Department Spokesman Richard Boucher
October 2, 2001
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to be here.
I don't have any statements or announcements, so I'd be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: What can you tell us about the conversations that have been going
on in Brussels and in Islamabad and elsewhere around the world between your
diplomats and foreign leaders, as it relates to whatever kind of evidence you're
MR. BOUCHER: Let me, I think, start with the general, and then we'll go to the
more specific places.
First of all, as the President and the Secretary and others have told you, we
are building a very strong case against al-Qaida. This is a process of amassing
information. There is a great body of evidence that indicates clearly to us
and to others that al-Qaida was responsible. We've noted the statements by Prime
Minister Blair; we've noted the statement by the NATO Secretary General, Lord
Robertson, and others as well, who have seen this information, who have developed
their own information. Let's not forget, there are investigations going on around
the world. And I think people in this Government and elsewhere have an increasing
body of evidence that indicates quite clearly that al-Qaida was responsible.
We have said all along we will be sharing that information with foreign governments
as we can. And so we have instructed our ambassadors to likeminded nations to
brief their host governments on the kind of information, on what we have and
on what we're learning, about the al-Qaida network and about this operation.
As part of those discussions, our Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Frank Taylor,
is in Brussels. He has briefed the North Atlantic Council and the NATO-Russia
Permanent Joint Council. He will also be having other meetings in NATO in Brussels
with other partners of NATO and with, I think, members of the European Union
I want to stress a couple of things about this. This is a back-and-forth process
of sharing information with other governments. As I said, there are many other
governments that themselves are developing information. This will be an ongoing
process of sharing information.
Second of all, that the fact that we're sharing this information with other
governments at this point does not indicate any particular decisions about our
response options. It's not a prelude to something else, other than the continuing
process of sharing information.
The global coalition, as you know, is multifaceted. There are many aspects to
this: the diplomacy of it, the financial controls that we put in place, the
legal cooperation that we have with many governments, the intelligence-sharing
that we have with many governments, as well as possible military steps. And
this kind of diplomatic coordination with other governments is very normal.
One of the places where we have shared information is in Pakistan, and our ambassador,
Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin, has been in to see President Musharraf today, and
she shared with him some of the information that we have been developing. Again,
this is going to be an ongoing process of sharing information and discussion
with the Government of Pakistan, and we are continuing our consultations with
Pakistan on how best to wage the Campaign Against Terrorism, and how we can
move forward together.
I'll stop with that.
QUESTION: Well, where else? Can you say what the other like-minded countries
are that have so far been the recipients of this information?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't give you the list of countries because this information
is being shared on a classified basis and I am afraid I am not in a position
to indicate where we are able to do that and where we are not. I would say that,
generally, there are quite a number of nations in Europe. Obviously, we talked
to all of our NATO allies at NATO. There are countries in the Far East, there
are countries in the Middle East, there are countries in South Asia where we
have been talking to people and sharing the information that we can and to any
extent we can. Central Asia as well.
So to the extent we can with all governments, we share information and go back
and forth with them in various channels on the information that we know and
that we have.
QUESTION: Without saying any country, were these packets or whatever they are
-- cables, information to be shared -- sent to every embassy? Or were there
embassies that were not --
MR. BOUCHER: No, they were not sent to every embassy.
QUESTION: Can you characterize roughly what you are telling? Is it information
that leads directly to Usama bin Laden? Is it intelligence information? Is it
evidence that will stand up in a court of law? Can you in any way lead us any
MR. BOUCHER: I have tended to use the word "information" because we
are not in a court of law. And it is being shared on a classified basis and,
obviously, most of the time, when you go into a court of law, you have to have
it available for the jury and for the defense, et cetera. So this is not, we
are not, proceeding to trial. What we are doing is sharing information with
like-minded governments, telling them what we know, hearing from them what they
know. And it is a considerable body of information that comes from a whole variety
Clearly, when one looks at the pattern of activity of al-Qaida in past attacks,
and the kind of attack that this was, there is a similarity. There are also
elements that tie al-Qaida to this specific act, and those are the kinds of
things that we are sharing and discussing with other governments.
