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 The White House, Briefings, Speeches, Signings
batmanchester
Posted: Mar 29 2007, 05:55 PM


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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 29, 2007

Press Briefing by Dana Perino
White House Conference Center Briefing Room

12:30 P.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Just a couple of announcements, and then we'll go to questions. You heard the President this morning. He had a meeting with the House Republican Conference, in which they talked about a range of issues, and the President took some questions from the members. Two of the main things the President talked about was the Iraq war supplemental and the 2008 budget resolution that the House is currently debating. The President said he would veto a bill that restricts his commanders on the ground in Iraq, and a bill that doesn't fully fund our troops, and a bill that has got too much spending in it.

There is one new data point on this today that I want to make you aware of. As we've said, there are very real consequences for delaying action on the emergency spending bill. The President spent his urgent request for funds to support the troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan 52 days ago. Our troops are in harm's way and engaged with the enemy, and they need the funds. Just this morning the Department of Defense notified Congress that in order to meet the force protection needs of the Marine Corps and the Army we are borrowing funds from other important Marine and Army procurement programs. That is taking funding intended for medium tactical vehicle replacement, Humvees and Humvee equipment, the tactical communications modernization program, and upgrades to other vehicles.

This reprogramming will then accelerate delivery of nearly 300 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles that were included in the President's supplemental request and are needed by our troops on the ground. This reprogramming of funds is only necessary because Congress has failed to act in a timely manner on the President's emergency funding request. And so this, again, underscores the need to get this show on the road, get the bill to the President, he will veto it, and then we'll take it from there.

In addition today, the President talked to the members about the 2008 budget resolution. So a couple of comments on that. As you've heard the Democrats say that they campaigned on fiscal discipline, that they embrace the goal of a balanced budget, but unfortunately the substance of their bill does not match that rhetoric. Their path is so-called fiscal discipline, but it's paved with tax increases, spending increases, and then it ignores our biggest budgetary challenge, which is entitlement spending. Make no mistake, failing to extend tax relief is a tax increase, period.

And by contrast, the President's budget balances the budget without raising taxes. The Democrats' budget also increases day-to-day government spending by nearly $213 billion over five years. That is not offset. And the President talked with the House Republican members today about that as they continue debate throughout the rest of this week.

Jennifer.

Q Kyle Sampson testified today, as you know. He said, "I don't think the Attorney General's statement that he was not involved in any discussions of U.S. attorney removals was accurate. I remember discussing with him this process of asking certain U.S. attorneys to resign." What's the White House reaction to that? Do you feel like Attorney General Gonzales needs to get up to the Hill much more quickly to explain himself?

MS. PERINO: Well, he's said, as the President has said since we were in Mérida, Mexico, that, yes, the Attorney General has some work to do up on Capitol Hill; that he wasn't satisfied with incomplete or inconsistent information being provided to Capitol Hill. I personally did not get to see Kyle Sampson's testimony. I take your word for it that those are his words, but, yes, the Justice Department has work to do. I think that that is underway. The Attorney General has been not only traveling the country talking to the U.S. attorneys offices to let them know that they have his full faith and confidence, and to keep open lines of communication, and talk with them about how to better improve communication within the department.

Q But if this right that the Attorney General actually was involved in the process, which is different from what he has said, would that change the President's support for him?

MS. PERINO: I think the key to that is "if," and I know that the Attorney General is going to be testifying in front of Congress, and I think it's best for me to allow the Attorney General to either explain further today, if they choose to, or to wait for his testimony.

Q But would the President not want to get in touch with him before April 17th and say, what's the real story here?

MS. PERINO: I will find out if they're going to talk beforehand. Obviously it's kind of a long way away, a little bit more than three weeks.

Q It's a little longer than you want it to hang there, right?

MS. PERINO: Correct, and so I think that we need to -- I'll need to find out if the President is going to talk -- be talking to him beforehand. I'm assuming that they probably would, whether it be specifically about this, or in the context of other meetings.

Q Have they had any conversations since the one conversation the President said he's had with the Attorney General?

MS. PERINO: Not one that I was made aware of or that I could tell you about. I don't know if they've had any other communication, no.

Q Can you sort of characterize -- because this really, this morning, brought into very sharp focus a dispute -- I mean, essentially, the Attorney General's former chief of staff is calling into direct question the crux of what the Attorney General has said about having never had any conversations. He's counting at least five conversations they've had. So how can the Attorney General, in your opinion, continue to be effective if, apparently, he stood up and said something that was categorically false?

MS. PERINO: I'm going to let the Justice Department and the Attorney General speak for himself. And, obviously, I understand how people can have different recollections, and I'm going to have to let the Attorney General speak for himself. And I do understand that --

Q He doesn't seem to have any great urgency to do that. He's going to let this hang another three weeks.

MS. PERINO: I disagree. I think that the legislative calendar and his request for testimony is not made on the AG's timetable, it's made by -- it's at the request of members of Congress. I believe they set the date. Democrats run the Congress, they run the scheduling, so I think that wasn't the Attorney General's choice.

Q So the delay between when the President asked him to get up to Capitol Hill and explain himself and April 17th is entirely the Hill's making?

MS. PERINO: No, I think that you can talk to the Hill -- you can talk to the Hill in a variety of ways. That doesn't necessarily mean a hearing. You can go up and have --

Q And has the Attorney General chosen to do that?

MS. PERINO: I don't keep track of the Attorney General's schedule. I know that the department has been in contact with Capitol Hill. Obviously the Attorney General has had some travel. And our staff also has been up on Capitol Hill, letting people know that the Attorney General has the confidence of the President, and also reminding them that the President has said that he wants the Justice Department to be fully responsive to the Congress's requests. And that remains true today.

Q Dana, does the President's support of Gonzales remain contingent in some way on how Gonzales performs during his testimony on Capitol Hill?

MS. PERINO: I don't know if I would put it that way -- it's that the President wants the Justice Department to be fully responsive. And I think that the Attorney General, when he goes up, will have that opportunity to talk to the American people and the --

Q The President said that he's got work to do; others in the White House say he's got to go up there and adequately address these concerns. And so that leads to the question of whether or not the President is looking for results out of that testimony.

MS. PERINO: I would say that it's not just testimony. I think that there's a lot of things that you can do -- we're in regular contact with members of Congress all the time. And so there's -- testimony is one aspect of many different ways that you can talk to Congress and talk to your department and making sure that they understand where your head is.

Q But if Congress remains dissatisfied, both Republicans and Democrats, with the competency and credibility of his Attorney General, are you saying today that the President will continue to stand behind him?

MS. PERINO: Yes, the President has confidence in the Attorney General. And if that changes for any of us that serve at the pleasure of the President, if we fail to continue to keep the President's pleasure, then we no longer work here.

Q Let me switch to Iraq. You say that these bills will be vetoed, and then you want a clean bill out of Congress. The reality is the Democrats who run Congress have registered a very serious challenge to the President's war strategy. So where do -- where does the White House go from here in terms of negotiating with Congress in a way that can actually absorb the statement the Democrats have made about the desire to set a date certain to end the war? Or is there zero room for compromise in this --

MS. PERINO: I wouldn't say there's zero room. I think that obviously in our legislative system, as wonderful as it is, there is this give-and-take. The President has been clear that he does not want to tie the hands of our generals and he does think that having a date certain for when you would have to withdraw is a signal to the enemy for when they just need to lie in wait, regroup, and then come -- and sit ready to disrupt the sovereign government of Iraq.

If they want to compromise -- and I understand that the Speaker and the Majority Leader said that they do -- then we're willing to talk to them on ways that their bills can be changed in order to get to the President's desk so that it doesn't meet his veto.

Now, their proposal is well outside of the mainstream. This is not a moderate bill. It is contrary to the Baker-Hamilton report. It's contrary to the judgment of the President's military advisors, and it's contrary to the unanimous judgment of our intelligence community. So as I've said before, they've cobbled together a bare majority, using extra domestic spending for spinach and peanuts, and we've said it many times, tropical fish. They've used all of those tactics in order to get the bare majority. They're not going to be able to sustain the President's veto. And so I think that the best thing for everyone to do is if they really want to get this bill to the President's desk, let's do that, let's get it over with and get the veto done.

Q But can the President support anything that approaches, whether it's -- if not a time certain, a desire, a kind of time line, can he abide by any kind of goal for the withdrawal of troops, even if it's non-binding?

MS. PERINO: I think I will decline to negotiate from here. I think that those are important conversations that need to happen between our members -- members of our administration, especially our Legislative Affairs staff, talking with members of Congress and the Hill about where they might be able to reach some sort of common ground.

Now, an arbitrary time line for withdrawal is what the President said that he would not accept. And so I don't believe there's --

Q But there are other ways to get at that -- that's what you're suggesting? There's room for discussion on that?

MS. PERINO: I'm just not going to rule it out. I won't rule them out.

Helen.

Q I have two questions on the Middle East. Has the President been in touch with King Abdullah on his critical comments that we're wrong to be in Iraq?

MS. PERINO: Not that I'm -- no. The President only spoke to President Roh this morning, of South Korea. There have been no other calls that I know of.

Let me just remind you of something I said this morning, which is the United States and Saudi Arabia cooperate on a wide number of issues. It is not accurate to say that the United States is occupying Iraq. We are there under --

Q It is not right to say we're occupying Iraq --

MS. PERINO: That's right.

Q -- with 150,000 troops there?

MS. PERINO: Helen, we are there at the invitation of the sovereign government of Iraq that was democratically elected --

Q Did we invade that country?

MS. PERINO: We were there under the U.N. Security Council resolution, and we are there now at the -- I think one of the things to point out -- and I think somebody brought up the Talabani comments this morning -- is that he was talking about the initial when we -- initially when we went in, of establishing a coalition provisional authority, rather than an Iraqi provisional authority. And we were there --

Q Did we have a right to go in?

MS. PERINO: We were there under a U.N. mandate, yes.

Q I have another question then. Does the U.S. take any responsibility for the reign of terror in Tal Afar yesterday between the Sunnis and the Shiites, where the Sunnis were killed, execution style, about 70 or so?

MS. PERINO: It was a horrible and atrocious day. I think that the people --

Q Well, do we take any responsibility for that?

MS. PERINO: I think the people who committed those atrocities are the ones who are responsible. And I know that the United States forces, the coalition forces that are there, who are working alongside the Iraqi security forces, are working to bring security to the region.

This is exactly what we're talking about --

Q We had nothing to do with their killing each other?

MS. PERINO: The people who commit atrocities are the ones who are responsible for committing atrocities.

Q But, Dana, what about the apparent situation where the revenge killings were conducted, at least in part, by Iraqi police officers? We're talking about Iraqi police actually trained by the United States, by the coalition.

MS. PERINO: I've seen parts of those reports. I don't have a full report in terms of all that happened there. Clearly, it's very disturbing if there are police officers that people are supposed to be able to trust committing such atrocities. I did hear also a report -- and I hesitate to say it because I don't have all of the facts -- but that the Iraqi army went in and tried to help secure the situation. And that's what we need, is that the Iraqi forces there being able to take over their own security. And if there are problems with the police forces, and clearly this would be one of them -- that they need to go in there and purge those individuals from those positions of authority and the positions of trust that the Iraqi citizens should be able to have, and get them out of there, and allow for the peace to take over. And that's what General Petraeus is working on.

It's a serious situation. We've got a lot of work to do.

Q What are you doing to help Britain get freedom for the 15 sailors in Iraq?

MS. PERINO: As I told you yesterday --

Q Are you working at the U.N.? are there any activities at the U.N. to try to work on that?

MS. PERINO: I don't know if there's any activities at the United Nations. I do know that the President spoke to Tony Blair yesterday; we are fully supportive of Tony Blair and we want Iran to heed the calls of Tony Blair to release those soldiers immediately and unconditionally.

Q And on the Saudi, are you seeking any -- were you surprised by the King's comments, and are you seeking any clarification?

MS. PERINO: I'm sure that we're in communication with the Saudis. I don't know if we're seeking clarification. In terms of his comments about Iraq, or the other?

Q Yes, about occupation.

MS. PERINO: I don't have an update for -- I don't know if we're talking to them.

April.

Q Dana, back on the British-Iran issue, what are the thoughts of the White House officials about the fact that Iran is reneging on letting the female sailor go?

MS. PERINO: Again, the President backs Tony Blair, and Tony Blair has said that Iran should unconditionally and immediately release all of the prisoners -- all of the soldiers -- sorry, I didn't mean to call them prisoners.

Q Is this indicative of Iran -- of Iranian policies or strategies, how they turn back on what they say?

MS. PERINO: You can be the judge of that. I think it's pretty clear.

Q Dana, the President's meeting today with House Republicans, it was the first time, you said, that the full conference --

MS. PERINO: Had come down to the White House. He had met with the full conference up on Capitol Hill, but this is the first time they've been down to the White House.

Q And afterwards he came out and made a 90-second statement, basically reiterating his veto threat.

MS. PERINO: We're counting?

Q Well, it was short, very brief, as promised. But is the President trying to demonstrate that he is still carrying out the nation's business, even as this investigation is going on on Capitol Hill?

MS. PERINO: Well, the fact is that we are. And the President was there to talk about the two major issues that are happening on Capitol Hill right now, which is the debate on the Iraq war supplemental and fully funding our troops, and the debate on the 2008 budget resolution.

Q But is it a distraction as the President tries to --

MS. PERINO: He's not distracted. There's a lot of people here in the administration to work on all of these different issues, and that includes the -- other issues that came up today are immigration, and education, health care, trade. And there's a lot of issues going on, and we're marching forward on all of them.

Q But I've asked this before, I mean, on all those issues you just mentioned, is it getting stepped on, what the President wants to do now in his remaining time in office --

MS. PERINO: This administration, since September 11th, has been no short -- not short of any major issues happening all at one time. And so we're quite used to being able to handle multiple issues at the same time. We have to, it's our responsibility to the American people.

Roger.

Q The President's call to South Korea this morning, who initiated that call?

MS. PERINO: I don't know. Our President. Gordon helps from the side.

Q Thank you. Did he make any headway in the talks, trade talks?

MS. PERINO: I don't have any specifics on that. They did talk about the free trade agreement, among other things.

Q I was wondering if he had any further details --

MS. PERINO: No update.

Q And also, on the immigration, can you give us a readout on what they talked about in the GOP conference this morning on immigration policy?

MS. PERINO: Part of the House Republican Conference was a chance for members and the President to have a give-and-take and for the members to ask questions. And so there was just additional conversation about immigration. And we've been working hard to make sure that we can get a bill passed by August, which is what the President called for.

Peter.

Q You said that the congressional war resolutions are inconsistent with the Iraq Study Group. Do you include the Senate plan, which, as I understand it, asks for a goal, but not a firm deadline, of removing them by March 2008? How is that different from the --

MS. PERINO: Well, the one thing I understand about the Senate bill is that it calls for troops to start withdrawing in 120 days, with the goal of being out March of 2008. And I think the President sees that as an arbitrary timetable.

Q But that's meant to be a goal as opposed to a firm --

MS. PERINO: The goal is to get American troops home as soon as possible, but to do it in a way that is one where they can complete the mission.

Q How is that different from what the Iraq Study Group said?

MS. PERINO: Well, the Iraq Study Group --

Q They also said that they would like a goal of removing combat troops by March 2008.

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that the piece that I would point to in the Senate bill is where they say that troops need to start leaving within 120 days.

Q Well, to get out by March 2008, you logistically have to, so that's not really all that --

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that that's just signaling -- I mean, that's like this is the bill for our defeat, this is the bill that mandates our failure. You start walking away in 120 days, and what does that do for the Iraqis that we promised we'll be there and we'll be able to help them secure their country?

Q That may or may not be. That's not my question. My question is, how is that inconsistent with the Iraq Study Group?

MS. PERINO: Regarding the Senate bill? I'll take a look and get back to you.* (see footnote)

Q Dana, could you reflect on the White House and the President's feelings before he attends, about the Tuskegee Airmen receiving the Congressional Gold Medal today? One hundred sixty black World War II aviators were not given their just deserves back then, and now they're being recognized. Many of them have passed away.

MS. PERINO: Of course, the President is really looking forward to going up to Capitol Hill today. He's going to be with -- this is one of those great things about our country, that we can fight about the Iraq war supplemental and the budget in the morning, then we can come together in the afternoon in a really special ceremony for the Tuskegee Airmen. And all of them deserve the special honor that they're getting today. And, of course, it's tragic that some did not live to get that honor.

Q Does this come full circle for many in the service right now, fighting the war on terror? Because many say that those in the infantry that are fighting, it's a disproportionate number of minorities fighting, blacks and browns. What does this say to those that, years ago in World War II, blacks, African Americans were not recognized for their valiance and valor in the war, now that this is happening now during the time that they are fighting valiantly in Iraq?

MS. PERINO: I think the President could not have any stronger feelings about how grateful he is to each and every one of the soldiers that is fighting for us. They are amazing and that goes to their families, as well.

Let me go over here, to Olivier.

Q Dana, right before your briefing, Nick Burns came out and said the United States is looking for clarification on that Saudi comment. You have a disagreement about that, a pretty firm one. I assume you don't agree with the Saudi Foreign Minister saying that Israel basically never wants peace in the region. You have two big breaks -- you said the United States and Saudi Arabia are cooperating on a number of issue. We have two major breaks on two major American priorities. How can you give Saudi-American relations a clean bill of health under those circumstances?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that in any relationship, there is ebbs and flows. We have been close and cooperative with the Saudis, especially in regards to the war on terror, since 9/11. We appreciate those efforts. Clearly, in any type of relationship, especially between powers, when all of us as a world, we're under a lot of pressure -- we all want to see peace in the Middle East, and I certainly -- I include Israel in that camp. And we're going to continue to work hard. I will check on the -- what you said where Jonathan Burns of The New York Times is telling us what we're doing.

Q No, no, Nick Burns.

MS. PERINO: Nick Burns came out.

Q Nick Burns, yes.

MS. PERINO: Nick Burns came out. Oh, I thought you said, Jonathan Burns.

Q Would it be fair, then, to call this one the --

MS. PERINO: Nick Burns would probably know. (Laughter.)

Q So this would be one of ebbs, rather than one of the flows? Is that a fair characterization? (Laughter.)

MS. PERINO: Yes. Go ahead.

Q Dana, going back to the 2008 budget resolution, when you were talking about an increase of taxes, which I guess -- are meaning it doesn't extend the Bush tax cuts --

MS. PERINO: Correct. And so it will end up being the largest tax increase in American history.

Q If the GOP, when it was in control of Congress, couldn't extend them either, what could the President expect to get from a Democratically-controlled Congress?

MS. PERINO: Well, fair point. Obviously, our system of -- we would have liked to have seen a budget passed last year. That didn't happen. A continuing resolution had to be passed in February. And so we expect to see tax relief for the American people, because -- especially because it's not just tax relief for tax relief's sake, it's because it has results. We've had a strong and growing economy because of the President's tax cuts early on, and that's one of the things that the President wants to keep going throughout his administration. We've got 22 months left, or so.

Q Can he get that from a Democratically-controlled Congress?

MS. PERINO: We're going to work on it.

Sarah.

Q Thank you. Welcome again.

MS. PERINO: Thank you, Sarah.

Q Yesterday and today, you said the President will negotiate with the Congress to get a military spending bill that he can sign. There are no indications the Democrat-controlled Congress is going to budge. So where is he going to get the billions he needs to fund the war?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think you have to take Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi at their word when they say they want to work with the President. And so we have an open door.

Q When does the money issue become really critical? You said there -- already, the Pentagon is beginning to take steps. But when does this become something that's actually going to --

MS. PERINO: Secretary Gates -- Secretary Gates said last week, April 15th.

Q But when does it begin to affect our troops in Iraq? I mean, April 15th, we start moving -- I mean, how -- when do we hit kind of a crisis situation on war funding as a result of this --

MS. PERINO: Secretary Gates was going to be testifying on Capitol Hill today. I know this was going to be a topic. If I can refer to that for now, and then we'll see if we can get you some more. I'll work with OMB on that.

Q Congressman Murtha was very firm on saying that the testimony today was about the budget, the OA budget, not the supplemental.

MS. PERINO: I wonder if Secretary Gates will be able to get a word in. (Laughter.)

John -- let me go to John.

Q Back on the Attorney General for a second. Is the White House going to encourage the Attorney General to try to bring some further clarity to this situation before the middle of April when it's -- you've got a long stretch of time in front of you where his -- you know his public position on his previous statements is not going to be --

MS. PERINO: I would think so, but I'm not -- I don't have a crystal ball to tell you exactly what the Justice Department is going to plan to do in terms of their PR schedule. If we get more on it, we'll let you know, but I'd refer you over to Justice Department. I agree three weeks is a long time.

Lester.

Q Dana, thank you. Two questions.

MS. PERINO: Quickly. Quick questions? (Laughter.)

Q Yes.

MS. PERINO: Okay.

Q More than half of page two of yesterday's Washington Post, under the headline, "Defender of the Second Amendment, if Not His Aide," reports how Senator Webb's aide Phillip Thompson was held for 28 hours in jail because he inadvertently walked into the Russell Senate Office Building with Senator Webb's loaded gun and two loaded magazines in his briefcase.

MS. PERINO: And your question is?

Q And my question, you have no doubt in your mind, do you, Dana, that the President would immediately intervene on your behalf, rather than leave you in jail for 28 hours, in the event you inadvertently carried his gun and ammo in a briefcase into the Russell Building? (Laughter.)

MS. PERINO: I'm not so sure. I'm not so sure I have that much -- the President has that much confidence in me.

Q Oh, you know he does.

MS. PERINO: I'm not going to -- I'm not going to comment. What's your next one? Hurry up. (Laughter.)

Q Your flight is leaving. (Laughter.)

MS. PERINO: The doors are closing. (Laughter.)

Q Vermont's Senator Leahy, in reference to the firing of eight U.S. attorneys said, "Not since the Saturday night massacre when President Nixon forced the firing of the Watergate prosecutor, Archibald Cox, have we witnessed anything of this magnitude." Question, does the President believe that Senator Leahy has somehow forgotten how Bill Clinton and Janet Reno fired 93 U.S. attorneys in one day?

MS. PERINO: I hope not. It was a long time ago, but there seems to be a lot going on on Capitol Hill where people, both testifying and asking questions, seem to not have good recollections.

Goyal, can we do quick?

Q Yes, quick.

Q Why is the quickness now, instead of for the front row here, Dana?

MS. PERINO: They're pretty quick.

Q First of all, you are really representing our dear friend Tony, and the President well in this briefing room. My Question is, quick, that when the international community, especially the United States, got freedom for the millions of Afghans, they had faith and trust in the United States. Today, they have no faith in NATO and in Karzai government, and what they are saying is really, where their future is going. As far as my question is concerned, is this because of the money problem, or some kind of coordination of -- they're not united in the area as NATO is concerned. What's the problem?

MS. PERINO: I think, Goyal, that it just takes a while. And these things don't happen overnight, and it just takes sustained effort and patience and commitment.

Q Thank you.

MS. PERINO: In the back.

Q Thank you, Dana. President Bush called South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun this morning, and discussing on the FTA issues. Can you read out the conversation between President Bush and South Korean --

MS. PERINO: Well, what I know is that they spoke for a few minutes this morning. They spoke about the ongoing free trade agreement negotiations. We remain hopeful about getting that done, and then they also spoke about the next steps in implementation of the six-party talks, and then the February 13th agreement regarding North Korea.

All right?

Q Thank you.

MS. PERINO: You're welcome. Thank you.

END 12:56 P.M. EDT

* Footnote: The Senate bill calls for an arbitrary retreat beginning in 120 days after passage of its legislation. This is not a goal, it is a rigid and arbitrary deadline. The bill states: "The President shall commence the phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act." Baker Hamilton explicitly rejected this approach, saying: "The point is not for the U.S. to set timetables or deadlines for withdrawal, an approach that we oppose."

That the Senate bill also sets as a "goal" the completion of this withdrawal by March 31, 2008, does not change the mandatory requirement that withdrawal begin by a date certain -- regardless of facts on the ground or the views of U.S. military commanders in the field. (return to top)

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070329-5.html
Top
batmanchester
Posted: Mar 30 2007, 05:21 PM


Advanced Member


Group: Gone
Posts: 1,534
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06



For Immediate Release
March 30, 2007

Press Briefing by Dana Perino
White House Conference Center Briefing Room

12:48 P.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Good morning. Good Friday afternoon, I'm sorry. It's been 53 days since the President requested funding for the troops. We sent up the budget on February 5th, and in addition to sending up the budget we sent the supplemental, as well. You may recall in years past we had been somewhat criticized by members of Congress that they wanted more information sooner, that they didn't like the supplementals coming sort of mid-year. And so Rob Portman, having heard that criticism, addressed that concern, and we released them at the same time, on February 5th. And every day that the Congress fails to act on this request causes our military hardship and impacts readiness. And you heard from General Pace on that yesterday.

The President was surprised to learn that Congress went on vacation today, and that the House didn't bother to appoint any conferees in which to help try to reconcile the differences between the Senate and the House bills. And so I don't know how much work is going to be able to get done while they're away.

By the way, yesterday Peter Baker asked a good question about the Senate bill. I did send out an update, but let me just remind you that for those of you who think that the Senate bill is non-binding, but the House bill is binding -- that those are two major differences -- the Senate bill does mandate withdrawal after 120 days, and it would not even allow for reinforcements. And so I think that means that the terrorists know that on day 121 there will be one less American soldier fighting, and that will be something that they have been working for for a long time. They believe that when the going gets tough, the Americans get going.

That's what they've been forecasting for a while, if you look back to the letters between Zarqawi and Zawahiri, that that's the -- that was their belief, that in Beirut and Somalia we left when it got tough. And so, taken all that, the President does hope that the Congress can just go ahead, get this bill up to his desk so that he can veto it, and then we can move forward and get a funding bill that the President can sign.

Questions.

Q I want to go back over some ground that I think you were trying to clarify a little bit this morning. You said that you felt like some of your comments yesterday had been misinterpreted or stretched a little bit. I guess what I want to ask is, the comments you made yesterday made it sound like the White House's view towards the Attorney General is, this is a mess and he needs to clean it up; we support him while he does that, but he needs to clean up this mess, which is slightly different than "we have full confidence in him, we want him to stay no matter what."

MS. PERINO: The reason I felt that I had been maybe misinterpreted is because I did say the President has full confidence in him, and some of the -- I heard someone said that I had tepid support of the Attorney General. That's not true. In fact, I talked to the President again this morning, after the gaggle. We had a chance to talk with him, and he does have 100 percent confidence in the Attorney General.

And, yes, indeed, the Justice Department has work to do, and the President has said that one of the biggest things -- one of the most important things they need to do is start with the document production, which they turned over thousands of documents, and as they find more they turn them over -- I believe that they have largely completed that now -- and that the Attorney General does need to continue to talk to members of Congress. And he can do that in a variety of ways. He can do it by telephone or by letter, and by certainly testifying. As you all know, Congress is going to be out for -- the Senate is going to be out for a week, and the House for two weeks, and his first hearing is scheduled for April 17th.

Q But it does sound like the White House is reserving judgment, saying you need to go and explain yourself, and the unsaid -- and the --

MS. PERINO: Oh, I --

Q -- the continuation of that is, if you don't, there might be consequences.

MS. PERINO: No, I think that the President has confidence that the Attorney General can overcome these challenges. And I think that you can full confidence in somebody and believe that they have -- still have work to do and believe that they're going to get that work done.

Q And can you rule out that he would have any prospective candidates either to Camp David, or down to the ranch next week?

MS. PERINO: I believe I can rule that out, yes.

Jim.

Q Do you think the President is risking looking out of touch on the Gonzales situation? This is normally a situation where you hear Republicans, senators, congressmen step out in support of somebody who's embattled.

MS. PERINO: To the contrary, I think that the --

Q And it's been very silent.

MS. PERINO: To the contrary, I think the Senate Democrats are the ones who could look out of touch. They have made such a spectacle of this. They have wanted to have the show trials, they have drug this out, they continue to make demands, whether moving the goal posts in terms of what they've asked for for the administration. I don't know how we could have been any more forthcoming, and still been within the bounds of the presidential prerogatives.

The Justice Department has said that they will testify, they've turned over documents, and then for our part, we said that we would turn over documents from -- between the White House and outsiders, and have four close advisors of the President testify. So I think if anyone looks out of touch, it's the Senate Democrats because they spend so much time on this, and not -- nothing else is being worked on. They're not funding the troops, they're not working on immigration, they're not working on education or energy or any of the other things that the American people care about.

Q With the possible exception of Orrin Hatch, can you name a Republican who has publicly supported --

MS. PERINO: I'm not going to get into -- I'm not going to get into list making.

Q But, I mean, this speaks to the point that there is nobody who supports the Attorney General in the Republican -- in the Republican Senate or --

MS. PERINO: I think that you've heard -- I think that you've heard members of Congress say that they want to hear from the Attorney General, and they're going to have an opportunity to do that on April 17th.

Q -- doesn't mean that they support him?

MS. PERINO: Well, they said -- they have legitimate questions. And we have said that the Attorney General needs to be able to address their concerns, and that's what he is going to do.

Q But it's no secret there are Republicans all over town who are shaking their head saying, why has the President so pugnaciously dug in on this?

MS. PERINO: There hasn't been evidence of any -- of anything improper or wrongdoing in the decision for the Justice Department to recommend the replacement of eight U.S. attorneys who serve at the pleasure of the President. And that's why the President continues to have confidence in the Attorney General that they -- that he runs a great department, they have wonderful employees who work there, they are moving forward on numerous corruption cases and helping prevent child exploitation.

And I just can't see how having show trials up on Capitol Hill would be any more out of touch with what the President is doing, which is getting on with the business of the day for the American people.

Q One follow on that. Do you characterize testimony in which the Chief of Staff of the Attorney General disputes the Attorney General's explanation as a show trial?

MS. PERINO: No, I'm talking about overall in terms of the spectacle. I think that this has been drug on for a week --

Q Is that part of the spectacle?

MS. PERINO: Well, look -- no, I didn't say that. I'm talking about -- we've been talking about this for weeks, and we have been working to try to get them the information that they need and get these requests in. The Attorney General, his office, Office of Public Affairs, issued a statement last night talking about how what he had said is that he was not involved in the day-to-day deliberations about evaluations regarding U.S. attorneys, that he had delegated that, and that he was periodically updated on it.

And that is consistent with what he said before, and I think that that's where people should try to take a step back and look at the -- look at the full picture.

Q Do you think that Kyle Sampson's testimony is consistent with what the Attorney General had to say about this?

MS. PERINO: The Attorney General worked to clarify his statements from the March 13th press conference in the interview that he did this week, in which he said that he periodically got updated from time-to-time, and I believe that's what Kyle Sampson said yesterday.

Q Dana, there are several -- you addressed some of this this morning, but there are several veterans groups calling this -- this event at Walter Reed a photo op. What's the response to that?

MS. PERINO: I think that's an unfortunate characterization. I think that any of you who have had an opportunity -- and I've been very fortunate to have been able to do a couple of times -- actually, a little bit -- maybe four -- to go with the President to go and see wounded soldiers. And there is no more personal moment that he has, and it's one of the -- one of the memories that I cherish the most of working for the President, because you see his gratitude, and they share hugs, and they share laughter, they share tears. And these are very personal moments.

We worked hard to find time on the President's schedule where he could spend three hours up there, which he's going to do today, visiting not just the patients, but the workers who -- the medical workers and the staff up there that provide the support to the soldiers.

And in addition to that, the President is going to make a speech. I would remind you that when this first came to light, the President said, I want to shine a bright light on this, I want to make sure we leave no stone unturned, I want to make sure that we are doing what we need to immediately at the Defense Department to have accountability, and the Veterans Affairs Department to make sure we're doing what we can immediately.

And in addition to that, he announced that Bob Dole and Donna Shalala would head up a commission to look at the long-term needs of our wounded -- wounded soldiers coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq.

So I think that characterization is unfortunate, given all of that history and given that the President is so committed.

Q Is the President satisfied with the immediate action has been taken? A lot of criticism was set up -- was setting up commissions takes a long time, but there was --

MS. PERINO: No, I think that the Secretary of Defense and Secretary Nicholson worked very hard to get immediate action done. The commission that the President is talking about is one that is looking for long-term, because these soldiers who are so bravely fighting today, and many of them who are getting -- who are wounded in battle are going to need our support and care for years to come. And so we want to make sure that we have all of that, including the mental health aspects of it.

Q Dana, you're saying basically because of scheduling? That's why it's taken the President so long --

MS. PERINO: What I'm saying, Elaine, is that the President immediately took action. And I don't think that anyone could disagree with that. The fact that the President is going up there and spending three hours today I think is significant.

Q But in terms of why he didn't go sooner. Why didn't he go?

MS. PERINO: You guys are asking me to answer a question that -- I just don't know if it's answerable. What I can tell you is that the President immediately took action. His Cabinet took action. He was very pleased that Secretary Gates took the action he did to hold those accountable that needed to be held accountable. And then Secretary Nicholson moved forward to make sure that they canvassed all across the country to make sure that immediate needs were getting taken care of.

And in addition to that, we're looking at the long-term care needs. And I don't think that any veterans group could disagree with the commitment of this President to make sure that these problems are taken care of in the near term, and for the long term, because we know it's going to be a long haul for these soldiers.

Q Going back to the Attorney General for a minute. You said that Republicans have legitimate questions, certainly, but at the same time, it sounds like you're saying Democrats --

MS. PERINO: Wait a minute, I didn't say -- no, I -- I think that all members of Congress have legitimate questions. I wasn't -- that wasn't in --

Q But on the Hill, Democrats who want to ask questions in the form of hearings, then you're saying that's a spectacle?

MS. PERINO: No, I think that some of their language and some of their rhetoric has been over the top. I think they have legitimate questions, and I think those questions can be legitimately answered. And I would just respectfully submit that we have worked very hard, from the Department of Justice standpoint and the White House, in order to be accommodating.

Q But I think their argument would be, when you have a Monica Goodling saying she's going to take the 5th, that there's not an openness there that allows that conversation --

MS. PERINO: I'm pretty certain that the lawyers who are also members of Congress, and senators, up on Capitol Hill, who understand the Constitution far better than I do, would understand that everyone has a right under the Constitution to invoke the 5th Amendment. And I'm not here to judge her decision, and I would refer questions about that to her attorney or to herself.

Q Dana, the Speaker of the House is traveling to Syria next week. Wondering what the White House's view on that is.

MS. PERINO: Well, as you know, we do not encourage -- in fact, we discourage members of Congress to make such visits to Syria. This is a country that is a state sponsor of terror, one that is trying to disrupt the Siniora government in Lebanon, and one that is allowing foreign fighters to flow into Iraq from its borders. And so we don't think it's productive to go to Syria and try to -- well, I don't know what she's trying to accomplish. I don't believe that anyone in the administration has spoken to her about it. But in general we do discourage such trips.

Q So specifically on this one -- this will be the highest-ranking U.S. official to go to Syria since the Hariri assassination, even before that, and apparently she's going to meet with President Assad. Would you have a specific message to the Speaker of the House about meeting with President Assad at a time when the administration has even withdrawn our ambassador from Damascus?

MS. PERINO: Well, again, I don't know if anyone has spoken to the Speaker. I do think that, as a general rule -- and this would go for Speaker of the House Pelosi and this apparent trip that she is going to be taking -- that we don't think it's a good idea. We think that someone should take a step back and think about the message that it sends, and the message that it sends to our allies. I'm not sure what the hopes are to -- what she's hoping to accomplish there. I know that Assad probably really wants people to come and have a photo opportunity and have tea with him, and have discussions about where they're coming from, but we do think that's a really bad idea.

Q Can I just come back to the Iraq statement?

MS. PERINO: Sure.

Q Is Congress irresponsible for going on vacation right now? Should they come back early? Should the President be asking them to?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that that's a judgment that they're going to have to make. We believe that the troops need their funding. They've had 53 days to contemplate it. Department of Defense Secretary Gates and General Pete Pace have told them that there are very real consequences happening today because they don't have this money. And so if the Speaker is traveling on these international -- if the Speaker is going on an international trip, I don't know how many other members of Congress are doing the same. But I would hope that their hearts are in the right place, and that they would want to make sure that at least they're appointing conferees to have discussions during this recess. And apparently the House didn't appoint conferees before they left.

Peter.

Q Dana, normally when a congressional leader goes on a trip, no matter what party they're in, they consult with the State Department. Were there any consultations between her and --

MS. PERINO: I don't know. I just learned about this trip right before I came out here. We'll check. Our initial check was that nobody was aware of any discussions, but we'll confirm and let you know.

Q Do you know, did anyone from the White House try to dissuade her from going on this trip?

MS. PERINO: As far as I know, we just found about it. I just found about it.

Q And one on the U.S. attorneys, too, please. The past couple of days you've mentioned all these other vehicles that Gonzales could use to communicate with Congress. Are there any plans -- you've listed them, but are there any concrete plans for him to make individual lobbying calls or visits with anyone --

MS. PERINO: I'd have to refer you over to Department of Justice to get an update on their plans. I know that the Attorney General is up in Boston today, and he did have a press availability. It was happening as we were walking over here, so I'm not sure if they made any -- if the Attorney General made any statements in answering that question in terms of specific plans. But I'd have to refer you over there for now.

Q How do you think this is going to play out between now and when he testifies?

MS. PERINO: Well, I would hope that if the decision is -- if the decision has been made by the Democrats that the hearing is going to be held on April 17th, that people would respectfully wait until having a chance to hear that testimony. But, again, the Attorney General may decide to make some more phone calls, or maybe have more media availabilities in order to get this information out.

Q And what's been over the top? You've used that phrase --

MS. PERINO: I think some of the rhetoric in terms of claiming that there was wrongdoing or falsehoods, or that -- especially I think one of the things that's been over the top is a suggestion where there is no evidence that there was political interference in terms of preventing public corruption cases from moving forward. I think that's definitely over the top.

Q Dana, two for you. First, do you have an update on the U.S.-South Korea trade situation?

MS. PERINO: Not since this morning, when I was able to tell you that the talks were not going well. Maybe -- we might know something by the end of the day.

Q Okay. And the second one is, you repeatedly called the Democrats' approach to this, show trials. What then -- how would you describe the way the Iranians are treating the British soldiers, sailors, who have been taken?

MS. PERINO: Look, Tony Blair has made his comments and we strongly stand behind him. We believe that Iran should make the decision to immediately and unconditionally release the 15 British soldiers that are being held there in Iran. We believe, as Tony Blair has said, that the British soldiers were in Iraqi waters and that they need to be returned immediately -- not only the soldiers be returned, but their -- the British equipment, as well.

Q Do you have a response then to the specific -- to the stage management of this, where you're now seeing confessions from -- or alleged confessions from British sailors on television; they've been shown blindfolded, captive --

MS. PERINO: Well, it's certainly a concern, and we share the very serious concerns of the -- that the British have commented on, and the United Nations now has made a statement, as well. And I think that anybody looking at those British soldiers who are asked to make those statements, I can't imagine what their families are going through. It must be very hard for them.

Q Are we closer right now to an armed confrontation, armed conflict at all because of what's happened?

MS. PERINO: There's no indication of that, no. I believe that we -- everyone believes that it can be solved diplomatically.

Q Are these sailors and Marines hostages?

MS. PERINO: I believe that's how Tony Blair has referred to them, yes.

Q On immigration, can you take a second to explain the President's modifications to his proposal, how he thinks it would make it more workable, and perhaps fairer all the way around in terms of the treatment of illegals?

MS. PERINO: Well, remember in the State of the Union, the President said that this was one of the priorities that he has for this year. And so we have been working with Republicans and talking to them about how to get some more cohesion there, in order to then go to the Democrats and start working on a bill. There are discussion points that are underway right now, and I think what the President stands firm on are the principles that were laid out, which is we must have better border enforcement; we have to have better interior enforcement -- that includes work site enforcement -- we have to make sure that a temporary worker program can be put in place so that these people who want to come over and work can do so, and not live in the shadows; and then there has to be some way, without amnesty and without animosity, to allow people to figure out a way to be able to be in America legally.

And so we are working with Capitol Hill, but we're optimistic that we're going to be able to make some headway.

Q Can you explain just in general, quickly, what the adjustments are that the President is making to the --

MS. PERINO: I think I'll decline to do that from here, since there are discussion points and nothing concrete, but I think we are making some progress. And there's a range of issues -- it's a very complicated matter, and there's lots of different strings that you can pull on in different areas. And so I can tell you that there are a lot of people in the administration who are working full-time on it, and Scott Stanzel, in our office, is handling those day-to-day questions.

Q Just to clarify, in terms of what Chertoff and Gutierrez have been promoting on the Hill, the President has totally been briefed on that and signed off on the proposals?

MS. PERINO: The President is kept updated on the discussions that are ongoing with the administration and the discussions with the Republicans, and then the work to talk with the Democrats in order to see if we can get some resolution. So he's regularly updated.

Q And one quick question on the attorneys. Has there been a schedule in the mind of Mr. Fielding about when he might be able to respond to Mr. Conyers and Mr. Waxman with their outstanding questions related to email policy, a whole host of things, getting documents that aren't related to the interviews --

MS. PERINO: I haven't talked to Fred about that. I know that he has received the letter and we'll respond when we can.

Q Do you have any idea?

MS. PERINO: I don't, but we can check with Fred.

Victoria.

Q How can we have confidence in the President's 100 percent support for Secretary Gonzales, the Attorney General, when he also had support for Mr. Rumsfeld, 100 percent, right up to the time that he was fired or resigned?

MS. PERINO: What I can tell you is I spoke to the President this morning and he has -- the Attorney General has the President's full confidence.

