FTN - 9/16/01, Part 1

face the nation logo, 2009

BOB SCHIEFFER: And as we begin this expanded broadcast this morning, we want to bring you up to date on the latest developments. President Bush has told the military, "Get ready for war." The vice president says, "If you provide sanctuary to terrorists, you face full wrath of the United States of America." And Pakistan has told the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden. Secretary of State Powell is here.

Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for coming.

COLIN POWELL, Secretary of State: Good morning, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: Let me start with this report from Pakistan this morning where the Pakistan government, I understand it, has told the Taliban that they're going to send a delegation to Afghanistan and they have told them to hand over Osama bin Laden. What can you tell us about that?

POWELL: Well, I've seen that report. I can confirm it through our embassy in Islamabad. But, if it is an accurate report, then I'm encouraged that the Pakistanis continue to play such a positive role in moving this campaign forward against those who might have been responsible for the tragedies of the 11th of September.

SCHIEFFER: Well, isn't that a little odd that if in fact this report is true, that the U.S. government doesn't have any information about it yet?

POWELL: I can assure you, we're working hard to confirm it, but it is a press report at the moment. And we'll be confirming it throughout the course of the day with the Pakistani government.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you, this, obviously, is what we want the Pakistanis to do. But by announcing this as they have is there another side to this that perhaps they're telling Osama bin Laden, "You'd better get out of town"?

POWELL: Well, I can't speculate on that. All I can say is that for the last several days, the Pakistani government has been very supportive and forthcoming. I spoke to President Musharraf several days ago, and he indicated full support. We provided them a list of things that we might be needing in the days ahead, and they said they would provide that support.

We'll have to get into the details of it over time. And yesterday, President Bush spoke to President Musharraf and got the same kind of assurances. So, we're very pleased with the role that the Pakistani government is playing.

SCHIEFFER: Was this in fact one of the things we asked them to do?

POWELL: We asked them for a variety of things. And I think it's best we keep those between the two governments at this time until we have an opportunity to see their reaction and then it'll all become public.

GLORIA BORGER, U.S. News & World Report: Let me just add one more question to this. If the Pakistanis did get Osama bin Laden what we would want them to do with him?

POWELL: I can think of many things, but I think let's wait and see if they do get him.

I hope if they do get him, and he is availabl in a way that would allow justice to be served, then I would want to see justice served. There are all sorts of UN resolutions and other statements out there, other requirements out there to bring this kind of terrorist to justice, to get terrorism stopped and bring these sorts of people to justice.

BORGER: A war tribunal?

POWELL: Well, we'll see. It remains to be seen what charges could be placed against him and what Pakistani law might be. And what Pakistan would do if they get this individual into custody. But let's not over-speculate before anything has really happened.

BORGER: Mr. Secretary, you have told Americans to be prepared for war, the president has. What will this war look like?

POWELL: It will be a campaign. It'll be an integrated, comprehensive campaign. We're not fighting an enemy that is located on a battlefield where we all can see the enemy and just go after him.

This is an enemy that intends to remain hidden. It's a very resourceful enemy. And so we have to attack on all fronts, and we have to do it with a broad coalition because this enemy is spread out across the world. And it will take the international community.

It will require intelligence actions, legal actions, financial actions, military actions, diplomatic and political actions, all part of a comprehensive campaign not to go after just one person, but to go after a network, the Al Qaeda network and to go after other terrorist organizations that are practicing this kind of evil upon the civilized world.

SCHIEFFER: Explain what the Al Qaeda network is.

POWELL: Consider Al Qaeda as something of a large holding company. And the head of the holding company is Osama bin Laden. And within that holding company, you have got groups of terrorist organizations that are located in countries throughout the world that are loosely and sometimes tightly nit into Osama bin Laden.

But there's no doubt that there's support for all of them and the central nervous system for al of them flows up what is called Al Qaeda, and at the top of Al Qaeda is Osama bin Laden.

