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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration Officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

White House Chief of Staff Andy Card hosted the first edition of "Ask the White House".

Andrew Card
White House Chief of Staff

April 16, 2003

Secretary Card:
Good evening, I'm Andy Card -- Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush. I welcome you to the inaugural "Ask the White House" online discussion. I am pleased to be here tonight to answer your questions. The Internet is an important communications medium. We have witnessed, especially during Operation Iraqi Freedom, a substantial increase in the amount of traffic to Internet sites as more and more people -- worldwide -- are relying on the internet for information.

We see the "Ask the White House" series as another way for our citizens to interact with the White House. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and answering your questions during tonight's online discussion.

With that, I'm happy to begin . . .

Russ, from Cookeville TN writes:
Please step us through how you learned about the second plane hitting the World Trade Center on 911, your informing the President of this, and the seconds and minutes immediately following. Thanks.

Secretary Card:
I was with the President in Sarasota, FL on 9/11. Just as The President was entering a room with elementary students, we were informed about a single plane hitting one of the World Trade Center Towers. The President and I thought it was a horrible accident--- a pilot heart attack or something. Once the President was in the room with the students, I received a call from the Situation Room that another plane had hit the second tower. I gathered my thoughts, deciding that the President should know, and succinctly -- two facts one editorial comment. I walked into the room, trying not to be disruptive to the young students and whispered in the President's right ear, "A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack!" I then stepped back so as not to invite a discussion. The President waited for an appropriate moment to excuse himself from the room. We then gathered in an adjoining room to learn more about the situation. It was an unbelievable day.

Adam, from Concord, NH writes:
Good evening, Mr. Card, as White House Chief of Staff what path or paths would you say are necessary for someone to take who aspires to play a similar role to yours in Government. I know you worked in McDonalds all through college but what would you recommend after that? Thank you.

Secretary Card:
One does not apply to be a President's Chief of Staff. I certainly never expected to have the opportunity. I am trained as an engineer. Got involved with political campaigns. Served in local government in Holbrook, MA and in the Massachusetts House. I ran a forgetable campaign for Governor of MA and then was invited to work in The White House for President Reagan and then President Bush 41... Advice--- get involved in helping with campaigns and keep following your moral compass.

Michael, from Lansing, MI writes:
Is there any indication that you would reconsider raising the terror alert to high, or possibly even severe?

Secretary Card:
The national alerts are based on threats and intelligence surrounding those threats. The intelligence community - CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and its agencies which include the Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs, meet to discuss threats. The Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge in consultation with the Attorney General and the Directors of the FBI and CIA informs the President of any change in threat status. Future decisions will be made consistent with this process. It is important this decision be based on expert counsel rather than emotion.

Casey, from Quincy, MA writes:
Is there any new information on the location of Saddam Hussein? And can the war be deemed successful in terms of eliminating the security threat to the United States and other countries if Saddam is not killed or captured?

Secretary Card:
He is not likely to be in Quincy, Braintree, or my home-town of Holbrook. I think he is dead. The good news is that his regime is no longer a threat to the people of Iraq nor to the US or our allies.

Lorien, from Denver writes:
Is the White House pleased with the response tot he office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives? How would the response to the availability of grants compare to White House expectations? Are there any future plans for the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives to expand? Does the President have plans to further court religious institutions?

Secretary Card:
Jim Towey who runs the office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives does a great job. The Executive Branch, thanks to the President's executive orders, has increased the opportunity for the government to partner with faith-based institutions to meet the needs of those most vulnerable in our society and communities across the country. HUD, the Department of Education, and HHS have already opened doors of partnership that are making a difference.

Faith-based and community institutions who are working to meet the needs of citizens, are encouraged to contact Jim who will make sure they understand the programs and partnerships that are available.

Glenn MacKay, from PEI, Canada writes:
What position is the U.S. going to take in the North Korean situation?

Secretary Card:
The important thing is that China, Russia, South Korea, Japan and the US work together to keep NK from becoming a greater regional threat. The leader of NK does not treat his people well. Hunger is rampant. The President and the international organization responsible for nuclear issues has recommended that the UN pay attention to the situation. The Chinese plan to participate by hosting a trilateral meeting with the US and NK. It would be great if Russia, Japan and SoKorea could participate too.

Charlie, from Maryland writes:
Mr. Card... As a fellow University of South Carolina alum, the one real question is... How do you think the Gamecock football team do this year?

Secretary Card:
Go Gamecocks!!!! Coach Holtz is the best and has recruited a terrific team. (Beat Clemson!)

