THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
BACKGROUND BRIEFING BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS
The Roosevelt Room
11:27 A.M. EDT
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I want to welcome all of you and thank for coming this morning. As the Secretary of State I've tried to focus in various ways on long-term security structures for the United States to try to adapt our security structures for the next century. I think how we handle this particular endeavor will have a great deal to do with our security in the future and our ability to put together coalitions in the future.
We can in this endeavor, I think, improve our capacity to maintain democracy in this hemisphere and to try to ensure stability in this hemisphere. The results over the last several days on that front are, I think, very impressive. We're now up to 24 nations in the multinational coalition; more than 2,000 troops will be available in the first phase of the multinational coalition. And these numbers are building, by the time action is taken, if it needs to be taken, I think you will see substantial numbers.
The support from the Caribbean community itself is very impressive. Virtually every nation in the Caribbean is contributing in one way or the other. In addition, the support that we're getting from Europe is impressive to us, and the support we're getting from around the world for this endeavor is impressive. As you know, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom -- beyond Europe -- Israel, Jordan, Bangladesh, are all contributing to this multinational coalition. I think that's a reflection of the fact the international community recognizes the importance of this endeavor, which was certainly reflected in the U.N. Resolution 940.
We go forward, here, I think, based upon a very strong showing by the international community of concern about this particular problem.
After President Clinton's speech last night, I think you're going to find support for this growing not only among the American people, but on Capitol Hill as well. I don't see us in a confrontation with Capitol Hill. We're continuing to follow a very heavy briefing schedule, following up on the more than 75 briefings we've had with Capitol Hill this year. And as I say, I think that if the President concludes that we do have to intervene, I think you will find very strong support from Capitol Hill for what the President is doing.
When you hear from my colleagues, I think you'll conclude that this has been a very well planned operation from the military standpoint. I've never seen one with this thorough, this complete planning, this much training, these many exercises. My colleague can give you much more detail about it, but I believe you will find, after you hear from my colleagues, that this has been a very well planned operation, both from the standpoint of assembling the coalition, as well as from the military side.
That's all I'll say because I think they want to get to the substantives issues.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We've just come from a meeting with the President, senior foreign policy, national security advisers, reviewed the status of military planning and military preparedness as well as the political military activities that will be taken parallel to the political activities, the status of the coalition.
I would say the President approaches this with a sober sense of the seriousness of this, but at the same time, a deep conviction that it is the right thing for the United States to do. The President set forth last night what, I think, he believes and what we believe was a strong rationale, one that seems to have caused, at least, many Americans to think carefully about why we are doing this -- that is, to restore democratic government, to stop the brazen human rights abuses in our front doorstep and to honor a commitment that has been made now by two administrations.
I would say one final thing and that is that this is an issue that the President, as you know, has been deeply engaged in from the very beginning, starting really in the transition when we not only reviewed refugee policy, but working very closely with the Bush administration, the outgoing Bush administration launched the U.N.-OAS negotiated initiative under Dante Caputo.
We pursued that initiative. The President pressed very hard for nine months, reached an agreement. The military leaders agreed to step down. That agreement, as we know, was abrogated in October. I say this in the context, as I go on, of making the point here that I believe the President feels very strongly that he has exhausted every other alternative, short of the one that we are now considering, that is force.
Even after the Governors Island agreement broke down in July. We spent another seven months trying to negotiate the transfer of authority from Cedras and company back to constitutional government, through Prime Minister Malval, through various parliamentary leaders who emerged in Haiti. We desperately were looking for a Haitian solution.
It became increasing clear in April that there simply was not a critical mass in Haiti that was capable of effectuating the peaceful transfer of power back to constitutional rule. At that point the President ordered a review of our policy. And that led to both some changes in our refugee policy, as you know, but also then an effort through very stiff economic sanctions to force the military leaders to step down.
Those sanctions have been steadily escalated over the past six months. We've now gone to the United Nations. The United Nations has expressed the will of the international community that democracy and a democratic government should be restored. And I think the President feels very strongly that we have walked the extra mile; we have exhausted every opportunity to solve this by peaceful means. And if the military leaders do not step down imminently, then the coalition will proceed with its action.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President last night laid out the rationale for his conviction that this operation serves the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States. And you've heard that point underscored by these officials just now.
