For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 12, 2001
Press Briefing Index
President's Phone Calls to World Leaders 1; 4; 14
NATO 1; 6
Intended Targets 1-3; 6-8; 12; 14; 18
International Coalition 4-5; 6
U.S. Response to Attack 5; 12
Congressional Funding 6; 9
Afghanistan and Pakistan 8
Financial Markets 9-10
Declaration of War 9; 10; 13
Sky Marshals Program 10-11
President's Mood 11
Social Security Surplus 13
Airport Security 14
the President's Schedule 15-17
U.n. Security Council 17
Handling of Classified Information 17-18
the White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Immediate Release September 23, 2001
the James S. Brady Briefing Room
4:05 P.M. EDT
MR. FLEISCHER: Good
afternoon. The President today has been making a series of
phone calls to leaders around the world, to rally an international
coalition to combat terrorism.
He has spoken today with Prime Minister
Blair, with Prime Minister Chretien, with President Chirac, with
Chancellor Schroeder, with President Jiang of China, and twice with
President Putin. The President will continue to reach out to
leaders throughout the world to develop this coalition, send a message
that the United States and the world stand united, all the freedom
loving countries and others to fight terrorism.
The President is also gratified by the
action taken today by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, in
which they invoked Article 5, saying that an attack on one NATO nation
is an attack on all NATO nations.
The President is also gratified by the
United Nations Security Council Resolution that passed today condemning
this attack and saying that it was a threat to international peace and
Finally, as the President said in his
remarks this morning, freedom and democracy are under
attack. The American people need to know that we are facing
a different enemy than we have ever faced. Those are the
President's words. In this case, we have specific and
credible information that the White House and Air Force One were also
intended targets of these attacks.
As the President also said in his remarks,
this battle will take time and resolve; and, make no mistake, we will
I'm happy to take questions.
Q Ari, in terms of
this specific threat that you talked about against the White House and
Air Force One, we have heard from administration officials that the
plane that went into the Pentagon may have originally been targeted at
the White House. What can you tell us about that?
MR. FLEISCHER: John, we have
real and credible information that the airplane that landed at the
Pentagon was originally intended to hit the White House.
Q Can you tell us
about the nature of that evidence?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, of course I
cannot. Any questions relating to how we have obtained any
of this information, sources and methods, I will, of course, not
Q -- why it
changed course, Ari? Why it went to the Pentagon and not the
MR. FLEISCHER: We really do not
know the answer to that. But we are aware of what we have.
Q If this is the
case, why did Vice President Cheney remain in the building?
MR. FLEISCHER: The Vice
President was removed to a secure area at the White House.
Q We were told he
was working out of the Situation Room with Condoleezza Rice.
MR. FLEISCHER: The Vice
President worked out of several locations, and the White House has
sufficient secure locations in events such as this. And this
follows a regular plan that the White House has in case of any such
Q Can you confirm
reports, though, that the plane flew over the Pentagon and passed over
the U.S. Capitol? If the White House was indeed a
target? There have been military sources who say it flew
over the U.S. Capitol.
MR. FLEISCHER: No, I do not --
I have not heard that report. I have not heard that report.
Q Ari, then do you
have credible information that the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania
was intended for Air Force One?
MR. FLEISCHER: I do not have
any information about that, about that plane.
Q And if Air Force
One happened to be a target, isn't it true that when the President went
to Louisiana, at that point, once he took off from Louisiana, there
were no flights in U.S. airspace?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, at that
moment there were still reports of airplanes that had not yet been
identified as to their whereabouts. That's another reason
that the White House and the President operated in the secure manner
that they did. At that moment, when the President had left
Florida and was on his way to a base that no one knew where the
President was heading to, there were still reports of planes that had
not yet been brought onto the ground per the FAA's order.
Q If I could follow
up, though, but when Air Force One left Louisiana and headed to
Nebraska, I believe at that time there were no U.S. planes, or any
planes, still in U.S. airspace. So then why did the
President go to Nebraska and not back here to the White House?
MR. FLEISCHER: Because the
information that we had was real and credible about Air Force
One. And the manner in which Air Force One operated
maintained the security of Air Force One at all times. And
that also is one of the reasons why Air Force One did not come back to
Andrews, where some people thought it would.
