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DoD News Briefing - Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD PA
May 11, 2000 2:00 PM EDT

Thursday, May 11, 2000 - 2:03 p.m. EDT

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon. Welcome.

Let me start with a couple of announcements. First, a week from tomorrow, May 19th, will be the 50th anniversary of Armed Forces Day, and in commemoration of that, President Clinton will join Secretary Cohen and General Shelton at Andrews Air Force Base on the 19th, Friday, to open the Joint Service Open House at Andrews Air Force Base. This is an annual event, but obviously it takes on special significance on the 50th anniversary.

We have a long list of Armed Forces Week events that will take place all next week, and it's on the table as you leave.

Second, next Tuesday the National Women's Law Center will present a report on military child development centers. Secretary Cohen will receive that report here on Tuesday, May 16th, at 10:00. This is a study that evaluates the child care centers run by the military and says that they're a model for the rest of the country. So that will be here next Tuesday at 10:00.

Q: By "here," you mean --

Mr. Bacon: Here. Right here. Right here. Right here in front of this --

Q: (Off mike.)

Mr. Bacon: And finally, there is a Japanese visitor here. I'd like to welcome Masahiko Sasajimi, who's part of the State Department visitors program. He's from the huge Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun. Our newspapers -- the biggest newspaper in the United States, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, each have circulations of about 1.8 million. The Japanese newspapers, I think, have circulations that are in the 10 to 15 million range. Isn't that correct?

Q: That is correct.

Mr. Bacon: So they're large newspapers, by American standards.

With that, I'll take your questions. Charlie?

Q: Ken, have you any comment on the story in the Post and the Times about General Claudia Kennedy and that Army Inspector General has come to the conclusion that her allegations are founded?

Mr. Bacon: I do not have any comment on that. The stories made clear that whatever process there is still under way, and it would be inappropriate for me to comment on it.

Q: Has the secretary been made aware of the findings of the IG?

Mr. Bacon: This is right now an Army issue, but the secretary certainly reads newspapers and talks to the Army. But this is something the Army is handling.


Q: Do you have the latest on the Israeli transfer of airborne radar to the Chinese?

Mr. Bacon: The latest?

Q: Yeah. What's the situation now? (Off mike) --

Mr. Bacon: I believe that this has been discussed at the highest levels of the Israeli and the American governments, and it's been discussed clearly at the highest levels of the Israeli and the Chinese governments.

I have nothing new to report on it. Our position is very clear. Secretary Cohen made the position very clear when he was in Israel meeting with Prime Minister Barak, and what he said was that this was a risky transfer because the technology transferred to China could come back into the Middle East and ultimately be used against Israel at some time.

Q: The indication was that they are going to go ahead with the sale.

Mr. Bacon: Well, I don't think I should explain Israeli policy or decisions. I'll leave that up to them.

Yes, Charlie?

Q: Change the subject. Ken, are the military leaders in this building and, in fact, the secretary, are they against the administration's proposal to go even lower than START III and cut warheads immediately by a thousand?

Mr. Bacon: Well, I'm not aware that there's any administration proposal to go below 2,000 at this stage. As you know, in March of 1997, President Clinton and then-Russian President Yeltsin met in Helsinki and agreed to START III ranges of warheads in the 2,000 to 2,500 range. That would be down significantly from the START I level of 6,000 countable warheads on each side. Then we would move to the START II levels, which is a range between 3,000 and 3,500. They agreed to move down further to 2,000 to 2,500. That's the Helsinki agreement.

And the Russians have said they would like to go down further. But right now, we are looking at the Helsinki range of 2,000 to 2,500. There's been no decision to move -- to change that range.

Q: There is no decision to change it?

Mr. Bacon: No.

Q: Aside from changing that range, there are reports the administration wants to quickly, to quickly cut 1,000 within -- I guess that would be START III -- to quickly cut 1,000 before the summit meeting between Presidents Putin and Yeltsin (sic). Is that true?

