Bill Clinton photo

Press Briefing by Mike McCurry

July 26, 1995

The Briefing Room

1:41 P.M. EDT

MR. MCCURRY: Now, in continuing my effort to avoid the subject of Bosnia -- (laughter.)

Q: It's been very apparent. (Laughter.)

MR. MCCURRY: Let me start with something that goes back several months, but is an important matter I want to bring you an update.

Back on March 30th, the President directed the Intelligence Oversight Board to conduct a government-wide review concerning allegations surrounding the 1990 death of an American citizen, Michael DeVine, and the 1992 disappearance of Guatemalan gorilla leader, Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, who is the spouse of an American citizen, Jennifer Harbury.

Terms of reference were developed for this inquiry that also instructed the board to look at the cases of seven other Americans and possibly others who may have been the victims of deaths, disappearance or abuse.

I'll tell you, the reason I'm addressing the subject today is that the Intelligence Oversight Board has, within the last several days, given a memorandum to the President that provides an update on the work that they have been doing.

They continue to explore a full range of incidents and issues that are covered under the terms of reference that I believe we made available publicly in April. They've interviewed witnesses in Guatemala. Elsewhere, they've looked at relevant records. They've benefited from the cooperation and assistance of enumerable persons, both in and out of government.

In addition to what they're doing, there are Inspectors General's investigations that have been underway at a number of other agencies -- State, Defense, Justice and the CIA itself.

Today you've seen in a couple of places a report about the CIA's Inspector General report, which is now being completed. The CIA has been briefing that on the Hill to the House Intelligence Committee yesterday. And in a short while, they will begin a briefing for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

At the conclusion of that briefing, the Director of Central Intelligence, John Deutch, will make available a public statement that summarizes the work that the CIA Inspector General has done. He'll also release an executive summary and, I think, over at the CIA they're figuring out how they will brief people on the work that the CIA Inspector General has done.

Q: Where is he releasing that?

MR. MCCURRY: He'll -- you can contact CIA public affairs, they'll let you know. I believe it will be -- I think they were coming across the river just to be more accessible to some of you all. But they've got the -- they've worked out the details. I think they've been in contact with most of your news -- many of your news organizations already.

Q: And that review is complete, Mike?

MR. MCCURRY: Yes. That review is complete. That review has been looked at by the Intelligence Oversight Board, which is why I'd like to go on and address that a little bit.

The Inspector General's report done at the CIA covers the cases of DeVine and Bamaca, and that there are other agency investigations underway, as well. At this point, because the work of the Intelligence Oversight Board is not complete, they are reserving judgment on the findings of the CIA's Inspector Generals report itself, and the conclusions and recommendations they make.

But I think it's very important to say that the Intelligence Oversight Board believes that the reports key findings -- this is the report of the CIA Inspector General -- the reports key findings of fact are substantially consistent with what the IOB has so far independently found. Most importantly, the Intelligence Oversight Board is presently aware of no information indicating that CIA were involved in the abduction and murder of Michael DeVine or the reported torture and execution of Efrain Bamaca Velasquez.

I will say that the Intelligence Oversight Board concurs with the CIA IG's findings that the CIA's performance in notifying Congress was inadequate and they agree that the CIA should establish a new system to ensure that there is adequate congressional notification. Similarly, the Intelligence Oversight Board agrees that CIA headquarters and the station did not keep ambassadors appropriately informed in several important instances.

Now, one key thing -- back at the time we were dealing with this issue in March, many of you will recall that there were some public allegations that officials of the National Security Agency and the Department of the Army were altering relevant records to prevent scrutiny in several investigations. The Intelligence Oversight Board has found no evidence to support such allegations, believe there is no foundation for them.

In addition, the allegations were communicated to a member of Congress -- Congressman Torricelli -- who, as you know, made it public in an anonymous letter that was telecopied to his office and then communicated to many of you. It appears that this letter was fabricated. Detailed analysis of the relevant data bases indicates that no records on Guatemala were deleted or destroyed.

Q: Who is the letter from?

MR. MCCURRY: The officials -- it was an anonymous letter, but within this anonymous letter there were two officials of the United States government named: Lt. General Paul E. Menoher, Jr., the Army's Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, and Colonel Daniel D. Day, who is an Army officer assigned to the NSA. The Intelligence Oversight Board found that both either did not have or did not utilize the access necessary to make the alleged allegations -- this is the alterations that were alleged in the letter.

And finally, the anonymous letter, which purported to be on NSA letterhead, does not match any NSA letterhead that was used in at least the last 20 years.

