Press Availability with Secretary Rumsfeld and Singapore Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew from the Pentagon
SEC. RUMSFELD: That is a very impressive individual. I've been meeting with him since the mid-1970s, and you always come away feeling you've been with someone who has accomplished enormous things in Singapore as a leader, who has a perspective that is always valuable and useful to learn from now.
Q Question about North Korea, the U.N. sanctions. What might be the role of the US military (inaudible)?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Unclear. Obviously, no one country can deal with a problem like that alone. It takes cooperation among a great many countries to participate, and things move in land, sea and air, and it's complicated. And only time will tell.
Q What about the sea part of it? Is that something that -- (off mike)?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't think it's possible to disaggregate the pieces really. If something can move, often it can move any number of different ways, and I have no idea how it'll all sort out, what other countries' decisions will be, and what the decisions that North Korea might make.
Q Sir, have you been encouraged at all at what China's been doing in interdicting some of the cargo or are they not doing enough?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't have a good visibility into precisely what they are doing. I've heard of what you're referring to, and I think that I'd like to see a little time pass over before I have a good sense of it.
Q First, on Iraq, Mr. Secretary. Is an actual timetable for the withdrawal of American troops one of the options on table right now you're considering?
SEC. RUMSFELD: No, that's something the president has said "no" to any number of times.
Q So that's not something you consider to be on the table right now?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I just answered the question.
Q On North Korea. Can you give us any idea about whether or not you think North Korea's planning or making preparations right now for a second test?
SEC. RUMSFELD: We won't know until something happens, but there have been -- there's been speculation about that in the press. But some of it's very general that, one, we've seen them do things in multiples rather than singles. And of course, very recently they fired off some missiles, six or eight, as I recall, shorter range, and then the Taepo Dong II. There is speculation that they may want to do something additional. There's also speculation they may not. So only time will tell.
Q Are you referring to speculation or intelligence indications?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, we'll just call it speculation. (Laughs.)
Q Mr. Secretary?
Q (Off mike) -- that it appears that this blast was plutonium origin as opposed to highly enriched uranium? Are you able to comment -- (off mike)?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I think I'm going to leave that to the intelligence community. I will, needless to say, look at the intelligence. But it has been evolving over time, and as different reports come in, people add to their knowledge, and their thinking adjusts somewhat. I'm kind of inclined to leave it to one organization to comment on it.
Q Mr. Secretary, in Balad, with U.S. forces going in to reinforce the Iraqi forces, do you consider that a setback to Iraqi forces or to be expected at this point?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I have felt all along that this is a very complicated business. It's difficult to do. It's hard for the Iraqis. It's something they're trying to do that they've not done before. And we had worked with them, General Casey and the ambassador working with the prime minister's office, to develop some benchmarks or some projections as to what they might be able to do, the Iraqis. And as they do that, they look out ahead.
And so, for example, I think two provinces have been passed over to Iraqis, to their local government security, and they have a list of others ready to go that they think on this date or that month or some period down the road. We've always felt that it was speculative, it's not certain, because you're not going to pass over something that you think is premature. I've also always believed that it's entirely possible, and we've, in fact, seen this happen in Iraq, where you could pass something over and it not work out, in which case you have to retrieve it and then do some work and then pass it over.
And so I think it's -- it will never be a smooth, straight path. It will be working with them and urging and encouraging them to take on more and more responsibility for the governance and the security of their country.
We have a number of things that we have in training for them to do that. They have some very big governance issues -- the issue of oil, the issue of reconciliation, the issue of federalism that they're wrestling with, they have provincial elections that they're going to have to face, and then there's the security issues, where we've constantly moved from none of their elements in the lead and none of their military units under the direct control of the prime minister to the minister of Defense to the unit to the point where we've had many of their units now in the lead and some divisions have actually moved into the newly stood up command system from the prime minister down. And additional divisions will be moving in there, and there are dates when they think they'll be ready.
The thing that's trailing are the combat support and combat service support and the police to some extent. They were addressed later in the sequence. And so -- but the thing that's really accelerated the process has been these embedded trainers, and they've done really a superb job in strengthening and providing a rib cage to the Iraqi security forces that's made a big difference. So --
Q So are you expanding that official --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, we just have expanded it. We've gone from -- we were originally told we could not do it with the police, the Ministry of Interior forces, so we did it with the Ministry of Defense forces. And I forget the number right now, but the last time I looked, we have over 3,000 senior and noncommissioned officers and junior officers who are -- you know, they're the competence, they're the leadership in our units. And to take them and to inject them into these Iraqi units, where they can live with them, eat with them, work with them every day, see weaknesses, see strengths, point out the equipment shortfalls, point out imperfect relationships between the police and the military, or imperfect relationships between intelligence and the military, and get on the phone and figure out what to do about it. And as a result, the capabilities of these units have -- Iraqi units have dramatically improved, and they're really doing quite a good job.
Q But concerning the Military Commissions Act, is DOD working on the rules of the commission now? And do you have a target timeline for when the new commissions will occur?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The law was signed this morning. The outline is there. And the people in the Pentagon who the president has asked to do these tasks have been aware of what the outlines of the legislation would be now for some period of days. And certainly they are working to develop the approach that they will take. As you know, some of the people have been transferred to Guantanamo. And to my knowledge, I don't -- I haven't been involved in it very deeply, to be -- (chuckling) -- you know, just to get it up on the table. And the people that have, to my knowledge, do it on an interagency basis. That is to say our people here, who will do a lot of the mechanical things, also are in very close contact with the White House and with the attorney general in terms of what the rollout ought to be. And I've not seen any briefing or report as to exactly what they have in mind or how fast they plan to go.
Thank you, folks.
Q Thank you.
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