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DoD News Briefing, Tuesday, July 28, 1998

Presenters: Capt. Mike Doubleday, USN, DASD (PA)
July 28, 1998 1:35 PM EDT

Capt. Doubleday: Good afternoon.

I have no announcements, so I'm ready to try and answer some questions if there are any.

Q: Mike, can you update us on when the department will announce the adultery - fraternization policy revision?

A: We are still working that issue, but we hope to do this soon, perhaps as early as tomorrow. And as soon as we have the exact timing, we will ensure that you are notified about when it will be.

Q: Are you going to do fraternization separate from adultery?

A: My expectation is that we will do both of those issues at the same time. This will complete the three initiatives that Secretary Cohen announced a little over a year ago on the 7th of June, 1997.

Q: The commandant of the Marine Corps has been very outspoken, unusually so, about the proposed changes in the adultery policy. Is the secretary at all uncomfortable with the commandant being so outspoken on an issue in public like that?

A: I think you've probably heard the Secretary comment publicly on several occasions more on the point of the way the issue is being reported in news reports. The important points that he has made over the last 10 days or so is the same point that he made over a year ago. And that was with regard to adultery, he asked for no change in the statute that governs that particular issue. And in fact, he has said on several occasions, over the last 10 days, that there will be no change in the law that governs adultery. I think that any of you could go to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is the law that governs the United States military personnel and you could look at the article covering adultery, which I believe is Article 134, and look at how that is stated. And it has to do with the effect that adultery has on good order and discipline and whether it tends to bring discredit upon the service. And those are the two punishable offenses that occur in that context. And we will have, as I say, when this all comes out, we will add to your understanding of that issue.

But what Secretary Cohen said over a year ago was that he hoped to clarify the application of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and to provide some very clear guidance to military commanders and military personnel and to how they should proceed when they are confronted with such a case.

Q: But in any case, the Secretary is comfortable with having a service chief speak out in that kind of way when something like this is under discussion internally?

A: Well, I have not seen him comment on that. I do know that the services have been very closely involved in the evolution of this whole process. You may recall that when this was announced over a year ago, it was -- the services were very much part of both the good order and discipline part of the issue. And also, their JAG representatives and general counsels were also a part of the adultery part of the issue. So this is not something that has been done independent of the services. And my expectation is that when we make the announcement, we will be able to add to your understanding and the understanding of military people about what these issues are all about.

Q: Mike, as I understood it, there were proposals to change the UCMJ on adultery. You are now telling us that that is not occurring.

A: What I am telling you is what the Secretary has said, I would refer you to the transcript from the media availability that he had a week ago and you can take a look at the exact words. And then as soon as we have the details of the final package worked out, we'll have a gathering down here and we'll have a full briefing on the subject.

Q: If I could just sort of understand the parameters a little but, no change in the UCMJ, but a change in the policy of how it is applied?

A: The one thing that he has made clear, that he started making clear over a year ago, was that there was no change to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And that remains the case.

Q: When Mr. Bacon was here last week, he said that he would wait until the Secretary got back from this Asia trip. Any reason why he pushed it up?

A: Well, I think...

Q: I mean, we're not complaining.

A: Right. I think that there are several things that have come into play here. Number one, there continue to be a number of reports on this issue, some of which are not entirely accurate. And I think that the Secretary felt that if we were in a position to provide the final package before he got back, we should go ahead and do that. And so, if that is the case, our intention is to indeed have a briefing and provide you all with any paper that has been generated on this subject.

Q: The UCMJ is the written law, but then there are JAG instructions, guidance, that sort of thing.

A: The Manual for Courts-Martial, right.

Q: Right. Those kinds of things that are not through the law that are passed by Congress -- a change in the UCMJ would require an act of Congress from my understanding. But the administrative processes in the JAG manuals are DoD products and those can be changed to change the guidance to commanders in how they implement that law, is that --

A: That was always the plan, to look at the Manual for Courts-Martial, which provides the explanatory material, and to see if there could be more clarity injected into that. My indications are at this point that that is exactly what has occurred and that once the final package is assembled, that is what will be provided.

