(Also participating Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. Slides from today's briefing are located at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Apr2003/g030425-D-6570C.html. Photos of today's briefing are available at http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/Apr2003/030425-D-9880W-103.html, http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/Apr2003/030425-D-9880W-096.html, http://www.defenselink.mil/photos/Apr2003/030425-D-9880W-081.html.)
Yes, it's still good morning. The number of officials of the former
regime now in the hands of coalition forces continues to grow. This
week, Saddam Hussein's trade minister was captured by coalition forces
on the Iraqi-Syrian border. His director of military intelligence was
captured near Baghdad. His deputy chief of tribal affairs and a former
senior member of his Revolutionary Command Council were both
apprehended by Free Iraqi Forces and turned over to the coalition. The
commander of his air defense force was taken into custody West of
Baghdad. The former head of the American desk of the Iraqi Intelligence
Service was also captured after a shoot-out with coalition forces in
Baghdad. And yesterday, of course, the former deputy prime minister and
confidante of Saddam Hussein, Tariq Aziz, was taken into custody.
now have, I believe, 12 of the 55 Most Wanted officials in custody, as
well as a number of other officials who were not on that original list
of 55. Most are being apprehended with the help of ordinary Iraqis. I
expect that with the help of the Iraqi people, many more will be
captured in the days ahead.
the situation in Baghdad is improving daily. The power and other
services are slowly being restored. The capital is beginning to move
again with commerce. Our coalition in Iraq now includes some 65 or 66
nations, and a growing number are on the ground in Iraq helping to
provide food, water, medicine, trucks, generators, field hospitals,
mine-clearing, and other humanitarian assistance.
Karbala, over a million Shi'a Muslims were able to complete their
pilgrimage without interference from Saddam Hussein's regime, for the
first time since 1977. That is an important accomplishment, a sign that
free expression and religious liberty are returning to Iraq.
of the most important aspects of a free society is, of course, free
expression, including the expression of minority views. One of the ways
that minority opinion can be expressed in free nations is through
protests and demonstrations.
in the U.S., for example, the majority of Americans supported the war
in Iraq, but some opposed it, and some took to the streets to make
their opposition heard.
The same is
true in other democracies. On Tuesday, for example, hundreds of people
marched in Moscow to celebrate Lenin's birthday and called for a
restoration of the Soviet Union.
the fact that demonstrations are taking place is a sign that Iraqis are
embracing that right of free speech, a right restored by coalition
forces. But it should not be taken to indicate that the majority of
Iraqis oppose the coalition objectives in Iraq. It may seem like that,
watching television from time to time. But I believe that a majority of
the Iraqis are pleased to be rid of Saddam Hussein's regime.
far from wanting coalition forces gone, they have been asking coalition
forces to help restore order, to assist with basic services -- water,
food, electricity and the like. They want the coalition to help to
provide stability and security as Iraqis form an interim authority and
eventually choose a free Iraqi government. And then they will want us
to leave, to be sure, and that's what we would want as well.
This much is certain:
vocal minority clamoring to transform Iraq in Iran's image will not be
permitted to do so. We will not allow the Iraqi people's democratic
transition to be hijacked for -- by those who might wish to install
another form of dictatorship.
policy in Iraq is simple. It is to stay as long as necessary to finish
our work and then to leave Iraq to the Iraqi people as soon as that
work is done.
Myers: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
our force -- focus has been on Iraq these past weeks, operations in
Afghanistan continue. Today coalition forces operating near Shkin,
Afghanistan, were fired on by approximately 20 enemy personnel. The
resulting firefight cost the lives of two (sic – spoken incorrectly,
only one killed) U.S. servicemen. Additionally, some U.S. and Afghan
soldiers were wounded. We engaged the enemy from the ground and from
the air, and continue to look for them.
I want to extend my condolences -- our condolences to the families and friends of those killed and wounded.
Iraq today is D-Day plus 37. As the secretary said, humanitarian
operations continue to expand and life throughout a liberated Iraq is
returning to some semblance of normalcy.
coalition forces continue to encounter pockets of resistance from Iraqi
paramilitary forces and from foreign fighters, but these threats are
being dealt with as they come up, one by one.
morning, a 20- to 30-man Iraqi paramilitary force attacked a coalition
patrol northwest of Mosul. Coalition forces killed several of the
attackers and destroyed two of the so-called technical vehicles, the
trucks with the machine guns on them. A two-man enemy paramilitary
element was engaged in south Baghdad; one was killed, one was captured.
