Wolfowitz Interview with Baltimore Sun - April 26
NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense
DoD News Briefing Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz Monday, April 26, 2002
(Interview with Susan Baer and Tom Bowman, Baltimore Sun. An article resulting in part from this interview was published in the Baltimore Sun on May 12, 2002.)
Q: I think the last time we ran out of time just as we were getting to Iraq, so --
Wolfowitz: Oh, funny thing about that. [Laughter] Let's see if we can keep this going. [Laughter]
Q: Obviously the question today is to what extent the Middle East conflict has thrown a wrench into the works as far as dealing with Iraq and making it a lot more difficult to take on Saddam Hussein.
Wolfowitz: I think the relationship -- It's important I think for people to understand there's a relationship between both of these problems. They both affect each other.
Clearly the Arab-Israeli issues create a lot of difficulty for us throughout the Muslim world, especially in the Arab world, and it imposes a significant additional burden on the kinds of things that we need to do to get cooperation against Iraq.
It's also the case that Saddam Hussein in ways that we see clearly and probably in a lot of ways that we don't see so clearly, exacerbates the Arab-Israeli situation. It works both ways.
Q: By offering $25,000 --
Wolfowitz: The one we see wide open is he's inciting people to homicide bombings. But it probably goes way beyond that.
If you look at what happens to the Oil for Food money that goes to Iraq, the Kurds in the north get; they're under the same embargo restrictions as the rest of Iraq. They get 13 percent of the revenues based on supposedly their share of the population. That's probably a small share. There is no starvation, malnutrition or health problems in northern Iraq in spite of that. The reason there are problems in the rest of Iraq is because Saddam spends his money on a lot of other things besides food and one of them I'm sure, is funding terrorist groups of various kinds. It's not necessarily something you can trace. His rhetoric --
Q: There's no hard evidence that he is supporting them? You just suspect that?
Wolfowitz: No, I don't know hard evidence of money transfers. That's one of the hardest things to find and very very easy to disguise especially with the sort of large volumes of trade that go on in and out of Iraq.
What we do see is everything in his policy, in his rhetoric, in his interest, that incite the situation in the West Bank and Gaza to violence and as the old Soviet put it, said it's no accident comrade that we made the most progress in the peace process right after the defeat of Iraq in the Gulf War. That's when we had the Madrid Conference. That's when we had Oslo.
I'm not saying that you can't solve the Arab-Israeli problem without solving the Iraqi problem, in fact I think we've got to make progress on both. That's the bottom line to me. I don't think you can say we're not going to work on one of these issues until we solve the other one. I think we have to work on both of them.
Q: What of the argument that some are making that to really settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict you have to first get rid of Saddam and first deal with some of the regimes in the region that are supporting terrorism before, and basically rearrange the furniture in that region that make it more conducive to peace?
Wolfowitz: I go back to what I said. I don't think you can make one wait on the other. I do think that, and that's what makes this a strategic challenge. I do think that progress on each one is going to help us with progress on other things, and what the president I think has set out to achieve in this war on terrorism by not just focusing on one man or one group or one country, but really looking at it in a large way, and not just focusing on defeating terrorists but also clearly has his sights on building a better word beyond it, I think these pieces start to fit together. We're seeing one of the bad ways they fit together. We're seeing that the violence in Israel and the Palestinians is having negative effects. We saw a very positive effect earlier when the defeat of the Taliban made a lot of countries who weren't inclined to cooperate on terrorism suddenly decide they were on the team.
I think the United States has an enormous ability to influence things and we've got to work on every place where things go in our direction and I believe each time we make a success it's going to reinforce our efforts in other areas.
Q: -- progress in both areas. Progress with Iraq. Do you think that you can craft sanctions that would be workable for Iraq? Or do you think an inspection regime is possible? First get into Iraq and second, do meaningful work.
Wolfowitz: And the next question is? [Laughter]
Q: Those are my only two questions.
