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DoD News Briefing, Thursday, March 12, 1998

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ASD (PA)
March 12, 1998 2:00 PM EDT

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon.

I'd like to welcome four journalists from Kazakhstan. They are here under a special USIA program to educate investigative reporters, which must be why they've come to the Pentagon. Welcome.

With that, I'll take your questions.

Q: What's the SecDef's reaction to the report in Italy today on the accident?

A: He's spoken with Minister Andreatta three times now, I believe, about this tragic accident and expressed his great concern and sorrow and regret to the Italian people and to the families of those who perished. He has been briefed thoroughly on the report and thinks it's a very thorough, factual report, but he can't comment further on it now because, as you know, legal proceedings will begin starting with the Article 32 and other administrative proceedings that General Pace outlined today. Until those proceedings are complete, it would be inappropriate for him to comment further.

Q: What are the prospects of turning these fellows over to Italian jurisdiction? Who would make that final decision?

A: Right now that's being reviewed at the level of General Clark who, as you know, is the Commander in Chief of our European forces. He's been intimately involved in this from the very beginning.

Under the North Atlantic Treaty Association [Organization] Status of Forces Agreement we, the United States, have primary jurisdiction in this case because they are American pilots. It would be very unusual to waive jurisdiction in a case like this, but this is now being evaluated by General Clark and he'll reach a decision soon.

Q: ...make the decision?

A: He'll make the initial decision.

Q: Given the U.S. law of double jeopardy, is it possible perhaps they could be tried twice -- once by U.S. courts-martial and one by the Italian government?

A: I think that's extremely unlikely.

Q: Have there been any claims submitted to the U.S. Government for damages? For example, the cost to replace the cable car, lost business, cost to replace the cable, those sort of things?

A: Let me say a couple of things about claims. First, as you know, the Department of Defense announced on its own almost immediately after this accident that we would pay each family $5,000 to cover funeral and burial expenses. And we may not have gotten that to all the families, but that is what we intend to do.

We made it very clear when we announced that, that this did not compromise other claims that might be filed against the United States. I'm not aware that claims have been filed yet, but there is a very well scripted legal procedure for considering those claims. As you know, one of the recommendations made by the investigative board, the Marines, was that claims be paid as appropriate. So that will be yet to come.

Q: I may be a little bit confused, but what would be the difference between turning these folks over in Italy to local authorities and the situation that arose with the fellows who were tried for rape by Japanese authorities?

A: First of all, they're different status of forces agreements. Our relationships, legal relationships with NATO countries are governed by the NATO status of forces agreement. We have status of forces agreements with almost all the countries in which our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines serve, and although they're basically the same there are differences among them.

Q: Has there been any pressure by the Italian Government, subtle or otherwise, to get U.S. forces out of Aviano?

A: I'm not aware that that's the case. The Italians and the Americans have been working shoulder to shoulder as allies for a long period of time. They've been extremely good hosts to our forces in Aviano. We work hard together to preserve security in the Mediterranean area along the southern flank of NATO, and I'm not aware that that's an issue at this stage.

Q: The issue of terrorism or some kind of a terroristic threat against U.S. assets, specifically the Pentagon, closing visitation for two days, I believe -- today and tomorrow. What can you tell us about... Is this a foreign threat?

A: Well I can tell you first of all, that we haven't totally closed visitation because you're all here, so we are continuing our operations in a fairly normal way.

Let me just say that we get a variety of information about the security of the building from time to time. Some of this is passed on to us by the FBI, some of it we collect on our own. We respond appropriately to that information in a way designed to protect the security of the building and the security of the people who work in the building.

As you know, the entire department -- starting with the military but also spreading through the civilian ranks -- has become much more attuned to force protection since the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia. This is true all across the Defense Department infrastructure, military and civilian.

What happened here was that we did receive some information through the FBI. Some of it was credible, some of it wasn't very credible. But when it was evaluated by the FBI and by the Defense Protective Service, which has to make the final determination here based on the information it gets, the DPS, Defense Protective Service, decided there should be a one notch increase in the security posture of the Pentagon, and that's what you've seen.

You may notice from time to time that when you come in the building it will say threat con normal. That's what it says almost every day. Today it's moved up one notch to threat con alpha. The definition of threat con alpha is a general threat of possible terrorist activity against installations, building locations, and/or personnel, the nature of which and the extent of which are unpredictable.

