DoD News Briefing - Rear Admiral Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA
Thursday, May 3, 2001 -- 1:30 p.m. EDT
Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have several announcements this afternoon. I want to start with an overview of some key events that are happening later today.
First, as we speak, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is at the White House meeting with the president regarding the nation's energy situation. At the end of the meeting, the president will announce some initiatives to better the energy situation in California and beyond. Among these will be our initiative to reduce the department's peak electricity demand in California by 10 percent this summer, and by 15 percent next summer, over a baseline starting in the summer of 2000.
As a follow-up to that announcement, at 3:30 this afternoon we'll have two individuals down here that have been very involved in the planning and, ultimately, the carrying out of those energy consumption reduction initiatives, to go through that with you, for those who are interested, to go in as much detail as you like of how we will accomplish those goals. We're pretty proud of some of the innovative programs that we've come up with to help us drive down the energy consumption in California and elsewhere.
Each year, the secretary of Defense presents the Environmental Security Awards to honor installations, teams and individuals for their outstanding work in DOD environmental programs. This year, eight Environmental Security Awards will be presented in five categories, including natural resources conservation, cultural resources management, environmental quality, pollution prevention, and environmental restoration. The ceremony will be held today at 3:00 at the Pentagon's Lower River Parade Field. Mr. Dave Oliver, acting undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, will present the awards.
And blue tops are available on both of these events. [The news release on energy conservation is http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2001/b05032001_bt195-01.html . The news release on environmental awards is http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2001/b05032001_bt194-01.html .]
Next, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz will deliver remarks tonight during the 2001 Business Executives for National Security Eisenhower Award Dinner. That's at 8:30 tonight at the Four Seasons Hotel here in Washington, and the dinner will honor General Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff. [Press advisory for this event is http://www.defenselink.mil/advisories/2001/p05012001_p084-01.html .]
Next, also Mr. Wolfowitz will deliver remarks during the American Jewish Committee's 95th Annual Meeting, 11:50 a.m., tomorrow, May 4th. His remarks will be on "Confronting Security Threats to America and Its Allies." This will take place at the Capitol Hilton Hotel here in Washington. The event is open to the media. [Press advisory for this event is http://www.defenselink.mil/advisories/2001/p05032001_p090-01.html .]
The 2001 Commander-in-Chief's Installation Awards Ceremony will be held tomorrow, Friday, May 4th, at 3:15, in the center courtyard of the Pentagon. As we announced in a March 23rd release, this year's winners are Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Commander Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, Japan; Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina; and the Defense Supply Center in Columbus, Ohio. [Press advisory for this event is http://www.defenselink.mil/advisories/2001/p05032001_p091-01.html .]
The ceremony is also open for media coverage and, again, Mr. Oliver will be the principal speaker for that event.
Today the lead elements of more than 27,000 United States, Australian and Canadian personnel have commenced operations in Exercise Tandem Thrust 2001 that's being held in the Shoal Water Bay training area in Queensland, Australia, until May 29th. Training will include naval, air and land operations to enhance headquarters training and crisis action planning and contingency response operations. The U.S. contingent of that includes more than 15,000 personnel, including representatives from all of the services.
And finally, Quantico Marine Corps Base will be host next week to the Force Protection Equipment Demonstration. This event is May 8th through 10th and is sponsored by the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the National Institute of Justice. The event is a direct result of the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing and was created by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to find commercial, off- the-shelf material solutions for force protection needs. About 430 vendors will show and demonstrate some 1,500 items of force protection equipment, and there are brochures with media contact points available at the desk in DDI. [Web site for this event is no longer available.]
With that, I'll take your questions.
Q: Craig, before we get into whatever the U.S. military-to-military relations are with China at this particular hour -- (scattered laughter) -- could you fill us in on the EP-3, what's going on?
Quigley: The assessment team spent about three hours, it's my understanding, yesterday, doing largely external structural assessments of the aircraft. We believed that we had transmitted, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the technical support that we needed -- particularly, in this case, power -- electrical power -- so that we could power up the airplane and find out which systems were still operable, which were damaged, what was the extent of the damage and what have you. For one reason or another, Charlie, we're not clear why that is, those technical requirements did not get down to the PLA Navy forces that are there at Lingshui Airfield, so we did not get power to the airplane yesterday.
We're trying again now. Of course, we're 12 hours out of cycle, so here it is at 1:30 in the afternoon in Washington; it's 1:30 in the morning in China. And during the course of the evening, we're hoping to try again to clearly explain the technical support that we need to do the thorough assessment that we need to do with the EP-3.
And we're hopeful that we can get that clarified during the course of the day and the evening there, so that the assessment team can get back at it tomorrow morning, China time, and get the power to the plane and be able to do a more thorough assessment.
Q: Craig, the three-hour inspection you're talking about took place on Thursday, China time. Wasn't --
Quigley: It was last night, our time.
Q: Well, but that's Thursday, China time.
Q: Wasn't there also an inspection on Wednesday in which they failed to provide power?
Quigley: Very brief inspection, I believe, the day before, yes. And I think the -- there was no provision of power. I don't know if that was in the plan on that first day. That was more of a prep day, I guess I'd look at it, more than anything else. We were hopeful that yesterday would have been a full day of opportunity to really check out all the details on the plane, and that just didn't happen.
Q: Did they --
Q: How many -- how much time will they need? Is there a problem with their visas? Will they be able to work through this holiday period, evidently, in China? What --
Quigley: We -- our best estimate -- go ahead. I'm sorry.
Q: Well, I just wanted -- what do they plan? What do they need to have?
Quigley: We're hopeful that we need one more full day, and if we could do that tomorrow, with one more good day, we think we can complete the assessment that we need.
Q: Didn't they bring their own auxiliary power unit? Didn't they bring a generator?
Quigley: I don't think, for whatever reason, it was the right type of equipment that they needed to do the tests they had in mind. There was an expectation, John, that the power that we required to do this -- and I'm sorry, I don't know the details of that -- was to be provided by the Chinese. But again, for reasons that aren't quite clear to us, as we had explained it through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that didn't make it to the PLA Navy.
