House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer
Aboard Air Force One
September 11, 2001
5:30 P.M. EDT
MR. FLEISCHER: The President will address the nation tonight, upon his return
to the White House. He met this afternoon for one hour and five minutes with
his national security team via live tele-conference from Offutt Air Force Base
Among the things the President said were, "We will find these people and
they will suffer the consequence of taking on this nation. We will do what it
takes," and he continued, "No one is going to diminish the spirit
of this country."
The President has also heard today from countless world leaders either who are
calling to -- back to Washington or have sent him directly communiques. He's
heard from Britain, France, Germany, Russia -- a host of nations, all of whom
have expressed their outrage at this attack, and who have assured the American
people that the international community stands with America.
That's what I've got.
Quester: The message tonight, do you know how soon after he gets back to the
White House he'll be able to do that?
MR. FLEISCHER: Can't indicate yet.
Question: And when he does, the message is to the American people, as he said
earlier, and to foreign countries ?
MR. FLEISCHER: It will be a message of resolve and reassurance. It will be a
reassuring message that our nation has been tested before, our nation has always
Question: Does the President have any information about the source of the violence
and the mastermind behind it?
MR. FLEISCHER: I'm not going to discuss any of the intelligence information
that's been provided to the President.
Question: Can you give us some idea of why the stops that we made today were
made? I understand the nature of the tragedy that we're dealing with, but why
these particular locations?
MR. FLEISCHER: For security purposes that involve the President.
Question: I mean, was this more like a roll of the dice as in, which Air Force
bases will we end up at? Or is this more wanting ?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, of course, nobody would ever know what Air Force base we
would end up at. That's routine procedure. There are a series of plan that you
always hope remain on the shelf that, unfortunately, today had to be implemented.
And so, as a matter of security, the President traveled in the manner that he
did and that also allowed the national security community to assess the ongoing
nature of a threat. Obviously, the President is now returning to Washington.
Question: Why is he returning now? Who makes the decision that it is safe for
his return now?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, ultimately, it's the President. Information is provided
to the President about any type of threat, and the President makes the final
determination. The President wanted to get back to Washington. He understood
that there can be a period of caution so that the security people can make a
full and proper assessment about any threats.
They were afforded that opportunity. The President traveled to a secure location
while they took that opportunity. And now, obviously, the President is returning
Question: There was some confusion earlier about whether the Vice President
was at the White House the entire time, or whether he was evacuated and ultimately
returned to the White House.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, my information is he was at the White House the whole time.
You'd have to check with his office about what time he arrived at the White
House. But from the beginning, when the President spoke to him this morning,
he was at the White House, that's where the President reached him.
Question: A number of domestic groups have called off, you know, scheduling
a number of activities -- baseball, Emmy awards. How does the President now
view the next few days for his concentration? He will have to deal with this
pretty exhaustively over the rest of the week.
MR. FLEISCHER: The President thinks it's important for America to return to
their lives. As he indicated, this is a test of America's resolve and that no
one will diminish America's spirit; and America's spirit includes a return to
Question: As for his schedule for the rest of the week, he will now focus on
MR. FLEISCHER: Of course, this will be his top priority now.
Question: What are his plans for -- in terms of, is he going to stay in the
White House? Is he going to be moved to a different location from there?
MR. FLEISCHER: We'll, of course, advise you of any presidential travel, as always.
But the President is returning to the Oval Office and he will go to work.
Question: He will what? I'm sorry.
MR. FLEISCHER: The President is returning to the White House to go to work.
Question: And you'll let us know details of the speech?
MR. FLEISCHER: Yes.
Question: Have the networks been informed ?
MR. JOHNDROE: No.
Question: Now, at this teleconference meeting with these -- his national security
team, was he projected on a wide-screen TV or did someone videotape him? Was
he alone? Can we get some more details on him?
MR. FLEISCHER: People could see each other, that's how these tele-conferences
Question Did he sit in a room before a single, solitary camera? Was he in that
room alone or was he with his aides and advisors?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, there were other people in the room with him. And he was
visible. And he could see the people who were talking to him from the White
Question: They were ?
MR. FLEISCHER: It was two-way.
Question: -- imposed on a video screen for him, at his location?