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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 9, 2002

Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer
The James S. Brady Briefing Room

      Listen to the Briefing

12:20 P.M. EST

MR. FLEISCHER:  Good afternoon.  The President this morning had his morning briefing with the Central Intelligence Agency, as well as then with

the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Then he convened a meeting of the National Security Council.

Early this afternoon the President will depart for an event here in Washington, at which the President will welcome to the Nation's Capital 3,000 people who are involved in education reform.  Many of these people are state officials who run our schools, superintendents of schools, and others -- teachers -- and the President will discuss the next stage in the importance of reforming education, which is the implementation of the education legislation that he signed into law yesterday.  The federal government has acted and the President wants to be helpful to the states and to local governments and towns to make education reform a reality.

The President will return to the White House and then, in the Oval Office along with officials from the state of Florida, the President will sign an Everglade agreement that reserves water necessary for restoration of Florida's Everglades.  And it's a sign of the strength of the administration's commitment to a federal-state role in the Everglade restoration.

And then this evening the President will participate in a fundraising reception on behalf of his brother, Jeb Bush, the Governor of Florida, and then return to the White House.

I have no further announcements.  I'll be happy to take questions.  Helen.

Q    What is your response to a report, unconfirmed, that the administration was negotiating for a pipeline across Afghanistan and had told the FBI to ease up on any investigation of the al Qaeda and so forth during that period?

MR. FLEISCHER:  It's the first I've heard of this report.  I have not heard anything about that.

Q    It's in a book that's just come out.

MR. FLEISCHER:  What book?

Q    Could you look into it?

MR. FLEISCHER:  I'd be happy to.  This is the first I've heard about it.

Q    Is the administration disappointed that several high-ranking Taliban members were captured and let go, not turned over to the U.S.?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Ron, I'm looking into that report to verify whether it

is true or not.  And as soon as we have something on that, I will try to let you know.  I offer you no confirmation at this time.

Q    Ari, the President hasn't done any fundraisers since September 11th.  This one tonight for his brother -- does this mark a return for him to fundraising, to campaign, or is he just making an exception for his brother?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Well, the President always said that in times of war and in times of peace, our elections are what sets us apart as a free-loving country, and that's what preserves our strength is the fact that we have elections.  This is an election year.  This will be the first event of the election year in which the President participates to help a candidate raise money.  The case tonight obviously is for his brother.  There will be others, and I think you can anticipate as an election year proceeds, the President will work to support candidates who share his views.  That way, his ideas as President and Commander-in-Chief can be carried out into law.

Q    Ari, can I follow on that?  Does he approach it differently, though, in light of September 11th?  Does he sort of  -- will his remarks sort of be different?  Is the approach sort of using the bully pulpit to help other candidates differently in light of --

MR. FLEISCHER:  Well, you will be there tonight, so you will be able to gauge his remarks for yourselves.  You will hear what he says.  I can simply share with you that, when I heard yesterday when he was with New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts Republicans, for example, what the President told them is something that you all have heard before.  The President talked about the great strength of our country, how we've all come together to fight and win a war, and that's really a lot of what the President talked about.

So you will hear for yourself what the President's message is, and I think what you hear at this event will be really no different from what you've heard at other events.

Q    Right, what we'll hear, but in terms of talking with him and talking with his advisors, do you also approach the President's role in the

political year a little differently in light of the war on terror going on, and in light of the attacks four months ago?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Well, he remains our nation's Commander-in- Chief; he remains our nation's President; and he remains a President who has an agenda both on the foreign front and the domestic front that depends on having like-minded people in office who can help carry out that agenda.  And so, therefore, in this election year, the President will help candidates who believe in the things that he believes in and help fellow Republicans get elected to office.

