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17 January 2002

Transcript: Defense Department Briefing, January 16, 2002

(Detainees: numbers/locations/questioning, Philippines: U.S. military
presence/terrorist problem/joint military exercise/presence of U.S.
hostages, Kandahar: presence of al-Qaeda financier, Central Asia:
long-term U.S. presence, lawsuit by U.S. female officer, Bin Laden &
Mullah Omar: whereabouts, Kandahar airport: bunker found nearby,
Weapons of mass destruction: search of possible lab sites, U.S. troop
deployment: proper levels, John Walker Lindh: whereabouts/disposition,
Pentagon: visit of Indian defense minister) (6310)
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, USAF,
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefed reporters January 16 at
the Pentagon.
Following is the Pentagon transcript:
(begin transcript)
United States Department of Defense
Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Wednesday, January 16, 2002 - 11:58 a.m. EST
DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers
(Also participating was Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman,
Joint Chiefs of Staff.)
Rumsfeld: Sir?
Myers: We're going to change the order around a little bit today and
Q: We can ask questions first and then you'll have a statement
Rumsfeld: We give the answers, and then you ask the question --
Myers: Well, good afternoon.
Operations continue as we search for Taliban and al Qaeda leadership.
We did not drop any ordnance yesterday, but our aircraft remain on
call for any emerging targets or time-sensitive targets.
The number of al Qaeda and Taliban detainees held by U.S. forces in
Afghanistan today stands at 403. We are also currently holding 50
detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and we expect a third plane of 30
detainees to arrive there later this afternoon.
We are preparing to transfer to the government of Pakistan
approximately 90 detainees of Pakistani origin that are now held in
Afghanistan. We've screened the individuals and determined that they
should be returned to their own government for disposition. This
transfer will occur soon.
At a recent press briefing, I was asked about the status of an inquiry
into the attack on U.S. forces which killed Sergeant First Class
Chapman. While no formal investigation is called for in cases in
combat losses, U.S. Central Command and General Franks continue to
assess reporting from the field to learn what they can and what we can
from the circumstances surrounding this attack. But at this point, we
have nothing new for you.
Here in the States, in initial reports, a Navy F/A-18 nose gear
collapsed when it landed at Savannah International Airport. The pilot
ejected and is safe. The aircraft was from VFA 203, a Reserve squadron
based in Atlanta, Georgia.
And with that, sir --
Rumsfeld: Charlie?
Q: Mr. Secretary, no statement?
Rumsfeld: No, sir.
Q: Have you begun questioning yet the detainees in Gitmo, and are you
close to charging any of them?
Rumsfeld: I'm trying to think who's there now. It keeps changing.
We've been sending 10, 20 or 30 in periodically. I do not believe that
formal interrogation has continued in Guantanamo Bay. The preliminary
interrogations took place in the locations where the detainees had
previously been in custody, essentially Kandahar and Bagram, but also
some other places. And I don't believe they've started down there. And
we have not made any decisions with respect to disposition of the ones
that are currently in Guantanamo, to my knowledge.
Q: Have you begun putting them into baskets, as you say, where you
might charge them in certain areas, or which ones might be important
in terms of being charged?
Rumsfeld: Well, there are large numbers of people engaged in this
process, and the first task, as I've indicated, is our desire to try
to prevent future attacks and to try to find additional al Qaeda and
Taliban and other terrorist network individuals. Therefore, the
original interrogations have really related to intelligence gathering
and, to some extent, law enforcement. And that is what's taking place.
As you know, I think Dick just mentioned, that there are some 400-plus
that are still in custody. Some are being moved to Pakistan for their
disposition; others are being moved to Guantanamo Bay so we can
relieve the pressure on Kandahar. But we -- I guess you would say yes,
that initial sort is taking place, and he just indicated -- General
Myers did -- that some of those people are now being returned to
Pakistan for their disposition.
