Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Aired December 16, 2003 - 13:28 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Got to take it to the Pentagon now. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld briefing reporters.
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Seven months ago, statues of Saddam Hussein were pulled to the ground in Baghdad, and across Iraq the Iraqi people celebrated their liberation.
Now the man who built those monuments to himself while terrorizing innocent men, women and children, has been captured; a common fugitive found hiding in a hole in the ground.
In April, the Iraqi people were liberated in fact, and this weekend they were in a sense liberated in spirit.
With his capture, many Iraqis can now dare to be convinced that the regime of Saddam Hussein is truly finished.
When the coalition liberated Iraq, we told the Iraqi people that he would not be returning, except as a prisoner to face justice. And certainly the U.S. forces have now delivered on that promise.
If you think of the images we've all seen in recent days, finding one man in a country the size of California, that ends up in a rural area, not in a major farm building at all, but in a small adobe mud- bricked building, in a hole, a covered hole, as a matter of fact, with a carpet over the cover, it suggests how hard it is when one is looking for something particular: a person or a thing.
It's a very different thing to find an army and fight it or find an air force or navy and fight it.
But the images we looked at ought to remind us all of how difficult the task is, how much persistence is required and how important it is to take scraps of seemingly disparate information from widely different locations, piece them together, work them in a timely way, and then be poised, cocked and ready to move in a matter of minutes or hours -- not days or weeks, because time-sensitive targets don't wait.
If you think about it, he buried -- I forget what it was, Pete -- 10 or 12 aircraft at one point that no one knew were there. These are jet aircraft, big jet aircraft, under the ground, in the dirt. And in the last analysis, he buried even himself in the dirt.
As we appreciate the achievement of the men and women in uniform, I think it's important not to lose sight of a fundamental fact: namely, that the global war on terror continues. The capture of Saddam Hussein is important, but the war on terror is not about one man, and it is not about one country.
As the president has said, we remember the lessons of September 11, the day when more than 3,000 innocent people were killed here at home. And we still face terrorists; terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the world, who seek to harm our people. And the war on terror will not be over until those terrorists have been defeated.
As we prepare to celebrate the holidays, I think it's a good thing to remember the U.S. and coalition forces who have given their lives for freedom. And we also ought to remember the now some 116 Iraqi security force members whose have given their lives as well. And thanks to them all, the Iraqi people face a better future.
Challenges remain, but the coalition forces will see the mission through.
Many of those are people who are serving in our armed forces are far from home during the holiday, and certainly they and their families are in our thoughts and prayers.
Let me note one other major milestone in the war on terror that took place in Afghanistan today.
During my recent visit I had a good discussion with President Karzai about the highway linking Kandahar to Kabul that had recently been completed. That highway was officially opened and dedicated today. The link between Kabul and Mazar is also nearing completion and progress is being made on other portions of the ring road.
Though that is certainly less dramatic news than the capture of Saddam Hussein, it is important. It will facilitate commerce, it will help attract foreign investment, it should improve revenues for the central government, it should improve security for the people of the country while helping to unify the country by linking the various regions to the capital.
So Afghanistan, like Iraq, is making progress on the path to self-government and self-reliance.
General Pete Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is now prepared to speak to you.
GEN. PETER PACE, VICE CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
I had the privilege of visiting our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq about two weeks ago. And as you would expect, their morale was very high; they were very focused.
When I asked them what it was I could do for them, more often than not they said, "Please tell our families how much we appreciate their love and their support and their sacrifice at home."
So thank you for giving me this opportunity to do just that for those troops.
And on behalf of all of us, to all of the families out there who are taking care of things at home while your loved ones are serving overseas, thank you, especially during this holiday season.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you spoke earlier of using scraps of disparate information. Is Saddam cooperating in any way whatsoever?
Is he providing any information that's leading you to the resistance or perhaps the billions of dollars that he's stashed away and has used to help pay for the resistance?
And the 1st I.D.'s indicated that the papers found with him were a treasure trove of such information. Could you give us anything on that?