Q And going back to something you said this morning when we were talking about his testimony for the 17th, you mentioned that the committee could ask him to testify earlier than that. But it's also a two-way street; if he wants to testify earlier, he could also approach the committee, or you could suggest --

MS. PERINO: No. The Democrats are, as we all know, they run Capitol Hill now and they run the schedules, and they made the invitation for the date that they made it. What I was saying, as well, was that I had seen a report that the Democrats had said if he wanted to come testify earlier, that he could -- but then when I checked with Department of Justice Legislative Affairs, they said they had not heard from the committee on that.

Goyal.

Q Two quick questions. One, U.S. always considers Saudi Arabia the greatest supporter and friend for the United States and an ally. And even the United States and the international community tolerated their supporting for terrorism and funding around the world in the name of charity. Today Saudi King is accusing the United States and the international community as far as the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine is concerned, rather than condemning terrorism that they are supporting --

MS. PERINO: What's the question, Goyal?

Q So how does President feel that his friend is accusing the United States, rather than condemning terrorism, that we are fighting terrorism?

MS. PERINO: Well, the United States and Saudi Arabia do have a close and cooperative relationship. And we've worked very closely with them since 9/11. Sean McCormack yesterday said that through diplomatic channels they were reaching out to the King in order to clarify. And so I'll have to refer you to Sean or to the State Department.

Q Another international question -- how the President feel that Washington Post and the Washington Times have been reporting for weeks -- also CNN, special reports that there's still madrasas are there in Pakistan and they're being trained militantly and in terrorism? And also, ongoing massive protests against the military government -- how does the President feel about this? Is he worried about it?

MS. PERINO: The President believes that President Musharraf is working very hard in order to keep terror from leaving Pakistan and in order to defeat the enemy who is living within Pakistan, as well.

I see Jim looking at his Blackberry -- that can't be good. (Laughter.)

Q Two questions from the Blackberry.

MS. PERINO: Two questions on the Blackberry? Well, Les isn't here, so I guess you can have two. (Laughter.)

Q Now, is that necessary? (Laughter.)

MS. PERINO: Well, I looked out and he wasn't here.

Q Are they going to be that good?

Q Okay, this one is for the network.

MS. PERINO: From WorldNet Daily? (Laughter.)

Q I can't imagine they'd have somebody they'd want asking questions less than they'd want me asking questions for the WorldNet Daily.

Apparently, Alberto Gonzales says now, in Boston, he did not recall being involved in talks on dismissing individual federal prosecutors -- which, I suppose --

MS. PERINO: That's what he's said before.

Q Well, it would counter the direct testimony given yesterday.

MS. PERINO: But the way I took the testimony yesterday was that the AG periodically got updates about the process, and that's what Kyle said yesterday. And the AG has said that before.

Q Secondly, I just want to clarify what you said at the beginning about the President being surprised that Congress went on vacation.

MS. PERINO: No, it was surprise that they did not appoint conferees before they left.

Q Right, and I think you may have answered this before, but I just want to make sure I got it for the record. Why not call them back?

MS. PERINO: I think -- I think that would be quite a dramatic step. I think that this is -- if the Congress --

Q It's a dramatic situation.

MS. PERINO: Well, I'm not -- I'm not going to rule it in or out as we go along the way, but there's been no -- I haven't heard any discussion of that outside of this room. But what we do believe is that if the members are serious, as they say they are, that they want to support the troops, and they want to fully fund the troops, then they have an opportunity to do so.

Q But he won't call them back?

MS. PERINO: I've heard -- I've not heard that discussed outside of people asking that question in this room.

Q Thank you.

Q And he said April 15th is when the money starts to run out -- why wouldn't he call them back?

MS. PERINO: General Pace said that actually, money has started running out, and they -- well, they've started to make some changes and adjustments, as of yesterday. I refer you to that testimony.

Q Why doesn't he, then, call them back?

MS. PERINO: I think that if -- again, you all are asking me to speculate on something that I haven't heard discussed anywhere else. I think that the members have a responsibility to the troops and to their constituents to do their jobs.

Q Okay, thank you.

MS. PERINO: Thank you.

END 1:12 P.M. EDT

* four close advisors of the President be interviewed.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070330-5.html
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batmanchester
Posted: Mar 30 2007, 05:23 PM


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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 30, 2007

Cancer Control Month, 2007
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

Cancer Control Month is an opportunity to educate all Americans about cancer, to raise awareness about treatments, and to renew our commitment to fighting this deadly disease.

Through developments in medical science, we continue to make advances in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Yet millions of our citizens continue to live with some form of this disease, and it remains the second leading cause of death in the United States. Individuals can reduce their risk of developing cancer by practicing healthy eating habits, exercising, limiting sun exposure, avoiding tobacco, knowing their family history, and getting regular screenings from the doctor.

My Administration remains committed to the fight against cancer. In 2005, the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute launched the Cancer Genome Atlas, a revolutionary research project to help scientists understand the genetic sources of cancer. The discoveries from this project have the potential to bring about rapid advances in cancer research. And last year the National Institutes of Health invested more than $5 billion in cancer research.

We are making progress. Cancer related deaths have declined for 2 consecutive years. Thirty years ago, there were only 3 million cancer survivors, and today there are more than 10 million.

During Cancer Control Month, we remember those who have lost their lives to cancer. And we commend the determination, courage, and strength of cancer survivors. Our Nation is grateful for medical professionals, researchers, family members, and friends who support cancer patients. Their dedication to these individuals is a reflection of the true spirit of America. Our country will continue the fight against cancer until it is won.

In 1938, the Congress of the United States passed a joint resolution (52 Stat. 148; 36 U.S.C. 103) as amended, requesting the President to issue an annual proclamation declaring April as "Cancer Control Month."

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 April 2007 as Cancer Control Month. I encourage citizens, government agencies, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, and other interested groups to join in activities that will increase awareness about the steps Americans can take to prevent and control cancer.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of March, 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

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070330-4.html
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Stronghold1
Posted: Apr 3 2007, 05:27 PM


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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 2, 2007

Press Briefing by Dana Perino
White House Conference Center Briefing Room

12:45 P.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: One announcement, and then we'll go to questions.

It's been 56 days since the President sent up his request for more money for the troops, and Democrats in Congress left town last week without finishing their work. It appears they're still content to work on a bill that does not have serious plans to fund troops or make Iraq, America and the world more secure, but, rather, attempt at forcing us into giving up on Iraq without regard to the consequences of failure.

The authors of these bills clearly do not understand what it means to mandate and legislate a withdrawal from Iraq. Just yesterday, a Democratic leader described the debate in Congress as a political dance; while another said the goal was not great legislation, but rounding up votes and sending an anti-war message. Well, they've delivered their message; it's time now for Congress to deliver the money to our troops.

In addition to that, the President has just received from the House Republicans a letter with proof that the House does not have enough votes to override the President's veto. So it's time that we believe the Congress get serious in supporting General Petraeus and the troops and the ground, and not mandate and legislate failure with the current path that they're on with this Iraq war spending bill.

Questions. Jennifer.

Q Thanks. The Speaker said in Beirut today that -- first of all, she's criticizing the White House for what she says is ignoring other Republican lawmakers who have made trips to Syria in recent days. And, also, she said she thinks it's a good idea to establish facts and to try to build confidence with Syria. Why is that not a good idea? And how is that just a photo op?

MS. PERINO: Let me unpack that a little bit. First of all, last week when I was asked about her specific trip, I said in my comments that, in general, we discourage members from going to the region. And that is true. In fact, I looked back, when Tony Snow was asked at this podium months ago, when Senator Nelson made a similar trip, he said the same, that this was a blanket policy -- but I was asked a specific question about Speaker Pelosi, which is why I said that.

Speaker Pelosi is a high-ranking United States official. Nothing changes -- nothing has changed in Syria's behavior over the years when high-ranking U.S. officials go to see them. We sent Secretary Powell early on; the behavior doesn't change. Syria uses these opportunities to flaunt photo opportunities around its country and around the region and around the world, to say that they aren't isolated, that they don't need to change their behavior, and it alleviates the pressure that we are trying to put on them to change their behavior.

And by changing their behavior I mean as in, stop undermining the democratically elected government of Lebanon; stop allowing foreign fighters to flow from Syria into Iraq, in which they are then killing American soldiers and innocent Iraqis and Iraqi soldiers. They are state sponsors of terrorism, of both Hezbollah and Hamas, and they support Palestinian terrorism.

And so that was the reason that we said that we discouraged her from going. But that policy applies to all. So I think that maybe she wasn't able to see my exact comments, so I won't judge her on that. But the policy applies everywhere.

Q With the court's decision today, will the President direct the EPA to decide whether greenhouse gases contribute to the changing climate?

MS. PERINO: I saw that opinion, that ruling. There were several of them that came out today. We haven't had a chance to review the opinion in full. People at EPA and across the government are going to have to do that. I can't speak to the broader implications of the bill. One thing I can say is part of this case that was being argued was with respect to vehicles and regulating CO2 out of the tailpipe. And one of the ways that you do that is by making cars more efficient, so burning less gas, going more miles. And that's precisely what we have been working to do with our increases in mileage standards for both light trucks, SUVs, and we have asked for that same authority in regards to cars. We don't have that authority now, but the President asked for it two years ago, and then again in his State of the Union.

In addition to that, the other way you get there is by mandating alternative fuels and biofuels. And in the President's State of the Union address he said that he wanted to get 35 billion gallons of alternative fuels mandated within 10 years. We call that the 20-in-10 program, which means reducing gasoline consumption by 20 percent in 10 years. The way you get there for our program is to increase CAFE standards and to increase these mandatory alternative fuels.

But in regards to this case -- so in that regard, we are regulating the vehicle sector. As far as the broader implications about the case, we're going to have to let EPA take a good look at it, and they're going to have to analyze it and think about what it means for any future policy decisions.

Q Well, on a broader face, why did the administration and the EPA refuse to take a position on whether greenhouse gases cause global warming?

MS. PERINO: No, we -- that's actually not what the case was saying. We have long said that greenhouse gases are contributing to a warming planet, and that human-generated carbon dioxide is a large contributor to that aspect of it.

Q Then it wasn't an EPA policy, which is what this case is about.

MS. PERINO: The question was -- it is a legal question of whether or not the federal government has the legal authority to regulate greenhouse gases as a pollutant. And the prior administration said that they thought they had that legal authority, but they did not take action. We questioned whether we did have the legal authority. Now the Supreme Court has settled that matter for us, and we're going to have to take a look and analyze it and see where we go from there.

Go ahead, Bob.

Q Back to war funding. As I'm sure you're aware, Senator Reid is now saying that he's signing on to the more stringent legislation, the Feingold legislation. Do you have a comment on that?

MS. PERINO: There's just these shifting sands when it comes to the Democrats and their decisions. It's almost shifting so fast it's like a sandstorm. Last Thursday the Senate Democrats passed a bill that said that -- that mandated our troops leaving within 120 days from last Thursday. Over the weekend, when we said this money is going to run out in April, and he said, oh, no, no, no, they'll be fine until July -- well, then, what is it? Are you wanting troops to leave 120 days from last Thursday, or 120 days from July or whenever it is that you get this bill to the President's desk?

In addition to that, I don't know if there was polling that was run over the weekend that led them to make -- led Senator Reid to make yet another decision and take another position on this bill, but I do know is that standing with the troops means getting them the money that they need now. The Department of Defense has already said that there are impacts; there are detrimental impacts if we don't get this money soon.

In addition to that, I saw some people wondering over the weekend why we had not criticized the Congress last year when the money didn't come by the mid-April time frame. There were some complaints, but we also knew that we were getting closer to a bill that the President could sign. What we know now is that the President has said he's not going to sign the two bills that are underway. And so we respectfully ask the Congress to come back and get that work done for the troops.

Toby.

Q Dana, do you know anything about an American missing in Iran? And, also --

MS. PERINO: I have heard those reports from the State Department. I believe Sean McCormack -- I don't know if he has spoken about that today at his briefing, but we have heard that there may be an American citizen in Iran. It's not completely a unique scenario to have an American citizen go missing there and possibly need consular support. But the State Department is working to seek out as much information as possible, ascertain the facts, find out if he does need any support or help. And I just don't have any further details, but I can tell you the State Department is looking into it.

Q And what does the President think about the video showing the British soldiers in Iran saying that they were actually in Iranian waters?

MS. PERINO: I think you heard from the President on Saturday, he fully stands behind Tony Blair and the British government in their attempts to return their sailors and their equipment. I think the President believes that the Brits have shown that the sailors were in Iraqi waters and that they need to be returned immediately and unconditionally.

Martha.

Q Dana, did the President use the word "hostage" for a specific reason yesterday -- changing it from "captives" to "hostage"? That seems to turn up the heat on this.

MS. PERINO: No. And I saw Tony Blair had used the same word in previous days.

Q And he considers them hostages, captive --

MS. PERINO: Well, they were taken -- as the President said, they were doing nothing wrong, they were summarily plucked out of the water and are being held. So the President believes that's appropriate language. But I stress to you the President stands behind Tony Blair and we reject any notion that suggests that we are ratcheting up the language in terms of trying to prepare to go to war with Iran; that is certainly not the case.

Q And just a little bit more on the American missing in Iran. It said -- the State Department said he had been missing since early March. Do you know why we're just hearing about this?

MS. PERINO: No, I don't. I just really don't have any more information about his whereabouts; I don't know when they reached out. So we'll try to find out more information, but probably that -- just for all of you here, I think a lot of that information is going to be able to come from the State Department, not the White House.

Q Dana, on the testifying for Attorney General Gonzales, you've expressed a wish, the White House has expressed a wish that it be sooner rather than later. Some critics have said the reason for that push is to take the heat off Karl Rove and Harriet Miers in the push for testimony under oath. How do you respond to that?

MS. PERINO: I think that as much as they've tried to rub sticks together to try to create heat around Harriet Miers and Karl Rove, it's just not successful. So our offer stands for -- the President said they can go up and have interviews. I think that there is no credible allegation of any wrongdoing. The Attorney General would like to go up to Congress, would like to answer all their questions and be fully responsive and get on with the business of the people.

Q Another topic, the Supreme Court rejected one of the appeals by the Guantanamo detainees today. Does the Bush administration see that as some sort of a victory today?

MS. PERINO: Well, certainly, we're pleased with the decision and, again, with all the Supreme Court decisions that come out around 10:30 a.m. We don't have a chance to fully review them and for me to get fully briefed on them, because it takes me a little while to understand everything. But, yes, I think on first glance we're very pleased with the decision.

Q But there is a sense that there will be -- this will come to a head in the Supreme Court again.

MS. PERINO: Well, we'll have to see. I can't forecast that. But I think we're pleased with today's decision.

Q To follow up on Bill's question, just so I'm clear. Is the administration going to take a fresh look at the emissions, and are we considering -- are you saying we're considering regulating greenhouse gases on new cars?

MS. PERINO: No. What I'm saying -- I'm sorry, I have to decouple those two things. In regards to the broader possible applications -- or implications of the Supreme Court's decision regarding greenhouse gases, we'll have to take a look. I would remind you and refer you to EPA's website, CEQ's website, in terms of all the things the President is doing. The main one, let me point out, is that the President, in 2001 -- sorry, 2002 -- established a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emission's intensity, which is the rate of growth of greenhouse gas emissions, by 18 percent by 2012. We are now in 2007, and we are on track -- well on track to meet the President's goal. And there are many other programs that we've been pursuing, both domestically and internationally.

When it comes to this particular case, EPA versus Massachusetts, and the question was whether or not the EPA should regulate greenhouse gas emissions coming out of the tailpipe, my point was that we do regulate emissions coming out of the tailpipe. We do it through the Department of Transportation's CAFE program. And the way to get cars to be more efficient is to burn less gas and to go more miles. And that's what we've been working to do, but we've done that in a way to make sure that the safety of passengers is taken into account, because the lighter you make the car, the more -- possibly the more dangerous it can be for passengers who could get in an accident.

Q But is there an appetite to raise the standard?

MS. PERINO: Well, we already have raised the standard twice for SUVs, and we're looking at a third one. And then we've asked Congress for the authority to do the same for cars. So we're already well down that road. I can't tell you an exact number, because we try to do that based on the experts at the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration.

John.

Q Back on the Speaker's trip. Is it your view that her trip is, effectively, endangering U.S. troops in the region?

MS. PERINO: I'm not suggesting that. I think that the people who are endangering U.S. troops in the region are the people who are perpetrating the violence, and the Syrians, who are allowing these foreign fighters to cross the border into Iraq unabated. There's no judgment in regards to her actions leading to any possible troop being attacked by someone coming from Syria, no. What I'm saying is that it sends the wrong message; it alleviates the pressure off of Syria from things that I mentioned before, which is the human rights situation in Syria, the Palestinian terrorism situation, the support of Hamas and Hezbollah, undermining Siniora's government, the democratically-elected government of Lebanon.

These things are real. We want Assad to take action and change his behavior in regards to those items. But the more U.S. officials go there and try to talk with him, the less he feels the pressure to change. And so we haven't seen change in many years, and we think that the best thing to do is to keep them -- to show that they are isolated and that their behavior is unacceptable.

Victoria.

Q Last week I asked you about Alberto Gonzales' testimony before the committee, and why didn't he suggest to them that he would like to testify earlier. And you said to me that as they had invited him, that they should be the ones to suggest that he testify earlier. Then suddenly Dan Bartlett says over the weekend that he wants to testify earlier. So what changed?

MS. PERINO: The Attorney General thinks it's in everyone's best interests, and we agree with him, that he be able to get up and talk to Congress sooner than later. I think the American people would like to see us resolve this so that we can move on and work on other things. So we'd like to see the hearing moved up to next week.

Q Did Kyle Sampson's testimony change that?

MS. PERINO: No, I think it's been a culmination of factors. It has dragged on for many weeks. It seems to heat up over the last couple of weeks. And I think that the Attorney General thinks it's in everyone's best interests if he testifies earlier.

Q So he doesn't feel that this is starting to get a little bit too hot?

MS. PERINO: No, he just wants to clear the air. They've been fully responsive in terms of the document requests. And now that that's completed, I think it now makes sense to try to move that hearing up. If the senators are going to be here next week, I see no reason why they couldn't go ahead and have that hearing.

Q This week's Economist, which is a fairly friendly magazine, refers to the Bush administration --

MS. PERINO: Fairly friendly to who? (Laughter.)

Q Fairly friendly to the Bush administration --

MS. PERINO: Wow.

Q -- refers to the Bush administration as "this most inept of presidencies." I wondered if you had a comment.

MS. PERINO: No.

Peter, did you have one? Not to stump you.

Q I want to clarify on the -- you're saying it was a bad idea, then, for Speaker Pelosi to go for all these various reasons to Syria. It's a bad idea, then, for Jim Baker to have gone, a bad idea for Frank Wolf to go as well, right?

MS. PERINO: We think that it is not a good idea for U.S. officials to go and meet with Assad, because it alleviates that pressure, and also because meetings haven't produced anything. They've been meeting just to meet, and he doesn't change his behavior. In fact, he uses those meetings as a reason to say that he doesn't need to do anything.

Q When you don't meet with him, he doesn't change his behavior either.

MS. PERINO: Well, we'll see.

April.

Q Dana, is there a fear -- back on the Pelosi trip -- is there a fear that Pelosi will go and meet with government officials there and show that there are two U.S. policies on Syria, versus one policy that the President has stated?

MS. PERINO: Well, I don't know what she was planning to say in that meeting. I would believe that she agrees with us, in terms of the aspects that I've laid out. So I don't know what she's planning to say. We do think it sends the wrong message for U.S. officials to go and meet with him.

Q To follow up on that, is it a contradiction that the President is denouncing the trip, but, yet, is ready for a readout when she comes back?

MS. PERINO: I was asked this morning if she had responded -- or if she had sent back any messages. I said, I don't know, I'm sure that she'd be willing to. If she wants to share information that she found out from her trip to the Middle East, I'm sure we'll be willing to hear it.

Q But isn't that a contradiction, though? If you're denouncing it, why do you want to hear about it?

MS. PERINO: April, that is not a contradiction. What I said is that if she wanted to share, I'm sure we will listen. Imagine if I had said the opposite, you'd be asking me much tougher questions. (Laughter.)

Q Just going to seek your comments on the Matthew Dowd interview over the weekend.

MS. PERINO: I don't know Matthew Dowd. I wish I did. I have heard nothing but fabulous things about him over the years. I know people are very fond of him. Obviously, war brings out a lot of emotions in different people, and possibly changing emotions, as he laid out in the New York Times. And, obviously, not being a close friend of his, I don't know as well as others might about the personal journey he's been on over the past couple of years. But we certainly can respect his views, but respectfully disagree with some of the assertions that he made in the article. But we certainly wish him the very best. He's a really good guy.

Q What does that mean, personal journey?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that he's had some personal hardship, and also he has a son who's volunteered to serve in our Armed Forces and he's going to be deploying to Iraq. And I can only imagine that that affects a parent's thinking.

Q And so it's really about him, and not about you, about the President, the White House, and the things that he's seen go wrong?

MS. PERINO: No, he might very well have those opinions, but we can respectfully disagree with -- for example, where I think one of the allegations was that the President is isolated. But I think many of you in this room have said increasingly, the President has been listening to a lot of different voices, and dissenting voices and dissenting opinions. And we certainly did that in the Iraq review on the way towards the President's new policy that he announced on January 10th.

Q He's raised "personal journey," which was used yesterday, as well, on television -- it seems to be implying it's really all about him, it has nothing to do with any legitimate disagreement with the White House.

MS. PERINO: No, I think he has a legitimate disagreement, but I also know that he has had some personal hardship.

Q Is that related? Is that relevant?

MS. PERINO: I don't know. I don't know Matthew and --

Q Then why do you bring it up?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that -- he brought it up in the article, and I think that it's relevant. And I think that it's true that when you have a parent who is going to see his or her son or daughter heading off to war, in a war that is -- where we are fighting a very determined enemy, in which the Congress is not fully backing the troops, it would be a concern. And I'm just not going to judge him. I'm going to allow him to have his views and wish him well.

Les.

Q Yes, thank you, Dana. Two questions on American business. In the --

MS. PERINO: American business for 200. (Laughter.) I've always wanted to be on that show. Go ahead, Les, I'm sorry.

Q That's all right. In the just released 2007 annual report of The Washington Post Company, Chairman Donald Graham writes, "The Washington Post circulation continued to fall, and a sharp drop in classified advertising raised questions about the future of our business." Question, since The Washington Post is a leading part of one of this nation's most important businesses, do you and the President share Don Graham's expressed questioning about its future?

MS. PERINO: No. I think that the free press is alive and well.

Q By striking contrast, The New York Post is constantly gaining circulation. And my question, do you and the President believe that The Washington Post might also gain, rather than lose, if its editorial and reportorial writing were more like The New York Post rather than like The New York Times, which is also seriously losing circulation?

MS. PERINO: Maybe they ought to look at the tabloid format, I don't know.

Q But how about the content, not just --

MS. PERINO: I'm not going to comment on that.

Olivier.

Q Just to clear one thing up about the Pelosi visit, are you asking her to reconsider, or have you spoken your piece now and --

MS. PERINO: We had already discouraged her from going, and other members we do not encourage them to go to Syria. But at the end of the day, every American citizen, including members of Congress, get to make their own decision, and that was a decision they made.

Q Okay, so you're not -- this is not, like, some last appeal to say, please don't go tomorrow?

MS. PERINO: No, not from me. You can -- there might be others at the State Department or somebody who would make that.

Go ahead, John.

Q Dana, just to follow on that, you would have preferred that Frank Wolf had not gone to Syria.

MS. PERINO: Our policy and our feelings apply to everybody.

Paula.

Q You mentioned a few moments ago about the administration's greenhouse gas emissions goals and timetables. Well, could you explain why you measure this in intensity as far as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, because it's been said you could do that by production unit but without a cap on production, you could actually meet that goal and not reduce overall greenhouse gases.

MS. PERINO: I'm not an economist. I barely know what intensity means. I have a very tenuous hold on what that means. But I do know that slowing the rate of growth was important, in regards to the economy. We did not move forward with a full, mandatory cap because we believe that it would have been harmful to United States businesses.

But let me point out, it's not just about the business aspect of it. When you're talking about global emissions, that means -- global means global. So everyone is emitting up into the air. And if there are no actions taken by the major developing countries, like China and India -- China, which is, on average, building one coal-fired power plant a week -- you're going to put the American economy at a great disadvantage, push American businesses overseas, and then do nothing for the environment.

And so our approach has been multilateral and aggressive on various, different aspects of it. But it's the cap that we rejected, and they decided early on in 2002 -- and I can refer you to Jim Connaughton for the thinking behind those decisions.

Q But, again, this was set in 2002. There's been mounting evidence since then about temperatures rising, everything --

MS. PERINO: Absolutely. Climate change is a very real challenge. In fact, we have scientists this week that are at the U.N. meeting, at the IPCC. This is the second in a series of reports that they'll be doing, and they're full participants in the meeting and thinking about it. But I will point out to you that it is the United States who has had better performance in terms of reducing greenhouse gases, but with a stronger growing economy than many of the other countries -- I think most of the other countries who signed on to the Kyoto agreement.

Q Thank you.

MS. PERINO: Just one more in the back, just for Joanie.

Q Can you give the President's reaction to the FTA agreement in Korea last night, and also, how he thinks that will affect East Asia and the United States?

MS. PERINO: Well, the President was very pleased to notify Congress last night that we had finally, after much wrangling and late-night hours, reached a deal. America is a Pacific Rim country, and we have a lot of cultural and trade ties with East Asia. Our relations have never been better than they are today. And we're very pleased that the agreement was able to move forward, and looking forward to working with Korea not only on the trade agreement, but also on the security issues, such as the six-party talks that we're negotiating with them in regards to North Korea.

Q Thank you.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070402-4.html
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Stronghold1
Posted: Apr 3 2007, 05:29 PM


Member


Group: Gone
Posts: 22
Member No.: 3,597
Joined: 3-April 07



For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 2, 2007

Executive Order: Renaming a National Forest in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 1 of the Act of June 4, 1897 (16 U.S.C. 473) and section 1 of the Act of July 1, 1902 (48 U.S.C. 746), and to rename the Caribbean National Forest in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. The Caribbean National Forest in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is hereby renamed the "El Yunque National Forest."

Sec. 2. Previous references to the Caribbean National Forest in Executive Order 7059-A of June 4, 1935, and Executive Order 10992 of February 9, 1962, shall, for all purposes hereafter, be deemed references to the "El Yunque National Forest."

Sec. 3. This order shall be implemented in accordance with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

Sec. 4. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, agencies, entities, officers, employees, or agents thereof, or any other person.

GEORGE W. BUSH

THE WHITE HOUSE,

April 2, 2007.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...4/20070402.html
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 4 2007, 02:45 PM


If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.


Group: Members
Posts: 4,823
Member No.: 856
Joined: 4-November 06



Press Gaggle by Gordon Johndroe
Aboard Air Force One
En route California


RSS Feed Press Briefings

11:19 A.M. EDT

MR. JOHNDROE: Good morning. The President had his normal briefings this morning, and is on his way to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California. Established in 1982, the NTC is the Army's premier desert training facility, preparing combat units for warfare. The NTC has been reshaped in the last three years to better prepare units for the challenges of combat in the global war on terror.

Key elements of this change include a greater emphasis on language and culture, training for the use of Iraqi-American role-players, the construction of 12 urban combat facilities, and a shift from high-intensity desert combat to an emphasis on counter-insurgency operations.

The President will see three demonstrations -- an IED insurgent cell briefing that he will get, see a route clearance demonstration, and then also get an overview of IED defeat systems; so all part of the training that goes on at the National Training Center.

He will then have lunch with military families and personnel. In his remarks, the President will thank the members of the Armed Services for the work they do, and also thank the families for the sacrifices that they make, as well. After that, he'll meet with the families of fallen soldiers, and then participate in a reception in California for the RNC. We arrive in Texas late tonight.

Two more things. The President and Mrs. Bush will welcome the Prime Minister of Japan and Mrs. Abe to the White House on April 26th for dinner. On April 27th, the two leaders will meet at Camp David and will review the continuing strong cooperation on bilateral alliance matters and in economic relations. And the press office will issue a statement on that later today.

And finally, it's been 58 days since the President requested funding for our troops. He's disappointed Congress left Washington without finishing their work. The President can sign a bill anywhere, anytime. Our troops are waiting for that money, and the President is waiting for a bill that doesn't tie the hands of our commanders on the ground.

Questions?

Q Why the -- what's the significance about the line about the President can sign a bill anywhere, anytime?

MR. JOHNDROE: As the President said yesterday, he's hopeful that Congress will get its work done because the troops need the money. They need the funding to complete the mission.

Q Gordon, any more you can tell us about the release of the British sailors? Does this sort of ease the tension at all between the U.S. and Iran?

MR. JOHNDROE: I know that Prime Minister Blair has welcomed this. We share his sentiments. But this was very recent information, so we need to see how this develops.

Q I don't understand what's developed -- maybe I missed it. Did they let the British troops leave Iran?

MR. JOHNDROE: The Iranians have just made this announcement, so I think information is still coming in.

Q -- talked at all that it's Iranian personnel that the United States may be holding in Iraq -- was there -- do you know if there was any discussion about that?

MR. JOHNDROE: I have no information that indicates there's any linkage between these two issues.

Q Which two? Sorry.

Q I was asking if there was a link between -- if there was any talk about the Iranians we're holding in Iraq. So, as far as you know, that did not come up?

MR. JOHNDROE: No.

Q We're still holding them, right? At least --

MR. JOHNDROE: Yes, in Iraq, yes.

Q So, in terms of the number of days since the Congress has had the funding request, there's some dispute about that from the Hill. They say they didn't really get a final version until a few weeks ago. Do you know what you're basing your day count on?

MR. JOHNDROE: The day the President released the budget. He released both the FY 2008 budget, as well as the FY 2007 budget -- released them both together and with as much information and specifics as possible that the Congress has called for in the past.

Q That was enough for them to have been able to start working on a bill --

MR. JOHNDROE: Yes.

Q Will the President mention the supplemental in his remarks in Fort Irwin?

MR. JOHNDROE: His remarks are primarily to thank the soldiers and their families for the work and the sacrifice they make, talk about the war on terror. But, yes, he will also reiterate his call for Congress to pass funding for the troops.

Q What can you tell us about the RNC event?

MR. JOHNDROE: I'd refer you to RNC for any information on that.

Q Can you tell us if it's at Brad Freeman's house, is that right?

MR. JOHNDROE: In a private residence.

Q Well, we know that.

Q What does the weekend look like? Is he doing anything on Easter Sunday?

MR. JOHNDROE: He has family -- he and Mrs. Bush have family coming to the ranch. But we'll get you more on the rest of the weekend schedule later.

Q Are any other Cabinet Secretaries going to come down over the course of the next few days?

MR. JOHNDROE: I'm not aware of any right now, but we'll keep you updated on anyone that comes down.

Q I heard generally that he's going to be spending mostly private time this week. Do you think we'll be seeing him at all until Sunday? Are there any planned appearances by the President?

MR. JOHNDROE: We'll keep you updated on any changes to the schedule.

Q One question about Speaker Pelosi. Has the White House invited her to give a briefing about her trip when she returns? There was a report to that effect this morning.

MR. JOHNDROE: We'll listen to what she has to say after she returns from the Middle East. But I would note that she, earlier today, said that the road to Damascus is a road to peace. Unfortunately, that road is lined with the victims of Hamas and Hezbollah, and the victims of terrorists who cross from Syria into Iraq. It's lined with the victims in Lebanon, who are trying to fight for democracy there. It's lined with human rights activists trying for freedom and democracy in Syria. So, as we said yesterday, we don't think these meetings are productive.

Q Just on the first part of your answer, has the White House specifically invited -- you said you'll listen, but has the White House invited her to brief any White House officials on her trip?

MR. JOHNDROE: I'll check on that. I'm not aware of any at this time. She still has more countries to go to.

Q She also said she was carrying a message from the Israeli government. Do you know anything about that?

MR. JOHNDROE: You know, I would check with the Israelis as to if, in fact, they did really ask her to carry a message. I'm not sure. I think that the United States has been working in multilateral forums with countries in the region and countries in Europe, to send a message to the Syrians that they need to change their behavior. And it's unfortunate that she took this unilateral trip that we only see as counterproductive.

Q Did she consult with the State Department before going, do you know?

MR. JOHNDROE: The State Department urged the Speaker not to go.

All right, thank you all.

END 11:28 A.M. EDT

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070404-2.html
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 5 2007, 08:56 PM


If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.


Group: Members
Posts: 4,823
Member No.: 856
Joined: 4-November 06



Press Gaggle by Gordon Johndroe
Crawford Middle School
Crawford, Texas


RSS Feed Press Briefings

11:26 A.M. CST

MR. JOHNDROE: Good morning. The President had his regular briefings this morning. Then President Bush spoke with British Prime Minister Blair. The President welcomed the safe return of the British personnel who had been detained in Iran. He also commended the British on their resolve in bringing the situation to a peaceful resolution.

I'd add now that we hope that the Iranians will move forward in compliance with their obligations in the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

I'd also note that it's been 59 days since the President asked Congress to get supplemental funding to our troops. It's time for them to get to the President a bill that doesn't tie the hands of our commanders on the ground. As James Baker, the co-chair of the Iraq Study Group said in this morning's Post, "The report does not set timetables" -- the Iraq Study Group Report -- "does not set timetables or deadlines for the removal of troops, as contemplated by the supplemental spending bills the House and Senate passed. In fact, the report," again, the Iraq Study Group report, "specifically opposes that approach. As many military and political leaders told us, an arbitrary deadline would allow the enemy to wait us out and would strengthen the positions of extremists over moderates. A premature American departure from Iraq, we," the Iraq Study Group, "unanimously concluded would almost certainly produce greater sectarian violence and further deterioration of conditions in Iraq and possibly other countries." For those reasons and others, we urge the Congress to get the President a clean bill that he can sign.

I would also note for you that Secretary Gates and General Pace will brief at the Pentagon at 1:45 p.m. Eastern today. And with that, I'll take your questions.

Q Gordon, Zebari says that Iraq has been -- Iraq's government has been asking the United States for quite some time to release the Iranians who are held in the raid a couple months ago -- said that the Americans are just not complying. If Iraq is a sovereign government and we're just there at their invitation, why aren't we releasing those Iranians at their request?

MR. JOHNDROE: We certainly work hand-in-hand with the Iraqis on the security issues in Iraq. Right now it's our position that those detained were there engaged in actions that led to the deaths of innocent Iraqis, as well as Americans. So that's an ongoing process. We'll continue our discussions with the Iraqis on that.

Q Throughout the ordeal of the hostages or the captives being taken, the White House has stood behind Mr. Blair. But can you talk a little bit about what the White House's role has been, if any, in trying to secure the release of soldiers?

MR. JOHNDROE: This was really an issue between the United Kingdom and Iran, and the U.K.'s efforts to secure the release of their 15 sailors. The United States, as we've said, stands behind Prime Minister Blair and the British, and did so throughout this process. But if you're suggesting, as some news reports have run, that there is any linkage between any other releases or any other people held in detention, there have been none. And so this was really a process between the United Kingdom and Iran.

Steve.

Q What are the prospects for releasing those five Iranians being held by U.S. forces?

MR. JOHNDROE: Well, that's an ongoing process. We're going to work that with the Iraqis to see what the next steps are, determining what course of justice should be carried out to deal with -- to deal with, frankly, what we believe were activities harmful to innocent Iraqis, as well as coalition forces.

Q And they're believed to be responsible for supplying IEDs in Iraq? Or what charges are they being held under?

MR. JOHNDROE: You know, for any specifics like that I would have to refer you to -- multinational forces Iraq.

Q Has this incident increased tensions with Iran? You're calling on them to comply with U.N. resolutions. Do you think that they will now move toward that, or what's the status there?

MR. JOHNDROE: Well, I think that we're hopeful that they will comply with the resolutions from the U.N. Security Council. The international community is united. We're certainly pleased the British sailors have returned home, as the President told Prime Minister Blair this morning.

But there's also additional work to be done. And we'd be hopeful to not have to go back to the U.N. Security Council for an additional sanction regime because in the interim period that Iran would comply with their obligations. So I think that's where things stand at the moment.

Q So do you view the release in any way as an indication that Iran is now willing to engage in conduct more in the lines with the international community that you described?

MR. JOHNDROE: I think that I would view the detention of the British sailors as not in line with their willingness to work with the international community. But we, the British, and the international community are pleased that the Iranians decided to release the British sailors. What would show that they are more in line with the international community is to comply with the U.N. Security Council resolution, suspend their uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities. I think that would be -- that would show a great willingness to deal with the international community.

John.

Q Just to clarify -- can you say then definitively that the U.S. role in the release of the British sailors either directly or indirectly was limited only to their support of Tony Blair and his goal of getting a release peacefully? That's the only role this government played directly or indirectly with their release?

MR. JOHNDROE: To my knowledge, that is the only role the United States played, and that was a role of support to Prime Minister Blair.

Mike.

Q Gordon, on Sam Fox, there's some Democrats saying that --

Q Can I stay on --

MR. JOHNDROE: Yes, we can stay on the international, then we'll come back to the overtly political. (Laughter.)

Q This is covert.

Q As opposed to the subtly political. What lessons does the administration take from the way the British handled this crisis? In other words, some are suggesting that because the Blair government was calm and not given to hysterical rhetoric and worked behind the scenes, that they were more successful than some cowboy diplomacy that might be tried elsewhere. (Laughter.)

Q Can you repeat the question?

Q I am in Texas, right?

MR. JOHNDROE: I think the question is clearly already in the record. We are pleased that there was a successful outcome to this situation. But I think I would point to the real outlier here, and that's Iran, and Iran's behavior.

Q Thank you, Gordon. On Sam Fox, some Democrats are saying that he can be denied pay because it's a recess appointment. Is he prepared to do the job for free, or are you guys aware of that? What's your take?

MR. JOHNDROE: I think the State Department has something on that about his willingness to -- on his compensation. But I'd refer you to the State Department specifically, because they're the ones who handle that -- the finances of that position.

Q Gordon, does the President see recess appointments as a way of circumventing Senate opposition to his nominees?

MR. JOHNDROE: I think the President views recess appointments as an appropriate way to get people who are qualified into jobs that need to be filled. And it's a process that's been used many times over the years for people whose nominations have lingered or have been stopped for various reasons.

Q Well, on the Sam Fox case, on the day that the Foreign Relations Committee was going to put it to a vote, the President withdrew the nomination, and then a week later he recess appoints Sam Fox to that very same post. Now you've got some Democrats in the Senate calling it an abuse of the recess appointment authority.

MR. JOHNDROE: Well, I, of course, certainly would disagree with that. It's certainly a presidential prerogative. But I think it was clear that people were putting the politics over the policy of needing to get an ambassador into Brussels. And so the President took his action there to get our ambassador in place -- a qualified individual.

Q Are you saying that the Senate Committee would have denied his nomination and it was all political, or do you think there are some other reasons why they might have denied him?

MR. JOHNDROE: Far be it for me to say why various members of the Committee would or would not deny Mr. Fox the ability to serve in the position. But the bottom line is, he's qualified for the position, the position needed to be filled.

Q Republican Congressman Darrell Issa met in Damascus with Syria's President. Does the White House have a comment on that?

MR. JOHNDROE: I think the administration's position on members of Congress, Democrat or Republican, is very clear: We do not think it's productive; we do not think it is useful; we do not think it is helpful. Syria knows exactly what it needs to do to be a helpful and constructive player in the region and the world. And it's a few pretty well known issues: stop supporting Hamas and Hezbollah; stop letting terrorists into Iraq from Syria -- terrorists who then go on to kill innocent Iraqis, coalition forces, including Americans; stop undermining the democratically-elected government of Prime Minister Siniora in Lebanon; and stop suppressing the activities of human rights activists and democracy advocates inside Syria.

So our position, as we have said for some time now, well before the most high-level visits that have taken place to Damascus, is that we just don't think this is helpful. And I think history bears this out, that the Syrians still don't change their behavior, and this only makes them feel validated.

Q Is there any room for compromise on the issue of the war funding supplemental? They're pushing timetables, you're wanting maximum flexibility. Is there any language that can bridge the gap? And Harry Reid now seems to be saying, the President needs to give us his plan or his thinking on the subject. Is the President going to -- are you going to talk to him?

MR. JOHNDROE: I would say the President gave his plan and his thinking on the subject 59 days ago today, and then approximately four weeks ago made it very clear, as the Congress was moving in a direction to set arbitrary timetables and mandate failure, made it very clear about four weeks ago that he does not think we should handcuff our commanders and our troops on the ground with these timetables, with these funding restrictions.

And so I think the President's position is very clear. What the Democrats did for the last four weeks, instead of discussing with the President a way to make sure that funding gets to the troops, they spent the last four weeks cobbling together votes, adding an additional $24 billion in spending for spinach, and peanuts, and tropical birds, or fish, and shrimp, and things like that. So in this four-week period, where the President's position is well-known, instead of having a discussion, they just jammed straight ahead, postponed their vote in the House a day or two in order to cobble together this bare majority.

So instead of over this four-week period doing that, they could have been engaged in a discussion. The President's position is well-known and clear. His position is reiterated by the Iraq Study Group, as James Baker lays out today. I've heard some commanders on the ground say they have concerns with timetables. So the President's position is clear. He's stated why he thinks this is the best course of action. His position has been known for some time now. And the Democrats just seem to have ignored it, just flat out ignored it, and just pushed forward with their vote.

