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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 4, 1993
                            PRESS BRIEFING
                       BY GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

                          The Briefing Room

12:43 P.M. EST

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The President spoke this morning with Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato. They spoke for about 15 minutes about Bosnia.

Q Summit sites?

Q Was it about a defense fund?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Not that I know of, no.

Q Did they talk about summit sites?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't think they did.

Q Florence, Rome --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: No, I'm afraid they didn't. Wishful thinking, Andrea. (Laughter.) Florence in April -- not bad. All right, they did talk about Bosnia. The Italian Prime Minister expressed his strong support for the U.S. actions and it was a good conversation. They did also talk about the possibility of a visit from the Italian Prime Minister sometime later this year, and we expect that will happen but there are no specifics.

Also, we will be releasing a photograph of President Carter's visit with the President this afternoon. And I believe that President Carter will come down later in the afternoon to brief. He'd like to --

Q Here?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: -- yes, in this room.

Q He's going to brief?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: He wants to brief on the Atlanta Project.

Q Will the other President join us?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't think so.

Q At what time do you expect that?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm not sure. We'll have a time soon.

Q Will that be available on camera?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll have to ask him. I don't know.


Q George, on the --

Q The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation --

Q How dare I. (Laughter.)

Q have both come up with completely different numbers on both the revenue estimates and the spending. Will the White House now look for more cuts to try to meet CBO's numbers, because otherwise they will not make $140 billion in deficit reduction in Fiscal '97?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I think this is the first of many reestimates that we've seen this year. There will be several more reestimates between now and the time the budget is finally passed, we hope later this summer. This is a very common occurrence. I would point out that this reestimate by the Congressional Budget Office is the lowest reestimate in 14 years -- only $1.5 billion. For 1988, CBO estimates the deficit will be $12.9 billion lower than we claimed. And in the end, the bottom line is still the same. In fact, the CBO estimate is $204.9 billion for the deficit and ours is about $206.7 billion. So in 1997 we still come out at the same number on the deficit.

These kinds of estimates happen all the time. There are some differences over the revenue projection, some differences over the spending. Some very big differences in the assumptions -- we start from different baselines. We still end up in the same place.

Q Did the Chief of Staff tell a group of Democrats this morning on the Hill that he did not want more budget cuts because it would make the package harder to get through Congress?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I wasn't at the meeting. As you know, the President has said that he is open to hearing ideas on more budget cuts, and we remain open to ideas on more budget cuts. And if we see ones that we can accept through the budget process, we'll certainly consider them.

Q George, what is the White House's position on the question of availability of the names of the members of the health care reform commission?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: At this point, as you know, the Health Care Task Force is members of the Cabinet along with Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Gore, and that's well-known. We also have different people working from various agencies who are working on various aspects of the health care reform. I don't know that we have a list ready to release at this time, but I can look into it.

Q Is there some reason why you'd be not willing to make those names available?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I can look into it. Again, we have not released them to date. I don't know that we have them in a form right now where we can release every name. I'm not sure of the status of everybody who's done some work on the task force, but we can look at it.

Q Is there an unwillingness to make the names available, or what?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I'll look into it. I'll just look into it.

Q What is the position of the openness of the meetings? I gather that there is some attorney's opinion that says that this doesn't fit under the sunshine law, is that right? Would you explain that to me?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think that we --

Q What was he whispering about? (Laughter.)

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: He's asking about the openness of the Health Care Task Force meetings. I think at this point our position is that the law doesn't apply in this case.

Q Why?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Because this is made up of Cabinet members and Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Gore who are clearly not outside advisors in any reasonable interpretation of the law. And that is what we are arguing -- that's what the Justice Department is arguing.

Q can we have a list of the witnesses every day?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We haven't had any formal hearings of that kind that would require giving out a list of the witnesses.

Q they have certain people down to hear their views, and it would be very helpful if we could get a list of those.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We'll look into that.

