Index

December 28, 1999

INTERVIEW OF THE PRESIDENT BY CHARLIE ROSE OF 60 MINUTES II

5:10 P.M. EST




                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary
___________________________________________________________________________
                             ________________
For Immediate Release
     December 28, 1999


                        INTERVIEW OF THE PRESIDENT
                     BY CHARLIE ROSE OF 60 MINUTES II

                              The Oval Office
                             December 22, 1999



5:10 P.M. EST


     Q    Mr. President, because of the recent arrest and heightened
security concerns at airports, do you expect, worry, that there will be an
incident of terrorism before the first of the year?

     THE PRESIDENT:   Well, we are on a heightened state of alert and we're
doing a lot of work on this.  But l would say to the American people, they
should go on about their business and celebrate the holidays as they would,
but they should be aware.  You know, this whole millennial idea draws out a
lot of people who are maybe, by our standards, deranged, and other people
maybe want to use if for their own political ends.  So if people see
anything suspicious, they should report it to the authorities as quickly as
possible.  But otherwise, I should say, they should go on about their
business.  We're working very, very hard on this.

     Q    It worries you?

     THE PRESIDENT:   No, I?m concerned, but I think we have, I think, t
best law enforcement folks we could have and they are working very hard.
And we're doing quite well so far.  So I have every hope that we?ll get
through it.   But I think that what I would ask the American people to do
is not to stay at home and hide, but just to keep their eyes open.  If they
see something that looks fishy, tell the authorities and we?ll get on it.
But they should know that we're working this very hard.

.................


     Q    Do you see, on the other hand, people who we might consider
friends, like Western Europe, becoming more rivals because --

     THE PRESIDENT:  I think the only way that would happen is if it were
provoked by greater protectionism, economic protectionism outside the
borders of Europe.  That is, Europe could get so big and they could
integrate the economy of Europe, and they?ll have a lot of poor countries
coming in -- just like we have poor states and poor regions.  If they close
their economy, rather than opened it, that could be a difficult thing.  But
I think it?s far more likely that our former enemies will become at least
friendlier, if we?re not friends; and that all of us together will face the
enemies of the nation state in the 21st century.

     Q    The enemies of the nation state?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.  The organized enemies of the nation state that
have vast money and vast access to weapons and technology and travel; the
organized crime syndicates; the narco traffickers; the terrorists.  And I
think the likelihood that all these people will be integrated -- there may
be some rogue states that will support them, but I think you?re more likely
to see the nation states trying to uphold stability in their national
lives, increasingly open and democratic -- even China, I think, will become
more open and more democratic.  They?re already electing mayors in a
million little towns, literally.

     Q    In democratic elections?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.  And so I think -- by their standards.  They
don?t have a Republican or a Democratic Party like we do, but they are
having these elections.  I think in the future the likelihood is that
nation states will be allied against the enemies of the organized society,
and the open society.

     Q    Do you expect, then, in the next 10, 20 years to be a terrorist
attack in the United States ? thinking about the recent events, thinking
about the potential for germ warfare, the potential for biological attacks
and the potential --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, absolutely, I think that?s a threat.

     Q    A likelihood?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think it?s highly likely that someone will
try.  And keep in mind, the World Trade Center was blown up just a few
years ago.  We were fortunate to catch the people who did it.  Oklahoma
City had the terrible explosion.

     What I think will happen -- let me back up a minute.  I have done
everything I could as President to try to organize the permanent government
-- the people who will be here when I am gone -- and the Congress to deal
with the long-term threat of biological, chemical and small-scale nuclear
war, as well as the increasing sophistication of traditional weapons.  And
we are doing a massive amount of work now in preparation to try to minimize
the chances that it will occur and, God forbid if it should occur, to try
to minimize the impact of it.  I think, parenthetically, one of the
benefits of our research into the human genome is that we?ll be able to
analyze these viruses much more quickly and come up with antidotes much
more quickly than we used to be able to.  Even now, when new strains of
diseases -- whether it?s AIDS or anything else -- comes up, we can identify
them so much more quickly than we used to be able to.

     So what I think will happen -- let me just make this point -- the
organized forces of destruction will take maximum advantage of new
technologies and new scientific developments just like democratic societies
do.  So I think just like the computers are all being miniaturized and
people carry these little pads around that have -- and now you?ve got these
gadgets where you can use as a telephone or a typewriter and do e-mail and
all that.  Well, the same miniaturization will apply to biological and
chemical weapons and, if people should get nuclear materials that can be
made into a bomb, to nuclear materials -- which is why we?ve worked so hard
with Russia to control access to that stuff.

     So we?ve just got to be ready.  There will always be bad guys out
there in the world who will try to take advantage of people?s
vulnerabilities.

     Q    But aren?t the odds against us, when you describe that kind of
technological advantage -- I mean, and just recently two people trying --
in separate cases -- trying to get inside America?s borders with explosive
-- it gets more and more easier to conceal and more and more the likelihood
that an American city --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, if you go back through all of human history and
you look at conflicts in weapons systems -- and that?s what we?re talking
about, biological, chemical weapons --  offense always precedes defense;
that is, you?ve got to know what you?re defending against.

