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Rumsfeld, Myers Pentagon Briefing, April 9, 2003

(Iraq/liberation, Iraq/resistance forces, Red Cross/coalition POWs,
Afghanistan/civilian deaths, Iraq/Interim Authority, Republican
Guard/repositioning, Baghdad airport/humanitarian airlifts, Northern
Iraq Forces, Central Command/war plan, Iraqi loyalists,
Iraq/humanitarian relief, Syria/Iraqi senior leaders, Iraq war/Arab
public responses, embedded journalists/coalition forces) (5740)

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Air Force General Richard Myers,
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, conducted a briefing at the


Pentagon April 9.

Following is a transcript of the briefing:

(begin transcript)

United States Department of Defense
News Transcript
DoD News Briefing
Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Wednesday, April 9, 2003 - 1:30 p.m. EST

(Also participating Gen. Richard B. Myers, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of
Staff.


SEC. RUMSFELD: Good afternoon.

This is a good day for the Iraqi people. There is no question but that
there are difficult and very dangerous days ahead and that the
fighting will continue for some period. But certainly anyone seeing
the faces of the liberated Iraqis -- the free Iraqis -- has to say
that this is a very good day.

Tomorrow will mark three weeks since Operation Iraqi Freedom began and
the progress of the men and women in uniform who make up the coalition
forces has been nothing short of spectacular. They drove through the
south up, braving dust storms and death squads to reach Baghdad in
record time. They secured Iraq's southern oil fields for the Iraqi
people, took out terrorist camps in the north and the south, secured
large sections of western Iraq, preventing the regime from attacking
its neighbors with Scud missiles. They've liberated cities and towns
and are now in the Iraqi capital removing the regime from its seat of
power and center of gravity.

As Iraqis see the coalition progress, they are losing their fear of
this vicious regime, and I think it's safe to say that the mood in the
country is, in fact, tipping, at least in Baghdad.

The scenes of free Iraqis celebrating in the streets, riding American
tanks, tearing down the statues of Saddam Hussein in the center of
Baghdad are breathtaking. Watching them, one cannot help but think of
the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Iron Curtain. We
are seeing history unfold events that will shape the course of a
country, the fate of a people, and potentially the future of the
region. Saddam Hussein is now taking his rightful place alongside
Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Ceausescu in the pantheon of failed, brutal
dictators, and the Iraqi people are well on their way to freedom.

The general who led our war of liberation, George Washington, once
said, "My anxious recollection, my sympathetic feeling, and my best
wishes are irresistibly excited whensoever in any country I see an
oppressed nation unfurl the banners of freedom," unquote. As we watch
Iraqis unfurl the banners of freedom today, all Americans share in
their joy and celebrate with them, particularly those from Michigan
that we've seen on television, who are seeing their country, their
friends and often their relatives liberated.

Let me say a word to the families of those who have given their lives
in this war. As you watch these historic things unfold, take enormous
pride in the service of your loved ones. They made this possible.
Their sacrifice is permitting the liberation of a people and the end
of a regime that, thanks to them, will never again threaten the world
with its weapons.

And to those Iraqi people who are not yet free, let me assure you that
you will be free. I've seen President Bush almost every day since this
conflict began. And I can assure you that he is, like the American
people, committed to your freedom, and to your future, and to seeing
this effort through. We will not stop until Saddam Hussein's regime
has been removed from every corner of that country.

The Iraqi people are understandably elated at the prospect of life
without Saddam Hussein. We said from the beginning that he was
finished. Now they are daring to believe it, but there is still a
great deal of work to do and many unfinished missions to complete
before victory can be declared. Baghdad is in the process of being
liberated, although battles continue in and around the city and the
regime has been run out of a number of Iraqi cities and towns, but
other Iraqi cities are still being contested and there will still be
tough fighting and difficult tasks ahead.

We still must capture, account for, or otherwise deal with Saddam
Hussein and his sons and the senior Iraqi leadership.

