Interview with Eric Westernvelt and Juan Williams, NPR
Q: Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us.
Rumsfeld: Glad to do it.
Q: We really appreciate it. I bet you’ve had a lot of interviews today.
Rumsfeld: I had some this morning. It went well.
Q: It went well. Here we go.
Rumsfeld: You are NPR.
Q: We’re National Public Radio. Here we go. All set?
Unknown: We (inaudible) secretary and…
Rumsfeld: Good. I’ll be talking about like this, unless Juan says something on tour, in which case, goodness knows, what I’ll say.
Unknown: Just watch that cable that we’ve got.
Rumsfeld: Thank you.
Q: (Inaudible) is better?
Rumsfeld: It is. It’s almost well – not really, but. You know when you have an 18-year-old body, you bounce back fast.
Q: So I hear.
Rumsfeld: (Laughs.) Mr. Secretary, there we are.
Q: Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us. Argument is made that we are cutting back al Qaeda’s world, limiting their movement in Afghanistan, Iraqi, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan. Is that true and, if so, where are they centered now?
Rumsfeld: It is true. They’re operating differently than they did, I think is the first thing I would say. When you think of 90 nations in the global war on terror, trading intelligence, trying to freeze bank accounts, putting pressure, law enforcement pressure, making it more difficult for al Qaeda and other terrorist networks to move across borders to recruit – to retain their people and killing and capturing a reasonable number. It has to be harder for them. So they’ve done is they’ve altered their approaches. They’re doing things differently than they were three years ago, and that’s not surprising. Just as we go to school on them, they go to school on us.
Q: Well, do you have any sense of how large they are? Have we reduced their numbers or where we have them cornered at this moment?
Rumsfeld: Well, I wouldn’t use the word “cornered.” You don’t have somebody until you have them. And we’ve got a lot of effort going on, trying to capture the senior facilitators in al Qaeda and affiliated networks. The total numbers are very difficult to know. Some people are loosely affiliated, Ansar al-Islam, for example, in Iraq has been loosely affiliated with them and other organizations.
The thing we can’t know, really, is the number of people coming in the intake. How many people are being trained somewhere in a radical school by a radical leader, teaching them to go out and how they can kill innocent men, women and children. Well, you can’t know that. And therefore it’s hard to come up with a net assessment of it. But clearly, it’s more difficult for terrorists today than it was. On the other hand, if you think of the advantages that terrorists have, they can attack any place at any time, using any technique. There’s no way in the world the world can defend everywhere at every moment of the day or night. And that means they have that advantage. The other advantage they have is we’ve developed technologies and then we make them available in the world and the use those technologies. They’re using computers and cell phones and E-mails and various types of money transfers and the like.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you say that the numbers are hard to know, then how can you measure success in the war on terrorism? Clearly, since 9/11 we’ve had bombings in Turkey, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and then last week, in Spain. How are you measuring the U.S-led war on terror success?
Rumsfeld: It’s very hard to develop metrics that – a few number of metrics that you can have high confidence in. We try to have metrics and we develop them and we looked at them. But my point earlier is that it is very difficult to know how many are coming into that process at any given time. And I’ve always believed that the concept that the president put out at the outset is correct, namely, that it’s going to take all elements of national power on the part of many, many nations, working on this over a sustained period of time. It’s not something that’s going to come easily and it’s not something that’s going to be over in a year or two. It’s a very serious fundamental problem that a group of people, radicals, are trying to hijack a religions and persuade people that it is in their interest to go out and kill innocent men, women and children. And it is not in their interest or the world’s interest.
Q: Mr. Secretary, on Iraq, there’s a unique poll done by several broadcast news organizations that showed that Iraqis have high hopes for the future. They’re optimistic. But that optimism is tempered by continued deep concern about security and jobs. What do you say to ordinary Iraqis who continue to be worried every day about security in Iraq and say security is not improving (inaudible)?
Rumsfeld: Well, security is uneven and it varies significant from – in different parts of the country, for example. It also differs – varies from month to month. We’ve seen the peaks and valleys. And I think what I would say to people in Iraq, if they’re concerned about security is they ought to be concerned. It’s a dangerous place. And it’s a battle in place and it has been for some time.
Many major cities were violent. A lot of cities in the United States and Europe had one homicide a day, on the average. That’s a lot. And the situation there is getting better every week, without question, in terms of schools and hospitals and clinics and the economy and the number of people getting jobs, the improvement in potable water and electricity, oil liftings. And yet, we continue to see that terrorists can be successful. They can go out and kill people and that’s not going to change. They’re going to be able to do that. And we can moderate it over time, but the idea that you can absolutely stop it, I think, is a bit of a reach.
We’ve got 200,000 Iraqis now who are providing security in that country. That’s more than the United States and all the coalition countries combined, and they’re doing a good job. And quite honestly a number of them are being killed. More are being killed than coalition forces. But they’re still in line. There are still recruits. They’re still going out every day. God bless them, it’s their country. They’re going to have to provide security for their country. And foreign troops aren’t going to do that over any sustained period of time. It’s going to be the Iraqis that are going to do it.
Q: Quick follow-up on the Iraqi security services, there’s concern that some of them don’t have the needed equipment they need to do the job, that they don’t have enough training and, in addition, there was an arrest of four suspected Iraqi police officers that may be implicated in the murder of coalition authority civilians. Any concern that you need to do more to train and that Iraqis…
Rumsfeld: I mean, first of all, you can’t vet that perfectly. You go to any major city in the United States and you’ll find a couple of policemen every year who are crooked and are fighting the system and on the wrong side of the law, so that’s going to happen. There’s no way to vet perfectly. Second, the training is uneven for the Iraqi security forces. The Army people are trained quite well and quite well-equipped. And that’s the most expensive and it takes the most time. The border patrol and the police are uneven, in terms of the number of days they’ve gotten trained. We’d like about eight to 10 weeks for the police. And in some cases, they’ve received three or four, put out on the street and then they’re going to become back in and recycled, as we have enough trainers.
The equipment is a matter of money. And it’s been – we now have put security under the Central Command. They’re going to see that it gets done. It will get done. It will always be imperfect, but we’ll constantly be training these folks and constantly improving their equipment and their techniques. But the biggest value is when they do joint patrols with our folks. Our folks do very well with them and we benefit because of their situational awareness, their knowledge of the language, knowledge of the community and the street. And so we benefit from having this and they benefit because they see professionals operating learn how to do it.
Q: Mr. Secretary, unclear what kind of interim government the U.S. will hand authority to on June 30th. Given that you have more than 100,000 U.S. troops on the ground, at what point do you say the Iraqis have some say about how many Americans are there or when we leave or how we deploy those troops. Do they have any authority over American forces, once they take power?
Rumsfeld: Well, there’s a U.N. resolution that bears on this. And, clearly, we’ve got, as you say, 112,000 people there and the coalition of many thousands more. The Iraqis we’ve met with on Governing Council have asked us to stay. They have said they need us there and to provide security and assist with security and as well to help raise money from the international community and to do the things that we’re doing. We have no desire to stay there forever.
And on the other hand, the president said he would stay as long as was appropriate and necessary and not a day longer. And what we will do is to work with the Iraqis, as we go forward. We – obviously, if we’re going to be there, we’ve got to have unity of command. We’ve got to have flexibility to go after terrorists and run them down and deal with them. And certainly, a sovereign government, at some point, will decide how it wants to do that, what that interaction ought to be. And as far as we’re concerned, that’s fine.
Q: Spain’s prime minister-elect has said he may pull his country’s 1,300 troops out of Iraq by July. Is there a concern that any pull out by Spain would make it harder to get NATO involved in taking over control of the international division in the south? The administration has said that’s the goal, to eventually have NATO take that over. Does that make your job harder to get NATO involved?
Rumsfeld: Oh, I wouldn’t think so. We’ll see. At the present time, there are 26 NATO nations or invitee nations. And of those, 19 have troops either in Iraq or Afghanistan or both, so it’s a very broadly based NATO coalition that’s going on. The first priority for NATO is to – they have taken over the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. Then they’re going to take over the provincial reconstruction teams and then they may very well begin taking over some of the sectors, leaving the difficult work to the U.S. and the coalition.
The next thing in the queue for NATO is possibly, as you say, they’ve been supporting the Spanish – the Polish division already -- and is to consider the possibility of taking over that sector. We’ll see. It would be something that would happen immediately anyway.
Q: How worried are you about Spain pulling out its troops? Doesn’t that send that signal to other allies?
