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President Bush at the State Department

Aired October 4, 2001 - 10:22   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Just a few moments away at the U.S. State Department, the president has entered the room.

We anticipate the Secretary of State Colin Powell to introduce the president on what will be the announcement of a significant aid package to the Afghan people, well over $300 million, which is much more significant than the previous announcement of $100 million of aid.

Kelly Wallace at the White House. What made them ramp up the amount of money that we're about to hear today?

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly Bill, increasing concern about the situation there. We definitely knew earlier in the week, the president authorizing as much as $100 million in aid. We were told though by administration officials, that number likely to go up because of the concern about what could be a definite humanitarian crisis.

As we know, tens of thousands of people fleeing Afghanistan, most of them heading to neighboring Pakistan. Concern about winter approaching, definitely wanting to get food and other aid to the people of Afghanistan to make sure that they're OK, to prevent massive death and starvation.

Bill, I just wanted to sort of comment on this picture we're watching, which is really significant. The president walking into the auditorium there at the State Department, shaking hands, getting a rousing reception. We saw him do this.

He went over to the FBI, to the CIA, to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. So part of this visit of course to unveil this aid package, but also to kind of boost the morale of all of these staffers working around the clock in this international campaign against terrorism. Clearly the staffers giving the president a rousing reception right there, Bill.

HEMMER: Kelly, I guess it is one thing to give out the money and make the announcement, it's another thing to get it to the people who need it.

Andrea Koppel our State Department correspondent there watching the room as well.

What's the plan for distribution, Andrea? Have they detailed that just yet?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, they are looking to use the obvious organizations, the International Red Cross, the United Nations, airlifts are being talked about, dropping it over the countryside, perhaps even trucking it across the border.

But right now, Bill, what the administration is -- what you are going to hear President Bush talking about is really public diplomacy, the need to get the message out there to the international community, especially the Islamic world, that the United States is not targeting the Afghan people. It wants to help the Afghan people, that this is all about the Taliban and its sheltering, giving safe haven to Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network.

HEMMER: All right, Andrea. Stand by there at the State Department. Kelly Wallace also at the White House. We will listen to the Secretary of State now.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Good morning, colleagues. Please take your seats.

It's a great pleasure to welcome the president back to his State Department.


Mr. President, we're very pleased to have you back, and before introducing you, let me take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of all of my colleagues here, present and around the world, and my colleagues from the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Peace Corps, and all of the members of the foreign policy family. Let me thank you for the support that you have given to us over the past almost nine months, for the confidence you have shown in us and for what you have done in sending up to the Congress a responsible budget that will make sure we are the 21st century foreign policy team that America deserves and will have, and we thank you for that, Mr. President.


And Mr. President, on behalf of everyone here, I want to thank you for the leadership that you have provided to the nation and to the world over the last three-plus weeks since the tragic incidents of September 11th. The world has come together behind your leadership. The world will stick with you, and I can assure you that your State Department is out there making sure that everybody understands the nature of the campaign you are leading and that we will get you the support that you need.

I just want to tell you, Mr. President, that my colleagues are with you. And now it is my great pleasure once again to introduce you to them.

Ladies and gentlemen, the leader of our foreign policy team, President George W. Bush.




Thank you very much.


Please be seated. Thank you all.

Mr. Secretary, I'm honored you invited me back. I'm glad to be back to be able to say thanks on behalf of the American people to the patriots who work for our Department of State. Thanks for your hard work. Thanks for your dedication. Thanks for your love of America.

I'm also here to announce an initiative to help the Afghan people in a time of crisis and in a time of need. America will stand strong and will oppose the sponsors of terror, and American will stand strong and help those people who are hurt by those regimes.

Mr. Secretary, I am proud of your leadership. The last night I came, I predicted you'd be a great secretary of state. You have not let me down.


And neither have the folks who work at the State Department, not only here in Washington, but in embassies throughout the world. America's proud of your service. And America's comforted by the fact that we are united as we stand to fight terror.

We are engaged in a noble cause and that is to say loud and clear to the evil doers that "We reject you, that we will stand firm against terror, and that this great nation, along with many other nations, will defend freedom."

I want to thank those of you who have worked extra long hours to help forge this fantastic coalition that we're building, a coalition of people all around the world who understand that the evil acts could have happened to them, just like they happened to us. People understand that now is the time to take a stand, to seize this moment, to say that out of this evil act will come good, and the State Department has helped lead the way. And I'm proud of your efforts. And I'm proud of your hard work.

