DoD News Briefing 15 Jan Rumsfeld And Gen. Myers
NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense
DoD News Briefing
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
(Also participating was Gen. Richard B. Myers, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff)
Rumsfeld: Good afternoon. After United Nations (U.N.) inspectors briefed the Security Council last week, a number of the observers seemed to seize on the inspectors' statement that they found "no smoking gun" as yet. Conversely, if the inspectors had found new evidence, the argument might then have been that inspections were in fact working and, therefore, they should be given more time to work. I guess for any who are unalterably opposed to military action, no matter what Iraq may do, there will be some sort of an argument.
Another way to look at it is this; that the fact that the inspectors have not yet come up with new evidence of Iraq's WMD program could be evidence in and of itself of Iraq's non-cooperation. We do know that Iraq has designed its programs in a way that they can proceed in an environment of inspections, and that they are skilled at denial and deception.
The president has repeatedly made clear -- and it bears repeating -- that the burden of proof is not on the United States, it's not on the United Nations or the international community to prove that Iraq has these weapons. The burden of proof is on the Iraqi regime to prove that it is disarming, and to show the inspectors where the weapons are.
As the president said, "The inspectors do not have the duty or the ability to uncover weapons hidden in a vast country. The responsibility of inspectors can only be to confirm the evidence of voluntary and total disarmament by a cooperative country. It is Saddam Hussein who has the responsibility to provide that evidence, as directed and in full." Unquote.
Thus far, he has been unwilling to do so. We continue to hope that the regime will change course and that Iraq will disarm peacefully and voluntarily. No one wants war. The choice between war and peace will not be made in Washington or, indeed, in New York; it will be made in Baghdad. And the decision is facing the Iraqi regime.
This is a test for them, to be sure, but it is also a test for the U.N.. The credibility of that institution is important. Iraq has defied some 16 U.N. resolutions without cost or consequence. The Security Council unanimously approved a new resolution, which required that Iraq, quote, "provide a currently accurate, full and complete declaration," unquote, of its WMD programs, which asserted that any false statement or omissions in the declaration submitted by Iraq shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq's obligations, and which declared that this was Iraq's final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations, unquote. That is what the resolution said.
When the U.N, makes a statement like that, it puts its credibility on the line. To understand what's at stake, it's worth recalling the history of the U.N.'s predecessor, the League of Nations. The league collapsed because member states were not willing to back up their declarations with consequences. When the league failed to act after the invasion of Abyssinia, it was discredited. And the lesson of that experience was summed up by Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King, who declared at that time, quote: "Collective bluffing cannot bring about collective security," unquote. The lesson is as true today as it was at the start -- as it was back in the 20th century. The question is the -- whether or not the world has learned that lesson.
Myers: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And good afternoon.
I'd like to begin by speaking briefly of Iraq's recruitment of human shields and the International Law of Armed Conflict.
As many of you know from news reports in Reuters and AFP, the London Observer, and in many other newspapers around the world, Iraq announced in late December that it will recruit and receive volunteers from Arab and Western countries to serve as human shields who would be deployed to protect sensitive sites. This is a deliberate recruitment of innocent civilians for the purpose of putting them in harm's way should a conflict occur. The last time Iraq used people as human shields was in December of 1998, when Iraq failed to comply with U.N. arms experts and coalition forces began Operation Desert Fox. A year earlier, the Iraqi encouraged hundreds of Iraqi families to put themselves at risk as voluntary human shields at palaces and strategic facilities in Iraq when Iraq refused to allow U.N. inspectors access to government sites.
I'd like to note that it is illegal under the international law of armed conflict to use non-combatants as a means of shielding potential targets. And Iraq action to do so would not only violate this law, but also be considered a war crime in any conflict. Therefore, if death or serious injury to a non-combatant resulted from these efforts, the individuals responsible for deploying any innocent civilians as human shields would be guilty of grave breaches of the Geneva Convention.
Let me also give you a quick update on where we stand with the Iraqi opposition training. Several hundred U.S. Army trainers arrived in Hungary late last week to prepare for the training of Iraqi opposition who have volunteered for possible action in Iraq. The training task force led by Major General Dave Barno is located at Taszar Air Base in Hungary. He is there to coordinate with the Hungarian Ministry of Defense prior to the arrival of any potential volunteers. And I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly thank our friends in Hungary for use of their facilities. The use of Taszar Air Base emphasizes a rather long-standing relationship between the U.S. and Hungary, and we thank them very much.
And with that, we'll take your questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary, NATO officials said today in Brussels that the United States has now formally asked NATO for support in any possible conflict with Iraq, in such areas as, oh, the possible use of bases, refueling, and -- and other non-combat areas: air support, that kind of thing, perhaps refueling. And that also -- that you want NATO to provide some help to -- and support for Turkey, perhaps protection from Scud attack. I wonder if you might comment on that, on -- on the request --
Rumsfeld: Well, sure. We were asked when we were over there for the -- I guess the Prague meeting what -- by NATO nations what role anyone might envisage for NATO, and we responded that we'd be happy to come back to them. And the U.S. ambassador to NATO did in fact recently go in to the North Atlantic Council and say that here are a series of things that might or might not be appropriate, and opened that dialogue.
