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Radio Interview with Secretary Rumsfeld on The Monica Crowley Show

Presenter: Secretary Rumsfeld
July 08, 2006
  CROWLEY: Welcome, Mr. Secretary.  It's such a privilege to have you with us today.

 

            :  Well, thank you. I'm delighted to do it.

 

            CROWLEY:  It's great to have you here. 

 

            And I want to begin, Mr. Secretary, with the immediate situation in North Korea, which launched a number of missiles this week, and the North Koreans have indicated that there are more missiles to come.  Now, back in 1998, I know that you headed up a special commission that warned specifically that North Korea had made significant progress in building missiles that could pose a threat both to the United States and Japan and to other players in the region.  What is your sense, as you take a look at the developments this week, what is your sense of the magnitude of the threat that we face from North Korea right now eight years later?

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Well, we know that they are the -- that they have announced that they have nuclear weapons.  We know that they have ballistic missiles.  We do not at the moment know whether or not they have developed the ability to mate a nuclear weapon with a ballistic missile. 

 

            We also know that they are probably the world's leading proliferator of ballistic missile technology; that they counterfeit our money; that they are on the terrorist list; that they sell illicit drugs and one has to believe that they would be willing to sell fissile material if they believed they had a sufficient quantity.  So they represent an immediate threat from a proliferation standpoint.

 

            It's unclear -- they have not yet successfully launched a  intercontinental ballistic missile and demonstrated that they can reach the United States, although the intelligence people estimate that the TD-2 does have that capability.  They just haven't demonstrated it yet.  But they're a worrisome country.

 

            CROWLEY:  Well, Mr. Secretary, one of your predecessors, the former Secretary of Defense William Perry under President Clinton, recently suggested that we ought to take some preemptive action here, that we ought to think about perhaps blowing some of these long-range missiles right off their launching pads.  What do you think about that?

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Well, I read that article.  And Bill Perry's a thoughtful person, and clearly one can make that case.  President Bush has made a different case.  His view is -- first of all, there are no Taepodong-2s on launching pads at the present time.  The one they fired didn't work and it failed.  They do -- we do believe and they're assessed to have, oh, something like three or four or five additional Taepodong-2 airframes somewhere in their country.

 

            The president believes that the proper task -- approach is to work with the six nations -- the South Koreans, the Chinese, the Russians, the Japanese, the United States and the North Koreans -- and attempt to persuade them that they have options other than being bellicose.  Time will tell whether that'll work.

 

            CROWLEY:  We're talking with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

 

            Mr. Secretary, you mentioned that some of the six-party conversations that we're having here, but it looks like some of these old communists -- Russia and China -- they oppose sanctions on North Korea; they're just as resistant to tougher action on Iran.  It looks like the Cold War never really ended; that this is just a continuation of the great game.

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  (Laughs.)  Well, you know, when you see that, recently, in the last 48 hours, the fact that the Russians and the Chinese have indicated that they're not in favor of sanctions, I guess only time will tell.  I think their patience can run out as well, and we'll just have to see.  I know that President Bush has been talking to the leadership in those countries, and they may come around yet.

 

            CROWLEY:  Well, hope spring's eternal at the U.N. Security Council, Mr. Secretary.

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  (Laughs.)

 

            CROWLEY:  Let's turn to the situation in Iraq.  Can we get this situation there under control to the point where it's stablizable on the ground?

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Oh, I think so.  I think it'll take the Iraqi government and Iraqi security forces some time to finally squeeze out the insurgency, but they now have over 265,000 security forces.  They have a new government that's going to be in there for four years.  They've had increasingly -- increasing turnouts for their elections over the past year.  They've put together a good Cabinet, and they -- each time the terrorists and the insurgents have tried to stop them they've failed.  They failed to stop the elections, they failed to stop the constitution, and they failed to stop the formation of the new government.

 

            So I think they're on a path that can work, and we certainly want to be helpful to them and keep handing over responsibility to them as they increase their capability.

 

            CROWLEY:  Mr. Secretary, as you know, because I know you're very attuned to the political situation here in the United States, and it seems as if there is -- there's some increasing pressure to begin a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.  That, by in large, is contingent on how developed and how far along the Iraqi security forces are.  Can you comment on that?

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Yes, indeed.  Of course there were votes in the House and the Senate very recently, and they were overwhelmingly rejected when people proposed to set withdrawal dates and timelines and that type of thing. 

 

            The president's correct.  When the president says:  Look, if you set a withdrawal date, the only people it helps is the enemy -- they can just sit there and wait you out --

 

            CROWLEY:  Right.  That's right.

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  -- and I think that the Iraqi security forces are demonstrating increasing capability every month.  They are in the lead in a great many places.  We're turning over bases to them.  We're turning provinces to them.  And I have good confidence that over time they're going to be able to manage the security situation in the country sufficiently that we'll be -- we will be able to withdraw our forces and draw them down. But we want to do it based on conditions and based on success, rather than simply cutting and running. 

