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President George W. Bush
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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Richard Armitage
Deputy Secretary of State

July 2, 2004

Mr. Armitage is currently answering questions. We will be posting the questions and answers very soon. Stay online!

Mark, from Kansas writes:
How hard is the United States going after Osama bin Laden? I would like to see more from President Bush on this issue. It almost seems as if he has forgotten about September 11th and the main man behind Al-Qaeda. Bin Laden's terror group attacks America, kills 3,000 innocent people, and he is still running free. I would send every available resource to find him.

This, I believe, is what the American people want. HUNT DOWN BIN LADEN No matter the cost

Richard Armitage
We're pushing as hard as possible. A very large number of US troops are in Afghanistan daily searching for Bin Laden. Our Pakistani allies are pushing hard in the tribal areas. He can run; he is running; but he won't be able to hide forever.

Raymond, from Henderson, North Carolina writes:
The increased activation of ready reserves to fight in Iraq demonstrates the need for more personnel in our military. There are many retired military personnel who have met their military obligation, who would be willing to return to temporary active duty. These personnel could fill stateside billets allowing others to serve where needed. I am one who would volunteer.

Richard Armitage
First of all, I appreciate the patriotism that is indicated in your statement. You are quite right; the nature of warfare has changed. Many retired military personnel could help with certain jobs in the logistics area. This is something I think the Department of Defense is considering.

Michael, from Chattanooga, TN writes:
Mr. Deputy Secretary I realize that roughly 20 million dollars of Iraqi funds has gone into the rebuilding of the infrastructure of Iraq, but how much of the coalition funds have been put into the reconstruction effort?


Richard Armitage
The Iraqis actually have put several billions of their own dollars in the reconstruction. The United States, who has pledged or has had appropriated $18 billion, has obligated about $5 1/2 billion to Iraqi reconstruction.

The rest of the international community is approaching approximately a billion dollars in Iraqi reconstruction as of this date.

Debbie, from St Louis MO writes:
I need to know why we are losing our men and women fighting for a county who's people can't get along with each other, let alone any body else.

Richard Armitage
We're asking the sacrifice of our men and women, first of all, in our own defense. Second of all, in defense of the region which has large implications for the United States.

The future of Iraq, if it develops democratically, will be one of the most momentous developments in the Middle East and will further the goal of peace and stability regionally which will obviate the need for other sons and daughters to fight in that region anytime in the near future.

Larry, from nc writes:
why are we not using GPS tracking for our troops and contractors who are in harms way?

Richard Armitage
We do use GPS for our troops and for some of the contractors. I don't think all of them have this capability, but it is clearly the wave of the future and it is in the direction that which people in businesses in military units are going.

chris, from orcutt, ca writes:
I was just wondering what actions are being taken in regards to the search for osama bin laden. It has been many years since he was first considered a fugitive, even before september 11th, so how has the "strongest nation in the world" allowing him to escape us? One of three things is happening here.

Either we, the most wealthy country in the world, do not possess the capability of finding such a rich terrorist, or we are our troops more tied up in finding all the "weapons of mass destruction" that Saddam Huesien supposedly had, or finally that our president does not really wish to find this attacker of our native soil. My question to you is which is it? Do we not have the technology to find him, the man power, or the will?

Richard Armitage
Finding Osama Bin Laden is not so much a matter of technology as it is manpower, will and good hard elbow grease. Pakistani allies are very active in the tribal areas on the Afghan border. We are very active in Afghanistan and sooner or later, Osama Bin Laden will go down.

Earle, from Boise, Idaho writes:
I have a son serving in the Army in Afghanistan and nephews serving in Iraq.

What can I do here in America to support our efforts over there? I believe in the cause of freedom for which we sacrifice. I just want to know how I can contribute to that cause.

Richard Armitage
Thank you very much for the sacrifice your son and nephews are making both in Afghanistan and in Iraq. As a Vietnam vet myself, I am very proud of them and proud of you. I believe you contribute to the cause when you support their efforts, support your government and force the government to be as candid and as open with you as possible. This is the American way.

sarah, from georgia writes:
What is the response to Michael Moore's film, "Fahrenheit 911", showing there was special permission given for 142 people, including members of the Bin Laden family to fly out of the country two days after 911 while the rest of the country was forbidden to fly?

Richard Armitage
I did not see the film so I can't comment on it. There were certain people from Saudi Arabia who left after 9/11 and my understanding is that the bi-partisan commission who is investigating 9/11 found nothing untoward in this departure.