In any case, obviously, we have to begin with the fact that the president has made no decision to use force. But it does take time to plan. And just as we're planning with individual countries, it seemed appropriate to, to the extent NATO wished to, to begin that planning process. And there were various things like force protection, and as you point out, some others, including AWACS and a number of things that apparently are under consideration.
Q: So these would be non-combat -- this would be non-direct combat support?
Rumsfeld: I wouldn't prejudge it.
Q: And how about -- how about security support from Turkey?
Rumsfeld: I guess the definition of what is or is not combat is one problem in answering that question. And, of course, we already know that there are countries that have indicated they want to participate individually in ways that I think would be characterized as combat.
Q: How about support from Turkey? How about --
Rumsfeld: Well, Turkey is a member of NATO.
Q: How about security support from Turkey?
Rumsfeld: Sure. Turkey is a member of NATO, and if there's a conflict in that part of the world, that's an appropriate issue for them to address.
Q: Secretary, when you began today, even though you said you didn't --
Rumsfeld: Do you mean at 5:00 this morning, or began with you today?
Q: No, sir. At the moment, about five or six minutes ago --
Rumsfeld: I see.
Q: -- as you began here today, the explicit, even though you didn't go on to law school, as you said, you sounded very much to this reporter like a prosecutor building a good case for war. And there are some so-called pundits or experts inside the Beltway who are saying now that America has gone so far down the road to war that it's too late to turn back. Do you believe that? And if not, is there a point where we would be so far down the road we couldn't turn back?
Then I have a question for General Myers.
Rumsfeld: No, I don't -- I don't think that's the case at all. I think the president has been determined that the Iraqi regime disarms. And how that is to happen, it could happen because the Iraqi regime decides to do that; it could happen because the Iraqi president leaves the country; it could happen for -- in a variety of ways other than war.
Q: Do you have any indication that Saddam Hussein might be willing to leave the country?
Rumsfeld: No! He does not consult with me on things like that. (Laughter.)
Q: And a follow-up for General Myers --
Myers: Before we finish, let me just -- can I tack onto the back, Ivan, on that question?
Certainly from a military perspective, there is no point of no return. I mean, I think the secretary's talking in a very broad context; but in just a limited military context, there is no point where, you know, and we can't adjust one way or the other depending on what the president wants us to do.
Q: May I follow up on what you said earlier about training Iraqis --
Rumsfeld: We've got to spread this around a little bit.
Q: Well, I said at the beginning I had one question. He'd like to ask General Myers a question. I mean, I'll defer, if you prefer, but he just wanted to follow up what he said about training the Iraqi dissidents. How many, and what kind of training?
Myers: How many remains to be seen. They're gathering volunteers right now. And what else are you -- what kind of training? The training is going to be right now scheduled for about 30 days; the real basic training so they could potentially fit in with some U.S. units and provide assistance with language skills, perhaps local knowledge and so forth, if that were required. But the numbers are to be determined.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: I was just going to ask the same question. Is any of that in any sense fighting forces that you're training? Or is it just enabling --
Myers: It could be. It could be. And we're going to have to see, you know, how many finally show up, how much time we have. Of course, when you get into the more complex training, it takes longer. And so, we'll just have to see.
Rumsfeld: How much prior training they have.
Myers: How much --
Q: General Myers?
Rumsfeld: How much prior training they have, yeah.
Myers: The kind of volunteers you get, yeah.
Myers: Because they're coming from all -- I mean, presumably, they're coming from all walks of life. Some have had prior military experience, some have not had any experience.
Q: General Myers, I really wanted to ask you -- the first question I wanted to ask you was your reference in your opening statement to the shields, these human shields. As you mentioned, this was announced by Iraq in December. I'm wondering what -- why you'd mention this today as something that you've learned; that they are proceeding with this or already started to do this? Or --
Myers: No, I didn't say -- just trying to -- when I saw it in the paper, truth is, I said, "I think we ought to say something publicly about this," and today was the day we decided to do it. Just limited -- you know, we come out about once a week, and this was in the queue to come out.
Q: What are U.S. forces prepared to do if in fact that tactic is used?
Rumsfeld: Well, I think this is a big crowd. You may want to hold it down to one or two questions, but --
Q: I'd like to hear the answer to that. (Laughter.)
Q: Yeah, it's a good question.
Rumsfeld: So would I. (Laughter.)
Q: Bring it on!
Q: That's to you, General.
Myers: The question is, what would we do in case of human shields?
Q: What would you -- how would you deal with that kind of a problem?
