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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 24, 2001
Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer
The James S. Brady Briefing Room
1:02 P.M. EDT
MR. FLEISCHER: Good afternoon. I want to give you an update on
President's day. Earlier this morning the President called Thai Prime Minister Thaksin to discuss ways the United States and Thailand can cooperate in the war
He signed an executive order last night, for which he held a ceremony in the Rose Garden today, with Secretary O'Neill and Secretary Powell, in which he froze the financial assets of terrorist organizations linked to the al Qaeda organization, or part of the al Qaeda organization in the United States.
The President also held a meeting of his National Security Council this morning. And, as we speak, he is just concluding a luncheon meeting following his Oval Office meeting with America's good friend, the Canadian Prime Minister.
Immediately following that, the President will have a meeting with the families of passengers and the flight crew of Flight 93, which, as you know, went down in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Later this afternoon, the President will have a meeting of the Domestic Consequences Committee to discuss domestic planning for how to help America recover from this attack.
Two foreign leader visits I want to bring to your attention. The President will welcome Belgium Prime Minister, who also is the President of the European Council, Verhofstadt, on Thursday this week, the 27th. And he will welcome King Abdullah of Jordan to the White House for a working visit on Friday, September 28th.
Finally, let me give you an update on several actions across the Cabinet, designed to help America. Secretary of Education Rod Paige today directed lenders and colleges and universities to provide members of the National Guard relief from their student loan obligations -- these are members of the National Guard who have been called up to active duty service. Lenders will automatically postpone the student loan payments of borrowers during the period of the borrowers' service.
Secretary Paige also announced that the Department of Education is providing $500,000 to Connecticut's Department of Education and providing $250,000 to the District of Columbia's Department of Education, in immediate assistance to help students and faculty and teachers directly impacted by the terrorist attacks.
There will be an announcement made shortly this afternoon by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Martinez, along with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, concerning mortgage payment relief for reservists who are going on active duty status.
The Department of Justice, General Ashcroft and several officials from the Department of Justice will be testifying before the House Judiciary Committee today regarding the legislative proposal to give the government additional tools to combat terrorism. That testimony is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.
And, finally, at the Department of Labor, Secretary Chao has announced today that the Department of Labor will begin an education campaign for employers, as well as National Guard and Reserve units to ensure that civilians called up for active duty are re-employed in their previous jobs after completion of their military service.
And with that, I'm happy to take your questions.
Q Ari, what have we got in terms of the list of organizations and individuals who are being targeted to have their financial assets squeezed? What about the issue of domestic fundraising? How much of a part does the White House believe that may have played in this terrorist network?
MR. FLEISCHER: It's unclear. And I think it's one of the most insidious signs of what these organizations and front groups represent, because there may very well be elements to these groups that help people, that help children, that do work. And they can very well have received money from Americans or from others abroad who thought they were doing good for people who need relief.
But then there's another side to these organizations, and that's why they're listed today as terrorist organizations. They took that money, they diverted portions of that money and used it to finance the war on -- their terrorist actions. That's one of the items that we're up against.
Q Are you aware of any specific incidence of domestic fundraising for the al Qaeda group?
MR. FLEISCHER: You'd have to talk to Treasury for anything involving specific examples. But in terms of these groups -- and that's why they call them fronts, they do raise money from innocent people who give for good reasons, but then unknown to many of those people, they take that money and they use it for insidious purposes, including terrorism.
Q Bin Laden was a known and indicted terrorist when he came to office. And the President in the campaign called terrorism one of the great threats of our times. Why wasn't this done seven months ago?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, if you noticed, what was done today goes beyond anything that was previously done. And there had already been an executive order in place, signed by President Clinton.
What this does is allow the United States government to go well beyond anything that was previously done. And the principal way it does that is by sending a message to foreign banks that they need to take action, and we're going to work with foreign governments so they can take action against anybody who -- any terrorist organizations or front groups that have assets in foreign countries that are beyond the immediate reach of the United States government.
But the signal being sent is if you don't, we are prepared to take action against your financial interests in this country.
Q Why didn't this administration send that signal two or three months ago? Why did it take this tragedy to --
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think, Ron, what you're seeing across the board is, unfortunately, this tragedy has resulted in an increase of security -- domestic, financial, diplomatic, political -- across the board. We were on a peacetime footing. The previous executive order had been in place. But this now goes beyond anything that was previously done.
