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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Jen Psaki
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
June 12, 2013

Index for Today's Briefing
    • Condemn Helicopter Attack by Syrian Regime on Lebanese Town of Arsal
    • Continue to Consider all Possible Options to Support the Syrian Opposition
    • Car Bombs in Damascus
    • Importance of All Parties Respecting Lebanon's Disassociation Policy / Concern about Overflow of Attacks into Lebanon
    • Impact on Golan Heights
    • Chemical Weapons / Taking Every Step to Fully Investigate / Coordination and Information Sharing with Allies
    • Geneva 2 Conference
    • Clashes Continue Around Aleppo
    • Syrian Refugees / U.S. Support
    • Eric Snowden / Cyber Security Discussions
    • General Extradition Process
    • NSA Surveillance / Government-to-Government Contact
    • Protests / Reports of Arrests and Violence / Welcome Calls for Calm and Support Attempts to Resolve through Dialogue
    • OIG Investigations / Role of Outside Law Enforcement Experts / Need for Permanent OIG
  • D.P.R.K.
    • U.S. Humanitarian Assistance to North Korea


The video is also available with closed captioning on YouTube.

1:14 p.m. EDT

MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone.


MS. PSAKI: I just have one item at the top.

QUESTION: I’m sure it’s very exciting.

MS. PSAKI: It always is, Matt. It’s just for you.

QUESTION: Okay. I’m going to be personally offended if it (inaudible).

MS. PSAKI: Okay. We’ll do a judgment after I read it.

The United States condemns in the strongest terms today’s helicopter attack by the Syrian regime on the Lebanese town of Arsal. We fully condemn all attacks originating from Syria against Lebanese territory, particularly the targeting of civilians, and call for all parties to respect the stability, sovereignty, and independence of Lebanon. The Syrian regime’s aggression is an unacceptable provocation and risks dragging Lebanon into the Syrian conflict. We join the international community in reiterating our call for all parties in Lebanon to respect Lebanon’s disassociation policy.

We equally condemn the brutal, unprovoked gunfire by Hezbollah supporters on peaceful protestors outside the Iranian Embassy on Sunday that led to the death of a student leader, which underscores the need for all parties in the region to avoid any actions that would undermine Lebanon’s security and stability, exacerbate the crisis in Syria, increase the propensity for spillover violence, and negatively impact civilian populations.

QUESTION: That wasn’t bad.

MS. PSAKI: Great.


QUESTION: Matt, on this?

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah, on this. So, all of this bad, nasty stuff is going down. What are you going to do about it? When are you going to – are there any decisions forthcoming on changing strategy or adding – giving the opposition additional support or taking any kind of action which might make the Syrian regime less likely or less inclined to send helicopters over Lebanese territory to bomb them or tell Hezbollah to stand down? Anything?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, as you know, at the President’s direction, his national security team continues to consider all possible options, barring boots on the ground, that would accomplish our objectives of helping the Syrian opposition serve the essential needs of the Syrian people and hasten a political transition to a tolerant and diverse post-Assad Syria. I don’t have any new announcements or updates to provide with you – for you today. But this is, of course, on the minds and the focus of not only the Secretary, but the President and our entire team every day.

QUESTION: Do you also condemn the apparent terrorist attacks in Damascus, the booby-trapped cars that killed innocent civilians?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have – I mean, we would condemn all acts of violence, of course, that condemn – that injure or kill innocent civilians, naturally. I will – let me just add that we’re also appalled by reports that rebels have killed 60 Shia in Hatla village. The motivations and circumstances surrounding this massacre remain unclear, but the United States strongly condemns any and all attacks against civilians.

QUESTION: Okay. That was my next question. So if the victims were civilians, why would that remain unclear?

MS. PSAKI: That’s not unclear. The --

QUESTION: No. I mean, you just said that the circumstances are not – unclear.

MS. PSAKI: Those circumstances in terms of who is behind it are unclear, not the fact that we condemn the attack on innocent civilians.

QUESTION: Okay. And lastly on this point, how would you determine who is behind it in this very case?

MS. PSAKI: Again, that’s something that I don’t have anything specific to lay out for you. It’s always a focus of ours, and we work with people on the ground.

QUESTION: Jen, just --

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: -- coming after what Matt was saying, I mean, given this increase in incidents that you are alarmed by, I’ve noticed over the last few days that you’re coming out with a lot more concerns over specific things, which seems to heighten that you’re concerned.

Is there anything that – I mean, can you expect a decision this week on what the President is thinking going forward or on how he plans to take this to the G-8 and what he wants to see from the G-8 on this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I know my colleague Jay Carney was asked about this today as well, and I’d point you to his comments. And I don’t – I would, of course, point you to the White House and to him for any questions about the President’s decision-making. But I can just reiterate that the President is focused on this, the Secretary is focused on this.

Clearly, as I’ve stated a couple of times over the last couple of days, the recent events in Qusayr, the influx of foreign fighters and of Hezbollah has – we have refocused our efforts on figuring out what to do to help the opposition on the ground while still remaining focused on a political transition and still remaining in touch with the opposition on how we can best assist them.

