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16 September 2001

Transcript: Powell Says U.S. Will Demand Cooperation from Taliban Against bin Laden

(Secretary of State discusses anti-terrorist campaign on CNN's Late
Edition) (4,440)
Secretary of State Colin Powell says that Usama bin Laden's al-Qaida
terrorist organization is the "prime suspect" in the September 11
attacks on the United States, and that in the days ahead the United
States will insist that the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan comply
with United Nations and other directives to expel and help to destroy
the group.
Speaking September 16 on CNN's Late Edition news program, Powell said
Taliban leaders "will have to make their choice -- whether they want
to be on the receiving end of the full wrath of the United States and
others, or whether they want to get rid of this curse that they have
within their country. ... It's binary -- yes or no. You either respond
to this crisis, this tragedy, this horrible thing that was perpetrated
by perhaps al-Qaida and Usama bin Laden. And all, all the indications
point in that direction. You either respond and rip them up, help us
rip them up, get rid of them, or you will suffer consequences."
Asked what the consequences might be, Powell said "We have a variety
of means at our disposal, which are political, diplomatic,
international, military, intelligence -- lots of things that are
available to us. All the elements of national power will be brought to
bear on this problem."
As to other countries that may have tolerated terrorist activity
within their borders, Powell said "we are saying to them, not
necessarily a warning, but saying to them, look, this is the time to
end this. Whatever host support you have been providing to this
network, stop it. There are UN resolutions and there are other
directions from international communities that these things should be
ejected from your country, these kinds of cells, this kind of
activity.
"And we are just going to remind them of their responsibilities and
let them know it will be a means by which we measure our relationship
with them in the future. It's not necessarily a warning; it's just a
clear statement of fact and principle. We are going after them
[terrorists], and you can either help us go after them, and if you
choose not to help us go after them, this will have an effect on the
relationship that we have with you."
Powell said the defined mission of the anti-terrorist campaign now
getting under way is "To make sure that nothing like this happens
again; and to make sure nothing like this happens again by going after
the sources, the terrorist sources and those who harbor terrorist
activities and terrorist groups; and destroying those networks, those
groups; and making sure it is no longer in anyone's interest to harbor
or provide haven to such groups."
The strategy required to accomplish the mission, he said, will require
political, diplomatic, intelligence, law enforcement, financial and
military effort. "Nobody should think this is going to be we go in and
it's over in two days and we're out," he said. "This is going to
change the way we do business. It's going to change the way we go
about our daily life here in the United States. It is going to require
a greater emphasis on homeland defense [and] all the elements of
national power that are at our disposal."
Following is a transcript of the Powell interview released by the
State Department:
(begin transcript)
Interview on CNN's Late Edition
Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
September 16, 2001
MR. BLITZER: Now let's go back to the diplomatic effort involving the
United States to try to put together a coalition against terrorism.
Earlier today I spoke with the Secretary of State, Colin Powell.
Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for joining us. Who is responsible
for these attacks?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, the prime suspect, I think, is the al-Qaida
organization, which is essentially a holding company of terrorist
organizations that have worldwide presence. And the head of the
al-Qaida organization is Usama bin Laden.
Now, the evidence is still mounting but certainly that organization,
al-Qaida, is the prime suspect.
MR. BLITZER: Do you believe that other terrorist organizations were
cooperating with al-Qaida and Usama bin Laden?
SECRETARY POWELL: We don't have enough information yet to make that
case, but we are looking at every lead we have. Right now, the prime
suspect is al-Qaida, which is headed by Usama bin Laden.
MR. BLITZER: Is there any evidence that any state in the region or
around the world may have supported, financed, directed, this
operation?
SECRETARY POWELL: We have not seen any such links yet, but you can
believe we are working hard to see whether such links exist.