Q: May I do a follow-up on that, Mr. Secretary? Regarding John Walker,
as you know, under the Constitution, to try anybody or charge them
with treason takes two eyewitnesses of a treasonous act. Have you
ordered or are military trying to find two witnesses either at
Guantanamo or Kandahar, al Qaeda witnesses, who would testify against
John Walker? And if so, would the Justice Department try him with
Rumsfeld: Well, first of all, I don't know the answer to the question
as to whether we're looking. I do know we are -- looking for that
specific thing -- I don't know. I do know that we are looking at all
of those people and asking them a great many questions both for
intelligence gathering and for law enforcement. So whether or not
someone is doing that or not, I wouldn't know. They're certainly
asking them everything they know about a whole host of things. As to
what the Department of Justice would do, you'd have to ask the
Department of Justice. I just don't know.
Q: Can you bring us up to date on the deployment of U.S. troops to the
Philippines, as to where that stands today? And also describe the
significance of addressing the Abu Sayyaf problem regarding the global
terrorism problem?
Rumsfeld: Yes. We have said from the outset that the threat that
terrorists pose is a serious one, that it's global, that it involves
networks well beyond al Qaeda, and certainly areas of the world well
beyond the Central Command's area of responsibility, Afghanistan, the
Middle East, and well beyond Muslim countries. It doesn't have to do
with a religion, it doesn't have to do with a certain part of the
country or a region; it has to do with terrorists and terrorism.
The Philippines has a problem with terrorists and terrorism. They have
a terrorist network in the country that has been active, that's taken
hostages, that still has some American hostages. The government of the
Philippines has been addressing it. And the United States, through the
combatant commander in the Pacific Command, Admiral Dennis Blair, has
been working with the government of the Philippines.
At the present time we have, I believe, the last time I looked,
something like 240 or 250 Americans, military personnel, in the
country. They are located in several locations in the country. More
are going in. They are there for training purposes, they are there for
logistics purposes, they are there for an exercise with the Philippine
government. As you know, we have a very long military-to-military
relationship between the United States and the Philippines. And I
expect that there will be several hundred more people going in for
these exercises and for the training that's taking place.
Q: Will they actually advise the Philippine military in actual combat
exercises against Abu Sayyaf?
Rumsfeld: The Philippine government has dedicated -- and I'm sorry I
don't have the precise number -- but some thousands of troops to this
activity that is on Basilan Island, and we have relatively small
numbers of people on Basilan Island. We do have an exercise going on
-- that's scheduled to go on elsewhere, and we do have trainers
The government of the Philippines has been characterizing what it is
they are doing and what it is we are doing with them out of their
defense ministry, which I, as you know is my practice, kind of prefer
as a method of approach.
I think the important thing about what's taking place in the
Philippines is that this is a global problem, that we are addressing
it globally, not just in Afghanistan, and that yes, we -- the United
States of America does have military people in the Philippines working
with the Philippine government from a training and exercise standpoint
to help them deal with this problem.
Q: If -- if I could follow --
Q: A follow-up, Mr. Secretary? A follow-up? But what kind of direct
support is the U.S. military prepared to give to the Philippine
military in terms of airlift and intelligence sharing? And if the
Philippine government should ask the U.S. or grant permission, would
the U.S. military get involved directly in combat operations in the
Rumsfeld: Well, there's no question but that to the extent the United
States can be helpful from an intel standpoint, that we're happy to do
that. We do that with friendly countries. The Philippines is a
friendly country. We have worked closely with their government over
many, many years. And I'm not inclined to get into a
what-if-they-should-ask something. We'd obviously address it as we
would with any friendly country, and we would address it as a nation
whose president has announced that we are determined to find terrorist
networks and do what we can to help root them out and stop them from
killing people.
Q: Are you prepared to -- could I follow up, please?
Q: We've got a couple of -- we've got a couple of Americans held
hostage there for several months. Isn't the standard for us a little
higher here, given the fact that the terrorists there are holding some
of our people?
Rumsfeld: I don't quite follow the question. "Standard higher" --
what's that mean?
Q: I mean don't we have a more forward-leaning presence to go after
folks who are holding Americans as opposed to just dealing with
Rumsfeld: Yes.
Q: So, is that what this deployment signifies?
