of State Colin Powell
September 13, 2001
1:00 P.M. EDT
SECRETARY POWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I thought I would come
down and give you an update on the activities of the Department over the last
24 hours since last we spoke.
Let me begin by first expressing our regrets to other nations who have lost
precious lives in this tragic occurrence on the 11th. We are focusing of course
on Americans, but we also have seen that Great Britain thinks they have lost
100 people; I've heard from Australians, Japanese, South Koreans, Mexicans,
Irish nationals, Israelis and many others who worked in this World Trade Center.
And our sympathy goes to not only these victims who will be in our prayers,
but our sympathies go to their families.
In the last 24 hours, we have continued to work on our coalition-building effort,
and I am very pleased with the results we have been able to achieve. We spoke
about NATO Article V yesterday. The UN Security Council resolution, I think,
is an especially effective resolution in that it calls on all states to participate
and expresses the UN Security Council's determination and its readiness to take
all necessary steps to respond to the September 11th attacks in accordance with
the UN charter. By that language it gives us the ability, and any nation the
ability, to put forward on the agenda for Security Council deliberation any
other issues related to this attack that we might want the Security Council
to take up.
I am very pleased also with the response of the European Union, with all of
the other international organizations who have come forward and responded in
one way or another. The President has been on the phone constantly, as have
I, talking to leaders around the world. And we are getting a solid expression
not only of condolences and support, but of action. They want to work with us
-- not only in this specific case of what happened on the 11th of September,
but in response to the general recognition that terrorism is a crime against
all civilization. Terrorism is a crime against all humanity. It knows no ethnic,
religious or other national or geographic boundaries. And we must see it in
that context and that's why we are calling it a war.
I have also been on the phone within the last two hours with Prime Minister
Sharon and Chairman Arafat and with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of Israel
trying to move forward the process of a cease-fire in the region, trying to
begin those meetings that we have been talking about, which would lead to implementation
of the Mitchell Plan. I am still hopeful that something can be done in the next
several days to have that first meeting, and we will be in close touch with
the leaders as the next days unfold.
In addition to the United Nations Security Council resolution, I mention the
General Assembly has passed its Resolution, 56-1. We will be having a meeting
with the Russians in the near future, when Mr. Armitage, Deputy Secretary Armitage,
travels to Moscow next week. And Richard Boucher will give you an announcement
on that a little later for the US-Russian working group meeting on Afghanistan.
We have been in very close touch with the Pakistani Government. Deputy Secretary
Armitage met with the Pakistani representatives again this morning, and I expect
to speak with President Musharraf in the very near future, in the next several
hours, if I am able to reach him, to discuss the situation and exchange views
on the situation in the region.
Our embassies are all hard at work. There have been some closures, and they
go down and come back up in response to threat conditions, but our plan is to
be actively engaged around the world and not let this heightened sense of tension
affect our ability to do our job. And so we are encouraging all of our ambassadors
to do smart things, to take all necessary safety precautions and to make sure
their security is intact, but at the same time to continue doing America's business
throughout the world.
I think I will stop at that point and take your questions.
QUESTION: Could I pursue Pakistan with you a bit? The President there has made
some general statement about cooperation. What does the United States want from
Pakistan? And frankly, I am confused whether the US sees Pakistan as an ally
or, as the Patterns of Global Terrorism pointed out, a place where terrorist
groups get training -- or is it a mixture?
SECRETARY POWELL: We have provided to the Pakistani Government a specific list
of things that we think would be useful for them to work on with us, and I will
be discussing that list with the President of Pakistan later this afternoon.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, as you said, since the attacks you have been receiving
lots of messages of condolence, lots of statements of condemnation about the
attacks, some that appear to be solicited like this morning from the Pakistanis
who seem to be falling all over themselves to condemn terrorism in all its forms,
but also some unsolicited ones like, I assume, from the Cubans, from the Libyans,
from the North Koreans.
But of all of the seven countries on the State Department's state sponsors list,
only one of them, I believe, has not condemned this, has not said anything.
Does it raise any red flags with you that Saddam Hussein and Iraq have been
silent about this?
SECRETARY POWELL: I am not surprised. He is one of the leading terrorists on
the face of the Earth, and I would not expect the slightest drop of the milk
of human kindness to be flowing in his veins.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, could you talk about links between Iraq and Usama bin
SECRETARY POWELL: No, I would not. If I were able to talk about such a matter,
I don't think I would do it here.
QUESTION: Secretary Powell, you keep talking about this specific list provided
to Pakistan. When you talk to them later, when Secretary Armitage talks to them
later or you talk to them, will it be, "You have to do everything on this
list or you're against us"? The United States keeps putting out this you're-with-us-or-you're-against
SECRETARY POWELL: Pakistan is a friendly country. We have had friendly relations
with Pakistan for many, many years. Those relationships have had ups and downs
as a result of various things that have happened over the years. But right now
we have friendly relations with Pakistan, and I have spoken to the President
of Pakistan over the months and we had a very good conversation just a month
or so ago. And so I will approach this as if I am talking to a friend and let
a friend know what we would like to see happen in order to improve the situation
in the region and the situation in the world. And I hope that the president
will respond as friend.
