DoD News Briefing - Rear Admiral Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA
Tuesday, January 30, 2001
You know you're spoiling -- (off mike).
Quigley: I try.
Q: What can I say? This is -- (off mike).
Q: (Off mike.)
Quigley: My wife always comments that I'm always meticulous about being prompt in my professional life and horrible about being on time in my personal life, and I must plead guilty to that charge.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have only one announcement this afternoon. We are pleased to welcome to our briefing today a group of 16 foreign journalists and editors from 16 different countries. They are participating in a print journalism in the United States program from January 23rd to February 15th, organized under the auspices of the Department of State's International Visitor Program. They're in Washington for meetings with various government and media representatives, and will travel for two weeks to several locations in the U.S., to examine the role of the print media in our society. Welcome to you all.
Q: (Off mike.)
Quigley: And with that, I'll take your questions. Charlie?
Q: Craig, has there been any progress on the deputy secretary or other Rumsfeld deputies, and have any recommendations come from the White House yet?
Quigley: Well, the -- again, the announcement of any such candidates such as the deputy secretary of Defense would certainly come from the White House, not from the Pentagon. I will tell you that progress being made in the sense that this is something that Secretary Rumsfeld is investing a lot of his personal time in every day, to work through the personnel issues of the -- particularly the senior staff members here within the Pentagon. But it's a process that's not -- that is still in progress.
There's a very specific process that you go through, Charlie, as I'm sure you understand, for first locating and ascertaining the willingness and capability to serve, background checks, and ultimately the approval by the president, before those individuals are announced publicly.
I will tell you that that process is in the works. But it's not yet to the point where any announcements have yet been made, and I'm sure those will all come in good time.
Q: In California today a corporal in the Marine Corps has asked the Supreme Court or Justice Rehnquist to intervene to prevent him from facing court martial next week for refusing to take the anthrax vaccine. Are you all aware of this? It just happened, I think, or sometime this morning. And if you're aware of it, what response do you have and what would you encourage Rehnquist to do?
Quigley: Well, I -- no, I have not heard of that. This is the first that I had heard of that. I guess my first step would be to learn what I could.
But I suspect that this is a process, that he has exercised his rights under the Constitution to make such a request, and that legal process would work itself out. But I must confess I had not heard of that before you bring it up.
Q: Craig, this Thursday there's a National Prayer Breakfast at which the leader of the Congo will be and the president of Rwanda. Will Secretary Rumsfeld be going to that?
Quigley: I don't know. Let's --
Q: (Off mike) -- will there be any other contact between the Pentagon and either of those foreign leaders?
Quigley: Not that I know of in the latter part. But I don't know if his attendance -- and let me see if I -- take that question and see if I can find out. [Update: Secretary Rumsfeld is not scheduled to attend.]
Q: The Serbs are apparently complaining again about the Albanians in the ground safety zone. Has NATO received some new sort of complaint from the Serbian government? And if so, does it in effect say, you know, "If you don't take care of this problem, we will"?
Quigley: I had heard that this morning, that there had been some sort of communication from the Serbian government, the government of FRY, to NATO authorities, but I don't know the details of that. I know there's a great deal of frustration both on the Serb and on the Albanian side as the violence continues, and with the KFOR forces that are present trying their darnedest to stop and to defuse situations before they get out of hand, and if there is a flare-up, to quell it as quickly as possible. And it's a source of frustration, I think, to all sides. It's a tense situation. It's hard to really make a significant impact on differences that have existed for generations in that part of the world. The way you do that is you just knuckle down and you keep trying to do the best job you can day in, day out. But I'm not privy, David, to the particulars if, indeed, there has been some sort of formal communication to NATO authorities.
Q: Can you check on that?
Quigley: I can. Have you spoken to the folks in NATO this morning over in Europe?
Q: Yeah, but without a particularly illuminating answer.
Quigley: Well, obviously, that's probably where I would go for the information. I'll see what I can do. [Update: We are not aware of a complaint from the FRY Minister to NATO, and would refer you to NATO.]
