For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 13, 2001
Press Briefing by
By Ari Fleischer
President's Calls to World Leaders/Coalition..........1, 8-9
National Day of Prayer and Rembrance.......................2
Secret Service/Perimeter Around the White House.......2, 6-8
President's Visit to Washington Hospital Center............3
War Powers Act/Congressional Resolution.......3-4, 11, 13-15
Pakistan/President's Remarks...................4-6, 9, 15-16
Wolfowitz/Remarks on Harboring Terrorists..................6
Air Force One Threat.......................................8
Secretary Powell's Remarks/Bin Laden..................10, 13
Secretary Mineta/Sky Marshals.............................10
United Kingdom/Response to Attack......................10-11
President's Travel to New York.........................11-12
$20 Billion Supplemental...............................13-14
Presidents Bush/Views on Intelligence..................16-17
the White House
3:15 P.M. EDT
MR. FLEISCHER: Good
afternoon. I want to give everybody a report on the
President's activities for the day, and then share with you some
information about what the various agencies are doing to combat this
Q Can you tell us
about the evacuation of the EOB?
MR. FLEISCHER: There is no
evacuation of the EOB.
MR. FLEISCHER: No.
Q And Lafayette
MR. FLEISCHER: I'll be
The President today has made a series of
phone calls to world leaders. He has spoken to Prime Minister Koizumi
of Japan, Prime Minister Berlusconi of Italy, Lord Robertson of NATO,
Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and Egyptian President Mubarak.
As you know, earlier today he spoke with
Mayor Giuliani and Governor Pataki to express his concerns about events
up in New York and inform them, of course, that he will be going there
tomorrow. The President also visited a local hospital
today. I'm going to have a little bit more to say about that
And beginning in just a few minutes, the
President will meet with members of Congress from the Virginia area and
the New York area to talk about the ongoing efforts of the federal
government to be of assistance to the families and to the victims.
Tomorrow will be a National Day of Prayer
and Remembrance. The President will attend a church service
here at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. And the
President is asking all Americans at their lunch hours to go and attend
a church, a synagogue, a mosque, a place of their own choosing for
worship, to say a prayer in assistance to the families and the victims
of this horrible incident.
As for the activities of the federal
government, let me fill you in on several activities, including the one
Helen just asked about.
The Department of Defense will be
announcing the names of those who were killed in the Pentagon disaster,
if families have been notified, for those families that have been
The Department of Housing and Urban
Development announced that they will direct all FHA approved lenders to
provide relief to families with FHA insured mortgages affected by the
recent attacks by providing additional mortgage flexibility and not to
start or threaten foreclosure actions for at least 90
days. Secretary Martinez has also asked all major mortgage
lenders, including those who are not insured by FHA, to consider
providing relief to families, as well.
The Department of Treasury, in conjunction
with the Department of Justice, has announced the deployment of agents
from U.S. Marshal Service, U.S. Border Control, and U.S. Customs, at
designated airport security checkpoints throughout the country as part
of the heightened security measures that have gone into effect.
The Secret Service has expanded the
security perimeter around the White House, as what you have seen here,
as a precautionary matter. All further questions I'll refer
to the Secret Service.
The Department of Transportation,
Secretary Mineta has ordered that national airspace will be reopened to
commercial and private aviation. They did so earlier this
morning. Airports will reopen on a case-by-case basis only
after implementing a more stringent level of security.
The Department of Justice, in conjunction
with the Department of Treasury, I indicated, has beefed up the
security at the airports. And the President has directed
Attorney General Ashcroft, and he announced it earlier today, to
streamline the application, approval, and payment process for benefit
claims of eligible survivors or firefighters, police officers, medical
rescue personnel and other public safety officers who died in the line
of duty as a result of the act of terrorism around our nation on
September 11, 2001.
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Tommy Thompson is in New York. He has announced that the Department of
Health and Human Services will be working with the Federal Emergency
Management Administration to provide coordinating counseling service to
victims, their families, and the rescue workers. And the
Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Whitman, is also in
New York today, and she will be having a briefing at 5:00 p.m.
Finally, let me just say
this: The President was very touched by his visit to the
hospital today. At the hospital, he met with people who are
in a burn unit now, who have survived. Some people are there
as a result of the heroic actions they took in saving
lives. The President met with one family where a mother
stood by the bed of her son, in the company of the soldier who rescued
her son. And she said, Mr. President, you have no idea how
much this means to my family, that you are here.
