For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 19, 2001
Press Briefing by
By Ari Fleischer
Readout/President's Conversations with Foreign Leaders..1-3
Unilateral Response..........................14, 16-17
Pakistani/Musharraf's Speech.........................2, 9-10
Stimulus Package.....................................2-3, 15
Other Nations/Requests for Cooperation.....................3
Evidence/Secretary Powell's Comments..............4-7, 17-18
U.n. General Assembly/Authorization........................7
Airline Bailout/Other Businesses.........................7-8
Loss of Jobs......................................15-16
Latin American Countries/Response........................8-9
Possible Iraq Involvement..................................9
American Public/Mind-Set of War........................10-11
Attacks on Arab Americans, Sikhs.......................11-12
2:20 P.M. EDT
MR. FLEISCHER: Good
afternoon. The President today spoke with South Korean
President Kim early this morning. President Kim reiterated
the deep condolences of the Korean people and the government, and said
that South Korea will fully cooperate in the antiterrorist effort in
the spirit of the United States/Republic of Korea Mutual Defense
Treaty. He also noted South Korea's readiness to participate
in the international coalition.
President Bush thanked President Kim for
South Korea's support and concerns for American people, and said we
will stay in consultation about the war against
terrorism. They both look forward to meeting in Seoul next
The President also spoke this morning with
President Mbeki of South Africa. President Bush expressed
his appreciation for South Africa's offer of search and rescue teams
and medical assistance to help in America's
recovery. President Mbeki offered his condolences and said
that President Bush has taken on an important task to mobilize a global
coalition against terrorism. The Presidents acknowledged the
common threat of terrorism to both the United States and South Africa,
and President Bush explained that his effort to go after terrorist
sanctuaries, as well as countries who sponsor such evil.
Earlier today, as well, the President had
a meeting with his National Security Council. He met with
the President of Indonesia, and the two Presidents condemned the attack
on the United States and pledged that they would strengthen existing
cooperation in the global effort to combat international
terrorism. They also reaffirmed their commitment to the
principles of religious freedom and tolerance and relations within and
As the leader of the world's largest
Muslim population and the third largest democracy in the world,
President Megawati joined President Bush in underlining the importance
of differentiating between the religion of Islam and the acts of
violent extremists, which has taken place in New York and here at the
Pentagon in Washington, emphasizing that Islam is a religion of peace
that neither teaches hatred nor condones violence.
President Megawati encouraged President
Bush in his stated purpose of building a broad coalition across
religious lines and cultures to deal with these new and dangerous
threats. And noting also, President Bush noted also that
Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the United States. President
Bush assured President Megawati that the American people respect Islam
as one of the world's great religions, and that the United States would
join hands with freedom-loving people around the world of all religions
to combat international terrorism.
The President will meet with the Foreign
Minister of Russia this afternoon. He will meet with the
Foreign Minister of Germany this afternoon. And he will also
meet with a bipartisan leadership group coming down from the Congress,
including Speaker Hastert, Majority Leader Daschle, Minority Leader
Gephardt and Minority Leader Lott, to discuss recent developments with
the attack on the United States, as well as to discuss the important
issues on the domestic agenda, particularly concerns about the American
airline industry and a possible economic stimulus package, as well as
whatever else may be on the minds of congressional leaders.
Finally, the President has noted the
speech of President Musharraf today in Pakistan. The United
States is very pleased with the cooperation of Pakistan, and President
Musharraf's speech is an indication of the strong relationship between
the United States and Pakistan to counterterrorism.
With that, Mr. Fournier?
Q Is the President
definitely for a stimulus package, and it's just a matter of what it
is? And does he think it's time now to give businesses a tax
break after giving individuals tax breaks earlier in the year?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the
President, first and foremost, wants to work with Congress, and work
closely with Congress. And that's why he's looking forward
to this meeting with the leaders. And he wants to hear what
the Democrats say, what the Republicans say, and he wants to see how
narrow or how wide the differences may be, because we are in a new era
where the differences, really, between the two parties are narrowing
out of a sense of trying to help the country.
So he wants to work with
Congress. He has talked about a variety of plans that could
include tax relief, that include some areas of spending. Certainly $40
billion, which a large portion will be spent in a one-year period, of
emergency assistance to deal with the consequences of this attack will
have a stimulative effect on the economy. And the President
is also prepared to listen to ideas about regulatory changes.
Q Such as?