Myers: Well, I -- you know, it's going to get into the specifics of each situation. And I think there will be some situations where military necessity, if it's a case of defending your -- the friendly forces, that you'd have to take action, probably. And there are other cases where, if you can avoid it, you would, of course. You know, the object is clearly to not engage noncombatants. That is clearly the way we'd like to do it.
I think in many cases, as we read in the paper, you might not know where there are noncombatants. And so that would be clearly up to the Iraqi regime. That would be on their hands, certainly not on ours.
Q: But for the cases where you could -- where you would actually --
Myers: Well, I don't know. It's -- it really gets into the hypothetical. And the inherent right of self-defense is always the guiding light, and the other -- or guiding statement. But the other issue is, you know, we're not into killing. I mean, that's -- that, I think, is one thing that separates us from the al Qaeda, certainly from the Iraq regime, from the newspaper reports -- is that we don't want to take on civilian populations, we don't want to take on noncombatants, and we'd take every measure to avoid doing that.
Q: Thank you.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you talked about Iraqis are skilled at denial and deception. Wouldn't it make sense for the inspectors to burrow into the concealment mechanisms of the regime, particularly its special security organization, going into their headquarters? That apparently hasn't been done yet. Is that something you think they should be doing?
Rumsfeld: I tell you, I'm not inclined to give advice to the inspectors. We're giving assistance. We're providing intelligence assistance. We're giving sites that they ought to look at -- the Central Intelligence Agency is. And I'm so distant from what they're actually doing on the ground that for me to be telling them what they ought to be doing...
The one thing I will say is what we've said from the beginning and which is in their resolution: we do continue to believe that it's terribly important for them to take people, knowledgeable people -- scientists, technicians, people who have been in involved in weapons of mass destruction programs -- and get them out of the country, with their families, so that they can speak honestly and tell the truth, because the success that inspectors have had in the past is not as finders, not as discoverers, not running around peeking under every rock, but by talking to knowledgeable people, defectors, people who will talk to them, and then being cued as to where they can, in fact, go find something. And it strikes me that if that was the magic formula the last time, it's very likely to be the formula this time that would work.
Q: Mr. Secretary, in your opening remarks you didn't really say so specifically, but it sounded like you would rule out any suggestion from inspectors that they'd like months more to continue their work.
Rumsfeld: That's not a call for me; that's a call for the president.
Q: But from your opening remarks, it sounds like you're saying that basically if Iraq has not made a voluntary statement, then it's time to call a halt to (inaudible).
Rumsfeld: I don't find that in there. In my remarks I find nothing that suggests what you're talking about.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: General Myers, I wanted to ask you a couple of military perspective questions about North Korea. What military significance, if any, do you see in their recent increased patrols and movements in the demilitarized zone (DMZ)? Similarly, what military significance to them accelerating their winter training cycle? And thirdly, as a matter of prudent planning, which one can only assume you and the secretary do all the time, what progress in reviewing military options for North Korea if and when to be ready should the president ask you?
Myers: The last one will be real easy because I'm not going to get into any -- much detail on that. But as you said, you would expect the secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the whole Department of Defense community to be working all sorts of contingencies for various situations, and you can be assured that's happening.
In terms of the DMZ and the winter training cycle, I don't -- I don't see issues with either of those that would tell me that North Korea is on a different footing today than they were, let's say, 30 days ago. We know this is the most intensive time of training for them. That's always the winter training cycle where they conduct the majority of their training, their most intensive training. And so, as we watch that, which we do every year, we see that proceeding apace.
The incidents in the DMZ, I think, are related to other issues, perhaps, that have to do with authorities in the DMZ and so forth and do not have to do with the current issue with their nuclear programs.
Q: But to be clear, you are doing prudent military planning vis-a-vis North Korea?
Myers: You said it; you would expect us to do that. And that's, we do that -- and we were doing that before North Korea declared that it was not going to be part of the Nonproliferation Treaty, and we are continuing.
Rumsfeld: Been doing it for years.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you've said many times from the podium here that you'd like to see Saddam Hussein just pack up and leave Iraq and it would be a nice thing for everybody. If that indeed happened and someone else in the regime stepped up to take over, and they continued to say that they didn't have weapons of mass destruction, would the situation change at all?
Rumsfeld: Indeed, it would. The -- were that the case, then we'd be exactly where we are now, just with a different leader. If a new -- if somebody takes over that country, whether because Saddam Hussein leaves, or because he's displaced by somebody in that country, or somebodies, plural, the same principles that we've indicated would pertain. Number one, we would expect the ability to get in on the ground and assure that weapons of mass destruction have been located and destroyed. And that the new government would agree that it would not have weapons of mass destruction, that it would not threaten its neighbors, that it would maintain a single country and not divide it up into parts, whether ethnically or religiously, and that it would have put in place a process so that to -- there would be a path towards something like representative government, so that there would be assurances for the elements within that country that they would be able to participate in the governing of that country. No particular template or formula. We're not talking about U.S.-style democracy. We're -- look what's happened in Afghanistan with the loya jirga - it's distinctive to that country. So it would -- my guess is that what I've just said is probably what would happen.
