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Rice IV With Harry Smith of CBS's Early Show

Interview With Harry Smith of CBS's Early Show

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
New York City
September 19, 2006

QUESTION: Earlier I talked to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and asked her about ongoing negotiations with Iran concerning its nuclear activities.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, what we have at this point is we've always been on two possible tracks. One is negotiation. And what's being explored now is: Is there still a way to get to negotiation? Can we get to a situation in which the Iranians suspend and in which the United States then would join negotiations?

QUESTION: Down the line.

SECRETARY RICE: Down the line. Well, even --

QUESTION: You mean while the --

SECRETARY RICE: If the – no, when the Iranians suspend --

QUESTION: Right.

SECRETARY RICE: -- and suspend verifiably, the United States will be prepared to join. Those talks are going on now. Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, has had those.

QUESTION: Right.

SECRETARY RICE: But we are still pursuing the path of sanctions should Iran not follow the UN Security Council resolution and suspend.

QUESTION: Well, which is the whole idea that Jacques Chirac is saying that we don't – that maybe sanctions isn't the way to go per se if talks can continue even just in some way to get this going, move it forward.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, no, if talks between Solana and the Iranian representative Larijani can get us to a suspension, that would be terrific. But the international community also has a credibility issue. We've said as of August 31st suspend or we will pursue sanctions, and so we are talking with our partners about that course as well.

QUESTION: I want to talk about the White House policy on interrogation methods. There seems to be some movement afoot. Your predecessor, Secretary of State Colin Powell, has said, "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," because of the White House's insistence on changing of the Article 3 or "clarifying" Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. Is the White House going to back away from that?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the President wants very much to, with Congress, have a law that can allow us to use legal means, treaty-compliant means, to get the information that we need to prevent the next attack. I think the American people want us to do that. I think Europeans and others who have also been saved by information from this program want us to do that. But of course we want to do it in a treaty-compliant way and we are not redefining Article 3 of Geneva. Look, the problem is that the language of Article 3, Common Article 3, is very imprecise, very vague, and the professionals – you know, the people who have to go out there and do the interrogation on our behalf – want to know that they are within the law. We owe them that. Nobody wants to --

QUESTION: But the basic premise is the disallow of humiliating and degrading treatment of prisoners, and that's what people from John McCain to John Warner to Secretary Powell says that's sacrosanct; you can't go beyond that.

SECRETARY RICE: It's simply a question of what constitutes inhumane or degrading conduct. That's what it is. It's not a matter – the United States doesn't want to engage in violations of Common Article 3. We don't want to redefine Common Article 3. We are – the people of the United States of America – that really was – we were the parents in a sense of Common Article 3. But we do want to give our professionals clear guidance so that they know they are operating within the law.

And I just want to go back, Harry. The moral high ground in this war is that the United States and our allies are fighting people who kill innocent people wantonly. They don't kill innocents as collateral damage. They intend to kill innocents. And when you have someone like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or Ramzi bin al-Shib, the plotters and planners of September 11th, and they know information that can prevent the next attack on innocent people, you have every obligation to find out what they know within legal means and within treaty-compliant means.

QUESTION: We're going to have to leave it at that. Madame Secretary, thank you so much.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.

2006/840

Released on September 19, 2006

ENDS

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