Q If we could make
the connection here, that would suggest, Ari, then, that the threat
against Air Force One came in the form of another aircraft?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, I'm not
indicating what form it came in, John, and I will not.
Q Ari, at what time
did the White House get this information?
MR. FLEISCHER: On the flight
from Sarasota to the first location.
Q So did the
evacuation of the White House come as a result of that information?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's a detail
that I'm not going to get into, Terry. But all appropriate security
precautions were taken.
Q And then on the
subject of rallying this international coalition, does that indicate
that the President would wait, or try to get the support -- either
operational support or political support of other nations before
responding to these attacks?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I'm not
going to indicate anything about -- speculate about any type of
response. You've heard what the President said and his words
speak for themselves about America's resolve.
However, as I indicated in my opening
statement, the President is very heartened as a result of the world
reaction and the solidarity that the world is showing at all levels in
so many nations toward what has happened. And the President is going
to continue to talk to leaders around the world as he builds this
Q Did the
President secure the support of President Jiang and President Putin in
those phone calls?
MR. FLEISCHER: Let me try to
give you a little more specific information on each of those phone
calls. The President, as I indicated, spoke twice with
President Putin -- once for five minutes, the second time for seven
minutes. He thanked -- the President thanked President Putin
for his call and for the message of condolence that President Putin
President Putin informed President Bush
that he had signed a decree that there be a moment of silence at
Russia, and throughout Russia, at noon tomorrow, with flags at
half-mast, to express the outrage and solidarity of the Russian people
with the American people.
The two Presidents agreed that they will
work closely together in the coming weeks to fight those responsible
for yesterday's acts of terrorism.
The President's phone call with President
Jiang of China lasted for approximately 10
minutes. President Bush thanked President Jiang for his
condolences and concern for the American people, as
well. And the two agreed to work together also to combat
terrorism, which is another indication, as I mentioned, of the
coalition the President is seeking to form as the world unites in the
fight against terrorism.
Q Ari, will that
coalition look at all like the Persian Gulf coalition? Is he
reaching out to Arab nations, as well?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President is
going to continue to have conversations throughout the
world. And, as you know, Secretary Powell has, too, talked
to many people. And I will try to keep you informed of the
conversations the President has.
Q But is it right
that the President has not yet reached out to any Arab nation leaders?
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm going to try
to do my best to keep you informed. But this is a process, and the
President is going to continue to make phone calls. The
President, as you know, he has a meeting this afternoon with the
security team. Following his meeting with the congressional
leaders late this morning, the President had lunch with the Vice
President; he made additional phone calls; he has a meeting with the
security team today and we're going to keep you informed of all the
information we can about the President's phone calls --
Q Given the scale
and the level of killing in these attacks yesterday, can the President
assure the American people that the response will be commensurate with
MR. FLEISCHER: Terry, I'm just
not going to speculate about the response. You have what the
President said about how the United States will prevail. But
I'm not going to go beyond that; I'm not going to
speculate. And I leave it at that.
Q Can you say how
close the U.S. is to knowing who is responsible for the attacks?
MR. FLEISCHER: The United
States is in the process of gathering all the facts about this
matter. The full resources of the federal government at all
levels have been dedicated to this. And we will continue to
gather those facts and ascertain all the information available.
Q Can I just
follow up? Has there been, at least, early consideration of
possible U.S. responses or is the U.S. government not at that point
MR. FLEISCHER: Again, I'm not
going to speculate on that.
Q What is the
practical effect of invoking Article 5 of NATO, that it's an attack
against the entire alliance?
MR. FLEISCHER: It is a message
of solidarity with NATO. And I'm not going to go beyond
that, in terms of anything else that has a practical
effect. It is highly unusual, if not unprecedented, for NATO
to have taken this step.
Q It does suggest a
unified military response, though.
MR. FLEISCHER: I think it
suggests a unified response. And, again, anything dealing
with anything military, I'm not going to speculate about.
Q But, Ari, when
you talk about "coalition", it implies that you're looking for some
sort of tangible support from other nations, not just words of
support. Is that a way to look at it?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, this is a
moment for the world to stand up to terrorism. And President
Bush is very pleased with the reactions of leaders around the
world. This is an opportunity for the world to stand up to
terrorism, and that's how President Bush sees this.
