09 July 2004
State Department Noon Briefing, July 9
Departmental issues, Afghanistan, Morocco, Israel/Palestinians, Lebanon, Cyprus, Indonesia, Greece, Miscellaneous
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher briefed reporters July 9.
Following is the transcript of the State Department briefing:
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
Friday, July 9, 2004
12:45 p.m. EST
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
-- Statement on Schedule for Afghan Presidential and Parliamentary
-- Washington Times Story on Special Ops at U.S. Embassies
-- U.S. Assistance in Elections
-- Election Security/President Karzai's Request for a larger NATO
-- The U.S.-Moroccan communiqué on Western Sahara
-- King Mohammed's Meeting with President Bush/Commitment to Work with
-- The International Court of Justice Ruling that the Israeli Barrier
is Contrary to International Law/Potential Impediment to Peaceful
-- Roadmap Process/Problems Facing the Peace Process
-- U.S. and International Views Toward Security Barrier
-- U.S. Concerns Regarding the Routing of the Wall/Changes in the
-- Withholding Loan Guarantees ^^Foreign Minister Shalom's Comments
During His Visit to the State Department
-- Update on Corporal Hassoun/Departure
-- Steps to Ease Isolation of Turkish Cypriots/U.S. Aid Programs -----
-- Channel for Distribution for U.S. Programs
-- Bringing Turkish Cypriots Closer to Europe
Reasons for U.S. Action
-- Responsibility for the Isolation of the Turkish Cypriots
-- Bicommunal Activities/Economic Development/Financial Restructuring
-- Sergeant Jenkins Reunites With His Family
-- Security for the Olympics
-- Senate Intelligence Report
-- Secretary Powell's Presentation at the United Nations /Faulty
Information/Saddam Hussein's Desire to Acquire Weapons of Mass
-- Improvement and Reform of Intelligence
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, JULY 9, 2004
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
12:45 p.m. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. If I can tell you about one thing off the top, I'd be glad to take your questions afterwards. I want to say that I think many of you might have seen the announcement by the Afghan Joint Electoral Management Body on Afghanistan's elections being scheduled for October, presidential elections in October and parliamentary elections in the spring of 2005.
The United States welcomes this decision. We think that the elections will mark another major step in the -- Afghanistan's transition to a constitutional representative government and then constitute another milestone. We join the Afghan Government in fully supporting the electoral body's decision and we'll do our part to assist these historic elections.
Despite the threats and attacks by the Taliban, the Afghan people have a strong desire to exercise their democratic rights and they are registering in large numbers for the elections. The most recent numbers I have is that 6 million Afghans are registered for the elections and that 39 percent of those people are women. Those of you who have followed this in detail have recognized this represents a continued strong increase from earlier numbers.
QUESTION: Could you give us an idea what assistance the U.S. might or will provide?
MR. BOUCHER: I think you've seen us all along supporting the political process in Afghanistan with funding, with training, with expertise, whatever the Afghans needed. We've been, obviously, contributors to the UN effort to organize the elections and, obviously, the effort that we make to provide more security in Afghanistan is part of that, too.
So without any particular numbers or details tied to this election -- I don't have anything like that right at this moment -- I'd say that there are a variety of ways we can find to support this effort and we'll do so in any way we can, based on whatever the Afghanistan Government thinks they need.
QUESTION: President Karzai had said at the -- had asked NATO to send some more troops a little bit earlier because he thought that would help in the election process. Are you concerned at all that the security will -- the security situation in the country will be a factor in the elections?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's the other way around. We are concerned about security enough to emphasize in the President's meetings at NATO and the follow-up that we've done with NATO the importance of getting the security right for the elections. Security is obviously a factor and we're working with other NATO partners to make sure that we do what's necessary to provide that security.
QUESTION: But he had asked for the troops kind of well before the election because he thought that that would, you know, help the process along up until the day of the election. Do you think he'll get the --
MR. BOUCHER: I think NATO is moving as quickly as it can and will move to try to meet President Karzai's requirements.
QUESTION: Is this on Afghanistan?
QUESTION: Okay, go ahead.
MR. BOUCHER: Teri.
QUESTION: It's just a small point. But we've seen two different reports, one that is the 9th and one that it's the 1st. What date do you have?
MR. BOUCHER: I've got October 9th as the date that the Joint Electoral Management Body set. That's -- they're the people who have to set it, but that's what I've been told.
QUESTION: One more on Afghanistan?
