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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 21, 1998
                             PRESS BRIEFING
                              MIKE MCCURRY     

The Briefing Room

1:54 P.M. EDT

Q What about everybody -- I wonder what everybody's doing over at the courthouse.

MR. MCCURRY: Hi, everyone. Welcome to our daily briefing here at the White House. I don't know what they're doing there.

Q Do you want to know?

Q Mike, Secretary Albright and Sandy Berger talked to victims -- families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing today and told them that they are discussing alternatives, evaluating alternatives for bringing the suspects to court. Is this a change in U.S. policy which was insisting that they be tried in a U.S. or Scottish court?

MR. MCCURRY: No. Our objective has been to bring the people responsible for this awful tragedy to justice. And we have been pursuing that diligently for 10 years. We believe that the perpetrators should be tried before a U.S. or Scottish court, and we have said so consistently. We've explored alternative ways of accomplishing that objective, but we haven't found any satisfactory way to do so yet. We gave a briefing to the families today.

Q There has been some movement in the consideration. Now you're considering having it be under U.S. or Scottish jurisdiction, but you're willing to consider holding it in a third country.

MR. MCCURRY: We have explored some alternatives, but we haven't found any satisfactory alternatives.

Q You haven't decided on The Hague to handle it?

MR. MCCURRY: We have not made any decision --

Q Are you open --

MR. MCCURRY: -- there are some logistical and practical problems with whatever way you go, and we are exploring ways that you can break through that, consistent with --

Q -- with the parents, are they? They're trying to get a green light, aren't they? Why are they calling the parents?

MR. MCCURRY: They called today because there was an article that appeared in Britain, in The Guardian, and they wanted to -- they've talked consistently to the families and briefed the families on a regular basis on the things underway, and some family members have expressed an interest in seeing movement forward in bringing those responsible for justice. Other family members oppose anything but the action that was allowed by the U.N. Security Council -- or that's referenced in a statement that is referenced in the U.N. Security Council. And then there are other family members that prefer even stronger action than that.

Q Did they tell the parents that the guy in the story was wrong?

MR. MCCURRY: They told the family members what I just told you, that there hasn't been any decisions made, that they are looking at some alternatives that would bring these perpetrators to justice. But they found both legal and practical barriers that make alternative courses of action difficult.

Q Would the administration go along with any kind of third-country trial for these two if it were against the wishes of the families?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, the wishes of the families -- there's not unanimity of viewpoints in the family members. Each of them have got different ways of looking at this, and for sometime there have been differing points of view on how we ought to proceed at this point. It's been 10 years since this awful tragedy, and we're interested in trying in bringing to justice those responsible.

Q Two questions. Number one, what you are saying, though, is that the U.S. administration is now amenable to trying these two individuals outside of the United States or outside of Scotland if it can be worked out?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not saying that. I'm saying that it's -- we're trying to find an alternative, and we haven't found one yet -- that's what I'm saying.

Q Okay, and second question. What about the perception that this is now negotiating with Qaddafi, that's he's saying, I won't release them --

MR. MCCURRY: Well, no one's talked to him about this.

Q No, but he's set a condition, and you're now looking, apparently, for a way to get around that condition.

MR. MCCURRY: We have set one goal, which is to bring to justice those responsible for this act, and we're determined to do so and we will get it done sooner or later.

Q What are the impediments to finding an alternative? What are the main issues here?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, you have to find a way that you can do it practically. And then you have to find a way that legally you can assure that whatever the result of the litigation or the trial, that it stands up.

Q Well, what's the signal to Libya? If you're not negotiating with Libya --

MR. MCCURRY: Libya is the same signal it's always had, which is they're not going to escape justice, the two that are responsible, and the government of Libya knows that.

Q Mike, can we stay in the same region and ask about Ireland, Northern Ireland?


Q When the President goes, will he try to put pressure on the IRA to hand over their weapons? And will he try to pressure the Unionists to join in the government with Sinn Fein?

MR. MCCURRY: The President is very anxious to facilitate those who are nurturing the peace process that has brought the Good Friday Agreement and the promise of a better future to the citizens of Northern Ireland. Certainly, he will be in contact with both governments in advance of the trip and he will use his time in both the North and in the Republic of Ireland to advance the peace process. It's too early at this point to indicate how he might do so.

