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Special Event

Donald Rumsfeld Swears in as Defense Secretary

Aired January 26, 2001 - 1:38 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Rumsfeld already is the defense secretary. He took his oath of office last Saturday, shortly after the president of the United States took his oath of office.

But in order to pay proper respect to the office and to the man, President Bush has decided that Donald Rumsfeld will be sworn in again in the Oval Office.

That's where we are. And we have the principals entering now. And Donald Rumsfeld will be sworn in as defense secretary for the second time in his career.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good afternoon.

Mr. President, Mr. Secretary and Ms. Rumsfeld, we're here today to swear in Don Rumsfeld as secretary of defense and welcome him back to public service. In 1969, Don asked me to join him here in the White House staff some 32 years ago, and was a turning point for me from the standpoint of my career. From that day on, he kept me busy enough so that I forgot about my graduate studies, gave up any idea of ever returning from academia, and set me on a path that I've never regretted. And I'm glad that once again our paths have crossed in the White House.

We were colleagues in government for nearly six years, including right here on August 9, 1974, at the beginning of the Ford administration. Later on, when Don went to the Pentagon, I replaced him as White House chief of staff.

Some regard him as the best secretary of defense we ever had. I would say he was one of the best.

(LAUGHTER)

In truth, no one has come to the Pentagon with deeper knowledge of the job, its history, or its present challenges than Don Rumsfeld. Here, quite simply, is a man who's been an executive, a statesman and a human being of the first order. His selection, together with that of Secretary Powell's and Dr. Rice, gives America the kind of national security team that President Bush promised: experienced, creative and forward-looking.

I would ask at this point, Judge Larry Silverman to administer the oath of office.

JUDGE LARRY SILVERMAN: Put your left hand on the Bible, raise your right hand and repeat after me.

(ADMINISTERS OATH)

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I, Donald H. Rumsfeld, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will then faithfully discharge the duties of the office of which I am about to enter, so help me God.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a great honor to welcome Secretary Rumsfeld and his wife and family here in the Oval Office.

Thank you all for coming.

In swearing in Don Rumsfeld, we have just sworn in a leader of exceptional strength and ability and vision. And I'm grateful that he has returned his service to our country.

Don and I have set three clear goals to guide American defense policy. First, we will strengthen the bond of trust between the American people and those who wear our nation's uniform. We'll give them the tools they need and the respect they deserve.

Second, we will work to defend our people and our allies against growing threats: the threats of missile, information warfare, the threats of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. We will confront the new threats of a new century.

Third, we will begin creating the military of the future, one that takes full advantage of revolutionary new technologies. We'll promote the peace, by redefining the way wars will be fought.

These are great and exciting objectives, and our new secretary of defense is uniquely qualified to accomplish them.

As a former Navy pilot, Don Rumsfeld understands that if we ever send our forces into harm's way, we must send them fully prepared and equipped for the dangers they face.

As a highly successful businessman, he understands that we must modernize and transform the business of defense, getting the value for our taxpayers' money. He is willing to challenge the status quo inside the Pentagon.

As the head of the National Commission on Ballistic Missile Threats, he is among the country's most experts on this vital issue.

As a former congressman, he understands the need to work closely with the Congress.

As a former White House chief of staff, as a former secretary of defense, he understands what it takes to be a leader.

This is an exceptional history of service, and Don Rumsfeld is an exceptional man with integrity and honesty as the cornerstone of his foundation.

Mr. Secretary, congratulations.

RUMSFELD: Thank you very much.

Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, I thank you so much for the confidence you've placed in me, for the honor you do me, and for giving me the opportunity, as you said one day, to serve as secretary of defense again.

(LAUGHTER)

I have thought a good deal about the remarks you have made during the course of the campaign and since your election. And as you know, I share your hopes and your expectations for the Department of Defense and for the armed forces of the United States of America. I am an enthusiastic supporter of those goals.

I listened to your inaugural address with a great deal of interest and pleasure and congratulate you on it. It is something I think all of us would do well to reread from time to time. It carries an important message about you and about our country and about your administration.

I know that Dick remembers this. When we served in the White House there was a man around quite a bit named Bryce Harlow, and he always said that it's important for people who work in this house to leave it better than they found it.

I am proud to be working for someone who would do that. And I know you will. Thank you very much.

OK. Say hello to the family.

WATERS: OK, there they go.

Donald Rumsfeld, with an exceptionally and distinguished career in government service: White House chief of staff, United States congressman.

Now, this second tour of duty as secretary of defense. Mr. Rumsfeld was secretary in 1975 through '77 under President Gerald Ford, and now under President George W. Bush, who's -- and Mr. Rumsfeld's goals this time equate with those of the president.

And he enumerated them: improved -- enforce readiness; strengthen the intelligence reporting to cope with threats, internationally; support of the National Missile Defense System; and the creation of a future, more modern United States armed forces.

Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense.

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