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Rice IV With Paul Smith of The Paul Smith Show

Interview With Paul Smith of The Paul Smith Show

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
October 12, 2006

(7:30 a.m. EDT)

QUESTION: It is a pleasure and a privilege to welcome back to the program our Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

SECRETARY RICE: Good morning.

QUESTION: Good morning, Madame Secretary, nice to have you on board. I must tell you this will not be like what you went through the other day with -- I use to refer to him as Wolf Blitzer, but I'd have to say Wolf Blitzkrieg. (Laughter.) I mean, this guy was trying to get you from the beginning to not really tell him about what you think is happening or should happen with North Korea, he was trying to get you to blame the Clinton Administration.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, that's all right. I guess people want to make news. But look, this isn't a time to worry about blame. It is a time to affirm very strongly that the United States has the right approach here which is not to be in a bilateral discussion with the North Koreans, but rather to have people at the table who can bring some leverage, the Chinese, the South Koreans and others.

QUESTION: It is, in fact, why you have to follow the path that you and the President have chosen, because the old path did not work.

SECRETARY RICE: That's right.

QUESTION: But bringing to bear the power of the Chinese, the Russians, the Japanese, et cetera, hopefully will work. Interestingly enough, too, and we happened to have Jim Baker on yesterday, which was good timing because the former Secretary of State during the first Bush Administration, has said basically he's been -- they've used his quotes in the news media to make it sound like he's going against what you and the President are trying to do by saying it's not appeasement to talk to your enemies. And he points out, as you have, Condoleezza Rice, has anybody noticed, you've been talking to the North Koreans.

SECRETARY RICE: Absolutely. We have talked to the North Koreans. We've been at the six-party talks with them. As a matter of fact, one evening a couple of days before the six-party talks, our Assistant Secretary and Ambassador for these talks had a long dinner with the North Korean. So it's not that we don't talk to them. But what they want to do is they want to negotiate with us one on one so that they can agree to something and then violate it and then it will be the problem of the United States; it won't have the Chinese and the Japanese and others signed on.

QUESTION: How difficult it is for you, Madame Secretary, to make it very clear, as you've had to assert in that interview and in any other interview you've had in the last couple of days, that the United States -- the President said it again yesterday -- has no plan, is not planning on attacking North Korea? You have to make that clear while at the same time you have to make it clear that that's not being taken off the table if need be.

SECRETARY RICE: That's right. It is not -- the President doesn't remove any of his options and no one should want the President of the United States to remove options. But what we're saying is that this is now a diplomatic matter and we believe it can be resolved diplomatically. It's also important for people to know that the North Koreans keep saying that the reason they need to test missiles or they need to test nuclear weapons is that the United States is a threat to invade them. And the President said, all the way back in 2002 when he was in South Korea, that the United States does not intend to invade or attack North Korea. We obviously maintain a deterrent should North Korea do something provocative. But the idea that the United States is just going to launch an attack against North Korea is both wrong and it is what the North Koreans are trying to tell their people and the world.

QUESTION: Do you believe the United Nations is going to be helpful in this confrontation and what will our next step be?

SECRETARY RICE: I do think we will get a good Security Council resolution. I believe that you'll see not just sanctions in the Security Council, but I think you'll see more extensive steps from some important countries. So for instance, Japan, a couple of days ago or actually -- already put out a list of additional sanctions that it is going to impose. So I think you will see countries trying to determine as well what they can do bilaterally in addition to the sanctions that you get in the Security Council.

QUESTION: I want to move on to a couple of other notes very quickly. We have with us, and we appreciate greatly the time of Dr. Condoleezza Rice, our Secretary of State, here on The Paul W. Smith show at WJR. It's 7:40 on this Thursday morning.

You were National Security Advisor in 2001, certainly aware now of Bob Woodward's claims in State of Denial about you being offered information about al-Qaida and finding that you tried to deflect it; that you didn't take it seriously. I can't imagine for a moment that anybody gave you specific information about an attack on the United States of America, by al-Qaida or anyone else, and you would have looked the other way.