George, from Maryland writes:
What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Secretary Card:
The most rewarding part of my job is watching the President make some of the toughest of decisions. He is deliberate, does his homework, solicits advice and counsel, and is not afraid to have quiet contemplation. He is comfortable with his decisions, and makes them in time to be implemented. He's guided by ethics and faith and a belief in the American people.

Bryan, from Orlando writes:
Now that the major part of the war with Iraq is over, what would you say are the biggest challenges ahead for the White House?

Secretary Card:
Jobs, jobs, jobs and a contiued focus on winning the war against terror. We also remain vigilant in protecting the homeland. ----- The growth of freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan will continue too.

Jessica, from Colorado Springs, CO writes:
Does the president and his administration believe that it is possible for an anti-war protestor to still support our troops in Iraq? In other words, can someone who is against the war still be for our troops?

Secretary Card:
The great strength of our Nation is in the diversity of its people, faith and thought. The heroes fighting for us are protecting our Constitutional rights.

Protest is a right in this country. The President (and all who serve in government) took an oath to suppport and defend the Constitution!

Laura Ingraham, from D.C. writes:
Do you have plans to invade France next?

Secretary Card:
Laura ---- Good to read your words. Good job at the rally last weekend. Virginia wine is fine with me.

Sue, from Chicago writes:
Mr. Card, This question is not really part of your responsibility, but the topic is heavy on my mind... Is there any way we can see to it that the civilian Iraqs who were hurt in the war get access to needed medical care and rehabilitation?

Secretary Card:
The US and coalition forces are providing tremendous care in Iraq and on the US ship Comfort and in Kuwait. Allies are sending more field hospitals to Iraq. Civilians as well as Iraqi soldiers are getting the best care. Our soldiers are protecting the hospitals and relief organizations are getting more medical supplies to the region as I write.

George, from school writes:
In your opinion, what is the best way for the United States of America with the assistance of the Bush administration to create more jobs for the nation because the American people have heard time and time again that the answer is stimulate the economy. How does that create new jobs for individuals who have been out or work and who still continue to search for new jobs.

Secretary Card:
Congress needs to pass the Growth Package. It will cut YOUR taxes, generate more employment opportunities with small, medium and large business and encourage more investment in our economy. We need the biggest tax cuts possible!!!!

Melissa, from Hinsdale, IL writes:
My Question is: Since France, Russia and other dissenting countries on the war to free Iraq did not participate or give any aid to the United States and its coalition - will they be excluded from the process of setting up a new government in Iraq and benefits that come from it?

Secretary Card:
The US and our coalition partners will take the lead in rebuilding Iraq. We welcome the UN and other organizations and countries to participate as well. The challenge is historic and it will be met.

Rob, from Canada writes:
How would you describe the White House culture? Are there any specific things about the Bush White House that make it unique from previous White Houses?

Secretary Card:
The President is a very disciplined individual -- in faith, diet, exercise, and dedication to the task at hand. He follows a moral compass and sets a great ethical standard for all of us. The WH staff is not like the TV show -- running and bumping into each other all day. We do our work, enjoy being around each other and love serving this President. Long hours are NOT a challenge, but an opportunity.

Laura, from Duluth, MN writes:
Will the administration do everything possible to prevent looted treasures from Iraqs museums from going on the open market? Will the administration do everything possible to restore these items to the Iraqi people?

Secretary Card:
We are working with museum experts to prevent stolen items from getting into the market. Gen Franks is working with Iraqi leaders to encourage people who have come across stolen goods to return them so the treasures of Iraq will be there for generations to come.

Amy, from Sacramento, CA writes:
Dear Mr. Card: How has the White House changed, based on development of the Internet, from the time that you served under President Reagan up to now. Thank you! The Center for Digital Government

Secretary Card:
The internet is a great resource for the WH staff -- Researching issues. following the news around the globe, and communicating with the troops abroad. We also hear from millions of people through e-mail. Check out everything on our GREAT website (thanks Jimmy) I also get to talk-- at least in writing with folks like you. THANKS.

Secretary Card:
Thank you for your questions tonight. Although we only skimmed the surface of the many questions you submitted, we appreciate your involvement in our first online discussion here at the White House web site. Please continue to log on to and visit -- it is a great resource.

And please join us for future online discussions as the "Ask the White House" forums continue. Tomorrow, Mark Forman, Administrator for Electronic Government, will be available online. And on Tuesday, April 22, Earth Day, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman will host an "Ask the White House" online discussion.

Thanks again for participating. I had a great time and look forward to doing this again in the future.

All the best to all of you,

Andy Card

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