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DoD Newsbriefing: Tuesday, February 26, 2002

DoD Newsbriefing: Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Source: News Transcript from the United States Department of Defense. DoD News Briefing: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Tuesday, February 26, 2002. Also participating were General Richard Meyrs, chairman, Joint Chief of Staff and Victoria Clarke, Assistant Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs. The fact sheet distributed during today's briefing is now on the web.

Rumsfeld: Good afternoon. September 11th was not just a series of attacks against the United States; it was an attack on the world. Citizens from more than 80 countries died that day, innocent men, women and children of every race, religion and region. Many countries were attacked by terrorists before September 11th . Some have been attacked or endangered since September 11th. And any could be attacked tomorrow. In short, the war on terrorism is truly a global struggle, and it affects all nations.

After September 11th, many countries assembled to fight terrorism. Many dozens of countries have contributed in a variety of ways, all-important: military, diplomatic, economic, and financial. Some have helped openly, others have helped less openly. Many leaders courageously spoke out against terrorists. Many nations have provided Troops, materiel, humanitarian aid, information, overflight and basing privileges. The United States has been joined by not just its traditional allies in the struggle against terror, but by many countries that are not normally part of such alliances.

In the Afghanistan effort alone coalition partners are contributing something in the neighborhood of 6,000 troops to Operation Enduring Freedom and to the International Security Assistance Force. By comparison, U.S. forces in Afghanistan now total under 5,000. So there are more ISAF and coalition forces from other countries in Afghanistan than there are U.S. forces.

As I mentioned last Thursday, a member of the Australian Special Forces was killed, and other coalition troops have been seriously wounded. These are fine men and women who are putting their lives on the line to defend freedom.

Generally I have not spoken in detail about the contributions of other nations that are supporting the war on terrorism, preferring to let them describe for themselves the roles that they are playing. But I do think that all of these countries deserve credit for their substantial and valuable contributions. A number of coalition partners have offered information that they are comfortable having us make public, and here's a sample of some of the things that they're doing in this war on terror.

Please keep in mind that for the sake of time, this is only a very partial list, and it's not possible to mention every conceivable contribution by dozens and dozens of countries, although I believe there is a handout that's going to be made that will go into considerably more detail.

And I see up here we have the groupings of various countries that are involved, and I -- that's not the chart I was looking at the other day that separated out the kinds of activities, ground forces from others, but apparently that was --

Clarke: (Defense Department spokesperson): It will become clear in the fact sheet.

Rumsfeld: It will become clear in the fact sheet. Good. For example, 12 countries have contributed more than 2,800 personnel to ground operations in the campaign. Eight countries contributed more than 1,500 people to air operations. Eight countries contributed more than 13,000 people to naval operations, and some eight countries contributed 350-plus people to civil operations in Afghanistan.

Australia, for example, has Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan performing the full spectrum of special operations missions.

Bahrain has a frigate and associated personnel supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in the region.

Canada has more than 2,200 personnel in the region -- land, air and naval people. Canada's Light Infantry battle group has deployed nearly 700 personnel and 12 armored reconnaissance vehicles to Kandahar for security and combat operations.

The Czech Republic has over 250 people deployed to Camp Doha in Kuwait to perform local training and management support in the region.

Great Britain has deployed a Naval Task Force, provided aircraft throughout the region, participated in Tomahawk missile operations, cleared mines in Afghanistan, and is of course leading the 16-country International Security Assistance Force.

Italy provided the carrier battlegroup to support combat operations in the North Arabian Sea, in all deploying more than 13 percent of their entire naval forces for Operation Enduring Freedom.

Jordan, as you have heard, established a hospital in Mazar. The Jordanian hospital has already helped some 18,000 patients, including nearly 400 military personnel, 7,600 women, 5,700 men, and 4,900 children, and performed some 230 surgeries, and admitted about 150 inpatients.

Earlier this month Spain opened a hospital in Bagram, Afghanistan, and has already seen more than 1,000 patients, including some 400 children.

The Republic of Korea's air force has transported over 45 tons of humanitarian relief supplies, valued at some $12 million. The Republic of Korea has also pledged $45 million in aid for reconstruction in Afghanistan.

