|Daily Press Briefing|
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
September 8, 2008
|Secretary Rices Statement on U.S.-Russia 123 Agreement|
|Presidents Decision to Reverse Previous Determination|
|Concerns Regarding Russian Behavior|
|State of U.S-Russian Relationship|
|State of Bushehr Project|
|Media Reports that North Korea has Removed IAEA Seals on Equipment|
|Assistant Secretary Hills Discussions in Beijing|
|Up to the North Koreans to Move Process Forward|
VENEZUELA / RUSSIA
|Possible Naval Exercises|
|Reports of U.S. Military Strikes|
|Working with President-elect Zardari|
|U.S. Military Strikes / Investigation into Civilian Casualties|
|U.S. Disaster Assistance / Assessment Team Refusal / Aid Through NGOs|
|Nuclear Suppliers Group Granting of Exemption / Next Steps / Hyde Amendment Package|
|U.S. Business Interests|
|Chinese Position on Granting India Exemption|
RUSSIA / GEORGIA
|Russian Plans to Withdraw Forces in a Month / Must Live up to Agreements|
|Under Secretary Burns Visit / Strategic Dialogue|
|Briefing Room Upgrade / New Briefing Time|
12:40 p.m. EDT
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon. I wanted to start off with a statement from Secretary Rice, and then perhaps at the end of the briefing before we close out and after your questions, I just want to talk a little bit about some changes to the briefing room as well as how we’re going to do the briefings here in the future. But we’ll focus on the substance first. This is a statement from Secretary Rice. It is a statement on the U.S.-Russia 123 Agreement.
The President intends to notify Congress that he has today rescinded his prior determination regarding the U.S.-Russia Agreement for Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation, the so-called 123 Agreement. As a result, there is no basis for further consideration with the agreement under the Atomic Energy Act at this time.
U.S. nonproliferation goals contained in the proposed agreement remain valid: to provide a sound basis for U.S.-Russian civilian nuclear cooperation, create commercial opportunities, and enhance cooperation with Russia on important global nonproliferation issues. We make this decision with regret. Unfortunately, given the current environment, the time is not right for this agreement. We will reevaluate the situation at a later date as we follow developments closely.
And just one other note, I’m sure it will come up in the questions. We did notify the Russian Government that we were going to take this course of action via our Embassy in Moscow last week. And with that, I can take your questions.
QUESTION: There is a report --
QUESTION: Can I just follow up on this real quick?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Can you tell us a bit more about the reason? You said that the time and atmosphere is not right. Is that in direct response to the actions regarding Georgia?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Kirit, I’ll just – let me do it this way. If you look at the 123 Agreement and the guiding language in the Atomic Energy Act, it talks about whether – the President has to answer some questions, whether or not this agreement actually serves to promote regional stability, cooperation, and other aspects of international cooperation that we think are positive for the system. Clearly right now, given the environment, the President has decided he can’t make that determination and thus he is taking the step that he has announced today.
QUESTION: But that – the atmosphere or whatever was created by the events in Georgia, wasn’t it?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, Kirit, look, you know, Georgia – if you look at Georgia or if you look at a number of difference occurrences that have happened with Russia over a period of time in the past -- you know, I’m not going to set the precise time, but over a period of time, we’ve had some deep concerns about Russian behavior. And quite clearly, the President has taken the decision looking at the facts, looking at the law, that he can’t make – he has to rescind the determination that he had previously made. As we said, we can’t move forward with this agreement at this time. We’ll, of course, monitor developments and keep a close eye on what is happening and look at those developments as they relate to the law.
QUESTION: And then just – if you are not drawing a linkage directly with Georgia, can you tell us specifically what those concerns were that prompted you to make the change?
MR. MCCORMACK: Kirit, look, I think if you go back and look at the transcripts of what I said, what the Secretary, what the President has said over the past six, nine months, a year, I think you can see a pretty clear trend about our concerns regarding Russian behavior.
Anything else on this? Yeah.
QUESTION: Yeah, you said it was the Russians were informed last week.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: What has been their response on this?
MR. MCCORMACK: I’ll let them describe it as they will.
QUESTION: You don’t have it? You’re not (inaudible).
MR. MCCORMACK: No, I’m not –
MR. MCCORMACK: -- look, obviously – obviously, they responded to this, but I’ll allow them to --
QUESTION: You don’t have an official response yet?
