Boucher, State Department Spokesman
September 12, 2001
@9:30 A.M. EDT
MR. BOUCHER: Ladies and gentlemen, I am sorry to disappoint you. The Secretary
is not going to make it at this time. He is over at a meeting at the White House
that ran longer than anyone expected, and now he has got another meeting at
the White House so he is going to stay over there. So we are going to have to
wait. The Secretary will talk to you today. We are going to have to find a time,
probably early to mid-afternoon, when it will work. And we'll get back to you
more precisely with that.
What he has been doing today since early in the morning is, first of all, meeting
with his team over here and talking to the staff here. Second of all, he has
been making a variety of international phone calls. He has talked to Lord Robertson,
the Secretary General of NATO. He has talked to Javier Solana, the European
High Representative. He has talked to Foreign Minister Peres twice. He has talked
to Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary of Great Britain. And he has talked to
Kofi Annan. And he will continue to make phone calls with foreign leaders throughout
QUESTION: Could you just describe for us --
MR. BOUCHER: And third of all, he has been obviously meeting with the White
House and national security team over there.
QUESTION: Could you explain what the Secretary was saying this morning about
25 percent of the embassies. Did he mean closed or reducing their services?
Is he talking about both embassies and missions?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, he's talking about missions -- embassies and consulates.
There are 40 -- no, there are 50-some. We don't have an exact count for you,
but 50-some of our embassies or consulates overseas that have felt it necessary
As you know, we told embassies, told ambassadors, to make these decisions
based on their own local security requirements. There is no particular threats,
specific threats or warnings that we have for individual embassies or embassies
as a whole, but in this heightened security environment we wanted everybody
to look at their own procedures, decide if they were safe, and take appropriate
So there have been closings in various places. We are sure that everybody
will reopen as soon as they think it's safe. And all these people maintain
a way of doing emergency services for Americans, even when they're closed.
QUESTION: You said he spoke to Lord Robertson. In that conversation or otherwise,
did he encourage the movement toward Article V adoption by the ambassadors
as a way of solidarity -- not necessarily committing force -- but showing
solidarity, with the US in this terrible time?
MR. BOUCHER: Has NATO issued a statement?
QUESTION: Not yet. There are some people who have to know, some reporters
MR. BOUCHER: Some reporters have reported about it?
QUESTION: That it's under consideration.
MR. BOUCHER: I'll leave it for NATO to do this. We have been in touch with
our mission at NATO and the Secretary has been in touch with Lord Robertson
indeed about the question of working together with our NATO allies and coordinating
with our NATO allies on these matters.
QUESTION: The notion that the United States will hold countries that harbor
those involved or that have harbored those involved in this act will now be
held responsible has been described in media as a major policy shift for the
United States, a major sort of upping of the ante, if you will.
How do you see it?
MR. BOUCHER: I see it the way the Secretary of State will see it when he
meets with you. I really just came down here to disappoint you all. I didn't
mean to try to take broad and expansive and extended questioning. I think
that's a good question to ask the Secretary when he comes down. Clearly the
fight against terrorism is one that is going to have to be carried on in a
very serious manner.
QUESTION: There is talk about a G-8 meeting, which Prime Minister Blair is
pushing hard for, and within Russia, and to build a consensus if the United
States should decide to take action. And is that correct, and do you have
a view of that?
MR. BOUCHER: I hadn't seen the talk about the G-8 meeting. That's something
we can check on before we come back again. We have indeed been in touch with
the Russians, and I think we received a message from President Putin that
was quite strong in terms of support and sympathy.
QUESTION: Can you give us a list of some of the embassies that you know are
closed today, even if it's a partial list.
MR. BOUCHER: We have tried to avoid highlighting the security circumstances
in particular places, so I think what I'd like to do is, give me a chance
to go back and check which are closed and which have made public announcements.
Because obviously those are things we can collect and get to you. But I'll
try to do that for you and get you some kind of list.
QUESTION: You said that the Secretary spoke twice with Foreign Minister Peres.
What did they talk about?
MR. BOUCHER: I would leave that to him, I think later.
QUESTION: Is there still a potential for an Arafat-Peres meeting? Is that
something the Secretary is pushing for right now?
MR. BOUCHER: We are obviously still . There is one dominant subject
of all our conversations these days, but clearly we are still doing the nation's
diplomatic business as well. And I think that's a good question you can ask
the Secretary later if you wish.
QUESTION: There are reports out of Islamabad that US officials contacted
the Musharraf government last night, and they now are sending a military delegation
to Kabul. Can you confirm any of this?
MR. BOUCHER: I can confirm that we have been in contact with the Pakistani
Government at various levels, but I don't think I can go into anything more
specific than that. I hadn't heard about this report that we were sending
a delegation. I'll have to check on that.
