Transcript: Condoleezza Rice on 'Fox News Sunday'

The following is a transcribed excerpt from 'Fox News Sunday,' June 6, 2004. 

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: For more on the D-Day observances and the death of Ronald Reagan, we're joined now by President Bush's national security advisor, Condoleezza Rice, who is at the American Cemetery at Colleville.

Dr. Rice, welcome on this bittersweet day. Thank you so much for joining us.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: And good morning. Welcome. I am very glad to be here.

WALLACE: Of course, the death of Ronald Reagan has become a part of these D-Day observances. Have you had an opportunity this morning to talk to President Bush about any thoughts, any reminiscences he may have about former President Reagan?

RICE: Yes, we did talk about President Reagan. He was just a figure of towering strength, of course, and someone who spoke so strongly and so clearly about the pressures of liberty, about the responsibilities of liberty and freedom.

He is someone who I think all of us will remember as the person who was willing to go and say that communism in Europe did not have to last forever, and who challenged all of us in the depths of our souls to really live up to the values that we all enjoyed and to try and extend those benefits to others.

He is just a towering figure for our country and for the world.

WALLACE: Did the president have any personal reminiscences about his experiences, his thoughts about Ronald Reagan?

RICE: Well, we were just all talking about the various times that we watched Ronald Reagan speak on behalf of freedom and liberty. Of course the president was with him many times, has been with Mrs. Reagan.

And of course our sympathies and our prayers go out to the Reagan family.

But it was really a chance to reminisce on this special day, commemorating the bravery of the men who landed here at Normandy, to talk about the sacrifices of freedom and to talk about how much Ronald Reagan understood them and how much he rallied the country and the world to live up to the great benefits of freedom and liberty.

WALLACE: Dr. Rice, for all the ceremonies and now the mourning of Ronald Reagan, there is also some important work being done there this weekend. Let me ask you about that.

Has the U.S. reached agreement with the other members of the U.N. Security Council on a new resolution about Iraq?

RICE: Well, we are very close to agreement on a resolution. The president talked with President Chirac last night. I think it's fully understood that we have agreement on most of the major issues. There are some drafting issues, there are some final things that have to be done with the resolution. But I'm quite certain that within a few days we are going to be able to come to conclusion.

And it's a good thing, because the Iraqi people deserve to know that the international community now supports this new government, that the international community is ready to rally around this development, as it tries to bring peace and stability to Iraq, so that Iraq can carry out the next phase in its transition to a better political life. And that is, of course, to hold elections in December or January of this coming year or next year.

WALLACE: Let's discuss, if we can, what we think are two remaining sticking points, and tell me if they still are sticking points. First, the insistence by some other countries that Iraq have some control, perhaps even a veto, over U.S. military operations in Iraq, where does that stand at this point?

RICE: Well, I think we have resolved this with the Iraqi government. There was an exchange of letters yesterday between the Iraqi government, the multinational force, and Secretary Powell answering back on behalf of the American government. And we've come to agreement that there should be a mechanism in which the major policy issues, concerning all kinds of issues concerning Iraqi security, including issues, policy issues on sensitive military operations, that those should be discussed within this framework.

Since there is agreement between the Iraqi government, Iraqi prime minister, and the multinational force represented by the United States, I don't think that this should continue to be a problem at all in the United Nations. We've come to agreement with the Iraqis, and that's what matters.

WALLACE: But there would not be a veto; the Iraqi government would not have a veto over U.S. military operations.

RICE: Well, Chris, we've done this around the world, which is to work in partnership with sovereign governments, fully respecting their sovereignty; fully respecting, too, the fact that the American president of course commands the American forces, even when they are integrated into a multinational command; and of course respecting the fact that the most important thing is that we get the job done of helping the Iraqis to provide security to their population.

So we've never seen this as a problem. I think it's demonstrated that it's not a problem, and that we have an agreement with the Iraqi government on how to proceed.

WALLACE: Dr. Rice, you know, even if France and Germany and Russia go along with this new U.N. resolution, we keep being told that they're not going to send any new forces to join an international coalition in Iraq. Given that, if they're not going to help, why is the U.S. working so hard to get their approval?

RICE: Well, in fact, we do expect other members of the international community to help. The French, of course, are helping in the Security Council resolution. There will come a time when we have to deal with the financial affairs of the Iraqis and debt relief. There will come a time when it will be important for other countries to engage in the reconstruction of Iraq.

But we need the Security Council, the United Nations Security Council, to pass this resolution. France is, of course, a permanent member of the Security Council; Germany is a member of the Security Council.

