THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY JOE LOCKHART
The Briefing Room
1:27 P.M. EDT
MR. LOCKHART: Everybody's here today.
Q We're all here.
MR. LOCKHART: It's a big one.
Q Loaded for bear.
MR. LOCKHART: Do you ever come unloaded? Do you ever get unloaded? (Laughter.) Do you ever get loaded? There we go. (Laughter.)
Q Yes, he comes loaded.
Q He comes unloaded all the time.
MR. LOCKHART: Okay, well, who's first? Wolf?
Q You have no announcements?
MR. LOCKHART: I have no announcements. Wolf.
Q The Cox report is going to make all sorts of serious allegations that the White House and the Clinton administration was lax in dealing with this security threat, once it surfaced. Does the White House acknowledge that there were problems in the way this was handled?
MR. LOCKHART: I think the White House acknowledges security problems at the laboratories that go back over a couple of decades. I think once this was brought to the attention of the White House, and then to the attention of the President, that the White House moved quickly. We moved quickly in quadrupling or more the budget of counterintelligence at the Department of Energy; in the President's directive, the PDD-61; in revamping the security, in early 1998, in February.
So this is a serious problem. It's gone back some time. But the White House has moved quickly to try to address it, and the Cox report, I think, from what we've seen of the recommendations from earlier this year, many of those we were already implementing, but there are many constructive ones in there that we're implementing now.
Q Is this a work in progress, Joe, or can you say today, to the American people, that America's nuclear secrets are safe?
MR. LOCKHART: I think -- we're under no illusions that one of the byproducts of being a technological leader in the world is that other people, other countries who don't have the technological prowess that we do, will try to acquire them by one way or another. It's an ongoing issue. It's ongoing, and we continue to look at the counterintelligence work, the security work that's done at the Department of Energy, as well as throughout the Government. We're going to continue to remain vigilant. I think there was an endemic problem at the labs, the Department of Energy labs, that goes back over two to three decades. This administration has addressed the problem and has worked very hard to tighten the security so that whatever way it happens, classified information doesn't flow out.
Q If I could just follow up on that. How would you characterize the security of America's nuclear secrets today?
MR. LOCKHART: I think we are in a much stronger position than we were when the -- when we took on this problem starting in 1996, but we need to remain vigilant. And we need to keep working hard at this.
Q Why would the President say on March 19th that no one had told him that they even suspected that there was ongoing espionage in his administration at the labs when, in fact, it would appear that he had been briefed on that?
MR. LOCKHART: No, I don't think he had been. I think he had been briefed about security problems at the labs and about classified information getting out of the labs. But if you --
Q Classified information getting out but not through espionage?
MR. LOCKHART: I think there are a variety of ways that could happen, but I think he was briefed overall. As far as a specific allegation, which is what I think he was referring to, of espionage at the labs during his term, we have subsequently found out of one investigation that came after the President's press conference. Beyond that, there was only some reporting from the mid-'90s about a possible compromise of nuclear weapons information, and the FBI wasn't able to identify a suspect, or where that might have come from.
Q The question he asked was not about a specific allegation, but it was a broad-brush question. And he certainly left the impression that his answer was also broad-brush: No one told me.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think -- no. The answer was, whether it was broad-brush or specific, about espionage at the labs during his term, and I think we know subsequently that there is one allegation now that's being investigated. But before that, there wasn't something that rose to the level of briefing the President.
Q So no -- if I may just finish, or rather, ask one more question. So no one, you're saying, had briefed the President? Because in his answer, he said that no one had even suggested that there might be, he didn't make a definitive finding one way or the other, but there are suspicions. No one briefed him?
MR. LOCKHART: He was -- again, I'll repeat it again. He was briefed about the security problems of the lab, but not about any particular, specific allegation of espionage, because at the time there was nothing that, in the judgment of those who were making that decision, rose to that level.
Q Was he briefed about the general possibility of espionage?
MR. LOCKHART: He was briefed about the security problem, which also included the possibility of espionage.
Q -- what he responded to?
Q Peter Lee* was convicted of espionage at Livermore during the President's term. Is the President not aware of that?
MR. LOCKHART: No. We're talking, here, about nuclear, the nuclear secrets --
Q Well, that's not what the President --
MR. LEAVY: I think that happened in the '80s, he was convicted in the '90s.
MR. LOCKHART: Yes.
Q No. Lee was 1997, he --
MR. LEAVY: Yes, but that's when he was convicted. The charge was from the '80s.
MR. LOCKHART: Yes.
