Department Spokesman Richard Boucher
October 11, 2001
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon. I don't have any new statements or announcements
today. I would be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Let's, if we could, return for a minute to the issue of Saudi cooperation.
Now there is a report in a newspaper that the Saudis are declining to freeze
assets of terrorist groups, that they're dragging their heels, similar to the
idea a week or two ago that they wouldn't permit the US use of their Prince
Sultan base. Could you characterize Saudi behavior on asset freezing for us?
MR. BOUCHER: I would be glad to, and it remains where we -- what we have said
before. We are very satisfied with Saudi cooperation. They have been with us
in many areas of this coalition and many of the steps that need to be taken.
You know, they have helped to isolate the Taliban diplomatically. They have
worked with us on a number of military requests that we have had. And we are
working together in the financial area as well. So we are very satisfied with
the cooperation. We found that they have been together on everything that we
Specifically, on the question of financial discussions, we have had financial
discussions with Saudi experts on how to take steps together in the financial
area. We will have those discussions continue. As the President and the Secretary
have made clear, we are in a long-term campaign against terrorism. Combating
terrorist financing is an integral part of that, but not necessarily one that
leads to instant results. So we are working together with the Saudis on that.
As far as the specifics, as you know, we are not trying to speak for other governments.
But I do know that the Reuters news agency has reported half a dozen or several
different things the Saudi Government has done. And since they are present in
the room and like to be mentioned, let me cite that October 1st, Reuters said
that Saudi Arabia had announced it was about to join the convention for the
suppression of the financing on terrorism. That they have ordered banks to check
for dealings with suspect groups and individuals on the 9th, which is two days
ago. The Ministry of Commerce in Saudi Arabia issued detailed instructions to
chambers of commerce on monitoring of reporting of suspicious business dealings
and financial transactions.
So these are facts that I am sure you will all check out before making sweeping
statements. But, at least according to the reports I have, they are taking specific
steps and I know that from the kind of cooperation we have expected, we have
found the kind of cooperation to be very satisfying.
QUESTION: Richard, I was under the impression you guys didn't think that wire
stories were the be all and end all of accuracy --
MR. BOUCHER: I said that people will want to check this out and make sure the
wire stories are correct. But, obviously, those are verifiable facts that you
could probably find out for yourself.
QUESTION: And only that one agency, or have other people reported this as well?
MR. BOUCHER: I guess this is the one we happened to be reading at the time that
we noticed these things.
QUESTION: I noticed at the hearing when a member of Congress congratulated you
for being able to be unflappable when tormented by reporters. You didn't say
QUESTION: By horrendously unpleasant people.
QUESTION: By horrendously unpleasant people.
QUESTION: -- horrendously unpleasant people, you didn't jump across the table
and punch him out. (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: I didn't have a chance to disagree.
QUESTION: Well, do you share Congressman Lantos' opinion that the State Department
press corps is a particularly unpleasant bunch or some of us are?
MR. BOUCHER: I plead the Fifth Amendment. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: There was a Saudi prince in New York today who made some comments
against the US Government's policy on the Middle East, saying we have to examine
some of the issues that led to this attack, the US Government should re-examine
its Middle East policy. Those comments were made after Ari Fleischer this morning
said that the Saudis were giving us everything, their cooperation had been fine.
Do you have any reaction to that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know who you are talking about and what exactly they said.
QUESTION: Well, that's been said.
MR. BOUCHER: Well, that's -- thank you. I'm going to have to see it myself in
the wire stories before I comment on it. But we all know that the Saudi Government
has been concerned, has been interested in the Middle East. We talk to the Saudis
as a close friend and ally about the Middle East all the time, and we will continue
to work with them.
I think it is important to remember that these people who are attacking the
United States and attacking civilization have attacked the World Trade Center
twice, once when the Middle East process was in full swing and making progress,
and once now when we are still grappling with the issue of violence. So frankly
the activities of al-Qaida seem to be totally unrelated to the status of the
Middle East peace process.
QUESTION: Well, have the Saudis told you that they're unhappy with your policy
towards Israel and the Palestinians?
MR. BOUCHER: As I have often said, we talk with the Saudis all the time about
the Middle East peace process, and I will let the Saudis express their opinion
if they want to.
QUESTION: Richard, in Saudi Arabia and actually in Kuwait as well, overnight
-- also in Saudi Arabia last week -- there have been a couple of incidents,
security-related. In Kuwait there was a Canadian who was shot and killed, and
I know that the embassy -- I think it was Kuwait -- was that right? The embassy
there has put out a message saying, be extra careful. And then in Saudi there
was apparently a bomb that may have been targeting some Germans who escaped
But I'm just wondering -- and then there was the bomb that killed an American
last week -- have you guys linked this -- any of these incidents -- to terrorism?
