09 January 2004
Decisions on Trial of Saddam Hussein Up to Iraqis, Powell Says
Secretary also discusses Afghanistan, Pakistan in CBS interview
Secretary of State Colin Powell said it is up to the Iraqi people
how they put their captured former leader Saddam Hussein on trial,
and he added that "the credibility of the new Iraqi government
will be measured by how they handle this horrible dictator."
Interviewed January 9 on CBS Radio, Powell said the Iraqi Governing
Council is preparing judicial proceedings against Saddam Hussein
and bringing in experts to help them develop charges. International
observers will participate in the trial, Powell said.
Asked about the extent of public support in Iraq and Afghanistan
for U.S. efforts to rid those countries of "tyrannical regimes," Powell
noted that in Afghanistan two million refugees have returned. As
for Iraq, he said, "I think most Iraqis ... look forward to
working with us to put in place a democratic system of government."
Following is a transcript of the Powell interview:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
On CBS Radio with Dan Raviv and Charles Wolfson
January 9, 2004
MR. RAVIV: We have moved the broadcast just a few blocks, here
in Washington, D.C., to the State Department, to the Secretary
of State's conference room, where we are lucky to have an exclusive
interview with the Secretary of State, Colin Powell. Thank you
so much for sitting down with us.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much. Delighted to have the opportunity
to speak to your listeners.
MR. RAVIV: And I'm happy to say that you look great, coming back
from your prostate cancer surgery. Congratulations on looking great.
A good recovery.
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, thank you. The recovery is continuing
and I'm glad they got it all. I hope all men will be careful about
their health, especially with respect to prostate cancer.
MR. RAVIV: We are joined by CBS News State Department reporter
Charles Wolfson. Charlie, you are here all the time, but maybe
not seeing the Secretary like this. We have about eight minutes
or so, so take the first question, Charlie.
MR. WOLFSON: Mr. Secretary, we are starting 2004. It's the fourth
year of the Bush presidency. You've got an ambitious agenda. We
don't have time for you to list everything you want to list.
What are the number one, number two objectives this year, so that
a year from now you could look back and say we had a successful
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, there are so many things that I could
list, but I won't, Charlie. We're going to continue to move forward
on the President's vision of extending peace and security throughout
the world, bringing more prosperity to more parts of the world,
and bringing freedom to more parts of the world by the power of
example and the programs the President has put in place.
We want to work hard to consolidate our victories in Afghanistan
and Iraq. We have seen considerable progress in Afghanistan with
the constitutional Loya Jirga, and we believe we are on track now
to put in place a transitional government in Iraq by the middle
of the summer.
At the same time, we have to work hard on security, to make sure
that we get these old remnants of the regime swept up. A major
priority, of course, will be the global war on terrorism to make
sure that our homeland is safe and we are defeating terrorists
all around the world.
But there are other parts of the agenda that I would like to touch
on, such as the Millennium Challenge Account, the most significant
increase in foreign assistance and development aid since the Marshall
Plan of post-World War II fame, and going after HIV/AIDS around
the world. The President feels so strongly that this is a devastating
disease, a devastating affliction upon the world, that all of us
have to come together to work on it.
That's just a few of the highlights. The Middle East peace process,
of course, is something we have to work on. But peace, prosperity,
freedom, democracy around the world.
MR. RAVIV: Well, let's talk about Iraq because the U.S. did fight
a war there last year and, well, touted it up already as a victory.
Saddam Hussein is a prisoner. And, in fact, there was a decision
by the Defense Department Friday he's a prisoner of war and accorded
Is there going to be a high-profile trial of Saddam Hussein this
year in Baghdad?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, it's up to the Iraqi people. The Iraqi
Governing Council is putting together judicial proceedings and
bringing in experts who will help them develop charges against
Saddam Hussein, and he will be put on trial with international
I don't know that he has been formally declared a prisoner of
war. I'll yield to the Pentagon on that. But we are certainly treating
everybody in our custody in accordance with basic rights and expectations
of international agreements that we have.
MR. RAVIV: To a degree, it is going to be a U.S. decision when
to hand him over to Iraqi authorities. Should that happen, oh,
maybe shortly after the 1st of July, when Iraq may have sovereignty?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think that's something we will have
to decide. Remember, the very first night he was in captivity after
we pulled him out of the spider hole, we allowed members of the
Iraqi Governing Council to go see and interview him and talk to
him. We want the Iraqis to be full partners in this, and we believe
the credibility of the new Iraqi government will be measured by
how they handle this horrible dictator.