Our initial indications are that he will. He put out a very fine statement that
you have a copy of. It's general and we will get more specifics on it. And our
ambassador who went in yesterday -- we got a report of her discussions with
him after she presented her credentials. She just arrived. And he gave her a
strong expression of support, the kind of expression of support that you would
expect from a friend who is trying to help us during this time of trial.
QUESTION: Just to follow that, will you be asking the President of Pakistan
to have US troops stationed in Pakistan if you choose that --
SECRETARY POWELL: I really don't want to get into what I might or I might not
be asking the President of Pakistan until I have asked the President of Pakistan.
QUESTION: But, Secretary Powell, it sounds as if what you're saying is that
up until now you've been hearing very positive statements. But that now it's
sort of time to put their money where their mouth is?
SECRETARY POWELL: I wouldn't characterize it quite that crudely, Andrea.
QUESTION: I'm sorry; I'm not a diplomat.
SECRETARY POWELL: Some say neither am I. (Laughter.) But the fact of the matter
is, we're going to have a responsible, sober discussion with the Pakistani Government,
and when the results of those discussions are complete, and we have something
to present to you, I assure you I will present it to you.
QUESTION: Why all the focus on Pakistan? Why is it so --
SECRETARY POWELL: We are focusing on everything and everybody. We are looking
at those terrorist organizations that have the kind of capacity that would have
been necessary to conduct the attack that we saw on the 11th. We haven't yet
publicly identified the organization we believe was responsible. But when you
look at the list of candidates, one resides in that region.
So without waiting for the whole body of evidence to be ready for us to make
a judgment and a presentation to you, I think we are acting in a prudent way
by talking to those governments in the region.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you tell us what you expect Under Secretary Armitage
to get out of his talks with the Russians on Afghanistan? Are you asking for
a very specific kind of help?
SECRETARY POWELL: We have not yet put together the agenda, but what impressed
me is that Foreign Minister Ivanov, when I spoke to him the other day, was anxious
for this meeting to take place. Deputy Secretary Armitage has spoken to his
counterpart in Moscow, and two conversations that President Putin had with President
Bush suggest to me that they are ready for active discussions. But I don't have
the specific agenda with me right now.
QUESTION: The Russians know Afghanistan very well from their time in the '80s.
They will be able to be helpful on topography, installations -- what kinds of
SECRETARY POWELL: I am sure they will be helpful on many things. It's their
neighborhood. They do have a great deal of experience in Afghanistan, and we
will draw on all of that experience.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the reports, as of 1:00 a.m., that bin Laden was reported
under house arrest by the Taliban, also two leaders, one an Egyptian and a military
commander. If so, where would we ask -- would we ask The Hague for extradition
to the world court? What would we do?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I have seen those reports, but I have also seen subsequent
reports that say the first reports are not accurate. So let me not speculate
on what is at the moment just rumor.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, do you know if David Donahue is still on Kabul? We
haven't heard that he has left. I don't think -- maybe you have --
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know. I'll let Richard -- he's left, okay.
QUESTION: Okay, let me -- my question is, are we having talks with the Taliban
in Islamabad? They are said to be desperate to avoid a US attack, and perhaps
ready to talk about things they weren't ready for before.
SECRETARY POWELL: We have ways of talking to them, and we're exploring those
ways now. And we also want to make sure exactly what it is we wish to present
to them as items of discussion, and not just general conversations.
QUESTION: Do you get the sense they're more flexible and possibly listening
SECRETARY POWELL: I wouldn't say that yet.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what kind of leverage do we have with Pakistan? They
are sanctioned up to the eyeballs; we give them very, very little aid anymore.
What can we possibly offer them that would make them cooperative in this case?
SECRETARY POWELL: You kind of said it in your question there, "sanctioned
up to the eyeballs." And they don't have that much aid now. But I think
that we have been exploring with the Pakistani Government many ways that we
can move forward in the relationship, and we want to do so.
QUESTION: Mr. Powell, are you delivering an ultimatum to the Taliban to deliver
bin Laden, or else to face the wrath of the United States?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think I said that. What I'm saying is that we are
assembling the evidence that will tell us, in a way that the world will fully
concur with us, who is responsible for this. And when we have done that, we
will announce it. And at that point, we will go after that group, that network,
and those who have harbored, supported and aided that network, to rip the network
up. And when we're through with that network, we will continue with a global
assault against terrorism in general.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the list for Pakistan, does it include only requests
for assistance in terrorism to wrap up this network that you're talking about?
Or does it go broader than that?
SECRETARY POWELL: I would rather not characterize or comment on the list until
we have had a chance to discuss it with the Pakistanis in detail.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, just for the record, when you spoke of the candidate
who resides in that region, were you speaking of Usama bin Laden?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.
QUESTION: Could you answer a question about Iran -- we've hopscotched all around.
There are two significant factors here. As of January there were several, if
not more than a dozen Shia Saudis training in aircraft and piloting down in
Florida. Usama is a Sunni -- and not a Shia. He has no attachments to Iran and
Iran has a close attachment to -- possible attachment to the Al Khobar bombing,
as you know. Are we barking up the wrong tree here?
