|Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings|
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 5, 2002
Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:45 P.M. EST
MR. FLEISCHER: Good afternoon. The President today began his day with his usual intelligence briefings, followed by an FBI briefing. Then he met for approximately one hour with the President of Kenya and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, where they discussed cooperation in the war against terrorism, they discussed regional issues involving security and the Horn of Afghan; they discussed the HIV-AIDS crisis in Africa and the United States commitment in the huge amount of aid that we are providing to help fight the scourge of AIDS in Africa. And they also discussed the food crisis that is affecting areas in the region, as well.
The President will shortly depart for the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. -- or shortly give remarks at the Islamic Center of D.C. on the holiday of Eid al-Fitr. And then this evening the President will participate in the Christmas tree lighting and the Pageant of Peace on the Ellipse here in Washington.
With that, I'm happy to take your questions.
Q Ari, when Tariq Aziz of Iraq says that his country possesses no weapons of mass destruction, how do we know that he's not telling the truth?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, Iraq has lied before and they're lying now about whether they possess weapons of mass destruction. Tariq Aziz's statement is very much like statements that Iraq made throughout the '90s, denying that they had weapons of mass destruction when, of course, it was found that they indeed had weapons of mass destruction. And so I see little reason to believe Iraq now when they have such a history of lying in the past about this very topic.
Q Well, I mean, you're saying, I don't see why, if they were lying in the past they wouldn't be lying now, but do you have anything that constitutes proof?
MR. FLEISCHER: Let me cite for you something I think you will find constructive. This is July 31, 2002, Senator Biden's committee up on Capitol Hill, and this is a statement by Richard Butler, formerly of the United Nations. Quote -- this is Richard Butler speaking -- "It is essential to recognize that the claim made by Saddam's representative that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction is false. Everyone concerned, from Iraq's neighbors to the U.N. Security Council to the Secretary of the U.N., with whom Iraq is currently negotiating on this issue -- everyone simply, Mr. Chairman, is being lied to."
And Mr. Butler, formerly of the U.N., continued, "From the beginning, Iraq refused to obey the law. Instead it actively sought to defeat the application of the law in order to preserve its weapons of mass destruction capabilities."
Two more paragraphs -- "The work of UNSCOM, the body created by the United Nations Security Council to take away Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, had various degrees of success -- varying degrees," said Mr. Butler. "But above all, it was not permitted to finish the job. Almost four years have now passed since Iraq terminated UNSCOM's work, and in that period, Iraq has been free of any inspection and monitoring of its WMD programs."
And then Mr. Butler concluded, "This shows two key things. One, Iraq remains in breach of international law, and two, it has been determined to maintain a weapons of mass destruction capability at all costs."
President Bush has said Iraq has weapons of mass destruction; Tony Blair has said Iraq has weapons of mass destruction; Donald Rumsfeld has said Iraq has weapons of mass destruction; Richard Butler has said they do; the United Nations has said they do; the experts have said they do. Iraq says they don't. You can choose who you want to believe.
Q So -- but if you had this evidence other than what Richard Butler is talking about, why don't you lay it out on the table? Why don't you share it with the American public?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think the burden now falls on Saddam Hussein and his opportunity to shed that burden comes this weekend when he will send to the United Nations a declaration of the weapons that he possesses. And I think it will be a very interesting day to see what he says in that document, and we shall see what he says he has. Also we'll see what he says he doesn't have.
Q Why can't you present your own evidence, for god sake? Nobody is stopping you. And Butler knows damn well that we pulled the inspectors out.
MR. FLEISCHER: I think, Helen, the burden is on Saddam Hussein to comply with the will of the United Nations and demonstrate --
Q Did we pull the inspectors out of Iraq?
MR. FLEISCHER: -- and Saddam Hussein by shooting at the inspectors, by bugging their rooms, by stopping them from being able to do their work, by holding them in parking lots for days, by slamming the gates to facilities they had every right under international law to inspect created an environment which they were withdrawn.
Q To what extent are you worried that you could lose international support if no -- if the inspectors can't find any weapons?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, again, let's let events take their course. I think that it will be important to note what Saddam Hussein says when he submits this declaration over the course of the weekend. We'll see what he says, and we'll also see what he doesn't say when he submits this.
Q Can you just step us through a little bit how the United States government is going to deal with this report? In other words, how information is going to get to various departments and agencies and experts, and what the administration is going to do with it?
