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Secretary Rumsfeld Town Hall Meeting at Ft. Campbell, Ky.

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
September 14, 2004

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Secretary Rumsfeld Town Hall Meeting at Ft. Campbell, Ky.

(Applause.)

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you so much.  Please, be seated, to the extent you have seats.  (Laughter.)

 

            Look at this crowd.  My goodness.  This is a breathtaking sight.

 

            I came here to say thank you, and I think I'll start out that way.  I want to thank all of you, each of you, all the men and women in uniform gathered here and all across the globe, for your superb service to our country.  We are deeply grateful.  It's noble work. It's important work.  And the people of the United States of America are very much in your debt.

 

            General Turner, thank you so very much for your hospitality and your kind words.

 

            Senator Jim Bunning, it's great to see you.  And Congressman Ed Whitfield from the -- I guess the 1st District of Kentucky -- there you are, Ed.  And Representative Marsha Blackburn, 7th District of Tennessee, so nice to see you.

 

            We thank each of you for your support to the men and women in uniform.  I know that they are as appreciative as I am of the support you folks give to the Department of Defense and to our troops at home and overseas.

 

            I also want to say hello to Lieutenant Governor Steve Pence of Kentucky.  Steve, nice to see you.

 

              And Mayor Liebe of Hopkinsville, Kentucky -- Mr. Mayor, so nice to see you.

 

            And Mayor Ochs from Oak Grove, nice to see you.

 

            Mayor Doug Weiland, I guess is here, from Montgomery County, I'm told.  Good to see you, sir.

 

            And I must say, to all of the people here from Hopkinsville and Clarksville and the surrounding communities:  I know that you have been strong supporters of this base, of the troops, of the families, and I must say, we are so appreciative for that hospitality.  It's important that our troops be in places where they're wanted, and there's no question but that the communities in this area have let everybody know over a good many years that they indeed are wanted. (Applause.)

 

            Gracie, it was a delight to hear you sing the "Star-Spangled Banner."  Thank you so much.  (Applause.)

 

            And I was in the lunch hall visiting with some folks, so I missed most of the country music singing that you all had the privilege to hear.  But I must say, knowing how close you are to Nashville that I suspect you get a lot of fine entertainment in this part of the country.  (Applause.)

 

            It's great to be here with the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne.  (Shouts of hoo-ah.)

 

            Your story -- the division has had for a long period "a rendezvous with destiny" -- from Bastogne to the heat of Baghdad.  In the dash across the deserts of Iraq last year, you helped bring down a regime of a brutal dictator and then put your compassion and your creativity to work in Mosul, training new Iraqi security forces, completing literally thousands of reconstruction projects of various types and helping the Iraqis build a new democracy and a civil society.

 

            The 101st is transforming, I'm told, into a four-maneuver brigade division, each brigade with its own reconnaissance battalion.  Transforming while fighting a war is not easy, but General Pete Schoomaker is determined to move from 33 brigades to 43 or even 48 brigades, over the coming period of years, and I am in full support of what he's doing.  (Applause.)

 

            I'm kind of embarrassed to say that the last time I was here at this base was 1976.

 

            AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Hoo-ah.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  That is a long time ago.  (Laughter.)  I'm not going to ask everyone to raise their hand who was even in born in 1976.

 

            But I remember coming out on the parade ground and shaking hands with a colonel named Colin Powell, who was stationed here.  Now he -- of course he's the secretary of State, and it's always nice to see a young fellow get ahead like that.  (Laughter.)

 

            And I'm back in the same old job.  I feel like a gerbil.  I get up every morning, run like the dickens, and I stay right where I am. (Laughter.)

 

            I -- it would be interesting to see, if I come back for a third term as secretary of Defense, which one of you will be secretary of State.  (Laughter.)  But I suspect one of you will be.

