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Powell Interview With Elise Labott of CNN

Interview With Elise Labott of CNN

Secretary Colin L. Powell
October 6, 2004

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you came here for a firsthand look at the situation on the ground, to see the devastation caused by the hurricane. What are you taking away from your brief time here?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, Grenada was really dealt a serious blow by Hurricane Ivan. The schools are closed. Agricultural sector has been shut down. This is a people in great need. I'm so pleased that the Caribbean nations are coming to the help of Grenada and the United States is, as well. I wanted to demonstrate that President Bush and the American people are concerned. We've got some four and a half million dollars heading into the country now. And the president has asked for two supplemental requests of $50 million dollars each, for a total of $100 million dollars, to help all of the islands of the Caribbean that were hit. So, I just wanted to let the Grenadian people know that we cared about them and we're standing alongside them.

QUESTION: Many in the Caribbean, some members of Congress, Democrats albeit, say that while this is generous, it's really just a pittance in terms of the need. I mean Grenada alone, some estimates are upwards of a billion dollars. Is it a fair criticism that even while the U.S. is doing something, that countries like the U.S. with all of its resources, should really be doing more?

SECRETARY POWELL: We're doing a lot. We do a lot around the world. If you look at all of the increases we have made in development assistance over the last four years during President Bush's administration, we have had a 100% increase in assistance of this kind. And on top of that the Millennium Challenge Account. And on top of that, the HIV/AIDS funding. And so, we are showing that we are a very generous people. And to come up with $100 million on relatively short notice, and the other four and a half million dollars we are putting into this, I think suggests that we want to do as much as we can and it's up to Congress now, not the president. The president has made his request to Congress and I hope that Congress will act on it--Democrats and Republicans together to help these people. And perhaps more will be required in the future. But I think the amounts we are talking about now are a good start. And the whole international community is working on this effort. There was a donors' conference in the United States over the weekend where commitments were made to Grenada from the international communities. That totaled another $57 million. So, more will be needed, but we're off to a good start.

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QUESTION: Some estimates are taking Grenada seven years to recuperate, to rebuild, other countries several years. How are you going to sustain the effort and the interest in helping the Caribbean rebuild after this?

SECRETARY POWELL: By working with them, by getting their plan. I talked to the Prime Minister here about putting together a comprehensive plan so we can fund that plan over a period of years and not just a one-time shot. This is going to be a long-term effort. The nutmeg crop, which is their major crop, has been destroyed; you don't rebuild it in less than five to seven years. They will diversify as well as rebuilding that crop. We are going to help them with the expertise needed to make such decisions and also provide them the financial assistance to start rebuilding their agricultural sector.

QUESTION: Here and in Haiti, the devastation is causing a little bit of political instability, riots, looting and unemployment. Are you concerned that the devastation to the Caribbean isn't going to create a security problem for the region and for the U.S. to have to get even deeper involved?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think so. There was a security problem here in Grenada shortly after the hurricane, but the Caribbean community responded and sent in a police force, a combined military and police force, to stabilize the situation. I just met with them. And the country is quiet. It's stable. The Grenadian people are interested in rebuilding, not political turmoil. In other parts of the Caribbean, things are stable.

Haiti is a slightly different case in that there are groups of troublemakers who are running around causing difficulty, not just because of the hurricane, but they are taking advantage of the suffering that people have been put to, as a result of the hurricane, and to take advantage of that trouble to make political trouble. But I'm confident that the U.N. forces in Haiti will be able to stabilize that situation, as well, and more peacekeepers are on the way.

QUESTION: It seems like a cycle here in Haiti. I mean it was just getting on its feet a little bit politically. Now with some of these riots or looting, some of the U.N. forces are being diverted to deal with the hurricane. And the U.N. is saying that some of the the problem is not supplies, it's really getting it distributed safely. How do you break this cycle and help Haiti rebuild, finally rebuild, once and for all?

SECRETARY POWELL: Aid is getting to people who are in need. We have dealt with the problems [inaudible due to plane flying overhead] We're going about reconstruction efforts. But Haiti has been a difficult country [inaudible]. We are supporting Prime Minister LaTortue in his efforts. The U.N. is on the scene; they will be doubling the peacekeeping force over the next couple months. And we hope [inaudible] so the Haitian people can get the peace and security they deserve [inaudible].

QUESTION: I have one last question on Iraq. Mr. Duelfer's report is coming out today and I'm sure you know that it says that there was no particular large weapons of mass destruction program and that Saddam Hussein was not in the process of developing one but that he would have, had he had gotten under the sanctions. The administration went to war on the [pre-emptive] threat theory. But does this show you that the sanctions were working? Does it change the calculus if you knew this before?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think the report shows that Saddam Hussein was doing everything he could to get out of the sanctions and he was basically being successful. And if he ever got out from under those sanctions- as we have said all along- the intention that he had and the capability that he had would have put him back in the business of developing weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Duelfer did not find any stockpiles. We thought there were stockpiles; that was the judgment of the intelligence community of the United States and of many other nations, who acted on that intelligence for a number of years.

But it turns out there were no active stockpiles that anyone's been able to find yet, but that does not take away from the fact that his intention was clear, the capability -that he was going to make sure stayed intact- was there. And if anybody wants to bet that when he finally got out from under those sanctions, he would not have returned to the development of weapons of mass destruction and their production, that's a bet that the president of the United States was not going to take, nor was Prime Minster Howard or Prime Minister Blair or Mr. Berlusconi or Mr. Aznar and so many other leaders who came together to get rid of this despotic regime. It's not a question we have to worry about any more. Saddam Hussein is in jail, where he belongs.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, thanks very much for joining us.


Released on October 6, 2004

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