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Secretary Rumsfeld Press Availability En Route Washington, D.C.

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
September 08, 2003
 Rumsfeld:  I had read the President's speech I did not see it I don't know how many of you saw it but it was an important speech, it was a speech that he had given a great deal of thought to, it won reason in the clips if one listens to it.  It ought to remind us all that this is a global war on terror.  It is a serious, serious set of threats that exists in a lot of places in the world.  It is a new type of warfare, it is not conventional, it is not Armies or Navies or Air Forces it is as they say, asymmetrical in its nature and it is requiring not just our country but other countries in the world to adapt how we do things, where we do them and the fundamental principle is the principle that President Bush put forth.

 

            Defense does not work against terrorist networks.  We cannot defend every single place all the time.  You have to defend you have to try to defend but you must in addition reach out and go after the terrorist and those that are attacking innocent men, women and children and find them where they are and find their havens and disrupt their network and that takes all elements of national power it means a phrase (inaudible) that I've been using every since September 11th two years ago next week.

 

            It is something that requires the tackling of financing, sharing intelligence, tackling their movements from country to country, dealing with the individuals who harbor them and if you think back over the past almost two years now, there's been a great deal accomplished and each day additional things are being accomplished.

 

            The attack is against the Taliban that took place in Afghanistan during the - that day and the day or two before was a highly successful effort against a number of Taliban that is not knowable at the moment but it was, some thinking access of a hundred and maybe double or more that amount and a large number of them were killed some of whom were captured and the information from those captured will be the kind of thing that will lead to still additional efforts on the part of the Coalition in Afghanistan.

 

            The work going on in Iraq is as you saw it, it's varied from area to area in the country, it is being approached and not in a conventional way because it's not a conventional set of issues.  It's being approached by very talented, creative civilian and military leadership and their teams in the (inaudible) country in ways that are appropriate to the circumstance that exist in the various sections of Iraq.

 

            So if what they heard from the President was designed to get the worlds eyes focused on the fact that it's going to take time as we have said for two years, it's going to take patience, it's going to take the willingness to adapt how we do things, it's going to take new elements of government organizations so that the threads of different responsibilities can be brought up to a needle head in a coherent and responsible way.

 

            And I'll be happy to respond to a few questions.

 

            Q:  I think we all case your point after the 4 or 5 days that we've been with you (inaudible) but this whole (inaudible) chaos and that's the story, it's not the whole story.  Did you plan to do anything when you get back to win over the chaos facts, we saw what you saw (inaudible)?

 

            Rumsfeld:  Well what we've been doing is we've been trying to get from the very beginning in Iraq we tried to get a large number of people from the media into the country so that they can see for themselves what's taking place.  It's been very open, we have given enormous access to the media, we have been working very hard to get increasing numbers of members of the House and Senate into the AOR- into the region of Iraq and into Afghanistan so they can talk to people and see what's taking place. (inaudible).

 

            We have been trying to find ways to get people from Iraq engaged with people outside of Iraq.  We went to the meeting in Jordan for example, we've encouraged them to participate in the Arab League (inaudible), trying to see that the people who do know what's taking place in their province in their government.  You heard the governor up in (inaudible) we talked to the governor up in Mosul.  We get people who are at some risk - difficult risk for themselves assuming responsibility for leadership in their countries.  So they have a great deal of creditability.  We have taken our senior military commanders and I asked General Abizaid before he came back to the region to go up and brief the House and the Senate, which he did in which I do about every two weeks when I'm in town but (inaudible) he is the commander for that area and he went up and he spoke to something like 16 members of the Senate and 100 at the House.  I asked him to stop through London and he met with Prime Minister Blair and some of the leadership there, we're very close coalition partners.

 

            We have done a great deal to see that people who have responsibilities, the media, the Congress others have a chance to see first hand for themselves and for those of us that have responsibility for governing, the executive branch (inaudible) and to the extent we can be helpful and explain to people what exactly (inaudible).  Now if you got al Jazeera day after day after day pounding the people in the region with things that are not true, which is what they do, it is amazing that you got people running around repeating things that are not true, someone writes the story and then copycat journalists take the story repeat it on television, rewrite it and send it all over.  (Inaudible) I know that's how the world works but it's not helpful.  Now am I unhappy with anyone of the (inaudible)?  No we live in the world that we live in and we know how to accept that, so what we got to do is work even harder to see that the truth about what's taking place is understood (inaudible).  But it is very difficult in Afghanistan in Iraq and indeed with respect to the global war on terror to write or do a sound bite and drop a (inaudible) and say that's what it is because it isn't a single thing (inaudible) it is various things taking place in various parts of the world and various parts of our country and the circumstance of it has a degree of complexity that brings with it a difficult thing to (inaudible).

