DoD News Briefing 9/8 - Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers
NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense
DoD News Briefing Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld Friday, August 09, 2002 - 1:47 p.m. EDT
(Also participating was Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.)
Rumsfeld: Good afternoon. On Wednesday night, a U.S. Air Force MC-130H aircraft crashed in Puerto Rico while on a training mission. Ten U.S. service members lost their lives. The cause of the crash is being investigated.
I certainly want to extend my condolences to the families of all those killed in this accident. They died in the service of their country, giving their all to make America safer and more secure in the war against terror.
On several recent occasions, U.S. forces in Afghanistan have been attacked. In the most recent instance, they returned fire and several of the enemy were killed. Afghan officials also report that Afghan military forces outside of Kabul were involved in a firefight with suspected al Qaeda fighters. Three Afghans were killed and three were wounded in those attacks. A dozen suspected al Qaeda were killed, and there was no U.S. military involvement in that incident.
These recent events underscore the fact that while we've made good progress in the war against terror, it certainly is far from over in Afghanistan and throughout the world. Every day the men and women in uniform are voluntarily risking their lives to defend against terrorism. At this moment, enemy fighters are still operating in a number of areas in Afghanistan. Coalition forces are searching them out and will continue to do so as long as they continue to threaten the new Afghan administration and the Afghan people.
War is, of course, fought in fog and shadows. One cannot know precisely where the enemy is or what they'll do next. We do know that there are fewer of them in Afghanistan today than there were on September 11th -- a lot fewer. We know that we've killed and captured a fair number of terrorist leaders and terrorist foot soldiers. We know that the Taliban has been removed from power and the al Qaeda network no longer can use Afghanistan as a haven from which to plan their attacks. And we know they are less able to raise money, cross borders and plot new attacks against free people. And we know that, notwithstanding the periodic flare-ups, the security situation in Afghanistan is good and improving, and that the Afghan people have chosen a government through the loya jirga process, and that that government is working hard to get on its feet, and that the Afghan national army is in the process of being trained, and that the humanitarian crisis that faced the country has largely been averted. That is good progress.
I understand you have no opening statement?
Myers: I do not.
Rumsfeld: And we'll start with Charlie.
Q: Secretary, I thought I'd ask you one on Iraq, for a change.
Rumsfeld: You're kidding! (Laughter.) You know I have a -- you know I have a minimum of high regard for that approach, and I think I'm going to have an agonizing reappraisal and consider calling on someone else first in the future.
Q: Just a couple of quick ones. Number one, Bush administration officials are meeting with Afghan opposition --
Q: Iraqi opposition.
Rumsfeld: That's true.
Q: Do you plan on meeting with them or perhaps taking part in the teleconference tomorrow with the vice president?
Rumsfeld: I hope to. I have not arranged it yet, but I would like to find an opportunity to do that. You're correct. There are a group of opposition leaders who have been invited to a meeting, I believe, that's hosted by Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman and Undersecretary Doug Feith. And they're going to -- they're here today, I guess, and tomorrow. They represent some seven different groups -- six, is it?
Rumsfeld: Okay, let me count. (Counts down list.) Five, six, seven. I count seven.
Q: (Off mike) -- it was six, but --
Rumsfeld: Well, I could be right. (Laughter.) Maybe by accident, but -- it may be six, it may be seven. The ones I've got listed here are the Iraqi National Congress, that's one; the Iraqi National Accord; the Kurdistan Democratic Party, comes to three; Patriotic Union of Kurdistan; Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq; the Islamic Movement of Iraq -- Iraqi Kurdistan; and the Constitutional Monarchists. (Note: Six groups will attend. The Islamic Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan will not participate in the meeting.) How many does that come to?
Rumsfeld: Way to go! (Laughter.)
I might just mention that the Iraqi Liberation Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1998, established as U.S. policy -- and that policy remains in effect today -- regime change in Iraq. Specifically, the law says, quote, "It is the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime." And it is in that context that these various Iraqi opposition groups are in the country and the meetings are taking place.
Q: Do you plan -- would you plan to meet directly with them or perhaps take part in the teleconference?
Rumsfeld: I just haven't decided. I haven't worked out my calendar.
