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Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Transcript
Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld; General Peter Pace, USMC, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Tuesday, March 29, 2005 1:17 p.m. EST

Defense Department Briefing

SEC. RUMSFELD: Good afternoon, folks. On my visit to Latin America last week I noted that over the past two decades in country after country throughout the region government by the few has been replaced by government by the people. The unfolding history on display there, as well as in Central and Eastern Europe and most recently in the Middle East and Afghanistan, demonstrates anew that, when given a chance, people choose to be free, and that those who want to be free have a patient friend in the United States. It is increasingly clear that the great sweep of history is for freedom, and that the United States is on freedom's side.

Although the progress we're seeing in the world today is, most of all, the work of the people of those nations, to be sure, the American people can be proud of the example they have set and the assistance they have provided. Across the globe in countless unheralded acts of valor and compassion, men and women wearing America's uniforms are helping millions of liberated people build societies free of tyranny and terrorism.

Americans here at home are also finding ways to support that mission. And I'd like to note a few of these acts of patriotism.

Over the last three years we have seen an extraordinary outpouring of support for American men and women in uniform - from organizations, from businesses, and from people young and old - all across the country. For example, high school students in Dale City, Virginia, held a spaghetti dinner to raise money for wounded soldiers.

Nashville's Grand Ole Opry made itself available to troops overseas through Armed Forces Radio. The Freedom Calls Foundation is using video conferences to link families with loved ones overseas. Ski resorts in Vail, Colorado created Operation Freedom Lodging and provided some 2,000 complementary rooms for returning servicemen and -women.

There are hundreds if not thousands of other moving acts undertaken by our fellow citizens in communities all across the country. To highlight these acts and to create a forum for others to participate, the department recently launched a website which can be found on the Internet at On this site, folks can send thank-you cards to troops, find groups that provide comfort and companionship to military personnel and their families, and even adopt a serviceman or entire platoon. This Thursday, Enid, Oklahoma will become the first city in the nation to adopt an Army brigade and Air Force squadron through the America Supports You program. These are but a few examples of the creativity, the resourcefulness and the compassion of the American people.

On the America Supports You website, hundreds of U.S. forces have posted messages like the one written by Private Roberson Lomax, who wrote, "We feel your love, and it makes us stronger and more focused on the heavy mission in our hands."

This month marks the 60th anniversary of some of the last great battles of World War II. Americas (sic) from all stations in life sacrificed for the war effort. They bought and sold war bonds. Folks lived with rationing and planted victory gardens so that more food could be available. And Americans recycled rubber and scrap metal because they were in such short supply.

Today America is fighting a different kind of war, and we're fortunate that those types of sacrifices are not necessary. But it's heartening to know that the same spirit exists and that millions of Americas -- Americans still seek ways to support our forces who are fighting on freedom's front lines.

For all of those looking for ways to join that effort, I encourage you to take a time to visit the website. Your support is important, and it's appreciated. And I thank all Americans who have already found ways to pitch in and support our military forces.

General Pace.

GEN. PACE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

About 10 days ago, I took a weekend trip to Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. It was 16 hours over, 16 hours on the ground, 16 hours back, and it was a perfect opportunity for me to visit our young men and women who are there, and to shake about a thousand hands and to say thank you to them for what they're doing.

These great Americans are helping the local governments build schools, dig wells, have medical and dental assistance for their population, and most of all, helping to inoculate the local population against terrorism.

It was a great trip, and to their families and to their employers, because many of them are Guard and Reserve, thank you for your sacrifice, for your husbands and daughters are doing wonderful things.

With that, we'll take your questions.


Q Mr. Secretary, I wonder if I couldn't ask you briefly about the -- I guess, for lack of a better term, the legal limbo at Gitmo right now, Guantanamo. There are about 540 prisoners there, and only four have been charged. And yet you seem to be tied up in kind of a rat's nest of appeals and court rulings that say, number one, you can't hold these people forever without charging them, and number two, you can't try them the way you're trying to try them.