MR. WOLFSON: Is he talking to interrogators?
SECRETARY POWELL: He is talking. I can't go into any detail as
to what he is saying or what he isn't saying, but we are communicating
MR. WOLFSON: Mr. Secretary, why has the Administration found it
so difficult to convince the Iraqi people, and to some extent the
Afghan people, that what the Bush Administration did by going in
and getting rid of tyrannical regimes was in their interests, as
the Bush Administration says? Why has it been so hard to convince
them of that?
SECRETARY POWELL: I'm not sure that we haven't convinced them
of that. If you look at Afghanistan, the Afghan people have seen
the United States come in and help them with reconstructing their
country. Two million refugees have returned to Afghanistan and
the promise of a democratic system. We have assisted the Afghan
people in putting together a new constitution that they approved
recently, and they're on their way to new elections.
There will always be those who say, "We don't want any Americans
around, leave as quickly as you can." But what most people
in Afghanistan say is, "Stay with us, see us through this
Same thing in Iraq. Yes, we're being attacked by these terrorists
and rogue elements that are still out there. But most of the Iraqi
people recognize that the American Congress put forward $18 billion
to help reconstruct their country. We have over 100,000 of our
proud young men and women on the line and giving their lives to
give the Iraqi people a better future. I think most Iraqis appreciate
that and look forward to working with us to put in place a democratic
system of government.
MR. RAVIV: And do you think most Americans get it? It's an election
issue, but putting aside the election issue --
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, you can look at the polls as readily as
I can. I think Americans do get it. The President enjoys high popularity
overall ratings, but he also enjoys the support of the American
people with respect to Iraq. The American people see that a dictator
that the whole world worried about for 12 years is gone, and it
was under the leadership of President Bush that a coalition was
pulled together to get rid of this regime and to put Iraq into
an entirely different place.
And it's already affecting other countries in the region. Iran
has made some changes in its approach recently that should be encouraging
to us. Libya, the same thing. And I think we can build on our success
in Iraq and make the whole region a lot better. But it's going
to take time. It doesn't happen overnight.
MR. RAVIV: This is an exclusive radio interview with Secretary
of State Colin Powell from CBS News.
Secretary Powell, you are sometimes described as a "softliner" in
a hardline administration. So, as a former Army General, Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is it hard to be soft?
SECRETARY POWELL: No, I'm -- you know, I don't know that I accept
that description. I am soft when it's necessary to be soft, and
I'm hard when it's necessary to be soft*. I don't need any lectures
from anyone about my --
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't need any advice or lectures from anyone
about the use of force in war. I spent a good part of my life in
the military. I've been in war for my nation. I have watched young
people die. And any time we can use diplomatic efforts and political
efforts to avoid a war and achieve our objectives, then we should.
You can characterize this any way you want, but I'm a soldier
and I'm the chief diplomat of the United States of America. And
the President wants us to use all of the tools available to us:
our military, our diplomatic presence around the world through
our great ambassadors, our economic potential, but most of all
the power of our example of a diverse nation living in peace and
freedom, where we have allowed diversity to become our strength
and become the most powerful nation on the face of the Earth. And
we want to share that example with other nations around the world.
MR. WOLFSON: Mr. Secretary, let me pick up on the mixture of diplomatic
and military use of force. In Afghanistan and on the border between
Afghanistan and Pakistan, you've got a good friend in President
Musharraf. What's preventing U.S. forces from being able to go
across the Afghan border to pursue Usama bin Laden, back and forth?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, it is an international border and there
are certain sensitivities with it. It is also a very wild area,
a very rugged terrain, and it's not the easiest thing in the world
to send Americans across into tribal areas where everybody has
known everybody in the area for the last thousand years.
So what we are doing is cooperating with the Pakistanis, making
it clear to the Pakistanis that we want them to do everything they
can to bring that area under control.
I am pleased that President Musharraf has responded to our overtures
and is conducting new military operations in that region this week.
And he understands that this kind of rogue presence is not in his
interest and is dangerous to Pakistan, just as it's dangerous to
Afghanistan. I am confident that the Afghans and the United States
and other coalition partners, working with the Pakistani leadership,
will be able to deal with this threat.
MR. RAVIV: Here at the State Department, Secretary of State Colin
Powell. I was joined in the questioning by CBS News reporter Charlie
Wolfson. Thank you very much.
And to Secretary Powell, continued good health and success this
year. Thanks so much.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs,
U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)