THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY JOE LOCKHART The Briefing Room
1:40 P.M. EDT
MR. LOCKHART: A couple of personnel things before I get going and take your questions. The President had a brief meeting this morning with Mark Gearan, who is the Director of the Peace Corps, on the occasion of Mr. Gearan accepting a new position as the next President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Those of you who have been around for a while will know how important Mark's skills, wisdom, wit, and many other talents were to the early years in the White House, and the excellent direction that he's provided to the Peace Corps over the last few years. We're all sorry to see Mark go, but we know that he's landed in a great place. I expect the President sometime this afternoon to do a statement lauding the many achievements of Mr. Gearan, and we're all sad to see him go.
Q Piece of paper?
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, do a piece of paper, yes.
Q When's he leaving?
MR. LOCKHART: Doesn't say.
Q Is there a new director in mind?
MR. LOCKHART: Don't have anything on that yet.
Secondly, today is a very important day for someone sitting in this room. And I had to go back over history to find out that some of us have been doing this at less length than others, but there's someone sitting in the room who celebrates an anniversary today.
And it's likely that -- going back and looking at the Internet -- that on his first week on the job, in 1964, he probably covered big stories like the Rolling Stones' first tour of the U.S., Sandy Koufax's third no-hitter, and some other things. But we congratulate Mr. Bill Plante, who celebrates his 35th year at CBS today. (Applause.)
Q Yea, Bill!
MR. LOCKHART: I, of course, was preparing for preschool, but there we go. (Laughter.) Bill? Well, Helen's not here, so I've got to find a new foil. Congratulations.
Q The wine is ready now, Bill. (Laughter.)
Q You're right. Be nice to me, I'll share it. (Laughter.)
Q Joe, in the violence study the President announced today, will they be subpoenaing industry documents, as was done in the cigarette --
MR. LOCKHART: Well, the FTC has the power to obtain documents through something akin to a subpoena. It all depends on what they're looking for and whoever is the owners of those documents, what their level of cooperation is. But they certainly have the authority to get access to documents in a study like this.
Q Joe, page one of The New York Post reported a factory confirmation of a Department of Defense order for 9,000 new purple heart medals. At the same time The London Times reported the Clinton administration is deep in the throes of planning full-scale ground war in Yugoslavia with the headline: "Clinton To Order 90,000 Troops to Kosovo." And my question is, if there is no truth in what The Times reports, why have we ordered 9,000 new purple hearts?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't keep up on the procurement policies at the Pentagon. I'd suggest you call over there.
Q Well, don't you suspect that something is up? I mean, why would they order 9,000 new --
MR. LOCKHART: Not based on that information.
Q Can you give us a readout of the Medicare meeting this morning? Any recommendations?
MR. LOCKHART: The President went, as I've told some of you, off to vacation with a large, thick book full of different policy ideas. He wanted to get together today with his senior advisors from around the government on this issue. But this was not a decision meeting today. I suspect that some decisions will be made in the coming days based off the meeting and based off some of the further information the President's looking for, and I believe that we'll have an announcement of some new proposals either just before or just after the Europe trip.
Q Joe, does the President support a decision, a visit to Belgrade by the Finnish President, Martti Ahtisaari?
MR. LOCKHART: My understanding is that a decision has not been made on whether there will be a trip. But I think there could be some utility in that trip if nothing else but to reenforce the conditions that NATO has laid down for what we need to see for the conflict to end, and also to get some sort of assessment of whether the recent comments out of Belgrade represent some diplomatic moving in the right direction, or whether it's more smokescreen that we've seen over the last few weeks.
Q Is the assessment that Chernomyrdin brings out of Belgrade not good enough?
MR. LOCKHART: No, I think that he provides some information, but I think if President Ahtisaari chooses to make the trip that will provide some more context to what we already know and it will also be useful in the sense that he can reenforce what NATO has said.
Q The Yugoslav Foreign Minister, Zivadin Jovanovic, has written a letter to the German Foreign Minister saying that Yugoslavia accepts a United Nations presence, according to the G-8 principles -- accepts the G-8 principles -- including a "United Nations presence to be approved by the U.N. Security Council." Is that good enough?
