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DoD News Briefing - ASD PA Clarke and Lt. Gen. Newbold

Presenters: Victoria Clarke, ASD PA
July 03, 2002 11:30 AM EDT

(Also participating was Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold, Director of Operations, Joint Chiefs of Staff)

Clarke: Good morning, everybody.

As we close in on the 4th of July and nearly one year since the attacks on September 11th, I thought we'd just reflect a little bit on what we've accomplished since then and, more importantly, how we got there, how we got these things done.

We've got a long way to go in the war on terrorism, including in Afghanistan, but we have made significant progress in the war on terrorism. We've made it harder for the al Qaeda to operate. We've helped Afghanistan get on its feet and head toward a long-term stability. It's a long road, but we're confident they will get there.

And some things that don't get as much attention as the war, for the obvious reasons. We've begun some very significant transformational changes around here, changes that are necessary to build a 21st century military that can adapt and can be ready and able to overcome the increasingly asymmetrical challenges we face.

And we've gotten there thanks to the hard work and the risk- taking and the dedication of nearly a million and a half people, men and women who volunteered to serve in the military at great risk and personal sacrifice. So, as we head into the 4th, I'd like to thank them and their families who support them so much, and thank people like General Newbold, who have dedicated their careers.

Sir?

Newbold: Thank you, Ms. Clarke, very sincerely.

We are involved, obviously, in tense operations day to day, but on occasion on the 4th of July, we have a little time to reflect, pause and not only look forward to things like transformation, but to look backward. And my personal expression of appreciation to the people who sacrifice to give us these freedoms, will be on our thoughts this weekend as we try to conduct day-to-day operations around the world and as we have people exposed and deployed around the world.

So, Happy Fourth to you all and to the people that protect our freedom.

Some updates just to throw out from the beginning. We have a joint U.S.-Afghan fact-finding team that's been on the ground about four hours at the site of the strike of the 1st of July, led by an Afghan colonel. They've just begun their inquiry, so it'll take some time for them to develop richness of detail to know precisely what happened. But we are providing all the support we can. And -- for example, we've had medical teams that have visited the hospitals around Kandahar over the past two days, offering any and all support -- not only medical doctors, but psychiatrists and other personnel to offer their support in any way they can. And I think that's the only update I want to provide now.

Clarke: Thank you, sir.

Charlie?

Q First, briefly, have you all received any report back from this team at all indicating they found bodies dead? I mean, the Pentagon has yet to acknowledge that people were killed here, only that you've found several injured, there are people in hospitals. Have you gotten a report from the team? Did they find dead bodies?

Clarke: Preface the general's answer just by saying they've only been there for about four hours. They really just got to the site about four hours ago.

Sir?

Newbold: And that's exactly what I would say, as well -- four hours. We don't have anything from them that's substantive, so -- what we do know, though, is that there are a total of 21 individuals in hospitals -- 17 in Kandahar, four in Bagram -- that may be associated with this strike. The latest information I have is none have life-threatening injuries, but all have been injured and are being treated.

Q: General, you opened by saying that you had a significant way to go in this war on terrorism, including in Afghanistan. The Brits, as I understand, are about to pull their forces out. Do you see any end in sight at all for the U.S. presence in Afghanistan? As witnessed by this action and tragedy this week, isn't this phase becoming more difficult of it if you're going be forced to look at twice, three, four times before you do this kind of strike, when you're trying to root out what's left of the Taliban and al Qaeda. Would you see any end in sight?

Clarke: I'd say two things: One, we've always said the war on terrorism is about a lot more than just Afghanistan. It's about more than one country. Al Qaeda alone, as we often say, is in 50 or 60 different countries. The road ahead in the war on terrorism includes working with countries like Yemen and the Philippines and Georgia to try to help combat terrorism in their backyards. So that is a very, very long road, and we're talking years, not months. Afghanistan -- I don't know anybody who has or should put a date certain or even estimate on when we think we'll be -- we will be out of Afghanistan. We'll be there as long as it takes. We won't be there any longer than is absolutely necessary.

We have also said that as things went along in Afghanistan, it likely would become harder. It would be become harder because you're going against the remaining pockets -- tend to be made up of people who are, as the secretary said, the dead-enders, who have got nothing to lose. It's very hard to find them. It is very hard to combat them. So we knew it would get very difficult as things went along.

Q: Is the idea to stay here until you've completely rooted the Taliban and al Qaeda out, or until the government there has the ability to carry on?

