of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers
Press Briefing on Operation Enduring Freedom
October 25, 2001
12:14 P.M. EDT
Rumsfeld: Good afternoon. The -- on September 11th, the terrorists struck this
building and the World Trade Centers, murdering thousands of innocent men, women
and children. We all know that terrorist networks are operating in dozens of
countries around the world, with the tacit or direct support, in some cases,
of the governments. We know that a number of countries supporting terrorists
and terrorist networks are the same countries that have weaponized chemical
and biological weapons -- agents, some of which are working to acquire nuclear
weapons and to develop ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States,
its friends and allies.
Last month, terrorists took civilian airliners and turned them into missiles,
killing thousands. If they had ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction
capable of killing hundreds of thousands, I don't think anyone can doubt but
that they would have willingly used them.
We've been awakened in recent weeks to new and previously unimaginable dangers.
That is why as we prosecute today's war on terrorism, the president has made
clear that we also need to be prepared to defend against other emerging asymmetric
threats, including the threat of ballistic missile attack against our cities
As you know, we've redesigned the U.S. ballistic missile defense research, development
and testing program so that -- to be unconstrained by the ABM Treaty, a treaty
that, of course, was left over from the Cold War, and after September 11th,
is even less relevant today.
We have said we will not violate the treaty while it remains in force. In recent
days, to keep from having it suggested that we might not be keeping that commitment,
we have voluntarily restrained our ballistic missile defense test program.
Specifically, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization has refrained from
conducting several test activities, each of which some lawyers could debate
might have been a violation of the treaty, were we to have proceeded.
As we all know, treaties and most legal documents have vagueness to them. We've
said we won't violate it; therefore, we do not want to be in a position of having
a small minority of people suggesting that we in fact are violating it. So we
have, on the following instances, decided not to go forward:
On October 24th, an Aegis radar on a surface ship was scheduled to track a strategic
ballistic missile test target, which it did not do. In a separate operation,
the Aegis radar was to have tracked a Titan II space-launch vehicle scheduled
for launch November 14th. During the October 24th test, the Aegis radar was
scheduled to have tracked the defensive interceptor; and during the same test,
the multiple object tracking radar at Vandenberg was to have tracked the strategic
ballistic missile target.
On test activities such as these, as I indicated, it is possible that someone
could raise an issue because of ambiguities in the treaty, and we do not want
to get into that debate. For some time now, we've advised the Congress and the
government of the Russian Federation that the planned missile defense testing
program that we have was going to bump up against the ABM Treaty. That has now
happened. This fact, this reality, it seems to me, provides an impetus for the
discussions that President Bush has been having with President Putin, and which
will continue here in Washington early next month.
MYERS: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Our campaign against terrorism continues. Much of yesterday's efforts were again
geared toward degrading Taliban forces arrayed against opposition forces. We
struck in nine planned target areas and operated against targets of opportunity
in several engagement zones throughout Afghanistan.
We used a total of about 80 strike aircraft with about 65 of them tactical jets
off our carriers; and between six and 10 land-based tactical aircraft, including
the AC-130s, with the remainder of the sorties being flown by long-range bombers.
We continued our C-17 humanitarian airdrop missions yesterday, delivering approximately
35,000 rations and bringing the total to well over 800,000 so far.
I have no new reports to share regarding potential tampering with humanitarian
food supplies. I noted that some question our warning yesterday because we wouldn't
reveal the relevant sources and methods of our intelligence. We anticipated
this, but we felt that we needed to highlight the reports for the safety of
the food distribution system.
We also flew Commando Solo broadcast missions yesterday and conducted several
leaflet drops as well. Principally, these were in the North and Northeast regions
Today we have a pair of images from Tuesday depicting a company of Taliban tanks
arrayed tactically in ravines and wadis outside of Herat, in western Afghanistan.
Our aircraft found the tanks and hit seven or eight of them, and the arrows
point to where the tanks were.
