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White House Press Conference

Aired February 26, 2003 - 13:24   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're taking you live to the White House -- Ari Fleischer.
ARI FLEISCHER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECY.: ... Britain and Spain. The president has consulted several times with Prime Minister Chretien on Iraq, although Canada, an important ally in the war on terrorism, is not a U.N. Security Council member. The two leaders pledged to stay in close contact and to consult as the process moves forward.

Then the president had an intelligence briefing, an FBI briefing. The president this morning did a drop-by the Latino Coalition, where he gave a speech about the domestic economy and urged the Senate to take action to confirm Miguel Estrada to the bench.

He also met with the president of Azerbaijan, which was a very cordial and warm meeting as well. He thanked the president of Azerbaijan for his strong support in the war on terror.

He had lunch with the vice president. Let me go back on that. He had lunch, I'm not certain if it was with the vice president. I'll have to get back on that.

And then later this evening the president will make remarks at the American Enterprise Institute annual dinner. The focus of the president's remarks will be about Iraq and the situation there.

With that, I'm happy to take your questions.

QUESTION: On the Canadian call, is there anything that the president finds acceptable in their compromise proposal at the U.N.?

FLEISCHER: Well, the president has offered a resolution that he thinks is the way to go. And the president will continue to talk to leaders around the world to make the case for that resolution, and he is confident in the end that his position will be accepted and voted on.

QUESTION: What's his feeling about the Canadian resolution?

FLEISCHER: Why don't you describe it to me.


FLEISCHER: If there's something specific you want to bring to my attention about it...

(CROSSTALK) QUESTION: ... it would push back the timetable.

FLEISCHER: The president has not established a timetable. The president has said that time is running out and he has said weeks, not months, and that's the timetable the president has established.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) extend the deadline as well.

FLEISCHER: The resolution that the president has proposed in the United Nations with our allies does not discuss a specific hard resolution -- date.

QUESTION: So what do you think about establishing...


FLEISCHER: The president believes that the resolution that the United States, the U.K. and Spain have proposed is the right way to go, and that's what he is urging action to be taken on.

QUESTION: Is it accurate then to say he opposes the Canadian compromise?

FLEISCHER: The point the president is making is that time is running out and that this issue has to come to a conclusion, that the time is coming for Saddam Hussein to be disarmed, and that's the point the president has made.

QUESTION: Ari, the president's going to talk tonight about the future of Iraq as he sees it. What does he think is the level of sacrifice and some of the downsides to American-led occupation of Iraq after an invasion? And what does he envision the immediate outcome will be not only in Iraq, but in the area?

FLEISCHER: The president will get into this at some length tonight. But this will be a big picture speech about the situation in Iraq, it'll be a big picture piece about peace and disarmament. The president will talk in the speech about what the future may hold, not only for the people of Iraq, once liberated and allowed to become on their own democratic, but also what it means for the security of the region, because the president believes that a free Iraq will lead to a more stable Mideast.

QUESTION: What about the consequences of American-led occupation of a country in the Middle East?

FLEISCHER: Well, the president has made clear that in the event of hostilities in Iraq the United States will stay for as long as is necessary, but not a day longer.

FLEISCHER: And therefore the president continues to look at this as a situation where the people of Iraq are capable of governing Iraq, and that is the future of Iraq -- an Iraq governed by the Iraqis.

QUESTION: One more question about this. I mean, everybody talks about democracy and liberation for the Iraqi people. I mean, he doesn't really believe that it's going be the sort of democracy that exists here in America, does it?

FLEISCHER: Tune in tonight. The president has very strong...

QUESTION: Wait a second. Why do the American people have to wait until a speech before the American Enterprise Institute? Why can't you just answer the question? We're not talking about organic democracy the way it exists here, right, because if that were the case then maybe...


FLEISCHER: Well, if I answer your question are you going to go to the speech? I want you to still attend the speech tonight.

QUESTION: You know I'll be both places.

FLEISCHER: I hope -- at the same time.

No, the president of course believes that democracy can spread to Iraq. Why shouldn't it? Democracy is not boxed in. Democracy doesn't live in limits. Democracy, as the president says, is God's gift to the world. Liberty does not come from America, liberty is a naturally endowed right that comes from the creator, according to our own Declaration of Independence.