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not going to
get into specifics. I'll allow them to have their meeting,
and then as the President makes up any determinations or agreements are
reached with Congress, I'll have more to indicate.
Q You know that the
United States made specific requests/demands of Pakistan, and Pakistan
is cooperating. Can you say whether in some of these
meetings or in separate phone calls, the President is yet at the stage
where he is making specific requests for various countries in the area
of cooperating in this war?
MR. FLEISCHER: It
varies. It varies from country to country. I
think it's a safe assumption that in some cases the answer to that is
yes; in other cases, it's developing, and will continue to develop as
plans are made.
Q Can you say which
countries have had various requests made of them?
Q Does the
President feel any increasing pressure to act militarily? We
see a new poll today, for example, that shows over 80 percent of
Americans favor some sort of military action.
MR. FLEISCHER: As the President
said last week, that while this attack may have begun by our enemies,
it will end in a manner and at a time of America's
choosing. I think the President is keenly mindful of the
fact that this has to be done right. It cannot be done
early, it cannot be done late; it has to be done for the right reasons,
at the right time because the response will be effective.
And this is another reason why he's also
mindful of the patience of the American people. The American
people are a patient people. The American people also want
to see action. But the President is going to be guided by a
very resolute sense of only action that should be taken is action that
will work, that will be effective, and that will be effective for the
long-term. And so, therefore, whatever series of steps you
take -- and I urge you to think beyond just the traditional military --
will be taken at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way, as
the President sees fit.
Q What do you mean
by "beyond just the traditional military"?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I keep
reminding you that there are other steps that are financial, that are
diplomatic, that are political. So I just think as you all
approach this issue, you need to consider that mind-set, that this is,
as the President points out, a different kind of war. It is
the new war of the 21st century, and there will be more elements to it
than only traditional military.
Q When you say it
has to be done right, are you talking about going after the one
person? And do we contemplate any change in our foreign
policy that might have contributed to this?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President
has said this is much bigger than any one person. This deals
with all terrorist networks that contribute to this form of terrorism,
and to those who harbor terrorism. The President has said
that he sees in this an opportunity to do something for the next
generations, so that people will not have to suffer these terrorist
attacks that culminated in the attack on the World Trade Center.
Q So we could break
diplomatic relations with any nation?
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not going to
get into any possibilities or hypotheticals, but the President has
indicated clearly that they involve --
Q Well, those who
harbor -- what would you do? You would invade their
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not going to
get into any of the specifics, but I have indicated earlier that it
could involve things that are military, things that are diplomatic,
things that are financial, all of the above.
Q Ari, last week
officials were saying -- Secretary Powell, in particular -- that the
U.S. would present convincing evidence to other governments and people
around the world, if and when we acted, to show the justice and
accuracy of our actions. This morning you seemed to indicate
that in order not to compromise how we're gathering information, you
might not do that. Did I read that right?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think the
question was put to me, one, about the United Nations, would he go to
the United Nations before he'd take any action and present evidence to
the United Nations? I was also asked if I had anything that
I could contribute publicly here from this podium about proof that we
had. And that was the context of my answer. But
the President will, of course, work with our allies and other nations
as we make plans and move forward.
Q And so we will be
presenting that convincing proof to other governments?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think we are
going to build out alliances and coalitions. And that means
interesting interplay, always, with different nations about how much
they want to contribute, how much they will do based on their own
desires and their own abilities. And that is going to vary
from nation to nation. So I don't think you can make any one
inference about sharing of information, for example, across the
world. It would be different elements with different
Q And one more on
this. Given what a shadowy and nebulous creature we are
dealing with in this terrorist network, is the administration finding
it hard to forge those links from these atrocities to specific
MR. FLEISCHER: That's a
question of what evidence have you gathered. And I'm not going to get
into the process of the evidence-gathering.
Q Isn't it hard to
prove this kind of thing, though?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think it's
always accurate to say that the war on terrorism is a shadowy
one. Terrorists do operate in a shadowy way. And
that's why the President, from the beginning, has recognized that this
is, as he put it, the new war of the 21st century. And that
will be reflected in the actions he takes.
Jim Angle, who is sitting in the second
row. He moved up.
