This is a quick transcript of the full extended interview of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, 2011-02-23. The embedded video is in three segments, totaling just over half an hour.
Jon Stewart: Welcome back! My guest tonight served as Secretary of Defense in two different Presidential administrations, most recently under George W. Bush; his memoir is called Known and Unknown. Please welcome to the program Donald Rumsfeld. Sir! Nice to see you.
Donald Rumsfeld: Thank you.
Stewart: Please, come and join us. Thank you. Please, thank you for being here. We appreciate it. The book is Known and Unknown, and that's you, right there in a vest.
Rumsfeld: In Taos, New Mexico.
Stewart: Is that Taos, New Mexico? Lovely place, by the way. Uh, obviously, you know, "elephant in the room": tension between us. I think I know why you're here, and let me just deflate the attention, right off the bat: apology accepted. [audience cheers] Now we can move on, have a nice day, a nice conversation. I know this has been troubling you for some time now. I do thank you for being here. I don't even know where to start, so let's start with Iraq. Okay.
Rumsfeld: Why am I not surprised?
Stewart: I don't know. I will take your stony silence as acceptance. There's an interesting quote that you had in the book about John Ehrlichman, who was in the Nixon White House, and you worked with Ehrlichman. And you say to him — uh, about him — "He seemed to have a high degree of certainty about his views that bordered on arrogance: a trait that did him no favors as he gathered more influence in the White House. Certainty without power can be interesting, even amusing; certainty with power can be dangerous." And I thought, Boy, if there was ever a solid critique of the administration you served under President Bush, it would be that. Certainty with power is dangerous: true or false?
Rumsfeld: If you go to the website that I put up, rumsfeld.com, there are hundreds of documents, thousands of pages, and what you will see is the absence of certainty. You will see probing, questioning, wondering — Do we have enough information? Are there things we ought to know? It's quite exactly the opposite.
Stewart: If you would go to my TiVo —
Rumsfeld: [to audience] He doesn't think I know what that means!
Stewart: What I said — you said "rumsfeld.com"; you're way ahead of me, brother. I'm still lickin' stamps and puttin' 'em on envelopes and hopin' it's gettin' to wherever it's goin'. Umm, I think there is — I guess I'm drawing a distinction, perhaps, between the internal deliberations —
Stewart: — and what was presented to the American public.
Stewart: Because what was presented to the American public was a picture of — not just relative certainty — certainty bordering on arrogance, and there was a dismissiveness to anyone who would challenge that certainty. That's not how you remember it?
Rumsfeld: It isn't, at all, really. I mean, I know what was going through my mind, and I know the kinds of questions the President would ask and the questions that Colin Powell or Condi Rice or the Vice President would ask, and there was a searching, there was lots of questions.
Stewart: A yearning, if you will.
Rumsfeld: Well, it's not quite the word I would've used.
Stewart: Do you — so, you disagree that the administration showed a face of certainty when it came to the intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq War? Is that —
Rumsfeld: No, no. In that respect, you're exactly right. There's no question that the intelligence community presented that information, Colin Powell made the presentation at the United Nations — he spent — he probably had as much experience dealing with intelligence products as anyone in the government, including the Director of the CIA. He spent days on it, he worked hard on it, he believed every word he said.
Rumsfeld: And yet he — and he presented it that way. Now, the intelligence always is never perfect. It's always questionable; you have to question it.
Stewart: Did you guys know intelligence was never perfect?
Rumsfeld: Oh, my goodness, yes.
Stewart: I feel like we're sitting on a porch now, sipping lemonade.
Rumsfeld: I said what I shouldn't've said.
Stewart: "Oh, my goodness."
Rumsfeld: "Oh, my goodness."
Stewart: Do you — let me say this —
Rumsfeld: He makes fun of that, but there are a lot of people in the Heartland of America who talk like I do —
Stewart: No, I —
Rumsfeld: — maybe not on the coasts, but in the Heartland they do.