Wolfowitz: I think we're out of time. [Laughter]
Q: Seriously, is it possible in both areas to do any meaningful work in Iraq?
Wolfowitz: Any meaningful work? Yes. A solution out of just sanctions alone? I think everyone would agree that's not a solution by itself.
Q: Or inspections?
Wolfowitz: Inspections is getting closer to something that is part of a solution. But what I really want to say is we don't have the solution yet. There's a lot of serious work, serious thought, not just simply thinking about what to do but also developing options of things to do.
What the president stated very very clearly, and I think it's important, I think people didn't quite grasp it. He didn't state a solution but he did state a problem. The problem is that we can't afford to wait until there's an act of terrorism using weapons of mass destruction to then find the people afterwards and catch them and round them up. It was bad enough with civilian airliners loaded with jet fuel. If we'd actually known what we knew on September 12th we probably would in fact have taken much more aggressive action to preempt what al Qaeda was able to do and people might have said well, they haven't done it yet.
We can't wait until they've done it in he case of nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons. And we can't afford to fool around for another ten years. I'm picking a time out of the air, I think that's what he said.
Some of the Europeans sort of reacted as though he'd just declared war on Iraq. Well, I think after a few weeks went by they realized that isn't what he said at all. What he said is here's a problem. It's not a problem we can live with indefinitely. It's not a problem for which we yet have a prescribed solution. We're going to be listening to a lot of people and we're going to be doing a lot of thinking and that is what has been going on.
I would say there are some very big decisions that only the President can make as to exactly how these pieces fit together.
Q: As far as WMD, is there any evidence that, and everyone suspects that he's using money from the oil program and from smuggling to beef up his security apparatus and so forth. But do you have any more evidence that he's moved farther down the road on creating a nuclear weapons or more chem/biological or more --
Wolfowitz: The problem is we haven't been in there for really, effectively, five years. I think the inspectors were formally kicked out four years ago but they were essentially stopped from operating --
Q: -- intelligence led you to believe that --
Wolfowitz: Oh, there's a lot of evidence that he keeps working at it. It's difficult to have the kind of evidence that gives you precision as to how far he's gotten, but a lot of evidence that he's working on it.
Q: I have a really good question. Do you guys want to talk about anything else?
Q: Between Bush Administrations when you were at SAIS you had a lot of time to think and write about foreign policy matters. Did you --
Wolfowitz: And raise money. [Laughter]
Q: Did you do any rethinking of the Persian Gulf War and especially how it was ended? Did you come to any new conclusions given the distance of time?
Wolfowitz: It's going to be a very short answer so we get off this subject. I've written about it. There are things at the time that I felt would have made sense. I think with 20/20 hindsight it seemed clear that they made sense. I also think, number one, that it was not unreasonable for former President Bush and a lot of other people to assume that after the kind of massive defeat Saddam Hussein suffered that he just wouldn't be around for very long.
But secondly, and I don't think this can be said strongly enough or said often enough, what Bush 41 achieved in the Persian Gulf was enormous. Enormously difficult. In hindsight people thought oh, it was terribly easy. We only lost 140 killed. I lived with it decision after decision that he took, almost every one of which he had to at least overrule one of his advisors. It wasn't like everybody said this is the obvious course of action. He had to bring along countries that were scared; he had to bring along countries that were hostile. He had to bring along a Congress that barely voted in favor of this enterprise with its very limited, with just a limited objective. Again, Iraq out of Kuwait. And for people who barely supported limited objectives to turn around three months later and second guess why you didn't go further I think is inappropriate.
Q: One last question on this and then we can move on. Some --
Wolfowitz: Maybe we should just move on. [Laughter]
Q: One of the main reasons that you took this job was to finish the work of --
Wolfowitz: Nonsense. Nonsense. I think we discussed this earlier. I took this job in full knowledge but obviously somewhat inadequate knowledge, that the main job here was going to be working on managing the Pentagon, not doing foreign policy.
Q: To what extent though does that loom in your mind? Dealing with Iraq and --
Wolfowitz: I'll tell you what did loom in my mind. I remember during one of our sessions with then-Governor Bush, I think it was George Shultz made some reference to the fact that foreign policy just isn't a winning issue with the electorate. It certainly wasn't three years ago.
The then governor, now president, said if I didn't think foreign policy were important I'm not sure I would be running this hard for president.
I think that's certainly the way I felt about working for him and I think it's the way all of that team that supported him felt about it. There are issues out there that are important, that it really makes a difference.
This is one area where the president probably has a bigger influence on policy than anything else. And I think I feel very proud and vindicated in watching him perform the way he has because I think he's been terrific. So in that sense, yes. It was a commitment.
It wasn't just the excitement of being in a campaign. Believe me, I had a full time job. It was difficult eking out time for it, but it was the sense that there was something important here. That this was a man with remarkably good instincts and a willingness to take on issues, and he was already assembling a team of advisors, which was inspiring to work with. He had, when I first went down to meet with him he had -- Dick Cheney was the one who invited me to come. George Shultz was there; Condy was there, a few others. And within a fairly short period of time we'd added Rich Armitage, Steve Hadley, we were going to add Scooter Libby but he was engaged on the Hill working for Congressman Cox, Dov Zakheim, Bob Blackwell. Am I leaving anyone out? There were eight of us in total. And by the way, I think one of the reasons why the teamwork in this group is so good is because most of us have been on a team together or several teams together in the past.
I think, it's a little presumptuous to say it; I know Rich cold be doing my job. I think I could be doing his job. And I remember 15 years ago when it was sort of that way. I was the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and he was over here as a DoD person. In fact if I can indulge you with pictures for a minute --
Wolfowitz: This is one when the two of us were up there testifying on the Philippines.
Q: He did the bases deal, didn't he?
Wolfowitz: No, no. This was Marcos. He later did the bases deal, but no, this was Marcos. The day we testified there was a column that appeared saying that some of the President's friends were unhappy with us because we were undercutting Ferdinand Marcos, and I'm not at all sure that's what I was saying to him at that moment, but he wrote under this, and that's one of the reasons I love if, "If I remember correctly this is when you stated we were surrounded so we should dismount, kill the horses, and fight on foot.'" [Laughter] He said I'll fight on foot anywhere with you.
Then this is from, I believe, February 25th, it was a Sunday. It was Marcos' last Sunday in the Philippines. It's the NSC meeting. Reagan had just come down from Camp David. That's Weinberger. You can't see Rich because he's sitting behind Weinberger. That's Bush 41 and the vice president. That's me with about two hours of sleep in the last two days. Mike Armacost. Phil Abib had just come back from Manila. We had just met that morning in Shultz's house to get ready for this meeting. And I'm not telling any secrets to say Shultz and Weinberger had a way of arguing even when there wasn't so much to argue about. [Laughter] This was a very big issue about which there could have been a lot of argument. We had that meeting in his house Sunday morning and they came out of it in complete agreement. And I will claim a little bit of credit for the two of us, that we had the kind of teamwork at our level that meant there was teamwork at higher levels.
I think that's still there. When my staff tells me there's a problem at the State Department I will pick up one of those two phones, one is a secure phone and the other is an unclassified phone, and go straight to Rich's office. And I'll either discover that it's not a problem, or the problem is with us, or he'll fix it. One of the three outcomes.
Q: There's been a lot of talk about disagreements.
Wolfowitz: I know.
Q: -- about particularly the other subject we were discussing.
Wolfowitz: -- talk about all the agreements which -- I mean I think what is more impressive actually is that unlike some Administrations, and I don't just mean this, including Republican Administrations. Let me just be as vague as that, where issues don't get decided and therefore what should be the normal debate between departments goes on and on with really terrible results. I think because this president is willing to make decisions, and when he makes decisions people support the policy. I would say that what is more remarkable is how much agreement there is on ABM Treaty withdrawal, on China EP-3, on Iraq for that matter. And even on the Middle East.
