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Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with the New York Times

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
May 24, 2001

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

(Interview with Jim Dao, Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt of the New York Times)

Q: ...come back a second time. A guy who's had such a successful business career, has done this once already, enjoying life clearly, and taking on about as tough a job as you can have in Washington.

Talk a little bit about why come back?

Rumsfeld: It's a fair question. I guess I was asked, certainly, and it was not an easy decision. It was a surprise, also.

I had been down here working on the Ballistic Missile Threat Commission in '97, '98, and then on the Space Commission in '99 to 2000. So I was involved and engaged in the issues.

During the course of the campaign they asked me for advice on defense issues and intelligence matters, which I provided. But it was really quite a surprise to be asked to do this.

It's important. It's doing something that's useful. That appeals to me. I've kind of had a definition of happiness over my lifetime of doing something that's worthwhile and important to do with people who know more than you do and who you can learn from. That's (inaudible) which makes getting up and tackling the everyday worthwhile.

It's a particularly interesting time. I liked the President and what he was trying to do and what he was thinking about doing and what he said he wanted to do, and I thought he was pulling together a good group of people that would be interesting.

Q: Did you give it thought, and obviously you've been involved through the panels and commissions, but had you given thought in recent years to things you thought hadn't been fulfilled at the Department of Defense, or that needed to be done, or shortcomings that would make you think well, it would be great to come back.

Rumsfeld: That's true, it was clear to me that there were things that I felt needed to be done. They were particularly things that the president had emphasized during the campaign. The importance of a relationship on the part of the men and women in the armed services and the department and their superiors and their country is critical to being able to attract and retain the kinds of people that are necessary to make this a great institution. And that had been buffeted. It had been difficult times for a lot of reasons -- the end of the Cold War, the drawdown, a number of bumps in the road in the Department of Defense. So you can't help but have an enormous respect for people who volunteer their lives and to enter the armed services, public service. So that is something that's very much worth doing, to try give them, to see that there is a value to, and financial maybe. A value to the important work that they do.

The work I did on the Ballistic Missile Defense Commission gave me concerns about the intelligence community and the difficulty of the task that they face.

Going from a world where we could focus on one country essentially, the Soviet Union, and (inaudible) important (inaudible), to a world where you have a large number of countries and interests, that essentially closed society, that did not necessarily move (inaudible) a conventional way. And to do it at a time when the world relaxed after the Cold War. Proliferation increased dramatically. There was a change in trade patterns, the availability to do dual-use technology. The speed of change with respect to information technology. Makes the intelligence task (inaudible). So that was of interest to me. And of course dealing with the intelligence assets of the United States (inaudible) and the relationship (inaudible). That's another thing that seemed to me to be important.

Q: You've now undertaken this sweeping review. And you yourself have said, I think President Bush has said it also, this is perhaps the greatest military man has ever seen.

Rumsfeld: Absolutely and relatively in some respects.

Q: Right. Given that, why come in saying we need change, we need to transform this thing when it is so far ahead of our competitors? Talk a little bit about what made you want to do this huge review.

Rumsfeld: The review is not really huge. It's been mischaracterized as top to bottom, or comprehensive, and so forth.

Really what it is, it's more of a technique on my part...

When you come from business to this department and you're not as current as you would want to be in every aspect of what's going on here, and (inaudible), what you need to do is find out what you think is important from people. So we've talked to a number of people who are interested in these things in the building, (inaudible), experts outside. The president had already focused on a few things in the campaign that needed attention.

And since I didn't have a fully developed plan, it didn't exist, as to what should be done about these things, I thought what would be appropriate would be... If you think of the full cycle, it starts with a, take the morale issue for example.

You know there's a problem, you hear it from a lot of people, but you need to put some structure into what that means. So I asked Dave Jeremiah, Admiral Jeremiah, to put together a small group and do a quick look at -- which he did. (inaudible) of the issue.

I have been here without anyone except Paul Wolfowitz for the past [few] days in terms of new Bush nominees, presidential appointees.

So you take that one example. That information then gets briefed to the president. It has been briefed and discussed with the Chiefs and with the CINCs and the services. It will then become part of the quadrennial review process. To the extent that the things he seems to have found in a very short period of time, offer a road map as to what needs to be discussed during the QDR process. It then would come out the other end and become a part of the 2003 budget which would have to be built in the fall and then goes up to the Hill in January.

To the extent there are things in there that the president has already suggested that require or merit more immediate attention, he's made announcements that there may be some changes suggested in the '01 supplemental which should go up later this month, and/or in the '02 budget amendment which would follow shortly thereafter.

Q: These would be benefits, pay...

Rumsfeld: Well, they would be. They would be pay and housing, which he's already announced some things of that nature, although the morale issue is a bigger one than just pay and benefits. We also have a very serious issue with respect to health care. But that (inaudible) together and confirm that...

Q: In terms of paying for it.

