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DoD News Briefing, September 24, 1996

Presenters: Captain Michael Doubleday, USN, DASD (PA)
September 24, 1996 1:35 PM EDT

Tuesday, September 24, 1996 - 1:36 p.m.

Captain Doubleday: Sorry to keep you waiting. First of all, I just want to take a moment to welcome a group of students from American University. Welcome. We're always glad to have you here.

There's also a Dutch Television journalist by the name of Matthijs Cats who is visiting us today. He is the foreign editor of the respected Nova news program, and he's here with USIA's International Visitors program for a full month. We welcome you, sir.

And with that, let me try and answer some of your questions. (Pause.) If there are any questions! [Laughter]

Yes?

Q: Let me open up with Korea. The secretary -- Secretary Perry yesterday said that it was a deliberate act on the part of the North Koreans, that they were probably picking up and possibly unloading military reconnaissance personnel, commandos.

Mike, do we know, with our good liaison with the South Koreans, do we yet know what these people were up to? Is there anything there to indicate sinister intentions that might be linked to a possible offensive by the North Koreans?

A: Well, I think it's clear from the incursion that this represents a serious provocation, and it's a violation of the armistice agreement. We condemn it. We strongly urge the North Koreans to refrain from all such activities in the future.

The crew, the equipment, the mission profile of the submarine provide overwhelming evidence that it was involved in a hostile and provocative mission against the Republic of Korea, and all such military activities run counter to U.S. and Republic of Korea efforts to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Q: Did they tip-off what in fact they were doing, what they were --

A: I don't have any particular insights into what they were doing, other than what the Republic of Korea government has already provided to the press.

Susanne?

Q: Could you tell us, has there been any increase in military activity around the border? And also, has there been any request made -- or actually request granted to the South Koreans -- evidently they would like to see a renewal of the U.S.- South Korean exercises.

A: Well, on the first part of your question about activity, you know there's a very high state of alert that's always maintained there, but I'm not aware of any kind of unusual activity that's going on.

Now, on the second part of your question, we have a very robust program of joint exercises with the Republic of Korea as part of our relationship, our alliance relationship with the Republic of Korea, and each Team Spirit is part of that program. We decide with the Republic of Korea, on an annual cycle, whether to proceed with specific exercises like Team Spirit. In recent years, we have decided not to hold Team Spirit. In fact, the most recent one was held in 1993.

Our decision on Team Spirit is based on an assessment of training and the readiness needs of the U.S. and the Republic of Korea combined forces, and also an evaluation of overall security requirements on the Korean peninsula. There's been no decision made, and I don't anticipate one in the near term on Team Spirit for '97.

Q: Are you saying that --

A: But I will go on to say that regardless of the outcome of the decision-making process, we'll work with the Republic of Korea to maintain a high state of preparedness on the peninsula.

Q: So are you saying the smaller, briefer exercises do the job rather than the larger --

A: Well, I'm saying that there's an assessment made on a regular basis, an annual cycle, and it takes into account both the training requirements and the situation on the peninsula. And that will all be factored into the decision on Team Spirit this year.

Q: Mike, if this is a serious provocation, shouldn't the U.S. be trying to look for a way to respond to a serious provocation?

A: Well, you know that the Secretary of State and the South Korean foreign minister are discussing the matter in New York today, but I don't have any readout from their discussion.

Q: Well, can you, just in general, characterize whether or not this has resulted in heightened tensions in the region? I know you said that troops are always on a high state of alert there, but how would you assess at this moment the climate, the sort of political climate and the state of tension between North and South and the U.S. and North Korea?

A: Well, I think that there's no way that this thing can go on without increasing the tensions between the North and the South. And we certainly have gone out of our way to urge the North Koreans to refrain from this kind of activity in the future.

Q: New topic?

Q: No, same. Same?

A: Yeah.

Q: We can stay with this. This submarine was detected when it ran aground. Is there any movement of U.S. Navy assets into this area to listen for other North Korean naval activity? And is there any concern in this building that we didn't know about this submarine until it ran aground?