Q On the question
of evidence, I mean, obviously, it would be helpful to the U.S. and
those it is asking to cooperate to help demonstrate that this is not a
war against Islam, that it's based on specific evidence. That would
obviously help the Pakistanis. It would obviously help a
number of other people we've asked to participate in this with
us. Is the administration inclined in some way and in some
forum, or even privately on a one-on-one basis, to provide whatever
evidence or some kind of evidence so that those who are also exposed in
this battle can make the case that they have seen convincing evidence
and that it's real?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think all you
have to do is listen to President Musharraf's speech
today. And based on the information that Pakistan is aware
of and the conversations that Pakistan has had with the United States,
they are taking action that the United States government is
appreciative for. And so I think the questions about
evidence, for example, many of the nations around the world are already
ahead of your questions. They are already working with the
United States very productively and cooperatively. And so I
think you have to ask yourselves the question of, are the other nations
around the world asking the same questions that you are, and I indicate
that many of those nations are beyond what you're asking.
Q I don't think
there is any question that our allies are prepared to believe
this. What we're talking about are people who are not
necessarily our allies and those who try to make the argument that the
administration is simply waging war on Islam. Is there
anything you can do to soften those views, or do you just chalk those
people up as being beyond the pale in terms of your ability to convince
MR. FLEISCHER: I draw your
attention to the meeting today, of course, in the Oval Office with the
President of Indonesia, the conversations the President has had with
other Arab nations and Muslim nations, and those conversations have
been very productive.
So that's -- again, I'm trying to draw you
off of that question a little bit, because it's not really reflective
of what the United States is hearing from nations around the
world. I indicated to Terry that to the degree there are any
such concerns, different nations will have different issues that get
addressed on a host of issues. And I think that's not
Q You're confirming
that you have shared information with Pakistan and some other
MR. FLEISCHER: No, I'm not
confirming that. I said we could take a look at the
statements that have been made by these nations, and they are satisfied
with the actions we are taking or requesting, and we are satisfied with
their response. That is why I am saying these nations have
moved beyond your questions.
Q Ari, President
Musharraf said that in his opinion, the United States need not seek any
further authorization from the United Nations General Assembly or the
Security Council to act militarily, because of the resolution passed
last Wednesday. Does the administration agree?
MR. FLEISCHER: You have been
asking me that question for two days, and I pointed out to you that
under the United Nations charter, the United States has a right to
self-defense. Of course, there was a Security Council
resolution also. Whether or not any other action will be
taken at the United Nations is not a determination the President has
made at this point, which is the same answer I gave yesterday.
Q All right, let me
ask you this. On the scope of this global effort, you said
yesterday, first, that it was against terrorism generally. Then you
said against terrorist organizations that pose a direct threat to
America. A moment ago you said, seeking out a campaign
against a people, terrorism that affects people. Is it still
the administration's position that this is only a campaign against
organizations that pose a direct threat to America?
MR. FLEISCHER: It is all of
that. And that is why the President has indicated that in
this new war of the 21st century against terrorism, the United States,
in concert with our allies and coalition partners, will target
terrorism and those who harbor terrorists. Terrorism
presents a threat to people who love freedom and democracy throughout
the world. And that was what I added to my statement
yesterday, if you recall.
Q But is it a
coalition against terrorism activity in, for example, Spain or Ireland
MR. FLEISCHER: We talked about
this yesterday. This is a worldwide attempt to combat
terrorism, where terrorism threatens people who cherish freedom, and
where terrorism is a threat to ourselves and to our allies and to our
Q Given the
President's sense of urgency to help bail out the airlines, does he
also feel it necessary to provide direct financial aid to other
industries, such as the insurance industry, reinsurance industry,
hotels, motels, tourism in the state of Hawaii, that are also having
financial difficulties that they can trace directly to the aftermath of
the terrorist attack?
MR. FLEISCHER: On the domestic
consequences, the President is looking at this, at least initially, in
two distinct groups. There is one, the airlines, which
clearly have been directly and adversely affected as a result of the
attack on the United States. The President is considering
what appropriate remedy is proper and wise and in the taxpayers'
interest for the airlines, to help them deal with the consequences of
More broadly speaking, the President is
also, as he will today, talking to members of Congress and to his
advisors about what steps could be taken to help the economy in
general. And of course, any steps that would help the
economy in general could also have an impact on various industries.
Q But what about
hotels and restaurants located in New York or Washington that can show
you proof that they've also lost money as a direct result of --
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, that's why
I was addressing the question of the economy in general, which, of
course, has --
Q So you won't help
MR. FLEISCHER: -- which, of
course, has an impact on other industries. I'm not prepared
to go down a line tick-tocking them, and who knows where you want to
start and where you want to end. I have given you the answer
that the President is focused on the airlines, and then the economy in
general, which, of course, has impact on others in other sectors.
