For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 23, 2004
Press Gaggle by
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Ambassador Tobias. Remarks
Secretary Thompson's Remarks
Custody of Saddam Hussein
Prime Minister Allawi/Zarqawi
9:16 A.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: All right, good morning. Let me just quickly go
over the President's morning. And then I'm going to turn it over to
Secretary Thompson and Ambassador Tobias to talk about today's event.
The President did call Prime Minister Allawi this morning. The two
leaders talked about the progress being made to build a free and
peaceful Iraq, and the President reiterated our commitment to help the
Iraqi people as they assume responsibility for their future and as they
move forward on holding elections.
Q How many times have they talked, any idea?
MR. McCLELLAN: I can double-check that. I mean, they've talked on
a few occasions, so I'll double-check that.
Q -- related to the Zarqawi threat --
MR. McCLELLAN: This was scheduled before. This was scheduled
before that came out.
Then he had his usual briefings. The Freedom Corps greeter upon
arrival is Pat McDonough. And for the past nine years, Pat has donated
her services as a certified massage therapist to those infected and
affected by HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia. And then the President looks
forward to making remarks -- well, first of all, he'll meet with, along
with Secretary Thompson and Ambassador Tobias and Deputy Global AIDS
Coordinator Joe O'Neill, individuals serving those who are living with
AIDS and fighting to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the
faith-based -- through faith-based and community organizations in the
Philadelphia area, as well as an individual living with AIDS.
And then he will give remarks to update you on the progress we're
making on the emergency relief plan, as well as the domestic agenda to
combat AIDS. And I'll turn that over to them in just a minute.
And then when we return back -- well, then he's got the remarks at
the Victory 2004 event. And then this afternoon, when we get back to
the White House, we've got the ceremony for the 2004 recipients of the
Presidential Medal of Freedom.
And with that, I'll turn it over to these two, let them give you an
overview of today. And then you can ask them questions about today's
event. Then I'll come back and take questions on anything else.
Q You will come back? Because we have other questions.
MR. McCLELLAN: I understand. But we'll let them go first and then
we'll go to other questions you have.
SECRETARY THOMPSON: Thank you, very much. The McClellan
brothers. The President really wants to do a lot more in regards to
this fight on AIDS. He wants to do it not only internationally, but
domestically, as well. And today he's going to announce that we're
going to reauthorize $20 million that we have in the HRSA budget, and
put it into the AIDS -- the Ryan White/ADAP program. For the waiting
list, there are approximately 1,800 Americans that have AIDS that were
-- that are not able to get the treatment. But the three main states
are Alabama, North Carolina, and Colorado. And so we're going to use
$20 million in another program in HRSA, and use that to purchase drugs
and give it to these states that need it.
The second thing the President is going to announce is, is that he
wants to reauthorize the Ryan White Act, and he wants to make some
changes. He wants to make sure that there's more emphasis placed on
treatment. And number two, he wants flexibility so we don't have to
reauthorize money, that we're able to be able to use the Secretary's
power to get the flexibility to get the money into the states that
really need it.
And the third thing is, is to make sure that there's more
accountability. And the third thing that the President is going to
announce is the fact that we are going to push very hard for trying to
get the liability bill through Congress, the medical liability bill.
And that is the third one. Now --
Q -- push for medical liability, in other words? I'm sorry $20
million for the -- in the upcoming budget?
SECRETARY THOMPSON: No, $20 million right now, this year, right
now, will be able to take care of the waiting list for the people
living with AIDS.
Q Why do you need to reauthorize it? What has expired?
SECRETARY THOMPSON: Ryan White is going to -- is going to expire
next year, so we're going to -- we're going to get the principles out
there how we want to be able to get it reauthorized.
Go ahead, Randy.
AMBASSADOR TOBIAS: On the international front, in his State of the
Union address in 2003, the President launched his President's Emergency
Plan for AIDS Relief for $15 billion, committed over five years. The
centerpiece of that was a focus on 14 countries, 12 in Africa, two in
the Caribbean, that account for about 50 percent of the infections in
the world. The Congress has directed that the administration select a
MR. McCLELLAN: We'll continue this. We've got to sit down. We'll
9:21 A.M. EDT
* * * * *
(Gaggle continued after landing)
10:12 A.M. EDT
MR. MCCLELLAN: Whatever your questions are.