Q Ari, is the White
House going to make an open-ended request to Congress for funding, or
is there going to be a figure given to Congress?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, Keith, the
President thinks it's important that this not become an open-ended
request. The President -- and by the way, the meeting with
the congressional leaders today, the bipartisan congressional leaders,
was a very important and stirring meeting of patriotism. The
outpouring of support, shoulder to shoulder, regardless of anybody's
political party, was wonderful, it was impressive, and it should make
every American proud.
The President will continue to work with
Congress, but he does not think it should be an open-ended commitment.
Q So, just to
follow up, is there going to be a specific request given to Congress
today or tomorrow, for a specific amount of funding?
MR. FLEISCHER: We're going to
work with Congress on the specifics of it. And as soon as we
have something to announce, I will announce it or provide the
information to you.
Q Given NATO's
decision today, and the kind words from so many -- or supportive words
from so many foreign leaders, does the President feel that at this
point he has the international support he needs if he decides to
strike, if --
MR. FLEISCHER: You know, again,
I understand that you're trying to determine what may or may not come
next. But it is just an area that I'm not going to speculate
about, and I'm sure you can appreciate the reason why.
Q Can I just go
back to the threat on Air Force One? I mean, at the time the
four planes were hijacked, the President was in Florida. If
you have a threat to Air Force One, it seems as though you're raising
an additional threat that perhaps we don't know about.
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm
sorry? Raising an additional threat that you don't know
Q Well, some other
action that was going on. I mean, obviously the four planes
that we know were hijacked, clearly -- I mean, were no threat to Air
MR. FLEISCHER: There was real
and credible information that came in to the White House, and that is
the reason why the White House, Air Force One, took the actions that it
took, in accordance with all existing plans. And that also included,
yesterday, as those who traveled with us knew, that we were not going
to indicate where Air Force One was heading to.
Q Ari, involving
one of those planes -- one of those four planes, Ari, is that where the
credible threat, or can you say? Or are we talking about
something totally different?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, you're
asking me, in essence, what the source of information is, and I think
the American people --
Q No, haven't we
accounted for those four planes and what their targets
were? Which, by deduction, you would assume there was
something else that we're talking about targeting Air Force
One. Can we make that assumption?
MR. FLEISCHER: I am not going
to lead you any further as to speculating about what was the nature of
the threat to Air Force One. But as I indicated, and I'll
say it again, it was real, it was credible and --
Q Can you say it
was not one of the four planes that we have accounted for?
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm just not
going to speculate about the nature of it.
Q Could I ask you
this question? Was the President's original destination,
upon departure from Sarasota, Andrews Air Force Base?
MR. FLEISCHER: Again, I'm just
not going to get into those type of details about Air Force One's
operations and its locations.
Q I'm just
wondering if it was your intention to return to Washington, and then
you changed plans?
MR. FLEISCHER: Suffice it to
say, if people suspected that the likely location of a return of Air
Force One would be to Andrews Air Force Base, if the President were
returning to Washington, it would be wise, and in the interest of the
country, for Air Force One not to return to the location that would
have been predictable.
Q Ari, all the
fingers are being pointed at Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan; he is
being helped by, supported by Taliban and bases in
Pakistan. So are we talking about now going against
Afghanistan or Pakistan? And if it happened, then it is all
in the name of Islam. So is it time now for the United
States not to wait anymore, more innocent people will be killed in the
name of terrorism?
MR. FLEISCHER: I was asked
earlier about who we believe is the source of this. And I
indicated that the United States continues to gather the facts about
that information. So your question presupposes the answer,
and I'm not prepared to do that.
investigators have uncovered reams of credible information that you've
chosen not to release. Why did you decide to release this
information to us today and just this information?
MR. FLEISCHER: Because just as
the President said in his remarks this morning -- and I'm quoting from
the President -- "The American people need to know that we are facing a
different enemy than we have ever faced." And the President,
having said that, thought it was appropriate to let the American people
know the lengths to which those who perpetrated these terrorist acts
were prepared to go in an attack on our nation.
Q Were there any
other targets that we don't know about?
MR. FLEISCHER: These are the
only ones that I'm aware of, Campbell.
