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FACE THE NATION
Sunday, April 18, 2004
GUESTS: CONDOLEEZZA RICE
National Security Adviser
MODERATOR: BOB SCHIEFFER - CBS News
This is a rush transcript provided for the information and convenience of the press. Accuracy is not guaranteed. In case of doubt, please check with FACE THE NATION - CBS NEWS 202-457-4481
BOB SCHIEFFER, host: Today on FACE THE NATION, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on Bob Woodward's new book and the end game in Iraq. As the situation worsens by the day, the big question remains: Can the United States really turn over power to the Iraqis? What went so wrong in the postwar planning? We'll ask Condoleezza Rice, and we'll get a response to exclusive excerpts from Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's new book, "Plan of Attack." Karen Tumulty of Time magazine will join in the questioning. Then we'll have a FACE THE NATION 50th-anniversary Flashback on two old friends who are back in the news, John McCain and John Kerry. Then I'll have a final word on one fine reporter, Bob Woodward.
But first, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on FACE THE NATION. Announcer: FACE THE NATION with CBS News chief Washington correspondent, Bob Schieffer. And now, from CBS News in Washington, Bob Schieffer.
SCHIEFFER: And the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, is in the studio with us this morning. Joining in the questioning, Karen Tumulty of Time magazine. This is, of course, the day that Bob Woodward's new book comes out, and there are revelations in there that I think a lot of people will s--find surprising. Among them, Dr. Rice, he says that the secretary of State did not know about it when the president had made the decision to go to war, that he was sort of told about it after the fact. Let's just listen to this. (Excerpt from tonight's "60 Minutes")
Mr. BOB WOODWARD (The New York Times): That decision was first conveyed to Condi Rice in early January 2003, when he said, `We're going to have to go. It's war.' He was frustrated with the weapons inspections. He had promised the United Nations and the world and the country that either the UN would disarm Saddam or he, George Bush, would do it, and do it alone, if necessary. So he told Condi Rice, he told Rumsfeld; he knew Cheney wanted to do this. And they realize they haven't told Colin Powell, the secretary of State. So Condi Rice says to the president...
MIKE WALLACE ("60 Minutes"): Are you serious?
Mr. WOODWARD: I'm serious. And so Condi Rice says, `You better call Colin in and tell him.' (End of excerpt)
SCHIEFFER: Well, Dr. Rice?
Dr. CONDOLEEZZA RICE (National Security Adviser): Well, first of all, I haven't read Bob's book, which I'm sure is terrific. He's a great journalist and I look forward to reading it. He's talking about a pretty complex set of discussions about military issues and diplomatic issues, and I'm--I'm sure it will be--be fantastic. The incident that he's talking about I would characterize a little bit differently. The president and I were out in Texas. And in a sense, part of the relationship between a national security adviser and a president is that the president, in a sense, kind of thinks out loud, if I could put it that way. And the president was getting somewhat frustrated with the way that the inspections were going. He--we talked a lot about how Saddam Hussein was starting to fool the world again, as he'd done over the last 12 years, opening up places that he knew had already been cleaned up and not allowing scientists to be interviewed, and--and he said, `Now I--I think we probably are going to have to go to war. We're going to have to go to war.' And it was not a decision to go to war. That decision he made in March when he fin-- when he finally decided to do that.
SCHIEFFER: This sounds as if Colin Powell wasn't in the loop.
Dr. RICE: No, Colin Powell was not in Texas at the time. And Colin Powell had been privy to all of the national security meetings, to conversations with the president. The only thing that I was saying is that, `Mr. President if you're beginning to think that the diplomacy is not working, it's probably time to have a conversation with the secretary of State.'
Dr. RICE: I'm sure he would have in any cir--in any case. But I just want it to be understood. That was not a decision to go to war. The decision to go to war is in March. The president is saying in that conversation, `I think the chances are that this is not going to work out any other way. We're going to have to go to war.'
SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask you about this part--and we should point out that these are excerpts from the interview that Mike Wallace did with Bob Woodward. It will be seen in its entirety tonight on "60 Minutes." Here is the part that I think people may find even more disturbing than that excerpt, and that is that apparently before Colin Powell was told about this, a foreign diplomat was briefed on it. Listen to this. (Excerpt from "60 Minutes")
WALLACE: Two days before the president told Powell, Cheney and Rumsfeld had already briefed Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador.
