Rumsfeld Says Full Funding Needed to Continue Terror War
By Donna Miles
WASHINGTON, March 10, 2004 -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld warned March 9 here that progress toward democracy in Iraq should not be interpreted as a sign that the terrorist threat is under control and that the military can now endure budget cuts.
Rumsfeld told reporters at a Pentagon briefing that despite this week's signing of an interim constitution in Iraq, the terrorist threat in that country and elsewhere continues, and America must ensure its military is capable of responding to that threat.
"The violence in Iraq last week is another reminder that even as the Iraqis take hold of their country, the war on terrorism continues," Rumsfeld said. "Dangerous adversaries remain in Iraq and elsewhere in the world, whose objective is to kill innocent men, women and children."
Rumsfeld said this ongoing threat reinforces the need for the United States to maintain the highest level of defense capabilities. "We are and remain at war, so it's important that we as a country continue to invest in the defense capabilities that are needed to prevail in that effort," he said.
The defense secretary acknowledged that these investments -- $421 billion President Bush has requested for the Defense Department in fiscal 2005 — "are significant" but said "they pale compared to the cost in lives and treasure of another attack like the one on Sept. 11."
Rumsfeld lauded the Iraqi Governing Council's March 8 signing of an interim constitution that will guide the nation until a permanent constitution is established.
"The leaders of Iraq's governing council have not only enacted a landmark law," he said, "they have shown the world that Iraqis are on the path and have a willingness to do the difficult work of democracies."
Rumsfeld warned that this progress should not be interpreted as a time to water down America's defense.
"This is the time to press forward with transformation of our nation's defenses," he said. "The men and women in uniform who are risking their lives in Iraq, in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the war on terror need our support, and they need the tools to prevail in this war and to prevail and prepare for the next."
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