United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

Transcript


Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability Enroute to Afghanistan

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
August 10, 2004

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability Enroute to Afghanistan

            SEC. RUMSFELD:   [inaudible] always look forward.  I guess what you folks do is you talk only about the first stop.  It’s your first stop, is that what you do or do you?

 

            Q:   Whatever you want to talk about.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I’ll talk about anything.  

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] you can’t write about where you’re going [inaudible] unless you choose to [inaudible] about it…

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Beyond Oman, is that what you’re saying?  Oh, I’d be happy to talk about the whole trip, but we ought not to get it all on the record, but I think you can – I’ll answer anything about whatever we’re doing, but.

 

            Q: [Inaudible]

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  They say they want to talk about the whole trip on the record, but you don’t do that, do you?

 

            Q:  I know that for security reasons, I thought we [Inaudible] something [Inaudible] to the country we were going to.  I think [Inaudible] those are the ground rules [Inaudible].

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Sure. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible]

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Yeah, yeah. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible]

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Uh-huh.  Good.  OK.  I, for whatever reason, didn’t have time to go to Afghanistan the last time I came out to the Central Command’s area of responsibility, so I will be looking forward to a chance to meet with the folks there, our military and to have a chance to look at the plans and progress towards their coming elections in October.  As you know, the United Nations and the Afghan government are in the process of preparing for the elections.  I’m told that something in excess of 9 million people have registered.  And you may recall that I believe it was the United Nations that was expressing the thought that somewhere above 3 million, possibly 4 million people registered might be an appropriate number to have a successful election.  I believe that something in excess of 3 ½ million women have registered.  So if those numbers prove out, that is an enormously successful registration process for the country. 

 

            They don’t know precisely how people there are in the country, but something like 22, 23 million I suppose is a fair number.  There have historically been resistance, as you may know, to women participating and so the 3 ½ to 4 million women that may have registered to vote is a particularly encouraging sign.  Every time I’ve been there -- I think this will be my seventh visit since the war – and every time I’ve been there, I’ve been struck by the marked improved in the economic circumstance in the country.  The energy, the people on the street, the number of cars, the activity, the building and construction. The refugees that have returned to that country number in the millions.  The number of internally displaced people is low, although people have tended to gravitate to the major cities.  I’m looking forward to being back there and having a chance to visit with the leadership of the country and their non-military folks as well. 

 

            Q:  What is your assessment of the threat the Taliban and al Qaeda remnants might pose to a democratic election?  

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  We know that the Taliban and the al Qaeda are operating on the borders of the country.  We know that they are determined to not have Afghanistan be a successful, free nation.  They would like very much to be able to re-impose their will over the Afghan people and to use that area as a terrorist training area and operating base.  They’re not going to.  They’re going to fail.  And it will very likely continue – they’ll continue to try to go after soft targets -- that is to say they’re not going to tackle coalition forces.  And I think that to the extent they have opportunities, they’ll try to dissuade the Afghan people from moving forward towards a democratic state.  And it’s a tough part of the world, and the people in Afghanistan are going to have to be tough to continue the success that’s already been achieved. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] Karzai [Inaudible]

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I’m not going to speculate about elections there or anywhere else.  Obviously, we support a free political process in that country – our country does, the coalition does, the international community does.  And we’ll see what happens.  And whatever happens, the international community will continue with its desire to see a liberated Afghanistan and a free Afghanistan and a system that is peaceful and at peace with its neighbors and respectful of all of the various diverse religious and ethnic groups in the nation. 