April 18th, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit were led to this
vehicle, that's on the slide now, clearly marked as an Iraqi Red
Crescent ambulance at a hospital in Mosul by the hospital staff. When
the Marines opened the ambulance doors, there were no medical supplies
or stretchers. What they discovered in the interior was electronic
equipment. This ambulance was modified by the former Iraqi regime for
use as a signals intelligence collection vehicle. The vehicle was
capable of intercepting and direction-finding different types of
electronic radio signals. Obviously, as we've been -- that's a shot of
the antenna up there in the upper part of that vehicle.
Rumsfeld: Just so there's no confusion, Red Crescent is the name of the Red Cross in that part of the world.
And this should not be surprising because we've been talking about them
using hospitals and schools and this type of equipment for some time.
But we thought these pictures would be, would leave the conclusion
pretty well self-evident.
We also had instances of this in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and the
al Qaeda were using Red Crescent buildings and facilities, as well as
vehicles, to attempt to provide them cover so that they could go out
and kill innocent men, women and children.
At the last press briefing, I was asked about cluster munitions, and we
talked about them briefly there. Coalition forces dropped nearly 1,500
cluster bombs of varying types during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Most
were precision-guided. An initial review of all cluster munitions used
and the targets they were used on indicate that only 26 of those
approximately 1,500 hit targets within 1,500 feet of civilian
neighborhoods. And there's been only one recorded case of collateral
damage from cluster munitions noted so far.
used cluster munitions against surface-to-surface missiles, radar
sites, air defense sites, surface-to-air missiles, regime mobile
communications, aircraft, armor, artillery, troops, and other select
military targets. Because the regime chose to put many of these
military assets in populated areas, and then from those areas fired on
our forces, in some cases we hit those targets knowing that there would
be a chance of potential collateral damage.
forces used cluster munitions in very specific cases against valid
military targets, and only when they deemed it was a military
necessity. These are tough choices. And it's unfortunate that we had to
make those choices about hitting targets in civilian areas, but as
we've said before as well, war is not a tidy affair, it's a very ugly
affair. And this enemy had no second thoughts about putting its own
people at risk. Indeed, multiple civilian casualties were clearly a
high priority for the regime so as to put pressure on the coalition.
Now they will not be able to do that any longer.
And with that, we'll take your questions.
Mr. Secretary, on North Korea. The president and you and Secretary
Powell have said repeatedly the United States wants to settle this
face-off with North Korea over nuclear --
Rumsfeld: Wants to do what?
Wants to settle the face-off with North Korea peacefully. Having said
that, the recent pointed statements by North Korea that it has nuclear
weapons and might do whatever with them and is reprocessing plutonium,
is that drawing closer, perhaps, the military option? Is the military
option, I guess, moving closer to possibility with this?
Oh, I don't think I'd want to say that. The president's on a diplomatic
path. Clearly, the recent discussions have not moved the ball forward.
But Secretary Powell and the president are working on the matter, and
the hope is that it can ultimately be resolved through diplomatic means.
Q: Does the military option remain open, sir?
Rumsfeld: I'm not going to discuss the subject beyond what I've said. I'll leave it to the president and the secretary of State.
Mr. Secretary, would you tell me what the department's relationship and
the administration's relationship is with Ahmed Chalabi? How do you
view his role in the new Iraq? And does it bother you at all that he's
a convicted felon in Jordan and that Jordan's King Abdullah views him
as a charlatan?
Rumsfeld: No, I
suspect that every -- first of all, the Iraqi people are going to
decide what the Iraqi government is going to look like. There have been
people inside Iraq who have resisted the regime and a lot of them were
killed. A lot of them were imprisoned. A lot of them were tortured. A
lot of their families were murdered and killed. It was a brutal regime.
There are a lot of people outside of Iraq, Iraqis, who have resisted
the Iraqi regime over a period of some decades. They are now, in
reasonable numbers, returning to Iraq. And there will be a process that
will sort through who will eventually move into positions of
responsibility, first in an interim authority of some kind, and then
later in a more permanent government.
suspect that anyone who puts their head up will find that it's a lot
like the United States and other countries where people can express
themselves. And someone will not like them. Someone will say something
about them that is unpleasant, and it'll get printed in the press, and
it'll get carried on television that we're for this person, not that
person; that person's a good person, that person's a bad person. And
that'll go on.
