THE WHITE HOUSE April 26, 1995 6:25 P.M. EDT
BY UNDER SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY FOR ENFORCEMENT RON NOBLE, DEPUTY
ATTORNEY GENERAL JAMIE GORELICK, AND DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT
FOR DOMESTIC POLICY BRUCE REED
MS. GLYNN: Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick, Deputy Assistant to
the President for Domestic Policy Bruce Reed and Under Secretary of the
Treasury for Enforcement Ron Noble.
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: I'm going to brief you on the
President's announcement today on the remainder of the legislative
package. The President announced, as you know, several elements of the
legislative package on Sunday. We've been working at the Justice
Department and the Department of Treasury with the White House in the
development of additional legislative proposals reflecting cooperation
throughout the administration and with the leadership.
The steps that we are taking are: one, to hire and seek the funding to
hire approximately 1,000 new agents, prosecutors and other federal law
enforcement and support personnel to investigate, deter and prosecute
terrorist activity. That, combined with the establishment of a domestic
terrorism center, coordinated by the FBI, coordinated with other law
enforcement agencies, including the ATF and state and local law
enforcement, and working collaboratively with our intelligence agencies
are the two most significant things that we can do to address the kind of
tragic event that we had in Oklahoma City, and to prevent similar
occurrences in the future.
The remainder of the legislation is programmatic. We would seek the
passage of legislation within a year to require within a year the
inclusion of taggants in standards explosive device raw materials, and
that would permit the tracing of materials after an explosion.
We would also require the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to
study and report on the tagging of explosives and explosive materials for
the purpose of identification and detection, to determine whether common
chemicals used to manufacture explosives can be rendered inert, and
whether controls can be imposed on precursor chemicals that are used to
We would also seek to amend the Posse Comitatus Act, which is what
constrains the use of the military in law enforcement efforts. Right now,
the Posse Comitatus Act contains a provision which allows the military to
help law enforcement in the event of a potential use by a criminal of
nuclear matter. We would like the same help and assistance with regard
to chemical weapons and with regard to biological warfare weapons.
They have the expertise. This is not the sort of assistance from the
military that the act was designed to prevent, and we would like to make
that explicit. And we would be seeking certain amendments to the
Electronic Communications Privacy Act which would, consistent with the
Constitution, fully consistent with the Constitution and the warrant
requirements of the Constitution, enhance the use of electronic
surveillance to fight terrorism.
With respect to prosecution, we would seek the amendment of federal law
to criminalize the use of all chemical weapons to include all forms of
chemical weapons. Right now, we have the ability to attack the use of
chemical weapons in gaseous form, but not in solid form. And so if you
had a solid tablet, you could not use your chemical weapons prohibitions
to prosecute that.
We would make it illegal to possess explosives knowing they are stolen.
We have this power with respect to firearms; we do not have it with
respect to explosives. We would extend the statute of limitations from
three to five years to be consistent with the remainder of similar
criminal law provisions to the registration requirements for destructive
devices, including explosives and incendiary bombs.
We would provide the Secretary of the Treasury authority to direct the
use of Department of Treasury aircraft to support emergency law
enforcement situations, and we would amend our reward authority to reduce
restrictions on making rewards. Right now, while the State Department,
in an international terrorist incident can post a very significant bond,
we are limited to a reward -- I'm sorry --we can post an only limited
amount -- half a million dollars, and Treasury is similarly limited. We
would like to have those limits increased.
With regard to penalties, we would increase the penalty for anyone
convicted of transferring either a firearm or an explosive device,
knowing that it will be used to commit a crime of violence or a drug-
trafficking crime. That is a very significant improvement in the
criminal law for us. And we would amend the law to provide enhanced
penalties to protect all federal employees against terrorist attacks.
Right now, there are provisions that would create enhanced penalties for
terrorist attacks on some federal employees, but not others. That is,
generally speaking, the package. I can go into greater detail for any of
you who would like me to.
