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Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with the Mike Gallagher Show

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
October 30, 2002

(Interview with Mike Gallagher, The Mike Gallagher Show)

Q: Trying not to embarrass myself. Sitting there blubbering and weeping at the Oval Office, all these people looking real cynical and jaded. This is where it is. All the history, and these men, Ronald Reagan was in this room, George Bush walked these halls, and Donald Rumsfeld, of course walked these halls as well. We're so honored to welcome the Honorable Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, to the Mike Gallagher Show.

Have you ever wept in the White House, Mr. Secretary?

Rumsfeld: I can't remember doing that.

Q: Never weeping?

Rumsfeld: No, I can't. I've spent a lot of time in there, through some good times and some tough times dating back many, many years.

Q: It's an overwhelming experience to come here and see it the way we have had a chance to see it.

Rumsfeld: My first visit was a reception that President Kennedy had when I was a congressman down there, a freshman congressman, before the Bay of Pigs, before he was assassinated -- after the Bay of Pigs and then before he was assassinated. It is an impressive and (inaudible) place and certainly brings back so many historical memories.

Q: Everything they say about it, the aura, the presence, the magnificent presence, is true. And what a neat idea for the Bush Administration to kind of reach out, and let's face it, to some of our wildly partisan pro-Bush Administration conservative talk show hosts who get to be here at a very important time, a crossroads in our nation's history, but it's kind of an innovative way I think to reach out to Americans in the heartland, so that they can see what the White House is like too.

Rumsfeld: Sure. I think it's a good thing. It is the people's house.

Q: I showed you my lapel pin on my suit coat. Do you recognize that?

Rumsfeld: I do indeed. We had one that we used on October 11th, one month after September 11, 2001, and then we had a second one, the one you have, that was for September 11th of '02, the ceremony we had.

Q: I was able to bring the Mike Gallagher show to the Pentagon and be there --

Rumsfeld: That was a moving moment.

Q: I watched you and your wife on that stage along with the President, the First Lady. I was there sort of emotionally feeling so many different thoughts. What was going through your mind as you stood there on September 11th, 2002 at the Pentagon?

Rumsfeld: Well you can't help but think, needless to say, of all the people that were lost. Also all the people that are across the globe, our men and women in uniform doing a wonderful job for this country. And all that's been accomplished in that one-year period, it's been in amazing number of things that have happened. The shift in our orientation as a country and the defense establishment, the coalition of 90 nations that's been put together. The largest coalition in the history of mankind. The breadth and depth and variety of nations, the different things they're doing to try to help deal with this terribly difficult problem of terrorism.

Q: One of the myths, it seems to me, Mr. Secretary, that the partisan critics of this Administration keep furthering is that we're going to have to go it alone with Iraq. We're it. We're the only ones that think that Iraq is the bad guy. Of course that's not true.

Rumsfeld: No indeed. First of all the President has not made a decision as to whether or not force will be required and therefore it's not surprising that there's not a large [inaudible] coalition since the decision's not been made. There are any number of countries who have already volunteered assistance if and when such a decision is necessary after the UN process has run its course.

Q: There's been an education process for the American people and certainly the world community, but particularly for America, hasn't it? That's been the role that -- As I watch your press briefings and your message, it seems to me you are almost in a role of teacher/instructor to say here's why we have to stare this man down. Here's why we have to -- That's been the role, hasn't it? Partly to try and educate us as to the reasons why we've got to do what we're going to do?

Rumsfeld: I guess you're right. An awful lot of people say that.

There is a need for putting things in context. There's a need for putting things in some historical context as well as the 21st Century context, but the kind of world we live in, the kind of problems we face, the circumstances we have to live with and deal with, and what are the variety of ways that people in history have coped with those things and dealt with them. And what this President and this Administration is trying to do and why. It is something that I think is probably a useful thing to do and I try to do it.

Q: Mr. Secretary, many people certainly in the world of talk radio would debate the role of the United Nations. And some of us are not to fond of the UN and the apparent resistance to what the United States stands for in terms of military strength and might. What are your thoughts on our uneasy relationship with the UN? Is that going better than could be expected or are we at a bad place in the United Nations community right now?

Rumsfeld: Well, if you think about it a president has to look at a variety of courses of action and as with most courses of action there are pluses and minuses. There are benefits and things that are disadvantages. President Bush sat down and made a judgment, for example, that he had the authority to do what he felt might be necessary with respect to Iraq without going to the Congress, but he made a judgment that going to the Congress was the right thing to do, and to engage them and have a national dialogue on these important issues.