I wonder if you're not actively -- if this department isn't actively trying to change the way the commissions are run, the way you try people down there, in order to clear this up, kind of block or bottleneck.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I think that characterizing it as legal limbo is probably not correct. I mean, if you go back to any war in history, people who were detained were kept for the duration of the conflict, for most part, unless there was some reason to believe that they were detained in error. And that you can -- I suppose you could characterize it that way if you want, but I wouldn't characterize it that way. It's a practice that has existed for many, many decades.

Second, you're right; there have been a number of lawsuits filed. We live in a society of laws, as we're privileged to do. And when that happens, things are held in abeyance while those things work their way through the courts and a proper process is arranged to see that we're doing exactly what the -- might have been unclear in the first instance but became clearer as the court made a decision, and then was appealed and finally decided. That process is under way. It's not unique to this. It happens in business, it happens in government all the time.

Third, I would say that there's no question but that the people involved in this, which is basically the White House, the interagency group, and those of us here who have the task of implementing those decisions, are always trying to make sure that we're doing it in the best possible way, in an appropriate way. So we review things and make adjustments as time goes on.

Q There was a New York Times report over the weekend, sir, that said perhaps you might be moving to change these to -- I guess under the UCMJ to perhaps make them more likes courts-martial. Is that possible, if these people are not military?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I really don't know. I've been told by somebody about that article. I didn't read the article. But I just am not knowledgeable about it. The people handling it would be better able to answer that.

Q General Pace, would that be possible?

GEN. PACE: I do not know.

Q Mr. Secretary, when Secretary Feith briefed us on the new strategies, and reading them and recognizing that they are more aggressive than the ones they replace, we asked Doug Feith if preemptive strikes or preemptive wars were a possibility. And his answer was, quote, "The president has an obligation to defend the United States." Unquote.

Could you be a little more expansive on these strategies and their role? And also, apparently your position of going after terrorists and all enemies whomsoever, wherever they may be in the world?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I don't know that I can go beyond what the president has said. He has said that it is his responsibility and intention to attempt to defend the American people. And that is a fact that he has said. He has said that there are circumstances where countries provide a haven for terrorists, in which case they share responsibility.

And a perfect example of that would be Afghanistan. It was the al Qaeda that launched attacks and were training there in a very hospitable environment, from their standpoint, with their hosts, the Taliban. And the United States made a conscious decision that that was not acceptable to lose 3,000 Americans and that something needed to be done about it.

Now, I don't know how one can go beyond what the president said and demonstrated.

Q But is it a Rumsfeld doctrine, if you will, that where these people are, the United States will now go after them with Special Forces or whatever means to seek them out and destroy them or capture them?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Obviously not. Rumsfeld doesn't have doctrines of that type, you know that, Ivan. My goodness gracious, a senior official like you, a responsible journalist, a person who's accredited not just to the Pentagon but the White House, I would have expected -- (laughter) -- well, I won't even say it.

Q Mr. Secretary?

Q Mr. Secretary, last -- on your most recent appearances --

Q (Off mike) -- I genuflect, sir?

SEC. RUMSFELD: (Laughs.)

Q On your recent appearances on Fox News and ABC Sunday morning shows, you said -- I'll quote you directly, if you don't recall them. But you were asked about one of your -- perhaps things you want to have back from the war. You said that Turkey's refusal to let the 4th ID go --

SEC. RUMSFELD: I didn't say it that way.

Q Let me -- let me quote you directly, then.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I said the fact that we were not able to come in from the north, I think.

Q "If we had been successful in getting the 4th Infantry Division to come in through Turkey in the north when our forces were coming up from the south out of Kuwait, I believe that a considerably smaller number of the Ba'athists and the regime elements would have escaped. As a result, the insurgency would have been at a lesser intensity." That's the ABC quote.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I liked it when I said it, and I like it today.


Q Yeah. I'm wondering, sir, that valid concern of yours, and the result without the 4th ID, was that danger -- in other words, that the insurgency would be worse without going through Turkey than going through Turkey, when was that urgency and importance of that conveyed to the Turks before the war, and to who, if you recall.