BORGER: Should Americans be prepared to send ground troops?

POWELL: We should be prepared to do whatever is necessary to deal with this threat. We are at war, the president said. But let's not speculate on what particular type of military response might be required.

BORGER: Well, should we be prepared it kill civilians in this process?

POWELL: You don't want to kill innocent civilians, but if civilians are terrorists, then they have made themselves the object of our wrath, as the president and vice president have said.

SCHIEFFER: You've already said that - or we already know - that the reserves are being called up. Do you think that under any conceivable circumstance there would be a reinstitution of the draft?

POWELL: I don't see any need for that right now The armed forces are strong, and with our very, very capable, loyal, and so patriotic reserve forces, I think we probably have enough without considering reinstitution of the draft.

SCHIEFFER: You have been focused in recent days in putting together this coalition. How is that going? Who's in it? And who's not in it yet?

POWELL: It's going very well. I'm just deeply grateful for the responses we have received, whether it was NATO invoking Article V, the mutual defense article of the NATO Treaty, the Washington Treaty or the United Nations passing a very strong resolution both in the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Organization of Islamic Conferences' making positive statements, the Organization of American States making a statement and now getting ready to have a meeting in Washington to take further action, I've been very pleased on a bilateral basis.

So many of our friends and allies have come forward whether it's Israel, whether it's Saudi Arabia, whether it's Japan, Australia. I don't want to offend anybody by leaving them out. But just about every country has come forward with a few exceptions. One, of course, is Iraq. But, we wouldn't expect them to come forward. It is that kind of regime that causes so much trouble in the world. And there are one or two others that have not yet been heard from.

But we've heard from such nations as Syria, for example, which we have always said is a state that sponsors terrorism. But they provided a rather forthcoming statement. And perhaps there are new opportunities with respect to Syria, not just going after the Taliban and Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden . But perhaps, also dealing with other terrorist organizations that have been supporting in the past. Let's see if they recognize that terrorism does not belong in a civilized place.

SCHIEFFER: Is it because they now see the Taliban as a threat to their regime?

POWELL: I hope they see terrorism as a threat to the entire world. But I'm not under any illusions about the nature of the Syrian government. But let's see if there is an opportunity here to work together on the elimination of terrorism as a cause of violence in the Middle East and everywhere else around the world.

SCHIEFFER: Is it in fact true that we have made approaches to the government of Iran for help on this?

POWELL: Iran made a rather positive statement for Iran. We have serious differences with the government Iran because of their support of terrorism, but they have made a statement. And it seems to be a statement that is worth exploring to see whether or not they now recognize this is a curse on the face of the earth. And of course, Iran has always had difficulty with the Taliban regime and Afghanistan.

BORGER: On the other hand, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, did not make a positive response to this. In fact, he said, "The American cowboy is reaping the fruits of its crime gainst humanity."

POWELL: This is an irrelevant individual sitting there with a broken regime. He pursues weapons of mass destruction. He is the greatest threat in that region because he refuses to abide by the simplest standards of civilized behavior. So we'll continue to contain Saddam Hussein. We'll keep his regime under sanctions. And we will what is necessary when it becomes necessary, when we choose to.

BORGER: Any Saddam Hussein fingerprints of this particular attack?

POWELL: At the moment we see no fingerprints between Iraq and what happened last Tuesday. But we are looking. We will pull it up by its roots. We will find out who is responsible, and we will determine what connections exist between various regimes around the world who participate in this kind of thing.

SCHIEFFER: There are reports this morning that some of these people who were on these air planes, in fact, may have gotten training from the U.S. military. Now, we know that people don't just wander in off the street and get enrolled in the U.S. military programs.

Those are government-to-government exchanges.

First, I would ask you, is that true? And the second thing I would say, does this increase the possibility that perhaps this is some sort of state-sponsored terrorism?

POWELL: I'm familiar with the report, and I'd rather let the FBI and the Justice Department answer it precisely.