Q Is there room for compromise then?

MR. JOHNDROE: Well, we want to talk to the Congress. We've been willing to do that. But the President's position is very clear. But look, they left town without even appointing conferees in both Houses -- I think maybe one House did, the other didn't. So they don't even have a bill yet that they all agree on. And frankly, from some of their leadership, their position keeps on changing almost every day. You know, it's hard. Where do you -- where do you start a discussion when they're all over the place?

So, look, the most important thing is to get funding to our troops, and get it to them soon, and, you know, I hope that's everybody's goal. It's certainly the President's.

Q Anything else on the President's day? You talked about his morning briefings. But anything later today, how he's going to spend the day?

MR. JOHNDROE: Yes, let's see, morning briefings, secure video conference with Prime Minister Blair, bike ride --

Q Phone call or video conference?

MR. JOHNDROE: Secure video conference, bike ride, spending time with Mrs. Bush. His parents arrive tomorrow at lunch, and they'll be spending Easter weekend there at the ranch as they often do.

Yes, sir. You in the back.

Q One more on the supplemental. Senator Reid told one of our affiliates yesterday that the President should come up to the Hill and talk to the Congress about the supplemental. Will he consider doing that when Congress comes back?

MR. JOHNDROE: I think the President is willing to engage in any discussion that will help get funding to our troops that doesn't tie the hands of our commanders on the ground, and also, I'd like to point out, provides funding for the various aspects of this strategy that it required. As the President said in the Rose Garden the other day, no, this is not just a military solution. But the additional troops, the reinforcement are there in Baghdad to help provide the space needed so the Iraqis can come up with a political solution.

But you know what the House bill does? The House bill cuts funding for PRTs, cuts millions of dollars for provincial reconstruction teams that work on the local level, cuts millions of dollars for rule of law programs and ways to help the local governments there build capacity.

So even while they say there's no military solution, Mr. President, it's only a political solution, they cut funding for it. So look, we'll engage in discussions that provide the appropriate funding to help make Baghdad secure, support our troops, and make Iraq a country that can govern, sustain, and defend itself, and is an ally in the war on terror.

Q Gordon, just to clarify. The question was, would the President be willing to go to Capitol Hill? And you seemed to leave the door open.

MR. JOHNDROE: I don't -- I have not seen a specific invitation from Senator Reid. The comments I have seen from him over the last couple of days were actually not in that spirit. So it's hard for me to speak to. You know, they -- it's an interesting comment from him. We'll see -- we'll see when they all get back in town, and we'll go from there.

Q Can I just clarify something on the Iran answer? Did you say you did not see it as a sign of good will from Iran, or you just don't see it as --

MR. JOHNDROE: The release of the sailors?

Q Yes. You're talking about getting in line with the international obligations. You said that their seizure certainly was not in line, but are you saying that this is not a sign of goodwill, that it doesn't move the ball one way or another on the --

MR. JOHNDROE: As I said, we're pleased that they released the sailors. We just wish they hadn't detained them in the first place.

So, okay. Thank you all.

END 11:49 A.M. CDT

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070405-2.html
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 9 2007, 11:21 PM


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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 6, 2007

Press Briefing on the Second International Panel on Climate Change
Via Teleconference


RSS Feed Press Briefings

6:04 A.M. EDT

PARTICIPANTS

Dr. Sharon Hays, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Jim Connaughton, Chairman, White House Council on Environmental Quality

DR. HAYS: Welcome, everyone and thanks to all of you who are joining us at a very early hour in the United States.

I want to give you a little bit of background on the report, go over some of what I consider to be the key findings, since I realize that many of you probably haven't seen the report itself, and then we'll open it up to questions.

So we're here to talk to you about the International Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, second working group report, which just wrapped up discussions of the summary for policymakers. This report is the second in a series of four reports that will make up the IPCC's fourth assessment report. Now, these are all reports on the science of climate change, and the second working group contribution - the one that we just have been working on - is on the impacts of climate change.

I think it's important to remember that each of these reports comes in two parts. There is an underlying technical report, which is a very large, thousand-page or greater document, that is written by scientists around the world and which reflects a compilation, a summary of the existing literature on the topic of the report. And then a second piece, which is a much shorter document, called the summary for policymakers. And that's on the order of, in this case, about 20 pages.

So it's the summary for policymakers that we just completed discussions on, and this is a discussion that involves government delegations and takes place over the course of a week - so we've been working on this for the past four days.

The United States was very pleased to be a part of this process, finalizing the report. I think it's important to note that the underlying report, the technical document represents the work of many, many scientists from around the world who, in this case, were summarizing an evolving body of knowledge in this field of climate change impacts. And it's a very dense, technical document.

We think that the summary document reflects a very robust reflection of this underlying technical report. So let me go through and tell you what I believe to be the key findings of the summary for policymakers, which, again, reflects this underlying technical document.

In terms of key findings, there is section of the report on actual observations - so what sciences are actually observing in terms of climate change impacts. And the bottom line there is that climate change is having impacts on natural systems - so plants, animals, ecosystems, and human systems - and the example of a human system would be agriculture for example - and that scientists are able to measure and monitor these impacts that are occurring in different places around the world.

Now, a second part of the report then is on projections, projections of the range of different impacts that scientists believe may happen in the future. And the key message there, I think, is that these projected impacts are expected to get more pronounced at higher temperatures. I think there's a couple of additional facts to note, in terms of this projection of this range of future impacts, including the fact that not all projected impacts are negative. And particularly higher potential future temperatures, the range of projected impacts becomes increasingly negative and there are significant impacts that are possible.

In terms of - another, sort of, key message here is that climate change is clearly a global challenge and we all recognize that it requires global solutions. But most impacts of climate change will be felt very regionally. It's true that some parts of the world are more vulnerable than others - for example, Africa, small islands, the Polar Regions and so forth. So there's also a review of discussion in the report about going forward, what happens and the key role of adaptation. And we know that societies are going to need to and, indeed, are able to lessen the impacts of climate change through adaptation. It also is true that not all regions of the world have the same capacity to adapt. And I think it's also important to point out that in some cases, natural adaptation is also occurring.

So these are all things that scientists have studied over the last five years, six years, since the last assessment report came out. The science here represents an evolving body of knowledge and a very robust area of research across all of these different topics.

So with that in mind, I think we'll go right into questions and all three of us are here to answer whatever questions you have.

Q What, specifically, do you mean, Dr. Hays, by "adaptation"? What, specifically, must happen, or do you project will happen?

DR. HAYS: Okay, well - adaptation, let me explain what adaptation is. It has a very formal meaning within the IPCC, but basically it's things that natural or human systems view in response to expected climate change, which moderates the projected harm and, so, lessens the impacts.

And in terms of adaptation - I mean, there's many examples. For example, flooding is a potential impact of climate change, and adaptation can involve different development polices - so not building in some areas that are likely to be flooded, or the building of levies, that sort of thing.

Q There was a graph in the final draft that showed different outcomes for coastal flooding by 2080, with and without adaptation efforts. And do you know if that survived in the final version?

DR. HAYS: There is a table in the final version of the report that shows a range of different impacts over different temperatures in many different areas, including coastal areas, agriculture and so forth.

Q This was one - this was a specific graph that had, like, how many millions of people would be displaced per year in 2080, it was for different temperature ranges versus with and without adaptation investments. Does that sound familiar?

DR. HAYS: It's hard to know - the figure numbers and so forth have changed over the course of the discussions and just the evolution of the summary document. But there is a table in this document that shows, over different temperatures, the range of projected impacts, and some of those projected impacts include adaptation and some don't.

Q From what I recall, there was a (inaudible) issue that there was lot less impact, if there was sort of the same investment in adaptation in coastal areas as there is now, in a proportion to the economy - that the impact drops from something like 100 million people a year displaced to 10 million.

DR. HAYS: That's generally true that adaptation can definitely help lessen the impacts that occur.

Q I have a question, when they have these tables, do they also have - tell us what the ranges are of uncertainty and how much credence we can put into these numbers that are stated in the table?

DR. HAYS: Yes, there was a good deal of discussion about this, because this is an important issue. I've said a couple of times that the science in this area is evolving and so determinations of the certainty that the sciences feel that they can place on any particular finding is important. And in this summary document there was a lot of care taken by all of the nations involved in the discussion to make sure that the certainty statements in this document -- whether sciences felt they had medium certainty or high certainty or very high certainty about different projected impacts - were accurately reflected.

And this is, I think, a good opportunity to make sure that you understand another really important point in developing these summary documents, and that is that many of the lead scientific authors of the underlying technical report are present during the discussions. And so those scientific authors played a very important role in helping the governments involved in these discussions to make sure that the summary document accurately reflect the scope of all of the information in their much longer technical report.

Q A couple of questions on the impact of this report on administration policy. Does it have any effect at all on the administration's stand on that key issue of mandatory emissions standards? And what effect will this at all have on the administration's overall outlook on global warming?

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: This report further underscores what the President has been saying for some time about the seriousness of this challenge, a point the President emphasized in the State of the Union this year of the need to confront the challenge.

When you speak of mandatory programs, I'll just give you two big examples. In the State of the Union, the President announced a dramatic commitment to replacing the U.S.'s gasoline usage by 20 percent over the next 10 years, which will involve a significant new mandate for renewable fuels in our fuel mix, and probably the most substantial improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency through a new regulatory program that has ever been proposed in recent years by any nation.

So those would be two examples of mandatory tools that we think would be extremely valuable in reducing greenhouse gases associated with vehicles, for example. And then our energy act of two years ago included a new mandate for appliances - so, like, (inaudible) going to be 40 mandatory appliance standards. And then we have our states working on mandatory renewable power programs, as well as - there's a whole nationwide movement on mandatory building codes that will be much more stringent, some of them as stringent as 30 percent improvement in building efficiency -- just to give you a flavor of the kinds of regulatory programs that are on the books or being called for.

Q Right, but what about the pressure for mandatory caps on greenhouse emissions that many other countries are going to be pressing for, using this report and others, as a basis going into the G8 summit, sir?

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: Well, actually, all of the major countries, the major countries - the major and many countries have a broad mix of policies that include mandatory reductions, include incentives and include very significant technology (inaudible) of programs and the U.S. is actually leading most of those.

In terms of cap programs, I would just note the renewable fuels program actually is a mandatory cap; it requires a certain amount of renewable fuel to displace gasoline and to produce a significant greenhouse gas reduction. Each nation sort of defines their regulatory objectives in different ways to achieve the greenhouse reduction outcome that they seek.

The President has set a national goal through 2012 of improving our greenhouse gas intensity economy-wide by 18 percent.

Q May I just have one more follow up, please. So is the administration still going to sit out of the Kyoto process?

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: I think that would be a gross sort of mischaracterization of the U.S. role internationally. We are leading the way with, actually, dozens of advanced technology partnerships. And in the context of our commitment under the U.N. framework convention on climate change, we are actually engaging the developing countries as well in strategies for significantly reducing greenhouse gases.

Q Does the U.S. owe these regions that are clearly identified in this report as taking outsize risks any particular effort on our own part, because of our historic contribution as the largest single source of these gases over the (inaudible)?

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: The imperative for working with developing countries is as strong or stronger than it's ever been, in terms of helping them with development. Adaptation at its core is a fundamental component of the development strategy. President Bush has felt strongly from the outset - in fact, he led the way on the Monterey consensus on development back in 2001, on this very significant importance for economic growth, for more rule of law and for smarter strategies for lifting people out of poverty so they're not as vulnerable to those human causes, as well as natural forces that lead to poverty, degradation and disease.

So this report reinforces the efforts, the multi-billion dollar efforts underway to work with developing nations to, again, lift people out of poverty and make their society more resilient to both human and natural forces.

Q I was wondering if you could comment on what the report says about North America and the impacts of climate change on the U.S., specifically.

DR. HAYS: The report has an entire chapter on North America, and there is a section in the summary document that summarizes that chapter, as does the summary under every chapter in the report. You see a range of different impacts. I think some of the ones that are talked about in the summary document - which, of course, is a subset, a small subset of the different impacts that are discussed and the range of impacts that are discussed in the underlying technical report -- that have to do with agriculture, decreases in the snow pack in western mountains - let's see, issues of heat waves in cities and that sort of thing.

Q Those are the ones you see as the most concerning?

DR. HAYS: Those are the ones that are in the summary for policymakers. There is probably a few others - I think there are some on coastal habitats and communities, that sort of thing. That's the reflection of the underlying chapter in the report.

Q What do you see as the most concerning ones for people in the U.S.?

DR. HAYS: I think there is a range of impacts all across not just the U.S., but the world, and we'll be looking at this report, I think, in more detail and getting important information about what not only to continue to address, in terms of the policies that the President has laid out, but also in terms of what to continue to study. As I said, this is evolving science and there's a lot more to learn here.

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: I just want to flag, as a policymaker, two examples. One is some of the projections about the positive effects on agriculture, and obviously, now that's positive to think shift and move and that we (inaudible) to shift and move. That adds something that, obviously, agricultural interests pay very significant attention to.

On the negative side, the very real prospect of more coastal flooding is something also of high concern, in terms of land use planning and the planning of expansion along our coasts as more and more of our citizens move to coastal areas. So, you know, that will sort of give you a sense of the bandwidth of things that we have to focus on as policymakers.

DR. HAYS: Thank you. Are there any more questions?

Q Did the U.S. delegation ask for any changes in the summary report? And, if so, what were those?

DR. HAYS: This is a four-day discussion of a document and the U.S. and many other nations were very much engaged in making sure that we took our role very seriously in getting a summary document that accurately reflects the underlying science.

So all of the different issues that the U.S. raised or that the U.S. joined in the discussions on were with this underlying goal in mind. And I think we helped craft a report that robustly reflects the findings of this underlying, very long, technical document.

And I'll just point out that our delegation had a number of scientific and climate experts on it from around the government, including Admiral Lautenbacher's agency, NOAA, and NASA and EPA. So we went into this wanting to make sure that we had a report that reflected the current state of the science and we worked hard, alongside many other nations, to get that.

Q Can you speak about what changes were discussed, what the issues were?

DR. HAYS: There were many - I mean, every aspect of this report generated discussions. So you can really look at the sample summary for policymakers and, essentially, this is line by line approval of the summary document. And there was discussion on almost every line in the report. And that's very, very typical of these discussions.

Q I wanted to follow up on my colleague's question, if I may. What's your sense for how adequate - either from both the U.S. standpoint and globally - how adequate current efforts are to provide adaptation aid to developing countries? And if more effort is needed, are there specific things that people are beginning to think about or talk about, in terms of the ways to get adaptation aid where it needs to go?

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: The major developed countries currently are deploying billions and billions of dollars towards development assistance. In the last five years I would observe that the organization of those resources has evolved very significantly in two ways. One is toward key priorities. For example, if you look at the global push on health-related development assistance, especially with respect to AIDS and malaria and some of the other disease pathways that can make people vulnerable to changes in their climate, that assistance has gone up dramatically and the U.S. is leading the way on that with the multi-billion dollar additions.

As well, there's been a very significant push both governmentally and by non-governmental organizations toward better capacity of legal systems, financing systems, training people so they can make smarter choices about land use, making agricultural practices more modern. And then, for example, there's been a big push in the last five years for greater access to cleaner drinking water and sanitation systems.

All of these are fundamental things that make humans vulnerable in whatever climate in which they live, whether it's a freezing cold climate or a warm, an incredibly hot tropical climate. These are the essentials that we enjoy in the developed world that actually allows us to live, again, in Polar Regions all the way down to the tip of Florida.

And so I think this report is going to help us focus - you know, these reports tend to concentrate on the significant potential negative impacts so we can begin to focus some of those resources, as well as management strategies toward the most important priorities.

Q I have a question on the U.S. side. Has the administration done any analysis on acts that affect the cost to determine whether (inaudible) there will be more benefits and cost economically?

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: I'm sorry, could you repeat the question?

Q Has the administration tallied up the potential benefits or costs to the U.S. economy on the impacts and (inaudible)?

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: There is ongoing literature in the academic world, as well as in the government world on different economic analyses. So the U.S. - you know, there is a renowned scientist, economist at Yale, William Nordhaus, who has done a lot of work in this area. And we recently had the Stern report from the UK. So this is an ongoing area of literature. You'll see more of that in the next IPCC report, which deals with some of the economics of policy measures related to climate policy.

So there is no, sort of, specific tally up -- what's going to happen, actually, is you'll begin to see more of a breakdown into specific sectoral areas or regional areas in trying to understand the positive and negative economic consequences.

Q Do you expect this report to change or alter the administration's position on climate change?

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: This report reinforces it. You have to understand that much of the underlying science has been produced over the last five years, and this report is an effort to summarize and compile that science. The U.S. is a significant contributor to that science, and we have been taking the science on board over the course of the last five years. In fact, we've been releasing reports in advance of this one. We had a few that came out last year, and we have a whole series of them coming out this year.

So I think the right word is "reinforcement," I think that is of apiece of what underlined the President's State of the Union announcement this year, which really took the world by, you know, too high to claim of this idea that we can, in fact, displace 20 percent of our petroleum usage with fuels and with vehicles that will dramatically cut the greenhouse gases at the same time.

So I think you'll continue to see us advance new policies of a wide variety - these regulatory ones I just mentioned, but also new areas of technological cooperation with key countries like China and India, for example, and try to find low carbon coal. So, again, this groundswell of information is also pushing along a groundswell of additional policies and international cooperation.

DR. HAYS: Thank you. Unfortunately, that's all we have time for today. Thank you for joining the call.

END 6:31 A.M. EDT

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...4/20070406.html
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 9 2007, 11:22 PM


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or Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 9, 2007

Press Gaggle by Gordon Johndroe
Aboard Air Force One En route Yuma, Arizona


RSS Feed Press Briefings

8:39 A.M. CDT

MR. JOHNDROE: We're on our way to Yuma, Arizona, where the President will make remarks on the need for comprehensive immigration reform. He visited the Yuma border area last year, spoke to the nation about this important issue in May, and reiterated his call for immigration legislation in the State of the Union this year.

This is an important national priority, but also for the President this is a matter of deep conviction. He will talk about working with members of both parties on comprehensive reform that accomplishes five clear objectives: one, securing the border; two, a temporary worker program; third, holding employers accountable for the workers they hire; fourth, resolving the status of the millions of illegal immigrants already here; and, fifth, finding new ways to help newcomers assimilate into our society.

After arriving, the President will receive a briefing on unmanned aerial vehicles and how they are used to help secure our borders. The President will then participate in a three-stop tour of a Yuma sector border. Stop one is a National Guard entry identification team at a National Guard observation post. Stop two is a border fence construction area. At stop three he'll see some border infrastructure work that has been completed.

Also, the jobs numbers released on Friday -- 180,000 new jobs in March and a drop in the unemployment rate from 4.4 percent -- highlight one more reason why we need comprehensive immigration reform.

On another note, it's now been 63 days since the President asked Congress to fund our troops. It's good to see the Senate returning to work this week; we hope the House comes back soon, because it is clear the Democrats in Congress need to sit down and negotiate with themselves first, before they talk to anybody else about getting legislation done -- legislation that doesn't, one, micromanage our generals in Baghdad and their strategy for success; two, set arbitrary timetables; three, make cuts to funding for programs that help the Iraqis achieve a political solution; four, include ridiculous, non-emergency pork barrel spending; and, five, doesn't cutoff all funding, as some senators have suggested -- a move that would only serve to mandate a defeat that will abandon the people of Iraq to terrorists and extremists and leave our troops in the field without the money they need.

Given that a number of senators and members are saying they will fully fund the troops, it would be unfortunate if they continue down the path that forces the President to reluctantly veto a bill. But if that is the only way to get this done, let's get it over with so our troops can get the funding they need.

With that, do you have any questions?

Q With the tensions over the Iraq funding bill, how can you make progress on immigration reform, when there are these tensions with the Democrats?

MR. JOHNDROE: Well, I think the President is hopeful and confident that we can make progress on a number of issues. Yes, there are a lot of issues that there is disagreement on -- as you mentioned, the Iraq war supplemental funding. But we're having productive conversations with members from both sides of the aisle in both Houses about comprehensive immigration reform, and there are a number of proposals floating around and a number of discussions going on and the President is hopeful and feels confident that we'll be able to get something done on this important issue.

Q So does one issue not affect another?

MR. JOHNDROE: I think that while sometimes one issue may dominate the headlines of the day, there's a lot of quiet work that goes on underneath the surface so that we can get some legislation done on important issues like immigration or education. And so sometimes some issues are the dominant news-maker, but I think the work is still getting done.

Q Is there quiet progress on Social Security?

MR. JOHNDROE: I would say there's quiet progress on a number of fronts, but right now, obviously, the priorities are getting the Iraq emergency war supplemental funding done, and today, for the President to highlight the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

Q Nancy Pelosi said that she wants bipartisan support, as many as 70 Republicans to join this in the House. Kennedy said the same thing in the Senate, wants it to be a bipartisan bill. What does the President have to do in order to persuade Republicans to move on the immigration bill? And, also, do you think it's right that they're demanding that it be bipartisan? They can pass this by themselves; they control both Houses.

MR. JOHNDROE: This is such a heated and emotional issue for people in this country, and a subject that the President takes very seriously. And I think he's put forth a proposal that meets the need for stronger border enforcement, but also provides a way that, frankly, strengthens the rule of law by imposing a penalty on those who broke the law to enter the country, and setting a high bar in order for them to show that they want to be model citizens, and the need to learn English, learn our history and that sort of thing.

So I think there are a number of proposals out there. The President will talk today about these five main objectives, and these are areas that I think members of both parties will be able to come together on.

Q But should the House pass a bill without Republican support, should Democrats do this, or is Pelosi right to demand 70 Republicans join this?

MR. JOHNDROE: I think -- let's see where this goes. I don't want to answer the hypothetical roll call vote already. I think what the President is focused on, and what Secretaries Chertoff and Gutierrez are focused on are getting the best bill possible.

Q Where does the President stand on this proposal for a Z visa in which immigrants would -- a three-year visa they would pay $3,500 for?

MR. JOHNDROE: I've seen a lot of the news reports on that. There are a lot of proposals floating around out there. I don't want to negotiate from here. I'm going to let Secretaries Chertoff and Gutierrez do that with members.

Q Gordon, what about the President's role in this? Some lawmakers, I believe in both parties, have said that to get it done, the President is going to not just be committed to the issue but get involved in it. Has he done that, or does he plan to do that?

MR. JOHNDROE: You know, the President has already spoken to some members about immigration reform this year, and I think you'll see him continue to reach out and have these discussions. We have a number of members traveling today, and so I think this is something the President is going to be involved in.

Q Can you explain why we're going back to Yuma, the second time in a year, given the number of places he could be going to make his point?

MR. JOHNDROE: Sure. I mean, it's been almost one year since the President was last here in Yuma. He is going to dedicate a new Border Patrol station. But the main purpose is to highlight the progress that has been made. The Yuma Border Patrol sector has significantly improved the statistics as far as apprehensions and detentions because of a stronger emphasis on border enforcement. And the President will see some of the new technologies. I mentioned unmanned aerial vehicles. We'll also see some of the border infrastructure put in place that the Border Patrol and National Guard can use -- paved roads, additional lighting, unmanned sensors, that sort of thing.

So what he's coming here to see and to highlight is demonstrable progress in securing the border.

Q Do you have any numbers?

MR. JOHNDROE: Yes, the President will talk about specific numbers in his remarks today, and we'll get those to you.

Q Have you got any reaction to Muqtada al Sadr's urging his followers to rise up against the U.S. forces in Iraq?

MR. JOHNDROE: You know, the reports I've seen are that Sadr has urged his various militias, who are, again I remind everyone, operating outside the rule of law in Iraq, to not fight Iraqi security forces. And I think this sort of comment is not surprising, given these Iraqi security forces are having some success against the Jaish al Mahdi militias. And so we, the United States, and you heard Prime Minister Maliki say, everyone operating outside the rule of law need to -- will be dealt with.

And I note today that Sadr called for massive protests. I'm not sure that we've seen that, those numbers materialize and the numbers that he was seeking in his call from his hangout in Iran. But Iraq, four years on, is now a place where people can freely gather and express their opinions. And that was something they could not do under Saddam. And while we have much more progress ahead of us -- the United States, the coalition and Iraqis have much more to do -- this is a country that has come a long way from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein.

Q Can you tell us what members of Congress will be going back after Yuma? Who is on board now?

MR. JOHNDROE: Yes, the members are meeting us in Yuma -- Senator Kyl, as well as, I believe, four members of Congress. And they are Congressman Shadegg, Congressman Flake -- Jeff Flake, Congressman Trent Franks, Congressman Harry Mitchell.

Okay. Thank you all.

END 8:51 A.M. CDT

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070409-2.html
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Posted: Apr 10 2007, 09:52 PM


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Press Briefing by Dana Perino
White House Conference Center Briefing Room

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12:45 P.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Welcome back, everybody. I don't have any opening announcements, so we can go straight to questions.

Q Senator Reid said today, in response to the President's invitation to come down and talk, he said the President has to deal with Congress and he has got to listen to us, and that what the President is offering is not a negotiation.

MS. PERINO: I'm not quite sure where to begin with all that, because, first of all, they have known for 64 days that the President needed this money for the troops. Secondly, they've known for well over a month -- before they even passed the two bills, one out of the House and one out of the Senate -- that the President would veto it, based on the arbitrary time line in terms of a date for a forced retreat, the micromanaging that they put into the bill that would handcuff our generals on the ground, and then the extra pork barrel spending that they had to include in order to get the ball across the finish line.

On March 28th, Senator Reid points to a letter he sent to the President, saying that they wanted to sit down and talk. So now that the President, after their two-week recess, says, why don't we have this discussion, I'm not quite sure I can understand why he so, out of hand, rejects the President's offer to meet. It was a knee-jerk reaction and it was quite unfortunate. The invitation stands; we would like for them to come down and talk with us.

Q But you said that it's not a negotiation. And what I think Senator Reid is saying is the President has got to listen to the Congress and has to deal with the Congress. Is there room for negotiation and compromise from the White House?

MS. PERINO: Well, the President has said we should not have a bill that ties the hands of our generals and that adds all this extraneous spending and puts strings on all the money that they say that they want to give to the troops. He's asked for a clean bill.

Senator Reid has me very confused. On the one hand, he says that they want to fund the troops. But on the other hand

-- at what price are they going to give this money to the troops? They believe that the war either cannot be won, or that it has already been lost. And so if they have the courage of their convictions and they really want to cut off funding for the troops, then they should go ahead and do that. But instead, what the President is saying is, if you need for me to veto this bill, I will -- reluctantly, but I will, if that's the political statement that you need to make. But if the goal is, as you've stated -- at least in some parts of your communication on this

-- that they want to get the money to the troops, then let's go ahead and have a clean bill. If you want to have other discussions, that's fine, but the President has said, let's meet, let's discuss. You can talk about how -- you don't have the votes to override my veto, but yet you say you want to fund the troops. So why don't we have a discussion about how we're going to get there.

Q Dana, the Senator, I think, was addressing sort of the bigger picture of the tone of these discussions. And he said -- I'd like to get you to respond to this -- that the President must realize he has to deal with Congress, that there's no more rubber stamp. He's got to listen to us because we are speaking for the American people and he isn't.

MS. PERINO: I don't -- look, the President has been dealing with Congress since we got here in 2001. I understand that they have said many times that there's a Congress to deal with, that there's constitutional roles for them to play. We agree. We have a constitutional role to play, as well. What they can do in their constitutional role is decide whether or not they're going to fund the troops. They don't have the constitutional role to micromanage the war effort, and the management of the commanders on the ground.

I think that the tone that everyone needs to take a step back and look at is that the President is saying, let's go ahead and have a discussion about how we're going to get a bill to me that funds our troops, because you have to admit you don't have the votes to override my veto.

Q But he's saying -- he is saying, I think Senator Reid is saying, look, the President doesn't -- he's not the sole determinant of the discussion about the way forward in Iraq. The President has the way he wants to proceed, but Harry Reid is saying that Congress is speaking for the American people when it comes to how to proceed in Iraq, not the President.

MS. PERINO: I don't think the American people are saying that the generals should be handcuffed and that there should be micromanagement by Senator Harry Reid as a military advisor. He should be the Senator from Nevada and the leader of the Senate. The American people have wanted change in Iraq, and they got it. The President announced a new policy on January 10th that was quite different and divergent from where we were before. And about three weeks later, the Senate unanimously confirmed General Petraeus and sent him to war with a battle plan. And yet now they say that that battle plan won't work.

And so my point is, we have an opportunity for them to come down and discuss how we're going to get money for the troops. I understand that they might not agree with the President's policy, but there is a new one, and it's been implemented according to General Petraeus and many others on the ground. Despite the real challenges that we have and the violence that continues, seeds of hope have been planted, that we can get the violence under control. So the tone of the discussion rests on both sides.

Q Were you listening to Senator Reid today? Your reaction was what? Would you say confusion?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think it -- I was only able to read his comments, I wasn't able to see them. But I am confused by the Democrats' position, and by their own position. On the one hand, he says he would vote to cut off funds for the troops completely. On the other hand, today he says that they would never do that. So our point is, the Democrats ought to negotiate amongst themselves first, figure out what their position is, and then come forward and talk to the President about either how they're going to send him a bill that can fund the troops that meets the requirements of being able to give the troops what they need without strings attached, or, if they're not going to do that, then they have to figure out another path forward.

Q So, Dana, just to follow, I mean, if the Democrats don't come up with a negotiation or something that's different to present to the President, then what do they have to get out of this meeting? I mean, the President and the administration always accuses them of political theater, but how is it not more than a photo op if they're not really -- if the White House isn't willing to give anything?

MS. PERINO: I think, Suzanne, you have to remember, the ball is in the Congress's court. When they know that they can't override the President's veto, and yet they still say that they want to send money to the troops, it is incumbent upon them to figure out how they're going to do that. And this discussion with the President can provide for a forum for both leaders. Remember, it's a bipartisan meeting -- Republicans and Democrats can sit down, talk with the President about his position, and about how they can move forward.

Q The bottom line is, is that it's a take-it-or-leave-it deal from this administration; there's no room for negotiation?

MS. PERINO: The President will not accept a timetable for withdrawal that forces retreat and forces failure. And he will not accept micromanagement from Capitol Hill on his generals. And it is unconscionable that they would have pork barrel spending added to it that is -- for tours of the Capitol and other such "emergencies" in an emergency spending bill when there is a budget process that's going forward in Congress on a parallel track. I think that those are principled stands that the President has had. If we can get beyond that, and talk about funding for the troops, we should. We are interested in how they think that we can improve in Iraq. If they have other ideas beyond what General David Petraeus is going, by all means, let's hear them.

Go ahead, Matt.

Q You seem to be saying that the President wants to talk to the Democrats about this.

MS. PERINO: We have an open invitation for them to come talk to us.

Q But he's actually ruling out any kind of compromise, is that correct?

MS. PERINO: This is not a meeting in order to compromise. This is a meeting to discuss the way forward, because the Democrats have to admit that they don't have the votes to override the President's veto. And at the same time, they say that they want to fund the troops. So at some point, the Democrats are going to have to come to a consensus on how to move forward. And a meeting with the President is a chance for the leaders to get together -- leadership from both parties -- to sit down and figure out how they're going to do that.

Q You said that this was a change of policy for the President, the surge.

MS. PERINO: Certainly.

Q And so escalation of the war is a change of policy?

MS. PERINO: Helen, we can go back over all the things that the President said in January, but there was a couple of key points.

Q No, no, I mean, is that what you call a change of policy, when we escalate the war?

MS. PERINO: A couple of key points. What the President said is that we needed to -- agreed with the Iraqis that we needed to try to transition power to them more quickly for their Iraqi security forces. But the key issue was that violence in Baghdad was so great that the President realized after talking to his military advisors that to leave would be very harmful to the region and to our country, but to stay and try to quell the violence in Baghdad --

Q But why? Do you mean Iraqis are going to come and attack us?

MS. PERINO: The terrorists that are seeking a safe haven in Iraq, if we were to leave, would find one, just like they had one in Afghanistan, and they could --

Q How do you know that?

MS. PERINO: -- hurt us and -- well, based on experience from September 11th. That's how we know it.

Q September 11th had nothing to do with Iraq.

Q When the President today said if Congress wants to make a political statement they should do so quickly -- and then you also used that phrase -- does referring to Congress's role in this as a political statement in any way diminish their part in this process?

MS. PERINO: No, I think that the point we're trying to make is that they do not have votes to override the President's veto. In order to get this bill passed, they had to add fixed time lines for withdrawal, they had to add micromanagement on the generals, and they had to have a lot of extra pork barrel spending in order to get the bare minimum in order to get the ball across the finish line.

That is the political statement that I think that the President felt that they had to make. If they have decided that they don't need to have all of those positions out there, if they've taken their votes and that they don't need to send that conference -- get together for a conference report and send a bill to the President that he has to veto, fine. But what we have to do is get a process going where they can get a clean bill to us.

Q Does the President risk using the troops when this morning he talked about if this does not go the way he wants, those troops and their families may have to wait longer for them to come home?

MS. PERINO: The President takes great pains not to politicize the troops. But what he was repeating was what the military -- Department of Defense has told him they are going to have to do, since they don't have this money.

John.

Q What would you consider a clean bill? And could a clean bill include goals for withdrawals in the future, versus the hard time lines that the Democrats seem to --

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that hopefully the Democrats will come down and have a meeting with the President on Tuesday and they can have discussions. I'm not going not going to negotiate from here.

Go ahead, Keith.

Q I'm just having a little trouble understanding the meeting, I guess. On the one hand, it's not a negotiation, but it does sound like while the President is going to reject these bills that are out there, that he is willing to entertain some other ideas from the Democrats, as long as there aren't timetables and there isn't micromanaging. Of course, that's a word you can define --

MS. PERINO: There are some very clear lines that the President has drawn and they are outlined in our statements of administration policy and we've talked about them for well over a month now. What the President has said is that he's very serious about getting this money for our troops. He laid out the reasons why, the drastic reasons why from the Department of Defense -- on why we need to get that money to them sooner than later. It's a very real problem now.

Q But in this meeting he is willing to listen to other Democratic ideas --

MS. PERINO: The President has always been willing to listen to other ideas.

Q Okay, so could it end up becoming a negotiation of putting their ideas out and he has ideas -- I mean, it sounds like it might be a negotiation.

MS. PERINO: I think that the point that Suzanne was making was, if they have ideas about how we can improve in Iraq, the President was -- absolutely wants to hear them. Many members went to the Middle East and to Iraq over the recess, and if they saw something there that they think General Petraeus and his men could be doing better, by all means, I'm sure that we'd all like to hear it.

Go ahead, Sheryl.

Q I guess I'm also having trouble understanding this meeting and what the Democrats could get out of it, and what role does the President see himself playing. You said this is not a meeting in order to compromise, it's a meeting to discuss a way forward. Does the President envision himself as some kind of mediator in this effort to --

MS. PERINO: No, I think the President understands that it's incumbent upon him to explain to the members his positions and reasons why. And it's not just the President that thinks that arbitrary timetables are a bad idea. The military advisors do; Prime Minister Maliki today said he thinks it's a bad idea. And -- because really what it does is it just signals to the enemy that we're going to be leaving on this date; sit around and wait a while, and then you can attack us at will. So what the President wants to do is to tell the Congress that once you're back in town, after this two-week break, let's get together and let's get about the business of getting the money for our troops.

Q Is it his -- does he envision himself simply giving kind of a private lecture to Congress of the sort that he has been giving publicly?

MS. PERINO: The President is not asking to lecture anybody, nor does he want to. We understand that the Congress has a role to play; we understand what that role is. I would hope that they understand what the Commander-in-Chief's role is. And if a meeting can help alleviate some of the tension, then that's what we are for.

Q And then, finally, if a bill were to include sort of softer milestones, as opposed to fixed timetables for withdrawal, is that something that could be acceptable to the President?

MS. PERINO: This is the same question that John asked, and I'll give you the same answer. I'll decline to negotiate from here.

Q Realistically, both sides are entrenched on their opinions of this, and you're saying it's not a compromise. What, realistically, are you expecting as an outcome from this meeting?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that's up to the Democrats right now. I think that they don't have the votes to override the President's veto, they've known that for many weeks. They also have said that they want to fund the troops. So at some point the Democrats are going to have to come together amongst themselves and coalesce around a position that the President can talk to -- that the President then can talk to them about.

Q Does it benefit this White House to keep its feet in the sand, saying, I'm not going to move, and allow them to just stay the same way?

MS. PERINO: I think it benefits the troops and the American people for the Commander-in-Chief to be a strong, principled leader, which is what the President is.

Q And another subject, quickly. Yesterday you gave me a statement from the President that he said Don Imus's apology was the appropriate thing to do. Does the President, who has supported women in his administration, African American women, Secretary of State, you standing there at the podium, does he feel that punishment of the suspension of Don Imus was enough, and should the FCC have stronger rulings or regulations on sexist and racist statements?

MS. PERINO: I haven't talked to him beyond what I was able to get yesterday, which is that the President believes that the apology was the absolute right thing to do. And beyond that, I think that his employer is going to have to make a decision about any action that they take based on it.

Q Were you offended personally as a woman?

MS. PERINO: Well, I'm here to speak for the President. So you and I can talk later.

Paula.

Q You got out of that one. (Laughter.)

MS. PERINO: Go ahead, Paula.

Q Dana, you frequently mention the pork barrel spending as -- needed to be taken out, but you don't mention the minimum wage -- (inaudible) -- does that have to be --

MS. PERINO: I don't believe so. I think that -- well, obviously, the President wants a clean bill, and he wants it as quickly as possible, and things that are going to hold it up would not be -- he would not look favorably upon. On that issue, I believe that there's a little bit more consensus. But I think we'll have to see how it goes from there.

Mark.

Q Can you tell us, Dana, where the administration stands on the stem cell bills that are coming up on the Hill now, and the rationale, too?

MS. PERINO: Well, earlier today -- as you know, the Senate is going to be debating this on the floor the next two days. A couple of things on that. We put out two statements of administration policy earlier today. There are two -- there are several bills moving through Congress, but there are two that are going to be debated on the floor this week. One the President said that he strongly supports and could sign, and the other one is similar to one that he vetoed before and he would veto again if it were to pass.

Just taking a step back -- in 2001, the President was confronted with this ethical challenge and ethical dilemma. And as President, he had given the issue a considerable amount of thought. He consulted with religious leaders and bio-ethicists and scientists. He has -- it is incumbent upon the President to balance both the moral and the ethical boundaries for new scientific research.

His policy reaches balance in a way that he believes does not cross what he considers to be a clear moral line. And that was that tens of millions of Americans believe that embryos are human beings and human life, and that the taxpayer dollars that were requested to go towards this research were going to be used to destroy those embryos. And the President believes that that was the moral line that he could not cross. However, what he did do -- and he was the first President to do -- was he funded federal taxpayer dollars to 21 stem cell lines that were already in existence. So that money was the first to go towards that.

In addition to that, the President has strongly encouraged other types of stem cell research, like adult stem cell and cord blood research. There is also no ban on private sector funding. I think that I see -- I see that reported in places where the President is accused of trying to stop or ban stem cell research, but that could not be farther from the truth. He's been supportive of it. And I realize that there are many people out there who believe that stem cell research could hopefully lead to cures for many different diseases, and the President hopes that that's true. And he's very encouraged that there are so many scientists who are out there working to create a body of research that can move forward on stem cell research without the destruction of human embryos.

Q Is the President's mind at all -- has he had any second thoughts in light of what his own NIH Director said about how the limiting effect of his order about federal funding --

MS. PERINO: The President weighed this issue very carefully back in 2001, and has thought about it since. And he believes that that clear moral line that he established back in August of 2001 is a good place for the country to be. And he understands that there are people who might have different viewpoints, but he believes that federal taxpayer dollars, tens of millions of which comes from Americans who believe that that is a human embryo -- or a human life -- that their taxpayer dollars should not be used to destroy them.

Q Follow on that?

MS. PERINO: Following on? Go ahead.

Q Why does he think the Isakson version is any better, since it uses embryonic stem cells?

MS. PERINO: As I understand it, the Isakson bill would not destroy the embryo.

Q I'm not sure that's exactly correct. Why does the President think it's all right to use some of these embryos that are considered non-viable? I mean, who decides?

MS. PERINO: I don't believe that that's accurate, but if I could -- let me just get you somebody that can talk to you a little bit more in an expert way, because there's a distinction there. But the President would not fund -- use federal taxpayer dollars to fund anything that would destroy an embryo.

Q Can I just follow, Dana --

MS. PERINO: On stem cells?

Q Yes.

MS. PERINO: Okay.

Q Dana, like you said, we spend billions of dollars on health care in this country and medicines and all that. As you know that yoga has become a household name in America today, and President also spoke one time about this yoga. Can you --

MS. PERINO: The President does yoga?

Q No, no, he spoke one time, somebody brought it to his attention. But my question is, that you think President can go beyond talking and he can endorse that -- yoga is free of any medicines and free of --

MS. PERINO: How about I say that the President endorses all sorts of exercises, depending on whatever anybody can and is willing to do.

Bret.

Q I'll try to follow that one. (Laughter.) Senator Reid said he wasn't going to a meeting where there are preconditions. How did you read that statement?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think it's a knee-jerk reaction that's unfortunate. I think that the President has extended a hand and that the immediate reaction is one of disappointment -- we're disappointed. I don't know how their conditions have changed at all, in terms of the President saying early on, about over a month ago, that he would veto the bill if it came to his desk in its present form. I don't know what they're thinking about, in terms of how they could change. I don't even know if they've coalesced around a single idea over on the Senate side. And so it's one of disappointment, but we have an open invitation and we hope that they show up.

