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Rumsfeld on Terrorists: Drain the Swamp They Live In

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2001 – The best defense against terrorism is to go on the offensive, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters in the Pentagon today.

"We simply cannot batten down the hatches and try to cope with every conceivable thing that the terrorists can imagine to do," he said. "They've already done some unimaginable things."

The secretary warned of a long process to fight terrorist threats against the United States. "This will take a long, sustained effort," he said. "It will require the support of the American people as well as our friends and allies around the world."

But, he said, he's sure the American people are up to the challenge, "and certainly the men and women in uniform are up to it."

The biggest challenge will be deciding how to deal with countries that allow terrorists to prosper within their borders.

"Terrorists do not function in a vacuum. They don't live in Antarctica. They work, they train and they plan in countries," Rumsfeld said. "And they're benefiting from the support of governments ... that are either actively supporting them with money, intelligence and weapons or allowing them to function on their territory and tolerating -- if not encouraging -- their activities."

The best way to get at the terrorist networks is to "drain the swamp they live in," Rumsfeld said, referring to action against countries that harbor terrorist activities.

Convincing these countries to change their ways won't be like any war America has ever fought. "In the past, we were used to dealing with armies, navies, air forces, and ships and guns and tanks," Rumsfeld said. "This adversary is different. It does not have any of those things or any high-value targets we can go after. But those countries that support them and give sanctuary do have such targets."

The important thing, Rumsfeld said, is to not give in to what the terrorists want. "The people who committed these acts are clearly determined to try to force the United States of America and our values to withdraw from the world or to respond by curtailing our freedoms," he said. "If we do that the terrorists will have won."

Basically, Americans have a choice, Rumsfeld explained. They can change the way they live, which the secretary called unacceptable, or America can change the way the terrorists live.

"We have chosen the latter. We intend to put them on the defensive," Rumsfeld said. "This requires a distinctly different approach from any war that we have fought before."

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Related Sites:
DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld, Sept. 18, 2001


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