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DoD News Briefing, September 26, 1996

Presenters: CAPT Michael Doubleday, USN, DASD (PA)
September 27, 1996 2:00 PM EDT

Thursday, September 26, 1996 - 2 p.m.

I just have one greeting to make, and then we can start, to welcome a broadcast journalist from the Philippines. He's Mr. David Santa Ana, the news manager and desk editor of GMA-7 News. He's here with the U.S. under the auspices of USIA's International Visitors Program. And we welcome you, sir.

Okay. Any questions? Yes, Bill.

Q: Yes. Why is it necessary in the eyes of the DOD that the United States should participate in the follow-on force, if indeed there is to be a follow-on force, in Bosnia? Why can't the Germans and Mr. Portillo and the British handle that duty themselves?

A: Bill, I think what I should ensure everybody knows is that Dr. Perry talked about this today. There is, as you know, a meeting which has been going on in Bergen, Norway. And Dr. Perry today said the United States is not prepared to make a commitment at this time, but we are prepared to consider participating if the NATO study shows that our involvement is necessary and appropriate.

Q: Why can't we just say no?

A: Well, because we're a part of NATO, Bill. (Laughter.) And this is a study that is being undertaken by NATO.

Q: Captain --

A: Do you understand what the process here is?

Q: I think so, Mike. And Mr. Portillo has said that if NATO goes, the United States must go. Is that the case, as far as this kind of peacekeeping thing is concerned, must we go by law?

A: Well, we're a part of NATO. And I think what everybody here is attempting to do is to ensure that the process, which has been worked out by NATO, actually unfolds as it has been determined. NATO military planners are now looking at various parameters, which their political and defense leaders have given them. And they will be coming forward with some options for consideration by those political leaders; those political leaders, that will then go back to their governments to made individual determinations on what, if any, participation is appropriate.

Q: And how do you define "appropriate"?

A: Well, I think that will be part of the process.

Yes, Susanne?

Q: A different subject?

A: Anybody else on that one?

Q: It's on Bosnia. Just to -- can you update us on when the covering force will deploy? Will it still be around October 1st?

A: I don't have a time frame, other than to say it's -- according to the testimony yesterday, they anticipate that the covering force will be deploying soon. And we don't have, as I say, a time frame. But this is something that General Joulwan has talked about in the past. It is part of the equation that enables IFOR to redeploy in an orderly way, at the end of the mission, on the 20th of December.

Q: Well, is the date for the deployment slipping because General Joulwan is saying he needs a -- the full IFOR presence to remain in Bosnia through municipal elections, assuming they are held in November?

A: Go over that one more time.

Q: Joulwan, I believe, said that, assuming the municipal elections are held in November, he doesn't want to draw down the forces quickly until after the municipal elections. Is that making the covering force timetable slip?

A: Oh, no. I don't think it's a matter of slippage. It's just a matter of working out some of the details before the deployment order actually is issued.

Yeah, Jamie.

Q: Also on Bosnia, can you update us on what the estimated cost of the mission, of the U.S. participation in IFOR is?

A: Well, the only thing I can tell you is that yesterday there was testimony given on the Hill by Dr. White. And the current cost is $3.275.8 billion. Now, these are estimated costs, and that includes not only the IFOR mission but all of the other activities that are going on in Bosnia that fall under the Department's budget plus additional Army-IFOR costs.

Q: Isn't that significantly higher than the original estimate, and what accounts for the higher --

A: Well, it is significantly higher. The initial estimates were, of course, estimates like this is. And I think that in the testimony yesterday there was a good indication that part of the increase in cost was as a result of the fact that we believed after we got there that additional intelligence support and communications support were required. And once they actually got the troops on the ground they believed that there was a requirement for additional quality of life upgrades.

Q: Clarification? This is -- is this just IFOR one-year cost, or how -- what's the time line?

A: This is at the end of this calendar year, the end of this calendar year.

Q: So from January 1 to January 1 that's your estimate.

A: Well, it's -- actually it ends at the end of December, yes.

Q: Okay.

