Press Briefing by Joe Lockhart (9/18/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

Immediate Release                September 18, 2000

                              PRESS BRIEFING
                               JOE LOCKHART

                     The James S. Brady Briefing Room

11:06 A.M. EDT

     MR. LOCKHART:  Good morning, everyone.  The President is enjoying a
well-deserved day off today.  He has one meeting, that you might actually
see Shimon Peres coming or going.  He was here at 10:30 a.m.  He's in the
United States on a private mission, came by to see the President.  He will
be traveling to New York tonight to be honored at a dinner at the Waldorf,
where the Secretary of State will give the keynote address -- or the
honoring address, or whatever it's called.

     Other than that, it's a very quiet day for the President.

     Q    Are we going to get the list of overnight guests?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I don't think we'll get that today; my guess is
tomorrow.  Sir.

     Q    Joe, was the President glad that 50 Democrats and Connie Morella
voted only present, rather than against, Representative Woolsey's anti-Boy
Scout bill?
     MR. LOCKHART:  Didn't have a chance to discuss that with him, so I
don't know.

     Q    How does he stand on that bill?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think I answered that question on Friday.  I'd refer
you to my transcript.

     Q    In other words, he was opposed to the bill?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I answered that Friday, so you can go back and look.

     Q    Joe, USA Today is reporting that the U.S. intelligence officials
have obtained a thousand-page instructional manual on how to conduct
terror.  Some say it may give the U.S. insight into Osama bin Laden's
tactics.  Do you have anything on that?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Well, I can't comment specifically on that report.  But
I can say, as has been said before, that Osama bin Laden's organization,
and others, are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the training
techniques they use, which requires the kind of response that I think
you've seen from this government over the past few years.

     Q    On Peru, do you have any reaction -- reaction from the President
about the situation in Peru?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Well, we think that this was an important step that we
welcome from President Fujimori to return to full democratization.  This is
something that we've been calling for since the last election and working
through the context of the OAS.  I think there's a lot of hard work that
has been done.  We believe that this is a step in that direction and we
call on all parties involved in Peruvian society to work towards a peaceful
transition and work towards a democratic election.

     Q    Does the Army's role in getting to that election concern you at

     MR. LOCKHART:  I'm not sure it's entirely clear what that role is, but
I think what's important for us is that we continue to work through the
context of the OAS toward full democratization.  This is something we've
been working for now for months.

     Q    Has the President contacted any official from Peru?

     MR. LOCKHART:  No, our contacts have been through the embassy there,
with Peruvian officials.  The President has not had any discussions that
I'm aware of.

     Q    Has the President talked to Janet Reno yet about the Wen Ho Lee
case, or has he scheduled that meeting?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I have no information on -- I don't believe he's spoken
to her.  I don't know when they'll have a chance to talk, but I expect that
will happen.

     Q    Do you think it will be this week?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I don't know.  I'll let you know when it happens.

     Q    On that subject, are White House officials taking a particular
message up to this meeting in New York today with various Asian Americans
to discuss the Wen Ho Lee case and their concern about the way it was

     MR. LOCKHART:  Not necessarily to that meeting.  These are a series of
field hearings.  This is the third field hearing.  And it's mostly, as you
can tell by the makeup of the group, looking at Asian Americans, Asian
Pacific Americans and health issues that those Americans are particularly
concerned about.  There's been some discussion within the context of this
organization about Wen Ho Lee and I'm certain, if it comes up at the
meeting today, there will be some discussion there.  But that's not the
primary focus.

     Q    What meeting is that?

     MR. LOCKHART:  There's an Asian-American commission that is holding
discussions around the country -- they had one in Los Angeles, one I think
last week here in Washington, there's one scheduled in New York.  I think
there was some suggestion in some reporting that they had put this meeting
together in order to deal with issues involving Wen Ho Lee.  That is not
accurate.  But to the extent it comes up in the discussions there, I'm sure
they, I'm sure they will entertain the questions.

     Q    Some of the folks who are participating in the field hearing
today are quoted as saying, or have been reported to have said that the
administration at the last field hearing in Los Angeles actively -- some
officials, unnamed -- actively encouraged them speaking out against the Wen
Ho Lee case.