Our video clips are all from yesterday's operations from Navy F-14 and F/A-18
aircraft. Yesterday we showed you a strike on a motor transport facility outside
of Kabul. On our first clip, at the far left side of the screen, you can see
the warehouses we destroyed Tuesday. And yesterday, you can see, we hit another
building in this expansive maintenance complex.
The second clip shows a direct hit on the Taliban's central corps armored vehicle
set up in a defensive position to defend against Northern Alliance attacks near
the capital area.
And finally we have a clip that shows a direct hit on a wheeled vehicle. What's
noteworthy here is the size of the explosion, which indicates this vehicle may
have been a munitions resupply vehicle of some type, or a truck-mounted multiple
We have responded in the past few days as best we could to Taliban numbers of
alleged civilian casualties that have been linked to our strikes, and we've
also made every effort to report accurately on the very few occurrences where
our weapons have gone astray. And though we are concerned about any number of
unintended civilian casualties, to be honest, the one number, the one horrific
number that stands foremost in my mind, is the over 5,000 men, women and children
that were killed on 11 September, intentionally killed by the terrorists.
But even in light of this atrocity, the United States will never stoop to the
level of our enemies in our response. We will continue to plan and to target
and to weaponeer this campaign to eliminate al Qaeda and the Taliban, who support
them, while making every effort to avoid harming other victims, specifically
the Afghan people.
And with that, we're ready to take your questions. Charlie.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you have said repeatedly that you would -- that the
1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is outdated, no longer -- and should no longer
be in effect, and you've said you would not allow it to keep you from going
ahead with a robust R&D and testing program for ballistic missile defense.
Why, then, have you decided not to go ahead with these tests rather than tell
the Russians simply that you intend to no longer be a part of the treaty, to
withdraw from the treaty?
RUMSFELD: Well, the discussions with the Russians, as you know, have been taking
place between President Bush and President Putin, and between Secretary Powell
and Igor Ivanov, and between me and Sergei Ivanov, the defense minister, and
they are continuing. The president of Russia is due to be in New York and Washington,
and then Crawford, Texas, early next month. And certainly those subjects will
continue to be discussed.
What we have said is that -- the president has said it, Secretary Powell has
said it, I've said it -- that the treaty needs to be set aside, and that the
United States needs to go forward with a test program so that at some point
in the period ahead we'll have determined what's the best way to deploy ballistic
missile defenses. We are continuing with many aspects of the very robust test
development program. But as I've indicated, there are some things that some
people could raise, and we do not -- I do not want to put the United States
in a position of having someone raise a question about whether or not something
is a violation of a treaty. I don't think that's the position the United States
wants to be in.
So what we're doing is we are continuing with our program. To the extent some
things are not going to be able to go forward until we have set that treaty
aside and have arrangements whereby we can go forward without people making
that allegation, that -- we'll just have to do that. And it seemed to me it
was appropriate to acknowledge the fact that we have now arrived at that point.
QUESTION: Very briefly, are you still maintaining that the treaty must be set
aside or withdrawn from; or do you think some kind of accommodation could be
made with the Russians in conjunction with deep cuts in nuclear arsenals?
RUMSFELD: I think that those positions are not inconsistent. I don't think it's
either-or. I think it could be that -- all of those things are on the table,
as the president of the United States has indicated. Those are things he has
QUESTION: So you could reach some accommodation on the treaty rather than withdraw
from it, do you think?
RUMSFELD: I just don't know. We'll have to see what happens. But certainly those
discussions are going forward. And the one thing that's clear is that the United
States cannot stay bound to the constraints of that treaty and still do what
we've indicated we believe very sincerely we must do, and that is to develop
effective ballistic missile defenses.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, with regard to the Afghanistan part of the overall
campaign against terrorism, is it enough to keep the al Qaeda on the run, as
you've been doing, or is it necessary to eliminate them, to eventually bring
them to justice, the leadership?
