Wednesday, November 12, 2003
In honour of Veteran's Day:
Q: Scott, there are 17 former POWs from the first Gulf War who were
tortured and filed suit against the regime of Saddam Hussein. And a
judge has ordered that they are entitled to substantial financial
damages. What is the administration's position on that? Is it the view
of this White House that that money would be better spent rebuilding
Iraq rather than going to these former POWs?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know that I view it in those terms, David. I
think that the United States -- first of all, the United States
condemns in the strongest terms the brutal torture to which these
Americans were subjected. They bravely and heroically served our
nation and made sacrifices during the Gulf War in 1991, and there is
simply no amount of money that can truly compensate these brave men
and women for the suffering that they went through at the hands of
Saddam Hussein's brutal regime. That's what our view is.
Q: But, so -- but isn't it true that this White House --
Q: They think there is an --
Q: Excuse me, Helen -- that this White House is standing in the way of
them getting those awards, those financial awards, because it views it
that money better spent on rebuilding Iraq?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, there's simply no amount of money that can truly
compensate these brave men and women for the suffering --
Q: Why won't you spell out what your position is?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm coming to your question. Believe me, I am. Let me
finish. Let me start over again, though. No amount of money can truly
compensate these brave men and women for the suffering that they went
through at the hands of a very brutal regime, at the hands of Saddam
Hussein. It was determined earlier this year by Congress and the
administration that those assets were no longer assets of Iraq, but
they were resources required for the urgent national security needs of
rebuilding Iraq. But again, there is simply no amount of compensation
that could ever truly compensate these brave men and women.
Q: Just one more. Why would you stand in the way of at least letting
them get some of that money?
MR. McCLELLAN: I disagree with the way you characterize it.
Q: But if the law that Congress passed entitles them to access frozen
assets of the former regime, then why isn't that money, per a judge's
order, available to these victims?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I pointed out that that was an issue that
was addressed earlier this year. But make no mistake about it, we
condemn in the strongest possible terms the torture that these brave
individuals went through --
Q: You don't think they should get money?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- at the hands of Saddam Hussein. There is simply no
amount of money that can truly compensate those men and women who
heroically served --
Q: That's not the issue --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- who heroically served our nation.
Q: Are you opposed to them getting some of the money?
MR. McCLELLAN: And, again, I just said that that had been addressed
earlier this year.
Q: No, but it hasn't been addressed. They're entitled to the money
under the law. The question is, is this administration blocking their
effort to access some of that money, and why?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't view it that way at all. I view it the way that
I stated it, that this issue was --
Q: But you are opposed to them getting the money.
MR. McCLELLAN: This issue was addressed earlier this year, and we
believe that there's simply no amount of money that could truly
compensate these brave men and women for what they went through and
for the suffering that they went through at the hands of Saddam
Q: So no money.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- and that's my answer.
I recommend reading the entire briefing. The press ate McClellan alive.
posted by lazarus |