Defense Department Briefing, December 16, 2003
|Tuesday December 16, 2003
U.S. Department of Defense News Briefing
(Participating was Gen. Pace, Joint Chief of Staffs Vice Chairman.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: They tell me this could be the last press briefing in this studio. Is that possible?
QUESTION: It is.
SEC. RUMSFELD: You mean until it's painted, or permanently?
STAFF: Probably for about three or four years, anyway.
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Laughs.) Oh, then it's not the last --
SEC. RUMSFELD: No problem. Strike everything after "good afternoon." Yeah.
These have been important days for the Iraqi people. Seven months ago, statues of Saddam Hussein were pulled to the ground in Baghdad, and across Iraq, the Iraqi people celebrated their liberation. Now the man who built those monuments to himself while terrorizing innocent men, women and children has been captured, a common fugitive found hiding in a hole in the ground.
In April, the Iraqi people were liberated in fact; and this weekend they were, in a sense, liberated in spirit. With his capture, many Iraqis can now dare to be convinced that the regime of Saddam Hussein is truly finished.
When the coalition liberated Iraq, we told the Iraqi people that he would not be returning except as a prisoner to face justice, and certainly the U.S. forces have now delivered on that promise.
If you think of the images we've all seen in recent days, finding one man in a country the size of California, that ends up in a rural area, not in a major farm building at all but in a small, adobe, mud-bricked building, in a hole, covered hole, as a matter of fact, with a carpet over the cover, it suggests how hard it is when one is looking for something particular, a person or a thing. It's a very different thing to find an army and fight it or find an air force or a navy and fight it. But the images we looked at ought to remind us all of how difficult the task is, how much persistence is required, and how important it is to take scraps of seemingly disparate information from widely different locations, piece them together, work them in a timely way, and then be poised, cocked and ready to move in a matter of minutes or hours, not days or weeks, because time-sensitive targets don't wait.
If you think about it, he buried -- I forget what it was, Pete -- 10 or 12 aircraft at one point, that no one knew were there. These are jet aircraft, big jet aircraft, under the ground, in the dirt. And in the last analysis, he buried even himself in the dirt.
As we appreciate the achievement of the men and women in uniform, I think it's important not to lose sight of a fundamental fact; namely, that the global war on terror continues. The capture of Saddam Hussein is important, but the war on terror is not about one man and it is not about one country. As the president has said, we remember the lessons of September 11th, the day when more than 3,000 innocent people were killed here at home. And we still face terrorists -- terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, and across the world -- who seek to harm our people. And the war on terror will not be over until those terrorists have been defeated.
As we prepare to celebrate the holidays, I think it's a good thing to remember the U.S. and coalition forces who have given their lives for freedom. And we also ought to remember the now some-116 Iraqi security force members who have given their lives as well. And thanks to them all, the Iraqi people face a better future.
Challenges remain, but the coalition forces will see the mission through. Many of those are people who are serving in our armed forces are far from home during the holiday, and certainly they and their families are in our thoughts and prayers.
Let me note one other major milestone in the war on terror that took place in Afghanistan today. During my recent visit, I had a good discussion with President Karzai about the highway linking Kandahar to Kabul that had recently been completed. That highway was officially opened and dedicated today. The link between Kabul and Mazar is also nearing completion, and progress is being made on other portions of the ring road.
Though that is certainly less dramatic news than the capture of Saddam Hussein, it is important. It will facilitate commerce. It will help attract foreign investment. It should improve revenues for the central government. It should improve security for the people of the country, while helping to unify the country by linking the various regions to the capital.
So Afghanistan, like Iraq, is making progress on the path to self-government and self-reliance.
General Pete Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is now prepared to speak to you.
GEN. PACE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
I had the privilege of visiting our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq about two weeks ago, and as you would expect, their morale was very high. They were very focused.