RUMSFELD: I have seen those reports that intelligence information has been gathered up during the course of that operation. I have asked George Tenet to be responsible for the handling of the interrogation of Saddam Hussein. And he and his people will be the regulator over the interrogations, who will do it, the questions that will get posed, the management of the information that flows from those interrogations. And my instinct is to leave it there.
I noted that various people who saw him early on have been out opining about his condition and his circumstance.
In direct answer to your question, I think that characterizing his general relationship with his captors would probably be -- the best word would be -- resigned, I think, rather than what you used.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is there any evidence that Saddam Hussein was in any way involved in the current insurgency or attacks against U.S. troops? And if that is the case, would that in any way change his prisoner-of-war status as far as the United States is concerned? Would the U.S. seek some sort of legal remedy against Saddam Hussein?
RUMSFELD: I think that there are a whole host of people and countries that have reason to feel they have some standing, to use the legal word, with respect to Saddam Hussein and how he might or might not be prosecuted for various things.
He is being accorded the protection of a POW, but he's not being legally described as one at this stage. He clearly is being treated under the Geneva Convention, with the protections of the Geneva Convention and is being treated humanely.
The lawyers are carefully looking at the question you posed. And it is conceivable that, to the extent he was involved in the post- major combat operation terrorist activity that's taken place in the country, that that could in one way or another affect charges that could be brought against him. But it's not for me to get into that. As the president said yesterday, there are a lot of people with interest in this. It will be handled well. And the people who are the proper legal authorities are addressing a whole host of questions, many of which are being asked and discussed in the press, and many of which are haven't even thought of yet.
QUESTION: General Hertling with the 1st Armored Division said that the documents captured with Hussein show that he was giving guidance to some of the key figures in the insurgency. Would you agree with that?
RUMSFELD: I've not seen the documents. I would have no reason to disagree with an individual who has seen information. But I don't intend to get into the business of confirming or denying what any colonel or general or person who is involved in one way or the other -- all I will suggest is that, as we go forward from here, you'll find that the flow of information and the management of it will be, for the most part, handled by the Central Intelligence Agency (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
QUESTION: You haven't been briefed on those particular documents found with Hussein?
QUESTION: I have a question for both you and General Pace. Could you give us a general outline of how the raids, since the capture of Saddam Hussein, have gone?
How successful have those been? Could you give us an update on what has been taking place?
PACE: We've been maintaining the normal tempo of daily patrols in the order of about 1,000 patrols a day countrywide, 24 hours a day.
There was a period of time that Central Command determined that it was best to not do specific types of raids, to give those who were potentially close to Saddam an opportunity to digest the information that was available to them now that he's been captured and perhaps turn themselves in.
And we have been using the information as has been provided to us from the intelligence that's been gathered to assist us in focusing our next operations.
QUESTION: And how successful have the raids been? Can you say who might be in custody at this point as a result of these raids?
PACE: I cannot say that.
QUESTION: Or how high level they might be? You say that Saddam Hussein is being afforded, I believe, the protections of the Geneva Convention as a POW, although...
(CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... although not officially classified as one. Can you help me understand, then, how you square several issues: showing his picture to the world, taking him before other Iraqis, whether he is compelled to answer questions or has the right to simply give his name and position and whether you plan to provide him with counsel?
RUMSFELD: The latter is a matter for lawyers to think about. And certainly to the extent there ultimately is some sort of a tribunal, the lawyers would, I would assume, follow normal practice.
With respect to the first part of your question, he has been handled in a professional way, and he has not been held up as a public curiosity in any demeaning way by reasonable definitions of the Geneva Convention.
On the other hand, he is an individual who is representative of a regime that has been replaced, and it's terribly important that he be seen by the public for what he is: a captive, without question.
And if lives can be saved by physical proof that that man is off the street, out of commission, never to return, then we opt for saving lives. And in no way can that be considered even up on the edge of the Geneva Convention protections.
The identification process involved some people in his cabinet and some people in the governing council. It is not a matter of parading various people before him for the sake of curiosity. It was a matter of during that early period -- prior to the time we had DNA proof -- knowing that his doubles had used plastic surgery and could very well have done duplicate tattoos and bullet holes and various things that would -- moles -- that would make it appear they were Saddam Hussein, the decision was made to have him publicly identified.