A: I can't -- first of all, I can't verify for you that that was the first that anybody in this building knew about it. I just don't have any insights into that. That's kind of an intel matter. But secondly, I'm not aware of any assets that have been moving around. But we can take that question and see if there's any movement there. I'm not aware of any, though.

Q: Do we also have now another -- the second POW/MIA team now in North Korea looking at doing joint excavation?

A: They have -- I don't have an update. Let us take that question, too, and we can give you an update.

Yeah?

Q: New topic?

Q: Actually, I just want to check one more thing. Will the U.S. get to inspect the submarine?

A: Don't know the answer to that question. I would --

Q: Have we asked to?

A: I would imagine that there would be an opportunity for that to occur, if we desire to do so.

Q: Is U.S. intel completely inside on this investigation?

A: I'm just not going to answer that kind of a question.

Yeah?

Q: On the president's speech this morning at the U.N. he mentioned some additional military equipment going to Mexico and Colombia in the near future for counter-drug operations. Do you have any details on that?

A: I think that our people back in DDI can probably provide you some information. I think since you've been away from the building, we have made some announcements regarding some equipment, and what he was referring to is that equipment. I don't have the list up here, but I'm sure that we can get that for you.

Yeah?

Q: Is there a cost estimate yet on how much it is costing the U.S. to send all this stuff to deter Iraqi aggression?

A: Let me just take a look here to see if I've got anything on that one. I don't think at this point we have a full readout on the cost.

Q: How about just a nice day-by-day number?

A: Let's just see here. Hold on just one second.

Okay. What I have here is some information that doesn't get a number for you. What we're going to -- [laughter]

It's going to be a while yet before we can accumulate all of the costs. But we're aware of your interest in that and we'll continue working it. I don't anticipate, though, that we're going to have it in the very near term because it's one of those things that has to be captured as they go through the deployment, and then we will get some insight into it.

 

Q: Does that all come out of O&M funding, or is there going to be a supplemental issue here?

A: I can't say from what I've got here. I'm just -- sorry. I don't have a good handle on whether it's going to have to be a supplemental.

Yeah?

Q: Is there any contribution to the cost coming from Gulf States, and who are they?

A: I am not aware of any contribution, other than what they normally make in the deployment of our forces that are over there. This is an incremental increase, and I think it's absorbed by the United States. It's part of our ongoing exercise program. You know, this increase over there is primarily a part of the Intrinsic Action Exercise series. It's the part of the -- of our overall goal to exercise our capability to take equipment which has been pre- positioned in the Gulf area out of storage, to make sure that it's rapidly deployable, useful, and to provide us an opportunity to train with Kuwaiti forces or other forces to make sure that we have a good, strong opportunity to exercise interoperability and to work with them on a continuing basis.

We do this about four times a year; so the deployment of the just under 3,000 that went over there is really kind of a standard thing. We do that all the time.

What we don't do all the time is deploy those other assets - - air assets, primarily, and some naval assets. And I think that's where you'll get the variation in cost of what we normally incur with our operations in the Gulf area.

Q: Any decision yet on the -- on whether and when you're going to move the U.S.S. CARL VINSON out of the Persian Gulf?

A: No decision. You saw what the secretary said over the weekend on the subject. And my guess is that sometime late this week or early next week there would be a decision, but the decision would be regarding forces that -- and would not affect the forces immediately, but at some time in the October time frame or shortly thereafter.

Q: Could you double-check on the cost? I had understood that Kuwait was defraying some of the cost of the deployment of these forces.

A: Certainly we will.

Q: Just to be clear about the CARL VINSON, doesn't it need to be -- in order not to break its deployment cycle, doesn't it need to leave by early October?

A: I think it's the second week in October it would have to start the redeployment.

Yeah. Anything else on this one?

Yeah? Let me get Pat here.

Q: I just wanted to see if you could clear up some facts on the Kamisiyah demolition. Do you -- have you concluded that there was actually nerve gas released during this demolition?

A: What we have at this point, Pat -- first of all, the -- let me preface everything I say with the statement that the entire Gulf War illness initiative, the research that goes into it, the investigation -- both medical and the investigation into the operation -- is a very complex thing. And information that we put out here, that we develop and that we try and provide to veterans and others is sometimes modified after we get additional information. New information comes to light through interviews with individuals who were there at the time. So I think anything we know is subject to change because it's a history that is being rewritten with a lot of details that are very important in this investigation, but unfortunately have not been pinned down with absolute certainty.

