1. Headline
  1. Headline
NBC News
updated 6/26/2005 12:58:23 PM ET 2005-06-26T16:58:23

PLEASE CREDIT ANY QUOTES OR EXCERPTS FROM THIS NBC TELEVISION PROGRAM TO "NBC NEWS' MEET THE PRESS."

This is a rush transcript provided for the information and convenience of the press. Accuracy is not guaranteed. In case of doubt, please check with MEET THE PRESS - NBC NEWS at (202)885-4598, Sundays: (202) 885-4200

NBC News MEET THE PRESS

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Guests: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld;

Bono, a lead voice for African aid as well as the rock group U2

Moderator: Tim Russert, NBC News

MR. TIM RUSSERT: Our issues this Sunday: the war in Iraq, growing concerns among the public, which are being echoed in the halls of Congress. What should the American people know about our future involvement in Iraq? With us, the man who runs the Pentagon, the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

Then we'll talk to one of the most recognizable rock stars in the world, Bono, the lead singer of the Irish rock group U2. He's lobbied presidents, diplomats and legislators for debt relief and more aid for Africa. On Saturday, hundreds of thousands will gather at Live 8 concerts worldwide to show their support and raise awareness before the G8 summit.

But first, with us, the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

Welcome back.

SEC'Y DONALD RUMSFELD: Thank you, Tim.

MR. RUSSERT: Sixty percent--6, 0--of the American people say that things are going badly in Iraq. Are they correct?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: You know, the suggestion that things go nicely or good in a war is just not the case. Wars are tough things, and I think the concern on the part of the public in every war, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the World War--two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam--it's always been a case. And it's understandable.

If you think about it, solid progress is being made. The political progress in Iraq is considerable. They've elected a government, they have sovereignty over their nation, they're in the process of drafting a constitution, all people are participating, the elections will be held toward the end of the year, economic progress is being made. And yet Zarqawi and his people continue to kill Iraqis, they continue to kill coalition people, they continue to behead people, and the lethality is violence, and that's what's reported. So the American people are basically seeing almost all of the violence and the negatives but very little of the positive side. So it's not surprising. Polls go up, they go down. If you try to chase them, I think it's a mistake. We have to be aware of that fact, but I feel that solid progress is being made.

MR. RUSSERT: As you well know, Mr. Secretary, a majority now say they don't think the war was worth the price.

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Mm-hmm.

MR. RUSSERT: Chuck Hagel, a Republican, said this: "Things aren't getting better, they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality. ...It's like they're just making it up as the go along. The reality is we are losing in Iraq."

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: That's just flat wrong. We are not losing in Iraq. And if you think of what General Casey and General Abizaid and General Myers said this week in congressional testimony, the allegation that it's some sort of a quagmire and progress isn't being made just isn't true. And they feel very good about the progress that's being made.

The accomplish--go back to Afghanistan. Twenty-five million people were liberated, they now have a popular elected president for the first time in the history of that country in 5,000 years, women are voting, women are participating, they're making economic progress. And Iraq is behind that at this pace, but what's happening is historic. And these people are being asked for the first time in their lives to allow a constitution to be the thing that protects them from each other. Previously, it was a repressive regime by Saddam. They are staking a great deal on the outcome of this, and I think the progress is impressive, and we just have to recognize that it's tough, it's difficult. But the terrorists have no vision, they have no Ho Chi Minh, they have no Mao, they don't have any cause. Zarqawi is a Jordanian, he's a foreigner. They're killing Iraqi people and they're opposing an elected Iraqi government. That isn't any long-term formula for success.

MR. RUSSERT: The Times of London reports this morning that there have been two meetings between Iraqi and U.S. officials and some members of the insurgency. Is that accurate?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Oh, I would doubt it. I think there have probably been many more than that. I mean, think what's happening in Afghanistan. President Karzai is reaching out to the Taliban, not the ones with blood on their hands, but the others, and he's saying, "Come into the government. Let's stop killing Afghan people," and the same thing's going on in Iraq. We see the government of Iraq is sovereign. They're the ones that are reaching out to the people who are not supporting the government. They're not going to try to bring in the people with blood on their hands, for sure, but they certainly are reaching out continuously, and we help to facilitate those from time to time.

MR. RUSSERT: Is that negotiating with terrorists?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: No, no. Look, look, you've got a situation in Iraq where you've got terrorists over here, you've got Sunni insurgents here, the Ba'athist types, and then you've got people who haven't decided what they're going to do, and then you have people supporting the government. Then you have the government. And the goal is to get people to all move towards the support of the government. And it isn't a matter of negotiating with terrorists. There's no one negotiating with Zarqawi or the people that are out chopping people's heads off. But the Iraqi people have a choice. They're either going to go down a dark path where the beheadings are, and a small group of people who run that whole country, as they have before, or they're going to have a representative system, where women participate and where people have to have protections against each other because of the constitution.