Q: What do you -- might --
Rumsfeld: But I hope to have a chance to meet them and say hello, at least.
Q: A brief follow-up. Could I ask why the Defense Department is now financing these groups, as opposed to the State Department?
Rumsfeld: I guess they're not. The department is not. My understanding is that the State Department, DOD and the INC are working together on transferring some responsibilities for information-gathering activities by the INC from State to DOD. The details have not been worked out. The discussions are under way. And as it involves information-gathering, I guess that's all I'd be inclined to say about it. From my understanding it's being discussed, is all --
Q: (Inaudible) -- take over financing these groups?
Rumsfeld: I've really just exhausted my knowledge on the subject. It's an administrative issue that's being sorted out.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: Can we go back to Afghanistan for a moment? There are published reports --
Rumsfeld: It would be a pleasure.
Q: Thank you. There are published reports that at least two large groups of al Qaeda, backed by Taliban, are massing in Pakistan, preparing for large-scale attacks on the current government in Afghanistan. Can you shed some light on that? Are those reports accurate? And if so, why can't we find those groups?
Rumsfeld: Well, I don't know if it's true. If it proves to be true that large gatherings of these folks actually can be located and they actually -- it actually happens and can be located, you can be sure there will be people interested in that.
Q: Following up for a moment, the reports go on to say that the training camps or the staging areas are at least a hundred miles from where Pakistani authorities and U.S./coalition troops are looking for -- (pauses) --
Rumsfeld: That's a statement, not a question.
Q: Well, but sometimes you'll react well to statements, sir, as opposed to questions.
Look, there are going to be reports all the time. Everyone has an idea where people are, where individuals are, where clusters are. We have a lot of intelligence information. The Pakistanis have been helping, the Afghanis have been helping. And to the extent information comes together and it proves to be true, as opposed to speculation in the press, then people go out and try to find those folks and visit with them.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you've said a couple of times recently that the war on terrorism is closer to the beginning than the end. And I just wondered, do you feel the United States is winning the war on terrorism --
Rumsfeld: Oh, indeed.
Q: -- and if you do, could you tell us how to measure that?
Rumsfeld: Well, it's -- first of all, the way to think of the thing is like an iceberg. There's a certain amount of it above the surface of the water and then there's a great deal going on that's below the surface of the water. And since terrorists don't have armies, navies or air forces, one has to assume, as I pointed out in my opening remarks, that there's fog and shadows where those folks are operating and there's an awful lot we don't see.
If you want to know what the progress is and how you can measure it, why I cited a number of things. Afghanistan is no longer a training camp for terrorists. That's a nice thing, that's a good thing. Those people have been liberated. That's a good thing. The al Qaeda that were there are either dead or captured or on the run and they're in other countries. And I've listed four, five, six other countries where we know they've gone. The pressure is on these networks. And it doesn't mean that the pressure is sufficient or the success has been sufficient or the progress sufficient that there won't be more terrorist attacks.
We know there are thousands of these people around the world, and we know, for example, that there are clusters of hundreds in a number of different countries that have escaped from -- and fled from Afghanistan or congregated in different places.
But the way you -- one would think that you would measure success would be the extent to which you get other countries to cooperate. We're now up to something like 90 worldwide. The extent to which other countries are willing to share intelligence, and that's an enormous number. The extent to which countries are more aggressively pursuing terrorist cells in their own countries. And as I've indicated, there are over 2,000 people, who have been swept up off the streets in dozens and dozens and dozens of countries, who are being interrogated.
So I think the American people have a pretty good sense that this is not a set of pitched battles on a continent, in the air or at sea. Rather, it is like an iceberg where there will be periodic places where we'll see it above the surface. And this is something I think I said in September almost identically; that this is the nature of what we're up against.
Q: One more thing on that. Would removing Saddam Hussein from power be a major victory in the war on terrorism, or is it a discrete issue?
Rumsfeld: It would seem that it's the policy of the United States Congress and the executive branch of successive presidents that regime change in that country would be desirable for a host of reasons. I would have to go back and read the legislative debate as to what led the Congress to decide that, but I assume it had to do with weapons of mass destruction, I assume it had to do with him trying to impose his will on his neighbors. I also assume that it's because he's been elevated to the status of a terrorist state.