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think that question was raised to the people who run
the commission, to the commissioners this morning at a press conference,
and they said that that was not the case.

     Q    Joe, what was the President's reaction to the fourth time, as I
understand it, that the Justice Department is investigating the Vice
President's fundraising?

     MR. LOCKHART:  His reaction to what?

     Q    Well, what was his reaction to it?  I mean, how many Vice
Presidents have been investigated four times for questionable fundraising?

     MR. LOCKHART:   I think there is an ongoing investigation at the
Justice Department, and because it's ongoing, it wouldn't be appropriate to

     Q    Joe, does the President plan to drop his demand for an amendment
to H/1B that would be amnesty for about 500,000 illegal immigrants?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I don't know the answer to that.   I know there has
been some activity on that at the end of last week and this week, but I'm
not sure where that's gone, so let me check and come back to you.

     Q    Mr. Lockhart, Al Moses, the Special Envoy of President Clinton,
of Cypress and the question to comment on a statement by U.N. Secretary
General Kofi Annan for the creation of two political entities.  Cypress
stated that's my government's position, as well.  Is this express the
position of President Clinton?

     MR. LOCKHART:  What was in it?  What was his statement?  I'm sorry,
what was in the statement?

     Q    The statement was, by Secretary General of the United Nations, he
is talking about the creation of two separate political entities in
Cypress.  And he replied, Mr. Moses, this is my government's position, too,
as well, exactly.  My question is, is this express also President Clinton

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think before I said anything on that I'd have to look
at the entirety of that statement.

     MR. CROWLEY:  Our position on Cypress is very well-known and has not

     MR. LOCKHART:  The position that I have articulated many times from up
here hasn't changed.  If there's anything in this statement, which I can't
quite see, we'll look at it.

     Q    One follow-up.  Otherwise, do you still have the same policy
about -- of Cypress?

     MR. LOCKHART:  The policy has not changed.

     Q    Joe, talk for a moment on Peru -- in the American meeting has
reported that Fujimori called for new elections under pressure of this
government.  Was there any pressure from the United States to force Mr.
Fujimori to call for new elections?

     MR. LOCKHART:  No.  I think to be accurate here, the OAS has worked in
conjunction with the United States as a member to move, in the wake of the
flawed elections earlier this year, towards something that was full
democratization.  And to the extent that that effort has succeeded, then we
welcome the move that was announced.

     Q    Mr. Vladimiro Montesinos, the head of the intelligence service of
Peru, according to earlier stories, he was working I think in the '80s or
'70s with the CIA.  That is true?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I don't have any comment on that.

     Q    Joe, has anyone at the White House ever requested Air Force
transportation for overnight guests?

     MR. LOCKHART:  What do you mean by --

     Q    Air Force plane to bring overnight guests in, by Air Force plane?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Not that I'm aware of.

     Q    Joe, you're a very perceptive and well-informed person, and you
certainly --

     MR. LOCKHART:  Lester, flattery will get you absolutely nowhere.
Absolutely nowhere.  (Laughter.)  In fact, it might get you one of the
seats all the way in the back.  (Laughter.)

     Q    Wait a minute, wait a minute, Joe, I haven't gotten my question.

     MR. LOCKHART:  I'm waiting.

     Q    And you do have contact, close contact with the Vice President's
campaign.  Could you confirm or deny the rumor that if Mr. Gore wins -- and
that's a big if -- he's planning to have as your successor Adam Clymer?

     MR. LOCKHART:  That's what I'd call a real big-time idea; but I can't
confirm or deny it.  (Laughter.)

     Q    Do you have an idea of when the documents are going to be

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think our time limit was in a couple of weeks on the
classification, but when the work is done is probably the best answer.

     Q    Joe, the talks in New York on the Middle East?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think contacts continue, but I don't have anything
specifically to report.  The parties who were discussing have left New
York, have gone back to the region, but I understand that there are
continued contacts.

     Q    -- mentioned that the talks would continue soon in the region.
Do you have anything on that?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I don't have any announcement on that.