When I asked them what it was I could do for them, more often than not, they said, "Please tell our families how much we appreciate their love and their support and their sacrifice at home." So thank you for giving me this opportunity to do just that for those troops.
And on behalf of all of us, to all the families out there who are taking care of things at home while your loved ones are serving overseas, thank you, especially during this holiday season.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Charlie?
Q: Mr. Secretary, you spoke earlier of using scraps of disparate information. Is Saddam cooperating in any way whatsoever? Is he providing any information that's leading you to resistance or perhaps billions of dollars that he stashed away and has used to help pay for the resistance?
And the 1st ID's indicated that the papers found with him were a treasure trove of such information. Could you give us anything on that -- (off mike)?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I have seen those reports that intelligence information has been gathered up during the course of that operation. I have asked George Tenet to be responsible for the handling of the interrogation of Saddam Hussein. And his people -- he and his people will be the regulator over the interrogations -- who will do it, the questions that'll get posed, the management of the information that flows from those interrogations. And my instinct is to leave it there.
I've noted that various people who saw him early on have been out opining about his condition and his circumstance. In direct answer to your question, I think that characterizing his general relationship with his captors would -- probably the best word would be "resigned," I think, rather than what you used.
Q: Mr. Secretary, is there any evidence that Saddam Hussein was in any way involved in the current insurgency or attacks against U.S. troops? And if that is the case, would that in any way change his status, prisoner of war status, as far as the United States is concerned? Would the U.S. seek some sort of legal remedy against Saddam Hussein?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I think that there are a whole host of people in countries that have reason to feel they have some standing -- to use the legal word -- with respect to Saddam Hussein and how he might or might not be prosecuted for various things. He is being accorded the protection of a POW, but he's not being legally described as one at this stage. He, clearly, is being treated under the Geneva Convention as -- with the protections of the Geneva Convention, and is being treated humanely.
The lawyers are carefully looking at the question you posed, and it is conceivable that to the extent he was involved in the post-major combat operation terrorist activity that's taken place in the country, that that could, in one way or another, affect charges that could be brought against him.
But it's not for me to get into that. As the president said yesterday, there are a lot of people with interests in this. It will be handled well. And the people who are the proper legal authorities are addressing a whole host of questions, many of which are being asked and discussed in the press, and many of which haven't even been thought of yet.
Q: Let me just follow up on that. General Hertling, with the 1st Armored Division, said that documents captured with Hussein show that he was giving guidance to some of the key figures in the insurgency. Would you agree with that?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I have not seen the documents. I would have no reason to disagree with an individual who has seen information. But it's not -- I don't intend to get into the business of confirming or denying what any colonel or general or person who is involved in one way or another.
All I will suggest is that as we go forward from here, you'll find that the flow of information and the management of it will be, for the most part, handled by the Central Intelligence Agency --
Q: You haven't been briefed on those particular documents found with Hussein?
SEC. RUMSFELD: No.
Q: Mr. Secretary, I have a question for General --
Q: Mr. Secretary, sir, I have a question for both you and General Pace. Could you give us a general outline of how the raids since the capture of Saddam Hussein have gone? How successful have those been? Could you give us an update on what has been taking place?
GEN. PACE: We've been maintaining the normal tempo of daily patrols, in the order of about 1,000 patrols a day countrywide, 24 hours a day. There was a period of time that Central Command determined that it was best to not do specific types of raids, to give those who were potentially close to Saddam an opportunity to digest the information that was available to them now that he'd been captured and perhaps turn themselves in. And we have been using the information as has been provided to us from the intelligence that's been gathered to assist us in focusing our next operations.
Q: And how successful have the raids been? Can you say who might be in custody at this point as a result of these raids?
GEN. PACE: I cannot say that.
Q: Or at high a level they might be?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes?
Q: How does the --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Let's go to some other folks.
