In a speech laying out the Bush administration's justification for proposing a $48 billion increase in the 2003 defense budget, Rumsfeld said the nation is vulnerable to new forms of terrorism ranging from cyberattacks to attacks on U.S. military bases abroad to ballistic missile attacks on American cities.
"Our job is to close off as many of those avenues of potential attack as is possible," he said in a speech at the National Defense University.
His remarks coincided with new indications that terrorists have considered a range of possible attacks. The FBI warned on Wednesday that al-Qaeda terrorists may have been studying American dams and water-supply systems in preparation for new attacks. And in a report to Congress made public Wednesday, CIA Director George Tenet said rudimentary diagrams of nuclear weapons were found in a suspected al-Qaida safehouse in Kabul, Afghanistan. Other evidence uncovered in Afghanistan includes diagrams of American nuclear power plants, although it is unclear if an attack was planned.
Rumsfeld said there could be no doubt that in the years ahead the American people will be faced with attackers as unconventional and unpredictable as the hijackers who killed more than 3,000 people by flying airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
He warned of new adversaries who may strike in unexpected ways with weapons of increasing range and power. He appeared to be referring to ballistic missiles, a weapon the administration fears countries like North Korea, Iran and Iraq could either use against America or sell to terrorist groups.
"These attacks could grow vastly more deadly than those we suffered" on Sept. 11, he said.
Later in a question-and-answer session with his audience, Rumsfeld said that if a terrorist group linked up with a "terrorist state" and obtained nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, the group would have the power to put at risk "not thousands of lives but hundreds of thousands of lives."
His speech made a case for spending more money on a wide range of weapons and other military programs, although Rumsfeld mentioned no specific amounts of spending for individual programs.
He made a pitch for deploying defenses against ballistic missiles to guard against the possibility that American and allied cities could be held hostage to "nuclear blackmail." And he said new earth-penetrating weapons could make obsolete the deep underground bunkers where terrorists hide.
He said the war in Afghanistan has shown the effectiveness of some new military technologies that past administrations failed to develop in sufficient numbers. He cited the example of unmanned aircraft such as the Predator, which provides live TV images of the battlefield but is in short supply.
He also mentioned a shortage omanned reconnaissance and surveillance planes, command and control aircraft like the Air Force's AWACS plane, chemical and biological defense equipment and certain types of special operations forces.
Rumsfeld cited specific lessons learned from the Afghan campaign: