FTN - 10/19/03

face the nation logo, 2009

BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face The Nation, Secretary of State Colin Powell talks about Iraq. Two more American soldiers have died there amid new reports that in the days before the war the Pentagon may have ignored a State Department analysis that predicted many of the current problems in Iraq. Secretary of State Powell is in Bangkok with the president. We asked him all about that earlier this morning.

We'll also talk about it with Senators Pat Roberts, head of the Intelligence Committee, and Carl Levin, ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Jan Crawford Greenburg of "The Chicago Tribune" is also here, and I'll have a final word on cell phones."

But first, Secretary Powell on Face The Nation.

ANNOUNCER: Face The Nation with CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer. And now, from CBS News in Washington, Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. Well, the president is in Bangkok this morning for an economic conference, and several hours ago he met with China's president to talk, among other things, about the nuclear threat posed by North Korea. Secretary of State Powell was with him in those talks, and we talked to the secretary about all that earlier this morning.

The secretary believes it will be possible now to reach some sort of agreement that will satisfy North Korea's security concerns, but he says flatly there will be no formal treaty. He also talked this morning about the increasing casualties in Iraq.

Here's a portion of the interview now, beginning with the secretary's answer to why the United States does not want a formal treaty guaranteeing that we will not invade North Korea.

COLIN POWELL, Secretary of State: We believe that it'd be much better to have an agreement, and not a treaty that would have to go to our Senate for consummation or a pact. We have not done non-aggression pacts of this type. We believe that we can provide the kinds of assurances that the North Koreans say they are looking for without getting it into the formal process of a treaty. And we want it to be done in a way that involves all of the other parties in the region.

The North Koreans have, for a long time, tried to make it a bilateral issue between the United States and North Korea, and we've insisted that there are other nations that have an equity in this, especially North Korea's neighbors.

And so there's six of us working together, North Korea and the other five, working together; should be able to come up with assurances in a form that the North Koreans would be satisfied with. And in return, we would expect North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program. It gains nothing from this nuclear weapons program. We will not be threatened by it or be made afraid as a result of this program. And it does nothing for them at a time when they are in such economic need and have such difficulty just feeding their own people. So all six parties have a mutual interest in a denuclearized Korean peninsula, and the president has made it clear: no intention of invading or attacking North Korea.

So I think there is a solution to this problem. It doesn't involve a treaty that'll require a Senate ratification, but agreements that parties can enter into that will solve this problem if there is goodwill on the part of all the parties.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, let's shift, then.

Again today, Mr. Secretary, sad news from Iraq. Two more Americans have now been killed. That brings the total, I think, since the president declared that major operations were over -- more than 103 now, if memory -- if my figures are correct, have died in combat, plus 197, I think it is, in non-combat deaths. That puts it up around 200 people now since the 1st of May. And I wonder, should the American people expect this casualty toll to continue at about this same rate?

POWELL: I can't answer that. I can't look into the future. What's clear though is that we still have a dangerous environment in Iraq. There are still remnants of the old regime who do not want to see progress. But I'm confident that our military leaders there, and the wonderful young men and women who are serving their nation so proudly will ultimately get the security situation under control, and they'll be helped over time by the creation of a new Iraqi police force, and new Iraqi army that will increasingly take on the security responsibilities and relieve our troops of these responsibilities.

But meanwhile, while we regret these losses -- and I mourn for every young man and woman who is lost in combat -- we must not overlook the good things that are happening with respect to the restoration of the infrastructure, Iraqi youngsters going to school.

There is now life once again in the cities of Iraq, and there's stability in a number of parts of the country, even in the presence of the instability that we see in the central part, the Sunni triangle, and some of the difficulties we're having in parts of the Shia community.

And so it's going to take us time, and we have to persevere, and there will be casualties, and we regret each and every one of them. But not one of these casualties is a life lost in vain or an injury sustained in vain. We are doing this for a better world, a better region, and I think history will be a good judge of not only our intentions, but our accomplishments.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary, there are a couple of fairly disturbing reports on the front pages here today. One from "The New York Times" says that the State Department, your people, foresaw much of the trouble that is now plaguing Iraq and they had a much more dire assessment of what might happen after we toppled Saddam Hussein than we were told at the time that it happened. It's - this story also says that the Pentagon disregarded most of this information.

POWELL: I've just seen the headline.

SCHIEFFER: Along with -- go ahead.

POWELL: I haven't had a chance to glance at the story. But the story's referring to a year-long study that was done under State Department auspices called The Future of Iraq. And all of that material was made available to the Pentagon, made available to General Jay Garner, who was the original of the reconstruction office. And so they had all that information available. How they used it, what parts they found useful, what parts they didn't find useful I can't answer. And without knowing what specific recommendations were not accepted according to "The New York Times" story, I won't be able to comment in any more specificity about it.

SCHIEFFER: Well, it...

POWELL: But it was a good solid piece of work that was made available to the Pentagon, and I'm quite sure parts of it were used. I just don't know how extensively it was used.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I mean, it appears that the public statements that were being made by officials it -- when the war -- when the major combat was concluded were not reflected by this study.

But it leads me to another headline that's been in the paper over here, and that is this week Senator Kennedy, who is obviously a critic of this war, says the American people were told lie after lie after lie in the build-up before the war and in those days after.

What kind of response would you make to Senator Kennedy?

POWELL: I have to disagree strongly with Senator Kennedy.

The American people were not told lie after lie after lie. The American people were told that we had a dangerous situation in Iraq, that Saddam Hussein was ignoring 12 years of UN resolutions; that he had and was developing weapons of mass destruction. And I think Dr. Kay's report certainly suggests that there are programs for the development of weapons of mass destruction. We're still looking to see what stocks may be there.

But let there be no doubt about what Saddam Hussein's intentions always were. He had weapons of mass destruction, he has used weapons of mass destruction, and the president determined it was not a risk the world should have to face any longer. And now we have no longer a debate on this subject because he's gone, that regime is going, it's not coming back.

We have difficult work ahead of us. But we should also be quite proud of what we've accomplished so far. That dictatorial regime is gone. There'll be no more mass graves being filled by his victims.
The infrastructure is being restored, children are going to school, civil life and active life is returning to the streets of the cities of Iraq, and the Congress has demonstrated its commitment to this effort by the supplemental of $20 billion that has been passed to assist in the reconstruction effort. We got a unanimous resolution from the UN this week which supports the approach that we are taking. And dozens of countries, some 32 countries now are -- or about that number are standing alongside us in Iraq because they believe in what we're doing.

And so while we will have a debate about this, as whether we should have fought the war or not, that debate will continue. We did fight the war and we did prevail in that war and get rid of a terrible regime. And now let's come together and build a new Iraq. And let's stand together and finish this job now that we've begun it.

SCHIEFFER: Secretary of State Powell much earlier this morning.

Joining now as we continue this discuss is Jan Crawford Greenburg of "The Chicago Tribune." In Topeka, Kansas, Senator Pat Roberts who is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in Detroit, Michigan, Senator Carl Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee.

Senator Roberts, you just heard that, and when I refer to that report, the part that I find, if not disturbing, at least interesting is that it seems to be another example that what officials in the government were being told behind the scenes did not -- was not reflected in some of the rather optimistic public statements that they were making about what was going to happen in Iraq.

What is your reaction to it?

SEN. PAT ROBERTS, R-KS, Chairman, Select Committee on Intelligence: Well, I think the reaction was that basically -- at the first, with Mr. Jay Garner they expected a lot of refugees and a lot of humanitarian problems, that didn't occur.

I'm aware of this State Department report. Our staff that is doing the inquiry on the credibility of intelligence prior to the war has interviewed a lot of people from the State Department. It is very comprehensive. It's sort of philosophical and lacking on the implementation part of it, whereas the Pentagon likes to implement and they don't go -- you know, they don't like to go into the background so much.

This information is now on a CD-ROM, is being used by Ambassador Bremer who thinks it's an excellent report. I don't know about the gap from the time that this report would have been more helpful to the situation in Iraq today and where it is now. I do know that that State Department report is being used now.

JAN GREENBURG, "The Chicago Tribune": Well, Senator Levin, if I could, Secretary Powell said this was a good report, that it was made available to the Pentagon, but that he's not sure what they did with it. What's your reaction to that?

SEN. CARL LEVIN, D-MI, Ranking Member, Armed Services Committee: I find it troubling that the secretary of State doesn't know what the Pentagon did with the report.

