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October 24, 2003

In case you missed it

If you don't have the luxury to be able to watch or read Rumsfeld's briefings everyday you sometimes miss some great gems. Yesterday's was one of them.

...today is the 20th anniversary, unhappy anniversary, of the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. That attack killed 240-plus Americans. Shortly after the attack, I received a phone call from Secretary of State George Shultz, saying that President Reagan and he wanted to meet with me, and asked me to serve for a period as the personal envoy of the president to the Middle East. I remember that experience very well, and if you'll think back to it, it was a -- just an enormously violent event. And the photographs of it were photographs of a great many wonderful Americans in a building that had been nearly totally destroyed.

After that, the immediate reaction was a human reaction, and cement barricades were put up around buildings housing American troops, so that trucks couldn't willingly or easily get into and attack a major building; barricades somewhat like the ones you see around here. And of course, the next thing that happened was the terrorists starting using rocket-propelled grenades and lobbing them over those barricades. The barricades are fine for trucks; they're not so fine for airborne missiles of various types.

The next thing, if you went down to the Corniche in Beirut and looked up, you'd see embassy buildings draped with mesh, a wire mesh, the idea being that when the rocket-propelled grenades would hit the mesh, they'd bounce off. And so, the point being that terrorists go to school on you, and they adjust their tactics. The mesh worked for a short period, and pretty soon, they started hitting soft targets, people going to and from where they were working.

I mention this because it is a point that I've tried to make from time to time; namely, that a terrorist can, in fact, attack at any time, in any place, using any technique, and free people are not able to defend at every place, at every moment of the day or night, against every conceivable type of technique. The advantage is with the attacker. And the only way to defeat terrorists is to take the war to them; to go after them where they are, where they live, where they plan, where they hide; go after their finances; go after the people who harbor and assist them; and reduce the number of them, and the number of people supporting them and the number of people financing them, so that the numbers of new terrorists coming into the process, trained and financed and ready to go out and kill innocent men, women and children across the world, so that that number is reduced. That's the president's policy. It's the correct policy.

How many people looked up "slog" in the dictionary? (Light laughter.) Just be honest --

Q Quagmire, isn't it --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Huh?

Q Quagmire. (Laughter.)

SEC. RUMSFELD: How many of you did? How many -- some of you did. I'll bet you a few of you looked it up, you just don't want to admit it; you're embarrassed.

How many of you have heard that word recently?

Q Slog?

Q Recently?

Q It was in the memo! (Laughs.)

SEC. RUMSFELD: No, except for me! (Laughter.) I mean, I went home and my wife said, "Are you sure that's a word?"

Q It's a British word, isn't it?

SEC. RUMSFELD: And I said, "Oh, I'm sure it's a word, but I just haven't heard it for about 20 or 30 years and" --

Q Thought you'd resurrect it?

SEC. RUMSFELD: -- I thought I'd bring it back into active competition.

The Oxford Dictionary, I'm told by Mark, has a definition of "slog," the preferred one, I believe, which is: "slog -- to hit or strike hard, to drive with blows, to assail violently."

And that's precisely what the U.S. has been doing, and intends to continue to do.

Q Is that what you thought it meant when you wrote it?

SEC. RUMSFELD: It's close enough for government work! (Laughter.)
It's not only the Oxford Dictionary's preferred definition, it's mine.

We're finding these terrorists where they are, and we're rooting them out, and we're capturing them, we're killing them. It's difficult work. It won't be over any time soon. And I will close by saying it will be a long hard slog, indeed.

Posted in War on Terrorism by usrbingeek at 2003-10-24 19:42 ET (GMT-5) | 0 Comments | Permalink



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