on Terror: Year Six
April 20, 2002
By Scott Sloan
Secretary Rumsfeld, looking tan and fit after his vacation
in Northern New Mexico, addresses reporters in the Pentagon
It is November 2006 and the United States has opened a
new military initiative in the War Against Terrorism. Operation
Divine Truth in the next phase in the bombing campaign of
terrorist bases, centered around alleged Al-Qaeda cells in
Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tibet, Outer Mongolia and North Korea.
At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld strides
purposefully to the rostrum to take questions from reporters.
Reporters note that the secretary is looking very tan and
fit after his vacation at his sprawling ranch in Northern
REPORTER: Secretary Rumsfeld, the bombing campaign
in Afghanistan is now entering its sixth year and has expanded
to seven different countries. Are we any closer to capturing
or killing Osama bin Laden or the other top Al-Qaeda members?
And if not, how long do you think it will take?
RUMSFELD: It will take as long as it takes, Brit.
The terrorist cells are on the run and it's obvious that the
bombing campaign has been a huge success so far. The main
thing we need to do now is maintain focus on our primary target
- the remaining terrorist network. We are pretty sure they
have been rebuilding their connections for yet another attack
on American soil similar to the attacks of 9/11. I would like
to remind you that your job as members of the press is to
alert Americans that there still is a significant threat out
REPORTER: Once the bombing campaign is over and the
process of nation building has begun, what assurances can
you give to the American people that anti-American sentiment
will not fester somewhere in a corner or a cave of one of
these countries that will give rise to a fresh generation
of Islamic terror?
RUMSFELD: Well., Ann, there is no guarantee that once
the campaign is over, we can be sure that radicals in the
area won't try to fan the flames of hatred and terror. The
only real alternative is to keep up the pressure on bin Laden
and his henchmen by continuing to do what we've been doing
since this war started.
REPORTER: Mr. Secretary, when we-
RUMSFELD: Let me just add, if I may, that it's hard
for any of that to happen while their caves are being bombed.
[Laughter] I'm sorry Matt, what was your question?
REPORTER: Thank you Mr. Secretary. When we detonated
the nuclear device in northern Pakistan last spring, many
pundits felt that that would be the definitive end of the
War on Terror. We're now nearly six months past Operation
Nativity but there has been no signals of surrender from the
enemy. Would you characterize the operation as a failure?
RUMSFELD: Oh no. No, no not at all, Matt. Remember
as the president has stated, this is a different kind of a
war. This is not like when we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima
and the Japanese government surrendered. In this case, the
enemy is a lot more slippery than that.
REPORTER: If I may ask a follow up, Mr. Secretary,
many in the media thought that the explosion of an 8 megaton
nuclear device would have wiped out the remaining terrorist
cells once and for all.
RUMSFELD: Well, we don't know that - ahh - we can't
know that for sure. Operation Nativity certainly set back
the cause of terror, but then you get into the practical problems
of using nuclear force. We cannot actually send advisers or
troops into the area to verify that the Al-Qaeda leadership
is not somehow still intact and functioning because - because
REPORTER: The radiation level is still too high?
RUMSFELD: Yes, that's correct.
REPORTER: Turning to a political question, now, Mr.
RUMSFELD: Oh, boy, you know how much I love those!
REPORTER: How is the Pentagon involved in the investigation
of the rogue family members of 9/11 victims?
RUMSFELD: We are not. The Justice Department's investigation
of those families ties with the Clinton and Gore presidential
campaigns is ongoing. I think Attorney General Ashcroft has
been the target of the most vicious and partisan criticism
I've seen in all my years here in Washington. Those families
were give chances time and time again to take a monetary settlement
but they have instead chosen to dishonor the memories of their
loved ones with wild and irresponsible accusations. But, ah,
this is no time to criticize the attorney general's actions.
REPORTER: How is President Cheney's health?
RUMSFELD: The president's health is good. I know that
the episode he suffered during the joint session speech looked
- rather alarming to the general public. But the defibrillator
worked exactly like it was supposed to.
REPORTER: Has Vice President North been kept abreast
of all the movement of troops?
REPORTER: And has been kept in the loop regarding
RUMSFELD: Yes. Vice President North has been fully
engaged in both policy discussion and planning. That's all
the time I have right now. Thank you all very much.
Scott Sloan is a poet, journalist and musician who lives
in Taos, NM. He likes to take his family shopping at the funky
resale store directly across the road from Big Rummy's house.