MR. FLEISCHER: Here's the procedure I think we can anticipate -- and again, much of this depends on Iraq and what they will do in fact. We've heard much speculation about what Iraq will release in this report over the weekend. The word that we hear is that this report will be relatively voluminous, many, many pages, and it's unclear yet what language it will be in. It's possible it will be in Arabic and portions in English -- we just don't know. So we'll see what Saddam Hussein produces.
And then we will be very thoughtful. We will be deliberative. We will study it, we will assess what it says, we will assess what it doesn't say. And the process will be that the report must be received by the United Nations in New York. It's unclear in what manner it will be transmitted to New York, whether Saddam Hussein will release it on the ground in Iraq, whether they will have to move them from Iraq physically to New York, how it will be physically transmitted, the amount of time for that, whether it's courier, electronic, we don't know. That's up to Saddam Hussein and the United Nations.
It will be received by the United Nations in New York. The Security Council will receive it. It will be shared with member states of the Security Council. And then you can anticipate that at the point that the United States government receives it, we will begin to study it carefully. We will assess what it says. Depending on how big it is will determine the amount of time it takes for us to study it.
Q Who is going to study it in the United States government? Do you have teams of experts at the CIA, State, Department of Defense people here? Can you spell that out a little bit?
MR. FLEISCHER: Sure. I think there will be many people in various government agencies who will take a very careful look at it from an expert point of view to determine what it is that this document shows, and it will be a large number of people who take a look at it.
Q Now, Hans Blix and his team have said that they could be overwhelmed by this much information and documentation. It could take them a very long time, indeed, just to make their way through it. Is the United States prepared to provide translation assistance, analysis, sort of point the inspectors to special pages?
MR. FLEISCHER: Our whole intention of having the inspectors return to Iraq was so we could work together to make certain that Saddam Hussein disarms. So as the report is received I think you're going to see the members of the Security Council, the United States included, cooperate to discern what is in the document, to study it carefully, and also to see what is not in the document.
Q Ari, three times you've mentioned what the report does not contain, which may in the end be more significant, of course, than what it does contain. While you're reluctant right now to provide us with sort of a footnotes and backup evidence for the kind of statements like the one you read from Mr. Butler, after the report is out, is it the administration's intent to make public or to provide to the inspectors evidence of areas that you believe are not covered in the Iraqi declaration?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, we will, of course, work closely with the inspectors, as we always have and always will, to make certain that they have the best information available so they can do their job. We -- President Bush is the one who wanted them to go into Iraq, and now that they're in Iraq, we want them to be successful. So we will, of course, work with them to provide them information, as we have and as we will continue to do.
But you may want to look back at what the President said in signing the Defense Authorization bill at the Pentagon this week, when the President talked about the importance of this declaration being full, accurate, and complete.
Q There have been moments in American history when Presidents have decided that it was worthwhile to make some intelligence data public to prove the case and not simply make the statement. Adlai Stevenson at the U.N. is a famous one, but there have been others. Is it the administration's intention at this point to attempt that, to provide backup evidence, whether it's in the form of satellite photographs or other intelligence, to indicate areas that you believe that Saddam Hussein is --
MR. FLEISCHER: The burden of proof lies with Saddam Hussein. The world has seen Iraq lie for 10 years, and Iraq continues its ways of lying and deceiving to the world when it says it does not have weapons of mass destruction. When the authorities that I cited earlier, including -- let me read you one additional report because I think this, too, is constructive, and it comes from, frankly, The New York Times.
This is April 10, 1998. "A team of independent experts who reviewed Iraq's progress in eliminating biological weapons at Baghdad's request has rejected Saddam Hussein's contention that he no longer has a germ warfare program." And this report was compiled by military and scientific experts from 13 countries, including the United States, Russia, China and France.
So given the overwhelming amount of history that the world has had dealing with Saddam Hussein, and his deceptions and lies about whether he does or doesn't have weapons of mass destruction, the burden this time lies with Saddam Hussein. And he can begin to shed that burden with what he reveals when he produces the declaration this weekend.
Q The burden of proof may lie on him, but the burden of putting together a coalition, if you believed he has withheld information, obviously lies on the United States. And the way you put together that coalition is providing evidence to back up your claims and the claims of others. The question is --
MR. FLEISCHER: I think the President is --
Q -- are you prepared to do that in public?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think in terms of assembling a coalition, the President is very well satisfied that the coalition is already assembling. The President has said that he will assemble a coalition of the willing, and the coalition has access to information and they know what I have just been saying to you, in citing these very public cases, including news reports.