And if not, what steps did you take after the Turks did not grant permission to adjust to deal with the insurgency that you knew was going to happen because of the 4th ID not coming through?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I wouldn't -- my goodness, that's about six or eight questions, and it --

Q It was four. I decided to limit it to four. (Laughter.)

SEC. RUMSFELD: -- and it has a bunch of assumptions that are

deficient in one way or another.

Q No, I'm sure. You knew it --

SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm going to answer.

Q Okay. All right. I'll --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Four is enough, then. No, you don't need to do any more. (Laughter.)

The -- I very explicitly did not say what you said I said about Turkey. I said what you read later about that situation. And the reason I mentioned it that way and the reason I said it so properly and diplomatically in the first instance was you have to appreciate the circumstance that Turkey had at that time. They had a brand new government, headed by a political party that had not governed in that country. They actually -- we had been working -- you said "When did you talk to them" -- we had worked with them over some period of time. They actually went forward and made a good faith effort to do it. They actually, as I recall --

Q They actually had a majority --

SEC. RUMSFELD: -- had a majority by -- of a very --

Q -- I was there for that vote. It was --

SEC. RUMSFELD: They had a very small margin, but it turned out that was not sufficient, given their rules and procedures. So they made a, in my view, a good faith effort.

The adjustments that General Franks made were almost immediate. He delayed for a period leaving the -- as I recall. Correct me if I'm wrong -- leaving the 4th ID up north in the water for the reason of leaving Saddam Hussein with the impression that we wouldn't do anything until that division was available. And he knew it was not available. And it turned out General Franks decided to do something, notwithstanding the fact that that division was not available. And therefore he achieved some advantage of surprise. Not strategic surprise, but tactical surprise.

Almost instantaneously after the initiation of the conflict it was clear we weren't going to be able to get that division in the north, and it was sent south and came in from the south.

GEN. PACE: That's right, sir.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Exactly right?

GEN. PACE: Exactly right.

Q So you were not blaming Turkey -- just to make it clear,

you were not blaming the Turks --

SEC. RUMSFELD: I wasn't at all. They're a sovereign nation, they make their own decision, and that's why I was so diplomatic in how I said it. (Laughter.)

Q Human rights groups continue to criticize what they've described as systematic abuses in the interrogation process. The ACLU today released a memo they obtained from the Army by General Sanchez in September '03, and they said that contains 12 techniques that far exceeded -- interrogation techniques -- far exceeded limits established by the Army's own field manual. Human Rights Watch issued a release today talking about a case of a Yemeni businessman -- they're saying this is reverse rendition in which he was arrested by the Egyptians and then rendered to Guantanamo. And the quote on that is, "The Bush administration continues to believe that by invoking the word `terror' it can detain anyone in any corner of the world without any oversight." And I wonder if you would just respond to the suggestion that there is a systematic problem rather than the kinds of individual abuses we've heard of before.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I don't believe there's been a single one of the investigations that have been conducted, which has got to be six, seven, eight or nine --

GEN. PACE: Ten major reviews and 300 individual investigations

of one kind of another.

SEC. RUMSFELD: And have you seen one that characterized it as

systematic or systemic?

GEN. PACE: No, sir.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I haven't, either.

Q What about --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Question.

Q Mr. Secretary -- (laughter) -- are you frustrated in the least that the Iraqis have failed to reach an agreement to install a new government? Today the National Assembly again failed to elect a speaker to parliament and two deputies. And is there a concern that as this political limbo drags on that it affects the security situation on the ground?

SEC. RUMSFELD: This "limbo" business is really gaining currency here today, isn't it? (Laughter.) That's nice.

Q It's real popular.

SEC. RUMSFELD: "Frustrated" is not a word I would use to characterize my feelings.

How would I characterize it? Well, dictatorships have the characteristic of being efficient. They don't have to worry about the press. They don't have to worry about parliaments. They don't have to worry about a court system. They just do things, efficiently, immediately -- poorly, but quickly.

Our -- the Iraqis are on a path to develop a constitution in a year. It took us from 1776 to 1789. We have our elections in the first week in November, and we end up putting a Congress in place in the first week of January that then begins the process of figuring out who's on what committee and how do we do that, and we don't even put a president in place till January 20th.