MR. MCCORMACK: It’s not – it’s not for -- No. They responded to us, yes, when we told them this. But my point is you can talk to the Russian Government about what their response to this action is.
MR. MCCORMACK: I’m not going to speak for them.
QUESTION: I know you’re carefully not making any connection, but there have been comments by the Secretary and others that there would be consequences for Russian behavior. Will there be more consequences?
MR. MCCORMACK: We’re taking a look at various areas of cooperation with Russia, taking a look at our relationship with Russia. I think that only stands to reason, given the data points that we have, as I said, looking back over the past year, nine months, six months. So of course, it stands to reason, you take a look at the relationship and we have said it’s not business as usual. It can’t be business as usual. On that side, we are going to look for those areas of cooperation where we think that there is a mutual – a potential mutual interest and a mutual benefit. But right now, we’re taking a look at the relationship and how we – how we go forward from here.
Okay. Anything else? Is that it?
QUESTION: On another subject --
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: Yeah, on another topic, there’s a report in TASS that the president of the general – Russian general contractor for the Bushehr project in Iran has said it’s about to get to a kind of point of no return. And he says that the site will soon be at a state where – where the launch of the nuclear power plant is irreversible. Is there any comment on that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we’ve talked previously about Bushehr and the Russians have an agreement with Iran regarding the construction of Bushehr and providing fuel for Bushehr, and key to that agreement – and that was an agreement that was applauded by members of the Security Council, of the international community, is a fuel take-back provision, so that Iran – in a sense, it is a kind of model for Iran being able to have civilian nuclear energy without the fuel cycle, which is the concern of the international system, that Iran not be allowed to possess the knowhow and the technologies that would – of the fuel cycle.
Because quite frankly, the international system has, at this point, decided they can’t be trusted with it. So Bushehr, in that sense, is a potential model for going forward so that Iran can have peaceful nuclear energy and not have access to the fuel cycle.
QUESTION: On North Korea, there are some reports that the North Koreans have taken additional steps beyond moving their – some equipment out of storage and towards the nuclear facility and have, in fact, taken a step to remove IAEA seals on some of the equipment. Can you confirm anything about that?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, I’ve seen those same reports. I can’t confirm that the seals have been taken off or broken. At this point, you know, the assessment is that they haven’t taken the qualitative step to try to fundamentally reverse, in a operational sense, the steps that they have previously taken in terms of getting Yongbyon up and – up and running. You know, there – you can look at this in various stages.
You can say that there – you know, there are verbal threats to reverse the process, there are preparations to reverse the process, and the actual reversal of the process. I think that they’re probably somewhere in that second step in terms of taking – taking preparations to try to reverse it. Now there are also a lot of questions about how long it would take to actually reverse it, you know, what are the costs involved, whether or not they could bear those costs.
But I think, again, the assessment that we have right now, and admittedly, it’s imperfect, is that they are just taking some of those steps, like taking some of the equipment out of storage where it had been, perhaps taking off some of those seals which I can’t confirm. So that – that’s the prism through which you should see this right now. You know, our view and the reason for Chris Hill’s visit – recent visit to Beijing was that instead of spending their energy on these kinds of steps, the North Koreans should focus their energies on completing a verification regime.
If they complete a verification regime, we have every expectation that this process can move forward, again, with the proviso that that equipment and the seals, if broken, be returned. So that’s where the North Korean focus should be. We are fully prepared to meet our obligations under the Six-Party agreement should North Korea fulfill their obligations. The key to this is the verification regime being completed. And that was really the main topic of discussion of Chris Hill’s meetings in Beijing. He saw his counterparts, I think, from South Korea, Japan, as well as Russia.
QUESTION: On Monday, I think it was, the North Koreans notified you that they were going to take some steps in advance of actually doing so. Have you heard anything more from them since then? Or is it --
MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t have a complete record of the communication. There is – you know, I don’t know if I would describe it as daily communication, but there’s a regular contact on this matter. You know, look, we have some indication that prior to their taking these steps of taking the equipment out of storage, that they were going to do that. We urged them not to. They did it anyway. We continue to urge them as well as having the Chinese, as chair of the Six-Party Talks, make it very clear to them that if this process is going to move forward, they need to fulfill their commitments, and certainly not take the kinds of steps that they say they are taking right now and it seems that we have every indication that they are taking right now.