Clarke: I don't know if you can separate the two. We've got several objectives, and it involves very, very close coordination with the Afghan government to root out the remaining pockets of al Qaeda and Taliban, to help Afghanistan get up on its feet and achieve some long-term stability and security, so Afghanistan doesn't return to what it was, which is a free running field for the terrorists. So many of those things are related -- our humanitarian assistance, the civil support.

People look at those sometimes and say, "Well, what does that have to do with what you all are about? General Newbold can speak to it better than I can. There are very clear military objectives there. There are very clear objectives in terms of defending the American people, helping Afghanistan get going forward again, so it does not become a haven for these people.

Newbold: Yeah, that's right.

Clarke: Martha?

Q: Even though your team at just getting to the site where this supposedly occurred, you did have this medical team talking to the injured yesterday. Are those who your medical team have talked to, or those around them -- are the injuries consistent with an air attack? Do you know anything more from that visit yesterday?

Newbold: I'm getting my information through filters, of course, as it comes up. So the information I have is simply that we had teams -- medical teams there. They were dealing with the Afghan doctors and medical personnel who were at the hospital. So I would be surprised if they spent time talking to them --

Clarke: And I think they --

QThere are pictures of them talking and looking at the injuries and looking at X-rays.

Clarke: But I think --

QAre you saying they still don't know whether --

Clarke: Martha, I think their primary focus is to determine what kind of medical assistance is needed for those people, if anything. That's their primary --

Q (Off mike.)

Clarke: Sure, and they're -- but they're looking at the injuries to determine how can we treat these or how can we help the treatment of the injuries. I think that is their primary focus right now.

The only information we have back in terms of looking into what happened is, the team has gotten there. They know they have a lot of hard work ahead them. They want to talk to a lot of people. They've got more than one site to take a look at, so it'll take some time.

Q: Can I just clarify one more thing, also from yesterday? With the AC-130, General Pace said there were six individual sites. Were all those sites engaging aircraft? Were all those anti-aircraft batteries or weapons firing? Or were some of those targets pre-planned? And if some of them were pre-planned, then how many were firing?

Newbold: The information we have now is consistent with what General Pace told you, and that's that we had people on the ground who over the course of actually several weeks had been operating in the area and had been engaged on the ground and in the air by local forces. As was mentioned yesterday, this is an area of enormous sympathy for the Taliban and al Qaeda. Having engaged our forces and clearly establishing protective patrols, firing when we got closer and our forces were there on the day of the engagement, they were observed firing at our aircraft and were under control -- that is, our personnel observed them firing before these C-130's engaged.

Q: (Off mike.)

Newbold: Yes. But I would tell you that -- reinforce, rather. This is preliminary information. And frankly, our experience is that information develops only over time, and some of the information we get preliminarily is invariably inaccurate. I would rely on the fact-finding team to give us ground truth on this.

Q: There is a heavy reliance on this fact-finding team. I asked this yesterday, but I'll try it again. I mean, you keep on saying that you had people on the ground calling in these strikes, U.S. military. Are you not hearing back from them what happened? I mean, wouldn't they be able to distinguish between a wedding party and some anti-aircraft gun on the ground there when they're calling in the strikes?

Newbold: There are people on the ground who have good, detailed knowledge of the incidents that transpired, but that's why the fact-finding team is there. We have found that it's not generally productive for people like me in Washington to micro-manage that, because the results invariably are skewed as a result of that. There is a difference between firing that goes in celebration and clearly directed fire of a different caliber, different mix of munitions. And that's apparent to our crews. But the fact-finding team will piece all of this together, not only the U.S. forces and what they saw, but the Afghans on the ground. As you know, there were a number of Afghan forces with the U.S. military and, in fact, coalition forces. This is not just U.S. forces who were engaged in the operation. And with the local Afghans who were in the village. So, the cumulative results of all the interviews will probably give us a better perspective.

Q: Just to follow up. The U.S. military guys on the ground, do they say people are dead, believed to be dead, civilians? And secondly, I assume there are a number of enemy fighters dead if this was a successful --

Newbold: I -- Bret (sp), I haven't heard that people on the ground described casualties that occurred as a result of the strike. That's -- what I'm saying is, I haven't heard that. I don't know it. So --

Clarke: Let's go --

Q: Given the fact that the U.S. military has now seen only 21 and helped treat some of those 21 injured, is there any reason to believe these accounts that 40 civilians are dead and 100 are wounded?

