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(Between December, 2000 and January, 2001): US Must React Forcefully to Any Future Attack, Rumsfeld Tells Bush; Bush Agrees, Promises to ‘Lean Forward’

At some point in December 2000 or early 2001, Donald Rumsfeld tells President Elect George W. Bush that the US’ capacity to deter potential aggressors has lessened because the US has not reacted strongly to attacks in the recent past. He tells Bush that, should any attack occur, he will ask him to retaliate forcefully. According to Rumsfeld’s account of this conversation in a January 2002 interview with the Washington Post, Bush promises to do so. Rumsfeld will recall: “I remember talking to him on that subject and expressed my concern that over a period of time in the United States the deterrent had been weakened because we had on a number of occasions seemed to the rest of the world to have been attacked or hit or somebody killed and the immediate reaction was a reflexive pull-back.… I remember talking to the president about that and he agreed strongly with it.… [H]aving been involved as Middle East envoy, and having seen terrorism and how it worked… I left no doubt in his mind but that at that moment where something happened that I would be coming to him to lean forward, not back, and that I wanted him to know that, and he said, just unambiguously, that that is what he would be doing. We had a very clear common understanding.” [Washington Post, 1/9/2002]

Entity Tags: Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline

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