Rumsfeld: The United States is leaning forward, period. Certainly when
there's a situation where American hostages are being held, that adds
a dimension to our interest. What we do is we work with countries that
are not friendly, like the Taliban in Afghanistan, in one way, and we
work with countries that are friendly, like the Philippines, in a
different way. And it's a different part of the world, it's a
different set of circumstances, and the short answer is you bet your
life we're leaning forward.
Q: Mr. Secretary, if I could follow up --
Rumsfeld: Yes.
Q: -- we know that Abu Sayyaf has been involved with bombings and
killings and taking hostages. Is there any evidence or does the
Pentagon believe that this organization was somehow involved in the
September 11th attacks?
Rumsfeld: There -- there is -- first, two points I would make in
response to that. First is that there is no question that there have
been linkages between al Qaeda and activities that have taken place in
the Philippines. And second, the United States is clearly interested
in al Qaeda.
We are interested in a lot more than al Qaeda, and al Qaeda is
directly linked to September 11th. A terrorist network for us to --
for it to have our interest, need not have been directly connected
with September 11th. My goodness. If you think of the terrorist
networks that exist in the world and their relationships with nations
that are terrorist nations and nations that have weapons of mass
destruction, we simply must, as a country, be attentive to those
relationships and be attentive to the risks that are posed by nations
that do have weapons of mass destruction programs and relationships
with terrorist networks.
So we're interested in terrorism quite apart from whether or not there
is a direct linkage to September 11th. That -- that is not the litmus
test for whether or not the United States of America is interested.
Q: If I could follow -- all the documents, the cellphones, the
laptops, the evidence that you've gathered -- does any of that
directly point to the involvement of Abu Sayyaf in the September 11th
attacks? Does any of that support that at all?
Rumsfeld: I'm not in a position to respond. I don't -- and I don't
know that I would want to if I happened to have gone through and
reviewed all of that material.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Q: General Myers, sir, could you shed some light on the, I guess, the
al Qaeda financier that walked into the camp at Kandahar? Is he
credible, and is he now a detainee? What do you make of him?
Myers: We -- we're -- we're looking into that right now. We're just --
just heard about it.
Q: What's his status?  Is he free to go?
Myers: He's being questioned right now.
Q: But is he free to go once he answers questions?
Myers: I don't -- I -- we're looking into that.  He's --
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Q: Can you tell us more about the circumstances he walked in --
anything about the circumstances at all?
Myers: I think -- like we said, we're still investigating all that. We
don't -- we haven't gotten more than the first report.
Q: Can I ask you the -- I think a week or so ago, there were reports
that Taliban ministers were detained in Kandahar, and then they were
later released. I think you said at the time you couldn't confirm
that. Have you confirmed that?
Rumsfeld: I have not.  No.
Myers: There has not been any (inaudible).
Q: Is it something that you've attempted to do?
Rumsfeld: Yes. We have had -- the CENTCOM people and the other folks
we have in the country have been attempting to sort through all of
these -- who said this and who said that, and as of this moment, I
have still not been able to confirm the many reports that you read on
that subject.
Q: Can I ask you to turn back to Central Asia for a second? Can -- if
you're thinking on the need for a long-term U.S. presence in the
region, by either bases, pre-positioned equipment agreement host
nations -- you've traveled the area extensively.
Would we be welcome, and is there a military and geopolitical need to
position forces or equipment in the region?
Rumsfeld: Well let me make several comments about that. Central Asia
is a very important part of the world, and it's important to us, it's
important to the world. And it is a region that is going through a
transition. So we have an interest -- if for no other reason than
that, we have an interest.
Second, clearly Central Asia has been enormously helpful to the United
States in this period of providing assistance to us in a variety of
different ways so that we could conduct the activities and operations
with respect to Afghanistan. So we feel pleased with that. We're
grateful for that. We like that relationship and that cooperation and
that partnership that's been established.
Third, I've said that one of the really truly important things that
struck me is if you go back to World War II, in the post-World War II
period, how relationships shifted in the world dramatically and
institutions changed in various ways. And I have said that I believe
that will be the case as a result of this significant worldwide effort
to deal with terrorism. If that's true, I think one can expect that
there will be different relationships going forward, and I suspect
that some of them will be in Central Asia, and to the benefit of those
countries and to the benefit of other countries. So how it will settle
down is not clear to me, as to what it will be, but we clearly have
developed relationships during this period that are healthy and sound
and have been beneficial to the war on terrorism and I suspect will be
beneficial going forward.