We've got a statement that we'll make available to you at the end of the briefing that covers the report of the Intelligence Oversight Board in some detail. I wanted to call this to your attention because, as you know, when the President ordered this review back in March, he said he would, as he could, make information available -- would make information available. And I believe a combination of what we're providing, based on the work of the Intelligence Oversight Board, coming out of the White House today, and then the information that I believe John Deutch makes available through the CIA, will provide the American public some type of update on what we are learning concerning the events in Guatemala.

Q: Does the memorandum call for -- or he has to still review it -- the one on his desk? Does he have to do anything? Will he have to do anything?

MR. MCCURRY: No. This was provided as information to the President, an update on the work of the Intelligence Oversight Board. There are recommendations that are contained in the Inspector General's report at the CIA that calls for certain alterations in the way information is reported that deals with some handling of information that makes some other recommendations. Those will be properly reviewed here at the White House and then any recommendations made to the President will be acted upon.

Q: Following this report and this allegedly fabricated NSA document that Torricelli released, is the White House now prepared to comment on Torricelli's decision to release what was considered to be classified information?

MR. MCCURRY: No. That is a matter that has been addressed properly within the House of Representatives.

Q: Do you know if there's any investigation into who sent the alleged fabricated letter?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, I don't know within the scope of looking at this matter whether the IOB looked at the question of who might have fabricated the letter, but the important thing was to deal with the allegation that these two named members of the U.S. government had somehow or other altered records. And the report of the board is clear, as I just indicated.

Q: Does the review deal with the overall assumptions or allegations that U.S. officials looked the other way when some of this stuff was going on, that they weren't directly involved or looked the other way?

MR. MCCURRY: Yes. You'll recall the terms of reference for the inquiry of the board that were released here April 7th, puts a full range of categories that are being reviewed.

Now, I want to stress, we're providing you some preliminary assessment of the work that has now been done at the CIA. There are other agencies involved. My understanding is that sometime this fall, the IOB will complete the work that they've got underway. They will then report back to the President in greater details.

And again, they are reserving judgment on some of the conclusions and recommendations in the CIA IG's report because they want to analyze that in the context of the reports they receive from other agencies as they begin to come forward. I felt it was important to provide you this update.

Q: Insofar as the allegations is concerned, does the President consider the matter closed?

MR. MCCURRY: As to the allegation that these two individuals were involved, I think it's safe to say the President considers that matter closed. The overall issue, however, is not closed. There continues to be work done, both by the board and by Inspectors Generals at other agencies to continue to look at the question of conduct of U.S. personnel in Guatemala and that will continue, and we'll report back to you as we can on that.

Q: Back in the spring it was said that if anybody was found to have lied, they would be fired. Has anybody been fired?

MR. MCCURRY: I will -- we are so far dealing with the Inspector General's report concluded only at the Central Intelligence Agency. The Director of Central Intelligence John Deutch will be considering what disciplinary measures to take and it would be inappropriate for me to comment on that at this time.

Q: Mike, new topic, Bosnia?

MR. MCCURRY: Yes. Anything more on Guatemala? One second. One last one here.

Q: Does the White House believe that no laws were broken, that mistakes were made, but no laws were broken?

MR. MCCURRY: The indication is, based on this preliminary assessment, there's no grounds to believe that laws were broken. That will be summarized in the statement you get.

Q: Does the White House feel that the resolution of the dual key issue is a victory, a setback, or a little bit of both?

MR. MCCURRY: I think that we believe it's an important step forward in making good on the decision of the nation's gathered in London last Friday to provide a stronger threat of NATO air power as a way of deterring further Serb aggression. It is hard work. Sometimes it is -- you know, a lot of diplomacy can be messy sometimes. But it produced a result in this case that we believe will substantially back up the threat of further air power if the Bosnian Serbs launch or attempt to launch an offensive against the safe area of Gorazde.

Q: How do you deal with the fact that Boutros Boutros-Ghali, sir, remains commander-in-chief of this operation?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, that's not an accurate characterization. And the Secretary General of the United Nations, our understanding is, in about 10 minutes will be addressing the subject publicly.

Q: Mike, what do you know about Kozyrev winning an agreement from the Serbs not to attack Gorazde?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, the Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev had a meeting in Belgrade with Milosevic in recent days. He has characterized that meeting. It would be welcome to any agreement to cease the conflict -- to cease any assault against safe areas would be welcome. But at this point, and especially when dealing with the Bosnian Serbs, actions speak louder than words. And if they --

Q: I'm sorry. Has there been any official notification from Moscow? There was a report that ran on Interfax just a little while ago to that effect.

