Powell Says Iraq Intel 'Was Not Cooked'

Powell: That's certainly not our intention, and it need not be the result. The Kurds want the nation to stay together. But for the last 12 or so years, they have had a degree of independence that they've enjoyed. And that independence has brought them quite a bit of success. And so they are prepared to yield some of the independence and some of the authority they had over the Kurdish region to a central government. But they also want their unique situation and, to some extent, the fact that they have a regional government up there, something that doesn't exist in other parts of the country, they want that to be recognized. And so in the administrative law, this situation was dealt with in a delicate manner. And I'm sure it will be something that'll come up again in the course of the writing of the constitution.

Stephanopoulos: You still seem to be having some difficulty coming up with a plan for which Iraqi entity will take over on June 30.

Powell: Over the next several months, we will work with the Governing Council, Ambassador Bremer, those of us back here. And we hope the U.N. will work with the Governing Council to determine what's best. Right now it consists of 25 individuals. I don't think that's representative enough of the entire country. … There are a variety of models that are being looked at, [including to] make the Governing Council larger. Some people have suggested having something like a loya jirga, as we had in Afghanistan. I don't think there's enough time for that. But we're looking at a variety of models. And ultimately, the only thing that'll work is something that will be satisfactory to the Iraqi people, that will be seen as representative, seen as moving in the right direction. And keep in mind, this will be an interim government — not even a transitional government yet, an interim government — till we can get to a transition government sometime hopefully the beginning of 2005.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Stephanopoulos: Let me turn to the issue of weapons of mass destruction. We haven't had that on the program for several months. Since then, David Kay has come out and said he doesn't expect any weapons to be found. Hans Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector, in his new book, talks about the damage to U.S. credibility by failing to find these weapons. And [Saturday], Sen. Ted Kennedy gave a radio address on the subject:

[begin audio clip]

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.: On no issue has the truth been a greater casualty than the war in Iraq. The administration's credibility gap is vast. There was no immediate threat, no nuclear weapons, no persuasive link to al Qaeda. But we went to war anyway.

[end audio clip]

Stephanopoulos: How do you answer the charge of credibility gap?

Powell: When we presented our case to the American people and to the world, my presentation at the U.N. last February, the presentation that went to Congress earlier in the National Intelligence Estimate, we were presenting to the world the facts as we understood from our intelligence analysis. It was not cooked. It was what the intelligence community believed and had reasons to believe.

Stephanopoulos: But it was wrong.

Powell: Parts of it were not. I mean, most of it, I think, was not wrong. We had a country that had the intention to have such weapons. They had the capability of having such weapons. They had the infrastructure for such weapons—

Stephanopoulos: Yet they had no stockpiles.

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