23 October 2003
Rumsfeld: Multi-Prong Attack Needed to Reduce Number of Terrorists
Raises idea of a 21st century version of USIA
By Jacquelyn S. Porth
Washington File Security Affairs Correspondent
Washington -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says free people
are unable to defend against terrorist attack "at every place,
at every moment of the day or night, against every conceivable
type of technique" because the advantage of taking the offense
resides with the terrorists.
The only way to defeat terrorists "is to take the war to them
... go after them where they are, where they live, where they plan,
where they hide; (and) go after their finances ... the people who
harbor," assist, support, and finance them, he said, "so that the
number of new terrorists coming into the process ... is reduced."
Rumsfeld spoke to reporters at the Pentagon October 23 to mark
the 20th anniversary of the bombing of U.S. Marine headquarters
in Beirut and to respond to questions about a recent memorandum
he wrote to four senior defense officials about the prosecution
of the global war against terrorism.
The secretary recalled that the Beirut bombing killed more than
240 Americans in what he described as "an enormously violent event." Today
terrorists are being hunted "where they are, and we're rooting
them out and we're capturing them, we're killing them," the secretary
said. "It's difficult work," he added, and "It won't be over any
Asked if the Beirut attack provided lessons for the current war
on terrorism, Rumsfeld answered: "there is no question" that civilian
and military Defense Department officials seeking ways to combat
terrorism "go back ... to (the attack on the USS) Cole (in Yemen
in 2000) and they go back to all of the events that have occurred
where terrorists have been successful." He said "anyone who thinks
that free people can just hunker down and find a way to hide and
defend (in that way) against what's happening in this world of
ours" is wrong.
In response to another question, Rumsfeld said he was not disturbed
that the memo he wrote recently on anti-terrorism efforts was leaked
to the press. He said it is important to pose probing questions
to his senior leaders and others.
In fact, the secretary said, the memo subsequently "served as
a very useful vehicle" for discussing important aspects of the
global war on terror with a contingent of members of Congress.
Beyond raising issues in his memo about how the Defense Department
should be organized to combat terrorism over the long haul, Rumsfeld
said he also raised searching questions about how the broader U.S.
government should be organized. He referred, for example, to "the
fact that USIA (the U.S. Information Agency) doesn't exist anymore." And,
he asked, "Is it appropriate -- might there be a need for some
new element, a 21st century version of that" organization,, responsible
for public diplomacy "that could help the United States, as a country,
communicate with the world on some of these important issues?"
Rumsfeld came to the podium during a briefing designed to provide
an operational update on the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Air Force Lieutenant General Norton Schwartz, director of operations
for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pointed to recent military successes
in Afghanistan. For example, he said "Operation Mountain Viper" has
netted mortar rounds, rockets and munitions during search and destroy
missions in Kandahar and Orgun.
In Iraq, Schwartz said some 6,000 weapons caches have been identified,
about 5,600 have been eliminated, and another 100 are under military
guard. Rumsfeld said Iraq "is a country that has just enormous
amounts of weapons," and he expressed confidence that even more
ammo dumps would be located as part of the ongoing discovery process.
Among other highlights, Schwartz pointed to 18 Iraqis who were
recently detained by Iraqi border police as they sought to enter
the country from Syria. He said the Iraqi border police are proving
to be effective in intercepting "suspect personnel illegally crossing
the border." There is a major effort under way to secure Iraq's
borders, he added.
Schwartz was also asked about possible links between Ansar al-Islam
(AI) and Saddam Hussein loyalists. He said there are some indications
of links "between the former regime loyalists and some of the AI
seniors, but generally speaking, they are independent actors." The
military officer described AI as the main "organized terrorist
adversary in Iraq right now," and, he added, "we are concentrating
our resources on that."
Asked about possible links between AI and some of the recent suicide
bombers in Iraq, Schwartz replied: "We do not have a case, a convincing
body of information that would lead to a particular group. The
basic sense of it is, though, that this continues to be former
regime loyalists or recruited foreign fighters."
Rumsfeld and Schwartz made their comments as Deputy Defense Secretary
Paul Wolfowitz prepared to make another of his quarterly visits
to Iraq. He will be there four days to meet with Iraqi officials
and coalition forces.
(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)