Skip to comments.Transcript of Remarks by Dr. Rice and Ms. Hughes
Posted on 10/08/2001 6:28:03 PM PDT by Miss Marple
Transcript of Dr. Rice and Ms. Hughes Briefing
Transcript of Dr. Rice and Ms. Hughes Briefing
8 Oct 18:22
Transcript of Oct. 8 Dr. Rice and Ms. Hughes Press Briefing
To: National Desk
Contact: White House Press Office, 202-456-2580
WSHINGTON, Oct. 8 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following is the
transcript of a press briefing by National Security Advisor
Condoleezza Rica and Counselor to the President Karen Hughes
Office of the Press Secretary
1:59 P.M. EDT
MR. FLEISCHER: Good afternoon. Let me go over a couple brief
items, and then turn it right over to the senior administration
officials. The briefing will be on the record, pen and pad, on
the record. Also the purpose of it is to help you construct what
you've asked for, which are tick-tocks. So I'd like to kindly
request, keep your questions focused to the tick-tocks, that's
the purpose of both of them being here. If we start getting into
any other issues, we'll keep the time shorter. But the purpose
is here to answer as many questions as possible about events
leading up to yesterday.
DR. RICE: All right, we're here to take questions. Let me
just start out by saying that we'd like to talk about how things
have unfolded over the last week or so, leading up to the action
that we took in this new phase of the war against terrorism. And
my colleague and I are going to go back and forth. So you can
ask a question to one of us, you'll probably get both of us. So
let's open up for questions.
Q: What was the moment at which the President decided, and
what was it that prompted him to decide at that point to proceed
with military action?
DR. RICE: Jim, the way to think of this is that there were a
series of decisions that were made. Really the strategy was set
all the way back on that Monday after the Camp David meeting,
which was the weekend after the attack. And the strategy was set
then. The President then made public that strategy in his speech
that Thursday night to the Joint Session.
He was briefed on a concept of operations, kind of military
concept of operations to support the broad strategy that he had
been talking about during that following week. That then was
followed by a kind of operational plan that takes the concept
and begins to put in more concrete terms.
And it was really then on Tuesday of last -- of this past
week that he decided that it was about time to go. It was on
Friday that he had a final kind of assessment with his military
planners, and then on Saturday a final National Security Council
And I think if you could talk about a moment, he knew that
it was now time to start this next phase of this war on
terrorism. And he turned to General Myers, the Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs, looked him right in the eye, and said, Dick, is
Tommy Franks ready to go? And General Myers said, yes, sir, he's
ready to go. And he gave the go ahead. And at that point then,
of course, military operations actually began.
MS. HUGHES: On Friday.
DR. RICE: I'm sorry, on Friday. There was a wrap-up National
Security Council meeting then on Saturday.
Q: So he actually gave the order on Friday?
DR. RICE: On Friday, he asked the Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs, is Tommy Franks ready to go. He got the answer, yes,
he's ready to go. And he had a wrap-up meeting on Saturday
morning. And it was actually on Saturday morning that he said it
was all right for bombers to leave their bases, for instance.
MS. HUGHES: I think it's been clear for some time, as my
colleague said, that military action would be a part of -- it
would be one of the fronts of this war. And, by the way, that's
something the President has emphasized to all of us since,
literally the day after the attacks, that this would be a
multi-faceted campaign, that it would involve action on a lot of
When we were working on the speech to the Joint Session of
Congress, Jim, I said to him -- because I was aware that he was
contemplating military action -- well, what if we had taken
military action? And he said, well, my message is, if we have,
we'll describe it and, if not, be prepared -- to the military.
On Tuesday of last week, Tuesday, October 2nd, after his
National Security Council meeting, he called me to the Oval
Office and told me that he was preparing to launch a military
operation and asked me to start thinking about an address to the
nation. He was very aware that he would need to define the goals
of the operation to the nation.
And I have a quote here. He said, "The Bush administration
will enforce its doctrine." And that's what he told me as part
of explaining that the military operation would be part of a
long and broad effort on a lot of fronts and that its goal would
be to help disrupt the terrorist network in Afghanistan and
clear the ground there for sustained operations.
Q: I guess this is for both of you -- you know him as well
as anybody in the administration by this point in time. In your
minds, was there ever any thought on his part that the Taliban
might yield and that we wouldn't have to go this road or -- I
mean, did he spend any time thinking about that? Or was it
really pretty much straightforward military preparations all the
way down the line?
DR. RICE: Well, I think the President follows what is really
the best premise in this situation, which is, of course, lay out
the opportunity for the Taliban to do what they needed to do,
but be prepared if they don't. And he really gave the order to
the military to begin planning all the way back after that first
National Security Council meeting.