Q: You say that Saddam Hussein is being accorded, I believe, the protections of the Geneva Convention as a POW, although --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Treatment governed as it would be by --
Q: Right, although not officially classified as one. Can you help me understand, then, how you square several issues? Showing his picture to the world. Taking him before other Iraqis. Whether he is compelled to answer questions, or has the right to simply give his name and position. And whether --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Okay, that's four already. Let me try to work my way through a few of them.
Q: -- you plan to provide him with counsel.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Pardon me? What's this?
Q: And whether you plan to provide him with counsel.
SEC. RUMSFELD: The latter is a matter for lawyers to think about. And certainly to the extent there ultimately is some sort of a tribunal, the lawyers would, I would assume, follow normal practice.
With respect to the first part of your question, he has been handled in a professional way and he has not been held up as a public curiosity in any demeaning way, by reasonable definitions of the Geneva Convention. On the other hand, he is an individual who is representative of a regime that has been replaced, and it's terribly important that he be seen by the public for what he is -- a captive, without question. And if lives can be saved by physical proof that that man is off the street, out of commission, never to return, then we opt for saving lives; and in no way can that be considered even up on the edge of the Geneva Convention protections.
The identification process involved some people in his cabinet and some people in the Governing Council. It is not a matter of parading various people before him for the sake of curiosity. It was a matter of during that early period, prior to the time we had DNA proof, knowing that his doubles had used plastic surgery and could very well have done duplicate tattoos and bullet holes and various things that would -- moles that would make it appear they were Saddam Hussein, the decision was made to have him publicly identified.
Since we have received DNA -- I guess you'd call it proof, or that's -- I think it's probably 99-point-something percent proof positive is what they say.
Q: Can I just ask you, sir -- (inaudible) -- you've just described a decision process that was brought before you and that you made, or was this made out in the theater?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The -- there -- it was a combination. I was involved on the phone with General Abizaid over -- from the period they believed they had someone who might be Saddam Hussein. And we discussed various things, such as making sure he had a physical exam and making sure that he was in safe custody and not harmed, and making sure he didn't have an opportunity to kill himself, and those types of things.
I was not involved in the decision to take various people to identify him, but to me, certainly having some of his former cabinet do that is a perfectly reasonable thing.
Q: Why don't you designate him a prisoner of war? What flexibility does it give you?
And General Pace, could you tell us if -- how long that pause was on operations and if anyone did, in fact, turn themselves in?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I've decided that this is a matter of sufficient import that the -- it is only fair that the president and people he would like to designate have a voice in how these decisions are made. And I'm not a lawyer. This is not a legal department, it's a Defense Department. And it's something that will be decided by probably an interagency committee, so that it is felt to be the right decision and a decision that we are comfortable with as a government.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Wait, wait, wait.
Q: He had follow-up -- she had a follow-up for General Pace.
GEN. PACE: Oh. Thank you. If I used the word "pause," that would be a poor choice of words, because what was happening was the ongoing patrols and normal operations continue throughout the country.
What we wanted to do was take the data that we had initially from the capture, digest that as best we could, put it into the mix of the other intelligence we had, see if while we were doing that, others in his close circle might understand that, in fact, this is it for Saddam Hussein, and see if they would take the opportunity to come forward and give themselves up. That opportunity is still available to them anytime to come forward and give themselves up.
Q: Did anybody do it?
GEN. PACE: To my knowledge, not yet.
Q: I have a non-Saddam Hussein question. Both Germany and France today said that they would relieve -- be in favor of relieving some of Iraq's debt. They told this to Secretary Baker. Given that, as a former businessman, might it be prudent now to revisit the Pentagon's decision of December 4th to exclude France, Germany, et cetera, from the list of prime contract candidates for the reconstruction?
SEC. RUMSFELD: First of all, the Pentagon -- that was not a Pentagon decision, that was a decision that was fully agreed upon throughout all the agencies, all the relevant agencies of the United States government. And any suggestion to the contrary would be in error.
