THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY JOE LOCKHART The Briefing Room
1:40 P.M. EDT
MR. LOCKHART: Let me take a couple of minutes at the top here to bring you up to date. I think as the President said this morning in reflecting some of his personal feelings about what the people of Littleton are going through, and also as far as from a federal government -- the support that we stand ready to offer, let me just go through a little bit of that.
As I said this morning, Secretary Riley has been in contact with the Jefferson County School Superintendent this morning to offer any assistance to the community, specifically the Secretary outlined our joint efforts, our interagency efforts between Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, to provide crisis counselors in particular and any other assistance that might be needed.
Additionally, Secretary Riley provided local officials with contact names and numbers for those officials seeking federal assistance throughout our government. They talked to a number of people nationwide who are expert on this, soliciting their help and have had a very good response.
Specifically, the Department of Education is working on offering the identifications of persons who can provide crisis counseling assistance and payment to get those persons to Colorado; identification of persons who have experienced similar tragedies to provide hands-on help in the days immediately following this incident. Again, we can offer some assistance in paying for those people to travel and some assistance while they're there.
Identifications of persons who can help the school district plan for long-term recovery efforts, which the Department of Education is currently working on in the cases of Springfield, Oregon. Again, DOE can offer some assistance and financial assistance on that front.
Finally, identification of security experts. Often, in such a shooting or in such an incident like this, a school district will want to do a thorough security review of school safety plans, policies, et cetera. Again, the Department of Education stands ready to offer help on that front.
As far as at the Department of Treasury, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms provided 13 ATF investigators on the scene, in addition to two canine handlers and two explosive experts. ATF was asked by the county sheriff to assist in clearing the scene of explosive devices, and that was done with the help of ATF. Seven destructive devices were found in the trunk of one of the suspect's vehicles, and 12 small devices were found outside the school. ATF's crime scene mapping system has also been requested by the county sheriff.
ATF will also be involved in tracing firearms, described as two sawed-off shotguns, one handgun and one carbine. In addition, ATF will help canvass explosive licenses in an effort to determine who purchased the explosives related to the incident. ATF will also send a peer support team, including two chaplains to provide services to victims, witnesses and investigators.
The Department of Justice, along with ATF, the FBI, agents are on the ground providing technical assistance to local law enforcement officials. They are not active in the investigation as it's considered a local effort at this point. Additionally, these agents may be able to provide assistance for added security to local hospitals as necessary.
FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the FEMA State Director is in touch with local officials to assess needs in dealing with the ongoing community relation initiatives. FEMA officials involved in the Jonesboro incident have been put in contact with the county sheriff in Littleton. These FEMA personnel will provide guidance and expertise as necessary to those in Littleton. Two FEMA public affairs officials will travel to Colorado to work with state and county officials.
And as far as the Department of Health and Human Services, the HHS Center for Mental Health Services has contacted the Colorado State Mental Health Director to offer assistance with crisis counseling, if requested. In addition, the Surgeon General and his office stands ready to provide assistance if necessary.
Q Why doesn't the President condemn these guns? I know his attitude and so forth. But shouldn't he say again what it is to have such a proliferation of firearms in this country?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think the President has spoken very clearly in the past and will continue to about what we've already done to reduce the pervasiveness of guns, particularly with children, and what we need to continue to do.
I think in this particular case there's a lot we don't know, and I think there's a premium on not jumping to conclusions and not drawing conclusions from the facts that we do know. But there are a number of initiatives that are currently being put forward by the administration -- that we will have an omnibus crime bill that will include some of the things that we've --
But for instance, the President has pushed for the Brady law extension. And let me emphasize that it's unclear that any of these would relate directly to the incident that we're going through now, but the Brady law extension would provide a three-day waiting period for handguns, which had lapsed last year.
The upcoming crime-related measures will eliminate the gun show exemption for the Brady law, which the President has talked about, a provision for a child to access -- holding adults criminally responsible for allowing easy access to guns, requiring gun dealers to provide a safety lock with every gun, a lifetime ban on possession for juveniles who commit violent crimes, and in our budget, there's more funds for ATF agents, more federal prosecutors and for more cities to do gun tracing.
