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Radio Interview with Secretary Rumsfeld with Bill LuMaye, 680 WPTF, Raleigh, NC

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
October 31, 2006 1:10 PM EDT
SEC. RUMSFELD: Hello, Don Rumsfeld here.

LUMAYE: Secretary. Mr. Secretary, this is Bill LuMaye at WPTF, and what an honor to have you back on the show. Thank you for taking time for us.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, thank you, Bill. It's good to talk to you.

LUMAYE: Well, you know, I learned something a long time ago. I'm much older and wiser, but for someone who doesn't have all the pieces to the puzzle, it's pretty difficult to give an accurate portrayal of what's going on. And Mr. Secretary, I know you have more pieces than most folks --

SEC. RUMSFELD: (Laughs.)

LUMAYE: -- when it comes to the war on terror and in Iraq. Can I just ask you straight up -- and this may be unfair to ask for a quick assessment of Iraq, but in light of what we're hearing on television, reading in the paper -- we got the count up now of over 100 dead in Iraq. How accurate is the media coverage, from your perspective?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah, well, it is a tough question to answer because most of the media is in Baghdad and most of the violence occurs within 30 kilometers of Baghdad. So what they're reporting is happening. On the other hand, if you go across the country and fly around the country or visit other parts of the country, as I say, most of the violence is in four of the provinces. Progress is being made everywhere across the country. On the other hand, it's not terribly newsworthy.

I mean, you know, just last week another -- the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Brigade of the 7th Iraqi Security Force assumed responsibility for operations in a tough part of Al Anbar Province, and we've now got six out of 10 Iraqi army divisions that are in the lead, and 30 out of 36 Iraqi brigades are in the lead, and 90 out of 112 battalions are in the lead, and that's a good sign. I mean, our goal is to train up enough Iraqi security forces so that the Iraqis can provide for their own security and our forces won't have to be there, and good progress is being made on that.

LUMAYE: Do you think -- do you agree with the vice president -- and I think there's a lot of validity in this -- in that part of the uptick we're seeing in violence in Iraq -- and I don't want to lay it all on his statement that -- but it could quite possibly, could it not, be due to the fact that the -- we're going through the elections cycle here? Do you agree with that?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, General -- I believe General Caldwell out in Baghdad announced that there are websites that are encouraging violence because of the election. So it -- I mean, there's evidence of that.

You know, they're very good at manipulating the American press and managing the news in a way that advantages them and tries to break the will of the American people. And they're good at it, they know what they're doing, they consciously plan their attacks to achieve that end.

LUMAYE: Well, Mr. Secretary, I know that they come after you all the time, and I don't think it bothers you. But I know you care an awful lot about the soldiers, unquestionably. How do you feel about the kinds of reports we're seeing -- and I don't want to get stuck on the media thing, but you know, you had CNN recently with the terrorist tape; I've seen Katie Couric, CBS News, they have embedded reporters with the Taliban. And I could give you a long list, but I think you get the gist of where I'm going with this. How do you react to that?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, it is -- you know, it's a judgment call for people. I feel so strongly and so supportive of the American troops and what they're doing and they're so proud of what they're doing, and they know what they're doing is achieving a positive end and making progress. You can't visit with them out in Iraq or even in the hospital at Walter Reed or Bethesda here and not come away inspired by their dedication and their patriotism and their conviction that they're going to succeed in what it is they're doing. And to see anyone denigrate that in some way or another is obviously discouraging. On the other hand, we've got 145,000 troops over there that are sending back e-mails telling the truth, telling their families and friends what's actually going on. And I think that's a salutory thing in this conflict.

LUMAYE: You know, and the other thing that's unquestionable in my mind, having had an opportunity to meet many of these folks, is today, whether it's Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever -- at Ft. Bragg or Camp Lejeune here in North Carolina -- what amazes me is the ability of a Republican to watch a Democrat's back, and a Democrat who's quite willing to give his life for a Republican on the field of battle. I mean, the politics -- and there are -- you know, they have their own belief system and they come from all walks of life, Mr. Secretary; you know this --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Sure.

LUMAYE: -- but they -- but this isn't an issue for them. They watch each other's back. And it seems so different here at home, which I believe is -- and maybe I'm wrong about this -- is a front on the war as well.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, it is. I mean, the -- you know, the military always talks about the center of gravity of a conflict, and logically one would think it would be in Afghanistan or Iraq or in the struggle against the violent extremists. But in fact, because they are so calculating in attempting to break the will and to terrorize people and to alter our behavior, the center of gravity of this conflict very much is back in the United States. And they're very good at attempting to alter our behavior. And of course the one thing we can't do as free people is stop being free people.

LUMAYE: How tough is it for you at this point with all of the different variables? Because we're long past the let's go in and shoot 'em up and what have you. We've won that battle. But my goodness, I saw the prime minister, I believe today. You have a sovereign country there who wants to do things a certain way. You have the economics, the politics, the military aspect of things. I mean, you're juggling how many balls in the air, Mr. Secretary?

SEC. RUMSFELD: (Laughs.) Well, it is complicated. And of course we're in a struggle that can't be won by military means alone. We can't lose -- our military -- but it's not possible to prevail by military means alone. It's going to take political and economic and governance progress for the Iraqi people to succeed there. And we're doing a great job of training and equipping their forces and passing over responsibility to them, and over time the Iraqi people are going to have to be the ones to wrestle this insurgency and deal with these extremists over time. And I feel that we're making good progress with the piece of it the Department of Defense has, and it's challenging for this new government -- Iraqi government -- to try to get its sea legs and manage to navigate through what is obviously a very difficult set of challenges for them. You've got to give them a lot of respect for having the courage to take those positions and to put their lives at risk, these Iraqi political leaders, and we wish 'em well.

LUMAYE: No question. And another part of the interview I want to get to -- and we only have a couple of minutes left -- and that is -- and I've often said this -- that those that go overseas and fight, and the family that's left behind, I think they have the tougher tour of duty, quite frankly. And I know in November it is appreciation month for the military family, is it not?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Indeed. And I must say you've got such a wonderfully supportive community in your listening audience. So many folks down there understand the military, they respect the military, they either were in or have family or friends and neighbors in the military, and it is a most hospitable place for men and women in our armed forces.

LUMAYE: Well, Mr. Secretary, Godspeed. You got a huge base here that really, in fact, does appreciate everything you do, despite what you might read in the press.

SEC. RUMSFELD: (Laughs.) Well, I thank you so much. And my thanks to all the families there listening. God bless them. They serve as well, and they sacrifice, just as their sons and daughters and husbands and wives do, and we are deeply appreciative of them.

LUMAYE: Mr. Secretary, a pleasure as always. Thank you for your time today.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you so much, Bill.

LUMAYE: You bet.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Bye.

LUMAYE: Donald Rumsfeld. Thank you, sir.


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