What is all -- what's happening over there? What's happening over there is politics. People voted January 30th. They are not skilled at that. They don't do this every two or every four years, as we do in our country. They haven't done it for decades. And if they did do it, it was a put-up arrangement where 98 percent of the people voted exactly the way they were told, and the others were punished.

So what do we think about all this? Well, we think it - that they had a Governing Council. They then had an interim government. They're now going to sometime in next day, week, whatever have a transitional government. They're then going to develop a constitution. They're then going to have a referendum and a vote on the constitution by the Iraqi people, and then they're going to have another election under the new constitution and have a permanent Iraqi government.

Will they get there? Sure. Is it going to be as efficient as a dictatorship? No. Is it going to be vastly more desirable? You bet. Is there going to be a tug and a pull and a debate and argument, and what about this and what about that? Sure it will be, and it's going on right now. And it's tough stuff, because there's a lot at stake. Those people are deeply concerned about the rights of minorities, and they have every right to be, because they've lived in a society that did not respect the rights of minorities.

Now what are our concerns? Our concerns are, sure, it would be preferable if they would sort through that in a reasonable time period. And we hope and believe they will.

It also would be preferable if the people that went into office were competent and capable of conducting themselves in a way that would assure that the funds that are being spent by the Iraqi people and the international community, including the United States, are spent in an intelligent, efficient way, without corruptions.

It's preferable that with respect to the security forces, that they behave in a way -- in terms of selecting ministers and leadership in those ministries, that there isn't a lot of turbulence, because we've spent a lot of time and effort trying to develop the security forces, and they've got a big task if they're going to take over responsibility for security in that country.

So the United States has an interest, but we're not about to go in and say this person should be that and another person should be this. We are going to say what the president said from the outset: that we expect that to be a system of government that's representative of the people, that's respectful of the various religions and diversity within that country, that's respectful of women and the rights they have, that's at peace with its neighbors and is a single nation, whole and free. And that's our interest.

Q Do you believe from what you're hearing that there are Sunni leaders will try to step up?

SEC. RUMSFELD: You bet. And not only are there Sunnis stepping up, willing to step up; they are stepping up. And second, the Shi'a and the Kurds that did participate more fully in the elections are wanting them to step up. So these signals that are going out are positive. That's a good thing. And I think one ought not to, you

know, spend a lot of time wringing our hands over it. I think it'll get sorted out.


Q On February 17th, before the Defense Approps Subcommittee, you told Congresswoman Granger that this upcoming BRAC may not be as severe or as extensive, rather, as previously indicated. Can you tell us anything about how much smaller, less extensive it might be? Does it --

SEC. RUMSFELD: No, it's still open. And I don't know if I'd use the word "severe." I mean --

Q I correct --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah, good. I mean, that implies -- that's pejorative. I mean, a BRAC is a good thing. It says to the taxpayers of America, by golly, we care about your dollars, and we're going to see that the dollars are spent in an intelligent way on things that are actually needed, rather than wasted funds. So it's a good thing, this BRAC.


Q Another question on the ACLU. The Defense Department has resisted their request for documents saying national security would be harmed through the release of them. And -- but court decisions have come down and DOD has been forced to release these documents. Can you give us some examples how national security has been harmed, and could you --

SEC. RUMSFELD: I can't. The lawyers go through all of that and they make decisions and they respond in various ways and do what they're supposed to do legally.

Q And do you have any regrets having sponsored FOIA legislation back when you were in Congress? (Laughter.)

SEC. RUMSFELD: I was young. No, I don't, really. I believe in freedom of information. And I was an early sponsor of that legislation with Congressman John Moss, now deceased. And it has been changed significantly over the decades, and it doesn't conform exactly to what I originally recommended, but --

Q I'm sure it was better.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Vastly better!

Q (Laughs.) Just one question. What the ACLU has been contending is that DOD is not holding back these documents out of fear of national security but, rather, fear of embarrassment. Do you think that that's --

SEC. RUMSFELD: That's just not true. I mean, I -- I shouldn't say it's not true, I just don't know. But I can't imagine it's true because the orders and directions we've given is to have full transparency, to the extent it's consistent with national security interests of the country.

