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Interview With Sean Hannity of The Sean Hannity Show

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
September 26, 2006

4:45 p.m. EDT

QUESTION: First, joining us on our newsmaker line, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is back with us. How are you?

SECRETARY RICE: I'm fine, Sean. How are you?

QUESTION: All right. I gotta - but I don't want to talk politics yet. Hang on, I'll get to that, or issues involving the importance of life and death. I had no idea -- I knew you got up every day and you worked out. I had no idea until I saw you on 60 Minutes you liked Led Zeppelin.


QUESTION: What do you listen to, Stairway to Heaven? Is there --

SECRETARY RICE: Actually, I listen to just about anything Led Zeppelin's done. And I love Cream, too. I've got very eclectic taste in music, Sean. What can I say?

QUESTION: And you're a concert pianist. And I saw that you had your band recital as the show was going on. You're terrific on the piano.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you. I appreciate it. I've been at it a long time, since I was about three-and-a-half.

QUESTION: Yeah. You know, I've got to tell you, I don't know a lot about your life story and I know that you have outside interests and it's very therapeutic obviously for you. Another passion of yours, of course, is football.


QUESTION: But your childhood really got to me, watching Saturday night, because you lost a friend when you were growing up in the bombing of a church in Birmingham.

SECRETARY RICE: I did, Denise McNair. Birmingham had a very small kind of middle class black community. Everybody's parents taught together, and we went to church together, and the kids played together. And Denise's father was a - the photographer in the community, and so he photographed everybody's weddings and birthday parties. And Denise went to kindergarten -- one of my prize pictures is my dad handing Denise her kindergarten graduation diploma. So it was indeed a very sad day when she died.

QUESTION: You know, it's funny, the Latin word for education is educre, to bring forth and deliver with.


QUESTION: And what's fascinating about that is it's sort of -- it's predicated on a belief system that God creates you and he sort of designs you and creates you into the person that you're to be. I almost got the feeling watching that piece on Sunday night that this is your destiny, that you dealt with terrorism as a very young girl and in a sense it sort of shaped you to become this person with a very strong backbone to stand up against it now because you dealt with it as a child.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I do believe that if you have been through what I called "homegrown terrorism," you know if you've seen what it means to have a community rocked like that by terrorism, you know that there isn't any way to negotiate with people like that. You know that there really is good and evil. You know that these things are black and white.

And you know, there used to be a thought that well, the terrorists had this reason or that reason. There's no reason for destroying innocent life. And I think that probably comes more personally to me.

QUESTION: Okay. Let me move on. You saw the interview with former President Bill Clinton, and you have now responded today. You said "The notion that for eight months the Bush Administration sat there is just flatly false."

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah. Well, the Bush Administration worked very hard in that eight months to create a new strategy for dealing with al-Qaida. We thought we needed a strategy that was more robust. We thought we needed one that would make Pakistan make a choice. But the sad thing is, Sean, we spent hours and hours and hours in the 9/11 Commission. They wrote a very good and balanced report. I think it's very clear that their conclusion was that before September 11th this country wasn't organized to fight the war on terror, either domestically or internationally. And what President Bush has been doing is to make sure that we are organized to fight the war on terror and we fight it as a war. It's not a law enforcement action. It is a war. War is not a metaphor in this case.

QUESTION: Yeah. And you also -- he had said that they had eight months to try. They did not try. I tried. You refute that. You say that is absolutely false.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it -- just again, read the 9/11 Commission report. If we'd an opportunity to get Usama bin Laden we would have tried to get him.


SECRETARY RICE: But of course these things are intelligence dependent. And I'm sure that everybody -- I'm sure that the Clinton Administration wanted to get him too. We'd certainly like to get him now. But the advantage to today over then is that we know now that we're in a war and we have a President who knows that he's in a war and we have a President who's going to use his powers as Commander in Chief to protect this country. So that's why we ought to be looking forward, we ought to be looking forward to legislation that allows us to make sure that we know what terrorists are saying about possible attacks in the United States. We need legislation that allows us to interrogate terrorists so that we can get information about pending attacks. That's what's important now and I just hope that we haven't forgotten the lessons of September 11th.

QUESTION: Boy, it seems sometimes we have or many people have. You talk a lot about Richard Clarke in this interview here. Richard Clarke himself said back in 2002, "There was no plan on al-Qaida that was passed from the Clinton Administration to the Bush Administration." And you pointed out in this interview with the New York Post today, "Firing Clarke? Far from it." Explain that.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Dick Clarke was actually the counterterrorism czar when 9/11 happened. And we kept him because we thought until we could have a new strategy and one that might be more robust that we would certainly continue the efforts that were being made. And Dick Clarke left the Administration when he was not appointed the Deputy of Homeland Security, so that's when that happened.

But again, Sean, you know, I think the unfortunate thing here is that, again, we spent hours going through this. The 9/11 Commission spent months and months and months of the most detailed work and they put forward a good product that has the history right. And I think we just ought to depend on that Commission report.

QUESTION: Do you have any thoughts on the cherry-picked selective leaking of the NIE report?

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah. First of all, I can't tell you how tired I am of getting up and reading leaked documents in the newspaper. I think it's -- it really is not responsible. And people who do it are acting irresponsibly especially in a time of war.

Secondly, there were selective pieces leaked, and the President said today that they were going to declassify the key judgments. And I think people will see that it's a much more complex argument that's being made in the NIE.

But let me just take on the argument itself. In the idea that because we're finally confronting terrorists, because we're actually fighting them in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, that they're -- that's making more of them, is the implication then that we should stop fighting them, that we should stop going on the offense?

The fact is they always had an excuse for fighting us, whether it was that we had troops in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf War or whether it was that we were in Afghanistan or now in Iraq, they've always had an excuse. And they attacked us in 1993, in 1998, in 2000 with the Cole, and then finally on September 11th. And we weren't fighting in Iraq at any of those times.

QUESTION: Well, I think the President was very clever considering it was cherry picked and leaked to the media, which I agree with you is really troubling to anybody. I said, all right, well, let's release all of this to the public and let them be able to examine it for themselves and not just have selected information put out there. But you rightly point out that this was predicated on the idea that somehow they wanted to get along with us and that they weren't attacking us all along the way. The 9/11 Commission Report said that they were at war with us; we were not at war with them.

SECRETARY RICE: That's right. They were at war with us, and we were not at war with them. Now we're at war with them. And of course, they are going to go out of their way to use propaganda and to try to recruit people to their cause. Of course they're going to do that because they do understand the stakes in Iraq. They do know that when Iraq becomes stable, a country that will fight terrorism, a country that is democratic, a country that is a pillar of democracy in a Middle East that needs change, they know that that's a tremendous blow, maybe a death blow to their ideology. And so of course they're going to fight hard.

QUESTION: We saw the shenanigans going on at the United Nations last week with Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad and, more particularly, Bill Clinton had said well, the President ought to sit down and talk with Ahmadi-Nejad. My thought is that a prerequisite for such a discussion ought to include that you acknowledge the Holocaust happened and stop demanding that we annihilate sovereign countries from the face of the Earth. Is that a base point before you have discussions?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think it's fair to say that the things that Ahmadi-Nejad have said are not shall we say appropriate for any head of state to say, I mean, denying the Holocaust, talking about wiping Israel off the map. By the way, Sean, we've said to the Iranians, there's a way for us to talk, suspend your enrichment and reprocessing capabilities so you don't have the technologies to have a nuclear weapon and we will have negotiations. But so far, they've not taken up on that offer.

QUESTION: I want to play this for you going out. This is a special dedication for you. [Led Zeppelin song plays.]


QUESTION: I had no idea you like Led Zeppelin. That shocked me.


QUESTION: Now you have any football picks this year? Who you like to the -- that'll make it to the Super Bowl?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I have to say I probably -- I found the Saints' victory last night really stirring, you know, to see New Orleans come back that way. It was really, really exciting. And aside from all of the hoopla and all of the ceremony, I actually think New Orleans is just a really good football team. And I sure would have picked Reggie Bush first in the draft.

QUESTION: Good answer. (Laughter.) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, thanks for being with us.

SECRETARY RICE: It's great to be with you, Sean. Take care.

QUESTION: We appreciate it.



Released on September 26, 2006

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