of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Interview with Matt Lauer on the NBC Today Show
September 20, 2001
7:03 A.M. EDT
LAUER: Donald Rumsfeld is the secretary of Defense. Mr. Secretary, good morning
RUMSFELD: Good morning.
LAUER: Jim Miklaszewski said a second deployment order is on the way. Have you
signed that yet?
RUMSFELD: I really don't talk much about deployment orders.
LAUER: So you won't tell me if that's coming in the near future?
RUMSFELD: No, I don't intend to discuss deployment or operations or intelligence
matters at all during the course of this activity.
LAUER: The president has said that this effort, this military action, will be
long and sustained. Why is it necessary to move troops so quickly, only eight
days after the attack on America?
RUMSFELD: Well, we, of course, do need to reposition forces in various places
of the world so that we're able and capable of doing whatever the president
may request of us. And we have a significant presence in that part of the world,
but we also have a presence in other parts of the world. And as the president
said, this is a problem that's worldwide. It's not restricted to one country
or one particular terrorist network. So we will be moving forces and we are
moving forces, and we do that fairly continuously.
LAUER: There's a report in the New York Times this morning, Mr. Secretary, that
says that somewhat of a rift is developing in the higher ranks of this administration
over the scope of retaliation. Some want Iraq to be targeted because of Saddam
Hussein's sponsorship of terrorism in the past, and I guess to take away his
ability to do so in the future. Would you call Iraq a legitimate target right
RUMSFELD: Well, first of all, there is no rift developing in the administration.
The Department of State, the Department of Defense and the president are all
on the same sheet of music. It's the president's policies. The president has
a range of advisers. He likes to hear different views.
I think there's no question but that there are a number of nations that are
on the official public list of terrorist nations, nations that either have sponsored
terrorism or been involved in it. And we know that a number of those countries
are in the Middle East.
LAUER: And so all of those nations on that list would be at this moment legitimate
RUMSFELD: You know, those are judgments that the president has to make. And
I think the important thing is to listen to his words. His words have been very
consistent, and they are that terrorism is a direct attack on our way of life
and it was a direct attack on the United States of America. And the only way
to deal with that kind of an attack is in self-defense, to go after the terrorists
that are perpetrating those crimes. And one must also go after the nations that
are harboring and financing and supporting and facilitating and tolerating those
LAUER: You talk about nations that support those terrorists. If it's found that
an individual living somewhere in a foreign country has funneled money to someone
like Osama bin Laden, in your opinion, Mr. Secretary, would that individual
be a legitimate target for military action or a target for law enforcement?
RUMSFELD: You know, you can't really say. The president has pointed out that
this is a very broad-based effort. It does include diplomatic. It might be diplomatic.
It might be political. It might be economic. It might be financial. It might
be law enforcement. It might be military. And it depends entirely on the situation.
But what is necessary for our country is to recognize that we are seeing a terrible,
terrible attack involving the loss of lives of thousands of people. A weapon-of-mass-destruction
attack somewhere in the world would involve multiples of that, and we have an
obligation to root out terrorists and to persuade countries that are helping
terrorists to stop doing that. And that means we'll bring into play the full
range of capabilities of the United States.
And I must add, this is not a U.S. problem. There were 50, 60 nations who lost
people, some of them hundreds of people, in the attacks that took place here
on September 11th. That is why we're seeing such overwhelming support from across
LAUER: When you talk about that support, have other countries pledged military
support, or have countries at this point only pledged logistical support or
even financial support?
RUMSFELD: It runs the full spectrum. Some countries really don't have the capabilities
to provide military support. They're offering various other types of support.
LAUER: Which countries have pledged military support?
RUMSFELD: My instinct is to leave the indications of what a country has decided
to do by way of participating with us to those countries to announce. I can
assure you that it runs the full spectrum. And there are some countries who,
because of their circumstance, are helping us very privately and secretly.
And I must say, we need help. This is such an enormous problem and it's so difficult
to root out these terrorist networks. I mean, we're not going to root out a
terrorist network with bombers or with cruise missiles. It's going to take people
on the ground providing information. And, God bless them, they are, in fact,
providing that kind of information and it's being very helpful.
LAUER: And in just a few seconds left, Mr. Secretary, in terms of life in this
country in the future, how much more of a military presence should people, citizens
of this country, be prepared to see in their daily lives?
RUMSFELD: Well, I hope it's minimal. I think that we always have to find that
balance between our freedom and our security. And when people are fearful, they're
willing to tolerate very careful baggage checks at an airport, for example.
But basically we are a free people, and to the extent we yield to the terrorists
and give up those freedoms, we've lost something very special.
LAUER: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Mr. Rumsfeld, thanks very much.