The White House Briefing Room

August 7, 1998



                           THE WHITE HOUSE

                    Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                            August 7, 1998     

                          PRESS BRIEFING BY
                       COLONEL P.J. CROWLEY   
                           AND BARRY TOIV
                        The Briefing Room    			     

1:43 P.M. EDT
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  Good afternoon.  Welcome to the White 
House, Friday afternoon.  Just to bring you up to date on what has 
transpired since you heard from the President a little while ago, he 
has had the opportunity to talk to our chief diplomats in both 
Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.  He first talked to John Lange, the Charge 
in Tanzania, and then to Prudence Bushnell, the Ambassador in 
Nairobi.  He expressed again on behalf of the American people our 
thoughts and prayers to the American community during this difficult 
day and its aftermath.  He expressed to them both our willingness to 
provide whatever assistance we can, and I'll talk about some 
assistance that is about to get underway and head for Africa in a 
moment.  He again expressed his determination that we will 
ultimately, in cooperation with the two host governments, find out 
who is responsible for this attack and bring them to justice.
	     He had the opportunity to hear from the two diplomats in 
terms of the situation on the ground there and for most of those 
details -- I know you have many questions about the status on the 
ground.  I think the State Department later on in the day will have a 
more detailed briefing of what has transpired there.  
	     And the two Ambassadors spoke in glowing terms about the 
response of the American community in both countries, the fact that, 
as I think Ambassador Bushnell spoke about the American community in 
Nairobi in particular -- they are performing as true Americans, very 
tough, trying to help steady the situation on the ground there.  And 
they spoke glowingly about the response that they've received from 
other countries, particularly the embassy staffs in both cities, who 
have offered tremendous assistance both in terms of helping with the 
humanitarian needs that exist on the ground and also with the 
security requirements.  So each of those conversations lasted about 
10 minutes.

	     Throughout the day the President has been fully engaged 
on this issue, starting at 5:30 a.m. this morning, when he was first 
briefed by the National Security Advisor, Sandy Berger.  He has had 
update briefings through the course of the morning and into the 
afternoon.  Sandy is chairing a principals committee meeting as we 
speak to review the situation and what we know.  And I would expect 
later on this afternoon the President will probably have the 
opportunity to talk with the Presidents of both Tanzania and Kenya, 
both to thank them for the initial response that they have provided 
in response to this attack, also to express our condolences to each 
country because, while it's clear that this attack was directed at 
our facilities in each city, the death toll and the injuries have 
primarily been borne by the citizens of Kenya and Tanzania.  And I 
think you can expect that the President will stay engaged in this 
issue throughout the weekend.

	     Q	  What can you tell us about the reported shootout at 
the U.S. embassy in Kenya just before the explosion?
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  I have no information on that.
	     Q	  How many American casualties?
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  Helen, I think, if you don't mind, 
I'll defer to the State Department on that, primarily because we are 
in the process of notifying next of kin.  We have, as the President 
said, had several Americans killed in Nairobi as a result of this 
attack.  We are not aware of any Americans killed in Tanzania.  But 
I'll defer to the State Department later on to provide those kinds of 
	     Q	  Is there still no claim of responsibility?  Do we 
have any idea who did this, who's responsible?
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  I'm not aware of any public claim of 
responsibility.  Obviously, we are already underway in terms of 
investigating what has transpired.  
	     In connection with that, within the hour we should have 
an aircraft leaving Germany with medical supplies and a small 
security team, surgical team that will be on its way to Nairobi to 
provide some assistance to our American community there.  We also 
have other medical evacuation aircraft on standby in the event that 
they are needed.  We have an interagency team that consists of 
communication experts, counterterrorism experts, investigators, 
additional security personnel that will be departing shortly and 
heading to the region to help spearhead the investigation.
	     Q	  The surgical team is on the same plane?
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  The surgical team, no.  We have a 
worldwide response to this.  We have Marines coming from the Central 
Command region that will help provide security as well.  So there are 
lots of things that are in the process of getting in train to respond 
to the requirements we have on the ground in both Nairobi and Dar es 
	     Q	  P.J., is the administration aware of the Islamic 
Jihad message that was sent from Egypt to Agence France yesterday 
that complained about three of its militants being extradited from 
Eastern Europe and pledging to punish the United States for that?
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  Scott, let me just say that terrorism 
is a fact of life in the world today.  We are very conscious of 
threats against American facilities, against American people, around 
the world.  We take those threats very seriously.  It's not my place 
here to get into any particulars.  These aspects will be thoroughly 
investigated and, as the President expressed, we are determined that 
we will find out who did this and we will bring them to justice.  
We've had some success: some cases that you've heard about, some 
cases you haven't heard about.  We don't forgive.  We don't forget.  
And ultimately, whoever is responsible for this attack will brought 
to justice.
	     Q	  P.J., that note that I mentioned, though, is there 
any particular reason to give it a higher degree of credibility than 
anything else?
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  I expect that we will thoroughly 
investigate this.  I'm certain that we have some ideas already as to 
who might be responsible.  It's not my place to cite that information 
here -- lots of it touches on intelligence matters.  Threats that we 
get against Americans every day around the world we take very 
seriously, we take appropriate security precautions.  But terrorism 
is a fact of life.  It's something that has reared its ugly head 
before, and I'm afraid it will again. 

