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 Home > News & Policies > July 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 12, 2004

Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Knoxville, Tennessee

President's Schedule
War on Terror
New CIA Director
Gay Marriage

9:50 A.M. EDT

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, before he departed, the President had his usual briefings. When we arrive back from Tennessee the President will meet with President Saca of El Salvador in the Oval Office.

Now let me give you a read out on our trip today, as we head to the home state of one Steve Holland. The Freedom Corps greeter is Jim Richardson. He will be there upon arrival. And for the past two years he's been an active volunteer with the Red Cross Disaster Assistance Team in Maryville, Tennessee. It provides emergency shelter, triage to the injured and assistance to emergency workers during a crisis.

Then we will go to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and when we arrive the President will participate in a tour. He will go to -- there will be three stations and the pool will be there to cover all these stations. Let me give you a quick read out of each of the stations. The first station he will visit has three different components to it. The first component will display a symbol, gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment. The second component will display miscellaneous centrifuge components, and then the third component will display frequency converters, which change the electrical frequency to run the centrifuge motors at high speeds. And this station is important because the motors were purchased on the black market for --

Q Motors or rotors?

MR. McCLELLAN: Motors. The motors were purchased on the black market for the specific purpose of running centrifuges for the development of nuclear weapons. And then station two will show vacuum cases, which form the outer shell of centrifuges. And then station three will show two balancing machines, and the machines balance centrifuge rotors to allow them to run at high speeds. And again, these machines were obtained by Libya on the black market, the black market of the proliferation network.

Q Scott, when you say the black market, do you mean directly from Abdul Khan, or do you mean through --

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me double check that.* Let me give you a read out of the remarks today. I'll double check that specific -- but as part of the proliferation network, where it was obtained.

In his remarks, the President will talk about how America is providing strong leadership as we wage a broad war on terrorism and an active campaign against the spread of weapons of mass destruction. He'll talk about how we're making steady progress and we are achieving clear results.

Some of this you've heard, where the President will talk about how September 11th made us determined to confront these threats that we face. And he will talk a little bit about the new approach that we have been taking in the post-September 11th world to overcome the dangers of our time. He'll talk about how our goal is a lasting democratic peace, where nations do not have to live under the fear of sudden attack from terrorists.

And he'll go over the outline for our strategy for peace, which has three basic commitments: one, taking the fight to the enemy, two, working with our friends and allies and international organizations to isolate and confront terrorists and outlaw regimes, and how America is leading in that effort -- it's a global threat that requires a global response -- and then third, he'll talk about extending the peace by supporting the advance of democracy in the broader Middle East. Democracy is the alternative to hatred and terrorism. And he'll talk about how we're following this strategy and it's leading to clear results.

And the new part of the speech is really how he walks through the different areas where we are achieving these clear results. He'll talk about where we were three years ago in Afghanistan. Three years ago Afghanistan was a base for al Qaeda. It was ruled by one of the world's most brutal regimes. Today, the people of Afghanistan have been liberated, and that threat has been removed.

He'll talk about where we were in Pakistan three years ago. Three years ago in Pakistan it was one of the few governments that recognized the Taliban and you had really little opposition to al Qaeda in Pakistan. Today Pakistan is working with us to win the war on terrorism. He'll talk about Saudi Arabia, how al Qaeda three years ago was receiving financial assistance and logistical support from organizations and people within Saudi Arabia, and there was little opposition to al Qaeda. Today Saudi Arabia recognizes that al Qaeda is their enemy and they are fighting the war on terrorism within their own country.

And he'll talk about what we've achieved in Iraq, where we were three years ago in Iraq, where Iraq was a sworn enemy of the United States. Iraq was a country that was a safe harbor for terrorists and a country that -- a regime that had used weapons in the past. Today that threat has been removed, and we are better off for it. And he'll talk about where we were in Libya. And obviously, since we're going to Oak Ridge, he'll cite the Libya example during different parts of his speech. He'll talk about how three years ago in Libya it was a country that was spending millions to acquire chemical and nuclear weapons. It was a country that was supporting terrorism. And today, Libya is seeking a -- has made a strategic choice; they're seeking a better future and they're dismantling their programs.

And he'll also talk about where we were three years ago with the proliferation network. Three years ago you had the A.Q. Khan network doing business around the world. Today that network has been broken up.

So this is showing the clear results and the steady progress that we're making in the war on terrorism. And he will talk about how the world was a very different place three years ago. Today, because America has acted and led, we are -- the world and America are safer. The terrorists, three years, ago believed that they could carry out their terrorist activity with little fear of being confronted or discovered. And today we are taking the fight to the enemy.

And then he'll talk about the duties and difficulties that lie ahead for us as we continue to wage the war on terrorism. He'll talk about North Korea and Iran; he'll talk about the importance of fighting poverty and disease so that we don't have failed states; he'll talk about the importance of the Broader Middle East Initiative; he'll talk about the importance of building a Palestinian state that lives side-by-side in peace with Israel; and he'll talk about our ongoing commitments to help Iraq and Afghanistan build democratic futures. And he will remind the American people that we are still a nation at risk, we are still a nation at war, and -- but throughout history, we have risen to the test and met these challenges in the past, and we will prevail in this war on terrorism, as well.

