American Forces Press Service

Rumsfeld: Anti-Terror War Provides New Dimension of Threat

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 7, 2002 - Unlike the Cold War which chiefly presented exterior threats to America, today's war against global terrorism provides an interior threat, as well, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today.

Rumsfeld noted before a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing that Sept. 11 "taught us to our regret" that America and its people remain vulnerable to attack.

"But, it's a vulnerability that's different from that of the Cold War," he emphasized.

Today, as during the Cold War, America remains vulnerable to missile attack, "which is why we're working to develop and deploy defenses against the most likely forms of ballistic and cruise missile attacks," Rumsfeld said.

The significant difference today, he noted, "is that we are vulnerable not only to external attack, but (also) to hostile forces among us, who enter our country easily, who remain anonymous, and who use the freedom America affords to plan and execute their violent deeds."

The Office of Homeland Security, Rumsfeld noted, was established to coordinate the efforts of federal, state and local organizations "to provide for security here, at home."

"The President understands that a terrorist can attack at any time, at any place, using any conceivable technique," the secretary said, "He also understands that it is physically impossible to defend against every conceivable threat, in every place, at every time."

But, there is another way to successfully defend against terrorism and other 21st-century threats to American national security, Rumsfeld said.

"It requires that we take the war to the enemy," he said, noting, "Our task is to put pressure on terrorists wherever they are, (whether in) Afghanistan (or) across the globe, to ensure that they have no safe haven, no sanctuary."

The president has "marshaled all of the nation's capabilities -- political, economic, financial, law enforcement, military, intelligence - to attack and destroy and put pressure on terrorists organizations with global reach, and those that harbor them."

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