Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with Laura Ingraham
Question: -- Well, Tammy Duckworth is my new hero, U.S. military major, Illinois Army National Guard, and joining us now is Secretary of Defense, our friend, Don Rumsfeld. Hey, Mr. Secretary.
Rumsfeld: How are you, Laura?
Question: I'm hanging in there. I'm delighted that you've survived yet another press briefing at the Pentagon.
Question: You're going to be really upset when you have to do your last press briefing, I bet.
Rumsfeld: Oh, no.
Question: Tell us, Mr. Secretary, the state of the insurgency in Iraq. The New York Post has an interesting piece today about how the estimates are about 42 percent of the homicide bombers in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia. What are we doing with our relationship with Saudi Arabia on that 42 percent figure? It's pretty startling.
Rumsfeld: Well, as we all know, al-Qaida kind of began and was sustained in that country. About the government itself, the fact is that the Saudi government has been attacked by the al-Qaida. They have organized anti-terrorist and counter-terrorist activities and been increasingly aggressive in going after terrorists. But the fact remains that there are people from that country as well as most of the neighboring countries who have over time been a part of the al-Qaida operation.
Question: My problem with what we hear from Saudi Arabia, though, it's a lot of words and sometimes not a lot of actions. I know they have launched their own investigations, Mr. Secretary, but in your mind, and you know this, are they doing everything they can?
Rumsfeld: Well my impression is that ever since they were attacked some months back that they have been exceedingly aggressive and determined to not have their government weakened or destabilized by al-Qaida, and they have been aggressively going after the terrorists, and I think it's admirable.
Question: We've been playing for the last actually couple of segments on our show, Mr. Secretary, some interviews that CSPAN ran over Memorial Day Weekend of some of our soldiers who have been badly wounded. And these men and women, it brings tears to your eyes, because the commitment of these people, it's just staggering. It makes us all feel like we complain about things that are not important when these young men and women want to just get back to their units and get back to work in the military. Meanwhile we have the mainstream media constantly fluffing up these stories about Koran mishandling.
Are you frustrated by the media coverage? Or do you just brush it off at this point?
Rumsfeld: You can't, in my position you can't spend your days worrying about it. There's no question but that it's harmful to the country and it's harmful to the men and women in uniform and the job they're trying to do. They're doing noble work and they're doing a fabulous job at it and they're going to be successful.
I suppose there has never been a war that there haven't been critics and people who speculated that it either wasn't worth it or it would not be successful. There's no doubt in my mind but that what we're doing is important to the defense of our country and to the freedom of our people and to the security of our people.
After Memorial Day, after we left Arlington Cemetery my wife and I went out to Walter Reed and spent a few hours with the wounded out there, and you are absolutely right Laura. They are amazing people. They are so courageous and so proud of what they do, and their families are so supportive. The first thing out of their mouths is that they want to get back in with their troops and back to the fight and back to helping the Iraqi people and the Afghan people be free countries.
Question: On the issue of Bolton, Mr. Secretary, John Bolton's nomination to go over to the UN and represent us. The President talked yesterday about the Democrat stall tactics. What is your thinking on what's happened to him?
Rumsfeld: Well, I know John Bolton, I've worked with him and have a lot of respect for him. He's a very intelligent and capable and seasoned government official and will in my view do an excellent job at the United Nations once he's confirmed, and I believe he will be confirmed.
We've seen these kinds of delays. The Department of Defense four years has been functioning with about 20-25 percent vacant in presidential appointees that require Senate confirmation. It is a serious problem for the government of the United States to have that where so many people are not confirmed for such long periods, in some cases --
Question: It's ridiculous.
Rumsfeld: -- they've been a year, year and a half waiting to get confirmed.
Question: It's so infuriating. I don't want to go down that road because then I'll try to drag you into the judges fight which I know you don't want to be part of.
Question: You have enough to handle.
Mr. Secretary, on the issue of China, our focus is so much on the Middle East and necessarily so, but do we risk losing sight of China's military buildup? I mean we're closing bases in the United States and China seems to be devoting more and more money to its military and military output.
Rumsfeld: No. As a matter of fact a portion of our Quadrennial Defense Review has to look at the more conventional threats in the world, and we all know that China's economy's growing rapidly. We know it's been investing in double digits in its military capabilities. That it's been buying a great deal of weaponry from Russia. And it's a country that is going to reach a fork in the road. It wants to grow its economy, and to do that it has to have a relatively free economic system, and it wants to maintain its strong control over the political side of its government, which is inconsistent with having a free economic system.
So they're going to feel that tension, that stress in the years ahead.
But no, the Department just released a report or is soon to release a report on the People's Republic of China, which is required by law, which discusses it in some detail and certainly recognizes that the People's Republic of China is increasing its military capability on land, sea and air.
Question: I was talking to Peggy Noonan the other day and we were both kind of holding our breath on our downsizing and making our military more efficient and both with each other worrying that China was doing the opposite.
Mr. Secretary I wanted to ask you very quickly about the Amnesty International Soviet Gulag comment about how we treat our detainees. I know you've addressed this, but they blasted back saying we're not a political organization, we're non-partisan, we're not associated with a political party or religion or anything. What do you say?
Rumsfeld: I think anyone that uses the phrase Gulag in connection with the fine work that's been done down at Guantanamo Bay in terms of the U.S. military really is just over the edge. I can't imagine someone who has any understanding of what a Gulag is and who has any understanding of the process that takes place at Guantanamo Bay using that. It's just so totally incorrect and misrepresentative and I would say not responsible.
Question: And on the issue of recruiting. I know we took a day pause, I guess in our recruiting. Was it just Army recruiting? I can't remember. But where are we now on that?
Rumsfeld: Well, first of all let me -- You mentioned downsizing. We're not downsizing. We're increasing the size of the Army and the Marines and have been by some 30,000 in the active force.
What we're doing is not downsizing, as such, what we're doing is making our capabilities more capable and more agile and more lethal.
Even though the press reports downsizing, the fact is that we've had substantial excess in infrastructure and the funds from that need to be put into capabilities that can do the country some good rather than being wasted in infrastructure that requires force protection and repair and a great deal of expense that doesn't really add to the military capability of the Department of Defense. So the process it's going through, the Base Closing and Realignment, is going to make our military defense, our military capabilities much greater than they were previously. We'll be more joint, we will have more of the funds the Department receives from the taxpayers of the United States focused on where they're needed.
Question: We need efficiency.
Mr. Secretary, before we go, do you watch the show "24"?
Rumsfeld: No, I don't.
Question: What? You don't watch "24" on Fox? I'm going to send you over, I have the first season of DVDs of the show, it's about the counter-terrorism unit, Jack Bowry is the agent. You’re going to love this show. I'm going to send you over all the DVDs, and I'm telling you you're going to love this show. Will you watch it if I send it to you?
Rumsfeld: I will do it, I promise you. And before we go off, I do want to wish you well in your recovery. I was so sorry to hear the news.
Question: I will soldier on. I will take inspiration from our Walter Reed service men and women, and Mr. Secretary, thank you so much.
Rumsfeld: Thanks so much, Laura.