SECRETARY POWELL: We are barking up every tree that's out there. We're going
to find the right tree with what happened on the 11th of September. But we also
recognize that there are other groups out there that mean us no good, which
have conducted attacks previously against US personnel, US interests and our
allies. And the point we've been trying to make over the last several days is,
with the severity of this tragedy in Washington and New York against America,
we now have to use this tragedy and respond to those and take care of those
who are responsible for it. But at the same time we should see this in a broader
sense that this is a horrible blight on the civilized world. And so we will
also be focusing on other organizations, terrorist organizations that go after
us, our citizens, our interests and allies.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.
QUESTION: You spoke about building a coalition and you talk about tools such
as the NATO Article V and the UN resolution, are you speaking about war in a
legal sense? Are you ready to declare war on this candidate, Usama bin Laden?
Or another candidate? And are you expecting these organizations to join you
much as you did during the Gulf War in such a war? And are you worried that
using the language of war would carry with it specific guidelines as per war
that you're not willing or able to follow?
SECRETARY POWELL: I am speaking about war; the President is speaking about war
as a way of focusing the energy of America and the energy of the international
community against this kind of activity. And war in some cases may be military
action, but it can also be economic action, political action, diplomatic action
and financial actions. All sorts of things can be used to prosecute a campaign,
to prosecute a war. And we will be looking at every tool that we have, every
weapon that we have to go after terrorism and to go after these specific organizations.
And in building a coalition of the kind we are building now -- and it's not
that it will be a new organization, but between the UN and between the EU and
NATO and a number of other organizations that Richard can give you a list of
who have come forward -- we will not do it in such a way that if the United
States feels a need to act alone, by itself, we will not be constrained by the
fact that we are working with others as well.
But at the same time, because we are working with others, there may well come
along specific things that can be done by all of us together. I think we all
can agree that these kinds of organizations should be isolated -- financially,
legally, in terms of getting into safe haven countries. So there are many things
we can do together. There may be some things that the United States has to do
alone, and we will always reserve the right to do that.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, several people in the Administration have talked about
the need for an increase in intelligence. Can you say whether this bureau will
be come more involved in the collection of intelligence?
SECRETARY POWELL: This bureau?
QUESTION: This building.
SECRETARY POWELL: This building?
QUESTION: Your building.
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. I mean, we are in a sense one of the major accumulators
of information in the national security community through our representation
around the world, and we will hopefully do everything we can to enhance our
ability to collect and to analyze information in our bureau, working as, I think,
a very, very important member of the overall intelligence community within Washington,
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, among the options that I understand the Administration
is considering is ground forces, special operations forces going into Afghanistan
if it's proven that they are responsible. The other thing that I had heard was
that on the table is the use of tactical nuclear weapons.
Are they on the table, Mr. Secretary?
SECRETARY POWELL: I have no idea where you are getting this kind of speculation
from. I have never heard any such discussion.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, how does the United States draw the line between the
sort of heavy massive retaliation that many Americans seem to want, on the one
hand, versus wanton, excessive destruction and the killing of innocents, on
the other? And has in this case -- has this development, this terrorist act,
created a situation where the US concern about collateral damage has now gone
SECRETARY POWELL: We always have to be concerned about collateral damage because
we don't want to kill innocent civilians in the prosecution of any of our combat
operations. I won't speculate on what kind of military actions might or might
not be appropriate in the future, but we will always try to do all of our military
actions while minimizing collateral damage.
The kinds of organizations that conduct these terrorist activities make for
difficult targets. It is not as if you are going after an army in the field
are you are trying to destroy cities or fixed installations. They are also a
thinking enemy. They know that they have done, they know when they are going
to do it, and they know what consequences might be coming back in their direction.
So you have to consider you are dealing with a very, very skilled, knowledgeable,
thinking enemy. And we just have to think better than them, think faster than
them, and be cleverer than them in order to respond in a sensible way with all
of the weapons at our disposal, and one of those weapons is military force used
in an appropriate way. It is not so much the size of whatever military response
you might have, but does it do the job, does it get to the heart of the problem?
The President has made it clear that he doesn't see that this is going to be
resolved with one single act, but it is a long-term campaign, which is why we
are characterizing it as a war -- if not in the technically legal sense of war,
but in a sense that the American people understand and the people of the world
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, in this new initiative against terrorism, can you specifically
say how US counter-terrorism policy has changed from last week? As you know,
we have a number of multilateral agreements already on terrorism; how is it
going to change?
SECRETARY POWELL: We have quite a number of multilateral agreements. We are
looking at some of them right away, for the purpose of upgrading them, for putting
new energy and resources into them. And so I would say what has changed is everything,
is the 11th of September, when we see what really can happen if we don't get
on this problem. We will recover from this; we will be a stronger nation, a
resilient nation, a determined nation.
And so we are going to use everything at our disposal, to include the kind of
organizations that you just described, to respond, to counterattack, to destroy
this blight on the world, to win this war. And we will come up with new policies,
we will come up with new procedures, we will come up with new organizations,
we will come up with whatever it takes to prevail on this conflict, as the President