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Transcript: Day Two of Rice Testimony

But I know what he expects from me and he expects my most candid advice. He expects me to argue vociferously for that which I believe. He expects the State Department to play a strong and active role, not just in the execution of American foreign policy, but in its generation, in its formulation.

RICE: And that he'll get.

_____Rice Hearings_____
Transcript: Day Two Testimony
Excerpts: Day 1 Testimony
Transcript: Post's Kessler on Rice

I know the men and women of the State Department -- not every single one of them, but I've worked with them, many of them over the last four years and in years past.

And what I'll ask from them is their best in pursuing a course and in recommending a course and then moving forward on a course.

So you don't have to worry, Senator, that I will be a strong voice for what I believe and for what the State Department believes is the best course going forward.

OBAMA: I wish you the best of luck.

RICE: Thank you.

LUGAR: Thank you very much.

Senator Chafee?

CHAFEE: Thank you once again, Mr. Chairman.

I would just like to respond to some of the comments from Senator Coleman.

And I deplore any rhetoric of hate and particularly against the state of Israel.

I do believe the challenge with Iranians is to empower those many, Iranians who believe that we've got to find a way to resolve our differences without bloodshed and that's our challenge.

LUGAR: Thank you, Senator Chafee.

I've been requested by the ranking member for at least one final comment or statement that he will make. And following that, we'll proceed to the business meeting. And we'll excuse you from further activity, Dr. Rice.

Senator Biden?

BIDEN: Dr. Rice, I suspect your press office has been asked by the press as often as I have in the last 24 hours how there could be such a discrepancy in our individual assessment of the trained troops in Iraq.

And I want to just -- "set the record straight" implies that I know I'm right. I don't. So I'm not setting the record straight. I'll give you how I arrived at my numbers and why I think it's important.

BIDEN: It's not about criticizing the administration. It's about what I believe is a recognition on the part of our trainers, our folks in the field, that we made, understandably, the wrong judgment early on as to how to train; that we went for, as I will not mention the general's name but last trip, I think my friend -- I don't want to get him in trouble because maybe he didn't. He said, "We went for quantity, not quality, at the front end, and it hasn't worked," end of quote.

Now, here is what I know to be the facts, as told to me by your administration personnel in charge of training, not by anybody from the outside.

First of all, the claims there is 53,520 trained police. That's what the administration says in the last report. These consist of police who receive a three-week refresher course and new recruits who get an eight-week course.

Parenthetically I'll point out that we talked about lack of automobiles and lack of equipment for the police. At the training center, when I asked whether they received the automobiles, the person in charge of training said, "We have them, but they're not much use. I found out they don't know how to drive." Literally. My word. They don't know how to drive.

So we're teaching them how to start automobiles mainly, paraphrasing, I don't know the exact quote, to get out of the way of an explosion. So that's the quality of the stuff -- people we're sending.

There's a 24-week field training course by U.S. trainers in the manual. It has never begun. Not a single one of these claimed 53,000 cops have gone through that.

They don't even know when they send the police back to -- you should know this, if you don't -- back to Iraq, they have no notion where they go. They have no notion who they've been assigned to. They don't have any idea where they are and no way to follow up.

BIDEN: Instead of the 5,700 international trainers recommended by your administration, your assessment team, in June of '03, it took until this fall, '04, to get 500 -- U.S.-only, nobody else, U.S.-only trainers.

You stated yesterday, Doctor, this is not an environment for, quote, "beat cops," it's an insurgency. Witness Mosul in November, where nearly the entire police force deserted after insurgent attacks.

On September 15th, 2004, the administration claimed it had 32,000 trained police. Notice that they now claiming -- you all are now claiming you've gone from 32,000 to 53,000 -- 20,000 just since September 15th.

In that hearing, the deputy assistant secretary of state, Joe Bowab, who I think will still be there when you get there, who was in charge of overseeing the training program from State's end, I asked him the following question.

Quote: "Do we have 32,000 trained Iraqi cops on the street? Trained. Not cops on the street, but trained Iraqi cops?"

Bowab: "No, sir." Quote: "No, sir."