And if anyone can validate that allegation, I'd be happy to look into it. But I doubt that they can. It sounds like a political charge.


Q Just to get back to the question a moment ago about BRAC, your quote is -- you've been quoted any number of times as saying -- estimating that the department has roughly 20 to 25 percent excess infrastructure. Would you care to share with us a number of how much excess there will be at the end of this BRAC? Would you expect that it would all be gone, or would there still be five or 10 or some other percentage of excess when we're done?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, I don't know that I've said that we have 20 to 25 percent excess. I think I've referred to studies that were made back in the Clinton administration that suggested that that was the ballpark range of what was excess. We have not done a new study to determine what those numbers are because we didn't feel that it was worthwhile. So I have, I think almost always, referenced that -- those earlier studies from the 1990s as the base -- 20 to 25 percent range. And I don't believe I've ever asserted that I necessarily believed it, I just quoted it.

And second, the fact that we're bringing so many forces home from overseas reduces that number.

Third, it looks now like the actual number will be less than the lower end of that range; how much less remains to be seen. We'll know in good time. The process is moving along; it's fully transparent. After those decisions are made, it will be announced and people will be able to take a good look at that.


Q Mr. Secretary, there are a number of key positions in the Defense Department that are -- where people are either leaving or have left.


Q Yesterday it was announced that DOD is going to be take over oversight of a number of programs in the Air Force.


Q That's right. So I'm wondering, what are you doing to fill these positions, and is it reaching a point where it's creating problems?

SEC. RUMSFELD: It has been at a point where it makes life very difficult for four years. We've functioned basically somewhere between 15 and 25 percent vacant in the 47 presidential appointee, Senate-confirmed people in this department.

If you have a constitutional requirement for civilian control of the military and you have 47 presidential appointees that are Senate- confirmed, that is a very thin veneer of civilian control. And to the extent that is, on an ongoing basis averaging, over the past four years, something like 15 to 25 percent vacant at any given time, that really reduces the grip and the traction one has.

It has been a problem. It is a problem. And we work it. There are delays in talking people into coming into the government. There are delays in the ethics approval process. There are people who get all the way through that and then fall out because they aren't able to comply. There are delays in FBI clearances. There are delays in the Senate confirmation process, in some cases as long as a year or a year and a quarter.

Now, all of that combined is what causes it. I've said this from this podium a number of times: The process today is not working well.

Now, what am I doing about it, you asked, as I recall. A lot. I have told everyone who works around me with any yelling distance that my single-biggest priority is people. And we are -- Dick Myers and Pete Pace and Paul Wolfowitz and I have been meeting three and four times a week on civilian and military personnel and we have been working it hard. We are working it every day. I am on the phone every day talking to people. I'm on the phone -- I'm in the office interviewing people. We have meetings to see where we are. We've got a team of people working on the thing. And there's nothing more -- there's no way this department can function effectively if you don't have the people you need to do those jobs.

Q Have you recommended replacements for the deputy secretary



Q The undersecretary of Policy?


Q For Air Force secretary

SEC. RUMSFELD: No. (Laughter.)

Q Can you say who they are?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I could -- (laughter) -- but I shan't. These are presidential appointments, not Rumsfeld appointments, and --

Q Mr. Secretary?

SEC. RUMSFELD: -- and I'm kind of old fashioned, I figured --

Q A question on that. You know, how soon do you expect action on them?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I can't -- why would I even guess? It's like saying how long is the war going to last? Who knows? You make your recommendations and you go on and hope and pray and prod and push and urge and cajole. That's what you do.

Q Follow-up, Mr. Secretary?

GEN. PACE: All I would add --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Underline it.

GEN. PACE: All I would add is no matter how thin the veneer, your military is 100 percent civilian controlled. (Laughter.) And an important point for anybody listening -- 100 percent civilian control is your military.

SEC. RUMSFELD: But tell them how many meetings we have and how many hours we spend.

