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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

White House Briefing

Aired October 11, 2002 - 12:27   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer is answering reporters' questions now on this latest series of shooting sprees in the Washington area.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

QUESTION: ... Nobel Committee chairman, in giving President Carter the award, said that the former president's success in using diplomacy in negotiating peace between Egypt and Israel, he contrasted that with President Bush's threats to use force against Iraq and said, quote, "It's a kick in the leg to all that follow the same line as the United States." Your response to that?

ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, the president thinks that this is a great day for President Jimmy Carter and an important moment, and that's why he called to congratulate Jimmy Carter. And I can't reflect any beyond that. That's what the president is focused on, that's what the president has said.

QUESTION: Well, you told us that -- earlier today you gave us the briefing that he called President Carter and what he thought about the award, but I'm asking for your reaction to the chairman of that same committee, a very prestigious committee, saying giving the award to President Carter is a kick in the leg to all those who follow the same as the United States. What's your reaction to that connection...

FLEISCHER: Again, the president thinks it's a great day for Jimmy Carter. That's what he's going to focus on.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) great day for the American people? And did Carter express to the president his well-known opposition to war against Iraq? And I have another unrelated question.

FLEISCHER: OK. I can just tell it was a friendly call, it was a short call, and the purpose of the call was to congratulate him on the winning of the Nobel Peace Prize. And I don't have any more information if they talked about anything else. I don't know that they did.

QUESTION: Did that come up at all?

FLEISCHER: I don't know if anything else came up. Nobody's told me that it did.

QUESTION: My unrelated question is, does the president think we should have fingerprinting on ballistic bullets and so forth, which the NRA opposed and the Congress went against, now that they see it's a sniper...

FLEISCHER: Let me take a look at that specifically and see if there's something I can post on that topic. I'll take that.

QUESTION: Is the White House drawing up plans for a military occupation of Iraq?

FLEISCHER: On the question of what would happen in Iraq in the event of military action in a post-Saddam Hussein era, I think it's fair to say that the administration is determined that if this becomes a matter of military action that we not let Iraq fall apart.

The administration wants to make certain that stability can be achieved. And to do that, they are working through our -- working with as many -- there's many, many options that are being review: international partners, the United Nations. We are looking at the possibility of U.S. civil affairs units of the military having an involvement in a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.

The point is, we are looking for how to quickly transfer power to the Iraqi people both inside Iraq and from outside Iraq. And in the process, we want to make certain that stability is achieved so the Iraqi people can have water, they can have food, they can have heat, they can have electricity. And those are the issues that are being looked at now.

QUESTION: You're talking about a very significant nation- building role and nation-governing role at least for the short-term for the American military, right?

FLEISCHER: Well, the purpose of the military, in the president's opinion, has not changed, and that is to fight and win wars. If it becomes a matter of using the military, that is what the military will be used for.

But at the end of the day when military conflict has come to an end, the question then becomes, in a post-Saddam Hussein era, how to make certain that the country remains unified, that it is stabilized and that the region has stability. And that's important. And the United States will not cut and run from that mission.

QUESTION: Just one more on this: Isn't there a huge danger...

BLITZER: Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, answering reporters' questions on a story in the "New York Times" today on what would happen after a war in Iraq, how much the U.S. would be involved in trying to set up a new regime, a post-Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, going through some details there.

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