Again, there may be further ideas we can look at as we move forward, and it's not completely clear based on the set of facts we have that any of this relates directly. But I think it's important that we continue to build on the initiatives that the President's talked about for the last six years.
Q Where are we at with a possible presidential visit to Littleton? And also, are the grief counselors that have been discussed, are they federal grief counselors? Where do they come from and --
MR. LOCKHART: As Denver is one of the regional federal cities where there are regional offices for the federal government, we have a number of assets in that city who are federal employees. And, in fact, the Department of Education, when we talked to them yesterday, remarked that some of the best people they have who specialize in crisis counseling are based in Denver.
Q These are federal grief counselors?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. Well, they certainly -- they are people who work in recruiting people who can come in and do crisis counseling who are government experts. These are not federal people who spend --
Q The federal government is going to coordinate -- they're not federal.
MR. LOCKHART: Correct, yes.
Q And what about a trip?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't have any information on any travel. I think the President is obviously deeply concerned and shocked by the incident, as he expressed to you both last night and today, and if we find an appropriate way to go and help in the process that's ongoing there in a way that's not intrusive to the vast efforts that will have to transpire over the next few days, we'll try to do that.
Q Joe, the shooting seemed to have a lot of overtones of racism, and that area had problems with racism before -- not the school, perhaps, but problems of racism before. You're talking about dispatching a lot of federal efforts and agencies to this area. You haven't said anything about the new race office here at the White House to go help and to --
MR. LOCKHART: I think, again, let me just emphasize that we need to be careful about drawing any conclusions based on the incomplete information we have. And what we have now is incomplete information. As the information becomes more complete, if there is a federal asset that can be brought to bear to help the situation, to help in the situation, to help in the rebuilding effort that will need to be done there, both on a personal level with the families, communities and the school, we will do that.
Q There are eyewitnesses saying that people were shot because either they were jocks or because they were black or --
MR. LOCKHART: Let me just say that we are certainly aware of those reports, of those eyewitnesses' accounts. And if there are federal resources that can be brought to bear here, that can be positively contributed, we will certainly do that. But I don't, based on an incomplete picture of what transpired here, don't want to draw too many conclusions at this point.
Q Last night the President spoke of the danger of this year becoming another kind of wave of crimes, as there was -- what can the President do, including a trip there, that would perhaps mitigate the possibility this would become a wave of additional school violence?
MR. LOCKHART: I think we've done, from the federal government's point of view, a lot on this effort, as far as trying to raise awareness about looking at the causes and looking at the availability of firearms for this kind of tragedy to happen.
But as the President said, we can never do enough. We always need to remain vigilant and talk to schools, talk to school administrators, talk to parents and have parents talk to their children. Again, we can't draw any conclusions at this point on the circumstances that led to this case. I think it would be counterproductive to try to understand, based on the limited information we have, as to why this has happened.
But I think the President is committed to continue the dialogue and the discussions we've had, and to continue to keep working hard at making sure that we're doing everything we can.
Q Would you discourage us from thinking that the President might be able to travel at anytime within the next 48 hours or before the NATO Summit?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think, as we always do, we'll provide you with the best information we can about his travel when those decisions have been made.
Q Joe, there is a lot of talk that television violence and particularly interactive games that are popular with young boys play a role in teen violence. Is the President looking at anything in that area?
MR. LOCKHART: I think, obviously, that's an area that has been discussed widely over the last few years and it's something that we're going to have to take a hard look at. Again, I can't -- I'm reluctant to draw any conclusions today based on the limited information we have, but it's a policy area that has gotten a lot of attention, both here in Washington and by experts around the country. I think if you go back and you look, there have been discussions in the past about this, and the First Lady has talked about this and the importance of reaching children and the importance of looking at the effect of things like interactive games and video games. And I think it's clearly something that deserves a look. But, again, I don't want to draw a straight line between that issue and the tragedy of yesterday, with the information we have.