Go back to what the president said in that statement where He launched Powell off on his very difficult mission, which I think by the way Powell accomplished a lot more than he's given credit for because you can't judge him by whether he achieved peace in the Middle East out of the mess that he was going into. If you judge him by did he succeed in lowering the temperature some, I think he did. But if you look at the speech the president made going out, I think you see it has, I think, a very good balance of the two things that had to be balanced there. One being the objective of the war on terrorism including there but more broadly, and the other being the peace process and the idea of a longer-term political settlement. And I suspect neither one of our departments would have gotten that balance all on our own.
So the tension is something you want to have. You don't want to get rid of it. Creative tension. Not nasty tension.
Q: And that's what it is?
Wolfowitz: I think that's what it is, yeah. And one of the things about people who are good at government, and I think this bunch is good at government, is, forgive me, you know in academia I've met people who had a fight 30 years ago and won't talk to each other from that point on. And if you're a professor you can afford to do that. If you're in government and you care about getting results you can't afford to do that because the person you argued with today may have to be your ally tomorrow. I think, again, we don't mind patting ourselves on our backs, I think that kind of experience is present at, clearly at the Rumsfeld/Powell/Cheney level. I think it's also present at my level. I think it's also present two or three levels down. That's the way, I think it has to be that way, but it isn't always that way.
Q: Do you talk to Bush directly much? Have you had a relationship with him prior to coming into the administration?
Wolfowitz: Sometimes. There is a limit to how much deputies should be seen or heard. We're backup people. If Rumsfeld is away, which he is now, if there's a NSC meeting then I will represent him. And periodically there will be meetings of one kind or another where there are more than just the principals.
But one of the things that tends to happen I think in every administration, I saw it certainly in the last Bush Administration as well as this one, is as the principals get more and more comfortable with one another, they get more and more uncomfortable at having other people in the room when they're having their high level discussions. Which I think is a good thing. It's a sign of not needing staff and being able to settle issues without everybody going back and reporting what positions they took.
Q: And that's starting to happen?
Wolfowitz: Oh, I think it happened a year ago. Yeah.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about your early discussions with then Governor Bush? He sounded like a lot of governors who didn't have a lot of foreign policy experience, wasn't well versed on foreign policy. What were the sorts of things he wanted to know from you?
Wolfowitz: One of the things that was very striking to me, and I know this isn't his image, but he has an extraordinarily good attention span. We would sit down for these long sessions, and my experience with a lot of people who are high level busy people, especially I think the more political they are, they get kind of impatient when a discussion's gone more than 15 or 30 minutes. They want to know what's the practical outcome. Over and over we would have two, three-hour discussions with him and his attention did not flag.
The one I remember in particular when we were down in Austin working on what became the Reagan Library speech or what actually was about to be the Reagan Library speech, and we met with him for two or three hours on an afternoon going over major issues in the speech, and at the end of it he said I've got to go to a fundraiser now. Would you guy's mind coming back this evening? It's also funny that he would say, "would you mind". Here we were, this is the kind of thing we'd kill for, and he's saying would you mind coming back.
So we came back that evening for a couple of hours, and then the next day for two or three hours. It wasn't fiddling around with commas and clauses, it was really arguing out the main issues.
And his style of listening is, and different people listen different ways. Shultz who is a world-class listener, really is, Shultz's style though is you really don't know what he's hearing and what he isn't hearing. You only know three months later when he says, by the way what you said, or he pulls out a fact that you gave him.
Bush's style is to say "what I think you're saying is the following", and then it will often go into, "I don't understand this," or "I don't think what you're saying could be explained convincingly to the public." That's always in his mind.
I remember our first briefing on the defense program. I take responsibility. I told Zakheim to produce typical kinds of defense comptroller charts that showed spending patterns over umpteen years. We started on the charts and the governor kept saying, basically what do we have an Army for? What do we have armed forces for? He apologized. He said forgive me for asking this but why do we? And he came back I think two or three times, each time sort of feeling as though he was interrupting the flow of the briefing which in a way he was, but he was actually doing exactly the right thing.