Q The discussion that you talk about that the President wants to have would be a discussion to reiterate his stance?

MS. PERINO: I think it's a chance for the President to reiterate his stance and to explain to the members why an arbitrary date for a withdrawal is basically mandating failure. And because he knows -- and the Democrats know -- that they don't have the votes to override the President's veto, that it's incumbent upon the Democrats, if they say that they want to fund the troops, to figure out a path forward to do that.

Q Have any members actually accepted the invitation yet?

MS. PERINO: I don't think so.

Q Dana, on another subject, the House Judiciary --

MS. PERINO: Oh, I hate it when you're looking at your Blackberry. (Laughter.)

Q The House Judiciary Committee served its subpoena to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, seeking documents relating to the firing of the U.S. attorneys. Are you aware of that? And would the White House support that?

MS. PERINO: I'm not aware of a subpoena. I do know that the Justice Department -- I know from personal experience, based on the press calls that I've gotten -- has been working very hard to turn over documents to be responsive to the Congress's requests, and so we'll have to take a look. I don't know what's different there.

Q So you're not aware that the House Judiciary has issued a subpoena to the Attorney General seeking those documents that they haven't yet provided?

MS. PERINO: I think the Justice Department has been working very hard to be fully responsive to the request, as the President asked them to do. So I don't know what's new here and we'll have to check it out.

John.

Q Dana, in your statement this morning, this is not a negotiation -- was that one of your prepared talking points, was that just -- (laughter) -- and do you regret saying it?

MS. PERINO: What? You don't think that I can be spontaneous? No, I meant to say what I said.

Go ahead, Greg.

Q Dana, on Iran, we heard from that country's President this week touting success or progress anyway in its nuclear capacity. We know that the White House has expressed concern about this kind of action before, but is there any alarm at the White House over the latest statement?

MS. PERINO: No, I think that our intelligence community makes those assessments, and Director McConnell from the DNI's office has spoken to them. I don't know -- I don't believe that they're beliefs or assessments have changed. I'd have to refer you over there.

What I can say is that the Iranians had several opportunities to take up the offer that is before them, if they suspend their uranium enrichment and reprocessing, that we can go back to negotiations. And we certainly hope that they would make the right choice. The Permanent 5-plus-1, those countries, we have shown that we can speak with one voice and speak strongly, and that we can continue to further isolate Iran if they decide to take the wrong path.

Q The President has talked about weapons of mass destruction, of course, for a number of years. Has the Iranian threat reached the level of the Iraqi threat of a few years ago?

MS. PERINO: I don't know what you're trying to drive at there. I can reiterate for you that we are working diplomatically with our partners and our allies, and making sure that Iran does not achieve what its stated aim is, is to have a -- well, they haven't said that they -- they want a peaceful nuclear program, but we do believe that they are working towards a nuclear weapon and we are not going to allow that to happen.

Q Supporters of Muqtada al Sadr held a large rally yesterday. And it's clear they want an Islamic state, not a democratic coalition. How does this administration hope to coopt them and bring them into the fold so that their views of how they want that country run can work in conjunction with the way that the President of Iraq wants it run?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that's part of what Prime Minister Maliki has been working to do, which is to have political reconciliation within the country. There's no doubt there are several thousand people that rallied and said that they would like to have Americans leave. Look, we would like to leave, as well, but we want to do it when the conditions on the ground are right to do that, and when the Iraqis have the capability in order to protect their own citizens.

If we were to leave now, that vacuum would be filled by al Qaeda and the Shia insurgents, and the killing and bloodshed would no doubt increase, and then a safe haven would be created for al Qaeda in which to launch other attacks. So the concerns that we have and the reasons that we think it is so important that we get the troops the money that they need is so that we can help General Petraeus finish the mission that he was sent to do.

Go ahead, Joanie.

Q Thank you. What is the White House's reaction to the Macau announcement this morning to unblock the North Korea funds? And, also, how can the White House be sure these funds will be used for humanitarian needs and how does the administration think this all plays into the six-party talks?

MS. PERINO: Well, we do think that it's important that within the context of the six-party talks that we believe that everyone is operating in good faith. And that money was released today, the $25 million. We have been assured that it is going to be used for humanitarian and education reasons.

I would remind you that it is the six-party talks which have provided the leverage now to make sure that we do not have a nuclear weapon in North Korea. And the allies that have spoken today are all holding very strong on that. So I think that as North Korea nears its deadline, that this step was a big one. And Chris Hill spoke to that earlier today. I'd refer you for more detail to his comments and to the Treasury Department.

Connie.

Q Thank you. I have two British questions I might ask if you'd take them -- does the U.S. know anything about the missing British reporter in Gaza? And can the U.S. help out through back channels to try to locate him?

MS. PERINO: I'd refer you to State Department on that one.

Q Okay. And does the U.S. or the President have any opinion on the British servicemen selling their stories? Are Americans allowed to sell stories --

MS. PERINO: No, I haven't talked to him about it.

Q Can -- perhaps you can look into it?

MS. PERINO: Jim, go ahead.

Q Can we go back one more time to this notion of what a clean bill is? Now, not to negotiate, but to define it. If a bill shows up, stripped of the pork, but still has some kind of timetable in it, is that unacceptable to the President?

MS. PERINO: I'm not -- I know that would be great to get me to negotiate from here. I would refer you back to the position of the President --

Q I don't want to negotiate. I want a definition.

MS. PERINO: He has said that an arbitrary timetable in which we send a save-the-date card to the Iraqis is unacceptable to him.

Q So you say save-the-date? So you --

MS. PERINO: I stole that from Don Stewart. (Laughter.)

Q I bet you just guaranteed yourself an appearance there. (Laughter.)

Q I don't think that was Jon Stewart, I think it was Don Stewart. (Laughter.)

Q And if you take the timetables out but keep the pork, then that's not acceptable either?

MS. PERINO: The President has said he would veto it based on the pork and the arbitrary timetables.

Q So how are those not preconditions, then?

MS. PERINO: How is it not preconditions for them to say that they're going to keep them in?

Q No, but the terms they're coming down to discuss and to say that the President set up preconditions.

MS. PERINO: We get -- all the time we get these questions of, why won't we just meet? And the President is saying, let's have a meeting, let's have a discussion. And I think that it would be -- it would be the right thing for both sides to do, to sit down and have a talk.

Q Thank you.

Q Dana --

MS. PERINO: I'll get you afterwards, Les.

Q Oh.

MS. PERINO: I'm sorry.

END 1:16 P.M. EDT

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070410-2.html
Top
mynameis
Posted: Apr 11 2007, 10:40 PM


If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.


Group: Members
Posts: 4,823
Member No.: 856
Joined: 4-November 06



Press Briefing by Dana Perino

White House Conference Center Briefing Room
12:45 P.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Welcome back, everybody. I don't have any opening announcements, so we can go straight to questions.

Q Senator Reid said today, in response to the President's invitation to come down and talk, he said the President has to deal with Congress and he has got to listen to us, and that what the President is offering is not a negotiation.

MS. PERINO: I'm not quite sure where to begin with all that, because, first of all, they have known for 64 days that the President needed this money for the troops. Secondly, they've known for well over a month -- before they even passed the two bills, one out of the House and one out of the Senate -- that the President would veto it, based on the arbitrary time line in terms of a date for a forced retreat, the micromanaging that they put into the bill that would handcuff our generals on the ground, and then the extra pork barrel spending that they had to include in order to get the ball across the finish line.

On March 28th, Senator Reid points to a letter he sent to the President, saying that they wanted to sit down and talk. So now that the President, after their two-week recess, says, why don't we have this discussion, I'm not quite sure I can understand why he so, out of hand, rejects the President's offer to meet. It was a knee-jerk reaction and it was quite unfortunate. The invitation stands; we would like for them to come down and talk with us.

Q But you said that it's not a negotiation. And what I think Senator Reid is saying is the President has got to listen to the Congress and has to deal with the Congress. Is there room for negotiation and compromise from the White House?

MS. PERINO: Well, the President has said we should not have a bill that ties the hands of our generals and that adds all this extraneous spending and puts strings on all the money that they say that they want to give to the troops. He's asked for a clean bill.

Senator Reid has me very confused. On the one hand, he says that they want to fund the troops. But on the other hand

-- at what price are they going to give this money to the troops? They believe that the war either cannot be won, or that it has already been lost. And so if they have the courage of their convictions and they really want to cut off funding for the troops, then they should go ahead and do that. But instead, what the President is saying is, if you need for me to veto this bill, I will -- reluctantly, but I will, if that's the political statement that you need to make. But if the goal is, as you've stated -- at least in some parts of your communication on this

-- that they want to get the money to the troops, then let's go ahead and have a clean bill. If you want to have other discussions, that's fine, but the President has said, let's meet, let's discuss. You can talk about how -- you don't have the votes to override my veto, but yet you say you want to fund the troops. So why don't we have a discussion about how we're going to get there.

Q Dana, the Senator, I think, was addressing sort of the bigger picture of the tone of these discussions. And he said -- I'd like to get you to respond to this -- that the President must realize he has to deal with Congress, that there's no more rubber stamp. He's got to listen to us because we are speaking for the American people and he isn't.

MS. PERINO: I don't -- look, the President has been dealing with Congress since we got here in 2001. I understand that they have said many times that there's a Congress to deal with, that there's constitutional roles for them to play. We agree. We have a constitutional role to play, as well. What they can do in their constitutional role is decide whether or not they're going to fund the troops. They don't have the constitutional role to micromanage the war effort, and the management of the commanders on the ground.

I think that the tone that everyone needs to take a step back and look at is that the President is saying, let's go ahead and have a discussion about how we're going to get a bill to me that funds our troops, because you have to admit you don't have the votes to override my veto.

Q But he's saying -- he is saying, I think Senator Reid is saying, look, the President doesn't -- he's not the sole determinant of the discussion about the way forward in Iraq. The President has the way he wants to proceed, but Harry Reid is saying that Congress is speaking for the American people when it comes to how to proceed in Iraq, not the President.

MS. PERINO: I don't think the American people are saying that the generals should be handcuffed and that there should be micromanagement by Senator Harry Reid as a military advisor. He should be the Senator from Nevada and the leader of the Senate. The American people have wanted change in Iraq, and they got it. The President announced a new policy on January 10th that was quite different and divergent from where we were before. And about three weeks later, the Senate unanimously confirmed General Petraeus and sent him to war with a battle plan. And yet now they say that that battle plan won't work.

And so my point is, we have an opportunity for them to come down and discuss how we're going to get money for the troops. I understand that they might not agree with the President's policy, but there is a new one, and it's been implemented according to General Petraeus and many others on the ground. Despite the real challenges that we have and the violence that continues, seeds of hope have been planted, that we can get the violence under control. So the tone of the discussion rests on both sides.

Q Were you listening to Senator Reid today? Your reaction was what? Would you say confusion?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think it -- I was only able to read his comments, I wasn't able to see them. But I am confused by the Democrats' position, and by their own position. On the one hand, he says he would vote to cut off funds for the troops completely. On the other hand, today he says that they would never do that. So our point is, the Democrats ought to negotiate amongst themselves first, figure out what their position is, and then come forward and talk to the President about either how they're going to send him a bill that can fund the troops that meets the requirements of being able to give the troops what they need without strings attached, or, if they're not going to do that, then they have to figure out another path forward.

Q So, Dana, just to follow, I mean, if the Democrats don't come up with a negotiation or something that's different to present to the President, then what do they have to get out of this meeting? I mean, the President and the administration always accuses them of political theater, but how is it not more than a photo op if they're not really -- if the White House isn't willing to give anything?

MS. PERINO: I think, Suzanne, you have to remember, the ball is in the Congress's court. When they know that they can't override the President's veto, and yet they still say that they want to send money to the troops, it is incumbent upon them to figure out how they're going to do that. And this discussion with the President can provide for a forum for both leaders. Remember, it's a bipartisan meeting -- Republicans and Democrats can sit down, talk with the President about his position, and about how they can move forward.

Q The bottom line is, is that it's a take-it-or-leave-it deal from this administration; there's no room for negotiation?

MS. PERINO: The President will not accept a timetable for withdrawal that forces retreat and forces failure. And he will not accept micromanagement from Capitol Hill on his generals. And it is unconscionable that they would have pork barrel spending added to it that is -- for tours of the Capitol and other such "emergencies" in an emergency spending bill when there is a budget process that's going forward in Congress on a parallel track. I think that those are principled stands that the President has had. If we can get beyond that, and talk about funding for the troops, we should. We are interested in how they think that we can improve in Iraq. If they have other ideas beyond what General David Petraeus is going, by all means, let's hear them.

Go ahead, Matt.

Q You seem to be saying that the President wants to talk to the Democrats about this.

MS. PERINO: We have an open invitation for them to come talk to us.

Q But he's actually ruling out any kind of compromise, is that correct?

MS. PERINO: This is not a meeting in order to compromise. This is a meeting to discuss the way forward, because the Democrats have to admit that they don't have the votes to override the President's veto. And at the same time, they say that they want to fund the troops. So at some point, the Democrats are going to have to come to a consensus on how to move forward. And a meeting with the President is a chance for the leaders to get together -- leadership from both parties -- to sit down and figure out how they're going to do that.

Q You said that this was a change of policy for the President, the surge.

MS. PERINO: Certainly.

Q And so escalation of the war is a change of policy?

MS. PERINO: Helen, we can go back over all the things that the President said in January, but there was a couple of key points.

Q No, no, I mean, is that what you call a change of policy, when we escalate the war?

MS. PERINO: A couple of key points. What the President said is that we needed to -- agreed with the Iraqis that we needed to try to transition power to them more quickly for their Iraqi security forces. But the key issue was that violence in Baghdad was so great that the President realized after talking to his military advisors that to leave would be very harmful to the region and to our country, but to stay and try to quell the violence in Baghdad --

Q But why? Do you mean Iraqis are going to come and attack us?

MS. PERINO: The terrorists that are seeking a safe haven in Iraq, if we were to leave, would find one, just like they had one in Afghanistan, and they could --

Q How do you know that?

MS. PERINO: -- hurt us and -- well, based on experience from September 11th. That's how we know it.

Q September 11th had nothing to do with Iraq.

Q When the President today said if Congress wants to make a political statement they should do so quickly -- and then you also used that phrase -- does referring to Congress's role in this as a political statement in any way diminish their part in this process?

MS. PERINO: No, I think that the point we're trying to make is that they do not have votes to override the President's veto. In order to get this bill passed, they had to add fixed time lines for withdrawal, they had to add micromanagement on the generals, and they had to have a lot of extra pork barrel spending in order to get the bare minimum in order to get the ball across the finish line.

That is the political statement that I think that the President felt that they had to make. If they have decided that they don't need to have all of those positions out there, if they've taken their votes and that they don't need to send that conference -- get together for a conference report and send a bill to the President that he has to veto, fine. But what we have to do is get a process going where they can get a clean bill to us.

Q Does the President risk using the troops when this morning he talked about if this does not go the way he wants, those troops and their families may have to wait longer for them to come home?

MS. PERINO: The President takes great pains not to politicize the troops. But what he was repeating was what the military -- Department of Defense has told him they are going to have to do, since they don't have this money.

John.

Q What would you consider a clean bill? And could a clean bill include goals for withdrawals in the future, versus the hard time lines that the Democrats seem to --

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that hopefully the Democrats will come down and have a meeting with the President on Tuesday and they can have discussions. I'm not going not going to negotiate from here.

Go ahead, Keith.

Q I'm just having a little trouble understanding the meeting, I guess. On the one hand, it's not a negotiation, but it does sound like while the President is going to reject these bills that are out there, that he is willing to entertain some other ideas from the Democrats, as long as there aren't timetables and there isn't micromanaging. Of course, that's a word you can define --

MS. PERINO: There are some very clear lines that the President has drawn and they are outlined in our statements of administration policy and we've talked about them for well over a month now. What the President has said is that he's very serious about getting this money for our troops. He laid out the reasons why, the drastic reasons why from the Department of Defense -- on why we need to get that money to them sooner than later. It's a very real problem now.

Q But in this meeting he is willing to listen to other Democratic ideas --

MS. PERINO: The President has always been willing to listen to other ideas.

Q Okay, so could it end up becoming a negotiation of putting their ideas out and he has ideas -- I mean, it sounds like it might be a negotiation.

MS. PERINO: I think that the point that Suzanne was making was, if they have ideas about how we can improve in Iraq, the President was -- absolutely wants to hear them. Many members went to the Middle East and to Iraq over the recess, and if they saw something there that they think General Petraeus and his men could be doing better, by all means, I'm sure that we'd all like to hear it.

Go ahead, Sheryl.

Q I guess I'm also having trouble understanding this meeting and what the Democrats could get out of it, and what role does the President see himself playing. You said this is not a meeting in order to compromise, it's a meeting to discuss a way forward. Does the President envision himself as some kind of mediator in this effort to --

MS. PERINO: No, I think the President understands that it's incumbent upon him to explain to the members his positions and reasons why. And it's not just the President that thinks that arbitrary timetables are a bad idea. The military advisors do; Prime Minister Maliki today said he thinks it's a bad idea. And -- because really what it does is it just signals to the enemy that we're going to be leaving on this date; sit around and wait a while, and then you can attack us at will. So what the President wants to do is to tell the Congress that once you're back in town, after this two-week break, let's get together and let's get about the business of getting the money for our troops.

Q Is it his -- does he envision himself simply giving kind of a private lecture to Congress of the sort that he has been giving publicly?

MS. PERINO: The President is not asking to lecture anybody, nor does he want to. We understand that the Congress has a role to play; we understand what that role is. I would hope that they understand what the Commander-in-Chief's role is. And if a meeting can help alleviate some of the tension, then that's what we are for.

Q And then, finally, if a bill were to include sort of softer milestones, as opposed to fixed timetables for withdrawal, is that something that could be acceptable to the President?

MS. PERINO: This is the same question that John asked, and I'll give you the same answer. I'll decline to negotiate from here.

Q Realistically, both sides are entrenched on their opinions of this, and you're saying it's not a compromise. What, realistically, are you expecting as an outcome from this meeting?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that's up to the Democrats right now. I think that they don't have the votes to override the President's veto, they've known that for many weeks. They also have said that they want to fund the troops. So at some point the Democrats are going to have to come together amongst themselves and coalesce around a position that the President can talk to -- that the President then can talk to them about.

Q Does it benefit this White House to keep its feet in the sand, saying, I'm not going to move, and allow them to just stay the same way?

MS. PERINO: I think it benefits the troops and the American people for the Commander-in-Chief to be a strong, principled leader, which is what the President is.

Q And another subject, quickly. Yesterday you gave me a statement from the President that he said Don Imus's apology was the appropriate thing to do. Does the President, who has supported women in his administration, African American women, Secretary of State, you standing there at the podium, does he feel that punishment of the suspension of Don Imus was enough, and should the FCC have stronger rulings or regulations on sexist and racist statements?

MS. PERINO: I haven't talked to him beyond what I was able to get yesterday, which is that the President believes that the apology was the absolute right thing to do. And beyond that, I think that his employer is going to have to make a decision about any action that they take based on it.

Q Were you offended personally as a woman?

MS. PERINO: Well, I'm here to speak for the President. So you and I can talk later.

Paula.

Q You got out of that one. (Laughter.)

MS. PERINO: Go ahead, Paula.

Q Dana, you frequently mention the pork barrel spending as -- needed to be taken out, but you don't mention the minimum wage -- (inaudible) -- does that have to be --

MS. PERINO: I don't believe so. I think that -- well, obviously, the President wants a clean bill, and he wants it as quickly as possible, and things that are going to hold it up would not be -- he would not look favorably upon. On that issue, I believe that there's a little bit more consensus. But I think we'll have to see how it goes from there.

Mark.

Q Can you tell us, Dana, where the administration stands on the stem cell bills that are coming up on the Hill now, and the rationale, too?

MS. PERINO: Well, earlier today -- as you know, the Senate is going to be debating this on the floor the next two days. A couple of things on that. We put out two statements of administration policy earlier today. There are two -- there are several bills moving through Congress, but there are two that are going to be debated on the floor this week. One the President said that he strongly supports and could sign, and the other one is similar to one that he vetoed before and he would veto again if it were to pass.

Just taking a step back -- in 2001, the President was confronted with this ethical challenge and ethical dilemma. And as President, he had given the issue a considerable amount of thought. He consulted with religious leaders and bio-ethicists and scientists. He has -- it is incumbent upon the President to balance both the moral and the ethical boundaries for new scientific research.

His policy reaches balance in a way that he believes does not cross what he considers to be a clear moral line. And that was that tens of millions of Americans believe that embryos are human beings and human life, and that the taxpayer dollars that were requested to go towards this research were going to be used to destroy those embryos. And the President believes that that was the moral line that he could not cross. However, what he did do -- and he was the first President to do -- was he funded federal taxpayer dollars to 21 stem cell lines that were already in existence. So that money was the first to go towards that.

In addition to that, the President has strongly encouraged other types of stem cell research, like adult stem cell and cord blood research. There is also no ban on private sector funding. I think that I see -- I see that reported in places where the President is accused of trying to stop or ban stem cell research, but that could not be farther from the truth. He's been supportive of it. And I realize that there are many people out there who believe that stem cell research could hopefully lead to cures for many different diseases, and the President hopes that that's true. And he's very encouraged that there are so many scientists who are out there working to create a body of research that can move forward on stem cell research without the destruction of human embryos.

Q Is the President's mind at all -- has he had any second thoughts in light of what his own NIH Director said about how the limiting effect of his order about federal funding --

MS. PERINO: The President weighed this issue very carefully back in 2001, and has thought about it since. And he believes that that clear moral line that he established back in August of 2001 is a good place for the country to be. And he understands that there are people who might have different viewpoints, but he believes that federal taxpayer dollars, tens of millions of which comes from Americans who believe that that is a human embryo -- or a human life -- that their taxpayer dollars should not be used to destroy them.

Q Follow on that?

MS. PERINO: Following on? Go ahead.

Q Why does he think the Isakson version is any better, since it uses embryonic stem cells?

MS. PERINO: As I understand it, the Isakson bill would not destroy the embryo.

Q I'm not sure that's exactly correct. Why does the President think it's all right to use some of these embryos that are considered non-viable? I mean, who decides?

MS. PERINO: I don't believe that that's accurate, but if I could -- let me just get you somebody that can talk to you a little bit more in an expert way, because there's a distinction there. But the President would not fund -- use federal taxpayer dollars to fund anything that would destroy an embryo.

Q Can I just follow, Dana --

MS. PERINO: On stem cells?

Q Yes.

MS. PERINO: Okay.

Q Dana, like you said, we spend billions of dollars on health care in this country and medicines and all that. As you know that yoga has become a household name in America today, and President also spoke one time about this yoga. Can you --

MS. PERINO: The President does yoga?

Q No, no, he spoke one time, somebody brought it to his attention. But my question is, that you think President can go beyond talking and he can endorse that -- yoga is free of any medicines and free of --

MS. PERINO: How about I say that the President endorses all sorts of exercises, depending on whatever anybody can and is willing to do.

Bret.

Q I'll try to follow that one. (Laughter.) Senator Reid said he wasn't going to a meeting where there are preconditions. How did you read that statement?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think it's a knee-jerk reaction that's unfortunate. I think that the President has extended a hand and that the immediate reaction is one of disappointment -- we're disappointed. I don't know how their conditions have changed at all, in terms of the President saying early on, about over a month ago, that he would veto the bill if it came to his desk in its present form. I don't know what they're thinking about, in terms of how they could change. I don't even know if they've coalesced around a single idea over on the Senate side. And so it's one of disappointment, but we have an open invitation and we hope that they show up.

Q The discussion that you talk about that the President wants to have would be a discussion to reiterate his stance?

MS. PERINO: I think it's a chance for the President to reiterate his stance and to explain to the members why an arbitrary date for a withdrawal is basically mandating failure. And because he knows -- and the Democrats know -- that they don't have the votes to override the President's veto, that it's incumbent upon the Democrats, if they say that they want to fund the troops, to figure out a path forward to do that.

Q Have any members actually accepted the invitation yet?

MS. PERINO: I don't think so.

Q Dana, on another subject, the House Judiciary --

MS. PERINO: Oh, I hate it when you're looking at your Blackberry. (Laughter.)

Q The House Judiciary Committee served its subpoena to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, seeking documents relating to the firing of the U.S. attorneys. Are you aware of that? And would the White House support that?

MS. PERINO: I'm not aware of a subpoena. I do know that the Justice Department -- I know from personal experience, based on the press calls that I've gotten -- has been working very hard to turn over documents to be responsive to the Congress's requests, and so we'll have to take a look. I don't know what's different there.

Q So you're not aware that the House Judiciary has issued a subpoena to the Attorney General seeking those documents that they haven't yet provided?

MS. PERINO: I think the Justice Department has been working very hard to be fully responsive to the request, as the President asked them to do. So I don't know what's new here and we'll have to check it out.

John.

Q Dana, in your statement this morning, this is not a negotiation -- was that one of your prepared talking points, was that just -- (laughter) -- and do you regret saying it?

MS. PERINO: What? You don't think that I can be spontaneous? No, I meant to say what I said.

Go ahead, Greg.

Q Dana, on Iran, we heard from that country's President this week touting success or progress anyway in its nuclear capacity. We know that the White House has expressed concern about this kind of action before, but is there any alarm at the White House over the latest statement?

MS. PERINO: No, I think that our intelligence community makes those assessments, and Director McConnell from the DNI's office has spoken to them. I don't know -- I don't believe that they're beliefs or assessments have changed. I'd have to refer you over there.

What I can say is that the Iranians had several opportunities to take up the offer that is before them, if they suspend their uranium enrichment and reprocessing, that we can go back to negotiations. And we certainly hope that they would make the right choice. The Permanent 5-plus-1, those countries, we have shown that we can speak with one voice and speak strongly, and that we can continue to further isolate Iran if they decide to take the wrong path.

Q The President has talked about weapons of mass destruction, of course, for a number of years. Has the Iranian threat reached the level of the Iraqi threat of a few years ago?

MS. PERINO: I don't know what you're trying to drive at there. I can reiterate for you that we are working diplomatically with our partners and our allies, and making sure that Iran does not achieve what its stated aim is, is to have a -- well, they haven't said that they -- they want a peaceful nuclear program, but we do believe that they are working towards a nuclear weapon and we are not going to allow that to happen.

Q Supporters of Muqtada al Sadr held a large rally yesterday. And it's clear they want an Islamic state, not a democratic coalition. How does this administration hope to coopt them and bring them into the fold so that their views of how they want that country run can work in conjunction with the way that the President of Iraq wants it run?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that's part of what Prime Minister Maliki has been working to do, which is to have political reconciliation within the country. There's no doubt there are several thousand people that rallied and said that they would like to have Americans leave. Look, we would like to leave, as well, but we want to do it when the conditions on the ground are right to do that, and when the Iraqis have the capability in order to protect their own citizens.

If we were to leave now, that vacuum would be filled by al Qaeda and the Shia insurgents, and the killing and bloodshed would no doubt increase, and then a safe haven would be created for al Qaeda in which to launch other attacks. So the concerns that we have and the reasons that we think it is so important that we get the troops the money that they need is so that we can help General Petraeus finish the mission that he was sent to do.

Go ahead, Joanie.

Q Thank you. What is the White House's reaction to the Macau announcement this morning to unblock the North Korea funds? And, also, how can the White House be sure these funds will be used for humanitarian needs and how does the administration think this all plays into the six-party talks?

MS. PERINO: Well, we do think that it's important that within the context of the six-party talks that we believe that everyone is operating in good faith. And that money was released today, the $25 million. We have been assured that it is going to be used for humanitarian and education reasons.

I would remind you that it is the six-party talks which have provided the leverage now to make sure that we do not have a nuclear weapon in North Korea. And the allies that have spoken today are all holding very strong on that. So I think that as North Korea nears its deadline, that this step was a big one. And Chris Hill spoke to that earlier today. I'd refer you for more detail to his comments and to the Treasury Department.

Connie.

Q Thank you. I have two British questions I might ask if you'd take them -- does the U.S. know anything about the missing British reporter in Gaza? And can the U.S. help out through back channels to try to locate him?

MS. PERINO: I'd refer you to State Department on that one.

Q Okay. And does the U.S. or the President have any opinion on the British servicemen selling their stories? Are Americans allowed to sell stories --

MS. PERINO: No, I haven't talked to him about it.

Q Can -- perhaps you can look into it?

MS. PERINO: Jim, go ahead.

Q Can we go back one more time to this notion of what a clean bill is? Now, not to negotiate, but to define it. If a bill shows up, stripped of the pork, but still has some kind of timetable in it, is that unacceptable to the President?

MS. PERINO: I'm not -- I know that would be great to get me to negotiate from here. I would refer you back to the position of the President --

Q I don't want to negotiate. I want a definition.

MS. PERINO: He has said that an arbitrary timetable in which we send a save-the-date card to the Iraqis is unacceptable to him.

Q So you say save-the-date? So you --

MS. PERINO: I stole that from Don Stewart. (Laughter.)

Q I bet you just guaranteed yourself an appearance there. (Laughter.)

Q I don't think that was Jon Stewart, I think it was Don Stewart. (Laughter.)

Q And if you take the timetables out but keep the pork, then that's not acceptable either?

MS. PERINO: The President has said he would veto it based on the pork and the arbitrary timetables.

Q So how are those not preconditions, then?

MS. PERINO: How is it not preconditions for them to say that they're going to keep them in?

Q No, but the terms they're coming down to discuss and to say that the President set up preconditions.

MS. PERINO: We get -- all the time we get these questions of, why won't we just meet? And the President is saying, let's have a meeting, let's have a discussion. And I think that it would be -- it would be the right thing for both sides to do, to sit down and have a talk.

Q Thank you.

Q Dana --

MS. PERINO: I'll get you afterwards, Les.

Q Oh.

MS. PERINO: I'm sorry.

END 1:16 P.M. EDT

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070410-2.html
Top
mynameis
Posted: Apr 12 2007, 09:20 PM


If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.


Group: Members
Posts: 4,823
Member No.: 856
Joined: 4-November 06



Press Briefing by Dana Perino
White House Conference Center Briefing Room

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1:23 P.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: You heard from the President this morning. The United States strongly condemns the attack on the Iraqi parliament against the democratically elected government of Iraq. This attack demonstrates that the terrorists and extremists will go to great lengths to disrupt the Iraqi government, one that is working for peace and stability in not only their own country, but in the region. The United States and Iraq cannot and will not let those terrorists succeed. We continue to monitor the situation, and we are a part of the investigation to find out how it happened, and we will provide you as many updates as we can as the day continues.

Questions.

Q Is there any concern that the loss of White House emails through outside email providers might involve a violation of law?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think one of the things to step back and take a look at is that we are talking about a very small universe of emails. There are 1,700 employees that work for the Executive Office of the President, 1,000 of those are political employees, like myself, and 22 of them have political email accounts. That's about 2 percent of the people.

We have a policy in which any emails that are sent to somebody like myself at an EOP or a White House email address are archived and retained indefinitely, forever, so that we always have those. There are a small slice of people, that 2 percent, that has access to RNC-based emails, based on the fact that at the beginning of the administration we did what previous administrations had done for the past 25 years, which is, if you want to avoid the criminal violations that exist with the Hatch Act, you make sure that you don't use any government equipment in order to do political business.

There are gray areas. There are White House official business and there's political business, and to make sure that you don't cross that line, people, either out of an abundance of caution, or because of convenience, were, as we went on through the administration, sometimes erring too much on the side of caution. And we have recognized that error. We have changed the White House policy, and we are talking to, in the process -- Counsel's Office is in the process of talking to political employees that have those email accounts to make sure that they are in compliance with both the Hatch Act and also making sure that they are preserving records for the Presidential Records Act.

Q You speak of it as an error, but I guess my question is, is there any concern that any law may have been broken?

MS. PERINO: I've not heard an indication of that. I do -- I will say to you, though, our Counsel's Office is in communication with the RNC general counsel to make sure that we understand the full extent of the problem, and making sure that they understand -- if any potential emails were lost, understanding how we might be able to use forensics in order to get those back and make sure that they are a part of the presidential records.

Q Isn't it a given that some were lost, and -- well, just that?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that the -- we don't have an idea on the universe of the number of emails that were lost. I went through the small slice of the universe of the emails that could potentially have been there, but truly, we just don't know enough yet. And we will continue to update you as the review goes on, and as we continue to talk with the RNC general counsel's office to understand how those emails were archived, or not.

But one thing I will mention is that for -- since 2004, for the political employees, those emails that were sent using those RNC-provided accounts, for political employees, have been archived.*

Q Dana.

MS. PERINO: Yes.

Q On March 27th at this podium, you said that there were only a handful of White House aides who had these political RNC accounts. Now you're saying 22. That doesn't sound like a handful.

MS. PERINO: Well, I didn't know how many there were. And I think that, again, if you look at the number of people that work at the White House, almost 2,000, to have 22 people that -- I mean, that's obviously -- I grant you, it's a very large handful, but it's still a relatively small number. And it's based on the people who have responsibilities, both White House official responsibilities, but that also have responsibilities in their job description to do political activities. And to make sure that they didn't violate the Hatch Act, they had access to this other equipment.

Q But The L.A. Times today quotes Scott Stanzel as saying that there were about 50 aides.

MS. PERINO: The 22 is current, current White House employees -- 50 over the course of the administration.

Q At that March 27th briefing, as well, you said that Fred Fielding, the White House Counsel, was in touch with the RNC general counsel to make sure that there was archiving taking place. And when pressed on it you said that these were not archived just since Henry Waxman had asked you about it on the Hill, that they had been archived for a very long time. So --

MS. PERINO: I think that's -- going back those few weeks ago, this is how we have developed a better understanding of how the RNC archived or did not archive certain emails. As I said, folks like Karl Rove emails using this equipment go back to being archived to 2004. The extent of how many people had these accounts, I didn't have it readily at my fingertips. I understood it to be a handful of people. I knew that it would be at least some, if not all, of the people that worked in the Office of Political Affairs.

Q Dana, this comes at a time when the Senate Judiciary Committee is already a little bit put out in terms of negotiating with the White House. And Senator Leahy said today, "I don't know if it's more the dog ate my homework, or we're back to the Rose Mary Woods 18-minute gap." Are you concerned at all that this is going to further poison the well --

MS. PERINO: I would hope that it wouldn't, because what we have done has been forthcoming, honest, and to tell you that -- I don't have all the answers right now, but there's a review that's ongoing, we're going to keep you updated. We are trying to understand to the best of our ability the universe of the emails that were potentially lost, and we are taking steps to make sure that we use the forensics that are available to retrieve any of those that are lost. And we've changed the policy so that we can make sure that this doesn't happen again.

Q This seems to be -- at least Senator Leahy seems to be suggesting now this is a credibility issue; that the explanations coming out of the White House don't pass some sort of sniff test for him.

MS. PERINO: I don't know how you could possibly say that when what we have done is endeavor to be very forthcoming and honest in talking about a policy that we've had. Now, it would be different if we hadn't said anything at all. But we didn't. We have come forward. I would prefer to have every single answer available to you, because you have a lot of questions. And as Scott Stanzel said to you this morning, we don't have all the answers yet, but we are working with the committees --

Q But what you've said has shifted even over the last couple of weeks.

MS. PERINO: Give me an example of that.

Q Fifty, 22, handful.

MS. PERINO: Look -- and I explained that. You have to admit that when I said a handful, I was asked based on something that I didn't know.

Q I'm saying this is what Senator Leahy and the folks on the Judiciary Committee are hearing shifting explanations, and wondering what the deal is.

MS. PERINO: Well, I would be happy to personally speak to them about my reasoning for using the word "handful." But I think the proof is -- the truth is we have 1,700 employees, 1,000 of them are political employees, and 22 of them currently have these accounts. The number 50 is based on the number since the beginning of the administration. That story hasn't changed. I will be happy to explain to them why I used the word "handful," because it was based on my limited understanding of who all in the Political Affairs Office might have used them.

Q But let's take this idea that perhaps the emails could have disappeared, when I think the first thing anybody learns taking a job in America today is that emails never disappear from a workplace computer.

MS. PERINO: That is true at the White House for EOP accounts. I can't speak to any other organization, or their policies, although we are trying to work with the RNC to understand their policy. As I said, anyone with those emails here, as I understand it, since 2004, those emails have been separated from an RNC policy which is to automatically delete every 30 days deleted emails. So we have worked to try to be both in coordination and compliance with the Hatch Act, as well as the Presidential Records Act.

Q So nobody's dog ate anybody's homework?

MS. PERINO: I don't believe so.

Q How does that square with what Scott Stanzel was saying this morning, where he was saying that staffers could, so-called, double-delete?

MS. PERINO: That is true. When I say that we're trying to find if there were any potential emails that were not captured in that system, if someone had the capability to -- if they wanted to clean out their inbox -- delete a message, and then when your inbox -- when your deleted box fills up, and you decide that you want to clean that up, if you delete that one, as well, where did those emails go? And that's exactly what we're trying to find out.

Q A couple minutes ago you were saying that for sure since 2004 it's been archived, though. But I'm trying to understand, with the double-delete, can that override the archiving?

MS. PERINO: I think that it might be able to. And I can't speak to any individual's personal email habits, but let me -- I'm not a technical expert, so let me make sure we find that.

Q If it could override it, then what you said earlier about it's archived since 2004 may not be true, because it could be double-delete -- some of the emails could be --

MS. PERINO: Let me look into the specific technical pieces of that.

Q We've heard the name Karl Rove. Are there are any other assistants to the President, that highest title, that have these outside accounts? Will you provide the names of all the 22 who do use these outside the --

MS. PERINO: Let me take that back and see if I can get you either a list, or if I can at least find out if there are any other assistants to the President. I'm not aware of one off the top of my head, but, again, I said handful, and there were 22, so I'm being called on that. So I'll hold back until I have the correct answer.

Q Is part of the review to ask these 22 why they chose to use outside email? You've said abundance of caution, perhaps the convenience.

MS. PERINO: Well, I think the Counsel's Office is certainly talking with everyone, but I think that the reason that they were using outside email is for the very reason I explained, which when you get into the White House and you received the previous policy and the previous manual, you were given one paragraph based on what you should do in terms of your official White House -- conducting official business on a White House account, but you're given extensive explanation, over two pages, over how to avoid the Hatch Act**. And people were very concerned about making sure that, out of an abundance of caution, and to make sure that -- to avoid any sense of impropriety, that they would use their RNC-provided equipment to avoid that Hatch Act violation.

Q Understanding that distinction, but is it possible that there could be a motivation to avoid having the communication be part of the permanent record before using it?

MS. PERINO: I'm not aware -- I am not aware of any, but again, I can't speak to all the personal motivations or the personal email habits of individuals. If there's more I can get you on that, I will.

Q Is that part of the review?

MS. PERINO: I am -- I don't know. I'll have to check with Counsel's Office.

Q What does the President know about this?

MS. PERINO: The President, when he heard about it, said that he wanted to make sure that it was getting fixed. That is one of the reasons that we have a new policy, and that the Counsel's Office is talking with anyone who would have one of these accounts to make sure they understand the new policy. And part of that is also that there are going to be gray areas, and the Counsel's Office has an open door for people that, if they have a question about whether something falls on this side of the line or that side of the line, that they can go to the Counsel's Office and help get a judgment call.

Q What is new?

MS. PERINO: Well, we have -- it's clear, in regards to making sure people understand White House official business should be done on your White House official account. You should still endeavor to make sure that you don't have a Hatch Act violation. But one of the things that's new is that you have to -- if you err on the side of using a political email, that you would also archive that some way.

So you would either print it off, or you would forward it to another email, to your personal account -- I'm sorry, to your White House account, in some way keep that so that in the future, if the Counsel's Office needed to look back at those records, that they would have access to that. And in addition to that, I believe that individuals will just have to sign off that they got the policy and that they understand it, and that they will follow it.

Peter.

Q Are these outside forensics experts, or are they with some FBI, or some other investigative --

MS. PERINO: I don't know. I don't know. Let me check. I don't know if they've hired anyone yet. I wonder if -- I wonder if they're still consulting on how it could be done, and to the extent it can be done. So I'll need to check.

Q No forensics experts have delved into this yet?

MS. PERINO: No, no, not yet.

Q How and when was this -- just this loss, if that's what it was, discovered, and who discovered it?

MS. PERINO: I believe that it was in the context of looking into the document requests from the -- on the U.S. attorneys matter.

Q And who discovered it?

MS. PERINO: I don't know exactly which individual discovered it, possibly someone in the Counsel's Office, or maybe a combination of people.

Q So you have this new policy and what -- you're going into the seventh year of this administration. Why did it take so long to enact this policy?

MS. PERINO: Well, I will admit it, we screwed up and we're trying to fix it. The policy that existed from the very beginning -- remember, this is before BlackBerrys ever existed. Most people in the White House did not get BlackBerrys until well after September 11th. And that communication has now become ubiquitous. I know you all use it, and we do, too. And so now you're on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it seems that you don't ever have a break. And so technology really moved quickly. And the policy should have evolved with it, and it didn't. But we're trying to fix it now.

Q I didn't understand -- I thought these were laptops at the RNC. They also gave BlackBerrys?

MS. PERINO: There are laptops and there was -- yes, yes. And there are also -- I think there was a question this morning on whether or not the RNC had paid for the phone lines, and we didn't have the answer at the morning, but we checked, and they do. They pay for the installation and they pay the monthly fee.

John.

Q Does the President have one of these RNC-maintained accounts?

