Marine Against Terrorism 5: From Baghdad With L... !FULL!
(5:10 p.m. EDT) MR. RICHTER: Before we get onto Iraq, I wanted to ask you, my colleague Mary was at the briefing of the terrorism report and she wondered, will there be consequences for anybody because of this? I mean, we've heard you're quite unhappy with what happened. SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, I don't like getting picked off first base like that. But so far, I haven't found -- you know, it's not my outfit that got the data, my outfit should have -- the State Department should have looked at it more carefully to say, "Does this pass our test?" But so far, I haven't found any malfeasance or willing -- any willingness to do wrong on the part of anyone. But we'll tighten up our procedures, but I haven't found anything here that I would say is deserving of firing, if that's the question. MR. RICHTER: All right. Let me ask you -- we're writing a bunch of stories on the handover, as you can imagine. What would you say would be the -- say, the top three lessons, to try to put it concisely, that the U.S. comes away with after the first 14 months of our experience over there, looking ahead to what needs to be done over the next period? SECRETARY POWELL: I'd rather look prospectively and then we can see if any retrograde analysis is appropriate right now. What we have to do is security. The security situation, working with the Iraqis, must be brought under control. It's -- we're going to have elections, but you've got to have a relatively safe environment if you're going to have elections. We want to restore power. We want to, you know, bring it up to even higher levels than it is now. We're doing well, but we could do even better if we could bring the security under control. So the mission of securing the country will remain a top priority. Second, since that increasingly is the responsibility of this new government, the second priority has to build up -- is to build up their forces as rapidly as is feasible. I use "as feasible" because it's easy to put a uniform on a guy, but does that make a unit, does that make a trained individual? Directly related to that, and not in third place but directly related to that, is to give all the support we can to the Iraqi interim government to enhance their standing within the eyes of the Iraqi people and their ability to be a government. They're new. It is a new government. It's still staffing itself. It's still figuring out what its procedures are going to be. That's why I felt it was important that we send over, as the ambassador, somebody who will be working with them, not commanding the forces but working with them, a guy who is very, very skilled in the diplomatic craft and art, and who has had experience in a number of countries that were going through different phases of transformation: Honduras, Mexico and the Philippines. And John has a lot of experience, as well, at the most senior levels, my Deputy National Security Advisor when I was National Security Advisor. So I think he's uniquely qualified and he also has a good understanding of the pol-mil linkage, how he has to work with the military, our military commanders there. And so security; building up the security forces of Iraq; and at the same time enhancing the ability of the Iraqi Interim Government to do its job as a government; and four, the whole reconstruction effort and all that entails. That's what we're looking at. MR. RICHTER: You don't want to look backwards, but aren't there any tasks that you could identify that we should do better in the meantime? SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I would have hoped that we could have built up the Iraqi security forces faster. We built up large numbers, but they didn't get equipped fast enough, they didn't get trained up to standards fast enough. And I think there was always a weakness in what we were doing in that it was not -- they were not yet connected to their own political structure. They were still essentially working for us -- for their country, but for the occupiers. MR. RICHTER: They didn't feel a bond to -- SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we didn't -- yeah, I mean, when they really got tested in Fallujah a few months back, the performance was mixed. Hopefully, now that they realize they're fighting for their own future, their performance will be different. There will be a different incentive. And that's part of the security solution. What I've been telling everybody is, once these folks are -- this political leadership is in charge of the country, then the disorder that is taking place in the country is no longer directed toward us; even though our soldiers may be getting hurt, it's directed toward this new Iraqi government. So what do they want? A Hussein Iraqi government instead of this Iraqi government? And therefore, the security services who are going to be brought up and trained and equipped, it is in their vested interest to help this new Iraqi government and to serve as units and agents of this Iraqi government. And that alone, just having their own leaders, political leaders in charge of them, should boost their capability in the security field. MR. RICHTER: You obviously had experience in the training area. Some of these people who have been in charge of training in other developing countries have said -- say it may take, you know, a couple of years to do that. I mean, are our forecasts of how long this may take a little optimistic, perhaps? SECRETARY POWELL: I don't what forecast General Petraeus and the Pentagon may be putting out. It is one thing to get 40 guys, give them uniforms and then teach them how to go left, right, left, right; but before that is a platoon that you're ready to say is a "band of brothers" takes time. MR. RICHTER: Right. SECRETARY POWELL: But we are also a nation that did it in a relatively short period of time on a number of occasions in our history. The "band of brothers" was less than a year or so. And we raised an Army from a couple of hundred thousand to 14 million in a period of three years and it was the best Army the world had ever seen. And Navy and Air Force and the Marine Corps. So we have some experience and knowledge as to how you do it. But it really takes motivation; people, troops have to want to serve their nation and their people. And they have to want to serve their political leaders. And they have to feel the cause. That's what made our Army so great in the wars that we fought. They always thought we were fighting for a cause. And that's what we have to convey to these new units