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Radio Interview with Secretary Rumsfeld and Eileen Byrne, WLS 890 AM Chicago, Ill., at the Pentagon

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
September 11, 2006
BYRNE: (In progress) -- he's been with us here on WLS before, Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of Defense. It's nice to have you this morning.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, thank you very much. I'm delighted to be with you and talk to those great folks in Chicago.

BYRNE: (To audio technicians.) Can you guys hear that?

All right, sorry, your mike was not on, Secretary. I apologize.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, I'm very pleased to be with you and have a chance to visit with some folks in Chicago.

BYRNE: Tell us your thoughts five years later on the anniversary of 9/11.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, the first thought is what a wonderful country we have and how fortunate we are. I mean, we took the biggest blow that we've ever taken in a single attack in the September 11th attack five years ago. The purpose was to terrorize the American people, and the American people have not been terrorized. They're still flying in airplanes; they're still free people; they're still going about their business and doing what they want and saying what they want, and living as free people. And we're a compassionate people.

BYRNE: I feel that the September 10th mentality of 2001, that we felt safe, but we were not, today we might not feel very safe, but we do -- we are aware of our enemy and we are fighting back. And I do believe that we are safer five years to this day. What are your thoughts about being safe?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, you're absolutely right. Of course the task we have is to see that the American people are safe. And we think about it every day. For us, every day is September 12th. And we recognize the importance of -- you simply cannot defend against terrorists in every location, in every moment of the day or night, against every conceivable terrorist technique. Therefore, you have no choice but to go after them wherever they are and put pressure on them and make everything harder for them. It has to be harder to move between countries, harder to raise money, harder to get weapons, harder to communicate. Everything has to be harder for them. And we have an 80- or 90-nation coalition that is making everything harder for the terrorists, and that's a good thing.

BYRNE: How do you feel when some Democrats say that because of Iraq and because we have waged the war in Iraq, we are less safe? And what's happening -- (off mike).

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, I guess - how do you feel about it - I guess the first thing you feel about it…it's politics, and it's election season, and people are going to say whatever they say.

The fact of the matter is - if Saddam Hussein were still in power in Iraq, he would be rolling in petrol dollars. Think of the price of oil today. He would have so much money. And he would be seeing the Iranians interested in a nuclear program, he would be seeing the North Koreans developing a nuclear program, and he'd say well why shouldn't he - and he would. So we're fortunate that he's gone.

We're fortunate that the Taliban have been thrown out of Afghanistan and that 50 million people have been liberated. The situation in Iraq is difficult and people are -- the violent extremists that are trying to hijack that faith have killed an awful lot of Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere around the world.

But we now have an 80- or 90-nation coalition that is putting pressure on the terrorists, and that's a good thing.

BYRNE: One of the questions that people do ask and critics ask five years later is, where is Osama bin Laden? And I do -- I would like to ask you in regards about Afghanistan and the Taliban resurfacing and, of course, NATO fighting there and what are the efforts there and how do you answer the thing, though? Where is OBL?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, I guess the first thing is that there have been people on the FBI Most Wanted List in just our country -- not the whole world, but our country for 10, 20, 30 years and they have not been found. The Department of Defense isn't organized, trained and equipped to do manhunts. Our business is armies, navies and air forces. So it's possible.

The important thing is that there's not been an attack in this country for the last five years. So if -- assuming he's alive, he's obviously very busy trying not to get caught, and everything is more difficult for them, and that's a good thing.

BYRNE: The president has come out and talked about the CIA prisoners, about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, got a lot of intelligence from those guys. What happens now as we continue our efforts in getting this intel from these terrorists? What does Congress need to do from here?

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Congress needs to pass the legislation that the President put forward. The people who masterminded 9/11 and a number of other activities that were stopped and thwarted will not be put on trial unless they pass that legislation. And I don't think that members of Congress are going to want to be in a position of having prevented that legislation from passing and preventing the United States government from bringing to justice the people who killed 3,000 Americans.

Good to see you.

BYRNE: Appreciate your time. Thank you.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: You bet.

BYRNE: Thank you for joining us. Secretary Donald Rumsfeld here on 890 WLS.

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