And even if you haven't, what's the security situation now in the Gulf?
MR. BOUCHER: I will have to double check on that. As you know, embassies around
the world have put out the Worldwide Caution that we issued the other day, and
they have mostly issued it to the local American community through the warden
network to tell people to be extra careful and to exercise all possible caution.
That's the Worldwide Caution that we have issued being repeated by our embassies.
As far as the specific situation in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, I will have to
check. I'm not aware of any particular situations there, certainly regarding
Americans. But I will check on those incidents and see what our interpretation
QUESTION: Okay. And then on the same lines, I noticed that the embassy in Indonesia
is going to be closed through Friday because of the continuing demonstrations,
and also that this radical Islamic group says it has begun sweeps. What do you
-- what's the situation in Jakarta right now and outlying areas?
MR. BOUCHER: One, we've got a Travel Advisory that mentions the "sweeps,"
as they're called, and advises Americans specifically about Indonesia, to be
careful out there. Second of all, I think I said yesterday, the embassy in Jakarta
was going to be closed to public services until the 12th. That's tomorrow, Friday,
like you said.
And yesterday, there were two peaceful demonstrations in front of our embassy
in Jakarta. Again, the police protection was outstanding, and there were no
demonstrations at the consulate general in Surabaya. Clearly, we remain concerned
about threats made by radical groups against US citizens and property. We are
working closely with Indonesian police to ensure appropriate security.
Our embassy was open today for employees and for emergency American citizen
services. So the general public -- we are not open to the general public, but
we are open to others for emergency services.
And I would point out that yesterday, on Wednesday, the Secretary did talk to
President Megawati and discussed the cooperation of the coalition, as well as
the security situation for Americans.
QUESTION: Not to be too technical, but when you say opened some -- those American
citizens, you mean?
MR. BOUCHER: Emergency services for American citizens, yes. Not open to the
general public, the way we might be in other places.
QUESTION: Can I go back, just to go back to Saudi Arabia, can you specifically
whether or not you have requested the Saudis to close certain bank accounts
and certain charities, and whether or not the Saudis have agreed to that?
MR. BOUCHER: I can't. From the beginning, we have established the policy of
not being too specific about the requests that we have made, nor am I going
to talk or disclose for other governments what they might have done. That is
a question you will have to ask them. If they want to talk about specific steps
they have taken in the financial area, we would be happy to have them do that.
I have cited three or four that I have seen already discussed in public by the
QUESTION: But given these statements from Saudi officials, regarding that they
have said they have not gotten any request and now this New York Times report,
I mean, there is a bit of confusion when you and Mr. Fleischer tell us that
there has been cooperation on all these levels --
MR. BOUCHER: I can't account for confusion created in the newspapers. I can
only tell you the truth.
QUESTION: Richard, you had said earlier in the week that you would check on
whether you could quantify for us bank accounts, the financial -- the freezing
of financial assets and how that was going. Can I see if you have anything on
that, and add on to that, how effective do you think this is really going to
be in choking off al-Qaida? We don't know necessarily whether bin Laden has
other resources that wouldn't be held in banks. In fact, we know he probably
So do you have any guess yet on how effective this is going to be?
MR. BOUCHER: I am still double-checking on some of the numbers, frankly. I am
trying to reconcile some of the different numbers to make sure that what we
give you is accurate and true.
I would say two things to keep in mind even as we try to look for numbers and
look at numbers. The one is that many of the financial steps are to prevent
the banking system from being used by terrorists. A lot of what is going on
is people put in regulations and laws that prevent that from happening. The
Group of Seven, as you know, over the weekend decided that they would extend
their cooperation in this area. They decided that the Financial Action Task
Force, which has been very good in helping countries put in place laws that
prevent drug money laundering, would extend this work to terrorism as well.
The goal is to deny access to the international financial systems, to deny the
Now, there are other ways to move money in the world. There are informal mechanisms.
And we need governments and countries to go after those as well, to investigate
and to use law enforcement tools as well as banking regulations to stop those
from being used as well. So the amount of money seized depends somewhat on where
the money happened to be at the time. But the denial of access to the financial
services is the primary goal of having these regulations in place.
QUESTION: There are plenty of things that they may do, that al-Qaida may do,
that don't take money. I mean, obviously, the big plane crashes, the training
MR. BOUCHER: It is part of the bigger picture. That is why we say we are going
to use every tool at our disposal. Finance is definitely part of the picture.
