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Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Speaks in Washington

Aired September 23, 2001 - 10:49   ET


JOHN KING, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld answering reporter's questions in Washington. Let's listen in.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The president's speech was very clear. It is that he intends to do everything humanly possible to see that the terrorists and terrorist networks in this world are broken up and stop trying to attack the way of life of the American people and free people across the globe.

Those terrorist networks could not operate successfully without the support of countries and businesses and banks and people and non- governmental organizations that harbor and finance and facilitate and tolerate them. And the president was as clear as he could be on that subject.


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, did the U.S. lose a reconnaissance plane over Afghanistan?

RUMSFELD: The United States has, in fact, lost a -- lost contact, I should say, with an unmanned aerial vehicle. That happens from time to time in terms of the controls. We have no reason to believe it was shot down, as the press has reported.

QUESTION: BBC World Service, we have millions of listeners inside Afghanistan who can't understand why they may be targets -- a target of American troops. What do you have to say to them?

RUMSFELD: You know, your question points up the complexity of this problem of terrorism. First of all, the problem is not unique to Afghanistan. It is a problem that is -- there are terrorists operating -- just one organization, Al Qaeda has activities in some 60 nations.

But if you take that one subject of Afghanistan and I wouldn't want to focus excessively on it, in Afghanistan, you have a great many Afghan people who are repressed, who are starved, who are not -- do not agree with what the Taliban is doing, certainly do not agree with what the Al Qaeda is doing. And many of whom are fleeing the country. And it is a terribly sad situation and we need to find ways to make absolutely certain that people understand that there is no one that is against the Afghan people or any people.

Second, there are many people in the Taliban who don't agree with the leadership of the Taliban. And so there's that great nation.

Third, there are a lot of people in the Taliban who do not support the Al Qaeda organization and would dearly love to see that group expelled from that country. So this is not something where you're going to see a front and a battle of the bulge and some trench warfare against good people and bad people. What we're seeing here is all of the complicated gradations and dimensions of this problem. And our task and the task of people who value freedom and the ability to get up in the morning, as you people did, and walk out and go out without having to wear a flack jacket or hide in your cellar or look up and down the street for fear of someone's going to shoot you.

We need to get people who believe in that way of life to help us, to help us with information; if they're a government, to help us by expelling people that are engaged in terrorist networks. And it will be people all across that spectrum. And it's an important fight and I think we're going to win it.

QUESTION: Are there important differences in the administration at the moment because Colin Powell has said, "maintaining the coalition -- building the coalition's all important." You've said, well not really. You've said that the coalition doesn't dictate policy.

RUMSFELD: Colin Powell and I are together once or twice a day. We talk on the phone probably four or five times a day. We do not have differences. We are close friends. And I have a great deal of respect for him. Human beings say things in different ways. There's no question that he and the president and I are all in agreement, that coalitions are enormously valuable.

Obviously, there's no way that one country could go about this task and think that they could accomplish anything without the cooperation not just of other countries but of people in countries that are like the Afghan people where we need their help in terms of providing information and intelligence.

Now, what I said is correct also. What I said was that the mission determines the coalition. And the coalition must not be permitted to determine the mission. The president has stated the mission. It is clear. We are going to have different countries and different people in different countries supporting us with respect to these activities and possibly not those. They're going to support some other -- some others from a different group will support us with a totally different set of activity. And that's perfectly understandable.

No one agrees with everybody all the time on everything. Even my wife doesn't agree with me all the time.


QUESTION: ... second troop deployment order, have you signed one?

RUMSFELD: I have signed a number of troop deployment orders. And what was first and what was second and whether there've only been two would be misleading to respond. I sign deployment orders almost every day for a variety of different things.


QUESTION: Sir, the Taliban says that Bin Laden is missing. Are confident that you can find him, that you will be able to use this firepower and that he's not going to be able to abate you?

RUMSFELD: No, I'm not confident that we will find him and use this firepower. Let's think of it this way -- first of all, the fact is that the Taliban do know where the Al Qaeda organization is. And the fact that they're saying that they don't is simply not credible.

Second, is it likely that an aircraft carrier or a cruise missile is going to find a person? No, it's not likely. That isn't how this is going to happen. This is going to happen over a sustained period of time because of a broadly based effort where bank accounts are frozen, where pieces of intelligence are provided and where countries decide that they want to change their policies and no longer create a hospitable environment for people that are running around driving airplanes into the World Trade tower and the Pentagon and that they want to expel those kinds of people. And no one can know when it'll happen or how it'll happen.

But I -- first of all, I've got a lot of confidence in the American people and free people across the globe, that they value that freedom and that they're willing to sustain a long effort. And second, I've got a lot of confidence that the kinds of information we need to get and indeed are starting to get about how these terrorist networks function and how we can route them out is going to pay dividends. In what way, at what time, in what country, in what place is yet to be seen. But we're making progress.

And I'll give you -- if you think of a victory, the Battle of Midway in World War II, we had a victory yesterday. The United Arab Emirates broke diplomatic relations with the Taliban. There is a -- there is a -- there is a victory. There is an instance where a country said, "Well, we've reflected on this and we do not want to be a party to that. We do not want to be in diplomatic relations with an activity, the Taliban in Afghanistan that clearly has been harboring the Al Qaeda network." And that is a good thing and an important thing.


QUESTION: Within the Taliban, are there sections of the Taliban with which you can work?

RUMSFELD: There are undoubtedly sections of most elements that if we can persuade people, that other elements in that activity are doing something that is going to cause great damage to them, that they best not be a party to it. And as they, then, incrementally move away and decide that they're not going to be supportive of that faction with Taliban, the faction that is pretending they don't know where the Al Qaeda organization is located, which is laughable. Some of the Taliban say, "Well, it could uncomfortable supporting those people. So I think I'll shift sides." And we're seeing people shift sides all across the globe.

QUESTION: But Mr. Secretary, how would you define the ultimate victory in this war?

RUMSFELD: The ultimate victory in this world is when everyone who wants to can do what everyone of us did today and that is get up, let your children go to school, go out of the house and not in fear, stand here on a sidewalk and not worry about a truck bomb driving into us and be able to be free in speech, in thought, and activity and behavior. And that's victory.

QUESTION: You've got this policy...

RUMSFELD: I'm going to run. I've got to go to work. It's a workday for me.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

QUESTION: Thanks, sir.

KING: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld after fielding questions from reporters. They're saying he needs to go to work. A few quick key points -- he said it is simply -- quote -- "not credible" that the Taliban government in Afghanistan says it does not know the location of suspected terrorist Osama Bin Laden.

Mr. Rumsfeld also confirming what CNN has been reporting, quoting sources in the past several days, that the United States has indeed lost an unmanned aerial vehicle over Afghanistan. He says there's no evidence yet that it has been shot down, as the Taliban claim. So a lot more ground to cover here in Washington, in New York, Atlanta and around the world as well.



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