Colin L. Powell Interview on CNN On Iraq
Secretary Colin L. Powell Washington, DC September 4, 2002
SECRETARY POWELL: The President spoke to this very clearly today. He said that he is beginning an intensive process of consultation with the American Congress, he's going to talk to the American people, he's talking to the world. He'll be talking to a number of foreign leaders over the next several days and he'll be talking at the United Nations next week on the threat posed to not just the United States but to the whole world by Iraq.
QUESTION: Will he present the evidence --
SECRETARY POWELL: Here's the evidence. First, Iraq has violated all the resolutions that were placed upon it requiring it to get rid of its weapons of mass destruction. There's no debate about this. It is absolutely a fact that Iraq has not complied with these resolutions to get rid of weapons of mass destruction.
Second fact: The Iraqis are pursuing still, after all these years, they are still pursuing these weapons, and they are still pursuing this technology. And when Tariq Aziz, the Deputy Prime Minister, comes and says they are not, it's a lie and everybody knows it's a lie. And he's trying to con us. One day he says no inspectors, the next day he says maybe inspectors. It's all a con.
Now, what the United Nations has to do is to look at these facts and make a judgment as to what they should do about the fact that this regime has been thwarting the will of the international community for all these years. And the United States is willing to point this out to the world and make the case to the world. The President will make it clear to the allies in the days ahead, he'll make it clear at the United Nations next week. He has also said he has made no decisions with respect to what options he might choose to pursue, either within the multilateral environment or what we might have to do as a nation unilaterally.
QUESTION: Is there any difference --
SECRETARY POWELL: And the thing that is clear about all of this is that doing nothing is not an option, as the President said.
QUESTION: Right. But is there any difference of opinion between you and other members of the administration on the advice that the President is being given?
SECRETARY POWELL: The President benefits from all the advice that we give him as a group, and a lot of the chatter about all of the disagreements that take place within the administration is mostly that: chatter. We talk to each other in an open, candid environment. We're all old friends. There are no wars going on within the administration; there's good debate. And that debate and that discussion and the advice that we give to the President has only one purpose, and that's to make sure that the President understands all the issues with respect to any particular problem that is before him.
And with respect to Iraq, it's a very serious matter and we have to make sure he gets the best advice. And I'm confident that I, Secretary Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney, my former Secretary Cheney, and Condi Rice and George Tenet of the CIA and all of our colleagues are doing everything we can to make to sure the President gets the best advice, and we are unified together and we are behind him.