	     Q	  What's the President's thinking about the security 
at embassies around the world?  And does he think it's adequate, or 
does he think more needs to be done? 

	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  It's very difficult to give a blanket 
response to that.  Obviously, say, in recent years we have 
experienced terrorist attacks around the world.  It's something that 
the administration has had as one of its highest priorities since the 
Clinton administration started, and even as a United States 
government priority before that.  

	     For example, just in May, if you recall the President's 
speech at Annapolis, he talked about emerging global transnational 
threats of which terrorism is perhaps the most significant.  We have 
through the years taken tremendous precautions to try to upgrade our 
security at facilities around the world, at embassies around the 
world.  And we will continue to do so.

	     By the same token, this appears to have been a very 
well-coordinated, very well-planned attack, clearly no the work of 
amateurs.  And there is, unfortunately, at the end of the day only so 
much you can do to guard against terrorist attacks.
	     Q	  I guess my question is, these two embassies were 
chosen and others weren't.  Is there some reason to believe that 
these two embassies were less secure or less protected than others?
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  I think again, that's the kind of 
information that the State Department, the folks who are responsible 
for diplomatic security -- will be a part of their briefing this 
afternoon.  I think that's the kind of detail that I would probably 
defer to them.
	     Q	  P.J., has in the past been any inklings of any 
problems in Tanzania and Kenya?  Both countries seem to have great 
relations with the U.S.  Has there been any --
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  I mean, it's entirely possible, going 
back to Mara's question, that sometimes facilities are selected 
primarily because you have -- you would not expect to have that kind 
of problem in one place and not another.  I mean, this is the kind of 
thing that will be investigated.
	     Q	  As we follow up on what I think you called hunches 
earlier about who might be responsible, has the United States 
contacted any other governments for help in either trying to find 
certain individuals or touching base with certain organizations?
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  We have already launched our 
investigation.  I am sure that we are checking within the 
intelligence community to see what we know, what other governments 
where we have had some success in the past may know.  Again, this 
will be something that we will thoroughly investigate as we go 
forward.  I would expect that the President may well make some future 
calls to heads of state to follow up on this.  
	     Q	  P.J., what sort of cooperation do you expect from 
Tanzania and Kenya on this investigation?
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  We've had some excellent cooperation 
so far.  They have helped us in terms of securing the site.  
Obviously, one of the keys to the investigation will be preserving 
evidence on the scene so that when our experts get there, they will 
have the full resources available to be able to conduct their 
investigation -- looking at situations like Oklahoma City, for 
example, where even the tiniest fragment of evidence ultimately is 
the key that unlocks the door that leads to a successful 
investigation.  So these will be the kinds of things that are 
happening on the ground right now in terms of securing the site so 
that the evidence will be there when the experts arrive.
	     Q	  When will those experts arrive?  Is that the FBI 
team that's on its way, or can you tell us a little more --
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  It will be the interagency team; the 
FBI will be involved, other investigators, other experts in the area 
of counter-terrorism.  Again, we are determined and we will do 
everything that we need to do.  We will leave no stone unturned until 
we find out who is responsible.
	     Q	  Are they on their way now, those experts?

	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  If they haven't physically -- if they 
aren't wheels up yet, they should be shortly.

	     Q	  On another subject, slightly, are we aware of a new 
secret guided missile that Israel was firing at Lebanon?

	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  I have not heard that information. 

	     Q	  There is a -- could you try to find out? 

	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  I'll see what I can find out. 

	     Q	  You say they will be brought to justice.  The 
record in the past of bombings against our embassies overseas has not 
been one of being able to bring anyone to justice.  I know that when 
Klinghoffer (sp) was pushed into the ocean, we forced an Egyptian 
airliner down, but then Italy let the people go.  What makes you 
believe that somehow this time we're going to be able to find these 
people and bring them to justice? 

