Andrew Card on Fox News Sunday

Following is a transcripted excerpt from Fox News Sunday, April 14, 2002.


Has Secretary Powell spoken to the president?

ANDREW CARD: I don't know that he's spoken to the president. I spoke to the president this morning. I spoke to Richard Boucher, who is traveling with Secretary Powell. I talked to Condi Rice. We've had good communications. It wouldn't surprise me that Secretary Powell has talked to the president. The president's clearly aware of what's going on in the Middle East right now.

SNOW: Not too long ago, the president said of Chairman Arafat, "He never earned my trust because he hasn't performed. But in order to earn my trust, somebody must keep their word, and Chairman Arafat has not kept his word. He said he would fight terror; he hasn't. He needs to speak clearly, in Arabic, to the people of that region to condemn terrorist activities. At the very minimum, he ought to say something." Then he added later, "But Chairman Arafat has failed in his leadership, and he has let the people down."

What has changed?

CARD: Well, he did issue a statement condemning the most recent terrorist act, and he did it with an Arabic statement. And that helped create a climate where Secretary Powell could meet with Chairman Arafat. I suspect they had a very frank and candid conversation.

SNOW: Let me stop you there. "Frank and candid," that usually -- there was some suspicion before the meeting that Colin Powell was going to go in, maybe not deliver an ultimatum, but say, "You've got to deliver something, and that something is an end to the bombings." Is that part of what he said?

CARD: Well, as Secretary Powell said, they had a useful and constructive meeting, and that there will be other meetings that will take place with staff members coming up in the short term. And Secretary Powell will then meet with Prime Minister Sharon.

So, you know, this is a delicate balance, and Secretary Powell has a huge challenge ahead of him, but he is meeting the challenge. And the president created a climate where he is the one that has a vision for peace, and he's invited others to recognize the road to peace.

SNOW: All right. But a key to the president's vision for peace is that people stop strapping explosives around their waist and going into marketplaces and pulling the switch. Did Secretary Powell say to Yasser Arafat, that has to stop?

CARD: Chairman Arafat issued a statement in Arabic that called the terrorist acts that took place wrong. And hopefully we will find that his statement will be followed up with action and it will bring some level of a sense of security to the region.

SNOW: OK, I'm going to try this again because you're not giving me a direct answer.

Chairman Arafat, as you know, has issued such statements before. This time, he didn't -- there was -- wasn't on tape, wasn't televised, it was a paper statement.

CARD: But it was written in Arabic.

SNOW: It was written in Arabic.

CARD: And that is a significant change from many of the statements that have come out in the past.

SNOW: OK, but again, do we believe Chairman Arafat has the power to stop the suicide bombings?

CARD: We hope that he will recognize his leadership responsibilities to bring an end or some sense of calm to the region and, at the same time, start to bring some of the important relief to the people in the Palestinian areas. He's done very little to help in education, very little to help with health care, very little to help with economic development. And leaders have to do that, as well. So clearly, Chairman Arafat has to step up to the responsibilities of being a leader, and we've invited him to do that.

SNOW: So he has not so far done that, in your opinion and the opinion of the president?

CARD: Well, he did issue a statement...

SNOW: OK, other than a statement.

CARD: ... that created a climate that allowed Secretary Powell to have that useful and constructive meeting. And I think the burden is now on Chairman Arafat and the other moderate Arab leaders or the other leaders in the region to help Chairman Arafat live up to his responsibilities as a leader.

SNOW: Let me go at it a different angle. The Israeli defense forces have presented to the administration a series of documents that purport to show Yasser Arafat personally involved in sending payments to the families of suicide bombers and sending weapons and other things to the Al-Aqsa Brigades and so on.

Are those documents, in your opinion and in the opinion of the United States government, authentic?

CARD: Well, we'll take a look at them. We know that Chairman Arafat is the person who is representing the Palestinian Authority today. And he has issued a statement that we think is constructive. We hope that the actions will follow the rhetoric that has been offered. We're giving him a chance to be a leader. He's got to demonstrate that leadership and provide leadership more than just in security, but also in offering hope to the Palestinian people.

SNOW: Fair enough. If he doesn't do that, what?

CARD: Well, that's a hypothetical, and you...

SNOW: Well, no.

CARD: ... know this is not -- this is not the time to talk about hypotheticals. We have a dangerous situation in the Middle East. All parties have a responsibility.

Chairman Arafat has a responsibility, Prime Minister Sharon has a responsibility, and the other Arab leaders in the region have a responsibility. And we're inviting them all to meet their responsibilities. We asked for Prime Minister Sharon to step back. We asked for Chairman Arafat to step up. And we want to see Chairman Arafat now step up to his responsibilities as a leader.

SNOW: All right. And those responsibilities -- I don't -- social programs I get. What is, I think, of primary interest to people in America right now is, what does it mean for him to step up? What is involved in his stepping up, and how would we see evidence of that in the next days and weeks?

CARD: Well, I think it is a constructive step that teams from Chairman Arafat's side and from the administration will get together later on and hopefully create a road map to an improved security provision so that we can get into Tenet and then move to Mitchell, so that we can have a security plan that will lead to a political solution in the region.

The president has called for a Palestinian state. Crown Prince Abdullah from Saudi Arabia has called for a recognition that the state of Israel should exist. So we need to take that constructive development and move forward.

SNOW: True or false: Yasser Arafat has or has not supported terrorism?

CARD: He certainly supported terrorism in the distant past. Right now he has a responsibility to step up and be a leader of the Palestinian people and provide leadership that will improve security and lead to economic opportunities and better health care and better education.

SNOW: OK, I know you're on your talking points, and I'm going to keep pushing you, because there are many in this town who have been saying that the president who had moral clarity in the war against Afghanistan has not shown moral clarity in this case.

