FTN - 9/14/03

face the nation logo, 2009 CBS

BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face the nation, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and Senator John Kerry. According to a new poll, a majority of Americans believe the war in Iraq is costing too much, and a growing number feel the United States is getting bogged down there. What should we do now?

We'll get two views: one from the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld; the other from Democratic candidate for president, John Kerry. Doyle McManus of The Los Angeles Times joins in the questioning, and I'll have a final word on the man in black.

But first, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld on Face The Nation.

ANNOUNCER: Face The Nation with CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer. And now from CBS News in Washington, Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. We begin this morning with the Secretary of Defense, Don Rumsfeld, who is in the studio with us. We appreciate that. I know you had to make a late-night trip to get back to be here, but thank you for coming. Joining in the questioning this morning, Doyle McManus of The Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Secretary, I must say that there must have been mornings when you have awakened to better news, because here is the front page of The Washington Post, the town where you work. On one side of the page, a report on a new poll that says six Americans in 10 do not support the president's request to spend $87 billion in Iraq. Then on the other side of the page, there is this: 'Iraq Takes A Toll on Rumsfeld and criticism mounts.' It goes on to say that many on Capitol Hill and in the military establishment are now blaming you for some of the mounting casualties and the costs of the war.

Well, let's start with this poll. What happens, Mr. Secretary, if you don't get this money? Because clearly the Congress is going to see this poll. Itt clearly suggests, at the least, that support for this effort seems to be waning or at least paying this much to get this done. How are you going to get it done?

DONALD RUMSFELD, Secretary of Defense: I think if one casts it the way you cast it -- and unfortunately, I have not read the article, or seen the poll, except the headline -- if you cast it that way, it's not surprising that the public would respond that way. On the other hand, if you cast it correctly, that the $87 billion is part of the global war on terror, and that it is a lot better to be fighting terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan than it is in the United States, and that the effort is one that has not as its purpose the way I think you phrased it -- rebuilding Iraq, Iraqis are going to have to rebuild Iraq.

What this proposal by the president really does is to say, look, we have a chance to put that country on a path to democracy, a path towards representative government, a path so that you'll have a country that's friendly with its neighbors instead of invading its neighbors, and that would be a very good thing for that region. It will be a very good thing for the world. Twenty-three million Iraqis have been liberated. That is an impressive accomplishment. I think the Congress will approve the funds, and I expect that you will find that that headline you were citing will be just something that will be part of the debate and discussion, which is healthy, but not be determinative.

SCHIEFFER: One other question -- obviously, it's not my poll, and it's not my phrasing. I'm reading you and...

RUMSFELD: Sure.

SCHIEFFER: ...telling you what they asked people. Another thing they asked -- was -- did people feel that we were getting bogged down there? Eighty-five percent said they felt that way.

RUMSFELD: I guess that doesn't surprise me. We do have 130,000 troops there, and the -- a lot of critics have been consistently saying it's a quagmire and we're bogged down. The truth of the matter is that we're not, that we've been there four and a half months since the end of major military combat.

Four and a half months is not bogged down, in my view. And there have been truly impressive accomplishments. Some 600 individual reconstruction processes have been completed. All the schools, hospitals and universities are open. We've gone from zero Iraqis providing for their own security up to 56,000 Iraqis -- police, army, border guards, site protection, civil defense, and another 14,000 or 15,000 recruited and in training currently for a total of 70,000.

Now the goal is to not spend a long time in Iraq. The goal is to transition from a liberation activity to a situation where the Iraqi people take responsibility for their own security and get on a path towards representative government.

SCHIEFFER: Well, how long do you think we are from that? I mean, is there a way to even estimate that now?

RUMSFELD: It's -- well, it's interesting. You say it as hough, 'Well, how long?' as though it's been a long time.

SCHIEFFER: No, I'm not.