Q Joe, to follow on that, the President spoke today about the need for parents to shield their children from violent images. Could you elaborate a little bit on what he might have been referring to today? Is it movies, is it videos, is it television shows? And, secondly, is that at all at odds with his close relationship that he has enjoyed with Hollywood?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think the President has spoken for those of you have followed him for the last five or six years about the importance of parents being involved with their children, talking to them, making sure that they know what they're watching, how they're reacting to it. That hasn't changed. And I don't see a connection between any relationship he has or may not have with someone in Hollywood.
He, I think, has spoken quite passionately on this subject. And it's, as he said here last night, it's something that we can never stop, we can never rest and say, okay, we've done enough here, because despite schools statistically and in relation to other places being a safe place, and despite all the work local communities have done, parents have done, the federal government has done to work on these problems, that there are limits and we should never be in the case where we think we've done enough -- because we can never do enough.
Q Joe, on that point, there are two different things you can do. One is to declare certain things illegal. Obviously, what they did yesterday was already illegal. The other thing that you seem to be talking about is a bully pulpit sort of function, to encourage people, the parents to talk to their kids, and school administrators to work with children who may be troubled and that sort of thing. To what extent does the White House look at this as a problem that requires legislation?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think you can look at part of this issue as something -- you know, the President has had strong views, strong legislative proposals, many of the provisions of which have been enacted and some that haven't, on juvenile justice and on assault weapons -- the assault weapons bans, the Brady Bill, which have had very positive results, I think, for our country. So this is a mix. There are legislative remedies we should never stop looking to see. We're doing everything we can.
But there is also, as you describe it, a bully pulpit function. I think the President has a unique role in bringing Americans together and in raising issues. And I think this is an issue that has consumed a significant amount of his time as far as trying to raise this issue. You will remember some months ago we had the White House Conference on School Safety where we brought experts from around the country together. And out of that, there were a number of efforts to provide communities with additional resources to address this, to provide them with an early warning system guide to address these issues. So I think it's a mixture of both things.
Q One thing you could say as you look back at all this is that you took action. On these other things, you've come up with ideas, people have talked about doing all of the things that you're now talking about doing, and still it doesn't prevent these things. Is there something that you see that you need do to that you haven't already done?
MR. LOCKHART: Again, I don't think we ever want to be in the position where we close ourselves off to ideas, to say we can't do more and we shouldn't do more. We have done -- I think the federal government has taken a lead role on this, working with state and local communities. There obviously are some limits, though, and I think we need to recognize that there's limits to what we need to do. But I think we shouldn't lose that it's hard to calculate or measure, with all the preventative work we've done, what we've prevented -- because we often can only focus on what we did not prevent or what we cannot prevent.
But I think what the President tried to communicate, both last night and today, is despite everything we've done, last night -- or yesterday -- tells us that we need to keep constantly looking at this and seeing if there is more we can do.
Q Well, Joe, all the communication that's gone back and forth between the administration and the local community, is there any sense, do you have an assessment of how well your previous efforts worked there? In other words, did Littleton get the handbook, did they use the handbook? Did they do any of the things that you have suggested --
MR. LOCKHART: I think the handbooks were distributed to schools throughout the nation.
Q Right, but I mean Littleton, specifically.
MR. LOCKHART: Right. We have not yet gotten into that level of conversation. I think there's some more immediate needs that the administrators there, the police force, have been dealing with. We will continue to deal with them on their most immediate needs and then there will be time, as we know more, to look at the issues that went into this, what led up to this. And it's an issue, at this point, that we don't know.
Q On a more general level, has there been any attempt since the White House conference and the handbooks have been distributed, to actually assess whether they've done more than just land on some principal's desk?
MR. LOCKHART: Let me leave it to -- I'm going to leave it to Secretary Riley to address that. I know he's been available and talking to people today. But I know from talking to them that this wasn't a situation where they just handed, you know, sent out a book and said, okay, you're on your own. There are ongoing efforts.
We have -- out of the conference, the President made several announcements. One is on hiring more, through the COPS program, hiring more school security officers. That has moved down the line. We are ready to make the grants on that. And also something like $380 million in grants for school districts, for comprehensive wide responses to school safety. The applications for that program have closed and the grants are ready to be made.
So we are moving forward with this. This isn't about -- this isn't a passive exercise. But, again, I can't, at this point -- and I'm not in a position to -- draw any conclusions based on the information we have.
