For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 19, 2001
Press Briefing by
National Security Advisor, Dr. Condoleezza Rice
the James S. Brady Briefing Room
5:38 P.M. EDT
DR. RICE: Good afternoon,
everyone. I'm here principally to answer
questions. But I thought I might just give you a little feel
for what today has been like for the President.
He has, of course, had several meetings,
including a very successful with President Megawati of
Indonesia. He took that opportunity at this meeting, which
was planned before, but, nevertheless, came in the middle of this
situation, to express to President Megawati -- where there is, of
course, the largest Muslim population in the world in Indonesia -- his
very great desire that everyone understand that America believes that
the terrorism that we experienced is not the work of Islam, it is not
the work of Islamic people, it is not the work of Arabs, it is the work
of extremists. And he used the opportunity again to
underscore his message of tolerance that he has been underscoring all
He also met with German Foreign Minister
Joschka Fischer, who delivered a message of support from Chancellor
Gerhardt Schroeder; with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov of Russia, who
did the same from President Putin. And he had a couple of
phone calls this morning -- one with President Mbeki of South Africa,
and another with President Kim Dae Jung of South Korea.
The President has met with his National
Security Council this morning. The pattern is that he meets with his
National Security Council in the morning. He chairs those
meetings, himself. And then the principals reassemble later
in the day to share notes, to consult and coordinate, and to prepare
the next day's national security meeting.
The President also received the leadership
of the Congress, the two House leaders, Speaker Hastert, Leader
Gephardt, and the two Senate leaders, Senator Daschle and Senator
Lott. And he was delighted to receive from Speaker Hastert
an invitation to go and address the Joint Session of Congress
So it was a very busy day, but I think
again, a very successful day as the President begins to lay out the
first phases of this campaign that he wants to underscore is going to
be a very long campaign in this war against terrorism.
Q Condi, will you
tell us what he hopes to accomplish tomorrow? And will the American
people have any better idea of who he's going to strike, where he's
going to strike, when he's going to strike, what he's going to strike?
DR. RICE: Ron, this is not a
speech to announce military action. The President has made
very clear that he intends to be patient, that he is going to review
his options, that he is going to look for ways to be effective in
whatever it is that we do, and that we are now launched on a long
So what the President will do tomorrow is
to use the opportunity to talk to the American people about the kind of
threat that we face. The American people have a lot of
questions about what kind of people would do this to the United States,
why this kind of hate would exist against the United
States. So we'll get a clearer picture of the enemy that
I think the President is going to use this
as an opportunity to talk about the sustained nature of this campaign,
that this cannot be a campaign that is thought of like the Gulf War,
where there was a capital with a leadership that one understood fully
in the way that we traditionally understood leadership. I
think he will use it as an opportunity to urge patience and reason, and
to demonstrate again that his resolve is going to be over a long period
of time, not in a single moment.
One other thing, Ron, I would just like to
mention is that he's going to talk about what Americans can do to
prepare for this effort, and he's going to talk some about the nature
of the support that we're getting from around the world, which is
really quite extraordinary. I think everybody understood
that this was not just an attack on America, this was an attack on
Q You said that the
President reiterated the message of tolerance and the importance that
this is not a campaign against Islam or Arab nations,
generally. Has it been communicated to the administration
from those nations from that part of the world that you've been talking
to recently that it is a highly critical thing for the President to do,
not just once, but over and over and over again? And
President Megawati has returned to the building; we've seen her enter
the West Wing just a few moments ago. Can you tell us with
whom she is meeting and what we can read into that?
DR. RICE: I believe President
Megawati was scheduled a long time ago during this to have a meeting
with the Vice President. She's meeting with the Vice
President. But it was not arranged hastily or anything like
that; it was scheduled as a part of her program.
In terms of the tolerance message, it was
very much the President's instinct from the very beginning that it was
extremely important that he, first as President of the United States,
make very clear that we had a lot of Muslims in the United States of
America who are patriotic people, who salute the flag just like all of
us do, who were appalled and saddened by what happened on September
11th, and that we are a country that judges people not by their
religious beliefs or by their color, by the fact that we're all
So that was the first part of the
message. The second part of the message is that we have a
lot of friends around the world who are Muslim. We have countries that
are long friends of the United States who are of the Islamic
faith. And the President wanted to be very clear that this
is not a war of "civilizations," that this is not a war against
Islam. This is a war against people who in many ways pervert
what Islam stands for. Islam stands for peace and stands for
nonviolence. And he wanted to make that very, very clear.
Q If I may follow
DR. RICE: Yes, sure.
Q -- did that need
become more pronounced after the President invoked the word "crusade"
on Sunday, and that raised some alarms within the Muslim community in
America and internationally?
