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Transcript: Andrew Card on the War on Terror

Following is a transcript from Fox News Sunday, Oct. 28, 2001.

TONY SNOW, HOST, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Now joining us with President Bush's view on the war on terror is White House chief of staff Andrew Card. 

Also here, Brit Hume, Washington managing editor of Fox News. 

Mr. Card, I want to read you a quote. The Mullah Mohammed Omar gave an interview to The Times of India, and he had a couple of things to say about the United States. He said, "We will give the Americans a more bitter lesson than the one we gave the Russians. We have not yet begun the real war against the U.S. because of their technological superiority." 

Has the real war not yet begun? 

ANDREW CARD, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, this is going to be a long process through which we rout terrorism out of the evil places in the world. And the Taliban government has been harboring these terrorists, and we're going to rout the Taliban out because they've been harboring the terrorists. 

This is going to be a long process, so this is not one battle. This will be a series of efforts to make sure that Afghanistan is not a place where terrorists can be harbored. 

SNOW: The president wants to route out the Taliban? 

CARD: Well, they've been harboring the terrorists, and he said that if you harbor the terrorists, you're just as guilty as the terrorists. 

SNOW: A lot of people are complaining at this point because we haven't taken more assertive measures, especially the Northern Alliance, the United Front, whichever you want to call it, saying that we haven't taken out the front lines of the Taliban that are facing off against the Northern Alliance. 

CARD: Well, this war is being fought on several different fronts in Afghanistan, in addition to the different fronts around the world. 

But in the northern part of Afghanistan, we're working up towards the Uzbekistan border; we're working down towards Kabul. And we'll be taking action in the south. 

But this will be a concerted effort working with our alliance partners, some of them the Northern Alliance, sometimes our partners from other countries around the world. 

But this is not going to be a quick and easy solution. This is going to be one where we require patience and persistence, and this president will be persistent. 

BRIT HUME, WASHINGTON MANAGING EDITOR OF FOX NEWS: Mr. Card, can you assure us that the military efforts in the air in particular are in no sense being hindered, delayed, held back at all by diplomatic considerations related to, say, keeping Pakistan happy, related to our coalition partners? 

CARD: Right now our military operations are proceeding as we planned them. We are very sensitive to the movement of food for refugees, for example, and we're coordinating our military operations with those who are moving food into Afghanistan. But we're not holding back at all. 

We're working in concert with the Northern Alliance and the folks on the ground. But this has been a very concerted effort by our military, and they've done an outstanding job. 

HUME: A number of military experts have said that our military are indeed doing a good job, but that the level of these strikes and the power of these strikes is nothing like what it could be, particularly in the fronts around Mazar-i-Sharif, and especially around Kabul, north of Kabul, around Bagram. 

Can you assure us here today that the president believes that we are hitting as hard as we could hit in those areas? 

CARD: We're hitting appropriately for the mission. 

Remember, we're working with ground forces that are not our forces. They're Northern Alliance forces, and we're working in concert with them to make sure that they achieve their objectives. 

But our objective is to rout Al Qaeda out of its hiding places and eliminate terrorism in Afghanistan and around the world, and to make sure the Taliban government is no longer there to be able to harbor terrorists. 

HUME: Well, understood, but what about the Northern Alliance's repeated insistence that the bombing in the areas where it's trying to advance hasn't been heavy enough to allow them to do that? Is the president satisfied that we're hitting as hard as we can? 

CARD: I think we're hitting appropriately, and we are working in concert with these troops that are on the ground. 

Remember, this is a mix between new technologies and the old cavalry. Some of the Northern Alliance fighters, for example, are literally riding on horses and carrying swords and sabers and occasionally a gun. So this is a mix of the old and the new, and we think we're meshing those war-fighting abilities pretty well together. 

HUME: Are we any closer today, sir, than we were when we started defining Usama bin Laden? 

CARD: We are closer today, but... 

HUME: In what sense? 