QUESTION: Two questions. On Venezuela announcing that they’re going to be conducting naval exercises with the Russians in November --
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: I know it’s not been confirmed by the Russians, but is there --
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: -- any reaction to that?
MR. MCCORMACK: No. Look, I’m sure the – I’m sure we’ll be watching if such exercises take place.
QUESTION: Okay. And on the strikes in Pakistan (inaudible) over the weekend, any – I know it’s been a partly – Pentagon, but any reaction to how these strikes may impact the political process in Pakistan? They’ve just elected their president. I mean, it makes the whole process slightly more fragile.
MR. MCCORMACK: I’ve seen a lot of different – there are a lot of different news reports that – news reports about strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. On Pakistan – refer you to the Pakistani Government for any comment. I don’t have anything for you. In terms of Afghanistan, I think the Pentagon is handling those. In terms of the investigation, new information has come to light. They’re taking a look at it and feeding that into their evaluation process.
You mentioned the president. There will be a new president of Pakistan. We offer our congratulations to President-elect Zardari and look forward to working with him as well as Prime Minister Gilani on areas of mutual interest. And certainly, one of those – one of the main areas is our common fight against terrorism.
QUESTION: Do you feel that you have a partner in Mr. Zardari?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think we have a – we’ve had good discussions with him. As well as his government and look forward to working with Mr. Zardari on issues of counterterrorism. I think they have a healthy appreciation for the fact that this is a common fight. You know, these – these attacks and this violence is being directed not only in Afghanistan, as well as other places outside of Pakistan, but it’s being directed inward. You know, Prime Minister Gilani just last week had some shots fired at his motorcade and some hit his car. Thankfully, he’s safe and unharmed as well as the other members of his party. So they have a healthy appreciation for what’s at stake here. And we have good cooperation with this government in fighting terrorism.
QUESTION: Can we follow up on the Russian ships?
QUESTION: Just one follow-up on this actually.
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure. We’ll get to you after that, Charley.
Yeah, go ahead, Kirit.
QUESTION: Reports (inaudible) saying that Adam Gadahn may have been killed in an airstrike.
MR. MCCORMACK: I hadn’t seen that. I hadn’t seen that.
QUESTION: Adam Gadahn?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah.
QUESTION: Just – I’d be interested in your general comments about these Russian warships visiting Venezuela by the end of the year in that area of the world.
MR. MCCORMACK: It’s – like I said, it’s something that we’ll be – that we’ll be watching. I haven’t seen the Russians confirming this. But I suppose if it is, in fact, true, then they found a few ships that can make it that far. So again, we’ll see if they, in fact, do participate in these exercises.
QUESTION: Isn’t that an intrusion into the United States’ sphere of geographical influence and control?
MR. MCCORMACK: I think that’s probably overstating – overstating --
QUESTION: No violation of any --
MR. MCCORMACK: Not – I’m not aware of any legal violations. And certainly, like I said, we’ll watch it. We’ll see if the exercises come off.
QUESTION: Yeah, on Cuba and the hurricane, the second hurricane, is there any expectation there’s going to be an offer for help or it has already been offered or what’s the situation?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, there – unfortunately, for the people in the region, including the United States, there are a series of hurricanes coming through. There’s Ike, which is currently transiting through by Cuba and Haiti and the Caribbean. There was Hanna. And I think that there’s another storm forming or that has formed out in the Atlantic.
When Hurricane Hanna passed through, we did make an offer of assistance in terms of sending an assessment team down to Cuba to see what the situation was and how we might possibly help. That offer was refused. We took a unilateral decision, if you will, to provide about $100,000 worth of humanitarian assistance that would be distributed through NGOs.
Now, with respect to Hurricane Ike, this is a different situation. It’s a powerful storm. We’re taking a look at what we might offer the Cuban Government and what we might do for the Cuban people. That’s the concern here. There are very clear political differences that are well known between the United States and Cuba. But the way we look at this is that those differences shouldn’t get in the way of providing humanitarian relief for the Cuban people that I
think it’s pretty clear they need.
QUESTION: Because they have refused this assessment team.
MR. MCCORMACK: They did.
QUESTION: Yeah. But they have been receiving Russian help and Venezuelan help and --
MR. MCCORMACK: They make their – they make their own decisions.
QUESTION: Yeah. Is there any way to assess whether they have enough help?