Sandra, from Las Vegas, NV writes:
How do you know that the terrorists want us to pull out of Iraq, and if this is the case are we going to keep our troops there forever? Aren't there many terrorist cells in Saudi Arabia, so why aren't we invading there? What about Iran, throughout the years it has been claimed that there are terrorist regimes their as well, are we invading them in the near future? Back to Saudi Arabia - women still are not free in that country, which goes directly to your comment about it being America's job to make sure that all people are allowed the same freedoms as Americans. When does our government plan to overthrow the Saudi Terrorist men who torture the Saudi women and take away their freedom?

Richard Armitage
There are terrorist cells in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia security forces and civlians have suffered at the hands of bombings, shootings and the like of these terrorists. We have had recently citizens killed by these same terrorists. We are working side by side with the Saudis to try rip out these cells root and branch.

We are working more generally in the Middle East whether it is in Saudi Arabia, where you correctly described women's freedoms as being circumscribed, or Afghanistan to broaden the liberties, to broaden the extent of educational activities including women.

Betty, from Ohio writes:
Isn't it about time we bring home our women and men from overseas??? I feel that so many has died, and for what? Yes, they attacked us, and we attacked them. We have done so much overseas, is it going to be appreciated, or is it going to stop them from attacking us again? We are suffering here too.

Richard Armitage
I think most Americans would consider themselves to be relucant internationalists. Time and again, whether it was the first world war, the 2nd world war, Korea or even Vietnam.

There is a great deal of gratitude for the sacrifice of the American men and women.

We sacrifice like this not out of feelings of altruism but for two reasons:

1. It is demonstratively in our self interests. 2. We have been given much by the Almighty and those who have much, much is expected of them.

Diane, from Richboro, Pennsylvania writes:
While the press and recent movie releases condemned the foreign policy of this administration, there are many who admire the President for making and carrying out a plan to protect our country and standing his ground despite recent and publicized protests. No one supports the atrocities of war; our enemy, however, will not understand rational methods of conflict resolution. If we do not take a proactive role in confronting terrorism abroad, we will inevitably confront it in our back yards in the future.

I (and I believe a silent majority) support the efforts of President Bush in defending our country and its citizens against the barbarism of terrorists.

Richard Armitage
Thank you very much . I'm sure the President would take great heart from your comments as we all do in this administration. You are right, we won't be caught on our back foot again and we will take that proactive role you speak about.

Josh, from Milwaukee, WI writes:
What will happen should Sadaam be found innocent?

Richard Armitage
Seems to me after the scenes of jubilation, the comments about evidence that I heard yesterday and the arraignment of Saddam Hussein, it is not a question of being found innocent, it is a question of only having a fair trial where his guilt is demonstrated to all -- far and wide.

Sam, from CA writes:
A recent US customs bulletin has singled out US CITIZENS of Pakistani origin for screening at airports. Isn't this unconstitutional? Shouldn't ALL US citizens be treated equally, even if they are born in Mars?

Richard Armitage
I didn't see the bulletin. From time to time, there is information about terrorists in different countries causing us difficulties. I am sorry for any inconvenience to any US Citizen. I hope there will be a time in the future where we can get back to a situation where no one is singled out and all of us are safe.

Lisa, from Lackawanna, NY writes:
Well, who in their right minds would give Saddam Hussein back? Did we not go into that country and take him out? So why are we giving him back?

Richard Armitage
Saddam Hussein is responsible, some people estimate, for the deaths of a million Iraqis. He is responsible for the invasion of Kuwait and the raping and killing of thousands.

Those are the people in the first instance who have a right to extract justice. I think that is the proper course of action.

Pat, from Lithia Springs GA writes:
I was concerned when my liberal friend informed me that Colin Powell and the President are not seeing eye to eye on many issues including the Iraq war. She cited that, as the reason Mr Powell has had such a low profile in the past year regarding Iraq. What is the truth on this issue?

Thank you.

Richard Armitage
President Bush is surrounded by a Cabinet of very strong willed individuals. This is just the way the President wants it. The President takes different points of view; appreciates different points of view; and then he makes his decision.

Secretary Powell, it seems to me, has not had such a low profile in the last year regarding Iraq. He gave a testimony to the UN Security Council; he testified on Capitol Hill; the fact of the matter is the majority of the activities regarding Iraq over the past year has been military in nature.

Therefore, the Department of Defense and our military has been the foremost in the public eye.

verna, from annapolis writes:
Why does this administration keep repeating the same song over and over, that Saddam was strongly connected to the Al Queda and Bin Laden and 911, when everyone knows this is not so for many reasons?

