THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
May 21, 2002
PRESS BRIEFING BY ARI FLEISCHER
[excerpts on the President's Daily Brief]
Q: On the August 6th memo or analysis report that the President received, is the reason that he doesn't want to release that to congressional investigators is that that he fears that Democrats will use the other secret contents of that report for political purposes, in an attempt to embarrass him?
MR. FLEISCHER: David, I don't really think it's anything, per se, about that memo, in and of itself, on the 6th as much as it is the overall principle about the President's daily brief, which is shared with such an extraordinarily small number of people who are in a need-to-know situation, a need-to-know position, so they can use that information to protect the country, to prevent the next possible attack.
I think that's what the President is concerned with. He's also concerned with the fact that if the presidential daily brief, which is a highly sensitized -- the most highly sensitized classified document in the government -- if that document were to be at risk of public reporting, public release, the people who prepare it will hold back and not give the President of the United States, the person who needs most of the -- the most information, they will be inclined to give him less, rather than more, because they fear it will get made public and that could compromise sources or methods.
Q: If I can just follow up. Are there negotiations underway now that would allow the intelligence committees to review that report secretly or --
MR. FLEISCHER: I don't think so. I'm not aware of any, David. Because the administration has strong thoughts about the presidential daily brief which have been conveyed --
Q: If it gets --
MR. FLEISCHER: We'll continue to talk to Congress. I mean, this is an ongoing process and we're going to make this a process where we work well together. The nation deserves that Congress and the presidency to work well together on this type of investigation.
Q: If it's subpoenaed -- if it's subpoenaed, will the President refuse to turn it over?
MR. FLEISCHER: David, that's a hypothetical that I really don't think Congress is going to put themselves in the middle of. John.
Q: Ari, questions on two different subjects. This wonderfully cooperative attitude that the White House takes toward the Hill probe into the events of September 11th -- a provision of 185,000 documents, the seeing of how important it is that they continue their job -- will that extend to the President's time, himself, and will he be willing to answer investigators' questions himself if they should have any for him?
MR. FLEISCHER: James, we'll continue to cooperate with the Congress, and as Congress makes requests, the administration will always evaluate them.
Q: Ari, you've been talking about how important it is for Congress to conduct a thorough investigation of what happened before September 11th and how information was used and shared. But how can they possibly do that if you will not give them -- maybe even just a selected group of people, members of the intelligence community -- a look at the briefings and what President Bush was actually told before September 11th. How they can have a thorough review?
MR. FLEISCHER: This is something that will be worked out with the Congress in terms of their ability to get the information they need to do their jobs. While at the same time, I think Congress would be the first one to tell you that they don't want to compromise anything as a result of an investigation. So it's a classic piece of balancing between the legislature, the executive and national security. And it's been done before in our history and I think it can be done this time, as well.
Q: But how? I mean, what -- I mean, can't you just give some of the -- you know, just a couple of the -- maybe the chairman of the committees of what these briefings -- or will you not even do that?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, again, we will continue to work this out. But I don't think Congress is asking for every piece of every iota of every single detail of classified information. They will -- they're expert there. They will work to get the information that in their judgment they need to carry out their investigation, and we'll work with them on it.