THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary _ For Immediate Release April 21, 1993 PRESS
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release April 21, 1993
BY DEE DEE MYERS
The Briefing Room
9:44 A.M. EDT
Q There seems to be some contradiction in what the
evidence shows in terms of Koresh. I guess Sessions is saying one
thing and George Stephanopoulos said that there's a preponderance.
Is there some sort of -- is there a contradiction?
MS. MYERS: I don't think there's a contradiction. I
think that -- I don't think anyone meant to suggest that there was
contemporaneous information. There wasn't a particular report, say,
on Friday or Saturday, which is the point George made this morning.
There wasn't any one incident that prompted the decision to go ahead
and try to force the folks out of the compound in Waco. But there
was a preponderance of evidence, and I think reason to be concerned
both about the special FBI unit that was down there negotiating,
about the health of the children, about their welfare. I think there
are a number of factors that contributed to that. It was unsanitary
conditions and reasons to be concerned about their health inside as
well as reports of abuse by Koresh from people who came out of the
compound. So I think there were a number of factors that
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END10:08 A.M. EDT
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release April 21, 1993
BY GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
The Briefing Room
2:31 P.M. EDT
Q George, there's some question on Waco -- let's see
if we can clear this up.
Q Janet Reno indicated, or the President indicated
that in his briefing by her, she cited as a primary reason for going
when they went is fear for the safety of children who it appeared
were being abused and perhaps further abused. She has since
indicated that there was apparently no fresh evidence of further --
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: A little contemporaneous --
Q abuse, which raises the question of, that being
the case, why would that be cited as a primary reason for going then
as opposed to waiting?
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know, there were a number of
factors that the Attorney General, the President and the Director of
the FBI cited as reasons to move on the compound. I think that even
on Tuesday, the Director of the FBI, William Sessions also pointed to
evidence of child abuse. And I think there is absolutely no question
that there is overwhelming evidence of child abuse in the Waco
compound. I mean, you had David Koresh marrying children. You had
David Koresh sexually abusing children. You had kids being taught
how to commit suicide, how to put guns in their mouth, how to clamp
down on cyanide. That is child abuse by any definition of the word.
It was continuing, it was going on.
As I said, we have no specific evidence that it was
worse on Saturday or Sunday than it was on Friday. But there was
also no expectation that it was going to get better. I mean, these
kids were being held, and they were being held hostage, and they were
clearly not there by choice, and they were murdered by David Koresh.
Q George, was the President given to believe, perhaps
that there was fresh evidence of further and continuing child abuse?
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The President was clearly told
about child abuse in the compound. I do not know whether he was told
it was specific instances that day, but he was clearly told that
there was a concern to protect the children in the compound. That
was one of many motivations behind the move on Monday.
Q George, you're finished, right? (Laughter.)
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm glad you guys are getting this
all worked out.
Q Is the President doing anything differently as a
result of Waco? Has he set into motion any new modus operandi in
view of what happened in terms of his relationships with the
Department of Justice or anything else? And has the investigation
started actually by Treasury and Justice? Who's in charge?
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I assume that the review has begun.
As you know, the President has called for an investigation headed by
Justice and the Treasury Department. They were working out the
details yesterday, and we expect it to get started very soon. I
don't know exactly what minute it's starting, but obviously new
evidence is coming forward all the time.
Q Is one person in charge over all of the --
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The Attorney General and the
Treasury Secretary will run the investigation. I suppose it's
possible they'll delegate the day-to-day operations to an
investigator or someone of that sort. But they have the
Q What's the independent oversight that you talked
about yesterday? Has that been worked out?
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't have the final details yet.
I'd send you to Treasury and Justice. But there will be independent
non-Justice or Treasury Department officials as part of the review
Q George, has this episode done anything to alter the
administration's faith in experts of this kind who purport to be able
to make precise calculations of human conduct? The President seems
to be taken with such expertise, and so does this Attorney General.
Has this episode done anything to shake that faith?
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't think you can make blanket
statements to a response like that. Obviously, you listen to the
experts and make your best judgments. That's what the Attorney
General did, that's what the President did.
Q Does it strike anybody as odd, for example, the
Waco Police Department was not in the group of people that
participated in this decision?
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I wasn't aware of that. I can look
into that. But a lot -- it was the unanimous recommendation of the
law enforcement agencies that we were consulting that we go forward.
I did not know that the Waco Police Department wasn't --
Q Is there not also a question raised when you've got
the compound being guarded, in effect, by a bunch of people who are
deemed so expert and so indispensable that they cannot even be
rested, and that that comes forth to the President as one of the
reasons to hurry up and act because they experts are tired?