Q: Could you update us on what's happening in the Marines' V-22 investigation, or perhaps it's now in the inspector general's court -- what's going on, statements being taken, whatever the state of play is --
Quigley: Your timing's perfect -- go ahead. I'm sorry to interrupt. Go ahead.
Q: And secondly, I understand there's persistent problems with the other vertical helicopter, the AV-8 Harrier, and it can't be deployed. Do you have any enlightenment on that?
Quigley: Let me take the first one first.
As of the close of business yesterday the Department of Defense inspector general has now completed a clean hand-off of the V-22 investigation from the Marine Corps inspector general. That does not preclude them from going back tomorrow or next week or something and say, "Hey, I forgot to ask you a question" and then getting the information.
But at this point, the DoD IG is comfortable that they have the information, as best we know it today, transferred to them from the Marine corps IG and they've got it from here.
So other than that, I don't have a progress report other than he also said that it would reaffirm two things, this morning. One is, again, that they would follow the facts wherever they led; and two, at this point, he was specifically asked the question if he could put some sort of a time frame on it, and he said that he could not yet; did not fully understand the scope and would just -- was hesitant to try to put a time frame on his own efforts.
Q: The second question was the status of the Harriers.
Quigley: On the Harriers, and that one, I don't know. Let me take that. I'm sure we can find that from the Marine Corps. [Update: As of Jan. 30, 98 of 143 Harriers are mission capable.]
Q: Are you suggesting that the DoD IG is going to rely entirely on the information he received from the Marine IG? Of course, this investigation will go on, right? They will seek facts beyond what they have received?
Quigley: Right. This is just -- Right. That's the point, Charlie. It's just -- you know, keep in mind, now, the Marine Corps IG only started their work on Friday the 19th, and then this was -- the DoD IG agreed to take this over last week. So you're talking less than a week's worth of work there. And then in the last few days, that was an orderly transition from the Marine Corps IG to the DoD IG, and they have transferred all the information that they had gathered so far -- the results of interviews, maintenance logs, what have you -- anything and everything that they had accumulated in their roughly week's worth of work -- week and a half -- over to the DoD IG.
Like I say, if they have any follow-on questions that they hadn't thought of yet, they'll be sure to call the Marine IG and ask them. But so far, he was very satisfied with the hand-off, and completely satisfied that all the materials collected to date are now in their possession, and they'll take it from here. But that is just the starting point, and they are now free to use that as a basis to begin and move wherever they think they should in order to get the facts in the case.
Q: And the "he" in this case is?
Quigley: The acting DoD inspector general.
Q: (Off mike.)
Quigley: Mm-hmm. (Affirmation.) Who is the deputy inspector general, George, normally, but he is now the senior person until there is a new appointee in that position.
Q: Craig, did you get any clarity from Mr. Lieberman on whether this is starting out as a criminal investigation, or is it, in fact, an administrative inquiry that could go criminal?
Quigley: No, I didn't get a characterization.
I just -- it's not a topic that I discussed further with him after the other day.
Q: Follow-up on a different matter: the Deutch damage assessment -- where is that today in terms of completion and potential release?
Quigley: It should be completed in its redacting of the classified portions of it today, with a little bit of luck. And I would hope to have that out in the next day or so.
Q: Okay. Can you give a sense of who are the players pulling this together?
Quigley: The general counsel, the assistant secretary for C3I, those are the principal players at this point. The general counsel acted as kind of the central coordinating point for both the IG's actions and the C3I's actions during the course of the last year or so while both activities were ongoing. And because it's important that you do it right, they have retained that role, but asking the C3I folks who actually did the work on the damage assessment to go through, redact the classified parts. And so you'll get the version that has the, you know, the black magic marker through the names and the Social Security numbers and things of that sort --
Q: Can you give us --
Quigley: -- as well as classified people.