Second, the decision was not to deny anyone contracts. The decision was to preserve for those people who made the Iraqi people's liberation possible the access to prime contracts -- prime, as opposed to subcontracts. And that's an important distinction. No one got up in the morning and said, "Gee, who could we deny a contract?" The implication of that has got everything backwards. What they decided was that here are people who took political courage, who took physical courage -- 63 countries -- and assisted in this coalition, and isn't it a reasonable thing that they ought to have an opportunity to bid and participate in that process?
The other thing we were very interested in also is that it be companies and countries that will hire Iraqis. We think it's terribly important that the contracts that are let have some -- to some degree will put to work the Iraqi people so that the efforts all of us are making to have a success in that country will be more likely.
Q: Yeah, but --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Furthermore, we're not talking about the dollars that come from Iraqi oil, we're not talking about the dollars that come from international contributions, we're not talking about the dollars that come from the U.N. oil-for-food process, we are talking about the dollars that the taxpayers of the United States of America will be contributing to the economic future and success of that country. And we've always had a policy of deciding how our tax dollars would be spent, just like every other country decides how they're going to spend their money when they spend it.
Q: But given part of Iraq's future hinges on their debt being relieved, and these two nations making that kind of gesture, might you think -- would you think it's a decent idea now to revisit --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Those are all issues for the interagency process and the president. Secretary Baker -- former Secretary Baker is doing a good job. I talked to him yesterday. He's out working out an arrangement, we hope, that will relieve the debt burden on the Iraqi people, and that's a good thing.
Q: What's your opinion?
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: You have a voice still in this.
SEC. RUMSFELD: I do, and I give my advice to the president.
Q: Well, tell us too!
Q: Mr. Secretary?
Q: Mr. Secretary?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes?
Q: What have you learned about Saddam Hussein's life on the run these past eight months? How long was he in this particular farm house, whether he changed often, whether that theory proved true that he was probably moving around all the time, do you have anything definitive on that?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Definitive? No. We have information over a period that started at the beginning of the war; indeed, before the beginning of the war, I believe, that he was moving frequently, that he had a variety of locations where he was able to go, and sometimes would spend, oh, relatively short periods -- four or five, six hours, and then move again; that sometimes he would be staying in motion in vehicles. Sometimes those vehicles were taxi cabs. And sometimes he spent, again, three or four hours in a taxi cab that was not a taxi cab -- (chuckles) -- didn't have the meter running. (Laughter.)
Q: General Pace?
Q: Do you know how long he was in the farm house?
Q: How (central ?) is it that the capture of Saddam Hussein --
Q: Can we just follow up on the farm house?
Q: -- could answer questions about the whereabouts of the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Do you have any reason to believe that his capture will be crucial in finding them?
SEC. RUMSFELD: You know, that's like asking if we were close to catching Saddam Hussein. Close doesn't count in this business. You either find them, or you don't.
I think the important thing to do is to go back and in your mind's eye picture the hole he was in. That hole was, what, 6-1/2 feet by 8 feet or 10 feet, in the dirt. And think of the quantity of biological weapons that could fit in that hole alone could kill tens of thousands of human beings. So the difficulty of finding him is the same difficulty of finding anyone else or another thing, like weapons.
Now, how did we find him? We found him through scraps of information over a period of time, and persistence in being ready -- well-organized and well-trained and ready to move fast, and they did a great job. My guess is, is that if you think about it, that we're not going to find weapons of mass destruction by chugging around -- I started getting asked this question before they ever got to Baghdad, if you'll remember. We were about halfway between Kuwait and Baghdad, and they said, "Have you found them yet?" And the reality is you're not going to find them, you're not going to discover them, you're not going to trip over -- kick a rock and find them. We didn't find the jet airplanes until the wind blew the sand off, that were buried under the ground.
Someone's finally going to come and say something. I don't know if it will be this year or next year or what.