QUESTION: There is one other thing, and I know they're not exactly friends,
but the Taliban were also saying this morning -- their representative was saying
-- look, why don't you give us information because you are asking us to extradite
this person. What is your response to that?
MR. BOUCHER: My response, first of all, is that strikes me as a request for
delay and prevarication rather than any serious request. And second of all,
they're already overdue. They are already required by the United Nations resolutions
that relate to the bombings in East Africa to turn over al-Qaida, to turn over
their leadership, and to shut down the network of operations in their country.
There should be no further delay. There is no cause to ask for anything else.
They are already under this international obligation, and they have to meet
QUESTION: Richard, the Secretary said maybe 10 days ago that some information
will be shared with the public. Any closer to that?
MR. BOUCHER: Not today. What we have been able to share so far has been information
that we have been able to share with foreign governments. I don't have anything
that I can give you at this point. But as the Secretary has said, we look forward
to doing that when we can.
QUESTION: Richard, I wanted to make sure I'm clear on this. So the information
that you all are providing to people is information that relates not only to
the World Trade Center and Pentagon incidents, but also to embassy bombing and
other past incidents to show past practice and linkages?
MR. BOUCHER: I know that you would like to be quite clear on this, but I'm afraid
I'm not in a position to go through the information in any more detail than
QUESTION: Richard, just on another detail. If you were able to share the information
with us, would it be a notebook full, would it be a page? I mean, is there a
way to quantify the evidence you're sharing with others?
MR. BOUCHER: I think it would be a --
QUESTION: (Inaudible) breadbox?
MR. BOUCHER: (Laughter.) Yes, I'm trying to figure what the metaphor is. It
would be a significant amount of information, but obviously it's only a portion
of all the information that we and others have been able to amass, because a
lot of the things we know we're not able to share.
QUESTION: Richard, given the importance of building support in the Muslim world
and the Muslim allies, why aren't you providing enough information so that they
can sort of have cover from their own people, where all of them are being inundated
with sort of pro-bin Laden views? Why aren't you opening the books enough to
show them what you've got?
MR. BOUCHER: Who says we're not?
QUESTION: Richard, when you just responded to the question about the Taliban
asking for information, you said, "It strikes me as a request for delay
and prevarication." What exactly do you think the Taliban is lying about?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry?
MR. BOUCHER: I think they know enough to know that they have this obligation.
I don't think they can avoid it anymore. Maybe you're questioning my choice
of the word "prevarication." I'll go look it up afterwards.
QUESTION: I just want to know why you --
MR. BOUCHER: I'll go look it up, Matt. Sorry if I used the wrong word.
QUESTION: No, no. I just -- I thought maybe you meant something by it.
MR. BOUCHER: I'm happy to have my grammar corrected. I'll check it myself.
QUESTION: New subject?
MR. BOUCHER: Please.
QUESTION: I wanted to ask about the report that Secretary Powell was going to
give a speech recognizing the Palestinian state and laying out some other US
ideas at the UN. Is that, indeed, a correct account, and can you give us some
idea whether that speech might still be delivered in the near future?
MR. BOUCHER: There was no speech scheduled, as you know. At the same time, I
would say that we are always considering options at how best to end the violence
between Israelis and Palestinians. No decisions like this were made before September
11th on how best to proceed. But I'd point out, at the same time, that we've
been working very long and very hard on trying to move this process forward,
trying to create a momentum, trying to get the parties to end the violence and
get into the Mitchell Plan, and eventually that leads to negotiations.
So we were looking at how to get that process moving, and we still are.
QUESTION: So the story was incorrect, then?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to comment on specific details of a particular story.
QUESTION: You said no speech was planned and the story said explicitly a speech
MR. BOUCHER: I am not a commentator on press here. I am not going to tell you
-- if I start going through a story and saying, this piece was wrong and that
piece was right, then obviously I get myself into being a press commentator
instead of a spokesman for the US Government. So I am not about to do that.