As I said, this is the first notch up. The most severe warning state or threat condition state is called threat con delta. You can see we've moved up from normal to alpha, and we have a long way to go. But that was a prudent step to protect the building and the people in it.

Q: What was the nature of the threat?

A: The nature of the threat was a possible terrorist action against the building. I don't want to go into specifics at this stage.

Q: Just the Pentagon or other military...

A: This was limited to the Pentagon.

Q: What's the practical effect of moving the security up one notch?

A: Well, the practical effect is there's a heightened security presence around the building. You see more people dressed in utility outfits, Ninja-type outfits. There are more vehicles stationed around the building. There are more people at the gates as you come in. There will be more Defense Protective Service agents working around the metro stop. There will be increased attention given to vehicles coming in and out of the building, in and out of the whole reservation area, the 500-odd acres here. Just basically greater vigilance and greater security presence.

Now actually, Bill asked about one response, which is that we have discontinued some of the Pentagon tours, the public tours, temporarily until the threat condition returns to normal. We anticipate that that will be for today and tomorrow.

Q: Is it normal to post what your threat con is? Would you do a delta...

A: Remarkably, it is normal. We post it every day in most of these areas, and that's really a way to alert the staff, the people who work here, that there is a change, in this case a slight change, in the security posture.

Q: Is there... Do you know yet from the FBI if this threat is foreign, from some organized terrorist group of some kind of a notification from a foreign...

A: I don't think I want to get into a great deal of detail about the threat at this stage. The FBI is still working very hard to verify the threat. As I said, some elements of this threat are credible and some elements of the threat are not credible, and that's frequently the case with most threats, that you're weighing the quality of information against what you learned from other sources, against your database, against experience, and deciding exactly what action to take. In this case the Defense Protective Service led by Chief Jester, made a one-notch rise in the threat condition.

Q: Is it in response to any incident or situation, any particular situation?

A: It's in response to information that came into the hands of the FBI.

Q: I mean the threat. Does the threat appear to be in response to...

A: No, not that we can tell. It does not seem to be in response to a particular action or incident associated with the Pentagon.

Q: Does the FBI, was the FBI able to indicate any sort of motivation or purpose on behalf of whoever was considering doing this action, whatever it is?

A: I think that, not with any great specificity.

Q: Does it affect Secretary Cohen's personal schedule at all or his travel at all?

A: It has not reflected in his personal schedule. His personal security is adjusted according to conditions, and if any adjustment is required, I'm sure it will be made.

Q: Under what sort of threat would it be necessary to evacuate the Pentagon?

A: Well, it would have to be a much more detailed, much more credible, and much more specific threat than we have today.

Q: Speaking of the FBI, anything more you can tell us about the death Saturday night of the individual?

A: That remains under investigation by the FBI. They have not reported back their conclusions yet to the Pentagon. The autopsy is complete, and I don't have the results but they'll come at the appropriate time. They have removed a bullet from the deceased fellow and they are now doing a ballistics test on that bullet. That should be done today or tomorrow. In addition, they are comparing the deceased's fingerprints against the nationwide databank of fingerprints to see if they can identify this so far unidentified person.

Q: The status of the individual, the guard?

A: The guard remains a witness in the case. The FBI is dealing with him to find out as best they can, what happened.

Q: But he's not returned to work, or...

A: I don't believe he has, no. I think we want to wait until this case is over.

Q: Change the subject. Linda Tripp. The Pentagon says that she's not been demoted, that simply her duties have been changed, that she's still officially in charge of JCOC only she isn't running it. Could you clarify that?

A: First of all, her title is Public Affairs Specialist. That was her title before this incident occurred, and it remains her title. What has changed are the responsibilities that she performs underneath that title.

She has been running this program called the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, and we have given her new duties that we feel are more compatible with her current working arrangements. Those arrangements are that she is working at home under what's called the flexiplace agreement which will be re-examined every 30 days. Flexiplace agreements are enacted for the benefit or convenience of the employer, not the employee, to deal with primarily short-term problems. Generally health problems, but there have been other problems -- family and other problems that have generated flexiplace agreements in the past. The average amount of time a flexiplace agreement is in place is about slightly over 210 days, I guess. That's over the history of flexiplace agreements with the Pentagon.

