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Rumsfeld: 'This is about self-defense'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced Wednesday that the U.S. anti-terrorism campaign is named "Operation Enduring Freedom," which he said denotes that the campaign will not be a "quick fix."

"It is not going to be over in five minutes or five months, it'll take years, I suspect," Rumsfeld said. "You never bet against the American people. They will have the patience and they will recognize the importance of it." (Transcript)

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President Bush has characterized September 11 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center as an "act of war." Since then, the United States has worked to form an international coalition against terrorism and has warned any countries that do not join the United States in the fight against global terrorism that they will be considered enemies.

In a briefing at the Pentagon, Rumsfeld said Operation Enduring Freedom will not be as clearly defined as past wars.

"This is not something that begins with a significant event and ends with a significant event," Rumsfeld said. "The truth is, this is not about revenge. It's not about retaliation. This is about self-defense. The only way we can defend against terrorism is by taking the fight to the terrorists."

The operation was tentatively titled "Operation Infinite Justice," but that name was dropped due to concerns that Muslims would find it offensive because in the Islamic religion only Allah can provide infinite justice

Rumsfeld also said it is too early for the U.S. government to consider drafting citizens into the campaign. However, he added that "there's no question that we may have to make additional call-ups."

Earlier in the day, Rumsfeld urged the Senate to approve a Pentagon request to begin another round of base closings in 2003 despite the loud objections of many Senators that this is the wrong the time to close military bases.

The measure was narrowly approved Tuesday 53 to 47.

"If we're able to over time reduce the number of bases we have and provide the kind of force protection that's appropriate for the number of bases we need as opposed to the number of bases we have, that is an important step," Rumsfeld said.

Though the anti-terrorism campaign will target all forms of terrorism, the initial focus has been on the al Qaeda terrorist organization, which U.S. officials have said is linked to the September 11 attacks. Suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden is believed to be the head of that organization, and is also said to be under the protection of Afghanistan's Taliban regime.

The Taliban recently claimed they could not find bin Laden, something Rumsfeld disputed this weekend. When asked how he was certain that the Taliban knows bin Laden's whereabouts, he said it was by "deduction."

"If the Taliban knows their country as well as I know they know their country, you'd have to believe in the tooth fairy to think they don't know where he is," he said.



 
 
 
 


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