The transcript contains interesting responses on the evidence (or absence thereof) on who were the perptrators of the mass murder of 9/11. Particulary interesting are the evasive answers of Ari Fleischer to quesions regarding evidence. (The Webmaster).
Transcript: White House Daily Briefing, September 19, 2001
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer briefed.
Following is the White House transcript:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
September 19, 2001
PRESS BRIEFING BY ARI FLEISCHER
-- Readout/President's conversations with foreign leaders
- Unilateral response
-- Pakistani/Musharraf's speech
-- Stimulus package
-- Other nations/requests for cooperation
-- Military response
-- Evidence/Secretary Powell's comments
-- U.N. General Assembly/authorization
-- Airline bailout/other businesses
- Loss of jobs
-- Latin American countries/response
-- Possible Iraq involvement
-- American public/mind-set of war
- Possible draft
-- Attacks on Arab Americans, Sikhs
-- Taliban response
-- Irish terrorism
-- Possible additional attacks
-- Japan response/meeting with the President?
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
September 19, 2001
PRESS BRIEFING BY ARI FLEISCHER
The James S. Brady Briefing Room
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
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 month.
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 among nations.
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
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?
QUESTION: 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 them
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 surprising.
Q: You're confirming that you have shared information with Pakistan
and some other countries?
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
Q: But is it a coalition against terrorism activity in, for example,
Spain or Ireland or India?
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 friends.
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 the attack.
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 any --
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
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 of levels.
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
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 elsewhere.
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 others --
Q: Can you confirm those three?
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
And your third question?
MR. FLEISCHER: And what about it?
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 Pakistan's
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 nations operate.
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
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
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
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 point.
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 country?
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 immigrants.
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
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
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 will take.
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 we'll request.
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.
MR. 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
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 can get.
Q: May I follow up?
MR. FLEISCHER: Jim?
Q: May I follow up, Ari, please?
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
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 Tuesday?
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 follow up.
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 that.
Q: What kind of relationship is there between Osama bin Laden and the
MR. FLEISCHER: It's very close.
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
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 in 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
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
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.
END 2:58 P.M. EDT
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