Powell IVs CNN's Late Edition & Face The Nation
Powell IVs CNN's Late Edition, CBS’s Face The Nation
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman For Immediate Release
December 2, 2001
Interview of Secretary Of State
Colin L. Powell
on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer
December 2, 2001 Washington, D.C.
12:07 p.m. EST
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for joining us. I know this is a hectic morning for you.
The Palestinian Authority has just issued a statement in the name of Yasser Arafat, saying that any faction, coalition or party within the Palestinian community that does not respect the decision of the Palestinian leadership will be considered beyond the law, especially those who claim responsibility for actions against Israeli civilians.
What do you make of the reaction of the Palestinians so far?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, it's a good statement. Now we need to see action. Statements aren't enough any longer; words aren't enough any longer.
I spoke to Chairman Arafat last night, right after the first bombing in Jerusalem but before Haifa. And I made it clear to him that he had to act because not only was this a terrible attack against innocent Israelis, a terrible act of terror, but it was also an attack against him, it was an attack against his authority, it was an attack against the Palestinian leadership, and it was an attack that he could not overlook.
So he had to do it, not only because it was the right thing to do when you have this kind of murderous action, but he had to do it if he was going to remain in a position of authority and have authority over the Palestinian people and to perform his job as the leader of the Palestinian people. And this statement reflects his understanding of that position, and he responded to me in kind last night, saying that he understood that and that it was an attack against him and he expressed his condolences for the loss of Israeli life. But it was an attack against him; he was going to respond accordingly.
Words aren't enough; we now have to see action.
QUESTION: Well, when you say the United States wants action, specifically what do you want Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to do?
SECRETARY POWELL: One, find out who else is responsible, besides those who killed themselves, for these attacks last night. Bring them to justice, arrest them and keep them in jail, not just arrest them and then they are disappeared and back in the street in a few days' time.
But, more than that, he has to go after future perpetrators. He has to go after these organizations that are training and preparing these suicide bombers and preparing for further future acts of violence. This is what he has to do. And he has to go after these organizations that are taking credit for these kinds of actions.
And as he said in his statement, he is going after those who are outside or beyond the law. He is absolutely right. You cannot have a legitimate authority, such as the Palestinian Authority, where you have people answerable to that authority acting outside any reasonable standards of law, any reasonable standards of civilized behavior.
QUESTION: So you want him to shut down specifically Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think he should shut down and go after all those organizations as he has said that may be acting beyond his authority and the law that they have created within the Palestinian Authority. He has to go after them.
QUESTION: But which organizations are you specifically referring to?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I am referring to those responsible for these actions and those that take credit for these actions. Hamas is one. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad is another. He has to deal with these organizations.
QUESTION: Well, the Israelis say that even Arafat's own Fatah faction has been responsible for terrorist actions against --
SECRETARY POWELL: If there is evidence of a kind that is described by the Israeli side, I think he has to act on it. I think it is time for him to act. It is a moment of truth for him.
The United States is willing to help. We put down a comprehensive statement of the United States' position. We sent General Zinni, a retired Marine, to go over there to help the two sides start to move forward toward a cease-fire. Until you get this violence down, down preferably to zero, but until you get it down, you don't have a basis of confidence for the two sides to get into a cease-fire and start the confidence-building measures of the Mitchell plan and get the negotiations.
At the end of the day, we must see negotiations or else this problem will never be solved. But you won't get to those negotiations as long as you have people who are willing to commit acts of terror to keep you from getting into the Mitchell plan, who don't want to see negotiations, who are just interested in terror and violence. And that's what has to be brought --
QUESTION: As you know, the Israelis want the Palestinians to arrest hundreds, if not thousands, of what they claim who are terrorists who have been on the loose in the West Bank and Gaza. Is that what the US wants as well?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know what the numbers are, and if it's hundreds of thousands. I think the Palestinians have to do a much better job of finding those who are planning acts of terror. And to the extent that the Israelis can provide information to the Palestinians or the Palestinians can generate that information themselves, they've got to act on that information and not just receive it and sort of look at the list. They've got to go after people who are known terrorists who are known to be planning such acts. That's the demand that the Israelis have put down, and according to what Mr. Arafat said this morning, he is making the same demand on his own people, that these kinds of individuals who are acting beyond the law, have to be brought within the law, and that means arresting those who are planning such activities.
QUESTION: The Israelis are under -- the Israeli Government is under enormous pressure right now to respond. It may be too late. What are you specifically asking the Israeli Government to do in delaying some sort of retaliation?
