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Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld Holds News Briefing

Aired October 29, 2001 - 12:02   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld now speaking on a Monday.

We will go there now.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: ... take the battle to the terrorists. It was thrust upon us, and we love liberty, and we need to do whatever it will take to defend it.

We know that victory will not come without a cost. War is ugly, it causes misery and suffering and death, and we see that every day. And brave people give their lives for this cause. And needless to say, innocent bystanders can be caught in crossfire.

Every time General Myers and I stand before you at this podium, we're asked to respond to Taliban accusations about civilian casualties, much of it unsubstantiated propaganda.

On the other hand, there are instances where, in fact, there are unintended effects of this conflict and ordnance ends up where it should not, and we all know that, and that's true of every conflict.

As a nation that lost thousands of innocent civilians on September 11, we understand what it means to lose fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters.

But let's be clear -- no nation in human history has done more to avoid civilian casualties than the United States has in this conflict. Every single day, in the midst of war, Americans risk their lives to deliver humanitarian assistance and alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people.

We did not start the war, the terrorists started it when they attacked the United States, murdering more than 5,000 innocent Americans. The Taliban, an illegitimate, unelected group of terrorists, started it when they invited the Al Qaeda into Afghanistan and turned their country into a base from which those terrorists could strike out and kill our citizens.

So let there be not doubt -- responsibility for every single casualty in this war, be they innocent Afghans or innocent Americans, rests at the feet of Taliban and Al Qaeda. Their leaderships are the ones that are hiding in mosques and using Afghan civilians as human shields by placing their armor and artillery in close to proximity to civilian schools, hospitals and the like. When the Taliban issue accusations of civilian casualties, they indict themselves.

Our task is to put pressure on them. It's to dry up their finances. It's to continue the arrests and the interrogations. It's to make sure we gather every conceivable scrap of information and intelligence that we can. It's to continue to force them to move from cave to cave, from tunnel to tunnel. It's to continue providing humanitarian assistance. And it is to find and see that we stop the Al Qaeda and Taliban military and leadership to keep them from continuing their terrorist acts.

Let there be no doubt -- it will end in the comprehensive defeat of the Taliban and the Al Qaeda and the terrorist networks operating throughout the world that threaten our people and our way of life.

We are patient, we're determined and we're committed.

General Myers?

MYERS: Operations in the campaign against terrorism continue, and we are continuing our efforts to further degrade Taliban and terrorist forces, particularly those deployed in the north against opposition forces. The number of pre-planned target areas involving adversary forces and infrastructure have ebbed somewhat over the past few days, with our strikes increasingly occurring in engagement zones around the region.

Yesterday, we struck in six planned target areas, principally in the north and northeast around Mazar-e-Sharif and Kabul. These included terrorist and Taliban command and control elements, Taliban air defenses and their military forces, both in garrison and deployed.

But as I indicated, we're also very active against numerous targets in engagement zones as well. We used about 65 strike aircraft yesterday, including about 55 tactical aircraft off our carriers, between four and six land-based tactical aircraft, and about the same number of bomber aircraft.

We are approaching the one million mark in terms of humanitarian daily rations airdropped into Afghanistan. Two C-17s delivered yesterday about 34,000 rations in the north, for a total of, approximately now, 960,000 delivered to date.

We also flew our commando solo broadcast missions yesterday and dropped leaflets in the north.

We have pre- and post-strike imagery of a Taliban military maintenance support facility located outside of Kabul. In the pre- strike, you can see a maintenance and support building, as well as a military vehicle parking and holding areas. And of course, as you can see in the post-strike, we hit pretty hard on Friday.

Also from Friday's operations, we have two video clips of hits of deployed Taliban forces. The first shows a hit on an armored vehicle seeking cover in a wadi near Mazar-e-Sharif. This vehicle is part of the Taliban Fifth Corps that is attempting to defend Mazar-e-Sharif from Northern Alliance attacks.

The second video involves a couple of emergent targets, a tank and an anti-aircraft emplacement, which were identified in one of that day's engagement zones. From the explosions, it appears the AAA was damaged while the tank was destroyed.

And finally, from Saturday's operations, this clip depicts a direct hit on a Taliban military facility on the Shamali Plain north of Kabul. This highlights our continuing efforts to reduce Taliban infrastructure and to keep it from being regenerated.

