Skip to main content
CNN.com /TRANSCRIPTS
CNN TV
EDITIONS
SERVICES
CNN TV
EDITIONS


CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

White House Press Secretary Gives Daily Briefing

Aired July 23, 2002 - 12:22   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you to Washington now, where White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer is giving his daily briefing -- let's listen in.

(IN PROGRESS)

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: ... promote adoption in the United States.

Then the president is going to have two meetings with members of Congress, two different groups, one of Republicans, one of Democrats, on his plan for homeland security. And that will be in the Cabinet Room. The meeting with the Democrats will begin at approximately 3:00, last for approximately 30 minutes, and then with Republicans members at 4:00. I anticipate a stakeout after that.

And the president also this morning spoke with President Megawati to express his appreciation for her government's efforts to combat extremism and terrorism at home and to work with other leaders in the region who are similarly committed to the fight against terror. The two leaders discussed strengthening cooperation between the United States and Indonesia, and they also discussed Secretary Powell's upcoming trip to the region.

With that, I'm happy to take your questions.

QUESTION: The Israelis today are calling the military strike on Gaza City justified. Prime Minister Sharon called it, quote, "One of our biggest successes." Nine children died in the attack, obviously. What's the White House reaction? Has the president spoken with Sharon or conveyed any concerns?

FLEISCHER: The president has said repeatedly that Israel needs to be mindful of the consequences of its actions in order to preserve the path to peace in the Middle East. The president views this as a heavy-handed action that is not consistent with dedication to peace in the Middle East. This message has been conveyed to Israel this morning through the embassy in Israel, and that is what the president thinks about this.

QUESTION: Is the president going to call Sharon directly?

FLEISCHER: This message has been conveyed to the prime minister's office through the embassy. Included in the conveyance of the message of the president's thoughts about this is the regret of the innocent lives, including the children's lives, that have been lost.

QUESTION: Israel's response to that has been, it's in a war as is the United States, and in war, innocent lives are lost. What is the difference from the president's perspective in Israel's action in Gaza and the United States' actions against Al Qaida in Afghanistan where innocent lives have also been lost?

FLEISCHER: It's inaccurate to compare the two, and the crucial difference here being that in this instance in Gaza, this was a deliberate attack against a building in which civilians were known to be located, and that does separate it from the activities taken.

There are going to be losses of innocents in times of war, and I think that that's recognized around the world. What's always important is, in pursuit of military objections as the United States does in Afghanistan, to always exercise every restraint to minimize those losses of life.

But in this case, what happened in Gaza was a known attack against a building in which innocents were found.

QUESTION: And so, it's the president's position that the Israeli commanders did not take sufficient care in avoiding civilian causalities, and even beyond that, targeted the building where there are known civilians. That borders on some transgression on the laws of war, it sounds like.

FLEISCHER: I've given you the president's statement about what he thinks about this.

QUESTION: How will this complicate your efforts to encourage Palestinian reform?

FLEISCHER: Well, the president continues to call on all parties to honor their responsibilities, to make certain that the political solutions are found to bring peace to the region, that the president, this president, has been and will continue to be a big defender of Israel and Israel's right to self defense.

The president will also speak out as he sees appropriate, as he sees fit, depending on the events. At the end of the day, all parties must continue to remember the responsibility is to pursue a political path, a political process, so that negotiations can be successful, so the Arabs, the Palestinians and the Israelis can work together side- by-side in peace.

QUESTION: Ari, what evidence does the administration have that the Israelis knew that civilians would be in that building and that the attack would result in a loss of innocent civilian lives?

FLEISCHER: These were apartment buildings that were targeted.

QUESTION: And an Israeli defense worker said that, you know, they're sorry for any harm, but regretfully, this is a result of terror, which uses civilians as human shields. If the Hamas leader had civilians there to protect him...

FLEISCHER: Again, this president has been and will continue to be a lead defender of Israel around the world and will speak out about Israel's right to self-defense.

This is an instance in which the United States and Israel do not see eye to eye.

QUESTION: Getting on to domestic issues for a second, homeland defense, first of all, can you define better what these meetings are? Are these Senate Dems who are coming or is this a mix?

FLEISCHER: We'll release the list after the meeting, as is our usual practice. My information here is not clear on whether it's House or Senate.

But the purpose of the meeting is, as you know, the House of Representatives looks like it may be able to vote this week, before they leave, on legislation to create a Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security, and the president wants to talk to members of Congress about this to make certain that the legislation that they work on comports with his requirements, his request to the Congress so that this agency can be set up in a way that maximizes the defense of our nation by providing flexibility in management, flexibility in personnel, flexibility in funding, so that this is an agency that is bogged down or impossible to move quickly as events would require in the effort to combat terror.

QUESTION: So is that primarily his goal, to use this meeting to make the pitch on the flexible management that the White House views as critical?

FLEISCHER: Well, I think it's going to be hear any concerns that members of Congress may have that they want to bring up, but also to express from the president...

PHILLIPS: White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer giving his daily briefing today. The main topic of discussion: the Middle East. Still standing by the president and the White House calling the attack in Gaza "heavy-handed."

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com.





 
 
 
 


 Search   

Back to the top