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Last Updated 5/20/05 (quotes)
Posted 9/23/07 (By Travis)
Off The Record With Don Dumsfeld
An long and interesting interview with Sec Rumsfeld.
Posted 11/12/06 (By Travis)
The Donald Rumsfeld I know Isn't the One You Know
11/12/06 Douglas J Feith
As you know, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has resigned. We've gotten a large upswing in hits to 'The Best of Donald Rumsfeld', and this piece will be added to it.
The Best of U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
First a brief background and then I'll divide his quotes Into three sections, Quotable Quotes (memorable one liners), Journalistic Rebuttals (my personal favorite - skewers media bias and corrects incorrect assumptions and premises in crisp no-nonsense way) and, Policy Statements (articulate statements that give insight).
Donald Rumsfeld was born in 1932 and grew up in a middle class background in Chicago. Patriotism ran in his family; at 38 years of age his father joined the navy to fight in WWII . Rumsfeld developed his strong work ethic young, becoming an eagle scout and attending Princeton University on an academic and ROTC scholarships. At Princeton he was captain of the Wrestling team. After graduating he served for three years as a pilot and flight instructor - and won the All Navy Wrestling Championship. For the next 20 years he remained in the Reserves as a drilling reservist, but eventually transferring to Standby Reserve for another 14 years before finally retiring.
In 1962, after a stint as a congressional aide and some work in investment banking, he was elected, at the tender age of 30, as a Republican member of the House of Representatives. He was re-elected in 1964, 1966, and 1968. In 1969 he resigned from Congress to join President's Nixon's cabinet. From 1969 to 1970, he served as Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity and Assistant to the President (welfare and social assistance). From 1971 to 1972, he was Counselor to the President and Director of the Economic Stabilization Program. From 1973-1974, to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels, Belgium. This may have been a stroke of luck as he was untainted by the Watergate scandal.
In August 1974 he was called back to Washington DC to serve as Chairman of the transition for Presidency of Gerald R. Ford. After a brief stint as Chief of Staff of the White House, he served from 1975-1977 as the 13th U.S. Secretary of Defense, the youngest in the country's history (and now the oldest).
When Jimmy Carter was elected Rumfeld returned to the private sector and, among other endeavors, served as CEO of a pharmaceutical and electronic company. He won awards for his work in turning several of these companies around.
During his business career, Mr. Rumsfeld continued his public service in a variety of Federal posts, including:
While in the private sector, Mr. Rumsfeld's civic activities included service as a member of the National Academy of Public Administration and a member of the boards of trustees of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and the National Park Foundation, and as Chairman of the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, Inc.
In 1977, Mr. Rumsfeld was awarded the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In 1988 he made a brief and unsuccessful run at the Presidency.
Other interesting facts: Rumseld is known for his habit of standing at his desk all day. He co-owns a New Mexico ranch with (liberal) CBS news anchor Dan Rather. He has a habit of talking with his hands and skillfully and bluntly handling the press.
The reason I am listing his background is because this context puts these quotes in the proper light. Especially when one compares his experience to that of the reporters asking him questions. Rumsfeld has the most impressive Resume of any individual in government. His experience and expertise is unmatched. He has influenced many of the most prominent Conservatives in government today - especially Dick Cheney, the influential Vice President.
VICE PRES. CHENEY: He was probably the toughest boss I ever had, but he probably taught me more than anybody I ever worked for. He was very demanding. He didnít have a lot of time to say thank you or good job. The reward for doing a job well was you got more work.
I have found that the most articulate expressions of policy and common sense have come Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. Which is why I enjoy quoting him so much :).
Quotable Quotes (memorable one liners)
We would be happy to capture them, we'd be happy to have them surrender, and if they don't, we'd be happy to kill them.
Well, the U.N. doesnít have forces.
I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing [by Guantanomo prisoners] limited to 4 hours?
I know in my heart and my brain that America ainít whatís wrong with the world.
There is nothing that some people don't think.
Youíre not asking the question that Iíve answered.
So why they would be actively proliferating and then complaining when the United States wants to defend itself against the, the fruit of those proliferation activities, it seems to me, is misplaced.
So the idea that you can assert a negative is a very difficult thing and I donít make a practice of it.
I'm hopeful that some will surrender. I suspect some won't, and I suspect the result of that will be that the opposition forces will kill them.
But I would guess if they're knowledgeable unnamed sources, it would very closely approximate what I just said.
I tend to be impatient, so thereís no question but that from time to time I help people understand the difference between good work and poor work.
Now, on the other hand, if secretaries of defense resigned every time someone did something they shouldnít do out of the millions of people involved in the defense establishment, or a mayor or a governor -- something happened in their country, you wouldnít have anyone in public office.
I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who once said that trying to transform the Army of the United States was like trying to empty the Potomac River with a teaspoon. It isn't easy.
We're not running out of targets. Afghanistan is.
I generally say roughly what I think.
I believe what I said yesterday. I don't know what I said, but I know what I think, and, well, I assume it's what I said.
You're reasonably correct as to what I said and I believe what I said is reasonably correct.
I would not say that the future is necessarily less predictable than
the past. I think the past was not predictable when it started.
We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama Bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead.
Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war.
The enemies of order and democracy and freedom and civil society and rule of law have brains, regrettably. And they use those brains and they adapt.
On the other hand if you consider it carefully, the enemy has a brain.
The implication that every
time something happens in the world, you should fire somebody is kind of a -- not a -- kind of a
mindless approach, it seems to me -- the implication of it.
Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know.
There's another way to phrase that and that is that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. It is basically saying the same thing in a different way. Simply because you do not have evidence that something does exist does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn't exist.
If I said yes, that would then suggest that that might be the only place where it might be done which would not be accurate, necessarily accurate. It might also not be inaccurate, but I'm disinclined to mislead anyone.
Itís unlikely that things will be perfectly predictable.
Heís [Zarqawi] a person that ought not to be out loose. Heís a killer, heís a terrorist, he is a person who is helping facilitate and train and finance people that kill innocent men, women and children. And thatís not a terribly civilized thing to do and an awful lot of folks in the world would like to see it stopped.
People do that, take credit. I mean, we constantly have people after an incident call up and say, "We did it! Look at us; aren't we wonderful? We killed a bunch of innocent men, women and children."
Congress, the press, and the
bureaucracy too often focus on how much money or effort is spent, rather than whether the money or
effort actually achieves the announced goal.
Beware when any idea is promoted
primarily because it is "bold, exciting, innovative, and new." There are many ideas that
are "bold, exciting, innovative and new," but also foolish.
If you try to please everybody, somebody's not going to like it.
If you try to please everybody, somebody's not going to like it.
General, there was no verb in the last sentence.
Treat each federal dollar as if it was hard earned; it was - by a taxpayer.
Learn to say "I don't know." If used when appropriate, it will be often.
Success tends to go not to the person who is error-free, because he also tends to be risk-averse.
The idea that because you can't do everything you shouldn't try to do anything is really not a very persuasive argument, it seems to me.
You're thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't. I think that's old Europe.
If I know the answer I'll tell you the answer, and if I don't, I'll just respond, cleverly.
With that I'll stop and answer questions. Respond to questions.
Journalistic Rebutals (my personal favorite - skewers media bias and corrects incorrect assumptions and premises in crisp no-nonsense way)
(Don't miss the Woodward, Mathews and Stephanopoulos series)
(These were all taken directly from the transcripts provided by the defense department. To find context simply put the phrase into google with " " around it and look for the defenselink.mil site. In a very few cases I have removed some wordy replies and grouped relevant quotes together from the same transcript. This was only done if the quotes were already close together and the context didn't change. Any italics are my own.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: How long will it take to get enough of those various security forces to secure the country internally? Our military analyst, Tony Cordesman, says itís going to take at least through 2006.
MR. RUMSFELD: Well, itís interesting to me that some people think they know that. Because itís not knowable.
Q: What about the -- [inaudible] for the public who -- you know, beyond the criticism from human rights organizations for using the cluster bombs, they're calling for a halt -- could you explain the tactical rationale for using them?
Rumsfeld: They are being used on front-line all Qaeda and Taliban troops to try to kill them, is why we're using them, to be perfectly blunt.
Q: Are you sticking around for a second tour of duty in this job?
Rumsfeld: This is my second tour of duty. (Laughter.)Q: Third. You know what I'm saying.
Q: Mr. Secretary, thereís also an article in the Guardian that says there is disagreement between the intelligence in the U.S. and Britain whereas in the U.S. they think that the remnants of the Saddam regime are responsible for the surge in operations while the British are feeling that more indigenous people are Ė and groups. Whatís your assessment?
Rumsfeld: Well, the remnants of the Baíathist regime are indigenous people so thereís obviously no conflict.
Q Mr. Secretary, can I ask you about your opening statement? You said that the challenge in Fallujah is being contained and that the situation in the south has largely stabilized. And I wonder, if that's the case, why then is it necessary to keep extra troops in Iraq for 90 days?SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, the reason it's contained is because we have the extra troops there. That's self-evident.
Q: Mr. Secretary, at the White House last night, a senior White House official after the
president spoke said that the decision to make the strike was made some time between 6:30 and 7:00
Eastern time. It's apparent that that decision to strike was not in line with what we have been led
to believe about the war plan. Was the intelligence you got fragile enough where you felt you had to
go at that moment and not start with, say, shock and awe or some other phase of the war?
A: "Well, Dick, calibrate me, but the first thing I'd say is I don't believe you have the war plan -- (laughter) -- a fact which does not make me unhappy. (Laughter)"
Q: Mr. Secretary, (inaudible) Iraqi security forces in (inaudible), why donít they (inaudible)?
Rumsfeld: Well, theyíve lost over 250 people killed in action, so the suggestion that theyíre not out providing security for the country of Iraq would be a misunderstanding of the situation.
SMITH: Mr. Secretary, sometimes, though, in a situation like this, don't these
commanders on the ground tell you the answer you want to hear?
RUMSFELD: No, you don't know these commanders. They don't do that at all. These are enormously confident, talented individuals who are speaking their mind every day.
RUMSFELD: Wait a second. I'd like to go back and say one comment about something you said. You suggested that the generals and the leadership in Iraq might be telling me the answer I want to hear. That suggested you know what I want to hear, and you don't.
What I want to hear is the truth. And I hope they're telling the truth, and I believe they're telling the truth. And if they're not, they're not serving the country very well, because I have no bias one way or the other. I'm perfectly willing to recommend to the president we increase the number of forces if, in fact, that is what is in the best interest of this country.
Secretary Rumsfeld, do you want the catch him dead or alive or either way?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, the president's policy is dead or alive. And, you know, I have my preference Ė [laughter, applause] -- but that's not a government position. That's a personal position.
Q What is that preference, sir?
SEC. RUMSFELD: [Laughs.] I'll just leave it to your imagination. [Laughter.]
Q: Mr. Secretary on the illusive Osama bin Laden, given the fact that the Paks are giving us much greater cooperation on their side of the border and (Inaudible.) the tribal areas, and the weather will begin to improve for a possible spring offensive or whatever you want to call it on the Afghan side of the border. Do you think there is reason for perhaps increased optimism that he might be caught? While not making a prediction --
Rumsfeld: Come on, Charlie. I'm not going to get into that. Increased optimism, slightly decreased pessimism. Look, he's at large. He's probably alive. He's probably in Afghanistan or Pakistan. And we're probably going to catch him or kill him. We'll know in time.The idea that there are gradations of closeness or gradations of probability I think is just, I just don't do it. I noticed that some other people do and that's their privilege. People in government do. And as I say, that's their privilege, but I just don't. The way I look at the world is you either have him or you don't have him. We don't. We'd like to but we don't. We will but we don't.
Q: Mr. Rumsfeld, some experts are saying the insurgency in Iraq could last 10 years or more. Is this possible, in your estimation?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Who are these experts?
Q: Itís all over CNNÖ
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, CNN -- come now.
Q: You hear, part of an effort to get the media to focus on the good that's going on
inside Iraq, but how can you do that when you yourself in that infamous memo said it's going to be
"a long hard slog" and you question whether we're winning the war on terrorism?
Rumsfeld: First of all, the memo was not infamous. It's simply a memo that I wrote. It's part of my job. It seems to me that's what the Secretary of Defense's task is, is to see that we're doing the best possible job we can do to protect the American people from foreign terrorists.
Q: Some people say that the current insurrection in Iraq is traceable to the closure of a newspaper a couple of weeks ago by Mr. Bremer. I'd like to get your thinking and reasoning about that event and what it may have contributed to the events of the last week and a half or so.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I love the beginning of that question, "some people think." There is nothing that some people don't think. (Laughter, applause.) The idea that the conflict and the flare-ups and the shootings and the killings that are taking place in Iraq today are a result of the closing of that paper, I think, is, A, a stretch, and B, undoubtedly not provable, and, I would submit, not only not provable, but not accurate.
Q: Mr. Secretary, going back to these attacks again, these increasing attacks, as you've pointed out a number of times the face of war has changed dramatically. These people will stop at nothing, these guerrillas will stop at nothing in killing innocent people.
Is this prompting your determination perhaps to use U.S. Special Forces around the world to go after these people?Rumsfeld: My determination didn't need strengthening.
Q: [Inaudible] Do you still have confidence in the general in charge down there,
Rumsfeld: I'll let you know when I don't, but I do. It's General Miller and he's done an excellent job of improving the circumstance with respect to the interrogation process. He's managed his assignments well. What is actually taking place there we'll know more about later. But clearly your second question to respond in any way other than I did would require someone to pre-judge something that I just explained in answer to your first question was underway and it would be inappropriate to do that.
Q: Why is it that you still have confidence in the commander there? Why have you not
relieved him of duty?
Rumsfeld: I don't know how else I could -- how I could be clearer. What they are doing is reviewing the procedures to determine are there ways that we can do this in a better way. That's what we always do. We -- you learn from experience and you have lessons learned. The implication that every time something happens in the world, you should fire somebody is kind of a -- not a -- kind of a mindless approach, it seems to me -- the implication of it.
Q I'm asking for a purpose, sir. When you were at the afternoon soiree of General Myers and you
asked for a secure phone, was that to call the president back to tell him that you pretty well knew
that it was Saddam? (Laughter.) And how did you keep the secret from all of us?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Very skillfully, I mean -- (laughter).