QUESTION: Jen, on the Syrian attack on Lebanon, the Lebanese army has said today that it would immediately respond to any further cross-border attacks by the Syrian military. Do you support such a reaction?

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen their specific comments. We’ve been very clear, and I stated in my opening comments here the importance of all parties respecting Lebanon’s disassociation policy. We’ve been very concerned, and have been concerned for a couple of weeks now, about the overflow of these attacks and these issues into Lebanon and the impact it’s had there. But beyond that, I haven’t seen those specific comments this morning by the government.

QUESTION: But do you think that the Lebanese army have the right to respond in any – or to react in the future?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I haven’t seen the context of it, so I’m not sure I have much more to add for you on that.

QUESTION: But you know you have supported, armed, helped train the Lebanese army, have always spoken of the sovereignty of Lebanon. You would think that you would support Lebanon’s right to respond, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Of course. I just haven’t seen the context of the comments. We do, of course, broadly support that, and we also have been calling very firmly for, and encouraging our international partners to call for, this fight to move out of Lebanon. We’re very concerned about the overflow into Lebanon.

QUESTION: And the Lebanese President has issued a statement on this event too.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Jen, on something connected to this is the escalating violence, and Ban Ki-moon this morning made a report to the UN Security Council on the escalating violence in the Golan Heights, which is jeopardizing the peace, the ceasefire between Israel and Syria. How concerned are you on that, and any comment?

MS. PSAKI: I haven’t seen his recent comments. We have expressed concern, of course, in the past and in recent weeks about this and about specifically the impact on the Golan Heights and any overflow into areas that would destabilize or impact civilian populations and bring this fight into a larger regional – expand it regionally, which is one of our greatest concerns.

QUESTION: Is there any update on – from what you understand – on replacing the Austrian troops or --

MS. PSAKI: Not an update. We of course, as we did a couple of days ago, continue to encourage international allies and partners to make available our resources here, if possible, and for the UN to continue to coordinate with the Austrians. I know there’s been new reports about their withdrawal of troops today.

QUESTION: Yesterday, French Foreign Minister Fabius again stated that Bashar, which is the Bashar al-Assad, used chemical weapons in an outrageous manner. So this is just another statement coming from the French Foreign Minister in an absolute and – term that the Assad regime used chemical weapons. What’s your response or --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t have any new updates for you. I can say that it is because we take chemical weapons and their potential use so seriously that we need to fully investigate, and why we’re taking every step to do just that. You’re familiar with the steps we’re taking, of course --

QUESTION: I’m not familiar. What’s exactly you are doing right now? It has been two months that you have been using this exact same line when you are asked about the chemical weapons.

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s never been about a deadline self-imposed by you or by anyone else. This is about – been about finding the facts and getting to the bottom of the facts, and that’s exactly what the President and the Administration is focused on. So we are working with our allies, we’re gathering information from them, we’re sharing information with them, we’re in touch with the opposition on the ground, we’re in touch with the UN and continuing to encourage our international partners to provide information to the UN for their investigation.

We’re taking all of those steps, but we are focused on finalizing the facts and confirming the facts before anything else.

QUESTION: So it’s been a week now since you got the French evidence and you’re saying that you’re still not done, you’re still not satisfied?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we’re not --

QUESTION: You still have not convinced yourselves that, in fact, there is an airtight, 100 percent case to be made on the chemical weapons use?

MS. PSAKI: We’re not going to evaluate it in public, but if there was a change in our policy --

QUESTION: No, no, I’m not asking you to evaluate. I’m not asking you to evaluate. I’m just saying you still haven’t made that determination?

MS. PSAKI: There has not been a change in our policy.

QUESTION: Okay. So then logically, we should infer that you guys looked at the French stuff and said, “Eh, not -- ”

MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t – I would caution you against inferring anything.

QUESTION: Well, then you want to tell us where you stand? It would seem to me that since – well, first of all, the Secretary is meeting with Foreign Secretary Hague --

MS. PSAKI: He is.

QUESTION: -- today.

MS. PSAKI: Just in a few hours.

QUESTION: Right. And you will recall that it wasn’t just the French that came out and said they had incontrovertible evidence.

MS. PSAKI: That’s true.

QUESTION: It was also the Brits.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So if you guys have taken a look at the evidence which you have – you’ve had now for a week, and I would hope that the U.S. Government is able to do some kind of a decent analysis of that over the course of seven days – and you still haven’t made – come to the conclusion that you can assess with 100 percent certainty that chemical weapons were used, then I think that the observer is left to conclude that you have decided that the evidence that you got from the French wasn’t – didn’t hit the mark.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, you’re making a lot of conclusions. There’s no change in our policy. I’m not going to read out what we think of the information we received from the French or the British or any other country. This is being analyzed, of course, and looked at seriously by a team internally, but I have no change in policy or approach to announce.