RUMSFELD: Four and a half months is just four and a half months. Let me give you some comparison for context. In Germany after World War II, it took three years to get an independent central bank. In Iraq, it took two months. To get police established in Germany, it took 14 months. In Iraq, it's taken two months. To get a new currency, it took three years in Germany. In Iraq, it's taken two and a half months. To get a Cabinet, it took 14 months in Germany. It's taken four months in Iraq. It is moving at a very rapid pace...

SCHIEFFER: All right. I think...

RUMSFELD: ...and that is a good thing.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Doyle.

DOYLE McMANUS, The Los Angeles Times:Mr. Secretary, I think -- going back to the $87 billion -- I think a concern a lot of members of Congress, a lot of citizens have is that this is only down payment, it's not the whole magnitude of the bill. If you look at the amount of money that you are spending at the present rate, how long will it take to burn through that $87 billion?

RUMSFELD: The president has characterized it. It is still in formation, that budget.

Consultations are taking place with the House and Senate at the present time. Some time in the period immediately ahead there will be some definition to it and quantification of what it will go for and for what period it would last. And it's a process that's being handled by the president and the Office of Management and Budget, and I think that after those consultations with Congress, we'll have the answers to your question.

McMANUS: But so it's not even yet clear to you whether this is for a full year or part of a year?

RUMSFELD: I think it's important to let the people who are engaging in that process define it.

McMANUS: Let me ask about troop levels. You have talked about the aim here as not putting more American troops in but getting some foreign troops in and growing that Iraqi army, but...

RUMSFELD: Exactly.

McMANUS: ...but this week India basically went south and said it wasn't going to be providing a significant number of troops. Your people in the Pentagon had hoped there would be Indian troops, had hoped there would be Pakistani troops, had hoped there would be Turkish troops.

Those prospects seem to be waning. Where are the international troops going to be coming from, and at the end of that, are we still looking at a picture of really a force that's 80 percent American anyway?

RUMSFELD: Well, what we have now is we have, for the sake of argument, 120,000 or 130,000 Americans and a 20,000 or 25,000 international forces -- the British, the Polish division and the like. The Polish division has 17 countries involved in it, and we have 56,000 Iraqis assisting with security. The Iraqi number is the one that's going up. If there's a second -- another UN resolution, my guess is the most we could hope to get for by way of additional international troops would be something between zero or 10,000 and 15,000--one division.

McMANUS: So that's really a marginal issue.

RUMSFELD: In terms of number of troops?

McMANUS: Yeah.

RUMSFELD: Well, it's 10,000 or 15,000 -- zero to 10,000 or 15,000, whatever it is. I don't know what it would be but...

McMANUS: Out of the total of 150,000 or 160,000.

RUMSFELD: Sure. Exactly. And it would -- the international forces would still be a smaller fraction than ours.

On the other hand, what's growing is the Iraqi contribution, and that's terribly important. Our military people are persuaded that we do not need more U.S. forces there, that the military activity that they're engaged in at the present time is a relatively small number of incidents per day, that lasts a relatively few minutes.

It's tragic. You keep seeing people wounded, people killed, our people, Iraqis, coalition countries, and needless to say that's a deep concern. But from a pure military standpoint, they feel they're on top of it and doing well and they have a sufficient number of troops. If they needed more, we'd certainly provide more.

SCHIEFFER: Let me shift to the old weapons of mass destruction.

RUMSFELD: Mm-hmm.

SCHIEFFER: I read in the paper when you came back from Baghdad, you said that when you were there, you did not ask the man in charge of finding these weapons of mass destruction how much progress he was making. Is that true?

RUMSFELD: Well, it's not quite that way. I did meet briefly for, I think, less than a half-hour with Mr. Kay and General Dayton, the two people that are involved with the Iraqi survey group which have the responsibility. David Kay reports to the Central Intelligence Agency...

SCHIEFFER: Sure.