Stewart: Yes, on the coasts we just curse and have gay sex. That's all we do. We just run around cursing and gay-sexing each other.
Rumsfeld: No, let me go back to Colin Powell.
Stewart: Right. Powell was not the only one, to be fair —
Rumsfeld: Of course not. Of course not. The President made the decision, Colin Powell made the presentation. There was no one in the NSC who disagreed with that.
Stewart: Well, I would take issue with some of that. For instance, the linkage between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, in terms of the intelligence —
Rumsfeld: There wasn't much of a linkage at all.
Stewart: Thank you. We didn't hear that, though; what we heard was, there was a direct link, "You cannot talk about the War on Terror...." You even came out and talked about how this fellow — you didn't mention his name, but [Ibn al Shaykh] al Libi — had described training that had been occurring from Iraq to Al Qaeda —
Rumsfeld: There had been training camps, and there was an Al Qaeda-connected group called Ansar al Islam (ئهنسهر ئهل إسلام) up in Kermal that was actually preparing chemicals, and we found traces of Ricin and Potassium Chlorate (KClO₃) after major combat operations — and Saddam Hussein was giving $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers, and he'd been on the State Department terrorism list for years.
Stewart: No question he was doing that. No question he was on that list. I think my ultimate point is — and I guess I'm somewhat getting to it — is, there was no real momentum for a war in Iraq. We had to focus the country on that. Afghanistan didn't take much convincing. People, I think, were behind that one.
Rumsfeld: I think that's fair.
Stewart: So, the White House and the Defense Department and the State Department had to coordinate a pretty extraordinary effort to gather information and convince America that this was in our best interests to do so. And would it be fair to consider that, in the effort that it took to sell us this, that we lost our —
Rumsfeld: That's a little strong.
Stewart: "Sell" is the wrong word? Let me back up a little. In the effort it took the Administration to —
Rumsfeld: Present? [audience laughs] I'm just tryin' to help ya!
Stewart: Thank you; I appreciate that. Oh, if only I had talked to you before.... Okay, not "sell." I wouldn't say "present" because they did not present, they gave us, again, they were pretty certain when it came out; all the deliberation had been done, so it wasn't — they were —
Rumsfeld: You want to know what I did at one point?
Rumsfeld: In the book, I talk about it. I sat down and prepared a list of all the things that could go wrong.
Stewart: "The Parade of Horribles."
Rumsfeld: Exactly. And one of them was, there might not be weapons of mass destruction.
Stewart: That's right.
Rumsfeld: And another one was, it might last six or eight years. And —
Stewart: Mmm-hmm. Did you "star" those?
Rumsfeld: No. No, I didn't. And I didn't believe them, but I just knew that a rational person had to sit down and say, What are the things that could go wrong?
Rumsfeld: And I presented it to the President and to the —
Stewart: Now we're getting somewhere.
Rumsfeld: — National Security Council.
Rumsfeld: Could I give you a little background?
Stewart: No. [audience laughs] But wouldn't a rational person — so you presented — I guess what I'm saying is —
Stewart: The effort on presenting us the information of certainty that Saddam Hussein was a grave threat that had weapons of mass destruction capability and was in the process of disseminating that to Al Qaeda operatives — the effort to present that —
Rumsfeld: You've overstated.
Stewart: [skeptically] Hmm.
Rumsfeld: Yeah, promise. Goodness gracious.
Stewart: Do you want to — does the, does the — all right. We're going to go to commercial. We'll come back and I'll finish and I will try and recalibrate —
Stewart: What I'm trying to get to is this: You had a memo of "Parade of Horribles." Two pages or three pages?
Rumsfeld: I don't know.
Stewart: It was about 30 or 40 "Horribles." But you —
Rumsfeld: Possible "Horribles."
Stewart: Possible "Horribles."
Rumsfeld: I didn't know.