Mr. WOODWARD: Saturday, January 11th, with the president's permission, Cheney and Rumsfeld called Bandar to Cheney's West Wing office. And the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Myers, is there with a top-secret map of the war plan. And it says `top secret. No foreign.' No foreign means no foreigners are supposed to see this. They describe in detail the war plan for Bandar, and so Bandar, who's skeptical because he knows in the first Gulf War, we didn't get Saddam out, so he says to Cheney and Rumsfeld, `So, Saddam this time is going to be out, period.' And Cheney, who has said nothing, says the following: `Prince Bandar, once we start, Saddam is toast.' (End of excerpt)
SCHIEFFER: Now I think many Americans are going to want to know how is it that it was necessary to brief the ambassador from Saudi Arabia before the secretary of State was told about it?
Dr. RICE: Bob, I just can't let this impression start--stand. The secretary of State was privy to all of the conversations with the president, all of the briefings for the president. They were in almost daily contact about what was going on at the United Nations.
SCHIEFFER: So he knew that Bandar was being told?
Dr. RICE: So he--we--I certainly knew, and I suspect that Colin would not have been surprised going through the Gulf War experience that one of the allies that you had to be certain understood what might happen if the president decided to go to war was the Saudis. They were on the line. They were a front-line state. They, of course, had been extremely important both in the--in the Gulf War and were important in this war. Not at all surprising that you would want to make sure that they knew what might happen if the president took the decision to go to war. But it's just not the proper impression that somehow Prince Bandar was in the know in the way that Secretary Powell was not. It's just not right. Secretary Powell had been privy to all of this. He knew what the war plan was. The only question was, what was the president's thinking internally about whether the diplomacy was working, and that's what I suggested that the president talk to Colin Powell about. This was not, `Mr. President, you're going to war tomorrow. I think you better tell the secretary of State.' It's just not right.
SCHIEFFER: Well, normally don't secretaries of State, aren't they the ones that deal with ambassadors? Why--why was he not in on that meeting?
Dr. RICE: Prince Bandar and a number of ambassadors deal with all of us on any specific information. Sometimes they go to see Don Rumsfeld. Sometimes they come to see me. The secretary of State certainly sees Prince Bandar. It's very often the case when we see an ambassador about something important, that ambassador will see all of us. Sometimes in groupings, sometimes individually. But I just have to be very clear, that the president--what I was asking the president to talk to Colin Powell about was his sense of how the diplomacy was going and the fact that he himself was coming to a conclusion that it was not going to work, not that a decision had been made to go to war. That's simply not--not right.
Ms. KAREN TUMULTY (Time Magazine): At another point in Bob Woodward's book he says there came a point in--in July of 2002 when General Tommy Franks is--is preparing for the Iraq war and General Franks decides that he needs another $700 million. And according to the book that $700 million was approved by the president and then diverted from a supplemental appropriations bill that had been meant for Afghanistan. Was it really wise to be diverting resources from Afghanistan where we were rooting out al-Qaida, and was it legal even to do that without telling Congress?
Dr. RICE: Karen, again, I've not read Bob's book, and I don't know the particular incident to which you are referring. I will tell you that resources were not taken from Afghanistan. When Afghanistan--whatever we needed to do in Afghanistan, we did in Afghanistan. General Tommy Franks is the commander in chief of an entire--or was the commander in chief of an entire region, just as General Abizaid is now the commander in chief of an entire region. He is the CINC for CENTCOM, which means the Middle East, Afghanistan and so forth. And so if resources needed to be moved around in that region I would think that the general could do that. But I want to be very clear. We fought the war in Afghanistan with everything that General Franks thought he needed to fight that war. We have continued to operate in Afghanistan with everything that General Abizaid thinks that he needs. It's just a different kind of circumstance in Afghanistan where you don't need large numbers of forces, but you need to work in close intelligence cooperation with small forces and with Afghan forces themselves.
SCHIEFFER: But, Dr. Rice, you cannot take money that Congress has appropriated for one purpose and spend it on something else. That's against the law.
Dr. RICE: The secretary of Defense manages the appropriation that he is given from Congress. The secretary of Defense, I am quite certain, would propose to the president things that he believes are inside his purview--purview to do with the allocation that he gets from Congress. But the underlying point here that's extremely important is that General Franks was the commander of an entire region. Resources were within tire--the entire region. But whatever General Franks needed to fight in Afghanistan, General Franks got to fight in Afghanistan.
