"We have a lot of evidence about a number of countries harboring terrorists that are working across the globe," Rumsfeld told CNN television.
"This is not a problem of al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden. It is a problem of a number of networks of terrorists that have been active across the globe," Rumsfeld said. Bin Laden, considered by the Bush administration to be the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and his associates have activities in 50 or 60 countries, including the United States, the secretary said.
Rumsfeld sounded a similar theme Tuesday on the CBS News Early Show.
"The al-Qada network is a broad, multi-headed organization," he said. "If bin Laden were not there, the organization would continue doing what it's been doing. So clearly the problem is much bigger than bin Laden."
Then why bother to seek the extradition of bin Laden? asked Early Show Anchor Bryant Gumbel.
"Well, clearly you begin on a journey with one step, and he would be one step," he replied Tuesday.
"We need to take this effort, this cause, this campaign to the root of the problem, and that's the terrorists and the countries that are harboring them," Rumsfeld said on CNN Wednesday.
As Rumsfeld spoke, sailors and Marines on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and its battle group prepared to leave Virginia for a long-scheduled deployment to the Mediterranean Sea. Officials declined to be specific about its ultimate destination.
Another carrier, the USS Enterprise, was scheduled to have returned home from the Gulf this month after the USS Carl Vinson arrived to relieve it, but the orders were changed and the Enterprise remained in the region. This could put three carrier battle groups in the area within weeks.
Rumsfeld, on CNN, said the United States is getting overwhelming support from governments around the world in its preparations for its efforts against terrorism
"I think what you will see evolve over the next 6-8-10-12 months, probably over a period of years, is a coalition" to help battle terrorists, Rumsfeld said.
The Defense Department is moving to a war footing in the wake of the Sept. 11 attack, in which hijackers commandeered four commercial jetliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center towers in New York, the Pentagon and a field in southern Pennsylvania. The attack killed thousands.
The defense secretary visited the still-charred recovery and repair site at the Pentagon Wednesday before going to his own offices. He went to the site, he said, to thank the workers searching for remains and helping recover up from the Sept. 11 terrorist jetliner strike.
"They are making very good progress. It is an enormous task. There's so much to be moved," Rumsfeld said.
Not only must the human remins be taken care of, but classified papers have to be collected and other debris moved, he said.
"They are doing a terrific job. It's taking hundreds and hundreds of people," Rumsfeld said.
On Tuesday, he said the effort to root out terrorists "will not be quick, and it will not be easy."
Speaking at a Pentagon press conference, Rumsfeld said the enormity of the attack leaves the U.S. government little choice but to launch a large-scale military offensive.
"What we'll have to do is exactly what I said: Use the full spectrum of our capabilities," Rumsfeld said.
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