QUESTION: Okay. But the approach still is – and correct me if I’m wrong – the approach still is that if chemical weapons use can be – is proved to a certainty or to a degree with which you’re confident that it is – that is accurate, that that is a game-changer --

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: -- and that a game-changing means a policy shift, correct?

MS. PSAKI: That is – the President said it is a redline, it is a game-changer. What that means in terms of the options, as you know, I will leave that to them to discuss.

QUESTION: Well, does changing the game mean – I mean, to me, that means that – that would signal – it would be a harbinger of a policy shift. Am I incorrect?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t want to get ahead of where we are, which is we’re not at that point.

QUESTION: So a game-changer doesn’t necessarily change the game. Is that what you’re saying?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, the President himself --

QUESTION: Because I don’t get it then.

MS. PSAKI: The President himself, and the Secretary has repeated, have said – let me just finish – that this is a redline, that if it’s crossed there are a number of options for them to consider. But we’re not at that point yet, so I don’t want to get ahead of what it means when we’re not at that point yet. We haven’t crossed --

QUESTION: Okay. Well, fair enough. Now it seems to – you seem to be implying that one of the options is to do nothing, is to change nothing. Is that an option?

MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not going to analyze the President’s options. They’re expansive. They’re – he’s asked his national security team to look into them.

QUESTION: All right. I understand. But it seems to me the Administration has been about as clear as mud on this, on what it means. And I just want it --

MS. PSAKI: Some mud is clear.

QUESTION: Is it? Okay. Well, not the clear mud kind. And --

MS. PSAKI: Okay. The non-clear mud.

QUESTION: Yeah. So I just want to make sure that when the Administration, when the President, when the Secretary, says the use of chemical weapons would be a game-changer, that that, in fact, means changing the game, means that there will be a shift.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to predict a shift about something that hasn’t happened yet, about a decision that has not been made yet. So there are, of course, the redline that would be crossed. And as we’ve consistently said, our action --

QUESTION: Okay. All right. Obviously, there’s nothing to add on this, so I won’t beat --

MS. PSAKI: There’s nothing to add.

QUESTION: I will not continue to beat the dead horse. But let me just --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Well, hold on. I just want to ask about Hague. Are – do you expect the issue of chemical weapons to come up in the meeting? I presume you do. Is that correct, yes?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we certainly --

QUESTION: Syria writ broad, but --

MS. PSAKI: We certainly do expect Syria as well as Middle East peace and preparations for the G-8 in Northern Ireland to all be topics of discussion.

QUESTION: Okay. Do you know if there has been a request similar to the one that was made to France, that the Secretary talked about in his phone call with Foreign Minister Fabius a week ago Sunday? Was there a similar request to the Brits for their – for any additional information that they might have on top of what the French were sending already? Do you know if there was --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of a specific request, but broadly we have been sharing with our allies information. That’s been part of our multilateral approach here. So I don’t have an update on new information. I don’t even think I would be able to share that with you if I did. But certainly, broadly --

QUESTION: You’d have to get – you’d have to ask him about it? He would have to spill the beans on that?

MS. PSAKI: Broadly speaking, Matt, we are sharing with our allies, which of course includes the French and the British and many others.

QUESTION: Can I just clarify the sequence?

QUESTION: Could you clarify something for us that you just said?

QUESTION: Can I just clarify the sequence here?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: So it was a week ago that the evidence was produced or given to you, or shared with, by France. Can you – are you saying that you have not yet completed your own analysis?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into that level of internal processes.

QUESTION: Why not?

QUESTION: But you would issue a statement, right?

MS. PSAKI: Because --

QUESTION: I mean, you told us – you told us that you’d gotten it.

MS. PSAKI: We did receive it.

QUESTION: Why won’t you tell us whether you’ve evaluated it?

MS. PSAKI: Because there’s – we’re not going to get into how we analyze and we’re not going to evaluate in public. So I’m not going to have additional details on when we analyze or what our analysis is. These are all factors that go into our decision making. And if there’s a change in policy or anything to announce, we will announce it.

QUESTION: But surely this is --

QUESTION: Okay. So you would announce --

QUESTION: This is --

MS. PSAKI: Let Jo just finish and we’ll go right to you, I promise.

QUESTION: This is perhaps one of the primordial issues in this conflict --

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- that we’ve seen in the last three years. We know there is evidence, we know you have it.

MS. PSAKI: We’ve said that we have that are intel assessments. We said that a couple of weeks ago.

QUESTION: Yes, yes.

MS. PSAKI: Absolutely.

QUESTION: And the French have provided you with evidence. It would seem correct, not just to the American public but also to the global public, that at some point when you tell us whether you’ve made that assessment, and then when you feel you’re able to, that you actually tell us what the assessment is. Otherwise, you’re just hiding something. Or have you backed yourself into such a corner now because this has been dubbed or being seen as a redline that you actually don’t want to be telling the public whether there’s been chemical weapons use or not because, as Matt correctly has said, that would assume some kind of a major shift in American policy?

