THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Immediate Release January 10, 2001
The James S. Brady Briefing Room
1:25 P.M. EST
MR. SIEWERT: I'll start with a quick travel announcement and move on
from there. The President, on January 17th, will travel to Little Rock,
Arkansas, and he will, in Little Rock, address a joint session of the
Arkansas General Assembly, and the rest of that schedule is TBD. But he
will be returning to Washington that evening.
I think this will give him a chance to thank the people of Arkansas
who have supported him throughout the years, and to look forward to the
work that he'll be doing down there in conjunction with his Presidential
Library, which the plans are underway for. And he'll probably see some old
That means that the President and Mrs. Clinton will travel to New
York, following the Inauguration on January 20th, and they will remain
overnight that evening in Chappaqua. We'll provide you with more details
as those become available.
Q Both of them will leave?
MR. SIEWERT: Both of them will leave, yes.
The President is also making an announcement today regarding export
controls on high performance computers. There is actually a call underway
shortly -- for those of you who want to rush back to your booths and get on
that -- with John Podesta, Bill Reinsch and others, to run through the
details of that -- Rudy DeLeon.
But the overall importance of that announcement is that we are
revising our rules on a regular basis now -- this is the sixth time we've
done that -- to reflect the realities of a rapidly changing marketplace.
And the President has asked Congress to actually make it easier to do that.
We've had some success in changing the way in which that's done, but we
want to ensure that American companies are not left behind by controls that
belong to another era.
At the same time, we want to ensure that we protect the national
security of the United States and ensure that we are not putting
high-performance computers in the hands of companies that might misuse
them. So that call is under way shortly. You can call Ms. Engebretsen,
"the Tiger," up in Upper Press if you want to get on that.
Thirdly, we are pleased -- and we don't get to say this every day --
that Senator Jesse Helms, Senator Biden and members of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee have indicated their willingness to release the next
payment of arrears that were authorized under the Helms-Biden legislation.
That payment of $582 million will allow the U.N. to pay the bulk of the
funds owed to other countries for troop contributions to peacekeeping.
This move builds on the fine work that Ambassador Holbrooke has done,
along with Secretary Albright and others, at the United Nations, and it
will go a long way to putting the U.S.-U.N. relationship back on track.
I think that's it in terms of announcements. Oh, Sandy is speaking at
the Council on Foreign Relations Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. That's in
New York City. And you can contact either Don Mitchell at the NSC or the
Council on Foreign Relations in New York to get more of the details of that
speech; but that will be an opportunity for him to discuss his recent
article in Foreign Affairs: "A Foreign Policy For The Global Age." And
Mr. Gelb will preside over those events.
Q This is the President's speech?
MR. SIEWERT: No, Sandy Berger's speech -- will be speaking in New
York at the Council on Foreign Relations, and give an opportunity to sum up
some of the success we've had here in the Clinton administration on
managing new global challenges in a new Information Age.
Q What's the latest on Dennis Ross? When is he going?
MR. SIEWERT: That trip -- he initially delayed that trip for one day
for scheduling reasons. Chairman Arafat is in Tunis today for a meeting of
Arab foreign ministers. He has now put the trip on hold, given security
meetings that are happening now at various levels in the region.
As you know, the CIA Director was in Cairo over the weekend, met with
security officials from both sides to discuss how to improve the situation
on the ground. At this point, Dennis still plans to travel to the region,
but we have not set a revised date.
Q Isn't that a sign, though, that it's not looking very hopeful
that anything can be accomplished before the end of the Clinton term?
MR. SIEWERT: We're looking right now at whether we can see some
reduction in the level of violence. It's going to be important. It's very
hard to imagine, as we've said before, that we could see any serious
negotiation, let alone a conclusion, to some of these discussions with the
serious level of violence in the region.
Q That's what caused the postponement?
MR. SIEWERT: Initially, it was scheduling. But now, given that there
are security talks going on in the wake of Mr. Tenet's visit, we are
looking to those security meetings and seeing how we proceed based on our
analysis of those.
Q But, Jake, effectively, you've given up any hope of any sort of
an agreement and any sort of a statement of principles, even?