Q If I may just finish that point. In those court documents, Peter Lee admitted under oath to the court that he stole technical information about U.S. submarine surveillance from the Livermore Laboratory and sent it to the Chinese in the year 1997.
MR. LOCKHART: Okay, well, let's not mix apples and oranges here.
MR. LEAVY: He was a private citizen. He wasn't working at the labs. TRW.
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. But also, what we were talking about -- these are, it's like apples, oranges and pineapples, because it's three different issues. You've got a question about nuclear espionage at the labs --
Q No, the question was not about nuclear espionage at the labs. I asked the question.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think if you go back, that's certainly what the President was talking about.
Q May I read the quote from the President? "You asked me another question, which is, can I tell you that there was no espionage at the labs since I have been President. I can tell you that no one has reported to me that they suspect such a thing has occurred." The President is talking about the laboratories in general and not nuclear secrets specifically. Lee was convicted of stealing information from the Livermore Lab, and admitted to doing so in 1997. Was the President unaware of the Lee case?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I don't know what the level of briefing was. I can certainly check on Lee. But my understanding, and in talking to the President about this subsequently, was that he was specifically referring to the stories that were out at the time about espionage of nuclear espionage.
Q Why couldn't the President have just answered that question that Scott just read by saying, I don't know, but believe me, I'm on the case and we're trying to find out and we'll get back to you? I mean, what's wrong with saying I don't know?
MR. LOCKHART: Because we certainly -- Sam, he answered the question in a straightforward way, and when that press conference was over he said, is there any allegation out there that I haven't been briefed on, and he was given a more fulsome briefing of different allegations. The one in particular here that I --
Q He came out of the press conference and asked someone, you or someone else, hey, did I know what I was talking about? And the answer was no? (Laughter.)
MR. LOCKHART: No. He came out and said if there are issues that he was not briefed on specifically -- and again, this comes down to a judgment. You have some reporting on a possible compromise where there are no -- where the FBI could find no suspects and they couldn't find out where information may have come from. It's a judgment call on whether that gets to the President and the President is briefed on something where there doesn't seem to be any leads or any avenue of where it might be going. They don't know what the what is or where it came from. And you know, people here make judgment calls all the time and the President trusts in the judgment of those making the decisions.
Q What's hard to figure out on this is that in mid-'97 Berger would have got his second briefing, he was so alarmed he went to the President with it. He and the President sat down and tasked all the agencies to come up with a sweeping review of security at the labs.
MR. LOCKHART: Right.
Q Are we to believe that was done without any reference to espionage at the labs and they just thought security needed to be upgraded for some other reason?
MR. LOCKHART: It was done knowing that there were security lapses at the labs without specific cases or information of particular espionage.
Q But wouldn't that be espionage in general?
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, there are a lot of ways that information can flow out in an unauthorized way. Espionage is certainly one of them. At that point, they didn't have particular information about specific cases of espionage. But they still understood there was a problem. And they moved quickly and aggressively to address the problem.
Q The New York Times reported that Berger was aware -- was briefed, I guess by Trulock about ongoing Chinese espionage at that time, in July 1997; is that true? And if it is, why didn't he convey that to the President?
MR. LOCKHART: He conveyed to the President in a broad overview the security problems at the labs. And without a specific, because if I could answer this question by providing you a specific case, I would; but there isn't one. And he gave him a broad outline. The President asked the National Security Advisor to go back and work on strengthening, in a comprehensive way, the security of the labs, and that's what he did.
Q Well, is that New York Times report true, that Berger at that time knew and had been briefed about ongoing Chinese espionage?
MR. LEAVY: During that briefing, that one instance that you reported came up, but --
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, it's -- the instance that I have mentioned here, which is based on reporting from the mid-'90s of a potential compromise in nuclear information -- which you can go on and read the story and know what it's about -- but the FBI could not find a suspect and could not find out where it came from.
Q Is the President unhappy that Berger did not tell him about the potential compromise?
MR. LOCKHART: I think with anything, especially when it becomes a story, hindsight is 20/20. We make judgments every day here, and the President trusts those who make the judgments.
Q But Joe, what about --
Q But the President was not told anything about espionage? I mean, when Berger went to him and said, we need a comprehensive review of security at the labs, espionage was not the threat?
MR. LOCKHART: The security problems at the lab -- again, I think what was laid out was, there are a number of ways that this could be done. We had to counteract and guard against all of them, espionage included. But when you ask, when the President was asked at the press conference, you know, is there a case, is there something you can point to, there was nothing that he could point to.
Q He was not asked that, though. He was asked about, he said, can I tell you there was no espionage at the labs, he said, no one has suggested to me or reported to me that they suspect such a thing.