Q Can I just follow up on that one question? Is it unprecedented, then, for this administration -- has an administration ever before done this, where it says foreign banks, if you do not stop the flow of money going to terrorist organizations we will put sanctions on you, we'll freeze your assets in the U.S.? Was that ever done before?
MR. FLEISCHER: I have no information about any precedence for it, in all the briefings I had, this goes beyond anything that was previously done. I believe it is without precedent.
Q Ari, yesterday Secretary Powell was very precise that he was going to put out a report on what we had on bin Laden that could be reported, and not classified. Today, the President shot him down -- and he's been shot down many, many times by the administration -- you seem to be operating -- he also retreated a question of putting out a report. No, I'm wrong?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, I think that there was just a misinterpretation of the exact words the Secretary used on the Sunday shows. And the Secretary talked about that in a period of time -- I think his word was "soon" -- there would be some type of document that could be made available. As you heard the Secretary say today, he said "as we are able," as it unclassifies.
Q -- much more emphatic yesterday, I thought.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think he said the word "soon," as I was reminded today by a very knowledgeable official at the State Department, that's called "State Department soon." And so it's fully consistent with what the President has been saying and the Secretary said. You know, I mean, look, it shouldn't surprise anybody. As soon as --
Q The American people thought "soon" meant "soon." (Laughter.)
Q Is this a sign, Ari, that --
MR. FLEISCHER: Kelly, let me -- I was getting there, I was answering Helen. Helen, what I was saying is, it shouldn't surprise anybody that as soon as the attack on our country took place, the immediate reaction is the investigations begin. They begin with the intelligence agencies, they begin with domestic agencies, they begin with a regular law enforcement authorities. And they start to collect a whole series of information.
Some of that information is going to end up in the form of grand jury information, which of course is subject to secrecy laws. Others coming from intelligence services is by definition going to be classified, and will be treated as such.
Over the course of time, will there be changes to that, that can lead to some type of declassified document over whatever period of time? That has historically been the pattern, and I think that's what the Secretary was referring to.
Q That's 50 years from now, if you're talking about a State Department white paper.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, again, I'm not aware of anybody who said, white paper, and the Secretary didn't say anything about a white paper yesterday.
Q Is this a sign, though, that allies, particularly Arab and Muslim allies, really want to see the evidence because they're concerned about any potential action in Afghanistan could lead to instability in the region, so they want to be certain that you have the evidence?
MR. FLEISCHER: Actually, in the course of the conversations that the President and the Secretary have been having with foreign leaders, their support has been very strong. And they also have information, they also have knowledge. And I remind you, it's not just the United States that collects information and knows that all roads lead to the al Qaeda organization. Other nations have similar means of collecting information.
Q Ari, it does seem that across the board, on proving that these charitable organizations, non-governmental organizations, banks have links to terror; on proving that bin Laden is behind these acts; on what plans the administration has post whatever movement we make in Afghanistan; the answer is always, that's classified, trust us. Does that really serve the democracy well if all this information on which the government is basing its actions is classified?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think the American people get it. I think they understand that as the nation moves from a peacetime footing to a wartime footing, the government's need to hold certain pieces of information closer is an important need. And I think the American people are accepting and understanding of that. And I think you all will be the judge if you believe the government has gone too far.
But I don't think there's any indications among the public, certainly, that that is the case. And I think it's perfectly understandable, as people hide in Afghanistan today, who know that if they were to start moving, the United States would take action.
The one thing they want more than anything else is, what information do we have that lets us know who they are and where they are and how quick do we get that information. And we are not going to provide that information.
Q Ari, on the issue of Bush seeking power to lift the arms curbs. That's exactly -- these are countries such as, or they could be countries such as Iran, countries that we have formally, before, said that we are going to curb our arms sales. How different is that than what we actually did with the Taliban, because we supported a government that --
MR. FLEISCHER: I think that if you didn't hear the President address that question today in the report that you are citing he indicated is wrong.
Q Ari, back to the list. A lot of former Clinton Treasury people who worked on this somewhat have said that one of the big problems was technology, especially in the Middle East, in terms of their banking system -- it doesn't exist, it's nothing comparable to what we do here. So how do you trace, how do you actually implement what you're trying to do, when transactions are being made almost word of mouth?
MR. FLEISCHER: There is no doubt that in some nations this will be easier, in other nations it will have more hurdles. But what has changed fundamentally in the world, including many of the nations you cited, is the recognition that this is entirely different from anything that anybody has faced before, and that the nations of the world are going to war with terrorism.