A: Yeah. The other part of the increase in cost has to do with the reconfiguration of IFOR. You know, we brought in those police units to replace some of the heavy armor. And that also increased the cost.

Q: Well, was an additional factor the fact that under the original plan there was going to be a gradual drawdown of the force and it turns out that now most of the force has stayed the whole time?

A: I don't -- I have never seen anything that indicates that that was a cause. But frankly, I think that there is still a lot of information that needs to be assembled on this from the services to get a very good -- a good figure for you. And the best one I have is the one that Dr. White used yesterday.

Q: And just one last thing on this. Does this mean there will have to be another supplemental budget request to Congress for this money?

A: Don't know at this point. I don't know exactly how it's going to be handled.

Yes?

Q: Do you know if, during his recent trip to Ankara, Secretary of Defense Dr. William Perry delivered to the Turkish government any message on behalf of President Clinton asking the Turks not to attack Cyprus, actually in three fronts, before a week ago, something that has never happened? The whole story was created, actually, by the Athens News Agency, the official news agency of the Simitis government.

A: I don't know the answer to that question.

Q: I would like to know if William Perry during his last trip to Ankara delivered any message on behalf of President Clinton asking the Turks not to attack Cyprus a week ago. The story was created by the Athens News Agency.

A: Yes. I don't know the contents of the discussions there. We can try and find out some information for you if you would like us to take the question.

Q: On the same subject, I would like to know if, during this artificial crisis, the Greek Ambassador Loukas Tsilas, including anyone from the Greek Embassy, expressed to the Pentagon officials fears and concerns on behalf of the Simitis government.

A: I don't know the answer to your question.

Q: Can you take this question too, sir?

A: We'll see if we can find out if there have been any communications, yes.

Q: Why can't that IDA report on drug interdiction be released? And are you waiting till after November 5th to release it? If it's unclassified, can it not be available?

A: Well, actually, this is a draft. And I think everybody has a full appreciation that there are a lot of pieces of paper rolling around the Pentagon that are drafts. And we don't release drafts. Now, in this particular case what happened was that we asked for IDA to conduct a study, and they provided a report to, I think, a fairly significant and widespread audience on the contents of this draft report. In the process of doing that and also circulating the report, it was reviewed by a number of people who had comments on it. And so IDA is now taking those comments, some of which question some aspects of the report, and they're taking a look at the comments and factoring those in to the final version of the report, which will be released. But the whole issue here has to do with the drug-interdiction program and all aspects of how the program is proceeding. And it's an issue that has received a lot of attention in this administration and in the previous administration. And we're just trying to take advantage of the best information we can get on this subject.

Q: And how is it proceeding?

A: How is -- what?

Q: From the DOD's point of view, how is the anti-drug --

A: Well, it's a very widespread program. But I think that the bottom line to the whole thing is, as has been expressed by General McCaffrey recently, the drug problem has to be addressed across a broad spectrum, ranging from educational programs for children, to treatment, to source-nation activities, to interdiction, to law enforcement. And this is just one aspect of it that was being looked at in that report.

Q: Well, how do you respond to the charge that you're deliberately sitting on this report because it comes to conclusions --

A: Who is making the charges?

Q: Well, I believe a member of Congress --

A: I believe that the member of Congress, or at least members of Congress, have the report. So I am not sure that necessarily is correct. But rather than to dispute that, all I can say is that we don't, as a normal course of action, release unfinished products. And that's what this is.

Q: So I just want to be clear that you're denying that, in any way, this report was not released because its contents seem to criticize the Clinton administration policy?

A: I am saying that this is a work in progress. It's not been completed. And once it's completed, it'll be released.

Q: And do you guess that completion date will be after November 5th --

A: I have no idea what the -- [laughs] -- I have no idea what the completion date will be.

Q: Captain?

A: Sure.

Q: Captain?

A: Yeah?

Q: The preliminary findings from the study at Duke University show that pyridostigmine bromide, when combined with sarin -- when combined with certain insecticides, may have a harmful effect. What is the Pentagon's reaction to those findings?