SCHIEFFER: Why would Mr.--or General Franks say on May 21st, 2002, when planning for the Iraq war was well under way, in response to a reporter's question of how many troops would be needed if you go into Iraq, his response was, `It's a great question, but I don't have an answer because my boss has not yet asked me to put together a plan to do that.' That seems disingenuous.
Dr. RICE: I--again, I have not read Bob Woodward's book, and I'm not going to be able to respond to...
SCHIEFFER: Well, I mean, that's just a quote. I mean, that's a news conference.
Dr. RICE: I'm not going to be able to respond to quotes by other people in--you probably should ask Tommy Franks what he meant by that. I will tell you that at the time the president had asked what his options were for Iraq. Yes, we were concerned about Iraq. We had pilots being shot at in the no-fly zones. We had sanctions falling apart against Iraq. We had a regime change policy on the books that everybody knew was not working. And the president, after September 11th, really did believe, as he said in his State of the Union in January 2002, that you had to deal with threats before they fully materialized. And so he had asked, `What are my military options for Iraq?' I believe at the time you're talking about General Franks was probably still in the process of putting together for the president various scenarios of how you might deal with Iraq.
Ms. TUMULTY: One other account in the book where presumably you would have been in a position to have actually witnessed this. He claims--Woodward claims that on--as--in the preparations for war, as CIA Director George Tenet was showing the president the evidence that Saddam Hussein actually had weapons of mass destruction, the president raised some questions about that and that George Tenet told him not once but twice that he had a, quote, "slam-dunk case." Between all the other failures of intelligence that we know about and this moment where the CIA director is assuring the commander in chief who is preparing to go to war that he has a slam-dunk case, it--it sort of raises the question of why George Tenet still has a job. Why does the president continue to place so much faith in George Tenet as CIA director?
Dr. RICE: Well, first of all, the intelligence that we were looking at came out of the National Intelligence Estimate that had been prepared. And what the president was saying was that the presentation that he'd seen didn't seem to track with what had been a--a pretty categoric set of statements in the National Intelligence Estimate. Everyone believed at that time including intelligence agencies around the world, the United Nations, anybody who knew Saddam Hussein's history, how he'd hidden weapons before, how he'd used them before that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, an active program to continue to improve them.
Ms. TUMULTY: But they were wrong.
Dr. RICE: Well, no. If you look at what has been found since by David Kay and by Charlie Deulfer, what is clear is that the--the stockpiles that were unaccounted for, that is actual weapons on a shelf somewhere, have not been found and no one knows precisely what came of them. We know that Saddam Hussein would not account for them before the United Nations. He would not show that they had been destroyed. He simply wouldn't account for them. We have found that he had active programs. We have found that he had equipment and laboratories that he was hiding from the United Nations.
Ms. TUMULTY: But--but the qu--question...
Dr. RICE: We have found that he had both the capability to make we--weapons and the intent to make weapons. The one thing--it's this one issue of whether or not stockpiled weapons will be found.
Ms. TUMULTY: And that was the president's question according to this account, whether Saddam Hussein was in possession...
Dr. RICE: No. No, Karen, I was there...
Ms. TUMULTY: ...of weapons of mass destruction.
Dr. RICE: ...and--and the president's question was, `Why is it that the presentation that I've just heard doesn't seem to be as strong? It needs more work. Why is it not as strong as what I'm reading in the National Intelligence Estimate?' The estimate was--and I think it was everybody's assessment--that he had biological and chemical weapons. Now the broader point is important. We will learn more through the Iraq Survey Group, which is out interviewing people and looking at documents, precisely what became of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. We will learn more about the state of his programs at the time of the war. We will learn more about what intelligence methods we had and whether or not they were equal to the task. But the fact is we have to step back and look at an intelligence community that has been given an extremely difficult problem which is to get information about weapons of mass destruction, many of which, by the way, are--are dual--the--the components for them are dual use. Chlorine can be either a chemical weapon or it can be for a swimming pool.
Ms. TUMULTY: But...
Dr. RICE: And people who are hiding--deliberately hiding, so very secretive societies--this is a hard intelligence task. It's the reason the president has appointed a commission under Lawrence Silverman and Chuck Robb to give him a better sense of what we knew, when we knew it and why we--we didn't see...