Mr. Bacon: First of all, I just said there's been no change in the range, which is 2,000 to 2,500. That was the range agreed to at Helsinki. That was agreed to by both sides, the U.S. and Russia. There has been -- I do not believe that either side has talked about a unilateral move below that. What the Russians have talked about is a bilateral agreement that would be lower than 2,000.

They have not talked about a unilateral move and no one I'm aware of in the United States has talked -- I mean, no official has talked -- about a unilateral move below -- any unilateral move. Everything would have to be done in the context of a treaty negotiated by both sides. So in terms of a unilateral move, the answer is no. There has been no change in the U.S. position that the target for START III is 2,000 to 2,500.

(Cross talk.)

Q: Ken --

Mr. Bacon: Yeah.

Q: Let me just follow up just a second. I mean, I'm sorry. You said that no talk about a unilateral move below 2,000. How about a unilateral move now, on the part of the United States, to go to 2,000 or 2,500 before the summit meeting?

Mr. Bacon: We can't do that. We are limited by law to a certain force size. Right now, that force size has to be at the START I level. We can not go below the START I level until START II is fully approved and ready to go forward by both sides.

Now, it turns out that the START I level is not scheduled to be reached, by treaty, until December of 2001, so that level is 6,000 countable warheads. We are still somewhat above that level, but we're moving down onto it. Then the next step would be to move to the START II levels. That range is 3,000 to 3,500 warheads. The extended deadline for that is now 2007, so anything that happened beyond that presumably would happen later than 2007. The agreement reached in Helsinki was to aim for 2,000 to 2,500 for START III, and that is the range that is on the table for both sides right now.

(Cross talk.)

Q: Ken, are the Joint Chiefs examining both the Russian request, or proposal, and the proposal by the Clinton administration to go down to 2,000 to 2,500, and have they come up with recommendations that raise concerns at their level about their ability to carry out, you know, the nuclear mission or whatever based on either of those numbers?

Mr. Bacon: First of all, the Joint Chiefs review from time to time our strategic forces. And it would be appropriate for them to review strategic numbers now because President Clinton is preparing for a summit with President Putin in June. So what they have been looking at is the range that's on the table: 2,000-2,500. And they've had some discussions over that. The discussions are ongoing. I think it would be not productive or fair to characterize those discussions in any way right now. They're just looking at that range.

Q: There's been some suggestion -- for example, Congressman Weldon -- to the effect that going below a certain number -- I gather roughly 2,000 -- would, you know, throw the whole triad concept into question. Is there anything from this building relating to that issue that you're aware of?

Mr. Bacon: I don't know how often I can say this: The discussions for START III have focused on the range 2,0000-2,500. That's what is on the table, and that's what we've been looking at.


Q: Just between numbers, in reference to your previous answer of yours, by law the Department of Defense is forced to remain at START I level -- 6,000 countable -- until the Russians have ratified START II, I believe it's (fair?) to say.

Mr. Bacon: Mm-hmm.

Q: They've now, I think, done so.

Mr. Bacon: Right.

Q: So the administration could now come down to START II level, which is a drop of 2-1/2 thousand as rapidly as it wishes, could it not?

Mr. Bacon: Well, first of all, as I pointed out, we're not even at the START I levels yet. And we have under the revised scheduled for START II until 2007 to reach the START II levels. But my understanding is that the Senate has to review the Russian Duma action and the protocols that go with it, they have to be sent there by the administration to Congress, and that has not yet happened. So the final stage of review has not yet happened.

Q: Do you know of any -- while the timetable is 2007, do you know of any thinking within this building where the timetable could be accelerated for economic or for any other reasons for this drawdown?

Mr. Bacon: Well, it's very clear that in this building we have argued to be able to go below the START I limits, in part to avoid having to go through a service life extension program or rehabilitation program for some submarine -- ballistic launch submarine missile launch submarines.