Rumsfeld: Well, but how it ought to be arranged and managed and what kinds of relationships we might be able to fashion with the VA, and how one avoids this pattern of underfunding. Where you budgeted for X and it turns out at the end of the year being 2X.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you've got a reputation, certainly in the private sector, coming in and helping companies get better.

Rumsfeld: Uh huh.

Q: Did you view the Pentagon as essentially a sick company as has been...

Rumsfeld: No.

Q: ...characterized by...

Rumsfeld: No.

Q: Republicans criticized the Clinton Administration for not fully funding a lot of the acquisition...

Rumsfeld: Well...

Q: You seem to be suggesting there were certain analogies of how you approach this as a former CEO and how you might come in and look at a company that's...

Rumsfeld: First of all, the Department of Defense is clearly not a company. There are similarities and there are many, many more dissimilarities between a government agency and a company. But in each case it's a challenge. In each case you kind of have to take an inventory and see what you think. Then you have to get engaged in the actual process [taking place], whether it's the quadrennial review or it's the budget cycle, it's the fashioning of strategy. So many things (inaudible). They all take time, they all take extensive observation.

If it were easy, those things would have been done. Someone told me, I don't know if it's true, but someone told me there was like 128 acquisition reform reports and studies that had been made over a decade. We had a group take a quick look at them. We didn't do a study ourselves, but we had a small group look at the acquisition system which of course takes much longer to produce a weapons (inaudible) today, at a time when the technologies are turning over much faster. And of course time, we all know, is money. So the expense has gone up dramatically.

What we're going to do is, Pete Aldridge was selected partly because he is so knowledgeable about this. Fortunately, he's now in the building for the first time in the last few days and working. He will take the study we had on acquisition reform, which is really a study of studies -- the 128, if that's a correct number, and I hesitate to use it because I'm not sure that's right. Do you know?

Voice: I don't know.

Rumsfeld: Have you heard that number?

Voice: Sir, I think you're in the ballpark. I won't swear to exactly 128, but it is over 100.

Rumsfeld: Everybody talks about it and nobody does anything. It's like the weather (inaudible). But we simply have to do something about it. That will be part of the QDR process as well.

And of course we may very well end up working with Congress to try to find ways to alter that system so (inaudible).

Q: What's surprised you most coming back? (inaudible)...

Rumsfeld: It's smaller in size in terms of numbers of men and women in the armed services, [that's changed].

We are without a so-called peer competitor in the world which raises a number of questions about how you arrange yourself. We're not without threats or worries or concerns or risks in the world. We know it's still a dangerous and untidy world, the weapons are more powerful. The weapons of mass destruction are more widely disbursed. And they're in the hands of people who are different than the people who had them 25 years ago. So that's a big change.

Your margin for error is somewhat smaller, given that, that those weapons are more widely dispersed and in the hands of more people and in the hands of different types of people.

So you are faced, as has been said, with situations where you may have little or no warning of difficulties that can be quite serious.

Another thing that's quite different is deterrence. There's no question but that the so-called mutual vulnerability or mutual assured destruction had a stabilizing influence, and still does presumably. Although we do not look at Russia as an enemy and we don't see it as engaged in expansionism that it did when it was the Soviet Union. But we also know that the deterrent effect of mutual assured destruction did not deter (inaudible) or any number of other concepts across the globe.

Therefore, one has to ask the question, in the 21st Century, given the changed nature of the world, and the evolving threat that exists, what are the deterrents that would be most helpful? What are the things that will help this country be best able to contribute to peace and stability in the world?

If you think about how fortunately, wonderfully fortunate we are, we have a thriving economy and increasing numbers of democracies in the world, and increasing world trade which has a stabilizing influence, in my view. But that, the thing that permits that is relative security and stability in the world. It permits it in our country. We know when we walk out the door we don't have to look down the street to see if somebody's going to throw a hand grenade at us. We can go about our business. The same thing in the world generally, for the most part it's been relatively (inaudible) trading partners, good relationships. And relatively peaceful.

We benefit enormously from that. And we would like to find ways to contribute to a more peaceful world going forward through the century. The question is how do you do that?

Your opening question was if things are not bad, why do you need to change anything? And of course that's exactly when institutions suffer. If they think things are good and they relax and don't recognize the changes taking place in the world, they tend to fail. And the landscape is littered with institutions that have [cratered] shortly after... If they look back five or ten years, they look back and say we were on top of the world, and all of a sudden they don't exist. I mean think of the major, major, major blue chip corporations that are gone today.

I don't want to draw an analogy with corporations, and government can't go, it's going to exist, but the question is will we be wise enough during this period where we have the opportunity, and one could also say the need because of the enormous changes that are taking place in this world. But we also have the opportunity to make the kinds of changes that will assure that we're better arranged for the future than we will be if we simply hang on.