Another important dimension of this, of course, is that we are pursuing an objective that is in our national security interest as part of an international coalition that we have assembled. And you will, of course, be seeing more evidence of that during the course of the day. Let me just very briefly review for you how it is going to work, and how we are confident that it is going to work well.
It's very important to understand that while the initials U.N. appear only in the third phase of the operation, the entire operation is authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 940, which established that member states could use all necessary means -- meaning force in this case.
The three phases are the following -- one, intervention; two, transition; and three, UNMIH -- UNMIH standing for United Nations Mission In Haiti. Stages one and two -- intervention and transition -- are part of what is called the multinational force; and that is the group of 24 plus the United States that will be meeting here later. And as our colleague mentioned, others are joining that.
The first phase, or intervention, will be relatively brief; and the objective is to establish basic security. And that means, essentially, suppressing if necessary, deterring certainly will be necessary, what might be called combat resistance of any kind. And my colleague will be speaking more to this in just a moment.
The second phase transition prepares the way for the entry of the United Nations mission. And one of the principal purposes there will be to put in place an interim police force which will be manned entirely by Haitians -- approximately 3,000 -- and will be supervised by international monitors -- approximately 500, virtually all from non-U.S. participants in the coalition. I can't give you an exact time on how long that will last, but we should be thinking in terms of probably a couple of months.
Once the key participants -- in the first instance, of course, the United States and its political and military leaders, but working closely with the other participating states and with the Secretary General of the United Nations to determine that basic civic order has been established, there will be a handoff from the multinational force which, of course, is very much numerically and otherwise dominated by the United States, to the United Nations mission in Haiti. It will number about 6,000, and less than half of those will be American personnel. And not all of those will be military.
The UNMIH will have as its principal task the protection of the international presence in Haiti, the protection of the legitimate government, which by then will have been restored, and also, working with the government of Haiti to set up a long-term permanent police force and military. And the timetable there, as the President underscored last night, will be for UNMIH to leave by February 1996, when President Aristide's successor will be inaugurated.
The last point I would make is that while much attention, of course, is being given quite properly to the military preparations and parallel with that to the political preparations, we regard economics as a key part of the mission. And it has been a key part of planning this. The U.S. agency for International Development has taken the lead and has prepared a very elaborate and, we think, a promising plan for putting Haiti back on its feet and working very closely with the international community and the international financial institutions.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This afternoon, President Aristide will be addressing a group of the multinational coalition leaders who will be here. And I will just give you what, I think, he will be saying. Essentially he will be thanking the international community for their efforts, thank the President of the United States for his understanding of what is going on in Haiti in terms of the human rights situation, and also spelling out briefly his vision for democracy and what it will mean in terms of education, health care and the economy. And there will be a very strong statement, I believe, where he will be reaching out for reconciliation, especially to the Haitian military, calling for all to work together to build a new Haiti.
And there will be a statement from him which will reinforce his beliefs in constitutional democracy, in that he is going to govern within that by having elections this fall -- the parliamentary elections -- and also a presidential election next year under the constitution, where as you know, he cannot be a candidate, and that he supports very strongly the concept that a test of a democracy is not the first election but the second election when you pass the power on.
And so I think you will see a strong response from the Aristide government to the President's statement and to what the multinational coalition is about to do.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'd like to just make three very brief points.
The first is I believe that in contrast to any other intervention, you have a situation here with an integrated political diplomatic effort, which my colleague has described; military plan, which is as detailed and thorough as any I've ever seen, which my colleague described; and an economic reconstruction point, which my colleague alluded to. That's unique in my awareness of prior interventions that have involved the United States.
Secondly, I'm glad that my colleague talked about the phasing of the initial insertion of the multinational force and then UNMIH. I want to stress that we have careful milestones for an exit strategy. And at every stage of the game we are going to reduce, as is possible with respect to the establishment of civil order and the return to legitimate government, the number of U.S. troops that are there. So we are very conscious of working on an orderly and --basis to reduce the troops as rapidly as possible.
The final point I would like to make is that we're going in there with a large number of troops, what I would regard, and Bill Perry certainly regards, as overwhelming force, so as to assure, minimize, the number of casualties that we may have and that may be caused in the populace. And we believe that the early insertion of a large force will actually make peace come more quickly, reduce the possibilities -- of course, nobody can guarantee any minimum numbers of casualties, and that the large initial numbers of forces will help make this transition more rapid and make the exit more sooner.
SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL: The force that my colleague just mentioned is a trained, joint force. It will have multinational flavor, but there are some unique aspects of it that you've seen unfolding. And that's why I took time out from operations down south to accept the invitation to just say a few words this morning.
What you're seeing unfold is a joint force package, a joint task force that has been tailored for the mission that we see at hand. We have been watching the Haiti situation -- myself personally for nearly four years -- as a ship commander and now as the, last two years -- (inaudible).
We've had the requirements to maintain a contingency plan for Haiti, and we have done so while we've been maintaining peacetime presence, contingency operations in other parts of the world. With Resolution 940 on the 1st of August and the spotlight coming closer, we adapted that force that you see in assembly even more so it will be able to carry out effectively any of missions that we're given.
It's not only me that's very comfortable with this plan. It's every force commander that has a command role in the joint task force and with the component commanders that train the Armed Forces here in the United States. I'm speaking of Mike Loh, ACC, of Denny Reimer, the forces command commander, Hank Mauz, the Atlantic Fleet, and Bill Johnson's the Marine Corps -- (inaudible). We've been working together as a team to work to make sure that it was an effective and trained force that will be employed.
We reported to the Secretary of Defense and to Shali on Monday, not only myself but the other commanders did, about the preparedness and the readiness of the force. The Secretary of Defense came down again on Wednesday. We even went out to the Eisenhower, where we saw the unique combination of 10th Mountain troops on a naval aircraft carrier. It is the right force for this mission.
While it is not familiar to all about operating Army forces from naval ships, this isn't the first time that we've done it. We've done it in training, in previous joint task force training evolutions. And it is not an experiment. It is not. It is a trained and ready capability, one that the commanders are confident in.
Since I laid out a -- (inaudible) -- approach last October to assembling our capability, and I called it adaptive joint force packaging -- the label's not important -- but what is important is taking from the entire kit of capability this nation has, putting together the trained and ready portion of it needed to execute the mission at hand. That's what you're going to see unfold in this operation.
Q How do you go about minimizing the civilian casualties in Haiti with an overwhelming force like that -- beyond just being an overwhelming force?
SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL: We have set the conditions so that upon entry, a minimum advance -- (fires) -- will be made. It's a tough, unique environment; and we're asking a lot of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines that are participating. It will be tactically dynamic, and it will unfold very, very rapidly. But we're confident that with the forces chosen, that it's the best force that the nation has to ensure quick success with minimizing the casualties on the Haitian side and, of course, underlined on the U.S. side.
Q Could you tell us what you call the "careful milestones" are for drawing down American forces over the weeks and months?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think that there are three of them; my colleague alluded to them.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The first is to disarm the farph. The second is to make sure that we establish civilian order. The third is the transfer of different aspects of both the normal, functioning government there to the legitimate government of Father Aristide. And, now, each of those can be decomposed into specific steps that have to be taken in different regions of the country, and that will be done as rapidly as possible. And as that comes down, and as civil order is established, the force commander will remove the forces as rapidly as possible.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Can I just add one thing to what my colleague has said? And that is to distinguish here between -- even in the initial phase between police function, which will continue to be conducted by Haitians, and what my colleague has described as basic civil order, that is, avoiding large-scale disturbances or other major problems. But the -- from early on in this operation, there will be a reconstituted interim Haitian police force with, as my colleague indicated, 500 or more international monitors who will be traveling with them to assure that they are performing in a fair way.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The point I want to make is though that there's an explicit set of steps which we're following and get people out as quickly as possible.
Q And what is the troop level? What are the troop levels at each step?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I mean, we have to look at -- each step -- start of about 14,000 to 18,000. It will come down as rapidly as they can, as my colleague mentioned, to a UNMIH level force of 6,000 which are U.S., where U.S. will be less than half.
Q Following up with your comments, if there is a problem with looting, mob action, Haitian against Haitian, are you saying that that will be handled by the Haitian police force and not by the U.S. military?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The principal police function will be handled by a Haitian police force with outside monitors. And what the U.S. mission will be charged with doing is essentially trying to maintain basic civil order against large-scale problems.
