DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers
(Also participating was General Richard Myers, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff)
Rumsfeld: Good afternoon. First, let me say that we certainly mourn the passing this weekend of an old friend and a wonderful American and public servant devoted to the Department of Defense -- my friend of over 27 years, Doc Cooke. When I came back to the Pentagon after being gone for a quarter of a century, why, many things had changed, but one thing remained the same, and that was Doc was still here.
I know that many of you know that he came to the department in 1958. And every secretary of defense since has relied and depended on his advice and the leadership he has provided. For some 44 years, Doc Cooke helped to ensure the safety, security and smooth operation of this department, earning him the nickname of "Mayor of the Pentagon."
And after the events of September 11th, when his Pentagon came under attack, he helped lead the effort to rebuild the damage in record time and oversaw the development of an impressive interior memorial that honors those who died in the September 11th attack. And if you've not seen it, you might want to make a point of seeing that memorial.
Doc also served the country in uniform as an officer aboard the battleship Pennsylvania during World War II. He dedicated his life to the defense of the country. And certainly to his family, we send our deepest sympathies, even as we in the Pentagon family give thanks for his life and his many, many years of faithful service.
The global war on terrorism continues on many levels and different fronts. In the Philippines, U.S. Special Operations Forces and advisors have not only been working with Philippine forces to help root out the Abu Sayyaf terrorists and prevent the country from becoming another haven for terrorists, but the U.S. is helping out in other ways as well. Through construction and civil assistance programs, Navy Seabees and Marine engineers are helping to restore a climate of safety and security in some of these stricken areas. On Basilan Island, the numbers of Abu Sayyaf terrorists, we're told, has been reduced fairly significantly and displaced persons are returning to their homes in a more secure environment.
We expect to continue our current efforts through July 31st, and then, in cooperation with the government of the Philippines and the armed forces of the Philippines, transition to a security assistance and counterterrorism program.
Last, I'd like to announce that as part of our continuing program and the president's commitment to transform the military, it's our intention to merge two of our major unified commands -- the U.S. Space Command the U.S. Strategic Command -- into a single entity that will be responsible for both early warning of, and defense against, missile attack as well as long-range conventional attacks. The department has been working on this possible merger as part of the Unified Command Plan for some weeks and months now. The president has approved the arrangement, and the delegations from both Colorado and Nebraska have been briefed on the matter. And we expect to be making a nomination for the new command sometime in the period ahead.
The missions of SPACECOM and STRATCOM have evolved to the point where merging the two into a single entity will eliminate redundancies in the command structure and streamline the decision making process. The new command, which will likely be based at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, will also be responsible for information operations.
Myers: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And good afternoon.
First, I'd like to add my condolences to those of the secretary for Doc Cooke and his family, and the condolences of all the men and women who have ever been stationed in the Pentagon over the last 50 years. While we in uniform are transient personnel that come and go, Doc was the permanent fixture, always welcoming us to his building. And we're sure all going to miss him, I can tell you that.
As a personal anecdote, I've got to go back to September 11th. As the secretary and I were in a couple of smoke-filled command centers, the other person there that I can remember vividly was Doc Cooke, because, after all, his building was attacked. And he took that very personally and was right there by our side through all of that. He was a real trouper, added so much to the Department of Defense, and we, as I said, will miss him.
In Afghanistan, Operation Mountain Lion continues. There were no unusual operational events inside Afghanistan. We did, however, put some forces on alert to respond to the firefight in Pakistan had the Pakistanis asked for help. And while U.S. forces were not involved in the fight, we appreciate the Pakistan army's efforts to locate the al Qaeda. And our condolences go out to the families of those members of the Pakistani army who lost their lives in that endeavor.
In Iraq, coalition aircraft flying in Operation Northern Watch dropped precision-guided munitions this morning on elements of an Iraqi integrated air defense system in the vicinity of Talafar, 40 miles west of Mosul. There have been nearly 10 separate instances over the last three days of Iraqi firing on coalition aircraft in the north, in Northern Watch, and that's a significant number. In the south, over the last seven days, coalition naval forces, including the 5th Fleet, had diverted 21 vessels trying to smuggle oil out of Iraq. Our maritime intercept operations are boarding and diverting vessels that may be violating U.S. sanctions. While this is an increase, most of these vessels were dhows, not tankers. The owners of the tankers have resorted to trying to put the oil on the dhows, believing that these smaller vessels will have a better chance of sneaking past our maritime interception operations.