SECRETARY POWELL: We haven't spoken to the Israeli Government. That will take place in the course of the morning. Prime Minister Sharon and the President will be getting together and we will hear from Mr. Sharon his assessment of the situation and I'm sure it will be a very difficult meeting but it's a meeting that we have to have.
Mr. Sharon is a freely elected leader of a democratic nation, and he will respond in a way that he thinks is appropriate. What we always say is, always consider what happens the day after and the day after that. Because, ultimately, we have to try to get to a situation where the two sides are talking about ending violence and you always have to consider the day after.
And what we see now with 14 months of Intifada and with a new leadership in Israel for the last nine or 10 months is that we have not yet begun to get the violence under control in a way that the two sides can move forward into a plan that is sitting there, waiting to be executed, that will lead us back to negotiations.
QUESTION: The former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out last night. I want you to listen to what he said, because it comes to the question of whether Yasser Arafat can control the Palestinians himself. Listen to this:
"Arafat is not using the power that he has, the 50,000 weapons that we have given him in the Oslo Agreement, to work against terrorists. He is not using a fraction, even one of those rifles, to go after these terrorists, and that's why they're roaming around free and doing what they're doing."
SECRETARY POWELL: I agree with Mr. Netanyahu to the extent that Mr. Arafat can be doing more, and I have spoken to him about this directly. He needs to use all of the authority that he has. He needs to use the security, intelligence, and other sources available to him to get after this problem.
QUESTION: But the Palestinians respond by saying that, as long as there is an Israeli occupation and settlements and Israeli soldiers using military force, there are going to be desperate actions by desperate people. I want you to listen to what the Palestinian representative here in Washington said about that:
"It is unfair to put the blame on Yasser Arafat and on the Authority alone without looking at what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians. The conditions that are created by Israel makes the Palestinian people very angry and very frustrated."
SECRETARY POWELL: I know that the Palestinian people are very angry and very frustrated. I know the conditions under which they are living are very difficult. There is 50 percent unemployment. I understand all of that.
But to understand all of that says, now we've got to act. And the United States has made it clear that the occupation is a problem, settlements are a problem. But we are not going to get to a solution by just trading charges and giving justifications for anger. There is no justification for using a car bomb against innocent children, young people out for a nice evening. There is no justification, no level of anger or frustration to -- can be used to justify that kind of act.
And so rather than just exchanging these arguments, what we need to do is sit down. And that is why we sent General Zinni over there with Assistant Secretary Burns, to get these people to sit down, security people to sit down and begin to take those steps that will lead us toward a cease-fire.
QUESTION: We have to take a quick break, but we will have much more of my interview with the Secretary of State Colin Powell, including his thoughts on the war in Afghanistan and the possibility that Iraq might become the next US target. Stay with us.
QUESTION: Welcome back to Late Edition. Now more of my interview with the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, on the latest terror attacks in Israel and the war in Afghanistan.
All right, let's move on and talk about the implications from all of this for the US war in Afghanistan, because there are enormous implications, depending on what happens next, how the Israelis react. One Cabinet member is suggesting they should simply expel Arafat from the West Bank and Gaza.
The coalition that you have assembled has a critically important role, and there are enormous implications, aren't there, from what happens between the Israelis and Palestinians and how the US engages in its own war against terrorism?
SECRETARY POWELL: We are all concerned about what's happening in the Middle East between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But at the same time, we're united in going after al-Qaida and Usama bin Laden and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and I don't sense that there is any fracturing of the coalition as a result of the events of the last 24 hours in the Middle East. So I think we can deal with this.
Right now in Afghanistan, we are making every effort to bring Usama bin Laden to justice or justice to him, to rip up the al-Qaida network in Afghanistan and in all the other countries that it resides in. It isn't going to be enough just to do it in Afghanistan. There are some 50 countries that we have to work on, and we're having success. More and more arrests are taking place. We are learning more and more about al-Qaida. And we also have to bring the Taliban regime to justice.
I am pleased that our operations are going well in Afghanistan. It is starting to slow down a little bit because the southern part of Afghanistan is a little tougher. But we will be successful. And I am also pleased that the political process is moving in Bonn to create a new provisional government that will reflect all of the Afghan people.
QUESTION: When do you believe the last remaining Taliban stronghold in Kandahar will fall?