You can't do these things without money, and you can do them more easily if
you are able to move money and finance them. But, certainly, we have to get
to this in any number of ways, and that is why we say the diplomatic tools,
the political cooperation, the law enforcement cooperation, the intelligence
sharing, the information sharing more generally, the financial tools and the
military ones are all going to have to be used to try to prevent these kinds
QUESTION: When Secretary Powell goes to India and Pakistan soon, what messages
is he going to take? And specifically on the question of nuclear instability
there and on Mr. Vajpayee's statements earlier suggesting that India might take
military action in Kashmir?
MR. BOUCHER: I am not going to get into too much detail and specifics or to
predict which aspect will be discussed. But I think the most important thing
is to thank India and Pakistan, each in their own way, for their cooperation,
to talk about how to continue acting together and moving together against terrorism,
and to talk about the very important relationships we have with India and the
very important relationship we have with Pakistan as well.
QUESTION: This morning, the Ambassador of India was speaking at the Woodrow
Wilson Center, and he said that if India will have another terrorist attack
supported by Pakistan, India will attack Pakistan. Now, in the midst of this
war going on against Afghanistan and all that, so how Secretary will ease this
tension? I mean, is he going to talk with General Musharraf that what he is
doing into India, it's better not to do at this time?
MR. BOUCHER: I would go back to what we have said before on this. I think we
have had this discussion two or three times in the last few days. The United
States has all along tried to work with all the parties in that region to encourage
them to deal with each other, to encourage them to act with restraint, to encourage
them to take steps to calm the tension. We've always done that; we'll continue
to do that. We welcome the meetings that they had earlier this year; we welcome
the phone calls of the last few days, which we see as steps designed to do that.
We have also asked the parties in the region to use their influence wherever
possible, to deny facilities or to make it more difficult for terrorist groups
to operate, and we have asked them to use their influence to try to get groups
to refrain from violence and seek political solutions. So that, I assume, would
continue to be part of our message.
But as I said, the trip now is focused on the coalition. The trip now is focused
on the cooperation and the relationships we have each with each of these countries.
To the extent that there are things to discuss as far as their relationship
with each other, I'm sure there will be discussions on that point, because that
has always been part of our discussion with each of them in the past.
QUESTION: Could you characterize -- well, there aren't too many democracies
outside of Europe that are part of the coalition, but India is one. Could you
characterize for us a little bit what areas of cooperation they have been useful
in? And when you talk about restraint, how about that old saw about provocative
statements, which is the admonition usually given in another part of the world?
Isn't it pretty much a tinderbox, and provocative statements aren't welcome
by the US?
MR. BOUCHER: We don't like provocative statements anywhere in the world, I guess
you might say. But, Barry, I don't -- if you're asking about -- don't take that
remark and try to apply it to something you're not telling me about. That's
what I'm saying. Don't try to say that, you know, so-and-so said this, and the
United States complained.
QUESTION: Oh, sure.
MR. BOUCHER: Because I don't know what I'm commenting on.
QUESTION: No, I don't want to link it to anything. I mean in the general sense.
MR. BOUCHER: We don't like provocative statements. That's for sure.
MR. BOUCHER: Once again you're putting me in the position of trying to speak
for another government and describe --
QUESTION: General terms. We hear it about the Europeans all the time.
MR. BOUCHER: We have a lot of important cooperation with India on the coalition
against terrorism, but at this point, we will leave it to the Indians to describe
it. They have talked somewhat in public about the things that they were prepared
QUESTION: There have been reports that the United States is not attacking the
Taliban forces opposite the Northern Alliance north of Kabul, and that this
is part of a strategy of the future of Afghanistan, of bowing to Pakistan and
other governments who don't want to see those guys take over, that there's something
going on. What does the future of Afghanistan look like to the United States,
and is the United States in fact acceding to a Pakistani wish that the Northern
Alliance not be allowed to take Kabul?
MR. BOUCHER: This is an interesting theory. As far as the US military attacks,
you can ask the Pentagon. As far as the future of Afghanistan, I think you can
ask a crystal ball. As far as our position, I will repeat what I have said before.
We do believe that Afghanistan needs a broad-based government. We have been
working for many years with the UN and others on that. We have been keeping
in touch with all the various parties. And we have made quite clear that were
there to be such a broad-based government in Afghanistan, we would intend to
help that government with reconstruction, with developing the country.
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? Are you saying that you have no plan
for helping in the assistance and the setting up of some sort of government
to replace the Taliban?
MR. BOUCHER: I just said that we were talking to a lot of parties, encouraging
them to organize, to work together to form a broad-based government for Afghanistan,
and if there were such a government, we would support it.
QUESTION: Richard, that was an interesting half-slip of the tongue you just
made earlier. Does the United States still believe that Pakistan needs a broad-based
and elected government?
MR. BOUCHER: Our views on democracy in Pakistan haven't changed.
QUESTION: And have those been brought up in recent meetings? Is this something
that you -- or is that kind of --
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know.