Stewart: You don't know if that parade's gonna happen; it could be a Puerto Rican Day parade; nobody knows. It could be a [inaudible] parade. But my point is, it seemed that the effort that the Administration exuded was more geared toward making the case of why we had to do this than examining your memo. You say yourself in the book, "I gave the memo to the NSC; I don't know what happened to it."
Rumsfeld: Not quite.
Stewart: You gave the memo to the NSC but they didn't really pay attention?
Rumsfeld: Individuals did, and people did make preparations for some of those things. Certainly we did in the [Defense] Department. There were not extensive meetings on them —
Stewart: — but that's my point.
Rumsfeld: Fair enough.
Stewart: The White House Iraq Group met weekly. The group that was assigned the job of coordinating the "presentation" about going to war in Iraq, met weekly.
Rumsfeld: Mmm-hmm. I guess so. I don't know. That would've been at a different level. The NSC met frequently.
Stewart: Did they tell you anything? [Rumsfeld scoffs, audience laughs] You poor man!
Rumsfeld: No, I don't know what —
Stewart: Are you not on the e-mail list?? Are you not cc'd?
Rumsfeld: I was in the National Security —
Stewart: There was a White House Iraq Group.
Rumsfeld: Of course there was.
Stewart: No, I'm telling you.
Rumsfeld: No, I know that.
Stewart: Did you know — you created a whole office to deal with intelligence within the Pentagon, called the Office of Special Plans. Did you know that??
Rumsfeld: I didn't create it. I did; he told me.
Stewart: You recommended it.
Rumsfeld: I did not.
Stewart: You didn't recommend that office??
Stewart: Did you have any power over there??
Stewart: You did have a lot of power?
Stewart: So they said to you, "Can we create a special office called the Office of Special Plans, to deal with intelligence?" You could've said, "I don't think that's a good idea."
Rumsfeld: There are three million people in that operation, and everyone did not ask me everything they were going to do; they were delegated large chunks of responsibility.
Stewart: Your undersecretary Doug Feith, though —
Rumsfeld: They were very good people, and they did a good job.
Stewart: Well, let's not get crazy. [audience laughs] How did they do a good job??
Rumsfeld: We disagree on that!
Stewart: But no, how did they do a good job?? They were wrong about the major implications of why we went to war. How did they do a good job?? And in fact —
Rumsfeld: Well, the intelligence community was wrong on the facts on weapons of mass destruction. A lot was right.
Stewart: But there were people within the [Defense Intelligence Agency] (DIA), even, and the CIA, who were saying, "Curveball and al Libi: they are not credible!" These people, before the administration went out to present that information as fact.
Rumsfeld: I was not the head of intelligence, and I was not making the presentation. I can tell you that those people are honorable people — George Tenet and Colin Powell. They gathered hundreds of pieces of information, hundreds and hundreds, some from human beings — some of whom were wrong, some who lied. Some lied for money, maybe. Some lied for self-aggrandizement.
Rumsfeld: That's always true with intelligence gathering. It's a very tough job.
Stewart: I understand that.
Rumsfeld: And they did an imperfect job, but they did the best job they could. And there are dozens of instances throughout our history.
Stewart: I want to make it clear: I am not impugning whether they are honorable people in any way, shape, or form.
Rumsfeld: Good, good.
Stewart: What I am suggesting is — and maybe I'm not being clear — is that you're surrounded by a group of individuals who are in the PNAC — you know, the group you were a signatory to, that talked about changing régimes in Iraq in 1998.
Rumsfeld: The National Security Council?
Stewart: No, the [Project for a] New American Century.
Rumsfeld: Oh, back in the '90s.
Stewart: Exactly, back in the '90s, before even September 11, that talked about, this is something we need to do. They are in the Defense Department, dealing with the intelligence — can you, in your — was there any point that you saw intelligence that countered the idea that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that made it to the public — that was presented by the administration to the public? What I'm saying is, whatever internal disagreements they had, they solved amongst themselves, and presented a unified, very direct, relentless campaign that we needed to take out Saddam Hussein. It would be painless, it would pay for itself.