MR. LOCKHART: No, I think we need to see -- there are certainly details -- first we need to get a better assessment about what actually their view is and what their position is. I think we've seen many statement in the past that have not been backed up by the facts. There are still many people waiting for this withdrawal that was announced three or four weeks ago. But I think there obviously are important details that would need to be discussed. So on the face of it, we're not sure what it means. We'll be doing our best to get information to determine what it means. But the NATO conditions are pretty straightforward.
Q Joe, what's the difference between the G-8 conditions and the NATO conditions?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think the G-8 conditions are not quite as specific on the post-implementation force. I think the NATO conditions have talked about NATO at its core, NATO led, unified command structure. I think the G-8 is less specific there.
Q Is that the only -- there's no substantive difference between the two?
MR. LOCKHART: I think as a whole it is more of general principles. I think NATO has been more specific -- in the Washington communique.
Q And the dilemma, of course, is if he accepts the G-8 conditions, then how much farther does he have to go in order to meet NATO demands?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think what NATO has laid down is very clear and straightforward and I think he knows what he needs to do.
Q That's clear, straightforward, but as you were just pointing out, the G-8 conditions are not quite so clear and straightforward. So how much gap is there between the two and how much farther would he have to go --
MR. LOCKHART: I think what's clear is he'd need to meet the conditions that NATO has laid out.
Q Joe, has the President written or spoken on the phone with either the Prime Minister of India or Pakistan over the conflict -- first since 1947 their independence -- and also, one of the spokesmen in Pakistan said if there is a war between India and Pakistan, they will use any kind of weapons, including nuclear.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think -- let's answer the first question. The President has not spoken to the political leaders of either country, although there have been a variety of diplomatic contacts from -- the Secretary of State, the Ambassador, Mr. Pickering, have talked with their counterparts. I think it's very important that the two sides continue the discussion that is started. I understand that maybe the Foreign Minister of Pakistan may visit, although a date hasn't been set for that. And this is something that is very -- it concerns the United States, and we hope that both sides will exercise restraint.
Q Joe, back to the Kosovo diplomacy. Is it appropriate for a European envoy to be going to Belgrade to meet with an indicted war criminal? Shouldn't he be going there to arrest this guy?
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, I think we've made our objectives very clear, what we want to bring this conflict to an end. We want the Serb forces out. We want the Kosovar Albanians back in, with security and autonomy. And that's what we're going to continue working for, and we will continue the air campaign.
Now, as far as those going in to make the case for accepting the NATO conditions, we think that that can be useful.
Q -- all he'll be doing there?
MR. LOCKHART: I think he may -- listen -- he was on television yesterday, talking about if he did undertake this mission, what his mission was. And he was very clear that this was not negotiating.
Q There were a lot of suggestions out of Europe, Sunday, Monday, that if he went, it would only be because they were on the verge of being able to do something -- that he wouldn't go unless there were progress clearly to be made.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think he'll make a judgment when the best time for him to go is. And he has said that. But he's also made clear that this is not a negotiating mission.
Q Joe, as a practical matter, you're saying that Milosevic's indictment doesn't have any effect one way or the other on how NATO or Europe carries out its diplomacy?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, I think his indictment speaks volumes about what he's done and why we've undertaken this conflict, at the risk of American lives, lives within the alliance. But we have clear and straightforward military objectives, and those are objectives we believe we can reach through this air campaign, and we're willing to reach, if we can get the Serb compliance with what NATO's laid out.
Q Just to drill home this point, I mean, you're not going to let the fact that he's an indicted war criminal at all affect how you conduct diplomacy with him?
MR. LOCKHART: We are going to -- let me put it this way -- this is not a negotiation. If he can find a way through talking to whether it's Mr. Chernomyrdin or Mr. Ahtissari to accept what NATO has set forward, that will mean we've met our military objectives.
Q Joe, how do you feel about Senator Specter's idea that Milosevic's surrender should be made part of the NATO demands?
MR. LOCKHART: Our military objectives are clear, and we are moving towards meeting them. I think what goes on with Milosevic and the War Crimes Tribunal is a serious matter. But what we're moving toward right now is reaching our military objectives.
Q And we haven't changed our objective that Kosovo could still remain part, at least technically, of Serbia, even though the President of Serbia is an indicted war criminal?
MR. LOCKHART: That is correct.