Q: Didn't the crew in their debrief indicate that their on-board auxiliary power units still worked and believed that that could be cranked up to provide power?
Quigley: That was my understanding as well, and I can't explain for you why that was not the case.
Q: Is there any initial assessment or indication that it may in fact be possible to repair the plane and fly it out?
Quigley: The crew has not provided an initial assessment yet -- nothing at all, Jamie. I suspect that they're probably waiting for a little bit more information before they would make such a prediction or a description of what would be necessary.
Q: What kind of access has the crew had inside the aircraft?
Quigley: I don't know.
Q: And how -- have their communications on -- the secure communications links that they brought, have those been just fine?
Quigley: The secure communications equipment that they brought with them were not acceptable for use by the Chinese. And they remain on the charter aircraft that the crew -- or, the assessment team took in with them, and there they will stay.
Q: What else was left on the plane but not acceptable to the Chinese? Was there other technical equipment in addition to the secure communications --
Quigley: I believe an INMARSAT, a satellite telephone capability -- you'll see it out on cruise ships and Navy vessels and things like that. You could search for a communications satellite, non-secure. And that also was unacceptable.
Q: When the crew of the EP-3 was being held, it was widely reported, I think confirmed by the U.S., that conversations were being listened to, that their telephone lines were not secure. Is that the assumption now? Is it assumed that their communications are being eavesdropped on while they're there since they don't have their secure communication equipment?
Quigley: Well, what we know is that the communications that are available to the assessment team are, indeed, non-secure. And so they will just choose their words carefully.
Q: Were they able to take some photographs to help with their evaluation, and could any of those photographs be made available?
Quigley: They were -- they took some at least external photographs yesterday of the -- you know, the structural, some of the structural damage off the plane. We'll take a look at that. I think we'd like to have a first whack at them to accomplish the mission they were sent over there to do, and that's to assess the damage to the plane. But we'll take a look at that.
Q: How would you characterize the level of cooperation from the Chinese who are in charge of granting access to the plane?
Quigley: As, as has been our experience here recently, Jamie, it's not at all clear that there's a good communication flow from one part of the Chinese government to another. So it's -- some things get through, some things are very clear, and some things don't. So this is an attempt during the course of today to try to once again be clear as to some of the technical support -- power, particularly -- that we need to complete the assessment.
Q: Craig, were they prevented from boarding the plane?
Quigley: I don't know.
Q: Have the Chinese simply refused to provide the electrical power, or are they unable to provide the kind of generating power?
Quigley: Well, yesterday the PLA Navy was unwilling to provide power. And yet that was an element that we believe that we had worked through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make available.
So we're not sure, Mik, how that didn't happen after all was said and done. And we're trying again to work through that during the course of today so that the assessment team would have power tomorrow to carry that forward and see which of the electrical systems, which could then power up other systems, hydraulics and whatnot on the plane.
Q: Just to be clear, "yesterday," you mean Thursday in China?
Quigley: Twelve hours ago. Yes. Yes.
Q: Powering up the airplane is sort of step one, isn't it?
Quigley: Well, there was progress made, and you do need to do the external structural assessment as well, Chris. But there are other steps you've got to do, and powering up the airplane is absolutely essential to be able to understand which of the many systems that require electrical power to operate are in what sort of condition, and what level of repair do I need to accomplish to make them work.
Q: So this external examine, then they've looked at the plane. That's the extent of it.
Quigley: Right. Yeah, that's my understanding.
Q: So they're really at square one.
Quigley: A necessary step, but only a step, one of several that needs to be done to get that assessment done. Their best estimate is they need one more full working day to do that.
Q: Craig, not to nit-pick, but, I mean, throughout this whole scenario, the Chinese have been less than forthcoming in helping us and the communication hasn't really been clear. Why didn't this team find it necessary to bring their own equipment? Why did they go in thinking they'd have to rely upon the Chinese, and not just bring their own equipment so they could do it themselves? I mean, it seems kind of odd, given the miscommunications that we've had with the Chinese throughout this.
Quigley: We believed it was clear.
Q: Did at any time this team threaten to leave early because they weren't given the cooperation they needed to do their job?
Quigley: No, I don't think it was so much that, Jamie, as an expression here recently, in the last few hours, we really need to do these things in order to complete the assessment that we need to do. And that's what we're trying to work through during this 12-hour cycle, to get concurrence at all levels of the government that the power and other issues and the technical support issues can be provided so that the team can move on from the external structural.
Q: But did they essentially say to the Chinese that if you don't provide us the power, we can't do what we came here to do, so we might as well leave?
Quigley: I don't know how it was phrased; I'm sorry.
Q: Was there some discussion of their leaving, given the lack of cooperation, until these matters could be sorted out?
Quigley: I don't know.
Q: Since you have had some contact with them, because you know that they didn't have power, is there an initial assessment of things that are missing, like, "Oops, no antenna here anymore, no hard drive there"?
Quigley: We're not getting the reports in bits and pieces. I think they're going to wait, collect it all, stop back in Hawaii on the way home, and provide a much more comprehensive, rather than a bits and pieces as they go along.
Q: You say power-up the aircraft, turn up the system. But do they intend to turn up the engines to see -- you know, because they had to shut down one engine and there were problems with another. Do they intend to run the engines up to see what their standing is?
Quigley: I don't know what their specific test plan includes.
Q: Who's communicating with the Chinese? Is Secretary Rumsfeld involved with this? Is the White House involved to try to get the Chinese to cooperate?
Quigley: No, I think it's going all through the embassy in Beijing, with the Pacific Command, the embassy in Beijing, and the Navy, as well as the contractor team -- Lockheed Martin, in this case -- to make sure that everybody's on the same page.
Q: And what are the Chinese saying? What reason are they giving?
Quigley: I don't have any feedback. I don't know.
Q: Admiral, how the Chinese reading those memos from the secretary as far as the military-to-military relations with China? Is this kind of a warning to the Chinese from the U.S. that you better behave in the future?