that are being created: You are fighting for a cause, you're not fighting for America. You're not fighting for the CPA; it's gone. You're fighting for your own country and for your own leaders and for your own future, your own personal future, as well. If you like getting paid regularly in the Iraqi army, maybe you better defend the new Iraqi government. MR. RICHTER: Over in Baghdad, Iyad Allawi and some of the other leaders are talking about martial law. You've probably heard this discussion. They haven't made any decisions about it, but if they go that route, wouldn't that put the U.S. in a bit of an awkward situation? I mean, in other words, if their security forces are unable to enforce this, curfews and things like that, and if they have a ban on demonstrations, wouldn't that put us in a very politically tenuous situation? SECRETARY POWELL: I think it would make our job more complex because the imposition of martial law is more police function than it is a military function, one hopes. But I'm pleased that even though they said that is always a possibility, they also clarified it within a few hours or a day that nobody is planning or thinking about this yet. It is something we can do if circumstances require. And we have had no conversation with them yet about what would be the linkage between our forces and their forces under a state of martial law. MR. RICHTER: Well, they haven't decided to do it, but isn't it still on the table? Or am I making an assumption?SECRETARY POWELL: I think it's -- I don't -- I think it was -- it's always on the table whether they mentioned it to the press or not. MR. RICHTER: Yeah. SECRETARY POWELL: It is an act of any legitimate government. I'm trying to think when last we put in place martial law across the country -- MR. RICHTER: The Civil War? SECRETARY POWELL: No, I don't even think that. We've had local martial law and I think the Los Angeles -- you know, places like a local riot, something like that. I'd have to really -- I don't want to get my history wrong, but L.A. riots in '92 when I was Chairman, but I don't think they were -- I can't remember if we declared martial law in South L.A. or I just sent the troops in. MR. RICHTER: Before the Iraq war, some Administration officials, I guess at the Pentagon, were saying they hoped that perhaps Iraq might be able to provide us long-term bases and that would allow us to move out of some of the other countries in the region that may have mixed feelings about us. Is that still a hope? SECRETARY POWELL: I don't ever recall that being a hope. We weren't looking to go into Iraq for the purpose of having bases in Mesopotamia or in the Gulf region. Frankly, with Iraq in the democratic column, the whole region changes in a way that probably reduces the requirement for bases. Remember why many of those bases were there: Iraq. MR. RICHTER: Right. SECRETARY POWELL: Now, that doesn't mean that as a friendly nation and a partner of ours it's inconceivable that we might find some interest in having some sort of facility or base there, but we weren't looking for bases like we had bases in Germany or bases in Korea or bases in Japan. But I wouldn't rule out there being some American presence in the country for a fairly long period of time, not at the size we are now, but, you know, we've had facilities in other countries that are friends and partners of ours for decades. But we certainly weren't looking for a new base structure. MR. RICHTER: The South Korean Government today, reacting to the killing over there, has said that they intend to go forward with sending their troops, but I'm wondering sort of what your experience is these days in keeping the allies who have troops in Iraq, keeping them there and continuing their commitments as January '05. What's your experience on that? SECRETARY POWELL: So far, other than the Spanish and the two Western Hemispheric nations, nobody else has blinked. Each of them will have to make an individual judgment as to whether or not they can go beyond their current commitment. Hungary said today that it's staying through its commitment. The South Koreans boldly stood up and said immediately upon receiving the news of the beheading that they won't be deterred, they'll go ahead with it. That's the reaction I'm hearing from all of the countries who are with us. I'm more concerned about whether or not this sort of changes behavior patterns on those folks who are not soldiers but are like the guy who was killed today, somebody over there doing reconstruction work or that kind, or humanitarian work. Will that deter them? Or will the companies that provide these people and send them over there start saying, you know, we're not sure we can take the risk? That's a greater concern to me. So I'm now sort of spending my time talking to providers of services more so than countries that provide forces. MR. RICHTER: And are you hearing signals from some of these NGOs -- SECRETARY POWELL: Some have left and come -- the Russians left at one point and came back, then they -- I think they left again and then come back. There is -- one, it's very noble work they're doing, if I can use that term. Two, it's very well compensated. And so there are people who are prepared to take the risk. The fact of the matter is the whole country is not aflame. There are some problems in this country and people are being killed every day, but the whole country is not in flames and there is reconstruction work going on. People need to be fed. Food needs to be brought in. Petroleum needs to be brought in. And there are people who are willing to do those jobs. The power plants need to be rebuilt. What I see them doing instead is beefing up their security, being a little more careful and making sure that everybody knows the risk of serving in Iraq. MR. RICHTER: At the UN, the U.S. is trying to get another waiver regarding our troops in the ICC. Apparently, we're struggling, from what I was hearing last week. Are we going to be able to pull that off? And isn't it a little awkward for us, at a moment when we're trying to work jointly with countries in Iraq, to have this happening to us? SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, I would just as soon not have to deal with this issue this week. I'll be doing vote counts overnight. We are trying to show some flexibility in the language to see how that affects the vote count. And typically I have to wait 24 hours for people to call home for instructions and get instructions back, but by Thursday we will make a decision as to whether we will go for a vote or not. MR. RICHTER: I see. So the