24 February 2002
Transcript: Rumsfeld Calls for Stiffer Weapons Inspections in Iraq
(Inspections must be "intrusive," says Rumsfeld on "Face the Nation")
Previous weapons inspections inside Iraq were often ineffective and
relied upon defectors, said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Any
new inspections program, he added, must be much stronger and more
intrusive to end Saddam Hussein's efforts to build weapons of mass
Speaking on CBS-TV program "Face the Nation" February 24, Rumsfeld
said, "The Iraqis have had more time to go underground. They've had
lots of dual-use technologies that have come in. They've had lots of
illicit things that have come in. They have advanced their weapons of
mass destruction programs."
As a result, Rumsfeld pointed out, "If you try to use the old regime,
it wouldn't work. You would have to have a much more intrusive regime
and many more inspectors and the Iraqis not controlling when they
could come in, where they could go, what they could do."
Rumsfeld praised the efforts of President Musharraf to find killers of
journalist Daniel Pearl, but refused to speculate as to whether the
murder might be related to al Qaeda. Without giving numbers, Rumsfeld
confirmed that many members of al Qaeda and Taliban leadership have
been captured or killed. "And clearly," he said, "there are more that
we're still looking for."
Secretary Rumsfeld denied reports that a new Pentagon office might
deliberately provide misinformation to the news media and foreign
"Clearly, this secretary and the people that work with me are not
going to engage in misinformation to the American people or to foreign
public," Rumsfeld said. "We are simply not going to do it. That's not
what we do."
Following is the Pentagon transcript of Rumsfeld's interview:
U.S. Department of Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
February 24, 2002
Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with CBS-TV "Face the Nation"
(Interview with Bob Schieffer and Gloria Borger, Face the Nation,
Q: And good morning again. The secretary of defense is with us in the
Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for coming.
RUMSFELD: Yes, indeed.
Q: You're as aware as we are of these reports now being published that
Osama bin Laden may be alive and living somewhere along the Pakistani
border. What can you tell us?
RUMSFELD: Not much. We see so much intelligence information, and it's
snippets of this and snippets of that and speculation about this and
theories about that.
What we do know is there has not been any recent evidence that he's
alive. That does not mean he's not alive. It simply means that we
don't have evidence that he is or isn't. And what we'll learn over
time remains to be seen.
I think it's important to recognize that the Department of Defense is
clearly looking for him. We're hard at it, and it's important that we
find him, and we will find him eventually.
But we're really organized and trained and equipped to fight armies
and navies and air forces. We're not organized to do manhunts. That's
a law-enforcement-type thing.
So we're trying to figure out different ways of doing it and gathering
intelligence and getting a lot of cooperation from other people, other
countries. And we'll keep at it until we find him.
Q: Mr. Secretary, a senior administration official told the New York
Times that the United States has probably gotten about one-third of
the core leadership of al Qaeda. Is that your estimate right now?
RUMSFELD: Well, we keep track of the top 20 or 25 or 30 of these al
Qaeda and Taliban people and some related organizations. And we try to
categorize them: Do we know they're killed and dead, gone? Do we know
they're possibly dead? Do we know we've captured them and have them in
hand? Are they alive and uncaptured?
And we look at this every day, and it changes from time to time.
People move from category to category. But we've got a number in
captivity, and we have a number that we're quite sure are dead. And
clearly, there are more that we're still looking for.
Q: Well, what would you say the state of al Qaeda is right now? Have
you broken its back? Is it still a viable force?
RUMSFELD: It is not knowable, because the manifestations that we'll
find, eventually, as to whether or not they're active or inactive,
will be additional terrorist activities.
And what we do know is there have not been many in recent weeks. It
suggests to me that they're on the run.
We know that there were thousands and thousands of these people
trained and trained very well to kill people, to kill innocent people,
to engage in terrorist acts around the world in a lot of countries. So
to suggest that they're defeated would be wrong; they're not. Are they
having trouble raising money? Yes. Are they having trouble
transferring money? Yes. Are they having trouble communicating? To
some extent, yes, we believe, certainly more trouble than they used
to. They had free play. Are countries a little more careful about
whether or not they want to provide haven for them? You bet your life
they're more careful.