SECRETARY POWELL: I can't. I'm not a fortune teller, but --
QUESTION: But is it days or weeks?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know. It is under enormous pressure. The Taliban is under enormous pressure in Kandahar. Some of the southern tribes are now rising up. And I think they are in great difficulty. But I can't tell you whether that battle will be over in days or weeks. But I think it is just a matter of time. I think it is ordained right now that the Taliban will fail throughout the country.
QUESTION: And Mullah Mohammed Omar, the leader of the Taliban, you assume he is still in the Kandahar area?
SECRETARY POWELL: I assume he is still in Afghanistan, and we expect and suspect he is in the Kandahar area.
QUESTION: What about Usama bin Laden? There were reports that he was up near Tora Bora in the northeastern part of Afghanistan near Jalalabad.
SECRETARY POWELL: We think he is still in Afghanistan, and that seems to be a likely location for him, and he is running out of places that he can be. But there are always reports of sightings and spottings, some of which may be accurate, some of which are not accurate.
QUESTION: You still would prefer to capture him dead rather than alive?
SECRETARY POWELL: We would prefer to bring him to justice or justice to him.
QUESTION: One or the other. All right, what about the talks in Bonn? There seemed to be a snag over the issue of a security force, a peacekeeping force. Where does the United States specifically stand on the issue of who should come in, if anyone, to try to make sure the situation in a post-Taliban era is stable?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, there are always snags in talks such as these. But I'm rather encouraged by what's happened in the last 24 hours. There seems to be an understanding among the parties in Bonn that they do have to come up with a provisional government that could go back to Kabul and set themselves up and begin the rebuilding process and receipt of humanitarian aid.
With respect to what kind of international peacekeeping force might go in, let's wait and see what the provisional government says. We also have to wait and see what our commander, General Tommy Franks, thinks is appropriate. And I am pleased that so many nations in the coalition have offered international peacekeeping forces at some point in the future when they are needed.
I don't think this will be a major role or hardly a role at all for the United States combat forces on the ground. We will always have some command and control and logistic responsibilities to help an international peacekeeping force go in, but I don't see US combat troops remaining in Afghanistan for the purpose of peacekeeping or nation building.
QUESTION: The Northern Alliance, which is aligned with the United States right now, the rebels who are in control of much of Afghanistan right now, they say that they have -- they're willing to work together with the other factions. Haroon Amin spoke out on this. He is the representative here in Washington. Listen to what he said earlier in the week.
"Our aim is not to monopolize power or horde power but to engage with others in establishing a broad-based government in Afghanistan."
Do you believe them?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, and it's a good statement. And that statement, we have seen executed on over the last several days.
What is becoming clear is that the Northern Alliance recognizes that in order for there to be stability and peace in Afghanistan and a representative government in Kabul, all segments have to be represented and it can't just be a Northern Alliance dominated provisional government. And there have been some ups and downs in this and different statements come out hither and yon. But as of this morning, the reports I have are rather encouraging from Bonn. But we're not there yet. The UN has tabled a specific plan of how many people should be in this provisional government and it's a good plan and we need to put names in along with these positions and then get this government established and sent back to Kabul so they can begin their work.
QUESTION: Have you asked the Northern Alliance troops not to go into Kandahar in the south, given the ethnic makeup of the Northern Alliance, Uzbek, Tajik, as opposed to the Pashtun majority in Kandahar?
SECRETARY POWELL: I have not made such a request to them. I don't know if any of my other colleagues have been in touch with them on this, but I don't think so.
QUESTION: Okay, let's talk about Iraq. As you know, a tough statement from President Bush earlier in the week warning Saddam Hussein of consequences. Let's play that sound bite and get your reaction.
"In order to prove to the world he is not developing weapons of mass destruction, he ought to let the inspectors back in. Yes?"
"If he does not do that, sir, what will be the consequences? If he does not do that, what will be the consequences?"
"That's up for him -- he'll find out."
He'll find out?
SECRETARY POWELL: It's a good, strong statement, and it's consistent with everything the United States has been saying for a long time. The President ended that statement with a rather strong point, that there are consequences for continued noncompliance with the requirements of the international community as reflected in UN resolutions. He ought to let the inspectors back in.
This past week, we had some success in the Security Council with the unanimous vote for a new sanctions regime that continues to reinforce the point that the inspectors should be allowed back in to do their work and establish whether he is or is not developing weapons of mass destruction. We suspect he still is. And he claims he is not. He threw the inspectors out in 1998, and the international community says, no. And President Bush said in that statement, they have to be let back in.
