The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 24, 2003

Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One Enroute to Philadelphia

9:55 A.M. EDT

MR. McCLELLAN: Good morning. Sorry for the quick gaggle, but we have a short flight.

The President had his usual briefings this morning. We're on our way to Philadelphia, where he will highlight his economic agenda, with a particular focus on the benefits that families are receiving from his recently passed jobs and growth plan. He will also talk about -- highlight his economic agenda later in Michigan, where he will visit with some small business owners and talk to employees of a small business.

At the first stop in Philadelphia, he will meet with some families who will benefit from the child credit, when we get there; tour the Treasury Department's Financial Management Service Facility and then deliver remarks. This Financial Management Service Facility processed 350 million Social Security checks and direct deposits, 10 million tax refund checks and direct deposits, 18 million supplemental security income checks and direct deposits and a number of other checks in fiscal year 2002. It employs 190 people and partners with a number of other facilities. This includes the check production machines and the check wrapping machines that he will be touring.

The second stop, he will be at Beaver Aerospace and Defense in Michigan. It is a manufacturer of aviation parts for the commercial and mili8tary aerospace industries, and employs 103 workers at two facilities.

And then he makes remarks this evening at the Bush-Cheney 2004 reception in Dearborn, Michigan, and then we arrive back at the White House this evening.

One other thing to highlight. The Vice President is delivering remarks at 12:20 p.m. today at the American Enterprise Institute, where he will talk about the progress we are making in the war on terror. He will also talk about the importance of the action we are taking in Iraq and how that is central in our efforts to win the war on terrorism.

Q What time?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's at 12:20 p.m., they put out a release on that previously. And with that, I'm happy to take questions.

Q Scott, are you giving up on the child tax credit for low income people? Or will the President have --

MR. McCLELLAN: I expect that the President, in his remarks, will continue to urge Congress to act on expanding the child credit to some of the low income families that are not receiving it.

Q The President spoke with the South Korean leader earlier today, one. And, two, is he serious about vetoing the kind of bill that the House passed on media ownership?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, I think that it's still early in the process on that legislation. We are going to work with Congress and try to fix that in conference. So at this point, it's still early in the process. We'll continue to work with Congress to try to fix that.

Q And the South Korean leader? They spoke today --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't have an update yet on that.

Q What do you mean by "fix" the legislation? Do you mean remove the prohibition?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's right.

Q Scott, now that ECOWAS has determined a rough timetable when troops will be going into Liberia and the nature of that force, can you update us at all on the President's thinking about what kind of participation the United States should have and what other --

MR. McCLELLAN: U.S. officials are working with West African officials in Sierra Leone and we're in discussions with them about how they are preparing to deploy a vanguard force of West Africans to Liberia. Again, we continue to be in close contact with ECOWAS and the U.N. so that we can do what we can to help the West African states get in there and bring peace and stability to the Liberian --

Q -- for a cease-fire? Or what are the other considerations?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there are still some talks going on in those areas, so that's where things stand.

Q -- redacted portions of the 9/11 report that didn't rise to classification and that they were only removed because they might be embarrassing. Without specifying to whom they might be embarrassing, do you have any comment?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll come back. I'll come back, we're about to land.

* * * * *

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay. I think today's report confirms the importance of the strong aggressive steps we have already taken to better protect the American people at home, as well as abroad. Let me --

Q Did you find --

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me -- I'll come back. Let me remind you of a few things. We acted to create the first ever effort to integrate terrorist intelligence from the key agencies and maximize information sharing between those agencies. That's in reference to the Terrorist Threat Information Center we created. The FBI has been transformed under Director Mueller, to make prevention of future terrorist attack its top priorities. We expanded intelligence capabilities at the FBI, nearly doubled agents devoted to counterterrorism and improved information sharing and expanded joint terrorism task forces. We created the Department of Homeland Security, whose primary mission is to protect America. It is the most significant reorganization of the federal government in a half century, combining the resources and expertise of 22 agencies. And we are using new tools, passed by Congress, to intercept, disrupt and obstruct terrorists and prosecute those tied to terrorism. And we are cracking down on terrorist financing by freezing assets.

So, again, today's report confirms the importance of the strong, aggressive steps we have already taken.

Q Why are you keeping secret the Saudi -- the report on the Saudi role, the role they may have had in connection --

MR. McCLELLAN: We commend Congress for its hard work on this critical issue. We were pleased to work closely with the joint inquiry on the report. We provided substantial amount of information and documents, direct access to hundreds of intel and law enforcement officials, and worked to make sure as much information as possible could be shared publicly. I think it's nearly 80 percent of the report. Only the most sensitive of national security information, which could potentially compromise the sources and methods or otherwise harm our national security, is not being de-classified.

Q That wasn't Shelby's assessment, though. Shelby said this morning that it didn't rise to the level of classification and that he suspected it was removed because it would be embarrassing. He didn't say embarrassing to whom, he just said that it might be embarrassing.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think I described it the way we look at it.

Q Only the most sensitive of national security information -- that's what you're maintaining has been redacted?

MR. M cCLELLAN: That's what I just said.

Q Scott, who's traveling with us today, what lawmakers?

MR. McCLELLAN: Both senators. Okay.

Q What if the Saudis were to --

MR. McCLELLAN: Remember, you know that the President's highest priority is protecting the American people. That is why he's providing strong leadership to win the war on terrorism and make sure we are doing all we can to protect the homeland. I think the horrific and tragic attacks of September 11th made clear in a very vivid way the importance of confronting the new threats we face. And the best way to protect the American people is to go after the terrorists where they are and confront these threats before the killers can carry out their evil acts on innocent civilians. And we are making great progress in winning the war on terrorism. We commend the joint inquiry for the hard work it did in completing this report and we were glad to work -- we were pleased to work closely with them.

Q Do you have an estimate on the take tonight at the fundraiser?

MR. McCLELLAN: That will come from the campaign.

Q And, Scott, the Saudis, apparently, are willing to have that portion released. If they give you the okay, are you willing to de-classify that section?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'll see.

* * * * *

MR. McCLELLAN: The conversation with President Roh, I wanted to get back to you on that. The two leaders spoke this morning for about 15 minutes. They discussed next steps on North Korea policy, particularly our efforts to make sure that South Korea and Japan are included in multilateral talks.

Q Any closer to a next round?

MR. McCLELLAN: No updates from what I said the other day. Again, we continue to want to make sure that the next round of multilateral talks include South Korea and Japan.

Q Do the President and President Roh think prospects are good, that Japan and South Korea will be in that next round?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, those are discussions we're continuing to have with countries in the neighborhood, including China and South Korea and Japan.

Q And what do we make of the reports that North Korea is ready to declare itself a nuclear power on the date of, you know, that day in September, September 9th, I think it was?

MR. McCLELLAN: North Korea has said a lot of things in the past. Our policy remains the same: we seek a peaceful, diplomatic solution working with our friends and allies, to make sure that there is an irreversible end to North Korea's nuclear weapons program and that's the way we'll continue to approach it.



11:00 A.M. EDT

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