MR. BOUCHER: One more on Afghanistan.
QUESTION: It's on a different topic on Afghanistan, though, if that's okay.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: Do you have any more on these American citizens that have been detained? I know you spoke about it yesterday.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have anything more today. We checked. There was really no update. Nothing new to say about it.
QUESTION: The U.S.-Moroccan communiqué on Western Sahara doesn't mention any more the bigger plan for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. Does this mean that President Bush didn't engage the King of Morocco to seek a solution along the lines of the bigger plan in the context of the United Nations?
MR. BOUCHER: No, in fact, it was discussed yesterday at the meetings. And I think the statement that the White House put out didn't go into everything that was discussed, but they talked about a whole range of bilateral and foreign policy issues including Iraq, the process that the King has put forward of political and social reform in the country, the free trade agreement and the situation in Western Sahara.
On the Western Sahara, the President and the Secretary urged the King to work toward rapprochement with neighbor Algeria, as a means to create an environment conducive to settlement of the issue. The Secretary expressed a commitment to work with the United Nations and with the parties to the conflict: Morocco, Algeria, the Polisario Front and Mauritania, along the lines of the peace plan that was put forward by James Baker, who until June of this year was the Secretary General's personal envoy to the Western Sahara.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: Ma'am.
QUESTION: Yeah. The ICJ ruling has found that the Israel barrier to be illegal and contrary to international law. What's the U.S. position on the ruling? And do you think U.S. foreign policy will change at all towards the wall?
MR. BOUCHER: We're just getting the ruling and we will be studying it in coming days. The advisory opinion was issued this morning pursuant to requests that came from the UN General Assembly on the construction of the Israeli security barrier. We would note that the opinion is not legally binding.
We did, along with a number of other states, we did not support the General Assembly resolution that referred the matter to the court, and also like a number of other states, we submitted a written statement with the court discouraging it from taking up the General Assembly's request and from taking any actions that would interfere with, or be inconsistent with the peace efforts that we are pursuing in accordance with the roadmap.
So it remains our view that this referral to the court was inappropriate and that, in fact, it could impede efforts to achieve progress towards a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians.
QUESTION: Just to follow up on that. It's not legally binding, but the international law is legally binding that it bases its decision upon. And the court decision also finds that states that are supporting the Israeli war -- the Israeli wall to be in contrary with international law. Are you afraid that this might --
MR. BOUCHER: I think that's kind of a convoluted argument. The International Court of Justice rulings are international law and this piece of international law is not binding. The point, I think, that we have made, again and again, is that the way to resolve the issues between Israelis and Palestinians, the way to create a Palestinian state is through the political process, through the roadmap process. And that's where the United States has placed and continues to place its emphasis. It's not through a court ruling such as this, particularly one that we didn't think was appropriate under international law.
QUESTION: Do you trust that this non-binding decision will impede efforts to find a solution?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it may complicate the process. It could --
MR. BOUCHER: -- distract from the political work at hand. We don't -- I know there has been talk about taking this back to the UN. We don't think there is a need for General Assembly action at this point. We think the efforts of the parties ought to be placed on ceasing the opportunity that can be created for progress on the roadmap.
QUESTION: So, primarily, that it's a distraction then or a potential distraction?
MR. BOUCHER: That's right. I think there is also a legal question that we addressed in our filing that there is a use of this advisory opinion jurisdiction is a -- creates the appearance that there is a way of circumventing the right of states to determine whether to submit their disputes to judicial settlement. So it also sort of diverts the -- some of the issues into a channel that we don't think they are productively addressed.
QUESTION: I'm perplexed why this would be such a distraction when the peace process has had to chug along despite all kinds of other things like the Iraq war or 9/11, enormous world events that siphoned attention elsewhere. I mean, I don't see why this --
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't say this was the only problem that the peace process has faced. But, certainly, with all of the different facts that need to be dealt with, realities that need to be dealt with, we don't need to be creating other things that can be distracting or that can take people's attention away from the matter at hand.
QUESTION: But the U.S. has expressed its own displeasure with the barrier, so what --
MR. BOUCHER: We certainly have, and we haven't changed our policy on that.
QUESTION: -- so what's the problem with the international -- with an international expression of the same --
MR. BOUCHER: It's not merely an international expression of the same thing. There have been many international expressions of concern, including statements that we have sponsored and worked with our Quartet partners which represent a very broad spectrum of the international community. So, as a political matter, as a political statement of U.S. views and international views, we think that it is appropriate because this ultimately is a political negotiation that has to be resolved between the parties and others have to have views on things.
