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Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with the Washington Times

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

(Interview with the Washington Times editorial board.)

Q: We thank you for having us over. We've looked forward to it. We do have some questions. I'm going to defer to the experts here, Bill and Rowan, and whatever you want to tell us. We want you to make a lot of news.

Rumsfeld: I'm not into the news business. I'm into informing and developing understanding, backgrounding and all of that.

Q: We'll do our best.

Rumsfeld: I'm not into hard news. [Laughter]

Q: I'll start out unless you have something --

Rumsfeld: No, no. I don't.

Q: I'm told that you said that your three legacies for here are defense transformation, the war on terrorism and China. I wondered maybe as we're starting out if you could --

Rumsfeld: That's false. I've never said that to a soul. I've never thought it. And I'm not into the legacy business. I'm into the doing business.

Q: We've heard a lot about --

Rumsfeld: You've got bad sources. [Laughter] You've got good sources too, I've noticed, but in this case you've got a bad source.

Q: I'd like to ask you about China then. They've been finding a lot of Chinese ammunition and things in Afghanistan.

Rumsfeld: Some. Every country. We've found everything in there. That place is just loaded. We are uncovering cache after cache after cache of this stuff.

Q: Has anybody asked where is that coming from, and whether or not there was some Chinese support to al Qaeda or the Taliban?

Rumsfeld: Well, we've looked at this stuff and they started blowing it all up rather promptly, and I've stopped them. We're starting to triage it and get rid of the stuff that's dangerous and unstable. A lot of it's very old. I've got them stockpiling the rest of it for the Afghan National Army. Literally, you cannot imagine the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and things, thousands of rounds of ammunition and armored personnel vehicles and rockets. Everything under the sun. Surface-to-air missiles.

There isn't two days that goes by that there isn't another cache discovered some place of this stuff. But it must be from 20 different countries. We've not detected any pattern particularly.

Almost all the stuff in Afghanistan fits what I just described. I'm trying to think what I can say here. We have very recently discovered some new stuff that is not old and it is modern, it is expensive, well done --

Q: Stingers?

Rumsfeld: No, no. I'm not talking about that type of thing. I'm talking about when we raided some places we've found in, and I'm not going to say where, but 25 backpacks all well done with the right equipment and modern stuff and professionally done, so it's not like the money's dried up. There's still more money and more new things coming in as well as discovering older stuff.

Q: Is it explosives or weapons or --

Rumsfeld: It's supplies and equipment and medical gear. These people are well trained and well financed and well equipped.

Q: Where is it coming from, do you know?

Rumsfeld: All over.

Q: China?

Rumsfeld: Nothing notable about China. We find it literally -- if you spread it all out the passports are from lots of different places, the medical equipment and the weapons are from lots of different places.

Q: Is there any concern on your part that the Chinese have been supplying the Taliban? That's really what he's getting at.

Rumsfeld: I have not seen any pattern that suggests that that is a current problem. We have found Chinese weapons but they were old and they were mixed in with Russian and everyone else in the world. Whether they were purchased or not, and whether they were direct or indirect through third or fourth or fifth parties, we have no way of knowing. So I've got no evidence at all that suggests that.

Q: Perhaps your least favorite topic after bin Laden is to talk publicly about Iraq. I thought I'd try a couple of questions anyway. Do you have an assessment on Saddam's grip on power? Whether he's more sturdy, stable today than he was say in the late or mid '90s?

Rumsfeld: I guess I don't have a good grip on that. We look at it. You see scraps of information. Of course all of these things look one way and then they can be very different.

The Shah of Iran looked like he had a good grip. The Iron Curtain countries, 48, 72 hours before they tipped, looked like very strong, dictatorial, repressive regimes with large police forces and they tipped.

So to pretend that our intel is sufficiently good that you could discern the kind of, that you could make kind of a judgment like you're asking about from this distance is difficult.