Q Joe, this morning, the British Defense Minister said that troops will go in when the bombing has done its job. Is that a change in position on ground troops, and what exactly is on the table this weekend?
MR. LOCKHART: That is not a change, that's a reiteration of the policy. We say the job the bombs will do is result in one of two things: one is, Mr. Milosevic will change his calculation and come back with the view that the NATO demands are acceptable, or the balance of power on the ground will be changed significantly enough that he can impose his will in Kosovo. So that's just a reiteration --
Q -- that if the balance of power changes, that alone is sufficient for ground troops to go in there?
MR. LOCKHART: No. The balance of power will change, and he won't be able to impose his will against the will of the Kosovar Albanians. I'm not suggesting or going down, and I can't go down a hypothetical road of conditions down the road of whether or not ground troops will go in.
Q Before, this administration has said specifically that the only way that ground troops will go in is in a permissive environment --
MR. LOCKHART: And that is correct.
Q -- and you've defined a permissive environment --
MR. LOCKHART: And I don't have anything more to add on that.
Q There were also reports that NATO will discuss updating the assessment of deploying ground troops, which would be a step in that direction. Is NATO discussing --
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, I'm not sure that I would accept the premise of the argument. But let me say that we have said all along that we need to persist with this air campaign, that this is the option that we believe as we are highly confident will get us to our military objectives. And if we persist, we will prevail. We have also said that there was an assessment done late last year on ground troops in a non-permissive environment. That assessment can be updated based on changes on the ground as needed, and if the SACEUR, the military command and the Secretary General want to update that assessment, that's something we would support.
Q The reports were that NATO was going to actively discuss asking Wesley Clark to update.
MR. LOCKHART: Those are reports. I'd put that question to the Secretary General's office, but again, I have not heard anything definitively on whether they want that updated.
Q Does the United States want those plans updated?
MR. LOCKHART: If the military command, the SACEUR and the Secretary General believe that it's prudent to update the assessment based on the changing circumstances on the ground, we would support that.
Q You've made it clear that Clark is running this war at the direction of NATO, so he's not in a vacuum doing this. I'm saying, does the United States want Clark to update the plans for ground troops?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm saying that if NATO, as a consensus organization, and the Secretary General in conjunction with the military command and General Clark believe that it's prudent to do that, we would support that.
Q Joe, your answer is -- I mean, forgive me, but implies a naivete that's not there about how NATO works. We're running this operation. If we say, Clark, you need to update your plans for ground troops, he'll do it. Do we want that to happen?
MR. LOCKHART: We believe that if the military command believes that if this is the right way to go and that it would be prudent for them to update, that is certainly something we'd support.
Q Do you see a decision on that coming out of the summit this weekend?
MR. LOCKHART: I can't predict.
Q Joe, you're saying two different things. If the military command wants it updated, well, sure, we'll let them. But then you say if NATO comes to a consensus -- NATO meaning the political leadership of NATO -- comes to a consensus, then they'll order, they'll tell the military command to update. Those are two different things.
MR. LOCKHART: They are not two exclusionary things, though. NATO and the NATO political alliance works closely with the military. We work and we talk back and forth; as a consensus organization we will continue to.
Q It would require a vote of the NAC?
Q Because when Shelton testifies on the Hill, he says we've been given explicit orders from our political leadership not to pre-position or plan for ground troops and so we're conducting the operation as they've told us to do it. Then we hear from the podium here and even from the President, well, nobody in the military command has asked us for ground troops, so we aren't giving it to them. I mean, somebody is in charge here, right?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes.
Q I mean, so it's fair to say that the political leadership has not asked the military command to plan for ground troops.
MR. LOCKHART: It is fair to say that.
Q If the military leadership wanted to update the plan, would they have to go to the NAC?
MR. LOCKHART: If the military leadership wanted to update any assessment, they would go to the Secretary General, there would be a discussion, and they will make a decision based on those discussions.
Q And all the member countries would vote?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, they'd be consulted. I don't know that there's a voting mechanism.
Q The Security General could ask on his authority, but it's really --
MR. LOCKHART: Yes.
Q And the United States would approve such a request from the Secretary General?
