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A: Chuck Blahous, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy:
President Bush is committed to strengthening Social Security for future generations and also making it a better deal for younger workers. The President has called for allowing younger Americans the option of safely investing a portion of their payroll taxes in voluntary personal accounts that they own and control within the Social Security system. Personal retirement accounts give younger workers the chance to receive a higher rate of return from sound, long-term investing of a portion of their payroll taxes than they receive under the current system.

November 22 2004 | 7:15 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Howard from Marysville, Washington:
I am looking for a copy of the 2004 Presidental Thanksgiving Proclamation. Can you steer me in the correct direction please?

A: Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
Hi Howard,

The 2004 Thanksgiving proclamation has not been released yet. When it is, we'll put it on the homepage. In the meantime, other Thanksgiving content including last year's proclamation can be seen here:

October 29 2004 | 1:08 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Vanessa from South Dakota:
I was woundering is it really possible that the Draft could start again if so do you know when?

A: Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:
The President has spoken clearly on this issue -- There will be no draft. The all-volunteer military is performing admirably. Click here to read the President's recent statement on this issue.

October 28 2004 | 5:35 p.m.(EDT)

Q: David from Canton, Ohio:
I just heard on the radio that more flu vaccine is available. Is that right? Where can I find more information?

A: Kristen Silverberg, Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy:

As Secretary Thompson said earlier today, we're continuing to build our arsenal of vaccines and medicines to confront the coming flu season. We are encouraged about the potential for some 5 million doses of vaccine from foreign manufacturers and we're sending our inspectors to those facilities. We're redirecting vaccine originally purchased by the government for federal employees to priority populations throughout the country.

Click here for more information.

October 28 2004 | 10:44 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Fran from Cave City, KY:
I and several other of my friends would like to write a note of support and thanks to President Bush for all he has done and continues to do on behalf of our nation.

A: Andy Card, White House Chief of Staff:
Dear Fran:

On behalf of President Bush, thank you for your email and for your kind words of support. The President is always encouraged to hear from Americans across the country like you and your friends, and he is grateful for all of the people who think of him and pray for him every day. Thank you, again. I will make sure that the President gets your message. Andy Card

October 27 2004 | 6:28 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Patricia from Lorain, Ohio:
Dear Mr. President, Our day care center, Horizon Activities Center, celebrated National Hispanic month by your recommendation. We would like to send you some pictures of our children's celebration and we don't know where you would like them sent to. Please advice us on what office and address you would like us to send them to. We look forward to hearing from you. Our children anxiously await your answer.

A: Heidi Marquez Smith, Special Assistant to the President for Cabinet Liaison:
Dear Patricia: You may mail your items to the White House at the following address: The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 President Bush appreciates your thoughtfulness in sharing your celebration memorabilia. HMS

October 26 2004 | 1:10 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Tom from Livonia, MI:
We are a small manufacturing firm in Livonia, MI. Been in business since 1969. We saw the economic slowdown occurring in August 2000. By August 2002, we ran out of work and layed off 10 of our work force. By May 2003, we re-hired all furloughed.

This year we have added 30 to our payroll with need for 10 more capacity. Our back log is the largest since 1997 and quote levels are up a minimum of 20 from previous year. Business levels are busy and trending upward.

We feel you and your team have provided excellent leadership in very adverse times. If I had one wish, it would be for your continued leadership.

A: John Snow, Secretary of Treasury:
Thanks for writing in, Tom. I'm delighted to hear that your business has come back so strong - that's exactly the kind of turnaround that the President had in mind when he designed tax relief to stimulate our economy.

I'm especially glad to hear that you've been able to add to your payroll. Thanks to employers like you, 1.9 million jobs have been added to America's payrolls over the past 13 months. We have the strongest, most resilient and flexible economy in the world thanks to our small-business owners and entrepreneurs, our outstanding workforce and the simple fact that we operate as a free market. The President's economic policies stimulated growth by tapping into those elements, and your story is a terrific example of the success of that policy.

October 22 2004 | 3:27 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Jennifer from Towson, MD:
What does the President plan to do for the future of Education, besides "No Child Left Behind"? Are there any other programs in the works to help support teachers with their increasingly difficult job?

A: Rod Paige, Secretary of Education:
President Bush, the Congress and I all understand the importance of having a can-do attitude about public education in the United States. We all share the philosophy of holding America's students to high standards and high expectations, and of providing all of them the opportunity to learn. That's why the No Child Left Behind Act received bipartisan support in Congress.

The president's new proposals reflect his desire to continue the culture of achievement and accountability. We want to ensure that our children enter schools ready to learn at a young age, and that they leave ready to enter the 21st-century workplace or higher education institutions, as they choose. That's why he has proposed focusing on early literacy, continuing with the Early Reading First and Reading First initiatives and helping children in middle and high school with the Striving Readers program.

Investment in the education of our nation's youth is a top national priority and effective teachers are the key to fulfilling the promise of the No Child Left Behind Act. Teachers are the true heroes of education, and we are pleased to be able to facilitate the Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative, an exchange of information to help teachers, and ultimately students, achieve success in the classroom. For more information and additional resources, I encourage teachers to visit:

This president, working with Congress, has shown that he understands that resources for students at all levels-whether they be in elementary school or high school-will pay off. We must ensure that our educational excellence starts early and is sustained throughout the entire education system.

October 21 2004 | 3:28 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Marcus from Tulsa:
Is the current administration in favor of tax breaks or federal aid to be afforded to "faith based" groups?

A: Jim Towey, White House Faith Based and Community Initiatives Director:
President Bush believes faith-based and community groups are America's "armies of compassion" and can make even greater contributions to the lives of those in need. He believes they can be partners with the Federal government, not rivals, and that enacting greater tax incentives for more charitable giving will help these groups feed more people who are hungry, house more people who are homeless, and reach out to other Americans in need.

October 20 2004 | 7:02 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Heidi from Grafton, WI:
My mother called me in a panic today, because she heard that President Bush has a plan to privatize Social Security. Is this right?

A: Suzy DeFrancis, Deputy Assistant to the President for Communications:

The President does not favor privatizing Social Security. There will be no changes in benefits for those now in or near retirement.

Under the President's vision for Social Security, the publicly administered Social Security system would still be there. The President favors increased personal ownership and control within Social Security for younger workers.

The President favors giving younger workers the opportunity to save a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes in a personal account which they would own and control, and could use to build a nest egg for their retirement, which they in turn could bequeath to their loved ones.

Social Security must be fixed for our children and our grandchildren. In 1950, there were 16 workers paying into Social Security for each person withdrawing benefits. Today, there are 3.3 workers to support each person on Social Security. By the time today's young workers retire, there will be only two workers to support each person on Social Security. The system that was designed in 1935 will need to be strengthened if it is to support the retirees of 2035.

A number of plans have been put forward that would ensure that full benefits are paid to today's retirees, fix the program for future generations, and give young workers the opportunity to have a Social Security personal account. Each of these proposals would fix the system permanently at less cost than the cost of sustaining the system permanently as it is currently structured.

To repeat: The President has promised that there will be no changes in benefits for those who are now in or near retirement. He also does not favor privatizing Social Security. Those who would say otherwise are scaring our seniors without foundation.

