Q: Mr. Secretary thank you very much for joining us today.
Rumsfeld: Thank you.
Q: The first question I wanted to ask you is, a couple members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have recently said they may need to call up additional Reserve and National Guard if the international community doesn’t come forward with more troops. How likely is it that you think that’ll happen and, if so, are you worried that you might be going to well a little often?
Rumsfeld: Well, we have to make sure we manage the force well, both the Active and the Reserve components - the Guard and the Reserve. They’re so important to the success of our country and fortunately we’ve been able to continue meeting our recruiting goals and our retention goals, so I feel pretty good about thing. On the other hand, we don’t want to stress the force, so what they’re doing currently is they’re engaged in a planning process to consider the extent to whether or not that might be required.
There are three elements in Iraq: one is the U.S. forces, second is the Coalition force and the third are the Iraqi people and their security forces. We’re dramatically increasing the Iraqi forces, we’ve gone from zero 4 ½ months ago to something like 70,000 at the present time, police site-protection, border guards and the like. So, if we can keep that going along, that will relieve pressure on the need to call up additional Guard or Reserve.
Q: Well, for those Reserve families that are in our markets, would you say that they should be prepared for this to happen or is this a remote possibility?
Rumsfeld: I’ve decided that I better leave that to the services. We’ve not made any final decisions and the communication, rather than being from me, it seems to me should be through the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Marines, and that’s the way that proper communications can be said. But, I can say at the moment we’re still sorting through what those needs might be, and as you suggested, part of it might depend on the extend to which we’re able to get additional international forces.
Q: I’d like to talk to you a little bit about Guantanamo Bay. I know you can’t talk about the specific cases that are involved here. I did want to ask you as far as Camp Delta. Do you feel that it is a secure facility or do we have a security problem at that facility?
Rumsfeld: Oh goodness. I’ve been in and around government so long, I always worry about security. It’s true of any facility anywhere in the world. People are people, and throughout history, we’ve found that there are people who do things they shouldn’t do and so we have to be attentive to that and careful, because it’s important that we do everything humanly possible to see that the information that government has that’s classified is not released.
Q: Are you concerned about this problem? Is this possibly a serious problem or just the kind of (inaudible) that you might expect at any facility?
Rumsfeld: Well, at the present time, there are investigations underway and I’m inclined to let those investigations run.
Q: All right. In an editorial today, you said that rebuilding Iraq would be costly, dangerous but worth it.
Rumsfeld: You bet it’s worth it.
Q: You’re asking for $87 billion dollars, not a drop in the bucket.
Rumsfeld: No, it’s a lot.
Q: Why should the American people support that when they do have urgent needs here at home as well?
Rumsfeld: Well, I was with General John Abizaid, who’s our Combatant Commander for the Central Command, and he said it very succinctly: we’d rather fight terrorism elsewhere than here at home. The global war on terror is a complicated thing, it’s a new experience for the American people, but the American people understand it. September 11th 2001 registered on that and they recognize the threats that exist in the world and they want their government to do what’s necessary, and what’s necessary is not to sit here and hope nothing happens but to take the battle to the terrorists - wherever they are - and to deal with those kinds of problems. And we’re doing it in Afghanistan, we’re doing it in Iraq, we’re doing different things in other countries and attempting to put pressure on these kinds of problems that exist in this complicated, dangerous and somewhat untidy world we live in.
Q: And why can you do this better than the U.N?
Rumsfeld: Well, the U.N. doesn’t have forces. The U.N., obviously, if one looks at their record and what they do, they don’t do what we’re doing. We’ve got 130,000 troops there, we’ve got another 20 plus from 32 other nations, we’ve got another 70,000 Iraqis who are engaged in this process and we have to see that we transfer security responsibility to the Iraqis at a pace that’s appropriate as rapidly as possible. We have to transfer political responsibility and we have to contribute to creating an economic environment that’s hospitable to investment and growth, so that’s what we’re trying to do. I think we’re making good progress, I feel good about things, Ambassador Bremer’s doing a wonderful job and all his team out there, so I think that the American people need to know that the forces on the ground are doing a wonderful job, they’re making good progress. That may not seem that way when they pick up the newspaper every day, but good progress is being made.
Q: And the last question. The Boeing tanker lease deal - very controversial up on the Hill. Does it still enjoy your full support?
Rumsfeld: Indeed. The Air Force has spent a great deal of time on this, our acquisition office has spent a good deal of time on this. They’re convinced that this is something that’s needed to replace our aging tanker fleet and that a combination of buying and leasing is an appropriate way to do it. It was authorized by the Senate – all, I think, but one Committee of the Congress have now, I think, moved forward on that - and you’re quite right, there’s still a good deal of debate and discussion. That’s healthy and I’m for it.
Q: And it’s a good deal for the taxpayer?
Rumsfeld: It’s expensive and our people are convinced that it is the best deal for the taxpayer.
Q: And I think my time has expired. Mr. Secretary, thank you again. Next.
Rumsfeld: Well thank you, you kept at it.