QUESTION: Or is that to be assumed --
MR. BOUCHER: I would expect it to be discussed when the Secretary goes. I think
you remember when Tony Blair was out there, he mentioned in his press conference
that he had talked about a return to democracy there, and we have discussed
QUESTION: And more along the lines of what Ben was asking, how -- is there any
update in your contacts with your favorite deposed monarch?
MR. BOUCHER: I have no idea who you might be talking about. We don't have any
favorite deposed monarchs --
QUESTION: The former King of Afghanistan, has there been any --
MR. BOUCHER: We don't play favorites. We are not choosing a faction, we are
not choosing a favorite in the Afghan horserace.
QUESTION: I wasn't actually meaning that he was your favorite in Afghanistan.
I just meant in general, favorite deposed --
MR. BOUCHER: Among deposed monarchs of the world?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, we don't choose our favorite deposed monarch.
QUESTION: Have there been any contacts with the King lately?
MR. BOUCHER: Nothing particularly that I'm aware of. I don't have any news on
QUESTION: Just to follow up, can you describe or say if Pakistan has any place
at all in this broad-based process that you would like to encourage in Afghanistan
in terms of coming up with a government? Is there any role for Pakistan in that?
MR. BOUCHER: Pakistan has long been a member of the Six-Plus-Two group, which
has discussed these issues and tried to work with Mr. Vendrell of the United
Nations, the Secretary General's senior high representative or something like
that -- Secretary General's Special Representative for Afghanistan. So we have
all worked with him. This idea of a broad-based government has been discussed
before and we have all discussed it with the various factions that we keep in
So, certainly, I think there is general support in the international community
for the idea that a broad-based government in Afghanistan would have the support
of the international community. And I said just a moment ago if there were such
a government, clearly we would help with reconstruction and development.
QUESTION: If I could follow up on the Six-Plus-Two comment, does that mean that
Pakistan's role in any kind of government in Afghanistan would be the same as
Iran or Russia or, for that matter, the United States, as any of those people
on that group?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think any of us pretend to be choosing the future government
QUESTION: The Pakistanis would like to choose the future of the government of
MR. BOUCHER: You can ask the Pakistanis that. This whole process has been supportive
of the idea of broad-based government for Afghanistan. But what that government
is, how it is chosen, how it is formed, is up to the Afghan people to decide.
QUESTION: Richard, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman gave a press conference,
apparently and asked -- and denied that American troops had landed in Pakistan.
And then he said that they would deal with whether they give visas to US troops
to land when the situation arises.
I just didn't know. Do troops need visas? (Laughter.) I mean, he's answering
the question and I just think it seems like a strange question.
MR. BOUCHER: It depends on the country and the arrangements that we make.
MR. BOUCHER: No, it's not -- that's chatter. That is not comparable in any way
to any situations we are facing right now.
QUESTION: I wasn't -- does Pakistan require them?
MR. BOUCHER: Somebody else was.
I don't know. That is a question for the Pakistani Government to answer, as
far as what the formalities might be for the entry of military personnel into
their country. I would say only that, as far as troop presence, you can check
with the Pentagon. I am not going to get into any operational aspects of our
cooperation. But we are confident that Pakistan will fulfill its commitment
as a key member of the global coalition. Pakistan continues to cooperate fully
and closely with efforts to end the use of Afghanistan as a haven for terrorists.
QUESTION: Are you aware of a taped phone message received by VOA from Mullah
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: Could you check to see whether you have been apprised of it and whether
you have any comment?
MR. BOUCHER: Okay.
QUESTION: The US is clearly playing a direct role, obviously, in the military
campaign. And once it wins the war or if it wins the war, how direct a role
will the US be playing to try to win the peace? Beyond encouraging the political
parties to form a broad-based government, what sort of overt, explicit role
do you anticipate in setting up institutions of government?
MR. BOUCHER: I think we just talked about that for 10 minutes. I don't have
anything to add to what I said in the last five minutes.
QUESTION: You talked about encouraging a broad-based government. I am trying
to flesh out what does "encouragement" mean and what do you do beyond
MR. BOUCHER: We are meeting with all the parties. We are telling them two things.
We are telling them, one, you guys have to figure out how to form a new Afghan
Government. We would encourage you to make that as broad based as possible because
a broad-based government is what is needed to bring some stability to the country.
Second, when you have a broad-based government in Afghanistan, we would very
much intend to continue the kind of support we have given to the Afghan people
for the last 20 or so years. We have been the major donor, and we would intend
to help you with reconstruction and development of the country.
QUESTION: Can you confirm that you are leaving open the possibility that at
least some members of the present Taliban would be able to take part in this?
MR. BOUCHER: We are not choosing favorites among the groups. We are not picking
in or picking out.
