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Secretary Rumsfeld Availability En Route to Munich, Germany

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
February 05, 2004 12:00 PM EDT
Secretary Rumsfeld Availability En Route to Munich, Germany

     Rumsfeld:  We're going to Munich, obviously, for the Security Conference, the so-called Werkunde Conference, but the NATO Ministers have arranged an informal meeting prior to that, the day before, to, in effect, get prepared for the Istanbul Summit, which is in June.

 

     It will be the first meeting with the new Secretary General.  There is a good agenda.  Seven invitees will be coming in.  We have the issues on strengthening NATO's role in Afghanistan.  There will be discussions [about] Iraq.  I guess there's now something like 24 or 26 NATO members and invitees who currently have forces in either Afghanistan or Iraq, and I think it's possibly 17 of them out of 26 have them in both countries.  So the argument that we should internationalize our activities there I find interesting.

 

     We're continuing to talk to probably another -- we have 34 countries in Iraq.  We're continuing to talk to another 10, so there's a good deal of activity.

 

     Also being discussed will be the NATO Response Force, the usability of NATO forces, the Mediterranean Dialogue questions that are part of the greater Middle East issues, and also the prospective end of NATO's military role in Bosnia, and the possible replacement by the EU of a different type of force.  We'd probably leave a very small NATO headquarters, very small, there to assist with things like the indicted criminals and various other things but for the most part the thought is that we're moving towards a point where the NATO role in Bosnia will come to an end which I think is a success for NATO when it happens and certainly a success story for the people of Bosnia.

 

     Q:  (Inaudible.)

 

     Rumsfeld:  They're still working out the modalities and the timing, but I'll be having a press conference I'm sure in Munich and will have some remarks there.

 

     I've got a lot of bilaterals.  I've got Spain and Canada, the new Minister of Defense.  Germany.  A CDU leader, Mrs. Merkle.  (Inaudible.) the Georgian Foreign Minister.  The, I think his title is the National Security Assistant for India, Mr. Mishra, who I've met with before both in India and at this conference.  And we're going to have breakfast with all of the seven Ministers of Defense of the invitee countries and our congressional delegation, which is being headed up by Senator McCain and Senator Luger.

 

     A couple of other things we're going to be doing on the trip -- one is to go to Croatia which is of course a country that's part of the so-called MAP program for NATO and is on a track towards prospective membership in NATO as they undertake the kinds of tasks that need to be undertaken.  It is a country that's helping us with the global war on terror and a country that has a new government within a recent period.

 

     And last, I'll be dealing with the Minister of Defense of the U.K.  Geoff Hoon in London, and I guess also meeting with some people from the U.K.  press and possibly the Arab press there -- representatives of Arab journals that reside in London I think is a better way to say it.

 

     Questions?

 

     Q:  Mr. Secretary, despite what you say about (Inaudible.) Afghanistan and Iraq, the new Secretary General said in Washington last week that major fence-mending still needs to be done between Washington and Europe over Iraq about the issues.  Would you agree that (Inaudible.)?  And is there any message you plan to carry to NATO or to the conference on that?  On reestablishing good relations (Inaudible.)?

 

     Rumsfeld:  I don't know that I'd phrase it quite that way.  I think the relationships are really -- it's interesting.  If someone takes a snapshot at any moment, they can say everything's wonderful or everything's terrible.  Now the fact is since the Eisenhower Administration the NATO relationship has gone from little difficulties to things better, to little difficulties to things better, to difficulties to things better.  It's been a pattern over my entire adult lifetime.

 

     I would say that the relationships right now are fairly normal.  That is to say that the ebb and flow of relationships -- the trans-Atlantic relationships and the ebb and the flow of relationships within Europe -- and I think it's terribly important to not look at it only through a U.S. perspective.  I think one has to look at now 26 nations and look at the tugs of war that exist within Europe which are not trivial, which is not surprising given what they're trying to accomplish there.  That's not an easy thing to do, to continue to build the European Union and the other (Inaudible.).

 

     So I don't know that I would characterize it the way you said.  You'll find my remarks will be what my remarks will be.

 

     Q:  Do you think that NATO will formally put forces into Iraq later this year as an entity as opposed to separate countries?

 

     Rumsfeld:  I think that NATO's role, its first task really is to do well the Afghan task.  Afghanistan is the first major out-of-Europe activity for NATO.  It's a significant thing they've undertaken with the International Security Assistance Force, and the proposals to take over the so-called Provincial Reconstruction Teams.  That's a big assignment.

 

     The next step there might be for them to take on a somewhat larger role in Afghanistan.

 

     With respect to Iraq, they have stepped forward and been working with the Polish and Spanish multinational division, and we would hope they would continue to take a still larger role.  My guess is that those discussions would be just behind the Afghanistan discussions in the queue.

 

     Q:  Did you have a chance to listen to at least some of Director Tenet's presentation today?

 

     Rumsfeld:  All of it plus the Q&As.