Q What is Clinton's rationale --

Q George, have either the Bosnian Serbs --

Q Excuse me -- one more question on that subject. Outside consultants, some of whom are paid, some of whom aren't, their identities are also of great interest. And I'm interested in finding out what the -- if ethical rules apply to them; or can consultants come in and contribute to a plan that they could then be involved in the solution, so to speak? Build it around their own solutions.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I'll have to check into that. I believe that there is some level -- the rules do apply at some level. But I don't have the details, and we can get back to you on that.

Q Can you get back to me on that?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Absolutely, sure.

Q George, the leader of the Bosnian Serbs is warning that the U.S. might face a terrorist attack and made reference to the World Trade Center bombing, and saying that's testimony to the dangers of direct involvement over there. Do you have any response to that?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, we are making our view known directly to the Bosnian Serbs. There are very strong views on that point. Needless to say, that kind of statement is not helpful.

Q Do you consider that a threat?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, we're making our views about that letter known very directly to the Bosnian Serbs at this point.

Q What views are you taking --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Through diplomatic channels.

Q Through State or through the U.N.?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I believe it's through State and U.N.

Q What are those views?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We feel very strongly, but I don't want to get into the details of the diplomatic communication. But as I said, it's not helpful.

Q been worrying about how these possible terrorists got in here, from Serbia or wherever they're from. Do you know, any of those people could be coming across the Mexican border every day. And a thousand people at even just one checkpoint come across every night -- illegal aliens, coming here to -- increase the citizenship here, looking for jobs.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We're doing the best we can to police our borders and also to make sure this economy grows so we can have jobs for all Americans. At the same time, I don't think we should take from any of these statements any conclusion about who may or may not have participated in this incident at the World Trade Center.

Q Yes, but you're not doing the best you can on that border patrol.


Q You're not doing the best you can -- a thousand a day are getting in there.


Q Could she explain what she's talking about.

Q at just one point, at San Diego, a thousand a day.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: And the Customs Service will be looking into that.

Q not doing it. It's the border patrol.

Q George, you said that the Italian Prime Minister had expressed concern to the President about --


Q Concerns or support?


Q George, on this CBO -- on this revised CBO estimate that the revenue you generate could fall $50 or $60 billion short over five years -- won't that put increased pressure from Republicans and conservative Democrats on you, on the White House to come up with some more cuts?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, again, this isn't the final estimate. We are working with the CBO and we still believe that our numbers are good numbers, and we're working with them on their various estimates. A lot of the differences are technical differences that come about from not necessarily knowing how to implement the new policies that we have. So we're not excepting that number necessarily.

Q Wait a minute, you guys made a huge big deal about how there's going to be truth in budgeting because we, virtuous we, are taking the CBO numbers and not any --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: CBO growth estimates.

Q Ohhhh.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: That's exactly what that point --

Q Are these CBO growth estimates unchanged?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: This does not -- this is not have to do with growth estimates. This is different pricing estimates on the revenues --

Q If you believe in the CBO, you believe in the CBO.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: That's not necessarily true. These are very technical issues that even the CBO will change on at times, the different agencies change on at times, that the OMB changes on at times, that HICFA changes on at times. These things change continually. They're very complex and they're very technical and we're going to continue to work with them. That is not to say that we are not going to look for more budget cuts which we are always open to.

Q Are you open to reducing COLA's on entitlements, excluding Social Security -- one idea that some of the conservatives have floated?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, we -- the President did not propose that in his budget package.

Q Is he open to that as a possibility?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't want to rule anything in or out at this time. I mean, if the Congress comes forward and all parties can agree, it's certainly something we would look at. The President's package is out there and we are now working to get that passed.

Q George, on the CBO business. Why did the White House accept the CBO's growth estimate projections but not the CBO's baseline?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, the base line -- we actually took a more conservative baseline, one that had even a higher deficit this year. We wanted to make sure that we did everything we could to have a conservative approach.