But we were able to deal with that problem by keeping the subs in action for another year, and therefore, we were able to push off the service-life extension program, which is quite costly for each submarine. We obviously hope that START II will be fully ratified and ready to move forward by all sides so that we can start going below the START I levels at the appropriate time.

Q: You run out of ability to push off the SLEPs when? Quite soon, I think.

Mr. Bacon: I think it may be next year, but I'll have to check on that.

Q: Has the --

Mr. Bacon: Jim?

Q: I'm sorry; are you on the same subject?

Q: Same subject.

Q: Okay, go ahead. Go ahead, Jim.

Q: Okay. Has the Joint Chiefs taken a position that to go below the 2,000 level would destroy nuclear deterrence?

Mr. Bacon: We set the 2,000 to 2,500 range in 1997, and we have not moved off that as a country. Obviously, the Russians will propose -- they already have proposed lower numbers. So at some point, we have to look at lower numbers if they're going to keep proposing lower numbers. And at the appropriate time, we'll do that. Right now the discussion in this building has focused on the 2,000 to 2,500-warhead range that's been laid out in Helsinki.

Q: And further on the Gertz article, it's reported that Admiral Mies said the bottom, absolute bottom should be 2,500 warheads, and it's implied that the Joint Chiefs are backing him in that particular number. Is there any accuracy to that, or can you say?

Mr. Bacon: Well, all I'll say is that we have been focusing on the range of 2,000 to 2,500. We continue to focus on that range, and there will be discussions before the summit and after the summit focused on that range.

Q: Ken, didn't the Joint Chiefs sign off on that number as feasible before Clinton made the agreement in Helsinki?

Mr. Bacon: They did, yes.

Q: But now they're reconsidering it based on --

Mr. Bacon: I didn't say they're reconsidering. I think we have been focusing on that range, which are 2,000 to 2,500.

Q: (Off mike.)

Mr. Bacon: While it's not something we focus on every day, it was really a -- it was really a -- it was chimera for a long while because we didn't even have START II ratified. Now that the Duma has ratified START II, people can begin focusing on the next step. Now, the next step clearly is complex because it not only involves START III, but it involves questions about a national missile defense and the ABM Treaty, as well.

Q: Does the secretary consider that going below the 2,000/2,500 would be an appropriate bargaining chip to get the Russians to agree to change START II and let you go to NMD?

Mr. Bacon: The secretary considers it appropriate to discuss options within the range of 2,000 to 2,500.

Q: But not below?

Mr. Bacon: Yeah?

Q: Ken, kind of another stab from a different direction here. Besides the issue of, you know, equipment and submarines and stuff, is another issue having to do with this 2,000 to 2,500 number and the firmness of it, does it have to do with the whole nuclear strategy and with the whole war plan that involves, you know, a certain number of weapons on a certain number of targets, et cetera, that would have to be completely revised or even abandoned if you went to a lower number? Is that one of the reasons why that number is so firm, as you keep saying here today?

Mr. Bacon: Obviously, we size our force to deal with the threats or challenges we would face in the unlikely and unwanted event that we would ever use that force. Clearly, the military has decided that it can reduce the force significantly. It has reduced the force significantly from over 10,000 warheads now to approximately 7,000; soon that will be down to 6,000, then will move down to 3,000 to 3,500, which is the START II range. And then, if there is a START III agreement, we would move below 3,000 to the range we've currently set of 2,000 to 2,500. But that range has not been negotiated; it's a range that has been agreed to in '97 by President Clinton and former President Yeltsin.

The military has shown that it's been flexible, that it can get by with far fewer weapons. And they agreed to the range of 2,000 to 2,500, and that's the range that's currently on the table.


Q: Just pursuing the numbers, you've used throughout 6,000 and the rest. But those are all START-countable, aren't they, which are --

Mr. Bacon: Well, most of the time I've said "countable" warheads.

