Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:25 P.M. EST
MR. FLEISCHER: Good afternoon. The President began his day with a phone call to Hungarian Prime Minister Medgyessy. The two had a very good conversation, Hungary being a very close friend and ally of the United States. The President expressed his sympathy to the people of Hungary for the flood that has hit Hungary. And he also thanked the Prime Minister for his leadership and support, and President Bush noted the Hungarian Parliament's vote on February 24th to authorize the transit of U.S. equipment through Hungary.
The President expressed his determination to work through the Security Council and with Security Council members, but noted that time is running out before action needs to be taken to disarm Saddam Hussein.
The President today also spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. The main focus of the conversation was Iraq and the draft resolution on Iraq, as presented by the United States, Britain and Spain. The President has consulted several times with Prime Minister Chretien on Iraq, although Canada, an important ally in the war on terrorism, is not a U.N. Security Council member. The two leaders pledged to stay in close contact and to consult as the process moves forward.
Then the President had an intelligence briefing, FBI briefing. The President this morning dropped by the Latino Coalition where he gave a speech about the domestic economy and urged the Senate to take action to confirm Miguel Estrada to the bench. He also met with the President of Azerbaijan, which was a very cordial and warm meeting, as well. He thanked the President of Azerbaijan for his strong support in the war on terror.
He had lunch with the Vice President. Let me go back on that -- he had lunch. I'm not certain if it was with the Vice President. I'll get back on that.
And then, later this evening, the President will make remarks at the American Enterprise Institute annual dinner. The focus of the President's remarks will be about Iraq and the situation there.
With that, I'm happy to take your questions. Ron.
Q: On the Canadian call, is there anything that the President finds acceptable in their compromise proposal at the U.N.?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the President has offered a resolution that he thinks is the way to go. And the President will continue to talk to leaders around the world to make the case for that resolution. And he is confident in the end that his position will be accepted and voted on.
Q: What's his feeling about the Canadian resolution?
MR. FLEISCHER: Why don't you describe it to me.
Q: I think you're very familiar with it.
MR. FLEISCHER: If there something specific you want to bring to my attention about it --
Q: One thing, it would push back -- push back the timetable.
MR. FLEISCHER: The President has not established a timetable. The President has said that time is running out, and he has said weeks, not months. And that's the timetable the President has established.
Q: It would establish a deadline, as well.
MR. FLEISCHER: The resolution that the President has proposed in the United Nations or their allies does not discuss a specific hard resolution.
Q: So what do you think about establishing a deadline?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President believes that the resolution that the United States, the UK, and Spain have proposed is the right way to go, and that's what he is urging action to be taken on.
Q: If I could just really quickly follow. Is it accurate, then, to say he opposes the Canadian compromise?
MR. FLEISCHER: The point the President is making is that time is running out, and that this issue has to come to a conclusion, that the time is coming for Saddam Hussein to be disarmed. And that's the point the President has made.
Q: Ari, the President is going to talk tonight about the future of Iraq as he sees it. What does he think is the level of sacrifice and some of the downsides to American-led occupation of Iraq after an invasion? And what does he envision the immediate outcome will be, not only in Iraq, but in the area?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President will get into this at some length tonight, but this will be a big-picture speech about the situation in Iraq. It will be a big picture piece about peace and disarmament. The President will talk in the speech about what the future may hold, not only for the people of Iraq, once liberated and allowed to become on their own, democratic; but also what it means for the security of the region, because the President believes that a free Iraq will lead to a more stable Mideast.
Q: What about the consequences of American-led occupation of a country in the Middle East?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the President has made clear that in the event of hostilities in Iraq, the United States will stay for as long as necessary, but not a day longer. And therefore, the President continues to look at this as a situation where the people of Iraq are capable of governing Iraq. And that is the future of Iraq -- an Iraq governed by the Iraqis.
Q: One more question about this. Everybody talks about democracy and liberation for the Iraqi people. He doesn't really believe that it's going to be the sort of democracy that exists here in America, does he?
MR. FLEISCHER: Tune in tonight. The President has very strong --
Q: Wait a second. Why do the American people have to wait until a speech before the American Enterprise Institute? Why can't you just answer the question? We're not talking about organic democracy the way it exists here, right? Because if that were the case, then maybe Iraq would be split up in some way.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, if I answer your question, are you going to go to the speech? I want you to still attend the speech tonight, David.