And that has led to a much higher level of cooperation, much more interaction between nations. I think you'll have to develop it and watch it over time. The United States is looking for good allies to help in this effort to shut down the financial sources of the terrorists. And the cooperation from nation to nation may be different.
But make no mistake that the world is beginning to turn its sights on it in a way that has never been done before.
Q But there is a fundamental problem in that the countries that are likely to be the most resistant to providing you with the information you want are the very countries where the technology doesn't exist, and it's easy for them to say, we don't know.
MR. FLEISCHER: Perhaps, Campbell. There is also evidence that that's not the place that many of these terrorists like to put their money.
Q -- the Swiss and the Cayman Islands and other governments, places where money is usually -- large amounts of money are usually stashed and they have strict rules about giving out information to law enforcement?
MR. FLEISCHER: As I indicated earlier, we're going to continue to work with all nations around the world and we're going to continue to see what the level of cooperation is with each nation.
But make no mistake, what is so different about the executive order the President signed last night is now the United States is prepared to take action against nations that don't take action themselves.
Q So the U.S. is willing to take action against the Swiss?
MR. FLEISCHER: The United States is prepared to take action against nations that don't help in this cause.
Q How will that process work? For instance, you identify one of these groups and you go to a foreign bank and say, we want you to freeze the assets of this organization. Will the U.S. just attest that this is linked to terrorists? Will they supply some sort of detailed information? How do you avoid -- how do you do that and avoid using sources and methods?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, every case is going to be different. And, again, the President signed this last night, he announced it today in the Rose Garden. I think these are good questions, but you may want to address these to different foreign nations around the world.
I can't be in a position of being the spokesperson for every bank or foreign nation around the world. We'll see what they do to cooperate. But as I indicated earlier, the cooperation around the world has never been better.
Q No, but I was asking you what the administration intends to do, not what they intend to do -- what you intend to do to give them information to convince them? I mean, if someone came to a U.S. bank and said, by the way, lock up this account because we think these guys are terrorists -- you would have to go through some legal procedures, you couldn't just say, oh, the Swiss told --
MR. FLEISCHER: I think the Treasury addressed that this morning. You really -- Treasury is going to be the preeminent authority -- and, of course, with State, also -- in working directly with those nations. So if you want to know what you're doing, what the government is doing with a specific nation -- and as you point out, in accordance with laws -- those will be the most appropriate places to go.
Q On something we talked about this morning. Will the government, will the administration be asking courts for more leeway if challenged by organizations or banks for evidences to why these charitable organizations or banks are suspect or on this list?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, under domestic laws, these laws have been on the books and the President has invoked his authority under the books, as you see in the executive order he signed -- he gave the citations for the laws that were written by the Congress, signed by previous Presidents, allowing the administration at a time of emergency like this to enact these measures.
So, of course, it is always going to be done in accordance with those authorities.
Q But it will also be litigated, undoubtedly, and there have been cases in the past where judges and courts have said, unless you give us the evidence, we're throwing out the case.
MR. FLEISCHER: Now you're into hypotheticals, and that's why I also indicated that the President signed it last night. He announced it today. I think you need to let it unfold.
Q The Treasury -- the response from the Treasury Department to that this morning was, we will act like responsible adults. I think those were the words he used, even. I mean, you're really asking people to trust the government on this. And without being more specific, do you intend to be more specific soon?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think what you need to do is talk to these foreign governments and talk to the foreign banks and get their point of view. I think you are surmising what their point of view may or may not be. And what's happened in the world since September 11th is the levels of international cooperation have never been so good. These nations recognize that they have terrorist threats, as well. They share an interest with us in drying up the assets of those nations that practice terrorism or those organizations that practice terrorism.
And so it's beginning with a fresh cooperation that is unparalleled or unprecedented. That's the context in which this action begins. And we'll see where it goes over time.
Q On the question of evidence, has the United States received information from other countries that have supported America's case against bin Laden?
MR. FLEISCHER: Ed, I think it's a safe bet to say the United States always works collaboratively with its best friends around the world. And when I talked about areas of cooperation that are available, you've heard the President say one of the areas of cooperation will be in intelligence sharing. You can always presume that's the case with our friends.
Q A couple of these trust funds that were outlined in the executive order today are administered through the State Bank of Pakistan. Has Pakistan agreed to freeze the accounts on these -- freeze the money in these accounts?
MR. FLEISCHER: We've reached out to many of the governments, or in the case of Pakistan, talked to Pakistan about this action. And they've been very supportive of what we are doing.
