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Posted: Jan 5 2007, 05:22 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Vice President, thank you. Madam Secretary, thank you for joining us. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the White House. I am pleased to announce that I intend to nominate Ambassador John Negroponte to be our next Deputy Secretary of State, and Vice Admiral Mike McConnell to be America's next Director of National Intelligence.
Under the leadership of Secretary Rice, the men and women of the State Department are working to expand freedom and defend America's interests around the world. The Deputy Secretary of State is a key role in shaping American foreign policy and in guiding our diplomats deployed around the globe. The Deputy Secretary also helps our nation's chief diplomat manage the State Department, and helps coordinate with other federal agencies so that America speaks to the world with one voice.
I have asked John Negroponte to serve in this vital position at this crucial moment. John Negroponte knows the State Department well. After all, he started there in 1960 as a Foreign Service Officer in the administration of President Eisenhower. In the four-and-a-half decades since, he has served our nation in eight Foreign Service posts, spanning three continents. He served as Deputy National Security Advisor to President Reagan. He represented America at the United Nations. He served as our first ambassador to a free Iraq. And for nearly two years, John has done a superb job as America's first Director of National Intelligence.
John Negroponte's broad experience, sound judgment and expertise on Iraq and in the war on terror make him a superb choice as Deputy Secretary of State, and I look forward to working with him in this new post.
Ambassador Negroponte leaves big shoes to fill as the Director of National Intelligence. The DNI has become a core part of our national security team. The DNI determines the national intelligence budget, overseas the collection and analysis of intelligence information, ensures that intelligence agencies share information with each other, and creates common standards for intelligence community personnel. The vigilance of the DNI helps keep the American people safe from harm.
Admiral Mike McConnell has the experience, the intellect, and the character to succeed in this position. He served as Director of the National Security Agency during the 1990s. He was the intelligence officer for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the liberation of Kuwait in Operation Desert Storm. Admiral McConnell has decades of experience, ensuring that our military forces had the intelligence they need to fight and win wars.
He's worked with the Congress and with the White House to strengthen our defenses against threats to our information systems. He has earned our nation's highest award for service in the intelligence community. As DNI, Mike will report directly to me, and I am confident he will give me the best information and analysis that America's intelligence community can provide.
I thank John and Mike for taking on these new challenges. I appreciate their service to our country. Each of them will do good work in their new positions. And it is vital they take up their new responsibilities promptly. I'm confident the United States Senate will also see the value of these two serving in crucial positions. And I would hope that they would be confirmed as quickly as possible.
Congratulations to you both. Thank you very much.
AMBASSADOR NEGROPONTE: Thank you very much, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Secretary Rice, Admiral McConnell. It's been a great honor, Mr. President, to serve as your first Director of National Intelligence. I will always be grateful to you for having given me the opportunity to help achieve the goals that you and the Congress set for intelligence reform.
During the past 20 months, I believe that our intelligence community has embraced the challenge of functioning as a single unified enterprise, and reaffirmed the fact that it is the best intelligence community in the world, second to none. That's to the credit of the hundreds -- the thousands of intelligence professionals who serve this nation around the globe, many in harm's way. They and their families make great sacrifices to keep America safe. It has been a privilege to lead them, and it is because of them that I leave the post of the Director of National Intelligence with regret.
But I am heartened to know that the intelligence community now will be led by Admiral Mike McConnell, a man whose exceptional accomplishments as an intelligence professional will ensure wise stewardship and success as the Director of National Intelligence. Admiral McConnell will continue to drive forward the reforms we have initiated, fully integrating the domestic, foreign and military dimensions of our national intelligence enterprise.
Now for someone who started his career as a junior foreign service officer in October of 1960, the position, Mr. President, to which you are now nominating me is a -- an opportunity of a lifetime. If confirmed by the Senate as Deputy Secretary of State, I look forward to supporting Secretary Rice in carrying out your foreign policy goals. I particularly welcome the opportunity to help her provide leadership to the thousands of Americans and foreign nationals who work in the Department of State here in the United States, and in the more than 270 embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions the Department maintains overseas.
Whether in Baghdad, Kabul, Kosovo, or elsewhere, these dedicated professionals are on the front line of advancing America's commitment to freedom. It will be a great privilege for me to come home to the Department where I began my career and rejoin a community of colleagues whose work is so important and of whom the nation is so justly proud.
Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Good job. Thank you. Michael.
VICE ADMIRAL McCONNELL: Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Secretary Rice, Ambassador. Thank you very much, sir, for your kind remarks and your vote of confidence in asking me to become your second Director of National Intelligence. If confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to serving you, Mr. President, the nation's senior leadership and all the great men and women of our national security and homeland security communities.
I understand these people rely on timely and useful intelligence every day. After spending most of my adult life in the intelligence community, focused on getting the right information to the right decision-maker in the right time and format, I'm excited about returning.
Fortunately, my work over the past 10 years after leaving government has allowed me to stay focused on the national security and intelligence communities as a strategist and as a consultant. Therefore, in many respects, I never left. I have followed the issues and the initiatives, and I hope to be quickly and directly relevant to build on the many accomplishments of Ambassador Negroponte and his team.
Unlike just a decade ago, the threats of today and the future are moving at increasing speeds and across organizational and geographic boundaries. This will require increased coordinated responsiveness by our community of intelligence professionals. I plan to continue the strong emphasis on integration of the community to better serve all of our customers. That will mean better sharing of information, increased focus on customer needs and service, improved security processes, and deeper penetration of our targets to provide the needed information for tactical, operational and strategic decision-making.
Public service has always been my passion. I look forward to serving this great nation as we continue to fight on the global war on terrorism and to face the many new challenges of the new century.
I want to thank my wife, Terry, and my wonderful family and our grandchildren for their support as I take on these new challenges.
Thank you again, Mr. President. All the best, Mr. Ambassador, for your new leadership role at the Department of State.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all.
Posted: Jan 5 2007, 11:50 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 5, 2007
Memorandum for the Secretary of Health and Human Services
SUBJECT: Assignment of Functions Regarding the Citizens Health Care Working Group
By virtue of authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States, including section 301 of title 3 of the United States Code, the functions of the President under section 1014(o)(1) of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-173) are assigned to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
GEORGE W. BUSH
Posted: Jan 6 2007, 12:25 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Earlier this week, the newly elected members of the House and the Senate took their oaths of office and became part of the 110th Congress. I congratulate them all, and I look forward to working with them over the next two years.
Since the November elections, I've had a number of productive meetings with the new leaders in Congress, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. I was encouraged by our discussions, and I'm confident that we can find common ground in our efforts to serve our fellow citizens and to move our country forward.
One area where we are already finding agreement is in our effort to spend the people's money wisely. This week, I announced that I will submit a five-year budget proposal that will balance the federal budget by 2012, while making the tax relief we passed permanent. Some Democrats have indicated that balancing the budget is a top priority for them as well. By holding the line on spending and continuing our pro-growth policies, we can balance the budget and address the most urgent needs of our Nation, which are winning the war on terror and maintaining a strong national defense, keeping our economy growing, and creating jobs.
We also see bipartisan agreement emerging on reforming the earmark process in Congress. Earmarks are spending provisions that are often slipped into bills at the last minute -- so they rarely get debated or discussed. Many earmarks divert precious funds away from vital priorities like national defense and education to wasteful pork-barrel projects. I appreciate Democratic leaders who have pledged to maintain our current levels of spending without additional earmarks this year. And I support the temporary moratorium on all new earmarks announced by the Democrats.
This is a good start, but I believe we can do more. This week, I proposed my own earmark reforms, which would make the earmark process more transparent, end the practice of concealing earmarks in so-called report language never included in legislation, and cut the number and costs of earmarks by at least half. These common-sense reforms will help prevent billions of taxpayers' dollars from being spent on unnecessary earmarks.
Another area where Democrats and Republicans can work together is in the effort to improve our schools. We have done so before. In my first year as President, Democrats and Republicans saw that our schools were failing too many students, so we worked together to pass the No Child Left Behind Act. This good law gave our schools new resources -- and in return, we asked them to show results. By setting high standards and measuring student progress, we're holding schools accountable for teaching every student to read, write, add, and subtract.
Since No Child Left Behind was passed, we have seen major improvements in student achievement all across America. In reading, nine-year-olds have made larger gains in the last five years of the test than in the previous 28 years. In math, nine-year-olds and 13-year-olds earned the highest scores in the history of the test. And in both reading and math, African-American and Hispanic students are scoring higher and starting to close the achievement gap.
This year the No Child Left Behind Act is up for reauthorization. I'm confident that both parties can work together to help our Nation's students. By reauthorizing this important legislation, we can help make our schools a gateway to opportunity for every child.
With this new Congress and new year, Democrats and Republicans will have many opportunities to serve the American people. We must rise to meet those opportunities and build a stronger and more compassionate Nation for generations to come.
Thank you for listening.
Posted: Jan 6 2007, 12:27 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 6, 2007
Statement by the Press Secretary
On Friday, January 5, 2007, the President made additional disaster assistance available to the State of Florida by authorizing an increase in the level of Federal funding for Public Assistance projects undertaken as a result of Hurricane Wilma.
Under the President's major disaster declaration issued for the State of Florida on October 24, 2005, for Hurricane Wilma, Federal funding was made available to State and local governments in multiple counties for debris removal and emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, at 75 percent Federal funding. For a period of up to 72 hours, assistance for debris removal and emergency protective, including direct Federal assistance was provided at 100 percent of the total eligible costs.
Under the President's order, the Federal share for Public Assistance, including direct Federal assistance, has been increased to 90 percent of the total eligible costs, except for assistance previously approved at 100 percent Federal funding.
The increase to 90 percent Federal share is retroactive to the date of the President's major disaster declaration for the State of Florida.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: FEMA (202) 646-4600.
Posted: Jan 8 2007, 02:43 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 8, 2007
President George W. Bush today announced his intention to nominate two people to serve in his Administration.
The President intends to nominate Zalmay Khalilzad, of Maryland, to be Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations with the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, the Representative of the United States of America in the Security Council of the United Nations, and Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations during his tenure of service as Representative of the United States to the United Nations. Ambassador Khalilzad currently serves as United States Ambassador to Iraq. Prior to this, he served as United States Ambassador to Afghanistan. Earlier in his career, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Islamic Outreach and Southwest Asia Initiatives at the National Security Council. Ambassador Khalilzad received his bachelor's degree and master's degree from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon and his PhD from the University of Chicago.
The President intends to nominate Ryan C. Crocker, of Washington, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Iraq. Ambassador Crocker, a career member of the Foreign Service, currently serves as United States Ambassador to Pakistan. Prior to this, he served as the International Affairs Advisor at the National War College. Earlier in his career, he served as the Director of Governance for the Coalition Provisional Authority. Ambassador Crocker received his bachelor's degree and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Whitman College.
Posted: Jan 8 2007, 04:09 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
MR. SNOW: Welcome. A few notes before I take questions. The President today spoke with Nicaraguan President Enrique Bola os to thank him for his service to his country. He later spoke with President-elect Daniel Ortega, to congratulate him on his election victory, to express America's strong commitment to the well being of the Nicaraguan people and our continuing interest in a relationship with Nicaragua, noting such ongoing areas of concern as CAFTA and the Millennium Challenge Account. The President also noted that reconciliation, unity, democracy and job creation -- the centerpieces of President-elect Ortega's platform -- are also possible areas for cooperation.
Also the President has been meeting and continues to meet right now -- well, they may be out by now -- with Jos Barroso of the European Union. In a meeting in the Oval Office, they covered areas of economic cooperation, trade, the Doha round, global warming; they talked about Middle Eastern peace, and also regional issues -- larger regional issues, energy cooperation -- that pretty much does it. Darfur, they actually said that they would take up at the beginning of lunch. They were hoping to do it during the Oval Office session, but they, after a very brief conversation, were going to follow up, all expressing their desire to continue to focus international attention on the ongoing genocide there.
Scheduling announcement: The President will travel to Fort Benning, Georgia, on Thursday. He'll visit with troops and make a statement to the press. We'll give you more details as they become available.
With that, I'll take questions. Terry.
Q With the President's speech set for Wednesday night, is it fair to say that he's settled on all the details now?
MR. SNOW: Not all the details, but very close to wrapping them up.
Q I take it that the major decisions have been made. Is what's generally been out there, the 20,000 troops, just a --
MR. SNOW: As I said, you'll have to wait. I'm not at liberty up here to make comments on news reports about it. As we've explained before, as matters of courtesy to members of Congress and others who are involved and being notified, they will be notified before we'll be making any public announcements.
Q When will that be?
MR. SNOW: I don't know precisely when the notifications will start, but not in today's news cycle.
Q Tony, if you take the Reid-Pelosi letter as any indication, it would appear as though the President and the congressional leadership are on a collision course.
MR. SNOW: I'm not so sure. I think you're going to have to wait and see, Jim, how members of Congress react. I can tell you, for instance --
Q I mean, how else could you read that letter?
MR. SNOW: Again, you've got the -- one of the other things that they talk about is their desire to make sure that the people of Iraq succeed. And they want to have Iraq succeed as a country, they want to support American troops.
I think what will happen is that when the President's plan becomes known in detail, then people will be able to talk sensibly about the details and about how the pieces fit together. At this point, I think -- and Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi will have their opportunities to express what they think is necessary for success in Iraq and how they define success. They'll have their opportunity to talk about how they support troops and what they think the troops need. So all of that will be part of the debate.
But the President continues to reach out. A number of members of Congress on both sides said they want to take a good, hard look at it, as they should, and as we invite them to do. A number have expressed support for the determination to go ahead and make sure that we've got an Iraqi democracy that stands on its own.
Q What are you expecting the American people to hear on Wednesday that will change the mind of the majority of American people who don't want to see an open-ended escalation of troops?
MR. SNOW: Well, again, Jim, any sensible answer to that would require my discussing details that I can't give you right now.
Q Is he confident they will?
MR. SNOW: Look, I think what you do -- when you talk about something as tough and important as a war, it is important to take a good look at what the President is proposing, how it fits together, how it meets our national aims and objectives, and how it's going to make us safer. And those are all issues that the President is going to address, and I think at that point you can have a debate about something far more than hypotheticals that are being brooded about, some of which are on target, and some of which aren't.
And I think, therefore, as frustrating as it is, my caution is wait until you see the whole package and then the debate will begin. And, also, at that point, people who are opposed to it are going to be able to give a lot more focused critique in terms of what they like and don't like, and I think at that point I can give you a lot better answer, frankly, than to give you a generic answer.
Q Tony, does the President believe that up until now the policy of what to do with our troops -- their posture, how to deploy them -- has been a failure?
MR. SNOW: No, but it is clear that -- you need to take a look at different phases. Early on, we had what Tommy Franks described as catastrophic victory, sweeping, swift victory in the early combat phases. There was an expectation a year ago, and I think a lot of people in this room probably felt and shared it after the elections, that there might be a possibility of drawing down troops at this juncture.
But the sectarian violence was something that al Qaeda had sought to foment and succeeded in so doing, and they did it at a time when the Iraqi government, itself, had not yet had an opportunity to stand up -- there was a transitional period of four months there where you didn't have the government of Prime Minister Maliki, and then time for that government to form. There were two plans to secure Baghdad that didn't achieve the desired results.
I think what you can say is that what's happened in the wake of sectarian violence clearly did not fully anticipate the way in which that problem would arise and manifest itself, and the plans in Baghdad did not succeed. And, therefore, you need to take a look not merely at the critical issue of Baghdad, but the larger issue of who handles security, what's the best way to deal with it, and how you deal with the other pieces that are absolutely vital to any successful democracy in Iraq, which include building the economy, having political institutions that people trust, having law enforcement institutions that are going to enforce the law fairly with everybody. And all of those considerations have to be taken in mind.
Q At this stage -- you don't want to get into the details of the policy, so I won't press you on that -- but at this stage, the President's previous commanders on the ground who were just replaced said publicly they didn't think additional troops would help. Leaders of Congress who are Democrats don't think additional troops will help. A number of Republicans feel that way -- and there are some who don't, like McCain and Graham and others who support a troop surge. When you look at public opinion, you know where that stands.
The President is isolated in terms of the Iraqi policy and he seems to be among the few who thinks that this step, or any step can actually result in victory. I'm wondering where his mind-set is, how he arrived at this point in doing something that remains quite unpopular?
MR. SNOW: Again, I'm going to be able to give you a lot better answer -- I would warn against the theme that the President is isolated, or even -- if you go back, for instance, and you look at John Abizaid's testimony in December, saying, well, properly done, yes, we could use more troops. I mean, there have been a number of different characterizations by members of the military.
I think what you have to do is to take a look at the whole package and how it fits together, because I think Americans are concerned -- they want to know questions that are often asked: What does it mean -- what is your military objective, precisely what is it? How do the Iraqis fit in? How does the international community fit in? How does it fit in with the war on terror?
So a lot of those key questions I think are worth laying out for the American people. And, furthermore, even within the speech to the nation, there are going to be a lot of details that you're going to be interested in that we're not going to have time -- we're going to spend a lot of time, whatever time you need briefing you on background on that, as well.
I think a full, informed debate allows people to get a sense of what's going on in Iraq and all the various forces that are at play, and how we think one needs to address them. It's going to be useful, and it's worth having a very thoughtful debate about the details and about how the President plans to move forward.
Q I guess the challenge would be who besides the President thinks that the war is winnable at this stage?
MR. SNOW: I think millions of Americans believe that this war is winnable, and I think, furthermore, that it's important to rebuild the sense of political unity. One of the things the President has often said is, the only way we lose if we lose our will. And it is clear that there have been political debates in this country.
And it's also interesting because, again, I've heard a lot of Democrats saying, we want to succeed in Iraq. And, therefore, the question for them is, that's great, we agree, so let's find out what your ideas are, if you think you've got a different or a better idea; let's find out how you'll support the military in this endeavor. That's worth doing. And, frankly, done the right way will reassure the American people that all of Washington is serious about doing the right thing and doing it in the right way. And so we've got an opportunity here I think of getting thoughtful debate.
Q Tony, can you talk again about the President's confidence in Prime Minister Maliki? He has said before about hitting these benchmarks -- back in October -- it didn't happen. He said that there was going to be security in Baghdad; the battalions didn't show up. What has changed over the past few months? And where does the President stand today --
MR. SNOW: The President has confidence in Prime Minister Maliki and also knows that there are very clear things that need to be done. Speaking of some of the benchmarks -- I won't get into a lot of detail, but if you're talking about -- political benchmarks have been mentioned. For instance, the oil law, it looks like that there will be before the council of representatives a vote pretty soon on the oil law. Similarly, on constitutional reforms and a political reconciliation, including things that have to do with modifying the de-Baathification laws. All those are important steps. And Prime Minister Maliki, himself, has reiterated the importance of doing benchmarks.
So I'm not going to get into whether there are or aren't -- later in the week we'll have an opportunity to talk a lot more precisely about these things.
Q All right, Wednesday night, will that include a request for funding?
MR. SNOW: At this point, there will be some discussion of what the President thinks we need to do, in terms of going forward. A lot of the details will be coming out in subsequent days, but I'll leave it vague like that.
Q Tony, is the President going to discuss how we get out of Iraq?
MR. SNOW: Well, let me put it this way: If you take a look -- ultimately, the goal is to have an Iraq that does, in fact, stand up for itself and assumes full responsibility for security for the economy, for the legal system, and so on. And at that point, an American presence would be superfluous, at least other than in an advisory capacity. That's where you want to end up.
Q But will he define when we know that and how you --
MR. SNOW: Well, I think I'll --
Q I mean, one of the things in the old plan is you stand up troops -- you stand up Iraqi troops, you stand down. That seemed like you had benchmarks on when you can get out, even though it didn't work. Will there be benchmarks on how the U.S. gets out of there?
MR. SNOW: As I said, I am going to remain vague on this until the President has done his announcement, and then we can go in and you can take a look and ask precise questions about precisely what he will propose.
Q One of the things that Nancy Pelosi has been saying over the weekend, and others, is that this is expanding the mission. You've said part of the problem with the Baghdad plan was there weren't enough troops -- so we can assume beyond a hypothetical that you're probably going to want more troops if you want it to succeed, because you've said, there weren't enough. Do you agree --
MR. SNOW: U.S. troops and Iraqi troops.
Q Do you agree -- but I think the other day you said U.S. and Iraqi. Do you agree with her idea that this would expand the mission? Do you have plans to expand the mission?
MR. SNOW: I think, Martha, again, we're talking into a vacuum here, trying to trade characterizations of the plan. Wait until the plan comes out, and then I'll be happy to deal with that characterization or any others, and be able to do it in a way that provides the level of detail that could make that a useful answer for people who want to know.
Q One of the things that goes back and forth -- and the Democrats say they want success in Iraq. The President says he wants victory in Iraq. That's probably the hardest thing to get your hands around here --
MR. SNOW: We've made it clear that when you talk about victory, what you talk about is Iraq being able to assume full responsibility and full control of its democratic destiny. There are likely to be challenges even after that point where insurgents may challenge the government or where you have acts of sectarian violence, but --
Q But we may not be there?
MR. SNOW: -- they will have the ability to deal with their internal problems, and that is the kind of situation -- when you have a democracy that is able to deal independently with those issues, then you've got success, victory, however you may define it. Now, perhaps others have a different definition. But the point is, if you get a democratic Iraq that is bound together by national interests, national identity, that is enjoying economic growth and political liberty -- that sends a powerful message to terrorists.
And if you take a look, geographically you've got -- there is Iraq, right between Iran and Syria, two of the key players in the terror wars. And for an Iraqi democracy to succeed in the region -- despite opposition from the outside, despite attempts to foment sectarian violence on the inside -- sends a powerful message to terrorists, which is, despite your best efforts, it's not going to happen. And it also sends an equally powerful message to people throughout the region -- in Afghanistan, in Lebanon, in the Palestinian areas, in a number of Arab states that are beginning to expand the franchise -- that, in fact, democracy is something that can work in the region.
And so make no mistake, success in Iraq, not only is it vital to our security for reasons that we've talked about many times, but it also has the chance really to send a definitive refutation to those who believe that it is their destiny to foment terror in the world.
Q But the President will use the word "victory"?
MR. SNOW: Well, again, everybody keeps trying to get --
Q But he still wants victory?
MR. SNOW: Everybody keeps trying to get me --
Q Is that something he still strives for, victory or success?
MR. SNOW: -- discuss --
Q But, Tony, you are calling it "the way forward." That is what the White House is calling it.
MR. SNOW: Yes, that is correct.
Q But, I mean, isn't it true that there are limitations as to what the United States can do in Iraq, that much of this rests on the shoulders of the Maliki government and others within the Maliki government?
MR. SNOW: True.
Q So how can the White House say with certainty that what the President will unveil is, in fact, the way forward for Iraq?
MR. SNOW: Well, what the President is going to do is to unveil -- what you're asking is, does the President have a crystal ball that will project with absolute clarity what's going to happen in the future. Of course not. And what happens with any plan is that you do have to make adjustments when the other side adjusts.
But on the other hand, he will talk about ways of addressing these concerns that reflect a lot of serious thought on the part of a lot of people in the region and outside -- you know, we've done consultations with Congress, with members of the military, with foreign heads of state, with the Iraqi government, with leaders throughout Iraq, with scholars, with people who agree and disagree. There has been a lot of time and effort put in to trying to figure out how do you try to set the conditions that are going to enable you to move forward so that you have an Iraq that can stand up on its own.
So I know, Elaine, that's a very general answer, but on the other hand, the details are forthcoming and you can try to fill in the blanks a little later.
Q Can I follow on what Elaine was asking? As the American people listen to the President describe the new way forward, because of all the things that you just outlined, all the conditions and the things that have gone on in the past, does he want them to look at these at this point as part of a continuum, that he will keep at it until victory? Or does he appreciate that some of them might listen and say, this doesn't work --
MR. SNOW: Well, again, I think the public opinion and public support is a very important part of this. And it is not static. So I think what you have to do is to see how people respond not merely to the speech, but to the particulars of the plan, to the political debate that follows. And, you know, this is going to be fairly complex and it's going to take people a little bit of time to think through. And we will spend a lot of time talking about it, because it's important to do so.
Obviously, I mentioned before, the President has made it clear on a number of occasions: We lose only if we lose the will. It is important to explain to the American people how this fits in to the overall goal of keeping Americans more secure in a world where we continue to be engaged in a global war on terror.
Q And one other follow-up. Do the Democrats or any of the opponents have the executive authority to stop anything that the President is going to present? In other words, is he going to need to ask Congress to approve something?
MR. SNOW: Well, ultimately, anything you do has budgetary implications. I think there was a question earlier today, are we seeking resolutions, and that sort of thing -- and I want to wave you off of that. What you do have, though, is basically budget is policy. So Congress is going to be engaged in the appropriations and authorization process and, you know, through those, they're going to be debating a lot of things. And so that's sort of par for the course.
Q But in terms of anything out of the Pentagon -- the troops, deployment, any of the programs we initiate - the President, alone, has the authority to --
MR. SNOW: You know what, I don't want to play junior constitutional lawyer on this, so let's wait until we see what happens, if you have specific questions about constitutional authority. But, you know, Congress has the power of the purse. The President has the ability to exercise his own authority if he thinks Congress has voted the wrong way.
Let me just say that the early sessions that I've seen have been conducted, as I noted the other day, in a spirit of real respect and they've been constructive. So I know it's tempting to think, boy, this is going to set off a big old political firestorm -- and it very well may. But on the other hand, it may actually set off a period of reflection and constructive activity. And that would be a good thing, as well.
So I will continue to sort of dance around details until they become available. And then it's going to be a whole lot easier -- my guess is the press briefings will be a whole lot longer as we go through these things, and I'll be able to give you a much better answer.
Q From all the reports of drawdown that we had many months ago, were they phony? And, also, aren't we trying to now inject 20,000 more troops in a sectarian war? What is this all about? And does the President want to leave this war to another President?
MR. SNOW: Okay, several items. Number one, as I've said to everybody else, can't help you on details -- including your assertion of how many troops might be brought in.
Number two, when it came to troop levels last year, I can remember, even in my early days here, cautioning people against stories of buildup and drawdown. Remember there were stories that, you know, "Is it going to be 90,000 by the end of the year?" And I said, just everybody calm down, we operate according to conditions on the ground. And conditions still remain pivotal there.
