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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 on The Early Show With Hannah Storm

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
September 11, 2006

MS. STORM: A few moments ago, I sat down with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and I asked her about the hunt for Bin Laden. As we just heard in Jim Stewart's report, a U.S. intelligence, desperate for some kind of clue, but the Washington Post reporting on Sunday that there have been no leads in the hunt for Bin Laden in two years.

SECRETARY RICE: Usama Bin Laden will be found eventually and we have not only the United States, but Afghanistan, Pakistan, everybody is looking for him. I don't know where he is. I know that his world has gotten smaller. He's not operating camps in Afghanistan of the kind that he was with the support of the Taliban. But it's important and we want to capture Usama Bin Laden and people spend a lot of time on that issue.

But we also have to remember that al-Qaida is not one organization and the principle goal has to be defang the organization that caused September 11th. And in bringing to justice people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, the lieutenants that the -- the field generals of al-Qaida, we have made ourselves safer because they've given us information about how things operate, they've given us information about direct plots. And so we need to concentrate on the organization and bringing it down.

QUESTION: And when will they go to trial? When will this be criminalized?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the President wants very much to bring these people to trial. We have to have military commissions in order to do it. The Supreme Court has said to the President, "Go to the Congress and get legislation." And so --

QUESTION: How long is it going to take?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it depends now on the Congress. And I think the President and, I believe, the American people want to see the mastermind of 9/11 brought to trial and want to see the people who caused the sad, sad events that we are commemorating on this fifth anniversary. And so I hope that it will happen very soon.

QUESTION: There's still talk about who bears responsibility for what happened on 9/11. We have this ABC movie which has stirred controversy saying that the Clinton Administration had a chance to get Usama Bin Laden and didn't. Others have blamed the Bush Administration for not recognizing the terror threat. Who's to blame?

SECRETARY RICE: al-Qaida is to blame. It's al-Qaida that perpetrated this evil on the United States, 3,000 Americans killed. I would be the first to say this country was not fully prepared to confront the evil, to confront this new kind of enemy. And it had been coming at us for a long time; the 1993 World Trade events, the 1998 bombings in Africa, the 2000 Cole and then finally, the ultimate attack on September 11th.

But it's sometimes the case that democracies don't really organize themselves until there's a real wakeup call. Now this country and, I would say, the international community are better organized to deal with this threat. We have made ourselves safer through Homeland Security efforts. We've defeated the state sponsors of terror in Iraq and in Afghanistan. We've liberated 50 million people. And we have better intelligence-sharing around the world and most importantly, we've made a down payment on a different kind of Middle East in which there is hope and prosperity and democracy, rather than this dark vision that is al-Qaida's vision.

QUESTION: I want to ask you about this, this spreading of democracy and this changing the Middle East and combating this ideology of hatred. Because we have seen terrorist organizations flourish in democratic nations in the Middle East and we have also seen them flourish in Western Europe, so is democratizing other nations -- is that really the answer for terror?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, there is no alternative, because the alternative is to continue the circumstances in which we had a false sense of stability, but with this pent-up anger and this pent-up hostility that expressed itself, then, in the extremism that is al-Qaida. Yes, it's difficult and the moderate forces in these places are not very strong. And we're going to have to continue to work with them and build them up. But for the first time, there are moderate forces in Iraq that have a chance to govern. There are moderate forces in Afghanistan that have a chance to govern and govern well. There are moderate forces in Lebanon that have a chance to govern.

We've made progress and it's a not a good thing, historically, when you're in big historical events, to take a snapshot in the middle and say, "Oh, well, this is all coming apart," because it takes time. But we finally changed course to a course that has a chance for moderation rather than extremism.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, thank you so much for your time.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.

Released on September 11, 2006

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