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President Bush, Tony Blair and other NATO leaders
are arriving today at all different hours for a crucial NATO summit.
The President, of course, coming just from Ankara across to Istanbul.
One key issue is, of course, Iraq.
So far, British and American troops have been the primary force
trying to establish security ahead of the handover
to the interim government this week.
The US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld,
is the man in charge of all American military operations,
therefore military operations in Iraq.
And he has just arrived in Istanbul.
I spoke to him just a few minutes ago for a rare interview,
and I began asking him whether the NATO alliance
remained as important as it was during the Cold War.
Well, I think it is.
It's a different role and a different time in our world's history,
but NATO remains the most outstanding military alliance
on the face of the Earth.
It serves as the critical linkage between Europe and North America.
And it fulfils a function and has the potential to, prospectively,
that really can't be filled by any other institution.
It could, of course, do more on some issues, like Iraq,
but for the fact, obviously, that you have that...
the three members of old Europe there - France, Germany and Belgium.
It would be difficult to have anything other than
a coalition of the willing if you're going into a new crisis.
It does hold back what NATO can do a bit.
Well, when you have an organisation with that many members, now 26,
and you have an operation that's based on consensus,
it's understandable that it will take some time to discuss and debate
and consider and make sure everyone is working off the same fact pattern.
To the extent people have the same threat assessment,
they tend to do the same things and react the same way.
To the extent people look at things from a different perspective
and they're not working off the same sheet of music,
it's not surprising when they go off in different directions.
With the case of Iraq, we anticipate that at this summit,
the heads of state will end up agreeing that NATO,
the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation,
will, in fact, have a role in training and equipping
the Iraqi security forces, which is a very good thing, if that happens.
Tell me, Mr Secretary, are you where you hoped to be 14 months ago
when the war came to an end,
One would always hope for better.
You know, you... Wars are unpredictable
and postwar recoveries are unpredictable.
Most countries have a very difficult time.
I've been reading statements about how long it took
the United States to move towards a democracy,
and history books on Japan and Germany
and some of the Eastern European countries.
It's never been easy, it's always difficult,
it's frequently violent and sometimes it's even ugly.
Um, it was Jefferson who said
that one ought not to expect to be transported towards democracy
on a feather bed.
It is a tough path,
and the Iraqis are going to go through a tough period.
But they're doing pretty well.
The schools are open, the hospitals are open,
the people are coming back in,
refugees are returning, internally displaced people, there.
They have food, they have electricity,
they're selling oil, they have a budget.
They also have a lot of Iraqis being killed by,
in some cases violent Iraqis, extremists,
in some cases by foreign terrorists.
But they are on a path.
The new government is a good thing
and it'll take responsibility in two or three days.
I have a lot of confidence that they'll be able to find their way
towards a truly Iraqi solution.
It won't look like your country and it won't look like our country
but it will certainly look an awful lot better than
the Saddam Hussein killing fields and mass graves
and shoving people off the tops of buildings to kill them
and cutting off their hands
and pulling out their tongues with pliers and chopping them off,
which is what that repressive regime did.
But people do all say, Mr Secretary, at the same time,
that we were responsible, partially, for the security situation.
We clearly completely underestimated the degree of violence,
lack of security that there would have been.
We would have had more soldiers there,
we would have done something different
if we hadn't underestimated the danger on security.
Well, there are people who say that.
There are also people who argue the other side -
that the real task of security is not to flood a country
with more and more troops and become a foreign occupier.
If you think about it, the Soviet Union had 300,000 troops
in Afghanistan and lost the war.
So victory and success is not inversely proportional
to the number of people you have in the country.
We don't want to be an occupying power.
In the last analysis, governance and essential services
and progress economically go hand-in-hand
with successful security.
The Iraqi people are going to have to provide
for the security of that country, and they are well on the way to doing it.
And in terms of Mr Allawi, the prime minister,
when he was with us back in December and again just a few weeks ago,
said on both occasions that he thought that one of the big mistakes
was to disband the Iraqi army.
