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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2001 > December

Briefing on the Rewards for Justice Program

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Washington, DC
December 13, 2001

[audio]

Secretary Powell at Rewards for Justice Briefing

MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. The Secretary of State is here, and he will introduce for you the advertising campaign, and make a few remarks on that, and then take your questions for a little while on this or other topics. And then after that, we will have Under Secretary Beers and Assistant Secretary Carpenter to talk a little more about the advertising campaign.

So without further ado, the Secretary of State.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, and good afternoon, everyone. Before I talk to the Rewards for Justice Program, I might say a word about the President's announcement this morning concerning the ABM Treaty.

As you know, we gave notification to the Russian Federation this morning, and we have now received a reply from President Putin, which I am sure you all will have already seen or will see in the next few minutes.

A couple of points I would like to draw your attention to in President Putin's reply. Obviously, they still believe that the Treaty is a centerpiece, and prefer that we would have stayed in it. But I note in his reply two points, one that our withdrawal -- this action that we are taking -- is no threat to the national security of the Russian Federation. From my conversations with President Putin earlier this week, essentially it means that they had anticipated that this might come at some point, and had made their own analysis, and believe that their national security is not affected because of the size and quality of their strategic nuclear offensive capability, and their understanding of the nature of the missile defense program that we will be pursuing.

And the second point I would make is that President Putin has now responded to President Bush's Washington-Crawford statement of reducing our strategic offensive inventory down to a range of 1,700 to 2,200 operationally deployed warheads. President Putin has now indicated that he would like to go to the range of 1,500 to 2,200. So we are in the same range, and this will be a subject of negotiation and discussion, beginning with Secretary Rumsfeld's meeting with Minister of Defense Sergei Ivanov next week.

We will aggressively move forward to continue our strategic framework discussions with the Russians, for the purpose of bringing this into some legal form that the two presidents can consider for signature when President Bush visits Moscow sometime next year.

The key point here is that an arms race has not been set off by the United States' indicating its intention to withdraw from the ABM Treaty. Quite the contrary. The Russians have said they don't see this as a threat to their national security, and secondly, they are going to go ahead with very deep cuts in their strategic offensive forces. This is very encouraging, and we welcome President Putin's statement.

Let me now go on to the subject at hand, and then I will take your questions.


I am pleased to be here with all of you today to announce the rollout of the domestic Public Service Announcements for the Rewards for Justice Program. These Public Service Announcements make partners of the American Government and the American people in the fight against terrorism.

Since 1984, the Rewards for Justice Program, run by the Department of State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, has been one of the most valuable United States Government assets in our fight against international terrorism. In the past years, or in past years, this program has allowed Secretaries of State to offer rewards of up to $5 million for information that prevents acts of international terrorism against the United States' persons or property, and brings to justice those who have committed such acts.

The United States of America Patriot Act of 2001, signed into law in October, authorizes the Secretary of State to now offer rewards greater than $5 million, if it is determined that a greater amount is necessary to combat terrorism or defend the United States against such acts.

Through this piece of congressional legislation, I have authorized up to a $25 million reward for information leading to the capture of Usama bin Laden and other key al-Qaida leaders. Congress acted swiftly and decisively to provide us with the funding for this program. Senators Hollings and Gregg and Representatives Wolf and Serrano led the initiative to pass this legislation, and it will be an invaluable tool in the fight against terrorism.

I would also like to thank the Rewards for Justice Fund, ordinary people who have donated their time and energy and substantial resources to assist in the fight against terrorism. This fund will allow every American to take part in the fight against terrorism, and every dollar donated to the Rewards for Justice Fund directly supports the Rewards for Justice Program.

Today, for the first time, we are rolling out an extensive domestic media campaign to support the Rewards for Justice Program. This campaign will distribute public service announcements to every major media market in the United States. And we have got some commitments from major radio stations and newspapers across the country that they will run these public service announcements.

I strongly encourage every newspaper and radio station to run the ads and join us in this fight. The Rewards for Justice Program works. It has helped root out terrorists in more than 20 cases around the world, including the case of Ramsey Yousef, who is now behind bars for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. People with information of any past or planned act for international terrorism against the United States anywhere in the world can contact the nearest FBI office or the Bureau of Diplomatic Security through the websites and 1-800 numbers that you see in front of you on various placards and you will hear more about in a moment.

