THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
The Briefing Room
2:00 P.M. EST
MR. MCCURRY: Welcome to today's daily briefing at the White House. The only thing I have to tell you is that the President will congratulate the 1997 World Series Champion Florida Marlins on Tuesday, February 17, at 4:20 p.m.
Q Here or there?
Q How many of them are left? (Laughter.)
MR. MCCURRY: At the East Room.
Q What cities are they coming from?
MR. MCCURRY: I will not comment on the prospects for a repeat during the 1998 season, nor comment on issues related to personnel on that team.
Q Is there a reason he's doing it during the Olympics?
MR. MCCURRY: I think it was just working out a time. Pitchers and catchers -- when pitchers and catchers reporting? Pretty soon.
Q Did you call this one -- did you have any money down on the Marlins?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. I think there was a lot of money down on the Marlins, but it wasn't mine. Anyhow, we'll have a lot of people here including Bobby Bonilla, and we'll look forward to that occasion.
David Satcher is now our Surgeon General -- good news -- or will be when he gets sworn in, which will be soon. Good news.
Q When are you going to do it?
MR. MCCURRY: Probably Friday. Friday morning.
Q Has Jim Kennedy or you been able to check what we asked this morning, that is will the President cooperate with the independent counsel if he's asked to, by giving a deposition or interview?
MR. MCCURRY: The President has already indicated and indicated to you Friday that he will cooperate with the independent counsel, but as to whether or not and he will be asked to participate in that kind of discussion and what his response will be, I really think it's better for Mr. Kendall to take up that question. If there was any discussion like that it would be between Mr. Kendall and Mr. Starr, so it's better that he be the point of reference on that.
Q Well, one of the reasons I ask, you know there are sourced stories which suggest that the President may say that he believes the independent counsel is not conducting a fair investigation and he will say that because of that he will decline to answer questions.
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of any of that and I think it would be best for Mr. Kendall to address the hypothetical question of whether there will be an interview.
Q Well, Mr. Kendall doesn't entertain questions, Mike. So that leaves us with you right here in the flesh.
Q Or perhaps Mr. Kennedy. I mean, which is it?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll find out. I hadn't heard anything further on that, but I'll find out whether there's anything to add.
Q Do you think the investigation has been fair?
MR. MCCURRY: Say again? I will defer to Mr. Kendall, who has made a public statement on that and presumably taken some action in court.
Q Did the President see the Kendall brief, or did Mr. Kendall consult with him and say, sir, I want to file this kind of brief?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe Mr. Lockhart said yesterday it's safe to presume that the President is supportive of what is lawyer would do in the matter. Did you not say that? Asked and answered yesterday.
Q What do you think of Starr's contention that these leaks are coming from the White House?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't want to comment on something that's now apparently a matter of litigation.
Q What's a matter of litigation? You mean the Kendall brief makes this --
MR. MCCURRY: Mr. Kendall has filed a sealed brief in court.
Q But the President knows what it is.
MR. MCCURRY: Presumably, he's -- he's presumably familiar with the details in some sense most of you are, too, if you had access to Mr. Kendall's lengthy letter to Mr. Starr. I can't imagine that -- it's obvious going to be an argument along the same line.
Q What do you think of Starr's tactics against Monica Lewinsky and her mother, Marcia Lewis?
MR. MCCURRY: I think that we have raised the concerns that we've raised on a variety of matters and nothing really to add to that right now.
Q Mike, the nation may be days away from war and, yet, in the Rose Garden today the President turned and didn't take any questions on any subject. Is that the sort of thing we're going to be seeing in the future, the President --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he had a press conference Friday, Scott, so he obviously takes questions from time to time, and he was late to get down to see members of the House of Representatives from the Democratic Party at their retreat.
Q So you're saying that that's not a standard that we're going to be seeing in future days?
MR. MCCURRY: He just had a press conference, Scott. Obviously, we do different things on different days.
