of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Interview on CBS Face the Nation
September 23, 2001
MR. BOB SCHIEFFER: Today on Face the Nation, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
on the coming war against terrorism.
What will this war look like? Is America prepared? We'll look at this issue
from all angles in a special, expanded edition of Face the Nation.
We'll talk with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. We'll talk about how Pakistan
is helping the United States with its ambassador, Maleeha Lohdi. Three influential
senators will give their views on the war and the terrorist threat: John McCain,
John Kerry and Bob Graham. And we'll get expert analysis of the entire issue
with former defense secretary Bill Cohen, Tom Friedman of the New York Times,
and Abbie Joseph Cohen of Goldman Sachs.
Gloria Borger will be here, and I'll have a final word on survivors. But first,
the secretary of defense, on Face the Nation.
ANNOUNCER: Face the Nation, with CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent, Bob
Schieffer. And now, from CBS News in Washington, Bob Schieffer.
MR. SCHIEFFER: And the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, is in the studio.
Thank you for coming, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY DONALD RUMSFELD: Good morning.
MR. SCHIEFFER: The Taliban now says that Osama Bin Laden, they're seeking him
to see if they can issue the request to tell him to leave. But they also say
they don't know where he is. Should we take them at their word?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Of course not. They know where he is.
MR. SCHIEFFER: And what should we do? Or what are we saying to them?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I think we have to think about Afghanistan in a different
context. First of all, there are many Afghan people who are repressed, who are
starving, who are fleeing from the Taliban. There are any number of factions
within the Taliban that don't agree with Omar, the man who contends that now
they can't find the person they have been harboring for years. There are many
in the Taliban who prefer that the Taliban not harbor Osama Bin Laden and the
al Qaeda network. So, it is not as though there is a front and that there are
good guys and bad guys. There are many tribes. There is the northern alliance.
There are tribes in the south. And it is a very different kind of a conflict
and a problem. What we have to do is to see that those who have been harboring
terrorists stop harboring terrorists.
MR. SCHIEFFER: When you said that they know where he is, you sound very certain
of that. How can you be so certain?
SEC. RUMSFELD: They know their country. They had been fighting against the Russians
there, the Soviets there for years. They have been fighting among themselves
in the tribes. They have -- they're hearty, tough people. They have networks
throughout the country. And it is just not believable that the Taliban do not
know where the network can be located and found, and either turned over or expelled.
MR. SCHIEFFER: You have been understandably reluctant to discuss any kind of
troop movements. Certainly that's understandable. Let me just ask you the general
question: is the United States now in the position to strike?
SEC. RUMSFELD: What we have been doing since the day of the attack is getting
our forces positioned in various places around the world. This is not an Afghan
problem. This is a worldwide problem of terrorist networks. And let there be
no doubt about it the -- the al Qaeda network is in at least 60 countries, and
they are just one of many networks. And what we've been doing is getting our
capabilities for -- located, positioned, arranged around the world, so that
at that point where the president decides that he has a set of things that he
would like done, that we will be in a position to carry those things out.
And second, the United States government, even more importantly, has been getting
itself arranged across the government -- the Department of Treasury and the
State Department, and the Central Intelligence Agency as well as the Defense
establishment -- to help the world understand that it is a broad-based effort,
not a military effort alone. But, it's going to have to go after political,
and diplomatic, and economic interests -- financial interests.
MS. BORGER: Mr. Secretary, are you still convinced that Osama Bin Laden's network
SEC. RUMSFELD: "Still" suggests I was once convinced of that, which
MS. BORGER: Oh, are you convinced --
SEC. RUMSFELD: -- which was not the case. I've never been convinced that that
is the case. There is no way in the world that a network can function as effectively
over such a long period of time, with such excellent finances, and false passports,
and all of the intelligence information they had to have, without the being
fostered, and facilitated, and assisted, and financed by states, and by businesses,
and by non-governmental organizations, and by corporations. It is a -- it is
a large network.
MS. BORGER: Well, last week on this show, Colin Powell said that as of that
moment you had not found any Iraqi fingerprints, for example, on this particular
terrorist act. Is that still the case?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I am not going to reveal intelligence information about what
we know. What we do know is that the states that are on the terrorist list --
and Iraq is one of them, and so is Syria, and so is North Korea and Cuba, and
so is Libya -- that those states have over a period of time harbored and assisted
terrorist organizations to engage in terrorist acts in other countries. That
we know of certain knowledge. As the president said, what we're looking at today
is what -- how are those states going to behave going forward?
