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DoD News Briefing - Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA

Presenters: Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA
January 23, 2001 1:30 PM EDT

Tuesday, January 23, 2001 - 1:30 p.m. EST

Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

Just to bring you up to date real quickly on our efforts to assist the people and the government of El Salvador -- a quick recap, I believe -- we still have four helicopters there, one H-47 and three H-60s. And over the course of the time that they have been assisting there in country, they've moved about 152 tons of relief supplies and about 550 people. These would be doctors, engineers, members of assessment teams that were going out to the affected areas to take a look as to how best they can be helped. And over the course of their stay, those were some of the numbers that they have moved.

Now these assets -- and we're talking about 30 people, total -- four airframes, four helicopters, and about 30 people, so pretty small numbers, but a significant impact, I think, on that terrible situation there. These assets will be redeploying tomorrow, back to Honduras -- they came from Joint Task Force Bravo down there in Honduras -- because other countries have now brought their own assets to the scene. Relief work certainly continues, but there are other helicopter assets and people that have now arrived to further assist.

The commander in chief of the Southern Command, General Pace, was down in El Salvador a few days ago, talking to the ambassador and our country team there for more long-range efforts as to how we might further assist downstream the people and the government of El Salvador to recover from that earthquake. But those talks continue. I just wanted to bring you up on those numbers before those assets redeployed.

And with that, I'll take your questions. Charlie?

Q: Craig, what concrete evidence does the United States have that Iraq has reconstituted the ability to build weapons of mass destruction? Or is this supposition --

Quigley: Well, we have seen their reconstitution of some of the infrastructure that existed prior to some of our attacks in December of 1998, Desert Fox. But what -- and that we know, that some of the infrastructure has been replaced. What we don't know, Charlie, is what's going on in those facilities. And that is a cause for concern to us, given Saddam Hussein's past track record of obfuscation and denial of his programs of WMD. So we cannot say with certainty that we know exactly what's going on inside those facilities that we have seen, but it is a matter of concern to us.

Q: Could you say what percentage of the infrastructure's been rebuilt?

Quigley: I don't know.

Q: Craig, this reconstruction effort, if you want to call it reconstruction in the sense of rebuilding buildings that were bombed, has been going on and it's been acknowledged it's been going on for at least a couple of years -- well, a couple of years. And what I'm wondering is in what respect has the Iraqi effort advanced more recently, and in what respects, other than building buildings? Is there some additional knowledge about other aspects of their effort in this?

Quigley: No. I don't think our knowledge of the activities inside those facilities is any greater than it was before. That doesn't erase our concern about that lack of knowledge. I mean, you're referring to our comments in the PTR report that was released a couple of weeks ago. We had similar comments in a report in the fall of '99, I believe, in an annual defense report to the Congress. So it's something that we have stated as a concern for a considerable period of time. And that remains true today. [The Proliferation: Threat and Response (PTR) report is on DefenseLINK at http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2001/b01102001_bt010-01.html ]

Q: Is there additional evidence then, or is it the same evidence that you've had?

Quigley: It's -- I guess it's the lack of knowledge that is the part that is of concern to us, given -- again, given his past track record in this regard and knowing full well that there was a program that existed there prior to the Gulf War. Now, he has commitments, international commitments to keep, stemming from the U.N. Security Council resolutions after the Gulf War. We call upon him to hold -- to keep those commitments and to allow our concern to be replaced by knowledge of what is going on inside those facilities. So far he has not been willing to do that, and that will remain an issue of concern for us.

Q: Has the construction accelerated at all in recent --

Quigley: No, I don't think so, Charlie. No.


Q: Those buildings that were targeted in 1998, as I recall, were limited to delivery system kinds of places, aeronautics, manufacturing facilities, missile repair things, things like that. They -- and correct me if I'm wrong, they weren't even suspected WMD production facilities, were they? And the most recent reports have been talking about, I think, other facilities, not the ones that were bombed, but other ones that --

Quigley: I'd have to go back and check the record from that timeframe, Chris. That's not my understanding. But I would have to go back and doublecheck that. I mean, there are plausible explanations that the Iraqi authorities have given for the use of these facilities. I think you've seen these reports in the press over the past couple -- several days. On the one hand, it's a manufacturer of brake fluid in one facility and on the other is a manufacturer of chlorine, I believe, which would be used in water purification. Both of those are, indeed, plausible explanations for the uses of these facilities.