 

            CROWLEY:  We're talking to the secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld.  And Mr. Secretary, last week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case called Hamdan versus Rumsfeld -- which would be you, sir --

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  (Chuckles.)

 

            CROWLEY:  -- on detaining and trying terror suspects.  When you took a look at this opinion, how damaging was that ruling to our ability to fight a war against an enemy this shadowy and this adaptive?

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Well, that's the key question, and I guess time will tell.  There's a good deal of confusion about what the court actually said, and I think people are still trying to figure it out.  The -- our Justice Department is in the process of trying to come to some conclusions about it.

 

            The one thing we know they did say was that we can work with the Congress to fashion an approach that might very well fit the circumstance we're in. 

 

            I mean, this is not an army fighting an army under the laws of war.  This is a world that's confronted by terrorist networks that are -- don't wear uniforms, and they don't carry their weapons publicly, and they kill innocent men, women and children.  And their goal is to terrorize people and to alter free people's behavior. 

 

            And the idea that we need to treat them as though they're stealing hubcaps off the streets of our cities and then have a jury trial and then send them to jail for a month is certainly not going to work.  The people down in Guantanamo Bay are people that have been deeply involved in killing Americans and in threatening to kill people, and they're bad people.  This fellow Hamdan was a -- one of the drivers and associates of Osama bin Laden.

 

            CROWLEY:  That's right. 

 

            On this question of how much damage we're actually doing to ourselves here in our ability to fight this war, how damaging are these front-page disclosures of state secrets by The New York Times and other newspapers?

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Well, you know if you have an enemy that is vicious; is determined; that is uncompromising and is -- has demonstrated a willingness to kill tens of thousands of people -- clearly what you want to do is to find ways to learn what they're doing and prevent them from doing it before they kill additional thousands of Americans.

 

            To the extent they are then advised as to what it is we're doing to keep track of them, their lives are made easier.  I mean, our goal is to make their lives more difficult - to put pressure on them - to make it harder for everything they do; make it harder for them to move between countries; harder for them to raise money; harder for them to recruit people; harder for them to communicate with each other; harder for them to get weapons.  And to the extent people get up in the morning and decide they want to make it easier for them by telling them exactly how we put pressure on them that clearly advantages the enemy and the terrorists.

 

            CROWLEY:  We're talking to the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

 

            Mr. Secretary, on that point, how do we -- as an open society and a free society -- how do we fight and win a war in which the other side is driven by religious fanaticism?  I mean after all, we are up against a barbaric, ruthless enemy and sometimes I question whether or not we in the United States are prepared to be as ruthless as necessary in order to defeat them.

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Well, it clearly is going to take patience, and it's going to take persistence and perseverance.  If you think about it, fighting a big army, a big navy, a big air force is not a pleasant thing to have to do, but we're organized and trained and equipped to do that.

 

            Fighting against terrorists that operate in the shadows and use our technologies against us and have the great advantage of being up against a free society, where the very essence of our lives is that we do not want to be hiding in cellars and giving up our ability to go where we wish and say what we wish and do what we wish -- so they do have an advantage.

 

            On the other hand, we have an advantage.  And if you think about it, we persisted throughout the entire Cold War for 50 years, through successive administrations of both political parties, countries all across Europe, and we were able to stay the course and to recognize that that threat was there, and that it would prevail if we allowed it, but only if we allowed it.  There's no way we can lose this battle with the terrorists in Iraq or in Afghanistan.  The only place you could lose it, if you lost your will here in Washington, D.C.

 

            CROWLEY:  Amen to that.  Amen to that.  And you and I both worked for President Nixon and we understand the damage that that did to our side during the war in Vietnam.

 

            Mr. Secretary, final question for you.  I know you take a lot of hits.

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  (Laughs.)

 

            CROWLEY:  I know that -- and keep good humor about it, too.

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  (Laughs.)

 

            CROWLEY:  And I know that a lot of the policies you implement take a lot of hits.  How can the rest of us -- how can our fellow Americans -- be more helpful to you and to the U.S. military?

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Well, one of the things that people can do is to recognize that the -- you know, these folks are so professional and so dedicated, and they're doing such important work for us, for the people in this country, for our freedom, for our liberty.  And there -- we've put together a website called AmericaSupportsYou.mil where people can go on that website and find out what corporations or churches or schools or groups of people are doing to support the troops and to support their families.  And of course, we have to remember, their families also sacrifice, and God bless them for it.

 

            CROWLEY:  Absolutely.  And in fact, that link, AmericaSupportsYou.mil, is linked on my website, MonicaMemo.com, so you can go up there and get more information about it.

 

            Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for your time today, and thank you for your service to the country.

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Well, thank you, Monica.  I enjoyed visiting with you.  Thank you very much.

 

            CROWLEY:  As always.  Thank you, sir.

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Okey-doke.  Bye.