MR. SIEWERT: We will make a judgment based on where we are at the end
of those discussions. But the President has said he's committed to working
until the very last day. We, I think, have 10 or so days left to continue
our work on this and the President is committed to doing everything he can
to help narrow the gaps between the parties. And As he said in his speech
on Sunday, it beats packing up. So he'll keep working at it and until the
last day, we'll do what we can. He'll make a judgment after seeing how
some of the discussions go on security matters about what our next step is.
Q Barak has said that there might be a Presidential statement that
he would welcome and the Palestinians said they would welcome that as well,
just to get a blueprint down that could be something to move forward from
in the Bush administration.
MR. SIEWERT: Honestly, we're going to do everything we can to move
the process forward, but I don't want to get into the hows and wherefores
of that right now. Dennis has put the trip on hold, but we are looking at
how the security discussions move forward before making any decision about
what our next steps are.
Q The President put the trip on hold, didn't he? I mean, it wasn't
Dennis, he didn't make --
MR. SIEWERT: Obviously, we've been consulting. The President talked
to the Prime Minister and the Chairman in the last couple days and we'll
make a decision when we see how those security discussions play out.
Q Jake, the President has said now -- said privately, and his
negotiations -- and he said it publicly, I believe, Sunday night, that when
he goes, his proposals go with him. Is he simply accepting a fact of life
there, or does he think it's just simply a good idea that they disappear
MR. SIEWERT: I think that's simply the reality. A new administration
will have to make new decisions and new -- make their own assessment of how
to proceed, and the President is just indicating what common sense tells
all of us -- that when the President leaves, he takes with him the
discussions that he's made. It's up to a new administration to make steps
-- make any overtures after that.
Q There's no continuity in American foreign policy?
MR. SIEWERT: No, certainly there's a lot of continuity. We've been
consulting heavily with --
Q -- picking up the ball, didn't he, from the --
MR. SIEWERT: We don't want to prejudge how the next administration
will proceed -- that we've been consulting with them all along, I think
they understand where we are. They have a lot of opportunities to build on
some of the work that has been done. But that's a decision that they will
make. But I think that people in the region understand that the President
is involved in these discussions intensely himself, and that a new
administration will have to decide how they want to treat the ideas that
the President shared with the parties and with the public on Sunday.
MR. CROWLEY: It's also the rules that we've had at Camp David that if
there is an agreement, fine; if not, then the parties are not bound to what
they have put on the table at any particular time.
Q Jake, regarding the President's comments in Chicago last night.
Does he truly believe that "the only way they" -- the Republicans -- "would
win the election was to stop the voting in Florida"?
MR. SIEWERT: I think, yes, the President said what he believed, that
when all the votes are counted, now by the press, that it will show that Al
Gore may, in fact, have received more votes there. I think that's
relatively an uncontroversial statement at some level. At the same time,
the President said that he accepts the court's ruling and he understands
the importance of the rule of law and that we are all going to accept what
the Supreme Court said and move on.
Q But the comment last night was about Republicans. Does the
President believe Republicans stole the election from Al Gore?
MR. SIEWERT: I think the President said that he disagreed with the
court's ruling, but that he understood the wisdom of accepting it.
Q The only way they could have won is by stopping the vote count
and then --
MR. SIEWERT: Well, I guess we'll see what the facts are. I mean,
that's up to the media now at this point to sort through what the ballots
that weren't counted said and whether that statement is true. But I'll
let you assess that on your own.
Q Does he think that the election was -- that Bush's election was
thus, invalid or illegitimate?
MR. SIEWERT: Well, I think he said that we have to accept what the
court ruled and, obviously, a new President will be sworn in. He also said
that -- you know, we've met with President Bush and we're working very hard
to ensure that he has every opportunity to succeed in the job.
Q Does he think that should be the admonition to the American
people, to accept what may have a dubious --
MR. SIEWERT: He thinks it's very important that while he disagreed
with the court's decision -- and he said so publicly a number of times, he
told the pool that on the way back from Ireland -- that it was important to
Q But, Jake, what he said was that the only way they won the
election was by stopping the voting counting. And also Ari Fleischer has
just said that there is a time-honored tradition of President's leaving
office to be respectful to their successors and that he hopes that
President Clinton will follow that tradition. Do you think he broke with
that tradition last night?