October 20 2004 | 6:52 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Jennifer from Allegan, MI:
In my American Literature class, I'm teaching some of Abigail Adams' letters from when she first moved into the White House. One of my students wants to know how much the White House cost to build, and I couldn't find the answer on the website. Could you tell us how much it originally cost to build? Thank you

A: Gary Walters, White House Chief Usher:
Jennifer, thank you for your question. The first cornerstone of the White House was laid on October 13, 1792. The last cornerstone was laid just about eight years later on November 1, 1800, when the White House was first occupied. Throughout those eight years, the grand total of building the White House was $232,371.83.

October 19 2004 | 2:23 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Bob from Tampa:
What are you doing to improve health care?

A: Doug Badger, Senior Health Policy Advisor:
Millions of Americans lack health insurance coverage today. For them, the anxiety of not knowing how they will find the resources to pay their medical bills is a daily concern. Millions more worry that they might lose coverage if they lose their jobs or change jobs. And while most seniors have prescription drug coverage, millions do not and many are needlessly being forced to choose between their medicines and other life necessities because they don’t about the help that is available to them today through Medicare-approved prescription drug discount cards.

The President’s proposals to make health care more affordable address all of these concerns, from the uninsured child in a low-income household to the senior struggling to make ends meet on a social security check.

In addition to strengthening and improving Medicare and adding prescription drug coverage to the program, the President has:


October 18 2004 | 12:13 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Robert from Ohio:
1)Why do you stand against Stem-Cell research when it has greatpossibilites for health?

2)Why can't you at least give a chance?

A: Margaret Spellings, Secretary of Education:
President Bush is not opposed to stem cell research. To the contrary -- he is the first President to support Federal Funding for embryonic stem cell research.

There are many different kinds of stem cell research, all of which are important to studying disease. Last year, the NIH provided over half a billion dollars for all forms of stem cell research. He has asked NIH to establish Centers of Excellence for stem cell research, which give scientists in this area extra support, and his Administration is establishing a Stem Cell registry, to make sure that scientists can get access to embryonic stem cells quickly.

In fact, more than 500 shipments of eligible stem cell lines have been sent to researchers for this important work. 3,500 shipments, from 22 different genetically distinct lines, are still available.

The President has said only that researchers using taxpayer funds cannot use the funds for research that requires the destruction of an additional human embryo. Researchers can use private funds for any form of stem cell research.

Moreover, many scientists focus on stem cell research that does not require the destruction of a human embryo because it uses cells from placental tissue or bone marrow. This type of stem cell research has already produced treatments for disease, and there are clinical trials underway on new treatments for diseases like parkinsons, multiple sclerosis, and leukemia.

I should also note that stem cells are just one of the many areas scientists are studying for possible cures and treatments for diabetes. Since President Bush took office, funding for all forms of diabetes research has increased by $336 million dollars -- a 49% increase.

October 15 2004 | 5:03 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Roger from Glendale:
I'm hearing rumors of a draft again. Can you set the record straight? Thanks.

A: Jimmy Orr, White House Spokesman/Internet Director:
The President has been very clear about this. And it doesn't get any more clear than last week when the President said, "I want every American to understand that, as long as I am President, there will be no draft." Click here to read the full statement.

October 15 2004 | 1:51 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Laura from Denver:
I would like us to address the problem of frivilous litigation. We are seeing now that many cave in to demands just on the threat of litigation. How can tort reform impact the explposion of litigation? What legislation would be effective? What can the Administration do directly to rein in the explosion of litigation and threat of litigation?

A: Kristen Silverberg, Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy:
Laura -- You're exactly right. The threat of litigation, and the risk of an excessive jury award, can cause even a blameless defendant to decide to settle the case. And the fear of litigation can cause consumers to pay higher costs. Physicians, for example, may overprescribe tests or medication to avoid the risk of being sued. We call this practice "defensive medicine," and it contributes to the $60-$108b a year in health costs attributable to excessive litigation.

The President has proposed the following important reforms to our litigation system:

First, he has proposed common sense medical liability reforms that would allow unlimited economic damages, but cap non-economic damages and punitive damages. These reforms would also require defendants to pay in proportion to their degree of fault.

Second, the President has called on Congress to reform the Class Action system to, among other things, require lawyers to notify class members of a lawsuit in "plain English" and ensure that judges review any settlement that gives class members "coupons" or other non-cash benefits.

Finally, because runaway asbestos litigation has killed jobs and prevented the truly injured from receiving compensation, the President has called on Congress to pass asbestos reform.

October 14 2004 | 11:50 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Judith from Elkton, Florida:
I have an uncle who will be 90 the end of November and I read that you can receive a birthday greeting signed by the president. How can I do that?

A: Heidi Marquez Smith, Special Assistant to the President for Cabinet Liaison:
Heidi Marquez Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Correspondence: Dear Judith, Thank you for your interest in requesting a greeting from President Bush. You may submit a request via fax at 202-395-1232, mail to The White House, Attn: Greetings Office, Washington, D.C. 20502-0039, or by Web Mail located on the White House website at /greeting/. Please make sure to include your uncle's full name with appropriate salutation, date of birth, mailing address, and your (the requestor's) name and daytime phone number. We ask that requests for greetings are received in our office at least six weeks in advance of the event date. At this date I recommend you fax or use White House Web Mail to submit your request. We will make every effort to send the greeting in time for your special occasion. For more information on our guidelines and the types of greetings you may request please visit the White House website at /greeting/.

October 14 2004 | 10:44 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Peter from Richmond, Virginia:
There doesn't seem to be a Fall Garden Tour at the White House this year. Why is that?

A: Sara Armstrong, Director, White House Visitor's Office:
Hi Peter.

Thanks for your timely question. We just announced the dates of this year's Fall Garden Tour. The annual White House Fall Garden Tour will be held on two dates: Saturday, October 23 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 24 from 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. Click here for additional information and details about ticket distribution. We hope you can join us for this annual tradition!

October 8 2004 | 6:32 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Thad from Pittsburgh:
First of all, thank you for providing this forum. Secondly, there is a lot of news coverage on today's job numbers announcement. What is your take on it?

A: Don Evans, Secretary of Commerce:
For the 13th straight month, we've had job gains despite being in a wartime economy. Hurricanes and high energy prices haven't dampened our resilient recovery because America created over 1.9 million jobs since last August.

October 8 2004 | 12:10 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Jumeye from Norfolk State University:
Is it true that by july 2005 we will have a draft? And if we do, how will we be picked?

A: Taylor Gross, White House Spokesman:
Thanks so much for your question Jumeye. We appreciate you visiting the White House web site and using our White House Interactive feature.

With regards to your question, the President has been very clear on this issue. In fact, just last week both the President and the Vice President made sure to point out that this notion there is a plan by the Administration to reintroduce the draft is completely untrue. As the President has said, "we don't need a draft" and "we won't have a draft as long as I'm the President of the United States". While some in Congress, specifically Senator Hollings (D) of South Carolina and Congressman Rangel (D) of New York have sought legislation that would reinstitute a draft, the President applauded the Congress for soundly rejecting it. If this bill had been presented to the President, he would have vetoed it /news/releases/2004/10/20041005-6.html

The President will keep our military all volunteer. In fact, the President has worked to make sure of this by increasing pay and housing benefits for our men and women in uniform and making sure our troops are skilled. As the President has said, "in order to win the war on terror, we need specialized forces. This is specialty work and if you draft, you don't get the specialized force you need."

Thanks again for your question Jumeye.

October 8 2004 | 11:04 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Robbie from Chandler, Arizona:
Does the working family tax relief include single adults also? I have only been hearing about married couples and singles with children.
Thank you.