     So my goal in this whole thing, trying to mobilize the country on
biological, chemical weapons, and make sure the government is doing
everything possible, is to close the gap between offense and defense.  And
the answer to your question is, we won?t be -- there might be incidences.
I mean, the World Trade Center was blown up; Oklahoma City was blown up.
We?ve got a guy in the laboratory in the middle west almost five years ago
who was trying to develop biological agents, political extremist.

     Q    And there are scary ideas coming out of science, where viruses
can attack certain ethnic groups

     scary ideas coming out of science, where viruses can attack certain
ethnic groups.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, there are people that --

     Q    The potential of science to do harm is alarming.

     THE PRESIDENT:  But, you know, it?s always been that way.  I mean,
it?s always been that way.  And I think that I?m actually more optimistic
than -- keep in mind, no one believes that someone?s going to come in and
kill everybody in America.  That?s what we worried about during the Cold
War.  And we still have to deal with these traditional threats.  That?s why
India and Pakistan is perhaps --  the Kashmiri issue is perhaps the most
dangerous one in the world today because you?ve got two nuclear power there
who are somewhat uncertain about one another and why we have to work hard
to avoid that.

     But, yes, there will be problems.  Yes, there could be terrible
incidences.  But I would say to the American people, they should, on
balance, be hopeful.  But what they should do is to support the leadership
of this country in putting maximum resources into research and development
so that we?re prepared.  And I think we will grow increasingly
sophisticated in picking these people up, increasingly sophisticated in
detecting these weapons, and what we can?t afford is to have a long period
of time where these offensive capabilities of the New Age are better than
the defensive capabilities. If we can close the gap between offense and
defense we?ll be fine.

     Q    What?s interesting about a conversation about the future with you
is that because of this office and your curiosity, you see and know more
than almost anyone.  I mean, you are aware because you talk to the
scientists, you talk to people responsible.

     THE PRESIDENT:  I think about it a lot.

     Q    You do?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Sure.  I have to.  See, I think one of the jobs of the
President, because of the unique opportunity of the office you just
described, is to always be thinking about what will happen 10, 20, 30 years
from now, and to allocate to some time an effort to making decisions for
which there will be almost no notice.

     You know, right now, I mean, hardly anybody reports on or thinks about
the work we?re going in biological warfare or chemical warfare -- the
speech I gave at the National Science Foundation -- but it?s fine.  It?s
what my former National Security Aide, Tony Lake, used to call "the dog
that doesn?t bark."   And there is a sense in which there?s a bunch of dogs
in this old world you don?t want to bark.

     Q    It?s the old notion about if the tree falls in the forest and
nobody hears it, did the tree fall.  Can you -- are there things that we
don?t know about that alarm you?  This sense of science and where it?s at
and what?s coming down the pike that gives you great pause?

     THE PRESIDENT: Well, there are a lot of things that concern me.  You
know, we?ve done a lot of work --the other thing that, besides the chemical
and biological weapons, trying to protect computer systems.

     Q    Speak to Y2K.  Where are your concerns, and do you think that
most of those --

     THE PRESIDENT:   My concerns -- well, they?re much more traditional in
Y2K.  I think we?ve done a good job here.  We?ve spent a lot of money --  I
say -- we, -- the American people, not just the government, the private
sector -- we?ve spent a lot of money and we?ve tried to be ready.  I feel a
high level of confidence.  It wouldn?t bother me a bit to get on a
commercial airline, for example, on New Year?s Eve or New Year?s Day and
fly around.  I think our systems are in order here.

     My concerns really are for some of our friends around the world that
have more rudimentary computer networks and capacities, and whether they
will have a shutdown that they won?t be able to immediately fix or get
around.

     Q    And make them vulnerable to what?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, if there were problems in the financial system,
what if records disappeared and people lost money?  That would be
destabilizing in some countries.  If power systems --

     Q    And make them vulnerable to outside forces, to kinds of elements
you mentioned earlier?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, maybe, but I think more internal
destabilization.  What if a power system shuts down in a big country with a
hard winter?  How long will it take to get back up before anyone would
freeze to death?  I mean, these are the kinds of practical problems that
I?m concerned about.

     But I think that -- I?m talking about something far more insidious,
though.  What we have to -- this is, again, offense and defense.  What we
have to do --  this technology of computers is changing so fast, and we?ve
got a lot of whizbangs out there, and they can make a ton of money working
for bad guys.  So what we?ve got to do is to continuously work on
protecting the cyber security, the infrastructure of the information
economy, just like we?re trying to deal with chemical and biological
warfare and the miniaturization of weapons and all this.

     But most people are good people.  We?ve got plenty of talented people
. We just need to be imagining the future, thinking about all the problems
as well as all the opportunities, and then prepare.  Society always has
problems, there are always misfortunes, but basically, I believe the future
is quite promising and far more exciting than any period in history.  I
wish I were going to live to be 150; I?d love to see what happens.


...............


     Q    Thank you, Mr. President.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

                                            END               5:40 P.M. EST