Clearly what was in his mind was you're going to tell me about how we spend all this money. I would like to know first how I explain to the public why we so much money and what we get for it. That was clearly what was being built into that sort of question.
Q: Particularly with the Cold War being over and --
Wolfowitz: Exactly. I shouldn't say exactly. I think that was a major part of what was in his mind. You guys seem to be assuming that this is the way things are. I come from a place where people don't take it for granted. And he'll keep going that way. I think that's a part of what keeps him engaged with these discussions is he doesn't just sit and listen.
The longest session I remember was Labor Day weekend in the campaign when he got his traditional CIA briefing. They always give the candidate an intelligence briefing. It's partly a ritual but there's real substance in it. I think it went on for four hours. I thought after two or three he might kick them out, but he was still asking questions right to the end.
Q: Did you talk about Iraq?
Wolfowitz: [Laughter] Did we talk about Iraq? A very interesting question. I don't remember it being in the briefing. There was a lot about Russia, there was a lot about China, there was a lot about missiles, various countries, and I even remember at that point he made a comment which I thought honestly was very perceptive because this was really his first exposure to a formal intelligence briefing and they can be very intimidating because the graphics are wonderful and some of the detail is just ingenious. But he said at one point, look, I know Paul and Condy care a lot -- we were the two who were there -- care a lot about the exact range of these missiles, but I care much more about what these people are thinking, what's in their mail, who's advising them. And he didn't say it, he was very polite, but the clear message was you're much better at telling me the range of missiles than you are at telling me how people are thinking.
I think to pick that up on your first intelligence briefing, a lot of people don't pick it up -- We have these dazzling technical systems which in fact can give you precise North Korean missile ranges, but it's very very hard to know what Kim Il Sung thinks and --
Q: Briefers say? Did they say we'll do better next time? Did they say --
Wolfowitz: It was so polite I'm not even sure they knew it was a criticism. [Laughter]
Actually, I do think they acknowledge that that stuff is much harder to get at. It is much harder to get at.
But just to digress from this for a second, there's a classic joke about the drunk who's looking for his keys under a lamp post because that's where the light is even though he lost them down the block. And we sometimes get in that danger. We have, I've noticed here in this department where we have these powerful tools for doing quantitative analysis of military systems but often the most important things you need to evaluate aren't easily quantified and those tools are like the light, misleading.
I think the same thing can be true of our technical intelligence collectors, which are fantastic. You wouldn't want to do without them. But there is a tendency when you have them to start thinking that's where all the answers are.
Q: I want to just follow up on one thing we talked about the last time which was if you'd ever considered serving in the military. And I wondered since your reputation is as one of the administration "hawks" if you'd ever felt that was something held against you by those in the administration who are in the military or were in the military, or whether you ever felt it was in any way a disadvantage?
Wolfowitz: No. I actually would like to have had the experience. The truth is my father, after Pearl Harbor, tried to volunteer for the Navy and when they discovered he had mathematical technical skills they said no, go and join the statistical research group at Columbia, which he did. Which was the group that sort of pioneered operations research and they made some of the breakthroughs on developing submarine search patterns, optimum mixes of anti-aircraft artillery shells, and also some actually fundamental breakthroughs in statistical analysis. It's a very famous group. It included Allen Wallace and Milton Freidman and my father who later became a fairly well known statistician.
So his view was if they're giving you a student deferment it's in the national interest and you should stay with it, and I guess that was part of what -- I would have had to rebel against my father to do it. If we ever had that kind of situation again I think one would really have to ask about the way in which we went into that war with a draft that was so uneven.
But in answer to your basic question, I've always felt that the military respects civilian authority, they understand why it's there, they don't question your credentials. They do have, put a pretty high premium on your listening to them and paying attention to them. And they do think, and I think fairly enough, that there are certain areas that ought to be left to the military to decide and sometimes that boundary line can become a matter of real controversy.