And I think they're going to choose a path of lightness. There's--the sweep of human history is for freedom. Look at what's happened in Lebanon and Kurdistan and the Ukraine and these countries. I think there's--we can be optimistic about the future, but we have to recognize it's a tough, tough, tough world, and there are going to be a lot of bumps in the road between now and then.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you a graphic, which represents how tough it has been since the war began in March 19 of 2003. There have been 1,735 Americans killed; 13,085 wounded and injured; cost is $208 billion; we've been there for 831 days, and still have 135,000 American troops.

Does any of that represent, in your mind, misjudgments made by you or the administration about Iraq?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Well, you know, you have to remember that in every war, a battle plan doesn't survive first contact with the enemy. This is in history. Why? Because the enemy has a brain and they're constantly adapting, so we're constantly adapting. Every time there's an adaptation, someone says, "Oh, there's a mistake." It isn't a mistake. It's just reality. These people look at what's taking place. They're perfectly willing to take a suicide vest and go in and kill innocent people, and anyone who wants to kill people tend to get away with it. They can kill people if they're willing to give up their own lives.

And I think that our military is the finest military on the face of the Earth. They are the best trained, they are the best equipped, they're the best led, and they're doing a fine, fine job for our country and for the Iraqi people. And progress is being made politically and economic, and the Iraqi security forces are getting better every day. There are more of them, and they're better equipped and better trained. I see people look at it and say, "Well, my goodness, what about this? What about that?" Well, that's always been true. Historian David McCullough the other day wrote about the Revolutionary War. He said, "If we had covered it the way we're covering this war, we would have been in the soup, and that would have been it. There wouldn't have been a successful revolution."

This is the reality of war: that there's violence and it's tough and it's terrible. And that's why it's everybody's last choice.

MR. RUSSERT: But there are a lot of Americans and members of Congress who believe that fundamental misjudgments were made; that certainly weapons of mass destruction have not been found. The whole notion of how we would be received by the Iraqi people--a few days before the war, I had Vice President Cheney on this program. And this is what I asked him and what his answer was. Let's watch and come back and talk about it.

(Videotape, March 16, 2003):

MR. RUSSERT: Do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly and bloody battle with significant American casualties?

VICE PRES. DICK CHENEY: Well, I don't think it's likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe we will be greeted as liberators.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: Do you think that was a misjudgment?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Well, you never know what's going to happen. I presented the president a list of about 15 things that could go terribly, terribly wrong before the war started. And the fact that the oil fields could have been set aflame like they were in Kuwait, the fact that we could have had mass refugees and dislocations and it didn't happen. The bridges could have been blown up. There could have been a fortress Baghdad where the moat around it with oil in it and people fighting to the death. So a great many of the bad things that could have happened did not happen because of the terrific job that General Franks and his team did.

I think that the people who had been repressed by the Saddam Hussein regime did, in fact, feel a great relief when Saddam was gone, particularly the Shia who the Saddam Hussein regime killed hundreds of thousands of these people. He used chemicals on the Kurds. I mean, this is not a nice man who's in jail and going to be tried later on. On the other hand, the people who lost out, the Sunnis, didn't like it, and you're quite right. They did not greet our people as liberators and they're still fighting today.

MR. RUSSERT: Was a robust insurgency on your list that you gave the president?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: I don't remember whether that was on there, but certainly it was discussed the possibility that you could have dead-enders who would fight. In fact, the Fedayeen Saddam did that during the course of the battle in getting up to Baghdad. They occupied the churches and the mosques. They occupied the schools and the hospitals and they tried to fight to the death and they tried to kill Iraqis that tried to cooperate with the United States and the coalition forces coming in.

MR. RUSSERT: I think the concern that many people have is that if we were wrong or misjudged that, are we making some other misjudgments now? This is how The Washington Times reported in exchange before the hearings. "[Sen. Carl] Levin asked whether the general thought the insurgency was in its `last throes,' as Mr. Cheney said ... last month. `In terms of the overall strength of the insurgency, I'd say it was the same as it was' six months ago, Gen. [John] Abizaid replied."

For the sake of clarity for the American people, what about this insurgency? Is it in its last throes or is it alive and well and vibrant and strong as it was six months ago?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Well, there are various ways to measure it. If you measure the number of incidents, it's gone up during the election period and now it's back down. If you look at lethality of those instances, it's up. Now, what does that mean? Does it mean that the insurgency's stronger? Is it in its last throes? The last throes could be violence, as you well know from a dictionary standpoint. I think the way to think of it is that the insurgents are foreigners in some significant number. They are attacking Iraqis and killing them. They are opposing an elected Iraqi government. They know they have a great deal to lose. If they lose this and if Iraq becomes a constitutional representative system in the middle of the Middle East, the effect on the terrorists will be devastating. So they are going to fight very hard. And you saw that when the elections--they wanted to disrupt those elections on January 30th and so the peak went way up in violence. They're going to feel the same way about the constitution and the elections coming up in December. So I would anticipate you're going to see an escalation of violence between now and the December elections.

MR. RUSSERT: But you wouldn't say the insurgency is on its last legs?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Well, if you are successful in having a constitution and having another election under the new constitution, that will have an effect on the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people will see that the people opposing that don't have the interest of Iraq in mind. They have the interests of the violent extremists. And will that hurt the insurgency? I believe it will. I think there's no question but that if we get through this period we will see that the Iraqi security forces will be stronger. They're very well respected today by the population in Iraq, and we will have more and more of an Iraqi face on this, less of an occupation face, which is a good thing. And over time--I mean, foreign troops are not going to beat the insurgency. It's going be the Iraqi people that are going to beat the insurgency and Iraqi security forces. That's just the nature of an insurgency and it may take time, but our task is to get the Iraqi security forces sufficiently capable that that process of defeating the insurgency by the Iraqi people can take place.

MR. RUSSERT: Members of Congress came back from a visit to Iraq. Congressman Harold Ford said he was told on the ground in Iraq that there is a need for 107 battalions of combat-ready, trained Iraqi soldiers, and that there are only three battalions that now meet that level of combat readiness. Is that accurate?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: What you have--what we're trying to do is to help the Iraqis develop criteria for measuring the capabilities of their forces. And right now there's 168,500 Iraqi security forces if you exclude 50,000 or 70,000 site protection people. In that mix are border patrol people. There are policemen. There are special police commandos. There are counterterrorist units and the army, regular army, some mechanized, some not mechanized.

Currently coalition forces are providing a great deal of the support to the portion that are in the army, of the enablers--lift, intelligence, combat support and combat service support, those types of things, so that they can do their job. They are increasingly outdoing their job and they're doing a very good job. The--you need to define precisely--for example, do we need a police unit capable of traveling all over the country in helicopters? No. Policemen are supposed to be in their towns and their villages and their cities guarding a specific area. A border patrol doesn't have to have all those enablers. They don't have to have the tanks. They don't have to have the helicopters to fly all over the country.

So what you have to do is look at the security force and what its role is and then define it. And we have very few Iraqi security forces, military side now--forget the police and the others--that are capable of doing everything for themselves at the present time. That is going up every day, every week, every month, and yet we do have security forces that are operating enormously effectively with coalition forces together, or with just some enabling support from coalition forces.

MR. RUSSERT: But if we only have three Iraqi battalions that are fully combat ready and we need 107 for us to, in fact, have our exit strategy of bringing our troops home, we are in for a very long haul.

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Well, we're going to have, I think something in the neighborhood 200,000 in October, people in security forces when the constitution and the elections take place.

MR. RUSSERT: How many of those will be these combat-ready battalions?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Well, you can't do it that way. You simply have to sit down and say, "What are you trying to achieve with what types of units, and where are they in their progress?" And the answer is, they're progressing every week, every month, to a greater degree of sophistication. The biggest problems are not numbers. The biggest problems are the ministries, which are weak, and the chains of command down through those and the linkages between the police and the military forces, because they have to work together if they are going to repress this insurgency. And it's--most people are focusing on the metrics, the hard numbers. I would say the soft things, the ministries, the chains of command are considerably more important.

MR. RUSSERT: When the Iraqis reach that goal of 200,000, as you mentioned, would that allow for the American involvement to be reduced rather significantly?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Oh, I think you'll see the coalition forces being reduced over time, and I think-- anyone who tries to set a timetable, I think is making a mistake because there are a series of variables. And let me get them up on the table. One variable is the numbers and quality of the Iraqi security forces. Another variable is the intensity of the insurgency. Another variable is the behavior of Syria and Iran, the extent to which they are causing problems, sending in more terrorists and more insurgents. And it's the interaction of all of those things that will determine the pace at which forces can be reduced and removed.

Right now, General Abizaid and General Casey are absolutely convinced that a heavy U.S.-coalition footprint creates the impression of an occupation and contributes negatively to the insurgency. It encourages more people to participate. So they are avoiding a large U.S. footprint and an intrusive behavior pattern, moving Iraqi forces out in front, more coalition forces back.

MR. RUSSERT: But wasn't that itself, the number of troops, another misjudgment. This is what your former top deputy Paul Wolfowitz told Congress on February 27th. "It's hard to concede that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam's security forces and his army. Hard to imagine."

And the fact is, we had 148,000 from the beginning of the war. It went up to 150,000 after the war, during the elections in January of this year, still at 135,000. That is a much larger force than ever anticipated.

