THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY THE VICE PRESIDENT, MACK MCLARTY, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL JAMIE GORELICK, GENERAL JOHN TILELLI, MAJOR GENERAL BOB HICKS, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION MORT DOWNEY, AND LARRY HAAS, OMB
Room 450 Old Executive Office Building
2:05 P.M. EDT
MR. MCLARTY: Joining us today are Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, General John Tilelli, Major General Bob Hicks, Deputy Transportation Secretary Mort Downey and Larry Haas of OMB.
Those of you who have been following the Olympics closely know that we are 66 days away from the opening ceremonies. The federal government is currently working in close partnership with the Olympic and Paralympic organizing committees in Atlanta, the State of Georgia and the City of Atlanta as we move into this final phase of preparations.
President Clinton is very proud that America is hosting the Centennial Olympic Games. The President views our role in welcoming the world to Atlanta as both a great honor and a serious responsibility.
I think, as most of you know again that have been following the games, this is the largest Olympic endeavor ever. In fact, it's the largest peacetime event in modern history. As the chart indicates -- and again, those of you who have been following know quite well -- we'll have almost 11,000 athletes from 197 nations that will compete. Two-thirds of the world will be watching the games. Over 12 million tickets will be sold. Two million visitors will travel to Atlanta, including 15,000 from the media.
Organizing the Olympic Games has been a formidable task, and some have compared it to hosting six Super Bowls a day for 17 straight days. As you know, these games are privately funded. The federal government has been asked to provide necessary support, and we are doing what is appropriate and required. Our administration is fully committed to making these games safe and successful.
Federal support for the games in Atlanta began under President Bush and it continues today. Congress has provided bipartisan support for our involvement and our expenditures, and we certainly commend the Georgia congressional delegation for its leadership.
In 1993 President Clinton created the White House Task Force on the Olympic and Paralympic Games and our charter has been to coordinate all federal activities and to ensure the efficient allocation of public resources. Vice President Gore is the Chairman of that task force, and it has been my honor to serve as Vice Chairman.
The Vice President has been a strong and effective leader on this endeavor as he has so many others, and because of his efforts and this task force we believe the federal government is organized, coordinate and ably providing our partners in Georgia with the support that is needed.
With those opening comments made, I'll now turn the podium over to the Vice President.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mack. I appreciate the kind words and the opportunity to work with you.
I want to thank all of my colleagues who have worked so closely with Mack and me on this Olympic Task Force. I particularly want to acknowledge those up here on the dais with me -- Jamie Gorelick, Deputy Attorney General Mort Downey, Deputy Secretary of Transportation General John Tilelli and Major General Bob Hicks.
Mack McLarty just told you about our task force on the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games. Now I would like to briefly tell you what we have been doing and why we have been doing it.
I know that many of you are following the Olympic Torch Relay. Today, incidentally, it's being carried across the plains of Nebraska by horseback on the very same trails that the Pony Express rode a century ago. That torch will continue to travel our country and our country's history. Before it reaches Olympic Stadium, a lot of people have to do their part.
That's a lot like the gigantic task of putting on the Olympic Games -- to make the most of these games in terms of a successful Centennial Olympic Games for our nation to host for the world. And we have every reason to believe they are going to be the most successful games ever. For all that to happen, everyone has to do their part. When their turn comes, they have to grab the baton and run hard, so to speak.
Well, the Atlanta Committee on the Olympic Games is doing its part. The state of Georgia is doing its part. The city of Atlanta is doing its part. The Federal Government must do its part, too. President Clinton and the entire administration are honored that the United States has the opportunity to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer.
But we also know that, along with opportunity, comes responsibility. We have an obligation to the American people and to the entire world to help put on games that meet the Olympic standard of excellence. These aren't only Atlanta's games, they are America's games. And because they are America's games, America's government must run the leg that only it can, specifically in the areas of security, the processing of international visitors, and transportation.
