The White House (Washington, DC)

12 December 2013

South Africa: White House Press Briefing

document

Following are excerpts of the White House press briefing related to U.S. foreign policy and international engagement. The full transcript of the press briefing is available on the White House website.

MR. CARNEY: Hello, everyone. Thanks for being here. Thank you for giving my deputy the opportunity for brief for an hour and seven minutes yesterday. I'm going to top that today. (Laughter.) I'm going to just go and go and go.

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Q: On another subject that we asked about yesterday, but there have been some developments -- this issue of the sign language interpreter in South Africa. We now find out that apparently he's had psychotic episodes in the past and that he told one of our reporters that he was afraid of becoming violent while he was doing the sign language interpretation. Was there

-- is there now a concern, a security concern regarding that episode? Has the White House spoken to the South African government about the interpreter?

MR. CARNEY: For matters regarding the President's security I would refer you to the Secret Service. And obviously they worked very hard on this trip, which came about on short notice. But they, as they always do, took the precautions necessary to ensure the President's safety. But beyond that, for specifics related to this individual, I would either refer you to the government of South Africa or to the Secret Service.

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Q: To go back to the -- I know you said related to the Secret Service issue -- but can you at least walk us through how the security -- what was the interaction between the President's security and what was done in advance and the South African government?

MR. CARNEY: Again, that would be something specifically that the Secret Service would address.

Q: I mean, you do not know if the Secret Service at all had asked for at least the backgrounds of anybody that was going to be on the podium with the President?

MR. CARNEY: I can't discuss the measures taken by the Secret Service, even the ones that I'm aware of, in order --

Q: So you are aware of this?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I know some of the general things that are done in preparation for trips like these to ensure the President's security and the security of others traveling with him.

Q: There is a protocol between countries that's done between countries?

MR. CARNEY: Well, before I get even any further down the road in describing what the Secret Service does and how it does it, I will stop and refer you to the Secret Service, except to assure you that when the President travels -- notably, when he travels abroad and especially in a circumstance like that where there's obviously -- it's a big venue with a lot of people, the Secret Service works very hard to take the necessary precautions to ensure the President's safety.

Q: Was there ever a point that the President himself was concerned? Can you share that?

MR. CARNEY: I can tell you, having been with him on the entire trip, that I'm not aware that he was ever concerned.

Q: And he never was made aware -- were you guys ever made aware of any security concerns?

MR. CARNEY: I would refer you to the Secret Service. I was not aware of any, beyond just the generic concern that there's always an issue when you travel.

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