A: John Snow, Secretary of Treasury:
The tax cuts enacted by President Bush help all taxpayers--married couples, families and singles. Single taxpayers without children benefit from several provisions in the "Working Families Tax relief Act of 2004" including the expansion of the new 10 percent individual income tax bracket and the higher exemption under the alternative minimum tax. Single taxpayers also benefit from a number of provisions included in the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, such as the reduction in tax rates, the lower tax rates on capital gains and dividend income (if they have investment income), higher contribution limits for IRA and 401(k) contributions, and a new deduction for higher education expenses.

October 7 2004 | 10:40 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Tony from Vacaville, CA:
Tax breaks are great for families with children living at home, but what about the parents and families working to put their kids through college?

Colleges and higher education should be looked at as an investment for the future of America but with tuition up across the nation and reductions in funding from the states and the federal government to help with the costs, families are struggling more than ever. What are the movements towards tax breaks or credits for families putting their kids through college?

A: Margaret Spellings, Secretary of Education:
I agree Tony, higher education is a great investment by families and by government. There have been increases in federal funding for higher education, not reductions. The President's FY 2005 budget expands overall, available student financial aid to $73.1 billion, an increase of $4.4 billion or 6% over the 2004 level, and an increase of 55% over the 2001 level. The number of recipients of grant, loan, and work-study assistance would grow by 426,000 over last year to 10 million students and parents. Since President Bush has been in office, total Pell Grant funding for low-income college students has increased by $4.1 billion including the President’s FY 2005 budget, a 47% increase over 2001. In addition, one million more low-income students will be receiving Pell Grants compared to 2001, and the maximum award has increased from $3,750 in 2001 to $4,050 in the President’s FY 2005 budget.

The President also understands that students who are well-prepared when entering college are more likely to succeed and complete their college education. In his FY 2005 budget, President Bush proposed Enhanced Pell Grants, which would provide an additional $1,000 in grants in the first two years of college in addition to the regular Pell Grant for low-income students who complete a rigorous high school curriculum.

President Bush is also a strong supporter of tax relief that allows families to save money for college. The tax relief bill that the President worked with Congress to enact in 2001 not only lets working families keep more of the money they earn right now, but targets additional tax relief to encourage savings for postsecondary education. Specifically, the tax relief bill increased the annual limit on contributions to education savings accounts from $500 to $2,000, and allows tax-free distributions from Qualified Tuition Plans (Section 529 plans) used to pay college costs and permits private institutions to offer such plans. Thanks for writing.

October 6 2004 | 6:34 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Dean from Osawatomie, KS:
Is it true the your Administration is escalating attacks on our environment by letting corportations increase air and water pollution, cut down our wild forest, and destroy our public lands? This information came to me by the Natural Resources Defense Council. If this is what is going on or is planned, will you please have it stopped?

A: Jim Connaughton, Chairman Council of Environmental Quality:
Thanks for the question and the opportunity to respond to some of the myths out there. We appreciate it when interested and concerned Americans, like you, want to find out the facts for themselves. Our air and water quality are continuing to improve, even as our economy is rapidly growing. For example, since 1970, air pollution has been dramatically cut by more than half – while the economy more than doubled in strength. In the last several years alone, power plant emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) have been significantly reduced. We’re going to build on that progress.


October 6 2004 | 11:28 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Linda from Camarillo, CA:
Housing costs in California are highier than ever before. Knowing this, how can President Bush cut funding for programs that provide rental assistance to low income families, seniors, and those with disabilites?

A: Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of Housing & Urban Development:
The Bush Administration is committed to serving those who rent, and we recognize that the Section 8 program is in desperate need of reform. In the past four years, funding for Section 8 has increased by 41 percent, to more than half of HUD’s total annual budget. Unfortunately, the growth in the Section 8 budget does not mean that more families are being served, and it is crowding out funding for programs like those that serve the elderly, people living with AIDS, and the homeless.

We have proposed to strengthen the Section 8 program by allowing local housing agencies more flexibility to run the program provided they serve at least the same number of families. By promoting self-sufficiency and more effective use of subsidy, more families currently on waiting lists will be served. Click here to read more about the President's record of achievement in expanding home ownership.

October 5 2004 | 12:27 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Mike from San Antonio, TX:
I'm 43, married, have three young children, and make just under $75,000 a year. What is today's tax cut going to do for me?

A: John Snow, Secretary of Treasury:
Mike, you and your family will benefit from many of the provisions in the "Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004." First, you and your wife will have relief from the unfair marriage penalty, which taxes you just because you are married. You also will be able to keep more of your hard earned money because of the expansion of the 10% tax bracket. The full $1,000 per child tax credit will be available to you and your family through 2010. As a middle-class taxpayer, you and your family are provided greater protection from the Alternative Minimum Tax Relief by the larger exemption (i.e., the first $58,000 of a married couple's income).

The "Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004" also helps simplify the tax code by providing clear direction for families who qualify for the child tax credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the dependent care tax credit, the dependent exemption and those who file as the head of household.

October 1 2004 | 5:13 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Priscilla from Katy, Texas:
Why are unelected judges given so much authority over such issues as redefining marriage? Who are these judges and is there anything that can be done to stop them?

A: Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General:
In our system of government the role of the judge is to resolve disputes that fall within their jurisdiction. Unless Congress chooses to limit the jurisdiction of federal judges they will resolve disputes such as gay marriage. The President believes that judges should not decide policy for the American people, and he has nominated judges who do not come to the bench with an agenda.

September 30 2004 | 1:55 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Amber from Bremerton, WA:
In response to Rob Nichols answer to the identity theft question - he said the following - "bad news for the criminals that put ten million Americans through a terrible and costly ordeal each year". Uh - ten million? It doesn't take a big brain to figure out that's a ridiculous statement. So I looked it up and according to the FTC website at the number of identity theft victims was 214,905 in 2003. That's a far cry from ten million. Or is Mr. Nichols figuring that 46 of each victim's friends and family share in the terrible and costly ordeal?

A: Rob Nichols, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Public Affairs:
Dear Amber,
Thank you so much for your follow-up! I agree, it is a shockingly large number, but ten million is, in fact, a sound estimate for the number of victims of identity theft. The 214,905 figure you cited from the Federal Trade Commission's Web site is only the number of ID theft complaints filed with the FTC last year, which is just the tip of the iceberg of the total cases nationwide. A comprehensive report conducted by the Commission - and also posted on its Web site at -- estimates that the actual number of ID theft victims is closer to 10 million each year. That means around 1 in 30 Americans are victimized by an identity thief every year, which is why it's so important to bring the criminals to justice. Thank you for your interest in this important issue.

September 29 2004 | 6:44 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Justin from Syracuse:
What's the scoop on a mandatory draft for all men and women from 18-26 years old? I read it is to begin in June, 2005. What's the deal?

A: Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:
As I said last week on "Ask the White House," this is a myth...there are no plans whatsoever for a draft...we have an all volunteer force of wonderful men and women in uniform who are getting the job done. I know this myth is making its way around the Internet, but you can place this myth right up there with Area 51, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, or the myth that the government filmed the moon landing in Nevada.

September 29 2004 | 5:50 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Ken from Palo Alto, CA:
I had thought that the President had weekly broadcasts in Spanish, but from looking at the /radio/ web pages I am not sure if that is true. Do you have lists of Spanish language broadcasts somewhere on the web site?

