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Rumsfeld: US Wants Terrorists on Defensive - 2001-09-18

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the Bush administration is moving in a "measured manner" as it gathers information and prepares for action against terrorists.

Speaking one week after the bloody terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and New York's World Trade Center, Mr. Rumsfeld is promising an offensive against terrorists and their supporters. "We intend to put them on the defensive, to disrupt terrorist networks and remove their sanctuaries and their support systems," he said.

But speaking to reporters, Mr. Rumsfeld remains intentionally vague about the types of measures the administration plans. "This requires a distinctly different approach from any war we have fought before," he said. "In the past, we were used to dealing with armies and navies and air forces and ships and guns and tanks and planes. This adversary is different. It does not have any of those things. It does not have high-value targets that we can go after. But those countries that support them and give sanctuary do have such targets."

Mr. Rumsfeld refers to the countries where terrorists receive sanctuary as "swamps" and says they will have to be drained. But he acknowledges Afghanistan might prove a difficult, muddy environment for U.S. troops to operate in. He says only that the United States will have to use the full spectrum of its capabilities in any possible action there.

Afghanistan is a known base for terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden. But Mr. Rumsfeld again makes clear the U.S. response to last week's terrorist attacks will be aimed at more than just Osama bin Laden's terrorist group.

In a related development, Mr. Rumsfeld says the latest allied airstrikes in southern Iraq are not linked to last week's attacks. He says they are part of the normal pattern of action against hostile Iraqi acts against coalition planes enforcing the so-called no-fly zone set up after the Gulf War.