But he also recognized that the military side of this needed
to be, as my colleague said, in a larger context, and it was
quite deliberate that other things happened first. For instance,
the financial piece would happen first.
One thing that was very focused on through this entire period
of time was the humanitarian piece. And he spent a lot of
time with both Secretary Powell and Secretary Rumsfeld and with
the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, saying, I want to make sure
that the humanitarian piece is in place when we start military
operations. Because I think he understood that in broad
strategic terms, making very clear that this was not a war
against the Afghan people, was extremely important to what we
were trying to achieve.
Q: Why did he not set a deadline, a date certain, as we saw
during the Gulf War?
DR. RICE: Well, John, I think that, as I remember the Gulf
War, it also was at a time of choosing. It is important to give
time to the planning of the military operation. But it is also
important not to tip, in a sense, exactly when you plan to begin
The President said clearly to the Taliban, you need to do the
following things. I think that all of you picked up that, by
the end of the week, he was starting to send pretty strong
signals to the Taliban that time was running out. In fact, I
think he said, time is running out.
But it is probably -- it is actually not very effective, he
believed, to set a specific time and say, do this by this time.
Q: Just to follow up on that, I mean, was all of this
presented publicly? I mean, was there any behind-the-scenes
delivery of messages to the Taliban?
DR. RICE: Well, as you know, there were a number of attempts
by Pakistan to reach the Taliban with this message. I am not
going to talk about the diplomacy that was going on here, but I
think the President really felt that he had given the Taliban
fair warning, he had done it publicly. Let's remember, this
wasn't the first time that the Taliban had been told by an
American administration that they needed to close down these
camps and that they needed to stop supporting al Qaeda. So there
is a long history here; the Taliban had plenty of warning.
Q: When the President gave the go-ahead to his military
people, did he leave it up to them to choose the precise hour in
terms of nighttime bombing, or did he say, I want this to hit at
such and such a time?
DR. RICE: Well, I'm not going to get into operational
matters. But let me just say that I think the President set the
direction. He was briefed on an operational plan, and he gave
the go ahead to do the things that were -- that he believes were
best within that operational plan.
MS. HUGHES: He felt that it was very critically important to
his decision, he told me later, was the fact that the military
ready, that the time was right for the mission to be a success.
And I think he felt that was a critical part of his decision.
Q: Can you define the Bush doctrine, which you said he would
enforce? And, secondly, did the President ever try to --
did you ever hear him try to understand the motivation or
explain the motivation, the character of bin Laden? Did he ever
discuss bin Laden in those terms?
MS. HUGHES: I'll leave the second half of that to Condi. The
doctrine which he was referencing, Randy, was the statement he
made very clearly in his joint session of Congress, that the
countries who harbored terrorists would deliver the terrorists
or share in their fate. That was what he was referring to in
Q: Can I follow up on the timing? Was there a reason that
it was a Sunday? Was that a specifically chosen, Sunday in the
United States, mid-day?
DR. RICE: This was just the right timing from the point of
view of everything being ready and the right time to start the
Q: To follow that --
DR. RICE: Okay, a follow up on bin Laden. Obviously, in those
first sessions at Camp David, for instance, there was a lot of
discussion about what kind of threat the United States and its
allies were now facing, how to think about the motivations of al
Qaeda and bin Laden. But this is a team that had looked at the
al Qaeda threat quite a bit prior to this. In fact, there had
been some discussion of how to deal with al Qaeda, going all the
way back nearly to the beginning of the administration.
The President had been party to some of those discussions,
how to engage in a counter-terrorism that would really remove
this threat for the United States and its allies. So there was
some discussion about it, but I think that after the September
11th attacks, the President's view was, he now had a
self-defense case. He now had to take this to the terrorists,
where they lived. He had to get us into a situation in which we
were going after them, that we were -- you know, the best
defense is a good offense. And I think the motivations at that
point fall apart.
Because it was clear that bin Laden, through his public
statements, through the fact that he had bombed -- or had
ordered the bombing of American targets before, was bent on
destroying our way of life.
Q: Did he not discuss the character of bin Laden in any way
since September 11th?
MS. HUGHES: Not in specific terms, specific to an individual.
In terms of the broader terms of the terrorists, we've had
discussions about the fact that people who commit suicide in the
process of murdering other people are, as he said, barbaric
criminals, who had done just that, committed suicide and
murdered other people. So we have had discussions along those
lines, Randy, but not specifically targeted to an individual,
more about the broad nature of the crimes involved
in these terrorist acts.
Q: Ari said that the President did watch the tape of bin
Laden yesterday, in the Residence, and said that based on the
tape he thought that he had "virtually" taken responsibility for
the attacks. But it was a very chilling message. He didn't have
any, sort of, emotional or personal reaction to hearing what
that man had to say?
