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Sunday, December 7, 2008

CQ Transcript: Secretary of State Rice and UAW President Ron Gettelfinger Interviewed on ABC’s “This Week”

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello again. We begin today in one of her final interviews as secretary of state, with Condoleezza Rice . Madam Secretary, welcome back to “This Week.”
RICE: Thank you. Good to be with you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you are not coasting in your final days. Just back from India and Pakistan, of course, after those horrific attacks in Mumbai.
And it was reported in the Pakistani press that you were quite tough with the Pakistanis. I want to show something that was written in “Dawn,” the Pakistani newspapers.
It says that Rice told Pakistan, “There is irrefutable evidence of involvement of elements in the country in the Mumbai attacks, and that it needs to act urgently and effectively to avert a strong international response. Sources said she pushed the Pakistani leaders to take care of perpetrators. Otherwise, the U.S. will act.”
What exactly did you ask the Pakistanis to do, and will the U.S. take unilateral action if they don’t?
RICE: Well, I did say to the Pakistanis that the argument that these are non-state actors is not acceptable. In fact, non-state actors acting from your territory is still your responsibility.
CQ Transcript: Secretary of State Rice and UAW President Ron Gettelfinger Interviewed on ABC’s “This Week”
Obviously, there are issues of arrests of people who might have been involved. First, of course, to involve themselves very transparently in the investigation.
There may have been support elements -- not of the Pakistani government, but within Pakistan -- that were helping these terrorists.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There’s one report that said that you asked for them to turn over and arrest the former head of Pakistani intelligence.
RICE: Well, I don’t want to get too detailed about this. This is counterterrorism work. And obviously, I don’t want to tip their hand or ours.
But this is a time when Pakistan must act. They must act in concert with India, with the United States. Great Britain is helping.
The thing to remember, George, is that this is a civilian Pakistani government, democratically elected, good basis of legitimacy. They want to do the right thing. I was absolutely convinced that President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, the other officials with whom I spoke, understand that this is also Pakistan’s fight, because Pakistan is trying to root out terrorism and terrorists within Pakistan.
So, I did feel that there was a good, strong commitment there. But now we have to see follow-through.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, we need to see arrests.
And to be clear, if those arrests aren’t made, if the perpetrators aren’t brought to justice, do you believe that India has a right to take action?
RICE: I said to India that the issue here is an effective response.
And I understand the frustration and the anger in India. In fact, it felt a little bit to me like the United States post-9/11. I certainly understand that.
But in this case, there are actions that India could take that could make the situation worse. And we don’t need...
STEPHANOPOULOS: A military strike.
CQ Transcript: Secretary of State Rice and UAW President Ron Gettelfinger Interviewed on ABC’s “This Week”
RICE: We don’t need a crisis in South Asia. What we need is the two parties, Pakistan and India -- by the way, who have developed far better relations than they had when we faced this kind of crisis in 2001-2002.
And the good thing is that I do believe that there is a desire on both sides. India and Pakistan, despite their long history, they are really not each other’s primary threat and enemies...
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that’s the message the United States is trying to send.
But I could imagine an Indian official saying, wait a second. The United States has been sending drones over Pakistani territory, striking at Pakistan for months. Why shouldn’t India be allowed to do the same?
RICE: Well, again, the regional dynamics here are important to keep in mind.
We don’t need something that will set off unintended consequences and a more difficult situation. And I do believe that India’s leaders understand that.
This is not 2001-2002, when there was virtually no communication between the two countries. The leaders of India and Pakistan -- encouraged by the United States -- have gone a long way to improving their relations.
In fact, the Pakistani foreign minister was in India just about the time of the attacks.
So, I think that this is something that can be worked through. But it requires strong action, and it requires strong action now. And it requires concrete action.
STEPHANOPOULOS: While you were in India and Pakistan, a new report came out by a commission that was set up by Congress to look at the connection between weapons of mass destruction and terrorists. And it had an absolutely chilling conclusion. I want to show it for our viewers. It was called “The World at Risk” report.
And it said, “Unless the world community acts decisively and with great urgency, it is more likely than not that a weapon of mass destruction will be used in a terrorist attack somewhere in the world by the end of 2013. Americans’ margin of safety is shrinking, not growing.”
Do you agree with that conclusion?
RICE: Well, this is something that President Bush drew attention to some years ago, when he talked about the worst circumstances being the connection of the world’s most dangerous people, terrorists, and weapons of mass destruction.
CQ Transcript: Secretary of State Rice and UAW President Ron Gettelfinger Interviewed on ABC’s “This Week”
But we’ve worked very hard at it. We’ve worked to secure stockpiles and materials in places like Russia.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But this commission said the threat is getting worse.
RICE: Well, I can’t judge. I don’t think any of us can judge what might happen by 2013.
But I can tell you that many steps have been taken, are working in the other direction. The wrapping up of the A.Q. Khan network, knowing that the A.Q. Khan...
RICE: ... in Pakistan, right -- a kind of rogue scientist who was a nuclear entrepreneur, selling materials across the world.
The fact that we are in the process of trying to secure and end to the plutonium-producing program in North Korea, which could be, of course, a source of proliferation of that kind.
The work that we’ve done with Russia and Kazakhstan and Ukraine, past after the Soviet Union collapsed. The fact that the Russia and the United States, President -- then-President Putin and President Bush -- signed and have promoted a global nuclear terrorism pact, which brings a lot of countries into the business of sharing intelligence, information, and even operational capability against these threats.