We still must find and ensure the safe return of prisoners of war --
those captured in this war as well as any still held from the last
Gulf War: Americans and other nationals.

We still must secure the northern oil fields, which have probably been
wired for destruction, as was the case with the southern fields.

We still need to find and secure Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
facilities and secure Iraq's borders so we can prevent the flow of
weapons of mass destruction materials and senior regime officials out
of the country. We still must find out everything we can about how the
Iraqi regime acquired its capabilities and the proliferation that took
place by countries in the industrialized world. We need to locate
Iraqi scientists with knowledge of these programs. And we're asking
people to come forward and help in this effort. Rewards are available
to those who help us prevent the disappearance of personnel,
documentation and materials. Good lives and a better future are
possible for those who turn themselves in and choose to cooperate with
coalition forces.

We must also capture or kill the terrorists still operating in Iraq
and prevent them from gaining access to weapons of mass destruction.

We must locate Ba'ath Party members, records and weapon caches. We
must locate the records of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, the Special
Security Organization, the Fedayeen Saddam death squads and the
Special Republican Guards. We must locate the wealth of the Iraqi
regime inside of Iraq and outside of the country so it can be returned
to the rightful owners, the Iraqi people.

And we must begin the process of working with free Iraqis, those
liberated from portions of the country and those returning home from
exile, to establish an Iraqi interim authority and help to pave the
way for a new Iraqi government, a government to be chosen not by the
coalition, not by the United States, but by the Iraqi people, based on
democratic principles of political freedom, individual liberty and the
rule of law.

Much work remains, but this we can say with certainty: The tide is
turning, the regime has been dealt a serious blow, but coalition
forces will not stop until they have finished the job, the regime is
removed and the -- all of the Iraqi people are liberated.

And finally, to the Iraqi people, let me say this. There are a lot of
reporters embedded with coalition forces in your country. The
reporters should be interested and willing to listen. This is your
opportunity to tell them your stories so that history properly records
the viciousness -- the brutality of that regime and so that history is
not repeated.

To the free reporters and journalists in Iraq, this is your
opportunity to listen and report. It is an historic opportunity for
journalists. This is also true for Iraqis here in America, who can now
speak freely to the press without concern about their families and
friends still in Iraq.

General Myers?

MYERS: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

The chart shows that, in fact, we have made great strides in the last
three weeks, and it also shows that while Iraqis are beginning to
celebrate in parts of Baghdad and several other areas, there are
portions of Iraq still in the grip of fear. Out west, small numbers of
regime death squads still exist and are harassing travelers and
citizens. The coalition may also have to remove regime forces from
cities and areas in northern Iraq and to eliminate small pockets of
resistance in other areas. And we're currently doing just that. U.S.
Special Forces have seized a small town north of Mosul and key
positions south of Irbil, destroying tanks and trucks, and taking
several hundred enemy prisoners of war. More must be done in Baghdad,
as well. Fighting inside the capital presents a substantial risk to
coalition forces and we cannot and must not become overconfident.

Now we'd like to send specific messages to two very different groups.

First, in Iraq. To those who may be holding any coalition prisoners of
war: permit the International Red Cross to visit them. The Geneva
Convention requires you to ensure their health and well being. When
the hostilities end, we fully expect to find these young men and women
in good health and well cared for.

Now to another group in Afghanistan. To the families of the Afghan
citizens accidentally killed in a bombing in Afghanistan yesterday, we
send our sincere condolences. The incident occurred after U.S. troops
pursued enemy forces in the vicinity of Shkin. Close air support was
called in and guided munitions accidentally landed on a house, killing
11 Afghan civilians. We sincerely regret the incident.

And with that, we'll take your questions.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you mentioned the momentous pictures and what's
going on in Baghdad and parts of Iraq now. You also mentioned the need
to set up an interim authority. It seems as the shooting wanes in
coming days, that the humanitarian need will grow drastically. When do
you plan to send General Garner and his civil affairs team in from
Kuwait to begin doing this?