Before we move to questions, I want to emphasize that our operations are on track, with General Franks, the commander in chief of Central Command's overall campaign plan. I'm not going to get into details about that plan, but I'll point out that once again the models from previous campaigns, like Allied Force and Desert Storm, and any expectations based on them made by pundits, are not really relevant to this plan and our asymmetric warfare on terrorism.

Of course, we've got some visible forms of this, that comes in the form of air strike, and are advancing toward providing the basis for other efforts, both visible and some invisible. And we'll proceed at a time and place of our choosing.

With that, we're ready for questions.

RUMSFELD: Mr. Secretary, one quick (UNINTELLIGIBLE) one. Is the Pentagon and the U.S. military considering establishing a forward military base in Afghanistan, perhaps to make it easier to use ground forces? And how do you respond to reports from the region that perhaps some Americans, military or otherwise, might have been captured by the Taliban?

There have been no American military captured. Whether someone else may have been, I don't know, but I don't believe so.

And, Charlie, we consider lots of things, and we don't discuss them. You're asking if we're considering doing something additional in various ways. Needless to say, that's our job, is to consider lots of different things and we do. And as we decide to do them, we do them. But we certainly don't announce them beforehand.

QUESTION: But you have said yourself that you're going to have to go in and get them, to paraphrase you. Would it not be easier to conduct ground operations -- perhaps you can sustain them -- if you had a base in the region from which to operate?

RUMSFELD: There are lots of ways of doing things; and, needless to say, we think about them all.


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, when this campaign began, you said at that podium that our mission was then two-fold: to destroy the Al Qaeda and the Taliban. And now as we enter the fourth week of the air campaign, many military experts in and out of this building say that the air war is not doing either. How would you respond to that? And also, if the military experts are correct in saying that large forces -- ground forces -- have to be put in place, not just commando raids -- without giving away any operational security, do you agree that that has to be done?

RUMSFELD: Well, I'm not going to agree to anything that we aren't doing simply because we're thinking about things. It would be unwise and certainly unhelpful for me to prejudge what we might do perspectively.

There are military experts on every conceivable side, of every conceivable issue in these types of things and that's understandable and fair. But it is not for anyone in a position of responsibility to be speculating about what we might do next.

QUESTION: With the first part of the question; how would you respond to those who say that the air campaign is not successful?

RUMSFELD: Well, I would say that it depends on what your measure is. In my view, the fact that the air campaign has done a very good job of reducing down the threat from the ground -- it's not eliminated it. We know that they still are stingers and we know there are probably still some SAMs and we know there are probably still a view mig aircraft and some helicopters. But in terms of being able to operate over the country, there's no question but that a good deal has been accomplished to enable us to then proceed with the second phase.

And the second phase is to create the conditions for a sustained effort against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

And what does that mean? It means that we now are able to supply humanitarian assistance. We're now able to supply ammunition and various other supplies. We're able to get considerably better targeting information from the ground today than we had been previously. We're able to provide support to the forces that are opposing the Taliban and Al Qaeda in a manner that is considerably more effective than had been the case previously when the targeting information was either lacking or imprecise.

So I would say that those who suggest what you suggested probably ought to step back and think, "Well, three weeks, not bad to have accomplished those things and to put in place that capability for the period ahead.

MYERS: Can I just add?


MYERS: Just to that, I think it will help you understand that, as the secretary said, we're pretty much on our plan. And we are in the driver seat. We are proceeding at our pace. We are not proceeding at the Taliban's pace or Al Qaeda's pace. We can control that. And we are controlling it in a way that I think is right along with our plan that we set out -- that the Central Command set out some time ago.

Now we'll make adjustments as we go along, and of course, there is a fog of war -- things happen that you don't expect. But in the truest sense, this is our -- we're setting conditions; they're certainly not setting conditions for us.

QUESTION: The two of you seem to be defending against the criticisms of now and the last several days -- criticisms and questions and skepticism that have come up in the last several days about the military operation three weeks in. Do you believe that you've now in terms of public -- the public image have gone into a defensive posture?

RUMSFELD: Not at all. If you think about it, three weeks is a relatively short period of time.

There's no question, but that there -- that there is an appetite for events on the part of the media and the press. And we see it constantly. You've got to meet 24-hour news schedules, and that's not easy.

In terms of the people, the American people, I sense that there's a good deal of patience and understanding of the difficulty of the task. We said that from the very beginning. I stood out here and said exactly that there's no silver bullet, that it is a marathon not a sprint, that it is going to take years, not weeks or months. I don't know how anyone could be clearer.