Terrorism threatens the security of all people. We are more determined than ever to fight it. The United States has tracked terrorists aggressively and made them pay for their crimes. Through this program, thousands of innocent lives around the world have been saved through the prevention of terrorist attacks. Without question, the Rewards for Justice Program is an extremely effective weapon in the United States arsenal to combat terrorism and the threat of international terrorism.

I will be followed after I take some questions by Under Secretary Charlotte Beers and others, Dave Carpenter of our Office of Diplomatic Security, who will talk to you in greater detail about the program. But I will take your questions now before I have to head off to a meeting at the White House.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there were 60 Israeli citizens who have been picked up in the post-September 11th sweep, many of whom if not all of whom are connected to Israeli intelligence. There is no indication that they were connected to the September 11th bombing, but there are indications that they may have known about it ahead of time and the US was not informed by them.

Are you concerned about such intelligence operations on US soil? And have you taken up this issue with your counterpart in Israel?

SECRETARY POWELL: I am aware that some Israeli citizens have been detained and I have been in touch with the Israeli Government as to the fact that they have been detained and making sure that they have rights of access to Israeli diplomatic personnel here in the United States. Other nationalities have also been detained.

With respect to why they are being detained and the other aspects of your question, whether it's because they are in intelligence services or what they were doing, I will defer to the Department of Justice and the FBI to answer that because, frankly, I deal with the consular parts of that problem, not the intelligence or law enforcement parts of that program.

QUESTION: On Yasser Arafat, is the US trying to isolate him diplomatically? Is the US, as some reports have it, asking European countries not to allow him to visit? What is your campaign, apart from rhetoric? Apart from rhetoric, what else are you doing to put pressure on Mr. Arafat?

SECRETARY POWELL: We have been putting pressure on Chairman Arafat to do everything in his power to bring these terrorist elements under control. I spoke to him again yesterday. I know he has also been in contact with European leaders who have made the same point to him. Hamas, for example, is killing innocent Israeli citizens, but it will not destroy Israel. It might destroy Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.

So Mr. Arafat has a choice to make. He has got to go after these organizations who are ignoring the possibility of peace, who are ignoring the Mitchell peace plan, who are ignoring the efforts of the international community to help the two sides find a way to the Mitchell Plan, and they are a threat to everything we are trying to do. And I think Mr. Arafat has an obligation to do everything in his power to bring them under control with the forces that are available to him. And we are conveying to our European colleagues that they should deliver the same message to Mr. Arafat, and he should focus his attention at home. And a strong statement came out of Brussels, the European Community, the other day, which made that same point to Mr. Arafat.

QUESTION: But are you suggesting that he be shunned?

SECRETARY POWELL: I have not had any conversations about shunning him. Right now he has difficulty traveling, because he has difficulty getting --

QUESTION: You say you are not -- that the United States is not triggering a new arms race. What are you -- how do you know that? And specifically, President Putin talked with the Chinese and the Indian leaders today. Has the United States done anything similar? Have you had any guarantees?

SECRETARY POWELL: In my conversations with President Putin, and in many, many conversations with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and his colleagues, it has become clear to me that they understand the nature of our missile defense program, that they have made an analysis of their own security requirements and needs, and do not believe that what we are doing is a threat to their national security. That is what they have said.

If it is not a threat to their national security, then why would they engage in an expensive arms race, if they do not feel threatened? And the best evidence that they do not feel threatened, and are not engaged or planning to engage in such an arms race, is the fact that President Putin matched and went even a little bit lower than President Bush's range of strategic offensive warheads, and in his statement today said let's move forward aggressively to put this into a legal framework so the two presidents can bind the two nations at this lower level. That is not the basis of an arms race; quite the contrary.

Now, I spoke to the Indian Foreign Minister this morning, and the purpose of my call, as well as President Bush's call to Prime Minister Vajpayee, was to express condolences for the tragedy in the parliament, and offer our assistance. I also spoke to the Chinese Foreign Minister last night, and I brought in and had a long conversation with the Chinese Ambassador yesterday afternoon to explain why we were taking the action we were taking with respect to the ABM Treaty. And they will now analyze that, and I hope they will come to the same conclusion that the Russians came to, that this action is not intended against them; it is not a threat against their strategic deterrence. It will be a system that goes after those irresponsible rogue states that might come up with a couple of missiles and threaten us, and we have to be in a position to deal with that.

So I don't see the basis for an arms race in anything that we have done. I see a basis for increased strategic stability, and I look forward to working with my Russian colleagues, as does Secretary Rumsfeld, in pursuing that.