There is no region of the world that the president does not think that democracy can spread. And the president does believe that the people of Iraq are fully capable of living under a democratic way of life. Of course they are.

QUESTION: Then why is he going to bomb them? I mean, how do you bomb people back to democracy? This is a question of conquest. They didn't ask to be liberated by the United States. This is our self- imposed political solution for them.

FLEISCHER: Let me guess that you will not be at the speech tonight.

The president's going to...

QUESTION: I will be very interested in what the president has said because I don't think -- I think if you ask five people anywhere what's the reason the president wants to go to war you'll get five different answers. Usually there's one defining moment and solution.

FLEISCHER: Tonight the president is going to discuss this. I think you will hear the president tonight talk about the threat of Saddam Hussein and how he poses a danger to the American...


QUESTION: In 12 years he hasn't done anything.

FLEISCHER: We will temporary suspend the Q&A portion of today's briefing to bring you this advocacy minute.

QUESTION: Ari, how much is this war going to cost?

FLEISCHER: That will depend on a number of factors, many of them up to Saddam Hussein and to Saddam Hussein's henchmen. If Saddam Hussein and his henchmen do not follow orders, if they don't follow the orders from Saddam Hussein, that can lead to one scenario. And so it is too soon to say with precision how much this war will cost.

QUESTION: You can do better than that, with all respect. The administration has to have gamed out these scenarios and put numbers, dollar figures to them. And I wonder, you have been reluctant to tell us what those numbers might be.


QUESTION: Why be reluctant to level with the American people about the real dollar costs of the war?

FLEISCHER: It's not a question of leveling. There is unquestionably a responsibility on the executive branch to provide to the legislative branch an estimate about what the war would cost, what the humanitarian operation would cost, and that is a responsibility the administration takes seriously.

Because we take it seriously, I'm not in a position to speculate about what the number may be. At the appropriate time, and if the president makes the determination to use force, a request for the funding will of course be sent up to the Congress and then it will be based on the latest information that is available. It is too soon to be able to have any type of reliable number to indicate right now.

QUESTION: But you said there are scenarios. It would cost X amount of money with scenario one.


QUESTION: You have to have done that. Why not share those, so that people get a sense...

FLEISCHER: Because scenarios...

QUESTION: ... how much they will be called upon to pay.

FLEISCHER: ... scenarios aren't sent up to the Congress. Supplemental requests for funding are sent up to the Congress based on more recent information, and it's too soon to say at this point. That's the answer.

QUESTION: Can you explain for us how deposing Saddam Hussein improves the chances for Mideast peace?

FLEISCHER: The president will discuss this tonight. But suffice it to say that Saddam Hussein has provided funding for terrorism in the Middle East, for suicide bombers. Saddam Hussein is a force of instability in the Middle East. And the president does believe that the more there is movements toward democracy in the region, movements toward reform, movements toward government that is helpful and reform minded toward the people, the better the prospects for peace broadly speaking.

QUESTION: So are you saying that there's a direct linkage between violence in the Middle East and Saddam?


FLEISCHER: Well, unquestionably, when Saddam Hussein pays suicide bombers to engage in suicide bombing, it's a direct correlation.


QUESTION: ... historically and ideologically Iran has been a much bigger influence in that area than Saddam has ever been. And are you saying that if you remove Saddam from power suddenly you can pave the path to Mideast peace.

FLEISCHER: I know you will be at the speech tonight as well.

QUESTION: Ari, you know, many estimates we've seen of the war's costs are in tens of billions, up over $100 billion. Can you explain the wisdom of continuing to pursue hundreds of billions in tax cuts when you have this large potential liability out there that could increase the budget deficit? And didn't Lyndon Johnson get in trouble for the same sort of thinking during Vietnam, of wanting to maintain his fiscal program while funding the Vietnam War?

FLEISCHER: Whether or not the president decides to authorize the use of force, it is vital for our country that the economy grow. And the president believes one of the best ways to help the economy grow is to provide the tax relief that can give a boost to the economy and create jobs for the American people.

Whether or not the president authorizes the use of force, the American people deserve to have jobs. And whether or not the president authorizes the use of force, it still is important to get prescription drugs to our nation's seniors and to strengthen the Medicare program.

I'm certain you would not suggest that if we go to war seniors somehow don't deserve prescription drugs. There is still a series of initiatives that are important, and the fundamental focus of the president will be on growth policies can help people get jobs and get the economy growing stronger.