So, you know, pepper me with precise questions after we've gotten the plan out and I'll be happy to take them.
Q Tony, we know that the public and lawmakers are skeptical of whatever the President will propose. You talked about the Fort Benning trip on Thursday. Can you tell us about that trip and about anything else the administration is doing to explain this policy to not only the American people and Congress, but also people around the world?
MR. SNOW: The President has got a pretty good start when he speaks to the nation; the whole world will watch. And beyond that, number one, we will do lots of briefings for members of the press and, certainly, you are very important in informing the American people and the world about what we think and how we think the plan will work.
But, Sheryl, we are obviously going to talk a lot about it. It's a matter of real importance, and it's also something that Congress will not have the ability to deal with overnight, and there's going to be a lot of discussion about it. So am I going to tell you with absolute certainty which events we're going to do and how long? No. But it will be certainly a point of focus, it will continue to be something where the President will explain, and a number of others of us within the administration will do the same.
Q But can you talk a little more about the Fort Benning trip? And, also, will we see perhaps Secretary of State Rice take trips overseas to --
MR. SNOW: Again, let's just -- at Fort Benning we'll get you details. But he will certainly meet with troops, he'll make some comments, and we'll get more details as we get a little closer. As far as Secretary Rice's schedule, we'll let whatever announcements be made when they're appropriate.
Q Any domestic trips beyond Fort Benning in the next week or so?
MR. SNOW: I don't know. Certainly this week that's it.
Q Tony, two quick questions. One, can you confirm about ambassadorial changes the President made this morning, the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan --
MR. SNOW: Well, obviously, they're both nominated, and now we hope for speedy confirmation.
Q And Ambassador from Iraq, will he become ambassador to the U.N.?
MR. SNOW: That's correct.
Q Do you know if President is happy with the ambassador, because he was ambassador to Afghanistan, he was a great ambassador to Afghanistan, and now he was in Iraq. So why this change, as far as ambassador is concerned?
MR. SNOW: Well, a couple of things. If you take a look, the ambassadors have been staying in Iraq about a year. That's been more or less normal, and Zal actually stayed on. Secondly, he wouldn't be nominating him to become our permanent representative to the United Nations if he didn't think he was first class. Ryan Crocker also is a guy of extraordinary ability, and therefore we look forward to having him in Baghdad.
Q Last week you said you wanted to --- the President wanted to change the commanders before this new way forward started. Can we expect any other major changes in the national security team coming soon?
MR. SNOW: Not that I'm aware of, no.
Q Having now formally put the two nominations in for the ambassador changes at the U.N. and in Iraq, now the national security team responsible for Iraq obviously has changed over fairly significantly. The one place where there hasn't been a change -- not a U.S. change to make -- but is the Maliki government, and that government remains intact, or Mr. Maliki remains at the helm of it. The types of things that you have spoken in the past about wanting to see that government do, it has singularly failed to do, and sectarian tensions have not decreased, the Saddam hanging has certainly increased them --
MR. SNOW: I'm not sure the facts on the ground support that. There have been a lot of reports about -- I would caution you -- maybe you've got different data sets than we've seen; it stimulated certainly a lot of attention internationally. It is not clear that it has been a major contributor to sectarian activity within Iraq. But I think your general drift is you have sectarian violence -- so complete the question.
Q My gist is this: Can you point to any single, specific thing, other than good intentions, that Maliki has done?
MR. SNOW: Well, take a look at a number of things. Yes, among other things, in a country that has not had an elected democracy you've had a Prime Minister who's been able to stand up a government that involves people from every major sectarian group. He has worked forward on the Iraq Compact. If you take a look at the economic growth numbers, they're pretty impressive. If you take a look at the generation of oil and oil pumping, that has produced a source of revenue. If you take a look at the fact that in at least 14 of the provinces you have peace and growing prosperity and a sense of security.
You also have the fact that the Prime Minister, over the weekend, gave a speech where he talked very directly about the challenges. He has no delusions about the challenges, and said that it's going to be incumbent upon his government to go after those who are creating violence. He has talked about the hydrocarbon law, that which will share oil and natural gas revenues. Everybody agrees that's important; he's committed to it. He talks about constitutional reform. Everybody agrees that's important; he's committed to it.
There are a number of things also on the legislative calendar where it's a legislative system, and people are taking times off and he continues to push for them.
Q These are things, particularly on the security front, that he has said before, almost verbatim, exact same language. And when it came -- when push came to shove, the action on the ground did not correspond to the language.
MR. SNOW: Well, again, I think what you may want to do is ask me that question Thursday.
Q Tony, this thing has been in the works for months now, this change in strategy, and there have been a lot of personnel changes. Can the public, watching and listening and reading about this on Wednesday night, expect that this is going to be the last big change in strategy that the President is going to make in his final two years?
MR. SNOW: I don't know; ask me in four years -- or maybe two years. What you're asking is -- you're asking a look-back question, rather than a look-forward question --
Q No, I'm asking you a look-forward question.
MR. SNOW: Well, but a look-forward question is the President believes it's important to address the situation in Iraq in a manner that he thinks is going to be effective, that's going to make this country, our country, more secure in the war on terror, by addressing violence and uncertainty in the central front in the war on terror. Make no mistake, Iraq is it. Therefore, rather than saying, well, this is the last big speech -- this is the President's proposal for moving forward in a way that he believes is going to be conducive to producing the results.
Now, you've got to keep in mind, when you have changing conditions -- and this is the one thing that has been very clear -- you've got to find ways to respond nimbly. But also what you have to do constantly is build greater capacity on the part of the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people. We've talked about this -- and furthermore, one of the other things that's been going on is increasingly moving Iraqi units into leadership positions.
What you ultimately want to see, Peter, is that growing capacity within the Iraqi government, the military forces, the police forces, to deal with this stuff. So all I can tell you is that the President is going to be talking about a way forward that can help address the concerns about sectarian violence, developments within the country, the need for economic growth, political reconciliation, national security, Iraqi responsibility.
Q You never answered Helen's third question there, will this be with the President through the end of his administration? Is he going to leave this for the next person?
MR. SNOW: Well, again, that's a look-back question -- if this could be over tomorrow, we would devoutly wish that were possible.
Q It's looking forward.
MR. SNOW: No, it's -- it is looking forward, but, Peter, I'm afraid I just don't have the God's-eye view that would tell me how the situation is going to unfold in months to come. It is certainly our hope that Iraq has that freestanding democracy as soon as possible.
Q Is there something different about the way this plan was put together that makes it more likely to succeed than, say, Don, or Bremer, or the Pentagon, State, Allawi, et cetera -- was it a procedural --
MR. SNOW: Ask me Thursday. I mean, there are a lot of elements here -- again, a lot of the -- I can give you a much better answer when we have it, because I can start laying out for you different ways in which things are done. I can't do it yet. But I'll be able to give you a better answer --
Q You can't say something like you've reached further to more outside experts, or talked to different levels of commanders, or something like that?
MR. SNOW: All of the above and more.
Q Related to Peter's question, in his mind, is this the final stand? In other words, this has to work or the U.S. has to begin a process of disengagement?
MR. SNOW: No, because the question there is one that seems to be token desperation: It's the last chance. What the President understands is there's a real sense of urgency within the United States for assurance that, number one, we have a plan for building an Iraq that is going to enhance our security, that is going to make us safer; number two, that is done in such a way that also is going to put the Iraqis in leading positions sooner rather than later. And, so, I'm afraid he takes a much more practical point of view when working through these issues, not, this is the last chance.
On the other hand, I do want to make it clear, he does understand that it is important to get the public on board and it is important to build as vigorous a bipartisan consensus as possible. And this is something also that members of Congress have to be aware of, because all the world really is watching and it is important to get this right. And, therefore, the President has made it clear in all the meetings: If you guys have got better ideas, let's hear them. This is not something where it's, sort of, lay down the law. The President wants to make sure that we make the best use of people's expertise and creativity and insight so that the complex of proposals fits together in such a way that are going to maximize the chances of success.
Q But there is a level of desperation, isn't there, when a lot of people who have a hand in the policy -- i.e., members of Congress or people within the administration -- think it's over, not just your political critics?
MR. SNOW: You know, it's interesting -- I've heard that used by a very small number of people and, yet, you ask the question, must we -- you asked a couple of questions. Do you think, for instance, al Qaeda has given up on trying to do major operations in the United States? Do you think failure in Iraq would make al Qaeda more likely to strike the United States? Do you think if al Qaeda or other terror organizations had the opportunity to use Iraq as a launch pad that you'd be safer or less safe? And I think in each case people would say, oh, no, we'd be less safe.
So I think it's important to realize that in the context of the broader war on terror, most people really do agree success -- again, the letter sent by Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid, both said, we want the Iraqi people to succeed.
So I think, David, again, I think what members of Congress want is a good look at what the President has in mind, and there will be consultations over the next couple of days. And I think as members of Congress get an opportunity to review and digest the details, some are going to agree, some are going to disagree -- I mean, that's necessary. But I think if this can be conducted in a spirit of getting it done right, I think it would be constructive for all concerned.
Q The President, obviously, though, did not read what happened November 7th as a mandate to start bringing troops home.
MR. SNOW: The President believes that -- if you take a look, Jim, at the elections, you can read any number of messages -- I mean, when people were asked in exit interviews what was their top concern, Iraq was number four, corruption was number one. And guess what? You had 10 members of the Republican caucus who had problems, and they all lost. So you can read a lot of results. There is an understandable -- people don't want to be at war; we don't want to be at war, the President doesn't want to be at war. But the fact is you've got a situation where terrorists and a terror network is determined to try to do whatever it can to destabilize this country and other parts of the world --
Q But the President is comfortable, then, with saying to the American people, I saw what happened November 7th -- actually, you're upset about corruption?
MR. SNOW: No, I think, Jim, people would be a lot less upset if he didn't take seriously his obligations as Commander-in-Chief.
Q Is the focus on this war and the cost of this war drowning out the domestic agenda and your ability to pursue both --
MR. SNOW: Boy, I hope not. No, I certainly hope not. We don't think it is. By golly, we have domestic agenda meetings in house today, as a matter of fact.
No, the President has a vigorous domestic agenda and, obviously, Democrats have some ideas -- you've got the 100-hour clock, I believe, begins to tick tomorrow. So --
Q I believe they delayed that, didn't they, because they didn't want it overshadowed by the speech.
MR. SNOW: They delayed it again? Really? So it doesn't start tomorrow? I didn't know that. I thought it started tomorrow. I could be wrong. Okay, we'll see. Well, in any event, whenever that 100-hour clock starts ticking, you know, you're going to have people beginning to consider a lot of matters.
But, Paula, the question is whether people in this room will ask domestic policy questions. You quite frequently do.
Q May I ask one more?
MR. SNOW: Yes, absolutely.
Q Okay. The Democrats have made one of their agenda items control of the alternative minimum tax. The administration's position on this issue is that, yes, they want to address it, but in the context of tax reform. The administration is not taking up that reform this year, correct?
MR. SNOW: Well, I believe there's also a State of the Union -- when one tries to wheedle from me details that have not yet been made public, I'm afraid I can't play on it. But it's clear that the alternative minimum tax is something that has become a matter of concern. It was put in years ago, you may recall, to "soak to rich." Well, it's soaking everybody who's working. So that is one of those -- when one tries to play class warfare, sooner or later it touches upon every class.
Q At his year-end news conference, the President again did not choose to bring that up. He brought up Social Security reform and directed the Treasury Secretary, in fact, to look at that. And the tax reform recommendations are still sitting in Treasury and it's been over a year.
MR. SNOW: Well, Paula, the fact that the President at a news conference does not mention every item in a budget that goes hundreds of pages probably should not be surprising. We spend a lot of time talking about things, about AMT.
Q Will Wednesday's speech include a recitation or a characterization of the consequences of anything less than victory in Iraq?
MR. SNOW: We'll see. We're still working through the drafts.
Q Does the President have concerns that Americans don't share his concerns or visions of what might happen?
MR. SNOW: No, I don't think so, but I think it's always important -- it is, I think, important from time to time for the President to share a little bit of what he sees and how he thinks about it, because, fortunately, Americans have not been confronted since September 11, 2001, with direct evidence that terrorists are trying to kill us. There was a scare of -- but it's there, isn't it? It's part background radiation. Over the weekend you had something happen at the Port of Miami; today you had gas, which I gather, according to the Mayor, may be passing. (Laughter.) That was his term.
But what was people's first reaction? Gas in New York, is it terror? Whenever you get a big or unusual event in Washington, D.C., or around the country, people think, is it an act of terror? So there is an understanding in the hearts and minds of many Americans that terror is a threat that has not manifested itself on our shores, but about which we ought to be vigilant. And so as a result there is -- I think there's a recognition that this is a serious issue and it's worth having the President describe the way in which he comes to these conclusions.
Q Tony, two things, one on Darfur and the other one on the embryonic stem cell issue. Darfur -- when Secretary of State Colin Powell -- then Secretary of State Colin Powell was in office, he called Darfur genocide; the President followed. Years later -- today, President Bush is now saying, outrageous. What comes next? Is military action against the Sudanese government imminent, or what?
MR. SNOW: Well, again, the United States has been trying to work diplomatically through the African Union and also through the United Nations Security Council on this. It has also been talking about trying to come up with forces to help secure the situation. And it is important to get allies in the region and around the world to work with us to come up with an effective way of putting an end to the genocide.
I am not going to make announcements about changes in policy, should they be in the offing, but you'll hear about them if and when they come to pass.
Q But when you turn up the wording and he's saying it's outrageous -- I mean, what's next? What's beyond that?
MR. SNOW: Well, we hope that delivery for the people of Darfur is next.
Q Also, on embryonic stem cell, you said this morning that this administration found out about it over the weekend, and you're looking at it. Some are saying that now that it is not as safe as some would say, because, for instance, women who have amniocentesis, it is a threat -- that a viable pregnancy could be terminated because of that. Is that one of the options as to why you're not supporting it as of yet?
MR. SNOW: No. As you know, amniocentesis -- I mean, we went through it a number of times in our household; not I, of course -- is an elective procedure. Just because you find that there is -- that amniotic stem cells have some medical potential doesn't mean that you run around and say, okay, everybody pony up your amniotic fluid. I mean, it doesn't work that way.
So there will always be concerns. But, obviously, there is a difference between using amniotic stem cells that do not, by design, involve the destruction of a human life, and embryonic stem cell research which does.
Q Tony, thank you. Two questions. The London Times reports in detail how Israel is planning to bomb Iranian nuclear arms facilities, and I wondered --
MR. SNOW: Yes, where did they get that detail? What sources did it mention?
Q They just said "sources." And I just wondered if the White House believes this is accurate, and if so, we will support our allies --
MR. SNOW: I just -- come on, give me a serious question. Let's try number two.
Q Okay, WorldNetDaily has asked me to ask you this question, but The New York Times -- well, if you don't think The London Times is serious -- but The New York Times reports that General John Shalikashvili --
MR. SNOW: Shalikashvili.
Q -- Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Clinton, has called for our armed forces to accept self-announced homosexuals and lesbians, and I just wanted to know, does the Commander-in-Chief agree with this or not?
MR. SNOW: The Commander-in-Chief's position is clear on it.
Q In the Iraq proposal, you seem to be suggesting that everything the President is going to propose on Wednesday night needs congressional --
MR. SNOW: No, no, no, I'm just saying in this obvious sense, anything this government does requires somebody to look at a budget, then they approve a budget. I'm just going -- that's the simple point I'm trying to make.
Q Including troop --
MR. SNOW: Well, I mean, including whatever. I just -- I don't want to get into --
Q And are you going to brief on Thursday, even though the President is traveling?
MR. SNOW: I think what we may end up trying to do is, there will be some people in traveling parties. Stick with us. We're going to try to come up -- I think I'm going to stay behind, because there still is a lot of follow-on briefing that needs to be done. It will not be this kind of a briefing, but we're going to find ways to get reporters in touch with folks who can continue to do follow-on from Wednesday night's speech.
Q Tony, you said before that the President believes that Prime Minister Maliki doesn't need any benchmarks imposed on him, and that he can meet his objectives by himself. Does the President still believe that way?
MR. SNOW: As I said, we think it's important for -- why don't we talk Thursday, we can go through all this. It's another one of those things that requires a thorough answer, the level of detail that you'll get Wednesday night.
Posted: Jan 9 2007, 02:31 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 9, 2007
Statement by the President
I have selected Fred Fielding to serve as Counsel to the President. Fred's exemplary legal career has equipped him with the judgment and expertise necessary to serve in this important position. Fred's distinguished record of public service, including five years as President Reagan's Counsel, makes him uniquely qualified for this position. He served with distinction on the 9/11 Commission, is a senior partner at a leading law firm, and he has earned a strong reputation for integrity. Fred is one of the most well-respected and accomplished lawyers in our Nation, and I look forward to benefiting from his wise counsel. I am pleased that he will once again take up public service in the White House.
Fred is replacing my long-time adviser and good friend, Harriet Miers. Harriet has served as a key member of my team for the last six years, as Counsel, Deputy Chief of Staff, and Staff Secretary. I have greatly valued her sound judgment. Throughout her career, she has devoted herself to the rule of law and the cause of justice, earning a reputation as a talented lawyer dedicated to excellence. Harriet possesses a tireless work ethic and a strong commitment to serving others. Laura and I are deeply grateful for Harriet's dedication and for her friendship. We wish her the very best in the next chapter of her life.
Posted: Jan 9 2007, 02:32 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 9, 2007
Memorandum for the Secretary of the Interior
SUBJECT: Modification of the June 12, 1998, Withdrawal of Certain Areas of the United States Outer Continental Shelf from Leasing Disposition
Under the authority vested in me as President of the United States, including section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. 1341(a), I hereby modify the first sentence of the withdrawal of June 12, 1998, of certain areas of the United States Outer Continental Shelf from leasing disposition to read as follows:
Under the authority granted in section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. 1341(a), I hereby withdraw from disposition by leasing through June 30, 2012, (1) those areas under moratoria pursuant to sections 104 and 106 of Public Law 109-54, and (2) those areas under moratoria pursuant to section 105 of Public Law 109 54, excluding that portion of the Central Gulf of Mexico planning area defined as the "181 South Area" in section 102(2) of title I ("Gulf of Mexico Energy Security") in Division C of Public Law 109 432, the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006.
GEORGE W. BUSH
Posted: Jan 9 2007, 03:15 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
MR. SNOW: Good afternoon. A couple notes, and then I'll be happy to take questions. The President's schedule today: Normal morning briefings; he's consulting with members of Congress, and continuing to work on the speech for tomorrow night. That is the schedule.
Also, the President has selected Fred Fielding to serve as Counsel to the President, replacing Harriet Miers. We have a statement out to that effect. Rather than my reading it out, you can read the statement.
Let's see what else we have. The Domestic Policy Council later today is going to release a report that highlights some new alternative research studies that advance stem cell science without destroying human life; exciting work being done in the area, including an alternative approach to using embryonic stem cells that was reported just this week. The President's policy strikes a balance of supporting funding -- federal funding for research into stem cells, while avoiding federal funding that would encourage the destruction of embryos. And we encourage you to review the report.
And I'll take questions. Terry.
Q Did the President consult with the Hill before the military operation in Somalia?
MR. SNOW: Number one -- let me put it this way: We know that there was a military -- we can confirm that there was a military operation overnight on Sunday in Somalia. We refer you to the Department of Defense for all other details. I don't believe there was a consultation on that. I'm aware of none.
Q Okay. And on Iraq, switching topics, can you say why the -- what the President's rationale is for sending in more troops to Iraq when --
MR. SNOW: I will be happy to talk about rationales and everything else once we have released publicly what the President intends to do.
Q Can you give us an idea of how the President will try to persuade the public that his plan in whatever form we hear tomorrow night is the right course when so many Americans, according to polling, are very concerned about more troops in Iraq?
MR. SNOW: Well, Americans I think are concerned about making sure that we succeed in Iraq, as are members of Congress. What the President is going to do is to talk about the situation in Iraq, how it has evolved, how the challenges have evolved, and he will also talk about the importance of developing capacity so that the Iraqis have the ability to handle their security needs and will continue to have a democracy that grows and flourishes, protecting the rights of all, creating economic opportunities and the like.
So I think it's important to allow Americans to see not only that, but also how this fits into the broader war on terror. Iraq is the central front in the war on terror. Why is it important? What does it mean? What can success breed? What does failure mean? A lot of those questions I think Americans want to hear answered, and they will be answered in the President's address.
Q Those things we have heard before from the President. Is there something specific now that you will try to do or say or demonstrate that would be more persuasive?
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q Tony, is that all you're going to have on Somalia, as far as pointing us back to the Pentagon and the ongoing operation?
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q You don't have any other details?
MR. SNOW: No.
Q How about how the President found out, et cetera?
MR. SNOW: You know what, stupid me, I forgot to do the process stuff. We'll try to find out.
Q Okay. Let me change gears then. Senator Kennedy today is going to propose legislation denying billions needed to send more troops to the war unless Congress agrees first. This is even before the President lays out his plan. Can you respond preemptively?
MR. SNOW: No, I really can't. I'll take a look -- we'll take a look at it. I'm sure that later in the week we'll have an opportunity to respond more specifically. And I have not -- I haven't looked at it; I don't know if the President has looked at it; I haven't talked to our Leg Affairs people about it. Give us a little time to take a look.
Q What about this overall premise that Democrats and some are considering holding back money to troops --
MR. SNOW: Well, look, Democrats are going to have to make a choice here and they're going to have to decide where they stand in terms of two issues: Number one, do you want Iraq to succeed, and, if so, what does that mean? And, number two, do you believe in supporting the troops as you say, and how do you express that support? Those are questions that will be answered in the process of public debate and also -- and a lot of other considerations. So we'll just have to see how it plays out.
As you've seen, Bret, there is disagreement within both parties about how to proceed. But I think one of the unifying elements can be, when the President does lay out the way forward, it offers an opportunity for everybody to have a full and thoughtful debate about this. Right now many of the debates continue to be conducted in a vacuum -- anticipation that the President is going to say something. And it makes more sense to wait until the President lays out not only military, but also diplomatic, economic, and other actions that he intends to take, and to put them in the broader context of the war on terror and also the context of the security of Americans right here on our own soil.
Q Last one for me. Yesterday you hinted that the President is going to essentially lay out specifics of why Iraq is important to the U.S. as far as our safety. Is that accurate?
MR. SNOW: Well, specifics -- no, we've often described what happens if you have a failed state in Iraq, and we'll continue to make the point, which is, if you've got a failed state in Iraq -- let's draw the image for the American people again -- got Iraq; on one side to its east is Iran, to the west is Syria, two primary terror states who have made it clear that they're going to go after democracies throughout the region. That would include Lebanon, that would include the Palestinian areas. They're trying to send a message that democracy cannot succeed in that part of the world. They're trying to intimidate their neighbors.
If you have an Iraq, with the world's second largest oil reserves, capable of generating incredible amounts of revenue that terrorists can use both to blackmail the West and also to purchase weapons that can be used against anybody else, that creates a situation that's a direct threat to us. So that's really what I was talking about. There is not going to be sort of a roster of specifics, but it is worth reminding the American people of what the stakes are and how they do fit in to the larger war on terror.
Q Back to Kelly's question. The President, beginning in November of '05, I believe, gave a series of speeches on the strategy for victory in Iraq. The American people didn't seem to buy that, the situation in Iraq went downhill. Do you worry about the President's credibility? And is there anything in this speech, or in this plan, that is really, truly new, or is it trying things that have already been tried before?
MR. SNOW: Martha, I will let you judge it, and I will let you ask questions once we've laid it all out. The President understands, and I think you understand, that a war is not a fixed thing that proceeds along a predetermined or straight path, and as situations change, you must adjust. One of the key changes in Iraq last year was the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samara and the subsequent flaring up of sectarian violence within Iraq. A year ago a lot of people were feeling optimistic, including members of both parties on Capitol Hill, including people within the military, because here you had the prospects -- you had free elections in Iraq, things seemed to be moving along a pretty good path.
So it's interesting, you can pick whichever wedge of time you want, but there has also been some change in public opinion since late 2005, and in early 2006 there was a sense of optimism. But guess what. The terrorists did succeed in unleashing sectarian violence, and now that has created a new set of realities that one must contend with. The President will talk about that.
I'm simply not going to try to give you a general characterization of how it will be received. My sense is that the American people want to hear what the President has to say. And we're going to spend a lot of time talking about it, because it's not a simple, you know, one-bullet-point plan. There's a lot in it, and as a result, we are going to have an opportunity to take a look at each and all of the aspects.
Q On sectarian violence, is that something the United States should have been prepared for? Or, like the insurgency, you can argue that, who knew? Should they have been prepared for sectarian violence, because we had a letter from Zarqawi, who basically laid out his plan to foment sectarian violence?
MR. SNOW: Well, I don't know, Martha. Apparently, people in Iraq were not quite prepared for it either. The fact is, it happened. And whatever backseat generalship one might wish to practice, the fact is we have important business in Iraq with very high stakes, and the focus now is to figure out a way forward that is going to lead to success.
Q Tony, as you said, a public debate will probably ensue here after the President's speech --
MR. SNOW: You think? (Laughter.)
MR. SNOW: Good chance.
Q And so often in debate, obviously, language is very important. To your mind, is there a difference between an increase in troops, an escalation in troops, a surge in troops? Because in the last 24, 48 hours these words have all started to become weighted.
MR. SNOW: It just started to become weighted? I think a lot of times people are going to try to find a one-word characterization that allows them to make a political point without perhaps diving into the details in trying to give a proper --
Q Well, what's the difference between an escalation and a surge?
MR. SNOW: Well, why don't we talk about characterizations once we have a plan?
Q Because I think it's part of a conversation that's going on right now.
MR. SNOW: I understand that, and, guess what -- it's a conversation, as I've said before, that is a bit in a vacuum and I'm not going to get into the business of preemptively characterizing something that we have not released in full detail.
Q But, somehow, "escalation" has become this Democratic word -- the Democratic Party language.