 

            Q:  I know that you're making a big effort to expand the Iraqi security forces and in your press conference you said that Iraqis had to stand up and assume more responsibility.

 

            Rumsfeld:  But we are (inaudible) 55,000.

 

            Q:  The situation in Najaf where you have militia bring (inaudible) brigade (inaudible) they're not in street.  I understand that they've been given a week to decide.  In the time that it takes to get Iraqi security forces in place aren't you going to have a big problem of people freelancing their own security?

 

            Rumsfeld:  If you look at any country after a conflict, have a somewhat different situation from other countries and within a single country the (inaudible) done a variety of things on borders in their areas.  That's an example of a distinctively different thing.  Our security people General Sanchez and Jerry Bremer and his people are talking to elements of the Iraqi population to (inaudible) assist on other border areas where there's a unique distinctive problem but there's been an oversight we have gone out of our way to try to get Iraqis to guard their own (inaudible).  Now would it be nice if there was a trained pure democratically civilian confirmed Army, border patrol, police department, tight protection teams that could have in one second taken over, would that have been nice?  Of course it would be nice.  Has it ever happened in history of mankind?   Of course not, so what do you do?  You've got bright talented military leaders and you saw those folks, these are very, very high quality people, they are talented and what they're doing is they're using their brains and their judgment to make solutions that help their circumstance at that moment, recognizing that over a period of time obviously you prefer to have all the kinds of things that I just described that are national, that have been completely de-Ba'athified and what have you.  We don't lack large numbers of militia than any country that are disconnected from a central government.  Does it make sense to use them in an intervening period?  Of course it does.

 

            Q:  Mr. Secretary you don't hear a lot of talk about (inaudible)?

 

            Rumsfeld:  We didn't stop the drug problem in Afghanistan.  As you may - I'm sure you know different countries assume different responsibilities in Afghanistan.  The Germans took the police, the Afghan Army we're working with, the British under (inaudible) agreed to take the responsibility for the drug problem and all of us (inaudible).

 

(TAPE IS INAUDIBLE).

 

            Rumsfeld:  I think you took the plug out.

 

(TAPE RESUME)

 

            Q:  (Inaudible)?

 

            Rumsfeld:  Yeah and you pay agreed to take the lead on that.  It is a very serious problem.  The country of Afghanistan had the good fortune of a wonderful harvest this year in everything unfortunately part of that good harvest involved poppies and the potential for heroin.  It is something that President Karzai is concerned about, working on, it is something that we're being supportive of the UK on and as is true all over the globe it is a demand problem, the demand is so great and the billions of dollars available to buy these drugs are so substantial that it leads people to do something that is just terribly damaging to humanity but very lucrative for them.

 

            Q:  (Inaudible)?

 

            Rumsfeld:  Theirs a demand problem everywhere in the world by my standard, everyone has their own opinion of that but I think it is a demand problem that needs to be dealt with at the supply side at the demand side through education, through law enforcement in every respect because the demand is so powerful.  I mean there's just billions of billions of dollars that are being made available to people to be used for things that can be enormously damaging, maybe terrorism, their maybe hostage taking, maybe anti-democratic forces in Columbia for example.  It can be used to subvert elections in countries, it's a terrible, terrible thing simply because it wasn't something that came up (inaudible) publicly, I can assure you it came up privately (inaudible).

 

            Q:  After you're meeting with David Key.  How confident were you? Did your confidence level change at all in terms of whether WMD can be found?

 

            Rumsfeld:  It didn't.  We did not have much of a discussion on the substance of what he is turning up.  Our conversation understandable was focused basically on process and how we can be helpful to them in seeing that they are able to do their job well.

 

            Q:  You said that the war on terror was going to be a long hard play.  Does that mean that the American people are going to have to get use to numbers like those that (inaudible) $87 billion dollars a year this year, more casualties, troops in Iraq and in Afghanistan are roughly the numbers we have now for the foreseeable future?

