U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing #43, 00-05-12
From: The Department of State Foreign Affairs Network (DOSFAN) at <http://www.state.gov>
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing
I N D E X
Friday, May 12, 2000
Briefer: Richard Boucher
1-13 Access to the Department by Members of the Media
1-4,6-7,9-10 Terms and Conditions of Media Access and Escort Policy
4-8,12 FBI Testimony on Foreign Intelligence Agents Posing as Media
9,10-12 Diplomatic Security Assistant Secretary's Testimony Yesterday
ETHIOPIA / ERITREA
13-14 Reports of new Fighting Along the Ethiopia / Eritrea Border
AFRICA / EUROPE
14-15 US Involvement / Concern for Crises in Africa vs Crises in Europe
15 US Military C-17 Loaded with Ammunition for Jordanian Reinforcements
15 Discussions with Nigeria / Secretary's Conversation with Nigerian
16 Jesse Jackson's Role in Diplomatic Efforts
21 Prospects for the Use of US Troops
23 Passage of the Africa Trade Bill
16-17 Raid on Media Most Headquarters
17-18 Opening of New US Embassy in Moscow
21 Russian Offer of Assistance with Fires in New Mexico
ISRAEL / WEST BANK AND GAZA
18 State Department Public Announcement on Possibility of Terrorist
18 Upcoming Presidential Elections
19 Upcoming Vote on Permanent Normal Trade Relations For China
21 PRC Statements on National Missile Defense System
19 Update on Situation and Violence
20 Arrest of Suspect in I Love You Virus / Possible Extradition
21 Elian Gonzalez Case and Status of Visa Requests
22 Government of Indonesia and Aceh's Armed Independence Group Sign
Cease-Fire Agreement in Geneva
22 Secretary Albright's Upcoming Meeting with Foreign Minister
23 Reaction to Honor Killings in Pakistan
23 Status of US Embassy in Berlin
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, MAY 12, 2000, 1:00 P.M.
(ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, everybody. I'd like to, off the top, talk
about two issues: one is a reminder to everybody in the press corps about
your building passes, and the second is we'll get back to foreign policy
and talk about Ethiopia.
Over the last day or two as we've talked about access to this building,
I've seen a number of reports and have a number of questions that indicate
that perhaps some in the press corps - I'm sure not everybody - don't
understand the terms and conditions of their building passes. And I want to
remind everybody here, and even more the people out there in the audience,
other people from the press, that your building pass allows you into this
building for the sake of convenience so you can work here, but it does
not authorize you for access above the second floor. You have your
work areas here, you have the cafeteria access, and we've tried to make
As you all know, we close the door in your face and lock you up on evenings
and weekends to this limited space, but during working hours you are
allowed to go to the cafeteria. But any appointments, any visits, any
discussions, any time you need to go above the second floor, you're
supposed to be escorted. And you've all signed a piece of paper when you
got your pass that said you understood that, so I find it a little
disconcerting to have people on television and elsewhere saying that they
are not subject to any restriction.
So let me remind you of those restrictions and tell you - right here and
right now - that we do have guards stationed in this building at various
points at various times. They check my badge, which I have right there, and
they will check your badge. And if you're found above the second floor with
a press badge and not an escort, the badge will be taken away from you and
you will not get it back. So there's zero tolerance for this, and we
do have ways of checking.
So I just need to remind people of that. I think most of you are quite
aware of that and do follow the rules, but I wanted to be public about the
fact those are the rules and we expect people to follow them.
We recognize, as the Secretary said, our job is diplomacy; our job is to
work with you and the foreign press; they're an integral part of what we do
and we want them here to be able to work here under safe and secure
QUESTION: This is not the way it's been going - or this is not the way
operations have been for many, many years. So there are lots of questions I
could ask about it, but then we'd be here all day and we don't want -
neither of us wants to do that.
But if you're invited upstairs to talk to somebody confidentially - I
assume officials at State still have the right to speak to reporters if
they wished without getting clearance and without surveillance of their
conversations and without tape recordings of their conversations - why
would a reporter want to reveal to the State Department who he's going to
see? And why should he be required to reveal that, any more than when he
calls him up on the telephone and talks to him - unless the State
Department is tapping our phones, which is my next question.
QUESTION: It's happened. Kissinger tapped phones. I don't know why. You
know, we're getting back to that period of paranoia. I would assume that
MR. BOUCHER: We're not tapping your phone, Barry, because we imagine it's
probably just the same things that you say on the microphone here.
MR. BOUCHER: Let's get back to serious stuff here. Look, this building is
a secure facility. We have classified information here. People without
clearances need to be escorted when they're going to areas that have
QUESTION: To classified information?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, which is virtually any office in this building, except
for most of the first and second floor. That's why you have access to that
area. I'm not sure, in fact, if there may even be offices on the first and
second floor where there's classified information, but we'll make sure if
there are that they're protected, too.
But the issue, Barry, is that we can't have people who don't have security
clearances wandering around this building any more. That was the policy for
But I do want to make clear, in response to some of your comments, that you
say this is the way - it is not the way things were done. That may be true.
There may have been instances when people did not implement the policy. But
that's where the rules have been. That's where each of you have signed a
piece of paper when you got a badge that said that was the rule that you
acknowledged. So if you have not followed the rule, or our offices have
not followed the rule, we're going to make sure they do because that's
the way the rules have always been.
QUESTION: This sounds like a protest but this is in the context of trying
to figure out what you folks are doing, because there is news value in this
MR. BOUCHER: It's not a --
QUESTION: So when somebody has an appointment, a reporter has an
appointment upstairs --
MR. BOUCHER: You can talk to you - if you're talking to a confidential
source who refuses to be acknowledged, and he wants to talk to you in his
office, he can get on the elevator and come downstairs and get you and
bring you upstairs.