Q Back to the youth violence. On May 10 when Jack Valenti was here at the Youth Violence Summit, he was pretty adamant afterward saying that the main answer here is parental responsibility for what their children see. Will this study herald a relationship of antagonism between the administration and Hollywood, or it be cooperative?
MR. LOCKHART: No, our hope is that it be cooperative. There should be no antagonism. But I think the one message that the President has repeated over and over again is there's no simple answer to this. There's no one side pointing a finger at another. We have to look at what we can do to restrict guns to our kids. We have to look at the influences of the culture, what they see, whether it's a video game or what they see in movie advertisements. This is a complicated problem that involves bringing all people together and looking at everybody's responsibility.
Q I'm not clear on the specifics of the investigation itself, your answer before about the subpoena powers of those who had conducted it. Does the administration want to gain access to internal industry correspondence in the way that it did with the tobacco industry?
MR. LOCKHART: I think the FTC's in the best position to answer that, and Justice, but they'll want to understand the marketing practices of entertainment companies. And they will use whatever resources they need to, to get the kind of understanding they need to report back.
Q Joe, why 18 months? Why does it take so long?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know that it'll take 18 months. It could take a year. It could take somewhat less than a year. But this is a serious study. And I think if you look at some -- there's an ongoing study, now, of children and alcohol. There was a long study of the effects of marketing and tobacco. These aren't the kinds of things you can put together in a couple weeks or a couple months.
Q Well, wait a second, that's the Republican argument. They're saying that the reason they don't want to pass legislation next week on this issue is because it needs to go through committee and they need to study it. And the Democrats are saying, no, we need to do it right away. So how is that consistent with saying, well --
MR. LOCKHART: Because you're comparing apples and oranges here. There's nothing that stops us right now from taking a position, and standing up and taking -- expressing that position on where you are on sensible gun control legislation. This is -- these are, as I think I just said, there are many different factors and layers to what goes into trying to find a solution to this problem.
Q Joe, once you have the study done, what happens to it?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, it depends. I can't prejudge what the study. It will clearly -- could provide useful information to parents. It could provide useful information to the entertainment industry, as far as whether their self-regulatory system is working, or it could provide information that the government could move forward with on a regulatory or legislative matter.
Q Joe, the Chinese ambassador continues to deny there's been espionage. He claims there's an anti-Chinese environment. By the way, normal trade relations legislation will be coming up soon. Is the White House pushing for passage?
MR. LOCKHART: I think we have a deadline coming up, and as that approaches up, we'll probably have more to say.
Q Joe, on the South African elections, what thoughts does the White House have on the change in leadership in South Africa?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, obviously there will be a change, and I think, without getting in to the domestic political situation, and the candidates, I think this really is a time to mark the both heroic and historic contribution that Nelson Mandela has made to democracy in South Africa and in Africa as a whole, and in ending the regime of apartheid that South Africa became known for late in this century.
I mean, there was a -- in the '80s and the early '90s, there really was a historic struggle for the future of South Africa. And Nelson Mandela represents South Africa coming out on the right side of history.
Q Does the President plan to go to the inauguration if --
MR. LOCKHART: I don't have any travel plans to announce.
Q Back to the study, Joe? The President himself cited that there are some 300-odd studies already done, over the past quarter of a century. What more needs to be done, when he holds up empirical evidence during the event, that this sort of marketing is happening? Especially when you look at the tobacco strategy, and what it may not have done what you wanted them to?
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, I think there are certainly -- the President held up empirical evidence. There's anecdotal evidence that there are things that shouldn't be marketed to kids. But I think it's important -- and I think there's a bipartisan agreement among members of Congress -- that we take a systematic and comprehensive look at this, to see if we are doing enough, or to see if there are things we can do differently, to make sure our kids are not exposed to this kind of stuff.
Q To get back to what you just said, I mean, I've just got to ask a -- you know, the argument for moving quickly on this legislation is that there's a sense of urgency about this issue.
MR. LOCKHART: Right.