He and Mrs. Bush were very touched by the
courage they saw at this hospital, and by the determination of our
nation and its military, and all the people that were affected by this,
and the people in New York City. The President is also aware that
people in this room haven't seen their children in days.
The President is determined, his resolve
is clear and strong, and America is united.
I'm more than happy to take your
Q Ari, why did --
the President is not legally bound to seek a resolution from Congress
authorizing the use of military force against whoever is responsible
for these terrorist acts. And indeed, he already has a
resolution from Congress showing solidarity in any response that he
chooses to undertake. Why does the President believe it's
necessary to have a separate resolution authorizing the use of military
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the
President views this as a real show of unity by the United States
Congress. This is a real result of the expression of the
bipartisan, bicameral leadership that met with the President two days
ago to discuss Congress' role in this matter. So while the
premise of your question is accurate, per the Constitution, the
President as Commander-in-Chief has authority vested in him to take
actions as he deems appropriate. It is also a recognition of
the unity of our nation as expressed by the Congress.
Q Can I do a follow
on that, Ari, please? If it is actual war, as the President
and others in the administration have declared, does he indeed not need
a congressional approval to wage war on anyone? And the
second part of the question -- yesterday you said from that podium that
the plane that hit the Pentagon was destined to hit
here. And yet the plane came up from the south along I-95
and hit the west wing -- it doesn't seem to figure. Can you
perhaps clarify for us?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, on your
first question, the answer is the same as I indicated to Mr.
Roberts. The Constitution vests in the President the
authority as Commander-in-Chief to take action in that capacity he
deems appropriate. Nevertheless, our nation should be
heartened to see the joint action with the Congress, as the United
States government unites, and the President and the Congress discuss
the terms of any type of joint resolution that the Congress may offer.
On the second question, I think we've
really exhausted that topic. I've got nothing further to add.
Q Ari, the
President said this morning that he wanted to give Pakistan the
opportunity to demonstrate that it can cooperate in this coalition he's
trying to develop. State Department sources are telling ABC
that the administration has asked the Pakistani government for
permission to transit through its airspace in the event of a military
operation, to close its borders with Afghanistan, and to stop providing
fuel to the Taliban government. Why? And what
would happen to Pakistan if it did not comply?
MR. FLEISCHER: Terry, the
President indicated that Pakistan has a chance to cooperate with the
United States government. And the President is pleased to
see that Pakistan may take this chance. Secretary Powell
indicated earlier today that the United States government has friendly
relations with Pakistan. I want to broaden your question and
try to explain it to you in a broader context. When the
President talked to these leaders --
Q Did the
administration made those requests?
MR. FLEISCHER: You know I'm not
going to share with you any private information that the President or
others in the government expressed on any communications, if they
did. I'm not saying they did.
Q There are
government officials sharing that information, and it's pretty
significant. Are we looking to transit through Pakistani
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not going to
deal with any type of specifics about the actions we are taking or are
not taking with regions around the world and nations around the world.
But let me say this: As the
President calls world leaders, and as they join him in combatting
terrorism, the actions that the President is discussing with these
leaders involve all forms of cooperation. It can be
diplomatic cooperation, it can be military cooperation, it can be
financial cooperation. It can be political
cooperation. All of those are areas that are part of the
coalition-building that the President is discussing. Secretary Powell
indicated earlier today that that is the purpose of all the phone
calls. It can include any of those options.
Q And the President
seemed to put Pakistan on notice. What if they don't
comply? He said, we'll see what they mean by their agreement
to cooperate. What if they don't?
MR. FLEISCHER: Terry, I
typically don't deal in hypotheticals. I certainly will not
deal with them now.
Q Ari, if I can
follow on that, though, in a sense, though, is the message that actions
speak louder than words here? That the Pakistani government
can say that it's pledging to stand united with the U.S. government,
that it will do what it takes, but is it your sense or the White
House's sense that we want to see what the Pakistani government will
do, and that actions are more important than a statement?
MR. FLEISCHER: This is the
beginning of a process that can be lengthy. And the
cooperation around the world is going to take many forms with the
government of the United States. And the President, as
you've seen by his actions today and the phone calls that he's making
-- which, incidentally, he will continue to make -- are aimed at the
various specific areas I mentioned. And the President understands that
this is a process that will take some time. And
he will proceed throughout that process with resolve.
Q How significant,
though, for the Pakistani government to come forward with such a
statement? Was the U.S. putting some pressure on the
Pakistani government, are you with us or not?