Since, we have received DNA -- I guess you'd call it proof -- I think it's probably 99- point something percent proof positive is what they say.
QUESTION: Was some of this that you just described a decision process that was brought before you and that you made? Or was this made out in-theater?
RUMSFELD: It was a combination. I was involved on the phone with General Abizaid from the period they believed they had someone who might be Saddam Hussein. And we discussed various things, such as making sure he had a physical exam and making sure that he was in safe custody and not harmed and making sure he didn't have an opportunity to kill himself and those types of things.
I was not involved in the decision to take various people to identify him.
But to me, certainly having some of his former cabinet to that, is a perfectly reasonable thing.
QUESTION: Why don't you designate him as a prisoner of war? What flexibility does it give you? And General Pace, can you tell us how long that pause was on operations, and if anyone did, in fact, turn themselves in?
RUMSFELD: I decided that this is a matter of sufficient import that it is only fair that the president and people he would like to designate have a voice in how these decisions are made. And I'm not a lawyer; this is not a legal department. It's a Defense Department. And it's something that will be decided by probably an interagency committee so that it is felt to be the right decision and a decision that we are comfortable with as a government.
PACE: Thank you.
If I used the word, "pause", that would be a poor choice of words, because what was happening is that the ongoing patrols and normal operations continued throughout the country. What we wanted to do was take the data that had initially from the capture, digest that as best we could, put it into the mix of other intelligence we had, see if while we were doing that, others in his close circle might understand that, in fact, this is it for Saddam Hussein and see if they would take the opportunity to come forward and give themselves up. That opportunity is still available to them at any time, to come forward and give themselves up.
QUESTION: Did anybody do it?
PACE: To my knowledge, not yet.
QUESTION: Both Germany and France today said that they would be in favor of relieving some of Iraq's debt. They told this to Secretary Baker. Given that, as a former businessman, might it be prudent now to revisit the Pentagon's decision of December 4 to exclude France, Germany, et cetera from the list of prime contract candidates for the reconstruction...
RUMSFELD: First of all, that was not a Pentagon decision. That was a decision that was fully agreed upon throughout all the relevant agencies of the United States government. And any suggestion to the contrary would be in error.
Second, the decision was not to deny anyone contracts.
The decision was to preserve, for those people who made the Iraqi people's liberation possible, the access to prime contracts, prime as opposed to subcontracts. And that's an important distinction. No one got up in the morning and said, "Gee, who could we deny a contract?" The implication of that has got everything backwards.
What they decided was that here are people who took political courage, who took physical courage -- 63 countries -- and assisted in this coalition. And isn't it a reasonable thing that they ought to have an opportunity to bid and participate in that process?
The other thing we were very interested in, also, is that it be companies and countries that will hire Iraqis. We think it's terribly important that the contracts that are let, to some degree will put to work the Iraqi people so that the efforts all of us are making to have a success in that country will be more likely.
Furthermore, we're not talking about the dollars that come from Iraqi oil, we're not talking about the dollars that come from international contributions, we're not talking about the dollars that come from the U.N. oil-for-food process. We are talking about the dollars that the taxpayers of the United States of America will be contributing to the economic future and success of that country.
And we've always had a policy of deciding how our tax dollars would be spent, just like every other country decides how they're going to spend their money when they spend it.
QUESTION: But given that part of Iraq's future hinges on their debt being relieved and these two nations making that kind of gesture, would you think it's a decent idea now, to revisit?
RUMSFELD: Those are all issues for the interagency process and the president. Former Secretary Baker is doing a good job. I talked to him yesterday. He's out working out an arrangement, we hope, that will relieve the debt burden on the Iraqi people, and that's a good thing.
QUESTION: You have a voice, though...
RUMSFELD: I do, and I give my advice to the president.
QUESTION: What have you learned about Saddam Hussein's life on the run these past eight months? How long was he in this particular farmhouse, whether he changed often, whether that theory proved true, that he was probably moving around all of the time? Do you have anything definitive on that?
