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Pentagon Re-Ups 20,000 Troops for 90 More Days in Iraq; Euro Leaders Reject Bin Laden Truce Offer
Aired April 15, 2004 - 13:57 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Extended tours of duty for U.S. soldiers in Iraq. A live briefing from the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, at the Pentagon very shortly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Especially if you're going to drive up and down the roads in Iraq, really rethink it. Is the money really worth dying for?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Hard questions for civilians caught in the crossfire in Iraq.
A truce or consequences? An offer for European countries in a tape believed to be from Osama bin Laden. How are they responding?
And how are young voters responding to the presidential candidates? A snapshot from the campaign trail.
From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Miles O'Brien. Kyra Phillips is off today. This hour of CNN's LIVE FROM. starts right now.
Up first this hour, leaving, staying and dying in Iraq. It seems 21,000 U.S. troops who have been in Iraq for a year will be there three more months. The Pentagon is breaking out its one-year-and-out pledge in light of this month's spurt in violence and deaths.
Other latest developments: Three Japanese civilians taken hostage in Iraq a week ago, are free today. Insurgents have threatened to burn alive a journalist, researcher and aid worker if Japanese troops weren't pulled out of the country. That didn't happen and two more Japanese are believed to have been kidnapped since.
A diplomat from neighboring was gunned down in Baghdad on his way home from work. Attackers reportedly fired into the moving car of Khalil Naimi, press and cultural attache at the Iranian embassy. It is not clear why, though an Iranian delegation is it visiting on a mission to help ease tensions there.
Having exactly the opposite effect are leaflets turning up on Baghdad streets, warning residents to spend the next week indoors. "Your brothers, the Mujahedeen," the leaflets say, "will bring the fire of the resistance to the capital. Baghdad mosques are calling for a general strike in the same period.
Extended tours for selected GIs are sure to come up when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld meets reporters less that 15 minutes than now. In the meantime, here's CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The last time the Pentagon extended combat tours in Iraq back in November, it promised to limit service in the war zone to one year.
LT. GEN. NORTON SCHWARTZ, JOINT STAFF OPERATIONS DIR.: The principle that we are working to here is alert early, to provide predictability and make sure that families, employers and others have a sense of ground truth.
MCINTYRE: But with the counterinsurgency operations raging in Fallujah and perhaps soon in Najaf, the Pentagon can't afford to keep its promise. Some 20,000 U.S. troops, including the 1st Armored Division, based in Germany, and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, based in Ft. Polk, Louisiana, will have to stay three more months.
That will keep 135,000 American troops in Iraq instead of drawing down to 115,000, as the Pentagon planned. It is tough on the troops, tougher on their families.
LAVONDA WOODRING, WIFE OF NATIONAL GUARDSMAN: He called and said, Lavonda, I didn't want to call you yesterday, because I know it was Easter. And I wanted to wait until today, but they told us we have been extended.
MCINTYRE: Lavonda Woodring's husband is a military policeman and National Guard volunteer. When another soldier from the same North Carolina unit, Staff Sergeant Steve Lillard, gave his wife the news, she started a petition drive to get them home.
LEE LILLARD, WIFE OF NATIONAL GUARDSMAN: This came as quite a blow because my husband has been gone from home since March of 2003. And he is National Guard. And I consider that, as everyone else does, our weekend warriors, our part time soldiers.
MCINTYRE (on camera): Asked about last year's promise to limit combat tours to one year, one Pentagon official said, we meant it when we said it. Another quickly added, however, this is war.
Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.
O'BRIEN: Don't go away. Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon briefing starts moments from now, 2:15 Eastern, 11:15 Pacific. We of course will bring it to you live as it happens.
The CIA says the voice on a new audiotape is most likely that of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. And it was probably made within the last three weeks. The tape message offers a deal for Europeans only: stop attacking Muslims, get out of the Middle East and save yourselves from further attacks. The tape makes direct reference to 9/11 and the March 11 bombing in Madrid.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): This is a message to our neighbors north of the Mediterranean Sea with a proposal for a truce in response to the positive reactions which emerge there. What happened on September 11 and March 11 are your goods returned to you so that you know security is a necessity for all. We do not accept that you monopolize it for yourselves. And knowledgeable nations will not accept that their leaders risk their security.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Now that deal does not extend to the U.S., instead the speaker pledges revenge for Israel's March 22 assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BIN LADEN (through translator): Our actions come in response to your actions of destroying and killing our people in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine. It is enough to witness the event that shocked the world, the killing of the elderly wheelchair-bound Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, God have mercy on him, and we pledge to God to take revenge on America, God willing.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: As expected, European leaders are saying, no deal. CNN's Guy Raz joins us from London now with more on that -- Guy.
GUY RAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Miles, as you said, this has been welcomed with total and complete, universal disregard among European leaders. Just a short time ago, we heard from British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. He said his government treats this with contempt. We also heard from members of the Spanish government, the newly-elected Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, not directly addressing this apparent offer from bin Laden. But generally European leaders across the board have been very condemnatory, saying, no way, we're not going to be negotiating with anyone like bin Laden.
