Transcript of Remarks by Senior Officials With CBS's "Face the Nation"

Sunday, January 17, 2010
Subject 
Interview With USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Lieutenant General P.K. Keen

SCHIEFFER: Good morning again. The pictures continue to shock. The statistics boggle the mind. The latest estimate of the death toll is at a minimum 100,000, but it may eventually be twice that. At least 250,000 have been injured. At least 300,000 people, now, in the capital city are living in the streets.

The rescue efforts go on. The city is relatively calm. But there are increasing incidents of violence and looting as the need for food and water grows.

Our Jeff Glor was in the first wave of correspondents to arrive. Jeff, what is going to be the main problem for officials today?

GLOR: Bob, without question, the biggest problem here today remains not getting the food and supplies in but getting it out into the population. At this point, only a small fraction of the food and supplies that have come in have gotten out. It couldn't have happened in a worse place, only one runway at the airport. The streets are littered with debris. The port is badly damaged here. There really was no infrastructure to begin with.

So they need to get that out. The food is getting here. But it's not getting to the people who desperately need it.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Jeff Glor, thank you so much. Hang around. We want to talk to you some more. Be safe.

And here with us in the studio now, Dr. Rajiv Shah, who is the head of the USAID program, and in Haiti, Lieutenant General P.K. Keen, who is commanding the U.S. military force there.

General, I want to start with you. Just by coincidence, you were in Haiti when this earthquake happened. And you had quite a -- quite scare there. Tell us what happened.

KEEN: Well, sir, I was staying at the ambassador residence, like you said. We were there on a pre-planned visit with about five of my fellow service members. My executive boss and I were in the ambassador residence when the earthquake struck. Three of my personnel were in the Hotel Montana that completely collapsed.

So I can tell you it was devastating. And it was like the Indiana Jones movie where the whole earth shakes. And we ran outside. And his residence really was swaying back and forth. Fortunately, it didn't collapse.

SCHIEFFER: And you had actually been planning to stay at the Hotel Montana but the ambassador asked you and another member of your party to stay with him at the residence. Otherwise you would have been in the hotel yourself.

KEEN: That's correct. And, fortunately, two of my personnel that were seriously injured are back in the states being treated. And we are still searching for one.

SCHIEFFER: How would you assess the situation right now, General?

I'll just ask you first, have you ever seen anything like this?

KEEN: Well, I've been part of various disaster operations in my career, but I've never seen anything so devastating and far-reaching. This is affecting over 3 million people here in the Port-au-Prince area.

I've flown over the area. I've walked through the streets. I've driven through the streets every day. And you cannot go to any part of this city where it's not affected. Obviously, there are some areas that are much more affected by it than others.

But we're going to need the entire world and the international community, to respond. And we're seeing it happen. Every day it gets more, and we're very grateful for the support that we're getting from our nation and all those around the world.

SCHIEFFER: Dr. Shah, what -- what is the biggest problem now that you see?

Because, I mean, we're already we're hearing some people -- although the response is -- some people are saying we should have gotten in there faster.

SHAH: Well, thank you, Bob, and thank you for the opportunity to be here.

Just building on what the general said, you know, this is an unprecedented situation and an unprecedented natural disaster. And commensurate with that, the president, immediately after this happened, had pulled together the whole of government and said that he wanted a swift and aggressive response that was well coordinated and done in partnership with the Haitian government.

So I was in Haiti yesterday with the general, with President Preval of Haiti. They welcomed and thanked the president, President Obama for this partnership.

And, you know, we're doing exactly that. We deployed immediately our disaster assistance response teams. We had -- the first people on the ground were our urban search-and-rescue teams. These are teams of more than 70 people each. We have five in right now. And so we have a few hundred professionals, well equipped with dogs, out there saving people.

And that's been successful. Our teams alone have saved dozens of people, mostly Haitian.

SHAH: They've also coordinated an effort with 27 other countries, almost 30 other teams to help do that.

SCHIEFFER: Let me go back to the general.

General, what is the main problem now? We were told by our correspondents there that it's the bottleneck at the airport. Apparently it's a little better than it was, but it's not so much getting the aid to the airport, it's getting it out into the countryside.

KEEN: Well, we're doing better every day. Yesterday was a very good day. We -- the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division, they delivered over 70,000 bottles of water. And they delivered over 130,000 rations. And that's just what we delivered.

Of course, our partners here, the United Nations forces, were doing the same thing, and the international community and the various organizations. But we need to do more and we need to do it faster. And we're building a capacity, as you noted earlier, to do that.

This is a challenging logistical problem. We have got one airport that only has one runway and one taxi way. We've got the best airmen in the world here who arrived within 24 hours to open this airport so it could run 24 hours a day.

SCHIEFFER: It does appear to be relatively calm, but there do seem to be increasing incidents of violence. How is the law and order situation right now, General?

