For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 18, 2004
Press Gaggle by Claire Buchan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Reno, Nevada
1:28 P.M. PDT
MS. BUCHAN: I'll first give you his schedule. I've got a couple of announcements. I'll do the week ahead.
The President taped his radio address this morning. It's on job numbers, the improving economy. He then did a taping for the Farm Bureau, a message for the Farm Bureau. Then, as you saw, he made remarks to military personnel. He then did a regional roundtable. Some of you were asking yesterday the papers that that was with. It was with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Seattle Times and the Spokane Statesman -- or Spokesman.
Q Will there be a transcript of that? Will we get a transcript of it?
MS. BUCHAN: No. Then the President visited with wounded soldiers. There were 10 wounded soldiers. There was also one soldier that he presented the Silver Star to. He also gave each of those soldiers a coin, the commemorative Commander-in-Chief coin. He thanked them all for their service; asked them how they were doing; asked them how they were injured.
The President then met with families of fallen soldiers, for about two-and-a-half hours. There were 28 families, or families of 28 soldiers. There were 106 people.
And now he is on route to Nevada, where he will participate in a rally. And let me give you the Freedom Corps greeter there. It is Ron Kelstrup. He is 81 years old, and for the past 10 years, he's volunteered at a VA medical center in Reno, and he also -- he visits patients twice a week that are in a transitional care unit. He has a history of volunteer service, including teaching classes for the AARP and serving as a docent in the Eureka -- or Plumas-Eureka State Park in Johnsville, California.
And a couple of other things. We will be putting out -- actually, maybe I'll -- next week the President will participate in the Medal of Honor -- I'm sorry, Medal of Freedom awards. Let me tell you who he'll be presenting those to: to Robert Bartley, Edward Brooke, Doris Day, Vartan Gregorian, Gilbert Grosvenor, His Holiness Pope John Paul II, which he actually did when he was in the Vatican, Estee Lauder, Rita Moreno, Arnold Palmer, Arnall Patz, Norman Podhoretz, and Walter Wriston.
And with that, I'll take your questions.
Q Did Russian President Vladimir Putin or his government warn the U.S. government that Saddam Hussein was seeking to conduct terrorist attacks on the United States?
MS. BUCHAN: Well, as you know, we have ongoing cooperation with the Russian government, including in matters of intelligence. And we don't discuss specific intelligence matters. You might talk to CIA, see if they have any more information for you. But we don't discuss specific intelligence matters.
Q Is his description of the nature of the cooperation between U.S. and Russian intelligence accurate?
MS. BUCHAN: Mora, as I said, we have ongoing cooperation with the Russians on a variety of matters, including on intelligence matters. And we just don't discuss specific intelligence.
Q Do we have any information from any sources at all that Saddam Hussein ever sought to conduct terrorist attacks inside the United States?
MS. BUCHAN: Well, I think you've heard us talk about the information that we can. We've declassified as much information as we can to talk about the threat that Saddam Hussein posed. And clearly, he was a threat to America, to the world. He had America as a sworn enemy. And that is why the President repeatedly says the actions we took were right, and in removing Saddam Hussein from power we've made the world a safer place.
Q Is the President going to reach out to the Johnson family at all?
MS. BUCHAN: We'll keep you posted if there's anything to -- that we can share with you.
If you want, I can give you a little more information on the meetings with the families of the fallen soldiers.
Q Sure, go ahead.
MS. BUCHAN: It was in a very large room. There were 13 sort of subdivisions in the room that were done by kind of pipe and drape, and each of the families were in one of those rooms. And as I said, there were 28 families, and there were 13 rooms, so they kind of went through it a couple of times, if that makes sense.
Q So they had their own little area?
MS. BUCHAN: They had their own little area. They had chairs and rugs, so they were able to have -- it was almost like a little series of little living rooms.
Q So he met with each family separately?
MS. BUCHAN: Each family separately; talked with them about how they were doing; expressed to them his appreciation for their loved one; talked about how their loved one's sacrifice was not in vain, and how they were fighting for an important cause. Many of the family members urged him to continue to pursue the war on terror. There was hugging, there were tears, there were laughs, there were stories shared.
Q Were there tears on the part of the President, as well?
MS. BUCHAN: I'd say that it was a very emotional meeting, series of meetings.
Q One more question, if I may. Is the President pleased with how the Saudi government has handled the Johnson investigation and pursuing the killers?
MS. BUCHAN: You heard the President talk about the importance of bringing these killers to justice. I don't have any updates for you on the progress of that investigation, but we're in close cooperation with the Saudis, and they are allies in the war on terror.
Q Week ahead. Monday, the President will participate in a conversation on compassion in Cincinnati, Ohio. He will then attend a Victory 2004 dinner. On Tuesday, he'll meet with the Prime Minister of Hungary. He'll make remarks at the White House Black Music Month reception in the East Room. On Wednesday he will make remarks on compassion and HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia, he'll attend a Victory 2004 reception in Villanova, and then he'll participate in a ceremony for the 2004 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which we previously have talked about. Thursday at this time we don't have any events to announce.
On Friday, he'll depart for Shannon, Ireland, and then Saturday through Tuesday he will participate in Shannon, Ireland and Ankara and in Istanbul. He'll be going over there, as you know, for the NATO Summit.
Q Any schedules yet for the briefings by Condi and --
MS. BUCHAN: Not yet. I do anticipate Dr. Rice will do a pre-trip briefing next week, as we usually do. We'll keep you posted when that gets scheduled. I would expect it to be closer to the trip.
Q Thank you.
MS. BUCHAN: Okay, thanks.
END 1:37 P.M. PDT