I won't bother with you the rest of it. I went on to say, "My impression is you don't have one trained Iraqi cop, having gone through all of the training." His answer to that question was, "Yes. We don't."

National guard, 40,063 in the latest report. Training consists of three weeks by the individual and three to four weeks collective training. Training is not standardized, there have not been good results. The report of high absenteeism. Large casualties from insurgents have led to a climate of intimidation. Reports of infiltration by insurgents -- they think infiltration in the Mosul attack of the U.S. base.

Allawi himself dismissed the national guard before the interim assembly, saying it was a concept not understood by Arab societies.

So who's equipped, trained, led and experienced to fight the insurgency? As General Petraeus said -- and he's a first-rate guy, please listen to him -- we have to change, quote, "the operational concept. This is an insurgency, not regular police work." That's Petraeus.

Police commandos, led by General Adnam, I think A-D-N-A-M, a former Iraqi general, with whom I met last time around.

BIDEN: Petraeus introduced us to him in December.

He will eventually have about 1,000 -- he probably has about 600 now -- that's an educated guess -- able to operate independently and collectively on their own intelligence.

But Petraeus has figured out don't send the cops back to their home town. Send the cops you finally do train to another town. Focus on -- what we've been arguing you should do for two years -- focus on training essentially SWAT teams, people relied on, heavy training, heavily armed, send them in. So we're finally doing that. Petraeus is doing that.

But just to put it in perspective, there's about 600 of those folks now. And this General Adnam (ph) is a pretty tough guy. I'm convinced he knows what he's doing, and Petraeus does, too.

Intervention force, latest report: 9,159. All of them don't have the experience to stand up to the insurgency.

Special operation forces, latest report: 674.

Some elements of the army, the latest report pushed the number at 4,159 are trained. That's where I got the number roughly 4,000. That's what were's saying. The latest report puts the number at 4,159 though the mission is supposed to be national defense, not fighting internal battles against fellow Iraqis.

These same outfits refused to fight in Fallujah in April.

This is my staff assessments, and I agree with it.

At the high end, assuming every one of these forces is battle- ready, that would give you about 14,000 forces. But in reality, it's probably no more than a third who are actually battle-ready. Most are rookies and will not take time for them to gain the experience, the skills that are needed unless they're embedded like our reporters are in U.S. forces.

And the delays in the NATO staff colleagues helping, that hasn't helped at all, either.

Now, Peter Khalil, a former director of national security in the CPA. This is the guy who was in charge of training. In the New York Times in December 20 said, "The answer lies with specially trained Iraqi internal security forces separate from the standard military, including mobile counterterrorism, light infantry police battalions and SWAT teams. There are now only a handful of battalions with such training."

BIDEN: Continue to quote, "Unfortunately, the coalition was late off the mark in building up these units and training as long, a minimum of 16 weeks for each man, as compared to the two weeks of boot camp now given to a guardsman."

Continued quote, "Training these special units will take time. The United States should be prepared to shoulder the main burden in Iraq security for the next six to 12 months."

Now, Khalil also did a piece in the New York Times. He's now a visiting fellow of the Center for Middle East Study.

And he says, and I'll end this, "150,000 Iraqis who have so far joined the state security services can do little to stand in the way of our problem. In fact, even if their ranks increased to 500,000, through rushed training, they would be largely ineffective.

"However, a force of 25,000 or so highly trained Iraqi internal police troops operating at the point end of the spear with the remaining bulk of Iraqi forces in supportive role might be able to do the job. That's because counterinsurgency is not about numbers, it's about quality of security force, not the quality. That is the key."

Every single person I have spoken to on the ground in Iraq in my four trips, three since Saddam was found, every hard -- every tough Marine, every single military guy I've spoken to says that, been saying it for two years.

And yet you guys -- I'm not asking people to say, "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, we made a mistake." Forget that.

You all don't do anything except parrot, "We've trained 120,000 forces." So I go home and people ask me the same thing they ask the senator from Illinois: "Why are we still there? 120,000 trained Iraqis. Why are we still there?"

So do me a favor -- as my mother would say, God love you, please do me a favor. Start to tell the whole deal.

And let's agree -- not agree. Let me cite a new definition of trained: If you're able to take the place of a U.S. force. Let's call it that.

