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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Defense Funding

Aired February 13, 2003 - 10:25   ET

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

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to go to Washington. Right now, these hearings that we've been watching on Capitol Hill amongst a number of committees, like the Senate Intelligence Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee -- I believe this is the Armed Services Committee right now. That is Senator John Warner of Virginia. They've been quizzing administration officials on budget matters, but they've also been bringing up issues about making the case for war in Iraq, as well as facing and naming all of the threats the U.S. is dealing with.
Right now, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is being questioned.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Mr. Chairman, let me take a few moments to try to respond to that.

The government has spent a good deal of time over many months thinking these various elements through. The answer to your question depends to some extent on what takes place. As your question suggested, no decision has been made to use force. But in the event force were used, it could happen in several ways.

For example, Saddam Hussein could leave today and the question would be: How does the United States then act to see that the principal goals of the United States are achieved? Namely, that the weapons of mass destruction are found and destroyed and he is disarmed; that whatever government takes over is a government that does not develop weapons of mass destruction; the government does not help terrorists; the government does not threaten its neighbors; and the government is one that puts the country on a path towards appropriate representation and protection for the various religious and minority elements in the country. Those are the principal goals.

So one way it could happen, he could leave. Another way, he could leave and turn it over to somebody else who is equally unacceptable. Another way would be that someone could help him leave and take over control. A third is that force would have to be used.

And depending on what happened and what the circumstance in the country was, would determine how long and what role the military would have to play. Clearly, the goal would be to go in and see that what resulted was better than what was there beforehand.

That means that the United States simply has to be willing to stay there as long as is necessary to see that that is done, but not one day longer. We have no interest in other people's land or territory. We have no interest in other people's oil, as some articles seem to suggest. So exactly how long it would be and what it would look like would vary.

The principles that would pertain insofar as the Department of Defense is concerned:

First, we would have military capability in there sufficient to find and destroy the weapons of mass destruction and to find and deal with any terrorist networks that exist in the country, which we know is the case.

It would be my goal to internationalize it as rapidly as possible. That is to say, to have other countries participating. Very likely the participation would be in the humanitarian area and the civil area and the reconstruction area earliest, as opposed to the finding of the weapons of mass destruction, for example. There just are not a lot of countries that really would be involved in that, that I can think of, although we would welcome help from a number that have already offered assistance.

The next task would be to put the country on a transition so that outsiders are not running it. And that means you would have to find a way to see that the Iraqi opposition from the outside, the Iraqis from the inside who have not been a party to the repressiveness of this regime and the weapons of mass destruction programs of this regime, would as in a different way, an Iraqi solution, just as Afghanistan had an Afghanistan solution with a loya jirgah.

The goal would be to get them on a path so that increasingly more and more was handled and managed by the Iraqi people themselves and that less and less was managed by the international community.

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: I think your response reflects that we have given a good deal of consideration, that we have clear plans in place and are ready to proceed.

Quickly to a second question. That involves the very disturbing news with regard to the NATO thus far being able to reconcile differences among member nations as to NATO's ability to provide such security as the government of Turkey feels is essential, given the fluidity of this situation.

And I commend you for stepping up to say if NATO doesn't, the U.S. will. That's proper.

But does not this action thus far violate the time-tested fundamental belief of NATO of over a half century, an attack on one is an attack on all?

And could not a persisting of this type of policy by member nations begin to erode NATO so it becomes a less effective organization?

And lastly, the United States is the major financial contributor to NATO, the major troop contributor, the major technical, particularly with AWACS, and now the American taxpayers will be required to foot an additional bill of the costs associated with your proper decision to place such forces in the position of Turkey to protect their interests. So we're getting hit whammy, twice, as a consequence of the inability of NATO to reconcile this issue.

Do you have some views?

RUMSFELD: Well, I do. And I expressed them in Munich at the security conference that took place there. And I might add that a member of this committee, Senator McCain, also expressed the views over there that were very much on the mark, in my view.

The situation is that the vote was 16-3 in favor of initiating planning to send defensive capabilities to Turkey so that they would be protected. You can't do anything at the last minute in life, you have to plan it, you have to get things moving, things moved by ship. And the position of the three countries that it was premature to plan, it seems to me, was unfortunate.

And we did say that the United States and the other 16 countries would step forward and see that Turkey in fact had in one case AWACS, in another chem-bio detection, and the third was Patriot batteries. And it would not be simply the United States that would provide that. We decided immediately that Turkey must have those capabilities and we must begin the planning.

My feeling is that it's unfortunate that the three countries have delayed us this long, and there's no question, as you suggest, but to the extent we do not interest ourselves in every one of the 19 members, but I mean, goodness, Turkey is a moderate Muslim country, the only county in NATO that borders Iraq. And to not behave in a way that recognized that and allowed for that planning, I think was most unfortunate.

WARNER: I thank the secretary.

Mr. Levin?

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

RUMSFELD: Senator, General Myers has some news that I didn't have time to read, and I'll let him comment on it.

MYERS: While we're speaking, I think, NATO is also looking at ways to deploy the help that Turkey needs, at least part of it, AWACS and the missile defense assets, in a way that would not require political approval. They think they may have that legal authority without going through the political process. They're looking at that. There may be an announcement here at about 11:00 our time.

