THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary _ For Immediate Release April 21, 1993 PRESS

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THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary _____________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release April 21, 1993 PRESS BRIEFING 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 contributed. THE PRESS: Thank you. END10:08 A.M. EDT -------------------------------------------------------------------------- THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary _____________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release April 21, 1993 PRESS BRIEFING 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 Fast. 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 responsibility. 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 process. 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 wanted, obviously. 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 feedback? 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 President? 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 ===============================================


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