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm going to let
the State Department discuss that specific by specific, country by
country. Suffice it to say the President, as a general
matter, is very pleased with the conversations that have been happening
with leaders around the world. The world is uniting against
terrorism. And the President sees this as a real opportunity
for the world to do something that can save generations and protect
generations from something that obviously has wreaked havoc on our
nation, and has killed thousands.
Q Ari, could you
tell us about what is happening in Lafayette Park? And could you also
tell us whether the White House, the Secret Service, thinks that
tourists and the American public are safe visiting the White House
right now? And indeed, are they safe visiting downtown
Washington, D.C., and other parts of the city?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, they are
safe visiting the White House. Yes, they are safe visiting
Washington, D.C. Suffice it to say, it is not business as
usual. And that is one of the reasons why the Secret Service
has expanded the perimeter around the White House. But it is
not business as usual. The President said to the American
people the other day that the government will take all appropriate
precautions. And that's what you're seeing.
you. Is that a permanent expansion, and will we be seeing
permanent road closures in addition to Pennsylvania
Avenue? What can you tell us about that?
MR. FLEISCHER: The Secret
Service will have the most authoritative answer on that, but my
understanding is it's not permanent.
Q Ari, you reopened
the White House yesterday to public tours and wanted to get that word
out. Are you now rethinking that decision for some reason?
MR. FLEISCHER: Let me check on
the public tours. I don't know what the status of that is.
Q When Mr.
Wolfowitz talked about putting an end to states that harbor terrorists,
did he mean to say that U.S. policy is to wipe out governments that
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I can only
say, in the President's words and as the President said, the U.S. will
use all our resources to conquer the enemy. And anybody who
chooses to be America's enemy will have to think about what that
Q Ari, to clarify,
we have people telling our reporters that they have been evacuated from
the White House. Is that inaccurate?
MR. FLEISCHER: There's no
evacuation underway. If anybody in the OEOB is listening,
there is no evacuation underway. These are security
precautions, as I indicated, for precisely the reasons I indicated.
Q Is that true also
for Lafayette Park?
MR. FLEISCHER: I believe the
Q I mean, why don't
you just say what's happening? Are people being moved out of
the OEOB? No? And Lafayette Park?
MR. FLEISCHER: Helen, I just
said no. The perimeter is being expanded, but that deals
with entre to the White House, but the White House will continue to
have visitors. For example, there's a congressional
delegation visiting now.
Q Well, what does
it mean? Can people be in Lafayette Park, anybody?
MR. FLEISCHER: You have to
check with the Secret Service.
Q Why? The order is coming from
MR. FLEISCHER: Because the
Secret Service knows exactly how the perimeters work.
Q Is there credible
information of a new threat, or what prompted them to do this on day
MR. FLEISCHER: This is just
ongoing security issues per the Secret Service.
Q I mean, they had
a broader perimeter on the first day. Then they came
back. Now they're expanding it back out. Is this
a result of some new information?
MR. FLEISCHER: If you look
across cities across the United States, if you look at all the actions
that have been taken, as the President said, it's not business as
usual. Security has been beefed up around the nation as a
result of decisions that local security forces make as they see fit.
Q Is this a result
of new information, or just a -- they decided for today to expand it to
MR. FLEISCHER: I think the
Secret Service can explain their reasons with better precision that I
can, but the President did tell the nation, it will not be business as
usual, and I think what you're seeing is a sign of that.
Q I know you don't
want to go back to this subject, but the President, when he was asked
today about the threat to Air Force One, said, I will not discuss the
intelligence that our country has gathered. And yet, you and
other senior administration officials have discussed the
intelligence. Does he have a problem with
that? Is there some sort of different policy? Is
this something that he has authorized you to share with us?
MR. FLEISCHER: What the
President said is he is not going to discuss the sources and the
methods for how any information is collected. And that's
exactly in keeping with what I've done and what I've said.
Q But, Ari, prior
to your statement yesterday on that subject, no other law enforcement
-- no law enforcement agency involved in this -- the FBI, the Secret
Service, any of the branches of the military -- gave any hint that Air
Force One had been a target. And so, clearly, once you put
that out there, people are going to want to know more information about
whether or not that's a credible assertion. And what can you
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think
that people understand it's credible.
Q Ari, this morning
you would not -- you could not nail down what was the purpose of the
President's phone calls regarding coalition. But this
afternoon you come back with an answer that the President is really
asking world leaders for military, financial, so forth,
help. Is that right -- do I have that right?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's exactly
what I said.
Q Okay. Is there a coalition now
being formed formally?
