Department Spokesman Richard Boucher
October 9, 2001
QUESTION: Can you make a -- maybe you can't. Is there a distinction between
what you would term "inflammatory rhetoric" and actual news reporting,
as in, you know, having a principal player -- for better or for worse, that's
what he is, you've accused him of being behind all this thing, he is the prime
suspect. Is that different than, say, a talk show where some guy gets on and
rails about how wonderful bin Laden is? I mean, is there a difference between
actual reporting and the rhetoric that you are concerned about?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: There is. Okay, so, if it's reporting and reporting that is --
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to take -- I don't set the programming guidelines
for al Jazeera. I don't decide what they are going to air. They have a leadership,
they have a board of directors, whatever. They can decide what to put on the
air. If we have certain concerns about some of the things that appear, we're
going to express those.
QUESTION: Right, okay. But do you know --
MR. BOUCHER: But we also work with them as any media outlet to try to make ourselves
QUESTION: I understand. I'm just asking you, did you express concern to them
in the last two days about their airing the bin Laden tape?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I have heard of.
QUESTION: You didn't -- but you have expressed concern to them before about
their talk shows or call-in shows, not about their reporting?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, we have expressed our concerns about some of the kinds of
things we have seen on their air, particularly inflammatory stories, totally
untrue stories, things like that. This has been done frankly in the past in
the last administration as well. This has been over the years.
I think the Amir also pointed out to us that he gets lots of complaints about
al Jazeera from all quarters, that either reflects on their programming or it
reflects on the sensitivities that exist in a lot of places in the world. I'm
not able to give you a specific commentary on their programming, other than
to say that we have seen things from time to time that we consider inflammatory,
particularly things that are untrue and inflammatory, and that we have mentioned
that concern to the Amir of Qatar, but that also we have made efforts in a positive
direction with al Jazeera to try to make ourselves available. The Secretary
of State himself did an interview with al Jazeera in order to make sure that
we were offering them what we would like to offer any other major news outlet
in this part of the world, and that's a chance to describe our views in our
QUESTION: Richard, can you say if the Secretary has seen the Usama bin Laden
-- the entirety of the statement?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know; I actually didn't ask him. I'll see if I can.
QUESTION: Have people -- I assume people in this building have seen it. Do you
believe that he is indeed admitting that he was responsible for the --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have that detailed an analysis of it. I'm not sure if we
did the analysis based on the original language and things like that. So I'd
have to see on that.
QUESTION: Do you have any analysis of it?
MR. BOUCHER: As somebody pointed out, it was presumably taped beforehand. It
was views that we've heard before, things that we've heard him say before, threats
we've heard him make before, against not only us but against many others in
the Muslim world. And therefore, I don't think there's anything particular to
say about it.
QUESTION: There's a meeting in Doha of the Organization of Islamic Conference.
What message would you have for those people at the meeting, where they're considering
an appeal by the Taliban to condemn the bombings?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, I think we have been in touch with many members of the Organization
of Islamic Conference. We have certainly discussed with them the important role
that they play in the Muslim world. We noted early on that they issued quite
clear statements indicating that terrorism is against the Islamic religion,
that they were quite outspoken on that point, and we appreciated that.
So I expect that they would meet and continue along these lines.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on that? What measures is the United States taking
in the Muslim and Arab world to protect its missions, or to -- I mean, as a
result of this. Are you -- you've canceled some conferences, you've canceled
travel. Have personnel been withdrawn?
QUESTION: Can we go to that --
QUESTION: After you do that, can we stand to outside --
MR. BOUCHER: For the rest of the world?
MR. BOUCHER: Let's do the whole world at once, and then maybe I can get down
to some of this.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) the OIC thing once more?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay. At one point. Let's do the whole world for a second. All
our diplomatic posts are open. While the majority are providing full services,
a number of posts are providing limited services only, and I will get to that
list in a moment.
All posts around the world are operating in a state of very high alert. Everybody
is being careful. There are continuous meetings of security committees and other
things at our embassies and consulates to make sure that their security postures
are continually reviewed and that they take any additional steps that are necessary.
I am not going to be able to discuss specific steps taken at specific places,
but I think generally there has been a lot done.
