of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Interview with Jane Clayson on the CBS Early Show
October 2, 2001
7:03 A.M. EDT
CLAYSON: The Pentagon has declared the nation's military ready. Yet some members
of the Bush administration have been calling for patience and a measured response
to the terror attacks.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is at the Pentagon this morning. Mr. Rumsfeld,
RUMSFELD: Good morning.
CLAYSON: As we just heard from Richard Roth, the president of Pakistan says
that U.S. military strikes against Afghanistan are inevitable and the Taliban's
days are numbered. Is that a message that the U.S. wished him to send? And are
U.S. strikes imminent?
RUMSFELD: Well, needless to say, we don't discuss operations or timing or specifically
what we're going to do or not do with our coalition partners. I think the important
thing is to go back to President Bush's speech, and it was very clear, and that
is that there is no way to deal with international terrorism except by taking
the battle to the terrorists and to the countries that are harboring international
CLAYSON: Well, Mr. Secretary, is part of the plan, then, to topple the Taliban
government, to replace the government in Afghanistan?
RUMSFELD: Well, the international terrorists, like al Qaeda organization, which
is very active across the global in some 50 or 60 countries, really could not
exist if it were not that a number of countries facilitate, finance, foster
and tolerate their activities.
The only way to stop the problem is to liquidate that network. And the only
way to liquidate the network, not just this one but the other terrorist networks
as well, is by making it very clear to the countries that are harboring those
networks that they'd best stop.
CLAYSON: Well, let me put it this way. Is replacing the Taliban a condition
that the opposition in Afghanistan is putting on their support of our efforts?
RUMSFELD: There are many opposition elements in Afghanistan. For the most part,
Afghan people don't support Taliban. They're fleeing. They're starving. Their
human circumstance is tragic. And there are factions against the Taliban; in
the south, the tribes; in the north, the Northern Alliance. And there are factions
within Taliban that don't like the fact that Taliban is supporting and fostering
the al-Qaeda network in their country. So it isn't a good guys versus bad guys.
There are all kinds of factions here. And the goal is to get that network terminated.
CLAYSON: The Taliban has said that they have Osama bin Laden in their control
and would turn him over if the U.S. presented evidence. Why not, Mr. Secretary,
offer evidence if it opens even the possibility that he would be turned over?
RUMSFELD: In the first place, the Taliban leadership says a new thing every
day. Second, the evidence is before you at the Pentagon and at the World Trade
Center, and the linkages to the al Qaeda organization and that terrorist network
are so clear and have been presented so clearly across the globe that one must
ask, how can anyone suggest that more evidence is needed?
CLAYSON: How concerned are you, Mr. Secretary, that a large military attack
on Afghanistan and the Taliban would destabilize that part of the world; would
destabilize Pakistan, for example, which has nuclear capabilities -- Egypt,
Saudi Arabia? Is that a great concern to you?
RUMSFELD: Well, I think it is important to emphasize this, that the United States
and our coalition partners went into a Muslim country in Kuwait and threw the
Iraqis out. We assisted the Muslim population that was subject to ethnic cleansing
in Bosnia and Kosovo. We were involved in humanitarian activities in Somalia.
We've been the biggest food donor in Afghanistan. And this is not something
that involves a religion. It is not something that involves even a country.
It involves terrorists. And that is the problem.
CLAYSON: But the destabilization of these countries, how big of a concern is
that for you?
RUMSFELD: There's no question but that everyone has to be sensitive to potential
secondary effects, and we are doing everything possible to see that we are sensitive
to those problems.
CLAYSON: In an interview with Dan Rather last night, Secretary of State Colin
Powell made a point of not ruling out an attack on Iraq. After we're done with
Osama bin Laden, will you turn your attention to states like Iraq?
RUMSFELD: Well, it's not for me. It's for the president. And the president has
been very clear. There are a number of countries on the terrorist list. There
are a number of countries that are known to be fostering and encouraging international
terrorism. And the president has properly pointed out that the only way to deal
with the problem of international terrorism is by taking the battle to them
and to the countries that harbor and facilitate those activities.
We just lost more people in the United States than we've lost in any single
event since the Civil War. This is a -- weapons are increasingly powerful. This
is not something that's small. It is large. It's important. And we need to work
with the other countries in the world to see that the scourge of international
terrorism is wiped out.
CLAYSON: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Mr. Rumsfeld, I appreciate your
time. Thank you.