DR. RICE: This has been part of
our -- the message from the very beginning. And in every
conversation that the President has had with leaders of all countries,
but also with Muslim countries, he has been saying this from the very
Q Is the President
prepared for the inevitable comparisons with President Roosevelt,
vis-a-vis tomorrow's speech?
DR. RICE: Well, I think the
President is going to deliver the speech on its own
terms. But it allows an interesting point, which is that
this isn't Pearl Harbor. I know that there are a lot of
comparisons to Pearl Harbor, but this is different. And it's
different in a lot of ways. This is the first war of the
In that case, we had a country with a
capital, with marching armies and beaches to storm, and islands to
take, and in the last war, deserts to cross. That is not the
nature of this war. There will be, undoubtedly, some things
that our military forces and the military forces of others can
do. But this is also a war of will and mind. It
is a war in which information may be the most important asset that we
have. And so we're asking a lot of countries to help us with
information. These are not traditional enemies, and so he's
going to have a very different task.
Q -- will have a
different speech for us than the one Roosevelt delivered?
DR. RICE: This is a speech that
will seek to start to broaden and deepen the American people's
understanding, indeed, people around the world -- the understanding of
what it is we face and how we're going to have to face
it. Because we're in this for the long haul.
Q Condi, does the
President believe and will he try to prepare people tomorrow night for
some sort of sense of sacrifice? For instance, we're already
talking about spending some $100 billion on things other than what it
would have been spent on. Clearly, something has to give.
DR. RICE: I think that every
American understands that life changed on September
11th. Now, what didn't change is our way of
life. And we have to, as the President said when he welcomed
workers back here at the White House Complex, it's every American's
duty to try to get back to doing the things that make us
American: Going to work and going to shop and taking your
kids to school.
But there is no doubt that the country
faced a severe shock and blow. And we have to respond to
that. And he said to the leaders that this country is going
to respond and its leadership is going to respond. He's been
heartened by the fact of unity between the Congress and the Executive
Branch on exactly this point.
But, yes, this is going to be a time of
sacrifice. I think the President is not afraid to say that,
and he will make that case.
Q Dr. Rice, a lot
of nations around the world are calling for the United States to act
with restraint, China, Egypt, Jordan, saying that we should act with
restraint. Some are even suggesting we operate through
multilateral institutions. What's the balance between this
coalition-building that the President is doing, and the U.S. exercising
its right under the UN Charter to act unilaterally?
DR. RICE: The United States
faces a situation in which we really are in a situation of
self-defense. If no one believes that these are dangerous
people to the health and well-being of the United States, then just
look again at that tape on September 11th.
I would caution that this is a different
kind of coalition. This is not the Gulf War coalition where
we all mobilize our military forces and march off to war after 100
days. This is a coalition in which I think a lot of states
have recognized that this is not just an attack on the United States,
this is an attack on freedom-loving peoples everywhere. This
is an attack that was meant to generate maximum fear in countries that
don't want to close their borders, that don't want to act in a fearful
Now, there are going to be a lot of
different fronts in this war; some on the information side, some on the
financial side, some on the military side, some on other
fronts. And I think that we will have broad support,
different countries are going to play different roles. There
are going to be countries that you may never hear of their
contribution. But it might actually be the most important
contribution in locating this network.
So this is a different kind of
coalition. The President is absolutely committed to doing
what the United States has to do. But I think that we have
tremendous support and understanding that there have to be several
phases to this, and this has to go on for a long time.
Q A quick
follow-up. Does the U.S. feel constrained at all by the
calls from other nations, especially as time passes and the urgency of
the moment fades -- does the United States feel constrained about
DR. RICE: The President's made
clear that he's not going to lose his focus. And with every
foreign leader -- and I've sat in now on lots of meetings with leaders
-- every conversation is about how the world cannot lose its focus on
what happened; cannot start to get back to normal life -- we want to do
that -- but forget that this is a threat that is out there and that
will strike again if we don't take the necessary measures to root it
out, to draw them out of their holes, as the President said, to bring
them to justice. And so we are not going to lose focus, and
we don't think that the rest of the world will lose focus.
But the main thing here is to do something
effective; to do something effective in the first phases, but also to
continue to do something effective over the long haul.
Q In my mind, the
President left the impression today that in terms of
coalition-building, the first objective is that the U.S. has the right
and the obligation to retaliate against those who are responsible for
the World Trade Center attacks and the attack on the Pentagon, and that
that's first. And that for the longer part of the sustained
effort, the coalition-building may come after that. Is that
a fair reading?
DR. RICE: No, I think that we
believe that this first phase in which the President demonstrates, if
you will, that what he said about being determined to root out those
who perpetrated this act and those who harbor them -- in other words,
that there isn't a distinction here -- that that is an important part
of the next phase of this; that you have to be able to demonstrate to
states that might harbor terrorists that that's not going to be a good
thing to do in the future, and to give states that have been harboring
terrorism a chance to change their ways.