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: It has not taken--and it sounds accurate to me--it has not taken a larger force, post- major combat operation, than it did during major combat operation. It sounds exactly correct. We got to a high of 160,000 during the elections. We're now at 138,000.

MR. RUSSERT: But the elections was not the combat period, that was post-combat?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: No. Right. But it has not taken more people today than it took to win major combat operations.

MR. RUSSERT: Yeah. But there were more people for the elections than there were for the actual invasion?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: No. We had a program to take an invasion all the way up to 400,000 or 500,000 if we needed.

MR. RUSSERT: But the actual count was 148,000. But my bottom line in this is Tom Ricks of The Washington Post and others have reported that the Pentagon had originally planned to have about 50,000 troops in Iraq by the end of 2003.

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: That's just not correct. You could probably find someone in the Pentagon who thought that. But if you're talking about the Pentagon, meaning the Joint Chiefs and the secretary of defense and the president and the National Security Council, that's just not true. I'm sure there was somebody who said, "Gee, let's do sensitivities. Will we need 50,000 more or 50,000 less?" And they do that all the time, the planners. And then someone gives that piece of paper to a reporter, and he runs it and says the Pentagon wanted this. Well, it's just not true.

From the beginning, General Franks, General Abizaid, General Casey have decided how many troops are needed. I believe they're correct. They have been worried about that tension between having too many, which require greater force protection, greater combat support and a more intrusive heavier footprint, more of an occupation force, more alienation of the Iraqi people, a larger insurgency. The idea that these numbers are coming out of the top of the Pentagon or the president or something is just nonsense. These are coming from General Abizaid, General Franks, General Casey, and they're right. There are people outside who say, "Oh, they should be more," "They should be less." But I don't know anyone right now who's suggesting there ought to be more.

MR. RUSSERT: So never any mistake made on troop level?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Who knows? Time will tell. But I happen to think they're right. I happen to think that General Franks was right. We were ready to go right up to multi-hundreds of thousands if needed. He said, "Stop. We've done it." And that level has been roughly where it is, just about level with where it was when the major combat operations were under way. And the goal of General Abizaid and General Casey is to reduce them over time so that it's less of a footprint and less intrusive.

MR. RUSSERT: There's been a lot of discussion of the Downing Street memo, discussion about weapons of mass destruction and not finding them, but there is one line in that Downing Street memo that the chief intelligence officer briefing Prime Minister Blair, which said this. "There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."

And one of the things that Congress has referred to was, again, Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz's testimony in March of 2003. "We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction relatively soon. ...the oil revenues of that country [Iraq] could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years."

That just hasn't happened.

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: There was a great deal of post-major combat planning. The suggestion that there wasn't, he may not have seen it. That's fair enough. But there was a good deal done in the government in a variety of locations. The commanders have an obligation in their war plans to have a postwar plan, a postwar stabilization plan, and they did. And as to the money, Iraq is notably different than Afghanistan. It does have resources. It's got water. It's got oil. The problem is the infrastructure in Iraq has been neglected by Saddam Hussein for decades. And it is so fragile and so weak that it will take some time for them. Afghanistan doesn't have those resources, water or oil. And I think probably the contrast was being drawn. But over time, there's no doubt but that Iraq is going to have to finance its reconstruction itself, and it's going to take a long time.

MR. RUSSERT: But the fact is Lawrence Lindsey, one of the chief economic advisers to the president, was fired because he said the war in Iraq would cost $100 billion. We're way past that.

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: I don't think he was fired for that reason.

MR. RUSSERT: Oh, go back and read very carefully what happened.

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: I just don't know. I can't speak to that.

MR. RUSSERT: Did you make a misjudgment about the cost of the war?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: I never estimated the cost of the war. And how can one estimate the cost in lives or the cost in money? I've avoided it consistently. And how can that be a misestimate? We've said that there are always going to be unknowns, that the battle was going to change, depending on what the enemy does and how they adjust and how we adjust, and to try to predict the amount of time--I mean, I remember the secretary of defense and the president announced they'd be out of Bosnia by Christmas, and that was--What?--10 years ago.

Anyone who tries to estimate the end, the time, the cost or the casualties in a war is making a big mistake. You don't--war is your absolute last choice and you don't, as George Washington said, make a decision to use war unless you're willing to stick with it. And the president of the United States and the men and women out there serving are convinced that progress is being made and that we will be successful. And those that are running around saying that we're losing or that it's a quagmire are flat wrong.

MR. RUSSERT: Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, whose son served in Iraq, said the other day that in February, he had asked for the arming of Humvees, and that it--only until--two months later that the steel that was going to be used on the Humvees was still in Kuwait. He said that, "Are we going to--soldiers and Marines are going to take more hits than they would otherwise take and that it will not be until August that the Marines complete their work on this." This is someone who supports the war.

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: He's terrific. He's a very able former infantry officer, as a matter of fact.

