13 September 2001
Transcript: Powell Pleased with Coalition-Building Results
(Secretary briefs on State Department activities against terrorism )
The United States is "getting a solid expression not only of
condolences and support, but of action," in its efforts to build an
international coalition against terrorism, Secretary of State Colin
Powell told reporters at the State Department September 13.
Updating reporters on the work of the State Department over the last
24 hours, Powell said he was very pleased with the coalition-building
results so far achieved.
He especially noted the approval by the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which
states that an armed attack against one or more of the Allies in
Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them
all, and the approval by the UN Security Council of a resolution that,
he said, "expresses the UN Security Council's determination and its
readiness to take all necessary steps to respond to the September 11th
attacks in accordance with the UN charter."
Powell said he was also pleased with the response of the European
Union, and the response of all of the other international
organizations that have come forward.
President Bush "has been on the phone constantly, as have I, talking
to leaders around the world," Powell said.
"And we are getting a solid expression not only of condolences and
support, but of action. They want to work with us -- not only in this
specific case of what happened on the 11th of September, but in
response to the general recognition that terrorism is a crime against
all civilization. Terrorism is a crime against all humanity. It knows
no ethnic, religious or other national or geographic boundaries. And
we must see it in that context and that's why we are calling it a
war," Powell said.
He also expressed regrets to other nations "who have lost precious
lives in this tragic occurrence on the 11th. We are focusing of course
on Americans, but we also have seen that Great Britain thinks they
have lost 100 people; I've heard from Australians, Japanese, South
Koreans, Mexicans, Irish nationals, Israelis and many others who
worked in this World Trade Center. And our sympathy goes to not only
these victims who will be in our prayers, but our sympathies go to
their families," Powell said.
Asked about Pakistan in a question and answer session following his
opening remarks, Powell said "We have provided to the Pakistani
Government a specific list of things that we think would be useful for
them to work on with us, and I will be discussing that list with the
President of Pakistan later this afternoon."
Powell said "we are assembling the evidence that will tell us, in a
way that the world will fully concur with us, who is responsible for
this. And when we have done that, we will announce it. And at that
point, we will go after that group, that network, and those who have
harbored, supported and aided that network, to rip the network up. And
when we're through with that network, we will continue with a global
assault against terrorism in general."
Following is the State Department transcript:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
September 13, 2001
ON-THE-RECORD BRIEFING BY SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN L. POWELL
September 13, 2001
SECRETARY POWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I thought I
would come down and give you an update on the activities of the
Department over the last 24 hours since last we spoke.
Let me begin by first expressing our regrets to other nations who have
lost precious lives in this tragic occurrence on the 11th. We are
focusing of course on Americans, but we also have seen that Great
Britain thinks they have lost 100 people; I've heard from Australians,
Japanese, South Koreans, Mexicans, Irish nationals, Israelis and many
others who worked in this World Trade Center. And our sympathy goes to
not only these victims who will be in our prayers, but our sympathies
go to their families.
In the last 24 hours, we have continued to work on our
coalition-building effort, and I am very pleased with the results we
have been able to achieve. We spoke about NATO Article V yesterday.
The UN Security Council resolution, I think, is an especially
effective resolution in that it calls on all states to participate and
expresses the UN Security Council's determination and its readiness to
take all necessary steps to respond to the September 11th attacks in
accordance with the UN charter. By that language it gives us the
ability, and any nation the ability, to put forward on the agenda for
Security Council deliberation any other issues related to this attack
that we might want the Security Council to take up.
I am very pleased also with the response of the European Union, with
all of the other international organizations who have come forward and
responded in one way or another. The President has been on the phone
constantly, as have I, talking to leaders around the world. And we are
getting a solid expression not only of condolences and support, but of
action. They want to work with us -- not only in this specific case of
what happened on the 11th of September, but in response to the general
recognition that terrorism is a crime against all civilization.
Terrorism is a crime against all humanity. It knows no ethnic,
religious or other national or geographic boundaries. And we must see
it in that context and that's why we are calling it a war.
I have also been on the phone within the last two hours with Prime
Minister Sharon and Chairman Arafat and with Foreign Minister Shimon
Peres of Israel trying to move forward the process of a cease-fire in
the region, trying to begin those meetings that we have been talking
about, which would lead to implementation of the Mitchell Plan. I am
still hopeful that something can be done in the next several days to
have that first meeting, and we will be in close touch with the
leaders as the next days unfold.