DR. RICE: Again, this administration and the President at the
top of it, has known for quite some time about Osama bin Laden,
al Qaeda and this terrorist network and what they were capable
of, what their motivations were. This didn't spring full-blown
on September 11th; this has been known. And that he
was out to end our way of life, to make Americans fearful in the
way that he talked on that tape was clear on September 11th. So
I don't think that I could say the President had an emotional
response to it at all.
Q: A couple of points. Can I just clarify, then, the final
go order happened Friday? Or you described it as sort of Friday
DR. RICE: The final decision to do the military action,
provided everything still held, was a Friday decision. On
Saturday morning, there was one final NSC meeting, and at the
end of that NSC meeting the President gave the go-ahead for the
bombers to be launched.
Q: And just a question about the okay -- not the final okay,
but the okay to move forward is something that pre-dated
even Secretary Rumsfeld's trip, as you describe it, or at least
coincided with that? Is that --
DR. RICE: The President asked Secretary Rumsfeld to go out
to the region and to make a kind of final look at what we had
and what we were dealing with. The Secretary reported on
Saturday that everything was still in place. Remember that the
President on Tuesday had really decided that it was time for
military action, that's when he sent Secretary Rumsfeld out to
the region to kind of make an assessment, make a final look with
the front line states about what was going to be permitted and
to make a last check with the front line states.
Then on Saturday morning, the Secretary was back. They had
the -- we had this final NSC meeting and the President then, of
course, said, you can send the bombers.
Q: So in other words, it's: we're going to do this, Secretary
Rumsfeld, you go make sure the deal is sealed, and when you tell
me that it's clean over there, we're going to go
MS. HUGHES: That's right.
DR. RICE: And that the military is prepared to carry it out.
Q: Why did you -- this additional Saturday meeting?
Essentially to let Rumsfeld get back? Were there other
diplomatic shoes that had to fall into place between Friday,
when the military was already ready, and Saturday?
DR. RICE: Remember, on Friday what he got an assessment of
was, is the military ready. On Saturday, there's one last check
to make sure that everything is ready: the diplomacy is in
place, the allies are in place, the military is in place. And
when he can walk around to his national security principals and
say, are we really ready to go.
So I think the way to think about it is that on Friday, he
got assurance that the military piece was, indeed, ready. On
Saturday, he took one last check to make sure that all the
pieces were in place and then gave the order to go.
Q: In terms of the timing being ripe, as your colleague says,
can you speak to that, vis-a-vis the coalition that he built? I
mean, it seemed to me as though you had pretty much at
that point brought to bear maximum pressure on the Taliban. They
were virtually isolated. And were you worried that if you didn't
go this weekend, that cracks might start to form?
DR. RICE: I think the President felt that the coalition was
doing just fine. I don't think that there was any sense that
there was, you know, extra added pressure to go right now. But
it was -- I think the term is, right -- that the military action
was prepared. Frankly, that the other pieces had achieved some
victories, that we had some agreement on the financial piece
with the allies. You were starting to really squeeze the Taliban
on the financial side. That the diplomatic piece really was in
place. That you were getting offers of support from around the
world. And then, of course, that the allies piece was in place.
And so it was now right.
But it's extremely important to remember that from September
-- really, after the President made his decision on that Monday,
after Camp David, all of this was unfolding on several other
fronts. And that is what really was bringing maximum pressure on
the Taliban, was that you had the diplomatic piece in place, you
had the financial piece in place, you had the humanitarian piece
in place, and now you had the military piece in place and it was
time to do that.
MS. HUGHES: John, I think the humanitarian piece was a very
important part of it. From the first time that the President
first talked with me about the military operation, he emphasized
that at the same time we are going to be clearing the way so we
can deliver humanitarian relief. That's been very important to
him. We had planned the week before the humanitarian
announcement that we made at the State Department last Thursday,
because he felt it was very important that we put in place the
humanitarian operation because of his concern for the people of
Q: When was the first time he talked about that?
Q: If Tuesday is the central day here, could either one of
you all kind of give us some of the real details? For example,
what time of day, what meeting, who did the President
communicate to when he embraced this mission, as we have seen it
MS. HUGHES: I can tell you generically some of the things I
remember about Tuesday. As Andy Card said this morning -- I
wrote it down because I thought it was a great -- let me find
exactly what he said: Last week was a month long, he said. Which
I think really is true, when you think through all the different
things that took place last week.
On Tuesday, Tuesday was the day the President announced the
reopening of National Airport, which was an important leadership
decision, we felt, for the country. It was also a difficult
decision, because there were people within the administration
who had different feelings about how we should handle Reagan
National Airport. And so Tuesday was the day he announced that
decision and went to the airport.