Q On the summit, did the President talk to Lech Walesa last night, and did he say he'd consider Warsaw for the site?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: He talked to Lech Walesa yesterday and he did say that he would consider Warsaw. But w e don't have any announcement on the summit right now.

Q Did Walesa say that he had any indications of trouble, that the actual summit may be in doubt?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Oh, not at all. No.

Q What was that not at all?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: That the summit might be doubt.

Q And whose idea was Warsaw -- did Walesa bring it up?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I believe so, yes.

Q It was Walesa's invitation, but not something that had been considered before the call?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Not that I know of, no.

Q Have the Russians accepted Warsaw?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We don't have an announcement on a summit right now.

Q On health care, I'm a little bit unclear about what the White House policy is. There are private individuals who are not members of Congress or congressional staff or White House staff who are part of some of the working groups -- is that correct?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I'd have to double-check, but I believe so. I believe that people might be submitting testimony, yes.

Q Who come to the White House for working meetings -- is that correct? Outside consultants who are not government employees, either executive or congressional. I think that's been widely reported --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I believe that people are being widely consulted and being asked for their views on this. Again, I don't know if that would necessarily constitute membership in a working group.

Q Are you saying the working groups may just be congressional staff and executive branch staff?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I believe the working groups are basically congressional staff and government staff. And we're soliciting advice and counsel and information from everybody we can get it from.

Q You're saying it may be possible that there's no nongovernmental people on any of the working groups?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I believe so, yes.

Q Why do you say believe so? Why is this a mystery at this stage?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it's a very large group. I don't want to -- the standing policy is it is congressional and governmental employees. There might be people who come on leave who join the working groups for a time being. I don't believe that anybody holds dual responsibilities.

Q If there are no -- you're suggesting that you don't have a comprehensive list all printed up, would you have any objection to -- obviously, when you have meetings and you invite people their names are written down somewhere, they're called up and you know them. Is there any administration objection to releasing the names, or you're simply saying it's just a matter of getting the names written down in one place?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I'll check into seeing what --

Q But is there any objection in terms of not wanting those people to be bothered or privacy concerns of those people, or wanting to --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I think that's a relevant consideration as we make a decision.

Q What is relevant?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The privacy considerations of the individuals and the need for the --

Q So these guys are going to make public policy and you're going to protect their privacy?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, we'll look into it and we'll make sure that any of their information is as public as we can be.

Q How about conflict of interest? What about ethics?

Q George, is it necessary to shield them from lobbyists, is that the effort?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, there are -- (laughter.)

Q I ask that in all seriousness because it is -- I mean, are you trying to keep -- you've tried to keep lobbyists out of the process. Are you trying to keep lobbyists away from the principals involved?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: No. What we are trying to make sure is that there are no conflicts between the working group and any private interests, and we will do our best to make sure of that.

Q You will refuse to release the names on that basis?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: No, I didn't say we would refuse to release the names on that basis. I said we would get back to you on releasing the names as soon as we could, and I hope it will be very soon. I was saying that was one possible hypothetical reason that we might want not to have a broad-based release of all the names. But I am not saying that we are not going to release the names.

Q The process you're going through now, though, is not just compilation of names but establishing policy for whether or not you release them?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I will get back to you on it later today.

Q When you try to make a determination will you be deciding it based on, say, regularity of attendance at these meetings? Say, if someone is not officially a member of a working group but they come to every other meeting, does that person emerge on your list?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: That's a good question. I'll look into it. I don't know if there are any people that fit that example.

Q That's kind of an important point.


Q Is there a budget for consulting fees to these people?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Not that I have. I can find out.

Q Are they being paid in any way?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I believe there are some paid consultants through different agencies. I don't know that it's necessarily straight for the Health Care Task Force.

Q That would suggest that these people are not all government officials who are on this task force.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: They would then be a government consultant which would make them a government employee for the time.