QUESTION: Richard, right now -- it's either now or tomorrow in Bishkek, there
is a counterterrorism meeting of the Shanghai Group -- the Chinese, the Russians
and the 'stans. Do you know if anyone from this building is going to be making
a special effort to see what's happening at this meeting?
MR. BOUCHER: We are not members. But anyplace an international meeting like
that takes place, our embassies generally try to keep in touch with the parties
and give us a rundown of what happens. We often hear as well directly from the
parties sometimes. So I am sure we will be following what's going on out there,
but we are not participants.
QUESTION: I know it is in this country, but do you have anything on three men
being held in Hudson, New York, three Pakistani men, after being caught near
a water treatment plant?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: The US-China human rights dialogue that has been going on in this
building, have those meetings ended and can you say anything about what is being
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think they have ended yet. We were, I think, yesterday
mentioned that they have been discussing a very broad range of issues. We have
pretty much brought up everything that was important to us. But I don't think
they have finished, so let me double check and get you something when they are
QUESTION: Is that at the assistant secretary level?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, Assistant Secretary for Democracy and Human Rights and Labor.
QUESTION: The Government of the Philippines has apparently said that US troops
are going in there to train and equip their forces to fight against terrorism.
Can you elaborate on what exactly the US is sending to the Philippines as pertains
to the war on terrorism?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes, let me go through a little bit of what is going on and what
has been going on and basically tell you that there are no new steps that have
been decided, but we have had a long cooperation with the Philippines as partners
in the fight against terrorism. We have recently spent $2 million to train a
Philippine Military Counterterrorism Light Reaction Company, and both the United
States and the Philippines have been very pleased with the successful results
of that training.
I think our joint determination to combat terrorism has only intensified in
the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, and we are talking to them
about further ways of strengthening Philippine counterterrorism capabilities.
But, as I have said, no new steps have been decided at this point.
We are grateful for the President's strong support -- the President of the Philippines
-- strong support for the efforts of the international coalition. We do intend
to build on this strong commitment to continue both our bilateral and multilateral
steps to fight terrorism.
QUESTION: There have been reports of large loss of life in Afghanistan. What
is the United States doing to attempt to minimize the civilian casualties?
MR. BOUCHER: I think the first thing to remember is that those reports are unconfirmed
and unverified. So it may be difficult to sort out exactly what loss of life
there might have been.
Second of all, I would like to say that we have taken every possible step --
and I think the Pentagon will give you more on this -- we have taken every possible
step to avoid civilian casualties, to make sure that the US military response
is carefully targeted, as the President has said.
Any assertions that we are deliberately targeting civilians are totally baseless.
I know there have been all kinds of rumors circulating in Afghanistan, perhaps
some of them exaggerated by the Taliban. One was that we dropped food and then
bombed people afterwards. That is totally false. One was that the food was somehow
poisoned. That is totally false. So there have been a variety of very nasty
and very untrue rumors circulated.
Our forces are making every effort to avoid harm to civilians. This is, as we
have made clear many, many times, not an attack on the Afghan people. The objective
is to end the terrorist threat to the world community. We have no quarrel with
the Afghan people; in fact, we have done more than anyone else for the last
20-some years to try to help them, feed them, give them the supplies that they
needed, despite a series of problems with government and problems with drought
and other things. The fight is not against Islam; the fight is as much for the
sake of Islamic peoples of the world and the people of Afghanistan as it is
for anyone else.
QUESTION: Richard, the two rumors that you just mentioned, do those -- do you
know if those -- were those actually reported by someone, or are they just things
that your people in Pakistan have picked up?
MR. BOUCHER: These are things that we hear are circulating in Afghanistan. I
think we hear them from -- well, I probably shouldn't specify -- but people
who have been in touch with people in Afghanistan.
QUESTION: But --
MR. BOUCHER: I'm not sure I've seen any of them in the press.
QUESTION: Specifically like in the streets of Pakistan, that this isn't -- I
mean, that's not where they're coming from? It's Afghanistan? In Afghanistan?
MR. BOUCHER: This is what we hear as some of the rumors circulating in Afghanistan,
perhaps aided by the Taliban.
QUESTION: Have you had a chance yet to have a closer look at the final statements
from the OIC meeting in Qatar, and what do you make of its rejection of attacks
on Arab and Islamic countries?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't make nothing of it. I still haven't found that phrase in
the statement. I read it twice yesterday, and other people read it as well,
and that phrase is not --
QUESTION: I think that you don't have the right document.
MR. BOUCHER: Or perhaps you don't.
QUESTION: Richard, does this building have any position of support -- what part
of this do you support on President Bush's restrictions on classified briefings
to members of Congress? How will that change the way -- obviously this --
MR. BOUCHER: We support everything the President said. That is another general
proposition I would like to state today.
QUESTION: He's changed a few things. Yes, a few things have changed. Does this
building think that that's important? Does it share the outrage and the concern
about some of the things that have been leaked?
MR. BOUCHER: Clearly, we feel that it is very important to protect classified
information. The President has also made clear that we intend to work closely
with the Congress. We do work ourselves with six different committees on the
Hill, and we will continue to work with them, keep them informed. The President
has made clear that we need to do that, and we need to keep working with them,
and we will continue to do so.
QUESTION: Were there any accusations directed at certain departments or certain
buildings, that leaks were coming out of other places than Capitol Hill when
this discussion was going on about cracking down?
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't made any accusations, that's for sure.
QUESTION: Has anyone made any to you?
MR. BOUCHER: No.
QUESTION: What do you make of reports that Al Jazeera has declined the request
to voluntarily not air pre-taped bin Laden interviews?
MR. BOUCHER: We have not made any such request, so I don't make anything particular
QUESTION: Well, there was -- yesterday, Spokesman Ari Fleischer did say he hoped
other media organizations would follow suit with American media, considering
that everyone is getting this stuff from Al Jazeera. I mean, are you at all
concerned, given the potential for coded messages and so forth?
MR. BOUCHER: I leave that to the White House. The White House discussed this
extensively. We have not made any particular request of any foreign media, and
I will just leave it at that for the moment.
QUESTION: -- with the Qataris about this?
MR. BOUCHER: Again, we haven't made any particular request there.
QUESTION: Richard, did you ever figure out what the substance was in the mailroom
MR. BOUCHER: It was a non-hazardous powder, something like talcum powder. People
did respond appropriately to an unknown substance. We called the DC Fire Department.
Let me give you the chain of events, since we are on this subject.
MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't. It is still being analyzed.
It was about 3:00 p.m. that we found a powder-like substance in one of our mailrooms
at the State Department. The mailroom employees noticed it, could not identify
it, and reported it to Diplomatic Security. Our uniformed guards responded immediately,
closed off the area. The Medical Unit was called immediately. A medical officer
examined the employees; they had no symptoms, felt fine, and eventually they
As a precaution, the building manager shut down the air handlers serving the
area. The DC Fire Department was called, and at their recommendation the FBI
Hazardous Materials Response Team was notified. Both of them responded immediately.
The FBI collected and removed the substance, took it to an appropriate facility
for analysis. The final analysis is expected to take a few days.
At this time, it does not appear that this substance is hazardous. The area
was determined to be safe at 6:00 p.m. The mailroom remains secured pending
results of the investigation.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) emergency medical technicians, and an employee that works
near the substance that was found. He as under quarantine, they told me, and
he said one of his colleagues had passed out because of this. Is there any --
MR. BOUCHER: Once again, you all know, yesterday afternoon there were a zillion
rumors floating around. We try to give you the facts and the truth. I was walking
down a corridor, and somebody came up to me and said, "Where is the bomb
anyway?" (Laughter.) And I said, there ain't no bomb, and it ain't here.
Sorry, but so we have to be careful when there's stuff like this going on. We
did appropriately -- I think employees found an unknown substance, called the
right people. People responded, took care of everybody. There is an analysis
going on. But, at this point, there is nothing hazardous about it.
There was one employee, not one of those who actually worked in the area, who
went to GW Hospital yesterday saying he didn't feel well, but he was released
after an examination by a physician.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- sent to the State Department or going out from the
MR. BOUCHER: I think that is the kind of thing we don't exactly know at this
QUESTION: Richard, you mentioned that the HVAC system in the area around it
was shut down but -- well, it was shut down in the basement too. Was it the
whole building or was it just the sixth floor?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't know. This is an old building; it has very strange ductwork.
QUESTION: So we're on the same duct?
MR. BOUCHER: You can find an office here, an office there that are somehow connected
to the air handlers, and they shut down what they need to.
QUESTION: New topic? Have you talked to the Czechs or asked the Czechs for any
information, as there are now more and more reports coming out that there was
more than one meeting with the suspected hijacker, Mr. Atta, and Iraqi intelligence?
Have you guys been talking to the Czechs about this?
MR. BOUCHER: That is a question I can't answer on three counts. One, it is asking
for intelligence information. Two, it is asking for investigative information.
And, three, it is asking about the specifics that we might have asked a foreign
government. So, sorry, can't answer that one.
QUESTION: Do you know someone named Commando Solo? (Laughter.)
MR. BOUCHER: No. He was on TV, wasn't he?
QUESTION: Is there a US airplane named Commando Solo flying around Afghanistan
beaming radio broadcasts?
