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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Briefs Reporters

Aired January 30, 2002 - 14:02   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And it looks like we're getting very close. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is coming up to the podium at the Pentagon. Let's go ahead and listen in.

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Good afternoon.

In the State of the Union address last night, President Bush laid out his vision of the task that our country faces and the task that the military will face.

The new budget is designed to strengthen the armed forces for today's global war on terror and to better prepare the armed forces for the wars that we may have to face in the period ahead.

The new budget's designed to help build an armed force that is prepared to contend with surprise. And let there be no doubt: There will be surprises, undoubtedly somewhat different from September 11, but surely there will be surprises again.

Our military deserves praise for the early successes in the war on terrorism. But even as we continue that war, we cannot afford to wait to transform our military for the threats of the 21st century.

For 2003, the president will seek what he characterized as the largest increase in defense spending since the 1980s. It's a great deal of money. It's the taxpayers' money. It is not the government's money. It is the taxes that are paid by people who work in Chicago and Dallas and Portland and Seattle; their hard-earned dollars.

But compared with the cost in dollars, if one thinks about the cost in dollars and lives of a conflict, there's no question but that investment before the fact is much cheaper. Seeing that our country has the capability to contribute to peace and stability in the world is the wise and prudent and in the last analysis is the cheapest way both in dollars and in human treasure.

The president's budget will fund the war on terrorism. It'll help to reverse the effects of years of under-investment when the so- called procurement holiday occurred, and the draw-down from the end of the Cold War overshot its mark, and we will be moving forward with 21st century transformation.

There are those who seem to think that all transformation really is is to fire some senior military officer or cancel some major weapons system. I read that from time to time. That's not the case.

Transformation is an ongoing process. It is not something that ends. It is a continuum because the world's not static. And it's a process in which we create an effective fighting force with new ways of thinking, with new culture, and with new ways of fighting and to be sure in some instances with new weapons systems and platforms, but also how they're used together, as we've seen in Afghanistan.

Our enemies are learning from our successes and their mistakes, and certainly they'll continue to seek new ways to threaten us. The budget will provide resources for precision-guided munitions as well as funds for defenses against missiles and other asymmetric threats, for unmanned vehicles and for advanced equipment for soldiers on the ground.

And the budget is also designed to help us manage the department in a more businesslike manner. It streamlines and retires a number of defense programs that do not fit with our strategy for the 21st century.

It provides funds to fight and win the war on terror, and it provides funds to improve the quality of life for the men and women in the armed services who serve there voluntarily and put their lives at risk.

Our budget will include another pay raise for the men and women who volunteer to serve the country. It's an important step forward to help us ensure that Americans will be able to live in peace and freedom in the 21st century.

General Myers, do you have anything?

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Sir, I do not.

RUMSFELD: Charlie (ph), do you have anything?

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Yes, sir, I do.

Secretary, it's been a week now for the dust to, kind of, settle and the facts to straighten out on what happened in the raid north of Kandahar last week. You all say, Pentagon officials have said that 15 Taliban were killed and 27 were arrested. And yet persistent reports from the region, including one today quoting security sources, say that, in fact, an anti-Taliban leader and perhaps 17 of his men were killed by U.S. forces who were misled by local Afghans.

I wonder if you could comment on that and tell us what you've found out.

MYERS: That investigation is still ongoing. It's being conducted by General Franks down at Central Command. And I can't tell you when we anticipate the results of that to be done, but it's still ongoing. QUESTION: Well, have you any -- Admiral Stufflebeem almost dismissed it on Monday. Have you any indication at all that, in fact, you might not have killed Taliban and that, through a mistake, you might have killed anti-Taliban government (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

MYERS: At this point, no, we have no information like that. But, again, I'd wait for the investigation to complete. As you know, the situation over there can be very, very complex, with allegiances changing depending on the situation. And so, we'll just have to wait until they work through that.

QUESTION: And just one -- are you still holding the 27 that were arrested?

MYERS: As far as I know, we still have the detainees, correct.

QUESTION: General Myers, I believe this is first time we've heard that you're conducting an investigation into this incident. Can you tell us what led you or General Franks to decide to do that, when you started it and what you're exactly looking at? Because I don't think we've heard this before today.