Q: General Myers, can you help us a little bit put this Christian Science Monitor story in perspective? It has three main sort of startling allegations. One is that al Qaeda is massing in Pakistan; is there any evidence of that? Two, that Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenant, Zawahiri, have both been spotted recently; have there been any credible sightings of them that you're aware of? And three, that the al Qaeda in Pakistan is seeking or obtaining help from China to get anti-aircraft missiles to threaten U.S. planes.
Can you help us put that in perspective? How much credibility should we put into those kind of accounts?
Myers: Well, I think on the issue of massing along the border, the secretary pretty much covered that. We know that's where there are -- that's where a lot of the al Qaeda fled, some of the Taliban, probably, for that matter. And it's a long border. And I guess there's no doubt that there are pockets of them. Whether they're massing or not, I think, remains to be seen. I would just tell you that from what I've seen, we have no evidence of that. On the other hand, General Franks -- this is something that he and General McNeill inside Afghanistan work on a daily basis. We've got reasonably good intelligence. We get good cooperation from Pakistan and from Afghanistan. And so, you know, I don't know there's any truth to that particular story.
On the issue of UBL, I'll give you my standard -- I've not seen anything that says we know where he is. And the last issue, on help from China, we know that they want weapons, they want weapons of mass destruction. They probably need all sorts of supplies. And they'll go to whoever will provide those. I would be -- I would be very surprised that China would help, that the government of China would help. We get -- have gotten pretty support from China on the war on terrorism, and it would be hard for me to believe that they'd want to help the al Qaeda.
Q: Speaking of help --
Rumsfeld: Could I make just a comment, which I find interesting here. I've mentioned that we're getting a lot of tips from Afghan people in villages all across the country saying that we ought to go look in a certain place. And we've gone and looked.
And here's a -- this is only through July 16th, but this is from 345 caches that have been identified, mostly by other people telling us about them: 1,785 AK-47 rifles; 375 -- correction, 370,000 rounds of ammunition for the rifles; 30 heavy machine guns; 3.5 million rounds of ammunition for the machine gun; 72 mortar tubes; 52,000 rounds of ammunition for the mortars; 142 recoilless rifles with 1,700 rounds; 2,100 air-to-air missiles; 2,800 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, with over 4,000 grenades; 43,000 rounds of rockets, 107-, 122-mm; shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, 319 missiles, 269 were SA-7s; 50 tanks; 40 armored vehicles; 2,000 mines; over 20 anti-aircraft weapons.
Just -- the nation is filled with weapons. It is a country that has -- they've been pouring in from all countries. The reason I mentioned it is in a number of these caches, you do find things from China. But you find 'em from country after country after country. So, it isn't anything distinctive.
And a lot of it's -- a lot of it's quite old and probably not stable. We've destroyed a good portion of it, and my conservative background leads me to -- my background in the Depression -- we're saving as much as we can for the Afghan army, I assure you. We're not going to waste anything if we can avoid it.
Q: Mr. Secretary, I wanted to ask you about the comments from House Majority Leader Dick Armey, suggesting that the United States cannot move against Iraq without significant provocation. Are those kinds of statements unhelpful?
Rumsfeld: No. Dick Armey's a fine congressman and a good friend, and I think it's important for people to say what they think on these things, and that's the wonderful thing about our country. We have a public debate and dialogue and discussion on important issues.
Q: Mr. Secretary, to follow on that, he -- House Majority Leader Armey said, "As long as Saddam Hussein behaves himself within his own borders, we should not be addressing any attack or resources against him." Do you believe that containment of Saddam Hussein has worked, is working? Without getting into the hypotheticals that I know you don't like.
Rumsfeld: Containment has -- you can't say it's worked or not worked. It has not done the job in this sense. Economic sanctions, historically -- not just in the case of Iraq, but I believe historically -- once they're applied, they're effective for a reasonable period of time and then they tend to be eroded for a lot of reasons. People decide they don't agree with them any more and they start trading. People figure clever ways to get around them with dual-use technologies. People do it illegally across borders -- and these are porous borders. And it is very clear that the political and economic sanctions have -- with respect to Saddam Hussein -- have not worked, the containment.