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, I know what the question was, I know what the answer was. But when you ask -- if he said there is, you'd say, what? What case? There was only one case, and I've explained here -- that we know of -- I've explained here the reasons that he didn't know.
Q Joe, why was the Secretary of State never briefed about these allegations until 1999?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think the original briefings came over from the Department of Energy, and the Secretary of State should have been briefed. And I can't really explain why she wasn't.
Q Who's at fault for that?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know. The Department -- the Department of Energy is doing their own review. It could be that that's a subject that they're looking at, but I don't know the answer.
Q Joe, who's really responsible, who's to blame? And the House and some members of Congress are calling for the resignation of the Attorney General --
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, I think finger-pointing is a popular spectator sport and participative sport here in Washington. The bottom line on this is, this is a bipartisan problem that needs a bipartisan solution. It goes back over 20 years; it doesn't have a Democratic or a Republican name on it. And the solution needs to be bipartisan. We've worked very well with members on both sides of the aisles in the last few years, as far as building a stronger counterintelligence effort at the labs, and we'll continue to do so.
Q Joe, what is the President's current understanding of whether there was espionage at the labs during his administration?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, he's certainly been briefed on a case that was subsequent to the press conference, and that's a case that the FBI and the Justice Department are looking at, which I'm not able to comment on.
Q So the President's current understanding is that in fact there has been espionage at the lab?
MR. LOCKHART: The President's current understanding is that there's an allegation, and let me be clear here, because there's a difference between an allegation and something that's proven. Now, there is a lot of work going on to see if that allegation is something that can be proven, to see if there was espionage or wrongdoing, and that effort is ongoing.
Q Joe, has the President spoken with Attorney General Reno about this today, or does he plan to speak with her sometime before he goes on vacation?
MR. LOCKHART: No, I think the Attorney General, as she told you all, is doing an internal review within the department, to look at how this was handled, to see if there was anything that was problematic with how it was handled. And I think we'll look forward to the results of that review.
Q Joe, if I can follow up, with all the questions out there and demands for her resignation, he isn't planning to speak with her, to touch base with her and let her know that he is still confident in her ability?
MR. LOCKHART: We would burn up the phone line if, every time someone stood up on Capitol Hill and said, this person has to resign or that person has to resign, if we did that. You'll remember there have been a series of these calls.
Q But the series of calls largely have been on the Republican side of the aisle, and the bipartisan solution that Torricelli and Shelby are recommending is to fire Reno. That's their idea.
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know that speaks accurately to what Senator Torricelli said; I'll let him speak for himself. But let me speak for the President here, which is what I get paid for. He has confidence in the Attorney General, and will continue to have confidence in her.
Q Joe, is this stolen technology China has provided to Pakistan?
MR. LOCKHART: Pardon?
Q Is it stolen -- U.S. nuclear --
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know, but I can tell you as one of the benefits of the engagement policy with China is the curbing of the export of problematic technology to Pakistan and other countries around the world.
Q Joe, just to try to nail this down at the press conference. He, the President had been -- you talked about a specific allegation.
MR. LOCKHART: Yes.
Q But the President had been briefed both by Cox and by Berger about the general need for tightening security at the labs. Did the President or not, at the -- was in January --
MR. LEAVY: Then the Cox meeting was in April.
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. Q Was in April? Okay, I apologize, but by Berger. Was he aware,
at the press conference, of the general possibility that there might have been Chinese --
MR. LOCKHART: Listen --
Q -- general possibility that there might have been Chinese spying?
MR. LOCKHART: On the general possibility, the President -- listen, we, as he has said, we're under no illusions. We have technology that other countries around the world, including China, would like to acquire. One of the things to remember here is that we have very tight export controls on China, very tight -- as tight as they can be with not having an embargo. We don't export dual-use technology to China; we don't allow that to happen. So, we're certainly aware, we're under no illusions, including China, would seek, actively seek, to acquire the technology. But he was asked a question at the press conference, and it's important to remember about what we knew about what they had done. And he answered that question accurately.
Q He got a briefing -- he received a briefing on the Cox report in January or February. What was missing from that briefing that's in the Cox Report now? What more did he learn?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, that there are certainly specific issues as far as -- I mean, I think you'll see, and we'll all see the Cox Report in its entirety tomorrow, they raised some of these issues and speculate on what may -- or what it may mean or what it may not mean, but there is more in this than I think in the recommendations that came across.
Q What issues did they raise in the January or February briefing with the President? What specific issues did they discuss?