Quigley: No, I wouldn't interpret it that way at all. What you've got is a misinterpretation of the secretary's intentions yesterday by a member of the OSD [Office of the Secretary of Defense] staff, and it simply misinterpreted the secretary's intentions and his guidance. So this was an honest misinterpretation, nothing more, nothing less.
Q: But how did it come to the secretary's attention that his guidance had been misinterpreted?
Quigley: Reporters started calling yesterday afternoon. Somebody had gotten a hold of the original memo. And we started taking queries here on the news desk from reporters, and then that brought it to our attention, and we started working it here internally and --
Q: But it was not complaints from the White House or the State Department?
Quigley: No, not at all. Not at all.
Q: So the secretary never signed off on this memo that went out on Monday to all parts of the Defense Department?
Quigley: No, he did not -- he did not sign the memo.
Q: He didn't know? He did not sign off on the memo?
Quigley: Nor did he see the memo, no.
Q: He never saw the memo?
Q: He didn't have it read to him, the thrust of it, it wasn't made clear to him that --
Quigley: I discussed this with him specifically this morning -- no. I mean, this was an honest attempt by a staff member, who clearly felt he understood the secretary's intentions, to put out such a memorandum. In this particular case, the interpretation was incorrect. And it's that simple.
Q: So the secretary -- I'm sorry. So the secretary called Chris Williams -- correct? --
Quigley: I'm not going to shine a light on the person that signed the memo. It was an honest mistake, and I have no intention of discussing their identity.
Q: -- the secretary of Defense wanted to, from this point on, review on a case-by-case basis all military interaction with China.
Q: Chris Williams then left the office, said, you know, "You got it, Boss," went out and wrote something that said the secretary of Defense directs the suspension of all Defense Department programs, contacts and activities with the People's Republic of China until further notice.
Quigley: Is there a question in there somewhere?
Q: That's -- that's what happened?
Quigley: The belief of the writer of the memorandum was as you stated. That was not the secretary's intention. The secretary's intention was to state that, as you also said, Chris, that all contacts, activities of any kind, are to be proposed up to the OSD staff, reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Is it common --
Q: Well, that's -- I mean, that's pretty clear and unambiguous language, and it's a fairly dramatic decision to come from the department. Thee secretary's language was that there would now be review on a case-by-case basis, and this is the memo that was produced? I mean, it just sounds hard to believe, doesn't it?
Quigley: There are corrections made in major daily newspapers in this country every day. I don't think a single one of them intended to make the mistake. This staff member did not intend to make the mistake. He interpreted it wrong, and we're trying to correct --
Q: If there was such an -- (inaudible word) -- misunderstanding that he is --
Quigley: We're trying to correct --
Q: -- this gentleman --
Quigley: There apparently is.
Q: Is he -- is he going to be disciplined in any way, or --
Quigley: He fully understands the error that he made.
Q: Is the department reviewing other memos that Mr. Williams has produced to see whether they too are 110 degrees off of what the secretary intended?
Quigley: No, I don't know of any such effort going on.
Q: Has the department communicated in any way with the Chinese PLA defense ministry apologizing or setting the record straight on this? The Chinese made a statement yesterday saying that -- or this morning, our time -- saying that mil-to-mil relations they considered very important with the United States. Has the administration or the department here communicated in any way with the ministry there?
Quigley: Not that I know of, Charlie, no.
Q: Admiral, there are a number of people in this building who believe that the memo reflected precisely what the secretary meant it to reflect, and that the White House jumped in at the urging of the State Department and said, "That policy is not going to cut it." And that is not the interpretation that you're trying to put on this?
Quigley: That's correct. The people that believe that are incorrect.
Q: So, Craig, are you willing to state categorically that the misunderstanding here was not the secretary of Defense misunderstanding a policy arrived at at the White House, but the aide misunderstanding the secretary of Defense?
Quigley: Correct. As clearly and as strongly as I can, that's what I'm trying to explain.
Q: Can you --
Quigley: Chris --
Q: Was the policy on military-to-military contacts -- was that something that was decided by the National Security Council and the foreign policy team, or was that something that was decided within this building?
Quigley: Decided by Secretary Rumsfeld.
Q: So it was in this building --
Quigley: Now, you'll see -- however, you'll see that a more deliberate, studied approach in our contacts, as you heard the president say, and Secretary Powell, about our relationship with China, is taking place throughout the government. But this piece of it, Chris, was a decision made by Secretary Rumsfeld.
Q: But you have said that the memo was there, right?
Quigley: I'm sorry?
Q: The original memo is there?
Quigley: Not for long. It will be corrected, I suspect, by today. I mean, that is the intention.
Q: But somebody --
Quigley: Yes, it's a real memorandum. It was published; it was distributed. It was just incorrect in its interpretation of the secretary's guidance.
Q: But the issue here is it was never sent out to other parts of the government for approval. It came from the Defense Department to all levels of leadership within the military, and it didn't go to the State Department, it didn't go to the White House, it didn't go all over the place. Is that correct, number one?
Quigley: To the best of my knowledge, that's correct.
Q: So it did come as a surprise to the rest of the government that the Pentagon had, at least for 48 hours, suspended relations.
Quigley: Here was the surprise, John: the other elements of the national security team had a good understanding of what Secretary Rumsfeld's actual intentions were, and that's as I have described them, to bring him up here for an OSD review and approval. And I think the surprise was when the initial wire reports started appearing yesterday afternoon, characterizing it different than their understanding of the secretary's intentions. And, indeed, they should have been surprised because it was different than the secretary's intentions.
Q: And their understanding of what the secretary's intentions were through verbal communications? You've obviously just said they don't --
Quigley: I don't think there was a piece of paper, but it was discussed in one of the several discussions that the secretary has with other members of the national security team every day.
Q: Senator Warner said on the front page of the New York Times today that he had discussed this matter ahead of time with Secretary Rumsfeld and approved of it wholeheartedly. Is that correct?
