- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2001

Text of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Mr. Rumsfeld's statement yesterday, which was joined in progress in this transcription:

Mr. Rumsfeld: First, we currently believe and are certainly hopeful that the number of casualties being reported in the press is high. … But from everything that we currently know, the estimate that's been widely reported is considerably high, and we certainly pray that that's the case….
We are, in a sense, seeing the definition of a new battlefield in the world, a 21st century battlefield. And it is a different kind of conflict, it is something that is not unique to this century, to be sure, but it is given our geography and given our circumstance it is in a major sense new for this country.
Finally, I'd like to say a word or two to the men and women in the defense establishment, most of whom deal with classified information. Since the end of the Cold War there has been a relaxation of tension, and it's had a lot of effects. It's led to proliferation, it's led to the movement toward asymmetrical threats as opposed to more conventional threats.
One of the other effects has been it has had an effect on how people handle classified information. And it seems to me that it's important to underline that when people deal with intelligence information and make it available to people who are not cleared for that classified information, the effect is to reduce the chances that the United States government has to track down and deal with the people who have perpetrated the attacks on the United States and killed so many Americans.
Second, when classified information dealing with operations is provided to people who are not cleared for that classified information, the inevitable effect is that the lives of men and women in uniform are put at risk. …

Q: Mr. Secretary, the casualty number you refer to, I assume, is the 800 number that was provided by the Arlington County Fire Department.
Mr. Rumsfeld: It is.

Q: And you say it's considerably high. We've heard from the military …
Mr. Rumsfeld: I said I hope and pray that it is.

Q: … the military services information from the military services indicates that it may be more in the neighborhood of 100 to 150. Is that closer to reality? Or can you give some better …
Mr. Rumsfeld: We just won't know until we finish the work. … So it is folly to try to pretend that there's a number before there's a number. …

Q: There are some in the Middle East who are saying that the United States does not have the belly to do the kind of response to this attack on the United States, that this administration, the previous administration don't have it to go after them in the kind of way that they have to be gone after. …
Mr. Rumsfeld: Well, I guess time will tell. I guess I'm kind of old-fashioned. I'm inclined to think that if you're going to cock it, you throw it, and you don't talk about it a lot. …
I think anyone who thinks it's easy is wrong. I think that it will require a sustained and broadly based effort. And I don't think that people ought to judge outcomes until sufficient time has passed …
It's not restricted to a single entity state or non-state entity. It is an attack on a way of life.
The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize. It is to alter behavior. It is to force people who believe in freedom to be less free … Anyone who has ever been in a war zone, as I know most of you have, you know that when you walk out of a building, you don't walk out with your head high, whistling. You look around the corner and see what's out there. That's not the way Americans live, and it's not the way we want to live.

Q: We're getting word from reporters at the White House, quoting Ari Fleischer, that the target of the 757 was actually the White House, and also Air Force One was targeted. …
Mr. Rumsfeld: I'll leave that to the White House.

Q: Mr. Secretary, your comments on the handling of classified information, is that are you suggesting that it's time to move to a more secretive government in which there's less transparency about what it is you're doing? …
Mr. Rumsfeld: Well, as I'm sure you've discovered, I do believe in openness. And I think it's enormously important in a free system with a free press and a democratic underpinning to our wonderful success as a country that we recognize that and respect it. I also know that you are quite right; there are things that get classified that ought not to be classified. …

Q: Was sloppy handling of classified information, did that play some role in the impact?
Mr. Rumsfeld: Not to my knowledge. It is an issue that I think, however, needs to be elevated and looked at. And that people in all aspects of government …

Q: …Why are you embracing that today? Has it happened in the aftermath?
Mr. Rumsfeld: It has been happening daily. …


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