MR. RUSSERT: What is the problem with arming these Humvees so our soldiers won't get hurt?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: They are arming the Humvees. They've gone up like this, and they've gone from a few hundred to tens of thousands of armored vehicles in there. The Army is responsible for equipping the United States Army. The Marines are responsible for equipping the Marines. And they've been working their heads off on doing it, and they've done it at a very rapid clip. I mean, I'd have to see the context of Duncan's quote, but, I mean, a lot of the arming was done in Kuwait. The fact that the armor was still in Kuwait is, in fact, where a good deal of it--the arming process was taking place.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to recruitment. This was The Christian Science Monitor and headlines all across the country. "Army recruiters are finding young men and women - and especially their parents - increasingly unwilling to sign up for training and what is likely to be more than one deployment overseas. Last month, the Army's original goal was to attract 8,050 new recruits; instead, only about 5,000 headed for boot camp."

The Associated Press asked parents, "Would you encourage your son to enroll in the military?" Thirty- two percent said yes, 55 percent said no. If those trends in recruitment continue, will we be able to deploy 138,000 Americans in Iraq, say, by the end of next year?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Oh, absolutely. We--the Air Force recruiting and the Marine recruiting and the Navy recruiting is all going well as our retention. The Army retention is going very well. In fact, it's higher for the people who've served in Iraq and Afghanistan than it is for the Army people who have not. More of them are signing up to re-enlist. The Army recruiting as you point out is low. It's off goal, but the goal is higher than it's ever been. We're trying to increase the Army by 30,000 troops. We're doing a lot of things to strengthen the Army. We're moving Army people in uniform out of civilian jobs where a great many of them have been serving. We're rebalancing the active and the Guard forces so that the skill sets we need are there. Thus far we've only used about--in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Afghan effort, we've mobilized about 45 percent of the Guard and the Reserve thus far. So there's a substantial number left to be done and those are currently being retrained to fit the skill sets that are needed.

The people running around saying that the Army is broken are wrong. We've got the best-trained, the best-equipped and the best-led Army on the face of the Earth and the best one in the history of our country.

MR. RUSSERT: And you will be able to meet your deployment goals at the end of next year?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: We will.

MR. RUSSERT: Lindsey Graham, Republican, South Carolina, says he is now for an independent commission to look into prisoner abuse at Guantanamo because, "We have to prove..."

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: I don't think that's right. I thought he said he was interested in looking into the legal basis that was decided by the administration.

MR. RUSSERT: He said he had now resisted the idea of congressional action to review the issue related to prisoner abuse, but Graham said, "The uproar related to the latest accusations of abuse had convinced him that we've crossed the point where it isn't working anymore." He said, "The United States needed to prove to the world that we are a rule of law nation."

Would you be in favor of an independent commission?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: We've had, I think, 11 or 12 investigations and...

MR. RUSSERT: By the Pentagon. This would be independent like...

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: There was an independent investigation.

MR. RUSSERT: Similar to the 9-11 Commission.

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: I think that to go back into all of the things that's already been reviewed by everybody else doesn't make sense, but that's not a decision for me. That's a decision for the president. I think the issue that Senator Graham was raising is an interesting one, and that is the fact that the president and the attorney general of the United States made a decision at the very outset of the war that the war on terror was different from a normal war and a different--and the idea that we should use the Article III of the Constitution in the criminal justice system that we use for a car thief or a bank robber or a murderer in the United States for terrorists wouldn't work. And so they established military commissions as the method of dealing with terrorists. The purpose being with a car thief that you want to get them and punish him so they don't do it again. For the terrorist, you want to get them off the battlefield and you want to get information from them so that you know how you can stop other attacks.

The people, for example, in Guantanamo Bay, are Osama bin Laden's bodyguards. They're suicide bombers. They're terrorists. They're murderers and these are bad people. These are not good people. In fact, we've been releasing hundreds of them, and 11, 12 have already turned up back on the battlefield trying to kill innocent men, women and children.

Now, I happen to think that the president was right, that you do treat terrorists differently than you do people in the criminal justice system in the United States. And I think that the issue that Senator Graham raises is one that deserves debate and discussion. And I'm--this is--we're in a new era.

MR. RUSSERT: Well--and Senator McCain believes everyone deserves a trial, but we only have a minute left.

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Of course, they are getting tribunals and being reviewed and we're trying to do military commissions. And at the moment, the federal court's holding them up.

MR. RUSSERT: But many have not had a--before you go, just one last thing you said and I just want to get your take on it now. October 16, 2003: "Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than...the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?"

What do you think now?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Tough to know. I don't know the answer to the question. I didn't then and I don't know. It's--I think that we are seeing moderate Muslims engaging in this struggle against the violent extremists. We see the Iraqi government leadership doing it. Jafari, the prime minister, was just here. We see Karzai doing it. We see Musharraf doing it. You see the Saudis are now going after and stopping the radical clerics from doing what they've been doing. So I think that it's not going to be won by you or me. It's going to be won within that religion. The moderates are going to have to defeat the extremists and it's in their interest to do so and they're now starting to engage in that battle and that's a good thing.

