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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz interview on the Michael Gallagher Show

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
February 06, 2004
Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz interview on the Michael Gallagher Show

            Q: -- on terror, the Deputy Secretary of Defense is Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz who joins us here on the Mike Gallagher Show. Dr. Wolfowitz, it's an honor to speak to you. How are you?

 

            Wolfowitz: Hello?

 

            Q: Mr. Secretary, how are you?

 

            Wolfowitz: Good.

 

            Q: I'm awfully glad you could join us here. Thank you very much for your time.

 

            Wolfowitz: It's good to be with you.

 

            Q: It's real fascinating to sit and watch CIA Director George Tenet defend the intelligence we received to go to war, and most Americans get it, we understand it, we understood the need for it, we support it entirely, and yet, big surprise, the mainstream liberal press decides to say oh, there was no imminent threat and President Bush was somehow wrong when he said there was an imminent threat.

 

            Do you get frustrated at the way the message is so jumbled and sort of subverted by the media?

 

            Wolfowitz: We see that word misleading used frequently. It is very misleading to say the President said there was an imminent threat. What the President has said, and he said it most recently, we had a choice. We could either take the word of a mad man. I would add a mad man and a confirmed liar. Or take action to defend the American people. Faced with that choice, I will defend America every time.

 

            I mean the problem that September 11th illustrated is you can't wait until a threat is imminent. Every one is saying why didn't we connect the dots on September 11th? What we're trying to do is connect the dots. There's no question, as Tenet made it clear, that we were dealing with a country that was pursuing illegal programs, was hiding its programs, in fact continued to hide its programs even after the war began.

 

            We've got these four cases that he referred to, and in every case I think the important point is our intelligence has discovered important dangerous activities that these four countries were conducting. I mean Libya, North Korea, Iran and Iraq. In the case of Libya, North Korea and Iran, to one degree or another when we caught them cheating they admitted some degree of responsibility and have begun a process designed to get at the truth. In the case of Iraq, we spent what was it, 12 years and 17 UN resolutions with this regime constantly lying, constantly hiding, constantly frustrating efforts to get at the truth, and Resolution 1441 was supposed to be their last and final chance to come clean. And David Kay even makes it clear that they didn't come clean. That they lied in their declaration, that they took serious measures to intimidate the inspectors and to withhold information from them. In fact before the Armed Services Committee, I guess it was just about a week ago, Kay said Iraq was in clear and material violation of Resolution 1441.

 

            Q: And yet, Mr. Secretary, it's hard for me to understand how this David Kay goes before the world and makes the assertion, or appeared to make the assertion, that there aren't going to be any weapons of mass destruction. This is so premature and certainly Donald Rumsfeld has said this, the President has said this, we've got a long way to go before we can come to a conclusion that weapons of mass destruction weren't brought over to Syria, aren't -- This is a huge part of the world.

 

            Why would Kay make such a premature announcement?

 

            Wolfowitz: I don't know. You've had to ask him, but I agree with you it's premature. I haven't heard this from him firsthand, but I understand that he has said that with respect to this woman, Dr. Taha, sometimes known as Dr. Germ who was a major figure in their biological weapons program, that he has no ability to offer her any kind of a plea bargain. So here you have a woman who's quite possibly in danger of being sentenced to death for experimenting with biological weapons on live human beings and the American investigator can't get her to talk. How he can conclude that he knows everything -- I mean I'm with what Secretary Rumsfeld said which is we have these several possibilities and what is undeniable through them all is that this was a regime that was actively hiding something. You have to ask yourself, what were they hiding and why?

 

            I find it inconceivable that they went through this 12-year exercise and sacrificed enormous potential oil revenues as a result of the sanctions just to hide nothing.

 

            Q: I want to ask you if I can, our guest by the way, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz on our Newsmaker line. If you have a question or comment for Dr. Wolfowitz feel free to join us. 800-655-MIKE is our toll-free number. He only has a couple of minutes with us. 800-655-6453,

 

            One of the great frustrations in my world as a radio talk show host is pulling my hair out at knowing that a war where our nation's safety and security and the safety of our children and our grandchildren gets politicized. We're in an election year, and we've got people who desperately want President Bush to be defeated in November. From your perspective, if I can ask you again on a personal level as Deputy Secretary of Defense, is that a frustration for you? Is it maddening to see these life and death matters an soldiers who are laying their lives down on the line for our freedom be politicized?