Q: You know I'll be in both places.
MR. FLEISCHER: I hope -- (laughter) -- at the same time. No, the President, of course, believes that democracy can spread to Iraq. Why shouldn't it? Democracy is not boxed in. Democracy doesn't live in limits. Democracy, as the President says, is God's gift to the world. Liberty does not come from America. Liberty is a naturally endowed right that comes from the Creator, according to our own Declaration of Independence. There is no reason in the world that the President does not think that democracy can spread. And the President does believe that the people of Iraq are fully capable of living under a democratic way of life. Of course, they are.
Q: Then why are you going to bomb them? (Laughter.) I mean, how do you bomb people back to democracy? This is a question of conquest. They didn't ask to be liberated by the United States. This is our self-imposed political solution for them.
MR. FLEISCHER: Let me guess that you will not be at the speech tonight. Helen, the President is going to --
Q: I'll be very interested in what the President has to say because I don't think -- I think if you ask five people anywhere, what's the reason the President wants to go to war, you'll get five different answers. Usually there's one defining moment and solution.
MR. FLEISCHER: Tonight, the President is going to discuss this. I think you will hear the President tonight talk about the threat of Saddam Hussein and how he poses a danger to the American --
Q: In 12 years he hasn't done anything.
MR. FLEISCHER: We will temporarily suspend the Q&A portion of today's briefing to bring you this advocacy minute. (Laughter.)
Q: Ari, how much is this war going to cost?
MR. FLEISCHER: That will depend on a number of factors, many of them up to Saddam Hussein and to Saddam Hussein's henchmen. If Saddam Hussein and his henchmen do not follow orders, if they don't follow their orders from Saddam Hussein, that can lead to one scenario. And so it is too soon to say with precision how much this war will cost.
Q: You can do better than that, with all respect. The administration has to have gamed out these scenarios and put numbers, dollar figures to them. And I wonder -- you have been reluctant to tell us what those numbers might be. Why be reluctant to level with the American people about the real dollar costs of the war?
MR. FLEISCHER: It's not a question of leveling. There is unquestionably a responsibility on the Executive Branch to provide to the Legislative Branch an estimate about what the war would cost, what the humanitarian operation would cost. And that is a responsibility the administration takes seriously.
Because we take it seriously, I'm not in a position to speculate what the number may be. At the appropriate time, and if the President makes a determination to use force, a request for the funding will, of course, be sent up to the Congress. And then it will be based on the latest information that is available. It is too soon to be able to have any type of reliable number to indicate right now.
Q: But you said there are scenarios. It would cost X amount of money with scenario one. You've had -- you have to have done that. Why not share those, so that people get a sense of what they will be called upon to pay?
MR. FLEISCHER: Because scenarios aren't sent up to the Congress. Supplemental requests for funding are sent up to the Congress based on more recent information, and it is too soon to say at this point -- that's the answer.
Q: Can you explain for us how deposing Saddam Hussein improves the chances for Mideast peace?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President will discuss this tonight, but suffice it to say that Saddam Hussein has provided funding for terrorism in the Middle East for suicide bombers; Saddam Hussein is a force of instability in the Middle East; and the President does believe that the more there is movements toward democracy in the region, movements toward reform, movements toward government that is helpful and reform-minded toward the people, the better the prospect for peace, broadly speaking.
Q: So you're saying that there's a direct linkage between violence in the Middle East and Saddam? It seems to me --
MR. FLEISCHER: Unquestionably. When Saddam Hussein pays suicide bombers to engage in suicide bombing, it's a direct correlation.
Q: It seems to me, though, that historically and ideologically, Iran has been a much bigger influence in that area than Saddam has ever been. But are you saying that if you remove Saddam from power, suddenly you can pave the path to Mideast peace?
MR. FLEISCHER: I know you will be at the speech tonight, as well.
Q: Ari, many estimates we've seen on the war's cost in tens of billions, up over $100 billion. Can you explain the wisdom of continuing to pursue hundreds of billions in tax cuts when you have this large potential liability out there that could increase the budget deficit? And didn't Lyndon Johnson get in trouble for the same sort of thinking during Vietnam, in wanting to maintain his fiscal program while funding the Vietnam War?