The UAE has supported humanitarian assistance operations by airlifting supplies into Central Asia.

Again, this is simply an illustrative example of the broad effort from dozens and dozens of countries. We all recognize that we still have a long way to go. Terrorist networks still exist, and they operate in dozens of countries, and they continue to threaten us.

I did, however, think it would be helpful to pass out this detailed information, so that more people can become aware that is not simply a U.S. operation, but it is truly a broadly based multinational effort.

General Myers.

General Myers: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and good afternoon. We continue our efforts to gather intelligence inside Afghanistan on terrorist activities and operations, as well as to search for any remaining Taliban and al Qaeda. In the last 14 -- 48 hours, 14 detainees were turned over to us from Pakistani authorities, and two others from Afghan forces. And that puts at 194 the number of detainees inside Afghanistan and 300 in Guantanamo Bay.

In the Philippines, an Army investigation team from Fort Rucker, Alabama, arrived to try to determine the cause of MH-47 accident. The focus of their efforts right now remain on recovering those still missing, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all the family members of those who lost loved ones in this incident. The remains of three of those killed in the crash arrived at Dover Air Force Base yesterday.

The Philippine navy and their coast guard are helping us in our efforts to locate and recover the seven missing people, if we can, and we thank them very much for their assistance.

I also want to add my thanks to that of the secretary's for the coalition efforts. This global war on terrorism will require an effort by all nations who desire peace and security, and during my recent trip to the region, I saw firsthand the superb contributions that the troops of several different nations were making to defeat terror and secure peace.

And with that, we're ready for your questions.

Rumsfeld: Charlie?

Question: Mr. Secretary, the president said yesterday that you and he were reading from virtually the same page, paraphrasing, on the Pentagon's controversial new Office of Strategic Information. He said that the American people -- and, we assume, the world -- will not be misled on U.S. strategic policy. Are you going to kill that office?

Rumsfeld: I was -- I met with Undersecretary Doug Feith this morning, and he indicated to me that he has decided to close down the Office of Strategic Influence.

Question: Why? Could you tell us why?

Rumsfeld: Well, you know, there have been so many stories about this office, and commentary, some portion of which has contained inaccurate speculation and assertions that the office would -- could become involved in activities that the department has in fact not done, is not doing, and would not condone. I guess notwithstanding the fact that much of the thrust of the criticism and the cartoons and the editorial comment has been off the mark, the office has clearly been so damaged that it's unclear to me -- it's pretty clear to me that it could not function effectively. So it's being closed down.

Question: Mr. Secretary, from the outset, though, within days after September 11th, I think you were one of the first in the administration to stand here and say it's imperative for the United States to reach out and in fact educate the rest of the world, if not the Muslim world --

Rumsfeld: Yeah.

Question: in terms of what the U.S. is and will be doing.

Rumsfeld: We --

Question: So how can the Pentagon do that effectively, or is it going to be --

Rumsfeld: We'll just have to do it with the offices that existed previously. There's no question but that we do have an obligation, as you remind us all, to -- we had to tell the world that this was not an effort against the Afghan people. We had to find ways to do it ,and we had an aircraft that flew over with radio broadcasts, and we dropped leaflets. We did a whole series of things that are characterized as influence or strategic influence or information operations. And we have done that in the past, and we will do that in the future. We told people where they could get humanitarian assistance. We told people the difference between cluster bomb packages and food packages. We had to defend [against] the lies that the food packages were poison and tell the Afghan people that they were not poison; in fact, they were culturally appropriate for them. So there's lots of things that we have to do, and we will do those things. We'll just do them in a different office.


Question: So those activities will be conducted, but -

Rumsfeld: The activities that are appropriate to this department we certainly will be doing.

Question: And disinformation is not one of those activities?

Rumsfeld: It most clearly is not.

Question: Mr. Secretary?

Rumsfeld: Yes.

Question: Reminiscent of Vietnam, United States has some, quote, "advisers," unquote -- maybe up to 300 -- in Colombia. And now that that civil war is heating up, does United States plan to send more U.S. troops down there to help the government in place fight the guerrillas?