And I think the American people have a pretty good center of gravity on that. And I have a lot of confidence in them. And I don't think that you'll find that there's that kind of criticism.

Indeed, I suspect there isn't. And what it has to take place is going to have to take place in ways that are not seen in many instances and it is constant pressure. If you put pressure on people and they have to keep moving, they're not able to be effective in exporting terrorism. If you dry up their money, they're not going to be as effective. If you arrest some of their people and interrogate them and get scraps of information and put them in jail, they're not going to be as effective.

It is something, as we said, that is more akin to draining the swamp bit by bit than it is to some sort of a major mast land battle or sea battle or air battle. They are not going to be there. And as the general said, to the extent anyone in this room or anywhere in the country has an expectation level that they want to take a template from a prior conflict and put it down on this conflict, they are going to be sorely disappointed. It won't fit. This is different. This is very different.


QUESTION: Aren't you concerned that -- you say you want to drain the swamp, but aren't you concerned that the more there are collateral -- collateral damage and civilian casualties, the more you're going to perhaps create new recruits for Al Qaeda and new recruits for the Taliban?

RUMSFELD: There has never been a conflict where people have not been killed, and this is the case here. There is ordinates flying around from three different sources. It's flying around from us from the air down, it's flying around from the Al Qaeda and the Taliban up that lands somewhere and kills somebody when it hits, and there's opposition forces and Al Qaeda forces that are engaged in shooting at each other.

Now, in a war, that happens. There is nothing you can do about it. We lost 5,000 people in this country, plus. And we need to stop people, terrorists, from doing that. They're the ones that started this conflict. They're the ones that imposed great damage on the Afghan people. They're the ones -- the Al Qaeda -- that have invaded Afghanistan with a foreign presence that ought not to be there at all.

Do I think that that is a worthy cause? You bet I do. And will we stick to it? You bet.


QUESTION: You mentioned earlier about the damage caused to the Taliban. Could you elaborate a little bit more on how you see the damage that's been inflicted in Afghanistan on Al Qaeda? And whether or not some of them have been killed or some of their leaders have been eliminated?

RUMSFELD: There's no question but that the Taliban and Al Qaeda people, military, have been killed.

We've seen enough intelligence to know that we have damaged and destroyed a number of tanks, a number of artillery pieces, a number of armored personnel carriers and a number of troops. Are there leaders mixed in there? Yes. At what level? Who knows. There's middle to upper-high, but to our knowledge none of the very top six, eight, ten people have been included in that number.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you talked about supplying the ammunition to the Northern Alliance. Can you be more specific? And are you looking at giving any sort of larger weaponry of any kind to the Northern Alliance, as well?

RUMSFELD: We have. With respect to the latter, we have not gotten to that point. With respect to the former, I can be specific. What we do is, any number of these elements that comprise the Northern Alliance and some others express a need for ammunition. We then try to find the ammunition that fits their weapons, and then we take it in. The problem is, you drop it with chutes. We don't have airfields that we're using at the present time. You drop it with parachutes and it gets down on the ground, and it takes a long time to get it from there into a weapon. They're moving them frequently, not with vehicles, but with horses and donkeys and mules, and it takes time to get them unpacked and moved out to where the people are. And so you might -- we might be able to answer a call for ammunition one day, and two or three days later those people still have not managed to get that distribution system to work in a way to get it where it belongs.

QUESTION: Does this show where you a need for an overland route to help the Northern Alliance more?

RUMSFELD: Oh, goodness. I suppose there are lots of things that would make life easier.

QUESTION: General Myers, if you could explain how it was that U.S. aircraft hit that Red Cross warehouse complex a second time? After there had been quite extensive communication with the Red Cross about its location?

RUMSFELD: Well, there -- I think your name is General Myers.


MYERS: Yes. I heard that here. I'll take it, though.

Obviously, that's quite disturbing, and we do not have an explanation at this point. It is something that General Franks at Central Command is investigating very thoroughly. It should not have happened.

QUESTION: Can you say it was human error? What does the term "human error" mean?

MYERS: Well, we don't know yet on why that target complex was not wiped off any target list after the last strike.

RUMSFELD: Apparently, it is a warehouse complex, and apparently no one was killed, although it is correct that it was hit a second time and there may have been some Red Cross material still in that warehouse.

QUESTION: If I could just follow up on that, military officials have suggested to me that it wasn't a mistake, in fact that the food, once it had fallen into the possession of the Taliban, became, quote -- "fair game," and that the mistake was issuing a press release on Friday saying that it was an accident. Can you clarify that at all?