Now what can you actually do? The answer is relatively little, if you think about it. Everything changes but nothing changes. I was at the F-16 rollout when I was here 25 years ago. They're still flying. I was the one who approved the M1 tank. We still have them. And the B-1 bomber, and we still have them. Lots of things. Cruise missiles I was involved in. And they're still there.

My point being, what you can do is really reach ahead and effect the forward 1/30th of what's going to be there. The legacy systems are here, they will be here, they will go forward, and the question is, how do you want, to the extent you're able, to alter your capabilities, how do you want to do that, and what are the kinds of challenges and capabilities you're going to need to see that you have the most effective deterrent and to see that you have the ability to defend and prevail, if necessary. And simultaneously, given the fact that we're not on this earth alone, what are the kinds of things you ought to have and be capable of doing that are reassuring to your allies. So that the United States is seen as a country that it is good to be with, to be connected to, and that our alliances are healthy as well.

Q: And is the answer in your couple of (inaudible) that you did? Missile defense? Or does it go beyond that?

Rumsfeld: There's no one thing. No. There's no one thing. If you look at the threats that we have to deal with, they tend to... It is unlikely after the Gulf War that we will... First of all, I should say it's unlikely that any of us know what is likely. If one goes back and looks at the changes that have taken place in what we think.

At one moment Iran is the regional power and closely related to the United States; and a year later it is a difficult problem for its neighbors and for us.

Great Britain looked at France as an enemy, and shortly thereafter they're connected with France and dealing with Germany who was not considered an enemy.

So things change. In ten years you could be surprised.

If you look out ahead, it seems to me, we have to say that we are less likely to be challenged with our armies, navies and air forces in traditional ways. (inaudible) Gulf War. Were they weak? Weakness is provocative. And were they weak, they conceivably would entice someone into thinking they could successfully contest Western armies, navies and air forces. But since they are not weak and should not be weak and were not weak in the Gulf War, that threat is a less likely one than some other types of threats.

So if one looks at the question what is likely, well, you have this asymmetrical threat. Terrorism is a threat. Cruise missiles are a threat. Ballistic missiles are a threat. Weapons of mass destruction are a threat. Information warfare is a threat. The availability of weapons of mass destruction and the variety of delivery mechanisms are a threat that need to be addressed.

Q: Some of these things some people would say are clearly, would be difficult matters for the military to address. For instance, terrorism. What is the role of the American military in deterring terrorism, given the restrictions of laws, posse comitatus, that sort of thing.

Rumsfeld: We have a supporting role in the United States because of that. On the other hand, we have friends and allies and deployed forces around the world where we have to be attentive to those things. Force protection is clearly something that the United States defense establishment has to be aware of and (inaudible).

Q: On the reviews, there's been a lot of focus in the media certainly and on the Hill on the [Andy Marshallism]. We're curious, why Andy Marshall? Why select him?

Rumsfeld: He is one of the few people in the building, in the defense establishment, who doesn't have to get up in the morning as the CINC does and worry about an immediate poll. He doesn't have any boss. Where someone's calling and saying that a difficulty has developed after 25-plus years, thinking about the future, thinking about things that are not [a need].

As I say, I think we're at a point where we have the luxury of thinking a bit about that. So it seems quite logical to me, he's the Assistant Secretary for Net Assessment, has a small staff, and he can spend a lot of time thinking about these things. I've known him over the years, I've stayed in touch with him. I've been interested in reading the things that he has written over the years. So it seems perfectly logical you have to have somebody, and there he was. We went to lunch, we talked, and he's been hard at it.

What he's been doing is trying... He has a classified document that has gone through, I don't know, six or eight iterations, and has been scrubbed by the CINCs and the chiefs and by civilians and by people in the department and out of the department -- lots of people. He has been working it and working it to try to test the ideas that he has there. It has been a...

People think of a budget as something that you're going to go out and then spend. A budget isn't really that at all. A budget never ends up the way it's drafted in any organization or family, for that matter. What it is is a process. It's a way, a mechanism to force you to think about things in a useful way, and then to test yourself against the way you have set forth for the organization. The Andy Marshall paper has been a process more than a product.

Q: Do you support or do you agree with his basic support for revolution of military affairs? And what do you take out of that concept?

Rumsfeld: Well, I think that one of the, not problems, it's a reality. One of the realities is that a lot of people have read things he's written previously and things that his students and people who have worked with him have written, and they've come to the conclusion that therefore, that's in his paper. I haven't read all those things so I can't say they are or aren't. I'm sure some are. But what he has basically is a document that fits under a national security policy for our country. It is the beginning of a national defense policy. It looks at the nature of our world. It looks at our country's circumstances in that world. It tries to characterize the changes that have taken place in the world and recognizes the reality that our existing capabilities have not changed at a pace that would equal the changes that have taken place in the world.

