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Ari & I: October 9, 2002

Russell Mokhiber questions White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

Russell Mokhiber questions White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer gestures as he speaks to reporters at the White House briefing room April 2, 2003 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Russell Mokhiber: Ari, two questions. The New York Times this week published a letter from Theodore Sorensen, a former legal counsel to President John F. Kennedy, in which he said that the President --

Ari Fleischer: I'm well aware of what he said, Russell. I'm well aware.

Mokhiber: Well, if I could just read you the relevant question. "[President Bush has not yet openly reprimanded his press secretary, Ari Fleischer, for suggesting that "a bullet" is the cheapest way of accomplishing his goal of regime change in Iraq.] Is it possible that the United States now endorses for other countries a policy of presidential assassination, the very epitome of terrorism, after our own tragic experience with that despicable act?" And he [Sorensen] asks whether the President has reprimanded you. Has the President reprimanded you?

Ari Fleischer: As far as that is concerned, on the policy, as you know -- I think you were here when I said on the record that that is not -- and people heard it the day I said it -- that is not a statement of administration policy.

Mokhiber: But did the President reprimand you for saying that?

Ari Fleischer: I think I have made the views clear of where the White House is on this.

Mokhiber: Second question. The President has called both North Korea and Iraq two parts of an axis of evil. He says they both have weapons of mass destruction. He says they both threaten their neighbors. He says that both leaders -- he compares them to Stalin. So, other than the oil that Iraq controls, what's the difference?

Ari Fleischer: Between North Korea and Iraq?

Mokhiber: Yes.

Ari Fleischer: How many of Iraq's -- how many of North Korea's neighbors have they invaded lately?

Mokhiber: There was the war, right?

Ari Fleischer: I said lately. And I said by the current -- and also, of course, by the current leader. Saddam Hussein has ordered the Iraqi military to attack Iran. Saddam Hussein ordered the --

Mokhiber: That's when he was our guy, right? On the attack on Iran. Iran, you said.

Ari Fleischer: Well, if you have some disputes with the policies that were in place in 1979, you're welcome to bring those up with leaders who were here in 1979. Saddam Hussein ordered his military to attack Iran. Saddam Hussein ordered his military to attack Kuwait. Saddam Hussein launched the missiles at Saudi Arabia and at Israel. It's a very different matter, and a very different leader.

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