MYERS: All I can say is that we know the Taliban use food as a weapon -- and that's clear, but it is to my knowledge, it's certainly not true that that's why that warehouse was struck. That's not true. I will wait until General Franks comes back with his investigation to give you the final answer on that, but that's not the answer.

QUESTION: If I could follow-up on this frustration question that seems to be bubbling around. No one could accuse you of not being clear at the very outset of this campaign that it was going to be a long effort, but have there been private expectations within the Bush administration that this would be completed much sooner, or that there would be more progress at this point? And have you had to dampen down some of those expectations within your own administration?

RUMSFELD: Not that I know of. I see -- there may be, you know, it's a big administration, lot's of people, but in terms of the senior people in the National Security side, it's all been very clear from the beginning that this is a very difficult situation on the ground, that it's very easy to hide in caves and tunnels and that it's going to take some time, and you're going to have to put pressure on over a sustained period.

So I don't find any of what your characterizing as frustration at all.

QUESTION: General Myers, when you talk about asymmetric warfare, can you explain a little bit what you mean in terms of how that will play out in the potential use of ground forces? When you say this isn't Desert Storm, does that mean you're ruling the use of divisional army units, entire tens and hundreds of thousands of ground troops?

MYERS: Well, as the secretary said, we are not ruling out anything. We're going to use the full spectrum of our -- we have the potential to use the full spectrum of our conventional capabilities.

The one thing we will not do though is speculate on what we're going to use in the future. We think there are ways to use our forces in this kind of war. And by the way, we are focused on Afghanistan, but as the secretary said, this is global in nature and there are lots of other things going on as well -- not just the military piece. The military piece is clearly the most visible right now, but it's not the only thing going on.

So when I talk about assymetrical warfare, that's part of what I'm talking about. This is all -- the instruments of national power working together, but also it's not going to be frontal assaults, left hooks, those sorts of things. It'll be much different than that.

Does that rule out putting thousands of troops on the ground for a specific objective? No it doesn't. Does it say we're going to do that? No, it doesn't say that either.

QUESTION: How do you address then someone like Senator McCain, who should understand then what it is you're talking about? He keeps coming back saying you're going to have to use ground troops here. That tends to push this expectation flow against your arguments.

MYERS: We've made no arguments for or against that. There's nothing wrong with Senator McCain or anyone else offering their views, and certainly he's a knowledgeable person. But we've not argued for or against anything publicly. Indeed, what we've done is discussed a whole host of things privately. Yes?

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you've often said that it will take years to root out and eliminate all the cells, all the terrorist cells of Al Qaeda, located in 50 -- 60 countries around the world.

Over the weekend, it's reported that the Philippine military has begun an offensive against Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist organization with known connections to Al Qaeda. And it's also known that recently a couple of dozen U.S. advisers went into the Philippines. Can you say to what extent the U.S. is involved in that Philippine operation? And whether any U.S. military are directly involved in any campaign against Abu Sayyaf?

RUMSFELD: I think probably, generally, the way to characterize is that we were asked by the Philippine government, as we are with dozens and dozens of countries across the globe from time to time, to have some American military people offer some advice and assessment as to the kind of problem that the Philippines have been faced with. And it's a serious problem for them. And, as you point out, it's not an isolated cell. It's a cell that's connected to terrorists across the world. And I think that's probably the best way to characterize it.

MYERS: Yes, sir. We have trained, in the past, some of their units in counterterrorism and we are assessing that again.

RUMSFELD: As you know, we do this with literally dozens and dozens of countries. It's part of the so-called engagement plan that the United States military's been involved in.

QUESTION: Any U.S. military personnel directly involved in any offensive operation against Abu Sayyaf?

RUMSFELD: They're doing -- I think it's best to characterize it the way I characterized it.


QUESTION: A pilot deployed on the Carl Vinson -- flying from the Carl Vinson -- is quoted as saying that he was getting his targeting information from an operative, a U.S. operative on the ground in Afghanistan. In fact, that operative was quoted after the hit as saying, "That's a shack," which is American military slang. Do we, in fact, have U.S. military personnel on the ground in Afghanistan helping with targeting? If so, can you tell us where?

MYERS: Do you want me to take that?

RUMSFELD: Either way.

MYERS: OK. We have talked before about having very close liaison with opposition forces and, indeed, we do. And they are helping direct some of our strikes.

