|The San Diego Union-Tribune
September 19, 2001
Rumsfeld: U.S. to hit terrorists' backers
By OTTO KREISHER
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON -- To end the threat of terrorism, the United States and its
allies will have to "drain the swamp" in which terrorists live by hitting the
countries that harbor them, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said
"It's not a matter of a single event. We're talking about a very broadly based
campaign to go after the terrorist problem where it exists, and it exists in
countries across the globe," Rumsfeld said.
Rumsfeld's clear threat against countries that support terrorists came amid
reports that focused increased attention on Iraq, along with Afghanistan, as a
possible target for U.S. military reaction to last week's devastating terrorist
Former CIA Director James Woolsey said there were strong indications that
Iraq had provided support for the terrorists who attacked the World Trade
Center in 1993 with a car bomb in the parking garage.
The senior FBI agent running the investigation into that attack had tried to get
the Clinton administration to focus on the foreign connections, but was
stymied by a concentration on the domestic law enforcement effort that
brought some of the terrorists to trial, Woolsey told reporters yesterday.
Neil Livingstone, chairman of a firm that helps companies deal with terrorism,
said one man linked to that attack is known to be in Baghdad.
And CNN reported yesterday it had learned that Mohammed Atta, one of
the hijackers of the first plane to hit the World Trade Center, had met last
year in Europe with an Iraqi intelligence officer.
Attorney General John Ashcroft declined to say whether the investigation into
the Sept. 11 attacks has uncovered any link to Iraq.
In his quickly scheduled Pentagon briefing, Rumsfeld would not say if there is
evidence of the involvement of a foreign government in the latest attacks.
Pressed on the issue, he said, "It's a sensitive matter, and the United States is
careful about what it does."
But, he added: "A country has every right in the world to defend itself. And
that is what we intend to do."
Rumsfeld warned that the war against terrorism "will not be quick and it will
not be easy."
He said the United States is facing "a very new type of conflict" and is
"moving in a measured manner."
The enemy, he said, is "a broad network of individuals and organizations that
are determined to terrorize and, in so doing, to deny us the very essence of
what we are: free people.
"We have a choice, either to change the way we live, which is unacceptable,
or to change the way that they live," Rumsfeld continued. "We chose the
latter. We intend to put them on the defensive, to disrupt terrorist networks
and remove their sanctuaries and their support systems."
One of the ways to deal with the networks "is to drain the swamp they live in.
And that means dealing not only with the terrorists, but those who harbor
terrorists," the secretary said.
Woolsey and other terrorism experts met with reporters at a separate session, but they used strikingly similar language about the need to go beyond the individuals who carry out the attacks.
"They are mosquitoes. They carry a deadly disease. But you can't stop
malaria by swatting mosquitoes. You have to drain the swamp," Woolsey
said. "You have to go after the regimes that support terrorism."
Meanwhile, the Pentagon raised the death toll from last week's attack there to 189, after one of the injured died in a hospital.
Emergency personnel continued the delicate task of removing collapsed
portions of the building to facilitate the search for bodies.