MR. SNOW: Well, ask the guys who do their focus groups. They're going to have an answer for it. Look, the President is talking about a way forward, and rather than getting involved in trying to assess a description of a plan that has yet to be released publicly and, therefore, about which I am not in a position to characterize publicly, it seems a little silly for me to start quibbling about adjectives without discussing what they purportedly describe, don't you think?
Q Well, the President apparently told Gordon Smith and others yesterday that the 20,000 troop increase/surge/escalation is part of the deal. So that's why I'm asking specifically about -- we are going to see some kind of increase.
MR. SNOW: Rather than looking for a one-word handle, look at the policy. And, actually, this is your challenge -- you guys do words for a living; figure out -- rather than trying to ask Democratic or even Republican lawmakers what the proper descriptive term is, you figure it out. I mean, you're going to have an opportunity --
Q I'm trying to, but that's what --
MR. SNOW: Yes, but what you're doing is you're listening to what other people are saying and saying, is that the right one? Well, I can't help you on that.
Q Yes, that's exactly what I'm doing --
MR. SNOW: Can't help you on that one.
Q -- I'm listening to other people describe it, and I'm asking the administration, what's the proper word?
MR. SNOW: I understand. But what we will say is, look at it, then we'll talk.
Q Do you have a problem with the word "escalation"?
MR. SNOW: As I said, look at it, we'll talk.
Q Could you take us behind the scenes a little bit of these meetings that the President is having with the lawmakers? Is he now giving final details of his plan, or is he still listening to advice? Just a little bit of the atmosphere.
MR. SNOW: Well, no, because as we've been saying, these are meetings where the ground rules are, we don't tell who is in them and we don't tell what's going on behind the scenes, but they're free to go out and give whatever characterization they may. The important thing to do is to wait until you've got a chance to see the full thing. Look, there are going to be opportunities for members of Congress, Democratic and Republican, to characterize their conversations with the President. It's a good and healthy thing that they're happening.
And furthermore, the President has made it clear that conversations are going to continue to take place. The address the President is going to give to the nation is not the end of the debate, it is the beginning of an important consideration of how we move forward in Iraq in a way that we send a message to the world that the United States is here to finish the important work of securing liberty, and issuing the definitive refutation of terrorist tactics and strategies. And that is the basis on which I think both parties can fruitfully work together.
Q Can you talk about where the address is at this point? You said the President was looking at preliminary drafts. Is it pretty much done? Is he just --
MR. SNOW: We're getting pretty close.
Q Because he still has consultations going on?
MR. SNOW: There are some, but also just -- now it's the point of going through and looking at language and saying, you know, I want this point, or, let's emphasize this one, or, what about this issue? It is more now at the sort of fine-tuning point. But on the other hand, anybody who has ever done a term paper knows you keep working until the very end. And my guess is that there will continue to be tweaks and practices into tomorrow.
Q Is it fair to say, though, even as he still continues to meet with these lawmakers, his mind is essentially made up?
MR. SNOW: What I would direct you to do -- there are two things. I have noted before that when you're talking about a war, the idea that you have your mind made up, that you have absolute -- this is in stone, this is it -- what you have is a framework for moving forward. And within that framework, there are going to be plenty of opportunities for people to talk and to share their opinions. And the President has made it clear from the very first consultations with Democrats and Republicans that he intends to have more talks. So, to that extent, I think we are going to be open-minded and always looking for good ideas and good, constructive advice.
Q After yesterday's session, and yesterday's were just Republican senators who came, correct?
MR. SNOW: Right.
Q Thad Cochran came out and said, well, I told the President I'd be able to support him, but I was alone, I didn't hear anybody else saying that. Is that an accurate reflection of what happened?
MR. SNOW: You know, as I said, we permit people to come to the sticks and say what they wish. Our ground rules are, we don't talk about it, so I don't talk about it.
Q I'll try and make you talk about it.
MR. SNOW: You'll fail.
Q Is this real consultation, Tony? Senators went in yesterday and came out saying that the President had, effectively, told them what he was going to do, that he was clear about his intentions. Some of these senators had not been in before to talk to the President about his plans for Iraq. So how can you characterize this as consultation?
MR. SNOW: Thank you. As you said, what you're trying to do is to get me to characterize the conversations they've had, and I can't do it, Sheryl.
Q No, I'm asking you to say -- do you believe this is genuine consultation?
MR. SNOW: As I said, Sheryl, it's one of these things that the President has made it clear that he's going to have exchanges of views, but I'm not taking you in the room with them.
(Cell phone rings.) (Laughter.) Does Martha have a hip-hop ring tone? (Laughter.) Play that funky music, white girl. (Laughter.)
Q A nice musical interlude from Martha, but, seriously --can we talk about this issue of consultation? Is the President really soliciting views, and do these lawmakers -- are they having an input into his thinking?
MR. SNOW: Yes, of course. And as I've said before, Sheryl, look, the President still has to make choices and he still has to make decisions, and he still has to lay out a proposal with a way forward. On the other hand, he has made it very clear to one and all that he's interested in hearing from people, he's interested in ideas, and that will continue.
Q But the speech is 30 hours away. That's not that much more time for --
MR. SNOW: I'm not saying that the President is going to go back in and shred it and start over. Again, what I'm saying is the President still continues to have an open mind because this is a way forward. This is not, wave a wand and it's all going to happen. This is a way of talking about the important business of building capacity on the part of the Iraqis to take care of their own security, and to build a strong, independent democracy that really does, as I said, stand as the definitive refutation of terror; and also the example to other countries in the region that hope freedom and democracy are possible and are things that they all ought to pursue.
Go ahead, April.
Q Tony, how far does the President go into the issue of public opinion in weighing this out and in making this new way forward? And, also, what singular group or person has the most influence on the President in his thinking on the way forward?
MR. SNOW: The second question is unanswerable. The President has received a great deal of input from a lot of people, and to try to single one out is probably futile.
As far as public opinion, the President will not shape policy according to public opinion, but he does understand that it's important to bring the public back to this war and restore public confidence and support for the mission.
Q But the public doesn't want to go back to the war. They want to go away, they --
MR. SNOW: No, April, you --
Q -- the midterm elections, did people -- did they or did they not vote for leaders who basically said they wanted to --
MR. SNOW: April, let me ask you a simple question: Do opinions change?
Q Yes, they do.
MR. SNOW: Do they change on the basis of arguments?
Q They change on the basis of results.
MR. SNOW: Exactly, they change on the basis of results. That is absolutely right. So that's what --
Q The results have been more deaths. We went in supposedly to stop the war on terror -- I mean, to stop terrorism around the world, as a result which stemmed from the 9/11 issue. And everyone is saying now, look, you have more people dying than they did in 9/11, and you have more U.S. soldiers dying and the world is not as safe.
MR. SNOW: I'm not sure the world is less safe. The world is -- I guarantee you the world is less safe if the United States withdraws and leaves a vacuum in Iraq. I guarantee it. And I guarantee everybody in this room is going to be less safe, and everybody in this country is going to be less safe. And that is the challenge the President faces, and it is worth explaining that to the American people.
You see, I think Americans believe in liberty, believe in this nation's destiny as a country that does advance the boundaries of liberty not simply because it is a good and noble thing, but because it is good for us and it is good for future generations. And the President will talk about how this advances that not only noble goal, but one that is of great interest to everybody who worried about their kids on September 11th, as you and I did, and who worries about how our families are going to be secure in the future.
Q And on Somalia. What is the administration's thought about the containment of al Qaeda in Somalia, since you're not getting into other issues?
MR. SNOW: I think that, again, without talking about military issues, it is pretty clear that this administration continues to go after al Qaeda. We are interested in going after those who have perpetrated acts of violence against Americans, including bombings of embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and we will continue to conduct whatever operations we can to go after that. We've made it clear that this is a global war on terror, and this is a reiteration of the fact that people who think that they're going to try to establish safe haven for al Qaeda anyplace need to realize that we're going to fight them.
Q Thank you, Tony. Two questions on the budget, if I might. First, given the published reports that Karl Rove is betting people that there's no way the administration is going to raise taxes, can we now say --
MR. SNOW: Taxes on Social Security.
Q Taxes on Social Security -- can we now say that taxes are off the table in the negotiations?
MR. SNOW: We never said that they are on the table. What's happening is that there's -- here's what's been going on. Hank Paulson, the Treasury Secretary, has been asked by the President to find out a way to work with members of Congress to deal with something everybody knows needs to be addressed, which is the Social Security system is unsustainable in the long run and, ultimately, unless somebody fixes it, it's going to betray old people and it's going to bankrupt young people. You've got to fix it.
The President has made it clear he doesn't want to raise taxes on Social Security, but he's also said, you got a better idea, let's hear it. The people have interpreted that as a way of saying, oh, there they are, they're going to go ahead and permit a back-door tax increase. So far we haven't heard of anybody proposing tax increases. We'll let the debate proceed. But you know what the President's bright lines are; he believes that it's important to have an investment component that allows people to take advantage of the far superior rates of return that one gets investing in the marketplace rather than any system like Social Security where, if the fund doesn't have the money you were promised to have, you don't get it. You've got no recourse. So it's important to deal with those problems.
Q Understood, but why don't you simply say, instead of, I'm not ruling it in or I'm not ruling it out, that it's being ruled out?
MR. SNOW: Well, think through it, John. It's interesting to see what people may have to propose and to listen to everybody's proposals. The President has already made his.
Q A follow-up question on it. The Financial Times reports today that the administration is more than considering raising the contributions that richer Americans -- and I'm quoting from the FT -- make to sustain Medicare. True or false?
MR. SNOW: I'm not aware of that. But -- I'm not aware of that.
Q Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said today he's going to nationalize the country's utilities -- utilities that have a significant American stake in them. Any response from the White House?
MR. SNOW: Well, nationalization has a long and inglorious history of failure around the world. We support the Venezuelan people and think this is an unhappy day for them.
Q Tony, this goes to your previous acknowledgment that the President is aware of public anxiety about the situation in Iraq. What would your guidance be to a public that has seen the President stand under a "Mission Accomplished" banner, proclaim an end to major combat operations, the Vice President talking about the "last throes" -- how should the public go into viewing this speech tomorrow?
MR. SNOW: I think the public ought to just listen to what the President has to say. You know that the "Mission Accomplished" banner was put up by members of the USS Abraham Lincoln. And the President, on that very speech, said just the opposite, didn't he? He said it was the end of major combat operations, but he did not say it was the end of operations. Instead, he cautioned people at the time that there would be considerable continued violence in Iraq, and that there would be continued operations for a long period of time. That single episode has been more widely mischaracterized than just about any aspect of the war.
Q We can debate whether the sign should have been there, whether the White House should have not had it there, but the fact is he stood under it and made the speech.
MR. SNOW: You're right, after people had been on a 17-month deployment, and had said "Mission Accomplished" when they're finally able to get back to their loved ones, the President didn't say, take down the sign, it will be bad. Instead what he did is he talked about the mission. And I would direct you back to the speech he gave then, Peter, because the President --
Q No, I know --
MR. SNOW: Well, then, you know that the President has made it clear that in a time of war you are going to have different phases and you're going to have different responsibilities. I think what the American people will ask themselves is, do we want to win this war? Do we understand what the costs and dangers of not succeeding in Iraq are? And do we think that this is a sensible way forward, given what we know?
The American people now know a lot more about Iraq and about the realities of the region than they did before. This is a serious plan that's got a lot in it. And I think the idea of sitting around and trying to sort of play polling questions or whatever is inviting, but it's a lot less interesting than asking yourself the simple, basic, important question: Do you think it's going to work?
Q I guess another way to ask the question, Tony, would be, why does the President find himself in a position right now to, as you put it, to have to bring the people back to the war?
MR. SNOW: Because what happened last year was the -- how should I put this -- the ignition of sectarian tensions, primarily in the Baghdad area, the vast majority of it a 35-mile radius around Baghdad. But it's the sort that has shaken the confidence of people within Baghdad and people around Iraq, because suddenly you have these groups engaged in a sectarian violence that they had not been engaged in before. And there had been great hopes just months before that, in fact, we would be in a position to be recalling people. So what happened is that there was a development that people had not fully anticipated. And I will allow the President to give his own analysis of the situation tomorrow, and you can judge it.
Q Tony, could you tell us how much it will cost a month to fight a war in Iraq under the President's new plan? Because I understand there's going to be a lot of initiatives to put Iraqis to work, to try to shore up --
MR. SNOW: It's a great way of trying to get me to divulge details before their time, so, no. But we'll get back to you.
Q Is this something that will impact the street? Is this is a significant increase in cost?
MR. SNOW: Okay, you want me, without details, to answer a question, will this move the street. You've got to be kidding me.
Q -- go into details.
MR. SNOW: Well, I know, and you know what, when we're ready to share the details, we'll share the details. I can't do it right now.
Q Tony, at least twice in this briefing you've said that the President would lay out how Iraq could become the definitive refutation of terrorism. What would make a democracy in Iraq more definitive than democracy in the United States, Britain, France, Israel, India, other places that are open societies that have been the subject of terrorism? What's the difference?
MR. SNOW: I think what's happening is that you have seen a deliberate attempt on the part of al Qaeda, and also on the part of players within the region, to try to use everything within their power to destroy that government in its infancy. That's different. The United States now has a long history of democracy. A number of other countries have long histories where they didn't have to work through these kinds of problems. This is one where it is clear that members of the terror network have decided that this is where they want to make an example, this is where they want to make a stand. And for that reason, success there would serve as, I won't say "the" definitive, but "a" definitive refutation of their tactics and aims.
Q I'd like to ask you a question -- we've danced around this a little bit -- the question here about "mission accomplished." Does the President worry at all about his own personal credibility as the messenger, as the person carrying this message? He has given a number of speeches, all of which were designed to tell the American people, I have a plan for victory. And I think that hasn't worked out the way he had hoped, and you're asking them to, again -- almost hear him again to say much the same thing.
MR. SNOW: Well, let me ask you -- I'll turn it at a different angle. If you had asked any other President in American history during a time of war whether they had a credibility problem because they had not foreseen changes on the battlefield, you probably would have had plenty of cause. I mean, Abraham Lincoln constantly guessed from Manassas straight through until the final months of the war. You had George Washington going from defeat to defeat to defeat to defeat to victory, and there was considerable consternation.
So there's the notion here that it is incumbent upon a President to have perfect knowledge of what the conditions on the battlefield are going to be. It's important for a President to have the determination to succeed. Winston Churchill -- was Winston Churchill responsible for the Blitz? What Winston Churchill did was talk about the conditions for victory. And the President, adjusting to constant changes on the battlefield, is adjusting and talking about conditions for victory, and that's the most important thing to do.
Q Tony, I apologize if this has been asked at some point before, but the President has clearly consulted with a wide variety of people on troop levels in Iraq. What happened to the statements that he had made for years that the people who decided troop levels in Iraq were the generals on the ground?
MR. SNOW: Well, he's talked to them, too. And as you probably know, generals are not of one mind. Generals are independent individuals, as well, and there are a number of opinions within the ranks of the military about this.
Q That "he's talked to them, too" is not good enough, because really what he had said previously was that those were the people who make the decisions, and those were the people that he was listening to. And now, very clearly, he's talking to people outside of the military, people on Capitol Hill, generals not in Iraq -- he's talking to a wide variety of people on the issue. What happened to this rule, a real hard and fast rule that he --
MR. SNOW: No, no, it wasn't a hard and fast rule. What he was trying to do was, again, talk about his confidence in generals, and he still has it and he still consults with --
Q Well, he --
MR. SNOW: Let me continue. There also, though, is -- every day I get questions, what about the polls, what about Congress? Well, guess what. When you're trying to build consensus -- now when what the President is trying to do here is lay the foundation for consensus, moving forward in Iraq, it is important to consult people and to take into account a wide variety of ideas so that you have taken advantage of every possible insight you can. It is obvious that the two Baghdad security plans didn't work. And, therefore, you have to ask yourself why, and, how do we move forward.
The other part is that you have to ask yourself, how can we work better with the Iraqis and how can we work better at making them effective? And that also entails a series of conversations with them.
So, in broadening -- and, furthermore, let me add, even before we got to this point, there were still regular invitations of people who had differing views on the region to come in, because the President, whether it is apparent to one and all, constantly takes a look at the situation and tries to assess and reassess and to figure out not merely how it impacts what's going on in Iraq, but within the neighborhood and within the broader diplomatic and economic community.
Q Was it a mistake in earlier years, then, to rely so strongly on the advice of generals in Iraq on troop levels?
MR. SNOW: The President asks for the advice of generals and others in the military on troop levels to enact policy recommendations that he himself has set. And he will continue to do so.
Q Tony, you were saying earlier that the President wants the American people and members of Congress to ask themselves the question, do we want to win in Iraq. Does the President want the Iraqi people to understand that his policy is also stating to them that their country is lost if this --
MR. SNOW: I think there are more positive ways of doing it. The Iraqis understand that it is important for them to step up and succeed. Again, the end point of this -- when we talk about the President's policy, what you're aiming at is an Iraqi government that's fully capable of handling all the responsibilities, from the rule of law to security to economic rules, and so on.
Q What message does he want them to take away --
MR. SNOW: Again, wait until tomorrow night, and you'll have an answer.
Q Is he going to address the Iraqi people directly?
MR. SNOW: As I said, just wait.
Q You may have already addressed this, but have you guys decided how you proceed after the speech? You have the Georgia event. Is that the start of a series of speeches out in the country? And also, do you continue consultations with members of Congress on how to implement what he's talking about?
MR. SNOW: As I said, on the procedural matters, I will allow you to wait and see what the President says tomorrow. We need a sock puppet for this now. (Laughter.) But the fact is that -- make it more interesting, at least briefly -- but let me -- he will be speaking to troops. And we're going to talk about this a lot. This is not, give one speech, dust your hands off and walk away. This is the beginning of an important process for the American people and for the political community to think seriously about it. So you're going to be hearing more about it, absolutely.
Q Will there be a military tour, though --
MR. SNOW: As I said, we'll release the schedule when the schedule is ready to be released.
Q Does the White House have any comment on the universal health care plan that has been announced by the California Governor?
MR. SNOW: No. We tend to let states go ahead and make their own policies.
Q And Social Security -- a moment ago, you talked about how the President feels very strongly about the opportunity to have personal savings accounts, and that when you have these talks, that there's no preconditions set. So one of the ideas is to allow for these, but rather than have it carved out, to have it as an add on. So is this among the --
MR. SNOW: As I said, I'm not going to get into characterizing, A, because Hank Paulson is driving it, and, B, we're allowing anybody to say whatever they want. And we're not going to assess the President's conditions -- the President's proposals have been pretty clear, and now we want to see what other people have to put on the table.
Q Isn't there a difference between saying, we'll allow anyone to say what they want, or, the President is listening to your ideas, and actually incorporating any of those ideas?
MR. SNOW: Well, what's interesting is the President has made his proffer. If somebody else wants to put another proposal on the table --
Q Two related questions. One, the global war on terrorism started from Afghanistan, and now there is a war going on, global war between the two Presidents, President Karzai and President Musharraf, as far as border crossings are concerned, because Pakistan is saying that they want to build these land mines along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and President Karzai is objecting to it --
MR. SNOW: Goyal, I'm not going to get into disputes between states, both of whom are allies. It is clear that the issue of border crossings is one of shared interest and concern, and it is important to make sure that terrorists are unable to -- that at least there's a greater capability of intercepting terrorists who try to make their way from the border regions into Pakistan.
Q And second, there are allied forces or NATO forces in Afghanistan that are angry at the British forces because British made a deal with the Taliban, and Assistant Secretary of State Mr. Richard Boucher also said that there is no need, there was no need for any negotiations with Taliban.
MR. SNOW: The Taliban is clearly trying to reorganize. Is has also been getting smashed in engagements with NATO forces in the southern parts of Afghanistan.
Q Tony, thank you. Two questions. Tomorrow Congressman Ted Poe, who, as you know, is a Republican --
MR. SNOW: No, I didn't, but thank you.
Q -- and from Texas -- he's also from Texas, -- will hold a news conference about the 250,000 petitions asking presidential pardon for U.S. Border Patrolmen facing 10 year prison sentences because they shot a fleeing Mexican drug-pusher in his buttocks. Does the White House believe that the White House believe that the President's fellow Texan and fellow Republican was wrong to do this?
MR. SNOW: I think -- you know Les, I thought I brought my points on that -- why don't you ask that -- because that will be entertaining to do tomorrow, and I want to get back to you on it. I thought I had packed that with my materials today, but I didn't.
Q The AP reports that the U.S. Army sent letters to 75 officers who were killed in action encouraging them to reconsider -- to consider returning to active duty. And while General Richard Cody has apologized for this computer error, there's no report of anyone being disciplined for this. And my question: What does the Commander-in-Chief of the Army have to say about this horrendous error, and about what else such computer errors could do?
MR. SNOW: I'd refer that to the Pentagon, Les.
Q Tony, how much did the Fielding appointment have to do with the expectation that there will be a number of congressional investigations?
MR. SNOW: No, everybody keeps trying to -- look, members of Congress are going to have to decide whether they want -- how they want to respond to the President's open and repeated offers to cooperate on key and important issues. We've also said that if people want to try to mount a series of investigations, we're going to be prepared. But Fred Fielding is a guy of enormous experience and competence. It is gratifying to have a guy of his quality coming into the White House. And he wants to come in because he sees this as a place where there's a lot of constructive work to be done over the next two years in the war on terror, on domestic policy, on judges and a number of other things. And as White House Legal Counsel, he's going to have a real hand in all of those things. That's the reason he expressed.
Q Tony, we haven't talked about Jack Abramoff in a long time, and there's a new photo showing him with the President.
MR. SNOW: The President said he didn't know Abramoff, wasn't buds, and my guess is there are plenty of photos around town with Jack Abramoff and Democrats and Republicans.
Q What about the change in interpreting entrance records to the White House as being the property of the White House and not of the Secret Service?
MR. SNOW: That is a fairly abstruse issue, and I will see if I can get you guidance from the Office of Legal Counsel. I don't want to tap dance around that. I'll try and get you a straight answer.
Posted: Jan 10 2007, 03:19 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 10, 2007
Background Briefing by Senior Administration Officials
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
12:25 P.M. EST
MR. SNOW: Hello, everybody. The ground rules are this is a background briefing by a senior administration official. We have promised some documents to you; those are still in production. We will notify you as soon as they are ready, but they will be ready for you well in advance of the President's speech tonight. They'll lay out a lot of the basics of the policy. Obviously, feel free to contact us with any questions you have afterward.
But in order to frame it up, I introduce SAO.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm going to try and give you a little feel for what the President is going to say tonight, but I'm going to try to do it in a way that walks you through the logic of the strategy review we've been through, and a little bit, the logic of the President's thinking and how I think you'll hear it tonight.
He will talk about the hopes we had at the end of 2005 for progress in 2006 on the political side, against the violence, and the prospects even for beginning to reduce our troops. He will say that that was dashed in 2006. And really what happened was sectarian violence got out ahead of Iraqi forces, it got out ahead of American forces, and it overwhelmed the political progress that we expected.
And he will then conclude that the situation in Iraq is unacceptable. It's unacceptable to the American people and it's unacceptable to him. He will make clear that our current strategy in Iraq is not working; that he has conducted an extensive review to develop a new strategy; that in the course of that review, two things became clear and really almost reflected a consensus, whether it was congressional leaders, foreign leaders, or the Iraq Study Group, and that is two things -- one, there are no silver bullets here, and secondly, America cannot afford to fail, but we must succeed.
So the challenge, then, is, what is a strategy for success? And you have to start that with, what is the diagnosis of the problem? And the problem, at this point, is the challenge of sectarian violence. It is synonymous with security in Baghdad since 80 percent of the sectarian violence occurs within a 30-mile radius of Baghdad. So the challenge is dealing with sectarian violence and bring security to the people of Baghdad.
He will say very clearly that Americans, the coalition cannot do that; the challenge of dealing with the sectarian violence is a challenge to the Iraqis, the Iraqi people, who will have to decide whether they want to live together in peace, and to the Iraqi government, whom the Iraqi people expect to bring security to them in Baghdad. And he will make clear that the Iraq government needs to step up and do that.
The good news is that the Iraqi government has -- they have come forward with a plan. This was first given to the President when he was in Amman, Jordan, and met with Prime Minister Maliki. Maliki's security people, the government security people, and our commanders have been working on that plan. The good news is that they believe that the plan fixes the problems that plagued our earlier efforts to bring security to Baghdad and is a plan that will work. And he'll describe it in some detail. I can do that, but I'd like to do it at the end, because otherwise, we're just going to go right down the details, and I want to give you a little bit of the framework.
The plan fixes a number of -- it is different from what we've done before in four respects. One, it's a different and better concept of operations, which I'll go through. Secondly, it will be adequately resourced. We did have not enough forces before. Front and center, it will be additional Iraqi forces. Iraq will add three army brigades to Baghdad. They will end up having nine Iraqi brigades and nine Iraqi national police, as well as local police.
Second -- first of all, then, it is an Iraqi plan, and it's Iraqi led. Secondly, it will be adequately resourced first and foremost by the Iraqis. Third, those forces will operate under rules of engagement. And that's probably a misnomer. Let me put it this way; prior to now, Iraqi security forces in Baghdad got a lot of political and, in some sense, sectarian instruction and interference. And Prime Minister Maliki and the members of his government have made clear that that will end, and that the Iraqi commanders, once given this responsibility, will be given the full authority to carry it out and will be free of political and sectarian influence. We think that those things taken together give a different situation and allow for the prospects of success.
And the last thing I would say is that if the prior strategy was to clear, hold and build, we cleared but did not hold, and the build never arrived. And so a piece of this plan is to follow on the military operations with economic assistance and putting people to work.
Our commanders have said that the Iraqis clearly would like to do this themselves, but their commanders -- their security officials and our commanders have concluded that their resources are not adequate. And therefore, the military has recommended that additional U.S. forces go into Baghdad. The President, in response to that, has committed five additional U.S. brigades to Baghdad to go into Baghdad. They will move into the theater over time as they get developed, but they will operate very much in support of Iraqi forces.
And let me just describe briefly, then, how the Iraqi forces are going to operate in Baghdad. There will be an overall Iraqi commander. That Iraqi commander will have two deputies, one for each side of the river. They will then have authority over the nine districts of the city. In each district there will be an Iraqi commander. That Iraqi commander will have authority over all Iraqi army units, Iraqi national police, and local police in that district. They will operate in a coordinated way.