And on the SPACECOM -- and lastly, on the SPACECOM-STRATCOM merger issue, I'd just like to say that I'm very comfortable with this new structure that we are creating. The merger should, and in my view, definitely will increase the military effectiveness providing the appropriate support to our combatant commanders around the world and, for that matter, responsiveness to the president and to the secretary of Defense.
And with that, we'll take your questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary, on the Philippines, have U.S. Special Forces begun training at the small-unit level and taking part in patrols, Philippine patrols, on Basilan Island? And you said that -- I believe you said counterterrorism operations might extend beyond July 31st on a smaller scale, when the bulk of the troops are removed. Might that include training -- continued training by Special Forces, and perhaps continued patrolling by Special Forces with Philippine troops?
Rumsfeld: The answer is no and yes.
Q: So they have not begun --
Rumsfeld: The first question, they have not begun. That section ends later this month or next month. And there will be a full stop. And then a new period will begin when in fact they might very well begin training with lower-level units, and very likely entering the new phase.
Rumsfeld: Well, it depends on how you describe it. I mean, in training and exercising, you end up being around. And if that's a patrol, it's a patrol, and if it's not, it's not. I don't know quite how the government of the Philippines wants to characterize it. But it will be of a kind with what we were doing previously, but at a lower level.
Q: Mr. Secretary, as the general mentioned, Pakistan has released some details about that morning raid that left 10 of their soldiers dead. First, do you see that as an effort -- that Pakistan is stepping up efforts to track down al Qaeda in those tribal areas? And second, has the U.S. added more Special Forces teams there to help the Pakistanis in that hunt?
Rumsfeld: We don't talk about deployment of those teams. Second, I don't know that I'd call it a step up or not. The Pakistanis have been cooperating with us, and we've been sharing intelligence, and they've been undertaking raids, as you know, periodically, as the intelligence permitted and enabled us to do so. But whether the level, the tempo has changed, I don't know. I do know that they've been helpful, as we've said from time to time.
Q: The Pakistanis said that a U.S. military team was nearby but didn't help in that raid. It is just a reconnaissance effort that U.S. teams are doing inside Pakistan?
Rumsfeld: Oh, we don't want to discuss what we're doing.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Rumsfeld: And the Pakistanis can describe it any way they want.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: You were at the president's side the other day when he announced his new Middle East policy. And I'm just curious. Why was the secretary of Defense there when it was clearly a foreign policy issue?
And the other question is, since you were there, is the United States thinking about stepping up or increasing the war on international terrorism by taking on the Middle East terrorists, such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad?
Rumsfeld: The organizations that the United States government considers terrorist organizations are all listed and public, and some of the ones you mentioned are on there.
My presence there was nothing complicated. The National Security Council meets on these things. We've been meeting on Middle East matters, as well as war on terrorism matters and Afghanistan matters and Philippine matters, on a continuous basis for some 17 months now. It happens that in that instance, all of us have been involved in working on those issues. And I was asked by the White House to come over and be present, so I went.
Q: Just to follow --
Rumsfeld: But I wouldn't read anything into it. It's essentially a Department of State matter.
Q: But it's nice to read to read things into it, if we can. Anyway, just to follow up, if I may, the United States is principally going after the al Qaeda and the some of the affiliated organizations, such as the Abu Sayyaf. But to my knowledge, as yet, we haven't really gone after the other organizations in the Middle East, the ones I mentioned and others. Is there any plan to do that now?
Rumsfeld: Well, I'm trying to think how to say this. We have been engaged in a global war on terror. We've been involved in a number of countries. We're working on -- with other countries in a number of instances. And I do not think of this effort as restricted to al Qaeda. I've said that from the outset, that it is a -- that the process of terrorizing the world is to make threats and to force people to alter their behavior, and if you decide to actually engage in a violent act, it's to kill innocent men, women and children for the purpose of terror. It's done by organizations that cross over borders. And it's -- that is what it is that we have identified. Those are the organizations whose finances we've been trying to cut off. Those are the organizations whose members we're trying to arrest all over the world. The last number I saw was something in excess of 2,000 people who've been arrested. So, I think it -- thinking of it as al Qaeda is too narrow.
