Iraq "Intelligence" Phase II Reports
By David Peterson at Sep 10, 2006
Last Friday, September 8, the U.S. Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence—author in July 2004 of the Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq—released what the Committee calls its “Phase II Reports:” Two reports totaling a little over 350 pages, each devoted to critical aspects of the prewar lying and fabrications that went into the Bush Administration's elaborate public case for invading Iraq in March 2003.
As the Washington Post summed up one aspect of these Phase II Reports the following day ("Iraq's Alleged Al-Qaeda Ties Were Disputed Before War," Jonathan Weisman, September 9):
A declassified report released yesterday by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence revealed that U.S. intelligence analysts were strongly disputing the alleged links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda while senior Bush administration officials were publicly asserting those links to justify invading Iraq.
Far from aligning himself with al-Qaeda and Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Hussein repeatedly rebuffed al-Qaeda's overtures and tried to capture Zarqawi, the report said. Tariq Aziz, the detained former deputy prime minister, has told the FBI that Hussein "only expressed negative sentiments about [Osama] bin Laden."
As recently as Aug. 21, Bush suggested a link between Hussein and Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, who was killed by U.S. forces this summer. But a CIA assessment in October 2005 concluded that Hussein's government "did not have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates," according to the report.
In a classified January 2003 report, for instance, the CIA concluded that Hussein "viewed Islamic extremists operating inside Iraq as a threat." But one day after that conclusion was published, Levin noted, Vice President Cheney said the Iraqi government "aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda."
Intelligence reports in June, July and September 2002 all cast doubts on a reported meeting in Prague between Iraqi intelligence agents and Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta. Yet, in a Sept. 8, 2002, appearance on NBC's "Meet The Press," Cheney said the CIA considered the reports on the meeting credible, Levin said.
In February 2002, the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded that "Iraq is unlikely to have provided bin Laden any useful [chemical and biological weapons] knowledge or assistance." A year later, Bush said: "Iraq has also provided al-Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training."
Some 48 hours after the Phase II Reports were released (though only partially released, it appears), and just one day shy of the fifth anniversary of the September 11 hijacker-bombings, the American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows. These included lengthy guest appearances on FOX News Sunday (FOX), Face the Nation (CBS), and Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer (CNN). In not a single one of her appearances did Rice acknowledge the irrefutable falsity of the Executive Branch's prewar justifications for the invasion of Iraq. Indeed, on several occasions, she reiterated them instead. As when she made the quite startling assertion on FOX News Sunday (see at bottom for the complete transcript):
What the president and I and other administration officials relied on—and you simply rely on the central intelligence. The director of central intelligence, George Tenet, gave that very testimony, that, in fact, there were ties going on between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein's regime going back for a decade. Indeed, the 9/11 Commission talked about contacts between the two. We know that Zarqawi was running a poisons network in Iraq. We know that Zarqawi ordered the killing of an American diplomat in Jordan from Iraq. There were ties between Iraq and Al Qaida.
Leaving aside questions about what the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet, (a) ever did or did not say about the Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, and (b) really did believe, notwithstanding what he may have said, the rest of the Secretary of State's comments, and above all the gist of what she was saying, are out-and-out lies.
Nor is there any other way to parse or construe them.
The Executive Branch of the American Government is run by a pack of liars.
Report on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq, Select Committee on Intelligence, United States Senate, July, 2004 (a.k.a., Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report) (Also see the very helpful synopsis, Conclusions---Excerpted from Full Report.)
Postwar Findings about Iraq's WMD Programs and Links To Terrorism and How They Compare with Prewar Assessments (a.k.a. the Iraq Intelligence Phase II Reports), Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Senate, September 8, 2006
The Use by the Intelligence Community of Information Provided by the Iraqi National Congress (a.k.a. the Iraq Intelligence Phase II Reports), Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Senate, September 8, 2006
"Panel Set to Release Just Part of Report On Run-Up to War," Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post, September 7, 2006
"Iraq war justifications laid bare," Adam Brookes, BBC News Online, September 8, 2006
"Senate panel finds no pre-war Iraq-Qaeda link," David Morgan, Reuters, September 8, 2006
"Iraq's terror link in doubt," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 9, 2006
"Report rejects prewar link of Iraq, Al Qaeda," Stephen J. Hedges, Chicago Tribune, September 9, 2006
"Senate finds no Saddam links to al-Qaeda," Demetri Sevastopulo, Financial Times, September 9, 2006
"Senate: Hussein Wasn't Allied With Al Qaeda," Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times, September 9, 2006
"C.I.A. Said To Find No Hussein Link To Terror Chief," Mark Mazetti, New York Times, September 9, 2006
"Senate: Saddam Spurned Al Qaeda," Warren P. Strobel and Margaret Talev, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 9, 2006
"Iraq's Alleged Al-Qaeda Ties Were Disputed Before War," Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post, September 9, 2006
"Report Details Errors Before War," Walter Pincus, Washington Post, September 9, 2006
"'Intelligence' and the Invasion of Iraq," ZNet, April 1, 2005
"Iraq 'Intelligence' Phase II Reports," ZNet, September 10, 2006
"War on Terror Progress Report," Condoleezza Rice interviewed by Chris Wallace, FOX News Sunday, September 10, 2006
Fox News Network
SHOW: FOX NEWS SUNDAY 9:00 AM EST
September 10, 2006 Sunday
HEADLINE: Interview With Condoleezza Rice
BYLINE: Chris Wallace
GUESTS: Condoleezza Rice
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: I'm Chris Wallace. A top Democrat says the U.S. would be better off with Saddam Hussein still in power -- next, on "Fox News Sunday."
September 11, 2001:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: September 11, 2006: Is our country stronger and safer? We'll ask the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.