Rumsfeld: Well, in life if you go back in history, there have always been some nations that have stepped up and some nations that have made different decision. And the world goes on. It’s too bad. The Spanish contribution in NATO and in Iraq has been important. It’s been valuable. And I don’t believe they’ve said quite what you said. I think they have also – they’ve indicated that there may be something they could do there. And we’ll see how…
Q: So (inaudible) if the U.N. should come in and play a greater role? Are you working on that now?
Rumsfeld: We’ve been working the U.N. from the very beginning.
Q: You would give them some authority over the use of the troops and how the troops are working?
Rumsfeld: I think that any U.N. command in the – in Iraq with the United States having 113,000 troops there would be a U.S. commander, so it wouldn’t be a NATO force, if you will. It’s not going to be a blue (inaudible) force if the U.N. passes a resolution. It would be a coalition – a U.N.-endorsed multinational force led by the United States.
Q: I’m giving a (inaudible). Let me just ask a couple quick questions here. One is about border crossings and you’ve got 16, I think, of 19 border crossings with Iran that you’re closing off now. So do you think that the Iranian government is encouraging or sanctioning violence inside Iraq?
Rumsfeld: They’ve been, notably, unhelpful.
Q: Can you elaborate on this? What do you think?
Rumsfeld: Well, they’ve been unhelpful. They housed the Ansar al-Islam crowd, when they left Iraq and went into Iraq and into Iran and now they’re back, they’re performing terrorist acts and it’s not helpful. They have their own interests and they’re not coincident with the people of Iraq, in my view. And my guess is in the last analysis, the people of Iraq will decide they want to be governed by Iraqis and not by Iranians.
Q: Any evidence that the violence during the Ashoura festivals came from anyone inside Iran and are these closings of the 16 of the 19 border crossings are a reaction to that?
Rumsfeld: I wouldn’t want to get into that question as to what caused that, but I wouldn’t suggest that. I think what’s happening on the borders is a reality. We’re having trouble with our borders in the United States. A border is a tough thing. There are also particularly tough things in that part of the world. And we know they are foreign terrorists that are coming into that country, particularly from Syria and Iran. And we don’t like it and we’re going to do what we can to work with our friendly neighbors in that part of the world to see that their borders are as secure as possible – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan Kuwait and the like. And we’re going to do what we have to do to see if we can do a better job of sealing the borders with Syria an Iran.
Q: Mr. Secretary, in terms of looking for Osama Bin Laden, there’s some who say, oh, it’s political. It’s a political year. They want to have a big surprise in the fall where they find Osama Bin Laden.
Rumsfeld: Oh, that’s nonsense, Juan (sp). (Inaudible) do this. If we could catch that guy last year, we would have caught him. If we can catch today, we’d catch him. We’d catch -- him two years from now, we’ll catch him.
Q: No added…
Rumsfeld: That’s utter nonsense.
Q: No added investment of troops or manpower at this juncture.
Rumsfeld: Every year there are – when the snows melt, the enemies, the terrorists get more active and we get more active and season’s coming, that’s all. It’s no big deal. It’s being a bunch of people hyperventilating.
Q: And if…
Q: If Mr. Bush wins re-election, do you want to stay for a second term ?
Rumsfeld: Good to see you.
Q: You don’t want to answer that one?
Unknown: Thank you, sir.
Q: Appreciate your time.
Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Rumsfeld: Thank you.
Interview with Lars Larson, KXL-AM Portland Ore.
Q: Thirteen hours a day. And you play squash?
Rumsfeld: I do. I play it frequently with this fellow.
Q: Yeah? Now he’s just a little bit younger than you, right?
Unknown: Two or three years.
Rumsfeld: (Inaudible) half my age.
Q: How is the war on terrorism going?
Rumsfeld: We’re doing well. It’s tough. It’s a tough business and we’re so fortunate that we have so many wonderful young men and women who volunteer to serve in the Armed Forces and go out to remote places halfway across the globe to serve the country and to help the advance the cause of freedom and defend our people.
Q: When the main part of this fight is over in Iraq and many of them are able to come home, are we going to be able to convince a lot of those young men and women to stay with military service?
Rumsfeld: You bet. They’re proud of what they’re doing. They know its important work and I talked to them in all of those countries over there and I talked to them in this country. And I must say, morale is high. They feel they’re doing something enormously important, and they are, and God bless them for it.
Q: Are you and your boss able to get that story out effectively, though? Because you hear people in the public who watch their television news and read the newspaper and they get a whole different story. And I think some of them are persuaded by it. I’m not. But I see that they are. Many of them call me up and they say, “But it’s going so badly over there, we’re hated over there, nobody wants to be over there, it’s horrible.” And there, you know, 40 percent of the American public is running around telling that story. Why can’t we get the effective story out?
Rumsfeld: Well, I think we do. I think that, you know, we’ve seen, I suppose, 100, 150 members of the House and Senate of the United States Congress over there and I meet with a lot of them when they come back and almost every single one of them says they’re just amazed at the difference between what they find in Afghanistan and Iraq and what they believed they would find, having watched television here in the United States. It’s a different world what’s happening over there. And why is that? I guess I don’t know why it is exactly, except that apparently bad news is news and good news isn’t news.
But the fact that, within one year – well, take Afghanistan. I mean, here Afghanistan, as a country that was savaged by civil war, occupation by the Soviet Union, drought, and repeated warfare and occupation by the Taliban a vicious, vicious dictatorship. And today they have a democratic government. They have a constitution. They are giving women’s rights, they’re planning for an election later this year. They’re successfully dealing with the terrorists that are trying to come across the Pakistani and Iranian borders and it’s a big success story.
(inaudible) go look at Iraq. I mean, one-year goal this week, the attack on Iraq took place, because Saddam Hussein chose war instead of peace. He didn’t do what Libya is doing today and opened himself up and say, “Come in and see what we have.”
And here we are a year later and the schools are open, the hospitals are working. There is no refugee problem or internally displaced person problem. They’ve got a Central Bank. They’ve got a new currency. They’ve got 200,000 Iraqis out providing security for the people. Are people still being killed, yes. Is it still a dangerous place, yes. But we have a lot of cities in the United States that – where there’s a homicide every day. So it’s a violent part of the world and it’s a tough part of the world. It’s a part of the world that’s not used to democracy, but they just fashioned a new constitution --- an interim constitution. So there’s good things happening.
Q: How do you get people to sign up for the Iraqi military, when you look at this? I mean, it’s tough to get Americans to sign up to serve in the military. There are people who do it, but there are times when some of our branches of the service have some files that are unfilled and they’d like to get more people in and recruiting isn’t where some of the units would like it to be. I mean you’ve got people signing up for the military in Iraq, where you can sign up today and be dead tomorrow, because they’re trying to blow up police stations and military units.
Rumsfeld: Well, first, with respect to the U.S. military, we’re meeting all of our recruiting goals and our retention goals except for one, I believe. And so we’ve got a very high morale of circumstances today, notwithstanding the few anecdotes you read from time to time, where some person writes a letter and (inaudible) I’m happy because something fell between the cracks. And it’s not a perfect system, but it’s a good system and it’s working pretty well for folks.
The Iraqis are interesting. To go from zero about six months ago, to 206,000 Iraqis…
Q: That’s 1 percent of the population, right?
Rumsfeld: Twenty five million people.
Q: Not quite 1 percent.
Rumsfeld: So here they are…
Q: (a big) number.
Rumsfeld: … they’re standing in line to – I went to a police academy there two weeks ago, and they are cheering, they are up. It was graduation day. And I spoke to them and they were leaning off the balconies, waving and yelling and ready to go. And you’re quite right, the Iraqi Security Forces are being killed. They’re out. They’re not hiding in their barracks. They’re out there. They’re in the streets. They’re out there with our people. And God bless them for it. It’s their country and they’re going to have to provide the security for that country and they’re going to provide the security for their country. Foreign troops aren’t going to stay there forever.
Q: Well, let me ask you about something else. The Russians have a problem with Muslim fanatics, too, in Chechnya. Now we give them a hard time about how they handled the problem and yet we’ve got the same kind of problem, you know, to a certain extent, and we’ve gone out and said, you know, if you attack our country, if you provide -- if you pose a security threat to our country, we’re going to come after you.
Rumsfeld: That’s right.
Q: What’s the difference?
