24 September 2001
Transcript: Rumsfeld Interview on CBS-TV's "Face the Nation"
(Military continues to position forces, he says) (2290)
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said September 23 that the United
States continues "getting our forces positioned in various places
around the world," as well as "getting itself arranged across the
government" in order to respond to the terrorist attacks of September
Appearing on the CBS television news program "Face the Nation,"
Rumsfeld stressed that the U.S. response "is a broad-based effort, not
a military effort alone."
Rumsfeld brushed aside an opening question stating that Afghanistan's
ruling Taliban group says it does not know the whereabouts of indicted
terrorist Osama bin Laden. "They know where he is," Rumsfeld asserted.
Elaborating, he said, "They know their country. They have been
fighting against ... the Soviets there for years. They've been
fighting among themselves and the tribes. They're hearty, tough
people. They have networks throughout the country, and it is just not
believable that the Taliban do not know where the network can be
located and found and either turned over or expelled."
The defense secretary emphasized that the focus of the U.S. response
is not merely on Afghanistan. "This is not an Afghan problem, this is
a worldwide problem of terrorist networks. And let there be no doubt
about it, the al Qaeda network is in at least 60 countries, and they
are just one of many networks," he said.
Responses from governments around the world have been gratifying and
in some cases surprising, Rumsfeld said. He denied that Saudi Arabia
had not been forthcoming in response to U.S. requests for assistance.
"Insofar as I am aware, we have gotten everything from Saudi Arabia
that we have asked them to do," he said.
Answering a question speculating that terrorists in the United States
may have intended to disperse chemical or biological weapons with
crop-dusting planes, Rumsfeld said that the countries listed as state
sponsors of terrorism "have very active chemical and biological
warfare programs. And we know that they are in close contact with
terrorist networks around the world."
This ought to "re-energize" the effort to counter the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction around the world, he said. "It's a
terribly important effort, and we've got to get other countries to
start working with us to a much greater extent than they are."
Following is the transcript of Secretary Rumsfeld's appearance on
"Face the Nation":
DoD News Briefing Sunday, September 23, 2001
Interview of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
By Bob Schieffer and Gloria Borger on CBS "Face the Nation"
MR. SCHIEFFER: And the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, is in
the studio. Thank you for coming, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY DONALD RUMSFELD: Good morning.
MR. SCHIEFFER: The Taliban now says that Osama Bin Laden, they're
seeking him to see if they can issue the request to tell him to leave.
But they also say they don't know where he is. Should we take them at
A: Of course not. They know where he is.
MR. SCHIEFFER: And what should we do? Or what are we saying to them?
A: Well, I think we have to think about Afghanistan in a different
context. First of all, there are many Afghan people who are repressed,
who are starving, who are fleeing from the Taliban. There are any
number of factions within the Taliban that don't agree with Omar, the
man who contends that now they can't find the person they have been
harboring for years. There are many in the Taliban who prefer that the
Taliban not harbor Osama Bin Laden and the al Qaeda network. So, it is
not as though there is a front and that there are good guys and bad
guys. There are many tribes. There is the northern alliance. There are
tribes in the south. And it is a very different kind of a conflict and
a problem. What we have to do is to see that those who have been
harboring terrorists stop harboring terrorists.
MR. SCHIEFFER: When you said that they know where he is, you sound
very certain of that. How can you be so certain?
A: They know their country. They had been fighting against the
Russians there, the Soviets there for years. They have been fighting
among themselves in the tribes. They have -- they're hearty, tough
people. They have networks throughout the country. And it is just not
believable that the Taliban do not know where the network can be
located and found, and either turned over or expelled.
MR. SCHIEFFER: You have been understandably reluctant to discuss any
kind of troop movements. Certainly that's understandable. Let me just
ask you the general question: is the United States now in the position
A: What we have been doing since the day of the attack is getting our
forces positioned in various places around the world. This is not an
Afghan problem. This is a worldwide problem of terrorist networks. And
let there be no doubt about it the -- the al Qaeda network is in at
least 60 countries, and they are just one of many networks. And what
we've been doing is getting our capabilities for -- located,
positioned, arranged around the world, so that at that point where the
president decides that he has a set of things that he would like done,
that we will be in a position to carry those things out.
And second, the United States government, even more importantly, has
been getting itself arranged across the government -- the Department
of Treasury and the State Department, and the Central Intelligence
Agency as well as the Defense establishment -- to help the world
understand that it is a broad-based effort, not a military effort
alone. But, it's going to have to go after political, and diplomatic,
and economic interests -- financial interests.
MS. BORGER: Mr. Secretary, are you still convinced that Osama Bin
Laden's network acted alone?
A: "Still" suggests I was once convinced of that, which --
MS. BORGER: Oh, are you convinced --
A: -- which was not the case. I've never been convinced that that is
the case. There is no way in the world that a network can function as
effectively over such a long period of time, with such excellent
finances, and false passports, and all of the intelligence information
they had to have, without the being fostered, and facilitated, and
assisted, and financed by states, and by businesses, and by
non-governmental organizations, and by corporations. It is a -- it is
a large network.