QUESTION: So that was a member of -- that was an Afghani or a member of the Northern Alliance who was giving that targeting information? Or was it a U.S. -- was it a U.S. service member who is down there advising them? And given the fact that you yourself have said that intelligence on the ground has improved a lot in recent days?


RUMSFELD: It seems to me that it could have been any of the above, and I was not on the conversation. (CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you please clarify if the campaign will continue throughout the Ramadan or Muslim holidays? And also, what is the reaction or any advice from the Muslim or other countries, including Pakistan?

RUMSFELD: Well, every country has different sensitivities, and every country, of course, we value their cooperation and we listen carefully to the advice. The history of warfare is that it has proceeded right through Ramadan year after year after year after year. The Northern Alliance fought the Taliban for the last five-plus years. the Middle East wars have gone on during Ramadan. There have been any number of conflicts between Moslem countries and between Moslem countries and non-Moslem countries throughout Ramadan.

Needless to say, the Taliban and Al Qaeda are unlikely to take a holiday. Given the fact that they have killed thousands of Americans and people from 50 or 60 other countries, and given the fact that they have sworn to continue such attacks, we have an obligation to defend the American people, and we intend to work diligently to do that.

QUESTION: Can you give us any idea of the scale of these air drops of ammunition that you referred to earlier? Have there been a few dozen, one or two?

RUMSFELD: Not too many yet. There in the early stages, and it's an issue of getting the request, coordinating it with the ground, having people who can do that, finding out what kind of ammunition is needed and getting it in. And it's been relatively few, and it should increase as we go along.

QUESTION: Could you talk a little bit more about the goal of the campaign? Mr. Secretary, you said earlier that the goal is to allow Americans to walk around without fear of terrorism. It seems slightly unrealistic to me because terrorism is a tactic and an extremely useful one against a country like the United States where you can't take it on militarily.

So is that something that you can ever promise the American people?

RUMSFELD: You can't promise it, but you can certainly work towards it. And will you ever eliminate every terrorist? No. I've pointed out here that human beings are human beings.

They're going to behave badly from time to time, from place to place. To the extent people behave badly against people within their own countries, that is one kind of misbehavior. To the extent they are organized systematically across the globe and have it as their design, intimidating the United States and terrorizing people and killing tens of thousands of Americans, then that's something quite different, and that we do need to deal with.

QUESTION: To go back to the dropping of ammunition, you're saying we are (inaudible) doing this, so I interpret that to mean the Pentagon. Could you clarify, is the Pentagon itself now financing this operation, going out and purchasing the ammunition and actually conducting the airdrops itself?

RUMSFELD: It's been a combination of the Pentagon with other agencies of government.

QUESTION: And are you also then involved in the financing of the delivery of possibly larger weapons, including tanks from Russia? Are you going to supply -- are you going to fund that to the Russians?

RUMSFELD: The Russians are providing assistance of their own. We have not engaged in any arrangement, to that effect, to my knowledge.

QUESTION: You had always said that one of the goals also is to persuade those in the Taliban to switch sides. I wonder with the execution of Haq last week. Is that a setback for you in that effort? And also, are you concentrating more on hoping the Northern Alliance will take greater steps?

RUMSFELD: Well, I keep coming back to it. The Northern Alliance is a collection of groups of people that have forces, and there are others in the country that are not the Northern Alliance. I notice somebody wrote that we were encouraging the Northern Alliance to take Kabul.

Actually, I said -- I think I said, I hope I said that -- we are anxious to have all the forces on the ground move forward and take whatever they can take away from the Taliban and the Al Qaeda. We're not making judgments about that. Our hope is that they'll be successful.

Our hope is that they will work their way into the major cities and the major airports and create an environment that's a lot more pleasant for the Afghan people, so that they can get food in to them and they can start living a decent life.


It's clearly, he was among other Afghans, a person who opposed Taliban and it's certainly regrettable that he was killed. Interesting, I don't see an awful lot of hand-wringing about how he was murdered and assassinated about five minutes after they captured him in the Taliban.

If that's a process that is typical of them, it certainly is not admirable.

QUESTION: General Myers, I had a question. I understand that the Central Command in Tampa has created a coalition coordination center with military representatives from 12 coalition countries. And I was wondering if you could tell us what exactly is it that they're doing in support of the United States?