RUMSFELD: Definitive, no. We have information over a period that started at the beginning of the war, indeed before the beginning of the war, I believe, that he was moving frequently, that he had a variety of locations where he was able to go and sometimes would spend relatively short periods -- four, five, six hours -- and then move again, but sometimes he would be staying in motion in vehicles. Sometimes those vehicles were taxicabs. And sometimes he spent, again, three or four hours in a taxicab that was not a taxicab; it didn't have the meter running.
QUESTION: ... whereabouts of the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Do you have any reason to believe that his capture will be crucial in finding them?
RUMSFELD: You know, that's like asking if we were close to catching Saddam Hussein. Close doesn't count in this business. You either find him or you don't.
I think the important thing to do is to go back and in your mind's eye picture the hole he was in -- that hole was, what, 6.5 feet by 8 feet or 10 feet, in the dirt. And think of the quantity of biological weapons that could fit in that hole alone, could kill tens of thousands of human beings. So the difficulty of finding him is the same difficulty of finding anyone else or another thing, like weapons.
Now, how did we find him? We found him through scraps of information over a period of time and persistence in being well organized and well trained and ready to move fast. And they did a great job.
My guess is that, if you think about it, we're not going to find weapons of mass destruction by chugging around. I started getting asked this question before they ever got to Baghdad, if you'll remember. We were about halfway between Kuwait and Baghdad, and they said, "Have you found them yet?"
And the reality is you're not going to find them, you're not going to discover them, you're not going to kick over a rock and find them. We didn't find the jet airplanes, until the wind blew the sand off, that were buried under the ground.
Someone's finally going to come and say something. I don't know if it'll be this year or next year or what.
RUMSFELD: The implication of that is: Do we think he's suddenly going to decide to be cooperative?
QUESTION: Does he know?
RUMSFELD: Does he know? Well, indeed, he must.
QUESTION: You were saying that showing the pictures of Saddam Hussein definitely didn't violate the Geneva Convention. That seems to me to be a real contrast with what happened in Afghanistan when news photographers were not allowed to shoot photos at all of detainees. Why is that not a contrast?
RUMSFELD: We don't have, as a practice, photos now of detainees. What we have here is what I said earlier. You have a very unusual situation. You have a person who was one of the most brutal dictators in the adult lifetime of anyone in this room, who tortured people, who killed people -- hundreds of thousands of people he killed -- and intimidated the entire nation and the neighbors.
And it is enormously important that people see that he is out of commission, that he is what he is. He was a fugitive living in a dirt hole, surrendering and controlling that country no more forever.
QUESTION: That's not a violation? Do we now photograph detainees when we have the opportunity?
RUMSFELD: No, no. I mean a common detainee -- why would one want to do that?
QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) interest in the conditions in which they're kept?
RUMSFELD: Come on, now. The International Committee of the Red Cross is crawling around down there, people from all of those countries. There's no issue about how those people are being treated. They're being treated very, very well by fine young men and women who went to the high schools that you went to. And any implication to the contrary would be false.
QUESTION: Sir, when U.S. forces surrounded and moved in on Saddam's two sons, they did the knock on the door and they refused to surrender, and they eventually were killed...
RUMSFELD: They made a big mistake.
QUESTION: ... you all told us that the decision is made by the commanders on the scene whether or not to use the force that could result in someone's death.
In the case of Saddam Hussein, we all know that things on the battlefield can change, that the best plans go out the window as soon as the shooting starts. But was there a special plan -- no, you're shaking your head, no.
RUMSFELD: Did we tell them they couldn't kill him?
QUESTION: No, no, no, no. I was going to say, was there a special plan for Saddam Hussein, as opposed to other potential high- target values? And second...
RUMSFELD: On that issue, no. In other words, no one was told, "Don't kill him," no one was told, "Kill him." They had rules of engagement. They were supposed to try to capture. They did try to capture. And in this case, it succeeded. In the case of Uday and Qusay, it didn't.
QUESTION: So the local commanders on the scene had the authority as they did in other cases?