In addition to the United Nations Security Council resolution, I
mention the General Assembly has passed its Resolution, 56-1. We will
be having a meeting with the Russians in the near future, when Mr.
Armitage, Deputy Secretary Armitage, travels to Moscow next week. And
Richard Boucher will give you an announcement on that a little later
for the US-Russian working group meeting on Afghanistan.
We have been in very close touch with the Pakistani Government. Deputy
Secretary Armitage met with the Pakistani representatives again this
morning, and I expect to speak with President Musharraf in the very
near future, in the next several hours, if I am able to reach him, to
discuss the situation and exchange views on the situation in the
Our embassies are all hard at work. There have been some closures, and
they go down and come back up in response to threat conditions, but
our plan is to be actively engaged around the world and not let this
heightened sense of tension affect our ability to do our job. And so
we are encouraging all of our ambassadors to do smart things, to take
all necessary safety precautions and to make sure their security is
intact, but at the same time to continue doing America's business
throughout the world.
I think I will stop at that point and take your questions.
QUESTION: Could I pursue Pakistan with you a bit? The President there
has made some general statement about cooperation. What does the
United States want from Pakistan? And frankly, I am confused whether
the US sees Pakistan as an ally or, as the Patterns of Global
Terrorism pointed out, a place where terrorist groups get training --
or is it a mixture?
SECRETARY POWELL: We have provided to the Pakistani Government a
specific list of things that we think would be useful for them to work
on with us, and I will be discussing that list with the President of
Pakistan later this afternoon.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, as you said, since the attacks you have been
receiving lots of messages of condolence, lots of statements of
condemnation about the attacks, some that appear to be solicited like
this morning from the Pakistanis who seem to be falling all over
themselves to condemn terrorism in all its forms, but also some
unsolicited ones like, I assume, from the Cubans, from the Libyans,
from the North Koreans.
But of all of the seven countries on the State Department's state
sponsors list, only one of them, I believe, has not condemned this,
has not said anything. Does it raise any red flags with you that
Saddam Hussein and Iraq have been silent about this?
SECRETARY POWELL: I am not surprised. He is one of the leading
terrorists on the face of the Earth, and I would not expect the
slightest drop of the milk of human kindness to be flowing in his
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, could you talk about links between Iraq and
Usama bin Laden?
SECRETARY POWELL: No, I would not. If I were able to talk about such a
matter, I don't think I would do it here.
QUESTION: Secretary Powell, you keep talking about this specific list
provided to Pakistan. When you talk to them later, when Secretary
Armitage talks to them later or you talk to them, will it be, "You
have to do everything on this list or you're against us"? The United
States keeps putting out this you're-with-us-or-you're-against us --
SECRETARY POWELL: Pakistan is a friendly country. We have had friendly
relations with Pakistan for many, many years. Those relationships have
had ups and downs as a result of various things that have happened
over the years. But right now we have friendly relations with
Pakistan, and I have spoken to the President of Pakistan over the
months and we had a very good conversation just a month or so ago. And
so I will approach this as if I am talking to a friend and let a
friend know what we would like to see happen in order to improve the
situation in the region and the situation in the world. And I hope
that the president will respond as friend.
Our initial indications are that he will. He put out a very fine
statement that you have a copy of. It's general and we will get more
specifics on it. And our ambassador who went in yesterday -- we got a
report of her discussions with him after she presented her
credentials. She just arrived. And he gave her a strong expression of
support, the kind of expression of support that you would expect from
a friend who is trying to help us during this time of trial.
QUESTION: Just to follow that, will you be asking the President of
Pakistan to have US troops stationed in Pakistan if you choose that --
SECRETARY POWELL: I really don't want to get into what I might or I
might not be asking the President of Pakistan until I have asked the
President of Pakistan.
QUESTION: But, Secretary Powell, it sounds as if what you're saying is
that up until now you've been hearing very positive statements. But
that now it's sort of time to put their money where their mouth is?
SECRETARY POWELL: I wouldn't characterize it quite that crudely,
QUESTION: I'm sorry; I'm not a diplomat.
SECRETARY POWELL: Some say neither am I. (Laughter.) But the fact of
the matter is, we're going to have a responsible, sober discussion
with the Pakistani Government, and when the results of those
discussions are complete, and we have something to present to you, I
assure you I will present it to you.
QUESTION: Why all the focus on Pakistan? Why is it so --
SECRETARY POWELL: We are focusing on everything and everybody. We are
looking at those terrorist organizations that have the kind of
capacity that would have been necessary to conduct the attack that we
saw on the 11th. We haven't yet publicly identified the organization
we believe was responsible. But when you look at the list of
candidates, one resides in that region.