Let me add to that a caveat: It was this radio station and from an interview on this radio station many years ago that in fact you talked about al-Qaida, and this is after the last book that came out that said -- he claimed that he spoke with you about al-Qaida and the look on your face indicated you never heard of them, when you had talked about them on our radio station. And we were happy to feed that to the rest of the world to prove that that guy was wrong and now talk about this guy, Bob Woodward, with that assertion that you would hear about a specific attack and not do anything.

SECRETARY RICE: No, I mean, it's obviously just not true. First of all, the 9/ 11 Commission has really stated that they talked to George Tenet about this meeting. And of course George Tenet said nothing of the kind that I didn't take it seriously. Does anybody really believe that somebody would have walked into my office and said, oh, by the way, there's a chance of a major attack against the United States and I would have said, well, I'm really not interested in that information. I mean, it's just ridiculous. Of course we knew that there were grave threats that were being -- that were in the intelligence during that period of time. We were actively working with the FAA, working with other domestic agencies. Even though it appeared that this attack was likely to take place overseas, we were putting our forces on alert, we moved our ships out of port. We had a very active program to deal with what were nebulous threats but quite serious threats in this period. So the charge is just ridiculous.

And I'd make one other point, what we lacked in 9/11 was information about what was going on inside the country. That's why the President had a -- after 9/11 -- a surveillance program of terrorist conversations and terrorist communications, so that we could link up what terrorists outside the country were saying with what terrorists inside the country was saying. That was the missing link before September 11th. And so really people should be focusing on what we have done since 9/11 and making sure that the President and future presidents have the tools that they need to fight terrorists.

QUESTION: And noting that we have not had another major terrorist attack in these United States since then. We will put Richard Clark and Bob Woodward together. Luckily we had the great David Newman in 1999 with that interview with you to give proof. I'm sure more information will come out as time goes by to dispel what Bob Woodward is saying.

Finally, Dr. Rice, a report coming out in the last couple of days from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health claiming that the Iraqi total of dead people from this war, since 2003, could be 600,000. Do you have an official comment on that?

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah. We just don't see how that number is credible. The number is just outsized and just not credible. Now, it is true that too many Iraqis have died and they're dying at the hands of violent people who want to keep them from progressing to a modern, democratic and stable state. And it is true that Iraqi political leaders have to take some difficult decisions in order to stop the violence. But I think that number is just not credible.

QUESTION: Do you think that the number of civilians, Iraqi civilians dead would fall between the margin of error from that report which was 426,000 to 793,000 or well below the 426,000?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think we don't know. But I believe anything that's in the high hundreds of thousands just doesn't make sense.

QUESTION: Meanwhile, the very latest on Iraq as you deal with North Korea.


QUESTION: What would be new, if anything, in terms of our approach on what's going on there? You know, as we've talked earlier, Jim Baker's out there talking about different things.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. And we're very much looking forward to the report of that very fine group of Americans who are looking at this issue. The Iraqi political system continues to try to work through their differences politically rather than by violence. The security forces are actively engaged in several places, Baghdad, the Anbar province, which is one of the toughest provinces where al-Qaida is fairly dug in. And the Iraqi people are continuing to sacrifice on their own behalf. But there is no doubt that they face some difficult decisions about disbanding militias, about getting a hydrocarbon's law, an oil law that equitably uses the resources of Iraq for all Iraqi people and that's what we're really pressing them to do now is to make those tough political decisions.

QUESTION: Dr. Rice, we know, as a concert pianist, you relax playing music. We thought of asking you to play Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2, but it's a pretty tough piece to play.

SECRETARY RICE: Right. And it's a post-Secretary of State activity. I've got to learn it. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: You mean -- well, that's before you, before or after you run the NFL?

SECRETARY RICE: That's right. By the way, congratulations to the Tigers; they're looking pretty good.

QUESTION: The Tigers are looking very good and thank you for that. And finally have you -- it's kind of a personal question but you'll understand it when I ask it, have you worked out yet this morning?


QUESTION: All right. Play a little of this here, Brian, because you're talking to Detroit and I know that this is the queen of soul's anthem. In your own opinion, and we wanted to give you a little respect, Madame Secretary (Respect by Aretha Franklin plays.)

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. It's a great song and a great message. Thank you.

QUESTION: All right, Dr., nice to talk to you as always.

SECRETARY RICE: Take care. 2006/922

Released on October 12, 2006


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