RUMSFELD: The latter. Keeping them on the run is better than not keeping them
on the run, but the Taliban have clearly demonstrated that they are harmful
to the Afghan people, that they are determined to stay in league with the al
Qaeda invaders in their country, to the great detriment of the Aghan people,
that they're determined to be supportive and cooperative with the terrorist
activities of al Qaeda, and that for that reason, they simply have to be replaced.
QUESTION: You won't be able to claim success in this part of the campaign until
you've eliminated the leadership of al Qaeda? Is that right?
RUMSFELD: I think that success in this campaign is by creating a situation where
the al Qaeda and the Taliban are no longer committing terrorist acts or harboring
terrorists in that country and creating a threat to the rest of the world. It
seems to me that means that we simply must continue the pressure on al Qaeda
and on the Taliban until we've been successful in achieving that goal.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, yesterday Rear Admiral Stufflebeem said that he was
surprised at how doggedly the Taliban leadership was holding on to power. [
transcript ] Are you surprised? Is this turning out to be harder than you thought?
RUMSFELD: No. I think he's correct that they are dogged. On the other hand,
I guess it's all a question of what your level of expectation was.
But anyone, I think, who has watched the history in that country and seen the
fact that the people who are still in that country and who still have power
in that country seem perfectly willing to spend year after year fighting each
other, one ought not to be surprised -- at least I'm not surprised -- that they
are good at that task at fighting each other. (Laughs.) And what -- I guess
my expectation was that, that they would be determined, and that we have to
do what we can to assist the forces on the ground to defeat them. And that's
what we're doing.
QUESTION: Can you also just clarify the statement you made to the USA Today
editorial board, which quotes you as saying that the U.S. may never get bin
Laden? How likely do you think it is that the U.S. may never get bin Laden?
RUMSFELD: I think that was a headline in USA Today as opposed to a quote from
Rumsfeld. But I have not studied my remarks [ transcript ], and from time to
time I suppose things come out of my mouth not quite the right way. But in this
instance I will simply say that there's no question but that Osama bin Laden
is a leader, if not the leader, of al Qaeda. We have said repeatedly that we
have to either bring him and his associates to justice or bring justice to them.
We intend, fully intend, to find them and chase them to ground and root them
out and stop them from doing what they're doing.
You know, I think we were in one of those semantic discussions with USA Today,
and my comment was, Well, are you sure you'll get them? Well, I'm sure we're
sure trying. And do I expect to get them? You bet we expect to get them. Can
I know of certain knowledge what will happen in the future? I think I said something
like it's hard. It's like looking for a needle in a haystack. I suspect it's
easier to change the Taliban leadership over time than necessarily to simultaneously
or before the fact find a specific person. But we certainly intend to find him.
And we are doing everything humanly possible to do that, as well as -- not just
him, but the whole array of al Qaeda and Taliban leadership. So I have a feeling
that the headline writer wasn't in the meeting.
QUESTION: So, then, to clear up the semantics, Mr. Secretary, is the success
of this mission dependent on getting Osama bin Laden, and do you believe it's
possible the U.S. may never get Osama bin Laden?
RUMSFELD: Oh, you're trying to get me to do it again.
QUESTION: Well, it's -- (laughter) -- I'm just trying to clear up the semantics
in this question.
RUMSFELD: Oh, yes. Well, I think we're going to get him. How's that?
QUESTION: And is the success of the mission dependent on getting him?
RUMSFELD: The success of the mission, as I've defined it repeatedly, is to stop
terrorists from terrorizing the world, and to stop countries from harboring
terrorists. There's a nexus there between what I just said and getting the leadership
of Taliban and the leadership of al Qaeda and stopping them.
What is really important, however, is the outcome. And if the outcome is that
we have stopped terrorism, and we have stopped terrorist networks, and we have
stopped countries from harboring terrorists, I suspect that it will involve
bringing those people, including UBL (Osama bin Laden), to justice, or bringing
justice to them.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, for the last nearly three weeks now, we've been expending
tons of ordnance on the Taliban in Afghanistan. What will you tell people that
we've actually accomplished? I mean, Taliban is still there; they've gone to
ground. Al Qaeda is still there. Bin Laden is still there -- Osama is still
there. The Northern Alliance doesn't seem to have made any real headway. What
have we actually accomplished?