Q: I ask because you've said this publicly, it's our policy that we want a regime change. So if we want a regime change, how do we assess the likelihood that that's going to happen if we have not looked at Baghdad and --

Rumsfeld: We do look. You asked me how I feel about what I know from having looked, and the answer is I feel like my knowledge is not as good as I'd like to have.

I will say this. If you wanted to take the three countries that the president cited as the axis of evil and you look at North Korea, you would characterize it as a country that, because of the starvation, because of the large numbers of political prisoners, because of the number of people who try to escape and leave the country, refugees who want to exfiltrate out, because of the idiosyncratic behavior by the government, you'd have to say that's a place that is not healthy. It's unhealthy. And it's a terrible thing for the people of that country to be positive next to their neighbors to the south who have an energetic vital economy, and market orientation, and freedoms that the people up north don't have, and they've got the food and they've got the energy. It's just a shame. It's the kind of a thing that could kind of collapse internally one of these days. I'm not predicting that. I should have prefaced my remarks that I have a healthy respect for my inability to answer your question well. And for anyone on the face of the earth, possibly, but certainly this fellow.

If you look at Iran on the other hand, you do see a legitimate reform movement in young people and women and pressure and awareness of what's going on in the outside world, and an educated populace, and a very small clique at the top trying to run the place. With a president who they probably are using as a [inaudible] to the reform movement and then jerk his leash or chain every time he gets too far, assuming he tries to go too far. But clearly they're in charge, the Revolutionary Guard.

That's the kind of a country that could turn, because of a popular movement, away from the extreme positions and the notably unhelpful role in the world that Iran is playing.

Iraq, when one looks at it, repression can work for a very long time. Look at the Soviet Union. He is a world class dictator. He's tough, he's intelligent, he's savvy, he's survived a long time, and it's not likely to collapse internally like another model might be, and it's not likely that there's going to be a large reform movement from the bottom because he kills them off.

So I think of the three elements in the axis of evil, so to speak, the one that is the least likely to alter itself in some way is Iraq.

Q: You've said publicly that you don't believe sanctions can prevent him from getting the stuff he needs to make weapons of mass destruction.

Rumsfeld: No, they aren't.

Q: And you can't --

Rumsfeld: -- dual use and the borders are too porous.

Q: And you can't cast doubt on whether inspections can do that also? You said --

Rumsfeld: Well --

Q: -- the defectors who had given the information that was vital, not the inspections themselves.

Rumsfeld: It's my understanding that the inspectors found things after they were cued and prompted, much more than on their own [inaudible] because of the warning time that when someone enters the country they know they're coming and they know which way they're heading and they can move it. They know which way our airplanes are coming when they go in for Operation Northern and Southern Watch.

Q: So if those two things don't work, how do we prevent Baghdad from getting more weapons of mass destruction?

Rumsfeld: My view of it is that they are serious, they have an enormous appetite for these weapons, that they have never discontinued their work on chemical, biological or nuclear, and that each day that goes by they are improving their competence, knowledge, and undoubtedly development of these things.

Q: How do we stop them?

Rumsfeld: I've looked at inspection regimes and it's hard for me to fashion one in my mind that's sufficiently intrusive that would give one high confidence that they would not be able to measurably improve their circumstance each year with respect to WMD. You can move biological capabilities in the mobile mode and just keep moving them around. The things they've done underground are notable. They've got large underground complexes that have been developed, as do many countries. North Korea is, talk about a world-class burrower, they really know how to do it.

Q: So what's the hold-up, Mr. Secretary? The president's made it very clear that Iraq is in the axis of evil, if you will. You've been very outspoken that these people are total bad actors.

Rumsfeld: I just tell the truth and answer questions. I didn't call you in here to give a speech on Iraq. You asked me a question I gave you the answer.

Q: Well my question is what's the hold-up?

Rumsfeld: Those are questions that aren't for me to respond to.

Q: Let me ask a question about alliance management sort of in general.