RUMSFELD: I can't see why the humanitarian situation would grow
drastically. Quite the contrary. The humanitarian --

Q: (Off mike.)

RUMSFELD: The humanitarian problem occurred under the Saddam Hussein
regime for a decade. The circumstance of those people has been
terrible. They had been denied all kinds of things because he was
unwilling to cooperate with the United Nations.

Now, what's happening now is that humanitarian assistance is coming
in. That doesn't mean the situation is worse, it means that it's
better. And it is better.

And let me just give you an example. I'll tell you what's going to
happen is, the more people who go into that country and see how
serious the situation is, the needs of those people, and they're real
needs, they're going to report there's a humanitarian crisis, the
implication that it just occurred. It didn't just occur. When they say
some city's been -- one-third of the city doesn't have sufficient
water, compare that with six months ago when maybe half of the city
didn't have sufficient water.

Here's just one, in Umm Qasr. It's generally a permissive environment,
flourishing somewhat due to the increase of aid and border activity.
The population has increased from 15,000 to 40,000, due to the
availability of supplies and employment. Water supply is above prewar
levels -- combination of U.K. pipeline and trucking. Electricity has
been restored by U.K. engineers. Sufficient food is readily available.
Medical facilities are sufficient and operating. UNICEF is providing
supplies. The port's cleared of mines and open to limited operations.
The channel needs dredging. Railway station is cleared by explosive
ordnance detachment. Rail line is intact from there to Nasiriyah and
they intend to open a line within seven days, which will allow
movement of bulk water up the Euphrates Valley.

So, I mean, there's just one city. I could say the same thing on Basra
or Nasiriyah. So the assumption in your question is false.

Q: I didn't mean to assume that. Nonetheless, you have said yourself
that government service is going to need to be set up, now that
there's a vacuum. What I meant to ask is when General -- when are
General Garner and his team going to begin to go in to begin setting
up these government services?

RUMSFELD: General Garner and his team were working here for weeks.
They then went to the -- I guess Kuwait, and have been there for some
weeks. I can remember seeing them off right here in the parking lot on
a Sunday morning, early. They've -- they have put together teams of
people to help deal with this problem.

The choice is, do you move them once and then have to move them again
to the Baghdad Airport area, or do you just wait a day or two and see
if in fact the Baghdad area is sufficiently secure that they can move
in there? And the answer is, they're going to move to the Baghdad area
at that point where the Baghdad Airport is in fact sufficiently secure
to take a number of civilians who are not in a combat situation, and
so that they can continue -- not begin but continue -- the process of
attempting to move towards a more normal circumstance, as the war and
the kinetics decline.

There's a lot more fighting that's going to be done. There are -- more
people are going to be killed; let there be no doubt. This is not
over, despite all the celebrations on the street. They're going to go
in at exactly the right moment and do a very good job.

Q: Mr. Secretary --

Q: Mr. Secretary, regarding further fighting --

MYERS: Charlie, I would just -- just to kind of emphasize what the
secretary just said, it really doesn't matter where General Garner or
his group is, because they are in fact acting now. The restoration of
water supplies in several southern towns, the restoration of
electrical power grids -- he's the one that is overseeing that, that
work, and it doesn't matter if he's in Baghdad or if he's in Kuwait or
wherever he is. He's the one charged with those responsibilities. And
so, just to emphasize what the secretary said, that's being done. So,
his location shouldn't be of great interest.

Q: The main reason I asked was General Blount said today that he
expected --

RUMSFELD: Who's he?

Q: The head of the 3rd.

Q: Third Infantry Division.

RUMSFELD: That General Blount! (Laughter.)

Q: He said in Baghdad today that he expected the humanitarian aid
flights would begin flying into Baghdad, as he put it, within days.

RUMSFELD: Planes are already landing in the Baghdad airport.

Q: But that's why I'm --

RUMSFELD: C-130s? They're already going in.

MYERS: C-17s.

RUMSFELD: No, it's -- the planes are already going into Baghdad
airport. That isn't the question. The question is, do you want to take
a large cell of people and put them in there and then provide force
protection in addition to all the other things that are taking place
in that particular --

MYERS: Under combat conditions --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Yeah.

MYERS: -- when you could have them working effectively from where they
are. So they'll --

RUMSFELD: So he's exactly correct.

Q: Mr. Secretary? Mr. Secretary, when peace finally comes to Iran
(sic), or at least there is some stability --

RUMSFELD: Iraq, maybe?

Q: Iraq. (Laughter.) I'm thinking ahead of myself. My tongue is faster
than my brain. Let me start again. When peace finally comes to Iraq,
at least stability, what's next in the Middle East? You have thrown
down the gauntlet to Syria. Are they in the sights for military
action? What about Iran, which to many is the 800-pound gorilla in the
Middle East? What's next for us in the Middle East?

RUMSFELD: No one's thrown down the gauntlet. I've accurately observed
that they would be well advised to not provide military capabilities
to Iraq. They seem to have made a conscious to decision to ignore
that. Senior regime people are moving out of Iraq into Syria, and
Syria is continuing to send things into Iraq. We find it notably
unhelpful.

The question you ask, however, is not a question I can answer. It
depends on people's behavior. And certainly I have nothing to
announce. We're still dealing with Iraq.

Q: Mr. Secretary?

RUMSFELD: Yes.

Q: You said in the list still left to do that the U.S. military must
still capture or otherwise deal with Saddam Hussein and his sons. Do
you believe that Saddam Hussein is still alive?

RUMSFELD: Don't know.

Q: Do you believe that he was in that building before it was taken
out?

RUMSFELD: Don't know.

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Q: General Myers?

RUMSFELD: Yes.

Q: Could you characterize --

RUMSFELD: No, no. That's two.

Q: No, hold on.

RUMSFELD: Nope, that's all. No hold on. (Laughter.)

Q: There was -- (inaudible.)

RUMSFELD: No! Yes, there was. (Laughter.) You just don't like one-word
answers. (Laughter.)

Yes.

Q: I wondered -- I wondered if I could ask General Myers if you would
describe what sort of Iraqi forces are left to contend with in the
north. Are they Republican Guards? Are they regular army? Do you have
an idea of how many?

And Mr. Secretary, in light of the criticisms of the supply line and
the pause that was reported a week or two ago, are you feeling
vindicated today?

MYERS: As far as the forces left to deal with, in Baghdad city itself,
still the special security organization, Special Republican Guard, the
death squads who are probably there and of course in other major
cities and probably even some of the smaller cities, Ba'athist Party
members who use force and fear and intimidation to coerce the
population.

In terms of regular army, there are about 10-plus regular army
divisions left in the north and perhaps as much as one brigade of a
Republican Guards division up there, an infantry division, that we
think is still left in the north. Now, they have been subjected to
bombing by air power and will continue to be dealt with in that way
for some time.

RUMSFELD: You're right, there have been a lot of people who've
suggested that the force was undersized and that they went too fast
and they should have had a long air war first. I happen to think that
-- it's not a matter for me to be vindicated. I happen to think that
General Franks and his team have done an absolutely superb job. And
the young folks in uniform who have marched to Baghdad and done such
superb work in the air and at sea, and the leadership they have had
with General McKiernan, and Admiral Keating and General Moseley,
working with General Franks, has been excellent. I think the outcome
is in the process of speaking for itself and it's not for me to draw
conclusions about it.

Q: But Mr. Secretary --

Q: Mr. Secretary? I'd like to address this to General Myers. You
particularly mentioned -- addressed your comments to the POW families.
Undoubtedly, the families of those POWs are looking at the pictures of
jubilation with some mixed feeling. What else can the U.S. military do
to help rescue those POWs or to do more than just warn the Iraqi
regime, the remnants of it, against doing anything to harm these
people?