 

            And of course the 5th Special Forces Group, as the Green Berets, who were so active in the CENTCOM AOR, you must be among the most overworked heroes in the Army.  Your motto, "to liberate the oppressed," is right on the mark.  And you have been central in helping to liberate some 50 million oppressed people in Afghanistan and Iraq.  (Applause.)

 

            And I know that the Night Stalkers of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment are also here.  You folks are amazing. You manage to make it look easy, and you're doing things that never even were dreamed of some years back.  You have all of our respect and appreciation.

 

            Everyone in uniform is a volunteer today, and it's a wonderful thing -- active, Guard and Reserve.  You raised your hands, many of you more than once, first to come in the Army and then air assault, Special Operations, aviation or Special Forces.  And your efforts and the work of our coalition have helped to create two free nations, which now have governments that are fighting terrorists instead of harboring terrorists.

 

            All of this has required efforts by more than just our armed forces.  And I know there are many employers here today, and people who understand the terrific support that employers have given to members of the Guard and Reserve.  We could not do without their help and their support.  We thank them all for that support.  We are deeply appreciative.  (Applause.)

 

            You know, the world has recently marked the third anniversary of the attacks on September 11th.  That day showed all too clearly that the extremists seek to terrorize innocent men, women and children.  We saw this yet again two weeks ago in Russia, when terrorists killed and wounded literally hundreds of children on their first day of school. It says a lot about the extremists and the terrorists, a lot about who they are and how they think and what they are and what their intent is.  People who kill hundreds of children, who chop off heads, let there be no doubt it is far better to be fighting them in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere on this globe than here in the United States of America.  (Cheers, applause.)

 

            Three years ago, during that September 11th period, Saddam Hussein was paying $25,000 rewards to suicide -- to the families of suicide bombers, and shooting at U.S. and British air crews that were enforcing U.N. resolutions in the southern and northern no-fly zones of Iraq.  So we must not make the mistake of thinking that the absence of traditional war today means that we are at peace.  We are not at peace.  Ours is not a world at peace.

 

            Some ask whether the global war on terror is worth the loss of American lives, and there isn't anybody who -- as I know, the senator and the congressman and representative visit the hospitals in Washington at Bethesda or Walter Reed and visit with those that are wounded and talk to the parents of those who've lost their young ones. Each life not lived is precious, and we grieve with those families. And it's an understandable question as to whether it's worth the loss of lives, and it's a question that's been asked throughout our country's history, and the answer should be clear to all who have studied our country's history.

 

            Our country lost hundreds of thousands of lives in World War II. But despite the losses and despite the repeated military setbacks in World War II -- month after month after month -- allied troops and allied leaders forged ahead purposefully, first to achieve victory over Japan and Germany and Italy, and then later to help Germany and Italy and Japan transform from what they were -- fascist countries -- into democratic nations; indeed, nations that in the following 40 years, during the Cold War, were integral to the success of the free world against the Soviet Union, those same countries that people said weren't ready for democracy.

 

            And I believe that those who live another 30, 40 years will look back, as historians will look back, and they will see a country that was wise to not wait for the terrorists to come back and hit our country, that understood the importance of the work that was being done in the global war on terror, that took the fight to the terrorists, to the extremists.

 

            And those of you sitting out there who serve in the armed forces will be looked at with gratitude and appreciation of the American people, as you should be, for your courage, for your professionalism and for the fact that you have been steadfast in good times and in bad.

 

            I'll close, before responding to questions, by saying what I said when I opened.  I came here today to tell each of you thank you. Thank you on behalf of the United States government.  Thank you on behalf of the commander in chief.  Thank you on behalf of the American people.  We are deeply grateful to you and in your debt.

 

            Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.

 

            Thank you.  I'm told that there are -- it's a little warm out here, and if anyone doesn't want to stay in the heat and listen to questions and answers, I'll understand.  But I'd be happy to respond to some questions.   I know there are microphones that are spread around out here.  I'll answer the questions I know the answers to, I'll respond carefully to the ones I don't, or else I'll ask the senator or the congressmen to come up and help me out -- (laughter) -- or get General Turner down here.  He knows the answers to all those tough questions.