Q You said that there's going to be -- there were going to be parliamentary elections this fall? When do you -- what conditions do you expect to be existent in Haiti when you have --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I said President Aristide would probably announce in his speech this afternoon that he will push for elections this fall. The parliamentary elections are scheduled for this fall, and he has indicated that he is going to try to go forward with those elections -- invite the international community to observe them.
Q Mr. Secretary, you said that you do not expect a confrontation with Congress. Does that mean that you're willing to go to Congress for a vote before you go in?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, it means that we're going continue our extensive briefing of the Congress. I think this is a situation in which -- as the support for this policy grows, you'll see it grow on Capitol Hill as well.
I find that we have a good deal in common with them on a number of issues, as I have briefed them and as I have talked to them about it. I don't want to project a sense of confrontation with them. I want to project a sense of continuing consultation with them on this issue as we go through this difficult period --
Q Are you trying to give some specific -- does the War Powers Act click in, or is there going to be a vote next week of some sort, and are you trying to structure the vote?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: If American troops are put in a situation of imminent danger, of course we have obligations under the War Powers Act. Without conceding the applicability of that act, we will do as we've done in the past, and that is file a report that's consistent with the Act. As we go through this period, as I say, we'll try to be in close touch with Congress at every stage. We are not trying to -- not trying to -- at this point to try to find some mechanism for a vote in Congress. But, as I say, we'll be working very closely with the Congress --
Q On that same point, I was struck that neither the President nor you all in your opening statements really addressed this question of Congress's role in the thing. The argument is made that this President, because of his opposition to the Vietnam war and his nonparticipation in that war, has a particular moral responsibility to involve the Congress in a decision to put American troops in harm's way.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would say from my standpoint, this President, like his predecessor, have a particular responsibility to protect the constitutional prerogative and then duty of the President to act as Commander-In-Chief and be able to send American forces into action when they are needed to secure America's interests. He spelled out America's security interests last night -- the same ones that President Bush had talked about in 1991. And I think that's his principal responsibility in this situation.
I just want to say again as I've said before, that the size and scale of this operation is very similar to that in Panama and Grenada, when the President did not seek prior authorization. And I think it's appropriate for the President to exercise his authority as Commander-In-Chief in the situation, but to comply with the authorities in Congress that are effective as we move through the situation if he decides that intervention is necessary.
Q Is that, then your criterion -- the size -- for instance, you would argue that in the Persian Gulf War, that Congress should have been involved, but in a smaller operation, Congress should not be involved ahead of time. Is that the --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, it's certainly one of the factors in weighing the situation. There were half a million troops involved there, and they had been deployed for some time in a region distant from the United States. That was a major factor involved. The differences in the branches on the situation, as everybody in this room knows, is historic and traditional. The President has been vindicating his own power and authority, going back to through two centuries of our existence. Very rarely has he sought prior authorization from Congress. Much more frequently has he taken the action in advance when he felt it was necessary in American interests.
Q Can I just get back to the mission for a second. A senior administration official said that the first phase is going to be relatively brief. What do you mean by that? And when will Mr. Aristide be brought back? What's your --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, my colleague, of course, has been working very closely with President Aristide. President Aristide has indicated on a couple of occasions that he intends to come back in about 10 days. I would not myself want to define what relatively brief means because I think we obviously need to leave ourselves flexibility to respond to the situation defined on the ground.
But perhaps my colleague wants to give you a ballpark guess.
SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL: Sounds good.
Q What do you expect? What do you expect? I mean, you're going in with this overwhelming force. Do you go in with guns blazing? Do you go in and wait for somebody to shoot at you?
SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL: No --
Q What do you expect to happen in the opening phases of this?
SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL: We have, as military planners, at being practitioners, sat around many tables answering those questions. This is a unique environment. It is a unique environment. So what we've done is put together a capabilities package that we can flow in quickly. And I think that's going to be an important aspect of the military side of the operations in the first days.
We're able to flow in a large number of troops to calm the city, because I think that's important, and be able to deal with the FAHD, deal with the attaches, paramilitary, you pick the label. There won't be any situation that all of us that have watched things, we're familiar with, with regard to the Harlan County, in which there were some attaches trying to, you know, chew back the force that was there. This isn't that way.
Q What about the possibility of hostage-taking? There are Americans there now.
SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL: We have factored that into the plan. As you know, we've had a noncombatant evacuation capability down south now on a continual basis for a couple of months. But before we had that, we had contingency plans to do that from CONUS. And now we have contingency plans to work that possibility should it arise. And I'm comfortable with what we have on the scene.