MR. LOCKHART: Let me repeat again, we would have no objection to updating the assessment that was done in October, I believe, of putting ground troops in. Now, let's understand what that means. That's looking to see, that's updating an assessment. That's not changing policy, it's not committing ground troops, should they go forward with this. It's looking at whether the problems that were evident when they looked at this October have somehow -- how they've changed, how we would address them, whether the situation would be more difficult, less difficult. That's what an assessment's for.
Q Could you explain why that isn't done constantly as a matter of course? Why aren't the assessments updated constantly? If you're not talking about changing policy or actually using them, why aren't assessments constantly being brought up to date?
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, you're asking me now to go beyond what my knowledge of this -- so I'd suggest that that be put to the able spokesman at NATO.
Q Do you agree with the part of the previous question that said the United States is really running this and not NATO?
MR. LOCKHART: NATO, as we all know, is a consensus organization of 19 democracies that make decisions based on a consensus; that this organization is strongly united in going forward with an air campaign that all 19 nations are highly confident will achieve our military objectives.
Q Joe, can you comment on the Holbrooke nomination and the latest problems with that?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I don't have any independent information beyond what was in the news -- what has been in some newspaper reports. Let me say this. You all know how important the issue of Kosovo and Yugoslavia and the Balkans is. You should take some message of the diplomatic ability and faith that our national security team -- Secretary Albright, the President, Sandy Berger -- have in Mr. Holbrooke's ability that at crucial moments in this, in October and before the military campaign, we would entrust him to try to find a diplomatic solution.
This is a man of extraordinary diplomatic, intellectual ability. We are in a challenging time in our nation's history, as far as foreign policy challenges. The U.N. is an important post. I think we need to find a way to move this as quickly as we can and get Mr. Holbrooke into his position and confirmed at the U.N.
Q The U.S. has not paid dues --
MR. LOCKHART: That is a long-standing issue that we have worked very hard over the last few years to try to resolve, despite some differences in approach between those here at the White House and some on Capitol Hill.
Q You said we would not object to updating the assessment.
MR. LOCKHART: No, I didn't -- I said we would support, if the military -- if Solana and Clark believe that it would be prudent to update the assessment, we'd support that.
Q If that's where the impetus comes from -- you're saying the impetus for an updated assessment has to come from Clark to Solana? It can't come from defense ministers --
MR. LOCKHART: No. It can come from -- Solana represents the 19 NATO countries, and I'm just not going to get into doing the interior plumbing of NATO here, only to say that if they move forward with this, it's something we support.
Q Separate and apart from whether Clark wants to do it, do we -- does the United States want those plans updated?
MR. LOCKHART: I think NATO is in the best position to make that decision. But, you know, having said that, it's certainly a prudent thing to do to keep your assessments updated, based on the situation.
Q How's the air war going?
Q Texaco has halted shipments of gasoline to Yugoslavia, Joe. Are you presssuring other oil companies to halt shipments?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware that there's any -- that I know of that there is pressure on a particular oil company. We've discussed over the last few days a way of making sure that all of the important work that's being done by the NATO military campaign as far as stripping Milosevic of his ability to resupply isn't undone by oil, petroleum, lubricants coming in from the outside.
So, again, I'm not aware of particular issues as far as companies, but as we've said from here on several occasions, there is consensus within NATO that we do everything we can to cut off supplies of petroleum, oil, and lubricants.
Q Are any American companies involved in trading strategic materials with the Milosevic government?
MR. LOCKHART: Not that I'm aware of. But that's something that I'd have to look into. We have a U.N. embargo in place; we have talked a bit about the petroleum aspect of that, but I'm not aware of any.
Q Can you give us a little update on the air campaign, as you sometimes do? What's the latest?
MR. LOCKHART: I think that Mr. Shea and his Italian counterpart gave an update this morning. We continue to grind down, as the President said last week, the military machine of Milosevic and we will continue to do that until we prevail in this conflict.
Q Joe, are you concerned that if we asked for an updated assessment that it would appear that we we're moving towards ground troops? Is that why you're leaving this suddenly for Solana and Clark --
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not leaving anything suddenly. If you all want to do a seminar on how NATO works I'll be glad to bring someone in who can do that for you.
