The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW


07 August 2002

Defense Department Briefing Transcript

(Afghanistan/U.S. soldier injured, Iraq/coalition warplanes sorties,
joint chiefs/Iraqi attack, Iraqi attack/news leaks, Central
Command/missing laptop computers, Saudi Arabia/Iraqi attack, Saudi
Arabia/RAND briefing, attacks/al-Qaeda and Taliban militia,
civil-military leaders/disagreements, Iraqi attack/allies support,
Saudi Arabia/U.S. contacts, North Korea, U.S. troops'
future/Afghanistan, Iraq/al-Qaeda links, al-Qaeda/50-60 countries)
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Air Force General Richard Myers,
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefed the news media August 7
at the Pentagon.
(begin transcript)
DoD News Briefing
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Wednesday, August 07, 2002 -- 2 p.m. EDT
(Also participating was Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff.)
Rumsfeld: Where's that lieutenant who said he wanted a seat in here?
(Light laughter.)
I have  -- 
Q: We saved him one right here.
Rumsfeld: (Chuckling.) There you go. Good. He must be busy working.
Myers: I just have a brief opening statement. Thank you, Mr.
Earlier today a U.S. soldier was injured while on patrol south of
Khost. He was shot in the chest, and he's currently being attended to
and getting medical treatment as we speak.
Yesterday in Afghanistan U.S. Special Operations forces operating
north of Asadabad returned fire after being fired upon from a blue
sedan. Four enemy were killed and one wounded. There were no U.S.
casualties. And while searching the vehicle, they found a satellite
phone and a large amount of Pakistani currency.
Turning to Iraq for just a second, in just the last week Iraq has
fired at coalition aircraft five times in Operation Northern Watch and
five times during Operation Southern Watch. We responded most recently
on Sunday with three precision-guided munitions against air- defense
facilities about 145 miles southwest of Baghdad.
And in Iraq maritime intercept operations, we have diverted 36 vessels
in the last one-week period, ending on Monday. The number is a little
higher than usual because the Iraqis are using these smaller ships and
vessels, these dhows, to try to circumvent their -- the U.N. sanctions
And with that, we'll take your questions.
Rumsfeld: Charlie?
Q: Mr. Chairman, very briefly, do you have any additional details on
the man who was wounded at Khost? Was this an ambush? Was this an
exchange of fire? Was he just --
Myers: We don't have many details. This is first report. We know one
is wounded in the chest and is being taken care of, and we'll provide
those details when we know them. We just don't know them right now.
Q: And might I ask you regarding today's report in the Washington
Times, have the chiefs -- have the chiefs -- are you now convinced
that in the final analysis, it's going to take a military operation to
remove Saddam Hussein, and have you-all signed on to that, that idea?
Myers: Well, can I talk about the articles that have been in --
probably the last three or four weeks I guess there have been a series
of articles. From where I sit and the people that I talk to on a daily
basis, meaning the Joint Chiefs of Staff, other senior military
officials, the things that are said and portrayed in the articles
simply aren't said or said to me -- they are not accurate portrayals
of what I see on a daily basis and what I hear.
And beyond that, the kind of advice that the military provides to
Secretary Rumsfeld and the president and the rest of the National
Security Council is certainly privileged communications and I'm not
going to share that with you here.
Q: Well, do you think these leaks -- Mr. Secretary, do these leaks
represent some kind of political jockeying from all sides in town
trying to get the upper hand on what they perceive should be done to
remove Saddam?
Rumsfeld: I don't have any idea what motivates people. The -- I mean,
I've been kind of struck by the articles being so inconsistent one
with another. One day it says that the chiefs are totally out of the
loop and not being consulted and they're unhappy, another says they
are consulted but they don't agree, another says they're consulted and
they do agree. I think it's all kind of mischievous and -- but it's
not for me to speculate as to why people do things.
Q: Mr. Secretary, I talked to Senator Levin last week, and on the
record he said he's talked to a number of top military people and they
have significant cautions and concerns about going into Iraq and that
the civilian leadership in the building is not giving them due
consideration. And I asked him, did you follow this up -- did you
check this after these articles came out, and he said no, this was a
long time ago after talking to a number of people, uniformed
General Myers, is there a reservoir of concern within the building --
Myers: I think I just answered that.