MYERS: I think it's been announced before.

RUMSFELD: I think so.

MYERS: I think we've said that. If we haven't...

(CROSSTALK)

MYERS: I have said it before. Maybe not in front of this forum, but I've said it to other forums.

QUESTION: So could you tell us?

MYERS: Well, the motivation, of course, is when the people that you associate with over there, when they bring up the question, then you're obligated to go look at it. So that's what we're doing.

I mean, it's more -- I don't think it was any sense on our part that we've done something wrong. It was that when there are allegations, you've got to go run them to ground. So that's what we're doing.

RUMSFELD: I've been involved in some discussions on the subject, and it's essentially this simple: that Tom Franks called and indicated to me that there had been somebody who had contacted somebody in the interim government and said that, in their view, there were some people involved in that shooting that were killed who were not Taliban or al Qaeda. And that, as a result of the contact to CENTCOM, General Franks had decided to conduct an investigation. This was some days ago. It was in a relatively short period after it happened as I recall. And it's been under way, and it is -- I would assume would be resolved sometime in the coming days or a week or two.

QUESTION: Last night in the State of the Union the president served notice on North Korea, Iraq and Iran and their allies. If the United States should get into some sort of military action with these nations, does the United States have sufficient men and women in uniform to handle this kind of combat, or is there a thought here within DOD introduced, perhaps your thought too, that America should reinstitute the draft?

RUMSFELD: There have been no discussions about reinstituting the draft. You can be sure that the United States, if it gets involved in additional activities in connection with the war on terror, that we'll have sufficient men and women to do the job.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, just one final question on the allegations (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Do you have any indications that one of the buildings hit was, in fact, a government building and not a Taliban compound?

RUMSFELD: I don't.

MYERS: The facts that we heard right after the event were that as they approached the compounds that the folks in their sights started shooting first -- that'll have to be verified -- that they started the shooting. The other thing we know is that there were no women and children involved in any of the two compounds. And the last thing we know for sure was what the secretary briefed, I think -- gee, it must have been last week on the armaments that were found. And that's what we know and I think the investigation by CENTCOM will try to figure out the rest of that.

RUMSFELD: Without repeating all of the facts, the notable facts were the ones that the general mentioned. There were large numbers of weapons, which were confiscated, and no women and children, and as the American and the Afghan forces approached, they were shot at by the people in the compound, which is something.

QUESTION: A follow-up: I know that these reports -- this is, sort of, a pattern; you strike and then there are reports that maybe the wrong thing was struck. But in this particular case, our reporter in Kandahar filed a story Saturday with some very compelling stuff from locals and now the Reuters story comes on top of this with security officials. It's very persistent and consistent and it's hard to believe that, you know, nothing so far -- I understand you're investigating -- but that there aren't any concerns, that there isn't any thought that perhaps there might be something to this.

RUMSFELD: Well, all we can say is General Franks decided to have an investigation. That seems to me to be the appropriate thing to do.

Second, I don't think that it involves a pattern at all. It seems to me what you may be referring to is that when the Taliban ran the country and we were bombing, there were Taliban reports that were inaccurate. But since the Taliban have left the country and taken out of power, I would not say there's been a pattern of that.

I will say this about the situation on the ground: It is true that there are Afghan factions on the ground that don't get along. It is true that people say things in ways that they feel might advantage them.

Second, there are people who had relationships with Taliban who want to be a part of the provincial governments that exist. There are tugs of war from time to time. There's no reason that it should have perfect clarity.

RUMSFELD: We're still in the very early period. People are struggling to figure out who is going to govern what province and what people are going to serve in those provincial governments.

And you have a country that had been run by the Taliban and the al Qaeda for some period of time, so an awful lot of the people there had various connections. So it is perfectly possible that you could go into a compound, get shot at -- and let's not use the same fact pattern as this. Let me forget this and don't connect it to the one you asked about -- but it is perfectly possible to go in in a situation, get shot at, shoot back and end up having someone say that those people were Taliban and somebody else say that, "Those people were people we were engaging in our local government" and both can be true in as confused a situation as it is in village after village in Afghanistan.