Rumsfeld: No, no, no, no. No. You were right, up to that point. No one in the Pentagon thought it would be painless.
Stewart: I'm not talking about "thought." You're saying presented to the American public.
Stewart: Who brought up pain?
Rumsfeld: I have no idea, but you did. No one in the Pentagon — people in the Pentagon know that war is a terrible thing, that people die, that people get wounded, and they know that, looking throughout history, no one is smart enough to tell you how long a war is going to last, how much it's going to cost, or how many people are going to be killed or wounded. You just can't know that.
Stewart: You have to pardon my skepticism here, because, being alive during that time, there was an insistent drumbeat. You said, "How long will the military operation take? It will take six days, maybe six weeks; I doubt it will take six months."
Rumsfeld: That was major combat operations.
Stewart: "Major combat operations."
Rumsfeld: And I was right. I was vague because I didn't know.
Stewart: That's not very vague. That's saying six days, six weeks —
Rumsfeld: And what did it take?
Stewart: Five weeks. So it was within your range. But later on in the book, they talk about, "Why was security so bad in Iraq? Catastrophic success." We had no idea Saddam's army was going to fall so quickly. So, the reason we couldn't've planned for that is that we just never knew it was going to happen. It feels like you sold us a car — and you said this is a car you have to have, it's going to keep your family safe — we got in the car and it flipped over, rolled down an embankment, burst into flames, and then we came back to you and said, "That's a crappy car!!" and you went, "Hey, you never know with cars." Do you get what I'm frustrated with here? You guys own the Iraq War — unfairly, maybe, but because you pushed so hard to make it happen.
Rumsfeld: We'll come back to that, but I don't think it's correct to say we pushed hard to make it happen. The President made a decision that it should be done. He had been attacked in our country, he spent day and night trying to make sure that the American people were safe, that there wouldn't be another attack, putting pressure on terrorists — deeply concerned about the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons. At that moment, Johns Hopkins [University] had done a study called "Dark Winter," and you're undoubtedly familiar with it —
Rumsfeld: — where they put smallpox in three locations in our country, and within a matter of months, close to a million people were dead. And imagine: you'd have to have martial law and quarantines. It was clearly a deep concern on the part of people in the government, in the Congress, in the intelligence community, that there could be chemical or biological weapons, that they could be provided to a terrorist network, we had just lost 3,000 people here. I know the President and others there got up every day, determined to try and protect the American people. Now, in retrospect, it's easy to say what you said. And put yourself in their shoes at the time. I don't think there were people rushing to judgment; in fact, I know at the very end, the President and I talked, and Colin Powell and others, and he tried to offer Saddam Hussein a chance to leave with his family, to prevent a war. There were any number of — no one was rushing to war. It may, in retrospect, make you feel that way, but I was there.
Stewart: But I wouldn't suggest "rushing"; what I would suggest is "relentlessly pushing to make something happen there," and I think the frustration is, the lead-up to the war is — and I'll give you the example, and this is maybe not one of your fondest memories, but you were speaking in front of the troops and one of the gentlemen who you were speaking with asked a question, one of your troops said, "Why do we have to scrounge" — and I'm paraphrasing — "to get scrap metal and things to up-armor our vehicles?" because the IED explosions, etc., are really damaging us, and we don't have the MRAPs, the Mine-Resistent [Ambush-Protected] vehicles. And you said, "You go to war with the Army you have, not necessarily the Army that you wish you had."
Rumsfeld: That's not incorrect, but let me tell you what I really said.