In addition, there have been similar kinds of responses from Europeans on the street. Most people in European capitals today that we've heard from have said bin Laden is a terrorist and they do not want their governments to negotiate with him under any circumstances -- Miles.
O'BRIEN: Guy Raz in London. Thank you very much.
The war on terror, the war in Iraq and Middle East peace, all urgent issues for British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in New York tonight for discussions with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. Tomorrow Mr. Blair meets with President Bush in the Oval Office. Afterwards the two leaders holding a joint news conference.
On the campaign trail today, we're following the moves of President Bush and Democrat John Kerry. The president in Iowa. He spoke about improving the situation in Iraq this tax day. And he had a little more to say about the economy, of course.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We went through a recession. Recession hurt. It hurt in all sectors of our country. Recession means that we had negative growth for three quarters. Negative growth meant it was hard for people to find work. Negative growth meant it was hard to be optimistic about the future. And yet we overcame that recession. I will argue that the tax relief made the recession one of the most shallow in American economic history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry also on the stump. He spoke to students at Howard University in Washington, part of his campus tour. He's touting his college tuition relief plan and countering the president's current economic plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: . out of trying to convince America that he's lowered taxes for all Americans and that I'm going to come along and somehow raise taxes on Americans. He's misleading Americans one more time.
There's a big truth deficit in this administration. And this president is busy trying to run away from his own record and create a phony one for someone else because he doesn't have a record to run on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Now a poll by Harvard University's Institute of Politics takes a look at the presidential race through the eyes of college students. They were surveyed over 10 day last month: 48 percent said they would vote for John Kerry, 38 percent President Bush; but when asked who would make a better college roommate, George Bush got 43 percent of the vote compared to 42 percent for John Kerry.
News across America for you now, if you live in one of those battleground states and you've waited until the last minute to file taxes, you may get a little value-added while waiting in line to mail returns tonight. Political operatives from both Bush and Kerry camps will be handing out flyers, pointing out why their candidate's tax strategy is better.
Talk may be cheap, but airtime will cost you. The liberal talk radio network Air America already off the air in two major markets: L.A. and Chicago. The company that sold the air time says it hit the mute button when Air America's check bounced. Air America's response? We'll see you in court. It's asked a New York judge to intervene.
And speaking of judges, the one presiding over the Jayson Williams trial will not dismiss the case against the former NBA player. The defense claimed prosecutors withheld crucial evidence. Prosecutors say that it was just an error. Williams was not in court today. His second daughter, Wisdom, was born on Tuesday.
The fight for Iraq: In just a few moments, we're expecting a live briefing from the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld. We, of course, plan to bring it to you live from the Pentagon as it happens.
And risky business. Civilians under attack in Iraq. Some of them are asking, is it worth it?
O'BRIEN: Just a few moments away from a Pentagon briefing with the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld. We, of course, will bring it to you live as soon as it happens. Meantime, kidnappings, ambushes, assassinations and mutilation, you might wonder why anyone would volunteer to work in Iraq's deadly war zone? Well, it pays well. But after last week's fiery attacks on civilian convoys, some drivers decided it is just not worth it.
CNN's Ed Lavandera spoke with them. Now they are safe at home in Houston, Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Steve Heering and Stacy Clark feel safe again. Four months as civilian Halliburton contractors, driving fuel trucks in Iraq, was too much to handle. Heering and Clark say the mood in Iraq started changing three weeks ago. Rocks, roadside explosions and mortar fire were already common. Then last Friday their convoy was ambushed.
STACY CLARK, TRUCK DRIVER: I seen a guy come across from the left side of the road. He come across, he threw a grenade underneath his -- Stephen's rear trailer tires. Well, they just ignited. It just, boom, you know, flames everywhere.
LAVANDERA (on camera): Heering and Clark never drove another route. They quit. Halliburton says 30 of its employees have been killed in Iraq and Kuwait. Civilian workers aren't allowed to carry weapons. And many don't have military training. But they're lured to the jobs by the promise of an $80,000 a year paycheck.
(voice-over): In Houston, thousands are still applying for civilian jobs in Iraq. This training seminar is the last chance for prospective employees to back out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rocket that went through the side of the trailer. They made it. He didn't.
LAVANDERA: Despite the warnings, John Bolam is ready for his second trip back to Iraq.
JOHN BOLAM, TRUCK DRIVER: I'm going more for the fact that I'm too old to go in the military. I am ex-military. And I want to do my part. And this is one of the ways I can help take care of our guys over there in Iraq.
LAVANDERA: Since returning from Iraq, Heering and Clark have been urging people to think hard before signing up.
STEVE HEERING, TRUCK DRIVER: Especially if you are going to drive up and down the roads in Iraq, really rethink it. It is the money really worth dying for?