KEEN: Well, as you note, there are isolated incidents of violence, but I can tell you our paratroopers were out yesterday delivering humanitarian assistance. And everywhere they went, they were warmly welcomed by the Haitian people. They stood in line and were very warmly receiving our paratroopers. I'm very grateful for that aid.

At the same time, we had some isolated incidents. Security is a key component of a humanitarian assistance operation where we need to create a safe and secure environment to ensure we're able to do everything we can. Our United Nations troops who have been here on a mission of security and stability, continue with that mission, but they also have transitioned into humanitarian assistance. So the capacity to provide adequate security will be a challenge.

SCHIEFFER: What is the -- Dr. Shah, what is the main problem at this end now?

SHAH: Well, we're working on multiple issues simultaneously. One is securing commodity flow and getting that into Haiti. The military has been very successful at increasing the through-put by more effective management of the airport. That has been a great first step. We now need to expand alternate routes, including port-sea access. And we're working in partnership with the Department of Defense to make that happen as absolutely as quickly as possible.

The second is we're trying to dramatically expand the in-country distribution network. So we're working with our partners around the world, as the general mentioned, to identify as many major distribution points as we can, get those secure, improve transport to those points, and really dramatically accelerate commodity flow there.

SCHIEFFER: All right. I'm sorry, we have to stop there. But thank you both very much. I'll let you both get back to work.

SHAH: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Yesterday in the Rose Garden, President Obama announced he was appointing former presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush to head up a huge fund-raising effort for the people of Haiti. Afterward we sat down with the two of them in the White House Map Room.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHIEFFER: I think some people will be surprised to see you two sitting here together, but a very good source of mine told me, as a matter of fact, that you all often talked while you were president. Mr. Bush, and that you actually developed a very special relationship. Do you think of yourself now as friends?

BUSH: Yes, I do.

CLINTON: Me too.

SCHIEFFER: And did you talk often?

BUSH: I don't know about often. But I did -- I called him. He didn't call me because he knows how busy a president is. I called him and we chatted on occasion.

CLINTON: I was always pleased when he called me. I tried -- I'd make it a practice never to bother the president. I don't call President Obama, either. I don't think it's -- you know, they have got plenty to do. But I -- we have developed a very honest, good friendship. And we've made our disagreements respectful and we've had a good time doing it.

BUSH: My mother calls me my fourth brother -- calls him my fourth brother.

SCHIEFFER: Is that right?

CLINTON: The black sheep of the family.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHIEFFER: Is this, what we're seeing here today, a culmination of the relationship that you developed during those years?

BUSH: I don't think so. I think it really is two guys that want to help channel compassion in a proper direction and want to help to help the American people deal with the tragedy they've seen on their television screens down there in Haiti.

CLINTON: Yes, the president asked us to help. The Haitians need our help. Americans want to help. And I think we were asked first because people know if they send funds through us -- and that's mostly what they need now and will for the next couple of weeks, we'll see that it's honestly and correctly spent and effectively spent.

And second, he wants us to stay at it over a longer period as I did with the first President Bush in the tsunami, because this is going to be a long-term process.

SCHIEFFER: There has been an overwhelming outpouring of support by the American people for this. But not in every quarter. Rush Limbaugh said, for example, that President Obama might try to use this for political means, to shore up support for himself in the black community. And he said we've already donated to Haiti; they call it the U.S. income tax.

What's your response to that?

CLINTON: Oh, I don't have any. I think we should -- it's not fruitful to get involved in that. The Haitian people are working -- they're in desperate shape.

And before they were in desperate shape, they were on their way to building a modern society, and I was -- I wanted to try to help them. I love the country. But I think every American has been heartbroken by what's happened. And I just think it doesn't do us any good to waste any time in what is, in my opinion, a fruitless and pointless conversation.

SCHIEFFER: What would you say to that, Mr. President?

BUSH: I'd say now is not the time to focus on politics; it's time to focus on helping people. I mean, look, you've got people who are -- children who've lost their parents, people wonder whether they're going to be able to drink water, and there's a great sense of desperation. And so my attention is on trying to help people deal with the desperation.

SCHIEFFER: What do you...

CLINTON: But I think -- let's take a serious point that Mr. Limbaugh was making is that the Americans pay for the government and the military is down there doing their part. But in a disaster of this magnitude, there is no way that the government, which has other responsibilities, as well -- national security and other responsibilities -- you just can't deal with this just with government money. I mean, there are people, they have no place, they have nothing to eat, they have no clean water, they have no access to medical supplies, no matter how bad -- hurt they are, unless someone brings it in and stands it up.

That's what -- that's what all these faith-based groups are doing down there. That's what all these other nongovernmental groups are doing. And we think Americans know that and want to help. And what we want to do is to try to increase the help and also ensure that it goes in the right places.