Clarke: There isn't any reason to believe or disbelieve anything. There's a reason for the team that's on the ground, which includes us, the Afghans themselves, including the Afghan colonel who's running the team, the State Department personnel, to talk to all the appropriate people, visit all the appropriate sites. We just don't have enough information to believe or disbelieve anything at this point.

Q: And this is a heavily Pashtun area with known allegiances to the former Taliban leaders. Is there any suspicion that some of this information coming out of that region, the preliminary reports about civilian dead and injured, may be part of a larger disinformation campaign?

Clarke: I think it is way too soon to make any assumptions at all.

Eric, and then we'll come back to Pam.

Q: General Newbold, you mentioned that there had been engagements both on the ground and in the air over the last few days. General Pace talked about how the AC-130 had taken fire over the last several days. Can you talk a little bit more about what kind of ground engagements in this area have taken place? And was there actually a ground engagement that -- early that morning that precipitated this whole specific event?

Newbold: As you know, as we approach these operations which are literally happening every day over there, we do it with reconnaissance elements, coalition and U.S., who scout out the area and determine what they can before we conduct operations. In this area, as you say known to harbor sympathizers to al Qaeda and the Taliban, our reconnaissance patrols came upon local personnel, armed personnel -- or the armed personnel came upon them and engaged in firefights, exchanged fire, et cetera. I don't know if a ground action occurred on the day of the incident. It may be, but I have not heard that.

Q: Over what period of time did these firefights take place? And were there casualties on either side?

Newbold: Several weeks.

Q: So there'd be sporadic ground engagements over several weeks in this area that predate this specific event that we're now all focused on?

Newbold: Yes, that's correct. And as I think was pointed out yesterday, virtually every time an aircraft was flown over there, it was -- it had fire directed at it.

Q: Were there casualties on either side from these firefights?

Newbold: Yes, there were.

Q: American and --

Newbold: No American and coalition or Afghan army forces were casualty.

Q: But there were on the other side.

Newbold: We believe so.

Q: Any sense --

Clarke: Pam.

Q: Do you all have any indication from the patients that you've talked to or other information that there was a wedding celebration going on and they were in any proximity to the triple-A batteries?

Clarke: We don't have it.

Newbold: No.

Clarke: Again, I don't know if the people on the ground who were there primarily for the purpose of trying to determine any medical assistance is appropriate -- I don't know if they have it, but we don't have that information.

Q: Colonel --

Clarke: We'll come back.

Tom?

Q: Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz said yesterday that when the Taliban regime was overthrown, the Taliban and the al Qaeda had to go in different directions, with al Qaeda going more easterly to Pakistan, and the Taliban going up into this area. He said that this area's actually more Taliban than al Qaeda. If so, isn't the job of going after the remnants of Taliban something that really should be handled by either local Afghan forces, by the International Security Assistance Force? What is the U.S. military concern with remnants of Taliban who may not have any connection with al Qaeda at this point?

Newbold: It's a fair question, but as you all know, it's been discussed in here numerous times. U.S. and Afghan and coalition forces are engaged quite frequently by rocket attacks, rocket- propelled grenades, small-arms fire and ambushes. As you know, we've lost personnel to them. To the individual that's the subject of the ambush, it is a moot distinction whether they're Taliban or al Qaeda, both of which have as a pretty intense goal inflicting casualties on U.S. forces. Now I would tell you that the forces in this area on this operation were about 50-50 U.S. -- I'm sorry -- coalition and Afghan. And that proportion may shift as -- in different operations -- different parts of the country.

Q: Does that make this more of a force-protection mission, in a sense, than a counterterrorism mission?

Newbold: I'd say those two are probably --

Clarke: Well, I think it's so hard to see where one ends and the other begins. And the secretary has talked often about in the wake of the overthrow of the Taliban government, it gets harder and harder to distinguish between Taliban and al Qaeda. It certainly gets harder and harder to distinguish between their intent. Clearly, there are pockets of al Qaeda and Taliban who wish to do harm to us, who wish to do harm to the Afghan transitional government. And I think what's's really important is, whatever the threat is, the Afghan government and the coalition forces are pretty intimately involved in every step of it.

Barbara?

Q: General Newbold, can I just ask you to go back and clarify and make sure I understand a couple of points in what you were just saying to Eric? You said that you believe some of the injuries occurred in an exchange of ground fire, if I understood you correctly. Do you now believe that the four children who were initially medevaced out, with injuries, by U.S. forces sustained those injuries in some initial exchange of gunfire? And is it possible that they actually were injured inadvertently by U.S. forces?