Q Is this going to create any sort of diplomatic briar patch situation with coalition members, since a lot of these banks --
MR. FLEISCHER: No, and that's why I indicated also, it's not just American citizens who may have given money to a cause that they believed in, that turns out to have an insidious dark side, that took their money and diverted it to terrorists. That happens abroad, as well. And many of the people abroad who participated may not have known about the darker side of some of these organizations.
But certainly now is a chance for all nations around the world to stand with us -- and all people around the world to stand with us, as they realize more information, thanks to the information the United States provided this morning.
Q Ari, I just want to make sure I understand the White House position in terms of evidence in general. And I realize you're saying that a lot of governments understand and share information privately. But is there any plan to present public evidence so that the average citizen, not just Americans, but people all over the world can understand the case against bin Laden?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think as Secretary Powell said, there is hope to do that, and to do so in a timely fashion, over some course of time. That's always important in a democracy. In a democracy it's always important to provide the maximum amount of information possible. But I think the American people also understand that there are going to be times when that information cannot immediately be forthcoming. And the American people seem to be accepting of that.
Q But I really am talking even bigger. You're talking about actions in other parts of the world. And certainly you want the support of as many people around the world as possible. I guess it seems as though you're asking everyone to trust you, but without supplying information to show why you should trust -- I mean, to go to a point and then stop.
MR. FLEISCHER: Two points. One, again, many of these nations know what we know. And they are working with us, because they know a lot of the things that we know. There are many conversations that take place between the United States at the state level, at the presidential level, with foreign leaders, that if there were to be a transcript of that conversation, for example, it would be classified, because they discuss secrets. There is a sharing of information. You're presuming that there's no such sharing of information in private. There can be, and there is.
That's not the type of information that can always be publicly shared. And I think the country has an appreciation for that. But you just have to gauge the reaction of nations around the world for themselves. They are working with us, because they believe us. They're working with us because of things they know, and because of the trust they hold in the United States government.
Q Ari, I just want to follow on the Pakistan question. Without getting too much into the fine details of this, one of the groups that's on the list is the Harakat ul-Mujahidin, which provides a lot of the funding for the resistance in Kashmir, the rebels in Kashmir. Do you have a commitment from Pakistan yet to cut off funding -- or if by freezing the assets of that group you would cut off funding to the rebels in Kashmir? Has Pakistan signed on to that idea?
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not in a position to go down the list of each organization and tell you what the international commitment is to take action on each of the 27 groups that were listed today. You may want to refer that to the Pakistani officials.
Q A statement broadcast today, apparently a fax from Osama bin Laden, in which he called on Muslims in Pakistan to, "fight the American crusade." A, does this administration believe the statement is credible, and do you have any reaction to it?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, there have been so many different statements coming out of the Taliban that I think the only statement that the President is looking for is a statement of action. And the words that were issued today by the Taliban are a chilly reminder about how serious and real this is.
The words of attack that they have launched against freedom-loving people, Christians and Jews around the world, is consistent with the statements that Osama bin Laden has made in the past, urging people to rise up and kill Christians and Jews. And it is a chilling reminder of how serious and real this is.
Q Ari, a lot of nations, foreign nations that have weak banking laws also serve to create offshore tax havens for corporations. And the OECD has been going after tax havens for a while; the Bush administration hasn't shown a whole lot of support for that effort. Is today a sign that that might change, that the administration begin supporting the --
MR. FLEISCHER: I think you should not confuse the two issues. One deals with domestic laws and dealing with tax consequences and tax dodgers or tax evasions. This deals with terrorism.
Q Let me try one more. Once more, if I could, on the proof issue, I think the picture that we all have in our minds is of Adlai Stevenson at the United Nations, passing around previously classified photographs of missiles with the understanding that America could, within days, if not hours, be the target of those missiles. What's the difference between then and now, in terms of publicizing information that would point the court of public opinion directly toward those who we think are responsible?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, first of all, you can't compare what's happened in the past with what's happening today with the instant communication age. Don't forget, anything that is said here in this White House today can be broadcast and be watched by terrorists around the world, as it's said. There is a huge difference in terms of the instant transmission of information and the ability, therefore, of people to take advantage of it for wrongful purposes.
But as I indicated, in the democracy, there still remains an always important goal of sharing as much information as possible with the public. And the President, Secretary Powell, Secretary Rumsfeld, all remain committed to that. And I think you will just be the judges over time about whether that balance is struck. And I submit to you it has been struck, and struck well.
