|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 11, 2003
Interview of the National Security Advisor by KING-TV, Seattle, Washington
The James S. Brady Briefing Room
November 10, 2003
2:30 P.M. EST
Q Dr. Rice, F-16 and F-15 Fighter Bombers in action over Iraq for the first time since the war ended. We saw pictures here of major ground fire. Have major combat operations resumed in Iraq?
DR. RICE: Major combat operations have not resumed in Iraq by really any stretch of the imagination. What has happened is that there are some elements of the old regime that are making common cause with some foreign fighters in what, I think, could classically be described as insurgency, or insurgency plus terrorism. This is very different than fighting major marching armies of the kind that we were facing in March and April, with an intact, large-scale command and control structure across the country. No, major combat operations have not begun -- have not resumed.
Q Thirty-seven Americans dead since the 1st of November. That sounds relatively major out here in Seattle.
DR. RICE: Well, every death is one to be mourned. And certainly, the loss of the American life is mourned by people here and by the President. The sacrifices of American men and women in uniform are well known throughout history to unfortunately be necessary sometimes for great causes. And we are involved in a great cause in helping to bring to Iraq a stable and prosperous -- and an Iraq that's on a road to democracy, which can be a linchpin for changing the nature of a very, very troubled region -- the Middle East -- which is, after all, the region that is the primary source of most of the terrorism that we face, and certainly, the primary source of the terrorism that we faced on September 11th. So, yes, it' very sad, and the President mourns each loss. But the sacrifices are necessary for the long-term security of this country.
We must stay this course. Our will will not be broken. And we are fighting back. You hear about what happens to American men and women in uniform. But this is a very active strategy, too, of going into these areas, rooting out these remnants. We, on any given day, make many, many arrests. We are killing a number of the enemy. But the key is that the United States and the coalition increasingly has Iraqi partners who are involved in bringing security to Iraq.
And I just want to say one other thing -- I just want to say one other thing, 93 percent of the incidents are in an area of the country around Baghdad, Fallujah, Tikrit -- the long-known-to-be-stronghold-of-Baathism. Most of this country is stable. Most of this country is getting back to normal. We will get a handle on this security situation and resolve the problem.
Q Why haven't we caught Saddam Hussein? And what's being done to catch him?
DR. RICE: Well, Saddam Hussein is a prime target, of course, of the American and coalition forces. And Iraqi intelligence is key to this. He's obviously hiding -- we think moving fairly frequently. But we will catch him because Iraqis will not want to see harbored the man who wreaked so much destruction and terror on them and their families. There is almost no Iraqi who didn't suffer or have family members suffer at the hands of Saddam Hussein's regime. And getting Iraqis involved in intelligence, getting Iraqis involved in policing -- there are now almost 118,000 Iraqis who are involved in security, he will eventually have no place to hide.
Q After the U.S. Chinook helicopter was downed a week or so ago, with heavy loss of life, almost 72 hours passed, before the President emerged to say that he, indeed, mourns every loss. Yet, it was only hours after the Riyadh bombing that the White House told us that the President had telephoned Crown Prince Abdallah with is condolences. Is it administration policy now to distance itself from American casualties in Iraq?
DR. RICE: The President is the commander-in-chief. He cannot distance himself from American casualties. These are the men and women in uniform who he commands. And he feels acutely every loss. He understands that he is asking the American Armed Forces and American families to make great sacrifices. But the fact is that nothing of value has ever been won without sacrifice.
We lost 3,000 lives on one day on September 11th. That's the magnitude of the threat that we face. The President said to the nation just a few days later that we're going to have to go on offense, fight them on their own territory. We cannot fight this as a defensive war. And that's what we're doing.
And, yes, there will be losses because we're on the offense. But if we're not on the offense, terrorism will continue to haunt us well, well, well into the future and for generations to come. And so the sacrifices that are being made today are critical to the future of American security.
Q Dr. Rice, thanks very much for your time.
DR. RICE: Thank you. It's good to be with you.
2:35 P.M. EST END