So he offered some thoughts about how you might think about that. One of his thoughts is that you could have a... You could look at your capabilities as a country and ask yourself how do they fit with the kinds of challenges or difficulties that you continue to see in the world, or even more important, how do they fit with the kinds of things you want to dissuade people from doing that would be disadvantageous to peace and stability?

So that isn't something that someone divines, it's something that you end up... I've probably read -- I'm going to guess -- four or five versions. It gets better and it changes, and it forces us then to think about what's there and then have meetings with people on other aspects of it. What's the role for nuclear weapons, for example? I've had (inaudible), I've had five or six meetings with the CINCs and staff and experts on the subject to try to get myself up to date, to think through what I think about how we're arranged with respect to our nuclear stockpile, and issues of safety and reliability, issues of numbers, issues of types of weapons, and we're still some distance off on that. That came out of another so-called study, which is not really a study. It's a series of, a number of meetings with people whose judgments, the people who deal with this every day and who are cleared for the issues (inaudible).

Q: One of the things, getting back to missile defense, I think this ties into what you're talking about in terms of the threats, what we need to do. Obviously you all have been pushing hard on this.

To what extent do you need to have something in place (inaudible) this administration? How important is that?

Rumsfeld: The president has said that missile defense is a priority. He recognizes the reality of proliferation. He also recognizes that those weapons need not even be fired to alter behavior. That is to say that to the extent they exist in people's hands, we don't wish you well. It begins to change the behavior of their neighbors. It begins to change the behavior of countries that might be aligned with us in a coalition. And that a policy of perpetuating the vulnerability to weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles is really not a strategy. It is a course of action which would pretty much assure that the United States would be faced with a series of decisions with respect to deployed forces, with respect to the inability to assist allies and friends. It could lead to isolationism because of the concern about the power of those weapons and the total inability to do anything with respect to those weapons. It could lead to proliferation. That is to say an absence of an ability to defend at all against any numbers of those weapons could become an incentive for countries that have restrained from developing their own missiles and their own weapons of mass destruction.

Q: It sounds like you're saying it is important to get something in place by the end of the administration? It obviously won't be perfect, but you can get something in place.

Rumsfeld: I don't like to set unnecessary deadlines. I think that...

Q: How about a goal?

Rumsfeld: I think one ought to want to deploy some capability with respect to missile defense as soon as you can do it in a way that's sensible, in a way that is cost effective, and in a way that does not decouple us as a country from our friends and allies and other forces.

Q: Can you do that by the end of the administration?

Rumsfeld: I don't know. I don't know. One of the things we have found here...

Q: Should that be the goal?

Rumsfeld: I guess my goal in life is to do the best I can, to have the country do the best it can.

Let me tell you the difficulty of setting a specific goal.

Communicating is not easy. I try to be fairly precise in what I say, but of someone says that your goal is to do X, and then the question is, does that mean to do it 100 percent? To be able to intercept 100 percent of anything that might be launched from any direction, from any place? It becomes very precise.

So what you really have to do is you have to recognize that most things evolve. They don't arise full-blown. They arrive over time. They tend to be mutually reinforcing, or layered, if you will, to use the words that they use. And technology... When you're doing research and development, a failure is not a failure. A failure is knowledge.

Don't quote me by saying a failure is not a failure.

If you're in the pharmaceutical business -- let me give you a particular knowledge -- and you invest $100 million into research and development. You know with certain knowledge that a very high percentage of the things you try to do aren't going to work. You also know if you come up with a therapy for a given disease that it will not work for every person with respect to every aspect of that disease at every age. If you can get 30 percent of something of your research budget that actually produces something, you'd be amazed. If you could get a therapy that worked 50 percent of the time -- think of the benefit to human beings.

Now it is not a perfect transfer over to missile defense or any other research and development program of the Pentagon, but I think it's wrong to allow people to develop a zero tolerance for risk. And you end up forcing yourself into a zero tolerance for risk if you expect everything to succeed the first time.

I've used the example, I really enjoyed reading a report on the (inaudible) program in Eisenhower's era, and if I'm not mistaken, there were 11 or 12 straight failures. And when it worked, the advantage to the country saved us billions and billions and billions of dollars because we had knowledge that helped us understand what was taking place in the world.

So we cannot say to ourselves something doesn't work... We would not have airplanes if the first 20 times the Wright Brothers crashed and failed we said stop it. Don't try it again. You're wasting money.

Q: What about another counter-argument which is why should we devote so much time, energy and money to ballistic missiles when it's quite likely that we'll be attacked with a suitcase bomb or cargo container ships? Are we missing the real threat? What do you do about those other threats?

Rumsfeld: Well, we're spending multiples on that. On terrorists. I don't know what the number is. I'm having trouble finding out what the government spends on terrorism. But I'm going to guess it's somewhere between $11 and $15 billion a year. And that's a lot. We're trying to deal with that. We're trying to develop capabilities to deal with cruise missiles. And we're trying to develop capabilities to deal with ballistic missiles.