So that's kind -- that's the general outline of his remarks. I think it's a fairly important speech. And like I said, the new part of it is really talking about where we were three years ago to where we are today, and the results that we're achieving and the progress that we're making.

Q Scott, is it -- is the President going to argue that diplomacy that took place before he came into office did not play a role in Libya's decision to give up its nuclear weapons?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I -- actually, I think that, one -- I'll go back to what I said a minute ago. Libya made a strategic choice. Certainly, countries saw what happened in Iraq. Also, what he will talk about is how, in the fall of 2003, there was a dramatic breakthrough when it comes to Libya. The United States and the United Kingdom alerted German and Italian authorities about a ship that was headed to Tripoli with nuclear materials on it. And the German and Italian authorities interdicted that ship, and that was a dramatic breakthrough to convince Libya that they should seek a better future and they should abandon their ambitions.

Q But there was a lot of diplomacy in the 1990s, including by European allies, to try to convince Libya to come back and rejoin the international community. Is the President not going to mention that or highlight that?

MR. McCLELLAN: He'll talk about how the proliferation efforts that we undertook working with the -- the United Kingdom was key, very involved in this, and they were a key to helping with convincing Libya to change their ways. And that interdiction of that ship was a dramatic breakthrough. And certainly, Libya saw what occurred in Iraq, and Libya made a strategic choice.

Q And then in the three points that you said the President is going to emphasize and how we're dealing with the threat. The middle one was working with allies. Is that any -- I don't recall the President highlighting that in the past when he's talked about these issues.

MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, he's talked about these three commitments previously and --

Q Was that -- is that an increase in emphasis on that particular point?

MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, it's always been a part of our strategy, the importance -- America is leading, but we're -- if you look at North Korea, you look at Iran, those are multilateral approaches. If you look at what we did in Iraq, we pursued a solution through international organizations, namely the United Nations, and there was a broad coalition that agreed with the action that we took in Iraq.

So that's what he's talking about, the importance of America providing strong leadership as we wage a broad and global war on terrorism. And, in fact, there -- the cooperation in the global war on terrorism has really never been stronger, when you look at what we're doing on the proliferation side, when you look at what we're doing around the world in places like Saudi -- what's going on in Saudi Arabia, what's going on in Pakistan and their efforts to combat terrorism. And that's why he'll talk about where we were three years ago and the progress we've made today in those different areas.

Q How similar is this tour, component-wise, to what we saw with Spencer Abraham on the tour a few months ago? Is it additional materials or the same things that have already been shown to the press through Spencer Abraham?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I guess there are a couple shipments of materials that went from Libya to Oak Ridge -- one back in January, and another, I think, back in March. So I imagine -- I wasn't on that trip, so I don't know exactly what you saw on that trip, but I imagine it's similar to some of what you saw. But you all will be there to cover it and be able to make that determination on your own.

Q -- about this contingency plan to postpone the elections if we had an attack on America, like, say, right before November?

MR. McCLELLAN: I really haven't had a chance to see what's in the Newsweek report, I think is what you're referring to. But I haven't heard any real suggestion that there would be a delay in the elections.

Q Scott, if the President is comparing where we are now in the war on terror with where we were three years ago, isn't this really a campaign speech and not an official event?

MR. McCLELLAN: He's the President of the United States regardless of the fact that we're in an election year, and he's talking about the approach that we've been taking over the last few years. There are, obviously, clear choices in the war on terrorism and how we wage that war on terrorism. I think the American people recognize that the President's most solemn obligation is their safety and security. And the President is going to continue talking about this highest of priorities, regardless of whether or not it's an election year.

Q Is the President doing any work today on naming a CIA Director? Is he talking to anybody? Is he meeting with anyone?

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me give you a readout of the progress on the CIA Director.

Q Oh, okay.

MR. McCLELLAN: Just kidding. (Laughter.) Everybody was looking. Put your pens down. (Laughter.)

Q Who all -- who's been interviewed for that job?

Q Is that going to take up any of his time today?

MR. McCLELLAN: The candidates are as follows. No, no -- (laughter.)

Q Is he going to be doing it?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, we have a problem with the recording here. Sorry. (Laughter.)

Q Is he going to be doing any work on this today when he gets back?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President will name a permanent CIA director in due course. We have a very strong and capable leader in the acting Director. And beyond that, I'm just not going to speculate about it.

Q Any response to Mrs. Cheney's remarks last night in which she disagreed with the President's position on the marriage -- the amendment to the Constitution on gay marriage?

MR. McCLELLAN: I guess I haven't seen exactly what she said.

Q She said she thinks it should be a state's issue and not a constitutional issue.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think you heard the President's views in his radio address. You've heard it going back for quite some time. There is activist judges and local officials that sought to redefine the definition of marriage. And the President feels strongly that the people's voice ought to be heard in this debate. And the only way for the people's voice to be heard is through the constitutional process. And the President believes strongly in protecting the sanctity of marriage. And this is the only recourse that we have, given the actions by these activist judges.

Q Is it appropriate for the wife of the Vice President to take a different public position on it?

MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't seen exactly what she said. I'll be glad to take a look at it, though. I'll be around later.

Okay, thanks.

END 10:03 A.M. EDT

* See pool report.