LAVANDERA: For Steve Heering and Stacy Clark the answer to that question was simple.
Ed Lavandera, CNN, Houston.
O'BRIEN: A freed hostage in Iraq talks about his ordeal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDRE JORDANOV, JOURNALIST, FMR. HOSTAGE: They were screaming "jihad" and they blindfolded me and threw me in the back of the car with a blade under my throat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: More of his story ahead on LIVE FROM.
O'BRIEN: Live pictures of the Pentagon briefing room. We expect the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, to walk in any moment now. The press waiting for him. We'll bring that briefing to you live as it happens.
Meanwhile, news around the world to tell you about. The FBI warns police across the country to be on the alert: 10,000 French passports have been stolen and could potentially compromise the safety of U.S. borders, although the FBI stresses it has no hard information the documents are being used for terror activities. It is concerned, however, because French citizens can enter the U.S. for 90 days without a visa.
O'BRIEN: In Madrid, incoming Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero pledges he'll legalize same-sex marriages and grant equal rights to gay couples.
Live now to the Pentagon, the secretary of defense and Marine General Peter Pace.
(BEGIN LIVE EVENT)
DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Good afternoon, folks.
The coalition forces have had a tough period of days in Iraq. But the forces are performing with courage and with determination, and certainly the American people can be very proud of them.
Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones of those American and coalition forces that have been killed over recent days and for those lives that will not be fully lived; and certainly the individuals who have been wounded as well.
What they're doing is important. It's noble work. And in the end, it will be successful.
General Pace and I talked to General Abizaid this morning. He reports that the challenge in Fallujah is being contained and that the situation in the south at this time is largely stabilized, while there are still various attacks and incidents taking place.
The coalition has had good cooperation from the moderate Shia leadership who, like the vast majority of the Iraqi people, want to see freedom and the rule of law take root.
Over the past year, the coalition has pursued a strategy of building up Iraqi institutions and strengthening the Iraqi people's capacity for self-government and self-reliance.
RUMSFELD: The progress that's taken place, governance, security, and in essential services all represent a threat to the goals of the terrorists and the regime remnants, which is very likely why, as the transfer of sovereignty approaches, those folks have stepped up their efforts to sow violence.
The terrorists and the leftovers of Saddam Hussein's regime also have a strategy. Their objective is to break the will of the American people and drive the U.S. and coalition forces out of Iraq; to foment civil war among Iraqis, as has been announced in one of the intercepted letters; and to stop the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people.
Their strategy is failing. Far from leaving, coalition forces have responded forcefully to recent attacks.
The threats in Fallujah are being contained. Sadr's bid to dominate the Shia and to foment a popular Shia uprising are both failing.
Progress toward self-government and self-reliance continues. Our coalition has more than 30 nations in Iraq, and they are standing firm.
General Abizaid has requested additional combat capability for the period ahead above the current level that has been the pattern, which has been plus or minus 115,000 troops in Iraq.
The current level, because of the redeployment transfers, is about 137,000.
I've approved General Abizaid's request.
After our comments here, General Pace and I will turn the meeting over to General Casey and his associates. And they will be prepared to provide some additional detail.
But essentially we've approved the extension of roughly 20,000 forces, people who are currently in the theater, of which roughly a quarter, as I recall, are likely to be Guard and Reserve personnel.
The period will be for up to an additional 90 days in Iraq and up to 120 days total deployment.
Note that this does not represent a freeze on all of the forces that were scheduled to rotate out of Iraq.
RUMSFELD: Of the roughly 115,000 troops that had been scheduled to rotate out, some 36,000 are still in the theater. And of that 36,000 a portion, as I said, about 20,000 will likely be retained for a period while the remainder will continue their rotations home.
If additional capability is needed in Iraq, longer than the up to 90 days that General Abizaid anticipates, the current plan is to replace them by bringing in other forces; that is to say, replace those that would be extended by bringing in other forces from other locations in the world.
Needless to say, we regret having to extend those individuals. They had anticipated being in country or in the AOR something like up to 365 days. This will extend their time in Iraq somewhat.
But the country is at war. And we need to do what is necessary to succeed.
Let me add that we have been and are using emergency powers that are granted by Congress to increase the overall number of U.S. military forces above the so-called statutory year-end strength number.
We'll continue to use those authorities to adjust force levels, as is necessary. As I've said, we're engaged in a test of will. We'll meet that test. A small band of terrorists are not going to be permitted to determine the fate of the 25 million Iraqi people.
GENERAL PETER PACE, VICE CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Of those forces that are remaining in country, the units that will be described to you by General Casey and his team include the 1st Armored Division, elements of that 1st Division; the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, some helicopter units and engineers to support them in that maneuver; the combat support and combat service support, the logistics and the mechanics and the maintainers who keep the force moving.
And as the secretary said, about one-fourth of those are Guard and Reserve.