Q There are also reports that the UK supports updating this plan or supports moving towards ground troops. Will that be part of the discussion at the working dinner between the Prime Minister and the President tonight?
MR. LOCKHART: I think that there will be -- they'll discuss all aspects of this. I don't want to rule anything in or out, and I'll let you know.
Q May I ask two questions, please -- first, on NATO. I know it's a consensus organization as you say, but isn't the U.S. first among -- doesn't the U.S. have greater weight than the other countries?
MR. LOCKHART: I think the U.S. is obviously, given the contributions we make, a very important part of the Alliance, but I'm not going to get into weighing whose vote counts for what.
Q On the school shootings, what do you say to those countries that observe us from afar and say the U.S. is such a violent nation that it really has not business dictating to other countries?
MR. LOCKHART: I would say if anyone tried to compare the tragedy that unfolded yesterday with circumstances that we don't fully understand yet with the brutality of President Milosevic and what he's done to Kosovo, that would be the most insane idea I have heard in a long time. We have, from time to time, incidents here that are hard to explain that we need to work very hard to address. But the brutal expulsion of a million -- up to a million people, the killing, the pillaging, the raping -- that's something that no decent human being could ever explain.
Q But, Joe, didn't the President compare Milosevic's ethnic cleansing to that man who was dragged to death down in Texas, and also, too, that gay man who was beaten to death --
MR. LOCKHART: I think the President has clearly said that one of the things that bedevils us at the end of this century is people who define themselves by who they're not, and the ethnic hatreds that we see around the world. Again, I think trying to compare an isolated case in this country to what we see in Kosovo and what we see in other parts of the world just is beyond the pale.
Q Joe, if the NATO military commanders thought it was prudent to pre-position ground forces in case they were needed in the future, since it takes some time to get them into place, is that something that the United States would support?
MR. LOCKHART: If they thought that was the case and they made that point, it would be discussed within NATO. They have not, so I can't answer the question.
Q The United States, President Clinton has said that we'll make whatever resources are available or are needed by General Clark are available to him. Why are we still mulling over whether or not the aircraft carrier Enterprise ought to be dispatched to that region, and why are we still mulling over the 300 aircraft requests?
MR. LOCKHART: Let me leave that for the Pentagon to discuss, because I don't have any operational details on either of those two areas.
Q Joe, I hate to keep on coming back to the subject, but you just opened up this can of worms again. You said if NATO military commanders wanted to pre-position, we'd discuss it, but they haven't suggested that. But Shelton, when he was up on the Hill the other day, said we've been explicitly told not to pre-position by our political leaders. And we shouldn't -- you're suggesting that somehow if they would just come to you with a suggestion --
MR. LOCKHART: I am not suggesting that by any means, so I can't respond to the question.
Q Well, you just said if they wanted --
MR. LOCKHART: No, I said they certainly could find a way to put on the table any issue they want that would be part of a NATO discussion.
Q But Shelton said they've been told not to have it on the table.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I am not aware of that being said. I'd have to look at what he said explicitly, because I don't believe that that's the case.
Q You're expecting the --
MR. LOCKHART: I don't have any indication that that comes today. If it does, we'll let you know.
Q Does the President have any special things he wants to talk to Blair about?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think we have a very important summit coming up which will deal with a wide range of NATO issues important to the United States and the UK. I expect them to have a serious discussion about the situation in Yugoslavia and Kosovo, the ongoing military campaign there, as well as there are some other bilateral issues that may come up.
Q Has the administration received its briefing on the CIA review of the Chinese espionage investigation? And if that's the case, do you believe that you're backed up in your contention you did everything in a timely fashion?
MR. LOCKHART: I believe there are some who got a preliminary briefing this morning. I think the President will be briefed later this afternoon by his National Security Advisor, so I'm going to withhold any comment until that has happened. I do expect, though, once that briefing is done we'll find a way to say something -- whether it be a piece of paper or something. So that should come later today.
Q What about making the report public, Joe?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, the report is classified.
