Interview
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Monterrey, Mexico
March 26, 2009


QUESTION: Madam Secretary, nice to see you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Great to see you, Greta.

QUESTION: Now, I understand why everything that's going on in Mexico, especially with this drug war, is so important to the people in Mexico and to the people -- the 60 million people you're talking about in the borders of the United States and Mexico. But how do you tell the people -- for instance, your home state of Illinois, or mine, Wisconsin -- that this really matters, that this is important? Why should it matter to them?

SECRETARY CLINTON: For three reasons. First of all, these drug gangs have penetrated to America. Just a few weeks ago, hundreds of associates of these Mexican drug cartels were picked up from Atlanta to Seattle. They were everywhere in America. These are vicious criminals who know that they can make billions of dollars on getting American young people, primarily, addicted to illegal drugs. And so Wisconsin, Illinois, no place is immune from their ruthless effort to try to dominate the drug trade.

Secondly, if we have an unstable, insecure border between the United States and Mexico, we have a lot of resources that will be necessarily shifted down because, you're right, it's 60 million people who live in states along these borders. And we're starting to see kidnappings go up in Phoenix. We're starting to see, you know, murders across the border in towns in Texas.

So we've got to recognize that unless it's stable and peaceful, we're going to spend money. We're going to spend money with more personnel, more technology along our border.

And finally, the more unstable and insecure Mexico is, the more people will leave. And they'll come to every place in America. And what we want to do is try to help the Mexicans defeat these drug cartels, help them stabilize their security, so that they can work with us on, you know, increasing development and economic growth right in Mexico so people will actually be able to avoid migrating. They'll be able to stay right in Mexico and develop themselves.

QUESTION: Well, it almost seems -- and we've only been here a short time -- but a little bit hopeless, when you look at the police force and they tell us, the police chiefs, that they have corruption. And when they talk about corruption, they've got, you know, police officers, you know, on the payroll of these cartels. If you -- if a police officer makes an arrest who's not on the take, a week later, the police officer gets executed on the street. We talked to one police chief who had a 30-year- old SWAT team member, a woman who made an arrest, and a week later, she had 100 bullets into her body, all around her face, dead.

I mean -- I mean, it seems -- it's so lawless.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it is. But we've lived through lawless periods in our own country. I remember going back years when there would be Mafia family feuds that would result in innocent people being killed as they fought it out. I remember very well the efforts we undertook in the '90s to control and decrease crime in our big cities.

So you have to have good policing. And earlier today I was at a state-of-the-art base where the federal police force is getting trained so that they can come and basically both support and supplant local police forces that are not able to do the job.

The military is being very active. They're moving into cities. They're taking them over by force and driving out the drug dealers and the kingpins. So corruption in police is a global phenomenon. It's something every nation, unfortunately, is familiar with. But you've got to get it down. You've got to fight back on it.

So I think that under President Calderon, they have begun to reform their police systems, their judicial systems. They've put the military in the lead on this fight. They're doing what we as Americans have learned in both police work and counterinsurgency work is what you've got to do in order to be effective.

QUESTION: When you were in the United States the other day, you said something about the co-responsibility. It's rubbed some people the wrong way, as though that's a blame. I take it, having known you for years, that what you're sort of doing when you talk about how the money -- the drugs are here in Mexico. The market is in the United States with the money, and then the guns come back across the border, that it wasn't necessarily a blame, but rather to sort of identify the different parameters so we know how to deal with the problem. I mean, is that...

SECRETARY CLINTON: That's exactly right. I mean, I think it's -- it would inaccurate to absolve ourselves of responsibility or to absolve the Mexicans of responsibility. This is a shared responsibility. We share the border. And as you rightly said, the demand for illegal drugs is what keeps these guys in business. And it's a, you know, multi-billion-dollar, $25-plus billion industry.

The guns that are sold in the United States, which are illegal in Mexico, get smuggled and shipped across our border and arm these terrible drug-dealing criminals so that they can outgun these poor police officers along the border and elsewhere in Mexico.

So we've got to help out here. We can't stand by and say: Well, you know, you guys just do the best you can, when we, unfortunately, are the market for drugs, when a lot of the money is laundered in the United States back into the hands of the drug kingpins, and when the weapons have come from our country. So I think recognizing the co-responsibility is just stating the obvious.

QUESTION: Well, the issue with the weapons, some people thought, you know, Is that sort of a -- a sort of a hidden agenda, sort of like a gun control. I tell you one thing, that we looked into it. We talked to some ATF sources. And they're hardly, you know, the liberal wing of the Democratic Party.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: And they desperately need more funding because they have some presence here in Mexico under the agreement, and every time that there is a bust here of huge weapons, they track down where these weapons are from. They go in there with the cooperation of the Mexicans. And the ATF has told us these weapons, these automatic weapons that go right through these -- you know, right through police officers here, are coming from the United States.