RUMSFELD: Well, it is, as I think we've all indicated, not something that one
measures by the number of bombs dropped or the amount of ordnance expended.
It is going to be measured over time as to whether or not we are successful
in stopping the Taliban leadership from harboring al Qaeda, and stopping the
al Qaeda organization from committing acts of terrorism that kill thousands
The fact that the forces in the north and south have not moved dramatically
-- although they have moved some, it's my understanding -- it seems to me does
not mean that the effort that's been expended has been wasted.
You've seen visually any number of instances where capabilities of the Taliban
and the al Qaeda have been destroyed. We know that we've taken out a large fraction
of what we believe to have been their original number of surface-to-air missiles.
We know they still have some. We know we've taken out a large number of the
total aircraft -- transport, helicopters, and some MiGs -- we've taken out a
reasonable fraction of those. And I could go through each category.
What does that mean? Well, it means that their ability, the Taliban's ability
to effectively oppose the forces on the ground that are opposition to the Taliban,
is degraded and diminished. And that's a good thing.
And that means that the circumstance for those forces on the ground has been
advantaged. They are better off today than they were before; they're in a position
to be more successful. The calibrations they make as to when they want to move
and how far they want to move, and what they want to put at risk in any given
day, week or month, are judgments they make. And we try to encourage those judgments
by providing ammunition, providing food, providing better targeting -- doing
what can humanly be done from the air to reduce the opposition forces in front
of them. And that's what's been going on.
So I think that there is progress that's been made.
QUESTION: What can the Pentagon do to keep the American public engaged in this,
so it doesn't -- since this is going to be a long operation -- that a certain
amount of boredom doesn't set in, as with Iraq. You know, every now and then
we'd go and we'd bomb a little something, and everybody yawned. Unless there's
a bombing here every month, how do we really keep the public engaged?
RUMSFELD: Well, I mean, don't underestimate the American people. They have a
pretty good center of gravity and good judgment. And they understand, I think,
the truth that we've repeated over and over, that this is not simply a military
campaign; that the people that are -- hundreds of people that are being arrested
across the globe are in fact providing enormously important intelligence information
for us; that the number of bank accounts that have been frozen is drying up
the capability of these people to function. And that in the case of Afghanistan,
I've just said the kinds of progress we have made.
You know, some people think that everyone has a concentration span of 30 seconds.
I don't think so. I think people reflect on what happened on September 11th;
they felt it very deeply. They recognize the threats that exist in our country
to their way of life, and they do not think that there is an easy fix today
for this problem. And there is no easy fix. There is no silver bullet. We've
said that here over and over again, and I think they understand that.
QUESTION: General Myers, on that line, is the U.S. doing all it can with airstrikes
to hit the Taliban frontlines, or is this a piecemeal attack of those positions?
MYERS: Let me talk to that in just a minute. But there was a comment made earlier
when you said the "Taliban has gone to ground." I think that's not
The Taliban has not gone to ground. They are still fighting.
And to answer your question, of the missions that we mentioned yesterday, and,
as you know, it'll probably be somewhere in that same level of effort today,
that the vast majority of those sorties go against the Taliban forces arrayed
against the opposition forces. So that's what --
QUESTION: But is it all the U.S. can do? Is it -- obviously there's a lot of
firepower there, and there are some saying that this is a piecemeal attack of
those positions. Is that an accurate description?
MYERS: Well, I don't know what the definition of "piecemeal" is. We
are -- one of the things we ask Tom Franks, the Central Command commander, every
day is, Do you have what you need to prosecute the campaign? And the facts are
that he does. I would not characterize them as "piecemeal". I think
we are -- have a -- that we are setting the conditions that we want to set in
that country that prohibits the Taliban from supporting al Qaeda, and then the
hunt for al Qaeda. So we --
RUMSFELD: You got to also remember the fact that there are a limited number
of targets. And to be effective from the air in doing what you wish to do on
the ground, you have to have the capability on the ground and from the air coming
together so that you can pinpoint targets that have a value.