Le Sumier: Weíll come to that a little later. But you declared victory on May 1st
President Bush did. What --
Rumsfeld: What he said was not victory. He said that, on May 1st he said that major combat operations had been concluded. He was correct. Other people characterized that as claiming victory. We said all along that it would take time.
Rumsfeld:We'll take one last question and I will decide who it is. It's you.
Q: What can you tell us about the attack on General Abizaid's convoy today?
Rumsfeld: Nothing. I've been in the hearing for three hours.
Q: Sir, do you think that --
Rumsfeld: No, no, no. You had your question.
Q Laurent Zecchini from Le Monde: Secretary of Defense, you have asked NATO
countries to provide more troops in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Till now their response has been very
poor. What does that mean? Does that mean, for instance, as one U.S. official said recently, that
NATO is in an excellent shape and that NATO has fully recovered from the Iraqi crisis?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Let me just take your question and try to correct it. And it may not be easy, but -- you began by saying the response has been very poor. You're wrong. The response has been excellent. The secretary of State and the head of the Central Command last year began the process of working with other countries, NATO as well as others, went out to something in excess of 100 countries, I believe. And at the present time we have 32 countries in Iraq. Of the NATO nations -- there are 19 NATO nations, excluding the United States, there's 18, and we have 11 of those countries currently in Iraq, and an additional one announced this week that they intended to offer troops. That would be 12 out of 18. That is not a poor response. Of the NATO invitees, six of seven are currently in Iraq. So all of this myth about poor response and going it alone is simply that: a myth.
Q What are your expectations for the donors' conference? I mean, why this bit of optimism that the Gulf states are going to come through?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I haven't expressed any optimism. Have I? Or pessimism, either one. Have I?
Q There were some unnamed officials in The New York Times today who were --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Ohhh, those folks again! (Laughter.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Ahhh, they're busy little beavers! (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: I did that once [said DC has a higher murder rate then Baghdad], and I was advised that it wasnít the best idea. But there are hundreds of homicides in most major cities in the world without getting particular.
Q: Do you want to bring troops home from Europe and Asia?
SEC. RUMSFELD: First of all, I donít want to bring troops home from Europe and Asia. I want to have our troops wherever they ought to be in the world Ė that it is the most cost effective for the American people, that it is the most hospitable for the troops, that offers our country the greatest flexibility, agility and lethality and where the deterrent will be the strongest. That is my goal. I do not get up and say, ďGee, I want to bring troops home.Ē
Q: But doesnít the report indicate that there are military intelligence officers, 27 of them involved here and civilian contractors and of course, some of these abuses happened under interrogation circumstances?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Thatís not the report of the Schlesinger Panel. In fact, itís exactly the opposite of what the Schlesinger Panel says.
Rumsfeld: You just said he has told others, and of course you don't know that.
Others are saying they were told by him and I think more -- (Inaudible.).
Q: Lots of others are saying, and they're all saying the same thing. And as I say--
Rumsfeld: Is that right?
Q: -- we expect to hear from Aristide himself sometime shortly.
Q: Now, Iím sure youíve been told of what South Korea has in mind in sending the new group of troops. Is there a regional --
Rumsfeld: Well what do you think the nature of the troops are?
Q: Well, President Roh has said, Iím sure, non-combatants, rehabilitation.
Rumsfeld: Well, Iím going to wait until there is a public announcement. Itís not clear to me that thatís what he said, is it? I havenít seen that in the press. Maybe he has.
Q: Well, you just came back from the talks at the Blue House with President Roh Mo Hyun, didnít you? Didnít he mention?Rumsfeld: I donít talk about what he tells me privately. And, Iím not going to answer a question that presumes that you know what he said to me. Iím going to let the government of Korea make their own announcements as to what they feel they want to say, when they want to say something.
Q Mr. Secretary, what about the critics who are out there saying that the
administration is putting a happy face on the war on terrorism publicly, but privately this memo
indicates that things are not so happy, that, in fact, you --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Those that are attentive here in this room know that that's not what we've done here. What we have done is we've put out a very straightforward, accurate, to the best of our ability, and balanced view of what we see happening and what we believe to be the case. And there's been no mystery about the fact that this is -- from the very beginning we've said that this global war on terror is a tough one, it's going to take a long time, it's going to take the cooperation of a lot of countries, it's going to take all elements of national power. These were things that have been said and repeated consistently for 2- 1/2 years.
Q: And why can you do this better than the U.N?
Rumsfeld: Well, the U.N. doesnít have forces. The U.N., obviously, if one looks at their record and what they do, they donít do what weíre doing. Weíve got 130,000 troops there, weíve got another 20 plus from 32 other nations, weíve got another 70,000 Iraqis who are engaged in this process and we have to see that we transfer security responsibility to the Iraqis at a pace thatís appropriate as rapidly as possible.
Hume: Mr. Secretary, General Wesley Clark suggested this week with regard to that
memo that you wrote asking all the questions, that you had to leak it yourself, and that you did
leak it. What do you say?
Rumsfeld: That's just nonsense. I didn't leak that memo. That's insulting.
Hume: He said that he heard about it through the gossip and on the Sunday talk shows. Shouldn't we believe that?
Rumsfeld: Listen, if people start getting their information from that, we're all in trouble.
Q Could we get a clarification on a pretty serious implication that you slipped into
one of our answers earlier? It was in response to Martha's question about the missiles. And you said
that Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah are often there to videotape these terrorists conducting these
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't know if I said "often," but certainly they are there from time to time.
Q Do you think these -- (inaudible) -- coalition forces?
SEC. RUMSFELD: -- and I'm not in a position to make a final judgment on it, as I've indicated earlier.
And I didn't just slip that in there, I STUCK it in there! (Laughter.)
Q Mr. Secretary, I wonder if I could get your thinking, please, on the tactic of targeted killing,
given what happened in Afghanistan in the last several days ago. There are reports that there are
plans to do the same now in Iraq, acting on intelligence concerning the whereabouts of midlevel
anti-coalition leaders, special units having been formed to do this. I'm wondering if you can
comment on that, as well as the report that Israeli experts are helping to train this force and will
actually help advise this force.
SEC. RUMSFELD: But the phrase -- to use the phrase "targeted killing" I think is a misunderstanding of the fact that we're in a war where, obviously, the people who don't surrender, who are terrorists trying to kill innocent Iraqis and coalition forces, are people we want to stop. We would be happy to capture them, we'd be happy to have them surrender, and if they don't, we'd be happy to kill them. And that's what's going on. But the implication or the connotation of "targeted killing" I think is unfortunate because it suggests an appetite to do that, which is not the case. The goal is to stop terrorists from killing innocent men, women and children, Iraqis, and coalition forces. It seems like a perfectly logical thing to me.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you listed a number of accomplishments that are occurring in Iraq. Every day on
the mainstream press and television, electronic media, all we hear about are the problems, the
blunders, the difficulties. How is your department going to be able to get more information out
about the positive things that are happening so when we talk with our constituents and the people in
our state, we're able to say we are actually making progress?
Rumsfeld: Well, I guess, you know, when you live in a free system, the press is going to decide what's news. And if they decide bad news is news and good news isn't news, there's not a whole lot we can do about it except to try to get more and more people knowledgeable. So we've been working very hard to do that.
Al Jazeera: If I understand, some people say you are targeting Iraq because it is the weakest side of the axis of evil, and that you want to cover your failures in Afghanistan, you still have unfinished job.
Rumsfeld: The failures of Afghanistan. Did you see the people when the coalition forces and the Northern Alliance and the forces on the ground liberated Kabul? They were singing, they were flying kites, they were happy.
Two million refugees have come back into that country. Is that a failure? People are voting with their feet. Individual people. Neither you or I will ever meet them, but they're making a conscious decision to go back to Afghanistan because they know of certain knowledge that it's better there today than it was before. That is not a failure. That is an enormous success.There are no longer al Qaeda training camps in that country. They are no longer flying airplanes into U.S. buildings from that country, with people trained from that country. The people have picked a transitional government. It's their government. There are men and women going to school. There are people out driving cars. There's humanitarian assistance being provided. They're training an Afghan National Army. This is no failure. This is a success.
Q: Mr. Secretary, I wonder -- the European Union has announced that its members combined would be prepared to contribute about $234 million to Iraqi reconstruction. That's peanuts compared to what the United States is contributing and to the need as assessed by the World Bank. And I just wondered, are you -- are you disappointed in that, surprised by it, and what does it say about the possibilities at the donors conference?Rumsfeld: I'm not disappointed and I'm not surprised, and I think it says very little about the future. I'm not involved in the fundraising, particularly. Dr. Zakheim does a good deal of assisting Treasury and State, which are the lead agencies in this. I've heard people characterize that as a(n) EU willingness to step up to the plate. And I don't call 200-plus million dollars chicken feed, as you do, but maybe you come from somewhere other than Chicago.
Quirk: Given that, were you disturbed, or whatís your reaction to Lt. Gen. Sanchezís comments that was on the wire yesterday regarding his comments that it could be years now for coalition forces in Iraq and that he, at some point, could see another a major conflagration in that country and in the region involving U.S. forces. Is that a personal opinion from the man on the ground, or is that a policy statement that came from the top?
Rumsfeld: Iíve met with Sanchez and talked to him on the phone and Iíve never heard him say anything like that.
Quirk: He was quoted in a wire story to that affect that --
Rumsfeld: Doesnít make it so. (Laughter) I just donít know.
Quirk: You donít know?
Rumsfeld: Iíve never heard him say anything like that.
Quirk: It was in direct contradiction to Deputy Wolfowitz, for example, who said the end of next of year. Is that a viable timetable?Rumsfeld: Iím sure thatís a misunderstanding and a miscommunication. I talk to him regularly and Iíve never heard him say anything like that.
Q: How do you expect the American people to vibrate to the positive spin that you're trying to put on this and the President's trying to put on this when Americans are being killed, there are attacks each and every day, and this latest attack at the Al Rashid, they penetrated a defense area, a secure defense area.
How can the American people see it your way when these things are happening every day and Americans are being killed?
Rumsfeld: First of all, I'm not putting a positive spin on it. I just have said that this is a tough business, it's a dangerous business, it's always a tragedy when Americans get killed or Iraqis get killed, and it's a war, a low intensity conflict that's taking place. So your suggesting that that's a rosy picture I think is a misunderstanding of the situation.Second, I would say you asked about the American people. My experience with the American people over 71 years of my lifetime is that they've got a pretty good center of gravity. They are thoughtful, and they weigh things and they listen and they make judgments, and they tend not to rush to judgment simply because people say things that may or may not be true.
Q: What about the charge that [inaudible] you're losing ground in Washington regarding Congress and the White House. That you're less in the loop than you used to be regarding Iraq.
Rumsfeld: I am?
Q: Yes.Rumsfeld: Oh, come on. The President's in charge of this thing.
Q I have a non-Saddam Hussein question. Both Germany and France today said that they would relieve -- be in favor of relieving some of Iraq's debt. They told this to Secretary Baker. Given that, as a former businessman, might it be prudent now to revisit the Pentagon's decision of December 4th to exclude France, Germany, et cetera, from the list of prime contract candidates for the reconstruction?
SEC. RUMSFELD: First of all, the Pentagon -- that was not a Pentagon decision, that was a decision that was fully agreed upon throughout all the agencies, all the relevant agencies of the United States government. And any suggestion to the contrary would be in error.
Second, the decision was not to deny anyone contracts. The decision was to preserve for those people who made the Iraqi people's liberation possible the access to prime contracts -- prime, as opposed to subcontracts. And that's an important distinction. No one got up in the morning and said, "Gee, who could we deny a contract?" The implication of that has got everything backwards. What they decided was that here are people who took political courage, who took physical courage -- 63 countries -- and assisted in this coalition, and isn't it a reasonable thing that they ought to have an opportunity to bid and participate in that process?
The other thing we were very interested in also is that it be companies and countries that will hire Iraqis. We think it's terribly important that the contracts that are let have some -- to some degree will put to work the Iraqi people so that the efforts all of us are making to have a success in that country will be more likely.
Q Yeah, but --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Furthermore, we're not talking about the dollars that come from Iraqi oil, we're not talking about the dollars that come from international contributions, we're not talking about the dollars that come from the U.N. oil-for-food process, we are talking about the dollars that the taxpayers of the United States of America will be contributing to the economic future and success of that country. And we've always had a policy of deciding how our tax dollars would be spent, just like every other country decides how they're going to spend their money when they spend it.
Q You were saying that showing the pictures of Saddam Hussein definitely didn't violate the Geneva Convention. That seems to me to be a real contrast with what happened in Afghanistan, when news photographers were not allowed to shoot photos at all of detainees. Why is that not -- (off mike)?
SEC. RUMSFELD: We don't have, as a practice, photos now of detainees. What we have here is what I said earlier. You have a very unusual situation. You have a person who was one of the most brutal dictators in the adult lifetime of anyone in this room, who tortured people, who killed people, hundreds of thousands of people he killed, and intimidated the entire nation and the neighbors; and it is enormously important that people see that he is out of commission, that he is what he is. He was a fugitive, living in a dirt hole, surrendering, and controlling that country no more forever.
Q If that's not a violation, can we now photograph detainees when we have the opportunity?
SEC. RUMSFELD: No. No. I mean, a common detainee, why would one want to do that? Why would one want to -- this --
Q (Off mike) -- interest in the conditions in which they're kept.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, come on, now. The International Committee of the Red Cross is crawling around down there, people from all those countries. There's no issue about how those people are being treated. They're being treated very, very well by fine young men and women who went to the high schools that you went to. And any implication to the contrary would be false.
Le Sumier: Still today you have those 680 enemy combatants. Thatís quite a burden. There are some issues with putting them into a judicial process and stuff. How did you explain you canít find a solution to treat their case, whereas, for instance, Roosevelt had managed to properly judge the Nazi leaders in Nuremberg?
Rumsfeld: You need to refresh your history.
Le Sumier: I would be delighted to.
Rumsfeld: If you go back in history youíll find that most countries engaged in a war captured people and kept them off the street so that they could not go back and kill again. They didnít start trying people. Nuremberg was in what year?