MS. PERINO: I don't think so, no. The President says he doesn't email.

Roger.

Q Scott talked a little bit this morning about a meeting between White House staff and House Judiciary staff. Is --

MS. PERINO: Yesterday.

Q Yesterday. Are they meeting again today? And what was the upshot of that? Are they willing to wait for days, weeks?

MS. PERINO: I didn't get a readout from that meeting. I know that Waxman had had a request. We went up and fulfilled the request, provided as much information as we had at the time. And then we'll take it from there.

Q Pending the rest of the attempted recovery --

MS. PERINO: I'll see if there's -- what the next step is there. I'm not sure.

Matt.

Q Dana, just a quick change of subject, if we probably continue on this. We keep on hearing from the administration that attacks like the one at the Iraqi parliament today are to be expected as the security crackdown in Baghdad continues. But if the Green Zone, and the parliament, a very key target in the Green Zone, can't be protected four years into this war, how can we expect that ordinary Iraqis will have faith in U.S. forces to bring security to their neighborhoods?

MS. PERINO: Well, as I said, we are working with the Iraqis to understand exactly what happened here and to make sure it doesn't happen again. I think what this tells us more than anything is that we are facing an enemy that has -- is filled with such brutality. You can't imagine if that attack would have happened here at home, just up the street. It is just inconceivable how barbaric the enemy we face is, and quite determined.

And our troops are there to help the Iraqis who are in that parliament have enough space away from the violence in order to work out their political differences and make sure that they can move forward and be a democracy that can, as you've heard the President say, sustain, defend, and govern itself.

It's very troubling that this happened inside the Green Zone, and we're going to work to make sure that, one, we find out how it happened, and that it doesn't happen again. I don't -- I can't say exactly who was manning which door and how it happened yet.

Q But there was also the destruction of a major bridge today by a suicide bomb. And at what point does the persistence of these kinds of attacks say to the administration that this operation, this security crackdown is not working?

MS. PERINO: Well, you've heard General David Petraeus say it's going to take a long time to get all that -- all of our people there on the ground, all of our troops there on the ground, and get the violence under control, and working with the Iraqis to make sure that the violence can be curtailed. I don't know if we'll ever see the end of suicide bombings. It is extremely troubling, and I think that what this shows is that this is an enemy that, they say they're defending Islam, but they are killing their fellow Muslims and destroying their infrastructure and ruining their way of life.

It is very troubling, and I can only imagine how scared and hurt the families are for the people that were wounded today inside the parliament building. And I -- we really feel for them. We stand with them. And we'll make sure that we find out as much as we can to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Let me go to Mark real quick.

Q A couple more on the missing emails. As you just described the system that is in place now, is it still possible to, if you ignore the instructions, delete those emails?

MS. PERINO: No, that option has been curtailed.

Q So, regardless of whether you print out a copy or whatever, that's going to be archived, period?

MS. PERINO: As I understand it, yes. But let me just -- let me just be precise. The capability to delete from your inbox and then delete your -- clean up your deleted files, that option has been curtailed.

Q The mechanism, the door has been closed?

MS. PERINO: Correct.

Q That which you find when the forensics experts recover what it is that is lost, will you turn it over?

MS. PERINO: You mean if it's -- if it's responsive to the request in terms of the documents for the U.S. -- on the U.S. attorneys matter? Yes, that was within the package that we offered to the House and Senate Judiciary members. But that was -- that would be a part of it.

Q You understand that what Senator Leahy is saying is that this is -- the whole point of this is to not turn this stuff over.

MS. PERINO: No. I understand his point, but he's wrong.

Q Can I ask about the war supplemental meeting, or --

MS. PERINO: Anybody else on this?

Q On this.

MS. PERINO: Okay.

Q Senator Leahy said this morning, "They say they haven't been preserved, I don't believe that. You don't erase emails today. They've gone through too many servers. These emails are there, they just don't want to produce them." What does it say about the lack of credibility that the administration has that he would say something like that?

MS. PERINO: Well, it's troubling. I don't know if Senator Leahy is also an IT expert, but I can assure you that we are working very hard to make sure that we find the emails that were potentially lost and that we are responsive to the requests if there are responses that are provided -- that need providing on the U.S. attorneys matter. We're being very honest and forthcoming, and so I hope that he would understand the spirit in which we have come forward and tried to explain how we screwed up our policy, and how we're working to fix it.

Q Have you thought about calling in the FBI?

MS. PERINO: Let me check -- in terms of, like, the forensics -- that's one of my areas of -- I just don't have a clue. You can ask me about global warming, I'll know, but IT forensics is not my strong point. But we'll work to get back to you.

Q Can I go on that, as well? Following up on Mark's question. The stuff that Waxman has asked for, I think you're saying is in the realm of the stuff that you've offered to the committees, right, on the U.S. attorneys matter?

MS. PERINO: Let me check on that, because there are so many different requests coming from the Hill, that I --

Q The ultimate question is, even if you find the stuff that's been deleted, it sounds like you might not want to give it to Waxman because it's part of the U.S. attorneys matter.

MS. PERINO: No, no, no, what I'm saying is that -- and I don't think that this was a Waxman request. And I'm looking at the Judiciary Committee's request regarding U.S. attorneys, and we had said that as part of our deal, we would allow for top aides to the President to go and be interviewed by the committee, and in addition to that, we would provide all emails that had come from outside of the White House into the White House, and inside the White House, out.

What I was explaining was that the emails that would have used -- would have been sent on those RNC computers would be within that universe of requests. Does that make sense?

Q Yes. So stuff that didn't find its way into the White House system isn't going to be a part of that universe anyway? Is that what you're getting at? No?

MS. PERINO: I don't know if that is actually it. We said that outside -- emails that were coming from here, outside, that would include -- so for example, because I know this is the example you guys want, if Karl had sent an email from his RNC BlackBerry that went to an outside person, would that be included? The answer is, yes. I think that's what you were asking.

Let me go up here, and then I'll go to the back. Was it -- Wendell? Yes.

Q So Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi will be coming here after their day-long boycott yesterday. Who blinked?

MS. PERINO: I'm not going to get into that. What I can tell you is that we offered a meeting on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. -- 2:00 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. That is the meeting to which they responded positively, and we look forward to it.

Q And what's the state of the effect of not having a supplemental right now? Any untoward effects now? Are we still waiting until --

MS. PERINO: I would -- well, I would refer you to Secretary Gates and General Pace who issued a letter yesterday to the Hill outlining their additional concerns.

Can I go to the back?

Q Senator Reid says the President needed to come to the Hill because what he's being told here is what he wants to hear, and not what he needs to hear.

MS. PERINO: The President has -- hears from a lot of different people. You all have covered all the different people that he hears from. The President extended an invitation to Senator Reid and the rest of the bicameral, bipartisan leadership. We are glad that they took us up on the offer. We need to get the money to the troops. And I think the tit-for-tat is just something I'm not going to get into.

Q Dana, on the supplemental, on Tuesday the President said that because the Democrats have not gotten this in yet -- "The failure to fund our troops will mean some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines, others could see their loved ones headed back to war sooner." Why did the President mention -- this is a day before his own Pentagon is going to announce that, actually, those loved ones are going to stay in harm's way longer. And he clearly had to know that this policy was going to take place, that the deployments were going to be stretched from 12 months to 15 months. So why did he tell the American Legion that people would be staying in Iraq longer because of the Democrats, when his own Pentagon, 24 hours later, was going to keep people there longer?

MS. PERINO: Well, one, I don't know if the President knew about the -- the meeting -- remember, yesterday morning is when Secretary Gates came and talked to the President. But also, Secretary Gates was talking about a longer-term policy, to make sure that the dwell times are going to be long enough so that we can keep our troops refreshed and get them time with their family. The long-term goal, ultimate goal is to have for active duty one year deployed with two years off, and then for reservists, one year on and five years off.

We have never said that if we got the money immediately tomorrow, that folks would be able to have just a 12-year [sic] deployment and a 12-year [sic] dwell time.*** Every day that we don't get the money is one that, as Secretary Gates and General Pace have said, creates problems in terms of the training. And so by piecemeal, you see some troops have been there for 16 months, and that's what we're trying to avoid.

Q Is that really the first time the President -- it's a pretty big policy, to keep people in Iraq three months longer --

MS. PERINO: No, I think that we've known for a while --

Q -- he just heard about it yesterday morning?

MS. PERINO: I think we've known for a while that Secretary Gates was trying to figure out a way to make sure that we can alleviate this problem of having longer deployments, or troops being deployed for a longer period of time. And one of the things that he did yesterday was to say that we need more certainty for the troops. And I talked to the President about that this morning, that having more certainty for a military family to plan ahead is something that is probably priceless. I can't imagine what it's like for a youngster, when three months seems like five years, that their parent isn't going to be home.

So the point was that the end strength of the Army and of the Marines is going to be expanded. But until we get there, there are going to be these 15 -- what Secretary Gates wanted to do was give people more time to plan, because what's been happening is that you have people out there for 12 months, and then you extend them by another month, and another month, and another month. And that's quite disruptive to the troops and their families.

Q But if the President really wants certainty for the families, he had an opportunity before the American Legion, a highly respected veterans organization, to say, you know what, for certainty's sake for these families, tomorrow we're going to announce a pretty big change. They're going to stay in harm's way longer. Why wasn't he straightforward with the American Legion about his own policy?

MS. PERINO: I think the President was absolutely straightforward. And remember, I don't -- I know that Secretary Gates came and talked to the President yesterday morning, so that speech you're talking about was last Tuesday. We've known for a while that we're going to have to --

Q Two days ago, the speech.

MS. PERINO: Yes, two days ago, right.

Q And so the President didn't know about his own policy until Wednesday?

MS. PERINO: I'm not aware that the President knew that there was going to be -- that Secretary Gates had come to any decisions. But we did know that people, one, needed more certainty, because that had been a complaint and that's one that we had heard about; and two, we need to make sure that we can get the money for the troops so that the readiness issue, the training issue -- because if the troops here can't be trained, which is one of the issues that Gates and Pace said is a problem of not having the money now -- if they can't be trained, then you can't get the fresh troops out in the field. And that means that the people who are there have to stay longer.

And so I guess the way I would put it is that it gets better than it would otherwise be if we get the money today, and it gets worse than it would otherwise be if we don't.

Let's go to Lambrose and then Les.

Q The Turkey General Yasar Buyukanit asked today for permission by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan to invade northern Iraq against the Kurdish people, and the Prime Minister refused. How do you -- the U.S. forces are trying for a unified Iraq?

MS. PERINO: Mr. Lambrose, I have to admit that if you're going to be coming to my briefings, I need to get up to speed on those types of politics in that region of the world, so until then I'm going to have to ask Gordon Johndroe to get back to you. And I'll ask him to do that today. But I will endeavor to study up.

Q Yesterday I --

MS. PERINO: I know, I didn't do it -- the dog ate my homework. (Laughter.)

Les, go ahead.

Q Thank you, Dana; two questions. The top leaders of the two largest veterans organizations -- the American Legion and the VFW -- have written Congress, asking members to pass a clean war funding bill for the sake of the troops. Does the President believe the majority of Congress will accede to the request of these veteran leaders, or not?

MS. PERINO: The President is going to invite the bicameral, bipartisan leadership to the White House next Wednesday, and we hope at that meeting we can find a path forward so that a clean bill can get to the President's desk.

Q Thank you. I can't believe the President has no concern about the three Duke lacrosse players whose families face huge legal fees because they were falsely accused of rape by a female stripper. And my question, surely you can tell us that the President is glad that all charges have been dropped against these three young men, because you don't want to leave the nation in any doubt as to where the President stands on this issue, do you?

MS. PERINO: Les, I'm going to decline to comment on a legal matter --

Q It's a legal matter that's been settled.

MS. PERINO: -- I haven't spoken to the President about it. If I get a chance to, then I'll be able to respond.

Q You will speak to him?

MS. PERINO: If I get a chance to see him, I will do that.

Q Thank you.

END 1:52 P.M. EDT

*It is our understanding that since 2004 the RNC has excluded White House staff with RNC email accounts from their automatic 30-day deletion policy, though the RNC did not disable the user's capacity to manually delete emails until recent weeks. If users didn't manually delete messages from their computers since that time, the messages should be accessible. However, we cannot be sure that all communications dating from 2004 are preserved and that issue is part of the review process.

**avoid violating the Hatch Act

***12-month

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070412-5.html
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 13 2007, 02:15 PM


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Press Gaggle by Dana Perino and Dr. Ali Al-Dabbagh, Spokesman for the Government of Iraq
White House Conference Center Briefing Room


RSS Feed Press Briefings

9:40 A.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Good morning. I'm going to do the schedule, and then I have a special guest.

At 7:35 a.m. this morning, the President taped his radio address; the topic is the Iraq war supplemental and the need to fund our troops in Iraq. Saturday will be 68 days since the President sent Congress an emergency war spending bill that would provide the vital funds needed for our troops on the front lines.

At 7:40 a.m., he had his normal briefings. At 8:30 a.m. -- you've already heard the President, who made remarks at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. At 11:25 a.m. he'll have some policy time. And at 1:15 p.m. he will be meeting with parochial education leaders and parents to discuss the status and value of Catholic education and his priorities for expanding educational options for low-income students during reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act this year, and the D.C. School Choice Incentive Act by next year. That's pool at the bottom. And at 2:10 p.m., the President and Mrs. Bush depart for Camp David -- and then I know that you all depart soon after that on Friday afternoons.

Q Noooo.

MS. PERINO: Some of us have to work around here. (Laughter.)

Q We need to keep an eye on you -- (laughter.)

MS. PERINO: I have the great pleasure today of introducing to you Dr. Al-Dabbagh, who is the government spokesperson for Iraq. And he's going to be here to answer a few of your questions. I'll finish up on all your other topics that you want to cover. And then he does have a little bit of time on the back end if you wanted to speak with him individually. We're really glad he's here.

DR. AL-DABBAGH: Good morning, everyone. Thank you.

Q Good morning.

DR. AL-DABBAGH: Thank you very much for this opportunity. I'm here and ready for any questions.

Q Earlier this year, sir, the United Nations assistance mission for Iraq issued a human rights report, and it described death squad killings and other attacks on Iraqis specifically because they're homosexual. And according to an Associated Press report, you responded, "There was information in the report we cannot accept here in Iraq. The report, for example, spoke about the phenomena of homosexuality and giving them their rights. Such statements are not suitable for the Iraqi society. This is rejected. They should respect the values and traditions here in Iraq."

My question is, does the Iraqi government condemn the killings of Iraqis targeted specifically because they're homosexual? And what does the government consider the rights of Iraqi homosexuals to be?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: Iraqi government condemn each and every killing -- whoever are being killed, definitely we condemn it, due to any reasons. But, nevertheless, the United Nations report -- we have our comments, we say that you should be on site to take a proper and actual, what's going on there. And I think that the other reports -- their reports which is coming, which shows how they are more constrictive on covering Iraq.

Q Recently we have seen civil attacks inside the Green Zone -- how concerned are you that there are enablers or people infiltrating inside the government or the parliament that may have facilitated this bombing inside the Green Zone?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: The terrorist attack is -- definitely it takes some time to measure. And the Iraqi government is taking all the steps and all the measures to stop all the threat, all the places -- some of the soft places probably sometimes due to the penetration of some of those who have been privileged and given certain permission to enter the Green Zone has been misused, and some things have been passed the checkpoint.

Q There is concern about the military and the police being full of militia members. What is your government doing to screen these people and ensure their loyalty to the government?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: The Minister of Interior, until now, they had 14,000 persons. And they are restructuring the whole Ministry of Interior, in order to keep the standards of human rights appreciation, in order to keep the -- just a week back we had a trial and hearing of one of the senior officers in the Minister of Interior, because he tortured. The government of Iraq is doing all the measurement in order to keep all the levels of the police accountable for any violation of the human rights.

Q This isn't just human rights, this is in terms of members of the Iraqi police and members of the Iraqi military being members of the various sectarian militias. And, therefore, their loyalty might be divided.

DR. AL-DABBAGH: Even the militias, even anyone who is favoring a militia, you keep accountable and part of those 14,000, which has been fired. We have those who are feeling sympathy to some of the militias.

Q Thank you, Doctor. There has been criticism in this country that the actual U.S. aid that goes to the troops never really filters down to the ground, after it goes to the Ministries of Defense and Interior. I'm sure you're aware of the criticism, and the talk that the U.S. should just give the money to the troops on the ground. What's being done to alleviate this problem and make sure our aid actually gets to the people on the ground?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: As you know, that since the government -- since this government, the level of accountability being raised, the transparencies being raised. Definitely we had problems due to the 35 years, and then one more, four years or three more years which keep the situation and the accountability much less. So there is a good measure now. You could find that the corruption comes down to the minimum level, but still there is a corruption. Iraqi government is fighting and the Integrity Commission is working on full authority. All the other monitoring authorities is working in order to keep the integrity of (inaudible).

Q Thank you. Is Iraq in the middle of a civil war right now?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: Never. There is war against civilians. There is a war against Iraqi people. There are groups which they want to destroy Iraq and to destroy the region, to destroy all the Iraq. That is what you see in al Anbar. It's a few Sunnis, but then there are al Qaeda attacking those. And in Baghdad it's a common -- yesterday what you saw in the parliament. Again, this is -- all Iraqis are represented there, but they had attack. So it is not a civil war at all.

Q Doctor, how do the Iraqi people see the U.S. troop surge working? Do they believe that there is some progress? And, secondly, there's a lot of debate here about whether or not the Democrats in Congress, if they are right in calling for U.S. troops to be withdrawn by early next year? How do the Iraqis feel about those proposals?

DR. AL DABBAGH: The Iraqis are represented by the parliament and the government, elected government. And the troops are as per the invitation of the government, and they had approved last year. And there are minorities, which they are expressing their -- what you saw in Najaf, few thousands come out. And this is freedom of expression. It's good, rather than attacking America. But is also a remark that the -- within these four years, the people have the liberty to express their feeling, but at the end, majority of Iraqis, they do appreciate what the troops have done. The troops have liberated Iraqi people from Saddam, and at the end, that we feel that the American troops could do -- complete their job of training and having Iraqi security forces ready to take the security and transfer --

Q --do it by early next year, say, March, 2008?

DR. AL DABBAGH: Well, it is -- there is a time schedule, which we -- the Iraqi government had implemented in order to have the security forces, Iraqi security forces well trained and ready to transfer. We had transfer of control in different governments. We have on 17th of April, Maysan government will be transferred to Iraqis, and so on until end of this year. By that time, we feel that there will be a good situation that the Iraqi forces, and then it will open the door for negotiating about the withdrawal of the Americans.

Q What brings you to Washington?

DR. AL DABBAGH: Pardon?

Q What brings you to Washington?

DR. AL DABBAGH: Brings me in Washington to reflect the actual what's going on there in Iraq, and to show that what the positive thing what is going there in Iraq, it is not only just bomb. There are a lot of things positive is going there in Iraq, four years of liberation -- after liberation from Saddam Hussein and having the new democracy in Iraq, although that there are -- we have facing -- we are facing the difficulties and problems, especially in the security. But Iraqi people are working hard in order to build up their country.

Q Doctor, what would happen in Iraq if U.S. troops leave early next year?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: We feel that the premature withdrawal, it would be a great gift for those who did yesterday attack, and definitely it will make a vacuum of power in Iraq, which is not desirable by anyone. That is why we feel that a job should be done collectively between us and the international troops in order to put the Iraqi forces ready to take responsibility.

Q How long do you think there needs to be a U.S. presence?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: It is difficult to do a time limit, but we do feel that we are in a good way. Now what we did, President Bush and the Prime Minister had in a good way that there will be a speeding up of the training of the Iraqi forces which will entitle the American, the Iraqi to negotiate about certain withdrawal.

Q How many Iraqis have been killed in this war?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: Pardon?

Q How many Iraqis have been killed?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: How many Iraqis have been killed? I will let you know that we have 3 million Iraqis being killed at the time of Saddam. And this is a continuation --

Q I didn't ask you that.

DR. AL-DABBAGH: Yes, I'm replying -- I know that you didn't ask, but this is a continuation of that war. I feel that we don't have that figure exactly, but I guess that is exceeding 50,000 number has been killed by the terrorist groups.

Q By the terrorists, but not by the Americans?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: Well, you could find that there is people who are fighting the Americans -- Americans, they are not going to honor them. Iraqi troops, as well -- Iraqi troops kill some of those people who fight; they are not going to honor them, even though they call themselves, that they are resistant, or national resistant. Those who are breaking the law, definitely they will be attacked.

Q Do you have some kind of record of Iraqi dead?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: The Iraqi -- until now, the Iraqi government, they don't have a proper -- because of the different way and different attacks has been in different places, especially in Baghdad. Until now we are talking about that the casualties, which is 2006, which was very high. Now, due to the security, we feel that it becomes less. But I can't give any figure because we don't have the means and the measure to count the dead.

Q A while ago a number of Russian embassy staffers were kidnapped and they were killed in Iraq. Do you have any information as to how the investigation is going, if there is any progress? Can you give any example of a killing of this sort actually being solved in Iraq?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: You mean last year, two years back? Yes. This is part of the attack against Iraqis, which they attack the embassies, attack the diplomats and attack Iraqi people. We feel that al Qaeda and the people are connected with al Qaeda, they want to put the Iraqi government in a critical situation by attacking the diplomat.

Q Doctor, the administration here often cites progress on the national oil law and de-Baathification. Yet, those benchmarks have not been met yet. What is the progress report on those?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: The hyrdocarbon law is already approved by the cabinet, and we are waiting on the revenue sharing law to be also submitted to the cabinet to be approved, and then simultaneously they will go to the council of representatives, in order to be approved.

Q But it's been in that spot for a while. It's been approved from the cabinet. What's the time line for getting approved by the parliament?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: It has been submitted to the -- it's got a priority. The priority is in the house of representatives. They've got their priority. But we feel that this is very urgent, and the government do urge the council to approve it, along with the revenue sharing, which is very, very important. The de-Baathification, as you said, there are a draft -- four draft being submitted. One of them is the by -- presidency council and the cabinet council, and it is now in the council of representatives, along with the other three drafts, which they are going to get one draft in order to get it approved.

Q So if you were to predict when those things would pass, what's the time line? A couple months, end of the summer, this year?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: We thought that 2007 is the year where all this important laws will be decided, also the election, government election as well.

Q I don't intend this as an insult, I really don't understand -- if our country was going to send somebody, say, to talk to Germany about relationships between the U.S. and Germany, they would hardly send the White House press spokesperson, they would send a diplomat. I mean, are you more than just the press spokesperson? Are you some kind of a diplomat, as well? Why are you here?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: I am here to give -- to talk on some of the institutions, some surge institutions, as well as to convey the message of Iraqi people to the Americans. I'm not a diplomat, I am a spokesman of the Iraqi government. I am representing the Iraqi government, as well as Iraqi people, in order to convey the truth and reality.

Q Could you please explain why we hear a lot of complaints from the American government about the Iranian interference and Iran supplying militants inside Iraq with weapons that harm American soldiers, and we hardly hear the Iraqis voicing this concern? Do you think there is a reason for concern, or it's just an American-Iranian affair?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: Definitely, there is an interference from the Iranian in Iraqi affairs, we don't deny that. And we feel that the improvement and the better relations between the United States and Iran could minimize, could make the interference less. But even if the Americans withdraw totally from Iraq, the influence of the Iran will not be limited.

Q Doctor, the debate here -- I assume you are following this closely, the debate here in the United States and in Congress is about whether the surge can succeed, whether the United States has done all it can do in Iraq. What do you say to the high percentage of the American public that thinks this is unwinnable now, and to those in Congress who say this is up to the Iraqis to find a political solution, and it's time for the United States to go?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: We, Iraqi, we do understand that American troops there they did very good job. Beside defeating and combating those terrorist group, they did good job in reconstruction and different aspect in Baghdad and the government, even the al-Anbar, which is a very sensitive and hot -- one of the hot places for us.

But I am sure that the Americans are keep playing the positive role there in Iraq. And we are definitely, all the Iraqi -- majority of Iraq, they appreciate all what has been done by the Americans, and we are looking for the day that -- and the Americans also looking for the day that the good, and not a premature withdrawal. Until then, there is a threat which should be addressed. This is not only Iraqis, not against Iraq, but is against all international community, against all the region.

Sorry, I have to leave. Excuse me. Thank you very much.

Q Do you know where Muqtada al-Sadr is?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: No, we don't have information, Iraqi government. But it's not so important for us to know where he is in Iraq. He is allowed to move anywhere he wants, there is nothing against him from Iraqi government.

Q Is Saddam's nephew still at large?

DR. AL-DABBAGH: Saddam nephew?

Q His nephew who escaped from prison.

DR. AL-DABBAGH: Yes, still, he escaped -- we don't catch him.

Thank you very much. Thank you, sir.

Q Dr. Perino?

MS. PERINO: I wish. I was going to leave him up here to answer all your other questions. (Laughter.) But I have a feeling -- we could do the week ahead, but -- okay, go ahead. Fire away.

Q Is it the White House understanding that at least four years' worth of Karl Rove's emails are missing from RNC servers?

MS. PERINO: No, that's not my understanding.

Q Isn't this --

MS. PERINO: Do you mean from the earlier time frame, from the beginning of the administration?

Q Yes.

MS. PERINO: I don't understand the technicalities of it all. I will -- that's one of the things that I will ask them. What I do know is that, you're right, that from 2004, he was -- he and other White House officials were removed from the RNC's automatic 30-day deletion policy.

Q But you're aware of the story that the RNC council supposedly told the Hill that a bunch of Rove emails are missing.

MS. PERINO: No, I didn't read that report. I'm sorry. Did I miss it? Is that -- (laughter.)

Look, we have a review that's ongoing. Our Counsel's Office is talking with their counsel's office. And to the extent that I can get you more information, I will. What I provided you yesterday is what I knew; that remains true today. I don't have a lot of new answers. There were a couple of other things that you asked, that folks in here asked yesterday, as, for example, whether the RNC had paid for phone lines and for the installation and the monthly bills on those. I did check that out, and the answer is, yes, they did.

Q Do you know how many?

MS. PERINO: I don't know. That's why I have to get (inaudible) and come back here --

Q Hard lines or cell phones or both? Dana, hard lines or cell phones or both?

MS. PERINO: Both.

Q Has Karl Rove signed the new policy statement?

MS. PERINO: He's traveling, I don't know. He's out on the West Coast.

Q Do we have any sense yet in the review of the volume of email that he uses, how much he used his EOP address, as compared to others?

MS. PERINO: I don't.

Q What does he say has happened to them?

MS. PERINO: I haven't spoken to him. As I said, he's traveling.

Q So he's made no statement?

MS. PERINO: He has not made a statement, no. Jim.

Q I'm sorry, to clarify, so the phones that were installed, these were installed where? Sorry, you guys might know this, but --

MS. PERINO: Well, as I understand it, anyone that had one of these -- it's my understanding, and we will double check, but the specific question I had was, did the RNC pay for the installation and the monthly bills for the use of that equipment, in order to be able to be operable -- it's one thing to have a laptop, but not be able to plug it in anywhere. The plug-in part of it was what was paid for. And then monthly fees paid for by the RNC, as well.

Q Okay, and then also -- so just to clarify, too, so Rove -- there was a three-day deletion policy that was automatic.

MS. PERINO: Thirty-day deletion policy at the RNC.

Q Thirty-day. And that was suspended, but then -- are you guys confirming that Rove manually deleted his email?

MS. PERINO: No, no. I think that that is a hypothetical question. Is it possible that somebody, when you're cleaning out your inbox, that you would do that? But we have no indication that there was any improper use of these emails.

Q Was Rove's email treated -- his account treated any differently than anyone else's?

MS. PERINO: At the RNC?

Q Yes.

MS. PERINO: Yes, I believe so. Let me see if I can get this right -- and if I have to come back and clarify or give more detail, I will. But in 2004, the end of 2004 -- somewhere in 2004, his email, as well as other people that had these accounts, were exempted from the RNC's 30-day delete policy, in terms of, every 30 days they clean out their delete file, and those emails go on out to wherever they go. And there was the double-delete feature, as I understand it, was ended in January of 2006 -- looking over to Stanzel to confirm -- but January of 2006 for Karl. But I don't know about anybody else.

Q Why was it changed for Karl?

MS. PERINO: I don't know.

Q So you don't know if it was anybody -- there might have been others, also, or was it just him?

MS. PERINO: I don't know if it was anybody else. All I know was that it was for Karl's.

Q Why was Karl's --

MS. PERINO: That's one of the things, Ann, I don't know.

Q Was it a part of the Fitzgerald investigation?

MS. PERINO: I don't know.

Q Dana, you and Scott have both talked about the abundance of caution that pushed people out of the EOP system to the RNC system. Now that abundance of caution was -- the abundance of caution was so that they would not violate the Hatch Act.

MS. PERINO: Right.

Q And you guys also talked about this gray area, which is what -- the gray area, in terms of whether --

MS. PERINO: I think the gray area falls into the abundance of caution area.

Q The gray area, is it political or is it official, we don't know. So the gray area pushed them out of the EOP to the RNC, right?

MS. PERINO: Right.

Q But why wouldn't they be more careful, use that same abundance of caution to not violate the Presidential Records Act, if they're using the RNC accounts?

MS. PERINO: Again, we've see no basis to conclude that there was any improper intent in use of the RNC email system. And, remember, any email that was sent -- if they were on their BlackBerry and they wanted to send an email to me, or to anybody else within the EOP system, that email is available and archived.

Q The clarification that you guys sent out yesterday -- is it your understanding that there were emails that had disappeared that were not manually deleted? Because initially I thought the explanation was that they had been manually deleted, you don't know by whom.

MS. PERINO: No, if I left that impression, I don't know if I meant to. I'm trying to make sure that I have the words exactly right, because what I wanted to clarify yesterday is, one of the things I said was that since 2004 people with email accounts, that those emails were archived. But I should have been more precise, and said that they were excluded from that 30-day delete policy. So they would be accessible.

Q Archived where?

Q But, again, initially it was our understanding -- and the information we got from Scott was that the missing emails were ones that had been in the deleted box, so they'd emptied the deleted box. So there was some human intervention.

MS. PERINO: I understand that that would be within the realm of possibility, but, Scott, if you have anything to --

MR. STANZEL: That is a possibility. So there is -- the policy in place prior to '04, to the deletion policy being turned off, there is concern with that. Since '04 we have -- it's our understanding from the RNC that White House staff with those accounts have been exempted from that deletion policy, but there's also been the issue of double-delete. So that is another concern.

Q But what I'm saying is that the only mechanism for losing an email that you have ever described to us was this double deletion. Is there something else?

MR. STANZEL: No, no, no, no, no. No, that is not the only way that I've described this. I've described this as our assessment of the policy, going back to the beginning, is that it has not been robust enough, and that's the purpose of our review. So prior to 2004, those people were part of that automatic deletion policy.

Q Since 2004, is there any way that emails could have disappeared, other than by human deletion?

MR. STANZEL: Maybe computer failure, things like that. But that is one of the concerns.

MS. PERINO: It's part of the review, and, again, as much as we would like to be able to give you all of the answers today, we're not going to be able to do that, and I would just ask you to bear with us while Scott and I work very hard, and as much as possible working with the IT folks and others to get answers to all of your questions.

Q So, Dana, is it --

Q How long will this review -- how long will it take you to do? Is it knowable?

MS. PERINO: I wouldn't put a time frame on it, but I know that people are -- there's resources dedicated to solving it quickly.

Q And what does it take to violate the Presidential Records Act? I mean, if you conduct email -- if you conduct official business over email, and you delete it, why isn't that a violation?

MS. PERINO: Well, again, remember that there's, within the White House, 1,700 people who work there; one thousand are political appointees; 22 of these folks currently have GWB accounts. I'm not saying that all of them use them all of the time, that's not necessarily true. But there are those who have job descriptions which require them to do both White House official and political business, and the policy that had been stated -- that had been given to them before, in our opinion, was not clear enough because it basically said, you should do White House business on -- official business on your White House email account. Then there's extensive guidance on the Hatch Act and how to prevent violating the Hatch Act.

So one of the things that we've done, especially since technology has developed so quickly while we've been in office, is to adapt our policy, change our policy, make sure that it's much more clear, and make sure that people have a briefing on it and that they sign off that they have received that briefing.

Q So working to comply with Hatch Act, it's possible that someone unwittingly violated the Presidential Records Act.

MS. PERINO: I think what I would say to you is that we've seen no basis to conclude that anyone intentionally or improperly used the RNC email system.

Q Are you saying it's -- is it possible the White House will never know how many emails were lost and what subjects they covered?

MS. PERINO: It's something that -- we're trying to avoid that scenario. But is it within the realm of possibility that there might be -- that that might happen? It is within the realm of possibility, but we are working hard. One of the things I was asked yesterday was if we are working with outside forensics experts or inside forensics experts. I found out that we have begun conversations with outside forensics consultants who will presumably, hopefully, be able to gather whatever might have potentially been lost. And I think that's one of the problems here, is that we're talking about known unknowns, to bring back a favorite phrase.

Q So when you hear somebody like Senator Leahy get on the floor and say that all of this is a bunch of bull, how do you respond?

MS. PERINO: Well, I responded yesterday, and I would say the same thing, that I can tell you that I am here, and I know that our policy, when we announced it the other -- or this issue, and our new policy, that we announced the other night, Wednesday night, was done with the utmost honesty, integrity and desire to be forthcoming.

And I have to stand up here in front of all of you every day and explain how we -- there are a lot of things that we don't know. It's not a comfortable position, but it was one that we thought was the most important -- the most ethical way for us to let the committee know what we were working to find out, the things that we don't know and how we are working to find them out; and in addition to that, that we changed the policy because, as I said, we screwed up and we are working to fix it.

John.

Q Do you have any further information on the suggestion that some of the official -- the emails from the official WHO --

MS. PERINO: No, I'm looking into that. There was an assertion yesterday by one of the groups, outside groups, that outside of -- take apart -- we're not talking about GWB emails, but within the EOP system, that there had been a gap or that there had been upwards of 5 million emails that were missing. Scott and I are looking into that; we're talking to the Office of Administration.

Now, one of the things that occurred -- and we're also trying to figure out how many emails possibly could be sent by 1,700 employees on a daily basis. I don't know if the numbers are staggering. My inbox is staggering so -- we'll work to find that out. But there was a conversion sometime between 2002 and 2003 to convert people that were using Lotus Notes when we first arrived to Microsoft Outlook. And I know that the tech people worked to get us all transferred over. We had to save our Word documents and all to make sure that they weren't lost in that transition.

I don't have a specific number for you. Again, I wouldn't rule out that there were a potential 5 million emails lost, but we'll see if we can get to you. If it was 5 million, I think that, again, out of 1,700 people using email every day, again, there was no intent to have lost them.

And in addition to that, I think one of the things that we're talking about here, when you're asking about double-delete and what were the motivations, that is separate and apart from what we're talking about here, which is no one -- no person that was actually doing official government work or talking to any other outside groups or to the media would have known that their files would have -- that some of the emails would have been inadvertently lost in a transition of conversion of a technical sort.

Q Dana, can I follow up on that real quick. So this allegation about the 5 million missing emails refers only, as you understand it, to this 2002-2003 time period?

MS. PERINO: I don't know the time period. I'm saying 2002-2003 because that's when I worked at CEQ, and that's when I know that I got -- I moved from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Outlook. We'll get the dates for you. It was a rolling system in order to make sure that people weren't disrupted from their work.

Q As far as you know, is there any allegation of sort of a large data loss of that after 2004, or would it only go --

MS. PERINO: Not that I'm aware of.

Q On the RNC policies, I just want to reiterate this back to you. This is all very confusing for all of us, make sure that I'm understanding what you said. There were two different RNC policy changes. In 2004, automatic 30-day purge was rescinded for the 22 White House --

MS. PERINO: For people who had GWB accounts.

Q -- with GWB accounts.

MS. PERINO: Remember, the 22 people are ones who currently have them. And as I told you yesterday, from the beginning of the administration, a total of 50. So I can't tell you --

Q Right. Whichever number in 2004 had GWB accounts, that the 30-day automatic purge was rescinded for them. The impetus --

MS. PERINO: They were excluded from that policy, that's my understanding.

Q And the impetus for that change in policy was --

MS. PERINO: I don't know.

Q Okay, unknown. In 2006, alone among White House staffers with GWB accounts, Karl Rove's account is changed from -- so that he is not able to use the double-delete function. That double-delete function remained in for the other White House staffers with GWB accounts.

MS. PERINO: That I'm not sure of, but I will check into, to make sure I have that right. I know for sure for Karl, but I don't know about the others.

Q Do you know at what point in 2006 this subsequently changed?

MS. PERINO: January.

Q January 2006. And do we know what the impetus was for that change?

MS. PERINO: That's what I don't know.

Q You're going to work on getting the answers to those?

MS. PERINO: We're working on getting them. I'll do what I can. And, again, there is a review that's ongoing by our Counsel's Office. And there may be some things that I'm not going to be able to provide answers to while that process is ongoing. I will do my best.

Q Did he know that the double-delete didn't work for him in 2006?

MS. PERINO: I don't know and will try to find out.

Q Week ahead?

MS. PERINO: But, again, let me just remind you, we have no indications that there was improper intent when using these RNC emails.

Q But that just raises the question of why he was singled out for removal from the double-delete --

MS. PERINO: I think it's a fair question, and I'll take it back.

Mark.

Q Dana, if a staffer on the EOP system receives an email, is that archived, or only if the staffer sends an email?

MS. PERINO: Both.

Q Both.

MS. PERINO: Yes. So if you send me an email --

Q That's archived?

MS. PERINO: Yes. I hope Schumer doesn't get those. (Laughter.) I'm kidding. He has nothing to worry about. (Laughter.)

Q I hear another "screw up" statement coming. (Laughter.)

Q Sounds like an exemption.

Q The loss of emails, though, when you transitioned, you don't rule out that 5 million could be missing?

MS. PERINO: I'm not going to rule that out, no.

Q I mean, it sounds like you know that a lot of emails are missing.

MS. PERINO: I don't know how many are missing. What I'm telling you is, to avoid myself getting into another "22" versus "handful" conversation, I'm telling you I am not ruling it out.

Q When was this discovered? Are we able to find --

MS. PERINO: I don't know. I don't know.

Q In the last couple days or are we talking about --

MS. PERINO: We're talking to the Office of Administration and trying to find out.

Q At the time, or just now?

MS. PERINO: No, I think that it had been known before.

Q Would 5 million be a handful or -- (laughter.)

MS. PERINO: Really big hand. I'm going to go to Andre.

Q Thank you. Thank you, Dana. I wanted to ask you about Paul Wolfowitz. He's under a cloud. Do you still support him fully?

MS. PERINO: Yes, the President has confidence in Paul Wolfowitz and his work at the World Bank. At the organization, he has worked to lift people out of poverty around the world. He has focused his priorities on Africa, good governance, and how the World Bank can respond better and more efficiently to crises around the world.

He is talking with his board at the Bank. The board is performing a review, and I'll leave it at that.

Q And does that -- still a follow-up is, does that include instructions to your executive director at the Bank to do everything possible to prevent him from being removed?

MS. PERINO: I've not heard that. No, I mean, I think that is an independent organization and that review is being done by their board.

Q But the board -- the board includes directors from the national government, you have your own director there.

MS. PERINO: I'll check, Andre, but, no, I didn't hear that this morning.

Q And since it's the end of the week and I've been away for a few days, what's the latest on Tony?

MS. PERINO: Tony is doing really well. Really well. You guys will -- he's going to give a commencement address at Catholic on May 12th. So if that's any indication of how he's doing, it's really good.

Jim, last one, and then I'm going to do the week ahead.

Q Okay, this is a quick two-parter. Karl Rove, I'm told, has multiple email accounts during this whole time at the White House, and he's conducted business over multiple accounts, not just two.

MS. PERINO: It's our understanding that those all funnel into one place.

Q Okay. Number two, at different times during this administration foreign securities services have tried to penetrate the White House email system. Is the NSA or the FBI or somebody who monitors the White House email system to protect it from infiltration -- and wouldn't they have a record of --

MS. PERINO: I wouldn't comment at all on any of our security measures, especially when we're preventing foreign entities from trying to access it.

Q But they're --

MS. PERINO: I'm not going to comment on it, Jim.

Go ahead, Maura.

Q Is the White House policy on how to comply with various obligations under the Hatch Act and the government's record act, is that policy a public document that --

MS. PERINO: It hasn't been, it's been an internal White House document.

Q Could that be reviewed?

MS. PERINO: I'll take it under consideration.

Q Dana, any decision on releasing the list of 22 who have the RNC accounts?

MS. PERINO: I'm working on that one, too. Not so far.

Q How many email accounts did Karl have?

MS. PERINO: I don't know. (Laughter.) Can I do the week ahead, please? (Laughter.)

Q Is there a Hotmail? (Laughter.)

MS. PERINO: Okay. On Monday, the President will make remarks on the Iraq war supplemental in the Rose Garden at the White House, open press.

Q Time?

MS. PERINO: At 10:55 a.m.

Q Q and A?

MS. PERINO: Not expected.

At 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, the President will make remarks at a tax family reunion. Remember, that's the day you've got to get your taxes in.

April 18th, the President will visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He will make a statement on global war on terror.

Q Open?

MS. PERINO: It says we'll provide more details when we can, so that seems to me that we're trying to figure out how many people we can get in there.

On Thursday, he will travel to Ohio, then return to Washington -- so just a day trip. The topic will be the global war on terror.

Q Do you know where in Ohio?

MS. PERINO: No. We'll get that to you as soon as we can.