SCHIEFFER: How do you make sure that it gets there? What -- what lessons do you take away from Katrina that you can apply here...

(CROSSTALK)

BUSH: Well, first of all, there's a great compassion. People are going to want to help. And you've just got to make sure the help is channeled in the right direction.

The immediate crisis is not going to be solved by the fund that we're setting up. The immediate crisis is going to be solved by the United States government, along with other governments, effectively dealing with the food shortage, the information shortage, the water shortage, you know, the security situation. We want to be around to help on the rebuilding aspects of this.

And the lesson I've learned on all the crises or catastrophes during my presidency was people want to help. And that's why when the president asked me to join with Bill to create a mechanism where they could help, I was happy to do so. And, by the way, it happens to be at clintonbushhaitifund.org.

SCHIEFFER: Is there a structure in place -- I would ask both of you -- to -- to ensure that this money gets to the people? I mean, how can people be certain that this money is going to go to the people who need it?

CLINTON: Well, right now -- it's interesting you say, you know, because when the -- when the U.N. system broke down after, you know -- because our headquarters was destroyed there and I was working for the U.N., I set up an emergency fund on my Web site just to stand for them.

Right now, we know who's down there and who's good. And we just -- anybody who gives us money now, we're going to flow it right through there. We know, look, Dr. Paul Farmer's group, they've got medical people down there. You want it to go to medical help, you can give it to them.

CARE is on the ground. They're good. The UNICEF supplies are being delivered. They're reliable. So we don't have any real problems now. What we need now is quick pass-through in the most effective ways. BUSH: Yeah, A lot of my concerns, Bob, is that, during these crises, all of -- all of these kind of fake organizations pop up, and well-meaning people are misled. And I know President Obama's concerned about that, as well. So, you know, we're a safe haven.

The other thing we're going to do is rely upon people who know what they're doing down in Haiti. There will be Haiti-specific expertise that will helping advise how to spend this money.

SCHIEFFER: Can we afford this? Because, as you both say, it's going to take more than charity. It's going to take the U.S. government.

CLINTON: Yes.

SCHIEFFER: And that's going to cost some money.

CLINTON: But it's not...

SCHIEFFER: Can we afford it?

CLINTON: It's not just us, Bob. I mean, you've got people all over the world that are contributing to this. And there will be governments all over the world.

And I've already talked to a lot of these donor nations. And, keep in mind, they pledged a lot of money before this happened. We, in the United States, as we always do, have given a higher percentage than what we pledged. So a lot of these countries have money set aside they can put in here.

I think we can afford it, and I don't think we can afford not to do it.

SCHIEFFER: Mr. President, Mr. President, thank you very much.

And we'll be back in one minute with more from our CBS News team in Haiti.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: We've got together our three correspondents who have been covering this: Byron Pitts, Dr. Jennifer Ashton, and Jeff Glor.

And, Byron, I want to talk to first, because you've been to a lot of bad stuff. You've been to Iraq. You were at Katrina. Have you ever seen anything quite like this one?

PITTS: Bob, not at all, in part because the death and destruction are so concentrated. Port-au-Prince is a city built for 400,000 people, but more than 2 million people live there. And it's not just Port-au-Prince. We were in a town about 15 miles outside of Port-au-Prince closer to the epicenter. A hundred thousand people live there. Eighty-five percent of the buildings were destroyed. There's a 500-year-old Catholic church, gone. The coffin-maker there was told, "Stop making coffins. There are too many bodies. Just wrap them up in towels and blankets and put them in a hole."

SCHIEFFER: It's almost like Katrina without the high ground to go to. There's absolutely no place to go.

Jennifer, you flew in, what, on Friday, I guess. You brought your own nurse with you. You came in with a group of doctors, mainly to just do doctor work and do some reporting on the side. This -- this is extraordinary, what's happening down there.

ASHTON: It really is, Bob. And on day five of this disaster, what we're seeing medically is the dehydration and the crush injuries really heading for a scene of full-blown infection. We're seeing a lot of gangrene in limbs that have been crushed, necessitating almost hourly amputations.

They don't even have enough bodies for the limbs that the doctors need to amputate to save these people's lives. So it is -- and they're still pulling people out of rubble. And every once in a while, there will be a good story, but for the most part, patients in really critical condition.

SCHIEFFER: And, Jeff, this is really your first big story for CBS News, is it not?

GLOR: Well, I was in Iraq, but this is certainly much worse than Iraq at the time when I was there. And, Bob, there's -- there's really a story almost every couple hours when you're out in the streets.

We talked to a woman yesterday, who, when she heard the earthquake happen, she realized her daughter was in a school. She went there. Her daughter was pulled out. This woman held her daughter for five hours before her daughter died in her arms.

