FTN FTN – 9/15/02

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BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face the Nation, Secretary of State Colin Powell, John McCain and John Kerry talk about Iraq.

The president made his case against Iraq at the U.N. last week, but how close are we now to war and what will we do if the U.N. declines to take action? The key questions for the secretary of state.

And what kind of support can the president expect from Congress? For that, we'll talk to Senator McCain and Senator Kerry.

Gloria Borger's here, and I'll have a final word on what we need to remember about 9/11. But first, Secretary of State Powell on Face the Nation.

And we begin this morning with the secretary of state.

Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for coming.

Looking at it from afar, it appears to me that this is a good week for the United States and the United Nations. I would like to get some specifics, so be as specific as you possibly can this morning.

We want Saddam Hussein to disarm. Will that be enough?

COLIN POWELL, Secretary of State: It remains to be seen. The various U.N. resolutions that were passed over the last 11 years talked about disarmament with respect to weapons of mass destruction, but it also talked about not abusing your minorities. It also talked about returning Kuwaiti prisoners and accounting prisoners, to include an American pilot who was lost in the early days of the Gulf War.

So the Security Council will just have to make a judgment as to whether or not he has complied with those resolutions. Right now, he's not complied with any of them.

And so, what we really want in this first instance is to see whether or not Saddam Hussein understands that the international community is unified on this issue. Will make a judgment, I'm quite confident, that he is in breach of all these resolutions. Will set forth action that he has to take.

And I hope, and this is the key part, that the U.N. will then say, "We're going to take action if he fails to take action." That's what we're looking for.

SCHIEFFER: So, will this resolution that you will ask the United Nations to pass, will it have a deadline for him to act?

POWELL: It will have a -- I hope it will have a deadline. It's a resolution one has to negotiate with the other members of the Security Council, but the U.S. position going in is that such a resolution should have a deadline, and not a long deadline, but a deadline that requires him to say he will act, and then act.

SCHIEFFER: In a matter of months? A matter of weeks?

POWELL: No, no. We're talking, we're talking a short time, a matter of weeks. I don't want to be more precise than that.

There's nothing for him to consider. It doesn't require any great deal of thought. I mean, there's no negotiation associated with this. He knows what he has to do. Those resolutions have been out there.

So I think what the United Nations Security Council should do in this resolution is to say, "Here is what is required of you. Let us know within X period of days, weeks, that you are prepared to comply." Period.

SCHIEFFER: All right. And...

POWELL: Then a new clock starts as to what happens after that.

SCHIEFFER: Do you want this resolution to say, "If you do not comply, we will use military force against you?"

POWELL: That is not the language the U.N. would use. They would use other language that says, use necessary means, or member states should feel free, or the U.N. will do something. And I'm not sure what that language might look like. That will be the difficult -- the difficult element in any such resolution.

That's why some nations have suggested let's have two resolutions, one resolution laying out the charges and requiring action and then, based on what the Iraqis do or do not do, you ask for a second resolution from the U.N.

We believe that it might be wise to get it all in the first resolution, but because this is a discussion with our friends, we're not ruling out any option at this point. We want to hear from others.

GLORIA BORGER, U.S. News & WorldReport: How quickly do you want the U.N. to act on a resolution?

POWELL: I want them to act rather quickly. The president gave his speech last Thursday. In his speech, he essentially changed the entire political dynamic, the political environment. At the beginning of the week, everybody was saying, "The United States is unilateral, they won't bring this to the Council." And then suddenly there's the president, and he said, "Here it is before the Council. You should feel more offended than the United States does over this series of violations and this intransigence over the last 11 years."

And so, we spent Friday talking to foreign ministers and heads of state.

They have now the weekend and the first couple of days of next week for them to do their deliberations, just as the Bush administration is known to have discussions within.

SCHIEFFER: So you think they'll start next week?


SCHIEFFER: You want them to start this week?

POWELL: My representative, our representative, Ambassador Negroponte, our permanent representative to the United Nations, is ready to engage with the other members of the Security Council, beginning with the permanent members of the Security Council, later this coming week, and we'll see how rapidly that process goes.

BORGER: Well, let's talk about the permanent members. Russia, will they be on board?

POWELL: Russia has clearly indicated that they have the same concerns we do. They also believe Iraq is in violation.