Twenty-four hours a day during the games, someone has to help the local authorities to keep people safe, whether those people are heads of state from foreign lands -- and a lot of them are going to be attending -- or ordinary families who are coming for the trip of a lifetime to witness the Olympic Games. And someone has to help patrol the streets, gather intelligence, check cars, trucks and packages for explosives, and take the lead on counterterrorism. Only federal law enforcement agencies, teamed up with the Department of Defense, have that kind of muscle and the tens of thousands of people to take on that responsibility.
Over the four weeks that the Olympic and Paralympic Games take place, someone needs to process the visas of 40,000 members of the Olympic family -- that is the athletes, trainers, coaches, referees, journalists, all arriving in Atlanta from 197 countries. That is, incidentally, 12 more than belong to the United Nations. Only the State Department and the INS have the know-how to take on that particular responsibility.
As Mack said, there will be over 10,000 athletes and 2 million visitors at the games. To make sure that they get from venue to venue, someone has to help create and maintain what will be the second largest transit system in the nation this summer. Only the Department of Transportation has the resources to take on that responsibility.
Simply put, without all of this, without our contribution of thousands of troops and federal law enforcers to secure the games, without the federal government's processing of visitor permits, and without our help in building the transportation infrastructure, these games could not go forward.
Now, I don't pretend for one second that the federal role in this summer's games is the primary one -- far from it. This is a partnership. And in this case, the federal government is very much the junior partner. As I said before, it is ACOG -- the Atlanta Committee -- the State of Georgia and the City of Atlanta who are carrying the much heavier loads. But we're going to do our part. And make no mistake, we understand that although the federal government's role is far from primary, it is very much essential if our nation is going to successfully host these centennial Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games.
And thanks to President Clinton's leadership, we are doing and will continue to do the work that only the federal government can do because when America hosts this summer's games, the world will be watching. And the athletes who will be competing in the Olympic and Paralympic Games have waited a lifetime for this opportunity. They have overcome so many obstacles to reach the top of their sports. We pledge to do our job to make sure that the world sees the best games ever. And we pledge that once the athletes get to Atlanta, there are no obstacles blocking their path, and they will have the opportunity to push their abilities to the limit and showcase their talent and the human spirit to the entire world.
Now, I'll be happy to respond to questions. Is that the order of the business here? And then I'll call on my colleagues to help out with the questions that I can't answer. And after a short period of time, Mr. McLarty and I will have to depart and we'll turn it over completely to our colleagues here.
Q What would you assess, what is the potential for terrorist acts in the Atlanta area as you see it right now? And would you say it's lower, higher than normal?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, what's normal?
Q Well, let's just say potential -- especially not only at the sites for the Olympics, but in the overall Atlanta area.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, we cannot and will not comment on any specific threats or the nonexistence of specific threats. That's just the right policy for us to follow, and even though you need to ask about it, really you wouldn't want us to follow any other policy. It wouldn't be responsible for us. We live in a world in 1996 where the threat of terrorism is a fact of life on a day-in, day-out basis. It would be foolish for any nation hosting the Olympic Games or the Paralympic Games not to fully understand that fact.
At the same time, I do not want to give you the impression that there is some special nature of the target. It's not that. But just recognizing the world we live in, we have to be fully prepared. We have taken extensive measures to prepare for every possible contingency that we can anticipate or think of and that's the approach we're going to take.
Q Some of the critics have said -- maybe not critics, but people who are concerned and have looked at the situation say that they are more concerned now about terrorist threats that would be outside of the venues for the Olympics. It might be general areas downtown or in other populated areas where tourists would tend to go during the Olympics. And their concern is that there is not enough attention being paid to those areas outside of the Olympic venues.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we have spent a considerable amount of time and energy attempting to anticipate any possible threat of that sort, and we feel very comfortable with the work that has gone on. Again, the world we live in in 1996 is a world where you just have to be realistic about the threat of this kind of thing and you have to prepare for it. We have prepared for it to the maximum extent of our capability to do so.