Q: Will it be him?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, the implication of that is do we think he suddenly is going to decide to be cooperative and --
Q: (Off mike.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Pardon me?
Q: Does he know?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Does HE know? Well, indeed he must.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Just a second. We'll move around and get a few people here. Yeah?
Q: You were saying that showing the pictures of Saddam Hussein definitely didn't violate the Geneva Convention. That seems to me to be a real contrast with what happened in Afghanistan, when news photographers were not allowed to shoot photos at all of detainees. Why is that not -- (off mike)?
SEC. RUMSFELD: We don't have, as a practice, photos now of detainees. What we have here is what I said earlier. You have a very unusual situation. You have a person who was one of the most brutal dictators in the adult lifetime of anyone in this room, who tortured people, who killed people, hundreds of thousands of people he killed, and intimidated the entire nation and the neighbors; and it is enormously important that people see that he is out of commission, that he is what he is. He was a fugitive, living in a dirt hole, surrendering, and controlling that country no more forever.
Q: If that's not a violation, can we now photograph detainees when we have the opportunity?
SEC. RUMSFELD: No. No. I mean, a common detainee, why would one want to do that? Why would one want to -- this --
Q: (Off mike) -- interest in the conditions in which they're kept.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, come on, now. The International Committee of the Red Cross is crawling around down there, people from all those countries. There's no issue about how those people are being treated. They're being treated very, very well by fine young men and women who went to the high schools that you went to. And any implication to the contrary would be false.
Q: Mr. Secretary?
SEC. RUMSFELD: There, yes.
Q: Sir, when U.S. forces surrounded and moved in on Saddam's two sons and they eventually were -- they did the knock on the door and they refused to surrender and they eventually were killed --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Made a big mistake.
Q: -- you-all told us that decision is made by the commanders on the scene whether or not to use the force that could result in someone's death. In the case of Saddam Hussein, we all know that things on the battlefield can change, that the best plans go out the window as soon as the shooting starts. But was there a special plan -- no. You're shaking your heard "no." And was --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Would we tell them they couldn't kill him?
Q: No, no, no. I was going to say: Was there a special plan for Saddam Hussein, as opposed to other potential high-target values (sic)? And second --
SEC. RUMSFELD: On that -- just to -- (inaudible) --
SEC. RUMSFELD: -- on that issue, no.
SEC. RUMSFELD: In other words, no one was told, "Don't kill him." No one was told, "Kill him." They had rules of engagement. They're supposed to try to capture. They did try to capture, and in this case, it succeeded. In the case of Uday and Qusay, it didn't.
Q: So the local commanders on the scene had the authority, as they did in other cases?
SEC. RUMSFELD: I think the word "commander" is a little high. I mean, the local people who went into the hole had that authority, right?
GEN. PACE: Absolutely.
Q: The men and women on the operation had that --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Do you want to elaborate? (It could be ?) Private Pace.
GEN. PACE: I will tell you, the -- PFC Pace -- and not his right name, not his real name -- who opened that hatch and looked down in there, had the exact same authority for that hole as he had for any other hole he looked in, which was to try to capture whoever was in there; if threatened or if someone fights back, to take the action necessary to protect yourself and those around you. So there was no difference.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Now with respect to the other part of the question, of course we had plans. We had a piece of paper that had been discussed and had been circulated to the appropriate people, to -- as a tick list, to think about these things in the event Saddam Hussein is captured or killed. And that went out weeks ago.
Q: Weeks ago?
SEC. RUMSFELD: And it took a little long -- (cross talk) -- took a little walk before it would come in to you.
Q: Did you have that list in your office as well?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes.
Q: I mean, you went through it -- you were involved -- you yourself were involved in helping that list be compiled?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Sure.
Q: Mr. Secretary, may I ask General Pace a question, please?
Q: What was on the list?
Q: On the list, yeah. What was on the list?
Q: General --
Q: What was on that list?
SEC. RUMSFELD: It's not -- it's a private list. It's not a public list.
