SEC. RUMSFELD: Good afternoon, folks. We have spoken often about the skill and compassion of the men and women in uniform, and I know the American people recognize that there is something special about a country, like ours, that has the ability and the desire and the willingness to send our finest young people to come to the aid of people all across the globe, people they've never met.
Today we're once again seeing some efforts undertaken by the United States armed forces as our personnel come to the aid of those that have been injured or made homeless in the mud slides -- devastating mud slides in the Philippines that buried an entire village. The AP photo on the front page of several newspapers this morning showed pictures of our military folks doing what they do to help others, just as the world saw the United States military come to the aid of earthquake survivors in Pakistan, those injured in mud slides in Guatemala, and to the rescue of hundreds of thousands of people after the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia.
These efforts are an indication of the organizational talents of the United States military.
They're able, at a moment's notice, to respond to the pleas of millions across the world, while at the same time fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere around the globe. I think it's also a tribute to our free system of government that rewards creativity and innovation -- attributes that have been essential to the transformation of our armed forces into a more agile and more capable institution.
I mention this not only to salute the folks in the military, but also to make the larger point about the war in which we're now engaged. As the president has said, this war we are in really cannot be won by military means alone. We need to find ways to win the ideological battle as well, to convince people who might otherwise be attracted to the message of violent extremism that there is a better way of life, and that free political and free economic systems are forces for good in the world, which indeed they are, not as the enemy would suggest, responsible for the plight of people who have needs and hopes and aspirations that are as yet unachieved.
Every effort we undertake to demonstrate the depth of America's compassion and generosity is an important step in the global war on terror. I recall that when I was in Pakistan a few months ago to survey the U.S. military's assistance in the Pakistan earthquake, I came across what might prove to be one of the most important weapons in the war on terror. It was not conventional military technology, it was that M.A.S.H. unit, the clinic there that had given treatment to so many Pakistanis and provided them with a very different view of America and our mission in the world.
So, too, our efforts to help Afghans and Iraqis build their futures and their countries will prove to be as important as was the defeat of their regimes that had threatened American security. As one Iraqi leader reportedly said of his new country, "Iraq was the North Korea of the Middle East and now it has a chance to be the South Korea."
GEN. PACE: Thank you, sir. I'd just like to add my words of condolence to those of the secretary for the families of those mudslide victims in the Philippines. We were fortunate that at the time of the mudslide that we had U.S. forces in the Philippines for an exercise -- three ships, 5,000 U.S. service members, helicopters, landing craft air cushion, bulldozers and the like.
And you can see by this picture how the top of that mountain just came down and covered the village at the bottom. At the bottom of the picture you see a village. There was a similar village across the river where the mudslide hit. And as the folks work to assist the Philippine government in trying to find anyone who may still be alive, you can just imagine the weight of that that mud -- the consistency of the mud makes it very, very difficult to operate.
We're hopeful that we'll find folks. We're thankful that our service members are able to help the government of the Philippines in any way we can.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Be happy to take some questions.
Q Mr. Secretary, Iraqi Prime Minister Ja'afari met this morning with British Foreign Secretary Straw and responded to questions afterwards, and said rather tersely that Iraq did not want a sectarian government, and that Baghdad didn't need to be reminded by the U.S. ambassador or the British that was a bad thing. Nonetheless, is this building… are you and this administration concerned about continuing sectarian violence in Iraq, reports of Shi'a death squads, and the fact that perhaps some people in the Iraqi government are turning a blind eye to that?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The Iraqis are going through a political process, and until they have agreed upon who their new leadership will be -- the president and the prime minister and the various ministry officials -- you're going to see a lot of public statements by a lot of people on a lot of different subjects reflecting a lot of different views, and that's perfectly natural. If you think about our country here, we do that all the time. You hear senators and congressman and people in the administration and people outside of government talking about various perspectives, and it's a part of that political process.
Obviously, the -- we believe in the Transitional Administrative Law principles which were put forward and which the constitution followed in large measure, and we expect that that will be the -- continue to be the general approach of the Iraqi government.
Q Mr. Secretary, is -- and General, is the U.S. military going to be able to leave Iraq as long as sectarian violence -- sectarian politics translates into sectarian violence?
GEN. PACE: Well, kind of from the standpoint of how we are training, we are training, as agreed to, between the U.S. government and the Iraqi government to train a Iraqi army -- that is an Iraqi army, not a Shi'a army, not a Kurd army, not a Sunni army, but an army that is representative of all the people, to train them to be supportive of and subordinate to the central government.