Q: Outside arguments have been about what punishment could incur to an adultery charge. There's always been, under Article 34, a fairly broad range of what you could do up to the maximum of a, I think, a dishonorable [discharge]. But the guidance could come down and recommend what the punishment should be, right?

A: That's exactly right. The commanders, in almost every circumstance where they're confronted with an incident where they have to dispose of some disciplinary matter, have a whole range of possibilities [regarding] how they go about that. And they frequently have to consult with legal authorities [about] how they should proceed. And certainly, this issue is one where those kinds of consultations go on.

Q: Another subject. Any progress on the efforts by DoD to create a moratorium for Cyprus. And since Cyprus is not a NATO member and the system is against the Cypret defense sovereign right, I'm wondering if the DoD is going to protect Cyprus from any attacks during the existence of the system.

A: What I can tell you on that is that the United States believes that some sort of an arrangement regarding the air picture for Cyprus would help to reduce tensions on the island and would contribute to an atmosphere where -- which would be more conducive to settlement discussions. A regime or an effort in that regard would function with the cooperation of the concerned parties. The United States would not enforce such an arrangement with Cyprus. We've said that before. And of course, our State Department is involved in discussing any kind of arrangement like this and I would refer you to them for any more details.

Q: Most recently, US officers cooperating with the British counterpart in the F-S, that means frequency system, stationed on the Cape Greco of the Republic of Cyprus. The system is in place anyway by NATO since 1981 with ACE directive 20-3 reporting direct to LCO in (inaudible), Turkey. Do you have any idea what is going on?

A: On that one, I have nothing-- I have no knowledge of anything that you have mentioned there.

Q: I was told that the DoD (inaudible) for the moratorium over Cyprus. Do you have anything on that?

A: Well, we've discussed our interest with regard to Cyprus with a number of countries, including Israel.

Q: What's been the consequences, if any, of the delay in Congress appropriating the Bosnian money, number one? And affiliated with that is do you care if Congress gives the Bosnian money through an emergency appropriation or a supplemental appropriation? Do you care which way it comes to you?

A: You're asking a rather technical question, at least the second part of it. I'll have to take that one and see if there is concern. With regard to the Bosnia money, I think you're aware that we are very concerned about that supplemental, that we believe that it is important to get, not only because the operations are important and they're expending money, but because of the impact or the potential impact that diverting other funds would have on overall readiness.

Q: We had those dire warnings two or three months ago that we had to start -- Pentagon would have to start diverting money out of O&M and so forth. Has that happened.

A: Let me take that one and see if that has occurred yet. I just don't have that level of detail.

Q: Will you also check for each of the services, how they're affected, because I guess the Army is going to have to cut back training the most because they're the most indebted by this or effected by this.

A: We'll see if we can give you a service breakdown on that. Anymore on this one?

Q: Mike, have you taken a question on Chinese -- I'm sorry I was late.

A: No, I was kind of hoping to get through the briefing. [Laughter]

Q: Try this. This is an article on yesterday's early bird from the South China Morning Post reporting that Beijing has reiterated its right to use military force against Taiwan and has warned other countries not to sell weapons to the island or to shield Taiwan under defense umbrellas, which seems to be aimed directly at the United States, at least the past policy and, I think, still the present policy of the United States. How does the United States military react to this very confrontation statement?

A: I think you're aware of what our policy is with regard to Taiwan and there is no change in that policy.

Q: Linda Tripp, as she finishes her work with the Grand Jury, is she coming back to resume her old position here at the Pentagon, is she welcome, is her desk still available?

A: I have two things that I can tell you about Linda Tripp. The first one is that she remains an employee of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. The second one is, from what I read in press accounts, she is scheduled to testify or continue her testimony before the grand Jury today. And beyond that, I don't have anything else.