Is that fair enough?

QUESTION: Can you bring us up to date on your views on whether or not to treat captives from the Taliban as POWs? And as a backdrop to that, when the Pueblo crew was captured by North Korea in '68, the North Korean government declared them as detainees, spies, not POWs, and they tortured them, and therefore one can argue it's a two-edged sword. If we don't honor the Geneva Convention and treat them like POWs, if our guys get captured, the same thing could happen to them.

RUMSFELD: Fair enough. Let me comment on it.

QUESTION: Could you bring us up to date on that?

RUMSFELD: You bet.

The Pueblo, very clear situation: men in uniform, on a U.S. warship, captured by Korea, taken in. Unambiguous as to what they were. They were people from the United States who were in uniform, with their weapons visible, with their insignia, who had every right to prisoner of war status under the Geneva Convention. No question.

Second...

QUESTION: Well, excuse me just there. The Navy originally declared them as detainees. The didn't from the start declare them as prisoners of war.

RUMSFELD: Who's the navy? Our Navy or the Koreans? QUESTION: U.S. Navy. And they changed the status as the court of inquiry got going. So I'm just trying to address the two-edged sword.

OK. Let me answer the question, though. Then you say isn't it a two-edged sword, and it's a good question. The fact is, no, it isn't. The Geneva Convention talks about lawful combatants and unlawful combatants, and what it does is it elevates lawful combatants, soldiers, in a conflict between two countries, so that they can be protected; ours can be protected and other countries' can be protected, and have the rights and privileges that accrue to you as a prisoner of war, which are distinctly different. You get a salary. You get accommodations that are roughly like the military that's holding you. You're allowed to have all kinds of special opportunities, musical instruments and things like this. There's a whole list of them that are the kinds of things that a prisoner of war is entitled to.

An unlawful combatant is identified differently, for a very good reason: because people who don't wear uniforms, people who don't carry their weapons out, people who don't have insignia are confusing and blurring the line between them and civilians. And terrorists do go around killing civilians, and therefore it's not surprising they did not want to be seen as soldiers, they wanted to be seen as unlawful combatants, and that is the way they dressed, that's the way they behaved.

It would be a terrible thing if we said that the Geneva Convention is -- that notwithstanding the status and standing that a prisoner of war gets under the Geneva Convention, that we should blur that distinction and treat everyone the same regardless of how they behave. The whole purpose of the Geneva Convention is to have a category for prisoners of war that get a special standing under that if, in fact, they avoid blurring the distinction between innocent people, civilians and soldiers.

So the two-edged sword that you mentioned is something that will not be a problem for us because our soldiers behave like soldiers, they look like soldiers, they dress like soldiers and they don't go around killing innocent civilians.

QUESTION: Will they be treated under the Geneva Convention as of this moment and is there any distance between you and Secretary of State Powell on this issue?

RUMSFELD: No, there is none. The reports that Secretary Powell believes that they should be treated as prisoner of war is just flat untrue. I've been in 10 meetings with him on the subject, and he's never said that. He's always said quite the contrary. He has said basically what I have said, that -- and what General Myers has said -- is that they have been, since day one, treated in a manner consistent with the Geneva Convention. They are being today. And the Geneva Convention rights and privileges that accrue to people in their circumstance will, in fact, be applied in the future.

We are adhering to the Geneva Convention.

QUESTION: So there's no change on the horizon?

RUMSFELD: Look, the president of the United States can do what he wishes when he wishes. You know that. He has been considering a couple of legal technicalities, as I've mentioned here, and how he will end up resolving those we'll know in the period ahead. But I am confident enough from being in all these meetings to know that we will end up treating these people in a manner that's consistent with the Geneva Convention, and that they will not be characterized as prisoners of war because that is not what they are. They are terrorists.

QUESTION: Have you given the go-ahead to resume the transfer of prisoners from Afghanistan to Guantanamo?

RUMSFELD: I haven't.

QUESTION: Are you -- is it on your desk as a decision now or is it still...

RUMSFELD: My desk is a mess.