 

            Q:   [Inaudible] what’s going on in Pakistan right now [Inaudible] in a couple of respects. Is it your sense that they are making significant progress against suspected al Qaeda in that country. Have you had a chance to talk to Musharraf? Is this really a significant step forward?  Give us your take on it.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I think that the situation in Pakistan has to be seen as extremely encouraging to the coalition in the global war on terror.  The government of Pakistan, under the leadership of President Musharraf, has been aggressive in seeking out, attacking and capturing and killing al Qaeda.  They have been very cooperative with the United States in our efforts to put pressure on terrorist networks.  He has demonstrated a great deal of courage – personal courage.  There have been several attempts to kill him. He has moved his forces into tribal areas that they had never previously occupied in a very serious effort to track down and find terrorist networks that are threatening his regime and his government, as well as threatening the people in Afghanistan. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] narcotics problem in Afghanistan [Inaudible] what your [Inaudible]

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:   Serious. All  crops have been good in the last two years.  And that means that that crop has been good, too. Which means bad. It is a terrible thing.  It produces great wealth for people who use it to harm society.  And the Afghan government and the British in the [Inaudible] and the international community are determined to assist the government of Afghanistan in addressing this problem.  It’s a problem, obviously, for the people who end up using those drugs and particularly in Europe and Russia.  But it’s also a problem because it threatens the democratic system in Afghanistan to the extent many billions of dollars are available to criminals and people who are not democratic.  Obviously, it puts at risk that entire system, so it’s something that the government and the coalition are determined to address. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] either Islamic extremists or warlords [Inaudible]?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:   Around the world, we find linkages between hostage taking, drug running, counterfeiting, terrorism, and anti-democratic activities in various places, as well as gun-running and that type of thing. 

 

            Q:  Is there a larger role that U.S. troops could play in going after the narcotics trade in Afghanistan??

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  There are plans being fashioned now.  I don’t want to get into whose troops could do what.  We’ve got a lot we’re doing with respect to the terrorist networks.  It requires an overall master plan and that is what’s being developed.

 

            Q:  What do you think…

 

            [Cross Talk]

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] understand what you’re saying there?  A master plan for [Inaudible] department [Inaudible] U.S. military?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  No. I’m talking about the government of Afghanistan and the coalition and the world clearly have to address this problem.  It’s a serious problem. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] number of the commitments made [Inaudible] Istanbul summit [Inaudible].  Are you happy that is proceeding as you would like? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:   The secretary general of NATO has made Afghanistan a priority for NATO.  That’s a good thing.  The NATO nations in Istanbul underlined and punctuated that priority. The first piece of NATO’s role, of course, was an historic activity for NATO -- to go that far out of Europe and to engage in an activity which they did with the ISAF (International  Security Assistance Force) -- to take over them, was a big, big step for NATO.  They have taken a second step, which was to expand out of the Kabul area with respect to some Provincial Reconstruction Teams.  And more recently a third step to provide some assistance with the upcoming elections. 

 

            NATO now is an institution of 26 nations of various sizes and capabilities.  They are involved in activities, as you know, in the Balkans still.  And they recently indicated an interest in assisting with training and equipping of the Iraqi security forces.  So they have a lot going on.  They have the task of transforming their military to fit the 21st century -- to transform their military out of static defense orientation towards more usable and deployable capabilities and to develop the NATO Response Force, which is a big initiative for the institution -- and simultaneously engage in activities in not just the Balkans, but Afghanistan and Iraq. So they’ve got a lot of activity under way in [Inaudible].

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] arrest warrant for Chalabi [Inaudible] the Iraqi government? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I have asked some questions about it and I’m just not that knowledgeable about it. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] do you have [Inaudible]? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I don’t.  I’m not knowledgeable [Inaudible]. Clearly there’s an Iraqi judge, an Iraqi warrant and not a U.S. activity.

 

            Q: Do you think al Sadr is positioning himself to be sort of the next Yasser Arafat for that region [Inaudible] ?  Would that [Inaudible] of what some would call a terrorists and they’re [Inaudible] being a politician or a diplomat or a Nobel Peace Prize winner? [Inaudible] serious question.