And I'm also not clear why the subsequent injuries, the people who wound up having to drive to Kandahar city hospital, were not medevaced out by U.S. forces. Why did we not render assistance to those people?

Newbold: Two questions. In answer to the first, I probably wasn't clear enough. The casualties I referred to in the ground action were completely separate and distinct from any of the airstrikes that were conducted later on, preceded by a number of days. So I would disconnect those two.

QBut irrespective of that, do you believe the four children who were medevaced out by the U.S. military were injured in some sort of ground action?

Newbold: I don't know.

QYou believe that was a result of the air action.

Newbold: I -- (inaudible).

Clarke: I don't think we know at all. I think all we -- I don't think our information has changed much since last night, in which they were brought -- someone came to the U.S. military and said "These children are injured," and requested assistance, which was then given.

QAnd why were the other people not assisted? Why did we not medevac the other injured?

Newbold: I can't really answer that. I could speculate, but that's probably not useful. I can find out. But --

Clarke: I don't even -- Barbara, I'm not sure we even know how they were transported, how they got to the hospital. We can --

QThey drove.

Clarke: We can check on that.

Q (Off mike.)

QCan I just -- I'm sorry.

Clarke: Let Barbara finish up, and then we'll come back.

QWell, they did drive, but -- I'm sorry, I apologize.

The other thing I did want to ask, what challenge faces the U.S. and the Afghan investigation team in actually determining the number of people that died? Since this is a Muslim, Islamic area, of course they bury their dead as quickly as they possibly can. Do you have some notion that it may be difficult for you to ever determine how many people died? Are you simply going to have to accept the word of the people in the community?

Newbold: I'm not sure that our prime concern will be the exact number, but I would also suspect we will defer to the Afghans, with their greater sensitivity and connection to the -- their own people, to determine that. So I suspect that that will be their principal objective and not ours, although we're concerned about any of the casualties. I think determining whether they were buried or not will probably be up to the Afghans.

QGeneral, just a quick follow-up. Does the United States routinely take injured Afghans? If an Afghan showed up and said, "I'm injured," would you routinely take them?

Clarke: I don't know what you mean by "routinely," but we often have. There have been many, many, many, many instances in which U.S. military personnel -- medical personnel have helped wounded Afghans, including civilians; have assisted people at all levels, including journalists.

Newbold: And as you know, we would treat Taliban or al Qaeda if they were wounded and came into our hands.

Clarke: Jim?

QThere was an attack yesterday on some of the soldiers who were visiting one of the hospitals in Kandahar. Do you know anything about who was behind that? And is there a concern that, you know, the emotions raised by this incident may lead to revenge attacks on U.S. troops?

Newbold: The team that was ambushed had been in Kandahar to the hospital, where the injured were being treated. They were returning back to their base when they were ambushed. The one Army lieutenant was shot in the heel as a result of that. The rest of that team returned today to offer their assistance again. We do not know who conducted the ambush, and --

Clarke: We don't know if it was related to anything.

Newbold: No.

QDo you know whether it was professionally done? I mean --

Newbold: No, we don't. No, we don't.

Clarke: Otto?

Q: Let me take you back to an incident that -- of which more should be known. Last week the Central Command gave a briefing on that friendly fire incident involving the Canadians. They refused to deal with the question of whether the pilots knew that the live-fire exercise was under way. The Canadian report was very clear that the pilots did not know. And the Central Command refused to deal with the question of whether any administrative or procedural changes were being made to correct that kind of deficiency.

You know, the question -- you know, the pilots are now being -- probably going to be put on trial, for their part, but there doesn't seem to be any action being taken to correct the command deficiencies that let those guys fly over a live-fire exercise without knowing it was there. How -- what's going on as far as procedural effect in the Central Command area?

Clarke: Let me try, and you can clean it up.

I didn't see all of the briefing, so I apologize. I'm not as up to speed on it as you are. But I think we have to be very, very careful about talking too much about what may or may not happen with the pilots, for the obvious reasons, because of the next phase of the action here. So, not talking about that particular incident, but I know that we are constantly learning lessons and we're constantly looking at our procedures on a daily, weekly basis, to see how can we improve them, how can we tighten them up, how can we make them as effective as possible? So, I'm going to try to make a separation between this particular incident and the general course of action, which is we are always looking at procedures. Sometimes you hear about it, sometimes you don't, but we are always looking to improve the procedures so people can be as effective as possible.