A third part of the containment, clearly, was Operation Northern and Southern Watch. And we know for a fact that he is continuing to operate in those areas and doing things that it's very hard to stop him from doing because he's got mobile anti-aircraft capabilities, and when he shoots at us, we shoot back. He hasn't hit us, fortuitously. But by the same token, we've not done a great deal of damage to his air defenses or any of his other capabilities.
The big thing that was there was the weapon of mass destruction issue, and he had agreed, and the U.N. had agreed, that he would not have a WMD program. We know he does have one and he is continuing it.
So there's no way any reasonable person could look at that record and say that it's worked. It hasn't worked and it's not working. It started out working better than it is today, and it's kind of declined, as is the case in most of these types of things, which means that he's moving farther and farther away from the circumstance he was in when they were first imposed.
Q: Mr. Secretary, since you are well-known internationally as a fighter of war against terrorism globally, how do you assess the recent arrest in Greece by the Simitis government, members of November 17 terrorist organization, responsible also for killings of Americans?
Rumsfeld: It is an important success for the Greek government. The November 17th terrorist group has been the target of a great many countries, including the Greek government. But I personally have raised the issue with the Greek government each time I've met with them, since I've been back in this post. They are responsible for the deaths of a number of Americans, including a CIA station chief, four or five defense employees, and one or more local workers who -- Greek local nationals who worked with the Defense Department. And certainly for those families and for the families of all the other people who have been killed by the November 17th, the arrests that have been made are most encouraging and gratifying.
Q: Mr. Secretary, can I ask you a question about some of the technology that you're developing to fight the war on terrorists, specifically directed energy and high-powered microwave technology? Do you -- when do you envision that you can weaponize that type of technology?
Rumsfeld: Goodness, it is in -- for the most part, the kinds of things you're talking about are in varying early stages.
(To the general.) Do you want to -- do you have anything you would add?
Myers: I don't think I would add much. It's -- I think they are in early stages and probably not ready for employment at this point.
Q: How promising is the technology, though?
Rumsfeld: It's early. It's early. You never know. I mean, if you think about it, the UAVs that were used in Afghanistan, the unmanned aerial vehicles that were used in Afghanistan, were not -- had not reached their full development. They had not been authorized for use. They were still in a development stage and experimental, and yet you use them. So it's -- in the normal order of things, when you invest in research and development and begin a developmental project, you don't have any intention or expectations that one would use it. On the other hand, the real world intervenes from time to time, and you reach in there and take something out that is still in a developmental stage, and you might use it.
So the -- your question's not answerable. It is -- depends on what happens in the future and how well things move along the track and whether or not someone feels it's appropriate to reach into a development stage and see if something might be useful, as was the case with the unmanned aerial vehicles.
Q: But you sound like you're willing to experiment with it.
Myers: Yeah, I think that's the point. And I think -- and it's -- and we have, I think, from the beginning of this conflict -- I think General Franks has been very open to looking at new things, if there are new things available, and has been willing to put them into the fight, even before they've been fully wrung out. And I think that's -- not referring to these particular cases of directed energy or high-powered microwaves, but sure. And we will continue to do that.
Q: Mr. Secretary, like -- you said that Afghanistan is no longer a camp for terrorists, but Afghanistan -- Pakistan is still, because most of -- they have come across the border into Pakistan. And two, if these al Qaedas are planning in a big way to attack the current Afghanistan government, then who is directing them if Osama bin Laden, you've said in the past, is dead, most probably?
Rumsfeld: Oh, I don't think I've said most probably. I think I've said I don't know. I think I've said he's either alive and in Afghanistan or somewhere else, or he's dead. And I don't know.
Q: And third, do you --
Rumsfeld: But the answer to your question is this. It is true that terrorists, al Qaeda and other types, have left Afghanistan in large numbers, the ones who weren't captured or killed and the ones who are still not there hiding and waiting to do something. And they've gone to four, five, six, eight countries in reasonably sizable numbers.
