Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2001 - 7:03 a.m. EDT
(Interview with Jane Clayson, CBS Early Show)
Clayson: The Pentagon has declared the nation's military ready. Yet some members of the Bush administration have been calling for patience and a measured response to the terror attacks.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is at the Pentagon this morning. Mr. Rumsfeld, good morning.
Rumsfeld: Good morning.
Clayson: As we just heard from Richard Roth, the president of Pakistan says that U.S. military strikes against Afghanistan are inevitable and the Taliban's days are numbered. Is that a message that the U.S. wished him to send? And are U.S. strikes imminent?
Rumsfeld: Well, needless to say, we don't discuss operations or timing or specifically what we're going to do or not do with our coalition partners. I think the important thing is to go back to President Bush's speech, and it was very clear, and that is that there is no way to deal with international terrorism except by taking the battle to the terrorists and to the countries that are harboring international terrorists.
Clayson: Well, Mr. Secretary, is part of the plan, then, to topple the Taliban government, to replace the government in Afghanistan?
Rumsfeld: Well, the international terrorists, like al Qaeda organization, which is very active across the global in some 50 or 60 countries, really could not exist if it were not that a number of countries facilitate, finance, foster and tolerate their activities.
The only way to stop the problem is to liquidate that network. And the only way to liquidate the network, not just this one but the other terrorist networks as well, is by making it very clear to the countries that are harboring those networks that they'd best stop.
Clayson: Well, let me put it this way. Is replacing the Taliban a condition that the opposition in Afghanistan is putting on their support of our efforts?
Rumsfeld: There are many opposition elements in Afghanistan. For the most part, Afghan people don't support Taliban. They're fleeing. They're starving. Their human circumstance is tragic. And there are factions against the Taliban; in the south, the tribes; in the north, the Northern Alliance. And there are factions within Taliban that don't like the fact that Taliban is supporting and fostering the al-Qaeda network in their country. So it isn't a good guys versus bad guys. There are all kinds of factions here. And the goal is to get that network terminated.
Clayson: The Taliban has said that they have Osama bin Laden in their control and would turn him over if the U.S. presented evidence. Why not, Mr. Secretary, offer evidence if it opens even the possibility that he would be turned over?
Rumsfeld: In the first place, the Taliban leadership says a new thing every day. Second, the evidence is before you at the Pentagon and at the World Trade Center, and the linkages to the al Qaeda organization and that terrorist network are so clear and have been presented so clearly across the globe that one must ask, how can anyone suggest that more evidence is needed?
Clayson: How concerned are you, Mr. Secretary, that a large military attack on Afghanistan and the Taliban would destabilize that part of the world; would destabilize Pakistan, for example, which has nuclear capabilities -- Egypt, Saudi Arabia? Is that a great concern to you?
Rumsfeld: Well, I think it is important to emphasize this, that the United States and our coalition partners went into a Muslim country in Kuwait and threw the Iraqis out. We assisted the Muslim population that was subject to ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo. We were involved in humanitarian activities in Somalia. We've been the biggest food donor in Afghanistan. And this is not something that involves a religion. It is not something that involves even a country. It involves terrorists. And that is the problem.
Clayson: But the destabilization of these countries, how big of a concern is that for you?
Rumsfeld: There's no question but that everyone has to be sensitive to potential secondary effects, and we are doing everything possible to see that we are sensitive to those problems.
Clayson: In an interview with Dan Rather last night, Secretary of State Colin Powell made a point of not ruling out an attack on Iraq. After we're done with Osama bin Laden, will you turn your attention to states like Iraq?
Rumsfeld: Well, it's not for me. It's for the president. And the president has been very clear. There are a number of countries on the terrorist list. There are a number of countries that are known to be fostering and encouraging international terrorism. And the president has properly pointed out that the only way to deal with the problem of international terrorism is by taking the battle to them and to the countries that harbor and facilitate those activities.
We just lost more people in the United States than we've lost in any single event since the Civil War. This is a -- weapons are increasingly powerful. This is not something that's small. It is large. It's important. And we need to work with the other countries in the world to see that the scourge of international terrorism is wiped out.
Clayson: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Mr. Rumsfeld, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
Rumsfeld: Thank you very much.
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