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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Powell Testifies Before Appropriations Committee

Aired March 13, 2003 - 11:11   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We want to go live to the Hill right now where Defense Secretary Colin Powell is testifying for the House Appropriations Committee -- let's listen.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: ... so, we have found that there is a great deal of now disagreement over this issue, and I'm not unmindful of the public disagreement that exists in Europe and elsewhere.

But there is also a great deal of support. The United States is not isolated politically on this issue and nobody is supporting us. I can point to the strong efforts of Prime Minister Blair of the United Kingdom. I can point to the speech that Prime Minister Howard of Australia gave yesterday to the people of Australia. I just left a meeting in the Oval Office with the prime minister of Ireland. A small company that stood up strongly on the Security Council last fall and voted with us and continues to support us. Even though they have difficulties at home, they know what has to be done to disarm this nation.

I can point to Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, the Vilnius Ten, the Group of Eight, Japan. The United States is not in this alone.

One thing is clear: The whole world recognizes that Saddam Hussein must be disarmed. The debate we're having, the disagreement we're having: how best to accomplish that.

We have tried to accomplish it peacefully for 12 long years. Saddam Hussein is the one who is guilty. Saddam Hussein is the one who is not responding. It is he who is not complying. The only reason he is doing anything now is a result of the threat of force.

Remember, when the president gave his speech on the 12th of September, within three days suddenly Saddam Hussein was starting to say let the inspectors in, but not really. Everything he has done since the president's speech has been an effort to try to keep away the day of reckoning.

Well, the day of reckoning is fast approaching. We still hope for a peaceful solution. We hope a peaceful, diplomatic way can be found. But the one thing that we have made clear to the world since the very beginning of this crisis, that the United States is committed to the disarmament of the Iraqi regime. We hope it'll be done peacefully. But if it's not done peacefully, the United States is prepared to lead a coalition of the willing that will do it. And when it is done, there will be bills, as mentioned here this morning. There will be need for reconstruction. But in that effort, the Iraqi people will be better off. The United States has a track record over the past 60 years of leaving places a lot better than we found them.

Mr. Chairman, in the interest of time, I'll stop there...

COSTELLO: All right. We're going to dip back out. That was Colin Powell speaking before the House Appropriations Committee on the Hill.

Let's talk about the change of plans on the Hill. The White House says a vote on a second U.N. resolution on Iraq may not happen until next week, suggesting the votes are still not there for passage.

Let's bring in our White House correspondent, Dana Bash. What's it looking like, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Carol. Well, the White House is saying that they are willing to continue the negotiations at the United Nations into next week. That is different from what they had been saying earlier in the week. That was that they wanted the vote to be this week, no matter what, but in the interest of trying to find as many votes as possible, they clearly feel here at the White House that the more talking goes on, the more that, perhaps, they can get additional countries on board at the U.N. Security Council.

One thing, although we are told privately that there is a sense that perhaps, it is not necessarily likely, but there is a possibility that there wouldn't be a vote called for at all if they couldn't get as many votes as they wanted together on the U.N. Security Council, they are saying publicly, Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, said publicly earlier today that they do want a vote no matter what.

But what this is -- what this means, Carol, is that if it spills into next week, Monday is March 17. That is what the deadline had been in the original proposal.

That, of course, makes that deadline moot if it spills into next week. Negotiations do continue, and it was interesting -- you just heard Colin Powell talking about the number of countries that the United States feels it has on board with them. The United Kingdom, Australia, and others trying to maintain that the U.S., no matter what happens at the United Nations, does have what he called that "coalition of the willing," maintaining that the U.S. is not going to go this alone.

So here at the White House, they are talking about the fact that they are continuing to work. The president will have a lot of phone calls, we are told, additional phone calls today, all an effort to get those votes -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right. Dana Bash reporting live from the White House this morning. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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