Q: Size and scope here -- are we talking about volumes of material or are we --
Quigley: No, it's quite small. No, it's -- I'm in the ballpark by saying about 10 pages, I think.
Q: Is that Mr. Dworkin who's done that?
Quigley: No, he is gone now. He was the general counsel, but the acting general counsel is Dan Dell'Orto -- is his name.
Q: So is it his product or Dworkin's product that we're going to see?
Quigley: Well, I think the actual signature on the page is going to be the assistant secretary for C3I, I think. I don't know if I saw a signed version, George. It could be cosigned by the two of them.
Q: Is he still the same guy who we had in the last administration?
Quigley: Correct. Yeah, Secretary Money -- Art Money has been asked to continue on in his former role as the assistant secretary with C3I. So, different general counsel but the same guy on C3I.
Q: Do you have any insight now into when the new DoD budget will be ready? I mean, is it this month -- within weeks or months?
Quigley: Well, we have not received any guidance -- firm guidance at least -- from OMB as to when all of the elements of the federal government are to have their submissions in to them. So this is a process that's -- a lot of folks are working hard on here. But we don't have a date certain yet as to when that will be.
Q: Yeah, what else has the secretary been doing besides putting together his team? Has he has any other -- any briefings on other issues or topics?
Quigley: Intelligence remains important to him, understanding the process and perhaps looking at ways to make it better. I mentioned I think the first or second day that he was in office he had had a meeting with George Tenet.
He had lunch again with George Tenet yesterday, and others. But beyond the intelligence, also the budget issues, personnel issues, and now today and tomorrow preparing for the Wehrkunde conference later on this week.
Q: Do you have any more information on what the scope of this review that President Bush has assigned Secretary Rumsfeld to undertake, what the scope of that is and how it differs from the QDR?
Quigley: You mean the one that's, I think, been referred to as the "Top to Bottom Review"?
Quigley: I don't think -- I mean, that -- Secretary Rumsfeld understands that that is something that certainly needs to be done. He's completely on board with that. But I don't think he's there yet. Further, I don't think he has come in his own mind, what sort of life do you want to give this thing? Is this going to have a formal group of people that are assigned to this as a special project? Are there going to be office spaces? Will it have a starting date and an end date? Or is this going to be part of the overall process as you go along and formulate the QDR, as you formulate the budget submission, and you kind of do it almost by default as you're proceeding through the preparation of these other very important elements? He just has not finalized his thinking on that yet.
Q: Well, just to pursue that for a second, is any consideration being given to asking Congress to push the due date on the QDR back so that there'd be more time to sort all this out and differentiate between these two studies, or reports, or whatever they are?
Quigley: I have not heard any of that, at least so far, no.
Q: The Washington Post is talking today about the removal of the U.S. forces from Europe and the Balkans, criticizing for this President Bush. Do you have anything on that or any comment?
Quigley: To my knowledge, President Bush has made no comments on that since he's been in office.
Q: As the Department of Defense, are you planning any other deployment of those forces?
Quigley: Well, if you do something as important as U.S. troop presence in such an important area of the world as the Balkans, this is a decision that's made as a nation. And this would be a very collaborative process with the president in the lead, the secretary of State, the secretary of Defense, and other organizations of the federal government all playing very important roles. So we, the Department of Defense, would not have a position on that in isolation. This would be done in concert with other elements of the federal government. And I would suspect you would see the president as the one that would declare this nation's intention and the way ahead.
Q: Do you know if it's under consideration?
Quigley: I'm sorry?
Q: Do you know if it's under consideration from the military point?
Quigley: I don't know that.
Q: It was reported that your department has relocated three days ago all the nuclear weapons from the Araxos, Greece. Could you please confirm and comment?
Quigley: We have a long-standing policy of neither confirming nor denying the presence or absence of nuclear weapons on any installation, and that is still our policy. It's served us well over the years.
Q: Since there is now outcry in Greece against the DU weapons used by your forces in Kosovo, could you please once again comment on the continuing reports that they are very detrimental to the public health?