I've read you the statements he said about Yasser Arafat. The Karine A -- it seems pretty well established that he was involved in sending 50 tons of weapons toward Gaza, ostensibly for use against Israelis.

So the question a lot of people are asking, and you can help us out here, is whether the president has in fact watered down or turned his back on his principles when it comes to saying, "He's either with us or against us."

CARD: Enough is enough. And he's called for Arafat to step up to his responsibilities and he's called for Prime Minister Sharon to step back from what has been happening in terms of these incursions.

CARD: And let's get to a point where a dialogue can be constructive and they can move toward some type of security arrangement that will allow for a peace process to go forward.

But this battle has been going on for a very, very long time. The president gave his statement about 12 days ago that was so clear, and it delivered a message to all parties -- the Israelis, the Palestinians, and to the Arab leaders in the region. And it's important for them all to understand the president was committed to his vision of peace, and there is a road to get there, provided they have the will to get on that road. And we're helping them find that will.

SNOW: You're helping them find the will. Because a lot of people look at this trip, Colin Powell lands in Morocco, the king says, why are you here? He goes to Egypt and President Mubarak says, you don't belong here, you need to be in Jerusalem. It doesn't sound like our Arab allies have been terribly supportive. We have the Saudi ambassador to Great Britain writing poetry supporting the suicide bombers.

Is that really -- are they stepping up and fulfilling their part of the deal?

CARD: We saw Crown Prince Abdullah from Saudi Arabia step out from the past and suggest that there should be a recognition that the state of Israel should exist, and they should have a normal relationship with the region. That is a constructive step. It was echoed by the other moderate Arab leaders when they met in Beirut, and we think that is a constructive development.

But it's time for President Mubarak, King Abdullah, and Crown Prince Abdullah to help lead the way, so that Chairman Arafat can step up to the responsibilities as a leader and get on the road to a constructive dialogue that will lead eventually to a political settlement.

SNOW: Let me throw you a curve ball. You've talked about Crown Prince Abdullah's plan. Israelis and Palestinians sat down in the final weeks of the Clinton administration in Taba, Egypt, and they worked toward a plan. A lot of people think that plan pretty much mirrors what ultimately will be the final settlement of this whole deal, which is, most of the West Bank goes to the Palestinians, you divide up Israeli and Palestinian areas in East Jerusalem according to ethnic groups, and so on.

Is that a good template for proceeding?

CARD: We think there are several templates out there. Clearly, the first template that people should follow is the Tenet plan, which is a security arrangement that will allow us to have a political dialogue; and then get into the Mitchell plan. The Mitchell plan we think is the best road map to a political settlement.

SNOW: Why not simply say, "Look, we know what it's going to look like, here's the deal"? Crown Prince Abdullah's giving you sort of a basic working agreement. A process gives people a lot of excuses to back out. If you've got a plan in front of them, it's a little more difficult.

CARD: Well, Secretary Powell has just had a useful and constructive meeting with Arafat. It will produce an opportunity for other meetings. We hope that is a step in the right direction.

But clearly, an awful lot of work has to be done. And we look forward to Secretary Powell's continued mission in the Middle East. And then we'll welcome him back in the States to talk about the next steps that should be taken, both diplomatically and politically.

SNOW: Where else will he be going?

CARD: Well, I think that he'll be in the region, and he's got a lot of flexibility in how he's setting his itinerary.

SNOW: Well, we're hearing that he's going to be going to Lebanon and Syria. Is that true?

CARD: I've heard the same things, and Secretary Powell is managing this very difficult diplomatic mission. And after his meetings with Prime Minister Sharon that'll happen in a matter of three or four hours, we should learn more.

SNOW: A lot of people also have said that -- when the president called for withdrawal without delay, he meant it. He said, "I meant what I said."

CARD: He did.

SNOW: Well, there hasn't been significant withdrawal. There's been a withdrawal from a town here and a town there, but also...

CARD: Well, the Israeli defense forces were in over 40 communities. I know that they're now only in a handful. So there has been movement on the part of the Israeli defense forces out of some of the communities that they were in.

And we also know that Chairman Arafat did heed the president's demand and make a call in Arabic, in writing to stop the terrorist acts.

SNOW: So does the president want Israeli forces out of the West Bank by a date certain?

CARD: Well, we won't say a date certain, but he does want to see movement. And we know that it exacerbates the situation to have Israeli defense forces. We recognize that the state of Israel should defend itself, and so we will support the state of Israel defending itself. But clearly, the consequences of action in some of these communities have ramifications far beyond the echo of today.

SNOW: Will Colin Powell leave without a cease-fire?

CARD: I'd like Secretary Powell to conduct the diplomatic responsibilities that he has to conduct...

SNOW: Would the president like to see him leave without a cease- fire?

CARD: We would like to see the parties in the region -- Chairman Arafat, Prime Minister Sharon, Crown Prince Abdullah, King Abdullah, and President Mubarak -- help to find a way that we can get to a climate that will allow for a political discussion that will lead toward a permanent Palestinian state and an Israeli state that is recognized by all in the region.

SNOW: Final question. Do you think that our moderate Arab allies, as you've described them, will be chiefly responsible for putting forward the peace plan?

CARD: Well, Crown Prince Abdullah did take a big step forward, and it was echoed when the Arab world got together in Beirut. And we think that is a constructive momentum to the process that should be recognized by all parties.

SNOW: And would the United States defer to them in putting forward a peace plan?

CARD: We expect to be working with them and helping to develop a political climate where recognition of a Palestinian state and the state of Israel could become a reality.

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

CARD: Thank you, Tony.

SNOW: We're going to take a break. When we return, the Democrats' view of the Bush administration's foreign policy, with Senator Joseph Biden.