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Secretary Rumsfeld Stakeout following Appearance on Fox

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
March 20, 2005
RUMSFELD:  Good morning.

 

     QUESTION:  Good morning, Mr. Secretary.

 

     RUMSFELD:  What's up?  Above average.  [Laughter.]

 

     QUESTION:  First of all, Mr. Secretary, how concerned are you with al-Qaida coming over the border in Mexico?

 

     RUMSFELD:  Well, when you have a large country and long borders obviously you have to be concerned about it.  You've got borders in the north and the south that run thousands of miles.  You've got sea coast on the east and the west where we have an enormous amount of traffic.  It requires vigilance, it requires attention, it requires new types of technologies and approaches and the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Coast Guard do everything humanly possible to try to see that those borders are managed in a responsible way.

 

     Obviously, there's a tension between security and living as free people so they balance those risks and do a pretty darn good job.

 

     QUESTION:   In the upcoming summit with President Bush and President Fox, how much of border security is going to be on the agenda?

 

     RUMSFELD:  I don't know.  It will be interesting to see, but certainly it's a subject that comes up.

 

     QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, two years after the war, was it worth 1500 American lives and countless number of Iraqis?  And on the other hand, are you concerned you're pushing the Iranians and Syrians together?

 

     RUMSFELD:  The answer as to whether it's worth it is you bet.  There's 25 million Iraqis that are free.  We've seen the effects, and we know for a fact that the great sweep of human history is for freedom.  What you're seeing in Ukraine and what you're seeing in Lebanon, what you're seeing with the Palestinians, what's happened in Afghanistan, I think is a reflection of the fact that human beings basically want to be free and nations that are subjected to vicious dictatorships are the kinds of nations that do what Saddam Hussein did.  He used chemical weapons on his own people and on his neighbors, the Iranians.  He invaded two of his neighbors.  What we're seeing today is economic progress in Iraq, we're seeing political progress and the seating of a Constituent Assembly.  We're seeing progress on the security front with 145,000 Iraqi Security Forces now assuming greater responsibility.

 

     What's happening in Afghanistan, and it's interesting, people don't ask about Afghanistan any more.  Three thousand Americans were killed in the United States of America.  Why?  Because a terrorist state launched attacks against our country and killed innocent men, women and children.  Today that country has a popularly-elected President, its economic progress is notable.  Women were able to vote.  Women are able to go out on the street today in Afghanistan without escorts and to participate in society.

 

     So combined, 50 million people are free.  Is it worth it?  You bet.

 

     QUESTION:  The Iranians and Syrians?

 

     RUMSFELD:  The question the way you stated it implied that the Iranians and Syrians have not been connected for decades, which would be incorrect.  They have been connected.  Iran is a terrorist state; Syria is a terrorist state.  The Iranians have been working with the Syrians and sending down weapons for the Hezbollah through Damascus into Beirut, Lebanon and into the Bekaa Valley for years after years after years.  So there's nothing new in terms of that relationship.

 

     QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, Canada's begging out of the missile defense testing and as a result Secretary Rice has canceled a visit to Canada.  How much has this hurt the missile defense testing program, and how has it hurt U.S. relations with Canada?

 

     RUMSFELD:  Well first it's not clear to me that the canceling of the trip was a direct result of what you're talking about.  I think that might be a misunderstanding.  Second, we have no need for Canada to participate in missile defense.  The program will go on just as it would have without them.  Had they decided to participate it would have benefitted them, but they've made a decision that a sovereign nation can make and it doesn't damage our relationships whatsoever.  They're perfectly free to decide anything they want in something like that and it will not adversely affect our missile defense program in the slightest.

 

     Thank you, folks.

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