In addition, in those instances where the security measures affect private Americans
in the country, posts have disseminated Warden messages to the local American
community. US citizens with questions or concerns about their safety and security
abroad should contact their local US embassy or their local consulate and we
can give them information there.
I would say also, around the world, we have in many cases asked local governments
to help us out to do a lot of things to assist us with our security. And we
have found local governments in many cases -- in almost all cases or all cases
to be outstanding.
The -- I will do Indonesia, too, but yes, including Indonesia. We found very
good support there as well.
The posts that are providing only emergency services for American citizens today
are Algiers, Baku, Dakar, Djibouti, Jakarta, Lahore, Oslo, Sanaa, San Paulo,
and Windhoek. I thought that was supposed to be eight, but now it seems like
more. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Okay.
Algiers in Algeria; Baku in Azerbaijan; Dakar in Senegal; Djibouti in Djibouti;
Jakarta, Indonesia; Lahore, Pakistan; Oslo, Norway; Sanaa in Yemen; Sao Paulo,
Brazil; and Windhoek, Namibia.
The visa section in the US Embassy in Islamabad is closed through October 12th.
In addition -- the visa section in Islamabad at the US Embassy is closed through
October 12th. In addition, there is no public access for visas or the library
in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
We have a number of posts that are under authorized departure. This is where
we tell our non-emergency personnel and family members at a post that they can
leave if they wish to, and a lot of people are taking advantage of that. There
are four posts in Pakistan under that status. Turkmenistan is under authorized
departure, Yemen, Kyrgyz Republic, Indonesia -- two posts. Macedonia has been
on ordered departure since July of 2001. And in these cases where we have authorized
or ordered departure, we also issue travel warnings, which tells other Americans
that they should consider the possibility of departure.
If I can just add one more thing, we sent messages over the weekend, Sunday,
to alert our posts as we began to take military action. And in those messages,
we told chiefs of missions -- the Secretary told chiefs of missions that their
highest priority at this stage should be the safety of Americans and the safety
of their missions. So that is something that all our chiefs of mission are attending
Should I go right on to Indonesia? Okay.
The situation in Indonesia. There were demonstrations in front of both the embassy
in Jakarta and our consulate in Surabaya on October 9th. Security around our
missions has been excellent. The demonstrations were peaceful in Surabaya. In
Jakarta, demonstrators attempted to push through the barricades but were controlled
by the police. We clearly take very seriously any threats against American citizens
and US facilities and personnel, and we are working very closely in Indonesia
with Indonesian authorities to provide appropriate security.
And, of course, you all know that we put out a travel advisory for -- a travel
warning for Indonesia at the end of September that still is in effect.
QUESTION: A couple of these authorized posts aren't new. They have been in existence
for -- is it all of them?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, depending on how far you go back. Many of them since last
QUESTION: Okay. So it wasn't anything in result of --
MR. BOUCHER: No, it is not -- I don't believe there are any new ones since the
bombing, except for some of the ones that may be closed today. Of course, most
of our posts were closed yesterday -- all of our posts, I think -- for Columbus
QUESTION: A lot of these Warden messages on the web site and on the recordings
are advising Americans to stay at home, not to send their children to school.
Is there anything you can say to Americans overseas? Should all Americans everywhere
be doing this? Is it a very dangerous time for Americans abroad everywhere?
MR. BOUCHER: I think if you look at most of the Warden messages that our embassies
have disseminated to their local American community, they have put out messages
that basically take the Worldwide Caution that we have issued from the Department
and put it in perhaps local terms. We had the Worldwide Caution that went out
on October 7th, that is on Sunday, that told Americans that there were strong
anti-American sentiment in some places, that there might be actions against
US citizens in others. So the advice was to monitor the local news, maintain
contact with the nearest American embassy or consulate, and limit their movement
in their respective locations. It is basically advice to keep in touch and be
careful. So that is the kind of advice we have generally given to people around
Now, in specific places where we have authorized some of our people to leave,
we have put out information that said you might want to consider leaving as
well. In specific places like Indonesia, where we knew of certain practices,
like the sweeps that had gone on, where some people were apparently looking
for Americans, we have advised Americans in more detail.
QUESTION: Richard, on the embassies? Are all of the embassies and consulates
where there's limited services going on, are they all related to what's going
on now? I mean, in Afghanistan. Or are some of them -- I mean, Sao Paulo --
I mean, are there other things? I know you won't want to be specific, but I
mean, is it all related to the operation that's now -- the military operation
that's now under way in --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know that I can say it's all related to the military operation
that's under way, because in some of these places we have had limited operations,
like Lahore in Pakistan, or Jakarta, I think, Djibouti -- limited operations
before the military activity started.
There are two, maybe three, factors that can lead to this situation. One is
that we do indeed authorize departure, and enough -- so many of our personnel
leave that we're not able to sustain a high level of services. And that would
be where we have authorized non-emergency personnel to leave. Sometimes that
impacts the operation of public services.
The second would be -- and this is more generally the case -- that when something
happens, like the military action, we tell posts to review your security procedures
and make sure you are doing everything possible. And so individual chiefs of
missions may decide, I'm not so certain about the backyard fence, and I'm going
to close my post to public services until we can fix it.
So there may be individual circumstances where somebody on the ground has looked
at it and said I'm not as comfortable as I'd like to be; I'm going to close
down for some public services until I can fix it. That has frequently been the
case, and probably in many of these cases that is the situation.
The third would be if we had some kind of specific information. And if we did
have specific information that not only affected us, but generally would affect
the American traveling public as well, then we would also couple that with a
QUESTION: Back on Indonesia then for one thing. I noticed the Secretary swearing
in this afternoon a new ambassador there. Are you hoping that the new ambassador
will have a less fractious relationship than the former ambassador, or the outgoing
ambassador has had with the Indonesian authorities?
MR. BOUCHER: Our ambassadors, outgoing and incoming, represent US policy. They
are expected to be energetic and forceful advocates of US policy, and I'm sure
they all will be.
QUESTION: I have two questions. The first is, has this building undertaken any
conversations with countries expressing concern? And following Ambassador Negroponte's
letter to the Security Council yesterday in which he said the United States
might have to take action against other countries?
MR. BOUCHER: I do believe that they have had conversations up at the UN. Certainly,
there was a Security Council discussion yesterday afternoon, which would have
been after our letter was received, where they were talking about the coalition
against terrorism, and I think there was -- including the military action that
we took. And I would say that there was generally -- there was a lot of support
in the Security Council yesterday for the action we had taken and for the continuation
of efforts against terrorism.
The letter that we sent to the UN on Sunday, October 7th, was a routine notification
that takes place whenever we undertake action that's in exercising our right
to self-defense under Article 51 of the Charter. That was the kind of notification
-- it's an Article 51 report that we sent up that just says we have exercised
our right to self-defense. The letter explains what we did and said that we
reserve the right to do other things as necessary. But it did not in any way
forecast particular future action.
QUESTION: Richard, can I follow up on that? I understand that it was a written
letter, but surely it is not routine to inform the Security Council that the
United States might attack other countries, especially when you've been bombing
Afghanistan all day?
MR. BOUCHER: It is routine to notify the Security Council whenever we take action
in self-defense. And I think the reference in the letter to the possibility
of further actions is consistent with what we have been saying in public, that
this was going to be a long-term global campaign against terrorism that would
move in a variety of ways and a variety of places.
QUESTION: You said this is a routine letter. Does the Secretary usually approve
such a letter and, in this case, did he approve the sentence that said that
the United States reserves the right to future strikes?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know.
QUESTION: Could you take that?
MR. BOUCHER: I will see if that is something we want to comment on. Usually,
we try not to get into our internal procedures. It was a letter from our ambassador
to the United Nations. He represents the view of the United States Government.
QUESTION: Can we go back to the embassy situation for a second?
MR. BOUCHER: Sure.
QUESTION: Has there been any directive from this building sent out to diplomatic
posts about a threat of chemical weapon attack and how American diplomats should
-- should they be doing something? Should they be preparing for that? Was there
any wording to that effect that this possibility exists, perhaps, in certain
parts of the world at this time?
MR. BOUCHER: Not that I have heard of. I will double check.