 

            [Cross Talk]

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:   It’s [Inaudible] though that never crossed my mind. I just don’t know.  He’s young.  He has been almost uniformly unhelpful, unconstructive and somewhat [Inaudible]. You listen to him one day promising cooperation and the another day inciting riots.  He clearly is a – he’s traded off the name of his family and thus far at least one would have to characterize it as almost uniformly unconstructive. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] Afghanistan.

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  It’s tough.  And they’re making progress on it and I believe that the Provincial Reconstruction Teams, while they’re still somewhat untested and they’re not uniform, they vary just as the situation on the ground varies in that country, one would logically expect these reconstruction teams to be distinctively different, depending on which part of the country they’re in.  But they have helped extend the reach of the central government and the president has been active in putting in place provincial leadership that has been, I think, increasingly doing a good job of helping extend the reach of the government.  The road helps also -- the circumferential (the Ring Road); it’s not complete, but that’s a big thing for a country that’s landlocked to have that dramatic an improvement in their ability to connect, for example, Kabul to Kandahar. 

 

            I think one of the real tasks for the country, they don’t have the oil wealth that Iraq has, they don’t have the water wealth that Iraq has.  And one of the real tasks for them is to, I think, fashion a set of requirements so that people doing governmental construction in the country have to hire more Afghan people and that would mean they would have to have more vocational education capability and not long periods, but two months, three month, four-month periods, so that some fraction of the people working in the economic activity of the country would be increasingly be Afghans, as opposed to the people from neighboring countries, which is the case at the president time. You go to Kandahar and a very high percentage of them are Pakistanis working there and the reason they’re working there is they have the skill sets and a lot of the Afghan people, you think what they’ve gone through, they’ve gone through an occupation by the Soviet Union, they’ve gone through the vicious rule by the Taliban. They’ve had drought.   They’ve had civil war.  It hasn’t been an easy time.  And so they need a period where they’re able to get into the flow of economic activity.  And the only way I know to do that is kind of like Leon (sp) Sullivan did with the operation [Inaudible] opportunity industrial centers where he connected a vocational education element directly to jobs so that as they came in knowing there was a job at the end of that one, two, three, four, five-month period.  And they flowed right into that activity and I’m hopeful that they’re going to be able to do more of that in Afghanistan. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] it plays to question then as to whether the Taliban is actually getting stronger and also whether they’re getting support from elements [Inaudible]?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  The attack numbers have vacillated [Inaudible], I guess, oscillated [Inaudible] over time.  I don’t know that I would characterize it [Inaudible].   They tend to go down during the winter and go up in better weather.  It’s not surprising.  Is the Taliban still active in the neighboring areas, sure. That’s just a fact.  And are they going to end up being successful, no.  They’re going to end up losing.  And to the extent they concentrate, they’ll lose faster.  So the larger the groups of Taliban that come together, the better the targets and the faster they’ll be killed or captured. 

 

            [Cross Talk]

 

            Q:  [Inaudible]

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I think that’s debatable.  I think it’s probably a lie.  But I think probably [Inaudible] but active leadership is probably evolved in people that he knows, but I doubt it.  He certainly is not – he’s busy hiding. 

 

            Q:  In Afghanistan? 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I don’t know.  

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] a lot of publicity [Inaudible] contributions to the war on terrorism.  Could you address those two nations and the importance of – and just sort of like a [Inaudible]?

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I don’t know that I would use that phrase. We have a very – have had and do have a very good relationship with Oman and the leadership there.  They’ve been consistently constructive participants in the activities in the region. Azerbaijan obviously was a country that was early on a supporter of the global war on terror in terms of overflight rights and various other types of cooperation. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] Omanis were nervous about Iran? 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  The region was nervous about Iran and has been for a couple of decades.  You’ve got a very small handful of clerics running that country.  They’re developing nuclear capabilities in defiance of the IAEA.   They are on the terrorist list.  They are active with Hezbollah and funneling terrorist activities down through Damascus and into Lebanon and into Israel.  They are unhelpful, distinctly unhelpful in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And it’s not surprising that countries in the region worry about their behavior.  I suspect an awful lot of the Iranian people worry about the behavior of the government as well.  And I think that it’s an interesting problem, unlike all North Korea which has been more of a closed society, the Iranian people have a very good sense of what’s going on in the rest of the world.  And they can’t help but see that they are being by their government denied the full benefits of interaction with the rest of the world. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] the United States [Inaudible] specifically for [Inaudible]?

