The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
11:45 A.M. EDT
MR. FLEISCHER: Good morning. The President began with an intelligence briefing, followed by his FBI briefing. And then he met with the President of Panama, where they discussed trade between the United States and Panama. The President thanked the President of Panama, President Moscoso, for her country's excellent law enforcement and security cooperation along the Panama Canal. He congratulated the country of Panama, the people of Panama on the 100th anniversary of independence. And he thanked the government of Panama for their support on Article 98 action on international agreements.
The President will, at 12:25 p.m., make remarks at the Corporate Council on Africa's U.S.-Africa Business Summit. The President will announce there his agenda for Africa. This is in anticipation of the President's upcoming trip to Africa. And the President will discuss at quite some length the situation in Congo, Liberia, Sudan. He'll announce a new $100 million anti-terrorism effort, particularly to include airport and seaport security. And he'll talk about his already announced initiatives dealing with helping the people of Africa in the fight against hunger, the fight against AIDS, to improve education, and to develop the country and the continent, and to increase trade.
Later this afternoon, the President will meet with the Prime Minister of Mauritius, and I anticipate that trade will be the topic at those discussions, as well.
With that, I'm more than happy to take questions. Campbell.
Q: Ari, yesterday we asked you about General Abizaid's comments during his confirmation hearing, when he said that it was perplexing that they had not yet found weapons of mass destruction. You said you had not yet seen the report. Presumably, you've had a chance to go through his comments. Do you agree that it's perplexing that they have yet to find WMD?
MR. FLEISCHER: And let me thank you for giving me the opportunity to look at it, which I've done. I've read most of what he said yesterday, and indeed, he did say that it was perplexing in that sense that we had not yet found it. He also went on to say -- and I quote him -- "I'm confident we will show that there was deception. I'm confident we will show that there was deception. I'm also confident at some point it will lead us to actual weapons of mass destruction."
And then in explaining as the senators pressed him on what he meant by perplexity, the General stated that, "Before the war, we picked up the movement at the depots. We thought that meant that they were certainly moving things forward for use of military operations. It may very well have been that they received the order, quite to the contrary, to get rid of them. But I don't know. And I think we won't know for a while."
And I think he's stating the obvious, that we haven't found the weapons yet. Given the fact that we have intelligence which we strongly believe in and continue to believe in, that is perplexing. I think it's similar to what the President said when he talked about, in an interview, I think, with NBC, when the President said he understands that people may be skeptical until the weapons are actually found. So I think it's a rather plain English description of the process and the fact that we haven't discovered them yet. But he also stated in there his confidence that we will.
Q: But, Ari, it's completely different than what the White House has said ...
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