 

            Where's a microphone?  Here's one, number 6 in the back.  Yes, that's it.  Number 6.  You better look at your sign.  There you go. Who's got the question?  Is it behind me?  I always worry about someone behind me asking a question and my not hearing it.  Fire away.  Here you go.

 

            Q:     Mr. Secretary, Mr. Rumsfeld, my name is Specialist Samuel L. Curry.  I'm from Marion, Alabama.  I served with 101 DISCOM (ph), 129 Trans Battalion.  And my question is, I want to know how long can we expect U.S. forces to remain in Iraq, Mr. Rumsfeld?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I wish I could give you a specific answer.  It's not possible to give a specific answer as to a date.  It is possible  to say that when the United States of America, the Congress, voted to send troops to Iraq, we did it as we always did it, not to have them stay there forever but to go in to help that country to replace that vicious regime and help put the Iraqi people on a path towards democracy.

 

            They're making good headway.  It's a tough business.  And as you know from reading the papers and seeing the television, it's a dangerous business.  And a great many of you know that from being there personally.

 

            The answer to the question is that our goal is to get the Iraqi forces trained up.  We're now at about 105,000 that are trained, equipped and every unit manned up to that number, 105,000.  We have another plus or minus a hundred thousand people who are on duty but are not fully trained, not fully equipped.  And we expect to add another 50,000 fully equipped and fully trained to the 105,000 between now and the end of the year and when the elections take place. Our goal is to systemically, incrementally transfer responsibility for security in that country to the Iraqi security forces:  the border patrol, the police, the national guard, the army, and the site protection people.

 

            We're making good progress.  They have lost considerably more people than the coalition has lost in the last six months.  And it's an indication that they're working the problem, they're out there engaging.  They've had some bad setbacks when they weren't fully trained or fully equipped.  But for the most part, they are doing a darned good job and an increasingly good job as their chain of command system is developed.  And at that point where we can pass off the security responsibility to that country, obviously, the coalition forces will not be needed and will not be there.

 

            I've watched this new Iraqi government take hold.  The prime minister and his ministers are courageous.  They know they're targets. They know that some of their peers have been assassinated by the Saddam Hussein former regime elements that are trying to take back that country.  But they have courage, personal courage as well as political courage, and they're going about their business trying to set that country on a path toward success.  So I've got a lot of respect for the Iraqis who are willing to do that.  The people are lining up to join the security forces in large numbers.  And there are way more people in that country who are betting that their future will be a bright one.  People are coming in from other countries.  And you think of all the bad stuff we read about.  On the other hand, the schools are open, they've got new textbooks, the hospitals are functioning, the clinics are functioning, the oil production is going well, they have some people in the Olympics, they had a symphony orchestra, and they're working at making a success out of that country.  And I think they've got a darned good crack at making it. And as they do, we will be able to incrementally reduce the level of our forces and turn it over to the Iraqi people.

 

            Questions?  Right up here, go ahead.  I kind of like these folks behind me here. 

 

            Q:     Mr. Rumsfeld, my name is Mario de Benedetto (sp).  I support Bravo Company, 326 BTB.  And my question has to do with, being a man who knows the military, I'd like what you take is on the current debate between the candidates for president on their war records -- (laughter) -- you know, such as Bob Dole's war record and John Kerry's war record, and  -- (light laughter) -- just your opinion.  (Laughter, applause, cheers.)

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Do not encourage Mario!  (Laughter.)  It's mischievious (sic).  He knows the president has told Colin Powell and Don Rumsfeld they're not allowed to get into politics.  Now, how in the world can I answer that question without getting into politics?  (Laughter.)  I'm not sure I like the back section any more. (Laughter.)