And five years later, where are the Democrats in the war on terror? We'll talk with the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean.
Also, does the president need new weapons from Congress to fight the terrorists? We'll ask our Sunday regulars: Brit Hume, Mara Liasson, Bill Kristol and Juan Williams.
And our power player of the week: For him, honoring the 9/11 victims at the Pentagon is personal.
All right now, on a special "Fox News Sunday."
And good morning again from Fox News in Washington. We're going to spend this hour taking an overview of what we've done and what we still need to do in the war on terror. But we begin, as always, with the latest headlines.
The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, says the world would be better off if the U.S. hadn't invaded Iraq, even if that meant Saddam Hussein was still in power. Rockefeller also accused the Bush administration of, quote, "cynically and deliberately manipulating public opinion" before the war.
The tough CIA interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, a top Al Qaida operative captured in 2002, prompted a bitter fight between the CIA and the FBI. According to a story in today's New York Times, Zubaydah was taken to a safe house in Thailand, where he was stripped, held in an icy room and forced to listen to ear-splitting music.
And in Afghanistan today, NATO and local forces killed almost 100 Taliban insurgents in the southern part of that country. But a provincial governor was killed by a suicide bomber.
And joining us now is the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.
Secretary Rice, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Thank you. Good to be with you, Chris.
WALLACE: Let's start with the big picture. Five years later, where do we stand in the war on terror? Where do we stand in the conflict against Islamic extremism?
RICE: I think it's clear that we are safe -- safer, but not really yet safe. And we've done a lot. In terms of homeland, we're more secure, our ports are more secure, our airports are more secure.
We have a much stronger intelligence-sharing operation, not just within the country, where we've broken down walls between law enforcement and intelligence agencies to get all of the information to break up terrorist plots, but also across the world. We have, really, an intelligence network across the world of sharing information.
We've clearly hurt badly the Al Qaida organization that planned and plotted and executed September 11th, capturing many of their major field generals. When the president talked the other day about bringing to justice people like Abu Zubaydah, people like Khalid Sheik Mohammed, you're really talking about the people who were at the center of that kind of plot of 9/11.
And, Chris, we are making progress for the long run, in having liberated 50 million people and then having new allies in the war on terror, like Afghanistan and, indeed, Iraq.
WALLACE: Any failures?
RICE: Well, certainly. I'm sure there are many things that could be done better. We would like to make more progress. People would always like to make more progress. But...
WALLACE: But anything specifically that you say that, you know, five years later, the war on terror hasn't gone as well?
RICE: History will have to judge, Chris. I think that the record will show that the last five years have been years of reorganizing the United States government, reorganizing our international alliances for this long war, and reorienting our strategic policy toward one that simply will not accept the conditions in the Middle East and in other places that have allowed extremism to flourish at the expense of moderation.
WALLACE: All right. Let's talk about some of the concerns that people have. President Bush calls Iraq, and again this week called Iraq, a central front in the war on terror. But I want to look at some of the other statements made by your administration recently. And let's take a look.
In April, your State Department said, "Al Qaida in Iraq has about 1,000 fighters. That's about 5 percent of the total insurgency."
Last month, the Pentagon said, "The core conflict in Iraq changed into a struggle between Sunni and Shia extremists seeking to control key areas of Baghdad."
Secretary Rice, what evidence do you have that the homegrown Sunnis and Shia fighting each other in Iraq -- and, of course, that, at this point, is the vast majority of the violence -- that they have any interest in attacking the U.S.?
RICE: Well, clearly, the person who set off much of this sectarian violence, who plotted the nation that Shias should go after Sunnis and you should try and spark civil conflict, actually was the Al Qaida leader at the time, Zarqawi, who has...
WALLACE: But he's gone.
RICE: ... been killed.
Well, but it was his strategy -- and we know that -- to try and set off sectarian violence.
Now, we have to ask the question, why did he try to do that? Because he understood and Al Qaida in Iraq understood that when there is a stable and democratic Iraq, then their plans, the plans of Al Qaida and the extremists, for a Middle East in which there is indeed sectarian violence, in which there is extremism, in which there are repressive regimes of the Taliban type, that will not be possible when there's a democratic Iraq.
And so, yes, Iraq is going through very difficult times, there's no doubt about that. But if you have a broad view of what it will take to defeat extremism, meaning that there will have to be a different kind of environment in the Middle East, it's hard to imagine that different kind of environment with Saddam Hussein in power and Iraq at the center of a nexus between terrorism and conflict.
WALLACE: But I think here's the concern a lot of people have. When we went in there, allegedly to remove the weapons of mass destruction, people understood that as the war on terror. Even when we deposed Saddam Hussein, people understood that as the war on terror. When we were fighting Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, people understood that as the war on terror.
Now we've got Shiites fighting Sunnis, Muqtada al-Sadr -- this are rivalries that go back centuries, tribal rivalries, religious rivalries. Aren't we involved in a terrible case of mission creep here that has nothing to do with the war on terror?
RICE: Chris, it is the Iraqis who will have to settle their own differences. And, indeed, that's why they talk about a process of national reconciliation. That's why they're trying to build security forces that bridge sectarian divides.
Our role, though, was to indeed remove Saddam Hussein. And it's hard to imagine that the world could possibly have gotten better with Saddam Hussein in power, that the Middle East could possibly have gotten better...
WALLACE: Is it our responsibility to solve these ethnic, sectarian problems?
RICE: It is clearly Iraq's responsibility, Iraqis' responsibilities to do that. We...
WALLACE: But we're involved in the fighting.
RICE: Well, but we have to give them an environment in which they can do that. We have to help them build security forces. We have to help them build political institutions.