There is a binding court ruling in Israel where the Israeli Supreme Court made a binding decision that directed that significant changes be made in one portion of the barrier and signals that changes might be required every -- elsewhere. As a result of that, the routing of the fence is now under active review within Israeli political, military and legal processes.
So the United States hasn't changed its view. There's a binding court decision in Israel and there's also an attempt on our part to seize the opportunities to move forward on the political process. We think that's where the focus should be and that's how people should try to move forward.
QUESTION: Could you restate your view of the wall, or the fence, the barrier?
MR. BOUCHER: Our concerns have been about the routing of the barrier, the wall, that it not unduly affect the Palestinian population by taking away land or making it hard for them to get to fields or jobs; second of all, that it not try to prejudice the ultimate outcome of negotiations. And I think I'll leave it at that.
QUESTION: When the Foreign Minister was here, he said that the barrier has been very important in reducing attacks on Israel. The U.S. wants to see violence down as a way -- actually, as a necessity in order to move ahead. Does the U.S. agree with Israel that the barrier has been effective?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the points that we have made about the barrier have not been about its existence or its utility.
QUESTION: Right, right.
MR. BOUCHER: Or the role it has or might play in resolving security issues. The point that we have made is that the routing of the barrier leads to these complications that I just talked about and, frankly, that's similar to some of the things the Israeli supreme court said the other day. And we have pressed, as you know, for the barrier, the routing of the barrier, to be looked at carefully and to be reconsidered in some places and we have seen some changes, and now the Israeli political, military and legal processes are looking at what further changes might be necessary because of their own court decision.
QUESTION: But, Richard, you also looked within U.S. law to determine whether this -- whether certain parts of the fence, the barrier, kind of met U.S. restrictions for governing the aid to Israel; isn't that right?
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, you mean the withholding of the loan guarantees?
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, we looked at that. I don't know that I ever gave you a final answer on that one, actually.
QUESTION: Well, actually --
MR. BOUCHER: Whether it would constitute part of the future deductions, that's not something I guess we'll answer at the time.
QUESTION: So you -- but, I mean, you were looking at -- what I'm saying is that you were looking at the legalities from your point of view. So are you making a distinction between this particular --
MR. BOUCHER: The U.S. law on loan guarantees is very particular law. It's not a -- it's not an attempt to dictate international jurisprudence.
QUESTION: Can we ask you about the corporal? Did you --
QUESTION: Can we stay on this subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Still on this subject, Teri?
QUESTION: Yeah. When Shalom was here, he also asked the U.S. to help make sure that the Palestinians didn't "throw a party at the UN," I think he said. What did he mean? What was he asking you to do, come out and make statements like this urging people not to take this ruling so seriously?
MR. BOUCHER: If you want to ask him what he meant by the phrase, I think you'll have to ask him.
QUESTION: Well, he said he -- what did he ask you to do or what are you willing to do?
MR. BOUCHER: As far as what he might want or say or expect, you can ask him.
QUESTION: What are you willing to do?
MR. BOUCHER: As far as the United States' position, it's the one that I said a few minutes ago, that we don't think there's any grounds for further action at the United Nations.
QUESTION: So that would constitute throwing a party?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know whether it would constitute throwing a party at the United Nations. I haven't been to any parties up there.
QUESTION: On Cyprus, Mr. Boucher.
MR. BOUCHER: Slow down, then. Who was going to change the subject? Barry was going to change it first.
QUESTION: I don't think it'll take very long. I'd like to hear what you might have heard from the Marine corporal before he was turned over to the military. Did you establish at least whether he truly was a hostage?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have any further information for you on how Corporal Hassoun got to Lebanon and the path that he followed, what the circumstances were between his departure from his unit to his arrival at the Embassy in Beirut. I can confirm that at 8:40 a.m. Washington time today Marine Corporal Wassef Ali Hassoun departed Lebanon on a military aircraft. Corporal Hassoun arrived at the Embassy last night about 6 p.m. He came voluntarily. He remained at the Embassy while Embassy and Department of Defense officials worked out the arrangements for his departure.
I also note that we greatly appreciate the Government of Lebanon's support and cooperation in allowing the military aircraft to land at Beirut International Airport in order to ensure the transportation of Corporal Hassoun out of Lebanon.
So at this point he's back in the hands of -- back with our military people and further questions about the debriefing and what happens next will have to go to the Pentagon.
QUESTION: Is the handover just simply because he's a military person or is this some way of reinforcing the notion that maybe he really was a deserter or in some way had faked the kidnapping?
MR. BOUCHER: It's not an attempt to make any judgment or reinforce any notion. He's a military person. That's where he belongs.
QUESTION: Has he --
QUESTION: Is he free to leave military control if he wishes or --
MR. BOUCHER: That's a question you'd have to address to the Pentagon. I don't think soldiers are generally free to leave if they wish.
QUESTION: Could you give us --
MR. BOUCHER: At least from the movies I've seen.
QUESTION: Do you have any information on his health status or --
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have anything more than that. He was, I guess, in good enough shape to travel, had him at the Embassy last night, that we were able to make the arrangements for him to go on today.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, on Cyprus. Any comment on the EU proposal to give to the Turkish Cypriots $350 million and communicate with the high level of the Republic of Cyprus? And did you agree?
MR. BOUCHER: The European announcements were, I think, part of a package of steps that they have been taking and we welcome those steps. We have supported the idea that steps need to be taken to ease the isolation of Turkish Cypriots. In fact, the United States is planning on providing $30.5 million this year in fiscal year '04 to aid the economic development of Northern Cyprus and the economic integration of the island in support of eventual reunification.
This package will have a variety of measures, including programs in support of financial restructuring and small and medium enterprises in Northern Cyprus and continued bicommunal activities to promote reconciliation. The funds will be available to start implementation of these programs this year.
I'd note that we do continue to provide assistance to the Republic of Cyprus in the form of bicommunal and educational exchange programs.
QUESTION: Can you --
QUESTION: Excuse me, my question is are you going to provide this via the Republic of Cyprus or direct to the Turkish Cypriots?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll have to double-check on the exact mechanism, but we have, I think, directed this money specifically at the Turkish Cypriot community to help them.
QUESTION: And also, did you revise, finally, your policy over Cyprus according to your plan to (inaudible) new measures for the Turkish Cypriot, punishing the government of the Republic of Cyprus and the referenda?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have made very clear we're not punishing anybody. We are taking steps to ease the isolation of Turkish Cypriots. We have announced a series of steps already and we'll continue and announce things as appropriate.
QUESTION: But do you think that this movement by EU and by the United States and by the UN is helping the solution or is hurting more, recognizing the Turkish invasion occupation and operating the Turkish army --
MR. BOUCHER: This is not about recognition. This is not about the Turkish army. This is about supporting the Turkish Cypriots who sought to join a new arrangement that would get all Cypriots into Europe. This is about --
MR. BOUCHER: This is about easing their economic isolation. This is about giving them the wherewithal and the ability to become closer to Europe; and, in fact, this is about maintaining the aspiration of the Turkish Cypriot community to be part of a united Cyprus in Europe.
QUESTION: How you can reassure that those specific members -- numbers of -- they're -- they're not going to the settlers or to the invasion forces?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the programs are designed to target other things, financial restructuring, small-medium enterprises, these sorts of things.
QUESTION: I don't understand. You used isolation three times. Once you called it economic isolation. Who's isolating the Turkish Cypriots? Who's -- apparently that's -- you don't approve of "isolation." They're certainly not isolated from Turkey, who supports them. They're not recognized as an -- only Turkey recognizes Turkish Cypriots as an independent state.
Are you -- number one, who's isolating them? Who's bad behavior are you trying to neutralize or undo? And secondly, aren't you supporting the acceleration of Turkish Cypriots to statehood? Isn't that what you're doing?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: And aren't you doing this at a peak because the Greek Cypriots rejected the agreement? I mean, that's turned everything around. You had a position on that part of the island, which was invaded by Turkey, and now it's shifting because the Greeks said no, right?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I get two minutes now?
QUESTION: Three, if you want.
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I'll take three.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll take three. It's not about recognition. It's not about changing our policy of recognition. It's about a community that has been isolated by the world, by the trading nations of the world because of bureaucratic and other procedures that prevented them from selling their goods directly, that prevented them from using their ports and airports directly and that basically isolated them, that didn't recognize some of their procedures and certificates and things like that, so they couldn't sell vegetables without a proper certificate.
Well, we think that it's time for the international community to find ways to have certificates for their vegetables. We think it's time for the international community to find ways to fly in and out of their airports. We think it's time for the international community to find ways to use their ports and to let them travel more freely, as most people -- as other people from Cyprus already do.