Q And subject to ethics rules?


Q Where does the task force budget come from? How much is it?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't know that there is any specific budget for the task force per se.

Q Each person using their --


Q George, on an issue related to health care, what is the administration's policy on tobacco price supports? (Laughter.)

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Good question. I don't believe there are any specific price supports for tobacco in the U.S. government policy right now, and the President certainly isn't proposing any. There are general administrative costs that fall with tobacco farmers as it would fall with any farmers. But there are no specific price supports for tobacco. That's my understanding. And the President certainly isn't proposing any.

Q So does that mean he opposes that whole concept?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: That means that the President is not going to propose tobacco subsidies.

Q Do you accept Rostenkowski's view that you can't get a health care plan through this year?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We want to get moving on a health care plan as quickly as we can. As the President said repeatedly, he hopes we can get it done this year. We continue to hold that hope out. And we want to move as quickly as we can. First, we have to have the introduction, the release of the proposal from the Health Care Task Force from the President. We want to move forward expeditiously.

Q So you think he may be unduly negative about --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We look forward to working with Chairman Rostenkowski and the rest of the Congress to move forward as quickly as we can on real health care reform for the American people.

Q The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees is describing what's happening in eastern Bosnia as a massacre --Muslims found with their throats cut, et cetera. Is any new approach being considered to try to bring a halt to that?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, as you know, we worked with our allies through the U.N. last evening and produced a new resolution, presidential statement out of the U.N. We will continue to work with our allies on other approaches, and looking at different ways to strengthen the sanctions.

Q Resolutions have not been notably successful in the past. Is there any new approach being considered?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: As I said, we're consulting intensively with the Security Council on ways to make sure the humanitarian aid gets through, on ways to strengthen the sanctions, if possible, and on ways to make sure that all parties remain fully engaged in the peace process.

Q George, would the President concede that ethnic cleansing from the Serbian point of view is going pretty well? I mean --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The President is disturbed by the Serbian aggression. He believes the Serbian aggression must stop. He believes we must do everything we can through the U.N. and with our allies to stop that aggression, to stop the ethnic cleansing. And we have to consider appropriate ways to beef up our efforts to put an end to it.

Q But at the moment, would you concede that it seems to be progressing despite these various resolutions? How would you assess what's happening in terms of what's going on with --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The President is deeply concerned by the aggression and he is looking at ways to make it stop.

Q What kind of ways, George?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: He's consulting now with the U.N. Security Council and our allies on different ways to beef up the sanctions. I can't get into the specifics.

Q With respect, what are you offering other than words?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Right now we are working through the U.N. Security Council with our allies on different actions.

Q I'm sorry, but to do what? What would fall in that general realm of what you can do?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: There are a number of things you can do to intensify the sanctions, policies. I am not going to discuss the specifics at this point.

Q Sanctions don't appear to have done anything.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We've had some success with sanctions. No, that has not stopped the aggression, but we will continue to look at other ways to work with our allies to make them work better.

Q The Serbs are calling for -- I'm sorry -- the U.N. Security Council is calling for putting troops or monitors in eastern Bosnia. Would the U.S. participate in an action like that?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, I'm not going to comment on any of the specifics of the consultations we're having now with the U.N. and our allies, but we are looking at different ways to make the sanctions more effective.

Q Is the use of U.S. military force more likely in light of the events of recent days?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I wouldn't necessarily say -- first of all, we want to work with our allies on broader and more intense sanctions.

Q Is the President any more receptive to ideas which involve the use of U.S. forces?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm not going to comment on different uses of U.S. forces at this time. The President right now is working with our allies on intensifying the sanctions.

Q George, you are mainly talking now about strengthening sanctions, aren't you? Now you're talking about the embargo and nothing else, nothing more?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: At this point that is what we're consulting on.