MR. FLEISCHER: Whether or not the President decides to authorize the use of force, it is vital for out country that the economy grow. And the President believes one of the best ways to help the economy grow is to provide the tax relief that can give a boost to the economy and create jobs for the American people. Whether or not the President authorizes the use of force, the American people deserve to have jobs. And whether or not the President authorizes a use of force, it still is important to get prescription drugs to our nation's seniors and to strengthen the Medicare program.
I'm certain you would not suggest that if we go to war, seniors somehow don't deserve prescription drugs. There are still a series of initiatives that are important, and the fundamental focus of the President will be on growth policies can help people get jobs and get the economy growing stronger.
Q: So the deficit doesn't matter at all? I mean, he doesn't consider --
MR. FLEISCHER: Clearly, it does.
Q: -- that a factor in the economy?
MR. FLEISCHER: Clearly, it does. And that's why the President is focused on policies that create growth, because the President believes that growth policies are the best way to deal with deficits.
Q: Is the President going to talk at all tonight about the road map for peace in the Middle East? Is he going to get that specific?
MR. FLEISCHER: He will talk about prospects for peace in the Middle East.
Q: And how much of the speech will be devoted to Israelis and Palestinians, and specifically, to Israel?
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not going to get into percentages or numbers. The speech is coming up and we're trying to build an audience. I'm sure many people are going to tune in tonight.
Q: Is it on the air?
MR. FLEISCHER: Is it on the air, the speech?
Q: Is it going to be televised?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's not a question you should address to me.
Q: On North Korea, does diplomacy represent a chance in the Bush doctrine about preemptively dealing with threats?
MR. FLEISCHER: Of course not. The strategic policies of the administration include numerous different tactics to deal with different threats, depending on what the threat is in any different region of the world. And so the administration has a series of options available to it. And in the case of North Korea, the President has made the judgment that diplomacy is the path to take.
Q: Ari, I'd like to ask you about a couple of meetings that were reported -- one between President Bush and Don Rumsfeld and the head of OMB to discuss the cost of war. Can you tell us if there were any figures during that meeting that you can tell us about? Secondly, there was reportedly a meeting between President Bush and President Putin's top aide, Aleksander Voloshin. What was discussed there? Are the Russians getting closer to supporting the U.S. on the U.N. resolution?
MR. FLEISCHER: On your second question, that was not a reported meeting, I told you about it. I announced that the meeting will take place and I briefed on that the other day. The President discussed his thinking about the situation in Iraq and the deepening and strengthening United States relationship with Russia.
On your first question, as I indicated, that while it is too soon to get into any specific numbers until something is sent up to the Hill, it is, of course, the responsibility of the Executive Branch to make a proposal. And so you can certainly expect the administration is focusing on what the proposal may ultimately be if the President decides to authorize force.
Q: So was there a meeting?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes.
MR. FLEISCHER: Yesterday.
Q: Ari, did the President wait until after the Israeli elections to speak on the problem of peace in the Middle East? In general, how crucial does he think solving the Arab-Israeli conflict is to the overall question of peace in the Middle East?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the President thinks solving the Arab-Israeli problem is central to resolving many of the issues in the Middle East. And the President believes the best way to solve that problem is through the reform of the Palestinian institutions, so that Israel has a partner in peace and the Palestinians have assurances that Israel, living in peace and security, will recognize and allow a Palestinian state to grow and to prosper.
Q: That sounds very much like what he said in the past, so we shouldn't expect anything new on that?
MR. FLEISCHER: You'll find out tonight.
Q: Did he wait until after the Israeli elections to make this speech?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, no. I think the speech, as you will see tonight, is going to be about several things, not just the big picture about Israeli-Palestinian and Middle East peace. That will, indeed, be a component of the speech. So there will be other aspects in the speech, as well.
But, clearly, there was an election in Israel. And I think it's fairly obviously that, for example, if somebody were to make a proposal in, let's say, October of 2000, October 2004, from a foreign country into the United States, that might not be the most propitious time to make a proposal if you really want to work with interested parties in a substantive way to move things forward.
Q: Did the Defense Secretary share with the President his sense of what the Defense Department's numbers might be on the cost of a war?
MR. FLEISCHER: I really have nothing I'm going to indicate beyond what I've said before. I think the process is something you're very familiar with. And the time any administration would make any proposal to the Hill for supplemental spending, conversation will, of course, take place about what it could be. And once additional information -- accurate information -- is in hand, then the administration will be in a position to send something to the Hill, if the President authorizes the use of force.
