THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MARY ELLEN GLYNN
The Briefing Room
1:32 P.M. EDT
MS. GLYNN: What else is going on?
Q Mary Ellen, there is a story in the USA Today newspaper today about --
MS. GLYNN: You wait until David sits down to ask me. (Laughter.)
Q I was being polite to you, it's your briefing. But what does the White House know about it? Are those reports true? Does the U.S. have this information that these camps exist, a, and, b, that somebody from these camps has been connected to the bombing in Saudi Arabia?
MS. GLYNN: We don't discuss intelligence matters from the podium, as you know. What I would say, though, as I said this morning, it points once again to the need for this terrorism legislation that is going through the Hill right now and that is being held up by the Republicans to be passed as soon as possible. We were hoping to get it by the end of the week. I'm not sure that's going to happen.
Q Well, Newt Gingrich and the Republicans say they'll have a piece of legislation down here by 11:00 p.m. tonight.
MS. GLYNN: Terrific. That's great. As we said, we're hopeful that we can get the legislation. There are still some differences between some of the House Republicans and us on the legislation, most notably, as I said this morning, on taggants. We would like to see it funded.
Q Okay. And as I understand it, the Republican legislation does not include the expanded wiretap authority the President is seeking.
MS. GLYNN: Right, exactly.
Q But earlier in the week the President indicated, hey, let's get what we can get and get that ball rolling. So would he be willing to sign any amount of antiterrorism measure that the Republicans send down and hope that he can get the rest later?
MS. GLYNN: Let's wait and see what gets here. We're still holding out for taggants and expanded wiretapping authority. Frankly, the wiretapping authority is necessary because we've moved beyond -- we've moved into the 21st century -- or 20th century, I think -- now and we need to able to track an individual as they move from phone to phone. In the era of cellular telephones, we can no longer just tap an individual or an individual line -- an individual line.
Q As I understand it, the legislation will also call for an independent study of the taggant issue. Would the President be willing to go along with that as long as there was sufficient funding for it?
MS. GLYNN: We'd have to look at that.
Q Just to be clear, what impact would any version of the current antiterrorism legislation, as it's being considered, have on terrorist training camps in Iran or anywhere else?
MS. GLYNN: I'm not going to speak to terrorist training camps in Iran. But I will say that --
Q Well, anywhere, any terrorist training facility outside the continental United States.
MS. GLYNN: What this terrorism legislation can do is it can help us track down and prosecute people who would inflict terror on the United States or anyplace else in the world -- an international airline carrier or the Olympic Games or anything like that. That's what we're trying to do. And in the wake of the bombing of the Towers in Saudi Arabia and the Olympic bombing last week, I would think that the Congress would want to do this as soon as possible.
Q But this would be aimed primarily at domestic operations, domestic problems, domestic functions, yes?
MS. GLYNN: Primarily, yes.
Q Mary Ellen, just to get at the same question in a different way, during the Reagan administration, this government found conclusive evidence that Libyan agents were involved in an attempt to create havoc in a Berlin disco and President Reagan ordered military retaliation. Question: If this administration has the same kind of conclusive evidence of state-sponsored terrorism against U.S. interests, does military retaliation still figure in your policy and strategy?
MS. GLYNN: I'm not going to speculate on any sort of retaliatory measures we would take if we found out that a country was involved in terrorism. As you know, we're going to sign a bill on Monday, the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, because they have engaged in state-sponsored terrorism --
Q But that's economics --
MS. GLYNN: -- we take this very, very seriously. I'm not going to rule anything in or out.
Q But isn't that a step away from the Reagan policy, that if you have firm evidence --
MS. GLYNN: I'm not stepping away from any policy. I'm telling you I'm not going to rule anything in or out from this podium.
Q The President is due to make a speech almost immediately after signing that. What is the general thrust of that likely to be?
MS. GLYNN: David, go ahead.
MR. JOHNSON: The President's speech on Monday is devoted to foreign policy, but principally to terrorism. He recognizes that a chain of events beginning with the terrorist bombing of the World Trade Center and the plots that subsequently became known after that, the tragedy in Oklahoma City, the bombing of the military barracks in Saudi Arabia, and the suspicious downing of the TWA flight and the Centennial Park bombing in Atlanta have raised the awareness of American citizens and concerned them about terrorism and public safety.