But I just go back to what I said earlier. We just have no particular confidence in his truthfulness in the assurances that he is giving the international community as to what activity is going on in those facilities. And given his past track record, it will remain an issue of concern for us.

Q: Craig, my recollection of that at the time was that the Pentagon said flatly, explicitly, that it tried not to destroy places where it suspected -- thought that weapons of mass destruction might be being built, because it didn't want to take the chance of spreading, creating some kind of catastrophe.

Quigley: Again, I'd have to go back and check the record on that. I seem to remember something along those lines, as well, Charlie, but I'd have to go back and check.

Q: Well, was the castor bean place and the chlorine place, were they ever bombed?

Quigley: I believe those are both rebuilt facilities, I believe.


Q: I have a question about the secretary of Defense meeting with the chiefs of staff of the services today. Can you give us any details at all about the context of the meeting in the tank today, and what kinds of issues were brought up?

Quigley: Yeah, I sure can. He met earlier today, late this morning, for a little over an hour, I believe, with the chairman, the vice chairman, and the four service chiefs in the tank. It was an issue largely on the topic of -- or, was a meeting largely on the topic of transformation. The secretary was interested in hearing the perspectives and the viewpoints of the service chiefs and the chairman and the vice chairman, but particularly the services chiefs, on how they viewed transformation efforts ongoing today within their services.

And there was a good exchange of views on that, as well as -- this was the first opportunity for the secretary to sit down with the service chiefs, so you could also describe it as an opportunity for that group to get together for what will be the first of a series of meetings over time.

Q: In a similar vein, do you know if he has gotten a briefing yet on the V-22 and the ongoings of that program or if there is one scheduled to be given to him sometime soon?

Quigley: I don't believe he's -- let me hit the high points, if I could, of Secretary Rumsfeld's activities yesterday and today as well, to give you a sense of how he has been spending his time yesterday and today so far.

Both days he started off the morning with a secure conference call, as he will most mornings, with Secretary Powell and Dr. Rice. That was followed, again, yesterday and today by a meeting with Deputy Secretary Rudy de Leon, the chairman, and the vice-chairman. These meetings are spent on operational updates and intelligence updates to the secretary. There was a senior staff meeting yesterday morning with the various individuals who have stayed on from the previous administration for a certain amount of time or those that are performing an acting role within the leadership of the Defense Department.

He also had a security briefing then, yesterday, and this is about physical security, and this included Secretary Rumsfeld. It was a briefing to his entire front office staff about the importance that they all need to place on physical security.

There was also an ethics and standards of conduct briefing given to Secretary Rumsfeld. He wanted to do that specifically on the first day in office. And late in the day, he met with the director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, and a couple of other senior members of the Central Intelligence Agency on intelligence matters.

Today again the secure phone call first thing in the morning, the meeting with the deputy secretary, the chairman and the vice chairman. The service chiefs session I mentioned. This afternoon he's got a security computer briefing as it relates to security, on use of classified hard drives, classified systems and whatnot, and what's appropriate and what's not appropriate for use in that regard.

And then, very importantly, late this afternoon he's got a meeting with the senior enlisted advisers of each of the services. And again, this is something that Secretary Rumsfeld intends to do on a periodic basis, to hear it from them as to what's on the minds of servicemen and women around the world, what's important to them as seen through the eyes of those senior enlisted advisers to their respective services. And then if everything works out his way, he'll end the day in the POAC late today or early in the evening. And that's where he's been spending his time in the first two days.

Q: The POAC?

Quigley: No, all the above. (Laughter.) All the above. All the above.

Q: Has he discussed the budget at all and his plans for the --

Quigley: He has discussed the budget, not in a focused budget briefing as you would think of, but the budget and intelligence issues as topics of overall interest; and of course the transformation topic also, as I mentioned, in his conversations in the tank with the service chiefs, are all very important topics to him and ones on which he'll be focusing soon, but I don't think it's been that focused effort so far.


Q: Has he been briefed on the JAGMAN report on the Cole?

Quigley: I'm sorry?

Q: Has he been briefed on the JAGMAN report on the Cole?

Quigley: Not that I'm aware of.


Q: To what extent have operations at the Pentagon slowed down or been put on hold because of the vacancies in many of the key positions that have yet to be filled? And has that meant that things have had to be postponed or placed on hold? Is it having an effect on the Pentagon's operations?