MS. PSAKI: Well, that is making a lot of assumptions. Our policy here, Jo, is that we said a couple of weeks ago in the letter we all are familiar with to Congress that there – that our intel assessments showed that there was reasonable belief – it’s a paraphrase – that chemical weapons were used. At the time – and we continue to be in the same place – we said we were going to analyze the details, analyze the facts, acquire all information we can do. We’re still in that phase.

Of course, the information from the French and taking a look at that is a part of that process, but we’re not going to analyze it in public or evaluate it in public. We take it into account in our process of looking at all the information we have available, including what we’re hearing on the ground, what we’re talking to the UN about, et cetera. And as we have information that confirms the facts, if we have information to confirm the facts, I am sure we will share that, absolutely, to your point. But we’re just not there yet, so we’re just working day and night to make sure that we’re nailing the facts down before we have more to report.

QUESTION: So two clarifications, try again.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: One, that you will make an announcement once you conclude, correct? You will make an announcement?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, this is getting ahead of where we are. And we are taking a --


MS. PSAKI: Let me just finish. We’re taking a look at all the details, all of the information we have available, including the information from the French, including discussions we have with our allies. And if there’s something new to report, we will report that, of course.

QUESTION: Okay. And the other thing, you would consider how lethal this use or this alleged chemical weapons were? Because I remember, I was in Iraq and they would have liquid chlorine, for instance, an explosive. I mean, it stinks but it never killed anyone. It was the explosives that killed people. So you do consider that kind of analysis, correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s hard for me to analyze information that we don’t yet have to provide. So when we do, if we do, we will reach that point.


QUESTION: Other subject?

QUESTION: I have one.

MS. PSAKI: Oh, Syria. Sorry. Go ahead.

QUESTION: I have one on Syria.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Besides Britain and France, which are the other countries which have provided you information on the use of chemical weapons?

MS. PSAKI: We’re not going to read that out for other countries. I’m sure if they want to provide information – tell you that they have provided information, they will. So we’ll leave it to them.

QUESTION: But there are other countries, too, besides these --

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to get into confirming numbers or anything like that. Broadly, we are, of course, working with our allies and sharing information from both sides.

QUESTION: But Britain and France are they not only two countries that have provided you with information?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to get into that. They have both said publicly they did, so I would point you to that. If other countries want to get into sharing that type of information, that is certainly fine, of course.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: Syria?

QUESTION: Is there any relation between the assessment of the use of chemical weapons and decisions that White House will take regarding Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I would just point you to what the President has said, that the use of chemical weapons is a redline and that he would take a look at all options, barring boots on the ground, but any action we take will be consistent with our national interest and must advance our ultimate goal of a negotiated political settlement to an authority that can provide basic stability, protect the human rights of all Syrians, secure unconventional and advanced conventional weapons. And that’s part of the process of considerations. So I don’t want to get into analyzing his decision-making process. I would point you to the White House for that. But beyond that, this is something the Secretary is very focused on.

QUESTION: You would point us to the White House for an analysis of the President’s decision-making policy?

MS. PSAKI: Well, if there’s something to be shared, I would point to them --

QUESTION: How forthcoming do you think that the White House is going to be about that?

MS. PSAKI: If there’s something to be shared, I would point to them to share it.

QUESTION: Jen, as a follow-up of this decision-making process, is public opinion effective over decision-making process?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure I’m following you.

QUESTION: I mean, American public opinion is influential on this decision-making process?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think the decision-making process in terms of whether additional steps should be taken has a number of factors that we’ve talked about quite a bit in here, including how we can help advance – how we can help end the bloodshed and help end the suffering of the Syrian people, how we can help bring an end to the Assad reign in the country. But in terms of – I’m not sure what you’re tying it to in terms of how that would play.

QUESTION: You had mentioned about the national security – I mean the national security criteria of this Administration, probably.

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: But the public opinion also has an idea about the national security, so --

MS. PSAKI: Well, broadly speaking, if there are – if there is additional aid that is provided or additional resources and that requires Congress to vote on that, that’s certainly something – I would point you to them – that the American public has an opinion and a view on, and that’s always a factor. The President and members of Congress are all elected to represent the American people.

QUESTION: Because I saw today a poll demonstrating that 11 percent of the American public opinion – only 11 percent of them are supporting the arming the rebels idea. I mean --

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not sure I have much more to add in analysis here for you.

QUESTION: Where is the timeline Russia at this time as far as this conflict is concerned?

MS. PSAKI: The conference --


MS. PSAKI: -- or the conflict?


MS. PSAKI: What specifically about where they are?

QUESTION: I mean, are they with the U.S. or UN? Are they in the mainstream or are they still supporting Syrian Government?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’d leave you to speak with them about that, Goyal, and I’m sure they’ll be happy to chat about it. You know we’ve been working with our Russian counterparts.

QUESTION: So you’ve referred us to the White House for an analysis of the President’s internal decision-making process.