QUESTION: So the deficit doesn't matter at all? I mean, he doesn't consider that a factor in the economy?

FLEISCHER: Clearly, it does. And that's why the president is focused on policies that create growth, because the president believes that growth policies are the best ways to deal with deficits.

QUESTION: Is the president going to talk at all tonight about the road map for peace in the Middle East? Is he going to get that specific?

FLEISCHER: He will talk about prospects for peace in the Middle East.

QUESTION: How much of the speech will be devoted to Israelis and Palestinians, and specifically to Israel?

FLEISCHER: I'm not going to get into percentages or numbers.

The speech is coming up and we're trying to build an audience. I'm sure many people are going to tune in tonight.

QUESTION: Is it on the air?

FLEISCHER: Is it on the air, the speech?

QUESTION: Is it going to be televised?

FLEISCHER: That's not a question you should address to me.

QUESTION: On North Korea, does diplomacy represent a change in the Bush doctrine about preemptively dealing with threats?

FLEISCHER: Of course not. The strategic policies of the administration include numerous different tactics to deal with different threats depending on what the threat is in any different region of the world. And so the administration has a series of options available to it. And in the case of North Korea, the president has made the judgment that diplomacy is the path to take.

QUESTION: Ari, I'd like to ask you about a couple of meetings that were reported; one between President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld and the head of OMB to discuss the cost of war. Can you tell us if there were any figures during that meeting that you can tell us about?

And secondly, there was reportedly a meeting between President Bush and President Putin's top aide, Alexander Voloshin. What was discussed there? Are the Russians getting closer to supporting the U.S. on the U.N. resolution?

FLEISCHER: On your second question, that was not a reported meeting. I told you about it. I announced that the meeting would take place and I briefed on that the other day.

The president discussed his thinking about the situation in Iraq and the deepening and strengthening United States relationship with Russia.

On your first question, as I indicated that while it's too soon to get into any specific numbers until something is sent to the Hill, it is, of course, the responsibility of the executive branch to make a proposal. And so you can certainly expect that the administration is focusing on what the proposal may ultimately be if the president decides to authorize force.

QUESTION: So it wasn't a meeting?



FLEISCHER: Yesterday.

QUESTION: Ari, did the president wait until after the Israeli elections to speak on the problem of peace in the Middle East? In general, how crucial does he think solving the Arab-Israeli conflict is to be the overall question in the Middle East?

FLEISCHER: Well, the president thinks solving the Arab-Israeli problem is central to resolving many of the issues in the Middle East. And the president believes the best way to solve that problem is through the reform of the Palestinian institutions so that Israel has a partner in peace and that the Palestinians have assurances that Israel, living in peace and security, will recognize and allow a Palestinian state to grow and to prosper.

QUESTION: So that sounds very much like what he said in the past. So we shouldn't expect anything new on that?

FLEISCHER: You'll find out tonight.

QUESTION: Did he wait until after the Israeli elections to make this speech?

FLEISCHER: Well, no. I think the speech, as you will see tonight, is going to be about several things not just the big picture about Israeli-Palestinian and Middle East peace. That will indeed be a component of the speech. So there will be other aspects in the speech, as well.

But clearly, there was an election in Israel. And I think it's fairly obvious that, for example, if somebody were to make a proposal in, let's say, October of 2000 -- October of 2004 from a foreign country into the United States, that might not be the most propitious time to make a proposal if you really want to work with interested parties in a substantive way to move things forward.

QUESTION: Did the defense secretary share with the president his sense of what the Defense Department's numbers might be on the cost of war?

FLEISCHER: I really have nothing I'm going to indicate beyond what I've said before. I think the process is something you're very familiar with anytime any administration would make any proposal to the Hill for supplemental spending. The conversation will, of course, take place about what it could be. And once additional information, accurate information is in hand, then the administration will be in a position to send something to the Hill if the president authorizes the use of force.

QUESTION: Now, we all understand that the president hasn't made a decision yet either on war or on the cost of the war, and that at some point he will and that there are a lot of variables. I'm more interested in finding out whether or not Defense Secretary Rumsfeld told him what officials are saying today, which is that their estimate of the Defense Department part of this effort would be $75 billion to $85 billion.

FLEISCHER: I'm just not going to get into any speculation about numbers.