Quigley: Oh, I think we've been in a very good position where we're very fortunate to have had invitations extended to several of the senior experienced political appointees from the Clinton administration have been asked to stay on for a period of time. Where that has not been the case in the various sections of the DoD staff, there are career Civil Service individuals that are staying on or uniformed personnel who are staying on. So that we're in the very favorable position of having people at every level who have quite a bit of experience in how their particular piece of the DOD staff works to carry on, I think, very smartly. I'll just list a couple of examples.

Deputy Secretary Rudy de Leon was asked to stay on for a while, until a new deputy secretary has been nominated, confirmed and has a chance for some sort of a modest turnover with him. The former principal deputy assistant secretary in the Acquisition and Technology world, Dave Oliver, again, an experienced individual from the previous administration, is the acting under secretary for Acquisition Technology and Logistics. So you've got a lot of experience, a lot of corporate memory, if you will, in all of the key positions within the staff.

Q: When can we expect that there will be some announcements or nominations of top Pentagon officials to fill out some of these positions?

Quigley: Well, I think most of the announcements that you'd be interested in, Jamie, you should look for those coming from the White House, of course. Those would be announced by the president or his office, certainly, and we would take it from there.

Q: Does he have a missile defense briefing scheduled any time soon? And can you tell us about preparations for the Munich Conference and what his message will be there?

Quigley: The first one first. I have not seen a briefing on national missile defense on his calendar so far. As I'm sure you all are aware, that is a topic with which he's very familiar from his past experiences leading the commission, and it's a subject he's very well versed in. But he wants to make sure that he has a thorough understanding of the current state of play of the program, as it exists today, that we have in place. And as I say, I have not seen that on his calendar yet, but I know that will be another topic near-term interest to him.

Q: What --

Quigley: And Pam, what was the second part? I'm sorry.

Q: Munich, the Wehrkunde --

Quigley: Wehrkunde conference coming up --

Q: Is there -- are folks meeting about that, and is he crafting a message that he's going to bring? Is he going to do an ABM-NMD --

Quigley: Well, I know part of that is true, in the sense that the preparation and read-ahead materials and whatnot are in fact being prepared. But I don't think he has settled on what message he wants to send while he's there yet, and would probably want to share that privately, I'm sure, with the various ministers of defense or to the assembled group.

Q: Craig, was there a message that he conveyed in his meeting with the senior staff about what his objectives are, what he thinks is most important?

Quigley: No, not yet. I think that yesterday and today, other than the obvious topics that we've discussed here in the last few minutes, it's more of a process of putting in the organization and the structure and the process that he wants to put in place, that he feels would be the best, most efficient way to move information, make decisions, and have a structure put in place that he's comfortable with and feel would serve him best.


Q: Craig, you mentioned earlier the computer security.

Quigley: Right.

Q: Despite the fact that John Deutch has been forgiven his sins, when can we expect a report on the IG's investigation on any damage that was caused by carrying those --

Quigley: Right. Well, the -- your point is well taken. That has not slowed down our effort. We are very nearly done with the damage assessment portion of that whole affair. As you know, we released the IG report, gosh, a couple -- three months ago, I want to say. And we are very, very close to being done on the damage assessment part, and we would release that publicly as much as the classification levels would allow us to do. I would look for that in just another week or so.

Q: Craig, what are the emerging findings of the damage assessment? Can you share those?

Quigley: Not until we release it, no.

Q: Rudy de Leon last week issued a memo on January 8th, telling the Pentagon to destroy the hard drives of all laptops that they donate or they get rid of, thus hurting, I think, a program that's been going on at the universities in the past. Bacon, back in November, talked about how it was not -- probably not a good thing to do because it would hurt universities. Can you give a sense of the rationale for why they took this fairly -- it seems like it would be a draconian step to destroy the hard drives?

Quigley: Well, I think the deputy secretary's memo pretty much speaks for itself. I mean, this is an area that is changing so fast, Tony. You can move so much more information from computer to computer via networks that were just unheard of just a few years ago with great speed and great ease. That's both good news and bad news.

The new directive that the deputy secretary signed just a few days ago, I think takes advantage of the realization that there is indeed a change going on. And we would like to help, and indeed we did. The fiscal years just ended. We've turned over tens of thousands of pieces of computer-related equipment to schools and other institutes of learning and things of that sort across the country. And that's certainly a worthwhile effort that we all should support. But we've got to do what we've got to do to make sure that those computer hard drives, in this case, contain no classified or business- sensitive information that could inadvertently do harm.

