Thursday, September 12, 2002
(DASD (PA) Whitman Interview with KIRO Radio)
KIRO: While we're waiting for those calls let me welcome Bryan Whitman, spokesman for the Defense Department at the Pentagon. Bryan thanks for coming on today.
Mr. Whitman: Well, thank you for having me.
KIRO: One of the things that we have neglected during this week, as we haven't been here until today is the Pentagon, which also of course was a target of September 11th. There was a very moving and certainly well attended ceremony at which Defense Secretary Rumsfeld spoke the other day, talking about the tremendous recovery effort, the fact that the place was put together in under a year, singling out the heroes, the people who did heroic work on that day. I just want to take this opportunity to ask you what that meant to those of you who work in the building.
Mr. Whitman: Well it was an amazing day there's no doubt about it. It was a day in which we look back with both sadness and pride I think. Sadness because we lost 184 of our colleagues here in the building when Flight 77 impacted at the Pentagon. It was also a day of pride, too. As you said, the Pentagon has been rebuilt and it has been rebuilt through a tremendous effort of all the contractors that were involved and it was completed, at least the outside structural integrity was completed in less than a year and has come in at considerably under the initial cost estimates also, something that's not very common.
KIRO: You guys are the military guys and this is U.S. military headquarters, and U.S. military headquarters is not supposed to get hit by any enemy regardless of how underhanded they are.
I'm just wondering, the rest of us feel a sense of vulnerability as a result of attacks on these high rise office towers, but what about you guys? What's the lesson you take away from that?
Mr. Whitman: I think one of the painfully learned lessons of September 11th is that the challenges of the new century are not going to be nearly as predictable as they were during the Cold War. In the years ahead we're likely to be surprised by new adversaries who strike in unexpected ways and we need here at the Defense Department to be prepared for those new kind of threats.
KIRO: There was a report issued today by one of those think tanks saying that America is not ready to go to war against Iraq at this time. What's your boss saying about that?
Mr. Whitman: First of all, that would be a decision for the President and the President has not made such a decision. But I can assure you and your listeners that the United States military will be ready for any mission, which the Commander-in-Chief assigns to us.
KIRO: So would you say the Pentagon is back to normal now? Or do people still get flashbacks, still talk about that day?
Mr. Whitman: You know, it's a day that nobody will forget and we shouldn't forget. We can never forget the 184 that died here, the nearly 3,000 people that died in New York, and those that perished in Pennsylvania. So we don't want to forget. I think yesterday's anniversary was an opportunity for us here at the Pentagon as well as all Americans to really recommit themselves to the task ahead of us. We are only at the beginning of this war on terrorism. It's been said that we're closer to the beginning than we are to the end and that's very true. But yesterday was an opportunity I think for us all to recommit to the challenges that lie ahead, and there are many.
KIRO: Bryan, thanks for coming on. I appreciate it very much.
Mr. Whitman: You're welcome.
KIRO: Bryan G. Whitman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and Pentagon spokesman.