Q Mike, granted the President is very happy with all of his support lately. But Reverend Jesse Jackson, just now in Africa, said that the Clinton administration should push for as much diplomacy and war should be a last resort. What are you saying about that?
MR. MCCURRY: We certainly agree with that. We are pushing very hard for a diplomatic resolution to the standoff, but the diplomatic string is running out.
Q Mike, today the French and members of the Arab League led by the Egyptians, are trying to put through the Security Council some formal resolution where there will be a compromise, where Saddam Hussein will open up all the sites, including the nine palaces for a period of time in exchange for setting a date for lifting the sanctions. How does the U.S. --
MR. MCCURRY: The United States believes that the purpose of all diplomatic efforts ought to be to ensure total access by the U.N. Special Commission inspectors as they do their business in Iraq, and measures which protect the basic integrity of UNSCOM's ability to do the work it's been assigned by the U.N. Security Council. In short, unfettered access to those sites which the U.N. Commission, the experts, the scientific people who know what they are looking for, the ability for them to do their work in a free and unfettered manner. That's what the purpose of any diplomacy on this at this moment.
Q Would the U.S. be prepared to set a date for lifting the sanctions if such unfettered access were --
MR. MCCURRY: The only road to sanctions relief for Saddam Hussein is to see that UNSCOM certifies that Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction. U.N. sanctions are going to remain in place until the world community is satisfied that he has no capacity to reconstitute weapons of mass destruction programs.
Q Were White House officials and the President aware that the Riadys had a long-term relationship with the Chinese intelligence agency?
MR. MCCURRY: No, and I'm not sure if that's even been asserted in any formal way.
Q Well, the Post has got a story today quoting a draft report and saying that the Riadys had this --
MR. MCCURRY: We have not seen that draft report.
Q Would you dispute that assertion, though?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know anything about what the Riadys contacts other than those that we've reported to you about his relationships with the President, which are longstanding.
Q Well, what are the President's contacts with the Riadys now?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of any.
Q Has he broken off all contacts with them, or does he still --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware that they have had any contact in quite some time. I'd have to go back and check. I haven't answered a question on that matter in a long time.
Q Mike, a French oil company -- which signed a contract recently with Iran is also talking about signing a contract with Iraq to develop its oil fields. Will the U.S. consider that a violation of the U.N. sanctions and do you plan to protest?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe that there are existing U.N. economic sanctions that prohibit develop of oil and gas resources within Iraq beyond those that are authorized by the oil for food resolutions, which we support and acknowledge we support. I think it would depend on whether it was within the confines and boundaries of the carefully supervised U.N. program that allows Iraq to sell oil so it can take care of suffering Iraqi people, people suffering at the hands of Saddam Hussein.
Q Mike, could you tell us what the President and Bulgaria's President are going to be talking about?
MR. MCCURRY: The President looks forward to his session this afternoon with Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov. They are going to talk a lot about mutual efforts to enhance both economic security and regional security in Southeast Europe. There are a number of items that are on the bilateral agenda that we will pursue with Bulgaria, specifically America's commitment to keeping the doors of NATO open for future members.
Bulgaria has been an exceedingly successful participant in the Partnership for Peace program, has really demonstrated in a variety of ways that it is in interested in a future close military relationship and close relations with others in the European Community. They will talk a lot about the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and the work that we're doing together on that. I think the President will take the opportunity to compliment President Stoyanov on his pursuit of both political and economic reform. He has been a champion of both and surprisingly adept at managing a lot of the different forces of change that we see throughout Central and Eastern Europe. And I suspect one outcome of this meeting will be more on how we can take the kind of progress we've seen in Bulgaria and spread it throughout that region. And I suspect some more later today on an action plan to that effect.
Q Mike, given all those nice things about Bulgaria, why doesn't the President rate a photo op?
MR. MCCURRY: We are having a photo op with him.
Q I thought it was stills only.
MR. MCCURRY: That's a photo -- they're going to take pictures. (Laughter.)