Q Did you have a chance to look over this resolution, proposed
resolution from Specter?
MR. MCCLELLAN: I glanced at it.
Q What do you make of it, and did the President talk to Specter
MR. MCCLELLAN: It looks like they share the President's commitment
to making sure that Saddam Hussein -- that Saddam Hussein faces justice
by the Iraqi people for the atrocities that he committed. As you are
aware, we will be turning over Saddam Hussein to face a tribunal of
Q It's just a resolution, but would the President get behind
MR. MCCLELLAN: Again, I haven't had a chance -- I don't know if --
Q He wants the tribunal - he wants the indictments to be
brought by August --
Q I'm sorry, could I get an answer to my question? Would he
get behind the resolution?
MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, again, I haven't had -- you just handed me
the resolution. I haven't had a chance to discuss it further. I don't
know if they were able to discuss it on the way over here or not. So
this is the first time I'm seeing this resolution. But it seems to
reflect the President's commitment to making sure that Saddam Hussein
faces justice by the Iraqi people for the atrocities that he
Q And the idea of doing it by August, that's what he really
wants. Is there any chance of doing that?
MR. MCCLELLAN: Well, obviously, we are discussing these issues
with the interim government. First of all you have to have the
transfer of sovereignty before you can turn over detainees like Saddam
Hussein. And the tribunal, we expect, would be making a request at
some point after the transfer of sovereignty. And we'll discuss those
issues with them, but we would like to see him face justice as soon as
possible by that tribunal.
Q Do you think it's possible to do it --
MR. MCCLELLAN: Again, I'm not putting a time frame on it. Those
are issues we're discussing with the interim government.
Q But as soon as possible, does that mean in months, or are we
talking next year?
MR. MCCLELLAN: I'm not putting a time frame on it.
Q Can you find out whether the President talked to him about
it, for us?
MR. MCCLELLAN: I'll check.
Q Thank you.
Q Has there been a final sign-off on this deal in which we
would retain physical custody, but the Iraqis would take legal custody
of Saddam Hussein?
MR. MCCLELLAN: It's still being discussed. That's why I pointed
out that, one, that we want to make sure that those in the former
regime, including Saddam Hussein, who committed these grave atrocities
against the Iraqi people, face justice by the Iraqi people. And so
you've got this special tribunal that has been set up to try these
individuals for those atrocities.
Q You saw these wire stories, though, out of CPA yesterday --
MR. MCCLELLAN: Yes, I've seen those, and those are discussions.
And that's why --
Q But there is no final --
MR. MCCLELLAN: -- we're having discussions with the interim
government. There hasn't been a request made by the interim government
or the special tribunal yet for the handover, an official request made
at this point, is my understanding. First, you have to have the
transfer of sovereignty and have that government in place, and then
there would be a request made. And we would expect that to be the
Q But is the administration willing to hand over legal custody
and maintain --
MR. MCCLELLAN: Again, those are issues that we're discussing with
the interim government. Look, we share the same goal here, which is to
see Saddam Hussein tried, for the atrocities that he committed, by a
special tribunal of Iraqis.
Q Scott, does Bush plan to ask NATO for more help in Iraq at
the NATO meeting next week?
MR. MCCLELLAN: Actually, this question came up yesterday in the
briefing, and you heard the President talk about it at the G8.
One, where we are now is you have some 15 NATO countries who are
already in Iraq with troops. And we appreciate their support in the
coalition. The President made it very clear he didn't expect more NATO
troops, because what we want to see is more Iraqi security forces.
Those are the forces that we will see increased over time, because
they'll be assuming full responsibility for their future. And so we're
working with the Iraqi forces to train and equip them and get them in
position so that they can provide for their security going forward.
In that context, the President said that, you know, we want to
discuss a NATO -- a way that NATO might be able to help with the
training of those security forces. And so that's something that will
be discussed at the upcoming NATO summit.
Q Do you expect there to be any Iraqi representatives at the
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll have to check. We've got a -- we'll have a --
I think we have a background briefing later today that was scheduled
for foreign press that White House press will be included in. And then
we'll have a briefing tomorrow by Dr. Rice. So we'll see if there's
more, in terms of who is going to be at the summit at that point. I
don't have the list.
