U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Transcript

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Thursday, August 26, 2004

Secretary Rumsfeld Press Conference in Phoenix, Arizona


Q: [Inaudible]

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, it’s such a complicated subject. Today we collect so much information and only a relatively small portion is actually analyzed and communicated. But the real tension that exists is we have these stovepipes where only certain people know this and certain people know that. And people over here need to know it and don’t know it. And so when we say we need to break down those stovepipes, it means that we’ve got to find a way to get the intelligence information that can save lives and can enable us to do our job much better, from a military standpoint and from a policy standpoint, we’ve got to find a way to break those down. Now, why are there stovepipes? Because we’ve been operating, very rationally, on a need-to-know basis. To the extent you have a stovepipe, it’s because you value that information and do not want it known that you know it and therefore you limit the people who have access to it to the people who, quote, “need to know.” That means that the people over here who you don’t think need to know it, don’t know it. And in fact, there are a lot more people that need to know it. So you run the risk of having it compromised. It’s very difficult. I mean, you all know this. Our country has forgotten how to keep a secret. We have such a hemorrhaging of information that’s classified. Every day in Washington, D.C., and around the world. How do you deal with that when people’s lives are at stake?

It was in World War II, you probably don’t remember it, but I mean, there would be signs everywhere, “Loose lips sink ships.” And so how do we do that? Now it may very well be that a lot of information is classified that shouldn’t be, or it’s classified for a period longer than it should be. And maybe we’ve got to find a better way to manage that as well. But the task of – we have to take the risk of breaking down those stovepipes and seeing that the people who need to know that information have an ability to access it and to be able to use it. And in today’s world in the 21st century, that doesn’t mean, you know, at a leisurely pace. It means we need to have information when we need to have it and not later when it’s no longer helpful. Yes.


Source: Department of Defense