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Colin Powell Interviews - Fox News, CNN & CBS

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release October 21, 2001


Secretary Of State Colin L. Powell On Fox News Sunday with Tony Snow

October 21, 2001 (Aired 9:15 a.m. EDT)

MR. SNOW: Now joining us from Shanghai, China, Secretary of State Colin Powell. Secretary Powell, the President has been meeting with Asian leaders this week, especially talking with China about possible cooperation in Operation Enduring Freedom. Can China help us with intelligence?

SECRETARY POWELL: We hope so, and we had good conversations with the Chinese leadership. And the President, in his first meeting with the president of China, I think hit it off very well. A good relation was formed.

And I think that in the weeks and months ahead we can look at intelligence cooperation, financial activities -- all sorts of things. The Chinese were supportive, and we are very pleased with their support, as well as the joint statement that was provided by the APEC leaders coming down strongly on the side of the coalition against terrorism.

MR. SNOW: You mentioned financial activities. Do we suspect that al- Qaida has been doing some banking operations through China?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't have any knowledge of that, but I am sure that our intelligence agencies, if they do have information of that kind, will make it available to the Chinese. And the level of cooperation that I have seen from them so far in my conversations with Foreign Minister Teng and in the President's conversations with President Jiang Zemin, I think they would be responsive.

MR. SNOW: There is some ongoing debate here in the States, you are well aware of, that some people think that we are spending more time maintaining a coalition than running a war. Can we work with the coalition? Is the coalition ready now to say to the United States, "Okay, go ahead, do what you need to do to bring down the Taliban," if that's what it requires?

SECRETARY POWELL: Nothing in the coalition, no aspect of the coalition, keeps the American President from doing what he feels he has to do to go after al-Qaida and to deal with the Taliban. But his efforts are so magnified by the presence of a coalition. This is a coalition that came together to go after this common enemy, terrorism. And the suggestion that somehow the coalition keeps us from doing what we want to do is just absolutely wrong.

Quite the contrary. Without this coalition, we wouldn't be able to do what we are doing. We wouldn't be getting the support from the Central Asian nations. We wouldn't be getting the support from the United Nations, the United Kingdom. Everybody has come together for this common goal. And so "coalition," in this sense, is a good word, and to suggest that somehow it is in competition with what the President wants to do is simply a misreading of reality.

MR. SNOW: We want the Northern Alliance to be part of a coalition government within Afghanistan; we do not want them to be the dominant partner, correct?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think that's a fair statement. They are a minority group, and I think if we want a stable Afghanistan, all parts of Afghan society and the Afghan political spectrum have to be represented, and the Northern Alliance would have to be represented. It would be an important part of that new government. But at about 15 percent of the population, I don't even think they think that they are in a position at this time to be the dominant figure. They would certainly be an important part of the post-Taliban government.

MR. SNOW: The Pashtun are the largest ethnic group in the country. Also, they have close ties with Pakistan. Can Pakistan help us persuade the Pashtun to play a more active role in trying to form a post-Taliban coalition?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think they can, and I think the Pakistanis are being helpful now. I had good conversations with President Musharraf, and he understands now that the Taliban -- its days are numbered, and we have to start looking toward the future. And we talked about that. And as you know, Ambassador Richard Haass on my staff is now working with the United Nations and other nations who have an interest in this to see what kind of an arrangement can and should be worked out to deal with the post-Taliban era.

MR. SNOW: There are reports that the United Nations may request a cessation of bombing right now because it is hampering humanitarian efforts within Afghanistan. If the United Nations were to make that request, what would the American reply be?

SECRETARY POWELL: I am not aware of any such request, and we have been conducting our military campaign in a way that it would not interfere with humanitarian efforts. We are constantly reviewing this. And as you know, our airplanes are providing humanitarian air drops and we are working hard to get truck convoys in because that's how you get the heavy tonnages in. And we are trying to do it and, at the same time, conduct a military operation.

So we do not have such a request. The reports are mixed as to how much food is getting in, and when I get back to Washington this is one of the first things I'll be looking at. Because this war is not against the Afghan people. We have to prepare them for the winter that is just a few weeks away, and we will be making every effort to do that.

