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Powell IV on The Early Show with Hannah Storm

Interview on The Early Show with Hannah Storm

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
March 1, 2004

(6:45 a.m. EST)

MS. STORM: Good morning, Secretary Powell.

SECRETARY POWELL: Good morning, Hannah.

MS. STORM: We have word that about 100 troops or so have already landed in Haiti. How many more are expected?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I don't know the final number, but it will be a significant number of U.S. troops, and they'll be joined by troops from many other nations. I expect French troops to arrive shortly. I expect a Canadian contingent. A number of contingents from Latin American nations will be joining. And so this will be a major international effort.

MS. STORM: But will the United States comprise the bulk of that effort?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think initially we will comprise the bulk of the effort and we will have a lead role, but I think over time those numbers will shift. And I expect it will change from combat troops to more police forces, internal security, gendarmerie type forces, and we can also shift leadership as well. And I was pleased that the United Nations provided a 15-0 resolution last night to support this international effort.

MS. STORM: So what are the orders of our troops? Will they engage in fighting? Are they there simply as a police force? Can you clarify their role?

SECRETARY POWELL: They're there to stabilize the situation. Overnight, things calmed down a bit and the Haitian National Police have started to function again, and I expect that our troops and the other international troops coming in will help to stabilize things. I don't think there will be a great deal of fighting, but they have to be prepared for that. But they need to bring a sense of security back to the society, as we have done in times past, unfortunately, but that security didn't stick because of the flawed politics of Haiti.

MS. STORM: Secretary Powell, the Democratic candidates last night reunited in saying that the President waited until the situation in Haiti spiraled out of control. Could the violence have been prevented, had the Administration stepped in earlier?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, what they are saying is the Administration should have stepped in on the side of the government earlier. What we were saying all along is that wouldn't have been the right answer because we needed a new political dynamic. We either needed President Aristide to leave or an agreement between all the sides to enter into a new political dynamic, and that didn't happen until President Aristide left over the last 24 hours. And that created conditions for a transitional government to be appointed, and then we were ready to provide military support.

That has been our position for some time, also the position of the other major nations who have been following this with me on a daily basis, France and Canada specifically.

MS. STORM: Secretary Powell, the Iraqi Governing Council, past the deadline, has now approved of an interim constitution. It still has to be approved by U.S. Administrator Paul Bremer. Will he approve it?

SECRETARY POWELL: I expect he will. I've been in conversation with Ambassador Bremer's folks. This is a major achievement, only a day late, which I think is terrific. And I haven't read all of the language that was agreed to over the weekend, but I'm fairly confident that Ambassador Bremer will be in a position to approve it.

MS. STORM: Meanwhile, controversy continues over weapons of mass destruction. Russia says their intelligence shows no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They claim that the war was politically motivated.

What's your response to that?

SECRETARY POWELL: The war was not politically motivated. The war was caused by a dictator who had ignored 12 years worth of UN resolutions, who had the intent to have weapons of mass destruction, he had the capability, he had the programs, he had the infrastructure. The only thing that really is in debate is whether or not there were actual stockpiles there. No stockpiles have been found yet.

At the time the decisions were made to go to war, all of our intelligence information and the intelligence information held by other countries, and the belief of the UN and the belief of Dr. Kay, was that there were stockpiles.

So let the investigations continue, let the work of Mr. Duelfer and the Iraqi Support Group continue, and we'll answer this question once and for all. But based on the intelligence and the information that we had at that time, the war was justified. And based on what we have found since then -- the mass graves, the nature of this despotic regime, and the promise that is now before the Iraqi people for democracy -- it was a correct war, just as Dr. Kay said, and just as I and the President and all of my colleagues have been saying. The Iraqi people will be better off. The world is going to be better off.

MS. STORM: Secretary of State Colin Powell. Thank you.




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