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America Under Attack: Henry Kissinger Discusses Terrorist Attack on the U.S.

Aired September 11, 2001 - 13:55   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We are told President Bush just about to be wheels up from the Barksdale Air Force base in Louisiana, and now let's go back to Aaron Brown in New York.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Judy, thank you. I believe we have former Secretary Henry Kissinger on the phone. The secretary is in Germany today, and he joins us on the phone from there.

Mr. Kissinger, can you hear me OK?

HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes, I can.

BROWN: Just quickly, sir, your reactions to what is unfolding in the United States today?

KISSINGER: Well, it's obviously a shocking event. It was -- I was giving a speech when somebody came in and interrupted the question period to make that announcement, and nobody in the room believed it. They all thought it had to be a mistake.

Well, it's, obviously -- it's an integrated attack and must be dealt with in an integrated way.

BROWN: Well, when you say an integrated attack and dealt with in an integrated way, tell me -- tell me what that means, sir?

KISSINGER: Well, it's obviously -- any organization that can plan such a coordinated attack within a very brief period of time must have substantial resources and must have very capable organizations. And must have a haven where it's planning these things. You can't do that in the back room.

BROWN: And -- and when you talk about an integrated response?

KISSINGER: Well, the integrated response is obviously -- first of all, I want to say, like every American right now, I am behind the president. And this -- the response right now has been exactly what is needed. And the first necessity has to be to go through the tragedy, to help the -- to help the families and to clean up the immediate situation.

And then, the next step will have to be a program to attempt to eradicate the source of this and to bring pressure, and serious pressure, on governments that harbor this kind of an organization, and especially governments where we suspect that these organizations are located.

BROWN: Sir, for a long time, there's been a kind of cat-and- mouse game, and I don't -- I don't make light of this in any sense when I say game -- between the governments that harbor terrorists and our government and other Western governments. It's all changed today, hasn't it? I mean, the stakes have changed enormously, the response likely will change enormously. It's all different, isn't it?

KISSINGER: That's correct. When -- when these terrorists do attack the territory of the United States, it then becomes a question of the functioning of our society. And we have to protect ourselves, and I am sure we will. And I think it -- it's not an isolated attack, it's not just an attack on an embassy, which is bad enough. And it can't be dealt with with one retaliatory blow.

BROWN: It cannot be dealt with with one retaliatory blow?

KISSINGER: No. It has to be a systematic attack. I don't know what that means.

BROWN: I -- I understand...

KISSINGER: I am not sitting here with a great plan. I am saying this is what I would think our government will want to work toward.

BROWN: And would you expect that we, the United States government, will find enormous international support for whatever actions the United States government chooses to take, or will there be those important governments that resist here?

KISSINGER: Well, first thing is we have to protect ourselves. We will, of course, like to get as much support as we can. And we will be able to judge our friends by the degree of support that we get.

But there will be some governments who say we have to understand the conditions that produced this. There will come a time to deal with these circumstances, but the immediate thing is, these organizations have to be put on the run. If they have to spend all of their time trying to survive, they have less time for terrorism.

BROWN: And Mr. Secretary, we heard -- and I am not sure you were able to -- but a few moments ago, Chris Dodd, Senator Dodd of Connecticut, compared this to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Can you give me any historical context for what has taken place today, or are we a bit too close to it all to understand it yet?

KISSINGER: Well, the attack was -- I guess it was -- it was certainly the first attack from across the seas on the territory of the United States, but it was not yet the mainland. And I agree with Senator Dodd, this is comparable to an attack like Pearl Harbor, and we must have the same response. And the people who did it must have the same as the people who attacked Pearl Harbor.

But it isn't just the people who did it, it's the people who make it possible.

BROWN: These are the governments that harbor those that carry out these attacks?

KISSINGER: Harbor, or encourage them with their propaganda.

BROWN: Mr. Secretary, thank you. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who joins us from Germany where he was attending a conference. When he heard the news, he said it was silent, unbelievable, people simplify could not believe what they are hearing.

I think that's a term, a phrase, you will hear a lot over the days and weeks to come, what has happened here in New York and in Washington and in other parts of the country -- unbelievable. A national tragedy -- Judy.

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