Q I just want a clarification. The return of President Aristide in 10 days, is that 10 days from right now or 10 from days from the beginning of any operation?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: D-Day.
Q What is the policy of the United States government toward appointments made by President Aristide? Do we attempt to influence him or do we -- as has been quoted by certain unnamed administration officials, say that that is the business of President Aristide?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The policy is the same policy -- (inaudible) -- democratically elected governments. And that is that, those governments make those appointments.
Q And we don't try to influence them?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We would act the same way with this democratic government as we would do with other democratic governments.
Q How much resistance do you expect initially? How big a concern is guerilla or sniping in the following days and weeks? And did I understand the plan is not to go after Cedras or Francois, but allow them to go off into the countryside if they so desire?
SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL: Starting with the last first -- the mission does not have any names in it that we are supposed to go into Port au Prince or Haiti and find, okay, number one. Working up the list with regard to guerrilla activity or snipers -- there may be some that go to the outlying areas, but the force that we're going to have in Haiti will be a force not only in Port au Prince, there will be capability outside of Port au Prince that will be able to deal with that, should that come up. An urban environment, snipers -- tough, tough environment. We're going to have to deal with that threat not only on day one, day 10, day 40. It's a tough environment, so we have to be concerned with that. The best thing that we've done is establish an effective ROE and carefully trained the troops.
What force do we expect? Intel estimates are all over the board, but we don't expect an organized resistance as we come in. We don't expect to have a military defense posture as most of the defense mechanisms that countries have. They just don't have the organizational network, nor the military hardware. There's numbers -- there's numbers and there's the sporadic activity by the paramilitary that we have to guard against.
Q Would you give us the phasing of this Haitian force that is going to be taking over things? There are some that are being trained now, I gather, in Puerto Rico or Guantanamo. And are they going to be the basis of the new force? And how do you expect to recruit new people? And how do fast do you expect it to grow so that you can turn over the major security and responsibility to the Haitians?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Ultimately, we believe that on an interim basis there will be several thousand Haitian police. They will be partly recruited from the five, screened and vetted in terms of those who have known records of human rights abuse. There are also people being recruited in Guantanamo who will come back as trainees -- again, with monitors. We would expect over a relatively short period of time that there would be several thousand Haitian police that would be on the street.
Q We've talked almost exclusively about the possibility of an invasion here, but there must be other alternative plans underway to try to get this to a conclusion before we have to send troops in. Could you tell us if there are these efforts made to try to get Cedras and his friends to leave, whether to try to get some of them to go, and where there's even a possibility that we're trying to foment a coup in Haiti behind the scenes?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think the President last night --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Today.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He said you were great. (Laughter.)
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: As I was saying -- (Laughter.) The President last night looked right at General Cedras in this marvelous way in that they're communicating across television and said, you should go, and if you don't go, we'll remove you. Cedras and company know what they have to do.
If there are some arrangements they'd like help with, I've said and others have said that we'll be glad to assist them with arrangements, but I think the message has been conveyed to them in a very strong way. And last night by the President in most direct terms he said, this is not inevitable, but it's imminent. And so I think they know that time is running out on them, and they have the choices as to whether to stay there and perhaps be turned over to the legitimate government of Haiti or to leave -- said they should.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Can I just -- my colleague has to leave for another meeting if there is any last question for him before he leaves. Otherwise, we will dismiss him.
Q Do we have a cost estimate?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's impossible to give a good estimate of the cost before you know the extent, how long it is. But if I had to once again give figures, say something about it as best we can, and we look at it now as about half a billion.
Q But that doesn't include the aid package?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It does not include the aid package. It's a very, very rough estimate, I want to tell you. You cannot tell anything from -- at this stage.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: But if I can just amplify on the aid side, and that is the $550 million that were pledged in year one and the roughly $1 billion that have been pledged is largely, overwhelmingly international -- international financial institutions and other non-U.S. money.
We already have the aid program active in Haiti and is feeding a million people and providing health care for 2 million people. Presumably we will be able to convert that into a program that is doing something that is more permanent.
Q What's your best guess as to what these guys are going to do?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't think it really appropriate to guess what's in somebody else's mind. We'll just keep on making the case to them that they ought to leave, and you know, if they're rational about it, Tim, if one was in their place, you'd think they'd recognize the advisability of making the choice of leaving under circumstances where they have a future. But it's very hard to predict what they will do.
