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Interview With Dan Rather on 60 Minutes II

Secretary Colin L. Powell
New York City
February 5, 2003

MR. RATHER: Listened closely to you today. Impossible to come away with any other conclusion: We're going to war.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we hope we don't have to go to war, but I must say that unless there is a change on the part of Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime, I think the Security Council will have to deal with this, and I think they will stand up to the challenge of a dictator who doesn't understand that the will of the international community cannot be ignored in this way.

MR. RATHER: Is it or is it not your expectation that Saddam Hussein will offer some kind of compromise, maybe allow the U-2 flights or something such as that? Be enough to get a delay?

SECRETARY POWELL: It wouldn't surprise me if he offered some token to the inspectors and made some offer with respect to process. But that's not what we're looking for. We're looking for a substantive change in the policy of his government, not just another way to play cat-and-mouse with the inspectors.

So, in my judgment, it will not be enough for him to simply say, "Okay, I'll now start to allow the U-2 flights." That's not the issue. The issue is him making people available so we can find out what they know about these weapons of mass destruction, without monitors being around, so that he starts to turn over equipment that we know he has and he's hiding, that he comes clean. He needs to come clean.

MR. RATHER: Mr. Secretary, in addition to being a diplomat, you're a lifetime soldier. Why wouldn't Saddam Hussein say, "Look, if they're going to strike me, I'm going to unload what anthrax or some other chemical or biological weapon now," or, at the very least, use them against our troops when they go in?

SECRETARY POWELL: I faced this question before in the Gulf war, and he could have done it then. We made sure that he and his subordinate leaders understood that there would be consequences for such action, and those officers who would actually execute such orders would be held to account after the conflict. They weren't used then.

But even in anticipation that they might be used, we did everything to protect our soldiers and we did not let the threat of that kind of capability stopping us from what needs to be done, and we cannot let that kind of a threat now stop us from what might need to be done.

MR. RATHER: And the possibility, some would say the probability, that even as we speak he's getting some of these chemical and biological weapons in the hands of terrorists, al-Qaida and otherwise?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know if he is or he is not, but that's a chance that we don't want to take. That's why I was so strong in making that case today about the danger of the nexus between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

MR. RATHER: Mr. Secretary, you have to be aware a lot of people are saying Colin Powell has changed, that for a long time he was at least the one strong voice in the Bush administration saying diplomacy, go with the UN, we can't go it alone; and now you make this appearance before the UN and people say, "Listen, he's gone to the other side."

SECRETARY POWELL: I haven't gone anywhere. I am right where I have always been. These silly labels that people like to hang on various individuals in government are just those: silly labels.

I said clearly at the beginning that we should try the diplomatic route. The President agreed with that. The President decided to go the diplomatic route.

But when we passed Resolution 1441 there was a hammer in 1441. It said you have been in breach; Saddam Hussein and Iraq, we are giving you a chance to get out of breach by coming clean; and if you don't come clean, there are serious consequences. And everybody who worked on that resolution and all of us who passed it on the 8th of November last year understood that serious consequences meant the use of force.

Unfortunately, Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi regime are slowly going by all the off ramps for peace, all the off ramps for diplomacy to solve this problem.

MR. RATHER: So, unless something dramatic changes, we're going to war?

SECRETARY POWELL: I wouldn't answer it that way, Dan, because I always like to keep hope alive that one can avoid war. We'll see what happens when the two chief inspectors go to Baghdad this weekend and whether they bring back anything of use for Security Council deliberations.

And then, next Friday, both of them, Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei, will report again to the Security Council. I think that will be a very important meeting.

MR. RATHER: Mr. Secretary, I want to read you what the Iraqi official spokesman said after you appeared before the United Nations today, and I quote directly about what you presented: "A collection of stunts, special effects and unnamed sources." That was one quote. Another: "Utterly unrelated to the truth."

Your reaction to those?

SECRETARY POWELL: I spent most of the last 4 days going over every sentence in my statement and making sure that when people raised questions about every one of those statements we could support those statements.

There are no doctored tapes. There are no doctored photos. What you see is the truth and it is reality, and we are very, very confident in what we presented today.

MR. RATHER: And to those who say, "Well, there's no smoking gun," would you argue with that?

SECRETARY POWELL: What do you mean by a smoking gun? How about lots of smoke? I think I put forward a case today that said there's lots of smoke.

There are many smoking guns. When we say that he has had thousands of liters of anthrax, and we know it -- he's admitted it, it's a matter of record, there's evidence, there's no question about it -- is that a smoking gun? Is it a smoking gun that he has this horrible material somewhere in that country and he's not accounted for it? And the very fact that he has not accounted for it, I say could be a smoking gun. It's been a gun that's been smoking for years.

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