Le Sumier: í46?
Rumsfeld: Yeah. The war had been over for a year before trials had occurred. More, two years in the case of Europe probably. The task, if a person steals a car in France or the United States, the task is to find them, arrest them, and then punish them. And the purpose of punishment is to dissuade people from stealing cars or robbing banks or killing people, whatever it is. Your purpose is not to interrogate them and find out who their co-conspirators were.
But when you scoop up an enemy combatant and you have a prisoner of war or an enemy, whatís the phrase, EPW, enemy prisoner of war, or a detainee, depending on which circumstance theyíre captured in, the purpose is not to punish them immediately.
Le Sumier: To keep them off the street.
Rumsfeld: The purpose is to keep them off the street. Which is why we had thousands of German prisoners here in the United States, and Japanese prisoners in various places, and why folks in Europe had during every war. The idea that this is something new is, itís only new to some people who donít have a memory about whatís going on.
Why is that? There are two reasons. One is to keep them off the street if theyíre a determined terrorist. The other is to interrogate them and find out whatís going on, who their friends are, who trained them, where are they getting their money, who re the likely people to do something terrible again, where are they likely to do it?
process of doing that is whatís been going on. Itís not to punish them, and theyíre
treated very well.
Le Sumier: Do you still wrestle?Rumsfeld: No, I donít.
Q: Jamie McIntyre from CNN. A year ago you came here and you met a lot of resistance from U.S.-European allies who believed that the UN inspections in Iraq were working and they should be given more time and you argued against that. Now you come back a year later, the U.S. having not found the weapons in Iraq that it believed were there -- not found them yet -- do you come back with any more sympathy for the European viewpoint that you experienced when you came here a year ago?
Rumsfeld: The way you phrased the question is unfortunate. [Laughter] And had I been in your shoes I would have phrased it much differently and probably much better. [Laughter]
Q: Do anything you want, sir.Rumsfeld: Indeed. You keep referring to a European viewpoint. Let's face it, there are 17 out of the 26 NATO and inviteesí countries that have forces in Iraq. A year ago there were a relatively few countries, not a European view, but a relatively few countries that were expressing the views that you cited.
Q Is it a doable thing to accomplish that before January?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, time will tell. We'll all know soon enough. You folks report the news. You don't report the future, do you?
Q I'm trying to get your sense of the future, sir.
Q Mr. Secretary -- (off mike) -- discussions with the allies had reached the point of direct talks now. On that point, in regards to Okinawa and the base at Futenma, in the event that that base is closed, what kind of alternative bases are you thinking about?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't want to get into speculation about closing bases. I just won't do it.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I will not do it. I WILL NOT do it.
Q Regardless of closing that base, then, can you confirm reports that the U.S. -- and that there's talks going on yesterday and today with the Japanese delegation. Has there been a proposal for another base to be opened on Shimoji Island?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm not going to get into the discussions. I happen not to know the answer to that question, but even if I did know I would not get into it. It seems to me we've got wonderful friends and allies around the world. These things are complicated. By discussing them prematurely, particularly inaccurately, and it has to be -- the odds are 90-to-1 that any speculation on this is inaccurate because we don't know where it's going to end up. What it does is it raises people's hopes in some places and dashes people's hopes in the other place, and it just jerks everyone around and it's not helpful. Why not just report the news that's happening instead of the news that is never going to happen? It's not hard.
Q Mr. Secretary, can you clarify a point I think you made on the bases?
Q Mr. Secretary?SEC. RUMSFELD: But then I wouldn't want to tell you your business.
MR. LEHRER: All right. Hereís another one. Secretary Ė
SEC. RUMSFELD: You really like this stuff. Youíve fallen in love with this, Jim.
MR. LEHRER: No -
MR. LEHRER No, Iíve just read his book [Richard Clarke's].SEC. RUMSFELD: I haven't.
[Tape] "He [Rumsfeld] did not recall any particular counterterrorism issue that engaged his attention before 9/11 other than the development of the Predator unmanned aircraft system for possible use against bin Laden. He said the DOD," the Department of Defense, "before 9/11 was not organized or trained adequately to deal with asymmetric threats."
Mr. Wallace: Mr. Secretary, it sure sounds like fighting terrorism was not a top priority.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, Chris, if you look at how our government is organized historically, the Department of Justice has the responsibility for law enforcement in the United States. The Department of Defense is, in fact, by law, under the posse comitatus law, prohibited from the engaging in frontline law enforcement, police-type activities.
MR. WALLACE: But the terrorists were based overseas.SEC. RUMSFELD: The terrorists were in the United States. They used a U.S. airplane, and they attacked a U.S. target, and those are things that are outside the purview of the Department of Defense.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I mean, if you're looking for the president to have said his heartbreak over what took place, he said it. He said it well. And he's touched the lives of many of the people who are suffering from that terrible attack.
I think one of the things that has to come out of
this, I hope, is that a truth, and the truth is these attacks aren't over, there will be other
attacks. And a terrorist can attack any time, any place, using any technique, and there's no
way that that can be prevented, there's no way you can defend against every attack, every minute,
every day, against every conceivable type. If people are determined to kill innocent men,
women and children, they can do it. That's why what's being done is the right thing to do.
You have to go after the terrorists, and the haven for terrorists where they are, because it's not
possible for a defender to defend against every attack.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: That all may be true, but even President Bush...SEC. RUMSFELD: What do you mean, may be true, it is true. It's a fact.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I do not believe that there's any evidence, or any suggestion that President Musharraf was involved, and I have no knowledge that would permit me to support the allegations that you cited in your interview with Musharraf.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Or any high level military officials?SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm not going to say that. Listen, you can't prove a negative. You can't say that I know that every person connected with the Pakistani military over some sustained period of time had no knowledge or participation whatsoever. That's silly, I couldn't do that. But if you're asking me, do I think Musharraf either now or when he was head of the military was engaged with that, I don't believe it. And I have no reason, and see no evidence to suggest it.
Q: Mr. Secretary (inaudible) violence (inaudible) this week. (Inaudible) of the Israeli decision to assassinate Ahmed Yassin? Any concerns that of that conflict entering into Iraq? And whatís your take on if Ayman al-Zawahiri still alive and (inaudible)?
Rumsfeld: You know, I know there are things I donít know and some of those things youíve been asking me about, I know I donít know. I think the idea that we can attribute an act of violence in one country to some act in another country is a bit of a stretch. I just donít know what the interaction is. I know people try to connect things like that, but Iím just not in the position to Ö
Q: Mr. Secretary, given the international terrorism seem, if anything, to be on the increase. Itís certainly just as rampant in the last couple of years. And given that coalition forces are being attacked and are being killed almost on a daily basis in Iraq, do you look back at all and ever harbor any doubts about the way that this administration has handled the events of the last couple of years?
Rumsfeld: Well, one always is constantly looking for lessons learned and how one might do something better. I think the thrust of the question ignores the biggest single reality that exists and that is that the United States was going about its business on September 11th in 2001 and it was attacked and 3,000 Americans were killed. Now, people from other countries were killed -- men and women and children, people from all walks of life, people from different faiths. They were killed. The United States had done nothing.
And the thrust of your question is, oh, well, if you had done something different, maybe something else would have changed. This country was attacked. It was the worst attack in the history of our nation. And youíve got a choice at that point. You can say, well, maybe if we donít do anything about that, maybe theyíll go away. Maybe those terrible people will not do it again. Well, what nonsense, theyíd already done Ė attacked the U.S.S. Cole. They had already attacked Khobar Towers. They had already attacked the United States Ė terrorists had an airliner and PanAm flight.
And throughout history, there have been people who follow that philosophy who said, gee, maybe if I just turn my head, they wonít hurt me. Maybe theyíll hurt somebody else, instead of me and thatís a good thing, they think. Well, itís not a good thing. These people are going around systematically trying to kill innocent people all across the globe and they ought not to be allowed to do it. And any suggestion that if you go after them, because they are doing it you, in fact, would be better off, if you hadnít done that is utter nonsense.
Q: I wasnít suggesting, Mr. Secretary, you should have done nothing. I was asking whether you thought you should have done things different?
Rumsfeld: And I answered it my way and you asked it your way.
Q Does that mean you will capture Zarqawi in this instance, or you're hoping to?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I have no idea if he's there.
Q Have you -- since it's begun, have you captured any of the terrorists that --
SEC. RUMSFELD: It just started. My goodness. Isn't that a little premature?
Q Mr. Secretary, there's an estimate that there may be as many as 100,000 Fallujah civilians still inside the city. If there were a large number of civilian casualties, is there a chance you could win the battle of Fallujah and lose the larger war of Iraqi public opinion and feed the insurgent propaganda machine?
SEC. RUMSFELD: There's no reason to get into hypothetical questions like that. There's nobody who knows how many people there are in there. And the U.S. forces -- I can speak for them, not for the Iraqi forces -- but the U.S. forces are disciplined, they are well led, they're well trained. They are using precision, and they have rules of engagement that are appropriate to an urban environment. And there aren't going to be large numbers of civilians killed, certainly not by U.S. forces. So why would I want to walk down that road?
Q If I could follow up, Monday General Abizaid chastised Al- Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah for their coverage of Fallujah and saying that hundreds of civilians were being killed. Is there an estimate on how many civilians have been killed in that fighting? And can you definitively say that hundreds of women and children and innocent civilians have not been killed?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I can definitively say that what Al-Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.
Q Do you have a civilian casualty count?SEC. RUMSFELD: Of course not, we're not in the city. But you know what our forces do; they don't go around killing hundreds of civilians. That's just outrageous nonsense! It's disgraceful what that station is doing.
Rumsfeld: Okay, a couple of things before we start. I am not great with dates or times and I don't have a lot of notes that can be helpful. The last time we met you asserted things, saying, ďYou did this or you said that,Ē as though you knew what I did, and you were wrong a lot.
Woodward: I apologize for that. It was based on NSC notes and what other people said.
Rumsfeld: Other people, exactly. And your assumption is, if somebody says that to you, that it is correct. Therefore you assert it to me. That causes me a lot of problems, because then I have to stop and say, ďNo, that's not right.Ē Almost everything you asked me was premised with an assertion that was either incomplete or wrong, and it changed the whole nature of it. You'd be better off with me if you asked those questions about the premises in the question you want to ask.
Woodward: My overall goal in this, because I have good relationship with President Bush and he wants me to do this, I think, as you know.
Rumsfeld: A couple of other things, I tend to ask a lot of questions of the people I work with and I tend to give very few orders. This place is so big and so complicated and there's so much that I don't know, that I probe and probe and probe and push and ask, ďWell, why wasn't this done?Ē or ďShouldn't this be done?Ē but it's generally with a question mark at the end.
Woodward: I've found that in my research.
Rumsfeld: I've read a lot of stuff about me that doesn't sound that way and I think you ought to have that fact in your head.
Woodward: But start with Iraq, you told him. Get that out first. That's what he said.
Rumsfeld: Maybe I did.
Woodward: And then there was a Commander's estimate request, sent down to him, December 1st, which he was going to -
Rumsfeld: See, I can't validate these things.
Woodward: That's what -
Rumsfeld: So don't do that to me.
Woodward: Okay. I'm sorry.Rumsfeld: You tell me he said that. If I sit here and don't say anything, don't think that makes it right.
MATTHEWS: Mr. Secretary, let me ask you about the war in Iraq and the boldest question I could put to you here in the Pentagon. Did you ever advise the president to go to war?
RUMSFELD: Well, Chris, I saw some clipping of your interviews on this subject. When you asked that question of Woodward, Woodward said that the president said he had not asked me, now Ė so why would you ask me? You have it from the horseís mouth.
MATTHEWS: Because Ė well, thatís right, in that circumstance in that room, but all those months in the run up to war I would imagine that at some point sitting in the interstices of the West Wing he would have said, hey Don, do you think we ought to go? I mean, is there any Ė werenít you ever asked your advice?
RUMSFELD: I donít know who he might have asked their advice.
MATTHEWS: Well, apparently he asked the vice president.
RUMSFELD: Possibly. I just donít know that. I havenít read the Ė all these Ė
MATTHEWS: He didnít ask his father. We know that.
RUMSFELD: Is that right?
MATTHEWS: Well, thatís all I go by Ė these books ĖRUMSFELD: You ought to get a life. You could do something besides read those books. (Laughter.)
MATTHEWS: You know, we were over at Walter Reed a couple weeks ago and Iíll tell you, thereís nothing like it Ė to meet those young guys.
RUMSFELD: You donít need to tell me. I go over there frequently.
MATTHEWS: Theyíre gung-ho. Theyíre gung-ho guys, and the ones that lost like a limb Ė theyíre going to make, you know Ė
RUMSFELD: Theyíre fabulous.
MR. MATTHEWS: What do you make of the New York Times poll today? And I know polls arenít everything. Fifty-eight percent of people say itís not worth the loss of life Ė this war in Iraq.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I didnít read the poll.
MATTHEWS: Itís spiked up, you know. Is this the bad news thatís done this? What do you think has done it?
RUMSFELD: Well, I suppose itís the most recent three weeks of casualties that have been taken in Iraq that might have affected the polls. I donít know. I donít follow the polls. The president doesnít follow the polls.
MATTHEWS: Colin Powell has called this a second government. In fact, heís called Feithís operation a Gestapo Ė
RUMSFELD: You donít know that.
MATTHEWS: Well, this is what Bob Woodward has reported in his book.
RUMSFELD: Iím correct when I said you donít know that. Iíve talked to Colin about it and I think that you ought to ask Colin what he Ė
MATTHEWS: He has said on the record Ė I can only get what heís said on the record. We havenít gotten to him yet. But he has said thatís something he doesnít recall saying, so then thatís his cover Ė
RUMSFELD: And why would you say he said it?
MATTHEWS: Because he says he doesnít recall saying it.
RUMSFELD: No, but why would you say he said it?
MATTHEWS: Because if he didnít say it, he would have said I didnít say that.
RUMSFELD: I see. Is that the code in Washington, DC? Is that the insider code?