And there will be a
natural sort that will take place, and that's a good thing. And the
people left standing, who garner the greatest amount of support, will
end up being the ones that ultimately will take responsibility, as long
as they adhere to the basic principles that we've put forward; namely,
a country that's whole, free, at peace with its neighbors, doesn't have
weapons of mass destruction and is respectful of all the rights of all
the people of that country.
Quick -- may I do a follow-up, Mr. Secretary, quickly, on the same
thing? But it seems in this case the United States is supporting
Chalabi and his followers by offering logistical support.
Also, you didn't answer the question that he is a convicted felon in Jordan. That's not just "people don't like him."
I'm not going to get into the background of any of these individuals.
They all have their opportunity to make their case and to present their
case and to try to persuade other people in that country that they are
someone that merits their support.
I will say that the -- Mr. Chalabi is a member of the Leadership
Council of the Iraqi opposition. They have selected their leaders. He
is one of, I believe, six. Is that correct?
Myers: I don't know the number, sir.
Rumsfeld: But -- and all of those people are involved in this process.
United States has obviously supplied some assistance to a variety of
people -- Shi'as and Sunnis and people from inside the country and
people from outside the country. Why did we do that? Well, we did it
because we believe that the Iraqi people ought to have a role in
freeing and liberating that country. And indeed, a lot of Iraqi people
did have a role in that, and it was a good thing.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Mr. Secretary, with regard to the growing list of high- profile former
Iraqi government officials that you have in custody, I guess they are
determined to be prisoners of war. Where they are being held and sort
of how you are handling them and determining what their future is going
to be remains an open question. Have you done thinking on those things?
What is likely to happen to them? What, if anything, are you getting
from them, at this point, by way of guidance or insight into the things
that you are most interested in?
We have acquired, scooped up, have custody of a large number of people,
Iraqi people, even some non-Iraqis. We've got a number of Syrians and
other nationals that were in there doing things they shouldn't have
been doing. The number is somewhere between 7,000, 7,500, I'm going to
guess. They're in various locations. I think we're probably down to one
or two enemy prisoner of war camps.
That's probably right. Yeah, we had some locations where we had
collection points, and then kind of probably consolidated. Maybe three
at this point.
Rumsfeld: We still
have some others in custody in other parts of the country. We're not
inclined to tell you where, but we have them. We're keeping the hard
cases separate, for the most part. We are systematically going through
the less-hard cases and releasing people. I believe we've released over
a thousand people already, probably ordinary foot soldiers who were
part of an element that surrendered, and when we had a chance to vet
them and take a look, why, we said, gee, let's send them home and get
them out of here. And as others have been brought in, we've been moving
others out. So we've been, I think almost every day, moving out
something in excess of 100, which is a good thing. We, obviously, don't
want to hold any more people than we have to.
can be certain that the people who we have reason to believe have
information are being interrogated by interagency teams, and they are
in fact providing information that's useful.
Mr. Secretary, last week, General Myers mentioned that you were
planning a trip to the Middle East. Have those plans been firmed up?
Rumsfeld: (To General Myers) Did you act as my travel agent?
Myers: I did. I was -- yes, sir, I was your travel agent for a day – I admit it. (Laughter.)
He didn't book your tickets. But can you give us a sense of where your
travel plans stand at this point, and what would the objectives be?
I may very well take a trip. I'm not inclined to announce where or
when. And the purpose would be closely tied to the places I might visit
and the time I might visit. (Laughter.)
(To General Myers) How did I do? Is that about roughly what you said?
Myers: I didn't even say that much, I don't think! (Laughs; laughter.)
Q: Mr. Secretary, the vocal minority that you mentioned in your opening statement --
-- clamoring for an Iranian-style government, is it your impression
that those are people who are acting -- you know, speaking from the
heart, or do you think that the government of Iran is fomenting this
sort of sentiment? What role is Iran playing?