Newbold: I can tell you that they are looking at that with some intensity, not only the procedures they had in place at the time, but improving them, as Ms. Clarke said. But I'm just making the answer more specific to your question, and that is, they are very definitely looking [into that].

Q: The question is -- again, Central Command wouldn't deal with the question of whether anybody above the rank of the two pilots, other than their immediate unit, is being subject to any scrutiny. You know, I mean, there is -- it appeared to be a command -- I don't want to say failure, but there was a gap in their procedures. Is anybody above the particular squadron being looked at as part of the problem here?

Clarke: Otto, let me -- let us take that one and see what we can find out for you. My understanding is that we have to be very careful about discussion of some of those issues because of the impact it might have on the next phase of this. So, we will take it and see if we can follow up for you.

Q: To go back to the operation -- (inaudible) -- pilots. General, I believe you said that there had been people in that region, coalition forces in that region, for weeks and they had been involved in engagements. Were there any detainees taken from that area, either in the last few days or in this recent period that you've been referring to? And secondly, yesterday, I asked General Pace, and he said he'd look into this. Why was it decided to bomb this particular cave complex and bunker, since that had not been done for some time?

Newbold: Two questions. The first one on -- I'm sorry, the first one?

Clarke: Detainees.

Newbold: Detainees. Yes, there were some detainees in the area. But they're only detainees. That means they are screened and vetted. That -- there's no specific tie to anything as of right now.

Q: Any number?

Newbold: There is a number. I don't have it for you right now. I remember recording the information -- mentally recorded as it came through.

Why were the caves bombed? The caves were bombed because they had fighting emplacements outside of them. They were not occupied, but they represented a strong point which the -- let's call them the Taliban -- individuals could man and therefore greatly threaten our forces. And the action was intended to denude the area of that potential.

Q: General, do you know if those caves had been searched or merely observed?

Newbold: I don't know, but --

Clarke: I don't know.

Q: General, were those emplacements recently built or did they look like they'd been there for a while?

Newbold: I couldn't answer that, Eric. I really don't know.

Q: Point of clarification: Were those detainees you talked about taken into custody in the operation preceding Monday's incidents, or were they taken into custody in connection with Monday's incident?

Newbold: In connection with Monday's incident.

Q: Does the military have any kind of compensation policy for civilian victims?

Clarke: There are policies, and there are procedures, but it's just too soon to start saying what might or might not take place.

Q: (Off mike) -- General, could you say what there are?

Clarke: There are different processes in place, and we work, obviously, with people on the ground. We work with the State Department often. I don't have details on it. But I just -- I want to cut it off and say it's too soon to start talking about those sorts of things.

Yes.

Q: General Newbold, could you elaborate any on the medical teams that went in? You said they had gone into offer assistance. Do you know if they've actually been able to provide any assistance? And particularly, you said there were psychological teams. What are they trying to accomplish there? How are they being received by the local population?

Newbold: I can only -- I can answer only part of your question. They went in yesterday to offer assistance, and they had physicians, as well as psychiatrists. The Afghan officials assured them that they had all that they needed to handle the casualties at that time. Why the psychiatrists go -- that's the same reason that they would offer support to people involved in the Pentagon or World Trade Center strikes.

Q; They're going to the hospitals, not to the area where the incident occurred?

Newbold: To the hospitals, at that point. They returned again today, and I don't know whether they actively participated or not -- the medical team.

Q: (Off mike) -- military medical personnel?

Newbold: Yes.

Q: Out of -- do you know where they're out of?

Newbold: No, I don't, to tell you the truth.

Clarke: Jim?

Q: Is there any sort of medical evacuation under way now from the region?

Newbold: Not to my knowledge.

Q: On the day of the incident, a U.S. military spokesman at Bagram said that if these enemy forces wish to put their gun emplacements on top of buildings, then they are the ones putting civilians at risk. Was he speaking from direct knowledge that in fact some of those AAA guns were on top of buildings in these compounds that were struck? Do you know?

Clarke: I don't --

Newbold: I think the fact-finding team is going to verify information. I can tell you that the point is a valid one. But my experience is that to rely on the first or second reports you receive is probably not useful or productive. And --

Clarke: But -- and I would just add: separate completely from this incident, because it's too soon to start saying, "This is what happened" or "That's what's happened." But it is not unusual for the al Qaeda or the Taliban to place weapons and ammunition and fighters in areas where people -- civilians are living, around schools, areas like that. That is not unusual. Complete separation between what we know they have done in the past and this incident, though.