Q: General Pace, a few days ago, a three-star Marine Corps general at Camp Pendleton said that when the 1st MEF redeploys next spring, they will not use the same tactics that the Army is now using in its search-and-destroy missions, particularly in the Sunni Triangle. Is that a criticism of the Army, or is it just a change and/or difference in the way that wars are fought between the Army and the Marine Corps?
GEN. PACE: No. In fact, I've talked to that Marine general, and he went out of his way, when he was talking, to try not to have any kind of comparisons. What he was trying to say to the people he was talking to is that as they prepare, as he prepares his Marines to go back to Iraq, as they have done their leaders' reconnaissance into the theater and they've looked at the territory and have looked at the people, that they are coming up with a scheme of maneuver and a way of operating that they believe is going to be most effective.
And things change on the battlefield. The same unit that was there to help win the war, to help capture Baghdad, has now come home. That unit designation, some of the same individuals are going to go back; they are operating differently now in this new -- or they will operate differently now than they did last time.
So it has nothing to do with Army, Marine, Navy, Air Force, and everything to do with the circumstances on the ground today and what tactics, techniques and procedures are best suited to the environment today.
SEC. RUMSFELD: And it will vary from section to section in the country. And General Abizaid believes that the forces going in, knowing now what the current situation is in various locations, that he'll be better able to match the tactics, and techniques, and procedures, and equipment and circumstance to the force coming in better than the force that's there.
Q: In your Christmas benevolence, may I ask you one brief question, to give us a time line of -- the White House says you first informed the president at 3:15 Eastern time of the possibility. Did you make a follow-up call to him? And when, roughly, was that made when you really pretty well knew it was Saddam Hussein that you had in custody?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, goodness. I really don't do tick-tock very well. I don't remember the time, and I don't keep notes on things like that. But it was, clearly, in the afternoon and before 3:00, sometime between noon and 3:00, that I first was told that we have an individual who might be Saddam Hussein. I talked to the president; we had a good discussion. I called him back later in the afternoon and talked to him again. I talked to him again the next day. I've talked to him several times over that period, just kind of updating him. But what time or who struck John, I don't --
Q: I'm asking for a purpose, sir. When you were at the afternoon soiree of General Myers and you asked for a secure phone, was that to call the president back to tell him that you pretty well knew that it was Saddam? (Laughter.) And how did you keep the secret from all of us?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Very skillfully, I mean -- (laughter).
First of all, I am a very cautious, careful, conservative individual. And I was struck not by his tattoos and not by his bullet hole in his leg and not by the fact that people who were picking him up, scooping him up, thought it was the right guy. I was kind of impressed by the money they found there -- $750,000 -- not bad. But I was not satisfied until after people like Tariq Aziz and others had physically seen him and indicated that they were convinced. There were a number of them who did indicate that. And that did not happen for hours later. It was well after the people I was with that afternoon and evening.
But it's true I did go into Myers' house and use the secure phone for about 40 minutes. And I talked to a number of people, and one of the people may very well have been the president. But it was two or three other people, General Abizaid and others.
Q: Can I ask you to put the last several days into perspective? All the raids, and arrests and captures, to what extent are these helping you track the resistance and move toward stabilizing Iraq?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Time will tell. You know, you start looking at bad things or good things, and if you make a straight-line projection on the good things, it looks like that, and the bad things, it looks like that. Life tends not to be that way. It's not filled with straight-line projections. There seem to be ups and downs, and you have to look at a trend line over time. So it's too soon for me to tell.
I've got to believe that you could get mixed reaction to something like this. You could get some folks that would race around striving to show that they still are anti-liberation and they want to restore the Ba'athists, and they might do some more efforts to kill people. On the other hand, taking that individual who was such a symbol of repression and fear and intimidation and butchery and making it so clear to the Iraqi people that he's finished has to free up people and make them think.