Quigley: Again, I think that was the description of the true intentions of the secretary here, Chris, is what the elements of the discussion were: to review and approve, on a case-by- case basis, the interactions here at OSD.
Q: I think what Senator Warner suggested, though, was that his discussion with Secretary Rumsfeld -- he came away -- Senator Warner apparently came away believing that they were planning on suspending all military ties.
Quigley: I don't know. I was not a part of the conversation.
Q: But, Craig, if we could just get back to what the secretary's true intentions are and what the actual policy is -- this case-by-case review. Is it possible that that will, in fact, result in a suspension of military ties in that is Secretary Rumsfeld planning to approve any contacts? Are there any contacts coming up that will take place?
Quigley: There are none pending, Jamie, I mean -- but ultimately, yes. I mean, there will be proposals made to interact with the Chinese military in a variety of simplistic or more complicated ways, and those proposals will be brought up here for review and approval.
Q: Well, for instance, the memo that was incorrect was very specific; it talked about no working groups, no social contacts. It specified the -- no contacts with the U.S. embassy -- Chinese embassy here in Washington. Are any of those kind of contacts going to continue now on this case-by-case review?
Quigley: I don't know.
We'll see if we can get a clarification on that. [In accordance with their duties, U.S. military attaches worldwide may continue their contacts with PLA/PRC.]
Q: (inaudible) -- to go to a party you have to get the secretary of Defense's permission in Washington? Is that the intent of --?
Quigley: I don't know. I'll see if I can get a clarification on that. [Our case-by-case review applies to bilateral contacts; it does not apply to third country-hosted functions.]
Q: Who's going to review each case? Will it be the secretary, or will it be Mr. Williams, or -- ?
Quigley: It would depend on the level of interaction that's being proposed, Rick. You have some very simplistic and low-level exchanges, and you have some that are at a much higher level and more complex interaction. We would adjust that within the level of seniority and experience here within the staff, depending on the proposal on the table.
Q: Can I request one more thing? Yesterday I think you said that there weren't any military-to-military contacts planned in the month of May, anyway. Is that correct?
Quigley: That's my understanding, yes.
Q: So why would this policy be decided and a memo sent out at a time when you're trying to get the Chinese military to help you get this airplane out of there?
Quigley: Well, we need to go back a little bit to the month of March. The secretary had stated his intention to review the mil-to-mil program with China in that month. That was before the collision. And since these things are complex and take a little while to arrange and approve, he looked down the road, saw what was already scheduled to be done, and said, "I'm going to hold in abeyance all the interactions after May 31st. And whatever's happening up through May 31st, let it continue to happen." And what you saw was Admiral Blair visited China, just a couple of weeks, I want to say, before the collision. The Seventh Fleet flagship visited Shanghai for a port visit. There were a couple of instances of military-to-military exchanges during that period of time, and through May.
Now, this is the point where Secretary Rumsfeld has said, "This is how I want to proceed after the end of May, and that is I want a review and approve at this level, at the OSD staff level, the proposals for interaction with the Chinese military." You're seeing -- and this is a more cautious and prudent and deliberate step than the old way, if you will, where you had basically a year's worth of interaction that was, indeed, considered, but as a package, Rick. And this is not reaching that far down the road on the calendar. And this is a much more deliberate and cautious and studied approach to the interaction with the Chinese military.
Q: Well, granted. But wouldn't it have been a little more prudent to wait a few days at least until the policy was --
Quigley: (Off mike.)
Q: Craig, before it was decided yesterday to burn this memo or whatever, you were frantically running back and forth across the hall there trying to find out what was going -- and a certain aide was making checks upstairs by telephone, and the word came down that no, this would not include Hong Kong. Although it would prevent people from having drinks with people at the Chinese embassy, it would not, it turns out, affect the Maritime Commission. Who was making these knee-jerk decisions on the run on what this policy meant and what it didn't mean?
Quigley: I don't know.
Q: Here for a second --
Q: And -- excuse me -- on the Maritime Commission meeting, has there been any date set for that?
Quigley: We have proposed some dates to the Chinese, and they are considering that and will let us know.
Q: No agreement.
Quigley: Not yet, no. We just haven't heard back, one or the other.
Q: Admiral, given the conduct of the Chinese over the EP-3 incident, does Secretary Rumsfeld believe that the Chinese military deserves the benefit of military-to-military contacts with the United States?
Quigley: Well, I don't think he'd look at it as a -- in that context. He had said in March, when he undertook to take a look at the program itself, what are some of the yardsticks of effectiveness, what are the things that are important to me as I look at the program. And he has said that reciprocity is very important. The militaries are different, so you can't always find an exact parallel in one nation and another, but there should be rough parity in the programs. The programs should also benefit and be of value to both nations in a roughly equal amount.
So as he said about taking a look at the program, those are sort of the benchmarks that he would use to compare and measure and determine the way ahead for a mil-to-mil program with China.
Q: I just wanted to clear up a detail on the team that's over there: the number?
Quigley: Sure. On the what? I'm sorry?
Q: The assessment team? How many people are --
Quigley: Five. Five people.
Q: And they -- no matter what tomorrow, after -- if they get eight hours of work in, three hours of work, whatever, are they planning to leave?
Quigley: I hesitate to give you an absolute answer on that, Suzanne. I mean, we're taking this one day at a time. I'm not quite sure how to give you a good answer on that.
Q: When you look back at the -- go ahead.
Q: If the secretary had announced before the incident with the EP-3 that all the military-to-military contacts were under review, then why was it necessary to put out a memo on Monday saying that military-to-military contacts would be under review?
Quigley: It was the -- well, that wasn't what the memo said.
Q: I know. And --
Quigley: And again, that was not the intention --
Q: (Off mike) -- to say, though.
Q: If that's what it was supposed to say, then why was it necessary to put this out on Monday, when I -- you know, I was aware --
Quigley: It was a belief --
Q: -- some time ago that these military-to-military contacts had been under review.
Quigley: It was the understanding --
Q: Why then put out a memo on Monday saying what was already known?