MR. RUSSERT: Are you happy the way liberals responded after September 11?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: I think the--if you're--I think you're talking about Karl Rove, is that what that is? Yeah, it is. I don't do politics. You know that, Tim.

MR. RUSSERT: But are you comfortable with the way that liberals responded after September 11?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: He was talking about MoveOn.org and...

MR. RUSSERT: No, the word was liberals.

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: But he was talking about them, and he mentioned some others.

MR. RUSSERT: Senator Durbin.

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: Well, do I think that some people have been excessive in their rhetoric? I think...

MR. RUSSERT: But do you believe that liberals stood up for America against the enemy, or did they resort to therapy?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: My--the--I think that what he was saying was, look, the point I made earlier, do you want to treat terrorists with indictments and trials here in the United States, or do you want to treat terrorists like terrorists, get them off the battlefield, keep them from killing people, find out everything you can so you can stop future attacks? And the information we've gotten from terrorist that is have been imprisoned has stopped other terrorist attacks and it's saved American lives and let there be no doubt about it.

MR. RUSSERT: And liberals oppose that?

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: I didn't say that.

MR. RUSSERT: But there's a suggestion.

SEC'Y RUMSFELD: No. I think--maybe I'm wrong. I don't go to these meetings. But--maybe I'm wrong but my impression was he was talking about an organization called MoveOn.org and said so.

MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary, as always we thank you for sharing your views.

Coming next, Bono, the lead singer of U2, talks about his campaign for debt relief for Africa and his role in the Live 8 worldwide concerts this coming Saturday. Coming up right here on MEET THE PRESS, Bono.

                (Announcements)

MR. RUSSERT: Rock star and activist Bono from U2 talks about aid to Africa and corruption in Africa after this brief station break.

                (Announcements)

MR. RUSSERT: And we are back on MEET THE PRESS. With us now from Dublin, Ireland, the lead singer of U2 and the co-founder of DATA: Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa. Here's Bono.

Welcome. This coming Saturday and a week from Wednesday, huge concerts around the world and then a final concert in Scotland called The Final Push. What is The Final Push all about?

BONO: Yeah. Well, the G8 is such a big thing here in Europe. I know it used to be in the United States. I mean, in Europe it's like the Super Bowl. You know, you have the eight most powerful men in the world meeting someplace, in this case on a golf course in Gleneagles, Scotland, and people are wondering, you know, what will come out of it and whether--is it just a talking shop? Or in this case, is there a chance for history?

Those of us that have been working on development issues in Africa, in particular, are holding out that this could be a historic breakthrough, a real sea change on issues facing the poorest of the poor. And there will be hundreds of thousands of people turning out, religious groups, student groups. Prime Minister Blair and--published the Commission for Africa, which is a new analysis of aid and effective aid and how to spend it, and the need, he says, and most of the world agrees, is about $50 billion. And we can really turn things around on that continent but we have to have agreement from everybody, especially the United States, if we're to get there.

MR. RUSSERT: You say from everybody. In fact, you gave an interview to Time magazine. "Question: Which of the G8 leaders do you think remains the toughest nut to crack? Bono: The most important and toughest nut is still President Bush. He feels he's already doubled and tripled aid to Africa, which he started from far too low a place. He can stand there and say he paid at the office already. He shouldn't because he'll be left out of the history books. But it's hard for him because of the expense of the war and the debts."

How much pressure do you think should be on President Bush at this time?

BONO: Well, I think he's done an incredible job, his administration, on AIDS. And 250,000 Africans are on antiviral drugs. They literally owe their lives to America. In one year that's being done. But it can't just be AIDS. It has to be the environment in which viruses like AIDS thrive, or malaria. I mean, 3,000 Africans die every day of a mosquito bite. Can you think about that, malaria? That's not acceptable in the 21st century and we can stop it. And water-borne illnesses--dirty water takes another 3,000 lives--children, mothers, sisters.

Yes, there's a lot of pressure on President Bush. If he, though, in his second term, is as bold in his commitments to Africa as he was in the first term, he indeed deserves a place in history in turning the fate of that continent around. If he doesn't I fear that even the good work that he has started will be forgotten by history and that really makes me very, very sad, because I worked on a lot of this stuff, the AIDS initiative and the Millennium Challenge, and really want to see--I think he deserves his place in history here. I believe he has the heart for it, but his advisors are going to have to let him go to Gleneagles with something other than timid proposals and pilot programs and rhetoric. They're going to have to let him sign, you know, a proper check. One billions dollars is all it would take to save a million lives from malaria, with bed nets, etc., $1 billion. Four billion dollars, you could change the world. From the United States, an extra commitment of $4 billion.

