THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary _ For Immediate Release April 22, 1993 PRESS

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THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary _____________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release April 22, 1993 PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS The Briefing Room 9:45 A.M. EDT Q One of them has to do with Waco. Why did we use a chemical that's banned by the International Prevention of Use of Warfare on a compound with a bunch of children in it? MS. MYERS: I don't know that it's banned. That's the first I've heard of that. Q It was banned in January. MS. MYERS: But it was -- it is safe and nonlethal for both adults and children, which is one of the reasons that it was chosen. But I would refer you to the FBI for specifics about chemical compounds. Q Why would the U.S. sign a treaty, then, agreeing to ban its use in warfare if it's safe? MS. MYERS: All I can tell you at this point is that it was chosen because it was nonlethal for both children and adults. I don't know about the treaty, but I will take that question and get back to you. Q Were three of the persons' bodies with new bullet wounds? MS. MYERS: They're still analyzing the results, but that was their preliminary finding yesterday, that three of the bodies did have bullet wounds, indicating that they had -- and the way one of them was found led the authorities to believe that the person was trying to escape the compound and may have been on fire at the time. I think further evidence that there were people in there trying to keep other people from leaving voluntarily. Q Some of the partisans of the people in the compound are now saying that the fire was caused by a rupture of a propane tank. MS. MYERS: This is the, I think now, the third formulation. The FBI, who was there on the ground, saw individuals engaging what they believe were fire-setting activities; and the fact that the fire erupted in several different parts of the compound roughly simultaneously I think dispute that. I think there is ample evidence to conclude that the fire was set from within. Q Has the President received any new information on this? MS. MYERS: He's continuing to receive reports about it, and I don't know how much specific information he has, other than --I don't know if anybody has gone through the details with him, but I think everybody there believes, the authorities on site believe that there is no question about the fact that that fire was set from within deliberately. Q Can you provide any more specifics on this person who was found that you say leads to more evidence -- MS. MYERS: There were several news accounts about it. I don't have anything beyond that. And I, again, would refer you to the FBI or the Justice Department to see where they are in that investigation. Q Did the President review the Attorney General's testimony that she's supposed to deliver this morning? MS. MYERS: I don't believe so. THE PRESS: Thank you. END10:14 A.M. EDT --------------------------------------------------------------------- THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary ____________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release April 22, 1993 PRESS BRIEFING BY GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS The Briefing Room 1:43 P.M. EDT [ All but Waco stuff deleted ] [ Pay special attention to part marked "*****"] [...] Q George, why would the President have authorized a plan to use an irritant CS gas against women and children that he had favored banning in wartime? What's the rationale for that? MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Under the chemical weapons treaty that you cited there is a specific exemption for law enforcement activities. I mean, this is, in fact, that this kind of use of this gas is contemplated under the very treaty that bans it for wartime. This is a specific prohibition. Q law enforcement if it was for some reason unacceptable in war? What's the rationale for having it in one and not the other? MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: It's just that there are certain kinds of gases that are appropriate for law enforcement. This was just a general treaty that bans it for international incidents, but it is fully permitted under the treaty. Q Has any the evidence come out from the investigation in Waco that some of the people may have died from other causes unrelated to the fire? MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think we've all seen some evidence that many people inside the compound may have been shot on their way out, or at least some evidence pointing in that direction. I can't get into the details of the investigation or what is coming out. I think that that is something you should -- it would be better to go to Justice. But obviously, we've read those same reports. Q Do you mean to say many people had been shot? MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I think there was three, at least three and they're looking for more. Q Can I get back to this, please? Does the President favor that exemption? MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The exemption is part of the treaty and we have no plans to change the treaty at this time. Q George, was the President aware of that limitation at the time the Attorney General spoke to him about using it? Or did she discuss using that chemical at Waco? MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: She discussed using tear gas. The President did say that she discussed that. And I would just point out that this gas is safe and is relatively harmless. There is an exemption within the treaty for the use of this kind of gas. [*******] Q How is it that a civilian agency like the FBI could be allowed to have the authority to use a chemical that the military themselves would not use? And is the President aware that this is not tear gas, but is an irritant that completely incapacitates the individual, whether it be children or women or men, and they wouldn't know which door to go out of because they would have their eyes completely shut and be in trauma at the time it was being used? Is the President aware that this would be the effect of that gas? MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: The President was told that the gas would be used. I don't know if he was told the specific type, but he was assured by the relevant law enforcement agencies that this was safe and that it would have its intended effect. I am not an expert on the gas, but I think I would refer you to the FBI and the Defense Department for specific questions. Q Why would an agency of the government that works with civilians of our country and not against an enemy of our country be allowed to use a gas that the military will not use? A chemical, I should say, not a gas. MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: There are general global international prohibitions on the use of chemicals in warfare, though all of those treaties contain exemptions for law enforcement. They are not intended to reach towards law enforcement. That is not a judgment of any kind on the safety of the gases used; it is a judgment on the use of chemicals in warfare. That's what the treaty is designed to prohibit. [ ... ] Q Can I take you back to Waco for a second? Tuesday in the Rose Garden the President said there was only one minor tactical difference between the military's recommendations to the FBI in the plan. He said both the military and the FBI regarded this as minor. Can you tell us what that difference was and did it relate to the tear gas? MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I'd have to take the question. I'm just not sure. Q I just wanted to be clear on that. How much about that did the President know in advance of the event? Just to be clear, I mean, was he told that they would use some type of gas, was assured it was safe, or did they not get that much into that detail? MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't know they got into that much detail. I think the President answered that question on Tuesday. He said he was told they would use tear gas, and think that that was generally the nature of the discussion. If there's more, we'll let you know. But I don't know that there was any great detail on that. Q Was he given assurances at that time that it would not be lethal or not be harmful to these people? MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, I would assume -- I certainly would assume, yes. I mean, the intention, as the Attorney General has stated, was to try and increase the pressure so everybody could leave. So clearly that was all contemplated. [...] ============================================== 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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