Rumsfeld: Well, I don’t know. I’m not an expert on the problem in Chechnya. The argument that some people have made have been human rights arguments. And that’s – not that the Russian government should not go after terrorists, but that there are certain human rights issues that have raised by human rights people who have that concern in that country. That’s what the issue has been. The Russians have been attacked by Chechens. There’s no question about that. And (inaudible) any country has the right to self-defense.
Q: Thirteen bombs are planted, 10 go off, 200 people die immediately, 1,000 people are wounded in Madrid, Spain. The Spanish election goes a way nobody would have expected it to before those bombs went off. And the new government says, you know, we have no use for this stuff that the United States got us into. We’ll pull out. We’ll pull Spain out of what we went into with the United States. It’s got to give you reason for concern.
Rumsfeld: First of all, it’s not clear to me that your election analysis is correct there.
Rumsfeld: There information I’ve seen suggested that the opposition was closing rapidly on the incumbent party before the bombings took place.
Q: And they just simply eclipsed – that helped them eclipse?
Rumsfeld: I don’t know. I don’t know.
Rumsfeld: I know I don’t know. The second thing I’m told is that after the bombings, there was criticism of the government because of their conclusion as to what caused it.
Q: That it was ETA, originally?
Rumsfeld: And now that – I don’t know about that either. All I know is that the Spanish government has been terrific and the Spanish people have been terrific. And the forces that they have in Iraq have been doing a great job. And we’ve been delighted to have them there.
Q: I guess I’m just worried that some of these countries that may be a little bit close to the edge of where there’s a population that’s concerned about their involvement could be pushed over to the other side – pushed over to not supporting the global war on terrorism by those kinds of acts and that that will further embolden the bad guys?
Rumsfeld: It’s interesting. I suppose every one of your listeners group up somewhere in a town where there was a bully. And the bully was beating up on people and the people watching the bully beat up on that person, some of them said, “Gee, I’m not going to get involved, I don’t want to have the bully turn on me,” and they looked the other way. And others said, “That’s wrong, that bully beating up on that person, and let’s go help that person.”
We’ve always had people who’ve chosen different paths. And the idea that for very long anyone can escape the attention of the bully, in this case, international terrorists who want to kill innocent men, women and children. The idea that you can escape their attention for very long is naïve. It’s historically inaccurate. It doesn’t work. It simply doesn’t work.
And the only way to deal with terrorists is to not think you can defend against them or put your head in the sand and pretend they’re not there and they’ll got kill somebody other than you. The only way you can…
Q: It might work short term.
Rumsfeld: Exactly. It will work short term. But it won’t work long term. And it is – the history of our world, just in my long lifetime, is replete with examples of countries that have tried to do that and failed and suffered for it.
Q: What would you like to have for those men and women who are serving this country, that you don’t have right now, that you’d like the Congress and the American people and the taxpayers or Capitol Hill to give you?
Rumsfeld: Oh, goodness. You know, I think what the president said to that young Ashley Pearson is about right. If the American people would just do what they’re doing and every time they see someone in uniform walk up and look them in the eye and say, “thank you,” that’s pretty good.
Q: We were just talking to General Myers about an issue that came up back – closer to home in Oregon. We had a group of National Guardsmen deployed. They were ready to go over. And then they were told, well, it’s going to be three more weeks before you go, but they were in Louisiana. And they said, go home and see your families, but you’re going to have to get there on your own. Should that be one of those things that the American taxpayer pays for, when we’ve got people deployed to get them home to their families?
Rumsfeld: We do a lot of that. We have rules, passed by Congress and many of the people over there have given a mid-time leave where they can get some time out of Iraq and have an opportunity to do that. I don’t know the situation.
Q: I’d pay more taxes, as a taxpayer and I pay a lot right now. I’d pay more to get those people home.
Rumsfeld: Well, I think you all would.
Q: I mean, I – well. Anything else you want to ask for?
Rumsfeld: No, but I’m delighted you’re here. Welcome to the Pentagon. Come back.
Q: It’s great to be in your house.
Rumsfeld: And we appreciate what you’re doing.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, thank you very much for your time.
It’s about 29 minutes after the hour. We’ll take more of your phone calls here in just a moment and…
Interview with Lockwood Phillips, WTKF-AM, Greenville N.C.
Q: Viewpoints here on the talk station, FM 107.3 and AM 1240, Lockwood Phillips joined by my morning cohort, Ben Ball here at the Pentagon. We are enjoying Pentagon days here with the – pardon me, -- Radio Days here at the Pentagon and we are joined now by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
And Mr. Secretary, thank you for taking the time to be with us. We appreciate it.
Rumsfeld: Thank you. Delighted to be here.
Q: I’m, of course, very impressed with the amount of work that’s gone into this effort. The Pentagon, the entire staff has done an excellent job in trying to make everyone accessible to us and we appreciate your taking the time to be accessible with us, as well.
It’s been an interesting year. We are now facing, obviously, what looks like a wind down in the war. I said “looks like” in Iraqi Freedom and of course, in Enduring Freedom there in Afghanistan. And I’ve been wanting to ask this one question. If, in fact, we do capture Osama in Afghanistan in the next whatever period of time, will the war on terror be over?
Rumsfeld: No, it will not. It’d be nice to capture him or kill him. He’s a person who’s killed some 3,000 Americans and wants to kill more. It is regrettable, however, but the reality is that the al Qaeda is a loose network. It’s got a lot of affiliates and while would it be terrific to capture him or kill him, the idea that terrorism would disappear at that point I thin, would be misunderstanding. I’m afraid the global war on terror is something that’s going to take some time and it’s going take all elements of national power. And we’re going to have to pursue it for some period.
We were talking last week, as a matter of fact, with General Doug O'Dell, who is the commander of the 4th MEB, Marine Expeditionary Brigade, the anti-terrorist brigade. And he commented in our conversation – our interview that in reality we’re fighting a new concept in warfare. We’re engaging in a new concept that the Cold War mentality, it no longer applies. And I’ve heard you, pretty much, say the same thing.
What we have learned in this past year or actually three years?
Rumsfeld: Well, he’s right on the mark. The Department of Defense really was organized, trained and equipped to fight major Armies, Navies, and Air Forces. And clearly, what we’re dealing with today is not that. We’re dealing with something quite different. We’re dealing with what military experts characterize as asymmetric threats – threats that are different. They are not conventional. Terrorism is obviously one of them and cyber attacks another.
Q: It’s going to take a new approach to defending and/or prosecuting our engagements against those…
Rumsfeld: It does. It takes different organizational arrangements. It takes different equipment. It takes a different mindset. It takes much greater agility and precision.
Q: We’ve been seeing changes both in the defense expenditures. Will we be seeing a great deal more in the future?
Rumsfeld: Yes, no question. It’s a continuum. Transformation is not something you start in an untransformed state and go to a transformed state. It is going to be a continuum over a sustained period of time that we’re going to have to adapt. The terrorists go to school on us. They watch what we do. We watch what they do. And there’s a continual adjustment that’s taking place on each side and it’s a challenge, it’s a task. It’s not easy. And so you’re going to continue to see changes as we go forward.
Q: Again, our guest is Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. And Mr. Secretary, of course, the issue in Eastern Northern Carolina as related to the manpower issues with what we face with our Marines. We have 1,500 Marines in Haiti…
Q: Sixteen hundred, yes. Right, 1,600 Marines in Haiti and we just had a contention. We turned to Iraq. Will there be an adjustment in manpower? Do we anticipate in the near term?
Rumsfeld: We’ve been increasing manpower over the last two years. People seem not to be aware of it. But under the emergency authorities the president has, by declaring a national emergency, we’ve been continually increasing the number of men and women in the Armed Forces over this period. We have also been, of course, using extensively the Guard and Reserve, which is what they’re there for is for a crisis like this or the situation. And we’ve just had wonderful reaction. Our recruiting and retention goals are all being met. We’ve been able to make the kinds of deployments of Guard and Reserve. Every one of those people is a volunteer. Ever single one of them volunteered. No one is there because they didn’t want to be there, and that’s a wonderful thing.
Q: Regarding the issue of, of course, assets. I mean, one of the issues that are concerning any community with a military installation is that of BRAC, the Base Realignment and Closure.
Q: And will this new approach to warfare have a significant impact on what we can expect in our communities and, if so, how can the communities respond and react to the needs of this new military?