It's not knowable who is operating that apparatus, although it's pretty clear that there were any number of people, a couple of handfuls, who probably knew the bank accounts; knew the people who'd been trained; knew the cells, sleeper cells, around the world; knew the financiers, the people who were putting the money in; had the techniques for moving people around the world with the aliases and false passports and had access to those fake documents. So, my -- it may be that no one person is doing it, if he's not -- he may be doing but, it may be that no one person is doing it, if he's not; it may be a number of people doing pieces of the task.
Let's go to --
Q: Sir, just a two-parter, I'm sorry. Are you -- (inaudible) -- can you say today for on the record that Osama bin Laden was behind 9/11 and other terrorist acts against the United States, in every way, including planning, and you don't agree with General Musharraf in a New Yorker interview that he was not?
Rumsfeld: I -- you phrase it as though you want me to disagree with President Musharraf --
Q: Not at all. Your comments, please.
Rumsfeld: -- which I would not want to do. I have not -- I have not read his comments. Therefore, I'm not in the position to comment on his comments.
I can say that we believe, in the United States of America, that it is not debatable, that in fact there is ample evidence. Indeed, the words of the gentleman -- no, he's not a gentleman -- the words of the individual proclaim his guilt and take pride in his accomplishment. You know, I have no knowledge of what anyone else might say or think about it, but UBL has certainly announced from the highest hilltops on video that he was involved.
Q: For General Myers. President Clinton has been quoted making remarks about why bin Laden -- no military plans were put into play to get bin Laden prior to now. And he said that the military advised him against it, advised him that -- I shouldn't say, I'm sorry -- didn't advise him against it; advised him that there was a high probability of failure both because without going after the Taliban, it was quite difficult to go after bin Laden, and also the high risk of collateral damage because bin Laden tended, when he went to Kandahar (stumbles over pronunciation) -- I can't speak today, I'm sorry -- when he went to Kandahar, he tended to be in very populous areas. Is this accurate? Did the military advise President Clinton that in fact there was a high probability of failure for such a mission?
Myers: There were -- obviously, there have been discussions on -- and have been for quite some time, I don't know how far back they go, but for quite some time -- on how to deal with this particular terrorist organization and Osama bin Laden. I don't think it's -- and I'd have to go back and check, but I don't think -- my memory would not say that that's how it was characterized. There were lots of -- there were options discussed and lots of considerations. I wouldn't characterize it exactly like that. I'd have to go check, of course. But on the other hand, I don't think it's the kind of thing we need to get too much more in depth into, because it gets into some of our operational methodology.
Q: Do you see that the recent attacks in Afghanistan are evidence that a new offensive, a new coordinated offensive against the Karzai government is either underway or imminent?
Rumsfeld: No. No. I mean, my view is that there are Taliban and al Qaeda in the country, there are Taliban and al Qaeda across the borders, and they would dearly love to come back, and they would take any opportunity they could to find ways to weaken and harm the Karzai government. And the task of the Karzai government and the coalition forces is to see that that does not happen and to manage the transition from where it's a war zone to move the al Qaeda and the Taliban out and to return it to the Afghan people, which we have now done, to the stage where we're currently addressing reasonably large pockets of Taliban and al Qaeda, to a stage where you're dealing with relatively small numbers of them and the Karzai government gains strength and begins to develop an army and begins to develop a police force and begins to develop border patrols, and at some point it then provides for its own security.
And our task is to -- and at that stage where they're capable of preventing the al Qaeda and the Taliban from coming back, then they will have demonstrated the fact that they've transitioned to a stable Afghan government. And that's clearly the goal, the end state that one would be looking for.
Q: Mr. Secretary, we can't let you leave without getting your reaction to Saddam Hussein's speech yesterday. If you could both tell us what you thought of what the Iraqi leader had to say.
Rumsfeld: I have been so busy, I have not read that little dickens. (Laughter.)
Q: General Myers?
Rumsfeld: (To General Myers) Have you read it?
Myers: I have not read it. I --
Rumsfeld: You don't have enough work to do, if you read it! (Laughs; laughter.)
Myers: But -- but I heard some elements of it, and I think it's bluster that is fairly characteristic of the Iraqi regime and the man himself.