And, Chris, it would simply be wrong to say that the only problem in Iraq is sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shia. There is still a considerable problem of terrorism from extremists who simply want to see Iraq be part of a Middle East in which the bin Ladens of the world control, not the Malikis, the moderates of the Middle East.
WALLACE: Meanwhile, there is Afghanistan, which used to be the safe haven for Al Qaida and where some of its leaders are still at large.
On Friday, a suicide bomber -- and we have the pictures here -- attacked an American military convoy in Kabul, killing 16 people. The Taliban, which most Americans thought we wiped out back in 2001, is back on the march in the south. And NATO forces, this week, are asking for more troops.
Secretary Rice, why didn't we finish the job in Afghanistan?
RICE: Well, it was not possible, Chris, to, quote, "finish the job" in Afghanistan. This is going to be also a long process of bringing stability to Afghanistan.
We have made enormous progress over the last 4 1/2 years in Afghanistan. You actually have a national government that is elected in Afghanistan, whose forces are fighting alongside of us rather than the Taliban, which was both harboring Al Qaida and giving them support. You now have for the people of Afghanistan the possibility of a better life. Women are not being beaten in stadiums that were given to the Taliban by the international community.
You have a situation in which, yes, the Taliban is trying to make a strike at the Afghan government because they do not want it to succeed. But the Taliban is not going to succeed. And they're not going to succeed because you have strong NATO and coalition forces and U.S. forces that are beating them back. The Taliban is taking a beating in this.
And, Chris, I want to be very clear. The notion that somehow this is a strategic threat to the Karzai government, I think this is not the case. You are talking about a Taliban that is able, particularly in the south, to wreak a lot of havoc and to bring death and destruction to civilians. But they are being beaten back.
WALLACE: But, again -- and just this week, the head British commander in Afghanistan, Brigadier Ed Butler, said -- and let's put it up on the screen -- "The fighting is extraordinarily intense. The intensity and ferocity of the fighting is far greater than in Iraq on a daily basis."
I'm sure a lot of Americans are saying, isn't it a -- we had them on the run. We had the Taliban completely disrupted. Isn't it a failure to have allowed the Taliban to regroup?
RICE: Well, now, Chris, it's very hard to say that we didn't expect them to fight back. Of course they're going to fight back. Even if they're on the ropes, they're going to fight back. And, yes, they came back somewhat more organized and somewhat more capable than people would've expected. But that's why they're being beaten back by the NATO forces that are there.
I think they also believed that when the United States forces moved out and NATO moved in, that it would be easier to make advances. And they're learning a very brutal lesson, as they encounter NATO forces that are destroying them in very large numbers.
WALLACE: I don't have to tell you that one of the criticisms of the Bush administration -- we heard it again today from Senator Jay Rockefeller -- is that all of you manipulated intelligence to push the country into war.
I want to discuss just one area, the issue of whether Iraq helped Al Qaida with weapons of mass destruction.
Here's what the president said in October of 2002.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We've learned that Iraq has trained Al Qaida members in bomb- making and poisons and deadly gases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: And in March 2003, just before the invasion, you said, talking about Iraq, "and a very strong link to training Al Qaida in chemical and biological techniques."
But, Secretary Rice, a Senate committee has just revealed that in February of 2002, months before the president spoke, more than a year, 13 months, before you spoke, that the Defense Intelligence Agency concluded this -- and let's put it up on the screen.
"Iraq is unlikely to have provided bin Laden any useful CB" -- that's chemical or biological -- "knowledge or assistance."
Didn't you and the president ignore intelligence that contradicted your case?
RICE: What the president and I and other administration officials relied on -- and you simply rely on the central intelligence. The director of central intelligence, George Tenet, gave that very testimony, that, in fact, there were ties going on between Al Qaida and Saddam Hussein's regime going back for a decade. Indeed, the 9/11 Commission talked about contacts between the two. We know that Zarqawi was running a poisons network in Iraq. We know that Zarqawi ordered the killing of an American diplomat in Jordan from Iraq. There were ties between Iraq and Al Qaida.
Now, are we learning more now that we have access to people like Saddam Hussein's intelligence services? Of course we're going to learn more. But clearly...
WALLACE: But, Secretary Rice, this report, if I may, this report wasn't now. This isn't after the fact. This was a Defense Intelligence Agency report in 2002.
Two questions: First of all, did you know about that report before you made your statement?
RICE: Chris, we relied on the reports of the National Intelligence Office, the NIO, and of the DCI. That's what the president and his central decision-makers rely on. There are...
WALLACE: Did you know about this report?
RICE: ... intelligence reports and conflicting intelligence reports all the time. That's why we have an intelligence system that brings those together into a unified assessment by the intelligence community of what we're looking at.
That particular report I don't remember seeing. But there are often conflicting intelligence reports.
I just want to refer you, though, to the testimony of the DCI at the time about the activities...
WALLACE: That's the head of central intelligence.
RICE: Yes, head of central intelligence -- that were going on between Al Qaida and between Iraq.
But let me make a broader point. The notion, somehow -- and I've heard this -- the notion, somehow, that the world would be better off with Saddam Hussein still in power seems to me quite ludicrous.
Saddam Hussein had gone to war against his neighbors twice, causing more than a million deaths. He had dragged us into a war in 1991 because he invaded his neighbor Kuwait. We were still at war with him in 1998 when we used American forces to try and disable his weapons of mass destruction. We went to war again with him, day in and day out, as he shot at our aircraft trying to patrol no-fly zones. This was a mass murderer of more than 300,000 of his own people, using weapons of mass destruction.
The United States and a coalition of allies finally brought down one of the most brutal dictators in the Middle East and one of the most dangerous dictators in the Middle East, and we're better off for it.