Rumsfeld: Well, one of the things is that, of course, with improved communications and transportation, we’re going to be able to have a somewhat higher percentage of our forces in the United States than before. We’re able today with the end of the Cold War and with the need to be able to move anywhere, we’re able to bring some of those folks home and we’re going to be doing that and that’s a good thing. It means there’ll be fewer permanent changes of station, less disruption on families, fewer kids getting pulled out of school in the middle of high school and the like, better opportunities for spouses to work and be employed and not have to keep moving too frequently. So there’ll be fewer permanent changes of station, is one thing and I think that’s a good thing.
Q: Will there be a change in skills sets? General Myers was mentioning a few moments ago, the chairman of joint chiefs of staff, that we’re looking at a change in skill sets as well. So again…
Q: …will the facilities have to accommodate those new skill sets? For example – and I’m just going to use an example, please and I’m not going to try to put you in a bad position – heavy equipment, for example. You’re looking for a – and I’ve heard you say, you’re looking for a more mobile…
Q: … (inaudible).
Rumsfeld: Looking forward to more (inaudible) where we have to have – (inaudible) be a re-balancing the Guard and Reserve or the Active force and moving some skill sets from one to the other because we’ve had to, you know, deploy and active and mobilize some Guard and Reserve units more frequently than we’d like, because the skill sets they have are in short supply in the active force, so we’re going to change that. We’re going to give more of those skills sets in the active force, so that the fewer of those people have to be deployed more than once every – some period of years.
Q: After 9/11, it was clear that this administration and you, in particular, saw terrorism as an act of war and not a criminal – instead of a criminal act. Has that changed in how your department also reacts to terrorism?
Rumsfeld: Well, it’s been interesting. You’re exactly right. That’s what we have had to do. And it’s been a hard transition for the American people and for people of other countries to understand that. I mean, terrorists who goes out and kills men and women and children and it’s part of the network, it is not someone who robbed a bank or someone who stole a car. And the task isn’t to put them in jail or punish them for doing that. The task is to grab them, get them off the battlefield, keep them from killing more people and restrain him and, simultaneously, interrogate him and find out what in the world he knows as to where his other terrorists are, how we can prevent other terrorist acts. So it takes quite a different mindset. We are all, of course, we’re so used to Article 3 of our Constitution of the criminal justice system that we tend to equate everything we do with that. And of course, it’s – this really is more like World War II, where you have a sustained period of time, where you have enemy combatants, and you put them into a camp and isolate them from the war, so they can’t go back out and kill more of your people.
Q: We’re looking at a change or a paradigm shift and I was hoping not to use that term. But in the concept of warfare, this is a whole new model, particularly with terrorism. Is the Defense Department looking forward and trying to anticipate what might be the model after this because, obviously, you’re being asked to respond and react immediately in circumstances that have no boundaries, quite often.
Rumsfeld: So when you think about it, we were attacked on September 11th and we began operations, I believe, I Afghanistan on October 7th.
Rumsfeld: Very rapidly.
Q: Very rapidly, very rapidly. And you did something that shocked everybody, by inserting Marines 400 miles inland (Chuckles.) I didn’t notice any water flapping into shores of Afghanistan (Chuckles.)
Rumsfeld: It was not the amphibious landing.
Q: No it was not.
Rumsfeld: (Chuckles.) That was an amazing feat.
Q: We are, in fact, fighting an enemy that is totally decentralized. I mean, and we tend to think in our American minds that of leaders from top down, because we have that. So that requires a whole different way of thinking.
Rumsfeld: Exactly right. It is a new world – it’s a new century with a new set of problems. And one of the reasons we – I don’t want to use jargon – but one of the things we’ve done is we’ve kind of moved from a threat-based model to a capabilities-based model. That is to say, instead of thinking that the threat conceivably could come from country X in a certain time, we look at it and say to ourselves, what are the kinds of capabilities that can today be employed against us and how might they be employed, regardless of where they could come from and what might we do about that? And so, we have folks thinking at it from a quite different vantage point.
Q: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. We appreciate it. Again, our guest, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and we do appreciate this opportunity to speak with you and again our congratulations to the Pentagon for outstanding work today on Radio Days.
Rumsfeld: Thank you.
Q: Thanks. And we’ll be back in just a moment here on Viewpoint.
Viewpoint’s here on talk station FM 1073, AM 1240 and 910.
Interview with Marc Bernier, WNDB-AM, Daytona, Fl.
Q: … joins us again for a second time in about two months with us since the last time at the White House and he joins us. And I think I remember the secretary’s settings from our last time, so make sure I don’t have them up too high.
All right, Mr. Secretary, good to see you.
Rumsfeld: I’m very loud, but good to see you.
Q: Yeah, bring them down. There you go.
I got to tell you, I come at this from a bias end of it. You’re one of my favorite people and have been for a long time.
Rumsfeld: (Chuckles.) Thank you. That was very nice.
Q: Liked you in the private sector and like the things you did. I mean, my first, was coming out of college during the Ford administration when you served there.
Q: And this work that you do, which I know that you’ve enjoyed so much, has questions that come with it. Can you help me with this one? I get this from radio listeners. How can we have a proper defense if we still have the poirest border with Mexico in which folks who have the weapons might want to just try to walk across one of these open areas? How do we defend against that and shouldn’t we make that our first line of defense?
Rumsfeld: Well, we – the United States has done a great deal since September 11th to address the border issues. In fact, it started years before with the drug problem and the concern about drugs coming in over those borders. And so, improvements were made over a period of a decade or two. A border is a very difficult problem. We know that the border has some porous aspects to it in the north and the south. We’ve been fortunate because we’ve had friendly neighbors, so we haven’t had to worry about big Armies, Navies or Air Forces coming across those borders. But in terms of terrorists, that’s a vulnerability. There’s no question about it. And so, our country has it made a major interest and concern and in invested a good deal to try to reduce the threats and dangers that conceivably could come across those borders.
Q: Have you ever entertained the idea yourself, Mr. Secretary, of American military being on our borders? Has that ever been an option or you don’t think it’s good policy?
Rumsfeld: You know, we’ve cooperated with the people who have that responsibility, but in terms of actually switching the border patrol to a military task, it’s a static job. It can be done by people who are good at that. We’ve got good border patrol. And it is a matter of access and visas and passports and control points and checking vehicles and trucks. And – for example, we helped out with the airports, the Department of Defense did, right after September 11th, because there was no one else that could do it immediately. But I did it on the basis that, look, we’ve got a different job. And what we’ll do is we’ll agree to do it for X number of months with the understanding that the people’s responsibility of the airports really are would go ahead and start hiring and recruiting and training and deploying people who could relieve of that responsibility. So if you back in September 12th and thereafter for a period of months, you saw a lot of the military people in airports. You don’t see them there anymore. They’ve got people who can do that specific job.
Q: On Sunday’s Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer, Melody (sp) and I were watching and said, “I recognize that guy.” Thirty years ago, (inaudible).
Q: It was good footage. It was good stuff, because I think you’ve been on Face the Nation a bunch of times.
Q: The question came up. Bob asked you the question and I think he handled it pretty well. I don’t know how this gets started -- people saying that we sent American service personnel to combat without having the right type of protection – the body armor and that people were actually using their own money to buy it. Does that ever happen, Mr. Secretary?
Rumsfeld: Let me put it into context. First of all, I think if you talk to anyone who has served in the military in any war, they would tell you that it has gone on since the beginning of mankind, that in every war, there’s always some little thing that some service person would like to have and they go out and they buy it. And I remember talking to Ted Stevens, who was flying cargo planes in the China theater in World War II – he’s a senator from Alaska –
Rumsfeld: And Ted said, “My gosh, all of us went out to the store and we’d get a different pair of boots or we’d get something else.” In the case of body armor, let me explain what happened there. Everyone – we had plenty of body armor, in terms of the basic armor – and it had a capability of dealing with a certain caliber bullet.
And it was decided that it would be desirable to create a pouch in it so that you could put an insert in that would give you extra protection, so everyone already always had the body armor. What they didn’t have were the inserts, because it was a new thing. And what some company had developed was a quite light insert – people didn’t like heavier inserts, so they didn’t have them. But once you decide that there was a company that could make some light body armor inserts, they start making it and they make it as fast as they can. And so then they started supplying it.
And at that moment, when they started supplying it, everybody didn’t have it, obviously, you’re just starting to supply it. And then they began to give it first to the people who were out – dismounted. They were not in a vehicle. And it became very clear, rather rapidly in Iraq that the people in vehicles were also vulnerable. And as a result the combat support, a well as the combat personnel to combat support people, decided it would be a good idea to have that, as well. And pretty soon, they started making sure that they had it also. I think – I forget when the date is, but at the moment there, anyone who’s going out on duty has it and they take it from people who are not currently on duty. And within a very short period of time, where everyone will have or whatever is needed there.