I note that the Marines are up to about 175,000. The entire British land army is down to 100,000 and going down. Are we sort of at a point where our allies don't really have anything militarily to offer when we decide that we need to go in? And how does that affect the management [inaudible]? They've got obviously intelligence, financial, diplomatic resources who will be useful. But I think back to World War II when America came in with all the men and materiel, Churchill lost some control of the design of the strategy. How do we at the same time keep an alliance going for all the reasons we need it when we in fact are supplying the only useful military force, or predominantly useful military force in the endeavor?

Rumsfeld: You're talking about NATO as the alliance?

Q: Whatever alliance --

Rumsfeld: Okay. When you think of it right now, what are we doing? We've got something like over 100 countries cooperating in a variety of different ways with basing rights or overflight rights, intel, money cooperation. We've got, I forget what the number is but it's, down at CentCom alone they've got liaison officers from I think 28 or 30 countries.

Clarke: It's over 30 now.

Rumsfeld: Over 30. Where those countries are intimately involved in what we're doing and how we're doing it, what we need help on, and they're helping in dozens of ways.

The maritime intercept program, which we haven't talked about an awful lot publicly, but we've got over 100 ships milling around, 50 to 100 ships in CentCom alone at any given time, plus others in other parts of the world that are interrogating and then boarding ships from time to time, and looking for terrorists and terrorist materials. Those ships are from, less than half are ours.

Q: [inaudible]

Rumsfeld: No, no. This is serious stuff that other countries are providing. When you think of the, I've forgotten which countries don't like us to talk about their special forces, but -- I can't remember. But there have been -- they don't want us to mention it, so don't mention it. [Laughter] We didn't mention New Zealand.

But we've got New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the U.K., one or two others that have been very helpful. These are people that are doing a good job.

We had AWACS flying over here. The help from other countries has been sizeable and significant and helpful. It is different, there's no question but that it's different, but if you look at our country's economy and our country's defense establishment relative to what other countries have it's not surprising that it would be as it is.

Q: No, it's not surprising. It's just that I wonder if maybe we ever get to a more conventional type of confrontation than we currently have --

Rumsfeld: Which army, navy, or air force in the world is that going to involve?

Q: I wouldn't want to speculate, but --

Rumsfeld: Iraq.

Q: It's the notional one.

My question sort of is the facts that we have so obviously both in technology more advanced than in numbers and systems, that we are, is it even useful sometimes to think about, not that we're going to have a tank regiment, but the kind of practical on-the-field support that we had during World War II or other wars. That's probably not likely to happen. Does that affect the way in which we relate to our allies because they're so dominant? It's sort of a general question.

Rumsfeld: It's hard to say. Nothing's static. Things always change. How we related to our allies has evolved over the decades and it's probably still evolving. But goodness knows, we do a lot of exercises with a lot of different countries for the very reason to assure that we've got the reasonable interoperability and connectivity so that we can talk to each other and deal with each other effectively. There's no question but that that's been useful in this Afghan situation. The fact that we've had all these exercises and all of these relationships through NATO, through Partnerships for Peace, through various things in Asia. Japan's participated in this. There are all kinds of things going on.

The U.S. press isn't terribly interested in it. I try to mention it frequently, and I often go down there and talk about what these handfuls of other countries are doing. It isn't noteworthy here. But there's a lot of help coming.

Q: Mr. Secretary, let me ask you another general question.

In World War II clearly the end game was Berlin or Tokyo. I mean the public had a clearly perceived -- you had a clearly perceived bad guy in Hitler, say.

In this war obviously from the president on down you've all made it clear it's going to be a long war. I think the vice president even said it's war that's likely to last beyond his lifetime. But what is the end game here? Don't you worry that the public -- clearly it would simplify it to be the United States versus Afghanistan, but obviously that was not what the war was really about.

Rumsfeld: That's for sure.

Q: So what is the end game here? What is our Berlin? There was even confusion on is Osama the target or is Osama not the target. We've seen that kind of batted back and forth.

So what is the goal here?

Rumsfeld: -- personalizing it, but I felt that way quite honestly about Desert Storm. That personalizing it as Saddam Hussein was probably not as useful as other ways of characterizing it. In this case really it's a war on global terrorism which is defined as organizations that have as their purpose killing innocent men, women and children for the purpose of altering behavior on the part of other nations or other non-state entities.

