Asst. Sec. of Defense (Public Affairs) Rear Adm. Craig Quigley
Interview with Melanie Smith at USA News
September 20, 2001
SMITH: If you would please, for the record, state your name and title.
QUIGLEY: Sure. Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
for Public Affairs.
SMITH: I appreciate that. Let's talk war. Let's talk U.S. preparation.
Where are we on this war front? What support do we have from other countries
at this time?
QUIGLEY: Well Melanie, we're about to undertake a war that America has never
seen the likes of before. This is not anything like Desert Storm or Kosovo a
couple of years ago. You're not going after conventional armies and navies and
air forces. You're going after an enemy that fights and lives in the shadows.
So a military effort will certainly be a part of the overall approach that the
United States is taking, but it will also be elements of diplomatic, financial,
legal, economic. All of those elements go to support terrorist organizations
around the world. Our goal is to dry up that support.
SMITH: Secretary Rumsfeld made that point today, even going as far as to say
there is new thinking on this front. Can you go into perhaps some of that?
QUIGLEY: The new thinking is along the lines of certainly the element of a different
kind of war that I mentioned before, but it's this much more holistic approach
to looking at this.
For instance, if a terrorist organization is supported with a safe haven in
a country, our goal is to remove that safe haven, or to remove the provision
of training camps, the provision of weapons and explosives, so that no matter
where a terrorist organization could look they could find no support, no money,
no weapons to carry out their tasks.
SMITH: Are we talking sanctions specifically?
QUIGLEY: It could be a variety of things. It probably will be a variety of things.
Some actions will work in some instances and will not in others, so we're going
to have to be very flexible and very nimble in our approach here and make sure
that we use the right approach to accomplish our goals.
SMITH: Can you talk specifically Iraq, Iran, Syria? People with a track record
in those areas of terrorist activity.
QUIGLEY: We are very heartened on the one hand by expressions of support from
a variety of nations around the world -- sometimes nations with whom we don't
have a lot in common politically. But on the subject of terrorism we can all
agree that it's a threat to every nation on earth and every citizenry.
So the goal, again, is to have, for states that have exhibited a history of
support to terrorist organizations, we want that behavior to halt.
SMITH: Is the U.S. concerned at this point, Saddam Hussein and Iraq, that there's
been no -- he hasn't condemned the violence of last week, the terrorist attacks
specifically. Are we concerned at this point? Are we targeting Iraq?
QUIGLEY: Iraq and Saddam Hussein specifically, and I must make a huge distinction
between the people of Iraq and Saddam Hussein and his cronies. Saddam has an
incredible track record of supporting terrorism in a wide variety of places
around the world. That is the very exact definition of behavior that we want
to halt in order to dry up support for the organizations.
SMITH: The cleric in Afghanistan today made comments that they're making suggestions
at this point. The U.S. has already condemned that that is not enough, we want
action. Is the U.S. prepared to take action against that if there's no action
on their part, only talk?
QUIGLEY: I believe that the United States is absolutely committed to taking
action. This is not just words. This will be actions that take a variety of
forms around the world wherever terrorism is supported.
SMITH: We have seen some troops deployed.
SMITH: Where else do we expect to see -- can you tell us specifically what branches?
Can you give us any information on what deployment we can expect to see?
QUIGLEY: We have started moving some military forces outside the United States
and moving them forward to a variety of areas overseas. I can't be helpful to
you in regards to details because we would put at risk the lives of real men
and women. But America's military has a variety of capabilities. We will use
the right assets to accomplish the objectives that we have set out to do.
SMITH: Understood and respected.
If you would, the president is speaking this evening. We expect to hear some
reasoning and some other things. Can you give us any insight to maybe what we
can expect even?
QUIGLEY: I have no insight as to the contents of his speech. I'm sure it's something
he has spent a lot of time on in thinking about over the past few days. And
I believe indeed he has set the tone for the entire nation since the attack
SMITH: Where does that leave us as a nation? What are we prepared for? What
are we looking for?
QUIGLEY: Americans need to understand that this is going to be a long-term effort,
and unlike anything that we have ever tried to do before. It is not comparable
to any previous war that you think of war in the conventional sense. There will
be some of our victories in the months and years ahead that we'll be able to
discuss publicly, and some we will not. And I think Americans understand that
and are very supportive of the effort. Because this has been an attack on the
very way of life that Americans have earned over the years and they're not willing
to give that up. And that, I think, will support the effort on terrorism more
than anything else.
SMITH: Would you like to speak on anything regarding cleanup at the Pentagon
and the lives that, as they continue the search there?
QUIGLEY: Sure. I would say the progress here by a variety of organizations has
been so inspiring for the last 10 days. From firefighters, to police, to the
FBI, to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to soldiers here stationed
in Washington, D.C. Literally hundreds of people all coming together for a single
The building took a heck of a whack. Our offices were on the opposite side of
the building and even that far away and despite the strength of the building,
you could still feel the jolt.
A lot of people lost people that they love very much. I think there were a variety
of emotions that people that worked in the building went through. At first it
was uncertainty and fear; then it was anger; and I think the one that's today
in place is certainly grief for the ones that we've lost, but also a very quiet
resolve to see this through.
SMITH: The name Osama bin Laden has come up and the White House as well as the
Pentagon and the State Department all aspects [sic], they're quick to say that
he is a suspect but perhaps not the only. Would you like to speak on that?
QUIGLEY: I believe that we've got to start off with the understanding that Osama
bin Laden is a bad guy. He has been an enemy of what Americans stand for for
a long time. But this effort is much broader than just one man or one organization.
This is a network of networks that do not rely on any single individual to carry
out their tasks. So I think it would be short sighted to focus in on just bin
Laden, and if we could somehow get rid of bin Laden the problem will go away.
It won't. It is much more complex than that.
SMITH: And the U.S. is taking measures much more complex than just targeting
QUIGLEY: Yes, indeed. A variety of efforts in a variety of ways.
SMITH: Would you just sum up the whole situation? I know that's a lot, that's
a mouthful right there, but where do we stand right now as a unified country?
QUIGLEY: I am hard-pressed to think of a time in our recent history when I believe
America has been so united. We can argue about a lot of things in the family
that we call Americans, but when we are attacked we come together, and it's
just an amazing thing to see. Americans are not willing to give up their freedoms.
They are not willing to suffer attacks by terrorists. They are willing to pay
the price to help to eliminate this threat.
SMITH: Very good. Anything else you'd like to add?
QUIGLEY: No, I don't think so.
SMITH: I appreciate your time today. Thank you very much.