MR. RUSSERT: There is a new television campaign sponsored by yourself and other organizations, which features former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela. Let's just watch a piece of that.

(Videotape of "The One Campaign Ad"):

MR. NELSON MANDELA (Former President of South Africa): We now need leadership, precision and political courage. They have an historical opportunity to open the door to hope and the possibility to offer better future for all.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: "Political courage." Those words seem to be a direct challenge to President Bush and the other leaders.

BONO: Yeah. Yeah, it is a challenge. It's just one of those moments. You know, you have the French and the Germans agreeing with the British. That already is extraordinary in these times, believe me, in Europe. The French, you know, have their colonial past in Africa, and they see themselves as an interface and are ready to step up to .7 percent GDP commitment by 2011. The British .7 commitment. And, you know, the United States is down at about .17, .2 is within sight. But really to get serious about this, the United States has to get up to .3, .4, .5. That's our wish here.

And we know it will take time to get there. We know you've got a deficit problem. We understand there's a war being fought. But, really, if we're to take this issue seriously, and we must, because in 50 years, you know, when they look back at this moment, they'll talk about the war against terror, they'll talk about the Internet, and they'll talk about what we did or didn't do about this continent bursting into flames. It is the most extraordinary thing to watch people dying three in a bed, two on top and one underneath, as I have seen in Malawi, in Lilongwe, Malawi. I mean, it is an astonishing thing. And it's avoidable. It's an avoidable catastrophe. You saw what happened with the tsunami. You see the outpouring, you see the dramatic pictures. Well, there's a tsunami happening every month in Africa, but it's an avoidable catastrophe. It is not a natural calamity.

MR. RUSSERT: One of your fellow organizers of the concert, Sir Bob Geldof, is quoted as saying that he wanted no ranting or raving at President Bush or Prime Minister Blair about the war. He was quoted of saying, "We want to bring Bush in, not run him away." Is that a stated goal of the meeting in Scotland with a million people on the street not to protest the war but to be in favor of increased aid to Africa?

BONO: Absolutely. This is the other war. This is a war that can be won so much more easily than the war against terror, and we wish the president and others luck in winning the war against terror. But this- -there will be a time when AIDS, you know, they'll find a vaccine, it will be over, malaria will be over. No, this is an issue that I think can unite Europe, can unite the world. And remember the rest of the world are very suspicious about the G8 countries, about the industrialized world. They're not sure, you know, if we have any values. They're not sure who we are. They meet us with our military, they meet us with our trade, our movies, our, you know, commodities. But they need to meet who we are on a deeper level. And that's where they meet us with foreign assistance.

And if it's spent well, if it's not used to redecorate presidential palaces and as it's not now. This is targeted, focused aid we're talking about now, only given to people who are tackling corruption. Then everyone's with them. Now, this is, I think, this will unite people. And I fear--and it's the reason I'm talking to you today--that, you know, because there's so much going of in America with the war in Iraq and stuff, that you might miss this opportunity. I love America. I believe in America. It offends me, it upsets me when the rest of the world thinks America is not doing enough. The president is right to say they're doing a quarter of all aid to Africa. He has doubled, even tripled if he follows through, aid to Africa. But they are about to double aid, the rest of Europe, to double aid, so that will leave America as one-eighth of all aid going to Africa if they don't match that. And that's not a place Americans want to be, one-eighth. And that will be Europe doing four times as much as America. You know, I want to encourage Americans just to give their president permission. I know he wants to do this, but his advisers must break with this kind of fiscal conservativity on this one issue. This is the moment to be generous right now. I'm sure of that.

MR. RUSSERT: The concerns that many in the administration have and many people across the country were reflected in this article in yesterday's New York Daily News. The headline: "Can music really save Africa? Concerts help but corruption hurts." And the article goes to say, Bono, "Many--in the West and in Africa--doubt that canceling debt and pouring billions more into Africa will do any good while the continent remains plagued by disease, civil war and corruption. Makeda Tsegaye, an Ethiopian activist based in Kenya, said writing off debts without demanding democratic reforms would be counterproductive. `A rare occasion of debt-relief is not going to solve the problem.' Corruption at the highest levels of many of Africa's governments has meant that much of the money given in aid ends up used as the personal slush funds for dictators. `It's always meant that--just making a deposit in the Swiss bank account of the leaders,' said Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute."

Enormous ramp in corruption and many of the countries that are on the list to be aided are on the State Department list of countries that violate human rights. How can you assure people in the United States that the money that will be given to Africa, the debt that will be forgiven, will not wind up in limousines and private jets, with dictators who abuse their own people?

