Q: Donald Rumsfeld, welcome to “The Bill Cunningham Show.”
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you, Bill. I’m delighted to be on “The Bill Cunningham Show.”
Q: Well, you know, I have the good fortune, I guess, of living in a so-called battleground state. And every day on television, on radio, I hear all about the failures in Iraq. It’s a terrible mission. American beheadings almost every week and that it’s a total disaster. Dick Cheney says it was a success. You’re the man, you’re Rumsfeld, you’re a great American. Up to this point, has Iraq been a success or a failure or somewhere in between?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, it isn’t over, but 25 million people have been liberated. The schools are open, the hospitals are open, the clinics are open, they have an economy that’s growing at a good clip. They did not have their oil wells set afire. Their infrastructure is basically intact. Their electricity is up higher than it was pre-war. The security forces among the Iraqis have gone from zero to something like 112,000 Iraqis. And they are out there helping to provide security for their country.
And with all that, the fact is that there are still terrorists – foreign terrorists – there are still foreign regime elements and former Baathists who want to take back the country. And it is a struggle that’s taking place between extremists who want to chop off people’s heads and tell everyone how they must live their lives and moderates who want to allow the people in that country to prosper and grow and have opportunities and have elections next January.
Q: Right. Yesterday, Donald, your good friends at The New York Times reported that 380 tons of high-degree munitions have been stolen or otherwise ripped off from Al Qaqaa weapons facility and it was big news. John Kerry screaming and hollering about you and Georgie Bush and Dick Cheney being a bunch of bumbling incompetents. And then NBC News came out last night with Miklaszewski and said they embedded with the 82nd Airborne and the explosives were already missing when the American troops arrived on or about April 10, 2003. Which is it: Are you a bumbling incompetent or…
SEC. RUMSFELD: [Laughs]
Q: …is Jim Miklaszewski telling the truth?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, here’s the situation. By our count, we have destroyed over 240,000 tons of weapons. And we have captured another 160,000 for a total of over 400,000… (the 160,000) are in line to be destroyed. There are hundreds of weapons sites that exist in that country that we’ve either emptied or guarded. And what’s going on now is a detailed investigation of precisely this situation. Although clearly, the Iraqi Survey Group investigated hundreds of sites in Iraq looking for weapons and clearly there were people there who believe that in many instances Saddam Hussein took weapons out of weapons sites and put them in – we found them in hospitals, we found them in schools, we found them all across that country, buried in some instances. Their goal – if you think about it, go back to the museum. Do you remember when the museum – everyone said the museum was looted?
Q: Fifty thousand pieces are missing.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah.
Q: From the valley of Umm (sp).
SEC. RUMSFELD: It turns out that I talked to a person who’d been to the museum two weeks before the war started and he said it was almost empty at that moment. Clearly, the curators had gone in and taken much of that and put it into a safe place. There was talk about $1 billion being stolen from the…
Q: From the bank.
SEC. RUMSFELD: … Central Bank. In fact, we found I think it was $600 million of it in various locations. And the idea that it was looted was just wrong. It was moved by Saddam Hussein’s people.
Q: Well, do you think The New York Times and the U.N. ’s going to keep dropping a dime on you guys until next Tuesday, whether it’s Sanchez’s memo last week and now it’s the 380 tons which, by the way, mathematically is less than 1/10th of 1 percent of what you’re talking about 400,000 is as to 380 is less than 1/10th of 1 percent. Is The New York Times and the U.N. going to keep dropping the dime on you guys until Election Day?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, the president has asked Colin Powell and Don Rumsfeld to not get into politics, but every once in awhile, I drive by the National Archives and on the front of it it says, ‘The past is prologue.’
Q: [Laughs] A couple of other issues here in the battleground states. One is I keep hearing in John Kerry’s coming to Ohio repeatedly. He’s been all over Missouri and Michigan about Gen. Shinseki, who I’m sure is a great guy, that you retired him early because you, Donald Rumsfeld was hearing things from Shinseki about 400,000 troops that you didn’t want hear, that you kicked him out and you fired him. Is that true? Does that have substance?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Anyone who says that has had literally dozens of opportunities to learn that that is a flat lie. Gen. Shinseki served his entire full four-year term. He never said 400,000. He was pressed in a congressional hearing and he said he guessed it would take about as many to secure the country post combat, as it would to take the country in the first instance and he estimated something possibly as many as several hundred thousand. It is just mythology that is going on here. I don’t know – it’s obvious whose interest it serves. But Gen. Franks decided how many forces were needed and he is the one who made that decision and I supported him in it and I believe he made the right decision.
Q: Senator John Kerry said that you, Rumsfeld, basically outsourced the ability to capture UBL to the Afghan warlords and to the Pakistanis, that we had him trapped in Tora Bora and but for the outsourcing by Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney, we would have captured UBL, would you give wings to those lies or not?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, the intelligence community did not then know where Osama bin Laden was and does not today know where UBL is. I think that one way to look at – put it in context is this – the Soviet Union took 2[00,000 or 300,000 troops, I believe, and attempted to subdue Afghanistan and they lost the war. We had less than 20,000 and we won. The Taliban are gone, the al Qaeda are out of there. They’ve had an election. They have a constitution. Women voted. The people voted for the first time in the history of that country. It was a breathtaking accomplishment. And for anyone to be running around flyspecking what took place in Afghanistan, when we just had this brilliant, unbelievable historic election…and that country is on a path of 23 million people liberated, on a path towards being respectful to its various diverse elements, is beyond comprehension.
Q: Now, lastly, another issue is percolating like a pot of hot coffee and that is that you, Rumsfeld, did not plan for the peace, it was a great military effort, a great war, but you spent all your time taking down the fourth-largest standing army in the world, the Republican Guard – the elite Republican Guard – and didn’t plan properly for the peace, allowed the looting to take place, things of that character. Would you respond to those charges of the radical leftists?
SEC. RUMSFELD: [Laughs] This is quite a program you’ve got here. I’m just getting them all served up. And let me see, what would I have to say about that? The war plan and the postwar plan were both good ones. The postwar plan that you raised the question about was designed to see that they were not able to destroy their oil wells, that they were not able to blow up their bridges, that they did not have massive humanitarian crisis with internally displaced people and refugees and food crisis and that the war was conducted in a speedy way, so that it would not run the risk of destabilizing neighboring countries. All of those were accomplished. And the reality is that any plan then is dealing with an enemy with a brain. And so they adapt and then we adapt to that and it is a truth that it requires continuously adapting what we’re doing – our tactics and our strategies – to meet the problems on the ground, the security problem on the ground. And that’s what our military leaders are doing out there and they’re doing an absolutely superb job and if the parents and loved ones of men and women in uniform are listening, I hope they’re proud of those people because everyone’s a volunteer. Every one of them is over there because they raised their hand and asked to be sent and they’re doing a world-class job for this country and the Iraqi people have a good crack at making it and having a free system in the months and years ahead.