A: Maria Pia Tamburri, Director of Specialty Media:
Ken, Thank you for your question. Since May 5, 2001, the President's weekly radio address has been available in Spanish. The transcript and the audio can be found on the White House Spanish web site and is posted every Saturday morning at 10:06 a.m. The Spanish address can also be heard on various Spanish radio networks throughout the country. You can locate the President's radio address in Spanish at /espanol/

September 29 2004 | 10:12 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Amanda from New York:
What is the US goverment doing to help the people of Florida due to all of the hurricanes?

A: Mike Brown, FEMA Director:
Life-saving and life-sustaining actions remain the top priority in the areas impacted by Hurricane Jeanne. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is working with the State of Florida and local governments to distribute the water, ice, food, and equipment that FEMA pre-positioned prior to each of the storms. Nearly 5,000 FEMA employees are in Florida working on the response and recovery efforts from these Presidentially declared disasters for Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. FEMA has also filled more than 683,000 applications for Individual Assistance with almost $400 million in payments approved. FEMA has given $1.4 million to Florida for crisis counseling as well for these storms. FEMA continues to take applications at (800) 621-FEMA (3362) and (800) 462-7585 for speech- and hearing-impaired individuals on a 24/7 basis to assist disaster victims.

September 27 2004 | 5:17 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Lisa from West Monroe, Louisiana:
What is the justification for our troops remaining in Iraq? How can we possibly hope to change the issues for the people in Iraq when they do not desire a change? Do we really have a say?

A: Colby Cooper, Director for Communications and Media Relations, National Security Council:
Lisa -

The President has for a long time committed that US troops will remain in Iraq as long as necessary and not one day longer. On Thursday, in the Rose Garden with Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, President Bush spoke to that commitment when he said, "The path to our safety and to Iraq's future as a democratic nation lies in the resolute defense of freedom. If we stop fighting the terrorists in Iraq, they would be free to plot and plan attacks elsewhere, in America and other free nations. To retreat now would betray our mission, our word, and our friends. Mr. Prime Minister, America will keep it's commitments."


September 22 2004 | 1:25 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Katy from Orange, New Jersey:
I heard this morning that Scott McClellan has not met with reporters for more than a month now. What's up with that?

A: Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary:
Katy, unfortunately the truth can be a casualty in an election year. Be wary of nonsensical and inaccurate diversionary tactics. The fact is I participate in question and answer sessions with White House reporters on a daily basis. They include formal and informal briefings at the White House, on the road or at the Crawford, Texas briefing center, and one-on-one interviews throughout the day and into the evening. In fact, there have been more than 37 formal or informal briefings since the beginning of August. Most, but not all, are posted on our White House website at You can imagine I would have heard something from reporters at the White House if only the assertion were true.

September 17 2004 | 4:23 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Dave from Corvallis, OR:
Why has there been no announced support for Russia's recent determination to proactively attack terrorism?

A: Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:

President Bush visited the Russian Embassy on Sunday and discussed terrorism in Russia.
You can read his comments here: /news/releases/2004/09/20040912-1.html

September 16 2004 | 5:58 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Randall from Montgomery, Alabama:
When will the President declare the State of Alabama a disaster area because of Hurricane Ivan?

A: Andy Card, White House Chief of Staff:
Good question, Randall. The President has already declared that a major disaster exists in Alabama. Click here for more information. The President has declared that major disasters also exist in Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

September 14 2004 | 5:54 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Andrea from Fort Myers, FL:
I recently saw a special the History Channel did about the war of 1812. Does the portrait of General Washington that Dolly Madison risked her life to save hang in the White House today? If not, what became of it?

A: Bill Allman, White House Curator:
Yes, the portrait of George Washington that Dolley Madison took with her when she fled the White House in 1814 does hang in the house today. It is on display in the East Room on the State Floor. Mrs. Madison left the White House on August 22, 1814, in advance of British troops who set fire to the White House and other government buildings. In addition to packing and removing cabinet documents and a few furnishings, Mrs. Madison had Gilbert Stuart's 1797 portrait of George Washington removed from its frame and taken safely into the countryside. In 1817, the painting was returned to the newly rebuilt White House. It has remained here ever since with one exception--the portrait was stored at the National Gallery of Art from 1949-1952 during the Truman renovation.

September 10 2004 | 5:58 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Ty from Orlando, Florida:
For the past two years, The President has proclaimed September 11th as Patriot Day and directed the flag of the United States to be flown at half staff. To date, no similar proclamation has been made for September 11, 2004 which is tomorrow. Is there going to be a proclamation this year?

A: Andy Card, White House Chief of Staff:
That's correct. The President signed a bill into law in December of 2001 that designated each September 11 as "Patriot Day." Each year since, the President has issued a proclamation requesting that the people of the United States display the flag at half-staff on Patriot Day and observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. eastern daylight time on September 11, to honor the innocent victims who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In addition, the President has proclaimed each year, "National Days of Prayer and Remembrance," calling on the people of the United States to join together and pray for those who were lost, and for their loved ones. This year, the National Days of Prayer and Remembrance are September 10 through September 12, 2004.

Patriot Day should not be confused with Patriots Day, which is celebrated on April 19th, marking the start of the Revolutionary War with the Battle of Lexington and Concord as well as Paul Revere's "Midnight Ride" on April 19, 1775.

You can find this year's proclamations right here on the White House Web Site.

September 9 2004 | 2:10 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Joseph from St. Louis:
What is the significance of today's declaration that what is happening in Sudan is genocide?

A: Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:
Good question, Joseph. I invite you to read Secretary Powell's testimony from this morning.

September 8 2004 | 5:01 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Nancy from Richmond, Texas:
I am a hardworking, law abiding citizen who has been a victim of identity theft for over five years now and still counting. This is a fast growing dilemma in our society; I was informed that identity theft in my home town (South Texas) has increased by over 30. What is the President doing in regards to this never ending issue?

A: Rob Nichols, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Public Affairs:
In July of this year, President Bush took an important step in the fight against identity theft, the fastest growing financial crime in America by signing the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act which increases the penalties for identity thieves and ensures that those who do the crime will do the time. This bold step is good news for consumers; bad news for the criminals that put ten million Americans through a terrible and costly ordeal each year. This new law will work together with legislation President Bush signed in December that gives consumers, law enforcement, financial institutions and businesses important new tools to help detect when an identity theft has occurred, stop identity thieves in their tracks, and help victims restore their good names. By empowering consumers, law enforcement and American businesses with new ways to fight identity theft, and with the ongoing vigilance of individuals to protect their personal information we are one step closer to putting an end to this despicable crime. Thanks for your question.

August 24 2004 | 11:59 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Dan from Naples, Florida:
Why would President Bush sign any legislation that would tell anyone who is eligible for overtime or not. That is something left to the States and actually more so between an employer and employee upon hire. The Federal Government has no business telling anyone how they can be compensated for the work they have performed.

A: Al Robinson, Acting Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, U.S Department of Labor:
Thanks for your question, Dan. I assume you are referring to the new Overtime Security rule issued by the U.S. Department of Labor. This rule clarifies existing regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and is not actually legislation that would need to be signed by the President.

The Fair Labor Standards Act tasks the Secretary of Labor with updating the White Collar exemptions to overtime. However, significant parts of these regulations had not been updated in more than 50 years.

Under the Department's final rule, 6.7 million working Americans will see their overtime updated and strengthened. Workers earning $23,660/year or $455/week or less will be automatically entitled to overtime regardless of their title or responsibilities. Many workers earning more than $23,660, including police, firefighters, EMT's, and LPN's also have their overtime protection strengthened. Hourly workers, manual workers and blue collar workers are automatically guaranteed overtime regardless of how much they earn.