Q: Is the same explanation to the Humvee issue, that story that came out?
Rumsfeld: Up-armored Humvee, sure. Yeah. They’re always finding improvements and what they’ve done is they’ve now found a way to armor the Humvees to a higher degree now. Is that body armor going to protect you from everything, no. Your extremities are still open. A weapon that exceeds the caliber that the inserts will deal with effectively is still going to cause damage – same thing with the up-armored Humvee. Nothing’s perfect and everything’s constantly being improved.
Q: Well, I know that there was this photograph in the paper the other day, Mr. Secretary, that shows that now they’ve come up with something for the soldier that looks like it would protect their legs, make them almost like a robot.
Q: Is that another one of these types of innovative ideas?
Rumsfeld: I don’t know what you saw.
Q: I saw a photo that seems to protect their backside, their legs and to give them added padding, added protection also to take some of the strain off from their marching. Maybe you can comment on this idea, though? We’re hearing that there’s been some study as to how American service personnel might be able to function, when they get very little sleep and that they may be able to take something – this was in the news in the last few weeks – that gives them the ability to go on for longer periods, without sleep. That’s a scary prospect for me. If I don’t get my eight hours, look out.
Rumsfeld: (Laughs.) You know, it’s interesting, back in World War II, there were stories that the Germans had developed a product that would help their pilots at night and give them heightened sensitivity and enable them to fly for longer periods. And the government, as I recall, put money into some pharmaceutical companies in the United States to try to see if we could develop something like that. And from time to time, people who used -- in situations of stress and sustained duty people have used some things that have been helpful but as a general rule for the normal people in the military, it’s not something that appropriate.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, when we turn power over to the Iraqis in the next couple of months, will they be allowed to raise a standing army and how do we separate the good guys from the bad buys?
Rumsfeld: It’s not easy. We have to, so-called, vet them. We have to run them through a series of screens, databanks. We’re already developing an Iraqi Army. We’ve got wonderful folks over there training at the present time and they’ve got a battalion that’s already out on the street working. And others are being trained and equipped and barracks are being built for them and we’re using more junior officers. They had thousands of generals in the Iraqi Army and all of them were Ba’athists, all of them were associated with Saddam Hussein in one way or another. And what we’re doing is we’re very carefully selecting the leadership -- the younger members of the Armed Forces, for the full (inaudible) was conscripts in Iraq and there were people who (inaudible) against their will. They were forced. And so, we’re going to get a decent Iraqi Army going pretty fast and it’s already under way.
Q: Are we – we’re watching the situation in Iran with their own building of nuclear capability. You know, we’re already in that theater. How closely are we watching that and how much of a threat are they to us, Secretary Rumsfeld?
Rumsfeld: Well, of course, it’s a big country and it is ruled by a handful of clerics that are engaged in terrorism. They are supplying Syrians with Hezbollah -- the terrorist group Hezbollah and Hamas – with equipment and weapons on a regular basis there and have harbored al Qaeda in Iran and have been unhelpful to what we’re trying to accomplish by moving towards a democratic system in Iraq. They don’t wish the Iraqi people well. And what we have to do is make sure that the Iraqi people have the ability to have their own government that’s ruled by Iraqis and not by Iranians.
Q: Do you feel confident we’ll find Osama Bin Laden by (inaudible).
Rumsfeld: No. No. I’ve lived so many years in my life. The last thing I’d do is put artificial deadlines up. Well, I wouldn’t think of it. I have no idea when we’ll find him. We wanted to find him two years ago. And I’d love to find him tomorrow, but when it’ll happen, I just don’t know. He’s clever, he’s wealthy. If he’s still alive. I don’t know if he’s even alive, for sure. We haven’t see hide nor hair of them for several months.
Q: Syria – we had Senator Bob Graham from our state of Florida say over a year ago, that he thought Syria was more of a threat, even before we got into it with Iraq here at this one-year point. We don’t hear to much about Syria. Are they behaving themselves?
Rumsfeld: No. Syria is not behaving. Syria has also harbored terrorists. It’s harbored Ba’athists from Iraq who’ve gone up there and been assisted by Syria. Their border has served to supply foreign terrorists coming into Iraq to kill innocent men, women and Iraqis as well as coalition people. They have been uncooperative with the assets that the Iraqis had in Syrian banks, frozen assets which they should have turned over to the Iraqi people and the Iraqi Governing Council and they’ve not done that. There’s a long list of things that they’ve done, that put them on the wrong side as a terrorist state. And they are occupying Lebanon at the present time, with their people, their military people and they’re intelligence people. And my view is that that government’s making a mistake.
Q: Finally, the last time we met in January, you said you felt confident that we were working toward resolving this issue with North Korea, in terms of what they’re developing and what kind of a threat they are. And ‘lo and behold, there’s an impeachment in South Korea, where they throw their leader out. Does that put another fly in the ointment, Mr. Secretary, in terms of the (inaudible) of the peninsula?
Rumsfeld: I don’t know. You probably have a better memory than I do, but I don’t remember saying I had confident it would work out. I think I said I had confidence that the president was on the right track, using the diplomatic path. And the – it’s a strange situation with North Korea. Fortunately, we still have China, Russia, South Korea, Japan and the United States working cooperatively together to try to encourage the North Korean government to behave in a responsible, civil way. And they – some progress has been made, some meetings have been held, but nothing has been accomplished that would be reassuring to the world that they would stop their current selling of ballistic missile technologies, stop their development of nuclear weapons, stop their use of counterfeit money, stop their sale of illicit drugs all over the world. This is a regime that’s an outcast in the world. It’s not a part of the world community. The people are starving. The people are in concentration camps. The situation is so serious in North Korea that they’ve lowered the height that people can get into the North Korean military down to 4’10”, under 100 pounds, because they haven’t gotten enough calories, as young people. It’s a tragic thing.
Here you’ve got above the demilitarized zone, you’ve got a tragedy, a human tragedy and repression and concentration camps and starvation. And below it you’ve gotten South Korea, which has got a robust economy in a democracy and it’s very much engaged in the world, are the same people with the same resources, with the same opportunities. And the gross domestic product of South Korea is 28 or 30 times what it is in the (inaudible). It’s just amazing.
Q: Secretary of Defense, The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld, always a pleasure to have you with us on the Mark Pernia (sp) Show. Stay in good health, Mr. Secretary. Good seeing you, sir.
Rumsfeld: Thank you. Good to see you.
Q: Thank you. We are going to pause for news…
Calls in the next hour.
Interview with Paul Berry, WTNT-AM, Washington
Q: Thank you for joining us. It’s a pleasure. This is Bob Stewart (sp), our producer and Ed Gold (sp) our engineer.
Rumsfeld: Hi, Ed.
Q: Mr. Secretary, how are you, sir ?
Unknown: Yes, I know this gentleman. Nice to see you.
Rumsfeld: This guys has been following me around.
Rumsfeld: He’s getting me in more trouble. I got to watch my language everywhere.
Unknown: Are we two minutes out – 6 o’clock?
Unknown: Yeah, probably about that.
Unknown: All right, then we’ll be about a minute away.
Unknown: A minute away, Paul (sp).
Unknown: Hey, Paul?
Unknown: Yes. If you want I can just run one, and (inaudible) and not.
Unknown: Yes, sir. I think we should run…
Unknown: As soon as we plan to do it.
Unknown: That’ll work.
So how are you?
Rumsfeld: I’m above average.
Q: That’s better – that’s good. That’s the way it ought to be. That’s right. Well, thank you very much. I saw you briefly and – at the White, when we were just kind of – I didn’t have the pleasure, but this is a privilege and pleasure and I’m glad (inaudible). Good to have you here.
I was – what year were you – the 13th, when…
Rumsfeld: I came here in ’57 as an assistant and then I was elected in ’62, ‘4, ‘6, and ‘8 back in the 13th District.
Q: 13th District.
Rumsfeld: 13th District. And then I was the 13th secretary of defense back in ’75, ‘6, and ‘7.
Q: All right. All right. I was anchoring. And I was on the anchor desk at Channel 7 and I came in in ’72. I started anchoring in ’75, so there about.
Rumsfeld: I was..
Q: How is that volume in there? That’s good?
Rumsfeld: It’s a little loud.
Q: A little loud.
Unknown: That’s a little better.
