THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Mexico City, Mexico) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release May 6, 1997
PRESS BRIEFING BY PRESS SECRETARY MIKE MCCURRY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER, GENERAL BARRY MCCAFFREY, DIRECTOR OF U.S. IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICES DORIS MEISSNER AND SPECIAL ENVOY TO LATIN AMERICA MACK MCLARTY
J.W. Marriott Hotel Mexico City, Mexico
3:10 P.M. (L)
MR. MCCURRY: I want to tell you a little bit about what we're going to do. I've asked Sandy Berger, the President's National Security Advisor, to start by giving you an overview, telling you a little bit more about the very successful bilateral meeting that President Clinton had today with President Zedillo, in which they just reported on to you.
I'm then going to ask General McCaffrey to talk a little bit about the alliance document, which I believe we've distributed and you've now seen -- go through some of the aspects of that. Doris Meissner, who is the Director of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, will then talk about the migration declaration and the points specifically on that. Those are the two significant documents that you've obviously witnessed the two Presidents sign today, and I thought it was good for the two of them to give you a little more specificity on those very important declarations.
And then Mack McLarty, who is the President's Special Envoy for Latin America, can talk to you a little bit about the economic aspects of the relationship because that really tees up the President's speech tomorrow. His speech tomorrow I expect to focus a lot on what NAFTA has meant on both sides of the border, and Mack can speak to that point and to some of the other economic aspects of the dialogue today.
Sandy and all of you, thank you very much.
MR. BERGER: Thank you, Mike. What we have been witnessing over the last day and what the Cabinet people who have been here for the last two-plus days and that have engaged in really is the challenge of building a partnership out of diverse histories and cultures between two countries with common interests and common problems.
What we've seen over the last two days and I think what was on display today in the reports of the Binational Commission is the extraordinary sweep of this relationship. It truly is perhaps the most complex, the most diverse relationship that exists between any two countries in the world, with issues that directly affect the lives of our two people.
The 11 agreements that were signed yesterday and the two very important agreements that were signed today really, I believe, launch a new era of bilateral cooperation -- what Foreign Minister Gurria, I thought, interestingly, said, from a period of aloofness to a period of mutual commitment.
Now, I want General McCaffrey and Commissioner Meissner to talk in more detail about these two agreements that the Presidents signed today, but let me just review very quickly some of the other areas that were agreed to between the two governments over the last two and a half days. The border issues, Doris Meissner will talk about.
On trade issues, Florida and Arizona citrus will have access to the Mexican market; wheat and pork from some areas of Mexico will have greater access to the U.S. market. Mexico will improve inspection of livestock and crops to the United States, which has been a vexing trade issue between us. And we will together lead a consortium that will develop Mexico's first private power project.
On the environmental front -- and some of this was referenced in the meeting, in the binational meeting -- the two countries agreed to share operation and maintenance of two border sewage treatment plants in the San Diego and Laredo areas. We will commit $170 million in new grants to the North American Development Bank -- that is an institution created in connection with NAFTA -- for border water projects. We'll be working together on some endangered species and sensitive areas of park lands on the border. And we'll be engaged together in a study of Mexican city pollution issues.
On the education front, you heard the President and others reference the doubling of the Fulbright program so that twice as many Mexican students will be coming to the United States to study, particularly in the science and technology areas. And there were a series of public health issues in which we will work together.
So that this is a relationship that probably has a greater degree of richness and a greater degree of cooperation than any that we have. This Binational Commission, which was originally conceived by President Carter back in the late 1970s, has really matured into perhaps the most elaborate mechanism of bilateral cooperation in the world.
Now, clearly the two most significant things that happened today were the two agreements that the Presidents signed, the Joint Alliance Against Drugs and the Declaration on Migration. And let me ask first General McCaffrey to talk to you about the Alliance Against Drugs.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: A couple of quick comments. There has been a lot of interaction in the last two days. Yesterday, we had the high-level contact group -- Secretary Albright and Gurria, Attorney Generals Madrazo and Reno, and other senior officials -- Defense, Treasury, et cetera -- Ray Kelly from the Department of Treasury and Jim Johnson. And we worked a couple of hours to try and walk through very deliberately each aspect of the ongoing high-level contact group cooperation. A pretty good outcome.
