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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Interview on “Fox and Friends”

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
September 11, 2003 7:10 AM EDT
Hill:  You know, a lot of times because we're here in New York we focus on what happens at the World Trade Center, but of course there were two other planes that day, two years ago.  Just a couple of hours from now, American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon.


       Joining us now from the crash site is Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. Good morning.


       Wolfowitz:  Good morning.


       Hill:  Well, as you reflect back now two years later, what are your thoughts this morning?


       Wolfowitz:  Well, I think it's a day none of us will ever forget.  I think we can all remember exactly where we were when it happened.  Certainly those of us here in the Pentagon remember it vividly.   I'm sure everybody in the City of New York remembers it, but the whole country remembers it.  And it's important to remember because I think it's a turning pointing the way we view terrorism and the world.  And we're now engaged in a war.  It's going to be a long one, but I'm quite confident that we can prevail.  We will prevail.


       Hill:  I know that you just got the chance to hear a little bit of what our previous guests were saying -- the surviving family members of victims of the World Trade Center attacks. And there is a lot of anger from many people directed at the Saudi royal family. 


       You're spending a lot of time trying to hold people accountable.  Is it difficult to get the Saudis to still to this day come to the table and discuss, frankly, what they did and what they can do now to stop future attacks?


       Wolfowitz:  Well, the issues we're discussing are really law enforcement and diplomatic issues and I'm not familiar with those details.  But you know September 11th was a wake up call for us.  In many ways, May 12th of this year, the bombings in Riyadh were a wake up call for the Saudis.  And ever since that day, we've seen a much more aggressive behavior by them in pursuing terrorists, pursuing the financing of terrorists.  But certainly financial networks are a key part of what we have to get after.  It's not just a military war; it's a war that has to be waged through intelligence channels, law enforcement channels, financial channels, diplomatic channels.  And the President has brought all the elements of our government together in a unified, integrated campaign.


       Hill:  Well, I know that you're concerned with defending our country, keeping us safe from any other attacks.  And one of the new passport rules that Congress mandated was supposed to go into effect in October, it's now been pushed back to October 2004 and that was to make people from 27 different countries, including Saudi Arabia and others produce visas, produce these special passports that could be computer scanned.  The State Department apparently balked and they said, you know, people are going to be confused.  It tends for diplomatic ties. 


       Are we really making the steps we need to -- the hard decisions we need to secure our nation?


       Wolfowitz:  You know, I think that example illustrates the challenge.  We can't make ourselves safe just by building walls around our country or walls around our buildings.  The only way we're going to make our country safe is to go on offense; to go after the terrorists where they live, where they are supported, where they have sanctuary.  Of course, you have to go after them here, that's absolutely essential and that's a law enforcement function.  But the kinds of things that our military have done with the CIA and other agencies of government in Afghanistan and Iraq today and Pakistan and elsewhere have really put the terrorists on the run.  And that's where you want them.


       Hill:  We saw a new video from bin Laden.  There's a videotape showing bin Laden and al-Zawahiri walking somewhere.  The guess is in Pakistan somewhere.  We don't know hold that videotape is, but there is an audiotape that accompanies it that calls on people to rise up against the West again.  Attack America, perhaps even overseas, not here necessarily on our own soil.  What was your reaction to seeing that?


       Wolfowitz:  Well, I haven't seen it in detail.  The accounts make it sound though as though they had to stitch something together in a pretty crude way, almost as though they were stapling some old news and new news.  You know, every time they make an attack like the World Trade Center they boast about how many people they've killed.  They ignore how many people they've pushed over to our side.  September 11th was our wakeup call.  The Indonesians made a fundamental turn after that terrible attack in Bali.  The U.N. has changed substantially after the attack on the U.N. headquarters.  The Shia of Iraq are now much more anti-al Qaeda then before that terrible bomb in the mosque in Najaf.


       Hill:  I guess --


       Wolfowitz:  Every time they do one of those things I believe we gain more support in the long run.


       Hill:  Well, you know, you brought up the U.N. and in Iraq we still have difficulties getting other member countries of the Security Council of the U.N. to see exactly what this means to worldwide efforts to root out terrorism, not just against America, against everybody.  And that message still does not seem to resonate and specifically countries such as Germany, France and Russia.  That's got to be very frustrating.


       Wolfowitz: Don't exaggerate.  I mean the number of countries that are with us, nearly 30 that have troops in Iraq is much larger than the number that you're citing --


       Hill:  Well, you're right --


       Wolfowitz:  And I would say even the countries --


       Hill: But I just -- I agree with you.  There are a lot of people --


       Wolfowitz:  But even those other countries --


       Hill:  The Poles, they are out there --


       Wolfowitz:  But even those other countries have begun to shift their position.


       Hill:  Yeah, but you know what, these are people --


       Wolfowitz:  We're able to do things in the U.N. today that we couldn't do two or three months ago.  And that's progress.


       Hill: Yeah.


       Wolfowitz:  The whole world has a stake in a free Iraq that can provide stability for that region and rights for the Iraqi people.  And I think when some countries get over their positions of a few months ago; I think we can all unite on that common objective.  Turkey is a very good example of a country that's actively working with us to try to promote stability in Iraq.


       Hill:  We certainly have wonderful partners that have joined us and that have been there historically with us and I know that many people here in New York are hoping that the rest come on board. 


I see that you're standing in front of the Pentagon. There are still some fences in back of you.   Has all the work been completed on reconstructing that and adding in those extra safeguards in the fortification of the walls?


       Wolfowitz:  Absolutely.  Not only that, we're here on the first anniversary of the reconstruction of the Pentagon.  It was completed before the anniversary of 9/11 by the most fired up group of workers I've ever seen.  Some people say it may be the only construction site in the world where everybody was working 24 hours a day.  They view that as their blow against the terrorists.  And I think a good day to remember the heroes of that first day because the people who were killed here were here to defend our country; the firemen and policemen who went rushing in to those buildings in New York were there to protect the people of New York.  The people who stopped that one airliner from crashing into some target here in Washington, D.C. were heroes.


       And the men and women who are risking their lives, in many cases being killed or seriously wounded on the front lines in Afghanistan and Iraq and with our intelligence agencies around the world, this is a day to remember them and to honor them and to express our gratitude to them for what they do for our country.


       Hill: And tomorrow is a day to continue the fight against terrorism.  What would you say that the American people need to be focusing on -- remembering the most?


       Wolfowitz:  Well, that this is not something that's going to be won with one battle.  It's not going to be something that's won if we capture one individual no matter how notorious.  And it's not going to be won only by killing and capturing terrorists.  We also have to work as we're working on the Arab/Israeli peace process to promote better conditions, particularly in that part of the world -- the Middle East.  It's been unfortunately the seed ground for so much of this.  And helping the Iraqi people to build a free country, a democratic country is another major step forward.  It will take time.  These things will not happen quickly.  Americans tend to be impatient people, which is frequently a virtue, but in a long campaign like this, you need to approach a sense of urgency, but also the kind of perspective that carried us through long wars in the past.


       Hill:  Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz.  Thank you very much for joining us on this very important day.


       Wolfowitz:  Thank you for having me.


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