Q Why can't the public know?
MR. FLEISCHER: We'll know this weekend, won't we, when Saddam Hussein makes his report.
Q It's not your intention to make it public, is that where we're --
MR. FLEISCHER: Not make public --
Q It's not your intention to make public intelligence that would contradict whatever is in Saddam's --
MR. FLEISCHER: All events in due course. Let Saddam Hussein make his report this weekend, which is what the United Nations asked to happen, and that is what the President called for.
Q Is there any plan this weekend for the administration to respond to the declaration at all, any type of statement or is that something --
MR. FLEISCHER: Again, let him send his report. We'll take a look at what he does and what he says, and we'll keep you apprised as we receive the information. I can't guess. If he sends in one piece of paper with one paragraph on it, then it's rather easy to study it and it won't take much time. If he sends in tens of thousands of pages worth of documents, it will require some time to take a look at.
Q Is Bush meeting with the principals tomorrow to discuss how to respond to the declaration?
MR. FLEISCHER: I haven't looked ahead at tomorrow's schedule in any case. He has a National Security Council meeting every day, so -- you know I read that out every morning, I tell you he has the meeting. I'm not at liberty to go into any of what is discussed at National Security Council meetings, but the President meets with the NSC every day.
Q Are you essentially confirming the statement of one member of the inspection team that if the U.S. has intelligence that points to Saddam's weapons of mass destruction program, it has not been shared with the inspectors? And if that's the case, why has it not been shared with the inspectors? And is it your plan to do so after the declaration --
MR. FLEISCHER: Wendell, it is never the practice of the White House to discuss how we -- what in any detail level we do with intelligence information. I've made it abundantly clear that we will continue to cooperate with the inspectors to provide them with information and tools they need so they can get the job done that the President has asked them to go into Iraq to do. We have an interest in working closely with them. But I never discuss publicly in any way --
Q Well, having said that, you can then say whether or not the inspector is accurate in saying that if you have the intelligence it has not been shared with the team.
MR. FLEISCHER: We will continue to work closely with the inspectors as the events go along, as we always have.
Q Ari, you talk about the coalition is already assembling, in sort of response to David's question, you don't have to provide any additional information politically to bring this coalition together. How do you gauge the support in that light of Turkey for the operation, what's envisioned there? And can you expect to secure -- can the U.S. expect to secure use of Turkey as a staging ground for U.S. troops?
MR. FLEISCHER: Some two to three weeks ago, I think it was rather extensively reported that the State Department contacted some 50 nations around the world to discuss cooperation in the eventuality of a potential conflict with Iraq. And those conversations began at that point; they've been developing since then. And it is always my practice to allow nations to speak for themselves about what level of cooperation they are providing. So I am not going to get into any one nation specific.
I'll just repeat that the President is very satisfied that the international community agrees with him about the threat that Saddam Hussein presents. The international community and many of these nations that we are working most closely with see it the same way the President does. They, too, don't want war. They believe war should be a last resort, and they hope that Saddam Hussein will disarm so it can be averted. But make no mistake that the work of assembling a coalition continues.
Q You just had a Defense official, Mr. Wolfowitz, come back from Turkey, where they talked about these sorts of issues. What's your sense of the success of his mission there?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think as he described it, it was a very successful visit and he was pleased with his consultations with officials in Turkey. The President will be -- the President, as you know, met with Turkish officials during his visit to the Czech Republic, and important members of the Turkish government or governing structure will be coming to visit the President next week.
Q Ari, in yesterday's briefing, you called Elliott Abrams a warrior for democracy. Shouldn't a warrior for democracy show more respect for the elected representatives of the people, namely the American Congress?
MR. FLEISCHER: I said everything that the President believes on that topic, and I don't have anything additional or different to add to it today.
Q He pleaded guilty, as you know, to two misdemeanor counts for essentially lying to Congress in the '80s about Iran-Contra. Is that consummate with being a warrior for democracy in your view and the President's view?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think there is no question that, as a result of Elliott Abrams' efforts and the efforts of others as well, democracy has spread throughout Central and Latin America and he enjoys the tremendous faith and confidence of the President.
Q Ari, if I can come back to Greg's question, when you say the coalition is already beginning to form into place, there seems to be a few countries, including the British -- Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, I think -- I'm sure last week made these comments, that there's still a preference for another vote at the U.N. What is the White House position right now on, after all the information has been revealed, you have responded, does the Security Council get assembled again for another vote?