Many recommendations of that report apparently were very key recommendations in terms of what should have been done in planning for the aftermath of the military conflict, including whether or not the Iraqi army below the mid-officer level at least should have been kept in order to keep some security in Iraq.

I believe, although I'm not positive, that that was a recommendation of the report, that there was a prediction in that report that unless the army -- again, not the officers and the folks that were involved in the Ba'athist Party but the mid-officer levels and below -- needed to be kept in order to maintain security.

If that was a recommendation, it was totally ignored, and it seems to me that now instead of just looking backward, as important as that is, we ought to look very seriously at that recommendation as well as the other recommendations in that report, but I am troubled by the fact that apparently there was no communication between State Department and Defense Department about those recommendations.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, those answers raise even more questions. Let's take a break here.

We'll come back in a minute with more of this discussion -- in a minute.


SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with Senators Roberts and Levin, and Senator Roberts, I wanted to go back to something you said. You are and your committee is conducting an inquiry into just how good our intelligence was as we embarked on this war in Iraq.


SCHIEFFER: I know you're not finished with it, but what have you found so far? Do you have concerns about it, do you feel good about it? Just where are you?

ROBERTS: I feel pretty good about the inquiry. We're about, oh, 90 percent done. Senator Rockefeller and I are working very hard, along with Carl Levin who's a very valued member of the committee.

Let me just say that I do have concerns about intelligence. Intelligence is always very subjective, but as I said during the Niger business and the famous 16 words that the president was ill served by the intelligence community.

I am very concerned about it, but I don't want to say anything publicly in terms of my opinion of it because the report has not been made available. Actually, the writ report is a summary to all the members of the Intelligence Committee, and that's going to have to be gone through at that particular time. Once we get that and we get a bipartisan conclusion on that report, then it goes to the intelligence community to make sure we can declassify it, and then we can make a report...

SCHIEFFER: All right.

ROBERTS: ...to the American people and have public hearings.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just ask you this at this point. Is it the intelligence itself and the way it was gathered that you're concerned about, or is it the way it was analyzed?

ROBERTS: I think both.


ROBERTS: That's always the question. We always have very good collection assets; not too much in Iraq. We needed more especially in regards to human intelligence. But it's that analytical product and then the conclusion and then what the policy-maker does with it that is the question. Of course, that's always 20/20 hindsight, but in this particular case, I think there were very serious gaps.

GREENBURG: Senator Levin, if we could just expand that a little bit. Bob had asked the secretary about Senator Kennedy's comments, that the American people have been told lie upon lie about this war. Do you agree with that? Do you agree with Senator Kennedy?

LEVIN: I think there was exaggeration upon exaggeration upon exaggeration. There's just a huge disconnect here between what the intelligence was said to provide -- or say about what's going on in Iraq, what the policy-makers were saying about what was going on in Iraq, and what the reality was on the ground relative to those weapons of mass destruction. And we have to remember that the intelligence was that there were in the possession of Saddam weapons of mass destruction. The policymakers then took those statements and probably embellished them further, making them more certain than they really were. So we ended up with statements coming from the administration that Saddam had chemical weapons in his possession, he had biological weapons in his possession, he was reconstituting a nuclear program. Over and over again, that was the reason given for it, initiating this attack, and it turns out that there's a huge disconnect, a huge gap between those statements and what the reality was on the ground.

And there's two pieces to a necessary inquiry. One is why was that intelligence so far off, but the second half, which they're not going into on the Intelligence Committee, which is led by Senator Roberts with distinction, but what they're not looking into is the policy-makers' use of that intelligence.

They have omitted that second key half of the question, is not just what was the intelligence given to them, but what did they do at the administration level, at the top levels, with what was given to them. And that is a critical question which needs to be reviewed.

SCHIEFFER: But do either of you believe at this point, from what you know now, that Saddam Hussein does have weapons of mass destruction? Senator Levin first.

LEVIN: No. It appears now from all we know that he did not have in his possession the weapons that the administration and the intelligence community said that he currently then had in his possession and was threatening to use.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

LEVIN: That was what took us to war.

SCHIEFFER: Senator Roberts?

ROBERTS: Well, I don't think he had the nuclear capability, but I think school is still out. Dr. Kay pointed out, and as we all know, there are 600,000 tons of conventional munitions, but you don't know whether they are conventional or if they could contain any chemical or any biological warheads, and Dr. Kay still says don't be surprised if there's going to be a surprise. Now he did say that Saddam Hussein's concealment efforts were very sophisticated.