Q Has there been any talk about what will break the back of this? Whether you want to discuss the specifics or not, has somebody in the Oval Office with the President said if x, y and z happen we've got to do something besides consult and talk?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We are constantly reassessing all the different possibilities. We are watching the situation on the ground very closely. We are working with our allies, and we are considering other actions.

Q George, do we believe that there's a massacre going on in eastern Bosnia now?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, we've gotten sketchy reports. It's hard to get certain reports from eastern Bosnia, but we are obviously concerned with the reports we've received. We just don't have anything harder than what we've seen.

Q Do we believe some of the Bosnian reports that the Serbs are basically using the food drops as bait, and that people are being attacked when they go to pick up the food?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, the fighting has been going on in eastern Bosnia for some time. The aggression predated any of the food drops. And I think it's kind of perverse to somehow turn around and say that the food drops are somehow a cause for the aggression. I mean, the responsibility for the aggression lies squarely on the backs of the Bosnian Serbs, and that's where it must lie.

Q But the question isn't whether they're the cause, the question is whether the food drops are inadvertently serving the purposes -- whether the Serbs are using food drops?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, we don't have any hard evidence. We believe that a lot of the food drops are getting through to their intended recipients. While it has not been as much as we'd like necessarily, we continue to hope that it will improve and we continue to believe that the drops have gotten through.

Q George, the event that Mrs. Clinton attended this morning -- may be still going on for all I know -- in New Orleans, is that billed as a hearing, as a town meeting? What is that? And is that the kind of thing that you're talking about is going to be open to us when finally the door does open somewhere that we can get to?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, obviously, that is an open meeting. It's something she's participating in and it's where she's discussing health care with a number of interested parties. I expect that we will have many more meetings like that.

Q Is that a public hearing -- what is that?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: People are talking about health care in public. I mean, I don't know that we have to get in any formal semantical description.

Q Well, the only thing I'm asking -- the White House has said that the public hearings are going to be accessible to the press. And there may be a distinction to be made between public hearing and the task force meetings, and I'm trying to see ahead of time just where you're going with this. How much are we going to be able to find out about what Hillary Rodham Clinton is doing on health care? Is she making progress now?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We are going to have a series, as we announced this morning, of public hearings sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on health care over the next month. And I'm certain that we will have other forums that are open. And that will continue.

Q Will the President attend those?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't believe so. I don't think it's planned at this time.

Q The ones in Florida, Iowa and Michigan.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: At this time, I don't think that's planned, no.

Q Only the First Lady?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I believe so, yes.

Q Is she making any reports now? I mean, I know that she has his ear, obviously, but is she making any formal and official reports to him, interim reports along the way, or do the wraps come off at one time?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't think there have any formal written reports at this time, but obviously the task force is continually briefing the President on the progress of their work.

Q There is progress?


Q This morning, Senator D'Amato of New York introduced a bill that would proscribe entry into this country by members of Hamas, the pro-Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist group on grounds that their activities support terror, their fundraising activities. In other words, raising or lowering them by the same status as the PLO -- does the administration have a position on this bill?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I haven't seen the bill. We don't have an official position now. We will look at it quickly and get back to you.

Q Do you have a position on Hamas in general and their --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, obviously, we're concerned by any groups which engage in terrorist acts. And there have been some indications of that in the past. But we don't have any --

Q Some indications, vis-a-vis Hamas?


Q George, what is the President's position right now on extending Most Favored Nation trade agreement with China?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The President believes that we should extend it subject to conditions on progress in human rights and opening up towards democracy and release of political prisoners. The Most Favored Nation application doesn't come up until June, I believe.

Q What about the negotiations? Are they not going on right now in Beijing on that?


Q How are they doing?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I haven't heard any report

Q The Chinese Prime Minister was very harsh in his criticism today. Do you have any direct response to that? He said no conditions should be imposed.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The President has long believed that we need conditions for approval of MFN.

Q So you reject it?