Q: Mr. Secretary, there have been some who have suggested that the V-22 Osprey is fundamentally flawed. Others say they question the aircraft, but they'll kind of wait and see how it comes through the tests. There are some who say it will be cancelled even if it does perform well.
Rumsfeld: Good spectrum of opinion. Isn't that wonderful? (Laughter.)
Q: If the Osprey manages to perform well in the rapid descent tests that are going to start in the next couple of months, is it possible that the Osprey can survive, return to operational status and the acquisition program would continue?
Rumsfeld: Yeah, I got you. We have studies going on any number of programs. You have reasonably accurately characterized the things that are being considered there with respect to that particular program.
I've decided I'm not going to get into the business of commenting on them. The studies are underway. The decisions and -- the results then will get briefed, the decisions will then get made as part of the budget bill this fall, towards the '04 to '09 budget, which will be sent to the OMB in probably November and announced by the president in February. When those studies get worked through, we will all get briefed. There will be extensive discussions on each one of these, and there are several dozen of them that are underway, and then decisions get made.
I think that it would be wrong to think that any single program's decisions are going to be based solely on that program. I think that one has to recognize that you need to take these different things that are moving along and then -- from the services, and then bring them together into a joint war-fighting capability and establish priorities so that the totality of it is coherent and provides our country what we need to contribute to peace and stability in the world. And so it ought to be that each of those programs will be considered in a multi-dimensional way rather than a single dimensional way.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Rumsfeld: That was a very good answer I gave him. (Laughter.) And it has the benefit of being true. And that is exactly the process that I hope will take place. It doesn't always. Sometimes things get dealt with separately, and that's less helpful, it seems to me.
Q: Such a good answer, I'll ask General Myers.
Rumsfeld: Good. Good. (Laughter.)
Q: With regard --
Rumsfeld: Good question, too.
Q: With regard to the soldier who was shot two days ago in the chest, apparently in looking back at that incident, there are indications that there was some tactical awareness on the part of the opposition, the people who shot him, that there was surveillance, and some indications that they're getting a little more organized in going after American forces. This, I guess, was an ambush and there was some pre-thought, it wasn't just bumping into people.
Are you seeing a more organized, more thoughtful opposition as they apparently get their act together to go after your forces?
Myers: I think, Jack, we've seen almost from the beginning, but certainly in the latter stages of our work against al Qaeda and the Taliban inside Afghanistan and then in the border area, that we're up against a thinking enemy that can adapt, and they do adapt. They adapt to our tactics as we adapt to theirs. And I think that's what we're seeing now. And so the point to our commanders and the point, I'm sure, that General Franks has emphasized at the lower echelons of his command, to the people under his command, is that we can't be predictable. And I think it's true they'll adapt. They'll find out -- if we become predictable, if we do things a certain way with a standard operating procedure and we're not flexible in how we approach things, then we can be susceptible to their ambushes and so forth.
Q Mr. Secretary, today the American Bar Association released a report about the Bush administration's treatment of enemy combatants, specifically the U.S. citizens named as enemy combatants, saying that they shouldn't be denied access to counsel, should be given judicial review to challenge the decision. Any response to that? And why --
Rumsfeld: No. That's totally the Department of Justice. All of that is in the Article III of the Constitution category and has nothing to do with the Department of Defense.
Q: But they're being held as enemy combatants in defense military --
Rumsfeld: The circumstance that you've described and what the -- I didn't read their statement, but I'm knowledgeable, reasonably knowledgeable about about it -- and the subject they've addressed has nothing to do with the Department of Defense; it has everything to do with the Department of Justice's detainees that are all in the Article III of the Constitution court system and not the military justice system.
Q: Mr. Secretary, do you have any particular --
Q: Going back to Iraq for just a second, on the meetings that you might have with the opposition groups there -- as you mentioned, there are seven -- does it concern U.S. officials that there are so many opposition groups that it may -- they may have had difficulty speaking with one voice?
Rumsfeld: No, no, that doesn't bother me ever. I mean, think how much fun we have here. (Laughter.)
(Chuckling.) The --
Q: (Off mike.)
Rumsfeld: I mean, really, the -- there isn't anyone who is in a position or who even ought to want to impose their will on the Iraqi opposition people, including Saddam Hussein. He wants to, but he shouldn't.