Q: Well, this is on the record from a top senator, though. I mean --
Myers: I'm just -- I'm just saying that if -- I mean the way things
are portrayed in these articles simply haven't occurred in front of
me, okay? And I can't talk about our operational plans or what our
advice is, and so forth. But you can imagine if we were planning an
operation against the moon, that we would have a lot of discussion
about how best to do that and so forth. So there's obviously going to
be discussion about how we go against the moon --
Q: What about the perception that the civilian leadership isn't giving
adequate consideration to the military views? I mean, what's your take
on the process by which --
Myers: I'll give you my take on the process -- and this is not
Iraq-specific -- but my take on the process, I don't think -- in my
time in uniform, in my time in this building, doing what I've been
doing as the vice chair -- assistant chairman, the vice chairman and
the chairman, we are permitted to give our views frequently and
regularly and continuously. And we're asked for our views. And, I
mean, there's never been a better exchange, in my opinion.
And so I don't know where these things get started. I don't know who's
-- I mean, like I said, it is not consistent -- those articles are not
consistent with what I see and what I observe and what I hear.
Q: Mr. Secretary, there are two laptops missing from Central Command.
We don't know much more than that, other than they turned up missing
last week. Can you shed some light on it? Were they taken from General
Frank's office? Do they contain classified material, highly
classified, "eyes only"? Or what can you tell us about them?
Rumsfeld: (To General Myers) Do you want to comment on that?
Myers: The story is correct, there were some laptops -- two laptops
discovered missing at Central Command. They contain -- we think one of
them contains classified information. And they have an investigation
ongoing under the auspices of CENTCOM and General Tom Franks and
they'll try to -- you know, the good news is in this is that they were
in a room that is tightly controlled, where access is tightly
controlled and they have a lot of detail. And --
Q: Do you think -- do you think that they are, quote, "missing,"
unquote, or do you think they were actually stolen?
Myers: It could be that. It may be some other things were not -- but
it could be that they're missing. I mean, that happens sometimes. But
we'll just have to wait and see.
Q: General?  General, how is it possible  -- 
Q: Mr. Secretary, today in an interview with the Associated Press,
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud said that the U.S. military would
not be able to use Prince Sultan Air Base for any attack on Iraq.
Number one, have you seen those comments? And your reaction to that
Rumsfeld: I have not seen the comments. I have been told that such a
statement was made.
You asked what my reaction is. The president has not proposed such a
thing. Therefore, I don't find it really something that has been
engaged as such.
Q: Are there contingency plans in place, should that happen?
Rumsfeld: Look, that's -- people are developing hypotheticals on
hypotheticals on hypotheticals, and that is about as unuseful as
anything I can imagine.
Yes, you had a question.
Q: Yes, sir, following on up the laptop question. I mean, there's been
a lot of concern expressed by you at the podium for months about
problems with breaches of security, now expanding, for instance, to
the Hill and other places. To what extent should there be some concern
about -- at least in the military, about the ability to maintain
secrets when it comes to within a secure -- this was in a secure room,
if these laptops were in a secure room, you know, what -- and in a
facility that one would assume is one of the most secure military
facilities around the world, you know, is there a problem with
maintaining --
Myers: In the end, in the end security comes down to individual
responsibility. So if you have individuals that are willing to commit
crimes -- you know, in the end it comes down to your trust and
confidence in the people that work there. And you do all the
appropriate checks and all that sort of thing to ensure that the
people have, you know, the right background and motivation and so
forth. But in the end it comes down to their individual
responsibility. So if that was the case in this case, we'll find that
out. If it was the case that they were taken off for maintenance and
nobody appropriately logged that in, we'll find that out. So we'll
just have to figure it out.
Q: Who had access to the room, General, how many people? And do you
know the people?
Myers: I think that's for CENTCOM to worry. We -- that's not the sort
of thing -- Tom Franks is worrying about that.
Q: Mr. Secretary, when it comes to this question of support from Saudi
Arabia, can you just say generally are you -- do you remain happy with
the level of support that you're getting from Saudi Arabia? And are
you confident -
Rumsfeld: Oh, I do indeed.
Q: -- are you confident that, if the United States were to have to
take military action in the Persian Gulf region, that you would get
the level of support that you need from Saudi Arabia?
Rumsfeld: Look. There's the hypotheticals again. I'm not going to get
into those. The first part of your question, the answer is of course,
we have had a long, close relationship with Saudi Arabia. We have a
good number of troops stationed there. We have an ongoing political
and economic and military-to-military relationship which is
constructive and helpful to both countries. Has been for a long time.
Q: You've often said  -- 
Rumsfeld: I had Prince Abdullah -- Crown Prince Abdullah here as my
guest when I was secretary of Defense in 1976. This is not something
Q: If I could quote one of my -- one of the most prominent defense
experts in this building -- you -- who has said on many occasions you
prefer -- you prefer for countries themselves to characterize their
contribution to the war on terrorism.
Rumsfeld: I do.
Q: Is that particularly true when it comes to Saudi Arabia?
