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Rumsfeld Commemorates Six Month Anniversary of Attack On Pentagon

Aired March 11, 2002 - 11:26   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: And let's go right to the Pentagon and listen to what Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has to say.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: ... so the United States was not alone.

Indeed, our NATO allies have promptly invoked Article 5 for the first time in the 53-year history of the alliance. At the Organization of American States, the Rio Treaty was invoked. And nations all across the globe very quickly joined in the global war against terrorism.

With us today are representatives from 29 nations that are contributing military support and other assistance to the war on terrorism.

Twenty-seven of the nations have representatives that work at the CENTCOM headquarters on a regular basis assisting General Franks in his important work. Coalition countries have contributed in many ways, military, diplomatic, economic, financial, intelligence sharing, as well as humanitarian assistance.

Some have helped openly. Others have helped quietly. Many leaders have courageously spoken out against terror. Dozens of nations have provided troops, material, humanitarian aid, overflight and basing privileges. Military personnel from several nations have now lost their lives. We offer our deepest sympathy to their families and to their friends.

They courageously served their countries and the cause of freedom. This morning, we visited the White House to meet with President Bush, and this afternoon, the gentlemen here will meet at the Pentagon to discuss the progress on the war on terrorism.

And I want each of you gentlemen to know that I thank you and your nations for your valued help in a time of crisis. Six months after the war began, it is certainly far from over. But if we stand together as President Bush said this morning, the final outcome is assured.

The attacks of September 11 were clearly a terrible tragedy, and our nation grieves for those who were lost and our hearts go out to their families, those in New York, in Pennsylvania, and yes, those of our friends and colleagues here at the Pentagon.

But from the ashes, hope springs. With the coming of spring, the Pentagon building is rising, and thanks to the truly outstanding effort of the workers, repairs are ahead of schedule.

Indeed, from the outside, the building looks like it's almost new.

I just visited the site a few minutes ago to mark the progress that's been made in these past six months. If one thinks back, our world has changed a great deal. It has awakened to the threat of terrorism, and as all can see here, the civilized nations of the world have reached truly new levels of cooperation, unity and strength.

We have the opportunity to tear terrorism out by the roots. By our campaign against terrorism, we are preventing acts of terror that may well have been planned before September 11 and we would have never known until it was too late. The memory of September 11 reminds us all of the need to remain vigilant.

I thank each of you for being here. I look forward to seeing you at lunch. And I am told that I should respond to a few questions from the gathered assembly.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, with the weather clearing somewhat around Gardez now, will the United States press the attacks this week, and do you hope, perhaps, to have the Al Qaeda and Taliban cleared from this pocket perhaps this week?

RUMSFELD: Yes, one would hope so.

QUESTION: This week?

RUMSFELD: One would hope so. You can't know that now. I want you to understand that. I talked with General Franks this morning, and there is no question but that there is some numbers of them still on the so-called whale -- the area to the left of the -- area that's been contained. There are also some folks that need to either surrender or dealt with and that work's going forward. The Afghan troops as well as the coalition forces are dealing with that as we speak.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) I'm afraid, leaving about 800. Do you plan to return them to the fight or do you plan to let the Afghans control the operation as time goes on?

RUMSFELD: There have been -- no, no, the U.S. will stay very much in charge. At the present time, there's a larger number than you have suggested, and roughly equal number of coalition forces and Afghan forces. And that work will continue. Some people may leave and others will go in, but it will continue until it's completed.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I have a bit of a follow-up on that. There have been some speculation because of bad weather -- the snow and cold and what have you -- that some of the Al Qaeda and Taliban have managed to get across that porous border into Pakistan. Any comments on that, please?

RUMSFELD: No. I have no information that people have either successfully gotten in or gotten out.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you tell us if General Franks was able to give you any information on what type of Al Qaeda leadership might have been killed in the latest battles?

RUMSFELD: We do know there are a great many Al Qaeda that have been killed. We do not have names and ranks and serial numbers. We do have several Al Qaeda prisoners that have been captured and will be interrogated. And, of course, as the mopping up process continues, additional information will be gained.

We'll make this the last question. Yes?

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, on this six-month anniversary how would you sum up the situation of where you are in the war in Afghanistan, and what sort of message does this send to other terrorists and nations, such as Iraq -- the victory so far in Afghanistan?

RUMSFELD: Well, I would just say that, I think the president of the United States earlier this morning summed up the situation with respect to the war on terrorism perfectly: A great deal has been accomplished. The Taliban government is no longer running the country of Afghanistan. The people have been liberated. The Al Qaeda in that country are no longer using the country as a haven or a sanctuary for terrorists to conduct terrorist attacks against the rest of the world. We have the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan on the run. And we are assisting several other countries around the world with training, so that they, too, are able to deal more effectively with the terrorists in their own countries.

RUMSFELD: The important thing to remember is, from day one, the task was to deal with the terrorists but also to deal with the nations that harbor terrorists.

We would have accomplished very little if we were successful in Afghanistan as a coalition and then allowed the terrorists to reassemble in other countries across the globe and continue the attacks against the United States and other countries.

So we have to be continuing to put on pressure, to see that all the elements of national power are brought to bear, political, diplomatic, economic, financial, as well as military both overt and covert. That's what taking place, and countries that are part of this effort from every continent are involved and interested and doing their part.

And we're all very grateful for the coalition's support.

Thank you very much. KAGAN: We've been listening to comments from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in front of the Pentagon, on this six-month milestone. Six months after the day of the attacks on The World Trade Center, the Pentagon and also United Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The defense secretary marking the great progress that the U.S. has made in the war against terrorism. But, as you could tell by the coalition of military leaders behind the defense secretary, this is something that the U.S. has not and will not do by itself.





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