MR. BLITZER: How do you do that? How do you find out if there are such
links?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, as you know, the FBI and other agencies of
government are hard at work. Some 4,000 FBI agents are working on
this. And as they look at those 19 terrorists who killed themselves
September 11th, they will start to turn up leads. And they'll follow
those leads and follow them wherever it takes them, one, to make sure
there are no other terrorists loose in the country, and, if there,
let's get after them and get on them and roll it up; and also, to find
out the origins of this group and to go after those origins and pull
up the sources and to find those who gave them haven, those who gave
them support, those who gave them financial support, and start ripping
up this entire network.
That is why we keep saying it's going to be a long-term campaign
against this enemy, whether it is al-Qaida or any other terrorist
organization that comes after us, our interests, or, frankly, those
after the civilized world.
MR. BLITZER: When you say long term, how long?
SECRETARY POWELL: We're probably going to be in the counter-terrorism
business at a very high level of intensity for as long as anyone can
imagine, as long as there are people out there who are willing to do
the kinds of things those terrorists did this week, then we're going
to have to be on guard and constantly looking for them, trying to
penetrate them and trying to stop them -- and not just respond to
them, but to stop them; get ahead of them, to get inside their
decision cycle.
MR. BLITZER: This is not weeks or months, but this is years?
SECRETARY POWELL: No, no. In the near term we will go after the
specific organization responsible for what happened at the World Trade
Center, at the Pentagon. And we'll get the evidence and we'll get the
goods on them. And we'll go after them. And we've already started
that. You've seen the diplomatic effort that we've made over the last
four or five days, which has produced results already. And then we
will do whatever is necessary to take care of this organization and
make sure they are not able to commit this kind of offense against us
again and against the civilized world.
It's important to remember that it's not just US citizens who were
lost here. Some 40 countries lost people in the World Trade Center.
And they are all outraged. The whole world is outraged over this kind
of terrorist incident. And it has to be a worldwide response, a
worldwide campaign using all the tools that are available to the
United States and available to like-minded nations around the world
who see this as a scourge on the face of the Earth to do something
about it.
MR. BLITZER: As you know, Usama bin Laden and al-Qaida, his
organization, have operated within Afghanistan, supported -- if you
will -- by the Taliban regime over there. The United States
occasionally talks to the Taliban leadership. What are you saying to
them right now?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we're not talking to them right now. But I
expect we will be in the days ahead. And we are going to make it clear
to them that they must comply with previous directions they have
received from the United Nations and other organizations to stop this,
to expel this organization, to destroy this organization, or to help
us to destroy this organization. And they will be held accountable for
the support they have given to this organization if that's who we
finally determine is responsible and we are going after them.
They will have to make their choice -- whether they want to be on the
receiving end of the full wrath of the United States and others, or
whether they want to get rid of this curse that they have within their
country.
MR. BLITZER: Do you have any expectation that they will change their
policy and cooperate now with the US and the west and arrest, if you
will, Usama bin Laden?
SECRETARY POWELL: I'm not carrying an expectation. The only thing I'm
looking for is results. They either do or they don't. It's binary --
yes or no. You either respond to this crisis, this tragedy, this
horrible thing that was perpetrated by perhaps al-Qaida and Usama bin
Laden. And all, all the indications point in that direction. You
either respond and rip them up, help us rip them up, get rid of them,
or you will suffer consequences.
MR. BLITZER: Now, specifically what does that mean to the Taliban, who
may be watching right now?
SECRETARY POWELL: They will  -- 
MR. BLITZER: What kind of consequences will they suffer?
SECRETARY POWELL: They will suffer consequences. We have a variety of
means at our disposal, which are political, diplomatic, international,
military, intelligence -- lots of things that are available to us. All
the elements of national power will be brought to bear on this
problem.
The Taliban have a problem right now in hosting this kind of regime,
in the form of the al-Qaida regime, the al-Qaida network, and those
who support the al-Qaida network. And they will have to make a choice
as to whether or not they are willing to pay the price that they may
have to pay to continue to support this kind of activity.