Richard Armitage
The 9/11 Commission has shown quite clearly that there were contacts between Saddam Hussein, intelligence organizations and al Qaida over a number of years.

The President of the United States and the Secretary of State has said we have no information connecting Saddam Hussein in the 911 attacks. Those are two different things.

Wendy, from Riverside, CA writes:
Mr. Richard Armitage,After all your international experiences - are you able to justify the blatant disregard of U.S. foreign policy for the majority world's right to self-determination? Do you not detect that "terrorism" is the new "communism" - euphemisms to excuse the growing overtly imperialistic tendancies of the U.S. government?

And if you are on the side of justice - what can you do to change it?

Richard Armitage
Thank you for your comment. No nation in the world ever gives up their right of self defense. This President was not going to wait while a storm gathered and attacked us considering the horror our citizens felt after 9/11.

Terrorism is not the new communism, it is worse.

Regarding imperialism, it is interesting to note -- as far as I know -- in all of the military activities that the United States has taken part in, in over a century, we never asked for more land in any country than the six feet necessary to bury our dead. Period.

Randy, from Roseburg, OR writes:
Dear Mr. Armitage, Will the President be meeting with Mr. Putin again soon? I am encouraged by their relationship and I think a healthy relationship with Russia can sprout good things.

Richard Armitage
I don't know if Mr. Putin will be coming to the United Nations General Assembly in September but the President just met with Mr. Putin at the Sea Island Summit. I appreciate your comments. We too are encouraged by their personal relationship and by the ever growing relationship we are having with the Russian Federation.

Mark, from Santa Fe writes:
So many current and former BushReaganCheney adminstration staff profit from war. What do you think of that? Isn't it in their interest to promote war instead of peace?

Richard Armitage
I don't know how they can profit from war. If you are speaking about investments, stock ownings in previous companies when they were in the private sector, most of us have to give up our stocks before we enter government. We have to sell them, so there is no way we can profit

No one profits from war except those who are free from subjugation.

Mark, from America writes:
Saudia Arabia is not a democracy. Saudia Arabia has lots of oil. Is there a reason we are not bringing democracy to the oppressed there? Wouldn't that help bring stabiltiy to the area? Haven't the Saudis given millions to terrorists through their fake charities? Oh yeah, most of the 911 hijackers were Saudis yes? Thanks for answering this for America.

Richard Armitage
Mark, you are right, 16 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. Saudi Arabia is not a democracy. But the United States has led the international community in trying to develop a broader Middle East and North Africa reform agenda based on increased education activities (including for women), increased transparency and reduction of corruption.

The Saudis are working with the US government quite rigorously to close down the charities that heretofore which you note were used as a funnel of money to terrorists.

Bruce, from Connecticut writes:
Why do the people of Iraq have so much hate for the Americans and nothing is said about Saddam Hussain? Are we wrong about how terrible he treated them?

Richard Armitage
I think the people of Iraq had no patience for occupiers. And although initially we were greeted as liberators, we rapidly became seen as occupiers. That situation changed three days ago when the government of the new Iraq took sovereign control of their country.

It is very difficult to imagine that the Iraqi people will ever again in large numbers express an affection for Saddam Hussein. He treated them terribly, at least those who were not in a favored ethnic group.

Don, from Denver writes:
Why did you, and the rest of the administration, lie to the American people about the reasons for the war with Iraq? Do you, or any of your close friends, have children serving in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Richard Armitage
I have children, not serving in the military. Many of my friends do. I have served in Vietnam for six years. We went to war with Iraq, first of all, as a matter of self defense. Second of all to make a region safer and more stable. Third of all, to make sure that a man who had a WMD program, who had the expertise to develop them, and who had money would not own those weapons. Not now or not ever.

Tim, from Pennsylvania (a swing state) writes:
What does the administration plan to do about the genocide in Darfur? As

Nicholas Kristof writes in his NY Times piece, "Mr. Bush seems proud of his "moral clarity," his willingness to recognize evil and bluntly describe it as such. Well, Darfur reeks of evil, and we are allowing it to continue." What's up with that?

Richard Armitage
Thank you. Secretary Powell was proud to represent President Bush in a trip recently to Khartoum and then to Darfur in an attempt to focus international attention the impending disaster.

Secretary Powell had very strong discussions with the Sudanese government about the need to reign in the Jinjaweed.

We are working with the US Security Council to focus international attention on the situation and we are prepared to continue to deliver humanitarian medicines and foods. We feel we have taken a leadership role with Darfur, we are proud of it and we'll continue with it. That's what's up with that.


Thank you to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage for joining us this afternoon on Ask the White House. And thank you all for your questions.

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