Q: Well, would the model on something like that be a semi-permanent
base, like a Camp Doha in Kuwait or in Bosnia and Kosovo?
Rumsfeld: I think that would be premature to think about where one
might have permanent bases or something like that, something physical.
I was thinking more of relationships. I mean, if you think about it, a
number of those countries are members of the Partnership for Peace
program with NATO, so we've had military-to-military linkages, and
they are today stronger than they were prior to September 11th.
Q: Mr. Secretary, in another area on that region where we do have a
more long-standing military presence, Saudi Arabia, you're being sued
by Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Martha McSally, who was trying to
overturn the policy requiring women in the military there to wear --
in Saudi Arabia -- to wear a traditional Muslim abaya when they go off
Do you feel that that policy is justified, and for what reasons?
Rumsfeld: Well, I have read in the paper that I've been sued. I don't
know that I -- I have not -- I know I have not seen any documents or
anything about it. And I guess I've lived long enough to know that you
-- one probably ought not to discuss legal cases if one's engaged in
My understanding of what I know of the situation is essentially this,
that a military officer has disagreed with the policy that was
established by the combatant commander in charge of that area of
responsibility, that command. And it's my understanding that the
decision was made by him based on force protection interests. How it
will sort out or what the issues are precisely that'll turn out to be
legal issues I just don't know.
Q: Could that be justified, women going out dressed like that, where
male soldiers aren't required to dress in Saudi traditional male
costumes when they
Rumsfeld: Well, you're trying to pull me out on a subject that I'm
uncomfortable being pulled out on. The -- I think that if we could go
to a generic issue, as opposed to this particular issue.
The circumstances of the United States armed forces are that we have
activities in a variety of parts of the world. And we have
relationships with countries in many parts of the world. And other
countries, just as the United States has different practices and
approaches and procedures, so do other countries. And when you're in
other countries, there's two issues. One is you tend to behave in a
way that's consistent with the rules of those countries, to the extent
that you want to be in that country.
And second, you -- a commander also has the issue of determining what
is in the best interest of the force in terms of force protection,
particularly in parts of the world where there are threats and -- a
variety of threats as we know exist today. It is the tension between
those things and an individual person's rights to do things that they
feel are appropriate to them as opposed to appropriate to the country
they're in or appropriate to the force protection requirements that a
combatant commander may impose. So it is those kinds of issues that,
needless to say, have to be discussed and considered, and are. And
ultimately, you know, to the extent it's a matter for courts, courts
will be involved, as --
Rumsfeld: Wait! Wait, wait, wait, wait! Wait! Wait! Let's go to the
loudest voice.
Q: I don't know if you want to reward that kind of negative behavior.
Rumsfeld: He's right. I should not reward the negative behavior. Let's
go back here.
Q: (Off mike) -- on a related topic --
Rumsfeld: Wait, wait! No, here --
Q: The first -- those 90 detainees being sent back to Pakistan, is
this the first group that went out in a series of repatriations back
to other countries, and are there any al Qaeda members among those 90
that are going back to Pakistan?
Rumsfeld: I don't think it's the first. I think we have done this
probably with Pakistan previously. I'm not certain of that, but I'm
pretty sure of it. I know we have rejected people -- that they have
detained people that we have opined that we didn't need to take after
interrogating them. And in some cases we've taken some people
physically into custody, detained them, interrogated, and this is an
instance where we're returning them to them. Is it the first or second
or third? It's one of the early ones. And will it continue? I would
think so.
Q: But to other countries as well?
Rumsfeld: I wouldn't be a bit surprised.
Q: And do you -- are any of those 90 people al Qaeda members?
Rumsfeld: I would doubt it.
Q: General Myers?  Could you --
Q: Mr. Secretary, if I might -- I want your reward. Certainly you must
appreciate the irony of the fact that the United States military has
just given Afghan women the right --
Rumsfeld: It has not escaped me.