Rumsfeld: I was the ambassador of NATO over in Brussels in ’73, ‘4.
Q: Yeah. Well, I thought I was going to be here for three years and then go to New York and fell madly in love with the town and the people and I just never left.
Q: Radio Day at the Pentagon here on March 16, 2004. We’re very pleased to be here to be inside the Pentagon. The resiliency of the American people and its institutions is certainly evident here, as we have come inside this beautiful building, inside their new briefing room. And we’re actually in a room where you’ll see on a daily basis, the briefing by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Myers. And so here we sit. But we’ll go even one better, because not only are we in here sitting, but we’re sitting with the secretary. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, thanks so much for joining us.
Rumsfeld: Thank you very much, Paul (sp). It’s good to be with you.
Q: As I was coming down the hall, I saw the 13th picture. Things have changed, sir. (Chuckles.)
Rumsfeld: Oh, my.
Rumsfeld: That was a long time ago, when I was the 13th Secretary of Defense about 25 years, I guess, almost.
Q: Sure, sure.
Q: I said to General Myers and I’ll say to you, it was a few – it was 1968 I was in a fox hole in Vietnam and we were solving the problems of the world and I said at that point, I’m going to get a chance to get to the Pentagon and I’m going to see the secretary of defense and I’m going to tell him exactly what I think.
Rumsfeld: Well, here you are.
Q: And it only took 38 years, sir.
Rumsfeld: Swing away.
Q: Swing away. It’s a pleasure to be here. We are taking a pretty good swing at the world and we’re also taking some (inaudible) around the world. Are we safer today, sir. We are safer today than we were a year ago, as Americans?
Rumsfeld: Oh, I’m convinced we are. Are we ever completely safe, no, of course not. It’s a dangerous world. It’s a difficult world. It’s an untidy world. There are people out there that have been trained to be terrorists who go out and kill innocent men, women and children, as we saw in Spain so recently and as we’ve seen in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel. But we’re safer today, without question. We have 90 countries now working together that the coalition is probably the biggest coalition in the history of the world and these countries are putting pressure on terrorist networks all across the globe. They’re making it more difficult for them to raise money and move money. They’re making it more difficult to go across a border. They’re making it more difficult to recruit and retain their people. We’ve captured and killed large numbers. We’re sharing intelligence. The law enforcement agencies are interrogating people and sharing the information from the interrogations in a way that enables us to stop terrorist acts.
It’s amazing. On one instances, some materials were found in a mud hut in Afghanistan. And within a matter of weeks, it prevented three terrorist attacks in Singapore. Thanks to the cooperation of the Singapore government and the skill of the Singapore police. But it’s that fast, that that information can be shared (inaudible).
Q: It’s good to (inaudible), obviously. But also on the other side when something like this happens in Spain and here we have the prime minister-elect suggesting that – calling the U.S. “occupiers,” if you will. How badly has this hurt not only the mission, but the morale of the American fighting force?
Rumsfeld: Well, I don’t think it will hurt the morale of the American fighting force at all. You know, as long as people have been around, there have been people who’ve made different choices.
And we all grew up towns and there was always a bully and every once in a while, some people would want to turn their head, if the bully was beating up on somebody, they didn’t want to know about that. They were hoping the bully wouldn’t come after them. And on the other hand, other people said, “Gee, that isn’t right, let’s walk over there and see that that doesn’t happen and help that person who’s getting beat up on.”
And history shows that the approach of turning your head and pretending it’ll go away is – I think it was Churchill he used the phrase – “it’s like feeding a crocodile, hoping it eats you last,” and it doesn’t work.
Q: Doesn’t work that way.
Q: Indeed, it doesn’t work that way. The concern here, I suspect is – and I wonder if you have this concern that the al Qaeda if, in fact, they were responsible for this tragedy in Spain and it looks like they probably were. If they were, they did influence the political – the politic, which is what terrorists want to do. Does that not encourage them to think, well, you know what, the U.S. has an election in November. Are you concerned that this will embolden those who would do these kinds of terrible things, to act again against this country?
Rumsfeld: Well, sure. You’re always concerned. I get up every morning concerned about what’s going to happen next and try to do our very best to help see that the American people are secure and our friends and allies are secure. The…
Q: Are we in more danger then?
Rumsfeld: Weakness can be provocative. It can entice people into doing things. And success can entice them into doing it. First of all, let’s not – I don’t know yet which terrorist group did those acts in Spain.
Q: Aren’t you convinced that it probably was al Qaeda – al Qaeda?
Rumsfeld: I can’t do “probably,” I just can’t. But I just don’t know.
Q: But all the signs kind of point to (inaudible).
Rumsfeld: I just don’t know. Second, I’m told that the election was closing very rapidly towards the last – during the last week and it’s not clear that the terrorist acts did necessarily change the outcome of the election, although it’s possible. Would that encourage them to do something else, probably, possibly. I don’t think the American people or people of most country are going to be intimidated by terrorists. I think we’ve seen the resiliency and the strength of the American people over many decades. They’ve got a good center of gravity, you know, they’re strong. And they know the truth. And the truth is you can’t run. The only way to deal with terrorists is to go find them where they are and that’s what we’re doing and that’s what we have to do.
Q: Are you concerned about the strength in numbers that we have, Mr. Secretary? We are now engaged, certainly directly in Iraq and, to some degree, directly in Afghanistan. Haiti, we have a few troops – not too many – but certainly. Are you concerned that you have a fighting force that may be – that may need strengthening and that may need to be increased, if not through volunteerism, through conscription?
Rumsfeld: Oh, no. We won’t need conscription. We’ve got already 1.4 million men and women in uniform on active duty and we have another four, five, 600,000 in the Selective Reserve and we have another 4, 5, 600,000 in the individual Ready Reserve for a total of 2.4 million. And we’ve got 113,000 in Iraq and we’ve got a few thousand in Afghanistan. We’ve got 1,800 in Haiti. We’re perfectly capable of sustaining those numbers. Out of 2 – over two million to sustain 100,000? We can do that.
Q: Well, then why are we extending, as opposed to rotating through? If we have enough manpower, why are you ordering these men to stay over longer, as opposed to rotating and putting new people in place?
Rumsfeld: Well, several things. Number one, we are rotating and we’re not ordering them to stay longer. The tours are up to one year in Iraq and now up to one year in Afghanistan. And the total service for our Guard and Reserve might be longer than that because they would have to get mobilized. They have to get their health care fixed up. They have to get trained up and then they have to be de-mobilized. So – but the one year in Iraq has been, for the most part, I think there’s a few handfuls of people who served longer than that.
And you’ve got to remember, every one of these people is a volunteer. They’re all – they’re doing this because they want to do it. They do it because they signed up to do it. And they’re proud of doing what they’re doing.
Q: Well, some of those guards people were caught a little bit by surprise, who thought might be doing a little weekend warrior. And they’re doing a year, sir. That’s a little difference.
Rumsfeld: I as in the Navy Reserve as a pilot for many, many years. And we always knew we were signed up for one weekend a month, two weeks a year active duty and the potential for a call-up. And there’s enormous numbers of these folks that are actually volunteering, not just to be in the Guard and Reserve and the active force, but they’re volunteering to go over to Iraq or Afghanistan. And so, while there’s – you may have 113, 000 people in Iraq right now, a large number of volunteers in the Guard and Reserve of those, they wanted to go.
Q: Mr. Secretary, (inaudible) talk the difference between when I was serving, for instance, in Vietnam and today. The communications is immediate.
Rumsfeld: Isn’t it?
Q: It is. I mean, there’s nothing that we don’t – that they don’t know the troops don’t know, you know, whereas in Vietnam, it took us six weeks to find out what was happening. So my question is what impact is this having on the willingness of our soldiers? I mean, they know what you know almost as quickly as you know it. How is that impacting…
Rumsfeld: The biggest single change in the 30 years, since I was secretary of defense back in the 1970s is the fact that we have 24-hours news, seven days a week. And just instantaneous communications through E-mails and through television and through radio. And it’s – on the one hand, it makes life difficult. On the other hand, it’s wonderful.
Q: (Inaudible) I mean, it makes difficult in terms of…
Rumsfeld: Well, there’s so much…
Q: … managing.