MS. PSAKI: You’re very --

QUESTION: Now you’re referring us to China --

MS. PSAKI: Matt, you’re very talented reporters in here with lots of international contacts, so I’m just lifting up your abilities.

QUESTION: -- to China and Russia for transparent analyses of their policy.

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: Are you going to refer us to North Korea now for a – (laughter).

MS. PSAKI: Perhaps, depending on the question. I can’t speak on behalf of the position of the Russian and the Chinese Government. You know that the Russians are working with us to try to move forward in planning for Geneva, and we’ve been very vocal about our concerns about some of their recent actions.

QUESTION: The reason I asked was really that at the international level, at the United Nations level, then you’re talking about more and more countries, and including maybe India also, may be supporting the U.S. or UN if there’s international momentum or support. That’s why.

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Well, the UN will issue the invitations to the conference. And broadly speaking, that will include members of the London 11, the early participants of Geneva 1, and there are still some other determinations that are being made.


QUESTION: I apologize, I was a little bit late --

MS. PSAKI: No problem.

QUESTION: -- if this came up already. Secretary Kerry stayed in Washington for meetings this week, some of which you said would be on Syria. I’m wondering when those meetings will be taking place with the White House and --

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to read out the timing of routine meetings and when they will be and what they’ll be about. I would just reiterate that they have meetings about Syria all the time. That’s obviously a big topic of conversation with the national security team. And so – but beyond that I’m just – I don’t have much more to add.

QUESTION: So does that – just on a technical point here, would you be willing to read out the timing of non-routine meetings, extraordinary meetings, emergency meetings that are held? Is it just routine meetings --

MS. PSAKI: Matt, if it’s an extraordinary meeting like the one we have with Foreign Minister Hague, then you’re well aware of it because it’s on the public schedule.


QUESTION: I have a question --

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Go ahead. On Syria?

QUESTION: Actually, on China.

MS. PSAKI: Can we finish just on Syria --


MS. PSAKI: -- and then we’ll go back? Anyone else have Syria?

QUESTION: On Syria, on Aleppo there are news reports that Hezbollah force in Aleppo now and there are some Syrian regime renewed attacks on some of the spots. Is – does your assessment confirms that, or what’s your assessment?

MS. PSAKI: Well, clashes continue to occur in contested areas around Aleppo, which is, I think, what you were referring to, Aleppo city and the Aleppo countryside. We remain deeply concerned by implications that a major impending regime offensive may have in the areas of Homs and Aleppo, where we expect many residents to flee an advance of the regime and allied militias’ attacks. So we are, of course, watching this closely. We have seen the reports of fighting in these – Aleppo city and the Aleppo countryside, certainly.

QUESTION: Sorry – you said that there were signs of a major impending government offensive on Aleppo?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s implications of. Just that this has been something that has been talked about and reported, so we are watching it closely, of course.

QUESTION: Okay. And then this is different than Qadhafi threatening to go into Benghazi how, again?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not sure where you’re going with this, Matt.

QUESTION: The reason that was given for NATO to take military action in Libya was that Qadhafi had threatened a major offensive on Benghazi in which tens of thousands of civilians would die. We have already seen, as you know, tens of thousands of civilians die in Syria in major government offensives. And now you’re saying that there are signs that there is a major impending government offensive on Aleppo, which one could argue would be the Syrian equivalent of Benghazi.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, we don’t have --

QUESTION: And I’m just wondering why, exactly, that is not a trigger for military action in the same way that the threat of an invasion on Benghazi by Qadhafi was in Libya.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I don’t want to compare the two. I know that’s what you’re trying to get me to do. This is obviously one we’ve seen in this specific case. Reports of this we have --

QUESTION: Actually I don’t – I want you to contrast the two. I don’t want you to compare the two.

MS. PSAKI: Compare. Sorry, I apologize. We have seen reports of this. We’re obviously watching it closely. As you know, there are a number of factors that go into decisions about what the next steps should be for the U.S., which we’ve talked about quite extensively in here, as well as for the UN, which I would point you to them on, and I assure you they will be very responsive to your questions.

But beyond that, it’s every – you can’t compare country by country. There are different circumstances in each country, different issues we’re watching, different --

QUESTION: That’s right. I agree with you. I agree there are different issues. One difference, one main difference, is that 80,000 people didn’t die in Libya and 80,000 people have died in Syria. Another difference is that Qadhafi never used chemical weapons. Assad, you say – you think – and the Brits and the French say, have used chemical weapons. I just don’t understand how it is that you can continue to do what you’re doing now, which, frankly, is not arming the rebels, is not doing what you did in Libya, when the threat – it’s not just a threat in Syria, it’s actually happening. But I appreciate that you can’t answer the question. So we can move on.

MS. PSAKI: It is. It is actually happening. Let me just say this last thing: It is actually happening. And as I’ve said over the past couple of days, obviously the influx of Hezbollah and foreign fighters, the impact that’s had on boosting the Assad regime, the expanse, the overflow of this fight into other countries, has refocused our efforts on what we can do on the ground. There are a number of factors, international allies, the UN, everybody’s making their different decisions, but obviously this is one of those tragedies that the Secretary wakes up and thinks about every single day.

