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Interview With Steve Doocy of Fox and Friends

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
July 13, 2007

(6:50 a.m.)

QUESTION: Joining us right now is the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Good morning to you, Madame Secretary.

SECRETARY RICE: Good morning.

QUESTION: Okay. So we heard from your boss, the President of the United States, yesterday and we heard from the Congress last night. The Democrat-controlled Congress last night, a vote of 223-201, voted to withdraw from Iraq. How disappointed are you in that? I know it is veto -- it's not veto-proof. The President won't sign it, obviously, and will veto it if it winds up on his desk, but how disappointing is that to you?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think that the Congress will do what the Congress wishes to do, but I would hope that everyone would recognize that we are going to have, from our commander and from our ambassador in Iraq, a report in September once all the inputs have been in for a while. That's what we are seeing now. We're seeing, principally, a time when we're judging inputs, like how many security forces are there --

QUESTION: Right.

SECRETARY RICE: -- what's the effect of American security forces. Then we can make a coherent judgment of where we are and we can chart a way forward. But I would just say that on the benchmarks, yes, it's -- there's not as much progress as we would like, not by any means or stretch of the imagination.

But we shouldn't just dismiss as inconsequential the progress that they've made, the Iraqis, on the security front, the progress that they've made even on some of the political benchmarks, and perhaps most importantly, something that's not even on that benchmark list, which is the tremendous change in the Anbar Province, once considered lost to al-Qaida, where you have the sheikhs, the local people taking back their streets --

QUESTION: Right.

SECRETARY RICE: -- from al-Qaida.

QUESTION: So Congress -- you know, a while back, voted for the surge and they were going -- of course, there's going to be a reassessment in September as well. So you're saying give them until September and then we'll take another look?

SECRETARY RICE: Absolutely. I understand people's concern. I understand people's impatience. I think we all feel the effects of the term -- the sacrifice that the United States is making, both in human terms and in our national treasure. But I would just hope that we could recognize that our men and women in the field, our ambassador, our general out there, commanding general, are on a course that was laid out by the President in January. They said that they thought the time to take a look at where we would be is in September and we ought to stick to that and then, we can talk about what the way forward is.

QUESTION: Okay. Even though it's supposed to be a super-secret document, this National Intelligence Estimate, this NIE, it's already been blabbed all over the last couple of days where they talk about how al-Qaida has reconstituted since 9/11. There's one report that it's bigger and stronger than it has been since the summer of 2001. They also talk about how it looks like bin Laden and his henchmen are over there in Pakistan somewhere.

Somebody -- you know, there are a lot of people, Madame Secretary, saying we've got to do something about that tribal area in Pakistan where these guys are hiding.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, al-Qaida is a different organization in many ways. It doesn't have its training bases in Afghanistan. I think it is not free to use the financial networks that it once did. It's no longer free of the very strict surveillance and efforts at disruption, really, of now a very large coalition of states. So it's different and we have either killed or captured a lot of its field generalship.

But yes, some things have changed, if you are al-Qaida, I suppose, that have made the organization stronger. For instance, on the tribal areas that you mention, yes, we're very concerned about that piece and that's why we're working with the Pakistanis. That's why you've seen Pakistani military operations in that region. That's why, in fact, we are working with the Pakistanis on what I would call a hearts and minds strategy to pull the population away from al-Qaida.

In a sense, we know how to do this counterinsurgency. You both have to capture or kill the militants and you have to give the population a reason to resist them and turn them in. That's what we're trying to do in the tribal areas. That, by the way, is what has happened -- to go back to Iraq -- what has happened in the Al Anbar Province.

QUESTION: All right. Does the level of chatter -- we're hearing there's so much chatter out there right now. Does the level of chatter bother you?

SECRETARY RICE: I'm concerned. I think that we're seeing a lot of chatter. One of the good news stories, of course, is that we have vast networks now of intelligence cooperation that really were not there before September 11th. We've worked hard to hearten the homeland. We obviously have ways to track and surveil terrorists that we did not have prior to September 11th.

And let me just say at a time like this, I'm very glad that the President did some of the things that he did to allow us to track and surveil terrorists better than we could at September 11th. I think we have better cooperation between domestic agencies and foreign agencies. But yes, it's a time when we have to be exceeding vigilant.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, before you go, I've known in the past that you are a great piano player and according to Brian's book, a fantastic ice skater. And now I understand you're a golfer?

SECRETARY RICE: (Laughter.) Let's put it this way. I've tried -- I'm trying to learn the game. I picked it up about -- it'll be about two years ago now when I was on vacation and as you might imagine, I haven't had that much time to play. So my only goal for the time here in Washington is to learn to hit the ball.

QUESTION: Right. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY RICE: Once I've learned to hit the ball, when I get back to California, I can get better at the game.

QUESTION: Well, if you're ever at a golf course, I'll be right over there at the 19th hole. Secretary --

SECRETARY RICE: Sounds good.

QUESTION: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, we thank you very much for joining us today from Washington, D.C.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, good to be with you.

2007/577



Released on July 13, 2007

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