MR. SNOW: As winter approaches, is it important for us to achieve such strategic goals as taking Kabul, or even Kandahar, before the onset of winter?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think it would be in our interest and the interest of the coalition to see this matter resolved before winter strikes and it makes our operations that much more difficult. The actual seizure of land and which cities might be the right ones to cause that to come about, I'm not sure. But certainly the Northern Alliance is on the march in the north toward Mazer-e-Sharif, and I think they are gathering their strength to at least invest Kabul or start moving on Kabul more aggressively.

MR. SNOW: There has been talk also of ceasing operations or slowing them down during the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan. Good idea, bad idea?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we have to be respectful of that very, very significant religious period, but, at the same time, we also have to make sure we pursue our campaign. So I will yield to my Pentagon colleagues as to what might be required if we are still in this kind of a military campaign mode when Ramadan approaches in the middle of November.

MR. SNOW: You are a military man. It sounds to me like what you are saying, even though you are now Secretary of State, from a military point of view, you can't really cease hostilities at that point.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think it depends. It depends on what more has to be done, what the military operation looks like at that point. So I don't want to speculate on what we might be ready to do at the middle of November. And it's best that I remember that I am Secretary of State and no longer wearing the uniform, and not speculate on what my military colleagues are thinking or what Don Rumsfeld is thinking over in the Pentagon.

MR. SNOW: Senator John McCain is saying he is a little unhappy right now with the roles of Egypt and Saudi Arabia. He says they are playing both ends of it. On the one hand, they permit mullahs and Islamic Muslim speakers to issue anti-American diatribes weekly; on the other hand, they say from time to time, "No, no, no, we're really with you."

Is it important for the United States to say to both of those nations, especially on the propaganda front -- that is, the kinds of discourse they're permitting -- to say, "You need to be with us"?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, they are with us. I mean, both Egypt and Saudi Arabia have responded to every request we have made of them. Saudi Arabia was especially helpful just a few days ago when they held the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and 56 Islamic nations came to the support of the coalition by condemning terrorism. And Saudi Arabia played an important role in achieving that outcome. So they are being responsive.

At the same time, they do have public opinions. They have people within those two countries who are not happy with what we are doing. And I think it's a little odd for us to say to them, "You have to muzzle dissent, you have to muzzle those who are speaking out against us." I think if we want them to be the kind of nations and lands that we preach about, we have to expect that if there is another point of view within that country that differs from the official point of view of the government, you have to give it the opportunity to be expressed.

MR. SNOW: Secretary Powell, the President met with his Russian counterpart today. Is American policy on the ABM Treaty unchanged, which is to say that we are prepared within the next six months to begin testing technologies that may, in fact, require us to abrogate the Treaty?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think that is yet American policy, Tony. What the President has said all along, and what he said again to President Putin this evening, was that the ABM Treaty is a relic of the past; we need to move beyond it.

I was pleased that President Putin responded that we are in a new era, and there are some new ideas on the table, there are some new parameters we should be looking at. And Foreign Minister Ivanov and I, and Donald Rumsfeld and his counterpart, Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov, will be working hard in the weeks ahead approaching Crawford when President Putin visits with President Bush again, and beyond Crawford to see how we can move forward.

President Bush has made it clear, however, that in due course, if we aren't able to get an agreement that will allow us to move forward in a new framework, he is prepared to unilaterally withdraw from the Treaty because he is determined to move forward with missile defenses. And he has said that to President Putin from the first day they met.

MR. SNOW: Secretary of State Colin Powell, thanks for joining us.

SECRETARY POWELL: You're welcome, Tony.


U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release October 21, 2001


Secretary Of State Colin L. Powell On CBS's Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer

October 21, 2001 (Aired 10:35 a.m. EDT)

MR. SCHIEFFER: And we begin now with the Secretary of State, who joins us from Shanghai. Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for coming.


MR. SCHIEFFER: American ground troops went into Afghanistan yesterday. The Pentagon says it was a successful mission, but this morning, as perhaps might be expected, the Taliban says that the Americans were repelled. They say there were American casualties, and they say they are ready now to just wait it out in the caves.

Can you give us an assessment of what the United States Government feels about this yesterday?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, my understanding of the mission, that it was highly successful, both strikes, both missions that went in, and I'm very proud of those brave young soldiers who performed the mission. And my understanding, from everything I've heard and seen from the Pentagon briefings, is that, except for a few minor injuries among the paratroopers and the tragic helicopter accident that was not directly related to the operation, all of our troops recovered safely, and the Taliban is lying.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Can you tell me exactly what the objective was yesterday, Mr. Secretary?