 

            Wolfowitz: I can't judge people's motives. I think it's extremely important that people take a bipartisan approach to this.

 

            I remember when President Clinton made the decision to send peacekeeping troops to Bosnia and I was in a meeting with Senator Dole who was then the Majority Leader, and some partisans were urging him to make this an issue. He said basically I've got to put the country first. I think President Clinton deserves my support, and he gave it to him.

 

            I remember later in 1999 when some Republicans, not out of partisan motives but because they had misgivings about Kosovo, wanted to put a deadline for taking our troops out of Kosovo. And then Governor Bush and Senator McCain said no, this is wrong. We've got to support President Clinton.

 

            I really think it's very important for people to rise above partisanship.

 

            I'll tell you what really frustrates me. The President went down the road of going to the United Nations in part because he was urged by, let me say a sort of -- He was trying to build a consensus here. He was trying to respond to a sense in this country that that's the right mechanism. Frankly, I think it was his own sense that it was the right mechanism.

 

            We go to the United Nations. We make a lot of compromises in the United Nations including agreeing to say that if Saddam will come clean on his weapons of mass destruction we'll kind of give him a free pass on all those other resolutions that he's been violating.

 

            We pass the resolution which is supposed to be his last and final chance. Then when he's caught cheating on that resolution, we get the French and a few others saying oh, well, it wasn't really the last and final chance. Let's give him a few more. Let's go through another 12 years of this agony.

 

            I would have thought that the people who said let's go down this road would have cared about the credibility of the United Nations at that point. Certainly the President did because he was to about to face another ten years of the kind of maneuvering that Iraq had been going through against a background that here we'd had anthrax attacks in the United States, we had connections between Iraq and al Qaeda. I know people will argue about how close those connections were, but they were there. And again I'll repeat what the President said. When he faces the choice between taking the word of a mad man or acting to enforce the UN Resolution to make the American people safe, he has a responsibility as President.

 

            Q: And the President has said knowing what he knew then, knowing what he knows now, we would have done it all over again.

 

            Dr. Wolfowitz, we have less than a minute, but I have to ask you, it's been Ronald Reagan's 93rd birthday this week.

 

            Wolfowitz: Wow.

 

            Q: You served under Preisdent Reagan.

 

            Wolfowitz: Very proudly.

 

            Q: I know you did. It's been said many times that this President today is even more like President Reagan, more Reaganesque than even his father was. Do you think that's true?

 

            Wolfowitz: They're each individuals. I served for his father very proudly also, and I'm proud to have served for all three of them. I think they've each earned great places in history. But this President's historic work is not yet finished and in fact we are changing the course of history in the Middle East. That, I think we should come back to that.

 

            I was at a memorial service for Shia victims of Saddam -- This was before we captured the man -- where this Shia cleric, quite articulate, funny man said why are the Americans talking about no weapons of mass destruction? Saddam Hussein himself was a weapon of mass destruction and you haven't been able to find him. Of course we found him in a hole -- which, by the way, we found him in a hole which if it were filled with anthrax would be enough anthrax to destroy a city.

 

            Q: That's right. It was a tiny little hole. It's so funny how the critics of the Bush Administration seem to forget. They think it was so easy, would be so quick and so easy to find weapons of mass destruction.

 

            Wolfowitz: To finish. The weapons of mass destruction issue is important. It's the issue of the week, I know that. But to Iraqis today and to Afghans today it is a historical issue. They're concerned about their future. They are in overwhelming numbers grateful that the United States made the sacrifices it did to give these two Muslim nations of roughly 25 million people each a chance for freedom and democracy. And changing the course of history in those countries is a major blow to terrorists.

 

            We've lived with 20 years, 30 years of misgovernment in the Middle East and it helped to bring us September 11th. We have a chance now, the President recognizes it, but it's not going to be easy.

 

            Q: Paul Wolfowitz, I'm so honored you could spend some time with us on the Mike Gallagher Show. Keep up the great work, sir, and thanks for your efforts.

 

            Wolfowitz: Thank you.