SECRETARY CLINTON: There's no doubt about it. And you know, Greta, I remember 15 years ago, the reason the assault weapons ban was passed is because police chiefs in America begged for it. They said, I'm sending my guys out onto the street, they're being outgunned. The criminals, the gang members, they have automatic weapons, military assault rifles. Get them off the street. Give our guys a fighting chance.
And there's no doubt in my mind that the 10 years we had an assault weapons ban in America was one of the tools that helped to drive down the crime rate. And we've been really fortunate. We changed our policing techniques, which we're sharing with the Mexicans. We put in more technology, which we're advising

the Mexicans about. But getting those assault weapons off the streets was really helpful. We also began to better arm our own police.
But if Americans will just think back, those of us old enough to remember, what it was like 15, 20 years ago when our own police were facing those assault weapons, and now, unfortunately, the Mexican police are.

So we have to take our share of the responsibility because they're bought by straw purchasers. They are smuggled across the border. And then they are used to, as you point out, you know, kill a brave policewoman who was doing her job.

QUESTION: And it's the ATF here who told us, We need help. You know, it's not the Mexicans, it's our people here in New Mexico that told us...

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, and the ATF guys are doing everything they can do, but we want to give them some more authority. They need some help tracking down the illegal guns and where they came from. And we've got to give them more authority. If you're the strongest pro-gun person in America, you have to stop and ask yourself, OK, we want those guns in our country. But another country just across our border has different laws. So why should we be the source of their problems?

If we want to have them in our country, fine. That's for us to decide. But the Mexican police and people have decided they don't want them in their country, and we're facilitating by our inability to stop the illegal sale and smuggling of these guns.

QUESTION: And there's breaking news developing here in Mexico tonight. A fugitive deputy U.S. marshal has been found dead in Juarez. The marshal was wanted in the United States for criminal theft of public property, accused of pawning a government shotgun. The man failed to show up for a court date in El Paso, Texas, on March 18. The deputy marshal was reportedly shot in the back of the head and left in a canal. We're going to bring you the latest on this developing story as we get it.
And up next, much more with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The secretary goes "On the Record" about North Korea's latest saber rattling. A North Korean missile test is expected any day now. The secretary tells you the consequences if the launch happens.
Plus, Alaskan governor Sarah Palin unleashing an assault on the media. We have tape of Governor Palin you have not seen before. Governor Palin in her own words. And then Dick Morris goes "On the Record" about the tape.
And you are about to hear a report about this vicious drug war here in Mexico that will make your hair stand on end. No one should have to endure this fear.

QUESTION: Nations (ph) are on edge. The communist country of North Korea is preparing to launch a rocket. Now, North Korea claims it is preparing to launch a satellite into orbit next month for peaceful purposes, but the United States and other nations believe the launch will be used to test technology for a long-range missile.
We continue now with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

QUESTION: Back home, headlines now about North Korea, and so I'm going to try to pry some answers out of you on North Korea. What are we going to do about North Korea?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, you and I were just talking before the cameras started rolling because you're one of the few people I know who's actually been there and who understand that it is a different environment.

You've got to figure out how to convince them to act in what we consider to be the interests of the people of North Korea but also the interests of the rest of the world.

I have been very clear, President Obama has been very clear, we would like to get back to the kind of talks that led to the initial steps in their de-nuclearization. The six-party framework that involves all of the neighbors, each of whom have a stake in what happens in North Korea -- we have offered that. I sent word that we would like to have our special envoy for North Korean policy go to Pyongyang. They didn't want him to come.

So we're working hard. And if they're watching you, I'm sure that since you were there, you made a big impression, went to a karaoke bar in Pyongyang.

(LAUGHTER)

SECRETARY CLINTON: They probably still remember you. If they're watching -- if anybody from North Korea is watching this program with you, Greta...

QUESTION: I do a mean Elvis karaoke.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I bet. You know, we'd love for them to begin to talk about what we can do together to fulfill the framework of the six-party talks.

QUESTION: But we've drawn a line in the sand, saying, If you launch that missile, there will be consequences. But I'm not sure what consequences because they don't have anything at this point. It's not like we can cut anything off. They're already hermetically sealed from the world. I mean, what kind of consequences short of military consequences, I guess?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I don't -- I mean, we're certainly not talking about that. What we are saying is that we believe that a launch would violate the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718. That would in our view, trigger certain actions by the United Nations.

They have sought help for fuel and food. It would be difficult to provide those necessities. So you know, we don't want to get there. I mean, the problem with their missile launch is that these provisions of 1718 don't distinguish between a missile with a satellite and a missile with a warhead. We think it covers any kind of missile launch.

And we would hope that the North Koreans would take a deep breath here, and you know, begin to reconnect and start working with us.

QUESTION: It's nice to see you, Madam Secretary. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Glad to see you, Greta.