Rumsfeld: No, it's true with all the countries in the coalition that
have been helping us with the global war on terror and who helped in
other activities. I think it's generally best for them to say first
what they would like to say about how they're assisting. And that's
fine. And then we tend to -- to the extent it's accurate, we tend to
accurately reflect it, what they've decided they want to say. If
they're helping us in ways that are different from that, and they'd
prefer not to discuss it, that's their choice, and we can live with
that, too. We need all the help we can get.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Rumsfeld: Yes?
Q: I have two quick questions. One, according to the press reports,
General Musharraf has said recently that what you and the president
and everybody in the U.S. have been saying, Osama bin Laden was behind
9/11 and other attacks against the United States, but he said, no,
Osama bin Laden may have not been behind 9/11; someone else. Now, are
we going to look for someone else? Or do you agree with General
Musharraf statement that --
Rumsfeld: I have not seen his statement. There is no question but that
Osama bin Laden has announced, pronounced, and repeatedly commented on
his pride in his involvement in 9/11.
Q: Thank you, sir. Saudi Arabia. We know that they have been
sponsoring or there were at least 15 of the terrorists who hit the
United States were Saudi nationals, and, two, even now Saudi
government is sponsoring on paying money to the families of the
suicide bombers. So, where do we stand -- where do you put this recent
report with all these what they have been doing?
Rumsfeld: Well, there was an article in the paper about a briefing
that took place here in the Pentagon, as I understand it. I don't know
of any DOD employee who heard it, but I'm told that there was a French
national, a resident alien who is connected to the Rand Corporation in
some way, who I don't know, and who made a presentation at Rand, at
Rand's request, on Saudi Arabia and on the region generally.
And there were some people from the Defense -- the Department of
Defense Policy Board who heard it and invited this individual to come
and make a presentation. He announced that it was not a Rand
presentation at the briefing in the Pentagon. It was not the result of
Rand analytical work or research. It was his personal views, which is
fine. Everyone has personal views.
And he apparently at this Defense Policy Board made a presentation
that was somewhat different, but on the same subject of his
presentation that they'd heard at Rand. It didn't represent Rand's
views. It does not represent the Defense Policy Board's views. It does
not represent the Department of Defense's views. And no senior member
of the Department of Defense was there to hear it.
And the answer, I guess, is that with respect to Saudi Arabia, it is,
as I've answered in the earlier question, a country with which we have
a very close relationship. It is quite true that some of the
individuals involved in 9/11 had Saudi passports. There were some
people with other passports as well. It's true that there are al Qaeda
in 40 or 50 countries around the world, and we all understand that.
And we value and recognize the relationship we have with that country.
Q: General Myers, you had the soldier wounded today. You had the
attack on the Afghan army post outside Kabul. There have been some
other skirmishes recently. Does this show an increase in al Qaeda and
Taliban activity in Afghanistan?
Myers: While there's been obviously in the last period of time --
short period of time there has been, you know, some increase, whether
that's a trend or not, you know, you have to wait and see. But I
think, as the secretary has said and I've said for some time now, that
Afghanistan remains a dangerous place. And we know there are pockets
of Taliban, we know there's pockets of al Qaeda, and that's why we
have patrols out there.
I'm not surprised that our patrols are shot at. They're trying to hunt
down the enemy, and that's what happens. So we'll just wait and see if
this is, you know, abnormal activity or a trend towards higher
Rumsfeld: I didn't finish the thought I had when I said he was a
resident alien. My point was, he -- it was not a classified briefing.
He doesn't have clearances. So there was nothing classified in the
briefer's paper. And I may have said yesterday, in the town hall
meeting, that it was a classified briefing, but it was not. It was a
closed briefing but not a classified briefing.
Q: I have a related question for the two of you, if I could -- (off
mike) -- the pushback among the services and civilian leadership --
the civilian-military disagreements are things that pop up --
Rumsfeld: Could you speak up a little?
Q: Of course. On the question of the pushback from the uniformed
services and the reports of that --
Rumsfeld: The alleged pushback.
Q: -- the alleged pushback -- splits and disagreements between
civilian leaders and the military pops up from time, well-documented.
General Myers, I'm curious. Could you --
Rumsfeld: It pops up from time to time, not well- documented, almost
always anonymous. Pardon me?
Q: My question for General Myers is, with your experience, sir, do you
see an evolution of that to greater disagreements, not between the
civilian leadership and uniformed services, but between the joint
operations and the joint planning staff and the needs and desires of
the individual services? And related to that, Mr. Secretary, yesterday
at your town hall meeting --
Rumsfeld: Well, let me answer that one.
Q: Sure.  Will I get my second question, though?  (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: Depends on how well we answer this one. (Laughter.)