MS. BORGER: Well, last week on this show, Colin Powell said that as of
that moment you had not found any Iraqi fingerprints, for example, on
this particular terrorist act. Is that still the case?
A: I am not going to reveal intelligence information about what we
know. What we do know is that the states that are on the terrorist
list -- and Iraq is one of them, and so is Syria, and so is North
Korea and Cuba, and so is Libya -- that those states have over a
period of time harbored and assisted terrorist organizations to engage
in terrorist acts in other countries. That we know of certain
knowledge. As the president said, what we're looking at today is what
-- how are those states going to behave going forward?
MR. SCHIEFFER: There is considerable pressure building in various
quarters -- both in the Congress, some members of Congress, and others
around the country -- that we ought to go after Iraq. Are you feeling
A: Well, I think that the president has a set of decisions and
calculations he has to make. And he is making them, and he's making
them very well, in my judgment. This is not a quick effort -- a
battle, an event, television event with cruise missiles ending it,
with a signing ceremony on the Missouri at the end of World War II --
that isn't what this is about. What the president is doing is he's
looking at the totality of this problem and the full capabilities of
our country and of all the other countries that have joined us. I
mean, it's been a wonderful outpouring of support across the world,
and in this country, because it's going to take that -- it's going to
take people providing scraps of information that are going to enable
us to do the job we need to do to stop countries from helping these
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you about that. There are some reports
that perhaps we're not getting what we have asked Saudi Arabia for.
Can you comment on those reports?
A: We have -- insofar as I'm aware, we have gotten everything that we
-- from Saudi Arabia that we have asked them to do. Now, we have not
asked them to do some things, but I have been in touch with the Saudi
leadership, and there is no question but that they are our friends and
that they are determined to deal with this problem of terrorism just
as we are. The important thing, however, is -- is that we have to
remember that every country has a different circumstance. And every
country is not going to be engaged, or agree with, or be involved in
everything we do. The message I would leave is this: that the mission
determines the coalition, and we don't allow coalitions to determine
MR. SCHIEFFER: Secretary Powell said last week that Iran has made a
rather positive statement in all of this. He wouldn't give us any
details of that, but he said it is worth exploring. Have we explored?
And where does that stand?
A: Well, the United States government is exploring with as many
countries as is humanly possible ways that they can help us in this
effort. And -- and we are getting help from countries in some
instances that are surprising. We are also getting help from people in
countries that one would be surprised. And we need that help, because
that information will be what will help determine it.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Have we ruled out the use of nuclear weapons?
A: We -- we -- the United States, to my knowledge, has never ruled out
the use of nuclear weapons. We -- we have always said, if you'll think
back to the Cold War, that we would not rule out the first use of
nuclear weapons because there was overwhelming conventional capability
that we felt that it would add to the deterrent, and so we have never
What we need to do, it seems to me, as a country, is to recognize how
different this situation is, and then the traditional -- think of it,
the deterrence that worked in the Cold War didn't work. We were just
hit by an asymmetrical attack that President Bush, in his Citadel
speech, before he was ever sworn into office, cautioned the world
about and said we must transform our military. He was right.
MS. BORGER: Mr. Secretary, this morning Time Magazine is reporting
that U.S. law enforcement officials have found a manual on the
operation of crop dusting equipment. Does that mean that we now need
to be concerned that these terrorists were intent on dispersing
chemical and biological weapons?
A: We can't know that for certain. We can suspect it. And one of the
other pieces of evidence that is clear in open publications, we know
that the countries that I just listed, that have sponsored terrorism
for decades, are countries that have very active chemical and
biological warfare programs. And we know that they are in close
contact with terrorist networks around the world. So, reasonable
people have to say to themselves that when you find that kind of
information, it ought to cause us to recognize that those are dangers
that we need to worry about. And the way we worry about them, it seems
to me, one way is to -- is to re-energize our effort against the
proliferation of these weapons of mass destruction throughout the
globe. It's a terribly important effort, and we've got to get other
countries to start working with us to a much greater extent than they
MR. SCHIEFFER: Two -- two final questions. Number one, should the
United States lift the executive order that was issued by President
Ford on assassinating -- on assassinations? And number two, can you
tell us, does this operation have a new name, and can you tell us what
A: The executive order on assassinations that was signed by President
Ford is something that President Bush may or may not address and it's
not for me to be making announcements on that subject. And I -- and I
honestly do not know if it's even under review at the present time. We
have plenty of things we can be doing without that.
MR. SCHIEFFER: And what about the name of the operation?
A: The name of the operation is being changed. It will probably be
changed later today. And we want to find a name that is representative
of the effort, and is certainly -- in no way at all would raise any
question on the part of any -- any religion or any group of people.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much.
A: Thank you.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Thank you. When we come back, we're going to talk to
the Pakistani ambassador, Maleeha Lohdi, in a minute.
(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