U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Charlie Gibson, ABC Good Morning America
October 8, 2001
7:00 a.m. EDT
Gibson: Now to the Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with whom I spoke moments ago.
Mr. Secretary, by daylight in Afghanistan, have you been able to assess the damage?
Rumsfeld: That work is underway, it has been underway for several hours now, and later this morning we should have a pretty good fix on all the various types of information that's available to us and be able to make an assessment.
Gibson: Do you have a sense of what was accomplished?
Rumsfeld: Well, I do. We know the targets were all military targets, the al Qaeda and Taliban military targets, and we know they were successfully hit in many respects. We also know that all the aircraft returned safely except for the humanitarian planes, and they're in route back now and are safe. So we feel quite good about it. And, of course, the purpose of it is to create the conditions for sustained operations, and in proving our ability to find the terrorists and to deal with the Taliban which has been harboring them for so many years.
Gibson: The Taliban ambassador to Pakistan was claiming that one plane had been shot down. Not true?
Rumsfeld: No, indeed, not. Indeed, much of what they have been saying and what they are currently saying are just flat not true.
Gibson: Was this a first salvo, sir, can we expect more attacks today?
Rumsfeld: Well, there will be over a long-sustained period, there will be both overt and covert military attacks, and they will occur when they occur.
Gibson: How do you measure success against this kind of an enemy when you're not fighting a nation? The president has talked about a protracted battle against worldwide terrorism. How do you judge, how should the public judge success or failure?
Rumsfeld: Well, it's an important question, and I would put it this way. If you think back to the Cold War, there were no great battles over a period of time. What actually happened was that the pressure was so continuous by so many nations of all types that ultimately it collapsed from within, and we saw how quickly the house of cards fell in Germany and in Romania, and in Bulgaria, and all of these countries in the Warsaw Pact, to say nothing of the Soviet Union itself. I think that we will know that we have won when people are able to go about their business, free people, and not live in fear because we will have been successful in rooting out the terrorists wherever they are, and in persuading those nations that think it's in their interest to harbor those terrorists that, in fact, it's not in their interest.
Gibson: Mr. Secretary, Osama bin Laden, specifically, is he targeted in these attacks, either in yesterday's or in attacks we might see in coming days?
Rumsfeld: Well, a great deal has been made of him, and no question he is leader in the al Qaeda organization, and a terrorist of the first order. On the other hand, if he were gone today his lieutenants would carry on with that same network, which is in 50 or 60 countries, there are other terrorist networks as well. There are many nations across the globe, a number, that are harboring these terrorists. I think it would be a misunderstanding to try to personalize this into a single individual, or a single name.
Gibson: Well it's certainly not sufficient to end terrorism to get him, but do we want to get him with these attacks?
Rumsfeld: Well, certainly the effort has to be to go after terrorists wherever they are. And he is one of them. And we need to find ways to see that life is sufficiently uncomfortable for the al Qaeda, and for him and his key lieutenants, and others, those that are supporting him, that they are stopped, and they become ineffective, and we have to recognize that it will take patience.
The other thing we have to do, which is what we've been demonstrating with the humanitarian assistance is to make sure that people in this world understand that this is not against any people, we're not against the Afghan people. The Taliban have been repressing the Afghan people. The Afghan people are against Taliban, and against al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is a foreign influence in their country. It's not against any race or any religion. And so we have been reminding people of that important fact.
Gibson: Mr. Secretary, you're gracious to join us this morning, I appreciate your being here, thank you.
Rumsfeld: Thank you very much.
Gibson: Good to talk to you.
Rumsfeld: Thank you.
Gibson: A conversation just before we went on the air with the defense secretary.