MR. BLITZER: As you well know, there have been reports over the years
that this organization, al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden's troops and forces,
have also operated in Yemen, in Sudan, and other countries. Are you
giving them the same warning?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. We are talking to all of our friends and
partners in this coalition. And what we are saying to them, not
necessarily a warning, but saying to them, look, this is the time to
end this. Whatever host support you have been providing to this
network, stop it. There are UN resolutions and there are other
directions from international communities that these things should be
ejected from your country, these kinds of cells, this kind of
activity.
And we are just going to remind them of their responsibilities and let
them know it will be a means by which we measure our relationship with
them in the future. It's not necessarily a warning; it's just a clear
statement of fact and principle. We are going after them, and you can
either help us go after them, and if you choose not to help us go
after them, this will have an effect on the relationship that we have
with you.
MR. BLITZER: There are reports this morning that the Government of
Pakistan is now about to send a delegation into Afghanistan and demand
the arrest of Usama bin Laden. Did you ask Pakistan to do that?
SECRETARY POWELL: We have asked Pakistan for a number of things. I
have seen that report, and our Ambassador in Islamabad is in touch
with Pakistani authorities. And I know the Pakistani Ambassador will
be on your show a little later this morning. But I cannot confirm yet
exactly what the Pakistanis might be doing tomorrow.
I know that there is movement in such a direction, and I know that the
Pakistanis have made some contacts in the UN on such a move. But we
will wait to see, but I am not in a position right now to confirm it.
MR. BLITZER: Have you been in direct touch -- I know the President has
spoken to President Musharraf, Pervez Musharraf, the leader of
Pakistan. What specifically has the United States asked Pakistan to
do?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, as you know, the President did speak to him
yesterday. I spoke to President Musharraf several days earlier and
Deputy Secretary Armitage spoke to some associates of the president
who were in town. And we gave them a list of things that we thought
they should be responsive to, and we would be giving them greater
specificity with respect to what we wanted off that list in due
course.
But since that is a matter of, as you can imagine, sensitive
diplomatic discussions between the two sides, I think it's best that
we follow up on that list. They have come forward with a very
supportive statement. They have said yes. And President Musharraf said
that to President Bush against last night. And so what we now have to
do is send a team to Islamabad as soon as we have a better idea of
what we will need and what kind of support might be required, and talk
directly to our Pakistani friends.
MR. BLITZER: When will that team leave, and who will head the
delegation?
SECRETARY POWELL: It's not yet been decided, but I am sure it will not
be in the distant future -- I would expect in the very near future,
the next several days. And we will put the team together and determine
who the head will be, and when they go over they will also be working
with our ambassador, Ambassador Wendy Chamberlain, who has been doing
such a great job over the last four days.
MR. BLITZER: One of the statements issued by the Government of
Pakistan is that they will cooperate as long as you don't get the
Israelis and the Indians -- the Government of Israel and the
Government of India involved in this because presumably they would be
embarrassed. What is your reaction to that?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we'll see what their position is. We'll talk
to them. And right now, you know, we are not planning a -- we do not
have a multi-national force going anywhere yet. And so we understand
the sensitivities that would be involved in anything that might
involve India or Israel. And we will take those sensitivities into
account. At the end of the day we will do what we think is appropriate
and necessary.
MR. BLITZER: Have the Pakistanis agreed to allow the US to go over
their air space with missiles or with planes if, in fact, there is
going to be a military operation aimed at Afghanistan?
SECRETARY POWELL: What we are going to do is sit down with the
Pakistanis and discuss with them what we might need. I don't want to
give any indication or hints as to what might or might not be planned
as a military operation or a diplomatic operation or any kind of
international initiative at this time.
MR. BLITZER: What about their ground positions as staging points? Or
their ports for US naval vessels to --
SECRETARY POWELL: We have not approached them yet on any specific
requirements. And when we do it will be in a confidential channel so
we are not giving any indication of what we might or might not be
doing militarily.
MR. BLITZER: If you look at the map of Afghanistan, it's landlocked.
To the north is Uzbekistan, one of the republics of the former Soviet
Union. Is there any need for cooperation, for example, from
Uzbekistan?