He had a National Security Council meeting that morning, as
he has been having every morning. Late that afternoon, he also
had a domestic consequences meeting with Secretary Paul O'Neill,
where they discussed and decided the shape -- the range of the
economic stimulus package. So it was a very busy day on a lot of
Do you remember any more details about the national security
DR. RICE: Well, on the National Security Council meeting, it
was not unlike they have all been, which is that he -- the
President chairs them. He goes around to each of the principals,
asks how various aspects are going. Concentrated quite a bit
that day, obviously, on how the military piece was coming,
including issues about diplomatically landing rights and so
forth. And by the end of that time, was confident that we
probably had in place the military piece to be ready to go on
Q: So what did he say at the end of the meeting to sort of
-- if you know, or if it was clear in a sense that, okay, this
-- did he say anything like, all right, this is our plan or
anything like that?
DR. RICE: Well, again, you make a series of decisions here,
each one making it a little bit more refined. So I think that
the thing to think about Tuesday is that now it was pretty
refined what was actually going to be done.
Q: In any situation like this you've got a series of options
and you have to discard some. Can you tell us, first of
all, at what point you discarded launching other attacks on
other countries or just focusing on Afghanistan to begin with?
And then, within Afghanistan, can you tell us if there were
key decision points about whether or not you were going to take
out bridges, power plants, things like that, which you
ultimately seem to have decided not to do, to keep ordinary life
for ordinary Afghans together.
What were the range of choices he had to go to?
DR. RICE: Well, David, I am not going to get into the
planning here of the operational details of an ongoing
operation. Let me just say that the President has been very
concerned from the very beginning that we make clear that this
is a war not on the Afghan people but on the al Qaeda and the
regime that is harboring them.
On the first point, all the way back at the Monday NSC
meeting after the Camp David weekend, the President had decided
that the first phase -- in a military sense, the first phase was
what he talked about in his joint session speech, which was to
go after al Qaeda and those who harbored them, if those who
harbored them were not prepared to give them up and turn
Afghanistan into a place that you could not have terrorist
The President also -- and this continues to be the case for
the strategy -- the President has also kept the focus on the
fact that this is a broad war on terrorism, that we have
different approaches to some of these issues, but that he
doesn't believe there are good terrorists and bad terrorists.
And so while this is a first phase, he's made very clear that
he doesn't believe that you can be against al Qaeda and support
other terrorist groups.
Q: A couple of questions on how he has responded. First,
the horror of September 11th -- was there any thinking at that
time for a more immediate response or had he decided from the
beginning that this was going to be more comprehensive?
And, second, he said yesterday that, no President undertakes
military activity without -- lightly. And so I wonder if you
could tell us how you've seen him deal, personally, with the
gravity of sending the fathers and mothers and sons and
daughters of Americans into harm's way?
DR. RICE: Karen can probably add on the second point. On the
first point, the President from the very beginning said I want
to do something that is effective. He also said, from the very
beginning, that military power was but one element of this broad
campaign. And so there was no need to do something hurriedly,
because there were -- the campaign began with other important
pieces of this.
I think you just cannot underestimate how important it is to
cut off financial networks, how important it is to deal with
intelligence -- with other intelligence agencies around the
world, how important it is to round up these cells that are
sitting out there like cancers in any number of countries. And
very early on, he realized and knew that those were equally
important parts of this campaign.
So he didn't feel any rush to get to the military piece,
because the campaign had begun. We were making progress on the
campaign. The Taliban was getting more and more isolated. The
diplomatic piece was proving to put the Taliban in a position in
which it really is the outlaw regime that it is. So he didn't
feel any rush.
But I think that he has dealt with the responsibilities of
Commander-in-Chief -- and, after all, this is the most important
and gravest thing that a Commander-in-Chief does -- with a kind
of seriousness of purpose, with an understanding that Americans
need to be clear that this is a long campaign, that they need to
be clear that sacrifice may be entailed; and as a patient
counselor, and really almost educator of the American people of
what kind of war this is going to be.
And I think every time he speaks, he tries very hard to
fulfill that role of bringing the American people with him,
laying the fundamentals of what kind of campaign this is going
to be. And I think he thinks that that may be the most important
thing that he does right now.