Q How is a sense of urgency consistent with an 18-month -- and probably longer, the way things often go -- study?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, you know, you've chosen 18 months. I've told you that this could be done in less than a year. But it's important to get something right, and to do a systematic study that has access to all the information they'll need to do, and that doesn't mean we stop. That doesn't mean we hold up everything we do until we get the result of this study. We don't. We had hoped that Congress would move last week on some sensible gun control measures. They didn't but we expect them to take it up when they come back. We'll continue moving forward on a number of fronts. This is an important one, but it's certainly not the only one.
Q A follow-up, please, on something else. The White House has to make a decision by the 4th on lamb imports. Do you have any inside into that, what the White House is --
MR. LOCKHART: No, I'll check into it, though, for you.
Q Joe, The New Zealand Star Times has just -- (laughter) --
Q No way.
Q The New Zealand Star Times quoted General Schwarzkopf as saying in Auckland that the NATO bombing mistakes, as he termed them, in Yugoslavia, are, in his word, inexcusable and the bombings are a mistake. Does the General deserve a response from the White House? And I have a follow-up.
MR. LOCKHART: Well, if he's quoted accurately, I would respectfully disagree. I think we have gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid collateral civilian damage or casualties in this. I think if you look back over history, you'll find that this is perhaps the most precise campaign of its kind in history and we do believe that this is the right choice and that we will meet our military objectives.
Q One other general has been widely quoted, a Lieutenant General Tom Griffin, who is an Army Vietnam combat veteran, asked this: He says, now, let's see here if I understand all this correctly. President Clinton has ordered our forces to engage an entrenched politically-motivated enemy, backed by the Russians on their home ground, in a foreign civil war, in difficult terrain with limited military objectives, bombing restrictions, boundary and operational restrictions, queasy allies far across the ocean --
MR. LOCKHART: Do you have a question?
Q -- with uncertain goals, without prior consultations with Congress. His question -- his question is, so just what was it that he was opposed to in Vietnam?
Q Could you repeat the question? (Laughter.)
MR. LOCKHART: Yes. I'll put that right next to the lamb export question.
Q On violence in the schools, why weren't Internet companies included, and why weren't gun companies included in his request?
MR. LOCKHART: I think what we're looking at here is marketing. I'm not certain, I'll look into the Internet, but I think guns -- I actually saw something about that earlier today. Let me come back to you on that, because on the gun thing I know there was something, but I don't know that I could put my fingers on it now.
Q How concerned are you about the computer hackers and the attacks on government web sites?
MR. LOCKHART: I think, obviously, computer security, cyber security is something the government takes very seriously. I know that there have been a series of attempts, some with some success, some without success. Again, we take it very seriously. We are constantly reviewing and will continue to review the security measures we have, and most importantly, for those who do this for whatever kind of sport it provides them, they will be found and they will be prosecuted.
Q The FBI is just searching houses in Texas and seems to be engaged in a full-scale crackdown which seems to have further incensed the computer hackers. Is this the beginning of a much tougher crackdown on hackers?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know. I'll leave the FBI to talk about the investigation, but it's important -- this is a crime and crimes are punished.
Q Joe, what is the holdup as far as the race book the President has, and did he take that on vacation working on that?
MR. LOCKHART: You know, I think he did have some material on that during the vacation. I don't have a schedule of publication for that. Let me check to see if we have a date for that yet.
Q Do you know where it stands? Is it like the second edited copy, or is it --
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know, but I know he had some material with him on this. I don't know whether it was part of the whole -- I didn't really talk to him about it, but I know that sometime in the near future, we'll be talking some more about that.
Q Did the President and the First Lady have a chance to come to some conclusion on her political ambitions?
MR. LOCKHART: They had a chance to discuss it, and I think the President talked to those of you who were on Air Force One on the way back from Florida, but I don't have anything more to add than what he said.
Q What did he say on Air Force One?
Q The pool report.
MR. LOCKHART: The pool report.
Q We want to hear officially for the listeners --
MR. LOCKHART: I think, coming from the President of the United States is about as official as you get.
Q Joe, what is the President going to say tomorrow at the Air Force Academy?
MR. LOCKHART: I think he'll talk in general about U.S. interests in Kosovo, why we're engaged in the conflict there, both from the position of U.S. interest and what's at stake for the United States and NATO, and also being on the right side of history here, and not allowing Milosevic to get away with what he's done. I think he'll talk in particular about some of the planning that's going on for the KFOR operation and the post-implementation force.