Q If I could follow up on that, Secretary Rubin recently said that there would need to be a policy as to whether the federal government would publicly state if there is known to be a threat. Is there such a policy? You seem to indicate that you will not discuss threats even if there is a widespread concern within the government.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Our policy is not to discuss the existence or nonexistence of specific threats.
Q So you disagree with him? He said that there would have to be --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I didn't hear his statement. I guess what he was -- what context, was he on an interview show or something?
Q He came to our bureau.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Oh, I see. You know, he may have been asked a hypothetical question, what if such and such happened, would you inform the public. You know, there are all kinds of scenarios where that would be a legitimate question for people to mull over. I don't see my answer as being in direct conflict with his. I think it may have come in a different context.
Q Do you mind if I follow up with one more question? You are expecting something like 50 heads of state?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I believe that's --
MR. MCLARTY: Probably a little less than that right now -- maybe about 30, I think, confirmed. It may rise.
Q A bunch.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Interest is rising every day.
MR. MCLARTY: There were 45 in Barcelona.
Q Could you tell us what the President's role is going to be with these heads of state? Will there be any foreign policy going on, or is this just going to be strictly sports? Tell us about what's --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, the President, as is traditional when the United States hosts the Olympic Games, will open the games. And it is his intention also to open the Paralympic Games. And he will, I'm sure in the course of his participation in these ceremonies, be visiting cordially with other heads of states who are in attendance. No specific plans have been finalized for side meetings or discussions in conjunction with the Olympic Games or the Paralympic Games. I wouldn't rule that out, but it's not a primary focus of the visit there to the Olympic Games. The primary focus will be the games.
Q Mr. Vice President, the President -- well, the Olympic torch will actually be crossing the White House Lawn sometime next month.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q Could you detail some other events connected with the Olympics before --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It would be June what?
MR. MCLARTY: June 21st -- and you're opening the stadium.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And then what?
MR. MCLARTY: You're opening the stadium.
Q And you're opening the stadium?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes. Yes, I am.
Q Can you detail any more presidential --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And I invite you to cover that event. (Laughter.) And the torch will also be coming through -- among the other locations, it will be coming through Carthage, Tennessee, my hometown. And that is one of the most significant milestones on its journey across our great country, right up there with its appearance at the Sunset Symphony of the "Memphis in May" Celebration. (Laughter.)
Q Well, in view of the great personal presidential involvement in the games, how would you defend against the inevitable charges that the White House is trying to make election year political capital out of identifying the President strongly with a patriotically regarded event like this?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It has no connection whatsoever. The President of the United States traditionally opens the games when the United States is host of the games. And you wouldn't have it any other way, I'm sure, nor would the American people. This is a great honor for our country. It is enhanced by the fact that these are the Centennial Games, the 100th Anniversary of the modern Olympic Games. And, in fact, the First Lady was in Greece at the time when the torch was kindled.
Q Will she be attending some of the competitions?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I hope so. I don't think there are any specific plans, but I hope so. I don't think there are any specific plans, but I hope that there will be plenty of opportunities for the First Family and for my family to go to the Olympic Games, but there are no specific plans of that sort.
I do have a pretty good intention of being present at the Ocoee River in Tennessee. There are some of my fellow Tennesseans who refer to these games as the "Tennessee Olympics with several Atlanta venues." (Laughter.) But beyond that, I don't think there are any specific plans.
Q Do you have a total dollar figure on federal involvement in the Games and where is that coming from and how is it being reimbursed, if at all?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, I do. They will be handing that out to you.
Q Well, the figure given today with all the listings was $227 million.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Correct.
Q But does that include -- apparently it does not include HUD's expenditures on fixing up the pretty dilapidated public housing in downtown areas.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, there --
Q That's $100 million bucks, apparently. That's not in this --
THE VICE PRESIDENT. Well, it includes -- I'll give you a chance to follow up with OMB on that. Do you want to mention -- do you want to talk about that briefly now, Larry?