RUMSFELD: ...and they have -- I've been following -- I get -- see daily reports of what they're doing, and my interest, and the purpose of my meeting was not to try to get greater definition on what they're finding. It was to make sure that their process is a good one and that we're doing everything we can to support them and -- was the the essence of my discussion with him.

SCHIEFFER: But back in March, you were one of those who said you knew where they were. They...

RUMSFELD: Well...

SCHIEFFER: As far as we know, nobody's found them yet. Is it no longer important?

RUMSFELD: Sure, it's important. And -- as I say, I see daily reports on...

SCHIEFFER: OK.

RUMSFELD: ...on how they're doing. Let me tell you what I said.

SCHIEFFER: OK.

RUMSFELD: In March the war was just beginning. The forces were moving from Kuwait up through southern Iraq towards Baghdad. They had not reached Baghdad. And all of the information that the intelligence community had suggested that the bulk of the suspect sites for weapons of mass destruction were in the area immediately south of Baghdad and north of Tikrit, and then on either side, that general area.

We weren't there on the ground, and folks like you were saying, 'Well, you've been inside of Iraq for 15 minutes. Why haven't you found anything?' And my comment was that the suspect areas were -- that we believed where they were, were in that area that we weren't there on the ground yet.

McMANUS: Now...

SCHIEFFER: To pick a little point, as Don Rumsfeld might do, it was not this reporter who said that, Secretary.

RUMSFELD: No, no. No.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you one other thing, and that is this intense criticism that seems to be boiling up on Capitol Hill -- this story this morning is filled with it, and basically it comes down to -- that Don Rumsfeld -- and I'll just put this straight to you...

RUMSFELD: Sure.

SCHIEFFER: ...is stubborn, and that's the reason he won't admit that he made a mistake when he said there were too -- 'We have plenty of troops there'...

RUMSFELD: Yeah.

SCHIEFFER: ...and that that's one of the reasons you're having problems on the Hill and within the Pentagon. I just wanted to give you a chance to respond to that.

RUMSFELD: Sure, I'm glad to. Hmm. How do you respond to whether or not you're stubborn? I guess you respond this way: We have General Abizaid, who's in charge of the Central Command, General Sanchez, who's in charge of Iraq, and then a series of division commanders, good ones -- General Petraeus, General Odierno. And they meet regularly, and they ask that question: Do we need more US troops? And they say they don't. They do not feel that we ought to bring in more additional troops. Why?

SCHIEFFER: But you don't feel…

RUMSFELD: Just let me -- let me -- let me respond.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Go ahead.

RUMSFELD: Now, you know, should I be stubborn and say, 'You're wrong'? What I do is I say, 'Well, why do you or don't you need something?' And I go and discuss it. And they come back consistently and say they do not need more additional troops. If you need more force protection, you need more combat support people if you're going to have more troops.

We're managing the skill mix of the troops, because they're not doing a lot of combat. They're doing a lot of presence and a lot of construction and a lot of assistance and a lot of forming city councils. Ninety percent of the people in Iraq are now living in an area that's governed by a city council or a village council.

SCHIEFFER: So you do not feel that you made a mistake in the main, that you in any way...

RUMSFELD: Well, if I felt I made a mistake I'd change it.

SCHIEFFER: ...misestimated or...

RUMSFELD: Yeah.

SCHIEFFER: ...underestimated...

RUMSFELD: My problem is, the people who are saying we need more troops are not giving any good reasons. There's no substance to their arguments. They're just saying we don't have enough. Our military people say we do, and they then explain why they think they do, and why they want the effort on increasing the Iraqi capability. So I listen to the two sides of the argument. I would increase the number of troops in five minutes if people...

SCHIEFFER: OK.

RUMSFELD: ...would come to me and make a decent argument. But all I see...

SCHIEFFER: OK.

RUMSFELD: ...is critics saying, `You need more troops.' They...

SCHIEFFER: All right.

RUMSFELD: Something has to be wrong.