And one of my purposes was to review along with Attorney General Madrazo this Joint Threat Assessment which we intended to present to the two Presidents. This is a real document. It's 97 pages. It has not scrubbed out of it the problems -- they're in there. Whether it's demand, supply, money-laundering, technical discussion of the numbers we're talking about, we put it in the Binational Threat Assessment. We're very proud of this as a practical guide to moving ahead.
The second thing we wanted to do was review where we were in the Declaration of the Mexican-U.S. Alliance Against Drugs. This was important to us. We wanted the two Presidents to give instructions to the high-level contact group based on a series of principles that got to the heart and soul of the matter -- how we're going to raise this level of cooperation up and make it an ongoing cooperation. And we think we've got it.
Now, the most important thing, it seems to me the document says is, you will complete by the end of the year a joint strategy. And it took us a good bit of time to get a Joint Threat Assessment, and now we're going to try and end up with a real document that will guide Treasury, Defense, Justice, Health and Human Services and the rest of us in our attempt to turn this into some useful cooperation for the next decade.
So that's what we've done. We think it was a first-rate piece of work and now we've got to deliver on it. Now, I do get asked -- these are two pieces of paper, these are two documents; is there anything real there. I would suggest there's a lot real there. There is actual extradition. There's actually -- the Mexicans are trying to build a new drug police and we're going to support their efforts. We're giving them equipment -- 73-some-odd helicopters and two years of spare parts, and training the aviators. We're sharing evidence and intelligence. We are trying to have coincidential operations to make sure that international smugglers face the consequences. We're trying to build binational task forces on the border.
I would suggest to you there's a good bit there, and I would be glad to respond to your questions. Thank you.
MS. MEISSNER: The Clinton administration has made a major effort in the last four years to improve the effectiveness of our ability to enforce our immigration laws. Part of that effort has been -- a major part of that effort has been directed, obviously, at the southwest border, where we have really looked for establishing what we call borders that work, and those are borders that prevent illegal flows and facilitate the legal flows of both goods and people.
Part of our work on the southwest border has been to work much more directly with Mexico and find areas of common ground where we can work cooperatively, where we can coordinate, where we can really deal with managing the issue of a shared border. What this agreement that was signed today -- or this declaration signed today by the two Presidents does is elevate to the presidential level a joint commitment by both of our countries to continue to build on that foundation that we have I think very successfully established in the working-level arrangements that we have developed over the last several years between Mexico and the United States.
What we're looking for on the southwest border is safe, legal, orderly movements of goods and of people, and, obviously, the overall environment and vitality that supports that kind of a setting. This agreement establishes several basic principles that are very important to both of our nations. The first is our respective right and sovereign responsibilities to have and enforce our immigration laws the way we see it suiting our national interests in the best ways.
The second is to make consular access and consular resources, information available to nationals of either country who are within the boundaries of the other country; and thirdly, to look forward and think much more aggressively in the future and into the next century about what the border community itself means and how development and law enforcement can work together cooperatively in order to create a border environment that is appropriate for a NAFTA relationship and for two countries that are neighbors.
There are a variety of specific things that we want to press forward on. There are many things that we have already established a record of success, but they include a very concerted effort to discourage criminal behavior and criminal activity along the border and, in the process, protect the rights, the safety, and the human rights of migrants who are there. They include safe repatriation of people back to Mexico when they're unable to cross the border are not authorized to cross the border. They focus heavily on reducing violence and on law enforcement coordination and cooperation. They support strengthening the laws in each country so that we can penalize criminal behavior in ways that discourage it more effectively.