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I’m not going to get into that. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] not going to get into?

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  No, no.  We have a good relationship.  I mean, that’s not [Inaudible]. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] I understand what you were saying earlier; is it correct to say that [Inaudible] how we [Inaudible]?

            SEC. RUMSFELD:   It is correct to say that there is a full understanding that the enormous wealth that comes from dealing drugs can be put to uses that are adverse to our interests and the interests of the Afghan government.  The problem is a demand problem in its essence, in my view.  And it’d be ultimately over time the way that problem’s going to be dealt with is that people are going to find, for whatever reason may strike them, how destructive they are to human life -- drugs.  But the demand in the world is enormous.  And while that demand exists, there will be a supply.  It’ll be here, there or somewhere else, but there’ll be a supply. 

 

            And [Inaudible] we used to say about agricultural products – all of them – the answer to high prices is high prices.  The higher the price is, the more people produce it and they’ll produce it somewhere and they’ll either produce it in the ground or they’ll produce it synthetically, but it’s a demand problem in its essence.  However, it is a supply problem in the sense of a specific country.  And that’s what’s been impressive about how Colombia has gone after this problem.  I don’t know that the successful efforts in Colombia -- to work that problem over the same period of time through eradication and military activity -- I don’t know that that’s reduced the drugs in the United States or western Europe, but it’s clearly reduced the amount of money that’s available to people who are trying to overthrow that government, or trying to take hostages, or trying to run guns. And that’s a good thing.  And that’s what needs to be done, not [Inaudible] but we need a broad effort in Afghanistan to make sure that the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, undoubtedly billions of dollars,  available [Inaudible] over time that people are willing to pay for the destructive drugs does not go into the hands of people who want to also simultaneously destroy democracy or reinstitute a Taliban government or provide funds to al Qaeda or whatever.  We just don’t want that to happen.  Too much effort’s going into this in Afghanistan to have it go up like that. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible]

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  It’s an interesting question.  As you’ll recall, the Iraqi security forces went from about zero up to something like 206,000, and then if you go into that number, as we’ve always said, what you find is they vary in the amount of training they have had, and they vary in their equipment, and they vary in their manning – the manning of specific units.  In some instances, people were kept on the rolls who were killed and families received the money.  In some instances, people who had retired were kept on roll.  So the numbers got up into the mid-200,000s.  But in fact, if you took just the people that are on duty every day, just the people who are fully trained and just the people who are fully equipped, the number – the current best guess is about 110,000.  And the difference between 110[000] and 206,000 are people who were partially trained and partially equipped. 

 

            Now, if we go down to the baseline for the sake argument to 110,000, we now believe we can – excuse me – we now believe we can probably train up at least 50,000 more – let me rephrase it – complete the training or start and complete the training and equip something like another 50,000 over the coming three or four months.  We’ve got the process in place.  We’ve got the contracts out for the equipment.  That’s the hard stuff.  Hard, meaning physically hard. 

 

            The difficult stuff is the soft stuff and that is to say the command structure, the chain of command for the Iraqis, the mentoring of police. In other words, you don’t train a policeman and then just send them out.  You train a policemen, give him a new command structure, get him with mentoring and mid-level leadership.  And if that stops, which is not – it doesn’t lend itself to metrics quite the way the equipment and the number of weeks training and the numbers do.  That’s the harder stuff, and that’s where we’ve got things in place to do and to perfect.  And we’ve got a good team of folks out there working it and I get briefed on it every three or four days as to where we are, and I feel that a lot of good is happening.