SCHIEFFER: I'm sorry. We don't have enough time. We must end it there. Thank you so much for coming by, Mr. Secretary.

In a minute, we'll talk to John Kerry -- in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: And with us now from Emmetsburg, Iowa, where it looks like a beautiful day, Senator John Kerry.

Senator, welcome to the broadcast. Well, you just heard...

SEN. JOHN KERRY, D-MA, Democratic Presidential Candidate: Thank you, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: ...the secretary of Defense. You've heard him outline the reasons for doing what he's doing, and saying what he's saying. I would just ask you for your response.

KERRY: My reaction is that the secretary and the administration still don't get it. The $87 billion is the price tag for their arrogance and their miscalculation. And I believe that is continuing.

It is extraordinary to me to hear the secretary say what do we need troops for. There are countless numbers of experts who believe that troops are needed to guard the pipelines, for instance, to help to guard critical facilities, to help to train people more rapidly.

Bob, I have a plan that can do a better job of dealing with Iraq than this administration, and it's as follows: Number one, we need a United Nations resolution for a multinational force under U.S. command, but a multinational force.

And part of that is the second piece of the resolution which is to turn the political, humanitarian government's component of this over to the United Nations. That is the fastest way to get additional countries invested. It is the best way to reduce the cost to the American people. And we need to set a date by which we will turn over the administration of Iraq through the United Nations to the Iraqis themselves.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just ask you this. You voted -- you authorized the president to take military action.

Do you feel in any way responsible for what is happening there?

KERRY: I feel responsible as a United States senator for all policies that -- that -- of the country.

But, look, the answer is very simple. I think I voted the right way. I know I voted the right way. It was the right thing to do to hold Saddam Hussein accountable and to have the threat of force, and to probably use it if we had to, but this president didn't do it right.

It's very simple, Bob. The president promised he would go to war as a matter of last resort. He didn't. The president promised he would build a coalition and work through the United Nations. He didn't.

We're paying the price for the reckless way in which this president approached this. It's a failure of diplomacy, and today it's a failure of leadership.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

KERRY: What we expected, what we had a right to expect in the Congress, was that the president would keep his word and do this effectively.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Let's let Doyle in.

McMANUS: Senator, you now face a decision whether to vote for that $87 billion appropriation, and you've just called on the president...

KERRY: Right.

McMANUS: ...to set a date for turning this over to the UN. If he doesn't actually set that date, will you vote for the $87 billion anyway?

KERRY: Well, Senator Biden and I are introducing a effort to try to link the $87 billion to the reduction of the Bush tax cut at the high end, and we're doing that as a matter of shared sacrifice. We believe that the American people expect that if we're going to have to ante up money additionally in order to safeguard our troops and get this job done, that there should be a shared sacrifice in America, and I believe that.

McMANUS: And if...

KERRY: And I think it's right...

McMANUS: And it -- if...

KERRY: I think we need to roll back the top end of the Bush tax cut.

McMANUS: If that amendment does not pass, will you then vote against the $87 billion?

KERRY: I don't think any United States senator is going to abandon our troops and recklessly leave Iraq to whatever follows as a result of simply cutting and running. That's irresponsible.

What is responsible is for the administration to do this properly now. And I am laying out the way in which the administration could unite the American people, could bring other countries to the table, and I think could give the American people a sense that they're on the right track. There's a way to do this properly. But I don't think anyone in the Congress is going to not give our troops ammunition, not give our troops the ability to be able to defend themselves. We're not going to cut and run and not do the job.

Look, we could do this job over a period of time at greater loss, at greater risk, and with much loss around the world with respect to the United States. The question is will we do this the best way possible so that we do the best to protect our troops and the best to advance the safety and security of the United States?

SCHIEFFER: Senator, let me...

KERRY: My plan will do that.

SCHIEFFER: All right. And I think we've given you a chance to...

KERRY: Yeah.

SCHIEFFER: ...to lay that out. Let me just ask you a little about politics, because to get your plan enacted...

