of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Interview with Tony Snow on Fox News
September 21, 2001
7:00 A.M. EDT
SNOW:Joining us from the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Secretary Rumsfeld, let's get your reaction first to the reports to the reports
in the Japanese press that we are considering the use of tactical nuclear weapons?
For those not familiar with the jargon, those are smaller grade nuclear weapons
that can be used on tactical targets rather than strategic targets such as large
RUMSFELD: We've not given consideration nor discussion to that particular issue.
You're going to hear so many different things about what the United States may
or may not do with respect to financial matters, or covert matters, or military
matters, and I suspect that most of the people that are offering those suggestions
are people who don't know much about what's going on.
SNOW:Meanwhile, a British newspaper is reporting at least some U.S. troop movements,
I'm not going to mention either the paper or the movements. Are you worried
that right now our dispatches with our allies are producing lapses in security?
RUMSFELD: Well, you cannot move forces and not have it eventually become known.
We live in an open society. When somebody gets a phone call saying, be prepared
to leave from your home in Georgia and go someplace within eight hours or twelve
hours. He tells his wife, people see him go to the airport with his bag, and
it happens. The same thing with friends around the world. We can live with that.
We can live with that. We are going to be doing lots of different things in
What we can't live with is people talking about movements who have knowledge.
The ones who talk about it who don't have knowledge, I suppose that's inevitable.
SNOW:Let's talk about which of our allies are being helpful and which are not.
The NATO allies seem generally to be onboard; is that correct?
RUMSFELD: Indeed. I think the action they took in the NATO Council with respect
to Article V of the NATO Treaty was a unique, significant event. So too with
the Rio Treaty, and the Australian agreement we have. But not just those close
allies, the support has come from across the globe, and some of it's public
and some of it's private. But I've just been enormously impressed with the response.
I think there's a recognition in the world that we've always had terrorists,
not so much in the United States, but certainly in other parts of the globe
there's always been terrorists. But what you see now are networks, working networks,
being supported by states, and using increasingly powerful capabilities. I mean,
to the extent that proliferation problems continue, and people end up, terrorists
end up with chemical and biological weapons, which their state sponsors already
have. Clearly, people in the world have every reason to be deeply concerned
about the problem. And every reason to step forward and help root out the people
that are perpetrating these crimes.
SNOW:Yesterday, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on
Capitol Hill arguing that if the United States were to include in its coalition
to fight against terrorism such states as Syria or Iran, both of which we've
identified repeatedly as state sponsors of terrorism, we would be, in fact,
destroying the integrity of the mission. What must those two countries do to
become parts of our coalition?
RUMSFELD: Our goal is to alter the behavior of the countries that are sponsoring
and facilitating and financing and fostering and in some cases directing, and
in other cases tolerating, terrorism. And we must get them to change the behavior
and to create an environment that's inhospitable for terrorists, rather than
one that's hospitable. And that's been the case for a long time. That's why
those countries are on the terrorist list.
SNOW:Nevertheless, there are reports that we are talking to them, Syria and
Iran in particular, about possibly joining us. Is that a good idea?
RUMSFELD: We are talking to most of the countries in the world, and we are soliciting
support. We are soliciting information about the terrorists, and about the terrorist
networks. And the way this works is, it's going to take a variety of types of
assistance from a lot of countries, and a lot of people.
I would go one step further. Most of the states that are on the state sponsored
terrorism list, in most of those states they have a dictatorial regime that
represses and there are many people in those countries who do not agree with
their regimes, and are willing and interested in having those regimes behave
in a different way or be gone. And certainly there is another source of information
for us in intelligence that could conceivably help us in this hunt.
SNOW:How credible is the Northern Alliance which has been fighting for some
time against the Taliban in Afghanistan?
RUMSFELD: Afghanistan is a poor country, it's been pounded in repeated wars.
The Soviet Union unloaded all kinds of weapons on them. And they're there, they're
tough, and the factions in there are tough, and they live in a very difficult
environment, a mountainous environment in many cases.
The Northern Alliance has been engaged in a battle with the Taliban for some
period of time, and they're still there. And one can say, well, how much help
can they be? Well, they can be a lot of help. First of all, they're the only
thing on the ground competing with Taliban, and there are a lot of people, Afghans,
who don't like the Taliban, who would prefer to have Taliban out of there. And
these folks, they know the lay of the land, they know, in some cases, some targets
that are useful, they have ideas about how to deal with the Taliban. I think
that one has to say that they can be useful in a variety of ways.
SNOW:Mr. Secretary, a final question, is the Taliban on shaky footing right
RUMSFELD: Well, I guess only time will tell, Tony. Until something happens you
never know if it's going to. I've always been impressed people ask me, for example,
about some of these regimes, and I think back to how quickly the countries behind
the iron curtain fell, the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania. It
was a surprise that at a certain moment the people there who did not agree with
those regimes felt it was the right moment, and they stepped forward, and they
acted on their own. It was not some country going in and rooting it out. It
was, in fact, the very people in those countries who could no longer tolerate
living in those dictatorial regimes.
SNOW:All right. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, thanks for joining us.