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Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
February 12, 2004
Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability

            Lewis: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm Congressman Jerry Lewis from California. It's my privilege to chair the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations and we had the Secretary of Defense and his colleagues before us today. I think it will be a very productive hearing. I know you're more interested in his thoughts about the hearing than mine, so it's my pleasure to [give you] Don Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense.


            Mr. Secretary?


            Rumsfeld: Thank you. Glad to be here. Questions?


            Q: Mr. Secretary, [inaudible] attacks taking place over the last several days including the one which involved General Abizaid today. Is it really doable, the timetable that's been set up?


            Rumsfeld: There's a lot of confusion in people's minds and in the questions I hear about the timetable. The timetable does not involve security forces. The timetable involves governance and the transfer of sovereignty and that is all that it involves.


            The question of the security in the country is this. The coalition forces are there, 34 countries. We have now plus or minus 115,000. The Iraqis now have 200,000 security forces of various types -- police, border patrol, Iraqi civil defense groups, site protection -- and they are increasingly taking over more and more of the responsibility. In the first instance they tend to do it jointly with the U.S. and coalition forces. In some instances they step forward and our forces are back. But there's no timetable for the passing over of security responsibility. It will vary in different parts of the country and always the coalition forces will be prepared to move forward again if for whatever reason that's appropriate.


            Q: Sir, your troops are stretched so thin. Is that why you are trying to calm the situation in North Korea and maybe Taiwan Strait, so that to peacefully resolve it so you don't have to get involved militarily?


            Rumsfeld: Well no, the troops are not stretched so thin. We have all the troops that the combatant commander and the local commanders have asked for and they're doing fine.


            It is a dangerous situation because you have a low intensity conflict. You have terrorists coming in through neighboring borders, and there are people who are determined to try to defeat the coalition forces. There isn't any chance in the world they can defeat the coalition forces militarily.


            So the reason we do different things in different parts of the country and the world is obvious. It's because different situations call for different things.


            Libya has opened up its country and has invited in the world to see that they're willing to disgorge their weapons of mass destruction programs and their ballistic missile delivery systems. That's a good thing. That was done through a variety of methods that seem to be working thus far. The situation in North Korea is on a diplomatic track with Japan and South Korea and Russia and China and other countries, the United States, participating.


            Q: What can you tell us about --


            Q: -- women who have reported that they were raped or claimed they suffered some sort of sexual assault. From what I understand, you ordered a review into the process by which they go about reporting this. Why not just go ahead with a criminal investigation or --


            Rumsfeld: Any time there's a charge, and believe me this department takes a matter of that type very seriously. Any time there's a charge you have two tasks, really. One task is -- You have several tasks.


            One task is to deal with the individual who may be the victim, and that has to be done well and properly and it's important.


            The second thing you have to do is look at the law enforcement aspects of it. Did somebody do something they ought not to have done and if so that individual needs to be punished and dealt with.


            The third thing one has to do is to look at the problem generically in the institution and say how can that be avoided? What are the kinds of things that can be done to reduce the incident?


            Now can you ever eliminate people's acts against other people? We seem not to be able to do that in certain things. But we do have a responsibility to try to reduce the numbers of instances of that. So we walk at it from several directions.


            Q: -- tell us about the --


            Q: To what extent do you believe that foreign jihadists or terrorists are now replacing former regime elements as a major source of concern of the insurgency? Do you have any idea whether they're linked to [inaudible] or not?


            Rumsfeld: Linked to what?


            Q: The attack [inaudible].


            Rumsfeld: I have no idea what initiated the attack today on that convoy. There are a variety of thoughts about that subject as to what the balance is among the various elements. There's no question but that there are extremists in there, foreigners coming in from other countries, and there is also no question but that there are former regime elements that would like to think they could take the country back and they're not going to. There's also a fact that there are criminals and unemployed people who are paid money to go do things, so it's a mixture.


            I kind of rely on the intelligence community to come to conclusions like that, and General Abizaid. He makes those calibrations working with all sorts of intelligence and then adjusts the techniques and tactics to fit it.


            We'll take one last question and I will decide who it is.


            It's you.


            Q: What can you tell us about the attack on General Abizaid's convoy today?


            Rumsfeld: Nothing. I've been in the hearing for three hours.


            Q: Sir, do you think that --


            Rumsfeld: No, no, no. You had your question.


            Q: Mr. Secretary, thank you. It's good to see you.

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