KERRY: Sure.

SCHIEFFER: ...the first you've got to do is get the nomination.

KERRY: Politics.

SCHIEFFER: Most people thought at this point that you would be the front-runner. You are not. Howard Dean seems to be leading both in Iowa, where you are now, and in New Hampshire, where those early primaries are coming.

You have said some pretty tough things about him, and he said the other day, when asked why you kind of went easy on him during the debate in New Mexico, he said, `I wish he would say to my face what he says behind my back.' Have you decided to go easy on him now?

KERRY: Well, first of all, Bob, we're doing very well. These races are not decided in August. It was always clear there would be a race, and I welcome it.

Secondly, with respect to the comment you just made, I welcome Governor Dean's challenge. If he wants a challenge and he wants us to go face-to-face, I accept. Let's get together, let's have a debate, and let's talk about the real issues for the country and show people the differences between us. And maybe you want to moderate that. We can do it in Iowa. We can do it in New Hampshire.

I'm perfectly willing to do it. In those one-minute exchanges with nine people on the stage, it's very, very difficult to really get at and explain the differences between candidates. So I welcome the opportunity to do that one-on-one with Governor Dean, and I'm glad he wants to do it.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, you say you will be there. I'll be there. That's two of us. If we can get...

KERRY: I'll look forward to it.

SCHIEFFER: ...if we can get Governor Dean to do that, I'll see what we can do about that, and maybe I could even get a little extra time on Face The Nation. So, Doyle.

KERRY: Well, I'd be happy to do it, and let's find the right place, the right time. We could find an hour out in Iowa, I think people would love to see the differences between us.

SCHIEFFER: All right, Doyle.

KERRY: And there are many.

SCHIEFFER: Doyle.

McMANUS: Senator, let me if I could go back to Iraq for just a moment. You said that when you voted back in October to authorize military action, it ended up being on the basis of information that turned out to be untrue.

Let me just put it as plainly as this. If you had known then what you know now, would you have voted the same way?

KERRY: Well, it wasn't only on that basis. If you read my speech, I was very clear. Saddam Hussein could not be left to his own devices based on everything we learned about him for seven and a half years while we were inspecting in Iraq.

People have forgotten that for seven and a half years, we found weapons of mass destruction. We were destroying weapons of mass destruction. We were, the United States of America, together with Ambassador Butler, and the United Nations.

SCHIEFFER: Senator...

KERRY: No one, I think--yes.

SCHIEFFER: ...I'm very sorry...

KERRY: It wo--it wo...

SCHIEFFER: ...we've miscalculated here. We've just run out of time. Thank you so much and we'll talk to you again...

KERRY: I apologize. Thank you very much, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: ...talk to you again down the trail. Thank you.

KERRY: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: Finally, Johnny Cash died this week after a hard life. He had picked cotton before he picked a guitar, but he never forgot that and you could see that in his face and hear it in his songs.

In 1989, my first book had just come out and I was in New York signing some copies at a bookstore and up walked Johnny Cash. He had an arm load of books, held up mine, and in that unique voice said, `I'll buy this if you sign it for me.' Of course I did. I was thrilled. I'd never met him, but we had a fine talk about news and books.

He was a voracious reader, and as other customers happened by, he chatted with them -- not a star talking to fans -- just one book browser chatting with others.

He was plagued by demons all his life, but he conquered them and made it to the top. But unlike so many who do that, once there, he did not conclude he had done it all alone or that if he could, there was no excuse for those who could not. No, he just knew life was hard, and we knew that he knew.

That's why he gave hope to anyone who ever went through a hard time. He told us to take life as it comes. If he could get through it, we thought maybe we could, too. I just liked him because what you saw on TV was what you saw when the cameras turned away. That's not always the way it is. I know because I know a lot of people on TV.

That's it for us. We'll see you next week.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

Comments

Follow Us

Face on Twitter