RUMSFELD: I think the word "commander" is a little high. I mean, the local people who went into the hole had that authority, right?
PACE: I would tell you that PFC Pace -- is not his right name, not his real name -- who opened that hatch and looked down in there, had the exact same authority for that hole as he had for any other hole he looked in, which was to try to capture whatever was in there, if threatened or if someone fights back, to take the action necessary to protect yourself and those around you. So there was no difference.
RUMSFELD: Now, with respect to the other part of the question, of course, we had plans. We had a piece of paper that had been discussed and had been circulated to the appropriate people, as a tick list, to think about these things in the event Saddam Hussein is captured or killed. And that went out weeks ago. And it took a little long for it to come into use.
QUESTION: Did you have that list in your office, as well? I mean...
QUESTION: ... you, yourself, were involved in helping that list be compiled?
QUESTION: What was on that list?
RUMSFELD: It's a private list. It's not a public list.
QUESTION: General Pace, a few days ago, a three-star Marine Corps general at Camp Pendleton and said that when the 1st MEF re- deploys next spring, they will not use the same tactics that the Army is now using in its search-and-destroy missions, particularly in the Sunni triangle.
Is that a criticism of the Army, or is it just a change or a difference in the way that wars are fought between the Army and the Marine Corps?
PACE: No. In fact, I've talked to that Marine general. And he went out of his way when he was talking to try not to have any kind of comparisons.
What he was trying to say to the people he was talking to is that as they prepare, as he prepares his Marines to go back to Iraq, as they have done their leaders' reconnaissance into the theater and they've looked at the territory, they've looked at the people, that they are coming up with a scheme of maneuver and a way of operating that they believe is going to be most effective.
And things change on the battlefield. The same unit that was there to help win the war, to help capture Baghdad, has now come home. That unit designation, some of the same individuals are going to go back.
They are operating differently now in this new -- well, they will operate differently now than they did last time.
So it has nothing to do with Army, Marine, Navy, Air Force and everything to do with the circumstance on the ground today and what tactics, techniques and procedures are best suited to the environment today.
RUMSFELD: And it will vary from section to section in the country. And General Abizaid believes that the forces going in, knowing now what the current situation is in various locations, that he'll be better able to match the tactics and techniques and procedures and equipment and circumstance to the force coming in better than the force that's there.
QUESTION: May I ask you to give us a time line of -- the White House said you first informed the president at 3:15 Eastern time of the possibility. Did you make a follow-up call to him? And when, roughly, was that made, when you really pretty well knew it was Saddam Hussein that you had in custody?
RUMSFELD: Oh goodness, I really don't do tick-tock very well. I don't remember the time and I don't keep notes on things like that. But it was clearly in the afternoon and before three, sometime between noon and three, that I first was told that we have an individual who might be Saddam Hussein.
I talked to the president. We had a good discussion. I called him back later in the afternoon and talked to him again. I talked to him again the next day. I've talked to him several times over that period, just kind of updating him.
But what time or who struck John, I don't...
QUESTION: I'm asking for a purpose, sir. When you were at the afternoon soiree of General Myers and you asked for a secure phone, was that to call the president back to tell him that you pretty well knew it was Saddam?
And how did you keep the secret from all of us?
RUMSFELD: Very skillfully. I mean...
First of all, I am a very cautious, careful, conservative individual. And I was struck, not by his tattoos and not by his bullet hole in his leg and not by the fact that people who were picking him up, scooping him up thought it was the right guy, I was kind of impressed by the money they found there; $750,000, not bad.
But I was not satisfied until after people like Tariq Aziz and others had physically seen him and indicated that they were convinced. There were a number of them who did indicate that, and that did not happen for hours later. It was well after the people I was with that afternoon and evening.
But it's true, I did go into Myers' house and use the secure phone for about 40 minutes. And I talked to a number of people, and one of the people may very well have been the president, but it was two or three other people, General Abizaid and others.
QUESTION: Can I ask you to put the last several days into perspective? All the raids and arrests and captures: To what extent are these helping you crack the resistance and move toward stabilizing Iraq?