Q: General Myers, you mentioned regarding the Pakistan raid that U.S. forces, I think you said in Afghanistan, were put on alert in case they were called, if the Pakistanis needed them. Air and ground forces? And what kind of support role would they have played? Is this a routine arrangement you have with the Pakistani military?
Myers: We were responding to a Pakistani request. Without going into a lot of detail, you can imagine it could have been both types of forces, air and ground. And what they would have done would have been up to what the Pakistanis requested help in. They did not request that help in this case. But it's -- right, we're in this fight together and we've been cooperating together.
Q: Is it a one-of-a-kind arrangement, is what I'm asking, or is it --
Myers: I'd rather not go into all the details of our arrangements. That can give too much away to potential adversaries if they know that this is one of a kind or this is normal. I'm just not going to go into that. But we are in this together. We're partners in this together.
Q: Is the alert over?
Myers: Yes, it is at this point.
Q: And the raid is over? Everything about that is over, as far as you know?
Myers: I'll check on that. I think so, but I -- I'll have to get an update for you. We can provide that later.
Q: General, those 10 separate instances in Iraq, anti-aircraft sites trying to hit U.S. forces, was that -- the one that you hit the other day, was that the one that was doing all those 10? Or are they all separate?
Myers: Possibly part of it. This was really two days where we had these 10 firing incidents that were a high number. And the one that I talked about in here was part of the 10. The previous ones -- I'd have to check on that to make sure.
Q: Regarding Iraq, you referred to it as a significant number, I believe. What do you make of that? What are the Iraqis up to? Is there an increased capability? What does it mean? What is the significance?
Myers: Well, it's -- I think -- the first point is that while we have coalition forces over there enforcing the U.N. sanctions, we have a country that is firing at our pilots and putting them at risk. I mean, that's the most significant thing that we -- and one of the reasons I mention that is I think that's important for people to understand that we have Americans and other countries' aircrews at risk trying to do what the U.N. has said we ought to do. And the second point was that this -- in two days 10 separate firing incidents is a little bit larger than normal. But we'll have to look at the trend over time. I don't know if we can read anything more into it than just what I've said.
Q: An increased capability?
Myers: No, it's not increased capability. We know they have pretty good capability, actually.
Q: A little bigger picture question of Afghanistan. It has to do a little bit with Secretary Wolfowitz's testimony on the Hill. One of the things that the Karzai government is up against in his nation is the stability of his regime and his ability to extend power out from Kabul to the farther reaches of the country. And thus far the reaches are controlled in large part by war lords, most of whom have U.S. Special Forces with them, or some kind of U.S. support. And there is a sense over there that the continuation of that support only slows down the possibility of Karzai being able to gain control over his country. Could you talk a little bit about U.S. involvement with war lords and what the reasons are for and maybe the extent to which you all provide equipment, training or funding for them?
Rumsfeld: Well! I assume when you say "war lords" you're talking about regional leaders. (Laughter.) So -- I thought that's what you meant.
You asked about our relationships. Obviously we have had relationships with many, if not most, throughout the country, and they've been enormously helpful in helping to throw out the Taliban. And that's been a good thing. And the country is a whale of a lot better off today than it was before we had that assistance.
In terms of what kind of help we are providing them now, I don't really know that we are, in terms of the Pentagon. I -- we're providing food in the country, but that's to all kind of people and organizations. We have -- do, in fact -- have some people embedded in some of their organizations. It's been very helpful from a communications standpoint. Those forces have in some parts of the country provided a level of security that has been helpful to the country so that NGOs could move around and start providing humanitarian assistance and we could.
I don't disagree at all that it's important for the transitional government to begin to assert authority over the entire country. And one of the ways that can be done is, obviously, through the coordination that we help provide with the communications in those organizations that exist around Afghanistan. Second, money that's coming into Afghanistan can begin to flow through the central government out to the regions, and as a result of that, the international assistance that's coming in can help to provide the transitional government a degree of influence and effectiveness in the regions which will begin to do that.