Q: So -- and the situation with the abaya. I mean, how do you rectify
that in your brain?
Rumsfeld: Trying to climb in there and figure that out is beyond me. I
guess what you do is you get up every morning and you take the world
like you find it, and you do the best you can.
Q: All right, let me try again --
Rumsfeld: I really do believe that what the United States has done in
Afghanistan is an enormously liberating thing for all the people, male
and female, but certainly particularly for females in that country,
and their lives are going to be vastly different if we're able to see
a government evolve in a way that's constructive and positive for
those people.
Q: Well, let me try -- let me try another question, since I didn't
really get an answer to that one.
Rumsfeld: I won't comment any better on this one -- after that
Q: You know that all the conflicting intelligence about the
whereabouts of bin Laden and Omar and how it's difficult to define any
real truth from that intelligence --
Rumsfeld: Well, that's all useful. I mean, in other words, you have to
take a lot of information that may or may not be true and try to sift
and sort and figure out and track down and calibrate the reliability
of pieces. So it's all helpful.
Q: So for the moment, have those two vanished?
Rumsfeld: I wouldn't think that would be how they would characterize
it themselves. If one thinks about it, they know where they are, and
they know who they are, and they know that we're looking for them. I
-- if you don't have them, you don't have them.
It seems to me that pursuing this is fruitless -- orally; that
pursuing them on the ground is worthwhile, and we're doing that. And
we've got a lot of people working on it. We've got Afghan people
working on it, we've got Americans working on it, we've got other
countries, Special Forces working on it, coalition partners on the
ground physically doing things. And they are doing a darn good job.
The fact that the job is not completed, it seems to me ought not to be
surprising. It is a very difficult thing to find one or two or three
or 12 or 15 or 20 specific human beings. I've mentioned how long it
takes to find the 10 Most Wanted. Someone told me it took 17-1/2 years
to find the Unabomber. Now, it suggests that the task we're about is a
difficult one, which is why from the outset we've tried not to
personalize this and pretend that the ultimate goal was to capture one
or two people. It never has been. The goal has been to deal with
terrorism. Do we want to catch them? You bet. Are we trying to? You
bet. Will we eventually? I certainly believe we will.
(Cross talk.)
Rumsfeld: I'm sorry?
Q: For the record, do you have any reports of --
Rumsfeld: This is all for the record. Do you think this is off the
Q: I mean, I don't want to -- I just want to ask you directly, do you
have, currently, any reports that Osama bin Laden or Omar have been
captured or located?
Rumsfeld: I -- at any given time, there are probably 50 to 100 reports
from people: "I think this." "I think that." "You should go here." "Go
here, do this."
Lots of information is coming in. How could I say -- answer to that
any specific information? It's all specific. Most of it's wrong --
(laughter) -- but it's all specific. It is -- what we are trying to
know is where somebody is, and we don't know precisely where he is. We
have a good sense in the country; we still believe they're in the
country. We're still working on that basis, although we are looking
some other places as well, from time to time.
Q: General Myers, can you clarify the circumstance of the bunker that
was found outside the Marines' perimeter at Kandahar airport early
Tuesday morning? Were there weapons stored within that bunker or
tunnel complex? And were other bunkers or hiding places subsequently
And does it concern you or come as a surprise that the Taliban and al
Qaeda had -- and/or al Qaeda fighters had locations that close to the
Myers: I don't have a -- I've got to tell you, I don't have a great
deal of information on the specifics that you ask. And we'll go find
that and provide it to you after the briefing.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Rumsfeld: Other than to say that that's generally right.
Myers: Right.
Rumsfeld: They did find a bunker in reasonable proximity to the
Kandahar airport, and they found some people tripping away from it,
and they located the bunker and they found some ammunition and weapons
and things like that. And that ought not to be surprising.
Myers: It shouldn't be surprising because -- that's the part I would
follow up on, is that clearly many regions in Afghanistan are still
very, very dangerous. Kandahar would be -- have to be among them. And
so I don't think we're surprised about that.