Q Mr. Secretary, I'd like to ask you about government -- the U.S. government's decision to have a company from the UAE run six U.S. seaports. Is that a decision that the Defense Department weighed in on? And what, if any, national security issues do you think that raises?
SEC. RUMSFELD: First, let me say I'm not expert on this subject, and it -- my understanding that I've been told secondhand by others is the following: that there's a process that exists in the government; that six departments and agencies are involved, and five or six offices in the Executive Office of the President and the White House are involved; and there's a time limit of something like 30 days during which this process is to be executed; that the process worked; it was chaired by the Department of Treasury -- the deputy, Bob Kimmitt, is -- was the chairman -- and they -- in the normal order of things, what they do, as I understand it, is they select a lead agency or department based on the substance of it -- and in this case, it was Homeland Security, obviously, because the Coast Guard has the responsibility for the security of ports -- and that the process went forward; and in the course of it, the Department of Homeland Security and the interagency process negotiated a letter with the company that had purchased, I believe, a British company, setting forth exactly how security would be handled. I've not seen it, so I can't describe it, but that's my understanding.
And the -- I guess the only other thing I'd say is that we all deal with the UAE on a regular basis.
It's a country that's been involved in the global war on terror with us, it's a country that we have facilities that we use, and it's a country that was very responsive to assist in Katrina, one of the early countries that did that, and a country that we have very close military-to-military relations as well as political and economic relations.
Do you want to comment?
GEN. PACE: Sir, the military-to-military relationship with the United Arab Emirates is superb. They've got great seaports that are capable of handling, and do, our aircraft carriers. They've got airfields that they allow us to use, and their airspace, their logistics support. They've got a world-class air-to-air training facility that they let us use and cooperate with them in the training of our pilots. In everything that we have asked and work with them on, they have proven to be very, very solid partners. And as the Secretary said, they were the very first country -- a hundred million dollars is what they offered to Katrina victims.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I should add that I wasn't aware of this until this weekend, as I think is the case with Pete.
GEN. PACE: That's correct, sir, on the port --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah. And I'm told that Deputy Secretary of Treasury Kimmitt and others will be briefing on this, who do have the background of the discussions and the information on it.
Q There was a Defense Department representative in the decision-making process? Is that what you're --
SEC. RUMSFELD: There were Defense Department and -- I think as I said, there were six departments that were involved in the process in one way or another, and the Defense Department was one of them. The lead was the Department of Homeland Security.
Q Are you confident that any problems with security -- from what you know, are you confident that any problems with security would not be greater with a UAE company running this than an American company?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I am reluctant to make judgments based on the minimal amount of information I have, because I just heard about this over the weekend. I'm told that nothing changes with respect to security under the contract, that the Coast Guard is in charge of security, not the corporation.
And the corporation -- is this correct?
GEN. PACE: Sir, that's true. And there are many companies in various ports around the United States that are not U.S.-owned that help do this kind of cargo handling. And of course, our Coast Guard are the ones who make the judgments about the security of the ports and how that all interfaces. And that was part of the dialogue, as I understand it, that took place amongst the various departments.
SEC. RUMSFELD: And the Coast Guard, of course, has the responsibility for the ports, and they should be the ones who would describe how it would be handled and why it is acceptable, because they signed off on it.
Q Mr. Secretary, I wanted to ask you about a memo that was written by Alberto Mora, the former Navy general counsel, which details the internal debate about the interrogation techniques at Guantanamo. The memo was first reported on by The New Yorker and it's now become public. And in the memo he refers to your December 2nd, 2002 memo authorizing some procedures, which you then rescinded in January. And he says that you got, essentially, very bad legal advice in signing that memo and that the memo itself had a deeply flawed representation of what the law was.
Do you feel that you were ill-served by the advice you got when you signed that memo, considering that you then had to rescind it just a month later, or a little over a month later?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well first, that's roughly my recollection of the situation; that the -- Chairman Myers and I were -- recommended that we sign -- that I sign this. I did sign it. And it was staffed around in the department, and as always, there are people who have different views. It went out. And then, I think within four or five, six weeks, we heard that there was concern about that, in which case we stopped it immediately -- retrieved it and put it on hold, and then undertook an investigation and consulted with the people who were in the Judge Advocate offices, and had a discussion about what the concerns were, because we didn't want to be doing something that people were concerned about in the department. And I had not been aware about any debate or concern prior to that. And in which case then it was revised in some ways and sent back out.
You know, I expect to have differing views. It's my responsibility to listen to differing views and to make judgments, and I do. And when, after the fact, it turns out that there is concern about it that concerns me, then I'm happy to rescind it and take another fresh look at it and talk to more people about it and see what ought to be done.