Oh, there's no question but that the government of Iran has encouraged
people to go into the country, and that they have people in the country
attempting to influence the country.
impression is that the -- the Shi'a in the country are Iraqis, and the
Shi'a outside the country, from Iran, are Persians. And my guess is
that the Iraqi people will prefer to be governed by Iraqis and not by
Q: What is the extent of the Iranian activity? Is it money? Is it agents of influence? Describe what's going on.
Rumsfeld: You know, they have organized elements that they send into the country to attempt to assert influence.
Q: Mr. Secretary, can you shed any light on the specifics of Tariq Aziz's surrender and perhaps the significance of that?
Oh, I could, but I don't know why I would get into the tick-tock of who
did what to whom, and how it worked. But he's in custody.
Q: Hold on --
Rumsfeld: And the significance is -- (laughter) -- let's just hold on --
(Laughter.) I'd never say that to you. (Laughter.)
Q: I think he was directing that to me.
Q: Well, I was sensing a one-word answer -- (inaudible). (Laughter.) I wanted to get the jump --
Myers: Preemptive questioning.
Rumsfeld: There you go.
know, he clearly is a very senior person in -- was in that regime, and
we intend to discuss with him whatever it is he's willing to discuss
Q: And following up, there
was another get, Farouk Hijazi, reportedly coming from Syria into Iraq
-- most recently Iraq's ambassador to Tunisia. Is this a sign that
Syria is cooperating, kicking people out? Any details on that get?
(Pauses.) It's hard to tell. There's no question but that with the
neighbors, you see a mixture of things. You see some things that are
something that was going on, that was adverse to the interests of the
Iraqi people and certainly adverse to the interests of the coalition,
that in some cases have stopped. So you would say, "Gee, that's a good
thing. That's a plus."
there are some things that are still continuing which are minuses. So
it's a mixture of things that you see, and it's not a perfectly clear
picture as to either the country of Syria or Iran.
Q: Well, what are the minuses, sir?
Q: Mr. Secretary, you said a number of times that U.S. forces would stay in Iraq only as long as necessary.
General Franks was quoted in an interview today as saying that that
could be a year or two. Does that sound about right to you?
I can't guess. I mean, the people kept saying, "Gee, how many
casualties will there be?" And someone guessed 3,000. Well, there's --
it was so far off that it's just unbelievable. They guessed how long it
would last, and people were way off on that. I can't tell you. It --
Q: (Off mike.) -- situation.
You think so? My -- I think it's a very difficult thing to guess, and I
don't have to guess, and it doesn't do any good to guess. We're going
to go in there, and we're going to do what we need to do, and we're
going to get it done, and we're going to get it done well, and then
Q: Mr. Secretary --
I think what General Franks said, if I remember right, was, when asked
the question, well, it could be a month or two, or a year or two. He
was just saying we don't -- what he was saying is, we don't know. And
so I wouldn't focus on the "year or two" any more than I'd focus on the
"month or two." I think it's exactly as the secretary said. I mean --
Mr. Secretary, with these officials that you -- that have been taken
into custody now, do you have any more sense than you did, say, a week
ago on whether the old leadership of the regime is still intact,
whether they went to ground together, whether there was any kind of
plan? Or is it like each man for himself now? Is that what it appears
Rumsfeld: I think to suggest
that the top 55 are all housed in the same location is -- would clearly
be not the case. I’m going to guess some got over some border and are
being -- finding haven someplace. I would guess that still others are
-- we found, and still others are in the country in various places,
probably trying to be inconspicuous, and we'll eventually find them.
Q: (Off mike.)
Rumsfeld: Oh, I would doubt it, but I couldn't rule it out. It's just not knowable by us.
Mr. Secretary, when it comes to the senior regime leaders that have
been captured, such as Tariq Aziz, are they considered prisoners of
war? Are they subject to the protections of the Geneva Convention? Will
they be visited by the Red Cross? Will they be possibly moved to
Guantanamo? What's going to happen to them?
Lots of questions. With respect to Guantanamo, the answer is no. We
intend to not take people, regardless of what they're characterized as,
from Iraq or from any other country to Guantanamo Bay at the moment.
Could it change? Possibly. But my preference is not to. And I would
guess I'd have a voice in it, and I would discourage doing that.
think that it's hard to characterize all of them in the same way. I
mean, some of them may very well be people who were military. Let me --
Q: Well, say, take Tariq Aziz, for example.