QUESTION: But if --
RUMSFELD: And it is not a country that is rich in targets.
QUESTION: But if the U.S. wanted to go in and get those cities, we could, couldn't
RUMSFELD: Oh, destroy the cities?
QUESTION: No. Go in and take them over and wipe out the Taliban. Couldn't we,
with the firepower that's in place there?
RUMSFELD: Well, the Russians tried to do that, the Soviets, and had a long struggle
with it. We have no intention of going in and bombing civilian cities. We have
said repeatedly that we are not going to rule out various types of activities.
And we don't rule out, other than making every effort, as we've said, to avoid
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary -- oh, I'm sorry.
MYERS: I was just going to say that, to just definitely answer this, this is
proceeding according to our plan. And we are at this point. So, I mean, that's
-- we're -- we don't feel this is piecemeal. We feel this is very deliberate,
very well planned. And success is yet to be determined, but we think we're having
QUESTION: General Myers?
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, back on the bin Laden question, you said you think
you're going to get him. But can you share with us, have you made any progress
down that road since September 11th? You've laid out the progress you've made
in a number of other areas.
RUMSFELD: This is exactly what led to that headline. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: But --
RUMSFELD: I was honestly trying to explain the truth. The truth is that you
-- we are working on a broad front across the world.
One portion of the world is Afghanistan. One portion of the problem in Afghanistan
is UBL -- Osama bin Laden.
Now, have we made progress? And I said -- and I, at great risk, will say again
-- that until you have him, you do not have him. So what is progress? Until
he is no longer functioning as a terrorist, he is functioning as a terrorist.
There isn't any progress. There either is -- you either have him or you don't.
And so I don't quite understand how I can answer it any better than that.
QUESTION: Well, I guess the follow-up to that is: Are you satisfied with, number
one, the intelligence you're getting about that? Is he on the run? Is he stopped
in his tracks at the moment? Is he still functioning?
RUMSFELD: Well, he went on television not too long ago, didn't he? So he's functioning.
Does he move? Sure, he moves. Have we -- have we located him? No -- in a way
that allowed us to do anything about it, no. Are we continuing the effort? You
bet. Do we expect to get him? Yes.
QUESTION: You just said you haven't located him in a way that allows you to
do anything about it. Can you expand a little bit and tell us to what extent
you have located him?
RUMSFELD: Well, there's information that's after the fact, and there's information
that's sufficiently before the fact that allows you to consider it actionable.
And it's the latter that is difficult.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you've talked with some clinical detachment about measures
of success there. Isn't one of the measures to kill as many of the al Qaeda
and Taliban forces as possible? General Myers talked about the 5,000 dead Americans.
I mean, is part of this just killing off these guys?
RUMSFELD: Oh, you bet. And they're trying to it every day, and in fact, they're
doing it every day. And you've -- those trucks that you saw and those buildings
you see hit are not empty.
QUESTION: General Myers, are you using cluster bombs quite a bit, like combined-effects
munitions and that sort of weapon?
MYERS: As we said before, we're going to use the entire spectrum of our conventional
weaponry. And, Tony, yes, we have used cluster-bomb units.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary?
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that cluster-bomb question? Has there --
QUESTION: To get back to the bombing campaign, there are some military analysts
who are suggesting you could bomb the Taliban frontlines with B-52 strikes,
B-2 strikes. Why isn't that being done? And as you say, the Taliban isn't --
RUMSFELD: We're using B-52s and B-1s.
QUESTION: Against the frontline troops?
MYERS: Where appropriate, we will use --
RUMSFELD: Yeah. To the extent we have targets that, that --
QUESTION: What about frontline troops, though?
QUESTION: In the area bombing?
MYERS: Yes. If it's a -- if the target is appropriate to the kind of bombs we
can drop off the B-52, which are generally unguided, and in numbers, then we
will -- we will do that. And we have done that.
