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Defense Secretary Declares War on the Pentagon's Bureaucracy

Aired September 10, 2001 - 19:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: The Defense secretary declared war today on the Pentagon. Donald Rumsfeld calls the bureaucracy an adversary which poses a serious threat to U.S. security.

CNN's Jamie McIntrye on the frustration of changing course.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: So today we declare war on bureaucracy, not people but processes.

JAMIE MCINTRYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In an unusually blunt speech aimed directly at the Pentagon's bureaucrats and military brass, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld launched a frontal assault on the Pentagon.

RUMSFELD: In this building, despite the era of scarce resources, attacks by mounting threats, money disappears into duplicate duties, bloated bureaucracy, not because of greed but gridlock.

MCINTYRE: He compared the Pentagon bureaucracy with its five- year plans to the old Soviet Union.

RUMSFELD: With brutal consistency it stifles free thought and crushes new ideas.

MCINTYRE: And he said reform was no less than a matter of life and death.

RUMSFELD: I have no desire to attack the Pentagon. I want to liberate it. We need to save it from itself.

MCINTYRE: While heavy on rhetoric, Rumsfeld was light on specifics. He again made the case that closing unneeded military bases could save 3 or 4 billion dollars. He promised to cut Pentagon headquarter staff by 15 percent, and move officers, in his words, "from the bureaucracy to the battlefield." And he said he will consolidate duplicate jobs and shift more work to private contractors.

But there's a limit to how much Rumsfeld can run the Pentagon like a big business, argue his critics, who say his tough talk seems to signal frustration over the slow pace of reform.

LAWRENCE KORB, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: This is not new. Every secretary has -- says it at one time or another in his tenure. The problem is that government isn't a business, and there are very good reasons for all of the things that frustrate secretaries. And a lot of them have to do with the fact that we have a political system.

MCINTYRE (on camera): Rumsfeld's aides insist far from being frustrated he is energized by battling the bulging bureaucracy. In his speech, he laid down the marker: "If there is to be struggle," he said, "so be it."

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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