Well, let me -- some of them are military, and they would be considered
enemy prisoners of war. We were in a war. Some others might have been
in civilian garb, like the Fedayeen Saddam, and the question is, what
are they? And the lawyers will sort all that out.
we do know is that there are people who in large measure have
information that we need, and we need that information so that we can
track down the weapons of mass destruction in that country. We need
that information so that we can track down the terrorist links between
Saddam Hussein's regime and various terrorist networks. And we need it
to track down other people. We need it to find records so that we can
go through this process of "de-Ba'athification," if there's such a
word, trying to eliminate the influence of the Ba'ath Party in that
country. There's lots of very important projects we've got.
the first order of business is, in my view, to stop holding the ones we
don't need. And that's why we're working through 200 or 300 a day,
trying to sort them and get rid of them, let them go back home and live
their lives if we don't need them.
we -- the ones -- we sort out the high-value ones, and get
interrogation teams working together that information. And clearly,
Tariq Aziz falls in the latter category.
Q: Is he a POW, subject to the protections of the Geneva Conventions?
These are lawyers are going to sort through that. Was he in the
military? He always -- every time I was ever with him, he always wore a
camouflage uniform and a pistol on his hip. Does that make him
military? I don't know. He was deputy prime minister; he was, I
believe, foreign minister. But the lawyers will figure that out. I
don't have to worry about that stuff. (Laughter.)
Mr. Secretary, is the U.S. considering possible criminal charges
against any of these Iraqi leaders? And if not, at the conclusion of
any conflict, wouldn't they be subject to release?
There are rules that apply to people depending on which basket they're
in. It's true that when a war is over, there is a responsibility to
release people who fit in certain categories but not in others. The
lawyers are currently sorting through the question as to how they want
to deal with this. Do they want to have some sort of a tribunal, should
the Iraqi people do it, should some international organization do it,
should the United States do it? I think probably the latter is not our
first choice, but that's going to be decided at a higher level than
But at this point, is the U.S. considering possible criminal charges of
some kind against Iraqi leadership who are in custody, as opposed to a
Rumsfeld: I think I
just answered that as well as I can. The lawyers are going to sort
through that and decide. And they'll decide whether we ought to
consider criminal charges, and in what particular venue.
Q: Aren't you a player in that?
Mr. Secretary, are you concerned -- regarding Guantanamo Bay, do you
care how it looks to the rest of the world that you're holding
juveniles at Guantanamo Bay without legal representation? And what
assurances can you give the families of those juveniles, who don't have
access to them, that you're looking after their welfare?
Well, your question suggests that you know what the rest of the world
thinks and you characterized it. I'm not sure you do know that. I don't
I do know that we care what
the rest of the world thinks. We live in a free system here, and we try
to conduct ourselves according to our values and generally accepted
values in the world, which are quite different from those of the Iraqi
regime under Saddam Hussein and, indeed, quite different from a number
of countries in that part of the world. So we do care, and that's why
we invite in the International Committee of the Red Cross to meet with
and interview and be with all of the people in Guantanamo Bay. They
have reported on that. I'm not going to characterize their reports.
Someone would say, "Well, you didn't characterize it perfectly." But
you can go read it and see what they have to say. And I think you'll
find that the care they are getting and the treatment they are getting
reflects the fact that we believe that treating people properly is
important, and that the rest of the world ought to know that. We have a
long history in this country. And we are treating those people properly.
Myers: Can I follow on --
Rumsfeld: You bet.
I would say, despite their age, these are very, very dangerous people.
They are people that have been vetted mainly in Afghanistan and gone
through a thorough process to determine what their involvement was.
Some have killed. Some have stated they're going to kill again. So they
may be juveniles, but they're not on a little-league team anywhere,
they're on a major league team, and it's a terrorist team. And they're
in Guantanamo for a very good reason -- for our safety, for your safety.
Mr. Secretary, please go back to Afghanistan for a minute. General
Myers said that there were 20 people that attacked that American
patrol. Does that number surprise you? Does it concern you? Is that
suggestive of the security situation in that region?
Yes, the security situation is still dangerous in Iraq, and we've said
that consistently. And there are groups. And I think as far as our
forces are concerned, the more the better, because we can deal with
them quicker that way. So, no, it's not a concern from a military point
of view; it's a concern, overall security situation. We need to keep
dealing with this, of course.