WALLACE: We have about a minute left, and I want to get into one last area.
There have been several stories this week that you prevailed over Vice President Cheney in the debate over whether or not to pull these top, high- valued prisoners, like Zubaydah and Khalid Sheik Mohammed, out of the CIA prisons. Also, reports that you now have more clout with the president than Vice President Cheney because of mistakes in judgment he made in the first term.
Have you replaced...
RICE: Oh, I think these are...
WALLACE: ... the vice president?
RICE: These are truly among most of the ridiculous stories. These stories float around Washington -- who's up, who's down.
The vice president remains a crucial adviser to the president. His role is different than my role. But not only is he a crucial adviser to the president, in whom the president relies, but he's also someone on whom all of us rely, including me, for advice and counsel because of his great experience and because of his great wisdom on these issues.
No, these stories are simply ridiculous.
WALLACE: You have not replaced the vice president as the president's top foreign policy adviser?
RICE: I'm the secretary of state, Chris. I have a different role from the vice president.
But let's remember who ultimately makes the decisions on foreign policy. It's the president of the United States himself.
WALLACE: We're going to have to leave it there. Secretary Rice, thanks for coming in...
RICE: Thank you.
WALLACE: ... and thanks for giving us your perspective on this fifth anniversary.
RICE: Thank you.
WALLACE: Coming up, as we continue our coverage of where our country is five years after 9/11, we'll talk with the head of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean. Back in a moment. #####
CBS News Transcripts
SHOW: Face the Nation 10:30 AM EST CBS
September 10, 2006 Sunday
HEADLINE: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discusses war on terror and war in Iraq
ANCHORS: BOB SCHIEFFER
BOB SCHIEFFER, host: On this day before the fifth anniversary of 9/11, we begin with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Madame Secretary, thank you so much for coming.
Dr. CONDOLEEZZA RICE (Secretary of State): Of course, Bob.
SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this: After 9/11, we went to Iraq because we were told Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and because Iraq was a place that harbored terrorists. We've known for a long time now that Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction, and now in this bombshell report that the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee released Friday, we find that US intelligence agencies concluded long ago that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. So it begs the question, was this whole thing a colossal mistake?
Dr. RICE: Well, first of all, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein is very important and better for the world. One cannot imagine a Middle East that would be different, and would not be a place in which extremism thrives without Saddam Hussein's removal and the chance for a different kind of Iraq.
But at the time, Bob, the intelligence services in fact did not say that there was no connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq. That's simply not the case. George Tenet, then the director of Central Intelligence, testified that there were multiple contacts going back a decade between Osama bin Laden and Iraq. In fact, the 9/11 Commission itself talked about contacts.
What did we know? We know that Iraq was a state sponsor of terror, had been--of terrorism--had in fact been listed by the State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism. We know that Zarqawi ordered the killing of an American diplomat from Iraq, that he ran a poisons network in Iraq; that the Abu Nidal Organization, the terrorist organization, had operated out of Iraq. So there were clearly links between terrorism and Iraq.
But more importantly, we had been at war with Iraq in 1991 because Saddam Hussein destabilized the region by invading Kuwait. That brought us into the region, into places like Saudi Arabia, with our forces in ways that were unprecedented. In 1998, President Clinton ordered American forces against Saddam Hussein--air power against Saddam Hussein. For the entire period after the end of the Gulf War--the first Gulf War, our pilots were flying no-fly zones and being shot at by Saddam's forces. The idea that somehow this was a peaceful relationship with Saddam Hussein, if we had just let him be, the world would have been fine, I just find a not very sustainable argument.
SCHIEFFER: But you know, in his book, "Fiasco," Tom Ricks writes that all of what you say is true, but he says in a sense, we had contained Saddam Hussein, that he wasn't posing, really, a threat to much of anybody.
Dr. RICE: Well, perhaps people can disagree, but I do not consider a Saddam Hussein who was still firing at our aircraft, who was still threatening his neighbors, who had caused 300,000 deaths in his own country, having used weapons of mass destruction, who was breaking the embargo, the so-called Oil-for-Food program that had turned into an enormous scandal where the people of Iraq were being hurt, but certainly not Saddam's regime, I don't consider that contained.
SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just ask you for your reaction to what the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller, said. He says that despite the evidence, the administration used, and these are the words he used, "cynical manipulation--deliberately cynical manipulation--to shape American public opinion." He went on to suggest that we might actually be better off if Saddam were still in power. Listen to what else he said.
Senator JAY ROCKEFELLER (Democrat, West Virginia): (September 8) He wasn't going to attack us. He was surrounded by people who didn't like him. You think the Saudis like Saddam Hussein? Do you think the--Iran likes him? Do you think Jordan likes him? No. He would've been isolated there. Yes, he would've been in control of that country, but we wouldn't have depleted our resources, preventing us from prosecuting a war on terror, which is what this is all about.
SCHIEFFER: Now that was an interview that he gave on Friday to our correspondent Sharyl Attkisson. What's your response?
Dr. RICE: Look, I have respect for Senator Rockefeller, but I just have to respectfully disagree. I mean, the notion somehow someone who had caused more than a million deaths in the Iran/Iraq War, someone who had invaded Kuwait and, we believe, was probably on his way to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, somebody who threatened his neighbors every day, who shot at our aircraft, who had broken out of an embargo and was using his oil wealth to build up an arsenal of weapons, that this was not a threat in the world's most volatile region? I just think it's very, frankly, odd analysis, and given the post-9/11 environment, a very dangerous analysis. Because what we learned with September 11th is not to let threats fester until they come back to haunt us.
Now, is it difficult going in Iraq? Absolutely. Are the Iraqi people struggling to build a stable democracy on the ruins of an old, tyrannical dictatorship in which people solve their problems by conflict and oppression, not by politics? Of course, it's difficult.
SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask you this, Madame Secretary, have we created some kind of a terrorist haven there? Because some would argue that there really was no terrorist threat in those days, but now that there actually is.
Dr. RICE: Well, Saddam Hussein--the State Department and the United States government had said that Iraq was a state sponsor of terror going all the way back to the 1990s. So he was a state sponsor of terror. He had terrorists operating in his country, including Zarqawi, who had a poisons network in the country. And I would just remind that at the time, the director of Central Intelligence talked about these contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda, and in fact, the 9/11 Commission talked about contacts.
There is, in retrospect, an attempt to somehow paint Saddam Hussein as just sitting there calmly in the region--yes, he was a bad guy, people didn't like him, but he wasn't much of a threat. It's simply ahistorical, if you look at the conflict into which he dragged that region, starting in the 1980s.
SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask you, and let's shift to something else, this week, or last week, of course, the president announced that these people that were in these secret prisons were now going to be transferred to military control. I'm told that within the administration, you were one of those who argued that this needed to be done. I'd like to ask you, Madame Secretary, when did you learn that the CIA was operating these secret prisons?
Dr. RICE: Well, Bob, we've talked in the past. When I was in Europe, I talked about the fact that, yes, we had intelligence activities that were trying to gain essential information from detainees, because the president's...
SCHIEFFER: Did you know early on about this?
Dr. RICE: I'm not going to talk about intelligence activities.
SCHIEFFER: Well, when did you think--why did you think it was necessary to get these people out into the open and into some sort of justice system?
Dr. RICE: Well, look, the president--the president gave his rationale for this in his speech, which is that now, some--almost five years after September 11th, when we have exploited the intelligence value--and exploited it, by the way, in a way that I think has kept America and its allies safer, because these people have been a font of extremely important information. But now, many years later, we believe we've exploited that intelligence value to the degree that it's now time to bring them to justice.
SCHIEFFER: Well, let me ask you this, Madame Secretary: The president said there's nobody currently in what he called this CIA program. I read that to mean these secret prisons. Will others be put in that program, or has it now been shut down?
Dr. RICE: Bob, the president is going to retain, and I think the American people will want him to retain, all the tools that are available to him within our laws to be able to get information from captured terrorists, to be sure that we can use that information to make the country more secure. After September 11th, it was very clear that the big missing link in our abilities to fight the kind of attack that took place on September 11 was information. You can't go around in a--like a needle in a haystack trying to find out who might attack. You need information.
SCHIEFFER: Well, is what your saying here is that it's all right for a democracy to operate secret prisons, but we just got all we could get out of these people, so we took them out of the prisons?
Dr. RICE: Bob, it is clearly an important thing for a democracy to protect itself and to use all legal means available to it and including those that live up to our treaty obligations to do that. Of course we're going to continue to run intelligence activities when they're needed. But let me just say one--the debate that has taken place, the McCain amendment that became the Detainee Treatment Act, the importance of the Supreme Court decision--what this shows is that in democratic societies there are--there's give and take, and now we're getting an institutionalization of the means to fight terror, and the president is cooperating with Congress to do that.
SCHIEFFER: Madame Secretary, thank you so much, as always.
Dr. RICE: Thank you very much.
SCHIEFFER: Hope to see you again. #####
SHOW: CNN LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER 11:00 AM EST
September 10, 2006 Sunday
HEADLINE: Interview With Condoleezza Rice;….
BYLINE: Wolf Blitzer
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: This is "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk.
BLITZER: Secretary Rice, thanks very much for coming in.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Pleasure to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: On this fifth anniversary of 9/11, there's a story on the front page of The Washington Post that says that the hunt for Osama bin Laden, quoting one U.S. source, "has gone stone cold. The clandestine U.S. commandos whose job is to capture of kill Osama bin Laden have not a credible lead in more than two years. Nothing from the vast U.S. intelligence world -- no tips from informants, no snippets from electronic intercepts, no points on any satellite image -- has led them anywhere near the Al Qaida leader, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials."
Is that true?
RICE: Well, I can't speak of the specifics of that, Wolf. I can tell you that the United States and its Pakistani allies, its Afghan allies are on the hunt for him and will continue to be on the hunt for him.
But in part, it is because he is in, apparently, very remote areas. He doesn't communicate, apparently, very much. And it is not easy to track someone who is determined to hide in very remote areas.
But Al Qaida is not just Osama bin Laden. And so, despite the fact that we will continue to press for his capture, to bring him to justice, the bringing down of Al Qaida's field generals, like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah and Ramzi bin Al-Shibh -- this has been critical to the fact that we've been able to prevent attacks on the American homeland.
And of course, that's the most important issue here.
BLITZER: Do you have a sense, though -- is he in Afghanistan or Pakistan?
RICE: I think that there are multiple reports about where he might be. But there are fewer and fewer places for him to hide.
What we do know is that he does not have the kind of safe haven that he had in Afghanistan before the Taliban was overthrown.
What we do know is that the Pakistanis operate now in areas of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan that they did not before. And so his world his gotten smaller.
I don't know precisely where he is, but I do know that we'll continue on the hunt for him. But we're also going to continue to remember that this is not about one man. This is about disabling the Al Qaida organization and its capacity to hurt us.
BLITZER: This new videotape -- old video, actually, that was released the other day on Al Jazeera, showing Osama bin Laden with some of the Al Qaida hijackers, what do you make? What's your interpretation of this video?
RICE: It's a little hard to interpret. I do know that one of the people the president mentioned, Ramzi bin Al-Shibh, was there apparently either after the fact talking about 9/11 or prior to 9/11 filling Osama bin Laden in on the details. It just shows that these lieutenants who were very important to the plotting and planning of September 11 are being brought to justice.