QUESTION: Just two quick follow-ups: You said that you are not comparing, but as far as we know you were comparing between the Iraq War and Syria repeatedly, right? What is – what that means?

MS. PSAKI: I was referring to chemical weapons and how we’re not going to jump ahead of the facts that we have confirmed. And I’ve used it in that context a couple of times.

QUESTION: So if this impeding attack – renewed attack is going to happen, obviously there are already half a million, almost half a million Syrian refugees in Turkey, and one would just expect this numbers is going to go up, is going up anyway. Isn’t this concerning you? Aren’t you thinking that these refugees are going to also affect one of your allies in the region, as well as other countries, obviously?

MS. PSAKI: Of course the --

QUESTION: And you are watching closely. But you are watching closely.

MS. PSAKI: Of course the influx of refugees is of great concern. That’s one of the reasons we provided just a couple of weeks ago tens of millions of dollars to several of our allies in the region, to help them with the refugees. Does that solve the problem? No. But ultimately what we need to do here is bring an end to the brutal regime of Assad and a move towards a political transition, and that’s what we’re working toward.


QUESTION: A new subject?

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you. On this NSA surveillance by the government, Mr. Snowden is saying that the U.S. is bullying Hong Kong to obviously get him out of there. Do you have any response directly to what he is saying? And then, also, is the U.S. talking to Hong Kong directly now about this case, asking for any help, et cetera? Dare we also ask about extradition?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have anything new on this for you.

QUESTION: Nothing at all?

MS. PSAKI: Nothing at all.

QUESTION: Not even a response to the bullying comment?

MS. PSAKI: I do not have anything new on it.

QUESTION: I have a related question though, from me.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: The South China Morning Post have just published an interview with Snowden in which they’re reporting they’ve seen NSA documents he’s provided showing repeated U.S. hacking of computers in Hong Kong and China. Now, obviously, I wouldn’t expect you comment on the documents themselves, but could you comment on the perception of double standards that exists given the repeated criticism of China cyber-attacks at weekend?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. I can broadly speak to that. And this is something that actually this weekend, when the White House did their briefing, they spoke to this as well. This is a case where obviously talking about cyber security with the Chinese Government, a topic of conversation both this past weekend and it will be again at the S&ED talks in July, is a priority to the U.S., as you know, and it’s important for China as well.

I haven’t seen those specific reports, I can’t speak to them, but there is a difference between going after economic data and financial information that is part of these cyber-attacks, or seems to be, and an issue which is – the President has welcomed the debate on, which is – and the Administration has welcomed the debate on, which is surveillance and going after people who mean to do harm. So there is a difference, and that would be what I would have to say on that.

QUESTION: So – and when you say going after people who aim to do harm, how is hacking computers in Hong Kong and China related to that?

MS. PSAKI: I wasn’t speaking to that specifically. I thought you were asking me about the recent NSA reports.

QUESTION: Well, I’m asking about the perception that you have criticized China for the cyber-attacks, and today we have NSA documents reporting to show the U.S. attacking computers in China and Hong Kong.

MS. PSAKI: I just haven’t seen those reports. So --

QUESTION: Can I ask one just quick procedural question on the extradition issue? Clearly, you can’t comment on that directly, but how do extradition cases like this work in terms of the departmental responsibility? Would it have been the Department of State that would handle this? Is it a Justice matter? Do you act for Justice in contacting authorities like Hong Kong? How would it proceed if it does proceed?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I talked about this on Monday. We do have an extradition treaty with Hong Kong. Beyond that, in terms of the logistics of how it works in a case that involves interagencies, I just don’t have that level of detail.

QUESTION: But is it – is extradition normally handled by State? Is it a request that State would make to a --

MS. PSAKI: State is certainly a part of it, but beyond that, every case is different. So I just don’t have a – more level of detail.

QUESTION: Just a clarification --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- Mr. Snowden has not been declared a fugitive, has he? Through – for extradition or --

MS. PSAKI: I wasn’t speaking to that specific case.

QUESTION: Okay, but --

MS. PSAKI: As I mentioned, there are several agencies involved in this. ODNI has spoken extensively to this, and I’d point you to their comments.

QUESTION: So – but no, but my question is as long as he’s not declared a fugitive, certainly there is no active extradition, is there?

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to speculate further on this case.


QUESTION: I’m sorry. In response to Jill’s original question, did you say that you’re not going to talk about any – to say whether there have been any conversations between officials at the consulate general in Hong Kong or in Washington and officials in Hong Kong about this case?

MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any updates on that.

QUESTION: Can I ask that you recheck and find out (a) if there are such conversations taking place, if you will be able to say that there are, or if they – lawyers have basically just said, “Shut up” and don’t say anything about it, and then two, if they don’t say that, I would – it would be appreciated, I think, by all of us --

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- if you could let us know. Even if it’s not talking about the contents of such conversations, it would seem to be negligent on behalf of this Administration if it was not in contact with officials in Hong Kong about this individual considering what the – at least people on the Hill have said about him and people within – people actually within the Administration.

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I don’t have any update, anything for you it.

QUESTION: I understand that, but --

MS. PSAKI: If I do, or if there’s anything that can be shared, I understand the interest and I’m certainly venture to share that.

QUESTION: All right. And then the other thing is that I think that you will not be bound – or you will find that your lawyers will not bind you from talking about extradition in general and the fact –

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: -- and the role that you play as basically, I think, a courier for the Justice Department between the – I don’t believe that State has any actual --

MS. PSAKI: I’m happy to get folks --

QUESTION: -- policy rule on this.

MS. PSAKI: -- in – a rundown of the legal breakdown.

QUESTION: It would be --

QUESTION: I think it’s about a paragraph worth of information.

MS. PSAKI: That is a paragraph of information. I just didn’t have specifics on it.

QUESTION: We’ve talked about it in previous cases.

MS. PSAKI: We have talked about it, and I talked about it on Monday.

QUESTION: On Turkey? (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Hong Kong?

MS. PSAKI: Let’s just finish. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Has any country expressed concern about the U.S. program to tap into the internet and emails of foreign nationals? I have seen few media reports --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- (inaudible) Indian officials expressing concern over this.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware – I had spoke about this a couple days ago. I don’t have any update since then.

QUESTION: Jen, Turkey?

QUESTION: There was a statement today from the EU --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- that they’re very worried about it, and they’re actually contacting you to try and find out if any EU nationals --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- have been targeted. Do you have any information on that?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any information on that. What I said the other day, which is what I was referring to, was just that I wasn’t aware of any high-level, government-to-government, or any specific contact along those lines.

QUESTION: But this has happened today. They’ve actually --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything new on this. I’m happy to check on it --

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: -- if there’s any updates to provide, of course.

QUESTION: Jen, Turkey?

QUESTION: Can I ask one more question?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Did you help to any other country in terms of the capability of this program in the past?

MS. PSAKI: Did we help?

QUESTION: Yes. I mean, is anybody, is any country asked help from you to access to any privacy, this kind of --

MS. PSAKI: I’m just not going to get into specifics on that.


QUESTION: Yes. There were big protests in Turkey, especially in Istanbul, Taksim Square --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- as the Americans watched through CNN all day. What was your assessment of the situation?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we, of course, continue to follow events in Turkey with great concern. We believe that Turkey’s long-term stability, security, and prosperity is best guaranteed by upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression, assembly, association, and a free and independent media, and we expect the Turkish authorities to uphold those freedoms – these fundamental freedoms as well. We’re troubled by any attempts to punish individuals for exercising their right to free speech, and we condemn attempts by any party to provoke violence.

QUESTION: So when you say you are troubled by punishment of any individuals for exercising their rights, do you have tangible evidence that someone got punished because of their protesting or --

MS. PSAKI: Well, there have been broad reports of arrests and there have been broad reports of violence. Again, these cases will be looked into, but broadly speaking, we’re, of course, concerned about that.

QUESTION: So it has been more than two weeks now these protests have been going on, and you urged Turkish Government to uphold these fundamental rights. How Turkish Government has been doing on this aspect for the last two weeks?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m not going to give a grade. We do welcome calls, of course, for calm, and support attempts to resolve this situation through dialogue, which I know there have been some attempts at, taking into account views from different spectrums. And we remain – we want all sides to resolve this through dialogue, and we remain concerned about any evidence of violence or attempts to repress freedom of speech.

QUESTION: Do you have any recent calls between here yesterday or today?

MS. PSAKI: Not since – I spoke about the Secretary, I believe, speaking with Foreign Minister Davutoglu a couple of days ago, but not since then.

QUESTION: Are you aware of any kind of foreign conspiracies against the Erdogan government to dislodge them? This is what the ministers of Turkey – several ministers of Turkey and high officials have been talking about.

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware of that. I would point you to those who said it.

QUESTION: And one last thing on the – is (inaudible) now the Turkish police forces have been using this tear gas and pepper gas and all that. Obviously, apparently, mostly this gas being provided by the U.S. companies. Are you going to have any kind of – I don’t know what can you do, but do you think the government, U.S. Government, needs to extend precautions while selling this gas to Turkey or another country?

MS. PSAKI: Well, these cases will, of course, be looked into, which we fully support. And we remain concerned about any incidents of violence or use of force by police or others against protesters who are simply expressing their public views.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) really quickly, I just need to clarify something from yesterday --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- on the IG and this whole --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- imbroglio. And that is the – specifically these outside law enforcement experts who are working with the IG now, are they investigating the specific incidents that were outlined in the 2012 October memo, or are they just investigating – or are they just looking at the process?

MS. PSAKI: Their focus, as we understand it – and I would point you to the IG’s office, of course, to confirm this, but their focus is on reviewing the process.