They will operate out of police stations in the district, and their job will be to go out in the community, to patrol, to do any necessary checkpoints, and to go door-to-door, not to kick the door in, but to talk to the residents and make it clear that they understand that Iraqi forces are now providing security in the country.
The U.S. role will be to support that effort and help the Iraqis provide population security in Baghdad. To help that, in each district, there will be a U.S. army battalion -- that's 400 to 600 folks -- working in and closely with the Iraqi forces. Those forces, of course -- our forces will remain under U.S. command, but they will work with and in support of the Iraqi forces.
They will do it in several ways. One, there will be U.S. forces embedded with Iraqi units, and one of the things resulting from the strategy review is an expansion of our embedding. That is a good way to supplement the training we've been doing, training that gets the force up and into the field. It is embedding that will help that force, the Iraqi force, be effective in bringing security, but it's also -- think of it as an on-the-job training, a way to ensure that the Iraqis are better and more effective, both in their job and develop more effectiveness over time.
So our forces will do some embedding. They will be there to counsel the Iraqi forces, and, of course, if the Iraqi forces get into trouble, they will be there to help them in extremis. But my point overall is this is an Iraqi plan with an Iraqi lead that we believe will fix the problems that have plagued earlier efforts, and our forces will be in support.
There are other features of this. One of the things is that the President will say very clearly that it is time for the Iraqis to step forward; that there is no indefinite commitment to U.S. presence in Iraq; that our presence is there to enable the Iraqis, but that works only if the Iraqis step forward and step up. And he's made it very clear that if the Iraqis do not do that, they will lose the support of the American people. And the Iraqi people are making it clear that they will also lose the support of the Iraqi people, because the Iraqi people have made very clear they're sick of the violence in Baghdad and they want their government to provide security.
The purpose of all this is to get the violence in Baghdad down, get control of the situation and the sectarian violence, because now, without it, the reconciliation that everybody knows in the long-term is the key to getting security in the country, the reconciliation will not happen. The Sunnis do not know whether -- and do not have confidence this government is going to survive in the long-term, and the Shia are skeptical of the government because it is not providing them protection. So the President's judgment is the first step of a successful strategy in Iraq has to be helping the Iraqis bring security to Baghdad.
As that occurs, we have made very clear that the Iraqi government needs to meet the benchmarks it has set in order to do the things on which a broader reconciliation are required. And you all know them. They're the oil law; they're deBaathification, narrowing the limitations of the deBaathification law; they're provincial elections to bring the Sunnis back into the political process at the local level. There is also continuing, and we would hope even accelerating the transition of security responsibility to Iraqis elsewhere in the country and in Baghdad, because if this works it will actually enable Iraqis sooner to provide security in Baghdad. And we have -- would like, and the Iraqis have made clear that one of their benchmarks is to take responsibility for security in the whole country by the end of the year.
So this is a vehicle for bringing security, encouraging and supporting Iraqis in the broader reconciliation that they need to do. The President will talk about a number of ways where we can support this broader effort. He will talk about ways we can support and accelerate the training of Iraqis through greater embedding, through greater provision of equipment, through supporting Iraqi plans to expand the size of the Iraqi army -- they intend to put greater reliance on the Iraqi army for security.
There are also things that we can do to support them economically. They've announced a $10-billion reconstruction and infrastructure effort. We can complement that. And finally, the Secretary of State will be talking in her testimony about the expansion of provincial reconstruction teams, doubling the number of Americans that will be out in the provinces, basically helping Iraqis build their government from the bottom up, focusing on local reconciliation efforts, local economic assistance efforts, and the like.
He will also talk about the broader regional context, the importance that the effort in Iraq not fail; that the experiment in democracy is a piece of a broader struggle in the Middle East between the forces of moderation, the responsible forces committed to democracy, and those extremist forces that are using terror as an instrument for their own agendas; and the consequences of failure in Iraq for all our allies and friends and supporters in the regions that are moderate and are pursuing democracy. He will talk about some of the things that we are doing to strengthen our commitment and capability in the region.
He will also talk about things that we need to be doing over the long-term to strengthen the ability of the United States and its allies to deal with the war on terror over the long-term. He'll talk about expanding the Army and the Marine Corps. He'll talk about trying to find a way to get Americans able to go overseas in post-conflict situations to help struggling democracies build the infrastructure of democracy -- the police forces, the court systems, the effective administration -- all the things these countries need to go from post-conflict situations to successfully providing services to their people.
Finally, one of the thematics he will talk about is the importance of trying to -- of improving and strengthening relations with Congress. He will have some ideas how to do that to institutionalize contacts between the executive branch and the Congress on dealing with the issue of the long war, and his desire -- and his -- understand there will be questions that will be raised about the President's strategy, and he welcomes those, he welcomes the debate. We hope that people will have time for that debate to occur before taking preemptive action, if you will, and asking that those -- he believes that success is essential and he has a plan for success. He's prepared to defend it, but those who criticize it have, in some sense, a burden to come forward with an alternative path that they think will succeed.
I should make one other note, and then I'll stop. He will also talk about Anbar Province. This is in the west on Iraq. As you know the problem there is not sectarian violence; it is a struggle against al Qaeda. Anbar is basically al Qaeda's base of operations in Iraq. There is an opportunity there because local Sunni tribes have turned against al Qaeda and are going after al Qaeda there. Our local commander believes that a couple additional U.S. battalions, basically a plus-up -- net plus-up of about 4,000 would enhance our ability to help the Iraqi forces there exploit the opportunity, and he will announce that in his speech, as well.
That's what I've got for you. I'd be glad to take any questions.
Q At the start of the war, some of the generals were saying more troops were needed, and the President, at that time, did not listen to that advice. Now the generals are very wary about sending more troops, and, yet, the President is making a decision to send more troops. Why is it that he believes this is a wise course of action after the history of how things have gone in terms of troop levels?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the rationale for it I've really given you. I think, though, I see the history a little different. One of the issues is the Iraqis -- every time we get in discussions with Iraqis about more troops, they generally said, if we need more troops, they need to be Iraqi troops, so please train more Iraqi troops. This is -- Iraqis really want to take more responsibility.
They have concluded -- that is to say, the security people advising Prime Minister Maliki and our commanders have decided that in order to make this plan work -- and everybody believes it is essential that it work -- they need more troops. This recommendation and this plan, in terms of the troops, has the support of General Abizaid, General Casey, General Petraeus, Admiral Fallon, Pete Pace and the Joint Chiefs. This has been a lengthy process that has brought forward this strategy going forward, and it has the support of both the old and the new commanders. So it's just -- it is something that we have all come together on and that has the support, as I say, of the military.
Q The President long said that he didn't want any timetables, that he would not abandon the Iraqi people, and you're talking about it not being an indefinite commitment. So describe for us that change and how he now will accept benchmarks that have time associated with them.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, he hasn't got time lines, he's got benchmarks -- benchmarks that the Iraqis have set for themselves. And he's basically saying, look, it is time for them to perform.
On the one hand, you can say this is a government that has been in power only nine months, an experiment in democracy in a place that's known tyranny for 30 years. On the other hand, it is clear that the Iraqi -- that the patience of the Iraqi people is running out, and, quite frankly, the patience of the American people is running out. And he's been very clear to the government leaders he's spoken to -- he spoke to a number of them this morning -- it is time for this government to perform.
They have concluded that, as well. They have set forward this plan. They have brought forward these benchmarks. And what the President is saying is, fine, we will judge you now less on your words and more on your performance.
Q How do you compel that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think it's -- I think there's two things. One, I think the Iraqi people are compelling it. This is, after all, a democracy. There is, as you can tell, unhappiness in Iraq that this government has not made the decisions it needs to make. And I think they will hear from the President tonight that the patience of the American people is not unlimited, and they're not oblivious to what is going on on Capitol Hill and the kinds of statements that you've been hearing from Leader Pelosi and others. I think they've got it clear.
Q Underpinning this seems to be a supreme confidence in Prime Minister Maliki to take the lead, despite problems that you've articulated, despite a lack of control in that country. What is that confidence based upon, and isn't it a gamble to put that much faith --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think the premise of your question is wrong. There's a lot of skepticism in the country about Prime Minister Maliki. I think, in some sense, a lot of people in the United States share that skepticism. We've been very clear about it. The point is, this is an elected government, it is a unity government. They have come forward with Prime Minister Maliki as the Prime Minister. We will, of course, work with the elected officials of the Iraqi government, but we will, at the same time, say it is time for this government to perform.
Why are -- what is the basis for thinking they can do it? One, that the statements are different. There seems to be an expression of will. Secondly, there seems to be within the Iraqi political system a recognition of the imperative to act. Third, they have come forward with plans that are credible, and they have made commitments to resource those plans. We will see over the next several months whether they begin to make good on those commitments. And I think there is obviously skepticism, and the President has made that very clear to this government: People are skeptical -- your people are skeptical, our people are skeptical. I will support you, but you need to perform.
Q So are the troop deployments directly tied to those benchmarks? Has the President said, or will he say to the Iraqi government, unless X happens, he won't deploy more troops?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, he won't say that, and part of it is because when you're trying to empower a government, you don't talk to them in those terms -- you must do this, or else. This is a government we're trying to strengthen, and trying -- and basically to make clear that they are doing this for their own reasons. And that's what Maliki says -- I'm doing it for my own reasons because it needs to be done for my country.
So we will not be structured in that way. But I think it's very clear that they have made some commitments. We have said very clearly, this is your responsibility, you have -- it is your plan, you need to execute that plan. We can come in behind, but we're not going to come out in front. They're going to need to step forward. And we are going to have to see that they are beginning to implement their plan.
Q Well, can I just follow up? On the benchmarks, then, I can't see what's new with the benchmarks. As you said, we all know what those benchmarks are. And those were part of the original Baghdad security plan. It was a plan that said, we want you to do this, that, and the other. And they didn't do it. The plan was clear, hold and build. It didn't happen. So --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Right, well --
Q -- is this just a more hopeful plan?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, what I described in some detail is how the Baghdad security plan is different, and why we think this plan has a better prospect of success. That, of course, requires Iraqis to do some things. We will have to see whether they do those.
I'm not saying -- I did not claim that everything under the sun here is new. My premise is, as everyone says, there's no silver bullet, there's no magic plan out there. We've all known that in order to solve the problem in Iraq, you've got to do something about security, you've got to do something about the politics, you've got to do something about economics. Sure, benchmarks have been around. What I think is different is a new seriousness by the Iraqis and the United States that they need to be met.
Q Following up on Martha's thought, there seems to be a tension between the implicit statement the President has that our commitment is not open-ended, which is to say if they don't perform, at some point in the future American commitment to this may begin to pull back, and the President's oft-repeated statement that he can settle for nothing short of victory, which would seem to suggest we're there until we win. So can you reconcile those two? And can you tell us whether the President is going to use the phrase "victory" the way he did in his "victory in Iraq" speeches in the end of 2005, and whether he defines it the same way that he did then?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, you'll see it in the speech. I think we're in -- you'll see what he says in the speech tonight. I think you'll see some words like "success" and "victory," but we're in a very different context, we have a very different strategy. And I think you'll find that that will affect how he uses those terms. But I think on that piece, I think we ought to wait until the speech tonight.
Secondly, there is broad consensus that we cannot fail in Iraq. The President has gotten the strategy that he believes will succeed and is the best prospect of success. Now, everybody is going to want to say, well, what if it doesn't work, what is plan B, and all the rest. And I think, for obvious reasons, for the President and for senior administration officials, we're going to focus on what we need to do to make this plan work.
This would be a three-for for The New York Times; let's go to The Washington Post.
Q Didn't Prime Minister Maliki make a pledge that he would crack down against Moqtada al Sadr, specifically? Did he pledge that he would move into Sadr City? And do you envision, under this partnership between U.S. and Iraqi forces, that U.S. troops might be acting against the Mahdi Army?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Maliki has said publicly that this is about the rule of law, and that this is about bringing the rule of law to all groups who act outside the law -- whether Sunni, Shia. And everybody knows, and he has said explicitly, that the militias have to be dealt with, because they are operating outside the law. He said very clearly that that includes the Shia militia. And I think everybody in that -- without going into details of presidential conversations -- everybody understands that the Mahdi Army and Sadr have to be dealt with.
What was your third part of your question?
Q And do you envision the partnership between U.S. and Iraqi forces leading U.S. troops to be up against --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He has said that the commander will be free to go after those who act outside the law wherever they are in Baghdad. Maliki has made that very clear. That would include Sadr City.
Obviously, the whole premise of this, as I've described, is Iraqis in the front and we in support. And that model applies everywhere in the city, including Sadr City. Obviously, the details of where you start, how you do it, what's the order of the neighborhoods, how do you deal with an issue of Sadr City, that's something our commanders, Iraqi and U.S., are going to have to work out.
Q But could it theoretically envision or include U.S. troops being --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let's not do hypotheticals. I can't be any more clear. We've got an operational concept, it's going to apply through the whole city --
Q But in principle, it could.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: -- we're going to have to see how it goes.
Q But in principle, it could.
Q In Amman, the President was very clear that Prime Minister Maliki was the man for the job in Iraq. Is the President going --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me just say one other thing -- I'm trying to -- on Robin's question. One of the things you've heard from Maliki is he feels it's very important that Iraqis be in the lead, particularly on the issue of militias. And so I think when you see that issue, that's going to be one area in particular where the Iraqis are going to want to be in the lead, with us in support.
Q That's okay. I'm just wondering what the President's -- what he will express in the speech, specifically about Prime Minister Maliki, his confidence in Maliki being the right man for the job, in the same way that he expressed it very clearly in Amman, or has the President undergone rethinking about the confidence level in Maliki?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He continues to think that Maliki is the right man for the job; one, because he's the man that the Iraqis have put in the job, but secondly, because he has had a number of exchanges -- Prime Minister Maliki has been very clear to the President on what his intentions are with the plan, very clear about these ground rules of rules of engagement, to let this security plan work, let the Iraqi commander do the job of bringing security everywhere in the city, operating without political interference and continuing until the job is done. So again -- but he has also said to Prime Minister Maliki, this is the right plan, these are the right words. Now we need to see you perform.
Q So does the speech implicitly put Prime Minister Maliki on notice?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think it makes it
-- calls it like it is, which is that they have a plan, they have good statements, it's time to perform. And that's the message he's getting from his own people, that's the message he's getting from the President, and that's the message that he's getting from the American people.
Q What has changed in the last two months? Two months ago, the President said we were winning, and now you're saying that the President made clear the current status is not working. What is the single catalyst for that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think it's really what we've seen over the last year. The big trigger was obviously going after the Golden -- the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samara. I think it's true that the Iraqis did look into the abyss. Two months later, they did -- had a unity government. The Iraqi security forces, particularly the army, did not fracture.
But over the spring and summer, that sectarian violence did not abate, but it continued to build. And I think it led people to conclude that what we were doing wasn't working. And obviously, you don't want to declare a strategy dead until you have a new one to put in its place.
And so -- and about two, three months ago, the President asked -- these reviews started, very informally, and then, as you know, the President asked they be brought together in an NSC system and done in a systematic way. And he's been pretty public about that review over the last two or three months.
Q And last question, how is the President going to justify to Congress the additional need for troops?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: By explaining the problem, emphasizing and I think playing on the fact that most congressmen understand that we can't afford to fail, that -- he will explain why this, as he will tonight, why this is a plan that he believes will succeed and is most likely to succeed, but that it requires the additional troops in order to be successful.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He's got someone waiting for him in the Roosevelt Room. I'll pick up the baton.
Go ahead, Peter.
Q Your colleague just said that the Iraqis want to control security by the end of the year. What are the prospects for that happening?
Q Background for this part?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, everything is still on background. Again, it fits into the larger architecture of what the Iraqis have been talking all along about doing, which is assuming primary responsibility for combat operations. They already do it in three of the provinces.
And again, rather than trying to ask a prospective question, it's something that we're going to work toward achieving. Because, Peter, what you're asking me is, what's going to transpire in the next 10 months. I can't give you a precise answer on it, but the whole -- the way this plan has been put together is in such a way as to work with the Iraqis so that you get away from some of the problems that rendered the Baghdad -- the first two Baghdad plans ineffective, one of the key elements there being rules of engagement that effectively tied the hands of those who are going after bad actors within the city of Baghdad.
You also now have real responsibility on the part of the Iraqis, as we've also been discussing. It is a democratically elected government that's under pressure. The Iraqi people are tired of this, as well. And so there is real pressure within Iraq, even though most of the violence -- sectarian violence is focused around Baghdad, and virtually all of the violence around Baghdad and Anbar; even though 14 provinces have very low levels of violence, nine of them have less than one violent incident per day. It is clear --
Q So is the assessment --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me just finish here. That has still had -- even in those areas, the violence in Baghdad has had an effect on confidence in the government, itself. This is a time where the Iraq government has to demonstrate to the Iraqi people its own ability to do the basics. And we are going to do what we can to support and assist it in that effort.
Q He has said that they want to control their security by the end of the year. We've heard this before. So there is no -- going into this, no assessment on whether that's achievable?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Of course, there is. Absolutely. But I don't know -- precisely how would you have me answer the question?
Q Well, I mean, you've been consulting --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, let me put it this way.
Q -- with the Iraqis. They've been telling you what they think their capabilities are. Do you think they have that capability?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes. We wouldn't be talking about this if we didn't think they had the capability. Furthermore, there has been a pretty clear assessment -- and you'll see this reflected in some of the fact sheets that you will get -- in some of the problems with some of the Iraqi military and some of the police force: absenteeism, those sorts of problems. So there's been a very clear-eyed look at what it takes to make it more professional. So there is training, there is embedding -- one of the Baker-Hamilton commission recommendations was considerably more embedding. And so what you're going to see is U.S. forces embedding deeper down to the company level, so that you are going to be working on the real basics, in terms of fitness and professionality and that sort of thing within the forces.
So this is an effort where we're going to be working at much closer levels, making sure that they're properly equipped -- Barry McCaffrey has talked about that. So there are a whole lot of different pieces here. This is not simply U.S. forces going in following the Iraqis. There are much more determined efforts, in terms of training, coordination, development of capability when it comes to logistics, communications, intelligence on the part of the Iraqis; and also, again, underlined three times, the importance of coming up with rules of engagement that are going to be consistent with making it clear that the law applies to everybody, and furthermore, the forces are going to be able to do the essential jobs, because you cannot move on to complete the political business until you've taken care of the security situation.
Q One more. Are any other countries adding to their forces levels there?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Other countries are going to be involved, and the President will be -- he will not be talking about other countries' military commitments, but it is clear that a very important part of what's going on here is the continued engagement and involvement of other countries in the region, because this, again, is the central front in the war on terror, but there are important other considerations. And I think people in the neighborhood increasingly understand the importance of a successful Iraq.
Q -- are you talking about Iran and Syria?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President will talk about Iran and Syria, absolutely.
Q I was referring to the current coalition countries -- are any of --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Again, no announcements on anything like that, and that's not part of the discussion.
Q Is there a specific request for additional funding from Congress in the speech?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. But there are -- I think we've briefed you a little bit -- there will be in the supplemental the incremental funding necessary. That will be $5.6 on the military side. That will include, I think, $414 million for provincial reconstruction teams. It will include $350 million for the CERP program -- Commander's Emergency Response Program -- and $400 million for quick response funds, which are also part of the Department of State.
Q Can you address the premise that some lawmakers who have met with the President about this plan are calling it the "last chance"? We've talked about that in the briefing room, but now, more freely, can you address this overall premise?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, I think when you go into a planning process like this, you focus on what are the problems and how do you succeed. And that is the attitude. Now, part of succeeding here is making sure that the Iraqi government stands up and does what its people want, what it says it wants, and what the American people want. But I think uses of terms like "last chance," they create a sense of brinkmanship that is not constructive and I don't think reflects the way in which ones goes about trying to address these problems.
Q Again, what compels the Iraqis to -- what happens if they don't meet the benchmarks?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, you're going to have to ask them. Again, you want us to talk about "what if," and the moment we talk about that, everybody defaults to that position. That also tips your hands to terrorists and others working in the country. We're simply not going to talk about the "what if" scenario.
Q Sure, but in a country that is tired of listening to, the Iraqis are going to do this, and they never make it there --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, here's -- but you're going to have to -- you're going to have some opportunities to judge very quickly. The Iraqis are going to have three brigades within Baghdad within a little more than a month. They have committed to trying to get one brigade in, I think, by the first of February, and two more by the 15th. When it comes to benchmarks, they are talking about, in a fairly short span of time, addressing some of the key legislative business, including the hydrocarbon law, de-Baathification reforms, and election/constitutional reforms.
So people are going to be able to see pretty quickly that the Iraqis are or are not stepping up. And that provides the ability to judge.
Q The senior administration official was talking about two brigades in Anbar Province and five in Baghdad. Are we talking about 14,000 --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, what we're talking about is -- actually, it's two Marine battalions in Anbar, which comes to 4,000 troops, five army brigades in Baghdad. Together, you total them up, it's somewhere in the 21,000-22,000 total.
Q Can you talk about the jobs program? The senior administration official had mentioned a $10-billion effort for Iraqi jobs. I'm assuming that's Iraqi money.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That is Iraqi money. The Prime Minister, in his speech last week, they took $10 billion out of the $11 billion that they have in spendable surplus funds, and they've committed that to a reconstruction program that the Prime Minister announced last week.
Q And then the senior administration official said that we can complement that. What does that mean? Does that mean that the $1 billion, in terms of our own, creating another --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Keep in mind -- the other thing is that other countries in the neighborhood, as part of the Iraq Compact -- and it's worth mentioning this -- they're hoping that within the next few weeks, they'll also be able to conclude work on the Iraq Compact, which includes commitments by the U.N. -- U.N. member states and people in the neighborhood also to make commitments when it comes to contributions within Iraq. So those negotiations are moving very rapidly toward a point of conclusion. So do not assume that each and every bit of funding that's going to be expended on reconstruction is U.S. or Iraqi. There are going to be others contributing to that effort.
If you take a look at the provincial reconstruction teams, and also now what we're calling provincial support teams, which will be, essentially, provincial reconstruction teams embedded within some of the combat units -- those are going to be efforts to help train Iraqis in everything from building to putting in place the basics for civil society -- rule of law, court system, that kind of thing. So a lot of those efforts are sort of ongoing. And when we get these fact sheets out to you today, you'll be able to see a little more of that detail.
Q So is that part of the billion-dollar plan that people are talking about --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, what people -- the best I can tell is when people are using the billion-dollar figure, what they are doing is that they are aggregating the accounts that I mentioned before, which would be the provincial reconstruction team money, the CERP money, and also the quick response funds. You put that together, that's in excess of a billion dollars. Those are different accounts, but they tend to be used. And what you're going to see is a much more coordinated effort to use DOD folks out in the provinces, as well as civilian and state folks working out in the provinces to try to develop greater capabilities on the part of local governments and individuals.
Q What does he have to say specifically about Iran and Syria and the talk of a new diplomatic offensive which the Baker-Hamilton proposed --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There is nothing about a new diplomatic offensive. What it does is it makes it clear to Iran and Syria the importance of playing constructive roles.
Q Let me follow on Suzanne's question. So what you're saying is the President is going to call for boosting the U.S. reconstruction commitment by more than a billion dollars?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Again, I think what you're talking about is -- if you want to aggregate it that way, your answer is, yes. But I would caution you that this reconstruction effort -- and this is -- General Petraeus has written within the last month a handbook on counterinsurgency. Part of counterinsurgency is not merely doing the military operations, but also confidence-building in provinces. And what we're talking about here is primarily beefing up in the four most dangerous provinces outside of Baghdad -- or the four most violent provinces -- greater capability for locals to be able to deal with civil affairs, which include the capacity for building businesses and getting schools operating properly and doing that. So it's not merely construction, but it really is kind of the nuts and bolts also of getting the civil institutions in shape.
Q Is there a micro loan program in there, as well?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You know what, you're going to have to ask the guys who are doing the line item stuff.
Q Do you have an overall cost estimate to this whole package?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I've just given it to you.
Q No, I'm talking about the military --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The military piece is $5.6 billion.
Q I thought that was just the down payment that's going to be in the supplemental.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, that's in the supplemental -- you understand -- I think the question you have -- I've got to go in a couple of minutes -- you're asking a question that anticipates my knowing exactly when everything is over. I don't.
Q Well, is there any end point to the mission for these additional troops?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We'll find out. I mean, the end point is, we hope that we're going to have -- let me put it this way: You have the mission, and the mission right now is you deal with the security problems, you create breathing space so that the political institutions can continue that business of doing national reconciliation and also addressing very important fundamental needs, whether it be infrastructure in places like Baghdad and other major urban areas, or continuing the business of building civil institutions and economic capacity out in the provinces. All of those things are the things that we're talking about.
Q How does the embedding work, in terms of who gets to decide where these troops go? And the question of Sadr City came up. Is that an Iraqi decision, yes, we're going to take on Sadr City and the Americans follow along? Do the Americans make that decision? Who decides --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the Iraqis are going to be in the lead here, and the United States in support roles, as the senior administration official said.
Q -- that the Iraqi commanders could essentially commit U.S. troops --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, U.S. troops, again, will be working under U.S. command and they will be working jointly. There is not going to be an opportunity for Iraqis to be giving direct orders to the United States.
Q But if Iraqis have tried to take on Sadr City, and U.S. troops are embedded, does that mean U.S. troops --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You're confusing a couple of things also. Just because you have embedded forces and you're doing training does not mean that everybody sort of trails along on each and every mission. As the senior administration official said, of particular interest for the Iraqis is taking the lead in places like Sadr City.
Two more, and then I've got to go.
Q Will the benchmarks in the President's plan be associated with dates? And what's the span under which those --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, but the benchmarks are the ones that the Iraqis themselves have set. What he's saying is -- to the Prime Minister, you have set your benchmarks, you need to meet them.
Q Will he say --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, I believe so. If not, our supporting materials all do.