Q Is the President
satisfied, and should the American people be satisfied, with the
performance of the intelligence community in this country, given what
MR. FLEISCHER: The President
believes that the intelligence community and the nation's military are
the best in the world. And, clearly, something yesterday
took place in New York that was not foreseen, that we had no specific
information about. But the President's focus right now is on
helping those who have lost their -- the families of those who have
lost their lives and those who are suffering in this tragedy; and then
on taking whatever the appropriate next steps should be.
Q Does he want to
know what went wrong? Has he asked to find out where the
MR. FLEISCHER: I think at the
appropriate time the President will ask all appropriate
questions. But the President is focused now on getting help
to those who need help in New York, here at the Pentagon and on to
talking with his national security team about any appropriate actions.
Q Ari, in terms of
the President's statement this morning that this was an act of war, was
it the realization that both the White House and Air Force One were
targeted that elevated his language to talk about an act of
war? Was it a threat against the head of this country that
elevated it to that level?
MR. FLEISCHER: John, I think
that the actions against the soil of the United States are what led the
President to say that this was an act of war against the United
Q But why not use
the word "war" last night in his televised address to the
nation? What changed overnight to ratchet up that rhetoric?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think that you
are just going to continue to hear the President speak out on a regular
basis, and the President will share his thoughts with you as his
thoughts develop as a result of the conversations he has with the
security team, and as he thinks this matter through in his mind, and
shares information with the public.
Q And how much
money are you talking about in this spending request? You
know, are we correct to assume it's in the billions of dollars?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's a correct
assumption. And, again, once we have specific information,
more specific than that, I will get it to you. But the
President made it clear that this should not be an open-ended
Q But a ball park
in tens of billions?
MR. FLEISCHER: We'll have -- as
soon as the information is better developed in our conversations with
the Congress, I'm going to do my best to provide it to you in
Q What are you
hearing from the President's financial working group about a possible
timetable to reopen the markets? And how important is that
to not only investors in this country, but to the global economy?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, first of
all, on the first part of your question the Securities and Exchange
Commission, as well as the Department of Treasury, are looking at that
matter. And so I'm going to leave that answer up to them.
But, obviously, as the President said
today, the federal government and all our agencies are conducting
business, but it is not business as usual. But the President
is cognizant of the fact that it's important to get as much back on
line as quickly as is possible, and all the agencies of the government
are tasked with doing so.
Q Ari, given the
President's language today, is there any discussion here of asking
Congress for a declaration of war?
MR. FLEISCHER: You know, again,
as the President said, there were acts of war that were carried out
against our country. And the President will continue to work
with Congress on any appropriate measures at the appropriate time.
But, you know, this is also a different
situation from situations our nation has faced in the past, and the
President is cognizant of that. As the President indicated,
in this case, as we ascertain information, we are dealing, at least at
this point, with nameless, faceless people. And it is a
different type of war than it was, say, when you knew the capitol of
the country that attacked you.
So we will continue to work with the
Congress on appropriate language on the appropriate time.
Q So, just to try
to understand your answer, given what you said, since it is unclear who
has done this, or officially unclear who has done this at this point,
is it less likely that there will be a request for a declaration of
MR. FLEISCHER: No, I didn't
indicate one way or another. I said that the President will
continue to work with Congress on appropriate language at the
Q So you're not
ruling it out, then?
MR. FLEISCHER: I've answered
Q Are you planning
a major expansion in the Sky Marshals program?
MR. FLEISCHER: Jim, that's a
question that you need to talk to the Department of Transportation
about. They'll be addressing all issues dealing with airline
Q What is the
President's mood right now, his state of mind? How is he --
through the day?
MR. FLEISCHER: You know, I gave
you some indication about the meeting with members of
Congress. And I really have to say that it was a striking
meeting, in that the leaders of our nation in the Congress, regardless
of party, and in the White House, are resolute and are shoulder to
shoulder. And that is the President's mood.
I indicated yesterday that the President
is determined, and I think that is still a fitting description of the
Q There are
administration officials who are describing him as more angry than they
had ever seen him. Do you see that?
MR. FLEISCHER: I see him as
determined. There's no question that the President has
strong thoughts and strong feelings. But the President also
is focused on this matter in a way that -- again, I just go back to the
meeting he had with the members of Congress. He is focused
on rallying our nation, on helping those who need help at this time --
in New York and at the Pentagon -- expressing his sorrow to the
families involved, and ascertaining all facts and all information so
that the United States can and will do the right thing.
