|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on CNN "Larry King Live"
Washington, D.C., August 20, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
MR. KING: We begin the program with Madeleine Albright, the United States Secretary of State. We thank you for joining us. Can you give us an update as to -- if the word is correct -- the "success" of these attacks?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, Larry, we're still waiting obviously, to see what the effect has been. There are clearly pictures of the building burning in Sudan, but we do not yet have reports from Afghanistan.
MR. KING: What was the goal? What did you want to accomplish?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The goal -- I think it's important to put this into context. Last week I brought home the bodies of ten brave Americans who had died in our bombing -- in the bombing in Kenya. This week I went to see the places where the bombings had taken place. These are carcasses of buildings. You’ve had some amazing pictures on television but they're nowhere near what it's really like when you're in the buildings and you see bloody hand prints.
MR. KING: There's an example.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: It's just absolutely unbelievable. I grew up so that I am one of the only people you probably know that actually lived during World War II. I was there in London during the Blitz; and as a little girl I would go out in the morning to see what had happened. That's what it looked like in Nairobi.
MR. KING: So that was our -- that drove us to this.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We saw this. These were Americans, innocent Americans and innocent Kenyans and Tanzanians who were blown up by a cowardly terrorist. We were able to put together very good intelligence information that indicated that this was done by this bin Laden group. And bin Laden has a training camp and an organization that operates out of this place in Afghanistan.
MR. KING: Can we be sure that if we killed people, the people we killed were bin Laden people and not the Sudanese or the Afghanistans who are just like the Americans. They've got families.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, the President, who was deeply involved in the planning of this whole thing, was very concerned about collateral damage. And in Afghanistan this was really within an area that is a well-known terrorist training camp, and there were -- the reason that the time was chosen was that we had good intelligence information that there was going to be a gathering of these various terrorist groups at this place. So there, I think, whoever did die was part of this terrorist gang.
In Sudan, we hit a factory that was producing the precursors to the VX nerve agent at night in order to make sure that there were not people there.
MR. KING: When we asked these countries to get rid of this, turn it down, close it down, what do they tell us?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: They basically tell us to mind their own business or that they want to try them or that the people aren't there. We have made many, many efforts both with Sudan and the Taliban in Afghanistan, asking them to turn over these known terrorists; and they did not.
MR. KING: Those, Madame Secretary, who oppose violence as a concept of any kind would say, okay, you do this; now they'll do that -- a plane will blow up somewhere, we'll hit something else, they'll hit something else. At the of a year, they'll be counting more dead people.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I don't think we had a choice, Larry. These people hit us. This was an act of self-defense. They hit American citizens abroad, representatives of the US Government in these embassies -- people that are out there trying to do their best on behalf of America; and they just blew them up. And they blew up hundreds of Kenyans that had nothing to do with it at all. We also think, and we have good information, that there might be other acts; and we are doing everything we can to forestall further action like this.
MR. KING: The information was very, very good?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We believe that it is convincing evidence.
MR. KING: Why has this gentleman, if that's the correct word --
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Wrong word.
MR. KING: From a rich family, scorned by his own family, a black sheep, very wealthy -- why has he been around so long?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think because he has been able to acquire a great deal of money. There are people that are malcontent who believe that this is the answer when it is not the answer. Terror and murder is not a political or religious expression.
MR. KING: Who does he hate?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: He hates the West and he hates America because of what we stand for. We stand for freedom and the rule of law and democracy; and that is what he doesn't believe in. So, he has decided that we are the enemy; and it is because we are a strong and as vibrant as we are that, for whatever his twisted mind believes, he thinks that is wrong.
MR. KING: Any disagreements inside the upper echelon of the White House over this?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Absolutely not.
MR. KING: There was no George Ball who told Johnson, Vietnam is a mistake?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No. I mean, we got early information on this shortly after the bombings. There's really been quite remarkable work done by the intelligence agencies who have been working together, the law enforcement agencies, all of us. The whole national security team met with the President; we've talked with the Vice President. There's absolutely no disagreement about this.
MR. KING: Is there a plan two?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we have to -- I think that if I have to -- to be fair on this whole subject, I think we are in for a long time. You know...
MR. KING: Of things like this?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Of things like this. This is the new -- the war, the battles of the end of this century and the beginning of the next one. This country, when we put our mind to it, whether it was the First World War or the Second World War or the Cold War, we have an enemy. The enemy are the terrorists who do not believe in what we do -- open societies and freedom -- who are out to kill plain innocent people. We have to understand --
MR. KING: It is a war?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: -- that this is a sustained effort.
MR. KING: To your knowledge has this country ever bombed places in a country having nothing against the government in particular? I mean this was strange, right? This was a departure for us. This wasn't an enemy in war. This wasn't Iraq.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: But they are harboring the enemy. They are not only -- they're harboring training camping. It's like people that are harboring those that are going to go out and kill and perform mayhem. That is what happened in Afghanistan. In Sudan, they are there manufacturing nerve gas which could kill us all.
MR. KING: Doesn't the terrorist, since he or she knows what they're going to do tomorrow, have the edge?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No, I think we will always have the edge because we're stronger and smarter and have the weapons to deal with this. But they do -- they will have the edge or they could have the edge if we would not react. That's why I think there are those, as you have said, this will be attack/counter-attack. But what we have to do here is to exert our will and make clear that when the United States is attacked, when our people are taken out, we will stand out unilaterally in self-defense and really let the world know what we believe in.
MR. KING: Finally, Madame Secretary, your response to the charges being made in some quarters including a Senator who will be on tonight that this was politically motivated because of the president's earlier misfortunes?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I can assure you that it was not because this was -- first of all, the bombings were certainly not anything that we thought up. They brought this whole problem to us. They bombed our embassies. We, this time, had some very good intelligence information that this gathering was going to take place on Thursday, August 20, and we would have been crazy not to follow up on it.
MR. KING: So this would have happened if there were never a scandal story at all?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I can assure you that it would have.
MR. KING: Thank you, Madame Secretary.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you.
MR. KING: Take a rest, a couple days.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I know.
[End of Document]
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