People don't go from this end of the spectrum to that end of the spectrum, but if there are people all across that spectrum, it has to move them. It has to move them over. And the strongest supporter of Saddam Hussein, looking at those images, has to say, "Gee, I don't think today I'm quite as strong a supporter as I was yesterday." And someone who was right on the line is going to be moved over towards the coalition. And someone who was pro-coalition is going to feel better about doing that. And how do you measure that? I'm not smart enough to do that.
Q: These people that have been picked up since him, a number of people, their significance?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Time will tell. We have to -- we never know. There are people we've picked up who weren't worth a -- anything -- that was good -- for a year, year and a half, and eventually out it comes. Other people within a matter of hours can be helpful. And sometimes it's because they have decided to make a wise decision and be helpful. Sometimes it's pocket litter or something else that they have.
But the other thing about it is, sometimes you have to take those pieces of information or intelligence or a data point and you have it instantaneously, but it doesn't mean anything for 24, 48, 72 hours, or three months, and then something connects to it. It is very tough business, and we've got some really wonderful people out there working in clearly difficult circumstance, a hostile environment, in many regards -- in many respects, and they're doing a good job. They're piecing it together and working the problems in a serious and professional way. And God bless them for doing it.
Q: Mr. Secretary, one of the administration's stated goals has been to change the dynamics in the Middle East. Do you think that a trial at which presumably the brutalization of fellow Muslims and Arabs by Saddam will start to maybe cause people around the region to rethink their posture on the war and U.S. policy in general?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, boy. You know, we're all kind of captives of what we know and what we see and what we hear. And then we take it and we synthesize it, and then we begin to behave off of it. And I see what the people in that region are seeing, and so much of it is untrue, so much of it is biased, so much of it is viciously biased, and parades around as the truth. And it comes as no great surprise to me that people in that region who have a daily intake of lies in the press, in the television, rumors -- terrible things said, the totally untrue things that are said, and it's a steady drum beat. And how that gets changed, I don't know. It is -- I'm not talking about the American press or the coalition press, I'm talking about what's taking place out there.
And do I think ultimately truth wins out? You bet. I mean, our whole system is based on that, that we can take untruth and, over time, the truth is heard, and it begins to register, and people begin to behave off it. And people who tell untruths ultimately are punished. They're punished, if they're in the journalism business, because people don't read them anymore, they don't tune in, they turn it off, or they reject it if they see it. They're punished, if they're in government, by being defeated or deposed.
So do I think, over time, it'll -- that it will have a good effect? Sure I do, because I think people ultimately have a pretty good center of gravity and can figure things out.
I think we'll take two more questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes, right there, young lady.
Q: Sir, how close are you to signing off on the '05 budget? And how would you say these early -- (inaudible) -- working that are going on in '06 are going?
SEC. RUMSFELD: What's going on at '06? What's that mean?
Q: Did you get planning guidance? That was issued?
SEC. RUMSFELD: The strategic planning guidance. Why did you call it '06? I just am not familiar with that term.
Q: The FY '06 budget.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, FY '06 budget. Okay. I'm --
Q: What did you think --
SEC. RUMSFELD: No, no, I'm thinking about other things. I'm sorry. I thought that was --
Q: Sorry. (Off mike.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: The answer is, we're close. You have to be. You have to get it over to OMB sometime, I think, later this month or -- yeah. So we're close.
Q: So by February 1 we should expect a --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I didn't set a deadline. I said we're close.
Q: Well, you said by the end of the month.
SEC. RUMSFELD: You said, "How close are you?" And I said, "Close."
Q: (Off mike) -- the end of the month.
SEC. RUMSFELD: When -- I said it's supposed to be over there by the end of the month.
Q: Yes. (Laughter.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Isn't that what I said? I mean, you know, tell me if I'm wrong. I tend to remember what I say.
STAFF: (Off mike.)
SEC. RUMSFELD: Pardon me?
