Rumsfeld Says U.S. Will Find Iraqi WMD Materials
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 13, 2003 Saddam Hussein's scientific adviser surrendered to U.S. forces Saturday, proclaiming that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction.
"Do you believe it?" NBC's "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on today's edition.
"No, goodness no," the secretary responded.
Rumsfeld said he is convinced the Iraqi regime has squirreled its weapons of mass destruction around the country. He said the United States has evidence of Iraq's chemical and biological activities as well as the restart of its nuclear program.
"Iraqis have learned to live in an inspection environment -- they hid things, they've done it well, they have things underground and well dispersed," Rumsfeld observed.
He said the coalition will need help from Iraqis if it is to find all of Iraq's hidden secrets. "We won't find anything until we find people who tell us where the things are," he said.
Rumsfeld noted that finding Iraqi scientists with knowledge of Saddam's weapons program is important to the coalition.
But, he said, the coalition is first concentrating on winning the war. He noted that finding these weapons is "clearly on our priority list of things to be done, but it's not something you spend much time doing when you're in a war and you're trying to stop the violence and stop the killing."
On reports of looting in Baghdad and other cities, the secretary said as coalition forces make their presence known in Iraq, the local people will come forward and start "assisting, cooperating and restoring order."
"It is the presence of coalition forces that give people enough confidence that there is going to be order to allow the local people to come and say, 'Let's get our arms around this and get it going,'" he said.
"Every hour that goes by, it's getting better, and more peaceful and more orderly in that country."
Rumsfeld responded to accusations that coalition forces allowed the looting in the Baghdad Museum of Antiquities, where thousands of historic pieces dating back to early civilization are reported missing or damaged.
"We didn't allow it -- it happened," Rumsfeld said. "And that's what happens when you go from a dictatorship with repressed order to something that is going to be different. There is a transition period, and no one is in control.
"Disorder happens whenever there is a transition ... We've seen it in our own country, and it always breaks your heart. It isn't something that someone allows or doesn't allow. We know there are people who do bad things," he said.
Rumsfeld said he has no idea if Saddam Hussein is alive or dead. "There are people around who say he's dead, there are people around who say he's injured, and there are people who say they don't know. I'm one of the latter," he said. "I don't have enough tested sources to say he's dead."
Rumsfeld said the former Iraq leader would eventually turn up somewhere. "He's either dead or he's going to be caught. We'll find him, the world will find him," he pointed out. "He's not a person that has a lot of friends in the Arab world or anywhere else."
The secretary began his day with good news that seven soldiers listed by the Pentagon as prisoners of war were recovered today near Tikrit.
"Basically they're in good shape, we're delighted and, of course, we're still anxious and concerned about those that are still missing," Rumsfeld said.