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Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with Barry Schweid, Associated Press

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
August 03, 2004

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with Barry Schweid, Associated Press

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Barry? 


            Q:  Hello, Mr. Secretary.  How are you


SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, I’m right back where I started. 


            Q:  Well, [Chuckles] I understand.  I understand that happens.  It’s surprising sometimes, but if you like what you do, you like what you do. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  That’s right. 


            Q:  Well, listen, the general really was tough on Doug Feith.  Very tough.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  That fellow Franks. 


            Q:  What?


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  That fellow Franks is a character.  He is great to work with.  He’s flamboyant, he’s brilliant and he’s a world-class general.  And he seldom holds back. 


            Q:  Yeah.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  So he says things and laughs and goes out ….  But Doug Feith, of course, is without question, one of the most brilliant individuals in government.  He is – he’s just a rare talent.  And from my standpoint, working with him is always interesting.  He’s been one of the really the intellectual leaders in the administration in defense policy aspects of our work here. 


            Q:  Right.  I didn’t intend to interrupt.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I haven’t seen Tom’s book, but I know [inaudible] to people.  And of course, he feels that way about other generals often.  [Chuckles]


            Q:  Well, he was a little critical of Powell.  He was a little critical of Armitage.  He said something about Doug proposed some notion of training thousands of Iraqi security people before the war, so they would be available afterward and that, you know, the general beat that down.   As a result, only about 70 people were trained.  And as you look back, it wasn’t such a bad idea, was it?    Is that an accurate…


             SEC. RUMSFELD:  [inaudible] remember Doug and others here as well as people outside of government urging that Iraqis be trained and given an opportunity to participate in the liberation of the country.  And Doug unquestionably was in the forefront of that.  You can imagine that a group of professional uniformed military personnel preparing for a major conflict and recognizing the difficulties of it, he focused on their piece of it, which is the piece of getting that job done and getting it done in the fastest way that saved the most lives and the military and civilian as well.  So that interest that Doug and others had, I think, was a valid one. 


            Q:  Was a what, sir? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  A valid interest.


            Q:  A valid interest, yeah. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Logical idea.


            Q:  Right. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  And it was carried forward, but it was not the kind of thing that one could expect the uniformed military to want to carry forward because that’s off to the side of what they’re doing. 


            Q:  Right. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  A value that accrues to our country by having a bunch of Iraqis trained and equipped and ready to go into that process is a value that generally results after the war is over and to a very limited [inaudible] during the conflict and basically through interpreters and that type of thing. 


            Q:  But would it be fair to say Doug and others promoted the idea.  It really wasn’t accepted.  You’re not critical of the general for not accepting it, but he had – you know, his attention focused on immediate needs and the idea was beat back or was set aside, would you say? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, it was clearly promoted by Doug and others and it was clearly a good idea. 


            Q:  Right. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  And it did happen, although it didn’t happen in a time frame or in a volume that many had hoped.  And on the other hand, looking at it from Tom’s standpoint, it really wasn’t his business as such.  It would be the business of people who were focused on the aftermath of the war and the postwar problems and the importance of having Iraqis having played a part in their own liberation. 


            Q:  OK.  You know, I don’t know how much time we have and I don’t want to, you know, take too much of your time.  So I’m wondering if I could ask you for some examples of where Doug was a contributor.  Would you credit him with particular – do you want to single out particular things that he advanced that you’re glad he did? 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I mean, setting aside the war, he has been involved in the entire contingency planning process in the department for the last 3-1/2 years.  He has been one of the initiators of the proliferation security initiative that the administration’s adopted, been one of the people who has been central along with the joint staff in fashioning our strategy with respect to the global war on terror.   This global peace initiative that we’re working on has been a big thing.  One other thing that we’re working on and it’s received a lot of publicity, of course, is the global footprint and our posture around the world and our security engagement process and how we rearrange ourselves after the 20th century. 


            Q: Oh, yeah, yeah.   We’ve talked to – Doug and I have talked about that.  Yeah. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  And that is a big thing and it’s going to have lasting impact on the United States and how we’re set around the world, in terms of the usabilty of our forces.   The contributions Doug Feith has made in this department are truly significant.  And all the people know that.  I mean, Tommy – people in the building know it, people outside the building know it.  People in the interagency process know it and…


            Q:  You say Tommy knows it, too. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Oh, I’m sure he does.  He’s a terrific guy.  He just – things come out.


            Q:  [Chuckles]


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  And I haven’t read his book, but…


            Q:  Oh, you should see the quote. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  If his language is as colorful as it…


            Q:  It’s colorful.


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, then you get a little flavor for him.


            Q:  All right.   Well, listen, I thank you – oh, do you have a second to – I didn’t read the book, but I got a lot of clips on it, while I was trying to get in touch.  And you know, he says Powell jumped the line of command, the chain of command complaining that we have to use massive force in Iraq and Franks says something like, hey, that was ’91, this is a different era, you know, we’re doing the right thing, et cetera.  Do you have anything to say about those kind of things or?


SEC. RUMSFELD:  Oh, I haven’t read it. 


Q:  OK.  OK.  Oh, where am I talking to you at? 


SEC. RUMSFELD:  The office in the Pentagon. 


            Q:  OK, sir.  Listen, thank you very, very much. 


            SEC. RUMSFELD:  You bet you.  Good to talk to you, Barry. 


Q:  Goodbye, sir.

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