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Public Papers - 1989

Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on the Murder of Lieutenant Colonel William R. Higgins

1989-07-31

The President. Let me just say a word here and then go on. Let me just, on behalf of the American people, express the outrage that we feel at the brutal murder of Colonel Higgins. At this juncture, I don't have what I would call a final confirmation. On the way home from Chicago, I was on the phone to the Secretary-General [of the United Nations, Javier Perez de Cuellar]. And he, at that moment, which was about an hour ago, was still hoping that Higgins had not been murdered. I called Colonel Higgins' wife and talked to her -- wonderfully stoic individual who is going through sheer hell. And I will convene a meeting here in the White House about 5:30 p.m. to get an update on the intelligence and to meet with my top advisers on this whole matter.

And there is no way that I can properly express the outrage that I feel. And somehow there has got to be a return to decency and honor, even in matters of this nature.

And I will have nothing more to say about this until I have had this meeting and been with some -- I may say something more today, but probably not. And at this juncture, we want to get all the information and be sure we're dealing from the facts, not from -- regrettably -- from hearsay. But it is a most troubling and disturbing matter that has shocked the American people right to the core.

Q. Have you talked to the Israelis, sir?

The President. That's all I have to say about it. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 2:18 p.m. on the South Lawn of the White House. Lieutenant Colonel Higgins, USMC, chief of the U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, was kidnaped on February 17, 1988, and executed by pro-Iranian terrorists on July 31, 1989.

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