(To General Myers.) I guess it's to you, but it's an interesting
Myers: It is an interesting question, and I guess I'd answer it this
way, and, Tom, see if I'm on the mark in understanding what you're
talking about. Then I think I'll chime in on the second one if I think
I know what Tom's going to ask, but I've got a good answer for a
question you haven't asked yet. I hope you ask it.
Q: Did you guys get together ahead of time?  (Laughter.)
Myers: Well, not on this.
Rumsfeld: We're together all day.
Myers: The -- you know, there are tensions in the system. And services
have responsibility in statute to organize, train and equip their
forces. There are other statutes out there that say the combatant
commanders employ those forces. And as you try to become more joint --
the term we use, you know, in using all services' capabilities in a
way that a joint commander can orchestrate it in a way that makes them
most effective on the battlefield, clearly there might be tensions in
many different levels.
There may be programmatic tensions. You know, what new systems are
being fielded at what pace, who's putting money into what program.
There may be tensions on what is the operational concept, the joint
operational concept, you know as some might perceive it favoring one
capability over another.
Certainly, those exist. And they're worked out. There's several
well-developed processes to work those out. So, I mean, they do exist.
We have great debates.
I would submit -- my personal philosophy is that it's good to have
individual services because each of them brings with them a unique
culture and unique capabilities. And because you have competing ideas
and competing systems, that competition breeds excellence. If you
didn't have that, you might wind up with solutions that just aren't
the best you could have. So, I think this is healthy. This is good. I
think the American people ought to be happy that we're having these.
If that's what you were getting at.
Rumsfeld: I think I'd like to elaborate on it. I agree. The problem is
you have the four services coming up straight, and up here you need to
have joint warfighting capability for the CINC's. What happens right
in there is either going to be a result, as the general suggests,
constructive tension or it's going to be a train wreck. Either you get
these four services to not have each their preferences all the way up
and not have them come together in a way that's joint, or you, as the
general said, find mechanisms that help to pull them together. And
it's that -- that is where the tension occurs. And it is partly
statutory designed tension, but it is -- the mechanisms that are there
are not perfect, indeed, they fall short of doing it. And what we need
to do is to get these four services pointing -- not pointing straight
up, but starting to point towards joint efforts earlier at a lower
level. And to the extent that happens, then we will be better able to
engage in truly joint warfighting without having the train wreck in
the middle.
I think we're making good progress on it, and I think your question
points to exactly where the tension is, and it is not a matter of
civilian military, it is a matter of the service coming up and then
the need to get them all through the needle head so that the CINC, who
doesn't care where he gets his power -- air power or power to put
pressure on a target, he doesn't care if it comes from land, sea or
Myers: And these processes we work are not just military or just
civilian, they're -- I mean, we're integrated and intertwined in very
routine and very profound ways. If that's okay to add.
Rumsfeld: You had a second question.
Q: (Off mike) -- but yesterday at the Town Hall Meeting, you used the
metaphor when the phone rings, how the -- whoever is on the other end
better be joint interoperable ready, and you said if not, the phone
may not ring. Did you have any special service, combatant command,
unit or specialty in mind for whom the phone may not be ringing?
Rumsfeld: No. What we've been -- what we've been -- anyone that's not
relevant, any element of the armed services that fails to transform,
that is, is not pointing towards something that a CINC can readily
use, is not relevant in that fight. And now, everyone does not have to
be relevant in every activity. But I can't think of anything worse for
a professional military person who puts their life at risk, who spends
their career caring about their institution, and then in a moment of
crisis is found that they have organized, trained and equipped for
something that isn't happening. And that is something that I have
talked to our NATO allies about. It isn't just joint, to be honest,
it's joint and combined; that is to say bringing together other
countries as well so that we can operate effectively together. But I
think it's just -- I think General Shinseki said it about as well as
anyone could say it when he said if you don't like change, you'll like
being irrelevant even less.
Q: Mr. Secretary, there has been a cavalcade of American allies and
friends that have not expressed support for an aggressive approach
towards Iraq -- the kind of aggressive approach that the president and
the vice president have been talking about almost daily. Are you
concerned at what appears to be the response from so many different
countries that the United States is friends with? Do you feel that the
American campaign to convince friends and allies of the wisdom of the
direction that the president, the vice president and you have
discussed -- do you feel that that campaign is going as you had hoped
it would? Long way to go? Can you help us assess?
Rumsfeld: You know, normally, when there's a frenzy, it works itself
up into a peak and then it tends to exhaust itself and come down. I
suspect that that's what we'll be seeing over the coming days with
respect to the subject of Iraq. The -- it is almost not possible in
this town today to have a discussion on any other subject, it seems. I
don't know quite what the answer is.
I have said here and I believe that the president has not made
judgments with respect to this. Therefore, expectations and analysis
about what amount of support he's getting for something he's not asked
for support for is a little hypothetical for me.
