As Kevin probably told you, I was initially calling to find out about
this quote that's in the Vanity Fair article. I don't know if you've
seen it or not. And Kevin gave me this sort of additional context to
it, but I did want to ask... This quote where it says "for bureaucratic
reasons, we settled on one issue - weapons of mass destruction, because
it was the one reason everyone could agree on." And I sort of have just
kind of taken that apart to ask you what you meant by "bureaucratic
Wolfowitz: The truth is,
we've always had all three of those reasons, and in fact, if you look
at Powell's presentation, there have always been all three. There has
been a tendency to emphasize the weapons of mass destruction issue.
But, as I said in the fuller quote, the real thing that has concerned
the President from the beginning and which I think is even the "axis"
that's referred to in the "axis of evil" is the connection between
terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. So in a way, that's always
been the main thing. But if you look at where the intelligence
community tends to go, the issue about weapons of mass destruction has
never been in controversy. Whereas there's been a lot of arguing back
and forth about how much Iraq is involved in terrorism. At the end of
the day, it's actually the connection between the two that was seen as
completely different in the light of September 11th.
DeYoung: So, when you say...
By the way, I've never - you know, apropos of the WMD thing--I can't
recall (m)any intelligence assessments that have been as unanimous as
the judgment about Iraqi chemical and biological weapons. And even the
terrorism one at the end of the day, Tenet spoke to it in that letter
he sent to the SASC last fall and obviously Powell spoke to it quite
clearly in his talk at the UN, but there have been times when we seem
like we're ... or people say, I don't think it's fair actually, but
people say that we shouldn't focus so much on WMD. I really do think
we've always had all three reasons, together.
So when you say "it's the thing people could agree on", you're
referring back to this sort of arguing about the terrorism thing, that
that was always kind of a...
Well, there've been disputes within the intelligence community on the
exact nature of that one. There's been very little dispute about the
WMD, except for some of the borderline issues.
Right. Would you say... I mean, in recent days, some things that people
have said... there's been a lot of talk about, well, they're very good
at hiding them, maybe they destroyed them. I mean the Secretary said
yesterday that they might have destroyed them. How frustrating is it
not to be able to find them?
Well, look, I mean, we've stressed since 1441 was passed that the key
to finding out what this program is, what they have, what they've
destroyed, what they were working on, is getting people to talk to us.
And that remains the key. And it will take time. I mean, it took time
in 1991, if you recall. I think it was three months after the war that
the IAEA was prepared to declare there was no nuclear program, and it
was about 3-6 months later that they discovered that, in fact, they
were pursuing not one, but I think four different routes to nuclear
weapons, a couple of which we had completely missed. So it takes time
to do this stuff.
DeYoung: But, I mean obviously, Saddam Hussein was still there and they were still in charge and sort of calling the shots.
Well, but they hadn't had 12 years to build mobile production
facilities and hide things in tunnels and... They made a lot of early
mistakes with the UN inspectors that opened up things.... Look, the two
situations are different, I agree. But no one should expect this kind
of deception effort to get penetrated overnight.
DeYoung: Are there still scientists that you can't find that you want to talk to?
Oh yeah. I mean look, the list of... I don't keep the list, but you
know, the larger list of 250-some people that we're looking for
includes a lot of the people who would know about this program. And the
ones that we do have so far would appear to be pretty deceptive.
DeYoung: Why would they still be lying about it?
I think for some of the same reasons that we still have elements of the
old terror apparatus and the old regime still sitting in the
background. There's still a mechanism there that intimidates people.
Kellems: We're going to need to wrap it up.
Okay, let me just... But do you think that you might have oversold the
whole WMD thing last fall? With the sort of, not only do they have
production facilities, they actually have weapons that are ready to be
Wolfowitz: I don't think so.
I mean, I think we were working from, as I told you, one of the most
widely shared intelligence assessments I know of.
DeYoung: And even if we end up not finding...?
Wolfowitz: We're a long way from...
Kellems: We can't go there. Karen, come on! [Laughter] That was a trick question.
DeYoung: Oh, it was? I'm sorry. I didn't mean it to be.
Kellems: I was just kidding.
DeYoung: No, I didn't.
No, there was no oversell. I mean, let's go back and remember what
changed the whole world, which is 3,000 Americans were killed on
September 11th by commercial airliners. And a couple of weeks later we
got a warning of what somebody could do with envelopes filled with
anthrax. And the question is, in the face of an understanding of a
threat of that kind, and the kinds of intelligence assessments that we
had, and the kind of determined efforts by this hostile regime to
frustrate the whole effort to uncover their weapons, I don't think we
were overselling at all.
DeYoung: Okay. Thanks. Have a good trip.