O'Reilly-Rumsfeld Interview - Part One
Reported by Marie Therese - December 16, 2005
Last night [12-15-05] Bill O'Reilly devoted three segments of the O'Reilly Factor to an extensive interview with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. During the course of the show he asked a total of ten questions. As usual, Rumsfeld made some statements that, quite simply, didn't make any sense, but O'Reilly covered for him. Comments that I found interesting are in bold face
QUESTION 1: "How are we, the American people, safe now that this election has taken place in Iraq?"
Rumsfeld noted that this one election was not the single thing that makes the USA safer, so O'Reilly expanded the question by saying: "Alright, the whole Iraq campaign - how are we safer?"
Rumsfeld listed a few things that terrorists seek - the overthrow of moderate Muslim regimes, establishment of a worldwide Caliphate, destruction of our way of life - then explained that Iraq is rich in oil, water and "intelligent people", so much so that "if that [country] were turned in to a haven for terrorists, the world would be a different world, the region would be a different region and the vulnerability of the American people there, in other parts of the world and in the United States would be greater by terrorists. There's no doubt in my mind."
[COMMENT: A classic Rumsfeld dogeball answer.]
O'Reilly went on to explain that he doesn't favor withdrawal from Iraq at this time, then he asked: "But I want to know why my family is safer if we establish democracy in that country?"
RUMSFELD: "Because we want to fight the terrorists, not in the United States, but outside of the United States and it is the central front of the global war on terrorism."
When questioned further about Iran, Rumsfeld concluded that "Iran is not a battleground today."
QUESTION 2: "Saddam. No WMDs. How was Saddam a direct threat to the USA if he didn't have these weapons of mass destruction?"
RUMSFELD: Well, here's a regime - a man and a regime - that had had weapons of mass destruction, had used them on their own people, had used them on their neighbors, had invaded Kuwait and had - was shooting at our airplanes in Operation Northern Watch and Southern Watch - where [we were] enforcing the UN resolutions. They were giving $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers. encouraging terrorism. Now, as the president said recently, we have not found the weapons of mass destruction, but that was a mistake we couldn't make. You could not be mistaken on that.
O'REILLY: But we did make the mistake.
RUMSFELD: Well, the world's vastly better off because we did.
O'REILLY: OK. That's a debatable point but without weapons of mass destruction, did he threaten my family, Saddam?
RUMSFELD: Oh, goodness, they were shooting at our airplanes every week.
O'REILLY: That doesn't really threaten ...
RUMSFELD: And he was giving the $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers.
O'REILLY: In Israel.
RUMSFELD: And he was (long pause) wherever. It wasn't just in Israel.
O'REILLY: So you think that Saddam directly threatens you?
RUMSFELD: Zarqawi would - Zarqawi was in Iraq.
O'REILLY: No, I know that. How come you don't make that point more? How come President Bush doesn't make that point? They say, well, there's no Al Qaeda-Saddam connection and Zarqawi got treated in a Baghdad hospital, ends up with Ansar al Islam in the northern part of the country. Why don't you guys say that more?
RUMSFELD: You mean, why don't people carry it more.
O'REILLY: Why don't you go out and say, look the people trying to undermine our position here - which is the American press - there is a link. Zarqawi was in Baghdad.
RUMSFELD: Certainly a link to terrorists.
O'REILLY: Why don't you say that?
RUMSFELD: Zarqawi at the time was not an Al Qaeda. He was, he was ...
O'REILLY: Well, why don't you say it more?
RUMSFELD (a tad defensive): Well, we do say it. Why don't you carry it more?
O'REILLY: I say it more than you do. (Rumsfeld laughs) Alright. Third question: Prevailing wisdom ...
RUMSFELD: How we doin' on the first two?
O'REILLY: I'm fine with it.
O'REILLY: You OK with it?
RUMSFELD: I'm fine.
O'REILY: Good. You're havin' fun, aren't you?
RUMSFELD: Indeed, I always do.
O'REILLY: I knew you would.
QUESTION 3: "Prevailing wisdom: The Iraqis would not wage a guerilla war after Saddam was dethroned, but they have. Were you wrong on that?"
RUMSFELD: Well, was - did - did anyone estimate that the...
O'REILLY: But you're the Secretary of Defense. Were you wrong on that?
RUMSFELD: I wasn't head of the intelligence community. I mean - I - I - we all had intelligence and we looked at it and there were people who suggested any number of things. I mean, I was worried about a lot of things that could have gone wrong.
O'REILLY: OK. But were you wrong on that? You didn't - you didn't anticipate, as the DoD Secretary, you didn't anticipate this big gorilla, the insurgency.
RUMSFELD: The, the level of, extremism that's continued this long?
RUMSFELD: No. Of course not. Yeah.
O'REILLY: You're not - you're not perfect, but I just wanted to know whether you're wrong on it or not, because
RUMSFELD: [indecipherable] being wrong, though.
O'REILLY: I - I - I was the same with you but I was wrong on it ...
O'REILLY: ... but now when I look at the map, and I see Iran and Syria, two countries that hate us, I said I should have known better.
RUMSFELD: There's no question but that Iran is being notably unhelpful.
RUMSFELD: And what we've got to count on is that the Iraqi people - or even the Shi'a - are more Iraqi than they are Shi'a and that they're not gonna want Iran influencing their elections
O'REILLY: That's a lot to ....
RUMSELFD: It's a hope.
O'REILLY: Alright, then. We got three down. We've got seven more questions to go. Alright? We'll take a quick break ...
O'Reilly - the perfect example of the "you scratch my back and I'll scratch your back" school of journalism.
Parts Two and Three coming as soon as I can type them up.