Meanwhile, back in Washington


Excerpts from November 21 and 25 US State Department press briefings:

Q: Do you have any news from the Indonesia commission of inquiry into the massacre in East Timor?

Ms Tutweiler: I don't have any new news. Once again, as we have all — I believe it was last week or the week before — we have strongly condemned this, the excessive use of force, but I don't have any new news.

Q: Is the United States satisfied with the composition of the commission of inquiry?

Ms Tutweiler: I don't know a lot about the commission, to be honest with you. I just don't know.

Q: Is the Department aware that the president or chairman of this commission is himself a military man?

Ms Tutweiler: No, sir, I'm not personally, but I'm sure that there are people here who are very closely watching this and I know that the Secretary himself last night saw a piece on one of our American networks and spoke with the assistant secretary for this region this morning on the phone. So I know that it has his personal attention, but I personally just do not know the details that you are asking me.

Q: And is the Department aware of the footage [of the massacre] broadcast last night by CBS News?

Ms Tutweiler: If that's the footage — I guess it was CBS that the Secretary saw. So, yeah, I mean, he saw it himself.

Q: Do you have any comments to it or not?

Ms Tutweiler: Obviously, it was gruesome and we have said we have condemned it.

Q: Will it be part of the evidence of any investigation, current investigation that you're conducting on the massacre?

Ms Tutweiler: Sir, I simply don't know.

November 25

Q: I'm wondering — during that hearing, it was stated that the administration has been actually pushing to water down the resolution that would cut off aid to East Timor, or rather have it reconsidered until a thorough investigation has been completed in that matter. What is the administration's position on aid, military aid ... to the tune of $2 million a year?

Ms Tutweiler: I'll be happy to take your question. I will refer you to the record of any number of days where both I and the deputy spokesman, Richard Boucher, have addressed ourselves in our concern to the situation in East Timor ... I'm unaware of the testimony this py to look into that.

Q: Has the United States, while we're on that subject, come to any judgment about the alleged investigation that the Indonesian military has conducted into that massacre? Was that a true, fair, accurate ...

Ms Tutweiler: I'll look at it, Alan. That's something I haven't looked into for the last few days.

Q: Other governments have dismissed that investigation as a charade. We haven't yet heard from you.

Ms Tutweiler: Okay. I'll be happy to —

Q: I'm sorry. I have just one more question on Timor. The two journalists that testified today on the Hill said that they hadn't been approached by the State Department for a debrief on their experience. Could you confirm that?

Ms Tutweiler: Sir, I just said, in response to this lady's question, I'm unaware of the testimony on the Hill this morning. I said I would be happy to look into it.

Q: No, my — I'm sorry ...

Ms Tutweiler: So, it's a little difficult to respond — excuse me — to something I know nothing about.

Q: No, but they — then I'll formulate the question in another manner. Has the State Department approached the two witnesses of the massacre three weeks ago for a debrief, a formal debriefing?

Ms Tutweiler: I do not know. I will be happy to look into this for you.

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