After all, many of you understand the affects of terror. We had two of our embassies bombed; colleagues were injured and died. I mean, the State Department has been on the front line of battling terror and the front line of seeing the affects of terror. And the American people appreciate the heroism of the people who serve our country overseas.

This is a unique type of war. It's a war that is going to require us building a broad coalition of nations who will contribute one way or the other to make sure that we all win. Some nations may be willing to commit troops, if that's a decision that we make. Other nations will help in cutting off funding. The truth of the matter is, the first shot we fired in this war against the evildoers was when the secretary and I and the secretary of treasury said, "We're going to find their money, and we're going to starve them of their money. We're going to find their bank accounts, and we will freeze them." We're going to talk to banks all around the world, and make it clear that if they're on our side, if they join the folks who are fighting evil, that they've got to do everything they can to cut off their funds.

When we starve them of their funds, we starve them of their capacity to move against freedom. I am proud of the coalitions that we built. I'm proud of the fact that the secretary of state and the able team here at the State Department is a results oriented group of folks. We said, not only join the coalition, we said, "Here is what we expect you to do. Here is your assignment."

I mean, one of the things the American people appreciate about our administration is that we're results oriented folks, that we expect there to be results. We expect if you're on our team, that we want your performance, and it's making a difference.

As I announced the other day, we've collectively rounded up 150 terrorists, people associated with the Al Qaeda organization. Thanks to the secretary of state's work, and others' work, and the work of people around the world, we've convinced those who joined our coalition to route out terrorists, to find them, to incarcerate them, to question them, to find out what's in their mind and what their future activities may be. And we're making great progress. This is a strong coalition, it's a strong coalition because we've got great leadership. But it's a strong coalition because we're right. Because it's a strong coalition, because we've made it clear, this is not a war between Christianity or Judaism and Islam.

As a matter of fact, the teachings of Islam make it clear that peace is important, that compassion is a part of life. This is a war between good and evil, and we have made it clear to the world that we will stand strong on the side of good, and we expect other nations to join us.


This is not a war between our world and their world. It is a war to save the world, and people now understand that. And I want to thank you for all your work of making that simple yet profound mission clear.

We have no compassion for terrorists in this country. We have no compassion. Nor will we have any compassion for any state that sponsors them.

Oh, yes, we're a compassionate nation, but our compassion is limited. We have great compassion, however, for the millions around the world who are victims of hate, victims of oppressive government, including the people who live in Afghanistan. Today, I'm announcing, along with the secretary of state, that America will contribute an additional $20 million in humanitarian assistance for Afghans for more food, more medicine to help the innocent people of Afghanistan deal with the coming winter. This is our way of saying that while we firmly and strongly oppose the Taliban regime, we are friends of the Afghan people.

We will work the U.N. agencies such as the World Food Program and work with private volunteer organizations to make sure this assistance gets to the people. We will make sure that not only the folks in Afghanistan need help get help, but we will help those who have fled to neighboring countries to get help as well.

There's no question that we're an angry people about what happened to our country. But in our angry, we must never forget we're a compassionate people as well. We will fight evil, but in order to overcome evil, the great goodness of America must come forth and shine forth. And one way to do so is to help the poor souls in Afghanistan, and we're going to do so.

I want to remind the world that helping people in need is a central part of not only the Christian faith but of Judaism and the Hindu faith and, of course, a central part of Islamic traditions.

And that's why our coalition is more than just one to route terrorism out of the world. It's one to bind together, to knit those traditions in a way that helps people in need.

You know, I talked to a lot of world leaders, and Colin has as well. And I told them, through our tears, we see opportunity, that in our sadness and grief, we see an opportunity to not only defend freedom but to make the world more peaceful. I see an opportunity at home when I hear the stories of Christian and Jewish women alike helping women of cover, Arab-American women, go shop because they're afraid to leave their home.

I see a great opportunity when I see moms and dads spend more time with their children here at home. I see, out of this sadness and grief, an opportunity for America to re-examine our culture, to re- examine how we view the need to help people in need whether it be in our own neighborhood and around the world. I see, out of this evil, will come good, not only here at home, as youngsters all of a sudden understand the definition of sacrifice, the sacrifice of those brave souls on Flight 93, who after the 23rd Psalm said, let's roll to save America.

I see an opportunity as well to bring peace to the world, the likes of which we've never seen. I appreciate the secretary of state's hard work in the Middle East. It has been diligent, it has been consistent, it has been true to the principles of America that, in order for there to be peace, we must reduce the level of violence. I see an opportunity to make sure the subcontinent is more peaceful.