The idea that because you can't do everything you shouldn't try to do anything is really not a very persuasive argument, it seems to me.

Q: Are we doing enough on terrorism?

Rumsfeld: You never know. That's a very tough call. We are doing a lot in the government of the United States with respect to terrorism, and with good reason. We know of certain knowledge that there are any number of people who train people to engage in terrorist acts, who fund them to go out around and to attack various Western countries including the United States. We've experienced it here, in New York, and other places. So it merits attention. So does ballistic missile defense, so does cruise missiles defense, information warfare. There are any number of things that we need to address.

I find that argument unpersuasive to me. First of all, it's very hard to know precisely what's most likely. It is very clear that a number of countries are spending a lot of money and a lot of time to get ballistic missiles, and a lot of countries are spending a lot of money and time to get weapons of mass destruction.

Now does that mean they're not simultaneously doing things with respect to terrorist acts? No. They're doing both.

Q: Can I take you back to the reviews for a second?

Rumsfeld: Sure.

Q: Much has been said, as you know, again from reading the press, there's been some grumping on Capitol Hill and perhaps even within the Pentagon about the close-held nature of these reviews and your thinking on it.

Why proceed that way? And does it potentially raise problems in terms of your ability to build the political support you're going to need to make big changes? If big changes are in the offing?

Rumsfeld: First of all, I don't think of them as particularly close-held. I could give you several examples. The Jeremiah one on morale, there were a lot of people involved in it. They met with and were briefed by and did briefings to dozens and dozens and dozens of people. They came in with their report. Their report has all been briefed by everybody. It will end up going into the quadrennial review, the suggestions they've offered into the budget cycle in the quadrennial review.

Everyone in the building will have a chance to chew it and chop on it and kick it around and beat it up and add to it and extract from it. Finally it will go up to the Congress. The Congress will have a chance to do that. And it is...

I'll give you another example, Jim Schlesinger and I talked about [spectrum] and the problems this institution has with respect to that. And he said he'd do some thinking about it. He did. He sent in a report, and that report now is being staffed around in the building with all the services and with everybody, and eventually it will be with the National Security Council, then to the Hill, and then at some point we'll end up with some draft directives that then would be staffed around again that would come out of the suggestions he's offered from an organizational standpoint.

Take the space one. What happened there was the Space Commission made the report. They took the report and staffed it around in the building, Mark Berkowitz here, and he worked with the services. And they ended up with some directives announced down there. Instead of announcing we were putting weapons in space (inaudible). (Laughter)

Q: You've got Trent Lott calling you up from Capitol Hill and telling you that he's in the dark. That's not a good thing to have.

Rumsfeld: That meeting had nothing to do with (inaudible). That meeting had to do with the budget.

Q: Well the budget's being shaped by these studies. I mean the budget request...

Rumsfeld: The '01 budget supplemental is the one that they're anxious about, and with good reason.

Q: But they also want the amended '02.

Rumsfeld: I'll come to that.

That meeting was about the '01 supplemental and the '02 budget amendment. And hiring. I'm quite sure the subject of... You weren't there.

Voice: I was not.

Rumsfeld: I don't think the subject [of the study] came up. In any event, the President made a decision to not have supplementals originally. That was announced before I was involved and before the rhythms of the last five years, the pattern that the last five years have seen was fully understood. That in fact the budgeting had assumed a supplemental, which turns out to be the case. And when the OMB people became aware of that they decided there would be a supplemental.

You've got to put yourself in the seat of the people on the Hill. They've been -- they care about defense. They've been worried about the Defense Department. They have a pattern of wanting to get the supplemental early so that the decisions that are made by the people around the world, the CINCs and service people, don't have to be more, everything into the last quarter of the year, but they know early what they're going to get so they can manage themselves, and of course they're hearing from those people and that's understandable.

All of a sudden the president comes in and says I don't like supplementals, I'm going to get off this wicket, we're going to have a different system in the future. So he's working on other things. That's a decision for the White House. That's a fact. And I still don't know precisely when the supplemental will be sent up, I think it will be the end of this month, towards the end of the month, or next week. I think that will relieve a lot of the pressure because then people can get busy and doing what they do in dealing with it.

The same thing on the '02 budget amendment. That's going to follow. It will not be connected directly to it. It will have to follow. And that's being worked on now internally and we're in discussions with the Office of Management and Budget on that, and they're very eager to have it and they're unhappy about the fact that they haven't got it. There's not much that the Department of Defense can do about that. We're working with OMB and the president's going to make a decision, and he's going to do it when he does it.

Q: Is it going to take a significant increase in the '02 budget to get to where you think you need to get?

Rumsfeld: It is certainly going to take an increase. Adjectives are in the eyes of the beholder, and OMB and the president will ultimately make the decision.

Q: Do you think the president, at least the president, I don't know about OMB, is convinced as well that we'll need an increase in the '02 budget beyond what we've put out so far?

