United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

Transcript


DoD News Briefing: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ATSD PA

Presenters: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, ATSD PA
April 13, 1995 1:30 PM EDT

Tuesday, April 11, 1995 - 1:30 p.m.

Mr. Bacon: Good afternoon. I'll take your questions.

Q: Has Secretary Perry or Deutch or whoever informed the committee in Congress on the bonus payment for Martin Marietta and Lockheed?

A: I don't know why they would have to inform them. It was publicized in the press and in the proxy material, but I'll check on that.

Q: Have they had any inquiries?

A: Not that I'm aware of.

Q: Have you had any second thoughts about paying $31 million?

A: As you know, because we sent you a memo on this and spoke to you about it, this is money that Martin Marietta officials would have gotten anyway, irrespective of the merger. The merger did nothing to change the amount of money these officials were going to get. So no, they have not had any second thoughts about giving the money that had already been earned by the Martin Marietta officials.

Q: I thought some of it had been earned, but $19 million of it is yet to come from contracts...

A: Results specified in contracts.

Q: But only because of the merger was this bonus package put together?

A: You have to separate two things. You're well aware that there's a bonus package that did come as result of the merger with Lockheed, and there were also contractual arrangements between Martin Marietta and the Pentagon. The money you're talking about -- the $32 million -- was provided for under existing contracts between the Pentagon and Martin Marietta. That money would have been paid to Martin Marietta or its officials regardless of whether the merger had taken place.

Q: One relates to current contracts and one to future contracts. Money that hasn't been paid.

A: Some of the money had been earned but delayed. The payment had been delayed because -- as we explained to you -- there were delayed payments that the executives chose to receive the money over a period of time rather than all at once. That's a fairly standard feature under a contract.

Q: To minimize their tax burden?

A: I don't know why they did it. You'll have to ask the officials.

Q: With the May 1st deadline coming up on Bosnia -- and lifting the arms embargo -- has anyone in Congress asked the military to do more on exploring how the Bosnian Muslims could be aided? Was that just a one-time hearing and nothing's been done about that since?

A: I'm not aware that there are ongoing discussions about that, no. I should point out that our hope is that we can extend the cessation of hostilities agreement and the Contact Group is now meeting in an effort to try to do that.

Q: Does the Pentagon have any reaction to the Duke University study that duplicated some of the Desert Storm syndrome illnesses in, I believe it was laboratory chickens?

A: We have read accounts of the study. We have talked to the person who was doing the study and we're monitoring the results carefully. We also have a study going involving rats that is attempting to do basically the same thing. The Duke study, as you know, was financed privately by Ross Perot. Our study is a government study -- though slightly different phases. All I can tell you now is we're monitoring the results of the private study as well as our own study.

As you know, we have a whole series of programs underway to deal with the Persian Gulf illness and this is just one of these programs -- to run these kinds of experiments.

Q: Is this exposing the rats to drugs...

A: The rat study and the chicken study are doing exactly the same thing. They're exposing the animals to highly concentrated combinations of chemicals to see how they respond.

I want to point out that whatever happens with these rats and chickens doesn't mean that humans would show the same reaction to the amounts of chemicals to which they were exposed. What we're trying to do right now is find out what the scientific parameters are and see how we can walk back from these studies to what might have happened to humans in the Gulf.

Q: Who is doing the rat study?

A: The rat study is being done, I think, by Dr. Joseph's office, but we'll get the exact details on that for you. Jim Turner in DDI has that.

Q: Even though the IG and the General Counsel are still collecting information regarding Guatemala, are there any preliminary indications that any documents were destroyed at all as alleged in that anonymous letter to Congressman Torricelli?

A: Not that I'm aware of, but I want to point out two things. One, the anonymous letter made an allegation about one particular person. We did not have any reason to believe at the time, nor do we have any reason to believe now, that that person was guilty of destroying documents, but the investigation is continuing. It deals with not only this question but a number of other questions going back to 1980. So those papers, computer disks, etc., aren't due to be turned over to the IG's office until Friday. Then, depending on the volume of material turned over, it will take some time to sort through that and figure out what's there.

Q: The subject of political assassinations...

A: We are against them. (Laughter)

Q: Good. There's been a spate of them in the hemisphere. Three plots in North America, but especially Mexico. Four high profile assassinations including a cardinal and a leading political candidate for president in recent months. If I may quote an article from the Journal of Commerce, Mexico has been reeling from recent disclosures of corruption in the government of former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and the widespread view that many elements of the Mexican military and police are linked to the drug trafficking cartels.

 

What is the Pentagon's reaction to this -- these goings-on, and this destabilization in the Mexican government reflecting on the security of the United States? Especially our border?

A: That's really more appropriately a State Department question, one you should address to them, rather than to here.

First of all, we're against political assassinations. Secondly, the Clinton Administration and the U.S. Government is working to -- as you know -- create a financial rescue package to deal with some of the acute economic problems that have arisen in Mexico. Third, I do not believe there is concern about instability on our southern border at this stage.

Q: But specifically with regard to corruption in the Mexican military as a danger...

A: I'm not prepared to comment on alleged corruption in the Mexican military. I'm not an expert on the Mexican military.

Q: On Iraq. Is any military option contemplated regarding releasing the two hostages?

A: Not that I'm aware of.

Q: The supplemental for '95 has been signed. It was signed based on... Based on the amount there is readiness, and everything pretty well taken care of now? Are there any weak spots as a result of underfunding or anything like that?

A: The budget basically provides the money we've asked for. Under the supplemental we'll have to do some rejiggering, but it provides the money we've asked for training and readiness. There's no absolute state of readiness. It's sort of like physical conditioning, you can always be in better condition.

We have basically the money we need to get our troops back to where they're supposed to be. It will take some time. I don't think all of the Army units that were at one point C-3 are back to where we want them, but they will be.

Thank you.