But I would also say I think we've probably matured as a country over the last 50 years and what I saw in the lead up to the Gulf War ten years ago was what I think a military who said -- and Powell I think gets a lot of credit for this. He was the leader of the military at that time. Mr. President, we will give you the options straight, we won't tell you things can't be done when they can be done. We won't tell you they're more difficult than they are. But we're not going to be the ones who make the decision to go to war. It's got to be your decision and it was. It was a civilian decision. I think that's the right --
Q: You mentioned Vietnam, the unevenness of the draft. Did you mean that if anything like that happened in the future maybe we should look at college deferments being curtailed so everyone --
Wolfowitz: I don't know. We are very committed, and I think properly so, to an all-volunteer force now. And it works magnificently well.
Q: But clearly the middle and upper classes were able to get college deferments. I think that's the view most people have, and that the poor in the country did most of the fighting or carried the load.
Wolfowitz: I think actually if you look at the statistics it turns out it's not that way, but that was the perception. There were an awful lot of middle class people who either volunteered or were drafted. But it was a kind of a random thing. You ended up I think with people evading in various ways. I suppose that's always a problem with a draft but it seems to me it was worse back then.
Q: You mentioned the lead up to the Gulf War. Just to be clear, during the Gulf War were you at the time in favor of going on with it and taking on Saddam?
Q: Coming back. [Laughter]
Q: Or was it something you thought about later?
Wolfowitz: Going into that war we anticipated a much more difficult time than we encountered. Much heavier casualties. And it seemed prudent to think about limited objectives. We also quite consciously thought about what happens when in the flush of success people overreach. The classic mistake is MacArthur after Inchon, which was a great military coup, goes marching up to the Yalu River and produces a great military disaster out of over confidence.
But by the eve of the end of the war, and not much earlier, when it became clear not only that we were incredibly more successful than we had anticipated, and also that he was collapsing in a way that was much greater than anticipated, then you had the question of well, you've struck a snake and if you leave him alive he can bite again.
The people who were clearest about this, I think interestingly, were the Saudis. I remember going with Secretary Baker on his first trip to the region right after the war ended, it must have been at most three days after. It was around March 1st of 1991, and his first meeting in Saudi Arabia was with the Saudi foreign minister and the Saudi ambassador to the United States, both of who told him the most important thing is to get rid of Saddam Hussein. We're not afraid of the Shiia of Iraq. For one thing they're Arabs, they're not Persians. They went on for almost half an hour.
It has later appeared in history books erroneously that we stopped because the Saudis told us to stop, but that was not the case.
But those judgments always had to be colored by what you thought was achievable, what you thought the costs were. But toward the end I think -- I felt at the time there were things we could accomplish if we pressed hard. But that doesn't mean occupying Baghdad. That's always been a straw man. I don't think we ever should have thought about doing that.
Q: You mentioned the last time as we were leaving that you were --
Wolfowitz: No more Iraq questions. Laughter]
Q: No more Iraq -- [Laughter]
Q: Churchill and Lincoln were your heroes. What lessons have you taken from them and applied to what you're facing now?
Wolfowitz: Oh God, being heroes means they're on a different plane, I think that really is the first thing.
They're quite different, obviously, and in some ways Lincoln is the more remarkable figure because he came out of nowhere and studied Shakespeare and the Bible and produced some of the greatest rhetoric in the English language. It's really amazing.
No, I just -- I am in awe of them. I'm not sure -- I think they both illustrate something, Churchill in a way more than Lincoln, which is that it really makes a difference to dig into the details of things and to understand them in some depth. But the truth is I think there are very few people who have to lead at that level, who can manage to dig into the complexity and still keep things, keep the simple things clear.
I think leadership at that level requires a certain ability to, a great ability for clarity and therefore for simplicity. To be able to produce clarity and simplicity out of a complex understanding is very very difficult to do. I mean intellectuals typically just show you how complicated a problem is. These two men understood how complicated problems were, but they could nonetheless make them clear and simple.
