WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told journalists at the National Press Club on Friday that the Iraqi interim government understands the problem of insurgents having sanctuary, as do coalition leaders, and that dangerous cities will be taken back one way or the other.

“In Najaf, [U.S. forces] could have gone in and taken over the town; [we] had the military power to do it,” he said. “And they had Iraqi forces ready to take care of the shrines, so the coalition forces wouldn’t have to do it.

“It turned out they didn’t have to. The fact that it was clear to [Muqtada] al-Sadr and his crowd — the militia — that they did have the ability to do that was what led al-Sadr to get out of town and turn in their weapons.

“There are other places that will be taken by force and it’s really going to be a choice between the people in those towns and I don’t mean the innocent Iraqi people, the overwhelmingly majority of which support the government … what will take place in Fallujah: It will be restored under the control of the Iraqi government. We just don’t know how; whether it’ll be done peacefully or by force.”

Rumsfeld cautioned that there will be no clear sign of victory in the global war on terror, but that it is a necessary action and one that will ultimately make the world safer.

“We can’t make people safe, because terrorists can attack at any time, any place, using any technique. It’s not possible to defend in every place in the world, at every moment, day or night, against every conceivable threat.”

Rumsfeld was asked about President Bush’s recent comments that the war against terror cannot be won.

“It isn’t the kind of a war that ends with a signing ceremony on the [USS] Missouri. … There’s some things that you have to keep working on.

“We’ve got a bunch of people sending money to schools that put these young people in there and teach them how to go out and kill … and lie to them, and tell them that they’re going to go to heaven! Will there maybe always be people out there who will try to pollute young minds? Maybe there will be, in which case, we’re going to have to keep working the problem.”

When asked about the administration’s efforts in the pursuit of Osama bin Laden:

“[Osama bin Laden] has not been seen on video since 2001. Why is he busy? It’s because of the pressure we have put on him.”

“This task we have is to do everything humanly possible to try to protect the American people, and this government has done a lot to make this world safer, and this coalition has done a lot to make this world safer.

“The great sweep of human history is freedom, and that is on our side.”

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