Rumsfeld: The government has been trying to negotiate with the terrorist groups or narcotraffickers or revolutionaries, guerrillas, organizations in that country. There are several. They have been unsuccessful. They've been patient. And very recently, they decided -- the government did -- and as I understand it, most of the leadership in the country decided that the time had come to call an end to the negotiations and reenter that area that had been a "free zone" of sorts.

Our role has basically been conducted by the Department of State, as you know. And it has been a very strictly -- it has been restricted to the narcotics and drug problem more than the terrorism problem -- well, more than the basic problem that the government of Colombia's having trying to perpetuate its democracy. Because of the laws and because of the policies that exist, we are constrained as to what we can do, and, indeed, they are constrained as to what they can do with the equipment that we've provided to them. And I know that those issues are all under review as a result of the policy of the government of Colombia and the phone calls that several of us have received from the president of Colombia on that subject. And I suspect that the government -- our government will be reviewing those things, and the Congress will, and is asking: What is an appropriate way to be of assistance?

Question: But it is possible, after this review, that you would send troops down to aid in the fighting?

Rumsfeld: I think it would be wrong for me to say, "Yes, it is possible" or "No, it's not possible." It's not for me to say. It's going to be decided at a different level of government, and I'm sure there'll be the full typical interagency and intergovernmental discussion that normally takes place.


Question: Mr. Secretary, can you update us on the status of the creation of military tribunals or military commissions and how that stands today?

Rumsfeld: Sure. We've had some additional meetings on the subject, and it's getting increasingly clear as to how we would probably structure the tribunals -- that's not the right word; that's what they're called in the newspapers. The "commissions" is the word that's in the military order, and I probably ought to use that. We'll undoubtedly have a few more discussions about it. But I feel that in the event the president does make a decision to assign someone to a commission, one or more people, that we'd be ready to go within a very relatively short period of time.

Question: Any estimate on time frame, or -- ?

Rumsfeld: I don't have any idea who he might assign or when he might assign or how many he might assign. That -- as you recall from the order -- is all in his hands. All my job was to do was to get ready and be prepared for that, which now we are within a matter of, oh, a relatively short period of time of being ready.

Question: Have there been detainees currently identified as possible --

Rumsfeld: Not to my knowledge. We've been doing our sort, and that information then, of course, goes to the intergovernmental group of the Department of Justice, the FBI, the CIA, DOD. And at some point there'll be some process that the president will review it and make some judgments about it.

Question: Mr. Rumsfeld, you said that some of the reporting about the Office of Strategic Influence has been off the mark. But isn't it in fact the case that at least some of the proposed activities of this office, even if they weren't things that were approved, included discussion of planting false information in foreign news media? Wasn't that one of the things that was discussed as a possible activity for this office?

Rumsfeld: You know, it's -- if we think about this, this office was, I think, established sometime shortly after September 11th for the reason that was discussed earlier, because of the need -- there already was an office, as I understand it, in the Joint Staff called Information Operations. And that office was serving as the linkage with the White House and the Department of State and the rest of the government on the subject of information. And Doug Feith properly decided that he felt that there ought to be an office of the Secretary of Defense, a civilian office, that monitored that activity. And that's when that office was -- began to be stood up, and people started being brought in to do it. It's my understanding that they have even to this day not developed a charter, that it has been under discussion within the office. I've not seen such a charter. So what it was to do was an open question, even today as it ends its very short, prominent life. (Laughter.)

I don't have -- I can't say to you with assurance exactly what was discussed by people in that office or by other people with that office. What I do know is exactly what I have said; that regardless if something may or may not have been discussed down at a lower level, this department is not going to do what you said. It was not, it has not done it. We had -- we will not do it, we are not doing it now, and we will not in the future.

Question: Well, it just seemed that you were saying that the office -- that you were closing this office because it had been essentially tainted by inaccurate press reporting.

Rumsfeld: I said some of the press has been off the mark, and that is a fact.

Question: But that was --

Rumsfeld: Some of the editorial comment and some of the cartoons. But that's life. We get up in the morning and we live with the world like we find it. Therefore, the office is done. (Laughter.) It's over. What do you want, blood?!


Question: Have you got any?

Question: Mr. Secretary, has Pentagon credibility suffered?

Rumsfeld: I doubt it. I hope not. If it has, we'll rebuild it.

Question: Mr. Secretary?

Rumsfeld: Yes?

Question: Back to detainees. A minute ago you said, I think, or you indicated that apparently none of the detainees at this point appear to fit the bill for a candidate for the tribunal. If that turns out to be the final --

Rumsfeld: I don't know that I said that. If I did, I probably shouldn't have.

Question: Could you say what your view is on that?

Rumsfeld: Yes. We've got several hundred detainees. The first sort has taken place for intelligence. The next sort is law enforcement, and that is starting and is proceeding. At some point, the people who understand all this in the law enforcement business will make recommendations. And I wouldn't even begin to suggest that the people who haven't even been sorted yet, from a law enforcement standpoint, might or might not be appropriate for a commission. I think some may very well be. But that, as I say, is a judgment not for the Department of Defense.

Question: And those who are not, what would you do with them?

Rumsfeld: I suppose the other options are as follows: One is to put them in the criminal justice system in the United States. Second would be to put them in the military justice system in the United States. A third would be to send them back to their countries of origin. A fourth would be to release them for reasons that it appears that there isn't any law enforcement purpose left and there isn't any further intelligence we think we could get. A fifth -- if I'm counting correctly -- would be to just keep them, as you would a person you did not want to get back out there and rejoin a Taliban or an al Qaeda outfit, and keep them during the period of the conflict so that they can't go back and kill more people. That's kind of the range, I think.

Question: Does the current group of about 500 seem to be the -- roughly the final --

Rumsfeld: I wouldn't say final. We still have a lot of people we've not looked at completely that the Afghans and the Pakistanis have. And we keep getting more. I mean, some people are turning themselves in. Other people are being captured. We keep doing sweeps around the country. So the numbers, you know, they keep moving around on us.


Question: Can I follow up on some of that? When you go through these categories -- a couple of questions. Have you made any decisions about, you know, what the make-or-break points are, why someone would be sent to a tribunal versus some other option? What are some of the reasonings behind that? And when said that you've made some decisions you feel confident you would be ready to go within a short period of time, can you describe for us in any more detail what these commissions might look then? What is it that you've decided? How would this all be done, if you're that, you know, close to finalizing --

Rumsfeld: Right, we're pretty close. My inclination -- we're trying to -- I'm trying to think through the question as to whether it makes any sense at all to go out and lay out the way that we think preliminarily we would conduct the tribunals, or the commissions, I guess it the word we should be using, until we see the people who have been assigned to them. It may very well be that after we look at the people that get named for it, that we might want to tweak the preliminary -- or correction, the near-final views that I have and that others have.

I feel we've done a very good job of due diligence. We've brought together a terrific panel of outside people who have helped us think this through and offered their advice and counsel on it. And we've checked it with the Department of State and others who -- Department of Justice -- who have an interest in this, a legitimate interest. And we're close to finishing up.

Whether we should announce that before we actually have some warm names and faces that we can look at and say okay, if that's what we're supposed to be doing, trying these people in this commission, how do we feel about all of these things that we've come to near final conclusion on.

Question: So are you saying -- if I'm understanding you right -- that this system of justice that you're going to administer would be -- the cases might be unique to the person you're prosecuting? In other words, you would -- if I am understanding you right, you would tailor a commission specifically to the person who would be standing before the commission, after the fact, after they're brought before it, or as they're brought before it? It would be unique to a person, that it wouldn't be a uniform system?

Rumsfeld: I don't know the answer to the question. It's not clear to me. But because I don't know whether it might -- if you think about it, the criminal justice system and the military justice systems do have a good deal of discretion and people are handled differently in both systems, and they both produce a just outcome. There would be really little difference in terms of the fact that there would be a degree of discretion.