Q Most Latin
American Presidents have expressed messages of condolence and support
for the United States in this perilous hour. Now it seems
that the foreign ministers will be meeting here in Washington on Friday
to vote for what is called in Spanish by the acronym PIAR, which is the
Inter-American Reciprocal Assistance Treaty, also known as the Treaty
of Rio, which was signed in December of 1947, in which each nation must
come to the aid of all the nation-members if one of them is
attacked. Did the United States ask for this meeting, or was
this meeting a spontaneous thing?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, as you
know, Secretary Powell was actually in Lima, Peru, meeting with the OAS
General Assembly on September 11th when the attack took
place. But like all other regional security arrangements
that the United States has, or that we are a signatory to, the Rio
Treaty provides also a collective security mechanism through which we
can coordinate our response. We're gratified by the calls in
the region to invoke the treaty and look forward to exploring how its
elements can be used.
It's just another indication of how the
world is speaking out and expressing unity and solidarity in a variety
of ways with the United States in a way that will isolate the
terrorists and enable the world to do combat with terrorism on a host
Q There's a press
report I'm sure you're aware of that the pilot of one of the planes
that hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center met last year with
the head of intelligence from Iraq. Iraq denies
it. Can you confirm that meeting took place?
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm aware of the
report, but I'm not in a position to confirm or give you any further
indication on that.
Q Ari, back to the
President of Pakistan's speech. He said three things I
wanted to see if you could confirm or elaborate on. First of
all, on the point that you've been discussing, he said he was still
asking the United States for evidence, which would seem to suggest that
he wasn't completely satisfied yet with what he's seen concerning bin
Second, he said that the U.S. has asked
for intelligence-gathering, logistics and permission to use air
space. He said nothing about actually placing troops on the
ground -- if you could discuss that. And, thirdly, he also
issued a warning to India not to take advantage of the situation. I'm
wondering whether or not the U.S. has also expressed concern to India
that it not take advantage of this in any way, in Kashmir or
MR. FLEISCHER: First, I'm not
prepared to go into the list of all of the
specifics. President Musharraf did, himself, acknowledge
three. I'm not prepared to go into whether there are any
Q Can you confirm
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not prepared
to go into any beyond that, but I will confirm those
three. On the first point, I've read his speech, David, and
I'm not aware of that statement, so if you could point that out to me,
I would appreciate seeing that. But the President, as I
indicated, is pleased with the actions taken by Pakistan, and certainly
this is an important speech that the President of Pakistan has given to
his people today.
And your third question?
MR. FLEISCHER: And what about
Q The President of
Pakistan indicated concern that India might take advantage of this,
that they were on high alert against India -- the military
was. Has there been any U.S. communication to India about
not taking advantage of this? Any intercession on behalf of
MR. FLEISCHER: The President
did speak with President Vajpayee just the other day, and the President
is aware of the regional implications of all the actions in this
region. But the President is satisfied that the nations
there understand the cause that they are all uniting behind -- India,
Pakistan, together with the United States. The President is
confident that broader context will be the modality in which those
Q Did you
specifically ask the President of India not to take any steps related
to Pakistan that would make the --
MR. FLEISCHER: I would have to
go back and look at the exact phone call.
Q This morning, the
President talked about changing the mind-set about war. Here
you've been stressing, or at least mentioning the other options, like
financial, other things that can be done. Are you concerned
that perhaps too much of an emphasis has been given to the military or
the assumption of a military attack?
MR. FLEISCHER: Actually, I'm
repeating the same thing I've been saying for three days. I
continue to use that, because, again, I think it's so important for the
American people who have for so many years understood war to be a
traditional war, as the President points out, that involves capital
cities and movements of fleets, and airplanes sitting on tarmacs, that
this type of war is a totally different type of war.
And I was with the President all day on
Tuesday last week, as you know. Now, as the President
arrived back into Washington, D.C., he got in his helicopter at Andrews
Air Force base and came back to the White House. And it was late in
the afternoon, early in the evening. And the way the
helicopter comes into Washington, the President could see out of the
left window of the helicopter the smoke coming out of the Pentagon.
And the President, looking out the window,
said out loud and to nobody in particular, he said, "The mightiest
building in the world is on fire. What you're just witnessing is the
war of the 21st century."