QUESTION: The process, okay.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So it is incorrect to say that the – there is some kind of a new or outside investigation into the actual allegations that are contained in that memo, the October 2012 memo. The investigations into them were done by DS in-house, internally, and are either finished or are in process. Is that correct?

MS. PSAKI: Well --

QUESTION: And the new – anything new – the outside experts – doesn’t have to do with the facts or the non-facts, as the case may be, in those specific incidents?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, the way that we understand it – and again, the IG’s office --

QUESTION: I understand.

MS. PSAKI: -- I’m just repeating, is independent, so I’d point you to all of them, but is that they are looking into the processes as it relates to these cases. So I’m not sure how they will go about that process. They’re working with outside law enforcement. But the focus, as you mentioned, is on taking a look at some of the issues raised in the February memo.

QUESTION: Well, no, no. I understand, but they are not actually going – all right, say there’s incident X.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Okay? They’re not re-looking into the facts of incident X; they are looking at how the DS investigators investigated the facts of incident X, correct?

MS. PSAKI: That is the focus. But to confirm everything they’re doing, I would point you to them.

QUESTION: Well, then let me put it another way. Once that – once the outside experts are done, there isn’t going to – with their probe – people who were involved and either disciplined or not disciplined whatever for these incidents, their cases haven’t been re-opened, have they?

MS. PSAKI: Well, some cases are ongoing.

QUESTION: But from the point of view of these outside law enforcement experts that you talked about, they’re not re-looking into the actual events or allegations.

MS. PSAKI: Again, I’m not trying to be tricky here with you at all, I promise. I just don’t want to go too far in speaking on behalf of the IG’s office. So the focus of their review is to look at the process.

QUESTION: And whether or not investigators were improperly – or whether there was – whether or not they are independent or there’s – they have the appearance and --

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: But --

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. PSAKI: -- I would refer to them for more --

QUESTION: I have a --

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: -- question on this as well.

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: Could you tell us how the allegations that were in the original internal October 2012 memo came to light? That has not been clear to me. Was it – because it was a routine review by the IG.

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: So how did --

MS. PSAKI: Well, all of those cases, which were from different time periods, were already under review, so it depended on each case. Each case is different.

QUESTION: So when the IG went in in October 2012, these allegations had already been made within the DS, the DS was already examining them?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.

QUESTION: Okay. And you don’t know under what circumstances these allegations were made? Was it confidential tipoffs? Was it a survey that was given out to workers? How did the allegations come to light?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there are different individual cases --


MS. PSAKI: -- which I don’t want to outline from here, of course.


MS. PSAKI: So each case is different.

QUESTION: Okay. So there wasn’t any kind of – they didn’t go in and sit down and say, okay, everybody tell us if you’ve got any concerns, and then they gathered it all up and then from that the October ’12 memo was constructed?

MS. PSAKI: Well, the memo was drafted, again, by the IG’s office.


MS. PSAKI: Right. So that was as part of a routine review. In terms of what information they gathered, you’d have to talk to them about it. But again, they didn’t have access to case files and there was a great deal of unsubstantiated information in there. But I would speak to them about how that memo was put together in particular.

QUESTION: Okay, thank you.

QUESTION: Jen, another question on the IG, please?

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: We talked – CNN talked with Congressman Royce today, and he said that there – one of the key issues beyond everything is that there’s a lack of a permanent IG, and he said this has been going on for years. Can you – do you agree that that indeed is one of – is a problem, and can you explain why there is no permanent IG at this point?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I can tell you first, one, we have received Chairman Royce’s letter and are processing his request for further information. We’re also working to schedule an appropriate briefing as soon as possible. I know that wasn’t your question, but --

QUESTION: A briefing for us?

MS. PSAKI: For the Hill. Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: Oh, for the Hill. Not for us.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I’ve been briefing you quite extensively here, if I do say so myself.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

MS. PSAKI: But in terms of the IG, absolutely, there is a need to have a permanent IG in place. The Secretary has made a choice on that front. In terms of when that will be fully through the process, I don’t have any update on that, but it is something that is a priority for him and he is focused on.

QUESTION: Well, why isn’t there one, though, for this long a time?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t know the history of why someone wasn’t approved here or put through. I know people have been nominated at various times, sometimes there’s a delay for reasons that are hard to explain.

I have to go up to the Foreign Minister’s meeting, so let me just do one here with the lovely green sweater on.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Jen. It is reported that the United States Senate passed a law and ban for the five years food aid to North Korea. How does the United States deal with the humanitarian assistance to North Korea?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I actually haven’t seen that and I’m happy to take the question and get you all a response to that. As you know, it’s never been about the people of North Korea. We want to make sure that they have the aid and the assistance they need. We work with a number of NGOs in order to do that, but it is difficult. It’s on the North Korean regime for not letting appropriate resources into the country, but I’ll take a closer look at that and we’ll get you a more formalized response.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 1:59 p.m.)

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