MR. LEAVY: No, it was a written summary.
MR. LOCKHART: It wasn't a briefing. It was a written summary of recommendations, which I think we provided to you shortly thereafter. The recommendations, most of which we have already complied with, or are in the process of.
Q Was that all he got at that time?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, right.
Q But that's all he got at that time?
MR. LOCKHART: He got a written summary that didn't go into specifics.
Q Did it say that espionage occurred during his term?
MR. LOCKHART: That is part of the security problem, that there was potential in the security labs, there was potential espionage.
Q And that was in April that he got that?
MR. LOCKHART: No, that was in January.
Q January. So, he did know that there were allegations of espionage during his term?
MR. LOCKHART: He certainly knew in the broadest sense that China, as well as other countries, sought to acquire technology. As far as any specific incidents, he didn't, because there was really, expect for the one case, only one thing to say.
Q That's always true.
Q Cox, himself, says he was briefed. Cox, himself, said the President was briefed.
MR. LOCKHART: Pardon?
Q They're always seeking to --
Q What you're saying has been true for 40 years. Did he have any heightened concern about Chinese spying in the nuclear labs?
MR. LOCKHART: He certainly, going back to 1997, because of the security problems at the lab -- this is one of the reasons we went through this process, because the security -- we had an endemic problem at the labs of lax security. And that is what PDD-61 sought to address.
Q Joe, what will this do in terms of trade relations with China? I mean, things have been tense with China on trade issues for several months now, and release of this report tomorrow is only going to heighten criticism of our policy with China. Do we have plans to go forward and reopen WTO negotiations?
MR. LOCKHART: The negotiations have never really lapsed. We've made a lot of progress in the last year. As you know, these have been ongoing for 13 years and it's very much in America's -- American families, workers, business in the interests, because as it stands now, China has access to the American market, while American business does not have equal access to the Chinese market. But we have had some informal conversations with our Chinese counterparts on this subject. They remain engaged in the process. We've not set specific dates to reconvene the talks, but we expect them to resume soon.
Q Are you planning on releasing a rebuttal?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes.
Q Joe, for the sake of clarity, if I could, please, help me understand. The President was briefed on Cox in January.
MR. LOCKHART: He got a written summary and recommendations in January which we then provided, what we could, to you.
Q And if I can just follow the line for a moment. The summary included information to the President about investigations of alleged espionage?
MR. LOCKHART: Nothing specific.
Q Nothing specific. But, yet, just over two months later the President says no one has reported to me that they even suspect that such a thing has occurred?
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, you can try to take the words and parse them, and I can just tell you my understanding of them. And you all have to make your own judgment. But the President, in that statement, was making the point that as far as specific cases, as far as do we have espionage which we can -- where we have some information, where the FBI's gone after it, where we can prove something -- there was nothing there. As far as -- hold on. As far as broadly, as far as our heightened awareness, as far as whether we believed that the Chinese were trying to acquire technology, I think he has stated in that time, and in others, that we are under no illusions.
Q He knew there were suspicions?
Q Joe, let me ask you -- the question that I asked at the time was, can you assure the American people that under your watch, no valuable nuclear secrets were lost? And clearly, you would acknowledge, I think, that he left the impression, clearly, that no, under his watch that didn't happen.
MR. LOCKHART: I think when you're looking at whether the espionage -- he can continue to make that case. Now, there is, subsequent to the press conference, there were some allegations raised that are currently being investigated. But I can't point -- and the Cox report will spend a lot of time, as I understand it, looking at espionage and looking at things -- and most of that, the vast majority of that, is in the 1980s.
But if you're looking at, during this Presidency, I can't point to a case where we know something was stolen, we know who did it, and we know where it went to, and we know where it came from. That's just, that's the bottom line, as disappointing as it may be.
Q Yes, but --
Q Really, he wasn't forthcoming in answering the question.
MR. LOCKHART: No, I think he was. I mean, I think he was.
Q He was aware of suspicions --
MR. LOCKHART: No, I think if you look at other answers he's given, and what he's talked about, we've always said we're under no illusions. The American public --
Q You said that to even suspect such a thing is --
MR. LOCKHART: The American public, I think, knows, because the President has said it, the Secretary of Energy has said it, others in the administration, that we are under no illusions. People do try to acquire technology that, for whatever reason, they can't produce indigenously. And that has gone on, as someone said here, you know, for 40 years, probably, probably longer.
Q Does the President --
Q Can you say --
Q Go ahead, Sam.
Q Well, I was going to, frankly, change the subject to time for Kosovo -- --
MR. LOCKHART: That would be fine.
