FTN – 5/4/3

face the nation logo, 2009

BOB SCHIEFFER, Chief Washington Correspondent: Today on Face The Nation, Secretary of State Colin Powell on Iraq, the Middle East and terrorism. The secretary returned early this morning from Syria and Lebanon, and will go to Israel later this week to lay the groundwork for President Bush's road map to peace in the region.

Did Syria pledge to cooperate? Are Iraqi leaders hiding there? And where are those weapons of mass destruction? These are the questions for Secretary Powell.

Then we'll talk with Time magazine columnist Joe Klein about the South Carolina debate and politics.

I'll have a final word on another hero of 9/11 and his daughter's determination that he not be forgotten.

But first, Secretary of State Powell on Face The Nation.

ANNOUNCER: Face The Nation, with CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer.

And now, from CBS News in Washington, Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: And with us now, the secretary of State. Joining in the questioning this morning, Dana Priest of The Washington Post.

Mr. Secretary, thank you. I know you've had only a couple hours' sleep since you got back home from Syria. You reported yesterday that Syria has begun to close some of the offices of the terrorists there. How significant is that?

COLIN POWELL, Secretary of State: Well, I think it's significant. Syria says they are going to do this and they're also going to restrict some of their other activities. And we had some other suggestions that Syria might take with respect to these organizations so that they no longer are disrupting peace efforts in the Middle East. And we'll wait and see whether President Bashar Assad acts on all of these suggestions that we provided to him. Performance is what's key here.

The real reason for my trip and the conversations that I had with President Bashar Assad was to just show him and remind him, and point out to him, that we have a different strategic situation with the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, and with the beginning of our activities toward the road map in support of Prime Minister Abu Mazen of the Palestinian Authority. Let's take advantage of this new strategic environment. And Syria should review its policies and realize that any support to military aspects of Hezbollah or with respect to the other terrorist organizations that have a presence in Damascus -- it's time to make a judgment on the part of the Syrian government that this no longer serves anyone's interests, and certainly doesn't serve their interests. And I hope that he will act on those suggestions.

SCHIEFFER: We'll get to the road map in just a second, but among the things that you asked them to do, did you ask them to cut off financial support to these terrorist groups...

POWELL: I gave him...

SCHIEFFER: ...and did they agree to do that?

POWELL: Yeah, well, I gave him a number of issues that had to do with how these terrorist organizations are financed, funded and supported within Syria. And we will see how he acts on the different suggestions that we provided to them. He did say, however, that the offices were closed and that other actions would be taken to restrict their public activities. And so the question isn't what he assured me that he would do or what promises he gave to me. The only thing we're interested in is what actual action he takes and performance.

SCHIEFFER: Let me make sure I understand. You are pleased with what he told you he intends to do.

POWELL: I obviously...

SCHIEFFER: Now you're going to wait and see if he does it.

POWELL: Obviously, I welcome what he said he was going to do and I hope he, on reflection, is willing to do even more. But the only thing that really counts is performance, not my temporary pleasure. It's important to note, though, that in the conversation with President Bashar Assad, I made the point that, as we move forward on the road map -- and I know you're going to come to that -- we're interested in not only peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but a comprehensive settlement that would include the interests of the Syrians and the Golan Heights issue, as well as the interests of the Lebanese as well. We're looking for a comprehensive settlement, and the president's vision of last June was directed toward a full and comprehensive settlement of all of the outstanding issues in the Middle East.

DANA PRIEST, The Washington Post: But did you also give him a promise that if he cooperated that, at a date certain, you would take Syria off the terrorist list?

POWELL: No, I gave him no such promise or date certain. I talked to the president about a number of issues over a three-hour period, not only support for these kinds of organizations, but weapons of mass destruction, harboring any fugitives that might come out of Iraq, keeping the border sealed, making sure that Syria plays a positive role with respect to the reconstruction in Iraq, as well as the bringing up of a new political leadership in Iraq that will follow a democratic process in order to determine...

SCHIEFFER: Was there any kind of time limit? Did you set any time limit on what you expect?

POWELL: No. He knows what we expect, what the United States expects; frankly, what the international community expects. And these are not simple issues for him. And it was everything that is outstanding in our agenda. And he also knows that there are consequences that are lurking in the background, whether it's a Syria Accountability Act that some members of Congress are considering or triggering of the Patriot Act, which would have consequences for Syria with respect to terrorist financing. And so it was a full discussion, all of the outstanding items, but it was in the context -- not just 'Here are these items.' It was in the context of 'It's a new day out here in this part of the world, and you can be a part of the positive future or you can just stay in the past with the policies you have been following. The choice is yours.'