MYERS: Well, the reason for my remarks and the way I phrased them
today was to not let the Iraqi regime off the hook for doing what is
the right thing to do, not only by international conventions that
they've signed up to, but what any decent folks would do -- the
honorable thing to do. Clearly there are -- clearly, the U.S. military
is very concerned about the whereabouts of these people, and I'm not
going to get into any more operational details than that.

Q: But you could assure them that the military is taking some sort of
step to rescue them.

MYERS: It's always -- sure. It's always one of the first priorities,
is to rescue our people and bring our people back. Absolutely.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you had used the term "tipping point," said the tide
is turning. You've said that you're not going to announce victory
prematurely, but it almost sounds as if you're announcing the defeat,
with Tikrit still ahead, of the Iraqi army. Is that --

RUMSFELD: No, I don't mean to be. I think that it's important to
recognize how exhilarated the Iraqi people who have been liberated
must feel. And when one looks at their faces and sees their joy, you
have to feel it in your heart that the entire country is not free.
There are a number of cities that are still hotly contested and will
be for some time. There are some cities that are now under coalition
control. There are also some that are partly under coalition control.

So there's a lot of work left to do and I do believe that we're
seeing, in the case of Baghdad, it is tipping. I mean, I think that
that's a fair comment. It doesn't mean that it's over, and again, it
most assuredly is not over, which is why I tried to properly balance
my comment the way I did, saying that there's going to be some very
tough days ahead.

Q: Is this a matter of weeks or months, and to what extent is Tikrit
--

RUMSFELD: You know I don't do time tables. We don't have to. You can't
know that. It's not knowable. We didn't know how long it was going to
last when it started.

Q: How about Tikrit --

RUMSFELD: A lot experts thought they knew how long it was going to
last, but we didn't.

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Q: Mr. Secretary?

RUMSFELD: Pam?

Q: A couple questions. Could you give us a little bit more detail
about what you're seeing with senior regime leaders going into Syria:
how many, and over what time period, and if you know any names? Plus
tell us a little bit more about the rewards that you mentioned for
Iraqi people that help the American soldiers?

And General Myers, could you tell us what happened to the hundreds or
thousands of regime loyalists that seem to have disappeared overnight
from Baghdad? Did you track them on the roads or did they sort of melt
into the city itself?

RUMSFELD: We are getting scraps of intelligence saying that Syria has
been cooperative in facilitating the movement of people out of Iraq
into Syria. And then in some cases they stay there and then -- and --
finding safe keeping there; in other cases they're moving from Syria
to still other places. We also have seen, in a number of instances,
people from Syria moving into Iraq, unhelpfully, as well as, as I
mentioned the other day, night vision goggles and that type of thing.

Rewards. There are several reward programs. I'm not supposed to
mention one department that has one. But there are at least two other
departments besides the Department of Defense who have reward
programs. They are very important, just as the opportunity for people
to improve their lives and get off a black list is important. And
there are rewards, and carrots, and sticks and we need help. We need
people to come forward who know where we can find the people who have
information on these records, so that the Ba'ath Party membership
names can be known, and so that the Iraqi Intelligence Service's
people's names can be known, and so that the names and faces of the
Fedayeen Saddam can be known, and so we can find documentation that
they've been spreading around the countryside on their weapons of mass
destruction program. We need help. We need people to come forward and
volunteer that information, and we're at a point now where they need
not fear -- if they're in one of the liberated areas -- they need not
fear this regime, because this regime is not going to come back and
occupy that country.

Yes?

Q: How much money --

Q: Speaking of weapons of mass destruction, how important --

Q: (Inaudible) -- General Myers --

Q: I'm sorry, did you want to follow that?

MYERS: I had a -- yeah --

RUMSFELD: Oh, I'm sorry.

MYERS: Pam asked what has happened to the folks that were defending --
the loyalists that were defending Baghdad. And I suspect that many
were killed in the defense. I suspect some are still fighting in
Baghdad. It's also possible that they have tried to leave or blend in
if they've lost their enthusiasm for supporting this regime. And we're
taking steps to deal with that in terms of interdicting the roads out
of Baghdad.