 

            Out in front!  Who's got a question?  (Laughter.)

 

            Right here.  You have a mic?  No, you got to get a mic.  Stay on your feet.  They'll bring you a mic.

 

            Number 18, way in back.  I hope you learned a lesson from Mario.  (Laughter.)

 

            Number six.  Where's six?  There you are.  Good.

 

            Q:     Yes, sir, Mr. Rumsfeld, sir.  I'm Sergeant Patterson from Miami, Florida, part of 626 FSB.  (Cheers.)  Sir, on August 26 I witnessed my soldier, Specialist Bora (sp), who became a U.S. citizen this year, and now is able to vote.  My question to you, sir, is there a process for those who are out there that's traveling for PCS, TDY or deployment movements to make the process a little bit more easier during deployments or TDY?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yes, sir, there is.  I am told that every unit has a registration, an election registration official.  And I hope I've been told correctly.

 

            How about that, General?

 

            GENERAL TURNER:  Yes, sir -- (off mic).

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  There is one.  General Turner says there is a person.  If you check with his office, there's a -- there's a person, and they can tell you for yourself and they can tell you how you could help any of your colleagues so that they will know how to get an absentee ballot and vote if they're going to be away from their home place.  As a matter of fact, I'm from the State of Illinois, and I just wrote -- (light cheers) -- there you go.  Let's hear it for Chicago.  (Light cheers.)  (Laughs.)  And they, of course -- I have to -- I'm in Washington, D.C., so I have to vote absentee.  And I just wrote in and asked for my ballot as well.  It's important that you do it in enough time so it has time to get back to you, then you can vote it and it can get in in time to be counted.

 

            Question?  There's one right down here in front, number six.

 

            Q:     Mr. Rumsfeld, my name is Specialist Jason Smith.  I'm from Valley, Alabama, and I serve with 3rd Brigade headquarters.  I don't know much about politics, but my question is, why did Congress and President Bush lift the ban on purchasing assault weapons, making it possible for anyone to purchase them now?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Jason, I must not know anything about politics either because I don't know the answer to that.  And the way you phrased it doesn't sound correct to me.  (Laughter.)

 

            (As an aside.)  Do you know?  (Cheers, applause.)

 

            Ah, the senator tells me it was not lifted; it expired.  That is to say, the Congress passed a law that had an end date, and that date arrived, and the Congress did not do anything to alter the termination on that date.  So, it was not something I believe that went to the executive branch, and I don't know that it even came up for a vote in the Congress.  It didn't.

 

            I think they've cut you off, Jason.  (Laughter, cheers, applause.)  Whoever's handling the mic, good job.  (Laughter.)

 

            All right.  Where's the question?  Way back there, number eight.

 

            Q:     Mr. Secretary, I am Sergeant Stamus and I'm from Fenton, Michigan.  I got a question about North Korea and Iran and on the nuclear crisis situation.  I'm wondering when the political process has been exhausted, we know these countries, these rogue nations are developing nuclear weapons underneath our noses, and when are we going to go in there and whip their butts?  (Laughter, scattered applause.)

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  This is really quite a crowd.  (Laughter.) Clearly, that sergeant doesn't know anything about politics, either. (Laughter.)  You should be up here with me.  (Laughter.)

 

            Sergeant, each of those is a different situation.  Each is complicated.  The United States of America has decided in the case of North Korea, recognizing that it's a repressive dictatorial system, that people are starving there, that they by their own announcement have a nuclear capability and are developing additional nuclear capabilities -- they're probably the premier proliferator of missile technology on the face of the Earth.  They're engaged in illicit drug trafficking.  They're engaged in counterfeiting.  And the people there are starving.  They've lowered the height to get in the North Korean military to four feet 10 inches and less than 100 pounds for men to join the military because there aren't enough people who had enough calories in their youth to be over five feet and over 100 pounds. It's a tragedy, that country.