We spent 11 months, the first 11 months of this Administration, working with the Russians, discussing this with them at length, building a strong relationship, a strong relationship that could take this kind of a disagreement. As President Putin said to me the other day, we have a good strategic relationship that will more than survive this disagreement.


Does he support or approve of what we have done? No, he has said he does not. But he has also said he doesn't view it as a threat to his nation, and it is not. And he is looking forward to codifying our mutual reductions.

QUESTION: What is your reaction to the Usama bin Laden tape that was released today? And do you think the comments that he makes on this tape should pretty much put to rest any remaining --

SECRETARY POWELL: How could there be a doubt -- how could there be a doubt in anyone's mind any longer about what we have said from the very, very beginning? That he was the mastermind, he is the head of an organization that participates in this kind of evil activity. It is frightening and shocking to sit there and listen to him invoke the name of an almighty to defend murder, to defend evil that goes against every faith on the face of the earth. And the tape speaks for itself, and everybody can make their judgment. But I don't know what other judgment one can make about it.

QUESTION: Well, Mr. Secretary, do you feel vindicated at all now, because you were a few weeks --

SECRETARY POWELL: I never felt --

QUESTION: A week or so after the attacks, you, from this podium, were the first Cabinet official to say that bin Laden was the prime suspect.

SECRETARY POWELL: I have never felt un-vindicated. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you say whether the US learned anything new about bin Laden from this tape?

SECRETARY POWELL: I am not in a position to answer that. I have seen the tape, I have read the transcript rather thoroughly. But I will leave it to my colleagues in other Departments to determine whether they have learned something new.

QUESTION: During your recent visit to Ankara, did you have the chance to discuss with the Greek and Turkish (inaudible) over the (inaudible) in Cyprus, and may we have your assessment of this effort?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. In my meetings in Ankara with Foreign Minister Cem and other leaders, I took note of the new movement that has taken place between the two sides, welcomed this new initiative, and we look forward to working with both Cypriot leaders and with the United Nations as they move forward. They had, I think, two meetings in a period of two days, and they will be meeting again in January.

So I did take note of it, and congratulated them for this new movement.

QUESTION: And the Aegean Sea initiative?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, we didn't (in audible) Aegean Sea initiative?

QUESTION: Yes. Via the Aegean Sea initiative.

SECRETARY POWELL: No, we didn't get into any discussions of that.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, back to the Middle East, sir. This is a yes or no question. Do you concur with Israel's decision to cut up ties with the Palestinian Authority? And two, could you kindly define for us what the US role is now?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, you can ask yes or no questions. I decide if it's a yes or no answer. (Laughter.)

It's a decision the Israeli Government made, and we are having discussions with them now. General Zinni and Ambassador Kurtzer should be in with the Prime Minister right now discussing the decision that the Prime Minister made, the implications of that decision, how the Prime Minister sees the way forward. And so that is as far as I would like to go on that, until I have had a chance to talk to General Zinni and to Ambassador Kurtzer.

The situation is getting worse, not better. And we really cannot give up hope, we can't walk away from this. The stakes are too high. And Prime Minister Sharon is desperate to bring peace and security. Chairman Arafat is desperate to get the process going that would lead to a Palestinian State.

We must find a way to bring these two somewhat complementary positions together so that we can get into a cease-fire. And the way to do that is to get rid of these terrorist organizations, such as Hamas, which do not want to achieve any of the two objectives of the two sides that I just laid out, and they are more likely to destroy the Palestinian cause than to destroy the State of Israel. And that is why Mr. Arafat, it seems to me, has the burden upon him right now to act very aggressively.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, is the President's number of 1,700 to 2,200 set in stone, or could you match President Putin's offer?

SECRETARY POWELL: It was a pretty firm number. But let the discussions begin. We want to hear why they feel that particular range is appropriate. Obviously, our range fits within their range. So there is a way to square this circle. I don't know that it is a problem and I don't know that the two numbers have to be identical.

The important point is that both sides have taken significant reductions, in our case something like 60 percent down or close to 70 percent down from where we are now. That's the detail. Or a little bit of a nuance that President Putin didn't put in his numbers. And we will just have to discuss with them how to go forward, two different ranges or can we normalize on a single range.

But it is clear that the range they came up with is so close to ours that both sides believe that we are in the same ballpark with respect to what we need to preserve our strategic deterrence capability.

QUESTION: Do you have any reaction, sir, from the bombings in India? This time, the Indian Parliament was the target of the terrorist bombings and Indian authorities blame that this is the Taliban behind these bombings. Now bombings in India just like in Israel.