Q Do you recall on this memo that you wrote a little notation at the bottom about standing more than four hours because you stand at your desk?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I do. I do.
Q This attorney argued that that was -- it was badly advised to allow it to go out with that notation on it because that could be interpreted by some as a wink and a nod that it would be okay to go beyond the techniques that were prescribed in the memo.
SEC. RUMSFELD: No. No, no. There's no wink and a nod about anything. It was a semi-humorous remark that a person in his 70s stands all day long, and there was one provision in there that they would have people stand for several hours, and I just mused that.
And maybe it shouldn't have gone out, but it did, and I wrote it, and life goes on.
Q Part of it was that you should have gotten much better advice from your legal staff --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I heard your question the first time. I get differing views all the time, and it's not their fault for having differing views. It's -- if there's something that's done that is not the best as it might have been done, then it's my fault for having agreed to it, not the advice I get.
GEN. PACE: If I could add -- as I recall, when the advice from the Navy was made, the secretary became aware of it. It was a Friday or a Saturday, and the Navy was having a meeting, and the secretary, if I remember correctly, walked down to sit down and talk to those folks about what their concerns were. So to my recollection, as soon as we became aware of concerns about the memo, that it went all-stop, and the secretary went about gathering up more data.
Q Mr. Secretary, were you mistaken or misinformed Friday when you said that you ordered the stop to the process by the U.S. military to pay for positive stories --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Mistaken.
Q Can you give us an update on --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Apparently, it is -- was not stopped. It was put under review, and I don't have knowledge as to whether or not it's been stopped. I do have knowledge that it was put under review, and I was correctly informed, and I just misstated the facts.
Q So where do we stand on that investigation, then?
SEC. RUMSFELD: It's under review.
Q Is there a --
SEC. RUMSFELD: General Casey is reviewing it.
Q And is it expected soon or --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't know. You can ask Dorrance or Eric or somebody and they can find out when he thinks they'll know.
Do you know?
GEN. PACE: I do not, sir.
Q Mr. Secretary, I want to go back to the UAE port security issue. There's an undercurrent in all the stories in a lot of the political pronouncements that we can't trust an Arab country, especially one that had harbored --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I think that would be an unfortunate implication.
Q Two of the 9/11 hijackers were from the United Arab Emirates, and it's an undercurrent.
Can you address --
SEC. RUMSFELD: We've held people from the United States we've picked up in Afghanistan.
Q Oh, okay.
SEC. RUMSFELD: So I think it -- one ought not, in my view, to hold a country of origin responsible for every citizen they may have at any given time, particularly when people have multiple passports.
GEN. PACE: I understand that today there's like -- something like three U.S. citizens who today are going to be charged with being willing to try to kill U.S. citizens. So as I stated up front, the United Arab Emirates has been a very, very solid partner in our workings in the Gulf.
Q Do either of you have concerns that this debate may weaken our alliance, our relationship with the UAE if it turns out that, you know, they get pounded over this subject?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Most countries after a while understand the advantages and disadvantages of dealing with the United States. We have debates all the time, and we have public discussions and things are said and charges are hurled and allegations are made. And when the dust all settles, generally the truth comes out, and I would certainly think not, but -- and hope not -- but time will tell.
Q Mr. Secretary, the U.S. prosecutor in San Diego over the weekend released more information on former Congressman Cunningham's deals to take bribes in exchange for, you know, funding millions of dollars in defense contracts to his favorite people, including one for IED defenses. On top of the Boeing tanker thing, do you have any concern or should taxpayers have any concern about the integrity of our procurement process?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I have not seen the latest things you're referring to. Obviously, any time there's wrongdoing that is either alleged or confessed or concluded and judged, it is a matter of concern. I don't know the details in this instance of whether that was an earmark -- the ones you're talking about or not, but --
Q They were earmarks from his -- he was -- from his role as -- on House Appropriations Committee.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, without addressing that which is a matter, as I understand it, that's in the courts, and it's not for me to be injecting myself into it. Obviously, when there's an earmark by the Congress, the department -- any department of government ends up obeying the law, and it becomes part of the law.
Q So is it Congress's problem to deal with or --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't know what you're talking -- I can't -- because I don't know what you're talking about, I'm not about to start hurling blame anywhere. I know that's old-fashioned. It would be a lot more fun if you could do it willy-nilly without being held accountable for it, but that's not the case here.
Q I have a question for each of you. General Pace, on the Iraqi highway patrol, this is the organization that is believed to be sort of at the center of the -- (inaudible) -- militias and violence going on. What's the U.S. involvement in the Iraqi highway patrol? Are we funding them? Are we training them? Do we have any influence? And do we have any responsibility for what's been going on?
