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Rumsfeld assesses U.S. strike



Secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld discussed with CNN's Paula Zahn the Pentagon's assessment of the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan.

ZAHN: Good morning. Did yesterday's campaign meet its objectives?

RUMSFELD: Well, we'll know a good deal more later this morning as all of the various types of intelligence are examined and correlated. My impression is that it has been very successful. We do, however, have to understand that it's going to be a very long and sustained effort. As a said yesterday, there's no silver bullet, not a single thing that's going to win this effort for the coalition forces. But all the aircraft returned safely.

The humanitarian food and medicine drops were successful and the planes are starting to return now. So we feel that, thus far, it's been a very successful effort.

ZAHN: So, basically, what you're telling me this morning is that everything the Taliban is reporting -- that they shot down a jet, that they shot down a helicopter with 14 people on board -- is simply false?

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The Pentagon reviews the first night of airstrikes in Afghanistan. CNN's Jamie McIntyre reports (October 8)

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RUMSFELD: That's correct. It is false what the Taliban has said. Indeed, much of what they have said over a period of time is false. These people are terrorists, they are harboring terrorists, they have been repressive to the Afghan people and it's no surprise that the many Afghan people are opposed to Taliban and even many Taliban are opposed to the Al Qaeda organization, the foreign terrorists that the Taliban leadership has been harboring.

ZAHN: I know you said your initial impressions are that this campaign has been successful. The British defense minister announced today that some 30 sites were targeted and struck in Afghanistan overnight. Do you want to go along with that report this morning?

RUMSFELD: Well, there have been two or three dozen targets. They were all military targets. They were military aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, airports -- military airports and runways. They were terrorist training camps. They were a host of things that are directly associated with the Al Qaeda and with the Taliban leadership which has been in close relationship with Al Qaeda these many years.

ZAHN: I know you have said that the Taliban don't have an army or a navy. What do you think they do have left at this point?

RUMSFELD: Well, it still has money, which we're trying to (AUDIO GAP) no longer want the leadership of Taliban to be supporting Al Qaeda and they, themselves, will find ways to assist the rest of the world in stopping this scourge.

ZAHN: I was speaking with an Air Force general who said that this is an unusual campaign because it's the first time really the U.S. has attempted to fight and feed at the same time. How critical is the humanitarian aid part of this?

RUMSFELD: Well, anyone who looks at the overhead photography of these poor human beings amassing in 20s and 40s and hundreds and now, more recently, into thousands of people trekking across drought-stricken areas looking for food, looking for sustenance and refuge -- anyone who sees that has to be just heartbroken. And it's important that we and other countries in the world assist those people, and that's what President Bush is doing. We were already the largest food donor in Afghanistan earlier this year before September 11, with some $170 million and the $320 million program that the president announced and will be joined by other nations is something that's urgently needed by the Afghan people.

ZAHN: But how does the humanitarian aid complicate your war planning?

RUMSFELD: It doesn't at all. We're perfectly capable of flying in transports and delivering food and medicine. As long as we're able to deal with the air defense capability of the Taliban -- the radars, the MiG aircraft and the surface-to-air missiles, which we, I think we'll find later today, have a good start on.

ZAHN: And a final question for you, sir. As you have said so much about how the American people need to be prepared for a long offense, what are we talking about here?

RUMSFELD: Well, I think realistically we have to expect that it could take some years and -- several years. The reason I say that is because there are a lot of people who have been trained in these terrorist training camps in many of the countries that sponsor terrorism. They are already out there, they are organized, they have been financed and what we have to do is to be patient. We have to recognize that the power of weapons today is such that they can impose enormous damage on free nations and free people.

We don't get up in the morning and think about protecting ourselves when we walk outside the door. We don't wear flack jackets and carry weapons. That is part of our vulnerability as a free people. It's also a wonderful aspect of our society.

ZAHN: Do you have enough cruise missiles to sustain a long campaign of the type you're talking about?

RUMSFELD: Well, as I say, this problem is not going to be rooted out by a cruise missile. There are things cruise missiles can do. There are things bombers can do. But there's an awful lot that will have to be done through the financial system, through diplomacy as well as through covert operations on the ground; and, particularly, through intelligence-gathering. All across the globe, people are stepping forward; dozens and dozens and dozens of nations are participating. And it is probably more likely to be a scrap of information that comes from somebody about how we can deal with this problem than it will be a cruise missile.

ZAHN: Secretary Rumsfeld, good of you to join us at such a busy time. We appreciate your being with us this morning.

RUMSFELD: Thank you very much.