Now, specifically with regard to the destruction of chemical munitions by U.S. forces at Kamisiyah in 1991 -- just so everybody knows where we stand on this -- these were Iraqi munitions, chemical munitions, which we learned had been moved to Kamisiyah before, or during or slightly after, the air campaign actually commenced. And I can't pinpoint for you the exact time frame that they were moved. But it occurred, according to some accounts, before the air campaign. And it was actually in -- most of the munitions were in Bunker 73 while the air war was going on.

At some subsequent time, the Iraqis determined that some of those munitions were leaking, and they actually moved them from Bunker 73 to the open-pit area. And that accounts for two primary areas, both of which were destroyed in part by U.S. forces on either the 4th of March or the 10th of March; 4th of March, Bunker 73; 10th of March for the open-pit area.

Q: But do -- have you concluded that sarin gas was actually released in this area during these two events?

A: We have some evidence that some amount of gas may have been released. And based on the fact that some amount may have been released, we believe that our approach should be conservative, that we should go from the assumption that some gas was released so that we can notify individuals who may need to be notified, cross-check medical records to see if there's any kind of pattern that has been established. And Ken Bacon discussed some of this last week. But that is our operating assumption at this point.

Q: Have you concluded that any of the American troops in the area were made ill by the release of this sarin?

A: We believe at this point that there were no acute symptoms. That is to say that there were no individuals who exhibited the kinds of symptoms you would expect to see amongst those who were exposed to those kinds of chemicals at the time the destruction took place. At the time.

Q: What are the symptoms?

A: And the symptoms -- well, you can get them from DDI, but the worst are people would be dead because that is what normally would occur with these -- the purpose of these weapons is to kill large numbers of people through chemical agents.

Q: There are other symptoms?

A: There are some other symptoms that you would expect to get that did not show up in the medical treatment of individuals who were there at the time.

Q: Runny noses, shortness of breath, blurred vision?

A: All of those kinds of things. You would expect to see, particularly if the -- again, acute symptoms. Now, the questions that have arisen by most of those who are experiencing unexplained illnesses which are attributed to service in the Gulf have to do with whether there were any low-level exposures that might have caused this problem. And that is the very perplexing issue that at this point we have been unable to answer with any degree of certainty.

Q: Do you know if there -- are you saying there were no acute symptoms from this release of sarin or that you don't know whether there was any acute symptoms?

A: To my -- to the best of my knowledge right now, I am not aware of individuals, of any individuals in these two instances who subsequently reported to a medical authority who we've been able to track as having exhibited these symptoms at the time, that particularly in the literature that caused anybody to be concerned at the time.

Now, you may know of something else, and if you do, or if you have individuals who have made this known to the group -- I just don't happen to know of any cases.

Q: In the two areas on March 4th, how many American troops were in that footprint of the demolition?

A: Well, this is a good question and one that we are working on. One of the things that Ken mentioned to you was that we were awaiting a computer model which was to have been developed by CIA and provided to us. That model, as I understand it, has now been developed. And what we are going to have to do in our investigation is to apply the footprint of the computer model against the units that were in the area to try and pinpoint units that were actually affected by this. That process, I can't predict for you how long it's going to take, but my guess is that it will take them some time to identify not only units but, more importantly, the individuals who may have been exposed.

Q: So the 5,000 troops that you were in the process of announcing last week is probably going to get significantly larger?

A: Well, let me say this. Again, I don't want to rule out anything at this point. But when we made the announcement last week about the 5,000, the expectation on the computer model was that it would take weeks rather than days for it to be developed. My guess is that since we now have the computer model, it would make good sense to apply the footprint that the computer model has rather than the hypothetical 25-kilometer footprint, so that we could, again, deal with some -- from a basis of some real knowledge as opposed to using this hypothetical footprint.

So my guess is what you're going to see here is the application of the footprint of what we know in terms of units, ultimately individuals, and we will then be talking to those individuals.