But the President is committed to the
coalition because the coalition is being committed to
him. And I want to caution: Talking about the
coalition again, we tend to think of the last war and we tend to think
of the way that the Gulf War coalition was put together. But
countries are going to contribute different things. And the
most important contributions may come down the road as we deal with the
financial networks of these organizations, that we deal with rooting
them out of countries in which they are burrowed in and ready to
This is a long conflict, a long struggle,
and there are going to be a lot of different contributions along the
road from a lot of different countries.
Q As you say, the
President isn't going to announce military action tomorrow night, so
what will he say that we have not already heard from him? Is
he going to tell us anything new?
DR. RICE: The President will
take this opportunity to make a case, I think, to the American people
of why we are entering this long struggle and to understand better its
nature. This is not something that is going to be over in a
matter of months. And so the President feels, I think, an
obligation to bring the American people along with him in his thinking,
to bring them along with him in his deepening understanding of what it
is we face, to understand that there may be sacrifice along the
way. Also to rally the country and the world to understand
that this really is an attack on freedom. It's a chance to
bring this together in a way that lays the foundation for what is
really going to be a long struggle.
Q Did the President
today, Condi, sign any deployment order, as was reported on at least
network, regarding additional airplanes to the Gulf region, to beef up
the no-fly zone forces there and potentially clear up other forces to
deal with something in Central Asia?
DR. RICE: The United States is
repositioning some of its forces to support the President's
goal. I'm not going to talk about operational matters or
further about troop movements. I can refer you to the
Pentagon for anything further. But we are repositioning some
Q But can you -- at
least, without the specifics, as an order signed and approved by the
President, whatever the order says?
DR. RICE: Well, you understand
that the President has done a couple of things. The order on
the call-up of the Reserves; he's talked with the Secretary of Defense
about what is necessary to prepare the United States for any action
that it might wish to take in accordance with the goals that he's laid
Q Dr. Rice, the
Chinese President, Jiang Zemin, has been raising a quiet campaign
that's quite different from the United States. He called
several world leaders, including President Chirac, just been here
yesterday. And what they are saying basically is that the
United States, if you want to wage a war, you have to go through the
United Nations Security Council and respect the so-called territorial
integrity and the sovereignty issue. A lot of analysts are
saying that the Chinese real target is Taiwan and Tibet. I
just wonder whether the President has any idea on this. I
mean, the Chinese Foreign Minister is due here tomorrow.
DR. RICE: Yes, the Chinese
Foreign Minister is due here. But let me say that one of the
first phone calls that the President had was with President Jiang
Zemin. It was a very positive phone call that promised
Again, we do not expect every country in
the world to be involved in every phase of this operation, or in every
aspect of it. We expect, though, that everybody understands
that terrorism is a real threat to civilization, to freedom-loving
peoples, and that we believe the Chinese understand and understand
Q Do you need
another U.N. resolution to do it?
DR. RICE: Look, the United
States -- first of all, we had an expression from the U.N. of support
for the United States, and an understanding that there are things that
may have to be done. I can't tell you what further U.N.
activity there may be or we may request. We have had several
expressions of support from a number of countries, from a number of
alliances, and I think the most remarkable in this regard was NATO's
invocation of Article Very, that an attack upon one is an attack upon
But the United States, of course, has
certain rights to self-defense. I think people understand
that. Again, if you don't think that this is about
self-defense, just look at those pictures on September 11th.
Q Condi, several of
the leaders have asked for evidence of Osama bin Laden's
involvement. We heard this today from Pakistan; we've heard
it from Chinese, as well. Within the constraints that you
have, given the classification of the material, what are you prepared
to go do, and what model -- in the way of sharing this evidence to help
build the coalition? And what model do you use for
this? Does it go back to sort of the Cuban missile crisis,
where obviously some intelligence data was shared? What do
you do and how central is that?
DR. RICE: Well, David, the
first thing to say is that, obviously, there's an ongoing
investigation, and so I can't get into details of what is being looked
at. But I will say this: The organization that
were talking about has a history. There are already
indictments out against members of this organization and against Osama
bin Laden, himself. This is an organization that is
well-known to have been involved in several other terrorist incidents
or attacks against American interests. There are a number of
operatives whose names have popped up during this investigation that
are known to be linked to Osama bin Laden.
I think that we know who we're dealing
with and what we're dealing with here, and we've known for a long
time. I would just say that we are more than happy to talk
with allies and friends in the rest of the world about what it is we
need to do. But the United States is going to have to take
measures in self-defense to deal with this problem.
Let's be very clear: The
President is concerned to protect the United States in any way that he
can. And rooting this cancer out of the tens of countries
that are out there in which it's operating has got to take place
because that is in the self-defense of the United States, and frankly,
in the self-defense of all countries that favor freedom.
Q Can you tell us
anything about the speech preparation -- how
long has his speech been in the works, and how is he putting it
together? And what is the explanation for why people would do this?
DR. RICE: I'm sorry?
Q What is the
explanation for why people would do this?
DR. RICE: Well, I think that
I'd refer you to the President's speech tomorrow night. I
think that he's going to really lay out this case for the American
people as a fundamental, a foundation for what we're about to
face. And I urge you very much to listen to it in its
totality. The speechwriting process is, you know, the
speechwriting process. There have been a number of people
involved in it. It wouldn't surprise you that --
Q When did it
DR. RICE: You know, a couple of
days. The President's been thinking about the speech for a
couple of days, but not with a specific date in mind. I
think he's known for quite some time that he wanted to make the case to
the American people for what it is we're about to embark on, and he
wanted to do that in a way that is not hurried, not a press sound byte
here or there, but really lays out the case.
Q As far as the
message of returning to a normal life, returning to school, returning
to jobs, what does the President intend to do for those people who have
no job to return to you in the wake of massive layoffs, particularly in
certain sectors? Is he going to outline in any way or
reassure the American people of any economic stimulus package, any
assistance, to particular sectors that have been hit in the wake of all
DR. RICE: You know that the
President is in discussions with his economic advisors and also with
the Congress about what can be done to deal with the national emergency
that we have faced. I think the President is quite aware, as
everyone is, that there have been effects on the economy of what
But I know that he said to the leaders
today that he wants to work with them and that he is prepared to try to
think about what it is that he needs to do. But beyond that,
the details will come.
Q Many Americans
expect some kind of decisive military action. From all that you've
said, this being a campaign of mind and will and so forth, is part of
the President's intention to suggest that perhaps what will be decisive
here will not be military action?
DR. RICE: The President is
going to be results-oriented. And he is bringing to bear all
of our instruments of national power. He is also bringing to
bear the assets and instruments of national power of a vast number of
countries around the world.
I have no doubt that military power is
some part of that. But we are not facing a traditional enemy
here; we're facing a quite unconventional enemy. The
President, though, made very clear that while he wants to root out
those who are hiding who we've gotten accustomed to as the car bomber
who runs and hides, but who, this time, perpetrated this
well-orchestrated terror attack on some of the most important symbols
of power and authority and prosperity of the United States, that he's
got to get them. He's got to root out that organization,
wherever it may be, but that he also believes that those who harbor
them need to be -- it needs to be demonstrated to them that harboring
these terrorists is not good for one's well-being.
So there will be a host of instruments
brought to bear on this problem, and that's the case that the President
is going to make tomorrow.
Final, final question.
Q On the coalition,
are you suggesting today that it might be useful to think of this as
multiple coalitions for multiple purposes? And second, this
192 countries that have responded with condolences or offers of help
include a lot of countries that are not, as you describe,
freedom-loving countries, people that the Vice President's described as
some unsavory characters. And I'm wondering, some of these
countries are able to provide the most help in rooting out this
terrorist threat. I'm wondering how you're going to be
guided in striking a balance between how far the United States can go
in dealing with these countries to get at this threat?
DR. RICE: Our values matter to
us. And I want to make the point that our values matter to
us internally as we try to think about how to secure ourselves
better. Civil liberties matter to this President very much,
and our values matter to us abroad. We are not going to stop
talking about the things that matter to us, human rights, religious
freedom and so forth and so on. We're going to continue to
press those things; we would not be America if we did not.
We have a particular threat here to our --
not just our well- being, but to our way of life. And the
coalition and what countries can bring to it, it's very important to
take advantage of what can be brought from a variety of different
countries and a variety of different means to address that
threat. And yes, I think the notion of multiple coalitions
is probably a good one.
There is clearly one, big, over-arching
coalition that says, this could have been us, and we understand that
when America was attacked, more than America was
attacked. But what different countries will bring to the
equation, what different fronts people will fight on against this war
on terrorism I think will unfold over this period of time.
But I do want to say that the really
interesting thing about what happened on Tuesday, if you try and step
back from the horrors of it -- and it's just really horrible -- is that
when the World Trade Center went down, the world's trade center went
down. There were citizens from numerous countries that died
in the World Trade Center. This was not just
Americans. These were Pakistanis and Brits and people from
the continent of Africa and Latin Americans.
What really was attacked was this world
community that trades and works and tries to make people more
prosperous and enjoys the freedoms and the kind of freedom of life that
we're so accustomed to in the United States. And so when the
President says that he is doing this to rally the world, we have a very
visible symbol of the fact that it was the world that was attacked, and
it was the multiple nationalities that were attacked in the World Trade
Thank you very much.