Q: Wouldn't that significantly delay things, trying to figure out if this new person was potentially willing to let that happen?
Rumsfeld: I wouldn't think so. I wouldn't think so.
Q: General Myers, I have a question about Iraq's air defenses. Every so often a story comes out saying that the hits in the south are somehow degrading their entire air defense system. Can you give us a reality check on the density and sophistication of the central region's air defense systems, the level of effort that would be needed to take that down if, in fact, the president decided to go to war, and what impact, if any, these various strikes in the South would have on that more dense system in the central region?
Myers: Okay, I'll try to do that here in just a brief statement.
For the last many years, Iraq has tried to build considerable redundancy in its air defense system, particularly in the command and control arena. And those are some of the targets that you see being hit in the South. Those are the fiber optic cable repeater stations, some of the air defense command and control facilities, trying to take those down. Like I said, they're fairly redundant, so you -- there are lots of targets in that target set.
The air defenses around Baghdad remain formidable. They have the same surface-to-air missiles that they've had for some time. We think they've even upgraded some on their own, they've tried some experiments on their own. And they have a fairly large number of early warning radars and such. On the other hand, they're in a fairly finite area, if you will. They're around the Baghdad area, and they're dealt with appropriately in the war plan.
Q: To be clear, though, the attacks in the South, though, would have minimal to no impact on those areas around Baghdad? That would take a different level of effort?
Myers: Well, I think, you know, it's all part of the same command and control network. This is a network that's throughout the country that connects the early warning radars in the South and their capability to engage in the South with anti-aircraft fire or with missiles that might deploy down there; same in the North -- it connects all that, and so it would have an effect on it. And we think it has, actually.
Q: Mr. Secretary, the largest teamster local in your hometown, Chicago, held an anti-war organizing meeting over the weekend. About 110 officers from labor unions around the country attended and they raised $30,000 in a day to form a group called U.S. Labor Against War. And they say that -- and the reason the local did that was because they say there's such overwhelming opposition in their union to any war. And they say that they're a conservative union -- truck drivers, UPS people, delivery people -- but that the average working guy in the union just doesn't quite understand -- and it's their brothers and sisters, children, who would go -- who would fight a war -- just don't understand, given that it wasn't Iraq that attacked us in 9/11, and they say the president just has not made a case the average person can understand why we need to attack them.
I'm just wondering what your thoughts are.
Rumsfeld: Well, I guess what I would say is that the president made a case that Iraq should disarm that was persuasive to the Congress, and they voted overwhelmingly to support him.
Second, he made a case at the United Nations that the inspectors should return, and the other stipulations, some of which I cited here this afternoon. And it was a unanimous vote in the United Nations Security Council -- 15 to 0.
The president has not made a case for going to war because he has not made such a decision. So one ought not to be surprised that, in fact, there are people who look at the situation and may come to a conclusion that that case hasn't been made at this point. And I think that's a fair comment. And that view on the part of the individuals you cited is part of our democratic system. That's part of our Constitution -- free speech for people to say what they think.
Q: Mr. Secretary, your British opposite number has been taking some heat today over the decision to give permission for the Fylingdales radar base to be used as part of your missile defense system. You've outlined in the past how this should benefit the U.S., but what does Britain get out of it?
Rumsfeld: I think that I have probably, if not always, almost always, avoided describing how missile defense could benefit the U.S. In fact, we dropped the phrase "national missile defense." We talk about missile defense. Because what's "national" depends on where you live, and what's "theater" and what's "strategic" depends on where you live and where our forces are. We have forces in Europe; we care about them. We have allies and friends in Europe, and we care about them. And the missile defense program that's been outlined is, in large part, been a research and development and a demonstration program, a testing program. It's now moving to the next phase, where it will begin to put in place a test-bed that could be used to provide some very preliminary capabilities in some period of years.
And to the extent other countries recognize the growing ballistic missile threat and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And if anyone wants a visible recent example, look at what North Korea's doing with respect to the possible production of additional nuclear weapons. Here's the world's biggest proliferator of ballistic missile technology; if it ends up with additional nuclear weapons, it might very well be in the business of proliferating them to other countries.
Now, every country in the world has their own right to make their judgments about that. And we've worked closely with a number of countries, including the United Kingdom. And I think that anybody -- any country that is involved with this evolving preliminary testing capability -- I don't want to overstate it -- clearly ought to have an interest in to what extent it might conceivably provide some ballistic missile for them. And one can be sure that countries that do participate will participate because it will in fact, as it evolves, provide them somewhat higher levels of security than they would otherwise have.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you talked at the beginning about how you need to be prepared and in position for military action, and that was your explanation for your consultations with NATO. I wonder if you could extend that to the deployment issue a bit. You've signed a number of deployment orders in the last few weeks. How are you thinking about how urgent it is to get large numbers of forces deployed there, versus what issues might arise if they end up having to wait a long time?
