Seal of the Department of Defense U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
On the Web:
Media contact: +1 (703) 697-5131/697-5132
Public contact:
or +1 (703) 571-3343

Message to the Iraqi People
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Iraq, Friday, September 05, 2003

Hello, I’m Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. Secretary of Defense. 


·     It is a pleasure to be back in your country.  When I visited four months ago, the regime of Saddam Hussein had just fallen—and I was pleased to be able to celebrate your liberation with you.


·     The changes that have taken place since then are extraordinary:

  •   Baghdad is bustling with commerce. 
  •   Universities and hospitals are open for business. 
  •   A free press is flourishing.
  •   Iraqi banks have begun accepting applications for small business loans—so Iraqi entrepreneurs can create jobs.
  •  Across the country, in every city and most towns, municipal councils are making decisions about local matters.
  •   And here in Baghdad, the Iraqi Governing Council is striving to improve conditions for you.  Just this week, they appointed 25 ministers with real responsibility.  And the Council is paving the way for a new Iraqi constitution, written by Iraqis, and free elections where you will choose your own leaders.


·     These are remarkable changes.  Yet, despite the progress, I know that life remains difficult for many.  But visiting your country, I can see the determination of so many brave Iraqis, who are stepping forward to create a new nation where there is freedom and opportunity for all your people. 


·     The Coalition is committed to helping you succeed.


·     Our hearts go out to the families of those innocent Iraqis killed in recent bombings in Baghdad and Najaf.  These attacks were vicious, to be sure.  But they are a sign, not of strength, but of the weakness and desperation of the terrorists or criminals involved.


·     Regime remnants see you—the Iraqi people—putting the era of Saddam Hussein behind you.  They see you policing your streets, publishing newspapers, worshipping freely, governing your towns and cities.  With each step forward that you take, they see any remote chance of returning to power slip further and further away.  And they are right.


·     The Coalition will not be dissuaded from its mission in Iraq—not by sabotage; not by snipers; and not by terrorists with car bombs.  The Hussein regime is finished.  They will not be returning.  


·     The Coalition has captured or killed 42 of the 55 most senior leaders—including Uday and Qusay Hussein, and Ali Hasan al-Majid—the infamous “Chemical Ali”—and Taha Yassin Ramadan--the former Vice President.   It is only a matter of time before the rest are dealt with.


·     We found Uday and Qusay, Yassin and Chemical Ali because Iraqis like you came forward with information.  To find the rest, we need your help.  Those who lead Coalition forces to Ba’athist fugitives or terrorists will receive substantial rewards—and protection. 


·     Terrorist threats will not dissuade the Coalition from helping the Iraqi people rebuild.  Today, over 50 countries have pledged almost $4 billion for reconstruction in Iraq, and $1.7 billion the Ba’athists stole from you has been recovered—money that is now being used to your benefit.


·     Those who sabotage the efforts to restore power and water and other services are not attacking the Coalition—they are attacking you, the Iraqi people.  With your cooperation, we are dealing with them.  It will take time, and patience. 


·     During our stay, we plan to visit one of the mass graves where the regime piled the bodies of its victims, and a prison where the regime tortured innocent Iraqis—to remind the world of the horrors that the Iraqi people endured just a few months ago.


·     You will face continued challenges in the months ahead—but a return to tyranny will not be one of them.  You will have the chance to live in freedom, and the opportunity to build a better life for your families.  No one—I repeat, no one—will be allowed to take that chance away from you.


·     I am proud to be here—in this, your land—to tell you that the American people respect you, admire your courage, and stand with you as you take on the difficult task of building a free Iraq.  We look forward to a future of friendship and cooperation between our peoples.


·     Thank you for listening.