MS. HUGHES: And to underscore that, that really started the
morning after September 11th. And I think in our meeting -- we
meet in the mornings and talk about basically the strategic
framework of the day and the week. And the President talked
about acts of war have been committed against us and we need to
begin the process of explaining to the American people that this
is a very different kind of war. And so almost every time --
including this morning -- almost every time I see him, he is
reminding all of us and --
DR. RICE: Especially all of us --
MS. HUGHES: -- and all of our Cabinet Secretaries that you
have got to explain this is a different kind of war, that there
are a lot of things going on in different arenas and in
As to, Terry, the other question about how he is. I think
that at Camp David this weekend, for example, there was a sense
of the weighty decision the President was in the process of
making. I think there were people there who -- some family and
friends -- who did not really know the decision. But I think
they could all sense that there was a very heavy burden on the
We all tried our best to try to be somewhat normal. There
was, you know, a football game on in the background a couple of
times, and -- but there was a lot of -- my colleague was being
paged all the time, and the Chief of Staff was having messages
delivered, and I even had a few messages delivered.
So it was -- I think there was a feeling that there was a
seriousness of -- there was a weighty feel to the weekend. And
almost a somber undercurrent that what was taking place was very
Q: The military plan that he approved on Saturday, how far
into the future does it go? Was it just for yesterday, or is it
two or three weeks?
DR. RICE: I am not going to be able to get into that. He has
approved strategy, a concept of operations and a military plan,
and that's all I'm able to say.
Q: As far as tick-tock yesterday, could you get into any more
specifics in terms of, for example, when he first was told,
yes, the bombs have started to land? Or perhaps a reaction? Or
if you wrote any other quotes down from him or other senior
administration officials from yesterday or any of the other days
leading up to it? Any other real specific tick-tock times?
Q: And also today, is he watching anything on TV, the bombing
today or --
Q: We want color.
MS. HUGHES: Okay. Well, yesterday, obviously, we started the
morning -- was yesterday Sunday?
DR. RICE: Yes. (Laughter.)
MS. HUGHES: Today has been a month long. Yesterday we started
the morning at Camp David, and at that point, the President when
I first saw him was concerned about his speech that he was --
his address to the nation, which we had worked on, Condi and
Mike Gerson and the President and I, the night before, and Condi
had sent to the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State and
the Vice President, for their feedback and comments.
And so the President asked Condi to come back to Washington
to touch base with those officials. And the other -- as we went
to the Fire Fighter's Memorial -- which, by the way, had been
scheduled before the events of September 11th, and which the
President felt strongly was a commitment that he wanted to
honor, to respect the fire fighters who had lost their lives in
the line of duty. And I think the memorial that year was for the
year 2000, but also was an opportunity to pay tribute to the
fire fighters who had lost their lives in the heroic rescue
efforts in New York, and those who had served at the Pentagon.
And so he felt it was important that he go on to that event.
But we discussed the remarks some during the helicopter ride to
the event. It was -- again, I think there was a -- it felt very
somber, serious, throughout the day. And we returned to the
White House and I think -- you had the first report. I remember
you coming into the Oval Office and saying that we've got a
report. Do you remember that --
DR. RICE: What happens, is of course the Secretary of Defense
says, the operation has begun. And so the Secretary of
Defense called to say that the operation had begun. The
President then went down to make his remarks to the country. The
interesting thing, of course, about something like this, is that
once the operation starts to unfold, it's unfolding. And you're
not participating in its unfolding.
I know that there's sometimes an image that you sit there
watching things plot on a map. You, of course, don't. And so the
President was getting updates as they had come in. I think he
talked to the Secretary of Defense a couple of times, in the
window during which operations were ongoing. I certainly briefed
him a couple of times. But he was -- the President was nice
enough, after he did his remarks, to just say to senior staff
who were around, let's have lunch.
And so we sat in the Roosevelt Room, and we sat down and we
got the lunch in front of us. And my colleague said --
MS. HUGHES: I said, what do we need to do now. Because the
feeling -- we knew that it was underway. It had been a very
intense, very hectic 24 or 48 hours leading up to it. And we
were sitting, waiting for the Secretary of Defense to come out
and brief from the Pentagon. And so we had the big screen TV on,
and the Secretary hadn't come out yet. And I remember looking at
everyone, and saying, what do we do now?
And there really was nothing for us to do at that moment. It
was mainly wait. And I think that's what my colleague said, now
DR. RICE: Now we wait, right.
MR. FLEISCHER: Last question.
Q: Could you tell us in recent weeks what level of concern
has the President expressed about words from the region, from
our Arab and Muslim allies? How concerned was he about internal
stability in those countries? And at what point did he reach
some level of comfort that a lid could be kept on that?
DR. RICE: Well, first of all, we've recognized, and the
President more than anyone has recognized from the beginning
that different countries have different circumstances. And we've
been really getting remarkable cooperation from a lot of very
courageous leaders in the region.