 

            Q:  [Inaudible]

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:   Given the variety of equipment, given the variability as to the quality of how well they’re equipped and the variability with respect to their training, the answer to your question is it varies.  And if we took a lightly armed U.S. military unit and put them against an outfit with AK-47s and mortars and various types of explosives, rocket-propelled grenades and the like.  Obviously, the better part of valor would be to stand off, get yourselves some better-armed folks that are [Inaudible] and so what you read in the press is this outfit got clobbered or this outfit didn’t stand and fight; they left their post. 

 

            And what you need to know is that where they’re trained, where they’re equipped, they’re doing a very good job.  There are a few highly trained units, counterterrorist units that are moving around the country [Inaudible] doing a particularly good job and then there are units that are trained to a level and do that level very well, but do not do levels up.  I mean, you’re not going to find a police unit from some city in the United States doing what a special forces unit should do.  And that’s just the nature of life.

 

            But I feel very good about it.  They are standing in line to be recruited.  They’re volunteering for these posts.  There’s no shortage of people and they’ve killed many, many, many more Iraqis – security forces -- in recent weeks and months than coalition forces.  And it shows that they’re not hiding in their barracks.  They’re out there doing things, they’re engaging them and that’s a good thing.  It’s their country.  And the other thing is they know the language.  They’ve got better situational awareness than coalition forces do.  So what you do is you start out with a coalition force and train like mad and equip like made and pretty soon you start doing joint patrolling.  And you look at the numbers, which come out every day, and the numbers – the proportion of joint patrols is going up steadily to coalition-only patrols.  The next step is Iraqi patrols with us in the background – coalition in the background – prepared to assist. And the faster that gets done, the better off everyone’s going to be. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] along the [Inaudible] and borders [Inaudible], you know, [Inaudible]? 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  [Inaudible] move the numbers along different parts of that country all the time.  They go up and down, depending on the tactical situation, situation on the ground, the intelligence. 

 

            Q:  Can I just go back to [Inaudible]…

            SEC. RUMSFELD:   [Inaudible] talking about [Inaudible], no. 

 

            Q:  Back to Chalabi’s arrest warrant, do you know – have they been [Inaudible] Iraqi government informed the U.S.  government that they would like to do this and has anybody from the Pentagon [Inaudible] Chalabi [Inaudible]?

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Not to my knowledge on either question.  I have no knowledge of [Inaudible].

 

            Q:  The national director of intelligence, we haven’t heard much from you directly on your view on all of this.  Can you run us through your thinking?  Are there any – I guess the way I would ask the question -- are there any parts of the current Pentagon portfolio on intelligence you would be willing to cede to a new national director and if that’s the way to think about all of it. 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  [Inaudible] First of all, I’m not going to be making the decision; the president and the Congress will.  So what I’d be willing to do doesn’t make much difference. Just a few principles, it seems to me. One is this is a very complicated subject and we’re in the middle of a war.  And if you’re going to tear down what is, you darned well better be rather certain about what you’re going to put in its place. 

 

            Second, the principle user of intelligence is the Department of Defense.  And third, one ought to ask the question if someone has a proposed solution, what problem is that solution going to solve?  And that forces one to look at things three dimensionally, rather than one-dimensionally.  And if one looks at the [Inaudible] 9/11 Commission Report and looks at what they’ve concluded were the problems, then anyone who has a suggestion to fix those problems ought to be able to connect their so-called reform to what the problem it’s going to fix.  And it would be wonderful if life were simple; it isn’t.  Take the stovepipe problem.  We talked about it in the ballistic missile threat commission.  It’s a serious problem.  How do you solve that?  [Inaudible] moving something around in boxes, creating new boxes, [Inaudible] old boxes [Inaudible], I think [Inaudible] and that is a big deal and that’s what the 9/11 Commission focused on.  And the problem with it is it doesn’t lend itself to a bumper stick that’s attractive for a 30-second sound bite. 