Q: Speaking of weapons of mass destruction, how important is it, given
the original rationale for the war of the disarming Saddam of those
weapons, that we find significant caches of weapons of mass
destruction? And secondly, are you concerned at all that --

RUMSFELD: Why don't we start doing one question at a time? There's so
many people here and we're doing two and three -- everybody seems to
want to do two --

Q: This is related. Are you concerned that --

RUMSFELD: Well, let me get this one -- write this one down. How
important is it that we find a lot, I think you said, of weapons --

Q: Significant caches of weapons of mass destruction.

RUMSFELD: Okay, what's the next one?

Q: And are you concerned that those weapons might have been shipped
out of the country -- (inaudible) --

RUMSFELD: You bet. On the latter portion, you bet we're concerned
about it. And one of the reasons it's important is because the nexus
between terrorist states with weapons of mass destruction -- in this
case, chemical and biological and nuclear technologies and knowledge
-- and terrorist groups -- networks -- is a critical link. And the
thought that as part of this process, some of that -- those materials
could leave the country and in the hands of terrorist networks would
be a very unhappy prospect. So it is important to us to see that that
doesn't happen.

Q: I'm sorry, what about the rationale for the war? Is it important in
that sense that we find them?

RUMSFELD: Look, we are in the process of trying to liberate that
country. And at the moment where the war ends and the coalition forces
occupy the areas where those capabilities -- chemical and biological
weapons -- are likely to be, to the extent they haven't been moved out
of the country -- it obviously is important to find them. But that is
-- I don't quite get the thrust of the question. (Cross talk.)

Q: Has the rather sudden collapse of defenses in Baghdad -- are you
seeing evidence yet that that's energizing the Kurdish -- either
forces in the North -- that could lead to an acceleration of the
success in the North as well?

RUMSFELD: We've not seen anything that indicates that yet. Does it
probably help? To the extent it's known -- and communications are
imperfect in that country at the present time, purposely so -- but it
probably does help some that they -- people in Baghdad -- saw that
Basra had changed hands and that the people in the North see that
Baghdad is in the process of changing hands. It probably helps some.
We haven't seen any evidence of it yet.

(Cross talk.)

Q: Could I follow that, Mr. Secretary?

RUMSFELD: Yeah?

Q: I just wanted a clarification on your WMD [weapons of mass
destruction] answer. Are you worried that WMD material or
documentation was moved out of Iraq, or do you actually have
intelligence that leads you to believe it has moved? Is it a concern,
or has it happened?

RUMSFELD: No, it's a concern. It clearly would be unhelpful if
terrorists got their hands on some of Iraq's chemical or biological
capabilities.

Yes?

Q: Mr. Secretary, here's a single question that hopefully doesn't lend
itself to a one-word answer. (Scattered laughter.) What about Saddam
Hussein? (Scattered laughter.)

Q: Yeah.

Q: Ooh. (Laughter, cross talk.)

Q: It's a trick question.

RUMSFELD: (Sighs.)

Q: This side of the room -- (off mike).

RUMSFELD: Exactly what is it about him that you're interested in?
(Laughter.)

Q: I was asking -- (off mike) --

RUMSFELD: His health?

Q: Where is he? Do you know where he is? Are you trying to get him? Is
he likely to get away? Does it --

RUMSFELD: There's no question but that a -- it is hard to find a
single person. It is hard to find them when they're alive and mobile,
it's hard to find them when they're not well, and it's hard to find
them if they're buried under rubble. We don't know.

And he's not been around. He's not active. Therefore, he's either dead
or he's incapacitated, or he's healthy and cowering in some tunnel
some place, trying to avoid being caught. What else can one say?

Q: Will you get him?

RUMSFELD: Who knows? Who knows? Time will tell.