He has had a couple of phone calls with these leaders, and
so he had a sense that they were committed, that they were --
that they understood their own circumstances, but they were
prepared to step up. He, in every call with leaders in the
Middle East and in the Gulf, and for that matter in other Muslim
countries, he has said, I'm going to go out and make sure that
this is understood not to be a war against Islam, but a war
against terrorism, a war against the barbarians who did this,
but not against Islam.
And I think that has helped a lot with the leaders around the
world. I think that Secretary Rumsfeld's trip to the region
helped to reinforce that we, indeed, had the cooperation and
that the leaders in that region were alongside for the ride.
Q: Can I just follow? When he said, in the context of the
Secretary Rumsfeld trip last week, when he -- he had that line
in there, it's important to understand that legitimate
governments survive. What precipitated that remark?
DR. RICE: Well, I think that there is no secret that al Qaeda
and terrorist networks like that are not just against the
United States and Europe, but also that they have designs on the
overthrow of legitimate Muslim governments that do not follow
their particular brand of -- well, I can't call it religion, but
who do not want to use religion in the same way that they want
to use it for purposes of terror. So that's what the President
was speaking to.
Q: I want to clear up a couple of things. The President
turned to Myers and asked whether Tony Franks was ready --
DR. RICE: Tommy Franks.
Q: -- Tommy Franks was ready to go. Was that at Camp David?
DR. RICE: No, that was on Friday. Here at the White House in
the NSC meeting. Tuesday, he had decided that it was time to go.
Friday, he wanted to get a final military assessment of whether
they were ready. Saturday, he wanted to get the NSC principals
back together and make sure that everybody was ready, and
especially to hear from Don Rumsfeld, who had been in the region
-- although, he had had updates from Rumsfeld the entire time
that he was on the road.
I think it's extremely important to just note that for a
Commander-in-Chief at that moment, he needs to look at his
military advisor and then he needs to look at his national
security team and say, are we ready to go. And that's what that
Q: To follow up on that same question. To Karen, the first
time that the President mentioned that humanitarian aid linkage
to the military operation -- was that also on October 2nd, when
he called you to the Oval?
MS. HUGHES: He had talked about humanitarian aid for some
time in advance of that. In fact, because the week before that
we had scheduled the State Department announcement on
humanitarian aid for that Thursday. I think he had talked about
humanitarian aid for some time before that.
DR. RICE: Yes, that had come about very early.
Q: Is this the first time he linked them?
MS. HUGHES: Specifically on Tuesday he did tell me the
humanitarian aid would be an important component of the
DR. RICE: He had asked the military, through Secretary
Rumsfeld, to see what military operations could do to support
the humanitarian relief effort. He very much wanted the
humanitarian relief effort to be part of the military component,
as well as other components. And, indeed, the USAID Director was
directed to work directly with the military to see if we
couldn't get that done.
Q: Both of you have talked a lot about the President being
an educator for the American people. Since he has talked about
a new kind of war with objectives that are very broad -- he's
talked about saving the world, he's talked about ending
terrorism, he's talked about ending evil -- what kinds of
conversations have the two of you had about making sure that the
American people are clear about what the objectives are and what
success looks like?
MS. HUGHES: Well, he's told me from the very beginning that
-- again, on that morning after the attacks, I think I've talked
to you all before about the fact that on the way home from the
attack -- to Washington the night of the 11th, he talked about
that he felt that his primary goal that night was to reassure
the American people.
And the morning after was when he called me to the office and
said that acts of war had been committed against us and that
we -- this was going to be a very different kind of war.
I think he feels -- he understands that there -- as my
colleague said, that there are no shades, so long -- as he said
in his remarks yesterday, there can be no peace so long as there
are those who threaten peace. And so long as there is the threat
of a terrorist attack or of a terrorist group of global reach
that is able to strike and strike fear in our country, there
will be no peace. And so he -- I think the mission is defined by
the adversary in some ways, that we have -- that we must respond
in order to protect the peace and security of our own nation and
the world, that we have to be prepared to combat terrorism
wherever it springs up.
Q: Has he expressed any concern with you recently, in the
past few days, that the American people will be confused about
what is success? If this is this long, ongoing assault, what is
the achievable end result that they're going to be patient to
MS. HUGHES: I think actually the American people understand
quite well exactly what I just said, that there can be no peace,
so long as there is the fear of a terrorist strike on our
country and I think that --
Q: Can I ask a detail question here, to get some color? Was
he briefed even on the detail that said what the food package
should be and the care that went into figuring out what should
be in each packet? Could you talk a little bit of that even kind
of detail is something that you would review with him?
DR. RICE: Well, I don't think even I was briefed on precisely
what's in the food packages, except that they would be
appropriate to a population some of which might be Muslim. That
was briefed to him.