Newbold: I would add to that one point. A coalition reconnaissance element found a cache near this site, Deh Rawood, very recently, in the past couple of days. It included 15 tons of munitions, including anti-aircraft weapons. And that's a lot of ammunition. But it's symptomatic of the area and the capabilities that they have.

Clarke: Mm-hmm. Let's go -- we're going to go way in the back --

Q: (Off mike.)

Clarke: Wait. We're going to go way in the back, then come back up here, and we're going to start winding up here, because General Newbold doesn't want to spend the rest of his remaining weeks in the briefing room.

Newbold: Bless you --

Clarke: Yes, sir?

Q: What you're describing here is a pretty significant -- it's seems like there's a pretty significant presence here of potential enemy. I mean, is there anything to indicate this may be a build-up along the lines of that that preceded Anaconda?

Clarke: Everybody has different definitions of words like "significant" and "buildup." I just think it's very much in keeping with the kinds of things we thought would happen and the kinds of things that have been happening. Pockets -- and everybody has different definitions of "pockets."

Sir, you might want to add on.

Newbold: No, that's pretty accurate. Ms. Clarke said earlier this is the type of operation that occurs virtually every day. Sometimes we locate these pockets, sometimes we don't. But it is a necessary part of the task to check out all the pockets, all the intelligence we receive, to track it down because, while we've defeated the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, we haven't destroyed them. And we're doing that on behalf of the Afghan government.

Clarke: Right here.

Q; It sounds as though these AAA guns can be mobile. Do you know if the six sites targeted by the AC-130 were attacking sites that had very recently been threatening U.S. planes, or had it been over the several weeks you described?

Newbold: Information we have is they had very recently been threatening U.S. aircraft.

Q: Like in the last 24 hours?

Newbold: Yes. And they were stationary.

Clarke: Let's make Tony the last question.

Q: I have a non-Afghan question.

Clarke: Okay.

Q: Just one -- when exactly was --

Q: Wait. Go ahead.

Q: (Off mike.)

Clarke: When was the 15-ton cache found?

Newbold: It was -- I believe it was found yesterday. I may be wrong; it may have been on the 1st.

Q: (Off mike.)

Newbold: It might have been on the 1st. I heard about it yesterday, so it might have been on the 1st.

Q: In the vicinity of one of the six sites that have been struck.

Newbold: It was about 10 miles away from the site. But that doesn't mean it was disconnected, as you can imagine.

Clarke: Tony?

Q; The secretary yesterday was asked about WorldCom and the potential ripple effect of their legal problems on Pentagon operations. He gave a general answer. I have a specific question. They were recently awarded a $450 million contract for the Defense Research Engineering Network. At this point, is the Pentagon actively reviewing whether to suspend that award in light of the Securities and Exchange Commission fraud allegations?

Clarke: I'm not aware of anything like that. I'm happy to take it, but I'm not aware of anything like that.

Q: Would you take it?

Clarke: Sure.

Q: Okay.

Clarke: Okay.

Q: I've got one more, then.

Clarke: One more. (Laughter.) Tony was unfulfilled on that one.

Q: You have the Afghan foreign minister definitively saying 40 dead, 100 injured. You have, based on those reports, the White House releasing a statement last night expressing the president's sorrow for the loss of innocent lives. Yet, from this podium, you haven't acknowledged any casualties, any fatalities or the possibility that any civilians died. Can you do that?

Clarke: I -- I'd push back slightly on what you said. I mean, the secretary yesterday said that we deeply regret harm to any innocent civilian or the death of any innocent civilian. You know, I think people in this building, I think people in this country understand very, very well what it's like to have friends and relatives killed. And I think we take that very seriously, and I think we've gone to some great lengths to express our sorrow at anything like that happening. We have to be very, very responsible about how we handle this information. We have to be very, very responsible about numbers because they have meaning and impact. So, we're just trying to be very, very cautious about the numbers. And we are trying to --

Q: (Off mike) -- believe that civilians died in this --

Clarke: We just don't know. We just don't know.

Thank you. Wait, this just in.

Okay, we have an update on the Defense Research Engineering Network contract. It's still valid for another two years. No immediate mission impact, if WorldCom were unable to carry out the DREN. And we're looking -- we've got a legal analysis underway.

Q: Of what?

Q: A legal analysis of whether to suspend them or not?

Clarke: Analysis of the contract, I assume, but we will triple-check that.

Okay. Thanks, everybody. Happy Fourth of July!

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