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Powell Remarks at Stakeout Following Fox News IV

Remarks at Stakeout Following Fox News Interview

Secretary Colin L. Powell Washington, DC June 8, 2003

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, this morning on Fox News, you've defended the intelligence and the presentation you made before the United Nations.

SECRETARY POWELL: Right.

QUESTION: Critics are saying that the intelligence, so far, has been bogus. How would you answer those critics?

SECRETARY POWELL: I would tell those critics that it is nonsense, it is not bogus, and there can be no question that Iraq had and has had weapons of mass destruction. And now that we are sending in a 1,300-man team, I am sure we will be uncovering more of that capability.

You have to remember that in my presentation on the 5th of February, I also made the point that they had one of the best deception and -- deception and hiding efforts known, and that is what we are going to have to go and look at. And I think all the documents that are now coming forward, the people who are being interviewed, will tell us more about what they have hidden and where they have hidden it.

And I think the mobile labs are what I think is a good indication of the kind of thing they are doing. If those mobile biological weapons vans that we discovered were not biological weapons van, if they were, as some suggest, nothing more than a device to produce hydrogen gas for weather balloons, I can assure you that the day after my presentation the Iraqis would have had that van out there producing hydrogen gas for a weather balloon.

They had never acknowledged that they had it. They lied about it. And we found it. And the Director of Central Intelligence, Mr. Tenet, is confident that it is what we said it was: a biological warfare van.

And so that tells you the nature of this regime. This regime could have come clean. This regime could have destroyed its weapons of mass destruction. It chose not to. And the United Nations and a willing coalition of nations acted appropriately in accordance with international law derived from UN Resolution 1441. We took the regime out, the world is better off for it, and the Iraqi people have been liberated. There will be no weapons of mass destruction once we get through in Iraq with --

QUESTION: How can you assure the American people that the intelligence that you were using is credible, that it's not bogus?

SECRETARY POWELL: The American people are quite assured. It is the media that invents words such as "bogus." How can it be bogus when I can show you pictures of people that were gassed by Saddam Hussein? I can show you reports from UN inspectors all through the 1990s that demonstrated that the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction. I can show you reports where the Iraqis were caught lying about their weapons of mass destruction. You tell me why they issued a false declaration when they had the opportunity to tell the truth.

And so I think the case is clear. The case has been substantiated over the years. Every nation that voted for Security Council Resolution 1441 voted for a resolution that began with the statement that Iraq was in material breach of its obligations. So there was nothing "bogus" about the intelligence.

QUESTION: On the Middle East, Mr. Secretary, there has --

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, aren't you there to uncover any weapons of mass destruction?

SECRETARY POWELL: We have uncovered the mobile vans and we are continuing to search. We also know that they were masters of deceit and masters of hiding these things. So a little patience is required, and it is really somewhat outrageous on the part of some critics to say that this was all bogus. It's not the least bit bogus. And the work continues, and a 1,300-man group is going in to continue that work.

QUESTION: On the Middle East -- on the Middle East, Secretary Powell --

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, the violence in the Middle East -- has it affected the peace process?

SECRETARY POWELL: The peace process has to continue. Both sides made important commitments at the Aqaba summit, and we must not allow terrorist organizations such as Hamas and PIJ and the al-Aqsa Brigade and similar organizations to derail this. The international community must speak out. The Palestinian Authority must act. Israel will do what is necessary to defend itself. But we have to move forward. It would be a tragedy, with this new momentum in the peace process, if we allowed terrorists to derail it and stop it.

I regret the incident. I grieve along with the Israeli people for the loss of these four soldiers. But we've got to keep moving. We cannot allow this to derail our efforts.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

[End]

Released on June 8, 2003

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