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Secretary Rumsfeld Stakeout at CBS

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
September 09, 2002

Sunday, September 08, 2002

(Stakeout at CBS)

Q: Good morning.

Q: Mr. Secretary, a question on Afghanistan. I believe earlier in the week you mentioned that U.S. Special Forces might have to begin a pullout of Afghanistan at some point. Can you elaborate on that?

Rumsfeld: I don't recall anything like that.

Q: I believe it was Wednesday you said there might be an instance where U.S. Special Forces might have to begin some sort of pull-out of Afghanistan.

Rumsfeld: I don't believe so.

The situation with -- We have three categories really of forces in there. We have regular forces, we have Special Forces, and we have Special Operations people, and the Special Operations people are in relatively short supply worldwide and they are currently participating in the training, Special Forces and Special Ops are training Afghan Army. I think what I may have said is that my goal would be to have regular Army forces and regular Marines be involved in helping to train the Afghan Army, National Army, because we have more of them, they're good at training, and it seemed to me to be appropriate.

I think the reason they grabbed Special Forces and Special Ops people was because they were there, in country, available, good at it, and that's fine for a short period of time. But it probably makes more sense to use regular troops for that role over a longer period of time. Is that what you were thinking of?

Q: Yes. When do you think that might begin?

Rumsfeld: Oh, I don't know. I just don't know. I've asked folks to look into it. They're looking into it. I'm sure they'll begin that process at some point.

Q: Mr. Secretary if the U.N. does not support United States actions to get rid of Saddam Hussein, should the United States go it alone?

Rumsfeld: The President has not proposed any particular action to the U.N. He is going to be speaking there on the 12th. He will be pointing out the truth, and the truth is that Iraq stands in violation of most of the resolutions of the United Nations related to Iraq -- some 26 or 27 instances of violations.

The resolutions of the U.N. are not U.S. standards, they're world standards. They're international community standards, and I think what the U.N. is going to have to address is how it feels about that. How does it -- What does the United Nations feel it's appropriate to do when they come together, pass resolutions of that type, where Saddam Hussein sits down and agrees to disarm and no longer engage in weapon of mass destruction activities, and then proceed basically over an 11 year period but certainly over the last four or five years in flagrant violation of all of those resolutions, what does the international community think about that?

And as the President said when he met with the congressional leadership this week, we're at the beginning of that process. The case will be presented as to the extent to which Iraq is in violation of those resolutions, and at that point they will proceed -- he will proceed -- with the Congress and with the United Nations in discussing and having a dialogue on that subject.

Q: So, sir, is it your view that the United States should try to help shape a U.N. policy in reaction to Saddam Hussein? Or should the United States go it alone?

Rumsfeld: Those are questions that the President and Secretary Powell will be addressing in the days ahead as they meet with the Congress and the international community up at the U.N. General Assembly.

Q: Is there anything --

Q: Mr. Secretary do you have --

Q: -- [inaudible] Where are you [inaudible]?

Rumsfeld: The word evidence is an interesting thing. It tends to suggest like a court of law in the United States that what we're engaged in here is a law enforcement process where you're looking to get all the evidence, take your time, protect the rights of the accused, have witnesses argue the case, and then beyond a reasonable doubt have a jury of the peers, make a judgment and a decision.

In the international world it isn't a court of law. It is not a matter of beyond a reasonable doubt. It's a question of what ought the international community to do? What ought individual countries to do? And it is quite a different thing.

The other part of the problem with it is that in intelligence gathering, and billions of dollars are spent on intelligence gathering, it is a fact that to the extent you take intelligence information and make it available to the general public, it all comes from a source or it comes from a method of intelligence gathering. And to the extent you make it available you run the risk, indeed the certainty in some cases of exposing the source that it came from and risking that person's life or at the minimum eliminating the value of that source because they no longer can provide the information. The same thing with the method. If you have a technique of intelligence gathering and you reveal it, reveal the information, it can be known then what that method is.

So protection of sources and methods is important and that is why it is necessary in our world if you're going to spend billions and billions of dollars a year trying to develop intelligence information, to be somewhat careful about the extent to which it is provided to the general public.