I mean, he understood right from the
beginning that this is different. And the manner in which our enemies,
in this case, the terrorists, carry out the war against us is different
-- hijacking airplanes with plastic knives and flying them into
buildings in America. And our response will be
different. Our response will not only be the traditional
senses the American people have become accustomed to when it comes to
war. But it will be all those other elements the President
has talked about, while the financial networks that involve diplomacy,
sanctions, trade, economy, politics, carrots, sticks. And
there will be a host of items, a host of measures that go into this,
and it will be different from things that people have seen
before. It will also involve the patience of the American
people, because it won't be conducted in the same manner the American
people have seen on a limited basis, thank God.
Q Ari, two
quickies. One, the Attorney General and FBI Director, they
have been speaking only about attacks against Arab Americans, but not
against the Indian Sikhs. Nobody has ever spoken yet, only
except you have mentioned -- and, number two, in which category will
you put Pakistan, which has been harboring terrorism -- India's Kashmir
and their -- centers even for Osama bin Laden and others.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think on
your second point, that's why the President indicated that this is a
chance for Pakistan. The President has said that he has
spoken with President Musharraf, and this is a time to see that
requests have been made, and not it will be a time to
see. And the President is pleased what he has seen at this
On your first question, it's a vital
question, and I think it's so important every day for everybody in
government to continue to remind the American people, as General
Ashcroft did this morning, that the American people should show no
intolerance toward anybody based on what has happened. The
fabric of our society is tremendously strong, but there are some weak
edges. And everybody in our country has a role to speak out
and do what we can to stop those weak edges.
Q -- because Indian
American community, especially Sikhs, are really worried to come out
because a number of Sikh persons have been also targeted in Virginia,
and they are worried and -- yesterday, and they are asking President
Bush especially to --
MR. FLEISCHER: The President,
when he visited the Islamic Center -- and I understand you're making a
valid point about the difference between religions -- the President was
very touched when somebody explained that his mother was afraid to come
out of the house because she did want to wear her traditional headwear,
and she was fearful that if she did, she would be subject to
violence. And that really touched the
President. And it's a reason why the President spoke out as
he did, and I think it's just something that every day, every way,
people in positions of responsibility have got to address.
Q In terms of your
talking about war, during wartime we sometimes make changes both with
legal immigration and illegal immigration. Are there any
changes planned in how we're going to be treating immigrants to this
MR. FLEISCHER: No, there is
nothing that's been brought to my attention. I know, in
fact, that the President is still committed to honoring his promise to
work with President Fox on immigration changes to deal with Mexico and
that's part of the program and ways of making America welcome to
It's so important at all times to remember
the things that make America strong, and immigration is one of
them. We can be a nation with immigrants; we can also be a
nation of laws, and we have to be both.
Q You mentioned
yesterday that the response from the Taliban had been all over the
lot. Is there any more clarity today, and if not, does that
in itself indicate that they're not going to cooperate?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, I would say
there has been no more clarity today.
Q Also, in wartime,
we've had history of drafts. Is that something that's under
consideration, or can we take it off the table?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, there is no
consideration of that at this time. And from my conversations at the
Pentagon, it's not something they anticipate.
Q One Irish
question and one British question, please. There were some
references made by the IRA yesterday. Does the
administration believe that one side of that conflict is more guilty
than the other? Does the administration believe that the IRA
is a terrorist group, or the new IRA, or the Real IRA?
MR. FLEISCHER: Certainly, the
Real IRA is listed on the official list of terrorist
groups. But I think the President said what he said for a
reason. He is sending a message and he's rallying a
coalition, that those who engage in terrorism and those who harbor
terrorists need to be worried about the actions that our government
Q Is one side in
that conflict more guilty than the other? Is one more of a
terrorist group than the other?
MR. FLEISCHER: I don't look at
it in a linear fashion.
Q On Britain
tomorrow -- in a military sense, what do you plan to ask Prime Minister
Blair to contribute, if you can?
MR. FLEISCHER: Of course,
Connie, as you know, I'm not going to indicate what military actions
Q Ari, based on
information you've gotten over the past week, what is the President's
level of concern about additional attacks on U.S. soil?
FLEISCHER: Ongoing. I can't point to anything
that would make it fluctuate up or down. But I can tell you
that the President is concerned on an ongoing basis about maintaining
security around the United States, and that's why, for example, the
Department of Transportation has been working with the Air Marshal
Program to protect aviation. That's why there has been such
beefed up security at airports across the country.