MR. MCCURRY: I have not seen one, but I believe there may have been a report in from our embassy just based on what we have heard thus far about Foreign Minister Kozyrev's trip. But I haven't -- frankly, haven't had an opportunity to review it yet.

Q: Mike, has the President or the White House been doing anything in particular today to try to hold the vote down in the Senate? I mean, to at least make the margin?

MR. MCCURRY: The President's made over last night and today, I think at least a half a dozen calls to various members of the Senate. We've continued to press the case as we can. You are all aware that he has sent a letter that has circulated broadly. We have made members of the Senate aware of the decision taken by the North Atlantic Council very early this morning in Brussels so that they understand the exact arrangements that are now in place for -- to back up the threat of allied air strikes in the case of further Serb aggression.

Q: All Democrats?

MR. MCCURRY: I believe all Democrats, yes. I can check or we can check later on whether there were any Republicans called. I'm not aware of any at this point.

Q: Do you have the names of any of the senators he has called?

MR. MCCURRY: No, I'm not -- the President's had phone calls, and to keep the pressure off some of the individual members, we'll just say that he's made some calls.

Q: Mike, do you have -- does the White House have any response to the letter, the very moving letter that Haris Silajdzic wrote to the members of the Senate imploring them to pass the resolution? And doesn't that sort of overpower anything the White House can argue?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, it doesn't overpower the argument that we would make which is simply this: By voting for the Dole resolution, members of the Senate are inevitably putting U.S. ground forces into Bosnia because U.S. ground forces will be required then to go in and extract European peacekeepers from Bosnia.

It is easy to understand the frustration of the Bosnian government as they attempt to deal with what is clearly a disparity that exists in weaponry. But adding more gasoline to the fire at this point does not seem to the White House or to this President to be a good idea. That's exactly what lifting the arms embargo would do.

Going with that very painful letter is the assumption that the Prime Minister of Bosnia-Herzegovina expects the United States to provide that weaponry. And the Senate fails to address the central question of how having passed this resolution calling for lifting of the arms embargo, they would then prepare to protect Bosnian Muslims from what inevitably would be major assaults by the Bosnian Serbs. How are they going to get them the arms? How are U.S. taxpayers to pay for the weaponry that would be required? The United States Senate is mute on all of these very important points?

Q: Moot? Mute?

MR. MCCURRY: Mute. (Laughter.) It's a moot point that's mute. (Laughter.)

Q: The President of the War Crimes Tribunal is saying that listing Karadzic as a war criminal makes it impossible to talk with him in terms of peace. Does the U.S. share that view that both of these men --

MR. MCCURRY: That's not necessarily so. I think there's an assumption there that having been indicted by the tribunal, that it would be more difficult either for Mr. Karadzic or General Mladic to participate in negotiations outside of country because they would not likely want to set foot anywhere that they might be incarcerated.

Q: So what solutions do you --

MR. MCCURRY: There are -- well, there are discussions underway. General Mladic, if I recall correctly, met with the head of the U.N. forces in Bosnia yesterday so that they have an ability to have discussions with the West. They are now under indictment, but they are also instrumental in trying to get this conflict halted. And it's an awful situation to be in, as we acknowledge, but it's more important to try to get people to stop killing each other, and then important to bring those to justice who are responsible for the heinous crimes that have been alleged now by the tribunal.

Q: This sounds kind of like -- reminds me of Mr. Aideed in Somalia.

MR. MCCURRY: I fail to see the connection.

Q: You have someone that you might want to capture because he's under your nose who's a war criminal.

MR. MCCURRY: Well, that's an apples and oranges comparison.

Q: Has the President been in touch with Ghali? Does he know what he's going to say in five minutes?

MR. MCCURRY: The Secretary General, my understanding is, has had two conversations with the Secretary of State so far today and met yesterday with the U.N. Ambassador. And the President has been made aware of those conversations.

Q: What were they?

Q: To get back on these --

Q: What were they? About dual key or --

MR. MCCURRY: They were, you know, further discussions of the importance of the decisions taken in Brussels in the wee hours this morning.

Q: To get back to the Senate vote today, why do you think that you're -- despite the fact that you've made these arguments over and over again, you just haven't been able to cut through? I mean, it's not just political.

