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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > What the Secretary Has Been Saying > 2006 Secretary Rice's Remarks > September 2006: Secretary Rice's Remarks

Interview With Cali Carlin Sorensen of Channel One TV

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
September 8, 2006

QUESTION: On this anniversary, many are concerned that we aren't any safer than we were before 9/11. How can you assure our audience everything is being done to keep them safe?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we are safer, but we're not yet safe. And I think it's important for people to recognize that every day terrorists plot to try and hurt us again. And the truth of the matter is that they only have to be right once. We have to be right 100 percent of the time. And that's an unfair fight, but it's a fight that this President has taken on. And we are safer because we have made improvements in homeland security, in our port security, in our airports. We are safer because we have much better ways now to share information between agencies.

Before September 11th, it was impossible, difficult for our intelligence agencies to talk to our law enforcement agencies. And so you could miss the fact that someone had been picked up on a law enforcement charge, and maybe the intelligence agencies had information but they didn't share it. Now they do thanks to something called the Patriot Act. And we are better off because we have international partners who are also constantly looking for information and sharing information. But frankly, a lot of the people that we've captured, some of the people that the President talked about the other day, some of the key leaders of al-Qaida, some of their field generals, they've given us invaluable information about future plots, about how the organization works. And so we're safer and the President makes the point all the time that we have to stay on the offense. We can't just defend ourselves. And so the 50 million people that we've liberated in Afghanistan and Iraq, who are now fighters in the war on terror, are also a part of the reason that we are moving in a better direction.

QUESTION: You mentioned many people that have been captured, however, the man responsible for 9/11, Usama bin Laden, has not. How can we be safe until he is captured and are we any closer?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, he's certainly a very important figure and there are a lot of people looking for Usama bin Laden. Now, he hides. He sends other to martyrdom, but he hides in caves or in the high mountains. And we're -- one day we're going to get him, too. But it's very interesting, the people who plotted September 11th, actually got the financing, hired the hijackers, those people are in custody as that tape that al-Qaida just released a little earlier today showed one of them, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, he was one of the people that the President mentioned in his speech just a couple of days ago. So in many ways the perpetrators, the field generals of al-Qaida who plotted and planned that attack, many of them are in custody. Now it's time to bring them to justice and that's why the President wants to transfer them to Guantanamo and get them before military commissions.

QUESTION: Some would say the war in Iraq has made this country more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Will you speak to the criticism that attention's been diverted from the real threat of al-Qaida?

SECRETARY RICE: Sure. Well, first of all, the attention of al-Qaida is full and complete. There are many, many people -- hundreds of people -- who are tracking al-Qaida, working with our allies on al-Qaida, bringing al-Qaida leaders to justice, getting information about al-Qaida, stopping plots like the British plot that was recently uncovered. That works goes on and continues. We're fighting in Afghanistan with our NATO treaty allies to make sure that Taliban is fully and finally defeated so that our new ally in the war on terror, the Afghan democratic government of Hamid Karzai, survives and prospers. And we are looking long term to a different kind of Middle East that will produce this ideology of hatred that causes people to fly airplanes into buildings. And that's why Iraq will ultimately make us safer, too, because we can do a lot to stop al-Qaida. We have to stop its ideology; that's what's spreading.

And the notion that somehow, because we've decided to take them on in a central front like Iraq, that there is somehow now more of them, I think it's just a false argument. There are plenty of people willing to fight us and hurt us. What we're doing now is we're finally confronting them, and we're challenging their ideology in a way that might give people hope.

QUESTION: Is there anything in this specific situation in Iraq that you've learned that you would approach a similar situation in the future differently?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I'm sure there are going to be many things when we look back that we could have done better, that we should have done differently. That's the nature of big, historical change. But the right decision was the decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein to give the Iraqi people a chance for a better life, for a more peaceful life. It's a struggle. It's hard. Democracy -- building democracy is always hard. It was hard in our country. It's been hard for countries across the world to do that.

But it -- sometimes it's remarkable to me that people say, well, because it was hard maybe you shouldn't have done it. If I look at the number of things in history that were hard but should have been done, it's the entire range of history. And so we will defeat this ideology of hatred. We will defeat the terrorists who wantonly kill innocent civilians. The Iraqi people will defeat their enemies who want to keep them from having a better life as will the Afghan people. And they'll do it as long as they have committed friends, like the United States, who recognize that we're in the midst of a big historical change. And big historical change is sometimes difficult and sometimes violent. But without it, we will most certainly see the continued rise of the kinds of terrorists who brought 9/11 upon this country.

QUESTION: Thanks. Now on a totally note, since we go into schools, if we were to go to your high school reunion, what would classmates tell us about you in high school?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, my goodness. I'm afraid to think what they might say. Well, I went to all girls' Catholic school. That's the first thing to know about my high school years. And I was a not very competitive, competitive figure skater; meaning that I spent a lot of time training for skating. And I was very active in piano. I started to study piano when I was three-years-old and at that time I still thought I was going to be a great concert musician. So probably they would remember me as somebody who was going to classes one moment and then running off to go skate, and then running off to go take piano lessons. But I had a great time in high school. I accompanied the glee club, and so maybe people would remember that. And I always loved sports. And I learned Latin; that's maybe the other thing that people would remember.

Just so your students know around the country that you never know when something is going to come back to help you. I took Latin, a dead language, but the grammar for Latin and Russian are identical. So when I got ready to study Russian, the fact that I had taken Latin mattered a lot. So my plea to students in high school would be, even if something seems like it might not be related, go ahead and take it. You never know what course is going to help you in the future.

QUESTION: Very quickly last one, President Bush has been asked a number of times what's on his iPod. Do you have an iPod and what's on it? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY RICE: It's sad to say, I don't yet have an iPod. I'm still with a Walkman. But if you go to my Walkman right now, you'll find a strange combination of music. I love classical music, obviously. I'm a classical musician. But I also love rhythm and blues and I like hard rock and, I have real broad ranges of love of music, so you'll find all kinds of things. And I'm going to get an iPod. I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

QUESTION: I understand. I just changed from a CD player, jogging with --

SECRETARY RICE: So I don't feel so bad then.

QUESTION: Well, thank you so much. I'd love to talk to you all day. I really appreciate your time.

SECRETARY RICE: We'll do it again.


Released on September 11, 2006

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