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Secretary of State Colin Powell
Interview with Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News
Washington, D.C.
October 1, 2001

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the President said in his address to the nation and to the joint session of Congress, and I quote, "The Taliban must act and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists or they will share their fate."

Now, they have not acted. They certainly have not acted immediately. They have not handed over the terrorists but nothing bad has happened to them. Why not?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think a lot of bad things have happened to them. First, they have had diplomatic relations cut by two of the three countries in the world that recognize them. Secondly, we are working hard with our allies around the world to shut off financial support to the al-Qaida organization which, to some extent, supports the Taliban. The entire international community has mobilized against them. They are going to find more pressure being applied to them. And, at the same time, the United States is preserving its military options, and there is a considerable buildup taking place in the region.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, I know that you are acutely aware, as every American is, we have 13,000 casualties, dead, missing and wounded, if you put all of those together. And it is -- if you forgive me for saying so, it's fine to talk about coalitions, fine to talk about financial pressure. But with 13,000 US casualties, surely sometime we are going to do more than just put together coalitions and talk about cutting their finances.

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, it's a lot more than that. What we really have to do is shut down terrorism, not just find a single place to take revenge out on or a group of people to take revenge out on. What the President has done, and I think he has the full support of the American people, is to put this coalition together to put in place a campaign that will go after terrorism so that these sorts of things never happen again.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is or is it not administration policy to replace the Taliban dictatorship in Afghanistan?

SECRETARY POWELL: Administration policy is to go after the al-Qaida network and Usama bin Laden in Afghanistan. And if the Taliban does not realize that this could cause them a great deal of difficulty as well and might lead to their demise, they will soon come to that conclusion. But we are doing first things first. And first things first, in this instance, is to go after al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden, and terrorist networks.

QUESTION: Has it been ruled out for at least the time being something such as bombing targets in Iraq?

SECRETARY POWELL: The President is focused on the first phase of this operation that deals with al-Qaida and deals with Usama bin Laden and deals with the general issue of terrorism around the world. He has ruled nothing out with respect to second, third, or fourth phases of our campaign militarily.

QUESTION: General, there has been a lot of talk about presenting evidence against Usama bin Laden. But we now know, it's been confirmed, that bin Laden, while he says he wasn't responsible for these attacks, he did praise them and say, in effect, he was happy for them. Given that fact, do we need to present any further evidence? What other evidence would anyone need?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we think he's guilty and all roads point to him. And we have assembled quite a bit of information -- not evidence for a court -- but information, information concerning his past actions with respect to the bombing of our embassies in Africa a couple of years ago, connections to the bombing of the USS Cole, connections going back to earlier acts of terrorism, his statements.

And a lot of the information, frankly, is in the public domain. We read it in the newspapers every day, and we see it as arrests are made in different countries throughout the world with these arrests increasingly tightening, tightening the ring around Usama bin Laden and al-Qaida, making clear to anybody who has an interest in it who is responsible for this.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the Taliban now has indicated that it has bin Laden, it knows where he is, and he is still in Afghanistan. Do you believe that?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't know what to believe with the Taliban. A few days ago, they were saying they didn't know where he was. If they know where he is, then I would suggest it would be their best course of action to go knock on his door, pick him up, go get all of his lieutenants, turn them over to us and then destroy all the camps that were left behind.

QUESTION: Is there a time line on that, a deadline?

SECRETARY POWELL: The President has established no deadline but I can assure you we are moving forward rather deliberately.

QUESTION: Secretary of State of the United States and retired US Army General Colin Powell. Thank you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you.

End