Thursday, September 20, 2001
(Interview with Penna Dexter and John Driggs for the Point of View radio talk show.)
Dexter: We are talking about, what else, the attack on America. And John, people have been waiting for a response. I think a lot of Americans were gratified to see the Roosevelt leave and be deployed yesterday.
Dexter: We have a very special guest with us now. Why don't you go ahead and introduce him.
Driggs: Well we do. As we anticipate the words of our president tonight regarding the situation this country is now faced with. Joining us now live from the nation's capital is Pentagon spokesman Admiral Craig Quigley. Admiral Quigley, glad to have you on board.
I'm assuming that the president tonight will reiterate a few points he's already made, those including the idea that this war on terrorism is to be a marathon, not a sprint. A marathon. Are we talking two or three years, or are we talking maybe a decade here?
Quigley: John, I don't know if I can put a good timeframe on it, but it will indeed be a long term, sustained effort and very different than any war that America has ever fought before.
This is not about fighting conventional armies and navies and air forces when you think of a Desert Storm sense or something like that. This is an enemy that fights and lives in the shadows and it will take a combination of effort -- some military, some financial, some diplomatic, some legal, working very closely with a variety of nations around the world to really get to the heart of these terrorist networks.
Dexter: Admiral, we're being told that there will be hardship on the American people that will go along with this war on terrorism. Can we speculate perhaps a bit? What will these hardships include? Give us some thoughts there.
Quigley: It's been my experience that no effort worth doing comes at no cost. There is a conscious effort being made, I believe, as a nation to prepare ourselves for what will probably be a very long struggle. These networks of terrorists did not spring up overnight and they will not be eliminated overnight.
Dexter: Admiral Quigley, just explain to us exactly what we have deployed and where so far.
Quigley: We have a variety of military forces around the world as a matter of course, Penna. Yesterday you saw the USS Theodore Roosevelt which is an aircraft carrier, and her escort ships, a variety of capabilities heading east out of Norfolk, Virginia. In addition we have set in motion the redisposition of some additional military forces. There will be more in the weeks and months ahead as we take on the Defense Department portion of this national effort.
Dexter: And of course I understand there are two ships already near the coast of Pakistan, aren't there?
Quigley: We have -- one of the great things about naval forces is their mobility and their ability to move where you need them on the world's oceans. And we have taken the steps to put those assets where we need them most.
Dexter: You mentioned there is a plan that's going to unfold. Is there anything that you can reveal about that at this point?
Quigley: No, not really Penna, other than to say that we've been hard at work in that regard since the attack on the 11th of September, and I hope you'll understand that that will put the lives at real people at risk by sharing too much of that publicly.
Dexter: Well we sure do understand that.
I want to ask another question about the people, the young men who have gone, the young men and women who have gone and are going. You must have been talking to some of them. How are they feeling? What is their state of mind at this point?
Quigley: I have, and it's just something that makes you oh so very proud each and every time you have an opportunity to talk to them. They're energetic, they're bright, they're patriotic, they're very well trained, and they are eager to serve America in uniform, and it's just very heartening every time you see it.
Driggs: We've been through America's worst nightmare from a terrorist, at least certainly one of the worst possible scenarios.
Driggs: Yet we understand only too well, we may be subject to further attacks and perhaps soon.
What is being done, Admiral Quigley, in your view to really make a difference, to prevent this kind of thing from happening before [sic], whether it's crashing jet liners into skyscrapers or whatever else might happen?
Quigley: John, I think that nobody considered an airliner to be a weapon before last Tuesday, and now clearly we have to do that. The dramatic attack on America last Tuesday is causing the entire government of the United States, and indeed people in the United States to think very differently about the threats that face them internally.
We had been very focused, very externally focused for all the years of the Cold War, and now it's readily apparent to all that we need to look at things very differently and consider homeland defense in a whole new way.
Dexter: Admiral Quigley, we're talking about a war on terrorism and it takes many forms as you have said. It's probably going to take a long time, and it's not going to be conventional in many cases. But everybody's pretty much focused on Osama bin Laden and most of us think that he's in Afghanistan, and of course they're not about to turn him over. They said that he can leave and they'd like to see him leave, of they're encouraging him to, but that's about it.
Can we talk a little bit about that country and what our military options are there?
Quigley: Let me go back a step, Penna, if I could, for a second. This is not just about Osama bin Laden or about the terrorist network called al Qaeda that he heads. This is much bigger than any single person or even single organization. It is a network of networks of terrorist organizations that have grown around the world for years -- years and years. There are some 50 to 60 countries, including the United States, where we know that terrorist organizations work. They support each other and they have a variety of sources of support external to their organizations. That is going to be the key to success, is going to be drying up the support -- financial, moral, just a safe haven, training, sources of weapons and explosives. If you can dry up those areas of support you have taken away the tools that the terrorist organizations need to accomplish their tasks.
Dexter: But what about Afghanistan? Because I understand that first of all, it's kind of rough territory there, and second of all, it's already been reduced to a state of, well, some people have said that if you tried to bomb it you really wouldn't be doing any good.
Quigley: Very rugged country indeed. I think the world saw that, the great difficulty that the then Soviet Union had after they invaded that country in the late 1970s. I think the key to success here is going to be very, very good quality intelligence. We're very heartened to see a variety of nations around the world, some of whom we have very little in common with politically, but on this we can agree, and that's the need to fight terrorism around the world.
So gaining that intelligence, we certainly do not have a monopoly on good intelligence. So if we can get that from other countries, it's a plus.
Driggs: Let me put you on the spot here, Admiral Quigley.
Driggs: We look at George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld. In your opinion as a military man, how capable is this group of getting it done here?
Quigley: You would be hard pressed to find a more capable team.
Driggs: I had a feeling you were going to say that.
Driggs: So we have many reasons to be encouraged in terms of the folks who are calling the shots here. This is a group that's capable, willing, and clearly not going to be intimidated by terrorists, and man, that's a flying start in my opinion.
Quigley: And they are backed up and inspired by the people of America. This is an assault on our way of life, John, and it's the freedoms that we have earned and have come to enjoy over the years as Americans. We can hunker down, we can spend our lives looking over our shoulders and have our behavior altered, or we can take the fight to the terrorist organizations and alter that behavior, and that's the path we've chosen.
Dexter: One more question before the break.
You've helped us understand how widespread this network is and how many different ways we're going to have to fight them and go after them, but in some cases there is state sponsorship, and I guess I'll put you on the spot again and ask you about possible plans for going after Iraq and Saddam Hussein.
Quigley: There are a variety of nations around the world that have a track record of supporting terrorism. Some for particular organizations, and others much more widely. We have said, the President has said that he's putting those nations on notice that he wants that support to cease, and to dry up those areas of financial support and training support, and if those are coming from nations, then we want that behavior to halt.
Driggs: Admiral, is this in effect, as we combat terrorism in the year 2001, are we basically going back as it applies to Iraq and wrapping up what we started in the Gulf War?
Quigley: That's a hard one to predict, John. I certainly wouldn't make that prediction today.
Again, the goal here is to have the states that have sponsored terrorism stop it and to stop providing that support. And if you have demonstrated behavior that you have halted that, that is the goal.
Dexter: Admiral Craig Quigley from the Pentagon. We appreciate so much your being with us today.
Quigley: You're very welcome, Penna. My pleasure.
Dexter: A great opportunity, John, to have one of the people in the Pentagon to begin to explain the situation to us.
Dexter: We'll of course hear more from the president tonight. Maybe we'll be enlightened a little bit more although I think Admiral Quigley probably gave us the scoop.