'Connecting the Dots' Before the Next Tragedy
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2002 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that while people are concerned about "connecting the dots" on what happened Sept. 11, 2001, he is more interested in connecting the dots before the next attack.
At a Pentagon press conference Sept. 16, Rumsfeld said he is "attempting to connect the dots before a tragedy happens, not after." He said that's not simple.
"There isn't a single smoking gun that everyone nods and says 'Aha! That's it!'" he said. "If we wait for a smoking gun in this instance, it obviously would be after the fact. You'd find it after lethal weapons were used against the United States, our friends and allies."
That's too late when you are dealing with weapons of mass destruction, he said. Rumsfeld is scheduled to testify before the House of Representatives Sept. 18 and the Senate Sept. 19.
He told reporters that President Bush has not made a decision about Iraq. The president is making the case with Congress and the United Nations that Iraq has thumbed its nose at the world. Bush said that the United Nations must take action against Saddam Hussein before he increases his capabilities in chemical and biological weapons and develops nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.
Rumsfeld said he is pleased that the Saudis have indicated support for U.N. actions against Iraq. He said decisions like this, and many others by other countries, put pressure on Hussein to comply with any U.N. Security Council resolution.
One doomsday scenario posits Hussein, realizing he will lose power, firing weapons of mass destruction on his own or giving the weapons to terror groups to use against the United States and its allies. The secretary said people in the Pentagon are studying these scenarios and many others. He said anyone involved with using weapons of mass destruction would be dealt with severely and Iraq is well aware of that U.S. stand.
Rumsfeld maintained his policy of not speaking about troop movements. "We don't talk about deployments," he said. "They happen. Whatever is decided, this department will be capable of doing that which it might be asked."
He did indicate that he is considering moving U.S. Central Command to the area of responsibility. "(Army Gen.) Tom Franks (CENTCOM commander) has been after me to do that since I got to the department," Rumsfeld said. "European Command is in Europe, the Pacific Command is in the Pacific and the Central Command is in Tampa? Why is that? It's just history."
He said there would be clear benefits to having the combatant command in the area. He said Franks is looking at different alternatives to doing things. "He clearly is developing some capability in that area of the world," Rumsfeld said.
Finally, he said, "there is no pause, there is no lull, there is no quagmire" in the war on global terrorism. He said 90 nations are involved with operations around the world. "Intelligence is being scarfed up all across the globe," he said.
Efforts have made it far more difficult for terrorists to operate. "There are people that are trying to do things against this country and other free people, and they are having a dickens of a time," Rumsfeld said. This does not mean terrorists won't succeed, he noted, but by making life more difficult for them, there will be fewer attacks less often.