Monday he intends to send a very strong signal on terrorism, explaining his strategy for fighting terrorism to the American public so that citizens understand that he has a comprehensive framework and a clear strategy for fighting terrorism. He will remind Americans once again that this is a long-term struggle. It's global in nature. It affects people around the world, in places as disparate as Atlanta and Tokyo and Paris and the Middle East. He's going to review the events that have focused our attention on the subject, discuss how our security is affected by the profound nature and speed of change that the world is experiencing today. And then he is going to describe a three-fold counter-terrorism strategy, to give law enforcement the tools they need here at home, cooperative engagement with our allies abroad, and steps to be taken to have security and safety at the airports and airlines that link us with our allies around the world.
Q -- new steps announced --
MR. JOHNSON: I think we're going to need to see what needs to be done. I think we have got some things on the table right now.
Q David, that sounded very much like, I mean, if not nearly identical to the speech he made in Louisiana to the disabled American veterans. Would we be right in thinking it would be very similar type of sketch out of the --
MR. JOHNSON: I think you would be right in citing the strong record that the administration has on terrorism. I wouldn't rule out some additional information, some additional topics that he might want to raise that go beyond the speech he made to the disabled American veterans.
Q David, what is the audience for Monday's speech?
MR. JOHNSON: The audience for Monday's speech is the George Washington University.
Q You say it's on foreign policy and terrorism. You mentioned Atlanta, you mentioned TWA. Has the White House concluded that TWA and Atlanta were terrorist acts?
MR. JOHNSON: No, we have not. And you'll recall the way I put that is that those incidents have raised America's consciousness, they have raised some concerns among the American people. And I would not -- that would not lead me immediately to the conclusion that we have made a determination in that.
Q Have you?
MR. JOHNSON: No, we have not.
Q Turning to the semiconductor issue, this morning, the United States and Japan reached an agreement of semiconductor issue. How does this administration evaluate the agreement? And do you believe that it's useful to maintain and expand United States products in Japan?
MS. GLYNN: We have not actually had a full readout on the semiconductor issue from Ambassador Barshefsky. She got on a plane shortly after their announcement out in Vancouver this morning. We do think that it is a success and we will have a more fulsome statement on this later in the day.
Q More fulsome?
MS. GLYNN: Yes, fuller. More muscular.
MS. GLYNN: Robust. Longer.
Q There are a bunch of bills making it here from the Hill in the next few days, I'm guessing. What do you know about when those bills are going to become law?
MS. GLYNN: Some of them I know quite a bit about, and some of them I know very little. Yes, the National Gambling Impact Study Commission Act is here. The last day for action is the 3rd. It will probably be signed tomorrow. The Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, the Pesticides Act, will be signed tomorrow. We've got a variety of other, smaller bills. We, obviously, don't know when the welfare bill is going to get to us, nor the minimum wage bill, nor Kennedy-Kassebaum, but we will sign them in due course.
Q Is that the radio address -- the food safety?
MS. GLYNN: Yes, among other things.
Q Who is going to be the audience for that?
Q Are you going to let cameras do that?
MS. GLYNN: I'll let you know tomorrow.
Q Are you going to let cameras be in on that one?
MS. GLYNN: Yes.
Q Mary Ellen, the White House -- I know we didn't pay much attention to it, but you hosted the apparel announcement earlier this morning. What's the --
Q We were all over this story. (Laughter.)
Q There is a clear hole in terms of enforcement measures -- you know, labels can be counterfeited, things like that. What's your take on how this agreement is actually going to be --
MS. GLYNN: Well, to be honest, I don't think that we are lax on enforcement. The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division does conduct targeted enforcement sweeps in most major garment center. That's been stepped up since last year when, in California, there was discovered to be a sweat shop operating. I think what this is, is it's a recognition by the industry, which is most important, that they need to police themselves and figure out how they can stop any exploitative labor practices that are happening in their very disparate industry.
Q But isn't it the responsibility of the government to protect workers?