Now, what advice do you have for the Indian Government at this time and what they should do?

SECRETARY POWELL: I talked to the Foreign Minister this morning and I am quite sure that the Indian Government will do everything in their power to find out who the perpetrators of this terrible act were, who these murders were, who these terrorists were, and take appropriate action. And we certainly understand their need to do that and their intent to do that. And we offered -- the President offered in his phone call with President Vajpayee -- FBI and other assets that could assist them in finding out who is responsible.

QUESTION: Don't you think that US unilateral withdrawal from the ABM treaty would lead to disappearance of present mutual trust and understanding in US/Russia relations and would significantly worsen your dialogue on offensive nuclear arsenal reduction?

SECRETARY POWELL: No, quite the contrary. The dialogue is strong. President Putin and President Bush have met four times at four different summit meetings. They have formed a strong relationship, not just a personal relationship, but a relationship based on mutual interests that relates to values, democracy building, economic development, regional cooperation, the campaign against terrorism, and developing a new strategic framework.

I have met many, many times with Foreign Minister Ivanov and my other colleagues, Secretary Rumsfeld and Dr. Rice, are in constant contact with their counterparts. So this will not fracture that. It is strong.

Because it is strong, we will accept this disagreement and move on. As President Putin said to me, this is one disagreement less and we wish you had not moved in this direction but you have indicated for months you might move in this direction, and let's continue to build the relationship.

So quite the contrary, it will not affect our ability to negotiate lower numbers, as reflected by President Putin's statement today committing to a negotiation to lower numbers. There will be no arms race.

QUESTION: You said last spring that the Israelis shouldn't intrude into Gaza with their tanks and remain there. They are doing just that now. Has there been any limit placed on collective punishment in your discussions with Sharon both here in Washington and beyond?

SECRETARY POWELL: We have -- Mr. Sharon is the Prime Minister democratically elected by the people of Israel. So we have talked to him, and I talked to him again yesterday, and he is aware of our concerns about going back into these territories and staying there for extended periods. Does it actually provide you security over time, or is it just another destabilizing element?

So, obviously, we are not in a position to put specific constraints on him. But we are in constant discussion about the implications of such actions.

Last one. I have to go.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, could you speak more directly to the comments coming out of Israel right now that Yasser Arafat is irrelevant? Are you encouraging the Israelis to resume communications with him? And what are the plans for General Zinni --

SECRETARY POWELL: We are in communication still with both sides. General Zinni and my other diplomats in the region are in communication with both sides. As I have said, General Zinni is meeting now with the Prime Minister, I believe, and so is Ambassador Kurtzer. I expect that General Zinni and Counsel General Schlicher will meet with Yasser Arafat again. I don't have any immediate plans for General Zinni until I get a report from him.

Yasser Arafat is the elected head of the Palestinian Authority and reflects the leadership that the Palestinians wish to have. So he still has that authority, that mantle of leadership given to him by the Palestinian people, and we will continue to work with him. The decision made by the Israeli Government yesterday is one that General Zinni will talk to Mr. Sharon about and I will get more on that later today.

Thank you very much. I've got to get to the meeting.

UNDER SECRETARY BEERS: As Secretary Powell said, this is the very first program we have ever sent out to every US citizen. Even though you have been discussing here some very weighty subjects, I must tell you -- having become now a student of the Rewards program -- that one chance to prevent terrorism -- and we have had many such experiences in the Rewards for Justice Program -- has made a huge difference in the lives of people in our country and elsewhere. The stories are classified but they are documented, and it is worth thinking about that we not only have a program now that asks people to come forward, to think about what they might know, to deal with their hesitation and fear, or evaluate whether they have credible information and to come forward in a fairly safe and private way to discuss it with someone who will help them evaluate what they have. And that information will be sent to the FBI to evaluate further. So that is how the program is set up.

It became obvious to us, even though we have had this program since 1984, that it was time to put the message out in the United States in a very broad way. Before September 11th, it might have been unthinkable for us to say, "Among us lives a terrorist." And now it is unquestioned.

So this advertising is intended to run in newspapers and radio. It will be first in English. It will be translated soon in Spanish and Arabic. Then we will roll out in international markets in January.

First we will have print and radio. We are going to follow very soon with banner ads that tap into adjacent websites. We will have movie theater clips and even maybe matchstick covers, which we used so successfully at one point in the campaign internationally. Although if people keep giving up smoking, we may have to go to another avenue.