Q: But those computers you turned over -- the tens of thousands -- did those have the hard drives destroyed?

Quigley: No, they were wiped. They were wiped, yes. Well, if it was a classified -- if it was a system that had carried classified information, then the computer hard drives have been destroyed.

What's new here is the expansion of the directive to incorporate the unclassified computer systems. But again, these were stuff that's hooked up by network to many other computers. And it's just a realization that you just want to make double sure that there's none of -- the information like I indicated is inadvertently released.

Now, we haven't worked our way through how we coordinate this new policy of destroying all hard drives and still be true to the spirit of donation activities to educational institutions around the country.

We're still working our way through that.

Q: Yeah, this -- (inaudible) -- this is a direct legacy of Deutch's security lapses?

Quigley: I'd say it's broader than that. I would say it's a reflection of the changing ability of what you can do with computers, and the fact that so much information is moved around by people today so quickly that you had better be -- you'd better err on the conservative side if you are going to make an error, and just make sure that not only classified information, but also business-sensitive, source selection-sensitive information that may not be classified, but it sure would have an impact if it would get out there inadvertently into the wrong hangs. That's the emphasis.

Q: (Inaudible.)

Quigley: I'm sorry?

Q: But this case prompted it. You wouldn't have done this without the IG reports, the CIA and the DOD, would you have?

Quigley: I don't know. It's a process -- I think we would. I would just say that it's a process that's broader than just the relationship with Dr. Deutch.

Q: I have a follow-up on this. Did the White House ask the Pentagon for any kind of draft of the damage assessment before this charitable pardon last week?

Quigley: Not that I'm aware of, no.


Q: Has Secretary Rumsfeld received a briefing on Plan Colombia, and has the transition of administrations at all affected the pace of training, of U.S. training down there of Colombian military units?

Quigley: I do not believe that he has received a Plan Colombia brief since he was sworn in Saturday evening. If he did, and I guess this would go for other topics that we've discussed here as well, prior to that, just to get an up-to-speed, a kind of an early up-to-speed, I'm not sure. But I have not seen it on his calendar since he was sworn in Saturday night.

Q: The Los Angeles Times reports this morning that Iraq is now smuggling, through a pipeline that is connected to Syria, about $2 million dollars a day in oil. And it's something that I guess the Clinton administration has known about, and now this administration has it on their platter. Does the Pentagon have any thoughts about this massive -- it has now become Saddam Hussein's number one source of illegal or illicit revenue, as this oil flows through Syria. Any thoughts on what you plan to do about it? If nothing, just sit and --

Quigley: I think the effort -- I'm aware of the reports that you're referring to, but I think the efforts of the government at this point, at least, are diplomatic in nature and not military.

Q: So you've filed a protest or something?

Quigley: We have not. I -- perhaps the State Department has; I'm not sure.

Q: And since we're out in that neck of the woods, there was a hijacking this morning involving Ambassador Bodine in Yemen. Does the Defense Department sometimes provide U.S. ambassadors with transportation if the threat condition is high in their countries, or is that something that is beyond the purview of the Defense Department?

Quigley: We have done that before, but it's not done as a matter of course. If an ambassador checks the security situation in the country to which they are assigned and really believes that that is an important step that must be taken to travel, then he or she would make that request known, probably through their own staff to the Defense Department, and we'd do our best. But that's always something that we would look to the ambassador to make that call. And again, it's not something that we routinely provide. But we would try to help if the ambassador felt that that was necessary.

Q: Was there any DoD involvement in that incident at all today?

Quigley: No.

Q: Nothing whatsoever?

Quigley: Well, you had a --

Q: There was a defense attache on the plane.

Quigley: Yes, that's what I was going to say. You had a defense attache among the five members of her staff that were on that plane. General Franks was in the region to meet with the president of Yemen. So, peripherally, I guess. If I was the defense attache, I'd say directly. (Laughter.)

Q: Or if you were General Franks. What was the nature of his meeting? And this is the first time he's been back, I guess, for an official visit. Is the United States trying to reestablish the same relationship it had prior to the Cole bombing? Where are we in terms of dealing with Yemen harbor and American warships?