Quigley: Well, it was different. I mean, having under review -- and it was the understanding of the writer of the memorandum that this was the secretary's intention and decision and guidance. And it was simply incorrect.
Q: Did a memo go out --
Q: May we assume that the case by case review is going to be substantially more restrictive than what had preceded it, even since the EP-3 incident?
Quigley: I think it would definitely be a more measured approach to this, John. I mean, this is not business as usual with the Chinese government at any level. And it would be a much more considered review at each proposal.
Q: Did a memo go out when the secretary first decided this, before the EP-3 incident, saying that military-to-military contacts would be under review?
Quigley: I don't know if there was a memorandum that announced that. I know I discussed it from here a couple of months ago. But I don't know if there was an actual announcement of the review other than the secretary stating his intentions to do so.
Q: But then, again, if there was no change in what had been announced a couple of months ago, then why put out a memo on Monday?
Quigley: Well, the writer of the memo thought he was putting out the results of the secretary's review: "This is what the secretary has decided to do on mil-to-mil." And he was simply incorrect in his interpretation of the secretary's intentions.
Q: When you go back at the record of military-to-military exchanges over the last year or so, is it the perception of the United States that these exchanges have been -- I don't know, all take and no give on the part of the Chinese, in the sense that -- does the U.S. get an equal amount of access as the U.S. was granting Chinese visitors to -- has there been an equal exchange, or is there a perception that China has been benefiting more than the U.S.?
Quigley: Well, the secretary was not looking at it in a historical perspective, Jamie.
He was looking ahead as to how the program should be conducted on his watch, when he was the secretary of Defense. And in his mind, as I was mentioning a minute ago, these are the standards that should be applied -- the reciprocity and roughly equal value to both nations.
Q: How common -- this is a procedural question. How common is it for a memo that has the type of blow-back that this one would have to be released by a relatively junior person without having sign-off at higher levels, that -- or perhaps the highest level?
Quigley: Well, I like to think that most of the time that the Department of Defense does not misinterpret its boss's guidance. This time there was a misinterpretation.
Q: I am having a problem with the timing on this, because this memo was issued on April 30th, which was Monday. And back in March Admiral Blair was on the record in Beijing saying how important he felt military-to-military contacts were and predicting, actually, that things would sort of go ahead pretty much as they had always been. And then, you know, a month and a half later, you have DoD coming out in a memo, however mistaken, reversing that policy. You didn't hear anything back from Pacific Command saying, "Um, this is a little different from what we expected to hear out of this"? I mean, two days, you hear nothing from Pacific Command, and the first you guys hear that this policy is out there and it's incorrect is yesterday?
Quigley: I don't believe we heard that, but I don't think that two days is an excessive amount of time, either. I know, in this day and age of instant e-mails, that many do. I don't share that view.
Q: Yeah, but can I follow up on this, please?
Q: Craig, you still haven't answered this question. What was the precipitating event that caused this aide to put out the memo on Monday?
Quigley: His understanding that the secretary had --
Q: Did the secretary say something to him on Monday? I mean --
Quigley: I don't know.
Q: -- it just came to him? And I mean, it sounds like this memo just -- you'd say, "Oh, it's about time to write a memo on China."
Quigley: I don't know that there was any particular magic to Monday, as opposed to yesterday or last Friday or -- it's one of those things that needs to be done. And the staff member felt that he understood the secretary's intentions, and Monday was the day. I don't think there's a particular significance to that day.
Q: Let me ask you another question about this guy who you don't want to shine a spotlight on. He's -- I think it's true that he's leaving in a couple of days or in a matter of days to take a job in industry.
Is he leaving because of this or was he previously already planning to leave?
Quigley: I don't know his future plans.
Q: Can you get us an answer to that question?
Quigley: I'll try. [He serves at the pleasure of the secretary of Defense.]
Q: Is there some kind of prohibition on going right to an arms contractor from a job in the building?
Quigley: I don't know his intentions. Let me take the first question.
Q: Can we address the issue --
Quigley: Barbara, yes?
Q: Can I just clarify a couple of points? So first of all, a follow up on David's question: can you tell us whether or not the secretary of Defense actually ordered that some directive be put out on the China mil-to-mil policy? Was there any -- did the secretary say, "Put a directive out, and this is what I want"?
Quigley: I don't know.
Q: So how can you say that he was misunderstood if we don't know --
Quigley: There --
Q: -- if he --
Quigley: We are really trying to wrap ourselves around the axle of a simple misunderstanding here. And I don't know how I can make this any more clear.
Q: Well, with all due respect, Admiral Quigley, your --
Quigley: The secretary was reviewing the mil-to-mil program with China. We said that two months ago. The staff member understood the review to be complete and this was the secretary's intentions. When he felt that was the right time to do it, was in a memorandum dated Monday, his understanding was incorrect. We're now trying to clarify the secretary's actual intentions.
Q: Is the review complete?
Q: So -- excuse me -- so he wrote this believing this to be the result of the review of the mil-to-mil policy?
Q: It was not coordinated with Congress, it was not coordinated with any other agency at the national security community, it just happened?
Quigley: I don't know with whom it was coordinated. I know, as I said earlier, that Secretary Rumsfeld had discussed his intentions with other members of the national security team, and what surprised them yesterday was hearing something different than they knew his intentions to be.
Q: Well we've heard an awful -- again, with all due respect, we have heard an awful lot about Secretary Rumsfeld's excellent business management style, and I guess the skepticism is, what does this say, then, about his management of his own senior staff if such a mistake can happen and something can go so badly, honestly wrong? What --
Quigley: I think he would be the first one to tell you that he wished he had more staff in order to accomplish more things and move on on the topics that are important to him.
Q: Has he instituted any procedures or reviews to make sure something like this doesn't happen again until he can get --
Quigley: Overkill. No, not at all.
Q: To go back on the plane, briefly, have the Chinese communicated in any way to the United States that they wish not to have the plane flown out of Hainan Island?
Quigley: Not that I'm aware of, no.
Q: Okay, and --
Quigley: I mean, first things first. You must let the assessment team find out if that's even a doable do, Mik. What is the extent of the damage to the plane?