Rumsfeld: That's certainly my assumption. His words and his actions, and the comments since he's been president suggest that. You know, without getting into any of our private conversations.

Q: I want to bring you back to the question of vulnerability. (inaudible). Obviously one of the things I think you and the president talked about...

Rumsfeld: Before you do, let me do one thing.

I just put down here that I have had, this is as of last week, something like 50-plus meetings with presidents, prime ministers, emirs, defense ministers, and foreign ministers in the last three-plus months. I've had something over 35 meetings with the president. I've had some 70 meetings with senior government leadership. I've had something like 170 meetings with 44 different generals and flag officers in the building. 170 meetings with various senior military officials. Press events, 130 plus. Some 70 meetings with members of the House and Senate numbering well over 100 to 150 of them.

Q: What makes them all so nervous?

Rumsfeld: It's because what we're doing here is important. It's because they don't have a budget. And first of all, they're not all nervous. There have been some that have expressed concerns. And as I say, I think it's, I know Senator Stevens is very anxious to get a budget. That's just a fact. And he's got every reason to. He's got to manage the affairs of the Senate Appropriations Committee, so I'm sympathetic to that.

I think that the normal... First of all, the transition was late. It's difficult for them on the Hill because they've got pressure to get their work done. Second, they care lot about the subject, and they ought to. They've committed good chunks of their lives dealing with it.

I think that the normal rhythm has been broken because of the late transition and the decision by the president to defer any decision on the supplemental.

I think also the press, of course, knows this building well and the people in here, so they talk to people. And people say gee, I think this. Or I think someone's going to do that. Of course it begins affecting someone's weapon system in a congressional district or a contractor or something.

Of course the fact that it's not true is not relevant. It still causes concern. It makes a person worried about that.

Change is hard. Of course we've not addressed weapon systems yet. I simply have not had time, and I haven't had the people. I'm here for the most part alone for the first several months, and then Paul Wolfowitz comes in, and now we've got three or four more who have just arrived and are trying to unpack their desks and that type of thing, and there's only so much you can do in a day. And it's not surprising that there is that kind of interest and concern.

Because every once in awhile there's an article, something said something about aircraft carriers. There have been four or five articles about that where they've said that the Andy Marshall study is for them, then it says against them, then it says well now it's for them again. It's amusing, but on the other hand...

My father served on an aircraft carrier. I've landed on aircraft carriers. It's not that I'm disinterested in aircraft carriers. But when people see those things in the press then they worry about it.

Q: So which is it?

Rumsfeld: Come on. (Laughter) We're going to have aircraft carriers for a long time.

Q: Let me get back to your question about vulnerability, because one of the things you all talked about, the president and the vice president, is what you do with the ABM Treaty, how that's hindered you from exploring other options. It could enable you to develop a more robust (inaudible).

Is there... Do you see any use for a modified ABM Treaty in specific? And in general, do you believe there's any value in arms control treaties in this security environment to have real legal limits?

Rumsfeld: I'm not going to get into the specifics. The president has spoken on the subject recently, and he will be... They have initiated consultations with Russia on the subject. How it will all sort out over time, I just don't know.

I think the important thing to recognize is that many of the agreements were fashioned between the United States and the Soviet Union, between two adversaries. That was during the Cold War. And they had a role to play in adversarial situations.

The Soviet Union is gone. Twenty-five years has passed. Technologies have changed. Weapons have proliferated. Russia is not an enemy. We do not get up every morning and think there's going to be a [chink] invasion across the north German plains. Nor do we get up every morning and worry about a strategic nuclear exchange with Russia.

The question is, how do we go past the Cold War thinking? The mentality?

That's the prospect that we're in. How it will shake out remains to be seen.

Q: Will arms control treaties legally binding us have a role in that security environment as you see it? Or...

Rumsfeld: The president has talked about this. He's talked about the role for agreement. He's also talked about the role for a somewhat different construct where it's conceivable we might, for example, as he's indicated, take some steps with respect to the numbers of our nuclear weapons and bring them down without any sort of agreement or understanding with respect to (inaudible). We might do it with (inaudible) takes a form that's different than a written agreement.

It's not clear where that's going to go. It's pretty clear where the United States is going to go. He didn't ask me to undertake the series of reviews that I'm doing with respect to nuclear weapons without having some view in his mind that he thinks we may be at a point where we can reduce that number somewhat. That's what I'm in the process of doing.

Q: Mr. Secretary, do you think you can make major changes to the military, if major changes are necessary, without thoroughly revising the construct we have of fighting two major theater wars? Is it possible to make changes without also changing that?

Rumsfeld: I would think so.

Q: It could work under that...

Rumsfeld: That sizing mechanism or construct has been there for close to a decade. And it's been useful. It has been the way this department arranged itself. And the assumption was not that you would necessarily end up in one or two of those particularly described events, but that you might and that by arranging yourself to do that you ought to be able to do a number of other things also.