WARNER: I see. Well, that's reassuring. Thank you very much, General.

LEVIN: Thank you.

Mr. Secretary, the administration in its nuclear posture review has called for improving our nuclear weapons capability. The administration's requested funds in '03 and '04 to study a so-called nuclear earth penetrator weapon, for instance.

If the United States sends signals that we're considering new uses for nuclear weapons, isn't it more likely that other nations will also want to explore greater use or new uses for nuclear weapons and that other nations won't listen to our pleas to stay non-nuclear or to stay in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but rather would say, "Well, you're even relying more, you're looking at new ways to use nuclear weapons, why shouldn't we?"

RUMSFELD: Senator, I think that the first thing we have to say is that the task of the Department of Defense, indeed the first responsibility of a president of the United States is to provide for the security of the country. And the Department of Defense assists the president in developing contingency plans and studying a variety of things on a continuing basis. And to not do so, it seems to me, is to misserve the country.

The world is experiencing an enormous amount of underground tunneling and activities; activities underground that are for production, that are for manufacturing, that are for development, for storage. And the problem of not having visibility into them, and when one has visibility, not having the ability to penetrate and reach them, creates a very serious obstacle to U.S. national security.

And to the extent we say to ourselves, "Well, that's going to be the ultimate solution, we're unwilling to even study the idea of penetrating capability," and therefore we make it advantageous for people to engage in that type of tunneling, I think that ti would create an incentive, rather than a disincentive.

LEVIN: Mr. Secretary, Title 10 (ph) requires the Department of Defense's director of operational test and evaluation, which is our independent test authority at the Pentagon, to certify that appropriate operational testing has been completed prior to putting weapon systems into production, and that law exists to prevent the production and fielding of a weapon system that doesn't work right.

Your budget request seeks a waiver of the operational testing requirements to enable you to implement your plans to deploy a national missile defense system in 2004.

How do you justify bypassing operational testing requirements?

RUMSFELD: Well, I guess I would justify it very easily, in this sense. If you think about it, it is a perfectly rational thing to have a testing requirement. And so if you take the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, for example, and it is moving along the track, and it's not been fully tested and it's not ready for deployment, and you're in a conflict, and you start using it because you're in a conflict and you find it's advantageous to use it, and in the process of using it you find things that could be changed and improved on it.

Now, it has never been fully completed through the process with the stamp of approval of the testing organization. The same thing happened during Desert Storm, as I recall, or Kosovo, with JSTARS.

MYERS: Joint STARS.

RUMSFELD: Joint STARS. The exact same thing. So, on the one hand it makes sense to have the requirement. On the other hand it makes sense to waive it when reasonable people look at the situation and say that it's time to do that.

Now, why do it with respect to missile defense? Well, I happen to think that thinking we cannot deploy something until you have everything perfect, every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed, is probably not a good idea.

In the case of missile defense I think we need to get something out there, in the ground, at sea, and in a way that we can test it, we can look at it, we can develop it, we can evolve it and find out -- learn from the experimentation with it.

It happens that it also provides a minimal missile defense capability.

LEVIN: If it works.

RUMSFELD: I beg your pardon?

LEVIN: If it works.

RUMSFELD: If it works, of course. And the same thing with Predator. I mean, Predator -- things tend not to work or not work. They tend to work either as well as you hoped or somewhat less well than you hoped.

And in the case of Predator it didn't work or not work, it did an awful lot that was very valuable in Afghanistan and it's still doing it today.

But it didn't do a lot of things that it might have done because people didn't ever have that experience of using it. And the same thing'll be true with missile defense.

LEVIN: Thank you.

General Myers, we have a copy of a draft legislative proposal that has been circulating inside the Department of Defense, and under this legislation, if it were passed, the Joint Staff would report to the secretary instead of to the chairman, and the secretary would have to approve all appointments to the Joint Staff.

The draft amendment would strike the statutory requirement that the Joint Staff be, quote, "Independently organized and operated," close quote.

And then we also have the memorandum signed by David Chu requesting a legislative proposal be drafted that would reduce the term served by the service chiefs from four years to two-year renewable terms.

It seems to me that these proposals taken together or separately would lessen the ability of the uniformed military to provide the independent military advice for the civilian leadership and the executive branch and the Congress. That's my view, but what is your view of these proposals?

MYERS: Senator Levin, I'm a little bit at a disadvantage because I haven't seen the drafts yet, and I don't know if we will because the secretary and I have talked in general about how better to arrange ourselves, if there are ways to make ourselves more efficient end effective.

But so far, as far as I know, we've just had some preliminary discussions, we've talked about maybe having somebody look at this from the outside that might be able to provide some help in that case.

LEVIN: Would you be supporting these proposals?

MYERS: Well, I'd have to look at them, Senator Levin, I have not seen the draft proposals. I think the way that we are arranged today is fundamentally sound. So I'd have to look and see how they want to change that.

LEVIN: Thank you.

My time is up. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

WARNER: Thank you very much.

Senator Inhofe?

WARNER: Mr. Secretary, do you have a comment on that important question?

RUMSFELD: Well, I haven't seen the draft, either, and therefore I don't know really how I could comment because I'm not familiar with it. General Myers and I...

HARRIS: At this point, we're going to step away from this presentation on these questions -- this Q&A session here now. But Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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