of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Interview with Katie Couric on the NBC Today Show
October 8, 2001
7:02 A.M. EDT
COURIC: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, just back from that part of the
world, is managing the U.S. military offensive.
Secretary Rumsfeld, good morning. Thanks for joining us.
RUMSFELD: Good morning. Thank you.
COURIC: Tell us what the United States was trying to achieve and whether it
achieved its goals.
RUMSFELD: Well, I'd be happy to. The United States began, shortly after the
attacks on September 11th, a very broad-based effort that involves diplomatic
and financial as well as military, over and covert activities, to take this
battle to the terrorists, because, in self-defense, there is no other way to
deal with the problem of international terrorism than to go after the individuals
who are killing thousands of Americans and threatening and terrorizing much
of the world.
The purpose of these attacks was to attack, very discreetly, military targets,
Taliban and al Qaeda military targets, to create the conditions so that we can
engage in a sustained effort to root out those terrorists. It will take time.
It is an effort that is certainly not against the Afghan people. Indeed, we're
engaged in a massive humanitarian effort for the Afghan people. It's against
terrorists, pure and simple.
COURIC: When will you have a BDA, a bomb damage assessment?
RUMSFELD: We'll have all of the information from a variety of intelligence sources
sometime later today, once we're able to sift and sort it and compare the information.
We do know already that all of the planes have landed safely except for the
two C-17 aircraft that were engaged in the humanitarian effort of dropping food
and medicines for refugees in Afghanistan. They are still en route back to their
COURIC: Having said that, did U.S. forces meet any resistance? Were any of the
planes ever in danger?
RUMSFELD: Well, any time you're flying over land where you know there are surface-to-air
missiles and there are manned mobile surface-to-air missiles, one has to be
exceedingly careful. And that is the case, and the Taliban do have those weapons.
COURIC: So is that answer a yes, Secretary Rumsfeld?
RUMSFELD: It is true that they have those weapons and that some were fired.
COURIC: Apparently --
RUMSFELD: No aircraft was hit. No aircraft was damaged. The allegation by Taliban
that they shot down coalition aircraft is flat untrue.
COURIC: That was an allegation that was made prior to this military attack,
RUMSFELD: No, the allegation was made most recently.
COURIC: They also claim that they've shot down another plane, though, over the
weekend, did they not? Do you know anything about that or can you give us any
information about that?
RUMSFELD: There is no manned coalition aircraft that has been damaged or shot
COURIC: What about an unmanned aircraft?
RUMSFELD: We have had unmanned aircraft that we have lost control of. Whether
or not the Taliban had anything to do with that is an open question.
COURIC: Apparently one of the targets was the Taliban's small air force. Were
U.S. forces able to take that out?
RUMSFELD: The aircraft, to our knowledge, did not leave the ground. They were
attacked by U.S. and British forces. We will not know precisely what the battle
damage is until later today.
COURIC: Tell me about collateral damage, if you could, Secretary Rumsfeld. I
know the Taliban is claiming more than 100 civilians were killed. What can you
tell us about that?
RUMSFELD: Well, it is clearly not the case. The targets were carefully selected.
They tended to be in remote areas. And they were all very low collateral-damage
targets. There is no question but that any people who were around those targets
were around those targets because they were part of the al Qaeda and the Taliban
COURIC: You have called this a sustained attack. Is it safe to assume that the
bombing will continue for several days?
RUMSFELD: I think it's safe to assume that the entire effort, the diplomatic
and the financial and the military, both overt and covert efforts, will continue
until we have been successful in rooting the terrorists out, not just in the
Taliban and the al Qaeda network, but in other networks as well.
COURIC: As you know, Mr. Secretary, Osama bin Laden delivered a pretty chilling
statement to the United States, apparently videotaped prior to these attacks.
What is your reaction to some of the things he had to say?
RUMSFELD: Well, my reaction to things that he had to say in that taped message
is really roughly the same as the messages that he has been releasing for months
and years. He clearly does not represent Islam. What he is doing is counter
to that faith. He has an aspiration to become a leader of terrorists across
the globe and to change governments, and he is exactly the kind of person that
needs to be dealt with and his organization pulled out wherever it exists. And
it exists all across the globe. There's 50 or 60 cells.
COURIC: Are his whereabouts known at this point in time?
RUMSFELD: It's pretty clear he's in Afghanistan somewhere.
COURIC: And that's all you can say at this point.
RUMSFELD: Mmm-hmm. (Affirmative response.)
COURIC: And before we go, what is the overall goal here? Is it to overthrow
the Taliban government and replace it with a different one? And how can we ensure
that that government is, in fact, more stable and less oppressive and not as
bad as the one it's replacing?
RUMSFELD: Well, I think that I would characterize the goal exactly as President
Bush said. It is that the victory, if you will, will take time and it will be
seen and understood when people are not terrorized, when people are free to
go about their business and have their children go to school and know that they'll
come home and people can go to work and know they'll be coming home safely.
And as long as people that are making a business out of international terrorism
and countries are harboring those international terrorists, people will not
have that freedom. And it's important, as a free people, that we recognize that
the only way to deal with this is to take the battle to the terrorists wherever
COURIC: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Mr. Secretary, thanks so much
for your time this morning. We appreciate it.