MATTHEWS: That would be Ė that would be Ė I would think that would be Ė that (wouldnít ?) be what I would call a clear-cut denial, Mr. Secretary. So would you. That would be a clear-cut denial. Let me move on here because Ė itís just Ė
RUMSFELD: Listen, the Ė any thought that thatís a second government is utter nonsense.
MATTHEWS: Separate government. There isnít a separate Ė
RUMSFELD: Itís nonsense.
MATTHEWS: And thereís no traffic in intel from the Iraqi National Congress pushing Ė intel that would support the connection between al Qaeda and Iraq didnít find its way through these various Ė these people working here in the Defense Department to the vice Ė
RUMSFELD: This is the conspiratorial view of the world.
MATTHEWS: No, itís just Ė this is in the New York Times yesterday front page.
RUMSFELD: Does that make it so?
MATTHEWS: If you had to make a quick reaction Ė If I said the name Ahmed Chalaby and I said, reliable? Unreliable? What would be your answer?
RUMSFELD: Oh, look, Iím not going to start criticizing members of the Iraqi governing council.
MATTHEWS: But heís an employee of yours.
RUMSFELD: Heís not an employee at all.
MATTHEWS: You give $350 (thousand) a month from the Defense Department.
RUMSFELD: Come on. He Ė under the law passed by Congress, heís Ė his organization, the INC, receives funds to do a variety of things. The employee Ė thatís unbelievable, Chris. You know better than that.
MATTHEWS: No, I just think that people in the world who hear that heís making this kind of money from us would question his independence. Wouldnít you?
MATTHEWS: Suppose we cut him off?
RUMSFELD: Youíre an employee. You get paid. Do I question your independence?
MATTHEWS: No, but I work for NBC News. At least I know Ė you know who I get paid by.
RUMSFELD: Youíre perfectly capable of leaving.
MATTHEWS: I know. Okay. All right. That's a good point. He could drop us right now.
SECRETARY DONALD RUMSFELD: I am waiting for the - Iím waiting for the results of the inspection and the assessments and the studies to make a judgment as to whether or not it was an aberration. And - and other people are saying that and other people are saying itís systemic. And Iím saying I donít know. Thatís why we have all these people doing all these things is to try to find out. And I keep getting misquoted over and over and over again about the Geneva Convention. About that, about every - and I think itís useful given the - the, volatility and the energy thatís in this debate. I think itís very useful for you folks to try your damnedest to be precise and donít repeat things that are inaccurate if you can possibly avoid it. And when you see things that are inaccurate knock them down because thereís a bucket of it floating around.
Q: Would it be safe to assume that the United States will not be using some of its forces in South Korea for operations in Iraq?
Rumsfeld: Well, thatís a question that, I think, is unanswerable. We rotate people all the time. Iím sure there will be somebody here, that served in Korea, who will end up serving in Iraq or Afghanistan or Okinawa.
Q: So, that possibility has not been ruled out, though?
Rumsfeld: Youíre not asking the question that Iíve answered. Youíre talking about forces in Korea serving in Iraq. And our forces rotate in and out of Korea all the time. And, they are going to rotate in and out of Iraq all the time. And, I donít doubt for a minute that somebody that has served in Korea will end up serving in Iraq.
Q: But, pulling out a certain division? That still means, people rotate. Is that what you mean?
CNN: Any comment for us on the Istanbul Bombings?
Sec Rumsfeld: Good morning. Theyíre still pulling together information on it, and I think Iíd prefer to uh, to wait until thereís harder information
CNN: Turkey was already reluctant to participate in the coalition; do you think this will change things further?Sec Rumsfeld: I said I would rather, first of all, I donít even know that what youíre saying is correct. Indeed itís not correct. The premise of your question is inaccurate.
Q: Mr. Secretary, the
Bush administration has repeatedly stated it does not want a draft, but there are repeated claims
that there are plans in the works to draft certain specialties like doctors, language specialists
and computer experts. Do you need and, sir, would you support some sort of selective military
Absolutely not. This is a mischievous political effort thatís being made to frighten young
men and women. The truth is we do not need a draft. Weíre not going to have a draft.
There is a law that exists on the books passed by Congress that requires that there be a selective
service system and that it requires that they make assessments from time to time about various skill
sets. But there is not a draft. There will not be a draft. I was one of the first
people that opposed the draft back in the 1960s when I recommended we move to an all-volunteer
service when I was a congressman from the state of Illinois and introduced legislation to achieve
what we finally achieved in 1969 and 1970. Weíve got 295 million people in this country.
We have 1.4 million on active duty and another 865,000 in the Guard and Reserve. And it is not
a problem at all attracting and retaining the people we need to serve in the armed forces.
Every one of them is a volunteer.
I just looked at the
recruiting numbers here. The Army and the Navy are at 100 percent of their targets in goal;
the Marine Corps is at 100 percent and the Air Force is at 101 percent. So the idea that we
need a draft is false and mischievous and, in my view, nothing better than a scare technique.
Q: So, sir, you would
not even support a selective draft of, say, doctors, which is what came up today in The New York
SEC. RUMSFELD: Look,
go back and read that article carefully and then check it for facts. Youíll find we do not
have a draft. We do not intend to have a draft. There is no intention to draft doctors
or dentists or veterinarians or anything else I can think ofÖ
Q: Mr. SecretaryÖ
Q: Back to Iraq, sir, there have been estimates, as you know, the U.S. troops will be required to remain in-country for up to 10 years before that country is able to stand on its own. Whatís your best guess of the length of time our active duty component will need to remain in Iraq?
SEC. RUMSFELD: You know, you say ďthere have been estimates.Ē Who in the world estimated 10 years? I donít remember hearing that myself, but do you know, offhand?
Q: Itís been bandied about. Itís been one of the numbers thatís been floated on the campaign trail and by others like that, saying up to 10 years may be a possibility. I take it, by your response, that youíre saying far less than that?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Itís probably the same people who were talking about a draft. (see 'The Draft Myth')
SEC. RUMSFELD: Question from this side. Jamie?
Q Mr. Secretary, we're hearing today about a Pentagon assessment which suggests the insurgency in Iraq might be bigger and better funded than thought in the past. I'm curious if you still think that you're facing a few dead-enders, as you've called them, in Iraq, or is this beginning to look more like a quagmire?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I meant to call on Bob. (Laughter.)
Oh, Jamie. I would -- well, it's not allowed to bet in -- but I would guess that you couldn't find any quote of me saying "a few dead-enders."
It is true that I included among the various categories of opponents of the Iraqi Governing Council and the interim Iraq government and the coalition forces dead-enders. That is true. And there are dead-enders. But I doubt that I said "a few." If I did, I'd love to see where.
So I would submit that the thrust of your question was not only imprecise but inaccurate, the idea that anyone is suggesting this is easy or that there are just a few problems or people. We've said repeatedly that it is tough and complicated and that there are a variety of different elements opposing the Iraqi government and the coalition.
And as you know well, they include a variety of categories, including foreign terrorists -- relatively small number compared to the total, but probably among the most lethal-- criminals, people who do things for money -- some -- a relatively larger number of foreign regime elements and, quote, "dead enders," people who have it in their mind that they have a chance to take back that country for a vicious dictatorship.
Couple that with people like the -- oh, the Sadr people, who have been engaged in various unhelpful activities during an earlier period --throw into the mix the harm that's being done by a couple of neighbors, Iran and Syriaóand you have what we've characterized as an insurgency by a group of extremists who are determined to prevent that from becoming a free country. Now, Jamie, you can call that a quagmire if you'd like to, but it's at your option. That word was used in Afghanistan after a relatively short period, as I recall, by a few of you folks.
Q You summarize the insurgency -- in a report from this building, officials, unnamed officials, are saying that the insurgency is growing, both in intensity and numbers and funding. You characterize -- what's your assessment -- your latest assessment on the insurgency? Also, do you think --
SEC. RUMSFELD: This business of unnamed officials is wonderful. You could -- in an institution this big, with a million-four active- duty military personnel, 800,000 or whatever it is civilians, another 865,000 Reservists and another 400,000 individual ready Reservists, you can imagine -- you could get officials in this building saying almost anything you would want, almost any day of the week.
I haven't seen these -- this article about unnamed sources talking about it. But I would guess if they're knowledgeable unnamed sources, it would very closely approximate what I just said.
Q Mr. Secretary, could we ask that you would come down and see us more than every couple of months, sir, in the future? Seriously. It seems like you're
SEC. RUMSFELD: Charlie, I enjoy coming down and seeing you. (Laughter.)
Q Well, could you do it more often?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I think so. You know, we really did want to have -- after sovereignty was passed, we really did want to have the Iraqi government step up and talk about Iraq, and that's been a good thing. And I -- therefore, we calmed down the U.S. presence in terms of public affairs in Iraq, as you'll recall, and we did here.
The second thing is the president asked Colin and me not to be involved in the campaign, and every single question would have been about the campaign. There wouldn't have been any way in the world to not become enmeshed in the campaign. I would have dearly loved to come down here during that period. (Laughter.) There are a few things I would have liked to have said. (Laughter.) But -- and --
Q Anything you want to get off your chest -- (laughter) --
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, if you could comment on reports that private US and Israeli security firms are hiring Nicaraguans and Guatemalans to work as snipers in Iraq. My question is, is this part of a larger, new US strategy to outsource private military recruitment in the third world as the coalition of the willing becomes unglued?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: That's really a pistol of a question. You buried several inaccuracies in there. First of all, the coalition is not coming unglued. We have a large number of countries that have been participating. NATO is now participating. The United Nations has been helping and I'm sure there are people who would like to see it come unglued, including the extremists and the terrorists and the former regime elements, the Baathists. But it's not coming unglued, it's doing fine. Second, with respect to the thrust of your question, I've never heard of that and know nothing of it.
Q: All four announced today. Have youíve submitted your resignation? Are you Ė do you plan on or can [Inaudible]?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I have not discussed that with the president and I think Iíd prefer to discuss that with him before I do with you Charlie. And I think Iíve answered that same questionÖ
Q: I understand.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Ö previously, almost exactly the same way. And one would have thought that it would have penetrated.
DONNELLY: The Financial Times today editorializes that it is, quote, "time to consider Iraq withdrawal," close quote, noting the protracted war is not winnable and it's creating more terrorists than enemies of the West. What is your response, this questioner asks.
RUMSFELD: Who put that question in? He ought to get a life. If he's got time to read that kind of stuff -- (laughter) -- he ought to get a life. (Scattered applause.)
RUMSFELD: The extremists are determined to destroy states. They are determined to destroy free systems. They are determined to take their violence and spread it across this globe, and we can't let them do it. And The Financial Times is wrong. (Applause.)
QUESTION: If I may follow up, have you any comment about the new assertions in the book by Seymour Hirsch about how high up and when the administration knew about abuses of prisoners.
RUMSFELD: No, Iím not aware of it. I know that when he wrote a couple of articles for some magazine that we put a team of about 4 or 5 people tried to find if anyone could find any scrap of truth in anything that he had written and we were unable to do so.
QUESTION: Are you saying the book is false?
RUMSFELD: I havenít seen the book. You just heard me answer the question. I have not seen the book. Iím not aware of these allegations. Iím saying thatóyou should listen very carefullyówhen there was an article, I think, in the New Yorker that he wrote we had a team of people go out and see if they could find any proof in it. We were unable to validate anything in that article. But I have not seen the book, maybe somebody else has.
SEC. RUMSFELD: What does it cost?
Q Well, sir, for my instance, my situation, for instance, I have two kids. I have one that's two years old and I have another one that's 10 months, and I pay $300 a month for one child and only 10 percent off the next one. So that's like almost $700-something a month.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah, that is a good slug. I have no idea. I should know, but I don't know. I think -- I can't -- I have trouble believing that it is a federally imposed regulation.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Yes.
SEC. RUMSFELD: It is?
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Yes.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Talk about micro-management. (Laughter, applause.) What does someone in Washington knew -- know about what the fair rate ought to be for day care on a single post? (Cheers, applause.) Unless, of course, it was the Congress, in which case, in their ultimate wisdom, I'm sure they were right. (Laughter.)
Q: Not to belay with the point but it sounds from your respond there that you had
not been briefed about this prior to Dr. Riceís briefing of the Times in memo.
Rumsfeld: Thatís true.
Q: Okay. Did you talk to the President about this beforehand?
Rumsfeld: Have I talked to him about it?
Q: Did it come as a surprise to you then?
Rumsfeld: No thatís what the NSCís charter is. Itís just kind ofĖ the only thing unusual about it is the attention and I kind of wish theyíd just released the memorandum.
Q: But if they are already working for one year in debate you said Ė told us why then is it necessary to make a memorandum?
Rumsfeld: I donít know.
Rumsfeld: I donít know you have to ask them, I donít know.
Q: Whatís your perception?
Rumsfeld: Iíve already responded to that.
Q: Itís not clear why?
Rumsfeld: Pardon me?
Q: Itís not quite clear to me why?
Rumsfeld: I said I donít know. Isnít that clear? You donít understand English? I was not there for the back grounding.
Q: But one might think you talk about it with Condoleezza and with others in the National Security Council when youíre sitting together, the 5 or 6 of you.
Rumsfeld: Yeah, we talk about everything.
Q: And she doesnít announce Iím writing a memo by the way, to you?
Rumsfeld: I happened not to know that she was going to write a memo but thatís true everyday that someone on the NSC writes a memorandum or someone in one of the principal departments. I mean I write memorandums all the time that people donít know Iím writing until they receive it. I think that youíre looking for something thatís not there.
Q: Mr. Secretary, [inaudible] a couple of Members of Congress said that [inaudible]. How do you handle [inaudible]?
Rumsfeld: I don't think about it a lot to be honest with you. It's that season I guess. What else?
Q: Congressman [Inaudible] indicated some concern about the emails Ė about the $20 miliion that had been supposedly parked at the Special Operations Command?
Rumsfeld: He answered that in the hearing.
Q: Could you address whether the congressmanís concern was that maybe something was trying to be hidden from Congress?
Rumsfeld: He answered that in the hearing. He did it brilliantly. Do you want to -- Were you in the hearing
Rumsfeld: Then why do you ask the same question? [Laughter]
Q: [Inaudible]Rumsfeld: He's the one that knows about it.