MR. FLEISCHER: It is always the prerogative of the United Nations Security Council to meet and to vote as they see fit. The President is very appreciative of the powerful messages the United Nations Security Council sent in its 15 to nothing vote that created the environment for the inspectors to go back into Iraq. And the President wants to see what Saddam Hussein does next.
Q If it's the U.N.'s prerogative, would Ambassador Negroponte be at the table? In other words, would the United States go along with potentially another vote?
MR. FLEISCHER: The Security Council always has the right to meet, and the United States is a part of the Security Council.
Q That's a yes?
MR. FLEISCHER: About will he be at the table?
Q Yes. If there is another vote -- in other words, the United States will go along with it if the majority of countries --
MR. FLEISCHER: The United States is a member of the Security Council. But I don't think anybody can predict whether the United Nations will or will not need to go in for another vote, or whether or not -- but it is certainly the prerogative of the United Nations Security Council to meet as they see fit at any time.
Q Ari, Iraq will have its say, of sorts, on Saturday when they release what has been described as a voluminous document. That will be their manifesto on what they have and what they don't have. You said this morning that the inspectors don't have access to all the intelligence information that U.S. officials have. Won't that then be the time for the U.S. to make public evidence that it has that may not be reflected in what the inspectors are finding, and would speak to what's omitted --
MR. FLEISCHER: Got this question earlier, and I indicated that we will see what Iraq does this weekend. I am not going to predict every future course of events.
Q But wouldn't it be reasonable? Wouldn't it be logical at that point if the facts, as you see them, are in direct opposition to what the Iraqis are asserting, wouldn't that be the time --
MR. FLEISCHER: Let's wait and see what Saddam Hussein says this weekend. Maybe he will release a list of all his weapons of mass destruction and where they are, and that way the United Nations can go in and fulfill their mission to dismantle and destroy them. I'm not going to guess what Iraq will do this weekend, and I am not going to indicate every step that may or may not come following that action.
Q Two questions. Does the President have any idea of perhaps making some kind of hierarchy for material breaches? In other words, if you have smallpox vaccine, but you don't have a method of delivery -- in terms of taking military action for enforcement? And my second question has to do with United Airlines. Has there been any contact since yesterday's decision by the board between the administration and United Airlines?
MR. FLEISCHER: On your first question, I've seen nothing about a hierarchy of breach. The President believes that breach is breach, and that this is about disarmament and Iraq must disarm.
And in terms of United Airlines, I don't know if anybody in the administration has spoken directly to United or not. I shared with you this morning the thoughts of the President and the White House about the decision made by the board.
Q Ari, just to follow up on that, you did say that he was -- hr respected their decision. But some congressional Republicans, including the Speaker, said they questioned the timing of it, coming last night before the machinists vote, saying it didn't give them a chance. Did the President have any concerns at all about the timing or --
MR. FLEISCHER: No, the timing is decided by the Air Transportation Stabilization Board. They make those decisions.
Q So he wasn't worried about that at all?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, I think you can make the case that if they waited to do this after the vote, why didn't they allow the workers to know this information before they voted? I mean, I fail to see how whether it came before or after the vote is material. This is the decision that they have made and I think that once they reach the decision, the public has a right to know it.
Q Ari, there was a poll released -- I believe it was by the Pew Foundation -- yesterday showing that overseas, that the United States is not held in as high esteem as it once was. Is this something that troubles the President? And what does he think might be contributing to that?
MR. FLEISCHER: You know, I would encourage everybody to go back and take a look at the raw data in that poll and pay less attention to some of the interpretations that instantly came out that accompanied it. Because I think, if you look at it, what you'll see is, with the exception of some areas in the Muslim world where the President has already acknowledged the United States has a job to do and we have to bring people together between the United States and the Muslim world, but around the rest of the world, the poll showed overwhelming favorable notions of the United States of America, particularly among those who recently struggled against tyranny and oppression.
The numbers are astounding in terms of people in all parts of the world who look to the United States with a favorable image. And I think that's one of the reasons why you see so many people from around the world want to come to the United States to go to college and get good educations, because they see so much hope and opportunity in America, and opportunity for learning. And we welcome them. We want them to take advantage of it in a way that is consistent with our immigration laws, and then go back to their countries. And they are good emissaries for the wonderful spirit of the American people.
So I think this is one of the most stark example of a poll whose data showed one thing and whose instant analysis showed another.
