Ari & I: October 26, 2001
White House Press Briefing with Ari Fleischer
Russel Mokhiber: Ari, the Los Angeles Times today ran a long front page article exploring the idea of bringing Osama Bin Laden to the United States and putting him on trial. The President said he wants bin Laden dead or alive. Would he prefer that he be brought to the United States and put on trial or that killed?
Ari Fleischer: The President would prefer to take first things first and let the military campaign continue until justice is brought to Osama bin Laden -- and whatever form that takes, the President will be satisfied with.
Mokhiber: Okay and the second question is --
Ari Fleischer: By the way, welcome back, we haven't seen you here in a while.
Mokhiber: Thank you, it was out of my hands -- (laughter).
The second question Ari, is, a number of family members of victims of September 11, including Judy Kean, who lost her husband Richard Kean at the World Trade Center, and Amber Amundson, who lost her husband, who was a Pentagon worker, have come out and said they are opposed to this war in Afghanistan.
Specifically, Amundson wrote in the Chicago Tribune two weeks ago that "these acts of revenge only amplify our families suffering, deny us the dignity of remembering our loved one in a way that would have made him proud, and mock his vision of America as a peacemaker in the world community."
I'm wondering if the President has heard from these family members and what his response was
Ari Fleischer: I couldn't tell you directly whether the President has heard directly from those family members. But I can tell you what the President's response is to thoughts like that. And that is, the reason the United States, in the few times it has gone to war, has won every war it has ever fought, is because people are always free to express the thought that war is wrong, that war is bad, and the United States should not participate in it. And that is why we are a free country and a strong country.
It is also the President's feeling that the actions he has taken help save lives, protect lives, and it is a war that we must fight for the next generation, for our children and grandchildren, so that they can live free from terror, and so that their families will not have to suffer from the murders that took place to the families of the Keans and others, who were affected at the World Trade Center, as well as the Pentagon and on the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania.