DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Pace
Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2002 - 1:01 p.m. EDT
(Also participating was Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. The slides shown during the briefing are available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2002/g020820-D-6570C.html.)
Rumsfeld: Good afternoon. I have mentioned on several occasions the remarkable contributions that are being made by the United States Army Civil Affairs teams, as well as by our coalition partners, as to the rebuilding of Afghanistan. And I thought it might be useful to provide a somewhat more detailed picture of some of those efforts.
Our goal in Afghanistan, clearly, is to create conditions so the country does not again become a terrorist training camp. Terrorists are like parasites; they seek out weak and struggling countries to serve as hosts for their attacks on innocent men, women and children. If we are to ensure that terrorist networks do not return to take over Afghanistan once again, then we have to help the Afghan people build the infrastructure that will allow them to achieve true self-government and self-reliance.
They need schools to educate the young so they can grow up to be good citizens and mathematicians, scientists -- people who will determine the future of their country. They need roads and bridges to facilitate commerce between the different regions and to make the country hospitable to foreign investment. They need irrigation so their farmers can earn a living and feed the Afghan people. And they need clean water and hospitals to prevent the outbreak of disease.
And that's why the U.S. Army Civil Affairs teams are working in some 10 regions of the country, digging wells, rebuilding schools, bridges and hospitals. The Combined Joint Civil-Military Operations Task Force, I'm told, has completed 58 of 118 scheduled projects in Afghanistan. They've rebuilt four regional hospitals and clinics in Kabul, Mazar, Herat and Konduz, 38 schools in 10 regions, 75 wells to provide decent drinking water, they've completed reconstruction of the Bagram Bridge and the road connecting Bagram to Kabul. More projects are in process, including 10 more medical facilities, 20 more schools, four agricultural products, two roads, two bridges, and 144 additional wells.
To provide a sense of what the impact of these projects really is, I have some "before and after" pictures.
This is the Sultan Razia High School in Kabul before and after. The Army Civil Affairs teams restored it inside and out, refurbished floors, replaced windows and restored electricity.
The next one is the Rohshana-I-Balkhi school in Mazar, a co-ed school that will educate about a thousand Afghan boys and girls.
The next one is the Quzan Village Secondary School in Bamyan Province. It will educate some 500 boys and girls.
The next one is the Bamyam Central Girls High School. It will support over 245 female students.
This next one is a building at Bagram Air Field, which has been refurbished and turned into a new hospital that is capable of treating some 40 patients each day.
This is a -- the next one is a desilting project in Herat. The Civil Affairs teams recruited Afghans to clean out some 19 irrigation canals, offering food for work. The project is already providing benefits to the local farming community.
Next is the Bagram bridge -- before and after. Our folks employed local Afghans to rebuild the bridge, and it now serves as a crucial commercial link between Bagram and Kabul.
And finally, there are some pictures from last Friday's Little League game in Urgun between the Afghan club and Shaheen, which is the Pashto word for "eagles." They're using equipment donated by charities and by the soldiers' families.
What a difference a year makes. The Afghan youngsters are back in school, they're learning to play baseball instead of cowering in fear and hiding from the Taliban's religious beliefs.
In all, the taxpayers of the United States have provided some $500 million, since October 2001, for relief and reconstruction activities in Afghanistan, and more is on the way. Another $1.45 billion has been authorized for this purpose over the next four years.
Coalition forces are making important contributions as well. De- mining teams from Norway, Britain, Poland and Jordan have helped clear land mines from hundreds of thousands of square meters of terrain. Jordan built a hospital in Mazar-e-Sharif that's now treated over 100,000 patients. Spain and Korea have also built hospitals, and Japan has pledged some $500 million to help rehabilitate Afghanistan. Other countries are making important contributions as well.
So not only is the security situation improving in Afghanistan, but the country is becoming more livable, a fact underscored by the flood of refugees that are returning to the country. Each of those refugees have made a judgment that conditions in Afghanistan today are better than what existed before and better than where they've been living.
But more needs to be done. As I said the other day, we need to step up to the challenge of bolstering the new central government by delivering assistance to the Karzai team that has been promised and which he desperately needs.
Pace: Thank you, sir. I was in Kabul about, oh, 10 days ago, and I was really impressed with what I saw there. The streets are crowded with pedestrians, folks on bicycles, traffic jams, numbers of vendors selling their wares, businesses being reopened, shopkeepers putting glass back in the windows -- all the activities that would indicate that the folks in Afghanistan are beginning to invest in their own future. And it's still a very dangerous place, but the signs are very good.
With that, we'll take your questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary, there are reports that U.S. intelligence and the U.S. military recently identified a group of non-Afghans in Northern Iraq who were possibly producing chemical weapons and that the site -- the group, whatever -- was targeted by the U.S. military but that the strike was called off apparently because they dispersed or something. Could you fill us in on that or give us any details at all about that?
Rumsfeld: I have said for some time that there are al Qaeda in Iraq, and there are. I have no comment that I care to make on the subject that you raise, however.
Q: So you'd -- I mean, was there any -- you have no information on any --
Rumsfeld: I didn't say I had no information. I said I had no comment that I cared to make. And I don't.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you said there are al Qaeda in Iraq. These people are --
Rumsfeld: Repeatedly. I wasn't saying these people -- I was -- I have said repeatedly that there are al Qaeda in Iraq. There are. They have left Afghanistan, they have left other locations, and they've landed in a variety of countries, one of which is Iraq.
Q: When you say that in response to a question about this other group, it leaves the impression that these people are affiliated with al Qaeda or are operating with al Qaeda. Is that the impression you want to leave?
Rumsfeld: I -- the impression I want to leave is that I have no comment to make on the specific question that was raised by Charlie.
Q: Of the al Qaeda who are in Iraq, are they there under the auspices of the current regime? Are they simply using it as a hiding place? Are they being protected by Saddam Hussein?
Rumsfeld: Well, in a vicious, repressive dictatorship that has -- exercises near-total control over its population, it's very hard to imagine that the government is not aware of what's taking place in the country.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you have often said -- my words, not yours -- that the transformation of America's military is a linchpin of your stewardship. And perhaps the latest attempt at transforming or the latest example was a war game that just concluded last week - three weeks old -- during which a retired Marine Corps three-star general claimed that the games were rigged, that he was not allowed to win even if he could. And the bottom line being that if America goes into any kind of conflict, Iraq or otherwise, with the lessons ostensibly learned from this war game, we would be in error, and it would be a disaster. Can I get your comment, and maybe, General Pace's?
Rumsfeld: Why not get the comment of an active-duty Marine, as opposed to a retired Marine?
Pace: I'd be happy to.
First of all, I know the retired Marine you're talking about, and he's a great patriot and a true gentleman and a very sincere, honest individual.
I think just like in combat, when you're in an exercise or an experiment, where you stand and what you see is different depending upon where you happen to be. And there's a difference between experimentation which takes a particular set of criteria and changes one at a time to see what the results of that change are, and exercises, which are primarily free play and have one person's mind working against another.
In Millennium Challenge, you had several cases of experimentation going on at the same time you had exercises going on. So, for example, if what the opposition force commander wanted to do at a particular time in the experiment was going to change the experiment to the point where the data being collected was no longer going to be valid as an experiment, then he was asked not to do that. One example was a time when he wanted to use chemical weapons in the exercise against a particular force. At the time he wanted to do that, the force in question was, in fact, not a computer force but a force on the ground that was actually going through the exercise. Now obviously, they wouldn't have dropped chemicals on them, but in the scenario, it would have been chemicals, and the whole timing and the expense of having that unit do what it was doing for the sake of the experiment would have been interrupted. So he was asked not to do that.
Now, as they sit back now in well-lit rooms like this and go through line by line who said what at what time, they will discover whether or not one person's perception is more accurate than another person's perception. Regardless of whether or not one general or another general has the best perception of what happened in the exercise, in the experiment, it would be wrong to make absolute decisions or declarations based on the outcome of this experiment. It is an experiment. It is designed to help quantify where we are and where we might be able to go, and then to experiment again.
Rumsfeld: I might just clarify one thing, lest somebody walk out with a misunderstanding. When General Pace said that he requested the right to use -- the opportunity to use chemical weapons, it should be made very clear that this was not a U.S. force being exercised. He was representing the opposition forces. The United States does not use or have chemical weapons.
Q: (Inaudible) -- not General Pace --
Rumsfeld: Pardon me? General -- what?
Q: No, he was referring to General Van Riper who wanted to use the chemical weapons --
Rumsfeld: That's right.
Pace: As the opposition -- the general acting as an opposition force.
Rumsfeld: It's important to understand that.
Pace: Thank you, sir.
Q: Follow-up, if I may, then. Very simply, based on what you're saying -- it's a two-part follow-up. (Laughter.) From where you stand now, both of you, both of you, you feel the games were not rigged --
Rumsfeld: Kind of taking over the whole briefing here! (Chuckles.)
Q: Just winding down, sir. And did America get its money's worth of the $250-million-plus spent on these games?
Pace: What was the first question again? (Laughter.)
Q: Do you believe, from what you know now, that it was not rigged?
Pace: I actually believe that it was not rigged. If some people in a particular part of the experiment felt like their life was being controlled more than they would like it to be, that wouldn't surprise me. That happens in every exercise because somebody has to be the object of the other person's experiment. So it wouldn't surprise me if some people felt that way. But en masse, the totality of what was being done in Millennium Challenge, the benefit of that is going to be analyzed and reanalyzed over the next several months for the next experiment.
So yes, the money was well spent, and I'm sure we'll learn lessons that will make it better spent next time.
Q: Mr. Secretary, tomorrow you're going to be visiting with President Bush. I am not asking you to provide what guidance you're going to give, but could you just give an overview of how important the meeting might be, what you might be discussing, what are the issues that you'll be discussing, such as missile defense, also whether you'll be talking about cruise missiles, budget? Could you give an outline of it?
Rumsfeld: Sure. What I do is I meet with the president, generally with General Myers or General Pace, and occasionally with one or two other people, on a regular basis. And it happens that he's physically in Crawford instead of Washington. The business of the government goes on. And we're going to be down there and spend a good portion of the day.
One of the topics -- General Kadish is going with us, and one of the topics is missile defense, where we've reached a point in the evolution of the development of that program that it's appropriate to bring the president up to date and to give him an opportunity to hear General Kadish and J.D. Crouch, who works on it from the civilian side, and give any guidance or direction he may care to give after learning how the program has developed to this point.
A second thing we're going to be briefing him on, and discussing with him, very much as we did last year, is where we are having come out of the Quadrennial Defense Review last year, into the budget of this year to the Defense Planning Guidance of this year, and beginning to build the budget for the coming period. We will be walking him through the number of studies that are currently underway and are being worked on diligently here in the department and visiting with him about some of the major program issues that the department is discussing and the services and the CINCs are meeting with Secretary Wolfowitz about -- on a fairly regular basis.
Q: Would you be discussing your latest thoughts about cruise missiles? And what is your latest thought about cruise missiles?
Rumsfeld: We have no plan to discuss cruise missiles that I can recall.
Q: But what are your latest thoughts on that -- on the danger of --
Rumsfeld: Well, I have said for a year and a half-plus that I think that the United States of America has to be attentive to the traditional capabilities that can exist in the world, whether it's armies, navies or air forces; whether it's conventional or -- weapons of various types.
I've also said that I think we need to be sensitive and capable of deterring and defending against or dealing with a host of non-symmetrical or asymmetrical capabilities, including cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, terrorism, cyberattacks, ways that countries can develop capabilities a much -- in a much cheaper and less expensive way that having to develop an army or a navy or an air force. And I said that in my confirmation hearings. I have said it every month since. I believe it.