Q: That's all right; the point being that those are wholly artificial. The real numbers are about double. That's true, isn't it?

Mr. Bacon: It is extremely complex, and I don't think I'll get into the theological aspects of counting. It's all laid out. I couldn't quote for you what the definition is. (Cross talk.) But we move from -- we are actually moving from -- one of the changes, as I understand it, between START I and START II, is that we move from this artificial construct of so-called countable warheads down to actual warheads in START II.

Yes, Steve?

Q: Going to even more numbers, if I might, is it correct to presume that START III, year 2000 and 2,500, is about as low as anyone here is going to ever be able to bring the arsenal? Because of national missile defense, you cannot negotiate the Russians much lower than that without causing them to no longer have an effective deterrent, as the national missile defense system grows? That's what a lot of critics of the system say. I am curious if people here presume that the arsenal will just never get any smaller than a couple thousand?

Mr. Bacon: 2,000 to 2,500 warheads are a lot of warheads, and it's an extremely powerful force. I don't know how many cities you think there are in the United States with a population of over 100,000. But I would guess there are not 2,000 cities with populations over 100,000. So -- I think it's premature to get into that sort of talk right now.

Obviously, President Clinton and President Putin will sit down, and they will talk about the challenges they face in reducing arms and the opportunities they face to reduce arms further. And they will talk about the protective aspects of a national missile defense system and how we can work with the Russians to reduce their fears about a national missile defense system, which is not aimed at Russia in the first place.

Q: Well, what's the floor that both nations have to have, presumably, in this situation?

Mr. Bacon: I can't get into a number. But the type of national missile defense system we are considering is designed to deal with a small number of warheads far, far below anything being contemplated today for START III limits.

Q: And just one last thing, can I get you --

Mr. Bacon: And that includes the 1,500 the Russians have proposed.

Q: Can I get you to say in any context the number 1,999? (Laughter.)

Mr. Bacon: No.

Q: Ken?

Mr. Bacon: Yes.

Q: It's been pretty widely reported that Russia, for financial reasons, wants to bring their arsenal down below what you have said is the range that the Pentagon would consider, so if Russia comes to the June summit with anything below --

Mr. Bacon: I want to be clear. The range that I'm talking about, 2,000 to 2,500, is the range that was agreed to at Helsinki in 1997 by Boris Yeltsin and President Clinton.

Q: Got it. So if Russia comes to that summit with anything below that, when you're saying now to us is that the Joint Chiefs are not discussing anything below that. Does that mean that any Russian proposal below that would be a non-starter? And a side question to that is, then isn't it not prudent right now to be discussing the potential of any lower number that Russia may bring in?

Mr. Bacon: Well, the Russian number of, proposal of 1,500 has been out there for some time.

Q: Right, so have we been discussing it?

Mr. Bacon: We have not moved away from our current range of 2,000 to 2,500.

Q: Well, should we take out of this room, though, the idea that the Joint Chiefs have not been discussing the implications of what 1,500 or lower would mean?

Mr. Bacon: You should take out of this room that the discussions that we have had focus primarily on the 2,000 to 2,500 range.

Q: Primarily, so that happens --

Mr. Bacon: And that there has been no decision in this administration to change that range.

Q: But have there been discussions about what the implications of lowering that range would be?

Mr. Bacon: I'd just like to stick with the current range.


Q: On the question of the floor, Ken, isn't it the case that when General Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs he initiated studies which demonstrated that by mutual agreement with the Soviets, the U.S. could, in fact, have (some structure?) -- deterrent structures at 500, 1,000, 1,500, 2,000? And Powell accepted those studies; isn't that the case?

Mr. Bacon: That was before my time, and I don't think I'll -- I mean, you're -- can go back and read what General Powell said about that in his own book or elsewhere as well as I can.


Q: Different topic? When --

Mr. Bacon: Are we through with this?


Q: Can you just repeat that range one more time? (Laughter.)

Mr. Bacon: Which range? Are you talking about the START II range?

Q: (Off mike.) (Laughter.)

Q: Just -- I'm just going to ask you just one more time, you've said repeatedly that there's been no agreement within the administration to go below the 2,000-2,500. Nobody's asking that. Is there any proposal at all to your knowledge emanating from anywhere in this administration to go below 2,000?

Mr. Bacon: I have not made a systematic survey of people in the administration, and I can't answer that. I'm not aware of any proposal, but I can't say flatly there isn't. I'm not aware of a proposal beyond the Russian proposal.

Obviously this is an issue that is widely discussed in public, and should be widely discussed. There are all sorts of experts on nuclear forces. And many people feel qualified to comment on nuclear force levels, and do. And it's very appropriate that they do that. This is a very important issue. It's one on which we spend a lot of time, and it's one on which our security depends. So it's an appropriate issue for discussion; I'm not denying that. And obviously this is going to be discussed, I would say, at great length and with great fervor leading up to the Clinton-Putin summit and after the Clinton-Putin summit.

Yes. Bob.

Q: Different subject. Iraq's air defense --

Mr. Bacon: Hold it.

Are you -- on this topic, or --

Q: No, I'm on a different topic.

Barbara, go ahead.

Mr. Bacon: Yeah. She's next.

Q: Can you bring us up to date on any military support for fire fighting at Los Alamos?

Mr. Bacon: Oh, yeah. It's listed -- it's being conducted by the National Guard. And I understand that the New Mexico National Guard has put 337 Guardsmen on state active duty to haul water and provide other help. And they are being supported with Humvees -- somewhere I've got a long list here, but it's disappeared in a sea of paper.

(To staff.) Do you have another copy of this long list you gave me? (Searches documents, laughter.)

Well, it was a really great list. (Laughter.) And here it comes!

All right: 337 New Mexico National Guard members have been called to active duty to provide water movement, traffic control, security, power generation, evacuation support and to transport firefighting crews.

They have -- they're being supported with the following types of equipment: generators, to power water pumps, 20 Humvees, four five-ton tractors, three five-ton cargo trucks, two 2,000-gallon water trucks, one 4,000-gallon water tanker, one 5,000-gallon water tanker, and a pumper truck, some other equipment. And I'll provide you a whole list of this. They also are using four UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters to help with evacuation, observation, etc.

Q: Are those Blackhawks also -- those are National Guard helicopters, rather than active-duty?

Mr. Bacon: I believe that all this equipment is National Guard equipment.

Q: And can you --

Staff: It's state equipment.

Staff: It's state --

Mr. Bacon: State equipment?

Staff: Yeah, but I mean under state authority.

Mr. Bacon: State -- it's under state authority now.

Q: Just also, to close that loop, to the best of your knowledge, has the Department of Defense been asked for any military support, security, anything to help protect the explosive material at Los Alamos?

Mr. Bacon: I'm not aware that we have. We have notified both state and Federal Emergency Management Administration authorities that we stand ready to help them in any way that they think is necessary or that we think is reasonable.

Q: Can you just tell us what some of those things are that the Pentagon could offer in this situation?

Mr. Bacon: Well, I think I'll wait for requests, and we'll do our best to satisfy those requests.

Yes, Bob?

Q: At a news conference today in Baghdad, Iraq's air defense commander claimed that Iraq has developed techniques to -- essentially to render HARM missiles harmless, to trick them into missing their targets, and that none that have been fired during the course of this year have hit their targets. Can you comment on that?

Mr. Bacon: Well, I haven't seen that press conference, and I should probably read it before I comment. But I'm not aware that our HARM missiles don't work. But on the other hand, I can't tell you when the last time we used a HARM missile was. We use a variety of ordnance over Iraq.