Q After the American people hear the speech or absorb it, will the President be saying that with this plan there is increased risk, expect more casualties, that will happen?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I think -- it is certainly a possibility. Common sense would dictate, especially if you're going into areas where you have a dug-in enemy and you're saying, we're going to take you on now, there is a real possibility of -- in the short run -- more violence. We do not want people to think that the enemy simply is going to run away. This is going to be a time where Iraqi and U.S. forces are going very seriously after those who have tried to destabilize the democracy -- Al Qaeda in Anbar, a variety of different groups and organizations within Baghdad proper. So we are certainly
-- we're going to acknowledge the fact that this creates a prospect of greater violence in the short run.
Q The President, himself, is not going to measure success based on increased violence that may occur, and he doesn't want the American people to do that?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, but I think -- what ultimately -- you've got a whole series of things. First, let's take a look at Iraqi commitments and fulfilling those. Let's take a look, also, at what happens on the civil front. Then you're going to have to take a look at the fact that knowing that there is likely going to be some increased violence in the short run, are we going to lead to the point where you end up subduing those who are committing acts of violence, and at the same time, forcing those who might either be inclined not to play active roles in supporting the government, or might be inclined to try to go along with the bad actors -- have them -- force them to make a choice.
That has been part of the calculus all along. But the problem is, there has not been consequence for bad behavior in many cases, and now there has to be consequences, and those consequences have to be clear, and they have to be clear enough that people are going to make decisions on their own about which path they're going to pursue.
In many cases, the failure to provide security within Baghdad encouraged people to make their own deals -- either to say, we think this militia is going to be more effective, we think this criminal band is going to be effective, this group of rejectionists -- they're going to protect me. That is an unacceptable situation. Ultimately, it is absolutely essential to build the confidence in the security forces, including the police, so that people will make the choice to support the government, rather than to cast their lot with those who are actively undermining.
Q To clarify, what is "short run"?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What do you mean short run?
Q In the President's mind?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, what is short run in your mind? It's one of those --
Q It doesn't make any difference to me. The American people -- said they're skeptical, there's lack of patience.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Right. And the President is going to talk about that. But if you're trying to define a term that vague, I think it's less useful. What's going to be primarily useful -- and again, I apologize --
Q He's Commander-in-Chief. He has to have a --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me finish the answer, and then I hope it will be useful to you. The fact is there is not going to be a fact sheet that says "the definition of short run is." We're already telling you that on February 1st we expect there to be a brigade, an Iraqi brigade in Baghdad, and two more by the 15th. You can expect to see operations.
As a matter of fact, you've already seen in recent days stepped up activity led by the Iraqis within Baghdad. And that's the kind of thing you're going to need to see. So I think what you're asking -- I honestly don't know how to answer the question because, to me, it's less on point than, what does the President propose to do, how does he see these pieces fitting together. And it's really answering the questions, why do you think it's different this time around; how do you expect it to work -- these are questions that we're going to be getting a lot of.
I apologize. I've got to get going here in a minute. But let me make a couple of points to everybody, and you can feel free to contact us during the course of the day because we want to be as helpful as possible. We'll get fact sheets out because we've really scratched the surface of a lot of things that are going on.
Let me just back up to what my colleague did at the beginning. There has been a long process of taking a very hard look and looking at each and every alternative -- every alternative -- and people have spent a lot of time looking through them. And they've come up with a comprehensive plan that deals with a lot of different elements of the situation in Iran [sic], including regionally, locally, economically, diplomatically and so on -- sorry, Iraq. Thank you. And as a consequence there's going to be a lot to chew on when you do get these sheets. And I'm sorry they're not ready yet.
Q Is this a rejection of the Iraq Study Group's report?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. As a matter of fact, you're going to find that an enormous percentage of what the Iraq Study Group has proposed is in here. Just giving you, for instance the notion of embedding -- as a matter of fact, it was interesting, because there was apparently rejected in -- or changed in a very late draft of the Iraq Study Group report something that said, we think you ought to -- a lot of the things in terms of embedding and doing these things may require increases in troops to be effective.
So I think you're going to find that -- as a matter of fact, we should have something available soon that matches up a lot of the ISG stuff. A lot of that is reflected -- as a matter of fact, a lot of the comments and a lot of the suggestions people have made have been incorporated into this report and we have valued a lot of the input.
I apologize, I have another obligation I have to meet. Feel free to call and get in touch with us and we'll get stuff to you soon.
Q How long is it? How long is the --
Q Will there be excerpts?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We are hoping -- we will get excerpts -- we're going to try to get things to you earlier than you're accustomed to receiving them, but I will not make a direct promise on times at this juncture.
Q How long is it?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Length of the speech looks to be --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Twenty, yes, it's about 20.
Q And tomorrow you're going to do briefings, too?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Tomorrow we'll have some briefings that will be useful to you.
Posted: Jan 11 2007, 02:38 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
9:01 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Tonight in Iraq, the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged in a struggle that will determine the direction of the global war on terror -- and our safety here at home. The new strategy I outline tonight will change America's course in Iraq, and help us succeed in the fight against terror.
When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly 12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation. The elections of 2005 were a stunning achievement. We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together, and that as we trained Iraqi security forces we could accomplish our mission with fewer American troops.
But in 2006, the opposite happened. The violence in Iraq -- particularly in Baghdad -- overwhelmed the political gains the Iraqis had made. Al Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's elections posed for their cause, and they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis. They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam -- the Golden Mosque of Samarra -- in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate. Their strategy worked. Radical Shia elements, some supported by Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today.
The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people -- and it is unacceptable to me. Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.
It is clear that we need to change our strategy in Iraq. So my national security team, military commanders, and diplomats conducted a comprehensive review. We consulted members of Congress from both parties, our allies abroad, and distinguished outside experts. We benefitted from the thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton. In our discussions, we all agreed that there is no magic formula for success in Iraq. And one message came through loud and clear: Failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States.
The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions. Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Our enemies would have a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the American people. On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities. For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq.
The most urgent priority for success in Iraq is security, especially in Baghdad. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of the capital. This violence is splitting Baghdad into sectarian enclaves, and shaking the confidence of all Iraqis. Only Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.
Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have. Our military commanders reviewed the new Iraqi plan to ensure that it addressed these mistakes. They report that it does. They also report that this plan can work.
Now let me explain the main elements of this effort: The Iraqi government will appoint a military commander and two deputy commanders for their capital. The Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi Army and National Police brigades across Baghdad's nine districts. When these forces are fully deployed, there will be 18 Iraqi Army and National Police brigades committed to this effort, along with local police. These Iraqi forces will operate from local police stations -- conducting patrols and setting up checkpoints, and going door-to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents.
This is a strong commitment. But for it to succeed, our commanders say the Iraqis will need our help. So America will change our strategy to help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence and bring security to the people of Baghdad. This will require increasing American force levels. So I've committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. The vast majority of them -- five brigades -- will be deployed to Baghdad. These troops will work alongside Iraqi units and be embedded in their formations. Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.
Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Well, here are the differences: In earlier operations, Iraqi and American forces cleared many neighborhoods of terrorists and insurgents, but when our forces moved on to other targets, the killers returned. This time, we'll have the force levels we need to hold the areas that have been cleared. In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter those neighborhoods -- and Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated.
I've made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people -- and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act. The Prime Minister understands this. Here is what he told his people just last week: "The Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation."
This new strategy will not yield an immediate end to suicide bombings, assassinations, or IED attacks. Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering. Yet over time, we can expect to see Iraqi troops chasing down murderers, fewer brazen acts of terror, and growing trust and cooperation from Baghdad's residents. When this happens, daily life will improve, Iraqis will gain confidence in their leaders, and the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas. Most of Iraq's Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace -- and reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.
A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.
To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution.
America will change our approach to help the Iraqi government as it works to meet these benchmarks. In keeping with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, we will increase the embedding of American advisers in Iraqi Army units, and partner a coalition brigade with every Iraqi Army division. We will help the Iraqis build a larger and better-equipped army, and we will accelerate the training of Iraqi forces, which remains the essential U.S. security mission in Iraq. We will give our commanders and civilians greater flexibility to spend funds for economic assistance. We will double the number of provincial reconstruction teams. These teams bring together military and civilian experts to help local Iraqi communities pursue reconciliation, strengthen the moderates, and speed the transition to Iraqi self-reliance. And Secretary Rice will soon appoint a reconstruction coordinator in Baghdad to ensure better results for economic assistance being spent in Iraq.
As we make these changes, we will continue to pursue al Qaeda and foreign fighters. Al Qaeda is still active in Iraq. Its home base is Anbar Province. Al Qaeda has helped make Anbar the most violent area of Iraq outside the capital. A captured al Qaeda document describes the terrorists' plan to infiltrate and seize control of the province. This would bring al Qaeda closer to its goals of taking down Iraq's democracy, building a radical Islamic empire, and launching new attacks on the United States at home and abroad.
Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing al Qaeda leaders, and they are protecting the local population. Recently, local tribal leaders have begun to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda. And as a result, our commanders believe we have an opportunity to deal a serious blow to the terrorists. So I have given orders to increase American forces in Anbar Province by 4,000 troops. These troops will work with Iraqi and tribal forces to keep up the pressure on the terrorists. America's men and women in uniform took away al Qaeda's safe haven in Afghanistan -- and we will not allow them to re-establish it in Iraq.
Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.
We're also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence-sharing and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region.
We will use America's full diplomatic resources to rally support for Iraq from nations throughout the Middle East. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States need to understand that an American defeat in Iraq would create a new sanctuary for extremists and a strategic threat to their survival. These nations have a stake in a successful Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors, and they must step up their support for Iraq's unity government. We endorse the Iraqi government's call to finalize an International Compact that will bring new economic assistance in exchange for greater economic reform. And on Friday, Secretary Rice will leave for the region, to build support for Iraq and continue the urgent diplomacy required to help bring peace to the Middle East.
The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy, by advancing liberty across a troubled region. It is in the interests of the United States to stand with the brave men and women who are risking their lives to claim their freedom, and to help them as they work to raise up just and hopeful societies across the Middle East.
From Afghanistan to Lebanon to the Palestinian Territories, millions of ordinary people are sick of the violence, and want a future of peace and opportunity for their children. And they are looking at Iraq. They want to know: Will America withdraw and yield the future of that country to the extremists, or will we stand with the Iraqis who have made the choice for freedom?
The changes I have outlined tonight are aimed at ensuring the survival of a young democracy that is fighting for its life in a part of the world of enormous importance to American security. Let me be clear: The terrorists and insurgents in Iraq are without conscience, and they will make the year ahead bloody and violent. Even if our new strategy works exactly as planned, deadly acts of violence will continue -- and we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties. The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success. I believe that it will.
Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship. But victory in Iraq will bring something new in the Arab world -- a functioning democracy that polices its territory, upholds the rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties, and answers to its people. A democratic Iraq will not be perfect. But it will be a country that fights terrorists instead of harboring them -- and it will help bring a future of peace and security for our children and our grandchildren.
This new approach comes after consultations with Congress about the different courses we could take in Iraq. Many are concerned that the Iraqis are becoming too dependent on the United States, and therefore, our policy should focus on protecting Iraq's borders and hunting down al Qaeda. Their solution is to scale back America's efforts in Baghdad -- or announce the phased withdrawal of our combat forces. We carefully considered these proposals. And we concluded that to step back now would force a collapse of the Iraqi government, tear the country apart, and result in mass killings on an unimaginable scale. Such a scenario would result in our troops being forced to stay in Iraq even longer, and confront an enemy that is even more lethal. If we increase our support at this crucial moment, and help the Iraqis break the current cycle of violence, we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home.
In the days ahead, my national security team will fully brief Congress on our new strategy. If members have improvements that can be made, we will make them. If circumstances change, we will adjust. Honorable people have different views, and they will voice their criticisms. It is fair to hold our views up to scrutiny. And all involved have a responsibility to explain how the path they propose would be more likely to succeed.
Acting on the good advice of Senator Joe Lieberman and other key members of Congress, we will form a new, bipartisan working group that will help us come together across party lines to win the war on terror. This group will meet regularly with me and my administration; it will help strengthen our relationship with Congress. We can begin by working together to increase the size of the active Army and Marine Corps, so that America has the Armed Forces we need for the 21st century. We also need to examine ways to mobilize talented American civilians to deploy overseas, where they can help build democratic institutions in communities and nations recovering from war and tyranny.
In these dangerous times, the United States is blessed to have extraordinary and selfless men and women willing to step forward and defend us. These young Americans understand that our cause in Iraq is noble and necessary -- and that the advance of freedom is the calling of our time. They serve far from their families, who make the quiet sacrifices of lonely holidays and empty chairs at the dinner table. They have watched their comrades give their lives to ensure our liberty. We mourn the loss of every fallen American -- and we owe it to them to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.
Fellow citizens: The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve. It can be tempting to think that America can put aside the burdens of freedom. Yet times of testing reveal the character of a nation. And throughout our history, Americans have always defied the pessimists and seen our faith in freedom redeemed. Now America is engaged in a new struggle that will set the course for a new century. We can, and we will, prevail.
We go forward with trust that the Author of Liberty will guide us through these trying hours. Thank you and good night.
END 9:21 P.M. EST
Posted: Jan 11 2007, 02:39 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 11, 2007
Press Gaggle by Gordon Johndroe
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Fort Benning, Georgia
12:01 P.M. EST
MR. JOHNDROE: Good morning. The President had his regular morning briefings, then presented the Medal of Honor posthumously to Marine Corporal Jason L. Dunham, the story of an American hero who made the ultimate sacrifice, and the President has spoken at length about that today, and also when he was at the Marine Corps Museum opening.
The President spoke a little while ago to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. They talked about the speech last night, the way forward in Iraq, Secretary Rice's upcoming trip, and important regional issues.
We're on our way to Fort Benning, Georgia, now. This is the President's first visit here. He'll have lunch with about 300 military personnel and family members, deliver remarks to them, then view a demonstration of infantry training, with an emphasis on airborne and mechanized infantry systems. In 2005, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division based at Fort Benning conducted 24,000 combat patrols and 3,500 joint U.S.-Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police operations. About 4,000 members of the unit will deploy to Iraq in the coming months. The President will then meet with 25 families of fallen military personnel.
On board today are Congressman Sanford Bishop and Lynn Westmoreland.
A couple of other announcements. The President will participate in an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS News to air on 60 Minutes this Sunday night.
And Mrs. Bush will travel to Paris, France on January 14th through 17th to speak at Mrs. Chirac's Missing and Exploited Children conference. Mrs. Bush will discuss how education is a crucial part of reducing the exploitation of women and children. Mrs. Bush will lead a delegation of U.S. government officials involved in successful efforts here in the U.S. aimed at preventing the exploitation of women and children and prosecuting offenders. Mrs. Bush, who serves as UNESCO's honorary ambassador for the Decade of Literacy, will also visit UNESCO's headquarters in Paris. Mrs. Bush will be briefed on their efforts regarding the critical issue of teacher training and their plans for upcoming regional global literacy conferences as a follow-up to the White House Conference on Global Literacy held during the week of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City this past September.
And with that, I'm happy to answer your questions.
Q I just have a quick question about the deployment. We've been reporting that it's -- they're going earlier, the 3rd Brigade is going earlier. Is that accurate?
MR. JOHNDROE: The Department of Defense will have some announcements today on the deployment schedule that includes the --
Q They were already supposed to go, right?
MR. JOHNDROE: -- that includes the group the President is seeing today.
Q So it does affect them?
MR. JOHNDROE: Yes, it does.
Q They're going this month, then, or this week, or next week?
MR. JOHNDROE: The Department of Defense has a specific schedule they're releasing today, and I'd defer to them.
Q Are they going earlier than they thought?
MR. JOHNDROE: Yes.
Q Can you preview a little bit of what the President is going to say today to the troops?
MR. JOHNDROE: The President is going to, one, thank them for their service in the global war on terror -- personnel from Fort Benning have, one, a long tradition of being deployed overseas in battles for the United States, but most recently in the global war on terror in Afghanistan and in Iraq -- thank them for their service; thank the family members that are here for the sacrifices they make when their loved one is overseas. And then he's going to talk about his speech last night and the mission he outlined and the way ahead in Iraq.
Q How concerned is the President about losing Republican support on the Hill? I think you had Coleman and, yesterday, Brownback, surprisingly, one of the conservatives, saying -- Voinovich and others -- how concerned -- is there any concern around the White House about that?
MR. JOHNDROE: You know, we understand that people are going to be skeptical. We've said that --
Q But they're opposed, not skeptical.
MR. JOHNDROE: We've said that ourselves. I hope they will take a look at the details of the President's plan. I hope they will listen to Secretaries Rice and Gates and Chairman Pace, who are up on the Hill testifying today and tomorrow, and take a look at what actions Prime Minister Maliki and the Iraqis are taking in Baghdad. This is the beginning of new operations and of the new way forward. So let's give them the -- hopefully they will take the opportunity to look at all these things that are happening on the ground.
Q Gordon, Democrats were already complaining about the planning before it came out. But some of these same Democrats -- like Reid, Pelosi, Biden, Kerry -- had all called for an increase in troops over the last couple of years. What does the White House think about the tone of the debate so far, with Democrats disliking the plan even before it came out?
MR. JOHNDROE: I'm sorry, what was the last part of your question?
Q Just the tone of the debate so far. I mean, the tone -- you know, will there be bipartisan support? How will -- how will the White House handle what's happening already with the Democrats?
MR. JOHNDROE: You know, President Bush and the White House engaged in extensive consultations. Over 100 members of Congress came down to the White House in the last few weeks. These are consultations that really began right after the election. And we want to work with the Congress on the way ahead in Iraq. That's why the Secretaries and Chairman Pace are up there testifying today. And we think they will ask tough questions today. But these are the type of tough questions that we were asking as we were putting the policy together. And so we understand some of the concerns, but we want to work with them.
Q One last question. There's some concern about the operation in Iraq last night that involved some Iranian nationals, that this could be construed as an act of war, going on sovereign territory. Can you respond? What's the President's thought about that?
MR. JOHNDROE: I can't -- I'm not going to speak specifically to the Iranians and to that operation today. But the President made it clear last night that we will not tolerate outside interference in Iraq. And that's what the Iranians are up to. And if we get information that is actionable that the Iranians are interfering with Iraq, with Iraqis, or in any way going to harm Americans that we're going to take action.
Q Even if it means going on Iranian soil?
MR. JOHNDROE: No, Chairman Pace said this morning that these are actions that take place within Iraq, and much of this is about force protection of our troops there, and that takes place inside Iraq.
Q Gordon, one more on Saudi Arabia. Can you characterize the discussion that he had? Because in May, the President said he wanted more regional help -- Saudi Arabia, others in the region, to weigh in on this. Now it's January; we haven't seen that yet. Is he pushing for more action on that side?
MR. JOHNDROE: One of the things the President and His Majesty spoke about was Secretary Rice's upcoming trip to the region, which begins tomorrow. And so she's going there to have numerous meetings, and let's see the results, outcomes of those discussions. She'll be coming back and will report to the President. But I think everyone in the region understands what is at stake and what needs to be done.
Q Did he call him, or did the King call --
MR. JOHNDROE: It was a mutually arranged phone call.
Posted: Jan 11 2007, 02:40 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 11, 2007
Religious Freedom Day, 2007
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America
On Religious Freedom Day, we commemorate the passage of the 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, authored by Thomas Jefferson, and we celebrate the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom.
Across the centuries, people have come to America seeking to worship the Almighty freely. Today, our citizens profess many different faiths, and we welcome every religion. Yet people in many countries live without the freedom to worship as they choose and some face persecution for their beliefs. My Administration is working with our friends and allies around the globe to advance common values and spread the blessings of liberty to every corner of the world. Freedom is a gift from the Almighty, written in the heart and soul of every man, woman, and child, and we must continue to promote the importance of religious freedom at home and abroad.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 16, 2007, as Religious Freedom Day. I call on all Americans to reflect on the great blessing of religious liberty, endeavor to preserve this freedom for future generations, and commemorate this day with appropriate events and activities in their schools, places of worship, neighborhoods, and homes.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eleventh day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.
GEORGE W. BUSH
Posted: Jan 12 2007, 05:25 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
MR. SNOW: Welcome. The President's schedule -- the President is in Camp David; you've seen the rest of the day ahead schedule. Just a couple of announcements and then I'll take your questions.
First, there is a Medicare prescription drug bill that's making its way through the House, H.R. 4. Both the Congressional Budget Office and the Department of Health and Human Services -- their actuaries say the bill is going to have little or no effect on federal spending and provide no substantial savings to the government or Medicare beneficiaries. We have a Medicare prescription drug reform that has been saving people significant amounts of money, it is effective. If this bill is presented to the President, he will veto it.
As far as earmark reform, the President has also talked about earmark reform. And he said that any good earmark reform has to meet four objectives. Number one, it has to address -- well, actually five -- it has to address all earmarks, and it has to make it clear who is proposing the earmarks, where the money is going, how much money is going, and why. The Senate is taking a look at an earmark bill that really doesn't do that. As a matter of fact, it doesn't disclose earmarks for federal entities, it doesn't address the practice of concealing earmarks in report language, it doesn't ensure that there is going to be a reduction in the number and cost of earmarks. As you know, the President says at least 50 percent reduction in the number and cost.
Senator Jim DeMint estimates that of 12,000 earmarks right now under the Senate proposal that is being discussed, 11,500 of those would be exempted. Now, all of those need to be under consideration. So in any event, the President remains committed to earmark reform, but to real earmark reform.
Also, I want to address kind of a rumor, an urban legend that's going around -- and it comes from language in the President's Wednesday night address to the nation, that in talking about Iran and Syria, that he was trying to prepare the way for war with either country and that there are war preparations underway: There are not. What the President was talking about is defending American forces within Iraq and also doing what we can to disrupt networks that might be trying to convey weapons or fighters into battle theaters within Iraq to kill Americans and Iraqis.
As regards Iran, the United States is using diplomatic measures right now to address concerns -- including Iran's nuclear program. We've been working with the United Nations Security Council, recently got a chapter seven resolution. So this is something that is very important to push back, because I know there's been a lot of speculation about it. Let me just try to put that to rest once and for all.
Q Tony, were you, were other senior White House officials dismayed about the plan's reception on Capitol Hill yesterday and today? What's the reaction, the feeling behind closed doors?
MR. SNOW: I don't think we're terribly surprised. I mean, you knew going in that there was going to be opposition, and you knew that a lot of people had made public statements about the commitment of additional forces to Iraq. But on the other hand, what we now expect is people actually look at the plan.
Americans -- I think if you say, if things have been going along as before and you just put more troops into the situation and into a strategy that we said wasn't working, we wouldn't support it. But, instead, the President's proposal involves a whole series of changes that are designed to make the Iraqi efforts not only more effective, but also more prominent, so that Americans are going to have confidence that the Iraqis themselves are stepping up and taking lead roles in everything from combat operations to reconstruction to diplomatic outreach. That has to happen, and Americans want to see it -- and if there wasn't some doctrinal change in the way in which we conducted counter-insurgency efforts, but there is. So now comes a time when members of Congress are going to have an opportunity to look at it.
Let me also add, Bret, that funding for the forces and to dispatch them to the region, it's already in the budget. So we're going to proceed with those plans. And what's going to be interesting is the members of Congress are going to have an opportunity to see how things are working in the next months ahead. And at that point, they'll also be able to make judgments as we get closer to the time to look at some real legislative effort.
Q Well, on that point, Secretary Gates was asked repeatedly yesterday and today, when will we know whether this is working. And his answer was, in about two months we should know whether the Iraqis are really meeting up with their commitments. So in two months' time, will this administration kind of do another review to see if what they've done is actually working?
MR. SNOW: I think we've tried to make the point that we continue to do reviews all the time. And so there is constant monitoring of the situation. It's not as if you say, okay, we're going to sit back and just wait for two months. We talk every day with the embassy in Baghdad, there is constant interaction with the commanding general and others on the ground. So I think it's important to realize that there is consistent and constant monitoring of the situation, and we'll continue to make adjustments.
And let me also reiterate what we've been saying all along with members of Congress. Most members of Congress come to the White House and said, we think it's vital to succeed in Iraq. They understand what the stakes are. And they also say, we want there to be success for the Iraqi government. If they don't think is the best way to do it, we do want to hear what they have to say. We have listened to and analyzed proposals throughout the entire range of possibilities. And we will continue to listen to people, because the chief objective here is to succeed in Iraq. And if people are proposing things in the spirit of good will and constructively, that's going to be an important addition. And those who think they have a better way, I think have an obligation to step up and share it.
Q You say the Congress is going to have a chance to look at the President's plan. Members heard the President Wednesday night, and yesterday they heard from the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, and there's a lot of opposition to this plan. It's not like they're still going to look at it; they don't like it, many of them.
MR. SNOW: I'm not sure that they've been able to take a look at all aspects. A number of things have been leaked out. But, for instance, the roles that the Iraqis would play, the way in which the Iraqis would be working together, furthermore a discussion of the fact that when Iraqi -- U.S. support battalions are not going to move into Baghdad until the Iraqis have gotten there first. I mean, there are a whole series of steps in here that seem to answer a lot of the concerns members of Congress have had. They said, okay, you need to -- we need proof that the Iraqis are stepping forward; we need a demonstration that the Iraqis care about this more than we do. And I think that's an important thing to do.
What I'm telling you, Terry, is that there is a natural reaction of people to say, you've said that the old way wasn't working; are you just throwing more troops in a way that doesn't work? And the answer is, no. So what we're inviting people to do now is -- we've heard their original reaction -- spend some time looking through the proposal. And we understand that there's going to be discussion. But I think it's worth giving the entire range of policies that the President has put together, look at them as a package. We expect people are going to have opposition. I also expect that if you do see progress that a number of those members of Congress are going to say, okay, they're going to look at it fairly, too. They're going to want to see what happens.
Q Everyone from the President on down has said that this depends on the cooperation of the Iraqis. And yet, to date, nothing has been heard from al Maliki, as far as I know. He's declined to endorse this, though invited to do so. There's no expression of enthusiasm over there.
MR. SNOW: Well, no, that's not true. As matter of fact, the Prime Minister, as I pointed out, on Wednesday he talked in a very forward-leaning direction about going after militias, and he mentioned the Sadrists by name. On Thursday he mentioned Muqtada al Sadr. I'm sorry, that -- yes, Wednesday and Thursday. Then yesterday, his press spokesman, in the weekly briefing, talked about the fact that they have been working with the Americans and that as the plan moves forward it is in concert with the Iraqi government. But there's also another --
Q But he's declined to speak about it.