And I'd like you to think about and in private tell us later after you're secretary, which I'm going to -- about to vote for you in about five minutes.

BIDEN: Tell us, how many of those folks you think, you think -- and for God's sake, don't listen to Rumsfeld. He doesn't know what in the hell he's talking about on this.

(LAUGHTER)

Thank you very much. You want to comment? I welcome it.

RICE: I only want to say, Senator, that we talked yesterday about the fact that the 120,000 is those trained. I said there are problems with leadership. There are problems with desertion. There are problems with some absenteeism, as well.

And I also said, in response to Senator Obama, that the real test is do they fight when they're put in the field? In some places they've fought well and other places they've not fought well.

BIDEN: What's your overall assessment?

RICE: I think that we have had problems with the training. I'd be the first to say that. That's why General Petraeus says what he says.

And we're working to address those problems. And that's one reason that General Luck is out there is to get an assessment of what we need to do.

Part of it is that the circumstances do keep changing. We thought we were training beat cops. We were training cops who were going to have to face insurgents.

BIDEN: In truth they haven't changed in 19 months.

RICE: Well, that piece of it has changed because the cops were taking a real beating.

But in any case, we are absolutely clear that the key for the administration, the key for America is to get Iraqi forces trained. We understand that. We are working on it.

BIDEN: That translates then we have to keep American forces in large numbers there for at least six months to a year, right?

RICE: Well, Senator, we can -- let's have this discussion later. I will say that I don't know if the standard is...

BIDEN: What do you mean? "I'd rather have it after I'm confirmed?"

RICE: No, no. I don't know what the standard is that they have to be able to one-for-one replace American soldiers. There are some things that they will do better than American soldiers because they know the neighborhood. There are many things that they will not do as well.

And so I think I would not accept as a standard a one-for-one exchange of an Iraqi for an American soldier.

BIDEN: What is your standard? You tell me your standard.

RICE: My standard is that they are able and capable of carrying out the tasks that are required to deal with the insurgency and to begin to root out the insurgency and to work in a counterinsurgency way.

Frankly, they may not do it the way an American soldier would do it.

BIDEN: As long as they do it so we can come home.

LUGAR: Well, thank you very much, Senator Biden.

Dr. Rice, as you can tell, we are, as a committee, concerned about the training, likewise concerned about the economic issues that were raised yesterday as a part of foreign policy, about the budget, about support for your department so that you have the resources that are required to do all of the things that we are requiring as Americans along with you.

We appreciate very much the quality of your answers. We appreciate the quality of the questions that were raised.

And it has been a comprehensive view of American foreign policy at times of stress.

And we congratulate you on the hearing.

I look forward to supporting you. But for the moment, I will recess the hearing, and then in a few moments we will commence a business meeting of the committee.

BIDEN: Thank you very much, Dr. Rice.

RICE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you, Senator Biden.

Thank you, members of the committee.

(RECESS)

LUGAR: Members of the committee, I call the business meeting to order.

LUGAR: The question before the committee is on the nomination of Condoleezza Rice to be secretary of state of the United States of America. Is there a debate or a discussion at this point?

BOXER: Mr. Chairman?

LUGAR: Senator Boxer?

BOXER: Mr. Chairman, first let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for your fairness in these hearings. I know it's difficult and these are difficult times, difficult matters. I think you show patience and you show a spirit of bipartisanship that I think is a model for the rest of us. And I just want you to know I feel that way.

In my mind, there is no doubt that Dr. Rice has the resume and the intelligence and the experience to be secretary of state. And after nine hours of grueling questions and answers, she certainly proved she has endurance for the job.

But I'm very troubled because, although this committee on both sides gave Dr. Rice the opportunity to speak candidly and set the record straight, there were a number of areas where she just didn't do that.

She was given a chance to set the record straight on the nuclear threat which was hyped to the American people and got this country into a war. She failed to admit that she had made any mistake in overstating Saddam's nuclear capabilities, even though, as I put into the record, at least four agencies had told her otherwise.

She was given a chance to set the record straight on terrorism and the effects of the Iraqi war on terror. She actually stated that Al Qaida had lost territory, when, in fact, the record shows that Al Qaida has expanded from operating in 45 countries in 2001 to 60 countries today.