Q: How do we know when we've won, though?

Rumsfeld: Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all make it simplistic and look for a bumper sticker. To do that is attractive and it would be wonderful if there were one, but in fact what we're trying to do here is just preserve a free people's ability to be free. Their ability to go about their business and not be terrorized. The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize. It's to alter your behavior. Whether you fire a weapon or don't fire a weapon. Whether you fire a plane into a building or you don't. If you can keep people out of buildings by threatening to fly a plane into a building you've won.

So the goal is to have the terrorists not win. For us to figure out a way to live in this world, and we can do that. That means what we've got to do is to be willing to be sufficiently purposeful and sufficiently skillful to get a whole host of nations across the globe to bring into play all of their elements of national power in a cooperative way to put sufficient pressure on them that to the extent they're successful, they're successful in modest ways not in major ways, and in isolated incidents. The assumption being that life isn't perfect; you're not going to be able to stop everyone from doing everything forever. So you have to set a goal for yourself that's realistic, and it seems to me that that goal of saying to yourself we're going to be able to live our lives, and our friends and allies are, and our success in this country depends on our interaction with other nations in the world which is why it's so important that we work with them to help contribute to a more peaceful and stable life. So that we can function and have the opportunities and the freedoms we want.

Q: Don't you worry, though, that that is such a nebulous goal, while admirable, that it's so nebulous that as we get further and further away say from 9/11, the --

Rumsfeld: Not at all.

Q: -- public ardor wanes?

Rumsfeld: Not at all. Why do we have police departments? Why do we have fire departments? Why do we have military? Why did we win the Cold War? Because we're patient. We're sensible. This business that everyone wants to say oh, my goodness, you're not bombing in Afghanistan today therefore everyone's going to lose interest and the support for the war is going to go away. People are intelligent. That's why democracies work is because sure, we're capable of making mistakes as people on little things over a long period and on big things even over a short period, but we don't make mistakes on big things over long periods. Free people. Think of the billions and billions and hundreds and trillions of dollars that have been spent on fire departments and police departments and militaries when they weren't being used.

Q: Mr. Secretary, --

Rumsfeld: We're perfectly able to reorganize ourselves and arrange to live in a high tech world where these things can, even weapons of mass destruction can move around the globe and reduce our margin for error and call on us to have the greater degree of attentiveness, a greater degree of foresight, a greater degree of a willingness to defend ourselves by actively going out and finding terrorists and stopping those terrorists, and accepting the fact that it's not going to be perfect because it isn't. There are going to be additional terrorist acts.

Q: You've got a lot less margin of error though than you used to.

Rumsfeld: Exactly. We do. And that's why it's a different thing for the world. On the one hand you can say that, it's true. The people who think like we think are going to have to be living in an environment where their margin for error is much smaller. That is a fact. That's on the one side. That means it's going to call on us to have a better center of gravity, to respond more quickly, to be more persistent and determined, and to be willing to make the kinds of investments that won the Cold War where multiple nations, free people, invested over decades. That was really an impressive accomplishment.

Another impressive accomplishment is there have been nuclear weapons since 1945 and they haven't been fired in anger. Not bad for human beings. There are a lot of folks milling around those things who could have made a mistake. A pretty good accomplishment.

Q: I'd like to ask you about the president's speech the other night. It was widely speculated, the speech on the Middle East, that this was going to be a speech that was going to really at least give some kind of encouragement to other allies in the Middle East in terms of paving the way for the invasion of Iraq. There were things in there specifically --

Rumsfeld: That's speculation. A, I never heard it, and B, it had nothing to do with --

Q: If there had been the fact that the Middle East and Israel, the Israeli problem as being a real problem for our so-called allies now in the Middle East. So this is a speech at least to, with the Saudis having a program out there for a long time. This was a speech to say okay, this is policy now that we are supporting for getting rid of Arafat in Israel.