CARD: We're making progress. We've been advancing on Mazar-i- Sharif up in the northern part of Afghanistan, and we'll be looking at the area around Kabul. We've certainly taken out most of the significant targets in Afghanistan with our superior military force, and we'll be working with the ground forces to make sure that we can route the Taliban out so that we can get to Al Qaeda and Usama bin Laden. 

HUME: But in what sense are we closer to finding bin Laden? 

CARD: Well, we're working every single day. We're working with our intelligence networks, and we're working with our allies, but this is not going to be a quick and easy solution. We're going to have to be in this for a long time. That's why this requires patience. 

SNOW: You mentioned several times routing out the Taliban. Who's going to do that? 

CARD: Well, we'll be working with our allies, allies from the... 

SNOW: With Pakistanis... 

CARD: The Northern Alliance is clearly helping us. The British forces are helping us; and other countries around the world. 

But our objective is to rid the world of terrorism and make sure that terrorists have no place to hide. The Taliban government has been providing a hiding place for the Al Qaeda network, and we're going to rout the Taliban out. 

SNOW: One of the things that we're going to need if we're going to rout them out is people who are going to trust us. 

Now, over the — at the end of last week, Abdul Haq, who was a Pushtun leader, was busy trying to do our bidding, was over there. He was captured and executed after he had called for help from American forces and it did not arrive. Did we mess up? 

CARD: I don't think we did. Clearly, Abdul Haq had entered Afghanistan to meet with some of his allies. He'd been working with the United States. But I don't think that he had all of the communications equipment that he had expected to be able to have with him, and this is an unfortunate consequence of war. But we are in a war. 

SNOW: Why would anybody that we want to come to over to our side and help us out, having seen what happened to Abdul Haq, join us? 

CARD: Because we're on the side of good. And we'll be working together... 

SNOW: They want to be on the side of survive. 

CARD: And we're going to make sure they have a chance to survive. 

But this — the objective of this effort is to get Usama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda network and anyone who harbors them. And this will be a long, slow process. Again, no quick, easy solution. This is not the Gulf War. 

SNOW: Are we going to fight through the winter? 

CARD: We'll fight as long as it takes to get the terrorist networks out of Afghanistan. 

SNOW: Any change in our military operations when Ramadan — at the onset of Ramadan in less than three weeks? 

CARD: Well, we're very sensitive to the calls around the world. But we note that Ramadan has not prevented terrorists to take action in the past. We'll have to do what we have to do to make sure this war is won. 

HUME: On the anthrax threat, does the president believe that all that could be done was done in the case of those postal workers, two of whom died? 

CARD: Well, it's very unfortunate that we've had any deaths as a result of terrorist activities. September 11 created tremendous anxiety in this country. And our hearts and prayers are with the families of the victims. 

We're also very concerned about the victims of the mail threat that has brought anthrax to the United States. But I think our government is working very well. 

The good news about anthrax, if you catch it early, there are medicines that you can take so that you will not get deathly ill. Unfortunately, some people got anthrax before we knew that they had it, and it got on to them pretty bad, and they did die. 

But this government is doing everything it can to make sure that we understand where anthrax is, who put it there and try to make sure people are protected. 

HUME: President has said he doesn't have it. Was he tested or medicated? 

CARD: I wouldn't comment about the security aspects taken at the White House. But... 

HUME: That's not a security aspect, sir. It's a health question. 

CARD: And the president is healthy. 

HUME: Well, can you tell us — why can't you tell us whether he was tested or medicated? I mean, everybody else who was tested or medicated is saying so. 

CARD: The president — I wouldn't go into all of the aspects of what the president has done and not done in terms of his security. But he is — he is a healthy man, and he does not have anthrax. 

SNOW: Do you have a concern that there are still some anthrax- laced letters at large? 

CARD: I don't think we know. And our postal service, the FBI are working very hard to understand all they can. And we're asking people to be very careful. 

We note that there are some 680 million letters a day that move through the postal service. I think that we know generally where these anthrax threats have been. I have no reason to believe that our postal service is in jeopardy of delivering the mail. 

