Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with KMOX-AM Radio St. Louis “The Morning Meeting” with Charles Brennan
Q: You’re on the voice of St. Louis, Mr. Rumsfeld. How are you today?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Terrific. How are you?
Q: I’m doing real well, now that I’m talking to you, anyway.
SEC. RUMSFELD: [Laughs.]
Q: Can I ask you a question that’s a little bit off? Matters of national security, but not too far?
SEC. RUMSFELD: All right.
Q: You sit on what is called the National Capital Planning Commission, Washington, D.C., and this is a group that approves those security barriers around monuments in the nation’s capital. You have open hearings and open meetings. Don’t you think that that same process in Washington, D.C., which is open and transparent could be used in St. Louis, when we decide which barriers are going to surround the Gateway Arch to prevent terrorists?
SEC. RUMSFELD: You know, I’ve got so much confidence in the people of St. Louis that I just am convinced that they don’t need any free advice from someone from Illinois.
Q: Would you repeat that once again?
SEC. RUMSFELD: [Laughs.] Why?
Q: Because I wasn’t recording here, that’s why.
SEC. RUMSFELD: [Laughs.] I do. I’ve got a great deal of confidence in the people from St. Louis and they don’t need any free advice from me on that subject.
Q: But definitely in Washington, D.C., you do solicit input from all sorts of various groups and design professionals when it comes to deciding which barriers are going to surround the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial, etcetera, etcetera, correct?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I think the Department of Interior has a lot of responsibility for making those judgments with respect to it, because those areas are all part of the national park system and under the jurisdiction of the Department of Interior. And I really am not intimately knowledgeable about their procedures.
Q: Well, let me ask you then a little something about the country of Iraq, which you do know a lot about. You know, when we listened to the network news at the top of the hour, we hear again and again, Mr. Secretary, about people being kidnapped and car bombed in Iraq in broad daylight. And as recently as last week, you were expressing hope that a new Iraqi government would bring a greater calm to central Iraq. Are you re-thinking your assumptions today?
SEC. RUMSFELD: No. As a matter of fact, I’ve said continuously that I thought there’d be a level of violence continuing probably very much through the end of this year until elections and a new Iraqi constitution and a new Iraqi government are in place and the Iraqi security forces have been able to take additional responsibility for the security of the country and that’s basically what’s taking place. It’s a violent country.
Conversely, I just met with 15 – 10 or 15 – Iraqi governors and mayors and city councilmen who were here. The schools are open. They have new textbooks. The hospitals are open. The clinics are open. They have a new currency that’s strong, which tells you that the people there have confidence in their country. They’ve opened a stock market. Refugees are coming back. And so you have this mixed picture. You have, on the other hand, an evolving democracy with people moving towards the assumption of responsibility for their own country – a country that’s been under a vicious dictatorship for 35 years. Simultaneously, you have these explosive devices being set off by terrorists and criminals and remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime at the same time, trying to inhibit and retard and slow that progress towards a freer system.
Q: You wondered in a memo last fall that was leaked to USA Today whether we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Do you still wonder that?
SEC. RUMSFELD: You know, I didn’t intend for that memo to leak, obviously, but in retrospect, it’s probably been not a bad thing that it did because it set up the issue we’re facing. We’re making excellent progress in the global war on terror in terms of stopping financing, in terms of arresting and capturing people, in terms of killing terrorists and stopping terrorist activities, making it more difficult to raise money, making it more difficult to communicate.
At the same time, we know the progress we’re making, but at the same time, we don’t know how many new recruits are coming into the system at the bottom, how many people are being trained to go out and kill innocent men, women and children, how many people are being trained in some extremist madrasas school as to how you chop off somebody’s head. We can’t know that. It’s not knowable, precisely. And what we have to do is recognize that that we’re in a long-term struggle against extremists. And we have to be aggressive. We have to be attentive. We have to protect the American people and that’s our task.
Q: Do you think that we have enough troops on the ground in Iraq right now?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I guess – I don’t consider myself the ultimate answer on a question like that. I rely on General Myers and General Pace, the senior military advisers to the department and the president and General Abizaid, who is the combatant commander in that region, and General Casey. They all say we’ve got about the right number and I think they’re right. I believe they’re right. And they’re concerned that if they had any fewer right now, that it could lead to a less secure situation. They’re also concerned that if they had many more, they would simply have a heavier footprint, a great occupation presence. They’d require more force protection. They’d require more logistic support for the force protectors and the additional troops and it would be more intrusive into the Iraqi people’s lives. The real task is not putting in more Americans. The task is getting more Iraqis providing for their own security so we can begin bringing Americans out.
Q: In hindsight, if we had more international backing – and I’m talking about countries like Germany, Canada, China, France, Russia, wouldn’t that, if nothing else, spread the cost of this effort around the globe?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, we’ve got something like 26 countries, the last time I – maybe it’s 32 countries -- I think it’s 32 or 33 maybe, countries that are helping in Iraq with respect to troops and forces and assistance on the ground. That’s a large coalition. It’s a very large coalition. We’re also have been very successful in getting still other countries to go out and raise money and assist the Iraqi people in that way. We’ve also gotten countries to help with debt forgiveness for the Iraqi country. I’ve been reminded here the coalition currently has 32 nations-plus that are involved in this effort. That’s a good coalition.
Q: This is Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. I want to thank you very much for joining us today. I know your time is limited. We appreciate you sharing some of it with us today on KMOX.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I’m delighted to be with you. Thank you.