Q With regard to the 1,000 new personnel -- how big an increase would
that be in proportion to what you have already doing that kind of work,
and two, how does it break down -- FBI, ATF --
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: I don't have the breakdown for you,
but I can tell you that it would be a substantial increase in the number
of personnel that we have in the domestic terrorism area right now.
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: I can get that number for you. It
would be a substantial increase in the numbers. What I have to find out
is what I can disclose to you about how many people we now have in it;
that's part of a classified annex to our budget.
Q It's all new people that you're talking about?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: Yes.
Q These are all new -- and on the Posse Comitatus -- could you talk
about -- specifically, what would the power be? To do what?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: Well, right now, we can go to the
military services for advice with respect to chemical weapons or
biological weapons. But if we have someone who had a cache of chemical
weapons and we were trying to take those away, we were trying to disarm
that person, we could only get advice from the military; we could not use
their considerable expertise, their talent, their equipment, their
personnel, to help take those chemical weapons safely. And that is the
precise kind of assistance that we would want to have in a circumstance
like that. We do not have that expertise --
Q Seize and disarm?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: -- helping to seize, helping to
protect an area, helping to protect personnel -- law enforcement
personnel who are involved in an operation -- that kind of thing.
Q Which of these proposals might have prevented the Oklahoma incident?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: Well, it's very hard to say because of
the early stage of this investigation. And I might say, though, that the
things that clearly would help us in future similar situations would be
more resources and the greatest possible coordination in the sharing of
information and intelligence.
Q Let me ask you a question --
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: I'm sorry, Ron?
UNDER SECRETARY NOBLE: Tagging of explosives will help apprehend the
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: Ron Noble suggests, and I agree with
him, that tagging of explosives would help us in the detection of -- both
in the detection and in the investigative aspect where you have an
explosion like this.
Q Well, aren't explosives tagged now? I thought under current law you
use taggants, and if the reports were accurate, the fertilizer and the
fuel oil that was used in this bomb, they wouldn't have that. But I
thought explosive material had to have taggants under present law.
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: No, that is not correct. And one of
the studies that the BATF would use, would undertake, would be to
determine whether you could put taggants in something like a fertilizer,
or whether you could render it inert in some way to attack the use of
Q Would the taggants, would those be included in gunpowder, and if so,
won't that sort of send the gun control opponents ballistic?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: You're looking at -- go ahead.
UNDER SECRETARY NOBLE: To follow up one point first, and then I'll
answer yours. For a charge like that which occurred in Oklahoma City
usually require preliminary charges of smaller order where you would use
explosives that could be detected and traced. And, again, the taggants
would help even if you were to use the fertilizer for the major part of
the explosion. And your question?
Q Was whether or not the taggants would be included in gunpowder, and
won't that --
UNDER SECRETARY NOBLE: Right now we're just focusing on explosives.
That's what we're focusing on right now.
Q This was a major issue with the NRA a couple of years ago, opposing
taggants which I thought had been, after some airplane bombings, had been
UNDER SECRETARY NOBLE: It's not required.
Q Will you seek to rewrite or relax attorney general guidelines that
dictate how the FBI can go about launching preliminary investigations or
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: The guidelines have been in place for
20 years. They were adopted after the Church Committee reported on
abuses by the FBI of their investigatory powers. We take them very, very
seriously. Every single attorney general has reissued them in some form
and they have not changed very much over the years at all. So we would
take any change in them as a very serious matter. And as the President
has just discussed with the leadership, he wants to consult fully with
them on whether any changes would be necessary. We believe that we have
considerable authority right now, and we would like to discuss very
carefully any changes that might be taken in the guidelines.
Q Can we follow up on that? Is that to say that there is no proposal to
change the standard of requiring a reasonable suspicion of criminal
evidence before you trigger investigation?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: That is not quite an accurate
articulation of the guidelines. The guidelines are quite complex and
lengthy, and I can go into them with you. You may have an intelligence
investigation, you can have a preliminary -- you can follow leads, you
can have a preliminary investigation all before you have a fully
predicated criminal investigation. So there is quite a bit that we can
But to answer your question directly, there is no pending proposal by
this administration to change the guidelines. We are looking at them
very seriously, and we will consider any ideas that others may have about
changing them. We have not put a proposal on the table.