Q: How is she coming on her project that she's been assigned? Has she done anything on that?

A: I have given you the extent of what I have on Linda Tripp.

Q: Is there a way that the Defense Department could take a question to see whether or not she has written the first word on the project that she has allegedly been working on for the last nine months?

A: I'm certainly...

Q: That's not classified, it should be something that's ascertainable.

A: I'm certainly open to any questions that you care to ask. [Laughter]

Q: But that doesn't mean you're going to seek an answer, is that -- that's not invasion of her privacy.

A: Go ahead and ask any questions that you care to ask on the subject and we will -- we will do what we can on the subject.

Q: If she should be convicted of wiretapping in Maryland, if a person is convicted of a state offense, does that impinge on her employment at the federal Department of Defense?

A: Are you asking a very generalized question, which I would be -- which I would be willing to take on the effects of employment in the aftermath of some sort of judicial sentence, is that it?

Q: If Maryland should convict her of wiretapping, breaking the law, would that effect her employment? And if you say that that's speculative, I would just ask does an employee of the Pentagon have any risk if he or she is convicted of a state crime, civil or criminal?

A: We'll take the question and see if we can add to your understanding with an answer.

Q: Just to follow up on Jack's question, to broaden it to a yes or no question, has she produced any work product during the time that she has been on flex time?

A: I think I made it real clear that I'm very limited in A, my knowledge, and B, what I can provide you on that. But we'll do what we can.

Q: Recently the DoD started moratorium, the entire strategic area from Cyprus all the way to the Aegean Sea as authority using various devices in Greece and Turkey and I'm wondering why now?

A: Could you repeat that one one more time?

Q: Recently the DoD started moratorium, the entire strategic area from Cyprus all the way to the Aegean electronically using various devices in Greece and Turkey. And I'm wondering why now? Is there any specific reason?

A: I think what you may be referring to is actually a NATO program called the Recognized Air Picture and it actually is focused on the Aegean, as I understand it.

Q: What I'm saying is something from your country, from the Department of Defense.

A: Which we are doing what?

Q: As the DoD.

A: And what is it that we're doing?

Q: That you are monitoring the whole area from Cyprus all the way to the Aegean.

A: I am not aware of any program that we have separate from the one that NATO has.

Q: Last week, the DoD deputy secretary testified before the International Relations Committee of the House on Kosovo, he stated that the U.S. forces are preparing to intervene in Kosovo unilaterally without prior approval of the U.N. Could you tell us more about...

A: What is happening?

Q: There was testimony from the deputy secretary of Defense in the Congress last Friday.

A: And what...

Q: And he said that the U.S. forces are preparing to intervene unilaterally in Kosovo without prior approval of the United Nations.

A: I am not aware of any... What I think you may be referring to there is that NATO is certainly looking into the situation in Kosovo, and as you're aware from several weeks ago, they are continuing to drop a range of options for consideration on what might be done in the area. But the way you've characterized it there, we are -- the United States is not preparing to do anything in Kosovo militarily independent of this NATO planning. And the NATO planning is just that, planning.

Q: The American unit was sent to the region of southeast Turkey, namely, if I remember was SEAL, S-E-A-L, where there is a war going by the Turkish military against (inaudible) guerillas is in violation of the War Powers Act which prohibits the sending of American troops in the war zone without specific Congressional authorization. Is this correct, sir?

A: I think what you're probably referring to is one of what we call the JCET training missions.

Q: That is correct.

A: This one that took place in Turkey involved about 10 military personnel. It was, as all of our JCET training missions are, an approved mission. Those are put together because they provide an opportunity for the familiarization of the U.S. participants in either the terrain of the area, in interfacing with their counterparts in the host military unit, in language familiarization, in operating with the host military unit, and in the environment of the host country.