 

            Do you want me to stop breathing or what?  [Laughter] It almost requires a change in culture. You want me to wait [Inaudible]. I might just by accident say something you want.

 

            Q:  [Inaudible]

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Well, let me answer.  It’s almost a culture.  Now how do you change that?  How do you go from insular services to jointness?  Well, first of all, it takes time and second, it takes education.  It’s taking people from the Navy and sticking them in West Point and vice versa.  It takes an approach that changes how people think and behave.  Now, is that the kind of thing anyone is going to write about or talk about on television? No.  But is that critically important?  You bet.  The oversight issue that Congress – that the commission talked about with respect to Congress, there’s no doubt in my mind that a joint intelligence committee of a reasonable size would create a better partner for the executive branch to interact with and permit better oversight over a sustained period of time.  Is that going to happen? I don’t know. And I don’t even know if the president will recommend it. In the last analysis it’s not up to the  executive branch anyway.  But those kinds of things are quite important. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] too much jointness and have too much intelligence and [Inaudible]?

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Nick, that’s always the risk. There’s a tradeoff.  What are you getting for what you’re giving?  And each time you bust down a stovepipe, you run the risk of having information compromised.  Each time you don’t break down a stovepipe, you run the risk of having people need to know something and not knowing, which is what the 9/11 Commission said.  Someone who knew something here and didn’t know it there because there was a wall. 

 

            Now one thing that was never mentioned in the 9/11 Commission that I recall is something that society ought to think about and that is: Is it today impossible to keep a secret?  Have we arrived a point where the numbers of people involved are so large and the pressure from the press and the media and enemies is so great and the culture is such of openness, such that you simply can’t keep a secret anymore.  I mean, if we arrived at the point where we’ve relaxed at the end of the Cold War and no longer believe that loose lips sinks ships, and that in fact therefore everyone can be casual about how they handle intelligence information and information that can cause people’s lives to be lost.  Now that wasn’t even discussed, but it’s not a trivial issue. It’s an important issue. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] wasn’t addressed correctly.  Intelligence falls in two categories:  strategic warning, why didn’t we know about 9/11 in advance; and then the intelligence that supports the war fighter – tactical operational battlefield intelligence.  [Inaudible]  tribal intelligence, those are two different things.  How would this national intelligence director manage or improve either of those two?

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  That’s unclear.  First of all, let me elaborate on your construct.  You can take a single piece of information and it could come from a human being, it could come from an electronic method, it can come from an overhead satellite.  And the user of that couldn’t care less.  So where it’s collected is irrelevant to the user.   Second, you can take a single piece of information and it can simultaneously today be of enormous value on the battlefield and of considerable interest [Inaudible].  So the idea that you can say this is national intelligence and not tactical or military intelligence, it’s just wrong.  Those old ideas are gone.  I mean, a satellite picture or a piece of human intelligence or a piece of electronic intelligence can be every bit as valuable, regardless of where it came from, can be every bit as valuable throughout the entire process. 

 

            A couple of principles I think are important.  One is in research and development, the worst thing you could do is put all your R&D people in one place, have them go to lunch together, have them be together all the time, have them think like each other, and you’re going to end up dampening down creativity and innovation.  You’re vastly better off with multiple centers of excellence and the same thing’s true of intelligence.  The worst thing in the world -- some people are saying you need a czar; you need a person to be in charge of all intelligence.

 

            Q:   [Inaudible]

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  [Inaudible].  There you go.  Now is that really a good idea?  I think most people who understand intelligence want competitive intelligence analysis.  They want competitive analysis.  They want multiple sources and they do not want things centralized and homogenized into group think. As the commission report said, that’s not a good thing. 