I was wondering what you would say about what in that speech helps to hold on to our alliance if it is indeed that which we want to do in terms of a potential campaign against Iraq.

Rumsfeld: I think looking at that speech in that context probably is not the way to walk at it. I think the way to walk at it is that there have been problems in the Middle East for my entire adult lifetime. To get a resolution for those problems is going to require that the parties there be interested in and capable of creating the conditions for peace so that agreements and understandings can be made and lived up to.

The president, I thought, gave a very good speech. The truth is the Palestinian people are the losers. They have had a difficult time. Their circumstance has been difficult. They've been refugees longer than most people I can think of. The president said the truth, that what needs to be done is there needs to be a structure that can be dealt with effectively and it's going to call on cooperation from the neighboring Arab states and the rest of the world is interested in helping, and that it's important that the terrorism stop. I thought it was a very good speech.

Q: I don't disagree with anything you said. I'm just wondering what about it is bringing the Saudis, making them feel better about what we're going to do --

Rumsfeld: I think the reaction in the region has been -- no one was totally happy, which is always going to be the case when you call on them to live up to their responsibilities, and on the other hand I think there was quite a positive response from a number of elements in there, to a number of elements in the speech. And certainly the Saudis and the Jordanians and the Egyptians have all been interested and leaning forward in trying to provide an impetus towards a solution.

Q: And the fact that he was sort of hitting hard about getting rid of Arafat --

Rumsfeld: He didn't even mention Arafat. All he did was say the truth and the truth is look, if something's going to happen there has to be something for it to happen with that is interested in having it happen. That means those people are going to simply, everyone in the region is going to have to address that fact and see if we can't find the kind of structure and leadership. The neighboring Arab states have been very involved in that. They understand that. They agree that there needs to be a structure that's workable and has some staying power. I guess the word I would use, and I don't know if he used it in his speech, but accountability. For connections to be made you've got to have a way for each side to be accountable for what you've agreed to connect on. It's that that isn't there. It's that that needs to be there. He didn't opine as to who it ought to be, but he certainly said it isn't there.

Q: What he did say, Mr. Secretary, was that we need "new leadership not compromised by terrorism."

There's no secret that the Administration clearly considers Arafat to be compromised by terrorism.

What happens if Arafat is reelected in January as President and they don't establish a constitution that places power say in a prime ministership and it remains with Arafat?

Rumsfeld: That's for the president and the secretary of state, and not the Department of Defense.

Q: -- former MidEast envoy.

Rumsfeld: Who had notable success, right? [Laughter] I sure solved that problem. [Laughter] Not to worry.

Q: Let me ask a DoD question. Functionally, how is the Northern Command going to relate to the current Joint Forces Command in NORAD and also the proposed Homeland Security Department?

Rumsfeld: The current Joint Forces Command is going to be shedding its non-Joint Forces training, exercise responsibility. SACLANT being one piece of it.

Q: The transportation management aspect too?

Rumsfeld: It is not going to be doing the work it did on homeland security up until -- it will be doing up until November 1st, I guess it is, or October 31st. From then on it will be in that, its basic responsibility, and Northern Command will take whatever responsibilities it previously had for homeland security from it.

Northern Command will have Canada, Mexico, U.S., out to 500 miles as I recall the Unified Command Plan, and it will assume the responsibilities from Joint Forces Command I described. It will obviously keep NORAD. It is in the process of sorting through exactly how it will be stood up as a command. Obviously it's different from any other area of responsibility.

Q: Does it have actual troops in the chain of command or is it a staff that sort of oversees troops that happen to be passing through it?

Rumsfeld: [Segment deleted due to ground rule.]

The relationship with the Homeland Security Department, A, the department has to get passed and we have to see what it looks like. Second, the Northern Command will have exactly the same reporting relationships as any other CINC. It's going to come straight to me and straight to the president without intervening motions or resolutions or opining. You can't have six hands on the steering wheel.

Q: It doesn't go through the chief. It goes directly from the CINC to you.

Rumsfeld: It always has, ever since for a long time.