But we are being very sensitive about those places where anthrax has been found. And there may be other letters that are stuck in the system with the — I mean, at the Capitol right over my shoulder or maybe down at the White House. But we are making hard to make sure that any contamination is confined and that we can deal with it. 

SNOW: So there may be some such letters. Do we know whether at this point — because we keep getting different press accounts of whether it is foreign or domestic in its provenance? 

CARD: The one thing I can say, it's not naturally occurring. This anthrax has been milled. It may have additives to it. It is not something that you would find in a normal veterinarian's office where they deal with anthrax more regularly. 

And we don't know the source of this. All of our scientists are working to try to find out what it is. But we've only had two, very, very small samples that we have for analysis. And I just don't think we have all the answers yet. 

HUME: Do you have a suspicion, though, about domestic or foreign source? 

CARD: I do not. I think that it's best to... 

HUME: The president have one? 

CARD: No, he does not. He wants to have the scientists tell us what they think it is. And then we'll go through an analysis to find out what the source is. 

But we're doing all we can on the investigative front, as well as on the scientific front to better understand the nature of this anthrax attack. 

HUME: As a former transportation secretary, you're probably particularly well equipped to answer a question about air travel safety. 

HUME: There's considerable concern now about checked baggage, that it is being fully inspected or not. Is it? 

CARD: Well, I have great confidence in our aviation security. But we're also anxious to have Congress pass a responsible aviation security bill so that we can have higher standards in all of our aviation facilities, and that's something that's important. 

But I have confidence in flying. I'll be flying commercial this week, in fact, myself. 

HUME: So do you believe, then, that checked baggage is being properly and fully screened at airports around the country? 

CARD: I think it's being appropriately screened, and... 

HUME: What does that mean? 

CARD: I think it's being appropriately screened. We're monitoring risks and managing risk and making sure that our airline systems work well, and people should have confidence that they can fly in this country. 

SNOW: That translates to random checks, not checking every bag. 

CARD: Well, I'm — it's appropriately screened. 

SNOW: OK. Well, we gave it a good try, didn't we? 

HUME: We did everything we could. 

SNOW: OK, let's... 

HUME: Andy, you win. 

SNOW: Now, the president said in his radio address yesterday that — you know, he promoted the bill that's in the House of Representatives for doing airline screening. 

Does he feel strongly enough about that that he will veto a bill if Congress comes up with a Senate version that would have all the people doing that as federal employees? 

CARD: He's not looking to veto an airline security bill. He does have confidence that Congress can get a bill together that meets the responsibilities that he thinks are most important: Give the federal government the flexibility to do the best job that it can do for airline security. 

SNOW: But if he does not get that — he's the commander in chief, he's responsible for the safety and security of the American people. If he thinks this is essential and he doesn't get it, what's he going to do? 

CARD: Well, he's going to sign an airline security bill that meets the principles that he wants. He's not looking to delay. We've got to act. We want Congress to act. We want Congress to act responsibly. 

We happen to feel that the bill that's in the House of Representatives is a more responsible bill than the bill that's in the Senate. After all, it builds on the expertise that we learned out of Europe and Israel, and they've been dealing with this problem a lot longer than we have. 

HUME: A newspaper report this morning that the CIA is contemplating targeted efforts against individuals and believes that it can do so legally. Does the president approve of that approach? 

CARD: I'm not going to comment about our CIA activities. I can tell you that we're leaving no stone unturned in seeking out the terrorists and preventing terrorism from striking this country. 

SNOW: How's the president doing? It looks like he's lost weight. 

CARD: He is in great shape. He's a very disciplined man. He gets up very early in the morning. He does his homework. And he works hard during the day. He exercises, and he sleeps well at night. 

So I think what you might be seeing is a redistribution of weight, as he's exercised with a little more vigor these days, because he's anxious to rout out the terrorists. 

SNOW: Has he got a punching bag with anybody's face on it? 

CARD: No, he's a good runner, and he runs hard. And when he comes back from his run, he is charged and ready to go. 

SNOW: All right. Andrew Card, White House chief of staff, thanks for joining us. 

CARD: Thank you, Tony. 

Thank you, Brit. 

HUME: You bet.