MYERS: In the case of the B-1, we can do either. We can do precision drops,
or we can do general purpose bombs. And as the targets make themselves available,
we're prepared to do that.
QUESTION: And also, if it is such a tough and tenacious foe, do you see perhaps
more of a role for ground forces, particularly since the Taliban is heading
into the cities and so --
RUMSFELD: We don't have anything to announce with -- in regard to that.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you shed any light on this debate in town about
whether this latest anthrax attack involves anthrax that's been weaponized --
or that's weapons grade? Some people say the sort of dividing line is whether
it's resistant to antibiotics. Others say it's the dispersal capability. And
what does that imply if this is weapons grade?
RUMSFELD: I guess my instinct is to leave that to the people who are dealing
with the domestic issues.
QUESTION: Over the last several days, there have been reports from the region
of several villages that have been hit, and lots of pictures on Al Jazeera and
Middle Eastern television of bodies lined up. The Pentagon has been unable to
respond to those two named villages. General Myers, today can you give us an
explanation of what the intent was? Were there American bombs dropped on those
And, Mr. Secretary, are you frustrated about the delay in letting those pictures
and that message get out, and two days later the U.S. still is having trouble
responding to it?
MYERS: Well, as we said earlier, every time there is an allegation of unintended
casualties, civilian casualties, we go on the hunt to try to figure out what
is ground truth the best we can, given that we're generally not there on the
ground to do that ourselves. And so we use imagery and other means to try to
determine fact from fiction.
On those two villages, I don't -- we'll have to -- I don't know exactly what
you're talking about. But every --
QUESTION: Chukar and Tarin Kot.
MYERS: Right. But every instance of those kind of allegations, we -- you know,
we can usually spot bomb craters near things. And when we make a mistake, we
tell you when we make a mistake.
QUESTION: So, two days later, there is no knowledge of whether it was our weapons,
their weapons, or --
MYERS: Right. That's clearly one of the things that is frustrating about this
particular conflict. As has been said from here before, the Taliban are not
constrained by the same rules that we play by. We saw that in the way they treated
the Afghan people, when they would shoot women for whatever reason that suited
them. So people that will do that will probably lie about this as well. We don't
know how those casualties came about. But we will do our best to give you the
truth, as we know it.
RUMSFELD: We've talked about asymmetries. There is an asymmetry here. There
is three places that ordnance is coming from. They're coming from U.S. and coalition
air power; they're coming from the Taliban and the al Qaeda shooting up in the
air; and they're coming from both the al Qaeda, Taliban, and the opposition
forces shooting at each other. So there's a lot of ordnance flying around, and
when people die, it is possible that it could have come from any one of those
The difference -- the asymmetry is they're on the ground in the areas where
they are in Afghanistan, and we're not. They are able to say anything they wish,
and we -- don't -- prefer not to do that. We prefer to stick to the truth. Therefore,
when they come running out with these charges, it seems to me that one ought
to recognize that, as the general said, it's our task to find out what we can
from the air, generally, not from the ground, and to do it as promptly as we
can, and to be as open and forthcoming as we can, which we have and are being.
QUESTION: Which works for an American audience, but for a Middle Eastern audience,
where at least by what you can judge from their press, the United States is
losing the battle of public relations, anyway, of what it is you're trying to
do with these images constantly coming out.
RUMSFELD: It is -- it does make it difficult. I will say, however, that I don't
get a chance to see as many television shows as I'd like or read as many newspapers
as I'd like. But I have seen in recent days a number of instances where refugees
are being quoted to the effect that the Taliban are dummying up things, to the
extent that they are using mosques for command and control and for ammunition
storage, and for the meetings they gather for with the knowledge that the United
States and the coalition forces do not have any desire to shoot a mosque. So
they're taking advantage of those things.