And if I have to bring in so much special equipment and so many parts and engines and whatnot that it just doesn't make sense to do that, then that leads you to a disassembly option and getting it off the island another way.
Q: So the Chinese haven't communicated to the U.S. in any way that they don't want the plane flown off the island?
Quigley: Not that I'm aware of, no.
Q: Okay. And then the only reason to power up the plane is to determine whether it can be flown off? Because to dissemble the plane, you don't need to power it up.
Quigley: Well, it's a -- I guess I'd go back one step before that. It's not necessarily to fly off, it's just to ascertain the condition of the electrical components on the plane. It's a mandatory first step before you go much further, because the electrical systems are so key to the control surfaces, to the hydraulic systems; it all starts there. And I've got to have power to know what's damaged, and is it important or not to the safety of the -- every last thing doesn't have to be working perfectly in order to move the plane off the island, but if I do hope to fly it off, it's got to be safe to fly, capable of flying, things like that.
So step one is getting power to really do a thorough systems check. The structural inspections, external structural inspections, those are important, too, but all of these pieces have got to be done before you can say, "Okay, now I understand the condition of the plane and this is what I think we can do from here."
Q: But is there even a fundamental, preliminary step that -- the Chinese have not yet said that we can even have the airplane yet.
Quigley: Yeah, one step at a time, Otto. You're right, you know? You're right. They have allowed the assessment team to come in and, in discussions with the Chinese, it tends to be one step at a time.
Q: Are the Chinese reviewing -- along with the assessment team, do they insist on being there while they -- and if they get it powered up, do they want to be there, while it's powered up, inside the plane?
Quigley: I know they are present as we're doing what little we have done so far, but I would think that would be understood and natural. So I don't know what sort of insistences they have made as to where they should place themselves while the assessment is going on. I don't know.
Q: To what extent did Secretary Rumsfeld consult with the Joint Chiefs or the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command before he made this decision about moving to a case-by-case approval process for military-to-military contacts?
Quigley: I don't know.
Q: Wasn't the decision --
Quigley: Yes, sir.
Q: Do you have any provenance on the Indian government's endorsement for President Bush's NMD [national missile defense] system, his speech the other day, and if anybody from this have been in with anybody in India?
Quigley: Would you say that again?
Q: The Indian government have endorsed President Bush's speech the other day of his national missile defense system, and if anybody is in touch from this building with the Indian defense or India government.
Quigley: Not that I'm aware of, no.
Q: On berets, black berets, is the Department of Defense reviewing any other purchases from China? And does DoD, in fact, even know what it's buying from China or how much it's buying from China?
Quigley: That was a question that we are trying to get a good answer to. It's proving to be more difficult than we thought it might be. There are many, many things manufactured in China in all of our lives, and clothing items is but one. Electronics, you name it. The process that we have is that when the Defense Logistics Agency or another purchasing arm of the military puts out a bid, request for proposals for an item, the responders to that must list the components that are not made by American firms. But it's a hard database to search. And if you call out an individual item, you can pull the records on that and you can easily find out by a fairly quick review if there are any exceptions to the components made in America. But to do it in a comprehensive way with the thousands and thousands of things that we purchase is incredibly labor intensive. And we're trying to find a way to give a good, accurate answer to that, and so far, we haven't come up with a very good way to do it.
Q: Is it Secretary Rumsfeld's intention to review those purchases?
Quigley: No. I think the issue here was, as General Shinseki said, you go back to his original purpose of making the decision to install or to provide the black berets as a very symbolic measure of the new Army and of a single team, and that is a very symbolic unity issue for him. That was his original motivation. And to him, the symbolism of such a beret was inconsistent with the berets being made of Chinese components or manufactured in China.
And when he made that decision that he's just not going to do it that way, then we said, "Okay, we support that decision, we'll recall the berets, separate out those that are made with Chinese components or made in China, and the Defense Logistics Agency will dispose of them -- we don't know how yet, but they'll figure out a way, there's a variety of ways of disposing of excess property -- and then reissue the berets that are not in that category with the intention of still keeping to the Army birthday, June 14th, distribution and ceremonial wear of the beret.
Q: Admiral, why is the Pentagon DLA going through this review to find out what else the military and Pentagon buys from China?
Quigley: We've got a variety of questions from reporters, for one. I mean, it's a fair question. We're trying.
Q: But is there any intent on the part of the Pentagon or the military to not buy anything from China? Is that the intent of this exercise?
Quigley: No, that I have -- no, that I've heard discussed, no.
Q: Different subject? Can you --
Quigley: Any on that?
Q: One more.
Quigley: Yes, sir.
Q: The U.S. has so much trade with China, so much surplus and also billions worth of dollars U.S. invests China. Why China is giving so much hard time to the U.S. and not letting this plane -- helping them and giving the plane back to the U.S.?
Quigley: That's a good question. I wish I could give you a good answer.
Q: (Inaudible) -- the public really will get angry here and one day they will say just break all the ties with China -- with the Chinese.
Quigley: I don't have a good answer for you. I'm sorry.
Q: If I could just beat this dead horse a little bit more. I just -- I'm still a little unclear. On Monday, Secretary Rumsfeld instructed Mr. Williams to put out a memo stating what had been known for months.
Quigley: No, I don't think that's true. On Monday, the staff member signed a memorandum. When he came to his understanding, incorrect though it may be, when he came to his understanding of the secretary's intentions, I don't know. On Monday, he put pen to paper and signed it. But I --
Q: Well, but --
Quigley: -- don't know if it started last Thursday or Friday or Monday morning.
Q: What did Secretary Rumsfeld instruct him to put out?
Quigley: I don't know that he did. It was the staff member's understanding that the secretary's review of the mil-to-mil program was complete, and this was his decision and intention, and that needs to be communicated. In this case, it was a misinterpretation of the secretary's intentions.
Q: So what you're saying is that there was a review underway for two months. And then the review was completed, and the secretary came to a decision. And it was that decision that misunderstood in the memo. And there might have been another -- a differently worded memo out on Monday with the correct decision had that misunderstanding not taken place.