He could see why it might have been seen as a good idea at the time,
but putting all of those people out of jobs,
that was a really serious error
and affected our inability to patrol the borders and all of those things.
I've read that and I've heard him say it.
In fact, I've visited with him about it.
His hope is to reconstitute some aspects of the Iraqi army.
And I think that's a good thing.
The reality is that we did not, in effect, disband the Iraqi army.
The Iraqi army disbanded itself.
It stopped fighting, it left, it disappeared into its villagers
and took their weapons with them.
And now the task - I think Mr Allawi is exactly correct -
is to try to keep recruiting those people back.
We've already recruited back some 206,000 Iraqis
into the security forces -
the police, the army, the Civil Defence Corps,
site protection and border patrol.
And his goal is to increase that number above the current 206,000
by some significant margin, and I think that's a good thing.
But do you think...
I mean, Tony Blair was saying here on the programme
that he was hoping very much that the number of British troops in Iraq
by the end of next year would be greatly reduced.
And the President, on the other hand,
said you're there for as long as it takes.
But it actually is possible, isn't it, that you will need
in this current crisis of the handover
maybe to increase the number of troops?
There are reports that your nominee for the next commander
wants 25,000 more troops.
Is it possible in the short term you'll have to put in more troops?
Well, what the new commander, General Casey,
said in his confirmation hearing was that if he needed more troops,
he would ask for them - number one.
Number two - that we were already doing the planning
in the event that that requirement became necessary.
And that's only prudent planning.
I initiated that some months ago - that we would take a look.
And I said to General Myers,
the Chairman of our Joint Chiefs of Staff,
"Get the work done now. In case General Abizaid or General Casey
"decide they need more troops,
"I need to know where we would get them, what they would look like
"and where they would be located, how they'd be deployed."
That does not mean we will need them,
it means that we're doing the prudent planning to need them.
Now, in answer to your other question,
we've actually gone from 113,000 troops up to 141,000 troops
over the past three or four months already,
so we've had a fairly significant increase.
Coming on for a moment to the awesome subject, really,
of the abuse of prisoners and so on.
The headlines about that,
probably in every country in the world,
have been there all this week, of course,
because of the administration's release of the documents
regarding prisoner abuse and so on.
And reading through them, Mr Secretary,
there's one that says about how in December 2002
you approved a list of new interrogation techniques
to be used at Guantanamo Bay, which included dogs, nudity,
hooding of prisoners, fear of dogs, use of stress positions,
er, isolation for up to 30 days, 20-hour interrogations,
forced shaving and so on.
Instantly, one would say, that six weeks later you retracted that.
But what changed your mind?
Well, the sequence went like this.
I received a proposal
from the commander in charge of Guantanamo Bay
to permit a series of techniques to be used for interrogation.
They were checked with the lawyers, they were determined to be
within the President's order that the treatment be humane.
And I ended up looking at the list
and rejected a number of them
and accepted some and approved it.
Shortly after I approved it, in a matter of weeks,
there was some discussion that took place among some lawyers
that they were concerned about some of those techniques.
So I said, "Fine."
I orally discontinued the use of those techniques,
said, "Get the lawyers' group together.
"Let's have another discussion over this
"and come back and tell me what we think is the appropriate way,
"consistent with Geneva Conventions and consistent with humane treatment,
"that they ought to be treated."
So, that first tranche of techniques
were in place, I believe, for a matter or five or six weeks
and then they were discontinued,
and about a month later we issued a new order
indicating what the procedures and techniques would be permitted.
You asked how it happened.
It happened because there was a single detainee
that was being interrogated -
his name was Qahtani, al-Qahtani -
who was considered to be the 20th hijacker
in connection with the 9/11 attack on the United States,
where 3,000 people were killed -
men, women and children from dozens of different countries.
And he was not being cooperative
and the request came up in connection with that person.
The techniques that you described were not used, I'm told,
on anyone other than Qahtani.
