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Homeland Security

28 February 2003

Rumsfeld Says U.S. Wants to Further Aid Philippine Terrorist Hunt

(Defense Department Report, February 28: Philippines; Iraq) (760)
Following a February 28 meeting with Philippine Defense Secretary
Angelo Reyes, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers both said the United States wants
"to be helpful" to Manila's ongoing effort to combat terrorism within
its borders.
Rumsfeld said the "exact formula" for the U.S. assistance and
accompanying deployments of military forces to take place in the
coming year has yet to be fully worked out. The defense secretary said
U.S. forces do not tend to conduct training under combat situations.
He also pointed out that the Philippine Constitution prohibits foreign
combat forces on its soil, and the U.S. role must be consistent with
its proscriptions.
Rumsfeld said he had an excellent exchange with Secretary Reyes at the
Pentagon about the shape and form of U.S. aid and said both sides want
to work out what is achievable, given existing circumstances in both
countries. "We want to be helpful" as the Philippine Armed Forces
pursue terrorism at home and as Manila continues to cooperate in the
worldwide campaign against terrorism, he said.
Ideally, the Philippine Army should have the capability to deal with
terrorists such as Abu Sayyef, Rumsfeld said, and the U.S. military
wants to assist the Army to further develop its anti-terrorism
capabilities. Due to links between Abu Sayyef , al-Qaeda, and other
terrorist networks, he said, it is very much in U.S. interests to find
ways to bolster the Army's institutional ability to deal with the
Rumsfeld said the U.S. assistance -- which is being finalized -- will
have both intelligence and command-and-control components. He also
said one of the purposes of assistance will be to develop
interoperability between the military forces of the two countries. The
goal will be to train the Philippine military so that it will be
"capable and successful" in dealing with the terrorist problem,
Rumsfeld said. Myers said joint training can be a large part of
dealing with the terrorist threat, noting that any U.S. assistance
will be "value added."
Myers said the negotiations between the U.S. and Philippine
governments on this subject have been ongoing for some time, and the
Reyes-Rumsfeld meeting was just another part of it as the two sides
seek to find what Rumsfeld described as their "comfort level."
"All circuits are working" on resolving the final details of the
arrangement, Rumsfeld said, in order to help "a very fine ally" deal
with a very serious terrorism problem.
Following the February 28 Defense Department release of a draft
military instruction on "Crimes and Elements for Trials," Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld was asked how it might relate to possible future
prosecution of members of the Iraqi regime for crimes such as
knowingly placing human shields at sites which are likely to be
targeted in time of war.
During his multi-subject press conference the defense secretary
indicated that there are many different ways that potential Iraqi war
criminals could be brought to justice. He suggested that due process
could be carried out inside a liberated Iraq, in other nations, or in
the context of future military commissions.
In the event that President Bush authorizes the use of force in Iraq,
the secretary said he does not anticipate a large number of Iraqi
soldiers being sent to U.S. detention facilities in Cuba at Guantanamo
Bay. He said provisions will be made to handle Iraqi prisoners of war
in Iraq.
Rumsfeld also said he did not expect a lot of Iraqis would be going
before military commissions.
The Defense Department organized a February 28 background briefing on
the draft military commission instructions -- on which it is seeking
comment. The purpose of the draft is to try to define violations of
the laws of war and other offenses that could logically be tried by a
military commission.
The General Counsel's office will consider incoming comments and then
issue a final version in March.
A February 28 Pentagon press release indicated that the department
will be prepared "to conduct full and fair legal proceedings should a
military commission be convened" in the future to prosecute
terrorists. At the moment, no charges have been preferred against any
individual. According to Rumsfeld, a military commission would not be
used to prosecute U.S. citizens.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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