MR. SIEWERT: No, I don't think so. I think there are very strong
feelings about the way in which the aftermath of this election was
conducted. There was obviously a very strong legal effort made by the Bush
legal team to stop the count. And that was their prerogative, to fight
that in court. The court ruled in their favor and the President said he
At the same time, he thinks that, obviously, if all the votes had been
counted, we might have seen a very different result. I'll leave that up to
you to assess as you look at those votes yourself, in Florida -- I know a
lot of media organizations are doing that.
But the President has met President-elect Bush and wished him well,
and given him advice. He's instructed all of us to cooperate in the
transition. At the same time, he made perfectly clear he disagreed with
that court's decision.
Q On this big decision that he has on whether to take Socks and
MR. SIEWERT: There are no developments on the Socks-Buddy peace
Q What is the story here? Why can't he take them both?
MR. SIEWERT: Well, I think the President -- I'm not going to say much
beyond what I said yesterday. The President has tried, worked pretty hard
on this, and there's nothing new on that today. But I'll let you know if
Q They get along here, don't they?
MR. SIEWERT: We've got a lot of space here, and maybe that makes it
Q Could we just ask you for on-camera purposes, what are the
parameters of this peace process? (Laughter.)
MR. SIEWERT: It's a family matter, probably best not discussed on
camera. But the President said he's worked to try to get them to get
along, and we'll let you know if we succeed in that effort.
Q But is there a discussion of a separation, perhaps a Socks stays
in New York and --
MR. SIEWERT: There are a lot of different options, a lot of different
options. We haven't made a final decision.
Q Does he have a preference of a pet?
MR. SIEWERT: No, I'm not going to get into that here. I don't think
Q They fight like dogs and cats.
MR. SIEWERT: I was instructed that the pet peace process was moribund
Q Yes, but there's little doubt that Buddy is his favorite these
days. (Laughter.) I mean, he's not even-handed on this, is he?
MR. SIEWERT: We're not playing favorites here. I mean, the dog is a
regular here in the West Wing. You've probably seen him. I understand he
wanders back here from time to time in search of God knows what.
Q Why doesn't Chelsea take her own cat?
Q If Dennis Ross isn't doing anything -- (laughter.)
Q Chelsea can't have a cat at Stanford?
MR. SIEWERT: I don't know, actually don't know what the rules of the
dorm are there. But, look, they'll work this out one way or another.
We'll let you know.
Q -- hopeful?
MR. SIEWERT: We are very hopeful. (Laughter.)
Q -- to the last day of the administration? (Laughter.)
MR. SIEWERT: To the last day of the administration, we're going to
keep working on it and see what we can do.
Q Jake, is there some decision by the U.S. to sell F-16 fighters to
MR. SIEWERT: The Chilean Air Force has awarded the F-16 first place
in a technical evaluation, and the Chilean government and Lockheed Martin
have begun negotiations to arrive at a final contract. Negotiations of
that type generally take two to six months, and cover topics such as final
purchase price and the like. So we will work during that time period,
through the Department of State and Defense, to comply with congressional
notification requirements specified by the Arms Control Export Act.
So we've been -- the Speaker of the House, the Chairman of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee must be notified before the sale. But Congress
has an opportunity to weigh in here, and the NSC will review and approve
the proposed notification to Congress.
Q Is any of this new?
MR. CROWLEY: It was the Arms Export Control Act.
MR. SIEWERT: Arms Export Control Act, AECA.
Q Is any of this new? Like, is it recent that they just approved
this, or is there --
MR. SIEWERT: I think the negotiations are underway, in the wake of
the first round of what the Chilean government has decided.
Q But it's not like it just happened yesterday?
MR. SIEWERT: The agreement was on December 27th, yes, that the
Chileans entered into.
Q Jake, on clemencies, do we expect anything this week? Or maybe
MR. SIEWERT: I wouldn't expect anything this week. We may have
something next week. The President has promised to review additional
clemency proceedings and we'll let you know when we have anything new to
say on that. But I don't expect anything this week.
Q There have been some published reports about possible sites to be
dedicated as national monuments. Can you rule any in or out at this point?
MR. SIEWERT: At this point, we have received seven recommendations
from Secretary Babbitt. He forwarded two more recommendations just
yesterday, one in Arizona and one in New Mexico. The President will make
decisions on those shortly, obviously, in the next 10 days. And we'll let
you know how those play out.