Q: Do you see a link between al Qaeda and the murder of Wall Street
Journal reporter Danny Pearl?
RUMSFELD: There is speculation that that might be the case.
Q: Do you think so?
RUMSFELD: That is a matter that needs to be carefully looked at before
charges and allegations are made. But I have seen snippets that
suggest that that's the case.
Q: So if there were a link, would the United States retaliate in any
RUMSFELD: You know, we're not into the retaliation or the retribution
business. Our goal is to defend our country.
And to do that, we have to go after terrorists. Some people think of
that as retaliation. I don't. I think of it as self- defense. If we've
got terrorist networks out there and people that are killing people,
innocent people, we simply have to go find them and run them to ground
and see that justice is done.
Q: Well, Mr. Secretary, what do you think this was about? Who do you
think the people were who pulled this off? What were they trying to
I mean, there's been one report that perhaps it was disgruntled
Pakistani intelligence agents who may have been ousted by President
Musharraf of Pakistan.
Do you have any theory of what caused this and why it happened?
RUMSFELD: I don't. I saw what everyone else saw. We saw a
well-planned, well-executed taking of a hostage; the use of television
to dramatize it and to show the world how successful they were that
they tricked him and carefully planned and executed that.
They obviously are very proud of the fact that they're brutal
murderers or they would not have videotaped these things.
There is lots of speculation as to why they did it or who they -- what
kinds of linkages they may have, and we don't know.
I saw the speculation you mentioned, and there's no question that
President Musharraf has been terrific. He went after the ISID
[Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate] leadership, changed it, and
there's undoubtedly some disgruntled people there. Does that mean
there's a connection between that and Mr. Pearl? Who knows. Time will
Q: How secure do you feel he is, President Musharraf, at this point?
Because, I mean, you bring up this very interesting point. When you've
got your own intelligence agencies somewhat upset with you, it's a
pretty dangerous situation.
RUMSFELD: I think he is a competent, forward-looking individual. He is
also courageous. And he is aware of the dangers that any person in his
situation faces, and he is manages security in an intelligent way. And
on the other hand, people who are that visible are vulnerable. And if
people are willing to give their lives to take someone's life, they
can pretty much do that, no matter who it is.
Q: Would you ask President Musharraf to extradite Danny Pearl's
murderers to the United States to possibly be tried in a military
RUMSFELD: First of all, that's a law-enforcement issue, and I really
wouldn't know whether the Department of Justice, what the extradition
laws are or rules.
Q: But would you like to see that happen?
RUMSFELD: First of all, I don't believe they've captured all of the
people involved yet, but in the event they do capture them, my guess
is that the Pakistani government will want to prosecute them for
having committed the crime in Pakistan.
The United States government may very well want to try to extradite
the people involved if possible for the killing of an American, which
would seem to me as a non-lawyer to be a reasonable thing.
Whether or not that person would fit under the military order that the
president issued with respect to commissions, is -- the president
reserved to himself the decision as to who would fit under that, and
thus far he's not designated anybody.
Q: I want to come back to this whole situation in Afghanistan in a
minute, but I'd also like to shift for a minute to talk about Iraq and
what the situation is there.
A report in The Washington Post this morning that we have depleted our
smart bomb supply to the point that we have stretched the National
Guard and the regular forces to the point that if the United States
decided in some way to go after Saddam Hussein and go into Iraq, that
we couldn't do that for a year. That we're just simply not -- we don't
have the capability to do that right now.
I'd like to hear your response to that.
RUMSFELD: Well, first, let me just set the subject of Iraq off to the
side and not address it. It seems to me there's so much talk about
Iraq and North Korea and Iran as a result of the president's speech.
And what he was attempting do, and I think did very effectively, was
to focus world opinion on those countries and how they treat their
people and how they treat their neighbors and the dangers they pose
from a standpoint of weapons of mass destruction. I think it was a
very useful thing to do. Full stop. Go to the question of munitions.
We expended a great many of these so-called smart weapons, bombs in
Afghanistan. We are rapidly replenishing them. This happens any time
And you can be sure that the United States of America is going to be
capable of doing anything that the president asked them to do, because
he'll know that before he asks anyone to do anything.
