July 21, 1998


                           THE WHITE HOUSE

                    Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                              July 21, 1998

                           PRESS BRIEFING
                            MIKE MCCURRY     

                          The Briefing Room

1:54 P.M. EDT

	     Q	  What about everybody -- I wonder what everybody's 
doing over at the courthouse.
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Hi, everyone.  Welcome to our daily 
briefing here at the White House.  I don't know what they're doing 
	     Q	  Do you want to know?
	     Q	  Mike, Secretary Albright and Sandy Berger talked to 
victims -- families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing today and 
told them that they are discussing alternatives, evaluating 
alternatives for bringing the suspects to court.  Is this a change in 
U.S. policy which was insisting that they be tried in a U.S. or 
Scottish court?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  No.  Our objective has been to bring the 
people responsible for this awful tragedy to justice.  And we have 
been pursuing that diligently for 10 years.  We believe that the 
perpetrators should be tried before a U.S. or Scottish court, and we 
have said so consistently.  We've explored alternative ways of 
accomplishing that objective, but we haven't found any satisfactory 
way to do so yet.  We gave a briefing to the families today.
	     Q	  There has been some movement in the consideration.  
Now you're considering having it be under U.S. or Scottish 
jurisdiction, but you're willing to consider holding it in a third 
	     MR. MCCURRY:  We have explored some alternatives, but we 
haven't found any satisfactory alternatives.
	     Q	  You haven't decided on The Hague to handle it?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  We have not made any decision --
	     Q	  Are you open --
	     MR. MCCURRY:  -- there are some logistical and practical 
problems with whatever way you go, and we are exploring ways that you 
can break through that, consistent with --
	     Q	  -- with the parents, are they?  They're trying to 
get a green light, aren't they?  Why are they calling the parents?

	     MR. MCCURRY:  They called today because there was an 
article that appeared in Britain, in The Guardian, and they wanted to 
-- they've talked consistently to the families and briefed the 
families on a regular basis on the things underway, and some family 
members have expressed an interest in seeing movement forward in 
bringing those responsible for justice.  Other family members oppose 
anything but the action that was allowed by the U.N. Security Council 
-- or that's referenced in a statement that is referenced in the U.N. 
Security Council.  And then there are other family members that 
prefer even stronger action than that.
	     Q	  Did they tell the parents that the guy in the story 
was wrong?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  They told the family members what I just 
told you, that there hasn't been any decisions made, that they are 
looking at some alternatives that would bring these perpetrators to 
justice.  But they found both legal and practical barriers that make 
alternative courses of action difficult.
	     Q	  Would the administration go along with any kind of 
third-country trial for these two if it were against the wishes of 
the families?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, the wishes of the families -- 
there's not unanimity of viewpoints in the family members.  Each of 
them have got different ways of looking at this, and for sometime 
there have been differing points of view on how we ought to proceed 
at this point.  It's been 10 years since this awful tragedy, and 
we're interested in trying in bringing to justice those responsible.
	     Q	  Two questions.  Number one, what you are saying, 
though, is that the U.S. administration is now amenable to trying 
these two individuals outside of the United States or outside of 
Scotland if it can be worked out?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I'm not saying that.  I'm saying that it's 
-- we're trying to find an alternative, and we haven't found one yet 
-- that's what I'm saying.
	     Q	  Okay, and second question.  What about the 
perception that this is now negotiating with Qaddafi, that's he's 
saying, I won't release them --
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, no one's talked to him about this.
	     Q	  No, but he's set a condition, and you're now 
looking, apparently, for a way to get around that condition.
	     MR. MCCURRY:  We have set one goal, which is to bring to 
justice those responsible for this act, and we're determined to do so 
and we will get it done sooner or later.
	     Q	  What are the impediments to finding an alternative?  
What are the main issues here?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, you have to find a way that you can 
do it practically.  And then you have to find a way that legally you 
can assure that whatever the result of the litigation or the trial, 
that it stands up.
	     Q	  Well, what's the signal to Libya?  If you're not 
negotiating with Libya --
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Libya is the same signal it's always had, 
which is they're not going to escape justice, the two that are 
responsible, and the government of Libya knows that.  


	     Q	  Mike, can I go back to Libya for a moment?  What's 
the rationale of the U.S. seeking alternative venues?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  The rationale is that there has not been 
disposition granted either by the government of Libya or 
international courts which are now looking at the issue on a 
procedural basis that would allow a direct trial of the two suspects.  
And so we have to find a way that we can bring them to justice.  The 
rationale is we've got two suspects, that they're currently in Libya 
in custody and we want to bring them to the justice that we believe 
they deserve.
	     Q	  And if I could follow up, do we have reason --
	     Q	  Before a U.S. court or a Scottish court?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Before a U.S. court or a Scottish court.  
And remember, the only discussions here are exploring alternatives in 
which a U.S. court or a Scottish court would provide the prevailing 
	     Q	  When you say disposition granted, you mean some 
kind of extradition to get these guys --
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Correct.
	     Q	  Well, why do you think you've failed in 
international courts?  I mean, you can see why Libya doesn't want to 
give them up, but why haven't you --
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Because the sanctions that have been in 
place to compel behavior have not worked, clearly.
	     Q	  Do we have reason to believe that going to a third 
country, even it was a U.S. or Scottish court that maintained 
jurisdiction, would make a difference in terms of the extradition?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  The government of Libya has indicated that 
in the past, or has said so.  So if there was an alternative that 
could work, that could put that proposition to test, we'd see whether 
there was any -- whether that was a genuine sentiment expressed by 
the --
	     Q	  So you're caught between two things, what the 
government of Libya is willing to do in order to further this 
process; and the fact that you might go somewhere --
	     MR. MCCURRY:  The pressure that had been brought on the 
government of Libya has not been sufficient to deliver the two 
	     Q	  But you're not sure that you could go to The Hague, 
for instance, and get any kind of judgment that would actually stick?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, we're talking about going to The 
Hague.  We're talking about developing some alternative that would 
allow these two suspects to be tried before a U.S. or a Scottish 
	     Q	  By why not an international tribunal?  What's your 
	     MR. MCCURRY:  That's inconsistent with the edict of the 
United Nations among other things.  But our insistence is that it be 
tried according to U.S. or U.K. law.  