And Mr. Secretary, last Friday you gave --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Let's do one at a time.
Q Okay, but can I have my second one? (Light laughter.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: We'll vote on it. (Laughter.)
GEN. PACE: The Iraqi government has made it perfectly clear that they expect their armed forces and their police to uphold Iraqi law and to act in a reasonable, responsible way, and we are training their military and their police to those standards. I do --
Q (Off mike ) --
SEC. RUMSFELD: We have not been training the police until very recently.
GEN. PACE: We have not been -- but like, the first of October, we picked up the responsibility, and we'll continue on with that. I need to find out the exact unit you're talking about to see if we've had any contact with them at all. I'm not aware of it.
Q Okay. And --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Why don't we come back to you.
Q You'll like this one. (Laughter.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Inaudible) -- isn't it. All right.
Q All right. (Laughter.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm easy!
And then Barbara.
Q Last week you gave a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations talking about media and public perception and what the U.S. has to do in the war on terror. A few years ago, you were brushed back on this Office of Strategic Information, which it seemed to me to be similar to what you were talking about on Friday.
Are you contemplating any new structures or any new campaign plans? What is the way that you expect to do this? You had lots of problems put out there, but not too many solutions.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah. Well, if I had known the answers, I would have proposed them. I just don't. I'm in a question-asking mode. I'm in a thinking mode. We're talking about these things internally. We've got a -- one of the Quadrennial Defense Review roadmaps on this subject, which is going to proceed during the calendar year 2006 to think it through. And we're talking to people inside and outside of the Department of Defense and inside and outside of the government.
It is not easy, and I wish I knew all the answers to it, but I just don't.
Q General Pace, I wanted to ask you about the state of the insurgency in Iraq and your current military assessment. Do you believe you have fundamentally yet reduced their capacity to wage attacks against both U.S. troops and Iraqis? What do you see in the attacks trend right now in terms of IEDs or other attacks? And do you still think you see involvement of -- potentially of Iran, especially in the south, in shipping weapons across the border? What's your overall assessment?
GEN. PACE: If you take a look at year to year attacks, January of '06 versus January of '05, February of '06 versus February of '05, the trend is down. If you look at the last couple of months, the month of January (sic) [February has been] a little bit higher than was December (sic) [January] and November.
There could be multiple reasons for that. Certainly the fact that the insurgents tried to stop the elections in January of '05 and failed, they tried to stop the writing of a constitution and failed, they tried to stop the elections in December and failed, they are now trying to stop the peaceful organization and stand-up of the government that's been elected through peaceful elections. So all of those things add into the attacks that they've been conducting, because they know that every single one of those steps that the Iraqi people have taken for themselves makes it more and more likely that the Iraqi people have the kind of freedom and government that they would like to have in the future.
Difficult to know specifically how many insurgents still remain. What is knowable is that the more and more Iraqis who believe that their government will provide a future for them that will be beneficial for them and their families, the fewer and fewer will feel a need to accept payment, so to speak, for attacking.
Q But in the past you have -- the military and the senior leadership -- you have talked in rough orders of magnitude about numbers of insurgents, both foreign fighters and Iraqi insurgents, if you will. Do you feel at this point now in this war those have altered, degraded, reduced their ability to conduct attacks? Are there less insurgents than there were before? What is their capacity to launch attacks?
GEN. PACE: I have never used a number. We have certainly degraded their leadership team. But it will be up to the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people to seize the opportunity they have right now and to allow their people to have jobs and a future that would tell their people that the insurgency offers nothing and that the new government is the way ahead.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Let me go back to your question about sectarian violence. I may not have answered the last half of it as fully as I would like. Needless to say, any time there's violence, sectarian or otherwise, it's something that one has to be concerned about and oppose and attempt to do something about.
There has been sectarian violence in that part of the world for decades. And I think the important thing to do is for us to be concerned about it and for General Casey and his folks to work on it, and for the political process to go forward in a way that it would mute it and minimize it.
I think we also have to recognize that there's criminal elements at work here, and it's not trivial. It's fairly significant. And I would add that it ought to be put in context. Think back. There -- I don't know whether the number's for sure 100,000 or 200,000 or 300,000 dead Iraqi people, men, women and children, filling mass graves in that country.
And so it's -- to isolate out violence today and say, "Oh, my goodness, there's violence today; isn't that different" -- which you did not do, of course, but I'm stating it myself -- would be out of context, because in fact there's been incredible violence in that country for year after year after year. And that does not minimize what's taking place today, but at least it puts it in a broader context and -- one would think.