The judges, for example -- if you watch judges behave, they've got judgment they can use -- discretion they can use as to how to handle various aspects of the trial. Those are the kinds of things that would be left probably to a convening authority or an appointing authority. Some things, I think, would be common across the board for everybody and probably would not change.

Question: Can you describe at all why someone would be sent to a commission, versus not how these initial cuts and decisions will be made?

Rumsfeld: Well, I know how the cuts are being made. What they're -- we're doing first, as I've said, is we're looking very carefully at -- first is intelligence. We're gathering that. And second is the law enforcement interest in those people. And they are beginning that process now, and as they begin to look at these people, we know the first cut is that no one who's an American would come to a commission. That's part of the way the military order's written. So that's an easy cut. If there's an American involved, he's not going to go to the commission.

The other cuts are the ones I described. We send people -- we'd in most cases prefer to have people go back to their own countries and be tried there. We want as little of this as we can possibly do. What other judgments the Department of Justice might make in their recommendations, if you recall, the military order calls for the Department of Defense, I believe, and the Department of Justice to make recommendations to the president with respect to who might or might not be assigned.

But until you look at who's assigned, I think it might be helpful to see -- for example, there might be a difference between one person being assigned a commission to be tried and 300. It -- you might have to do it differently. You might do it in a different location, depending on quantity and the nature of the charges. So we'll just have to see.


Question: Have you reached a decision yet on the future of the Pentagon's anthrax-vaccine program?

Rumsfeld: No.

Question: You have not. Any sense when you will? I mean, do you plan on starting it again across the board or limiting it to certain numbers of soldiers? Is there any sense of that yet?

Rumsfeld: I'm sure that Torie can get you an answer to that from Pete Aldridge and David Chu. I just happen not to be current. And when I said "No" that quickly, I should've said, "Not to my recollection." I think they have -- are reopening that company.

Clarke: Provisional staff -- the company reopened with provisional staff. We're looking at it in the broader context of all vaccine programs.

Rumsfeld: So it was when the FDA certified that company for operation and production of that vaccine. Then we have a linkage with HHS and Secretary Thompson. And that is what is being looked at for the total issue with respect to the vaccine.

Question: May I do a follow-up on decisions -- just a quick follow-up --

Rumsfeld: (Inaudible.) Just a second. I'll be right there.


Question: On one of the Sunday talk shows you indicated that conducting a manhunt is not really a military task.

Rumsfeld: It's not what we organize, train and equip for. We have to do it, and we are doing it.

Question: But that was my question: Do you want to get the U.S. military out of the job of hunting for Osama bin Laden --

Rumsfeld: No.

Question: You're going to stay in that --

Rumsfeld: Oh, you bet. You bet.

Q Mr. Secretary?

Question: Just a quick follow-up on (inaudible), if you will.

Rumsfeld: Yes.

Question: Last week when you were with us you gave an explanation obviously supplied to you by people at Central Command on what happened at those compounds, how people were killed, what have you. And there was a reporter here who gave a different version, saying he was there shortly afterwards.

Rumsfeld: And he did that.

Question: And you said "I want to talk to you." Did you learn anything different? Have you felt that you are being properly and accurately advised by the military, or is there something else you'd like to share with us?

Rumsfeld: I have -- I had, at the moment that he was talking knowledgeably, had no question at all but that he was accurately reporting what he saw, what he heard, what he picked up. I also have no doubt in my mind but that the Special Forces who were there are, to the best of their ability, accurately reporting. And I made the point that if all of us went out on the corner and watched a traffic accident, we'd probably all go off and have a slightly different version about exactly what happened. And that's kind of the nature of the beast. And I have not -- all I understand is that it's complicated on the ground, it's difficult on the ground. We always feel very badly and deeply regret when people are killed who should not have been killed, and who were not -- it was not the intention to kill.

As I said then, conversely, there's no question but in my mind but that they were fired on first. And when people are fired on, they have every right and responsibility to fire back and defend themselves and defend their colleagues. It may very well turn out -- there's never been a conflict where there has not been loss of lives of Americans to friendly fire. That has happened in this conflict. There has never been a conflict where people have not been killed --

Question: I was bombed.