Now, total numbers that are going to be affected, at this point I don't have any way of predicting that for you. I can't tell you whether it's going to be a larger number or a smaller number. All I can tell you is it will be a more accurate number than we would have had if we had gone with the 25-kilometer footprint.

Q: Why was the 25-kilometer footprint chosen?

A: Well, we established that one, again, to be -- because there was a desire to conservatively approach this issue and to make sure that individuals who might have been exposed were notified that they might have been exposed. And again, what we have here is more information coming in, a continuing process that will give us a better fix on the individuals we should be talking to.

Q: What I mean is, was that chosen because of wind patterns or because of the type of gas --

A: I think it -- no, I think it was chosen because of looking at troop concentrations in the area and looking at the possibilities of what might have come to play in terms of wind patterns and that sort of thing. But what the computer model does, it factors in important things like numbers of weapons destroyed, possible quantities released, and where the wind was blowing, what the various climatic inputs would have been in that kind of a situation.

Q: Can you tell us what the model concluded for the 10th?

A: I can't.

Q: For the 4th? For the 4th or the 10th?

A: I can't tell you -- I can't tell you what the model concluded for either day at this point. I haven't seen the model. What they're trying to do is to apply the information and come up with some good data about it.

Q: Is the Defense Department -- you're providing a witness for tomorrow's hearing before the --

A: Yes. Dr. White is -- no, wait a minute. Tomorrow Dr. Joseph is going to be up on the Hill testifying to a joint hearing that I believe has to do with veterans affairs and intelligence, yeah.

Q: Do you think that he is going to have something new to tell the committee?

A: I can't predict at this point. I just don't know how much work is required to develop some meaningful data based on these computer models.

Q: He declined to testify before a House committee last week because he said he didn't know anything new. So one would assume that he's testifying before this committee because he has something to add to the record. Is that a fair assumption?

A: I think that that's a pretty good indication of what direction we hope things go.

Q: There is a second incident altogether from the Kamisiyah area, and that is at the Port of Jubail, where witness after witness say that during the war, something exploded, and they have the classic manifestations of being gassed. Is that a source of additional intensive investigation?

A: Yes. The -- first of all, this particular incident is one that certainly was known to the investigation team. I mean, it's not one that is new. I think that the thing that is new about the reporting that was done on it was the very extensive number of interviews that the reporter did in putting together the piece. He'd obviously talked to a lot of veterans who were experiencing some kind of illness. But indeed, this is an incident, but among other incidents, that is being looked at by the Persian Gulf investigation.

Q: The Department at this point has no evidence and still, I guess, just flat-out denies that there was any release of chemical weapons at that date at that port in Saudi Arabia; right?

A: Well, what we've said from the very beginning is that we still believe that the Iraqis never used chemical weapons against U.S. troops. They fired chemical weapons against U.S. troops. They would -- the ballistic missile is not a missile that you put a chemical warhead in, and I'm not even sure that they had the capability to do that, the Scud missile that they deployed. It's not. And so it's conceivable that there is some kind of propellant that may have affected these individuals, but at this point we can't say exactly what it might have been.

Q: There was concern all through the war that the Scuds did have chemical weapons. They had the capability to put chemical warheads on the Scuds.

A: As far as I know, they never did.

Q: Right. Just to set --

A: They never did.

Q: -- the record straight, the Defense Department doesn't know whether they did or they didn't; but the Scud definitely had the capability to carry chemical weapons.

A: Well, no, I think we know that they did not, they did not fire any chemical weapons. I mean, if you look at the Gulf War report that was done after the Gulf War, and I've seen nothing that changes this, all the evidence we have is that the Iraqis never fired any kind of chemical munitions against coalition forces during the course of the Gulf War.

Q: .... fired, but did have the capability.

A: They did have the capability. Did not use them. Did not use them.

Let's go to -- yeah.

Q: I'm a little curious about the fact that we didn't know that the chemical weapons were either -- in either one of those depots that we blew up. I would assume that EOD people, before they blow up munitions, do an inventory of what they're facing, and it's strange to me that veteran EOD people don't know the difference between chemical weapons and conventional, since they're usually clearly marked.