Q Was there a proposal in an earlier package about contributions to
suspected terrorist organizations even their legal aspects, such as a
hospital or day care centers, or --
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: In the counterterrorism bill that is
pending in the House and Senate as to which there will be a hearing
tomorrow, there is a proposal for the licensing of certain groups when
there is a finding that a group may have an affiliation with a foreign
terrorist organization. And that would limit the ability of such a group
to fundraise unless the organization could show that the proceeds of that
fundraising would not go to terrorist activities.
Q I'm sorry, was that part of the President's proposal?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: That is part of the President's
Q I want to ask you -- there's been a lot of copycats and false alarms
all over the country, scaring people, emptying buildings. Are you all
considering stronger criminal action against people that are doing this
if you catch them?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: Let me tell you --we are pursuing
every single threat against federal buildings. We have emptied out more
buildings in the past two weeks than I think we ever have probably -- in
last week, than we ever have in the history of this country. We are
taking every step to protect our employees, but we will take every
possible step and pursue all means to get those who are our threatening
our employees and disrupting the work of this a nation and frightening
the American people.
Q What are the penalties if you catch these people?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: There are ample penalties, and I can
lay them out for you. But we have ample authority to punish those who
are threatening our people.
Q Has every one of these been a false alarm? Every one of the building
emptyings been a false alarm?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: Yes, every one of the building --
every one the building threats so far has been a false alarm, but we --
some of them have had a significant level of credibility, and we have
taken those very seriously.
Q Did you consult with, or have you gotten any feedback from the civil
liberties community on, particularly, the electronic surveillance changes
that you've proposed?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: We have been hearing from the civil
liberties community. The Attorney General is committed to ensuring that
any changes that we propose are fully consistent with the Constitution,
are fully consistent with our Constitutional rights, and we will want
very carefully to work with those who are concerned about our civil
We believe that the steps that I have outlined today and that the
President announced earlier are fully protective of our Constitutional
Q I am wondering -- on this number five among the items the President
has already announced, the presidential decision directive, what will
fall in under that, and what do you expect more that the President can
direct that's beyond legislative proposals?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: The presidential decision directive
under consideration right now is in the classified form. Generically, it
would divide up responsibilities among federal agencies for the mission
of combatting foreign and domestic terrorism, and make sure that the
lines of communication and authority are clear.
Q Is there a due date on that?
UNDER SECRETARY NOBLE: There will be.
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: This is something that is moving along
very quickly. It has been somewhat delayed by the fact that those of us
in law enforcement who have responsibilities, who would have
responsibilities under the presidential decision directive, also have
operational responsibilities, and we have asked for a little more time to
participate in this decision-making process.
Q Would the electronic surveillance changes permit wire taps without
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: No.
Q So the conditions would be the same?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: That is correct. And that is a
critically important point, that we are maintaining in every instance the
warrant requirement for electronic surveillance.
Q How soon would you start hiring the new agents, and how long would it
take to get to 1,000?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: It depends on how quickly we get the
funding. If the funding is approved for 1995, we could begin
immediately; if it is for 1996, we would begin in the new fiscal year,
and that would take, yet again, some additional time to hire. This is
part of the dialogue with the leadership about the nature of the funding
package and the resources that would be applied to this.
Q And we're talking about $1.5 billion dollars over five years?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: Pardon me?
Q How much money are we talking about over five years?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: -- $1.5 billion over five years.
Q Of the agents that you have assigned to anti-terrorist activities now
-- and this seems to be a ballpark figure -- is there a percentage
breakdown between those assigned to domestic, and those assigned to
foreign, and how would the added agents -- those among the 1,000 how much
of that changes?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: There is a breakdown. It is currently
classified, and I will have to get back to you on what I can tell you
Q Would all of the new agents be for domestic terrorism, as you implied,
or would they be --
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: That was our intention; to put these
resources into the domestic terrorism arena. But as you know, the two
are interrelated, and in fact, over the years, within the FBI, we have
moved personnel from one to the other, depending on the nature of the
threat as assessed. So I would say, in general, they would going to
both, or -- focus right now is in the domestic terrorism arena.