So without waiting for the whole body of evidence to be ready for us
to make a judgment and a presentation to you, I think we are acting in
a prudent way by talking to those governments in the region.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you tell us what you expect Under
Secretary Armitage to get out of his talks with the Russians on
Afghanistan? Are you asking for a very specific kind of help?
SECRETARY POWELL: We have not yet put together the agenda, but what
impressed me is that Foreign Minister Ivanov, when I spoke to him the
other day, was anxious for this meeting to take place. Deputy
Secretary Armitage has spoken to his counterpart in Moscow, and two
conversations that President Putin had with President Bush suggest to
me that they are ready for active discussions. But I don't have the
specific agenda with me right now.
QUESTION: The Russians know Afghanistan very well from their time in
the '80s. They will be able to be helpful on topography, installations
-- what kinds of things?
SECRETARY POWELL: I am sure they will be helpful on many things. It's
their neighborhood. They do have a great deal of experience in
Afghanistan, and we will draw on all of that experience.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the reports, as of 1:00 a.m., that bin Laden was
reported under house arrest by the Taliban, also two leaders, one an
Egyptian and a military commander. If so, where would we ask -- would
we ask The Hague for extradition to the world court? What would we do?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I have seen those reports, but I have also
seen subsequent reports that say the first reports are not accurate.
So let me not speculate on what is at the moment just rumor.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, do you know if David Donahue is still on
Kabul? We haven't heard that he has left. I don't think -- maybe you
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know. I'll let Richard -- he's left, okay.
QUESTION: Okay, let me -- my question is, are we having talks with the
Taliban in Islamabad? They are said to be desperate to avoid a US
attack, and perhaps ready to talk about things they weren't ready for
SECRETARY POWELL: We have ways of talking to them, and we're exploring
those ways now. And we also want to make sure exactly what it is we
wish to present to them as items of discussion, and not just general
QUESTION: Do you get the sense they're more flexible and possibly
SECRETARY POWELL: I wouldn't say that yet.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what kind of leverage do we have with
Pakistan? They are sanctioned up to the eyeballs; we give them very,
very little aid anymore. What can we possibly offer them that would
make them cooperative in this case?
SECRETARY POWELL: You kind of said it in your question there,
"sanctioned up to the eyeballs." And they don't have that much aid
now. But I think that we have been exploring with the Pakistani
Government many ways that we can move forward in the relationship, and
we want to do so.
QUESTION: Mr. Powell, are you delivering an ultimatum to the Taliban
to deliver bin Laden, or else to face the wrath of the United States?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think I said that. What I'm saying is that
we are assembling the evidence that will tell us, in a way that the
world will fully concur with us, who is responsible for this. And when
we have done that, we will announce it. And at that point, we will go
after that group, that network, and those who have harbored, supported
and aided that network, to rip the network up. And when we're through
with that network, we will continue with a global assault against
terrorism in general.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the list for Pakistan, does it include only
requests for assistance in terrorism to wrap up this network that
you're talking about? Or does it go broader than that?
SECRETARY POWELL: I would rather not characterize or comment on the
list until we have had a chance to discuss it with the Pakistanis in
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, just for the record, when you spoke of the
candidate who resides in that region, were you speaking of Usama bin
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.
QUESTION: Could you answer a question about Iran -- we've hopscotched
all around. There are two significant factors here. As of January
there were several, if not more than a dozen Shia Saudis training in
aircraft and piloting down in Florida. Usama is a Sunni -- and not a
Shia. He has no attachments to Iran and Iran has a close attachment to
-- possible attachment to the Al Khobar bombing, as you know. Are we
barking up the wrong tree here?
SECRETARY POWELL: We are barking up every tree that's out there. We're
going to find the right tree with what happened on the 11th of
September. But we also recognize that there are other groups out there
that mean us no good, which have conducted attacks previously against
US personnel, US interests and our allies. And the point we've been
trying to make over the last several days is, with the severity of
this tragedy in Washington and New York against America, we now have
to use this tragedy and respond to those and take care of those who
are responsible for it. But at the same time we should see this in a
broader sense that this is a horrible blight on the civilized world.
And so we will also be focusing on other organizations, terrorist
organizations that go after us, our citizens, our interests and
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.