PACE: Certainly to those families of those soldiers, we thank them for their continued sacrifice, and to the employers of the Guard and Reserve, for their continued contribution to this war on terrorism. It's not an easy sacrifice, but as the secretary mentioned, it's a very worthy cause.
With that, we'll start with your questions.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, it appears that what you're saying is that about 135,000 troops will remain in Iraq for maybe 90 days or more. Is that what you're saying, that numbers will not be crawling down to about 115, but 135,000 will remain?
RUMSFELD: I think I'll let you ask -- well, General Casey can speak to the Army. But I did not bring the sheet down.
Is that roughly right?
PACE: That's right. There are still some forces that are en route to go over. So you have, as the secretary said, about 36,000 who are there who were due to come home. There's an additional group that's on the way over. Of the 36,000 that is there now, due to come home, about 20,000 will be retained so that the total of retained, added to the 115 would take you up to about 135,000.
QUESTION: And you're fairly confident that after 90 days you'll be able to start drawing down to 115,000 or you just don't know?
RUMSFELD: You know me. I'm not going to set -- it depends on the facts on the ground. We've said all along from the very beginning we'd use the level of forces that are necessary to prevail. That was true during the major combat operations. It has been true during stabilization operations subsequently. And you can't predict the future. You simply cannot do that. So why bother? Why try?
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I have a question for you that is really much the same as the question that was asked the president Tuesday night by Washington Post reporter. And since two days have gone by, I hope perhaps your answer will be more definitive than the president's.
RUMSFELD: Oh, come on. You can do an original question.
RUMSFELD: You don't have to repeat a White House correspondent's questions, do you really? Reach down in the duffel bag. Come on, you can do it.
QUESTION: Then I'll ask General Pace a question if you'll allow me to come back to you. Will you allow me to do that?
But it is a pressing question, Mr. Secretary. And that is to whom will the coalition turn over Iraq on June 30th? It is totally unclear...
RUMSFELD: Oh, we can answer that. The president's press conference as I recall, was prior to the time that Mr. Brahimi, the United Nations representative, had made his announcement, I believe.
RUMSFELD: And he has since made his announcement. He has been in the country, consulting with a variety of Iraqis and a variety of coalition people. He has thought about it, consulted his cohorts in the United Nations. And he has announced what he believes to be something that would be an appropriate interim step between where we are -- the Iraqi Governing Council -- and a fully legitimate, constitutionally elected government of Iraq which would follow.
So he's announced it. The Coalition Provisional Authority and other officials, the Department of State and the White House, have indicated that they think his approach was a reasonable one. And it is now something that I'm sure Iraqis and others will have a chance to look at, discuss, think about.
One has to say that the odds favor a model something like what Mr. Brahimi announced.
QUESTION: Do we know specifically the make-up -- how many Shia, how many Kurds, how many Sunnis?
RUMSFELD: I think he probably, being a skillful diplomat, probably -- I did not follow every word of his presentation. But my guess is what he did was he presented it not as a U.N. model and not as his model, but what his best judgment is as to a model that seems to be appropriate. And there may be pieces of it that would get worked out as people get -- it will involve a process of people talking to each other and deciding who fits in those various pieces. And during that process there may be some tweaking of it, but I think very likely what you see is what you'll get.
QUESTION: Could I ask my question to General Pace, sir? A quick one. I mean, we don't want him to be there without questions.
General Pace, sir, there are so-called pundits inside the Beltway that we're all familiar with who claim that the 20,000 additional troops are fine, but that perhaps an equal number will be needed in the near future. I know you're not going to comment on the number, but specifically these pundits are saying that another heavy division is necessary, more Abrams, more Bradleys.
QUESTION: Would you comment on that, please?
PACE: What General Abizaid and General Sanchez have requested of the president through the secretary is exactly what they're getting. It is sufficient and correctly sized for the threat that they now face. It is a large chunk of the 1st Armored Division. It is the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. It is helicopters and engineers, logisticians and the like -- all of whom together form a very formidable force -- is what they asked for now. And as the president has told us many times, the battlefield commanders will describe their needs to the secretary and the president and they will be provided as needed.
That is what the battlefield commanders are saying they need right now, and that's what's being provided.
QUESTION: General Pace, the units you mentioned have had some elements return to their home stations. Will any of those troops be called back immediately into the combat zone?
PACE: No, no.
QUESTION: General Pace, would you please explain to us what's going on in Najaf and Fallujah in as much detail as you can, and pay particular attention to the negotiations that are ongoing? Because I'm confused as to what is actually being negotiated. What is it the United States wants to happen there? And what are we willing to give up? Is negotiation the right word? We say we don't negotiate with terrorists.
And, Mr. Secretary, could you please address the question with regard to Sadr? Who decided to close the newspaper and announce that there was a warrant out for his arrest before the military actually had a chance to act on that?
It seems to me that's, sort of, broadcasting your intentions beforehand and maybe contributed to some of the troubles that are there now.
