08 December 2003
U.S. Winning War on Terrorism, White House Says
White House Report, Dec. 8: War on terrorism,
Sudan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq/Sen. Clinton, China, ambassadorial
"The United States is winning the war on terrorism, with unrelenting
focus and unprecedented cooperation," White House Press Secretary
Scott McClellan told reporters December 8 in response to a question
on a recent study by Syracuse University's Transactional Records
The study says that the U.S. Justice Department has sharply increased
prosecution of terrorism-related cases since the September 11,
2001, terrorist attacks on the United States but relatively few
cases have ended in convictions or significant prison sentences.
About 6,400 people were referred by investigators for criminal
charges involving terror in the two years after the attacks, but
fewer than one-third actually were charged and 879 were convicted,
the study, based on government records, says.
"Prevention of future terrorist attacks is our highest priority,
and the president has been leading that effort to improve information-sharing
and cooperation. Those efforts have greatly increased today. We
are better able to connect the dots," McClellan said.
"We are disrupting, arresting, and detaining potential terrorist
threats. The FBI and our partners, both here and abroad, have identified,
disrupted and neutralized over 100 terrorist threats and cells.
Worldwide two-thirds of al Qaeda's senior leadership has been captured
or killed. Worldwide more than 3,000 operatives have been incapacitated.
Four alleged terror cells in Buffalo, Detroit, Seattle, and Portland
have been broken up; 287 individuals have been criminally charged
in terrorism investigations since the September 11th attacks. Already,
155 individuals have been convicted, or have pled guilty, including
shoe-bomber Richard Reid and American Taliban John Walker Lindh.
And over 515 individuals linked to the September 11th investigation
have been deported."
McClellan said "We are gathering information by leveraging criminal
charges and long prison sentences. When individuals realize that
they face a long prison term, they often try to cut their prison
time by pleading guilty and cooperating with the government. Since
September 11th, we have obtained criminal plea agreements from
more than 15 individuals who must and will continue to cooperate
with the government in its terrorist investigations. These individuals
have provided critical intelligence about al Qaeda and other terrorist
groups, safe houses, training camps, recruitment and tactics in
the U.S. and the operations of those terrorists who mean to do
harm to American citizens.
"One individual has given us intelligence on weapons stored here
in the United States. Another cooperator has identified locations
in the U.S. being scouted or cased for potential attacks by al
Qaeda. And we're also dismantling the terrorist financial network
in many ways.
"But the bottom line is that investigations and prosecutions of
individuals suspected of ties to international terrorism have significantly
increased since September 11th. The president made it clear to
the government that prevention of future terrorist attacks is the
number one priority. Law enforcement officials are more proactive
now at stopping terrorist incidents before they occur. Terrorism
is now being disrupted at earlier stages. And while this is resulting
in shorter sentences for some individuals, it also results in greater
prevention of future terrorist attacks, and protection of America's
families and communities.
"Early arrests and prosecutions have also led to a wealth of intelligence
that is not reflected in the study that you mentioned. So I think
that the conclusions of the study are somewhat premature. Many
of the more serious terrorism prosecutions continue to this very
day. And I think the study itself points out that more serious
offenses and cases ought to require more time to complete."
BUSH PROMOTES THE SUDAN PEACE PROCESS
President Bush, in phone calls December 8 to Sudan's President
Umar Hasan Ahmad Bashir and to the Chairman of the Sudan Peoples
Liberation Movement, Dr. John Garang, "congratulated each leader
on the progress made thus far in the Sudan peace process, and indicated
that he was watching the peace process closely," McClellan told
"Both calls were upbeat and positive," McClellan said.
"The president encouraged each side to demonstrate the flexibility
to resolve their remaining differences and take the final steps
to complete a just and comprehensive peace agreement," McClellan
said, adding that Bush "explained that peace in Sudan would give
a great boost to the aspirations of the people in Sudan and that
Sudan could be a beacon of reconciliation."
U.S. SHARES OSCE CONCERNS ABOUT RUSSIA'S ELECTION CAMPAIGN
"[B]ased on the pre-election polling, it appears that the election
results roughly reflected the views of the electorate in Russia," McClellan
said, when asked about the outcome of the December 7 parliamentary
elections in Russia.