Q: Can I ask about missile defense?

Rumsfeld: And it comes directly from the combatant commander -- Northern Command, Pacific Command -- straight to me to the president.

We're going to stand up, very likely, an assistant secretary for homeland security and that person would be the person who would be connecting with the rest of the government including the Homeland Security Department. That is how that would work.

Q: On missile defense, General Kadish talked to reporters the other day and really wouldn't be pinned down on when would be the very soonest we could have an elemental missile defense capability.

Rumsfeld: I can't either.

Q: Can you give us your vision on what the threat is and how soon you would like to see some type of elemental capability, and do we need what has been described as an emergency capability? Something on the shelf just in case.

Rumsfeld: Our position on this is that we're not going to set artificial deadlines. We're basically in a research and development mode and to put target dates out there in an R&D, in an uncertain world like that is not useful.

What we've done instead is we've put out work plans. Here's what we're trying to do. We're looking at all of those things that were restricted by the missile defense, ABM Treaty, and we're attempting to move forward. As we see things that look promising we'll probably accelerate them. As we see things that look less promising, we'll do like we did with Navy Area Wide and not do it until we find a better way to do it.

We're looking at everything from boost to mid-course to terminal. Kadish is doing a good job in my opinion of moving it forward. I'm not certain quite what the language in the Senate bill says, but in conference we hope to end up being able to basically go forward with our program.

Q: What about the threat? Some are saying that North Korea is an emerging threat, could have a missile to hit the U.S. now or by the next several years. Are we going to need something to defend against that?

Rumsfeld: What we're doing with this program is pressing forward with a substantially increased budget that we hope will get passed completely, with sufficient flexibility that we can go forward and do all of those things that we've not yet been able to do.

You're correct, every year that goes by the countries that have development programs for ballistic missiles which include obviously countries like North Korea, Iran, Iraq is developing ballistic missiles. They're supposedly limited to 150 kilometers. How far something goes depends on what you put on it. There's all kinds of ways to have something in excess of that which I have every reason to believe they do.

Q: A couple --

Rumsfeld: the other thing I would say is where you launch it from changes the number of kilometers you need. If you can launch a ballistic missile as you can from a freighter, you've got that capability as well.

Q: An al Qaeda question.

This fleeing al Qaeda, are they using Iraq as any type, or have they used Iraq as any type of a safe haven or channel to get out as they have Iran?

Rumsfeld: Of course Iraq's not contiguous to Afghanistan, if that's what you're talking about, getting out of Afghanistan. The bulk have gone into Pakistan and Iran, and some have been moved beyond that to other places and they've moved all over the world. They clearly have moved some to the United States, some to Yemen, some to Saudi Arabia, a variety of states.

Q: You said about a month ago that you had not heard hide nor hair or something to that effect of bin Laden since December. Is that still an accurate statement?

Rumsfeld: Yeah. Let me phrase it so that there's no ambiguity about it.

I don't know if he's alive or dead or if he's alive where he is. I don't know anyone who does know. If we did know, we would go after him.

I have not seen anything that persuades me that he is visible. I haven't seen anything that is good, hard evidence that he exists. I also have no hard evidence that he doesn't exist or that he's in any particular place. So I'm without knowledge.

Q: How much credence do you give this tape that surfaced in the last few days by one of his lieutenants?

Rumsfeld: Credence? I'm sure he has lieutenants and I'm sure his lieutenants do videotapes, but you can't believe much of anything they say. They have a process of dissembling.

Q: This was an audiotape from one of his inner inner circle guys gave his spokesman a tape where he promised that bin Laden would appear on July 4th in some form.

Rumsfeld: I don't know what you mean by credence.

Did somebody do that? Yes, I'm told somebody did that.

Q: Does that give you any clues about how they're operating these days? The fact that it was just an audiotape and the fact that it did come to someone who's very close to him?

Rumsfeld: No. It doesn't give me any clues. We see so many clues, scraps of information, and they're conflicted, and they're all over the lot. If you mean does it connect dots and lead me to believe something about him? No. I've drawn no new conclusions about him --

Q: So you don't give that any more significance than anything else you're seeing? This new tape. The guy saying he'll be back by July 4th.