QUESTION: Back to the OIC and also the Arab League, but are you looking for
a similar kind of a commitment to actually have something more substantive than
statements, similar to the EU and the OAS, from the OIC with regards to financial
legislation, extradition procedures, and other kinds of counter-terrorist measures?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that each nation has its own area of expertise, its
own ability to act in different areas. And to some extent, it will depend on
each organization. We know that the Africans, for example, are moving within
the Organization for African Unity on further steps that they can take together
because, indeed, they have had conventions on terrorism and work in that area
As far as what the Organization of Islamic Conference might be able to do, I
really don't know. It will depend on the organization or the Arab League as
Certainly the European Union, in that it does have extensive coordination of
legal and financial and other steps, has been a place where we have seen a lot
of action and a lot of very positive and substantive action in the financial
area and in the legal area. The G-7, for example, this weekend, that's additionally,
which has worked many times on terrorism in the past and on finances, the G-7
took the step this weekend at their meeting to extend the work of the Financial
Action Task Force, which has previously worked on money laundering and drugs,
into the area of terrorism as well.
So different organizations have different capabilities. Certainly, we have appreciated
the steps that the EU has taken, appreciated the steps the G-7 has taken, appreciated
the statement and the steps from the OIC and its members.
QUESTION: The Secretary's trip to India and Pakistan, any details about that,
what a schedule would be?
MR. BOUCHER: Not much detail at this point. The President has asked the Secretary
to go to India and Pakistan to talk about the overall effort, to talk about
efforts that they are making, each of them individually in different areas,
to support the coalition. And certainly we welcome the strong support we have
seen from Pakistan and welcome the strong support and efforts that we have seen
from India as well.
The trip will be -- I guess the best way to phrase it is, not before the end
of the week. Not before the end of the workweek, let's put it that way. Exactly
what day we are leaving, I can't tell you. I don't know at this point.
QUESTION: Richard, could you talk about whether the Secretary intends to use
this trip to encourage the Indians and Pakistanis to cool it? There seems to
have been deterioration in relations since September 11th.
MR. BOUCHER: Certainly, we have an interest in making sure that this crisis
doesn't become an object of dispute, conflict between India and Pakistan. I
would say that, so far, we have seen very strong efforts on both their parts
to carry forward the work of the coalition. We have seen obviously different
things in different places and we would expect that.
But so far, we have been very pleased with the cooperation, and I would say
the trip is more to thank them for what they have done and to work on the further
cooperation that we all need to do in order to continue this process of fighting
terrorism over the long haul.
QUESTION: Have you seen reports that Musharraf has invited the Indian Foreign
Minister to come to Islamabad and the Prime Minister, I guess, one or the other?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we did see a report -- maybe I should have referred to
it. I must have it around here somewhere. I think what we saw was a report that
they had talked, I think. President Musharraf and Prime Minister Vajpayee have
talked. That is certainly a welcome development and we appreciate any coordination
that they have.
President Musharraf also made statements today reinforcing Pakistan's commitment
in support of the global coalition. As I noted earlier, he said that in his
view the vast majority of Pakistanis supported his government's decision. So
we are confident that Pakistan will fulfill its commitments as a key member,
and we also welcome the cooperation that we have had with India. And I think
any cooperation between them is welcome as well.
QUESTION: Also on India, there have also been reports that the State Department
has promised that the group Jaish-e-Mohammed would be -- would graduate from
being an other terrorist organization to a full-blown foreign terrorist organization.
Can you verify?
MR. BOUCHER: I would say that we have agreed to take a very close look at them
in relation to the criteria for listing groups on the Foreign Terrorist List.
We have expressed our strong condemnation of this attack on the legislature
in Srinagar. And they have claimed responsibility for it. So we have been concerned
about the violent activities of this group, as has the Indian Government. So
we will be taking a very close look at them for a variety of reasons.
QUESTION: You are not trying to save maybe the good news for the Indian Government
for the trip?
MR. BOUCHER: I'll tell you -- you'll be the first to know. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: On the same thing, on Jaish-e-Mohammed, there are good reasons for
believing the Pakistani Government sponsors this group. How does -- how would
that fit into your view of Pakistan? Would it then become a state sponsor of
terrorism? How would you handle that?
MR. BOUCHER: You are asking me a hypothetical question based on facts I can't
confirm for you. I would note the Pakistani Government issued an immediate and
a very, very strong condemnation of the attack that took place in Srinagar.