MR. MCCORMACK: You know, again, our people on the ground made the assessment that they’re – that the situation on the ground merited at least $100,000 worth of humanitarian assistance. And one might take from the fact that we were going to send an assistance team down there that they probably need more. An assessment team.
So we’ll see. We’ll see what the qualitative change in the situation is. See if the Cuban Government changes its mind about allowing us to help the Cuban people.
QUESTION: And this $100,000 will be in which form? In money or --
MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t have a breakdown for you. Humanitarian relief. It’s humanitarian supplies for the Cuban people.
QUESTION: Can I go back to North Korea?
MR. MCCORMACK: Sure.
QUESTION: Could you tell us a little bit more about the talks in Beijing? Have you come up with any ideas or plans in terms of how to move forward the process, you know, after consulting with Chinese, what the next --
MR. MCCORMACK: I don’t have any – I don’t have any readout for you. You know, Chris said that he had a good set of discussions, not only with the Chinese but also with counterparts from other members of the Six-Party process – Japan, South Korea and Russia – while he was in Beijing.
We’ll see what comes out of these talks. I think China will play a key role in trying to move it forward. They’re the chair of the process and it’s also well known that they have a unique relationship – I guess is the way to put it – with North Korea, a relationship that no other state enjoys.
So I think whether or not the process moves forward is fundamentally up to the North Koreans. We’ll see if they decide to move the process forward, see if they can take the decisions to move the process forward. But what we hope is that China can play an important role along with other members of the Six-Party process in encouraging North Korea to take the right decisions, finish work on the verification protocol. The other parties will then be more than ready to meet their obligations that they’ve already made.
QUESTION: So, basically, you are waiting for Chinese to talk to North Korea?
MR. MCCORMACK: No, we’re not. No, we’re not. We’re not waiting for anything – anything to happen. This isn’t a passive process. We’re actively involved in trying to move it forward. But you need to understand that it’s North Korea that needs to take the decisions. We as well as others are very – already taking the decisions required to move the process forward. What’s needed now is action from North Korea. If North Korea acts, then they will, in turn, see action from the other parties. That has been the fundamental principle of this process.
QUESTION: North Korea again. Over the last couple weeks, North Korea has really taken quite clear linear steps forward on reversing the disablement process.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: And they’ve said that they’re going to continue those steps unless they come off of the terrorism list. While Chris Hill was in Beijing, did you get any sense that the proposal that’s on the table – were there any new ideas put forward about flexibility on that proposal or anything? Or is everything still intact from what it was back in July of --
MR. MCCORMACK: And I haven’t – I haven’t gotten a substantive readout from Chris. I saw him in the hallway and talked to him for a couple of minutes as he was on his way down to brief the Secretary.
Look, fundamentally, you know, regardless of what might be discussed among the other parties, what needs to happen is North Korea needs to act and they need to act by coming to closure and agreement on this verification protocol. It’s – they’re not being asked to do anything different than is standard practice in other international verification protocols.
Now, I understand that’s a little bit different for North Korea. It is a closed society and they might have a hard time swallowing some of the things that are standard practice in the outside world. Well, that is part of the process of their having a different kind of relationship with the rest of the world. It’s what we’re trying to get to. And they need to act. If they act, they will see action in return from the other parties.
QUESTION: If these seals are, in fact, broken, does that change the game at all?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, it’s – it’s not a step that moves the process forward. Let’s put it that way. Now, I’m not a technical expert. I’m not a nuclear physicist. But I don’t believe that that qualitatively changes the ability for them to actually get the Yongbyon reactor up and running. You can consult with others out in the technical community. I know you have access to a lot of people who know not only the physics but also know Yongbyon, and they can offer you an assessment.
But as I answered earlier to Kirit’s question, you have to look at it in three rough segments. They’re talking about doing something, they’re actually taking some of the steps that would allow them to restart and actually restarting – actually being able to use Yongbyon as it was previously configured and for its previous purposes. I don’t think at this point that you can say they are at that last step, but they are, it would appear, starting to take some of those initial actions that would allow them to get to the third phase. But I don’t think they’re near to that at the moment.
And as I said before, there are clear – clear costs to doing so, you know, not only diplomatically and politically, but also just retooling, getting the facility back up and operating again, and whether or not they have the technical expertise, whether or not they have the resources to do so. And again, I’ll allow others to speak to those issues.
QUESTION: On India, NSG approved the exemption.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: When will you move forward to submit the pact to Congress?