MR. HAAS: Yes, let me briefly explain how we calculated the money. We asked the question, what is the expense on the Olympics that would not be spent here if the Olympics were not being held. Now, in the case of HUD, as in the case of Transportation and some other areas, we do have a series of ongoing expenditures. They have some sort of a benefit to the Olympic venues and area, but it may be part of an ongoing series of projects.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And, in fact, some of the expenditures that are included in the total are identical to projects that have been done in other cities that are not hosting the Olympics. A lot of the Transportation funding, for example, you can find exactly the same expenditures in other cities, particularly growing cities like Atlanta. But we wanted to be conservative in the estimates, and so even though a lot of it was going to be spent anyway and is exactly comparable to what would be spent in other cities, we wanted you to have the full picture.
Q Mr. Vice President, the report that you released about two weeks ago listing all the federal activities regarding -- did include HUD money. Why is it now not included?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, because the definition that is used for calculating what is spent on the Olympics per se is the more conservative definition that was just given.
Q It's changed then in two weeks?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No. The reports were for different purposes. If you want to look at all of the activities that are underway in the city of Atlanta in which the federal government has a part that will be of benefit to the Olympic Games, that's one category. If you want to look more specifically at expenditures that would not have taken place except for the Olympic Games that is a second, more narrow category. And we have a -- is this the one from a couple of weeks ago? And this is the broader category. The OMB definition is -- it's sort of like scoring rules -- you look at the more accurate definition, which in this case is would it have been spent except for the Olympic Games.
Q Is there no reimbursement on this from the Olympics? The federal government is picking this up and absorbing it, it's not being paid back in any event?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That is correct. There are some other expenditures that will be completely reimbursed by ACOG.
Q Such as? Not use of the military, for example?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Some uses of the military will be completely reimbursed, yes.
Q Well, is that figure of $227 million over five years, is there a number within that that you can --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's a net number.
Q Is there a reimbursement percentage that is going to come out --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, the $227 million is exclusive of the reimbursed items.
When I have to leave, I'll let Larry -- do you want to add a word on that one?
MR. HAAS: There may be a series or more, so I'll wait for you.
Q Can I follow up with a policy question?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Sure.
Q Senator McCain has repeatedly criticized the Olympics for the federal government providing money and resources to the Olympic Games, and asked the question, why should it not be reimbursed if ACOG turns a profit after the Olympic Games.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, these are America's games and not only Atlanta's games. They will be a source of pride for our country and there will be enormous benefits for our country. And you're always going to have one critic pop up and say he doesn't like this or he doesn't like that. And I respect this one critic's views; I don't happen to agree with him, and I don't think most people do.
You know, you look at what other countries have done and you look at what the private committee's expenditures are, and it puts it in perspective. You look at this number -- $227 million, which, as I said, includes some that is identical to what is done in other cities anyway -- and you compare that to $1.7 billion spent by the committee, the private committee, and it puts it in perspective.
Look at what Barcelona did when it hosted the Olympics. The government of Spain spent $8 billion in hosting and showcasing the Olympics in Barcelona. With the security environment that we face in the world in 1996, with the need to protect the millions of U.S. citizens and millions of visitors that are going to be coming from around the world, we feel this is absolutely the responsible approach.
And it is, of course, specifically authorized by the Congress. One member of Congress can say one thing, but the law says something else and the Congress authorizes it. You look back at what happened after Munich, in the aftermath of Munich, as the Lake Placid Games approached there was a little debate here in our Congress and the question was settled. When the U.S. hosts the games, we're going to make absolutely certain that we've done everything possible to provide for the security of the American people, for the security of the games and all of those who attend the games. That's just our policy in this country. It's not partisan, it's not -- and there's been -- there hasn't been a hint of partisanship in this. As I say, there's only been the one critical voice, and I respect his views, but Republicans, Democrats, independents alike, all have been very strongly supportive of this overall national effort.
Okay, I'm going to take off and I'm going to turn it over to my colleagues here. Thank you. Thank you, General.
