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Rice Interview on CBS News with Wyatt Andrews

Interview on CBS News with Wyatt Andrews

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Baghdad, Iraq
November 11, 2005


QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thanks for joining us. I want to start with the Congressional investigation into "exaggerated intelligence." Why the counter-offensive? Mr. Hadley was out yesterday. The President seems to be out today. Why the counter-offensive?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, this is simply a matter of reminding people of what the intelligence said about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, about the fact that for 12 years the United Nations passed Security Council resolution after Security Council resolution calling on Saddam Hussein to cooperate about his weapons of mass destruction, about report after report, after report that talked about the absence of any data on what he had done with these weapons of mass destruction and calling on him to make a full account, the fact that we went to war in 1998 because of concerns about his weapons of mass destruction.

So Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction were linked. The Oil-for-Food program --

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I don't mean to interrupt, but you said '98. Did you mean '91?

SECRETARY RICE: No, I mean in '98 when there was --

QUESTION: You mean the cruise missile --

SECRETARY RICE: That's right, when there were cruise missile attacks to try to deal with this weapons of mass destruction, and the fact that he was not cooperating with the weapons inspectors. And of course, you can go back to '91 when we found that his weapons programs had been severely underestimated by the IAEA and others. So I think that is what people are reminding us, what the intelligence said prior to the war.

QUESTION: One of the issues, though, is not whether the intelligence was right or wrong; it's whether it was exaggerated. I want to recall your mushroom cloud comment, I believe three years ago. Looking back, hindsight being 20/20, the fact that they did not find weapons of mass destruction; in that context, is the mushroom cloud comment an exaggeration?

SECRETARY RICE: Wyatt, with all due respect, hindsight is 20/20 but, of course, foresight isn't. And the fact is that what I was calling attention to is that Saddam Hussein, in the intelligence estimates, was thought to be reconstituting his nuclear weapons program. The key judgment was that, unchecked, he could have a nuclear weapon within ten years or less; and also recalling the fact that nuclear weapons programs were almost always underestimated --the Indian nuclear test, the Soviet Union exploding a bomb five years ahead of schedule -- and so this was simply a comment about the problem of surprise with nuclear weapons program.

QUESTION: And not an exaggeration?

SECRETARY RICE: It was a comment about the problem of surprise. I think that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction programs were fully expected to be there by everyone who knew anything about the program or knew anything about his history of having used weapons of mass destruction against his own people, his insatiable appetite for them, the UN sanctions against him. And it was not just this Administration that thought that he had weapons of mass destruction and that talked about those weapons of mass destruction. Nobody was willing to give Saddam Hussein the benefit of the doubt.

QUESTION: Let's switch to today. It's hard not to notice that you did significant outreach to Sunnis today. You flew in to Mosul, for starters. You met the Sunni leaders this evening. What's important about this outreach?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the Sunnis are a group that is now showing, I think, tremendous interest in the political process here. Effectively, they sat out the first round in January, and I think they've recognized that that was a mistake. They voted in very large numbers in the referendum, but of course large numbers of them voted against the constitution -- which, by the way, it's perfectly democratic to vote for or against.

But now that there is a constitution and there will be elections in December, it's important that they participate and participate fully. And with the Sunni leaders with whom I met, I saw a deep engagement with the political process and that's what we want to encourage.

QUESTION: What are the stakes involved, though, if they do not come on board this election?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, obviously, the important thing is for Iraq to emerge as an Iraq for all Iraqis, and the Sunnis have to be a part of that. What I see the real news is how engaged they are in the political process: putting forth lists, engaging in the development of political parties, encouraging their people to vote, and by the way, doing this despite the fact that terrorists are trying to discourage that very same vote.

It takes a real commitment to go out and tell people to vote in a place like Al Anbar Province or in Nineva Province where I was today, and Sunni leaders are doing that. So they're doing -- they're engaged in this political process at great peril to themselves. That says that the Sunnis have decided that the way that Iraq is going to move in the future is on a political course.

QUESTION: Okay. I probably have very little time left. Any comment -- you're here on Veterans Day. I want to know what it's like to stand at those microphones, as you have been, talking to these service men and women on Veterans Day.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, on Veterans Day it's fitting to be here because these men and women are in a long line of American men and women who were willing to defend our freedom and defend our principles, often at great sacrifice, often at the ultimate sacrifice. But what we know is that when they defended freedom, they were able to create a better world, that out of the sacrifices of the people who fought in World War II, for instance, we got a Europe that is stable, a Japan that is a democratic ally.

And I look at these men and women today in Iraq and I see them in that same long line of men and women who were willing to use our power, but to use it on behalf of principle.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you.




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