Pakistan Must Take Action on Mumbai Attacks, Rice Says

Secretary of state adds war "seemed the course" on dealing with Saddam Hussein.

Dec. 7, 2008 -- Fresh off her trip to Pakistan and India following the Mumbai terror attacks, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos this morning that she pushed the Pakistani government to find those responsible for the attacks.

"I did say to the Pakistanis that the argument that these are nonstate actors is not acceptable. In fact, nonstate actors acting from your territory is still your responsibility," Rice explained on "This Week," adding that "there may have been support elements -- not of the Pakistani government, but within Pakistan -- that were helping these terrorists."

When asked to comment on reports that Rice asked the Pakistani government to turn over and arrest the former head of the Pakistani intelligence, Rice declined to offer up specifics.

"I don't want to get too detailed about this. This is counterterrorism work. And obviously, I don't want to tip their hand or ours," she said. But she did note that "this is a time when Pakistan must act. They must act in concert with India, with the United States. Great Britain is helping."

"I was absolutely convinced that President [Asif Ali] Zardari, Prime Minister [Yousuf Raza] Gilani, the other officials with whom I spoke, understand that this is also Pakistan's fight, because Pakistan is trying to root out terrorism and terrorists within Pakistan," Rice said. I did feel that there was a good, strong commitment there. But now we have to see follow-through."

When asked if India has the right to take action if arrests are not made, Rice explained, "I said to India that the issue here is an effective response."

"I understand the frustration and the anger in India. In fact, it felt a little bit to me like the United States post-9/11. I certainly understand that. But in this case, there are actions that India could take that could make the situation worse. And we don't need...a crisis in South Asia."

In one of her final interviews, Rice also reflected on the crises she faced over the past eight years. In discussing the decision to go to war in Iraq, Rice declined to say whether she agreed with Karl Rove's comment earlier in the week that "absent weapons of mass destruction, no, I don't think there would have been an invasion [of Iraq]."

"I think that there were a lot of reasons to get rid of Saddam Hussein," Rice said. "Yes, weapons of mass destruction in the hands of this man was a real danger. But he had also invaded his neighbors twice, had tried to destroy Kuwait. He'd drawn us into war three times. He was a murderous tyrant to his own people. And, he sat in the center of the Middle East, this troubled region."

But when asked if she thinks the country would have gone to war with Iraq regardless, despite intelligence failures, Rice explained, "you don't have that luxury. You don't. It's fine to sit and try to play mind games, and to try to recreate... what we might have done here or there. But that's not the world we were living in, in 2003. We were living in a post-9/11 environment, in which it was very clear that you shouldn't let threats multiply and collect without acting against them."

Rice also reacted to President Bush's comment earlier in the week that the intelligence failure in Iraq was his greatest regret. Rice agreed, "it's high on my list because we and the intelligence agencies around the world thought we were dealing with something that turns out to have been a different kind of threat."

But she said the idea that there was "groupthink" in the White House leading up to the war in Iraq is "not true." "The intelligence frankly didn't permit much in the way of alternatives for the weapons of mass destruction," Rice said.

Looking forward, she argued that the greatest threat to the nation continues to be terrorism.

"I still am concerned that everyday, the terrorists plot against us," she said. "We have to be right 100 percent of the time, and they have to be right once. I think it's hard to understand that, if you were in a position of authority on September 11th then every day since has been September 12th, and that undoubtedly an attack on the homeland continues to be the greatest threat."

When asked how much it matters that Osama bin Laden still has not been captured, Rice explained, "everyone wants to see the day that Osama bin Laden is brought to justice. But this is not a one-man organization."

"I think we are more capable at dealing with al-Qaeda, tracking and tracing them, cutting down their financial networks. And, most importantly, we've captured or killed an awful lot of their leadership. That really -- very coherent institution or organization that perpetrated 9/11, I think is really not intact any longer, although they remain very dangerous."

Asked to comment on her successor, Rice said she has spoken with Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and that "she's terrific."

"I have known her for a long time, ever since she brought her freshman daughter to Stanford when I was provost at Sanford. I think she's going to be terrific."

"President-elect Obama has made his choice and he's made a terrific choice. Hillary Clinton is someone of intelligence and she'll do a great job. She also has what's most important to be secretary of state, and that is that you love this country and you represent it from the basic of faith in it's values, and I know that she will do that."

As for what her future holds, Rice said she looks forward to returning to her life at Stanford University.

"I'm going to go back to Hoover at Stanford University, back west of the Mississippi where I belong," Rice said. She said she'll be working on K-12 education issues.

"I really do believe that if we don't prepare our people for the concerns, the jobs of the 21st century, that we're going to turn inward, and we're going to protect, and if the United State turns inward and protects, the whole world will and that'll be a bad thing."