QUESTION: But they're usually generally busy and, as you know --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, you have to talk to less busy people, Barry. I'm sorry
QUESTION: No, no.
MR. BOUCHER: You've got to be escorted. They can send somebody with
QUESTION: Richard, let's not - please don't make this a frivolous thing.
It isn't a frivolous thing. You know and I know, and a lot of people in
this room know that, but maybe most of the people who watch this on
television, that most solid information, important information here, is not
obtained at the briefing, with all due respect. The briefing is a
clearinghouse for, you know, the day-to-day stuff, but basically reporters
talk to officials - and if they didn't, they shouldn't be reporters.
So I'm saying those officials are often busy people, and they might say,
"Why don't you come up Tuesday around 2 o'clock and I think I'll have a
little time and I'll see you." So you troop up there at 2 o'clock, and
maybe at 2:20 he or she gets free and you talk for a little bit. And this
is a confidential conversation. So when a reporter is escorted into a
meeting like that, who finds out that he's gone up and seen Official A, B
or C? Who is told this? Who is surveilling the reporter?
MR. BOUCHER: Barry, nobody is surveilling you. We may or may not talk to
each other; in fact, we usually do. But in the end, if you have an
appointment with somebody in this building, that person can escort you;
that person can send somebody to escort you. If they make the arrangements
to see you, they will make the arrangements to see you in the proper
Okay? Any cleared employee can escort you up there, so they can ask their
secretary to do it or a staff assistant, or they'll find somebody.
QUESTION: Richard, first of all, I'm a little surprised because I didn't
see any reports where anyone was saying that they had unlimited access to
the building, and I'm a little surprised at the kind of verbal spanking
that that was obviously intended to be, at least a public one designed to
get the message out to whoever your critics may be on the Hill. And I also
find it a little bit disconcerting that as the FBI, not us or anyone else,
the FBI and this own building, which is trying to basically place blame for
grievous security lapses on one reporter, according to Mr. Carpenter
yesterday, who was found wandering around the building. It doesn't make too
much sense to me.
Why this little speech?
MR. BOUCHER: Matt, let me be absolutely clear. We're not trying to blame
the press corps or any individual reporter for security lapses that we
recognize have occurred in this building. Frankly, if you haven't been
escorted to your appointments, that is a lapse as much on the part of the
people who made the appointments and didn't provide an escort, didn't say,
"I'll come down and get you," as it was on your part.
It's just that there has been reporting and questions that I've gotten, but
also news reports and articles, that say that press have unrestricted
access to this building. That's not true. There are buildings in town,
frankly, where their security system is such they protect themselves inside
their offices; they let press wander around. There are other buildings
where there is no workspace and no entry. We're somewhere in the middle.
I'm just saying I've seen stuff in the reports for the last two days that
have indicated that the rules are not well understood, and I wanted to
remind you of that. But I am not - in any way - blaming you for the fact
that we lost a laptop or one of our conference rooms was bugged or, you
know, that we don't necessarily follow our rules as well as we should. And
the Secretary is absolutely determined to make sure that the employees of
this building, and the cleared employees of this building in particular,
follow all the security procedures the way they're supposed to be
QUESTION: Richard, can we start dealing with the substance of this, which
is the existence or non-existence of foreign agents among the State
MR. BOUCHER: Do you want to go right - is that part of this subject or
should we --
MR. BOUCHER: All right, let's do that one then, too.
QUESTION: The FBI yesterday said that they did - that there were such
foreign intelligence agents, hostile agents. Yesterday, they said that, if
there were any, they would already have told the State Department. So,
putting those together, you know who they are and how many there are and
all about it. So yesterday you said you didn't know.
So can you clarify what you know and what the truth of all this is?
MR. BOUCHER: Let me try. First of all, I want to make clear we do have a
very strong working relationship with the FBI on all security matters. We
and the FBI regularly exchange information on law enforcement and
intelligence issues, but I do have to say that at this time we are not
aware of any information that any members of the foreign press are
utilizing the media as cover for intelligence activities at the State
QUESTION: What, was this guy just lying or did he misspeak, or what?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we've seen different statements. I can make quite
clear we just don't have any information. We haven't been provided such
QUESTION: The FBI put out a statement last night saying that this sector
chief, or whoever he was who testified to this, was speaking about
historical things - which he clearly was not.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm afraid that's a follow-up question for the
QUESTION: Right, okay. So you're denying that - this FBI agent's
MR. BOUCHER: I'm just saying we work very closely with the FBI, but we're
not aware of any information from them or otherwise that members of the
foreign press working here are doing it as a cover for intelligence
The FBI has raised some serious allegations in the testimony, and the
Diplomatic Security Service has asked the FBI about this matter, and we'll
see if they provide any more information.
QUESTION: Could we get also - could you deal, kindly, with the fact that
Albright seemed totally surprised and nonplused? Can you address, as the
State Department's Spokesman, the giving of public testimony without - if
that's the case - without informing the Secretary of State or members of
her staff in advance that she's going to be - her building is going to be
QUESTION: It was the New York Times, though.
QUESTION: Well, the Times may be part of the government or part of the
press; I'm not sure. But the question is whether it was appropriate for an
FBI official to do that; and, indeed, had she and other people like her not
been told in advance.
MR. BOUCHER: Let me say a couple things. I mean, one is that there is a
historical context to this that appears in newspapers. We all have, in the
past, known TASS correspondents during the days of the Soviet Union who
were very well dressed and very knowledgeable of other things as well. And
so I'm sure if you look back at the history of expulsions, you'll find some
people under journalist cover at that time.
But, you know, at this point we're not aware of any information any foreign
members of our press corps are involved in intelligence activities under
this media cover. At the same time, I guess there is a system within the
Administration, when we're talking about other people's business, we try to
coordinate with them. It may not be a perfect system. I don't, frankly,
know if this was in the testimony or in the questions and answers.