They want to avoid a conflict. We will see how much they will want to avoid a conflict by putting a strong, tough demand on the Iraqis and then doing everything they can with their political and diplomatic influence with the Iraqis to get them to change their behavior of the last 12 years.

But I am not, today, going to speak for any other country's actions. They'll have to decide how much they're able to contribute to this resolution and how far they'll be able to go.

BORGER: The deputy prime minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz, has said that they're only going to let weapons inspectors come back in under an agreement that says that the United States is not going to attack and that the sanctions would be lifted. How do you respond to that?

POWELL: I don't respond to Tariq Aziz anymore, because just last week he said "No inspectors under any set of circumstances." So he talks out of both sides of his mouth four times a day. And there is no point in following his day-to-day utterances.

The question is, is Iraq going to make a choice, a strategic decision on their part, that they are going to cooperate with the U.N. in the sense that they have to accept whatever the U.N. tells them is required, whether it's "Let us know what you have in the form of a declaration," as they should have done back in 1991, or whether it's inspectors.

These are almost secondary issues to the basic issue of, is Iraq going to behave differently and act differently in a way that we have confidence that the will of the international community will be respected and obeyed?

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary, if you were asking the United Nations to pass a resolution to go after Osama bin Laden, I think there would be unanimous support to do that. I think there would be unanimous support in the United States.

But I think a lot of people still want to know, what is the link between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein? Some people would say, Brent Scowcroft among them, that in fact Osama bin Laden may have Saddam Hussein on his hit list, because he is, after all, he's not a religious leader and so on.

What's the connection?

POWELL: We have been examining all connections that may exist. There are some indications that there were contacts between the Iraqi regime and some Al Qaida members. There is no smoking gun that would link the regime in Baghdad to 9/11, but we can't dismiss it as a possibility entirely. So we're constantly looking for it.

The real offense and the reason we have taken this case to the U.N. is not the terrorism angle, although that is also part of the resolutions, as it is the weapons of mass destruction and the other elements of the resolutions with respect to how he treats his minorities, how he deals with human rights issues, the return of prisoners, the return and accounting for prisoners that were lost and taken during the Gulf War.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for joining us now and bringing us this perspective.

We're going to get another perspective now, and that is the perspective from Capitol Hill. We're joined now by Senator John McCain.

Senator McCain, you've just listened to the secretary of state. You support this, but you, unlike many people in Washington, are saying if the United States has to go militarily into Iraq, you're not so sure it's going to be all that difficult to take down Saddam Hussein.

Why do you believe that?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-AZ: Well, I believe it because in 1991 there were some very well-informed strategists and tacticians who said that there would be thousands of body bags. I did not believe that at the time. It's clear that Saddam Hussein is much weaker than he was in 1991.

Look, we're going to send young men and women in harm's way and that's always a great danger, but I cannot believe that there is an Iraqi soldier who is going to be willing to die for Saddam Hussein, particularly since he will know that our objective is to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

SCHIEFFER: Do you think the United States will have to go in in overwhelming force, if we do go in?

MCCAIN: I've also advocated trying the opposition option from within and without -- the Kurds in the north, the Shi'ites in the South -- give them as much assistance as possible. But we may have to go in, but I don't believe -- by the way, it's awfully easy for me, as an armchair general, to devise these strategies. But the fact is, I think we could go in with much smaller numbers than we had to do in the past.

But any military man worth his salt is going to have to prepare for any contingency, but I don't believe it's going to be nearly the size and scope that it was in 1991.

BORGER: Senator McCain, when specifically do you want a congressional vote on the authorization of the use of force?

MCCAIN: Optimally, I believe we should have it before we go out of session, which I think is the first or second week in October. I think it would help the president in his dealings with the United Nations, with our allies to have a strong expression of approval and support from the Congress of the United States

And we know what's at stake here. We will have the hearings in the Armed Services Committee under Senator Levin and Senator Warner, Senator Biden and Senator Lugar in the Foreign Relations Committee. We'll have those hearings and debate. And I think we could repeat what a lot of people feel was one of the Senate's better moments, and that was the debate that took place on the floor of the Senate in 1991.

BORGER: So am I hearing you say that you would like a congressional vote before the U.N. Security Council votes?

MCCAIN: Ideally, I would kind of like to see it afterwards, but I don't -- I think it can help in our dealings with the Security Council if it's necessary to do it before then.

