[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1993, Book I)]
[March 2, 1993]
[Pages 230-231]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Exchange With Reporters Prior to Discussions With Secretary General 
Manfred Woerner of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
March 2, 1993

Branch Davidian Religious Sect Standoff

    Q. Mr. President, the incident in Waco appears to be ending. Do you 
have any misgivings at all about how that was executed?
    The President.  I don't think now is the time to discuss that. I'm 
pleased that it's ending. I think it's ending in a way that's very 
consistent with a similar incident that occurred in my State, very 
similar, when I was Governor there many years ago.
    Q. Are you satisfied that the appropriate action was taken in the 
first place?
    The President.  I don't think this is the time for me to comment on 
that. It's not appropriate at this time for me to comment on it.


    Q. Are you having any second thoughts about your criticism of George 
Bush's Haiti policy during the campaign, given that today you went to 
court to essentially support his position?
    The President.  But our position is different. Our position now is 
that there's a difference if there are extreme circumstances, and I 
think there are. You know, maybe I was too harsh in my criticism of him, 
but I still think there's a big difference between what we're doing in 
Haiti and what they were doing in Haiti. And there's a big difference 
between the kinds of problems that are created by the Haitian 
circumstance. I mean, something that was never brought up before but is 
now painfully apparent is that if we did what the plaintiffs in the 
court case want, we would be consigning a very large number of Haitians, 
in all probability, to some sort of death warrant. I mean, if you look 
at how many people have been lost at sea, look at the number of people 
who died not even trying to come to the United States in a much shorter 
trip recently, given the means they had to get here, the kinds of boats 
they have and all of that.
    We have now cut from 2 months down to 1 week the amount of time it 
takes to process

[[Page 231]]

people who want to be considered to be refugees in Haiti. When we bring 
people back, we meet them there now. We don't just let them get 
dispersed into the country. We're going out into the country and doing 
the refugee handling. So it's a very different set of circumstances than 
it was.

Note:  The exchange began at 4:25 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White 
House. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this