World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Rice on CBS Early Show With Harry Smith

Interview on CBS Early Show With Harry Smith

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
December 16, 2005

QUESTION: Good morning, Madame Secretary.

SECRETARY RICE: Good morning, Harry.

QUESTION: This can't be viewed as anything less than a success as far as this election is concerned: Shiites, Kurds, most importantly, Sunnis voted. Can you calculate this morning what it means to the future of this country?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, this is just such a strong confirmation of the Iraqi people's determination to have a better future, of their commitment to democracy. Now, Harry, so many of the pictures were just very heartening. I saw a picture this morning of a blind man being led by his family to vote, little children dipping their fingers in the inkwell because their parents were telling them that this was something special, a woman who talked about how important this was to her and she herself was an election worker and she wanted to thank America for her new opportunity.

This really is a remarkable fresh start for the Iraqi people who've suffered too long under tyranny, who've suffered too long under conflict. And even though they have a difficult road ahead, this is a very happy day for the Iraqi people, and I think the American people should be proud of our part in helping them get to this moment.

QUESTION: So much of the insurgency in Iraq is rooted in the Sunni community. Does this mean -- can you read this in any way -- does this mean that the Sunnis are going to choose ballots instead of bullets?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think certainly the Sunnis have demonstrated that they believe that this political process is now the way to express their interest and to secure their own futures. As you know, Harry, Sunnis didn't vote in the January election and I think they've regretted it ever since. Their leaders went out this time, even the most -- some of the hardest line factions in the Sunni community went out -- religious leaders -- telling people to vote. Some of the insurgents said that they would not attack the voting.

Now, the Iraqi people and particularly Iraqi political leaders now have a heavy responsibility to make Iraq a country in which all Iraqis are represented. I'm quite certain that the parliament now elected in these elections is going to be much more representative. But all Iraqis now are going to have to work to make this a true national compact so that everyone can be included. But the Sunnis clearly chose politics this time.

SECRETARY RICE: The President admitted this week in a speech that the intelligence he based his decision to go to war in Iraq on was, in fact, wrong. You were his National Security Advisor at the time. Do you bear any responsibility as well?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, of course, we all wish that we had had better intelligence. The intelligence agencies, I think, were doing perhaps their best in a situation in which you had a very secretive government that wouldn't answer the questions that the international community was asking of it. The intelligence had been gathered over a 12-year period. The United States had based its policies on that intelligence for that entire 12-year period. And the view that Saddam Hussein was actively seeking weapons of mass destruction was a view that was held widely around the world.

But of course, all of us are responsible for the decisions that were made. The most important thing, though, is that you saw yesterday that the decision to remove Saddam Hussein was a right decision. It was not only an important decision morally, but strategically, to have an Iraq that is now voting and that is now solving its differences with politics, not with conflict and violence. It's going to make a huge difference to the Middle East.

QUESTION: Let me ask you quickly, the White House changed direction yesterday and decided to support John McCain's torture ban. Why did they decide to change their minds and is that helpful to you in the international arena?

SECRETARY RICE: What is helpful, as the President said yesterday, is that it is a real clear message to the world that the United States, as I said last week to my European counterpart, does not condone torture, would never condone torture, is a country of rule of law. This is a democratic system working and Senator McCain worked tirelessly with the Administration to get to legislation that will allow us both to protect the American people, which is the first obligation of any government, and to do so within our laws and within our international obligations. And I think we had a good day yesterday in that regard.

QUESTION: Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State of the United States, we thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us this morning. Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. It's great to be with you. 2005/1177

Released on December 16, 2005


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN: Bachelet Alarmed By Number Of Palestinian Children Killed In Latest Escalation

UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet today expressed alarm at the high number of Palestinians, including children, killed and injured in the occupied Palestinian territory this year, including in intense hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza last weekend... More>>

Save The Children: One Year Under Taliban Rule, Girls Are More Isolated, Hungry, Sad: New Report
One year since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, an economic crisis, crippling drought and new restrictions have shattered girls’ lives, excluding them from society and leaving them hungry...

Palestinian Ministry of Health: Developments In The Health Situation During The Israeli Aggression On The Cities & Governorates Of The Gaza Strip
For the second day in a row, the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip continues by targeting overcrowded residential areas and neighborhoods, as the death toll rose to 13 citizens, including a 5-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman... More>>

Somalia: ‘We Cannot Wait For Famine To Be Declared; We Must Act Now’
Rising acute food insecurity in Somalia has caused more than 900,000 people to flee their homes in search of humanitarian assistance since January last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned... More>>

UN: American West Faces Water And Power Shortages Due To Climate Crisis
Two of the largest reservoirs in the United States are at dangerously low levels due to the climate crisis and overconsumption of water, which could affect water and electricity supply for millions in six western states and Mexico, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warned on Tuesday... More>>

Singapore: UN Experts Call For Immediate Moratorium On Executions For Drug Offences

UN experts* today condemned the execution of Nazeri Bin Lajim, a 64-year-old Malay Singaporean national convicted of drug offenses and urged the Government of Singapore to halt plans to execute individuals on death row for drug related charges... More>>