 

            By their own admission, they are working on a nuclear capability. The president made the judgment to go to the neighboring countries -- to Russia, to the People's Republic of China, Japan, South Korea -- and engage in talks with the North, tempting them to see if we can't get them to behave as a reasonably civilized country.

 

            They've been kicking the can down the road.  They've not been terribly cooperative.  On the other hand, all of those countries are working closely together -- Russia, China, South Korea, Japan, the United States -- attempting to put pressure on North Korea to get them to behave properly.  You say when will that end.  I don't know when that will end.  One would hope that it would end peacefully.  One would hope that those six countries will be successful in achieving that.

 

            Iran is right now engaged in a process where the international community, the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Commission has concluded, I believe, that they are out of compliance with what they had previously agreed to.  There's a strong conviction that they are, in fact, developing a nuclear weapon.  We know they have been testing ballistic missiles of increasingly longer range.  We know that that country is governed by a small handful of clerics.  And we also know that the young people and the women in that country have considerable visibility into what's happening in the rest of the world.  They know that their country is being isolated in the world.  They know that they're not allowed to do the kinds of things that people in neighboring countries are able to do.

 

            And, I can remember back very clearly when the shah of Iran fell and the ayatollahs took over.  It happened in a relatively short period of time.  It was a surprise to the entire world.  And I guess that we have a couple of choices in the case of Iran. It's conceivable that enough pressure would be put on them by the international community, one would hope, that they would alter their direction.  Absent that, it seems to me that at some moment, the forces for reform in that country, the young people and the women, particularly, may very well decide that they have had enough and that they'd prefer to live as a part of the civilized world and take back their country.

 

            Question?  Thirteen.

 

            Q:     Mr. Secretary, Sergeant First Class Paula Milendez, HHC Sustainment Unit of Action.  My question is, for the duration of our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, can we continue to expect 12- month deployments, or we will eventually revert back to six-month deployments?   (Applause.)

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I don't know quite how to take that.

 

            The services are all doing something different, as you know.  The Navy has one rhythm, the Air Force has a rhythm, the Marines are working on a seven-month rhythm, and the Army has decided on up to 12 months.

 

            Now, will it stay that level?  One would hope that as the need on the ground, the circumstances on the ground, the security situation, permitted a reduction in coalition forces, we would see a reduction in U.S. forces in addition to the reduction in other coalition countries' forces.  And as you know, we've got 32 other countries helping us in Iraq at the present time.

 

            As that happened, as the demand, the need for people there lessened, it is possible it could be met in one of two ways.  The Army could decide that they want to either shorten the periods somewhat and come down closer to where the Marines are at seven months, or to just have people go back fewer times.  And at the present time, the Joint Staff, and the Army particularly, are working on the rhythm to determine how to do that.

 

            It's amazing what we've got.  We've got a million-four men and women in uniform in the active force.  If you add in the Reserves, we're up over 2.5 million.  We're only sustaining 250,000 in that area -- Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq -- 250,000 out of 2.5 million.  One would think that would not be hard.  General Pete Schoomaker, the chief of staff of the Army, says think about a rain barrel, and you've got a total of 2.5 million people you can draw on, and yet the spigot's way up at the top and you're only drawing on the top 10 or 20 percent and you keep reusing that and hoping it fills up again.  Now, that doesn't make any sense.  So what we've got to do is get that spigot moved down.

 

            In the meantime, we've increased the size of the Army by about 19,000 folks, and we'll increase it more to the extent that we need to.  But in addition, we're moving military people out of civilian positions and slots.  As I mentioned, the chief of staff is moving from 33 brigades up to 43 or 48.  We are rebalancing the Guard and Reserve so that -- the components so that the skill sets we need on active duty are there rather than in the Reserves so we don't have to keep reusing the same people from the Guard and Reserve over and over again.