And I think Senator Feingold pressed her on that in terms of Al Qaida's presence in Africa.

BOXER: I pointed out to her a State Department document showing no Al Qaida in Iraq before 9/11. She didn't even address that. And that was a report that was signed by the president of these United States.

She was, on another subject, given a chance to set the record straight on our inconsistent policy toward Central America. Senator Chafee pressed her on that. I pressed her on that. Senator Dodd pressed her on that. And she showed a rigidity in her answer which I found troubling.

She was given the chance to set the record straight on what Iran can do -- this was in answer to Senator Biden -- to avoid a dangerous clash with the United States of America, and she demurred when given this amazing opportunity she had to speak directly to the Iranian leadership.

She was given the opportunity to set the record straight on the number of really trained Iraqi security forces and our exit strategy in Iraq.

Every American wants us, yes, Senator Alexander, to succeed and leave, and yet she would not really even say that this was a troubling issue, when pressed by Senators Biden, Kerry and Obama.

She was given the chance to address the issue of America's past relationship in supporting Saddam Hussein when he was gassing the Iranians. She didn't even pick up that challenge or discuss that in any way to set the record straight.

And I have to say, most troubling to me, she was given the opportunity to set the record straight on her feelings about torture and the United States policy on torture. And here, I have to say, I have grave concerns, because she said to us today that she never objected to the language in the intelligence bill written by Senators Lieberman and McCain, when I have right here her very words that the administration opposes that section which provides legal protection to foreign prisoners.

And I ask unanimous consent to place this into the record.

LUGAR: It will be placed in the record.

BOXER: So a lack of candor in the past is bad enough, and here we have a continuing assault on reality. This is not right.

The fact is she said, "Well, we objected to other sections." Not this section that guaranteed that no prisoner shall be subject to torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment that's prohibited by the Constitution. And yet that's the very section she cites in her letter, Mr. Chairman. So her lack of candor on that issue alone is very troubling to me.

Now, I know there are areas of common ground. I think that Senator Murkowski raised some of those.

I am so happy she's on this committee because we can really work together on issues affecting women and children and families. And I'm thrilled that she's here.

And Dr. Rice was very accepting of the fact that this will be important to her. I'm very glad about that.

And I'm glad she mentioned the Syria Accountability Act, which I authored along with Rick Santorum, which is now the law of the land.

But that aside, these other areas are terribly troubling.

And I'll conclude in this way. This is a terrific committee. I'm so proud to be on it. I think members on both sides are very candid and forthcoming. And I didn't see that replicated by Dr. Rice. And we gave her every opportunity on both sides to do that.

I look at her opening statement, as I said yesterday, to wait to page three -- the bottom of page three, a thousand words into it to mention the word Iraq and a passing reference to tsunami.

I think if someone would, kind of, beam down and knew about what was troubling Americans and they read that, I agree with Senator Biden, it was, sort of "Don't worry, be happy," until this committee got into the hard issues of the day.

So I continue to stand in awe of our founding fathers.

BOXER: I wish there were founding mothers at that time. Give credit where credit is due.

That anyone at a high level like this is, in fact, responsible to the American people.

And I hope, if nothing else, Dr. Rice now gets the difference between her role as the national security adviser, where she wasn't in any way responsible to come before Congress, but went to the American people and sold a war and continues to repeat things that were not so, and her role now where she is responsible to the American people, as well as to the president and to the American people through us.

And so I just hope we have better times ahead.

And I will not be able to support this nomination, even though I know that I'm in quite a minority.

Thank you.

ALLEN: Mr. Chairman?

LUGAR: Senator Allen?

ALLEN: If I may, Mr. Chairman, thank you and Senator Biden for your outstanding leadership of this committee.

I've listened to the senator from California's comments and questions here. And, in fact, when talking about Dr. Rice's opening statement, I thought it was a very powerful opening statement.

And while quibbling as to which page and when into the speech one gets into talking about Iraq, I think this is how we need to look at Dr. Rice in the totality of her character, her experience, her knowledge and capabilities to be our next secretary of state.

One, in reading her statement and listening to it, she first talked about her own background.