Q In the conversation this morning with Allawi, did the issue
of Zarqawi's direct to kill him come up?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, that's why I said that this call, when you
asked me that on the plane, that this call was scheduled prior to that
audio tape coming out --
Q But the call was done after --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- and, you know, I think Prime Minister Allawi has
made it very clear that he is determined to confront these terrorist
threats that they face inside Iraq and defeat those terrorists.
Q -- but did he call him, Bush --
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I gave this on the gaggle on the plane, I read
it out. The President called Prime Minister Allawi this morning.
Q Would you mind checking whether that assassination threat
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, and again I want you to make sure that you
understand that this call was scheduled --
Q I hear that.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- and I think it may have come up. I think Prime
Minister Allawi may have brought it up. But it wasn't something that
was the purpose of the call. And that's why I said that Prime Minister
Allawi has made it very clear that he is determined to defeat the
enemies of the Iraqi people and these enemies of freedom.
Q So you don't know if there's any new effort to kind of
redouble security around Allawi to prevent something like this?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm not going to get into a discussion of his
security situation. Again, he's a very strong and capable leader and
he understands the importance of confronting these security threats.
And we will be there after the transfer of sovereignty to help the
Iraqi people address these security threats.
Terrorists like Zarqawi want to try to shake the will of the
international community and they have no regard for innocent civilians,
and they will be defeated. We will bring him to justice.
Q On North Korea, can you talk about some of the proposals that
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as you know, the meetings are getting
underway here with the next round of talks. We're still pursuing the
multilateral approach through the six-party talks. We have been
discussing and working with South Korea and Japan on some ideas that
we'll be presenting at these talks. And we will -- what we will be
presenting is a practical series of steps to achieve the complete,
verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear
program. And I think one way to look at this is to look at the Libyan
model. A good faith action on North Korea's part would be met with a
good faith response by the other parties.
So this is a plan to achieve a complete, verifiable and
irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear program.
Q Is there any time limit on your offer?
MR. McCLELLAN: On the what?
Q Is there any time limit on your offer --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you're talking about when they respond to
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, I mean, we'll be presenting this at the
six-party talks and we don't expect an immediate response. All parties
will go back -- we expect all parties will look at it, they'll go back
to their capitals and they'll discuss it. But, you know, this is a
plan for moving forward on dismantlement. And what you would have --
first, you would have -- it would have to have North Korea commit to
the dismantlement of its nuclear program. And then you would have the
parties agree to a detailed implementation plan which would require a
supervised disablement of -- disablement, dismantlement, elimination of
all nuclear-related facilities and materials, the removal of all
nuclear weapons and weapons components, centrifuge and other nuclear
parts, fissile material and fuel rods, and a long-term monitoring
So there would be a process that would involve a short preparatory
period where they would, as part of their effort to dismantle their
nuclear program, disable all their nuclear weapons and weapons
components, to begin with. And then that would be followed by the
permanent and verifiable dismantlement of their nuclear program.
Q And what would North Korea get in return?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we will work to take steps to ease their
political and economic isolation. So there would be -- what you would
see would be some provisional or temporary proposals that would only
lead to lasting benefit after North Korea dismantles its nuclear
programs. So there would be some provisional or temporary efforts of
Q If there's no deadline on when they could accept it, what is
the incentive to Kim Jong-il not to avoid the outcome of --
MR. McCLELLAN: We'll see what their response is. Again, all
parties are going to have go and look at these ideas and take them back
to their capitals and discuss them. And we will see what their
response is. But the way to look at this is to look at the Libyan
model, so they can recognize that their good faith would be met by the
good faith of the other parties in response.
But the first thing that has to happen, they have to commit to the
complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of their nuclear
program. So that's the first step.
Q Are you talking cash, energy -- in terms of the short-term
MR. McCLELLAN: Non-nuclear energy assistance; and talking about
some assurances on the security side, as well.
Q "Non-nuclear" meaning resume oil shipments?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, if -- that's what you're talking about.
Q U.S. --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you're talking about other countries would
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
MR. McCLELLAN: Those are the types of things. The way I would
describe it as now. I mean, obviously, they'll be talking about these
END 10:23 A.M. EDT