Q -- 45, 50 minutes on that?
Q One follow up.
Q One more point on this. Are you saying the President knew of allegations, but that they had not yet been proved? Or that the President didn't even know of any allegations --
MR. LOCKHART: The President did not know of specific allegations. What he knew of was that there were -- two things. One is that we know that we're under no illusions that China and other countries try to acquire sensitive information from the United States. Two, security at the labs was not as strong as it could have been. So that's what he knew.
Q Are you planning a rebuttal to the Cox report?
MR. LOCKHART: No, I think if you look at what they sent over in January, we have embraced the vast majority of the recommendations. There were some things in there that we were already doing, but there are certainly ideas in there of how to shore up security that we have embraced and we're implementing. And I don't think it requires a rebuttal. I don't think this should be a political debate.
As I said before, this is a problem that goes back some time. It's bipartisan in nature as a problem because we've kind of flipped Congresses, we've flipped the White House, as far as parties go. And it needs a bipartisan solution, and that's what we've done. We've worked hard with Congress, we kept Congress informed throughout this process of what we knew about the security problem at the labs, and that's how we're going to solve it.
Q Joe, forgive me if you answered this question last week, but is the President prepared to pay reparations to China for the bombing of the embassy in Belgrade?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not aware that there's been any decision or any real discussion on that.
Q Joe, before we get away, before we change the subject, if I may --
Q Oh, go right ahead. I thought we had. Excuse me.
Q -- we're trying, but --
MR. LOCKHART: It was a good try.
Q All right, please. Scott, I defer to you always.
Q If I may -- did you get that down in the transcript, "I defer to you always"?
Q Joe, the White House received a complete copy of the Cox report in January, is that correct?
MR. LOCKHART: No. We received a written summary and some recommendations.
Q I -- that's all you received from the Cox panel, was a written summary?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, we received the classified version, and we've been working with the Hill and the relevant agencies on declassification.
Q So the White House received a complete classified version of the Cox report --
MR. LOCKHART: When did we get that? Not in January, but --
MR. LEAVY: I'm not sure when the classification process started, but we've been working with them at the agencies for a couple months.
Q So, but the President received something like an executive summary.
MR. LEAVY: Yes.
MR. LOCKHART: Yes.
Q All right. How was that prepared, and was it prepared from the full Cox text?
MR. LEAVY: It was written -- it did not include that one instance in the 1990s we talked about. It did not include that.
Q And it was written here in the White House? Somebody in the NSC staff condensed the Cox report into an executive summary for the President --
MR. LOCKHART: Yes.
Q -- and it dropped which bit?
MR. LEAVY: It didn't have -- the one piece that Joe is talking about, that one specific allegation --
MR. LOCKHART: The mid-'0s incident --
Q The Lee incident.
MR. LOCKHART: No. No, not the Lee incident. This is reporting on a potential compromise of some nuclear technology that, when it was looked at, the FBI could find neither a suspect, nor where the information may have come from. And that's all I can say because of classification reasons.
Q But the only allegation that directly pertained to his presidency was dropped from the summary that was provided to him? I'm just asking --
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, I'd have to go back and look at that. And I think -- because it wasn't -- and again, I think you have to -- whether it was or wasn't, and I'll have to establish that, you have to look at the context of this. You know, this was a -- as part of a review of what we can do about security at the labs. And this is, for better or worse, an allegation that, as I said, they couldn't find a suspect, nor where it may have come from. So --
Q Joe, if I may.
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, you may. You may.
Q -- you can change it back again. But let me ask about General Short. Does the President agree with his assessment that bombing will probably end this business within two months? And if the President agrees, how does that affect the President's view of a need for a ground force? Other than as a peacekeeping force.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, the President certainly agrees with General Short in the optimism that we can reach our objectives through the air campaign. Whether it'll be one month, two months, three months, that's something that I think that General Short is much better placed to make a judgment on. I think it has no bearing on the discussions that are ongoing as far as a peacekeeping force because, as I said on Friday, we have to be ready for success and we have to be ready with a peacekeeping force to go in and that will help secure the lives of now a million Kosovar Albanians who have been pushed out of the country.
Q But you would agree it certainly has a bearing on whether, in fact, the force might be used as a force in a war situation where a hostile environment exists?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, those are two different discussions and two different plans or assessments that are being done at NATO and what we're looking for now is making sure we're ready on a peacekeeping force that goes in in a permissive environment.
Q You said the other day, and am I correct that it's still the policy, that the President's statement originally -- that he has no intention of sending ground forces into a hostile, non-permissive environment is still the policy of this government?