It's a reminder that our open society has
vulnerabilities. But, of course, being an open society is
what has allowed us to be as strong as we are so that we would be able
to prevail in this conflict.
Q If I can just
follow up on that, there is some law enforcement concern that because
some of the hijackers, alleged hijackers, were booked on flights on the
22nd of September, that there may be some kind of second wave out
there. Is there any concern in the White House that --
MR. FLEISCHER: Terry, there is
nothing I've heard about any specific dates, information like
that. But as I indicated, it's an ongoing concern where
security is being beefed up, stepped up. And the events of
the 11th have sadly brought home to all Americans that we have to be
mindful of violence here within our own borders.
Q Do you think
there was more -- that there were more attempts either scheduled to be
made the same day or on some other date, even if it's not the 22nd?
MR. FLEISCHER: You know, I
can't speculate, Bill. I know that --
Q You've not heard
one way or the other?
MR. FLEISCHER: I haven't heard
anything conclusive. I just know that this is a time to be
cautious. Concerns are ongoing.
Q Back on foreign
policy just quickly. Many nations are calling for restraint
of U.S. actions, China in particular. How much of what the
U.S. is doing is bound by these bilateral and multilateral concerns,
and how much of what you are doing in unilateral?
MR. FLEISCHER: It is going to
be a healthy dose of both. The President is determined to
lead on this question, make no doubts about it. And there will be many
nations around the world that stand shoulder to shoulder with the
United States. There will be other nations that stand a
little bit less than shoulder to shoulder with the United States, and
some less than that. But to the degree that any nation has a
contribution to make, the United States will work with those
nations. To the degree that nations have a robust series of
actions they can take, we will work with them as well.
Q Ari, are our
hands tied at all by these calls for restraint? Is the
United States still able to act unilaterally?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think,
frankly, it is just the opposite, Terry. When you take a look at how
NATO has invoked Article 5 and how the Rio Treaty is being looked at
now, I think it is just the opposite. The international
community is rising up, as close to one as an international community
Q May I follow up?
MR. FLEISCHER: Jim?
Q May I follow up,
MR. FLEISCHER: No, Jim had his
Q Well, I've got
another one germane to Terry's question.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, let me --
you had a follow-up just a minute ago, and Jim has been
patient. Jim has been patient, and then we have patient
people there, and then -- be patient and I will get back to you.
Yes, patient Mr. Angle?
Q The President's
view has been somewhat skeptical of the need for new economic stimulus,
saying he wanted to wait and see how what was already in the pipeline
had taken effect. How has that view changed since last
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, clearly
the immediate aftermath for the economy sends worrisome signals, and it
is important to fully assess those signals, and when it comes to the
making of appropriate policy on an economic point of view, what to do
-- what type of stimulus package, if there should be additional tax
cuts, if there should be additional spending, if there should be
regulatory changes. The President is going to adopt a very
consultative approach with the Congress, and a deliberative approach,
as well. He will take a look at the context of the economy,
and he will make a judgment.
Q But has he
already reached the judgment that there obviously is some need for
stimulus? My understanding is that experts on Capitol Hill
are already talking about one percent lower growth than was anticipated
in the third quarter --
MR. FLEISCHER: He's leaning
that way, Jim.
Q Is that all you
can say on that?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, I think you
have to let him have the meeting with the members of
Congress. I mean, the purpose of these meetings is to listen
to the members of Congress. And you know, the President
wants to hear from them. They are in touch with their
constituents, they are in touch with the nation. He wants to
gather their input, and then he will probably have more to
say. And certainly you all will see the President soon
yourselves when he is in that meeting.
Q What are his
economic advisers saying about the status of the economy now, and the
need for stimulus? Are they telling him one way or the other
what they think is necessary?
MR. FLEISCHER: They are coming
up with a series of options for the President, some of which I have
tried to describe here.
Q I still have a
MR. FLEISCHER: We'll get
back. I promised you I would. Go ahead.
Q Thank you,
Ari. I just wanted, I think, to ask something related to
Terry's question, which is the weight that the President is giving his
coalition building efforts. Does he feel that he wants to
devote time and effort to that now, and then he'll worry about possible
military action? Or is he willing to forge ahead, take military action
first and let others follow?