Q: Do you know --

Q: Mr. Secretary, do you have any concerns about going the route of the U.N.?

Question: -- Iraq?

Rumsfeld: The concern of the President and the United States is that we see with the end of the Cold War, the relaxation of tension in the world and the proliferation of all of these technologies across the globe. To the extent that happens, if you think back to September 11th which is coming up this year, a year ago, we lost over 3,000 innocent men, women and children. To the extent weapons of mass destruction are used in an attack of that type, it's not 3,000 but it's tens of thousands of people who could be lost. And it is a fact that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction technology is pervasive in the world. North Korea for example is selling ballistic missile technologies to any number of countries. There are networks that exist in the world that are assisting countries with chemical and biological weapons.

Q: What about [inaudible]?

Rumsfeld: I don't really care to discuss specific countries or their specific programs. Most of those countries, along with several others, are on the terrorist state, and almost every country on the terrorist list as terrorist states are engaged in chemical, biological and/or nuclear development programs, and testing programs in the case of chemical and biological.

Q: Mr. Secretary, if the United States took the route of going through the U.N., beyond the speech of the President, what concerns do you have that that might delay the whole process for months in the event of whatever action is decided against Iraq?

Rumsfeld: Well of course those are judgments that the President and ultimately the Congress and the United Nations have to make. They have to weigh the advantages and disadvantages and the certainties and uncertainties.

The one thing the President has said, it seems to me, is that there are a variety of ways to approach these problems but the one thing that's not acceptable is to do nothing because the risks of doing nothing are real, and the second thing he said which I think is important to keep in mind is when you have knowledge of weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs in countries that are terrorist states and that have relations with terrorist networks, that time is not on your side because every day that goes by, given the availability of these technologies and the availability of technicians to assist people with those programs, as every week or months or a year go by, they are moving down the field and developing more lethal capabilities.

The second thing you have to keep in mind with a situation like this is enormously important. As much as we spend and as good as we are at intelligence gathering, it is absolutely crystal clear in retrospect, that at any given moment there are an enormous number of things we do not know where our assessments are wrong, and they're always wrong on the short side. That is to say after another year or two passes we will look back on this year, this moment, and find that there were things happening in the world that we did not know. We know that because we can go back and find important weapons of mass destruction events that occurred in terrorist states that we didn't know for two, four, six, eight, ten years. Now if that's true, that means that at this moment there are things we do not know and we can know that we do not know them.

Q: One of the arguments for going to the U.N. is to increase international support. How important do you think it is in your judgment to have allies with the United States in the event of action? Apart from Britain, that is.

Rumsfeld: It's always your preference to have support. In a perfect world, one would like unanimity, but that's why we elect leaders is to help provide direction and help provide leadership and to be persuasive with other countries and to -- Think what President Bush has done and Secretary Powell in fashioning a 90-country coalition in the global war on terrorism. Now that coalition did not exist last September 11th. That was built one country at a time over months. Today it's the biggest coalition in the history of the world.

If capable leaders provide capable leadership and direction, countries over time nod and say that's right, that is the right way we should be going.

Q: Mr. Secretary, there's a new CBS poll that says that American support for invading Iraq is fading. How does the Administration convince the American people that we are right to attack?

Rumsfeld: First of all, public opinion polls go up and down, they spin like weather vanes. They're interesting, I suppose. I don't happen to look at them. What Presidents do is they decide what they believe is -- They're elected to do this. They're elected to decide what they believe is in the best interest of the country and then to make the case and provide leadership in that direction. My guess is that's what we'll be seeing in the weeks ahead.

Thank you very much.

* * * * *

Rumsfeld: ... officials from the United Kingdom regularly and we talk about a full range of matters. We're going to be having meetings in Warsaw, Poland in the middle of this month. I'm sure we'll be discussing those matters as we do. What specific other items on the agenda I'd prefer not to get into.

Q: You won't be war planning on Iraq?

Rumsfeld: I think I've responded to your question.

Q: How important is it militarily that the U.S. has allies in --

Rumsfeld: I just answered that question back there.

Q: Thank you very much.

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