     Q    Joe, the Ways and Means Committee last week I think unanimously
passed this idea of devoting 90 percent of next year's surplus to paying
down the debt.  Have the President's views changed on that at all?  Is he
thinking he's going to have to agree to that?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Listen, if in the bottom of the 9th inning the
Republicans have finally realized that debt reduction is the right policy
and they want to repudiate everything they've done up until this point this
year, then they're moving in the right direction.  We certainly meet their
test in the budget the President puts up there, and if they want to do
something that both pays down the debt, meets the long-term and real issue
of whether you can do this over the next 12 years, and invest in our
priorities -- like class size, school construction, other education issues,
health issues -- then I think we'll have a lot to talk about.

     Q    Well, does that specific plan do that?  Does it leave enough room
to meet the priorities on your list?

     MR. LOCKHART:  What we don't know is what they have yet to put on the
table.  They've got tax provisions that are not clear, that we were not
interested in playing games and having gimmicks where you take tax
provisions and sort of defer the cost of it for one year so they can fit
within their gimmick.  That's not how we've gotten to the point of
restoring fiscal discipline in this town.

     And the other important thing is we don't know how susceptible they'll
be to their basic instincts of loading these things up with pork, like
they've done over the last couple years.  If they're willing to stand back
and say, let's do the right investments for this nation, as far as
education, lowering class size, rebuilding our schools, health,
environment, then I think we're going to get work done pretty quickly.

     But if they're going to go about the business that they have followed
over the last few years, of loading up a bunch of bills with pork, and then
saying there isn't enough for education, then we're going to have a

     Q    If the Senate passes Chinese PNTR tomorrow, will the President
make an announcement after that?

     MR. LOCKHART:  I expect we'll find some occasion for the President to
react to a very important vote in the Senate tomorrow.

     Q    Joe, Friday apparently was the last day for black farmers to file
in on this class action suit -- excuse me.   First of all, is the President
aware of what's going on, and is the Department of Ag making a request of

     MR. LOCKHART:  Well, the President is updated on a fairly regular
basis and, you know, he gets a weekly report from each of the agencies that
he reads quite closely, so I expect -- I don't know if there was one this
week, because I haven't taken a look at that yet, but I think he has been
kept up to date on the state of that, those negotiations.

     Q    He met with John Boyd not too long ago, last year, about this
whole situation.  Is he planning on another meeting maybe, since this thing
is starting to come to a head now?

     MR. LOCKHART:  Not that I'm aware of, but I'll check into that.

     Q    Also do you know, the Treasury Postal Bill is going to be on the
Senate floor this week, and the Democrats have dropped their objections to
putting it on the Floor.  Does that mean that the President may be willing
to sign it, even though it doesn't have the funding for IRS that --

     MR. LOCKHART:  There are problems with that bill, not just the
restructuring IRS.  There was -- I mean, we all remember the great
theatrical hearings that took place about trying to make the IRS a more
effective place, or, as some people thought, trying to embarrass the IRS.
And now we've come to the time where you've actually got to appropriate
some money to follow through on the important changes they're making, and
the Republican majority has decided to under-fund that.
     But there's also problems with counterterrorism.  We talked a little
bit at the start of this briefing about the issue of remaining vigilant
around the world to protect our interests on counterterrorism, and they've
under-funded that.  So I think there is some problems with that bill, and
it's hard to see how that bill, at this point, is acceptable.

     Q    Thank you.

     Q    Joe, both Nat Hentoff --

     MR. LOCKHART:  This is what the President does to me all the time.  I
just wanted to do it once.  (Laughter.)  Someone yelling, thank you, and
I'm going, yes, one more, let's just take -- (laughter) -- and I'm about to
get what he normally gets.


     Q    Both Nat Hentoff, as well as an emigre from Mauritania deplored

     MR. LOCKHART:  Don't think I need the book for this one.

     Q    -- the comparative lack of expressed concern for 300,000 black
slaves in Mauritania and more in Sudan.  And I'm wondering, did the
President hear any expressed concern about this outrage at the Black
Caucus, and did he express any interest in it when he met with the Black

     MR. LOCKHART:  I think you all saw the dinner Saturday night; I
didn't, so I don't know.  Thanks.

     THE PRESS:  Thank you.

                         END             11:20 A.M. EDT

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