Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

This is a partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, October 10, that has been edited for clarity.

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TONY SNOW, GUEST HOST: Joining us now from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, where he spoke earlier today, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Secretary Rumsfeld, you met earlier this week with 19 NATO (search) defense ministers and I guess there are seven other countries coming on board. Have there been any commitments for further NATO involvement with peacekeeping efforts in Iraq (search) or Afghanistan (search)?

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: There have been. It's really an impressive, significant event that NATO, for the first time in the history, has gone outside the NATO treaty area and agreed to put forces into Afghanistan and has taken over responsibility for the International Security Assistance Force.

In addition, we had discussions this week about the idea of having the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, under NATO control; expand outside of Kabul with a series of things called Provincial Reconstruction Teams.

Which is an effort to help extend the reach of the central government out into the provinces. So, it is a big step for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It is an important step. And I'm just delighted that they have decided to do that.

I should also add that the overwhelming majority of the NATO countries currently have forces in Iraq, as well. And NATO's role in Iraq has been, thus far, to assist Poland and Spain that are heading up one of the two multinational divisions in Iraq, with their force generation. And…and…and that has been a good thing as well.

SNOW: So do you expect to see more NATO troops in Iraq?

RUMSFELD: Well, already six of the seven invitees are there. And I think something like 11 or 12 of the 18 countries are already in there. So, whether how many more might or might not, I don't know. But it's a very good representation now.

SNOW: The president and other members of administration, including you, have been arguing that the public perceptions about Iraq have been distorted. Bad reporting. Bad politics. Why not embed reporters again and get them around the country?

RUMSFELD: We're open to embedding. There are probably a few embedded right now. But people are not embedded because the troops, our forces, the coalition forces, are basically in a single location.

And the reporters are, for the most part, in Baghdad, where they've got access to see the facilities they want. So, it is…I've asked that same question you asked, Tony. And I found that there are few, but for the most part, the reporters aren't interested in embedding at the present time, it appears.

SNOW: Well, do you think reporting out of Baghdad leads to distortions?

RUMSFELD: I beg your pardon.

SNOW: Do you believe reporting out of Baghdad about the whole country leads to distortions?

RUMSFELD: No, I don't know if that I've ever used the word distortion. I think what you find is people report what they see that they think is newsworthy and they think will get on the news.

And if most of them are in Baghdad, they're going to report what's going on in Baghdad. Well, clearly Baghdad is the most difficult place we've got. The situation in the north is much better. The situation in the south is much better.

And if you are going to have constant drumbeat with 24-hour news, it leaves an impression, not because there is a distortion. Simply because it is an accurate representation of what those people happen to be seeing, but they happen to be seeing a relatively narrow slice of what's taking place in the country of Iraq.

I was looking at some materials the other day. I suppose our forces…coalition forces do something like 1,700 patrols a day. And of those, less than 1/10 of 1 percent end up with any conflict of any kind. That is a relatively small percentage. A very high percentage of those, however, occur in Baghdad and the central region.

SNOW: There…Captain James Yee (search) is now facing charges. Do you expect to see further charges and people before military tribunals in what seems to be a spreading scandal involving some American citizens at Guantanamo Bay?

RUMSFELD: Well, I don't have expectations one way or another. I know our forces are doing a good job of developing information about this problem. And that there are investigations underway, and in my position, my best course is to allow those investigations to proceed. And we'll see what they produce.

SNOW: Does that…does this problem surprise you?

RUMSFELD: No, my goodness. I'm 71 years old. We've had spies and problems throughout the entire history of mankind. Certainly our country has. If you have activities that other people are interested in, other people are going to try to penetrate those activities. And from time to time, they will be successful in penetrating them.

It is our task to constantly be vigilant against it and to have a variety of techniques of trying to root it out. And in this instance, we feel fortunate that we've been able pull some of those threads on alleged wrongdoing.

SNOW: Secretary Rumsfeld, the National Security Council has created something called the Iraq Stabilization Group (search). The press reporting this week said, ahh, Donald Rumsfeld has been frozen out. You say it's no big deal. Can you explain what happened? What went on?

RUMSFELD: Oh, goodness. You know, it's funny. It's typical Washington story. What happened is the National Security Council is doing what its charter suggested it should do. And that is to say coordinate among the various agencies and departments. And it is, again, I think, blown considerably out of proportion.

The funny thing about it is that this problem, or this situation that we're wrestling with in Iraq, is about Iraq. It's about the fact that 23 million Iraqis have been liberated. And the fact that we've got 32 countries working with us in there, trying to improve the circumstance for the Iraqi people, and trying to transfer the political economic and security responsibilities to the Iraqi people. It's not about the people in the National Security Council. It's about the Iraqi people.

SNOW: All right. Secretary Rumsfeld, thanks for joining us.

RUMSFELD: You bet.

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