And then on Friday, a day trip to Michigan, returning to Washington, but again, same topic. And, Saturday, the President will make remarks at the ever anticipated White House Correspondents Dinner.

Q What's Wednesday? Is that the Holocaust?

Q Wednesday.

Q I'm missing Tuesday.

MS. PERINO: Did you miss a day?

Q Yes.

MS. PERINO: Tuesday? Tax family reunion.

Q Oh, that's Tuesday.

MS. PERINO: Okay. Can I go now? (Laughter.) Thank you.

END 10:18 A.M. EDT

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070413-1.html
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 16 2007, 07:17 PM


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Press Briefing by Dana Perino
White House Conference Center Briefing Room

Play Video Video (Windows)
RSS Feed Press Briefings

12:58 P.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Good afternoon. I have several announcements and then we'll go to questions.

The President was made aware of the Virginia Tech shootings. He was horrified and his immediate reaction was one of deep concern for the families of the victims, the victims, themselves, the students, the professors and all the people of Virginia who have dealt with this shocking incident. And his thoughts and prayers are with them; we are monitoring the situation. And while state and local authorities are in the lead right now -- I think that will remain the case, but federal assets are available should they be needed, if Virginia were to request them.

On Iraq, this is the 70th day since the President requested emergency funding for our troops. President Bush spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki via secure video this morning. That lasted about 50 minutes. The two leaders discussed ongoing efforts among Iraqi leaders to come to agreement on important matters of reconciliation and that determination of Iraqi legislators to continue their important work in the face of the al Qaeda-claimed bombing at the Iraqi parliament last week.

The President and Prime Minister also discussed the importance of garnering more regional support for political and security efforts in Iraq, and the opportunity that the upcoming regional conference in Sharm el-Sheikh presents, on May 3rd and 4th.

In Russia, we are deeply disturbed by the heavy-handed manner in which this weekend's demonstrations in Moscow and St. Petersburg were broken up by the authorities, and by an emerging pattern of use of excessive force by the authorities in reaction to similar events. We also find it intolerable that journalists were detained -- an unacceptable practice that hinders freedom of the press. We underscore that allowing peaceful expressions of protest is an essential element of democracy and a universally recognized human right.

In Nigeria, the United States takes seriously reports of voting irregularities and election-related violence during this past weekend's state and local elections. We would urge that officials address any problems in order to ensure that Saturday's presidential election, that those polls are free and fair and conducted in an atmosphere free of violence. These elections set the stage for an important milestone, as they will lead to the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in Nigeria's history at the end of May.

And the last announcement is that the President and Mrs. Bush extend warm wishes to Pope Benedict XVI on his 80th birthday. Pope Benedict is a great moral leader who offers a powerful message of love, faith and reason. Today we celebrate his life and we express our appreciation for his commitment to the cause of human dignity around the world.

Terry.

Q Any talk that President might go to Virginia to comfort the families?

MS. PERINO: I spoke to the President at 12:35 p.m., I was the first to alert him to the tragedy and I think that it's a little bit premature to talk about any other travel arrangements, or anything else. But if that changes, we'll let you know.

Q Might he speak on the topic?

MS. PERINO: If it changes, I'll let you know for sure. He had just been informed, as I said, about 25 minutes ago.

Q Has he communicated these concerns to President Putin, about the demonstrations?

MS. PERINO: I don't believe that they've spoken, no.

Q Will he do so, or might he do that?

MS. PERINO: Well, I know that the --

Q Or bring in the Russian Ambassador to talk about it, or anything like that?

MS. PERINO: I haven't heard of any such plans. Obviously, we've had a consistent position that we think that these types of disruptions at peaceful protests are unacceptable. And we welcome the call by some Russian officials for a thorough investigation of the activities. And we also call for the Russian government to reiterate its commitment and attention to respect fully the international standards of involving freedom of speech and the press and the assembly -- freedom to assemble. And I would refer you to the State Department to find out if any of the ambassadors have been in touch.

Jessica.

Q The Attorney General released a copy of the remarks he'll be making before Congress tomorrow. Has the President read these remarks, and is he satisfied that they're detailed enough about the pattern of decision making?

MS. PERINO: I don't know if the President has read the remarks, but he does believe that the Justice Department and the Attorney General, at his direction, have been fully responsive to Congress and that there will be a hearing tomorrow, and then the AG can continue to answer questions from the members.

Q So were they submitted to the White House, or reviewed by the White House before they were released?

MS. PERINO: I don't believe so. At least I did not see them, and that was one thing I said I would check on from the gaggle, and I didn't have an opportunity.

Just to let you know, the committee asked for the remarks -- or the testimony, 48 hours in advance, and I don't know if it was the Attorney General who first released them. But they asked for the remarks, and the Attorney General also had an op-ed in yesterday's paper, and I think that he's working very hard to make sure people have answers to the questions that they have.

Q Did the President read the op-ed?

MS. PERINO: I don't know.

April.

Q Dana, going back to Virginia Tech, what more does this White House think needs to be done as it relates to gun issues? The President says current laws need to be strengthened, anything beyond that -- you had a conference on school violence with guns -- what more needs to be done?

MS. PERINO: I would point you back to the fact that President, along with Secretary Spellings, hosted last October -- October 10, 2006 -- a conference on school gun violence after the Amish school shooting and the other shootings that had happened, because the tragedies are the ones that just collectively break America's heart and are ones that we deeply feel, because all of us can imagine what it would be like to have been at your own school, your own college, and to have something happen. And those of us who are parents, or brothers or sisters of people at the schools have to take that into consideration.

As far as policy, the President believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed. And certainly bringing a gun into a school dormitory and shooting -- I don't want to say numbers because I know that they're still trying to figure out many people were wounded and possibly killed, but obviously that would be against the law and something that someone should be held accountable for.

Q Columbine, Amish school shooting, now this, and a whole host of other gun issues brought into schools -- that's not including guns on the streets and in many urban areas and rural areas. Does there need to be some more restrictions? Does there need to be gun control in this country?

MS. PERINO: The President -- as I said, April, if there are changes to the President's policy we will let you know. But we've had a consistent policy of ensuring that the Justice Department is enforcing all of the gun laws that we have on the books and making sure that they're prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Q Lastly, in Texas, if I'm correct, he passed legislation, no age restriction on possession of weapons, if I'm correct. Should there be some kind of federal age limit, as far as the President is concerned, raising the age for gun possession in this country?

MS. PERINO: Unfortunately, I'm going to have to go back and look at what the record was in Texas. Maybe Ken Herman could tell us. We'll go to Ken next.

Q Dana, what is the outcome the President hopes to see at Wednesday's meeting on Iraq at the White House?

MS. PERINO: The President hopes to find out if the Democrats are going to be able to come together, resolve their differences, and stop being so unreasonable and come to him and say how they are going to pass a clean bill that can get to his desk that will fund the troops.

As you continue to hear from them, they are not consistent in their position, they refuse to take arbitrary timetables off of the table, and other restrictions against our generals. And the President has said that he hopes that they can come down here and talk about how they're going to get a clean bill to his desk, because they've also said that they're not going to let the troops go without funding. So there has to be a reasonable discussion on Wednesday, and the President hopes that that will be the beginning of that, on Wednesday afternoon.

Q Does he expect them to give up on timetables?

MS. PERINO: I'm going to let them have a conversation on Wednesday, and I'll update you from there.

Q I guess a logical follow up to that question is, what is the President perhaps willing to compromise if the timetables have to be taken off the table?

MS. PERINO: The President was very clear today in his remarks of what he is for and what he will accept. What he will not accept is an arbitrary timetable for withdrawal, a date for withdrawal that tells our enemies exactly when we're going to leave. He is not going to accept armchair quarterbacking from Capitol Hill on the generals who are in Baghdad and around Iraq trying to prosecute this war. And he is really disappointed that they had to include pork barrel spending in order to get this bill across the goal line.

So it is the President who has a very principled stand, one that is consistent. And the Democrats don't have any agreement on their side. So, hopefully, they can come to agreement on their side. And if they come on Wednesday and they don't, we'll have to see where we go from there.

Q Doesn't he have to give something, maybe? I realize you're not going to negotiate here, but --

MS. PERINO: No, I'm not going to negotiate from the podium. The President invited them to the meeting on Wednesday and he's looking forward to it, and we'll update you after that.

Peter.

Q Dana, a lot of the stories about the Gonzales appearance tomorrow framed it as "his job is on the line." Is it?

MS. PERINO: Look, I think there's a lot of hype about the hearing. This issue has been ongoing for I think over a couple of months now. The Justice Department has been fully responsive to the committee, and that's going to culminate tomorrow in a hearing. But I think that one day's hearing does not necessarily mean -- I've heard it described as "make or break," and I would submit to you that the Attorney General, as you've reported, has been as forthcoming as he possibly can be, has laid it all out on the table for them and tomorrow he looks forward to answering their questions.

Q Is this a job security issue?

MS. PERINO: No, I don't think so. The Attorney General has the full confidence of the President, and the President wanted the Justice Department to be fully responsive and they have been. The President also said he needed to go to Capitol Hill and continue to talk to those members. He's had many conversations with members of Congress by phone, while they were on their two-week recess, and tomorrow he'll have a chance to talk to them in person.

Q Well, does he, and he alone, have to dig himself out of this controversy?

MS. PERINO: Look, the Attorney General has taken full responsibility for it, and I think that the Attorney General looks forward to answering those questions tomorrow.

Q Dana, General Sheehan, one of the names that's come up as a potential war czar, says the administration does not have an "agreed-upon strategic view" for Iraq. Do you buy that?

MS. PERINO: Well, first of all, I would take issue with the idea that he was a potential war czar. As Steve Hadley has said and as we have said, that no list of candidates has been narrowed down and no names have been sent to the President for consideration.

What we are working on right now is implementation of a long, deliberative process of a policy that was created and announced by the President on January 10, 2007, and is being implemented right now by General David Petraeus. We are quite unified. And we are starting to see some small signs of success, despite the very real challenges and the violence that the enemy continues to perpetrate.

Suzanne.

Q Can you give us an update on the emails from the RNC side and the White House side? Last week we talked about the organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a figure of 5 million missing emails. You had mentioned in the gaggle you thought -- you would check with the Office of Administration and perhaps that wasn't correct.

MS. PERINO: Look, the left-wing group, CREW, came up with a number of 5 million. We don't know where they came up with that number. We've told you what we know, which is that we are aware that there could have been some emails that were not automatically archived because of a technical issue. And we have talked with the Office of Administration about that, and we're looking into those details. But given the complex nature of this issue, it might take us a little while to identify those. We do, however, know that most -- all of those emails should be available on backup tapes. And so we'll continue to look at it. This is separate from the RNC accounts, and as soon as we have more information, we'll provide it.

Q Are you confident they're on backup tapes, or you're still in that phase of investigating?

MS. PERINO: There should be, and we just want to make sure that there are all of them. And, remember, there's a huge amount of email that comes in and out of the White House. And it's quite a feat for the IT folks to be able to keep up with software upgrades and storage and the amount of -- just the amount of traffic that's coming in and out on emails. On any given year, I think I've read upwards of 50 million emails are sent and received, not to mention forwarded or copied or blind copied, or all of those different features that you can use with email. So it's a massive number.

Q And what was the agreement between the White House Counsel and members of Congress regarding an independent investigator, computer IT?

MS. PERINO: Sure, that was regarding a separate issue, which is on the small number of people that have access to RNC-hosted email accounts, based on the job description that they have in order for them to avoid violating the Hatch Act. And the agreement that we came to was -- was suggested by Senator Leahy and Senator Specter, I believe, in which they said, why don't we work together to see if there's an outside consultant, forensics consultant that can help us identify if there are any potentially lost emails. Fred Fielding and the rest of the White House thought that was a reasonable idea. And so Fred Fielding and the Senator spoke on Friday, and their staffs are going to meet today to talk about how to move that process forward.

Q Is there any sense of a timetable, when you might have some more details?

MS. PERINO: No.

Q Weeks or days?

MS. PERINO: I don't know. I'm not going to put a date on it.

Q Dana, can I come back to the Gonzales testimony again? One of the things Senator Schumer said is that there's a lot of "I don't knows," and "don't remembers" in it. You've heard the testimony. Do you think that the Attorney General has been specific enough in how he has answered some of the questions about the --

MS. PERINO: I think that the Attorney General has been perfectly honest. And I do have to -- I think all of us have to remember that this was an issue that took place over now almost two-and-a-half years. And so if there are certain things that somebody can't specifically remember, I wouldn't consider that necessarily to be without -- outside the realm of possibility, and I think the Attorney General has been very honest and he looks forward to that hearing tomorrow.

Q Does the President plan to speak to the Attorney General or offer him any guidance?

MS. PERINO: They spoke this morning.

Q And can you give us any sense of --

MS. PERINO: I don't have a readout of it, but they -- obviously they speak regularly, and this morning, when they spoke, they talked about his testimony.

Go ahead, Jim.

Q I was just wondering, because there was a while where they weren't speaking so regularly.

MS. PERINO: That's not the case. The Attorney General has been here for regular meetings with the President.

Q Wait a minute, we asked several times if they talked, and I know that a week had gone by or, say, eight days --

MS. PERINO: They don't speak every day, but I can assure you that I have seen him coming in and out of the Oval Office for the regular meetings that he has, especially for FBI --

Q And have they discussed this incident?

MS. PERINO: They have many other things to discuss, as well, but again, this morning when they spoke, they did talk about tomorrow's testimony.

Q And you have no readout for us at all about what was said?

MS. PERINO: No, I wasn't there. But I can tell you that they spoke, and obviously, as I've told you, the President has full confidence in the Attorney General, and there's a hearing tomorrow, and once we get that behind us, we'll see how we can get about the business of the people.

Q I was listening to Vice President Cheney yesterday on "Face the Nation," and he seemed --

MS. PERINO: Nice self-promotion. (Laughter.)

Q -- and it seemed to me that he was less than resolute in his backing of the Attorney General.

MS. PERINO: I think that is an over-interpretation. The Vice President said the Attorney General has the full confidence of the President, and he said that the Attorney General is going to have to go up to Capitol Hill tomorrow and speak with the senators and answer their questions. And that's exactly what I'm saying here today.

It's not -- this was an issue that the Attorney General managed out of his department; he's taken full responsibility for it. And so I think the Vice President was accurate in his statements yesterday.

Q Has the White House received a letter from some conservatives asking for Gonzales's resignation? Has the President seen that?

MS. PERINO: Not that I'm aware of.

Go ahead, Les.

Q Thank you, Dana. Two questions: Yesterday The New York Times quoted Houston Baker, an English professor at Duke who has now relocated to Vanderbilt, as condemning what he called "rapacious white athletes given license to rape, maraud, deploy hate speech, and feel proud of themselves --

MS. PERINO: What's your question, Les?

Q -- scummy bunch of white males living like farm animals." The question: Does the President believe that this man and 87 other Duke faculty who also maligned these three lacrosse players found not guilty should now apologize, or not?

MS. PERINO: As much as you have tried to drag me into this story, I'm going to continue to resist it, Les. What's your next question?

Q Okay. You, Dana, we're quoted --

MS. PERINO: Uh-oh.

Q -- in yesterday's New York Times, with your 61-word announcement, beginning with, "The President has full confidence in Paul Wolfowitz." But the large Times headline above your quote was "the mounting storm on Wolfowitz," which The Washington Post headlined as "furor." And my question: Do you or the President believe that Mr. Wolfowitz has been libeled by these newspapers publishing details of his personal life?

Q Let me just reiterate for you that the President does have full confidence in Paul Wolfowitz. He has done a very good job at the World Bank, where they are working to lift people up out of poverty around the world. He's focused on Africa and other areas around the world that need the World Bank's attention. And the President continues to have confidence in him.

Q You don't think that he has been libeled, then?

MS. PERINO: I'm not going to comment on that.

Q Does the President think he used good judgment in this incident, however?

MS. PERINO: Look, what he knows is that Paul Wolfowitz has apologized, and the board at the World Bank is undergoing a review and I think I'll have to leave it there.

Victoria.

Q Does the President not remember having a phone conversation with Senator Domenici about U.S. attorney Iglesias? Or is he clear that one did not take place?

MS. PERINO: I've never asked him that question. I do know that his vague recollection was that he had heard complaints. And then I'll refer you to his statement -- or his answer to a question that he got in Mexico, in which he was asked that question, and he said that he recalls being at a meeting on the Hill in which this issue was brought up -- a meeting of senators on the Hill in which it was brought up. But I've never heard anything about a phone call.

Q So he's never actually answered the question.

MS. PERINO: He answered the question. And I don't know anything about a phone call; I've never heard that -- except for questions from you all.

Q You mean the phone call --

MS. PERINO: I don't know that the President ever received a phone call. I don't have any record of that, or any recollection of it, and I've been dealing with this issue for many weeks.

Q When he was at the meeting on the Hill where it was brought up, it was Senator Domenici --

MS. PERINO: I don't think people remember, necessarily, who it was. And, remember, complaints about voter fraud cases were coming in from various different places.

Q Right. Just to be clear about this, then, Senator Domenici and the President, has there ever been a direct conversation between the two?

MS. PERINO: I don't know. I don't believe so, necessarily, about this particular issue, but remember, when -- the President sees members of Congress all of the time, and as I think I said last week, whenever a senator has the President's ear, whether the issue -- whether the topic of the meeting is the Iraq war supplemental, if they have a chance to talk about other issues, they will. And so I'm not going to rule it out, but I just can't say that Senator Domenici and the President ever had a one-on-one conversation about it.

Sarah.

Q Thank you. Dana, is the President running out of patience on North Korea, which appears to be stalling again? What does he plan to do if North Korea refuses to end its nuclear program?

MS. PERINO: The goal here is denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. As Chris Hill said yesterday, that the host of the six-party talks, the Chinese, have asked the Americans to have some patience. And so we think that that would be the prudent thing to do, and we believe that everyone will and should live up to its obligations from the February 13th agreement.

Q Follow up on Terry's question about the letter from conservatives. And whether you know any specifics on this letter or not, I'm just wondering, in general --

MS. PERINO: I've not seen one.

Q In general, though, when the President receives a letter like this from, in this case, conservatives who include longtime supporters of the President, expressing concern and criticism and calling for Gonzales to step down, does a letter like that get the President's attention more than other letters, given the fact that they are long-time supporters?

MS. PERINO: A lot of things come across the President's desk. Usually in a case like that, if the letter didn't make it directly to him to look at, then one of the senior staff members would have brought it to his attention, sure.

Q The phone call -- did he speak with Gonzales by phone or face-to-face?

MS. PERINO: By phone, by phone this morning.

Q Okay. Thank you.

END 1:19 P.M. EDT

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070416-1.html
Top
mynameis
Posted: Apr 18 2007, 05:50 PM


If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.


Group: Members
Posts: 4,823
Member No.: 856
Joined: 4-November 06



Press Briefing by Dana Perino
White House Conference Center Briefing Room

12:38 P.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: I have a few announcements, and then we'll get ready to answer your questions.

The President and Mrs. Bush were greatly moved at the ceremony yesterday in honor of the Virginia Tech students. They offered the prayers and support of a grieving nation. They spent a lot of time with many family members, family of the victims who had lost their lives. He also met with at least one person who had been shot, but had survived. And one of the things that the President and Mrs. Bush said to them is that they should know that the power of prayer is strong, that there are people all across the world that they will never meet who are praying for them and that they should take comfort in that.

One note that I wanted to highlight is something that Mrs. Bush said yesterday, and I think it's important -- possibly some of your children have said -- but we have heard reports that children are concerned about their own safety at their own schools after seeing some of this coverage. And Mrs. Bush asked everyone -- parents, teachers, friends of these children -- to make sure that they know that they're very loved and that there are many people working to ensure their safety at their school.

Q What happened behind the President yesterday?

MS. PERINO: I will answer some questions after a moment; I have a few announcements.

I do have a statement by the President on the Supreme Court decision upholding the partial birth abortion ban -- we will release this in a moment, but I will read it for you. This is from the President:

"I am pleased that the Supreme Court upheld a law that prohibits the abhorrent procedure of partial birth abortion. Today's decision affirms that the Constitution does not stand in the way of the people's representatives, enacting laws reflecting the compassion and humanity of America. The partial birth abortion ban, which an overwhelming bipartisan majority in Congress passed and I signed into law, represents a commitment to building a culture of life in America.

"The Supreme Court's decision is an affirmation of the progress we have made over the past six years in protecting human dignity and upholding the sanctity of life. We will continue to work for the day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law."

Later today, at 2:30 p.m. -- I hope you all got the note that we are going to open the President's meeting with the bicameral-bipartisan leadership on the Iraq war supplemental -- it will be pool at the top. The President looks forward to the congressional leadership coming to this meeting today. The troops desperately need the money.

We also look forward to Speaker Pelosi appointing conferees so that the committees -- I'm sorry -- so that the two Houses can get their differences worked out and send a bill to the President's desk. The President will veto a bill that handcuffs our generals, that includes arbitrary dates for withdrawal, or needless and wasteless [sic] spending. It's been 72 days since the President first sent up his request for this money, and the longer that Speaker Pelosi delays in appointing conferees, the worse it gets for our troops.

And finally, the United States Senate today voted to end consideration of legislation that would have had the government negotiate and set prices for prescription drugs available to America's seniors. The Senate made the right decision to do so. When the Congressional Budget Office weighed in this year and last year, they said that, at best, it would do no good. Our view is that it has the potential to do considerable harm, likely resulting in limiting access to necessary drugs for our seniors.

The Medicare prescription drug program is successfully delivering more drugs at cheaper prices than anyone predicted. And if a bill, such as the one that they were contemplating today were to make its way to the President's desk, he would veto it.

I also would encourage anyone who is interested in this story to look at Secretary Leavitt's open letter to America and America's seniors on this. It's got a lot of good points in it.

Terry.

Q What's the President's strategy for his meeting with congressional leaders today? Is he open to any talk of compromise, or is he just going to hear what they say and insist on a clean bill?

MS. PERINO: The President looks forward to having the members come down -- that's why he invited them. I think one of the things that he is looking forward to hearing is how the Democrats have decided to compromise amongst themselves first so that he knows what their position is. They have several different positions, and as you can imagine, that's really difficult to negotiate with anybody if you don't know where someone stands.

The President has laid out clear principles, and he will be able to give some remarks at the top of the meeting. And then, of course, as you know, I'm sure the members will make their way out to the stakeout afterwards.

Q I mean, there are differences. Both the Senate and the House have passed bills, though, and both of them have some form of a withdrawal deadline, timetable. And that's unacceptable --

MS. PERINO: And here's the point on that, which is that the President has said he will not accept a bill that has an artificial timetable -- time line, deadline for withdrawal, a forced retreat, a legislative failure for our troops. He's not going to do that for our troops, and he's not going to do it to the Iraqis, or for the region, and for the safety of the American public.

The Democrats have said that they will not vote to cut off funding for the troops. And yet, they can't come to an agreement amongst themselves as to how to get a clean bill to the President. So the President is saying, negotiate amongst yourselves first; if you need to send me a bill that I have to veto, I will do it, reluctantly. But that's going to be his position. And so it's the Democrats that need to negotiate amongst themselves first before coming and asking the President to change his positions.

Q But to pick up on that, once they have negotiated among themselves and have a unified position --

MS. PERINO: Well, let's see what that is.

Q -- then they can negotiate with the President?

MS. PERINO: You're asking me a hypothetical situation.

Q No, no, no, they will -- let's say that they have a coherent --

MS. PERINO: Well, that's hypothetical. It's speculative. I don't -- I would like to see if they would come forward and have a position before we talk about anything that would tie the generals' hands or have a deadline for withdrawal.

Q But the way you're stating this leads to --

MS. PERINO: Well, what I've said for many days is that I'm not going to negotiate anything from this podium. I'm going to let them have a meeting.

Q I'm just asking you to finish your thought.

MS. PERINO: I finished my thought.

Q With an incomplete thought, an incomplete sentence?

MS. PERINO: No, I thought it was complete.

All right, Kelly.

Q Earlier this week, the President made his concerns known, with military families surrounding him and members of the military and veterans. Earlier today, the Democratic leadership had some military family members with them as they gave an opposing view. Does the President think there's a point at which military families or veterans should not become the faces of this debate?

MS. PERINO: Well, he has said before that -- and I think it was on Monday, in which he said that this is a debate, we have healthy debate in America, we have a job to do in terms of getting the funds to the troops, but that he does not believe that the troops should be caught in the middle of the debate.

The families that the President met with and talked to on Monday are only a sampling of some of the ones that he hears from, in which they ask him to please not let their sons or daughters who have died over there in Iraq or in Afghanistan -- for their mission to go unfulfilled. They are reassured by the President that he is not going to let their death be in vain.

The Army and the rest of the Department of Defense have made it very clear that there are consequences to not getting this money now. And therefore, the President is going to hold the Democrats' feet to the fire and get them to come to a position. It's been 72 days; they didn't even appoint conferees. Time is wasting, and so he's going to ask them to get together and get a bill to his desk.

Q Some Democrats will surely say that the soldiers and relatives of troops with them today are only a sampling of those they hear from, and that they are telling them that we need to begin the process of pulling out of Iraq. I want to ask Kelly's question again -- is it unseemly that the troops should be props, if you will, in this debate?

MS. PERINO: Well, I can assure you that this President doesn't think of any soldier or sailor, or any man or woman that's in uniform as a prop. He is worried about their welfare. He wants to ensure that their mission -- that they have all that they need to complete their mission, and that they are properly trained, and that they have the amount of support that they need back here at home, plus there on the battlefield. And so I do think that it was appropriate for the President to talk with those families -- just as I'm sure that the Democrats feel that it's appropriate for them, as well.

No doubt that there is -- war is a highly charged, emotional debate, and there are many people who would like the American troops to come home immediately. The President wants them to come home when the mission is finished and when the conditions are right on the ground to make sure that the horrific violence, such as we see today happening in Baghdad, can subside.

Q I'd like to ask you a question about the speech the President gave today. What's the time frame to impose sanctions on Sudan?

MS. PERINO: Well, the President said, soon. And I don't have a number of days to attach to that, but he said it must be soon that President Bashir comply with the demands of the international community, or he will move forward with the steps that he said.

Q This isn't a new threat. Sanctions have been threatened before.

MS. PERINO: These would be additional.

Q Right, but how long? What does "soon" mean?

MS. PERINO: He said -- well, I don't have a date for you. And I think what he would like to see is -- we hope it doesn't have to come to us imposing any more sanctions or any other measures against the government. We want Bashir to follow through on what he has said he is going to do. He hasn't in the past, and the President is skeptical, but we're going to give it a chance to work out. But I can assure you that it won't be for very long before the President takes the next steps.

Q What's his level of awareness about the pressure and the impatience of human rights groups, like the ones that put full-page ads in major papers today?

MS. PERINO: The President hears from a lot of people, but I can tell you that he is deeply concerned, he is personally concerned; many of you have heard him express that privately and publicly. And he thinks about it a lot. I think that the pressure that the groups are putting on is known, but I think that it only is an additional factor, given the President's personal concern about it.

Q Dana, also on Sudan, when the President said that if President Bashir does not follow the steps that President Bush has laid out that the United States could take other measures, aside from the sanctions, was he referring to a military option on Sudan?

MS. PERINO: No, I don't believe so. I think that the President believes that this can be worked out diplomatically. However, what the President said is that, hopefully, Bashir will comply with the agreement that he just said he would comply with. There is skepticism amongst the administration as to whether or not he will actually do that, based on previous experience.

I'm not going to rule anything in or out; I have not heard that discussed in terms of military options. But I can assure you that the President is serious about possible new sanctions, both against companies and individuals. And in addition to that, he has directed Secretary Rice to work on a new U.N. Security Council resolution. And in the coming days Secretary Rice will confer with the other members and see what the next step is.

Q Can I get your reaction to something Admiral Fallon said today when he was before the House Armed Services Committee?

MS. PERINO: I haven't seen it.

Q He was talking about Iraq, and he said, "I believe that the things I see on a daily basis give me some cause for optimism. But I'll tell you that there is hardly a week that goes by, certainly a day that doesn't go by, without some major event that also causes us to lose ground." What's your reaction to that? You have a military man talking about events going --

MS. PERINO: I think that is consistent with what we have said, which is that there are extremely difficult and dangerous situation right now in Iraq, and especially in Baghdad. You see the bombings today. I don't have an official death count, but obviously it is entirely too high. Every life is precious. That includes all the innocent Iraqis, the men, women and children who are defenseless against a barbaric enemy. And as General Petraeus and others have said is that there are small signs of hope that the Baghdad security plan would be able to reduce the violence enough so that the Maliki government can get reconciliation in order to bring a more peaceful existence for the Iraqis.

But we have also said that it's going to be very challenging along the way. We've had higher death tolls amongst our soldiers and Marines, and I think that you can expect that that will continue, because the enemy knows how determined we are, and they are just as determined. And I think anybody who thinks that this enemy is tired, they are mistaken. This is a very determined enemy. They are watching what we are doing and what we are saying, and it's critically important that we finish the job in Iraq.

Q But it doesn't sound that hopeful, when you talk about a military man saying --

MS. PERINO: It's going to take -- it's going to take a long time before we can finish out this new Baghdad security plan, as General Petraeus has said. I think only about half of the additional troops that we wanted to send in have arrived. He said it's going to be several --

Q Why is it taking so long on that point?

MS. PERINO: I think it just takes a little while to get troops moved.

Q Do you have anything more on why it's taking so long?

MS. PERINO: No, I don't, you'll have to ask DOD.

Go ahead, Mark.

Q Sorry, Dana. At the outset, you said the troops desperately need the money. Are U.S. troops in Iraq desperate for lack of money?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that the Department of Defense has articulated the measures that they'd have to take because they don't have the money, and those have been well laid out by the Department of Defense. And they said that this is very difficult for the troops. It's difficult for the Department of Defense to move money around. And it's really unfortunate that the political debate is getting in the way of allowing the troops to have what they need. I think the political debate is going to happen, regardless, but as the President said, the troops shouldn't be caught in the middle.

Q Dana, back on Sudan.

MS. PERINO: Okay.

Q For decades, there's been fighting. Sanctions have already been placed against the Sudanese government. What more can new sanctions do, realistically, if they've already been in this spiraling conflict and sanctions and disapproval for years? What more will this do?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that we've shown that, as a diplomatic tool, economic sanctions can be very powerful. And it puts a lot of pressure on a government. And so it's just one of the many diplomatic tools that you can use in order to help effect a behavior change.

Q So what sanctions do you think will bring a change that you didn't have before? What new will make them allow AU troops or other troops to come in to bring peace? What new?

MS. PERINO: Well, as the President said, he would allow for targeting of 29 companies, and then some individuals. I'm not going to give you any detail on that. One, I don't have it, and it wouldn't be prudent for me to do so. While Bashir has this time that he's been given in order to comply, we want to make sure that that program stays intact.

Go ahead.

Q The White House said in other situations that military options are not necessarily off the table. You said you wanted to do a diplomatic approach, but is there a possibility that this administration could take military action, air strikes against Sudanese interests, possibly?

MS. PERINO: As you know, the President's position is that no Commander-in-Chief or head of state should take that option off of the table. But it's not anything that I hear being actively discussed.

Goyal.

Q Two quick questions. One, as far as the school shooting is concerned, my heart goes out and my condolence for the families.

MS. PERINO: Absolutely.

Q -- in fact, from Washington to New Delhi, because among the dead at least one Indian student and also a professor from India.

MS. PERINO: Yes, professor.

Q My question is that now there's a feel among the students not only here, but across the globe, including in India, those who want to come for the higher education here. What do you think the President will have a message for them now?

MS. PERINO: I know Sean McCormack got asked this question yesterday at the State Department, and I think it's one that not only people around the world are asking, but I'm sure that parents who are encouraging their children to go to college, and that they have it on their minds, too. Again, I would just try to assure that there people who are working very hard to make sure that places are safe. Unfortunately, there are individuals who, if they are determined to perpetuate violence and to kill people, that they have ways of doing that. And as the facts unfold in this case, we're just learning a lot more about this individual's background and behavior.

What was your second one, quickly?

Q Second one, as far as the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement is concerned, it still is not finalized by the U.S. Congress because there are some questions by the Indian government, which is not recognizing or not agreeing to some of the conditions set by the agreement. My question is -- and also last week, India tested a missile. You think testing a missile last week, and also two Indians were arrested two weeks ago --

MS. PERINO: I don't know of any of that being related. I do know that we're working very hard with the Indian government to get the deal completed.

Q Do you think anything on the way as far as this deal is concerned, all these issues are concerned?

MS. PERINO: I don't think there's any connection.

Go ahead, Olivier.

Q Dana, two on Sudan. The first is -- I don't have the wording exactly in front of me, but the President talked about supporting or exploring ways to deny the Sudanese government the ability to use war planes in Darfur. Was that a reference to an international no-fly zone?

MS. PERINO: I'm going to let the details of that work itself out. Hopefully it won't even come to that, but when there's more to announce, we would announce it. But again, I would stress that hopefully Bashir will follow through on his commitments.

Q Okay. And Tony Blair now says the first discussions on this new resolution will be tomorrow at the U.N. But Russian and Chinese diplomats are already saying it's a non-starter. Was there any effort out of the White House to reach out to either Moscow or Beijing to get some sense of where they were, or to canvas their support before coming out today and saying --

MS. PERINO: I'll check into it. I'm sure that the State Department was in contact with their officials.

Ann.

Q The critics of the Supreme Court decision today say that this is a case in which the new formation of the Court is taking away Americans' liberties, some of their rights. What does the President say to critics who don't like the change in what they see as --

MS. PERINO: Did they say that last week when the Supreme Court rules on the greenhouse gases issue? They didn't. So I think that the Supreme Court -- they decide and we all follow. And I think that that's what people will have to recognize.

Q Does the President think this is a trend, since this is the first such decision since Roe v. Wade?

MS. PERINO: I haven't heard that from him, no.

Q In his speech on Monday, the President said, "Families gathered here understand that our troops want to finish the job." What evidence does he actually have for that? Because there doesn't seem to be any polling data whatsoever to support the idea that the troops do want to stay and finish the job rather than go home.

MS. PERINO: Victoria, I think that there are many troops and there are many families, and the President hears it personally from them, asking to make sure that the President stays strong and completes the mission.

Q The only polling data there seems to be is an Army Times poll that came out last December, which seems to show, really, that the doubts are whether the troops actually feel that they could finish the job and whether they wanted to finish it.

MS. PERINO: I'm not familiar with that poll. I do know that the President feels confident that when he describes what he hears from the troops, that he's being as forthcoming as he can with the American people. And you just have to -- I think that a lot of it could be anecdotal, but I'm not a polling expert and we don't, as you know, make decisions based on polls.

Q So this isn't based on any empirical data; this is based on people he's spoken with?

MS. PERINO: I think people he's spoken with, generals he hears from that are over there on the ground, people that he talks to. I mean, he talks to many outside experts. Yes, I think that he feels very comfortable that the troops, families of the troops believe that this mission should be completed.

Q I was wondering why you think that the House Democrats have not moved forward with conferees? Do you think they just can't reach an agreement or --

MS. PERINO: I don't know. You'll have to ask the Speaker's office. It's unfathomable. It's nothing I can explain for them -- I wish I could.

Q Thank you, Dana. Two questions. How does the President believe it will help -- how long does the President believe it will be before the lack of a funding plan for the military in Iraq starts costing lives?

MS. PERINO: I'm sorry, how long does he think it will be?

Q -- believe it will be before the lack of a funding plan for the military in Iraq starts costing lives.

MS. PERINO: Costing lives --

Q Of our servicemen.

MS. PERINO: Let me just say that the Department of Defense has said that this is creating hardships for the military to do its job. They need the resources now.

Q What does the President think of the gun control rule which prohibited guns on the campus of Virginia Tech?

MS. PERINO: I haven't spoken to him about that specifically. I do know as governor he supported weapons-free school zones.

Q He supported?

MS. PERINO: When he was governor of Texas, yes.

Q And he thinks that this was effective at Virginia Tech?

MS. PERINO: I'm not going to comment about -- obviously, the investigation is ongoing at Virginia Tech.

April.

Q Dana, what happened yesterday when President Bush was helping the person directly behind him?

MS. PERINO: That individual was a father who lost his only daughter, and he was overcome with grief. He shared with the President later that he hadn't eaten or had anything to drink for many hours, and it was quite warm in the gym. He fainted briefly. And then the President did see him afterwards, when he met with the families in the gym, and they shared good fellowship and lots of hugs and had a nice time talking to one another.

Q As everyone is looking back at what could have happened, what should have happened, is the President somewhat taking a look to say maybe this could have been prevented, or maybe this child should not have had -- this young man should not have had a gun, because of certain laws?

MS. PERINO: I think what the President thinks is that, in this time of mourning and grieving and thinking about the aftermath of one individual's actions, that it's only natural that you think about what led to such a tragedy and how to prevent one in the future.

Q Are you thinking -- is he thinking about changing or stepping up gun control issues?

MS. PERINO: As I said yesterday, I think that there's going to be a debate. The President said there's going to be a debate, and it's one that we have in our country about the right to bear arms, as well as gun control policies. In addition to that, I think one of the things that we're learning out of this investigation, as we have from many of the others, is that there are some individuals who are disaffected in society, lonely, and we have to figure out as a society how to identify those individuals and get them help prior to them having -- going on a rampage and killing all this innocent life.

Q When General Pace talked about some evidence that Iran may be supplying weapons in Afghanistan, in addition to Iraq, does the President think this is a spread of Iranian influence, or something that they've just been able to identify now?

MS. PERINO: I have not spoken to the President about it. What I would be able to say is that Iran obviously is trying to spread its elbows out and have more influence in the region, and not anything good. They are a state sponsor of terror, and the more they sponsor terrorism, the more innocent life is ruined. And this is -- and these are people that are -- the people that are in Afghanistan and Iraq and other places that are dealing with the aftermath of the Iranians providing such weapons are people who are dying -- they are innocent people who are dying. It is tragic, and the pressure that we need to put on Iran is very real.

Q Thank you.

MS. PERINO: Thanks.

END 1:04 P.M. EDT

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070418-3.html
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 19 2007, 10:11 PM


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Press Gaggle by Dana Perino
Aboard Air Force One
En route Tipp City, Ohio


RSS Feed Press Briefings

12:03 P.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: A quick update. The President had a phone call this morning with President Karzai. They spoke this morning at 7:50 a.m., from the Oval Office. The President reaffirmed the joint partnership and strong relationship shared between the two countries. They discussed ongoing security operations against extremist elements, as well as progress on implementation of the comprehensive approach, security, governance, and economic development and reconstruction. They also talked about ongoing counter-narcotics efforts.

Both Presidents look forward to continuing to work together to build a prosperous and free Afghanistan, and fighting extremism in the global war on terror.

He had his normal briefings this morning, after his phone call with President Karzai. We are on our way to Tipp City, Ohio, and on board is Congressman John Boehner. This is his district.

At 1:00 p.m., the President makes remarks on the global war on terror. He will take questions from the audience. And then we arrive back at the White House at 4:00 p.m. -- 4:10 p.m.

And there is a quick note that this is National Volunteer Week. As you know, President Bush has been very encouraging of all Americans to answer the call to service, to love their neighbor by giving their time, talents, and energy to comfort those in need. During National Volunteer Week, USA Freedom Corps has mobilized the Cabinet, and last week we put out a compilation of their volunteer service activities that you can check out on that week-ahead document. And also, of course, any American that's interested in volunteering can check out opportunities at a website, Volunteer.gov.

With that, I'll take your questions.

Q Dana, does Attorney General Gonzales's testimony on Capitol Hill have any bearing whatsoever on his job status?

MS. PERINO: As I've said many times, the President has full confidence in the Attorney General. The Attorney General looked forward to the hearing that is taking place right now. Of course, the President has not seen any of that testimony. As I told you, he's had a busy morning, and now we're on our way to Tipp City, Ohio. And I haven't seen any of the testimony, either. But clearly, we would hope that there were no preconceived notions, or canned talking points that the senators had in mind before they had this hearing. They said they wanted to get to the facts, and I'm sure that the Attorney General will be fully responsive to their request.

Q So is it fair to say that no matter what the testimony, no matter what the back-and-forth, that the President plans to stick with Attorney General Gonzales?

MS. PERINO: I think -- yes. I think the President has full confidence in the Attorney General and whenever that changes for any public servant, we'll let you know, and I see no indication of that.

Q Are you concerned that pressure is building on Paul Wolfowitz? There was a report yesterday that his deputy suggested in a private meeting that he step down.

MS. PERINO: As we've said before, the President has confidence in Paul Wolfowitz, Mr. Wolfowitz had apologized, and that the review board -- the board was undergoing a review, and that that was appropriate to let them finish that, because they're an independent agency -- let that process take place.

Q Does the President think that what he did was appropriate?

MS. PERINO: What the President has said is that Paul Wolfowitz apologized, and to let the board do its work.

Q Okay, so the White House will respect whatever decision the executive board decides, whether that's --

MS. PERINO: I've not heard it characterized any other way.

Q I'm just -- if the executive board decides to keep him, or release him, or suggest that he leave, will the President respect that decision either way?

MS. PERINO: Well, frankly, I don't know how that board -- I don't know how that works in terms of the structure. It's an independent agency, but let me look into how that works. I don't know if the board recognizes something --

Q Okay. Like a vote of no confidence, or something?

MS. PERINO: I don't know, I'll have to look. Tony Fratto can help in the meantime, if you guys can't catch me this afternoon.

Q Anymore on the event today, the questions that people are asking? Are these prescreened questions? Are they just going to be picked at random?