Rumsfeld: Well, you know, there's no perfect model for what we're trying to do. What we're trying to do is to support the diplomacy. And the process of working -- the State Department sent out, you know, three or four or five dozen cables asking for countries that are interested in cooperating and getting involved in the planning process so that in the event force has to be used, that planning will have taken place. The same thing's true with NATO. We are proceeding to flow forces in an orderly way. We're doing some herding, we're doing some mobilizing, and we're doing some deploying.
We also recognize that the timing of the decision-making is not in our hands. So what we have to do is to try to do what we're doing in a way that gives the president and the world options to use force if, in fact, that becomes necessary, while at the same time recognizing that you -- one can't pick a date certain, or even a time frame certain. And, therefore, what you must do is also have back-up plans so that you don't overstress the force and that you manage it in a way that's appropriate. And we're doing the very best we can. And so far, so good.
Yes. Way in the back.
Q: How close are you to the point where you'll need to go to Congress for supplemental funding to deal with the costs of these movements?
Rumsfeld: Well, I have my opinion, and the executive branch, the White House and the OMB are currently wrestling with my opinion and the opinion of other agencies that are in a similar circumstance.
There's no question but that if you think back, we asked for an additional $10 billion for the global war on terrorism, excluding anything involving Iraq. The Congress didn't decide to provide that. Therefore, our budget was passed absent that $10 billion, even though the global war on terrorism is going on. It involves forces in the United States, force protection overseas, a variety of things are going on, as you know, in six, eight countries.
Now, what does all that mean? It means that we are -- we've gone through October, we've gone through November, gone through December, we're now going through January. That's four months. That's roughly a third of a year, if my memory serves me correctly. And what do you do? You're conducting the government's business, the business of our country, at the request of the Congress and the president, and you're doing it without having your budget approved for those particular activities: the global war on terrorism. Nor, despite the resolution in the Congress on Iraq, have we received funds for the Iraq component of the global war on terrorism, which is a part of it.
That means that we're robbing Peter to pay Paul. It's a terrible way to manage your affairs. I think it was a mistake that we didn't have the $10 billion approved. We knew we were going to spend it. We knew the global war on terrorism wasn't going to go away. And yet it wasn't approved. So that means we need a supplement. And the question is, when do you need it? Well, obviously, we shouldn't have needed it because it should have been appropriated in the first place. Therefore, every month that goes by, you're robbing Peter to pay Paul in a way that's not good management practice, it's not good business practice, and it's not something that we like to do. And there is a point where you can't do it anymore.
Q: How much?
Rumsfeld: It's up to the president.
Q: Give us a sneak preview.
How about you?
Rumsfeld: Oh, I wouldn't think of it.
Q: Mr. Secretary, could you tell us how much you've spent so far on these deployments, approximately? Any guesstimate of how much --
Rumsfeld: I could, but I'm not going to. You know, it is so approximate, and then we'd have to disaggregate things that are Iraq-related from things that are global war on terrorism directly related; that piece, although they're all connected, this particular spike in spending and activity, clearly, as an element of the global war on terrorism, is something that's distinctive. And trying to try to do that from this podium, I think would not be useful. My -- full stop.
Q: Oh, please! Please! (Laughter.)
Q: Considering your opening statement that the lack of a smoking gun, or Blix's statement about that could be evidence in and of itself of Iraqi non-cooperation, which if I understand the U.N. resolution correctly, a finding of Iraqi non-cooperation itself could be a trigger for war, is that an argument that the United States is advancing now, or planning to advance in the near future, is my first question.
My second question is --
Rumsfeld: Let me just do one at a time.
Rumsfeld: It's late in the day.
First, the resolution itself, as I recall it, said that the Iraqis were in violation, material breach. They said that they're required to submit a declaration, and in the event it is not accurate, that that would be a further -- I think was the phrase -- material breach. And they submitted a declaration, which people who have looked at it and read it, including, I believe, Mr. Blix, have characterized as something less than fulsome.
The next thing is, they're continuing to shoot at our aircraft, as General Myers has stated. To the extent they then, in terms of looking at their behavior with inspectors, behave in a way that is not disclosing, not allowing everything to be seen, not coming forward and asking to be inspected and being willing to disarm, one would assume that the resolution -- somebody, sometime, will conclude that that's still a further breach.
Now, what does that mean? At what point -- how many further breaches is the U.N. going to want? How many further breaches is the United States going to want? That's not for me to decide. Our task here is to be prepared to provide options for the president.