Q: Itís getting closer to the election and some democrats are talking about [Inaudible] national security [Inaudible] and you have one democrat saying that General Shinseki was fired for saying that number of forces needed in Iraq was higher than what the Administration was predicting at that time. Could you clarify what happened with that?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Sure. Iíll have a go at it and then Gen. Myers might want to. First of all, he was never fired. And the newspapers that repeat that month after month after month are wrong, in accurate, unreliable, irresponsible, I can think of a few more adjectives Ė egregious. Yeah. But itís a myth. He was never fired. He served out his full term. Fact number one. Second, my recollection is that he was a before a committee. He was pressed over and over again, ďWell, how many troops do you think itíll take if you did go to Iraq, or for the postwar part of Iraq.Ē And I think he finally said something in defense that, ďWell, it might take the same number it would take to defeat Iraq.Ē And they said, ďWell, how many is that?Ē And he said, ďWell, maybe several hundred thousand.Ē Well, several hundred thousand is 3[00,000] or 4[00,000] hundred thousand.
Gen. Myers who is the chairman of the chiefs, he is the individual who met with the chiefs and reviewed what numbers were needed. And the numbers that were provided were the numbers that were asked for by the combatant commander. There is no mystery about it. Nobody turned them down. Nobody said it should be a smaller number. And the people who were running around the world saying that simply are wrong, and theyíve told theyíre wrong and it is amazes me why they would keep saying it?
Arab Journalist: While weíll talking about Iraq, in this region weíre hearing
that there is a sort of a ďdealĒ between Saddam Hussein and coalition forces in which he was
Rumsfeld: Thatís just ridiculous. That is absolutely ridiculous. The United States doesnít do secret deals with people like Saddam Hussein, and I canít imagine anyone who could be so confused that they would even think such a ridiculous conspiratorial theory. Itís nonsense.
Arab Journalist: One of the things the Coalition has done is to change the regime,
then replace the regime with another regime which is more democratic, a new system in Iraq, a new
life in Iraq, but still there is no new government. There is not been much progress in this regard.
Many are talking about this in this region.
Rumsfeld: Thatís fascinating. Six weeks ago Saddam Hussein was in charge of Iraq. Six weeks later, heís not. And you say lots of people are talking and saying, ďWell, why isnít there a new Iraqi government?Ē The idea that in six weeks the Coalition could go in, take over from Saddam Hussein, put his regime out of business, and expect that you could have a new government in six weeks is so unrealistic itís just impossible to believe that people are really saying what you just said people are saying. I canít even believe that. Nobody is so unrealistic to think that. It takes a long time for people to fashion a new government. Youíve also phrased it that the United States is going to put in place an Iraqi government. Thatís not true. Weíre not. Weíre going to create a secure environment; weíre going to provide humanitarian assistance for the people of Iraq, medicine, food, water. And weíre going to create an environment that they can fashion a new government. It will be an Iraqi government that has been fashioned by Iraqi people and it will not be a government that is imposed by the United States.
Arab Journalist: You might have heard this in the Arab world, the Americans
ďprotected Ministry of Oil ministry because theyíre looking for the Iraqi oil, and they
disregarded the rest of the ministries and institutions.Ē
Rumsfeld: Well, first of all you used the word the Arab world as though there is a single opinion. I find that thatís not the case. Iíve spent a good deal of time in this part of the world, in many countries and with many different people over three decades, and I donít find there is a single unified deal on issues like that, so I would challenge the premise in your question.
Arab Journalist: Thank you very much, Mr. Rumsfeld, secretary of Defense. I wish I
had plenty of time as I have plenty of questions, but we donít have time. Thank you very much for
being with us and we hope that you have a last statement as you travel to Iraq tomorrow, and is it
to end the operation in Iraq?
Rumsfeld: Is it to end the operation in Iraq?
Arab Journalist: Yes, we heard, declaration of ending Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Rumsfeld: No, you certainly hear a lot of things that are unusual. I donít know quite how that happens, but we feel a responsibility and the coalition forces do, that if a regime is taken out and there are humanitarian needs in that country, and there are still pockets of resistance, there are still people getting killed and wounded --American and Coalition forces -- by some of these so called death squads that have been roaming around the countryside, the kinds of people who had their headquarters in hospitals and schools, the kinds of people who used the Red Crescent for military purposes and hid under the guise of humanitarian assistance, and thatís the kind of people they were and they are. And what we need to do is to see that we create a sufficiently secure environment there, for a period of time, so that the Iraqi people can fashion themselves the future. And thatís whatís going to happen. Weíre going to move from a phase of major military activity to a phase of security stabilization, and to assist and participate in reconstruction and humanitarian assistance. Weíre going to stay there, as long as it takes, for that opportunity for the Iraqi people to fashion a new government and weíre not going to stay one day longer.
Q: Mr. Secretary, unfinished business, letís look at Iraq, were you and the combatant commanders surprised at the level of resistance after the major fighting ended or were you blindsided?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I donít know that Iíd use either word. Anyone who Ė once the decision was made by the president to invade Iraq and remove the regime, you know that predictability just isnít what happens. Itís unlikely that things will be perfectly predictable. Certainly, the intelligence we received did not lay out the kind of a postwar environment that weíd be in. On the other hand, I donít know that anyone expected that you would get perfect predictability. And so what weíre dealing with today is something thatís evolving and changing on the ground. It is a tough situation and our folks out there are doing a superb job.
Schieffer: Let me ask you about a criticism that's been leveled by the Military Officer's Association of America, that's 300,000 retired and active duty officers, who say that your plan to increase the size of the Army by the policy they call stop loss is simply a back door way to reinstitute the draft. They say that when you decided to increase the force levels up to, I think, 30,000, I may not be exactly right on that figure, instead of doing that by recruiting more people, what you're doing is telling people who are already in the service that they're going to have to stay an extra amount of time, maybe as much as 16 months. And what they say, this is their criticism, is this is the most unfair kind of draft, because what you're doing is drafting people who have already served the country. What is your response to that?
Rumsfeld: Well, obviously they're not well informed. First of all, the..
Schieffer: They've listed it as one of their top legislative priorities is to get this changed this year.
Rumsfeld: The fact is, they're not well informed. The plan for the Army is not my plan for the Army, it's the Army's plan for the Army. General Schoomaker and Les Brownlee have put it forward, they've testified on it. And we have been increasing the size of the Army for close to two years. We have emergency power to do that, we've been doing that. The suggestions that the Army should be increased in size are basically coming from people who haven't been watching what's been taking place. It's been growing, and it is still growing, and it will grow more in the period ahead, under General Schoomaker's plan.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I hope to take a walk down there if I can. I always enjoy it. And Iím going to have dinner with a Belgian friend. I hope. I hope. Unless something else comes up. I never know.
What was your reaction to the meetings?
OFF: Kind of dull, butÖ
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Dull? If there isnít war or something, youíre not happy? Is that it? It has not been dull. It has not been dull. Itís been interesting. Those countries around that table are engaged in defense reform, theyíre engaged in looking at Europe and trying to figure out how they connect with Europe and theyíre wrestling with governmental reform. Theyíre wrestling with economic reform. It is an enormously exciting time for those countries. And for Europe, larger Europe. Dull would be the last word in the world that I would pick for whatís happening in terms of the energy and the interest and the difficulty of whatís taking place. It is really an important set of experiences that they are all going through. First time weíve had a non-military minister of defense of Ukraine here. Ukraine makes this enormous decision (inaudible). There are big things happening. This isnít like watching hair grow.
JOURNALIST: Was that a bald joke, Mr. Secretary?SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Youíd have a hell of a time.
Q Mr. Secretary, have you seen or heard about this tape that was given to a French
journalist in Iraq, that purportedly shows the shooting of the DHL plane last weekend, although you
don't actually see that, but you see people, about 10 men with shoulder-fired missiles.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm not knowledgeable about that.
Q You're not aware of that at all?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I didn't say that. I said I'm not knowledgeable about it. Someone mentioned that it existed, but -- so I'm aware of it.
Q Can you talk at all about what that says about the organization?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I can't, except it doesn't take a genius to fire off a -- shoulder-fire a missile at an airplane.
Q But the idea that they want to get a tape out there. What does that tell you?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, that point. I mean, they do that type of thing. People do that, take credit. I mean, we constantly have people after an incident call up and say, "We did it! Look at us; aren't we wonderful? We killed a bunch of innocent men, women and children."
Q On Iraq, given the fact that the U.S. military still has substantial security responsibilities, what do you now say to the American business community -- given the level of violence, given the concern about the recent beheadings of course, what do you say to American contractor companies about how comfortable they should feel about sending their employees to -- their civilians to serve in Iraq between now and the elections?
SEC. RUMSFELD: First of all, we talk about Iraq as though it's a homogeneous, cohesive whole. And the fact is, just as in the United States or any other country, things are different; there are different circumstances in different parts of that country. And second -- therefore, the answer to the question is some places are -- as the prime minister indicated -- quite accessible to people; other places are more difficult. And we know that.
Second, we don't give advice to businesses. I mean, I was in business, and business people know how to make risk assessments. They do it all the time. They do it with respect to their employees. They do it with respect to their management techniques. They do it with respect to investments. And they know how to do this.
Q Well, if there was --
SEC. RUMSFELD: And they get insurance. They do all kinds of things.
Q But, of course, the U.S. government gives a lot of advice to American business and civilians.
SEC. RUMSFELD: The Department of Defense does not.
Q: Numbers that aren't classified and that maybe you guys have been a little less accurate on are the actual costs of Iraqi reconstruction. And just five or six months ago --Rumsfeld: Who are "you guys," and what are the inaccuracies?
Q: USAID administrator, yeah -- 1.7 billion --Rumsfeld: Right. But he is administrator of AID, and he has to know that the total cost, to use your phrase, of reconstruction in Iraq is not 1.7, and I just can't believe he said that.
Rumsfeld: Any implication -- first of all, we were criticized for not knowing -- not giving answers because we didn't know the answer. Everyone I've seen who gives answers have been wrong. Repeatedly during the war, the questions came from you: How many casualties will there be? How much will the war cost? How long will it take? Every single time we answered: We can't say that. And everyone in this country who stood at these podiums and answered those questions, have been flat wrong. And frequently they have been wrong fast. And it's -- there are so many variables involved that people with good judgment don't try to say, "I'm smart enough to take all those variables and make an appropriate estimate and come out with a single-plan answer." So I haven't done that. So when you say "you guys", I don't buy it.
Press: Mr. Secretary, why shouldn't there be a public discussion or decision about withdrawing troops from Iraq in the next six to nine months?
Rumsfeld: There is a public discussion. Who said we shouldn't?
Press: Well do you think that it should be more, do you think other people should be allowed to kind of give their opinion and kind of follow through with it?
Rumsfeld: Everybody is giving their opinion. It's a free country. We have a wonderful country. We have senators and congressmen and people saying things, writing columns, everyone's got a different opinion. If anyone looks at history, they will know that setting an arbitrary timetable based on the calendar is not a very prudent thing to do because you end up being demonstrated to have been unwise.
Press: Why shouldn't there be a public discussion and/or decision about withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq in the next six to nine months?
Rumsfeld: There is a public discussion. The question is whether it's wise or not. The President's opined that it's not wise. Some have suggested it is. History suggests it's not. The idea of setting an arbitrary timetable when circumstances on the ground vary and depend on other conditions and other variables history suggests is not a smart thing to do.
Press: On Iran, Mr. Secretary, do you think they are sincere about giving up their nuclear program?
Rumsfeld: I haven't heard a word out of any Iranians suggesting they want to give them up so I don't know how you could say are they sincere.
Press: They halted their nuclear program activities.
Rumsfeld: I don't know how to answer that. The President's spoken on this, Condi Rice has spoken. That's enough for me.
Q Yes. More specifically, you use the 136,000 number, and you yourself acknowledged that there's been a dispute -- some members of Congress claim that number's much lower. But today --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Fact's are facts.
Q Right. But the --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I mean, anyone can say anything they want, but facts are facts. And this is what -- I spent an hour this morning with Petraeus going every -- over every one of these numbers, and General Casey.
Q But this morning before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Joint Chief Chairman General Myers said that Lieutenant General Petraeus has about 136,000. There are some 40,000 who are considered deployable, totally combat-capable, to -- according to General Myers, could go anywhere and do anything. And then, Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz said that there is, in fact, among the armed forces a 40 percent absentee rate. So it would seem to me that -- well, let me ask you --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Sure.
Q -- don't you think that that -- using that 136,000 number consistently, wouldn't that be a little misleading as to the capabilities of those forces?
SEC. RUMSFELD: A number does not give you capability. It gives you numbers. I said that in my opening comments here. And it can't be misleading, because I've just said exactly what you've just said.
Press: And on the other hand, are you concerned you're [because of the Iraq war] pushing the Iranians and Syrians together?
RUMSFELD: The question the way you stated it implied that the Iranians and Syrians have not been connected for decades, which would be incorrect. They have been connected. Iran is a terrorist state; Syria is a terrorist state. The Iranians have been working with the Syrians and sending down weapons for the Hezbollah through Damascus into Beirut, Lebanon and into the Bekaa Valley for years after years after years. So there's nothing new in terms of that relationship.
Press: On Iran, Mr. Secretary, do you think they are sincere about giving up their nuclear program?
Rumsfeld: I haven't heard a word out of any Iranians suggesting they want to give them up so I don't know how you could say are they sincere.
Press: They halted their nuclear program activities.
Rumsfeld: I don't know how to answer that.
QUESTION: Secretary, when you mention that the countries are helpful and others are not helpful, in your recent visit to Argentina and Brazil, what was the reaction to, when you raised the issue of Venezuela and U.S. concerns, that Chavez may try to destabilize the region? Did you find them helpful or neutral or unhelpful?
RUMSFELD: I didn't raise that issue in the way you phrased it, so the discussion didn't happen that way.
QUESTION: Okay. Mr. Secretary, here in Brazil people felt sorry that you're silent about Brazil's intention to get a permanent seat on the Security Council. Why didn't you comment on that during your trip?