SECRETARY POWELL: Bob, I think it's better you get the straight answer from the Pentagon; but just so I don't duck it entirely, I think they were looking at a compound where some information might have been available. And I believe they did come back with some documents and other items that might be useful, and they were scouting another facility. But I'll stop there and let the Pentagon deal with that one.

MR. SCHIEFFER: There are reports this morning that the President has signed an executive order that has "told the CIA to basically destroy Usama bin Laden and al-Qaida." What does that mean exactly? Some here say that means that the gloves are off.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I believe what I read in the paper this morning was that he has signed what is called a finding, and those involve very, very sensitive operations. And I hope you'll forgive me, but I never talk about findings of that nature.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Does intensifying this campaign, Mr. Secretary, increase the threat of terrorism in this country? Because many people are worried that perhaps it will.

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I think we are facing terrorism with or without this campaign, unfortunately. I think that war has been declared upon us by the al-Qaida organization, and we have no choice but to fight that war with the kind of campaign that the President has put together. Military, intelligence, financial, law enforcement, securing our borders, protecting our citizens -- all of these things will be necessary. I am sure they will try to respond. I am sure they will come at us in other ways, and there may be other terrorist organizations that will come at us.

So this is a time for us to be cautious, to protect ourselves, but to not be afraid, not become chickens. We know how to fight these kinds of conflicts. We've got a backbone of steel in our country, and we'll be just fine if Americans just remember who we are and keep the spirit up and keep driving on with our lives.

MR. SCHIEFFER: You said, "other terrorist organizations." Elaborate on that, if you can.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, there are other terrorist organizations. I don't want to name any particular one, but there are other terrorist organizations that don't mean us well. And, frankly, we have homegrown terrorists, as we have seen so vividly in Oklahoma City, for example.

So we have to be on guard in this new era where we have rogue groups, where we have fanatics, where we have evil people, as the President likes to say, who might come after us in these asymmetric ways where they can cause a great deal of damage, a great loss of life, as we have seen, and where they are creative. And so we have to keep an eye on all of them, and that is why the President said that this is a campaign not just against al-Qaida, but against all terrorism throughout the world, all terrorism that could threaten us, threaten our interests or threaten our friends.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary, do you see, at this point, any connection between the situations involving this anthrax that keeps popping up at different places? And yesterday another smudge of it, if that's what you want to call it, showed up at the US Capitol. Is there a connection between that and Usama bin Laden?

SECRETARY POWELL: There may be, but I don't know, Bob. I think our intelligence, law enforcement, law enforcement agencies, are hard at work trying to get to the bottom of this, the source of the anthrax, how it's being distributed, the persons responsible, and what linkages may exist with terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida.

I am quite sure that if al-Qaida did have access to this kind of material -- and I am sure they are also working on it -- that they would use it if they could. They are coming after us. They are evil people. They believe in no faith. They have adherence to no religion. They are evil and they have to be seen as criminals and murderers and terrorists.

And I am sure that our agencies are working as hard as they can to find out the source of the anthrax material we have been receiving and how it's coming at us, how it's being distributed and by whom.

MR. SCHIEFFER: The nations that are meeting there in Shanghai -- the reason that you and the President went there -- the nations that are meeting there put out a very strong statement denouncing terrorism, but I notice that it does not endorse the US military action into Afghanistan, nor does it name Usama bin Laden as the person behind all of this.

Should we read some significance into that?

SECRETARY POWELL: I wouldn't read any significance in it. When I saw a press reporting earlier today that sort of pointed that out, it kind of surprised me because we didn't ask for that. At least nobody in my delegation asked for that kind of reference in the joint statement.

We were looking for a strong joint statement that came down squarely against terrorism; put APEC, the groups that's here, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, put that strongly on record against terrorism, and, in fact, join the coalition in support of the United States goal of ridding this part of the world of the al-Qaida organization, ridding every cell of the al-Qaida organization, no matter where it is in the world, getting rid of it and going after terrorism in general. So I think we should applaud this very powerful statement from this very powerful organization.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary, I am sure you are aware of a report that was in the New Yorker this week, written by Seymour Hersh, who says that on the first night of this military operation into Afghanistan, one of the American drone reconnaissance planes -- and it was an armed plane -- got Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, in its sights. The information went back up the chain of command, and the commanding general finally said that there would not be -- he ordered the drone not to fire on Mullah Omar because, as we are told in this report, his judge advocate general, had a problem with it.