So the real question before the house, it seems to me, and it's not something I'm going to decide, it's something that we're going to discuss and the president will be involved in, the Congress will be involved in, and different folks in this institution will be very much involved in, particularly during the QDR, the quadrennial defense review.

We owe it to ourselves, it seems to me, to ask that question. How appropriate is that? Are there alternatives to it that conceivably would leave us better arranged to deal with the kinds of things that actually have occurred during the last decade?

For example, we were arranged to deal with two major regional conflicts, but we didn't have either one, we ended up dealing with Bosnia and Kosovo and Haiti and a dozen other things like that.

So the question is, is there something better? To those that would tear down what is falls the responsibility for suggesting something better. If it were easy to come up with something better, it would have been done, one would think.

So what we're in the process of doing is hearing people in the public, in the press. I've seen two very thoughtful articles recently. And stimulating that kind of discussion because the goal is to find how we ought best be arranged to live in the world we're in. And so we're looking at alternatives without any pre-judgments or conviction that you necessarily can find something better. You might. And to the extent we can and develop a consensus on it in this building and we can develop the agreement of the national security process and we can develop an understanding and consensus on the Hill that that's a good idea, that there is a better way to do it, that would be useful. We would have accomplished something.

If we don't find anything better, I think the debate and discussion nonetheless would be useful. It will develop conviction about what is and satisfaction that in fact we are serious people, we wanted to seriously look at it, we're recognizing the changes in the world.

If you think about it, the 3rd Infantry Division announced they weren't ready. They went to C3, so to speak, in the readiness category. And the reason was because they needed 29 days to train up and they could only get 28 days as I recall. So the readiness dropped. Of course the question is, ready for what? The answer there, that's to be ready for a major regional conflict.

In fact, they weren't being asked to do a major regional conflict, but that's how we measure readiness. What they were being asked to do was be in Bosnia, where they were, with their headquarters divided and their units divided, and doing a darn good job at what the president and the Congress and the country asked them to do.

So you need to say to yourself, what is the best sizing approach? And you size and then equip for those things. And then you say to yourself, well what other kinds of things might we be doing and how do we get arranged for those things and equipped for those things? And how do you balance the risk in a way that you're looking at the future as well as the present? That is to say, to what extent are you willing to deny the present to increase your R&D budget that the president has requested so that you are staying ahead technologically, and have reasonable confidence that you're going to be able to deal with evolving challenges like information warfare and challenges to our information system, and the dependencies we have (inaudible). And how do you measure those threats and weigh them against each other -- the two major regional conflicts? The lesser events like non-combatant evacuations or Haitis or Bosnias or Kosovos, and against this other tier of things that you must recognize as potentially real issues for this country. That is instances where you could be challenged in areas that are new.

Q: Do you think as a matter of deterrence that it is essential that the United States always send a message that we can fight two regional wars simultaneously? Even though we are going to try to do all these other things as well, but keep that message out there not only for our allies but as insurance against our enemies?

Rumsfeld: I think that one of the things that has to be front and center is that issue of what deters what? There are various kinds of deterrence.

One is to... If you have an overpowering navy, for example, you dissuade somebody from thinking that by building a navy they can compete with that navy. They don't even try. It isn't that you have to prevail with that navy, it's that it is so dominant a U.S. capability that an Iraq or somebody isn't going to think about doing that. That isn't logical.

There are other things... So that kind of deterrent, it deters people from investing, if you will.

There are other kinds of things where you deter somebody from investing a lot as opposed to a little. There are other instances where you deter somebody from acting. They may have capabilities, but your capabilities are such that it dissuades them at the margins from thinking that it's to their advantage to do so.

So no matter what we end up with, whether it is what we have today by way of two major regional conflicts, that issue of deterrence across the spectrum simply must be front and center, because the goal isn't to prevail in a conflict, the goal is to be so strong that you could prevail in a conflict and by having that capability you dissuade people from placing the United States in a position where they end up in that (inaudible).

Q: Very quickly one of the ongoing threats today, which is Iraq, which you mentioned. Has your thinking clarified at all as to whether we're getting the national security bang for the bucks we're spending with the no-fly zone? There's been discussion of slowing the flights in the North, more robust in the South.

Rumsfeld: That is a subject that's up for discussion. The NSC is looking at it, thinking about it. The CINCs have been thinking about it. The Joint Chiefs have been thinking about it. I've been thinking about it. As you know, (inaudible) and Dr. Rice are looking at the policy overall. The WMD issues as well as the ability of the country to threaten its nation. One piece of that is the fact that the U.S. and the U.K. are currently engaged in various activities in the no-fly zone.

Q: How often do you talk to Secretary Powell and Vice President Cheney?

Rumsfeld: I would guess I probably talk to Secretary Powell two to three times a day. We had dinner last night. We're having lunch today. We had a phone call this morning.