And if you'd speak in general to the policy of closing newspapers in Iraq, while I understand the rationale for it, it seems to me it's maybe not the best precedent to set when the new Iraqi government comes in.
RUMSFELD: Wait a second. You're in your third or fourth question.
QUESTION: But I think that it's really important. It'd be lovely if we could boil everything down about Iraq to five or six words, but we just can't.
RUMSFELD: Let's just start with Sadr.
My recollection, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that the Iraqi system, the Iraqi court system and legal system designated the individual who was arrested as one who should be arrested.
RUMSFELD: And the decision, I believe, was made by Iraqis. And I believe the Coalition Provisional Authority very likely approved it.
QUESTION: No, I don't have a problem with the decision that was made...
RUMSFELD: You said, "Who made the decision?"
QUESTION: Who made the decision to close the newspaper and announce publicly that he was being sought for arrest before the military was able to go after him? It seems to me that that, sort of, ends up motivating his supporters to oppose it and make it more difficult to catch him.
RUMSFELD: Who is "him" in this case?
RUMSFELD: Sadr himself. I thought you were talking about the lieutenant that was arrested, Sadr's lieutenant that was arrested.
Sadr has been unavailable for some time. And I suppose that the Iraqi decision involving his lieutenant and the newspaper -- the newspaper undoubtedly falls under a normal set of rules as to what was going on. And they were undoubtedly inciting the kinds of things that the circumstances there don't permit.
But if one were to wait until Sadr was available, he already knew that what the Iraqi court had said about him and his possible connection to the al-Khoei murder. So it was no great surprise that that announcement was made.
QUESTION: Can you address Najaf and the negotiations... PACE: In Fallujah what you have is the United States Marines applying very precise application of combat power. They began, as you expect, in a very aggressive way. And we're, in fact, killing many of the enemy. But they were getting deeper and deeper into the city.
And as will happen with combat, you're going to have destruction of things in the city which in the humane fight that we're trying to conduct, we are trying to avoid.
So the military commanders have paused offensive operations in Fallujah to give the Iraqi Governing Council and those interested in peace in Iraq to work through the details of settling that situation without having to continue the offensive operations on the ground.
PACE: That is what's happening there. In Najaf, we have, again, coalition forces that have been moved into the area, again giving the Iraqi Governing Council and others interested in peace the opportunity to work through the details with Sadr.
QUESTION: Can you be satisfied with anything other than complete surrender?
PACE: I'm sorry. I didn't hear the question.
QUESTION: Can you be satisfied with anything other than complete surrender of the enemy force in both of those cases?
PACE: The military forces will execute the mission that we're giving. Right now the mission is to hold our positions and give the Iraqi Governing Council the opportunity to work inside their own country for the peace and security of the people in both Najaf and Fallujah.
RUMSFELD: If folks could stick to one question, we could get around the room and touch on more people.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you. It's election year in India and also here we have in the U.S. But some opposition parties in India need a clarification and that now India and Pakistan are getting closer, they're getting to the level of friendship. But there is a misunderstanding as far as if you can clarify, Mr. Secretary, that you have given the status of (inaudible) partnership to India, between India and the United States, and also at the same time recently, a special non-NATO ally status to Pakistan. Where do we stand, or can you clarify what is the difference between the two, sir?
RUMSFELD: Well, I tell you, those are announcements that are made by the Department of State and the president, and I think the questions are best directed there.
I can characterize our relationships, however. We have a close and increasingly close relationship with each of those countries. We have been extremely pleased with the fact that they have moved in a number of ways toward discussions and reduction of tensions that existed, as you'll recall, over the past year to two years. And the progress that's being made there is excellent.
We value our relationship with each country. They're different countries and our relationships are slightly different. But I think trying to grade them in some way wouldn't be useful.
RUMSFELD: I know that each month I have been here, we have seen an increase in closeness in the military-to-military and defense-to- defense relationships with each of those countries. And in each case we value them.
QUESTION: ... to India or Pakistan, sir?
RUMSFELD: Well, I hope so someday. I certainly try to make that stop there every once in a while.
QUESTION: General Pace, a follow-up to your question on Fallujah, you said there was a pause in offensive operations to allow assistance to the get to the Iraqis. How much of that was also to get supplies to the Marines? And is there a problem with the supply lines in the south, especially with the loss of the bridge?
PACE: None of it was to get supplies to the Marines. The loss of a bridge is significant, but does not stop with us the kinds of transportation we have, both air and ground.
The pause has been -- and I should make sure because I'm using very specific terms, this does not mean the fighting has stopped. The elements in Fallujah that are anti-freedom are still attacking Marines. And when they attack, they are killed. So we are dealing with them in a very aggressive, offensive way when they attack us. But we are not moving through the city giving the Iraqi government a chance to function.
QUESTION: General Pace, talking about Fallujah we continue to hear from Marine commanders that there are a lot of foreign fighters on the ground, and perhaps a lot of them are being killed. Can you describe the enemy that they're facing there in Fallujah? Is it largely foreign terrorists?