Q: Yes, now, we all understand that the President hasn't made a decision yet either on war or on the cost of the war, and that at some point he will, and that there are a lot of variables. I'm more interested in finding out whether or not Defense Secretary Rumsfeld told him what officials are saying today, which is that their estimate of the Defense Department part of this effort would be $75 billion to $85 billion.
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm just not going to get into any speculation about numbers.
Q: Or about whether -- I'm not asking speculation, I'm just asking if Rumsfeld told the President what officials are telling reporters today.
MR. FLEISCHER: It's not position to speak for the Secretary of Defense.
Q: Has the President actually been told anything, without regard for what it is, have numbers been shared with him?
MR. FLEISCHER: At the appropriate time, when the administration has something that is ready to get sent up to the Hill, if there is something, we will share it.
Q: I'm asking if the President had been -- anybody had shared numbers with the President.
MR. FLEISCHER: Jim, I've answered the question. I've given you what I can give you on the topic.
Q: But you said that -- I think you said this morning that a supplemental would go up if the President does decide to order military action -- immediately or very soon after the military action begins. Is that correct?
MR. FLEISCHER: I said the timing will be determined, whether it's immediately or in short order thereafter.
Q: Short order thereafter? But how will you know what you need to spend at that point?
MR. FLEISCHER: This is why -- this is why the timing remains an open question.
Q: Yes, but you said immediately or very shortly thereafter. You can't --
MR. FLEISCHER: I said immediately or in short order thereafter. This is why the timing remains an open question as to what short order is defined as.
Q: Do you know if you're going to do many supplementals, or just one?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, again, you're going around on the same topic, asking me to predict the future with precision, and I just cannot accurately or reliably do that. There will come a time when that is knowable and sayable. That time has not yet arrived.
Q: I had a question about the CBS broadcast tonight, but first of all, could you address the second half of the question about the Voloshin meeting? Did that meeting produce any movement toward the United States position on the --
MR. FLEISCHER: It's exactly as I read out the other day, and any further discussion about Russia's position at the United Nations Security Council needs to be addressed to Russian spokespeople.
Q: The Russian meeting happened today, not a few days ago.
MR. FLEISCHER: No, the meeting that took place -- I think the question dealt with the Russian equivalent of the Chief of Staff, who came here to visit. That meeting took place, I believe, yesterday.
Q: It wasn't --
MR. FLEISCHER: I read it out.
Q: I think it was Monday.
MR. FLEISCHER: Yesterday or the day before. But, in any case, I read it out and I answered the questions. If you're asking what Russia's position on the Security Council may be, that's a question for Russian officials.
Q: On the CBS broadcast, you said this morning that the CBS position was that -- that you had gone to CBS and asked for the ability to participate in the broadcast tonight and they said that it will be the President or nothing. We understand that this morning, at least, they have come back and said that they would find it acceptable if it were the President, the Vice President or the Secretary of State. Is that something --
MR. FLEISCHER: Subsequent to the phone conversation that took place, CBS has said to the White House that they would be willing to have other guests on. And I want to make a couple points. One is, I think the American media generally are going to be facing some interesting and difficult decisions as Iraq puts people out to engage in propaganda. I believe that in this case Dan Rather deserves to be congratulated for getting a serious journalistic interview with Saddam Hussein. However, we view what Saddam Hussein has said as propaganda and lies. And so the appropriate response is something that we will, of course, talk to CBS about, to see at what level and who could go out and respond to it. And that's a conversation we'll have with CBS.
Q: But are you going to accept their offer of the President, Vice President or Secretary of State --
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, as I indicate, we will talk to CBS about the appropriate person to respond and timing of response, et cetera. I made the point I made.
Q: Do you think CBS made a mistake by not taking you up on your original --
MR. FLEISCHER: Ken, I characterize it as I did this morning, and my characterization stands, and that's what I have to indicate on it.
Q: Ari, when you sent up a budget earlier this month, you anticipated an approximately $300 billion deficit. Given all this war planning and talk about subsequent costs, are you anticipating a contingency of a larger deficit than $300 billion?
MR. FLEISCHER: Contingency of what?