QUESTION: I'm not asking speculation. I'm just asking if Rumsfeld told the president what officials are telling reporters today.

FLEISCHER: It's not my position to speak for the secretary of defense.

QUESTION: Has the president actually been told anything without regard for what it is? Have numbers been shared with (OFF-MIKE)

FLEISCHER: At the appropriate time, when the administration has something that is ready to get sent up to the Hill, if there is something, we will share it.

QUESTION: I was asking if the president -- if anybody had shared numbers with the president?

FLEISCHER: I answered the question. I've given you what I can give you on the topic.

QUESTION: I think you said this morning that a supplemental would go out if the president does decide to order military action and go immediately or very soon after the military action begins. Is that correct?

FLEISCHER: I said the timing will be determined whether it is immediately or in short order thereafter.

QUESTION: Short order thereafter. But how will you know what you need to spend at that point?

FLEISCHER: This is why the timing remains an open question.

QUESTION: You said immediately or very shortly thereafter...

FLEISCHER: I said immediately, very shortly or thereafter. This is why the timing remains an open question as to what short order is defined as.

QUESTION: Do you know if you're going to do many supplementals or just one?

FLEISCHER: No. I mean, again, you're running on the same topic asking me to predict the future with precision, and I just cannot accurately, reliably do that. There will come a time when that is knowable and sayable. That time has not yet arrived.

QUESTION: I have a question about the CBS broadcast tonight, but first of all, could you address the second half of the question about the Malaysian meeting? Did that meeting produce any movement toward the United States position...


FLEISCHER: It's exactly as I read out the other day. And any further discussion about Russia's position in the United Nations Security Council needs to be addressed to Russian spokespeople.

QUESTION: Yes, (OFF-MIKE) today, not a few days ago, when you spoke about Iraq.

FLEISCHER: No. The meeting that took place there -- I think the question dealt with Russia, according to the chief of staff, which came here to visit. That meeting took place I believe yesterday.


FLEISCHER: I read it out.


FLEISCHER: Yesterday or the day before. But in any case, I read it out, and I answered the questions. If you're asking what Russia's position on the Security Council may be, that's a question for Russian officials.

QUESTION: On the CBS broadcast, you said this morning that the U.S. position was you had gone to CBS and asked for the ability to participate in the broadcast tonight and they said it would be the president or nothing. Do you understand that this morning at least they have come back and said that they would find it acceptable if it were the president, the vice president or the secretary of state. Is that something that...

FLEISCHER: Subsequent to the phone conversation that took place, CBS has said to the White House that they would be willing to have other guests on, and I want to make a couple points.

One, is I think the American media generally are going to be facing some interesting and difficult decisions as Iraq puts people out to engage in propaganda. I believe that in this case Dan Rather deserves to be congratulated for giving a serious journalistic interview with Saddam Hussein.

However, we view what Saddam Hussein has said as propaganda and lies. And so the appropriate response is something that we will, of course, talk to CBS about to see at what level and who could go out and respond to it. And that's a conversation we'll have with CBS.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) accept the offer of the president, vice president or the secretary of state?

FLEISCHER: Well, as I indicate, we will talk to CBS about the appropriate person to respond, and timing of response, et cetera. I made the point I made.

QUESTION: Maybe CBS made a mistake by not taking you up on the original.

FLEISCHER: I characterized it as I did this morning, and my characterization stands, and that's what I have to indicate on it.

QUESTION: Ari, when you sent up a budget earlier -- at the turn of this month, you anticipated approximately a $300 billion deficit. Given all this war planning and talk about subsequent cuts, are you anticipating a contingency of larger deficits than $300 billion?

FLEISCHER: Well, again, it all depends on the status of the economy. It depends on the decisions that get made, not only on a separate method, but on other spending issues pending in the Congress.

FLEISCHER: But clearly the president has identified priorities. His priorities are economic growth. His priorities are funding homeland security, providing for our national defense.

One the best ways to test whether or not the deficit will grow out of control will be to test whether or not Congress is curbing its spending appetite.

And this all goes into what creates a deficit.

QUESTION: You don't anticipate war costs as being one of those factors?

FLEISCHER: Well, of course, I said in protecting national defense. That's clearly included in the sup.