But he pointed out that the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe (OSCE), which monitored the elections, "has expressed
concerns about the fairness of the election campaign, especially
the media environment and the use of government resources. And
those are concerns that we share."
BUSH ADMINISTRATION APPRECIATES ANTI-TERROR EFFORTS BY SAUDI GOVERNMENT
Asked to comment on recent Saudi advertising in the United States
describing the anti-terrorism efforts of the Saudi government,
McClellan said the Bush administration appreciates "the efforts
they are making in the war on terrorism," and believes "they are
making good progress" in that arena.
"We are working closely with Saudi Arabia to continue to build
on the cooperation and progress we are making in the war on terrorism," he
said, and "they understand the pain and suffering that comes from
terrorist attacks and the need to address those terrorist attacks."
WHITE HOUSE REFUTES STATEMENT BY SENATOR CLINTON
Bush administration decisions regarding self government in Iraq
are based "on what is in the best interest of the Iraqi people," White
House Press Secretary McClellan said, when asked to comment on
remarks December 7 by Senator Hillary Clinton (Democrat-New York),
who recently visited Iraq.
Appearing on several television talk shows December 7, Clinton
said she suspects that U.S. domestic politics is pushing political
developments in Iraq more than the practical realities on the ground.
McClellan said Clinton is "absolutely" wrong.
"We have always said that we are moving as quickly as possible
to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi people," he said. "And as
they are able to assume more and more responsibility, we want to
turn more and more authority over to the Iraqi people.
"And they are doing that in a number of areas," he said, "from
the Iraqi Governing Council in the steps they are taking, to the
local councils they've established throughout the country, to the
schools being opened, hospitals running, to ministers being appointed
by the Governing Council.
"Iraqis are assuming more and more responsibility for their future,
and we are working closely with the Governing Council, who came
to this decision and we agreed with, to transfer sovereignty to
the Iraqi people at the end of June. And it's based on that."
BUSH, CHINA'S PREMIER TO DISCUSS FULL AGENDA OF ISSUES
President Bush "looks forward to establishing a personal relationship" with
China's Premier Jiabao Wen when the two leaders meet at the White
House December 9, McClellan said.
"Working together with him," President Bush will "promote common
goals, as well as address some differences," McClellan said, adding
that "the two leaders will discuss the full agenda of political,
security and economic issues on the U.S.-China agenda."
President Bush "looks forward to discussing North Korea, the war
on terrorism, proliferation and other issues, and global peace
On North Korea, McClellan said "we are working very closely and
appreciate China's efforts in regards to the six-party talks, and
we'll continue to work with them on a new round of talks."
McClellan said that Bush and his senior economic team will talk
with Wen "about the increasingly important bilateral trading relationship
as well as global economic issues. And we anticipate that both
sides will raise respective concerns," McClellan said.
"The president is likely to engage the premier on human rights
and religious freedom. And we expect the premier will raise Chinese
concerns about Taiwan."
"[W]e have consistently raised our concerns about a number of
areas in which China can do more to live up to its international
obligations," McClellan said. "And there has been some progress
made and there is more to do. But those are the issues we have
raised and we will certainly provide an update or you will hear
from the two leaders themselves tomorrow after they have had an
opportunity to meet."
WHITE HOUSE URGES CONGRESS TO ACT ON CRITICAL AMBASSADORIAL NOMINATIONS
The White House is urging the U.S. Senate to act as quickly as
possible on some 100 pending presidential nominations, including
ambassadorial nominees for "critical posts" such as Saudi Arabia,
Syria, India, Uzbekistan, Tunisia and Morocco, McClellan said.
Congress returns to Washington for a few days this week.
"Two weeks ago Congress left town without acting on almost 100
presidential nominations," McClellan said.
"Obstruction by a Democrat minority that had largely been confined
to judicial nominations has now spread to other executive branch
nominations. A Democrat minority is obstructing progress on confirming
high priority presidential nominations for no other reason than
to play partisan politics. These are positions that are critical
to running the government. Many are important to our efforts to
win the war on terrorism."
"We do not have a confirmed Deputy Attorney General, the number
two post at Justice, which has oversight of the FBI and all U.S.
attorneys. We do not have a general counsel at Treasury, a position
critical to our success in cracking down on terrorist financing.
As Congress returns to Washington this week, we urge the Senate
to act as quickly as possible on these highly qualified nominees."