Everybody knows now that Saddam Hussein is highly unlikely to allow the weapons inspectors back in in a meaningful way. And so there's a certain inevitability of events here. And so I think that the American people need to know how their elected representatives stand on this very critical issue of war and peace.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, let me ask you just what I just asked the secretary of state.


SCHIEFFER: What, if any, is the connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden?

And do you feel -- what do you feel is the most direct threat that he poses?

Is it that, as he is able to manufacture these weapons of mass destruction and basically act as a wholesaler for these terrorist groups around the world that would be the retailers, or do you think he is planning some sort of an attack on the United States?

MCCAIN: I think it's primarily that he is developing these weapons and has shown a proclivity to use weapons of mass destruction against his enemies, against his own people, and we know who his number-one enemy is. He has also in the past funded, as well as assisted, other terrorist groups.

I don't know, Bob. I doubt seriously if there's this close relationship between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein. But, look, if this guy were simply a survivalist, long ago he would have said, "OK, come on in, you can have your inspections, I'll destroy my weapons of mass destruction." He could have remained in power.

But he's not that. He's invaded neighboring countries. He is hell-bent on acquiring these weapons of mass destruction in the view of any expert.

And, by the way, our intelligence has consistently not been accurate. Not in 1981, when the Iraqis bombed the reactor; not in 1991, when we were astonished at the degree of development that he had achieved in developing weapons of mass destruction, the stage of successes he had reached in that area. And so I don't know where he is in the stage of development, but there's very little doubt in my mind that he would use it.

SCHIEFFER: And you see him as a direct threat to the United States?

MCCAIN: Yes, I do, over time. And every -- look, again, why would he continue the development of these weapons if he didn't want to use them, when he could easily stay in power, regrettably, in some respects, if he just had complied with the U.N. resolutions and agreements he entered into in 1991?

SCHIEFFER: all right. John McCain, thank you so much, Senator.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: When we come back, we'll get a Democratic perspective from Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, when we come back.


SCHIEFFER: And to get the perspective from the other side of the aisle now, we go to Boston, Massachussets, Senator John Kerry.


BORGER: Senator Kerry, you heard what Senator McCain said about a congressional vote, perhaps the first or second week in October. Do you agree with that time table?

SEN. JOHN KERRY, D-MA: I think so. I think it should be on a short leash. I think we need to be clear to the United Nations that this is not something that can drag out.

But I think we have to recognize that what happened last week was a victory for those of us who have argued all along that you have to try to build the multilateral effort, even if it fails, even if you can't build it. You have to exhaust the possibilities here so that you have a legitimacy in your actions. And I am glad, all of us are, that the president made a forceful statement that reaches for that legitimacy.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, we were seeing before last week and before the president spoke a lot of Democrats saying that if we vote on this, we ought to put it off until after the election, because it would sort of remove the politics from it.

But I sense a shift in the Democratic position. I see now that Senator Daschle, for example, is saying he is ready to go to work now with the White House and with the Republicans in working out the language of the resolution.

KERRY: Bob, I think that what Senator Daschle and all of us are in favor of is putting before the Congress something that could get 100-to-nothing vote, something that says to the United Nations, look, we are really serious about this and we're all behind the effort to try to seek a consensus on dealing with Saddam Hussein.

That is not to say that we should necessarily put the final measures -- i.e., use of force or, you know, authorization to go to war -- before the United Nations has acted. I think it's a slap in the face, it's almost a contradictory move to, on the one hand, go to the United Nations, say we want you to act multilaterally, and then come back and do as the president did the other day and says he doesn't see how anybody can run for election saying wait on another body. I mean, that's completely contradictory.

We should go to the United Nations. We should do it in a short span of time.

We should really be serious and honest about our approach to the United Nations, so that we can bring those countries into this effort, because that's the way the United States of America is going to be stronger and that's the way our national security interest is protected.

SCHIEFFER: Let me just make sure that I understand exactly what you're saying, because what you seem to be saying here is that you would like to see Congress pass a resolution authorizing the United States to participate with other U.N. members in doing what is necessary to call Saddam Hussein to disarm, and that could include military action. But you're not saying the resolution should say, if you don't act, we're going to act anyway. Is that basically...

KERRY: Well, I think that's going to be implicit in anything that we do at this point in time, Bob. But I think if you want to have 100-to-nothing vote, if you want to have a vote that shows the American people are united in their concern about weapons of mass destruction and in their desire to have the world, the world, act in an appropriate way, then I think you try to approach it in order to build the greatest base of support.

