Donald Rumsfeld: We have to take this war to the terrorists

From a briefing delivered by the US Secretary of Defense at the State Department in Washington DC
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The Independent Online

Those who are attacking our way of life do not have armies, navies or air forces. They do not have a capital. They do not have high-value targets that the typical weapons of war can go in and attack. It will take a broad, sustained effort that will have to use our diplomatic, our political, our economic, our financial strength as well as our military strength, and unquestionably unconventional techniques. And it will take time. It's not a matter of days or weeks. It's years. It's going to take the support of the American people, and I have every confidence it'll be there. It'll take the support of countries around the world.

There are a number of countries that are harbouring terrorists. They in some cases facilitate them, in some cases finance them, in other cases just tolerate them. But these people could not be functioning around the globe with the success they are unless they had that help from countries. And those countries, some of them do in fact have armies and navies and air forces, and they do have capitals and they do have high-value targets. And we are going to need them to stop tolerating terrorists.

Everyone got up this morning and walked out of the door of their house, and they did not have to look to the left and look to the right. They didn't have to wear a flak jacket. They didn't have to get into an armoured car. They didn't have to hide in their basement, because we have enjoyed all of the privileges and opportunities of free people. And it's a wonderful thing. And we cannot allow terrorists to deny that of us.

Therefore there is no choice other than to root out terrorists wherever they are across this globe. There are networks and countries that need to change their ways, and we need to find a host of ways, political, economic and military, to stop them.

This is not a problem that's unique to the United States. There's not a doubt in my mind but that there will be other countries that will volunteer a variety of different types of assistance. I have been in touch with the minister of defence of the UK. And as you well know, they are co-operating with us in various coalitions already in Iraq, and they fly beside us. They are certainly a very close ally with capabilities that are important.

The armed forces of the United States have as their charter the defence of the United States from threats from the outside. The threats from the inside tend to be the task of the local law enforcement, the FBI, the sheriffs and people like that, unless there is some unusual event that requires the calling up of the National Guard. But because of the laws and the Constitution and posse comitatus, the practice has been for the armed forces of the United States to address external threats.

Any decision that alters the way we live our lives is unfortunate. Clearly, for a period, we're going to have to be living and functioning with a heightened sense of awareness. We don't have air defenses that are designed to protect the American people from a person inside the United States commandeering an American airline plane filled with American citizens. Anyone who has looked around the skies over the past several years knows that we do not keep aircraft in the air to anticipate some local situation like that.

The reality is that a terrorist can attack at any time in any place using any technique, and it is physically impossible for a free people to try to defend in every place at every time against every technique.

Now, what does that mean? It means that the President is exactly right, that we have to take this battle, this war to the terrorists, where they are. And the best defence is an effective offense, in this case. And that means they have to be rooted out.

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