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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.
Question: 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 meeting.
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.
Question: 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 different fronts.
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.
Question: 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.
Question: 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 military operations.
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.
Question: 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.
Question: 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.
Question: 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 that.
Question: 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 plan.
Question: 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.
Question: 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.
Question: 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.
Question: A couple of points. Can I just clarify, then, the final go order happened Friday? Or you described it as sort of Friday into Saturday.
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.
Question: 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.
Question: 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 forward?
Ms. Hughes: That's right.
Dr. Rice: And that the military is prepared to carry it out.
Question: 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.
Question: 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 Afghanistan.
Question: When was the first time he talked about that?
Question: 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 so far?
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 fronts.
Do you remember any more details about the national security part?
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 the weekend.
Question: 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.
Question: 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 bases.
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.
Question: 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 different fronts.
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 President.
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 profound.
Question: 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.
Question: 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?
Question: And also today, is he watching anything on TV, the bombing today or --
Question: 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 we wait.
Dr. Rice: Now we wait, right.
Mr. Fleischer: Last question.
Question: 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.
Question: 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.
Question: 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.
Question: -- 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 was.
Question: 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.
Question: 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 operation.
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.
Question: 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.
Question: 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 wait for?
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 --
Question: 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 sacrifice.
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.
Question: 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 strategy.
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 channels.
Question: Did you coordinate the speeches of the two leaders?
Question: Was he sort of -- on the timing of the launching of military action?
Dr. Rice: Prime Minister Blair was -- they discussed the timing just before it went, but the timing was a decision of the President.
Question: 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.
Question: Could you provide an update on the financial pieces, please?
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 we speak.
Question: 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.
Question: 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 operation.
Question: 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 --
Question: 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.
Question: 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 --
Question: 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 had.
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 very effectively.
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.
Question: 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.
Question: 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.
Question: Was Rumsfeld up at Camp David or --
Dr. Rice: On teleconference.
Question: Aspen Lodge? (Laughter.)
Dr. Rice: No.
Dr. Rice: Yes.
Question: Bright and sunny? (Laughter.)
The Press: Thank you.
END 2:45 P.M. EDT
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