PRIEST: How many Iraqi officials do you think are still in Syria?

POWELL: I don't know. We've -- they have -- some have been made available to them, let me put it that way -- who we knew were longer there. They've been made available to us and they will be before the bar of justice and...

PRIEST: Could there be...

POWELL: ...of the Iraqi people. There are other names that we have passed back and forth to see whether they can be located. But my sense from President Bashar Assad is that he has no interest in serving as a haven for any of these individuals. So I think if we can give him information and give him specific names and anything else we can say about these people, I think he would try to respond. Syria has been helpful over the past 18 months to two years on our efforts in the global war against terrorism. There has been a level of cooperation between us and Syrian intelligence which has been useful. We'd like to see them keep moving in that direction.

I also said, 'There may be people in Syria that we don't know about but you know about, and we would expect you, if you really want to have a more positive relationship with us and with your new neighbors in Iraq, this is the time for you to locate these individuals and turn them over to Iraqi justice and not allow Syria to become a haven for materials that might be coming out of Iraq still or came out of Iraq, or individuals who are trying to seek haven.'

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary, you remember before all this started, you went before the United Nations and talked about weapons of mass destruction. You said, 'We had evidence that large stores of these weapons were there.'

Nobody's found any yet. Did you get any information while you were there about that?

POWELL: Not from the Syrians, no, and they say that they have taken in no weapons of mass destruction from Iraq. Their position is that they think it unlikely that Saddam Hussein would have trusted them with such weapons. Nevertheless, we will continue to watch carefully, and any information or indications we have, we will follow up on them.

I'm still confident weapons of mass destruction will be found.

Have to keep in mind, however, that when we passed UN Resolution 1441 by a vote of 15-to-0, just voting for that resolution signed you up to the proposition that Iraq was not coming clean with respect to their weapons of mass destruction programs. They were found guilty in that resolution by all 15 members of the Security Council who voted for it; guilty of having thwarted the will of the United Nations for 12 years with respect to answering questions concerning their weapons of mass destruction programs. When we said things such as, 'What happened to all of the anthrax material you had? What happened to the botulinum toxins? Explain the discrepancies that exist,' they refused to do so.

Now whether we ever find that amount of material or able to resolve the discrepancies remains to be seen, but I'm absolutely sure that they had weapons of mass destruction, and I'm sure we will find them. And it was the judgment of the United Nations when that resolution was passed that we all believe the same thing.

PRIEST: Well, Secretary Powell, you made a very ironclad case at the UN. You said up to 500 tons of chemical agents and mobile biological labs. It's begun, some people say, to look as if you've overstated the case. Have you gone back to the intelligence community and asked 'Why is it that we haven't found anything yet?'

POWELL: The case that I presented on the 5th of February was a well documented, well-sourced case that was presented by the entire intelligence community. It wasn't something that just came off the top of my head, and we spent days getting that presentation ready with every senior representative present in our briefings, in our preparations. The intelligence community still stands behind that information. I do. And I'm confident that evidence will be found that will show that the United States and its coalition partners had a basis for acting under UN Resolution 1441 because of the presence of weapons of mass destruction.

SCHIEFFER: Dana's paper, The Washington Post, reports this morning that one of the nuclear sites appears now to have been heavily looted. What does that mean? Does that mean somebody may have gotten some nuclear weapons...

POWELL: I have no...

SCHIEFFER: ...or they're...

POWELL: No, no. I don't know what that means. I've read the article, but I haven't received reporting from Central Command or the Pentagon or intelligence sources as to what was there, what is not now there, whether it was under IAEA supervision, and exactly what it was that was looted. A quick reading of the article suggested there might have been some storage tanks that -- or barrels that somebody thought might be there but aren't there, and I don't know what their disposition was. So I can't say anything about the story.

PRIEST: But isn't the real question, if you were really concerned that nuclear-related materials were at these sites, why weren't Special Forces there immediately and why did it take them weeks to get there?

POWELL: I don't know that there was a special concern that there was nuclear-related material at that particular site. I know that early on, we looked at some sites down around--in Tuwaitha, but whether or not this particular site was a site of high concern or not, I can't answer that question until I check in with my colleagues on that.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary, quickly, we want to get to this Middle East road map. You're going back to Israel this week. Are you going to tell Prime Minister Sharon that it is absolutely imperative that the Israelis begin to freeze settlements?