Mr. Secretary, General Garner said yesterday in Iraq that the interim
Iraqi civilian authority may be up and running as early as next week.
That seems to be a little faster than some people anticipated.
Q: How will that happen? Who will make up that --
Rumsfeld: It won't.
Q: It won't. (Laughter.)
I talked to Jay on the phone, on the Secure Videoteleconferencing
System (SVTC), Dick and I did this morning. As a matter of fact,
General Garner had a good briefing of the president and the National
Security Council this morning on a secure video. And I had asked him
about that. And what he was talking about was the fact that there was a
meeting next week, the second of the series of meetings that very
likely will proceed as a buildup to the establishment of an Iraqi
interim authority. And I think, in shorthand, he was talking of a
process as opposed to the way it came out in the paper as though there
would be an authority set up next week. What he meant was they're in
the second meeting that is pointing towards the establishment of that
and is part of the process of the IIA. And he used the phrase "IIA" to
encompass the process, as opposed to the final event, semi-final event
of an interim authority, the final event being the real authority.
Q: Do you-all have any better sense when that interim authority may be set up?
I don't. I don't. I just don't feel like guessing. It really has got to
proceed at a pace that the Iraqi people are comfortable with. The whole
thing to remember about it is whatever is set up will be interim. And
it will not be permanent, it will be temporary. It will serve for a
period. And it will be as representative as is possible in a situation
like we find in Iraq. These are not people who have enjoyed democracy.
They don't have political parties. They're not organized for this.
what we're going to have to do is see that interim authority has enough
people representing enough elements in that country that when it is set
up, people look at it and say, "If that's the group that's going to
figure out a way to draft a constitution, that's the way -- group
that's going to figure out how you set this country on the path to the
permanent authority" -- just -- if you go back to Afghanistan, the loya
jirga process produced the interim authority, the interim authority
produced a process that led to a -- will eventually lead to a more
permanent government -- a permanent government. But they've not gotten
there in Afghanistan yet. That's still en route. So it will be time --
it takes time. And it's going well.
(To General Myers.) I don't know how many days you said it was. Thirty-seven?
(Chuckling) Thirty-seven days. We're all so impatient about everything
being perfect, but -- and life isn't perfect, life is somewhat untidy.
Sir, there is -- as you can imagine -- some cynicism about the plans
for Iraq. The Geneva Convention, as we've talked about in here before,
carries with it some requirements of the occupation power. But in order
to be an occupation power, you have to declare that the war is going to
end. And once you become an occupation power, you have responsibilities
and you have some restrictions with contracts and things like that.
there -- I've been hearing lately from some critics of the war that
they're afraid that the Pentagon will never declare -- or General
Franks will never declare a formal end to this; that when they're ready
to leave, they'll just take off and that will be the end and,
therefore, the occupation power, rights and responsibilities and
restrictions will never kick in.
Can you tell us for sure that there's going to be a time when this war is declared over?
I mean, I would guess so. Can I tell you for sure? No. But I would
guess there will be an end. And what we are seeing is we're seeing a --
this isn't World War I or World War II that starts and then ends.
Afghanistan. We moved from major military activities to a point where,
at the present time, the vast majority of the country is in a
stabilization security mode, it's not in a major military activity
mode, except along the Pakistan border. How it will shake out in Iraq
remains to be seen. I mean, we've said we're still having people
killed. We'll get there.
Q: So there's no attempt to avoid the invocation of those requirements of the Geneva Conventions?
There's no attempt to avoid anything except getting more people killed,
and an attempt to try to get that country and those people in a process
that will produce a free Iraqi government for those people.
Mr. Secretary, could I ask you about efforts to find weapons of mass
destruction and terrorism? In recent days there's been a flow of
exploitation teams, military and intelligence. Can you give us an
update on what kind of progress, or lack of it, they're making? And
last, have you any update on the efforts to resolve the case of Captain
Rumsfeld: There is a
continuing effort to resolve the case of Captain Speicher. And there's
team that's assigned to that. They're working the problem. They're
talking to people. They're investigation sites where he may or may not
have been. And we are always concerned and anxious to bring back an
account for every American -- indeed, every coalition member. We feel
the same way about the Kuwaiti prisoners of war, which we still don't
have closure on, from the '91 war.