All of us are a composition of our life's experiences.

The fact that she grew up in the segregated South, persevered, is part of what I think will help her be an effective secretary of state as we're trying to advance freedom around the world.

She then got into the details.

But the key point in her testimony and all the questions is we want to advance freedom. And I think that should be at a bipartisan goal and aspiration.

And throughout it all, Dr. Rice showed a basic fundamental belief in trusting free people, trying to advance it, put in the institutions of freedom so that there is not corruption in government, how there's religious freedom, how there's freedom of expression, many times talking about the rule of law.

ALLEN: And she faced some tough questions on some tough challenges facing our country presently and in the future.

And there was some bump-and-run defenses and tactics used against her, but she never really got off stride, she kept her poise through these many, many hours of questioning.

And I think when you look at the totality of her record, her experience, her principles, I respectfully ask my colleagues to confirm President Bush's choice to be his secretary of state. I think she will do our country proud. She has shown a great deal of poise, a great deal of intellect.

And I believe that this committee has acted, and every senator has had more than an adequate chance to ask questions, and there are multitudes of questions that one could ask. But through it all, Dr. Rice has never gone off stride. She's the embodiment of the modern- day American dream for all people who have an equal opportunity to compete and succeed regardless of their gender, their race or their religion. That is the meritocracy we have in this country.

And she understands, as does this president, that as other countries, the people in other countries of the world have such opportunities, not only will they have greater opportunity and hope, we also will be more secure.

And I think Dr. Rice will be an outstanding secretary of state for advancing those principles.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

LUGAR: Thank you, Senator Allen.

KERRY: Mr. Chairman?

LUGAR: Yes, Senator Kerry?

KERRY: Mr. Chairman, first of all, thank you very much for your stewardship of these hearings. They have been what my colleagues have called them. I think you've been fair and patient and generous, and I appreciate it, and I think everybody on the committee appreciates it.

And I want to thank you for staying extra time last night.

And I thank Dr. Rice for hanging in there.

The senator from Virginia talks about, sort of, the standard here by which we should make this judgment.

There isn't anybody in the United States of America who doesn't admire Dr. Rice for the journey she's made, for what she represents. And is she qualified for the job? Absolutely. Of course she is absolutely qualified. And the president has a right to make a choice.

But our votes also have to count for something. And it seems to me that if you think about this hearing and what we've heard over the course of the last hours, a majority of this committee bipartisanly has expressed unbelievably serious reservations about policies in one part of the world or another: serious reservations about North Korea, about Iraq, about Iran, about proliferation, about Haiti, about Latin America, and particularly the absence even of policy in some of those places.

So, in my judgment, this is not a question of ratifying a life story as much as it is a judgment that we make about the direction of our nation, the security of our country, and the choices that have been made, the judgments that have been made over the last years.

KERRY: I choose to vote my concerns, not to overlook them. I choose to vote my gut, not custom.

I know what custom says. But the fact is that Dr. Rice is one of the principal architects, implementers and defenders of a series of administration policies and choices that, in my judgment, have not made our country as secure as we ought to be in the aftermath of 9/11 and that have alienated much of the world and certainly much-needed allies in our effort to reduce the cost in lives and dollars to the American people.

I also believe there's been a collateral cost of other initiatives that we might have been able to undertake that would also have advanced the cause of freedom, as well as the security of our nation.

I came to this hearing genuinely open-minded, to see what I would hear, and I regret to say that while we heard words offering, sort of, the convention of this city and of current politics, I didn't see in the testimony an acknowledgement of the need for a fundamental, bipartisan change, for a policy that shows a direction that can build the kind of consensus that our nation needs and that the world needs, nor even a new vision for America's foreign policy that can make us stronger and help us win the war on terror.

On Iraq, on North Korea and on Iran, to name just a few, what I heard was really a policy that predicts more of the same.

Senator Biden is right about those numbers, and the refusal to even acknowledge that to the American people is quite stunning at this point in time. If you can't deal with that kind of reality, you can't really tell the American people what the choices and options really are.

I hope I'm proven wrong, and I hope the course will change, and I hope the administration will recognize the strength of a foreign policy that has bipartisan support.


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