MR. FLEISCHER: I don't think
you can say "formally." The President -- this is exactly
what you would expect; this is what Presidents do. At a time
like this, the President of the United States, as the leader of this
country, talks to his colleagues around the world, Prime Ministers and
Q What is he
asking? Is he asking for specific sums and men in uniform,
and so forth, to join in an effort?
MR. FLEISCHER: He's asking for
what I just indicated.
Q It's more than
moral support then?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's a fair
Q It's practical
action in response to terrorism?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's correct.
Q Ari, when the
President spoke in the Oval Office he seemed to go beyond just
terrorists and those who harbor terrorists to say those who encourage
their actions. And I wonder, who did he -- I wonder, what
did he mean by that, and who -- which of the world leaders was he
trying to send a message to, or did he discuss that
with? Because it seemed to go beyond what he's already
MR. FLEISCHER: No, I think when
the President talks about those who carried out this act and those who
harbor them, obviously those who harbor them have encouraged
them. So it's one in the same.
Q If I could
finish, how many world leaders has he spoken to since the beginning,
and can we get a list of all those?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I've been
announcing them day by day. I'd have to go back and just
pull it, but that's publicly available -- you've got it
all. I mentioned yesterday he spoke to President Putin
twice, President Jiang, Blair, Chretien, I believe Chirac,
Schroeder. So you can do the math.
Q Okay. Since I have you attention,
just one last bit --
MR. FLEISCHER: Three
Q When do you think
Washington will return to normal? And what is normal, now
that this has happened?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think for the
American people -- not just for Washington, but for the people of New
York City and for the people of Washington -- it's going to take some
time. There was an attack on the soil of the United States
of America, and people should not expect this to be over, overnight.
Q Secretary Powell
has said that bin Laden is the prime candidate for these terrorist
attacks. Is that the view of the White House? And
secondly, can you straighten out for us whether or not the
administration intends to use military personnel as sky marshals, or in
any other way, to secure civilian aircraft flights?
MR. FLEISCHER: On your first
question, I think what the Secretary said was -- he was asked a
question about is bin Laden a suspect, and he indicated
yes. I don't think he said "prime," but I'd have to check
the record on that. But he did indicate yes.
On the question of the military, Jim, I
just -- I'll have to find out from the Department of
Transportation. When you asked me this morning I tried to
refer you to Transportation. I don't have that information
Q Well, Secretary
Mineta said they were going to use the Delta Force. And then
an administration official said Mineta was "flat wrong," that that was
not going to happen, and the Pentagon indicated they might use military
people to train. Almost everyone seems to have a slightly
different version of whether or not military people will be used in
civilian law enforcement.
MR. FLEISCHER: Let me see if I
can't get to the bottom of it.
questions. Do you have any special words for what the United
Kingdom has done. The statements they've made are very
strong, and today they played "The Star-Spangled Banner" when they had
the changing of the guard.
FLEISCHER: Yes. And I noticed today also, the
United States is not the only nation that mourns. The United
Kingdom has lost the lives of many of their citizens. Other
nations also had their citizens working at the World Trade
Center. And so it's a further expression of the wonderful
solidarity that the world is showing with the United
States. I think it's very touching for the United Kingdom to
play America's National Anthem.
Q Ari, just one
more. Can there be war without a formal national enemy?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, as the
President has indicated, this is a different type of enemy in the 21st
century. The President said, this enemy is nameless; this
enemy is faceless; this enemy has no specific borders. This
enemy does not have airplanes sitting on tarmacs and it does not have
ships that move from one port city to the next. It is a
different kind of enemy. Having said that, the President
also knows that our nation's military is capable of carrying out
whatever mission is assigned to it to conquer any enemies.
Q Ari, could I just
clarify the answer to John's question -- is it the White House view
that whatever action is taken and whatever the scale and duration of
the action, that you need no further approval from
Congress. You'd like something from Congress, but you don't
need anything else from Congress?
MR. FLEISCHER: I'll say it for
the third time -- the Constitution vests in the President as Commander
in Chief the authority to take actions he deems necessary to protect
and defend the United States. The President is also very
encouraged as the result of working with Congress on this joint
resolution, which is a real show of unity from the
Congress. And the White House will work with Congress on
Q So that's a yes,
right? That's you need no further approval?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think I made
it very clear.
Q Just to follow on
that note. The War Powers Act does call for approval if
troops are going to be put in harm's way.
MR. FLEISCHER: As with many
previous administrations, there are questions about the
constitutionality of some aspects of the War Powers Act, and this
administration shares those questions.