A: Well, first of all, I am not personally aware of those findings. I am aware that this is a drug that has received a lot of testing and continues to receive a lot of testing. I am aware that it's a drug which was administered to troops during the Gulf War, and was done so with the approval, on a test basis, of the FDA; and that we believed, at the time, and still do, that it had -- and can have -- a very beneficial effect on those who may be exposed to chemical weapons.

Q: There have been other studies --

A: Yes, that's correct.

Q: -- some of them conducted by the Pentagon, or funded by the Pentagon, which show that there are potential long-term harmful effects of the drug. What about those studies?

A: Well, first of all, keep in mind this is a drug which has been administered to individuals who are suffering from certain diseases for many, many years. As I understand, it was first approved by the FDA back as far as 1945. It is a drug which is given on a routine basis for individuals suffering from very specific illnesses in dosages about six times more potent than our Gulf war soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines received the drug.

Q: It was approved for use only in myasthenia gravis by a very small population, a very specific --

A: Well, except for the troops during the Gulf war.

Q: And it was -- it received a waiver from the FDA for use as an investigational drug.

A: Right.

Q: It was something that some have said is a violation -- Senator Rockefeller, for example. He says it's a violation of the Nuremberg Code. How would you respond to him?

A: Well, I'm not going to comment on that particular aspect of it except to say that in retrospect I believe that the Department feels that there should have been a better educational program at the time, 1991-1990 time frame, of individuals who were being administered the drug, primarily based on the fact that a lot of the side effects of the drug, had they been known to the individuals who had been administered the drug, would have been less concerned.

Q: According to the FDA there were certain requirements that the military was supposed to have carried out when they administered the drug to American forces in the Persian Gulf war. They were supposed to be monitored. The troops were told to -- were supposed to have been informed that this was an investigational drug, in other words, experimental. All of the troops we have talked to tell us that they were not informed. They were never monitored, they were never asked how they were feeling. They were never told that it was an investigational drug. Why was that done?

A: Well, first of all I will agree with you that as far as we know here, indeed, they were not told.

Q: Should they have been told?

A: And -- but the question of whether they should have been told or not, at least by the perspective of the administration, of the present administration is that it would have been a much better situation had they been.

Q: But they -- under the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration --

A: I believe there was a conscious decision made at the time not to tell the troops. And the reason that that was done was because there was enormous concern at the time of raising any specter and any concern on an intelligence level with the Iraqis that we were prepared to defend against certain kinds of chemical weapons, so that there was reason behind the decision. But in retrospect, in retrospect, had circumstances been otherwise, we probably would have proceeded differently.

Q: So what do you say to a veteran of the Gulf War who was at Kamisiyah, who believes he or she was exposed to sarin, who took the pill and is now looking at preliminary findings that says 'if you took the pill and you were exposed to sarin and/or insecticides, you may have harmful long-term effects?' And these people are suffering today. What do you say to them?

A: Well, I would say first of all I would not jump to any conclusions on this thing. The levels of dosage that are frequently given in these kinds of tests are not six times greater than would have been administered during the Gulf War, but in some cases several million times the levels that would have been administered. So I'm not sure that we have created here a real live situation. It's certainly a study that is worth looking at, but it is not necessarily a study that we can draw firm conclusions from at this point.

Q Was this in fact an experiment?

A: Well, Mr. Bradley, I think at this point I should tell you I am not an expert on this subject, and I think what you need to be doing is talking to an expert who --

Q: Let me ask you, then, who is the Pentagon expert I should talk to? Because everyone I have asked to speak with, I've been turned down.

A: Well, we will find --

Q: Who should I talk to?

A: We will find the individual who you should be talking to and see if we can arrange for that to occur.

Q: Can we get that done today or tomorrow?

A: I don't know that we can get it done today, but we'll certainly try to get it done for you sometime in a reasonable time frame.

Yes?

Q: How many people received this?

A: Well, the estimates I've seen are over 250,000.

Q: Two hundred fifty thousand?

A: Two hundred and fifty thousand. And by the way, there are other studies done which indicate that -- of fairly significant size sample -- that indicate that there were no adverse side effects and long-term effects based on that drug being administered during the Gulf War.

