Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld tells Newsmax that he firmly believes the United States is safer now than it was on Sept. 11, 2001.
“I think there’s no question but that America is safer today than it was then,” Rumsfeld said during a recent exclusive interview. “In one sense, that is to say that the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize and frighten people, and alter their behavior. And we have resisted that. We still are free people; people are in large measure still able to say what they wish and do what they wish and go where they wish without fearing that they’ll be killed.
“The other side of the argument, however, is that I think that the success of 9/11, of killing 3,000 people, may very well have encouraged terrorists to recognize the potential carnage that could be achieved using a chemical or biological weapon — where it might not be 3,000 that were killed but 300,000. I think the American people recognize that risk, and we’ve taken a whole series of steps to try to prevent that from happening.
Following are the former defense secretary's answers to other questions Newsmax posed:
How, in your view, has life in America been fundamentally changed by what happened on Sept. 11?
Well I think the awareness of our vulnerability is a change — certainly Pearl Harbor was a surprise just as the attacks on Sept. 11 were a surprise. They had not been anticipated, and today we do anticipate that we can be surprised and that we are vulnerable to a terrorist attack because a terrorist can attack anytime anyplace using any technique, and it’s not possible to defend in every location at every moment of the day or night against every conceivable technique.
That means the only way to deal with the problem is to go on the offensive and put pressure on the terrorists. And that of course is what the Bush administration did; they changed our policy from being defensive to being offensive — to going after the terrorists where they were, to attacking their bank accounts, addressing the problem of having countries being hospitable or assisting terrorists, and making everything they do more difficult — harder to communicate on the phone, harder to raise money, harder to recruit, harder to train.
Do you believe anything good or positive has emerged from the aftermath of 9/11?
Well I would go back to my point that one of the positive things, I think, that came from that attack was the awareness that we are vulnerable to surprise, and an awakening to the possibility that the attack could have been not using aircraft, but using a chemical or biological weapon in a way that the damage done would not have been 300 lives but 300,000 lives.
And I think that awareness has caused the American people to be more cautious and more careful, and to be supportive of the kinds of structures that were put in place to protect the American people.”
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