MR. BOUCHER: I think you need to ask the Pentagon about that. I am certain that
they are prepared to tell you all about it.
QUESTION: To follow up on that, is there a campaign of public diplomacy, which
is what they call USIA after it was gobbled up, to reach the Afghan people?
Is there such a campaign, a task force right now going on?
MR. BOUCHER: There are a lot of people in this building working on it. There
are a lot of groups that meet together. We had an hour-and-a-half, two hours
of testimony yesterday on this subject in front of the Congress and I discussed
it here somewhat yesterday.
There is definitely an effort underway on our part to make sure our story gets
out. We are doing that through people in the Department. You have had the Secretary
of State meet with foreign media and wire services. He dropped in, in this room
the other day, on a group of Central Asian journalists who happened to be passing
through on a tour. He has spoken to Al Jazeera. He has done an interview with
Al Hayat and various other media outlets.
We have tried to make available American spokesmen for outlets that we know
are listened to in Afghanistan, like the Voice of America, which has something
like an 80 percent penetration; 80 percent of Afghan males are said to listen
at least once a week. So we try to make sure our point of view is -- we have
spokesmen available to talk about the facts.
Our ambassadors and embassies around the world are very active. They are writing
op-ed pieces, they are providing information to the local press. So, yes, there
is a broad campaign to make sure that US views get fairly represented in the
QUESTION: Is there a transcript of the Secretary's comments to the Central Asians
that we could get, like maybe, please?
MR. BOUCHER: Did we do a transcript of that? Yes, I think so.
QUESTION: And also, on your public diplomacy campaign, yesterday you had some
general idea of the surge in Internet hits you were getting on your website.
Do you have any more details on that?
MR. BOUCHER: There are two sites that are involved. One is the www.state.gov,
which is operated -- I would have to say, the information is designed to be
for Americans more than for foreigners, although everybody in the world visits
the site, sees the transcripts. That is where many of you get the transcripts
of the Secretary's comments, the transcripts of my briefings. There is a quote
of the day on the front of the site and things like that, which is very useful.
That has gone from about one million hits a week to about four-and-a-half million
hits a week. And previously, the most visited parts of that site had to do with
travel warnings and information, and now the terrorism page is getting more
There is also -- is it usinfo.state.gov? Is that it? Yes, I think it's usinfo.state.gov
that is operated in conjunction with the public diplomacy aspects of things,
where they have six different foreign language pages in addition to an English
page. They have a lot of information designed more for foreign audiences on
what is going on in the United States, links to some of the same material, transcripts,
and other things that we are saying, but trying to sort of take a slightly broader
view for people who may not be as familiar with who we are and what we do.
And that's gone from about one million to, I think, two million hits a week.
QUESTION: Is one of the languages Arabic?
MR. BOUCHER: I'm pretty sure. I don't have a list with me today.
QUESTION: On the public diplomacy, is part of what we're doing in terms of the
overall message, especially particularly with regard to Afghanistan, is to try
to get what you were saying before about the idea of the need to support a broad-based
solution as an eventual government for the Afghan people, is that part of what
we'd like to see? I know that it's hypothetical now to talk about a Radio Free
Afghanistan, but --
MR. BOUCHER: I think to the extent that people in our government are asked these
questions, we answer these questions, everything we say is broadly available
and I'm sure reported on by outlets such as the VOA or the BBC and others. Part
of what we do is just to get the true facts, make sure the true facts are available
so that when you have questions about food deliveries so that it is known that
we are actually delivering food to the Afghan people, so that it is known that
we are not targeting civilians, so that it is known that we have support from
a broad coalition around the world.
So a lot of it is just trying to make sure the facts get into circulation in
that part of the world.
QUESTION: Richard, same subject. There's talk in Radio Free Europe circles of
resuming broadcasts to Afghanistan. Do you know anything about that?
MR. BOUCHER: This is the proposal for a Radio Free Afghanistan that was discussed
I think extensively in front of Congress yesterday, and I talked about it a
little bit at the briefing yesterday.
QUESTION: Can you -- I mean, just to go back this one -- are you making any
special efforts, though, regarding what you've told us about the political future
for Afghanistan, to get that message in Pashtu to the Afghan people?
MR. BOUCHER: I think you better check with VOA sort of for that matter, what
they've been reporting. When we make people available for interviews, they usually
get asked a whole series of questions. We talk -- I did a VOA interview on Sunday
-- I can't remember if this question came up. But in most interviews you get
several of these issues, and you get a chance to make our case. And frankly,
it is important that people do understand we're not choosing the future government
of Afghanistan, we're not trying to impose the government; we're supporting
a broad-based government that can bring a representative government and true
stability to the country.