Q: Does anybody know if the people who are now being notified for possible exposure received this?

A: I think the expectation is that the vast majority of them did.

Okay, wait just one minute. Let's get -- Jamie?

Q: I wanted to ask you about, on this same subject, sort of -- reading Dr. White's letter yesterday to Congress, and noting that this action team that he's put together now reports directly to him, raises the question of what is Dr. Joseph's status? Has he in any way been removed from handling the Gulf War illness investigation?

A: I'm glad you raised that, because there's a story in one of the papers this morning that is way off the mark. And let me just set the record straight.

Dr. Joseph has played a key role in the Department's efforts to investigate this matter. In no way is his role in the future diminished. Dr. White has the full and utmost confidence in Dr. Joseph. In fact, the clinical care and medical investigations and research efforts for which Dr. Joseph has been responsible has been by far the most effective part of the Department's Persian Gulf investigation program to date.

Dr. White, as the number two official in the Department, is the person to whom all other officials in the Department report on this issue. Dr. Joseph has reported to the deputy secretary, Dr. White, on a continuing basis on this and other health care- related matters. Dr. Joseph is the Department's senior health official. He serves as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. He continues in that role. And as part of his responsibilities in this senior position he will continue to perform the same role he has played for the last two years in leading the Department's health efforts with respect to Persian Gulf illnesses.

Q: Well, then, why does this new action team report directly to Dr. White and not Dr. Joseph?

A: Well, I think Dr. White, as I mentioned just a minute ago, he is the person in the Department to whom all of the senior officials report. And the actions he took yesterday were an effort to refocus the direction of the Department, to refocus the efforts of the Department, and to bring to bear any additional resources, management skills, management reviews, and the inputs that others could provide. You notice that there were a list of activities, some of which, by the way, increased the amount of money that we were going to spend on research in this effort.

There were a number of individuals whose names had not previously been seen. And I think Dr. White was interested in -- as I say -- ensuring that no stone is unturned, as the president has directed, in his effort to get to the bottom of what is causing the illnesses that are afflicting our Gulf War veterans.

Let's do -- yes?

Q: Is -- just so I am clear -- is it the Pentagon's position that this drug, pyridostigmine bromide, was and is safe?

A: Yes, it is the Pentagon's position that the drug was, and is now, safe. And it is -- and even more so, is effective in use against the very weapons that we were very, very concerned about during the Gulf War.

Q: And is the Pentagon revisiting -- looking again at some of those studies that have been done in the past that show there could be harmful effects with the drug?

A: Well, if you had been here on Tuesday, you would have seen that we are in the midst of a review of every aspect of the Gulf War, where it has to do with illnesses and exposures that individuals may have been -- may have undergone during the course of their duties. There are a lot of unanswered questions. It is going to require an enormous effort to get answers to some of the questions because not only do we have documents that we have to go through, but we also have a large number of individuals that have to be interviewed to determine exactly what happened and the degree to which it happened.

Q: Just as a follow-up, are you contacting people who took the pill?

A: Oh, yes. Well, on what? On the --

Q: Or are you contacting --

A: -- Pyridostigmine bromide?

Q: I am sorry?

A: On the --

Q: -- Pyridostigmine bromide. Are you contacting --

A: I am not aware of any effort to contact those individuals. The individuals we are contacting are individuals who are -- who were potentially exposed to chemical weapons, low- level or any other kind, during the course of the Gulf War.

Q: So if the United States faced today another situation in the Persian Gulf where it was necessary to deploy forces -- and if there was a war -- would we use the pill again?

A: I can't -- cannot predict exactly what we'd do; because, in order to do that, you have to know exactly what kind of threat you face and what kind of chemical weapons you were faced with, and whatever is the most effective kind of prophylactic treatment that is available at the time. And I, again, am not enough of a scientist to know what that might be.

Q: But the decision at that time to use pyridostigmine bromide was the right --

A: It was done because it was an effective prophylactic treatment for what was seen at the time as an enormous potential that we had to deal with.