This department is attentive to that problem, and those are things we're working on. And certainly, cruise missiles, given their proliferation around the world, their versatility -- they can be launched from land, sea or air. They have versatility in terms of the warheads they can take. They can take a conventional warhead or a nuclear warhead, a chemical or a biological warhead. They're highly accurate. And they can, with minor adaptations, achieve considerable range. So yes, we do worry about cruise missiles, as we do ballistic missiles, terrorism and cyberattacks and any way that another entity or -- state or a non-state entity can attack the United States or our friends or allies.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: Mr. Secretary, it seems with each passing week, more allies are expressing concern about the apparent direction the United States is headed with regard to Iraq. Do you feel, as you ponder your options on Iraq and other countries that may be threatening to the United States, that this growing list of friends of the United States that are expressing concern -- does that alter, affect your thinking? Or is it the threat that you focus on that drives you down that path to, I gather from what other people in the administration say -- that that is what you have to focus on, not voices of dissent that are being raised by traditional American friends? Help us understand your thinking.
Rumsfeld: Well, of course, I think the first thing to say is, my thinking is probably not particularly relevant, or certainly not determinative. The president and the society and the Congress and other countries have to wrestle with these issues and come to grips with how they want to deal with them.
I, as a student of history -- we all know that in a number of periods of history, there have been -- there's been almost unanimity in a certain position and it's proved to be wrong. So the fact that voices can cluster in a certain way does not mean that that is necessarily the wise course or the prudent course.
Second, I think you'll find if you look below the surface, that an awful lot of the voices one hears get somewhat louder during election periods and then seem to be less noticeable after elections are over. And there are always elections taking place around the world.
Third, I don't know that I would agree with you, necessarily, that there is a notable accumulation of opposition. I think that there are properly people in our country and people in the world looking at the circumstance that our world is in and expressing their concerns about it, and people fall on one side of the spectrum or another side of the spectrum or all across the range of the spectrum. And I think that's understandable because if these things were easy, there would be no debate. People would be out doing what people do in August when they're not sitting in the Pentagon press room. But because they are important issues, it's not surprising that they're discussing them and thinking about them.
QDo you feel as your --
Rumsfeld: And I respect that.
QDo you feel as your case, the president's case, is laid out on these issues, that -- certainly you hope, but do you believe that there will be a swing more in the direction of the United States than there currently is now on this issue?
Rumsfeld: I have no idea what the president will ultimately decide, or when, or if. Clearly, in any endeavor, one would prefer to have near acclamation and support. Life is not like that, generally. We find that leaders have to make decisions that may be close calls. And that's what they do. And sometimes they -- they find that when the decision's ultimately made -- that the tone and the tempo changes dramatically. And --
Q: In terms of support.
Rumsfeld: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
Q: Mr. Secretary, in regard to Iraq and al Qaeda: You said --
Rumsfeld: I was trying to talk about Afghanistan.
Q: I know. You said you --
Rumsfeld: It seems like anything that -- I really do think that it's a mistake for the press and the media to focus excessively on this one subject and particularize everything to it. I find that the debate and the discussion, the national dialogue, the international dialogue is a little out of balance. I don't know what one can do about that, except that I've found that from time to time, I'll give an interview and never mention the word Iraq, and I find that the whole interview is cast around Iraq. And --
Q: But sir, the administration, itself, put Iraq on a front burner and turned up the heat. And now you're asking --
Q: The president talks about it every day.
Rumsfeld: That's fine. He did give a speech on the "axis of evil." I think it was a good speech. I think it'll prove to have had a beneficial effect for the people in all three of those countries when we look back a decade from now.
Q: Actually --
Rumsfeld: Excuse me. You have a question. I apologize.
Q: Actually, I was going to follow up on something you said earlier -- that --
Rumsfeld: On Afghanistan -- oh -- (laughter).
Q -- al Qaeda is in Iraq and that you find it hard to imagine that the government of Iraq wouldn't know what's going on inside its own country. But is there evidence -- what kind of evidence is there that the government of Iraq is any way hosting, supporting, sponsoring al Qaeda or any other terrorists inside Iraq?
Rumsfeld: Well, I suppose that at some moment, it may make sense to discuss that publicly. It doesn't today. But what I have said is a fact -- that there are al Qaeda in a number of locations in Iraq. And the suggestion that those people who are so attentive in denying human rights to their population aren't aware of where these folks are or what they're doing is ludicrous.
Q: Mr. Secretary, I'd like to get back to Ivan's question a moment ago, concerning Millennium Challenge. General Van Riper, who was in charge of the opposition force, is, I think, one of the most experienced and respected war-game players in the United States military. And the report is that he was so disturbed about the situation that he resigned midway through the exercise. I would think that that would be something that you folks would want to discuss with him personally. Have either of you talked with him about that? And how are you going to pursue this allegation?
Pace: Actually, I have talked with General Van Riper. He did not resign. He stayed through the end of the exercise. In fact, at the end of the exercise, he submitted a 21-page classified document to General Kernan, the exercise director.
Rumsfeld: That will be public in about five minutes. (Laughter.) You just put a big bull's eye on that piece of --
Pace: But the fact of the matter is that he has in fact participated all the way through. And again, when you try to have a free-play exercise that has free will versus free will going on at the same time that you have an experiment going on, something has to give occasionally. And I have not seen the report. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of analysis done. But it is reasonable that reasonable men looking at the same criteria or same data from a different viewpoint could come up with, initially, a different conclusion. And they're going to take this data -- "they" being Joint Forces Command, who conducted the experiment and the exercise, and they will digest it all to include General Van Riper's, I'm sure, very reasoned and very well thought-out recommendations. And they'll make adjustments for the next one.
Q: Mr. Secretary, Afghanistan question. There are some disturbing reports out of Afghanistan that the Afghan government is releasing potential people who might be members of al Qaeda or Taliban and that they might -- and that the U.S. is not having access to these people. The reports are quoting Afghan government officials to this effect. Do you have any information on that?
Rumsfeld: No. I heard those reports this morning, and we've got people looking into it. I'm not aware that that's the case.
Q: I've got two questions, one for each of you, if that's all right. On the first one, General Pace, regarding the Millennium Challenge, this is just what I want to make sure I understand. It's my understanding that before the Millennium Challenge began it was described as you said, "free play" -- an opportunity to test out all these theories and also technologies, and the good guys might win, they might lose.
I actually saw some of the game. I actually saw an engagement in which several of these new Striker vehicles were ambushed and destroyed. A decision was made by the controllers at that time that most of the vehicles that were destroyed would be brought back to life and allowed to continue the game. There have since been some Army officials who have said privately that that sort of decision was made in advance, that a number of decisions were made in advance to ensure that one side would win.
So my question to you is, is that true or am I missing something?
Pace: I don't know what you're missing. I don't know what you're referring to "is that true?" I will simply tell you that when you lay out an exercise where you've got 13,000 participants across the scope of the United States from multiple locations, some doing it by computer, some actually getting on airplanes and flying to the location, that you have a scenario that you have lined up and that you try to have unfold according to a time line that allows you to observe it, to learn lessons and to control the environment.
It is absolutely routine, when a force goes in, in an exercise and it gets destroyed, whether it's the enemy force or the friendly force, to reconstitute that force so that you can go on to the next part of your experiment. So the fact that something was killed and then brought back to life and continued to play is the way we, in fact, use our forces. Otherwise, you'd pay x thousand dollars to get PFC Pace out into the desert, you kill me in the first day, and I sit there for the next 13 days doing nothing; or you put me back to life and you get 13 more days worth of experiment out of me, which is the better way to do it.