MS. GLYNN: Absolutely. That's why the Department of Labor has been so engaged in this over the last year. And, as you know, Secretary Reich has taken quite a bit of action in the last year, in particular.
Q Mary Ellen, yesterday Barry was able to ascertain that when members of Congress had contacted the administration they had been told about the President's preference that White House officials be added to compensation to the Dale bill. Still uncertain in my mind is has the administration advised people, as has been reported by Jack Andersen and apparently others, that they've urged people in the Senate to vote "no" on that bill or to hold it up?
MS. GLYNN: My understanding is that the Democrats did contact the White House, various officials at the White House, and the President has spoken to some Democrats in Congress about this, about the legislation specifically. And what we said is that we would support efforts to broaden the legislation. There are a number of other concerns -- there are a number of other ways that we could look at this. Our main concern is, as the President expressed yesterday, about some of the many White House employees who have not been -- who have had to seek counsel because of these investigations and have not been accused of any wrongdoing at all, but have incurred significant legal fees.
Q Well, has there been any attempt to help the Congress draft such legislation so that a broader bill could arrive on the President's desk?
MS. GLYNN: No, but we have been talking to them about it.
Q Do you know who you've been talking to, or can you tell us -- and what exactly was said?
MS. GLYNN: I would prefer not to give names of members of Congress, partly because I'm sure I would leave a few out.
Q But John's question as to whether --
Q But what has the President said he wants? As Anderson has reported, he wants the bill dead. But you say that --
MS. GLYNN: What we've said is that we would be supportive of a way to broaden the legislation or, perhaps by another means, we would support such efforts to make certain that some White House employees are compensated as well.
Q Do you know if you got a commitment or anything or did they say, yes, we'll work on it?
MS. GLYNN: I don't know anything about a commitment.
Q But Mary Ellen, the implicit corollary of that -- and I think Mark and everybody's trying to get at -- of that wish for a broader legislation is opposition to the legislation as it stands. Is it fair to deduce --
MS. GLYNN: I'm not aware of opposition. As I said, we would support efforts to broaden the legislation.
Q In other words, the Anderson column was inaccurate -- that's what you're saying? What has been the administration position on narrow legislation as opposed to broadened legislation?
MS. GLYNN: Narrow legislation -- we'll look at it when it comes to the President's desk, as the President said yesterday.
Q But the burden of it was that the administration has, with respect to narrow legislation -- which is all that exists right now, there's no such thing as broadened legislation --
MS. GLYNN: That's true.
Q -- has urged no, that this bill either not reach him or that it be defeated. Is that true?
MS. GLYNN: My understanding is that we have said that we would support efforts to broaden the legislation.
Q But in the absence of broadening --
MS. GLYNN: That is my understanding.
Q Mary Ellen, in the absence of broadened legislation, has the White House put out the word to Democrats in the Senate to put a hold on that legislation until it is broadened?
MS. GLYNN: As I said I'm not aware of anything like that. But what we have said is that we would like --
Q Could you take that question?
MS. GLYNN: I think I'm answering it right now, actually. What we have said --
Q Well, but it's not an efficient --
Q It just strikes us that it's probably not a matter of such -- controversy that it can't be answered to the satisfaction of all concerned. The President either has affirmatively told members of his party that he is so concerned about the need to broaden this bill that he could not support and would not wish to see the extant version passed, or he hasn't.
MS. GLYNN: He has --
Q He said that?
MS. GLYNN: He said this yesterday. The President addressed this very directly yesterday.
Q We hadn't noticed. (Laughter.)
Q Then that's a fair point. Then the question is answered, that he has actively, in fact, said he doesn't like this version.
Q I didn't hear him say that. He said he'll decide when he gets here, but he didn't commit one way or the other with the narrow legislation.
MS. GLYNN: He did not commit to what he would do with the legislation. He said when it arrives here we'll see what it has to say.
The fact of the matter is that there is a lot going on in Congress this week -- Kennedy-Kassebaum, health care, minimum wage. There's a whole panoply of issues that the President believes should be addressed as soon as possible -- welfare reform. We would like to see all those things on our desk before -- on the President's desk before he goes away next week.
Q But it's not as if he's been too busy to entertain these questions.
MS. GLYNN: I think that was in response to a question.