Q Does anybody know the follow-up question of possible presidential attendance? There was some talk he might visit the U.S. Olympic Committee Training Camp at Chula Vista, California. Is that on, off?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: That sounds like me. The President's schedule is unclear yet, as is the schedule of the First Family, as the Vice President indicated. But he will make his schedule available as soon as it's in.
We can answer questions about law enforcement, transportation, military.
Q While you're on the budget and on spending, do you have a comparison to the Los Angeles Olympics -- how much the federal government spent in putting on those games?
MR. HAAS: We don't have a good, overall figure for Los Angeles, but we know that in the categories in which we have something comparable, it seems like there are reasonable comparisons between 1984 and 1996. If you consider the rate of inflation and the size of the games and all of the rest, you see that the security figure, for instance, or the defense piece of the spending has not really changed dramatically. We had a figure of about $32 million in 1984, and we're up at about -- at the moment, about $50 million for the defense contribution. So we only have limited information, but the limited information that we have suggests that the spending patterns are not going to change very much, and they are pretty comparable over the last 12 years.
Q For the General, perhaps -- what will some of the DOD personnel be doing? Will they be driving buses, will they be just on standby in case of trouble? What will they be doing?
GENERAL TILELLI: Sir, I think we can categorize the role of the service people who are going to be in town as security support to Atlanta Police Department, state law enforcement and the organizing committee. And in a real sense, it falls into four categories of support in the primary sense. And I have a chart that will lay those out for you very quickly and clearly without me having to go into a definitional perspective.
If you look at these -- in clear text, if you look at these, I think these define very clearly what they're going to be able to do. Security, I think, is understandable. Administrative support -- that means placing soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in command and control environments. Sanitization of vehicles -- that's visual and electronic inspection of vehicles going into the venues and into secure areas. And I think the last one is the transportation piece, which is driving buses, transporting athletes from the athletic villages to the venues, from one secure area to another secure area, they will be transporting our athletes.
Q Can you be a little more specific on reimbursements? What gets reimbursed by ACOG, military-wise?
GENERAL TILELLI: Specific requests that have come in. And I would say that as you look at these categories, these categories are nonreimbursable categories. Security support as a generic entity is a nonreimbursable category.
There are other categories. For example, as you look at the barges that are being provided in Savannah as essentially the venue in Savannah to run that competition, that is a reimbursable activity, whereby the transportation, the movement, the personnel are assessed as far as costs and those costs are reimbursed from ACOG or one of the law enforcement activities, back to the Department of Defense.
Q Do you know how much we're talking, total, for DOD is going to be reimbursed?
GENERAL TILELLI: From DOD -- and I say this, and this is not a firm number because we continue to get reimbursable requests -- the number right now is somewhere about a half a million to $600,000 of reimbursable requests or work to be provided by the Department of Defense. And that only accounts for the forces command piece of the Department of defense.
MR. HAAS: Excuse me, can I make a point about reimbursement? There seems to be a working assumption from the questions that there is going to be a surplus. There isn't any expectation that there is going to be a surplus. There have been independent audits by the state of Georgia, and the audits show that there is an expectation that $1.7 billion is going to be raised and $1.7 billion is going to be spent. So these are all kind of hypotheticals and, frankly, we don't think this is going to take place. We don't think there will be a surplus, and it is not us saying so. It is independent audits that are saying that.
GENERAL TILELLI: The one other piece that I would be remiss if I didn't say is for security support. Since it is security support, the preponderance of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines that will be on the scene will be National Guard's people from the state of Georgia and other states because they are involved in security support.
Q So how many full-time regular --
GENERAL TILELLI: On our peak day -- and I have a peak day chart that I won't bore you with -- but on our peak day, there are about 8,600 total soldiers in the city of Atlanta and at the other venues that are external to the city of Atlanta.
Q And how many are --
Q How many active are there?
GENERAL TILELLI: I was going to break it down. Out of that total, on any given day, there are between 1,500 and 1,700 active component soldiers. Is that about right, Bob?
GENERAL HICKS: Yes, sir. With the base ops portion of that, it pushes it up to about 2,000, sir.
