24 September 2001
Transcript: Rumsfeld Remarks to Journalists September 23
(Says many in Taliban do not support al Qaeda) (1760)
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says divisions that exist in
Afghanistan, particularly among the ruling Taliban group, could prove
helpful in the effort to root out the al Qaeda terrorist network.
There are many in the Taliban who do not support the al Qaeda
organization and would "dearly love" to see it expelled from the
country, the secretary told journalists in Washington who questioned
him following his September 23 appearance on CBS-TV's "Face the
Asked whether there are sections of the Taliban with which the United
States could work, Rumsfeld said there "are undoubtedly sections of
most elements that, if we can persuade people that other elements in
that activity are doing something that is going to cause great damage
to them, that they best not be a party to it." He added that "we're
seeing people shift sides all across the globe."
Rumsfeld confirmed that the United States had lost contact with one of
its unmanned reconnaissance planes, but he added that "We have no
reason to believe it was shot down as the press is reporting."
The secretary said the decision by the United Arab Emirates to break
off diplomatic relations with the Taliban constituted a victory in the
fight against terrorism.
Following is the transcipt of Secretary Rumsfeld's remarks:
DoD News Briefing
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
September 23, 2001
(Media stakeout in Washington, D.C., following broadcast of Face the
RUMSFELD: (In progress) The president's speech was very clear. It is
that he intends to do everything humanly possible to see that the
terrorists and terrorist networks in this world are broken up and stop
trying to attack the way of life of the American people and free
people across the globe. Those terrorist networks could not operate
successfully without the support of countries and businesses and banks
and people and non-governmental organizations that harbor and finance
and facilitate and tolerate them. And the president was as clear as he
could be on that subject.
Q: Mr. Secretary -
Q: Did the U.S. lose a reconnaissance plane over Afghanistan?
A: The United States has in fact lost a -- lost contact, I should say
-- with an unmanned aerial vehicle. That happens from time to time in
terms of the controls. We have no reason to believe it was shot down
as the press is reporting.
Q: BBC World Service. We have millions of listeners inside Afghanistan
who can't understand why they may be targets or (inaudible). What do
you have to say to that?
A: You know, your question points up the complexity of this problem of
terrorism. First of all, the problem is not unique to Afghanistan. It
is a problem that is -- there are terrorists operating -- just one
organization, al Qaeda, has activities in some sixty nations.
But if you take that one subject of Afghanistan -- and I wouldn't want
to focus obsessively on it -- in Afghanistan, you have a great many
Afghan people who are repressed, who are starved, who are -- do not
agree with what the Taliban is doing -- certainly do not agree with
what the al Qaeda is doing. Many of whom are fleeing the country. And
it is a terribly sad situation, and we need to find ways to make
absolutely certain that people understand that there is no one that is
against the Afghan people or any people.
Second, there are many people in the Taliban who don't agree with the
leadership of the Taliban. And so there's that great (inaudible).
Third, there are a lot of people in the Taliban who do not support the
al Qaeda organization and would dearly love to see that group expelled
from that country. So, this is not something where you're doing to see
a front and a Battle of the Bulge and some trench warfare against good
people and bad people.
What we're seeing here is all of the complicated gradations and
dimensions of this problem and our task -- the task of people who
value freedom and the ability to get up in the morning as you people
did and walk out without having to wear a flack jacket or hide in your
cellar or look up and down the street for fear someone's going to
We need to get people who believe in that way of life to help us with
information. If they're a government, to help us by expelling people
that are engaged in terrorist networks, and it will be people all
across that spectrum. And it's an important fight and I think we're
going to win it.
Q: (Inaudible) -- Colin Powell is -- maintaining the coalition,
building the coalition is all-important. You've said, "Well, not
really" you've said that the coalition doesn't dictate policy.
A: Colin Powell and I are together once or twice a day. We talk on the
phone probably four or five times a day. We do not have differences.
We are close friends and I have a great deal of respect for him. Human
beings say things in different ways. There is no question that he and
the president and I are all in agreement that coalitions are
Obviously, there's no way that one country could go about this task
and think they could accomplish anything without the cooperation not
just of other countries, but of people in countries that are like the
Afghan people where we need their help in terms of providing
information and intelligence.
Now, what I said is correct also. What I said was that the mission
determines the coalition. And the coalition must not be permitted to
determine the mission. The president has stated the mission. It is
clear. We're going to have different countries and different people in
different countries supporting us with respect to these activities and
possibly not those. They're going to support -- other -- still a
different group will support us with a totally -- different set of
activities. And that's perfectly understandable. No one agrees with
everybody all of the time on everything. Even my wife doesn't agree
with me all of the time.
Q: (Inaudible) -- troop deployment order. Have you signed one?
A: I have signed a number of troop deployment orders and what was
first and what was second and whether there have been only two would
be misleading. Q: Recently, have you ...
A: I sign deployment orders almost every day for a variety of
different things. Yes?
Q: Sir, the Taliban says that bin Laden is missing. Are you confident
that you can find him, that you will be able to use his firepower, and
that he's not going to be able to evade you?
A: No, I'm not confident that we will find him and use this firepower.
Let's think of it this way.
First of all, the fact is that the Taliban do know where the al Qaeda
organization is. And the fact that they're saying that they don't is
simply not credible.
Second, is it likely that an aircraft carrier or a cruise missile is
going to find a person? No, it's not likely. That isn't how this is
going to happen. This is going to happen over a sustained period of
time because of a broadly-based effort where bank accounts are frozen,
where pieces of intelligence are provided and where countries decide
that they want to change their policies and no longer create a
hospitable environment for people that are running around, driving
airplanes into World Trade Tower and the Pentagon, and that they want
to expel those kinds of people.
And no-one can know when it'll happen, or how it'll happen, but I --
first of all, I've got a lot of confidence in the American people, and
free people across the globe, that they value that freedom and that
they're willing to sustain a long effort.
And second, I've got a lot of confidence that the kinds of information
we need to get, and indeed are starting to get, about how these
terrorist networks function, and how we can root them out, is going to
pay dividends. In what way, at what time, in what country, in what
place is yet to be seen, but we are making progress.
And, I'll give you -- we think of a victory, the Battle of Midway in
World War II. We had a victory yesterday. The United Arab Emirates
broke diplomatic relations with the Taliban. There is a victory. There
is an instance where a country said, Well, we've reflected on this,
and we do not want to be a party to that. We do not want to be in
diplomatic relations with an activity, the Taliban in Afghanistan,
that clearly has been harboring the al Qaeda network. And that is a
good thing and an important thing.
Q: But Mr. Secretary, there are divisions within the Taliban. Are
there sections of the Taliban with which you can work?
A: There are undoubtedly sections of most elements that, if we can
persuade people that other elements in that activity are doing
something that is going to cause great damage to them, that they best
not be a party to it. And as they then incrementally move away and
decide that they're not going to be supportive of that faction within
Taliban, the faction that is pretending they don't know where the al
Qaeda organization is located, which is laughable.
Some of the Taliban say, Well, it could get uncomfortable supporting
those people. So, I think I'll shift sides. And we're seeing people
shift sides all across the globe.
Q: But Mr. Secretary, how would you define the ultimate victory in
A: The ultimate victory in this war is when everyone who wants to can
do what everyone of us did today, and that is get up, let your
children go to school, go out of the house and not in fear, stand here
on a sidewalk and not worry about a truck bomb driving into us, and be
able to be free in speech and thought and activity and behavior. And
Q: You've got this policy --
A: I'm going to run. I gotta go to work. It's a workday for me.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list