Q: How about the weapons and terrorism?
There are sites being exploited. "Exploited" is a funny word, but
that's what they put in our memos -- examined, investigated, explored.
a continuing basis, we get a report out of known sites. We've done this
many and then out of -- opportunistic people have come up and said,
"Why don't you look here or there?" We've done that many. And it's
still a long road. I mean, we're at a small fraction of the number of
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Mr. Secretary, in that -- going back to the case of the juveniles in
Guantanamo, why isn't there a formal legal process for adjudicating
those cases, as well as the other -- the cases of the other people who
are contained there?
said that these juveniles have killed people, but there hasn't been a
trial, there hasn't been a tribunal, there hasn't been a hearing.
I mean, I'll answer. The president announced a policy. It has been
tested and looked at legally, and we are proceeding on that basis --
that the people gathered in Guantanamo we would prefer not to hold. We
would like to have arrangements with other countries that they would
take their nationals on a basis where we could get future access to
them, in the event additional intelligence comes up, and where we have
reason to have confidence that they would not simply release people
that are a danger to the lives of American men, women and children.
we're keeping them down there to keep them off the street. These --
this is a worldwide network that -- the al Qaeda is, and these folks
and the Taliban were part of that and were fighting in Afghanistan and
We have them in
Guantanamo, they're being examined and interrogated by an interagency
process. The president has several ways he can proceed. He can put them
into an Article 3, United States Article 3, our Constitution, court; he
can establish a military commission and try them that way; or he can
keep them for the duration of the war and keep them off the street so
they don't kill other people.
everything that is being done is being done legally and properly. And
this constant refrain of "the juveniles," as though there's a hundred
of children in there -- these are not children. Dick Myers responded to
that. There are plenty of people who have been killed by people who
were still in their teens.
Q: But there's no -- they're being held indefinitely. There's no process for handling --
Rumsfeld: I just explained the process.
Q: Well -- I mean --
Mr. Secretary, you said a few minutes ago that you're disinclined to
bring Iraqis to Guantanamo. Can you tell us why is it that Guantanamo
was a good place to have brought Taliban and al Qaeda, but not to bring
Rumsfeld: The people we
brought were people who were part of a worldwide -- for the most part,
a worldwide terrorist organization, or were participating with the al
The people we've got in Iraq
are, in large measure, Iraqi people who belong in Iraq. And to the
extent they have to be held for some period of time, it's a lot more
convenient to hold them in Iraqi prisons than it is to build prisons in
Guantanamo and transport them down there. So it just seems to me, first
of all, it's respectful of the taxpayers' dollars. Why should we build
a whole lot more prisons in Guantanamo and then pay to transport these
folks down there?
Q: General Myers,
can you clear up something that you said about -- last -- earlier in
the week about the cluster bombs? There was an incident in which a
young girl, apparently -- there was some kind of munition. Have you any
clarity on that?
Myers: Yeah, I do.
The information that I had at the time indicated, the first report,
that it -- that this little girl had actually intended to harm U.S.
soldiers. In fact, I think, as we went back, it was as was stated, I
think, by somebody in the back of the room, that she was trying to
return -- and it wasn't a cluster bomb, but it was return some sort of
munition, and it went off.
Q: Was that the one incident that you referenced earlier when you talked about the cluster bombs?
Q: Do you know about that incident?
Not -- well, I don't know what it is, frankly. I know there's one that
they're investigating. It will take them about 30 days to figure out
the details of that.
Secretary, can you give us details on -- (Off mike.)? And can you
elaborate in any way on his significance, because of the reports that
he apparently may have met at some point in the past with Osama bin
Laden, the significance as far as establishing Iraqi times to terrorist
Rumsfeld: (To General Myers.) Do you remember which one he is? (Laughter.)
Q: The former intelligence official, sir.
Rumsfeld: We've got a variety of former intelligence officials.
Q: The one that -- (Off mike.).
Rumsfeld: One had the American portfolio and one had been an intelligence officer and later an ambassador to another country.
Q: That one.
Q: That's the one.
Rumsfeld: That one? Yeah.
Q: Allegedly involved in the alleged plot against --
Rumsfeld: And what was your question about him?