And at the risk of, well no introductory apology. I really have been very lucky in my career in working for first Shultz then Cheney then Rumsfeld, each of whom, although they're very different, especially temperamentally very different, especially Rumsfeld temperamentally from the other two. [Laughter] But each one of them capable of digging in great detail and very potently. They're very smart, but it's more than just smart. They can work a problem very hard and understand it very well, and then when they're done they can deal with it at a level that statesmen have to deal with it and present it to presidents in a way that presidents can understand it.
I guess I've seen that quality in [inaudible] who I've gotten to know from -- But it's a very high level of integration, of detail with the broad picture. It's hard to do. I've been privileged to work for each of them for that reason.
Q: Has your background come in handy in any way?
Wolfowitz: It comes in handy here. First of all, because the mysteries of the so-called program, planning, budget system are a lot less mysterious when you realize it isn't even simple calculus, it's more advanced arithmetic. [Laughter] And secondly because a lot of the substance that we deal with has a technical quality to it. It wasn't just math, actually, I had a lot of hard science.
So you develop a certain over-confidence if you ask the right questions you'll at least have a crude understanding of what's really going on. I think that's useful.
I do think -- Math is very good intellectual training in certain ways and very bad in others. The bad part is that you tend toward abstraction and the things we deal with especially, even more when you move from the purely defense stuff into the foreign policy stuff, there's a concreteness about every problem you deal with and there may be a principle that applies to both cases but knowing the case -- At the end of the day foreign policy is all case by case. The principles are important, I think they're very important, but you have to be able to understand the concreteness. Hopefully I've learned some of that in the other part of my education. I think it's important.
Q: You mentioned earlier that you could do Rich Armitage's job, he could do your job. There was talk early on at the Bush election that you were going to go to State and Armitage would come here. Can you go back and discuss how you ended up here and --
Wolfowitz: Because Rumsfeld offered me the job. Very simple.
I think there was a lot of talent in that group that could have ended up in all kinds of places.
Q: Can you give us a sense of what he said to you when he said I want you for X reason or I want you to look into this or that or this is what you bring to the table, or this is what I want you to handle --
Wolfowitz: We had a long discussion, which I think --
Q: -- was one of the big --
Wolfowitz: It definitely was. We talked a lot about both what the substance of his job would be and different ways in which a deputy could help him get it done.
Q: Can you shed any light on the particulars of that? Working on the Hill as opposed to --
Wolfowitz: There's a certain inside/outside. Deputies work on the inside and secretaries of Defense work on the outside. The truth of the matter is Rumsfeld works on anything that's interesting. It's probably in some ways -- the only one I've seen up close was Cheney and his Deputy Atwood. There was a pretty distinct division of labor. Atwood did certain things that Cheney didn't pay much attention to, and that is not the way Rumsfeld and I work. It's much more closely intermingled. But he does, he does press conferences, I do them only occasionally.
Q: Does he like to have his fingers in everything pretty much?
Wolfowitz: He's very, he does. He is the energizer bunny that keeps things going.
You've probably heard that one of the, it's not a secret to talk about snowflakes is it? Something I have learned from him, though I can't keep up with him, is the use of the dictaphone. You go into him and you'll give him an idea or ask him a question and before you know it he's picked up the dictaphone. He's talking to it as though he were talking to somebody on the phone and out comes this reasonably clear memo which he will then edit, but sometimes it doesn't even need a lot of editing. I've sort of learned how to do that. But he, the result is a constant flow of memos to his staff, hence the term snowflakes. Do this, do that, have you thought about this. And he moves things constantly. It's a very high level of activity
Q: When he offered you the job, did you have to think twice about it?
Wolfowitz: Not at that point, no. It was very much what I wanted to do.
And I'm happy to say this, too. When I saw him at his confirmation testimony and I saw how good he was, I said I'm really glad I'm your number two. It felt very good to be backing up somebody of that quality, and even more so since September 11th.