But I can't speak to Al Qaida's motivation for releasing a five- year-old tape at this point in time.
BLITZER: Let me read to you from the Senate intelligence committee report that came out this week, which I'm sure you've looked through. Among other things, it says this: "Postwar information indicates that Saddam Hussein attempted unsuccessfully to locate and capture Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and that the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi."
The report goes on to say: "According to debriefs of multiple detainees, including Saddam Hussein and former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, and captured documents, Saddam did not trust Al Qaida or any other radical Islamist group and did not want to cooperate with them."
This is in stark contrast to some of your statements and presidential statements in recent weeks, months and years.
RICE: You started out with a very important modifier, postwar intelligence says. Do we have better access now to understand what Saddam Hussein may have been doing so we can question Saddam Hussein, question Tariq Aziz, question his intelligence officers? Of course. But did we have the ability to get that kind of information before he was brought down?
The fact is, nonetheless, before he was brought down, Iraq had been designated a state sponsor of terror going back into the '90s. The Abu Nidal organization operated out of there. We know that Zarqawi ran a poisons network in Iraq. We know, too, that he ordered the killing of an American diplomat from Iraq. And we know that in testimony of the director of central intelligence at the time and as a matter of fact even in the 9-11 report that contacts between Al Qaida and Iraq had been going on, going back for more than a decade. So was Iraq involved with terror? Absolutely, Iraq was involved with terror. Were they a danger to make alliances with people who wanted to hurt us? Absolutely. We are learning more about the nature of those terrorist ties now that we have access to people who we couldn't have possibly had access to before the invasion of Iraq.
BLITZER: Because specifically on the connection between Saddam Hussein and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by U.S. forces earlier in the summer, the leader of Al Qaida in Iraq, I want to play what you told Larry King on February 5, 2003, and more recently what the president himself said only last month. Listen to these two clips.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICE: There is no question in my mind about the Al Qaida connection. It is a connection that has unfolded, that we're learning more about as we are able to take the testimony of detainees, people who were high up in the Al Qaida organization.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Zarqawi's the best evidence of a connection to Al Qaida affiliates and Al Qaida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: That was what the president said in 2004. I want to play more recently what he said on August 21, only a couple of weeks ago, at his news conference. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I swear it (ph), because imagine a world in which you had Saddam Hussein, who had the capacity to make a weapon of mass destruction, who was paying suiciders to kill innocent life, who had relations with Zarqawi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, now, that's the sensitive point. The Senate intelligence committee report says flatly, he had no relations with Zarqawi. In fact, he saw Zarqawi as an enemy of the Iraqi regime.
RICE: The information on which -- about what the president is talking about, of which the president is talking, is that Iraq was a state sponsor of terror. That we know. That Zarqawi operated a terrorist network in Iraq, that we know. That he ordered the killing of an American diplomat from Iraq, and indeed had money come to him in order to do that, that we know. Are we getting a more...
BLITZER: This is Zarqawi you're talking about. RICE: This is Zarqawi that we're talking about.
BLITZER: But Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein were in a battle?
RICE: I don't think -- well, first of all, let's take with a grain of salt the notion that somehow Zarqawi and Saddam were in some kind of pitched battle.
BLITZER: That's what the report concludes.
RICE: No, what the report concludes is that some have testified that Saddam Hussein did not trust Zarqawi and that he was trying to find him. As I said, we are learning more as we have access to these people.
But the fact is that Iraq was a state sponsor of terror.
And what the president is talking about and what we've all been concerned about -- were all concerned about -- was this nexus between one of the most dangerous figures in the Middle East, Saddam Hussein, who had taken that region to war twice in a very short period of time, causing more than a million lives in the Iran-Iraq war and putting 300,000 of his own people in mass graves.
That link, his love of weapons of mass destruction, someone who had actually used them against his own people -- the link between Saddam Hussein, a dangerous figure, terrorists who he clearly harbored like Abu Nidal and his animosity for the United States, and his ability to build weapons of mass destruction -- in a post-September 11th world, letting that nexus remain in the middle of the world's most volatile region was not in the U.S. interest. And the world is better off without him.
BLITZER: Up next, more of my interview with the secretary of state. She addresses the criticism that the Bush administration hyped bad intelligence regarding Saddam Hussein's regime and weapons of mass destruction.
Plus, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown on the handling of terror detainees at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
And later, Democrats are taking on President Bush over national security. And Senator John Kerry is among those leading the charge.
We'll talk with the former Democratic presidential nominee. You're watching "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition." Let's get to part two of my interview with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who's strongly defending the Bush administration's case for war with Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: There are several other countries on the State Department list of state sponsors of terror, including Syria and Cuba and Iran, North Korea. And the United States has not gone to war to depose their leaders.
RICE: Well, but Saddam Hussein was special in this case. This is somebody against whom we went to war in 1991.
BLITZER: But wasn't he contained -- with hindsight...
RICE: No, I simply don't buy that argument.
BLITZER: ... contained in that box?
RICE: No, absolutely not. This is somebody who was, with high prices of oil -- by the way, not as high as they are now -- was continuing to build his arsenal, somebody against whom the sanctions regime had clearly broken down -- you can't read the reports of the oil-for-food scandal and think that the oil-for-food sanctions were somehow constraining Saddam Hussein -- somebody who continued to shoot at our pilots as they tried to fly no-fly zones to keep him from attacking his own people or attacking his neighbors, someone who was paying money to suicide bombers to launch attacks on Israel.
BLITZER: So let me interrupt...
RICE: This was a dangerous man, and it was time to get rid of him.