MR. MCCORMACK: We are – as we speak, we have people working on that package that is required by the so-called Hyde Amendment, the Hyde Amendment package. So we are basically working on that – we, the U.S. Government – and preparing to submit that to the Congress. Admittedly, the time here is short and there’s a brief window before Congress goes out of session.
As you’ve heard from the Secretary as well as from the White House, this Administration is committed to trying to move that agreement forward. We have had a lot of conversations during this period of time, as well – including recently, with members of Congress, key members of Congress that will, you know, fundamentally hold the fate of this agreement, at least for right now, for the current time period for this Congress, in their hands. We’ve talked to Chairman Berman, talked to Chairman Biden – Chairman Biden as well. So we’ll see. We’re going to do everything we can to hold up our end of the bargain. Congress has a say in this. We think it is an important agreement. We think it’s important to move it forward. It’s good for America and it’s good for India. It’s good for alternative – bringing online alternative sources of energy. It’s also good for the international nonproliferation regime.
QUESTION: Just one follow-up?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, sure.
QUESTION: I know there’s some concerns among U.S. businesses, such as GE, about other countries being able to trade with India while Congress is deliberating. What considerations are being made for those U.S. business interests?
MR. MCCORMACK: I couldn’t speak to that. I’m not aware what, if anything, we are doing. Look, fundamentally, I mean, I can answer your question very generally. Fundamentally, we want a level playing field for American business. We believe that American business, if allowed to compete on a level playing field, is more than capable of winning its share of business around the world, more than capable of winning its contracts around the world, regardless of whether it’s in nuclear energy or any other industry.
Yes, sir, in the back.
QUESTION: On Pakistan. There are reports that a convoy which was taking supplies for the NATO forces was stopped by Pakistani Government. And some in Pakistan suggest that was a response to the airstrikes. Do you have any comment?
MR. MCCORMACK: I hadn’t seen those reports. We’ll look into them
QUESTION: Did it kind of surprise you when China opposed the NSG waiver for India, because China was not on the list of countries that were expected to oppose the waiver?
MR. MCCORMACK: I’ll let the Chinese Government speak to their views about the diplomatic process in Vienna. But the NSG operates by consensus, and since everybody agreed to allow this move forward, one can deduce that the Chinese at least – at the very least, didn’t stand in the way of it moving forward. Secretary Rice had a good phone call with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang the morning of the agreement. It was announced in the afternoon. They had a very good discussion. But again, I’ll let the Chinese speak for themselves as to their views of the diplomatic process.
QUESTION: Another topic. Any reaction to the Russian comments about their plans to withdraw from Georgia in a month, not including South Ossetia?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, the – what we would call upon Russia to do is to live up to its original agreements. They made certain commitments to President Sarkozy, and we would expect that they live up to those agreements. They haven’t done so thus far, notwithstanding comments from President Medvedev. We would call upon him as well as the Russian Government to live up to the words that they have put out just in the aftermath of negotiating with President Sarkozy.
QUESTION: Any reaction to the agreement that Sarkozy and Medvedev appear to have reached this morning or afternoon?
MR. MCCORMACK: We have – I’m not aware that we’ve had a chance to talk in detail with French officials, so I’ll withhold any comment. But look, anything that gets the Russians out of Georgia, and fulfilling the terms of their original agreements, is a positive thing. But again, I have not – I’m not aware that we’ve spoken with the French Government about their discussions with the Russians.
QUESTION: At their press conference Medvedev said that they would remove their troops within a month, assuming an agreement that will allow 200 international peacekeepers in goes through, is that acceptable to the U.S?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, again, the original agreement talked about 100. I hadn’t heard about 200. We have about 20 in there now. So we’re, of course, working as hard as we can within the OSCE to get those monitors in place. I, you know, again, I thought the original agreement was when you have monitor – when you have some monitors on the ground, the Russians were going to pull out. Look, fundamentally, the Russians shouldn’t be legalistic about this. They know what they need to do. They need to get out of Georgia.
QUESTION: Can you give a brief description of the U.S.-Russia 123 Agreement for those of us who don’t follow this?
MR. MCCORMACK: (Laughter.) Basically, it is under the Atomic Energy Act. It is a kind of agreement that is negotiated between the United States and another country that includes certain understandings that will allow civilian nuclear cooperation. It basically is a way of the United States being able to assure itself that any cooperation that it allows between its government or nuclear industries with a foreign country won’t be put to any uses other than civilian nuclear power.