Q Why doesn't it rate a regular photo op?
Q Is the United States and Britain -- during the course of the military action against Iraq about possible act of terrorism to other citizens, for example, like a bombing on New York City or a bombing Washington suburbs as a reiteration during and after the --
MR. MCCURRY: The State Department, even today I believe, has had more to say about how we advise all Americans to be conscious of their own security circumstances at a time when there is increased tension in that region of the world. On previous occasions, when we've seen an increase or an escalation in controversy and disagreement in that region, when we've seen the prospect of violence in that region from whatever source, we have advised American citizens, as we advise U.S. personnel around the world, that they should be conscious of the possibility that exists for any kind of threat to their own security. And the State Department has said so today, I believe.
Q Did Bulgaria not at one time have a hand, it was thought, in an attempt to assassinate the Pope in the '80s? There was an investigation --
MR. MCCURRY: Trivia question from a decade and a half ago. I believe my recollection of that is that in the days of communist rule there may have been allegations to that effect. How they were pursued I don't, frankly, remember.
Q Does a new government --
MR. MCCURRY: Oh, this is -- the government of President Stoyanov is recognized I think throughout the world as being a strong champion of economic, democratic reform. There will be discussions today, among other things, about how the United States can work together with the government of Bulgaria to improve the educational curriculum for young school children in Bulgaria as they learn more about democracy and democratic institutions.
Q Smaller classrooms.
MR. MCCURRY: It's a different world we live in now, Sam. (Laughter.)
Q I take your point.
Q Is that what you were talking about when you said something later this afternoon?
MR. MCCURRY: We'll give you some paper after the meeting that will constitute a readout of the meeting. It will have some further discussion of that point.
Q Did the President have a message today for fellow Democrats, and also on Thursday about the Lewinsky matter, asking them for more vocal support, asking them not to pay attention --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, an indirect one. I think that he's there, doing his work, demonstrating to them that he's fully focused on the agenda that we will pursue in the year ahead, and that together we've got a lot to do, a lot of work on the agenda and that he will keep his focus where he believes the American people want his focus to be.
Q Do you think that the Monica Lewinsky controversy affects in any way the President's prospects for getting action on the Hill on his legislative agenda?
MR. MCCURRY: I do not believe we've seen any evidence that there is an impact. To the contrary; there is a strong desire on the part of the members of Congress that we've talked to and, in some cases, both sides of the aisle, to work on the agenda that the American people expect both Congress and the President to pursue.
Q Or does it affect his ability in the Iraqi crisis to marshal world opinion and help? You know what Saddam Hussein is saying.
MR. MCCURRY: Clearly not, since we are working very effectively to marshal exactly that support through the work the President is doing, the work the Secretary is doing, Secretary of Defense in the region now, others. We are building support for a very determined effort by the world community to address this provocation by Saddam Hussein and to pursue whatever options are necessary to meet the simple objectives we have.
Q Well, how do you deal with the allegation that exists in much of the Middle East, in much of the developing world, that the President is simply seeking to distract attention from his own problems by going to war against Iraq?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we have addressed that question numerous times here. We have for six years now been working to assure the world community that Saddam Hussein no longer poses a threat to his neighbors; is not in a position to reconstitute his programs in biological, chemical warfare. We have from time to time had to repel aggressive threats by Saddam Hussein as he feints towards his neighbors, specifically Kuwait, as he violates the no-fly zone that has been in place.
So dealing with the provocations of Saddam Hussein has been a constant for six years, and dealing specifically with the question of whether or not the United Nations will be able to do its work to assure the world that he is in no position to reconstitute his programs of weapons of mass destruction has been ongoing over the course of the last six months, long before the world ever heard the name Monica Lewinsky. So that is obviously a fallacious and ill-begotten charge.
Q Can you explain why Saudi Arabia has been reticent to have the United States -- offensive strikes --
Q Fallacious -- (laughter).