States are free to enact more stringent overtime rules if they see fit, and a number already have their own overtime regulations in place. In addition, this new rule does not impact workers covered by a collective bargaining agreements.

If you would like to know more about the new Overtime Security Rules, please visit

August 24 2004 | 8:59 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Michael from Towson, MD:
I would like to know more about the faith based initative policies and programs agenda. thank you michael.

A: Jim Towey, White House Faith Based and Community Initiatives Director:
Michael, thank you for your email. Shortly after coming into office, President Bush established the Faith-Based and Community Initiative to level the playing field for faith-based and other community groups in the Federal grants process. It was not a coincidence that this was one of the first actions that he undertook -- the President feels very strongly that the government should utilize every available resource, including the resources of faith-based and community groups, to provide social services to meet the needs of Americans who are suffering. Through the Initiative, we have reached out to thousands of faith-based and community groups to make them more aware of Federal programs and how to participate in them. And through Executive Orders and regulatory reforms, the President is delivering on his promise to remove unnecessary barriers to their participation.

Just this month, President Bush announced nearly $189 million in Federal funding to support the work of organizations serving America's needy, including many faith-based and community social service providers. $43 million was awarded through the President's Compassion Capital Fund, $45.6 million was awarded through the Mentoring Children of Prisoners program, and $100 million through the Access to Recovery drug treatment voucher program. Also, the Departments of Labor, Justice, and Housing and Urban Development are currently designing the framework for the President's proposed four-year, $300 million Prisoner Re-entry Initiative which will harness the resources and experience of faith-based and community groups in helping returning inmates transition back into society.

Just to clarify, you referred to this as the "faith-based initiative" in your email, so I think it is important to note that the Initiative focuses on all types of community organizations -- including both faith-based and secular groups.

I encourage you to visit our website for additional information ( While visiting the site, you can also sign up to receive updates on the Faith-Based and Community Initiative.

August 20 2004 | 12:11 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Daniel from Connecticut:
Why is Tom Ridge in Florida doing hurricane recovery work, when the nation is at Orange level alert? Don't you have more appropriate administration staff to work on housing, electricity, and food issues after a natural disaster?

Is the terrorism threat really so under control that Ridge can spend his day grand standing in FL?

A: Susan Neely, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Department of Homeland Security:
When the U.S. Congress passed the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and established the Department of Homeland Security, the department was designated as the lead government agency responsible for providing a coordinated and comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis such as a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) leads the effort within the Department of Homeland Security to prepare the nation for all potential hazards and effectively manage the response and recovery efforts following any crisis incident. Since last Friday when Hurricane Charley came ashore in Central Florida, FEMA has provided ice, water, food and housing for the victims and has issued more than $7,500,000 in disaster assistance checks to Floridians for temporary housing, housing repairs and other disaster-related needs. FEMA employees have worked tirelessly with state and local officials in affected areas across the state to get victims the help they need and deserve.

As head of the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Ridge traveled to the areas of Florida hardest hit by Hurricane Charley to get first-hand knowledge of the damage that was sustained and the needs of the area residents so that he could better direct the resources of the department to provide an effective recovery effort and to ensure that the emergency response professionals had the equipment they needed to help the victims. The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA are committed to helping Floridians affected by Hurricane Charley rebuild their communities as quickly and efficiently as possible.

August 17 2004 | 12:08 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Michelle from Pennsylvania:
Why did you stop posting video clips of the president's recent speeches on this site?

For instance, today I missed his rather important speech to the VFW, concerning troop relocation from foreign bases. Went to C-Span which apparantly not only didn't carry it live but doesn't have the video clip up. Finally I came here, knowing I probably wouldn't find it, and didn't. Of all places where interested parties should be able to expect to find the president's speeches, the site seems as though it should be it.

A: Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
Good question, Michelle. We do post video of the President's speeches on our site. Unfortunately, we don't have the ability to web cast his speeches from a remote location live, i.e.: off the White House grounds. While technically this is easy to accomplish, we don't have the resources to web cast remote speeches live. So, we have to wait until the actual videotape arrives back at the White House before we can post it. This is something we continue to work on and hopefully we will be able to web cast all speeches live soon

August 13 2004 | 4:49 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Cathie from Wisconsin:
In the President's State of the Union address, he mentioned funding would be available for programs which helped/assisted individuals who were released from prison or mental health instutitions to get re-established in the communities. I am trying to finding the grant requirements and guidelines for submittion. Please let me know where I can locate this information. In advance, thank you for your assistance.

A: Jim Towey, White House Faith Based and Community Initiatives Director:
Cathie, Congress has yet to fund this initiative - we hope they do so in the appropriations cycle that is upon us. We have asked $75 million for fiscal year 2005. You can visit our web site if you want additional information, or status reports. But we won't know anything until October - January (depending on when Congress finishes this year's work).

August 13 2004 | 4:33 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Elizabeth from Boston Mass.:
I have a Question for whitehouse Press Secretary Scott McClellan? I was wondering when President speaks to the media he always calls on a person named Stretch. Who is that?

A: Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary:
“Stretch” is the President's nickname for White House correspondent Dick Keil of Bloomberg News. Dick has covered the President since the 2000 campaign. Dick is an avid long distance runner who is somewhere around six feet five inches tall -- hence the nickname “Stretch.”. When the President calls on “Super Stretch,” he is referring to White House correspondent Bill Sammon of the Washigton Times, who towers over Dick by an inch or two.

August 13 2004 | 3:08 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Gregory from Weston, Fl:
How is it that a Supreme Court Judge, who is to represent the american people, is not appointed by the american people. If the House does not want the person in office whom the President picks, all they have to do is have a filibuster. let's cut this out, and put this in the hands of the people, not some parties Special Interest!

A: Judge Al Gonzales, White House Counsel:
Thanks for your question, Gregory. To answer the question we must turn to the United States Constitution. Section II of Article II provides that the President shall nominate, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, Judges of the Supreme Court.

August 13 2004 | 1:35 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Jim from Ozark, MO:
I would like to help Iraq prosper and possibly profit myself by exchanging US dollars for Iraq dinars. My bank can't exchange dinars. Where is a trustworthy place to exchange into dinars and what are your thoughts about this? (besides the risk of losing all my dollars)

A: Tony Fratto, Deputy Assistant Secretary - Public Affairs, U.S. Department of the Treasury:
The introduction of the new Iraqi currency is one of the most important economic reforms to have taken place in Iraq. After years of a depreciating currency -- in fact Iraq had two currencies circulating -- we were able to introduce a new, stable currency in Iraq last year. To date the new currency has been really successful, it's very popular in the country and has remained strong. The Central Bank of Iraq conducts currency auctions daily so that the market will set the value of the currency. At this time, however I am not aware of banks in the United States that hold Iraqi dinars for foreign exchange. This could change in the future as the volume of travel and commercial exchanges with Iraq grows. I am aware that certain individuals or businesses offer Iraqi dinars for sale over the internet. These sellers may be legitimate, but we cannot vouch for the authenticity of the dinars they are offering for sale. The new iraqi dinars are made with modern security features, like watermarks and coloring, but these do not completely eliminate the risk of counterfeiting. Until Iraqi currency is available for purchase by regulated financial institutions, I recommend exerting caution before purchasing Iraq currency.

August 12 2004 | 1:02 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Angela from Laurel, Mississippi:
What will be the fate of the Head Start program? I am concerned because I work in both settings (Head Start and school districts) and I know the preschoolers will not receive the comprehensive services from school districts if things change.