So we're going to find out through the analysis of the exercise what went right and what didn't. But you should not read into the fact that we have done what we always do, which is lay out a scenario and then, when things start to unfold, the scenario is impacted by free will, but it's also controlled to get certain things experimented.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, I have to bring up Iraq again. How do you personally feel when you hear the German chancellor last year saying unlimited solidarity with the United States, and then just a couple of weeks ago saying that military intervention in Iraq is an unnecessary adventure and Germany won't support it?
Rumsfeld: Oh, I haven't read the full text of his remarks, I'm afraid, so I'd be disinclined to comment on it.
QSir, the transformation portion of the report that you recently submitted to the president indicated that you're still committed to finding the funds to modernize and transform the force, particularly --
Rumsfeld: I don't know what report you're talking about.
Q: The Defense Department's annual report to the president.
Rumsfeld: Oh, yes. Good.
Q: The sections of that report that deal with transformation indicate your continued commitment to it. My question is, are you finding it increasingly difficult to find the funds and make the case for bringing those funds up into the forefront of the budget-making process in light of the expense that the government is having to undergo with the war and other efforts associated with the war against terrorism?
Rumsfeld: I guess the short answer is no. It's always hard to find the funds to do all the things you'd like to do and that everyone in the Department of Defense would like to do. But I don't think there's anything -- I don't think there's anything about the war that is in any way inhibiting transformation. I could make the case that there are aspects of what's taking place in the conflict, in the global war on terrorism and the distinctively new threats we're facing, which is providing impetus to transformation. Quite the contrary.
QMr. Secretary, two quick questions, please.
QIf you have any comments on the NBC report -- (inaudible word) -- by Washington Post that last year, several members of al Qaeda related to Pakistan's military government were arrested in Florida, and at that time, in the original indictment, the name of Pakistan was omitted due to some diplomatic reasons. But now the case is reopened again, and --
Rumsfeld: I haven't seen the report. I can't comment. And I can't believe that the press would omit some names for diplomatic reasons. (Laughter.) That sounds just unbelievable to me.
Q: The report said the missiles and nuclear components were (swapped ?) -- for the al Qaedas in Pakistan and the military government. My question is that some al Qaeda is now in Pakistan, which you believe that there some there. But they have -- (inaudible) -- as far as their nuclear and other missile -- (inaudible) --
Rumsfeld: I have no information on what you're referring to.
Q: (Inaudible) -- the United States -- (inaudible)?
Rumsfeld: I have no information on it.
Q: Can I also follow up on the transformation issue? You've talked a lot about cruise-missile defense, ballistic-missile defense, the asymmetric threats. But on the other side of the equation, the strike side: As these kind of targets pop up around the world and you think about transformation and where you want to spend money, how do you begin to solve the problem of striking these targets on a widening basis, as it were -- on a no-notice, 24/7, around-the-world, anywhere/anytime basis, so you can get to them in time?
Rumsfeld: We're spending a lot of time in the department looking at ways that our current capabilities and our future capabilities can be characterized as very rapidly deployable; lethal; involving a relatively small footprint, compared to the past; capable of sustainment; agility once in theater. And these are things that -- you find those words reoccurring throughout much of what each of the departments is doing -- each of the services. And certainly, you find that that is what the CINCs are thinking about -- the combatant commanders.
Q: Ideally, how quickly should the U.S. military be able, would you hope, to strike a target?
Rumsfeld: Depends on the kind of a target, but if it's an army or a navy or an air force, you have the advantage of a little time, generally. If it's a target that conceivably could move in the next three hours, obviously, your task is more difficult.
I think we'll take one last question.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Q: (Inaudible) -- embassy in Germany --
Rumsfeld: One -- did I miss the embassy in Germany?
Q: Yeah, what about Germany? The embassy in Germany has been taken over by some Iraqi dissidents. Is --
Q: Well, that's what the German police say. Is this part of the strategy that the U.S. has been supporting with the different -- (laughter) --
Rumsfeld: John! Oh! I am embarrassed for you!
Q: This is a very serious question!