There are so many things where we're each involved that that kind of a connection is very helpful. And we have a call every morning, Condi and Colin and I do. Every weekday morning. We talk any number of other times during the day. (inaudible)

Q: What about the vice president?

Rumsfeld: Often. Not as often. He's going to be at lunch today. He joins us for the lunches and he does not join us for the phone calls. But he's in most of my meetings with the president, National Security Council meetings, principals committee meetings, (inaudible) meetings.

Q: How much help has he been to you?

Rumsfeld: A big help. I've got an awful lot of people that worked for him that are working here for me, who are more current than the folks that worked for me originally. He's knowledgeable. He's interested. He's been taking a particular interest in the intelligence world. And he's made visits to the NRO, the DIA. He's interested in those things. He's been very helpful. And he's [a good guy].

Q: This office, are these your statues, your artwork, or did you just inherit that? Can you tell us a little bit about...

Rumsfeld: Yeah. Thanks Earlene.

The office is exactly the same as it was except that I've borrowed from the Smithsonian the (inaudible) which made me feel like I'm (inaudible). And the bronzes are all mine. I brought them from my office in Chicago.

Q: (inaudible)

Rumsfeld: It is. And I got, there's another Teddy Roosevelt over there that's got a wonderful quote under it, "Fighting for the right to (inaudible)."

I always have used a standup desk and they found this (inaudible) someplace.

Q: You don't like to sit, you like to...

Rumsfeld: I do, I stand all day long. I don't know what it is.

Voice: I don't think I've ever seen you sit at that desk.

Rumsfeld: I never have, I don't think. I sit here when...

Q: There's not even a chair there right now, as a matter of fact.

Rumsfeld: I move it out when I come in in the morning. My New Mexico pot there.

Q: Do you have a (inaudible)?

Rumsfeld: We do. We've got some cows and horses and donkeys.

Q: How big is your place?

Rumsfeld: A donkey named Bo and a mule named (inaudible). My wife had just bought some horses. We had some quarterhorses, but she bought some Missouri foxtrotters which have a smoother gait and she had just said to me that this was going to be our rural period. (Laughter) All of a sudden, here we are. It's amazing.

Once in awhile I'm standing here doing something and I think what in the world am I doing here? It's a big surprise.

Q: That's a pastoral view (inaudible).

Rumsfeld: I know. It is.

The rest of the statues, yeah. That pilot is a World War II figure, that's heroic size at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola that I gave to that museum.

Q: A pilot or...

Rumsfeld: He was a hangar deck officer on a [PVG], a (inaudible). He was first on the (inaudible), got transferred off. (inaudible) ...brought back to Indianapolis.

I'll show you, (inaudible). Look at this. That's 200 miles up. You can buy it right off the internet.

Q: I was going to ask...

Rumsfeld: Commercial imagery.

Q: This is where we have to ask, where did you earn your spurs? (Laughter)

Rumsfeld: That's funny. I found those out in New Mexico in a junk shop, which is where I found that Teddy Roosevelt (inaudible) there. And these are, I guess they're Civil War officers'.

Q: Who is that a portrait of?

Voice: George C. Marshall.

Q: Thank you.

Rumsfeld: I found those in my dad's papers, it was folded and wrinkled. And Forrestal (inaudible). But these (inaudible). I was (inaudible) during that time, and I lived in North Carolina (inaudible) and then Washington (inaudible) and then (inaudible).

Q: (inaudible)

Rumsfeld: (Laughter) Well, we write a few, but not like that. But it's funny to find that. (inaudible)

Q: (inaudible)

Rumsfeld: (inaudible) And it seems to work for me.

Q: (inaudible)

Rumsfeld: I was. The problem here is that you can't have a computer unless you (inaudible), unless you have a (inaudible).

Q: Very low tech, very low budget, ability to (inaudible).

Rumsfeld: (inaudible) I'm (inaudible).

Q: ...rather odd color.

Rumsfeld: The other problem of mixing public and private (inaudible), which you have to be very careful of. But (inaudible).

Q: And this is your cabinet (inaudible)?

Rumsfeld: That's from Ford and that's from (inaudible).

Q: It pays to be observant.

Rumsfeld: Yeah. And I began a (inaudible) situation. I (inaudible) of the (inaudible)... when that was the Department of War. When it was over there (inaudible).

Q: Secretary Cheney (inaudible).

Rumsfeld: It was here when I was here. But he did not say he wanted it.

Q: (inaudible) (Laughter)

Rumsfeld: That was the... There's that Teddy Roosevelt quote there which I like. Here's a tray, when I was ambassador to NATO and left to come back as chief of staff of the White House, this tray here signed by all of those ambassadors. This was the prayer at the first Cabinet meeting that I said to President Bush I'd love to have a copy. He (inaudible). There are the only two (inaudible)... Kind of strange.

All right, folks.

Q: Thank you very much. We appreciate your time.