Q: Mr. Secretary, whether or not --
Q: Mr. Secretary, on the question that - getting back to the question of aid from NATO. Could I ask you to elaborate on the things, the elements besides AWACS that are under consideration? And I was wondering, among those, which do we want the most? Which do we need the most? Can you speak to that at all?
Rumsfeld: I could, but I don't think I will. The discussions are in the very preliminary stage. The things that are being discussed are the logical things that would be discussed by the 19 members of NATO. They're the same things being discussed with other countries, all the Partners for Peace and countries that are involved in NATO at all.
Q: (Off mike) -- AWACS, I wonder if you would --
Rumsfeld: I thought I mentioned AWACS, but I don't mean to exclude or include anything; it's just the normal things that those countries that have those capabilities would make a judgment about. And at such an early stage, I think to suggest, gee, we asked for this or something, we didn't. We were asked to -- somebody, military people, were asked to come up with ideas as to what are the kinds of things that NATO might do. Various people did, not just from our country, and those are the kinds of things that are now being discussed and elaborated on.
Q: Mr. Secretary, to go back to the question of missile defense, the Russian defense minister suggested today that his country was going to go ahead with its own anti-missile program.
Rumsfeld: It already has one.
Q: Do you feel --
Rumsfeld: It has a ballistic missile defense --
Q: -- (off mike)?
Rumsfeld: No, it has one in place. It has a missile defense program around Moscow with nuclear-tipped interceptors, has for decades.
Q: But a further system like ours, with theater mid-course and long range?
Rumsfeld: The Russians look at the world, just like we do, and they see countries that are developing longer-range ballistic missiles. They see the proliferation of chemical and biological and nuclear capabilities to countries that it is extremely worrisome that they have them.
Myers: And as you know, we've had missile defense exercise with them. I think we've done at least two now, and we have one more in the planning stages. I think there have been some planning conferences here in the United States with the Russians on that. And we've also offered to work with them on some of the technical aspects of missile defense as well.
Q: Mr. Secretary, whether or not there is a war, will you say -- will Saddam Hussein still be in power a year from today?
Rumsfeld: Oh, my goodness. That's not for me to say. I think that -- I can take you through a logic -- a brief logic chain. He is a vicious dictator who is repressing his people. He has had in the past weapons of mass destruction, and he used them against his own people, and he used them against his neighbors. He's fired ballistic missiles at two, three or four countries in the past. He has challenged the legitimacy of most of his neighbors at one time or another. He has demonstrated in the past an unwillingness to cooperate with 16 U.N. resolutions.
The United Nations has now said that they want him to disarm and they want him to reveal his weapons of mass destruction capabilities to the inspectors. I think the -- if you drop a plumb line through everything that's happened since the passage of that latest resolution, one would have to conclude that he has not been forthcoming.
What will happen next, I can't say. That's well above my pay grade.
Q: You seem to be indicating --
Rumsfeld: But the president of the United States did take the time yesterday, I believe, to say something like, quote, "time is running," unquote.
Q: You seem to be indicating, from your opening comments, that somehow the world is not seeing this quite the way that you want them to see it.
Rumsfeld: Don't mean to do that. It's not --
Q: Do you think the world does see it the way the U.S. is presenting it --
Rumsfeld: I don't know. I don't know.
Q: -- and that the world doesn't need a smoking gun? I mean, the argument you are making is, don't look for a smoking gun; it's probably -- it's not necessary.
Rumsfeld: Well, I --
Q: But the world keeps talking about "Well, we need some evidence. We need some" --
Rumsfeld: Well, the world doesn't talk. The media talks, and people talk.
Q: Various leaders of various governments --
Rumsfeld: Yes, yes. Let me go back to what's been going on up on the Hill. They have been trying to connect the dots about September 11th. What did somebody know? How did it happen? Was there some way to stop and save the lives of those 3,000 people?
In the case of Iraq, the task is to connect the dots before there's a smoking gun. If there's a smoking gun, and it involves weapons of mass destruction, it is a lot of people dead, not 3,000, but multiples of that.
And that is what the world is going through. The world is doing it at a time in a new century, with a new set of facts, where the power, the lethality of these weapons, is so vastly greater than conventional weapons and as has historically been the case.
And what the world is doing is it is wrestling with a dilemma. The dilemma is that, historically, we've tended to not do things until attacked. That has been generally the pattern. Not always. There have been plenty of people in the history of warfare who have seen people massing on their border and decided that that was a target of opportunity and went after the massing force near their border before they could attack. We'll call that a preemptive action. The United States did not wait for al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan to keep continuing attacking us; we went after them.
Now, what the world is trying to get comfortable is if -- if we behave like we behaved in the 20th century, and we said "Fair enough. We don't believe in attacking other countries. We believe we should wait and be attacked." And if that attack were to involve a biological weapon -- or a nuclear weapon -- the price to be paid for waiting would be enormous. Therefore, in trying to connect the dots before the fact, you have to do it in an environment that's not comfortable with that, that hasn't really been through this much. And it isn't surprising that there's a debate. It isn't surprising that people are weighing these things and giving them a value and an importance and a significance that they merit. These are big issues.