I would say that what is really kind of happening and ought to be
happening and is very constructive is a discussion of the reality that
the democratic countries of the world today, in the 21st century, are
living in a world where weapons of mass destruction exist and are
proliferating. Terrorist states have them, and terrorist states have
relationships with terrorist networks. That means that reasonable
people have to expect that there will be an event involving a weapon
of mass destruction at some point in the future.
The thing that people are wrestling with is, what does that mean? What
-- how ought democratic states to behave when their margin for error
has shrunk and the risk for being wrong is no longer hundreds or a few
thousand people, but potentially tens of thousands or hundreds of
thousands of people?
And that issue is not an easy one. Clearly, it calls for nations to
engage their political capabilities, their economic capabilities and,
as we've done in Afghanistan, our military capability. It is something
that people have to consider, and they have to consider what are the
penalties for acting, as some say, in a self-defense way but in an
anticipatory self-defense way or a preventive or preemptive
self-defense manner. What are the penalties for doing that versus the
benefits? And by the same token, what are the benefits and penalties
for not doing it? And we know pretty clearly, if we're dealing with
weapons of mass destruction, that the penalties for not dealing with
that type of a problem successfully, whether political or economic or
military, can be quite severe and serious.
And I think that it is that that is being elevated to some extent but
it tends to get deteriorated into a particular situation of one
country or another and who's for it and who's against it. And I would
say that we're at a relatively early stage in the dialogue, the
international dialogue and discussion and debate on this issue, and I
think it merits thoughtful comment rather than trying to particularize
it with a series of hypothetical compound questions, if there is such
a thing --
Q: (Inaudible) -- grant that the president and the vice president have
been talking about what to do about Iraq on almost a daily basis.
Rumsfeld: Well, the problem I've got is, I didn't come down here and
say a word about Iraq, and you could also say that today I've been
talking on it. Why? Because I have been told by the press corps that
you like someone to come down and brief every week. And so we try to
feed that appetite. But if the appetite is for nothing other than
Iraq, then all I could say if I came down is, rather than being
accused of fitting into the category you're lumping the president and
the vice president, I'll answer on anything other than Iraq. But I
decided not to do that; rather, I tried to elevate it up above Iraq
and look at it on a broader basis because I really believe that if
there is an event that occurs a month, six months, a year from now and
people look back, they will say: Oh, I wish I'd had that discussion; I
wish we'd considered that; I think we should have given more serious
thought to that question if we're putting at risk tens or hundreds of
thousands of human beings. And what could we as democratic systems;
systems that don't covet other people's land; systems that aren't
running around killing innocent men, women and children; systems that
don't make war on each other, how do they live in a world where
terrorist states and terrorist networks had and are getting weapons of
mass destruction? What ought they to do? That's a very important
And I think it's a good thing that countries are talking about it. And
if one wants to say, well, at this particular moment in history, the
stars and the moons are not all lined up behind one person's view or
another person's view, that's fine. There ought to be a good
discussion and debate about it. And I think the Senate ought to -- and
the House ought to discuss it as well.
Myers: Can I stay on that plane with you? Jack, just another piece of
this that -- and I've discussed this with the secretary. But, you
know, it used to be in the Cold War, we used to talk about intent and
capabilities. And we could never discern intent. That was always sort
of a mystery, but we knew that our old foe, the Soviet Union, had
certain capabilities. So, what we did was build to those -- you know,
counter those capabilities.
I think what informs this debate, when you talk about weapons of mass
destruction and the terrorist threat, that the intent question, which
has always been the hardest one to answer about an adversary, always
the most difficult, is very clear in this case. Their intent is to do
away with our way of life, to do away with our freedoms. Capabilities,
it turns out, are just a little murkier, although we know that there
are countries out there that are producing and conducting research and
development in weapons of mass destruction. So, it's interesting
howthis has -- how it's changed in just a decade, how you look at the
problem. At least, it is to me. And I think that intent issue goes
along with the WMD to make this worthy of lots of discussion.
Q: General, you've  -- 
Rumsfeld: Yes, right here.
Q: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. I'd like to go back to Saudi
Arabia and the Pentagon board of advisors, please. Word has it that --
the report from the region is that the people are very disturbed, but
that the extremists are very happy, and they say that this proves that
America is not really our friend. Are you in contact with anyone in
Saudi Arabia in trying to clear this up?
Rumsfeld: Sure. Sure, we've called and talked to some of the folks. So
have I. And they fully understand that things like that happen where
someone has an opinion. It has nothing to do with this administration
or the government of the United States or anyone in this department or
anyone in the Department of State. It has to do with an individual who
had some views. And this is a free country. Everyone in the world gets
used to seeing things in the press or said in the Congress or other
places, and we'll live with it fine.
Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. North Korea made a formal apology for
their NLL, northern limit line intrusion. On the other hand, they
claim NLL issue is a subject between U.S. and North Korea, not South
Korea. What is the --
Rumsfeld: I'm sorry. I missed that last part. Could you repeat the
Q: They claim  -- 
Rumsfeld: "They" being the North Koreans claim  -- 
Q: Yes, North Koreans claim the NLL issue is a subject between U.S.
and North Korea not South Korea. What is your comment?
Rumsfeld: (To General Myers) Why don't you answer it?
Myers: Well -- yeah -- there have -- (chuckles). North Korea has
claimed that the -- they have complaints about the Northern Limit
Line, I think was your question, and that's understood. My
understanding is that was discussed by the U.N. and North Korean
representatives recently at Panmunjom and they wanted to have further
discussions on that. I don't know what they decided on that particular
issue. But I know that is an issue.
And I also know, though, that I think besides the apology, I think
there's -- I think Korean forces and the United Nations command, who
will be helping conduct the salvage operation of the South Korean
ship, I think there's general agreement by the North Koreans that they
will support that salvage operation and not turn that into an
Q: General, could you just go back to the top of the briefing for a
moment? You outlined a series of events that have occurred in Iraq
that indicate an uptick of activity. Can you just give us a general
idea about what you think it means? What should we take -- what should
we read into that? What's going on there? What does that represent?
Myers: From time to time, when I have a statement, I like to mention
-- we were focused so much on Afghanistan for a while, I like to
mention a few things that are going on in Iraq and to remind you and
the American people that we in fact have crew members flying over
Iraq, that they get shot at, that they respond from time to time; that
the Iraqi -- so, in essentially trying to prohibit coalition forces
from enforcing the U.N. -- the Security Council resolutions, and also
that they're trying to circumvent the oil-for-food program that the
U.N. monitors by allowing smugglers to take oil out and provide
revenue directly to the regime. And that's -- and just to kind of,
every once and a while, refresh people that this goes on.
The uptick in activity in the maritime operations is due to the use of
smaller ships as opposed to larger ships because Iran has denied use
of their coastal waters. And I think the air activity, it goes in
spurts. We do not see it -- I don't think we see a trend there.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: But, General  -- 
Q: Mr. Secretary?  On Afghanistan  -- 
Q: General, just to follow up -- (cross talk)  -- 
Q: On Afghanistan, what do you foresee now as the future for U.S.
troops in Afghanistan? It's been sort of quiet, other than these few
little latest skirmishes. If the troops are running out of searching
for al Qaeda, are they going to be moving into more security areas?
What do you see as what's going to be happening in the future in
Rumsfeld: Well, that's an important question, and General Franks has
briefed on the fact that he believed that we would move through
several stages in the Afghanistan effort and that we are now in the
third stage, and it is the task of trying to deal with the relatively
small pockets of remaining al Qaeda and Taliban. And so that level of
effort, as you can tell by just watching things from day to day, is
coming down.
There are still incidents, and there will be -- continue to be
incidents. But what's happened is, the presence and security presence
of the coalition forces, the ISAF and the U.S. forces, with the
coalition forces, have been contributing to a more stable country. It
also has served as a deterrent to al Qaeda and Taliban coming back in.
As we moved away from the heavily -- heavy war portion of it and the
kinetic aspects, where there was bombing and ground forces and various
major efforts, occupying cities -- as we moved away from that, the
coalition forces and the ISAF have been focused more on humanitarian
activities, on civil works assistance. They've been focused more on
helping to train police and border patrol. The ISAF, for example, has
been helping to train some of the Afghan national army. The United
States has. The French have. Others have. And it has kind of migrated
from a -- less conflict and less battles, minor skirmishes, into more
of the latter, more of the civil works and humanitarian and just
providing security in the area.
And at some point, we will end up in the force stage where it will be
essentially that, but still have to do some of the going after pockets
of Taliban and pockets of al Qaeda, to the extent they are found. And
Q: And General Myers, your thoughts about moving more into the
security realm?
Myers: I think the secretary -- I think he covered it. I think that it
was absolutely right, I think. And that's -- there's discussion
ongoing right now with General Franks and the secretary and others in
government about, you know, where are we and how do we move to the
next -- the next phase, if you will.
Rumsfeld: We simply did not go through all this to then turn around
and say, well, that's that and let's let it turn right back into a
training camp for al Qaeda. We can't have that.
Myers: This is planned. I mean, this is in the -- it was event driven,
so you can't say on a certain date. And we're reviewing -- he's
reviewing events right now.
Rumsfeld: In the back?
(Cross talk.)