I show you here some of the ads, which you will also have on your disk. In each case, they are coming at the proposition in a slightly different way. In this case, we are talking about cues that might have led you to spot someone like Mohammed Atta and how that story unfolds.

You versus terrorism is a different story I will come back to in a minute. Where is the woman's one, here. "Can a woman stop terrorism?"

We are convinced that -- my personal bias is that women are very observant and thoughtful about these things. In this approach, we're talking about protecting your family and your community. The consequences of a terrorist act is obviously devastating to family and community, as we now know all too well.

We also have radio. Let me run for you one of the spots that we have available. Could we hear that, please?

(Radio advertisement played.)

UNDER SECRETARY BEERS: Even though we have announced that we have funds up to $25 million, we should note that all the work here was contributed by people in the United States, and all of the agreements to run the advertising are public service. In fact, we have had pretty amazing response, and this is the first day of the official rollout.

The program director from KONE FM in Lubbock, Texas, thanked us for offering and asking him to put his radio station to work. He intends to run all four spots.

ABC Radio is helping us with distribution, because that is a big part of the cost. And they will be able to put us out on AP Radio, C-SPAN, National Public, Pacifica, Voice of America and so on.

We also have a fast channel that is going to help us to distribute to all 50 states. Through them, we are going to be able to reach print and radio outlets that are really, even on day one, practically covering 95 percent of the population. We are very grateful that Infinity Broadcasting, which has over 108 radio stations in 40 markets, will run the program. And ABC Radio Networks will do so as well.

We have our ad today from The Washington Post that came out first. We also have from their website, www.washingtonpost.com. You can click from them onto the Rewards for Justice website. So we have seen encouraging, heartfelt support from places as diverse as the Houston Chronicle, the St. Louis Dispatch, the Fairbanks Daily and the Charlotte Post. We are encouraged by that sort of support, and I think it is going to get even stronger.

You should note, too, that this is not a one-month idea. We intend to continue with the support. We intend to monitor what kinds of calls we get -- not specific data, of course, but the sort of response. And possibly bring you then back up to date on how we are handling our rollout.

A very interesting aspect of this program is the fact that some private individuals came together and said, what can we do. And they organized a Reward for Justice Fund, which is referred to in this ad here called "You Versus Terrorism." So many people are not likely, of course, to spot a terrorist or even have overheard something critical. But they will be able to contribute money. This money will be added to the $25 million fund that the State Department oversees, and that is another way people can contribute to the fight against terrorism.

Let me introduce you now to David Carpenter, the Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: Thank you, Charlotte. It is a pleasure to be here today to roll out this new advertising campaign. But before I get started, I would like to thank Under Secretary Beers and her staff for their extraordinary efforts. They have helped put together a Madison Avenue quality campaign that will significantly raise the profile of the Rewards for Justice Program and provide us with a significant weapon in the war against international terrorism, and that weapon is information.

The Rewards for Justice Program can be one of the most valuable resources the United States Government has in this war. Through our reward offers, our goal is to save lives through the prevention of international terrorist attacks and capture of international terrorists responsible for such acts, and we have been successful. Over the past seven years, we've paid over $8 million to 22 people who provided information that helped us fight international terrorism and bring to justice its villains.

Perhaps the textbook example of the program's success is the capture of Ramzi Yousef, the terrorist convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Yousef fled the United States shortly after the attack. The State Department offered a reward for his capture and flooded the world with posters, fliers, matchbooks and paid ads in local newspapers.

In February of 1995, a person contacted our embassy in Pakistan. Inspired and motivated by the reward offer, this person told our Diplomatic Security agents in Pakistan that he knew where Yousef was hiding. Further investigation found this information to be credible. Yousef was arrested a few days later by the Pakistani authorities and returned to the United States. He was convicted and is today paying for his crime.

While the arrest put a wanted person in prison, it also prevented additional horrific terrorist attacks. At the time he was captured, Yousef was devising a plan to simultaneously blow up 12 US airliners over the Pacific Ocean. Had our informant not come forward, had Yousef carried out his evil plan, thousands of innocent people of many nationalities would have been killed, victims of yet another brutal terrorist attack.

Because this person potentially placed himself at great risk in providing this information, we paid him a reward of $2 million, the largest amount allowable at that time. While the payment is still our largest to date, today we are offering to pay even more. When the Patriot Act became law in October of this year, the Secretary of State received the authority to offer and pay rewards larger than $5 million, if he determines that such a reward is warranted. Secretary Powell has exercised that authority by approving reward offers up to $25 million for the capture of Usama bin Laden and his al-Qaida associates.