Quigley: Well, General Franks specifically was in the region, in his area of responsibility, to make a visit to several of the nations within his area of responsibility. Today it was to be the president of Yemen and meet with the country team and Ambassador Bodine and others. But it's not the only purpose of his visit there.

Q: And he met with the president of Yemen. So where does the U.S.-Yemeni relationship stand in terms of American warships refueling there, security in the harbor? Do you have any feel for what is going on?

Quigley: I don't have a feedback from his meeting with the president today as far as topics discussed or things of that sort. And I know we have not yet made any decisions as to follow-on fueling stops or other interaction in the port there in Aden.


Q: Craig, these major recent brush fires on depleted uranium -- (off mike) -- forest fire on plutonium. Has the United States provided any information on plutonium to these countries in the past couple of days, or have you moved to kind of stem this?

Quigley: Well, over the past several days -- I don't know about a couple of days, but little bit further back than that, yes is the answer to your question.

NATO has set up this ad hoc committee on depleted uranium, and its charter is intended to be a body through which information is provided and then disseminated to all 19 of the NATO nations so they can have a common database of understanding and all member nations have access to the same information at relatively the same amount of time.

So I know we sent two people over about a week and a half ago, I want to say, to brief that group, which was brand new at the time, on some of our studies on the impacts on health and the environment of depleted uranium. We have subsequently provided information, as best we understand it, on the presence of plutonium and other transuranics in the depleted uranium products themselves. And again, the whole purpose here would be to provide that information and have the committee on depleted uranium get that information out to all of our allies more or less simultaneously.

Q: You say you've since provided the information on plutonium. How and when and where?

Quigley: It was both telephonically and in -- I don't know if it was mailed or faxed or somehow sent to that body to provide to them, Charlie. I'm not sure.

Q: This is in Mons or in Brussels?

Quigley: I'm not sure on that one either. Let me check. I'm not sure where they have actually set up shop.

Q: Admiral, does the presence of these transuranic or trace amounts of various isotopes present any health hazard, according to the scientific knowledge that you -- scientific data that you have available to you?

Quigley: Yeah, that's -- obviously, that's the key question, Jamie. And we have seen nothing in our studies that would indicate that this has more than an insignificant amount of impact on either personal health or the environment. It is just incredibly small quantities here we're talking about in the depleted uranium products, both the armor and the munitions themselves. And the presence of these transuranics we just see as having no significant impact on either of those two subjects.

Q: Well, of course critics claim that only an incredibly, incredibly small amount of this could kill somebody.

Quigley: Well, let me read you a number that certainly made an impact on me, Charlie. I think it was really something. If you would inhale one-millionth of an ounce of depleted uranium that contained levels of plutonium found in our studies, this would result in you inhaling one-twenty-third of a quadrillionth of a gram of plutonium, corresponding to an estimated increase in fatal cancer risk of about one in 13 trillion. And to me, that -- I thought those figures were very powerful.

Q: Where do those come from?

Quigley: The source of that -- (laughter) --

Q: (Off mike.)

Quigley: -- well, again, this is some of the studies that we have done and have provided to this ad hoc committee that NATO has set up on the impact of having the plutonium -- trace elements of plutonium in the depleted uranium.


Q: I thought when Ken Bacon briefed this before, that there was sort of a mystery of how these transuranic elements even got in the stuff, because the normal way it was supposed to be made and processed --

Quigley: Right.

Q: -- it shouldn't be there. So have you gotten any --

Quigley: Yes. We've taken a look at that since Ken briefed on that topic, and you produce depleted uranium -- it is a by-product of the enrichment process, and you have two streams of uranium that are produced. One is the enriched version that goes into nuclear reactors and the like, and this is then the depleted, which is, you know, less than the regular uranium or the enriched that goes to the reactor fuel.

The plants that produced depleted uranium were in use from the 1950s to the 1970s. And in those plants we found trace elements in the equipment itself that would have produced these trace elements in the depleted uranium as it was processed through those plants. So the source of the contamination, as best we understand it now, were the plants themselves that produced the depleted uranium during that 20- some-year time frame when the DU was produced. So that's where we think it came --

Q: So the equipment itself was contaminated?

Quigley: Yes. And that goes to another use of those plants, which was the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. And that, we think, was the source of some of the transuranics into the equipment, which was then used to process depleted uranium and picked up some of those trace elements in the minute quantities we're talking about.

Q: Is that also the case for the U-236 that was found?