Q: There was information being given out by Central Command that no
weapons were found in the bunker, but the lead colonel in Kandahar
told reporters that weapons were --
Rumsfeld: That's what I heard, that there were.
Myers: And that's why I said I don't want to give you the specifics
right now. Let us follow up and get the exact information.
Q: Mr. Secretary, does the U.S. have any information that al Qaeda has
or was producing weapons of mass destruction? And can you expand on
the search of those facilities in Afghanistan?
Rumsfeld: The number of facilities keeps going up that are targeted,
and it's now somewhere in the low 50s. And somewhere in the low 40s
have already been accessed, but the test results from materials and
information that came out of them has not all been produced back. So
we're at varying stages. There's still a few yet to explore, a
handful, and there's still some information to come back.
The short answer is, to my knowledge, we have found a number of things
that show an appetite for weapons of mass destruction -- diagrams,
materials, reports that things were asked for, things were discussed
at meetings, that type of thing. In terms of having hard evidence of
actual possession of weapons of mass destruction, we have -- I do not
have that at this stage, except to say that I think I've mentioned
that in one case there was a high radioactivity count and it looks as
though that was probably the result of depleted uranium on some
warheads. There were -- there are canisters that have e been found
that clearly are -- I shouldn't say that. We've not been in them yet.
But externally they appear to be weapons of mass destruction, but
until we get into them, look at them, analyze it, find out what it
was, we're not going to know. And as we do, obviously, we'll let folks
And as we do, obviously, we'll let folks know.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: Mr. Secretary, if we go back a couple of years, one of the
criticisms of the previous administration was there had deployed too
many U.S. military forces too far overseas in too many places. We now
have this fairly significant deployment to the Philippines, talking
about setting up bases in Central Asia. There's a report this week
that we might be expanding military assistance to Colombia. Isn't it,
at least, ironic that you find yourself in this situation today,
deploying U.S. forces around the world in a pretty broad way?
Rumsfeld: I don't know that if I were going to get up in the morning
and look at our circumstance in the world that I would characterize it
as ironic.
Well, let me put it this way: A, you're right. There is a desire to
recognize that the operations and personnel tempo for the United
States military was high in previous years because of a variety of
deployments. My fault with that, if that's the right word, is -- is
that I think what we ought to be doing is the things we need to be
doing, and we ought not to be doing the things that others can do
better or that we should have been doing in the first instance but no
longer need to be doing.
And I do not believe that we still need our forces in the Sinai. I
just plain don't. And we're working carefully with our friends and
allies in Israel and Egypt to see if there isn't some reasonable way
that, after 22 years, we can modestly reduce some of those folks that
are down there in the Sinai.
We have addressed the Bosnia situation. They were put in there. The
United States government announced they'd be out by Christmas. It's
now five years later. Several Christmases have passed -- five, to be
precise. And what does it say - suggest? It suggested to me, as a --
an interested observer concerned about the men and women in the armed
services, who get asked to do a whale of lot -- and we ought to have
them do what we need, but we ought not to impose excessively on them,
such that the wear and tear on the force is excessive. I think what we
ought to say is that, and what we've done in Bosnia is, we've been
pulling down the number of people there.
And how have we done it? We've been doing it because we've insisted
that people look at it and say: What do we really need today? And what
might be put in our place that would provide the kind of stability
we're now providing that is more in the line of a civil force, a
police force or something, or a civil system, court system, so that we
don't have to have people who were trained for battle and trained for
a totally different function in there, performing basically a police
Now that's what we're doing. If you go in with a group of people --
NATO, in this case, and other, non-NATO countries -- and you say,
"Look, we'll go in together, we'll come out together," then you ought
to go in together and you ought to come out together. But that doesn't
mean you ought to stay there in perpetuity.
So I think that the administration has a very healthy, proper attitude
about it -- that when we get into something, by golly, we want to know
what it is we're doing and what's going to take our place when we come
out, because we don't plan to go in and spend a career or a lifetime
or two generations in these places. We want to be helpful where we
can. We can contribute to peace and stability. We have an important
country in an important time in the world, and we ought to do that.
