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Rumsfeld Press Stakeout Following Meeting at the Senate

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
June 27, 2002

(Press stakeout following meeting at the Senate)

Q: A few words, Mr. Secretary?

Rumsfeld: (Can we get?) General Myers here? What -- what do you have to ask?

Q: What do you have to tell?

Q: Yeah, that's exactly --

Rumsfeld: We just had an excellent meeting with a good number of the members of the United States Senate. They, of course, have just recently voted on the Defense Authorization Bill, and passed it. They are, I think, over there right now completing another vote and then will be departing for a recess for a period.

The one big disappointment we have is that the 2002 Supplemental Appropriation Bill has not passed, and looks like it will not pass today or tomorrow before they leave, which makes it very important that the House and Senate address that immediately upon their return. Those are funds that are needed for the global war on terrorism. They're needed for such things as helping to train the Afghan army, and it's important that we, as a country, continue to provide as secure an environment in Afghanistan as is possible so that we can go ahead and continue to pursue the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists.

Q: Mr. Secretary, why is it that the administration no longer mentions the name of Osama bin Laden, once the -- America's top priority, and you hardly hear a word about him?

Rumsfeld: The top priority -- first of all, we don't have to because you do all the time. But it gets raised every day. And I have from the beginning believed that the task was to deal with global terrorist networks and to deal with the countries that harbor those terrorists. That has been our assignment. It is true that al Qaeda is a critical one of those global terrorist networks. It is not the only one.

Second, it is true that Osama bin Laden is the -- has been the leader and financier of the al Qaeda organization. It is also true that we would like to capture him. We could capture him today and take him out of commission, and the al Qaeda organization would go right on. So, your characterization as having as our goal the capture of a single individual is an inaccurate characterization. We have problems that are much bigger than any one person, and trying to personify the problem is catchy for headlines, but it's not terribly useful in the global war on terrorism.

How'd I do?

Q: Pretty well.

Rumsfeld: Pretty well. I thought that was a good answer myself.

Q: On the authorization bill, is there anything in there that you don't want?

Rumsfeld: I have not read it. It is not exactly what we requested. So, until I have a chance to look at what the implications might be, and to the extent it has things that we think are unfortunate, needless to say, we'll be talking with the House and Senate conferees about them, because there is still time to make those changes.

Q: Crusader? In or out?

Rumsfeld: My understanding is that the Crusader is out of the bill in the Senate.

Q: In the House -- (inaudible) -- as well. How more? It's out in the House as well?

Q: Oh, no. It's not out in the House.

Rumsfeld: I didn't think so. So, then, they'll go to conference, and we'll worry those things through.

Q: How about money for the missile defense that might be reallocated towards terrorism?

Rumsfeld: I'd have to read it, the language. There was language and then there was language and then there was a colloquy and a discussion. And until one gets out the Ouija board and analyzes all that, we won't know how we feel about it, and therefore we won't know exactly how we would like to give guidance to the conferees when they get together to try to untangle it.

Q: Would you push for a presidential veto if it did include money that was recommended to be shifted towards terrorism, rather than missile defense?

Rumsfeld: Well, there's no question but that the president said he -- I'm trying to think exactly what the president said. I know that the administration said that there would very likely be a veto in the event that the Crusader was in the bill and missile defense money was not. But precisely what the president might decide with respect to a veto depends on what the conferees finally come up with.

Q: Would you push for a veto?

Rumsfeld: I have said unambiguously that if the Crusader is kept in the bill that I would recommend a veto to the president, and the president has told me he would veto the bill if the Crusader money is in there.

Q: Mr. Secretary, do you --

Rumsfeld: We're going to have to excuse ourselves. Thank you.

Q: One short question. With Fourth of July coming up, do you have any apprehensions for things that -- for another terrorist attack?

Rumsfeld: I'm not -- you're speaking about the United States of America, and I'm not in the business of giving warnings or alerts or a heads up with respect to possible terrorist events in the United States. We have forces all over the world. We're constantly adjusting force levels and threat levels in various parts of the world based on intelligence, but I have nothing I would really want to say about that. We're going to have to go. Thank you very much.

Q: Thank you.

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