Q    Ari, what's the legal status of the prisoners who are being transferred from the Afghanistan theater to Guantanamo Naval Base?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Their status is being reviewed by the lawyers to determine exactly what treatment they will receive.  In all cases, the treatment they will receive will be humane and fair.  They will be provided

with food and appropriate medical care.  And I think it's safe to say that

no matter where they are, Guantanamo or anywhere else, their conditions will be much better than the conditions under which they existed when they lived in Afghanistan.  But these people are people who are being detained for waging a war against our country.

Q    Are they prisoners of war?

MR. FLEISCHER:  That's a legal term, prisoner of war, and under the Geneva Convention, a prisoner of war is somebody who actually wears a military uniform, for example, carries a weapon outside.  That's a legal definition, and each individual has a different case to determine whether they meet that criteria.

Q    One more.  By what authority, then, by what international authority is the United States shipping these people from their home country to Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba?  Just the fact that we have them in our control and consider them dangerous and want to move them across the


MR. FLEISCHER:  Many of them are being treated as either detainees that are unlawful combatants, and they are in custody of the United States military -- and, appropriately, properly so.

Q    How close are you to deciding the fate of John Walker?  And will he be among those sent to Guantanamo?

MR. FLEISCHER:  I don't have information specifically about him going to Guantanamo, so I suspect not.  But no indication yet on the timing about

either Mr. Walker or any of the legal proceedings that may or not take place for any other detainees.

Q    What is the status of the review?

MR. FLEISCHER:  It is currently under review by the National Security Council.  They are talking with, of course, as NSC always does to coordinate, the Department of Defense, Department of Justice and anybody else about what the exact status should be.

Q    Under the Geneva Convention and other conventions we've signed, there's no such thing as a detainee -- either they're prisoners of war -- and even though they may not, some of them may not have had the insignia, I

mean, by all legal understandings, they are prisoners of war.

MR. FLEISCHER:  Terry asked a very specific and legal question.  And prisoner of war, under the Geneva Convention has a strict legal definition attached as to who is and who is not a prisoner of war.  And that is going to be a case-by-case determination of each and every one of these individuals to see if they qualify under the Geneva Convention as prisoners

of war.

Q    But you do feel that you can keep them in custody, whether you determine the --

MR. FLEISCHER:  If the alternative is to let them roam Afghanistan free again to commit more crimes and to engage in war, that's clearly not an option that anybody is going to pursue.

Q    So it is, then, based on that answer, it is a function of their dangerousness and the American interest in its own self-defense?

MR. FLEISCHER:  The reason they were being detained is because they were engaged in a war against America's Armed Forces.  The question separately is, are they prisoner of war, under the Geneva Convention, which

is a strict legal definition, and it's safe to say that strict legal definitions will be honored.  But it's a case-by-case decision, as you know, to determine each individual's status.

Q    But it sounds like their detention is based on our fundamental national interest and protecting ourselves.

MR. FLEISCHER:  Their detention is because they need to be detained so

they do not carry out acts of aggression in a war against the United States.

Q    There's no international convention or there's no law on which we're detaining them, it's basically, they're dangerous, they want to kill Americans, and we're going to keep them in detention.

MR. FLEISCHER:  Keith, put it this way:  There's a war in Afghanistan.

These people did not stop fighting; it was either be killed or be captured.  These people were captured.

Q    A great deal has been said, Ari, both at the State Department and

in Israel on this intercepted ship.  But what does the White House believe?  Does the White House believe that Palestinian Authority was the recipient of these arms?  And if so, how does that affect any sort of peace

negotiations with the PA?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Well, in the Middle East, after at least a few weeks of progress and relative quiet, there was, unfortunately, another terrorist

attack on Israel last night.  And the President condemns the attack by the

terrorist group Hamas that killed four Israeli soldiers today.  It's particularly disturbing because it came at a time when the situation on the

ground had been relatively quiet, and the United States has been working intensely, including through General Zinni and his mission in the Middle East, to help the parties achieve a durable peace.

This attack is also -- that took place on the Israeli soldiers -- a direct attack on the authority of Chairman Arafat.  And the President believes it continues to be incumbent on Chairman Arafat to take immediate steps to arrest the terrorist leaders and to dismantle the terrorist network that is present in the region.