MR. LOCKHART: That is still the policy of this government.
Q So if we're ready for success, are we equally ready for failure in the bombing campaign?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, we believe -- we believe, based on what we know, that the air campaign has had an effect, it continues to have an effect and we'll reach our military objectives.
Q Right, but I'm saying -- you say we want to be ready for success, we want to have those peacekeepers in place so we can go in --
MR. LOCKHART: That's right.
Q -- if we win the bombing war.
MR. LOCKHART: Right.
Q What if we don't?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think as the President clearly stated, there is no option that's been completely taken off the table, but we very much believe, I think as General Short articulated in the interview he did for this morning, that we will be successful.
Q What is the White House reaction to the report that Chinese intelligence notified -- told Beijing or concluded that the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was an intentional act meant to draw China into the conflict in the Balkans?
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, I have no way of judging the veracity of those reports or whether they are accurate or have reached anyone in China. I can only say that for whatever they are, however true they are or not, they are incorrect.
Q We've heard you more than once, Joe, we've heard you more than once deny that the bombing of Serbia is a war, but rather a conflict or an encounter. You remember telling us that, don't you Joe?
MR. LOCKHART: I do.
Q Now The New York Times op ed has an article headlined, "A Just and Necessary War."
MR. LOCKHART: Yes.
Q By William Jefferson Clinton.
MR. LOCKHART: Yes.
Q Did the said William Jefferson inform you in advance of this change in nomenclature?
MR. LOCKHART: No, we don't write the headlines. If at anytime you want to cede that to us we'll be glad to take it.
Q That's no longer operative, right? It is a war?
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, we don't write the headlines.
Q Joe, is Mr. Chernomyrdin said today that it's his understanding that the allies agree that Serb forces can either remain or return to Kosovo, some undetermined amount of Serb forces. Where is the United States on that? Does the President now agree that some Serbs may stay?
MR. LOCKHART: No, the United States believes that all Serb forces must leave.
Q Including police forces?
MR. LOCKHART: The United States believes that all Serb forces must leave. Somewhere down the road, there may be some discussions about protection of certain holy places, but as far as U.S. policy goes, the United States believes that all Serb forces must leave.
Q So, some may return?
MR. LOCKHART: No. Some may, some may not, but the policy here is that all the Serb forces must leave.
Q What does it do if they leave if they come back?
MR. LOCKHART: Pardon?
Q Is there any room for that to be negotiated?
MR. LOCKHART: All of them leaving, no. That's our policy.
Q And that includes police forces.
MR. LOCKHART: That does.
Q But if they come back, doesn't that threaten the Kosovars who may have been repatriated?
MR. LOCKHART: I'll tell you something, we're going to make sure that they all leave, and we're going to make sure that they don't threaten the Kosovars; that's what this is all about.
Q Is Strobe Talbott in fact going, and if so, what is he going to negotiate?
MR. LOCKHART: He will return to Moscow tonight. I think he felt that the conversations last week were constructive and useful enough to warrant his return. He continues to articulate what NATO's position, what the United State's Government position is. I think you have seen some progress on this in the Russians with the G-8 statement. We're going to continue to discuss this, both with Mr. Chernomyrdin, but also President Ahtisaari. And it remains our hope that there can be some diplomatic channel to Belgrade accepting the NATO conditions.
Q Chernomyrdin was talking about a breakthrough today, and you don't see that coming?
MR. LOCKHART: No breakthrough has been reported to me.
Q You were asked about Berger's specific decision not to brief the President on this matter; also apparently, reportedly Freeh knew about it and Pena knew about it -- and I would assume if Freeh knew about it, Reno also knew. Is the President satisfied as a general matter -- this was all in 1997 and the President came up in 1999 and said he knew of no particular instance of Chinese spying -- is he satisfied as a general matter that his aides kept him as well informed about this as he feels he needed to be?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. As I said, in a general manner, yes. I think you can always find something that because it becomes a story, or because it generates some interest, that you wish you knew about. But I think these are judgment questions and those who make those judgments the President has confidence in.
Q One of the things that's tough in putting all this together, Joe, is that obviously the President was determined to improve relations with China, to move much closer to China; you had in the midst of all this the allegations about campaign finance, foreign money all that sort of thing, and it seems like it would have been quite important for someone to mention that there was also information about ongoing Chinese espionage.
MR. LOCKHART: I think -- let me take another shot at explaining this. The President was certainly aware that China, other countries, would seek and were seeking to acquire sensitive information.
