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Secretary Rumsfeld at House Committee Stakeout

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
July 19, 2001

Thursday, July 19, 2001

(Stakeout following a meeting of the House Policy Committee at the Capitol. Also participating was Congressman Christopher Cox, committee chairman.)

Rumsfeld: -- and it is through trying things and experimenting with things that you learn. If everything you did that didn't work exactly the way you might have hoped is considered a failure, you stop doing things, and we wouldn't even have airplanes today.

Cox: Mr. Secretary, I'd just like to that a congressional perspective. As you know, the most recent test was an extraordinary success. Some people seem to have an instinct towards capillary. When Joe Montana won the Super Bowl, each time he managed to throw an incomplete pass at some point during the game. You've got to keep your focus on what counts in the big picture.

Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, are the troops and the forces in the Gulf on ThreatCon Delta after this recent threat?

Rumsfeld: There have been some threats in recent weeks and different forces in different area in different circumstances have different threat alert situations.

Staff: The secretary has an appointment on the Senate side, so he needs to depart.

Q: What did you tell them about base closures?

Rumsfeld: Well, we had a good discussion as Congresswoman Heather Wilson has indicated. It is a difficult thing to do. It is not something that anyone looks forward to. It is, in my view, something that the Department needs to work with the Congress and fashion a way that will be the most effective and, one would hope, the least painful to get accomplished some reduction in our base structure so that it more closely approximates our force structure.

Q: What is your reaction to getting criticized from the right for not putting enough money into Defense?

Rumsfeld: Well, there are some that would say it's too much and there are some that would say it's too little. It's the largest increase since 1986 in the heyday of the Reagan administration. It's the largest increase by any department percentage wise and in absolute figures by a mile, and it is an enormous amount of the taxpayers' money. Is it enough to correct all of the shortages that existed because of year-after-year-after-year of under funding of the Department? No, it's not. I've never known a department head in any department of any government across the globe who didn't think their department ought to get more money. The president has made, I think, a very bold step forward with this increase and we intend use the money wisely, and we are going to have to find ways to save money and see that we run the place better. And that, as Congressman Chris Cox said, is going to take some cooperation from the Congress.

Q: Thank you.