Q Ari, has he heard
from or reached out to former Presidents for advice, for counsel, for
MR. FLEISCHER: I don't have any
information, Kelly, about any former Presidents that he's talked to
beyond what I indicated yesterday.
Q Ari, as to the
meeting with the leaders of Congress today, does the President come out
of that thinking he has carte blanche in a response, et cetera?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, the
President does not think that. The President is going to
want to continue to consult. The President is going to
continue to lead. But the President understands that at all
times, it's important to work with Congress. But it's
particularly important now to consult with the Congress.
One of the greatest strengths of our
country is that we are a constitution-based democracy. Our
Constitution and our nation have survived acts of terror and attacks on
our nation before. And the President knows that the strength
of our nation comes from that Constitution, which gives an important
role to Congress. And he will continue to consult closely
with Congress and its leaders.
Q Ari, on the
threat to Air Force One, are you really saying that this was an
assassination plot that either went awry or was thwarted by our
reactions, the U.S. reaction?
MR. FLEISCHER: Ron, I'm not
going to speculate about that. I'm just going to share the
information that I've shared about what the targets were, and I think
you can draw your own conclusions.
Q Let me ask you
about the idea of willingness to attack those who host
terrorism. Is this a change in the U.S. policy for how we
treat these countries who may not have participated in the act, but may
have known that these terrorists were in-country? Is this a
change in U.S. policy? And, if so, where does it come from?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, you know,
I'm not -- I don't know if this is a change or not. Of
course, given the fact that President Bush has been in office, now, for
nine months, this is, I think, an example of how President Bush is
going to address this in a resolute manner. The President's
words speak for themselves about what he said and why he said it, and
everyone should be clear about what the President said.
Q Ari, the
President is outspoken about his religious faith. Can you
tell us if he's had any conversations with pastors or religious leaders
over the course of events of the last two days?
MR. FLEISCHER: You know, I have
not asked him that, so I do not know.
Q He quoted the
Bible in the speech last night. Is it safe to assume that
his religious faith is sustaining him during the crisis?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think it's
fair to say that in all things, the President's religious faith
sustains him, particularly at a time like now.
Q Before this
occurred, the Congress and the President were at odds about the budget
and about spending this year. As a result of this patriotic
meeting today, does the President have any reason to believe that that
will be resolved more easily?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think
there is no question there is a real sense from members of Congress and
the President about the importance of working together on all
issues. And as always, the government, the President, all
agencies, will continue to work closely with Congress. And
there will be other important issues that get addressed, as this
international issue gets addressed.
Q Ari, will the
President have to dip into Social Security surplus to get for these
terrorist funds? And one unrelated question: how
can you declare war against a nation when you don't know the nation
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, that's one
of the answers I gave earlier when I was asked that question --
Q You don't declare
war against an individual, surely.
MR. FLEISCHER: And that's why I
indicated that we would continue to work with the Congress on
appropriate language at the appropriate time. But as the President
just said, this is a nameless, faceless act at this
point. And so that's where the President is on that.
As for Social Security, you know, again,
the fiscal year will end on September 30th. We will have
more specific information at that time. But clearly the
situation has changed. But the President was always going to
be mindful of the economy, will always be mindful of the need to help
our nation's seniors. And that's another reason it's so
important that the government is up and functioning -- seniors are
receiving their Social Security checks.
And as the President said, it's not
business as usual. But the business of the nation and the
government is going on.
Q Does he feel he
has to have a declaration of war to go after known terrorists?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, that's
speculating about what the President is going to do, and I'm just not
going to do that.
Q No, it
isn't. I mean, this would be an MO. Would we
really go --
MR. FLEISCHER: That would
presume a certain action by the President, and so I'm not prepared to
Q Ari, you said
earlier that the President has spoken with his father. Can
you tell us, is former President George Bush any kind of adviser
throughout this crisis management?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, as I've
indicated throughout the year, when the President speaks with his
father, he speaks with him as a son, and also as someone who speaks
with former Presidents. And in all his communications with
former Presidents, the President has asked me to keep those
confidential. And I will continue to do so.