Q: Mr. Secretary, if I could follow up on something you said at the
town hall meeting about force protection in the United States, you
said it's ridiculous that we can't contract that out. I wonder what
sorts of things are the MPs and such doing that perhaps they ought not
be doing, and what ought they be doing instead.
Rumsfeld: Well, it's not just people who are officially designated
military police. If you're not allowed to use contract employees to
provide force protection for a facility or an activity in the United
States, then you have to use military forces. You have to use people
who are in uniform, who may or may not be military police. They very
likely would not be. And they would be assigned the task of providing
that force protection. It is an activity that lends itself to
contractor work, and it would be better if we would have the men and
women in uniform who came into the service and asked to be trained and
equipped and engaged in military roles to go do those roles rather
than having to do some roles that could as easily be done by
Q: (Off mike.)
Rumsfeld: I'm not going to get in -- the force protection issue is for
the local commanders from place to place and the combatant commanders.
I'm not going to try to micromanage and say which building ought to
have what kind of force protection. I don't know that I'd be terribly
good at it anyway.
Q: General, just a few moments ago you appeared to lump Iraq and al
Qaeda together as far as their intent. Do you have --
Myers: I was at a higher level than that. I was -- (laughter) -- I was
talking about weapons of mass destruction and terrorists and the
intent question.
Q: Well  -- 
Myers: So if I made  -- 
Q: I was just wondering if you have any harder evidence at this point
linking al Qaeda and Iraq.
Myers: I didn't mean to  -- 
Rumsfeld: And which country?
Q: Iraq and al Qaeda.
Rumsfeld: Oh, we're back on Iraq. I didn't realize that. (Laughter.)
Myers: Yeah, I certainly didn't mean anything by anything I said to
indicate that we had any -- any --
Q: Has your state of knowledge of the connections between Iraq -- if
any -- between Iraq and al Qaeda -- has that changed?
Rumsfeld: Since when?  Since when?
Q: Since  -- 
Rumsfeld: Yesterday?  No.
Q: A month.
Q: Well, since you have -- put it this way, do you have any evidence
at this point, any hard evidence, of a link between Iraq and al Qaeda
in terms of cooperating or working together?
Rumsfeld: If you're asking, are there al Qaeda in Iraq, the answer's
yes. There are. It's a fact.
Q: What about Iraqi support for al Qaeda operations?
Rumsfeld: I don't know that I want to go beyond what I've said. I
think that -- I've said that -- I can see the headline tomorrow,
"Rumsfeld Comes Down and Spends an Hour on Iraq." (Laughter.)
Q: (Are you going to stay for an hour ?)?
Rumsfeld: Forty-five minutes.
I mean, the fact is when we went into Afghanistan, a lot of al Qaeda
left. A lot were killed, a lot were captured, and a lot left. And they
are in neighboring countries and a variety of different locations
around that region, and they're in areas south of there, and they're
in areas in Asia and other countries. That's just a fact.
Q: I have a question for General Myers. I will not mention the
country. But you talked about the northern and southern no-fly zones
of a certain country, and that activity had picked up. If I remember
the figures correctly, in the south, five in the past week is pretty
much on the par with what's been going on this calendar year, but
there seemed to be an increase in the north. And when General Rosa was
here at that podium, he said that the Iraqi air defenses were some of
the best in the world. And in the past, it used to be that the
retaliatory attacks were pretty much that. If we were painted or
illuminated, we would go after SAM's and AAA. Now, we seem to be going
after C3&I. Is this a concentrated effort now to downgrade or
neutralize and destroy that country's air defenses?
Myers: The effort is to protect the air crews that fly over Iraq to
enforce --
Q: I mentioned the name.  I did mention  -- 
Myers: Yeah. To enforce the U.N. Security Council resolutions. And so,
for those coalition air crews, we just want to protect them, and
that's why air defenses are very often the target.
Q: Did you expect -- (inaudible) -- in Israel? Did you see that you
made the front page of all the Israeli papers today?
Rumsfeld: No.
Q: Apparently your comments at the Town Hall Meeting yesterday that
seemed to suggest that the Palestinian Authority would not be able to
reach a peace agreement were widely interpreted as being --
Rumsfeld: Yeah. I went back and looked at my remarks, and then I
looked at the president's two speeches, and I don't see any difference
at all. I mean, it's just -- the position of the United States
government is what it has been, it's what the president and the
secretary have said, it's what I've said it is, and it continues to
There are people who love to look for some word that is not in exactly
the same place as it was in someone else's mouth. But I can't find a
dime's worth of difference between what I said and what they've said,
and there is no difference in the policy. And if some country or some
writer wants to pretend there is, I suppose that's their privilege.