 

     Q:  Why don't you tell us --

 

     Rumsfeld:  It was a very good presentation.  He laid it out, he did it well, and I think it was important that he did it.  He did something that I expressed the hope he might do yesterday in my testimony before the House and the Senate, and that was to talk a bit about some of the successes.  There's been a good deal of confusion in the press stories about the role of intelligence and it struck me that he did it very professionally, he did it in a way that's balanced, and I'm delighted he did it.  I think it will provide a lot of clarity for people.

 

     Q:  Knowing what you know now, do you have any regrets about how you phrased with certainty that Iraq had and was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction before the war?

 

     Rumsfeld:  I've gone back and looked at all of those -- not all of them, but an awful lot of them -- and as I mentioned in the hearing yesterday, there was a point where I was receiving literally dozens of questions about "Where are they?”  Meaning the weapons of mass destruction sites.  No, weapons of mass destruction.  The forces had been in Iraq at that point a day or two or three or five or whatever it was.  You can go back and check the record.  And we had a map from the intel people as to where the suspect WMD sites were.  We knew they were not all certain sites to be sure, but they were suspect sites, and they were (Inaudible.), we knew where they were on the geographic location, the suspect sites.  As I was being asked where are they, where are they?  You don't have any yet after two or three days in the southern part of the country.  I said look, we know where they are, they're in a different part of the country.  They're up north.  And I was referring to suspect sites.  I didn't say that, and in retrospect I would have probably -- it's probably not the first thing I've said that I'd like to --

 

     Q:  I'm sorry.  I mean overall, the way the Administration characterized the pre-war intelligence and making the case for war.  There were things said with certainty in the presentation, and now looking back, do you wish that it wasn't said with such certainty?

 

     Rumsfeld:  There are a lot of things being said about what the Administration said, which the Administration did not say.  I've read these critics' comments and I can't find places where I said those things.  I've not gone back and researched everyone else in the Administration, but it seems to me it would be a worthwhile thing to do for folks if they want to get clarity into this, is to take what people are saying and double back and check it.

 

     Q:  How do you explain what seem to be discrepancies between what Dr. Kay has said and what Director Tenet said today?

 

     Rumsfeld:  I don't think there are discrepancies.  I don't see discrepancies between what I said and what Dr.  Kay has said.  Indeed, there are certainly no discrepancies between what I said and what George Tenet said.  My pattern is to check with the Agency and look at the intelligence community's words and use those words.

 

     The only difference -- If someone is looking for daylight and wants a news story, they want to make something out of it.  The question is, "Is the glass half full or half empty?”  And David Kay properly said in his judgment we're about 85 percent complete.  I forgot what George Tenet said, but he basically said what I said, that there's work yet to be done.  And my guess is if you talk to the people in the Iraqi Survey Group, General Dayton, the people under them, and you ask them and David Kay, they might use different words.

 

     I mean, each of you is going to go out of this press briefing and write a different story and yet we were all here together.  Now why do you do that?  You do it because you've got something in your head and you hear things slightly differently, and that's human nature.  But David Kay -- I watched the tape, I've not read the transcript, but I watched the tape of his presentation and I thought it was excellent.  I thought he watched the compass, it was balanced, it was thoughtful, and it was knowledgeable.

 

     If General Dayton comes back, the work (Inaudible.) with him, and they were there looking at the same things, doing the same things, and he had a whatever it was, two or three hour presentation to the Senate Armed Services Committee, and people asked him roughly the same questions, he's going to use his words.  And that's fine.

 

     My guess is his view would somewhat put a crack of daylight between them because they're two different human beings looking at the same thing and describing it slightly differently.

 

     But I think basically everyone's generally in agreement as to where we are.  I don't think that, I personally don't think there's any big difference between what I heard George Tenet say and what I watched on the David Kay tape.

 

     Do you think there's a big difference?

 

     Q:  You put it glass half empty, glass half full, and 85 percent seems to be a significant difference.  Kay is basically saying he's gone through 85 percent, had (Inaudible.) and probably won't.  If I understand what you said, quoting the analysts saying we're not even near 85 percent.  We have a long way to go.

 

     Rumsfeld:  He's clearly said patience, we should be patient, and I think that's fair.

 

     Q:  A question on Afghanistan.  The commanders there recently are expressing a lot of optimism on finding bin Laden.  One even says he's (Inaudible.).  Is there any basis for an increased optimism in that?

 

     Rumsfeld:  How does one answer that?  We've got a terrific team out there in General Lawson and General Barneau and the Ambassador (Inaudible.).  They're all working hard.  I suppose what that may be a reflection of is their enthusiasm, the fact that they feel they're well organized and they're disciplined and they're working the problem, and they're hopeful.  But I think neither one of them, or whoever said it, I don't know, but I doubt that either one of them if they had reasonably good intelligence would be making a statement like that and tipping off UBL that they were close on his heels.

 

     So I think what you probably heard was a feeling of confidence in the people they've got working the problem and the enthusiasm they have and the contention they have that ultimately they'll find him.  I've always believed ultimately they'll find him.

 

     Q:  Thank you.