This is a -- First of all, good evening. This is a tragic day for our country.
Our hearts and prayers go to the injured, their families and friends.
We have taken a series of measures to prevent further attacks and to determine
who is responsible. We're making every effort to take care of the injured and
the casualties in the building. I'm deeply grateful for the many volunteers from
the defense establishment and from the excellent units from all throughout this
region. They have our deep appreciation.
We have been working closely throughout the day with President Bush, Vice
President Cheney, CIA Director George Tenet, the vice chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, Dick Myers, who is currently participating in a meeting
elsewhere in the building, and a great many other officials from throughout the
I should say we've received calls from across the world offering their sympathy
and indeed their assistance in various ways.
I'm very pleased to be joined here by Chairman Carl Levin and Senator John
Warner. Senator Warner called earlier today and offered his support and was kind
enough to come down and has been with us. We've very recently had a discussion
with the President of the United States. Chairman Hugh Shelton has just landed
from Europe. Secretary of the Army Tom White, who has a responsibility for
incidents like this as executive agent for the Department of Defense, is also
It's an indication that the United States government is functioning in the face
of this terrible act against our country. I should add that the briefing here is
taking place in the Pentagon. The Pentagon's functioning. It will be in business
I know the interest in casualty figures, and all I can say is it's not possible
to have solid casualty figures at this time. And the various components are
doing roster checks, and we'll have information at some point in the future. And
as quickly as it's possible to have it, it will certainly be made available to
each of you.
I'll be happy to take a few questions after asking first General Shelton if he
would like to say anything, and then we will allow the others to make a remark
General Shelton: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Ladies and gentlemen, as the secretary just said, today, we have watched the
tragedy of an outrageous act of barbaric terrorism carried out by fanatics
against both civilians and military people, acts that have killed and maimed
many innocent and decent citizens of our country.
I extend my condolences to the entire Department of Defense families, military
and civilian, and to the families of all those throughout our nation who lost
I think this is indeed a reminder of the tragedy and the tragic dangers that we
face day in and day out both here at that home as well as abroad.
I will tell you up front, I have no intentions of discussing today what comes
next, but make no mistake about it, your armed forces are ready.
Warner: The chairman.
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin.
Levin: Our intense focus on recovery and helping the injured and the families of
those who were killed is matched only by our determination to prevent more
attacks and matched only by our unity to track down, root out and relentlessly
pursue terrorists, states that support them and harbor them.
They are the common enemy of the civilized world. Our institutions are strong,
and our unity is palpable.
Senator John Warner.
Warner: Thank you.
As a past chairman, preceding Carl Levin, I can assure you that the Congress
stands behind our President, and the President speaks with one voice for this
entire nation. This is indeed the most tragic hour in America's history, and yet
I think it can be its finest hour, as our President and those with him, most
notably our secretary of Defense, our chairman, and the men and women of the
armed forces all over this world stand ready not only to defend this nation and
our allies against further attack, but to take such actions as are directed in
the future in retaliation for this terrorist act -- a series of terrorist acts,
unprecedented in world history.
We call upon the entire world to step up and help, because terrorism is a common
enemy to all, and we're in this together. The United States has borne the brunt,
but who can be next? Step forward and let us hold accountable and punish those
that have perpetrated this attack.
Again, I commend the secretary, the chairman, and how proud we are. We spoke
with our President here moments ago. He's got a firm grip on this situation, and
the Secretary and the General have a firm grip on our armed forces and in
communication the world over.
SecDef Rumsfeld: Thank you very much.
We'll take a few questions and then we'll adjourn.
Question: Mr. Secretary, did you have any inkling at all, in any way, that something of
this nature and something of this scope might be planned?
SecDef Rumsfeld: Charlie, we don't discuss
Question: I see. And how -- how would you respond if you find out who did this?
SecDef Rumsfeld: Obviously, the President of
the United States has spoken on that subject, and those are issues that he will
address in good time.
Question: Mr. Secretary, we are getting reports from CNN and others that there are
bombs exploding in Kabul, Afghanistan. Are we, at the moment, striking back? And
if so, is the target Osama bin Laden and his organization?
SecDef Rumsfeld: I've seen those reports.
They -- in no way is the United States government connected to those explosions.
Question: What about Osama bin Laden, do you suspect him as the prime suspect in this?
SecDef Rumsfeld: It's not the time for
discussions like that.
Question: Mr. Secretary, you said you could not be specific about casualties. Can you
give us some characterization, whether it's dozens, hundreds in the building?
SecDef Rumsfeld: Well, we know there were
large numbers, many dozens, in the aircraft that flew at full power, steering
directly into the -- between, I think, the first and second floor of the --
opposite the helipad. You've seen it. There cannot be any survivors; it just
would be beyond comprehension.
There are a number of people that they've not identified by name, but identified
as being dead, and there are a number of causalities. But the FBI has secured
the site. And the -- information takes time to come. People have been lifted out
and taken away in ambulances. And the numbers will be calculated, and it will
not be a few.
Question: Mr. Secretary, could you tell us what you saw?
Question: Mr. Secretary?
SecDef Rumsfeld: Yeah?
Question: Mr. Secretary, do you consider what happened today, both in New York and
here, an act of war?
SecDef Rumsfeld: There is no question but
that the attack against the United States of America today was a vicious,
well-coordinated, massive attack against the United States of America. What
words the lawyers will use to characterize it is for them.
Question: Does that mean that the U.S. is at war then?
Question: Mr. Secretary, you said that the Pentagon would be open for business
tomorrow. What kind of assurances can you give the people who work here at the
building that the building will be safe?