Q Ari, as a result
of the extensive briefings that the President has now had since the
attacks of yesterday morning, does he have any reason to believe that
there are any further attacks that may be planned?
MR. FLEISCHER: As the President
indicated today in his remarks, it is not business as
usual. And there are heightened security and tightened
security measures in place. He has also said that our nation
is going to move forward. So at all times, the United States
government will continue to be vigilant and protective of its
citizens. We do live in an open and free
society. But obviously the attacks that were planned
yesterday were executed yesterday.
Q Ari, on airport
security, I know that the Department of Transportation will do a
briefing, and of course the FAA is sort of putting out a directive for
tighter security standards. Is the President calling for any
review, right off the bat, now, of security procedures at airports? I
mean, does he see any more federal needs in such a way, of sort of
federalizing security at the nation's airports?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President is
confident that Secretary Mineta is fully addressing this
matter. Secretary Mineta has been in regular contact, not
only with the airlines, but also with the intelligence community, as
well as with other authorities as part of the President's team that he
has put together to address this matter -- not only in the sense of one
agency's responsibility involving travel, but also how all other
government agencies can contribute to the safety and security of the
American people in helping the Department of Transportation to carry
out its mission.
Q So is the
Secretary then conducting a review right now of all security
MR. FLEISCHER: I think that's a
question you should address directly to the Secretary.
Q Ari, has the
President started to contemplate his military
options with the national security team today?
MR. FLEISCHER: Again, any
questions dealing with what military options the President may or may
not be considering is a question, I'm sure you can appreciate, the
American people do not want answered publicly. And I'm just
not going to discuss that issue.
Q Ari, you spoke
earlier today about the President's desire to go to New York
City. Have you gone any further down that road today?
MR. FLEISCHER: John, the
President would like to go to New York City. The President's heart
goes out to those who live in New York, to the families who have lost
loved ones and to all New Yorkers, and to all Americans who look at New
York and see a beautiful skyline that is now altered.
But the President is also cognizant of the
fact that nothing should be done that would in any way hinder the
ability of those who are carrying out the rescue efforts to find
survivors and get them out. And any time the President
travels, it does create issues for people on the ground, and the
President is not going to try to do anything that would make anything
harder for the people who are carrying out their number one priority.
So at the appropriate time, the President
will go to New York. But the President's first focus is on
making sure that the rescue workers are able to conduct their jobs.
Q Can you give us a
little more detail on the President's day after, or following the
meeting with congressional leaders? Was anyone else at this
lunch with Cheney? What happened between -- after the lunch
with Cheney and right now?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President
and Vice President Cheney had lunch in the private dining room right
off the Oval Office. The President then made additional
phone calls to foreign leaders, and began a meeting just a little while
ago with his national security team.
Q Did he make any
phone calls outside of foreign leaders? Did he call anyone
MR. FLEISCHER: I only have a
rundown on the foreign leader calls, Jim.
Q Ari, about the
phone calls. I'm a little puzzled why it was necessary to
talk twice in a day to President Putin. My question is, have
the two presidents confirmed their desire to meet according to the
schedule that is known -- in China and then in Texas?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, let me
just say on the question of how many times they spoke, the President is
going to continue to reach out and talk to people, per his judgment,
about how to bring about a coalition that will rally the world against
terrorism. And it's, I think, a sign of the strength of the
world reaction in response to this act of terrorism in New York.
As for any further scheduling of events,
we're going to keep you informed about anything. But I have
no information about any changes in the President's schedule beyond the
immediate short-term. And so you should not anticipate any,
unless and until -- and you may not be advised. They may all be
underway just as planned. But events are just beginning, and
we are going to keep you informed.
Q Is an emergency
session of the G-8, though -- that the Italians seem to be suggesting
now -- is it something that the White House is considering?
MR. FLEISCHER: Questions of the
G-8 involve the finance and treasury ministers, so that's a question
you should address to Treasury.
Q Ari, can I ask
again, by saying that these are acts of war, what exactly does that
mean practically, when the President says that? Where does
that take him?
MR. FLEISCHER: That the United
States was attacked. American soil was
attacked. And the President will describe this, as he always
has and he always does, in a frank and forthright fashion.