With respect to, "He'll find out," the President retains all of his options. And in this campaign against terrorism, in the first phase, as the President has said all along, we are focusing in Afghanistan, al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden, the Taliban. And there will be future phases as we go after terrorism around the world, as we go after those countries that harbor terrorism, or those countries that develop weapons of mass destruction that can be used by terrorists.
And so we will keep a close eye on Iraq. The President has made no decisions, and the President's advisors, those of us who bear the responsibility for giving advice to the President, myself, Secretary Rumsfeld, the Vice President of course, Dr. Rice, we have not individually nor collectively presented a recommendation to the President yet with respect to Iraq.
QUESTION: So all options are still very much on the table?
SECRETARY POWELL: All options are very much open. The President has not given away any of his authority to act in a way he believes is appropriate.
Beyond the inspectors, the United States also has a policy -- this is separate from the UN policy -- that we believe a regime change would be good for the Iraqi people, good for the region. And we are trying to find ways to make the Iraqi opposition more effective in this regard. And of course we continue to patrol the no-fly zones to keep Saddam Hussein contained.
QUESTION: Well, on that point, Senator Joe Lieberman offered a recommendation to the Bush Administration earlier in the week. Listen to what he said.
"It's not time for us to go to war in Iraq. But it is time for us to begin to support the Iraqi opposition. And they are strong, and they have strength within Iraq. And they can play the same role that the Northern Alliance played in Afghanistan."
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we do support the Iraqi opposition. It is not clear yet that they can perform the same kind of role. We're talking about two different countries, two different situations, and two different kinds of military forces. The Northern Alliance was a force that was in being, that owned a part of Afghanistan and was a competent military force but needed the support of American air power. The Iraqi opposition does not yet rise to that level.
But the President has all of his options available to him. But he has not made any decisions. Remember, he said, in phase one we're going to focus on Afghanistan. There is a lot of commentary and a lot of ideas, such as those of Senator Lieberman, about what might be done and the President is considering all of his options and all of the ideas.
QUESTION: Are you convinced that, in the three years there have been no UN weapons inspection teams inside Iraq, that Saddam Hussein and his government have continued their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction?
SECRETARY POWELL: We have no reason to believe that they have not continued that pursuit or they have abandoned their intent and desire to obtain such systems.
QUESTION: Do you think they are moving forward with it?
SECRETARY POWELL: We think they are trying. How far forward they have been able to move is a little less clear. And there are different kinds of weapons of mass destruction. The one that is the greatest concern to me is what might be happening with respect to biological weapons, because it is much harder to detect that kind of activity.
QUESTION: And in the past, as you know, the Iraqis have used gas warfare against the Iranians.
SECRETARY POWELL: They have used chemical weapons, gas, against the Iranians and they used them against their own people. And so this is the message I give to all of our moderate Arab friends in the region and the international community: What he is doing is a greater threat to the region than it is to the United States, and what we are doing to contain him is a benefit to the region, not just to the United States. And that is why, I think, we have been able to keep this coalition together and make that case to them.
QUESTION: As you know, some former government officials and perhaps some within the government are saying there are some strong signs that the Iraqis were connected to the September 11 terrorist attack, specifically the meetings in Prague between Mohammed Atta, the suspected ringleader, and Iraqi intelligence, an Iraqi intelligence agent.
As far as you're concerned, was there a connection there?
SECRETARY POWELL: Certainly, these meetings took place. But there has not yet been a body of evidence come forward that suggests we can make the kind of connection that is suggested, that it had something to do with September 11. But we have not stopped trying to find any connection that might exist between any country and what happened on September 11.
QUESTION: So you are still open-minded on that?
SECRETARY POWELL: Absolutely.
QUESTION: One final issue. The Attorney General John Ashcroft has raised a lot of questions about some of the measures he has imposed, detainees, military tribunals. You were asked about the detainees earlier in the week, and I want to give you a chance to respond, because some critics have suggested perhaps there is some daylight between you and the Attorney General on this issue.
Listen to what you said earlier in the week:
"I hope that, in the very near future, as these investigations continue and as questions are answered and clarified, we will be able to get this list of detainees down."
QUESTION: Is there any difference? Do you disagree with the Attorney General?
SECRETARY POWELL: No. Why would you even suggest there is a difference? The Attorney General is doing what is appropriate in this time of emergency, of doing everything we can to secure our society. And a number of people have been detained as the investigations go through or are conducted. And if there is not a reason to keep detaining people, of course they will be released.
QUESTION: But you support the whole operation?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. The Attorney General, under the direction of the President and at the will of the American people, is casting a wide net to see if there are any other cells and individuals within the country that may be connected to 9/11 or might be planning other attacks. So a number of people have been detained. But we are a nation of justice; we are a nation of laws. And as these people are looked at and investigated and information gathered from them, if there is no basis to detain them, of course they will be released. And I am sure that's general Ashcroft's position and the President's.
QUESTION: Now, you're heading overseas this week?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.
QUESTION: And the major purpose of your trip?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I'm going to 10 countries in eight days, and lots of major purposes. One, to participate in a conference in Bucharest with 54 other nations in the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, and to make a statement on terrorism there. I will be visiting in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. I will also make a stop in Turkey, and a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Belgium, and then on to Moscow for a day-and-a-half to visit with Foreign Minister Ivanov and President Putin to push forward the US- Russia agenda and specifically the strategic framework part of that agenda. And then I'm coming back through Germany, France and England to brief my colleagues on the way out of Europe.
QUESTION: Aren't you happy you left the private sector for government work?
SECRETARY POWELL: Oh, I love to travel. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Good luck, and have a safe trip.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Wolf.
QUESTION: Thank you.
12:35 p.m. EST
Interview by Bob Schieffer and Gloria Borger of CBS's Face The Nation
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman For Immediate Release December 2, 2001
Interview Of Secretary Of State Colin L. Powell By Bob Schieffer And Gloria Borger Of CBS's Face The Nation
December 2, 2001 Washington, D.C.
10:30 a.m. EST
QUESTION: And the news this morning from Israel is even worse than we have been reading in our morning papers. The morning papers tell of two attacks yesterday, now there has been another in Haifa. Hundreds of people again injured in this latest attack. Now more than 200 people injured and dead in Israel over just this weekend. To talk about it with us this morning, the Secretary of State.
Mr. Secretary, thank you for coming. I guess the first question must be, have you spoken to Yasser Arafat about any of this?
SECRETARY POWELL: I spoke to Mr. Arafat on Saturday evening, right after the attacks took place. And I told him that these are horrible acts of terrorism. At that time, we only had the Jerusalem attack; the Haifa attack took place later. And I told him that it was absolutely necessary for him to take positive action now. It was a moment of truth.
Because these attacks were not only dastardly acts of terror against the people of Israel with the loss of life that you just suggested, but they were direct attacks against his authority, his ability to control the Palestinian Authority, and he had to respond and not just pick up the perpetrators, but take action to make sure that there are not other perpetrators from these organizations getting ready to commit further acts.
And so it is a moment of truth for Mr. Arafat. We are there to help. General Zinni is on the scene; General Zinni has talked to him. We are prepared to try to get the two sides together to talk about a cease- fire. We will not give up.
But at the same time, Mr. Arafat, I think, must act. And let me take this opportunity to express the sympathy that all Americans feel for the families of the victims of these terrible acts of terror.
QUESTION: What response did you get from him?
SECRETARY POWELL: Mr. Arafat responded with an acknowledgement of what I had said to him and what General Zinni had said to him. He said rather specifically that he has expressed his condolences and he is going to work on it. And he acknowledged that these are attacks against him as well as attacks against Israel. And I said to him, well, if that is the case, you need to respond accordingly. This cannot be just, we'll round up some suspects and that will be the end of it. He's got to go beyond that. He's got to go after the organizations who are conducting these kinds of acts of terror and who are claiming credit for these acts of terror.
QUESTION: Let me just ask you, in light of this, how can the United States now say to Mr. Sharon, who is in this country, you cannot respond to this?
SECRETARY POWELL: No one said we were going to say that to Mr. Sharon. We are going to have a conversation with Mr. Sharon this morning. He will be seeing the President before he returns to Israel. And we will get his assessment and we will discuss the whole situation with him.
I know the pressure he is under and I know the agony he must feel this morning. We share his agony. We share the pain of the Israeli people. But we always have to keep in mind, where do we go now? How do we make things better, not how do we make things worse.
QUESTION: But the United States generally urges restraint on Israel after something -- has something changed here? You're saying --
SECRETARY POWELL: No, I am not saying we wouldn't urge restraint. We are not going to tell the Prime Minister, who has been freely elected by his people to defend his nation, what he -- I don't know what he is going to do, and I don't know that he will share it with us. And I know that the Israeli Cabinet is meeting now back in Israel with Mr. Shimon Peres and other leaders. So I don't know what they might do.
But we always say to both sides, you better think about the consequences of what happens the next day or the day after. Will your actions make things better; will your actions make things worse? But we are not about to tell Mr. Sharon what he should do as a freely elected leader of a democratic nation.
QUESTION: You have made some demands on Mr. Arafat, it seems. Do you believe he is in control enough right now to do that?
SECRETARY POWELL: I believe that he has a level of control that would permit him to do more than he is doing now. And in my speech in Louisville two weeks ago, I made it clear that the violence has to end, the terror has to end, the incitement has to end. The incitement is as much a problem as anything else, where you have leaders among the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian leaders, and you have media outlets throughout the Arab world, which incite the people to this kind of action. That also has to be part of it.
So we have put down clear markers -- the President has and I have, and all of my colleagues in the Administration have, that the violence and the terror have to end, or else you do not have a basis to move forward.
QUESTION: Is there a timetable on this? Are you giving him a deadline?
SECRETARY POWELL: It is not for us to put out a deadline. The deadline ought to be right now, stop now. There is no need to take three or four weeks to do this. Make it stop now and use all of your legitimate power, but more than that use the power of your position as the leader of the Palestinian people to bring this kind of action, this kind of violence to an end, and make a 100 percent effort and get as high a level of results as you can.
He can't control every single Palestinian zealot or somebody who wishes to commit suicide. But he has to exercise more of the control that we believe he has.
QUESTION: And if not?
SECRETARY POWELL: If not, then the situation will not improve. If not, we are not going to move forward. If not, we are trapped.
QUESTION: Does he have to go?
SECRETARY POWELL: Please, Gloria, don't take me down these dead-end discussions. Let's stick with it. The situation is that, if he isn't able to do this, if he doesn't do this, then we are not moving down a path toward a cease-fire and a path toward getting into the Mitchell plan. What we need to do is to get a cease-fire in place so the confidence-building measures can go on as provided for in the Mitchell plan, and then we get to negotiations.
At the end of the day, this is only going to be solved by negotiations, where the two sides come to the table in an environment of quiet, some level of quiet, some level of confidence that they can talk to one another, without bombs going off, without actions taking place that contaminate an environment of discussion and negotiation.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the terrorist group Hamas is taking credit for this, apparently. Is there a connection between Hamas and al- Qaida?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know that there is a direct connection in this incident. But, you know, all of these organizations are knowledgeable of each other. But I don't have any information available to me this morning that there is some connection that would link the events of the September 11 or what's happening in Afghanistan to what Hamas is doing. We have always identified Hamas as a troubling organization that participates in this kind of activity, and we have condemned their activities consistently over time.
QUESTION: I guess the reason I ask that is I suspect there are a lot of people out there who are wondering in some way is Usama bin Laden behind these sudden attacks?
SECRETARY POWELL: No, Usama bin Laden has never done a single thing for a single Palestinian. He has done nothing for the Palestinian cause. He has used his hundreds of millions of dollars to foment terror and violence, and suddenly he tries to wrap himself in the cover of the Islam faith and he tries to wrap himself in the Palestinian cause. And he has no claim to being able to do that. He is a terrorist who does it for his own evil purposes.
QUESTION: You have basically said this morning that Yasser Arafat needs to get serious. Give me an example of what you would see happening in the Middle East that would say to you, he's gotten the message and he's trying to bring this to a halt.
SECRETARY POWELL: The arrest of people who have been responsible for these kinds of actions and putting them in real jails, where they are not walking free several days later. Going after the organizations and those activities within areas under his control where these kinds of people are being trained. Going after the organizations that are preparing future suicide bombers and cracking down on them, and making sure that all those who work with him, the other Palestinian leaders -- it's not just Mr. Arafat; there are other Palestinian leaders -- stop the incitement, stop appealing to the passions that exist in the street.
The Palestinian authorities and leaders would say to you, well, the Israelis do things that are causing this situation to be the way it is. It is easy to simply go back into mutual recriminations going back and forth. And we've got to get out of that. We've got to get out of that; we've got to get moving forward.
That's why General Zinni is there. He is ready to sit with security officials on both sides, not to just exchange charges but to exchange ideas, so that we can begin taking small steps that will cause this situation to start to improve and get us moving toward a cease-fire.
QUESTION: Let's talk a little bit about the war in Afghanistan and that part of the war and how that's going. How would you describe the state of al-Qaida right now?