SECRETARY POWELL: We will be talking to the Uzbek authorities. There
may be something they can assist us with. But we will explore that
with them. They have been forthcoming.
MR. BLITZER: And as you know to the west is Iran. Any prospect at all
of seeking and receiving cooperation from Iran?
SECRETARY POWELL: Iran has always had difficulty with the Taliban
regime and recognized the nature of that regime. And they gave a
rather forthcoming statement of condolence and how there might be ways
of cooperating with us in the response to what happened. But at the
same time we have always seen Iran as a state that sponsors terrorism.
So we will explore what they have said to us without making any
commitments, of course.
And if they are interested in fighting terrorism, it has to be
terrorism not just related to this incident but terrorism of the kind
that they have sponsored in the past. So if this represents a new page
in Iranian thinking, then let's see what's written on that new page.
But we're prepared to explore. But we have no illusions about the
nature of the Iranian regime.
MR. BLITZER: So you would want them specifically, for example, to back
off in their support of Hezbollah?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, they can't say we will help you fighting
terrorism here but we will not help you fighting terrorism elsewhere.
Terrorism is terrorism. And Hezbollah is a threat to the region, just
as al-Qaida is a threat to the world. And I think we have to see this
not only as a struggle against what happened the other day and a
struggle against al-Qaida, if that's who we ultimately determine we
should go against. But there are other acts of terrorism that take
place perpetrated by other terrorist organizations. And so it is a
scourge, as I said before, against civilization. And we have to go
against this scourge in the most comprehensive way possible.
MR. BLITZER: Are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other states in the Gulf, in
the Persian Gulf region with whom the United States has close
relations, are they ready to cooperate militarily with the United
States in this new war?
SECRETARY POWELL: They are ready to cooperate. They have all been
supportive. Now, we have not asked them for any particular military
components of that cooperation yet, but I have been very impressed by
the speed with which our moderate Arab friends in the region have come
forward to express condolence and also show support. Saudi Arabia
particularly reminded everybody that they stripped Usama bin Laden of
his citizenship years ago and consider him a disgrace to his Saudi
heritage. Senior Saudi clerics have spoken out strongly against this
kind of activity in the last several days. I am pleased with that.
We have also heard from Israel and so many other friends. So lots of
people are coming forward. But we haven't placed any specific military
requirements or demands or requests on any of them yet.
MR. BLITZER: Where does the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, fit into
this entire scenario for war?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, he is one of the more despicable persons on
the face of the Earth, and we have not heard of course -- and wouldn't
expect to hear from the Iraqis -- any sense of understanding of this
loss of life and the fact that not just the United States, but 40
other nations, to include Arab nations who lost lives in the World
Trade Center. So far, we have not discerned any link between the Iraqi
Government and what happened the other day, but we are certainly
examining links that might exist between what happened the other day
and any country and any terrorist organization in the world. We are
determined to run this to ground, get them out of their holes, pull it
all out, see what's there, and then deal with it.
MR. BLITZER: Over the years since your experience as a young officer
in Vietnam and during the course of your more subsequent experience,
you have come up with what is called The Powell Doctrine: a defined
mission, overwhelming force, exit strategy.
Let's go through that right now.  What is the defined mission?
SECRETARY POWELL: To make sure that nothing like this happens again;
and to make sure nothing like this happens again by going after the
sources, the terrorist sources and those who harbor terrorist
activities and terrorist groups; and destroying those networks, those
groups; and making sure it is no longer in anyone's interest to harbor
or provide haven to such groups.
MR. BLITZER: It sounds like a very broadly defined mission.
SECRETARY POWELL: It isn't. No, I think it's pretty specific. It is a
broad mission, but it is a very specific mission.
MR. BLITZER: Overwhelming force.  What should that require?
