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Secretary Rumsfeld interview with Tony Snow

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
October 10, 2003

            RUMSFELD:  We did an exercise, a scenario, a simulation, and almost none of them had ever done it before, and it was quite interesting to see the reactions, how it forces you to think.  It’s provocative. 


            Q:  (Inaudible).


            RUMSFELD:  You know, the typical thing, the kind of threats you’d get in this period we’re in, and the kinds of things one might do with a NATO response force, and the difficulty of decision making with large organizations and with capitals, each with their parliaments.  Some countries have rules.  You have to have two-thirds approval in the Parliament before you can deploy any forces, for example.  So, it was interesting. 


            I’m ready to go.  Let her rip.


            Q:  (Inaudible).


            RUMSFELD:  There have been.  It’s really an impressive, significant event that NATO, for the first time in history, has gone outside the NATO treaty area, and agreed to put forces into Afghanistan, and has taken over responsibility for the International Security Assistance Force.  In addition, we had discussions this week about the idea of having the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul under NATO control expand outside of Kabul, where there is a series of things called Provincial Reconstruction Teams, which are an effort to help extend the reach of the central government out into the provinces. 


            So it’s a big step for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.  It’s an important step.  And I’m just delighted that they have decided to do that.  I should also add that the overwhelming majority of the NATO countries currently have forces in Iraq, as well.  And NATO’s role in Iraq has been thus far to assist Poland and Spain, that are heading up one of the two multinational divisions in Iraq, with their force generation and that’s been a good thing, as well. 


            Q:  (Inaudible).


            RUMSFELD:  Well, already six of the seven invitees are there.  I think something like 11 or 12 of the 18 countries are already in there.  So whether -- how many more might or might not, I don’t know, but it’s a very good representation now.


            Q;  (Inaudible).


            RUMSFELD:  We’re open to embedding.  There are probably a few embedded right now, but people are not embedded because the troops, our forces, the coalition forces, are basically in a single location.  And the reporters are, for the most part, in Baghdad, where they’ve got access to the facilities they want.  So it’s a -- I’ve asked that same question you asked, Tony, and I’ve found that there are a few, but there -- for the most part, the reporters aren’t interested in embedding at the present time, it appears.


            Q:  (Inaudible).


            RUMSFELD:  I beg your pardon?


            Q:  (Inaudible).


            RUMSFELD:  No.  I don’t know that I’ve ever used the word “extortion.”  I think what you find is people report what they see and that they think is newsworthy and that they think will get on the news.  And if most of them are in Baghdad, they’re going to report what’s going on in Baghdad.  Well, clearly, Baghdad is the most difficult place we’ve got.  The situation in the north is much better; the situation in the south is much better.  And if you’re going to have constant drum-beat with 24-hour news, it leaves an impression, not because there’s a distortion, simply because it’s an accurate representation of what those people happen to be seeing, that they happen to be seeing a relatively narrow slice of what’s taking place in the country of Iraq. 


            I was looking at some materials the other day where I suppose our forces, coalition forces, do something like 1,700 patrols a day, and of those, less than one-tenth of 1 percent end up with any conflict of any kind.  That’s a relatively small percentage.  A very high percentage of those, however, occur in the Baghdad and the central regions.


            Q:  (Inaudible).


            RUMSFELD:  Well, I don’t have expectations one way or another.  I know our forces are doing a good job of developing information about this problem, and that there are investigations underway.  And in my position, my best course is to allow those investigations to proceed, and we’ll see what they produce.


            Q:  (Inaudible).


            RUMSFELD:  No.  My goodness, I’m 71 years old.  We’ve had spies and problems throughout the entire history of mankind, certainly our country has. If you have activities that other people are interested in, other people are going to try to penetrate those activities, and from time to time, they’ll be successful in penetrating them.  It’s our task to constantly be vigilant against it and to have a variety of techniques of trying to root it out.  And in this instance, we feel fortunate that we’ve been able to pull some of those threads on alleged wrongdoing.


            Q:  (Inaudible).


            RUMSFELD:  Oh, goodness.  You know, it’s funny.  It’s the typical Washington story.  What happened is, the National Security Council is doing what its charter suggests it should do, and that is to say, coordinate among the various agencies and departments.  And it has been, I think, blown considerably out of proportion.  And the funny thing about it is that this problem, or this situation that we’re wresting with in Iraq, is about Iraq.  It’s about the fact that 23 million Iraqis have been liberated, and the fact that we’ve got 32 countries working with us in there, trying to improve the circumstance for the Iraqi people, and trying to transfer the political, economic and security responsibilities to the Iraqi people.  It’s not about the people in the National Security Council.  It’s about the Iraqi people.


            Q:  (Inaudible).


            RUMSFELD:  You bet.


            Q:  (Inaudible).


            RUMSFELD:  Okay.  Good to talk to you, Tony.

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