(LAUGHTER)

I've had so much stuff on my desk. I couldn't say if it's on my desk. I know there have been people wrestling with that, and as I mentioned I think some days back, I said, "Look, let's just stop the flow in there until we get ourselves arranged."

Now they've been down there 21 or 22 days. They've got a number of cells made. The CBs are working 24 hours a day. Every day that they've been there, they have made progress.

We have not yet ordered the more permanent structures, which we will do. We're trying to get a better grip on the numbers -- total numbers.

QUESTION: Numbers of?

RUMSFELD: Of potential detainees. And, you know, there's thousands of these people that are being held by the Afghans; they're being held by the Pakistanis; they're being held by us. And as we go through and look at them, we've giving a great, large number back to the Afghans as people that were foot soldiers in the Taliban, and a lot back to the Pakistanis that were foot soldiers in the Taliban, and trying to sort out the al Qaeda and the more senior Taliban.

So that that process -- we can't -- and then we're also trying to find out which countries may or may not be appropriate to return their nationals to so that they can process them. We don't want to have any more people than we have to have.

And therefore, getting a fix on the total number of people that ultimately would fit, that would be appropriate to have at Guantanamo, was an open question.

And I'll be honest, I mean, the number is somewhere between, say, 400 and 2,000. I don't know where it is. I suspect it's closer to the bottom. Therefore, I'm so conservative and so respectful of taxpayers' dollars I'm disinclined to start ordering 2,000 permanent cells for these people.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) settle all those question before you resume the transfer, is that what you're saying?

RUMSFELD: No, but I'm trying to get my head wrapped around it so that I'm a little bit farther down. I think what I'll do is probably authorize -- as the cells get completed -- the temporary cells that they're currently using -- as they get completed, we'll probably authorize another tranche of 30 and then another tranche of 30, as the cells are available.

One of the problems is, there is an issue of tuberculosis, and there is the question that the cells' proximity to each other suggest that you may need two cells for a person that may have tuberculosis, in which case you can't just go by the number of cells and the number of people you bring in.

So there's a lot of complicated pieces to this. And we're doing it well, and we're doing it as rapidly as humanly possible.

QUESTION: Is it likely to be this weekend?

RUMSFELD: That I'll allow some more to come in? I don't know. I'll allow -- we don't want them in Kandahar. We don't want them in Bagram. We're continuing to give people back to the Pakistanis and to the Afghans, and we're continuing to get more from them. As they have others, we're sorting through them. And so, we may give back 30 and take 30. And it's very difficult -- with that many moving parts, it's very difficult to know exactly how many...

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, how was your trip down there? Did you learn anything? Excuse me, sir. Today entering the Pentagon was observed a number of members of Iraqi opposition groups. And while I would never jump to conclusion from such a limited fact base...

(LAUGHTER)

... others might suggest that this might be the beginning of some sort of planning for operations in Iraq.

Could you help us put that in the proper context? Who are these people meeting with, and what was the purpose of the meeting?

RUMSFELD: People come in and out of this building all the time, and I would not read anything into it other than that people are coming in and out of this building all the time.

And it happens that on this day, I believe, some members of the Iraqi National Congress are in Washington. And I believe they're making visits to the State Department, the Pentagon and various other locations around town. Who they're meeting with is not clear to me. I don't know if they met with Paul or with Doug Feith or with somebody else, but they are in town. I've heard they were coming here, and I heard they were going to the State Department and other places.

QUESTION: If I could follow-up. Yesterday the president said that North Korea, Iran and Iraq were a part of this axis of evil and these regimes caused a grave and growing danger. He also said that he will not wait on events while dangers gather, suggesting an immediacy, a gravity to the situation. Is there an increased level in threat from these countries, and if so is that information coming from these countries or from information gathered from these airstrikes or raids in Afghanistan?

RUMSFELD: Well, we are gathering additional information everyday from a variety of sources. The president's remarks last evening I thought had perfect clarity. As to exactly what he meant, he said it. We know that those countries and others have been in the terrorist list.

We know that the United States has had a preference that the regime in Iraq not be there. The Congress has passed resolutions on this. And we know that we have Operation Northern Watch and Southern Watch in place. We also know that the Iraqi National Congress has had a relationship with the United States government for some time. And I don't know how I could elaborate beyond that.