And they go to issues of joint planning where infrastructure is concerned, so that we can begin to have a much more developed border in terms of roads, crossing, bridges, et cetera, but a border that is developed in a way that helps to regulate flows, as I say, so that they are safe, legal, and orderly.
MR. MCLARTY: The issues that Sandy outlined and that General McCaffrey and Commissioner Meissner spoke to, and that President Clinton and President Zedillo spoke to today are issues that really come home to most Americans. As Secretary Albright put it, these are bread-and-butter issues. Whether they're the complicated issues of immigration, which Doris has spoken to in making our borders work for us and unite us as opposed to divide us, or whether it's facing the very dark and evil force of narcotics and narcotics trafficking by forging a much more intense, a more focused relationship and a broad alliance that General McCaffrey spoke of, it is crucial that we work very closely with our neighbor to the south and throughout this hemisphere. And of course, President Zedillo spoke on several occasions, this being the first stop on three trips President Clinton will take to the hemisphere in the next 12 months.
Tomorrow, President Clinton will speak primarily, but not exclusively on economic issues at his speech at the National Auditorium. I think he will certainly revisit the rich heritage and cultural links that we have with Mexico. He will certainly talk about the importance of hemisphere in terms of trade. President Zedillo noted today the moving forward with the free trade area by the year 2005. President CLinton will make the points that our trade is at an all-time high with Mexico, approaching $150 billion of two-way trade. Our exports are at an all-time high, and certainly the exports from Mexico have been -- to the United States -- have been at the very center of their economic recovery.
I would remind you that when Mexico faced their debt crisis in the early '80s it took them seven years to return to conventional financing. This time, with sound fiscal and monetary policies, but also with the NAFTA in place, it took them seven months to return to conventional financing. And, of course, they paid their loan off to the United States years ahead of schedule.
About 700,000 Americans get a paycheck weekly based on trade with Mexico, and that is growing. And because of the NAFTA and locking in the reforms, unlike in the '80s where we actually lost market share, we have actually gained market share, versus our competitors because of lowering of tariffs and the locking in of reforms.
The President noted today that both he and President Zedillo had asked their respective ministers to review both labor and particularly environmental issues along the border. Of course, the border is a much more active place, as Commissioner Meissner spoke, in terms of not only people crossing the border -- actually, more than from Canada -- but also of course, goods.
The President I think will also revisit a number of issues tomorrow in his speech, as Sandy noted. He will, I think, underscore the importance of working very closely together on a number of issues, including narcotics, narcotics trafficking and immigration, and how that tears at the very fabric of our society, and is related directly to the economies of both of our countries.
I think, finally, the President will certainly underscore one of the basic themes that he has made repeatedly in this visit, and that is this is a relationship with a neighbor, a partner -- our third largest trading partner -- and a friend. And he will underscore a continuing deepening of that partnership on common interests and shared values and a partnership based on mutual respect and mutual trust.
Q General McCaffrey, you said this was a real document containing real solutions, but it appears to be completely devoid of any reference to high-level official corruption in Mexico. These are problems that the State Department has identified as a major factor in drug trafficking. I wonder, can you actually develop a plan to solve these problems if you don't identify those challenges in the report?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Yes. There aren't any real solutions in here, this is an identification of the Joint Threat Assessment. Now, I would also -- there's no question that corruption and violence are the two tools that are threatening democracy out of -- who knows what the number is -- between $6 billion and $30 billion of narco money. There are thousands of people carrying weapons involved in crime in both nations.
The number doesn't stick in my own mind and I don't mean to imply symmetry, but as I remember the number, the FBI prosecuted some 600 cases of official corruption in the United States last year, and a substantial amount of that was related to drugs. So we understand without any question -- we've watched the Mexican President and Attorney General take apart the existing drug police and they're going to try and stand it up. We've watched them pick up on this thug, Gutierrez Robollo shortly after they put him in office, and in 62 days, they busted him. So I don't think there is any question that both of these nations are scared and determined to confront violence and corruption.
