Informal Exchange With Reporters on Reports of Libyan Assassination Squads

December 7, 1981

The President. Now, let me state in advance that I'm going to make a statement, and it's going to be hit and run because -- --

Q. Oh, no.

The President. Yes. [Laughter] I have to. No, this was not on the schedule, and I've got the astronauts who took the Columbia around the globe several times waiting for me. And I've already delayed them, so -- --

Q. Don't you want to answer Qadhafi before you start? [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, he says you're a liar and silly and a child for believing that he's trying to assassinate you.

The President. I wouldn't believe a word he says if I were you.

Q. He says he wants the evidence; that if you don't have any evidence then you must be a liar.

The President. We have the evidence, and he knows it.

Q. Mr. President, are the reports of the assassination squads exaggerated? Are they exaggerated? The reports of the assassination squads, are they accurate -- the things that have been in the press?

The President. I just -- I won't comment on security matters. I really won't.

Q. Do you feel you're adequately protected?

The President. Yes. If I didn't think I was adequately protected, I wouldn't come in this room. [Laughter]

Note: The exchange began at 10:45 a.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House, where the President had gone to make a statement to reporters on his meeting with the Inspectors General and members of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency. The exchange preceded his statement.