Quigley: I don't know. Let me check on that one. [Yes.]

Q: When you make munitions out of DU or armor out of DU now, are you depending on stores that were produced during this period, '50s through the '70s?

Quigley: Correct.

Q: So this will continue to -- you'll continue to have trace elements of this stuff in the new -- (off mike)?

Quigley: Right. Right. We are not producing new depleted uranium and have not for some time.

Q: Are the Germans or anyone else asking you to stop storing depleted uranium munitions or other equipment in their country while this is going on?

Quigley: Not that I'm aware of, no.


Q: Is this exhausted -- this subject?

Quigley: Well, I was going to say, any other DU?

Q: Well, are you looking at the DU stockpiles now -- the weapons, the armor and so on, to see whether it's in line with where it was supposed to be, where it was expected to be, taking a look at the U.S. inventory?

Quigley: We've tested the DU used in the manufacture of the armor. And that was the source of the data from these studies that Tony was asking about a minute ago on the existence of the trace elements of some of these transuranics.

We don't have any reason to suspect that the munitions would give us different figures from the armor because it all came from the same depleted uranium which came from the same plants that produced it 20-some-odd years ago -- 30-some-odd years ago.

So the testing -- we're not doing any new testing. It's been studied very thoroughly with the data pretty well understood. The source question was one that we had to "walk that cat back" and see if we could find that. And we feel comfortable that that was the source.

Q: And in terms of the armor, is DU actually used in the production of armor itself, I mean does M-1 tank armor have DU in it or is this added on as part of the reactive armor package?

Quigley: Choice two: added on as part of the reactive armor package -- very effective in protecting our armored vehicles from kinetic energy rounds to take them out. [Clarification: depleted uranium in M-1 tanks is affixed in two ways: (1) Some is contained in plates that are permanently affixed to the tank. (2) Some is contained in protective "skirts" near the tracks, which can be removed and exchanged when damaged.]

Q: So it's not inherent to the armor itself --

Quigley: Correct.

Q: -- but in the production of the tank and other armored vehicles?

Quigley: Correct. It's used in different types of munitions. As you know, not only the antitank round but also 30mm cannon rounds. The Navy uses depleted uranium for the Phalanx Close-in Weapons System -- different ballistics, different size, but it is still depleted uranium.

Q: Is the armor on tanks that are used in daily training or would it only be put in -- only be added if you were -- like it was entering combat?

Quigley: I don't know. Let me find out the answer to that.

Q: Presumably those folks would be exposed to this on a daily basis if they were tank crews.

Quigley: Yeah, let me take that and I'll see what we can find out.

Q: Budget status question?

Quigley: Just -- (name inaudible) -- do you have questions?

Go ahead.

Q: Has Rumsfeld at all given a timetable for when the first Bush Defense budget will come out?

Quigley: Well, I think that's for President Bush to decide.

Q: Well, you know, within the building here.

Quigley: As you know, the Clinton administration left a budget framework -- I'll put it that way -- in place but it was not submitted to the Congress. We'd be entering budget time right about now on a normal year. But this was presented to the incoming Bush administration for their consideration. I know it's a topic certainly of discussion here in the Pentagon, Tony, but I don't have a timetable for when the president does intend to submit the overall budget.

Q: That budget framework that Clinton left is 7.8 billion less in procurement dollars than what they announced last February would be spent through fiscal '05, including about $2.5 billion for '02 -- shortage, anyway. Why was that -- why were those funds taken out?

Quigley: I won't confirm for you that those are correct dollar figures. We're not going to piece-out the release of the president's '02 budget. He'll do that as a package.

Q: Well, can you acknowledge that there was -- they reduced procurement dollars --

Quigley: No, I'm not going to discuss what is very much a work in progress.

Q: Can you clarify for the record whether or not Linda Tripp was fired from her Pentagon job?

Quigley: Absolutely incorrect use of that word. All political appointees' term of service ended at noon on Saturday with the swearing-in of a new president. All political appointees, by definition, serve at the pleasure of the president.

Now, the exception to that all is the very few people that have been specifically asked to stay by the new administration for a specific purpose. They could have particular skills in budget deliberations, perhaps, or they could be asked to stay because of their experience, to keep that experience around for a while until there's a new person and is up to speed. But except for that small number that were specifically asked to stay, everybody's term of service ended at noon on Saturday.

