For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
The White House
October 28, 2003
President Bush Holds Press Conference
[excerpts on 9/11 and the President's Daily Brief / leaks]
Q: Mr. President, thank you. As you know, the Chairman of the commission investigating the September 11th attacks wants documents from the White House, and said this week that he might have to use subpoena power. You have said there's some national security concerns about turning over some of those documents to people outside of the Executive Branch. Will you turn them over, or can you at least outline for the American people what you think is a reasonable compromise so that the commission learns what it needs to know, and you protect national security, if you think it's that important?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. It is important for me to protect national security. You're talking about the presidential daily brief. It's important for the writers of the presidential daily brief to feel comfortable that the documents will never be politicized and/or unnecessarily exposed for public purview. I -- and so, therefore, the kind of the first statements out of this administration were very protective of the presidential prerogatives of the past and to protect the right for other presidents, future presidents, to have a good presidential daily brief.
Now, having said that, I am -- we want to work with Chairman Kean and Vice-Chairman Hamilton. And I believe we can reach a proper accord to protect the integrity of the daily brief process and, at the same time, allow them a chance to take a look and see what was in the -- certain -- the daily briefs that they would like to see.
Q: Do you need to bring them here so that the chairman and vice-chairman can see them --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we're working out -- we're working out the procedures. My only point is I do want to be helpful to Chairman Kean and Lee Hamilton. These are men of integrity, they're people who understand the process. They know the importance of the presidential daily brief; they know the importance of the daily brief to future presidents. And, therefore, I think they will be mindful of the need to gather evidence and, at the same time, protect the capacity for presidents to get unfettered, real, good intelligence.
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. You have said that you are eager to find out whether somebody in the White House leaked the identity of an undercover CIA agent. Many experts in such investigations say you can find if there was a leaker in the White House within hours if you asked all staff members to sign affidavits denying involvement. Why not take that step?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, the best person to that, Dana, so that the -- or the best group of people to do that so that you believe the answer is the professionals at the Justice Department. And they're moving forward with the investigation. It's a criminal investigation. It is an important investigation. I'd like to know if somebody in my White House did leak sensitive information. As you know, I've been outspoken on leaks. And whether they happened in the White House, or happened in the administration, or happened on Capitol Hill, it is a -- they can be very damaging.
And so this investigation is ongoing and -- by professionals who do this for a living, and I hope they -- I'd like to know.