language might be different than in previous years? SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah. We're looking at modifications or some other variations of the language. I'm being clever here because I don't want to tell you what they are. (Laughter.) MR. RICHTER: Good. At least you're candid. (Laughter.) SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, it's what you would expect us to do. We're looking -- we're looking to see if we can achieve what we want, which is another rollover, but perhaps make the language of the rollover or the terms of the rollover more acceptable to more members of the Council because a number of nations already said that they'd have to abstain on a rollover. And so I'm doing what I spend a lot of my time doing, and that's counting votes. Sometimes I think I'm a whip. (Laughter.) MR. RICHTER: At the wrong end of the city here. SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah. MR. RICHTER: But, I mean, would this provide less coverage for our troops then? SECRETARY POWELL: No. If any -- we're not looking at any modification that would change the coverage that our troops currently enjoy with this resolution. Remember our troops are not excused from anything; they're still subject to the ICC. (Phone rings.) SECRETARY POWELL: I'll call right back. It's just put in abeyance for a year. That's the nature of the resolution. And so we would want that abeyance provision continued, so we wouldn't want to put our troops in any risk that they are not now in. But there are a number of abstentions already signaled to us. That means we have to take a look and see if we can do anything with the language without changing the purpose of the language to attract more votes. Abu Ghraib has, you know, affected this, the way people look at the ICC. MR. RICHTER: You're still confident, though, that it can be done, or are there real questions? SECRETARY POWELL: I think what I said was I'll know by Thursday. MR. RICHTER: Yeah, okay. Good. It's been three months since you told us on a plane back from Europe that you had asked the CIA to look into how they derived this information that you presented at the UN. Have they gotten back to you on that? SECRETARY POWELL: No. I don't -- you know, I didn't ask for an investigation, as one paper reported -- I forget who it was -- and I know they're looking into it. But the sources that they used particularly for the mobile vans have become very suspect and I'm waiting for them to finish their inquiries to determine what they want to say about it. The CIA has never said it is not a biological mobile lab, but they have never said it is. And the sourcing that leaned us in the direction of saying it was, which I said, that sourcing has gotten very weak and soft. And we've got to find out why didn't we know it at the time it was -- that it was weak and soft. And what are we doing to protect ourselves? To some extent, Jami Miscik, the Director of Intelligence out at the Agency, answered this is the speech that she gave after George's speech at Georgetown where she said she's putting in place new systems so that subsourcing of this kind would be, you know, double-examined by other people within the Agency. So they've taken the corrective action. At least she says that's what they were going to do. I'm not sure she's finished it yet. But whether they'll ever be able to finish the autopsy, as I call it, or inquisition, on what happened on the original sourcing for the mobile vans, I'll have to just leave with them until they do it. I'm anxious to hear them. MR. RICHTER: You may have noticed in the paper today that in President Clinton's new book he quotes you regarding Somalia. You know what I'm talking about? SECRETARY POWELL: I saw something in The Washington Post that -- yeah. MR. RICHTER: Yeah. He said that you told him while you were Secretary of State that if you had understood that the Mogadishu raid were happening in broad daylight, you would not have approved of it. Is that correct? SECRETARY POWELL: I may have had that conversation with him. I don't remember. But he and I have talked from time to time. When it happened, I was surprised that it was done at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, if my memory serves me correctly. I was no longer Chairman. MR. RICHTER: Right. SECRETARY POWELL: And one thing that struck me is that it was a daylight operation, whereas most of those kinds of things are done at night. That doesn't mean you can't do it in the daytime. It just means the risk level tends to be higher. But I assume they had some good actionable intelligence that at least caused those commanders and the chain of command at the Pentagon to judge that it was a proper thing to do. But it's unusual for that unit to operate that openly in daytime if it can be avoided. MR. RICHTER: So -- SECRETARY POWELL: I'm not -- you know, I wasn't there. I don't know the facts. MR. RICHTER: All right. One last question, which is, when Congress appropriated the 18.6 billion last year, the goal was to have it all spent by June 30th. Looks like they're not going to spend it, obviously, by that time. But how long will it take, does it appear now, to -- SECRETARY POWELL: I can't answer it because I don't have enough -- I don't have the details as to how fast the contracts will spend out, what's been obligated, what's been appropriated, what's only been committed. There's a lot of money that remains to be spent. The security situation is impacting that as well. And I'm anxious to see what the new Iraqi government wants to do because now that we become an embassy supporting a sovereign government, that sovereign government has more of a say in how they want to be supported than they did when Jerry Bremer was the government. MR. RICHTER: Right. SECRETARY POWELL: Jerry had it great. He was the government and he was the legislature; he was everything. And that now changes. So we need a little time to sit down with the Iraqi government, see what their priorities are, see how their priorities mesh with ours, and then see whether the planning that we've done and the contractors that we -- the contracts we're planning to let are consistent with what the new government wants. So I can't tell you how fast the 18 will spend out. MR. RICHTER: You know, a lot of the Iraqi leaders, members of the IGC, said they wanted projects that would put more Iraqis, more average Iraqis, to work. SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah. MR. RICHTER: They wanted things that maybe weren't big, you know, high-priced infrastructure projects, but more like a WPA kind o