SECRETARY POWELL: It requires political, diplomatic, intelligence, law
enforcement, financial and military effort -- all coming together in a
campaign. And nobody should think this is going to be we go in and
it's over in two days and we're out. This is going to change the way
we do business. It's going to change the way we go about our daily
life here in the United States. It is going to require a greater
emphasis on homeland defense so we can defend ourselves against those
who, notwithstanding our best efforts overseas, are still trying to
get into the country to hurt us. And so we should see this as a
long-term campaign, and do apply decisive force to it. And that force
isn't just military force; it's all the elements of national power
that are at our disposal.
MR. BLITZER: Presumably, beyond the 50,000 reservists and National
Guard troops who are being activated, the number could go way up.
SECRETARY POWELL: But don't just see it in terms of activating
reservists. The Pentagon has a fabulous force, all of whom now want to
be a part of this campaign. But just don't see it in those distinctly
military terms because, in fact, going after a lot of these cells and
finding these people, it's more an intelligence war, and we have got a
great intelligence community. It's a law enforcement war. It's finding
out how they get their finances, how do they move people, how do they
cover people when they get into a place like the United States. They
were in this country legally.
And so it's that kind of war which isn't just a military war. It's a
different kind of war. And the so-called Powell Doctrine, as you
describe it, can cover this kind of contingency as well: Use all the
forces at your disposal, make sure you know what you're going after,
and stick with it until you succeed and get that decisive victory.
MR. BLITZER: And what is the exit strategy?
SECRETARY POWELL: That was never part of the Powell Doctrine, but I'll
accept the question. The exit strategy is when we know that the
American people are living in safety without this kind of a threat.
And it may be a long time before we can create such circumstances
again, but we will get there because we are a proud people, we are a
strong people. Notwithstanding the depth of this tragedy and the
sadness it has inflicted upon our nation, look at the strength that
has emerged, look at how people are shaking each other's hands and
hugging each other again and going to our churches and mosques and
synagogues and reinforcing our belief in our society. They can knock
down buildings, they can kill thousands of us and cause so many
Americans to grieve. They can't destroy our society. They can't
destroy who we are. They can't destroy America.
MR. BLITZER: Since 1976 when President Ford was in the White House,
there has been this executive order on the books. Let me read it to
you. "No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States
Government shall engage in or conspire to engage in assassination."
Is it time to change that?
SECRETARY POWELL: It is still on the books, and as part of our
campaign plan we are examining everything -- how the CIA does its
work, how the FBI and Justice Departments does its work. Are there
laws that need to be changed or new laws brought into effect to give
us more ability to deal with this kind of threat? So everything is
under review.
MR. BLITZER: What is the difference now, as opposed to ten years ago
when you led the US military? You were Chairman of the Joint Chiefs in
the Gulf War. What is the biggest difference between this war and that
war?
SECRETARY POWELL: That war was easy to see, easy to define, with an
enemy that essentially sat there waiting to be attacked when we
finally did attack it. In this case, the enemy is clever, more
resourceful, broken down across the world in many, many countries in
small cells, doing everything to remain hidden, with a long-time
horizon. They will take months and years to plan an operation. And so
it is a much more difficult enemy to find and fix. But that's what
we're working on -- finding them and fixing them. And when we find
them and fix them, then we will go in and finish them.
MR. BLITZER: So what I am hearing you saying is that there still may
be terrorists at large even here in the United States right now?
SECRETARY POWELL: I can't ignore that possibility. It would be foolish
to do so. And I can assure you that the law enforcement activities of
the United States Government are following every lead. Four thousand
FBI agents are working this in the field. Another 3,000 support
personnel are working. The CIA and many other agencies are hard at
work using their vast resources to go after this problem and to deal
with that possibility.
MR. BLITZER: And finally  -- 
SECRETARY POWELL: At the same time, even though there may be people
wandering around, America has got to get back to work. We have got to
get back to some sense of normalcy. If we stick in our bunkers and
walk around afraid, they will have won. Well, we're not a fearful
people. We know how to overcome tragedy and we will restore a sense of
normalcy to this society, to this country very quickly in a way that
will impress the world.
MR. BLITZER: On that note let me thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you
very much.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Wolf.
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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