Q: Many leaders are arguing they want clearer evidence -- from U.N. inspectors, from the United States --
Q: -- before any preemptive action should be taken, and that they accuse --
Q: -- some are accusing the U.S. of thinking of taking the law into its own hands, which is --
Rumsfeld: The right of self-defense is inherent in the sovereign state. So that -- that issue is, it seems to me, clear and self-evident.
There isn't anybody who wouldn't love to have all the dots connected. Why -- why isn't it -- it -- wouldn't it be wonderful if someone came down, walked in the room right now, and said, "Gee, here are all the dots. Let's connect them for everybody so life is simple." Life isn't simple. Life is complicated. You're dealing with a very tough apple. He's been in power a whale of a long time. He has killed a pile of people. He's attacked a number of nations. He's used chemical weapons on his own people and on his neighbors. And he's got a very effective denial and deception program. And if someone is sitting here thinking, "Well, wouldn't it be nice if somebody walked up and handed you a chemical or a biological weapon, or physical evidence that they're within 15 minutes of having a nuclear weapon," that would be wonderful. It isn't going to happen! It will only happen if he decides to do it.
Q: Well, why not release more intelligence that you have, so people can connect the dots?
Rumsfeld: The United States is cooperating fully with the inspectors. We're offering intelligence capabilities in the air, we're offering specific information as to sites. Those sites are being inspected.
And this is a country that is enormous. This is a country that has vast underground capabilities to deceive and deny. It is a country where the people are intimidated and frightened to death that they'll be killed, if in fact they cooperate at all with those inspectors. It is a country where we have not yet gotten scientists and technicians and knowledgeable people to either defect or to leave the country, which the resolution called for, with the approval of Saddam Hussein. It isn't for us to grab those people and abduct them. His job, under that resolution, was to offer them up, to volunteer them so that the inspectors could take them and their families outside the country, to Cyprus, and talk to them.
Q: But the inspectors have said you've only just started releasing intelligence to them. I mean, do you feel under pressure to release a lot more intelligence or are you afraid those sources and methods --
Rumsfeld: It's not my decision. It's the Central Intelligence Agency that's been assigned by the government to work with the inspectors.
Q: Surely you must have an opinion on this.
Rumsfeld: I have both opinions and knowledge. And what I just said is correct; that they are -- the United States government, the Central Intelligence Agency, is in fact giving site locations and specific information to the inspectors. They are doing that.
Q: And what is the status of that offer to provide overhead surveillance for the inspectors?
Rumsfeld: You might comment on this. This is interesting.
Myers: We've offered the U-2 and Predator to the U.N. To date, they have accepted the use of the U-2; it would be under U.N. auspices -- flown under U.N. auspices. And we - any time. We're ready to go. We've got the modalities in place. We've talked to UNMOVIC about all that.
But it was interesting that the Iraqi regime sent a letter to UNMOVIC, to Dr. Blix, and said, gee, we'd have a real problem with a U-2 flying over central Iraq because we'd have trouble deconflicting from all those other aircraft that are flying around that we're shooting at currently. (Laughter.) And --
Rumsfeld: Which they shouldn't be shooting at!
Myers: Which, if you read the resolution real carefully, they shouldn't be shooting.
So, UNMOVIC is working through that. We're ready to go whenever they're ready to go.
Q: But does that in effect give Saddam Hussein veto power over what surveillance is offered to UNMOVIC?
Rumsfeld: That's between the Iraqis and the inspectors.
Q: Well, if UNMOVIC is willing to negotiate with Saddam Hussein about how they're going to carry out those inspections, then how effective can those inspections ever be?
Rumsfeld: Time will tell.
Q: Just to clarify, you --
Q: Do you think --
Rumsfeld: We -- we -- we --
Rumsfeld: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait!
We're so far over. We've gone 45 minutes.
Q: Do you think it --
Rumsfeld: We've been up testifying before the Senate Committee --
Q: Do you think it may become necessary to put some evidence out there in public in order to bolster your case? You've stood there and said you know they have weapons of mass destruction --
Rumsfeld: Well, let me phrase it this way. The intelligence community of the United States of America has assessed not that they have nuclear weapons, but that they have an active, ongoing nuclear program. That's public. There's an NIE, a National Intelligence Estimate, on that. And if it weren't public, it now is.
They have assessed that they have chemical and biological weapons. The Iraqis have -- Iraqi people who have been involved in some of those programs have told us that. The stories by the Iraqi people who have been involved in some of those programs and told us that have been corroborated by still other people.
The Iraqi government has, in effect, told us a good deal, explicitly, in their prior declarations and their current declarations about the programs they have had and the information that we've gotten from defectors. And they've really told us something implicitly, in the sense that they're so actively engaged in denial and deception about what they're doing. Why, for example, would they be out buying things that are critical to biological or chemical programs or nuclear activities and trying to do it in secret?
