Press Availability with Secretary Rumsfeld at the Senate
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Greetings.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there's been some talk about bringing the six former generals up to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss your stewardship of the Pentagon and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Do you think that would be a good idea? Would that be helpful, clear the air?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: That subject didn't come up in here. It's a matter for the Senate.
QUESTION: You would not object?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: It's a matter for the Senate.
QUESTION: Do you think it would be helpful?
SENATOR SESSIONS: I think the Armed Services Committee does not need to be having those kinds of hearings today and at this point in time. We’ve got a President who set a policy. He selected his Secretary of Defense. This Congress supports that. The Congress has appropriated the funds for this effort and I think we're making progress. And we need to stay that course. We’ve got a lot of things we need to be doing now about our next year’s budget, the supplemental and those issues, and to be second guessing the policies this nation has established would be unwise in my view.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: What we talked about in there was the new Iraqi government, the top seven leaders that have been selected by the leadership in that country and the task they now have of fashioning the remaining ministries as they go through the next 30 days and getting them approved by the Parliament. It is a big step forward.
Terrorists tried to stop the constitution and they failed. They tried to stop the election and they failed. They tried to stop this government from getting formed and they're failing on that too. So there's good progress getting made and I'm pleased with the success they're having.
QUESTION: What does this say about getting some troops out of country or at least taking them over the horizon and putting them in neighboring countries, as this government takes shape and stands on its own feet?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: We of course have been training and equipping the Iraqi security forces. There are now over 250,000 of them. They provided the security for the election. Every week and every month we pass off more bases to them and more real estate and more responsibility. We have our forces embedded with them and have a very good fix on their qualities, their capabilities, their leadership, their equipment, and there's no doubt that as they stand up we'll be able to stand down our forces.
Thank you folks.