Q: Could you give us more details on his apprehension and elaborate on his significance as --
Rumsfeld: I'd rather not. He is significant. We think he could be interesting. But I'd rather not give you --
Myers: He should know a lot of history that would be -- and a lot of details.
Q: Can you talk about the number of U.S. ground forces in Iraq now? And do you expect that --
Rumsfeld: I can: 135,000 forces, eliminating the word "ground."
Q: Well, as far as the ground forces, do you expect that number to stay roughly the same in the coming weeks?
Rumsfeld: It's less than 135(,000).
Rise? Or fall? And there are some who are coming back from the region,
including Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe, who are saying you don't have
enough ground forces there to keep the peace.
Rumsfeld: (Pause.) How does one do this? (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: Carefully, he said. Yes. Graciously.
Franks is the combatant commander in that area of responsibility. He
has done an excellent job. He has told us what he believes is the
appropriate force level in that country. We have a total of U.S. forces
of plus or minus 135,000 at this moment, which is probably as high as
it's ever been. And there are some of those people who are not ground
forces, they're pilots. They're air crews, and some are doing other
things, administrative things. So the number of actual ground forces,
to use your phrase, is, I would guess, something less -- maybe even
less than 100,000. I just don't know the number. We don't divide them
up that way; do you?
Myers: No, sir. We also have coalition forces.
And we've got 23,000 coalition forces, plus or minus, at the present
time on top of that. And we have, fortunately, a lot of countries
stepping forward with additional coalition forces.
Q: Any sense of how many?
Rumsfeld: Well, we'll announce them as they move in the country. They're being --
Q: With ground forces, do you expect that number to be down in the coming weeks, stay about the same, rise --
Here we go again. Why can't reporters report on what's happening
instead of what might happen if all these variables happen to occur? We
can't know how serious -- the security problem might flare up at some
point. We can't know precisely the pace at which General Garner and his
folks are going to be able to get local Iraqis to begin to assume some
of those security activities. We can't tell you precisely how many
additional countries are going to be sending in forces and what day
Over time, do we
want to see the number of U.S. forces decline? You bet. Are we
perfectly willing to put in any number of U.S. forces that are
necessary to provide the kind of security in that country so that they
can get on their way to humanitarian assistance and reconstruction and
an interim authority? You bet we do. And we will. We'll put in what we
And we happen to have the
number that General Franks thinks we need. And that number will vary up
or down, depending on coalition forces coming in, depending on the
security situation. And it's all going along pretty well, I'd say.
Q: Mr. Secretary, YOU asked the question --
Rumsfeld: I think we'd probably better call a halt to this.
Q: Well, YOU asked the question, though. Can I answer the question you asked? (Laughter.)
Rumsfeld: What do you do with someone like that?!
Q: You said why do reporters -- why don't they just report on what's happening --
Rumsfeld: I guess I did say that. Did I say that? It was off the record. (Laughter.)
And the answer is, because you have plans about what you're going to do
in the future, and you're disinclined to share them with us. So we have
to ask them --
Rumsfeld: No, I'm
inclined to -- I just shared them with you. I do have plans, and I just
told you the plan! The plan is to increase the number of U.S. forces,
if they're necessary, and to decrease them if they're not necessary, to
get as many other countries participating -- coalition forces -- in
there as I possibly can, and to the extent I can, have fewer U.S.
forces, and to the extent I can't -- cannot, have more U.S. force. That
is the plan!
Q: (Off mike.) --
I know that leaves people somewhat unfulfilled, but it happens to be
truth. That's ground truth. That's how we do these things. That's what
we do. That's our job.
Q: (Off mike.) -- sir.
Q: General Myers, on the cluster bomb issue, can I --
Rumsfeld: Whoa, whoa, whoa!
Q: What --
Rumsfeld: Whoa, whoa, whoa!
Q: On the cluster bomb issue, though --
Rumsfeld: What did you say? Say it again. Hold it. Isn't that what you said?
Q: Hold it. Hold everything. Hold on. (Laughter, Cross talk.)
Q: If you decide to take a trip, keep your head down, will you?
2003 by Federal News Service, Inc., Ste. 220, 1919 M St. NW,
Washington, D.C. 20036 USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not
affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript
may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of
Federal News Service Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of
the original work prepared by a U.S. government officer or employee as
a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing
to the FNS Internet Service, please visit www.fednews.com or call (202)347-1400.