GEN. PACE: Yesterday a couple of hours, tomorrow a couple of hours. Probably two to three hours a week, at least, talking about civilian leadership positions --

` SEC. RUMSFELD: That's in the meeting with the four of us. That doesn't have the time of interviewing people or calling people or analyzing it with the staff as to what we ought to be doing.

Q Is that gentleman on your right your choice for the next chief of --

SEC. RUMSFELD: You will learn soon enough, Ivan.

Q Mr. Secretary?

Q Mr. Secretary?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Way in the back.

Q Thank you. Mr. Secretary, what is your view of the shipbuilding outline that has been sent to Congress? And also, have you been meeting with any of the major shipbuilders to talk with them about their concerns and about the industrial base?

SEC. RUMSFELD: What was the first part of the question?

Q The shipbuilding plan.

SEC. RUMSFELD: What about it?

Q What do you think of it?

SEC. RUMSFELD: We presented it.

Q Do you personally like it?

SEC. RUMSFELD: You know what you do in this business is --resources are always finite, and you make judgments, and you don't make them by yourself, you make them by listening in this case to the Navy, to the Chief of Naval Operations and the Secretary of the Navy. And this was their proposal. And it spent a lot of time with the senior leadership in this department in the senior-level review group. We must have had several meetings over it, talked about it a great deal, and decided that on balance, that was an appropriate thing for the United States of America to present to the Congress for their consideration.

Q Have you met with any of the major shipbuilders? I know

that --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, no. My goodness, I don't do that.

Q The Treasury secretary does a lot of meeting with captains

of industry. It seems like it might be --

SEC. RUMSFELD: That's wonderful. (Laughter.)

Q -- an appropriate thing for the Defense Secretary also to do, to meet with key players in your --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah, I've got a few other things going on. And I don't think I've met with a senior industry leader on a substantive matter in the department in four years. I just -- I just don't do that. I just don't have time to do that. The services meet with people, the Secretary of the Navy, the Air Force, they do that. The deputy, I suppose, has -- I don't know that for a fact, but I think he does. But there is only so many hours in the day.

By the same token, I haven't met with a single governor in connection with BRAC. And they -- I don't know how many of them have been in here. But I just don't -- my life isn't ordered that way. I have to deal with strategies and concepts and directions and the kinds of macro aspects of the department, as opposed to the specific elements.

For example, in the case of the shipbuilding, the Navy, under the statutes of the United States of America, has the "organize, train and equip" responsibility for the Navy, and that's what they do.

GEN. PACE: I think it's also important to point out that the six ships that are going to be built in this current year, each of those is a brand new design --

Q (Off mike.)

SEC. RUMSFELD: Just a second.

GEN. PACE: Each is a brand new design, so that over the course of the development we'll be able to learn as we build these new classes of ship so that when you build all 49 that are in the budget that was submitted, you will have world-class ships that we've been able to learn about as we built them.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I can't read the note I was handed -- (laughter) and I am disturbed that I've said something that someone could --

Q It says stay another hour with us.

Q (Off mike) -- you're on your own note. (Laughter.)

SEC. RUMSFELD: -- someone could criticize me!

(To staff) What does it say? (Laughter.)

That says revalidated?

GEN. PACE: Yes, sir.

STAFF: In a March 2004 report to Congress, as requested by Congress, we revalidated or provided a reassessment of that 20 to 24 percent base -- excess --

SEC. RUMSFELD: So it's 20 to 24, not 20 to 25?

STAFF: The number we actually used was 24 percent in the report that went to Congress in March of '04

SEC. RUMSFELD: In March. So I was just flat wrong when I said

we haven't looked at it?

STAFF: We'll provide the report to --

SEC. RUMSFELD: We can give you the report.

Pardon me?

Q (Off mike.)

GEN. PACE: But those percentages were March of '04, before the decisions about bringing troops home. So there still is a --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, that's true.

GEN. PACE: -- there's still a delta between what we thought and what we know.

Q Ah! Ah-ha!

Q (Inaudible.)

SEC. RUMSFELD: Good for him! (Laughter.) He ended your notes. (Laughter, cross talk.)