Q In that case, let's look at the Muslim world quickly at least. Obviously, if you go to war with Iraq, it might not sit too well with some other -- some folks in the Muslim world. What exactly is it that the administration is tending to do to try to bring those folks closer?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, let me remind you that Syria voted with the United States on the Security Council resolution and so Iraq operates alone in terms of whether or not it should disarm. Syria has called on Iraq to disarm. I don't make any predictions about whether Syria will or will not take any part in anything beyond the vote in the United Nations, but I think the point is instructive. And I remind you about all the efforts the United States has made to help bring freedom to Muslims around the world, including Bosnia, including Afghanistan.
Q This is the populace that was being polled. Is there any reason to think that the populace of these Arab nations will look more fondly on the United States if it invades Iraq?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think, given the fact that Iran was attacked by Iraq, given the fact that Kuwait was attacked by Iraq, and given the fact that Saudi Arabia was attacked by Iraq, I don't think you're going to find many citizens that believe that Saddam Hussein is an exact role model for the way Arab community wants to be seen.
Q Ari, when you said the coalition is assembling over the past two weeks, what exactly does that mean? What's been going on?
MR. FLEISCHER: It means just as I did in the follow-up, that the State Department contacted some 50 nations around the world in terms of possible cooperation, in the event that war becomes necessary, and that we are receiving good responses from many nations. And that the President believes that one of the best ways to avert war is to make absolutely certain that Saddam Hussein understands that, if he does not comply and disarm, we are ready to wage it and it will be waged successfully.
Q What do you mean, good responses? Do you mean nations have stepped up and committed specific forces to a coalition force?
MR. FLEISCHER: Nations have stepped up and committed specific levels of support. I won't get into what those may be, whether it is troops, whether it is equipment, whether it is overflight, whether it is landing bases. As I indicated, that is for each nation to do on its own. But you can assume all of the above in various regions of the world.
Q So people have made specific commitments sort of along the lines that the President outlined at the NATO summit?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's correct. That's correct.
Q Ari, one of the Joint Chiefs yesterday shared a view in response to a question that the trigger for military disarmament in Iraq would most likely have to come after the inspectors were able to come up with the tangible goods to make the case that Iraq is lying. Does the President believe that that is the case? Because that would suggest that the burden of proof is more with the inspectors than with Iraq.
MR. FLEISCHER: No, the burden of proof is clearly on Iraq. And one of the issues, again -- I've said this before, and I hope you can just think about this in the most logical way of 100 inspectors working in a nation the size of France where, often, the ability to hide something is not so complicated, because what you're hiding is relatively small. And the amount of facilities that can be available underground or mobile makes your task of hiding or deceiving or moving relatively easy.
The burden falls on Saddam Hussein to comply. And this is why the President keeps saying this is not a game of hide and seek. If an adversary wants to hide, it's not hard to hide weapons of mass destruction from even the best inspectors, particularly in a country the size of Iraq. So Iraq is under an obligation under international law not to just not hide, but to cooperate. Iraq must cooperate, and this is what the inspectors and the world community will soon see if Iraq is indeed doing it or not.
Q Can I follow up on that? If the inspection process is this difficult in the size of the country and with the number of inspectors, then how long is the President willing to let this process -- which so far has looked on the outside like cooperation -- continue?
MR. FLEISCHER: Again, I want to remind you that, when you say it looks on the outside like cooperation, how do you square that with what Tariq Aziz just said when he said he has no weapons of mass destruction, unless Tariq Aziz's word is taken at face value. And I submit to you -- and this is why I cited a public account -- pull your own reporting for the last 10 years. Those reports I cited, particularly the first one, was not in the name of any government official, it was independent reporting -- refuted Iraqi claims. So I know that when you also independently take a look at Iraqi claims, you do render a judgment about whether it's accurate or not.
Q So the President does believe that Baghdad's word is enough of a trigger?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President will wait for Iraq to submit its declaration, and then we will take a look at it, as I said, in a thoughtful, deliberative manner, take all appropriate time to review it, and then you will hear from the United States in various forms as time goes along.
Q On the domestic front, the latest CBO analysis shows that the federal deficit could balloon to upwards of $900 billion a year by the end of 2012. Taking that into account, does the administration believe there's room in the budget for permanent extension of a $1.35 trillion tax cut without this adversely affecting the deficit?