BLITZER: So looking back, with hindsight, obviously -- all of us are smarter with hindsight -- no weapons of mass destruction, absolutely no connection to the 9/11 plot from Saddam Hussein -- is that right?
RICE: Well, it depends on how you think about 9/11. I think we've all said Saddam Hussein, as far as we know, had no knowledge of, no role in the 9/11 plot itself.
But if you think that 9/11 was just about Al Qaida and the hijackers, then there's no connection to Iraq.
But if you believe, as the president does and as I believe, that the problem is this ideology of hatred that has taken root, extremist ideology that has taken root in the Middle East, and that you have to go to the source and do something about the politics of that region, it is unimaginable that you could do something about the Middle East with Saddam Hussein sitting in the center of it, threatening his neighbors, threatening our allies, tying down American forces in Saudi Arabia.
We are in much better shape to build a different kind of Middle East with Saddam Hussein gone.
BLITZER: So you have no regrets about going to war against Saddam Hussein? RICE: Oh, no, absolutely not. I think it is one of the most important historical decisions that an American president has taken in decades. And it is the right decision. Because when there are threats like that in a volatile region, you should take care of them and give yourself a chance for a better future.
BLITZER: This same Senate Intelligence Committee report says that the intelligence that you were getting -- your administration, the U.S. government -- from Ahmed Chalabi, one of the Iraqi exile leaders and his Iraqi National Congress, much of that was fabricated and phony.
RICE: Well, the same...
BLITZER: Involving the weapons of mass destruction.
RICE: Look, Wolf, the same intelligence reports that it seems to have had -- whatever fabricated evidence there was seems to have had relatively little effect on the Central Intelligence documents the president was relying on -- the National Intelligence Estimate, the work that he got from the director of Central Intelligence.
Let's remember -- and people have short memories -- there were very tough sanctions on Saddam Hussein. Why?
Because the entire world worried about his weapons of mass destruction, because he continued to lie to weapons inspectors, because he created conditions in which they had to leave in 1998.
President Clinton ordered, in 1998, strikes against Iraq, because of these...
BLITZER: But we now know -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- that he was telling the truth when he said he didn't have weapons of mass destruction.
RICE: But what we do know, also, from other reports is that he was retaining certain kinds of capabilities, that he never lost his intention to build these weapons of mass destruction. And I think this will unfold over time.
But when you ask, given what we knew at the time, was it right to take him down? Absolutely.
Given what we know now, was it right to take him down? Absolutely.
BLITZER: So you're still saying that. I want you to listen to what Senator Jay Rockefeller, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Democrat from West Virginia, said, in releasing the Senate report on Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER (D-WV): The administration, in its zeal to promote public opinion in the United States for toppling Saddam Hussein, pursued a deceptive strategy prior to the war of using intelligence reporting that the intelligence community warned was uncorroborated, unreliable, and in critical instances, fabricated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RICE: Simply untrue. I have a lot of respect for Senator Rockefeller, but let's just review where we were before this war. We had in 1998 a vote by the United States Senate -- I believe unanimously -- that Saddam Hussein's regime was so dangerous that we needed to change the regime. It was called the Iraq Liberation Act.
We had, at the time of the war, a vote in which speeches were given on the floor about how the intelligence was unequivocal that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
The entire world thought Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And whatever information turns out to have been in error was simply in error.
The administration was going on the basis of intelligence reports from the entire intelligence community that for instance said that he had reconstituted his biological and chemical programs and, unchecked, would build a nuclear weapon again. When you have that kind of information, you have a dangerous dictator in the world's most volatile region who has gone to war twice and used weapons of mass destruction, it would indeed be shirking the responsibilities of the president not to take him out.
BLITZER: But that information about reconstituting biological, that was wrong.
RICE: Well, Wolf, again, prewar intelligence and postwar intelligence, once you're in Iraq, you can learn things that you could not possibly know before you were in Iraq. But the fact is, the intelligence committee itself, many of the people who had the same access that the administration had, believed that he had weapons of mass destruction. It was on that basis and his danger to the region and to American interests that in a post-September 11 world, it was time to take Saddam Hussein out.
BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition." I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We return now to my interview with the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.
BLITZER: The Democratic presidential nominee in 2004, John Kerry, who is going to be on this program later, he made a very, very stark statement yesterday. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
U.S. SENATOR JOHN KERRY, D-MASSACHUSETTS: Be forewarned: Don't be surprised if they hype the Iranian nuclear crisis come October, if all other appeals to fear are failing as the midterm election approaches.
RICE: Well, I'm not going to try to speak to politics. But I think it's really quite remarkable when you have a statement like that when you've had the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors register severe concerns about the Iranian nuclear activity, when you've had the U.N. Security Council vote just a little over a month and a half ago that Iran must mandatorily suspend its enrichment activities, when you have the IAEA director general, Mohamed ElBaradei, saying he's not getting full cooperation from Iran.
This isn't the United States hyping a threat. This is the United States trying to build a coalition of states, all of whom know that Iranian nuclear activities are unexplained and troubling.
BLITZER: Do you have the support from Russia and China and even France for tough sanctions against Iran right now?
RICE: I think we will see that the world knows that Iran has not lived up to the promise, the promising opportunity that was given to it when the six powers got together to put forward a package of incentives. It said clearly to Iran it was possible for Iran to have civil nuclear power and civil nuclear cooperation. Iran has not taken that opportunity, and I'm quite certain, having not taken that opportunity, that the world will respond as the Security Council resolution demands.
BLITZER: With tough sanctions?
RICE: There will be, I'm quite certain, sanctions that demonstrate to Iran that it can't continue on this course.
Now, Wolf, it is true that people want to leave open the path of negotiations, that talks are continuing. But Iran also needs to understand, and I think will understand, that the world is prepared to act on the resolution that it passed just six weeks ago.