 

            Rumsfeld:  What we saw on September 11th was something in the neighborhood of 3,000 Americans killed and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars of economic loss in addition to these human losses.  What we have seen since has been a fashioning of a 90-nation coalition where each of these countries is increasingly using all elements of national power to go out and deal with the problem that threatens the world, which is the denial of the ability to function as free people.

 

            In the process, some people have been killed that is true and it is always just heartbreaking and heart wrenching experience.  People have also been wounded and those of us who go those hospitals and visit with those people have so much respect for their courage and for their conviction that what they did and are doing was the right thing to do.  Who knows what will face us the next year, the year after but the President recognizes what's at stake, he sat it out for the American people, he gave an honest summary of what he believes to be the likely cost that the United States will have to fund.  He will simultaneously undertake an effort to get other countries to participate as they have over the last 2 years not just in forces but also with finances as well as other types of cooperation.

 

            The American people understand the threat and no matter how people want to characterize it one has to look at sure the cost - the cost in lives, the cost in money but one has to also look at the cost if one were to decide to throw in the towel.  There is no middle ground, there is no safe place people can go hide and let's get off the world, I want to get off the world - you can't.  And three people above all others the very thing that we are about is the ability to be free and to the extent people are terrorized they're not free, if they're terrorized they're forced to do something other than what normally free people do which is what it is they wish to do, if you're terrorized you can't do what it is you wish to do.

 

            Q:  What is the current U.S. military doing or can do in the future to crack down on terror?

 

            Rumsfeld:  We'll be happy to get the 50 or 20 or 30 people who are working on all of the things we're doing in the Department of Defense to make the Department function more efficiently, more effectively in coping with these kinds of problems (inaudible).  I just read an email from a person who spent a month plus in the Philippines in roughly one location and it happened to be the location where the United States military went in, in 2002 and conducted the (inaudible) the Balikatan 202 on Baufulon(?) Island and we did not go in there with force, we did not go in there and kill a lot of people, we did not go in and capture people, we went in, in support of the Philippine Army the request of the Philippine government and dug wells and helped people who were ill and fixed (inaudible) and provided medical assistance and roads and the result of that according to this very skilled observer was - if I use a positive word someone will say that I'm looking through rose colored glasses so I shan't.  What I will say is it will be well worth people going and looking at that and seeing if this observer, this very knowledgeable observer who just spent a month there talking to people and seeing what the affect of that was, an island where the (inaudible) had been where they had terrorized the community and where they are not now and where the community is not terrorized according to this individual and I will not use any exits here.

 

            Q:  (Inaudible) for continuing the type of programs for (inaudible) kind of programs that you're talking about in the Philippines, elsewhere because in the first year of Administration there's been talk of rolling (inaudible) a lot of those back.

 

            Rumsfeld:  Never.  I never heard a word of it in the Department of Defense.

 

            Q:  For one thing, which is what you're describing?

 

            Rumsfeld:   Quite the contrary.  We never talked about rolling engagement back at all indeed what we said was what we need to do is look at the world in the 21st century and see that our quote engagement unquote is rational is appropriate is tuning into the 21st century, is benefiting the country rather than being random and that is what we have done.  And we have developed a superb security cooperation arrangement for our department.  It has been fully vetted in the government, it is forward looking and it is in the process of being implemented.  The other word that was used was the point that would be made is nation building.  The answer I've answered, you know what I think about that.  I think of the people of a nation have to build their own nation and I think what foreigners can do, what the United States can do and indeed I feel we have an obligation to do in our own interest is to help contribute to peace and stability in the world in a way that allows others to build their nations where we can contribute to an environment that is hospitable to their doing something other than killing each other.  And I understand that there's a subtle difference between that and nation building but it is a critically important difference.  If you wanted to go build a nation you're doing what the Soviet's did and kill 300,000 in a country and smother it and try to take it over and build it, that's not what we're about and I also do not believe that we are smart enough or wise enough to know precisely what template ought to be fashioned and flopped down on another group of people who have a different history, a different colored cultured, a different geographic certain (inaudible) strategic circumstance.  So what we've got to do in answering your question is yes, we have to do the kinds of things we did in (inaudible)  Island in Balikatan 202 - 2002.  And we have to have people to do it and that's why one of the things we're doing is rebalancing our active reserve force because if we need more people who can do those things on active duty - correction.  If we're going to have to be doing those things regularly we have to have more people who can do them on active duty because we can't keep calling up people in the Reserves to ask them to reactivate it over and over and over.