Rumsfeld: … so much misinformation that is communicated. I must say, there’s not a day that I watch television that I don’t see something that is totally inaccurate or imbalanced and not well-presented. Now, what does that mean? It means that people are hearing and seeing things all the time that aren’t correct. When I talk to members of the House and Senate over 125 or 30 of them had been over to Iraq and Afghanistan, they come back and they’re just dumb-founded at the difference – how different it is from what they expected from what they’d heard and seen on television – what they’d read. And they’re amazed at the progress and they come back and say so. And that good news doesn’t get into the media, particularly.
I had a hearing one day, six of them had just come back that morning from Iraq. They said so in the hearing and not one word of it was presented in anything I heard or read in the press the next day.
Q: Finally, sir. Are you concerned about how this generation of soldiers will be viewed by the American public – how they will be treated? I recall how it was when I came back from Vietnam. It was not good and we don’t want that to happen again.
Rumsfeld: No, indeed. Well, I guess I’m always hopeful that it’ll be exactly what it should be. And today we have every single person serving a volunteer. They are well-trained, they’re well-equipped, they’re well-led. They are confident and proud of what they’re doing. I visit them in Iraq. I visited them in Afghanistan and I visited them in the hospitals here in Washington, D.C. at Walter Reed and at Bethesda. And they are just terrific. And God bless them for doing what they’re doing. We’re so lucky that we have people that recognize the importance of what they’re doing and are willing to say “Send me.”
Q: Well, I think we’re also lucky to have your leadership. Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for joining us. It’s a pleasure.
Rumsfeld: Thank you.
Q: Nice to have you with us. Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld with us here on AM 570, WTNT. It is just a pleasure to be here in your house and to have an opportunity to talk with you and I appreciate your candor, sir.
Rumsfeld: Thank you. It’s good to be with you, Paul.
Q: This is Paul (inaudible) live from the Pentagon (inaudible).
Interview with Dom Giordano, WPHT-AM, Philadelphia Pa.
Q: And we’re just moments away from talking to one of the principal (inaudible) in this fight, without a doubt, a man who (inaudible). We’re moments away from talking with the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with us here on the Big Talkers, as soon as we get him hooked (inaudible).
Mr. Secretary, pleasure to meet you. Thank you very much for joining us. Thanks for being part of this and a long day. No, you’re fine with that. You’re fine, Mr. Secretary, just with the microphone. Welcome to Philadelphia and welcome to the Big Talker.
Rumsfeld: Thank you. Good to be with you.
Q: Well, I can tell you’re a man who really enjoys your job and meeting people and just being quite a character, even in a job as a weighty as this. And I thought it was a real cheap shot. We talked about this on my show when people questioned this commemorative peace of shard that you had from the plane that hit the Pentagon. We’re very close to that. And people still speak about you being one of the ones out there, directing and leading the rescue mission that day.
Rumsfeld: Well, I went down there and it was a terrible, terrible tragedy that this building was hit and hundreds of people were killed. But I’m glad that the building is still here and that the institution goes on and I’m proud of the wonderful service of the people who serve here.
Q: We just heard on the news a contrast to that, I guess. We heard the European’s – the quote today from some, Mr. Secretary, was that they want to fight terrorism in a different way. How do you respond to this? How do we bring them to our way of seeing the reality of the situation?
Rumsfeld: Well, people find their way to reasonably write decisions eventually. And there’s always – I think it was Churchill who said that, you know, some people think you can feed an alligator, hoping it eats you last. And…
Rumsfeld: … and you can’t in life. The only way to deal with terrorism, people who are trained and determined to go out and kill innocent men, women and children is to go after them where they are and to deal with them where they are.
Q: This is not a police action, I think, I’ve heard you say here. This is a military action.
Rumsfeld: Yeah. These people didn’t rob a bank or steal a car. These people are out trying to actively destroy human beings and to do it en masse. And they killed 3,000 Americans on September 11th. They killed people in Bali and in Saudi Arabia and in Turkey and in Israel and then in Spain. And they’ll keep on doing it, until the world does what’s it doing. And what the world’s doing, we’ve got 90 countries in the global war on terror, the coalition and so it’s a broadest coalition on the history of mankind and they’re sharing intelligence and sharing information and putting pressure on terrorists and that’s what needs to be done.
Q: Mr. Secretary, one of the areas I saw the other day, you talked about it - I think it was March 14th -- about still believing that we may find the weapons of mass destruction. People that listen to my show are very, very supportive of you, supportive for the war effort, but the message, they sometimes deliver to me is: Let’s move away from that; talk about some kind of intelligence. I don’t know if we use the world “failure”, but things didn’t go according to what we thought. Let’s admit they’re not there. What’s your response to people who are supportive, but say that -- have that…
Q: … point of view?
Rumsfeld: Well, I mean, clearly, one would have assumed from the intelligence we had that you would go into that country and within a reasonably short period of time, find the chemical and biological weapons that everyone, not just in our country, but in other countries, believed existed. I mean, how many times the president said to General Franks and to me: Now walk me through precisely what our troops do when chemical weapons are used against them and the way Saddam Hussein used them on his neighbors and his own people. Why did our troops wear chemical protective gear…
Q: Right, exactly.
Rumsfeld: … in the heat? They wore it because they believed that, in fact, chemical weapons would be used. Why did Saddam Hussein have 3,000 chemical protective suits that we found in one of his caches? Because he had chemical weapons. Now, we haven’t found them. And Dr. Kay said that we’re about 85 percent through the process. I don’t know how far we’re through the process, but let’s say that that’s the right number…
Q: Right, right.
Rumsfeld: … we’ve got to continue this process. We’ve got 1,200 people over there looking and it’s a country the size of California. If you picture the spider hole that Saddam Hussein was found in and pulled out of, you could put enough chemical weapons or biological weapons in there to kill thousands of people.
Q: Is there a (inaudible) at the time it could be in Syria also? I mean, is that…
Rumsfeld: That was speculated.
Q: … is that still.
Rumsfeld: And the other speculation was that the chemical and biological weapons were destroyed, but the precursors were kept, so that they could rapidly connect them…
Rumsfeld: … and they had. We know that David Kay found ballistic missiles that exceeded the legal range. And it showed that Saddam Hussein’s declaration with the United Nations was fraudulent. So my attitude is I don’t know the answer. I wish I did and will eventually know the truth. Either they – why would Saddam Hussein have…
Q: Well, that’s what I always ask. Mr. Secretary, you ought to do a talk show. I say that every night. Why would he do this? You have to be sitting there, saying to hold on to his power, the posture, I guess. That’s the only thing (inaudible.)
Rumsfeld: Billions and billions of dollars.
Q: That we’re dealing with.
Rumsfeld: Yeah. I mean, it’s just beyond comprehension.
Q: Exactly. Well, I think the logic is on your side. How would you – we’re always looking in talking radio, the people that we reach, for an assessment of progress. How do you, assess the progress in Iraq? What kind of milestones or things do you personally look at that we can take to our listeners and say, here’s an element of progress that’s being made?
Rumsfeld: Well, if you’re talking about the global war on terror, I think the size of the coalition, 90 countries, is a mark of progress. I think if one looks at the difficulties that terrorists today have in moving money, they have to move them in smaller amounts, not with wire transfers, probably, because they’re being watched for the first time. The intelligence is being shared among all of these countries, so it makes it more difficult for these folks to move across borders. So everything they’re doing is harder. Now that’s progress. Does it mean there won’t be anymore terrorist attacks, no. We just saw what happened and there are going to be terrorist attacks. The idea that you can go down to zero is, I think, unrealistic. But in terms of reducing the numbers of them, I think that the progress, clearly, is being made. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re safer today, even though we’re still vulnerable, because a terrorist can attack anytime, any place, using any technique.
Q: And you got opponents. I even had callers last night of people saying to me, what they’ve said in Spain is we ought to allocate our resources toward homeland defense, not attacking people over in Iraq. Now, I’m from South Philly (sp). I don’t know if that means anything to you, but we know in South Philly (sp), that’s not what you do.
Q: You go fight in the other guy’s neighborhood. You don’t have them do something in your neighborhood. You know, we can’t protect even the Pentagon and places like – and we just can’t protect all these targets, I guess it should be the answer to that. But there are a lot of folks out there that still believe that, Mr. Secretary. We can’t get that through to them.
Rumsfeld: The advantage is with the attacker. There’s no way – there’s no way you can defend at every place at every time against every conceivable technique. I was a Middle East envoy back in the 1980s. And I remembered being in Beirut, Lebanon, right after the 241 Marines were killed in the barracks. And the first thing they did after the Marines were killed by a truck that came into the barracks and blew the barracks up, and killed 241 of our folks, they put barricades around the barracks from then on. Fine. So a truck couldn’t get to them. So what did they do? They started lobbing rocket-propelled grenades over the barricades…
Q: Right, right.