POWELL: It is our policy that settlement activity has to end as part of a comprehensive solution. And I think that is clear. I think it is clear from the president's statements over time. It is an element of the president's 24 June vision speech of last year and it is a part of the road map. It has been part of previous efforts; it's been part of the Mitchell plan and part of the other initiatives before us. Unless we ultimately freeze settlements, end the settlement activity, then we will not be able to find a comprehensive solution to this. So there are obligations and difficult choices ahead for both sides, and it begins with ending terror and violence and Israel can work with the Palestinian Authority, now that it has responsible leadership under Mr. Abu Mazen as prime minister and Mohammad Dahlan as the head of security and we're no longer just stuck with Arafat, who is a failed leader.

We have new leadership coming up. I think we now have a partner that we can work with, that the Israelis can work with, and it is important now not just to debate, you know, language or what's in the road map, what should be in the road map, what's not in the road map, but let's see performance on the part of both sides.

PRIEST: Are you suggesting that President Bush should recognize Abu Mazen and bring him to the White House?

POWELL: President Bush has recognized him. He has been selected by the Palestinian people to be their prime minister. I look forward to meeting with him in the very near future as the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, and in due course, I'm sure the president would be pleased to see him.

It's premature to start speculating on when that might be. What we have to see is give him time to get up and running, and I hope in my upcoming visit, I'll have a chance to sit with Prime Minister Abu Mazen, listen to his hopes, his aspirations, his plans and how he plans to move forward.

SCHIEFFER: Final question: Can you ever envision the United States putting peacekeepers in Israel if some kind of and agreement can be worked out?

POWELL: Two years ago we indicated a willingness to provide U.S. monitors. If we could get some traction and reached a point where a monitoring function was appropriate, the U.S. would be willing to put in monitors under that set of circumstances. Monitors, not peacekeepers, not armed peacekeepers but monitors who would serve as a balance between the two sides, serve to work out differences that might occur. But what we really need is good faith efforts and performance on the part of both sides and then a monitoring function becomes an appropriate thing to do.

PRIEST: Why not armed peacekeepers?

SCHIEFFER: Good I'm sorry.


SCHIEFFER: We have to end it right there. Thank you so much...

POWELL: Thank you. Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. Secretary. Pleasure to have you.

POWELL: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Hope to see you soon.

Back in a minute with the roundtable.


SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with Joe Klein ofTime magazine. Joe is down in Columbia, South Carolina. He was down there last night covering the Democratic debate. All nine of the Democratic candidates were on one stage for the first time, but, Joe, I must say not Many people saw this. A lot of political reporters were down there yesterday. Is it so early that this is just kind of an exhibition game, or do you think this one really counted?

JOE KLEIN, Time Magazine: Well, I think there were probably maybe 18 or 23 non-political junkies in the entire country who actually saw this last night, 'cause it aired at 11:30 on some of the ABC affiliates. It's going to air on C-SPAN today. And that's unfortunate 'cause it was a pretty entertaining debate. I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday night -- maybe I could think of a couple of better ways -- but it but it really was a lot of fun.

Three big headlines came out of this. One is that Joe Lieberman -- Senator Joe Lieberman claimed his piece of the real estate in the center -- the conservative center of the Democratic Party. That's number one.

Number two, Dick Gephardt who proposed a massive universal health insurance plan took a lot of incoming from the other Democrats who were very critical of it mostly because it sends massive subsidies to a lot of the big companies in the country. And you're going to see other Democrats propose more modest health-care plans as we go on.

And third of all, John Kerry and Howard Dean, who are the two front-runners in New Hampshire, don't like each other very much. They were sniping at each other two or three times last night.

SCHIEFFER: You say that Joe Lieberman staked out his claim. How did he do that? What do you mean?

KLEIN: Well, there were a number of Democratic candidates, like Howard Dean, who opposed the war. And he was outspoken in support of President Bush's war in Iraq and also of increased defense spending and also in favor of a more modest, moderate approach on domestic policy issues as opposed to, you know, the big plans like Gephardt's. He hadn't been very forceful in those opinions in the past, but he was really strong and forceful.

At debates like this, it's all about body language and his body language was very certain as opposed to some of the others who were a little bit more uncertain their first time out. And as you say, it was kind of an exhibition game.

SCHIEFFER: Well, what about this business of John Kerry and Howard Dean. Frankly, there are some Democratic advisers who are saying that John Kerry, who obviously has emerged as one of the most well-known candidates, is paying too much attention to Howard Dean, that Howard Dean is really winning this little contest between himself and John Kerry because he is getting Kerry to pay attention to him.