 

            I don't know what the Army will decide with respect to changing that rhythm, but clearly, as the demand lessens -- and it has lessened.  I mean, we were up at 150,000; we're currently down at 138,000, 137,000, I think.  And it will lessen over time, we'll have the choices and the ability to reduce that demand on the folks that are in that rotation rhythm.

 

            Question?  Yes, sir.

 

            Q:     Mr. Secretary, can you hear me now?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I can, perfectly.

 

            Q:     Good.

 

            How you doing, Mr. Secretary?  Private Newsom from Detroit, Michigan.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  You should be a radio announcer with that smooth voice.  (Laughter.)

 

            Q:     Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

 

            No, but I represent 526 BXB.  (Hoo-ah.)  And Mr. Secretary, I just had a question.  Since that happened to the twin towers back in September 11, 2001, you can tell that the administration has beefed up the actual security around the globe. Now, what are you going to do now since the situation in Iraq is kind of stepping up?  What will you do for -- instead of the terrorists away, what will you do with the terrorists in our own backyard?  I mean, any insight on that?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, we do.  The Congress and the executive branch has been working extensively to strengthen homeland security, and they've created a new Homeland Security Department.  Anyone who goes into an airport can see what's happened there.  They've got air marshals.  They've got much greater baggage inspection.  They have beefed up doors on the airplanes.  There have been a great many things done to improve homeland security.  And I don't doubt for a minute but that we're safer today than we were one year ago, two years ago and three years ago.  (Applause.)

 

            What we also know is that a terrorist can attack at any time, at any place, using any conceivable technique, and it's not possible to defend at every point, at every minute of the day or night against every conceivable technique.

 

            I was Middle East envoy back in 1983 for President Reagan after 241 folks -- our folks were killed at the Beirut airport.  And of course, it was a truck bomb that came in and blew up the barracks.  So the next thing they did was they put these concrete barriers around all of the important buildings.  And the next thing that happened is the terrorists started lobbing rocket-propelled grenades over the barriers.  So the next thing that people said -- well, we can't have that, so they started draping wire mesh over buildings that were three and four stories high, so that it would bounce the rocket-propelled grenades off and it wouldn't blow up the building.  And then, of course, the terrorists started hitting people, soft targets, going to and from work.

 

            The point I'm making is a terrorist has an enormous advantage, and if you wait around till they attack you, you've got a big problem. And we don't have that choice.  (Applause.)  We've got to go find them where they are.  And that is the task, to find those terrorist networks, to break them up, to make everything they do harder -- to make it harder for them to raise money, harder for them to move money, harder for them to talk to each other, harder for them to cross national boundaries between countries, harder for them to recruit and retain people.  And that's the pressure that's been put on.

 

            We have fashioned an 85 to 90 nation global coalition of countries that are putting pressure on those terrorist networks -- not perfectly; they're still going to make attacks, as they did in Russia, killing hundreds of school children.  But, it is vastly more difficult for them today, thanks to the wonderful effort that's taken place. And our task is to persevere, to recognize that it's a tough job.

 

            For the most part, the United States of America and our friends and allies were organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies and big navies and big air forces.  And that's not what we're doing today.  Today we're chasing individuals.  Today we're chasing small clusters of 10, 20, 30, 40 people.  Today we're chasing suicide bombers.  Today we're dealing with people who chop off people's heads.

 

            These extremists, these fanatics have to be dealt with, and they have to be stopped, and the full weight of the national power of this country and the other nations in the coalition are being organized to do exactly that.

 

            AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Hoo-ah.  (Applause.)

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Thank you.

 

            Number seven.

 

            Q:     Mr. Secretary, Nathan Van from Westmoreland, Tennessee; the 4th in the 320th Field Artillery, sir.

 

            I have a question about the United Nations.  A lot of its ways of doing things seem to be quite out of date.  I was wondering when the United States is going to pull out of the United Nations.  (Scattered laughter.)

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Number 18 -- no.  (Chuckles.)  (Laughter.)