Rumsfeld: … and kill people that way. So the next thing you know, you go down to the cornice (sp) along the waterfront in Beirut, and you look at a building and they’ve draped a wire mesh over the building, a multi-story building…
Rumsfeld: … to – and barricades, too…
Rumsfeld: … to repel the rocket-propelled grenades, so that they couldn’t get in and they bounced back. Good deal. So that stopped that. And then what did the terrorists do? They started hitting soft targets going to and from work. So I mean, the terrorists go to school on the defendant.
Q: Right. Exactly.
Rumsfeld: All they have to do is just – all they have to do is be right once in a while. A defendant…
Q: And if they’re willing to die – if they’re willing to put their life on the line, it’s impossible to protect against that.
Rumsfeld: And a defendant has to be right 24 hours a day, all the time, every minute.
Q: Talk about this global war on terror. You started to allude to that and you’re passionate about it. Give our listeners a sense – you gave us a few things that we’re doing, but this is a widespread, long ongoing global. I mean, it’s different than anything we’ve ever thought.
Rumsfeld: It is. It’s not a perfect analogy, but some people said, well, when will it end? And of course, one might say the same thing is, well, when. Take policemen, all across our country, all across every country, when will you no longer have to have policemen…
Rumsfeld: … or firemen? When will you no longer have to have firemen? The answer is we will we need policemen and we will need firemen. And I regret to say that with respect to terrorists, I think because of the advantage that lies with the terrorists, they’re able to use our technologies against us – that we’re going to have to have the ability to continue to go after terrorists for some period of time.
Q: Anything that surprises you still in this whole process? I can tell you were surprised that the weapons aren’t there in Iraq, but is there anything going that surprises you or you’ve learned that is different than when you went into this, your thought process in this war on terror?
Rumsfeld: Well, I’m always. There’s so many things that no one can know. But one looks around the world and sees the people that are still being recruited to become terrorists and it’s hard for -- I guess what surprised me is that the people in that religion have not taken that religion back from those that are trying to hijack it. That is not part of that religion.
Q: Do you find, though, that they can’t – that you just need that violent minority or do you feel the efforts…
Rumsfeld: It’s a very small minority.
Rumsfeld: And they’re out there recruiting people to go kill people and they’re persuading them that that’s a good thing to do and it isn’t a good thing to do and it’s not going to be successful.
Q: Particularly, as there’s process in these countries, where you wouldn’t expect the same desperation as there might have been in the past.
Rumsfeld: (Inaudible) right. And I don’t think of it as poverty or desperation myself at all. I think that countries that – it’s for me to tell other people how to live, but I think countries that don’t – that have half of their population not participating in the life of that country in a full way…
Q: You’re talking about women.
Rumsfeld: … (inaudible) How can they be successful? How can they…
Q: Look around this room, the number of females that we have in positions of authority here at the Pentagon (inaudible).
Q: Exactly. And at home and maybe on your home front. I don’t know. It’s the same kind of thing. (Chuckles.) The thing that our listeners often get a charge out of is when you’re before this very podium or wherever you might be and the media asks a dumb question or you’ve explained it, you’re exasperated by that type of thing, what goes through your mind? Do you have a sense of that might be kind of not a good thing for you to do or do you say, no, that’s what I’m going to do, that’s who I am and I’m going to tell the truth, I’m going to let them…
Rumsfeld: Let her rip, is my attitude.
Rumsfeld: (Inaudible.) You only go around one time. You might as well say what you think.
Q: (Laughs.) But is that okay? That’s okay throughout the administration when that happens (inaudible).
Rumsfeld: There he goes. There he goes. (Laughs.) No, these are good folks here. We’ve got probably one of the best press corps in the entire city of Washington, D.C. A lot of them have been here quite a while. They’re professional. They know the business. I tease them and fuss at them and push at them a little bit, but it’s all in good fun.
Q: Well, thanks, Mr. Secretary. You’re a natural for talk radio. We really enjoyed having you here at the end of a long day. Thank you very much for joining us.
Rumsfeld: Thank you. Appreciate it.
Q: Thanks, Mr. Secretary. Thanks for being with us here in Philadelphia. All right, your calls are coming up here on the….
[Radio interview ended at this point the following are questions asked by various radio personalities present.]
Rumsfeld: … trained to go kill innocent men, women and children. And a year later, I can say, with great conviction that we’re better at finding them, we’re better at tracking them down, we’re better at cooperating with some 90 nations and trying to reduce the amount of funds that go into terrorism and to share intelligence in ways that are helpful to law enforcement agencies. And I believe it’s a safer – safer place.
Q: It’s a safer place, but we had a tourist attack. It appears it could have been connected to al Qaeda in Madrid, a new government was elected there – a Socialist government. It looks like they could withdraw their forces from Iraq. How are you going to go ahead without Spanish forces in the country?
Rumsfeld: Well, Spain has been just a wonderful partner in the global war on terror and I’m sure they’ll continue to be, in one way or another. Every country has to make their own choice. And it seems to me that we’ve not got – oh, my guess -- I think, 34 countries that have forces in Iraq. And we’ll continue to try to find ways to be helpful to the Iraqi people and train their security forces so that they can take over their own responsibilities. And that’s – foreign forces are not going to stay there forever – they shouldn’t. We don’t want t be there. We want the Iraqi people to take over their government and they’re going to be doing that.
Q: We found no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction a year later. If you…
Q: … if you knew today – if you knew then what you know today, would you still have done the same thing?
Rumsfeld: Oh, sure. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you’ve got 25 million people who’ve been liberated. The killing fields and all the mass graves that existed there, it shows what just a terrible, terrible regime this was. We know that they had weapons. We know they used weapons -- chemical weapons – on their own people and on their neighbors and fired ballistic missiles into their neighboring countries. This was a regime that’s good that it’s gone. Needless to say, we’ve got to continue to determine from ground truth, what actually was the circumstance with weapons of mass destruction. It’s hard to believe that Saddam Hussein would have foregone billions and billions of dollars of oil revenues, which he gave up, if he didn’t have weapons of mass destruction. He could have done was Gadhafi’s doing right now and said, “Come on in, take a look, we’re going to turn over everything,” which Gadhafi’s done, and he didn’t. And he had to have had a reason for not doing that.
Q: Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us.
Rumsfeld: Thank you. Good to be with you.
Q: Thank you.
Q: Mr. Secretary, on the anniversary of the Iraq war, what would you say are just very top highlights for you?
Rumsfeld: Well, it’s been an enormously successful war. And I had lunch with General Franks yesterday. And if one thinks back to the service that was performed by General Franks and his team and the wonderful men and women in uniform to so rapidly and successfully and so precisely do what they did to remove that regime, they deserve just a wonderful, wonderful credit from all of us. And if you then move to the postwar period, the post major conflict period, it’s been a tough time in a sense that people are still being killed. A lot of Iraqis are still being killed by terrorists, as well as coalition forces. And it’s apparently going to take some time and that’s the way the world is. You deal with the world like you find it.
On the other hand, if you think about it, it’s always been a dangerous place, Iraq. It’s always been a violent place. You have today the schools are open, the hospitals are working, the clinics – 1,200 clinics are working. The oil liftings are back where they were prewar. The electricity is operating. The water is drinkable. And there’s no humanitarian crisis. People aren’t starving. People aren’t being killed by the Saddam Hussein regime.
The visible energy and economic activity that’s taking place -- the satellite dishes on houses, the cars, the lines for gasoline – things are good in that country, in many respects, except for the fact that the terrorists are coming in from neighboring countries, from Iran and from Syria. And they’re still engaging in terrorist attacks in that country. If one looks at the broader situation, Afghanistan, that’s been a wonderful success. And they now have a constitution and they’re giving rights to women and they’re protecting the different diverse ethnic and religious groups in the country. So a great deal of progress has been made.
Q: And let me just ask you, Saddam Hussein has been captured is that other highlight and did you learn anything from him?
Rumsfeld: We’re not learning a lot from him, but certainly it’s important to have captured him and his sons to have been taken out of commission, so they are not there to continue the reign of terror.
Q: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much.
Rumsfeld: (inaudible) good to be with you.
Q: Thank you.
Unknown: All right. Nice to see you.
Q: Thank you. Nice seeing you. Thank you.
Rumsfeld: Take care, folks.