Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan to the Travel PoolScott McClellan
July 7, 2005
12:45 P.M. (L)
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, let me just kind of walk through the morning here at the Gleneagles Hotel. This morning, about 20 minutes after, I guess, first reports of the explosions in London, Hagin informed Andy Card about the situation. Andy Card and Steve Hadley have been briefing the President throughout the morning and theyíve been keeping him apprised about the situation.
Q Speak up.
Q We canít hear you, Scott.
MR. McCLELLAN: You want me to start over?
MR. McCLELLAN: About 20 minutes after the first reports relating to the explosions in London, Joe Hagin informed Andy Card about the situation. Andy Card and Steve Hadley have briefed the President on the situation. Both have been keeping the President apprised throughout the morning, of the latest developments.
Andy Card, also upon being informed, called Fran Townsend, our Homeland Security Advisor, and then he spoke to Director Negroponte, the Director of National Intelligence. He also spoke to -- he tried Secretary Chertoff* and did not immediately reach him, but he did speak with the Deputy Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Jackson. Letís see, Joe Hagin was in touch with Homeland -- (inaudible) -- military office during this time.
Q We missed that.
Q You need to repeat that.
MR. McCLELLAN: Joe Hagin was in touch with Homeland Security officials back at the White House, as well, during this time. And he was also in touch with the White House Military Office. I think you all are aware that during this time the G8 meeting was temporarily suspended, I think, so Prime Minister Blair was receiving briefings, as were other leaders. The meeting then resumed with all leaders. That meeting wrapped up at approximately 11:25 a.m., I think -- that's when I noticed leaders were first out of the meeting.
The President returned up to his suite, the area outside his suite, and continued to receive further updates at that time. The President called a secure video conference with some of his homeland security and national security advisors. That was conducted here at the Gleneagles Hotel in a suite that we have set up with a secure video conference system. That meeting lasted approximately 10 minutes. The President wanted to make sure that all appropriate agencies were responding; he wanted to make sure that appropriate agencies were acting and taking any necessary precautions. As I informed you earlier, Andy Card had been in touch with all the appropriate agencies, I think within the hour of being notified. And all those agencies were beginning to act and look at what precautions needed to be taken at home.
MR. McCLELLAN: Letís see, the President -- you know, they are continuing to meet now, returned downstairs. I think it was around 12:15 p.m. and the meeting is continuing, the G8 meeting that was scheduled, along with the other five countries, I believe, that were included in this lunch meeting. And I expect you will be hearing more from the leaders who are here shortly.
And I think that's what I have for right now. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families -- (inaudible) -- developments, as will the Department of Homeland Security if there is any updates that they need to make. I'm sure they will keep --
Q Scott, the President has no plans to return to Washington?
MR. McCLELLAN: No. The G8 meeting is continuing and he is continuing on his schedule, as well.
Q Scott, will we hear from the President?
MR. McCLELLAN: We will keep you posted.
Q Is there any thought being given to raising the terror levels in the United States?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think here -- as I said, I think here shortly you will hear more from the leaders here at the G8 summit. And in terms of -- Tom, I think that was your question about the alert level. Like I said, if there's any other updates I would expect that they would -- regarding precautions that are being taken at home, they will come from the Department of Homeland Security.
I just wanted to make sure you all had the information that I have right now. I also want to point out that we have offered assistance -- we've offered to assist in any way we can.
Q Do you have any indication that al Qaeda was behind this?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I think you've heard from the British government and if there are any further updates, the appropriate agencies will keep you posted on that. But you've heard from the British government the latest --
Q Who was on the video conference?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- and you will hear shortly here from the G8 leaders, as well.
Q Can't hear you.
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that's probably all I have for right now. Does anybody else have anything immediately?
Q Yes, Scott. The D.C. Transit Authority raised their alert level. Did that come on the advice of the White House?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think you should stay in touch with the Department of Homeland Security in terms of any latest developments back at home.
Q Scott, did the President and Prime Minister Blair talk about this? Because the first explosions happened while they were at the news -- at the photo op.
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, they have talked about it. I couldn't give you an exact time, but they also resumed the meeting and talked about it further during the meeting, as well. And I think you have that indication from Prime Minister in his remarks a short time ago.
Q Scott, do you know who was on that video conference call?
MR. McCLELLAN: I would just say it was some of his homeland security advisors and national security advisors, including members that were here, as well, including people like Andy Card and Steve Hadley from here, as well as others who were back in Washington. Oh, and Andy Card had been in touch with the Vice President, as well.
Okay? I will keep you all posted, and we will let you know if there are any other updates.
END 12:53 P.M. (L)
* For clarification, Secretary Chertoff was on the line with Fran Townsend at the time. The two also participated in the President's secure video conference.