A: Terrell Halaska, Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy:
The President believes that every child can learn, and that children who start Kindergarten ready to learn have a much better chance of succeeding in school and in life. Through the Good Start, Grow Smart Early Childhood Initiative, the President set a goal that every child enter school ready to learn.

To help prepare the nearly one million children take part in the Head Start program every year for school, HHS has trained more than 50,000 Head Start teachers in research-based early learning skills, has successfully completed the first year of the National Reporting System, to start bringing accountability to Head Start grantees -- Nearly 500,000 children were assessed at the beginning and end of the school year to determine which grantees made the most progress in preparing children for school.

Also, this summer Head Start is training 3,000 volunteer parents in early literacy skills -- so they can work with Head Start parents and children throughout the country. In addition, the President has proposed that states be given a greater opportunity to coordinate Head Start with state pre-K and child care programs.

August 10 2004 | 5:00 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Bernard from Syosset, N.Y.:
Has this administration actually invited international oversite of our national elections? If so, under what authority or mandate?

Respectfully submitted by this Korean War veteran recipient of only one Purple Heart decoration.

A: Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:

Let me first begin by thanking you for your service in the Korean War -- which as you know is the "forgotten war" to many. Because people like you made sacrifices, people like me have a great nation to live in. Thanks.

As to your question, here are some facts that I think will help.

In Copenhagen in 1990 the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE), agreed to allow fellow OSCE members to observe elections in one another’s countries.

The U.S. is a member of OSCE. And just as it did for the Presidential elections in 1996 and 2000 – and the mid-term elections in 1998 and the 2002 elections -- the U.S. has invited an OSCE election observer team to observe this fall’s Presidential elections. The OSCE did not send observers in 1996, 1998 and 2000 although they were invited.

The OSCE's Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) did send election observers to Florida for the 2002 midterm elections, and to California for the 2003 gubernatorial elections. The 2002 election observation mission consisted of 11 international observers (and included one U.S. citizen) and met with the Federal Election Commission, staff of the Senate Rules Committee, the Helsinki Commission, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and representatives of civil society in Washington, D.C.

In Florida, the mission met with the Assistant Secretary of State and the director and staff of the Division on Elections, county executives and Supervisors of Elections, representatives of the Republican and Democratic parties, and representatives of civic organizations with special interests in the election process.

On Election Day, the Mission deployed teams in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough and Duval counties.

In the past, the OSCE has observed French presidential elections (April-May 2002), Spanish parliamentary elections (March 2004), and U.K. elections for the Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (May and November 2003).

The U.S. serves as a model for democratic systems and, as it has in the last two Presidential elections, wants to invite OSCE observers to view our free and fair elections. We are delighted to have our partners in the OSCE view our election process which serves as a model for other nations who seek to reform their systems to include free and fair elections.

August 10 2004 | 12:55 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Shannon from Virginia:
Is there a link that gives the times for the upcoming "Ask the White House" sessions? Thank you.

A: Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:

Not really. Of course, if you go to, you will be able to see the upcoming and previous chats. And we promote the upcoming chats usually a day out on the main "Ask" page and on the home page (

The reason for this, is that everyone's schedules are fluid and there is a lot of juggling going depending on what is happening on that day. So rather than promote someone three or four days out, and then unfortunately have to cancel, we choose to promote the day beforehand.

For example, Sean McCormack and Harriet Miers are both appearing on Ask the White House tomorrow (Wednesday). We have another guest scheduled for Thursday, but we'll wait a day before promoting.

It would be better for the visitor to have a schedule, I know. But when we've tried to do that, we've had to cancel or postpone a few too many times. But I would have to say, that if you look at the past year's guests, we've done a pretty good job in keeping this section of the site updated.

Our goal, a guest every single day of the week. Not quite there yet, but we're moving in the right direction.

August 9 2004 | 3:12 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Stanley from Phoenix, AZ:
President Bush has Air Force One. Does the Vice President have an airplane or does he fly commercial airlines?

A: Kevin Kellems, Assistant to the Vice President for Communications:
The Vice President travels on a plane known as Air Force Two. The plane is a modified Boeing 757-200 known in the Air Force as a C-32. This plane also is used by other senior officials such as the First Lady and members of the President's Cabinet, but it is only called Air Force Two when the Vice President is on board.

The aircraft has an interior that is designed to accommodate the working needs of the Vice President, his staff, Secret Service, and Air Force personnel. The Vice President has a stateroom on the airplane that includes a desk, telephone, and television. Air Force Two can travel long distances without refueling due to its enhanced fuel efficiency.

August 5 2004 | 5:11 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Lynn from Novato, CA:
What is the United States planning to do about the situation in Sudan?

A: Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:
Thanks for the question, Lynn. I invite you to read this column by Secretary Powell which discusses what the U.S. has done and is doing in Darfur, Sudan. It appeared in this morning's Wall Street Journal.

August 4 2004 | 3:42 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Joseph from Port Huron, MI:
Is it true that Lincoln's bedroom is haunted? I have heard many stories about his ghost being seen in the room at night.

A: Sara Steele, White House Deputy Internet Director:
We interviewed White House Residence staff about White House ghost stories last Halloween. Check out

August 4 2004 | 2:26 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Melinda from Kansas City, MO:
Is there a way to receive the Barney picture of the day via email? Is there a distribution list I could subscribe to? It would be great to have one.

A: Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
We have received many emails on this topic. I just checked with the technical folks and they tell me that this feature will be available next week.

August 4 2004 | 12:01 p.m.(EDT)

Q: James from Toledo, Ohio:
How do i get tickets to vist the whitehouse in late september?

A: Sara Armstrong, Director, White House Visitor's Office:
Thank you for your question about visiting the White House. Public tours of the White House are available for groups of 10 or more people and can be arranged through your Member of Congress. Tours are scheduled on a first come, first served basis approximately one month in advance of the requested date. I would suggest that you submit your request through your Member of Congress as soon as possible, since we are already scheduling tours for the month of September and there are a limited number of tours available. All White House tours are free of charge and are scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information about White House tours, click here We hope you enjoy your visit to our nation's capital.

August 3 2004 | 3:31 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Vicki from California:
I'm a teacher in a small, private middle-school and represent many home-schooled students. Are there any Presidential Academic Awards or Honors that deserving students can be nominated for? Where could I find out more?

A: Nina Rees, Deputy Under Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, Dep. of Education:
Yes, the Dept. has a President's Education Awards Program and a Presidential Scholars Program that recognize students, whether they are in homeschools, private schools, or public schools. The programs are administered by the recognition section of OIIA.

1. The President's Education Awards Program (formerly, Presidential Academic Fitness Program). Schools decide what children will get awards, based on program criteria, and apply to the program for certificates and pins. In the case of homeschooled children, the homeschool must be approved for its curriculum by a LEA or SEA. The homeschool parent can then apply to the program for certificates and pins. Information on the program is at

2. The Presidential Scholars Program. This program is administered by OIIA, under a Presidential commission. Homeschooled and private school students, along with public school students, are eligible, and several have won. This is a very selective program. Students are not nominated. Rather, they are automatically considered if they score exceptionally high on the SAT or ACT. Information on the Presidential Scholars Program is at

August 2 2004 | 10:29 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Molly from Washington, DC:
My English Bulldog Sasha loves to go for rides in the car. Does Barney ever go for rides in the car with the President?

A: Blake Gottesman, Personal Aide to the President:
The President likes to go for rides around his ranch in his pickup truck (it's the only place he can really drive himself) and Barney often goes with him in the truck. This photo was recently taken of the President with Barney at the ranch.