Rumsfeld: Pardon me? What'd you say?

Question: The concerns are --

Rumsfeld: What'd you say?

Question: Me?

Rumsfeld: Yeah.

Question: I said I was bombed.

Rumsfeld: You were?

Question: In World War II, yes, sir.

Rumsfeld: It happens. It's just a terrible thing. And there's also never been a conflict where there haven't been innocent people who were not combatants who were killed by fire either from their own people or some -- the other people, the other side.

Question: The concern was, I think, that he said people were shot in bed, and one has to think of My Lai in Vietnam and were you being conned and were you really given the truth as far as you can see it.

Rumsfeld: And General Myers answered, I thought, very forcefully and very explicitly. When people go in, when there's fire and people are wounded, they nonetheless are put into cuffs, plastic strip cuffs, as they must be.

They are -- can be very dangerous, even though they're wounded. And if someone then died, there isn't a doubt in my mind but that they -- if they had cuffs on and they died, they were not shot with cuffs on.

Question: So it was no My Lai?

Rumsfeld: Absolutely not. Why in the world would that even come up?

Question: Mr. Secretary --

Question: Mr. Secretary --

Rumsfeld: Oh, I promied you. I'm sorry.

Question: Going back to the military commissions, you were saying that there might be some rules that would apply to all of them. One of the more controversial issues several months ago was that if it were to be a death sentence, it would take the unanimous opinion of all those on the commission. Can you at least say whether that has been established, or are there any other things that you could outline that --

Rumsfeld: Sure. That has been one of the issues that's been addressed by the outside panel. It's been addressed by the inside people -- panel. We've all come to what strikes me as a unanimous conclusion with respect to it, and it's not for me to start dribbling out pieces of it, because -- and let me explain why.

Justice is achieved as a result of a total process. The criminal justice system has a whole series of elements. Let's say there's 12 elements. And let's say there's 12 elements in the military justice system, and let's say there are differences between them. The fact that there are differences does not mean there's an absence of the possibility of a just outcome; it simply means that when you look at the totality of each, they do in fact produce what is considered by society, all of us, to be a fair outcome.

If one starts taking out any one of those 10 or 15 elements and talking about it in isolation, they miss that important point. And therefore it would be unuseful to do anything other than set out the entire package, so that then responsible people can look at it, judge and nod and say, "Yeah, I get it. That's different from this, but nonetheless the totality of it is going to produce a just outcome."

Therefore, I'm not going to get into the individual thing on capital punishment or burden of proof or all of the various elements, review panels, the 10 or 12 things that we've addressed at great length.


Question: (Off mike) -- 10 days ago the State Department released its -- sort of the new kidnapping policy, saying that they would -- that the government would look at kidnappings of civilians, American civilians, and possibly take some action. What -- perhaps this is for General Myers, and you could weigh in -- What capabilities is the military prepared to bring to bear in that? Is it a Special Forces mission? Is it a conventional mission? And are you putting any parameters on what it is that the military should be doing or shouldn't be doing in this?

Myers: I'll take that.

Rumsfeld: You better! (Laughter.) I'll be happy to, too, but --

Myers: First of all, Pam, you're absolutely right. The policy was broadened to include not just Americans that are in official status overseas. So that's item number one, as you said.

Item number two is that as we review hostage situations, it will be done on a case-by-case basis. And I guess it's fair to say that when you do that, you really can't

-- you can't rule out anything. You know, in some cases we -- and in most cases we like to work through -- if there's a host government, we like to work through that host government in assisting them in resolving the situation. And sometimes that's providing -- maybe we can provide information, or maybe we can provide manpower, whatever it is, and it could probably take many, many forms. And then you get down to the point where perhaps military force might be useful. But in -- like I said, in the vast majority of the cases, that will be done through the host government, if there is one that's responsible and on scene.

Question: Mr. Secretary?

Rumsfeld: Yes?

Question: For about the past two weeks, Central Command has had a report on 15 contested incidences (sic), going back to the beginning of the war, that has not, so far, been released. Have you reviewed this report? Have you approved its release? And why is it taking so long for Central Command to give it to us?