RUMSFELD: Time will tell. You know, you start looking at bad things or good things. And if you make a straight-line projection on the good things, it looks like that; and the bad things, it looks like that.
Life tends not to be that way. It's not filled with straight- line projections. There seem to be ups and downs, and you have to look at a trend line over time. So it's too soon for me to tell.
I've got to believe that you could get mixed reaction to something like this. You could get some folks that would race around striving to show that they still are anti-liberation and they want to restore the Baathists. And they might do some more efforts to kill people.
On the other hand, taking that individual who was such a symbol of repression and fear and intimidation and butchery, and making it so clear to the Iraqi people that he is finished, has to free up people and make them think.
People don't go from this end of the spectrum to that end of the spectrum. But if there are people all across that spectrum, it has to move them, it has to move them over. And the strongest supporter of Saddam Hussein, looking at those images, has to say, "Gee, I don't think today I'm quite as strong a supporter as I was yesterday."
And someone who was right on the line is going to be moved over toward the coalition. And someone who was pro-coalition is going to feel better about doing that. And how do you measure that? I'm not smart enough to do that.
QUESTION: These people that have been picked up since him, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) number of people -- their significance?
RUMSFELD: Time will tell. We never know. There are people we've picked up who weren't worth anything for a year, a year and a half. And eventually, out it comes.
Other people, within a matter of hours, can be helpful. Sometimes it's because they have decided to make a wise decision and be helpful; sometimes it's pocket litter or something else that they have.
But the other thing about it is, sometimes you have to take those pieces of information or intelligence or a data point, and you have it instantaneously, but it doesn't mean anything for 24, 48, 72 hours, or three months. And then something connects to it.
It is a very tough business. And we've got some really wonderful people out there working in clearly difficult circumstance, a hostile environment in many regards, in many respects, and they're doing a good job. They're piecing it together and working the problems in a serious and professional way. And God bless them for doing it.
QUESTION: One of the administration's stated goals has been to change the dynamics in the Middle East. Do you think that a trial in which presumably the brutalization of fellow Muslims and Arabs by Saddam will start to maybe cause people around the region to rethink their posture on the war and U.S. policy in general? RUMSFELD: You know, we're all kind of captives of what we know and what we see and what we hear. And then we take it and we synthesize it. And then we begin to behave off of it.
And I see what the people in that region are seeing. And so much of it is untrue, so much of it is biased, so much of it is viciously biased and parades around as the truth.
And it comes as no great surprise to me that people in that region, who have a daily intake of lies -- in the press, in the television, rumors -- terrible things said, the totally untrue things that are said, and it's a steady drum beat, and how that gets changed I don't know. I'm not talking about the American press or the coalition press; I'm talking about what's taking place out there.
Do I think ultimately truth wins out? You bet. I mean, our whole system's based on that, that we can take untruths and over time the truth is heard and it begins to register and people begin to behave off it and people who tell untruths ultimately are punished.
They're punished if they're in the journalism business because people don't read them anymore, they don't tune in, they turn it off or they reject it if they see it. They're punished if they're in government by being defeated or deposed.
So do I think over time that it will have a good effect? Sure I do, because I think people ultimately have a pretty good center of gravity and can figure things out.
QUESTION: How close are you to signing off on the '05 budget? And how would you say these early, sort of, workings that are going on in '06 are going?
RUMSFELD: What's going on at '06? What's that mean?
QUESTION: The strategic planning guidance that was issued.
RUMSFELD: The strategic planning guidance. Why'd you call it '06? I just am not familiar with that term.
QUESTION: The FY '06 budget.
RUMSFELD: Oh, FY '06 budget. OK. I'm thinking about other things. I'm sorry. I thought that was...
RUMSFELD: The answer is: We're close. We have to be.
You have to get it over to OMB sometime, I think, later this month, yes. So it's close.
QUESTION: Do you have any idea when we should expect...
RUMSFELD: I didn't set a deadline. I said we're close.
RUMSFELD: You said, "How close are you," and I said, "Close."
QUESTION: Well you said by the end of the month.