While our reward offers provide substantial monetary incentive, it clearly takes courage to fight terrorism. Following the September 11th attacks, two private American citizens, Joe Rutledge and Scott Case, approached the State Department with an offer to help us fight terrorism. They proposed the creation of the Rewards for Justice Fund, a nongovernmental, nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that gives American citizens the opportunity to donate money to the war on international terrorism. One hundred percent of the money raised by this fund will go to the Rewards for Justice Program and will be available to supplement reward payments. We thank the Fund for their efforts in support of the Rewards for Justice Program and look forward to closely working with them in the future.

The Rewards for Justice Program has been a formidable weapon in America's arsenal to combat international terrorism. While the successes of this program have often gone without public fanfare to protect the identities of those who have assisted us, I can assure you the successes have been significant. I can further assure you that there will be more successes in this war on terrorism, and we expect the campaign we are launching today to play a significant role.

Our efforts can only be successful, however, with help from others. The Rewards for Justice Program is here for people all over the world. People who are tired of the senseless violence and the loss of life, and who may have information that could help prevent, frustrate or favorably resolve acts of international terrorism. With their assistance, a simple phone call, an e-mail, a letter, they can make a difference in this war on terrorism. They can help prevent another day like September 11th. They can save lives and we can and we will reward them handsomely for it.

Thank you very much, and Charlotte and I will be glad to take questions.

QUESTION: I think one of the things a lot of people are concerned about when giving a tip on a terrorist attack or a terrorist is more fear that they will be protected. And although it says that all the calls will be strictly confidential, is part of the campaign or part of the Rewards for Justice Program an area of protecting these people, offering them some kind of protection, so that once they are getting a $25 million reward or something, obviously their name is going to get out and what is that aspect of it?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: Confidentiality is really the baseline for this program. The 22 people that I said have received the rewards over the past seven years, not one of those names has ever been released publicly. Not one of those people has ever been harmed. Nor do I expect any of those people to have their names ever be revealed.

We take great strides -- if these people are in danger, as a result of passing this information on to us, we will relocate them. We will pay for that relocation, pay for relocation for their families, and do whatever is necessary to ensure the integrity of the information that they pass to us.

UNDER SECRETARY BEERS: You should also note that the amount of money is up to $25 million, so it doesn't presume that any one person will necessarily win the lottery.

QUESTION: Right. But just say someone hands in Usama bin Laden, obviously, and they move out of wherever they are, obviously people are going to find out who they are, so --

QUESTION: David, how careful are you or what kind of cautionary words would you have for the American public in regards to some of the information that has come out that something may be in the offing for the end of Ramadan, which I think is this weekend? Do you take these reports seriously or not?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: Of course, you have to take them in the spirit that they are passed on. Clearly, no one has -- as I think you have all heard -- exact information. There is information out there that I think should be heeded and I think people should take precautionary steps. But beyond that, I think Mr. Ridge is on record and the Attorney General as to what people should do at this time.

QUESTION: The release of your program today coincides with the release of the Usama bin Laden tape. If we could, perhaps both of you, your reaction the Usama bin Laden tape and, if you will, what it means from a public relations standpoint?

UNDER SECRETARY BEERS: We had a conversation about that earlier. In a way, it couldn't be better. Because if you had any complacency about, I think, seeing that tape and however a form you happen to access it now would be extremely compelling. We have all studied the tape and I consider it a very important piece of communication. Because I know from the consumer research that we are beginning to do in many parts of the world, that a number of people have a highly vested interest in not believing that bin Laden was part of this, and they might accept that there are other dimensions of it that they can agree.

This clearly keeps you from putting that aside. You have to hear the man talk about his anticipation of the event and the way he and others felt about it. And although each of you may respond differently to it, I think it becomes an important piece of communication. I expect many media in the Middle East to pick it up and use it.

QUESTION: You don't think it's one of those things that if you believed Usama bin Laden did it before, you still believe it, and afterwards you still believe he didn't if that's what you believed before?

UNDER SECRETARY BEERS: I think that there will be some people who just refuse any intake at all on that subject because their whole lives are vested in not believing it. But we have learned that there is a very large group of people out there who just will be very susceptible to such a moment of proof for them personally.

QUESTION: Secretary Carpenter, does the State Department believe that any of the 22 men on the most wanted terrorist list are in the United States?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: Well, first of all, the list you are referring to, I believe, is the FBI's 22 most wanted. There is nothing to suggest that some of those are not. There is nothing to suggest that all or some are.