 

            Q:  Mr. Secretary last year you had at least 9 Democrats on the news every night criticizing the decision.

 

            Rumsfeld:  I got it I think some will drop out.

 

[Laughter]

 

[Unknown media speaker]:  For short Bill Clinton too.

 

            Q:  Criticizing the positions you and the President made on Iraq, criticizing the job that you're doing and I'm watching all of that.  How does that complicate your effort to get this (inaudible) you're trying to get out on Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terrorism.

 

            Rumsfeld:  It makes it complicated it makes it more difficult but I guess that's life.  I don't know what one could do about it.  It doesn't make it enjoyable but what we have to do is think through to the best we can what it is we believe is in the best interest of the country, explain it to the extent we can to the American people and there's no question that, that - take the force level.  There's a (inaudible) building up, more forces, more forces, more U.S. forces in Iraq and so you take a month of (inaudible), another month of (inaudible) planning and work with people and you explain what you're trying to do and you explain why it's important to go from to 55,000 Iraqis and why it's much better to have Iraqis take responsibility for their security and finally it gets through.  Eventually if it doesn't - if the long argument doesn't sell, people stop using it because it doesn't resonate and it'll stop.  Now in the process you take a lot (inaudible) over a period of time but when it's over if the critics are right then you learn more yourself (inaudible) what it is you're doing.  And if the critics are wrong ultimately the people in the media will stop repeating what they have suddenly discovered - not suddenly but eventually discovered to be arguments that lack merit because they've heard the way and the reasons that lacks merit and if they don't stop repeating that stuff then the American people will turn them off and (inaudible) serve people in the Navy [sic: nation] to have people turn it off.

 

            Q:  (Inaudible) efforts on the ground or is this your political efforts?

 

            Rumsfeld:  I don't have any political efforts.

 

            Q:  Does this complicate the war on terrorism on the grounds?

 

            Rumsfeld:  Sure to the extent that there's no doubt but that terrorist - we know for a fact that people studied Somalia, terrorist studied Somalia and they studied instances when the United States was dealt a blow and tucked in.  And persuaded themselves that they could in fact cause us to act (inaudible) in whatever it is they wanted to do.  The United States is not going to do that, President Bush isn't going to do that.

 

            Now to the extent that the terrorist are given reason to believe he might or that if he is not going to that the opponents might prevail in some way and they take heart in that and that leads to more money going into these activities or that leads to more recruits or that leads to more encouragement or leads to more staying power, obviously it makes our task more difficult.  That does not mean there should not be a debate on these things (inaudible), there should be a debate in discussion on these things, we can live with that.  We can live with a healthy debate as long as it is as elevated as possible and as civil as possible.

 

            Q:  Yesterday when we were in Gardez the governor the Taliban and al-Qaeda don't want to just take over Afghanistan they want to take over the world.  If you were right the implication would be to withdraw from the Middle East as Osama bin Laden says that's his goal for the U.S. to withdraw that for Israel even the (inaudible) wouldn't stop with that.  What's your feeling about what those people really want?

 

            Rumsfeld:  First of all I don't think there is a those people.  I think there are - our intelligence indicates that these are a range of different categories of problems that are faced not just in one country but in the total global war on terror.  They have somewhat different interest, somewhat different goals, some of them are quite articulate as to what it is they want, they want everyone to think the way they think and they don't want things that are modern, they don't want things that are (inaudible) and they don't like any culture influencing their people.  Others are thugs others are dictators and people like Saddam Hussein, there's a full range of these folks.

 

            Q:  (Inaudible)?

 

            Rumsfeld:  I agree.

 

            Q:  (Inaudible)?

 

            Rumsfeld:  I was asked by the President after the 241 Marines were killed to (inaudible) and I was involved and I did think a lot about it.  There are some obvious things you learn, you learn that when trying to assist somebody you have to know as much as you can about the territory and passion the way you assist them not necessarily the way they may want to be assisted or think they want to be assisted but, in a way that is appropriate for what you're capable of doing.  You ought not to be trying to do things we're not capable of doing like nation building telling other people how they should live their lives.  We should learn that we need to avoid being so heavy handed that we create not a (inaudible) not a people that are able to govern themselves but rather a dependency and a weakness as oppose to a strength.