BONO: This is the number-one problem facing Africa, corruption; not natural calamity, not the AIDS virus. This is the number-one issue and there's no way around it. That's what was so clever about President Bush's Millennium Challenge. It was start-up money for new democracies. It was giving increases of aid flows only to countries that are tackling corruption. That's what's so clever. It's--the implementation of the Millennium Challenge has not happened. It is in trouble. They recognize that. President Bush is embarrassed about that. They're trying to put it right. But the idea, the concept was a great one. Debt cancellation also has conditionalities built into it. People need to know this.

So no one is talking about aid in the old sense, the money down a rat hole thing. No one wants that. It makes matters worse, not better. This is new targeted aid. Now, there will be some countries where mercy is needed and aid has to go--certain levels of aid have to go. You can't hold people responsible, the populace responsible for their dictators. But in those instances, you just root the aid away from the governments and through the NGOs on the ground. That's the modern way.

MR. RUSSERT: There was an article in The Guardian in London suggesting that you and Mr. Geldof were being used by Prime Minister Blair and President Bush, and let me just read it and give you a chance to respond. "[Bono and Geldof] are lending legitimacy to power. From the point of view of men like Bush and Blair, the deal is straightforward. We let these hairy people share a platform with us, we make a few cost-free gestures, and in return, we receive their praise and capture their fans. The sanctity of our collaborators rubs off on us. If the trick works, the movements ranged against us will disperse, imagining that the world's problems have been solved."

Are you concerned about that?

BONO: As a hairy person, yes. I'm very concerned about that. It is the biggest risk that we take as activists, but I've been in the room with Condoleezza Rice. I've been in the room with President Bush and Tony Blair and Chirac and Schroeder and on the Democratic side, you know, with John Kerry and all over Congress. Am I being used? In a certain sense perhaps, but it works both ways. If they deliver, we must deserve applause. We must give the respect.

And on the debt issue which they've delivered in this last week, they deserve credit. If they blow it, then they deserve our boos and our hisses and they will lose our audience, and our audience is a big audience. I don't mean the U2 audience, but music constituency. They're the floating vote. They're the people who haven't made up their mind where they're going to vote. And believe me, I've been in the heartland of America. I've been in every city just in the last year either with U2 or on speaking tours and churches and schools. And people want to believe that this can be the generation that says no to stupid poverty, you know, and it's an obscenity. And in a world of plenty, children are dying for lack of food in their belly. We can actually do something about this. It's not mistrusted Irish rock star nonsense. There's a critical path. Cleaver people than I have put price tags. There are mechanisms in place to prevent the money being wasted. We must do this. This is--our generation demands it. There's an audience out there that demands it, and if we blow it, I know that I'm going to be embarrassed and this is--yes--and there's a lot at stake here.

MR. RUSSERT: What do you believe will happen at the G8 meeting?

BONO: I think in the next week, if the U.S. looks deep into its soul and more importantly its wallet and says, "Look, if we want to win the war against terror, we have to win the war against poverty." I didn't say that by the way. Colin Powell said that, a military man, and if want to win the war against poverty or be seen at least to show global leadership here, we are going to have to put our hands in our pocket in ways that we don't want to, but this is the moment, this is the time, and we have the rest of the world waiting. They're already in agreement, as I said to you earlier, the French, the Germans, the Italians, and if America comes through and leads this, I promise President Bush, I promise the people of America 'cause these are hard choices to make. I understand that, but this will be something in 50 years' time, in 25 years' time people will be very proud to have been a part of.

MR. RUSSERT: Bono, aka Paul Hewson, we thank you very much for joining us and sharing your views on MEET THE PRESS.

BONO: Thank you very much, Tim. Thanks for having me on the program. God bless you.

MR. RUSSERT: And we'll be right back.

                (Announcements)

MR. RUSSERT: That's all for today. We'll be back next week at a special early time, 8:00 a.m. Eastern, right before the Wimbledon finals. Check our Web site for a list of air times.

If it's Sunday, it's MEET THE PRESS.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

More on TODAY.com

  1. Jeff Gross / Getty Images

    USC football player’s story of rescuing nephew is under scrutiny

    8/27/2014 12:39:58 PM +00:00 2014-08-27T12:39:58
  1. TODAY

    video 9-year-old girl accidentally kills instructor during shooting lesson

    8/27/2014 11:37:50 AM +00:00 2014-08-27T11:37:50
  1. TODAY

    video TODAY viewers, anchors debate ‘knee defender’ gadget

    8/27/2014 12:46:36 PM +00:00 2014-08-27T12:46:36
  1. Add more time to your day! Martha Stewart’s back-to-school recipes

    For many parents, back to school means back to a regular schedule of making breakfast, lunch and dinner for the family. But it doesn’t have to mean back to the grind, says Martha Stewart, who shared healthy and delicious meals that are quick and easy.

    8/27/2014 11:18:33 AM +00:00 2014-08-27T11:18:33