Q The differences is, like, the 24-hour news cycle and the availability of communications?
MR. FLEISCHER: And it's also just the means of how information is collected. And every administration makes a different determination about how to protect that means of collection of information.
But, you know, again I remind you, I understand the frustration that journalists feel in this regard. And we're going to continue to do the best as an administration in providing information. But I also remind you that nations of the world are not passing this message on to the United States; the message has been one of cooperation and trust. And the administration will continue to work hard to keep it that way. And every sign points that it's going that way.
Q I think some of the confusion over this was caused by a couple of reports that there was a white paper and some other reports that there was going to be evidence in a couple of days and that it would be put out before you moved militarily and that sort of thing.
I just want to see if I can be clear in my mind. Are you saying there is some specific effort underway now to provide a -- to work up a nonclassified document that can be shared with the public, here and abroad, and other governments, or is it just a general intention to do so?
And on another track, is there some other effort to come up with a classified document just for use by government officials so that everyone knows you're on the same page?
MR. FLEISCHER: Okay. On your first question, I cite Secretary Powell's words today. As the Secretary said in the Rose Garden, as we are able and as it unclassifies, which clearly implies it is a classified document that is not unclassified.
Q Say that again. (Laughter.)
MR. FLEISCHER: It's a classified document that is not unclassified. The Secretary said, as we are able and as it unclassifies -- those are his words and he's right, and that's accurate. So he's indicating then there will be, over time, different issues will be looked at with an eye toward whatever can possibly be publicly shared. But as we speak today, and as the Secretary said, as we are able and as it unclassifies.
Now, of course, right from the beginning, as I indicated in the top of the briefing, as soon as the attack was launched, the investigation began. That investigation, of course, compiles documents, assembles information, and does so in a manner that will reveal how do we know these things, by what sources, by what methods do we know and have received that information. Of course, that's a classified document.
Q The point is, what I'm trying to figure out is, is a group of people somewhere being tasked with coming up with a document that can be scrubbed of classified material so that you can lay out the case? Is that an effort that's now underway? Is that just an intention somewhere down the road?
MR. FLEISCHER: It remains a classified document; a series of classified documents, to be more precise.
Q Ari, do you know if classified documents are being supplied to the grand jury that's looking into this in New York?
MR. FLEISCHER: You need to talk to the Justice Department about anything dealing with grand juries.
Q Is the U.S. analyzing the possibility of supporting the return of King Zahir Shah to Afghanistan and maybe create another government?
MR. FLEISCHER: As Condoleezza Rice said yesterday, the United States will continue to be in contact with numerous parties. And that's the position.
Q Can you confirm he possible landing of two American planes in Uzbekistan as preparedness for the operation over there?
MR. FLEISCHER: No. And to follow on with what I know is a difficult series of questions for the press, where you want these answers, I will not get into any operational details of the missions.
Q Ari, what are the benefits for Rudy Giuliani staying in as Mayor of New York in the midst of this terrorist situation?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's not a matter for the White House, and so there's nothing for me to indicate on that.
Q Has the President talked to him recently about this possible --
MR. FLEISCHER: Not to my knowledge, April; I don't believe he has.
Q Are there any nominations that you have now or are pending that you think are especially urgent for Congress to pass as a result of this -- the terrorist attacks?
MR. FLEISCHER: Interestingly, in the meeting that took place with the congressional leadership on Wednesday, September 12th, the day after the attack, a couple of the nominations were brought to the attention of the Senate. And the Senate immediately took action. U.N. Ambassador Negroponte, for example, the Senate confirmed him, which is -- the President was very grateful to the Senate for taking such swift action.
I'll have to take a careful look at a more detailed list to see if there are any other pending nominations that need to be expedited. I'll take that question and see if I can't get back.
Q I have another follow up, and that's -- the President this morning again said this is the primary focus of his administration, but you clearly want to move ahead on some of your domestic agenda. At this point, you obviously can't do everything. Besides education, what are your main priorities that you really want to see get done this year?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President's domestic agenda has not changed, despite the fact that the nation is increasingly shifting to a war footing to deal with the international crisis that has hit home. It still is terribly important, in the President's opinion, to have public schools that serve our children, to have a patients' bill of rights so patients can continue to get the protections they need in their dealings with HMOs. It's now more important than ever to get energy legislation passed to help protect and promote American energy independence.