Q Mike, is this going to be kind of a rerun of the triumphant visit of the President in '95, or is there something different, substantially different, about the style and substance of this trip?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, it will be a different trip because so much has occurred that the citizens of the Irelands, themselves, have decided. They've decided to embark on a hopeful path toward an end to the Troubles and to peace, and in this trip, the President can acknowledge the progress that has occurred and talk about the things the United States and the world can do to bring greater hope to the people of the Irelands.

Q Mike, the U.S. delegation is now in India and Pakistan talking about India's and Pakistan's nuclear tests. Are they carrying any message from the President? And also, what do you think or what do you expect from this meeting?

MR. MCCURRY: We expect that Deputy Secretary Talbott, who is with the delegation now in Islamabad, having concluded his meetings in India, will continue to press for the points that the foreign ministers agreed to sometime ago in their meeting in London, and then continue to press both governments to assure the world that they are not doing things that would exacerbate tensions and raise the possibility of conflict. And we've got a number of specific ideas of things both governments can do and we hope they will be well-received. But since those meetings are underway, I'm not going to comment on them until Deputy Secretary Talbott feels free to comment.

Q Mike, also, the two prime ministers are meeting next week in Colombo in Sri Lanka. Do you think the President has any special message for them?

MR. MCCURRY: I'll have to check and see. I'm not aware that we are -- we know of their bilateral meetings and I think they're aware of the encouragement the United States has made for amicable discussion of those issues.

Q Mike, is the President encouraged by the words out of Nigeria, and does he feel he can trust those words for the election early next year?

MR. MCCURRY: There were significant statements that were made by the head of state. We welcome these announcements. We're committed to working with the people of Nigeria to ensure that a rapid, transparent and inclusive transition to democratic rule takes place. We also welcome the government's commitment to increase its efforts to combat narcotics trafficking, crime and fraud. We look forward to working with the current government and with the successor government on those commitments.

Q Mike, the Senate Finance Committee has voted 8-2 to revive fast track. What's the White House position?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, that's probably more political mischief than commitment to free trade. But the President has some clear ideas on how we can advance the economic interests of the United States. And I think it's important to proceed on those trade initiatives that are real, that are moving forward, that are getting the serious attention in Congress -- specifically, with respect to the Caribbean and to Africa. And we hope they will move on that. If they get later in the session and they want to separate these issues and give the President that authority, obviously the President would receive it gladly.

Q How about if they don't separate it?

MR. MCCURRY: If they are linked together, then again I would suggest that that's political mischief-making and not international economic policy-making.

Q Is this a sensitive issue, linking those two together?


Q Would you elaborate on the political mischief?

Q Wait a minute. You want them both, you just don't want them together?

MR. MCCURRY: We want to seek them both and they're being put together by way of creating a political issue rather than creating economic policy.

Q You're just saying you don't want fast track before November because it makes Democrats uncomfortable?

MR. MCCURRY: I didn't say that -- (laughter) -- but you could easily surmise that, couldn't you? (Laughter.)

Q Two questions. First, there were lawyers in town representing the victims of the Italian ski accident and they want legislation to compensate the victims of that accident. They say that the NATO procedure will take 10 and 12 years. Does the White House support such legislation to compensate the --

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know that we have taken a position on that. I was aware that they might be having representatives here. I didn't realize that they were here already, but I would ask that you check further with our National Security Council press.

Q Second question. There's legislation going through the House now; it's called biomaterials legislation, and it would give immunities to suppliers of medical devices -- implanted medical devices. The White House is supporting this legislation. It was actually drafted by a guy -- currently a lobbyist for the White House. And it's supported by the Health Industry Manufacturer Association. Why are you supporting immunity legislation?

MR. MCCURRY: I have to look into it. I don't know anything about that. I'll check to see if there's anything to get.

MR. MCCURRY: Mike, there's an alarming report -- quote -- "The man in the Clinton administration who zinged the Republicans more effectively and relentlessly than even the President himself is leaving --

MR. MCCURRY: Who is that?

Q -- because he wants his successor to have at least two years on the job."

MR. MCCURRY: I don't have any announcement on Rahm's plans. (Laughter.)

Q Is there any truth to this report, and is Mr. Carville envious that the reportedly departing person has been more effective and relentless than he has?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know James Carville's thinking on that issue.

Q But are you leaving us?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't have any plans to --

Q You don't? The one follow-up -- Senator Hatch said there's no question that perjury is grounds for impeachment. And Mr. Stephanopoulos said, is he telling the truth; if he isn't, he can't survive. Are Hatch and Stephanopoulos both wrong in your view?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know why the issue would arise.

