THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 2, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
The Milwaukee Hilton Hotel Milwaukee, Wisconsin
5:25 P.M. CDT
MR. MCCURRY: All right. I thought I should check in with you and say hello. Hello.
MR. MCCURRY: Consultations continue. The President's had an extensive series of discussions today, I think you know from your pool that he's talked to President Chirac of France. He had a lengthy conversation with the Vice President. Arriving here in Milwaukee, he talked to Leon Panetta and Tony Lake for a period of time. And I wouldn't be surprised if he has another discussion with them on the way home.
Q Where they here?
MR. MCCURRY: No, Tony was in Little Rock last night and then returned to Washington. He returned last night.
Q This morning or last night?
MR. MCCURRY: He returned last night.
Q So he just flew in and flew out?
MR. MCCURRY: He flew in, flew out, so they could give the President a more extensive briefing and, obviously, show him some things that he, the President, hadn't been able to see when he was dealing by telephone.
Q Clinton's going to talk on the phone with Panetta and Lake on the way home?
MR. MCCURRY: I suspect he will. I mean, he may check in with the office. But that's fairly routine, he would normally do that.
Q Do you think something is going to happen tonight?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to speculate as to the time things might happen. Remember under consideration or, you know, political, diplomatic, economic measures and any combination of those things could be included in an appropriate response to Saddam Hussein's behavior.
Q Mike, was Tony showing him pictures, CAT scans, medical --
MR. MCCURRY: He was shown the kinds of things you can't see when you're talking on the telephone.
Q Two of the networks, Mike, are apparently reporting that the President has decided on military action.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I'm not going to comment on that. The President has a course of action, as you know, we pretty well made that clear to you on Saturday; and he's been consulting with other governments and informing some governments of that course of action.
Q But the decision is made, is that correct?
MR. MCCURRY: The President's been, you know, shaping through a response and discussing that response with other leaders, in some cases, informing other leaders of decisions that he's made.
Q Mike, what should Saddam Hussein be thinking right now?
MR. MCCURRY: He should honor his obligations to the international community and not use his military force in a way that represses minorities.
Above all else, he should not do what he is apparently doing now, which is make deeper incursions into Kurdish occupied territories in Northern Iraq and threaten areas like Sulaymeniyah, the administrative capital of the PUK controlled faction. There's some reason to believe he's doing that. There's reason to believe that some Iraqi military units have been involved in the execution of rival leaders from one of the Kurdish factions. This is all very troubling information.
Q What should he be thinking about what the President and the allied leaders are contemplating?
MR. MCCURRY: That every time that he has miscalculated and believed that he could use his military power with impunity, the international community has reminded him that he has obligations in the aftermath of his defeat in the Persian Gulf War.
Q So far from withdrawing from the area, we have reason to believe that he's actually going further into Kurdish territory?
MR. MCCURRY: That's correct. We've seen -- there was, you know, some discussions about redeploying his units outside the town of Irbil -- which some of that did happen, although they remained in firm control of the area -- there is other evidence that he is using some of that force to penetrate deeper into Kurdish occupied territories in Northern Iraq.
Q BBC apparently is saying the attack was planned for Sunday, a Cruise missile attack was planned for Sunday, but called off for lack of support from countries in the region.
MR. MCCURRY: I don't have any comment on that, at all.
Q What's the status of the President's efforts to build support for whatever it is that this course of action that he is --
MR. MCCURRY: He's had good discussions with a number of foreign leaders and the President would always be in a position to carry forward on any decision he makes, but always want to have as much support in the international community as possible.
Q Is he encouraged by what the other leaders have -- how they've responded to what he's told them?
MR. MCCURRY: He's working with other leaders to make sure we have a response that meets our strategic long-term objectives in the region.
Q Is the President's response -- is the United States' response dependent on getting the support of other countries in the region?
MR. MCCURRY: That's why we always prefer, especially in matters related to the Gulf, to work in cooperation with our closest partners.
Q The Saudis?
MR. MCCURRY: I have the same answer to that that I gave yesterday.
Q And Shali was there, isn't that right?
MR. MCCURRY: Same answer I gave yesterday.
Q Is he --
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. He was in the region, he had some additional consultations in the region and I don't know his current plans, whether he is en route home or at home. You can check at the Pentagon.
Q Are any senior officials here in Milwaukee, with the President today, whose presence has not been announced, as Mr. Lake's wasn't last night?
MR. MCCURRY: Negative.
Q Is there a consensus among the leaders that he has talked to at this point for a course of action, or is the course of action still being worked out?
MR. MCCURRY: There have been good, useful exchange of views today.
Q Mike, can you assure us that there's no military --
MR. MCCURRY: Do you guys want to hear Clinton? Okay.
Q Can assure us there's no military response going on right now, as we speak?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of any -- I mean, there are some military steps that the President told you about on Saturday, and there's been a continuation of some of that military activity. But I'm not --
Q Attack or raid or action?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of any attack or raid.
Q Are you sure you don't want to respond to the -- what was it, a BBC report that said the attack on Sunday was called off? You don't want to offer any kind of --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of anything that would suggest that were moving with a definitive plan on Sunday. That, you know, is -- there's a lot of work that's gone into fashioning our response. Certainly, when it comes to the case of Great Britain, which is a very highly valued ally, we take into account their views. There have been discussions underway today.
All right. Very good. We'll see you back in Washington.
Q If and when something does happen -- I'm trying to figure out how to phrase this -- how do you think you will notify us. I mean, is it going to be an all-call type thing or --
MR. MCCURRY: We will, typically, if there was something developing that we were going to alert you to, make an all-call and then proceed accordingly. And I'm not suggesting to you there's any -- the President's planned a return to Washington, getting in around 10:00, 10:15, returning to the White House and, as far as I know, he plans to stay in all evening. And if there was anything to say he would say it at an appropriate point.
Q Does he have a meeting scheduled with deputies or --
MR. MCCURRY: No, he's been getting updates one or two times every day and I'm sure he would plan to get an update tomorrow and we would advise you. You know, if there was anything that changed in that scenario you'd get an advisory by all-call.
Q Is Florida still on?
MR. MCCURRY: His plans to go to Florida Thursday and Friday are still on, as far as I know.
Okay, thank you. One last question in the back? Okay. We'll see you back in Washington.
END 5:34 P.M. CDT