My attitude about it is that it's not for other people to make those judgments. It's for people who agree with the U.S. policy that we prefer regime change and that there are a variety of political and economic and military things, such as the Operation Northern and South Watch and various other things, that can be done, and that these people all have every right in the world to wish better for their country. And it doesn't worry me one whit that there's more than one.
In fact, I would say that it would be worrisome if there were only one. Now why do I say that? I think that it's from the competition -- the competition of ideas, the competition of developing support -- I mean, that's how we elect people to public office. That's the -- we believe in that. So I think it's a good thing that there are elements that represent different parts of that country, different perspectives from that country, different tribes, different religions, different -- and some are military, some are civilian. I think it's a good thing.
Q: May I follow up --
Q: Would you have any particular --
Q: Would you have any particular --
Q: Following up on that, sir, doesn't it -- does it concern you at all about what will be left after Saddam is overthrown, in that case?
Rumsfeld: Sure. Well --
Q: You know, are you afraid that you'll have a situation somewhat similar to Afghanistan, where there's groups fighting each other?
Rumsfeld: Well, wait a second. Let's go back -- before we go to that, let's go back to Afghanistan. Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if Iraq were similar to Afghanistan, if a bad regime was thrown out, people were liberated, food could come in, borders could be opened, repression could stop, prisons could be opened? I mean, it would be fabulous. The idea that Afghanistan should be held up as something that one would not want to have happen is just exactly opposite from the truth. Afghanistan is a model of what can happen if people are liberated and begin to try to elect their own people and people are allowed to vote who weren't allowed to vote and people are allowed to work who weren't allowed to work. It is a breathtaking accomplishment.
Now, of course one worries about what will follow. We worried about it in Afghanistan, and we still are. We're still anxious to see that government put in place by the Afghan people find its sea legs and start getting some support from the rest of the world and have these countries that promised to send money send money, instead of promising to send money. There's a lot of money that hasn't been sent, and it needs to go into the Karzai government, into the central government, so he has the ability to begin to assert some influence in the country.
He's got to have money to pay for his army and for his border patrol and for his policemen. He has to have money to be able to show that the circumstance in Afghanistan today is -- to the people out in the regions, that it's better than it was before, and they ought not to allow the Taliban to come back and they ought not to allow the Taliban to invite the al Qaeda back into their country, and they ought not to turn it back into a terrorist training camp.
And that's something that takes time and effort and it -- because it's reasonably democratic, it's kind of untidy. And one looks at the untidiness and says, "Oh, my goodness, it's untidy!" Well, my goodness, democracy's untidy. Freedom is untidy. Liberation is untidy. It's a very good thing that's happened in Afghanistan, and all this Henny-Penny "The sky is falling!" and "Isn't it terrible?" is nonsense.
Q: The seven --
Rumsfeld: I'm coming to Iraq. I'm just a little slow. (Laughter.)
Now, with respect to your question. (Laughter.)
Q: (Off mike) -- sufficiently chastised, huh?
Rumsfeld: (Laughs.) Oh, my! I needed a hook to hang my anger on, so I --
Q: Glad I could oblige, sir.
Rumsfeld: (Laughs.) The situation -- any time someone wants to tear down what is, you have the responsibility of suggesting something better. And what we have said thus far is relatively simple and straightforward, and it fits the act of Congress, the statute, the government policy of our country that passed the Congress of the United States.
It is -- we would like to see a country that is a single country, and not have Iraq broken up into pieces.
We would like to see a country that forswears weapons of mass destruction and says, "That's really not in the interests of the people. It's not in the interests of the region, and we're not going to take the people's money and invest in chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons," which they are doing today. Money that's coming from the so-called food-for-oil -- or oil-for-food money, that's not going for food; it's going for weapons of mass destruction.
Third, we'd like to see a regime that decided it didn't need to invade its neighbors. Kind of a reasonable thing. Certainly would make that part of the world a more peaceful place.
Fourth, we would think that it would be desirable if the people of the country had a voice in their country, and that these institutions that have served other countries across the globe so well, of some reasonable rule of law, and some respect for the rights of minorities, and some way for people to have their views represented with respect to their government.
I don't have a template or a model in my mind at all. But it seems to me that if you dropped a plumb line through all of the opposition groups and said what would they like, I would think the things I've just said would be very high on their list. If you dropped a plumb line through the nations of the world that are doing reasonably well for their people, you would find that those things I just said would be reasonably representative of all of those countries. And conversely, if you dropped a plumb line through all the terrorist states, you'd find they look very much like each other; that they're dictatorial and they're repressive and people do not have rights and people are jailed without any rights, people are not allowed to vote, except in a sham election, and the will of the center of the government is imposed on them viciously.
And I thank you for the question.
Q: Mr. Secretary, to go back to your statement about containment not working, this government pursued a policy of containment against the Soviet Union --
Rumsfeld: But I said it isn't work or not work, it's gradations.
Q: Well --
Rumsfeld: It's clearly worked for a while, it clearly has delayed things, it's clearly made life more complicated for Saddam Hussein. But if by "work" you mean has it actually stopped them from WMD activity? No.
Q: Well, the Soviet Union was a greater threat to us and the world, you know, than Iraq is, and yet that -- containment was our policy for 50 years and it finally worked.
Rumsfeld: It did indeed.
Q: So why won't it work against Iraq?
Rumsfeld: Well, there are a variety reasons. And that's an important question. One is, the Soviet Union was a nuclear power, as were we, and we developed a way to deter each other and dissuade each other from -- we persuaded the Soviet Union that they could not endlessly expand their empire by absorbing other countries. We persuaded them that it was clearly not in their interest to think they could threaten the use of or use nuclear weapons against the United States or Western Europe to their advantage; that the penalty would be so severe that it was not in their interest.
We then, thanks to successive generations of Americans and Western Europeans, fashioned institutions like NATO and went into our taxpayers' pockets and took dollars and invested so that we had sufficient strength to make that deterrent credible and to, in fact, successfully contain a large nation with an appetite for a growing empire. And it worked, and it took 50 years before they threw the towel in.
Why doesn't that work for a terrorist organization, is your question, why doesn't it work for a terrorist state? The terrorist organization does not have armies, navies or air forces that you can demonstrate to them that you can deal with them symmetrically; they have asymmetrical advantages because they're wiling to kill innocent men, and women and children, they're wiling to attack any place, any time, using a whole host of techniques.
And the difference is when those terrorists and terrorist networks begin to move towards weapons of mass destruction, and have said publicly, repeatedly, a host of things that indicate that they want them, that indicate that they're getting them and have them, in some respects, and are continuing to have them mature every year, and that they're getting closer and closer to having even more severe and more powerful and more lethal weapons, and it's pretty clear they're not deterred by the things that would normally deter a country or a terrorist network. A terrorist network has -- al Qaeda has no nation to lose.
Q: But Iraq does.
Rumsfeld: Iraq does. And so your question is, why aren't they deterred by our nuclear capability. Well, I would answer it by saying our nuclear power did not deter the war in Korea, it did not deter the war in Vietnam, it did not deter Desert Storm. In no case did anyone in the United States or Western Europe believe that the deterrent that worked on the Soviet Union worked across the spectrum. We always knew that as you move down the spectrum, away from a superpower, that the deterrent effect had little effect on those people. Otherwise, you wouldn't have had all those wars, all those conflicts. Otherwise, you wouldn't have had previous terrorist attacks, whether it's Khobar Towers or the Cole or the U.S. embassies or any number of things.
So, there is a distinct difference between what works in one case and what works in another case. It doesn't mean that containment is a bad concept. It simply means that one ought not think that one size fits all, that there's a silver bullet that worked 50 years -- for 50 years with the Soviet Union, and that same element of dissuasion would necessarily work for all these other things, when we've already got evidence that it didn't work on dozens of things throughout the past 50 years.
Q: General Myers --
Rumsfeld: Goodbye. We're leaving.
Q: Just one quick question --
Rumsfeld: We're leaving. We will see you again.
Q: But we understand the two CENTCOM computers have been found in someone's house.
Q: Have a nice weekend, sir.
Q: Can you provide any details on those two laptops?
Myers: I cannot. I'm afraid I can't. I don't know.