QUESTION: There are reports that some 200 Iranian forces are training fighters in western Afghanistan to take on the interim government there. Do you believe those reports? Do you think that they're true? And if so, is anything being done about that?

RUMSFELD: I can't comment directly on that specific report. We do see things that clearly demonstrate Iran's interest in the western portion -- at the minimum the western portion of Afghanistan. There have been, as I think I've indicated, reports that they've been supplying weapons, and there's no question but that they've had relationships there for decades and decades. They've bordered that country. We do not have diplomatic relationships with Iran, and we don't have the kinds of communications that would enable me to be, you know, precise or reasonably precise as to what it is they have in mind.

We do not believe that it is helpful to have countries, neighboring countries or other countries, supplying individual elements of Afghan forces in that country. The chairman of the interim government has announced, and the acting defense minister has announced, that they would like to see a national government being to be formed, and those things that contribute to a centrifugal effect, as opposed to greater coherence and cohesion, are notably unhelpful. And there is every reason to believe that Iran fits in the latter category, not the former.

QUESTION: Are we to believe from the president's statements last night that that's a possible future target?

RUMSFELD: Oh, I think we take the president's words exactly as he gave them, yes.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on that point one second? His words last night implied the use of -- a military threat. And the basic question of whether the U.S. military now would be ready to conduct two possibly near-simultaneous operations in the Pacific and in the Gulf while Afghanistan was going on, can you give us a snapshot of the state of readiness of the force and to what extent, if any, the Afghan operations have degraded some of the readiness; mobility, possibly, or firepower?

RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, I would not characterize what's taking place in the Pacific as an operation. We have some training going on with the Philippine government, we have the possibility of an exercise. And to elevate it to the category of a major regional conflict I think is a stretch.

QUESTION: North Korea is what I was making the allusion to.

RUMSFELD: I see. Well, let me put it this way, and then I'd ask the general to comment. The United States will be prepared to do what the president decides is appropriate and what the rest of the world may impose on us.

QUESTION: But from a readiness standpoint, though, are mobility assets stretched, precision-guided weapons stretched?

RUMSFELD: In life, one makes choices, and if things -- if we decide to initiate things, we'll initiate things, in a manner, in a time and with the choices that fit us. If the world decides to impose choices on us, then we'll make choices with respect to the things we're doing and deal with those problems.

MYERS: I would only add that I agree with the secretary that when we're called upon by the president to do whatever, we'll be ready do to that. To say that some of our forces are stretched, in your words, that may be appropriate for a snapshot in time, and we all know we have certain systems we haven't bought enough of in the past that are stretched right now.

I don't think that has any correlation to what might happen in the future, and so we'll be -- we'll be ready.

QUESTION: General Myers, you were just in Abu Dhabi, if I'm not mistaken, and Jordan. Could you just give us -- remind us what the sense was of the people you spoke with there about the prospect of U.S. action in Iraq, what they would feel about the timing of it, how much support the United States could count on from those countries politically as -- politically really if the United States were to contemplate action there?

MYERS: We did not talk specifically about Iraq. We did talk about the global war on terrorism, and their support there is unwavering. And we've gotten great support and we've talked about that and the people that I visited and the officials I talked to are all very supportive of U.S. officials, because, in fact, they're their goals as well. They share the same goals and...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MYERS: Only in general terms, not in terms of going and having conflict.

QUESTION: What's their view of Saddam Hussein?

MYERS: I think that's pretty -- I don't want to get in that. I'll let them speak for themselves.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) North Korea. When do you demand the inspection on the first chemical and biological nuclear weapon sites in North Korea? I have another question: In case North Korea refuse U.S. inspection, then should U.S. make preemptive strike on North Korea?

RUMSFELD: I'm afraid the answer to your question is probably something that the Department of State should respond to. I am not current on the state of inspections at the present time.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the United States now has troops in a number of countries surrounding Afghanistan: Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. What promises has the U.S. made to those governments? And how much is it costing the United States in terms of payment or offsets to each of those governments for whatever arrangement the U.S....

RUMSFELD: Which countries?