Q Yes, but in most
of those previous cases, we're looking at largely air
assaults. But is it your position that --
MR. FLEISCHER: That's not
accurate. There have been some 125 military actions that
took place in the United States, and I believe only 5 involved
declarations of war.
Q Ari, can you tell
us anything about the special security precautions tomorrow for the
President's trip to New York? Are there going to be fighter
jets on each wing of Air Force One, for example, like there were on
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, actually,
I do not know the answer to that question, and if I did I'm not sure
I'd be able to share in all cases. But suffice it to say
that the President has full confidence in the Secret Service and those
who protect him.
Q Will he travel
with his whole contingent? Will he -- the usual presidential
motorcade that we see, the enormous beast that lands in a place and
takes over town -- will he do that in New York tomorrow?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think, Terry,
it will be a smaller enormous beast.
Q Ari, when he's
going to travel -- you said that we wouldn't go to New York as long as
his being there would create a hindrance to those trying to rescue
workers, people cleaning up the debris.
MR. FLEISCHER: Exactly right.
Q When they're
still pulling people alive out of that rubble, how do you keep him out
of the way and from being a distraction?
MR. FLEISCHER: Because in
conversations with Mayor Giuliani and Governor Pataki, they talked
about how it would be appropriate -- it would be appropriate and
meaningful for the President to go to New York. And so all
factors are taken into consideration. And of course, the
President wouldn't go under any other circumstances.
Q So are you saying
he'll keep his distance from actual "ground zero"?
MR. FLEISCHER: You'll
see. Just as when he visited the Pentagon yesterday, you'll
Q What is he going
to do there --
Q You talked about
the business -- or the individuals with mortgage help, et
cetera. What about the businesses that have been wiped out?
Where is the administration thinking of putting some help in that
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, also, as a
result of the $20 billion supplemental appropriation bill that is
moving its way through Congress, that will provide the means to give
assistance to many people -- businesses, otherwise, all who have
suffered in this.
Q Ari, Secretary
Powell is saying bin Laden is a prime suspect. Is the
administration, the U.S. confident, or does the U.S. know of his
whereabouts, where he is?
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not going to
give any answers to that question.
Q Since the
mid-1970s, the U.S. has had an executive ban in place on
assassinations. Is the President considering lifting that?
MR. FLEISCHER: All the
President's actions will be in concert with all laws, and I have no
information for you beyond that.
Q Ari, on that
point, is there anything, any restriction, that the administration
believes is hampering the intelligence community's efforts to deal with
terrorism? Are there any restrictions, either self-imposed
by the agency or by the intelligence community, or by Congress, that
you think need to be eliminated?
MR. FLEISCHER: I have not heard
of any such conversations. As always, on all these matters,
as the President indicated today, the government will keep you informed
of any steps it thinks are necessary. But I have not heard anything.
Q On the $20
billion supplemental, OMB, as you know, says there's only $1 billion
left in fiscal year 2001 that's on budget, or that's not Social
Security. Is it accurate to say that that money can still be
expended and be considered, without use of Social Security surplus
funding, depending on the timing of when that funding is released?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think there's
been a virtually universal, if not universal, recognition by members of
the Congress and by the President that our national security will
always come first.
Q I'm sorry, just
for clarification purposes then, this is considered a severe emergency
and, therefore, it's money that's being taken from the Social Security
surplus fund under that?
MR. FLEISCHER: I indicated two
days ago that this was a severe emergency.
Q OMB was giving
differing advice, and it depended on the time that the money is
actually spent. And it does not necessarily mean you even
have to use those funds. I'm just trying to get that
MR. FLEISCHER: I indicated this
is a severe emergency. I also said that the fiscal year, of
course, does not close until September 30th, so we will know more at
that time. But national security will come first.
Q Ari, the word
"war" is being bandied around here so much. But that word,
in and of itself, carries such a constitutional connotation, et cetera,
and creates a confrontation with Congress, or whatever. Is
it possible we'll see a ratcheting down of the rhetoric with the
MR. FLEISCHER: I think you're
going to see consistent actions by the administration, and statements
of resolve and determination by the President, just as you've been
Q Ari, the 1991 war
resolution that Congress passed put some limitations on what the
President could do. Would that be --
something like that be satisfactory to this President
Bush? Or would you like something that's more open-ended?
MR. FLEISCHER: We're dealing
with hypotheticals here. Congress, today, is considering a
joint resolution to express its support for the President as a show of
unity. And we're talking with the Congress very productively
about the appropriate language to use in that. And that's
where the administration is focused today.