Obviously, when somebody is talking based on their personal knowledge or in
the question-and-answer period, it's not something you can necessarily
anticipate in advance.
QUESTION: It was part of his testimony.
MR. BOUCHER: So it was part of his testimony. It might have been looked
at here, but I think any surprise on the part of the Secretary where she
has not been informed because no one here is aware of the existence of
intelligence agents using media as cover.
QUESTION: We're saying two things that are very close. It's clear to me
what your position is, that you're not aware of any - et cetera.. I'm also
asking the subsidiary question whether the FBI told the State Department
what it was going to say publicly, and how does the Secretary of State feel,
if indeed, you weren't told in advance? Is that the way you operate with
your close --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I guess you have two questions here. You have: if
there are spies in the State Department press corps, we would expect to be
QUESTION: Well, you were yesterday.
MR. BOUCHER: Let me finish my answer first. If there are spies in the
State Department press corps, we would expect to be told. We have not been
told and, therefore, one would be surprised at such reports.
Second of all, you know, are we surprised that somebody would say this.
Well, are we surprised by the fact it was said or by the substance of it? I
guess we're more surprised by the substance of it because we're not aware
of the existence of this situation.
QUESTION: Richard, I've been coming to this building for 12 years, and
have been able to go to appointments above the second floor without any
difficulty. At one point, I was told by Mr. Foley that if I'm above the
second floor I have to be going to an appointment or returning to the press
room from that appointment; I shouldn't be just sort of wandering around,
but that there was a sort of, well, if I was caught above the second floor
and then I would have to show that, in fact, somebody was expecting
me in a room.
Now what you're saying is that even though you have no proof that reporters
are involved in espionage, you're changing those rules. And I want to know
why you're changing the rules if you have no proof there's anybody involved
MR. BOUCHER: I want to make absolutely clear we are not changing the
QUESTION: It's just the enforcement.
MR. BOUCHER: We are - well, if we're changing the enforcement on you,
we're changing enforcement on our offices because, as I said, if there is
any reporter that hasn't been following the rules every time there's an
appointment that's not escorted, then there's an office that hasn't been
following the rules. And we'll look into that as well.
QUESTION: But there's no evidence --
MR. BOUCHER: But you all got your building passes under these conditions.
You signed a statement saying I understand those are the terms and
conditions. If they haven't been followed, then I guess we'll just have to
add that to the list of rules that maybe we haven't followed as well as we
should have, and make clear the Secretary's determination for all of us who
work here - obviously you don't work for her but the rest of us do -
is that we do follow the security rules.
And she has said before she is determined to make sure we do, that we
become as professional in security as we are in anything else. And we have
said, and she has said before, that some of these lapses in security were
not the question of the rules; the questions of people not following them
well enough. So we may just have another instance here, but the fact is we
are determined at this point to follow these rules.
QUESTION: Two questions. You said very carefully twice "foreign press." I
presume that you mean the entire press corps, including domestic.
MR. BOUCHER: I think that's a response to the specific allegation. I
think I can safely say that we're not aware of any American press that are
using this as cover for intelligence activities, either.
QUESTION: Would you comment - this is a little diversion but very close -
on the report two days ago concerning the Israeli tapping of White House
and Department of State and various other agencies? Are you pursuing
MR. BOUCHER: We don't have any information to substantiate that.
QUESTION: Is the file open still?
MR. BOUCHER: No. I don't - it's not - first, I don't think the indication
was that it would be a file over here, but we don't have anything on that
at all. You can check with the FBI. I think that was where they said there
might be a case. But I think they've spoken to that as well.
QUESTION: Has there been any further conversation with the FBI about the
statement since the statement was made?
MR. BOUCHER: We've been talking to the FBI. We talk to the FBI all the
QUESTION: No, no, I mean the specific - they said something. The
Secretary seemed surprised. And today you say --
MR. BOUCHER: We don't have anything --
QUESTION: -- we don't even know what this is all about. Were there any
conversations on that point in the last 24 hours or so?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: All right, then here's the question. Here's a question. Is the
State Department - because there are two schools of thought here. The FBI
says it knows something has gone on, and you say it ain't going on as far
as we know. So since you're in touch with them, I'm asking the State
Department whether they have asked the FBI or been told by the FBI whether
the FBI is engaged in any surveillance, such as by wiretapping or
eavesdropping - the two being different under the law and the rules are
different, but both being of course violations of privacy unless authorized.
Are they engaged in any surveillance of reporters, foreign or Americans, at
the State Department, as far as you know?
MR. BOUCHER: Barry, that's not a question for us. That's something you'd
have to ask them. But I don't - I don't think one could draw that kind of
conclusion or suspicion from anything that I have said or that they have
QUESTION: I think you could draw from what they have said. If they think
there are spies running around here, then they're not defending the country
by getting all the information they can about these spies - where their
drops are, how their leads are secret code messages to the government of
Azerbaijan. I mean, they would want to know this.
There has been wiretapping of reporters in the not-too-distant past, and
there is a certain, you know, mental state that a lot of FBI people share
with other FBI people. They think there are spies every place. That's their
job: to be suspicious. It may not be your job to be suspicious, but it's my
job to ask you if they're tapping us and if you know they are.
MR. BOUCHER: All right. On the question if we know if they're tapping
you: first of all, I would not draw that kind of conclusion; second of all,
that is a question for you to ask them. But if we're not aware of any
information that any members of the foreign press are utilizing the media
as cover for intelligence activities at the State Department, one would
assume that if we had somehow been informed of investigatory tools being
used against a foreign journalist at the State Department, that we would
not be making that statement.