Rumsfeld: Did you ask General Franks that yesterday, or whenever you were with him?

Question: Unfortunately, I was not at the briefing.

Question: He wasn't asked that question.

Rumsfeld: He was not asked that question?

Question: No, there were limited questions. It's very hard to get a word in edgewise.

Question: Unlike you, here, where we can ask a minimum of -- (off mike) -- (laughter).

Rumsfeld: You mean it doesn't work well?

Question: It works pretty well. We're grateful for the access.

Question: No, no -- (laughter).

Question: The bottom line is where is this report?

Question: The bottom line is I didn't get to ask my question yesterday, okay? (Laughter.)

Question: Do you know?

Myers: I don't -- about the specifics of the --

Rumsfeld: These -- what did you say, 12 or 15 --

Question: About 15 incidents, going back to the beginning of the war.

Rumsfeld: Well, we know about one of them, because we reported on it the last session.

Question: Right, that was one of them.

Rumsfeld: Yeah. And then we know about another of them, that involved the fire on three tall folks in white robes who were alleged to be scrap collectors. I mean, we discussed that one.

Question: But there were two -- two of them were friendly fire incidents, friendly fire bombings. Some of them go way back to the beginning --

Rumsfeld: Well, I think the friendly fire bombing, I know I've reported on one. It had to do with coordinates. There were two. One was south in Afghanistan, and one was at Mazar early on. And we reported on both of those here. I can remember doing it on one.

Question: But these are the, you know, kind of official, written --

Rumsfeld: It had to do with the coordinates entered into the weapon's fire control system. And it appears that the coordinates that went in were the ones that were provided to the people in the plane, which were the coordinates of the individual on the ground.

Question: Mr. Secretary, if we can go back --

Rumsfeld: Now, there may be another handful or so that have not been, but I don't think there's anything like 15.

Question: I mean, they include alleged civilian casualties in two villages in the south, two incidences (sic) of civilian -- alleged civilian casualties in the east --

Rumsfeld: If you want to give us the list of ones you feel have not been responded to, we will dig out what our response has been where we've responded, and try to get an answer for the ones that have not been responded to.

Question: Mr. Secretary, if we could go back to where we started this briefing, your very opening statement about the contribution of all the other nations --

Rumsfeld: It has been big!

Question: Could you tell us a little bit of why you remain so philosophically opposed, though, to the United States doing more in the area of peacekeeping? I know you've said a lot of other people have stepped up to the plate, but what's your feeling about not getting the U.S. involved in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan?

Rumsfeld: I don't think I've ever said I was philosophically opposed.

Question: Well, could you -- how do you feel about it?

Rumsfeld: I'm open-minded. (Laughter.)

Question: I'm thinking you said actually that you are uncomfortable with the idea because it creates a dependency in that nation.

Rumsfeld: But that's not philosophical -- (laughter). My goodness. I'll tell you -- I mean, the truth is this.

We have an end strength that is what it is. We have a lot of people who served in the military, finished their time, and we're not letting them out. We have stop-loss or -- whatever -- loss orders on them, and they are being kept in during a period when they had made other plans to go off and do other things. We have called to active duty enormous numbers, tens and tens and tens of thousands of Guard and Reserve, away from their homes, away from their families, away from their employment, away from their employers, away from their own businesses, away from their responsibilities in fire departments or police departments or hospitals or whatever all across the United States of America. And we're keeping them in the military because we have a circumstance that is difficult for our country.

We also have a whole lot of Americans that are doing -- military people doing a lot of things that are not military jobs. And it seems to me that if that's the case, that what we ought to try to do is to have the American military, the men and women, do less jobs that are not military, and come back into the military functions of our government and our defense establishment and free up those people who are being held against their preference from those stop-losses and free up those people who have been activated in the Guard and Reserve and are perfectly happy to do it and doing a wonderful job, but at some point they do need to go back to their normal lives and families and employment.

Question: So the U.S. military is stretched too thin to start taking up another peacekeeping operation in Afghanistan.