QUESTION: You said many times, whether in reference to foreign protests, domestic protests, questions from the Hill, wherever, that the president welcomes an honest and open debate about how we move forward on Iraq. But given the concerns over the deficit, given the concerns over the economy, isn't it fair to include in that debate, even with all the caveats you wanted to attach to it, some preliminary figures on what this might cost, best-case scenario, worst-case scenario, so that people around the country and people on Capitol Hill can make up their minds about how we move forward?

FLEISCHER: You're asking the same question over and over again. My answer is exactly the same, nothing has changed.

QUESTION: Well, the reason we're asking over and over again is it doesn't seem unreasonable to get at least a cost range, with all the appropriate caveats; you know everybody in this room is careful about reporting those. What's the harm in putting that out?

FLEISCHER: For the exact reasons I gave earlier, that as soon as something is knowable that we will have additional information to share on it.

But I think you'd also not want the White House to engage in any speculation about numbers that could fluctuate or be dramatically different. So, it's too soon to say.

QUESTION: The recently departed Larry Lindsay put forward an estimate back in December based a percentage of GDP which was in line with the spending...

FLEISCHER: Are you asking me to follow the example and be recently departed?


Thank you.

QUESTION: The French prime minister, can I ask for your response to his assertion that war now in Iraq would be precipitous and illegitimate?

FLEISCHER: We'll continue the course of the consultations and the diplomatic discussions with all the members on the Security Council. And France's position is known, President Bush has talked with President Chirac about it, and the process will continue until the day of the vote.

QUESTION: You're not prepared to respond to his assertion that it would be precipitous and illegitimate?

FLEISCHER: Well, the president thinks that the most precipitous thing in the world would be to leave the illegitimate rulers of Iraq in a position to have weapons of mass destruction that they could use against the American people or others in the region.

FLEISCHER: That, to the president, is the most precipitous thing of all.

QUESTION: Illegitimate?

FLEISCHER: I don't think Saddam Hussein is a legitimate leader, no. Is he elected by his people? I think he's a brutal dictator and a torturer. Yes, illegitimate.

QUESTION: Ari, does the president's understanding of the First Amendment's constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of religion mean that he believes that Cardinal McCarrick should go to jail if he does not suspend the seal of the confessional in cases of pedophilia, as being proposed by a number of state legislators?

FLEISCHER: It's not the place of the president to decide who goes to jail in our country.

QUESTION: No, I know, but the question is, does he believe that Cardinal McCarrick should go to jail if he doesn't suspend the sacrament of penance?

FLEISCHER: I think you need to address your question to different people.

QUESTION: All right.

At the time of Desert Storm the first President Bush, as you remember, compared Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler. And my question is, from your extensive knowledge of the media, do you know of any instance where Edward R. Murrow of CBS ever interviewed or even tried to interview or even wanted to interview Adolf Hitler? FLEISCHER: I addressed the topic earlier, and I addressed it in what I think is a serious journalistic issue. And I do think that journalists are going to get put into a position where they are performing their duty for the United States by having Iraqi officials talk to them. That's appropriate.

I think it's also appropriate for the White House to have a response, because this is propaganda. And that's the White House view.

QUESTION: My information is Murrow never even thought of interviewing Hitler. Did he? Did he, Ari?

FLEISCHER: I've expressed my opinions on the issue.

QUESTION: Two quick ones, please.

Does the president have any reaction to the Supreme Court ruling today about abortion demonstrations?

FLEISCHER: I have not heard about the Supreme Court case yet, so I don't have anything for you on that. Let me see if there is anything on that.

QUESTION: And any follow-up, any more comments about rescinding the executive order situation?

FLEISCHER: No, nothing -- there's nothing to report since yesterday.

QUESTION: Ari, you said yesterday that if we go to war with Iraq, the Iraqi leadership, including Saddam Hussein, would be a legitimate target under international law. Does this mean that if we go to war with Iraq our leadership will be a legitimate target under international law?

FLEISCHER: I think you should address that to an international lawyer.

But the point remains the same. Our nation is threatened. All people in our nation are threatened by Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction. We know that terrorists desire to strike the United States. We know terrorists desire to strike the leadership of the United States. We don't know definitively if that fourth airplane was heading toward the White House or the Congress.

FLEISCHER: So we do know that we are at war with people who want to seek maximum damage on our country and its leadership.

QUESTION: But you made a judgment yesterday under international law that Saddam would be a legitimate target. So does that mean our leadership would be a legitimate target?