I'm rather hesitant to be in a situation of being more confident than the President was about Congress, but since I said it, I'll say it again. I think if we have to intervene, based upon my conversations with people in Congress over the last several days and weeks, I think we'll have support that's considerably stronger than it is now. I think the case is being made to them, and I think that there will be stronger support from the Congress --
Q Post intervention? Post intervention?
Q Can I add one more question to -- before we -- (Laughter) -- which is normally the case. Force is not popular in American history at all.
Q Your colleague said that we weren't going to have any people in the Haitian police force with known records of human rights abuses. Does that mean that the U.S. government is screening the appointments by President Aristide for the police? Is that what you mean?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There will be a vetting process that takes place cooperatively between our military and representatives of President Aristide's government.
Q I take it from what the President said that he is not doing any phoning on the Hill? Who is? I mean, who is doing the --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President has spoken to many senators and congressmen over the past months and certainly over the last weeks and days --
Q But I mean in this current period.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: In addition, everybody at this table, except for my colleague, certainly has been in close contact with the Hill, as well as my colleagues. There has been extensive contact with my colleagues and others from the White House.
SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL: Just a point to piggy-back on what my colleague said about being more than military mission initially. We have had very, very close joint interagency cooperation in putting this force package together. We are working with all the other agencies; in fact, I think this will probably be the first time that representatives from other agencies will be on the command ship. I have invited them to be part of the command ship that -- and then the command headquarters that will move in and we have already got acceptances from some of the agencies; and I think that's awful important to show how this has been conceived and how it's going to be executed as a joint, not only military, but multiagency as well as multinational operation.
And you will see unfold in Mount Whitney, the command ship that is down there, the most modern and the most capable command and control mechanisms that we've ever had.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- My colleagues have done a marvelous job in planning this exercise. I want to emphasize one element of what he said. And that is that I think my colleague very carefully define the mission here of our military people. The mission of our military people is to remove the current regime to enable the elected regime to resume, to resume power, to stand up as interim police and to build a security -- help train a security force that is responsive to civilian control.
When that mission is done, my colleague's people's mission is done, the economic efforts that will be going on will be going on will be conducted by the international financial institutions, by the international community, by our own AID. But that is not -- our military mission is not tied to the long-term success of the economy of Haiti, or the long-term success of those efforts.
MR. GEARAN: We're going to have to start to wrap up.
Q Okay, one question. You say the mission is not to go out and get Cedras and company. What if you find them there and you do confront them? What will you do with them? Would you hand them over to Mr. Aristide? What are the plans on this, if this should occur?
SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL: Do you think that we'll find him in his home, as we --
Q No, I don't know. But, you know, there is a possibility --
SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL: Everybody's got to be somewhere, right?
Q But what's the --
Q It's not a very big island.
SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL: He'll be detained. He will be detained.
Q And then, who would he be --
SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIAL: Then he'll be detained and then the authorities of the legitimate government of Haiti will have to handle his disposition.
Q Would you presume there would be some kind of summary judgment passed at that particular point, or we would wash our hands and leave it at that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They would be turned over to the judicial processes of the legitimate government of Haiti. So we'd be --
Q With a theme of reconciliation?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think that's very important, and I think it's important to go back -- obviously this will be evaluated based on what happens. But to go back over what President Aristide has been saying over the last six months in a series of speeches to the Haitian people, of what he will say this afternoon, and what is very much in his self-interest. And that is to build a new Haiti.
It is not in his interest to continue division. There is an enormous opportunity, the international financial agencies and the international community have said, we are prepared to come into Haiti and help lift this country out of poverty. But that is not going to happen, of course, if the environment in that country is not conducive to it. So there are both his own words and his own, I think, interests to go by in believing that he has a strong interest in reconciliation. And a statement that the President made last night, i.e., that he will not serve beyond the end of next year, will not seek reelection, I think, is some evidence of that.
Q Can we say anything at all yet about an ultimatum for a deadline? A deadline --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: If I were listening to that speech last night, I would think there was an ultimatum there.
Q Yeah, but I mean you don't have any specific date is what I'm talking about.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We're not going to talk about specific dates.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 12:20 P.M. EDT