MIAMI (Talon News) — Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently spoke in Miami and reiterated what is at stake as America wages its war on terror.

“The global war on terror is a fight for freedom, let there be no doubt. While terrorists do not employ massed armies and navies or air forces, they are, nonetheless, successors to the murderous ideologies of the last century — just as you are the heirs of the great generations who preserved our freedom,” Rumsfeld said.

Secretary Rumsfeld recalled that fateful September morning of 2001 that changed the United States forever.

“On September 11th, enemies of freedom declared war on us — and took the lives of three thousand innocent citizens of the United States and some 80 other nations — including many countries throughout Central and South America,” Rumsfeld said. “What began as a bright morning, ended in a tragedy of stunning proportions. As President Bush described it, ‘… night fell on a different world, a world where freedom itself is under attack.'”

In addressing concerns by critics about the cost of defending freedom, Rumsfeld cited figures published by the Wall Street Journal which estimate the financial damage of September 11th: $7.8 billion in lost income for the families of the more than 3,000 victims; $21 billion to New York City for direct damage costs; $4 billion for the victims fund; $700 million to repair the Pentagon; $6.4 billion in reduced or lost wages and salaries for workers in New York industries; 1.3 million net jobs lost nationwide; $150 billion in reduced GDP; $50 billion in costs to the insurance industry; approximately $11 billion in lost business to the airline industry and the bankruptcy of two airlines, even after a $15 billion federal bailout; $38 billion for new border security, protection against biological threats and emergency preparedness; roughly $1.3 billion in costs to state governments for homeland security; and more than $33 billion in spending by the private sector for new protective services.

“Hundreds of billions of dollars and that is not counting the price paid in lives and the suffering of the families of those lost. All of this was caused by four airplanes. Picture the damage terrorists could inflict with a chemical, biological, nuclear or a radiation weapon,” Rumsfeld said.

Answering questions by critics about the administration’s handling of prisoner’s of war overseas, Secretary Rumsfeld was very clear about the intentions of the United States.

“The United States has no desire to hold enemy combatants any longer than is absolutely necessary,” Rumsfeld said. “In most wars that this country has fought, enemy combatants are detained for the duration of the conflict as is recognized under the right of the laws of war. It is occasionally suggested that this standard, the laws of war, can’t apply in the case of the present war because the duration may be indeterminate.”

On the treatment of the prisoners, Rumsfeld added, “Like many of you we hear periodic criticism in the media about the treatment of prisoners being held in Cuba. Accusations that they’re being mistreated and even tortured. They’re not. When I hear those stories, those reports, the thought that comes to my mind is not the detainees and not Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

Rumsfeld stood by the United States’ decision to take military action against Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Today in Afghanistan and Iraq there are a total of some 50 million people who lived under vicious regimes and have now been liberated. And they are working to fashion free systems thanks to the determination, the dedication and the courage of the men and women in uniform who serve our country — active, guard, reserve, soldiers, sailors, marines, coast guardsmen,” Rumsfeld said.

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