Q Mike, on something less grandiose, on to the underground railroad bill signing today. Is that part of the First Lady's Millennium Project? Is the President incorporating that for this Millennium Project?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, it's not directly, but it does relate to preserving the treasures of America. So I think in a broad, thematic way it relates. But it's specifically the result of the work of Senator Paul Simon, who got the provision enacted in 1990, and they're doing some work now to further the way in which they can mark and maintain an active memorial to that effort that brought emancipation to so many.

Q The IRS bill would change the name forever, I gather, from MFN to NTR?

MR. MCCURRY: NTR. Normal trade relations. You heard it here first. We tried to get that going long before Congress got into the act and passed a law. And now it's the law of the land.

Q Long before there was any reason to do so.

MR. MCCURRY: And now it's the law of the land. It is the law of the land.

Q Would you describe that as a euphemism?

MR. MCCURRY: I think it helps America -- in a very esoteric area of law for many Americans, it helps people understand what we're talking about. Most favored nation status, it sounds like you're giving a favor to somebody, and that's not what we're doing. We're extending normal trade relations.

Q This is a change? It's accepted?

MR. MCCURRY: That is the change. I didn't realize it was in the -- it is in the IRS bill? I knew it was enacted as a provision.

Q So it will help the debate, you think?

MR. MCCURRY: We think it will help Americans understand that we're talking about extending the normal trade relations we extend to every country on Earth, save six rogue nations.

Q Well, Mike, it's not the law of the land until he signs it.

Q Yes, when is he signing it?

MR. MCCURRY: We haven't received it yet.

Q Oh, you haven't gotten it? What about the Coverdell?

MR. MCCURRY: Coverdell, I expect that he will act on that soon.

Q Will that be part of the Friday Boys Nation event, or would he do that without --

MR. MCCURRY: I wouldn't rule out that he could do it sooner than that.

Q As soon as today?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think it's happening today.

Q There is legislation in the U.S. Senate for a waiver against India and Pakistan sanctions -- something to do with U.S. delegations visit to India and Pakistan. Is the White House supporting the legislation?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm sorry?

Q Waivers against sanctions against India and Pakistan.

MR. MCCURRY: It is not directly connected to the delegation that's visiting, although I am sure that the delegation headed by Deputy Secretary Talbott is going to explore the impact that the regional economies have had on Pakistan, in particular the effect of sanctions, and the condition of the Pakistani economy, which is quite dire, as you know. It's never been our intent to see that sanctions with respect to nuclear program activity cause a humanitarian catastrophe for the peoples of either India or Pakistan.

Q What do you expect --

MR. MCCURRY: We expected to see the kind of economic sanctions that go to specific entities that are involved in commerce and technology transfers with respect to nuclear materials, which is the purpose of the sanctions.

Q Does the White House and the President support the waivers?

MR. MCCURRY: We're going to have to explore that, but we don't want the unintended consequence to be humanitarian suffering, and we have to find some way to deal with that issue.

Q Mike, it recently came to light that the FBI has been exempted from the President's declassification order of three years ago. Does the President know about this? Is he disappointed? What's the situation?

MR. MCCURRY: The President -- I don't know whether he directly knew about it, but obviously the White House did know about it because of this domestic law enforcement role that the FBI plays because of its special responsibilities to protect the integrity of the investigative work and the privacy of American citizens. There were exemptions granted to aspects of the declassification order. The Attorney General requested that and did receive the waiver from the 1995 executive order's requirements for automatic declassification. That exemption does not mean that the records will not be eventually declassified and, in fact, the FBI is committed to undertaking a systematic review in order to declassify as many of them as possible. I am told you can get further on that at FBI.

Q So he doesn't think that this is a violation of the spirit of the --

MR. MCCURRY: He understands for law enforcement reasons, the exemption that was granted, but the principle is the same, which is that the government needs to move to grant greater accessibility and encourage greater understanding across a broad range of issues. You saw the Director of Central Intelligence address that same issue recently and talk about how they're trying to set some priorities there. We are going to have to keep at this, because the task is enormous.

Q Mike, what does the White House know about negotiations with Panama on the creation of an international center to combat drugs? Talks seem to be at an impasse.