PACE: I don't know yet because there are still many in the city. So we're not sure what the flavors of those who are fighting are yet. Clearly there have been a lot of fighters who have been killed. But to try to describe a percentage or a type of fighter right now, I don't have that.
QUESTION: I'd like to follow up. Monday, General Abizaid chastised Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya for their coverage of Fallujah and saying that hundreds of civilians were being killed. Is there an estimate on how many civilians have been killed in fighting? And can you definitely say that hundreds of women and children and innocent civilians have been killed?
RUMSFELD: I can definitively say that what Al Jazeera is doing is vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.
QUESTION: Do you have a civilian casualty count?
RUMSFELD: Of course not. We're not in the city. But you know what our forces do.
RUMSFELD: They don't go around killing hundreds of civilians. That's just outrageous nonsense. It's disgraceful what that station is doing.
QUESTION: General Pace, to what extent did the joint staff include that keeping an additional 20,000 troops in Iraq will stretch an already overtaxed force? The joint staff was looking at the implications over the next six months, over the next 12 months.
What conclusions did you come to in terms of overtaxing the force?
PACE: You're asking the right guy.
I'm responsible to the secretary and the chairman to do that math and to look out one year, two years, three years and make those determinations. And we worked this very, very specifically and very hard over the last couple of days to ensure that as we provided to General Abizaid the forces he needed that we would be able to continue to provide a like-level force for as long as needed into the future.
And what we have concluded is that this allocation of forces is sustainable for as long as we need to.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) impact on our commitments in Korea or other parts of the world and the war on terrorism?
PACE: We have the capacity with 2.4 million individuals available to us, active, Guard and Reserve, to handle this ongoing war and anything that I can think of that's on the horizon.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the other night in his press conference, President Bush was asked if he looked back before September 11th, could he identify any mistakes that were made and what he might have learned from them and he couldn't come up with any.
I'm wondering how you would answer that question?
RUMSFELD: I don't know that we've got time here to run through all of the things that one would have wished were different. But, obviously, we did a great deal of planning for things that did not go wrong. They may not have gone wrong because of the planning and because of the work that was done in anticipation.
Conversely, if someone had said, "Would you a year ago have expected you would be where you are at the present time?" obviously one would not have said that -- one would not have described where we are.
And is it possible to have described it? I don't know. Maybe someone could have. But it would have been...
QUESTION: I'm not sure what you are referring to. Are you talking about the situation in Iraq?
RUMSFELD: Today in Iraq, yes.
Weren't you referring to Iraq?
QUESTION: Well, I was just referring to...
QUESTION: When you said you couldn't anticipate the situation exactly the way it is today, I just wanted to make clear we're talking about Iraq.
RUMSFELD: Iraq, absolutely, yes.
RUMSFELD: And what's taking place there is that you're taking a country that has had decades of a repressive system and a command economic system, and trying to get from there to a representative and a democratic system. And it's a tough road. And it's a bumpy road. And I'll be honest, it's an uncertain road.
And there's not the kind of experience -- and we knew this, we know that they didn't have the kind of experience in compromising and negotiating and agreeing, the give and take process, because they basically were told to do what they were told. Or else they were killed or put in jail.
One can argue in retrospect: Should the process have gone faster? It's a little hard to know. I personally have always believed that having the responsibility for something forces people to either conduct themselves in a way that they take that responsibility or fail to take it, in which case they get replaced by somebody else. And we're in a stage where we're just in the process of passing over that responsibility. And we'll know a lot better how it's worked out in two months after that responsibility gets passed over.
QUESTION: I want to make sure I understand what you are saying. Are you conceding that you didn't anticipate that the level of violence that's going on in Iraq, the level of the insurgency, the fact that you're taking more casualties now than you were a year ago, when you were still in major combat -- are you conceding that you didn't anticipate that?
RUMSFELD: I am saying that -- if you had said to me a year ago, "describe the situation you'll be in today, one year later," I don't know many people who would have described it -- I would not have described it -- the way it happens to be today.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, could I ask you about your opening statement? You said that the challenge in Fallujah is being contained and the situation in the south is largely stabilized. And I wonder if that's the case, why then was it necessary to keep extra troops in Iraq for 90 days? RUMSFELD: The reason it's contained is because we have the extra troops there. That's self-evident.
RUMSFELD: Oh, come on. People are fungible. You can have them here or there. The fact of the matter is we've made a judgment, and we've announced the judgment.
RUMSFELD: It's very clear -- you understand it, everyone in the room understands it -- that we needed additional -- the commander decided he would like to retain in country an additional, plus or minus, 20,000 people. And that's what we're doing.
The situation in Fallujah, General Pace has described precisely. And it is not over, and it will end. And it will end at some point without the people currently terrorizing the people of Fallujah in that town and holding that town -- it will end with them not doing that.
And you can put them into several categories, as General Pace suggested. One, there are some foreign terrorists there. There are also some foreigners who have lived in that city a long time. And there are also some Iraqis who are dead-enders.
And it's a mixture of several elements, and I can't tell you which percentage it is or exactly how many there are. No one can. We'll know a lot more about that, who they are and the numbers, soon.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, a lot of disappointed families today, those troops that are being extended.
RUMSFELD: You bet.
QUESTION: What degree of certainty can you give those families, sir, that after these 90 days, that's it, they're coming home, they won't be extended again?
RUMSFELD: Well, I've said, and the commanders of those forces will be communicating directly with them, and that's the proper chain for these communications to take, not to the press; it's better if the families and the individuals are told directly.
But what we've said, very carefully and very precisely, is that we expect that they will be in Iraq for up to 90 additional days. We have said that we expect that they could be deployed for up to 120 days; that is to say, when you go from Iraq, you may go to Kuwait for a period and then you may be deployed en route and being transported. And then you have leave, and that's still part of the deployment. So that's why the extra period, between 90 and 120.
And we have said that, to the extent people are needed there beyond that period, that General Abizaid comes up and says, "Look, I said I only needed these people for this period, but the situation on the ground is such that I need roughly that same number of people, or some more or less for a period beyond that," we have said, General Pace has said that plans have been put in place so that we can move other people in there to fill their shoes.
RUMSFELD: Now, you said: What assurance can you give people? That is what we have said. And we have also added the other comment. And the other comment is, look, our country is engaged in a global war on terror. We have things we simply must do. And as with everything there's always the final phrase that we will do what it is we have to do to be successful.
QUESTION: So (OFF-MIKE) they could be extended again?
RUMSFELD: You could put it that way if you wanted to cause people concern. On the other hand, you could take what I said and report it that way, which I would find accurate.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there's been some frustration expressed by the Marines in Fallujah, some of the Marines that are sitting still, they're just sort of sitting ducks now and they want to understand the justification for this cessation of offensive operations.
We hear people talk about the folks that are attacking them, calling them thugs and terrorists, yet there are negotiations going on right now. I thought we don't negotiate with thugs and terrorists. Can you help us understand: What you are trying to accomplish with this cessation of offense operations in Fallujah? And who are you negotiating with and why?
RUMSFELD: I will try to reach for precisely the right words. I think you didn't hear General Pace. If I heard him correctly, he said there's a cessation of offensive operations, not operations; meaning that there still are engagement takes place.
And second, there are discussions. I don't know that I would characterize them as negotiations, nor do I think that a number of the people in Fallujah are the kinds of people that one would successfully negotiate with.
But for the sake of argument use the word -- instead of "negotiations" -- use the word "discussions." Now, why would one discuss anything?
Well there are a host of reasons. There are a lot of innocent people in there. And there are people who aren't innocent. And one would like to -- and I think the people doing the discussing tend to be either people on the Iraqi Governing Council or representatives of the people on the Iraqi Governing Council, or neighboring, for the most part, Sunni tribal leaders, officials.
RUMSFELD: You should not take away any implication that the United States and the coalition forces are going to allow the terrorists to continue to terrorize that city.
Now, at what pace and in what way and with what preceding steps one might take of a political nature, an economic nature or a discussing nature is something that the people over there are thinking through and worrying through. And at the right moment, they'll do the right thing.
I'm going to make this the last question.
QUESTION: Senator Lugar has said he wants to hold hearings into the conduct of the war, looking at any possibility of mistakes among other things. Have you been asked to participate in that? In any case, would you appear before that committee?
RUMSFELD: I have no idea. My goodness, there's so many committees holding hearings on so many things. I've not been asked. That's normally something that the Department of State deals with that committee and we deal with the Armed Services Committee...
QUESTION: Could you clarify your answer...
RUMSFELD: ... and the intelligence deals with the intelligence committees.
QUESTION: Could you clarify your answer on what you did not expect a year later? Because you have me considerably confused.
RUMSFELD: I'll try for the third time. What I said...
RUMSFELD: No, I will answer it.
QUESTION: Well, if I could tell you the part I didn't understand.
RUMSFELD: I'd rather answer it my way.
What I said, I thought reasonably clearly, was that if a year ago you had asked me to describe where you would be on April 15th, 2004, in Iraq, how might you have described it? And I answered by saying I would not have described it precisely the way we are now, and that is exactly how I answered it. (CROSSTALK)
QUESTION: Did you mean you wouldn't expect it to be this bad? Is that what you mean?
RUMSFELD: I certainly would not have estimated that we would have had the number of individuals lost that we have had lost in the last week.
QUESTION: Well, some say you did not send enough troops in. Do you think that's accurate now, you should have sent more troops in initially to invade the Sunni triangle to deal with the situation?
RUMSFELD: Should we have a go at that? Do you want to do that?
I don't know, apparently there's a problem with the hearing aids in the room on this subject. Why don't you have a go with it, Pete, just for the fun of it? PACE: I've been in this job since 1 October, 2001. And I think I've been in every meeting with the secretary and the senior where we have discussed how many troops are needed. And in every case, the civilian leadership has said to the military personnel, "How many do you need? Tell us what you need. You will get it."
The military folks, like me, have done our analysis of what we need on the battlefield. And we have come up with the numbers we have come up with, and we have been given those numbers.
General Franks, General Abizaid, General Sanchez have all done their own analysis. And they have all come up with the numbers of forces that they need, and they have been provided those forces.
It is a balance between having a huge number, which means -- oh, by the way, that's more people in a country as we would like to not have as many foreign soldiers on their territory. Of course the Iraqis would like to have not as many U.S. and coalition on their territory.
So there's a balance between having X number of rifles available and having too many for the situation that's needed. And that's a military judgment.
The military commanders have asked for specific amounts of forces. And every force that have been requested of the civilian leadership we have been authorized to provide. I don't know how to make it any more simple than that.
QUESTION: ... missteps that were made that led us to this situation today. Do you see any military missteps or other missteps?
PACE: No. I would tell you what I think is happening today. I think what you have happening today is terrorists who see 30 June coming and are scared stiff that, in fact, the promise that has been made to the Iraqi people that they will have the opportunity to have representative democratic government, to live in freedom, to not have to subject themselves to thugs like the people we're fighting right now, that that is causing these thugs to attack more in a frenzy because they do not want this to succeed.
QUESTION: But you guys have long said that. I mean, the military has long anticipated that before June 30th there would be an upswing in violence just for the reasons you all have articulated.
So what I'm trying to balance from what Mr. McIntyre had asked is that, if you anticipated a possible upswing in violence and the numbers were going to be drawn down even though you anticipated more violence...
RUMSFELD: They weren't drawn down. They were going to be kept level at 115,000. Your question's inaccurate.
(CROSSTALK) RUMSFELD: Just a minute. And, in fact, the number is not going to change dramatically, and the number of incidents and attacks that might take place.
QUESTION: Sir, you said earlier that you would not have anticipated the number of loss of life of American soldiers.
RUMSFELD: In the last week, that's right.
QUESTION: Yet we have heard from February and before that the military, for the reasons you have articulated again today, General Pace, anticipated a rise of dead-enders, et cetera, to thwart the June 30th handover. What I'm failing to understand, and my hearing aid has a new battery, sir, is that if you anticipated this upsurge in violence, why would it be that you did not anticipate U.S. and coalition troops coming under heavier attack if you expect more violence? And two, why would you have to wait until now to temporarily delay the exodus of troops rotating out?
PACE: I think our plan has been very, flexible. And I think the fact that we've swapped out 115,000 troops over four or five months has given us a spike in the total number of troops in theater, for several months now, that have allowed the commanders there to do exactly what they're doing, which is to say, we have this situation, we want to remain this number of troops. And that is part of the flexibility that we built into the replacement plan in the first place. So...
RUMSFELD: We're going to call this to an end. And we've got General Casey, who is here, and his associates, who will be happy to discuss the troop level plans for deployment and redeployment. Thank you.
(END LIVE EVENT)
O'BRIEN: We have been listening to the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld and the vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, the United States Marines, confirming what we've been telling you for quite some time that 20,000 troops currently in Iraq will stay an extra 90 to 120 days keeping the U.S. troop strength at 130,000 for the time being.
As the secretary of defense said, "We're engaged in a test of will. We will meet that test. A small band of terrorists are not going to be permitted to determine the fate of 25 million Iraqi people." A quote from the secretary of defense.
Major General Don Shepperd is standing by. We're going to get some insight from him on all this and we'll ask him why the Pentagon seemed so reluctant to admit that perhaps they didn't estimate correctly the troop strength in Iraq. All that and much more as LIVE FROM... continues. Stay with us. Short break ahead.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: You're watching LIVE FROM... I'm Miles O'Brien. Regrets and resolve at the Pentagon. If you were with us the last hour, you saw Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and then General Peter Pace announced what we've been reporting for days. Thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq will not be coming home at the end of the year after all. Specifically 20,000 forces give or take from the 1st armored division, 2nd cavalry, National Guard and reserves who had been at the ends of their tours of duty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUMSFELD: Needless to say, we regret having to extend those individuals. They had anticipated being in country or in the AOR something like up to 365 days. This will extend their time in Iraq somewhat. But the country is at war and we need to do what is necessary to succeed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: The extensions amount to 90 extra days in Iraq, as much as 120 extra days overseas. If more troops are needed after that, Rumsfeld says they'll be sent in from elsewhere. They will not be held over. Joining us from Tucson, Arizona, to talk about the briefing which he just listened to, Retired Major General, U.S. Air Force, Don Shepperd. General Shepperd, good to have you with us...
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