Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Interview with Tony Snow on Fox News
The Pentagon
Arlington, Virginia
September 21, 2001
7:00 A.M. EDT

SNOW:Joining us from the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Secretary Rumsfeld, let's get your reaction first to the reports to the reports in the Japanese press that we are considering the use of tactical nuclear weapons? For those not familiar with the jargon, those are smaller grade nuclear weapons that can be used on tactical targets rather than strategic targets such as large cities.

RUMSFELD: We've not given consideration nor discussion to that particular issue. You're going to hear so many different things about what the United States may or may not do with respect to financial matters, or covert matters, or military matters, and I suspect that most of the people that are offering those suggestions are people who don't know much about what's going on.

SNOW:Meanwhile, a British newspaper is reporting at least some U.S. troop movements, I'm not going to mention either the paper or the movements. Are you worried that right now our dispatches with our allies are producing lapses in security?

RUMSFELD: Well, you cannot move forces and not have it eventually become known. We live in an open society. When somebody gets a phone call saying, be prepared to leave from your home in Georgia and go someplace within eight hours or twelve hours. He tells his wife, people see him go to the airport with his bag, and it happens. The same thing with friends around the world. We can live with that. We can live with that. We are going to be doing lots of different things in different places.

What we can't live with is people talking about movements who have knowledge. The ones who talk about it who don't have knowledge, I suppose that's inevitable.

SNOW:Let's talk about which of our allies are being helpful and which are not. The NATO allies seem generally to be onboard; is that correct?

RUMSFELD: Indeed. I think the action they took in the NATO Council with respect to Article V of the NATO Treaty was a unique, significant event. So too with the Rio Treaty, and the Australian agreement we have. But not just those close allies, the support has come from across the globe, and some of it's public and some of it's private. But I've just been enormously impressed with the response. I think there's a recognition in the world that we've always had terrorists, not so much in the United States, but certainly in other parts of the globe there's always been terrorists. But what you see now are networks, working networks, being supported by states, and using increasingly powerful capabilities. I mean, to the extent that proliferation problems continue, and people end up, terrorists end up with chemical and biological weapons, which their state sponsors already have. Clearly, people in the world have every reason to be deeply concerned about the problem. And every reason to step forward and help root out the people that are perpetrating these crimes.

SNOW:Yesterday, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on Capitol Hill arguing that if the United States were to include in its coalition to fight against terrorism such states as Syria or Iran, both of which we've identified repeatedly as state sponsors of terrorism, we would be, in fact, destroying the integrity of the mission. What must those two countries do to become parts of our coalition?

RUMSFELD: Our goal is to alter the behavior of the countries that are sponsoring and facilitating and financing and fostering and in some cases directing, and in other cases tolerating, terrorism. And we must get them to change the behavior and to create an environment that's inhospitable for terrorists, rather than one that's hospitable. And that's been the case for a long time. That's why those countries are on the terrorist list.

SNOW:Nevertheless, there are reports that we are talking to them, Syria and Iran in particular, about possibly joining us. Is that a good idea?

RUMSFELD: We are talking to most of the countries in the world, and we are soliciting support. We are soliciting information about the terrorists, and about the terrorist networks. And the way this works is, it's going to take a variety of types of assistance from a lot of countries, and a lot of people.

I would go one step further. Most of the states that are on the state sponsored terrorism list, in most of those states they have a dictatorial regime that represses and there are many people in those countries who do not agree with their regimes, and are willing and interested in having those regimes behave in a different way or be gone. And certainly there is another source of information for us in intelligence that could conceivably help us in this hunt.

SNOW:How credible is the Northern Alliance which has been fighting for some time against the Taliban in Afghanistan?

RUMSFELD: Afghanistan is a poor country, it's been pounded in repeated wars. The Soviet Union unloaded all kinds of weapons on them. And they're there, they're tough, and the factions in there are tough, and they live in a very difficult environment, a mountainous environment in many cases.

The Northern Alliance has been engaged in a battle with the Taliban for some period of time, and they're still there. And one can say, well, how much help can they be? Well, they can be a lot of help. First of all, they're the only thing on the ground competing with Taliban, and there are a lot of people, Afghans, who don't like the Taliban, who would prefer to have Taliban out of there. And these folks, they know the lay of the land, they know, in some cases, some targets that are useful, they have ideas about how to deal with the Taliban. I think that one has to say that they can be useful in a variety of ways.

SNOW:Mr. Secretary, a final question, is the Taliban on shaky footing right now?

RUMSFELD: Well, I guess only time will tell, Tony. Until something happens you never know if it's going to. I've always been impressed people ask me, for example, about some of these regimes, and I think back to how quickly the countries behind the iron curtain fell, the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania. It was a surprise that at a certain moment the people there who did not agree with those regimes felt it was the right moment, and they stepped forward, and they acted on their own. It was not some country going in and rooting it out. It was, in fact, the very people in those countries who could no longer tolerate living in those dictatorial regimes.

SNOW:All right. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, thanks for joining us.

RUMSFELD: Thank you.