Q: To follow on Tom -- (last name inaudible) -- story about the
tension between --
Rumsfeld: Whose story?
Q: Tom -- his question.
Rumsfeld: Oh, his question.
Q: Tom's question about the tension between the CINC -- the combat
commanders and the service chiefs, the governing doctrine --
Rumsfeld: Wait a second. Wait a second. Let me calibrate that
slightly. The tension is not between them, it's between their
responsibilities. It is the fact that the services come up this way
with their roles under the statutes, and the CINCs have their
responsibility, which is to take capabilities from all four of those
and see that they mesh into a coherent whole. So it's not -- it's not
-- it would be wrong for people to go out of here and say, "Oh my
goodness, there's a big fight between the CINCs and the chiefs,"
because there isn't. It is a serious, substantive statutory need to
blend their respective roles.
Q: So the statute that covers that relationship is Goldwater-Nichols,
and we're about 15 years into the existence of that. It wasn't here
when you were here the first time.
Rumsfeld: Right.
Q: General Myers has lived under it for its entire duration. The
question is, is that doctrine -- is that law still appropriate? Should
it be amended? Should there be a change in the statutory relationship?
Rumsfeld: We have not sat down and said, "Gee, we think, it requires
statutory change." We have spent many, many hours wrestling with the
fact that things do not come up in an orderly way so that they can be
easily rationalized and balanced against each other. They simply
don't. They come up by service, to some extent. There are some
mechanisms, like JROC and others, that work to achieve things like
interoperability. But -- and then it's through the good will of the
chiefs and the CINCs and the various budget process that -- the budget
process that exists, the defense planning guidance -- all of those
things have as their task trying to see that what ends up, what the
ultimate product is of -- all of the money that's spent and all of the
efforts that are invested in these things end up in a coherent whole.
I don't know quite what the answer is, and I would like to find a way
to have the services, as they do their work, begin pointing -- at
earlier stage begin pointing towards what necessarily has to be the
final product: a set of capabilities that the CINCs can draw on to
defend and deter for our country.
It -- if it comes -- the later it comes up, the -- correction; the --
if the -- the straighter it comes up and the later it is before they
start pointing towards that desired outcome, the more -- the sharper
the curve has to be and the more -- the greater the grinding that
occurs in the budget process.
And I think I've explained it brilliantly.  (Laughter.)
Myers: I use concrete -- but that's okay.  (Laughs.)
Rumsfeld: (Laughs.)
Q: Mr. Secretary, based on your comments today, should those in the
apparently Iraqi-obsessed media and on the Hill conclude that we're as
likely to go after other nations harboring terrorists or with links to
terrorists as Iraq -- not less, not more, just as likely?
Rumsfeld: Wouldn't that be delightful?
Q: Such as Saudi Arabia?  (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: Oh, my goodness, no!
Q: Well, Mr. Secretary, you do use the occasion -- you flay the press
for what you call the obsession with Iraq, and yet you do use the
occasion to make the point that there are al Qaeda in Iraq. Are there
al Qaeda and --
Rumsfeld: (Inaudible) -- I didn't make the point. I didn't use the
Q: (Off mike) -- before you have said repeatedly  -- 
Rumsfeld: I was grilled by your colleagues, and I needed to respond
honestly and directly and forthrightly.
Q: Are they there with the blessings of the Iraqi leadership?
Rumsfeld: You have to ask them.
Q: Are they in Saudi Arabia?
Rumsfeld: Are al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia?
Q: Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia.
Rumsfeld: There are al Qaeda in 50 or 60 countries. There's no doubt
but they're in Yemen, they're in Saudi Arabia, they're in the United
States, they're in Iraq, they're in Iran, they're in Afghanistan,
they're in Pakistan. They're undoubtedly in some of the northern
countries above Afghanistan where they fled. They're undoubtedly in
Southeast Asia. I mean, they're all over. There's thousands that were
trained in Afghanistan alone.
Q: That's not answering the previous question.  It was a good one.
Rumsfeld: What was it?
Q: Should we infer that since you don't like us to talk about Iraq,
that there are equal -- it is at least as likely or maybe --
Rumsfeld: (All of that ?) question.  (Laughter.)
Q: Well, even if you just shrink it down to the other two countries
that were in the axis of evil?
Rumsfeld: As you know, those are not decisions that are made in this
building. They're not decisions that are made by General Myers or Don
Rumsfeld. So --
Q: But who's calling -- (inaudible)?
Rumsfeld: The president has said that he thinks that terrorism
constitutes a serious danger to free people. And he has said that he
thinks that countries that harbor those terrorists ought to be
persuaded not to do that. There we are.
Q: Mr. Secretary  -- 
Rumsfeld: Thank you very much.
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site:

Join the mailing list