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Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer, November 6, 2002 (Full Transcript)
QUESTION: Does the President consider this a mandate to fulfill his agenda? Going to war with Iraq, privatizing Social Security, weakening the Civil Service Commission and so forth?
MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, you sound like a commercial that didn't work. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: So, didn't you?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, Helen. Number one, the President has not made any decisions about war with Iraq. As you know, the President has gone to the United Nations and asked the United Nations to help preserve the peace by passing a strong and effective resolution that will make Saddam Hussein disarm. But the President was heartened by last night's results. And the President believes it's a reflection of the strong candidates that we had running across the country, and that the results are really a testament to those individuals.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask you about the Iraq resolution. The resolution that has now been circulated at the U.N. Security Council, A, is it going to pass; B, is this what the President wanted all along; C, hasn't he given up a lot? I guess, I'll ask D, as well -- does he feel that he has the right under this resolution to see Iraqi defiance and say, we're going to combat it with military force?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, one, the President views this as has been a long, but a very constructive and important process by focusing on diplomacy and asking the United Nations to fulfill its important responsibilities to keep the peace. The President made the decision to go to the United Nations. He set this course in motion, and the course he set in motion is now coming to a head. The United States is seeking a vote on this resolution on Friday this week. We, in New York, laid down the resolution today. This is a revised text of our resolution that makes crystal clear that Iraq must disarm. For six weeks, efforts by the President, by Secretary Powell, by Ambassador Negroponte in New York, we have put together the key elements of a resolution that we hope will meet with support of all the members of the Security Council. The resolution we'll circulate takes into views -- takes into account the views that we heard from our allies on the Security Council. And it meets the goals that the President identified from the start. From the start the President made clear that any resolution to be voted on had to say that Iraq is in material breach. This resolution does. He made it clear that it had to provide for a very tough inspection regime. This resolution does that. And the President made it clear the there will be serious consequences if Iraq fails to disarm. This resolution accomplishes all of those core principles. And it does so in a way that we believe will also attract the support of our allies whose voices are important and whose voices the President wanted to listen to.
QUESTION: Those voices, principally, were concerned about -- they wanted this issue to go back to the Security Council if there was further Iraqi defiance. Under this draft, do we have to go back to the Security Council? Or is the President empowered to make a decision on his own?
MR. FLEISCHER: Under this draft, and as always at the United Nations, it is the prerogative and the right of any member of the Security Council to convene, to hold a meeting as they judge wise and see fit. Nothing in this resolution handcuffs the President, and the President thinks it is very important and has committed to further consultations.
QUESTION: This would have the international legal authority, this resolution alone, that the President would be able to take the country to war against Iraq?
MR. FLEISCHER: It's exactly as I just stated.
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