July 30 2004 | 6:00 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Barbara from Bowling Green Public Library:
What must I do to have the "President" send a birthday card to a wonderful full-time wife and mother who will be 90 years old on October 26, 2004?

A: Heidi Marquez Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Correspondence:
Dear Barbara, Thank you for your interest in requesting a greeting from President Bush. You may submit a request via fax at 202-395-1232, mail to The White House, Attn: Greetings Office, Washington, D.C. 20502-0039, or by Web Mail located on the White House website at /greeting/. Please make sure to include your mother's full name with appropriate salutation, date of birth, mailing address, and your (the requestor's) name and daytime phone number. We ask that requests for greetings are received in our office at least six weeks in advance of the event date. At this date I recommend you fax or use White House Web Mail to submit your request. We will make every effort to send the greeting in time for your special occasion. For more information on our guidelines and the types of greetings you may request please visit the White House website at /greeting/.

July 30 2004 | 12:00 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Stephen from Arizona:
Recent legislation was sent to the president for his signature, H.R.218. This was a law enforcement act giving sworn police officers the right to carry concealed weapons across state lines without restrictions imposed by individual states. Was it in fact signed into law by the president? Thank You

A: Ginger Loper, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs:
Yes, H.R. 218, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 was signed into public law (PL 108-277) on July 22, 2004. This law allows retired and off-duty law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms in the hope that they may be better able to respond to crime and help protect innocent lives.

July 29 2004 | 4:15 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Stephani from Livermore, California:
I was wondering if there is a way to send any encouraging mail to the Italian Prime thank him for standing firm and let him know that so many Americans are praying for him as well? Thank you for helping me know how to go about this.

Sincerely, Stephani

A: Colby Cooper, Director for Communications and Media Relations, National Security Council:

I would recommend sending it to our Ambassador to Italy. Thanks for your email and your support.

The Honorable Mel Sembler

Embassy of the United States of America
via Vittorio Veneto 119/A
00187 Roma, Italia

July 28 2004 | 3:27 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Jackie from Morgantown, West Virginia:
Does Barney ever eat dessert?

A: Roland Mesnier, White House Pastry Chef:
No, I don't give Barney desserts because it is against the rules and regulations. The President and First Lady have requested that we do not feed Barney because we want to keep Barney slim and trim like everyone else in the residence.

Why should he get fat?

But Barney has a way of getting his own dessert. If he happens to see me in the elevator or anywhere in the White House, he runs to my shoes and starts licking them.

Guess why? There is sugar on my shoes, and buttercream and chocolate. Barney absolutely loves it. He would know my shoes among thousands of other shoes.

July 27 2004 | 4:17 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Andrea from Cincinnati, OH:
Once the President leaves office, can he/she be employed in another occupation? Why can't a President run for another political office after they leave the Presidency? Is there a law stating that they can't either run for political office again or work in any other industry? Thanks.

A: Ruben Barrales, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs:
Presidents can still work after leaving office, and more than a few have. For instance, Former President Gerald Ford has served on corporate and charitable boards since the end of his Presidency, and former President Jimmy Carter has embarked on a second career as a humanitarian and leader with groups like Habitat for Humanity. Since the ratification of the 22nd Amendment in 1951, no person may "be elected to the office of the President more than twice." But former Presidents can still run for or serve in other public offices, and a number of them have. To cite just a few examples, former President John Quincy Adams had a distinguished post-presidency tenure in the U.S. Congress, and former President William Taft served as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

July 23 2004 | 2:38 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Kathleen from Ventura, California:
I got into a debate with a friend after reading the book 'Deception Point' by Dan Brown. Is there any truth to the section about switching the carpet in the Oval Office when the country is at war or peace? Specifically, the American Eagle's talons facing left toward the olive branch in peace and right toward the arrows at times of war. I personally think it's fiction but my friend is insistent that it is a fact. Thank you

A: Bill Allman, White House Curator:
There is just one Seal of the President at any given time, and it does not change according to whether or not the United States is at war. However, the Seal has undergone modifications over the years. President Truman modified the Seal in 1945, and the changes included turning the eagle's head to face its right as opposed to its left.

A press release issued after the new design was approved said, "In the new Coat of Arms, Seal and Flag, the Eagle not only faces to its right--the direction of honor--but also toward the olive branches of peace which it holds in its right talon. Formerly the eagle faced toward the arrows in its left talon--arrows, symbolic of war."

Although the eagle featured in the Presidential Seal has faced its right ever since, there are items in the White House collection that were made before 1945 that display the eagle facing its left (such as state services, furnishings, architectural elements, etc.)

July 23 2004 | 11:10 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Lauren from Queens, NY:
How far in "advance" does the Advance staff go for an event? What sort of things do they make sure are ready for when the President arrives?

A: Greg Jenkins, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Advance:
About five days ahead of the President on a domestic trip. Ten days for an overseas stop. We are responsible for every minute of the President's schedule from wheels down to wheels up. We build events, work with locals, prepare for the local and national media, organize all logistics ... the list is very long and differs based on the nature of the event.

July 22 2004 | 4:20 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Ty Miller from Davenport IA:
Why is the United States not doing anything in Sudan? To see so many people being killed and us not doing anything about it, really disturbes me.

A: Colby Cooper, Director for Communications and Media Relations, National Security Council:
What is happening in Sudan is horrific and we are acting with great urgency to stop it. We have called on all parties to the conflict to respect the April 8, 2004 cease-fire, as well respect the rights of civilians, and allow unhindered access of humanitarian assistance to the people in need (of which the United States is the largest provider). The United States is also continuing to provide strong support to the ongoing negotiations between the Government of Sudan and Sudan People's Liberation Movement. During his June 29-30, 2004 visit to Sudan, Secretary of State Powell gave the Sudanese Government a list of specific actions that need to be taken -- he made clear that the U.S. will press for a strong United Nations Security Council resolution. We are, and will continue to very closely monitor the situation on the ground.

July 22 2004 | 3:29 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Nick from Rockford, MI:
I ask this question everyday almost, but have yet to get an answer. What is the difference between an Assistant Secretary, a Deputy Secretary, and an Under Secretary? Thanks.

A: Brian Montgomery, Deputy Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary:
In all cases, a Deputy Secretary is the number-two person at a Cabinet-level agency after the Secretary, so in the Secretary's absence, the Deputy Secretary is in command. Typically, a Deputy Secretary is in charge of the operational side of a department or agency.

In some cases, Cabinet agencies are so large and programmatically complex that they utilize an Under Secretary to oversee groups of Assistant Secretaries. For example, the State Department, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense all utilize several Under Secretaries.

Most Assistant Secretary positions within a Cabinet agency oversee functions such as public affairs, legislative affairs, policy, and the like, while others are in charge of an program division like Community Planning and Development (Dept. of Housing and Urban Development) or Land and Minerals Management (Dept. of the Interior).

Cabinet Secretaries, Deputy Secretaries, and Under Secretaries all require Senate confirmation as do most Assistant Secretary positions. Thank you for your question.

July 21 2004 | 12:58 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Steve from Las Vegas, Nevada:
How long do the Marines have to stand at the entrance to the West Wing? Thank You.

A: Admiral Michael Miller, Director, White House Military Office:
Marine Sentries fall under the operational control of the White House Military Office. Their primary purpose is to greet and assist guests of the President entering the West Wing; this courtesy is extended to all persons entering or exiting the West Wing when they are posted. Currently there are four Marines Sentries assigned to the White House Military Office that stand post for 30 minutes at a time - shorter if there is inclement weather.