Q: A larger deficit than $300 billion.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, again, it all depends on the status of the economy; it depends on the decisions that get made not only on a supplemental, but on other spending issues pending in the Congress. Clearly, the President has identified priorities. His priorities are economic growth; his priorities are funding homeland security and providing for our national defense. One of the best ways to test whether or not the deficit will grow out of control will be to test whether or not Congress is curbing its spending appetite. And this all goes into what creates a deficit.
Q: You don't anticipate war costs to be in one of those factors?
MR. FLEISCHER: Of course, I said, in protecting national defense. That's clearly included in the sup.
Q: Ari, you said many times -- whether in reference to foreign protests, domestic protests, questions from the Hill, wherever, that the President welcomes an honest and open debate about how we move forward on Iraq. But given the concerns over the deficit, given the concerns over the economy, isn't it fair to include in that debate, even with all the caveats he wanted to attach to it, some preliminary figures on what this might cost -- best case scenario, worst case scenario -- so that people around the country and people on Capitol Hill can make up their minds about how we move forward?
MR. FLEISCHER: You're asking the same questions over and over again; my answer is exactly the same. Nothing has changed.
Q: The reason we're asking over and over again is it doesn't seem unreasonable to get at least a cost range, with all the appropriate caveats. You know everybody in this room is careful about reporting those. What's the harm in putting that out? I mean, it's --
MR. FLEISCHER: For the exact reasons I gave earlier. As soon as something is knowable, we will have additional information to share on it. I'd think you would also not want the White House to engage in any speculation about numbers that could fluctuate or be dramatically different. So it's too soon to say.
Q: A recently departed Larry Lindsey put forward an estimate back in December based on a percentage of GDP which was in line with the spending --
MR. FLEISCHER: Are you asking me to follow the example and be recently departed? (Laughter.)
Q: That's a decision you can make --
MR. FLEISCHER: Thank you.
Q: The French Prime Minister, can I ask for your response to his assertion that war now in Iraq would be precipitous and illegitimate?
MR. FLEISCHER: We will continue the course of the consultations and the diplomatic discussions with all the members on the Security Council. And France's position is known. President Bush has talked with President Chirac about it. And the process will continue until the day of the vote.
Q: You're not prepared to respond to his assertion that it would be precipitous and illegitimate?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President thinks that the most precipitous thing in the world would be to leave the illegitimate rulers of Iraq in position to have weapons of mass destruction that they could use against the American people or others in the region. That, to the President, is the most precipitous thing of all.
MR. FLEISCHER: I don't think Saddam Hussein is a legitimate leader, no. Is he elected by his people? I think he's a brutal dictator and a torturer. Yes, illegitimate.
Q: Is the head of Pakistan legitimate?
Q: Ari, does the President understanding of the First Amendment's constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of religion mean that he believes that Cardinal McCarrick should go to jail if he does not suspend the seal of the confessional in cases of pedophilia, as being proposed by a number of state legislators?
MR. FLEISCHER: Lester, it's not the place of the President to decide who goes to jail in our country.
Q: No, I know, but the question is, does he believe that Cardinal McCarrick should go to jail if he doesn't suspend the sacrament of penance?
MR. FLEISCHER: Lester, I think you need to address your question to different people.
Q: All right. At the time of Desert Storm, the first President Bush, as you remember, compared Saddam Hussein to Adolph Hitler. And my question is, from your extensive knowledge of the media, do you know of any instance where Edward R. Murrow of CBS, ever interviewed or even tried to interview or even wanted to interview Adolph Hitler?
MR. FLEISCHER: Lester, I addressed the topic earlier and I addressed in what I think is a serious journalistic issue. And I do think that journalists are going to get put into a position where they are performing their duty for the United States by having Iraqi officials talk to them. That's appropriate. I think it's also appropriate for the White House to have a response because this is propaganda. And that's the White House view.
Q: My information is Murrow never even thought of interviewing Hitler -- did he? Did he, Ari?
MR. FLEISCHER: I've expressed my opinions on the issue.
Q: Two quick ones, please. Does the President have any reaction to the Supreme Court ruling today about abortion demonstrations?
MR. FLEISCHER: I have not heard about the Supreme Court case, yet, so I don't have anything for you on that.
Q: And any follow-up, any more comments about the -- rescinding the executive order situation?
MR. FLEISCHER: There's nothing to report since yesterday.
