security team, not as Defense secretary, broader portfolio, what's your thinking about the concerns that some Americans have that the behavior of suicide bombers could be exported -- irrespective of September 11th, the worries, concerns that the behavior of suicide bombing could at some point be exported to this country? Is it your sense that that -- is there an assessment of that possibility? Do you think it's a legitimate concern on the part of Americans? Is it something that people should be worried about, or is it really unlikely?

Rumsfeld: Well, I mean, the reality is that we're a free people and a free country, and we tend to not be living in basements and hiding and carrying weapons from day to day. And as a result, free people are -- tend to be vulnerable. And there's no question but that terrorists' attacks in the United States have occurred before. They've occurred against Americans elsewhere in the world. The attack in this building and the World Trade Centers were certainly terrorist attacks, suicide attacks. And there are any number of ways that people can do those things, and what we need to do is exactly what we're doing, and that's trying to extract all the intelligence information we can and try to find and root out these terrorist networks and stop countries from harboring those people.

Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, on --

Q: There is a report in the Washington Post today that Secretary Wolfowitz had asked for a report from the CIA on the capabilities of the U.N. inspection team to do a reasonable assessment of Iraq's ability to create weapons of mass destruction. Can you confirm that that report was carried out at DOD request and give us your opinion of whether the U.N. is up to this task, provided they're allowed back in, inspecting --

Rumsfeld: Let me think how I want to respond to that. First of all, what an official of government asks of another official of government on a classified matter is obviously no business of anyone else's, one would think.

The article I saw characterized something as having been requested -- something of a kind with an investigation. That, I know, is not the case. And to what extent somebody may have asked somebody about this, that or the other thing, I probably ask different intelligence elements, as I'm sure Dick Myers does, every single day, probably eight, 10, 12, 15 questions, asking people to look into this, amplify on that, please undertake a study of this -- and I'm sure it's 12 or 15 a day of one or more intelligence agencies. I'm sure the other senior people in the department do as well.

Q: What does release of the videotape in the last few days --

QHang on! (Laughs.)

Rumsfeld: Oh, I'm sorry.

Q: The inspection -- do you have an opinion on the inspection, the ability of the U.N. to conduct reasonable inspections of Iraq?

Rumsfeld: Well, if you're willing to take your original question and set it over there --

Q: Sure.

Rumsfeld: -- and then start with a fresh question, the way you just phrased it --

Q: You bet.

Rumsfeld: -- and not connect it to the individuals or the U.N. --

Q: (Laughs.) Yes, sir!

Rumsfeld: You're sure you're willing to do that?

Q: I am willing to do that.

Rumsfeld: All right.

Q: You're leading the witness!

Q: Careful! It's a trap!

Rumsfeld: It's not a trap! (Laughter.)

The answer is that there were inspectors in that country for a long time, and they did a lot of looking around and they found some things. But for the most part, anything they found was a result of having been cued to something as a result of a defector giving them a heads up that they ought to do this, that or the other thing.

There now has been a long period of years without inspectors in there. The inspection regime that existed originally, which was not able to find much, other than what defectors mentioned and cued them to, coupled with the long period without inspectors, coupled with the enormous amount of dual-use equipment that's been going in there, enabling them to become more mobile, enabling them to go underground to a greater extent than they had been previously, suggests to the reasonable person, one would think, that it would have to be an enormously intrusive inspection regime for anyone -- any reasonable person to have confidence that it could in fact find, locate and identify the government of Iraq's very aggressive weapons of mass destruction program, which has been going on for years.

Q: So you're fairly unoptimistic about it?

Rumsfeld: I just can't quite picture how intrusive something would have to be that it could offset the ease with which they had previously been able to deny and deceive, and which today one would think they would be vastly more skillful, having had all this time without inspectors there. So it's hard for me to -- you know, what one would want is an inspection regime that could give the rest of the world reasonable confidence that in fact Saddam Hussein was not doing that which everyone knows he has been trying to do; that is to say, develop nuclear capability and continue to enhance his other weapons of mass destruction, meaning biological and chemical weapons.

Q: When you said underground, did you mean physical underground or a clandestine --

Rumsfeld: Both.

Q: What does release of yet another videotape by bin Laden, apparently an old one, tell you about their -- bin Laden's organization's level of confidence, desperation? Does it send you any signals?

Rumsfeld: First let me take your question and disagree with it. We have no evidence that this was released by UBL. So your comment, what does the release by Osama bin Laden of yet another videotape, it seems to me -- unless you know something I don't know. We have no evidence that he released it. There's no question it was released with that -- trying to make it seem that way. Whether -- somebody released it, trying to make it seem that way. Whether it's UBL who wants the world to know that, or whether he wants anything at this stage, I just don't know. But clearly, somebody thought it would be useful to fashion this tape and give it to some network and let them play it.

Why might they do that? I don't know. Maybe they are anxious to inject some more energy into what they're doing. Maybe they're trying to let the world know that the senior people are still alive and well. Maybe they're trying to pretend to the world that they're still alive and well even though they're not. Maybe they're trying to take advantage of the concern about Palestinians in the Arab world by trying to play off that and think that it might benefit their terrorist organization in terms of recruiting or fundraising. I have no idea. Those are just the obvious speculations as to why one might do something like that.

Q: Is this possibly a very personal response to your comments of the last couple of weeks that you found it curious there had been no tape for several weeks or months? Do you think these people are responding to you personally?

Rumsfeld: Well, I don't know. That would be a reach. I'm without an opinion on that subject.

And our time has expired.

QOn the Middle -- one question more, a question on the Middle East?

Rumsfeld: I think our time -- unless it's for Dick Myers; otherwise --

(Cross talk and laughter.)

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