Rumsfeld: I am very embarrassed for you! The thought that the United States would be engaged in something like that is so far afield that you know that, I know that, everyone here knows that. The answer is no. Obviously we don't know what's taking place there any more than you do in your question and -- (laughter). Just for fun!
Q: Yeah, that's fun.
Rumsfeld: Yeah! (Laughs.)
And assuming that roughly what's being reported is roughly right, needless to say, that's not the best way to approach things, and of that you can be sure.
Q: You've talked on a couple of occasions on philosophically perhaps the need to preemptively strike a nation -- not necessarily Iraq, just somewhere. And I'm wondering if you have a litmus test or a set of conditions that you would need to see in order to make the call for a preemptive strike? What has to be in place? Is it a nuke? Is it complicity with al Qaeda? Have you considered any of those things?
Rumsfeld: I have considered a lot of those things. And the problem is, if I answer your question, someone's going to think I'm talking about Iraq.
Q: Let's say you're definitely not talking about Iraq. (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: We'll go to Dick Myers' "the moon." (Laughter.) Remember? Were you here for that when he -- theoretically, the --
Q: What makes a preemptive strike legal under international law, in your eyes?
Rumsfeld: Well, I'm not a lawyer, Pam. You know that. Don't give me that --
Q: Okay, skip the international law part. What makes a preemptive strike okay, acceptable?
Rumsfeld: Well, I would make the case that there are a whole series of things that ought to be looked at, and that there isn't a single one that's determinative, and that what one would have to do is to evaluate those and weigh them.
And the construct I would suggest would be what are the benefits -- what are the advantages and disadvantages of not acting? And of course, the advantage of not acting against the moon would be that no one could say that you acted; they would say, "Isn't that good, you didn't do anything against the moon." The other side of the coin, of not acting against the moon in the event that the moon posed a serious threat, would be that you'd then suffered a serious loss and you're sorry after that's over. And in weighing the things, you have to make a judgment; net, do you think that you're acting most responsibly by avoiding the threat that could be characterized -- X numbers of people dying, innocent people -- and it's that kind of an evaluation one would have to make.
Q: Is there some way of judging what the likelihood of a tragic event happening if you didn't take a preemptive strike? I mean, does it have to be 50 percent possibility or 25 percent possibility? What's that algebra?
Rumsfeld: Well, if you think about it, think of the people today who are still writing books about Pearl Harbor, and what did you know and when did you know it, and what might have been done to not have that happen, and so forth. There would be a lot more people writing books and analyzing that question if the attack on Pearl Harbor had been with a weapon of mass destruction as opposed to conventional weapons, which killed several thousand people.
People are still trying to connect the dots and say what did people know and what might have been done with respect to September 11th. There are committees up on the Hill looking into that and asking those questions. The problem is that if you think back to the beginnings of World War II, where millions and millions, tens of millions of people were killed, historians go back and look at that and ask themselves the question: Isn't it possible that if countries had behaved marginally differently during that period, notwithstanding the fact that the chorus of peace in our time and "don't do anything that would be unseemly" was very strong, and it was near unanimous. There were only a few lone voices suggesting that Hitler might ought to have been stopped earlier.
Q: Do you see parallels?
Rumsfeld: No. I'm taking Pearl Harbor, World War II in Europe -- what's another example? Well, I mentioned September 11th.
Q: How about Iraq? (Laughter.)
Q: How about the start of World War I, where actions were taken that set events in train and somebody reacted and we wound up with what I think a lot of historians think may have been an avoidable catastrophe.
Rumsfeld: Mm-hm. The problem is, after a catastrophe, almost -- there is always going to be a great deal of history written about how it might have been avoided. And that's just the nature of human beings. We do do that; we do go back and look. And of course, it's an awful lot easier to go back and look at the past and analyze it than it is to analyze the future and what might take place. And you're asking questions that are difficult, and they're important, and they merit the thought and the attention and the discussion of the American people and the people in the world.
Thank you very much.
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