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Remarks With Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio After Their Meeting

Secretary Colin L. Powell
C Street Entrance
Washington, DC
June 26, 2003

(6:10 p.m. EDT)

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It is, again, a great pleasure to have my colleague and good friend Ana Palacio here, the Foreign Minister of Spain. And we've had a good discussion on the issues of interest to us: Iraq, Afghanistan, relations with the EU. I briefed her on the EU Summit that was held here yesterday and expressed again our condolences for the loss the Spanish soldiers who were serving their nation and serving the cause of peace.

The relationship between the United States and Spain, as you all well know, is very, very close. I think it reflects in the relationship that Foreign Minister Palacios and I have, and that our two Presidents have, as well. And so, Madame Minister, it is always a great pleasure to have you here.

FOREIGN MINISTER PALACIO: Well, the pleasure is mine and I have very little to add. We have, as each time; each and every time had a very good discussion. I have learned and well, we will -- or at least I will answer your questions.

SECRETARY POWELL: Okay.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, do you have any reaction to the arrest of the prime suspect in the Riyadh bombings? And do you know whether he was captured or whether he gave himself up?

SECRETARY POWELL: We haven't received confirmation of that information yet. If it turns out to be true -- and I don't have the details, therefore, -- but if it turns out to be true, we'll be very, very pleased and -- that this terrorist has been brought to justice. But I can't confirm it yet and therefore, I also can't confirm the details of the situation.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, increasingly every day, including today, American soldiers are being shot and killed in Iraq. Are you alarmed by this, the increasing incidents of these shootings? And what can we do to keep our troops safe from these ambushes?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, it's a dangerous situation, still. We are working hard to improve security: security for the population as well as security for our troops. But we always knew that it would be dangerous and it would take time. And I am confident in the ability of our military authorities to do everything they can to wipe out these pockets of resistance, whether they are old Saddamites and Ba'athists, or Fedayeen, or just criminal elements who are doing it, but it's going to take some time and determination. And we will take the time and will apply the determination and military and police power to do it.

QUESTION: But are you alarmed that it seems to be unrelenting and increasing each day?

SECRETARY POWELL: We are concerned, obviously, and we're working hard to deal with the problem. And I have confidence in the Department of Defense and the military commanders who are working on this issue.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you alluded to this in your presentation to George Schultz about members of the State Department who voiced dissent in terms of pressure that they might have felt to tailor any evidence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Do you think that this went on in the Department? And what do you think of Mr. Westermann's speaking and, through Congress, speaking out about any pressure that he felt?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. There are always debates about intelligence subjects. You get information in, and there are debates. And Mr. Westermann was in a debate with other members of the Department on some of the intelligence information. And when he was asked about it, he said that he felt that he was under pressure at that time.

I think what's important to note, though, is that he didn't find that there was any need to yield to that pressure, and he didn't change any of his opinions or any of his assessments. And I called his superior yesterday to make sure that -- Carl Ford, the Director of INR -- and I called Mr. Ford to make sure that he communicated to Mr. Westermann that I was pleased that when asked a question by a member of the Congress, he honestly answered that question, and he should not feel that he is either under any pressure or any threat for having done what he was morally required to do as a member of the Department.

QUESTION: Are you afraid that, perhaps, the State Department analysts', intelligence analysts' opinions are given short shrift to other members of the administration?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, not at all. My -- if you're referring to the other story that was in The New York Times today, the INR Bureau advised me on 2 June, as the story said, that they didn't have the same level of assurance and confidence in what the intelligence community was saying about the mobile labs as the intelligence community did.

They weren't disagreeing with the intelligence community in the sense that they weren't saying it wasn't a mobile lab. They just were not quite up on that curve of confidence that the rest of the intelligence community was at. And so when they reported this to me as they should -- they are supposed to tell me things like this when they have a judgment of this nature -- and I immediately had -- I was in the Middle East -- and I immediately had my Deputy, Rich Armitage, communicate this point of view to the Director of Central Intelligence. And the factors that caused my folks to have not quite the same level of confidence were known to the intelligence community and the DCI and were factored into their assessment. And the DCI, who is the person who makes the final judgment on such matters, felt confident about the judgment that he had made. And I felt confident about the judgment that he had made, but I appreciated the fact that the experts in my Department were expressing their opinion to me. And that opinion was taken into account, and it was passed to the intelligence community for them to take that opinion into account. That's the way this system is supposed to work, and I am pleased that it worked that it worked that way.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, but do you feel that political pressure has been put on you --

SECRETARY POWELL: What political pressure?

QUESTION: Any political pressure?

SECRETARY POWELL: No. No.

QUESTION: -- information?

SECRETARY POWELL: No. You're leading the witness. I'm the one who went to the United Nations on the 5th of February and presented the intelligence case that the United States had developed. And as we saw from some of nuclear information that came out yesterday, which you've all had a chance to see, slowly but surely, we are providing more evidence. I don't know that we needed more evidence, but we're providing evidence on the ground that makes the case that we made that day.

What I said that day with respect to the nuclear account, the nuclear problem, was that they had brain power, they had plans, and they had never lost sight of their goal, which was to develop a nuclear weapon, and if they ever had the chance to restart, they would restart. And that's what I presented. And we talked about the centrifuges, and I said there are two schools of thought about the centrifuges. We have one. Others have another. Let us continue to examine this issue.

And frankly, from what I've seen in the following months on that issue, anyway, I think the presentation holds up, and I have never felt that I have been under any political pressure to say anything that was not supported by the intelligence community or that I didn't believe.

The President asked me to go and make that presentation. And I did, and I think it's a presentation that will stand the test of time.

QUESTION: (Question in Spanish.)

FOREIGN MINISTER PALACIO: (Answer in Spanish.)

SECRETARY POWELL: One more.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, are those analysts in INR Bureau now as confident as the CIA was that the mobile vans are, in fact, for biological warfare?

SECRETARY POWELL: Their confidence level is increasing. They still have some questions, and those questions are well known to the CIA. But I have confidence in the judgment of the CIA that they are for the purpose of developing biological weapons. It's been studied very thoroughly. But we're -- there are still some questions that are being looked at and analyzed. And Carl Ford has been out to the CIA to share all of the ideas and judgments and different alternative considerations that should be applied to the analysis.

And so we have been in complete open analysis with, you know, having a complete open analysis with the CIA, and the Director of Central Intelligence remains confident of his judgment. And frankly, I haven't seen anything to suggest that that judgment is wrong. And so we are sticking with the judgment of the DCI. He is the one who has the best position to analyze all of the information and to make this judgment. And INR participates in the work of the intelligence community, but ultimately, it is the DCI who makes the judgment.

Thank you.


Released on June 26, 2003

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