Q Do you consider what Iran said about its security and the presence of British soldiers on its frontiers in southern Iraq -- would you consider this as a threat? And do you think --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Do I consider what as a threat? Iran's statement or the presence of British troops in Basra?
Q (Off mike) -- Iran said that the presence of British troops in Basra is a threat to its security. So do you consider them as threatening the coalition forces and interfering in what's going on in southern Iraq?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I do not consider the British forces in the Basra area as a threat to anybody except people inside of Iraq who are doing things they shouldn't do -- terrorists, outsiders making mischief, criminals, whatever -- but certainly not to Iran.
Q But do you think that Iran will interfere more in southern Iraq?
SEC. RUMSFELD: It's not clear to me how they could interfere more. (Laughter.) They've been very busy for several years now.
Q Can you expand on that a little bit?
SEC. RUMSFELD: No. (Laughter.)
I could. Excuse me, yes, I could, but I shan't.
Q Turning to Asia, there's a report this weekend that the department is considering whether or not to allow the sale of F-22s to Japan. So I'm wondering, could you comment on that issue and could you talk a little bit about what --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I can't. It's not gotten to me, it just hasn't.
Q Can you talk a little bit about how you balance the need to protect sensitive military technology against the need to bolster capabilities of allies like Japan?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Very skillfully, I hope, and I pray. No, I mean, it's a process that the entire government's involved in: the Department of State, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Treasury, the White House, the Department of Defense. And they look at all of the advantages and disadvantages, and they make calculations, and ultimately they decide to do something or not to do something. In this instance, why I'm just simply not up to speed, so I can't -- I can't respond.
Q Mr. Secretary, I wanted to see if I could get the benefit of your many years in Washington on the earmarks issue. It may be something you've commented on before, I don't know. But there are some members of Congress who feel that earmarks are a very legitimate way to do business. Others say that they're a source of corruption. I presume that running an executive department; you'd rather not have them, for the most part.
What is your attitude about them? Are earmarks legitimate?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Of course we spend a year with all the senior people and everyone throughout the department and every service, military and civilian, fashioning a budget. Then we work our way through OMB and the White House, and then it goes up to Congress in February. And our hope is that it will be received nods -- head nods and smiles and say, "Wonderful job, Department. You have produced a perfect document." And they would then put "approved" on it. It has never happened. Never, ever has it happened.
Indeed, the -- you know, the bill lengths have grown and grown and grown. They were in the -- less than a hundred pages when I was here last time 30 years ago. Now they're in the 700-, 800-, 900-page range, depending on which one you're looking at. And a lot of it is very specific requirements that you shall do -- turn left here and turn right there, and do this this day, and do that that day.
Under the Constitution, that's Article I of the Constitution -- the legislative branch. And the president proposes and the Congress disposes.
And we do our best to get them to dispose as close as possible to what the president proposed. And they have every right to do what they do, and it's really a matter for the legislative branch to sort through. And I just hope I live long enough to see them simply stamp on it, "Good job. Approved."
Q How old are you? (Laughter.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Pardon me? It's not going to happen, right?
Q General Pace, a new Turkish movie portrays U.S. soldiers in Iraq as heartless killers. Do the Joint Chiefs plan on sending any kind of protest to the filmmaker or voicing their opinion on this?
GEN. PACE: No. There are filmmakers in many countries that have portrayed all kinds of fictitious things. It's a fictitious movie. It clearly does not have any basis in fact. And there's no reason for us to comment on fiction.
Q As a quick follow-up, how is this different than, say, the Washington Post cartoon, which the Joint Chiefs found very offensive?
GEN. PACE: We did find the cartoon in The Washington Post offensive because it used as a means of getting across a message -- and what message was being portrayed was up to the cartoonist -- but the fact that they used a service member of the armed forces of the United States who, in that portrayal, had lost both arms and both legs was crude, crass, unnecessary to get the cartoonist's message across, and, I thought, was very disrespectful to the service of the men and women.
If you go out to Bethesda Hospital today, you go out to Walter Reed Hospital today, you visit with those young men and women, you can come -- you'll come away understanding why we felt that that cartoon was inappropriate.
Q Understood, but just as a quick follow-up --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Wait a second. You already had a follow-up.
SEC. RUMSFELD: And second, the other distinction is that Turkey's a foreign country. The Washington Post cartoonist is not, the last time I looked. And a foreign country is a diplomatic issue that's handled by the Department of State, anyway. And what they may or may not do, I don't know, but it's not something that normally would be handled the way you're characterizing it.
Thank you very much.
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