MR. FLEISCHER: Paula, Paula, Paula, you have misread the CBO report. The CBO reached its conclusion that the deficit could reach that level if spending did not get checked, at current spending rates and if appropriation bills are increased by the amount that some have proposed to increase spending. The risk to the deficit comes from spending.
The fact of the matter is that the economy was in recession, which led to a decline in revenues, creating a deficit. What has helped to make sure that the deficit will eventually decline is growth. Growth came as a result of the tax cuts, because clearly we went from a recession that began when the President got to town, to now a period of some growth.
Q The projection is assuming not only the current spending trend, but also assuming the extension of the permanent tax cut.
MR. FLEISCHER: There's no question the President thinks that the tax cut should be made permanent, and the President thinks it makes no sense at all to reimpose a marriage penalty on people because the government is spending too much.
Q How does this square with fiscal discipline, Ari?
MR. FLEISCHER: Alex?
Q A couple questions. One is, there's some Internet postings, reportedly by al Qaeda, that a terrorist gift is on its way to mark the end of Ramadan, specifically citing today and tomorrow. At the same time, France has doubled its anti-terror efforts. Are we approaching or going into a period of higher alert?
And my second question is again about Hezbollah. Are we concerned, do you have indications that Hezbollah is going to take its suicide bombing campaign worldwide, as some of their leaders have said? Are you concerned about that?
MR. FLEISCHER: Number one, you're citing a report that appeared on a web page that was noted and observed, and I think it was then publicly reported. And we, as you know, throughout the Ramadan period, have been on a state of readiness and alert. The alert level remains the same as it was, which is an elevated state. And we continue to take all these threats seriously and to evaluate them all. This does remain a period of caution for the American people. We remain a nation at war.
And, as the President noted, he visited today with the President of Kenya, nations around the world have been victims of this war. And it is not an idle reminder. It is, unfortunately, a real reminder to the American people and our friends everywhere that there are people who want to bring harm to us.
Hezbollah, of course, is one of the most notorious and dangerous terrorist organizations in the world. The practice of suicide bombings is one of the most vile and heinous practices known to man. And we of course have concerns. There's nothing specific I can point to in that regard, but all you need to do is unfortunately watch the news about events in the Middle East and you can see the terror that Hezbollah is capable of.
Q But do you believe Hezbollah is on the verge of mounting a global terror campaign of its own?
MR. FLEISCHER: I have nothing that's been provided to me pertaining to Hezbollah and a global campaign.
MR. FLEISCHER: Russell, welcome back. I don't know where you've been, but you're always welcome.
Q Congratulations on your marriage, too.
MR. FLEISCHER: Thank you, sir.
Q Ari, two questions. What was the President thinking when he appointed an alleged war criminal to investigate a war crime? What was he thinking?
MR. FLEISCHER: Who are you thinking of?
Q Chile, Allende, Cambodia, Kissinger.
MR. FLEISCHER: Would he appoint --
MR. FLEISCHER: Oh, I see what you're saying. Everything that I said when Henry Kissinger was appointed two weeks ago, about the outstanding integrity of Henry Kissinger and the high regard in which he's held. You should have been here two weeks ago; you missed that one.
Go ahead, you get a follow-up because you haven't been here.
Q You said Iraq has lied in the past and its continuing to lie. Kissinger lied to Congress about Cambodia. Kissinger lied to Congress about Chile. How do we know he's not going to lie about his investigation?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think that if you want to compare what Tariq Aziz said last week to what Henry Kissinger, who has ably served the United States and who continues to ably serve the United States and is held in very high regard by people in both parties, including the families of 9/11, that's your judgment, your business. The President rejects that line of thinking.
Q Where does find these great men? Where? Every one from the Iran-Contra scandal has been named to this administration. (Laughter.)
MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, tomorrow I announce your appointment. (Laughter.)
Q Ari, Secretary Rumsfeld says the goal against Iraq is regime change. Secretary Powell says disarmament is the same as regime change. Is there a contradiction here, and what is the President's position.
MR. FLEISCHER: The President, as you know, and Secretary Powell, as you know, and Secretary Rumsfeld, as you know, have all said the goal is both. The goal is to make certain that Saddam Hussein disarms, and the United States policy under law is regime change.
Q What's the White House reaction to comments made by Prince Nayef, the Interior Minister in Saudi Arabia, where he questioned whether al Qaeda was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and suggested that Zionists were behind it?
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not familiar with those remarks. I'll take a look at them; I have not seen them.
END 2:15 P.M. EST