Earlier this year Ms. Tripp's attorney wrote me and said that because of the extraordinary press coverage surrounding various legal investigations it was impossible or difficult for Ms. Tripp to leave home, and that also she had security concerns because of the press coverage assigned to her, and the general publicity and notoriety that she was receiving. In addition, it pointed out that she was cooperating with the Office of the Independent Counsel and would be spending a certain amount of time talking to that office. In light of these two or three circumstances, [she] asked that she be allowed to work at home.

We believe that the circumstances that applied in January still apply. That is that having her come to work would be disruptive to other people in the building. It could raise some security concerns for her -- the commuting, etc. Also, it could interfere with her efforts to be responsive to the Office of the Independent Counsel.

We decided that she could not continue to run this program from home because it requires a certain amount of travel -- both to line up the program, to do the advance work, and also actually to run the program and travel with the people who go on the trip in June.

So we assigned her different duties. Those duties are still on, they deal with the program. They're important duties. She is performing those duties. She is working at home on her computer. She gets stuff by e-mail and also by Federal Express and other delivery means, and has been working away. We'll re-evaluate this every 30 days and decide what is appropriate for her and for us.

Q: To make a long story short, yesterday she told USA Today that she had been demoted and she was afraid she was going to be canned. You're saying...

A: She has the same title and she has the same salary.

Q: She has not been demoted, you're saying?

A: She has the same title and she has the same salary. She has different responsibilities.

Q: Follow up on this, if you can. Is she a GS? I don't know if you still have the GM category here, but if she's a GS, what is her grade and step, and when is she due for her next step increase? If she's a GM, what about a merit pay increase? Anything in the offing?

A: She is a GS-15, step 5. That's all I can tell you about her current rank.

Q: Under the GS structure, as you know, every certain period of time depending on the grade level, you come up for a step increase. In other words, in her case it would be up to the step 6. Can you tell us or find out when she is due that increase and if she's going to be awarded it?

A: Well, she awarded step 5 on November 10, 1996, and she will not be eligible for another step increase within her grade until August of '98.

Q: Can you spell out a little bit more about what her new duties are?

A: Yes. She will be... She has been running, directing the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference for the last couple of years, and basically she's been the stable point there where the people who work with her have come and gone. Very frequently a military officer will work with her for a year as her deputy. Therefore, much of the program, which is a relatively complex program, is in her head. What we're asking her to do is basically to create a manual for running this program or standard operating procedures, we would call them in the Pentagon, which will be an extremely valuable piece of work.

In addition, because of her knowledge and insight into the program, we will be in constant touch with her as we proceed to put together the program for June of this year.

Q: Since January how would you evaluate her performance in her job?

A: She's been performing her job, I would say, as assigned.

Q: Isn't she a Schedule C appointee, a political appointee?

A: You've asked me that question before, and the answer hasn't changed.

Q: What's the answer?

A: Yes.

Q: She serves at the pleasure of the President. She has none of the protection of civil service?

A: She does not have civil service protection, that's correct.

Q: Isn't she clearly out to do the President in? She's clearly not a political supporter. That's what these jobs are for, aren't they? Political supporters?

A: I think you realize that this is a delicate and difficult situation. You're a man of the world and you understand situations like this, and this is one that we're trying to work with as sensitively as we can. But right now Ms. Tripp is working for the Department of Defense in a Schedule C job. She is performing duties as we assign them to her. We have just changed the assignment so that she will be able to perform those duties with less disruption to her than coming back and working on the program here would involve; and less disruption to us, and we think this is a mutually satisfactory arrangement.

Q: As a Schedule C you or the Secretary or the President could terminate her employment at any time.

A: That is true. That is undeniably true.

Q: Do you have someone to fill the position?

A: Yes we do. We have Commander Snyder who not only is... Who has worked with her in the past and will do a great job running the program on a day-to-day basis with assistance and advice from her.

Q: How long do you expect her to be on the flexiplace program?

A: Well, we don't know that. That's something that will be reviewed every 30 days.

Q: How much is her assistance to the Independent Counsel taking away from her work?

A: A fair amount of time, actually. She has reported working, logging 112 duty hours, and that includes time under an administrative leave arrangement to cooperate with the Office of the Independent Counsel, and about 49 hours have been devoted to cooperation with the Independent Counsel.

Q: How many hours does she work a day?

A: It varies, but she's supposed to be working eight hours a day. But under a flexiplace agreement this does not have to occur between set hours every day. The whole point of a flexiplace agreement is to give a person flexibility, hence the name. So she could do work on weekends, she could do work in the evenings, etc.