Q    But, Ari, you didn't answer the question.

MR. FLEISCHER:  On the ship?

Q    What about the arms shipped?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Well, on the ship, we are reviewing the facts about it.  Clearly, the weapons were intended to be received by the Palestinians,

and that is another reason why the President feels as strongly as he does that in the wake of that troubling report, that it's more important than ever for Chairman Arafat to demonstrate that he is a man of peace and not a

man of war.

Q    But the weapons were intended for the Palestinians or the Palestinian Authority?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Those are all questions that are being reviewed.

Q    Ari, I want to ask you, in the first place, is Zacharias Moussaoui is soon to hear whether he will get his wish in having his trial televised, as he is requesting?  And, second, why in this particular case, when he's met all the ground rules for being tried by military tribunal, why did the President go  for a civilian trial?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Well, on the question of whether Mr. Moussaoui should have been tried in civil court or in military court, that's a matter that the President discussed at great length more than a month ago, I believe.  It was more than a month ago, and the President indicated that he met with the Attorney General, the Attorney General laid out the reasons why he thought it should proceed in civil court.

The President listened, the President asked several questions to determine whether any information that could be shared in this trial would in any way endanger the security of the United States, the ability of the United States to wage and win a war. and the President was satisfied that there would be no such inappropriate release of information.  And, therefore, the President saw no reason to change the current system and put

this case into a military tribunal and so it proceeds.

Q    And how about the fact that he's asking for this trial to be televised?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Yes, that's a matter that the White House does not -- that's a Justice Department issue, and you need to talk to Justice.  They have their own rules about federal cases and televising trials.  It's not a

new issue, the Department of Justice has a consistent policy and standard they put in place that they've used for a number of years dealing with that.

Q    But does the President have an opinion?

MR. FLEISCHER:  I've not talked to him about it, but I think the President would tell you that that's a matter for the Department of Justice

to bring their impartial analysis to, to determine whether or not that serves justice.

Q    Ari, so far the President has agreed to raise money for GOP candidates.  But is he willing this year to campaign against Democrats and,

if so, is there any fear that that could upset a very, you know, delicate balance on several issues, both domestic and the war?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Well, the fact of the matter is that in the 200-some year history of our country, our nation has been very well-served by a process that involves Presidents working together and well with the Congress; the Congress working together and well with the President; and at

the same time, respecting the fact that we have differences and settling those differences through peaceful elections.  And I don't think it should surprise anybody that when it comes to those elections, the President will support candidates who will help him to pass his agenda, so that he can continue to work with the Congress.

Q    When you say support, is that actively campaign?  Is he willing to go out into states and actually go on the campaign trail, possibly even attack Democratic candidates that have been a nemesis to his agenda?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Oh, I think there's -- when you take a look at the President, you'll see somebody who cares very deeply about an agenda, about

a close Congress and the difference that it can make involving having people who support things that he believes in, in the Congress.  And so he will go out and campaign and work for people who believe in the same issues

that he does.  And it is an election year, so, again, I don't believe that

is any surprise.

Q    Does that mean he'll campaign for the 34 Democrats who voted for his tax cut?

MR. FLEISCHER:  How many did you say?

Q    Thirty-four.

MR. FLEISCHER:  Thirty-four.

Q    Twenty-eight in the House and six up for election in the Senate.

MR. FLEISCHER:  I think it was 12 in the Senate and --

Q    Yes, but only six are up for election.

MR. FLEISCHER:  Well, I have not heard anything about that.  I think the President will always support people who will cut taxes, particularly Republicans who cut taxes.  Sometimes it's easier to get their vote.

Q    Could I ask you about whether or not the administration is planning to drop a program to develop high-mileage gasoline engines in favor of hydrogen-based fuel cells or other kinds of technology?