MR. MCCURRY: That's correct. Talks have not been going well. The President's national security advisors have been exploring alternative arrangements so that we can find how best to continue the fight against narcotics-trafficking and encourage greater cooperation in the area. The idea of having a multinational counter-narcotics center in Panama had seemed to us to be a useful suggestion, but shifting positions presented by the Panamanian authorities has made it difficult to resolve that issue, so the President's advisors are beginning to look at alternatives.

Q Why? I mean, in terms of Panama -- we will have no relations with Panama, no ties after we leave?

MR. MCCURRY: No, no. This is an issue -- is how best to fight narcotics traffic. And there was some suggestions made about how we could involve the government of Panama in a locating of a multinational center there that would coordinate efforts. That's the issue that's been under --

Q And they won't do it?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not certain I understand exactly their objections. But I know that they are significant enough that it's prevented any kind of conclusion to the discussions.

Q Mike, can I go back to Libya for a moment? What's the rationale of the U.S. seeking alternative venues?

MR. MCCURRY: The rationale is that there has not been disposition granted either by the government of Libya or international courts which are now looking at the issue on a procedural basis that would allow a direct trial of the two suspects. And so we have to find a way that we can bring them to justice. The rationale is we've got two suspects, that they're currently in Libya in custody and we want to bring them to the justice that we believe they deserve.

Q And if I could follow up, do we have reason --

Q Before a U.S. court or a Scottish court?

MR. MCCURRY: Before a U.S. court or a Scottish court. And remember, the only discussions here are exploring alternatives in which a U.S. court or a Scottish court would provide the prevailing authority.

Q When you say disposition granted, you mean some kind of extradition to get these guys --

MR. MCCURRY: Correct.

Q Well, why do you think you've failed in international courts? I mean, you can see why Libya doesn't want to give them up, but why haven't you --

MR. MCCURRY: Because the sanctions that have been in place to compel behavior have not worked, clearly.

Q Do we have reason to believe that going to a third country, even it was a U.S. or Scottish court that maintained jurisdiction, would make a difference in terms of the extradition?

MR. MCCURRY: The government of Libya has indicated that in the past, or has said so. So if there was an alternative that could work, that could put that proposition to test, we'd see whether there was any -- whether that was a genuine sentiment expressed by the --

Q So you're caught between two things, what the government of Libya is willing to do in order to further this process; and the fact that you might go somewhere --

MR. MCCURRY: The pressure that had been brought on the government of Libya has not been sufficient to deliver the two suspects.

Q But you're not sure that you could go to The Hague, for instance, and get any kind of judgment that would actually stick?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, we're talking about going to The Hague. We're talking about developing some alternative that would allow these two suspects to be tried before a U.S. or a Scottish court.

Q By why not an international tribunal? What's your --

MR. MCCURRY: That's inconsistent with the edict of the United Nations among other things. But our insistence is that it be tried according to U.S. or U.K. law.

Q Mike, back on the declassification issue. Just because a document's declassified doesn't mean that it becomes public. Can you explain why declassifying a document implicates privacy interests?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not sure I understand the question. You could declassify and once it is declassified, it can be placed in public domain. The barrier that exists normally to making things publicly available has been declassification, particularly in the records we are talking about.

Q Well, there are all kinds of government documents that aren't classified that you can't get under privacy act --

MR. MCCURRY: Many of these exact records at the FBI are of that nature; they have not been classified for national security purposes, but they are considered law-enforcement sensitive. And that has to do wit the nature in which the Bureau and other law enforcement agencies maintain their records.

Q Is the President concerned about the case of Major General Hale and the Army's wrestling with this problem of adultery?

MR. MCCURRY: I believe that's being handled at the Pentagon, and they have briefed on it.

Q But the President, is he concerned or not?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't think anything has been reported to him on recommendations that the Secretary of Defense is considering.

Q Will he withdraw the Hormel nomination, or is he going to continue, seeing that it seems to have been bogged down?

MR. MCCURRY: He believes that Mr. Hormel would be an excellent ambassador to Luxembourg.

Q Mike, one more thing on Libya. The Hague or some sort of international tribunal is, to understand correctly from you, that that is not now an option?

MR. MCCURRY: Again, to emphasize the alternative that we are -- the only alternative that we have explored is one that would allow these suspects to be tried according to U.S. and Scottish law before a U.S. and Scottish court.

Q Well, MSNBC says right here on my pager that the U.S. and Britain reportedly have agreed to let two Libyans accused of the '98 bombing be tried at The Hague.

MR. MCCURRY: I think that's probably just reporting what The Guardian reported earlier.

COLONEL CROWLEY: The Hague is a -- you talk about a city, not an international tribunal.

Q Will it be a U.S. court in The Hague?

COLONEL CROWLEY: It will be a U.S. court or a Scottish court in a third-country.

Q Is there any precedent for that?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know. U.S. courts have sat on foreign soil before, I know. But I don't know whether there's any precedent in whether it's --

COLONEL CROWLEY: Yes, there are precedents.

MR. MCCURRY: We'd have to check and see.

Q But these suspects are still alive?

MR. MCCURRY: Yes. They're in Libya custody, correct?

Q Are you confirming this, that's there's an agreement between the U.S. and the U.K. on this?

MR. MCCURRY: Not unless one has been reached in the last 10 minutes that I haven't known about. But I don't believe that's correct.

Q Mike, earlier this year, both you and other White House officials have complained about illegal leaks of information -- grand jury information, from Ken Starr's office. Do you know what the status is of any efforts to get into those leaks, or is that something the White House has been pursuing?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know the status of those measures.

Q Has the White House been pursuing those allegations that you folks have made?

MR. MCCURRY: I'd have to check with Counsel and see if there is an answer that can be given.

Q Is it still the White House position that Ken Starr's office improperly leaked sensitive, secret grand jury information to the news media?

MR. MCCURRY: I've heard no change in the concern that's been expressed by the President's attorneys or in counsel on that question.

Q What about this hearing that occurred this morning involving a ruling, apparently, from Judge Johnson that Starr's --

MR. MCCURRY: I gather that the proceeding was under seal because I have not been given any information in response to my own questions about it.

Q You've been trying to find out what --

MR. MCCURRY: I tried to find out and I'm told it was under seal and there was no information that could be made available to me.

Q Mike, it's been six months now since the President promised to detail his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

MR. MCCURRY: There hasn't been any change in the President's thinking on that issue.

Q Is he any closer?

Q Mike, while we're in that area, on Sunday The New York Daily News --

MR. MCCURRY: I think you're in that area; I am not. (Laughter.)

Q -- on Sunday, The New York Daily News quoted a Clinton confidant as saying of Monica Lewinsky, "We'll tear her apart for changing her story if she does so." Is that an official White House position now or --

MR. MCCURRY: I've never heard such a thought expressed here at the White House by anyone in a responsible position.

Q Let me make sure I've got this right. The United States is willing to consider holding the trial of these two people, assuming that they can be gotten, in a third country as long as the trial is under the auspices of either U.K. or U.S. law?

MR. MCCURRY: That's the alternative that we are exploring, but we are finding that there are significant legal and logistical impediments to such an alternative.

Q So it doesn't look like a very likely alternative?

MR. MCCURRY: At the moment, it does not. But our interest, first and foremost, is in achieving justice, and we are going to continue to pursue that objective.

Q What are those impediments that you just mentioned?

MR. MCCURRY: There are a number of them and I'm not sure that I understand them fully enough that I can give you a list. But I know that they present --

Q Why don't you give us a broad outline?

MR. MCCURRY: Beyond the fact that they present problems in both how you accomplish the trial and how you would make sure that the verdict would stand any test. That's about all I have on it.

Q But, Mike, it's not because this kind of thing hasn't been done before successfully with a verdict --

MR. MCCURRY: I've already told you I don't know what the precedent is. I believe there may be a precedent, but I'd have to look into that.

Q But, in other words, the impediments you are talking about are unique to this case, not to the unusual nature of trying

MR. MCCURRY: I think it's both, but I haven't looked into it enough to have a complete answer to that.

Q Mike, a conservative Christian group has accused you of making anti-Christian statements when you weighed in on the issue of whether homosexuality can be cured?

MR. MCCURRY: I think those of you who were here for that, you all recall that I very carefully took pains not to object to what people believe as a matter of faith, and never would.

Q So you're denying that?

MR. MCCURRY: On Mexico, Mike, Davidow was sworn in today as U.S. Ambassador in Mexico. Do you have any comments on all the challenges that he's facing now -- he has to face now in order to improve the relationship --

MR. MCCURRY: This is a broad-based, complex relationship, but it's a very positive one. And it's one that both sides of the border worked strenuously to make a positive and productive one. You're correct that there are a number of challenges, but that's because we share so many challenges in common. And the appointment and confirmation of someone as skilled as a very senior career diplomat, Jeffrey Davidow, who will now take up residence in Mexico City, is a very welcome development for those who believe that the relations between our two countries should be close and useful and productive.