Now, you might want to look at Paragraph 3.9; Sandy just pointed out this topic is addressed in there. But I think your point is a good one; drug corruption is clearly a part of it.
Q Could you shed any more light on the agreement on the DEA agents carrying sidearms?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Yes. You know, I think there's been -- to be honest, I think the argument was misplaced. The problem is to assure both nations that their own laws will be enforced on their sovereign territory by their own police, prosecutors, judges and armed forces. That's the challenge, and that's part of the region that this alliance document was so important. We have committed to just that principle.
Now, in addition, the alliance document notes that both these nations are fundamentally committed to a principle of protecting the law enforcement women and men on both sides of the border. And it is broader than the DEA. We're talking about both Mexican and U.S. law enforcement agencies -- ATF, Treasury, Customs, FBI, DEA, federal marshals, et cetera.
I might remind you that the climate, based on this drug crime, is ferociously dangerous. We had over 1,000 law officers shot last year, killed or wounded. They had a couple of hundred killed. The armed forces has had casualties. So there is no question both sides have agreed the protection packages are what we're going to do. And I'm not going to spell out for you, in case there is any question, how we're going to go about doing that.
Q General McCaffrey, does DEA accept that, though? They were the ones who were concerned -- the agents.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: There is no question that DEA, FBI, marshals, every other federal law enforcement agency is fundamentally committed to the same principle. We will protect the men and women of law enforcement on both sides of the border. That's a commitment by both Presidents in this alliance document.
Q American DEA are satisfied that they will be protected on the Mexican side of the border and are not asking to carry weapons anymore?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: I didn't say that. What I said was, we are committed to the principle that the law enforcement -- I'm repeating myself, I recognize, but it's important for you to get this. You know, as a guy has been wounded in combat three times, clearly we are committed -- and who has watched the Mexicans suffer so much from this -- we are committed to protecting law enforcement officials from both nations, and we will do that.
Q Mr. McCaffrey, in the same question, two-part question. Is it correct that DEA agents will be able to carry weapons only for their own protection? I know you don't want to specify, but at least confirm that part.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: It is very important that you get the point that the Mexican army, which destroyed more illegal drugs last year than any other force on the face of the Earth, lost bunches of people -- killed, wounded, or in accidents. Mexican police officers had hundreds killed or wounded. And on our side of the border, 50 percent of the arrests in the United States test positive for drugs, and we had hundreds of our law enforcement killed and wounded. We will commit ourselves to the principle of the protection of these law enforcement officials.
Q The other part, Mr. McCaffrey, is it correct that Mexico has finally accepted hot pursuit?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Absolutely not. What I said was, one of the most important principles of the alliance is that the laws of Mexico and the United States, on their sovereign territory, will be enforced by the police, judges, prosecutors, and armed forces of their own country. I want to say that pretty unequivocally. We are sharing evidence, sharing extradition, sharing intelligence, sharing training.
Q How do you expect to carry out your commitment to protect DEA agents in Mexico and of both countries?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: I think -- to be honest, I've tried to be about as forthcoming and explicit. Normally, people do not have a hard time understanding me. That was the answer.
Q Are both countries seeing each other eye to eye on the drug issue, General?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: We've got pretty explicit cooperation and dialogue on a whole series of points of contact. I mean, the obvious ones -- the judicial system, sharing of evidence, the binational task forces, cooperation in law enforcement, cooperation in money laundering -- enormously important. We now have computer software training programs, and the Mexicans have a new law and regulations published and they're moving ahead on money laundering. We're cooperating on gun smuggling. We literally have a major training effort going on to ensure that we can write software programs in Spanish so that Mexican law enforcement can trace weapons that show up south of the border, but came out of the United States. So at almost every point of contact there are a series of cooperative efforts going on.
Q General, will you set specific, quantifiable measures of success in these negotiations that will take place at the Cabinet level over the next few months?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: I think, in general, both sides are committed to assessing targets and outcomes and deliberately moving forward and achieving new realities.