 

            I'll answer that.  I mean, the reality is that many institutions in the world today that for the most part came out of World War II, a lot of very fine institutions -- I mean, NATO came from there, the World Bank, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, so many organizations that have done a lot of good over the decades -- but you're right.  I mean, they're -- they basically are 20th century institutions.  They do need to be updated, just as we have to continue to try to transform the Department of Defense, to make sure that we're organized for the 21st century.

 

            And it's not easy to change.  It's hard.  There's a lot of resistance.  There's resistance in the bureaucracy.  There's resistance in the Congress.  There's resistance in the society, from the retired community, often.  There's resistance among other countries that we have to work with.  Change is hard!  But we have to do it.

 

            And the same thing's true of those institutions.  We simply have to recognize that -- take one example.  Take the problem of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile technologies.  Every year those weapons get more dangerous, more lethal.  Had the terrorists that attacked our country on September 11th and killed 3,000 people had chemical or biological or nuclear weapons, they could have killed 30,000 or 300,000.

 

            So each year, the lethality of those weapons goes up.  That means that the task of stopping the proliferation of those weapons, preventing them falling into the hands of terrorist networks, preventing them falling into the hands of terrorist states, is urgent.

And we know that one country cannot do it alone.  There is no way that any country on the face of the Earth can deal with the problem of proliferation among these other countries, the terrorist countries, of those weapons.  It requires a lot of countries working together.

 

            That means that those organizations have to be adjusted to fit the 21st century.  They have to be organized and arranged with a sense of urgency, so that nations can work together more effectively to stop the proliferation of those weapons, because it is not just in our interest; it is in the interest of all of the civilized societies on the face of the Earth.

 

            Number seven.  I'm told this is the last question, number seven, so make it a pip.  (Cheers, applause, laughter.)

 

            Q:     Mr. Secretary, my name is Specialist Meyers and I'm from Cincinnati, Ohio.  I'm with the 50th Med Air Ambulance.  My question, Mr. Secretary, is we see in the media and the newspapers these correspondents who are on location with -- they're tracking a terrorist group getting ready to go out and attack our troops or another city.  Why aren't we as the military right there with them or right behind them to take care of it before they go out and attack someone else?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Specialist Meyers, our folks have done a lot by way of tracking terrorists.  UBL has not been caught, but two- thirds of the senior al Qaeda leadership has either been captured or killed.  Saddam Hussein's in a jail cell, and his two sons are dead.

 

            AUDIENCE:  Hoo-ah!  (Applause.)

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  There are people being scooped up all the time. That does not mean that everybody is scooped up.  You're quite right; there are plenty of people out there that are planning and exploding IEDs.  There are plenty of people out there that are driving suicide trucks into outposts and guard posts around.  And it is striking that from time to time, at least, there's a "journalist," quote, unquote, standing around taking pictures of it.  It isn't every time and it isn't most times, but it is sometimes.  And sometimes I suspect it happens because it's serendipity; they just happen to be there.  But we know for a fact that other times the terrorists have told journalists -- and I use the word inadvisably; quote, unquote "journalists" -- they've told "journalists" where they're going to be and what they're going to do and the "journalists" have been there. And over and over and over again, we've seen that Middle Eastern television station, Al-Jazeera, that seems to be -- have a wonderful way of being Johnny on the spot a little too often for my tastes.

 

            AUDIENCE:  Hoo-ah!

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  So, on the one hand, our folks are doing a terrific job, and on the other hand there are an awful lot of folks out there that are determined to try to kill innocent men, women and children.  And we're going to have to stay at this task, just as the generations before us stayed at their tasks and persevered, were steadfast and succeeded.

 

            Thank you all.  It's really a thrill for me to be with you and to have a chance to thank you personally.  God bless you all, and may God bless this country.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Cheers, applause.)

 

            AUDIENCE:  Hoo-ah!  (Cheers, applause.)

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