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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Secretary Rumsfeld Holds Media Availability
Aired March 28, 2004 - 09:24 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the folks in Washington, D.C. are awake. In fact, yes, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld very awake there. Let's listen in.
DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: In the early stages, it will be relatively small in the sense that its army is just now in formation. And -- but it's a good thing, and it will, I'm sure, serve them well over the years.
RUMSFELD: Well, what has happened is, they have decided to bring over a group here. And they've had -- I believe one man (ph) was going out of the building and I shook hands with about 50 of them -- 40 of them, I think. And they were on their way over to the National Defense University and were going through various classes and what have you.
But it would be the obvious things that a civilian-led government, as opposed to an Iraqi-Saddam Hussein government. A civilian-led government, how the interaction would be between the Department of Defense and the civilian leadership, and how the interaction would be between the civilian leadership of the Department of Defense in Iraq and the military officials, and which elements of security forces would or would not be a part of each ministry.
For example, the intelligence function would logically be under the Iraqi ministry of interior. The ministry of defense, conversely, would logically be the place where the Army would report through, and where the current civil defense -- Iraqi Civil Defense Corps would report to.
RUMSFELD: You know, I know there are things I don't know. And some of those things you've been asking me about, I know I don't know.
I think the idea that we can attribute an act of violence in one country to some act in another country is a bit of a stretch. I just don't know what the interaction is. I know people try to connect things like that, but I am just not in a position to validate that. QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, given the international terrorism, it seems, if anything, to be on the increase. It's certainly just rampant in the last couple of years. And given the coalition forces are being attacked and, indeed, killed almost on a daily basis in Iraq, do you look back at all and ever harbor any doubts about the way that this administration has handled the events of the last couple of years?
RUMSFELD: Well, one always is constantly looking for lessons learned and how one might do something better. I think the thrust of the question ignores the biggest single reality that exists, and that is that the United States was going about its business on September 11 in 2001 and was attacked, and 3,000 Americans were killed.
Now, people from other countries were killed. Men and women and children, people from all walks of life, people from different faiths. They were killed.
The United States had done nothing. And the thrust of your question is, oh, if you had did something different, maybe something else would have changed.
This country was attacked. It was the worst attack in the history of our nation. And you've got a choice at that point. You can say, well, maybe if we don't do anything about it, maybe they will go away. Maybe those terrible people will not do it again.
Well, what nonsense. They had already attacked the USS Cole, they had already attacked Khobar Towers. They had already attacked the United States in a terrorist head (ph) in an airliner in a Pan Am flight.
And throughout history there have been people who followed that philosophy, who said, gee, maybe if I just turn my head they won't hurt me. Maybe they'll hurt somebody else instead of me. And that's a good thing, they think.
Well, it's not a good thing. These people are going around systematically trying to kill innocent people all across the globe. And they ought not be allowed to do it. And any suggestion that, if you go after them because they are doing it, you, in fact, would be better off if you hadn't done that, is utter nonsense.
QUESTION: I wasn't suggesting, Mr. Secretary, that you have done nothing. I was asking whether you thought you should have done things differently.
RUMSFELD: And I answered it my way. And you asked it your way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
RUMSFELD: You bet.
WHITFIELD: All right. You're listening to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, answering questions in-between his morning talk shows this Sunday. On Iraq, he emphasized that a civilian-led government will be taking control after the expected handover in June. However, he did express some concern about continuing violence there. And on reflecting back prior to 9/11, he says there are lessons that were learned.
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