Rumsfeld: I honestly haven't studied it. I've got so many things to do that I have not studied the tape or listened to it, nor have I received any information from anyone who has that suggests that I ought to go do that.

Q: Are you satisfied with the pace of the war on terrorism? There's a school of thought that the situation in the Middle East between Israel and the Palestinians have thrown the U.S. war on terrorism off-stride, that --

Rumsfeld: No. I don't know what it was, but I looked the other day and around the world our friends and allies have arrested something like 2,000 people who are being interrogated. We've stopped any number of ships, dozens and dozens of ships and looked and created a deterrent there with respect to the use of the seas for transporting terrorists or terrorist equipment and materials. We have, as I say, in Afghanistan created an environment that's not terribly hospitable to terrorists. Life's not good for them. Are they still there? Sure, they're probably in maybe as many as a third of the provinces, Taliban and al Qaeda in various forms. We're continuing to press on the Pakistan side where there's a lot of these folks, and the Pakistani government's been helpful and worked hard on it. Sometimes it works, like the day we hit 11 spots and captured 50 people. Sometimes it doesn't work quite so well like earlier this week where some of the Pakistani soldiers got killed.

Q: One last question. Are you particularly concerned about the 4th of July? There's been a lot of speculation that this is going to be some kind of big day.

Rumsfeld: I'm not into that business. We've got folks who opine on those subjects and I'll leave it to them.

Q: We heard you were going to halt construction, new Pentagon construction within 100 miles of the Pentagon. Is that accurate? Is that a plan?

Rumsfeld: I don't know if it's happened, but there's no question but that I have said to some staff people that I think that for a variety of reasons it would be a good idea if we knew before it happened any Defense Department-related entity that plans to build or lease within 100 miles of Washington, D.C. I say that for several reasons. One is I think the department's pretty big the way it is and it's not clear to me we need more space. Second, we've got a base closing exercise that's coming up and there are a lot of already-owned facilities around that might be utilized for various activities. Third, it's a big country we've got and everything does not have to be located in the Washington, D.C. area, in my view. For a variety of reasons. I think the health of the country would be better if everything weren't here. And I also think concentration of Defense Department activities in a single area is probably not a smart idea.

Q: So it's a security measure to --

Rumsfeld: No, it's what I said.

Q: -- construction?

Rumsfeld: No. I said it much better than you did. [Laughter] And I was careful not to say that we were halting or stopping or discontinuing anything. All we're doing is saying we'd like a little visibility here in my office about who thinks they're going to buy a new building or buy a 50 acre tract and started erecting more government buildings. I have a feeling that, I worry that this area is just going to sink in the ground with government buildings, to be perfectly honest.

Q: Can I sneak a real quick question in?

I think Congress would be well-advised to fund DoD more generally, but one area that is getting the ERBs, the Guard and Ready Reserve trained up to a level when they can marry up to the total forces.

Is that an area where Congress could be helpful in providing more funds?

Rumsfeld: I am in an awkward position where what I do is I sit down with all those folks here and I try to fashion a budget that balances risks, war risks and people risks and modernization risks and transformation risks and send up a budget that we think has that balance. It's not for me then to go say gee, Congress ought to add to this or add to that or add something else, because it nay-says everything I've spent months trying to do to say nothing of the fact that the president signed off on what we've got up there.

My choice would be to have the Congress pass it roughly the way we sent it up. We think it's internally coherent and fits. The pattern over the decades has been for the Congress, increasingly, every year, to take a bunch of funds out of this and stick a bunch of funds over there where they think they'd like them more. I can understand that and there's nothing to say that the Department of Defense has a monopoly on wisdom. Some of the committees up there were the ones who pushed for unmanned aerial vehicles, for example, and other things.

But I do think it's important that the total thing has some coherence and that we have some flexibility to manage it. So I'm not going to answer your question.

Q: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

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