SECRETARY POWELL: Al-Qaida is under enormous pressure, not only in Afghanistan, but I think throughout the dozens of other countries in which it operates. In Afghanistan, their options are being limited, as more and more territory passes out of Taliban control. The Taliban is still hanging on in Kandahar and some of the southern provinces, in the mountains to the east and to the south. But they are under enormous pressure.
The United States Marine Corps has now put a base in there, and that base provides a way of extending our operations and the operations of the tribes who are now rising up against the Taliban and al-Qaida, so they are under enormous pressure. And I think it's just a matter of time before we achieve our objectives.
I don't know how much time that would be, but the President has not blinked on this. He wants Usama bin Laden, he wants al-Qaida ripped up, and the Taliban has to be totally removed from power in Afghanistan because they did not make the right choice several months ago.
And I am pleased that things are now also moving in Bonn with respect to putting in place a provisional government. We are not there yet, but there has been some progress in Bonn in the last day or so.
QUESTION: Do you have any sense right now of where Usama bin Laden is? There are conflicting reports about that?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, obviously, I don't know exactly where he is or I would be doing something else this morning with my friends at the Pentagon. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY POWELL: But we think he is still in Afghanistan. And there is reason to believe that he is in the southern and eastern part of the country. But his specific location, I don't know. But you can be sure we are looking and we have quite a few ideas to pursue.
QUESTION: If we have to go cave-to-cave to find him, will we do it?
SECRETARY POWELL: We will do whatever is necessary to bring Usama bin Laden to justice or to bring justice to him. And it's not just caves; there are other places he could be hiding, villages he could be quietly trying to hide in, and we will do everything we can to bring him to justice or bring justice to him.
QUESTION: And what about taking Taliban leader Mullah Omar?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, he is somebody also I think who has to be brought to justice, and we have heard different reports about him trying to cut a deal, but there are no deals to be cut. And we are in search of him as well.
QUESTION: What does that mean, "there are no deals to be cut"?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, there have been some suggestions that he could plea bargain with one of the leaders within Afghanistan in some way, and suddenly launder himself in a way that would make him acceptable or allow him to leave the country, but we're not interested in those types of deals.
QUESTION: All right, let's take a break right here. We'll talk about all this and more when we come back. Because the Secretary is about to leave on an 11-day trip, we want to ask you about that, too. We'll be back in a minute.
QUESTION: And we're back again with the Secretary of State. Mr. Secretary, one thing you touched on just a minute ago and we want to ask you a little more about that is the negotiations that are going on in Bonn, where they are trying to figure out how to form some kind of a government to govern Afghanistan once the fighting stops. How is that going?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think rather well at the moment. The very fact that you were able to gather these disparate elements of Afghan society in Bonn and have them talk to one another and begin the process of forming a provisional government was, in and of itself, an achievement. There have been ups and downs, but the reports this morning are somewhat encouraging. I think the UN is about to put a specific proposal before the representatives who are there and, with some luck and with good will on all sides, we should be able to see the emergence of a 20- or 30-person provisional government that would go back to Kabul, start to form this government and an administration to go with that government, and then prepare for a broader political effort to widen the reach of that government.
QUESTION: That raises a point. There has been some talks about perhaps breaking up Afghanistan. Where does the United States come down on that?
SECRETARY POWELL: I have seen those reports, but we are right now committed to one country. I don't think we want to start seeing this country break into parts. It's not viable right now as a country; it would be even less viable if you broke it into parts. And I don't sense that anybody who has gone to this meeting in Bonn is interested in that. And so we hope that it will stay together as one entity.
QUESTION: Would the US be part of any peacekeeping force there?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, as you know, we have forces there now. And we do not see a permanent role for the United States as military peacekeepers on the ground. A number of countries have volunteered and we are very pleased at the response of our coalition partners. And once the provisional government has been established and we get a better sense of what they may need and want in the way of international peacekeeping support and we figure out how to structure that, then I think there will be more than enough other countries willing to participate in such an effort.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there has been an awful lot of talk lately about the next stage of this war, post Afghanistan. And President Bush said this week that Iraq had to allow arms inspectors in the country or else. What did he mean by that?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, his position is the same as the international community. And that is, under the provisions of UN Resolution 1284, the Iraqis have an obligation to let inspectors back in. They claim they are not developing weapons of mass destruction and we think they are. The only way to resolve it is, let's send the inspectors in.
