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Special Event

President Clinton Announces Initiative to Fight Cyber- Terrorism

Aired January 7, 2000 - 9:27 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Live to the White House. President Clinton talking about cyber-terrorism and the threat that presents in the year 2000.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... President Rose (ph) of James Madison University, who has worked with eight other institutions of higher education to do information technology security training; and Dick Clark (ph) from the NSC, and all the others who worked on this project.

I want to talk just a moment about steps we are taking today to defend our citizens from those who would use cyberspace to do us harm. There has never been a time like this in which we have the power to create knowledge and the power to create havoc, and both those powers rest in the same hands.

We live in an age when one person sitting at one computer can come up with an idea, travel through cyberspace, and take humanity to new heights. Yet someone can sit at the same computer, hack into a computer system, and potentially paralyze a company, a city or a government.

Thanks to the hard work of many people, our computer systems were ready for Y2K, but that experience did underscore how really interconnected we all are. Today our critical systems, from power structures to air traffic control, are connected and run by computers. We must make those systems more secure so that America can be more secure.

Today we are releasing a national plan to defend America's cyberspace -- the product of a three-year effort. This plan is not the end of the discussion, but the beginning of a dialogue with Congress, with the American people, and especially with the private sector. We need to do more to bring people into the field of computer security.

That's why I am proposing a new program that will offer college scholarships to students in the field of computer security in exchange for their public service afterward. This program will create a new generation of computer security specialists who will work to defend our nation's computers. We also need to accelerate and broaden our research into computer security. Today I'm proposing to create a new institute that will fill research gaps that neither public nor private sectors are filling today.

The Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection will bring to bear the finest computer scientists and engineers from the private sector, from universities and from other research facilities to find ways to close these gaps.

As part of the 2001 budget, I'm requesting $91 million for these and other reforms, as part of an overall $2 billion budget to help meet our security challenges. I will work hard to get these measures passed. I will continue to work equally hard to uphold the privacy rights of the American people as well as the proprietary rights of American businesses.

As I said before, it is essential that we do not undermine liberty in the name of liberty.

Information technology has helped to create the unprecedented prosperity we enjoy at the end of the 20th century. This morning we will announce that the unemployment rate for all of this past year was 4.2 percent. That's the lowest in 30 years, the lowest annual unemployment rate since 1969, the lowest annual minority unemployment rates for African-Americans and Hispanics ever recorded.

It is important to recognize the role technology has played in this remarkable economic prosperity. But it is also important to recognize the challenges that we face out there in the security area.

I hope that this will be a completely nonpartisan issue, and that we will work together to ensure that information technology will create unprecedented prosperity in the 21st century in an atmosphere and environment that makes all Americans more secure.

Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Governor Bush of Florida is appealing to you to rescind the INS order regarding Elian Gonzalez. Is that something you would even consider?

CLINTON: I believe that they followed the law and the procedures. This is a volatile and difficult case, and those who want to challenge it will have to follow the law and the procedures. I think that's the only way to do this. We need to keep this out of the political process as much as possible within the established legal channels.

QUESTION: Are you satisfied with the cooperation that you've been getting from the Israeli and Syrian negotiators in Shepherdstown?

CLINTON: Yes, this is difficult stuff. This is very hard, but let me say, they're working hard and they're trying to find ways to resolve their differences. And they're trying to imagine the end of the road here. It's a difficult, difficult set of negotiations, but we're working in a steady way and I'm satisfied that everybody's working in good faith.

QUESTION: How long do you expect this to take?

CLINTON: I don't know -- until we finish.

QUESTION: Mr. President, how do you see your role in Shepherdstown to get these talks moving?

CLINTON: Oh, I don't want to characterize that. You know, I just try to get people together and identify what they have in common and identify what their differences are; try to get people to keep in mind the big picture at the end; what we want, in this case, what we hope and pray the Middle East will look like in five years or 10 years from now. And then try to work these things through to the end.

But we're just trying to be helpful, and I hope we are and we're working at it. So I hope you'll wish us well. I've got to get up there.

Thank you very much.

HEMMER: President Clinton live from the White House, there. Three topics to touch on.

Number one, cyber-terrorism and the new programs announced by the president. He is seeking $91 million in new security programs in next year's budget, fiscal year 2001, including new training and college scholarships in that program as well.

We also heard from the president on Governor Jeb Bush out of Florida talking about trying to get the reversal in the INS decision to send Elian Gonzalez back to his father in Cuba. President Clinton saying the INS, quote, "followed the law" in what he considers a difficult case.

Now the president heads off to West Virginia, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, for the ongoing peace talks between Israel and Syria. President Clinton classifying it as, quote, "difficult stuff." When asked how long it may take, he said, "I don't know." Off to West Virginia now, though. Those talks continue. We'll let you know if there's news out of that.

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