No, he was really concerned that the operation that involved
military forces in the air drop be as successful as possible, as
effective as possible, that it be coordinated with other
humanitarian aspects of what we were trying to do. But, no, not
on the details of what --
MS. HUGHES: One other point that I think is important to
answer your question about is focus. He feels it is very
important for the American people and for the military -- he
kept emphasizing in the process. On Friday, he called and
basically gave me an outline for the speech. He called and said,
write this down, and proceeded to give me an outline, that he
wanted to describe the action, that he wanted to describe the
objectives; third, to outline the mission; fourth, to talk about
the nature of the campaign; and, finally, to talk about the
characteristics. And he mentioned specifically patience and
He had previously seen the letter from the little girl, the
very touching letter from the 4th grade girl who said she was
willing to give her dad to the President to serve his country.
And he told me to put that letter, a discussion of the letter at
that point in the speech.
So I think he has been very conscious of the need to educate,
not only the American public, but also other world leaders about
the nature of our campaign. One of the things he
asked me to do last Tuesday when he talked about preparing, was
to talk with Prime Minister Blair's, Alastair Campbell, his --
I think his communications director. And we did talk on
Saturday. And so he asked me to keep in touch with them so that
other leaders and their staffs understood our objectives.
Q: Could you elaborate a little bit more on Prime Minister
Blair's involvement and the whole decision-making process? Was
he just brought in at the end, or was he brought along step by
step? And did he contribute in any significant way to shaping
the kinds of decisions as they were made?
DR. RICE: Well, I think it's fair to say that the Prime
Minister and the President saw eye to eye on the broad strategy
almost immediately. When Blair was here on the night of the
joint session speech, they had an extensive discussion of what
they were facing, of the strategy that needed to be employed.
And I think they saw eye to eye and then they went about their
respective ways to deal with beginning to implement that
And I think the President has been really very gratified by
the tremendous support of Prime Minister Blair and also of a
number of other leaders who, very early on, seemed to have
understood that the strategy made sense, that you were not going
to war against the Afghan people, you were going to war against
those who have been harboring terrorism; that this was not a war
against Islam, this was a war against terrorism; that you needed
to have a humanitarian component of this.
I mean, there were several things that the President and
several other leaders understood very early on, and then went
about implementing. So it wasn't as if Prime Minister Blair and
the President were role playing here, and you do this and I do
that. I think that they had a generally -- a broad, agreed
strategy and then they each acted on that strategy.
There were discussions with -- I had conversations very
frequently with the National Security Advisor to Prime Minister
Blair. It is also the case that several other National Security
Advisors of close allies have either been here or have been
constantly in contact. But Prime Minister Blair, because his
forces were involved in the actual action, this was discussed,
of course, in more detail with him, through his military
Q: Did you coordinate the speeches of the two leaders?
Q: Was he sort of -- on the timing of the launching of
DR. RICE: Prime Minister Blair was -- they discussed the
timing just before it went, but the timing was a decision of the
Q: Karen did you coordinate the speeches of the two leaders?
MS. HUGHES: They asked what the President's plans were, and
I told Alastair that the President planned to make a statement
shortly after the military action began. And he said that the
Prime Minister would plan on watching that, and speaking
following the President.
Q: Could you provide an update on the financial pieces,
DR. RICE: Actually, I'll have to get that for you. It is
continuing. Secretary of Treasury is getting ready to expand the
list. They're working through that. The total for this financial
effort across the world is really quite impressive. It's in the
several hundreds of millions of dollars.
But this is going to be an ongoing process of listing
terrorist groups on the OFAC list, and it's continuing even as
Q: You said that when the President decided on a first phase,
what you talked about was going after al Qaeda and the regime
that harbors it. The President didn't mention bin Laden
and al Qaeda yesterday, and we were told this morning that he is
not a particular focus, he and his associates are not a
particular focus of this attack.
Was there a point at which it was decided to not focus
specifically on him and was that for substantive reasons or more
sort of stylistic reasons, in terms of allowing people to
understand the breadth of the attack?
DR. RICE: Well, first of all, the President I think made
clear from the very beginning -- I think bin Laden was only
mentioned once in the joint session speech, because he's wanted
to make clear that this isn't just one person, this is a
network, it's the al Qaeda leadership, it's the fact that they
have training basis in Afghanistan, it's the fact that they are
-- they effectively have safe harbor there.
This is not just a person, and I think that he wanted to make
very clear that this isn't just a person but, rather, that
this is a network and the various nodes that are out there. And
while going after assets of those who harbor them is one phase
of it, an equally important part of this is cleaning out these
nodes through cooperation with intelligence and law enforcement
around the world.
Q: Is it not part of phase one still to capture bin Laden
and his chief lieutenants in Afghanistan?