MR. MCCURRY: Stop that.
Q You said it.
MR. MCCURRY: I can tell you that we've had very good consultations with King Fahd; as you have heard a number of us say that we have got commitments in place which will provide all the support we need within the region should military action be required.
Q Yes, but that's not my question. My question is why -- if the American people are supposed to believe that he's a threat right now to the region, why wouldn't a country that would presumably be most at threat not want us to act offensively from their boundaries?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, that country can address that question specifically. But I think the American people know that our force presence in that region would not be possible without the support of Saudi Arabia -- and for that matter, Kuwait, Bahrain, the Gulf States, the government of Turkey and others who have been supportive and who have provided bases, use of air space, other logistical support that give our sanctions that are in place -- give them teeth and make possible the forward deployment of resources in that region that allow us to be confident that we can deal with whatever threat exists.
There has been strong support for the last six years for the forward deployed presence we have in the Gulf and for the effort we make to assure that Saddam remains in the box in which he has been placed by the international community. And the support of Saudi Arabia on that score has been unwavering.
Q Mike, if the United States can't say for sure how many weapons of mass destruction Iraq because it can't get the U.N. weapons inspectors in, after a military strike how will we know if our objectives have been met?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, our objective will have been met if we have substantially diminished Iraq's capacity to reconstitute its weapons of mass destruction program.
Q Right, but how will we know that if right now we --
MR. MCCURRY: We've got a variety of ways in which we can gather information on that, and hopefully, one way in which we would do that would be to return to a direct inspections regime that would allow us to see that there was not any further effort by Iraq to both violate U.N. Security Council resolutions and attempt to go back and reconstitute anything that he has lost as a result of military action.
Q But you're saying that even without weapons inspectors we have ways of knowing -- is that what you're saying? Because if so, why do we need weapons inspectors?
MR. MCCURRY: We have ways of gathering information there. We not long ago in this room were talking a lot about U-2 flights and things like that. But going into all those is something I obviously can't do. What is best and what is preferable and what is mandated by the world community is direct inspections by scientific and technical experts working under the auspices of the United Nations who can go on site and look point-blank at the facilities they need to see.
Q Can I sum up a little bit of what you've been saying? You're saying that --
MR. MCCURRY: No. I can only put words in my mouth.
Q -- that the President's foreign policy is not weakened, not affected at all by the scandals, even though the Middle Eastern leaders went back and seemed to be buying time because of it. And you also are saying the President is telling the Democrats to forget the newspapers, forget all these headline stories day after day after day, and we're just carrying on as usual -- business as usual.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, you may have inferred those words, but I think I chose my words boldly and correctly to reflect what I wanted to say.
Q Considering the headlines of the last couple of days, do you think David Kendall's filing in court about Starr has had a chilling effect on what was called here "lies and leaks"? Do you think there has been less of them?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. You're in a better position to answer that than I am.
Q Mike, can you tell us anything about how Democrats greeted the President? Was the greeting warmer and more supportive than normal, or do you have any sense --
MR. MCCURRY: My correspondent on the spot, Mr. Barry Toiv, has reported to me there was a warm greeting and very good meeting. And I think he's providing further details to the traveling pool that's down there. But since I was not, I'll defer to his readout.
Q On Friday the President said that he established a standard that was simply to reduce or delay Saddam Hussein's capacity to build weapons of mass destruction. Isn't that a pretty low standard? Couldn't you drop one bomb and say that you've reduced or delayed?
MR. MCCURRY: It depends on where you drop it. But I think that we will have a variety of things that we will be looking at to satisfy the United States and others in the world community that we have met our objectives. And remember, these objectives do not only extend to the prospect of military action -- they are currently the purpose of the diplomatic efforts we have underway, since the President hasn't made any decision on the use of force.