So I have to conclude from what I'm saying that we don't have any
indication of an investigation like that going on or those tools being
QUESTION: Thank you. I have a couple of questions. First of all, if this
wasn't true and the State Department knew it wasn't true yesterday, why
didn't David Carpenter say something about it? He was sitting right next to
the man who testified that there were these people. It seems a little bit
strange that Mr. Carpenter, who would obviously have knowledge of this,
wouldn't say right then and there that we don't understand this to be the
case or something, as weak or as strong as he felt it needed to be.
He said nothing to refute it.
And my second point is that you - sort of back to Matt's point. You
absolutely are giving us a verbal spanking, and that's not questionable.
And I think that if you had listened to reports, for example, that I made -
and I've been told that this is one that has made some people angry -
people asked us if it is possible, technically possible, with a press pass
to get unrestricted access to the building. The truth is, you can swipe
your press pass you and can get to the seventh floor and you can walk out
the door. And that is what we were asked; at least, that is what I was
asked, and that is what I said.
And you need to make a distinction between saying that we could roam all
over the building - which nobody would say and none of us did, I'm sure -
or to say that, technically, is there anything stopping you; as in, can you
swipe your pass and only get to the second floor. There is a big difference
between saying that these passes can get you all over the building, if you
maliciously wanted to go try to get all over the building. You could if
nobody stopped you. That was the question, and that's different than saying
that we are roaming all over the building, that any of us have any
intention of doing so, or are doing so. And I don't think anybody in the
press would want to say that we are, because we're not, and Mr. Carpenter
made that clear, that it wasn't us.
So I find it strange that the sort of wrath about this situation would be
turned on us today, which it has been. And also back to the Mr. Carpenter,
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. I don't what information Mr. Carpenter had at the time
and whether he felt comfortable in an open hearing giving a definitive
answer at that point, at that time. Some of these things, one wants to come
back and check carefully before one enunciates something to the world,
whether in testimony or not.
I did not try to criticize anyone's specific reports. Yes, it is true that
when you come out of the cafeteria you can hop the elevator and go to other
parts of this building. There are parts of this building, like the
Secretary's office on the seventh floor, or the INR unit where you probably
wouldn't get in, I don't think, where your passes won't go through the
readers and get you in those doors.
But, yes, you could get to a lot of places in these buildings unescorted
where you're not supposed to be. That's why we rely on the integrity of you
all and the integrity of our offices to follow the rules. Now, we have had
people saying that these rules may not always be enforced. We have people
on TV saying I go up and down various places all the time. So I want to
remind people what the rules are.
QUESTION: There is a difference between "can you," "can you technically
do so," and "do you" or "would you" or "are they."
MR. BOUCHER: I think if you read the transcript of this briefing, you'll
find that you can, and that sometimes people have said they do.
QUESTION: So the fact that only one journalist has ever been caught doing
anything like that, and we don't even know that it was for nefarious
purposes, that's something that needs to be distinguished as well, because
we obviously don't.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I just want to make clear that there are people
upstairs and guards at various points at various times, and if you're found
up there without it, without an escort, we'll take your badge. And I think
people ought to know that before we do it to somebody, rather than after.
And I'm making that clear.
QUESTION: Richard, more on Mr. Carpenter. Mr. Carpenter yesterday said
that if he had his way there wouldn't be any press in this building. What
does the Secretary think of that statement, and has she expressed her
opinion to Mr. Carpenter? Is there a disagreement here?
MR. BOUCHER: I have not asked her that specific question. I think the
Secretary's point to deal with this is the fact that she did ask for a
comprehensive review of security. That top-to-bottom review, as it's called,
is being conducted by Assistant Secretary Carpenter. The review began in
early March. It's an inter-agency panel - FBI, Defense Department, CIA,
Secret Service. They recently completed their report, which it is expected
to go to the Secretary shortly.
At this point, I'm not going to comment on the findings of the report. But
that is the point at which the Secretary will deal with any recommendations
across the board on how to improve security in this building.
QUESTION: With respect to what the Secretary said yesterday, it appears
to be in direct contradiction to what Mr. Carpenter said. She made it clear
that she wanted the press to be in this building; he said he didn't want
the press. I mean, there seem to be a blatant disagreement.
MR. BOUCHER: I think I'll just leave it that way for now. What the
Secretary decides to do on security will come when she reviews the report
and its recommendations. You know she's firmly committed to improving
security, but she also has made absolutely clear that we want to be able to
work with the press in this building, including the foreign press, who need
to be here as well to do their job.
QUESTION: What do you suppose she meant when she said let's not go crazy
with this stuff? Didn't she mean that sort of Carpentarian notion or
authoritarian notion that the government would be better off if the press
weren't around? Your papers would be safe; your minds would be less
cluttered; you wouldn't be challenged; and you could probably just do
whatever you felt like all the time without ever answering to the public.
That might be a good approach by a fellow like Carpenter.
But she has spoken in familiar civil libertarian terms. Let's not go crazy
with this. People are innocent until - you know, the sort of stuff you
shouldn't have to - people shouldn't have to recite every few years. But
she did recite them, and then here's a guy working for her who's in charge
of the investigation who thinks reporters shouldn't be in the building. How
do you put those two things together? Is he working for her, or is he
working for the FBI or for some - I don't know what.
MR. BOUCHER: He works for her.
QUESTION: Well, I don't - and you think their views are consistent --
MR. BOUCHER: All right --
QUESTION: -- with each other?
QUESTION: Go ahead.
MR. BOUCHER: You all talk for a while. I'll talk later.
QUESTION: No, no, you finish.
MR. BOUCHER: Go ahead, Matt.
QUESTION: Answer. Answer. I guess answer Barry's question.
MR. BOUCHER: All right. Barry, let me try to put this in perspective and
not take your characterization as the way we see things. As I think I've
mentioned, there are buildings around this town where people work with
classified material, and if you ask about the escort policies or the access
policies, different people dealing with very classified and sensitive
information have different ways of dealing with it. And just as in
different parts of this building - where the most sensitive, the most
secret material is - we have additional safeguards.
So some places in this building I, as a Foreign Service Officer, can't go
without an escort. Okay, and I think Stape Roy made that clear from his
history as well, one of our most eminent diplomats.
So there are different ways of doing it, but generally within this building
for many years we allowed unescorted access to this building by a variety
of people. And since August '99, we've had an escort policy. The issue of
having journalists in this building working in this building, I would put
it this way. Obviously, from a security point of view, if that is your only
consideration, it would be easier for us to be one of the buildings around
town, as there are many, where there is no working space for the press
and where they're never allowed in except with escorts.
We don't do that because we're somewhere in between the buildings that let
people wander around and the buildings that require an escort for everybody
every moment. We're somewhat in between because we do want to be able to
work with you. We do want to be able to work with you and with your foreign
colleagues because part of our mission is to explain US foreign policy to
the American public and to the foreign public. We recognize that that is
your goal as well, and we want to be able to work with you. But we
have to be able to work with you under conditions that provide for adequate
security for this building. That is why the State Department finds itself
somewhere in between a free access policy and a full escort policy.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) - about this - about, actually, just the specific
FBI allegations and the fact that Mr. Carpenter, who apparently now we're
saying did not - was aware that there were - is not aware of any and that
the FBI would have told him so, that given what he knew, he probably should
have said something like we don't know in the testimony.
I would hope that the institutional memory in this building, which itself
and its members were targeted quite heavily in the '50s by this same kind
of McCarthyesque tactic of saying we know that there are communists in this
building or now, yesterday, we know that there are foreign reporters
working for hostile intelligence organizations, that the State Department
clears this up with the FBI and then comes - and then both of them come
clean and explain what actually is going on here. Because it's frightening
and ominous if he knew that there was no substance to what this FBI
agent said, and he said nothing. It's scary.
MR. BOUCHER: I will pass on the point, Matt, but I'm telling you that we
do want to be very careful about these things. We do want to give you
truthful answers that are carefully checked to make sure, and I'm not going
to try to explain while somebody - at a moment under the glare of the
headlights in the Congress - might not have said something right then that
we are able to say today. We are telling you that, at this time, we are not
aware of any information that any members of the foreign press are
utilizing the media as cover for intelligence activities at the State
QUESTION: Is the FBI going to answer you about that clarification? Have
you asked them to?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we've heard a little bit from the FBI already.
QUESTION: Have you asked them to clarify publicly?
MR. BOUCHER: We've been in touch with the FBI.
QUESTION: Could I --
MR. BOUCHER: Are we going to do Ethiopia and Eritrea one of these
QUESTION: Well, let me do one more on this and be a little more specific,
if I might. Yes, the security has been lax in the past, and until the card
readers were installed, very lax.
MR. BOUCHER: And we're going to try to upgrade that as well.
QUESTION: That's my witness. Back in 19 - in October 10th of '97, we had
a journalist come here that was a very friendly guy, a Russian guy working
for ITAR-TASS and he was doing his best to make friends with everybody in
the press corps. And after his first visit, somebody from the front office
came up and warned us that this man could be working for the GRU and to
Now, he did not come back again until earlier this year, and about February
of this year he was back. But it is common, according to Mr. - to ex-spies
for Russia, to use ITAR-TASS as a cover for the GRU. So this is one guy you
might be suspicious of. He was here. He was active.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank you. We'll look into it. Does he have a building
QUESTION: Did he have a building pass? No, I don't think so.
MR. BOUCHER: All right, let's - we appreciate any information. As the
Secretary said yesterday, anybody that wants to step forward can do
QUESTION: I have a question on China.
MR. BOUCHER: Let's change subjects. Let me talk a little bit about
Ethiopia and Eritrea. And I'll put out a complete statement, but I want to
make clear our concern about the outbreak of fighting. We deplore the
unjustified resumption of hostilities. We have urgently called - and we
continue to call on both Ethiopia and Eritrea to end the fighting and
immediately resume talks.
The OAU, Organization for African Unity, peace plan offers a fair, just and
durable solution to the conflict, and we think that's the way that they
ought to proceed. And we'll give you a more complete version of that.
Now I'll be happy to take your questions on this or other matters.
QUESTION: The PNTR --
QUESTION: Can we stay on Ethiopia-Eritrea?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Has Ambassador Holbrooke reported back to this building on the
substance of his discussions? And why was he so convinced yesterday, as
obviously he was very well informed and he said they were on the verge of
starting fighting again - and sure enough they did, probably, as someone
said, just after his plane left their airspace.
But what was it that made him so convinced that what has happened was going
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I haven't had a chance to check with him. As
you know, we've been trying now for several weeks to promote the peace
process, the OAU peace process. We had meetings in Algeria. The UN Security
Council visited there. We have been in touch with him, obviously,
throughout his trip but I don't know. I haven't gotten a personal readout,
and you might check with his staff on that one.
QUESTION: The constant statements from the US Government saying don't
worry, we will not send any US troops into Sierra Leone, there's nothing
envisioned in Ethiopia or Eritrea, Congo, all the different areas, seems to
be especially statements that are trying to make sure the Congress hears
them. And it just - some people are raising the question once again, is it
not racist to not respond in some way to any kind of injustices in
Africa if we're going to respond in Kosovo and say that it's, in part,
based on humanitarian concerns?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it is fair and necessary to reject any such
allegations because they're not true. Our approach to peacekeeping
generally has had a strong regional component. Now, regionally in Europe we
have NATO, which is the world's most effective fighting force. So, granted,
it's easier to put together an effective regional peacekeeping force or
force as appropriate for the situation in Europe because the assets are
But in other places, if you've looked at what we've done, there has
generally been a regional approach. We have, for several years now, had an
effort underway with Africans to have an African Crisis Response group, and
we've been working with them and supporting military training and things
like that. So this is, I'd say, the general approach that we've taken.