Q Is there not a process ongoing with the committee to --
MR. LOCKHART: There's a Cox committee report that is well along the way to being -- much of it being declassified so it can be made public. This is a different assessment, which is highly classified, and I don't believe will be declassified. But members of the appropriate committees on the Hill will be briefed on it.
Q If I could just wrap that up, what about the Cox committee report? Any idea when that might be made public?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't have an exact date. I know that they're well along in the process. The administration has worked very well with the Hill and I think agencies have. There were a few remaining issues that they're working through and when they're done it will be made public.
Q Is he having a foreign policy briefing this afternoon?
MR. LOCKHART: No.
Q A battalion of the 82nd Airborne was sent to Albania, but there was no announcement from the Pentagon that these troops were being dispatched, and I don't believe any announcement from here. Was there any reason?
MR. LOCKHART: Any announcement of deployment would come from the Pentagon, so I would refer you to the Pentagon with the question.
Q There was no announcement. Is there any reason --
MR. LOCKHART: I'd ask you to ask the question there about that.
Q Joe, has President Clinton talked to Kweisi Mfume recently about a potential run for mayor of Baltimore --
MR. LOCKHART: Not that I'm aware of.
Q Is the President, is he aware of the situation?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware of it, so if he is, he hasn't made me aware of it.
Q Okay. Well, Kweisi Mfume said yesterday that he is seriously considering running for mayor of Baltimore. What would this do for the administration, since it worked so well with --
MR. LOCKHART: Well, let me say this. I think Mr. Mfume did an excellent job in Congress, particularly in his leadership within the Congressional Black Caucus. He's done an excellent job at the NAACP. I'm not aware that he has any future plans. But whatever they are, I'm certain his past record will mean that he'll be very successful in whatever venture he goes for in the future. As far as speculating about political campaigns, I think I'll resist that temptation.
Q Joe, I think some of the confusion with this earlier stuff is that the military campaign is an air campaign, so issues related to ground troops -- whether it's pre-positioning them or updating plans for them -- is essentially a political decision. So why would the White House be saying that they might want offers on what is essentially a political issue from its military commanders?
MR. LOCKHART: The White House is not saying that. I'm just saying that we work, and NATO works, within the political context with Secretary General Solana, who also works with the Supreme Allied Commander. And as clearly as I can say, if NATO wants and sees that it's prudent to update any assessment that's been done, we would agree and we would say that it is prudent to do that and support that.
Q Why would it be prudent? Why would it be helpful at this point to update that assessment?
MR. LOCKHART: When you're in a military campaign things change on the ground; it's always good to know -- it's always good for your assessments to be up to date.
Q Joe, housekeeping. Are you planning to brief all weekend, and will you start briefing Friday over at the Reagan Building?
MR. LOCKHART: I think, as far as housekeeping goes, there's an excellent schedule that I'm reading now that will tell me what I'll be doing. Friday I think we'll be at the Amphitheater of the National Trade Center. I think, logistically, the way it will work is I'll be available with some of our senior national security people sometime Friday afternoon. I'll be over there on Friday and available most of the time to the pool for anything that may be changing or breaking.
I think the NATO operation will be doing their normal 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time briefing that you all have become accustomed to that has been going on from Brussels, but will take place here. And then there will be various briefings through the day.
I think we'll -- I need to remind you of a couple of things. One is that you do need your NATO credential to access the facilities there. Once you're in there, there will be a lot of helpful people to let you know where to go and where to stand and what to pay attention to -- which you'll probably ignore, but that's, so be it.
Secondly, on Friday and Saturday, the Northwest Gate closes at 6:30 p.m., because of all of the different arrivals and issues. So if you need to be in here, you need to be in here by 6:30 p.m. and you need to be able to stay here, rather than come and go as you normally do.
Q What about the Southwest Gate?
Q No, the Northwest. Which --
MR. LOCKHART: Northwest. The gate that you normally come into.
Q We can't leave after 6:30 p.m.?
MR. LOCKHART: No, you can leave. You can leave. You just can't get back in through the Northwest Gate.
Q Or Southwest?
Q But we can get in through Southwest, right?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, let me have someone look at it. My note here just says you can't get in through the Northwest Gate.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 2:20 P.M. EDT