He then made a conscious decision to accept the disadvantages in favor of taking the advantages of going to the United Nations and having a worldwide dialogue and debate.

Now in each case the debate's a little untidy and there are a lot of things said, but for the most part the important issues do get elevated and people do have a chance to think about them, talk about them, and develop convictions about them. And because we are in this new century and this new security environment, it seems to me that he made the right decision notwithstanding the fact that there are disadvantages to doing what he did. There are many more pluses, I would say.

Q: More pluses than on the minus side.

The sniper attacks that have recently been solved, we hope, and yet it still is a grim reminder that terrorism, as the President has been saying constantly, is on many fronts. People who are sympathetic with al Qaeda, people who are sponsored by the patron of terror, Saddam Hussein. This has been a reminder, hasn't it, that this continues to be a threat within our borders.

Rumsfeld: Absolutely. You think about our country. We want to be able to get up and go where we want, say what we want, think what we want, and have our children go off to school and know they'll come home. When you go out a door you don't look to the left and the right to see if someone's going to shoot you, if there's a hand grenade going to be thrown, and that's been our wonderful lives for so long with those two big oceans and friends on the north and the south.

We're now in a world where the speed of communication and transportation, a lot of the technologies that our country and the West have developed are now in the hands of people who don't wish us well and that makes it a much more difficult world for us.

We can live in that world, we just have to recognize what it's like and get ourselves arranged slightly differently and focus on putting pressure on those people all across the globe who are intent on killing innocent men, women and children.

Q: Mr. Secretary, I know how busy you are, you graciously agreed to take a call or two from our listeners who have been waiting a long time to speak with you.

Adam, you're on the Mike Gallagher Show with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Go ahead, Adam.

Adam: Hi Mike. I just wanted to tell Mr. Rumsfeld, first of all I'm on the Illinois Army National Guard, and I just wanted Mr. Rumsfeld to know what an honor it is to serve under him he truly represents what all the military people think, and I think in a time where it is easy to be scared, especially here in the reservists, I mean we have families, jobs, and things like that but you do represent everything that we believe.

Rumsfeld: Adam, thank you very much. Thank you for your service and thank your colleagues in the Guard. I used to be a weekend warrior after I got out of the Navy. I was a Navy pilot and flew out of Glenview, Illinois in the Reserves.

Q: Here's Dan on his cell phone for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the Mike Gallagher Show from the White House. Go ahead, Dan.

Dan: Hello, Mr. Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld: Greetings.

Dan: It's an honor to speak to you.

Rumsfeld: Thank you.

Dan: My question is regarding Iran. I feel that (inaudible) of Iran feel about their government about the same way that we do and if we go into Iraq, or if and when we go into Iraq, that will the Iranian government, do you feel, will fall into the hands (inaudible) and self-destruct by it's own people, or do we feel we'll send troops in there too?

Q: Sort of a ripple effect.

Rumsfeld: I think Iran is an interesting place in the sense that there's a very small clique of clerics that are controlling that country and the women and the young people don't agree with how it's being run. I suspect that during my lifetime we're going to see a change in that situation over there and that the young people and the women and the people who believe in freedom will overthrow that cleric government and it will fall in some way of its own weight.

Rumsfeld: Dan, I appreciate the call.

Mr. Secretary, in closing, Americans call me all the time and they say, and pardon me for using the nickname, "Rummy looks like he's having a good time up there." (Laughter) "We're in troubled times, we're in challenging times, but this man seems to really love what he does and love what he's doing for the country." Is that a good read, I mean despite all the challenges you face, are you having fun up here?

Rumsfeld: I don't know that fun is the word, but I love our country, and I love the men and women in uniform, and I like life, I like people. When I get up -- I get up at 5:00 in the morning, I go to work at 6:30 and I get home about 7:30 at night, work a couple of hours, and I don't feel put upon at all. I feel like I'm contributing, and I'm fortunate to be able to contribute.

Q: Well we're fortunate to have you, Mr. Secretary, and I'm so glad you could visit with us here. Thank you for the invitation here at the White House. I'll try to stop weeping all day long. Again, it's an honor to meet someone like you.

Rumsfeld: Thank you so much.

Q: Secretary Donald Rumsfeld joining us here on the Mike Gallagher Show as we continue from the White House.

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