Rumsfeld: I like the way I phrase it. (Laughter.) I think that we organize, train and equip and recruit for people to come in and serve in the military in military functions. And to the extent we can have as few people in uniform doing non-military functions, I think we better serve ourselves, our country and our personnel.

Question: Sir, Bosnia and Kosovo: are you having discussions with coalition partners, as seemed to have had happened very quickly after September 11th, on having allies or friends take over some of those responsibilities that U.S. people are doing?

Rumsfeld: We have had discussions, and we are on a trajectory that goes down in Bosnia. It's not the United States alone, it's the United States with our allies and friends. And General Ralston has been doing an excellent job managing that process so that we can bring the total force there down. And I have been visiting with other countries, as has Secretary Powell, about how we can free up some of our other people who are doing various things that can be characterized as peacekeeping.

We are making a contribution, philosophical or non-philosophical, as it may be, to the Interim Assistance Force there in Afghanistan by providing some logistics, some airlifts, some intelligence. We are also providing a quick reaction force availability in the event that the ISAF has some difficulties, which I hope they don't. So it's not like we're not making a contribution to the security in the country. I think we are; indeed, I know we are.

Question: Mr. Secretary, the scrap collectors, please?

Rumsfeld: The alleged.

Question: The alleged scrap collectors.

Rumsfeld: Even a mass murderer gets the word "alleged" in front. (Laughter.) And --

Question: Over the weekend -- over the weekend you said after viewing the Predator video, the assumption that these were scrap collectors is nonsense.

Rumsfeld: I meant with an understatement, on a Sunday morning when I was watching my language. (Laughter.)

Question: Would it be advantageous to publicly release that video, and would you ask the CIA to do that?

Rumsfeld: See, now, if I answer that, then the implication is it's the CIA's video.

Question: Whosever's video it is, would you ask that agency -- (laughter) -- to release that video?

Rumsfeld: That's better phraseology.

That's a tough call. I've thought about it. I'm -- it would be a delight for me to be able to do it for you. It really would. You would take that scrap picker-upper idea and heave it very rapidly.

Question: How about a private screening?

Rumsfeld: (Laughs.) There you go.

One of the problems with showing something like that is it is revealing of our capabilities. And I -- the idea that a whole lot of people around the world are going to end up taking a look at exactly what we're able to do and how we do it, it seems to me if you put it on a scale and balance the advantage of doing it so that we satisfy everyone that they're not scrap collectors against the disadvantage of having a whole host of people who don't wish us well learn an awful lot more about exactly how we do these things, it seems to me that I come down on the latter side of not doing it, as much as I'd enjoy it.

Question: Help us understand, what's on the tape that you saw, just generically describe it, that makes you come to such an adamant conclusion? I mean, there's something on there that convinced you.

Rumsfeld: It's not me. I was not involved. But it convinced the very responsible people who were involved in that process.

Question: But when you saw the tape, what did you think?

Question: But you saw it, you said you --

Rumsfeld: General Myers has already characterized it in a previous briefing as I recall.

Myers: I did? (Laughter.)

Rumsfeld: You don't recall?

Question: What did you think, General Myers?

Myers: (Off mike.)

Rumsfeld: Well -- he says to me, "How far do I go?" (Laughter.) And the answer is, not very far. (Laughter.)

Myers: I knew that before I asked that question. (Laughter.)

Question: No, but you're obviously quite adamant --

Myers: We saw individuals, and you could determine to some degree size, relative size. You could see how -- their actions, and their actions were not -- they weren't bargaining for scrap metal, it didn't appear. They were -- you could see deference paid --

Rumsfeld: That's enough.

Myers: Have I done enough?

Rumsfeld: (Laughs.) You've done well.

Thank you very much.

Question: There's a report from Pakistan that a U.S. aircraft was fired on --

Myers: Yeah, we've heard the report. We're checking with CENTCOM; they don't have that report.

Question: You have no confirmation.

Myers: No, no confirmation.

Question: Thanks.

This transcript was prepared by the Federal News Service Inc., Washington, D.C. Federal News Service is a private company for other Defense related transcripts not available through this site, contact (202) 347-1400.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).