MR. FLEISCHER:  The Department of Energy is making an announcement today concerning this program, and this is a program in which the Department of Energy wants to make certain the United States can have the most fuel-efficient vehicles possible and they're pursuing an exciting new technology that involves the use of hydrogen in fuel cells that would replace the need to have engines that are run on gasoline.  And this is, as

I mentioned, an exciting new technology that the Department of Energy is launching a new effort on today.

Q    Can you give us a sense of how big a program it is and how much support it will get?

MR. FLEISCHER:  I'm going to refer you to the specifics that Energy is

releasing today.  I do not have many of those with me.  And this is, again, a program that is going to be done in collaboration with private industry and the Department of Energy because of the hope they believe it brings to automobiles.

Q    But you are contemplating -- the administration will support a program that contemplates the end of the gasoline engine and the use of new

technologies that would not be based on petroleum?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Well, this new initiative that the Department of Energy is launching is exciting not only because it can replace gasoline as

a way to power vehicles, making America more energy-independent, but it's pollution-free.  And so there are many different possibilities, but much of

this is based on science, on technology, and they will pursue it.

Q    Ari, that technology is probably 10 to 20 years away from widespread application.  What do you do in the meantime to increase fuel efficiency occurring in internal combustion vehicles, and what about CAFE standards?  Are you planning on increasing those this year?

MR. FLEISCHER:  As a result of the transportation legislation that Congress passed last year and that the President is about to sign into law,

the President requested that Congress lift the ban which had been imposed that would prevent the administration from even looking at the possibility of increasing CAFE standards.

Now that the President will have the opportunity to look at increasing

CAFE standards, the administration will proceed to explore that option.  That was something that came out of the energy review of the Vice President's.  But the administration was prohibited from even looking at it

as a result of a congressional ban.  That ban will now be lifted, so we can look at it.

Q    Do you plan to raise CAFE standards this year?  And by how much?

MR. FLEISCHER:  I think you have to allow the ban to be lifted so they

can look at it before you have a determination on it.

Q    Do you have a target?

MR. FLEISCHER:  You need to let them study it.

Q    Speaking of energy, is the White House going to give Congressman Waxman the information that he's requested on the Enron case?

MR. FLEISCHER:  The Vice President's Office received a new letter from

Mr. Waxman yesterday, and that letter is under review.

Q    But are they going to give them any more information?

MR. FLEISCHER:  It's under review.  He just got the letter yesterday.

Q    Ari, can I follow on that, though?  Can the administration say categorically that no one in the White House ever discussed Enron's financial situation with the company?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Kelly, I'm not aware of anybody in the White House who

discussed Enron's financial situation.

Q    Ari, I wanted to ask you a question about the President's speech in Portland on Saturday.  There was one moment in the speech -- he may have

been speaking off the cuff -- where he said that the administration would move against anybody who espouses a terrorist philosophy, or is of a terrorist bent.  It seemed to be something of an expansion of acting against people who have actually been involved in or developing a conspiracy to be involved in terrorism.  I was wondering whether the President misspoke or whether the President, in fact, is expanding the definition.

MR. FLEISCHER:  Well, the President has made it very clear around the world that the reason he feels so strongly about fighting this war against terrorism on multiple fronts -- financial, diplomatic, political, as well as military -- is because terror is a process that involves the murder of innocents in order to achieve a political goal.  And, therefore, terror presents a threat around the globe to solving problems, because problems, in the President's opinion, need to be resolved around the world through political dialogue and not through killing of innocents to resolve political problems.

So the President is putting people on notice, as he has done in the past, about the seriousness with which he will approach the war against terrorism.  And I think people who are involved in terrorism around the world, nations that are involved in terrorism around the world, will have to figure out for themselves exactly what the President means.

