Rumsfeld, Powell Discuss 9/11 Commission on Sunday Talk Shows
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 28, 2004 – The Defense Department's top civilian today said
he supports the 9/11 commission's investigation into the Sept. 11, 2001,
attacks on the United States, while noting the necessity of preventing future
"The commission has got a legitimate task to do, and it's an important task,"
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told host Chris Wallace on the Washington-
based "Fox News Sunday" television program.
Rumsfeld went on to say he hopes the congressionally appointed commission will
"connect the dots after the fact and help this country understand what actually
The Defense Department has "cooperated extensively" with the commission, noted
Rumsfeld, who, along with other senior DoD and other government officials, has
provided commission testimony in recent days.
Rumsfeld also said he hopes "the commission will have spent enough time focused
on an important issue -- and come up with some recommendations for the future -
- that will enable our country to do a better job" in preventing future
The secretary also expressed empathy for grieving families and other loved ones
of 9/11 victims, and called the government's inability to prevent the attacks
However, at the time of the attacks, DoD was organized "to fight armies and
navies and air forces," Rumsfeld pointed out to Wallace, and "not to do
individual manhunts" to uncover potential terrorist threats to the homeland.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell today noted to CBS newsman Bob Schieffer and
Time Magazine's Karen Tumulty on "Face the Nation" that the government was
concerned and had acted on potential terrorist threats against U.S. interests
prior to 9/11.
However, the U.S. government "just didn't know that the threat was a domestic
one, an internal one," Powell acknowledged. "We never got the information or
intelligence that we needed to tell us," he said, that the 9/11 terrorists were
in the United States preparing to launch their attacks.
Rumsfeld told Wallace it's now time to look forward. "Our job in government,"
the secretary said, "is to say, 'What should we be doing today to prevent an
attack or a terrorist act, and people being killed, tomorrow and the next day
and the day after?'"
There is "no doubt," Rumsfeld later told George Stephanopoulos and George Will
on ABC television's "This Week," that terrorists would again try to attack the
United States. However, Rumsfeld pointed out, it's impossible to defend against
every possible point of terrorist attack. That's why, he explained, it is
important to go after terrorists before they can mount an attack.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of State Colin Powell