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Secretary Rumsfeld Live Interview with Bill Bennett, Morning in America

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
April 05, 2004
Secretary Rumsfeld Live Interview with Bill Bennett, Morning in America

Q:  Are you ready for air, sir? 


Rumsfeld:   Sure. 


Q:  I’m going to put you on hold and probably within the next 20 seconds, you’ll be able to hear the “on-air” thing.  They’re going to cut to you.  And here we go, okay? 


Rumsfeld:   You bet. 


Q:  Thank you, sir.


Unknown:  And it’s obviously a response to what…


Q:  All right. 


Unknown:  … happened last seek. 


Q:  Sounds like the right response.  Mr. Secretary?


Rumsfeld:  Good morning.


            Q:  Hi, Don.  How are you, sir?


Rumsfeld:  Excellent, Bill.


Q:  Thank you very much for joining us on our first day here. 


Rumsfeld:  Well, I’m glad to do it.  I wish you well.


Q:   Thank you.  Three quick questions for you and then go about defending our country.  First, can you straighten something out for us?  I’ve been reading a number of reports last week that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told interrogators that our response to 9/11 was so effective that it essentially thwarted more attacks against the U.S. in Los Angeles and Chicago.  Is there anything you can say about that?


Rumsfeld:  Well, not really.  There are so many different reports from interrogations and from intelligence that I kind of avoid chasing each one of them because…


Q:  Yeah.


Rumsfeld:  … it requires nailing them down very solid.  And we’ve seen lots of threat reports for the United States over a period of time. 


Q:  Well, you know what, what struck me -- and I don’t expect your comment – is that this guy a major player in the terrorist world, said we were paralyzed by the U.S. response, which is, you know, something that sounds appropriate to me.  The situation in Fallujah, Operation Vigilant Resolve, we will not have another Mogadishu.  Is that correct, sir? 


Rumsfeld:  You can be absolutely certain of that.  The people out there are operating today and have been since yesterday. They’re doing well and feel confident in their plan and their execution. 


Q:   We’ve had callers this morning, Mr. Secretary.  How do you make a response that’s firm, that’s clear, that’s unambiguous?  What’s the line, “No better friend, no tougher enemy.”  How do you make that response and still win hearts and minds? 


Rumsfeld:  Well, it’s whose hearts and minds do you want to win.  Certainly, you’re not going to win the hearts and minds of the people who are committing these brutal acts and you’re not going to win the hearts and minds of the people that are cheering those acts.  What you can do, however, is recognize that they represent a relatively small minority…


Q:  Right.


Rumsfeld:  … and go about the task of seeing that you bring to justice those people who are conducting terrorist acts and brutality – violence not just against the United States or the coalition, but also against the Iraqi people.


Q:  Right. 


Rumsfeld:  There are more Iraqis being killed than there are coalition people. 


Q:  Right.  Some of these guys are not going to have their minds changed, right?  It’s only going to be force (inaudible)?


Rumsfeld:  That’s right.  And that’s why our forces are in there. 


Q:  Last thing, and this – I wrote it down, I carried it around with me for months.  I was once the secretary of education, far less exalted than your position, but you said, you know, we lack the metrics to know if we’re winning or losing, but you said, I’ll tell you, recapturing, killing or deferring or dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and radical clerics or recruiting, training and deploying.  That is we can kill and we’re good at it and we’re the most effective military in the world.  But how do we address the larger problem, which is the problem of the mind, the problem of training, the problem of indoctrination, the education of a terrorist? 


Rumsfeld:  Well, there’s no doubt, but that we are putting enormous pressure on terrorists and very successfully on their bank accounts, on their ability to move money, on their ability to travel and communicate.  We’re capturing and interrogating in large numbers all across the world.  We’ve got 90 countries that are cooperating and that side of it is moving along.  The piece of it that I was referring to there is that there’s no – I said no metric, there’s no knowledge.  We don’t have knowledge as to the numbers of people being brought in the intake…


Q:  Yeah. 


Rumsfeld: … and trained and taught that it’s a good thing to go out and kill innocent men, women and children.  That is a major job for our country.  It’s particularly a job for the people of that faith who know that their religion is being hijacked by a very small minority o people.  And that’s -- terrorism isn’t part of that religion. 


Q:  I’ve been persuaded a lot by Bernard Lewis, emeritus professor at Princeton.  This is – there may be a billion Muslims in the world – maybe 100 million of the radical Islam persuasion.  Where are the 900 million making their case, you know, lending their weight to push this thing back in the right direction? 


Rumsfeld:  Well, think what’s going on in Afghanistan.


Q:  Right. 


Rumsfeld:  Think what’s going on – I mean India has a very large Muslim population that’s conducted itself exceedingly well.  Pakistan has a Muslim population and they’re one of our principal cooperating partners in the global war on terror.  They’ve been enormously cooperative.  Turkey is a modern success in a Muslim country.  So…


Q:  You’re right.


Rumsfeld:  They’re all across the globe.  And what you’ve got is a relatively small number of people who were determined to have it their way.  And as a result, they’re perfectly willing to kill all kinds of people. 


Q:  I think India has the second-largest Muslim country and you just mentioned.  I read there are no Indian members of al Qaeda, as far as we know, because they’re too busy building an economy and trying to prove their lot.  I mean, that’s – there’s an important message there, isn’t there? 


Rumsfeld:  I think there is.  We’ve got a number of countries that have large Muslim populations who are contributing to the world and to civilization and you have a relatively small number of terrorists that are going about the globe in Bali and in Turkey and in Saudi Arabia and in Spain and in the United States and in Iraq and Afghanistan, trying to kill people. 


Q:  Mr. Secretary, we promised we’d let you go at 40.  We overstayed our welcome a little.  Thank you. We sleep better at night, knowing you’re there.


Rumsfeld:  Thank you so much.


Q:  Okay.  Appreciate it. 


Rumsfeld:  Good-bye. 


Q:  Bye-bye.

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