	     Q	  Mike, one more thing on Libya.  The Hague or some 
sort of international tribunal is, to understand correctly from you, 
that that is not now an option?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Again, to emphasize the alternative that 
we are -- the only alternative that we have explored is one that 
would allow these suspects to be tried according to U.S. and Scottish 
law before a U.S. and Scottish court.
	     Q	  Well, MSNBC says right here on my pager that the 
U.S. and Britain reportedly have agreed to let two Libyans accused of 
the '98 bombing be tried at The Hague.
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I think that's probably just reporting 
what The Guardian reported earlier.
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  The Hague is a -- you talk about a 
city, not an international tribunal.
	     Q	  Will it be a U.S. court in The Hague?
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  It will be a U.S. court or a Scottish 
court in a third-country.	       
	     Q	  Is there any precedent for that?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I don't know.  U.S. courts have sat on 
foreign soil before, I know.  But I don't know whether there's any 
precedent in whether it's --
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  Yes, there are precedents.
	     MR. MCCURRY:  We'd have to check and see.
	     Q	  But these suspects are still alive?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Yes.  They're in Libya custody, correct?
	     Q	  Are you confirming this, that's there's an 
agreement between the U.S. and the U.K. on this?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Not unless one has been reached in the 
last 10 minutes that I haven't known about.  But I don't believe 
that's correct.


	     Q	  Let me make sure I've got this right.  The United 
States is willing to consider holding the trial of these two people, 
assuming that they can be gotten, in a third country as long as the 
trial is under the auspices of either U.K. or U.S. law?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  That's the alternative that we are 
exploring, but we are finding that there are significant legal and 
logistical impediments to such an alternative.
	     Q	  So it doesn't look like a very likely alternative?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  At the moment, it does not.  But our 
interest, first and foremost, is in achieving justice, and we are 
going to continue to pursue that objective.
	     Q	  What are those impediments that you just mentioned?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  There are a number of them and I'm not 
sure that I understand them fully enough that I can give you a list.  
But I know that they present --

	     Q	  Why don't you give us a broad outline?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Beyond the fact that they present problems 
in both how you accomplish the trial and how you would make sure that 
the verdict would stand any test.  That's about all I have on it.
	     Q	  But, Mike, it's not because this kind of thing 
hasn't been done before successfully with a verdict --
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I've already told you I don't know what 
the precedent is.  I believe there may be a precedent, but I'd have 
to look into that.
	     Q	  But, in other words, the impediments you are 
talking about are unique to this case, not to the unusual nature of 
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I think it's both, but I haven't looked 
into it enough to have a complete answer to that.


	     Q	  Mike, can I ask one more on this Pan Am story?  If 
we allow U.K. rules, there wouldn't be a death penalty.  Would we 
accept that? 

	     MR. MCCURRY:  We have always said either under U.K. or 
U.S. law, and that's been our position and the position of the 
previous administration, too. 

	     Q	  Lockerbie is an act of terrorism that hasn't been 
closed up yet.  There is another case, the Dhahran bombing.  What is 
the status of that investigation?  Are you frustrated that it hasn't 
gone anywhere at this point? 

	     MR. MCCURRY:  The investigation is continuing, and there 
is not an opportunity that goes by where we don't raise this issue 
and impress upon the Saudi government the importance of working 
together to find those responsible. 

	     Q	  Was that raised during the recent meeting? 

	     MR. MCCURRY:  While the Prince was here it was raised, 
	     Q	  Do you have any indications that other countries 
were involved?  Or do you have any preliminary conclusions?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  The investigation is underway and we don't 
do preliminary conclusions.
	     Q	  The President is so fond of countdowns and so 
forth.  But if you look at his schedule, he's going to be out of town 
almost every weekend and sometimes for three and four days.  What 

does he expect to really achieve before he starts his vacation -- I 
mean in terms of legislation?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  He addressed that last week.  He gave you 
a good road map of the priorities that he would like to see this 
Congress work on and enact.  The list was considerable and it goes to 
the heart of the priorities that he's put forward since the State of 
the Union this year.  And so far the Congress has missed the 
opportunity to move on that agenda.
	     Q	  The patients' bill of rights, would he go to the 
American people on television?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  That's exactly what we've been doing.  We 
did that three times last week and do it day after day; yes, we will.
	     Q	  What about a major address?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  Well, I think he's been giving major 
addresses, but I think he'll continue to find ways to impress that 
priority and other priorities, too.
	     Q	  Going back to the death penalty and Lockerbie, is 
the death penalty one of those logistical hurdles that you were 
talking about earlier?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I'm not aware that that is one of the 
issues that has been raised.
	     Q	  Does the White House have a position on the pension 
reform package that was unveiled today by Breaux and Grassley?
	     MR. MCCURRY:  I'm sure we probably do, but it hasn't 
been transmitted to me.  Can you see if you can get that? 
	     Okay.  Thank you.	   

             END                          2:26 P.M. EDT