DR. RICE: I'm not going to comment on that. The President's
been very clear on what his -- what he expected the Taliban to
do. And he's been very clear that the most important thing from
his point of view is that they will not have the safe-harbor
that they have had to plan, train and provide terrorists around
the world, that that's the most important thing.
MS. HUGHES: I'll refer you to the President's own discussion
yesterday, and his statement about the goals for the operation,
which was to disrupt their ability to use Afghanistan as a base
of operations, to deliver humanitarian aid, and to clear the way
for ongoing, sustained and relentless operations. And that's
what he sees as the goals of this first phase of the military
Q: But are you saying that it's misleading to say that
there's been a shift in emphasis from the initial statements,
where you talked him and --
Q: We had the wanted dead or alive quote, which was --
DR. RICE: There is no shift in emphasis. The goal here is to
root out the terrorists so that they cannot do the kinds of
things that they did on September 11th. And there are several
facets to that, including bringing down the al Qaeda network and
its leadership, and making certain that they can't do the kinds
of things that they have been doing. But there is no change.
Q: If I could just follow on that, because it's in the same
sphere. The Negroponte letter to the Security Council, how
much of that is pro forma and how much of that is indicative of
this broader campaign that you talk about?
DR. RICE: John, the -- what has been clear is that there are
several elements to this campaign, that this is a broad
campaign, a broad war on terrorism, in which the goal is to make
sure that countries understand -- the President chose his words
very carefully -- those who continue to harbor terrorists. The
President made very clear that there aren't good terrorists and
bad terrorists, you can't hate al Qaeda and love other terrorist
organizations. And I think that is being carried out here in
several diplomatic --
Q: Can you tell us what happened with the release of
evidence, with -- you know, Powell said one thing, you said
another, Powell backtracked. Then the evidence is getting
released and Blair is posting it on the Internet. (Laughter.)
DR. RICE: Well, I may want to quarrel with that
characterization to begin with. (Laughter.)
The goal was always to get information out in a way that was
useful to the campaign. And the piece of this that was most
useful to the campaign from the American point of view was to
brief NATO so that they could remove the "if" in Article V, to
brief governments around the world about the information that we
And let me just be very clear on what the nature of this was.
This was not an effort to sit down and give every fact about the
September 11th event and al Qaeda's links to it. This
group has a history, and so this was an historical case already.
Also, after all, bin Laden had been indicted for the bombings of
our embassies in Africa.
So that case was made. That case was made at -- that case was
made at NATO. The British wanted to release a public version
of a similar case and, as I said, it isn't as if the United
States and Britain sat down and said, you do this, you do that.
Both were acting on this broad strategy, and the United States
doesn't have to do everything. I think the British did a very
fine job, it was a very good paper. And I think it made the case
If there was any doubt, of course, there was bin Laden
yesterday saying, in effect, you know, look at me. So I don't
think there was ever any doubt about this. And we did make very
clear to the Taliban which kept asking -- publicly to the
Taliban, which kept asking about proof, that we didn't see this
as a regime that was that concerned with western jurisprudence.
Q: Could you just tell us when General Myers said, yes, sir
-- what did the President then do or say?
DR. RICE: The President sat back and said, all right, then
we're ready to go. But then on Saturday, I just want to
emphasize, he wanted to have one final check with Secretary
Rumsfeld there, to hear what Secretary Rumsfeld had found, to
hear one more time from Secretary Powell, to hear one more time
from the DCI and others, and one more time from the Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs, and then he gave the order to go.
Q: And where were those meetings, which rooms -- the Tuesday,
Friday and Saturday meetings?
DR. RICE: Tuesday was in the Situation Room, Friday was in
the Situation Room. Saturday was at Camp David with several
people on teleconference.
Q: Was Rumsfeld up at Camp David or --
Dr. Rice: On teleconference
Q: Aspen Lodge? (Laughter)
Dr. Rice: No
Dr. Rice: Yes.
Q: Bright and Sunny? (Laughter)
The Press: Thank You.
GOVERNMENT, TRANSCRIPT, WHITE HOUSE
/U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/
Copyright 2001, U.S. Newswire
"The U.S. military commander in charge of the unconventional war on terrorism is a forceful proponent of conventional forces who describes himself as 'just a good old boy from Texas.'"
"But over the past year, Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, head of the U.S. Central Command, has been living in a world redefined by a single terrorist attack -- the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, in which 17 American sailors were killed.
"Since that bombing last Oct. 12, Franks has been consumed with tracking terrorist activity and thwarting threats against American forces -- a campaign that has thrust him into the arena of nonconventional warfare, associates said. Now, as the regional commander-in-chief of U.S. military operations from Egypt to Turkmenistan -- a 25-nation swath that includes Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf states -- Franks finds himself leading the military's response to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington."