Cal  Thomas

About insurgents coming into Iraq from Iran, he is more direct. In a Pentagon briefing, Rumsfeld said continuing to allow the insurgents into Iraq from Iran would ultimately be a problem for Iran. Was that a threat?

"No, I wouldn't use the word 'threat.' I'm from Chicago. If you're going to cock it, you'd better throw it." Rumsfeld explained he thinks that Iraq and neighboring countries "except for Syria" are not going to like Iran's efforts to destabilize Iraq. "To have an unstable situation in Iraq is a dangerous thing for the Gulf states and for Jordan, Saudi Arabia (and) Turkey. I think you have to live with the effects of your acts."

Rumsfeld said recent media reports about alleged abuse of detainees are not new. Rather, he says, they are stories about past incidents that are coming out in pre-trial hearings, or at proceedings where people have already been convicted of past abuse. He also noted that al-Qaida operatives have been trained to say they have been tortured.

Asked whether useful information has been extracted from detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Rumsfeld said, "There is no question that information provided by detainees in Guantanamo has saved American lives and saved the lives of people in other countries. It is aiding our body of knowledge about the global war on terror and it has been and will be useful."

So, are we making progress? Are we safer? Rumsfeld says, "There is no way it's possible for any country to defend (itself) every minute of the day or night in every location against every conceivable technique or attack by a terrorist. It's just too easy to strap on a vest and blow people up if you're willing to kill yourself." But, he says, the pressure that's on terrorists makes it "harder for them to move, communicate, raise money and recruit and maintain people."

If one accepts that terrorism will not end anytime soon, Rumsfeld's summation of progress is cause for some optimism and not the pessimism reflected in recent polls.

Cal Thomas

Get Cal Thomas' new book, What Works, at Amazon.

Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Cal Thomas' column. Sign up today and receive daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.