 

            Now, what does all that mean?  Does that mean you shouldn’t have a national intelligence director? No. You can have a national intelligence director.  As long as you understand what you really need is good intelligence.  And the way you really get good intelligence is to have competitive analysis, multiples sources of information. This subject -- what’s going on right now -- is really a good thing for this country.  It’s a good thing the commission existed.  It’s a good thing they issued the report.  It’s a good thing the Congress is holding hearings.  I have had into the Pentagon Bill Cohen, Harold Brown, Jim Schlesinger, (Frank) Carlucci, Bill Studeman, Bill Webster.  I’ve talked on the phone with Bob Gates.  Dick Myers and I have into the Pentagon Admiral Crowe, General Herres, David Jones, a bunch of the former chairmen and the former vice chairmen.  Why?  I met with the head of NSA and the head of NRO and all those folks in my office, with Mr. Cambone for lunch the other day and we talked about these things.  What’s happening is a good thing.  There’s a lot of people who are very smart who’ve spent a lot of time on these subjects and who care about them and understand how important they are to our country.  And that debate is going on and that analysis is going on and it’s been in the back of our minds, we ought to have that important thought of H.L. Mencken that “For every human problem, there’s a solution that’s simple, neat and wrong.” 

 

            [Cross Talk]

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:   And what we need to do is to keep focusing on what it is we’re trying to accomplish and then testing everyone’s ideas against whether it moves the ball down the field. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] so far and [Inaudible] offer [Inaudible] of a national intelligence director? 

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  The question is what is it.  The idea that he can make a simple statement like that and get an answer yes or no is…

 

            Q:  [Inaudible]

            SEC. RUMSFELD:   … but what’s he’s going to do?  Who’s he going to [Inaudible] to, who’s going to [Inaudible], what [Inaudible]? 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible]

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  Let me finish.  Let me finish.  Let me finish.  The president’s proposal was that there’ll be one.  I agree.  I think that’s a good idea.  And then the question is one what? And that is what’s going on now.  And everyone wants to rush to judgment.  They want answer that’s simply neat and potentially [Inaudible].

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] secretary [Inaudible] give up that 80 percent budget authority[Inaudible] over these [Inaudible]?

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  First of all, [Inaudible] I’ve answered that question [Inaudible].  It was asked earlier and I answered it and I said that it’s not for me.  It is for the Congress and the president to make those…

 

            Q:  [Inaudible]

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  The idea of taking all intelligence gathering and all intelligence analysis and sticking it in one place would seem to me would be about akin to taking all research and development and sticking it in one place.  What would happen would be that within a relatively short period of time, you find that it would start up again, where it was needed.

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] Pentagon [Inaudible]

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I am looking for the best possible way of fashioning U.S. intelligence-gathering for the 21st century.  And what that is, I don’t know.  I’m meeting with people because I know there are things that I don’t know. I’m meeting with people smarter than I am, because I know they’re smarter than I am.  And I am asking a lot of questions about people who think they have answers, trying to probe to see if, in fact, the solutions they have actually fit real problems.   Now I know that is enormously unsatisfactory at this time for people who are looking for the ultimate solution to the intelligence community difficulties.  But if I knew the answer, I’d give it, and I don’t. 

 

            Q:  [Inaudible] covert operations [Inaudible] primarily in the military [Inaudible].

 

            SEC. RUMSFELD:  I think that’s a misunderstanding of what the commission recommended.  They didn’t recommend moving covert operations, at least as I read it.  They recommended moving paramilitary operations.  Covert operation can be clandestine activities that have nothing to do with paramilitary. They can be influenced activities and they recommended leaving that with the agency.  [Inaudible] What – and the answer is I don’t know.  I’ve talked to four or five people about that, trying to understand why they recommended it and what they think would be accomplished and what the problem is that that would fix.  And I haven’t been able to sort it out in my mind as to what I think about it, to be honest with you.  It is not a simple question. It’s a big set of issues.  My problem is that [Inaudible] there are folks who just as soon have me do that.

Additional Links

Stay Connected