Radio Interview with Secretary Rumsfeld with Rusty Humphries, Talk Radio Network at the Pentagon
Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
September 11, 2006
HUMPHRIES: Well, Secretary Rumsfeld, it is such an honor to have you here on the "Rusty Humphries Show." Thank you very much.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I'm delighted to be with you.
HUMPHRIES: And you're wearing your cast, sir. You were a wrestler back in the day, weren't you?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, that's true. I wrestled for about 12 years -- high school, college, the Navy, and after the Navy. And I have a suspicion that 12 years of wrestling did a little something to my shoulder. (Chuckles.)
HUMPHRIES: Are you doing okay?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Excellent.
HUMPHRIES: Good. Good.
You know, one of the things that I've noticed lately is, you know, we hear about the fog of war. And what I'm seeing lately is the clarity of war; because of war, we see Iran, Syria, all these people that have been in the background, they're actually starting to come to the forefront. And guys like you and me have been talking about it, now regular folks actually are seeing this.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Isn't that the truth? You know, I listen to these people who are concerned about Iraq. And obviously no one wants to be in a conflict, and the loss of life is always a tragedy. On the other hand, if you think about Saddam Hussein, today, had we not gone in, he would be rolling in petrol dollars because of the price of oil.
HUMPHRIES: That's right.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: And he would see --
HUMPHRIES: Just like our good friend, Ahmadinejad.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: That's my point. He would see his neighbor over there in Iran, and the folks over in North Korea, working on nuclear programs, and say, "Well, why shouldn't I?" And he'd be doing it, just as sure as we're sitting here.
So it's an interesting world. I think we're fortunate that Saddam Hussein is in the docks being tried for murder rather than running that country.
HUMPHRIES: And on September 11th, we have Senators out there today saying that, you know what, Saddam wouldn't have been so bad in power right now. Does that frustrate you? Is it just politics or are they stupid?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, it is election time! (Laughs.)
HUMPHRIES: Yeah! (Laughs.)
I mean, do you think that they're -- I mean, I know it's election time. But we're talking about a war here, we're talking about our freedom.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, we are. But if you go back, in every single war we've ever had, there have been people who have disagreed very strongly. There have been people who have for political reasons taken a position. There are people who with great conviction have taken a position and been right or wrong, as the case may be. We'll survive all this.
HUMPHRIES: Heck, even in the Civil War, the Peace Democrats, you know.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: And in World War II, the opposition to our involvement in that war was violently strong. I'm from Chicago; I remember it.
HUMPHRIES: (Chuckles.) Well, you were very, very young then.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I was, but I remember it.
HUMPHRIES: Well, what was it -- I mean, we don't even think about -- we all think about it, we were all together in World War II.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: The feeling against Franklin Roosevelt was hostile. And the "America Firsters" did not want to be involved in that war at all. And the opposition to President Roosevelt was continuous.
Even during the Cold War -- people look back at the Cold War and say well, we kind of agreed. Well, that's not true. There were often amendments in the Congress and the Senate to bring our troops home right in the middle of the Cold War. And the Soviet Union was killing people in their own country; they were making mischief in Africa and Latin America. And there were people in the United States who said, "Well, Euro communism's not so bad."
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: And, "It takes so long, and costs so much money. And we'll never be able to prevail. The Soviet Union's too big." And just the opposite was the case.
HUMPHRIES: Well -- and somebody gave a speech a couple of days ago and got some heat over it. And I got to tell you --
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Good speech. (Laughs.)
HUMPHRIES: Historical. Historical.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I went back and reread that a couple of times, and I liked every word. (Laughs.)
MR. HUMPHRIES: Me, too. Every -- I cannot understand why -- and I'm guessing you can't understand, either -- but why anybody would have a problem with this. I mean, we have appeasers in our country, and --
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I've tried to get people to take that speech and show me which sentence they didn't agree with.
HUMPHRIES: One -- one sentence, please.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Yeah, and they can't find anything they don't agree with.
Some fellow from AP misrepresented the speech as the lead-out from the syndicate all over the world, and everyone reacted over his mischaracterization of the speech, and it started a wave of opposition to the speech. And when people finally read the speech, they turned to him and said, "I can't find anything I disagree with him."