Q: So the review is complete?
Quigley: The review is complete.
Q: And wasn't the decision two months ago to review everything on a case-by-case basis?
Quigley: No. The decision two months ago was let everything go on, because so much planning had gone into it. Let it all continue through the end of May. And hold in abeyance everything after the end of May until he was completed -- till he had completed his review. And this is now complete, and the way he wants to do it is as I've described: the various proposals to come up here for review and approval.
Q: Would you take the question as to some of the details of this new policy, what it does to the lives of attaches, what it does to a very broad level of minor contact that the U.S. has with China?
Quigley: I'll try.
Q: Would you help us distinguish that?
Quigley: I'll try. [In accordance with their duties, U.S. military attaches worldwide may continue their contacts with PLA/PRC. Our case-by-case review applies to bilateral contacts; it does not apply to third country-hosted functions.]
Q: On that note, is there any concern here about just bureaucratic backups now on this thing, if it's going -- if all these decisions have to be funneled through a very small funnel?
Quigley: No, I think we can -- I think there's an implied commitment on the part of the staff here to be pretty quick about it -- as quick as you need to be.
Q: (Off mike.)
Quigley: But I don't anticipate, Pam, something to say on a -- you get it on Friday and say, "Oh, by the way, on Monday, I'd like to do the following." I don't think it's going to be that way at all. You're going to have a considerable lead time involved because you're going to want to be very deliberate and considered in your review process that goes on.
Q: So what --
Quigley: So I don't think you're going to talk about a months-long delay. But it will be thoughtful, and it will be done well.
Q: What about casual contacts? I guess this is John's question. If you are going somewhere where Chinese officials might be, and you just get invited to this cocktail party at another embassy on Thursday --
Quigley: Yeah, and I don't know the answer to that question. I'll try to figure that one out. [Our case-by-case review applies to bilateral contacts; it does not apply to third country-hosted functions.]
Q: Just help me understand this. Does the secretary see any value to relations with China?
Quigley: Yes! I mean, from his testimony to his comments since he's become the secretary -- China is real. It's there. You don't hide your head in the sand and ignore that it exists.
On the other hand, the relationship needs be appropriate and proper, in his view. And for the mil-to-mil program, he feels this is the appropriate way to thoughtfully consider the proposals for a military-to-military program.
Q: He doesn't perceive of China as an enemy?
Quigley: No. No, I don't know as he's ever used any adjective like that to describe any country since he's been secretary, certainly.
Q: So he's not diametrically opposed to any form of contact within the militaries?
Quigley: I think he wants to do it in a very measured and considered way.
Q: Craig, let me just -- (inaudible) -- because I'm kind of confused. There's -- you are saying no cause-and-effect relationship whatsoever between the EP-3 still sitting in China and the memo, either memo, and the cancellation of the beret contract and the continuing search for what else may be made in China? There's no cause-and-effect relationship there whatsoever?
Quigley: They overlap and predate and post-date each other. I mean, you're not going to be ignorant about the fact that the collision occurred and our crewmembers were detained for 12 days. But I think the secretary looks at the mil-to-mil program -- it's a review that he started before the collision -- and it's a program that has far-reaching implications.
We have had it in place for many years. It can be a productive interactive program with another nation's military. He wants to make sure that that is, in fact, the case and done at the right level with the right level of supervision and oversight of the program.
Q: In California, they are suggesting that American nuclear ships and Navy ships that are in mothballs be used to supplement California's power grid. Can you help us understand the feasibility of that? Is the Defense Department studying it? Is it patently ridiculous?
Quigley: It's technically feasible, but you don't get much for your efforts. The power from a nuclear reactor on board a submarine or a surface vessel is geared mostly towards the propulsion plant, and you're talking here -- I mean, turning the screws and making the ship go. The power that you're talking about in California for electrical systems and the like is much, much, much greater in generation capability than the nuclear reactors that you find on nuclear-powered warships. It would be not much of an advantage, John, to go through that engineering.
Q: And pulling ships out of mothballs, which has also been proposed, which seems, on the face of it, ridiculous?
Quigley: I had not heard that one. I had heard the nuclear-powered warship proposal, thinking of the great power and endurance of a nuclear reactor. I had not heard the mothballed -- fossil-fuel ships, I imagine, is the proposal --
Q: Have there been discussions between Navy officials and California power officials about the feasibility of any of this so far?
Quigley: I believe so, yeah.
Q: On what level has that taken place?
Quigley: Don't know. I don't think it's being actively pursued anymore because of its just very, very limited help to the --
Q: When was it being actively pursued?
Quigley: Two, three weeks ago; four, maybe.
Q: Craig, back on China. In the wake of the president's decision on what arms will be offered to China and his statement about American guarantees, what level of military-to-military contacts with Taiwan has the secretary approved?
Quigley: I do not know. I don't know.
Q: Will you take that?
Quigley: I'll see what I can find out. [Our military relationship with Taiwan is unofficial in nature and is consistent with guidelines contained in the Taiwan Relations Act. In accordance with the act, the U.S. will provide Taiwan with the necessary defense articles and services necessary to maintain sufficient self-defense.]
Q: On national missile defense, can you shed any light or provide any details on what some of the near-term options that President Bush referred to, promising technologies that could be deployed perhaps sooner rather than later for a missile defense capability. Can you give us any idea what those might be, what programs might be accelerated or what might be further explored?
Quigley: No, I won't get out -- As the secretary said yesterday, he prefers to discuss those and consult with the allies and get their input first and then come to final decisions by the president, and I won't get out in front of that. I'm sorry.
Q: Yes, on Vieques. Last week you mentioned from the podium that there was a robust security plan in place to provide security during the training exercises for the USS Enterprise.
However, Navy officials and reporters on the ground stated that the Puerto Ricans did not -- seemed, at least, not to cooperate. Is it the feeling of the department that the Puerto Rican police did their share --
Quigley: I'm not familiar with the details of the operations of the Puerto Rican police during the training exercises.