RUMSFELD: I'll tell you, it's a very simple answer. I'm the Secretary of Defense of the United States, not the President of the United States and not the Secretary of State of the United States. And the President and the Secretary of State are in the process of discussing the subject of the United Nations and various reforms that might be considered prospectively, and they discuss those things with other countries.
It struck me that given the fact that those discussions are taking place around the world that it would be not a good place for me to intervene with my personal opinion since I don't have any statutory responsibility in that area whatsoever. So I would say it would be a misunderstanding were people to feel disappointed because my silence didn't reflect anything other than a lack of jurisdiction.
QUESTION: I see. Very wise.
Question: It seems that that question comes up every NATO meeting. Whether NATO is becoming irrelevant, they can't meet up with their promises. What has been promised?
Rumsfeld: It comes up from where? The press?
Question: Well from you. You've mentioned it numerous times. Paper armiesÖ.
Rumsfeld: No, I havenít. Iíve never used that phrase.
Question: Lord Robertson used it and you agreed with it.
Rumsfeld: Did I?
Rumsfeld: You know, I've learned that I've got to go back and check you when you all -- not you personally, but you plural Ė when you all quote me somehow. I find you have been you quoting me imperfectly. That's a euphemism.
Press: From what you saw today and what you heard today, do you think that it may be any more possible to draw down U.S. forces sooner than had been hoped?
Rumsfeld: We never told you what had been hoped.
Press: [inaudible]. [Laughter].
Rumsfeld: I guess you could answer that question, yes and have it mean absolutely nothing, right?
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me show you something that Seymour Hersh wrote in The New Yorker a couple of weeks ago. He reported that thereís a group in the Pentagon that believes a limited military strike would be useful because it would cause the regime to topple. And he went on to quote a government consultant who said: ďThe minute the aura of invincibility which the Mullahs enjoy is shattered, and with it the ability to hoodwink the West, the Iranian regime will collapse. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz share that belief, he said.Ē Is that true.
MR. RUMSFELD: Thatís fiction.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Fiction? Completely untrue?
MR. RUMSFELD: Well, itís an -- first of all, itís an unidentified consultant, not somebody Ė
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, thatís why Iím asking you if itís true.
MR. RUMSFELD: Not somebody from inside the Department. How in the world would anyone know whether Wolfowitz or Rumsfeldís views were on this? I say what my views are all the time.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, presumably theyíve talked to you.
MR. RUMSFELD: Itís factually untrue that we talked to anyone and said anything like that. At least for myself.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me turn you then to another subject. Are you confident that al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have not obtained nuclear weapons or other nuclear materials?
MR. RUMSFELD: I have no information that they have.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: But are you confident that they havenít?
MR. RUMSFELD: How could you be? How can prove a negative? If thereís anything we know itís that our intelligence is imperfect, that itís very difficult to know things that people get up every morning and try to keep you from knowing.
MR. RUMSFELD: So the idea that you can assert a negative is a very difficult thing and I donít make a practice of it.
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Joe Biden says 40,000 is not an honest number, that it's more like 4,000 truly trained Iraqi forces that can take on the insurgents. Is he right?
SEC. RUMSFELD: He's wrong, obviously. I mean, General Petraeus put this out very clearly in a press briefing and laid it out.
Q Now, why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles and why don't we have those resources readily available to us?
SEC. RUMSFELD: As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time. And if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. And you can have an up-armored humvee and it can be blown up.
MR. RUSSERT: Now, Specialist Wilson did acknowledge he worked with a journalist in crafting that question.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah, but wait a minute. Let me get into this a little bit.
MR. RUSSERT: Sure.
SEC. RUMSFELD: That [Video Shown] was unfair and it was selectively taking out two sentences from a long exchange -- there it is -- that took place. And when you suggested that that's how I answered that question, that is factually wrong. That is not how I answered that question.
MR. RUSSERT: But, Mr. Secretary, it clearly represents the exchange between --
SEC. RUMSFELD: It does not.
MR. RUSSERT: All right, what is missing?
SEC. RUMSFELD: You want to hear the exchange? There is it. It's right here. I'll read it to you. If you're going to quote pieces of it, I'll give you the exchange. He asked that question, and I said, "I talked to the general coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they're not needed, to places where they are needed. I'm told they are being -- the Army is -- I think it's something like 400 a month are being done now. And it's essentially a matter of physics. It's not a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army's desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it. As you know, you go to the war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.
"Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce armor necessary at a rate that they believe -- it's a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously but a rate that they believe is the rate that can be accomplished. I can assure you that General Schoomaker and the leadership of the Army and certainly General Whitcomb are sensitive to the fact that not every vehicle has the degree of armor that would be desirable to have, but that they're working at it at a good clip. It's interesting. I've talked a great deal about this with a team of people who've been working hard at the Pentagon. And if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and the tank could still be blown up. And you can have an up-armored humvee and it can be blown up. And you can go down and the vehicle -- the goal we have is to have many of those vehicles as is humanly possible with the appropriate level of armor available for the troops. And that's what the Army's been working on. And, General Whitcomb, is there anything you want to add?" And then he spoke.
Now, that answer is totally different from picking out two lines. And I think it's an unfair representative -- and it's exactly what some of the newspapers around the country did.
Now, let's go back to Susan Collins' comment, Senator Collins --
MR. RUSSERT: Well, let me just finish on the humvees because --
SEC. RUMSFELD: You bet. I'll tell you right now where we are. By February 15th, nine days from now, there will not be a vehicle moving around in Iraq outside of a protected compound with American soldiers in it that does not have an appropriate level of armor.
MR. RUSSERT: Which is a pretty dramatic change, because Newsweek had said that of the 19,000 humvees in the Iraqi theater, according to the Army's latest numbers, only a quarter were fully armored. So the fact is that Specialist Wilson's question in front of his troops in which he was cheered was helpful in getting people to truly focus and respond to this. Fair?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I didn't criticize his question. I thanked him for his question.
MR. RUSSERT: No, but is that a fair statement?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, you saw my answer. We'd already been focusing on it -- hard. I mean, I answered it by saying we had teams of people in Washington working on it, General Whitcomb was working on it.
Q Mr. Secretary, several of your generals have been talking about --
SEC. RUMSFELD: "Our generals," not "my generals" -- our generals
Q Well, our generals, America's generals have been talking about -- you're obviously optimistic about the trend lines in Iraq. They've been talking --
SEC. RUMSFELD: They have not. I haven't seen a single general who has said that "I am optimistic."
Q: Good morning. The Argentine newspapers yesterday published protests on the part of the Argentineans with regard to the information that the United States is going to begin monitoring Argentine airspace as a preventive measure to avoid trafficking and terrorist movement. I would like to know Mr. Secretary, have you spoken to any Brazilian or [inaudible] views to the Vice President or President of the Republic about the possibility of carrying out this type of control of Brazilian border areas and other border areas in Latin America; Colombia, Bolivia and other countries? Do you have any intentions to monitor our airspace and our borders? What would be these borders if you do have this intention and what type of control would you exercise in this case?
Rumsfeld: You donít believe everything you read in the newspaper do you? She didnít have her earpiece in. Iíll repeat that. You donít believe everything you read in the newspaper do you?
Rumsfeld: What did she say? I know nothing of what youíre talking about. Roger, do you? Iíve not seen the article. Insofar as, if you correctly and fully characterize the article, then I can say that it is inaccurate. Because had there been anything like that, I would have heard something of it, and Iíve never heard of anything like that. So, you can disabuse yourself of that concern.
And no, weíve had no discussions of that type here either.
So, thatís one question down.
Alencar: If you would allow me to, I would like to recall here a passage in 1770, 1780 when President Thomas Jefferson stated that not always when you read newspapers are you well informed.
Q But is it a Rumsfeld doctrine, if you will, that where these people are, the United States will now go after them with Special Forces or whatever means to seek them out and destroy them or capture them?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Obviously not. Rumsfeld doesn't have doctrines of that type, you know that, Ivan. My goodness gracious, a senior official like you, a responsible journalist, a person who's accredited not just to the Pentagon but the White House, I would have expected -- (laughter) -- well, I won't even say it.
Second, to say that I've resisted increasing the size of the Army is factually incorrect. We've increased the size of the Army. We've been doing it under the emergency authority. The Congress -- some of the people in the Congress have wanted to increase the end strength by statute. And we don't need that done because under the emergency authority we can increase it and we have already increased it by tens of thousands -- 20,000.
MR. RUSSERT: There was a large debate at the Pentagon. General Shinseki -- we've talked about this before -- others saying we needed 200,000 troops on the ground.
SEC. RUMSFELD: That's a separate issue from the size of the Army -- quite different.
MR. RUSSERT: Exactly. But there were also comments made that you were going to transform the Army and have a light, more mobile force and not have as many additional members of the armed forces as some were suggesting.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Not true. Not true.
MR. RUSSERT: At all?
SEC. RUMSFELD: No. We -- the size of the Army is quite a different thing from whether it's light and agile and mobile and able to go someplace fast. That's the nature of the Army, not the size of the Army.
Q On your recent appearances on Fox News and ABC Sunday morning shows, you said -- I'll quote you directly, if you don't recall them. But you were asked about one of your -- perhaps things you want to have back from the war. You said that Turkey's refusal to let the 4th ID go --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I didn't say it that way.
Q Let me -- let me quote you directly, then.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I said the fact that we were not able to come in from the north, I think.
Q "If we had been successful in getting the 4th Infantry Division to come in through Turkey in the north when our forces were coming up from the south out of Kuwait, I believe that a considerably smaller number of the Ba'athists and the regime elements would have escaped. As a result, the insurgency would have been at a lesser intensity." That's the ABC quote.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I liked it when I said it, and I like it today.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I wouldn't -- my goodness, that's about six or eight questions, and it --
Q It was four. I decided to limit it to four. (Laughter.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: -- and it has a bunch of assumptions that are
deficient in one way or another.
Q No, I'm sure. You knew it --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm going to answer.
CNN: We don't know yet the results of this election, but what if it turns out that the government it produces is not particularly friendly to the United States? Or asks the United States to leave before the U.S. believes Iraq is ready?
RUMSFELD: Well, why do we want to anticipate all of those things?
CNN: So do you think Iraq has turned a corner? Is there, I hesitate to use the Vietnam phrase, but is there light at the end of the tunnel?
RUMSFELD: Oh, don't do that. You don't want to use that phrase.
Policy Statements (articulate statements that give insight)
Q We hear every day on TV about vast right-wing conspiracies and neoconservative cabals and all the various strings the administration is pulling. And so the question that keeps coming up to me is, if you guys are so powerful, why in the heck didn't you plant the weapons of mass destruction? (Laughter.) (Applause.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Laughs.) Oh, my. (Laughter.) It's kind of nice to be out of Washington. (Laughter.)
I was in South Korea last week. A woman I'm going to guess was 40, 45 obviously,
[inaudible] Korean War 50 years ago said to me why should South Koreans go to -- Why should South
Koreans go to Iraq and put their lives at risk and get wounded or killed?
I said that is a very good question. I said that I had just gotten an honors ceremony and a memorial for the Korean War and I looked on the wall and there was the name of a pal of mine from high school who had been killed the last day of the war. I said to her, I said you know, that question would have been a fair question for an American to ask 50 years ago. Why in the world should an American go all the way over to the Korean peninsula and get wounded or killed? I said look out the window. I'll tell you why. Look out there, what do you see? You see electricity, you see [energy], you see cars, you see an economic miracle. And at the demilitarized zone with a satellite shot at night you see success south of the DMZ and you see nothing but [silence] and blackness except for one pinpoint of light in Pyongyang. That's all you see from a satellite in the Korean peninsula north of the DMZ. People are starving. They've lowered the height requirement to get in the North Korean military down to 4'10" because people don't get enough nourishment. And the people going in the army in North Korea look like they're 12, 13, and 14 instead of 18, 19 and 20. It's a country that's out proliferating ballistic missile technology, threatening to sell fissile material.
And this relatively intelligent journalist who wasn't alive then obviously doesn't get it.
And also, people don't have long memories. Here's this perfectly intelligent woman who works in a free country for a free newspaper asking that question. All she had to do was look out the window and see the difference.
Q [Palestinian general]: Mr. Secretary, You talked about countries that were trying
to produce weapons of mass destruction. You talked about Iraq and you talked about Iran and North
Korea. I have a question, a direct question to you. What are you doing with Israel? As far as Israel
is concerned, Israel has more atomic weapons in the region than any other country. Why do you remain
silent in regard to Israel? I think itís important to answer this question because this has to do
with the world, the strategy that we are pursuing today. I think that if the position towards Israel
were different then the situation would be different in the Near East, and this is a great problem.
Rumsfeld: You know the answer before I give it, Iím sure. The world knows the answer. We take the world like you find it; and Israel is a small state with a small population. Itís a democracy and it exists in a neighborhood that in many -- over a period of time has opined from time to time that theyíd prefer it not be there and theyíd like it to be put in the sea. And Israel has opined that it would prefer not to get put in the sea, and as a result, over a period of decades, it has arranged itself so it hasnít been put in the sea.
Thank you all very much.
And today is the 20th anniversary, unhappy anniversary, of the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. That attack killed 240-plus Americans. Shortly after the attack, I received a phone call from Secretary of State George Shultz, saying that President Reagan and he wanted to meet with me, and asked me to serve for a period as the personal envoy of the president to the Middle East. I remember that experience very well, and if you'll think back to it, it was a -- just an enormously violent event. And the photographs of it were photographs of a great many wonderful Americans in a building that had been nearly totally destroyed.
After that, the immediate reaction was a human reaction, and cement barricades were put up around buildings housing American troops, so that trucks couldn't willingly or easily get into and attack a major building; barricades somewhat like the ones you see around here. And of course, the next thing that happened was the terrorists starting using rocket-propelled grenades and lobbing them over those barricades. The barricades are fine for trucks; they're not so fine for airborne missiles of various types.
The next thing, if you went down to the Corniche in Beirut and looked up, you'd see embassy buildings draped with mesh, a wire mesh, the idea being that when the rocket-propelled grenades would hit the mesh, they'd bounce off. And so, the point being that terrorists go to school on you, and they adjust their tactics. The mesh worked for a short period, and pretty soon, they started hitting soft targets, people going to and from where they were working.
I mention this because it is a point that I've tried to make from time to time; namely, that a terrorist can, in fact, attack at any time, in any place, using any technique, and free people are not able to defend at every place, at every moment of the day or night, against every conceivable type of technique. The advantage is with the attacker. And the only way to defeat terrorists is to take the war to them; to go after them where they are, where they live, where they plan, where they hide; go after their finances; go after the people who harbor and assist them; and reduce the number of them, and the number of people supporting them and the number of people financing them, so that the numbers of new terrorists coming into the process, trained and financed and ready to go out and kill innocent men, women and children across the world, so that that number is reduced. That's the president's policy. It's the correct policy.
Al Jazeera: I want to put this to you, even if you want to send me to Guantanamo, and that is --
Rumsfeld: Not likely.
Al Jazeera: That is that Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, either you created them or you helped them. I mean Osama bin Laden fought the Soviet occupiers in Afghanistan on your behalf, I suppose. And also you went and, I mean you offered help to Saddam Hussein in the darkest hours of his war with Iran. I think you also met him as a representative of the President, of the American President.
Rumsfeld: Well for you to say that the United States created Osama bin Laden of course would not be correct. He is what he is. There's no question but that there was a period when he was opposing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the United States was also opposing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. That does not mean that the United States -- A lot of countries were opposing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In fact there were very few countries that liked it besides the Soviet Union. The Afghanistan people didn't like it, we didn't like it. Most of the countries of the world that don't like to see a nation get attacked didn't like it. And it happens also that Osama bin Laden didn't like it. So that commonality of interests led to that coincidence of being on the same side but it would be a misunderstanding to say that therefore the United States or the United Nations or a coalition of countries created him. He is what he is. He's a terrorist. He's proud of it.
Al Jazeera: This is a question that is in the minds of lots of people that --
Al Jazeera: -- he was your admirer, he was fighting your war.
Rumsfeld: It was the Afghan war.
Al Jazeera: -- in proxy against the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan.
Rumsfeld: It was a war to liberate Afghanistan and to not have the Soviet Union continue to occupy it. Why was that our war?
We were in there trying to help those people, the Afghan people, be free of the Soviet Union. That is not our war. That's a war for liberation.
Now go to the second point of your question. It was about 1982, '83, '84, in that period, and there was a war between Iraq and Iran. Many of the countries in the region were concerned that Iraq could lose and it could cause a problem in the entire region. And the United States was asked to see what we might do. Insofar as I'm aware, the only assistance that was given was some intelligence assistance. If there was more, I'm not familiar with it. But there again, these are neighboring countries and the United States was asked and assisted with Iraq defending against, for themselves against the Iranians in that war and we provided some intelligence assistance as I understand it.
The United States also of course led a coalition of the willing to go in and throw Iraq out of Kuwait and help that country rather than being subjugated by the Iraqi regime.
There have been times in our country's history where we've made a conscious decision, for example, that we would work in close relationship, very close relationship, with brutal dictatorial regimes. In World War II we were on the same side as Joseph Stalin, a man who killed millions of people in the Soviet Union, and we were giving them aid, we were assisting him, trying to defeat Adolf Hitler. Deemed to be a more serious threat outside of his borders than at the time we deemed the Soviet Union to be outside of its borders.
Rumsfeld: There is no master plan. We don't run around the world trying to figure out how other people ought to live. What we want is a peaceful region.
You used the word black gold. I've seen the same kinds of articles and suggestions that that's the case.
You know, I've been around economics long enough to know that if somebody owns oil they're going to want to sell it. If they want to sell it, it's going to end up in the market. And it doesn't matter if they sell it to Country A or Country B. If they sell it, it's going to be in the market and that's going to affect the world price. Money is fungible and oil is fungible. This is not about oil, and anyone who thinks it is, is badly misunderstanding the situation.
Al Jazeera: But it depends on who controls the oil.Rumsfeld: Anyone who controls it wants to sell it. It doesn't matter. That is not a problem. If you own -- If a bad person owns the oil and a good person owns the oil -- different oil -- and the bad person doesn't want to sell it to you but the good person is willing to, it doesn't matter because then the good person sells it to you. You're not going to be buying this person's oil but this person's going to be selling it to somebody else. And the world price will be the same. Everyone will have the oil they need. They aren't going to horde it, they're not going to keep it in the ground. They need the money from the oil. So it's not a problem.
Al Jazeera: Would it worry you if you go by force into Iraq that this might create the impression that the United States is becoming an imperial, colonial power?
Rumsfeld: Well I'm sure that some people would say that, but it can't be true because we're not a colonial power. We've never been a colonial power. We don't take our force and go around the world and try to take other people's real estate or other people's resources, their oil. That's just not what the United States does. We never have and we never will. That's not how democracies behave. That's how an empire-building Soviet Union behaved but that's not how the United States behaves.
What have we done? We've gone into help Bosnia be free. We've helped Kosovo -- Moslem countries. We've helped Kuwait get free. We helped free the world from Hitler and from the Japanese imperial aggression in Asia in World War II. We didn't keep any real estate. We didn't keep any resources. In fact we gave money. We were the biggest donors of food aid in Afghanistan before September 11th. Before we were ever attacked it was the United States -- not a Muslim country, but a country that cared enough about the people of Afghanistan that we provided food for them.
Think of the people in Iraq today. If Saddam Hussein were gone the sanctions would be gone. The
sanctions would be gone. The UN imposed economic sanctions and the people there would be better off.
One in particular is worth mentioning here. It's a letter he [Reagan] wrote by hand in April of 1981 to Soviet leader Brezhnev. Brezhnev had sent him a letter accusing the United States of destabilizing the world with its territorial ambitions and imperialistic designs. President Reagan replied, quote, "There's not only no evidence to support such a charge; there's solid evidence that the United States, when it could have dominated the world, at no risk to itself, made no effort whatsoever to do so.
"When World War II ended, the United States had the only undamaged industrial power in the world," he wrote. "Its military was at its peak, and we alone had the ultimate weapon, the nuclear bomb, and the unquestioned ability to deliver it anywhere in the world. If we had sought world domination, who could have opposed us?"
He went on to say, "But the United States followed a different course, one unique in the history of all mankind. We used our power and wealth to rebuild the war-ravaged economies of the world, including those nations that had been our enemies," unquote.Think of what he wrote and the power of the truth he spoke. Because of those efforts after World War II, freedom did take root in Japan, in Germany and Italy and indeed across Europe. And the liberated nations of Europe then joined with the United States to form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Together we stood up to the forces of communist tyranny, and by the end of the 20th century, liberty had sped -- spread across the entire continent of Europe and beyond.
But President Reagan left a legacy more powerful than any weapon. He really did do so much to restore our nation's confidence in principled American leadership around the world. He dared to call the Soviet Union what it was -- an evil empire -- and in doing so, he reminded the entire world that evil does exist; that peaceful coexistence with it is neither possible nor desirable, and that if we have the will, the determination and the patience, it can be defeated. And it was.
Q: Putin, President Putin has said that Iraq could be our Afghanistan or if not a vacuum for radicals from all over the world to pour into, you have a lot of mothers and fathers with their sons and daughters over there. How do you respond to Putin's observation?
Rumsfeld: Well, I make two observations. One is the Russians said that about Afghanistan also for us. They said everything was being done wrong, it was going to turn into a disaster and they ought to know, they had 300,000 people in Afghanistan and lost, and they had another 160,000 in the countries just to the North. They were wrong as to what is happening in Afghanistan. Is that a perfect situation? No. Is it a dangerous situation to some extent? Yes. Are the Taliban still trying to get in there and get back? Absolutely. And that's why we have military forces and Afghan forces out rooting them out.
With respect to Iraq, I guess time will tell whether Mr. Putin, President Putin is right or wrong, I think he's wrong. The Soviet's when they did things wanted to be occupiers of countries, the American people don't want to occupy other countries, we want to liberate people and we've liberated 23 million people in Afghanistan instead of going in as the Soviet's did to occupy them, and we've liberated 23 million people in Iraq, plus or minus, and our goal is to pass over sovereignty, pass over the responsibility for security and leave. We don't want to live precipitously, we want to help them jumpstart their economy but these are intelligent people, they're educated people, they're industrious people and I hope that President Putin is wrong.
Q [Wolfgang Ischinger, German ambassador to the United States]: Mr. Secretary, You said that the success of the coalition last year was very positive, but now, unfortunately, the standing of the United States in that same period of time has not improved worldwide but it has deteriorated dramatically. There are comments made by U.S. government officials in the last few days who have expressed great concern about this. There are people who would even go as far as to suggest that this poor standing of the United States could be harmful for a strategy for the greater Middle East as presented by Minister Fisher this morning and it could almost be an obstacle to such a strategy. My question is, do you share these concerns, how seriously do you take these concerns, and if you do take them seriously, Secretary, what ways would you suggest to improve the image of the United States, not here in Europe but also in those countries outside of Europe which are represented here? Thank you.
Rumsfeld: Thatís a tough question. The perspective of the United States has gone up and down over the decades. I suppose it will over the period ahead. The problem in the Middle East is a serious one. When you have Al Jazeera and Al Arabia and some of the networks in that area that people watch, constantly, daily putting out information that is biased and untrue. It ought not to be a great surprise to find that an awful lot of that people in that area have an impression of the coalition and the United States that is a highly negative one. What does one do about that?
Well, I guess they try to find ways to see that the messages are communicated more accurately. They try to constantly behave in a way that will bring credit to them rather than to lead people to be disparaging of them. I know in my heart and my brain that America ainít whatís wrong with the world. To the extent that that concept is promoted, as it is, and in this country in television as well -- to the extent thatís the case, only time, I guess, will deal with that. But if you think of what was going on in Iraq a year ago, with people being tortured, rape rooms, mass graves, gross corruption, a country that had used chemical weapons on its own people, used them on their neighbors, defiant to the United Nations through 17 UN Security Council resolutions -- and look at the way it was treated in the press. I mean there were prominent people who represent countries in this room that opined that they didnít really think it made a hell of a lot a difference who won.Think of that. Equating the countries in the coalition with what was going on in that country, publicly. Shocking, absolutely shocking. Now, is the United States perfect? No. Goodness no! Do we make mistakes? You bet! But if there were a simple, easy answer to this I guess it wouldnít be a problem. I donít know what the simple easy answer is. You live in the United States. Maybe someone like you can help. (Laughter.)
Q: Is there a concern that U.S. forces who are Muslim might be compromising national security - religion first, patriotism second? Are you concerned about that?
Rumsfeld: See, the implication of your question is that Muslims are anti-U.S. or anti-American or in favor of terrorism, and thatís not fair to that religion. The overwhelming majority of that people Ė people in that religion - are perfectly fine citizens of our country and other countries. Thereís a very small fraction thatís trying to hijack that religion and conduct themselves in a way that are inconsistent with the precepts and tenets and principles of that religion, and I think that the way you cast it is not a good way to cast it. And it is a task that the world faces that is important. There are a lot of people being taught to go out and kill innocent men, women and children. There is a battle of ideas; it is not a battle of religions, it is almost a battle within that religion and it is a very small minority thatís trying to hijack it and take away people into their terrorist approach to the world. That is a problem for the whole world but itís particularly a problem for the people of that religion and I think itís something that we all have to address and think about because it is not going to be a nice world to live in if people keep financing terrorists, people keep training young men and women to go out and kill innocent people in large numbers. Thatís not a good world for anybody in any religion.
Rumsfeld: Well, it's a fair question. And that's the question that the American people answer when they put people in public office. And each local government can decide what taxing policy it wants and what allocation of resources it wants. Each sate entity can decide how it wants to tax its people and how it wants to spend for the people. And the same thing's true with the federal government.
And the idea that the Defense Department is draining away massive sums from the human needs of our country is factually just not true. How could that be the case if you've gone down from -- as a percentage of our gross domestic product, from 10 percent in the Eisenhower and Kennedy years, to 5 percent in the Ford and Carter years, down to 3- plus percent in the George W. Bush years? And even if it were true, then it's -- the answer to that allocation is in the hands of the people, and it is not, certainly, in the hands of the Department of Defense. What we do is make a case and compete for funds that the federal government decides it wants to extract from the American people in taxes and revenues. And we have to make a case, and the case is then decided by the president, in the first instance, with a recommendation to the Congress. And then under our Constitution, Article I, the president proposes and the Congress disposes. And the representatives and senators from the people in this room, the federal level, make those judgments. And I happen to think they're making pretty good judgments.
Q: Which strikes me -- weíre chatting with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld Ė strikes me as no-brainer, this whole concept of picking up and moving out of Germany, moving a lot of troops out of Germany, moving a lot of troops out of Eastern Europe. It strikes me as a no-brainer. I mean, were we waiting for the Cold War to start back up again? Why were those guys there for so long?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, you know, you get comfortable with what is. The people there like having them there. They liked being there and the problem was that it just wasnít efficient from the standpoint of the American taxpayer or from the standpoint of the Armed Forces, so we had to just kind of Ė they were basically where they were at the end of the Cold War in smaller numbers, but the same places. And we just simply had to face the reality that weíre going to have to get positioned in places Ė clearly, places where weíre wanted, places where we can use those forces and move them rapidly, places where we had training facilities, places where we can work with other countries, so we can have interoperability and close coordination. And the net of it will be that weíll be bringing something like some 70,000 American service people home from various countries and over 100,000 dependents, and going from about 560 installations around the world, down to about 360.
Q: There has been a lot of hostage takings recently. And thereís been a lot of hostage releases recently, and it seems that some countries are negotiating on the side. What do you day to one of these countries that seem to be making deals with terrorists?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, the risk always is, of course, that if someone does that, it encourages it. And if you reward something, you get more of it. If you penalize it, you get less of it. And to the extent a country decides that if they wanted to negotiate with terrorists and pay ransom or make concessions of various types, acquiescing whatever it is the terrorist wants, then the terrorist is rewarded by that and decides that thatís a good thing to do, so they do a lot more of it and it puts other people at risk and I think thatís unfortunate.
Q: What would you say to these countries, some of these are allies, that seem to be negotiating?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I donít know that.
Q: They seem to be, though.
