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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 June 2005, 20:36 GMT 21:36 UK
Excerpts: Rumsfeld interview
Sir David Frost (left) and Donald Rumsfeld

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has told the BBC the United States needs to improve the way it communicates its policies to the rest of the world.

Interviewed in Washington by Sir David Frost for the Newsnight programme, he also discussed the Deep Throat revelations, events in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and foreign affairs. Excerpts follow:

Deep throat

I never knew that fellow who ended up saying he was Deep Throat... You know, I'm in charge of a large government department, and certainly my hope and prayer would be that any employee of this department who sees something illegal or wrong or improper would report it to the Department of Justice or the proper authorities.


The insurgency... built over a period of time and it has had its ups and downs. Clearly, they made an effort during the election period, 30 January, to try to derail the election... A lot of the bad things that could have happened have not happened.

There's clearly people coming in from other countries - from Iran and from Syria - and through other borders... With respect to the insurgency, I would say Syria [is the most unhelpful to the new Iraq]. With respect to an effort to try to influence what's taking place, Iran is doing that.

[Iraq] is an important country with intelligent people, water and oil... [The war] was completed with dispatch, and with minimal collateral damage, and with minimal loss of life.

[As for holding talks with the insurgents], it's more the Iraqi government side and the insurgents as opposed to our side, and the answer is there are continuing contacts... The task is to not get people way in the far end, who have blood on their hands over here, it's just to get everyone to keep moving in the right direction towards support of the government.

Guantanamo Bay

The fact of the matter is in Guantanamo Bay... there are people who are terrorists, who were participating in killing 3,000 Americans, and the information that we're getting from them is enormously helpful in understanding how the al-Qaeda works...

The president [George W Bush] from the very beginning said people will be treated humanely and they have been except for a... number of instances where people misbehaved and they've been punished for it.

The people in Gitmo [Guantanamo]... 99% have the best food probably, the best medical treatment they've ever received in their lives... No-one wishes to have a facility like that. No-one wishes to have to detain people. That isn't our business that we would prefer... There's no question but that the phrase today, Guantanamo, has a meaning that's unfortunate.


Here's a country that has a fascinating history, industrious and intelligent people. It has a fast-growing economy because of some good decisions they've made to open up and have a freer economy and yet it still has a communist system, a command system, an unfree political system.

My guess is that will cause a tension as they go through the next five, 10, 15 years. And my guess is that the side that will overcome the other will be the desire for economic growth and for jobs for people, and that that will cause a loosening of the political system in some way or other. But the result of that would be a People's Republic of China that would enter the world in an orderly way and become engaged economically and politically and be a perfectly acceptable participant.

Iran and North Korea

The path that the president has chosen is one of a diplomatic path in North Korea, and it's obviously the path that's been chosen with Iran.

North Korea is a country with the same resources as the South Koreans... South Korea is a robust democracy. It's an energetic economy. People are prosperous and able to travel anywhere in the world.

In the North, they're counterfeiting money. They're selling illegal drugs. They have concentration camps where people are penned up. They've had to lower the height and weight for people they accept into the North Korean military to 5ft and a 100lb for grown men to join the military because of malnutrition... One does have to wonder why more people don't care about it.

America's image

I think it's always been true that the large country, the most powerful country, tends to be the one that people would like to bring down or tweak and that's always going to be there. I also think that the United States is notably unskilful in our communications and our public diplomacy. I think that we need to do a better job.

If you lived in [Arab satellite TV channel] al-Jazeera's area... and you heard every day the pounding that the United States takes from a television network like that, you'd begin to think very poorly of the United States, too. You just can't hear day after day after day after day things like that that often aren't true with a lack of balance, and not come away thinking, gee, that must not be a very good country.

But the idea that America is what's wrong with the world, it seems to me, just isn't supported by the facts. If one looks at what is the country that people want to come to and to live and to work. Well, the United States has long lines. What's the country that people look to for assistance? The United States has a record of doing that.


Right now, Russia is making, in my view, some decisions which are... statistically leading to a reduction in foreign direct investment. I suppose they're selling 100,000 AK-47s to Venezuela and their relationship with Syria and the various types of things they've done from a business standpoint in the country has led to a drop, a notable drop in foreign direct investment.

And it's a country that has all kinds of opportunities. It has got resources. It has got intelligent people. It has got fabulous mathematicians and scientists, and it could be drawing investment in. There are countries that have demographic problems. There are countries that have political structures that keep them from doing things in the right way.


There are things we know we know, and that's helpful to know you know something. There are things we know we don't know. And that's really important to know, and not think you know them, when you don't. But the tricky ones are the ones - the unknown unknowns - the things we don't know we don't know. They're the ones that can get you in a bucket of trouble.

Rumsfeld points to image problem
14 Jun 05 |  Americas
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24 Apr 05 |  Americas
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04 Jun 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Donald Rumsfeld
24 Dec 04 |  Americas


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