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm not certain that that's a fair
characterization. I mean --
Q Well, certainly said that they people were not
easily replaced and couldn't be stood in for.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Absolutely, and that's one of the
things that the investigation, and certainly the congressional
hearings, should look into -- the question of what kind of hostage
rescue operations do we need; how can we assure that we have all the
resources we need to handle situations like this. That's exactly
what the review is designed to look at, these kinds of questions, to
make sure that in the future we might be able to avoid those kinds of
questions. I don't think that this is the time, though, to second-
guess the decisions on the ground. Let's take the investigation,
let's listen to what the congressional hearings come up with, and
let's make the appropriate adjustments at that time.
Q? George, is there a sense that in the aftermath of
some of these setbacks -- the Waco business and the jobs bill up on
the Hill and this frustration over Bosnia -- that the President is
losing some of the early political momentum he had when he pushed
through the budget resolution in record time?
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Wolf, I think we're in this
for the long haul and the President's going to continue to fight for
his priorities and he's going to continue to fight on the Hill and we
look forward to many more victories and successes for the American
people up on the Hill. I don't know that I would agree with the
characterization of your question, but the answer is we're going to
keep on fighting every day.
Q These are setbacks?
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I mean, the jobs bill isn't done
yet. Clearly, we have not gotten all that we wanted. The President
will continue to fight.
Q The outcome of Waco is not what you would have
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't think the outcome in Waco
is the outcome that any American would have wanted. At the same
time, I don't believe that the outcome in Waco -- the deaths in Waco
are the responsibility of David Koresh. Something that I think the
American people clearly understand. David Koresh was the murderer in
Waco; David Koresh is responsible for the lives that were lost.
Q On Waco, what regrets does the White House have, if
any, about the President's statements on responsibility and --
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think that if you take all of
the statements in context, the President was clearly taking
responsibility from the start. I think it's unfortunate the
perception that got out there and I suppose that if you look back on
it and say, should the President have had a more public statement on
Monday night, that might have been better.
At the same time, the President clearly explained that
he did not feel it was appropriate until he had certain knowledge of
what was happening with the lives on the ground that he could go out.
It was a judgment call. If it was a mistake, then it's something we
certainly take responsibility for. But the President was very clear
on taking responsibility for the government's actions in this case.
He was also very clear on the fact that David Koresh must take
responsibility for the deaths.
Q What do you hear from the public on this subject,
if anything, in the comment offices and so forth? What is the
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The only thing I know is what I got
from the Justice Department and they sent over to us this morning.
It said that 80 percent of the phone calls and letters were in
support of the Attorney General.
Q Back on Waco. Between the time that the President
talked to the Attorney General before the fire started and when they
spoke at midnight, did the Attorney General try and reach the
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: No.
Q She didn't try to call him at all?
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think that there was an exchange
of phone calls sometime late in the evening between the two of them.
There was nothing in the afternoon. But it was just one of those
games of back and forth, as far as I know.
Q When did she try to call him?
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I believe he tried to get word to
her, she tried to call him. And I don't know the exact time they
connected, but I know it was late Monday evening.
Q He tried to call her first?
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Had word to her that he was trying
to talk to her. I don't know exactly how the message was relayed.
Q Why is it appropriate for her to come out and make
the public statements, but the President didn't feel it was
appropriate for him to do it?
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: It was just something he was
concerned about. We were getting a lot of different information at
the time. She made the judgment that she wanted to go out and do the
press conference. That was clearly, certainly within her power to
do, and she did a very good job at it.
Q If it's not appropriate for the President to do it,
why is it appropriate for the Attorney General to do it?
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think that that's a decision that
she made and a decision that the President supports. I mean, the
President said very clearly his reasons. And I also just said that
whether that was a mistake on our part is something we have to take
responsibility for. But the President has been clear on taking
responsibility for the government's actions in this case, and he has
also been clear on supporting the Attorney General on that matter.
I would also point out that even at noon on Monday, from
this podium when we took responsibility and the President took
responsibility, that was before anything had even gone wrong, before
the fires had started. I mean, we were not distancing ourselves in
any way, shape or form.
Q Just back on Waco for a minute -- how does this
affect the outstanding -- the review that, I guess, is still
outstanding of Judge Sessions? Does the President have full
confidence in him because of his actions during the siege?
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't think there's any
relationship between the two at all. The Attorney General has said
she wanted to have a complete and thorough review of the file and the
report on Judge Sessions. And she'll be making a recommendation to
the President once that's complete.
Q Was there any discussion, though, of the difficult
situation he was in during this? Here you have a guy who's tenure is
very uncertain directing these events.
MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: No, that wasn't a factor.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 3:04 P.M. EDT
Another file from
The Soapbox BBS
"Your Infotainment Specialist"
An all text BBS specializing in e-zines
and other unique text files.
(919) 387-1152 - Up to 16.8 kbs - 8N1
Fidonet 1:151/142 - FREQ FILES for file list
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank