NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense
DoD News Briefing
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Sunday, Feb. 3, 2002 - 11:30 a.m. EST
(Interview with Sam Donaldson, ABC This Week)
RUMSFELD : What I'm saying, very directly, is that we have a series of countries on the terrorist list. Any number of them are active, developing weapons of mass destruction, and that they have relations with terrorist networks. And we must not sit idly by as a country, as a world, and accept that outcome, that eventually, if we wait long enough, eventually it's reasonable to expect that terrorist nations will provide weapons of mass destruction to terrorist networks.
We know the al-Qaeda were actively seeking chemical and biological weapons. There's evidence galore to that effect. We have to face that. It isn't a matter of scaring anybody, it's exactly what President Bush said. We need to consider the world we're living in and live with a sense of heightened awareness. And we can live in this world. We can do that.
Q : Mr. Secretary, I understand and take your point. Some cynics, of course, believe when you were saying that, you were tying it to the increase in the defense budget, that you and the president --
RUMSFELD : Oh, nonsense! No.
Q : I understand. These people in Washington, they say the darndest things!
RUMSFELD : (Laughs) There's the understatement!
Q : Let me just say that you were requesting, and the president, a 48-billion-dollar increase in the defense budget for the next fiscal year and over a five-year period up to 451 billion dollars, that's where it would be. That's a 120-billion-dollar increase. Now, the old question of guns versus butter then arises.
Let me just show you a chart of some of the cuts we understand the president is asking in domestic programs: Nine billion dollars cut in highway programs; a freeze in the Army Corps of Engineers projects; a cut of 180 million from a youth job program. Perhaps a cut of an addition 620 million in state grants for training and education. And the critics will say "all to pay for the expanded defense budget."
RUMSFELD : The reality is that the United States is now spending about three percent of our gross national product on defense. Back in the Kennedy and Eisenhower period, it was closer to 10 percent. In the Ford period, it was around five percent of our gross national product. Today, it's about three percent. It is certainly a percentage that our country can afford.
Second, if one thinks about it, we all got up today and went about our business, people going to church, people going to the Superbowl, people coming in to meet with you --
Q : And we appreciate it.
RUMSFELD : Thank you. And we did it because we can enjoy our freedom. Because we live in a world that's underpinned by peace and stability, for the most part. And it is our national security, the United States of America, at this time in history, that is able to contribute to peace and stability in the world.
And without peace and stability, we can't have prosperity, we can't be able to enjoy our freedoms, we can't have economic opportunity. That's so central.
You've been in war zones. You've been to Beirut. You've been to Kabul. You know what they look like. People are not on the streets. They're off the streets. The buildings are pock-marked. Roads are blown up.
Q : You're examining right now the case of Hasam
Quedam in which it is said that our Special Forces went in and
through a horrible mistake killed 15-21 people who were not
Taliban, but in fact supporters of the new government.
RUMSFELD : Is that a question?
Q : Yes, because you just said we don't go around killing innocent people. I take your point --
RUMSFELD : Well, we don't.
Q: -- except you've launched that investigation to see whether we, in fact, did.
RUMSFELD : Of course, we do. We always launch an investigation. I don't -- the commander and the command does. If there are legitimate questions raised about some action, it's perfectly appropriate for them to do exactly what they did and say "stop for a minute, we're going to go take a look. We're going to see what actually happened."
Now, is it possible that everyone's accurate? That is to say, that in that attack there might have been some people who were Taliban, there might have been some people who were al-Qaeda, and there might have also been some people that weren't? And in the same room. Because this is Afghanistan.
Q: Well, sir, we're out of time, but will you pledge that whatever the investigation shows, you will release that information to the American people and the world?
RUMSFELD: Why, of course.