No, in our grief and in our sadness, I see an opportunity to make the world a better place for generations to come. And we'll seize the opportunity. I fully understand that some will grow weary and some will tire. Not this administration, and not the people of the State Department.

I know there will be some nations that will become frustrate over time because we're fighting a different kind of campaign. But we won't weary, this is a nation that has determined -- made a determination to rise up in a united way, to not only spread goodwill around the world, but to find terrorists where they may live and may hide and those who harbor them and bring them to justice. Now is the time.


Now is the time for this great nation to lead.

And I'm proud of the secretary of state and the hardworking people of the State Department for joining us in this cause.

Thank you for letting me come by again. May God bless you all and may God bless America.


HEMMER: Andrea Koppel also at the State Department.

Andrea, we left off with the again, and we heard it from the president, indicating again, this was a fight not against religion, not against Islam, but rather the Al Qaeda network and Osama bin Laden. Do you get indication at the State Department that that very message is indeed getting out?

KOPPEL: Well, it's getting out to the international community, Bill, but it is not necessarily getting to Afghanistan, and that's why I'm told the State Department is working on -- working through Voice of America, working through some Pakistani radio stations, to make sure that in their national tongue, in Pashtoon and in other dialects, that that message is getting into Afghanistan, to the Afghan people, that the United States is not building this coalition to target them. It's meant to target the Taliban, which it -- the U.S. describes as a repressive regime, and one that is harboring and sheltering known terrorist Osama bin Laden and his network.

But part of what President Bush was doing as this public diplomacy campaign continues, is to convince many within the Arab world, not necessarily the leadership, but the average man and women on the street, that this is not, as you mentioned, a war against Islam this is not the United States beating up on the poor Afghan people who have been suffering for so many years. In point of fact, the United States wants to help the Afghan people.

There's also a second part, Bill, and that is, that this is not something that the U.S. is getting into lightly. This is not a repeat of 1998, when the Clinton administration lobbed dozens of cruise missile into Afghanistan and then left. the U.S., according to the Bush administration, is in this for the long haul. That should help these Muslim states, these other countries that perhaps are sitting on the fence, get on board with the coalition and recognize they are not putting necks on the chopping block, and the U.S. will get up and leave.

OK, Bill, to the White House quickly, and Kelly Wallace.

The aid package official, $320 million at this time. But Senator Joseph Biden indicating last night that that package should increase eventually to about billion dollars. Should we anticipate this price tag going up even higher?

WALLACE: Well, we certainly could, Bill, if the situation continues to get worse. We know about 125 million will be immediate assistance to go to the people of Afghanistan and the region right away, really to go to the international governmental and nongovernmental agencies that have experience delivering food and medicines to people in need. And then I'm told about 195 million of that aid will go in a couple of months when the winter approaches. Obviously great concern about the winter approaching and what situation that could mean for the people of Afghanistan.

As you noted, though, some Democrats. Of course, Senator Biden calling for an even larger number. Obviously the administration will feel pressure if the situation gets even worse. And clearly, just following up on what Andrea was saying, this is a message to the region, to the people, also to neighboring Pakistan, which is very, very concerned, Bill, because most of the people leaving Afghanistan are fleeing across the border, so this is also a message to say to Pakistan, you've been very cooperative in this campaign against terrorism, you are helping, and we will help you, too, we will not leave you alone, we will help you deal with the refugees coming into your country -- Bill.

HEMMER: Kelly, obviously this may not be the only time we see the president today. Earlier, we talked about his busy schedule. Again today, give us a quick recap of what's anticipated for President Bush today.

Yes, lots of activity for the president today. He'll do some more coalition building as we continue to talk about meeting with Mexico's president, Vicente Fox, here at the White House. The president, the Mexican president, just happened to be for a state visit a couple of weeks ago. He has pledged -- quote -- "continual support to the United States in this campaign," so we will see the two leaders -- also, Bill, we will see the president -- and there you see the two leaders during their state visit earlier this month.

Also, Bill, the president will head to the Labor Department, again, thanking the workers who've been working again very, very hard, but he'll have an announcement on the domestic front. His ideas to help the tens of thousands of workers who have been laid off or are out of work, because of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

We have learned the president will call for extending the 26-week unemployment benefit period an additional 13 weeks, and that he'll also be calling for some block grants to states to provide health care and job training, again, to workers out of a job, and then again, the president doing more coalition building, meeting with the Emir of Qatar. So a busy day for the president, and you're likely to see him on those fronts today -- Bill.

HEMMER: And we shall see you as well. Thank to you. Also thanks to Andrea at the State Department. Many thanks.




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