Q: So I understand the math, 112 duty hours plus 49 hours...

A: No. I will double-check this but I understand the 49 is included as part of the 112.

Q: So it's a subset of the 112.

A: Right.

Q: In a month or in a week?

A: Well, you may work 112 hours a day or a week, but no. This is over approximately a... Actually I don't know when the starting period of this is, but it's over a period of several weeks.

Q: Change the subject. Has the Secretary been briefed on the services, or received any of the briefings from the services...

A: He has not. That will happen later.

I want to make it clear that the deadline he set was 90 days for the services to submit their responses to the Kassebaum Baker report. He didn't promise that he would complete his evaluation of the responses within 90 days. So the services have submitted their responses. They're in the process of being evaluated by the Secretary's staff. The Secretary will be briefed on those relatively soon, and then he will decide what his response is to the services' responses.

Q: Would you characterize those responses as negative?

A: Well, I would not, actually. The press reporting on the Kassebaum Baker recommendations has been somewhat skewed. There were over 30 recommendations, and only three of them actually dealt with separation of genders. The rest all dealt with such issues as recruiting, trainer selection, trainer support, the rigor of the training including physical fitness standards, the way values are communicated, taught, and enforced in the military, the resources that are devoted to training in the basic or entry training phase as well as advanced training.

So I think that what we'll find is that many, many of these recommendations will be accepted by the services. Perhaps not all the recommendations.

What the Secretary will have to do is to read the recommendations, listen to briefings on the recommendations. He may want to consult with the Joint Chiefs as well as the Service Secretaries and decide what he does with the recommendations.

Q: Does that mean that it might be weeks before he makes a decision...

A: I think he's going to try to do it as quickly as possible. He realizes you're not the only people who are interested in the outcome of this report. He'll try to be responsive. But I wouldn't want to lock him into a particular hour of a particular day to make his report. He'll try to do it as quickly as possible. But since he hasn't even been briefed on the report yet, it would be irresponsible of me to suggest that he's going to be able to conclude his work in a certain period of time.

Q: Is it conceivable he would kick the can down the road and wait until the congressional commission on gender integrated training makes their report public sometime this fall?

A: I think he's very conscious of the fact that, as Secretary of Defense, it's his responsibility and obligation to make important decisions on training, and that he will make those decisions.

Q: Is it true that Secretary Cohen is opposed to Navy Secretary Dalton's recommendation that Admiral Christenson be demoted to captain for his role as skipper of the THEODORE ROOSEVELT when it backed into a cruiser ship?

A: Yeah. Let me explain that. That is a, sort of an incomplete explanation of the state of play on this.

When the accident occurred, now-Admiral Christenson was a captain. However, he had been promoted to admiral and the date of his promotion was October 1st. He was at sea on October 1st on the THEODORE ROOSEVELT. He was the captain of the THEODORE ROOSEVELT. Because admirals don't skipper carriers, he was asked by the Navy to delay pinning on his star and assuming the rank of admiral, which actually involved a decrease in compensation, until after the ROOSEVELT had completed its deployment.

In the final days of the deployment there was an accident at sea and, as you know, the ROOSEVELT backed into a cruiser, the LEYTE GULF. There was an investigation, but before the... After the cruise was over, the deployment was over, I believe that Admiral Christenson pinned on his star, Captain Christenson became Admiral Christenson in early December.

There was an investigation which resulted in a punitive letter of reprimand to then Admiral Christenson. The issue that Secretary Cohen had to decide was one, had Admiral Christenson been adequately disciplined for this accident; and two, given the circumstances of when he was promoted, and the accident, and the following disciplinary response to the accident, given all those was it sensible to ask the President to invoke a little or perhaps completely unused section of Title 10 that allows him to revoke a promotion within 18 months. Looking at all the facts, Secretary Cohen decided that one, the fellow had been disciplined to such an extent that his Navy career is essentially over. He won't be promoted. Everybody agrees that it would be unthinkable that he would be promoted to a second star after this accident. And two, that given the other legal questions, that it did not make sense to ask the President to invoke this -- I think it was Section 685 of Title 10, I may have the section number wrong -- but it would not make sense to ask the President to get involved in this case and to invoke that title, and therefore remove him or knock him down one rank. So that was the decision. He did not, therefore, accept the recommendation of Secretary Dalton when it came to him.