And I think -- actually, we have not -- the main reason we haven't been using HARM missiles is they don't turn on their radars. So they have been firing at us either with anti-aircraft munitions and very occasionally with missiles. I think the last missile they fired was in March -- the last surface-to-air missile they fired in March. Typically, they fire them unguided, because they are afraid that if they turn on their radars, we will zap them with HARM missiles, which of course zero in on radar beams. So if we haven't used HARM missiles, the main reason is that they haven't been using their radars.

Q: So haven't they developed a technique to defeat them?

Mr. Bacon: I'm not aware that they have, but we will read this press conference with interest.


Q: The No Gun Ri investigation -- can you tell us whether that's winding up or coming to a close, or is there any status report you can give us on where that stands?

Mr. Bacon: It continues, and I believe it will probably continue until the fall. There was initially some hope of wrapping it up in June. It may take longer than that. We are interviewing -- I think we have -- the Army has interviewed about 100 witnesses so far, and they're continuing to interview witnesses.

Q: Have the -- can you tell us whether there's been any sort of preliminary findings that substantiate the claims made in the original Associated Press story?

Mr. Bacon: I think that it would be better not to salami-slice the findings and to wait for the Army to complete its work and come out with everything at once.

Q: Published reports have suggested that one of the key eyewitnesses in the AP account may not have actually been at the scene. Do you know if they -- if the Pentagon has interviewed this Ed Daily and whether or not they've determined whether he was actually there?

Mr. Bacon: Well, we're certainly interviewing everybody we can find. And since he was widely quoted in the original AP report, I think you can assume he's been interviewed.

One of the parts of the investigation is to determine the credibility of witnesses, which is fairly standard in any investigation. And I'm certain the Army has done that, but I have no reports to give you on what they found.

Yes, Pam?

Q: The House Armed Services Committee yesterday passed language that, if made into law, will substantially change the terms of the agreement on Vieques. And I was wondering if you all had reviewed those and had any suggestions for what Congress ought to do.

Mr. Bacon: Well, we hope that Congress will produce legislation that supports the presidential directive that came out in January. And that laid out the terms. A crucial part of that was that the Navy be able to support approximately -- exactly $40 million in construction and other programs to improve the island of Vieques after training begins with inert ordnance. And that has started.

So we would hope that Congress will allow us to move forward with that important part of the agreement, which is only fair under the agreement that we reached with the government of Puerto Rico.

Q: Are you moving forward already with that? Have any arrangements been made to get any of that money to Vieques?

Mr. Bacon: We cannot because it has to be appropriated, and the money hasn't been appropriated yet.

Q: So it won't be until at least September or October?

Mr. Bacon: Well, it won't be until after the -- we know what the projects are. They involve improving a pier and improving some roads and doing a host of other things, some training. Those were all laid out in the agreement, and we're prepared to move forward with those as soon as we get the money.

Q: But it will be October, a new fiscal year?

Mr. Bacon: Well, whenever Congress, in its wisdom, completes work on the budget, yes.

Q: Do you have any update on how many trespassers have been arrested since the range was cleared, and how many boats have been turned away?

Mr. Bacon: I don't have updates on that, but I'm sure we can get them for you.

Q: Has that interfered at all with the use, the renewed use of the range?

Mr. Bacon: No. The two events that we had planned have been carried out. The first was some bombing with inert bombs and then some naval gunfire also with inert ordnance. And those happened when the Navy wanted them to happen.

Yes, John?

Q: New topic?

Mr. Bacon: Yes.

Q: Kosovo. Congressional sources are saying that the investigators in the General Accounting Office have been having great difficulty getting data about the air war out of the Defense Department, that they have to call in lawyers before they could get material that they requested. Can you comment on that?

Mr. Bacon: Well, the Air Force is in the process of completing a very detailed, lengthy review. Like all reviews, it contains -- there are working papers that are created in the course of coming up with final chapters or papers in the review, and my understanding is that we typically don't provide those working papers to the GAO.