GENERAL TILELLI: Again, for the National Guard soldiers in town, we also have a base operations requirement. So it pushes it up to 2,000.
Q For the security personnel who are private who will be hired, will they be in uniform?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: The security personnel hired by ACOG, they will have some sort of uniform delineating them as security personnel. Yes, there will.
Q And we've heard some figures bandied about of probably 15,000 roughly --
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: They will have -- let me see what numbers I have. But ACOG will have somewhere between 12,000 and 13,000 would be our guess. And then that would be on top of the Georgia state component of about 3,000; Atlanta, about 800; and other local law enforcement of about 1,000. So there will be about 4,800 actual uniformed law enforcement at a state and local level on top of the ACOG internal security.
Q And can I ask, kind of getting back to a little more specific question of where the personnel are dispersed -- we understand that in Spain there were quite a few who were dispersed at infrastructure points and in the city, on the metro, et cetera. And they were in uniform, a very physical presence. Again, getting back to observers who say that in the United States there seems to be at this event, there seems to be diffidence about having people in uniform because it looks like a military state, and whose concern on one critic's part that perhaps they should be in uniform to have a show of force, and that also, again getting back to the dispersal of troops or personnel, that there aren't enough downtown and in other areas outside the complex. I know the Vice President may not be able to talk about some of the specific details. Are you able to shed some light on that?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: Well, I can say this generally: The ability to secure the environs of the games against any kind of event, whether it's an ordinary crime or a terrorist event, depends on there being an effective platform of state and local law enforcement. You're absolutely right. And one of our key challenges has been to ensure that there are enough state and local law enforcement available.
One of the benefits, and one of the reasons why we have planned to have in place the Defense Department support that you have heard outlined is to relieve state and local law enforcement of some of the responsibilities that they might otherwise have, so that they can be available outside the venues.
The ACOG responsibility, the 12,000 to 13,000 ACOG personnel, are responsible within the venues. And state and local law enforcement are responsible outside the venues. We, in federal law enforcement, are going to be doing what we can do to help out as well. We just have a very different law enforcement picture in Georgia than we had in California, for example, in terms of the availability of state and local law enforcement. That is why we have done everything we can to make sure that as many people as are available will be present in Atlanta and around the environs of the venues.
GENERAL TILELLI: Our service men and women will be in uniform, to cut to the chase on personnel, DOD personnel.
Q I don't know if any of you up there can answer this, but it was mentioned earlier that there were going to be about 50 heads of state and it's down to about 30. Can we get a provisional or at least an interim list of who these -- who they are? And has anybody been denied who has asked to come?
MS. GLYNN: I suggest you contact the State Department about that --
Q You don't know the answer to that?
MS. GLYNN: I'm sorry?
Q You don't know if anybody has been denied then? MS. GLYNN: I don't. I don't. The State Department
would take care of entry, international entry.
Q I have a question to General Tilelli. Is there any specific mission or role assigned to the Fort McPherson in Atlanta?
GENERAL TILELLI: Well, the question has to do with Fort McPherson. Of course, Fort McPherson is where forces command headquarters is located, and at the same time that's where the Olympic Joint Task Force is located. Bob Hicks, of course, who the Vice President introduced, is the commander of that task force. In a real sense, I think the description that I would put to his JOTF -- Joint Olympic Task Force -- and Fort McPherson is, that is a command and control node to ensure that the 6,000-plus soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines get to the right place, right time, on the right day. So it is a command and control node, and I think that's the best description I can give to you.
Q Can you tell us, did the presence of the camp over there contribute to the saving of money --
GENERAL TILELLI: I didn't understand that question; I'm sorry.
Q The presence of the camp over there contribute to saving the --
GENERAL TILELLI: I just think it's natural evolution as you look to the point and the place in time as to where you would have your command and control node for the Olympic Joint Task Force and for the activities associated with the Olympics to assign it to your forces command headquarters, which is at Fort McPherson, Georgia. I just think that makes good sense, and it causes you not to establish another activity in Atlanta.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 2:44 P.M. EDT