Mokhiber: Ari, last week, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said that soldiers drafted to service in the military "added no value, no advantage, really to the United States armed services."
The Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation has called this an "egregious slur" and a "grave insult to the memory, sacrifice, and valor of those who lost their lives in Vietnam."
One Vietnam Vet, Thomas Bohan of Rochester, New York, said this: "As a draftee who spent a year of his life in Vietnam, I would like to suggest that perhaps my inferior service to our country wouldn't have been necessary if those proud, flag-waving patriots like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the rest of the cowards had come forward to enlist. I would like to see Secretary Rumsfeld repeat his speech in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Memorial Day." Does the President agree with Secretary Rumsfeld that soldiers drafted to service "added no value to the United States armed services"?
Ari Fleischer: Russell, Russell, Russell. I'm honored that you chose, in the face of the Rumsfeld briefing at the same time as mine, to come here. But I'm sure that if you took the entire text of what Secretary Rumsfeld said to Secretary Rumsfeld and asked him -- I'm sure if you looked at the entire context of what Secretary Rumsfeld said, you would have thought twice about taking any one statement. I think if you looked at everything Secretary Rumsfeld said, you would get a very, very different picture.
Mokhiber: I have a second question.
Ari Fleischer: No. (Ari moves on.)