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Rumsfeld: U.S. Is Taking the Battle to the Terrorists

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2003 – It takes money to take the fight against global terrorism directly to the terrorists, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here Sept. 25.

Reporter Peter Barnes of Hearst-Argyle Television asked Rumsfeld during a Pentagon interview why the American public should support the president's $87 billion supplemental budget proposal that's earmarked for military and reconstruction needs in postwar Afghanistan and Iraq.

Rumsfeld noted the request is a considerable sum that's nonetheless needed to fund the fight against global terrorism in such far-flung locales.

Rather than to remain on the defensive "and hope nothing happens," Rumsfeld told Barnes, U.S. strategy since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has keyed on taking "the battle to the terrorists -- wherever they are."

Besides the successful military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, Rumsfeld noted, "we're doing different things in other countries to put pressure" on terrorists and their enablers.

The American people, the defense secretary declared, need to know things are looking up in Iraq, as Iraqis are taking over more and more security duties in their country "at a pace that's appropriate (and) as rapidly as possible."

"That may not seem that way when they pick up the newspaper every day," Rumsfeld emphasized, "but good progress is being made."

In another interview that day with TV reporter Jon Leiberman from Sinclair Broadcasting, the defense secretary noted that Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III, the senior U.S. official in Iraq, has things well in hand.

As part of Bremer's seven-point plan to assist Iraq along the path to self- government and economic health, Rumsfeld pointed to the establishment of the Iraqi Governing Council, the appointment of cabinet ministers, and a the establishment of a constitutional committee.

The next step, Rumsfeld explained to Lieberman, "would be to actually write the constitution," emphasizing that the Iraqi people (will) write it. After a constitution is written and ratified by the Iraqis, he continued, the next step is to hold national elections under the new constitution.

The final step, he noted, would be "to transfer over sovereignty" to the Iraqi people.

"We're about three or four steps along a seven-step process (in Iraq), and it's going well," Rumsfeld declared.

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