In other words, the general apparently went to his lawyer, and his lawyer said, well, there may be some problems, so don't fire. Could that possibly be true?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know. I read the story. I have no idea of whether it's true or not, and I think I'll have to refer you to the Pentagon for whatever answer they may choose to make of Mr. Hersh's story.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Well, I mean, are we in a situation -- everybody says this is going to be a long and difficult fight. But are we in a position now where generals have to check with their lawyer before they can order people on the ground to fire on the enemy?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, first of all, without saying a word about this story, let me just say that we conduct military operations in accordance with accepted rules of land warfare; and for that reason, you make sure you have lawyers around. And we had them during Desert Storm. But I have no idea, none whatsoever, as to whether that is what happened in this instance, as reported in the New Yorker, and I really do have to refer you to the Pentagon for that.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Any final word, Mr. Secretary, this morning? Do you have a message for Usama bin Laden?

SECRETARY POWELL: The message I have for Usama bin Laden is that he can not hide behind a faith in which he does not believe because, if he believed in it, he would not be doing what he does; and that the coalition is coming after him, and we will find his money, we will find ways to get into his networks through our intelligence and law enforcement work; and the armed forces of the United States and other armed forces that will be working with us and are working with us now, such as the United Kingdom, will not lose faith in their ability to bring this to a successful conclusion, and to rip up the al-Qaida network and to bring Usama bin Laden to justice.

MR. SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary, thank you so much.



U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release October 21, 2001


Secretary Of State Colin L. Powell On CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer

October 21, 2001 (Aired 12:15 p.m. EDT)

MR. BLITZER: Mr. Secretary, thanks for joining us, and let's get right to the issue at hand. This is now entering week three of the US-led military campaign, a new phase over the weekend, ground troops, special operations forces. The American public is asking: How much longer is this going to take?

SECRETARY POWELL: Until the mission is accomplished. I think the President has made it clear from the start, and Secretary Rumsfeld has made it clear from the start, that we shouldn't be expecting this to be over immediately; that it is a difficult campaign going after entrenched individuals, and we'll stick with it until the mission has been accomplished.

There are some constraints that are coming in front of us, in the form of winter arriving in about a month, which might change the tempo of our operations. But we also are noticing that the Northern Alliance, which we are supporting, has become more aggressive in their actions up north and moving toward Kabul in the very near future. And so let's hope the campaign comes to an end soon, but the most important thing to remember is we will pursue it until our mission has been accomplished.

MR. BLITZER: Are you encouraging the Northern Alliance forces, the anti-Taliban forces in the north, to go in and take Kabul?

SECRETARY POWELL: It's a subject of discussion. We are very interested in seeing them take the town in the north, Mazer-e-Sharif, and I am quite confident that they want to at least invest Kabul. Whether they actually go into Kabul or not or whether that's the best thing to do or not, remains to be seen. It is an issue that is under continuing discussion.

MR. BLITZER: That is because the Pakistanis are nervous about the Northern Alliance, with which they don't have a good relationship, taking the lead in overthrowing the Taliban regime?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, there are others who wonder whether or not it would be the best thing for a group, however effective it might be, that really only represents 15 percent or thereabouts of the overall population actually going into the capital. Would that just crystallize opposition elsewhere? Even the Northern Alliance recognizes this problem, and they have been rather candid in discussing it with us as to whether it makes the best sense or not for them to go into the city.

MR. BLITZER: There were suggestions, some say, that you were saying that earlier in the week that perhaps so-called moderate elements of the Taliban could be part of some new regime that could replace the current Taliban regime. Are there moderate elements of the Taliban?

SECRETARY POWELL: I'm not sure that's quite what I said, but I would have to check my transcript. I was with President Musharraf of Pakistan, who did talk about moderate elements of the Taliban. My position and the United States position is rather clear: There is no place for any element of current Taliban leadership in a new Afghanistan.

But at the same time, there are many people within the Taliban movement in a leadership position who have not been active and who may well want to become part of a new Afghanistan. And unless you are planning to ethnically cleanse them all or ship them off to other countries, they are going to be there and they will have to be accommodated in what we hope will be a new arrangement that represents all of the people of Afghanistan. But there can be no place in a new regime for the current leaders of the Taliban regime.