Q Mr. Secretary, several of your generals have been talking about --

SEC. RUMSFELD: "Our generals," not "my generals" -- our generals

Q Well, our generals, America's generals have been talking about -- you're obviously optimistic about the trend lines in Iraq. They've been talking --

SEC. RUMSFELD: They have not. I haven't seen a single general who has said that "I am optimistic."

Q No, no, no. I'm saying that you seem to me optimistic about what's happening in Iraq. The generals have been speaking about -- optimistically about Iraq and speculating that if things continue along the lines that they're going now, you may be able to start bringing troops home.

How do you feel about the momentum? Do you have momentum right now in Iraq? Do you feel like you're on a trend line where you're going to be able to bring significant numbers of troops home toward the end of the year?

SEC. RUMSFELD: I'll start, and I'll let Pete correct me.

How to characterize this? I don't -- I worry about being excessively optimistic, myself. I kind of like to deliver rather than promise. Fact number one.

Fact number two. Everything I've read about the, quote, "generals," our generals, who you commented on, tended to be condition-based. They put in a comment that said "If this, if this, if that, then we ought to be able to do X, Y or Z." And I think that that's basically what Prime Minister Allawi has said, that's what the president has said. We want to be there while we're needed, we don't want to be there longer than we're needed, and the conditions on the ground will determine the pace.

GEN. PACE: Sir, I think --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Speaking of pace.

GEN. PACE: I think General Abizaid used the term "cautiously optimistic" as -- and the words that General Casey used were very similar. I think that's exactly right. There's a lot of things right now that make you hopeful about the way ahead in Iraq. But hope is not a plan. So we, as good military folks, do all the planning we should be doing to have the current levels, to have increased levels, and to have decreased levels, and to be able to execute any of those as is appropriate. But cautious optimism is a good phrase for right now.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes. We'll make this the last question.

Q Focusing -- yeah. Focusing on Iraq, what are the options, do you think, to end -- to end the insurgency in Iraq? And do you support or do you favor any negotiation with the leaders of the insurgency in Iraq?

SEC. RUMSFELD: What are the options? It seems to me there are not a lot of options to end the insurgency. There are steps that one needs to take that will reduce the insurgency.

Specifically, the -- in the last analysis it will be the Iraqi people that will defeat the insurgency, not the coalition. The coalition is going to be able to create an environment that's hospitable to the Iraqi people's success. And we can provide assistance of various kinds. We've provided some assistance from a political standpoint, because how the political scene evolves is going to either -- it should have the effect of reducing the insurgency. To the extent the Iraqi people feel that they own that country, they're a sovereign nation, they have a stake in it, a voice in it, then, in fact, that's a good thing, and it makes the insurgency less attractive to people. To the extent the economic reconstruction goes forward and people have jobs and the economy's growing, that, again, has the effect of reducing support for the insurgency and increasing support for the Iraqi government. So, too, to the extent that the Iraqi security forces are trained and equipped and well led and not jerked around with every change of government, but have a chain of command that works, all of that contributes to reducing the insurgency. That seems to me what -- the only option is to have those things move forward together in a way that persuades the Iraqi people that their stake in the future lies with the Iraqi government and not with the insurgents or not with a passive wait-and-see attitude.

Q Yeah, what do you think about negotiation with the leaders of the insurgency?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I -- it's a definitional issue. The first thing I would say about that, that's up to the Iraqi people. It's the Iraqis' country, and it's the Iraqis' government. And they're going to have to make those judgments.

I don't know what you mean by the leadership. There have certainly been discussions that have taken place with people who have not been helpful to the government. And the Iraqi people are going to have to decide through their parliament and through their government what is the limit to their tolerance for embracing people back into the Iraqi community, the process, what's their tolerance level. Certainly, people with blood on their hands are going to find opposition. And that's understandable. I mean, you can't have people whose families were killed or murdered by the Saddam Hussein crowd and not -- not have them unwilling to embrace those people. So I think it's up to the Iraqi people.

Thank you, folks.

Q Thank you. I'm not going to say it. All right.


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