Q: But you have to submit a letter saying that you voluntarily resigned and --

Quigley: All political appointees were, again, asked to submit a letter of resignation. She did not. But that -- it's more of a formality, John, than it is a necessity. I can't think of a mechanism by which a political appointee of one administration would be carried over into the new administration unless they are specifically asked to stay.

Q: But didn't she force you to fire her by refusing to submit her letter of resignation?

Quigley: Again, that's the wrong choice of words.

Q: Craig, the White House used the word "dismissed" --

Quigley: And all political appointees were --

Q: The White House said "dismissed"; is that not correct? I mean you might not --

Quigley: That's a correct term.

Q: -- might not want to say "fired", but the White House spokesman said the day before she hadn't turned in her resignation, and thus she had been dismissed. Was that a correct word?

Quigley: We provided notification in writing, starting, I think, Thursday afternoon and on into Friday morning, to all political appointees -- I don't know about other departments, but certainly in the Defense Department -- just as a professional courtesy, so that they could understand with clarity where they were in the process. And for those who had not been asked to stay, they were received letters that said, "Your service is no longer required after noon tomorrow." And for those that were asked to stay, then the letter reflected that request as well.

Q: Is it correct to say she was dismissed?

Quigley: I will let the White House's words stand. I won't try to embellish how they said it.

(Cross talk.) Pam?

Q: After this dismissal or whatever we're calling it, is she now eligible for unemployment benefits, whereas somebody who resigned would not be?

Quigley: Hm. I don't know. Let me take that. I'll find out. [Yes. Presidential appointees, noncareer and limited SES appointees, and Schedule C employees who resign by request or are separated due to a change in agency leadership or as a result of the transition to a new presidential administration may be eligible for Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE).]

Chris --

Q: Craig, just to understand this, the people who did the normal thing and submitted a letter of resignation, did they -- would they get exactly the same written notification saying, "Your services are no longer required," as someone like Linda Tripp, who did not submit --

Quigley: Correct.

Q: So that didn't -- doesn't affect --

Quigley: It's not a factor, not a factor.


Q: Who makes the determination as to which people and which special talents will be asked to stay on?

Quigley: The new -- ultimately, the president and the personnel decisions made by his team, as all political appointees serve at the pleasure of the president. But in --

Q: Meaning the incoming president?

Quigley: The incoming president, right. The incoming president. But in this particular case, where you have a Pentagon -- a series of Pentagon appointees, in this case, Secretary Rumsfeld was certainly instrumental in trying to determine which skills he needed in which positions for a period of time, in order to have that transition strength of the team in place.

Q: So Secretary Rumsfeld himself actually signed off on which Schedule C employees would be invited to stay on and which would not?

Quigley: Yes.

Q: He did?

Q: Has he signed off by name or by position?

Quigley: I'll see if I can find out. I don't know.

Q: And Craig, did she -- prior to noon on Saturday, did she apply for any particular protection under whistle-blower status?

Quigley: Not that I'm aware of, no.

Q: Craig, as you talked about Secretary Rumsfeld's schedule, I didn't hear you list any plans to come down here and take a few questions. Is that in the offing?

Quigley: Well, it's not scheduled yet, but it's something that we have discussed, I think, once so far. He'll do it; I just can't put a time frame on it, Rick. I don't know when --

Q: Could you ask him again?

Quigley: Sure.

Q: How many people did he bring with him? Did he show up alone, as he threatened he would during his confirmation --

Quigley: Well, right now he's got Dr. Steve Cambone as his special assistant, and he is the only one that at this point has something I would call a permanent status. Some others may stay, Pam, but there are still some from the transition team that are helping. But we're talking pretty small numbers, here, at this point, anyway, with more to come over time. But it's still small, at this point.

Q: Back to Linda Tripp for a second. Do you know how many other Schedule C employees had their employment expire last Friday?

Quigley: I don't have it broken down by Schedule Cs, but there are about -- if you walk back two or three or four months, before people actually started to leave, political appointee positions within the Defense Department -- the Defense Department staff, now, DoD staff -- 201. And a total of 32 were asked to stay for some period of time.

Q: All right, and then the services have their own, in addition to --

Quigley: There are additional ones, although pretty small numbers, but there are additional ones at the service levels, and I think a couple at agencies as well. But the bulk of those would be at the DoD staff. [Clarification: as of Jan. 19, 2001, there were about 201 political appointees assigned to the Department of Defense. This included about 144 assigned to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and about 57 assigned to the services.]