	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  I think it's very premature, but I can 
-- I don't want to get into too many specifics, but you had the case 
of the killer of the CIA employees outside of Langley, you've had the 
case of an aircraft bomber Rashid who we have recently brought to 
justice.  So the President is very determined about this.  As I said, 
we do not forgive; we do not forget.  This very well could take a 
number of years.  But we will find out who did this, and we will 
bring them to justice.
	     Q	  P.J., did anyone U.S. installation anywhere in the 
world receive a warning that there was a reason to believe that a 
terrorist threat was imminent?
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  Scott, we're aware of terrorist 
threats every day around the world.  I will --
	     Q	  Any special message in the last, say, 72 hours that 
there was something afoot anywhere?
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  Again, these are the types of things 
that we will investigate thoroughly.  I think it's very difficult for 
me here to judge what information was available worldwide.  All I can 
tell you is the intelligence community sees this as one of the 
highest threats, the preeminent threat that we perhaps face in the 
world today.  We devote a great deal of attention to it.  We take 
threats very seriously.  When we do gauge threats as serious, we put 
out appropriate warnings to facilities around the world.  In fact, 
since this attack, we have taken appropriate steps both in the region 
and around the world in light of the two bombings today.
	     Q	  P.J., the question is did any such message as you 
just described go out in the last several days?
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  Again, I cannot comment on any 
specific information at this point from this podium.
	     Q	  You're saying you don't know or you can't say?
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  I'm not going to say.
	     Q	  P.J., what do you say to suggestions that cutbacks 
to the State Department's budget in recent years may have undermined 
security or the ability to monitor threats to U.S. installations 
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  I think as a large issue, we have been 
concerned overall about the amount of resources that are devoted to 
conducting our foreign policy.  And I think Secretary State Albright 
and others have been very vocal on the Hill in expressing concerns.  
I think I'll defer to the State Department to address any specifics 
in terms of the specific aspect of our foreign policy budget that may 
be devoted to security.  I don't feel I'm qualified to do that.  But, 
obviously, it is an issue that we have been concerned about, that 
over the years the amount of resources devoted to foreign policy and 
the conduct of our diplomacy have been cut back.
	     Q	  Just on a related question, there was a study of 
embassy security in the early-mid 1980s after the Beirut attacks.  A 
number of embassies were either reconstructed or remodeled with extra 
security.  Do you know if these two embassies were part of that 

	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  I do know that security reviews have 
been conducted at all of our embassies around the world.  These two 
embassies did not have the setbacks that perhaps other embassies 
around the world have had.  I can't judge at this point how that 
might have contributed to the attack. 

	     Q	  When was the last security review? 

	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  Again, probably -- I'll defer to the 
State Department; it's their diplomatic security, it's their normal 
review of security at all of their posts around the world. 

	     Q	  You don't know if it's yearly, or you don't know --
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  I think Pat Kennedy, for example, will 
be among those who will be at this briefing this afternoon. 

	     Q	  P.J., to follow up, these were not sort of the 
fortress-like embassies that one might see in Jordan or some other 
countries where they're way back from the road, there are huge walls?

	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  I think it's safe to say that we set 
the security at particular posts based on the threat that we know at 
any particular time.  But again, I'll push this to State.  I think 
they're much more qualified to respond. 

	     Q	  One of the complaints of the intelligence agency is 
that when they come across information and pass it along, some claim 
that it doesn't get proper consideration in the administration here. 

	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  I can't think of an ambassador, I 
can't think of a commander, who wouldn't act appropriately when given 
prompt information from the intelligence community on a specific 
threat.  I don't have anything to say that that was the case in this 
particular instance.
	     Q	  Is there any information as yet as to what type of 
explosives, how it was delivered, anything from that review that 
would lead you to believe, a guess or a source of where it might come 
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  At this point, I think, obviously, the 
attack only happened earlier this morning.  I think those are the 
kinds of issues that will be thoroughly investigated as soon as our 
experts get on the ground.
	     Q	  Is the U.S. going to head the investigations and 
the Tanzanians and Kenyans have agreed to that?
	     COLONEL CROWLEY:  I think both countries have agreed to 
cooperate fully.  Part of what -- each of diplomats told the 
President in the call today that they will pledge full cooperation.  
I think, as you know, embassies are a sovereign territory of the 
United States, so I think we will have the ability to do the 
	     Q	  Next.
	     MR. TOIV:  Hi.  Any questions?
	     Q	  Is the President meeting with his attorneys today?
	     MR. TOIV:  I don't know.  He'll be meeting with them 
frequently between now and the 17th, but I don't know if he's meeting 
with them today.  
	     Q	  What is on the President's schedule this afternoon?
	     MR. TOIV:  If they come in, I'm sure you'll see them.
There's no remaining public schedule today.
	     Q	  Does the President have any reaction to yesterday's 
reported testimony by Ms. Lewinsky?
	     MR. TOIV:  No.  The President, as he said last Friday, 
is not going to have any comment on this situation between now and 
the 17th.


             END                          2:20 P.M. EDT