Q Is there anything you can tell us about tomorrow's event?

MR. MCCURRY: I haven't looked at that. Maybe these guys can help you out.

Q What do you think the prospects are of the Gingrich $1 trillion tax cut package, given that Lott this morning said he's opposed to doing anything like that before Social Security --

MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think that Senator Lott clearly gets the message that we need to assure that Social Security is on safe grounds and that is an issue that we're going to have to live with for a number of years. So it would be shortsighted, in the President's view, to take any pause in our efforts to encourage fiscal discipline and generate the kind of substantial, solid grounds for budget making that would allow us to address Social Security first before we look at tax relief.

Q Mike, Gingrich's argument is that the surplus is now so large that you can devote something like $670-odd billion to Social Security and still have room for a balanced budget and tax cuts. Is there any size that the surplus --

MR. MCCURRY: The President had a very good reminder to us just the other day, very useful: we haven't seen a surplus yet, we haven't even seen a balanced budget yet. So it wouldn't be --

Q But you guys operate on assumptions all the time.

MR. MCCURRY: That's correct. But it wouldn't be wrong to wait and see what black ink looks like instead of red ink before you decide to go off and start enacting tax cuts or further spending measures or whatever. The President's view is that we need to be very disciplined when it comes to budgeting and that we know we've got this unique opportunity now, because of the economic performance of the American people, because of the decisions that we've made with respect to budget policy, we've got this unique opportunity to solve a problem that otherwise is going to land on the heads of our children. And so let's be smart and let's make sure that we first take care to preserve and protect Social Security into the next century before we start enacting wildly directed, huge tax cuts.

Q So there is no size that the surplus could get to that would make you say there is room enough for large tax cuts.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, there may be room, but that's -- this is all down the road and it is a question of assumptions and predictions about the future. And the reality is, we need to experience a balanced budget, and we can do so this year. It looks like we might even experience something of a surplus this year. Let's take our time and let's make sure that we then make the correct decisions about Social Security and then see where we are. The President's laid out a real sensible time line for that, and it could get us to that point early next year.

Q Mike, can I ask one more on this Pan Am story? If we allow U.K. rules, there wouldn't be a death penalty. Would we accept that?

MR. MCCURRY: We have always said either under U.K. or U.S. law, and that's been our position and the position of the previous administration, too.

Q Lockerbie is an act of terrorism that hasn't been closed up yet. There is another case, the Dhahran bombing. What is the status of that investigation? Are you frustrated that it hasn't gone anywhere at this point?

MR. MCCURRY: The investigation is continuing, and there is not an opportunity that goes by where we don't raise this issue and impress upon the Saudi government the importance of working together to find those responsible.

Q Was that raised during the recent meeting?

MR. MCCURRY: While the Prince was here it was raised, yes.

Q Do you have any indications that other countries were involved? Or do you have any preliminary conclusions?

MR. MCCURRY: The investigation is underway and we don't do preliminary conclusions.

Q The President is so fond of countdowns and so forth. But if you look at his schedule, he's going to be out of town almost every weekend and sometimes for three and four days. What does he expect to really achieve before he starts his vacation -- I mean in terms of legislation?

MR. MCCURRY: He addressed that last week. He gave you a good road map of the priorities that he would like to see this Congress work on and enact. The list was considerable and it goes to the heart of the priorities that he's put forward since the State of the Union this year. And so far the Congress has missed the opportunity to move on that agenda.

Q The patients' bill of rights, would he go to the American people on television?

MR. MCCURRY: That's exactly what we've been doing. We did that three times last week and do it day after day; yes, we will.

Q What about a major address?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, I think he's been giving major addresses, but I think he'll continue to find ways to impress that priority and other priorities, too.

Q Going back to the death penalty and Lockerbie, is the death penalty one of those logistical hurdles that you were talking about earlier?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware that that is one of the issues that has been raised.

Q Does the White House have a position on the pension reform package that was unveiled today by Breaux and Grassley?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm sure we probably do, but it hasn't been transmitted to me. Can you see if you can get that?

Okay. Thank you.

END 2:26 P.M. EDT