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not prepared
to predict the timing of anything military. The President
will continue to build his coalition and talk to allies, and events
will follow from that.
Q He doesn't feel
that he's got some work to do first?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think he's
doing all the work at the same time.
Q Air, two
questions real quick. What -- if the White House can expound
on this relationship between the Taliban and Osama bin
Laden? And also, what specifically can the White House speak
to on the labor front? All of these people's jobs are getting lost and
all of these companies, as a result -- all these questions -- as a
result of these terrorist attacks last week.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, on the
first point, the President has made it clear that the Taliban should
not harbor terrorists. It doesn't get more complicated than
Q What kind of
relationship is there between Osama bin Laden and the Taliban?
MR. FLEISCHER: It's very
On the second point, of course, that's
exactly why the President is taking a look at some of the ideas for how
to stimulate the economy. He's very worried about the impact
on the economy in general, various sectors specifically, on the working
men and women of this country at all economic strata who are at risk of
losing their jobs, from airline layoffs to minimum wage workers, to
people who worked in the World Trade Center in entry-level jobs and who
are alive, but have no job to go to.
So the President's worries extend
widely. And that's why he's meeting with members of Congress
today and talking to his economic team about what steps can be taken to
help this country.
Bill Plante has been very patient.
Q If I can follow
up Terry's question about whether we have bilateral or unilateral
action. Your answer really suggested that the United States
is going to do as it sees fit, and other nations can come along to the
extent that they're willing to. But it doesn't sound as
though you're really talking about consultation with anyone.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think
that the nations that the President is talking to would strongly
disagree with what you've just said. And that's the whole
reason that the President has called more than 20 world leaders, that
he's been meeting with a series of Presidents and foreign ministers.
He had dinner with the President of France last night -- that's exactly
the purpose of consultation and leadership. The two go hand
Q Is it
consultation, or is it telling them what we intend to do?
MR. FLEISCHER: It's
both. That's called leadership, and that's called
consultation. And that's all, added up, called diplomacy.
Q You made the
point just a moment ago that it's also a reality that -- well, let me
put it this way -- the President intends to move forward knowing that
there are going to be a number of countries that may not be standing
shoulder to shoulder with the United States, and the United States will
move ahead anyway.
MR. FLEISCHER: As I indicated,
the world has stood up rather powerfully and in a way that I've never
seen before, in terms of the numbers of nations that have stood up and
said that we're with the United States. So I think it's
really just the opposite. Are you saying that the United
States should do nothing unless there's world unanimity? I'm
not aware of any such doctrine.
Q Why should the
American people believe that this government has such solid evidence
linking Osama bin Laden to these terrorist acts when it wasn't even
able to determine that there were four planes that were going to get
hijacked and kill thousands of people? Why should we believe
MR. FLEISCHER: Jim, I think
you're free to come to any conclusions that you choose. But
if you take a look at the track-record, for example, Osama bin Laden is
already in indictment for the things that he has done
before. There is no question in the previous bombing of the
World Trade Center that the al Qaeda organization, Osama bin Laden were
behind it. The bombing of our embassies in Tanzania and
Kenya were all attributed to Osama bin Laden and his
organization. There are indications that the bombing of the
Cole were attributed to Osama bin Laden.
And as the United States government
continues to gather evidence in this case, it will be shared with
governments. If any of the governments share your concerns,
I'm sure they'll make it clear to us. We're hearing scant
little of that.
Q Ari, our Pentagon
correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, is just reporting that 100 military
aircraft are being deployed to bases closer to
Afghanistan. Can you confirm that? And what would
you tell the American public about the general movement of military
assets the last two or three days that we've seen?
MR. FLEISCHER: Major, that's
the first I've heard of that. And as you know, I have a
longstanding policy of any information that you obtain in the course of
my briefing I wait to confirm before I get into.
Q Ari, Prime
Minister Koizumi of Japan decided earlier today to dispatch the
self-defense forces to provide logistical support for the U.S.
military and the other coalition members. It was a historic
decision for Japan, given the constitutional constraint on its military
action overseas. Would you welcome the decision? And is the
President willing to meet with Prime Minister of Japan anytime soon to
discuss his decision?
MR. FLEISCHER: Of course, the
President is always willing to meet with the Prime Minister of
Japan. And conversations that are at all levels of
government have been and will continue to take place. And I
think what you just indicated is another sign of the cooperation around
the world as nations stand in solidarity with the United States.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
2:58 P.M. EDT