Q Well, no, we heard yesterday that he's calling Mike and he's building frustration over this issue. Right? I mean, clearly, it's on his mind.
MS. GLYNN: The issue is on a lot of people's minds. Many people have been called to the Hill, as you know, to testify. More and more people have been called to the Hill lately. It has not escaped our notice. And the President did express some frustration about this yesterday. And he expressed it very directly yesterday.
Q But the committees haven't asked the people to go out and hire lawyers, and they haven't been subjected to FBI investigations, like the Travelgate seven.
MS. GLYNN: What is your question?
Q What's the linkage, other than hiring a lawyer?
MS. GLYNN: It's very, very expensive. What the President has said is he believes that things -- that people should be given fair and equal treatment. And he would like to see the concerns of some of the many White House employees who have been dragged up to the Hill through no fault of their own and made to testify and have incurred significant legal expenses -- he'd like to see them get some relief.
Q In the meeting today with congressional leaders, was the subject of the welfare reform bill discussed? Many of the people who were at the meeting today had voted against it amid concern expressed yesterday, and was this a part of the discussion?
MS. GLYNN: There was some glancing discussion of it, but I think part of what they did is they talked about how best the legislation might be improved. As you know, the President has some significant concerns with it. So they did do some discussion of that. For the most part, though, it was to talk about what's been done so far and what can be done in the balance of the week before they go in recess.
Q Mary Ellen, aside from problematic bill signings at the G.W. speech on Monday, what else is on the President's schedule for next week?
MS. GLYNN: Tuesday, the President will address the launch of the Paralympics Torch Relay to Atlanta from the South Lawn. And at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, the President will meet with the Prime Minister of Sweden. On Wednesday, the President will meet with the U.S. Olympic Team -- I believe the medal winners -- on the South Lawn, and then departs for San Jose. I'll have a California schedule for you later in the day and a week ahead. He's in San Jose --
Q Is it only the medal winners or the whole team?
Q The whole team's not coming?
Q The whole team or just the medal winners?
MS. GLYNN: I thought it was just the medal winners, but let me check on it.
But he goes to San Jose, Salinas and Los Angeles, California and then on to Jackson Hole sometime Friday.
Q Mary Ellen, does he have any scheduled substantive events in Los Angeles on Friday before leaving for Jackson, or is the notion that --
MS. GLYNN: There is supposed to be an event on Friday morning. I can't tell you what it will be yet. I'll give you some details later.
Q In Los Angeles?
MS. GLYNN: In Los Angeles, yes.
Q When does he leave for San Jose?
MS. GLYNN: He leaves for San Jose midday on Wednesday.
Q And you don't have any idea approximately what time his scheduled departure from Los Angeles on Friday would be or what time he will arrive in Jackson?
MS. GLYNN: Not yet, not yet. I think it will be some time in the evening, Friday night.
Q He'll arrive in Jackson in the early evening?
MS. GLYNN: In the evening, yes.
Q So is the overnight Wednesday in San Jose?
MS. GLYNN: The overnight is in lovely San Jose, California, on Wednesday, and then on Thursday, we overnight in Los Angeles.
Q So only half a day of fishing on Friday?
MS. GLYNN: Hopefully.
Mr. Johnson has one more thing he'd like to say.
MR. JOHNSON: Some of you are aware that the Speaker made some remarks critical of the administration's human intelligence capabilities earlier today, and I'd like to give you a brief response.
We regret that the Speaker has attempted to inject partisanship into the intelligence policy on counterterrorism. We believe that's wrong on two points. First, it's wrong to politicize intelligence. We don't believe it can become a political football and remain effective. And we believe he's wrong on the facts. Since 1993 there have been six foreign terrorists apprehended and brought to justice in the United States. Before that time there had been only one. We believe none of those arrests would have been possible without the efforts of the intelligence community.
Ramzi Yousef, for example, the mastermind of the World Trade Center bombing, wouldn't be in jail today without our human intelligence collection capabilities. The contribution of U.S. intelligence collection, which must remain secret, is vital to all of our counterterrorism efforts. In the report that the Congress has requested will be able to make that case, we believe, in very convincing detail.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 1:53 P.M. EDT