Quigley: Well, depleted uranium continues to be a topic of considerable interest in Europe and elsewhere, even here in the United States. But all of the studies that we have access to or have been a part or others have done, that we have seen to date, do not show a correlation between depleted uranium and elevated or adverse effects on an individual's health, or significant adverse effects on the environment.
If people, troops, of any nation, are ill, it should be a concern for all of us. It should be a particular concern for the nation that has contributed those forces.
But by same token, you've got to rely on the science of the circumstance and take a look at the studies and listen to the voices of the educated medical professionals that have done those studies over time, and let your actions be guided by the facts that those studies contain. And those studies, so far, have not shown us -- shown to cause -- have any relationship that we know of between depleted uranium and adverse effects on an individual's health.
Q: How long did you need to complete this study?
Quigley: Well, the studies that the -- several studies go back as far as 20 years, taking a look at this very topic. So we have used depleted uranium in our military for quite a while, and so there is a body of study on this topic that goes back a long ways. And none of it lends any doubt to the findings -- the findings are consistent, I should say, amongst the studies.
Q: Including your strike in Iraq against the -- (off mike)?
Quigley: Including the strikes in Iraq. Yes. The findings are consistent.
Q: Could you update us on the strikes in Iraq? I understand we fired on Iraqi forces over the weekend.
Quigley: I believe there was an engagement over the weekend, yes. Let me get the page from the either Southern Watch or Northern Watch Web site. I believe either the European Command or Central Command made releases on that, as they always do.
I don't have that at my immediate disposal, but we can get that for you. [Update: the most recent activity in Southern Watch is on the Web at http://www.eucom.mil/Directorates/ECPA/Operations/osw/osw.htm . The most recent activity in Northern Watch is on the Web at http://www.eucom.mil/operations/onw/ .]
Q: Craig, to go back to depleted uranium, not the medical question, but by now, given the outcry that continues to carry on, has the Pentagon made any assessment of whether it feels there is any kind of malevolent force that's propagating the story about health hazards?
Quigley: No. No. I think there is genuine concern, as I indicated before, and fear. If you're -- if you're ill, you want to find out why, and I'm sympathetic to that. But in this case, nothing we have seen in the studies that we have access to would say to us that you can point to DU as the cause of your illness.
Q: Craig, the German defense minister, Rudolf Scharping, announced yesterday a number of closings of German military bases.
Quigley: Yeah. I saw that this morning.
Q: Critics are saying that they're not closing enough bases to make up for the money that they need to increase their defense budget. Germany now spends, I think, 1.5 percent of its GDP on defense. Have you any comment on that at all, at a time when we're pressing the allies to increase defense spending?
Quigley: No, I really don't, Charlie. That's an issue for each of the NATO nations to come to within the parameters of their own government. If this is something that Germany thinks is the right thing for it to do as a nation, then that's a process that is for them and them alone to have a judgment on.
Q: Thank you.
Q: (Off mike) -- back to the DU, the Pentagon put out a list of accidents where DU ammunition was accidentally fired in Germany. First question, is there the chance that some of this ammunition is still in the ground over there, these test rounds, in Germany? And second question, is it still the Pentagon's position that even if inhaled, some of this uranium dust would not be a health risk?
Quigley: The answer to the second is emphatically yes. I don't have the statistics with me today. I read them from the podium, I think, a week ago, or last Thursday, perhaps, but they were very telling, to me, about the incredibly small amount of plutonium that you would ingest from inhaling, and another small amount of depleted uranium. So the answer to the second part is absolutely yes.
I have not seen the studies you refer to, or the report that you refer to in the first part of your question, so that I have not seen.
Q: Well, you put out a number of dates for incidents where American troops accidentally fired DU ammunition in Germany, and my question is, are you sure that all these rounds have been recovered, or is it possible that some of these rounds are still in the ground?
Quigley: I don't know. Let me see if we can find that information out for you.
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