Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2001 - 12:45 p.m. EDT
(Interview with Brian Williams, MSNBC)
Williams: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Rumsfeld: Thank you, Brian.
Williams: Also on the Hill today, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a Senate hearing on the Pentagon's budget; he spoke about the future of the U.S. military. And tonight recent reports that the Bush administration plans to build support for its Star Wars missile defense plan by saying to China, in effect, it's okay to strengthen your military. Earlier today, I spoke with the secretary about that report.
Rumsfeld: It is flat not true. It -- it did not happen and it is not the case and it is not the policy of the United States of America. The president of the United States is an individual who has announced that he wants the lowest possible number of nuclear weapons. I'm engaged in a nuclear posture review to achieve that goal.
Williams: How much trouble, in plain English, is the missile defense plan going to cause the United States around the world?
Rumsfeld: Oh, I think -- very modest -- any time anyone changes anything, there's going to be some question and some turmoil, but the reality is that many of our European allies have gone from either opposition or undecided coming over to support now and so true around the world. I think that we're going to find growing support for it as people better understand the nature of the threat, I think that -- that the need for missile defense will become much clearer.
Williams: Let me ask you about the cabinet. Yesterday's edition of Time magazine calls one of your colleagues, Mr. Powell, the secretary of State, the odd man out. Is it true or not that this president has laid out a system of government where individual stars or standouts are not particularly welcome in the cabinet -- that you have to understand you -- you've been CEO of a Fortune 500 company -- that the boss is the boss and everyone else is an employee.
Rumsfeld: It is nonsense to suggest that Colin Powell is an odd man out. He is not. He is an enormously talented person. He's a good friend of mine. I'm in touch with him every day -- meet with him a number of times a week. He is deeply engaged in helping to fashion the foreign policy. The reality is as you state, however, that the president is the president. He's the one who ran. He's the one who is commander-in-chief. He's the one who is the -- person who provides the direction for this country and for the cabinet. And all of us who join the cabinet accept that -- support that and understand it as our constitutional system.
Williams: Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld from earlier today.