They've also seen that they've been lying to the people about the food, contending
that it is unsafe and threatening to make it unsafe, and that therefore food
that's in control of the Taliban has got to be considered questionable.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary --
RUMSFELD: So, I think that over time the truth comes out. (Laughs.) And you're
right: images where they are parading journalists up and down in front of bodies
that they contend were the result of U.S. air strikes when they're not nonetheless
are images that can be persuasive. I also think that the truth can be persuasive
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the truth may come out over time, but do we have that
amount of time, given the --
RUMSFELD: You bet we do. We do.
QUESTION: General Myers, the international community has expressed concern about
the use of cluster bombs because it is resulting in thousands of unexploded
cluster munitions across Afghanistan. To what extent are you sensitive to that
situation, and secondly, can you confirm whether Russia is supplying tanks to
the Northern Alliance?
MYERS: On the latter, I can't confirm that. On the former, Jamie, it goes back
to the basic issue of targeteering and weaponeering the particular target. We
take great pains to do that. And we only use the cluster munitions when they
are the most effective weapon for the intended target. There have not been a
great number of them used, but they have been used.
QUESTION: Are there thousands of unexploded cluster bombs spread across Afghanistan?
MYERS: Oh, I don't think -- no -- no.
QUESTION: The United Nations reported the other day -- just yesterday that there's
a village in western Afghanistan where there are hundreds of people trapped
in their homes because of unexploded U.S. cluster bombs in the village. And
this was the United Nations quoting people who had just come out. Can you talk
about that particular instance?
MYERS: No, I can't talk about that specifically. I've not heard that before.
But it would be like other alleged incidents: you have to find out what the
ground truth is, and we will do that.
QUESTION: General, with the winter --
RUMSFELD: Yes. Go ahead.
QUESTION: We've heard from this podium maybe a week and a half ago that the
Taliban was eviscerated, that the communications were nearly cut off, we're
almost there. Now we're hearing that they're dogged. Can you just give us some
perspective? Is this the nature of the conflict, or did the military miscalculate
what it would --
RUMSFELD: Oh, look. We are trying to have daily briefings. (Laughter.) There's
been an enormous appetite for daily briefings. And when I get up in the morning,
I say, By golly, we're going to feed that appetite. (Laughter.)
Now, Rick Myers and I aren't here every day and available every day. Therefore,
people come down, and they do a darned good job. I have listened to some of
them, and I think they're terrific. Sometimes they might use a word that I might
not, or sometimes they might use a word that they won't again. (Laughter.) But
-- (laughs) -- but that -- no reference to any particular word, now. (Laughter.)
No, the general who was down here and said that may have been referring to a
particularized thing that happened in a particular area. There's no question
that all of us have had the same message and the same -- the message is that
this is -- we're not setting time tables, we recognize the difficulty of the
task, and we recognize the importance of the task, and we recognize that there
are people out there actively lying about the events that are taking place on
the ground and that we have to do everything humanly possible continuously to
make sure we let the world know that this is not against the Afghan people,
it's not against the country of Afghanistan, it's not against any religion,
and it certainly isn't against any race, it is against terrorists, and for darn
QUESTION: Going back to the ABM Treaty for just a brief moment, what would you
say to those people who say that what's -- restraining on the ABM Treaty now
may seem to be a quid pro quo to reward the Russians for allowing --
RUMSFELD: That's not true, is what I would say. We are not rewarding or penalizing
anybody. We are voluntarily taking some steps to avoid having people who might
do so contend that something we might do could be characterized as not consistent
with the treaty. We don't want to put our country in that position. And it is
not a bone to anybody. It is simply the fact that the president and the administration
are engaged in discussions with the Russians. We believe they are proceeding
in a satisfactory way. And we believe that, in fact, at some point going forward
we'll have a way to permit our country to go forward with the kinds of testing
and development of ballistic missile defenses that we believe is in the best
interests of our nation.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary --
RUMSFELD: And -- and -- and -- and -- and that's the last question.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, are you --
RUMSFELD: We're through! (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Are you taking the anthrax vaccine, Mr. Secretary?
QUESTION: You're not being inoculated, you're not taking a series of tests.