QUESTION: Well, you said there was no speech scheduled. That's a little different
from saying, no speech planned.
MR. BOUCHER: Are we going to argue over the words "planned" and "scheduled"?
I tell you that we are always looking at various ways of how to proceed. We
have always been pushing hard on the substance of the policy and we continue
to do that.
QUESTION: What has been the US position vis-à-vis a Palestinian state?
MR. BOUCHER: As the President said this morning, the idea of a Palestinian state
has always been part of a vision, so long as Israel's right to exist is respected
as well. As the President also said this morning, first things first. We've
got to get into the Mitchell Plan, we've got to get into the process of ending
the violence, rebuilding confidence and returning to negotiations based on UN
Resolutions 242 and 338.
So our objective now needs to be to end the violence between the Israelis and
Palestinians. The administration has been engaged since it came into office
in an effort to do that. The recent cease-fire that was announced by Chairman
Arafat and Foreign Minister Peres is a step in that direction. We support it
and we will continue to support their effort. So our focus right now remains
on taking all possible steps to end the violence.
I would note, though, that the parties themselves have identified the creation
of a Palestinian state as the likely outcome of the negotiating process. And
Prime Minister Sharon, as recently as September 24th said, "Israel wants
to give the Palestinians what no one else has given them, the possibility of
establishing a state."
So in the context of a negotiated settlement between the parties, the United
States believes that the Palestinian people should live peacefully and securely
in their own state, just as the Israelis should live peacefully and safely in
their own state. Obviously, the nature of that state is something to be decided
QUESTION: Richard, can you say whether the people who deal with the Middle East
issues have discussed with the parties the possibility of a Palestinian state
during this administration?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that the parties themselves have discussed it-- you
have seen the remarks by Prime Minister Sharon -- so it has obviously been something
in the air. I don't know if I can go any farther than that, in saying this is
obviously a subject that is part of the discussions. It is one of the issues
that we have always defined as a final status issue and therefore has always
been envisaged to be dealt with at that point in the process. And this is a
process that leads back, we hope, through an end to violence and a rebuilding
of confidence, a process that leads back to the resumption of negotiations,
as the Secretary and others have pointed out, where they will deal with these
QUESTION: If you could just refresh our memory though, hasn't Secretary of State
Powell mentioned -- used the phrase "Palestinian state" in public
discourse before? I believe he has.
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't have a chance to do the word search on the Internet, but
-- I don't know.
QUESTION: Any plans for a new envoy?
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing. Nothing that we have to announce at this point.
QUESTION: Richard, long before the story came out this morning, and as recently
as the four days before the 11th, on the 7th, there were people in this building,
senior officials and then I think Secretary Powell himself, talking about how
you wanted the UN General Assembly session to be a kind of -- I don't want to
use the word "target" -- that that as a focal point.
MR. BOUCHER: It was a moment in time that we were looking at that could either
be trouble or be positive. And the Secretary himself had talked about how to
build some momentum by that time.
QUESTION: Is there now something coming up in the future that would be equivalent
of that? Or is it just every single day is that moment in time?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, the UN General Assembly will be scheduled as well. The point
was, looking at it in August, as we were looking at it, looking forward to the
UN General Assembly, it was quite clear that could either be a moment of great
complication and noise, or it could be a moment where the world realized that
there was something positive going on in the Middle East. And we wanted to make
sure it was a moment when there was something positive going on.
And so, during that time, we worked very hard on focusing people's minds again
on stopping the violence, helping them prepare for these meetings between Foreign
Minister Peres and Chairman Arafat. I think the Secretary at one point talked
about the possibility that there would be a series of meetings leading up to
the United Nations. So the focus has been, at that time, before September 11th,
on moving that process forward to create the momentum before the UN General
Now, clearly, September 11th changed a lot of things in terms of time tables
and specifics. But we have worked just as hard on the Middle East. We have worked
just as hard to try to make these meetings productive. And that is why we are
pleased that Chairman Arafat and Foreign Minister Peres had their meeting, that
it was a meeting that resulted in a lessening of violence and a cease-fire.