And what we want to make absolutely sure of is that we have diminished his capacity to reconstitute the programs that he clearly has had, that he has clearly tried to conceal, that he has lied about, that he has used on past instances against his own people and others. And we have to make sure that he is not in a position to use what he has used before, and not in a position to further threaten neighbors or intimidate neighbors or try to gain some advantage through the programs that he clearly has pursued in the past.
Q About two or three years ago there was -- case happened and 5,000 people in Tokyo had gassed down in the subway. When the police get into the compound most of the weapons -- I mean, sarin gas, gas, all were gone. And it's still hard for us to believe that a surgical air strike can eliminate the whole danger. And if the United States is going to have more counterterrorism measures inside of America, inside of New York City, Los Angeles and Washington, is there any way that this can be --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, we have not suggested that you could eliminate wholly, entirely programs that he may have constituted in biological and chemical weapons through use of air power. That has not been a suggestion made by anyone that I'm aware of in our government. However, remember that we have done significant work, partly because of the tragedy that occurred in the Tokyo subways, on working on an international basis to combat terrorism, to discover ways in which we can coordinate the work of law enforcement officials, and finding ways that we can share expertise so that we understand better how we can both deter and prevent any threatened terrorist attacks.
We had a training exercise here in Washington, D.C. not too long ago, so that civilian defense officials could look at exactly how to respond when we have a situation that needs emergency attention. We do work all the time with other governments around the world and within the United States, cooperating at our various levels of government to assure that we have taken all measures that we can to attempt to prevent and deter any type of terrorism.
Q Mike, regarding the support, King Hussein this morning has said that he's opposing military action. The Chinese foreign minister today gave the strongest warnings against military action against Iraq. It seems like the only people who have really given the support are Britain, Australia, Canada. Will this not be viewed as something of an Anglo conspiracy --
MR. MCCURRY: That's not a fair characterization. There were statements today, based on Secretary Cohen's work in the region, by the government of Oman. The Kuwaitis have said things. We are confident that should we need to move to use of military force we will have the support we need to accomplish the mission assigned. And we have commitments in place that we think are satisfactory to be confident when we say we will be successful.
Q Mike, in the State of the Union address the President said the nation was determined to deny Saddam Hussein that capability. Now we're saying "diminish." How did the policy change?
MR. MCCURRY: It's not a change in policy. I think that we are addressing the threat that we see in that region and talking realistically about what we think we can achieve as we pursue our diplomacy, as we contemplate other measures that might be necessary.
Q So the statement in the State of the Union address was not realistic, you're saying?
MR. MCCURRY: It was both realistic and very clear and aimed at the person who needs to hear the message, Saddam Hussein.
Q You acknowledge that these strikes, if you took military action in Iraq, would not be of a surgical nature, that that could only go so far. You say the goal of military action in Iraq is to reinstitute the inspections and so forth. So that makes it sound like that you intend to bomb Iraq until Saddam says uncle or until he --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to speculate on how we would use force, if there's a need to resort to use of force. I think there have been others that are higher ranked than me in this government that have addressed that question and addressed it authoritatively.
Q Mike, are you saying that when you say we will have the support we need, meaning that Britain, Australia, Canada, Kuwait is the support we need, or there are people who are supporting us but just aren't saying so?
MR. MCCURRY: We have been doing extensive work in the region talking to our allies, talking to all those that I mentioned that have been supportive of the work that we have done in the last six years since the Desert Storm War. And I think the President is confident that we need to continue that work and continue to pursue these high level consultations that have been underway. But he's also convinced that we would be able to get the job done if we need to do that job.
Q Does the President have any private sessions when he goes to the Hill Thursday, or is that strictly a public event?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe that's a public event of a rally nature, but I'll let you know if there are any additional appointments.
Q He is meeting foreign policy people tonight?
MR. MCCURRY: That's the current plan, correct. We'll see what time he gets back and what the schedule is when he gets back.
Q Have you received a commitment from Spain to use the bases, and how useful --
MR. MCCURRY: I think it's better for individual governments to talk about the kinds of commitments and the kinds of levels of support that they wish to offer. And the government of Spain I believe has addressed some of that publicly already.