If we knew where they are, obviously we would go get them. The reality is someone knows where they are. And what this program is appealing to is those people who do know, we're asking them to step forward.

QUESTION: I guess I am curious why you are targeting it to Americans and not worldwide.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: Well, I think September 11th clearly demonstrated that terrorism is not -- does not only take place on foreign shores; it can take place here. And we believe it is important that Americans get involved, know about this program.

This program, as I said, has been in existence since 1984 and has been primarily focused in the overseas arena. We are now making this information known, letting Americans know that they can participate in this and how they go about doing so.

QUESTION: How does this fit in with the other parts of the public diplomacy campaign that you are launching? We have seen some of the ads from that, about how Muslims worship in America, some of the other ads designed to help bridge the gap between the two worlds.

In conjunction with that question of why is this only happening in the United States, is --

UNDER SECRETARY BEERS: It isn't actually. I guess I spoke too swiftly for you to take this in. We are just starting here. It is a very easy and important place for us to be, as David had mentioned.

We soon roll out to the rest of the world, and we will use different forms of media because of the receptivity of different outlets. We will use different copy. We will translate it into 30 languages. And because it is just a little more complex, we started here. And because we think it's very important to understand that in this country there are people who know things we need to know.

QUESTION: You didn't answer the other part of my question, what about these other ads? And is Al Jazeera still on your list of --

UNDER SECRETARY BEERS: You just added another question. Fast.

Let me answer the one, which you asked, what does this have to do with the rest of the communication campaign. A number of the commercials that you see running in the United States are not the work of the State Department, they are Ad Council work, they are contributed by independent, interested parties. And, for the most part, they are talking a lot about relationships to one another.

We are, though, very interested in communicating what Muslim life in America is all about. And our website on the international website has a very beautiful segment on that, reflecting the 1,200 mosques and the way our people live in this country and the vitality of the Muslim life in the United States. I think that the Islam religion has a 30 percent conversion rate, which sounds like a very successful pattern.

In addition to that, we often send to all of our embassies information about Muslim life in America, the most recent of which is a list of 10 of the most beautiful mosques in the United States. So that is how we connect the two.

QUESTION: Is there any concern that now, with this target to the United States audience, that you might inadvertently exacerbate this sense of there being a witch hunt against Arab Americans?

UNDER SECRETARY BEERS: Well, we examined that carefully when we put these ads together. But remember, it is in the nature of this process that no one is being asked to act independently at all. So the attitude in the ads is talking about if you know something, please send it to us. We will treat you with care, we will treat the information confidentially.

So I think we have it tightly controlled in that sense. There is no sense of acting independently.

QUESTION: Can I follow up on exactly that point? At least in the ad that had the picture of Mohammed Atta, it says that, you know, what could have tipped you off to him acting unusually. Was he asking questions about things way out of his league, wanting to learn to fly, wanting to learn to fly but interested in cropdusting, which you list as an obviously risky endeavor, or paying cash. Are you suggesting that people should think that any one of these things is something that should push someone to tip you guys off? I am not sure any of this is unusual at all.

UNDER SECRETARY BEERS: Well, it probably isn't unusual in any one day. But I don't think you can ignore the pattern. We just had two days ago an indictment of the Frenchman whose whole pattern was exactly this, trying to take airplane lessons, investigating cropdusting, applying for hazardous material. The pattern is there and the pattern is simply reflected in all the information that has been released by the FBI. And we are referring to it in here.

We are avoiding any more -- any more acts or ideas that suggest anyone behave any differently. But the point is that let's say you've decided that you found a cropduster of some question. You go and you make your phone call and then it is taken into proper channels then and investigated. So it is not as though we are asking anyone to immediately perform a citizens arrest.

QUESTION: There is a subtext to your questions, that if it's an Arab American or a Middle Eastern looking person who is asking these questions which otherwise might not be suspicious, then that's who you want -- you want someone to drop a dime on them.

UNDER SECRETARY BEERS: Well, I think that we have 19 hijackers. We have profiled them. We have discussed them in every newspaper, I'm sure, in many of yours or radio programs. And it is valid that this man was one of the signature leaders in the hijacking in our country. And, in a particular way, he is considered to be the leader.

So I think he is chosen for one ad to run with this kind of recognition. I think most of the people in the United States are familiar with these patterns associated with the hijacking. And many of these other ads come at it from a totally different angle.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: Let me throw an additional part to that, too, because I think this is an excellent question. Like the anthrax threats that came out, where the government was, through the media, talking about what the letter looked like, the block print, the excess postage, no return address or a return address that -- I think there is an obligation to point out certain things that people should be aware of.