Q: They have not reported back to the department?
Quigley: They may have reported to the Navy Department. I don't know -- I have not heard any detailed after-action as to who exactly did what.
Q: Another follow-up question. Over the last four days, over 100 people, not from Vieques, necessarily, tried to immediately end the training at Vieques, either going on the range, attacking federal officials, destroying federal property both in Vieques and in the main island of Puerto Rico. Will you end the training in response to some illegal pressure tactics?
Quigley: Well, if you have people who peacefully demonstrate, I mean, that's one of the things that America's military protects an America citizen's right to do. But if you have individuals that then break the law and put themselves at risk, put our security forces at risk; put the training, which is so very important to our men and women in uniform, in jeopardy and actually would do harm to security forces, that's much more troublesome. And I think breaking the law is never the way to go.
So I make a big distinction between those breaking the law and those peacefully protesting. That is indeed one of the freedoms that we all treasure.
Q: Follow-up on Vieques. Yesterday, 10 congressional Democrats, who have always maintained the position that the Navy should end training in Vieques immediately, once again renewed their call to the president, and also to the secretary, to end the training. Do you believe that this represents the majority view of the members of Congress?
Quigley: I have no idea. I do know that we think the way ahead is to comply with the agreement that was put in place a little over a year ago. We thought it was a good compromise then, we think it's a good compromise now, and to us, that is the best way to proceed from here.
Q: The president has repeatedly said that he will follow the Vieques agreement, even though -- in spite of the actions of the Puerto Rican government. And the White House press secretary stated basically the same. Is there any indication that the president is changing his mind or position in light of the calls?
Quigley: Not that I have heard, although I would recommend you ask him.
Q: Well, they usually refer all calls -- Vieques calls to DoD. That's why I'm --
Quigley: Well, a Vieques call is one thing; asking what the president may or may not do is another.
Q: Last week, Judge Kessler recommended that the Puerto Rican government and Navy officials reach an agreement on the dispute over training in Vieques. Would the Navy or the department consider ending all training on Vieques? Is that an option to those discussions?
Quigley: Again, we think that the agreement is the right way to go. And we think training on Vieques is important. It's very important to the battle group. The battle group that trained down there for four days recently left at a higher level of readiness than when it got there. I think we -- we owe that to the men and women that we deploy around the world in America's interest. You know, there are a lot of training ranges in different parts of the United States, 33, I believe, different areas around the country, many of which are much closer than the nine-mile separation between the live-impact area on Vieques and the town. You have the ranges at a variety of parts of the country -- three miles, five miles, six miles.
And this is something that the citizens in a democracy need to be able to conduct the realistic training for the men and women in uniform that the citizens, their government, send forward to do the nation's bidding. Many of the times, that involves going into hostile parts of the world. Arabian Gulf is an example. There are others. Kosovo. The Balkans over the years. And many times when we train forces, they use that training, and within weeks of its final completion. That's the whole point.
There is a burden to be shared by American citizens to support the realistic training that their military needs to do its job. And Vieques is one of those very important training areas. There are 32 others that I think there are around the country, and again, many of which are closer than the nine-mile separation between the live-impact area and Vieques.
Q: And during her recommendations last week, Judge Kessler also said or urged that it would be prudent or wise to halt all Navy training until the health studies in Vieques were conducted. And there seemed to be a dispute in terms of the promise or commitment that the secretary, Secretary Rumsfeld and former Secretary Danzig had made to the government of Puerto Rico to condition the resumption of training. Is that true, or is that on the table?
Quigley: Well, I would certainly agree that we are anxious to get more data on the medical studies that have been performed by the Ponce Medical School. So I would ask that all the data available be turned over to Health and Human Services so they can do the comprehensive review. Nothing we have seen so far shows a correlation between the type of training that is done in Vieques and the medical condition that was evident on this one sample from workers in a factory, I believe, being exposed to elevated levels of noise for eight, 10 hours a day, day after day after day. Very different conditions.
And in the absence of any correlation between the training noise and that study, there's just been no evidence that we've seen so far that would suggest that there was any need to curtail the training for that reason.
Q: But will the training be curtailed until this preliminary report comes out on this vibro-acoustic disease?
Quigley: Same answer to the question. I mean, there has been no evidence shown so far that there is any correlation. Johns Hopkins University has done a quick look; they find no correlation. Health and Human Services is doing a much more considered -- they're still struggling getting the information they need from the Ponce Medical School to do the through assessment. Thaat will probably be a period of months before that is done. But the quick look just shows that there's nothing there that correlates to the actual noise levels of training.
You know, the Navy knows a lot about noise. We've studied this for decades. And our concern is for the people on our ships and our aircraft that actually fire the guns and fire the weapons systems that are much, much closer than the people that we're talking about here on the training range in Vieques.
So this is an issue that we know a lot about, and there's a lot of literature in the analysis that has existed for decades on this topic. And we look forward to being a part of the review of any further documentation and analysis that might come out of the Ponce Medical School. We understand the concern of the citizens of Vieques, but our best assessment at this point is that there is no impact on their health from this training.
Q: Can you just give us a status report on the nuclear review, and when will it be completed? Will there be some sort of an announcement when it's completed?
Quigley: Nuclear Posture Review?
Quigley: I believe it's to be completed in December -- let me take that -- I'm guessing. Let me take that for sure. [The Nuclear Posture Review is due to Congress in December 2001.]
Q: Will there be like a report or an announcement or are we just going to start seeing changes and -- the reductions that the president was talking about on Tuesday, is there any kind of a time frame for that sort of stuff?
Quigley: I think the secretary -- or the president's announcement from his speech at National Defense University, his words speak for themselves. I mean, he committed to "reducing to a minimum level," I think were his words. And again, this is an element that'll be -- we'll consult with our allies around the world as well as Russia and China and discuss this topic in the months ahead. I don't have any good answers for you today. I think the Nuclear Posture Review is late this year, and I want to say it's December. But let me take that and we'll double-check the date.
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