A: These were not, number one. Have you gotten into this very closely? Because we've been over this before. But if you look at this one, the munitions that we're talking about here were not marked in the normal way that you would associate. There were some of these weapons that had very crude markings on them. But it was not evident that these munitions were chemical weapons.

Now, when the coalition forces went in there after the Gulf War, they encountered not only one but some number of these munition-storage areas. Some of them are very large areas. This one happens to be a very large area. We're not talking here something that is the size of North Parking. We're talking one that was probably 25 square kilometers; had more than a hundred bunkers. And so, this is a large, large area.

The order was to destroy the munitions. And my impression of how that was done, talking -- hearing third-hand from some of the people who were actually involved -- was that there was not a very careful inventory taken of each piece of ammunition that was destroyed, as it was being destroyed. It was -- it required a rather major effort, over a period of time, to do what they wanted to accomplish, which was essentially to get rid of all this ammunition, and other military material, in as quick a way as they possibly could.

Now most of the units -- the unit commanders, being very conservative, had told their units that they should be cautious about the possibility that there might be some chemical weapons. But at the time that the U.S. forces went into Kamisiyah, I think the general belief amongst -- on the U.S. side at least was that Kamisiyah had been a conventional storage site, not a chemical storage site.

And in fact, after the Gulf War, this was somewhat borne out by information that was received from the UNSCOM visits, which occurred in 1991, 1992 and 1996, where they talked to the Iraqis; and the Iraqis, over a period of time, became clear that they had actually moved some chemical munitions to Bunker 73, either just before the air war or during the air war; and that, subsequently, they moved some of the chemical munitions around the area of Kamisiyah, because they determined that some of them were leaking. We're talking here the total number is something in excess of 2,100 shells.

Yeah?

Q: Can you tell us, at this point, how many Gulf War veterans are on the registry? How many of those are complaining of actual symptoms of some illness? And, of those people complaining of illnesses, do we have any idea how many of them are among these 5,000 people that were notified?

A: I am not sure that I have that with me.

Q: Could you take that question?

A: We can certainly take the question.

Yeah?

Q: Twenty-one hundred shells moved during the air war --

A: No, no.

Q: -- or 2,100 moved to the open pit?

A: Some 2,160. They were -- they were 122 millimeter GB and GF rockets. They were moved to Bunker 73 from an area called Al-Muthanna -- M-U-T-H-A-N-N-A. And they say just prior to the air war there's some question they're -- that that is totally accurate. But let's leave it there for now.

John?

Q: Could I follow up on the fact that there were no indications that these were chemical munitions? I mean, the 37th -- the two destruction episodes. The first destruction was at the 30 bunkers, 35 bunkers. That's on March the 6th, whatever. And when those cooked off, presumably the detectors that they had must have gone haywire over the --

A: Well, now, wait a minute. We're talking March 4th, and my -- March 10th here.

Q: March 10th. Okay. But I'm talking March 4 here, the first one. Those rockets destroyed in Bunker 73 on March 4 did contain sarin. Or G --

A: Some number of them did. Yes.

Q: So presumably the detectors that this unit had would have gone off at that time, yet they came back on March 10 and cooked off --

A: The 10th was a different area.

Q: But -- but -- but --

A: The 10th is a different part of the complex. The 10th is a pit area.

Q: The 10th is a pit, but there were 123 millimeter rockets in the pit, exactly like the rockets in Bunker 73. I mean, the Iraqis had moved some of those rockets from Bunker 73 to the pit. Yet on the second occasion they cooked off -- the 77th cooked off these missiles in the pit.

A: Okay. The one thing that I would just like to point out is there is some question as to the total number that were actually destroyed by U.S. forces as they were trying to destroy them.

Destroying one of these munitions is not an easy thing to do. You've got to break through essentially an iron casing. And in order to do that you have to have quite a bit of explosive that is put to the task of destroying the shell. And I don't think we have a firm handle yet on the total number of actual munitions that were actually destroyed. In fact, we have some indication from the UNSCOM visits which followed this that the destruction had not been complete and that there were a large number of shells which may have been damaged but were not actually destroyed in the process.

Q: In the pit area? In the pit area?

Q: But -- but --

A: Excuse me. In both the pit and in Bunker 73.