SecDef Rumsfeld: A terrorist can attack at
any time at any place using any technique. It is physically impossible to defend
at every time in every place against every technique. It is not possible to give
guarantees. The people who work in this building do so voluntarily. They're
brave people, and they do their jobs well.
Question: Mr. Secretary, can you give a sense of what happened -- what did you see when
you left your office, ran down to the site and apparently helped people on
stretchers and then returned to the command center?
SecDef Rumsfeld: The -- I felt the shock of
the airplane hitting the building, went through the building and then out into
the area, and they were bringing bodies out that had been injured, most of which
were alive and moving, but seriously injured. And a lot of volunteers were doing
a terrific job helping to bring them out of the buildings and get them into
stretchers and into ambulances and into airlifts.
Question: Mr. Secretary, can you tell us how many of the dead were soldiers and how
many were civilians? Have you been able to determine that?
SecDef Rumsfeld: Absolutely not.
Question: Mr. Secretary, today we saw military planes both in New York and in
Washington. How much more of a military presence will we see, now that this
incident has occurred, for the next week?
SecDef Rumsfeld: Those kinds of decisions
are made day to day. It is correct that we had aircraft flying protective
missions at various places in the United States today. And they will do that as
Question: Mr. Secretary --
Question: Mr. Secretary --
Question: -- what do you say to the American people who may have questions on how
something so coordinated has been carried out against this nation? What do you
say to them who might not have confidence that our intelligence and security are
what they should have been?
SecDef Rumsfeld: I say to them that the
President of the United States will be making some remarks to them this evening
that will address those subjects.
Question: Mr. Secretary, you've declared -- the Pentagon has declared Threatcon Delta
for forces around the world. Could you tell me why? Have you received any
threats? Or has anyone claimed credit for this?
SecDef Rumsfeld: We have in fact declared
Force Protection Condition Delta and a condition of high alert -- indeed, the
highest alert. We did so almost immediately upon the attacks, and it is still in
Question: Mr. Secretary, were there threats issued against other U.S. facilities
elsewhere in the world today?
SecDef Rumsfeld: The -- I don't know that
there's a day that's gone by since I've been in this job that there haven't been
threats somewhere in the world to some facility somewhere. It's a -- it's one of
the complexities of the intelligence business that you have to sort through
those kinds of things. But we don't get into the specifics.
Yes? You had your hand up? Yes?
Question: Mr. Secretary, there were rumors earlier in the day that the plane which
crashed in Pennsylvania had been brought down by the United States, either shot
down or in some other manner.
SecDef Rumsfeld: We have absolutely no
information that any U.S. aircraft shot down any other aircraft today.
Question: I wonder if we could just ask Senator Levin one thing, Senator, if that's all
Levin: You bet.
SecDef Rumsfeld: Senator Levin, you and
other Democrats in Congress have voiced fear that you simply don't have enough
money for the large increase in defense that the Pentagon is seeking, especially
for missile defense, and you fear that you'll have to dip into the Social
Security funds to pay for it. Does this sort of thing convince you that an
emergency exists in this country to increase defense spending, to dip into
Social Security, if necessary, to pay for defense spending -- increase defense
Levin: One thing where the committee was unanimous on, among many, many other
things, was that the -- we authorized the full request of the President,
including the $18 billion. So I would say that Democrats and Republicans have
seen the need for the request.
Question: Mr. Secretary, could you describe what steps are being taken -- defensive
measures -- beyond force protection, and whether there's been any operational
planning for homeland defense and as to --
SecDef Rumsfeld: Those aren't the kinds of
things that one discusses.
Question: Sir, the perpetrators of the Khobar Towers bombing were never found -- the
Cole bombing as well. What assurances or what confidence do you have that the
perpetrators of this act will be found?
SecDef Rumsfeld: All one can offer by way of
assurance is a seriousness of purpose. We're still taking bodies out of this
building, so I would say that that's a little premature.
Question: Mr. Secretary?
SecDef Rumsfeld: Yes?
Question: You've talked about -- and others at the podium have talked about being
ready, the military is ready, General Shelton said. And we understand the Navy
has dispatched two carriers and some guided-missile cruisers and destroyers and
a couple of Marine Corps helicopter amphibious ships, such as the Bataan -- it's
not the Bataan -- here and to New York. Can you tell us if that's true? And also
any other things you can share with us about how the United States military is
preparing to take on whatever in the next few days?
SecDef Rumsfeld: We don't make announcements
about ship deployments.
Question: Mr. Secretary?
SecDef Rumsfeld: Yes?
Question: Can you describe the fire-fighting efforts that are going on right now in
that corridor and the search-and-rescue efforts that are beginning?
SecDef Rumsfeld: Can I describe them?
SecDef Rumsfeld: Why don't we let the
Secretary of the Army, who was out there with me a few minutes ago and has been
talking to the incident commander on the site.
White: I think it's fair to say at this point that the fire is contained, and
will shortly, if not already, be sufficiently controlled to allow entry into the
building. That entry will be supervised by the FBI, who are in charge of the
site, assisted by the fire departments that are present. We, on the Army side,
will support them as they go in the building and search for casualties and bring
them out, then we will support them in dealing with that. That's what's going on
on the ground.
SecDef Rumsfeld: We'll take one last
Question: Is the government operating under
the assumption that this attack is done, or is it poised or bracing for more
SecDef Rumsfeld: The government is certainly
aware that it's difficult to know when attacks are concluded.
And I want to thank Senator -- Chairman Levin and Senator Warner, and certainly
Secretary of the Army White and General Shelton for being here with me. And
we'll excuse ourselves. Thank you.