Q    Ari, I'm not sure it was fully responsive to my question, because

there's a fairly well-established set of case law that you're familiar with about the difference between merely espousing sympathy with, say, a terrorist objective, and actually moving in that direction.  I'm trying to figure out whether the President is trying here to move the nature of definition of what the United States --

MR. FLEISCHER:  Let me put it this way.  The President will spell out,

himself, if there's an appropriate time, if any other actions are taken, so everybody will know the reasons of any actions being taken.  But up until that moment, it's just fair to say that people who would practice terrorism around the world have to figure out how much longer they want to practice it, given the President's intentions and --

Q    He was talking domestically --

MR. FLEISCHER:  But he understands that others listen, as well.

Q    Ari, could I try one more on the fundraiser?  Is tonight's fundraiser mark a return to politics as usual?

MR. FLEISCHER:  You know, I just think it's self-evident.  This is an election year and the President will support people who share his views and

can help him in office to accomplish the fulfillment of his agenda.

Q    He doesn't see that there's still a different light to partisan politics in the aftermath --

MR. FLEISCHER:  I think different people practice their politics differently.  And I think that one of the changes that President Bush has brought to Washington, regardless of whether we are a nation at war or not at war, is a more toned-down approach to politics.  I don't think politics is practiced with the same acidity that it had been over the last many years in Washington.

And that's a reflection in both directions:  Republicans practiced it toward the Clinton administration, the Clinton administration practiced it toward the Republicans.  The President made it a promise to try to change the tone in Washington, and you can't change the tone in just government and not in politics.  He's trying to change it in all things.  But that doesn't mean the President would stop supporting people in elections that are the hallmark of a democracy, who believe in what he believes in.  He'll, of course, continue to engage.

You'll read his tone, you'll read his message for yourselves; you'll be there tonight, you'll hear what he says.  And I think you can decide if this is politics as normal or if it's something different.

Q    Ari, anything on the KC-130 crash in Afghanistan?

MR. FLEISCHER:  I can confirm that there has been a plane crash in Pakistan involving a KC-130.  The Department of Defense is investigating all information pertaining to it and the President has been informed about it.

Q    Can you tell us whether or not we know if there is a loss of life?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Again, the Department of Defense is going to be -- have more on the ground information.  I can confirm that there has been a crash.

Q    -- know anything about the cause?

MR. FLEISCHER:  No, I cannot.

Q    Can you say what it was carrying?  Was it carrying aid, arms?

MR. FLEISCHER:  You need to check with the Department of Defense.

Let me move to people who haven't had one.

Q    The beneficiary of tonight's fundraiser, the Governor of Florida,

recently delayed a cut in taxes on various kinds of investments -- stocks and bonds and so one.  Does the White House consider that action, in effect, a tax increase?

MR. FLEISCHER:  He delayed -- what was your question?

Q    The implementation of a tax on various kinds of investments -- stocks and bonds and that kind of thing.

MR. FLEISCHER:  I'm not familiar with the facts in the case.  But at any rate, the President, when he's talking with the Congress about issues on the federal level, the President will engage and remind the Congress not

to do that.  When the President was a governor, the President did not welcome the thoughts of the federal government about how Texas should run its books.  Those are decisions that governors make, and that's not something the President usually weighs-in on.

Q    Ari, back to the detainees for a moment.  I just want to clarify,

there's no international legal obstacles to keeping these men indefinitely?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Again, these are going to be legal matters that are going to be decided on, on a case-by-case basis.  And I don't know that all

of that has been determined yet; it's still being reviewed.

Q    First of all, happy new year.  (Laughter.)

MR. FLEISCHER:  Thank you.  Happy new year to you.  Always appreciate kind wishes in addition to questions.  (Laughter.)

Q    Indian Home Minister is in town tomorrow.  I understand he'll be here at the White House meeting top officials that includes President Bush.

And he's saying that he's here to fight against international terrorism, combine with -- joining hands with the United States.  So where do we stand


MR. FLEISCHER:  I haven't seen the final on the President's schedule yet, so you will have that later this evening, informing you about any of the President's meetings.

All right, Les.  You seem to be impatient.

