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    Dept of Defense News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers

    Thursday, Oct. 24, 2002

    Rumsfeld: There's one other thing I forgot to do, and that is to go to New York Times editorial comment, which said something about me using the word *"bulletproof." And it's true, I did. What happened was, as I recall, I think I was here on probably the 26th of September, I think I was told, and in a press briefing I was asked about the linkage between al Qaeda and Iraq. And I took a piece of paper -- this one, as fate would have it -- which I had gotten from the Central Intelligence Agency -- and asked them -- which I'd asked them for -- and I believe I said that, that a number of us had said, "Give us the definitive word." And so I read off of it and said it was from the intelligence agency, I believe.

    Then I was down the next day, I think, in Atlanta, and I was asked about this subject, and I said that the agency had come back to me with five or six sentences that were bulletproof. And it was the -- when I said the -- something was bulletproof, I was referring to the five or six sentences that I had read here off of a piece of paper which I'd received from the agency.

    What we've done in the department has been to be very careful about, oh, having John McLaughlin, for example, or George Tenet do the briefing in Warsaw or do the briefings when people come into the building so that everyone is aware what the agreed community position is on intelligence. And I think it was The New York Times had an editorial that was querying about the word "bulletproof," and that's the -- that is what it had reference to.


    Q: Well, I guess the other question is, when it really gets back to it, how satisfied are you with the intelligence you have seen on the connections between Iraq and al Qaeda? And have you had reason to send some of that intelligence back through the system and ask for harder and harder links to be established between Iraq and al Qaeda? Or are you satisfied with what you got originally?

    Rumsfeld: You don't know what you don't know. And so in comes the briefer and she walks through the daily brief, and I ask questions. I couldn't send anything back, as such. What I could do is say, "Gee, what about this? Or what about that? Has somebody thought of this? Could you get me all your sevens or eights" -- or whatever else seems not to be there, what's missing -- those kinds of questions. But I do that every day. Everyone who gets briefed -- (to General Myers) -- You do that.

    Myers: Same thing.

    Rumsfeld: Yeah. The president, the vice president, everybody does that. They -- then back comes a memo saying, "In response to a question by Secretary Rumsfeld" -- or Secretary Powell or somebody else -- and there's the answer to the question.

    Q: So what is the current state of knowledge, I guess, you know, not hypothetically, but realistically, about the links between Iraq and al Qaeda, based on everything you've seen since you talked about it several weeks ago? Do you believe --

    Rumsfeld: I -- at least I don't think I know anything more than I did when I read this two or three weeks ago.

    Q: You still believe they're very solid links?

    Rumsfeld: Well, I have every reason to believe that what the Central Intelligence Agency gave me is correct. And that's why I said it's bulletproof. Because I said, "Tell me what you know," and they told me what they knew. And I said, "Fine. Tell me, when I get all these questions from the press, what I can say; what's unclassified, what could we present." And they gave me this that I read. And it's just that simple.

    Q: Mr. Secretary, is the team tasked with looking specifically at links between al Qaeda and Iraq? And if so, have they come to conclusions that are different from those of the intelligence community --

    Rumsfeld: I don't know the answer to that question. I think I -- I think I correctly reflected what I was told this morning, that they looked at terrorist networks, relationships with terrorist states. Therefore, that subject would be part of that. Whether it's the totality of it, I would doubt.

    And what was the second part of your question?

    Q: Whether their conclusions -- whether they've come to different conclusions about the nature of those links than, say, others from the intelligence community.

    Rumsfeld: There's very little conclusion-drawing in this business. If you think what I read to you, I read that our understanding of the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship is evolving. So that was one thing I read.

    And then I said, "As always, it's based on sources of varying reliability." Some of the information we have received comes from detainees, and particularly some high-ranking detainees.

    And then I -- and then it says, "We have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda members." That was one of the statements, and that's what I read.

    Now, conclusions, could they be wrong? I suppose. You know, there's no question they could be wrong in their conclusion, although they do qualify it; they say that their knowledge is evolving. They say that sources are of varying reliability. I mean, I've got every reason to believe that this was very carefully written. I happen to know from looking at the classified information that there's more there than is unclassified, but I wouldn't think it would be fair to say that there's anything wrong with this.

    Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Telephone Interview with Nancy Collins, The Laura Ingraham Show, August1, 2003


    (re 9/11)

    Q: Now did you think right away that Iraq could have been involved in this?

    Wolfowitz: Right away the focus was on what do you need to do. And how do you start shutting down flights and we had several false alarms of flights coming in. There was really frankly I’d say for the first 24 hours too much to do to think about who was behind it.

    Q: And when did you start to think that perhaps Iraq had something to do with it?

    Wolfowitz: I’m not sure even now that I would say Iraq had something to do with it. I think what the realization to me is -- the fundamental point was that terrorism had reached the scale completely different from what we had thought of it up until then. And that it would only get worse when these people got access to weapons of mass destruction which would be only a matter of time.

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