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Rice Interview Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace

Interview on Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
London, England
October 16, 2005

QUESTION: For more on the big news out of Iraq, we are joined now by the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is in London just finishing up a trip to Europe and Asia. Secretary Rice, welcome back to Fox News Sunday.

SECRETARY RICE: Good morning.

QUESTION: What do you make of the voter turnout yesterday, especially the strong turnout in some Sunni areas?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's very clear that the Iraqi people are now invested in this political process and I understand from people on the ground that as many as a million more people voted this time as in January, although obviously the numbers are still being reviewed. That's very good news. The numbers in the Sunni areas are very high. The Sunnis turned out in very large numbers.

And whatever happens with the referendum, Chris, the Iraqi people clearly are taking advantage of the political process to make their views known, and that's bad news for the terrorists.

QUESTION: From what you're hearing from your sources on the ground, do you believe that the referendum passed? And if it did over strong Sunni opposition, what does that mean for Iraq?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think we don't know the fate of the referendum at this point. They are still trying to the kind of exit analysis that would give them a sense of what areas voted in what numbers. But whatever happens with the referendum, the important matter is that the Iraqis have in large numbers gone out to vote in this process. Now, Chris, you can't say, well, you now have a chance to go and vote for the referendum, but if you vote no then, in fact, it's not democratic. The whole idea is that the Iraqis now get to voice their views.

But the constitution was one that demonstrated that the Sunnis -- the Shia and the Kurds were trying very hard to give their Sunni counterparts a reason to vote for the constitution up to the last few days before the referendum, and we will see if they succeeded. But the Sunnis are now invested in this process. The base of Iraqi politics has broadened.

QUESTION: You and other top U.S. officials have been saying all along that as the political situation stabilizes, so will security. But let me show you some figures. In January there was an average of 61 daily attacks by insurgents, in March a low of 45, but in June and all summer it was back up to 70, and last month the average number of daily attacks was the highest ever, at 90.

How can you be confident, Madame Secretary, that political progress will translate into less violence?

SECRETARY RICE: Chris, there's no doubt that a few violent people can make life really miserable for the majority of the Iraqi people. They can, in a cowardly fashion, kill young schoolchildren or go in and assassinate school teachers, as they have done, or attack the offices of the Iraqi Islamic Party after it said it would support the constitutional vote.

But they are not stopping the political process and that's bad for the insurgency because you defeat an insurgency not militarily, not just militarily, but politically as well. And clearly, the Iraqi people now believe that their future rests with this political process. There is no political base any longer for this insurgency. The Sunnis are joining the base of this broad political process. That will ultimately undo this insurgency. But of course they can still pull off violent and spectacular attacks.

One point, Chris, about the referendum itself is that Iraqi security forces, army and police, apparently performed very well and were able to protect polling places. There were fewer attacks during the referendum than during the elections in January. That is good news. The Iraqi security forces are growing in stature in the eyes of the people of Iraq and the Iraqi people, at great risk to themselves, are engaged in this political process. There was one wonderful story of an Iraqi poll worker in one of the tough Sunni areas who was hurt, was hurt by indirect mortar fire. He got himself fixed up and got right back into his polling station to help people vote.

So the Iraqis are taking this process seriously and we just need to help them have a chance.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, I know you want to be cautious, but you are being quoted by Associated Press as saying that you believe the constitution probably passed. Is that the way you feel about it?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the people on the ground say that there are some indications that it may have. But again, we are getting updates from the ground and I think we just have to wait and see what happens with the referendum.

QUESTION: You know, the big change this week -- let's talk about the constitution they actually voted on. The big change this week is that they agreed that there would be a -- allow amendments later next year. And also there are apparently 55 areas inside the constitution that they basically put off some of the key issues to be decided in future laws. What about the argument that this constitution basically pushes off the toughest issues and that they still have to be decided?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's not unknown in politics to decide and resolve what you can and to then give further processes a chance to resolve what could not be resolved. What they've done is they've created an excellent foundation in this constitution for individual rights, for a role for Islam that does not abridge individual democratic rights, for support in principle for federalism; and then they're going to allow the newly elected national assembly, which will undoubtedly be more broadly based than the current transitional assembly, to fill in some of the substance for this principles. They've also given themselves a chance, given all that has been changing in Iraq, to review how the constitution is affecting people's lives.

We have to remember, Chris, that Iraq was drawn on the fault line of Shia, Sunni and Arab politics and with Kurds and other minorities as a part of it. What's remarkable is that these people who for years managed their differences either through violence or through oppression are now managing that through politics and through compromise. And of course they're not going to be able to resolve everything. Just remember that in our own Constitution we didn't resolve everything initially either; it had to evolve over time. And that's what a political process -- a democratic political process -- allows you to do.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, as if this weren't enough, the trial of Saddam Hussein is due to start on Wednesday. Do you worry at all that at this volatile time in Iraq that this could further inflame the Sunnis?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it certainly is the case that the Iraqis have chosen the timing for this trial and it's going to be an emotional time for Iraqis. But the Sunnis with whom we talk will tell you that they do not accept responsibility as Sunnis for everything that the horrible Baathist Saddamist regime did. I think that Sunnis, too, believe that they suffered under Saddam's regime, and more importantly that they do not want to be associated somehow with what his regime did to Kurds and to Shia and to others.