As far as this particular case -- and it's at the time the only one -- there frankly -- the judgment was made there wasn't enough there, because there wasn't a suspect, there wasn't really an investigation, they didn't know where it came from, and so that was a judgment.
Q Is that the only case that you know of during this administration of Chinese -- attempted or suspected Chinese espionage?
MR. LOCKHART: Only one that involves nuclear and the labs, with the exception of there obviously was some information that came to light after the press conference involving some computers.
Q I've been trying to get a question for a while, please.
Q Senator Mary Landrieu showed a videotape on the Hill today that shows Serbs allegedly digging up the bodies of ethnic Albanians and placing them near sites that NATO has bombed. Is the administration aware of either the videotape or that practice?
MR. LOCKHART: We're certainly aware of some reporting that that's been done, and I've spoken to some people in this room about that in the past. I haven't seen the particular tape she's talking about, so I can't comment on that. But I think it's a practice, if proven, that just says so much about Milosevic and his regime, that he would use the dead bodies of people to try to create a scene that didn't exist and create, somehow, the sense that NATO was doing something that was inhuman when, in fact, the practices that he follows are inhuman.
Q Has it been proven now to our satisfaction? Has it been proven? You're talking about --
MR. LOCKHART: I think we have evidence to the case. Again, I don't know about the specific videotape that the Senator has. I don't know that I can document it and prove it.
Q Why would we even want to deal with a man like that even through third parties who would do something like that?
MR. LOCKHART: I think our goal right now is to return the people of Kosovo to their homes or what's left of them, and resolve the humanitarian crisis, return them home with security and autonomy.
Q And leave him in office?
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, I think in the long run, for Serbia to enter or reenter Europe, it would be very difficult to see how they could integrate in Europe with President Milosevic. Right now, we are pursuing a policy that are articulated in our military objectives.
Q This lady back here has been waiting for --
Q Does the President believe his successor deserves a pay raise?
MR. LOCKHART: I haven't talked to him about that. My guess is that the President really doesn't have a strong opinion one way or the other. I'm certain that there's probably someone in OMB who will be solicited of opinion and will testify at some point, but I don't think the President has a view one way or the other.
Q This lady has been waiting for a half an hour, Joe.
MR. LOCKHART: Having Lester as an advocate doesn't help. (Laughter.)
Q To me, that suggests that whether the salary is $200,000 or $400,000 doesn't really make a big difference as far as this President is concerned.
MR. LOCKHART: You know, I don't think as the President reflects on his years in the White House that one of the things that's either going to stand out as a positive or a negative was his pay.
Q That's right. You've got that right. That is not what history will say of him --
Q I have a question about Janet Reno's health. I feel sorry for the lady. We've seen her here; she's obviously really suffering. Parkinson's Disease is a very serious disease which can affect you physically as well as mentally. Does the White House have any assessment at how she'll be able to perform and how much longer she'll be able to perform.
MR. LOCKHART: She's able to perform well, which is why the President has confidence in her.
Q -- a more full medical assessment of her --
MR. LOCKHART: I'd refer you to the Justice Department to ask that question.
Q The President has often appeared in front of television cameras with police officers standing right behind him; will he stand behind police all over the United States who are now asking Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington to cancel the transcribed commencement address on June the 11th by Mumia Abu-Jamal, a convicted cop killer in Pennsylvania's Death Row? And I have a follow-up.
MR. LOCKHART: I can't imagine that the President will become involved in that, and I don't know the details, so --
Q The reason I ask is his fellow Democrat, Washington's new governor, Gary Locke, has cancelled his first scheduled graduation address commencement because, quote, "I cannot in good conscience, and out of respect for law enforcement officers throughout our state and nation, participate in this year's commencement exercises. Question: how does the President stand on this? Surely he cares, doesn't he?
MR. LOCKHART: The President has great respect for law enforcement officers around the country, and great respect for Governor Locke. He just spent --
Q So he agrees with him, then? He agrees with him on Mumia or not, Joe?
MR. LOCKHART: Let me try again. The President has great respect for law enforcement officials across this country, and great respect for Governor Locke, who he just spent time with. And I'm sure he trusts his judgment.
Q Joe, what about the President --
Q -- adoption of its new defense guidelines?
MR. LOCKHART: Say again?
Q Japan's adoption into law of its new defense guidelines?
MR. LOCKHART: Do we have anything on that? We'll -- I'll have to check for you.
Q What do you have on the --
MR. LOCKHART: Hold on.