This is not about a legal formalistic diplomatic recognition policy. It's not about a state. It's about letting people trade, about letting people travel. It's about letting people become more part of Europe, since they have evidence -- their own desire to become more a part of Europe.
QUESTION: But Mr. Boucher --
QUESTION: Their support show that they want to be more a part of Europe.
MR. BOUCHER: And we have seen --
QUESTION: But this is the United States you're speaking for. Is there anything the U.S. intends to do or can do directly to help the economy of Turk -- of -- I mean, you know, it's a European action. I don't understand why the U.S. is so upfront, taking upfrontal position here.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, first of all, the question was about the Europeans already announcing --
MR. BOUCHER: -- hundreds of millions, I think it was, and I am now announcing that there is 30.5 million US to follow. So I'm not -- I like to be upfront. I like to lead the pack here, but I'm not necessarily claiming that quite this time.
Second of all, I think the United States has cared for a long time about Cyprus. We've had many people from our most illustrious diplomats to certain humble ambassadors who have tried to work on this problem and tried to help settlement. And the effort that was made in the last year, I think, showed quite clearly the Turkish Cypriot community was prepared to stand up and be part of a settlement, that they wanted to stand up and be part of Europe.
We think that's a sentiment that deserves support and encouragement, and to the extent the United States can do that through its aid programs, through measures we have already announced, allowing people to travel a little bit more freely, giving them longer visas and things like that, we're going to do that, too, because we think the overall cause of allowing the Turkish Cypriots to maintain that settlement and to move forward in their aspiration to be part of a united island in Europe is a good one because that's something we have long worked hard for.
QUESTION: And Mr. Boucher --
MR. BOUCHER: Let's let somebody else -- two people ask questions.
QUESTION: One question? It's very important.
MR. BOUCHER: No, let's ask somebody else.
QUESTION: Just two simple questions on Cyprus.
MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.
QUESTION: What do you mean by supporting bicommunal activities? Are you talking about soccer games between kids on both sides? What are you actually talking about?
MR. BOUCHER: There have been for many years a whole variety of activities whether it's planning the connection of the water system or the electricity grid, working together on issues that affect both communities, environmental issues, forestry projects, these are all sort of dated examples from the time I was there. I'm sure that there are many more newer examples since then.
QUESTION: It would be nice to just have a sense of what you meant by that. And the other thing is --
MR. BOUCHER: We have an existing aid program that's very concentrated on bicommunal activities that cover the full gamut of architecture and forestry instincts.
QUESTION: Just a simple question. We're giving 30 mil, 30.5 U.S. government funds to them. It would be nice to have a clearer idea of what it was for.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, this -- that's the other program I said we'll continue. This is more directed at economic development, financial restructuring in the Turkish Cypriot community, small and medium enterprises in the northern part of Cyprus, and other -- and bicommunal activities. But it gives you some idea.
QUESTION: I'll drop it. Thank you.
MR. BOUCHER: To the extent we can detail at this moment how the 30.5 million will be spent, I'll see if there is more detail, but it may be we just haven't gotten there yet until we identify projects.
QUESTION: Is that what you were referring to, the 30 point, for example --
QUESTION: Richard, can we -- if I could please say that the U.S. is lifting diplomatic and economic sanctions on --
MR. BOUCHER: I wouldn't say that. What the United States is doing is, in addition to other measures that we've taken, we're now providing some $30.5 million to support economic development and growth in the Turkish Cypriot community.
QUESTION: There has been no previous economic assistance to economic --
MR. BOUCHER: There had been a regular budget for many years that went into bicommunal activities that involved people from both communities. This is an additional amount of money specifically targeted to help the Turkish Cypriots.
Yeah. Okay. We have more on this topic?
QUESTION: Yes, I have more.
MR. BOUCHER: Sir.
QUESTION: In your opinion, who is responsible for the isolation: the Greek Cypriots or the occupied forces?
MR. BOUCHER: None of the above.
QUESTION: And in the meantime, Mr. Boucher, according to the EU green line regulation, the Turkish Cypriots could easily transfer all the products given to the Republic of Cyprus to any destination. Why you are talking so much and (inaudible) of isolation in this case?
MR. BOUCHER: Because you know as well as I do that that never worked, that that was never feasible in any practical terms.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) disagree with the EU --
MR. BOUCHER: The EU, I think, has decided to accept certificates from Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, if I'm correct.
