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Secretary Rumsfeld Remarks at Stakeout Outside ABC TV

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
October 29, 2001

Sunday, October 28, 2001

(Remarks at stakeout outside the ABC TV studio in Washington, D.C.)

Q: Mr. Secretary, could you please comment on the report that the president is giving the CIA (inaudible) to go after (inaudible) terrorists? Do you think this is a necessary tool in the war on terrorism?

Rumsfeld: There have been some reports speculating about what the president may or may not have done. My inclination is to have the president make announcements of that type.

I will say this, there is no question but that the United States of America has every right, as every country does, of self defense, and the problem with terrorism is that there is no way to defend against the terrorists at every place and every time against every conceivable technique. Therefore, the only way to deal with the terrorist network is to take the battle to them. That is in fact what we're doing. That is in effect self-defense of a preemptive nature.

Q: How do you deal with (inaudible)? -- propaganda that other networks in Afghanistan are sending out. That's (inaudible) the United States. What about Russia and Asia (inaudible)?

Rumsfeld: The Moslem countries have fought during Ramadan from day one. The Northern Alliance and the Taliban fought over a period of years during Ramadan. The Middle East War took place over Ramadan.

The terrorists are threatening our country. They have killed thousands of Americans and indeed, people from another hundred countries, 60-80 countries were killed in the World Trade Center.

There is nothing in that religion that says that war must not take place during Ramadan and it has been demonstrated repeatedly in many instances.

We have a task of defending our country, and we must do that.

Q: Are we getting into --

Q: -- this week that (inaudible) quite wide access to information about the war, but there is some information that (inaudible) provided, for instance on readiness (inaudible) and failures. We haven't seen pictures of when the bombs didn't hit their targets.

Rumsfeld: Oh, sure there have.

Q: (inaudible)?

Rumsfeld: Yeah. We've been quite open, there's no question but there have been, an errant bomb hit a Red Cross warehouse. Fortunately, I'm told, we're not on the ground so we can't prove this, but we're told by people there that no one was killed in this recent warehouse that was killed, and it was not a Red Cross facility, it was a warehouse that they were storing some materials in.

Q: But what specifically about rate of success or failure? Why not more specific information about that? Would that not help the Pentagon win the propaganda [war]?

Rumsfeld: Well, it's a very difficult thing to do. What we are doing is we are bombing in areas that are controlled by the Taliban and the al Qaeda. These are particularly vicious elements in that country that have done great damage to the Afghan people. Millions of Afghans are starving, are fleeing. Some not from anything other than the al Qaeda and the Taliban government which is so repressive.

The fact is that you're not on the ground there to report and I'm not on the ground there to report. Therefore, what can I do? If I do not have a photograph that proves that they're lying, and there's no question but that they are using mosques for command and control, for ammunition storage, and they're not taking journalists in to show that. What they do is when there's a bomb goes down, they grab some children and some women and pretend that the bomb hit the women and the children. And it seems to me that it's up to all of us to try to tell the truth, to say what we know, to say what we don't know, and recognize that we're dealing with people that are perfectly willing to lie to the world to attempt to further their case. And to the extent people lie, ultimately, they are caught lying and they lose their credibility, and one would think it wouldn't take very long for that to happen dealing with people like this.

Q: Mr. Secretary, (unintelligible) 5,000 armed Pakistanis are getting ready to [cross to] Afghanistan. Do you think they are a legitimate target once they do? And are you concerned (unintelligible)?

Rumsfeld: I think people that are helping the terrorists or harboring the terrorists or tolerating the terrorists or financing or facilitating the terrorists are people that we're against.

Q: And should they cross --

Rumsfeld: There's no question but that if people associate themselves with Taliban it is our intention to root up that terrorist network out of that country and stop it from terrorizing the United States and other people in the world.

Q: And (unintelligible) Pakistan.

Q: Are we in fact in a quagmire?

Rumsfeld: No. From day one the president has said and I have said repeatedly that this will be a long, long effort. This is something that's new, it's different, it's not easy, it's like looking for needles in a haystack. It's going to take time, it's going to take patience, and that is what's taking place, and it's going very much as expected. It's going very much as predicted. The only place I find any impatience at all is not with the American people, but the fact that we're in this unusual situation where we're dealing with a conflict that's notably different, that is broad -- part of it can be seen, part of it can't. Part of it's arresting people across the globe, part of it's gathering intelligence information -- and we're doing it at a time when there's a 24 hour constant news cycle that has this voracious appetite for change, for conflict, for different kinds of information. Therefore if it isn't fed every five minutes it's a quagmire. Well it's not a quagmire at all. It's been three weeks that we've been engaged in this, and I find the American people have a very good center of gravity. And clearly understand what the President has said and the nature of this conflict, and it seems to me that we'll continue to have good support.

Q: Mr. Secretary, please, (unintelligible)?

Rumsfeld: We know that al Jezeera has a pattern of playing Taliban propaganda over and over and over again. And they have a pattern of not making judgments about the accuracy of that propaganda. Is that unhelpful to us? You bet. Over time will it ultimately be seen as having been untrue? I think so, because there's something about people that ultimately the truth wins out.

Q: How about the footage of the children?

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