 

            I think that there are - I guess the other thing you learn is it very hard to function in this world without there being losses there are going to be losses and there are going to be losses if you do nothing as we saw on September 11th, there going to be losses if you do something and what we have to do is to constantly see that we advance our cause of people being able to live as free people rather than allowing the terrorist to advance their cause of restricting the lives and the freedoms of free people.

 

            Q:  (Inaudible)?

 

            Rumsfeld:  Any time an act of terrorism is rewarded a lesson is learned by the terrorist, the second a lesson is learned by other countries about what happens if you reward terrorist and that's fair comment.

 

            Q:  Mr. Secretary did you learn anything or see anything in Iraq that you think that American forces should be doing better?

 

            Rumsfeld:  Sure my goodness gracious.  And you used the right word - think.  I think I don't know but I think.  I'm not going to get into it I sat down with General Abizaid this morning for close to an hour and walked through a whole series of things in his area of responsibility that I made notes on and that I think he needs to think about and we need to think about together.  I found a lot of things we need to be doing better back in Washington and ways we can be more supportive of what they're doing.  You bet, I agree goodness gracious it's not a day that goes by that I don't learn something that I hope can be helpful to doing a better job then it's been a bad day.

 

            Q:  So the French and the Germans have a lot of experience in post-war reconstruction and obviously the U.N. efforts - resolution is trying to get some sense to cooperate more fully.  Do you think that you need to play a role in trying to reach out to them more than you have in the past given the difference of the war and now that (inaudible)?

 

            Rumsfeld:  Well I met with the German Commander of (inaudible) in Afghanistan and - I'll come to it.  We got the French and German both functioning in Afghanistan and we had reached out to them and encouraged them, Secretary Powell as a matter of fact in a meeting with both of those countries and all of the security council people because if we can get a security council resolution that the countries are comfortable with that would encourage other countries to be somewhat more forthcoming whether in financially or with troops that would be a good thing.  And I don't anticipate given the commitment that both Germany and France have in Afghanistan in Africa and in the Balkans that we're likely to get any significant numbers of troops from either of those countries in Iraq, they're already participating in Afghanistan but there are other ways they can be helpful and they can be helpful in forces.

 

            Q:  (Inaudible)?

 

            Rumsfeld:  Sure I know other ways they can be helpful.

 

            What else?

 

            That's it.

 

            Q:  (Inaudible) about the footprint.  One of the things you mentioned that (inaudible) trying to cancel other things like cyanide or whatever.  Is that still going to happen (inaudible)?

 

            Rumsfeld:  First of all it's out of my hands all I can do is go out and look at every situation on the face of the earth where we're engaged and make a recommendation in the national security council, at that point the diplomatic considerations come into play and we'll just see how much of it gets done.  I know what I think and what we'll do is take into account not just what the Defense Department thinks but what the Department of State and needless to say the President will end up making judgment and then the question would be over what period of time might you adjust yourself.  How do you get money from the Congress to assist in facilitating that kind of transition from one footprint to another.

 

            We'll make this the last question.

 

            Q:  On your meeting with Dr. Key.  Although you said you (inaudible) mainly a process did you discover anything that you would - even how vague it might be that you can say and lead you believe that they have found evidence?

 

            Rumsfeld:  I have so many things to do in the Department of Defense and Key reports to George Tenet.  It is an intelligence issue and I made a conscious decision that I did not need to stay current every fifteen minutes on what's going on in that area.  So my concern is are they getting the support they need to do their job?  How can the process that they're engaged in be strengthened by things that the Department of Defense can do in support and therefore I literally did not ask, did not hear.

 

            Q:  (Inaudible)?

 

            Rumsfeld:  (Inaudible) half hour meeting and say okay lay out what you found.  I went in and said assuming he'll tell me if he got something that he thinks I need to know and I said what (inaudible) to be helpful and I received a report from both of them and there were some things that I think we might be able to be helpful on.  Certainly I'll try this and if they need some additional experts from different departments and agencies I'll probably make (inaudible) some phone calls on.

 

            You have to at some point in your life, I work long hours, I like to work long hours and you have to know what you can know and what you can't engage in at a certain level and I have to compartment things and that is in my view something that the intelligence community is working on and they're working on it technically I believe and my job is to work on the things that are in my area hopefully affecting this.

 

            Thanks folks.

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