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Rita Cosby Interviews Donald Rumsfeld

Reported by Marie Therese - October 4, 2004 -

Big Story Weekend with Rita Cosby. 10/3/04. 12:14 to 12:18 AM and 12:21 to 12:26 AM EDT.

Rita Cosby interviewed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on topics ranging from the violence in Iraq to the draft to Osama bin Laden. The transcript is available at FOX News. Some highlights:


Stationing Troops in Iraq:

COSBY: How would you describe the situation today in Iraq?

RUMSFELD: The level of violence has gone up in anticipation of the elections and we expect it will stay up during this period for the rest of the year between now and the Iraqi elections in January. A free, democratic Iraq is something that is exactly what the terrorists and the extremists don't want. It would harm their goals for that part of the world in a very serious way, so they're going to do everything they can to try to prevent it and we're gonna win. The extremists are gonne lose.

COSBY: Mr. Secretary, do you think we will always have troops over in Iraq in some shape or form, even just a small portion?

RUMSFELD: Oh, I really don't think that ...

COSBY: You think we'll have a total elimination of US troops?

RUMSFELD: Well, let me put it this way. We want to go in and be helpful and leave. That's basically the American way.

(For information that gives a different slant on "permanent" US presence in Iraq, go to14 "enduring bases" set in Iraq: Long-term military presence planned-Chicago Tribune March 23, 2004 and this from globalsecurity.com: Iraq Facilities: "The U.S. Army's top general said 28 January 2004 he is making plans based on the possibility that the Army will be required to keep tens of thousands of soldiers in Iraq through 2006. Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, told the House Armed Services Committee of the United States that ‘for planning purposes" he has ordered his staff to consider how the Army would replace the force that is now rotating into Iraq with another force of similar size in 2005 - and again in 2006'." Another more recent article on this topic is available at Christian Science Monitor, 9/30/04)

On the Draft:

COSBY: Let's set the record straight. Is there any effort to reinstate the draft?

RUMSFELD: Oh my goodness, no. I've seen a couple of people on Capitol Hill - Democrats in the House and Democrats in the Senate have introduced legislation - I don't believe there's any Republican support for it up there, and I am dead set against it. There is no need for a draft in the United States of America. We have no problem - none - in attracting and retaining the people we need and my view is that anyone who's talking about the draft very likely in this context may very well be making mischief. I just can't imagine reinstating the draft.

COSBY: Mischief for political reasons?

RUMSFELD: I have no idea.

COSBY: Do you question the timing? Maybe it's being put out there pre-election as a scare tactic?

RUMSFELD: Oh, I'm not supposed to get into politics.

COSBY: What do you think though?

RUMSFELD: I think I'm not supposed to get into politics.

(A special skills draft has been reported on in the past. Go to Special Skills Draft' on Drawing Board. We now have a stop-loss policy in place that is, in effect, a back door draft, extending tours of duty for the National Guard members.)

On the Iraqi insurgency:

COSBY: How critical is success in Iraq to the rest of the world?

RUMSFELD: Oh, it's enormously important. Think of having a democratic country in that part of the world, with that set of neighbors, and the wonderful influence it would be on the other countries and the people in those countries.

COSBY: What if Iraq explodes and turns into this worst-case scenario, civil war? What does that mean for the region?

RUMSFELD: No one sees any sign of civil war in that country at the present time. There, obviously, used to be worries about it, and there have been ethnic conflicts in the past. But at the moment, that isn't the risk. The risk is that the terrorists and the extremists and the people who are running around chopping off people's heads and killing innocent men, women and children will take over that country. And imagine a country ruled by people who go around chopping off people's heads. That's a dark future. The Taliban rule is a perfect recent example of what Iraq would look like.

COSBY: Did you anticipate the insurgency would be as bad as it is right now?

RUMSFELD: No.

On Osama bin Laden:

COSBY: Zarqawi, I understand — I've been told that maybe we've put a big dent in that network around him.

RUMSFELD: We have in the last month or two. My guess is that the coalition forces probably have killed 1,500 Iraqi insurgents and a reasonable fraction of Zarqawi's senior people.

COSBY: How come here we have the best military in the world. The guy's out there parading on videotapes, involved in these horrible beheadings. How come we can't find Zarqawi?

RUMSFELD: We have people on the FBI's most wanted list for 10, 20 years, in the United States. It's like finding a needle in a haystack. It's very hard to do. The United States military wasn't organized, trained and equipped to go out and do manhunts. That's an FBI job. That's a police job. That's the kind of thing that law enforcement does. So, suddenly we're in the 21st century, and suddenly that's a need. And we find a lot of them.

COSBY: Osama bin Laden, there has been some reports lately — our Bret Baier did an interview with a gentleman at CENTCOM, a general, who suggested that bin Laden may be dead. What do you think?

RUMSFELD: Oh, goodness. You know, we have not seen him on video since 2001. December, I think. We don't know for sure he's alive, because we haven't seen him. Our assumption is he is alive. My further assumption, mine, as opposed to the agency's, is that if he is alive, he would like to be on video. And for some reason he's not.

COSBY: But you still believe he's alive?

RUMSFELD: I think he's very likely alive.

COSBY: Is he sick, maybe?

RUMSFELD: I don't know. He — there's some — for some reason he may not want to be on a video. (End excerpt.)