HUMPHRIES: I liked some of the commentators that are -- said -- may say that they're trying to compare you with Neville Chamberlain and simple guys like John Perry, which makes no sense at all.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, they'd better get a different history book.
HUMPHRIES: (Laughs.) It's not the book I read.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Yeah, they got the wrong guy.
HUMPHRIES: Let's talk about the horrible anniversary of today. I understand that when September 11th happened, you actually went out there and tried saving people. Is that a true story?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, you bet. I mean, it's the most natural thing in the world that you go out there. And then you see people who need some help -- and I wasn't there long and I had to get back into the office and help organize the Department of Defense to figure out how we'd manage our affairs going forward. But there were people out there being courageous and going into the burning building and helping people out.
I'll never forget a woman sitting on the grass, couldn't walk. Something happened to her legs, and she held up her arm and said, "I can hold an I.V. I can help."
HUMPHRIES: Oh, my gosh.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: And that's kind of the example of the attitude of the people in this building. They were just terrific, and God bless them for it.
HUMPHRIES: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, I know you're running out of time. I got a couple more, and then I'll let you go.
Does it amaze you, this new wave of conspiracy theories on September 11th? It's hysterical, but -- in a funny way, but then you go -- this is -- these people are crazy. It's crazy.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I suppose there have always been people in the world who subscribe to conspiracy theories and are -- you just almost have to suspend the idea of disbelief. I can't imagine people saying -- writing books the way they're writing them, articles of what they're writing, believing what they believe --
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: -- people contending that the -- September 11th was not an attack by al Qaeda, even though when the al Qaeda take credit for it.
HUMPHRIES: I talk to terrorists personally, and they tell me every single time, it was the Jews that sent the planes in to start a war between us and Islam.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Isn't that amazing stuff?
HUMPHRIES: Yeah. They also told me one time that it was the Jews that sent Monica Lewinsky in to have sex with Bill Clinton so they could run America. You like that one?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: My goodness.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I have not heard that.
HUMPHRIES: (Laughs.) I'll let you go after a couple more, and that is Secretary of State -- Secretary of Defense -- excuse me -- Donald Rumsfeld on the Rusty Humphries Show. Are we safer than we were five years ago? That's the big question.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: You bet. You bet. I mean, if you think about it, people are flying today. We're not terrorized as a people. We have to change the way we live a little bit, and we have to have air marshals, and we have to have baggage checks. And we have to do a series of prudent things, but the purpose a terrorist is to terrorize; it's to alter your behavior; it's to make you live a different life. And of course that strikes at the very essence of freedom-- because that's what we are as a people … a free people.
And - the fact that is that we have not been intimidated; we have not been terrorized; we've been able to adjust in this difficult -- (off mike) -- recognize it for what it is. It's a struggle within the Muslim faith. A handful of -- not a handful, but a very small percentage of violent extremists in that faith are trying to hijack the religion and to reestablish a caliphate in the world and to destabilize modern Muslim governments. And they're going to fail over time because the numbers are against them.
They are killing large numbers of Muslims - the extremist Muslims are - and at some point, the rest of that faith is going to need to get up on their hind legs and find a way to stop them…those people from hijacking that religion.
So I think we -- we're on the winning side. (off mike).
HUMPHRIES: If they tried to do it again today, would we have stopped them?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, we've stopped a lot of them already. It's amazing to me that we have gone five years without a successful attack in the United States, because the terrorists can attack anywhere they want, any time they want using any technique. There's no way to defend against it -- (off mike). We can't stop a terrorist in every place, in every moment – against every technique. (off mike). We have to go attack them where they are. You have to put pressure on them. You have to be preemptive.
And that's what we're doing, and we've got a big coalition of countries that are cooperating with us. We're making headway, and yes, it's a very dangerous world. And of course, increasingly, weapons are more lethal and more dangerous. And to the extent that terrorist networks are able to get their hands on these more lethal weapons, then the danger goes up. (Off mike.)
HUMPHRIES: Well, I can talk to you for two weeks, but I know you've got to go. I'm offended by what the Democrats are trying to do to you. I'm on your side. God bless you, sir. Thank you.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Thank you so very much.
HUMPHRIES: Donald Rumsfeld on the Rusty Humphries Show. Thank you.
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