The United States has been very concerned about this situation. We have
been working actively with the parties in the region, as well as people
outside. We have been providing advice and diplomatic efforts, and we're
providing other kinds of support that we have that other people may not
have. There's an airplane arriving this afternoon in Sierra Leone with the
ammunition for the Jordanian component. We're flying that in for them.
We're willing to do other things. We've got military planners and logistics
people down in Nigeria who are talking to the Nigerians about their
possible deployments in support of the United Nations there.
So the United States is actively working with people and is providing
support where we can. That doesn't mean that the United States feels like
we have to go in with combat troops every time there's a problem.
QUESTION: We did in Somalia, and it was only when that became a debacle
that then the Administration changed the language and said that it was
going to, from that point on, deal with these kinds of issues on a regional
basis. And President Clinton has, since the fighting in Rwanda, said that
perhaps it was a mistake not to do more there.
So, once again, is this an evolutionary type of view that peacekeeping is
regional, and how can you assure even African American voters in this
country who have raised this issue this is not a racist approach to foreign
MR. BOUCHER: I think if you look at the way things have been done,
obviously this is a general approach and not an absolute rule, first of
all; that we have, in certain situations, gotten ourselves involved more.
And we do think that maybe the lesson of Somalia is that regional
peacekeeping can be more effective.
But there are different ways of looking at these things. The key here is to
have an effective force. We had forces there, a UN deployment there, that
was in the process of building up. We're now going to accelerate those
deployments, and the United States is going to provide assistance to
accelerate those deployments so that we can get an effective force not only
to oversee the implementation of the peace but to make sure it's effective
in getting the parties to observe the Lome Accords.
QUESTION: Can you say where that plane with the ammunition came from? Did
it fly from Jordan to Sierra Leone or was it Jordanian army ammunition or
MR. BOUCHER: It was Jordanian army ammunition. We're helping them get it
there. Let me go back and see if I have the exact itinerary around
US military C-17 loaded with ammunition for Jordanian reinforcements will
land in Freetown today. I have to assume it's coming from Jordan because it
is Jordanian ammunition that we're carrying for them.
QUESTION: In your contacts with the Nigerians, how much progress have you
made towards persuading them that they could - they should take part in the
response to the RUF militarily?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we've have considerable and frequent discussions with
Nigeria on this subject. The Secretary has mentioned that she has talked to
the Nigerian president about this. So we are, I guess I'd have to say deep
in discussions with the Nigerians about how to do this, and we have told
them that we are prepared to provide logistical assistance to aid them in
coming in to support the United Nations in this effort.
So I can't give you a precise moment at which something will happen, but we
have been having very intensive discussions with them.
QUESTION: Could you describe their response so far? Are they reluctant,
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think I want to describe them at this point.
We're talking together. They've had the meetings. You've seen a very strong
statement come out of their meetings with the other West African states
when they had that meeting in Nigeria two or three days ago. So they're
very concerned about the situation and we're working with them to see how
best we can help and work together in doing something.
QUESTION: When the Secretary spoke to Obasanjo two days ago, did she tell
him that she thought - or that the United States thought - that it would be
a good idea if the defense ministers of ECOWAS, when they do meet again on,
I guess, Monday if they decided to re-deploy ECOMOG? Is that what the US
thinks would --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to make up quotes for the Secretary, but that's
what we've been discussing is having - seeing if - how they could go and
help augment the UN forces.
QUESTION: The United States believes that ECOMOG should be re-deployed -
and help out the UN?
MR. BOUCHER: We think that the UN - that we should do - we should all do
what we can to make the US - the UN, the United Nations, an effective
force. And that's what we are discussing with the Nigerians and other
members. I don't want to quite make an announcement at this point.
QUESTION: Richard, on Sierra Leone still?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: You're sending Jesse Jackson there to - as an envoy of the
President. What's his brief? Who will he see? Where will he go?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the President - the White House made an announcement.
Exactly when and where he will go, I don't think we have yet. The President
has asked the Special Envoy for the Promotion of Democracy in Africa,
Reverend Jesse Jackson, to travel to work with leaders in Africa for a
peaceful resolution of this crisis. Reverend Jackson has been actively
involved in the diplomatic effort to help consolidate the peace in Sierra
QUESTION: When does he go?
MR. BOUCHER: We don't have details at this point.
QUESTION: Has he left yet?
MR. BOUCHER: No, and we don't - we'll make details known once they are
QUESTION: Does the US have any reaction to yesterday's masked raid on the
largest media conglomerate there?
QUESTION: It's a good idea.
QUESTION: I'm finishing. Let me finish. What does the action say to the
US about Putin's pledge to forward democratic reform?
MR. BOUCHER: It might surprise some of you, but we don't think it was a
good idea. The facts as we understand them is that the Russian Federal
Security Service and the tax police raided offices of the media, of Media
Today, prominent Russian politicians and media figures have questioned
whether there are political motives behind the raid, and our Embassy will
be talking to Media Most and to Russian authorities to try to further
determine the facts of this situation.
We would also note that President Putin issued a statement today saying
that, "Freedom of speech and freedom of the media are indisputable values.
The attitude towards them does not depend on the stance of the media or the
authorities liking or disliking the media."
We obviously have said before, and we believe, that freedom of the press is
central to the success of Russian democracy, and as it is to the success of
democracy in any country. So we find it disturbing when actions of
authorities seem in contradiction to the values expressed by the President
and also enshrined in the Russian constitution.
We would obviously expect the subject of press freedoms to come up in our
discussions with the Russians because we do see it as an essential part of
the development of democracy, and we would expect it will come up with
President Clinton when he comes to the Moscow Summit.
QUESTION: So you welcome President Putin's statement, then?
MR. BOUCHER: We certainly welcome the statement, but we do find
disturbing that there are actions that seem to contradict that statement.
QUESTION: Different subject?
QUESTION: No, wait, can you stay on it? You mentioned the Embassy was
going to be checking it out.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: And I noticed that today the new Embassy finally opened in
Moscow after $260 million. I'm wondering if you have anything to say. And
eavesdropping devices galore and --
MR. BOUCHER: I would love to. When I did this job before, I think I
announced three different rebuilding plans for Moscow because things kept
happening, like the Soviet Union would fall apart and we'd have to look at
it again. So I would love to have a statement for you, but I don't, so I'm
going to make one up.
We're glad that we're opening our Embassy in Moscow. It's a really good
thing. We're worked on it long and hard, and Russia is extremely important
to us. And it's good to have a secure and comfortable place to work
QUESTION: Will reporters be allowed in it?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. I'll have to check on that for you.
QUESTION: Can you elaborate at all, Richard, on the public announcement
that you issued for Israel and the West Bank of a possible danger to
MR. BOUCHER: I could read the answer in my book, or I could just tell you
no, I can't.
QUESTION: Can you read the answer in your book?
QUESTION: You have nothing to add?
QUESTION: Is the answer in your book simply the statement?
MR. BOUCHER: I have no additional specific information that I am able to
provide about this possible terrorist threat. We have no details as to the
potential target of an attack. The Department has assessed the threat to be
serious enough to warrant the issuance of a public announcement.
QUESTION: Can you say whether this is based on specific information at
least, or is this just a sort of political assessment of the way, you know,
things are going in the peace process?
MR. BOUCHER: I have no additional specific information that I'm able to
provide, and we have no details as to the potential target.
QUESTION: Another subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Dominican Republic - elections next week. There has been a lot
of violence. Do you have any --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, it won't surprise you we think elections are good
thing. The Dominican Republic will hold presidential elections on Tuesday,
May 16th. There will be over 100 international monitors present, including
the US Ambassador, Charles Manatt, and representatives of the Carter
Center. Ambassador Manatt recently said that he expects these elections
will be the most free, fair and transparent in Dominican history.
We've been working very hard with the Dominican Republic Central Electoral
Commission on the electoral process. Both the National Democratic Institute
and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems have been actively
working there as well. Thus far, the electoral campaign has been relatively
free of violence. There were two killed this year, which is obviously
regrettable, but that's compared to eight during the last presidential
elections in 1996.
We believe that the people of the Dominican Republic have a strong interest
in building and ensuring that these elections are fully free, fair and
QUESTION: What do you think about the story of the conduct of the
campaign so far? Apart from the violence, do you think it's --
MR. BOUCHER: I think at this point we'll leave that to the observers,
including our Ambassador down there. But, obviously, we're looking forward
to the election and we want to make sure it is free, fair and transparent.
QUESTION: Ten days from today, the US Congress will vote on PNTR and
China. And Congressman Sherrod Brown has said that before we do, we should
investigate, and also calling on the Administration to investigate for
slave labors in China. And, also, there was a report that China has refused
to guarantee the US that they will not sell any US - any missile or nuclear
technology to Iran, Pakistan and other countries they have been doing in
the past. How will this affect --
MR. BOUCHER: Well, as far as sort of political predictions on how various
reports may or may not affect the vote, I don't think I quite want to do
that here. I think, you know, we have expressed our concern about various
events in China. We have tried to follow up on reports of slave labor being
used, for example, and have mechanisms in place and customs officers in
China who are charged with doing that. So we do raise human rights
situations and things of concern. At the same time, we continue to
believe that passage of permanent trade relations in China and China's
entry into the WTO are very important, very valuable and important to the
United States for economic reasons, for overall stability and security, our
national security interests in the area, and that they also have a payoff
on the human rights side.
So we do follow up on reports like these, but we don't consider that a
reason not to pass this trade relations.
QUESTION: Any update on the continuous violence in Sri Lanka?
MR. BOUCHER: I can get you something on that. It shows you how long I've
been here. That's a new bureau, too. It has a new color.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelan yesterday launched an amphibious
assault near Jaffna City, continued its attacks further south on the
peninsula. There are conflicting reports about the latest violence, so I'm
not exactly sure that I'm up to date and accurate. It's hard to be
We are watching the situation closely. We continue to encourage an end to
the violence, continue to encourage a negotiated political settlement that
will provide dignity and security for all Sri Lankans while preserving Sri
QUESTION: Is anyone from the State Department talking directly with the
Sri Lankan Government or Indian Government? Anybody?
MR. BOUCHER: We have been, obviously, in close touch with the Sri Lankan
Government. We have an Embassy and an Ambassador out there. The government
of Norway, we know, has been consulting with the parties involved in the
conflict, and we've encouraged those efforts. The government of India has
offered to mediate if asked by both parties, and we have actually made
clear that we would be willing to facilitate a process if we were
So we've been in touch with other interested countries, including India,
Norway and the United Kingdom, and we'll continue our contacts with
concerned countries in the hopes of reaching a political solution
QUESTION: On that, I notice that as this latest amphibious assault began,
instead of heeding what the US had done and was urging an easing of
restrictions on the media, the government went ahead and banned all live
Do you have anything to say about that?
MR. BOUCHER: I was not aware of that, but that's certainly not the kind
of step we like to see.
QUESTION: Regarding the Philippine citizen that was arrested on the "I
Love You" virus, the FBI is saying that if he were to be charged with a
crime there, that we would consider extraditing him. Have there been any
contacts with the Filipino Government about, you know, this case? And could
you explain a little bit more about the extradition treaty?