Rumsfeld: In the transcript of that briefing, presentation, question-and-answer period — apparently some press person had given that question to him. [Note: to find the exchange in question, click on the transcript link and search for the word "logistical."] I answered probably three or four or five minutes, explaining all that had been done. Then I said that, which is true. I mean, every President, every Secretary of Defense, every Congress, is left what their predecessors provided them. That is just a fact of life. And you use those things, and you then put in play things for the future, and your successors will use the things you put in play, so the fact is, the quote was correct.
Rumsfeld: Now, then I asked the general to come up and talk to the troops and tell them precisely what they were doing. What a combatant commander has to do is, to the extent the enemy has a brain, the enemy keeps adjusting and adapting, and that's what happened: the insurgents constantly were putting different types of IEDs out there, and therefore the tactics, techniques, and procedures of the military commander had to adjust, and they did. Finally, I said, "Well, look, just stop any vehicle that doesn't have the proper armor, just don't take it anywhere outside of a compound," and they didn't, and I said, "We'll fly in armor, we'll fly in people to attach the armor." Of course, then you put the armor on vehicles that aren't used to the armor and the hinges get bad, the suspension gets bad, and the society, the Congress, the Department of Defense, in the year 1990s, after the Cold War, drew down, lowered the budgets, reduced the level for support for intelligence, and we had to literally deal with what we had. And it was pretty darned good, and they did a great job.
Stewart: My question to you was more along the lines of, we chose when to go to war, and we knew — so, if we choose when to go to war, why do we go to war with the army that we have when we know — people have been raising the issue of mines and IEDs and those vehicles and the MRAPs — they've been screaming for it — why, then, go at that time?
Rumsfeld: They hadn't been screaming for them before the Iraq War.
Stewart: No, once it started. No, [General Anthony] Zinni, or one of those gentlemen, was talking about how war, and that, and mines and the IEDs were going to be a terrible problem, and that was in the '90s, when they were planning, when he put together the first plan, which was, what would happen in a post-Saddam Iraq. So it was — I guess what I'm saying is, there are known knowns. We had "knowns" before we went in, we had a "Parade of Horribles" memo — it seemed like those were minimized, and everything that could go right was maximized.
Rumsfeld: I don't think so. I sat in the room where the President of the United States, who had to make these decisions — and they're tough decisions — and he did not rush to them. He took them very seriously. He went around the room with all the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the combatant commanders, and said, "Do you have everything you need?"
Rumsfeld: And each one of them looked him in the eye and said yes.
Stewart: But it's clear that they didn't. It was clear that certain people said that others wanted more troops to go in there. There was a lot of people that thought this was a bad idea, that we needed more troops for the postwar, that we needed to protect the security situation in Iraq. Dick Cheney himself said in 1994, the reason we don't go into Baghdad is, it would be chaos: who would you give it over to? Well, what changed?? Why is it that it feels like we didn't do enough planning to protect against the chaos, yet we did so much planning to coalesce the information that convinced Americans that this was something that had to be done? My chief complaint is, I feel like so much time and effort was spent on making Americans feel like, if we didn't do this, "the smoking gun would be a mushroom cloud," when, in essence, we didn't have to do it, the intelligence proved itself to be faulty, and our postwar plan proved itself to be inadequate — and isn't that a reasonable criticism to make of the administration that was accountable for that?
Rumsfeld: It is certainly a criticism that is made. [Stewart laughs] And you have done it.
Stewart: [laughing] Damn you, Rumsfeld!!
Rumsfeld: Just a minute: and you have done it.
Rumsfeld: You have done it.
Stewart: But you think that's completely — because we weren't in those meetings. I wasn't in the meeting where Bush went, "Geez, it could go all wrong — maybe we should put in 500,000 people." The face presented to the American people was one of certainty — arrogant certainty.
Rumsfeld: I think when a President makes a decision, he has to lay it out, and he may continue to question his people, he may talk to the combatant commander, he may talk to the Secretary of Defense, and say, "What about this? What about this? What about that?" But when he goes out and decides to do something, he doesn't go out and say, "Well, what about this? What about that?," he goes out and says, "We're going this way." Now, it was Eisenhower, I think, who said, "The plan is nothing; planning is everything." And what did he mean? The enemy has a brain. There's never been a war that went by plan. The first contact with the enemy, the plan goes out. And then you start adapting and adjusting and fixing things the way you have to; that's the nature of it. Look at World War II. You've read the history books about what took place in Germany, in Bremen, and it was just total disorder for a period. When you go from one régime to another, it's almost inevitable. I don't think that was a surprise.
Stewart: But don't you think that there's a reason Afghanistan has not had the same level of criticism that Iraq has had? And there's a difference of perception of how we got into Afghanistan, versus how we got into Iraq.
Rumsfeld: I think that's fair.
Stewart: And so the higher level of criticism towards Iraq is based on the idea that there was a momentum created by the administration to get us there. And that's why the criticism is more pointed, and in some ways makes the architects of it more accountable to these "You know, it's war, and things happen." And I think it's difficult, you know — look, I'm not suggesting that these people aren't honorable or that they're not humane, but during that time there was a lot of dismissiveness over the criticism and a lot of, as you said, "Henny Penny, the sky is falling!" but the result of this war is 100,000 — easily, lowball — Iraqi civilians killed, 5,000 Americans. It's very difficult to hear sometimes the shrugging off of things as, "Hey, man, things happen in war," when this was clearly something that felt not inevitable.
Rumsfeld: Well, I mean, you're clearly — there's no one — certainly not Don Rumsfeld or the President or anyone involved — who doesn't, every single day, think of the people whose lives have been lost, and you've visited the wounded, as I have, and you carry that with you every day. These are people whose lives have changed, and they've sacrificed, and you always worry in a war that that's going to happen, and you know it's going to happen, and it's heartbreaking. I think that it is fair to say that much of what you've said is correct; on the other hand, if you look at Iraq today, I think that the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein. He was a vicious dictator. We have a beginnings of a democratic process there with the Maliki (نوري المالكي) government, the constitution they drafted. They've got the schools open. Are there still terrorists attacking people? Yes. Are people getting killed in that country? Yes. Is it likely to go on? I think probably. It's not a peaceful place. There are deep splits among the ethnic groups in the country. One other thing that happened, interestingly, thinking of what's going on in North Africa today, when [Libyan dictator Moammar] Khadafy (معمر القذافي) saw what happened to Saddam Hussein, he had a nuclear program. He said, "I don't want to be Saddam Hussein! I'm gonna give it up," and he invited inspectors in and totally dismantled it. And we don't have a nuclear competition, or arms race, taking place in the region, and that's a good thing.
Stewart: Yeah, we have a winner, which is Iran. I mean, when you speak of, "the world is better off," and Saddam Hussein, obviously there's a cost-benefit analysis, and I don't think anyone in their right mind would say, "Geez, Saddam Hussein was a great leader," but it's very difficult when you start to get into, "Well, the reasons we went in there weren't correct, but still it's a good thing," because it's completely changed the balance of power there. Iran now, I would suggest, is in a much stronger position in that part of the world. I think it's allowed them to pursue their nuclear capabilities in a way that they weren't able to before. Syria —
Rumsfeld: Oh, I don't think so at all. I think they were determined to have nuclear weapons and they're on that path. It didn't change at all.
Stewart: But doesn't that trouble you at all? If we — you know, the spotlight that we put on the intelligence of Iraq. Let's say we had turned it to Iran. Couldn't you have said, "They pay suicide bombers, they support Hezbollah, they have nuclear ambitions, they have an arrogant dictator who has been brutal to his own people."? Why not topple them? Why not Pakistan? Why not Libya? Why not — there's a guy who committed an act of terrorism over Lockerbie that we know about, had a U.S. citizen, a physician, assassinated. It's very difficult to figure out the rationale — in all that you said about we've been attacked and we had to be careful — I don't believe we're safer from the type of attack that you described — that sort of isolated biological attack, or a small group of people. Nineteen people attacked us on September 11th. Nineteen. For the billions of dollars that we've spent and the lives that were lost, have we made the world a place where nineteen people can't attack us again?? I don't believe we have, and I don't believe we can. And from the sounds of it, I don't think you believe that.