FLEISCHER: I have no intention of becoming Saddam Hussein's international lawyer. You can find another one. QUESTION: The second question is, can I take from what you said earlier that the reason Lawrence Lindsey was fired was because he made an estimate about the cost of war with Iraq?

FLEISCHER: No, I was having fun with Dick (ph). That's why I said that. And I wanted to get myself out of having to dodge the question again.


QUESTION: Ari, the National Governors Association has recommended that seniors who are duly eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid have those costs paid by the federal government. What is the White House view on that?

FLEISCHER: Well, the White House is working with the Congress about the best way to get non-prescription drugs to seniors and to modernize the program so it is reflective of medicine in the 21st century, which has changed dramatically since 1965 when Medicare was invented where Medicare basically focused on just visits to hospitals and visits to doctors.

The question about dual eligibility, such as similarly the questions about queen-bees (ph) and slim-bees (ph) and other low- income seniors who receive their Medicaid coverage paid for under Medicare are all part of the complicated mix of Medicare issues that will likely get looked at by the Congress this year.

COOPER: You have been listening to a live press conference from the White House. Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, talking about a wide range of issues over the last 40 minutes or 30 minutes or so. Basically nothing really new he said. He said the president has not established a timetable regarding possible action against Iraq.

He said decisions will be made of course in weeks, not months, reiterating what President Bush has been saying for quite some time now. Ari Fleischer also quoting the president as saying time is running out for Saddam Hussein.

On the aftermath of what a post-Saddam Hussein, post-war Iraq might look like, Ari Fleischer saying the president believes democracy can spread to Iraq, saying democracy is the right of all people, no reason for it not to be able to take root in Iraq.

Very reluctant, Ari Fleischer was, to be pinned down on the dollars and cents, on the cost of any possible military operation against Iraq and the cost of any reconstruction operation, humanitarian operation, after any war.

Ari Fleischer really refusing to be pinned down on any dollar amount, saying -- quote -- "not going to get into any speculation about numbers," not even willing to say whether President Bush has been talking numbers with -- whether advisers have been talking numbers with President Bush, wouldn't even be pinned down on saying whether or not that conversation has taken place.

Outside the White House right now, we are joined by Suzanne Malveaux, who has more on the dollars and cents -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, really what's happening at the White House, the president is working on two fronts. One, a very public one. We saw him earlier today at the Latino coalition talking about the need to disarm Saddam Hussein.

He also met with the leader of Azerbeijan, trying to build a coalition of the willing. He also called the Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, to talk about the need for the U.N. Security Council members to pass that second resolution.

But as you mentioned, really there's a whole other front taking place that is behind the scenes, that is out of the public's eye. That was yesterday, there was a secret meeting between the president, as well as Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and the head of the Office of Management and Budget, Mitchell Daniels. They were talking about the war costs for a potential war.

A senior administration official telling me the president was not presented with a supplemental proposal, but that, yes, they did talk about the possibilities and all of the different scenarios and the costs that were associated with that. We understand that the Pentagon, from our source, say, estimate it to be anywhere from $60 billion to $95 billion.

Another senior administration official I spoke with says that really, what this is simply a wish list. This is simply prudent planning that the head of OMB earlier, you may recall, came up with the dollar figure of $61 billion for potential costs of the war. That, based on the cost of the Persian Gulf War. Most of that cost picked up by the allies. That, senior administration officials saying that that would equal about $82 billion and some change this time around.

But yes, it is a wide range. It is something they have not pinned down, but they are certainly discussing it -- Anderson.

COOPER: Suzanne, do we have any sense that $60-$90 dollar figure, is that just the cost of the war alone coming from the Pentagon, or is that also dealing with humanitarian assistance post- Saddam Iraq?

MALVEAUX: Well, from what our sources are telling us, that that includes everything, that is the post-Saddam regime, that is the humanitarian aid, that that includes just about all the possible scenarios that they can go over, but again, they are saying this is not a hard and fast number. These figures could change, depending on how long the war lasts or whether or not other allies decide that they are going to pick up some of those costs, that you really can't predict it at this time, but they are certainly looking at the range of numbers and those wide possibilities.

COOPER: And as we've just seen in that press conference, Ari Fleischer reluctant to be pinned down on any specifics at that point. We appreciate you joining us. Thanks very much.


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