Q And therefore, is
there -- does that pave the way for an action by Congress?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think you're
getting at a question that I've addressed earlier. I think
Q I'm just trying
again to --
MR. FLEISCHER: The words the
President used speak for themselves.
Q Ari, is the
President seeking any further Security Council action, to your
MR. FLEISCHER: At the United
MR. FLEISCHER: I don't have any
further information on that. That's something you should
talk to State about.
Q And Ari, there
are some major international gatherings scheduled in the United States
soon -- the IMF/World Bank meeting here, the U.N. General
Assembly. Is the President considering any action in regard
to those, suggesting perhaps that they be cancelled or moved?
MR. FLEISCHER: As I indicated
earlier, the President's schedule for the next several days is being
revised, so that the President can spend the maximum amount of time
focused on what has taken place. Any other events that are
on the President's schedule beyond a week, two weeks, an extended
period, we will deal with those events as they become closer.
Q Because he
believes that those should still take place as scheduled in these
MR. FLEISCHER: Terry, I think
it's too soon to say. This act of terrorism took place
yesterday, and the government is continuing to gather the facts about
it. And as decisions are made, as events come upon us per
the schedule on the calendar, we'll share those decisions with you.
Q On the phrase
"act of war", are you saying that is just a phrase describing what
happened? Or does it carry any legal, or political, or
MR. FLEISCHER: I think the
American people know that when the United States is attacked in the
manner it was attacked, this is an act of war. And I think there is no
other way to describe it. And I think that's what the
American people expect from their President, is a President who will
talk with them straight and direct about it.
Q Well, I was
asking, does it also carry some sort of legal, congressional, or
constitutional significance? Or is he just describing what
MR. FLEISCHER: Again, anything
dealing with Congress is something that the President will work
Congress on, appropriate language at the appropriate time.
Q Ari, I wonder if
you could respond to, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld talked at
length about his concerns about sloppy handling of classified
information. He says this is something that's happening
daily. Does the President share his concerns? Is
there something the President wants to do about it? And is
there any sense -- it's sort of concerned with why the Secretary
brought this up -- a sense that mishandling or sloppy handling of
classified information contributed to these four attacks?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, that's not
the sense. At a time like this, it's a very healthy reminder
to all concerned that this is not business as usual. And anybody in
the government who is in receipt of classified information must at all
times obey the law that makes that information classified for a good
reason, because it's to protect the security of the country and
individuals around the world.
Q Members of
Congress, is that what he's talking about?
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not going to
address specifically, but it's a wise reminder to all concerned.
Q Ari, is it --
going back to Air Force One, is it fair to assume that once he decided
to leave Nebraska and head for Washington, that it was -- that you were
confident that the threat was over at that point?
MR. FLEISCHER: To leave
Nebraska and head back to Washington? Yes. On the flight to
Nebraska from Louisiana, the President indicated that he wanted to get
back to Washington as soon as possible. He was advised at
that point, the recommendation to him was it would not be prudent to
return to Washington at that time, given the information that we had
here in Washington.
Following his meeting in Nebraska, the
President made the determination to return. And obviously it
was safe enough for him to do so.
Q Ari, we started
off this briefing by you saying that there was specific and credible
evidence that the plane that hit the Pentagon was originally targeted
for the White House.
MR. FLEISCHER: Correct.
Q Do you have
specific and credible evidence on the intended target of the aircraft
that went down in Pennsylvania?
MR. FLEISCHER: Do not.
Q Ari, going back
to the --
MR. FLEISCHER: Yeah, you
haven't had one yet, so let's go here and then there.
Q Ari, Secretary
Powell said today that he had also spoken to Chairman Arafat, with
Sharon, and with Shimon Peres, indicating that he also wants to try and
get some motion into discussions in the Middle East. Now, given that
this incident may be totally unconnected with anything going on in the
Middle East, doesn't the President now feel that perhaps the volatility
which has existed there probably should -- more measures must be taken
to get that to subside?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think from the
President's point of view, this is a wake-up call to all concerned that
terrorism must be combatted in all its forms and in every
way. And this presents people with an opportunity to work
together now, to move beyond the disputes of the past. And
we'll see what events unfold as a result of this.
Q Ari, will we see
the President again today, or hear from him?
MR. FLEISCHER: We'll keep you