Ms. TUMULTY: But he...
Dr. RICE: ...exactly what we expected to find.
Ms. TUMULTY: But he's not lost any confidence at all in George Tenet?
Dr. RICE: George Tenet is a fine director of Central Intelligence. George Tenet himself has said that the intelligence agencies have a lot of work to do to be up to the task of dealing with the threats of the 21st century.
SCHIEFFER: Mr. Brahimi, who is the UN person who has now gone to oversee the transition of power, has been criticizing the US assaults on Fallujah and US practice of unlimited detention of Iraqis suspected of engaging in hostile activities. What is your response to that?
Dr. RICE: Well, first of all, let me say that envoy Brahimi is doing a terrific job in helping to put together a political transition in Iraq. We are working very closely with him. We know him well. We worked with him in Afghanistan toward the successful conclusion of that political transition which will take place when the Afghans have elections this fall. And he's done a great job of going out consulting and I think putting together the pieces of a plan that will allow us to transfer sovereignty on June 30th to a responsible interim government prior to the elections that will take place in December and January. The comments about what is going on on the ground, no one is--wants to be in a situation in which there are questions about the activities there, but we've come up against the continued remnants of Saddam Hussein's very brutal regime. We've come up against foreign terrorists who have to be dealt with. What we're doing now in Fallujah, for instance, is working with local leadership, with responsible leaders from the Governing Council and--and locals in Fallujah to try and solidify and strengthen the resolve of these people of this city who also don't want to see...
Dr. RICE: ...their politics hijacked by these criminals.
SCHIEFFER: Is this just more than renegades and thugs? Is it a true insurgency that we have here?
Dr. RICE: I think there's no doubt that there is some organization to these--these groups. It's made up of some gangs. It's made up of Saddam loyalists. I think we've lately even found some Republican Guard elements still existing in the country.
SCHIEFFER: Are there just ordinary Iraqis joining in the gangs?
Dr. RICE: I--I think you are not seeing--what you're seeing is people who have a lot to lose in a new Iraq. What we are doing is we're going back and redo--doubling our efforts with the people who have a lot to win in a new Iraq.
Ms. TUMULTY: Is--is there...
SCHIEFFER: Will we turn over the keys to Iraq on June 30th regardless of the level of violence? I mean, if this continues--we had five more Marines killed overnight, apparently.
Dr. RICE: I--Bob, I think it is--it is right to expect that there may be violence in Iraq for quite some time. But the political transition, the turn of sovereignty, is a return to the Iraqi people of control of their own affairs. It does not mean by any stretch of the imagination that we abandon them in terms of the security presence. The security presence will remain. We will continue to work with Iraqis and the coalition partners to make the place secure. But the return of sovereignty is an important step in keeping our promise to the Iraqis that this is not going to be an occupation, that we have no intention of being in Iraq any--any longer than we have to, but the security situation we will continue to deal with post return of sovereignty.
SCHIEFFER: We have to stop there. Condoleezza Rice, thank you very much.
Dr. RICE: Thank you.
SCHIEFFER: And finally today, Bob Woodward always finds a way. From Watergate to the first Iraq war, he has always managed to find just the key source to tell us why the government came to do what it did. Now he has done it again. In "Plan of Attack," he gives us the best and I judge the most accurate picture yet of how the United States got into war with Iraq.
In chilling detail, he documents what has been long suspected, that it was a war within the administration going on over what to do. He identifies Vice President Cheney as the official who led the fight to take out Saddam Hussein, and he identifies Secretary of State Powell as the official who opposed it, warning the president that Pottery--Pottery Barn rules would be in effect. That is, if you break it, you own it. He reveals that early on, as officials were publicly denying such plans, that money Congress had appropriated to fight the war in Afghanistan was being used to pay for preparations for war with Iraq. And he says Saudi Arabia's ambassador, Prince Bandar, was told about it before Secretary of State Powell. Bob Woodward does what reporters are supposed to do. He checks the government's story against his own investigation. That's what sets democracies apart from totalitarian societies where the government is the only source of information. In a democracy, the press provide a second source. Citizens can then judge which story is correct. Bob Woodward has established himself as the best reporter of our time. He may be the best reporter of all time.
That's it for us. We'll see you next week right here on FACE THE NATION.