The vote on use of force will come, depending on what Saddam Hussein does.

This is in his -- you know, this is his decision. He can decide.

And I think one of the things I want to emphasize here, Bob, in 1998 I stood up along with Senator Hagel and others, and we were very clear in our criticism of the expulsion of Ambassador Butler and the inspection team. And I said back in 1998, "We need to hold Saddam Hussein accountable. We need to use force if necessary to do that." So this is not a new position that many of us are moving to.

I believe that the administration, in fact, has waited almost too long to begin to focus on the issue of proliferation and to begin to enforce it. And now that they've done it in the month before elections, they've put this into a political context that becomes dangerous for their own goals.

I want the same thing the president of the United States wants. I want Saddam Hussein held accountable. But I want it done in a way that builds the maximum amount of support in our country and particularly, hopefully, brings other nations to the effort.

BORGER: So you are saying, Senator, two separate votes here?

KERRY: I think if you have to have any vote, the first vote would be to impress on the United Nations that all of the Congress wants them involved and, if necessary, give us the license to make choices afterwards.

If you're really making a decision about invading or going to war, there still are unanswered questions that the president himself has not put before us.

For instance, Condoleezza Rice last Sunday said on national television and again talking with us on the Hill this week, that the president himself hasn't decided what he's going to do.

There are major questions of intelligence assessments. There are questions of who is going to be there and how much will it cost in the post effort.

I think -- look, I'm, I am absolutely prepared to hold Saddam Hussein accountable, as are most of my colleagues, I believe, maybe all of them. But we want to do this in a thoughtful, intelligent way that begins to address to the country many of the concerns people have. And I think that's what we're asking for. Sometimes process is important. And going to war, I think you want to build the maximum amount of legitimacy.

I think we will do it and can do it and I have great agreement with John McCain about the capacity of the United States to do this, but let's do in the a way that maximizes our ability to be successful and minimizes the misunderstandings, the dissent and confrontation here at home.

BORGER: How likely right now do you think that this is going to be resolved without the use of military force?

KERRY: That depends on Saddam Hussein. I mean, the ball -- look, one of the reasons that I think it is important for all of us to join together here is that this man has proven himself a master of miscalculation.

And he is even miscalculating right now. It is his miscalculation that poses the greatest danger here. I would disagree with John McCain that it's the actual weapons of mass destruction he may use against us; it's what he may do in another invasion of Kuwait or in a miscalculation about the Kurds or a miscalculation about Iran, or particularly Israel. Those are the things that I think present the greatest danger.

He may even miscalculate and slide these weapons off to terrorist groups to invite them to be a surrogate to use them against the United States. It's the miscalculation that poses the greatest threat.

But I also think, and this is another very -- you haven't heard this, I think, in the course of the last week. We cannot allow this discussion of Iraq to hide the original purpose of our mobilization, which is Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida. And we particularly cannot allow it to shift off of the debate in this country a huge number of unattended issues. Our economy is hurting badly.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

KERRY: We have people losing work, we have health care, education. We need to keep those issues on the table at the same time.

SCHIEFFER: Senator, thank you so much. I'm sorry, we have to end it there.

Back with a final word in just a minute.


SCHIEFFER: Finally today, last week was a time to look back, this week we begin to look forward. Last week we remembered the innocent who died on 9/11 and the heroic acts of so Americans in the days and months after the attack. Now we begin to look forward and contemplate the next steps in the war on terrorism.

And as we do, what continues to nag me is the realization that, one year after that attack, we still don't know for sure why these people did what they did. All we know is that they hate us.

Hitler was trying to rule the world; at least we knew that. What were these people hoping to accomplish? We can't really say.

Which is why resolving this is going to take a while, and where it leads, whether there is a connection to Saddam Hussein, we do not yet know.

But as we saw in the scenes of 9/11 replayed, we understood these are questions that must be answered and that this must be dealt with, because the one thing we know for certain is what they did.

I heard some say there was too much coverage, but I believe we needed to look back. We can never put 9/11 behind us and move on. We can never let the passing of time soften the memory of those scenes. They must remain vivid and be the driving force behind our resolve to see justice is done.

That won't be easy, but we must remember that the attacks did not weaken us; they made us stronger. Our system of government remains the model for the rest of the world. We took a heavy blow, but we're winning this war, and we shall continue to win if we just remember what they did.

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