MR. BOUCHER: I think I'll have to get you something on that. It's a legal
matter and I want to be very precise. Let me give that to you afterwards.
QUESTION: I had a follow-up on Sierra Leone, and than I wanted to ask you
about Cuba, so let me do Sierra Leone first. The Secretary General in the
last couple of days went out of his way to praise Great Britain, saying
that they originally sent their troops there just to help get British
citizens out of Sierra Leone, but then ended up expanding their role and
being quite helpful.
Given that Great Britain did expand the role of the troops once it got
there, or seemed to at least, has the Clinton Administration said that the
troops that are there only to provide the ferrying of ammunition, that the
President is in any way open to seeing if there may be other things they
can do once they're there that does not involve ground troops?
How restricted is their mission?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I want to be very careful about not drawing some kind
of parallel between British deployments of troops prepared for combat and
our flying in an airplane and the people who work on that airplane in the
delivery process. We have made quite clear that we're prepared to provide
that kind of support in other instances to the other contingents that are
deploying on an accelerated basis. We want to make sure that we make a
contribution to the accelerated deployment of the contingents that are
planning on going in.
So is this flight a precedent for other things we might do? Yes, but a
precedent for other things we might do of the same nature in providing
logistical or transportation support. There's not been discussion of US
QUESTION: Okay. And then can I go to Cuba? Given that there's only a
limited number of democratic fundraisers for Elian to play with in
Georgetown, what's the status of the visas on all the various different
people who have been issued visas?
MR. BOUCHER: The visa applications that are pending remain under review.
And I think we discussed the other day the fact that the - or we understood
the Immigration and Naturalization Service had allowed some of the
preexisting playmates to stay longer.
QUESTION: Preexisting playmates?
MR. BOUCHER: To allow some of his playmates and their families who were
already here a chance to stay longer.
QUESTION: Richard, do you have anything on whether the doctor - Ponce de
Leon, or whatever her name is - will be able to stay as well?
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have anything on that.
QUESTION: Can I go back to Russia for just two seconds? Do you know
anything about a request by FEMA for some Ilyushin planes to help deliver
water to fight the fire at Los Alamos?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it was the other way around. What we've heard about
is an offer by Russia to provide planes if necessary. And obviously we all
appreciate that kind of offer, but it will be up to FEMA to say whether
they find it useful or necessary. At this point, I don't think they've said
it was necessary.
QUESTION: Mr. Boucher, the PRC has rejected US assurances that the
National Missile Defense system would not be targeting their missiles and
would not detract from their nuclear deterrence. What can you say to the
Chinese to convince them that this is not our aim and that - and I guess I
would ask, can the National Missile Defense, as planned, in fact deter or
target Chinese missiles?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think I'd have to say you second half involves a
level of military expertise and a level of gross speculation on my part
that I'm neither qualified nor prepared to enter into.
But on the first part, I do think it's important to make clear that our
National Missile Defense is not directed against China; it's, rather,
directed, as we've stated quite clearly, against a threat from countries
that are developing missile programs or that have potential missile
programs, such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq.
We have held discussions with the Chinese on this issue. They have
expressed their concerns. But we will continue to discuss this with them.
We'll continue our dialogue and continue our efforts to explain to them the
basis for any decision to deploy National Missile Defense.
QUESTION: Can I ask you a non-foreign policy question?
MR. BOUCHER: No. (Laughter.) Sorry.
QUESTION: On your new job, are you really comfortable with us? Are you
happy? Do you like your job?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't think of anything better I'd like to do between noon
and 2:00 every day, which shows you how limited my perspectives are.
QUESTION: Earlier today in Geneva, the Indonesia and the Acehnese
separatists have signed a cease-fire, a truce. I'm wondering what the US
reaction is to that.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, we're very pleased. We're very pleased that representatives
of Aceh's armed independence group and Indonesian Government officials
signed a cease-fire in Geneva today. The Secretary, in fact, looks forward
to discussing this agreement with Foreign Minister Shihab, who will be in
Washington next Monday. She'll be meeting with him.
QUESTION: This immediate Monday coming up?
MR. BOUCHER: Three days from now they'll have a discussion and maybe even
have a chance to talk to you.
We believe the conflict in Aceh must be resolved on the basis of justice,
security, greater self-government, and economic development for the
province, within the framework of a United Indonesia. So we hope that this
cease-fire will serve to prepare the ground for a comprehensive, peacefully
negotiated settlement in Aceh.
QUESTION: Talking about human rights, Senator Tom Harkin's bill on Africa
trade bill was passed as a child labor bill also. Now, there is a child
labor problem around the world - there is a slave problem in China and
there is honor killings continuing in Pakistan. So these are all related to
human rights as per the State Department.
Any comments you have on this? How are you going to enforce that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I've quite gone through the details of the
bill yet. We're certainly pleased that the bill passed. This has been
something that we have worked on for six years. We think it's important
that we got a successful conclusion. The bill has been the centerpiece of
Administration efforts to broaden and strengthen American relationships
with Africa and the Caribbean. We greatly appreciate the sustained
bipartisan efforts of House and Senate leaders to get this important
And we think the benefits can be seen very quickly, so the President I
think has said that he is pleased the bill has passed and that he expects
to sign it next week.
QUESTION: And the honor killings going on in Pakistan?
MR. BOUCHER: That is something that we have been quite concerned about in
the past, and the Secretary has spoken about it. I'll see if I can get you
something more on that today.
QUESTION: Can you take a question, because I don't think you probably
have anything on this. But there was a report in some German papers today
that the Germans have rejected once again this compromise proposal for the
Embassy in Berlin, the security - what do you call them - the setback.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't have anything new on that. That's something that
I think the Secretary and Minister Fischer discussed the other day.
(The briefing was concluded at 2:00 P.M.)