We may find out that's not correct at some point in the future,
but at least my information thus far is that that's the case.
And that's kind of the background for that.
This was a very bad person, a person who clearly had information
about attacks against the United States,
and the techniques had all been approved by the legal community
and the Joint Staff and in the Department of Defense
and at the Combatant Command.
And it was after some concern came up
that we decided to rescind them and relook at them.
And... But, of course you're very close to these things,
but when one reads things in these documents about lawyers
in the Justice Department or other departments
coming up with judgements like,
"Certain acts may be cruel, inhuman or degrading,
"but still not produce pain and suffering
"within the requisite intensity
"to fall within the law's proscription against torture."
You can probably understand that's shocking,
to think of people trying to widen the definition
of what they can do that isn't torture.
It just seems bizarre. Or worse.
It... It... Well, it seems like
a bunch of lawyers debating legal points.
In fact, that set of debates took place
not in the Department of Defense, as I recall,
- but in the Department of Justice... - Right.
..and didn't really have any bearing on the procedures
and techniques that ended up being used by the Department of Defense.
And in terms of the famous Major General Miller,
the hard man of Guantanamo, who was sent to improve the record,
or the flow of information, on his first trip just for a few days,
people say that in those few days he affected the whole climate,
that he sent lists of what he did in Guantanamo
to battalion commanders and so on, and your Brigadier General,
or then Brigadier General, Janis Karpinski,
said that Major General Miller insisted
that prisoners should be treated like dogs.
Now the FT say this, and I don't know... This is the FT,
the Financial Times, said, "One fact remains undisputed.
"Less than two months after his departure from Iraq,
"the first of the shocking photographs were taken.
"Whether one event helped cause the other is the question that
"could decide the fate of an administration."
Well, I've not seen the article you are referring to.
I think the reality is that the administration
has seen those photographs,
the photographs were released by the government
of the United States, by the military in Baghdad.
They weren't found by the press, there was
no investigative reporting or anything, discovering anything.
The minute it was determined that those photographs existed,
the military went out to the press
and said there are allegations of abuse and there's an investigation.
Within a short period of time, they announced that there
are criminal prosecutions under way with respect to those photographs.
Every thing we know, thus far,
suggests that the...what was taking place in the photographs was abuse.
We have not yet determined in any connection at all
between that abuse and an interrogation process.
Indeed, the majority of the people in those pictures
engaged in that abuse
were individuals who were not even security detainees -
that is to say they were not people
that were even being interrogated, for the most part.
Some may very well have been being interrogated,
but not necessarily in those photographs.
They may have been detainees that people wanted information from,
but those activities, I think, it would be
a mistake to suggest, er, represented interrogation techniques.
Now, we're going to know as the trials proceed precisely what
happened and I'm in an awkward position because I'm not allowed to
talk about these things for fear of being accused of command influence.
What one can say is that the acts depicted
in the pictures were abusive.
We now have to complete the investigations to determine
exactly how they occurred, why they occurred,
and to see that the individuals engaged in them receive a punishment
that's appropriate with whatever may have been done that was incorrect.
Well, we've mentioned Guantanamo
and moving on to, in fact,
this week, Mr Secretary,
on Guantanamo that, as you will have read,
Lord Goldsmith, who's the Attorney General here, said that
that there are certain principles which there can be no compromise,
a fair trial is one of those,
and the reason why we in the UK have been unable to accept that
the US military terms proposed for those at Guantanamo Bay
offer sufficient guarantee of a fair trial and so on.
What's your response to that?
Well, I'm not a lawyer and I'm familiar with his views
and, of course, there are other views by other individuals
who are considered to be fine attorneys.
The circumstance at the present time
is there is a process in Guantanamo Bay to review the detainees.
They currently have still, I believe, about 595.
Some 150 to 200 have already been released -
some have been released to the UK, I think four or five.
Er, there is an annual review process where each individual
is reviewed to determine whether or not
their continued detention is appropriate.
The... If you think about it, in every war,
people who have been captured have been captured for various reasons.
One reason might be to try them for having done something wrong.
Another reason might be to interrogate them
to see what one can learn that could save additional lives.
And a third reason is to keep them
off the battlefield during the continuation of the conflict,
even though you may not learn any information more from them
and even though you may not end up trying them.
You simply don't want them going back on the battlefield
and killing more of your people.
We've let loose thousands and thousands of people
that have been captured.
It's the case, I think, that a few weeks ago the Prime Minister
asked whether the four Brits out there could be sent back to Britain
and then another suggestion was
could they be tried under American trial rules in America,
but is that now no longer negotiable?
I mean, they are going to be tried in Guantanamo or is it still negotiable?
I just don't know.
My recollection is that there were nine Brits involved
and four or five have already been released...
- That's right. - ..back to the UK,
and that there are four or five left
and what ultimately will be done,
whether they'll be tried in a military commission or eventually
returned to the UK for their handling, I just don't know.
That's all being dealt with... I don't make those decisions.
It's been dealt with in an orderly process.
Well, I guess the Prime Minister and the President can sort it out
- over the soup today or something. - Exactly.
What about Iran, Mr Secretary?
I would have asked you about this anyway
but we had that announcement on Friday that they are resuming
their nuclear programme, at least for the centrifuges and so on.
- That's a bad sign, isn't it? - Well, it is.
You have a country that's ruled by a handful of clerics
that is repressing the Iranian people,
that is causing harm in Afghanistan,
causing harm in Iraq, is actively working with Hezbollah
and Syria to spread terrorism down through Lebanon into Israel.
Er, it's a government that has been not telling the truth
about its role in its nuclear development. It's a country
that has been harbouring senior al-Qaeda leadership for some time,
and most recently we've seen them resisting the UN process
that they previously seemed to have agreed to,
but are obviously not adhering to.
Are we winning the battle with al-Qaeda? I mean, we see the...
How much of what you were saying earlier about the two forces
that are causing death in Iraq, do you think we are winning
the battle or is it a draw at the moment, a tie?
Well, in Iraq, I think
that, over time, we'll see that despite the difficulties,
despite the deaths and despite the problems that we see,
that the Iraqi people will end up recapturing their country
and fashioning an approach to government that will be
a peaceful one for its neighbours
and ultimately provide much greater prosperity for the region.
Separate out the global war on terror,
or the struggle that's taking place between extremists and radicals
against moderates, both within that religion
and out of that religion... Answering the question
as to whether we're winning that is a very difficult one.
I wrote a memorandum that ended up, leaking its...finding its way
into the newspaper unintentionally where I described it as,
"It'll be a long, hard slog" and the reason I say that is
because we're being very successful, with a 90-nation coalition,
we're being very successful in exchanging intelligence information,
in freezing bank accounts, in capturing and killing
senior members of these organisations.
On the other hand, we don't have a good visibility
into how many new recruits are coming in, the intake,
and going to these radical madrasah schools
and learning how to go out and kill people and being encouraged
and equipped and trained and deployed to do those suicide missions.
We don't know that and unless one knows that, you can't answer
the question, "Are you winning or losing?"
I think the struggle is not so much a global war on terror.
Terror is really the weapon of choice,
it's the technique they're using -
what the struggle really is... It's a...
almost a global insurgency
by a very small number of extremists and radicals
that are determined to attack the state system -
countries, civilised societies, in an attempt to terrorise them
and intimidate them and alter their behaviour.
And one final question, just briefly, Mr Secretary,
if President Bush wins the election
and invites you to return to the Pentagon, would you do a second term?
I'm already doing my second term, David.
Oh, yes, you were
- the 13th Defense Secretary as well. - That's right.
As Adlai Stevenson said, "I'll jump off that bridge
"when I get to it." FROST LAUGHS
Well, thank you very much for joining us today
for a wide-ranging discussion and we hope to do it again soon.
I look forward to it.
- Thank you very much. - Thank you.