MR. SNOW: No, and I'm glad you raise that, because that's urban legend number two of the day. And I think some news organizations that have reported this are prepared now to issue corrections.
He did not decline. He was never scheduled to make comments about it yesterday. It was his spokesman's normal weekly briefing. And somehow that has been reported or misreported as the Prime Minister not showing up for a briefing.
Q Sure, but wouldn't you think that under the circumstances, with all of the rollout that's gone on here, that you would want the principal ally to endorse this in the most public and positive way?
MR. SNOW: You know, you've got an interesting political dynamics. You can turn it around and say the Iraqis have made clear their support. And, implicitly, the Prime Minister not only has talked about key elements in a way that I think addresses key American concerns, there has also been very aggressive action within Baghdad proper that demonstrate that there, in fact, are new ways of coordinated operations with the Americans and the Iraqis going after dangerous places within Baghdad. That is not only walking the walk, it's talking the talk, and he's doing both.
The Prime Minister -- you also have to ask, do you want the Prime Minister to -- do you want to treat him as a sovereign head of state? And the answer is, yes. And he has made it clear that he's cooperating with the program, and he's also made it clear, I think through his words and deeds, that he's addressing key American concerns, such as saying to Shia militias, you're not exempt. And he's done it by name. He's talked about the Sadrs, he's talked about Muqtada al Sadr. You know, you can forward your recommendations for more effective PR in Washington.
Q Was he asked to embrace the American plan in public?
MR. SNOW: This is -- no.
Q Nobody in this administration asked him to make some public endorsement of the President's strategy?
MR. SNOW: I don't think so. I can double-check for you, but I'm not aware of anybody calling up and saying, will you please give a speech. But, again, what you have is the day of, the day after, and also a subsequent briefing by his press spokesman that go into this, that are supportive of the plan.
Q But when so many people are concerned about how much the al Maliki government will be responsive, I think Bill's point is there seems to be a bit of a void in hearing from him after?
MR. SNOW: No, I think what you're saying is he's not responding to the U.S. press corps. What he's doing is, he's responding to the Iraqi public. He's the sovereign head of state in Iraq. And what he's been talking about the last couple of days were what his constituents want to hear about -- and that's everything from pension reform, to going ahead and moving aggressively against terrorists in Baghdad and elsewhere. So he is answering the key questions that his people have been asking. And certainly his spokesman was supportive of U.S. efforts yesterday when asked by the press.
We're going to hear from the Prime Minister. There are going to be opportunities for this.
Q One more.
MR. SNOW: Yes, sure.
Q Maybe two more, actually. When you made reference to "there's already funding in the budget," a lot of Congress members are talking about using the power of the purse. Could you be a little bit more explicit about what funding already exists to enact this --
MR. SNOW: Well, this is -- I mean, we have ongoing military operations financed until later this year, and this is a part of ongoing military operations. Later in the year, members of Congress will look at a supplemental budget appropriation that covers all military operations. We've already mentioned the incremental military costs of what the President has proposed is $5.6 billion. That is a tiny faction of the overall appropriation that Congress will consider. And like I said, let's see how the debate unfolds.
Q And one more, on urban myth number one. You're not saying that there are not currently battle plans available to the Pentagon for Syria and Iran?
MR. SNOW: I just don't know. There's lots of war gaming. What I'm saying is that this notion that somehow what the President was announcing was a precursor to planned military action -- a planned war against Iran, that's just not the case.
Q In that connection, did the President give orders to invade the offices of the Iranians and to go into Somalia? And what right do we have to do that?
MR. SNOW: Number one, we don't comment about ongoing military operations. There have been --
Q Is it ongoing, or is it over?
MR. SNOW: You're talking about where?
Q In the case of Iran.
MR. SNOW: Well, I think what you have was -- what has been reported are actions -- and I'm not going to comment beyond what's been reported publicly -- there have been actions in the northern part of Iraq against something that was originally misreported as an official government facility for the Iranians, and it was not.
Q What was it?
MR. SNOW: It apparently was sort of a liaison place where some Iranians would occasionally come.
Q Well, if it was official liaison for Iran --
MR. SNOW: No, it was not an official office, and that at least has been the characterization we've gotten out of Iraq.
Q Aren't you splitting hairs?
MR. SNOW: I don't think so. There's a big difference.
Q And what right do we have to do this?
MR. SNOW: Well, the real question, Helen, is, do you want somebody to intercept those who are trying to kill Americans in Iraq?
Q I'm asking you, what right do we have to be there --
MR. SNOW: I've just answered your question.
Q -- and I don't think it's right for you to turn around --
MR. SNOW: Okay. Then I'll answer the question. It's important to go after people who are trying to kill Americans.
Q Is that their purpose? I mean, or are they in Iraq to help Iraqis?
MR. SNOW: People have made considered judgments about this, and apparently --
Q Why do you keep saying everybody wants to go kill everybody.
MR. SNOW: I think you're the one -- what do you mean, everybody wants to kill everybody? We're not saying that. But we are saying that when somebody gets intelligence that there are efforts to place in jeopardy the lives of Americans, the lives of Iraqis and destabilize the government, that's an important consideration.
Q How about the Somalia announcement?
MR. SNOW: That I can't comment on.
Q Tony, a quick question. The ongoing global war against terrorism, President's war he started on 9/11 and beyond in Afghanistan, you think this has come out of (inaudible) bin Laden's name in many of the briefings by intelligence officials. You think President is frustrated that we still don't have Osama bin Laden? Or how is he being briefed on this, because this is the main -- he said that he will be brought to justice.
MR. SNOW: We have confidence that eventually he will be. Meanwhile, we have not heard a lot from Osama bin Laden. He certainly does not play as prominent a role in the war on terror. He's somebody who remains a target of concern. But at the same time, you've seen al Qaeda has, in many ways, been weakened in terms of its old structure. Now it's adopting new methods where you do have more localized operations.
So bin Laden, of course, is important, but it's also important as you conduct the war on terror to continue to look at all the changes that take place, and again, responding to the changing nature of the threat and the evolving nature of the threat.
Q Tony, on the congressional reaction, didn't you think that not only was it very skeptical, but in some cases very hostile to the President's package, the questioning that was put to both Secretaries Rice and Gates?
MR. SNOW: I think that's a pretty accurate characterization.
Q Even among some Republicans? Are you disturbed by that?
MR. SNOW: Again, you've got to understand, a lot of people are skeptical, and especially they want to find out -- there are several questions they want answered. One is what the Iraqis are doing. And I think it's probably also important to start explaining why it is important to be in Iraq. I think as people begin to look at it -- here you've had members of Congress say, it's vital to win there. Well, the question is, why? And there are a series of reasons why.
Geographically, Iraq is right at the center of the war on terror. You've got Iran to the east, number one global sponsor of terror. You've got Syria to the west, headquarters to a lot of terrorist organizations. But beyond that -- and I've made this point many times, but it's worth developing a little further -- if you have a vacuum that is filled by terror in Iraq, you not only have a staging ground for terrorists, but you have access to the world's second-largest oil reserves, which also gives terrorists access to enormous amounts of wealth that they do not presently possess, and as a result allows them to go on the market and develop even more lethal capabilities, which, in many cases, they've said they're going to aim at us and they're going to aim at European allies.
But it goes even further than that. Suppose now that you're in the neighborhood and you are the Saudis or you're in the Gulf states or a number of oil-producing states, and you traditionally look to the United States for security. You're going to be making your own calculation: Can I rely on the Americans or do I need to cut a separate deal? And if you cut separate deals, that not only raises security interests, but if somebody should decide, for reasons of economic warfare -- and bin Laden had talked often about committing acts of economic warfare -- you also have the possibility of their banding together and saying, we're going to put an embargo on the United States; we're going to jack up the price. There are also economic risks.
So the number -- what happens is you start with one set of risks, and they tend to develop others. And I think Americans -- once you start laying that out, they realize their personal security and their economic security are bound up in the ultimate result of what goes on in Iraq. And members of Congress understand this, which is why their first sense is "and we agree we have to succeed in Iraq."
I think we need to make the point more forcefully so people understand that, and then we're willing to draw on the expertise of everybody to figure out the best way to have that success.
Q But when someone of Senator Hagel's standing says it's the biggest blunder since Vietnam --
MR. SNOW: Well, Senator Hagel has been opposed to this pretty much from the start, so, I mean, it's a pretty good line. But the follow-on question is, then what do you do -- and we're interested in hearing; we've made outreach to Senator Hagel on a number of occasions -- what do you do to ensure the security of America and what do you do to ensure the success of Iraq?
Q You seem to be making a case that if the surge strategy fails we should go in and seize the oil fields, keep them out of the hands --
MR. SNOW: No, I'm not making that case at all. As a matter of fact, I'm not -- I have deliberately not entertained the "if the surge fails," because the whole purpose -- number one, it's a -- I don't know that I like the term "surge." I guess Bob Gates may have used it the other day, but it's -- you've got one battalion now, one in a month, another in a month, another in a month, another in a month -- that's not -- you've got -- or it's strengthening. What did I say? You've got brigades going in, one a at a time.
And so -- and see, Helen's got her favorite term, it's "escalation." You've got "surge." (Laughter.) No, surge is not a term I've ever used. But the point is you're trying to add strength to the forces in Iraq so that they're going to be successful in taking out sectarian violence and also al Qaeda violence, so that you have the conditions under which people can pursue the important business of political reconciliation and economic development. You've got to have all of them.
But if you've got the equivalent of an ongoing riot in Baghdad, with constant violence, you're not going to have the conditions for political achievements. And so, therefore, you've got to put all those pieces together. But I am not -- please, please, please -- trying to signal seizing oil fields or any of that sort of stuff.
Q Tony, by pointing out that the money is already in the budget and you're going to go ahead, it seems to be saying, we're just going to go ahead with our plan for the rest of the year. So what relevance does the administration attach to the congressional debate and the public debate?
MR. SNOW: Oh, we think it's very important, and we welcome the debate. Look, if you take a look at the congressional debate, there actually is a substantial amount of agreement. It seems to me that the locus of this agreement is, do you put 20,000, 21,500, do you put the troops in or not. If you ask the question, do you need to succeed, the answer is yes. If you ask the question, should the Iraqis be taking the lead, the answer is yes. Should the Iraqis be pushing for greater political reconciliation, in terms of the hydrocarbon law, de-Baathification reforms, parliamentary reforms, the answer is, yes, we're pursuing that.
Do you think you ought to be concentrating on economic development as a way of building hope and opportunity in the long run? The answer is yes. Do you think the State Department and U.S. civilian agencies ought to be working in the provinces to develop those capabilities? The answer is yes. There is support for all of those activities, so it does seem -- we are fixed on the debate about troop levels, and yet all the other elements, including the diplomatic pieces -- do you bring the neighbors in, do you try to work through diplomatic means to address problems with Iran and Syria -- the answer to all those is yes. And I don't see anybody in Congress disagreeing with a single one of those items.
So now you narrow the debate down to a couple of simple questions. You have as your basis the desire to succeed. You ask yourself, can the Iraqis do it all by themselves right now? If the answer is yes, then, okay, bring everybody home. If the answer is no, the answer is what do you do to try to build that capacity so Americans can come home. And that becomes the focal point of the debate.
So, again, very substantial against on a lot of the key elements in this package. And that's why I say as people begin to look at it, they're going to see that we, in fact, have adopted a lot of the views, including trying to do some political reconciliation here at home by reaching out across party and House Senate boundaries to try to make sure that we stay in touch with people -- including those who disagree with us -- to hear what they have to say, and what advice they have to offer.
Q So you think the criticism is just going to blow over, then?
MR. SNOW: No, no, no. We'll have to see what happens. Look, I expect there to be considerable skepticism for some time because what we have is a plan, but people want to see results. And they want to see results reflected in the increased engagement of Iraq. They want to see real efforts to make sure that the Iraqi government is going after the sources of violence, whether they be Sunni or Shia, or al Qaeda in the case of Anbar province. And those are things that people are not going to see overnight.
As we have said, there's a likelihood that once you have contact and once you have more aggressive action in Baghdad and elsewhere, there's likely to be violent reaction because certainly the people who are trying to bring the government down are not going to go quietly into the night.
But on the other hand, the American people want to see action. They want to see effective action. And they want to see effective action with Iraqis credibly in the lead, and so do the Iraqis. The Prime Minister has made this clear repeatedly. And so now is the time for his government to demonstrate it. And the President said that the other night. He said the Americans -- that this nation's patience is not unlimited. It is limited and people are going to want to see it.
So I expect there to be continued expressions of skepticism until people see some change. And the measures that we have outlined are not things that necessarily are going to happen overnight -- some of these are going to take weeks or months to get in train.
Q Tony, you talked about political reconciliation here at home, and you've also said that if critics of the plan don't like it, they should come up with an alternative. But the fact is that the Iraq Study Group produced a report that created political reconciliation here at home, and that many of the critics of the President's plan have embraced it. When the report came out, the study group was very specific in saying this is a comprehensive plan, it needs to be adopted in its entirety for it to work. So what was it about that plan that the President didn't like?
MR. SNOW: Well, there were some areas in which we disagreed, and the Iraq Study Group is coming out with a comment. But, Sheryl, you're trying to have it both ways. Members of Congress right now who are criticizing what we did were even more vociferous in their criticism of Baker-Hamilton. What we have done -- if you take a look at page 73, where it talks about building capabilities, putting Iraqis in the lead, and there was even some talk about "a surge," that's in there. When it talks about the need to do a regional diplomatic strategy, that is in there. What we don't have -- we take a different view on how you approach the problem of Iran and Syria. The Syrians and the Iranians know what we want.
Q Well, that --
MR. SNOW: That's a key element. And so you find that the areas of disagreement, again, are fairly narrow here. And if you go looking through it -- and we're putting together a document; I'll be happy to share it with you -- there are substantial areas in which we agree with the Baker-Hamilton commission report, but I think you'll also recall that on Capitol Hill, people said, we're all going to take a look at each and every part, and there was some pretty stern criticism from Democrats and Republicans.
The most important thing is that the Baker-Hamilton commission, as I said at the time, did set a very good role model, in terms of cooperation and good will, and the fact is -- it's interesting, you're saying, is the President saying, take it or leave it? The President is the one who makes the decisions, and the Baker-Hamilton commission certainly gave a lot of very valuable advice, much of which is incorporated into the President's plan, and frankly a number of other people on the outside, their recommendations have also been incorporated into this.
Q Let me read to you from their statement. I think the differences on Iran and Syria are clear, and have always been clear, but they say, "The President did not suggest the possibility of a transition that could enable U.S. combat forces to begin to leave Iraq. The President did not state that political, military or economic support for Iraq would be conditional on the Iraqi government's ability to meet benchmarks." I think that is critical, and why didn't he do that?
MR. SNOW: Well, there are two things. I'm not so sure the President didn't make it clear to the Iraqis that they have to deliver. But you also have a problem, Sheryl, if you say, if you do not take this specified action by this time, we're going to cut you off. If I'm a terrorist, what I'd do is I'd just sit back.
There's a little bit of difficulty -- you create a moral hazard problem if you try to be -- if you try to be too definitive in saying "this by this date," because what you end up doing is that you give your opponents the possibility of giving the impression of good behavior without having terrorists addressed directly, and therefore they have the opportunity to wait it out and then wage greater acts of terror in the future.
On the other hand, I think that you'll find that the recommendations that the President has made, and also the tone of his speech is pretty consistent with the aims of the Iraq Study Group.
Q Tony, can I come back to the money question? How late in the year do you figure you have the money for --
MR. SNOW: I don't know. We'll have to ask the congressional -- that's a good question. I don't have an answer.
Q It's not all the way through the year?
MR. SNOW: No, no, no, no. I think it's in May or June, I think.
Q But in effect, you're saying to those on Capitol Hill who would consider a vote for cutting off funding, it's moot?
MR. SNOW: No. Look, they're going to have to make their votes. Again, at some point, the way you do this is they'll have an opportunity to have votes later in the year, and they'll have to make their decisions. It's interesting because I don't think -- and maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but I don't think that there are a huge number of people that say, we're going to cut it off. There have been some, and some serious voices, like Senator Kennedy. But that's a debate members of Congress have to have. And the answer is, if you want to cut it off, explain why, and also explain how you're going to explain that to the forces in the field, and how you think that also is going to influence America's larger standing in the world.
Again, a lot of times there seems to be the impression -- you need to expand the vision beyond the narrow strand or Pennsylvania Avenue that separates the White House from the Capitol building, because things like this do have ramifications in terms of how our allies view us and our strength and credibility in the region. And I think members of Congress will be debating this.
Look, we are in the very early stages of what promises to be a vigorous, sometimes emotional, but overall constructive debate. We need to have this debate, and we need to get into the details, and we need to talk about all the possible ramifications. And so I think it's all healthy. I don't want to discourage it, and frankly it's certainly not my role to discourage members of Congress from expressing their opinions.
And when it takes a firmer shape -- when I was dancing around last week about the plan, I couldn't answer direct questions because things hadn't taken shape -- we're in a little bit of that situation right now, too, when it comes to what's going on, on Capitol Hill, because there's talk of resolutions and so on. But I think at this point members of Congress are still trying to assess all the parts of the President's package and figure out what they may wish to say, not only publicly, but if there is going to be some legislative action. I don't think they've made their way through that yet.
Q The brigades that you have spoken of sending over, you've got the money?
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q So it's moot. Any discussion right now of cutting off money --
MR. SNOW: I believe that's the case, I believe that's the case. I'll double-check, but I believe that's the case.
Q This is following up on that. It would be short of Senator Kennedy's resolution de-authorizing use of force over there. And at this point, there's no option available to Congress in the short-term if the money --
MR. SNOW: I don't know. That is a question beyond my -- if Congress wants to try it, we can address that. I just, I honestly don't understand the legal or constitutional implications of all that.
Q Tony, if, indeed, there needs to be more of a political component, why not keep the troops as they were, instead of increasing the troop effort there to support the Iraqis? Why not just focus mostly on the political aspect?
MR. SNOW: Well, as I said, it's very difficult to focus on the political aspect when you have violence and bloodshed occurring all about you. You do have to have a certain amount of peace so that people can calmly and in good will work through some of the tougher issues before them.
That's not an atmosphere -- I think you'll agree -- because I get question after question every day, what about the escalating violence in Baghdad; how can you possibly survive? The question then is, do you think that is an atmosphere in which you are going to be able to move forward on political matters? The answer is, believe it or not, they've been managing to do it anyway. But on the other hand, it is important to be able to build trust so that people are not worried about their life and livelihood.
And, furthermore, April, one of the key elements in political reconciliation is the belief on the part of the Iraqis that their government is going to represent their interests and defend their rights regardless of who they are -- it's not going to pick favorites. There is skepticism in some parts of Iraq that the government is protecting some and not protecting others, and in that atmosphere you cannot move forward, you have to build the baseline confidence in the government and its institutions in order to proceed with those talks. I think that's a matter of common sense.
Q But, Tony, the President in his speech said words like "failed." And if there was a failure militarily, why send more U.S. troops into harm's way, instead of just taking that component, realizing there's a failure there, and moving --
MR. SNOW: Because if you do not have an improvement in the situation, you will not have the necessities and the basics for doing the political. The two work together. You have to make the -- you have to address the security situation so you can complete the work of security. Look, it appears that the Iraqis are moving rapidly toward passing the hydrocarbon law. That is great. It appears that they are working on deBaathification. It appears that they are working on the election reforms.
But you still have the ultimate question of legitimacy, are they going to protect me or are they going to protect my interests? And if you have some people in the country who believe that their own government is not going to protect them, so that they have to rely on a militia for their safety, or they have to rely on armed bands, or they have to rely on armed groups of Saddamists and rejectionists, then you don't have the basis for the kind of political reconciliation you have to have, and you have to develop that fundamental faith that the government that you are talking about you view as your government, and not as a hostile force.
Q And the last one on this, military experts have said we will not -- we have not and will not win militarily.
MR. SNOW: Yes, we've always said that. We have always said that this is not strictly a military operation. Ultimately, you've got to create the conditions --
Q But they've said we've lost militarily.
MR. SNOW: There have been -- no, it's interesting, there are some who say we are losing, but we can win; there are some who talk about how dire it is. And there is no denying the fact that there is an unacceptable level of violence, particularly in Baghdad, also in Anbar. Although as we've mentioned in recent days, there has been significant progress in Anbar, and we need to make sure that we conclude the deal.
But you go back to the public statements of General Casey or General Abizaid or even the President, we have always said that military action is a way of trying to create the conditions of peace so that you can go ahead and finish the political work.
And what also is different about this plan, you talked about putting U.S. forces in harm's way, what we're really doing is we're putting Iraqis in the lead. And you take a look at it, you've got Iraqi battalions. They're going to number in the thousands -- I mean Iraqi brigades -- and U.S. battalions in the hundreds, which are going to be doing a lot of training and organization. But in the key elements of asserting force, the Iraqis are going to be in the lead.
And, furthermore, what you have is a plan in which you make sure that you've got at hand the resources necessary to meet possible contingencies. So, again, I think it's worth mulling over the elements of the plan. And a lot of this, the American public quite rightly says, look, we've got to see it. And that's a fair request.
Q Does the administration care what's in the hydrocarbon law? Or you just want them to have a hydrocarbon law?
MR. SNOW: Ken, you care what's in the hydrocarbon law. And there's --
Q What's in it?
MR. SNOW: Well, the hydrocarbon law is one that treats oil and natural gas revenues as a natural resource -- national resource and distributes the proceeds throughout the country.
Q Is that a nationalized oil industry?
MR. SNOW: No, what it does, though, is it does collect at a national level the profits. We have -- it's no more a nationalized oil industry than the hydrocarbon law in Alaska makes Alaska a fiefdom of petro-socialism. (Laughter.)
Q That would look nice on a license plate, I'm sure. (Laughter.) Is there opportunity for American oil companies in Iraq?
MR. SNOW: I don't know. I suspect there's going to be opportunity. Part of the Iraq Compact is inviting bidding on business throughout Iraq from around the world. So I don't have a clear answer to that.
Q Thank you. Tony, Defense Secretary Gates wants 92,000 more soldiers and Marines. Where is he going to get them? And is there any desire to bring back the draft?
MR. SNOW: The answer to the second is no. And the answer to the first is, you recruit them.
Q In the new strategy, what does the President believe needs to be done in Sadr, personally?
MR. SNOW: That is a question that the Iraqis have to answer, and rightfully so. The idea that the United States is going to play sheriff or say, this is the target you need to hit, that's inappropriate for us.
I will point you back to what the Prime Minister has said, which is you cannot accept the existence within Iraq of groups operating outside of the law. Again, that's the term of art for militias and other armed bands that commit acts of violence and otherwise try to usurp government authority. And he has singled out Muqtada al Sadr and the Sadrists, as he called them, specifically.
So it is up to the Iraqis to make the moves. And I think a lot of people are looking to see that Shia and Sunni alike -- those who are committing acts of violence and weakening the government, that they are equally held to account. And that's one of the things that a lot of Americans want to see. We are not going to tell the Iraqi government or the commanders in Baghdad whom they ought to be targeting. That is their responsibility.
Q Why is that? Why is that a red light? I mean, we're advising and working together with the Iraqis on all sorts of things.
MR. SNOW: Well, we continue to. But you don't issue orders. And the fact is, Iraq is a sovereign government. I guarantee you, a story comes out, "U.S. says get X." It makes the government look like a puppet. And the fact is you've got a sovereign government, and we are working not only off a plan that they have proposed, but we are doing so in such a way that you have an Iraqi commander over the entirety of Baghdad. You have deputies over the operations on each side of the Tigris River. You divide it up into nine districts, where the Iraqis are going to be in the lead in each of the nine districts.
I think it is incumbent upon us to support the Iraqis, rather than to try to say, well, we'll really run the country and you just follow along. That is not a way to recognize the sovereignty of that government.
Q Tony, I had two on Iran. One is the Patriots that are being deployed, those are new Patriot batteries. They're not things that were planned before. What --
MR. SNOW: The Pentagon is the place to go for answering those types of questions.
Q What country other than Iran in the region could they be meant to --
MR. SNOW: As I said, I'll just send you off to the Pentagon for those.
Q And could you give us an idea of what kinds of things the United States is doing differently regarding those networks in Iran and Syria?
MR. SNOW: No.
Q Not even the -- I mean, the kinds of things in general?
MR. SNOW: No. I think the last thing you want to do is to say, we're going to try to disrupt networks and let us tell you how, networks. We live in a world of global communications, and so, no, I can't.
Q Tony, thank you. Two domestics, if that's possible, two domestic --
MR. SNOW: That would be domestic issues?
Q Yes. (Laughter.)
Q We're housekeepers. (Laughter.)
MR. SNOW: I just wanted to be clear on this.
Q Right. What is the White House reaction to The Washington Times reporting that our National Guard troops in the Mexican border near Sasabe, Arizona being required to be disarmed, and who had to evacuate due to incursions by armed Mexicans?
MR. SNOW: Talk to the Border Patrol about that. I don't know.
Q But what is the White House -- that's what -- I want to know what is the White House reaction?
MR. SNOW: I understand that the White House -- the reaction of the press secretary is, ask the Border Patrol.
Q Okay. A nationally syndicated columnist, Phyllis Schlafly, reports the following, and this is a quote: "President Bush pardoned 16 criminals, including five drug dealers, at Christmastime, but so far has refused to pardon two U.S. Border Patrol agents who were trying to defend America against drug smugglers." And my question: If Mrs. Schlafly was at all inaccurate in this statement, you would surely rebut, wouldn't you?
MR. SNOW: Well, there are a couple of things. First, I'm not at liberty to comment about proceedings with regard to pardons. She's referring to a case where, at least according to the facts presented in court, you had an incident in which there was an attempt to pull somebody over. He finally got pulled over; somebody holds out a gun. Sort of scuffling ensues. And what happens is you've got a fellow running away, and a couple of agents eventually in pursuit, firing 14 shots at him -- I think 15, actually. Fourteen by one agent missed, one did strike him in the fleshy hindquarters. He eventually made his way into Mexico.