QUESTION: Richard, what (inaudible) that US is helping Pakistan and Pakistan
is helping Taliban now. As far as Taliban is concerned, it's not a government;
there is no government; then how come they have embassy in Pakistan --
MR. BOUCHER: Can I just stop you right here and say it's not true. The Pakistan
Government has taken, I think, a very strong view against terrorism. They've
taken -- made some very significant and serious comments about the al-Qaida
organization and about the Taliban recently, and I would invite you to look
at those and be a little more precise.
QUESTION: And if we are after Taliban, then the Taliban ambassador in Pakistan
is also part of Taliban, then why we are not after him? I mean --
MR. BOUCHER: This is a subject we have discussed. If you do your research, you
will see what the UN resolutions say about this. Certainly, we welcome the fact
that the UAE and Saudi Arabia have cut off ties, but it is something that we
will keep under consideration and discussion with the Pakistani Government as
QUESTION: And the Heritage Foundation is calling on the United States that countries
who are on the list of countries supporting terrorism, they should be expelled
from the United Nations. So what --
MR. BOUCHER: I haven't seen that. I don't have any comment on it. We expect
all the governments around the world to take a stand against terrorism, and
that would apply to anybody on our list as well.
QUESTION: On the diplomatic relations thing, is it not true the fact that because
Pakistan has diplomatic relations, it makes it somewhat easier for you to get
information about the two Americans who are being detained in Kabul? And also
-- well, that's one. And two, is there any new information on that?
MR. BOUCHER: I don't want to specify a particular mechanism. We have from time
to time had information from the Taliban representatives in Islamabad about
the status of our detainees. But as you know, we have also talked to their lawyer
quite a bit, and that seems to be the most active and up-to-date information
that we get.
He met with all of the detainees today for over three hours to go over his response
to the indictment. He has told the US Consul General in Islamabad on the phone
that the detainees do continue to appear to be well. He met them at the detention
center in Kabul. Mr. Ali Kahn also met today with Taliban Supreme Court Justice
Saqib, S-a-q-i-b, who informed him that the court will begin to hear the detainees'
case on Saturday, October 13th. Other than that, he had no updates on the trial.
The detainees' parents remain in Islamabad, and of course we are in very close
touch with them there.
QUESTION: Have your analysts been able to translate the charges yet against
MR. BOUCHER: I don't have anything new on that. I'm not sure I'm going to be
able to give you an analysis of the charges, but I will check.
QUESTION: Have you -- does the State Department now know what the charges are?
MR. BOUCHER: I will have to check.
QUESTION: Can you say if the parents are going to try to travel to Kabul for
MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I can speak on their behalf. I will have to check
on that and see.
QUESTION: Did Mr. Ali Kahn give you any -- did he have any idea or indication
of how long the proceeding --
MR. BOUCHER: He told us he thinks the court might review the case for two or
three additional days before it would render a decision. That's his prediction;
the Taliban haven't given us any particular indication of how long it would
QUESTION: I mean, they haven't given you or they haven't given him?
MR. BOUCHER: Either one of us.
QUESTION: Is that -- I guess this is probably a question that should be asked
of the lawyer himself -- but does he have experience in the Taliban court system?
I mean, is that where he is drawing this prediction from, as far as you know?
MR. BOUCHER: All I can say is this is the lawyer that the families and the detainees
have chosen, and they are relying on him; we're relying on him. I'm not able
to give his background.
QUESTION: An elementary question. Afghanistan is not considered a state sponsor
of terrorism. Is it simply because the US doesn't recognize the Taliban government
as a state?
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
QUESTION: Do you have any comments that General Musharraf, he fired a number
of his top military --
MR. BOUCHER: I was asked yesterday. I didn't yesterday and don't today.
QUESTION: No, but they are offering, or they have offered their help to the
MR. BOUCHER: I wasn't aware of that. I don't have any particular comment. It
would seem very unwise for anybody to offer help to the Taliban at this stage.
QUESTION: Because you've seen -- because since September 11th and perhaps even
before, we seem to be dealing with various groups which are not governmental;
they are religious-type groups. Is the State Department working with the foreign
governments to specifically give a list of maybe complaints or suggestions to
religious-type entities, who are possibly fueling some of this rhetoric and
lawlessness and demonstrations and so forth?
MR. BOUCHER: First of all, I think the issue is misstated. We know of terrorist
groups that try to put themselves in the cloak of religion. But as you see from
the Islamic Conference statement, as you see from statements of religious leaders
around the world, these activities are against the tenets of all the world's
major religions, including Islam.
So in terms of terrorist groups, yes, we deal with foreign governments, and
we have talked to them. This whole campaign is about using all the powers of
all the governments of the world to crack down on terrorism, to make it hard
for them to operate, to get financing, to travel and to carry out their activities.