And I am pleased the Security Council this week, by a vote of 15 to zero, have essentially approved smart sanctions to come into effect several months from now. But they also reaffirmed the need for inspectors to go back in. When the President said he will find out, he will find out. The President has made no decisions with respect to what the next phase of our campaign against terrorism will be.
We are still in the same game plan that we established a couple of months ago. We are going after al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden in Afghanistan. We are going after the Taliban in Afghanistan. We are widening our net against al-Qaida around the world.
We are examining other terrorist organizations. We are looking at those nations who, in the past, have sponsored terrorism. We are watching Iraq because it has always developed weapons of mass destruction that are a concern to us. But the President has made no decision. And, moreover, none of the President's advisors, those of us who have the responsibility to advise the President -- myself, Secretary Rumsfeld, the Vice President, Dr. Rice -- none of us have made individually or collectively recommendations yet to the President as to what we should do in the next phase.
QUESTION: So there are those, I'm sure, who are listening to you this morning that are saying, well, Secretary Powell just said, we believe that Saddam Hussein is building weapons of mass destruction. Why do we need to go through this business of inspectors? Why don't we just go in now and take him out?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, the President has never lost any of the options available to him. He will make a judgment in due course as to how to deal with the threat that continues to reside in Iraq. But there is a way to deal with this that keeps the international community focused on this problem. And that is to let the inspectors in.
And it was an obligation that Iraq had at the end of the war, and they were able to get rid of those inspectors in 1998, and the international community still feels -- and I think that it is important for those inspectors to go back in, as does the President.
And so we believe he is developing these weapons. We don't think he has been as successful as he would have liked to have been because the sanctions and the work we have done to keep him contained have been effective. But, nevertheless, that inherent desire of his is there.
QUESTION: But is there a time frame? Does he have a deadline he has to meet to let those inspectors in?
SECRETARY POWELL: His deadline was years ago and those inspectors are still not in. We have not put any deadline against him now so that if he doesn't meet a certain deadline, something will happen. The President retains all of his options and we will be examining it as we go forward.
QUESTION: So if he lets those inspectors in, say, does that mean he is off the hook?
SECRETARY POWELL: No. If he lets those inspectors in, he is complying with what he agreed to as his obligation under UN resolutions. The United States still continues to believe as a separate matter that it would be better to have a different regime in Iraq and, as you know, we have supported the efforts of opposition groups to begin organizing themselves for a change of regime in due course. And, of course, you know, we maintain the no-fly zones and we keep a military presence in the region to keep him contained.
Regime change would be in the best interest of the Iraqi people. It is a goal of the United States. But the United Nations' goal is the inspectors and getting rid of those weapons of mass destruction.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, how do you respond to the criticism that comes up from time to time, both within the Administration and from those on the outside, that you are too cautionary, that you are too reluctant to use military force?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, look at my record. I was Chairman when we went into Panama on 48 hours' notice, and I was Chairman when we did Desert Shield and Desert Storm. And to the best of my knowledge, the advice that I provided to the President at that time, President Bush, and to my boss, Secretary Cheney, and the work that we did with General Schwarzkopf succeeded. And so it is one of these criticisms that is out there and people like to use it as a stereotype.
We just went into Afghanistan without any disagreement from anybody in the administration, without any cautionary notes coming from the State Department. We went into -- or from me. We went into Afghanistan and we conducted a fine military operation, notwithstanding the criticism that comes from outside. It's a part of being a policy official in Washington, D.C.
QUESTION: If you were Saddam Hussein, what would you -- should you be worried right now if --
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.
QUESTION: He should be worried?
SECRETARY POWELL: He should be worried. He is totally isolated within the international community. He is one of only two or three countries in the world that is sticking up for the Taliban and Usama bin Laden and al-Qaida. He is presiding over a despotic regime in a country that has been broken by 10 years of sanctions. And he is just about completely isolated within the world. Even the Russians have now taken a step sideways away from him.
QUESTION: Secretary of State Powell, always a pleasure to have you.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you.
QUESTION: Good luck on your coming trip to, what is it, 11 countries?
SECRETARY POWELL: Something like that. I've been afraid to count. But it's quite a trip coming up, but it's an important trip.
I'm going to Bucharest for a meeting of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, and then on to other stops. But an important meeting in Moscow with President Putin and Foreign Minister Ivanov, to move forward our US-Russia agenda.
QUESTION: Hope to talk to you about that later.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you.
QUESTION: Thank you so much.
10:50 a.m. EST