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Rumsfeld Speech to Newspaper Editors

Aired April 22, 2004 - 13:05   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Now to Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense, addressing newspaper editors in Washington, D.C. He's taking Q&A. Let's listen in.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: ... if folks have questions, they might want to stand up and go nearer one of those with a microphone so we can get more questions in.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I'm Jay Ford Huffman (ph) from "USA Today." and I'm wondering if you have given consideration to an associate -- a press report back in March, that indicated that during the last year, the number of gay troops that have been discharged has been reduced since the level before the war in Iraq. If you have looked at that report, do you have a sense that you and the Pentagon might be looking at the "don't ask, don't tell policy," and that there might be changes?

RUMSFELD: I don't know that I've seen the report you're referring to, but at the present time, the department is not reviewing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Question. Yes.

QUESTION: Lou Urennig (ph) from Boston University. Some experts have said that...

RUMSFELD: I thought this was for editors and publishers?

QUESTION: Formally of "The Philadelphia Inquirer." I teach journalism at Boston University.

RUMSFELD: Well, that's close. What do you think, folks? You want to let him have it? All right. What is it, professor?

QUESTION: Hopefully, the students are listening. Some people say that the current insurrection in Iraq is traceable to the closure of a newspaper a couple weeks ago by Mr. Bremer. I'd like to get your thinking and reasoning about that event, and what it may have contributed to the events of the last week-and-a-half or so.

RUMSFELD: I love the beginning of that question: "some people think." There is nothing that some people don't think.

(LAUGHTER) RUMSFELD: The idea that the conflict and the flare-ups and the shootings and the killings that are taking place in Iraq today are a result of the closing of that paper I think is, A, a stretch, and, B, undoubtedly not provable; and I would submit not only not provable, but not accurate.

The paper was closed for 60 days I'm told. It still is under way. The coalition determined that it was inciting Iraqi citizens to violence by deliberately reporting false stories, which is a violation of the law that prohibits inciting civil disorder in Iraq at the present time.

More than 100 papers have sprung up in Iraq. Most are covering events in a very responsible way. Now let's get a real editor or publisher here...


RUMSFELD: I hope you're students are not watching.

QUESTION: I once taught at Ohio State, but I'm a working -- but I'm a retired, working newspaper man. I'll try to start my question a little better. You have done an admirable job at changing our Army to fit present day needs and circumstances. My question, how are you satisfied, or not satisfied, with the progress in current war on terrorism and the needs to come?

RUMSFELD: Well, the Army is making significant progress. There's no question about it. It, over a period of years, has been attempting to look forward and transform itself and move from an Army that was basically oriented towards static defense in the Cold War period, to one that is more agile, and quicker on its feet, lighter, and more readily deployable.

In terms of being satisfied, I guess I'm almost genetically impatient. I always like things to go faster. And we've got a terrific team of people working on these problems. They're moving mountains, literally. They're doing so many different things at once.

Some people say, how can you transform the services while you're simultaneously engaged in a global war on terror, and battles in several countries? And in my view it actually provides an impetus to the kind of transformation that's necessary, because more people can see faster the urgent need for us ,to in fact, fix that enormous system we've got, and make sure it's oriented to the threats of the 21st Century, instead of the 20th Century.

I look out at the kinds of capabilities we're facing, and they're substantial. If you think about it, our Department of Defense was organized, trained, and equipped to fight big armies, big navies, and big air forces, and that's not what we're doing. We are required to deal with terrorist networks. We're required to try to cope with these large, ungoverned areas that increasingly exist in the world today.

We are doing it where the great advantage goes to the attacker. A terrorist can attack anywhere, at any moment, using any technique. And there isn't any way in the world it is possible for anybody, or any collection of countries, to defend everywhere at every moment using every technique. That means the only choice you have is to go after them where they are.

And that is a tough, tough job. And it requires so much beyond the Department of Defense. It requires all elements of national power. And it requires that we deal with a terrorist threat that can take all of our technologies, whatever it is, computers, laptops, e- mails, wire transfers, anything that modern technology has afforded us, they can take and use against us without a single dollar expended.

They didn't have to develop those things. The Western world has developed many of those things. So it's a tough set of problems. We are, all in the department, recognizing that we've got to get up every morning and know that our job is not to try to connect the dots after there's a terrible disaster. Our job is to try to connect the dots before there's another terrible disaster -- or disasters, plural. And we can be absolutely certain that there's folks out there planning them as we meet here today.


PHILLIPS: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld there in Washington, D.C., a little Q&A going on with newspaper editors. The president of the United States did this yesterday. He's talking of course about the war on terror. We'll continue to monitor what he has to say.


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