Q: Like what?
Q: Can you give some examples of --
Rumsfeld: I could have, but I won't.
Q: Well, could you give --
Rumsfeld: I could, but I won't.
Q: I know you can't. But --
Q: That's what the world's asking for --
Rumsfeld: Let me finish my thought. Let me finish -- let me finish --
Q: That's what the world's asking for, that information --
Rumsfeld: The world doesn't ask, Charlie!
Q: What world leaders are --
Q: That's what critics of possible war are asking -- for the information that you have --
Rumsfeld: And that's fair. That's fair. They should ask, and --
Q: But why don't you provide it?
Rumsfeld: Well, it's not for me to decide these things. It's - there'll be people who will make judgments about what -- if a decision is made to use force, you can be sure that the president, who makes that decision, not this department, would take it -- all of your advice about the world is -- what the world is waiting with bated breath for and make a judgment and decide what can be disclosed that would not jeopardize the use of force and make that case. Who -- who will do that? I don't know. I suppose it's the intelligence community and others. But that -- the president has not made a judgment that it's necessary to use force. Therefore, one ought not to be surprised that he hasn't done that.
Q: But you're saying there are specific instances within the last two months of inspections where denial and deception has been detected. I mean, in terms of --
Rumsfeld: Well, of course. They're good at it. They're pros.
Q: And you can't share --
Rumsfeld: Their programs are designed to function in an inspections environment.
Q: I understand. But you can't share any examples of that, where the inspectors have been hoodwinked, so to speak.
Rumsfeld: The inspectors haven't been hoodwinked. Look at -- they're -- these are, I'm sure -- I don't know any of them. But I'm sure they're perfectly sincere, responsible people. They're not in there to discover things and find things - they're in there to inspect things that the Iraqi government decides to disclose to them. That is what the job of an inspector is. This business that's being around - oh, maybe they'll discover this and discover that - that isn't what inspectors do. Inspectors are asked by the country to come in and look at what we have, because we have decided as a good citizen of the world to stop having these things. And we want to prove to the world, therefore we invite inspectors in. Look at what we're doing. Let us help you. Here is what it is. Destroy it for us. That is not what's going on.
Q: Why don't we offer them U-2s or Predators, then, if that's not --
Q: If you're not looking for something, what is the point of all this?
Rumsfeld: The reason we're doing it is because the president of the United States made a decision that it was in the interests of the United States and the world to go to the United Nations and seek a resolution. And the resolution provides that these -- these activities that are currently underway will take place. And member states of the United Nations were asked -- and we agreed -- to provide appropriate assistance to see that those U.N.-mandated activities proceed. It's not complicated.
Q: But you're -- but you're not --
Q: But you're going to be able to go to those locations and find something, correct?
Rumsfeld: What --I think I've said this before, and I hate to repeat myself, but they began in material breach. It was said that if the declaration is not fulsome, it would be a further material breach, and third, that there would either be cooperation, or if there were non-cooperation, that would be a still further breach. Therefore, it's up to the U.N. and the United States at some moment to drop a plumb line through all of that and say, "Was the declaration adequate? Most people seem to think not. Is the cooperation that we're receiving appropriate?" That's the judgment that is yet to be made.
Q: But you --
Rumsfeld: You say, "Well, why are you doing all this?" Because the U.N. decided to do it. And the president decided to go to the U.N. And we agreed to cooperate. So we are cooperating. And we'll see -- this is a test. It's a test for Saddam Hussein. Is he going to be seen as being cooperative by the world community or not?
Q: But again, if you give them specific intelligence on particular locations, you want them to go there to find something, one would think.
Rumsfeld: That's right.
Q: So they'll find something.
Rumsfeld: Well if, as you give somebody information, it then finds its way to the Iraqis before the inspectors arrive, you might very well not find something.
Q: You believe --
Q: (Inaudible) -- monitors there.
Q: But you are trying to find something, which is exactly opposite of what you've been saying, that you don't expect to find anything.
Rumsfeld: I didn't say I don't expect to find anything. I said very clearly that inspectors find things when the host country decides to be cooperative and says, "Here it is." And the question now is, to what extent is Iraq or not being cooperative? This is not complicated. This is not rocket science.
Q: The intelligence is used to find a "gotcha," isn't it? Like, "Hey, here it is. They didn't tell us this, but we" --
Rumsfeld: I think -- I think trying to find something that someone could characterize in that inelegant way is not likely. I think it's very hard to do that. As I've said repeatedly, I honestly believe that the way information is gained is through defectors and through people that are taken out of a country with their families and given a chance to tell the truth. And in the event that information like something approximating a smoky gun -- smoking gun is to be found, it will, I suspect, be via that route.
Thank you very much.
Q: Thank you.