Not completely, and there is still work to be done. And that it was a meeting
that produced some specifics for both sides to move forward with.
And so we will continue to work with them in that process, perhaps without the
same sense of deadline but with a sense now that they have begun something that
absolutely needs to be continued. And every day, the importance of that is --
we are reminded of the importance of that.
QUESTION: But the short answer to my question then was, no, right? That there
MR. BOUCHER: There is going to be a UN meeting coming up.
MR. BOUCHER: But we are moving beyond the point of saying we've got to be somewhere
by then, to say there's something getting started now, it's good, let's make
sure it continues. We don't want to lose this opportunity that we have now,
and we don't want the parties to lose the opportunity that they themselves have
QUESTION: Has Mr. Burns or someone from his department, are they going to the
MR. BOUCHER: Again, I don't have anything new to say on that at this point.
They do go from time to time, but I don't have anything new to say today.
QUESTION: He's here, then?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, he's upstairs. Or maybe in the cafeteria. I don't know.
QUESTION: Is there a danger that with this out-and-out terrorism by bin Laden
and al-Qaida, that they're doing this purposely? And also there's been trouble,
as we've mentioned, within the last day or two in Colombia and elsewhere that
this is -- to try and focus specifically on one location and maybe not another?
And what -- throughout the world, in talking to various governments and various
entities, what in the word "no" don't people understand? How are you
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure I follow the line of questioning here. What is "this"
that's going on that you're concerned about?
QUESTION: Okay. How are you getting into some of the problematic areas with
various entities that what a terrorist is, as you mentioned a day ago, and to
make clearly known what you expect in those particular entities and/or governments?
I'm saying this in a general manner, not specifically.
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, I know. I don't know how to quite answer the question. We've
been in to talk to governments around the world about the need to combat terrorism,
about the things we can do to prevent terrorism, the things we can do to stop
the financing, to stop the transits, to stop the training, to stop the ability
of these groups to operate. Those apply throughout the world. Those apply in
the United Nations resolution to all terrorist groups, to all activities of
QUESTION: But, as a group -- okay, and to go further, if these groups don't
adhere to particular governments, and let's say are fighting them, is there
any broad consensus, for instance, in a worldwide meeting on terrorism, or whatever,
that would work --
MR. BOUCHER: At this point, there's no consensus to do that sort of thing, but
there is, I think, a strong commitment of the international community to fight
terrorism and for governments to help each other in that regard.
These groups don't operate in a vacuum. They operate in places where there's
lawlessness, they operate in places where there is tolerance. And we need to
remove that sort of opportunity for these groups to operate.
QUESTION: Is there anything you can say about Mr. Powell's meeting with Jaswant
Singh, and what we expect?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, in a very short time, I expect the Secretary himself will
say, not only what he expects, but what he did with the Indian Foreign Minister.
The Indian Foreign Minister is in town today meeting with Secretary Powell,
Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld. Yesterday, at the White House, he
met with the President, with Dr. Rice. He is also Defense Minister, so we're
talking to him about not only the coalition against terrorism, but also issues
involving defense cooperation.
India is obviously a key partner in the global coalition against terrorism,
and the United States' relationship with India is one of the most important
ones we have. The US and India already cooperate extensively against terrorism,
and our cooperation is growing. We established a counter-terrorism joint working
group in January of the year 2000, for example.
New Delhi was also one of the first to offer full support for the global coalition
against terrorism. They have experienced terrible acts of terrorism themselves,
including yesterday's bombing in Srinagar, Kashmir. They've lost close to 250
people in the attack on the World Trade Center.
So I think we are very much in this together with the Indians, and I just saw
the Indian Foreign Minister on TV. And he expressed the same sentiment, that
they are very much together with us.