Q: Are you aware that any other one of these political appointees refused to sign the letter?

Quigley: Not that I'm aware of. And that's not to say they didn't, John, but it's -- not that it's come to my attention, no.

Q: Would it make any difference, one way or the other?

Quigley: Again, no, it would not. They would be told in the same manner that their term of service would have expired at noon on Saturday.

Yes, sir?

Q: The secretary's meeting with the senior enlisted advisors, do you know if it was this afternoon?

Quigley: Correct. Late this afternoon.

Q: Do you have any idea what topics they were going to talk about? Did he have any special things he wanted to discuss with them?

Quigley: Well, it would be to hear what's on their mind and try to hear through their -- through their channels and their prism of what is on the mind and what's important to the men and women in uniform around the world, in their respective services, as well as an opportunity for him to meet them and they him.

Q: Does he have an idea such as Secretary Perry did -- I think quarterly he went to a different base with these senior advisors and met with specific enlisted people -- or, with the enlisted people specifically. Does he have an interest in really getting in touch with the rank and file through these people, or directly?

Quigley: This is very important to him, to hear the views of the senior enlisted, yes. That's why you've seen this meeting scheduled so soon after his arrival; the second day of his tenure.

He will periodically meet with the senior enlisted advisors of the services, and we haven't crafted the particulars of any visits yet to service installations around the world, but I would be pretty confident that that would be a factor at least in the planning, and that's a group or an individual there at those installations that he'd be very interested in hearing their views.

Q: Do they have pretty much an open door with him then to bring concerns, or do they normally need to go through their own --

Quigley: I would think that they feel that they have the ability to transmit information to him. I would think most would feel, as a professional courtesy, to also inform their service secretary, service chief along the way. I don't think there would be any information that would be of a "I've got to get this information to him in 10 minutes" sort of a category. But it's more of a long-term focus from their conversations and visits to troops in the field as to what's on their mind and what is of concern to our folks in uniform as well as their families.

Yes, sir.

Q: Can you go into any detail on the meeting this morning with the secretary and the service chiefs on some of the programs that may have been discussed.

Quigley: I think I should probably stop at the level of detail that I've provided already. Other than being generally about transformation and how the service chiefs view transformation as an ongoing effort within their services, I think I'll leave it there.

Q: Did each chief have a chance to speak about what they believe their transformation is to the secretary?

Quigley: Mmm hmm. Mmm hmm. (Affirmation.)

Q: Were weapons cancellations discussed as a possibility in a Bush administration?

Quigley: No, it was more a focus on transformation and how they viewed it in their services. And they can define it on their terms as well as to how they see transformation occurring, however that be defined within their services.

Q: Did the secretary make his view of transformation clear? Did he express --

Quigley: He stated that this was an important topic to him, and it's something that he's going to be spending time on and making sure he understands the current state of play in the services. But this is something that's very important to him.


Q: Along those lines, I was trying to get really his thoughts on the transformation, but what specifically? Are you talking about procuring things or more about experimentation or what?

Quigley: I think I need to keep it pretty broad at this point.

Yes, ma'am.

Q: Yes, has Secretary Rumsfeld been briefed about the increasing violence and vandalism on the range in Vieques? Does he hold the governor of Puerto Rico responsible for any future violence? And are there going to be talks soon between the secretary and the new administration in Puerto Rico?

Quigley: I think that he has not been briefed in total yet on the history of Vieques, what brought us to where we are today, the current agreement in force between the government of Puerto Rico and the government of -- and the federal government. But on a daily basis, if there's something that the service chiefs or the chairman thinks that needs to be brought to his attention, they certainly would feel free to do that. I don't know if they have done that, but there's no bounds on what they feel is appropriate to brief him on.

Q: Would Secretary Rumsfeld hold the governor of Puerto Rico responsible for the protection of the range?

Quigley: He has not made his views known on that yet.

Q: And are there going to be any dialogue soon in light of the --

Quigley: Can't put a timetable on it. I don't know.

Q: Thank you.

Q: One more on Vieques. Did the --

Quigley: One more.

Q: Did the outgoing administration take any action at all vis- a-vis Vieques? There were a lot of rumors, as you know, they might.

Quigley: Not that I'm aware of, Chris, no.

Q: Thank you.


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