The work that we’ve done to put sensors at international ports, so that you can pick up detection of this kinds of material... STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot done. But Vice President-elect Biden said this week at that press conference, we’re not doing all we can, or should do, to keep these lethal weapons away from terrorists.
RICE: Well, the structures are there. And we have much better intelligence capability on these matters, too.
Again, this is a really hard problem. And it’s one President Bush...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it the greatest threat America faces now?
CQ Transcript: Secretary of State Rice and UAW President Ron Gettelfinger Interviewed on ABC’s “This Week”
RICE: Well, it’s certainly a major threat. I do believe that the worst thing that could happen is that nuclear capability were to fall into the hands of terrorists.
It’s why we’ve worked so hard on this problem. It’s why we’ve had alliances with countries like Russia, where there’s a full understanding of this threat, as well.
And this global nuclear terrorism pact that the United States and Russia promoted, is, I believe, the very best way to make sure that you’ve got the cooperation of countries in trying to diminish what is undeniably a very, very difficult problem, and a very great threat.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In the 9/11 Commission Report, President Clinton was quoting as telling President Bush, during that transition, that Al Qaida was the greatest threat he would face, and that President Clinton’s greatest regret was not getting Osama bin Laden.
What do you believe is the greatest threat facing the country as President-elect Obama takes over? And what’s your greatest regret?
RICE: Well, I still am concerned that every day the terrorists plot against us. We have to be right 100 percent of the time, and they have to be right once.
And I think it’s hard maybe to understand that, if you were in a position of authority on September 11th, then every day since has been September 12th, and that undoubtedly an attack on the homeland continues to be the greatest threat.
And we have to make sure that we keep in place the mechanisms to integrate our intelligence from law enforcement and from the intelligence community, that we’re able to track these terrorists as they plot and plan, that we’re able to track their money, as we are doing through the financing of terrorism work that we do.
And so, there’s a lot in place, but I think it remains my greatest concern.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How much does it matter that Osama bin Laden hasn’t been caught or captured?
RICE: Well, everyone wants to see the day that Osama bin Laden is brought to justice. But this is not a one-man organization.
And I think we are more capable at dealing with Al Qaida, tracking and tracing them, cutting down their financial networks. And, most importantly, we’ve captured or killed an awful lot of their leadership. That really -- very coherent institution or organization that perpetrated 9/11, I think is really not intact any longer, although they remain very dangerous.
STEPHANOPOULOS: President Bush said this week that his greatest regret was the failure of the intelligence in Iraq.
CQ Transcript: Secretary of State Rice and UAW President Ron Gettelfinger Interviewed on ABC’s “This Week”
Would you -- is that at the top of your list, as well?
RICE: Well, it’s high on my list, because we, and intelligence agencies around the world, thought we were dealing with something that turns out to have been a different kind of threat.
But I have other things that I would have hoped would have gone differently.
I’ll tell you, I am still really appalled at the inability of the international community to deal with tyrants. We saw it in Burma. We’re seeing it in Burma.
We are now seeing it, I think, in a very, very sad way in Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe should have gone a long time ago. And we can’t seem to mobilize the international will to do it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is there anything you can do between now and January 20th to make that happen?
RICE: Well, I am going to continue to try to press in the international community. I even talked with my British colleague, David Miliband, just this morning about trying to see what we can do to get a renewed push to have this solved. They had a sham election. They then had a sham power-sharing set of talks.
Now you have a cholera outbreak. You have this cholera outbreak that could really endanger Southern Africa, not just Zimbabwe.
It seems to me, that when the international community makes a very big deal about the responsibility to protect, as we did a couple of years ago, and yet you have the Darfurs and the Zimbabwes, it is a failure of the international community.
STEPHANOPOULOS: President-elect Obama appointed his national security team this week. And he seemed to hint at one of the failings of the Bush White House when he -- during that press conference. Listen to this.
PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: One of the dangers in a White House, based on my reading of history, is that you get wrapped up in groupthink, and everybody agrees with everything. And there’s no discussion, and there are no dissenting views. (END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it fair -- is that a fair criticism of the Bush White House, particularly in the run-up to the war on Iraq? And could you have done a better job in airing dissenting views on the WMD?
CQ Transcript: Secretary of State Rice and UAW President Ron Gettelfinger Interviewed on ABC’s “This Week”
RICE: Oh, we talked a lot about dissenting views. The idea that, somehow, within the Bush White House, there weren’t dissenting views during this period of time is simply not true.
But the intelligence didn’t permit, frankly, much in the way of alternatives for the weapons of mass destruction.
Now, the...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Although the dissent inside the National Intelligence Report from the State Department and others did point out...
RICE: But, you know, if you read...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... that there were real questions about the intelligence.
RICE: George, if you read those -- go back sometimes and read that it was not a dissent on whether or not he had chemical weapons. It was not a dissent on whether or not he had reconstituted his biological weapons capabilities.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Certain dissents on nuclear program.
RICE: On the nuclear side, one had to look to the intelligence community to resolve and present to the president a unified view that was their best estimate of what was there.
But we have -- what the president has done as a result of that intelligence failure, as well as the intelligence problems of September 11th -- is to restructure dramatically the intelligence agencies with the director of national intelligence now, that really does bring those views.
I’ve read these reports now. They very much more clearly put forward alternative views. They very much more clearly take the information and say, what else could this say?
The fact is that, before 2003 and the decision to take Saddam Hussein down, there had been a worldwide assessment and assumption that he had these weapons of mass destruction.
STEPHANOPOULOS: At least biological and chemical.
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