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Radio Interview with Secretary Rumsfeld on the Charlie Brennan Show, KMOX, St. Louis, Mo., from the Pentagon

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
September 11, 2006
BRENNAN: Was it rotator cuff surgery?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: That was one of them. And the other was labrum pins, and another was bone spurs, and another was cut off a piece of the clavicle. They had an exciting time in there! (Laughs.)

BRENNAN: Is this from tennis days or what?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I wrestled for 12 years, and my guess is that some of that's left over from that.

BRENNAN: I guess. Well, you're a better man than me, Gunga Din, because if I was in surgery last week, I probably would be at home watching television today.

But this is a very important day personally and professionally for you.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Isn't it?

BRENNAN: Let's start with the first. Please give us your thoughts on this September the 11th.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, the first thing that comes to mind is what a shock it was that the World Trade Center and this building were attacked by suicide-bombers.

The second thing that immediately leaps to mind, being out in the side of this building, the Pentagon, was how brave and compassionate the people were, and how they were so effective in going in the building and bringing out people who were burned or blinded or injured seriously, and looking out for them. One of my images, when I walked through the smoke and came down where the fire was blazing and where people were coming out of the building was a woman, probably 35 years old, sitting on the ground, legs couldn't walk. And she said, "I can hold an IV. I can help." (Chuckles.)

BRENNAN: That's pretty amazing.

You know, five years ago we were attacked by al Qaeda. And I know a lot of listeners want to know, is it possible that we'll ever beat al Qaeda? It seems as if there are more recruits on all continents right now, Mr. Secretary.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, there have been recruits for many, many years, I mean, if you think about it. We were attacked in the Marine barracks in Beirut back in the mid- -- early 1980s; lost 241 Marines. The USS Cole was attacked in Yemen some years later. Other countries have been attacked -- London and Madrid and Bali. This is not a totally new phenomenon. What's new is the fact that they are raising money, and recruiting, and attempting to destabilize moderate Muslim governments in the world to try to reestablish a caliphate. Are they going to be successful? No, they're not. Is it going to take time? You bet. Will there always be terrorists? I suppose so. There have been for hundreds of years, of one kind or another.

But the purpose of terrorism isn't really to kill you, it's to terrorize you, it's to alter your behavior. And as free people, what we are about is being free, is the ability to say what you want, and go where you want, and think what you wish to think; send your children off to school and know they'll come home safely.

And for a terrorist to win, we have to be terrorized and alter our behavior, and we have not been terrorized. We have not altered our behavior. We are still flying airplanes, and we're still going about our business. We're wiser and we're more careful, but we're doing that what you have to do, and that is to go after them where they are. You can't -- terrorists can attack any time, anyplace, using any technique, and it is not physically possible to defend in every location at every moment of the day or night against every conceivable technique. You have to go out and find them and go after them.

Now, are we much better off today? Oh, no question. No question. If you think -- you've got Pakistan helping, you've got Saudi Arabia that's been attacked and they're helping arrest people, and we've got 80 or 90 nations in a coalition that are sharing intelligence and cooperating. People are being arrested in some country every day -- every day of the week for planning attacks. And, you know, some people take it for granted that the United States hasn't been attacked in the last five years. We don't take it for granted. And it's an exceptional accomplishment that we haven't been. Could we be tomorrow? Yes, because an attacker can always attack. But the success in preventing those attacks is something we should not take for granted.

BRENNAN: Let me ask you about Osama bin Laden. Newspaper reports yesterday indicate that we're not much closer to finding him, and that Pakistan is not helping us. Pakistan tribesmen are afraid of losing their heads if they cooperate. Somehow, people say, Osama bin Laden can get a tape to Al-Jazeera, but we can't get to Osama bin Laden. How is that possible?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, it's obviously possible. We've had people on the 10 most wanted in the FBI for 20, 30, 40 years and never been caught. The answer is it's much easier to find an army, navy or an air force than it is to find a single individual.

Second, any suggestion that Pakistan's not helping is just plain false. They are helping. They're doing -- Musharraf is -- they've tried to kill Musharraf three or four or five times. He's been courageous. They have arrested and captured and/or killed any number of terrorists in -- basically in urban areas in Pakistan, where they have had very good success. They've had less success in rural areas because the federally administered tribal areas are areas that the government of Pakistan historically never even went in, let alone ran. They just didn't. And yet, in this instance, they are going in there, and they've lost a lot of lives of their army by trying to help us. So people who say they're not helping don't understand the situation.

BRENNAN: And is Saudi Arabia helping us? Or is Saudi money still going to terrorist organizations?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Both. You know, just like I'm sure there's money coming out of the United States going to al Qaeda and other organizations. But certainly the government money is not doing that in Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia, ever since they've been attacked, have been doing an excellent job of rounding up terrorists and cooperating and sharing intelligence.

BRENNAN: Speaking of cooperating and sharing -- let me make this my last question because I know you've got other people to talk to today, and I really appreciate your time.

After September 11th, there was a great show of unity in this country. We had Tom Daschle hugging George Bush. We had Dick Armey hugging Maxine Waters. You know, opposites had come together. But five years later, does it seem to you like we've been polarized and bifurcated once again?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, in a democracy, you're going to always have people expressing different views, and politics is politics. And Washington is filled with politics. And during an election period, it becomes particularly noticeable, and we're now in the heat of the election. In another six, eight weeks, it'll be past us, and people will be very likely less political, the good Lord willing. And -- well, I would certainly hope so anyway -- it does make it difficult, but it's understandable. It's nothing new. It's always been so.

Wars are things that people disagree on, and different -- they disagree on all aspects of it historically. Think of the argument and debates in the Revolutionary War were hostile, in the Civil War and in World War I and World War II, we forget that. Even the Cold War, now, we look back and say, "Oh my goodness. Everyone agreed with that." Well, that's not true. There were people who wanted to throw in the towel and bring our troops back in the middle of the Cold War. There were people who were saying, "Well, you know, Euro communism’s not so bad, and we can live with the Russians and Soviets," and they kind of wanted to turn their eye. But we persevered and prevailed, and that's the nature of our country. And thank goodness it is or we wouldn't have the country we have today.

BRENNAN: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who joined us at our KMOX table in the Pentagon, despite a shoulder of which was worked on last week four times. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: (Laughs.) Thank you.

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