Q    Since the President is our chief law enforcement officer, and airline safety is of continuing importance, without regard to any specific case, does the President believe an airline pilot, who is the ship's captain, should be able to bar from boarding anyone he or she believes to be a threat to the safety of the plane?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Les, I know where you're heading with this, and you're

regarding the specifics of a case that, as the President has said, is under investigation.

Q    Well, generally, I say without regard to that case, other planes.

MR. FLEISCHER:  I've learned not to answer your questions when specifics are hovering nearby.  (Laughter.)

Q    Secretary Rumsfeld is now being widely described as the media star of the year, with one news magazine even reporting his kick-a-press briefings make him the sexiest man in the administration.  (Laughter.)  But

Washingtonian Magazine reports that you, Ari, are receiving mailed marriage proposals.  (Laughter.)  And my question is, the President is happy to have such electrifying leaders in his administration, isn't he?  Or is he displeased?  (Laughter.)

MR. FLEISCHER:  Les, given the recent swirl of events, I hardly think it would be appropriate for me to comment on how sexy the media is.  (Laughter.)

Q    How about Secretary Rumsfeld?  What about him?  And I have one more, because it's been two weeks.  (Laughter.)

MR. FLEISCHER:  What's your question about Secretary Rumsfeld?

Q    Oh, I say, do you believe he's not the sexiest man in the administration?

MR. FLEISCHER:  I believe he is the second.  He's my hero when it comes to how to handle the press, I'll tell you that.

Q    Last question, because it's been two weeks.  Washington's Weekly Standard recently published a long article detailing why opposition to racial profiling is really war on the police, because it's based on the false assumption that all races and ethnic groups have the same crime rate.

Does the President, as chief law enforcer, agree or disagree with this?

MR. FLEISCHER:  State the premise again.

Q    Well, they published an article detailing why opposition --

MR. FLEISCHER:  Who did?

Q    Weekly Standard.  Opposition to racial profiling is really war on

the police, because it's based on the false assumption that all races and ethnic groups have the same crime rate, which, of course, is not true.  Does the President agree or disagree?

MR. FLEISCHER:  I think this is one of the most sensitive matters that

is before our society.  And the President's commitment to ending racial profiling remains.  The Department of Justice has been tasked with that.  As a result of the war that has diverted the Department of Justice personnel and focus on to other matters, they have not proceeded the timetable that the President has originally hoped for.  But this remains one of the most sensitive issues in our society, and the President is committed to ending racial profiling.

Q    Ari, on immigration, with the fact that the President believes that an accord with Mexican immigration is a priority for his administration -- will start tomorrow morning, how the President is going to deal with the opposition in this election year from the Republican Party

about -- with Mexico on immigration?

MR. FLEISCHER:  You called it opposition in the Republican Party?  Let

me remind you there's opposition in both parties to increasing, or to helping immigrants come to America.  And that's something the President has

taken on within his own party before. As Governor of Texas, the President challenged the Republican Party's immigration policies.  And the President has made it clear in his policies on either 245-I or on welcoming immigrants into this country, that he believes that immigrants are a wonderful and important part of making America a stronger country.

Q    But he believes he can reach an agreement with President Fox this

year about the proposals the President of Mexico made to him in September before the attacks?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Well, again, as a result of the war, the efforts of the agencies who were most involved in the negotiations with Mexico -- in this case, the Attorney General's Office -- they have, unfortunately, found

themselves in the middle of other priorities, which is to fight a war against terrorism.  And that has kept them away from entering into a timetable that we would have hoped on some of these issues.  So I'm not prepared to guess at any timetable.  But suffice it to say it remains an important priority for the President.  It's something I've heard him talk about often.

Q    Ari, I understand that the President's State of the Union address

will primarily concentrate on domestic and international security for Americans.  When does the President intend to weigh in on his domestic agenda for the coming year, and what exactly is that agenda?