Yes, Pat?

Q: Dr. Joseph's testimony seems to be slightly at odds with Dr. White's letter to Strom Thurmond. He thought it was plausible now that some troops were exposed to --

A: Who is this?

Q: Dr. Joseph. Dr. White was saying we don't know. Is it still your view, or is it Dr. Joseph's view, that no American troops suffered acute symptoms of sarin poisoning?

A: Well, that was part of his testimony yesterday. The written testimony was that, at this point, we know of no troops who suffered acute symptoms at the time.

Q: You have no evidence of that?

A: Well -- and the evidence that we have are the logs, medical logs, treatment logs, those kinds of things. There is a requirement, a requirement, that when an individual suffers these kinds of symptoms, acute symptoms, there is a report that's supposed to be filed. Well, as I -- you know, I don't want to be overly definitive about this because I'm not sure where in the 200,000, 300,000, 400,000 pages that have to be reviewed what might be in there. But as far as I know, there have been no reports of any acute symptoms being exhibited by Gulf War participants as a result of any of those chemical or munitions destruction activities that took place in Kamisiyah or at any of those other locations.

Q: Acute symptoms include runny noses --

A: Oh, yes. But --

Q: -- and labored breathing --

A: But it's not runny noses in and of itself, it's runny noses in amongst with --

Q: With the exposure.

A: Yes, the -- well, not only exposure, but other kinds of symptoms.

Q: So specifically, what are the acute symptoms, as you see them?

A: Runny noses, blurred vision, frontal headache, difficulty in breathing -- those kind of things.

Q: You've met no one who has those symptoms?

A: No. What I'm saying is that there is no medical log that shows that individuals reported at the time with those symptoms, nor was there a report filed saying that an individual had reported those symptoms.

Q: So those soldiers, men and women, who say they had those symptoms, still have those symptoms, and reported them, they're lying?

A: No. I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is that this is an indication of the complexity of this investigation. There need to be a lot of interviews done with individuals who were there at the time to see if the medical logs, the reports are a true reflection of what actually occurred.

Q: So it may be in the medical logs. You just haven't seen those medical logs yet.

A: Yes. And they have been reviewed. And we've talked to the medical types who were in the area to whom individuals should have reported.

Q: If you find a soldier who said indeed he suffered those acute symptoms but it's not in the logs, who do you believe? Is that -- is that a qualified case?

A: I think given the very conservative approach that we're taking at this point. We certainly want to take some action on that.

Yes.

Q: Those are symptoms that you would expect within a short period of time after exposure. You're not talking about people that a year later said --

A: Oh, yes.

All right. Yeah.

Q: You talked about the fact that the previous administration during the war was not candid with soldiers about --

A: No, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that they made a decision based on not only the threat but the intelligence issue that they had at the time. And --

Q: [Inaudible] -- that soldiers were not fully informed. I believe you said that.

A: Well, they weren't.

Q: Okay. My question --

A: I mean, it's not -- not fully informed, they were not informed.

Q: All right. My question is the policy of this administration. Does this administration now fully reject that as any option --

A: Well, I don't think I want to at this point make a pronouncement on that because I don't know the circumstances. I think you'd have to be confronted with an actual situation before you could make a decision on that.

Q: So therefore that is maintained as a policy option in this administration to give --

A: Well, I don't want you to say it's a policy option. I'm just saying that from here, speaking from the podium here, I'm saying that you want to leave your options open and not close anything out because you don't know what the threat is. You also don't know what your -- the capabilities of the potential enemy are.

Yeah? Do we have more on this one? Yeah?

 

Q: Is this group of 250,000 troops who were administered this drug -- has that group been studied as --

A: It has been studied, and I don't have much detail on that. But it certainly is a group that -- a significant portion of -- has been studied. And there has not been -- let me just see if I can get you the exact words.

"In a large study, fewer than one-tenth of one percent of the soldiers had symptoms serious enough to discontinue the drug." They -- and the kinds of symptoms are: "headaches, urinary urgency, loose stool, abdominal cramps, and nausea" -- those kinds of things.

