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PREPARED TESTIMONY BY U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
DONALD H. RUMSFELD
SEPTEMBER 18, 2002
Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you today.
Last week, we commemorated the one-year anniversary of the most devastating attack our nation has ever experienced - more than 3,000 innocent people killed in a single day.
Today, I want to discuss the task of preventing even more devastating attacks attacks that could kill not thousands, but potentially tens of thousands of our fellow citizens.
As we meet, state sponsors of terror across the world are working to develop and acquire weapons of mass destruction. As we speak, chemists, biologists, and nuclear scientists are toiling in weapons labs and underground bunkers, working to give the world's most dangerous dictators weapons of unprecedented power and lethality.
The threat posed by those regimes is real. It is dangerous. And it is growing with each passing day. We cannot wish it away.
We have entered a new security environment, one that is dramatically different than the one we grew accustomed to over the past half-century. We have entered a world in which terrorist movements and terrorists states are developing the capacity to cause unprecedented destruction.
Today, our margin of error is notably different. In the 20th century, we were dealing, for the most part, with conventional weapons-weapons that could kill hundreds or thousands of people, generally combatants. In the 21s century, we are dealing with weapons of mass destruction that can kill potentially tens of thousands of people-innocent men, women and children.
Further, because of the nature of these new threats, we are in an age of little or no warning, when threats can emerge suddenly-at any place or time-to surprise us. Terrorist states have enormous appetite for these powerful weapons - and active programs to develop them. They are finding ways to gain access to these capabilities. This is not a possibility-it is a certainty. In word and deed, they have demonstrated a willingness to use those capabilities.
Moreover, after September 11th, they have discovered a new means of delivering these weapons- terrorist networks. To the extent that they might transfer WMD to terrorist groups, they could conceal their responsibility for attacks. And if they believe they can conceal their responsibility for an attack, then they would likely not be deterred.
We are on notice. Let there be no doubt: an attack will be attempted. The only question is when and by what technique. It could be months, a year, or several years. But it will happen. It is in our future. Each of us needs to pause, and think about that for a moment- about what it would mean for our country, for our families, and indeed for the world.
If the worst were to happen, not one of us here today will be able to honestly say it was a surprise. Because it will not be a surprise. We have connected the dots as much as it is humanly possible -- before the fact. Only by waiting until after the event could we have proof positive. The dots are there for all to see. The dots are there for all to connect. If they aren't good enough, rest assured they will only be good enough after another disaster- a disaster of still greater proportions. And by then it will be too late,
The question facing us is this: what is the responsible course of action for our country? Do you believe it is our responsibility to wait for a nuclear, chemical or biological 9/11? Or is it the responsibility of free people to do something now-to take steps to deal with the threat before we are attacked?
The President has made his position clear: the one thing that is not an option is doing nothing.
There are a number of terrorist states pursuing weapons of mass destruction-Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, to name but a few. But no terrorist state poses a greater and more immediate threat to the security of our people, and the stability of the world, than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.
No living dictator has shown the murderous combination of intent and capability of aggression against his neighbors; oppression of his own people; genocide; support of terrorism; pursuit of weapons of mass destruction; the use of weapons of mass destruction; and the most threatening hostility to its neighbors and to the United States, than Saddam Hussein and his regime.
Mr. Chairman, those facts about Saddam Hussein's regime should be part of this record and of our country's considerations:
• Saddam Hussein has openly praised the attacks of September 19th.
Last week, on the anniversary of 9-11, his state-run press called the
declaring that "every Iraqi (can) become a missile." He has ordered the use of chemical weapons-Sarin, Tabun, VX, and mustard agents - against his own people, in one case killing 5,000 innocent civilians in a single day. His regime has invaded two of its neighbors, and threatened others.
In 1980, they invaded Iran, and used chemical weapons against Iranian
forces. His regime has launched ballistic missiles at four of their neighbors - Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. His regime plays host to terrorist networks, and has directly ordered acts of terror on foreign soil. His regime assassinates its opponents, both in Iraq and abroad, and has attempted to assassinate the former Israeli Ambassador to Great Britain, and a former U.S. President. He has executed members of their cabinet, including the Minister of Health,
whom he personally shot and killed. • His regime has committed genocide and ethnic cleansing in Northern Iraq,
ordering the extermination of between 50,000 and 100,000 people and the destruction of over 4,000 villages. His attacks on the Kurds drove 2 million refugees into Turkey, Syria and Iran. His regime has brought the Marsh Arabs in Southern Iraq to the point of extinction, drying up the Iraqi marsh lands in order to move against their villages-one of the worst environmental crimes ever committed. His regime is responsible for catastrophic environmental damage, setting fire to over 1,100 Kuwaiti oil wells. His regime beat and tortured American POWs during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and used them as "human shields." His regime has still failed to account for hundreds of POWs, including Kuwaiti, Saudi, Indian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Bahraini and Omani
nationals - and an American pilot shot down over Iraq during the Gulf War. • His regime on almost a daily basis continues to fire missiles and artillery at U.S.
and coalition aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones in Northern and Southern Iraq, and has made clear its objective of shooting down coalition pilots enforcing UN
resolutions -- it is the only place in the world where U.S. forces are shot at with impunity.
• His regime has subjected tens of thousands of political prisoners and ordinary
Iraqis to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution, torture,
beatings, burnings, electric shocks, starvation and mutilation. • He has ordered doctors to surgically remove the ears of military deserters, and
the gang rape of Iraqi women, including political prisoners, the wives and daughters of their opposition and members of the regime suspected of disloyalty. His regime is actively pursuing weapons of mass destruction, and willing to pay a high price to get them-giving up tens of billions in oil revenue under
economic sanctions by refusing inspections to preserve his WMD programs. • His regime has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of biological weapons
including anthrax and botulism toxin, and possibly smallpox. His regime has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weaponsincluding VX, sarin, cyclosarin and mustard gas. His regime has an active program to acquire and develop nuclear weapons.
They have the knowledge of how to produce nuclear weapons, and
designs for at least two different nuclear devices.
well as the infrastructure needed to build a weapon.
sources and the capability to produce it indigenously. • His regime has dozens of ballistic missiles, and is working to extend their range
in violation of UN restrictions. • His regime is pursuing pilotless aircraft as a means of delivering chemical and
biological weapons. • His regime agreed after the Gulf War to give up weapons of mass destruction
and submit to international inspections, then lied, cheated and hid their WMD
programs for more than a decade. • His regime has in place an elaborate, organized system of denial and deception
to frustrate both inspectors and outside intelligence efforts. • His regime has violated UN economic sanctions, using illicit oil revenues to fuel
their WMD aspirations.
intended to help feed starving traqi civilians- to fund WMD programs.
international community without cost or consequence. • And his regime is determined to acquire the means to strike the U.S., its friends
and allies with weapons of mass destruction, acquire the territory of their neighbors, and impose their control over the Persian Gulf region.
As the President warned the United Nations last week, "Saddam Hussein's regime is a grave and gathering danger.” It is a danger to its neighbors, to the United States, to the Middle East, and to international peace and stability. It is a danger we do not have the option to ignore.
The world has acquiesced in Saddam Hussein's aggression, abuses and defiance for more than a decade.
In his UN address, the President explained why we should not allow the Iraqi regime to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and issued a challenge to the international community: to enforce the numerous resolutions the UN has passed and Saddam Hussein has defied; to show that Security Council's decisions will not to be cast aside without cost or consequence; to show that the UN is up to the challenge of dealing with a dictator like Saddam Hussein; to show that the UN is determined not to become irrelevant.
President Bush has made clear that the United States wants to work with the UN Security Council to deal with the threat posed by the Iraqi regime. But he made clear the consequences of Iraq's continued defiance: "The purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced... or action will be unavoidable. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power."
The President has asked the Members of the House and the Senate to support the actions that may be necessary to deliver on that pledge. He urged that the Congress act before the Congressional recess. He asked that you send a clear signal-to the world community and the Iraqi regime-that our country is united in purpose and ready to act. Only certainty of U.S. and UN purposefulness can have even the prospect of affecting the Iraqi regime.
It is important that Congress send that message as soon as possible-before the UN Security Council votes. The Security Council must act soon, and it is important that the U.S. Congress signal the world where the U.S. stands before the UN vote takes place. Delaying a vote in the Congress would send a message that the U.S. may be unprepared to take a stand, just as we are asking the international community to take a stand, and as Iraq will be considering its options.
Delay would signal the Iraqi regime that they can continue their violations of the UN resolutions. It serves no U.S. or UN purpose to give Saddam Hussein excuses for further delay. His regime should recognize that the U.S. and the UN are purposeful.
It was Congress that changed the objective of U.S. policy from containment to regime change, by the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998. The President is now asking Congress to support that policy.