KLEIN: Well, I think it works to Kerry's advantage when they're arguing over national security and Kerry can bring out his resume as a Vietnam War hero and someone who is strong on national defense.

But last night, they were arguing about health care and gay rights in addition to national security and that didn't do Kerry any favors. I mean, this is a -- you know, a 'Hi. This is who I am' debate. 'This is my first appearance before the American public.' And you don't want to spend all your time picking small fights with a maverick candidate. So I don't think it worked to Kerry's advantage.

SCHIEFFER: How does this play off against the pictures we saw this week of President Bush landing on the aircaft carrier and appearing before these screaming, adoring groups of military people?

As far as I'm concerned, that was one of the great pictures of all time. And if you're a political consultant, you can just see campaign commercial written all over the pictures of George Bush.

KLEIN: Well, that was probably the coolest presidential image since Bill Pullman played the jet fighter pilot in the movie "Independence Day." That was the first thing that came to mind for me. And it just shows you how high a mountain these Democrats are going to have to climb.

You compare that image, which everybody across the world saw, with this debate last night where you have nine people on a stage and it doesn't air until 11:30 at night, up against "Saturday Night Live," and you see what a major, major struggle the Democrats are going to have to try and beat a popular incumbent president.

SCHIEFFER: If the economy goes sour, though, if the economy is in bad shape a year from now, that will probably have more impact than any pictures, though. Don't you agree with that?

KLEIN: Oh--oh, sure. You know, there are three major problems in the world that could spell real trouble for President Bush.

Number one is, if the reconstruction of Iraq doesn't go well, if Americans are being picked off by suicide bombers and there are terrible events like, you know, there were in Lebanon 20 years ago, American servicemen being killed, that would be tough.

Number two is, if there's another terrorist attack here.

And number three, of course, is the economic performance.

But the Democrats have to do something more than just hope for bad news. They have to present some kind of an optimistic, positive vision of the future. And you know, I gotta say that in the past, Democrats have been kind of bad-news junkies and professional pessimists. I don't think that works very well in an optimistic a country as the United States.

SCHIEFFER: So, as you see it now, Joe -- and nobody, I think, could make a really firm prediction at this point -- you think that it is Lieberman who probably helped himself most. And who would you say...

KLEIN: Yeah. I...

SCHIEFFER: Let's say if we get to -- we've had two or three primaries and we get toward the end of February -- who do you think at that point just judging from what you saw last night, who do you think will be the -- say the three leading contenders at that point for the nomination?

KLEIN: Bob, you actually think you're going to get me to answer that question?

SCHIEFFER: No, but...

KLEIN: This is totally wide open. I think that there are five or six candidates who have very plausible chances to become president. This was just the very beginning, but it did tell me that Joe Lieberman is going to be a factor in this race. I think John Kerry, John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, Howard Dean are all going to be factors as well, and maybe even Bob Graham, the senator from Florida, who has just joined this race the first time.

SCHIEFFER: OK. Thank you very much, Joe. Thanks a lot.

KLEIN: My pleasure.

SCHIEFFER: We'll be back with a final word in just a minute.


SCHIEFFER: Finally today, for most of us at CBS News, 9/11 was the biggest story we would ever cover. But for 23-year-old Melissa Valcarcel, who is the youngest member of the "CBS Evening News" staff, it was a day that changed her family's lives forever.

Wheelchair-bound all his life because of polio, her father, Bill, worked in the south tower of the World Trade Center. When the first plane hit, she was terrified until she called her mother.

MELISSA VALCARCEL: She says, `I know. I know. I just spoke to your father. He is fine. It's not his building. He is OK.'

SCHIEFFER: Euphoric that he was safe, Melissa returned to her work in the newsroom only to look up at one of the TV monitors a few minutes later as the second plane hit his building.

VALCARCEL: I knew that was my dad's building. And I just stood there. And I said, 'My dad is in there. That's his building.'

SCHIEFFER: She spent long hours at ground zero during the survivors' search, but her father died trying to help others to safety. She was determined he not be forgotten. And yesterday, because of her letter writing campaign and the work of City Councilman Oliver Koppell, the street where the family has lived for 24 years in the Bronx was renamed "William Valcarcel Place."

VALCARCEL: Today is a celebration of his life. Today is a celebration of who we all know. It's who he is, who he continues to be and who we all remember.

SCHIEFFER: Bill Valcarcel was an American hero, but he was remembered by Melissa yesterday as a wonderful father, a wonderful father who will not be forgotten because he has a wonderful daughter.

That's it for us. We'll see you next week right here on Face The Nation.