Now, at the time this happened, they did not know if he was an illegal. They did not know that there were 700 pounds of marijuana. They didn't know any of those things. But instead you had this. They also had received arms training the day before that said if you have an incident like this, you must preserve the evidence and you must report it promptly. Instead, according to court documents, they went around and picked up the shell casings. Furthermore, they asked one of their colleagues also to help pick up shell casings. They disposed of them.
They eventually went before a grand jury -- or before a jury -- and were convicted on 11 of 12 counts, by a U.S. attorney who has prosecuted any number of cases. But the facts of this case are such that I would invite everybody to take a full look at the documented record. This is not the case of the United States saying, we are not going to support people who go after drug dealers. Of course we are. We think it's incumbent to go after drug dealers, and we also think that it's vitally important to make sure that we provide border security so our people are secure. We also believe that the people who are working to secure that border themselves obey the law. And in a court of law, these two agents were convicted on 11 of 12 counts by a jury of their peers after a lengthy trial at which they did have the opportunity to make their case.
Now, they also have rights of appeal. So I don't want to be acting here as -- I'm not going to be judge and jury, but I do think that there's been a characterization that somehow the government is turning a blind eye toward the law in enforcing the law. And, Les, I think that's the important thing. So take a look at the facts of the case.
Q I was going to answer, the only one thing is that the man that was shot in the fleshy --
MR. SNOW: Hindquarters.
Q -- hindquarters, they went down to Mexico and brought him back.
MR. SNOW: To testify.
Q Yes. Even though they had found all those drugs. Now, does that -- is that -- does the President approve of that?
MR. SNOW: Again, that takes us into different legal grounds, and I think you ought to contact legal authorities to get it. But you asked me a different question to begin, and I gave you the answer.
Q Thank you.
Q Back on Iraq real quick. On the sectarian flare up possibility, two of the Iraqi army brigades are supposed to be mostly Kurdish, Peshmerga turned Iraqi army. They're going to be going into Shiite neighborhoods. Then you have the Iraqi police -- nine of the Iraqi police brigades, a lot of those are Shia that we had problems with before. How does the President look at this Iraqi influx and see something that is less sectarian than it was before?
MR. SNOW: Look, Iraq is a country that has Kurds, it has Shia, it has Sunnis, and it has others. And if the nation is going to work effectively, each has to have faith in the other. You have two Iraqi army brigades, not exclusively, but they do include a fair number of Kurds in both of them. The question is, do they operate effectively? Do they gain the trust and faith?
Keep in mind the model we're talking about here, Bret, as they go into neighborhoods, and they're there 24/7. They gain the trust of the local population by going door to door and talking with people. It's not door to door to rouse them out, but to do confidence-building measures, and to do law enforcement, similarly with police units.
We have made absolutely clear the fact that we think that there have been real problems, corruption and violence on the part of police -- and I've said it many times from this podium. But you have to assume that the Iraqis now understand the importance of performing. And. therefore, you need to give them a chance. You cannot say, we're only going to send Shia into Shia neighborhoods and only Sunni into Sunni neighborhoods, because in that way, it ends up being self defeating. You have to operate in a way that's certainly going to be sensitive and smart. But on the other hand, you have to understand ultimately the result in Iraq is going to be that all the major groups understand, appreciate, and respect the rights of one another.
Q And so the President's confidence on this comes from his talks with Maliki, and Maliki's confidence --
MR. SNOW: Well, you're going to have -- look, the President understands that these guys are going to have to demonstrate. And so we're going to find out whether they're -- whether they are going to be able to fulfill their part of the -- their responsibilities here.
Q Week ahead.
MR. SNOW: Oh, week ahead, I'm sorry. Thank you. Week ahead, week ahead, week ahead.
Q And anything on the Greek embassy?
MR. SNOW: Greek embassy, all we know is that there was something described as a rocket. I don't know exactly what that means. It was fired through a window just next to the shield in front of the embassy, hit a toilet at a little before 6:00 a.m. Nobody was injured. I think it's an isolated incident, and they're investigating -- the Greek government is investigating, and so is the U.S. government.
Okay, week ahead. Nothing on the public schedule for Monday.
Tuesday the President will meet in the Oval Office with the Secretary General of the United Nations. And the St. Louis Cardinals will be in the East Room; the President will greet them.
On Wednesday there will be a visit to the National Institutes of Health and a roundtable discussion there. That's in Bethesda.
MR. SNOW: Health care. National Institutes of Health.
There is travel to be announced on Thursday, and nothing at this juncture to announce on Friday. And that is the week ahead.
Q What's the radio address about tomorrow?
MR. SNOW: Radio address is about the way forward, it's about the --
MR. SNOW: Yes, about Iraq and the plan the President has --
Q Is there an NSC meeting tomorrow morning?
MR. SNOW: I don't think so.
Q Why is he not doing anything on Monday on --
MR. SNOW: I didn't say that. I just said there's no public schedule at this juncture.
Q Why is he coming back from Camp David tomorrow?
MR. SNOW: Because he wishes to.
MS. PERINO: I think they have a private dinner on Saturday night, and Mrs. Bush leaves for Paris on Sunday.
MR. SNOW: Yes, that's right, thank you. Private dinner on Saturday, and Mrs. Bush heads to Paris on Sunday. Thank heavens for Perino.
Q Tony, what about Secretary Rice's trip, what the President is hoping she'll accomplish.
MR. SNOW: I think --
Q You said, "thank you."
MR. SNOW: Yes. Give Sean a call over at State. He'll be able to give you a better fill on that.
Posted: Jan 13 2007, 01:26 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 13, 2007
President's Radio Address
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. On Wednesday night, I addressed the Nation from the White House to lay out a new strategy that will help Iraq's democratic government succeed.
America's new strategy comes after a difficult year in Iraq. In 2006, the terrorists and insurgents fought to reverse the extraordinary democratic gains the Iraqis have made. In February, the extremists bombed a holy Shia mosque in a deliberate effort to provoke reprisals that would set off a sectarian conflict. They succeeded, and the ongoing sectarian violence, especially in Baghdad, is making all other progress difficult.
Only the Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. Their leaders understand this, and they are stepping forward to do it. But they need our help, and it is in our interests to provide that help. The changes in our strategy will help the Iraqis in four main areas:
First, we will help the Iraqis execute their aggressive plan to secure their capital. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of Baghdad. The new plan to secure Baghdad fixes the problems that prevented previous operations from succeeding. This time, there will be adequate Iraqi and U.S. forces to hold the areas that have been cleared, including more Iraqi forces and five additional brigades of American troops committed to Baghdad. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter neighborhoods that are home to those fueling sectarian violence. Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference with security operations will not be tolerated.
Second, America will step up the fight against al Qaeda in its home base in Iraq -- Anbar province. Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing al Qaeda leaders, and protecting the local population. Recently, local tribal leaders have begun to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda. And as a result, our commanders believe we have an opportunity to deal a serious blow to the terrorists, so I've given orders to increase American forces in Anbar province by 4,000 troops. These troops will work with Iraqi and tribal forces to increase the pressure on the terrorists. America's men and women in uniform took away al Qaeda's safe haven in Afghanistan, and we will not allow them to reestablish it in Iraq.
Third, America will hold the Iraqi government to benchmarks it has announced. These include taking responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November, passing legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis, and spending $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction projects that will create new jobs. These are strong commitments. And the Iraqi government knows that it must meet them, or lose the support of the Iraqi and the American people.
Fourth, America will expand our military and diplomatic efforts to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. We will address the problem of Iran and Syria allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. We will encourage countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf states to increase their economic assistance to Iraq. Secretary Rice has gone to the region to continue the urgent diplomacy required to help bring peace to the Middle East.
My national security team is now making our case on Capitol Hill. We recognize that many members of Congress are skeptical. Some say our approach is really just more troops for the same strategy. In fact, we have a new strategy with a new mission: helping secure the population, especially in Baghdad. Our plan puts Iraqis in the lead.
Others worry that we are pursuing a purely military solution that makes a political solution less likely. In fact, the sectarian violence is the main obstacle to a political solution, and the best way to help the Iraqis reach this solution is to help them put down this violence.
Members of Congress have a right to express their views, and express them forcefully. But those who refuse to give this plan a chance to work have an obligation to offer an alternative that has a better chance for success. To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible.
Whatever our differences on strategy and tactics, we all have a duty to ensure that our troops have what they need to succeed. Thousands of young men and women are preparing to join an important mission that will in large part determine the outcome in Iraq. Our brave troops should not have to wonder if their leaders in Washington will give them what they need. I urge members of Congress to fulfill their responsibilities, make their views known, and to always support our men and women in harm's way.
Thank you for listening.
Posted: Jan 21 2007, 02:40 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. For many Americans, the new year began with a resolution to live a better and healthier life. Whatever goals you have set for yourself this year, one goal we can all share is reforming our Nation's health care system.
Americans are fortunate to have the best health care system in the world. The government has an important role to play in our system. We have an obligation to provide care for the most vulnerable members of our society -- the elderly, the disabled, and poor children and their parents. We are meeting this responsibility through Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children's Health Insurance Program. We must strengthen these vital programs so that they are around when future generations need them.
For all other Americans, private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs. But rising health care costs are making insurance too expensive for millions of our citizens. Health care costs are growing more than two times faster than wages, and this is making it harder for working families to buy insurance on their own. Rising costs are also making it harder for small businesses to offer health coverage to their employees. Our challenge is clear: We must address these rising costs, so that more Americans can afford basic health insurance. And we need to do it without creating a new Federal entitlement program or raising taxes.
Our Nation is making progress toward this goal. We created Health Savings Accounts, which empower patients and can reduce the cost of coverage. We are working to pass Association Health Plans, so that small businesses can insure their workers at the favorable discounts that big businesses get. We must pass medical liability reform, so we can stop the junk lawsuits that drive costs through the roof and good doctors out of practice. We've taken important steps to increase transparency in health care pricing, and give patients more information about the quality of their doctors and hospitals.
One of the most promising ways to make private health insurance more affordable is by reforming the Federal tax code. Today, the tax code unfairly penalizes people who do not get health insurance through their job. It unwisely encourages workers to choose overly expensive, gold-plated plans. The result is that insurance premiums rise, and many Americans cannot afford the coverage they need.
We need to fix these problems, and one way to do so is to treat health insurance more like home ownership. The current tax code encourages home ownership by allowing you to deduct the interest on your mortgage from your taxes. We can reform the tax code, so that it provides a similar incentive for you to buy health insurance. So in my State of the Union Address next Tuesday, I will propose a tax reform designed to help make basic private health insurance more affordable -- whether you get it through your job or on your own.
As we reform the Federal tax code, we will also support the innovative measures that states are taking to address the problem of the uninsured. Governors across the Nation have put forward plans to make basic private health insurance more accessible for their citizens. When I go before Congress next week, I will announce a new effort -- led by Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt -- to help governors reduce the number of people in their states without private health insurance.
All of these changes are based on a clear principle: Health insurance should be available, it should be affordable, and it should put you and your doctor in charge of your medical decisions. I look forward to working with Congress to pass the initiatives that I lay out next week, so we can help millions more Americans enjoy better care, new choices, and healthier lives.
Thank you for listening.
Posted: Jan 24 2007, 02:19 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. And tonight, I have a high privilege and distinct honor of my own -- as the first President to begin the State of the Union message with these words: Madam Speaker. (Applause.)
In his day, the late Congressman Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr. from Baltimore, Maryland, saw Presidents Roosevelt and Truman at this rostrum. But nothing could compare with the sight of his only daughter, Nancy, presiding tonight as Speaker of the House of Representatives. (Applause.) Congratulations, Madam Speaker. (Applause.)
Two members of the House and Senate are not with us tonight, and we pray for the recovery and speedy return of Senator Tim Johnson and Congressman Charlie Norwood. (Applause.)
Madam Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
The rite of custom brings us together at a defining hour -- when decisions are hard and courage is needed. We enter the year 2007 with large endeavors underway, and others that are ours to begin. In all of this, much is asked of us. We must have the will to face difficult challenges and determined enemies -- and the wisdom to face them together.
Some in this chamber are new to the House and the Senate -- and I congratulate the Democrat majority. (Applause.) Congress has changed, but not our responsibilities. Each of us is guided by our own convictions -- and to these we must stay faithful. Yet we're all held to the same standards, and called to serve the same good purposes: To extend this nation's prosperity; to spend the people's money wisely; to solve problems, not leave them to future generations; to guard America against all evil; and to keep faith with those we have sent forth to defend us. (Applause.)
We're not the first to come here with a government divided and uncertainty in the air. Like many before us, we can work through our differences, and achieve big things for the American people. Our citizens don't much care which side of the aisle we sit on -- as long as we're willing to cross that aisle when there is work to be done. (Applause.) Our job is to make life better for our fellow Americans, and to help them to build a future of hope and opportunity -- and this is the business before us tonight.
A future of hope and opportunity begins with a growing economy -- and that is what we have. We're now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth, in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs -- so far. Unemployment is low, inflation is low, and wages are rising. This economy is on the move, and our job is to keep it that way, not with more government, but with more enterprise. (Applause.)
Next week, I'll deliver a full report on the state of our economy. Tonight, I want to discuss three economic reforms that deserve to be priorities for this Congress.
First, we must balance the federal budget. (Applause.) We can do so without raising taxes. (Applause.) What we need to do is impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C. We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009, and met that goal three years ahead of schedule. (Applause.) Now let us take the next step. In the coming weeks, I will submit a budget that eliminates the federal deficit within the next five years. (Applause.) I ask you to make the same commitment. Together, we can restrain the spending appetite of the federal government, and we can balance the federal budget. (Applause.)
Next, there is the matter of earmarks. These special interest items are often slipped into bills at the last hour -- when not even C-SPAN is watching. (Laughter.) In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion. Even worse, over 90 percent of earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and Senate -- they are dropped into committee reports that are not even part of the bill that arrives on my desk. You didn't vote them into law. I didn't sign them into law. Yet, they're treated as if they have the force of law. The time has come to end this practice. So let us work together to reform the budget process, expose every earmark to the light of day and to a vote in Congress, and cut the number and cost of earmarks at least in half by the end of this session. (Applause.)
And, finally, to keep this economy strong we must take on the challenge of entitlements. Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid are commitments of conscience, and so it is our duty to keep them permanently sound. Yet, we're failing in that duty. And this failure will one day leave our children with three bad options: huge tax increases, huge deficits, or huge and immediate cuts in benefits. Everyone in this chamber knows this to be true -- yet somehow we have not found it in ourselves to act. So let us work together and do it now. With enough good sense and goodwill, you and I can fix Medicare and Medicaid -- and save Social Security. (Applause.)
Spreading opportunity and hope in America also requires public schools that give children the knowledge and character they need in life. Five years ago, we rose above partisan differences to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, preserving local control, raising standards, and holding those schools accountable for results. And because we acted, students are performing better in reading and math, and minority students are closing the achievement gap.
Now the task is to build on the success, without watering down standards, without taking control from local communities, and without backsliding and calling it reform. We can lift student achievement even higher by giving local leaders flexibility to turn around failing schools, and by giving families with children stuck in failing schools the right to choose someplace better. (Applause.) We must increase funds for students who struggle -- and make sure these children get the special help they need. (Applause.) And we can make sure our children are prepared for the jobs of the future and our country is more competitive by strengthening math and science skills. The No Child Left Behind Act has worked for America's children -- and I ask Congress to reauthorize this good law. (Applause.)
A future of hope and opportunity requires that all our citizens have affordable and available health care. (Applause.) When it comes to health care, government has an obligation to care for the elderly, the disabled, and poor children. And we will meet those responsibilities. For all other Americans, private health insurance is the best way to meet their needs. (Applause.) But many Americans cannot afford a health insurance policy.
And so tonight, I propose two new initiatives to help more Americans afford their own insurance. First, I propose a standard tax deduction for health insurance that will be like the standard tax deduction for dependents. Families with health insurance will pay no income on payroll tax -- or payroll taxes on $15,000 of their income. Single Americans with health insurance will pay no income or payroll taxes on $7,500 of their income. With this reform, more than 100 million men, women, and children who are now covered by employer-provided insurance will benefit from lower tax bills. At the same time, this reform will level the playing field for those who do not get health insurance through their job. For Americans who now purchase health insurance on their own, this proposal would mean a substantial tax savings -- $4,500 for a family of four making $60,000 a year. And for the millions of other Americans who have no health insurance at all, this deduction would help put a basic private health insurance plan within their reach. Changing the tax code is a vital and necessary step to making health care affordable for more Americans. (Applause.)
My second proposal is to help the states that are coming up with innovative ways to cover the uninsured. States that make basic private health insurance available to all their citizens should receive federal funds to help them provide this coverage to the poor and the sick. I have asked the Secretary of Health and Human Services to work with Congress to take existing federal funds and use them to create "Affordable Choices" grants. These grants would give our nation's governors more money and more flexibility to get private health insurance to those most in need.
There are many other ways that Congress can help. We need to expand Health Savings Accounts. (Applause.) We need to help small businesses through Association Health Plans. (Applause.) We need to reduce costs and medical errors with better information technology. (Applause.) We will encourage price transparency. And to protect good doctors from junk lawsuits, we passing medical liability reform. (Applause.) In all we do, we must remember that the best health care decisions are made not by government and insurance companies, but by patients and their doctors. (Applause.)
Extending hope and opportunity in our country requires an immigration system worthy of America -- with laws that are fair and borders that are secure. When laws and borders are routinely violated, this harms the interests of our country. To secure our border, we're doubling the size of the Border Patrol, and funding new infrastructure and technology.
Yet even with all these steps, we cannot fully secure the border unless we take pressure off the border -- and that requires a temporary worker program. We should establish a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis. As a result, they won't have to try to sneak in, and that will leave Border Agents free to chase down drug smugglers and criminals and terrorists. (Applause.) We'll enforce our immigration laws at the work site and give employers the tools to verify the legal status of their workers, so there's no excuse left for violating the law. (Applause.)
We need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals. (Applause.) We need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country without animosity and without amnesty. (Applause.) Convictions run deep in this Capitol when it comes to immigration. Let us have a serious, civil, and conclusive debate, so that you can pass, and I can sign, comprehensive immigration reform into law. (Applause.)
Extending hope and opportunity depends on a stable supply of energy that keeps America's economy running and America's environment clean. For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists -- who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments, and raise the price of oil, and do great harm to our economy.
It's in our vital interest to diversify America's energy supply -- the way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power, by even greater use of clean coal technology, solar and wind energy, and clean, safe nuclear power. (Applause.) We need to press on with battery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles, and expand the use of clean diesel vehicles and biodiesel fuel. (Applause.) We must continue investing in new methods of producing ethanol -- (applause) -- using everything from wood chips to grasses, to agricultural wastes.
We made a lot of progress, thanks to good policies here in Washington and the strong response of the market. And now even more dramatic advances are within reach. Tonight, I ask Congress to join me in pursuing a great goal. Let us build on the work we've done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next 10 years. (Applause.) When we do that we will have cut our total imports by the equivalent of three-quarters of all the oil we now import from the Middle East.
To reach this goal, we must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory fuels standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 -- and that is nearly five times the current target. (Applause.) At the same time, we need to reform and modernize fuel economy standards for cars the way we did for light trucks -- and conserve up to 8.5 billion more gallons of gasoline by 2017.
Achieving these ambitious goals will dramatically reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but it's not going to eliminate it. And so as we continue to diversify our fuel supply, we must step up domestic oil production in environmentally sensitive ways. (Applause.) And to further protect America against severe disruptions to our oil supply, I ask Congress to double the current capacity of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. (Applause.)
America is on the verge of technological breakthroughs that will enable us to live our lives less dependent on oil. And these technologies will help us be better stewards of the environment, and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change. (Applause.)
A future of hope and opportunity requires a fair, impartial system of justice. The lives of our citizens across our nation are affected by the outcome of cases pending in our federal courts. We have a shared obligation to ensure that the federal courts have enough judges to hear those cases and deliver timely rulings. As President, I have a duty to nominate qualified men and women to vacancies on the federal bench. And the United States Senate has a duty, as well, to give those nominees a fair hearing, and a prompt up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. (Applause.)
For all of us in this room, there is no higher responsibility than to protect the people of this country from danger. Five years have come and gone since we saw the scenes and felt the sorrow that the terrorists can cause. We've had time to take stock of our situation. We've added many critical protections to guard the homeland. We know with certainty that the horrors of that September morning were just a glimpse of what the terrorists intend for us -- unless we stop them.
With the distance of time, we find ourselves debating the causes of conflict and the course we have followed. Such debates are essential when a great democracy faces great questions. Yet one question has surely been settled: that to win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy. (Applause.)
From the start, America and our allies have protected our people by staying on the offense. The enemy knows that the days of comfortable sanctuary, easy movement, steady financing, and free flowing communications are long over. For the terrorists, life since 9/11 has never been the same.
Our success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen. We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented, but here is some of what we do know: We stopped an al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We broke up a Southeast Asian terror cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States. We uncovered an al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America. And just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean. For each life saved, we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave public servants who devote their lives to finding the terrorists and stopping them. (Applause.)
Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world. And so long as that's the case, America is still a nation at war.
In the mind of the terrorist, this war began well before September the 11th, and will not end until their radical vision is fulfilled. And these past five years have given us a much clearer view of the nature of this enemy. Al Qaeda and its followers are Sunni extremists, possessed by hatred and commanded by a harsh and narrow ideology. Take almost any principle of civilization, and their goal is the opposite. They preach with threats, instruct with bullets and bombs, and promise paradise for the murder of the innocent.
Our enemies are quite explicit about their intentions. They want to overthrow moderate governments, and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country. By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology. Listen to this warning from the late terrorist Zarqawi: "We will sacrifice our blood and bodies to put an end to your dreams, and what is coming is even worse." Osama bin Laden declared: "Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us."
These men are not given to idle words, and they are just one camp in the Islamist radical movement. In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah -- a group second only to al Qaeda in the American lives it has taken.
The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat. Whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent they have the same wicked purposes. They want to kill Americans, kill democracy in the Middle East, and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale.
In the sixth year since our nation was attacked, I wish I could report to you that the dangers had ended. They have not. And so it remains the policy of this government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies, and to protect the American people. (Applause.)
This war is more than a clash of arms -- it is a decisive ideological struggle, and the security of our nation is in the balance. To prevail, we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred, and drove 19 men to get onto airplanes and to come and kill us. What every terrorist fears most is human freedom
-- societies where men and women make their own choices, answer to their own conscience, and live by their hopes instead of their resentments. Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies -- and most will choose a better way when they're given a chance. So we advance our own security interests by helping moderates and reformers and brave voices for democracy. The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity. And I say, for the sake of our own security, we must. (Applause.)
In the last two years, we've seen the desire for liberty in the broader Middle East -- and we have been sobered by the enemy's fierce reaction. In 2005, the world watched as the citizens of Lebanon raised the banner of the Cedar Revolution, they drove out the Syrian occupiers and chose new leaders in free elections. In 2005, the people of Afghanistan defied the terrorists and elected a democratic legislature. And in 2005, the Iraqi people held three national elections, choosing a transitional government, adopting the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world, and then electing a government under that constitution. Despite endless threats from the killers in their midst, nearly 12 million Iraqi citizens came out to vote in a show of hope and solidarity that we should never forget. (Applause.)
A thinking enemy watched all of these scenes, adjusted their tactics, and in 2006 they struck back. In Lebanon, assassins took the life of Pierre Gemayel, a prominent participant in the Cedar Revolution. Hezbollah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon's legitimately elected government. In Afghanistan, Taliban and al Qaeda fighters tried to regain power by regrouping and engaging Afghan and NATO forces. In Iraq, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam -- the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia -- and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.
This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we're in. Every one of us wishes this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. (Applause.) Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. Let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory. (Applause.)
We're carrying out a new strategy in Iraq -- a plan that demands more from Iraq's elected government, and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission. Our goal is a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law, respects the rights of its people, provides them security, and is an ally in the war on terror.
In order to make progress toward this goal, the Iraqi government must stop the sectarian violence in its capital. But the Iraqis are not yet ready to do this on their own. So we're deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq. The vast majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods, and serve as advisers embedded in Iraqi Army units. With Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down the terrorists, insurgents, and the roaming death squads. And in Anbar Province, where al Qaeda terrorists have gathered and local forces have begun showing a willingness to fight them, we're sending an additional 4,000 United States Marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out. (Applause.) We didn't drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.
The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now it's time for their government to act. Iraq's leaders know that our commitment is not open-ended. They have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad -- and they must do so. They pledged that they will confront violent radicals of any faction or political party -- and they need to follow through, and lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and coalition forces, so these troops can achieve their mission of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad. Iraq's leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks -- to achieve reconciliation, to share oil revenues among all of Iraq's citizens, to put the wealth of Iraq into the rebuilding of Iraq, to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's civic life, to hold local elections, and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province. But for all of this to happen, Baghdad must be secure. And our plan will help the Iraqi government take back its capital and make good on its commitments.
My fellow citizens, our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance for success. Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq, because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far-reaching.
If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country -- and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.
For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is the greatest ally -- their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger. (Applause.)
This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I have spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you've made. We went into this largely united, in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field, and those on their way. (Applause.)
The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others. And that's why it's important to work together so our nation can see this great effort through. Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation. It's why I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties. We will share ideas for how to position America to meet every challenge that confronts us. We'll show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory.
And one of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military so that the American Armed Forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. (Applause.) Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years. (Applause.) A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time.
Americans can have confidence in the outcome of this struggle because we're not in this struggle alone. We have a diplomatic strategy that is rallying the world to join in the fight against extremism. In Iraq, multinational forces are operating under a mandate from the United Nations. We're working with Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the Gulf States to increase support for Iraq's government.
The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran, and made it clear that the world will not allow the regime in Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons. (Applause.) With the other members of the Quartet -- the U.N., the European Union, and Russia -- we're pursuing diplomacy to help bring peace to the Holy Land, and pursuing the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security. (Applause.) In Afghanistan, NATO has taken the lead in turning back the Taliban and al Qaeda offensive -- the first time the Alliance has deployed forces outside the North Atlantic area. Together with our partners in China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, we're pursuing intensive diplomacy to achieve a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons. (Applause.)
We will continue to speak out for the cause of freedom in places like Cuba, Belarus, and Burma -- and continue to awaken the conscience of the world to save the people of Darfur. (Applause.)
