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Secretary Rumsfeld Message to the People of Iraq

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
April 30, 2003

(Recorded Message to be Broadcast to the People of Iraq)

Rumsfeld: Hello. I'm Don Rumsfeld, the American secretary of Defense. I am delighted to be able to visit Baghdad and Iraq, your country, to witness the liberation of the country. The American people share your joy and pleasure that the tyranny that was here is gone. We've watched you embrace your freedom: pulling down statues of Saddam Hussein, worshipping freely for the first time in decades, debating the future of your country, and even raising your voices in dissent on some occasion, but without fear of torture or death.

The coalition is committed to helping you as you take control of your country and make the transition from tyranny to freedom and self-government. Building a free society isn't easy. It requires hard work, sacrifice, and, indeed, time. We know this is a difficult time for many of you. Even as you celebrate your new-found freedom, you also want to see some normalcy restored to your lives, and that's understandable. You want to return to work so you can earn a living and feed your family. You want to see schools reopened, electricity restored, and water. You want to see order returned so that you and your families can venture out of your homes safely, without fear of violence. And you want to see police on the streets.

Coalition forces are working in close partnership with Iraqi citizens to restore order and basic services. Each day that goes by, conditions in Iraq are improving. In fact, in a number of parts of the country, people already have more food, more medicine, more water, more electricity than they had under the old regime. But some still do not have these basic necessities, and the coalition is working day and night to help provide for the needy.

Improvements in life in Iraq depend on finding the remnants of the old regime and ensuring that the Ba'ath Party's influence is completely removed. The coalition has taken into custody a number of the senior leaders from Saddam Hussein's regime. In almost every case, it was with the help of the Iraqi people. We need your help to capture the rest of them. We also need to rid Iraq of foreign fighters, those from neighboring countries, for the most part, who are seeking to hijack your country for their own purposes. Please help remove the threat by approaching coalition forces with any information you may have about the activities and the whereabouts of any foreign fighters in your area.

We shared a common objective in the removal of Saddam Hussein, and we share a common objective for a new Iraq -- a free country where Iraqi leaders answer to the Iraqi people instead of murdering Iraqi people and imprisoning them; where the country's wealth is used to benefit the Iraqi people, not line the pockets of a cruel dictator; where Iraqi children can play and study and learn and grow, and not worry whether their parents will be suddenly taken away by death squads.

Back home in America, I have three children and six grandchildren, and I want the same things for them that each of you want for your children and your grandchildren: safety, security and a just society where they have the freedom to pursue their dreams. We are committed to helping you as you build a new Iraq where your children and you will have those opportunities.

Let me be clear: Iraq belongs to you. The coalition has no intention of owning or running Iraq. Our coalition came here for a purpose, and it was to remove a regime that oppressed your people and threatened ours. Our goal is to restore stability and security so that you can form an interim government of your own and, eventually, a free Iraqi government; a government of your choosing, a government that is of Iraqi design and of Iraqi choice. The coalition will stay as long as necessary to help you do that, and not one day longer.

Thank you for listening.

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