STAFF: That's just our submission, and then OMB goes to work.
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah. Then OMB starts, you know, doing what they do, and then the president has a voice in the whole thing.
Q: Can you tell us what the outlying issues are in the '05 budget that are still to be ironed out?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Yes.
Q: That's all right --
SEC. RUMSFELD: But I won't. (Laughter.) I don't want to. (No ?).
Q: General Pace, you mentioned that over the past couple of days, you've eased up to give people an opportunity to absorb this and maybe give themselves up. Are there specific people who you're either in contact with or who you are hoping will give themselves up? Is al- Douri one of them? Are they tribal leaders? Could you expand on that?
GEN. PACE: No one specific by name. If al-Douri wants to give himself up, he's more than welcome. We'll make sure he gets treated properly and humanely. And it would be a good thing for him to do.
But what we wanted to make sure we had a chance to do is to absorb the new intelligence we had from the raid and to let the folks who were just as quickly as we were finding out that Saddam was captive -- to absorb that data and hopefully to understand that in fact Saddam's finished. And those who might have still have some loyalties to him ought to reconsider who they are, what they're doing, and for the good of themselves and for the Iraqi people, turn themselves in and become part of the future of Iraq, instead of part of the past.
Q: And just as a brief follow-up --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Ivan asked a question and looked kind of down and -- (laughter) -- and no -- and I don't want him to go off to the holidays down. I want him up. (Scattered laughter.) There!
Q: Thank you. Boy, you can read faces --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I did read it. I could feel the wheels going in there, and I said, "By golly, I'm not going to let him go off feeling that way."
Q: I'm just wondering, can you imagine any incentive that Saddam Hussein would have for cooperating, for revealing information? Is there any way he could hope for some sort of leniency or better privileges in the way he's kept?
SEC. RUMSFELD: (Sighs.) (Chuckles.) You know, I can imagine almost anything. Here's a fellow who's survived. He's killed any number of people. Hundreds of thousands of people have died at his hand or instruction. He didn't die. He had a pistol, but he's alive. That's got to tell you something about him. He's clearly not -- he's not like the folks who he gave $25,000 to to go do suicide bombing and kill themselves and be done.
What does that mean? I have no idea. Does he have any interest in his family? Would he have some interest there? I don't know. He obviously doesn't care anything about his country or the Iraqi people. What might motivate a person like that is a difficult -- I'm not a psychiatrist, as I'm sure you've all noticed! (Laughter.) But I have no idea what might affect him, and I wouldn't rule anything in or rule anything out.
Now, that is the very last --
Q: I just wanted --
SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh! (Laughter.)
Q: I just wanted to ask you to elaborate on your decision to ask the CIA to take over the questioning.
SEC. RUMSFELD: It was a three-minute decision, and the first two were for coffee. (Laughter.) They are the people who have competence in that area, they have professionals in that area, they have the -- they know the needs we have in terms of counterterrorism, they know the threads that have to come up through the needle head. And to the extent that this individual can offer anything that even conceivably, by accident, would be helpful, we need to have people doing that.
Now, they may very well use -- our people will be the ones that will have custody over him. Our people may very well be the interrogators. But the decisions over that, the judgment, is what I've asked George Tenet's people to do, and that's what he will do.
Q: Does CIA control of that, versus Pentagon control, change anything in the tactics or things that we can do in the hopes of getting information?
SEC. RUMSFELD: No. We're linked at the hip there. It's just that they have -- I have -- I just made the decision that I think that's in their -- more in their field than mine, and as a result, I've asked George to do it, and he's agreed.
Q: Have any Iraqis been involved in the interrogations to date, or will they --
SEC. RUMSFELD: I'm not going to get into how they're doing it or who's doing what.
Q: If you had a chance to ask him a question, what would you ask him?
SEC. RUMSFELD: Come on! (Laughter.)
Happy holidays, everyone!
Q: Merry Christmas!
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