MR. BLITZER: Will the beginning of Ramadan, the Muslim Holy Month, in mid-November -- you were talking earlier about constraints on the US military, like winter beginning. Will Ramadan be a factor as well?

SECRETARY POWELL: We will have to see as we get closer to Ramadan. It is a very important religious period, and we will take that into account. We will have to see where the mission is at that point and what needs to be done. And I would yield to my colleagues in the Pentagon as to what we will do as we approach the season of Ramadan.

MR. BLITZER: Clarify for us, if you will, what the US military mission is as far as Usama bin Laden is concerned. Is the US military authorized to go ahead and kill him if they spot him?

SECRETARY POWELL: Our mission is to bring him to justice or bring justice to him, as the President said.

MR. BLITZER: Does that mean the President would go ahead and authorize the kind of, I guess what some would call assassination or targeted killing of Usama bin Laden?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I am not going to speculate on what the President might or might not authorize, but I think it is quite clear that we are anxious to see Usama bin Laden brought to justice or justice brought to him.

MR. BLITZER: Some have criticized your administration on the Hill, some pro-Israeli senators, many in Israel, for having a so-called double standard, criticizing the Israelis for their policy of so-called targeted killings of suspected terrorists, but the US, in effect, now going about doing the same thing.

SECRETARY POWELL: What we are trying to do is to bring people to justice. We understand that the difficult situation in the Middle East and in Israel and in Gaza and the West Bank have created a great deal of turmoil, especially in recent weeks. And the United States position over a long period of time has been to point out that targeted assassinations of the kind that we have seen there is not in the best interest of trying to find a way to move forward with the peace process. And so it has been a continuing discussion with the Israelis and we will continue to discuss it with them.

Right now, I am just anxious to see the violence go back down again, hopefully to zero, and to see if we can not get back to where we were a week or so ago when we began to see a little progress toward the Mitchell plan before we had the terrible terrorist attack which killed a cabinet minister, an Israeli cabinet minister, and got things all off course again. So I am hoping we can bring the violence down.

Hopefully the Israelis will be able to leave the territory that they have occupied recently. I talked to Prime Minister Sharon this morning and he said he did not plan to stay in those areas. And I hope they will finish what they are doing, remove themselves as quickly as they can, so that we can get back to a process that hopefully will lead to a cease-fire -- elimination of violence is our goal, although it's a hard goal to achieve -- and then get into the Mitchell plan and the confidence-building measures, and ultimately get back to negotiations, negotiations that will be on the basis of UN Resolutions 242 and 338 so we can find a way for these two peoples to live in peace together.

MR. BLITZER: Some here in Washington -- the former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, some Members of the Congress -- are pointing a finger at Iraq in looking at the anthrax-laced letter attacks here in the United States. Do you suspect Iraq, because of its supply of its known quantity of anthrax that it does have, may be involved in this?

SECRETARY POWELL: I just don't know. I think we have had a lot of stories over the past four or five days. First it was weaponized anthrax, then it was highly refined, and then when it was analyzed it was discovered it was none of the above, but it was fairly high quality. So rather than speculate as to what kind of anthrax it was and what the possible sources of such anthrax could be, I think I will just leave that in the hands of the very qualified people -- the FBI, the Center for Disease Control and the Army's laboratories at Fort Detrick, Maryland -- and let them figure that out.

Once we know exactly what we're dealing with, then you are in a position to make an informed judgment with respect to where it might have come from. I don't put it past Iraq. We know they have been working on this kind of terror weapon, and we keep a very close eye on them. And as the President has said, it is in the first instance we are going after al-Qaida and Usama bin Laden, and that is the principal focus of our attention; but we recognize there are other regimes that give haven and harbor to terrorist activity, and we will turn our attention to them in due course.

MR. BLITZER: But your primary suspect in the anthrax attacks would be Usama bin Laden and the al-Qaida organization; is that what you are suggesting?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, I didn't come anywhere near suggesting that. What I am saying is I don't know, and I am not sure our law enforcement officials yet know, who the primary suspect is. I think that investigation, that analysis, is still ongoing, and it is premature to make any judgments yet because we don't know.

I think, frankly, with too much speculation and wild rumors flying all over the place, it would be wise for all of us to take a deep breath and let our investigative agencies figure this out before we go rushing in front of television sets to present these rumors and to present this speculation and get the country all excited.

MR. BLITZER: On that note, I want to thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. Have a safe trip back to the United States.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Wolf.


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