QUESTION: Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

RUMSFELD: The short answer is, I don't know.

The general answer is that Pakistan has been doing a great many things to be helpful to the United States military and government. And we have been using their fuel. We have been using their airports. We have used some of their ports. We have used their airspace. We have requested, and they have responded positively, to supplying their troops along that border. And there is no question but that they have just been enormously helpful.

And we have -- the Congress passed a piece of legislation that authorized, as I recall, something like $100 million, the larger portion of which for Pakistan and some smaller portion for another country. And some of that money for Pakistan has gone, but it is only a beginning, because we do have some financial obligations to them. What the total number will be, those things are being assessed at the present time.

With respect to the other two countries, I don't know -- I think that the implication that there have been a lot of promises made is probably not correct. I know that I haven't made a lot of promises.

What we do have, however, is relationships, for example with Uzbekistan, where I have been, where they're a member of Partnership for Peace in NATO. We already had military-to-military relationships -- we did before this started. We obviously have developed a much closer relationship, and they're been enormously cooperative. And I suspect that we'll have these kinds of relationships for some time into the future. It's good for them, it's good for us, it's good for NATO.

QUESTION: There's no financial quid pro quo with Uzbekistan, where the U.S. has thousands of forces? RUMSFELD: I think that characterizing, in any one of those instances, as a quid pro quo would be a misunderstanding of the relationship. If we go into Pakistan, for example, and they give us fuel, I don't think of that as a quid pro quo. We pay them for the fuel -- or we ought to. In this case, we have not as yet because we didn't have a cross-servicing agreement until more recently.

But there wasn't -- in none of these instances, that I know of, did anyone make the basis of their support for us or the war on terror some sort of financial quid pro quo, as you're suggesting.

QUESTION: You don't mean to indicate that the United States has not promised to help them financially because they have opened up airfields they have never opened up before. I mean, there have been promises to help them, have there not?

RUMSFELD: Well, I mean one way of helping is in some cases we have helped their airports. We have fixed runways, and we've put in various kinds of instruments that allow airplanes to go in and go out -- flight instruments.

The thrust of your question, quid pro quo, I think is a misunderstanding of the relationship. I do think those relationships are important. I do think that they are long-lasting. I suspect that we'll, as I say, continue to have very close relationships, and not just military-to-military but also diplomatic and economic. And we do know that the United States government has other departments and agencies that have been -- when President Musharraf was here he obviously met with the Treasury Department, he met with the Congress, he met with the White House, he met with the State Department. And I can really only speak for our piece of it.

QUESTION: Last night the president, in singling out North Korea, Iran and Iraq, that's being interpreted as certainly a widening of the U.S. war on terrorism, if not a pretext to perhaps an actual shooting war, at least in Iraq. Is there any evidence that any of these three countries pose any greater threat than they did on September 10? And if the United States doesn't follow up the president's words with some decisive action, would not that, in fact, weaken his rhetoric if not the U.S. position in the war on terrorism?

RUMSFELD: Wow. First you have characterized how the world is interpreting it. And I don't know how the world's interpreting it. He just uttered those words last evening. Those are all countries that I have spoken about repeatedly, the president has spoken about repeatedly. They are countries that have records of fostering terrorist activity. They are countries that in each case has records of being active in the development of weapons of mass destruction.

If one is concerned about terrorist networks and the violence they can impose on the world, and have imposed on the world and then walk toward that nexus between that willingness to impose great violence and connect it with weapons of mass destruction, all three of those countries being weapons of mass destruction nations, one has to be concerned about that connection. And what does the implication mean? Well, I think the president is wise that what he did last evening is a very useful thing. He said to the world, "We have countries that have close relationships with terrorists." Take Iran. We know Iran is actively sending terrorists down through Damascus, into the Bekaa Valley, where they train terrorists, where terrorists then engage in acts against countries in the region and elsewhere. This has been going on a long time. It is not a new story.

We also know that they have a very active weapon of mass destruction program. What the president was saying to the world, and properly so, was these circumstance that exist in the world today are distinctly different than in earlier eras and they need to be noted, and the world has to understand the potential for not thousands of people to be killed, but for tens of thousands of people to be killed.

