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Secretary Rumsfeld Media Stakeout at Fox News after Fox Sunday Morning

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
November 02, 2003

Rumsfeld:  Hello folks.


Q:  There’s an article in the New York Times this morning about reconstituting Iraqi units, Iraqi military units, what are your feelings about that?


Rumsfeld:  We’ve had an issue from the very beginning about how you take advantage of the fine, talented Iraqi people to provide for their own security for example.  And simultaneously not engage people who are part of the Saddam Hussein regime at a high level and who were engaged in the kinds of torture and crimes against humanity that we’ve seen on television just in recent weeks and month.  So there’s a vetting process that takes place to check the people out.


We have been using Iraqis for Iraqi security forces from day one--we’re now up to 100,000. Many of these people came from the {Iraqi] Army, they came from different Iraqi security groups, police and they’re doing a great job.  They’re out at the front line in the war on terrorism helping to provide security in the country and they’re getting killed.  Eighty-five of the Iraqis have been killed who are in the security forces, the police, the army, site protection, border patrol, civil defense people and they’re doing a darn good job.   And undoubtedly more and more will be people who have been at one time or another serving in one of these Iraqi security forces, whether it’s the police or the army, and that’s a good thing.


Q:  Mr. Secretary, there’s also an article in the Guardian that says there is disagreement between the intelligence in the U.S. and Britain whereas in the U.S. they think that the remnants of the Saddam regime are responsible for the surge in operations while the British are feeling that more indigenous people are – and groups.  What’s your assessment?


Rumsfeld:  Well, the remnants of the Ba’athist regime are indigenous people so there’s obviously no conflict.


Q:  But they say it’s more spread out in the country in several places than just the Sunni triangle and not only in the Saddam regime.


Rumsfeld:  Well, the people who are causing the troubles in that country are in three categories.  One is – Saddam Hussein let out something like 110,000 criminals on the streets, they are causing troubles. We have not been able to arrest them all and put them back in jail.  Second, there are foreign fighters who have come into the country – terrorists -- from a whole host of countries.  We’ve arrested and captured, killed, well we’ve captured, currently have, somewhere between 200 and 300 and we’ve killed a number of others.  In addition there are terrorists that come in, the Ansar al-Islam organization came back into the country out of Iran.  And last, there are thousands of Ba’athists who were part of the Saddam Hussein regime; all of them are the problems.


Q:  Sir, there are also an article about old guards from the military for U.S. soldiers not to marry Iraqis because of the case of two.  Could you shed some light on that?


Rumsfeld:  I’m not knowledgeable about that.  Anything else?


Q:  Could you give me updates about the crash this morning?


Rumsfeld:  I don’t. There have been updates every half-hour and of course first reports are always wrong and you have to – anyone else can speculate, I can’t. So I keep seeing the changing reports as to the number killed and the number of wounded, but it does appear that the U.S. helicopter was probably shot down from the ground and it crashed and a large number of Americans possibly ten, twelve, thirteen maybe more eventually, have died and [were] killed and a number have been wounded, and certainly my heart and prayers go out to the families and the loved ones of those people.  They are wonderful young men and women who serve their country and with great courage and distinction.


Q:  I have a follow-up to that.  Considering the recent acts of violence including this morning.  How do you feel about the troop strength?  Do you still think that do we need more – to bring more in or going back or?


Rumsfeld:  Total number[s] of security forces in Iraq have been going up steadily.  When one combines the Iraqis, the coalition and the U.S. forces the total number has been increasing every day.  We’re now, as I say, to over 100,000 Iraqis and that number will be going to 200,000.  What will determine – the coalition forces have been relatively low and our forces have kind of trended down from 150,000 to 130,000 -- what will happen next will depend on the security situation on the ground and how successful we are in continuing with our plans to build up the Iraqi forces.


In the last analysis the Iraqis are going to defeat the Ba’athists. It will be the Iraqi people and the Iraqi security forces that will do it and we just have to make sure we stay there and contribute to that and hopefully that’s what we’ve been doing.


Thank you folks.


Q:  It’s very clear that many Iraqis are in favor to deposing Saddam Hussein they’re very happy about those results.


Rumsfeld:  Sure.


Q:  But they can be happy about Hussein being gone and unhappy with American troops.  Are American troops winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis or are they losing it?


Rumsfeld:  I think foreign forces in any country are unnatural and I would think no country would prefer to have foreign forces in their country for long periods.  We don’t intend to. The president said we’ll stay as long we’re needed and not one day longer.  But we’ve got a job to do, we’re not going to abandon the Iraqi people, we’re going to help build up their forces and their capability and we’re going to win.


Thank you.


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