Q There will be a measurable way to judge success or failure?
MR. BERGER: There will be accountability because they will have to report to the two Presidents.
Let me put one little other additional piece of context in this. The idea of an Alliance Against Drugs really grows out of the discussions that took place with the President around the time of the drug certification issue, in which it became increasingly clear that we -- while we were cooperating at an unprecedented level -- that we really had to raise that level of cooperation to an entirely different level.
And the word "alliance," I think, is a very descriptive one here. Just as we have in the past formed security alliances to deal with common military challenges, here we are forming a drug alliance to deal with a common transnational challenge. And I think what is reflected and represented in this document is three things: number one, a commitment at the highest levels of these two governments to a new level of cooperation; number two, a very specific set of 16 strategic objectives; and number three, a very specific mandate to General McCaffrey and his counterparts to come back quickly with a joint strategy that will fight this war together, with respect for each other, but together. And I think that is -- we shouldn't get lost in the forest for the trees here.
MR. MCCURRY: General McCaffrey's got a group waiting for him and I'd like for him -- do you want to make one point, and if someone's got an absolutely pressing question for him --
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, let me, if I may, because I think the parting comment is an important one. I've got to go deal with 40-some-odd physicians, scholars, sociologists to try and continue the dialogue between Health and Human Services and Mexican health officials that this drug problem is more than law enforcement defense evidence. It's also a notion of how do we get at reduction of demand and that no society is invulnerable to that. So I would urge you to take that into account, to watch that piece of it also as we try and develop it.
Q General, what is your current assessment of the newly reconstituted antidrug force and its leader?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: It's a work in process. They're committed to building honest law enforcement in the drug arena. They've developed the tools to vet their own people and they're going about it with a vengeance. And we're going to support them in every way we can.
I'm going to ask for your permission -- I'm going to have to step off.
Q Mr. McLarty, you said that the President was going to be giving a speech to the Mexican people tomorrow that will talk about NAFTA. Considering the fact that 60 percent of the American people feel that NAFTA has been bad for the U.S. economy, wouldn't it be more appropriate for him to address the American people tomorrow?
MR. MCLARTY: I think he'll be addressing both people tomorrow. I don't think there's any question about that. That's part of this partnership and part of the effort of our first stop on three trips to the hemisphere.
But I think part of that is underscoring the jobs that have been created, the stability that the NAFTA has provided to Mexico, and the fact that exports in many ways have powered some of the very positive economic news that all of us have seen in recent months. And about 40 percent of our exports are within this region. A little over 30 percent are with our two NAFTA partners. And, of course, as all of you know, those jobs have a tendency to be much higher paying, 13 to 16 percent, and much more stable.
I think the President, as well as President Zedillo, both spoke today of education. The President, of course, has spoken repeatedly about lifelong learning, how we can deal with in a positive way the changes that are taking place. This is a tremendous opportunity, and I think part of what will be the theme of tomorrow in an ongoing way is economic integration is taking place. That's the reality of the global economy. The question is, are we going to shape and lead that process.
Q Mr. Berger, a couple of days ago President Zedillo said there would be no further discussion on the sidearm issue. Are you guys saying today that there has been further discussions, or that that issue has been put aside and you're discussing other ways to protect U.S. --
MR. BERGER: I really do think Barry has addressed this about as much as we can. There are some issues, the solution of which is inversely proportional to how much you talk about them. (Laughter.)
Q Also tomorrow, will the President also be addressing the concern that some Mexicans have that America can be arrogant and trying to impose its will or impugn the sovereignty of Mexico?
MR. MCLARTY: Ron, I believe in many ways the President discussed that today in the type of partnership that he believes is fundamentally of critical importance to our future. I think he spoke of that today in terms of that partnership based on the respect for each other, mutual trust, the sovereignty of each nation, and certainly the rich cultural and historical links. I think he will repeat that tomorrow, but in a much more positive way than perhaps your question suggests.