This woman now, as we spoke to her, is lying on a bed. She is not physically in pain, but she is so wracked with mental anguish that she cannot move. It is -- it is unforgettable to see some of the stories like this. And as I say, they are all over the place.

SCHIEFFER: I want to go back to Jennifer. What is it like to try to give medical help to people under conditions like this? You're used to working in a hospital. You're used to antiseptics and all of the things that we come to associate with medicine. This is a whole different kind of deal.

ASHTON: Right, Bob. And on the one hand, it's gratifying, because every single person we touch we're really making a big difference for them. But as soon as we step away, we realize that we might have put a clean dressing on an open fracture and a severe wound, but they're not going to be able to get that dressing changed and they're not going to be able to get the surgical care that they really need, that we -- that we really take for granted when you work in a hospital.

So only the doctors and nurses who have had extensive combat medicine experience are ready for this. Otherwise, we're just trying to do the best we can. And it's -- it's very difficult.

SCHIEFFER: How difficult, Byron Pitts, is it to report this story, to get your story out of there? I mean, you've been in some bad places, as we just said, but just the logistics of this are extraordinary.

PITTS: Oh, yeah, Bob. It's been far more difficult than the tsunami in Indonesia, any story I've been. For instance, when we first got here, there were no phone lines. The first night we reported here, it was difficult to do live television. You don't have access to your computer.

PITTS: I did a big piece that will be on "60 Minutes" tonight, a 12-minute piece. And we had to dictate the script over the phone because you don't have the technology that you would normally have, to use computers.

So this is a place -- I mean, Haiti was a place that didn't have much before the earthquake. What little they had was taken away.

SCHIEFFER: What -- I mean, these poor people -- as you say, you're starting at ground zero, below ground zero on this.

The city, although there have been incidents of violence and some looting, it's been remarkably quiet when you consider the fix that these people are in.

PITTS: Oh, yes. The people here, Bob, have a resilient spirit. I was at the general hospital in Port-au-Prince the other night. It's the biggest hospital in this country. And the doctors there were using rusty hacksaws to amputate limbs. You could hear women and children moaning in the darkness.

But at one point -- it was close to midnight -- at one point, a woman started humming and then singing the Haitian national anthem. And then eventually you heard about 300 people, all wounded, singing their national anthem, which talks about pride and struggle.

So if anyone in the world could manage this kind of disaster emotionally, perhaps no one could do it better than the people of Haiti.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask Jennifer and Jeff -- Jennifer, what is the one moment since you've been there that you will always remember?

ASHTON: I think, Bob, it had to be when a 15-year-old was pulled out of a building on the evening that we got here. So it was three days in. And she actually had to have her arm amputated to be pulled out from under a dead body. And about four doctors, three nurses took care of her. And we -- we had to give her our clothing because she had nothing. And those rescuers saved her life. And she's actually going to make it. That probably will stay with me the most.

SCHIEFFER: And Jeff, how about you?

GLOR: Well, I would say, a couple days ago, I spoke to a woman who had three young children, three daughters between the ages of four and nine. Her leg was badly damaged in the quake. She was in her house when this happened. She was cooking a meal for her kids when this happened. She now can't move.

She is responsible for three children, three young girls. When I spoke to them two days after the quake happened, they still had not eaten or drank anything. She said to me that she was convinced at that point that her children would die. Can you imagine what she's going through right now? I asked her when this ends. She said, it ends when God arrives. That's tragic.

SCHIEFFER: Well, I want to thank all of you for the -- for the good work that you're doing. Be safe and keep up the good work. We'll be back with some final thoughts in just a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: Finally today, in a reporter's life, there are stories, some interesting, some not, and then there are moments to remember. This weekend was one of those.

When George Bush and Bill Clinton sat down together and said helping those in Haiti overrode politics, it symbolized that this was one of those times when the country came together.

That seems to happen less often nowadays. In this day of mean and polarized politics, we find no shortage of oneupmanship, pettiness and those seeking partisan advantage. The politicians love it, and they've somehow come to believe it helps them, when, in fact, it is has just the opposite effect.

My evidence of that? Well, there was a time when people wanted their children to grow up to be president. How often have you heard anyone express that wish lately, or even that their child would grow up to have anything to do with politics?

But here is the good news. When Americans have to come together; when we have to put those things aside, we always do, as we did after 9/11.

The reaction to Haiti may have been more remarkable than our response to 9/11 because 9/11, after all, was about us. This past week was about the suffering of others.

Yet with the exception of a few loonies and professionals partisans, Americans opened their hearts and their billfolds, and they did so even though America itself is in the midst of an economic crisis.

So it was good to see Bill Clinton and George Bush sitting together, good to know that, in times past, they drew strength and counsel from each other. That's how Americans want their leaders to act. Too often, they just don't. Back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHIEFFER: And we'll see you right here next week.

Last updated: July 31, 2012

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