Third, the German government is helping build a police force that would be functioning around the country. And as that takes hold, that will be helpful in asserting central control. And fourth, the United States, France and a variety of other countries are stepping forward and training, as rapidly as we can, a national army, which will, again, for the first time give the transitional government some authority.
So it is -- you don't tear down what is until you substitute something better, one would think. And that means that as the central government gains the advantages and the weight and the heft and the strength from the things I've just cited, that there will be less need for the regional political leaders to maintain large armies, one would hope.
Q: One thing that is -- this idea that they're helping provide security, I think probably in Herat -- maybe Ismail Khan -- has a fairly strong grip on that area, but in Mazar-e Sharif, Lakhdar Brahimi took to the floor of the Loya Jirga to complain about the acts of violence that are being perpetrated by warlords and their solders against NGOs and the people they're giving aid, including the gang rape of an American woman working with one of the nongovernmental organizations. So, you know, not all security work that's going on --
Rumsfeld: Oh, I didn't -- I hope there was nothing I said that suggested that Afghanistan was a perfectly peaceful, placid place. It isn't. It's untidy and there's crime committed there. There's drug trafficking taking place, one would imagine. And there are periodic dust-ups between regional factions. But there are -- you know, there's crime in the cities of America, as well. And I don't know how -- if you take where Afghanistan's been and where it is today, the security situation is so dramatically improved and people's lives are so much better. And food is being distributed, and people are going to school, and refugees are returning. And they're not doing it for no reason. Something like 2 million people have returned. Why are they doing it? They're voting with their feet, because they've made a conscious judgment that life inside Afghanistan is one whale of a lot better than it was outside of Afghanistan. That's why they're coming in.
And so I think that it is perfectly possible to almost forever, in perpetuity, to look around that country and find problems. I think, however, it is important to put it in balance with what preceded and what takes place in other parts of the globe. If anyone was looking for perfection in Afghanistan in terms of a perfectly peaceful, non-violent era instantaneously, I think they've misplaced their hopes.
Q: Mr. Secretary, given the incursion last week of a small plane, how much -- into the restricted airspace over Washington -- how much thought have you given to doing something to either increase the response time of U.S. fighter jets or to provide some additional measure of protection for the White House or other potential targets in Washington that might be attacked by terrorists from the air?
Rumsfeld: We, of course, give a lot of thought to that. And one of the things that can be done is to reduce the response time by improving the connectivity between the FAA and the Department of Defense. It happens in matters of minutes, and one would like to think it could happen in matters of somewhat fewer minutes; in other words, reducing by some modest number the number of minutes. And I think that we've found ways to do that.
Second, we do have -- constantly reviewing those kinds of issues. We are purposely maintaining random activities as a deterrent. And we feel -- we feel pretty good about the level of response and the level of capability that we currently have.
Q: Well, what about -- what about if -- and perhaps General Myers could address that. I know it irks you when he doesn't get his share of the questions!
Rumsfeld: Well, I would like to interrupt, since you brought up General Myers. (Laughter.) Do you remember the day in here when General Myers said, "Even my wife understands it"? I'd like to introduce his wife.
Mary Jo, would you stand up? There she is. Look at that lovely lady! (Applause, laughter.)
Q: Why didn't you bring cookies, Mrs. Myers? (Laughter.)
Q: I wanted to ask --
(Cross talk; laughter.)
Q: Some people have talked about returning to 24/7 combat air patrols over Washington or other cities. Is that simply not really a practical thing that would be doable indefinitely because of the wear and tear on planes and crews and everything else?
Rumsfeld: We wouldn't discuss it if we did.
Myers: Yeah. The exact -- you know, the tactics and techniques, we probably wouldn't discuss with you. But as the secretary said, this is something we're taking very, very seriously, and we have from day one. And we're working all sorts of things. He talked about the better FAA coordination with the Department of Defense. We have military individuals in the radar approach facility here in the area that are going to facilitate our communications for some of these flights that -- like that Cessna that came down and so forth, so we can --
Q: What about -- what about air defenses or anti-aircraft missile --
Myers: It's all being looked at. It's all being looked at. And again, without -- I think it's really inappropriate to go into detail on the specifics of that because that would be the first step to figuring out how to counter it.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Q: Which command will control the Combat Air Command, the new Strategic Command or Northern Command? And also --
Q: Northern Command?