MR. MCCURRY: Look, because they have -- there's not a person in this room, me included, that doesn't feel pain looking at the horrible and tragic consequences of this conflict. And I think for some senators, they think they actually think they are doing something about that today.

In fact, they're making the situation worse. We've tried to make that argument, but it just haven't gotten through to enough senators. But they are, as I've said over and over again, they are now doing the one thing that could likely make this conflict much deeper and more dangerous, more tragic, and inevitably lead to a much wider role for the United States forces, including, most likely ground forces as we look at the weeks ahead.

Q: And will the President have something public to say after this vote today?

MR. MCCURRY: We will have to see how the vote develops. I don't anticipate it at this point, but I wouldn't rule it out either.

Q: Can you explain to us what the U.S. understanding is of what NATO decided overnight and what the U.S. understanding is of the agreement reached between the U.N. and NATO?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, I can tell you the following, and I would draw your attention to the statement that was made by Secretary General Willy Klaas at 3:00 a.m. this morning in Brussels because it was more than a satisfactory summary of a 13-hour North Atlantic Council meeting.

Several key points: They have met and moved immediately to prepare the plans necessary to implement the warning that was issued in London. They've also invited NATO military authorities to begin formulating proposals on how the planning they've done in connection with Gorazde could be applied to other safe areas, particularly because of the very dangerous situation in and around Bihac at this moment. The work that they have done ensures that the deterrence that we had planned for Gorazde is now in place and can be effectively executed by NATO.

They have taken steps to ensure that a direct threat to Gorazde or direct Bosnian Serb attacks on Gorazde will be met with a firm and rapid response of NATO's air power. They have worked out the command and control arrangements necessary at NATO to make good on that threat. They have made very strong recommendation to the United Nations on how the United Nations could coordinate exactly that same command structure with NATO military commanders. And I expect that the Secretary General of the United Nations will address that subject and describe his view of that, but it's a very strong recommendation coming from the 16 at NATO.

Q: As of today --

Q: -- clarify that command and control structures?

Q: Could I follow up? Could I follow up, please? As of today, does the threat by the NATO allies to use air power to protect Gorazde extend to areas beyond Gorazde?

MR. MCCURRY: The specific threat delivered to General Mladic on Sunday indicated that the West, even though it had concentrated its attention to the situation around Gorazde it was no less concerned about the situation in other safe areas and that the Bosnian Serbs should not be under any mistaken impression that the West was not determined to carry out U.N. Security Council resolutions as they apply to other safe areas. And as I noted and as the Secretary General noted in Brussels last night, the necessary planning for extending the proposals that are now adopted for Gorazde are now being made by NATO's military committee for some of the other safe areas in Bosnia.

Q: In advance of the Secretary General's speech, does the United Nations now at this very moment have veto power over air strikes?

MR. MCCURRY: They do not. They have a decision with NATO military commanders to be made and obviously the strong recommendation is that NATO military commanders and U.N. military commanders together make necessary decisions about implementing any operational plans on air strikes.

Q: So that's back to the dual key.

MR. MCCURRY: No. It is exactly what we have been pressing for, which is to have close coordination between military commanders in the field working with theater commanders who are ordering air sorties. That's what we have been pressing for, and that's what was adopted at Brussels last night.

Q: The civilian arm of the United Nations has ceded authority for military action to the military. Is that what you're saying?

MR. MCCURRY: I said in the case of NATO, dealing with decisions taken by the North Atlantic Council last night, the political leadership of the North Atlantic Council represented by their permanent representatives there last night, delegated the authority for NATO air power decisions to the commander of AIRSAF, that would be Admiral Smith. They recommended simultaneously that the same delegation be made by the Secretary General of the United Nations to U.N. military commanders in the field. And I suspect the Secretary General will respond to that briefing by the Secretary General of NATO shortly.

Q: What civilian oversight is there of this military operations?

MR. MCCURRY: Look, there have been political decisions taken by the civilian leadership of NATO, obviously, also by the members of the United Nations who gathered in London last Friday. They've made those decisions. They've now asked their military planners to get the job done.

Q: Based on what the President's been told about the conversations with Boutros-Ghali, does he expect the Secretary General to issue a clear statement today of either concurrence with what NATO did or no or is it going to be something muddier?

MR. MCCURRY: He has -- the Secretary General, and we would acknowledge this -- has responsibilities to reflect the opinions of true contributing countries who are participating in the U.N. mission and also reflect the views of Security Council members and others. I suspect he's going to address what he sees as his responsibility as Secretary General but he most likely also will address the decisions taken in Brussels last night as they relate to the issue of close air support for U.N. troops and the decisions NATO has now made concerning Bosnian Serb activity in and around Gorazde.