Q: Ari, two things. You said yesterday that if we go to war with Iraq --
MR. FLEISCHER: Excuse me, Russell, hold on a second. Helen.
Q: What did he say? Sorry.
MR. FLEISCHER: I don't know what he said, you were talking.
Q: Sorry. Should I go stand in the corner?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, go stand in the corner, Helen. (Laughter.)
Q: Helen, do you want another time-out? (Laughter.)
Q: Don't make me come down there. (Laughter.)
MR. FLEISCHER: Russell.
Q: Ari, you said yesterday that if we go to war with Iraq, the Iraqi leadership, including Saddam Hussein, would be a legitimate target under international law. Does this mean that if we go to war with Iraq our leadership would be a legitimate target under international law?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think you should address that to an international lawyer. But the point remains the same -- our nation is threatened, all people in our nation are threatened by Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction. We know that terrorists desire to strike the United States. We know terrorists desire to strike the leadership of the United States. We don't know definitively if that fourth airplane was heading toward the White House or the Congress. So we do know that we are at war with people who want to seek maximum damage on our country and its leadership.
Q: But you made a judgment yesterday under international law that Saddam would be legitimate target. So does that mean our leadership would be a legitimate target?
MR. FLEISCHER: Russell, I have no intention of becoming Saddam Hussein's international lawyer. You can find another one.
Q: Okay. The second question, can I take from what you said earlier that the reason Lawrence Lindsey was fired was because he made an
estimate about the cost of war with Iraq?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, I was having fun with Dick. That's why I said that. And I wanted to get myself out of having to dodge the question again. (Laughter.)
Q: Ari, the National Governors Association has recommended that seniors who are duly eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid have those costs paid by the federal government. What is the White House view on that?
MR. FLEISCHER: The White House is working with the Congress about the best way to get, one, prescription drugs to seniors; and two, modernize the program so it is reflective of medicine in the 21st century, which has changed dramatically since 1965 when Medicare was invented, where Medicare basically focused on just business to hospitals and visits to doctors. The question about dual eligibility such as similarly the questions about QMBies and SLMBies and other low-income seniors who received the Medicaid coverage paid for under Medicare are all part of the complicated mix of Medicare issues that will likely get looked at by the Congress this year.
Q: Ari, today the President, when he met with the Latino Coalition, expressed interest to continue working with the Mexican government on different topics of the agenda. And he also expressed interest of -- in making sure that the relationship with -- the relations with Mexico continues to be positive and moving forward. Why did he say that now? And in the past two years, the relation -- I mean, the topics -- there have been issues with Mexico have not been raised besides security matters --
MR. FLEISCHER: He's always said -- I refer you to the remarks he made when he traveled to Mexico for the APEC Summit last fall. The President in his press availability said that similar points. The President is very dedicated to the improvement of relations between the United States and Mexico. The President is dedicated to increased opportunities for trade between the people of the United States and Mexico, and for making progress on some of the most contentious border issues.
Clearly, September 11th has made it much more difficult, particularly with the Congress, given the fact that 245-I, which is a family reunification program, cannot even be agreed to by the Congress. So this is what you're hearing from the President, is his longstanding dedication to America's partnership and alliance with Mexico.
Q: But is he, by this statement -- is he trying to highlight the fact that -- is he recognizing the fact that the U.S.-Mexican relations is not as good as it was before, for different issues --
MR. FLEISCHER: I think it's just as I indicated in the answer to your question.
Q: Ari, is the U.S. government prepared to offer compensation to Derek Bond, the 72-year-old British man who spent three weeks in prison because the FBI misidentified him as a man they're looking for in connection with a fraud case?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think you may want to talk to the FBI about this. This is not information that I have at my disposal here at the White House.
Q: The President is aware of the case.
MR. FLEISCHER: This is the first that I have been personally informed about it, so I couldn't tell you.
Q: On the supplemental that you're talking about today, would that be strictly for military action in Iraq?
MR. FLEISCHER: It would be as I indicated, in the event that the President decides to authorize the use of force, it would be the cost of war, as well as humanitarian efforts.
Q: Extra money for the war on terrorism, would that be in a different supplemental, or would it be in that --
MR. FLEISCHER: It would be for the reasons that I just gave.
END 1:53 P.M. EST
George W. Bush, Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/271780