Q direct negotiating authority for NAFTA and GATT and all the other fun things that come up?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The President has signaled his intention to get that both for GATT and NAFTA, but we don't have a timetable yet.

Q If I heard you right a couple of minutes ago, you said that you believed that sanctions had been successful, although they haven't stopped any sort of ethnic cleansing and aggression in Bosnia. Assuming that I heard you right, why would you have any thought that intensified sanctions would have any effect at all?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We would hope that any increase in the pressure on the Serbian government would help change their behavior.

Q I understand that you would hope that. What I'm trying to find out is what it is that brings you to that -- do you have any sort of information, intelligence --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: These intensified efforts haven't been tried yet, so I mean, that would purely be hypothetical. But, obviously, we believe if we tighten the screws on the Serbians, it would yield benefits.

Q Back to health care, with respect to Todd's letter, are positions well represented in this process, and if so, how?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: There are several positions in the process. I don't have a hard number.

Q Tens, dozens?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I would guess there's more than 10.

Q Any doctor on the task force?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I believe in the working groups there are certainly several doctors. The task force is Cabinet members, Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Gore. I would also say that, as you know, we've met with the AMA several times, both during the transition before the election and now three times with different representatives of the working groups and task forces. So we are open and we want more input from physicians. And as I said, we do have physicians working on the working groups.

Q George, throughout the campaign the President called for tightening the screws on the Serbs. Since he's been in office there's been no indication he's prepared to do so. What progress has --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: That's simply not true.

Q Tell me what progress there's been toward tightening the screws on the Serbs?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We have implemented many sanctions and we have had success with different operations. And we will continue to do so.

Q I'm sorry -- what sanctions and what success with what operations that tightened the screws on the Serbs?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, sanctions that prevent them from either exporting or bringing in materials into the country that are prohibited.

Q New since the President's inauguration?


Q George, last night a Congressman from Texas, Chet Edwards, admitted that a year ago he had a letter pointing out that this cult was gathering a quantity of guns and supplies in this place near Waco, Texas and he turned the letter over to the FBI. Apparently nothing was done about that and it's the same situation it is today. We don't seem to have a decision or a policy. Are you just going to sit there? Are you all watching this every day, getting a report on it every day?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We are clearly getting a report on the incident in Waco, and I can't comment on it while it still goes on.

Q Well, can you find out why the FBI or somebody didn't take action a year ago?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Sure. Susan has something just in.

Q This is just in.

Q I got it in before she did. (Laughter.)

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, who gets to ask?

Q Do you know anything about of a report locally that the suspect is in custody in the World Trade Center bombing?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: An arrest has been made, and Attorney General Gerson will be having a press conference later this afternoon.

Q From where? Any indication --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: It's all I can say.

Q What nationality --

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: All I can say is an arrest has been made and Attorney General Gerson will be having an announcement.

Q Where and when?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Two o'clock, I believe.

Q At Justice?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes. I believe it's on another matter but he'll be prepared to take questions on this.

Q Were you going to keep this -- (Laughter.)

Q Does this indicate that this was a terrorist act?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, I can't comment on it beyond to confirm it.

Q you obviously knew about it. When was the President notified?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Just a little while ago.

Q An hour ago?

Q By whom?

Q Did William Sessions call him?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I believe he was called by the Justice Department. I'm not sure exactly.

Q By whom?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I believe the Attorney General -- the Acting Attorney General.

Q Gerson or Hubbell?


Q This is an arrest in the bombing itself, or what?


Q Which agency made the arrest?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Again, I can't comment on it --

Q It's a federal agency?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, I believe so.

Q It's an arrest in the bombing?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I can't comment on it.

Q Has he talked to Sessions?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't know if he's talk personally to Sessions.

Q Where is this person in custody now?

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I can't comment on it.

Q Has there been an indictment?

Q Will there be an arraignment today?

Q Are they going to hang him today? (Laughter.)

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I can't comment on it.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 1:12 P.M. EST