I mean, we only know what we know. And when we know that, when we have something that indicates things and patterns to look for, we think it is prudent to pass these on to the public. That is what these ads are doing. No one is suggesting that this is the only thing you should look at. But these are just things that key interest in people's minds, get the interest there. We are not trying to suggest a witch hunt or anything like that, but get people -- we are asking for people to have an understanding of what we do know and things that they should be leery of and wary of.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, let me ask you a question, a $5 million reward on Usama bin Laden was going on for a long time and it did not bring any results. Then it went up to $25 million. What is holding that -- because many people knew where he was hiding, where he was, including Pakistan's ISI. So why they couldn't get him here -- it's a large money, very large money, $5 million or $25 million.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: Well, I think $2 million was a lot of money when we were offering $2 million. I think $5 million was a lot of money and certainly $25 million is much, much more.

There are a lot of individuals, the FBI has 22 most wanted. The offer of $5 million has not brought any of those people in. That is because those people are in hiding. At some point, they may reveal themselves. Some individuals may become privy to where they are, see something that they can tip off authorities.

As Charlotte talked about, the program that we are unveiling today isn't just today. We are going to continue doing this and continuing spreading the word. We are going to continue looking for these people. And no one is going to suggest that we are going to catch them in 2001 as it winds down, or 2002. But the focus is to get them someplace, let them know that they're wanted, let other people know that we are looking for them and that they can get a reward if they turn them in.

QUESTION: How are you going to get this on foreign media? And are you going to pay for either this campaign or other campaigns on Al Jazeera or any other media?

UNDER SECRETARY BEERS: I think that Mr. Carpenter has money, and part of what we will be doing is when necessary, we will use paid media. We have other kinds of outlets, for instance things that are stickers or matchbook covers and so on, which will be distributed. But we will just have to see if we can engage the media in various parts of the world in terms of letting us run this.

There is an international Ad Council much like the United States' Ad Council, and we are talking to them about whether or not they have media time that they would contribute, newspaper time and radio. Also, our clients in the United States -- there goes my old language. National advertisers in the United States have media time that they may contribute. So that I think we have many opportunities to get into the media outlets and some rather unexpected, less orthodox media outlets.

QUESTION: Could you tell us what the thinking is behind plans to add some specified Palestinians to the list of wanted people for which you will be offering rewards?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: For the past 18 months, we have been examining the issue of terrorist acts against Americans in Israel. And the decision, at least part of the decision was, can we be helpful in that process. The decision has been made that perhaps we can. And we are in the process of developing on our website individuals we believe that have participated in terrorist attacks against Americans throughout the world or specifically in Israel. There will be more to come on this, but this is definitely in the early stages of development.

QUESTION: Mr. Carpenter, can you say what information has been collected to date and is there any information you have turned over to the FBI from the mail or e-mails or phone calls you may have gotten?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: The Rewards for Justice Program generates a lot of response, a lot of mail, a lot of e-mail tips. I am not at liberty to talk about volume. At some point, we hope to. We want to see the effectiveness of this campaign. If this campaign does not generate more leads, then we are certainly not going to spend our money in this way and we will look for another way to do it.

We would hope to be able to report back to you in the next two or three months the results, if we did get some information, although we are not going to be able to go into specifics on it. We can talk about volume and things that have been developed as a result of this program.

QUESTION: Have you gotten anything to date since September 11th?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARPENTER: Have we gotten -- we receive a lot of mail, Betsy, and a lot of hits on the website, and people have stepped forward and given us leads that are still being pursued.

QUESTION: Can you talk about the size of your budget, how much money you're devoting to develop these ads, and also going forward?

UNDER SECRETARY BEERS: This budget is focused almost exclusively on the rewards money itself. We have had our work contributed by individuals in the United States. We have Public Service offering to run the ads. You heard us talk about various radio and newspaper systems offering to help us make for distribution channels. So we have had almost no cost associated with launching this campaign, nor running it. It will be a different story outside the United States and we are not sure what that budget will involve.

Before we close, I just wanted to mention that the two gentlemen who started this Rewards for Justice Fund are here in the audience, Joe Rutledge and Scott Case. If you will just stand up? I think we owe them a vote of appreciation because their fund is calculated to bring us some more funds to put on top of our up to $25 million.

I thank you.

[For additional information see fact sheet on the Rewards of Justice Program]

 



Released on December 13, 2001

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