MR. SCHIEFFER: There is considerable pressure building in various quarters --
both in the Congress, some members of Congress, and others around the country
-- that we ought to go after Iraq. Are you feeling that pressure?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I think that the president has a set of decisions and calculations
he has to make. And he is making them, and he's making them very well, in my
judgment. This is not a quick effort -- a battle, an event, television event
with cruise missiles ending it, with a signing ceremony on the Missouri at the
end of World War II -- that isn't what this is about. What the president is
doing is he's looking at the totality of this problem and the full capabilities
of our country and of all the other countries that have joined us. I mean, it's
been a wonderful outpouring of support across the world, and in this country,
because it's going to take that -- it's going to take people providing scraps
of information that are going to enable us to do the job we need to do to stop
countries from helping these people.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you about that. There are some reports that perhaps
we're not getting what we have asked Saudi Arabia for. Can you comment on those
SEC. RUMSFELD: We have -- insofar as I'm aware, we have gotten everything that
we -- from Saudi Arabia that we have asked them to do. Now, we have not asked
them to do some things, but I have been in touch with the Saudi leadership,
and there is no question but that they are our friends and that they are determined
to deal with this problem of terrorism just as we are. The important thing,
however, is -- is that we have to remember that every country has a different
circumstance. And every country is not going to be engaged, or agree with, or
be involved in everything we do. The message I would leave is this: that the
mission determines the coalition, and we don't allow coalitions to determine
MR. SCHIEFFER: Secretary Powell said last week that Iran has made a rather positive
statement in all of this. He wouldn't give us any details of that, but he said
it is worth exploring. Have we explored? And where does that stand?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, the United States government is exploring with as many
countries as is humanly possible ways that they can help us in this effort.
And -- and we are getting help from countries in some instances that are surprising.
We are also getting help from people in countries that one would be surprised.
And we need that help, because that information will be what will help determine
MR. SCHIEFFER: Have we ruled out the use of nuclear weapons?
SEC. RUMSFELD: We -- we -- the United States, to my knowledge, has never ruled
out the use of nuclear weapons. We -- we have always said, if you'll think back
to the Cold War, that we would not rule out the first use of nuclear weapons
because there was overwhelming conventional capability that we felt that it
would add to the deterrent, and so we have never done that.
What we need to do, it seems to me, as a country, is to recognize how different
this situation is, and then the traditional -- think of it, the deterrence that
worked in the Cold War didn't work. We were just hit by an asymmetrical attack
that President Bush, in his Citadel speech, before he was ever sworn into office,
cautioned the world about and said we must transform our military. He was right.
MS. BORGER: Mr. Secretary, this morning Time Magazine is reporting that U.S.
law enforcement officials have found a manual on the operation of crop dusting
equipment. Does that mean that we now need to be concerned that these terrorists
were intent on dispersing chemical and biological weapons?
SEC. RUMSFELD: We can't know that for certain. We can suspect it. And one of
the other pieces of evidence that is clear in open publications, we know that
the countries that I just listed, that have sponsored terrorism for decades,
are countries that have very active chemical and biological warfare programs.
And we know that they are in close contact with terrorist networks around the
world. So, reasonable people have to say to themselves that when you find that
kind of information, it ought to cause us to recognize that those are dangers
that we need to worry about. And the way we worry about them, it seems to me,
one way is to -- is to re-energize our effort against the proliferation of these
weapons of mass destruction throughout the globe. It's a terribly important
effort, and we've got to get other countries to start working with us to a much
greater extent than they are.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Two -- two final questions. Number one, should the United States
lift the executive order that was issued by President Ford on assassinating
-- on assassinations? And number two, can you tell us, does this operation have
a new name, and can you tell us what it is?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The executive order on assassinations that was signed by President
Ford is something that President Bush may or may not address and it's not for
me to be making announcements on that subject. And I -- and I honestly do not
know if it's even under review at the present time. We have plenty of things
we can be doing without that.
MR. SCHIEFFER: And what about the name of the operation?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The name of the operation is being changed. It will probably
be changed later today. And we want to find a name that is representative of
the effort, and is certainly -- in no way at all would raise any question on
the part of any -- any religion or any group of people.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Thank you.
MR. SCHIEFFER: Thank you. When we come back, we're going to talk to the Pakistani
ambassador, Maleeha Lohdi, in a minute.