Q: But how important is it, this whole business of Saddam. Are we
pressing now as strongly as we can? And how important is it for the
United States and for the allies to be able to go in and inspect and
know whether or not he is producing weapons of mass destruction?
Somebody said this morning that we want a guarantee of being able to
go in there at any hour of the day or night to see what he is doing.
Is that what we're after here?
RUMSFELD: Well, if you think about it, go back to when we did have
inspectors in there, which was years ago. When they were there, they
had an enormously difficult time finding anything.
Under the rules and restrictions that were imposed on them by Iraq,
the only real information they got was not by snooping around on the
ground, finding things and discovering things, because they were able
to move them, hide them underground, lie about them, not allow them to
go in, wait long periods before they could go in. The only real
information they found was from defectors. Got away from Saddam
Hussein, got out of the country, told the inspectors where to look,
which they then did, and they then found some things.
Now, what's happened in the intervening period? Well, technology has
evolved. The Iraqis have had more time to go underground. They've had
lots of dual-use technologies that have come in. They've had lots of
illicit things that have come in. They have advanced their weapons of
mass destruction programs. They've developed greater degrees of
mobility. They are very accomplished liars, as to what's going on. You
could you put inspectors all over that place, and it would be very
difficult to find anything.
Q: So, are you saying that weapons inspections would be worthless?
RUMSFELD: No, I'm saying that if one thought that the old regime was
successful, they're mistaken. The old regime was successful in part
because of defectors telling them what to look for, not because they
actually found something. And I'm saying today, the situation is
vastly more difficult.
Therefore, if you try to use the old regime, it wouldn't work. You
would have to have a much more intrusive regime and many more
inspectors and the Iraqis not controlling when they could come in,
where they could go, what they could do. And the Iraqis aren't going
to agree to something like that.
Q: I'm not sure I understand. Are you saying it's more important than
ever for us to be able to go in there and inspect, or are you saying
that maybe it doesn't make that much difference? I'm just not clear.
RUMSFELD: I'm saying that, under the best of circumstances, inspectors
have a very, very difficult time, because you're dealing with a regime
that is repressive, that kills people, their own people, frequently,
that lies in very skillful ways, that's had years to take advance
technology go underground, hide things, deny things, create mobility
where they can actually keep them moving ahead of any inspectors. And
it's just very difficult to do.
You're quite right, it's enormously important that we have knowledge
about what he's doing. He has shown that he is willing to use weapons
of mass destruction on his own people. He has used chemical weapons on
his own people.
Q: But what you also seem to be saying is that it may not be that
important. We may not gain that much -- am I understanding you
-- by having the ability to get in there and inspect.
RUMSFELD: I guess what I'm saying is that we have to be very honest
with ourselves about what we could accomplish, and recognize that
using an old regime that didn't work very well except with the
assistance of defectors, and trying to have that work today, with the
technology having advanced, with much greater skill and denial than
deception, we would be fooling ourselves. We would have to have a much
more intrusive inspection regime, in my view.
Now, what will actually happen, what the U.N. will decide, what the
Iraqis will agree to, what our government will ultimately agree to --
I just am saying, in all directness, that we have to go into this with
our eyes wide open; that it would take a very intrusive regime for us
to have any confidence that it would work.
Q: We're going to have to have more than we had before.
RUMSFELD: No doubt.
Q: OK. Let's take a break. We'll come back and talk more about this.
Q: Back again with the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Mr.
Secretary, as you well know, a story this week that the Defense
Department was creating some sort of new program to not only put out
information but disinformation, at least that is what's reported. It
caused quite a stir. You yourself said this is not going to happen. My
question to you, Mr. Secretary, is -- was this story misreported? Was
this something that somebody did have an idea of doing? And if so, how
could somebody get that far off the track?
RUMSFELD: Well, you know, until you've run down every track and tried
to figure out who might have said something -- but I have never seen a
piece of paper that suggested anything like that. I have never heard
anyone say anything like that.
Clearly, this secretary and the people that work with me are not going
to engage in misinformation to the American people or to foreign
public. We are simply not going to do it. That's not what we do. And I
have no idea really, except for the fact that we arrived at a point in
the Afghan war where we clearly needed to communicate important things
through the military.