SEC. RUMSFELD: In some instances, people have just been released. In other instances, itís silence, as to why they were released. And so I guess that I would say is each country does what they believe is right. And I like our countryís policy and the policy of the United Kingdom and a great many other countries across the world. Our best course is to not reward things we want to discourage.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I am looking for the best possible way of fashioning U.S. intelligence-gathering for the 21st century. And what that is, I donít know. Iím meeting with people because I know there are things that I donít know. Iím meeting with people smarter than I am, because I know theyíre smarter than I am. And I am asking a lot of questions about people who think they have answers, trying to probe to see if, in fact, the solutions they have actually fit real problems. Now I know that is enormously unsatisfactory at this time for people who are looking for the ultimate solution to the intelligence community difficulties. But if I knew the answer, Iíd give it, and I donít.
Q: So why have they objected? [Russians to to US pursuing a missile defense] (2001)
Rumsfeld: Oh, I don't know. I don't climb in people's mind. Obviously it's to their advantage to express concern about it. There is the ABM Treaty, which they would have to adjust. I think before it's over, they will accommodate themselves. Of course, let's be very honest about what Russia is doing. Russia is an active proliferator. They are part of the problem. They are selling and assisting countries like Iran and North Korea and India and other countries with these technologies which are threatening other people including the United States and Western Europe and countries in the Middle East. So why they would be actively proliferating and then complaining when the United States wants to defend itself against the, the fruit of those proliferation activities, it seems to me, is misplaced.
It threatens no one. And it should be of concern to no one, including the Russians or the Chinese, unless someone has an intention of doing damage to other people.
Now, the argument against every weapons system almost in history is -- the first argument is that it cost too much. And the next argument is that it won't work. And the next argument is that it will work so well, that it will be destabilizing.
Well, we're hearing all of that now. But that would have been true of anything.
Those arguments, they would have made the same arguments against every weapon system known to man. So I don't particularly find them very valid.
Q: Could I ask you just a follow-up question, Mr. Secretary, on that same subject, your thinking
about missile defense? In your mind, is theater missile defense a higher priority than national
Lehrer: What is your reading thus far of the state of the American military? (2001)
Rumsfeld: Well, there is no question it's the finest military on earth; that we know. It is also no question but that the world has changed dramatically since most of the capabilities of our current military were fashioned. Indeed, I find that most of the weapons systems were there when I was there. I approved the M-1 tank, and that is the main battle tank. I was at the roll out for the F-16 aircraft, and the F-15 was brand new, and I approved the B-1 bomber. That is all 25 years ago. These capabilities are what we have today in large measure. And they are good but they were designed for the Cold War. They were basically designed and fashioned and put forward because we had a major superpower on the face of the earth that was contesting the United States. The Soviet Union is gone today, and it is a very different world. Technologies have advanced tremendously. And it is time to -- and the president uses the word transformation and I think properly so. If you think back in the Eisenhower period in our adult life times the last transformation really took place after World War II. And it was to move us into the Cold War. And we went from artillery pieces to ballistic missiles. We went from diesel submarines to nuclear submarines -- from conventional aircraft carriers to nuclear aircraft carriers -- from propeller-driven aircraft to jet aircraft. It was a significant change to overhead satellites for intelligence in communications. That was really the last major transformation.
Q: Mr. Secretary, can you elaborate on your statement about if it was off by a lot [Intelligence on WMD in Iraq], that would be unfortunate? Unfortunate in what sense, and for whom, regarding the estimates, the intelligence on --
Rumsfeld: Well, certainly for the Iraqi people. If, for example, Saddam Hussein, for whatever reason, refused to allow the inspectors in and do what other countries have done -- South Africa, Ukraine and others have just said, "We want to be inspected. Come in and inspect us so we can show the world that we've done the right thing." If he refused to do that, which he did -- everyone knows he submitted a fraudulent report -- if he refused to do that and the effect of it was to deny the people of his country billions of dollars over a series of years, one has to ask what was in his mind. Why would he do that? Why would he then engage in a series of covers to systematically try to prevent the inspectors from finding out what was taking place? Why would he do that?
Q: Maybe he didn't know.
Q: To maintain personal prestige in the region?
Rumsfeld: And the effect of it? Think of the harm to those people.
Q: So when you say "unfortunate," you don't mean --
Rumsfeld: I just said that.
Q: -- you don't mean to the people who put together the U.S. intelligence estimates.Rumsfeld: No. It's unfortunate for the Iraqi people. They were denied billions of dollars. If it happens to be true, which we have no reason to believe yet at this stage that it is true, but if it were to be true, the fact of the matter is the real damage he would have done would be to the Iraqi people by his unwillingness to cooperate with the United Nations, not through one, two, three or four resolutions, but through 17 resolutions.
QUESTION: Chief Warrant Officer Anthony Domar, 165 MI.
It seems like in the media there's a lot of negative and --
RUMSFELD: No. [Laughter]. You've got to be kidding.
QUESTION: Do you have any influence on showing some of the wonderful things and good things that these soldiers do? And my father, who is U.S. Navy Retired, would like to know that also.
RUMSFELD: And you're asking who has influence on the media so that they might show something that's actually happening instead of something -- I mean something positive that's actually happening?
QUESTION: Yes, sir.
RUMSFELD: Instead of something that's negative?
QUESTION: Yes, sir.
RUMSFELD: Is that the question? Let me repeat the question. [Laughter]. He has the impression that from time to time some of the media leave the impression that the only things that happen are negative, is that right?
QUESTION: Sir, yes, sir. That's pretty close.
RUMSFELD: You're asking me why? [Laughter].
QUESTION: The answer I got down in Iraq was it sells, but again, folks back home say they disagree with that.
RUMSFELD: The truth is there seems to be, if you look at the front of almost any newspaper, any television story, the pattern tends to be that it's a negative story. That that is what sells. That is what attracts people. For whatever reason, I don't know.
I do know this, that the people who come to this country and go to Iraq and come out are struck by the contrast, the stark contrast between what they see in terms of progress and contribution by the men and women in uniform, what they see as opposed to what they read and hear.
I don't know what the answer is, but I can tell you this. Our country's been around for well over 200 years now and it suggests that the American people have a pretty good center of gravity. They must have an inner gyroscope that centers them because they're able to read all the negative things and hear all the negative things and yet they're able to sift through it and sort through it and come to reasonably right decisions about what's really happening.
I can tell you what's really happening. You, the people in this room and the people across this country from the United States in uniform, the coalition countries that are increasing all the time as NATO takes a bigger and bigger role, are doing an absolutely superb job for the people of Iraq and for the people of the world, helping to make this a stable, moderate Muslim country, and in an important part of the world at an important point in history, and I thank all of you for what you're doing.
Teltschik: Thank you, Secretary. The next one is Mr. Grant from London from the Center for European Reform.
Mr. Grant: I have a question, Mr. Secretary, about the EUís constitutional treaty. The governments have agreed on a new so-called constitution which, if implemented, would create a European foreign minister, a European diplomatic service with the objective of a more unified, coherent EU foreign policy. Is that good for America, if that objective is fulfilled and would you urge the European countries to ratify and implement that constitutional treaty?
Secretary Rumsfeld: Goodness gracious, what does that have to do with anything I talked about? You are running a disorderly house here, Horst. Does that mean they abolish all national foreign ministers? No? Oh, well. (Laughter) Just kidding. You know I donít know that it is really for the United States to be opining on that. We have had a position in our country that Europe ought to do what Europe wants to do. And over the years, as Europe has arranged itself incrementally in different ways and become somewhat more unified, in a step-by-step process, the United States has always found a way to work with whatever arrangements Europe decided on. These are complicated questions that have to be sorted through internally and, at least, the Department of Defense of the United States has no formal position on that.
Teltschik: Quite understandable. The next one is Mr. Hoyer.
Secretary Rumsfeld: Back in Chicago you would say, some of my friends are for it and some of my friends are against it, and Iím for my friends.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Canada's begging out of the missile defense testing and as a result Secretary Rice has canceled a visit to Canada. How much has this hurt the missile defense testing program, and how has it hurt U.S. relations with Canada?
RUMSFELD: Well first it's not clear to me that the canceling of the trip was a direct result of what you're talking about. I think that might be a misunderstanding. Second, we have no need for Canada to participate in missile defense. The program will go on just as it would have without them. Had they decided to participate it would have benefitted them, but they've made a decision that a sovereign nation can make and it doesn't damage our relationships whatsoever. They're perfectly free to decide anything they want in something like that and it will not adversely affect our missile defense program in the slightest.
Q: Iíd like to ask. Are your governments concerned about charges of political meddling or perhaps trouble-making by President Chavez in the region? Are you worried about the purchase of 100,000 AK-47assault rifles?
Alencar: The question was asked in the plural, and so I think that the question should be answered in the first place by the most important individual here.
Rumsfeld: Mr. Vice President, you just passed the buck. Certainly Iím concerned. If one thinks about it, the discussion thatís taking place, as I understand it, is concerning something in the neighborhood of 100,000 AK-47s to be moved from Russia possibly to Venezuela. I donít know if itís firm, but Iíve read about it and heard it discussed. Not just in the press, but bilaterally. I canít imagine whatís going to happen to 100,000 AK-47s. I canít imagine why Venezuela needs 100, 000 AK-47s. I just hope that, personally hope, that it doesnít happen. I canít imagine that if it did happen, that it would be good for the hemisphere.
RUMSFELD: Sure. The Shia and the Kurds that participated fully in the elections had been reaching out to the Sunnis which is a very positive thing. Second, the Sunnis I think Ė well, who knows, I can't speak for all the Sunnis.
But if you dropped a plumb line through all the intelligence I've seen, the Sunni leadership that I've read about is reasonably well-convinced that they made a terrible mistake by not participating in the election and they're leaning forward right now and talking and discussing and trying to figure out how they can play in the process that will take place going forward to fashion a constitution and then elect a permanent government. I don't think they'll make that mistake again.
NPR: Does the intelligence you see also suggest that the Sunni leaders who seem to be leaning forward, as you put it, they can also bring along the insurgent fighters? They could actually end the conflict?
RUMSFELD: I think very likely what -- People tend not to move from being a terrorist or an insurgent fighter all the way over to support for the government.
What they do is they become less of a fighter or less of an insurgent, and the fellow who was less of one already becomes neutral, and the person who was neutral becomes kind of positive. And you move across that spectrum. And it's generally characterized as a tipping process.
What causes it to tip? Answer. Political, economic, and security. Another thing that causes it to tip -- tip meaning that the mass of people in that country, more of them support the government than oppose it -- favorable tipping or vice versa, it can tip.
It's manifested in a lot of different ways. It's manifested in the number of people signing up to serve in the security forces. It's manifested in the number of people who voted, over eight million. It's manifested by the hundreds who put their name on the ballot and were threatened to be killed. It's manifested by all the people who walked past those signs saying ďyou vote, you die.Ē It's manifested by the number of tips we get and intelligence information. And most of those indicators are improving. So it's improving, the situation.
QUESTION: Sir, Sergeant First Class Dimachio from the Island of Saipan.
My question is about shortfalls in recruiting personnel. Is there an issue? What is the plan to fix it?
RUMSFELD: Well, it was expected that we could see some softness in recruiting about close to a year ago, and as a result a large number of additional recruiters were put in place. Some additional incentives were put in place. And the work has been going forward.
There's a lag always when that occurs, but it is expected that most of the services will come very close to their targets by the end of the year.
One of the reasons for the shortfall, I'm told, is because retention has been so high. Interestingly, retention has been particularly high among folks who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. And if you think about it, it's the force, the existing force, the active force as they leave that become the pool for the Guard and the Reserve and it is in the Guard and the Reserve where the shortfall has occurred for the most part. So I think that what we'll find is as we go forward -- We also have done, I think it's 35 or 40 different things to reduce stress on the force and it is expected that that will also assist in improving the recruiting and retention figures. Thank you.
Q Human rights groups continue to criticize what they've described as systematic abuses in the interrogation process. The ACLU today released a memo they obtained from the Army by General Sanchez in September '03, and they said that contains 12 techniques that far exceeded -- interrogation techniques -- far exceeded limits established by the Army's own field manual. Human Rights Watch issued a release today talking about a case of a Yemeni businessman -- they're saying this is reverse rendition in which he was arrested by the Egyptians and then rendered to Guantanamo. And the quote on that is, "The Bush administration continues to believe that by invoking the word `terror' it can detain anyone in any corner of the world without any oversight." And I wonder if you would just respond to the suggestion that there is a systematic problem rather than the kinds of individual abuses we've heard of before.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't believe there's been a single one of the investigations that have been conducted, which has got to be six, seven, eight or nine --
GEN. PACE: Ten major reviews and 300 individual investigations
of one kind of another.
SEC. RUMSFELD: And have you seen one that characterized it as
systematic or systemic?
GEN. PACE: No, sir.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I haven't, either.
Q What about --
SEC. RUMSFELD: [Next] Question.
Q (Laughs.) Just one question. What the ACLU has been contending is that DOD is not holding back these documents out of fear of national security but, rather, fear of embarrassment. Do you think that that's --
SEC. RUMSFELD: That's just not true. I mean, I -- I shouldn't say it's not true, I just don't know. But I can't imagine it's true because the orders and directions we've given is to have full transparency, to the extent it's consistent with national security interests of the country.
And if anyone can validate that allegation, I'd be happy to look into it. But I doubt that they can. It sounds like a political charge.
Secretary Rumsfeld: We have an executive branch of government, and I suspect many of you do, that is really still organized for the Industrial Age, not the Information Age. And so is the subcommittee system in Congress organized for the Industrial Age, and not the Information Age. We have an enemy -- these terrorists that donít have bureaucracies, donít have parliaments, donít have freedom of information laws, donít have any of those things and are able to turn on a dime -- and those of us in government have difficulty.
Rumsfeld's War, Rowan Scarborough
Rumsfeld, Midge Decter
The Rumsfeld Way, Jeffery A. Kames
Note: I have read all of these biographies and DO NOT recommend any of them. They offer little new information, sparse in-depth analysis, and few personal stories. In my opinion, they were written fast and cheap, and could have, in large part, been written by someone using an internet search engine. Secretary Rumsfeld needs to write his own book.
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