Q: Yeah. But Mike, that's interesting, but it wasn't my question. I mean, presumably the only way in which sarin would not have been released in the March 4th explosion is if the engineers contrived not to blow up a single missile, single rocket which they say --

A: But your question -- your question is --

Q: [Inaudible]

A: Your question is, were there some indicators at the time that there was --

Q: March 4th, that [inaudible] had been released and that, therefore, these 120-millimeter rockets were filled with chemicals... . A: And I can't give you a definitive answer. I think that there are veterans who believe that yes, indeed, there were indicators at the time. Now --

Q: And what happened March 10th?

Q: Did the information ever get passed?

A: Passed from what?

Q: From the first demolition --

Q: It was the same unit. It was the same unit.

A: The same unit. They were both from the engineers.

Q: Why did they go back March 10th -- why did they go back March 10 and destroy these things in an open pit, for heaven's sakes? I mean, there are eyewitness accounts of some of these missiles in the open pit cooking off and actually traveling several kilometers.

A: Well, again, I can't tell you what their motives were, other than the fact that they believed that a lot of this was conventional weapons.

Q: Mike, at the hearing last week, one of the people who was there presented photographs in which he said showed these rockets with yellow markings that indicated they were chemical weapons. You said earlier they weren't marked as chemical weapons.

A: You know, we may need to take that question because I'm not sure that those yellow markings are an indicator of chemical weapons. It may be that they were just on some of their munitions.

Q: If could you please clarify what you believe those yellow markings were and what they indicated that would be helpful.

A: Yes. We'll see if we have any good insight into that at this point.

Q: Add that to the list, who's ever making the list of taken questions.

Q: You identified 150 Americans, engineers, being closest to this demolition exercise, I think on the 4th, anyway. Presumably about the same number on the 7th.

A: No, no, no.

Q: I know it goes up to 1,100.

A: The numbers of people who were what, involved?

Q: Actual engineers doing demolition.

A: Oh, it's a much smaller number. When we briefed --

Q: A hundred and fifty --

A: No, no, no. When we briefed the thing about the pit area, the total number of individuals -- we said we'd contacted and we were in the process of contacting, you know, we've got four people that we're talking to for the destruction on the 10th, four people that we've actually located -- three of them, talked to three of them. We're in the process of trying to reach the fourth one. And some indications from those four that there were other individuals who they had seen in the area at the time who may have also done some destructions. So the total numbers on the 10th were much smaller than on the 4th.

Q: So what was it on the 4th? I think your original briefing was 150 in the immediate area.

A: That's my recollection, yes.

Q: How many of that 150 are ill, have you contacted? Friday, Ken said you've contacted 429. How many --

A: I can't give you a run-down on that, Pat. We'd be glad to take your question and see if we can come up with an answer, but I can't do that off the top of my head because I just don't know.

Q: Forty-three, we found out from the engineers, were already on the Pentagon list for Gulf illnesses, had multiple symptoms. Have you concluded that sarin exposure was related to their illness?

A: No, I don't believe that we've concluded that at all. I think that that we don't know, we don't know. And I think that that's one of the key things that I would like to point out in this thing. There are a lot of unanswered questions. We're working real hard to get to a bottom line on this thing but we have still a lot of unanswered questions and we don't know the answers to a lot of questions.

Q: Apparently, the presidential advisory committee criticized Dr. Joseph and Dr. Konensberg for having only one investigator checking on units involved at Khamisiyah -- one investigator. Is that accurate?

A: As far as I know, there are a lot of people over there at the investigation team doing -- I don't have any insights that there's just one investigator that's doing.

Q: -- and they didn't respond to it at the hearing. Would you check that and see if that's correct?

A: We'd be glad to.

Okay, yeah?

Q: New topic, is that all right?

A: Okay.

Q: President Boris Yeltsin is too sick for surgery at least at the present time.

A: Can I just stop you right now. [Laughter] I don't know the first thing about the health of Boris Yeltsin and it's really not a subject that I ought to be discussing from the podium of the Pentagon.

Q: Well, let me ask -- but let me ask -- that's the preface and the basic issue definitely concerns our military. Does the U.S. share the stated view of the president of the Ukraine Mr. Kuchma and Mr. Brazawskas of Lithuania stated today that their concern about the stability of Russia in view of President Boris Yeltsin's health, Mike.

And, secondly, there's a controversy. The communists are saying that the election this summer was a farce because this information was suppressed about his health. Do we have a point of -- any particular point of view.

A: Not from the Pentagon but I would refer you to the State Department for that.

Yeah?

Q: New topic?

A: Yeah.

Q: Regarding these seven Spanish language training manuals that were used at the U.S. Army School of the America's -- apparently they were also used by some mobile training teams of the U.S. Southern Command. I was wondering if you could briefly explain to me how did this work. Was this sort of a, quote, unquote, 'schools on wheels' that would go around Latin America training these military officers?

A: Well, in very general terms, first of all I'm sorry to say I can't answer your specific question because I just don't have insight. Keep in mind, however, that this whole business regarding the training manuals regards a time frame about five years ago. It was a previous administration that uncovered the fact that there was some objectionable language in a small number of training manuals which had been written by the School of the Americas and was actually being used in the course of the instruction. We're talking here a couple of dozen of phrases, sentences, paragraphs that apply to what they actually had written, and it was quite a large number of pages that were actually involved.

Now, the manuals themselves were used in the course of this instruction. As far as I know, there is no indication at this point that we actually taught this kind of information or that any teaching was being done using this particular objectionable language. But there is every indication that this was part of these training manuals. Someone discovered that, they took action to launch an investigation, to find all the objectionable passages, to take the manuals out of print, and they did that some years ago.

What happened new as of this week was the Pentagon, after a review by the Intelligence Oversight Board, we actually released what the passages had said. So, this is ancient history.

Now in the meantime, the School of the Americas has marched on. And they have done the good work that they do in training officers who come from Latin America. They have a very unique mission, which I think is appreciated by most of the Latin American countries and does a lot of good in training individuals in such important areas as counter-drug activities, humanitarian operations, and other things that we in the United States feel are an important part of the training of any kind of a military unit. And I think most of the South American navy -- South American militaries who are involved in this training appreciate the fact that this is a unique training capability, and they take advantage of it.

Now, your specifics on this thing, I would refer you to Lieutenant Colonel Arne Owens back in DDI. He may be able to provide some additional insights for you.

Q: Can I ask a follow-up? What did the Pentagon do to determine that there was no indication that any of the things -- any of these objectionable words in the manuals, and previously in instruction material, was not taught -- actually taught at the school?

A: Well, as I say, there was an investigation that was done at the time. And I can't give you a list of exactly who they talked to and how many individuals they talked to. But there was a very thorough investigation because it was a serious matter. This was a serious violation of the policies that were in place in the United States at the time. And it was certainly contrary to any of those policies to have those kinds of objectionable passages as part of any kind of an instruction manual.

Q: But it's still not clear from the report of the investigation that you've released, how this objectionable material remained in place for nine years without anyone seeing it or complaining about it. How was it that it did --

A: I think that -- my guess is that there was not a close enough reading of the Spanish-language versions of those manuals by individuals who were aware of what the policy was, and who were in a position to take action on it. But as soon as it became aware, they did take action on it.

Q: You -- sir, you call it ancient history. But it's evident that --

A: Oh, I am not sure that I would call it ancient history. I would call it --

Q: [Off mike]

A: -- it was historical.

Q: Okay. But there is -- you're saying that there is no evidence that these things were taught. But evidently, if they were part of the manuals, and these people came to school and read those manuals --

A: What I am saying is it was not part of the curriculum.

Q: I'm not sure I follow ?

Q: But the manuals were manuals for the curriculum. They went...

A: Yes. And what I'm saying is that the investigation, so far as I know at this point, did not indicate at the time that they were -- that it was being taught.

 

A: Yeah? You've got one more on that one?

Q: You said an investigation was conducted on this. Was anyone held accountable? And could you trace us back to who wrote it? Was anyone held responsible?

A: I cannot answer that question. It may be that we can get that information for you. But I can't answer your question on that.

Q: Would this have been a violation of UCMJ or civil law?

A: I am not sure that it would have been in violation of UCMJ, but it certainly was a case where there needed to be oversight -- management oversight of the educational materials that were in use at the time. And it certainly shows that there was a period of time where there was not sufficient management oversight.

Yeah.

Q: With the new military activities on the Lebanese-Syria- Israeli border and the shift of Syrian forces to the Golan Heights and some new tensions by statements from both sides, can you comment on the situation? Could it deteriorate to a conflict between Syria and Israel?

A: I can't give you any predictions on that one today.

Q: If there's any movement -- unusual movement of military forces on both sides? Like on the --

A: I -- I don't --

Q: -- the one reported on the Syrian border?

A: I don't have any insights into that one, I'm sorry.

Yeah, Jamie.

Q: Can you tell us what effect this critical GAO report will have on the Pentagon's decision about whether or not to order 19 more JOINT STARS surveillance aircraft?

A: Oh, Joint Stars. Let me see if I've got anything.

First of all, I think the bottom line on JOINT STARS is that no decision has been made yet on milestone three production. That's the bottom line: no decision made. But the one thing I would like to point out is that Joint Stars has a unique record. This is an aircraft that although still under development, two of these aircraft were deployed to participate in Desert Storm. They flew 49 combat missions -- combat sorties. They accumulated more than 500 combat hours and 100 percent mission effectiveness rate. During Joint Endeavor, Joint Stars air crews flew 100 percent of their task missions with a 98 percent mission effectiveness. So I think you got a very unique aircraft here.

Q: But what does that mean in English? I mean, this GAO report seemed to indicate that the plane was not performing --

A: Well, I think what you've got with a GAO report is an interpretation of some data that they read into some reports that they had seen. They did not read these -- these were not conclusions that had been made by the Air Force technicians that had been looking at it or by the training and evaluation people. So -- but the bottom line, again, Jamie, is no decision has been made yet.

Q: But when will that decision be made --

A: I think one will be made soon. I can't give you an exact date, but I think soon.

Q: Can you --

A: Yeah.

Q: This is a different subject. If you want to follow up, go ahead.

Q: Well, I have one, too. But go ahead.

Q: Hold on just for a second. On Iraq, a status report on Saddam Hussein's -- again whether he's complying with the demarche, or --

A: In general -- in general the answer is that there's no change, that indeed we see compliance.

Q: Why was that so hard to say? [Laughter]

A: I didn't have my book open to the right page. [Laughter]

Q: Can you tell us whether this missing former Navy officer is believed to have compromised any national security secrets or something?

A: Jamie, on this subject I would refer you to the Navy. From our perspective here his service in the Navy was honorable. He has an honorable discharge. And I know of nothing that would contradict that from anything that we know.

Yeah.

Q: Can you confirm a report there will be a closed hearing on U.S. bases in Okinawa the day after tomorrow in the Asia- Pacific subcommittee?

A: I can't because I simply don't know. I just -- it's just -- I'm just not aware enough of the hearing schedule. I'm aware of two hearings -- open -- tomorrow that are going on, but I'm not aware of that one.

Q: The day after tomorrow according to Japanese wire reports. Is the Assistant Campbell --

A: Who -- who is he?

Q: Deputy Assistant Campbell, Kurt Campbell?

A: Campbell?

Q: Kurt Campbell.

A: I just -- at this point I just don't have a good idea for you if he's going to be involved.

Yes.

Q: The CNO was forced to resign from the insurance company board some time ago. Deputy Secretary White --

A: Well, now, he took that action on his own early on. I mean, it -- you know --

Q: Under pressure from the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Secretary White was going to look at the remaining two. One is General Gorden, the public affairs for the Army. He's getting 33 grand a year. And there's a woman, two-star in the Air Force, that's also on this board. The Air Force doesn't let her take a nickel. What did Secretary White decide about this issue?

A: We have that. I don't have it with me, but we can provide it to you. I just don't have it with me, so I --

Q: You don't know what it was, or --

A: I don't have a specific lay-down. I think -- I think that I have seen this paper, but I just can't cite it back to you right now off the top of my head.

Q: You're going to let us know.

A: We can provide you a copy of it, I believe. Yeah.

Have you got any -- is that it? Thanks.

Press: Thank you.