Q How useful would that be?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to comment about specific military plans, but we always appreciate the support of any of our allies, especially our NATO allies, as we contemplate additional measures that might be necessary to achieve our larger geostrategic purposes.
Q If U.S. forces needed to use the Saudi air bases during a military operation are we confident the Saudis would agree to that?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to go beyond what I've already said. We've had extensive consultations with them. The Secretary of Defense has been engaged, as has the President. And we're confident we can get the job done if we need to do that job.
Q Mike, the meeting tonight, is that supposed to include the President?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes, I think it is. I think that they have been meeting often here on the subject of Iraq, and from time to time briefing the President. And he will be engaged in coming days on and off with his senior policy advisors as they are here.
Q Mike, belatedly, it turns out Richard Mellon Scaife was at the White House for the White House endowment dinner. Should we conclude by the fact that he was invited to that dinner by the First Lady that she does not regard him as -- right wing conspiracy?
MR. MCCURRY: No, you should conclude that he has been supportive of efforts to restore the White House and was fully entitled to be there.
Q Did they talk about this at all?
MR. MCCURRY: He was perfectly well-behaved. (Laughter.)
Q Did he have any conversations with the First Lady?
MR. MCCURRY: I think if they did it was briefly as they shook hands or something, and she thanked him for his support of the White House restoration fund or the endowment fund.
Q -- tomorrow night this millennium event, is that something that people can get on line to participate in? How do --
MR. MCCURRY: Indeed.
Q How do you do that?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, you go to ww.whitehouse.gov -- I think. Right?
Q Barry couldn't do this yesterday.
MR. MCCURRY: It will be on the White House interactive web site, and you can actually both follow the lecture as it occurs and also interact and send questions in via Internet. There will be a variety of ways in which people will be watching.
Q You can send questions?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes. Yes, Mr. Bloom, go right ahead. (Laughter.) To Dr. Bailyn, to Professor Bailyn, if you're interested in questioning him.
Q Could you speak to the signing ceremony tomorrow for the transmittal of the expansion of NATO at the State Department?
MR. MCCURRY: The President intends to -- the documents necessary to formally place the treaty modifications before the Senate for its advice and consent will go to Capitol Hill tomorrow. The President will take the opportunity to meet with the foreign ministers of the three candidate members of NATO who have been in town. He looks forward to both meeting with them and then also lending, obviously, his strong support to the efforts to make this historic expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which we believe will help secure both democracy and collective security in an undivided European continent, making it as safe as it's been for a long time in human history.
Q What's the President or the administration's sense -- ready, participating partners in NATO? How long is it going to take for these candidates to become full participating partners in your --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the three that we have now accepted for membership will be functioning as treaty partners immediately upon ratification of the treaty documents and the accession documents by the 16 current members of the Alliance. As to future members, we have not specified any specific timetable other than to say that we think the door has to remain open and we have to continue to evaluate the work that individual nations are doing as they participate in programs like Partnership for Peace, as they fulfill all the requirements that we would expect of any future member of the Alliance.
Q I was referring mainly to the time turnaround for readiness of military, their economies and everything in terms of bringing it up to everybody's standards.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, there is already a high degree of interoperability as a result of the work that they've been doing through joint training exercises, through some of the NATO P for P exercises that have been underway. But we've also seen simultaneously through the political discussions as well as the military discussions their interest in becoming part of the wider community of Europe, reflecting all the same things about civil institutions, Democrat institutions that we expect and see in other members of this very valued alliance.
Q Mike, for a long time the administration has been careful not to -- on tobacco -- not to deal more than principles, not specifics. By embracing the Conrad bill tomorrow do you think that that is politicizing the effort on tobacco and it would harm it in any way?