At the same time, he is considering one additional one that we've
developed on our own, which is a monument in Idaho that covers an
internment camp, a Japanese internment camp, one of 10 that we'd like to
work with the congressional delegation and local officials on.
For those of you who asked about the Arctic refuge, the President does
not intend to designate that as a national monument. We oppose efforts to
drill in ANWR and he vetoed a budget bill in 1995, in part because it would
have opened the refuge to oil drilling. But we believe, actually, after
consulting with our environmental team, that the -- ANWR has something that
some of the other areas we looked at does not have, which is legislative
protected status, which is actually higher than that conferred by the
So, unlike those that we've already moved to protect, there is
specific legislation that was passed, I believe, and signed into law at the
end of the Carter administration, which confers a higher degree of status,
a wilderness status, to that land and specifically prevents oil drilling
So we're not convinced that giving it a monument status would give it
any additional legal protection. So Congress is going to have to act on
that and Congress has steadfastly opposed efforts to open ANWR throughout
Democratic and Republican control in the Senate. So we think it's very
unlikely that Congress will allow the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to be
opened for drilling. They defeated it in the '80s and '90s and we think
they'll continue to oppose that and we think that's the right course of
action. This if very pristine wilderness area and shouldn't be an area
where there is new oil drilling.
Q And, yet, Jimmy Carter seemed to think that monument status would
go a long way to protect ANWR.
MR. SIEWERT: We've taken a close look at that. I mean, we take that
argument seriously, but we've taken a close look at it and decided that the
wilderness status that's conferred by the legislation that was passed in
the '80s, the Alaska Lands Act, actually confers a higher degree of status,
according to our analysis of it than a monument would.
A monument is, after all, an executive action that could potentially
be reversed by a new administration; whereas the congressional designation
is legislation that has to be reopened and subject to a full congressional
debate, subject to filibuster, and it would be very hard to open it up to
drilling, given the narrow split between -- that exists in Congress today.
Q Does the incoming administration -- have they indicated they do
MR. SIEWERT: Yes, they have said that they're interested, at least
exploring it. We strongly oppose that. Obviously, that's something that
they will be free to try to do. But they're going to have to go through
Congress to do it, and we don't think Congress would be wise to open that
area to drilling.
Q Jake, as the President leaves office, there still looms the
possibility of the IOC bringing indictment. Is the President preparing for
this or have -- thinking this may happen? Is he doing anything to prepare?
MR. SIEWERT: I think you should probably check with his lawyers on
that. I don't know that he, personally, is involved in that effort. But
you should check with his outside counsel on that.
Q What did -- I came in late -- what happened to Linda Chavez
yesterday, through this whole process, what does that say to you about
Bush's governing style, if anything?
MR. SIEWERT: I don't know. I mean, there are plenty of pundits on TV
to discuss that. I don't know that we're necessary to weigh-in on that.
There are lots of other people well-qualified to discuss that, and I don't
want to do that from this podium.
Q Is there a decision yet on whether there will be a State of the
Union or a farewell address?
MR. SIEWERT: We're getting there. We thought we had one piece of
business for you today, the decision to travel to New York on the 20th, and
we're going to drip this out in bits and pieces. (Laughter.) But that's
all I've got today, at least. So we're going to New York, and that's one
decision that I'm ready to share with you. But we're considering some
options there for next week.
Q Has he decided not to have a news conference?
MR. SIEWERT: No, we haven't made a decision not to have a news
conference. But that's another thing that's kicking around somewhere in
the decision-making process. We'll let you know if we have something
Q Have they signed a deal yet? I mean, have they closed on the
MR. SIEWERT: No, I don't believe so, but I'll double-check on that.
I think they were planning on doing it sometime before the 20th, but I
don't think it's been concluded yet.
Q Would you let us know?
MR. SIEWERT: Absolutely.
Q And on the office space up in New York, as well?
MR. SIEWERT: Yes, we'll let you know on that. I don't know what the
time line is on that. He obviously looked at some places that he liked.
He's got to make a decision, and then there's a legal process, bidding
Q Thank you.
MR. SIEWERT: Thank you. We'll be back on Friday.
END 1:47 P.M. EST