But keep in mind that as a result of our relations with a number of the countries, friendly countries, over many years, we have trained pilots for other countries in our training facilities. So that is possible. But it doesn't necessarily reflect state-sponsored terrorism. It just means that we trained somebody who subsequently moved in that direction, unfortunately. But he did get training in the United States, just as we know that the others were trained to - for the most part here in the United States in aviation schools.

BORGER: When you consider some kind of a first strike in this war, what do you worry about in terms of retaliation against this country? That's got to be part of your calculations.

POWELL: I assume that there are those out there who are still planning activities against the United States whether we retaliate or not. We should not see this just in terms of retaliation for the sake of retaliation, just to strike for the sake of striking. We should see it in terms of a campaign that goes after, not just retaliatory satisfaction, but goes after eliminating this threat by ripping it up, by going after its finances, by going after its infrastructure, by making sure we are applying all the intelligence assets we can to finding out what they may be up to.

The measure of success at the end of the day will be no more attacks like this or of any other nature against the United States and our interests around the world.

SCHIEFFER: We had never had anything likthis, so perhaps that's one of the reasons for it. But clearly, it seems that the United States was unprepared for an attack on the homeland. We're told now that even after people at the Pentagon - Defense Secretary Rumsfeld - even after it was known that there were aircraft heading toward the Pentagon, that the Secretary of Defense didn't know about it. The jets were scrambled, but everything happened too late. How prepared were they?

POWELL: I think we all understand that homeland defense is an important mission, one that'll be getting a lot of attention. The vice president is personally directing our efforts with respect to homeland defense. I think it is a little unfair to say that the Pentagon was unprepared when suddenly a plane - an American commercial airliner - shows up in air space just a few minutes away from impact from the Pentagon and say, "Well, why weren't F-16's up there ready - or F-15's up there ready to shoot it down"'

Nobody would have anticipated that kind of threat without some sort of cuing or warning that such an attack was on the way or we had some kind of intelligence that such attack was coming. So I think it's a little unreasonable and frankly unfair, to suggest that the Pentagon was at fault and our military was at fault because we weren't prepared to shoot down an American airliner full of Americans just because it happened to be in the wrong air corridor.

SCHIEFFER: Just speaking of increasing security, I'm told, just while you were talking, that David Martin our correspondent at the Pentagon, reports that we have begun to increase security around America's nuclear stockpile.

POWELL: I yield to David Martin who is an excellent reporter.

BORGER: Are you worried about biological and chemical retaliation?

POWELL: I think we have to be worried about any of these threats, chemical, biological, radiological. I think this is going to require a full court response on the part of the American government, the American people, state and local governments to prepare ourselves for whatever eventuality might be out there. You can't dismiss that possibility.

But at the same time, remember this was a fairly unsophisticated weapon when you think of it. The planning that went into it was very, very sophisticated. But they found a way to create a bomb using an airplane loaded with fuel.

SCHIEFFER: Let me go back, and I want to talk a little bit about Pakistan here, because that thought occurs to me that we have asked the Pakistani government to do certain things. There's no question that they have these Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan and that that government could well topple as a result of nothing more than the United States asking them to help on this. Joe Biden, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, says that that is simply a risk that we have to take.

But the other part that I think about and, I must say, worry about i that Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Are we running the risk here of having a government takeover in Pakistan that would be able to, as it were, have its finger on a nuclear button?

POWELL: We are very sensitive to that, and I know that President Musharraf is very sensitive to that. So in our conversations with the Pakistani government in the days and weeks ahead, we will be mindful that they have internal problems that they're dealing with.

But that was part of his calculation as he and his senior advisers and military leaders sat down and examined this earlier in the week. And they came to the judgment that even with the difficulty it might cause them internally, this was such a problem, such a crisis, and the need to show solidarity with America and to help America and to help the rest of the civilized world, that was so important that they were willing to take risks. And I complement them for that.

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