So in that sense it's hopeful that the trial will, in fact, be a time for reconciliation, but it will undoubtedly be emotional and it will bring back a lot of bad memories. And the Iraqis will just have to manage through that.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, a new subject. Were you part of an effort in July of 2003 to discredit Ambassador Joe Wilson, who was a critic of the Bush Iraq policy?

SECRETARY RICE: I am not going to talk about, Chris, as you might imagine, an ongoing investigation. I have, like everybody else, cooperated with Prosecutor Fitzgerald and I'm quite certain that he will make his report. But I don't think that it's appropriate to comment about those events.

QUESTION: Now, when you say you've cooperated with the prosecutor, does that mean that, in fact, you spoke to investigators or to the grand jury?

SECRETARY RICE: I cooperated in all ways that I was -- all of the ways that I was asked to cooperate.

QUESTION: Another new subject. I know that you're a close friend of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, who has come under fire from conservatives in the last couple of weeks as an unqualified crony. Laura Bush said this week that she believed it's possible that sexism was behind some of these attacks. What do you think?

SECRETARY RICE: I know Harriet Miers very well, worked with her now for five years. She is a woman of extraordinary integrity and talent. She is the kind of person who, if there has been four arguments given, Harriet is going to look for the fifth. She's got a very probing mind and probing intellect.

And I think the problem is that people haven't gotten to know her. I think that when they get to know her in the hearings, in the confirmation hearings, that they're going to see a woman of extraordinary talent, extraordinary integrity and somebody who would be an extraordinary Supreme Court Justice.

QUESTION: From your dealings, and you say you've worked closely with her for the five years of the Administration so far, did you ever hear her express a conservative judicial philosophy?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Harriet and I worked on matters of international policy, obviously, because that was my role, and she was at one time Deputy Chief of Staff. Before that she was Staff Secretary and for a short time when I was in the White House she was Counsel. So that was what we covered. But I know her as somebody who's just of enormous integrity and I think who would be a great Supreme Court Justice: thoughtful and careful and very dedicated to the Constitution.

QUESTION: There have been questions raised about her qualifications for the job. In dealing with her on international issues, did she have to deal with matters that involved the Constitution?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, of course, we dealt all the time with the relative war powers of the President. There's a time when we were looking at a lot of difficult issues concerning that and I always found Harriet, as I said, somebody who if there were four arguments on the table she was going to go after the fifth. She's got a really probing intellect and I think people are going to see that when she's up for confirmation.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, were you involved in any way in the process in which she was chosen?

SECRETARY RICE: Chris, I'm not in the habit of recommending Supreme Court Justice nominees for the President, but I was delighted that Harriet was chosen.

QUESTION: Finally, Secretary Rice, I want to show you a commercial that is running right now in Iowa. Here it is. Let's take a look:

"She's a woman who isn't afraid to speak her mind. She'll speak on Iraq, America's role in the world, 9/11 and even abortion."

"Great. I like her, too. You know, she's intelligent and she's educated Presidents for years."

Secretary, what do you think of this group, Americans for Rice, that is trying to launch a draft Condoleezza Rice movement?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, obviously I'm flattered that somebody thinks of me in those terms. But, Chris, I haven't ever run for anything. I don't have any desire to run for anything. I didn't even run for high school president. And so I know my role. I've got a lot of work to do as Secretary of State. We've got a lot of issues, a lot of tough issues, but a lot of opportunities, too. And then I think unless I go to the NFL, I'm headed back to Stanford to teach.

QUESTION: Are they wasting their money buying and putting up those ads?

SECRETARY RICE: Chris, it's very -- obviously it's flattering and I appreciate people who think of me in those terms, but that's not what I'm going to do in life.

QUESTION: Well, let me just press this one more time. Political strategist Dick Morris says that you are the only person in America who can stop Hillary Clinton from becoming President. Is that enough to get you to change your mind and run for President?

SECRETARY RICE: Chris, I am quite certain that there are going to be really fine candidates for President from our party and I'm looking forward to seeing them and perhaps supporting them. But my job is to try to advance American foreign policy, to try to advance the President's agenda on democracy and human rights, to try to help resolve difficult issues like North Korea and to work with our friends and allies on wonderful days like today when we see the Iraqi people turn out in large numbers against all kinds of threats in an effort to finally get their democratic aspirations met.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, we want to thank you, as always, for talking with us, and safe travels home.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much Chris.


Released on October 16, 2005


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