The Afghan people were being told that the food rations we were
dropping were poison, and they weren't. And the Taliban and the al
Qaeda were lying about it, and we needed to find ways to tell these
people of Afghanistan that they could eat that food. Millions of these
were dropped. So we obviously engaged in an information program where
we had an airplane fly over and broadcast down to the ground the
truth. We dropped leaflets saying what the truth was. We also dropped
leaflets offering rewards for information about UBL, Usama bin Laden,
So there are lots of things that we have to do to direct people where
they can get humanitarian assistance. So we need to be in the business
of communicating that kind of information. But this department is not
in the business of misinforming people.
Q: Have you, in addition to your public statements, have you directly
told the people in your department that, whatever they were thinking,
that's not your way of doing business and they need to stop it?
RUMSFELD: I don't think I've told them to stop it because I don't
think it ever was going on. In fact, I know it was never going on.
Q: Well, somebody must have thought of it. I mean -
RUMSFELD: Somebody -- it may have -- it may very well be that someone
had it in their head. Someone may have even said something. But in
terms of actually doing anything like that, I'm not seeing a single
shred of evidence from anybody in the press or anywhere else that
suggests that anything like that was done.
And I am told -- and I have visited with the senior civilian authority
over in that office and he agrees with me and he feels exactly the
same way. He has talked with other people in the -- that have been
involved in this process. And everyone I know in the department feels
the way I've just expressed.
So it's a big department. We've got millions of people involved. And
I'm sure that some people may think that would be a good idea, but
that's not for the Department of Defense.
Q: Mr. Secretary, in the president's trip last week, he did fail to
get a commitment from the Chinese to halt the sale of missile
technology to countries like Iran. Is that a setback?
RUMSFELD: I honestly don't know enough about what happened on that
trip yet. I have not had a chance to meet with him or the people that
were with him on that trip. And I'm simply not knowledgeable enough
about it to answer the question.
Q: Let's go back to Afghanistan. We talked about that in the
beginning. How stable do you think that government is now? We seem to
have these conflicting warlords. Is there a possibility or should U.S.
forces become involved in that in some way, more so than they are now?
RUMSFELD: Well, that's a tough call. Afghanistan has been unstable in
one way or another for a great many years. It's been in external wars
with the Soviet Union.
RUMSFELD: It's been in internal wars among warlords. So stability has
not been the hallmark of that piece of geography.
Is it unstable now? Well, you've got an interim government that seems
to be reasonably well supported by the people. It has six months total
life, at which point a council will meet and a successor government
will be fashioned. What it will look like, nobody knows.
Any time that something has a deadline, that it ends in a certain
number of months, which is now four or five, one has to know there's a
degree of uncertainty as to what will follow. And that's just a fact.
In terms of the security situation in the country, it's mixed. The
ISAF, the International Security Assistance Force, is in Kabul. It is
not in the other major cities or centers. The security that's provided
elsewhere in the country, outside of Kabul, tends to be by these
various military forces that were involved in assisting us in throwing
the Taliban out. Now, the people of Afghanistan are an awful lot
better off today than they were prior to the Taliban being thrown out.
Q: Well, could you envision U.S. advisers, military advisers, being
sent in to help the government forces?
RUMSFELD: What we have agreed to do -- we already have units of
special forces -
RUMSFELD: -- with most of those military entities around the country.
They're helping us look for Taliban and al Qaeda leadership right now.
So they're engaged with us in doing that in many parts of the country.
We have an assessment team currently in Kabul, working with the
interim government and with the ministry of defense under Fahim Kahn,
to try to figure out what a national military force would look like.
Could they pull together elements from around the country, of these
different ethnic groups, into a multi-ethnic, multi-regional force of
some number? And the numbers vary between 25,000 and 60,000 or 70,000.
Probably today there may be closer to 100,000 or 200,000 people who
are in these other elements.
I think we will be assisting them in one way or another to fashion
such a force.
Q: I'm terribly sorry, we have to leave it there. Thank you so much.
RUMSFELD: Thank you.
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