RUMSFELD: I said it's supposed to be over there by the end of the month.
Isn't that what I said? I mean, you know, tell me if I'm wrong. I tend to remember what I say. Pardon me?
(UNKNOWN): Just our submission and then OMB goes to work.
RUMSFELD: Yes, then OMB starts, you know, doing what they do. And then the president has a voice in the whole thing.
QUESTION: Can you tell us what the outlying issues are in the 'O5 budget that still need to be ironed out?
QUESTION: And those are?
RUMSFELD: ... but I won't.
I don't want to. No.
QUESTION: General Pace, you mentioned that over the past couple of days you've eased up to give people an opportunity to absorb this and maybe give themselves up. Are there specific people who you're either in contact with or who you are hoping will give themselves up? Is al-Douri one of them? Are they tribal leaders?
PACE: No one specific, by name. If al-Douri wants to give himself up, he's more than welcome. We'll make sure he gets treated properly and humanely. It'd be a good thing for him to do.
But what we wanted to make sure we had a chance to do was to absorb the new intelligence we had from the raid and to let the folks who were, just as quickly as we were, finding out that Saddam was captive, to absorb that data and, hopefully, to understand that, in fact, Saddam's finished.
And those who might still have some loyalties to him ought to reconsider who they are, what they're doing and for the good of themselves and the Iraqi people, turn themselves in and become part of the future of Iraq instead of part of the past.
QUESTION: I'm just wondering, can you imagine any incentive that Saddam Hussein would have for cooperating, for revealing information? Is there any way he could hope for some sort of leniency or better privileges in the way he's kept? RUMSFELD: You know, I can imagine almost anything. Here's a fellow who's survived. He's killed any number of people. Hundreds of thousands of people have died at his hand or instruction.
He didn't die. He had a pistol, but he's alive. That's got to tell you something about him. He's clearly not like the folks who he gave $25,000 to, to go do suicide bombing and kill themselves and be done.
What does that mean? I have no idea.
Does he have any interest in his family? Would he have some interest there? I don't know.
He obviously doesn't care anything about his country or the Iraqi people.
What might motivate a person like that is a difficult -- I'm not a psychiatrist as I'm sure you've all noticed -- but I have no idea what might affect him. And I wouldn't rule anything in or rule anything out.
Now that is the very last -- no, no.
QUESTION: That's a lot of pressure.
I just wanted to ask you to elaborate on your decision to ask the CIA to take over the questioning.
RUMSFELD: It was a three-minute decision, and the first two were for coffee.
They are the people who have competence in that area. They have professionals in that area. They know the needs we have in terms of counterterrorism. They know the threads that have to come up through the needle head.
And to the extent that this individual can offer anything that even conceivably by accident would be helpful, we need to have people doing that.
Now, they may very well use -- our people will be the ones that will have custody over him. Our people may very well be the interrogators. But the decisions over that, the judgment, is what I've asked George Tenet's people to do, and that's what he will do.
QUESTION: Does the CIA control of that versus Pentagon control change anything in the tactics or things that we can do in the hopes of getting information?
RUMSFELD: No, we're linked at the hips there. It's just that they have -- I just made the decision that I think that's more in their field than mine. And as a result I've asked George to do it, and he's agreed.
QUESTION: Have Iraqis been involved in the interrogations to date or will they...
RUMSFELD: I'm not going to get into how they're doing it or who's doing what.
QUESTION: If you had a chance to ask him a question, what would you ask him?
RUMSFELD: Come on.
Happy holidays, everyone.
COLLINS: That's a way to get of that, not answering that question. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, General Peter Pace, of course, briefing reporters since the capture of Saddam Hussein, talking about more than 500 pages of documents found on Saddam Hussein, proving helpful, they said, helping to lead to a number of arrests. Also, Saddam Hussein continuing to be cooperative (ph) during the interrogation process. Also making the point that he wanted to say to Americans that everyone should appreciate the achievement of the soldiers and what they did, but still the global war on terrorism is not about one man or one country. That continues, and so does the fight to bring down terrorism across the country.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com