Q: The two commanders of the LEYTE GULF, the cruiser, with career ending reprimands, but one of them's a black American and the other one has a Hispanic surname. Should they be promoted before their careers end? Where's the fairness in this thing? These guys are finished. The other guy got promoted.

A: As you know, Pat, he was promoted -- actually confirmed by the Senate, proposed for promotion, confirmed by the Senate and actually achieved his date of rank, his date of promotion before this accident occurred. All cases are peculiar cases when you examine the facts. No two cases are the same. There are always sort of extenuating circumstances or different circumstances in every case. This case clearly had a very awkward set of circumstances in that he had reached his date of promotion on October 1st before the accident occurred. He was asked not to pin on the star until after he completed his deployment on the THEODORE ROOSEVELT. He acceded to that request. The accident occurred. Then he went on and put on the star, and was disciplined after the accident occurred.

Now I think that everybody who has studied military careers would consider this a career-ending disciplinary response to the accident, the punitive letter of reprimand. I don't think that there's any doubt in Admiral Christenson's mind about this. I don't think there's any doubt in Secretary Cohen's mind about this. And I don't think there should be any doubt in your mind about this. But the circumstances here were peculiar. That explains why the decision came out the way it did.

Q: It doesn't seem even-handed though, does it?

A: I think what you have here is a situation where three people have received career ending disciplinary actions. The question is at what rank the careers end.

Q: Is Kofi Annan and Secretary Cohen -- do they see eye to eye about the matter of permission to use military force, this issue that was raised on Sunday by Kofi Annan?

A: This was a very good meeting. It was, I believe, the third meeting that Secretary Cohen has had with the Secretary General, Mr. Annan. They met in New York last fall. They met for dinner last night at the State Department with Secretary Albright. And then they met in Secretary Cohen's office this morning.

I think that I should let Secretary General Annan answer that question you asked in his own words, and he said today at a press conference, "No promise of peace and no policy of patience can be without limits."

I think there was good agreement on the part of Secretary Cohen and Secretary General Annan. They reviewed the scope of the arrangement that he reached with Iraq. The Secretary General confirmed that Mr. Butler, the head of UNSCOM, the UN Special Commission, will remain in control of the inspections, that he has operational control of the inspections. They agreed that the inspections have opened up a whole new classification of sites to inspection -- that is the presidential sites, palaces, etc., and that this is a step forward. And they agreed that the obligation of Iraq to comply with the inspection regime is unambiguous and firm. I think they both felt it was a good meeting.

Q: Has the STENNIS arrived in the Gulf, and when is the GEORGE WASHINGTON going to depart?

A: The STENNIS has arrived in the Gulf. She has passed through the Strait of Hormuz. The GEORGE WASHINGTON, I believe, will leave on Saturday.

Q: (inaudible)

A: She'll be, the GEORGE WASHINGTON will be coming home, but I assume she'll go through the... The GEORGE WASHINGTON is from Norfolk, so she'll be coming through the Med.

Q: A different question involving Secretary Dalton. Congressman Paul McHale of Pennsylvania has been quoted several places this week saying he's been approached about his interest in becoming Secretary of the Navy. Does Secretary Cohen desire Secretary Dalton to leave? If not, why has Congressman McHale been approached about the job?

A: Well, the accounts are somewhat scrambled. Let me explain what happened.

After Secretary West left his post as Secretary of the Army to become the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Congressman McHale was approached and asked if he would like to consider being Secretary of the Army. He was flattered by the request but said no. He was a former Marine, and if he held any job in the Pentagon, it would be, he would much rather be Secretary of the Navy. He may have spoken about other jobs that would be possible as well, but the Secretary of the Navy was one that he expressed interest in. At that time, and now, of course, the job is filled with Secretary Dalton. But I believe the response was that people generally don't serve as Service Secretaries for eight years, the terms tend to be in the range of several years. One example of that is that both Secretary West and Secretary Widnall left at about the time their first term ended. And that if there were a change, that Representative McHale would certainly be a strong candidate for consideration as Secretary of the Navy, and that's where it stands.

Q: So Secretary Cohen is not at all displeased with Secretary Dalton or desires him to leave?

A: I've just explained the state of play and that's where it stands right now. We have a Secretary of the Navy and we have somebody who would make a good Secretary of the Navy if there's a vacancy.

Q: Has Secretary Dalton indicated to Secretary Cohen that he intends to leave any time soon?