Q What was the President's reaction to the big movement in California for Hillary for president? (Laughter.)
MR. LOCKHART: Check the pool report. I think he said, whatever she wants to do, he supports.
Q Oh, he's going to support her if she runs for President? How about the Vice President? Is he abandoning him, or what?
MR. LOCKHART: Listen closely to what I said. I was a very nuanced comment.
Q Good. Just check the pool report, which gets you off the hook.
MR. LOCKHART: Yes, exactly.
Q Where do we stand on KFOR? I mean, NATO has authorized the beginning --
MR. LOCKHART: There was a meeting in NATO today called a force generation conference where, basically, after they've had authority from the North Atlantic Council to put together a force, they go to the NATO countries and to some of the partner countries to start generating the force. That meeting went on today; I haven't gotten a report out of that today. But I think there is a process here that takes some time, but in the near future the makeup of that force will become clear.
Q Is the President going to be talking about what we're going to contribute to that force, what we're willing to contribute?
MR. LOCKHART: That is certainly a possibility for tomorrow.
Q And related to that, this morning you were, I thought, a little less than unequivocal that U.S. troops had to be part of any NATO --
MR. LOCKHART: I didn't mean to be and that was my loose language. I think that clearly the force needs to be NATO-led, command and control, and needs to be effective. And as we've said all along, it's really hard to envision a force being effective without some U.S. involvement, particular with the Kosovar Albanians, who I think tie many of their -- U.S. participation would allay some of their security concerns.
Q That's the same thing you gave this morning. Do U.S. troops have to be part of that force?
MR. LOCKHART: I cannot envision a circumstance where they would not be.
Q The numbers that we've seen widely reported, 50,000 troops, 7,000 of whom would be U.S. -- are those accurate?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not going to get into the numbers.
Q Are they inaccurate?
MR. LOCKHART: I'm not going to get into them. As I said, the force generation conference was held today. I expect that we'll talk in the near future in more detail about what our contribution will be, but I'm not going to do that today.
Q Is he going to get into numbers tomorrow?
MR. LOCKHART: He might.
Q Joe, does the President go along with the move on Capitol Hill to include alcohol in anti-drug ads that the government puts on?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't know the answer to that question. Let me -- we'll take that one.
Q Joe, is the White House saying anything about the accident last night over at OEOB -- the wall, the gate?
MR. LOCKHART: No. I'd refer you to the Secret Service on that.
Q What happened?
Q Joe, could you elaborate a little --
MR. LOCKHART: Tell you afterwards.
Q -- you said before that the indictment of Milosevic doesn't change our belief that Kosovo should remain part of Yugoslavia, meaning that we would support a peace deal that would allow the Kosovars to return home to the control of a war criminal. Can you explain the logic --
MR. LOCKHART: Listen, we have clear military objectives, and that's what we're looking for. We've also said, and spoken at great length, about how we don't see the former Yugoslavia entering a Europe for the 21st century without movements towards democracy, and movements toward democracy would mean Milosevic relinquishing power.
But you're asking about two different things here. And we are pursuing an air campaign in pursuit of military objectives that we believe we will reach.
Q But Joe, what I was trying to ask -- maybe I didn't phrase it well -- is, how can we possibly think the Kosovars would want to return home to a province controlled by a war criminal?
MR. LOCKHART: Well, because they would be returning home with autonomy, and with security.
Q Joe, you said you hoped the movie-marketing study would be cooperative, but why would it be cooperative if they're being lumped in the same category as, say, tobacco manufacturers? It seems to me there's almost a -- implicit in this is something that -- an assumption that they are doing something sleazy when they're marketing to children, right?
MR. LOCKHART: I don't think you should jump to that conclusion. I think there's certainly anecdotal information that there's marketing directed at kids that shouldn't be marketed toward kids. But I think responsible members of the entertainment industry should have nothing to fear cooperating with this study, and getting the facts out on the table.
Q Will the completion of the study be done completely independent of a political campaign? In other words, there will be no effort --
MR. LOCKHART: I think, as you know --
Q -- beyond November, since there are a lot of --
MR. LOCKHART: I think the FTC is an independent agency, and they'll complete their work as they see fit.
Q Thank you.
MR. LOCKHART: Thank you.
END 2:06 P.M. EDT