I don’t know if that helps you or not. Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: To follow up hers and Desmond’s question. So technically speaking, America can – the United States has decided to shelf this agreement, but doesn’t see a problem of Russians and Iranians working on the Bushehr agreement for civilian purposes?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, they’re – they’re two separate questions. The 123 Agreement is something that’s between the United States --
QUESTION: Bilateral, yeah.
MR. MCCORMACK: It’s a bilateral agreement.
QUESTION: But it’s part of a bigger nuclear --
MR. MCCORMACK: I’m – I don’t know. I’m not sure that I see – see what you’re getting at.
MR. MCCORMACK: Okay. Yeah. Desmond.
QUESTION: Forgive me if I missed this when I was out. But does the U.S. plan to send an observer to the Syrian-Israeli talks in Turkey?
MR. MCCORMACK: I’ll check into it for you. I’m not aware that we are. But let me --
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. MCCORMACK: -- check for you.
QUESTION: Can you give us a readout about the visit that Under Secretary Burns made to Turkey last Friday?
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, this was part of – as I understand it, part of our strategic dialogue with Turkey. It was Under Secretary Burns’ first visit to Turkey, so they talked about U.S.-Turkish bilateral issues. They talked about issues in -- of mutual interest in the region as well as cooperation across the globe.
Yeah. Is that – are we done with the questions?
Okay. Yeah, and just one note about the briefing room and the briefing time. I think you see that we have a little bit of a changed appearance. I hope that all of you agree it is an upgrade. What we’re trying to do is incorporate some of today’s technology into the briefing room. And hopefully we can make the – this briefing room really a crossroads of the old and new media. I want to honor in full the role of professional journalists and the role that you all play in informing publics. I also want to make sure that we use all the technology that we have available to best communicate with the publics and best inform them. That’s a big part of what I do, including being advocates for all of you within the building here.
We’re also going to move the – in an effort to reach more people around the globe within their news cycle, we are going to move – starting tomorrow – the briefing time to 10:30 in the morning. And this intended on my part as a way of trying – as I said, trying to reach more people around the globe in their news cycle. Now, I understand we have a 24/7, 365 news cycle here, but you know, people do sleep, so we’d like to try to catch as many people as we possibly can while they are still in information-gathering mode.
And I’ll just make one last note. Again, this is – this briefing room is our space, but it’s also your space. So I want to work together with you guys so that we, together, can best inform publics around the world about the U.S. government, its policies, and a little bit about why we do certain – why we do the things that we do. And with that, we’ll close up.
MR. MCCORMACK: (Inaudible.) Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) what are the screens for and how are you going to use them?
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, we’re going to – we’re going to use them in a lot of different ways. And we’ll have more to say about that probably in the days and weeks ahead. But we wanted to try to make this – the briefings a deeper and richer information experience not only for you but for people who may be tuning in and who watch the briefing. We want to try to use – incorporate the video, photography, graphics, maps into our briefings just so you have a better understanding and publics have a better understanding.
I use the example with my staff, I think it was about a month ago or two months ago, we had a tragic attack on our Consulate. And we were able to put together, in sort of a mom and pop presentation for you, a Google earth overview of the Consulate and some of the surrounding roads and some of the surrounding terrain. And I think that helped you get a better idea of the Consulate and where the attack was and get a sense for what kind of danger, for example, American personnel were in. And it helped – I think it helped you – I talked to some journalists afterwards. I think it helped you better understand what was – what happened there.
So that’s an example of what I want to do on occasion. And again, working with you guys, we’ll try to beam in people from spots around the globe that – where newsworthy events may be ongoing, you know, talking to officials from Washington who may be traveling abroad, talking to officials who were – who are stationed in those places where newsworthy events may be going on, so that you can talk directly to them, and again, so publics can be better informed.
We – I’ll hint at something that we want to do as well is – while we want to honor the role professional journalists play in explaining to publics events – daily events, weekly and monthly events, we also want to give those who aren’t professional journalists an opportunity also to access this space and also participate in the discussion and the conversation that’s ongoing here. So I’m not going to say anything more about that, but again, more to come on that.
QUESTION: It’ll be two briefings?
MR. MCCORMACK: We’ll see.
QUESTION: Thank you.
(The briefing was concluded at 1:10 p.m.)
DPB # 148
Released on September 8, 2008