QUESTION: That's great, but they have to do the business via the Republic of Cyprus and not from the illegal port in the (inaudible). That's our disagreement. Respond.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm sorry you disagree, but we think these are the right measures.
QUESTION: And the last question, please. Please state for me in which authority the U.S. Government is going to provide all $35 million. Which authority exactly? Who --
MR. BOUCHER: I will check for you on the channel for distribution for these programs.
QUESTION: Further aspect on Cyprus. They've deported 10 Pakistani students. Apparently, there's a large expatriate community there linked to al-Qaida and now the deportation is back to Pakistan. Would you prefer that those students go to Guantanamo?
MR. BOUCHER: I have no idea what this is about. I think you'd have to ask the Greek Cypriot authorities, the Cypriot government -- the Republic of Cyprus Government, if that the gentleman is going to be questioning every word I say -- about the reasons for the deportation.
QUESTION: Only because the timing is awkward, I'm asking you to try to comment on something that hasn't happened yet: the Senate Intelligence report. It's Friday and the report is coming out, and by all accounts it's critical of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Secretary of State went to the UN and made a passionate plea and he has subsequently said when these weapons were not found that he was relying on information or analysis from the CIA. And it seems by all accounts the Senate committee will say that analysis was faulty, that caveats were not passed along to the NSC and I suppose to the Secretary.
The report isn't out yet, but I say --
MR. BOUCHER: I think it's probably coming out now because it's been discussed in press conferences --
QUESTION: It's coming out now. Do you have some preliminary observation?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I think the President has addressed the issue. I know the White House has addressed the issue. At this point, I would merely, I think, echo what they have said, that obviously we want to have the best intelligence we can in this government. The President has emphasized again and again he looks forward to this report, he looks forward to the 9/11 report and any suggestions and recommendations about how intelligence can be improved.
The Administration has been committed to improving intelligence and reforming intelligence, and I'm sure they will continue to work on that and use these reports to do that further.
As far as the Secretary's presentation on February 5th of 2003, I think it's important to remember that he was there to present the best information we had at the time. Some of that information, we've learned subsequently, was flawed or faulty, and I think that's something the Secretary has spoken about before. The basic case that this Administration made, that the Secretary made, was that Saddam Hussein led a dangerous regime that we had to deal with and that there were many unanswered questions that were from the UN that the UN had raised in the past, that other intelligence had raised in the past, that had not been answered and that the regime had not complied with the UN resolutions.
So there were a whole series of issues that the Secretary raised in that presentation. Some of the intelligence that he presented was not -- you know, was flawed. We know that now. But the basic point that this was a regime that wanted weapons of mass destruction, that wanted to develop weapons of mass destruction, and that was a continuing danger to the region, I think that premise is sustained by what we've known since.
QUESTION: Thank you, but one other thing, if I may, on the business of the State Department's own Intelligence and Research Bureau. Do you have the impression that their views, their reservations, were treated with the respect and the attention they deserved?
MR. BOUCHER: I think from the pieces of the National Intelligence Estimates that have already been published, you all know that our own Intelligence and Research Bureau took footnotes on some of the important questions and stated pretty clear views specifically about the nuclear program and, you know, in hindsight looks pretty accurate. We considered all the views, including and especially the views of our own people, but you'll have to remember that in the end the National Intelligence Estimate is the consensus best judgment of our intelligence community as a whole and that's what the presentation was based on.
QUESTION: I don't want to quibble, but as I understand it, that judgment was reduced to one footnote, albeit one page long, but there's a question whether State got enough representation, representation on what was sent along. You don't feel they were sort of short -- whatever?
MR. BOUCHER: I think, you know, they're analysts with great integrity. They're people who speak their mind in the interagency discussions or in their memos or in their own analysis that they present at various times to the Secretary and others in this building. They fight for what they believe in and I think they did so and felt that their views were reflected accurately in the Intelligence Estimate that was proposed.
QUESTION: Will the Secretary apologize for those errors that were presented to the United Nations?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think that's really the question. The question is finding out where the errors came from, why some of this information was faulty and determining what we can do to get better intelligence.