Q Following up on that one, what about certification process? Is there a possibility of changing it so that it becomes more respectable?
MR. BERGER: There are a number of initiatives in our Congress to look at the certification process. One, in fact, has recently passed through the House International Relations Committee by a bipartisan vote. I think the President has said in the past that he is prepared to work with the Congress on ways to improve the process, but this obviously has to be something that we do very much in consulation with both Republicans and Democrats in the Congress.
Q Aside from the statistics and figures about the economic recovery, there is very little evidence in Mexico of a basic level of economic recovery that increases the salaries of workers. You're talking about the fact that Mexico paid back the money ahead of time that they borrowed that money from other countries, talking about the export sector. But that's only one sector; other sectors have not recovered. What's the other reason for optimism?
MR. BERGER: Well, first of all, I think President Zedillo's answer to that question today I thought was very good, and that is, there is a sharp concern about the inequities that exist, but growth provides the wherewithall and the resources in which to more aggressively deal with those inequities, and the fact that Mexico has come out of this economic crisis much more rapidly than it did the crisis in the '80s in no small measure is a result of the fact that it has had an open and more competitive system.
Now, clearly, the burdens and benefits within society that flow from these kinds of changes are not shared equally, and it's incumbent upon government and it's incumbent upon all of us to look at ways in which we can make sure that those edges are smoothed out through giving people greater tools, through education, through empowering people to lift up their own lives.
Q Mr. Berger, how close are you all to identifying the arms dealers in southern California and southern Texas that are providing arms to the drug-trafficking groups in Mexico, the same arms that are used to kill policemen and the same arms that you're concerned the DEA needs more protection with?
MR. BERGER: Well, this is a catch-22 answer, because, unfortunately, Barry is not here, who would be in a position to answer that question, and my jurisdiction stops at the water's edge.
Q Mr. Berger, why did it take so long for Mexico and the United States to agree on the obvious, that there is a drug problem in the United States, that the drugs come from Mexico, that there aided by corruption, that U.S. policies have had varying degrees of success? And now that it took so long to come up with this document, why is it going to take another nine months for you all to agree on how you should combat it jointly?
MR. BERGER: I think that's the wrong way to look at it -- it may come as a surprise to you. (Laughter.) This is not done from a standstill beginning here. I mean, we have been engaged with the Mexicans over the past several years in a growing cooperation. And I believe that General McCaffrey outlined a number of elements of that cooperation before he left. That cooperation enabled the President to make the certification that he did, and to say that there is an unprecedented level of cooperation.
But the fact of the matter is that, to some degree, as other avenues of drug trafficking have been shut down, Mexico has become a greater corridor and the problem here has become more intense. And, therefore, we have to look at this problem with a larger aperture than before and deal with it as a serious security threat to this country and to our country, and deal with it as partners in an alliance against a common enemy.
So I think what you've seen today is not the discovery of the drug problem -- I mean, people have been fighting this war intensely for many, many years and this cooperation has intensified just since the high-level contact group with General McCaffrey was established -- but what you've seen here is a commitment by the leaders to take this another step.
Q So if you knew about the problem, why didn't you just move on to the solutions and the strategies --
MR. BERGER: Well, we're not standing still. We're not standing still. Again, General McCaffrey talked about what we're doing together. There is military-to-military cooperation. There is cooperation in helping the Mexicans technically with the new police they're creating. There are border task forces. All those things go forward. But what we're trying to do in this process is to come up with a clear joint strategy for dealing with the bipartisan.
Q Mine is a question on immigration for Commissioner Meissner. Some of what was said today would seem to indicate that the administration may be going to Congress to ask Congress to roll back some of the provisions on deportation that were enacted or part of the new law, the '96 law?
COMMISSIONER MEISSNER: Well, what was said is that we're working with Congress on various -- on certain aspects of the law. As the President said, a big step forward comes from the budget agreement arrived at last week. That was one of the President's commitments when he signed the bill, that there should be greater -- that the provisions regarding legal immigrants need to be readdressed, and that, hopefully, now will be able to be enacted based on this consensus.
In addition to that, we have felt very strongly for a long time that this section, which you're familiar with, 245(I), this is a section that allows people who are eligible for visas to remain in the United States when they adjust their status to pick up a visa. That has been eliminated as of September 30th in the legislation. We oppose that and we will do everything that we can to change that and make that be a permanent feature. And then we're in discussions with the committees on the deportation provisions and on suspension of deportation, and we hope that we will get some relief there.
Q What are you asking for?
COMMISSIONER MEISSNER: There are a variety of proposals that are under discussion, and I think if I would talk anything further about it, I'd jeopardize what we might get. But it's a major concern and we're working on it.
MR. MCCURRY: Thanks, everyone. Thanks to the briefers. Let me tell you a little bit of the rest of the evening. Mr. Johnson will be back here around 7:30 p.m. tonight, for those of you who are not elsewhere, just to give you a very quick readout on the President's meeting with some of the political leadership -- political leaders of the parties contending in the current election period and have been a part of the growing and vibrant political dynamic here in Mexico. And I think, with the exception of the toasts which are open later tonight at the state dinner, that will be it for us tonight, unless anyone's got any special needs.
Q Can you tell us about what the President's going to announce about affirmative action later in the week and what his intention is?
MR. MCCURRY: The President's intention -- or, actually, the administration sent to the Federal Register today for publication later this week a series of proposed regulations that implement the review of federal affirmative action programs in the procurement area that arise from the review ordered by the President last year in light of the Adarand decision.
The President's longstanding view has been that federal affirmative action efforts must be narrowly tailored to meet the strict scrutiny tests established in Adarand, and that one way to do that is to scour the federal government and look for the proper use of these programs with respect to curbing ongoing and persistent discrimination.
So much of that work has now been done. The Justice Department has forwarded to the Register a proposed reg that will actually implement some changes in federal affirmative action programs that we believe will be necessary to defend those programs in court under the constitutional criteria established by Adarand. And the President is very comfortable that mending and not ending is the way also to preserve and protect these programs as they face new constitutional and, ultimately, political scrutiny.
Q Mike, the President said he was looking forward to switching to a cane next week. Does he have the same physical therapy team with him here that he had in Helsinki, and where has he done his physical therapyy?
MR. MCCURRY: A little bit different. One of the docs from National Naval Medical Center out at Bethesda who operated on him is here, Dr. Adkinson. Dr. Adkinson was -- Dr. DeMaio was in Helsinki, so they switched. They had the two surgeons that work on him switch. Dr. Adkinson got to come on this trip Lieutenant Commander Paco, who is his physical therapist is on the trip, too. He had some down time this afternoon and was doing his regular physical therapy during that time.
The President has had a -- was out on the Truman balcony the other night and developed a little bit of a back spasm. A couple people of asked me, gee, he seems like he's experiencing some discomfort. He is. It's in the lower back and it's just a result of probably the use and strain on some muscles that don't normally don't get used because of the different regimen he's using for his therapy.
Q You said he was on the balcony --
MR. MCCURRY: He was out on the Truman balcony, he sat and read a book for a while and just was lying crooked or something like that.
Q Mike, is he taking anything for that?
MR. MCCURRY: I think a muscle relaxant. I didn't get a full readout on the drugs, but he's taking a muscle relaxant and also some non-narcotic analgesics.
Q Mike, apparently a number of the protesters who were out protesting the President yesterday have been arrested, including a couple of the leaders, the protest leaders. Are you aware of that and --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of that and don't have any reaction to that until we get any further information.
Q Could you check into it?
MR. MCCURRY: I can check into local -- see if we have any reason to comment on any local law enforcement efforts.
Q Mike, what night was that of the back spasms? You said the other night --
MR. MCCURRY: The other day, I think it was over the weekend.
Anything else for the day?
Q Thank you.
END 3:54 P.M. (L)