QUESTION: You spoke about building a coalition and you talk about
tools such as the NATO Article V and the UN resolution, are you
speaking about war in a legal sense? Are you ready to declare war on
this candidate, Usama bin Laden? Or another candidate? And are you
expecting these organizations to join you much as you did during the
Gulf War in such a war? And are you worried that using the language of
war would carry with it specific guidelines as per war that you're not
willing or able to follow?
SECRETARY POWELL: I am speaking about war; the President is speaking
about war as a way of focusing the energy of America and the energy of
the international community against this kind of activity. And war in
some cases may be military action, but it can also be economic action,
political action, diplomatic action and financial actions. All sorts
of things can be used to prosecute a campaign, to prosecute a war. And
we will be looking at every tool that we have, every weapon that we
have to go after terrorism and to go after these specific
And in building a coalition of the kind we are building now -- and
it's not that it will be a new organization, but between the UN and
between the EU and NATO and a number of other organizations that
Richard can give you a list of who have come forward -- we will not do
it in such a way that if the United States feels a need to act alone,
by itself, we will not be constrained by the fact that we are working
with others as well.
But at the same time, because we are working with others, there may
well come along specific things that can be done by all of us
together. I think we all can agree that these kinds of organizations
should be isolated -- financially, legally, in terms of getting into
safe haven countries. So there are many things we can do together.
There may be some things that the United States has to do alone, and
we will always reserve the right to do that.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, several people in the Administration have
talked about the need for an increase in intelligence. Can you say
whether this bureau will be come more involved in the collection of
SECRETARY POWELL: This bureau?
QUESTION: This building.
SECRETARY POWELL: This building?
QUESTION: Your building.
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. I mean, we are in a sense one of the major
accumulators of information in the national security community through
our representation around the world, and we will hopefully do
everything we can to enhance our ability to collect and to analyze
information in our bureau, working as, I think, a very, very important
member of the overall intelligence community within Washington, yes.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, among the options that I understand the
Administration is considering is ground forces, special operations
forces going into Afghanistan if it's proven that they are
responsible. The other thing that I had heard was that on the table is
the use of tactical nuclear weapons.
Are they on the table, Mr. Secretary?
SECRETARY POWELL: I have no idea where you are getting this kind of
speculation from. I have never heard any such discussion.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, how does the United States draw the line
between the sort of heavy massive retaliation that many Americans seem
to want, on the one hand, versus wanton, excessive destruction and the
killing of innocents, on the other? And has in this case -- has this
development, this terrorist act, created a situation where the US
concern about collateral damage has now gone down?
SECRETARY POWELL: We always have to be concerned about collateral
damage because we don't want to kill innocent civilians in the
prosecution of any of our combat operations. I won't speculate on what
kind of military actions might or might not be appropriate in the
future, but we will always try to do all of our military actions while
minimizing collateral damage.
The kinds of organizations that conduct these terrorist activities
make for difficult targets. It is not as if you are going after an
army in the field are you are trying to destroy cities or fixed
installations. They are also a thinking enemy. They know that they
have done, they know when they are going to do it, and they know what
consequences might be coming back in their direction.
So you have to consider you are dealing with a very, very skilled,
knowledgeable, thinking enemy. And we just have to think better than
them, think faster than them, and be cleverer than them in order to
respond in a sensible way with all of the weapons at our disposal, and
one of those weapons is military force used in an appropriate way. It
is not so much the size of whatever military response you might have,
but does it do the job, does it get to the heart of the problem?
The President has made it clear that he doesn't see that this is going
to be resolved with one single act, but it is a long-term campaign,
which is why we are characterizing it as a war -- if not in the
technically legal sense of war, but in a sense that the American
people understand and the people of the world understand.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, in this new initiative against terrorism, can
you specifically say how US counter-terrorism policy has changed from
last week? As you know, we have a number of multilateral agreements
already on terrorism; how is it going to change?
SECRETARY POWELL: We have quite a number of multilateral agreements.
We are looking at some of them right away, for the purpose of
upgrading them, for putting new energy and resources into them. And so
I would say what has changed is everything, is the 11th of September,
when we see what really can happen if we don't get on this problem. We
will recover from this; we will be a stronger nation, a resilient
nation, a determined nation.
And so we are going to use everything at our disposal, to include the
kind of organizations that you just described, to respond, to
counterattack, to destroy this blight on the world, to win this war.
And we will come up with new policies, we will come up with new
procedures, we will come up with new organizations, we will come up
with whatever it takes to prevail on this conflict, as the President
(The briefing was concluded at 1:25 p.m.)
(end State Department transcript)
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