Q: Do you expect him to sign off on -- or to agree to NATO's recommendations?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't need to make a prediction since he will be speaking by the time I'm done here.

Q: Akashi has been removed from having any decisions --

MR. MCCURRY: Command and control descriptions properly should be briefed by U.N. officials.

Q: Without us knowing what he's going to say, is the President satisfied?

MR. MCCURRY: The President is very satisfied with the results of the meeting last night. They achieved an objective we had which was to make sure that the military planners put in place the arrangements that would be necessary to carry out the decisions taken by nations in London on Friday.

Q: Mike, you and Secretary of State Christopher have been saying the last few days that basically that the blood will be on the Senate's hands if there is more warfare in Bosnia as a result of -- MR. MCCURRY: I don't recall saying exactly that but -- Q: You wouldn't dispute that, would you? Q: Would be responsible for the increased -- for the loss

of humanitarian aid and for the increased fighting and dying. Do you accept the fact that the responsibility for the past dying is on your hands in any way given that it was this administration's policy?

MR. MCCURRY: We've had discussions -- there have been decisions, tragic decisions, dreadful mistakes that have been made on Bosnia and they date back through centuries but in the case of the current conflict they date back to the end of the Cold War. And I'm not here to assess blame or to respond to that type of question at this moment.

Q: Is any thought being given by either NATO or this government to set in train any steps to roll back the Serbian conquest of either Srebrenica or Zepa?

MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of any plan -- that would be entering -- I'm not aware of any discussion that would have the United Nations and or NATO using military force to attempt to reverse Bosnian Serb aggression on the ground. I haven't heard any discussion that puts that within the mission of the various efforts that are underway at this point. It has always been the case that the Bosnian government itself has been involved in the military protection one way or another of some of its own territory and that is the nature of the conflict that is there currently. The United Nations and NATO are not there to be combatants on behalf of the Bosnian government.

Q: But these two places were designated by the U.N. as safe areas that have now fallen. By not taking any steps to roll this thing back aren't the U.N., NATO and the United States damaging their credibility in terms of the new steps you're trying to take with regard to Gorazde or Bihac or Sarajevo. Why do the Bosnian Serbs worry if you, in effect, give them those two?

MR. MCCURRY: To the first question, no. To the second question, it will be -- the Bosnian Serbs will have to interpret the credibility of this threat as they see fit. I'm just telling you --brief for you what the decisions are that have been taken, how they apply to Gorazde, how the planning is currently been invited for the protection of additional safe areas, and those are the facts.

Q: Under the existing ground rules will the Secretary General of the U.N. have the power to agree with NATO or will he have to go back to the Security Council?

MR. MCCURRY: It's our view that's there's no further action required by the Security Council to implement these decision. And that was also indicated by the Secretary General of NATO last night.

Q: Mike, you have said that the allies might pull out if the embargo is lifted. Is there a timetable in conjunction with these discussions? Will they do it after the Senate vote? Will they wait until a House vote? Would they wait until a veto, an override attempt --

MR. MCCURRY: No. I've seen different types of statements from other foreign capitals on that. There was a statement from yesterday indicating that they've -- if it's the disposition of the Congress to move in this direction, that very clearly imperils the U.N. mission and the United Nations. I believe that's a paraphrase of a quote from one European capital yesterday.

I think the clear indication is if they are moving in the direction of unilaterally lifting the arms embargo, the Europeans will very quickly be moving in the direction out of Bosnia. And they've made that clear.

And that is the first question -- by the way, I should report that the President had a good 45-minute conversation with Chancellor Helmut Kohl yesterday afternoon. And without going into the substantive detail of that conversation, I'll say that the Chancellor began by asking what the situation was with the vote in Congress. And that just reflects, I think, the kind of concern that we're hearing from our European allies on an effort by the United States to unilaterally abrogate a U.N. sanctions regime.

Q: Procedurally, after the Senate vote, will the administration move to the House with a strong effort to -- what is the President doing so far on actually talking to House members?

MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President, as I indicated, had been -- has placed some calls to members of the Senate. But we have had some preliminary discussions with House leadership to get some sense both of timing and disposition as to how they would move on the resolution and --

Q: What did they say?

MR. MCCURRY: -- we are, as I said yesterday, laying the groundwork to try to make the case there, that apparently we have not made in the Senate, that this is a dreadfully wrong idea.

And they can say for themselves what they said.