Rumsfeld: Right. NORAD is -- the commander of Northern Command will be dual-hatted as commander of Northern Command and the commander of NORAD.
Q: Okay. Could you clarify about the Philippines? After July 30th, will U.S. troops go out on small-level training patrols, or they're only going to be doing that soon -- until then, but not after?
Rumsfeld: I can clarify it to this extent, that I think it's July 30th or 31st?
Rumsfeld: The current session ends. And the government of the Philippines has a process, just like we do. We've gone through our process. We're now in discussions with them. And they then will decide with us what kinds of things make sense for phase two. And those discussions are reasonably well along and developed.
My policy, as you know, is to allow other people to explain what they're doing and how they're doing it in their country because they do have sensitivities that are different from ours. In good time, in good time, there will be an announcement by the Philippine government, I would think, that will characterize what it is we're going to be doing. And as I indicated, I believe to Charlie or Bob, we very likely will continue in -- not continue, but have some arrangement with respect to operating with somewhat smaller levels.
Q: Mr. Secretary, since you returned from India and Pakistan, few things have changed. One, India is still saying that infiltrations have not stopped on the border. And two --
Rumsfeld: India is saying what?
Q: That the terrorist activities on the border did not stop. The Indian prime minister has said that infiltrations did not stop on the border. And General --
Rumsfeld: Could I just comment on that?
Q: Yes, sir.
Rumsfeld: I don't think anyone ever thought they could be stopped instantaneously. They have been drawn down substantially, and I think both sides have agreed to that. But there already were militants and terrorists that had crossed the line, and there undoubtedly are people who will continue to try to cross the line, quite apart from the efforts of the Pakistan government and the Indian government to stop it. It is a very rugged, difficult line of control between those two nations.
Q: And sir, General Musharraf said that he never told his two top-level, high-level visitors from the U.S., Deputy Secretary Armitage and Secretary Rumsfeld -- that's you -- that permanent -- that the infiltration will be stopped permanently. Now -- in a Newsweek interview. Now what is the real story, Mr. Secretary? What did -- he told you, or what he -- what do you know about this Newsweek story?
Rumsfeld: Well, I know quite a bit about it. The deputy secretary of State met with the senior leaders of both countries, and some eight or 10 days later I did as well. And the -- there's been an interview in Newsweek that is now being compared with things that other people have said -- not me, but others. And my guess is, in another week or 10 days, that whole story will calm down, and people will sort it out and find that there's probably not a big difference between what people are saying.
Sometimes things get carried in the press in a way that they look like there's a stark contrast. I had that experience in India and Pakistan myself, where I in a press briefing said that there were smatterings of information about something, but not hard evidence of the presence of certain types of people in certain places, which I won't reexamine. I went to the next town and said exactly the same thing, and it was carried in three or four papers that Rumsfeld had retracted what he'd said the day before. And it was -- the words, if you look at them side by side -- you were -- some of you folks were there -- the words are just almost identical, and there was no retraction. People see and hear what they want.
So I'm not in a position to comment on -- I wasn't in the interview, so I can't say what he said. But my guess is, in a day or two or three, it'll all kind of calmed down.
Q: But sir, finally, can you just assess from your visit that -- will this war take place or not?
Rumsfeld: Oh, there's an easy one. (Laughter.) When did we decide everyone gets three questions? (Light laughter.)
Look, war is with a million people staring at each other, it is not a happy prospect. I have said what I believe. I have met with the senior leadership of both of those two countries very recently. I have been impressed that each one recognizes that their economies are being damaged by the level of tension, that the people of their countries are being damaged by the level of tension, that the difficulty of maintaining forces in high alert from a million people looking at each other across that border is stressful on the forces and cannot be sustained for a long period without damage, and that each of those countries recognizes the power of the weapons they have. And I expect them to continue to manage their affairs in a responsible way. And I wish them well. It's a -- it has been a tense situation. And I think that each side has now taken a few steps to somewhat lessen those tensions, and that that's been a good thing.
Q: Mr. Secretary, the new International Criminal Court goes into action next week, I believe. How satisfied are you that U.S. military personnel could not be subject to that court?
Rumsfeld: (Pause.) You're the general. (Light laughter.) I heard --
Q: I said "Mr. Secretary".
Rumsfeld: Oh, did you?