Rumsfeld: Well, let me put it this way: I visited Oman shortly after 9/11 and met with Sultan Qaboos (قابوس بن سعيد آل سعيد). He said, as harsh as it sounds, 9/11 may be a blessing, because it may be the thing that alerts the United States and the world to the dangers of another attack, using weapons of mass destruction, where it's not 3,000, it's 300,000, or 3,000,000 people dead. And now you say, "Well, can we be sure that we can't still be attacked?" No. On the other hand, the structures that President Bush put in place have put so much pressure on terrorists, it makes everything they have to do harder — harder to talk on a phone, harder to move between states, harder to recruit, harder to raise money. They're hiding. And a lot of them have been killed, a high number of Al Qaeda have been killed. Now, terrorists can attack any time, any place, using any technique, and you can't defend it every time, every morning of the day or night or every technique: it's not possible. So we could still be hit, to be sure. But the pressure's there. We haven't been hit for close to a decade; that's worth something, it seems to me. And, who knows what the next one might be. It might not be 3,000, it might be 300,000, and I think the world and the free people of the world need to understand that there are radicals out there who are determined to do that. We know that. They go on video and say that! Now, does that mean we can't be attacked? No, you're right; we could still be attacked. It wasn't just 19 people, it was an Al Qaeda network that planned it, structured it, helped these people, trained them, raised money for them, sent them over. It doesn't take a lot of people to kill people.
Stewart: No, I think that's my suggestion. And if I gave you the impression that I don't believe there are radicals out there who are plotting to kill us, that is not my intention at all. My suggestion is perhaps that the idea that we can prevent terrorism —
Rumsfeld: You can't.
Stewart: — by — Exactly. And then, so, by removing régimes that we feel are dangerous and have ties to those organizations, the effort it will take, the money it will take, the human capital it will take, the wonderful men and women that we lose in that fight, does not ostensibly remove that threat or even make us safer — that those are resources and things that we will never get back in this country, that we used for a misguided attempt at creating safety and stability.
Rumsfeld: The President and Colin Powell and the State Department put together a 90-nation coalition — ninety nations — to share intelligence, track bank accounts of terrorists, and we are safer today. There is no question but that we are. Now —
Stewart: Are we safer because of — I guess my point is, yes, we're safer for a lot of the methods, because of the awareness that we have, some of the things that were put in place. Are we safer because of Iraq?? [shrugs]
Rumsfeld: I think so. You know the Duelfer Report after the war. They found chemical capabilities, the people were still together, the precursors were there, his report announced —
Stewart: But the Duelfer Report said he had given everything up in '91 and his biological in '96 and that, of course —
Rumsfeld: — and they had the ability to rapidly build up stockpiles.
Stewart: They said that you could rebuild some of the biological stockpiles in 5 or 6 weeks —
Stewart: — but anybody could do that. I mean, that's not just Saddam Hussein. Anybody could do that.
Rumsfeld: No, but he wanted to do it, he was determined to do it, he had used chemicals on his own people — it's not like he was some benign person here. It's on the record.
Stewart: No, not at all. But it's not like we weren't paying attention to that record already. It's just — you know what, we could talk about this all night, and I would, but I just want to tell you this: I really do appreciate you at least having the conversation and having at least the ability to sit and —
Rumsfeld: Why do you say "at least" twice?
Stewart: Nicely done. I really do appreciate it. And I know you have to go and your time is valuable, and I do thank you for being here. Known and Unknown is on the bookshelves now; Donald Rumsfeld. Sir, thank you.