MR. MCCURRY: No, not at all, because we're now moving from the general principles which the President has articulated very clearly into specific legislation. Senator Conrad's bill happens to be the first of several that will come along, but to the degree that those bills reflect the principles the President has articulated, you can expect to see the administration work with and support those who are seeking comprehensive legislation that supports his objectives. Senator Conrad's bill won't be the last bill. We would hope to see a bipartisan effort emerge that would address the five principles the President has articulated. But, surely, Senator Conrad is to be commended for bringing this first specific piece of legislation forward, knowing that there will be other pieces of legislation that will appear.
Q Mike, if and when the President decides that the diplomatic options have run out vis-a-vis Iraq, would he feel the need to address the American people about this, or does he feel that he's said enough at this juncture already?
MR. MCCURRY: He will be addressing the situation with respect to Iraq, as he did today, in future occasions -- I won't speculate about which format, nor what time, nor what course events will take. The best thing would be for the President to be able at some point to tell the American people that we're fully satisfied that Saddam Hussein will now do what he is required to do by the international community so that there would be no need for the use of force. But failing to have any guarantee of that and, frankly, seeing some evidence to the contrary, we have to very carefully, prudently address other potential courses of action.
Q Mike, I'm just not up to speed. Are all of the inspectors out of Iraq, or are there still some inspections going on?
MR. MCCURRY: I think I just saw the day before yesterday, 12 inspections occurred. The problem has been access to the sensitive sites that have been identified by Chairman Butler of the U.N. Commission. Those sites that have not -- access to have been blocked by the government of Iraq or the ability of UNSCOM to visit them has been thwarted. And that's why what we have said there needs to be unconditional, unfettered access to all the sites that the U.N. Special Commission deems necessary to see in order to satisfy itself about weapons of mass destruction.
Q We would bomb while they're there?
Q Something related to David's question -- what's the thinking here about some big, final warning to Saddam when military action was fairly imminent, maybe a la a deadline or something?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not going to speculate on big final warnings. I'm going to tell you day by day what we are doing to address the problem and what we're doing to try and get the right outcome. What happens tomorrow and the days beyond in a large measure depends on what decision Saddam Hussein makes.
Q Were you able to find out information on the Snow bill -- Snow proposal on campaign finance reform, or no?
MR. MCCURRY: I did not, no. I got handed back to me our standard stuff on campaign finance reform, I think. No, nothing. You might want to check with Joe on those.
Q Mike, I want to go back to Scaife. You're leaving us with the impression the First Lady would invite to her home someone she regards as a part of the right-wing conspiracy simply because he paid enough money?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, she did, because he gave -- look, he gave money to the endowment fund that was set up under previous Presidents, I believe under -- you know, his contributions, as far as I know, came probably during the presidencies of President Reagan and President Bush. But the First Lady was gracious enough, working with the sponsors of this event, to say, look, those who have substantially contributed to this fund for restoration projects and renewal projects at the White House were entitled to be there. And she recognized that, regardless of what she thinks of the politics of the people there. I assume there were a lot of people in the room that she didn't agree with politically. But they agree on the fact that this House, which belongs to the American people, deserves to be beautiful and deserves to be restored to condition that reflects its historic importance to our country.
Q Mike, General Schwarzkopf the other day alluded to the possibility that maybe Saddam Hussein wants a U.S. attack in order to shore up support from an Arab world that would be upset about the attacks on Iraqi citizens. Has that been taken into your calculations, that maybe you're going to jump into a briarpatch?
MR. MCCURRY: There is a lot of very sophisticated analysis that goes into our management of this crisis, of course.
Q Mike, when the President uses the word "delay," regarding the reconstitution of Saddam Hussein's ability to develop and launch weapons of mass destruction, is he forecasting a repeat of this whole process at some point in the future?
MR. MCCURRY: No. We obviously want to substantially diminish his capacity to reconstitute any programs he's had underway. We can't guarantee 100 percent success when it comes to eliminating those programs. If there was ever any effort to reconstitute them he would get another taste of the same bad medicine.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 2:35 P.M. EST