BLITZER: Most of Iran's revenue comes from the export of oil. It's a major oil exporting country.
Should the United States propose sanctions on Iraqi oil exports?
RICE: On Iranian exports?
BLITZER: Excuse me -- on Iranian oil exports?
RICE: The issue here is not Iranian oil exports.
BLITZER: Why not get them where it would be the most painful?
RICE: Because we believe that the key here is perhaps on the financial side. There are things that you can do to cut off financing to Iran's programs, to make clear to Iran that it will not be able to take advantage of the international financial system in the way that it needs to to be able to use those proceeds from oil.
Everybody jumps to the notion that oil and gas sanctions are the next best thing. We have developed, with our partners, a list of potential sanctions.
I think we will want to match those to Iranian activities and to Iranian behavior at any point in time, but that there will be an international community, an international coalition that will make it clear to Iran that it can't continue on the course that it's on. I'm quite certain of that.
BLITZER: How concerned are you about Iranian influence in Iraq right now?
The Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, scheduled to go to Iran this week. Your ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, saying, only a few weeks ago, that Iran is fomenting a lot of the insurgency against the Iraqi government right now, and urging attacks on U.S. military forces.
RICE: I don't think there is any doubt that Iran is a negative force, particularly in the South of the country, in encouraging some of these militia activities.
But I don't see a problem with Prime Minister Maliki going to Iran. It's a neighbor of Iraq. They do have diplomatic relations. I think the Iranians -- the Iraqis will carry very strong messages that they expect Iran to behave like a good neighbor, not a neighbor that is trying to destabilize the country.
BLITZER: You're not concerned that Iran, Iran right now is effectively winning in terms of influence, influencing the shape of a future Iraq?
RICE: I have no doubts that the Iraqis, having thrown off the yoke of Saddam Hussein, do not wish to replace it with the yoke of Ayatollah Khamenei. And they are fiercely independent people. They want good relations with their neighbors, but they also want the capacity and the ability to chart their own future.
BLITZER: Is there a civil war in Iraq right now?
I say it in this context, and I'll read to you what Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said on August 6th. He said, "Are we going to put our troops in the middle of a civil war? Who are they going to fight? This will be slaughter of immense proportions. The American people will not put up with it. The leadership in Congress will not put up with it. We cannot put American troops and ask them to do the things that we're asking them to do in the middle of a civil war, and that's where it's headed."
RICE: Well, there is sectarian violence, a lot of it, by the way, set off because Al Qaida in Iraq, under Zarqawi, had a plan to try to set Shia against Sunni and vice versa. And to a certain extent, some of that has taken place.
But the idea that, somehow, they've fallen into civil war because there is sectarian violence, I think, is simply not right.
The Iraqis continue to try to build a government of national unity in which Kurds and Sunni and Shia are trying to work out the political bargains that will finally allow Iraqis to use political institutions, not violence and repression, to work out their differences. They are building a national army. They've done well in building their national army. It's respected across Iraq.
I think they've had more trouble building police that are non- sectarian. And there, the change in the Ministry of Interior is believed to be having an effect. It's the minister of interior who is indeed dedicated to police...
BLITZER: Because the violence in Iraq today is as bad if not worse than it's been in the past three and a half years.
RICE: And it will take some time for this young government to get its hands around this, to get security forces. The Baghdad security plan, we believe, is having some effect. But of course, violent people can always engage in kidnappings or killings or suicide bombings.
What's harder to show is the commitment of many, many Iraqis, most Iraqis, including most Iraqi leaders, to finding a political bargain that will allow them to exist as one country. That's what they want. That's what they're working toward. And we are expressing confidence in them as they seek that future.
BLITZER: We're almost out of time. A quick question on the Israeli-Lebanese issue: The U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 called for the unconditional release of those two Israeli soldiers that sparked the most recent war between Israel and Hezbollah; also for the disarming of Hezbollah.
That's an old resolution as well, going back to the year 2004.
Is there any progress being made on either of those fronts, the unconditional release of the soldiers and the disarming of Hezbollah?
RICE: Well, certainly on the unconditional release of the soldiers, it has to happen. And I note that Secretary-General Annan has said that he will use his good offices to try to bring that about. What has happened in Lebanon?
You have Lebanese authority, for the first time, central Lebanese authority, spread throughout the country, including the Lebanese army, into the south.
You have an international arms embargo against the rearming of organizations like Hezbollah, at the expense of the Lebanese government. You have German help for the Lebanese at their airport and an international naval force helping with patrolling the shores.
And you have a political process in which the Lebanese understand that they have obligations not to have armed militias running in the country because they want central authority to be in the hands of the Lebanese government.
Now, Wolf, it's going to take some time. Lebanon didn't get into this mess overnight. And it's not going to become a stable, fully functioning democracy overnight, either.
But they have made very big strides forward. I know that there are those who want to say that Hezbollah somehow gained from this latest round, but you know, with Nasrallah saying that, maybe if he had known that the Israelis were going to do what they did, he might not have launched this attack.
It makes you wonder, what is he hearing about how people are seeing Hezbollah? As this settles down, the winners here will be a moderate, democratic Lebanese government with enormous international support, financially, in terms of reconstruction and in terms of security.
And that will mean that the region will win. Because the kind of extremism, outside of normal Lebanese political channels, which allowed Hezbollah to attack Israel, unbeknownst to the Lebanese government and to sink the country into destruction, I think that you are beginning to see the creation of conditions in the South which will not allow that to happen.
BLITZER: On that note, we'll leave it. Madam Secretary, thanks very much.
RICE: Thank you very much. Good to be with you.
(END VIDEOTAPE) #####