I think there are three things that really have hindered this. Number one, the probable fear on the part of those who would never cooperate with us as long as Saddam Hussein is alive; we have to kill or capture him.

Secondly, there's a lot of dual-use equipment that needs a lot of study.

And then lastly, we have to get to the bottom of this, because this isn't going to be the last time that some rogue nation, i.e., like Iran, has the possibility of a lot of weapons of mass destruction. And if Saddam was able to conceal in a very sophisticated way of what happened to the weapons of mass destruction -- we all know that he had them -- we have to get to the bottom of it. So I would rather reserve my comment on that until Dr. Kay comes back to the committee and gives his final conclusion.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Jan?

GREENBURG: Senator Levin, there are almost daily American casualties in Iraq. What must the president do to sustain support if these casualties continue, particularly in light of some of these reports that call into question our intelligence?

LEVIN: He's got to internationalize this much more than he's been willing to do, and that means give up some of the control over the civilian decision-making to the international community.

And secondly, we've got to turn much more of this over to the Iraqis. The head of that Governing Council has just said that he thinks that the Iraqi army, below the level of these mid-officers, should be reconstituted. It would give immediate security in Iraq. We ought to consider that, it seems to me.

But mainly, we've got to give greater authority to the international community, give up some of this American control over dollars of our taxpayers going in there. We're making all the decisions, and we can't do that. We become too much of a target and a lightning rod. We've got to be willing to share with other countries, the international community, to get other troops in there, to get other resources in there, and to hand over much greater sovereignty much more quickly to the Iraqis themselves.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this, Senator Roberts. "The New York Times" reported the other day that officials believe a lot of ammunition, the rockets -- these things are now being used against Americans, may have come from American ammo dumps. We're told there are ammo dumps around Iraq that are not being guarded. How could that have happened?

ROBERTS: I don't know about that. If that's the case -- in the Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee, we will have hearings about that. I rather doubt that that's the case, however. And that -- my gosh, Iraq is full of munitions and all sorts of military equipment, even that -- somebody estimated even that up the case of World War II in Nazi Germany.

I might just quarrel a little bit with Carl in regards to the fact of trying to get more international help. I think that's what the president and the secretary of State and the administration has tried to do.

And then when you get into `What part of "no" don't you understand?,' when everybody says, `No, no, no,' now you have an agreement by the UN accomplishing what I want to see happen and what also Carl wants to see happen. I think we're doing it better, but you need the kind of forces that can do the job, and I'm not too sure that all the international forces we're talking about can do that kind of a specific job.

SCHIEFFER: All right. I'm sor...

ROBERTS: We are standing up the police and we are standing up the military.

SCHIEFFER: OK. I'm sorry. We have to cut it off there. And I did misstate when I said those were American ammunition dumps. What I understand is there are ammunition dumps there that are simply unguarded. All right.

Well, thanks to both of you. We appreciate your coming by.

Back with a final word in just a minute.


SCHIEFFER: And finally today, another of our occasional reports on the end of Western civilization as we know it. Today's chapter: cell phones.

First, a disclosure. I have a cell phone, and it is a great way to stay in touch, but two weeks on the road has convinced me that staying in touch is not why people have cell phones. No, cell phones have become the new cigarettes, the crutch we lean on when we're nervous; something to fiddle with when we have nothing to do with our hands. Think about it.

Back when we all smoked, the first thing we did when we got off an airplane was grab a cigarette. Now we grab a cell phone. The hold that these things have on us is stronger, though, than nicotine.

I watched a man the other day try to take off his coat on a moving train and put it in the overhead rack while talking on his cell phone. Did you ever try to take off your coat one-handed?

Most cell phones calls come down to no more than this: `Here's where I am at this very minute, and I'll call you later,' which is harmless enough.

But here's why I worry. Sooner or later someone will decide these things are bad for you, because that's what someone always decides sooner or later, and they will be banned, which means the sidewalks of New York, which is a city of tall buildings surrounded by young women smoking cigarettes, will be jammed up even more with all those people coming outside to use their cell phones.

That will leave the rest of us no choice but to walk in the streets where we'll have to dodge all those drivers using cell phones. This is not good.

That's it for us. We'll see you next week right here on Face The Nation.