It remains important, in the President's opinion, for the faith-based initiative to pass and move forward, because there still are millions of Americans who are in need who can find solutions to their problems through some of these more community- and faith-based solutions.
So the domestic agenda continues, and part and parcel of that, too, is always in the need, both in war and peace, to keep a careful eye on taxpayer dollars.
So while the domestic agenda will certainly not have the prominence it was going to have, it still remains of importance to this President.
Q Ari, on Canada, can you, because it is a -- and because there are separate concerns with regard to Canada, in terms of --
MR. FLEISCHER: Oh, let me -- I'm sorry, I want to back up, because there's one other I should have mentioned, and I did not, and I saw that Ambassador Zoellick addressed this rather forcefully today, and that is trade promotion authority, securing that for the President.
Q Working with Canada, especially in terms of preventing future attacks, terrorists coming in the country through Canada, the discussions today, are they focused at all on the immigration laws on how people are getting in, coming through Canada?
MR. FLEISCHER: Number one, cooperation with Canada on border issues, on immigration issues has always been very, very strong. I would not be surprised -- and the meetings, as I indicated, wrapped up just as I began this briefing, so I'm not in a position to give you any information about it right now. But I would not be surprised if areas of cooperation were discussed between the United States and Canada on border issues. That's common sense.
Q Was the President concerned about how easily some terrorist affiliated individuals can get into Canada and, therefore, from Canada into the United States?
MR. FLEISCHER: John, as I indicated, cooperation with Canada on border issues has been and continues to be very strong.
Q But is that a concern of his?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think it's a reflection more broadly of the fact that we are such an open society. And open societies can be vulnerable. And of course that vulnerability showed up in the attacks against us on September 11th.
Q Does he think Canada should be --
MR. FLEISCHER: No, that's why I began it by saying that the President is satisfied that border cooperation with Canada is strong. Now, in the midst of that strength, are there opportunities to look and see if there are any additional things that can be done? I will never rule out that possibility. And that could be discussed in their meetings. And we'll try to have a read for you.
Q Do you know if he expressed that concern?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, because I'm here with you.
Q No, but has he expressed it prior to this meeting, in other meetings?
MR. FLEISCHER: Not that I'm aware of, particularly.
Q Can you make sure that question is answered in the readout?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, I think what we're going to try to do is get you some type of read on the meetings.
Q Ari, going to the meetings with the families of the victims and the flight crew on the Pennsylvania crash. Number one, is the administration sharing or will it share the transcripts of the cockpit voice recorder with the families? Is the administration planning to make that public? And has there been a determination about who was actually flying the plane when it crashed?
MR. FLEISCHER: Those type of issues I think need to be addressed to the appropriate agencies, particularly in terms of who was flying the plane when it crashed. The cockpit recordings, I don't have any information about whether that will be released.
Q Can you deny reports that it might have been shot down by us?
MR. FLEISCHER: Oh, that's been denied for almost two weeks now. Right from the beginning that question was asked, and right from the beginning Secretary Rumsfeld and the administration said no, it had not been.
Q Getting back to the list of terrorist individuals and organizations, it encompasses people across a wide variety of countries: Egypt, Libya, Palestinian groups, Pakistani. And there is concern in the Arab and Muslim world that the U.S. is out to achieve other objectives, regional objectives, settle old scores, as this war on terrorism proceeds. What do you say to those concerns, and is there any truth to them?
MR. FLEISCHER: Can you tell me specifically who was making those concerns known?
Q I saw some press report in -- you know, it was a Middle Eastern -- it was Palestinian.
MR. FLEISCHER: Was it a government, or was it a person?
Q It was a -- there was concern on the street.
MR. FLEISCHER: Of any identifiable background, or --
Q There is a lot in the American press about trying to get Saddam.
MR. FLEISCHER: I think Terry's question deals with the seizing of assets.
Q It seemed to be a reflection of public opinion, concern that America was flexing its muscles.
MR. FLEISCHER: The message the President has been hearing from foreign governments, including the Arab states, is one of support. They don't want these terrorist organizations operating within their own boarders. And they're aware of the internal threats that these organizations present to them. And as a result of the manner in which the United States is putting together this coalition and leading the world, this provides these nations an opportunity to have meaningful action taken which will result in hopefully more security for these states.
So I anticipate that these states will join with the United States and the international community in helping to dry up the sources of terrorist funding, even within their own borders.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
MR. FLEISCHER: Thank you.
END 1:38 P.M. EDT