And we believe that the strongest possible message that could be sent to the Iraqis, and also perhaps to those who are fighting to keep this transfer from happening — that is, the terrorists and the dead- enders who still don't want to see Iraq move forward — the strongest message that could be sent to them is a unified message of the international community, that this government is supported, the multinational forces support it, and Iraq's future is well on its way.


RICE: That's why it's important to have a Security Council resolution. And I have no reason to believe that we're not going to have one really very shortly.

WALLACE: But to be clear, you do not expect the French, the Russians, the Germans to actually put boots on the ground, send troops to Iraq?

RICE: In fact, I think we believe that the notion of large-scale increases in foreign forces is probably not in the cards. And what the Iraqis have emphasized is that there are a number of security tasks that they can do on their own, if they can get the support of the international community for training.

We have, under General Dave Petraeus and a number of other generals, a very strong, unified, integrated military and police training program for the Iraqis.

The key here is that Iraqis are stepping up to deal with their own security. They understand that the coalition liberated Iraq, and both Prime Minister Allawi, and the foreign minister, as well as the president, have been very clear that they appreciate the role that the coalition played in liberating Iraq. In fact, the foreign minister talked about how President Bush and Prime Minister Blair have stayed the course in helping Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

But Iraqis now understand that it is their responsibility to take the next step and secure their democracy. They can do that, if we stay long enough to help them take on their own security tasks.

So I actually think all of the focus on so many more foreign troops is, in fact, misplaced. What we need to do is keep the coalition there to help them fight the insurgents, fight the terrorists, but also help Iraqis to get trained, so that they can take care of their own security needs.

WALLACE: Briefly, Dr. Rice, I want to move to the resignation of George Tenet this week. Does the president plan to name a new chief of intelligence and to call for Senate hearings before the elections?

RICE: Well, the president will have to make this decision. Now, the president was very sorry to see George Tenet go. We all were. We thought we're going to be losing a great friend and colleague who's been a very fine DCI over a lot of troubled years. The country's been through a lot in this period of time, and George Tenet has done a fine job.

I think the president will decide what he intends to do. For now, John McLaughlin, who is a well-respected professional and someone that the president knows well and trusts, I think will do a very fine job of making certain that there is continuity and that there is focus in the war on terror, which is, after all, the most important thing here.

WALLACE: But we keep hearing, Dr. Rice, that administration officials say the president does not want a confirmation battle over a new CIA chief in the heat of a political campaign.

RICE: The one thing I can say is that the president has not made a call. And I think people should stop saying what the president thinks until the president has had a chance to say what he thinks.

WALLACE: So you think there's a possibility that he might name a new CIA chief?

RICE: I think the president will think about this matter. This is just a couple of days since this has happened. The president will think about this matter, and he will get back to all of us.

But the most important thing is that there's a fine professional in John McLaughlin, who has the president's support and confidence, has the support and confidence of his colleagues, and most certainly has the support and confidence of the Central Intelligence Agency, of which he's been a part for a very long time. John McLaughlin is a fine professional. I've worked with him over the last 15 years, all the way back to the time at the end of the Cold War. He's a fine professional; we look forward to working with him.

WALLACE: Finally, Dr. Rice, on a personal level, what are your thoughts about the 60th anniversary of D-Day, to see all the old allies together, to see these veterans for whom this may be their last reunion? What are your thoughts about this day?

RICE: It's been really so touching. I've seen these elderly gentlemen here, some of them in wheelchairs, some of them barely able to stand, but still determined to salute the flag. And I just have an image in my mind of these young men who sat there, about to cross onto these beaches and about to meet enemy fire. I can't even imagine what it was like.

And it just reminds us, and these crosses and Stars of David behind us remind us the price of the sacrifice for freedom. It reminds us that nothing of value is ever won without sacrifice, that liberty has to be defended.

It comes, as you said, at the same time that we've lost Ronald Reagan, one of the great battlers for freedom. I can tell you, Chris, I was a young Soviet specialist when he had the confidence, the nerve really, to say that communism would end up on the ash heap of history. At that time, it seemed pretty unlikely. It must have seemed pretty unlikely that this Normandy landing was actually going to succeed and end up overthrowing Adolf Hitler.

RICE: But when people who are committed to liberty set their minds to it, they can do a lot.

And they just have to be — we have to be dedicated to the cause of liberty and freedom, wherever it has not yet taken hold. We have a responsibility to do everything that we can to make sure that it spreads. Because every time freedom has been on the march, we have been more secure, and whenever freedom is in retreat, we, Americans, are in danger.

WALLACE: That seems like the perfect place to end this conversation. Dr. Rice, thank you so much for joining us today.

RICE: Thank you very much.