A: I don't know the answer to that question. I haven't spoken to Secretary Dalton about it.

Q: A couple of unrelated questions. There's been quite a bit of discussion about a regulation that allows a Sergeant Major of the Army or other senior military leaders to retire at a pay grade equivalent to the highest rank they achieved, even if they are reduced in rank or disciplined or court-martialed or whatever. Without getting into any hypotheticals about Sergeant McKinney, is this sort of regulation a good idea? Is the Defense Department in any way reconsidering whether it should exist?

A: I've been informed by my legal advisors in the Department that I should not discuss this because it could be an element of the resolution of the McKinney case; so therefore I'm just going to have to take a complete and overt dodge on this question. With no apologies.

Q: A completely unrelated question which was forwarded to me by my colleagues at CNN in Atlanta, where I believe they have gone well past the asteroid threat on alpha level. Is there a role for the U.S. military in terms of "nudging rogue asteroids off...(inaudible)"

Q: I wondered about that.

A: No. One of the great things about being an avid newspaper reader is that you learn new things to worry about every day. Today when I read the papers I learned that in 30 years I'm going to have to worry about the possibility that an asteroid may pass within some miles -- many thousands of miles away as I understand it -- of the earth. If I read the stories correctly.

Asteroids clearly are something that we have to take seriously, but I'm not sure we have to take them seriously every single day. That seemed to be the import of this story, as I read it.

As you know, NASA is the chief of asteroid police in the galaxy of our government, and they have the responsibility for looking out for asteroids. They have recently been directed by Congress to investigate the possibility of near earth collisions. That would be a collision between an asteroid and the earth. We will cooperate with them in any way that we can help them, but it's mainly their job.

Q: Ken, you're responsible for anti-asteroids. I mean it's one thing to wonder about and another thing... Where are we on our anti-asteroid program? That's what I want to know.

A: I can admit to you that we are not very far along in our anti-asteroid program now. But I want to point out that this threat is 30 years away. It's not supposed to happen until 1998, and in fact they have a specific time and day... I'm sorry 2028. They have a specific day and time, as I understand it.

Q: I plan to be here.

A: I plan to watch you on TV... Ask your questions about asteroids.

Q: Does Joint Vision 2010 take this threat into account?

A: This is outside the realm of 2010 even.

Look, we all have read accounts of the Gulf of Mexico being created by a collision with an asteroid. We've all read accounts of what may have triggered ice ages and incredibly dramatic changes in our climate and life on earth thousands of years ago. So asteroids are something that should be taken very seriously and they are being taken very seriously, primarily by NASA.

Thirty years gives us time to look at various options. That's how we will spend much of the next 30 years, looking at various options. It is conceivable that science will be able to come up with ways to deflect asteroids. You've probably read the comments of many astronomers talking about ways in which we might be able to deflect the path of an asteroid. I'm sure that this is something that not only the United States but the international community will pay great attention to -- and should. If it is within the realm of science to do something that we've never been able to do before in order to protect the earth, certainly science should rise to the occasion and grasp that opportunity. I'm sure that's what will be happening over the next decades.

Q: A little sooner in our sphere of things of interest, as the probable author, will the Secretary be making a major policy speech at the Press Club next Tuesday?

A: I think the speech will be quite an interesting speech, and I think it will be newsworthy and I recommend you be there or listen to it.

Q: The Prime Minister of Thailand is coming to town, (inaudible), the end of this week. Industry sources are saying that a deal has been worked out on the F-18's to Thailand. Can you shed any light on it?

A: If there is any deal worked out, it's something that he and the President will discuss I'm sure, so it would be premature for me to discuss it. We made it very clear, Secretary Cohen made it very clear on his trip to Thailand in January that we are doing our best to work with Thailand to devise a solution that eases, that recognizes its economic problems, and we have been working hard with Thailand to come up with a solution. We continue to do that work.

Q: Have you found another buyer, meaning an outside buyer for...

A: I think you're trying to put me in some back door answer to your earlier question and I'm going to refuse to go in the back door.

Q: Are the U.S. Marines going to buy them?

A: Charlie, now you're trying to find a window to put me through to answer the question and I'm not going to climb through the window.

Q: In the meeting with Secretary Cohen and Annan today, did they discuss Kosovo and the possibility of increasing the size of that UNPROFOR...?

A: They did not discuss that. They focused almost exclusively on Iraq.

Press: Thank you.