Q So you would see
this as more a general resolution of support, and not the kind of thing
that his father sought, his father got from Congress in 1991?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, to be
parliamentary, it is a joint resolution.
Q Well, it's not
Q Did you
understand my question? I mean, I'm saying -- it's one thing
to pass a, you know, "resolved, we support the President," and quite
another to pass what was enacted in 1991, which said the President can
take military action under these conditions.
MR. FLEISCHER: This is all very
public. This is a joint resolution that is going to move on
Capitol Hill. And you'll be able to review the language of
it yourself. And I think there are going to be some
comparisons that may be apt to 1991, others that will not
be. This is 2001, and this is different.
Q Did the White
House suggest language for this?
FLEISCHER: Sure. We're working with Congress on
Q Ari, as law
enforcement officials proceed in trying to apprehend individuals inside
the United States who may have knowledge or have been involved in the
attack, what is the President telling law enforcement officials in
terms of what actions can they take? Should people be
prepared to see, say, phone taps that haven't been used in the
past? What kind of civil liberties does the President think
should be -- or defended?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think you need
to talk to the Attorney General about the actions that they are
taking. They will be in accordance with the law, of course.
Q Ari, earlier
today, White House officials expanded on the threat
against Air Force One, saying that there was a telephone threat to
the Secret Service, that Air Force One was on a target
list. As the three successful attacks were all sneak attacks
with no prior warning, why did you put credence in the telephone
MR. FLEISCHER: Again, you're
getting into evaluations that involve the area of how the
administration -- in this case Secret Service, the White House --
obtains information. And I think we've exhausted that.
Q Earlier today,
the President said that fighting terrorism would be the main focus now
of the administration. I'm curious, what does that do now on
the pipeline to other priorities -- education and so on?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think if you
talk to the American people, you would hear from them directly, and
from their hearts, that our nation has no higher priority than the
security of our people. Make no mistake: American soil has
been attacked. And I think the American people fully
understand and appreciate what the President said. It is a
reflection of what the American people are thinking and are feeling,
and the President shares those thoughts.
Q I'm sure he's
aware of -- but his own thinking. How does he now sort of
program or sequence some of these other items on his agenda?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the
domestic agenda will continue. The President will continue
to work with Congress. I think that the pace of action will
be determined by the Congress, and, of course, the administration will
remain engaged with the Congress on all these issues. In fact, there
is a meeting that will begin shortly, if it hasn't begun already, that
I will need to go to with congressional leaders
and the President.
Q Ari, just to
follow that, does the President believe as a general rule that Congress
ought to -- you know, in the interests of unity, ought to set some of
these controversial issues aside, and do them maybe next year,
MR. FLEISCHER: You know, I
think what you're going to see is Democrats and Republicans alike
uniting on all kinds of areas. I can't guess with
specificity what the domestic future will look like. But
based on the meeting the President had with the congressional leaders
yesterday, I think it's fair to say that there is a different domestic
Q So they should
put those things aside, then, is that correct? Do them next
year, and so forth?
MR. FLEISCHER: Our nation's
leaders in Congress remain men and women of principle, and they will
take the actions that they think are in the national
interest. And I think as events unfold on the domestic front
this fall, leaders of Congress and the rank and file of Congress will
show those principles, and our government will unite.
Q Ari, former
President Bush spoke today, and expressed dissatisfaction with the
quality of our human intelligence. Does the President, the
current President Bush, share his father's concern about failures in
human intelligence? And if so, what does he plan to do about
MR. FLEISCHER: Joe, at an
appropriate time, the President will be more willing to look
back. But his focus right now is on what needs to be done in
the wake of the attack on the United States.
Q To what extent
was the former President serving as a proxy for this President when he
made those remarks? And was there any coordination?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think, if I'm
not mistaken, all the former Presidents issued statements and had
things to say. And former President Bush, even though he is
the father of the present President Bush, is fully able and does
express his own opinions.
Q But to what
extent was he expressing opinions of this President?
MR. FLEISCHER: As I indicated,
the President is focused on the terrorist attack and what to do about
it. He is not focused on the past.
Q But Ari, does he
believe, though, as his father said, that he thinks the CIA's hands
happen to be tied, and that it needs, the agency needs to be able to
deal with those "unsavory elements" to get the really good --
MR. FLEISCHER: My answer is the
same as I indicated earlier.
Thank you, I've got to get into the
meeting. Thank you.
END 3:45 P.M. EDT