MYERS: What they're doing down there is coordinating those other countries that have volunteered support, and those aren't the only countries, by the way, but they're the ones that apply primarily to the Central Command area of responsibility. And what they're doing down there is coordinating their contributions, and it can range all the way from a war-fighting contribution to some sort of support contribution in terms of logistics, to chemical and biological units that could go forward and help protect other forces that are forward- deployed in the Gulf. It's the entire gamut. To do that, I might add that if you've seen the list, that we have several Muslim countries, as well as some other allies in the region and outside the region.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you've said that the center of gravity for the American people is definitely behind the strategy that you have evolved. Quite clearly, out in the region, to name three -- Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia -- we're beginning to hear from the very top leadership quite a bit of discomfort in the way the campaign is being conducted and the length of it. Is this going to alter your thinking at all? I know you've said from time to time that the coalition is not going to distract the United States from its goal. But when these top leaders, critical American friends, speak like this, is it altering your game plan or do you just go straight ahead?

RUMSFELD: Clearly, anyone listens to friends and important nations. They have a set of problems that are distinctive to their circumstance and their neighborhood, and we do of course listen to them. The problem is that the United States faces very serious threats from terrorists, and the threats involve very powerful weapons that can kill lots of people. It is our task as Americans to work with all of those countries on the face of the earth who can help us in various ways to see that we go after that threat and stop it. And that's what we're doing and that's what we intend to do.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, undeterred by their concerns?

RUMSFELD: Interested in their concerns and reflecting those concerns from time to time. But we have a big task, and we are hard at it, and we intend to continue it.


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I'd like to take you back to Thursday and your missile defense announcement. This is a little off point, but you very forcefully came out and said that the U.S. is going to delay the next test because of concerns over the ABM Treaty, potential violations. Did you know at the time that that test was actually delayed for technical reasons unrelated to the ABM Treaty and will occur in December at some point without the Aegis radar that is in violation of the treaty? Your pronouncement was somewhat incomplete, I thought.

RUMSFELD: Well, if it was, I'm sorry. My understanding of this is that there are a series of tests that are planned, one of which has already happened I believe, and there are three or four more -- two or three more and that the test will go forward, but we will not be able to use a certain radar to track that missile because some -- not all, but some -- might contend that it would be -- could be considered a violation of the ABM Treaty. We do not intend to violate the ABM Treaty, and we shall not. QUESTION: Your remarks the other day did imply that the only reason it was being delayed was because of ABM concerns when sounded like there were technical reasons that are going to delay it anyway.

RUMSFELD: First of all, there's no it. There were four things as I recall -- not a singular thing. And second, the fact that the missile is still fired and other tests are performed on it is a perfectly acceptable thing. The important thing is that we are not using one radar on it because of the reason I just stated.

Now, if one of those tests is canceled or has been canceled for technical reasons, so be it. All I know is, at the time I was asked what should they do, I said do not violate the treaty. And if later there was a technical reason and we could not have used radar anyway, that's life. But there were three or four of these instances, and in each case, we made the decision not to put the United States in a position where a small cluster of lawyers could argue that we were violating the treaty.

And we'll take one last question right there.

QUESTION: But given the Taliban's claims of billions being killed during the bombings, have you altered or changed your message -- the broadcasting that you've been broadcasting from the Commando Solo planes or in your leaflets that you've been dropping?

RUMSFELD: I think the leaflets and the radio changes frequently anyway, quite apart from anything -- having nothing to do with that, but it does change...


RUMSFELD: That's my understanding.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: You said you knew Haq was executed within five minutes. How did you know that?

RUMSFELD: I overstated. It was in a short period of time.

HEMMER: Just wanted to hear the end of that question there regarding Abdul Haq, the opposition leader who was killed, murdered, executed last week at the end of the week inside Afghanistan -- nonetheless, though, a lengthy meeting today with reporters at the Pentagon. The message from Donald Rumsfeld appeared to be one of patience and understanding: patience for the military air war under way and understanding that civilian casualties are a sad and regrettable act of war.

We heard a few things, though, about the patience issue -- Donald Rumsfeld saying that quote -- "It's a marathon, not a sprint. Three weeks is a short period of time. And American people understand that."

Also, on the issue about resupplying Northern Alliance troops, he did indicate that the Pentagon is taking an active role -- one of many, possibly -- and dropping munitions by parachute. But he urged caution, again, saying that it takes a while to get the munitions on the ground, on to the back of a mule or donkey and eventually into a weapon that can be used against Taliban troops in Northern Afghanistan.




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