Q: On Iraq, Mike, the IAEA yesterday at the United Nations Security Council said that they found no evidence that Iraq has nuclear weapons, but the agency said that Iraq's failure to account for key nuclear equipment and technical blueprints leaves open the possibility that it has hidden the necessary expertise and material for some future use. Does the United States Department of Defense have a concern that Iraq should come forward and show the evidence to the IAEA?

A: We have said along with the IAEA for years that Iraq needs to come forward with all information regarding their weapons of mass destruction. And we continue to hold that belief. I think the IAEA, their report, which was presented yesterday to the Security Council, indicated that they did not have the full range of information that they had been seeking to understand the full extent of the Iraqi nuclear program and whether there is a residue of that program still in existence in Iraq.

Q: So the U.S. indeed would call upon Iraq to substantiate with evidence their alleged scuttling of their weapons?

A: Indeed, the entire United Nations has been calling on Iraq to provide that kind of information.

Q: Any worries about troop movements in Iraq lately?

A: What I can tell you on that is that there have been some troop movements. This is primarily a Garrison rotation of troops. It, as far as we can tell right now, is not a change. This is not the first time that we have seen such a rotation.

Q: The fact that is coming within days of when they invaded Kuwait is not a concern to you? It is a normal time when they do the rotations?

A: I think the best way to say that is we certainly watch the situation in Iraq very carefully and we will continue to do so.

Q: What is the American force structure in that neck of the woods these days?

A: U.S. forces there number just under 20,000. I think in the last week or so, the aircraft carrier ABRAHAM LINCOLN reported on the scene. We have 14 ships in the area, we have about 165 aircraft...

Q: Including the LINCOLN? A: Including the LINCOLN.

Q: So, less than a hundred land based, well under a hundred land based?

A: Is that correct? That's correct. It's 165 aircraft, which include air to aid, air to ground and dual role aircraft.

Q: Could you give some indication of these troop movements that you've detected?

A: I think the best way is what I said before, it's a Garrison rotation of troops, which we have seen in the past. Beyond that, I would not care to characterize it.

Q: When? What?

A: I'm not going to specify.

Q: I'm working on an explanatory, if we return to the adultery and fraternization just very briefly. The short hand for the problem that would be caused by these activities is always it effects good order and discipline. Could you restate how the private behavior of consenting adults affects good order and discipline just in clear, non technical language?

A: Both on the good order and discipline and on the adultery issue, it has to do with non-professional relationships that exist between individuals. I think anybody who's ever been in the military realizes that if there's a perception that individuals are getting favorable treatment because of an off-duty relationship, that can destroy unit cohesion, it can certainly affect morale. And it is for that reason that we constantly pay a lot of attention to just that kind of an issue. And that was the purpose that this whole study was launched, bearing in mind that we need to be very clear, we need to be consistent in the way that we apply these good order and discipline rules and regulations.

Q: We talked a lot about adultery before, but we didn't talk much about fraternization, which is what your last answer goes to a bit. As I understand it, the services have very, very different policies on that, which the Army allowing a great deal of non-professional relationships that would not be permissible in the other services. How do plan to address that?

A: I don't want to kind of salami slice or even preview what we're going to end up with in the future, but I can promise you that this issue of fraternization has been addressed by those who have been talking to a wide range of individuals over the past year and that when the final package is put together, we'll provide that to you. If you go back and look at the release that was put out on the 7th of June in 1997, and if you look at the transcript of the backgrounder that was done then, I think you get some sense of the extent to which the panel members were going to consult so that they could come to a fuller understanding of what the issues were and how military people in particular viewed this issue.

Q: Isn't the ultimate goal to come up with a system where there's equality for equal treatment across the DoD?

A: The overall goal is to ensure that we continue with the finest military in the world. The Secretary has said, on many occasions, that what he is looking for is a consistent application of the policy.

Q: Any indication when Iran might test the Shahab 3 again?

A: I have nothing for you on that.

Q: Can you take that?

A: I'm not even going to take that one.

Press: Thank you.

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