Q Has he heard yet from the Ethics panel --
MR. LOCKHART: No, I don't expect -- I actually don't expect -- the report isn't even written. And I don't think the work that goes into writing it is done, so it'll be some months before that report is done. I think there was a story based on an interview with someone from the panel. I think we're going to wait until the report's done to comment on it.
Q Joe, Congressman Frank Pallone from New Jersey is calling on the administration to lift all the international sanctions against India because he says, and he believes that U.S. economy and companies are hurting more than India, and threatens Indo-U.S. relations.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think we've obviously made some progress on that front, but there's more that needs to be done. And we are engaged in an open-ended dialogue with both India and Pakistan on the things, particularly in the area of non-proliferation, that we'd like to see done. And that conversation continues. But I'm not prepared to make any announcement about a change in our sanctions policy today.
Q Joe, can you tell me a little bit about --
Q Joe, what's the U.S. policy on the Apache helicopters over in --
MR. LOCKHART: Hasn't changed since last week.
Q Joe, did you get any more information about which family members are going with the President on his vacation?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes I did, and I gave you that information this morning. It is the President and the First Lady.
Q And they are guests of --
MR. LOCKHART: They are guests -- hold on, I've got this someplace here. They are guests of the foundation that runs the White Oak, and -- there it is, I'm sorry. It's something called the Gilman Foundation. Someone had asked this morning about the arrangements. The Foundation invites groups and individual guests to use its lodging and conference facilities, and does not charge for that lodging.
Q Can any of us go?
MR. LOCKHART: If you're invited by the Foundation. Now, the President will participate Sunday in a -- is it DLC or PPI? Well, the Democratic Leadership Council and the Progressive Policy Institute, which is their think tank, they'll be doing a conference -- PPI conference Sunday evening, that the President and the First Lady --
Q Coverage for that?
Q Where is that?
MR. LOCKHART: That'll be at the conference center.
Q At White Oak?
MR. LOCKHART: At White Oak, yes. I'll check on the coverage.
Q When will they come back, then?
MR. LOCKHART: Sunday night.
Q Joe, -- planned a vacation --
MR. LOCKHART: Hold on, let's stay with this.
Q This is with this.
MR. LOCKHART: Okay, good.
Q Are there any plans to vacation in that wonderful vacation land called New York?
MR. LOCKHART: I've got nothing --
Q There are certainly a wonderful number of great vacation spots.
MR. LOCKHART: I'm sure there are, as it is my home state, and I can recommend many, but --
Q Which one would you have --
MR. LOCKHART: -- I have enough trouble keeping up on this one. I'll deal with that one after this one's over.
Q Chelsea isn't going?
MR. LOCKHART: No.
Q Do you know whether -- is she going on another vacation, or --
MR. LOCKHART: Still in school. Don't know.
Q Joe, what can you say about this report in USA Today about Barak and Arafat reaching an agreement on Jerusalem?
MR. LOCKHART: You know, I think obviously there's a new government that's in the process of being formed in Israel, and the President has spoken to that. I would view this report as somewhat speculative, though. It's not something that I have any information on.
Q Joe, tomorrow the President's going to Texas with Gore. Could you talk to us about this empowerment zone issue that they're dealing with tomorrow?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, this is -- basically it's a chance to talk about the overall urban agenda, with empowerment zones being a big part of it. I mean, we have success stories from around the country of empowerment zones working in local communities, and the Vice President annually looks at different things we can do. And this year, the President will participate and focus on empowerment zones.
Q Yes, but what's the focus of the empowerment zone this year?
MR. LOCKHART: Sorry, what's this? Okay. Okay.
Q Joe, what's the specific focus for tomorrow?
MR. LOCKHART: The specific focus is just building on the success of the first six years, and looking at ways we can continue to bring economic opportunity into, particularly, urban areas in America.
Q A call to expand the zones?
MR. LOCKHART: We'll talk about that tomorrow.
Q Joe, there was a story in one of the news mags this week that said that the President had given his authorization to some kind of cyber -- to U.S. hackers to hack into Milosevic's accounts around the world, bank accounts?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not quite sure that it said that, but whatever it said, it's an intelligence matter that I can't comment on.
Q Joe, on the Florida vacation will the First Couple use that at all to discuss Mrs. Clinton's possible Senate bid?
MR. LOCKHART: You will have to ask the First Couple that. We'll work on it.
Q Joe, the President gave a whole commencement address over the weekend on the issues of the difficulties that parents face; he didn't mention his legislative proposal to make discrimination against parents illegal. Is there a reason why he didn't mention it? And when can we hope to learn more about that, this anti- discrimination?
MR. LOCKHART: Sometime in the near future and no, no reason.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 2:11 P.M. EDT