Q What direction has that movement then -- just as a follow-up --
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: I'm sorry, pardon me?
Q I was just saying, in what direction has that movement been?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: Back and forth. And that is, it has
gone in both directions.
Q Can you give us a ballpark -- you said it's classified, but can you
give us a ballpark of what kind of percentage this is increase? I mean -
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: No. All I can do is characterize the
increase as very substantial.
Q Have staffing shortages been a problem in pursuing terrorism leads
before? Could you describe what sort of difficulties we've had up until
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: I would say that we have not
identified staffing shortages. On the other hand, if you apply more
resources in this area, I think you will get more investigative results.
And we believe that this is a fruitful area for more resources.
Q Just for a perspective, can you compare this investigation with the
1,000 new you're asking, and with any other investigation that involved
hundreds of agents?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: This investigation is the most
substantial investigation I think any of us have seen. It involves
hundreds and hundreds of FBI agents, hundreds and hundreds of BATF
agents. It involves almost -- well I won't count the number, but many,
many U.S. Attorney offices around the country, a significant number of
people in the Oklahoma Attorney's office and a degree of cooperation that
is simply extraordinary. This experience is one that we have taken to
heart in assessing what additional resources we may need in the future.
Q Could you clarify the $1.5 billion over five years? Is that just for
the new agents and prosecutors, or is that for the whole package?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: That's for the whole package, and it
includes -- that includes the assistance to Oklahoma City; it includes
the costs of our resources across the government to address the Oklahoma
City bombing; it includes the costs of the initiatives, including funding
the digital telephony; it includes a wide range of needs, including the
initiatives -- paying for the initiatives that the President outlined
Bruce, do you want to add to that?
DEPUTY ASSISTANT REED: No.
Q But not the new building?
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: Not the new building.
Q Secretary Noble, I'm sorry, could you just tell us the status of the
Treasury Security Review and when it's likely to come over to the
President, and what it says?
UNDER SECRETARY NOBLE: It'll be coming over to the President very soon.
And I can only tell you, just to comfort you and other Americans, that
all interim steps that have been required to be taken, have been taken.
So there's nothing being held up because the review has not yet been
finalized. Okay? We're going through a process of not only completing
it, but trying to de- classify it so that we can have the public report
come out fairly quickly after the classified report.
Q Was it amended in the wake of Oklahoma City? Was the reviewed changed
in any way?
UNDER SECRETARY NOBLE: No. No, we have been thinking about the problem
of Oklahoma City since the review began. So we were not surprised that
sort of threat could occur in the most general fashion, but we, of
course, had no information about Oklahoma City specifically.
Q For Secretary Noble, a few months -- a few weeks back that the House
gave extended search and seizure authority to everybody except ATF, there
have been the newspaper ads by the NRA, now you may have been the targets
of this explosion. I mean, what's the sentiment over at your shop right
now? I mean, people must be pretty shaken, I mean --
UNDER SECRETARY NOBLE: Well, I think the target of this criminal act was
the entire federal government, a federal building that embraced 550
employees. There were only 14 ATF employees, so we view it as an attack
on the American people, generally. With regard to our view or feelings
about ATF, as my colleague Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick has
already said, we have ATF personnel investigating this case, tracking
down every lead, side by side with the FBI, so we're very proud of the
very hard work they do. We find it unfortunate that anyone would
criticize federal law enforcement officials that are sworn to uphold the
law that members of Congress pass and the President signed. Thank you.
Q Just a technical question. The 1,000 employees, is some of that to
staff the new domestic counterterrorism center that the President --
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: Yes. Yes, indeed.
Q And how many people does that center --
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL GORELICK: I can get that number for you.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 6:50 P.M. EDT
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