of State Colin Powell
Interview on Fox Morning News with Tony Snow
September 12, 2001
QUESTION: Mr. Powell, welcome and thank you for joining us.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, good morning, Tony.
QUESTION: We have an international terrorist network. There is no way we can
negotiate with these people, is there?
SECRETARY POWELL: No. They have to be rooted. They have to be destroyed. And
we are hard at work on that this morning. We are trying to make sure that the
world understands that this was an assault not just on America, but on civilization
-- upon all of the nations of the world. And it requires a worldwide response.
And that response has to be diplomatic. It has to be political. It has to be
going after their means of support. It has to be going after nations and states
and other organizations that give them harbor and haven and support. And it
has to be military, as well, if targets can be found that are actionable. And
it has to be justice, too -- if that is possible to bring somebody to justice.
But it has to be a complete comprehensive response. It is not just one action
that is going to be taken.
QUESTION: Secretary Powell, last night the President said that we will make
no distinction between terrorists and nations that harbor them. Let me read
you a list of nations and see if you can pick out any that have not offered
aid and comfort to terrorists: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Afghanistan.
Are any of those off the list?
SECRETARY POWELL: No.
QUESTION: We also have in the past -- Saudi Arabia certainly has not cut off
the spigot of funds for Usama bin Laden. Is that a problem, as well?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we'll look at all possibilities of support to terrorist
organizations in the course of our review of this particular situation as part
of our ongoing struggle against terrorism.
QUESTION: You have said a number of times today in previous interviews that
you think we're pretty close to getting a perpetrator. As soon as we get that,
what is the timeline -- do you think -- between now and the time that you think
we will have pretty secure knowledge of who is responsible?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know, Tony, so I would rather not speculate or predict.
But there is a body of evidence that is starting to develop and come together
that is starting to point us in certain directions. But that really is the purview
of our intelligence community. So I would rather not speculate or predict as
to when we can make an announcement or when we can let the world know.
QUESTION: To make diplomacy credible and also to send a message to terrorists,
one presumes that we would need to respond rather forcefully and rather quickly.
Again, how swiftly should the United States respond once it knows who is responsible?
SECRETARY POWELL: I would say that you respond as quickly as you can once you
know who is responsible and once you have something to respond to. And this
may take some patience. I'm quite confident it isn't going to be within a day
or so. You have to get something that is actionable and then put in place forces
that can conduct whatever strikes may be appropriate.
And I know that my colleague Don Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are
examining all the options that are available to them, and then, of course, available
to the president. Diplomatically we can start right away and we are contacting
nations around the world. We're very, very pleased with the response we have
gotten from Russia, from China, from the UN, from NATO, from the European Union.
And this will all be part of our strategy. The important point is that we suffered
terrible losses yesterday. And our heart goes out -- our hearts go out to all
of our fellow Americans who are in such pain. But they didn't get our spirit.
They didn't understand the resiliency of this great nation of ours. And as the
President said last night, we will be back, we will respond. And they will regret
to their death what they perpetrated against us yesterday.
QUESTION: When we tried to respond to the Munich disco bombing some of our NATO
allies did not allow us to do over-flights in order to strike back at Muammar
Qadhafi. Do we now have assurance from our European allies that they will give
us their full support when it comes to fighting whoever is responsible?
SECRETARY POWELL: I have had expressions of full support from European allies
and other allies. Now, we haven't gone to them with any specific requests yet.
But I sense there is a good deal of leaning forward based in the calls I've
had this morning in recognition of the fact that this could have happened to
any one of them.
QUESTION: Secretary Powell, did we learn yesterday that we need more intelligence
and more military power?
SECRETARY POWELL: You always need more intelligence. You always need the best,
strongest armed forces that a nation can afford. And we can afford the best
But our intelligence community does a rather outstanding job. They have thwarted
many attacks over the years. But it is not a perfect science. And someone who
is determined to strike at America, an open society, can always find a way to
do that. And they found the worst possible way yesterday and we are all suffering
and in pain as a result.
QUESTION: Final question, sir, many Americans today are filled with anxiety.
Could you tell them that you think that the attacks are over for now?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I can't say that. I simply don't know. We have no indication
that anything similar to what happened yesterday is afoot in the country. But
at the same time, this is a time for caution and vigilance. But it is also a
time for us to get back to work. It is also a time for us to show the world
that America is working, to show the world that America is coming back from
this tragedy and not to hide in bunkers, but to get back to work -- as we are
here in the State Department and as we are all over Washington and our facilities
around the world.
QUESTION: Secretary Powell, I beg your indulgence for one last question. You've
been working very hard on trying to work for Middle East peace. Yesterday Americans
saw pictures of Palestinians dancing in the streets of Nablus, handing out candy.
How did that make you feel?
SECRETARY POWELL: Awful, deplorable. And it just shocks me that people would
find this something to celebrate. And it is an image that is seared in my mind.
QUESTION: All right, Secretary of State Colin Powell, thanks for joining us