American foreign policy is more than a matter of war and diplomacy. Our work in the world is also based on a timeless truth: To whom much is given, much is required. We hear the call to take on the challenges of hunger and poverty and disease -- and that is precisely what America is doing. We must continue to fight HIV/AIDS, especially on the continent of Africa. (Applause.) Because you funded our Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the number of people receiving life-saving drugs has grown from 50,000 to more than 800,000 in three short years. I ask you to continue funding our efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. I ask you to provide $1.2 billion over five years so we can combat malaria in 15 African countries. (Applause.)
I ask that you fund the Millennium Challenge Account, so that American aid reaches the people who need it, in nations where democracy is on the rise and corruption is in retreat. And let us continue to support the expanded trade and debt relief that are the best hope for lifting lives and eliminating poverty. (Applause.)
When America serves others in this way, we show the strength and generosity of our country. These deeds reflect the character of our people. The greatest strength we have is the heroic kindness, courage, and self-sacrifice of the American people. You see this spirit often if you know where to look -- and tonight we need only look above to the gallery.
Dikembe Mutombo grew up in Africa, amid great poverty and disease. He came to Georgetown University on a scholarship to study medicine -- but Coach John Thompson got a look at Dikembe and had a different idea. (Laughter.) Dikembe became a star in the NBA, and a citizen of the United States. But he never forgot the land of his birth, or the duty to share his blessings with others. He built a brand new hospital in his old hometown. A friend has said of this good-hearted man: "Mutombo believes that God has given him this opportunity to do great things." And we are proud to call this son of the Congo a citizen of the United States of America. (Applause.)
After her daughter was born, Julie Aigner-Clark searched for ways to share her love of music and art with her child. So she borrowed some equipment, and began filming children's videos in her basement. The Baby Einstein Company was born, and in just five years her business grew to more than $20 million in sales. In November 2001, Julie sold Baby Einstein to the Walt Disney Company, and with her help Baby Einstein has grown into a $200 million business. Julie represents the great enterprising spirit of America. And she is using her success to help others -- producing child safety videos with John Walsh of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Julie says of her new project: "I believe it's the most important thing that I have ever done. I believe that children have the right to live in a world that is safe." And so tonight, we are pleased to welcome this talented business entrepreneur and generous social entrepreneur -- Julie Aigner-Clark. (Applause.)
Three weeks ago, Wesley Autrey was waiting at a Harlem subway station with his two little girls, when he saw a man fall into the path of a train. With seconds to act, Wesley jumped onto the tracks, pulled the man into the space between the rails, and held him as the train passed right above their heads. He insists he's not a hero. He says: "We got guys and girls overseas dying for us to have our freedoms. We have got to show each other some love." There is something wonderful about a country that produces a brave and humble man like Wesley Autrey. (Applause.)
Tommy Rieman was a teenager pumping gas in Independence, Kentucky, when he enlisted in the United States Army. In December 2003, he was on a reconnaissance mission in Iraq when his team came under heavy enemy fire. From his Humvee, Sergeant Rieman returned fire; he used his body as a shield to protect his gunner. He was shot in the chest and arm, and received shrapnel wounds to his legs -- yet he refused medical attention, and stayed in the fight. He helped to repel a second attack, firing grenades at the enemy's position. For his exceptional courage, Sergeant Rieman was awarded the Silver Star. And like so many other Americans who have volunteered to defend us, he has earned the respect and the gratitude of our entire country. (Applause.)
In such courage and compassion, ladies and gentlemen, we see the spirit and character of America -- and these qualities are not in short supply. This is a decent and honorable country -- and resilient, too. We've been through a lot together. We've met challenges and faced dangers, and we know that more lie ahead. Yet we can go forward with confidence -- because the State of our Union is strong, our cause in the world is right, and tonight that cause goes on. God bless. (Applause.)
See you next year. Thank you for your prayers.
Posted: Jan 24 2007, 02:21 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 24, 2007
Press Gaggle by Dana Perino
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Wilmington, Delaware
9:27 A.M. EST
MS. PERINO: All right, we have a short flight to -- we have a short flight to Delaware. So I have a few announcements to make, and I'll take as many questions as possible, and we'll see as far as we can get. And then we'll be around the rest of the day if you need anything.
So the President had his normal briefings this morning. He will tour -- can you guys back these off just a little bit, thanks -- tour of DuPont Experimental Station. He will tour a greenhouse that will feature cellulosic energy research. He will make remarks. There's about 1,150 attendees -- mostly are made up of DuPont employees. Secretary Bodman is on the plane. He will introduce the President. Congressman Mike Castle is also on the plane.
At 1:00 p.m. today, the President will meet with -- I'm sorry, 1:10 p.m., the President meets with General Dan McNeil, incoming Commander for NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. The President will congratulate General McNeil on his appointment. He's the first American assigned to this important position. They will discuss the situation in Afghanistan and the importance of success in Afghanistan as it relates to the war on terror. The United States is fully committed to providing the necessary resources to President Karzai.
And at 5:00 p.m. -- this is an addition -- at 5:20 p.m. -- we didn't have it on the schedule last night -- it was on the schedule, we just didn't put it on the public schedule, but should have -- meeting with the Joint Chiefs and combatant commanders. This is an annual meeting. The meeting will be in the Cabinet Room, followed by a dinner in the residence, in the Yellow Oval. He traditionally hosts this every year, as I mentioned.
This year's meeting with the President takes place on the first day of their three-day conference. This is an opportunity for the President to commend the senior defense leaders for their hard work and accomplishments in fighting the war on terror, defending our homeland, and maintaining a strong joint force.
I expect they will discuss progress to date on the new Iraq strategy, and then the continued efforts in -- to counter the Taliban in Afghanistan. He'll also talk about budgetary issues and working with Congress to ensure that they have the needed support for DoD operations and key programs.
Secretary of Energy Sam Bodman will also be on "Ask the White House" this afternoon to discuss the President's State of the Union address last night and the energy policy that was proposed in that speech.
Q What times is that, Dana?
MS. PERINO: The "Ask the White House"?
MS. PERINO: At 4:00 p.m.
And last announcement is that this morning, the President signed an executive order that directs the federal government to lead by example in advancing the nation's energy security and environmental performance needs. It's an order that consolidates five existing executive orders and two memoranda, and then establishes new and updated goals, practices, and reporting requirements for environmental, energy, and transportation performance and accountability.
A couple of examples are, the increased use of alternate fuels, including more use of alternate fuel vehicles such as hybrids; reduce federal petroleum consumption in fleet vehicles by 2 percent per year through 2015, and increase use of non-petroleum-based fuels; and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing energy intensity by 3 percent a year, or 30 percent by 2015. And we will release that EO upon landing.
With that, I'll take any questions.
Q Dana, can you recap that the 5:20 p.m. meeting with the Joint Chiefs and combatant commanders, is that right?
MS. PERINO: Yes.
Q Is that annual --
MS. PERINO: Yes, the President traditionally hosts them every year. And so they're going to meet in the Cabinet Room, and then they'll have dinner in the Yellow Oval after.
Q Dana, now that the President has laid out his plans, particularly on health care and energy, requiring congressional action, what is his next step? What is he going to do now?
MS. PERINO: We were very pleased with the President's speech last night. We think that once people get past sort of the canned prebuttals of the State of the Union, and have a chance to look at the President's proposals, that we'll be able to have continuing dialogue with them.
I think that you saw some initial positive reaction on the energy piece. I think, collectively, everyone said, that might be something we can work on. If you think about it, over the years, there's been core bipartisan support for increased use of alternative fuels and renewable fuels. So that one is a little bit more ripe for a full-fledged discussion and to get hearings underway. It's an ambitious goal, but one, we think, that's attainable.
On health care, I see that one as a little bit more innovative and challenging. I believe it challenges the political imagination to think about how to upend the current health care system and have a very bold proposal that would change the way health care insurance is done in this country. I heard it was one of the most radical changes since Harry Truman actually gave the employer health care benefit -- tax benefit back in 1940.
So we have a lot of work to do in order to bring Congress along, but I think that the President also set a tone last night that will try to cool political passions, especially on a topic like immigration. Remember he said that convictions run very deep, but he believes that we can have a civil and serious discussion. And what he would like to see is a bill to his desk this year on that one. I think that that debate has been, again, discussed over the past few years, and it's ripe now for legislation to come to his desk.
Q -- hear anything new in today's speech, or is there any new thing to be looking for?
MS. PERINO: Well, I just announced the EO that the President did, but in the remarks of the President's speech? I think --
Q -- (inaudible) --
MS. PERINO: No.
Q Congressman Boehner says that the U.S. should know within 60 to 90 days whether or not the Iraq surge plan is going to work. What's your reaction to that? He's effectively laying down a marker, saying if something doesn't happen within 60 to 90 days --
MS. PERINO: I think General Petraeus is the best person to talk about that, and he did so yesterday. He's going to be the commander on the ground, and so the President will look to him. The President believes that the plan that he laid out is the best way to secure Baghdad so that we can help the Iraqis get to a position for political reconciliation.
In addition to that, we are also going to be looking to make sure that the Iraqis are meeting their end of the bargain, that they are ponying up the troops and that they are moving forward on the oil law and the other benchmarks that we laid out. So we'll be keeping a close watch.
Q The fact that you now have House Republicans openly saying there's a time frame here, 60 to 90 days, does that -- how does that sort of factor into the President's --
MS. PERINO: I didn't see his exact comments. I don't know if he meant -- what he meant -- what would happen at the end of 60 or 90 days. I think maybe he said we would know if it was headed in the right direction. And I think that General Petraeus and the commanders on the ground and supporters are the ones that could best answer that question, and we're not going to do it from Washington. And we're going to keep watch to make sure that they're meeting their end of the deal.
Q Dana, your announcement on fuel usage, is that strictly for federal government vehicles?
MS. PERINO: That's for the federal government.
Q Do you know how many vehicles that entails, how large the fleet is? I mean, how extensive is it?
MS. PERINO: I do not. I will see if we can get that. Well, I do know that the federal government is the single largest purchaser and user of energy in the world.
Anything else? All right, see you on the ground.
Posted: Jan 25 2007, 03:45 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 25, 2007
Press Gaggle by Tony Snow
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Kansas City, Missouri
10:42 A.M. EST
MR. SNOW: Welcome, everybody, to this morning's gaggle. I have with me Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt, and Kate Baicker from the National Economic Council.
Before we begin, let me just -- a couple of comments on developments in Iraq. The Prime Minister today has given an address -- we don't have a full translation yet, but as you probably know from your own reporting, at least three basic and important points:
Number one, he has once again made it clear that there's going to be no safe haven for those committing acts of terror within Baghdad, regardless of whether they're Shia, Sunni, Kurd, Arab, you name it.
Secondly, he has told the Council of Representatives that he wants the Council, during its current legislative session, which just has a couple more weeks to run, to pass a hydrocarbon law and also de-Baathification reform. As you know, those are two hugely important political benchmarks.
Number three, he also talked about the fact that in certain neighborhoods within Baghdad people have been pushed out of their homes, quite often by advocates or practitioners of sectarian violence. He says that the government is determined to allow those people back into their homes, and to push out what he referred to as the squatters.
So you had a very assertive address on the part of the Prime Minister. We certainly welcome that, because it demonstrates the kind of vigor we've been talking about and that the American people expect, and also responds specifically to concerns members of Congress have been expressing, in terms of the aims of and the determination of the government of Iraq.
And with that, I'll take questions.
Q Tony, could you talk about the Post support today on possible $7 billion to $8 billion increase for Afghanistan money?
MR. SNOW: Secretary Rice will be talking about it tomorrow, but we are, in fact -- and the President has discussed previously that we may be increasing our commitment in Afghanistan, and we will be.
Q Is that amount correct?
MR. SNOW: I think the amount is basically correct. Again, I'll let the Secretary confirm it tomorrow. But it's certainly in the ballpark.
Q It's for a wide -- not just military, it's for a wide range of initiatives, across a bunch of fronts, right?
MR. SNOW: Correct, but it will have a military component.
Q Do you have a comment on the resolution that got passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday?
MR. SNOW: No real surprises. Senator Hagel was the only Republican to vote for it. He was a co-sponsor, however, so you expect him to sign on to his own resolution. The President understands that people have political concerns. What he has said is, let's give this chance -- this plan a chance to work. You've already seen significant action, I think, since the President -- well, significant action since the President announced the way forward in the sense that Muqtada al Sadr has told members of the Mahdi army to stop wearing black and to put their arms down, and he's also instructed members of his political party to return to the political process.
We have seen assertive action on the part of Iraqi forces and joint Iraqi-U.S. forces within Baghdad taking on terror. You've seen what the Prime Minister had to say today. I don't want to attribute that specifically to the President's announcement of a way forward, but it is clear that a sign of American determination not only builds confidence but also activism on the part of the Iraqi government. And we continue to believe that it's important to make it clear to the Iraqis that our job is to help them build capability, and we'll do it.
Q Republicans on the panel were critical of the plan, like Voinovich and Lugar. Are you worried about the party splitting over Iraq?
MR. SNOW: No. What we want to do is, again, let members of the party -- and we know they will -- take a look at what happens as we proceed with the way forward. They know that five brigades are going into Baghdad, they know that 4,000 Marines are headed to Anbar, they know that there has been significant military improvement within Anbar, and they have all said things that we agree with: Number one, we cannot fail in Iraq. Number two, they support the troops. Number three, they want Iraqis in the lead.
We believe that the President's plan is the best way to achieve those objectives. We've also said, if you've got a better proposal that will achieve success in Iraq, help Iraqis get swiftly into the lead, and will demonstrate support for American forces, let us hear it. You have a patriotic obligation and you can do the whole nation a service.
Q Do you expect Iraq will dominate the meeting tomorrow with the House Republicans?
MR. SNOW: I don't think so. In fact, I don't expect it at all. I'll be talking to the House Republicans before the President does, but I think what House Republicans are looking for is they're going to want to talk about issues that came up in the State of the Union address, too, because that is going to play a significant role in politics over the next few months. So we'll talk about health care, we'll talk about immigration, we'll talk about energy, we'll talk about education, and we will talk about working together on Iraq, as well.
The fact is everybody in both Houses knows that we are going to proceed with the way forward, and they will have an opportunity to see results on the ground. And we also have no delusions, Americans want to see results on the ground, as well.
Q As the debate unfolds, though, are you hearing anything on Capitol Hill that you see as responsible -- you said that you'd be open to the debate -- anything that you can latch on to and perhaps move on yourselves?
MR. SNOW: I think at this point I really would resist talking about "latching on to," because it gives a sense of a sense of desperation, where, in fact, the President approaches this as a Commander-in-Chief. And as a Commander-in-Chief, it is his obligation to figure out how to succeed in Iraq. This is not a political exercise, this is an exercise in leadership.
To the extent -- we continue to look for each and every avenue towards success -- diplomatically, economically, politically and militarily. I think at this juncture, what we have are members expressing concerns -- perfectly understandable. We expect that. But also we understand that members of Congress will keep a keen eye out for what happens in the region and how events continue to unfold.
Q How aggressively is the White House lobbying members, particularly Republicans, on the resolutions?
MR. SNOW: Not particularly. We're talking with them, but we understand that members have concerns and they want to express them.
Q Have you asked Warner whether he will withhold negotiation with Democrats for a united resolution? Are you speaking with him about limiting any changes he might make to his resolution that might be more attractive to other Democrats?
MR. SNOW: No, certainly we've had conversations with Senator Warner. We're trying to take his temperature on what he intends. But I think any conversation about what he intends to do you probably ought to leave up to him. I'm certainly not going to speak on his behalf.
All right, thanks.
Posted: Jan 25 2007, 03:51 PM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 24, 2007
Executive Order: Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and to strengthen the environmental, energy, and transportation management of Federal agencies, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of the United States that Federal agencies conduct their environmental, transportation, and energy-related activities under the law in support of their respective missions in an environmentally, economically and fiscally sound, integrated, continuously improving, efficient, and sustainable manner.
Sec. 2. Goals for Agencies. In implementing the policy set forth in section 1 of this order, the head of each agency shall:
(a improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions of the agency, through reduction of energy intensity by (i 3 percent annually through the end of fiscal year 2015, or (ii 30 percent by the end of fiscal year 2015, relative to the baseline of the agency's energy use in fiscal year 2003;
(b ensure that (i at least half of the statutorily required renewable energy consumed by the agency in a fiscal year comes from new renewable sources, and (ii to the extent feasible, the agency implements renewable energy generation projects on agency property for agency use;
(c beginning in FY 2008, reduce water consumption intensity, relative to the baseline of the agency's water consumption in fiscal year 2007, through life-cycle cost-effective measures by 2 percent annually through the end of fiscal year 2015 or 16 percent by the end of fiscal year 2015;
(d require in agency acquisitions of goods and services (i) use of sustainable environmental practices, including acquisition of biobased, environmentally preferable, energy-efficient, water-efficient, and recycled-content products, and (ii use of paper of at least 30 percent post-consumer fiber content;
(e ensure that the agency (i reduces the quantity of toxic and hazardous chemicals and materials acquired, used, or disposed of by the agency, (ii increases diversion of solid waste as appropriate, and (iii maintains cost-effective waste prevention and recycling programs in its facilities;
f ensure that (i new construction and major renovation of agency buildings comply with the Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings set forth in the Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings Memorandum of Understanding (2006), and (ii 15 percent of the existing Federal capital asset building inventory of the agency as of the end of fiscal year 2015 incorporates the sustainable practices in the Guiding Principles;
(g ensure that, if the agency operates a fleet of at least 20 motor vehicles, the agency, relative to agency baselines for fiscal year 2005, (i reduces the fleet's total consumption of petroleum products by 2 percent annually through the end of fiscal year 2015, (ii increases the total fuel consumption that is non-petroleum-based by 10 percent annually, and (iii uses plug-in hybrid (PIH) vehicles when PIH vehicles are commercially available at a cost reasonably comparable, on the basis of life-cycle cost, to non-PIH vehicles; and
(h ensure that the agency (i) when acquiring an electronic product to meet its requirements, meets at least 95 percent of those requirements with an Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT)-registered electronic product, unless there is no EPEAT standard for such product, (ii) enables the Energy Star feature on agency computers and monitors, (iii) establishes and implements policies to extend the useful life of agency electronic equipment, and (iv) uses environmentally sound practices with respect to disposition of agency electronic equipment that has reached the end of its useful life.
Sec. 3. Duties of Heads of Agencies. In implementing the policy set forth in section 1 of this order, the head of each agency shall:
(a implement within the agency sustainable practices for (i) energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions avoidance or reduction, and petroleum products use reduction, (ii) renewable energy, including bioenergy, (iii) water conservation, (iv) acquisition, (v) pollution and waste prevention and recycling, (vi) reduction or elimination of acquisition and use of toxic or hazardous chemicals, (vii) high performance construction, lease, operation, and maintenance of buildings, (viii) vehicle fleet management, and (ix) electronic equipment management;
(b implement within the agency environmental management systems (EMS) at all appropriate organizational levels to ensure (i) use of EMS as the primary management approach for addressing environmental aspects of internal agency operations and activities, including environmental aspects of energy and transportation functions, (ii) establishment of agency objectives and targets to ensure implementation of this order, and (iii) collection, analysis, and reporting of information to measure performance in the implementation of this order;
(c establish within the agency programs for (i) environmental management training, (ii) environmental compliance review and audit, and (iii) leadership awards to recognize outstanding environmental, energy, or transportation management performance in the agency;
(d within 30 days after the date of this order (i) designate a senior civilian officer of the United States, compensated annually in an amount at or above the amount payable at level IV of the Executive Schedule, to be responsible for implementation of this order within the agency, (ii) report such designation to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, and (iii) assign the designated official the authority and duty to (A) monitor and report to the head of the agency on agency activities to carry out subsections (a) and ( of this section, and ( perform such other duties relating to the implementation of this order within the agency as the head of the agency deems appropriate;
(e ensure that contracts entered into after the date of this order for contractor operation of government-owned facilities or vehicles require the contractor to comply with the provisions of this order with respect to such facilities or vehicles to the same extent as the agency would be required to comply if the agency operated the facilities or vehicles;
(f ensure that agreements, permits, leases, licenses, or other legally-binding obligations between the agency and a tenant or concessionaire entered into after the date of this order require, to the extent the head of the agency determines appropriate, that the tenant or concessionaire take actions relating to matters within the scope of the contract that facilitate the agency's compliance with this order;
(g provide reports on agency implementation of this order to the Chairman of the Council on such schedule and in such format as the Chairman of the Council may require; and
(h provide information and assistance to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Chairman of the Council, and the Federal Environmental Executive.
Sec. 4. Additional Duties of the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality. In implementing the policy set forth in section 1 of this order, the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality:
(a (i) shall establish a Steering Committee on Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management to advise the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Chairman of the Council on the performance of their functions under this order that shall consist exclusively of (A) the Federal Environmental Executive, who shall chair, convene and preside at meetings of, determine the agenda of, and direct the work of, the Steering Committee, and (B the senior officials designated under section 3(d)(i) of this order, and (ii) may establish subcommittees of the Steering Committee, to assist the Steering Committee in developing the advice of the Steering Committee on particular subjects;
(b may, after consultation with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Steering Committee, issue instructions to implement this order, other than instructions within the authority of the Director to issue under section 5 of this order; and
(c shall administer a presidential leadership award program to recognize exceptional and outstanding environmental, energy, or transportation management performance and excellence in agency efforts to implement this order.
Sec. 5. Duties of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. In implementing the policy set forth in section 1 of this order, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall, after consultation with the Chairman of the Council and the Steering Committee, issue instructions to the heads of agencies concerning:
(a periodic evaluation of agency implementation of this order;
(b budget and appropriations matters relating to implementation of this order;
(c implementation of section 2(d) of this order; and
(d amendments of the Federal Acquisition Regulation as necessary to implement this order.
Sec. 6. Duties of the Federal Environmental Executive. A Federal Environmental Executive designated by the President shall head the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, which shall be maintained in the Environmental Protection Agency for funding and administrative purposes. In implementing the policy set forth in section 1 of this order, the Federal Environmental Executive shall:
(a monitor, and advise the Chairman of the Council on, performance by agencies of functions assigned by sections 2 and 3 of this order;
(b submit a report to the President, through the Chairman of the Council, not less often than once every 2 years, on the activities of agencies to implement this order; and
(c advise the Chairman of the Council on the Chairman's exercise of authority granted by subsection 4© of this order.
Sec. 7. Limitations. (a This order shall apply to an agency with respect to the activities, personnel, resources, and facilities of the agency that are located within the United States. The head of an agency may provide that this order shall apply in whole or in part with respect to the activities, personnel, resources, and facilities of the agency that are not located within the United States, if the head of the agency determines that such application is in the interest of the United States.
(b The head of an agency shall manage activities, personnel, resources, and facilities of the agency that are not located within the United States, and with respect to which the head of the agency has not made a determination under subsection (a of this section, in a manner consistent with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order to the extent the head of the agency determines practicable.
Sec. 8. Exemption Authority. (a The Director of National Intelligence may exempt an intelligence activity of the United States, and related personnel, resources, and facilities, from the provisions of this order, other than this subsection and section 10, to the extent the Director determines necessary to protect intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure.
(b The head of an agency may exempt law enforcement activities of that agency, and related personnel, resources, and facilities, from the provisions of this order, other than this subsection and section 10, to the extent the head of an agency determines necessary to protect undercover operations from unauthorized disclosure.
(c (i) The head of an agency may exempt law enforcement, protective, emergency response, or military tactical vehicle fleets of that agency from the provisions of this order, other than this subsection and section 10.
(ii) Heads of agencies shall manage fleets to which paragraph (i) of this subsection refers in a manner consistent with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order to the extent they determine practicable.
(d The head of an agency may submit to the President, through the Chairman of the Council, a request for an exemption of an agency activity, and related personnel, resources, and facilities, from this order.
Sec. 9. Definitions. As used in this order:
(a "agency" means an executive agency as defined in section 105 of title 5, United States Code, excluding the Government Accountability Office;
(b "Chairman of the Council" means the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, including in the Chairman's capacity as Director of the Office of Environmental Quality;
(c "Council" means the Council on Environmental Quality;
(d "environmental" means environmental aspects of internal agency operations and activities, including those environmental aspects related to energy and transportation functions;
(e "greenhouse gases" means carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride;
(f "life-cycle cost-effective" means the life-cycle costs of a product, project, or measure are estimated to be equal to or less than the base case (i.e., current or standard practice or product);
(g "new renewable sources" means sources of renewable energy placed into service after January 1, 1999;
(h "renewable energy" means energy produced by solar, wind, biomass, landfill gas, ocean (including tidal, wave, current and thermal), geothermal, municipal solid waste, or new hydroelectric generation capacity achieved from increased efficiency or additions of new capacity at an existing hydroelectric project;
(i "energy intensity" means energy consumption per square foot of building space, including industrial or laboratory facilities;
(j "Steering Committee" means the Steering Committee on Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management established under subsection 4(b of this order;
(k "sustainable" means to create and maintain conditions, under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans; and
(l "United States" when used in a geographical sense, means the fifty states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands, and associated territorial waters and airspace.
Sec. 10. General Provisions. (a This order shall be implemented in a manner consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(b Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budget, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(c This order is intended only to improve the internal management of the Federal Government and is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities, entities, officers, employees or agents, or any other person.
Sec. 11. Revocations; Conforming Provisions. (a) The following are revoked:
(i) Executive Order 13101 of September 14, 1998;
(ii) Executive Order 13123 of June 3, 1999;
(iii) Executive Order 13134 of August 12, 1999, as amended;
(iv) Executive Order 13148 of April 21, 2000; and
(v) Executive Order 13149 of April 21, 2000.
(b In light of subsection 317(e) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002 (Public Law 107 107), not later than January 1 of each year through and including 2010, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the Senate and the House of Representatives a report regarding progress made toward achieving the energy efficiency goals of the Department of Defense.
(c Section 3((vi) of Executive Order 13327 of February 4, 2004, is amended by striking "Executive Order 13148 of April 21, 2000" and inserting in lieu thereof "other executive orders".
GEORGE W. BUSH
THE WHITE HOUSE,
January 24, 2007.
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