MS. PERINO: No -- in fact, the Chamber of Commerce distributed the tickets, except for a handful that went to Congressman Boehner's office. And we didn't announce until today that the President would be taking questions, so there was no prescreening of anyone who is attending the event.

Q Dana, is the President at all concerned about reports concerning Doolittle and his fundraising? Specifically, the President spoke on his behalf at a fundraiser in October, and Mr. Doolittle's wife apparently received tens of thousands of dollars as commission. Is there any concern from the White House or the President?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think what you're referring to are the reports about FBI action, and given that it is FBI action and that is within the Department of Justice and a Justice Department matter, I would decline to comment on it from here.

Q But the President was personally there at the fundraiser, so does he have any personal concern that perhaps this wasn't handled in an above-board fashion?

MS. PERINO: I can ask; I haven't heard that.

Q Dana, has the President been briefed, or seen at all the disturbing footage of the Virginia Tech shooter, the video and the photos?

MS. PERINO: That is a good question. He didn't say and I didn't ask him on the short flight that we had from the White House to Andrews Air Force Base. And so let me take it back. I would doubt it. I know, obviously, he looks at the papers in the morning, but I don't know if had the television on, or not.

Q Is there -- perhaps not yet, but do you have any reaction? I take it you've seen the footage -- any reaction you can offer on behalf of the White House?

MS. PERINO: Again, I think that it's important for the investigation to be completed by the Virginia Tech Campus Police and the various state and local authorities that are looking into this. What it does tell us is that there was, unfortunately, a very disturbed and deranged individual who was a loner on campus and who needed help for his own mental health, and that did not happen in time to prevent a tragedy. And so I think that's one of the things that, as a society, we're going to have to continue to think about, as to how do you recognize the signs of somebody who is so disturbed that they would take 32 innocent lives, and then their own? It's just something that we're really going to all have to struggle with.

I'm sure that the families are having a very difficult time in the days following this event on Monday. And the President holds them in his thoughts and prayers -- and Mrs. Bush, too. They were very honored to be there on Tuesday, and it deeply affected them.

Q Can I just follow up on one thing? I think I had you saying the President has full confidence in Attorney General Gonzales, and then the President has confidence in Paul Wolfowitz. Is there a distinction there?

MS. PERINO: No.

Q Dana, some housekeeping -- who did the President visit downstairs before boarding?

MR. DECKARD: I'll get you the names.

Q Thank you.

END 12:12 P.M. EDT

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070419-1.html
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 20 2007, 09:25 PM


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Press Gaggle by Dana Perino
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Grand Rapids, Michigan


RSS Feed Press Briefings

PRESS GAGGLE

BY DANA PERINO

Aboard Air Force One

En Route Grand Rapids, Michigan

11:56 A.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: I have a few things to announce, and I also have the week ahead, which is kind of lengthy, so we'll do that at the end, okay?

This morning -- the President taped his radio address this morning. This topic is the tragic shootings that occurred at Virginia Tech this week. I think you'll notice that today the President has been also swept up by the school spirit and support for Virginia Tech, as you may know. The school encourages everyone to wear their school colors today, and he has a maroon and orange tie on. And he -- that was just a small way to continue to show his support. But the other thing I wanted to let you know about the radio address is that we will be releasing that unembargoed early this afternoon for your use.

The President asked -- there's a little bit of news in this speech, and then he has asked his top officials at the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Justice Departments to provide whatever assistance we can to schools, including higher education schools, to participate in a review of the broader questions raised by this tragedy. He has directed them to travel to communities across the nation to meet with educators, mental health experts, and then the state and local officials who have responsibility for these policies. And he's asked that Secretary Leavitt compile what they learn and summarize it for him, with some recommendations about how we can help avoid such tragedies. So that will be coming out, maybe by the time we land.

Q How much -- can I just -- how long is that review supposed to take place?

MS. PERINO: Not long. This is a new tasking by the President. And so a lot of the details are still being worked out. Secretary Leavitt said he plans to get started quickly. He's going to bring in a wide array of experts, which could include the folks that I mentioned, the mental health professionals, educators, state and local officials, other Cabinet members, including governors. But given that this has just been assigned, let's give them a little bit of time to figure out how they want to do that.

Q Did you say higher ed only, or --

MS. PERINO: Well, no, I don't -- no, it's not higher ed only. I think that one of the things that we have to look -- consider, when we think about the broader questions raised by the tragedy, are the mental health issues, and also how can people recognize disturbing behavior and when is intervention appropriate and allowed. And so it will be for everyone.

I would point out to you that in October of last year, when we did the school safety conference, one of the things that we said we would provide was the list of best practices for schools. That was a K-12 focus. And so among the other things that are going to be determined is that -- how can we expand that to college campuses? And in addition to that, I would mention to you -- although I don't have a date for you -- it was already in the works that the Justice Department -- that the Justice Department was going to have a campus safety conference this summer. That was already in the works prior to the tragedy, but of course, it takes on additional importance.

So there's -- any more questions on that?

Q HHS is heading that up?

MS. PERINO: Yes. Along with colleagues -- with Secretary Spellings and the Attorney General.

Q I thought you said DOJ.

MS. PERINO: Secretary Spellings, Leavitt, and the Attorney General, those three.

He had his normal briefings at 8:00 a.m. At 10:30 a.m., he signed the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Reauthorization Act. Today on board with us, on our way to Michigan, we have Congressman Vernon Ehlers and Congressman Pete Hoekstra --

Q The first one was --

MS. PERINO: Vernon Ehlers. We're going to his district.

Q I'm sorry, can I just see this spelling? What was the spelling again?

MS. PERINO: E-h-l-e-r-s.

Okay, back on track. At 1:00 p.m. he's going to give remarks on the global war on terror. About 500 guests, members of the Western Michigan World Affairs Council and their guests. Dixie Anderson is the Executive Director of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan, and will introduce the President. And then we arrive back at the White House at 4:00 p.m.

Let me take your questions, and then we'll do the week ahead.

Q Is he doing any interviews on potential new candidates for the AG --

MS. PERINO: Not that I'm aware of, no. One of the things that the President did upon returning from his trip yesterday was spoke to the Attorney General, following his hours of testimony. The President was pleased that the hearing had finally been held; that the Attorney General was fully responsive to the Congress, answered hours worth of questions after providing thousands of pages of documents, and again proving that there was no credible allegation of wrongdoing. The Attorney General did apologize for the way it was handled, said it could have been handled better, and the President agrees with that. But the Attorney General continues to have the President's full confidence.

Q Was the President disappointed in the testimony?

MS. PERINO: Is the President? No.

Q But what about the fact that even Republicans now are coming out and calling for the Attorney General to resign?

MS. PERINO: There is no doubt that there were many members from both sides of the aisle who had expressed frustration over the confusing remarks from the initial responses on this matter. And that frustration had built up over many weeks. The President believes that the Attorney General answered all of their questions honestly and forthrightly. I can understand there are some people who still don't want to support the Attorney General; that is their right. But he has done a fantastic job at the Department of Justice. He is our number one crime fighter. He has done so much to help keep this country safe from terrorists. He has worked determinately to prevent predators from attacking our children. He has worked -- they have a fantastic record of fighting corruption in government and in keeping gang violence off our streets.

And I could go on and on, but I think that following the hearing and following the tension that was in the room, I think on this new day I think -- hopefully people will be able to take a step back, realize that there was no credible evidence of wrongdoing, that the Attorney General has apologized for how it was handled, and that he has a job to do, and he's been doing it very well. And the President has full confidence in him.

Q Dana, has the President spoken with Paul Wolfowitz over the last couple weeks?

MS. PERINO: No, not that I'm aware of, and there's no change -- the President still has confidence in him. And there is a review that's ongoing by the board, and we're leaving it with them to go ahead and complete that.

Q Is there any plans for the President to personally call Mr. Wolfowitz and express his support to him directly?

MS. PERINO: I've said it publicly for days, and I'll let -- if there's an update on the President's call schedule --

Q Does the President ever get tired of having to express his full confidence in the people around him these days?

MS. PERINO: When you're President of the United States and you have this many folks that you are employing, it's a pretty small number that he's had to express full confidence in. All of us who serve at the pleasure of the President, if the moment he doesn't have full confidence in you, you no longer work for him. And we all take that very seriously.

Q Dana, at some point, though, whether or not the Attorney General has done anything wrong, there comes a question as to whether he's being effective any more in that job, particularly when Arlen Specter, the chairman of that committee, says there is a credibility gap.

MS. PERINO: Well, I could go through the list again of all the things -- the great things that the Attorney General has been able to do at the Department. I won't, I'll just refer you back to the transcript when you get it.

Q That isn't what I'm asking.

MS. PERINO: I hear your point, but I can tell you that this President believes that the Attorney General's effectiveness is something that he has been very proud of, and that he believes will continue with the Attorney General at the helm of the Justice dept.

Q Does the White House view this matter as closed?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that there's no doubt there's probably going to be follow-up questions; there usually are. And the request by the President for the Department of Justice to be fully responsive stands. And as you know, we're in communication with the Hill, in terms of their requests for us, as well. I think that the hearing is over, and we'll just see where it goes from here. A lot of this isn't in our control.

Q So the President said in Mexico that he had work to do in Congress, and went up there, and we were waiting for him to go there, so do you think he did what was necessary?

MS. PERINO: I've said repeatedly, since yesterday, that the President was very pleased with how the testimony went yesterday; that the Attorney General was responsive, and he did what the President asked him to do, and that the Attorney General fulfilled his responsibility to the Congress by answering hours worth of testimony and providing all of the documents.

Q Is the President going to mention it today at all?

MS. PERINO: No. The President is going to be giving a speech about Iraq, which is something you guys might want to focus on -- with a nation that is at war. This speech is going to be more formal -- more formal, in terms of his remarks, than yesterday's, where that was a little bit more off-the-cuff. He will also be using some visuals today, some maps, that help describe what our force posture was prior to the Baghdad Security Plan implementation, and the current force structure, as well as -- so he'll talk about Baghdad, and he'll also talk about al-Anbar province, as well as areas outside of those, in terms of what we are doing to help put the Iraqis in control, quell the violence in Baghdad, and allow for those political and diplomatic and economic reforms to take place, and then so that we can eventually get to the place where the American troops can come home. The President will talk about the consequences of withdrawing too fast, when the conditions are not ripe on the ground.

Q Do you think he'll go any further than he did yesterday on the consequences of withdrawing?

MS. PERINO: I think that there are -- it's well articulated in the speech. The week ahead?

Q Yes.

MS. PERINO: Okay. So, Saturday night, the President makes remarks at the White House Correspondents Association dinner -- see you there.

On Monday, April 23rd, at 10:15 a.m., the President will meet with the President of Peru. That will be in the Oval; pool at the bottom. At 1:15 p.m., the President participates in a meeting on Medicare Part D in the Roosevelt Room; pool at the bottom. And then the President at 3:15 p.m. will participate in a photo opportunity and makes remarks to the Indianapolis Colts. I think they won a championship.

Q The Indianapolis --

MS. PERINO: Indianapolis Colts -- had to remember what sport that was, but I just remembered. Okay, Tuesday, April 24th, at 1:00 p.m., the President visits Harlem Village Academy Charter School; that's in New York, pool coverage. At 1:25 p.m., the President will make remarks on No Child Left Behind reauthorization -- same location; that will be open to you. At 6:05 p.m., he will attend an RNC dinner; private residence and closed press.

On Wednesday, April 25th, the President and Mrs. Bush make remarks on Malaria Awareness Day in the Rose Garden, weather permitting.

On Thursday, April 26th, at 10:15 a.m., the President and Mrs. Bush make remarks to the 2007 National and State Teachers of the Year. Will we let you know the location of that as we get closer to the day. That evening, at 6:45 p.m., the President and Mrs. Bush welcome the Prime Minister of Japan and Mrs. Abe to the White House. That will be on the North Portico of the White House, and open press. On Friday, April 27th, the President welcomes the Prime Minister of Japan to Camp David; pool coverage. At 11:10 a.m., the President participates in a joint press availability with the Prime Minister of Japan, also at Camp David.

On Saturday, April 28th, the President delivers the commencement address at Miami Dade College in Miami, Florida; back in D.C. that night.

And then one thing to put on your radar screen, a couple weeks down the road, is that the President is going to visit Jamestown to participate in a celebration of America's 400th anniversary on Saturday, May 13th. And we'll provide more details about his -- what that means, in terms of participation, as we get closer.

Q Will he be with the Queen there?

MS. PERINO: No, the Queen is coming the 6th and the 7th. I don't know if the Queen is going to be there on the 13th.

Q Where does Thursday start? Does it start with the teachers, or does it start --

MS. PERINO: Thursday -- Thursday, what?

Q Thursday starts Teacher of the Year?

MS. PERINO: Yes.

Q Thanks.

Q Is that maybe not at the White House?

MS. PERINO: No, it is. It's just --

Q -- where?

MS. PERINO: It will be at the White House, but sort of depends on the weather and how many people we have.

Q Abe is Friday, or does that start Thursday?

MS. PERINO: Thursday night for the -- for when they arrive, and then dinner, and then -- they'll have a social dinner Thursday night, and then Friday is the meeting and the lunch and the press availability.

END 12:09 P.M. EDT

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070420-3.html
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 23 2007, 09:25 PM


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Press Briefing by Dana Perino
White House Conference Center Briefing Room

1:28 P.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Hello. I'm going to start off today with a statement by the President that will be released after I provide it to you here, about the death of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

"Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. President Yeltsin was an historic figure who served his country during a time of momentous change. He played a key role as the Soviet Union dissolved, helped lay the foundation of freedom in Russia, and became the first democratically elected leader in that country's history. I appreciate the efforts that President Yeltsin made to build a strong relationship between Russia and the United States. We offer our sincerest condolences to the Yeltsin family and to the Russian people."

With that, I'll take your questions.

Q Does the White House think that Congress should have any role in talking about the Iraq war, setting deadlines or anything like this -- that they should have any voice?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think the Congress does have a voice and does have input. And the President has said from the beginning that if they have ideas and they have concerns, that he wants to hear them.

One thing that concerned me today is I heard that Senator Reid said that the President is in denial about the war. And I think that any quick glance in the mirror would show him that he's in denial on several things -- that Senator Reid is.

First of all, he's in denial about the enemy that we face. This is a vicious and brutal enemy that wants to kill innocent men, women and children of Iraq, people who enjoy and love freedom, and that includes Americans. So it's not in our long-term national security interests in order to not deal with this enemy now.

Secondly, he's in denial about the conflict that we are in, how al Qaeda is inciting sectarian violence. He is in denial about the new Baghdad security plan and the new changes that we've implemented in al Anbar province. He's also in denial that a surrender date he thinks is a good idea. It is not a good idea. It is defeat. It is a death sentence for the millions of Iraqis who voted for a constitution, who voted for a government, who voted for a free and democratic society.

We all want the Iraqis to move faster, to do more and to do it faster, in terms of their political reconciliations. But they're just not ready to do it yet. And Americans are not the type that walk away in times of hardship. To leave people in Iraq flailing and defenseless against an enemy who is determined to kill them. And withdrawal is like crying "uncle," it's giving up. And I can assure you they are diluting themselves if they think that offering a surrender date is in the long-term strategic interests of this country. It is not.

And that is why the President has asked them to reconcile their differences and to send him a bill. The role that Congress plays is one in which to send legislation to the President. He has been very clear from the beginning: He will not sign a bill that includes a surrender date or micromanages the generals in this war. He said that again this morning. The Democrats in Congress obviously don't have the votes to override the President's veto, and so it is incumbent upon them to work things out, to reconcile the House and the Senate bills, and to send the President a bill. Now if it's one that he can sign, that was what we would prefer. But if it's one that he has to veto, he will do that.

Q Dana, on March 14th, when the President first talked about Alberto Gonzales, he said, mistakes were made and he will send the Attorney General to Capitol Hill to correct those mistakes. Does the President feel like that's what the Attorney General did last week?

MS. PERINO: You heard from the President this morning, and he said that the Attorney General went to Congress after providing thousands of pages of documents, and talking to them individually, but went to Congress and answered hours of testimony, and he answered as honestly as he could. And so, yes, the President thinks he did the work that he needed to do.

Q But here's what I don't understand about that, because I thought what the President's point was, Alberto Gonzales had to be able to sort of make it right with Congress; to regain the faith and the trust on the Hill. And if you take a look at Republican senators -- so it's not politics as usual -- Republican senators, he didn't do that.

MS. PERINO: I think there is no doubt that there are some people who don't support the Attorney General. But you heard the President today; he does. And I think what the President was talking about on March 14th, and any other time that he said that the Attorney General would go to Capitol Hill, is that he would answer the questions honestly and answer to the best of his ability in terms of what he could recall.

Q He did answer to the best of his ability, I suppose, but that wasn't good enough not just for one or two Republicans -- with the exception of maybe one, one-and-a-half, just about every Republican on the Judiciary Committee. So the question becomes, is the President looking out of touch with his stance of unwavering support behind the Attorney General?

MS. PERINO: We have strong, good relationships with our allies on Capitol Hill. And when you have relationships like that, you can have the opportunity to respectfully disagree with them. And I think that what the Attorney General did is answer to the best of his ability -- and, frankly, just to walk through this one more time, we're talking about eight U.S. attorneys who serve at the pleasure of the President; the Department of Justice has the capability and the ability, under law, to be able to replace those U.S. attorneys. And there's been no credible evidence that there was anything that was done improperly or any sense of wrongdoing.

And so when the Attorney General went up and answered hours' worth of questions from the Congress, he did what he could in order to answer honestly and to the best of his ability. And that's what the President asked him to do.

Q One more follow on this. I understand that point you're making about what was proper and improper, but the fact of the matter is, that after the testimony you could call all over this town -- I'm not just talking about the Jon Stewart's of the world, the late night comics -- I'm talking about Republican senators and congressmen and women who were saying, you know what, the Attorney General has no credibility, he did a lousy job on Capitol Hill yesterday. And now the President seems to be the only one saying, you know what, he's doing a fantastic job.

MS. PERINO: Look, I understand that there are people who disagree, who are not supportive of the Attorney General. The President is. He appreciates the work that he's done to combat terrorism and to protect children from predators and to stamp out corruption in government. And the President stands by him.

Q Dana, to follow on that, you just used a phrase that the President did today, "he answered as honestly as he could." Isn't honesty sort of black and white?

MS. PERINO: I think what I mean by that is that I know that there was frustration because there were several types of questions that the Attorney General could not answer with a "yes" or a "no" because he didn't recall. And I think that's what the President meant, and that's what I mean now.

Q There were about 64 variations, according to some accounts in the media, 64 variations of "I don't recall," "I don't remember. So what about that testimony in which he said "I don't recall," some variation, 64 times, that made the President say he now has increased confidence in the Attorney General?

MS. PERINO: Look, Ed, I think that you had testimony that lasted I don't know how many hours, over seven hours, and so many of those questions were repeated over and over. And the Attorney General, who is an honorable and honest man answered truthfully. And I think that's all that we can ask of any public servant or any of us in this room.

Q But did the President actually see the testimony?

MS. PERINO: He got regular updates from us while we were on the road -- we were on the road that day, on the way to Ohio.

Q So how can he say he has increased confidence if he got updates from other people? So he didn't actually see the testimony, himself, because --

MS. PERINO: He got updates from us, and I think he saw some news coverage of it later that day.

Q But as Jim noted, I mean, Arlen Specter yesterday said that it was "very, very damaging to his own credibility." So what did the President see -- well, he didn't see the testimony, but what did he hear that he --

MS. PERINO: What the President knows is that the Attorney General answered honestly, truthfully and was as responsive to Congress as he could possibly be during hours of testimony and in turning over all the documents, and then making people that work for him available to the Congress in order to answer their questions.

Q What's the status of whether Karl Rove and other White House aides -- when you talk about cooperating with Congress, what's the status of Karl Rove and other White House aides --

MS. PERINO: You know, I think the ball is still in the Democrats' court; they haven't decided whether or not to take us up on our offer.

Steve.

Q Back on Iraq. The President said this morning he's willing to work with Congress, but Senator Reid said that when he met with the President last week, the President just repeated some scripted talking points. Is that, in fact, true?

MS. PERINO: I think that Senator Reid is confusing scripted talking points with principled stand. And, you know, another thing that I would point out is I just saw Senator Reid's press conference in which he said, one of the things that has to happen is there needs to be a regional conference. Well, we have one of those happening next week, in Sharm el-Sheikh Egypt, and Secretary Rice is going to attend.

He shouldn't be able -- Senator Reid should not be allowed to get away with his own scripted talking points, that is sometimes a little bit hard to keep track of because you can't understand what his positions are. But this President has had a very principled stand and I don't think anyone could argue with that.

Martha.

Q Can you talk about -- you talked about the fact that you won't leave the Iraqis "flailing and defenseless," as you say. And, yet, the President repeatedly says, and everybody from the administration, that this is not an open-ended commitment. So at some point are you willing to leave them? If they don't come along and the Iraqi government doesn't do what you want it to do, what's required -- are you willing to leave them at that point?

MS. PERINO: I think that the President is confident that Prime Minister Maliki understands that the Iraqi people have limited patience, as well, and they are desperate for the security and to get their lives back to what they were before. I think that he believes that while they don't have the capacity yet in order to perform the political reconciliations that need to be done, that they are on their way to be able to doing so.

And the other thing that Senator Reid has said repeatedly over the last few weeks is that there is no military solution alone. While that is true, there is also no political solution if you don't get the security that you need, and that's what the new Baghdad security plan is there to do, is to help protect the people, calm the violence down and allow the parliament there in Iraq to do its work.

Q But back on the open-ended commitment -- I mean, you're trying to clearly pressure the Iraqi government to meet some sort of benchmark, you don't think they're going fast enough, you'd like them to go faster. If they don't go fast enough, then can you see pulling out?

MS. PERINO: Look, I think that you're asking me to answer a hypothetical question. And what I could tell you is that --

Q But you're the one who's saying that the Democrats are saying they would leave them defenseless and flailing.

MS. PERINO: That's what I'm saying. And what the President is saying is let's let this Baghdad security plan have a chance to work. As General Petraeus reported today, he only has I think about 60 percent of the additional troops that he's asked for. And he also has, I think -- what's it, two-and-a-half months that the plan has been in place. And he has said it's going to take several months, probably fall or late fall before we know if this plan is going to be able to succeed in doing all that we need it to do.

So I think it's a little bit premature -- and the President has confidence that Prime Minister Maliki, and that the Iraqi troops who are growing in number, and the police officers who are growing in number, in terms of the training, that they will be able to succeed.

Q Can you describe what success will look like at this point?

MS. PERINO: That has not changed for the President. He believes that success is an Iraq that can govern, sustain and defend itself, and be an ally in the war on terror, and be a democratic country in the heart of the Middle East.

Q In an effort to get this legislation the President wants, do you believe, does the President believe the tone is appropriate here, sharp words from this podium, sharp words from Senator Reid? Can that help get anything done?

MS. PERINO: Look, far be it from us to let us be "Whac-a-Mole," and get whacked about the head and not respond. We're going to respond, because it's important for the American people to understand that where we are coming from -- and I don't think that sharp words should be mistaken for -- should not be mistaken for what it really is. We're not questioning someone's patriotism, we are trying to point out a debate on the merits. And I think that if sometimes it takes harsher language to do that, then we'll do so.

Q Dana, back on the Attorney General. Senator Specter was asked yesterday whether he thought it was good or bad for the Attorney General to stay on in the Justice Department, for the Justice Department. And he said, "No doubt it is bad for the department, it's harmful. There's been a very substantial decrease in morale there."

MS. PERINO: I think that there's no doubt that there was a period of unease at the Justice Department, and I think that the Attorney General tried to address that. I think he met with over 70 U.S. attorneys offices as he traveled around the country, and they gathered and they met over the course of two or three weeks. That was essential work to be done, because I think that there needed to be open lines of communication between main Justice and the U.S. attorneys' offices.

I think that now that the hearing is behind us and the Attorney General answered their questions and we have all of the documents turned over, I think that -- hopefully things are calming down. I think if you are on the press release distribution list from Department of Justice, you will see that they are not stopping at all, in terms of succeeding in their prosecutions.

Q It doesn't seem like it's stopping as far as the other side, either, with a growing number of Republicans speaking out, saying it's bad for him to stay on. Would the President be surprised to get an offer of resignation from Attorney General Gonzales?

MS. PERINO: I think that what the President and the Attorney General have talked about is that the President has confidence in him. He thanked him for the work that he did leading up to the hearing. He answered honorably, he answered truthfully, and that's all we can expect from somebody. He has actually done a very good job -- anyone who looks at the record of the Department of Justice could only come to that conclusion.

Q Last thing. The President, as of now, expects Attorney General Gonzales to stay on to the end of his term?

MS. PERINO: The President hopes so.

Q Can the President look past his long personal friendship with Alberto Gonzales, to really look at this as objectively --

MS. PERINO: Yes, I think that he can. I think that you have to. Obviously, they've been long-time friends, but they've also been -- they've worked together, they've accomplished a lot together, and the President appreciates that work.

Go ahead, Les.

Q Thank you, Dana. Another question. The President has more than once invited up to two dozen talk radio hosts to broadcast from the White House. But now, while three dozen are broadcasting on Capitol Hill for three days on illegal immigration, we have received no such presidential invitation or even word of welcome. And my question, does the President wish we would all go home?

MS. PERINO: I think you're talking about apples and oranges, Les.

Q If the President really feels as you contend he does, when will he visit us on Capitol Hill or invite us to the White House?

MS. PERINO: I didn't know there had been an invitation. But we do talk show radio day every once in a while. We'll keep you in mind for the next one.

Q There are three dozen up there, and they'd love to have --

MS. PERINO: Been arranged by --

Q Could you come?

MS. PERINO: I think I'm busy. (Laughter.)

John, go ahead.

Q Thank you, Dana. Turning back to the Department of Justice, Congressman Tom Davis, and the Republican members of the House Government Operations Committee, recently wrote the Attorney General asking why former National Security Council advisor Sandy Berger had not been administered a polygraph test about what he took from the National Archives and looked at there -- something Mr. Berger agreed to in his plea bargain agreement two years ago. The Department of Justice wrote back a terse letter, said there was no need to give him a polygraph test. Mr. Davis has publicly complained about his treatment.

My question is, the last time I checked, the Attorney General works for the President, reports to him. Is the President aware of this? And would he ask his Attorney General to make this test possible?

MS. PERINO: I don't know if the President is aware of it. I do know that it would be inappropriate for the President to get himself involved into an investigation.

Q So he has no opinion -- you have no opinion on --

MS. PERINO: I have not talked to the President about it, John.

Q All right. Will you?

MS. PERINO: I'll see if I can do that.

Sarah.

Q Thank you. Dana, what can you tell us about Prime Minister Maliki not wanting to have the (inaudible) around Baghdad, he says it's not necessary. But I thought that was supposed to be, you know, for security.

MS. PERINO: I think that the way to look at this is that our commanders on the ground have a lot of flexibility, and they work with the Iraqis to try to figure out the best way to protect the men, women and children of Iraq. And these walls were meant as a temporary measure in order to help prevent suicide bombers and kidnappers and others who would perpetrate sectarian violence, from killing innocent people.

We'll continue to work with the Iraqis. And I think the most important thing to remember is that the work that we are doing on the ground there, it is slow, it is focused, it is persistent. They clear an area, they hold it, they train more Iraqis, both the military and the police, and then they move forward in order to rebuild and help these people rebuild their lives. So we'll continue to work with the Iraqis on it.

Q Dana, can I follow on that for a second? I think when you were talking with Martha, or her answering her questions, you said that the President and the administration is interested in getting -- so the Iraqi people can get their lives back to where they were before.

MS. PERINO: Well, obviously that's -- I should -- let me -- are you giving me a chance to expand, revise and extend my remarks? Obviously, they want to be in a time -- in a place where they can feel safe, and I don't believe that, at least most of the population, felt safe under Saddam Hussein. Everybody wants, and the President believes an inherent desire in every person is the freedom to live their lives the way that they would like to live them. That's what I meant.

Victoria.

Q Between them, the Attorney General and Kyle Sampson said, "I don't recall" over 200 times. Is there concern that at the top of the Justice Department, there's seems to be a massive lack of memory?

MS. PERINO: Victoria, I think that that is an outrageous comment. The Attorney General and Kyle Sampson are two of the most honorable people I know. And they were asked multiple questions in various different ways on the same topics in which they did not have full memory. Now what would have been dishonorable is if they had made it up. And they didn't. They were honest.

Q But, nevertheless, they didn't remember.

MS. PERINO: It's just as if you don't remember something. You shouldn't make it up just to satisfy somebody's curiosity about something. That would be wrong.

Q But there is not concern that there are people running the Department --

MS. PERINO: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

April, go ahead.

Q Dana, how far -- on Gonzales, how far does friendship and loyalty go when you have people in your own party now calling for you to step down?

MS. PERINO: I'm not going to answer that. You know, Kelly answered [sic] a similar question. And while the President takes very seriously long-time friendships, he takes very seriously, as well, capabilities. And anyone who takes an objective look at the record of the Department of Justice will see that they've done -- he's done a remarkable job at the helm.

Q But is the President to a point where friendship is overriding politics, policy, and what some people are calling common sense?

MS. PERINO: No, I don't believe so. I think that the Attorney General is fulfilling the agenda that the -- the prosecutorial agenda that the President wants to follow. You know, today, he's -- the Attorney General and the FTC Chairman, Deborah Majoras, are holding a press conference talking about identity theft, which is one of the things that he asked them to do. They are going about the business of the American people, and that's what the President expects.

Q And also on Nigeria, last week he came out saying some things, the White House is questioning the elections process in Nigeria. What is the White House saying now about the elections?

MS. PERINO: We are concerned and troubled about reports about irregularities in the Nigerian elections. We look forward to hearing from the election observers. And the United States urges all parties to resolve their concerns through peaceful means. Obviously, there is a lot of tension there, and we hope that people can remain calm, and if they're going to protest, to do so peacefully.

Q So is the President not going to talk to Obasanjo any time soon?

MS. PERINO: I think what we need first, April, is to hear from the election observers before we can make any other moves.

Q Dana, can I ask you, there's been a lot of chatter over the last couple days about this confrontation that Karl Rove allegedly had with a couple of celebrities about global warming, climate change. What was Karl Rove's reaction to being confronted at the dinner in this way?

MS. PERINO: I think Karl Rove just wanted to have some fun on Saturday night. And I think he wasn't the only one.

I think that it's unfortunate that people who have an impassioned view about a topic don't take the time and afford the President the same respect that they are asking for. The President's record on climate change is very strong. I do not understand why they can't take "yes" for an answer. The President has acknowledged, since the beginning of his term, that climate change is real. He has a different approach of how to help solve the problems, but that doesn't mean he hasn't acted.

We have provided billions of dollars, in terms of resources, to develop the new technologies that are not only going to help solve that problem, but will also help lift people out of poverty from around the world because they need the clean energy that everyone else needs in order to help their economies grow.

Q But it was not until this last State of the Union that he mentioned climate change, right, so --

MS. PERINO: Absolutely not.

Q He did not mention it directly.

MS. PERINO: In the State of the Union?

Q In the State of the Union. I thought this was the last --

MS. PERINO: Well, in the State of the Union, but that doesn't mean that people weren't actively working on things. I could point you back to the 2003 State of the Union, in which he announced the FutureGen project, which is a zero-emissions coal-fired power plant, which is currently underway, in terms of its development, and it's a 10-year plan. And what we would hope is that once we get that technology, we will be able to transfer it to developing countries that are going to use coal, like Mexico and South Africa and China, which, by the way, is building one power plant a week that uses coal.

So we have big climate change challenges ahead of us, and I just wish that they would channel some of that Hollywood energy into something constructive, rather than baseless finger pointing.

Q Did Rove leave early because he was angry because of this?

MS. PERINO: Rove left to get in the motorcade to go home. (Laughter.) That's what we all have to do if we're in the motorcade. I got to stay behind.

Terry.

Q Dana, the President had a conversation with Vladimir Putin today, and a brief statement said that they talked about missile defense, Kosovo, and Secretary Gates. Can you elaborate at least on the missile defense part of that conversation?

MS. PERINO: I can't, because I don't know any additional -- additional points. Obviously, Secretary Gates is there talking with the Russians about that; I refer you to his comments over there. And I would note that when the President and President Putin spoke this morning, the news about Boris Yeltsin's death had not yet been revealed, and so that's why they didn't speak about it.

Goyal.

Q First of all, it was a great White House Correspondent dinner, and it was really wonderful to see that everybody was in the mood of remembering the victims of Virginia Tech.

MS. PERINO: Okay. What's your question?

Q And my question is that yesterday there was a rally against the immigrants at the White House, anti-immigrants rally, and also in the fall several rallies were held, pro-immigrants. My question is that now 62 percent of Americans, what they're saying is that illegals who are here, they should be given chance and let them pay taxes. But at the same time, 68 percent are saying that no more illegals --

MS. PERINO: Well, Goyal, all right, what I would say is that the President, as we've said before, doesn't make decisions based on polls. What we are doing right now is we are working with Congress in order to develop a comprehensive immigration reform bill that will not allow for amnesty, but try to address that problem, as well as create a temporary worker program.

Q What are (inaudible) -- what is the mood of the Democratic Congress now, which President has been always supporting immigration bill, how will he --

MS. PERINO: We're confident we'll be able to get a bill this year. There's going to be a vote at the end of the month on the Senate floor.

Connie.

Q Thank you. How active is this White House in participating in debates about changing mental health laws --

MS. PERINO: I don't know if you saw it, but in Saturday's radio address, the President announced that Secretaries Leavitt, Spellings and the Attorney General are going to be working on a review of all the aspects regarding policy, mental health policy, and the nexus with guns.

Q But what about meetings up on Capitol Hill? Any activity up there from the White House, itself?

MS. PERINO: I'm sure we'll be engaged with Capitol Hill. I don't know of anything specific.

John.

Q Thank you again, Dana. In the French elections, just before the balloting, Socialist candidate Madame S gol ne Royal said she would not shake the hand of President Bush without bringing up grievances to this country. In her final pre-election rally, she said, "I will not genuflect to George W. Bush." What is the administration's reaction about this statement from a potential --

MS. PERINO: I'm going to decline to answer. I haven't heard -- I haven't seen her comments, and I'll see if I can get back to you.

Q Thank you.

MS. PERINO: Okay, thank you.

END 1:52 P.M. EDT

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070423-5.html
Top
mynameis
Posted: Apr 25 2007, 09:04 PM


If you're a troll, you get dead air from me.


Group: Members
Posts: 4,823
Member No.: 856
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Press Briefing by Dana Perino
White House Conference Center Briefing Room


12:10 P.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Good afternoon. I have no opening statements, I'll just go straight to questions. Terry.

Q The House Judiciary Committee took another step today in its investigation of the firing of the eight U.S. attorneys. They voted to grant immunity to Monica Goodling, the former aide to Attorney General Gonzales. Does the White House think that's a good strategy?

MS. PERINO: That's up to the committee; it's not something we're going to comment on.

Q But you don't object to them trying to force her testimony through an immunity --

MS. PERINO: I'm going to let the committee make those decisions for themselves; I'm not going to comment on it from here.

Is that it? (Laughter.) I shut that train down. (Laughter.)

Helen.

Q Is the President still going to veto anything from the Hill that sets a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, despite the belief of the public that we should pull out?

MS. PERINO: I think that -- let me try to unpack that. The President has said that if the Democrats decide to insist on sending him a bill that includes a deadline for withdrawal, that he will veto the bill. And I understand that there are many people who are in this country that are frustrated with the war. I do think that you have to be a little bit careful in blanketing everybody that they want to pull out quickly from Iraq and with an arbitrary deadline or a rash decision, and leave that vacuum that we believe is going to be left there, if we leave that quickly.

Q Well, if the majority of people really wanted to pull out, would the President pull out? And what kind of a statistic do you have that they don't want to?

MS. PERINO: As the President has said many times before, he does not make decisions based on polls. He understands as Commander --

Q Did he make decisions based on what the American people want?

MS. PERINO: He makes decisions based as the elected President of the United States and the Commander-in-Chief and his main priority is the protection of the American people, and that's what he --

Q How do you protect the soldiers who are over there dying every day?

MS. PERINO: That is the President's gravest concern, and he talks to the commanders on the ground to make sure that they are protected and that they are doing their jobs. He understands that he has asked them to do a very, very difficult mission. It's very dangerous in Baghdad. We do have a new Baghdad security plan that's underway, being led by General David Petraeus, who is up on the Hill today providing an update to the Congress on the status of that Baghdad security plan.

Q But a hundred people are dying in Iraq every day.

MS. PERINO: It's a very tragic situation. I don't know if that number is accurate, but obviously it's not only our troops that are dying, but very many -- too great of numbers of innocent men, women, and children in Iraq, as well.

Go ahead, Kelly.

Q Can the President say both that he does not question the patriotism of Democrats, but their actions aid the enemy?

MS. PERINO: I think that I want to take a little bit more time to talk about this based on our discussion this morning, because the President's policies are held up to intense scrutiny by the media, and by Democrats, and by everyone around the world, and we welcome that. And I think that when the President and his team and other Republicans try to hold the Democrat's policies up to that same standard of scrutiny, that immediately, the Democrats play the patriotism card.

And I'm sorry, but I don't think that there's anyone in this White House who has actually done that, nor have we have engaged in name calling. Yesterday, Senator Reid called the Vice President a dog, after saying he would not engage in name calling. And I think that let's all take a step back, and if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to have a debate, then we should have a debate, and we should be able to debate on the substance and on the merits of what we're talking about.

Q Speaking of name calling, Congressman Emanuel had a pretty lengthy speech today in which he said that not since the days of Watergate has partisan politics infiltrated every level of our federal government. I know you've seen the prepared remarks, what's the response?

MS. PERINO: Look, I think that there's an interesting messenger today giving a speech at the Brookings Institute. It's one that you would consider reading in the National Enquirer rather than at a prestigious American think tank like the Brookings Institute. And I think what we have going on here is that the 100-hour congressional agenda is faltering, and in that vacuum, that they've decided to fall back on what is a tried and true tactic of theirs, which is creating grand conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact.

Q On another topic --

Q Are you accusing Brookings of that?

MS. PERINO: No, no, someone is giving a speech there today.

Q On another topic --

MS. PERINO: I just called it a prestigious think tank. Go ahead, you had a follow up.

Q Sara Taylor, is she protected under the same protections given to Karl Rove and Harriet Miers -- would you -- as far as letting her testify with Congress?

MS. PERINO: She would be, but I do think that what we should remember is that we offered to the Senate Judiciary Committee and House Judiciary Committee the opportunity to interview White House officials, in addition to getting documents -- email documents that had come into or out of the White House, and that we would consider adding additional names to that if they wanted to take us up on that offer.

Martha.

Q The President said on Charlie Rose last night that he hoped when a new President took over that there would be fewer troops in Iraq. Why is that not a draw-down timetable? Why is that not telling the enemy something?

MS. PERINO: I think that he said "fewer" and it doesn't mean everybody is leaving, it's not telling them a date on which we are going to start withdrawing. I think that in the bills that are up on Capitol Hill right now, there's one that says you have to start withdrawing on July 1st, and another that says October 1st; it's one of those two dates. And I think what the President is saying is that what David Petraeus has said, it's going to take until the fall to see if this Baghdad security plan is working before we can evaluate. But the President has said before that he hopes that there are fewer troops there at the time, but he has said that we're going to be in Iraq for a while, and it's going to last beyond his presidency.

Q So it's okay to say we're drawing down or he hopes to draw down by a specific date, but it's not okay to say we hope to get out?

MS. PERINO: Well, the Baghdad security plan hasn't even had a chance to be fully implemented yet. And what they want to do is allow General Petraeus to go there, but their mission --

Q I'm not talking about that. I'm saying what the President said last night is he hoped that there would be fewer troops -- I'm sure he's not talking about five or ten, I'm sure he's talking about a substantial number -- by the time a new President takes over. That sounds like it's cluing the enemy into something. I don't get the distinction.

MS. PERINO: No, I think -- well, I do; I understand that you don't. But I do think that it's apples and oranges, and let me try to explain it again. I think what the President is saying is that we have a Baghdad security plan; it is a surge. A surge by its name is a temporary mission. General David Petraeus is there on Capitol Hill today to talk about the status of that and how it's going, and that he would know by the fall whether or not we are going to be able to have success with the mission.

I think the intention is that we need to secure Baghdad. In the meantime, what we need to have happen is the Prime Minister Maliki and the rest of his government to finish many of the pieces that they need to do. They've made progress on several of them, but the key ones -- like the oil law and de-Baathification, and then regional elections -- are ones that they have to do, as well.

The whole point of the surge is to calm the city down so that you can get that political reconciliation, which everyone agrees will help calm the rest of the country down so that they can sustain, defend and govern itself. And I think the President does hope that by the time he leaves office that Iraq is either at that point or nearing that point when they can be a self-sustaining democracy.

Q So it would be okay for the Democrats to start talking about a timetable after the surge in the fall?

MS. PERINO: No, I think -- let's just take what the Democrats have said right now, which is, they don't even want to give this surge a chance to succeed. They want to pull out. Harry Reid has said that the war is lost. And they're not even allowing it to have a chance, and they're wanting us to pull out prematurely. And it's going to put our troops in danger if we were to follow that path, and it would put the innocent men, women and children of Iraq in more peril. And that's why the President says he'll veto the bill.

Q Can you explain why the funding for the troops wasn't put in the regular budget, why you have to have an emergency supplemental?