Q: Yes. I'm sorry -- (off mike, laughter).
Rumsfeld: Oh. Okay. Well, I'll be happy to.
I'm not satisfied. I'm not satisfied that military or civilian officials of this department or any other department of the government are going to be free of the potential activities of that court. That court is unusual in a variety of ways. It assumes jurisdiction over everyone, regardless of whether or not their country of origin has participated in the court. It seems not to have any end point. It seems not to have any focus. It's across the board. And we know that the terrorist training books teach people how to lie and make accusations about the killing of innocent civilians and how to promote that to the press so that it gets carried around the world and everyone begins to believe it. The more it's said, pretty soon people start believing that stuff. And if you're not on the ground to stop it, why, a politicized or a loose cannon prosecutor in a court like that can impose enormous difficulties and disadvantages on people: individuals, governments. And as a result, the United States has decided that we're, as you have read, we're operating in the United Nations to try to get resolutions to exempt U.S. forces from the requirements of that court, or the imposition of that court. To the extent we're participating in peacekeeping activities that are U.N. related, we intend to do a similar thing by going around to countries on a bilateral basis. There is a provision in the treaty that permits countries to come to an agreement bilaterally, in this case U.S. forces operating in their country would not be subject to the court and that they would not extradite people Americans to the court. And it's both civilian and military.
Q: Just a follow-up. If we do not get that resolution that we are seeking excepting U.S. forces, would you be comfortable with U.S. personnel participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations?
Rumsfeld: Well, I've just said I'm uncomfortable.
Q: I mean, would they, I mean, the U.S. ambassador, I think, said last week to the U.N. that if we didn't get that, we would not participate in U.N. peacekeeping.
Rumsfeld: When that treaty goes into effect, I believe July 1st, the situation changes. And we have indicated, I believe, well, I shouldn't -- and I can't -- speak for the Department of State, but I believe, depending on what the state of play is on resolutions, that there are some that can be vetoed by the United States. And that is another option, of course.
Q: General Myers, on the Unified Command Plan, is there a consideration of merging SOUTHCOM and NORTHCOM to create one "CINCAMERICA"?
Myers: That was an issue that was looked at earlier, some time ago. And currently it's -- I wouldn't even ... I don't think it's quite even in the study phase. It's something that has the potential, that might be downstream, but I wouldn't say we're studying it actively. It will be something we'll look at, probably in a year or so.
Q: Would there be any benefit to that? Or why is that one consideration?
Myers: Well, to look at the hemisphere as a whole in terms of the dependents, economies and security and so forth, that there might be some benefit. But frankly, we haven't -- that's not been a recommendation that's been brought to the secretary. It's not something I've recommended yet. It's being looked at.
We think overall on the Unified Command Plan we have taken steps in the last six months, especially with the SPACECOM and Strategic Command merger, we have made some very, very big changes in the Unified Command Plan. And I guess we're thinking we probably ought to let this settle out for a little bit before we tackle some more big issues.
Rumsfeld: One of the reasons that a couple of reasons that you look at these things from time to time, and I quite agree with Dick, we're in the process of digesting what we've already done, but there's a couple of reasons. One reason is we find any time there's a seam -- a line between two commands -- there are things that happen at that seam. And they can be difficult. They require special coordination -- special cooperation and special attention.
So to the extent you can have your seams in places that they don't cause problems, you're probably better off. And to the extent you can avoid seams -- wherever possible -- you're probably better off from a command-and-control standpoint.
And the second thing is cost. Obviously, from time to time, one has to be respectful of the taxpayers' dollars, and these headquarters cost a lot of money. And that money, instead of going to substandard housing for the men and women in uniform, or going to transformation or modernization or reducing the age of the airplane fleet or increasing the number of ships, it goes to headquarters. And so we're constantly looking for ways to reduce costs and see that the money goes into things that are going to benefit the security of our country.
Q: Is there any ballpark estimate on how much this could save annually by combining two commands and cutting a command?
Rumsfeld: There -- I'm sure there are ballpark estimates around, but I don't have one floating around my head.
Q: Sir, a quick missile defense question --
Q: The Senate this very afternoon is debating whether to restore $814 million cut by the Armed Services Committee for the missile defense request.
Rumsfeld: It was 878 (million) that was cut, and they're talking about putting 814 (million) back.
Q: Eight-fourteen back. President Bush has threatened a veto. Can you give us a sense from the podium here why -- what's so important about that money that it would invoke a veto threat?
Rumsfeld: Mm-hmm. Well, first of all, $878 million that was reduced in one house, in the Senate, is a lot of money. And we're for the first time free of the ABM Treaty in a quarter of a century, able to go out and do the research and development that's appropriate and necessary to determine what kinds of capabilities and technologies we can develop that conceivably could be deployable to provide a defense against that threat. The -- taking that amount of money out means -- that you can't do the things that you intended to do -- that you've been waiting for a great many years to be able to do.
Second, the cuts are fashioned in a way that they are particularly destructive of the entire missile defense program. They are in specific locations with specific prohibitions, in ways that it, in one instance, will probably require the discharge of some 70 percent of the civilian and contractor workforce working on pieces of this; in other cases, would inhibit our ability to conduct tests against various types of countermeasures, which -- interestingly, people say, "My goodness, will it be able to deal with countermeasures?" And of course, the answer to that is, one doesn't know until one tests against various types of countermeasures. So, the money in there is to -- is to take that money out, and therefore, perpetuate the question as to what extent it could deal with various types of countermeasures. And in almost every instance, they're so carefully crafted to damage the entire missile defense program that it has an effect that's vastly greater than the dollars involved.
Q: So, it's more it's artfully crafted, small -- relatively small amount in a $7.4 billion request that --
Rumsfeld: Eight hundred and 74 million -- 78 million dollars is not a relatively small amount. Tony, I don't know where you operate. (Laughter.)
Q: General Myers, just a quick --
Rumsfeld: We're going to make this -- we're going to make this the last question.
Q: General, I wanted to return to oil smuggling in the Gulf. You said 21 vessels were diverted. Are we seeing a steadily increasing number of diversions here? And also, could you talk a little bit about the role of Iran, which has offered a safe haven in their territorial waters for smugglers? Is that continuing?
Myers: On the last, no, that is -- we have indications that has stopped. And that's why the larger tankers are now putting on these smaller ships because they're trying -- they don't have the benefit of staying inside Iranian territorial waters.
Q: Indications they have stopped, how long ago was that?
Myers: I'll check on that. I don't -- fairly recently.
And on the other issue, this week's activities -- I reported on I think a seven-day period, I think it was. That's a very large number for that seven-day period. But, again, the larger number is because of probably the smaller boats. They're downloading from the big tankers to smaller boats.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you've said it's impossible to defend against every terrorist attack. Would you put attack by small plane in that category of something that you can't defend against?
Rumsfeld: The -- an enormous advantage accrues to the attacker, just by definition. The person who is on the offense can pick the time and the place and the technique -- and the defender can't. The defender has to say, "My goodness, it could be anywhere at any time against any conceivable technique." There isn't a type of an attack that I can think of that -- where some advantage doesn't accrue to the attacker.
Now, if you're thinking about an attack by an army or navy or air force, obviously, they're so big that you can know when they're being built, and you can arrange yourself to deter and dissuade and ultimately defeat them. If you're talking about a single airplane flying into a bridge or something or a single woman with explosives wrapped around her or a truck filled with explosives or biological or chemical weapons, that's a much harder thing to do. Because it's an isolated situation and it's a big world.
So, the way you have to do that is you have to deter the big stuff and then put so much pressure all across the globe on terrorists and people who think that that's a good idea, to go around killing innocent men, women and children, and try to dry up their finances and try to arrest as many and try to interrogate as many and try to capture or kill as many as you can, and that's exactly what we're doing.
Dick was just talking about the maritime intercept program. I forget what the number was, but there's an enormous number of ships that are being stopped, quizzed, in some cases boarded, if there's reason to believe that they might be transporting terrorists or terrorist equipment. And so, that's going out on the water, and the world doesn't even see it. It's in several oceans that that type of thing is taking place.
It is an unusual conflict we're in. It's a long one. And it's one that parts of it are visible and parts of it aren't visible. Parts of it we're involved in and parts of it friends and allies all across the globe are involved in. But the pressure on them is there. Let there be no doubt.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Rumsfeld: We're going to --
Q: Thank you.
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