And that is a message that he delivered, he delivered it clearly, he meant it, and it is something that we all have to take aboard and understand, our nation, other nations that value freedom and are concerned about the fact that there are people who are willing to use those capabilities to the disadvantage of much of the free world.

QUESTION: But he said more. He said more. He said to do nothing would be catastrophic. That's pretty hard. That, sort of, doesn't put a time frame, but it says we've got to do something.

RUMSFELD: Well, the opposite of that would be to suggest that it would be desirable to say to these countries that, "We know you have active weapons of mass destruction programs, and we know you have close relationships with terrorist networks or, in fact, in some instances are engaged in terrorism, and we're comfortable with that." And we're not.

QUESTION: But is military action imminent? That's the real thing. He was suggesting it would be military actions as opposed to something else.

RUMSFELD: He said exactly what he said. He said it well. He didn't suggest anything. If there was anything about last night's speech, it was that it had near-perfect clarity.

QUESTION: But a senior administration official after the speech said he didn't necessarily mean to say military action, but it could be other action.

RUMSFELD: What do you mean, "necessarily mean to say"? He didn't say. He not only didn't necessarily say, he did not say. He said exactly what he said.

QUESTION: He seemed to suggest, and therefore perhaps it isn't that clear. You say it's perfect clarity. It isn't clear, is it?

RUMSFELD: Oh, I think it is. I think if I were in Iran or North Korean or Iraq and I heard the president of the United States say what he said last night about weapons of mass destruction and about terrorism and about terrorist networks and about nations that harbor terrorists, I don't think there'd be a lot of ambiguity as to the view he holds of those problems and their behavior.

Now, what will they do about that is something we'll find out. But it ought to be very clear to them that he is calling attention to the risks to the world that that relationship poses.

We'll take one last question.

QUESTION: If I could turn away from the axis of evil to the war against terrorist groups, the president last night mentioned more than a dozen countries that are operational training bases. Could you shed some light onto what countries he's talking about?

And then if General Myers could go back for one quick second to the Taliban compound and just at least tell us whether or not the 27 captives has said anything in their testimony that in any way matches what some of these Afghan security officials are saying. I mean, you've had them for a week; you must know something.

RUMSFELD: Well, with respect to the first part of it, we know that, over the years, terrorist training camps have been sited in any number of countries, not just Afghanistan but certainly in Syria, certainly in Lebanon, certainly in Libya, certainly in Somalia and Sudan. There are some in Asia.

A terrorist training camp is not a 40-story building; it is an area with housing, with storage facilities for weapons, with places where people can be taught how to do the kinds of things that you all and I have read in the terrorist training manuals for the al Qaeda that have been captured.

And they can be active, and then they can be inactive. And you can go in and bomb them and destroy them, and they can be active again in a relatively short period of time with enough money and people.

But there are a great many countries that have been the sites of trainings for terrorists. As the president said, there have been a great many people who have been trained, and very well trained, and trained to be killers of innocent civilians, using a variety of techniques.

MYERS: I would just say the investigation is ongoing. And I think that's probably a pretty good assumption, but we don't know yet. And Central Command is going to be coming forward. That will probably be part of their investigation process, of course.

RUMSFELD: Thank you.

KAGAN: We've been listening to today's daily Pentagon briefing. Three big points coming out of the briefing. One, as a follow-up to the president's State of the Union address from last night, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, calling it a useful thing, the president pointing out the countries of Iran, Iraq and North Korea, saying that he is turning the attention of the world on the risk that these nations pose. That these are nations that, the secretary says, have a history of fostering terrorist activity and developing weapons of mass destruction. Also, some questions on Camp X-Ray, on the detainees. The secretary saying he is not concerned that the Geneva Convention can be turned around. And that if U.S. soldiers were taken captive, they would not receive the rights that they had coming to them under the convention.

Also, on the -- there apparently was an incident on a raid north of Kandahar last week, and they have confirmed that there is an investigation going on into that incident. Some members of the interim government of Afghanistan concerned that perhaps, while it wasn't Taliban and al Qaeda fighters who were killed in that incident, perhaps it could have been civilians. So that investigation does go on.

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