But I would anticipate that we will provide appropriate material to the GAO at the appropriate time. I don't believe that the Air Force has completed its work on this review yet.

But, you know, I think we have gotten a bum rap in Newsweek and elsewhere for not being forthcoming when, in fact, we have provided a large amount of information. And I would refer you back to the briefing that General Clark and General Corley gave in September last year at NATO where they laid out in I think very rich detail the methodology they used and also in very great detail the number of so-called catastrophic kills that they found on the ground in Kosovo, and then how they -- the methodology they used to move from the number of catastrophic kills to the numbers that were presented in the Kosovo after-action review and also in General Clark's briefing -- information that was left out of the Newsweek piece, I might point out.

Q: Can you, in reference to that briefing, explain why General Corley at that time said that 86 percent of these so-called confirmed claims that the Air Force was advancing had three or more sources to back them, whereas, in fact, the Air Force subsequently admitted to me that in 55 percent of the cases they didn't have a single source.

Mr. Bacon: Well, since I wasn't in that briefing with you, all I can do is go back to what General Corley said at the time, and he did speak both at the time and, I think, also in the briefing he gave here on Monday about the multiple sources they used and how they layered these sources in order to come up with the numbers they finally produced.

Q: But they were not, in fact, multiple sources, you will find.

Mr. Bacon: Well, I'd be glad to go back and ask General Corley that question. But all I can tell you is what he said publicly on that.

Q: Do. Would you go back and ask General Corley whether it is true that 55 percent of the sources of air strikes were single-source, which is the information the Air Force gave me?

Mr. Bacon: I -- I will --

Q: Which flatly contradicts what he said in September, and also on Monday.

Mr. Bacon: Well, I can't get into a cross-examination about what was said in an interview I didn't attend, but I can say assertively --

Q: (But if you're tracking?) what Corley says, you must surely know.

Mr. Bacon: I can say assertively that we had talked about the catastrophic kills back in September.

Any more questions? Yes, Chris.

Q: Thank you.

Q: There was one more. Testimony from an FBI official on the Hill today that there are known hostile intelligence officers operating as foreign press that have given credentials to the State Department to cover that building, I'm wondering whether you have any awareness of foreign intelligence officers that work within the Defense Department have credentialed press or otherwise that come and go from the building, as the FBI seems to believe is the case with the State Department.

Mr. Bacon: I'm aware that many intelligent reporters cover the Pentagon -- (laughter) -- but I'm not aware of any intelligence officers. But I'm open to all possibilities.

Q: A quick follow-up on that. One is can you tell us how many non-U.S. citizens hold Department of Defense press credentials? And if you could take that question if you don't have the answer off the top of your head, if that's -

Mr. Bacon: (To staff) Do we have that type of information?

Q: Can you also just tell us, routinely does the background check that's conducted for news media, does it include a review of whether or not the person is suspected to have any ties to foreign intelligence agencies? Is that something that would routinely be covered in the background check?

Mr. Bacon: I'll ask that.

Now, I can -- since you've asked about non-Americans, let me talk about Americans detained on Vieques. The original number of detainees was 216. That was last Thursday. Since then we have detained an additional 13, it looks like, people on Vieques. That's through Wednesday, yesterday -- four on Friday, two on Saturday, two on Monday, two on Tuesday, three on Wednesday, and a total of 62 boats have been stopped trying to reach Vieques.

Q: And just to clarify --

Q: By boat or by land?

Mr. Bacon: These boats have been stopped in the water.

Q: The procedure, when -- they are detained by U.S. military forces and then handed over to --

Mr. Bacon: They're handed over to marshals, yes, who actually process them.

Q: How many have now been criminally charged?

Mr. Bacon: I'm not sure that anyone has been criminally charged at this stage. I'm aware that there were going to be criminal charges brought. Several have been presented for possible criminal charges, but I don't know whether they have been brought.

Q: Thank you.

Mr. Bacon: You're welcome.


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