But I do think we ought to do it with our eyes wide open, and we ought
to do it in a measured way, and we not -- ought not to do it
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Myers: Let me add something to the question, because without having a
long discussion about exactly where you were going, you contrasted a
"then" and "now." And of course what changed now is that we're engaged
in this global war on terrorism. We've stood up here and said that
we're going to use all the instruments of national power and our
military in ways that we need to use it to do our best to do away with
this threat, and that remains today.
So I think comparing what was and what is -- circumstances have really
changed, and we're dedicated to this. Notwithstanding everything the
secretary said -- he said it exactly right, and we've -- I mean, this
is --
Rumsfeld: But if we have to go into 15 more countries, we ought to do
it, to deal with the problem of terrorism, so we don't allow this
problem to damage and kill tens of thousands more people.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
Rumsfeld: What do you say we have two more questions?
Q: I was denied a follow-up --
Rumsfeld: What do you say we have two more -- and you're the first.
Q: Okay.  Thank you.  A moment ago, you --
Rumsfeld: And you're the second.
Q: A moment ago --
Q: That's two.
Q: I haven't had --
Q: He hasn't had any.
Q: A moment ago --
Rumsfeld: Neither has, have they?
Q: He's had two.
Q: A moment ago you said that some canisters were found that are
suspected to contain weapons of mass destruction.
Rumsfeld: No, the --
Q: Can you tell us the circumstance, how, who found them, and --
Rumsfeld: I don't remember. I've seen pictures of them. Externally,
they've got stuff on them that make reasonable people think there's
something not good in there, and we're going to check them out.
Q: Would it be chemical, biological --
Q: And sir, would it be chemical, biological, radiological?
Rumsfeld: One, I -- if I had to assume, I'd assume the former. But I
-- why make assumptions when you don't have to?
Q: You mean the former -- chemical?
Rumsfeld: Mm-hmm. (Affirmative.) But I just don't know. Until we get
into them and look at them, we won't know.
Q: Mr. Secretary, can you -- just clarifying, John Walker Lindh -- is
he still on the USS Bataan, or has he been moved already? And if you'd
just get into a little bit of the process as to how he gets to the
United States -- is it up to the military to handle that, or Justice
Rumsfeld: Now one day I was here, and I was asked a question like
that, as to where is he this minute, and there was a plane on this
screen showing that it was taking off as I was describing that they
were still there, as I recall.
And that's why I turn and look at the screens to make sure.
The short answer is, the last time I looked, before I came down here,
he was still on the Bataan. He is going to be passed off to the United
States Department of Justice in a safe and responsible way, and humane
way, soon. And they are working -- I'm not really a travel agent. They
are working out the details as to whether they want to do it in this
city or that city or in this location or that location. At which
point, then, the receiving party will bring him back to the United
States, and I believe they have announced that they intend to bring
him into the Northern District of Virginia at one of the multiple
airports in the region and incarcerate him somewhere here, pending the
civil -- criminal justice system taking over.
Q: Mr. Secretary, does "soon" mean today or --
Rumsfeld: I don't know. It's being done at a level down here that is
-- you know, we know what's going to happen. He's going to end up
going from the Bataan to the Department of Justice custody somewhere
in the world, and then ultimately arrive in Virginia and ultimately
arrive in court.
And I thank you, and we're going to excuse ourselves.
Q: How was the movie?
Q: (Off mike) -- inside Afghanistan?  Was this done just recently?
Rumsfeld: The movie was powerful.
Recently.  What's recently, within the month?  Yeah.
Q: Within the last couple of weeks --
Rumsfeld: In the last couple of weeks, I think so. But I was made
aware of them in the last --
Q: And do you know where they were found?  Can you say?
Rumsfeld: Afghanistan.
Q: Mr. Secretary, can you talk about India, the defense minister's
visit tomorrow here, sir.
Rumsfeld: I'm looking forward to it.
Q: And the forces, Indian and Pakistani forces, are aiming at each
other. Are you going to ask him, sir, Mr. Secretary, that India or
Pakistan should move the forces out of the border?
Rumsfeld: I am looking forward to it.  Thank you.
Q: We'll see you Friday!
(end Pentagon transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

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