Q: And that's -- that's based on what sort of a time frame? That's at the time of the Gulf War, or is that last year?

A: I can't tell you. I don't have that level of detail. We can try and find out, though. Jim Turner will be able to get it for you.

Yeah? Anybody -- any more on this one?

Q: Where is the model -- from --

A: The model is at CIA. We put out a press advisory on Wednesday morning, which contradicted or clarified what I had said on Tuesday. I thought we had the model in hand. In fact, we had some expectations that we would have the model. We don't have the model. The CIA is still refining it. And as soon as we get it, we'll be able to take some action. But I don't have a time frame for you on when that model might be in hand.

Yeah?

Q: Just as a starter --

A: Any more on this one? Excuse me?

Q: Just as a starter, does that model say how much gas was released? I know you have to -- [Inaudible] -- after that.

A: No. But I think it's a function of how many munitions could potentially have been destroyed. I think that's the way they're going to construct the model. And then, of course, it's got all the environmental data in it, too.

Yeah?

Q: Just one more study question. Is it accurate to say that there are currently no follow-up studies being done to look at long- term effects on the veterans who were potentially exposed, possibly exposed, to sarin, and who did take PB at the time? Is there any study that that --

A: Say that one more time because --

Q: Is there any --

A: Let me just say, preliminarily, and then you can restate it. There are a large number of studies going on now, and a large number of them are health-related studies.

The piece of paper that -- or the letter that Dr. White released yesterday included a -- one of the actions was -- a $5 million increase in studying just low-level exposures. But in addition to that, there was the requirement -- which went to Dr. Joseph -- to go back and look at other potential studies, which might benefit from additional resources, which is a shorthand way of saying, "If you find any more studies that would help in this regard, we ought to figure out a way to fund them."

Q: But to your knowledge, are there any studies that are currently going on or planned to look at the --

A: For pyridostigmine bromides?

Q: Yes -- (off mike) --

A: I am not, but I think we should take the question to find out specifically. Let us do that. We'll take the question. Yeah.

Q: Okay. And specifically for that group that was potentially or possibly exposed to sarin, in your words -- meaning the group at Kamisiyah --

A: Oh, the group at Kamisiyah. Okay.

Q: Yeah. Or groups like --

A: Yes, well, I'm not aware of any specific one on that.

Any more on this issue, which is Gulf War illness? Yes?

Q: Yes. Could you just go back over that one-tenth of one percent again? Tell me what that was.

A: What it is -- this piece of paper I have says that pyridostigmine bromide was used by over 25,000 service members during DESERT STORM.

[Cross talk]

Excuse me -- 250,000. The most common complaints were the normal side effects associated with the use of PB, and the same ones seen in the patients who take the drug in dosages about six times greater. These include some gastrointestinal problems -- loose stool, abdominal cramps, nausea, and that sort of thing. Additionally, headaches and urinary urgency were reported. In a large study, fewer than one-tenth of one percent of soldiers had symptoms serious enough to discontinue the drug.

Q: Those were soldiers who were in the Gulf who took the stuff.

A: My understanding is yes, those were soldiers who had taken the drug in the Gulf. But let's check with Jim Turner on that, if you would, please.

Q: There's no current study looking at the long-term effects?

A: I'm not aware of a -- but we've taken that question, so let's go on.

Q: Are the troops deployed in the Gulf now -- do they have supplies of this drug available? Is the Pentagon putting that drug into the theater so that if there is a contingency --

A: I can't answer your question on that, but we can take that one and see.

Yeah?

Q: It is said 30,000 Turkish troops, using illegally, U.S.- made Cobra helicopters, are attacking Kurdish innocent people in southeast Turkey in the last few days. I'm wondering if the Turks are authorized to use those helicopters, and if you are planning to deliver the 10 additional as has been asked ?

A: I -- would you say again what your question is?

Q: The question is that Turkey illegally is using your Cobra helicopters fighting the Kurdish innocent people in southeast Turkey. And I'm wondering if they authorized that because it's legal, totally legal.

A: I cannot confirm what you've just said. Okay.

Anybody else? Yeah?

Q: There has been now two days of extreme fighting on the West Bank and Gaza and in Israel. Understanding that you would like to kick this over to the State Department as fast --

A: Which I will do.

Q: -- as fast as you can -- (laughter) -- I will ask --

A: But go ahead and ask your question.

Q: I will ask a similar question to my colleague. Many of the weapons being used, including Apache helicopters, have been firing on civilians from the Israeli side. Any concerns by the United States?

A: I will take the easy way out and kick this one over to the State Department. I think that there are some senior officials that are going to be discussing this at some time today. It should not be me.

Anybody else?

Q: New subject. There are now several hundred active duty military personnel working on the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee at some buildings outside of Washington, DC, and that committee was formed back in June or July. Who's paying for that? What is the cost of the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee, and how do the numbers of employees there, military people, compare to previous inaugural committees?

A: There is a Blue Top, which we will have for you today, which encourages you to contact the Public Affairs Office at the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee to answer any and all of your questions. There's a telephone number. I don't have the answers to your questions right now.

I do know that today we're announcing the establishment of that committee. This is a committee that we establish every four years. So I don't think there's anything usual. I am not aware that the number of personnel assigned to it has changed significantly in the last 20 years, but you can ask that question of them.

Q: They would have that history?

A: Well, if they don't, they certainly should be able to get it. They're going to be the point of contact on this issue.

Yes?

Q: New subject. The case of this Navy computer specialist, Robert Kim, who is accused of passing secrets to South Korea, can you give us any rough idea of the damage that might have been done by the passing of those documents? Was this a serious breach of national security?

A: Well, at this point I don't think I can give you a full assessment because that will not be complete until the adjudication of the case.

Q: I didn't ask for a full assessment; just a rough idea. Can you tell us whether this was --

A: I'm not going to be able to give you any kind of an assessment until we get to that point.

Q: Can you at least discuss the process under which the various agencies go through in order to assess?

A: To do the assessment? It's an intelligence sort of a process and it involves accumulating -- going back and accumulating documents that might have been involved and seeing what the contents of those documents are and then doing the assessment based on that and other analysis that's available.

Q: Was there additional information obtained through a search of the gentleman's home?

A: Frankly, I'm going to have to refer you to the folks that are actually running this case, which are folks at the Department of Justice, for any further details. I have about exhausted my knowledge of this case.

Q: Have there been any increases in security taken at the Office of Naval Intelligence?

A: You'll have to talk to the folks there, and I'm not sure that they talk about that kind of thing.

Q: There was a U.S. Army private arrested in June and charged with espionage. It was made public sort of accidentally in August that the arrest had taken place. Has any assessment --

A: It was one of those late night things, as I recall.

Q: It was less than a late night thing. Arrested in June, and it was sort of uncovered by reporters here in August, and we haven't really heard much on that since. He was, of course, handing information over to a Chinese national, not an ally. And I'm wondering whether there is any assessment of the damage done there, whether there's any update on his situation, any change in the charges.

A: I don't --

Q: Is he available for interviews now, things like that?

A: I don't know of any change in his status except he's -- he is currently awaiting pre-trial hearing, which is scheduled for the third of October, and that's going to occur at Fort Bragg.

Q: Why is it that a pre-trial hearing is taking four months for this person, when -- and that this arrest was never made public, when, in stark contrast, yesterday's arrest took place, the media, the public was made aware hours later, and the case is clearly --

A: I'm not sure what your question is. But I think on this particular case, which I have almost an equal amount of information that I do in the Kim case, you ought to talk to the Army because they're really running the show on this one.

Q: Is DOD, are the services reviewing the process that you used to give these people classifications and review as to --

A: Well, you know, we're always very conscious of that whole process of giving security clearances to individuals. And that -- it is a process that is handled, of course, by each individual command. But it is done so with very, very careful guidelines. And I don't think at the DOD level we have issued any additional guidance on that. I think that the guidance that we have on the street is not only adequate in this thing but covers very well the attention that individual commands and those in the chain of command should be applying to this situation.

Q: So nobody's looking in either of these cases to see how it was the people [inaudible] through the net?

A: Well, all I'm saying -- all I'm saying is that there is no DOD-wide effort that I'm aware of at this point. The point that you raise should actually be raised in the individual services before you raise it with me. I don't happen to know what they're doing.

Q: What is the DOD policy regarding arrests for espionage within the services? Is there any policy regarding disclosure --

A: I don't think we have -- I don't think we have a policy with regard to arrest of individuals in --

Q: It's up to the services to deal with espionage?

A: Well, what -- I'm not sure what your question is.

Q: Well, my question is, I suppose, whether -- is the --

A: Do we arrest? The answer is yes if there is an individual who's -- who is -- who has a large body of evidence which has been built that indicates some suspicion of espionage. We certainly go through the appropriate process on the thing with regard to judicial matters. But ultimately, yes, indeed, they are arrested.

Q: But the Army, for example, is allowed to arrest the person and go through the legal process without DOD involvement? The Navy will go through this process with the person arrested yesterday without DOD involvement?

A: Well, I think it's -- I think it's situational- dependent. I just can't answer your question because I don't think there is one overall policy that says you've got to run it up the chain of command and get approval before any kind of arrest could be made, which wouldn't make much sense to me because one of the worst things you want to do when you've got a very sensitive case like this is to let a large number of people know about it.

Yeah?

Q: After the arrest?

A: Oh, after the arrest, certainly -- it certainly could be -- individuals could be made known about it. But --

Q: Was the DOD made aware of the arrest of this Army private in June?

A: Oh, I'm sure that this -- any time there is an arrest of an individual on something as sensitive as espionage, it is a subject which is briefed at very high levels, yes, indeed.

Q: And is there any reason that that case was not made public when yesterday's case was?

A: Well, that previous case was made public --

Q: It was not made public.

A: -- but it was not made public with the same sensitivity to time that this one was. [Laughter]

Q: It was not made public, and when it was uncovered two months later, an Army spokesman here told me that they had no intention of making any public announcement.

A: Well, I can't -- I'm not going to comment on what the Army individual said, other than to recommend you talk to the Army about that particular case because I know almost nothing further about it.

Q: I left a message on their answering machine.

A: Okay. By the way, there is a fine officer who works down there, Colonel John Smith, who has taken over in the news side, and I just want to make sure that everybody who hasn't met him goes by to meet Colonel John Smith. He's one of the great public affairs people and an individual who will take good care of you and try and answer all of your questions.

Jamie?

Q: Captain Doubleday, this case, the Kim case, involved information between two allies, the United States and South Korea.

A: Right.

Q: Does the United States spy on its allies?

A: Jamie, you know I don't discuss things like that.

Q: You have to at least ask! Can you comment on what was in the Post, that the K-files he was accused of copying generally involved China, North Korea, U.S. analyses of --

A: I'm not going to comment on any aspect of this case beyond what I've already said.

Yeah Bill.

Q: Yes, on Russia? Mike, yesterday in the Washington Times there was an article by Mr. Sieff that had to do with the morale and the conditions in the Red Army being very desperate and the disaffection with Mr. Yeltsin. And in asking the Department of State, these conditions were confirmed, although they did say that the Russian Army was still loyal to the civilian rule of Mr. Yeltsin's regime.

Does the DOD have a -- see it that way, that the Russian Army, after Grozny, has taken a dive?

A: Well, I don't want to do an analysis on the Russian Army for you, except to say that certainly we believe that all of the issues related to quality of life -- basically, pay and all of the other issues -- are very, very important to any kind of a military. Now, we don't try and give direction to other militaries, but certainly in our military, those are very, very important issues and ones that receive attention at the very highest levels of the U.S. government.

Q: Are you suggesting that --

A: I'm not suggesting anything, except to say that we think this is a very important issue in our armed forces.

Q: Is this a destabilizing situation as far as Russia is concerned?

A: I don't want to -- I don't want to analyze it in that way.

Q: Thank you.

A: You're welcome.