QUESTION: And you don't think the Secretary has a responsibility, having presented that to the United Nations as fact, to, now that we know that it's not, to set the record straight on --
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary presented, on behalf of the Administration, the best information that we had, that the intelligence community had. It was similar and, in fact, based on 15 years of information and intelligence collection that others in the world had, that the UN had collected, that led the Clinton Administration to bomb Iraq or, at one point, to scramble troops to Iraq. It was -- the basic case was a correct one that Iraq wanted weapons of mass destruction and wanted to have the capability to produce them.
The stockpiles question, stockpiles have not been found but there's still the Iraq Survey Group doing its work. So the definitive -- the more definitive statement or the full extent of the program, what was wrong, what was not, is really still yet to come.
QUESTION: But the Secretary put his reputation on the line when he made that presentation to the United Nations, and we now know, based on this report, that those were not true. Do you think the Secretary feels some sort of sense now that he needs to set the record straight and to present himself --
MR. BOUCHER: I think the Secretary has been quite clear in the remarks he's made, and you can see it in things that he's said when he's been asked this question over many months now. He's been quite up front that some of these pieces were not -- haven't proven true, haven't been proven out. He's made clear that at times he's been disappointed with some of the information that he presented, and he did that on behalf of the whole Administration and the intelligence community.
At the same time, he's always said we did the right thing, that it was clear that Saddam Hussein had the intent and the capability to have these weapons, that he had used them in the past and there was no reason to conclude that he did not have any of them anymore, and that therefore it was a danger that had to be dealt with.
QUESTION: Richard, this morning, there was a front page story in The Washington Times, basically I guess I could sum up by saying that the State Department is curtailing defense, meaning Department of Defense activities. Do you think that's justified and is this report that is being issued today by Congress having any bearing on what your --
MR. BOUCHER: We saw the story. I'm not sure it's in any way related to the intelligence committee's report that's coming out today. I think it's important to remember, first, I can't go into how we organize our intelligence activities overseas in any way. It's just one of the constraints we operate under.
But U.S. ambassadors around the world have as one of their priorities, as their highest priority, fighting the war on terrorism overseas, and their job is to use all the tools of the U.S. Government in a coordinated and integrated fashion to achieve the most effective program against terrorism in their country. Different countries that might be a different mix, different mix of tools, but their job as the President's representative is to coordinate these activities, integrate these activities and make sure that we have the most effective fight possible against terrorism. That's what our ambassadors do around the world. Different places might mean different elements are appropriate.
QUESTION: Sergeant Jenkins has now had what reports, well, I suppose an emotional reunion with his Japanese wife in Indonesia. Do you have any comment or reaction on this?
MR. BOUCHER: I really don't have anything further to say. We all saw this as a humanitarian question. We're glad to see that he's been able to meet with his family. And yes, it was -- we've seen the pictures on TV. It was emotional. But as far as the U.S. position, we've said as a humanitarian matter we thought this was appropriate but that it remains that Sergeant Jenkins potentially faces serious charges should he be in a place where he's subject to U.S. jurisdiction.
QUESTION: Does the fact that he's now out of North Korea, does that change at all the U.S. Government's plan to resolve this situation or approach to resolving this situation?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware of any change in that regard at this point, no.
QUESTION: Could you update the U.S. cabinet consultation with the Japanese cabinet on this case? And also, have you got any contact with the Indonesian Government on this specific case?
MR. BOUCHER: The Secretary talked about it with the Indonesian Foreign Minister when he was in Indonesia last week, so it's certainly, yes, we've had contact about this with the Indonesian Government. And also, the Japanese Foreign Minister informed him of the plans that were being made when they met last week as well.
So, we've stayed in touch with the Japanese Government, with the Indonesian Government. We're obviously interested in the situation. But as I said again, we view it as a humanitarian one and think it's appropriate for him to be able to get together with his family like this.
QUESTION: Has the Secretary made any legalistic request to Indonesia counterpart?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not aware that there are any grounds for doing that.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, on the Olympic Games. According to the USA Today front page story dealing with Greece, there is a great fear on the Olympics security situation, so I am wondering if you could comment.
MR. BOUCHER: I did not see that particular story, but I think you know that we have been working very closely with the Greek Government on security for the Olympics. I think you've seen some announcements from NATO on what they could do and we will continue to work with the Greek Government to try to help support their plans to ensure security for the Olympics. We feel that the process has been progressing well and we'll continue to work with them as the Olympics arrive.
QUESTION: Are you satisfied so far? And also, do you trust the Greeks that they're going to succeed for this effect?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we have every expectation the Greek Government is doing everything possible to ensure safe Games.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:25 p.m.)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|