The important things that needed to happen will happen. The regime
will change, and the country will no longer have weapons of mass
destruction. It will no longer threaten its neighbors. It will have an
opportunity for the people of Iraq to participate in determining what
kind of a government they want. And liberated people will be able to
be free to say what they want and do what they want. They might even
have a free press eventually there.

Q: Mr. Secretary?

Q: Mr. Secretary?

RUMSFELD: Bill?

Q: Yeah, what's the state of the command and control with Baghdad
collapsing and these forces in the north? Are they communicating, are
they able to conduct operations in the north, or is that collapsing
too?

MYERS: I think the command and control, as we've talked about over the
days, has been degrading. We don't see any organized resistance from
the Republican Guard inside Baghdad. There is sporadic resistance; how
well organized, it's hard to tell because it's sporadic.

In the north, the forces there have essentially not moved. I mean,
elements of the Republican Guard divisions did move south -- that was
some time ago now. But the rest of them are pretty much in static
positions, falling back a little bit from the green line, if you will,
but no movement. And we have not -- their communications are
diminished.

Q: Mr. Secretary, as these powerful images of the last three weeks
have been broadcast out to the world, is it your sense, especially in
the Arab-speaking world, that they have become convinced of the
rightness of the cause that you are fighting this war for, or do you
feel that this three-week campaign thus far has created many more
people who want to come after Americans -- (pauses) -- well, I'll just
stop there.

RUMSFELD: We have no evidence that the latter is happening. There's no
question but that there are a number of, particularly television
stations, as well as print, in that part of the world that have
carried a message that was false. They've carried a message that tried
to lead people in that part of the world to believe that we were
fighting Iraq and the Iraqi people, as opposed to a vicious dictator
-- that we were anti a religion, which is totally untrue.

But that's going to be counterbalanced with the faces of people who
are free and the test is in the tasting. The United States is not
going to stay in that country and occupy it. We have plenty of other
things that our people like to do with their lives, and we don't make
it a practice of going out and seeking someone else's wealth or real
estate.

So, we'll do our job, we'll do it well, and we'll leave as that
country is set on a path to guide its own future. We'll try to be
helpful from a humanitarian standpoint, which we're already doing.

And, you know, truth ultimately finds it way to people's ears and eyes
and hearts, and I don't worry about that over the long term. Does it
make me sad to see television saying things that are flat not true and
people printing things in that part of the world that's flat not true,
children being taught things that are flat not true? Yes, it bothers
me. But what can one do except to tell the truth, behave in a way
that's consistent with our values -- and this country and the
coalition has done that in this case. And there is, I am certain,
among the Iraqi people a respect for the care and the precision that
went into that bombing campaign. It was not a long air campaign. It
didn't last for weeks. And there was minimal collateral damage --
unintended damage. And the preciseness of the targeting was respected
such that people could go out on the streets of those towns during
bombing raids, and -- unless they were connected to a military regime
facility, unless they were -- except for those that -- if you think
about it, that regime took a lot of care to put their weapons and
their command and control in schools, mosques and hospitals, and they
ought to be held accountable for it. And that's something that
journalists embedded out there ought to be asking people, because it
went on day after day after day.

Q: Mr. Secretary --

MYERS: To follow on that, I mean, that's -- I think the thing that the
folks ought to notice out in the region, that it was the United States
and our coalition partners who wanted to put our blood and treasure on
the line for a couple of large Muslim populations: one in Afghanistan,
and now in Iraq. Objectives in the places a little bit different,
initially, but the end objective never in doubt. And that is provide
an environment for security and stability, a chance for
self-governance, a better future for themselves and their families
than they've ever had before. I hope that was noticed, because it was
our blood and treasure that we put on the line to do this and, as the
secretary said, with no desire to be there one moment longer than
required to give them that kind of future.

RUMSFELD: One other thing. The reporters that have been embedded with
the young men and women in uniform -- ours and the Brits and others --
have got to have seen wonderful young people conducting themselves
professionally in a well-trained and professional manner, and they'll
come back and tell people that truth. And that's a good thing.

Thank you very much.

(end transcript)

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Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)