MR. FLEISCHER:  In the State of the Union and other speeches preceding

and following it.  Understand carefully, when the President talks about security, security involving protecting the American people from a war, but

also security at home, the President defines security at home as the security of having a job, the security of having a paycheck, the security of having an economy that grows and is strong, the security that comes from

being energy-independent and having reliable supplies of American-made fuel.  So security encompasses a number of items including health security.

So I would urge you not to draw a conclusion because the word "security" is used, it applies only to things that affect foreign policy or

the military.  There are many domestic policy-related implications to

helping the American people to be secure at home.

Q    -- give a laundry list -- health care, obviously the economy, but

also like faith-based initiatives, and so forth?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Well, the President has a very busy agenda for 2002.  And I think what you'll hear in the State of the Union is the President will lay out an agenda that focuses on security for Americans as we fight a

war abroad and win the war against terrorism, as well as security at home in terms of some of the domestic policy issues.

Among the domestic policy issues that the President will focus on throughout 2002 are the creation of jobs for the American people, helping the economy to grow out of the recession and recover, energy independence and the development of a comprehensive energy plan.  I remind you that it again is another exciting bipartisan opportunity for the country.  It passed -- the President's energy plan passed the House with a rather sizeable bipartisan vote; the President hopes the Senate will take action.

Trade promotion authority, to promote jobs at home, as well as to help

developing nations around the world so they can grow and prosper, is a part of the President's agenda.  Fighting poverty and reducing the income gap between the haves and the have-nots, that's something that the President's armies of compassion legislation, or his faith-based initiative

helps focus on and resolve.

Health is always an important part of the President's domestic policy.

The President remains committed to helping Americans to have health care that's affordable and accessible.  This year I anticipate that agriculture policies will get renewed, agriculture authorization is up.  Welfare reform

of 1997 is up for reauthorization in 2002.  Again, another vital way to help Americans who are of low income and to close the gap between the haves

and the have-nots is to reauthorize welfare reform, which has been a shining example of social success.  So those are a few examples I would give you.

Q    Ari, what's the President's position of possible resumption of nuclear testing?  Does he want to keep -- testing?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Well, as you know, the President has announced with President Putin an agreement to reduce the number of weapons in the American arsenal down to some 1,700 to 2,200 weapons.  As those weapons are

reduced, some will be removed from operational status and are earmarked for destruction; others will be replaced in retired status, awaiting eventual destruction, and still others will be maintained in a non-deployed

status as a hedge against unforeseen technical or international events

Q    What about testing?

MR. FLEISCHER:  Testing?  And on testing, the President has said that we will continue to adhere to the no-testing policy, if that would change in the future, we would never rule out the possible need to test to make certain that the stockpile, particularly as it's reduced, is reliable and safe.  So he has not ruled out testing in the future, but there are no plans to do so.

Q    Ari, could you give us the specifics of the numbers --

Q    Yesterday, General Myers announced that two senior al Qaeda members were taken into custody, or suspected al Qaeda members taken into custody.  Have you determined whether they are indeed senior members of the

al Qaeda network?  And also, can you tell us who they are?

MR. FLEISCHER:  I don't have confirmation on that yet.

Q    Ari, could you go over the numbers?  You talked about the decommissioning -- can you talk about the numbers?

MR. FLEISCHER:  The Department of Defense is going to be briefing at 3:00 p.m. on many of these topics.  This is part of the nuclear posture review.  They'll have the specifics on them.  I don't.

Q    I noticed on that list, you left off a few things that were high-profile -- your campaign finance reform, patients' bill of rights, perhaps some environmental things.  How complete is that list, and did you intend --

MR. FLEISCHER:  It's not complete.  I just decided I didn't want to spend the rest of the day in the briefing room.  There are many other issues on there, of course, and you just cited several of them.  Thank you.

Q    How about those two, and patients' bill of rights?

MR. FLEISCHER:  That's on there, as well.  Thank you.

END  12:50 P.M. EST

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