MS. PERINO: Yes, we have done that over the years. That's the way that we have decided to do it, which is so that you don't put all of that money for a war into the baseline budget of the Department of Defense because we believe that it would be harder to extract it out afterwards, after the war was over.

Q But, I mean, why not plan for the worst? As the President always says, you plan for the worst. Why wouldn't you put that money in there to make sure that the troops had their money, instead of having what's happened now?

MS. PERINO: Well, as you know, Congress last year didn't even pass a budget. And this year I don't know how much more progress they're making -- I mean, we hope they make some more progress, but I think that in order to ensure the troops have what they need, we had to do it this way, follow the path that we have the past couple of years.

Q Rudy Giuliani said in New Hampshire last night that a Democratic President would put the U.S. at greater risk for suffering another 9/11-type attack. Does the administration agree or disagree with him?

MS. PERINO: I know it's going to be very tempting over the next two years to get us to comment about presidential politics from the podium, and I'm just not going to do it. I'll let Giuliani answer that question for himself.

Q So the administration's view, essentially, is that a timetable, any timetable -- specifically in this case the ones that the Democrats are trying to force -- are surrender dates, that the enemy will recognize as an opportunity to kind of galvanize around. Down the road, if a Republican President -- not this President -- if another President talks about a time to draw down troops, why should that not be viewed as a surrender date, as well? Understanding --

MS. PERINO: I think you're talking about a wildly hypothetical situation. And what I'm talking about -- I'm here to represent this President, and he believes that telling the enemy on the day which you are going to leave, that they can sit and wait us out, is the wrong thing to do. And that's why he said he would veto the bill. I'm not going to predict what any future President, Republican or Democrat, will do. I just know what this President will do, and he will protect the American people and fulfill the mission to the troops.

Q Can I also ask you just to kind of give us some sense of the administration's thinking of the process, as far as this bill goes -- how quickly might the President veto it? What are you envisioning, or what are you thinking about, perhaps, in terms of --

MS. PERINO: Well, since we don't have it yet, it's a little bit hard to tell. I don't think it's an exact science up on Capitol Hill that they know the exact time and hour in which they'll be able to send it to us. I think they have tried in good faith to try to give us a general idea, and we do believe it would be either later this week, or more likely, we've been told early next week.

So we'll take it from there. And the President, I think it is safe to say he would veto the bill soon after receiving it.

Q Obviously, the President wants to push back with Democrats. He's talked about them making this political statement, and the President obviously has his own message to send. I mean, is he --

MS. PERINO: What the President has said is that if they insist on sending him this bill that he will reluctantly veto it. But one of the reasons he will veto it is because he wants to get that done quickly so that we can then move on to the next step, which is how do we get the money to the troops. That's why the President is in a hurry.

Go ahead, John.

Q On the Hill, House Republicans are beginning today to basically push back against Chairman Waxman's investigations and oversight. And he, I believe, is going to have them vote on authorizing subpoenas for Secretary of State Rice. Has the White House said, or are you prepared to say what Waxman is doing is over-reaching?

MS. PERINO: Well, I do think that there is a difference between oversight and over-reaching. And we understand that the Congress has a role to play, which is oversight over the executive branch. I believe that this administration has been responsive to Congress, as we've worked with the new majorities, as well, that we've been responsive. But there does come a point where it does start to look like over-reaching.

Q Any people who have been reached yet or --

MS. PERINO: No, I think that I'll let the American people judge for themselves.

Q One other thing. Pelosi -- Speaker Pelosi, it has been reported -- it hasn't happened yet, but it's been reported that she might not attend the briefing by General Petraeus today. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PERINO: No. I don't know what her schedule is. I'm sure if she's not attending, she has good reason.

Q Can we go back once more to the timeline issue. I understand the issue of a timeline for setting a date for withdrawal. But doesn't the President also tell the enemy exactly what to do by saying, we'll know by the end of August, beginning of September whether the surge has worked? Isn't that the same -- here's the plan, here's how you can derail it.

MS. PERINO: I can see your point, although I think that what is important is to keep in mind that what the President is saying is that we need to give Baghdad a chance to calm down. And General Petraeus -- obviously, these are closed briefings up there, and if he has a chance to talk to the press, I think that he will and hopefully we can ask him these questions.

But the President said last night on Charlie Rose that if our definition of success is no more car bombings, that's not realistic. We know that the enemy realizes that when they can set off a spectacular bomb in a market and kill people, that that grabs people's attention and it's one of the things that they look to in order to foment chaos and to spread their ideology.

Q Who is the enemy you speak of? Are these Iraqis?

MS. PERINO: We have different folks that we're considering the enemy. Obviously, al Qaeda is in Iraq, and they say that this is the battle. And then there are insurgents --

Q Are there Iraqis that you speak of, when you speak of the enemy?

MS. PERINO: I think they are definitely -- obviously, there are Iraqis who are engaging in criminal activity and in sectarian violence.

Q Criminal? To defend their own country?

MS. PERINO: I think when anyone is killing innocent men, women and children that they --

Q Against an invader and occupier?

MS. PERINO: Helen, we are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government, and we are there under the U.N. Security Council resolution.

Mark, did I finish your question?

Q I guess I'm still not sure I see how putting a timeline on a surge -- admittedly, a timeline for something other than withdrawal, but a timeline -- how that still does not communicate something useful to the enemy.

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that what we're seeing is the modest signs of hope, little seeds of hope, amongst the destruction and the challenges that we have in Iraq that the Baghdad security plan is starting to have some effect and some success.

And what the President has said is that the American people don't have unlimited patience; he understands that. So just like the Iraq Study Group, the Baker-Hamilton group said we could support a surge to calm the situation down in Baghdad -- that's what the President is trying to do.

Roger.

Q On the Sara Taylor authorized subpoena by the Senate Judiciary Committee today, if one is issued for her, would it be the intent of the administration to resist that subpoena?

MS. PERINO: I think I'm not going to go down the hypothetical road. But what I would submit to the House and Senate Judiciary committees is that if they wanted to take us up

on our offer to have the four officials provide an interview up there without a transcript, and then if they would provide -- we would provide them with documents going to and from the White House, which was an extraordinary offer on our part, that we would consider adding additional officials to those interview requests.

Q That offer, though, has been on the table for several weeks now. Is there anything happening on that?

MS. PERINO: No, the ball is in the Democrats' court.

Q Can you explain the objection to a transcript?

MS. PERINO: I think what we have tried to explain is that there is a long tradition in history of not having presidential close advisors testify in front of Congress. But we do want to be responsive to the Congress, and in order to do that, we thought that an interview and a hearing -- an interview is not a hearing, and that's what we offered.

Q Dana, two quick questions. Today, President will talk about malaria and other disease. My question is that, there are people dying around the globe, as far as many diseases, including malaria, HIV/AIDS and all of that. And does the President support the cause by President Clinton, and also Mr. Bill Gates, that they're also taking --

MS. PERINO: Yes, I would say the President and Mrs. Bush, having declared today for the first time ever Malaria Awareness Day, are very interested in anyone who can add to the collective help that we're trying to give to the third world that is suffering from malaria. So I think that the President and Mrs. Bush -- you will hear from them, the President will be introduced by Mrs. Bush in the Rose Garden. I'm sorry, it will be in the East Room, because it was 50 percent change of rain.

Q Second question. As far as Iran is concerned, Iranian President, or Iran has not changed their minds, as far as nuclear program is concerned. But Dr. Condoleezza Rice is planning to meet if they come to the table, as far as -- my question is, is U.S. policy has changed, as far as Iranian nuclear program is concerned, or there will be any compromise if they meet?

MS. PERINO: No, and I would refer -- I know you were at Sean McCormack's briefing yesterday when he addressed this, and I think I'd refer you to his comments. What he said is that Secretary Rice will be joining the Iraq neighbors' conference in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, next week, the one that Harry Reid apparently hasn't heard about because he keeps saying that we need to have a conference. But I would just let him know once again that it is happening next week.

And what Sean McCormack said is that he's not going to rule out any inadvertent contact. This meeting, though, is to talk about Iraq. Our stand with our -- the Permanent 5-plus-1 is strong against the Iranian nuclear program. We do believe that if they want to have a path to get to civilian nuclear power, that it's available to them. They just have to suspend their enrichment.

Q But nothing --

MS. PERINO: Let me move on. Kelly.

Q A couple of points. Has the White House been notified in any way from the agency known as the Office of Special Counsel about its inquiries into the work of Karl Rove or the political operation here?

MS. PERINO: No. No, we have not. As I said yesterday, we have had cooperation with them in the past, and we've responded appropriately. But we have not heard from them on this issue.

Q Dana, in the wake of Senator Reid's comments yesterday that you referenced today, and Congressman Emanuel's comments today, is it fair to say that any hope for spirit of bipartisanship is pretty much out the window?

MS. PERINO: I hope not. I know that we are all working towards -- one, we're working towards getting money to the troops. Secondly, we have a process underway in which we hope to get an immigration bill done. Yesterday, the President was in New York talking about the No Child Left Behind bill. We are moving forward on the energy bill. So we are focused on the priorities of the American people, while at the same time having to work in parallel with the Congress on their oversight request.

Q You have the head of the Democratic Caucus today saying that your administration is "a pattern of political appointees putting partisan interests ahead of the country." Earlier, you said this is part of the nightmare of waking up of a right-wing conspiracy again. What did you mean by that?

MS. PERINO: Well, I just think that what we have is a return to the partisan politics because I think that they are frustrated that their 100-hour congressional agenda has stalled. And they have very little else to talk about. There was nothing in that speech, as I saw it as prepared, that was positive about the -- a positive agenda about for the American people, nothing that talked about what people care about -- how do we make sure that our children are educated and able to compete in a very competitive and growing competitive world? How do we make sure that we are reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy? How do we make sure that we solve our immigration problem so that we can be a nation that is welcoming, as well as a nation of laws?

These are all issues that the President is focused on, as well -- not to mention protecting the American citizens from terrorists who are a very real threat. That speech, as I read it, was one that just strung -- tried to string together a series of unrelated issues and tried to cloak it in a grand conspiracy that was just reminiscent of the vast right-wing conspiracy of the 1990s, and I think the American people have moved past that.

Q Dana, yesterday --

Q Dana, Dana --

MS. PERINO: Let me go over here. I'll get back to you guys.

Q The Petraeus briefing on the Hill is behind closed doors, but if he goes there and has a lot of positive things to say, do you expect him to talk about it? Do you expect the Republicans to talk about it and let it be known -- let the message get out to the public about that things are getting better?

MS. PERINO: I think I found that members of Congress aren't shy about talking to the media after a meeting. (Laughter.)

Keith.

Q Do you -- this specific response to the decision of the Office of Special Counsel to enlarge this investigation of Hatch Act violations, is there a legitimate --

MS. PERINO: As I said, Keith, we haven't heard from them.

Q But what do you think about it? I mean --

MS. PERINO: I'm not going to comment on it until the Counsel's Office is contacted by the Office of Special Counsel. I'm just not going to do it.

Q Also just one more on the comment about over-reaching, you kind of seemed to suggest that Waxman is over-reaching, but then you kind of -- you put it out there, but you didn't really embrace it fully. I mean, do you --

MS. PERINO: I said I think the American people are going to have to make a decision. If they think that their Congress and their President should be working on issues that are important to them, then I think that they would be sadly disappointed in the first four months of this new Congress.

Q But since you put it out there, do you think that he is over-reaching at this time with all these difference of opinions --

MS. PERINO: I think that there is a difference between oversight and over-reaching, and the American people will make a decision.

Go ahead.

Q Dana, yesterday we heard testimony from the family of Pat Tillman about the circumstances of his death and the numerous falsehoods that were told to the family by Pentagon officials. Pat Tillman's memorial service was on May 3, 2004. When did the President learn about the unusual circumstances of his death and the possibility that he was killed by friendly fire?

MS. PERINO: From all indications, it was well after the funeral. And I did check, and the President did ask for updates yesterday on the hearing and received them from senior staff members.

Q And any reaction to the testimony by his family at yesterday's hearing, from the President?

MS. PERINO: I haven't spoken to the President, but in talking to -- in checking that out to ask if he had been updated on it, he was interested. He was the one who asked about the hearing. He wanted to know more about it. And I think that he feels deeply sorry for the family and all that they have gone through, and he's pleased that the Department of Defense has taken it upon themselves to investigate it, and he hopes that people are held to account.

Q Has he spoken to the family since the IG report has come out, or since the family has complained about the numerous falsehoods that were told to them?

MS. PERINO: No, he has not spoken to the family. And I think that we have to remember that as this matter is ongoing, that it would be inappropriate for the Commander-in-Chief to do so, to get involved, in terms of while there's an investigation in questioning. But he does believe that General Pace and others at the Defense Department are honorable people who will make sure that it is -- that the wrong is righted.

Les.

Q Thank you, Dana. Two questions. How will the United States ever develop, adopt and enforce any sort of immigration policy when individual leaders such as San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom have vowed to oppose federal enforcement of such laws and, in fact, are preparing to run a sanctuary city that would facilitate illegal activities, as just reported for the San Francisco Chronicle and one wire service?

MS. PERINO: Wow, two sources. (Laughter.) President Bush believes that the laws of this country, including immigration laws, need to be followed.

Q Second. The National Border Patrol Council, the union of our 11,000 non-supervisory U.S. Border Patrol agents, has just passed a resolution, which, among other concerns, deplores what they say is, "shamelessly promoting amnesty and a greatly expanded guest worker program, despite intense opposition to these concepts from the front-line Border Patrol agents who risk their lives enforcing our nation's immigration laws."

MS. PERINO: Your question is what?

Q Yes, the question is right here. What is the White House reaction to this resolution?

MS. PERINO: Okay. I haven't seen the resolution. What I would say is that I would hope that the council would take a look at the President's plan. We are working with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to try to work through a plan that would help alleviate the pressure at the border. And I understand that they have very real concerns, since they work on the border every day. And the President believes that the plan that we have in place is one that would help alleviate the problems at the border, as well as allow our country to be one that is continuing to be a welcoming one.

Go ahead.

Q Just to follow up on Mark's point, that you have a surge which is announced, and yet the supposed insurgents or enemy have moved up 35 miles north and killed our servicemen earlier this week. How is not that -- how isn't it the same as essentially announcing a date pullout? I mean --

MS. PERINO: Well, first of all, we haven't announced a date pullout. There's a huge difference.

Q No, but the Democrats have said that they would like to have a date pullout.

MS. PERINO: No, no, no, they've put in a date to pull out.

Q I understand.

MS. PERINO: It's not they just don't want to -- they don't like it -- they don't just like it, they have done it.

Q What I'm saying is the surge is -- announcing the surge is the same thing, because they just moved north and did a suicide bombing and killed our service members.

MS. PERINO: Well, look, the President has said that we are going to be facing very real dangers about the possibility of more servicemen from -- men and women from the United States facing possible death or injury because of our new Baghdad security plan, and he understood that. We also have new operations in al Anbar province. It is this plan that has small signs of hope that General Petraeus is going to be talking about today.

We have not at all set a date certain. What we have said is that we won't know until the fall whether or not -- General Petraeus, who will make the determination as the commander on the ground, whether or not we are having success there.

Q Can I just go back to Tillman? You said that the President only knew about it well after Pat Tillman's funeral.

MS. PERINO: Sometime after that.

Q Can you tell us how he knew, and whether the speechwriter knew? I mean, there's this email that apparently went to General Abizaid, that he didn't get for a long time.

MS. PERINO: We have no indication that the President knew that there were questions surrounding the circumstances of Colonel Tillman's death until sometime afterwards. And it's not clear -- people don't remember if he heard it from media reports or if he heard it from the Pentagon, but it was sometime after the funeral.

Q Did the speechwriter know?

MS. PERINO: It's unclear. It didn't seem that he did. I did not speak to him; he no longer works at the White House. But it is not unusual --

Q But he never got word through this email --

MS. PERINO: It seemed that it never left CENTCOM and got to here. There's no record of that -- of General McCrystal's memo coming to the White House. But let me tell you it is not unusual that any time the President is going to be giving a speech mentioning somebody that has connections to the Department of Defense or another department, that we wouldn't reach out and make sure that we had any I's dotted and T's crossed. And, obviously, in this regard we would maybe have treated the situation differently had the President known.

Q But it's unclear when he found out and how he found out?

MS. PERINO: Correct.

Q As the most high-profile casualty at that time, wouldn't it have been the responsibility of someone to directly tell the President, and not leave it up to him overhearing reports?

MS. PERINO: I think that's part of the inquiry that Department of Defense is looking into.

Q Is he convinced now that it's friendly fire?

MS. PERINO: I think that that's been established.

Q It has?

MS. PERINO: I believe so.

Q Dana --

MS. PERINO: No, no, no, Goyal. Let's go to Paula, and then we'll get these two in the back, and be done.

Q The meeting this afternoon on immigration reform, is this primarily a listening session with the Hispanic Caucus, or are you going to be discussing new ideas beyond the general principles that the President --

MS. PERINO: I think listening, discussion, and talking about general principles or other principles. I think that the President wants to talk to them about a variety of issues regarding immigration. They're not going to be drafting bill language together, but I think that they'll have their input given to the President and to the members of his staff so that we can include that into our thinking as we're working on Capitol Hill on a bill.

Q Would that include more focus on a temporary worker program?

MS. PERINO: The President is very focused on a temporary worker program, so that will definitely be a part of the discussion, sure.

Yes.

Q Thanks, Dana. Al Jazeera is reporting in an interview with a Taliban commander that Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden are alive, and that Osama bin Laden directed the attack against Vice President Cheney in Afghanistan.

MS. PERINO: It's an interesting claim, but we don't -- I haven't seen any intelligence that would support that.

Q What about the idea that these individuals are unaccounted for, that they could be out there, and could have directed an attack against the Vice President?

MS. PERINO: Well, I guess that that is possible. It's just I'm not an intelligence experts, and I'd have to refer you over to the DNI's office if you want to check that out. I think that would be a good place to ask.

Q Dana, the word "impeachment" has cropped up in D.C. and elsewhere in the country. How seriously does the administration take those words?

MS. PERINO: How seriously do we take Representative Kucinich's --

Q That and the decision by the assembly in Vermont?

MS. PERINO: The assembly of the what?

Q In Vermont. The resolution by -- in the state of Vermont.

MS. PERINO: Oh, I didn't even know there was a resolution in the state of Vermont. Is that a monthly occurrence? (Laughter.) I don't know. The President and the Vice President have served honorably, and I don't think there's any merit to those impeachment claims.

END 12:39 P.M. EDT

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...20070425-1.html
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mynameis
Posted: Apr 25 2007, 09:05 PM


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Press Gaggle by Dana Perino and Administration Officials on Visit by Japanese Prime Minister Abe
White House Conference Center Briefing Room


Fact sheet Visit by Japanese Prime Minister Abe
Fact sheet In Focus: Global Diplomacy
9:37 A.M. EDT

PARTICIPANTS:
Dana Perino, Deputy White House Press Secretary
Dennis Wilder, NSC Senior Director for Asian Affairs
David McCormick, NSC Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs

MS. PERINO: Good morning. I'm going to do the schedule for you, and then we have some guests from NSC to set up the Abe visit. And then I'll take the rest of your questions.

The President had his normal briefings at 8:00 a.m., and then the rest of the morning he'll be spending in policy time. At 1:15 p.m. today he will make remarks on Malaria Awareness Day. The President declared today, April 27, 2007, to be the first-ever Malaria Awareness Day, and the purpose is to educate people about combating malaria. And you'll see, Mrs. Bush did some interviews, as well, on that. So he'll make remarks today; Mrs. Bush will introduce him at the event.

At 2:10 p.m. the President will meet with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Conference. And at 3:15 p.m. he has a meeting on financial literacy. April is Financial Literacy Month.

Q What does that mean?

MS. PERINO: Well, it is a chance for -- the President is going to be meeting with a group of people to talk about the need to help them organize efforts to make sure people understand the importance of savings and how to make sure that they understand all that they need to do to help protect themselves, both when they're younger, in terms of consumer credit and those types of things, and then on into their later years, as they head into retirement. And we will release an event backgrounder with information on the meeting participants to that one.

And then on the Virginia Tech update. As you know, last Saturday in the radio address -- I guess last Friday, when we released the radio address -- the President had directed officials from the Department of Education, Health and Human Services and the Justice Department to provide assistance to the Virginia Tech community and participate in the review of the broader discussions of policy issues surrounding the tragedy. And starting today, Secretaries Leavitt and Spellings, and the Attorney General will begin to convene meetings throughout the country. States include Minnesota, Colorado, Utah, Iowa, Tennessee and Texas. In many of these states, similar tragedies have occurred and the lessons learned from those events will provide valuable input for this review.

Administration officials are also going to be meeting with Virginia Governor Kaine's commission, which is conducting an in-depth investigation of this tragedy from the state's perspective. And when I listed those states, I think that that is inclusive of the states, but not the exhaustive list.

So now it's my pleasure to introduce to you Dennis Wilder. He is the Senior Director for East Asia at the National Security Council, and he'll talk to you about the President's meeting with Abe.

DIRECTOR WILDER: Good morning. The President and Mrs. Bush are looking forward to hosting the first visit of Prime Minister Abe and his wife, Akie, to Washington since the Prime Minister took office last September. They did have an opportunity to meet in Hanoi and have a one-on-one meeting there last November, just after Mr. Abe took office.

But this visit is designed to offer the two leaders not only a significant amount of time to discuss bilateral issues, but also to allow them to develop their personal relationship further.

The Abes will arrive tomorrow. They'll stay at Blair House. The Prime Minister will meet with congressional leaders. He'll pay his respects at Arlington Cemetery, and he's planning to visit wounded troops at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Mrs. Bush will take Mrs. Abe Thursday afternoon to visit Mount Vernon, and then they'll be guests -- the Abes, that is, will be guests of the President and Mrs. Bush at a small, informal dinner in the private quarters of the White House tomorrow evening.

On Friday morning, the President will host Prime Minister Abe at Camp David for a morning of discussions, press briefing and lunch. And then Prime Minister and Mrs. Abe will leave Washington on Friday evening for the Middle East.

I think with all the attention and discussion that the emergence of China and India in Asia has been given, it's useful to remind ourselves that Japan remains the world's second largest economy with a gross domestic product greater than that of China and India combined. Indeed, we see Japan as our greatest strategic partner in East Asia, and an increasingly indispensable global partner. Japan has made the largest financial commitment of any nation, except the United States, to the rebuilding of Iraq, with a total commitment of over $12 billion in grants, loans and debt relief. Japan is also the third largest contributor in Afghanistan, with an overall commitment of $1.45 billion since 2002, to do such things as build roads and airports and boost health and educational services.

Japanese defense forces have conducted refueling operations for the United States and coalition forces worth more than $180 million to support naval operations in Operation Enduring Freedom. And Japan is the second largest contributor to the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In fact, Japan has about 5,700 people involved in peace-keeping operations worldwide.

In terms of the discussions topics during their meeting, obviously topping the agenda is the security situation in East Asia, as they'll discuss our common approach to the North Korean nuclear problem, the ongoing realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, and ways to deepen our defense cooperation.

As the leaders of the world's largest high-technology economies and wealthiest democracies, they'll discuss ways to use their resources to promote political freedom in Asia and around the globe, address environmental issues and help advance the development of clean technologies for nuclear and non-nuclear energy generation, and to promote sustainable development in the developing world.

As you know, the international compact meeting will be held next week and Prime Minister Abe, as I said, is going to travel to the Middle East, so you can expect that they will exchange views on the Middle East peace process, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.

In anticipation of the G8 summit in Germany in June, and of Japan's role as chair of the G8 next year, we'll also be looking for ways to better coordinate our approaches on the Doha round and global and bilateral trade liberalization, and our approaches to energy security and environmental challenges.

Let me just sum up by saying that we hope this visit will help remind the American people of the breadth and depth of U.S.-Japan global alliance. Prime Minister Abe has ably taken up where his predecessor left off, in terms of the close ties to Washington, and we very much look forward to offering he and his wife a very special visit.

Q Dennis, thanks. Abe says he wants to discuss the Japanese abductee issue with the President. The Japanese say that they're concerned that the United States might consider de-listing North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism before the abductee issue is resolved. What's the United States position on those two issues?

DIRECTOR WILDER: I think Ambassador Hill and the rest of the American team have been very clear with the North Koreans on this issue. We aren't going to de-link the abductee issue from the state sponsor of terrorism issue. We fully expect that the bilateral working group between Japan and the DPRK is going to have success in moving forward on this issue. And we very much hope that, obviously, that we get back to those working group discussions as soon as possible.

Q On April 3rd, the President spoke with Prime Minister Abe on telephone about the comfort issue. Does the President agree with Prime Minister Abe's views on that subject? And does the United States think that Japan should do more on this issue?

DIRECTOR WILDER: The President believes that Prime Minister Abe has done a lot to clear up the misunderstandings in the last couple of weeks on this issue. As you know, Mr. Abe, in interviews and in statements, has indicated that the Japanese position, the official position of Japan has not changed, and that he personally apologizes for the horrible things that happened to those women. I don't think this is going to be a major issue of the visit because the two have discussed these issues in depth.

Q A quick question on the congressional leaders, is there any more details on that? The exact where and when?

DIRECTOR WILDER: I believe it's going to be at Blair House. I will leave it to the Japanese to give you any details that they have on exactly which leaders are going to be there. But I think it's a bipartisan group of senior leadership in U.S. Congress.

Q Is the playing -- automakers and trade, is the playing field fair, from the U.S. point of view, between U.S. and Japan, especially since Toyota has now surpassed GM?

DIRECTOR WILDER: Dave, do you want to talk about economic questions?

MR. McCORMICK: Hi, I'm Dave McCormick from the NSC. I work on economic issues. And certainly we continue to work with the Japanese. They are our second largest trading relationship, and a very, very important one. And we look to have open markets in all areas, and are focused on continuing to find ways for Japan to open up its markets, particularly for foreign investment in the automotive sector. We think that we've generally had a lot of good progress, in terms of a good open exchange of trade in the automotive sector.

Q Is the playing field fair?

MR. McCORMICK: The automotive makers have met with the President on this issue and, generally, we think it is.

Q Will currency also be coming up, or other trade issues in their talks?

MR. McCORMICK: I think there will a couple of trade issues that will be talked about. One will certainly be Doha. And Prime Minister Abe and the President are both, we know, very committed to trying to find a successful conclusion to the Doha round, so that will be part of the dialogue, I suspect. And certainly another issue will be APEC and trying to think about how those two leaders work together to ensure that APEC remains the premier economic forum in Asia for discussing economic integration and the economic agenda.

Q And currency?

MR. McCORMICK: It may come up in the agenda, I suspect it probably won't be a central part of the discussion.

Q Just one question on the comfort women, just to follow up. You said you don't expect that to be a major issue, but do you think that's something the President will, on his own, raise with the Prime Minister?

DIRECTOR WILDER: I don't know whether the President will actually raise this particular issue. The President has had discussions with both Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister Koizumi about how you deal with issues of history, how Japan can work with its neighbors to resolve some of those issues. It may come up in that context.

Q And what's the point the President made in this conversation?

DIRECTOR WILDER: I think the point the President makes is historical issues are tough, and these are issues that we all contend with in our societies. The United States is not free of some rather poignant historical issues, ourselves. But that as you move forward, Japan as a modern, democratic nation needs to find a way to place these issues behind it so it can move forward in cooperation with its neighbors.

Q Just one other question on Abe. You had mentioned about this is a visit that you're going to try to improve the -- not "improve," but develop a personal relationship between the two leaders. Obviously, Prime Minister Koizumi was one of the President's closest allies personally, before he stepped down --

DIRECTOR WILDER: And is still a close friend.

Q Okay. I just was kind of curious if you can give us any indication whether this relationship is off to that kind of development.

DIRECTOR WILDER: Well, I was there at their meeting in Hanoi and I can tell you that there was a lot of warmth. There are interesting historical, sort of, ties between the two men: Abe's grandfather actually played golf with the President's grandfather, and in Hanoi, gave him a picture of President Eisenhower and the two grandfathers golfing together. I think that the President admires Abe's leadership.

I do want to stress this global alliance that we have with the Japanese, and this transcends the Koizumi administration. We think the Japanese have an important role to play internationally, but they can play a bigger role internationally. And the President admires what the Japanese are trying to do not only in peacekeeping and reconstruction in the Middle East, but also in democracy building in East Asia.

So we are like-minded democracies pursuing a common agenda and, again, that transcends whether it's Prime Minister Koizumi or Prime Minister Abe.

Q But is Abe an Elvis fan? (Laughter.)

Q Would that grandfather be Walker?

DIRECTOR WILDER: I'm sorry?

Q The grandfather would be Walker, the President's grandfather?

DIRECTOR WILDER: Yes.

Q Or Prescott?

DIRECTOR WILDER: I'm sorry, Prescott.

Q Senator Prescott.

DIRECTOR WILDER: Yes, I'm sorry. That's right.

Q Where did they play golf together?

DIRECTOR WILDER: I believe it was Burning Tree.

Q What did they shoot? (Laughter.)

DIRECTOR WILDER: Now we're getting beyond my capabilities.

Q I understand Prime Minister Abe wants some kind of post-Kyoto agreement on the climate change, and that issue may come up. What is President Bush planning to tell him about climate change?

DIRECTOR WILDER: Mr. McCormick has all the answers.

MR. McCORMICK: Thanks. Yes, I think this will be a constructive discussion on climate and energy security and economic growth, which are three topics that really need to be discussed together. Prime Minister Abe has expressed his climate priorities within that context -- the President talks about it in that context. So I think you'll find a good bit of common ground on that. Both leaders also are very committed to technology development and deployment around the world as being a key component of addressing those issues. So Japan, as you know, has taken the leadership role, particularly in the nuclear industry. And so I think that will be a part of the discussion.

The third part of the discussion, I suspect, will be around the importance of emerging economies, like China and India, engaging in this dialogue. And you may have noticed that Prime Minister Abe and Premier Wen had recently announced a series of statements and agreements to cooperate in this area, I think indicative of Japan's commitment to try to engage China in this dialogue. We, of course, are engaging China in a very similar dialogue through the strategic economic dialogue. So I think there's a lot of opportunity here for collaboration.

Final point is that Japan hosts the G8 next year, 2008. So this is clearly a topic on the agenda for the G8 here in 2007, and I think will continue to be with Japan's leadership, the topic in '08.

Q Will President Bush bring something new on climate change to the G8, because that's where we're all headed on this.

MR. McCORMICK: Well, it's clearly going to be on the agenda. The President has brought a lot new to the climate discussion, most recently in the State of the Union, in terms of his initiatives there. So I think those principles that I outlined will continue to be a central part of how the President talks about this. And being in the middle of the G8 discussions now, I think that there is a lot of room for finding common ground on those principles.

Q I wanted to ask about Russia. Japan is one of the few major powers in the world not to send a special representative to the funeral of President Yeltsin -- happening today -- which is kind of indicative of what's happening in the relationship. Do you expect relations with Russia to be on the agenda in any way? Either with relation to the territorial issue or the energy issue or whatever?

DIRECTOR WILDER: I'll answer that in a moment, but can I go back to the Elvis question for just a quick second? You know, one thing they do share is a love of baseball, and a great deal of interest in Japan's most significant export to the United States in the last year, and that is the Boston Red Sox pitcher, who won his second game on Sunday. So I'm sure they'll be discussing that. And the Japanese are very proud that they are now exporting baseball players to the United States.

On the question of Russia, the Japanese are working hard, I think, to improve their relationship with Russia. I think that Foreign Minister Aso is planning to have meetings within the next week with his Russian counterpart.

Obviously, there are significant issues over the northern territories that they need to work out, some energy issues that they would like to work with the Russians on. I think the Japanese are eager to find a way to work forward on these issues. I don't see the relationship as quite as strained as you may be portraying it, but --

Q No, I'm not. I was not trying to over-dramatize it. But is there a role for the U.S., basically?

DIRECTOR WILDER: This is a bilateral relationship. I'm not sure that we would play a major role in it.

Q As long as we're talking about the personal relationship, I wondered if you could just elaborate a little bit on the setting for the meeting at Camp David, rather than the White House. Also why a small dinner and no big state dinner?

DIRECTOR WILDER: First of all, I think both the President and the First Lady did find there was personal chemistry between them and the Abes in Hanoi. I would say that Mrs. Abe is a dynamic young Japanese woman who has a very interesting background. She was a DJ on Japanese radio, she has a wide-ranging set of interests, she speaks English well. And so I think they really want the opportunity not to be constrained, if you will, by a very large state event to get to know each other much better.

Also, as I indicated, I hope, in my opening remarks, there's a tremendous amount for these two -- the President and the Prime Minister -- these two leaders to discuss. And Laurel cabin gives you a much better opportunity -- particularly when you have to translate between English and Japanese -- for an extended discussion.

And so I think it reflects the depth of the global alliance with Japan, that we found that it would be better to do this at Camp David, where you could relax, take some time, and really go in depth into some of the big issues of the day.

Q Do you expect to hear Abe express concerns to the President that the U.S. is softening its stance towards North Korea a little too fast for their taste, especially without the issue of the kidnapped Japanese being resolved?

DIRECTOR WILDER: I've seen these press reports, and I must admit I find them a little confusing. We have worked very well with the Japanese to coordinate in the six-party talk process. I speak to my counterparts on a daily basis about the six-party process. Ambassador Hill is very close to his Japanese counterpart. I think we're in the same place on this issue.

We have expectations, as you know, that the North Koreans are going to fulfill their commitments. I think, frankly, people all across East Asia breathed a sigh of relief in February when there was an agreement, and I think East Asians in general are waiting to see whether the North Koreans will live up to their agreements.

So I don't know where this difference is between the United States and Japan; I certainly can't identify it at this point.

MS. PERINO: Last one.

Q Can you give any details on the dinner? I know that Senator Baucus and Specter sent a request that U.S. beef be served. I'm just curious, because there's still some back and forth, even though the market is open, there are restraints. So --

DIRECTOR WILDER: If you ask my personal recommendation, I think, obviously, Prime Minister Abe ought to have a steak dinner sometime while he's here in Washington, just as Mr. Koizumi, by the way, last year had a steak dinner.

Q Do you know if they're serving it?

DIRECTOR WILDER: I think I'm going to refer you to the First Lady's press office. I don't get into those details.

MS. PERINO: Great answer. (Laughter.)

DIRECTOR WILDER: Thanks.

MS. PERINO: Thanks, Dennis. We'll release this transcript, as well, so you guys have it, unlike usual for the gaggles.

Terry.

Q I'd like to ask you about the level of political discourse about Iraq. The Vice President and President are accusing the Democrats of being defeatist, they're talking about surrender dates. Senator Reid comes back and calls the Vice President an attack dog. What happened to the thought that there was going to be an elevated debate; they were going to be more high minded, not as mean spirited?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that what happens in Washington at times of high drama and passion on both sides of the aisle, and on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue, that there are times when you're trying to make your substantive point, that the rhetoric can sometimes lead you to say things that you might not otherwise say in a one-on-one conversation.

I do think that when talking about a surrender date, it is very descriptive of what we believe is in the legislation. It says, you must leave on this day, and we think that that tells the enemy that they've won and that we've surrendered. And I think that's a good way to explain it to the American people.

Q Well, and you say that you're not questioning their patriotism, but by calling them defeatist and talking about surrender, you don't think that that gets close to that line of not --

MS. PERINO: I think that what we have done is argued on the merits and on the substance of our arguments. And I don't know if that's always been the case on the other side. I grant you that I think that tension is high, because the stakes are high. And we feel very strongly that leaving before the job is done is turning over the victory to the enemy. And this is an enemy that, as the President has said many times, people need to understand is not only vying for control of Iraq, is a sworn enemy of the United States being helped by other sworn enemies of the United States, and that we ought to take this very seriously.

Q But don't you think that words matter? I mean, doesn't that suggest --

MS. PERINO: I certainly think --

Q -- "helping the enemy" -- doesn't "helping the enemy" suggest some kind of lack of patriotism?

MS. PERINO: I think if you look at what the President has said, is that we are kidding ourselves if we think that the Qaeda is not trying to create a safe haven as they had in Afghanistan. And by us leaving too soon, before the Iraqis are able to take care of their country themselves, that that is what the President is trying to argue. And I would say that someone who calls the President a liar and a loser does not have very strong ground to stand on in talking about name-calling.

Ann.

Q When the President vetoes the war supplemental, as we think he'll get it, what does he do then? Will he reach out to Congress and say, okay, here's where we can move from here?

MS. PERINO: I think we'll have to wait and see what happens. I think that both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue are going to have to come together to try to work it out. And I think that both sides recognize that.

Q And when do you think -- how quickly would he veto it after the Senate votes?

MS. PERINO: Let us try to -- we don't even know when we're going to get the actual vote. We have some general idea, but not specifically. I think it's safe to say soon after.

Q Well, "soon after" meaning -- I mean, if the President is at Camp David for the day, would he do it without any ceremony?

MS. PERINO: Let me just say soon after. I don't believe that we're going to be getting it on Friday.

Q Do you think that there would be --

MS. PERINO: I think our indications are that we don't anticipate getting the bill on Friday.

Q Do you envision, though, a formal -- I don't want to call it a ceremony, but for lack of a better word -- event, at this point?

MS. PERINO: We're talking about it, and what we would do, but we don't have any plans yet to announce. We're thinking about it.

Q Okay.

MS. PERINO: But, obviously, the President has said he's going to veto it, and I think that it's important that the American people see him doing it.

Q But this would be only his second veto, and I recall that during the stem cell veto, there was an elaborate event in which he brought families. I'm wondering if you're planning to bring military --

MS. PERINO: A little bit too early for us to preview, since we don't even have the bill yet and we don't know what day that it's coming. It's important.

Q Yes, but you can get it together.

MS. PERINO: We're pretty good. (Laughter.)

Q Just call it a "no surrender" party. (Laughter.)

MS. PERINO: We'll take that under consideration.

Q A great Bruce Springsteen, "No Retreat, No Surrender."

MS. PERINO: I don't think he'd come. (Laughter.)

Roger.

Q Dana, continuing on the political discourse, Rahm Emanuel is going to have a speech today in which he's going to say that Bush is more corrupt than Nixon in Watergate, and that the government has become a step-child, his words, of the Republican Party.

MS. PERINO: That's really surprising, given the messenger, that this is the speech that he's going to be giving. I heard yesterday, too, that he's going to be calling it part of a grand conspiracy, which I think is the recurring nightmare. But the nightmare we thought we had woken up from is recurring. We thought that the vast right-wing conspiracy was over, and I think that some of the comments that, at least were described to me yesterday from a reporter who had seen the prepared remarks, it sounded a little more like something you would see in the National Enquirer, not at a prestigious American think tank.

And I do think that when you're 100-hour plan is faltering, maybe the best thing to fall back on is a conspiracy theory. But they're usually a little bit better than this one.

Go ahead.

Q Al Jazeera is reporting, in an interview with Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah, that Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden are alive and well, and that Osama bin Laden had directed the attack on Vice President Cheney in Afghanistan. I was wondering if you have any comment or reaction to that.

MS. PERINO: No, I think -- it's an interesting comment from somebody over there. I haven't seen al Jazeera's transcript, and we'll see if we can look into it, but we don't have any comment from here.

Kelly.

Q Did the President have an opportunity to see or review any of the testimony from the Tillman family or Jessica Lynch on the Hill yesterday?

MS. PERINO: I don't believe so, since he was traveling and he had a full day yesterday. And I haven't talked to him today in terms of whether he saw any news coverage of it.

Q Well, maybe if you could check on that -- as the Commander-in-Chief --

MS. PERINO: I would doubt it. I mean, he was on the road all day. He didn't get home until about 8:30 p.m. last night.

Q He was on the road all day when Gonzales testified, too, and he was fully briefed on that.

MS. PERINO: Yes. That's because his Attorney General was testifying, and you guys were --

Q I'm just curious if --

MS. PERINO: -- wanting to know what the President's reaction to the testimony was. And I don't know if he saw any of the testimony. Obviously, he feels very deeply for the Tillman family and what they are going through, and he said so.

Q The allegations made yesterday, there were deliberate attempts to use Pat Tillman's character, popularity, et cetera, and Jessica Lynch also saying that her unfortunate episode was used to try to -- used for PR purposes --

MS. PERINO: I think those accusations were taken very seriously, and that's why the Department of Defense did the extensive investigations that they did. There is no indication that the President had prior knowledge to the question surrounding their circumstances and their aftermath, and obviously the President feels very strongly that the Department of Defense should follow up when there are questions of -- whenever something might have been improperly told from the ground.

Q Does the President feel as though he was deceived on the Tillman and Lynch cases?

MS. PERINO: There's no indication that the President got any word that there was questions surrounding his death, other than what had been reported in the paper. We checked into this, Gordon and I, and there's just no indication. I never asked him if he felt personally deceived, but obviously he's glad that the Department of Defense is trying to find out what happened, and to hold people accountable for it.

Q When you said -- I believe you said that he learned of it from news reports.

MS. PERINO: I was asked by your network yesterday, and I said that there was no indication that he had any prior knowledge before the family would have known.

Q Isn't that a little odd that, if this were the case, the Department of Defense wouldn't let him know?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that that's why there was an investigation.

Olivier.

Q Did you get a chance to see whether there was a reaction to the Hamas armed wing, and an end to the truce?

MS. PERINO: I did not. But I believe that someone has made comments on it from the State Department.

Q State has commented, but just --

MS. PERINO: Okay, we'll see you at 1:00 p.m. -- 12:15 p.m.; 12:00 p.m.

END 10:12 A.M. EDT

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/20...4/20070425.html
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