QUESTION: Not we, but I'm saying that the Pakistanis are sending a delegation
at the US request.
MR. BOUCHER: Oh, that the Pakistanis -- I don't know about that. But I'll
tell you that we have indeed been in touch with the Pakistani Government and
we will stay in touch with them.
QUESTION: Any communication by anybody in the US Government with the Taliban
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I'll have to check on that. Again, I have to apologize
a little bit. I just came down to give you the news that the Secretary couldn't
do this and so I'm not prepared on every single question at this moment.
QUESTION: What was your interpretation of Saddam Hussein's comments yesterday?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have one for you at this point.
QUESTION: Has there been any particular communication with the government
at the United Arab Emirates?
MR. BOUCHER: We have been in touch with governments around the world. I don't
know what particularly we might have said to the United Arab Emirates, but
I'm sure we have been in touch.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the embassies that have been closed are in Islamic
MR. BOUCHER: No, I wouldn't say that. There are posts throughout the world.
And it's not because of a particular sense of threat in a particular place.
We still do know that there is good cause for vigilance, and our Worldwide
Warnings still apply. But as each mission looks at its security situation,
where does it feel safe, where does it feel its vulnerabilities are, are there
vulnerabilities that we can correct by local action and things like that.
And I would say the other thing is that around the world our missions have
been asking host governments for support and assistance in all kinds of things:
closing down streets, adding more guards, adding more patrols, having visible
police presence, things like that. And in every single case, we have gotten
the support that we have asked for.
QUESTION: Some countries have offered assistance to this country, and teams
of people to help in the rubble at the World Trade Center and things like
Has the US responded to this? Have we accepted or rejected any offers of
MR. BOUCHER: We have been passing on all that information to the Federal
Emergency Management Agency to make sure they know what is available from
overseas sources. There has indeed been an outpouring of offers of specialized
teams, bloods, just a whole lot of different things -- equipment -- that people
around the world have. I think we leave it to the federal authorities to sort
of sort it out, figure out if there is stuff that we would find useful.
There has, also, as you know, been an outpouring of support and assistance
in the United States, among our own people, in terms of giving blood or teams
from the country coming up to help with the search. So I'm not sure that will
be necessary. But let the appropriate federal authorities sort it out. I'm
not aware that we have asked for anything at this point.
QUESTION: This morning, the Secretary said that there is an accumulating
mound of evidence and that very soon the Government will make a decision on
what they should do.
Are you steering us away from the general assumption that this is bin Laden-related?
When he talks about the evidence, is that pointing in any other direction
that you can share with us?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not steering you in any direction whatsoever. I am not
steering you in circles, either. I am just not into this. We are not pointing
fingers, we are not saying whodunit. We are going to do this carefully. We
are going to maintain the ability to collect information and not reveal the
sources of it. And we are going to, I'm sure, make the decisions in a careful
manner at the right time. And I am not intending to steer you towards, away,
or in any direction whatsoever. I am not driving that car.
QUESTION: Prior to this return to Washington, did the Secretary have telephone
contact with the President yesterday?
MR. BOUCHER: No, they didn't actually talk until he got back to Washington.
Rich Armitage, of course, the Deputy Secretary, was here, was working with
the entire national security team, and the Secretary talked to Mr. Armitage
numerous times throughout the day.
They can talk when they need to, and it works out for both of them. It just
didn't happen to be the case yesterday.
QUESTION: You said there were no warnings that led to the closing of the
50 embassies and missions. But have there been --
MR. BOUCHER: No particular warnings. There's obviously worldwide threats.
QUESTION: Well, that's what I wanted to know. Had there been any new warnings
that lead to new concern about subsequent actions?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the warnings that we have issued before, in terms of
the June 22nd warning, the update that we did last week, those all still apply.
I don't have any new information on that, though.
QUESTION: Richard, the King of Morocco canceled the trip to Mauritania and
returned home, and the King of Jordan was also on his way here and also returned
home. Is there any possible relationship between that and this event in the
sense that there is a dichotomy between -- these governments have all condemned
the attacks and the people in the streets are all supporting it?
MR. BOUCHER: Once again, I am really down here to tell you that the Secretary
can't brief right now. I wasn't coming to deal with all the dichotomies in
the world. So I really don't feel I can do that right now.
QUESTION: When is he briefing?
MR. BOUCHER: The two windows look like early afternoon or later in the afternoon.
QUESTION: Probably between when and when?
MR. BOUCHER: Between now and the end of the day. I'm sorry. I don't want
to get us all out .
QUESTION: Some of us have to go back to offices and come back, so --
MR. BOUCHER: I know. I do not want to get us all back here at some time because
I speculate at this point. I've got to talk --
QUESTION: Like not before 1:00, not before 2:00?
QUESTION: Can you give us a half hour warning?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, we will give you as much warning as possible. And a half
hour seems more than reasonable.