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Cohen and Bacon media availability en route to Manaus, Brazil

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
October 16, 2000

(Media availability en route to Manaus, Brazil. Also participating was Kenneth H. Bacon, assistant secretary of Defense for public affairs.)

Cohen: I'll just bring you up to date on what's happening over with the Cole. It has been stabilized. There is an amphibious ready group in the area now that consists of some three ships, the Tarawa, the Duluth, and one other...

Bacon: The Anchorage.

Cohen: And they will provide additional berthing capability for the teams that are over there now. It's been quite an influx of personnel, both military, Justice, FBI, Navy investigators, Seal teams, etc., and so there'll be additional berthing provided all of them should they need to use the ship.

The memorial service, as you know, is set for Wednesday. We'll be back in time, probably by 10:30 or 11 o'clock tomorrow night [Tuesday], in time for all of us to attend that. But basically, we are getting full cooperation from the Yemeni government. Everything that we have asked for they are now providing, according to the ambassador, and we expect them to continue to fully cooperate with the FBI and others who are now trying to track down the individuals, who they're associated with, [and] breaches of security in terms of what was set up, what was required, and what was not followed. If necessary, we hope to have an inquiry under way as soon as possible and will conclude it as soon as possible.

Q: Do you have anything concrete on the force of the blast or who might have done this, narrowing it in any way?

Cohen: We have not. We still need to look at all of the groups. A number have claimed responsibility. We're trying to evaluate their, number one, their association; number two, their capability; and number three, the opportunity to carry out an operation of this magnitude.

Q: If a foreign country is found to be behind the blast, will the United States take military action?

Cohen: We said we will take appropriate action when we determine who is responsible for it. I'd just leave it at that.

Q: Also, in retrospect now that a few days have gone by, have any warnings emerged retrospectively indicating that there was some sort of plan out there to attack?

Cohen: There are always warnings that we receive every day around the globe. We try to analyze those as they come in for their credibility, their specificity, or lack of it. All I can tell you today is that there was no indication that there was a specific plan against this ship.

Q: How about against ships in general, against possibly the U. S. forces?

Cohen: We have to make an assumption that when we're in a dangerous area, we have to take appropriate measures. So, I think I'd just leave it at that until we have more information.