Q: New topic?

MR. MCCURRY: New topic.

Q: Justice Department's decision to convene a grand jury in New York to investigate tobacco companies and the likelihood or the possibility that they may convene a second panel in Washington. What's the White House's position on that and do you think that -- is that part of the FDA review process, what they've asked you to do?

MR. MCCURRY: That's a matter that would be under potential litigation and possibly a criminal proceeding so we wouldn't comment on it here. That would be our position.

Q: Was there any consultation by the Justice Department with the White House on taking this to a grand jury?

MR. MCCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. I would be profoundly surprised if there were, but I can double-check that. I am not aware of any, to be sure.

Q: Could you give me update on the review, on the FDA review on tobacco?

MR. MCCURRY: No, other than the President asked for some additional information at the very initial meeting that he had on this. I did note that two members of Congress, Congressman Wyden and Congressman Rose, mentioned that they had come in, too. And I had neglected to pass that on when I addressed the issue earlier. They did come in, I believe, on Monday; had a good discussion with the Chief of Staff to pass on their views. I think they've -- there's been some public discussion of that that you've seen, but clearly there are many members of Congress that have a very active interest in the issue.

Q: Will the politics of Kentucky and North Carolina, the tobacco states play a role in the President's decision?

MR. MCCURRY: I haven't heard any discussions of that nature here.

Q: Is there -- does the White House take satisfaction that there have been no smoking guns in the Whitewater or Waco hearings?

Q: No pun intended.

MR. MCCURRY: No smoking guns -- we were talking about smoking. I haven't talked to him about it. I don't know.

Anything else?

Q: The timing in the tobacco decision -- can you say anything about that?

MR. MCCURRY: No, I haven't. It is -- there are some complex legal, regulatory and policy issues at play here. I wouldn't rule out that it could be sooner rather than later, but I don't want to set artificially a timetable for the President either.

I think he wants to make the right decision, make sure that he's got the information that he needs, make sure that he constructs a policy -- regardless of some of the regulatory and legal decisions -- there are some policy decisions here that he feels are very important as they relate to tobacco use by young people. And there are probably some things we can do in policy terms to address that. And he's determined to get the right policy in place, irrespective of some of the regulatory issues.

Q: Can I get a statement from the White House on the summit in Williamsburg? Peru and Ecuador agreed to --

MR. MCCURRY: I'd say that we were delighted with the results. Secretary Perry has done a great job with the Latin American defense ministers who have been meeting in Williamsburg. There have been important discussions, not only of regional conflicts, but also of broader hemisphere-wide issues of security. And the stunning thing, if you think about it, is the fact that 34 democracies are gathering from this hemisphere to discuss the role that military leadership plays in democracies. Just think back through the history of this hemisphere and think of what a remarkable achievement that is.

So the President's delighted with the report that he's had from Secretary Perry and we commend some of the separate bilateral discussions that have occurred under the auspices of this conference that have led to reduction of tensions that exist between some of the nations that have gathered in Williamsburg.

Q: Are we going to see the Apollo --

MR. MCCURRY: Are we still doing -- at 3:00 p.m. presenting a space medal and enjoying --

Q: Has he seen the movie?

MR. MCCURRY: Yes, he did see it. He was describing a scene in it to some of us the other night.

Q: On the constitutional question on whether Congress has the right to sort of micromanage foreign policy was at the bottom of the resolution. Do you consider that academic in that they could always use the power of the purse? Is that really an irrelevant question?

MR. MCCURRY: The Congress clearly could find ways to use its power of appropriations to achieve its result. But make no mistake. What they have done here is to substitute the judgment of those senators voting for this measure for the decisions that the President of the United States has taken, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the Ambassador to the United Nations and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. So, they think that they're smarter when it comes to this conflict than the people who have struggled with this. And good luck to all of us after they take this vote today and if it's finally ratified and if it survives a veto because there are going to be an awful lot of people who are going to end up dying as a result of it, I believe and I think the President believes.

Q: Are you saying that the constitutional question is kind of irrelevant since they have so many other constitutional ways to basically complete the --

MR. MCCURRY: I can't sort out all the constitutional issues. I think the President feels it's his prerogative to set foreign policy and he thinks it's dangerous when 535 members of Congress think that they should.

Q: Is the Counsel's Office looking at that as a possibility --

MR. MCCURRY: They've looked at the legal implications of Dole-Lieberman but I don't know that they've studied constitutional issues.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 2:15 P.M. EDT

William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by Mike McCurry Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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