July 20 2004 | 12:58 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Marcus from Oaktown:
I love the photo of the President's note which says, "Let Freedom Reign!" My question is to Eric Draper, White House photographer. How did this shot come about? Can you give us some background on it?

A: Eric Draper, White House Photo Director:
When I saw a piece of paper being passed to the President, I knew what was written on it would be important to document. Later, I photographed the note's contents after receiving a message from the White House Press Office that they had it for me at our hotel in Istanbul. I simply placed it on an easel I found in an office there, near a sunny window. It was a thrill for me to hold a piece of history in my hands.

July 19 2004 | 3:54 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Donna from Baton Rouge, Louisiana:
Years ago there was an address one could write to for the president of the United States to send a birthday card to someone 80 years of age or older. I cannot locate the address. My grandmother will turn 90 on August 12th and I would love to request the card.

A: Heidi Marquez Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Correspondence:
Dear Donna, Thank you for your interest in requesting a greeting from President Bush for your grandmother for her 90th birthday. You may submit a request via fax at 202-395-1232, mail to The White House, Attn: Greetings Office, Washington, D.C. 20502-0039, or by Web Mail located on the White House website at /greeting/.

Please make sure to include your grandmother's full name with appropriate salutation, date of birth, mailing address, and your (the requestor's) name and daytime phone number. We ask that requests for greetings are received in our office at least six weeks in advance of the event date. At this date I recommend you fax or use White House Web Mail to submit your request. We will make every effort to send the greeting in time for your special occasion. For more information on our guidelines and the types of greetings you may request please visit the White House website at /greeting/.

July 16 2004 | 5:03 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Gregory from Kenosha, WI:
I turned to the internet for information on government grants or low interest loans to get a home inspection business off the ground and found a large number of sites purporting to provide "guaranteed acceptance" government grants...for a nominal fee of course. What government site or agency can I contact to learn more?

A: Hector Barreto, Administrator of U.S. Small Business Administration:
You did the smart thing by being cautious about any site that 'guarantees' grants or loans for a fee. The U.S. Small Business Administration can help you get started on the path toward capitalizing your new venture. The first step you might want to take is to visit our Web site at There you can learn about various SBA loan programs - like 7(a) and the 504 program - and how they might apply to you and your new business. Next, you should contact your local SBA office (there is at least one in every state) and speak directly with a specialist there who can better explain how to best go about getting your business capitalized. They might direct you to one of our partners, like SBDC or SCORE, who specialize in offering free, professional counseling to entrepreneurs. Those experts may in fact tell you that you don't need an SBA loan, and that some other source of capital would be a better fit for you. Or they may tell you that the SBA is the place for you. Either way, they can help you prepare to apply for that loan or grant, and get your business off the ground. I hope this answer is helpful, and good luck with your new business!

July 16 2004 | 4:23 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Ty Miller from Davenport IA:
Why is the United States not doing anything in Sudan? To see so many people being killed and us not doing anything about it, really disturbes me.

A: Colby Cooper, Director for Communications and Media Relations, National Security Council:
What is happening in Sudan is horrific and we are acting with great urgency to stop it. We have called on all parties to the conflict to respect the April 8, 2004 cease-fire, as well respect the rights of civilians, and allow unhindered access of humanitarian assistance to the people in need (of which the United States is the largest provider). The United States is also continuing to provide strong support to the ongoing negotiations between the Government of Sudan and Sudan People's Liberation Movement. During his June 29-30, 2004 visit to Sudan, Secretary of State Powell gave the Sudanese Government a list of specific actions that need to be taken -- he made clear that the U.S. will press for a strong United Nations Security Council resolution. We are, and will continue to very closely monitor the situation on the ground.

July 16 2004 | 3:53 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Kyle from Atlanta, Georgia:
Scott, You do a great job at your news conferences. I was wondering if you could tell me who April and Les(Don't know their last names) work for. Keep up the good work for the President! Kyle

A: Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary:
Kyle, I appreciate your kind words and your support for the President and his agenda. April Ryan is the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Network, and Les Kinsolving hosts his own radio talk show which is broadcast in Baltimore.

July 16 2004 | 11:52 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Erin from Mesa, Arizona:
Do you feel that the Iraqi interim government is doing a good job with security?

A: Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary:
Look at the statements from the leadership of the interim government. They have made a firm commitment to go after the terrorists and go after those who are a continuing security threat to the Iraqi people. They are determined to improve the security situation and bring about a free, democratic, and peaceful country for all the Iraqi people.

There's certainly been some positive signs in terms of the Iraqi security forces addressing these ongoing security threats. You have the police force going after and rounding up some of those who seek to derail the transition to democracy, so you can look at their actions to see that this is a government and country that is determined to rout out the terrorists and rid itself of those former Saddam loyalists who continue to seek to derail the transition to democracy. And we're going to be there to work with them along the way and partner with them to address these security threats.

July 15 2004 | 11:00 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Tracy from PA:
It has been told there are several past President's still lurking in the shadows of the White House. Has any of the current residents seen any of these ghosts?

A: Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
We put together a special Halloween page last year where we discussed the myths of ghosts at the White House.

Click here -- -- it is a fun page...

July 14 2004 | 5:44 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Sam from Salem, Mass:
Before it became the Press Briefing room, there was a pool adjacent to the White House which Nixon had filled in. I heard once that this pool was tiled with dimes by Roosevelt, in honor of his March of dimes to find a polio vaccine. Is this true?

A: Gary Walters, White House Usher:
The West terrace pool was built in 1933 for Franklin D. Roosevelt to exercise as polio therapy. It was paid for by a newspaper campaign soliciting contributions large and small, like the March of Dimes, but we have no record that it was a March of Dimes project and it was not decorated with dimes.

It was a very simple pool, 50 x 15 feet, of graduated depth. In 1961, President Kennedy's father comissioned a painting of the Virgin Islands to be hung on the walls around the pool to enliven what had been a rather austere space. The painting was removed when the pool was covered over in 1969 and returned to the Kennedy family.

July 13 2004 | 5:51 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Pamela from Cape Coral, Fl:
How do I find an application for The American Dream Downpayment Initiative fund?

A: Alphonso Jackson, Secretary of Housing & Urban Development:
The American Dream Downpayment Initiative is an exciting new program to help first-time homebuyers overcome the biggest obstacle to homeownership: high downpayments and closing costs. Last year, President Bush signed into law legislation creating the program, and $161.5 million is now available to help new homebuyers all across the country--in fact, more than $8 million has been reserved for families and individuals in your state of Florida.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has created a website to help future homebuyers who are interested in receiving assistance through the American Dream Downpayment Initiative. You'll find it at

Owning a home is truly the American Dream. Best of luck to you, Pamela, in making your dream a reality.

July 9 2004 | 6:20 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Randy from Eunice, Louisana:
How can I sign up to get emails from the White House?

A: Neil Zimmerman, Associate Director, Office of Strategic Initiatives:
Thanks for the question - I always love a chance to plug White House E-mail Updates. You can sign-up by following this link.

Every Friday we send out a Weekly Review newsletter, available in both plain text and HTML format. The Weekly Review provides a summary of President Bush's remarks, initiatives, and other notable events around the White House and throughout the Administration. Subscribe today!

July 9 2004 | 2:21 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Long from Shermer High:
What's happening with the West Wing? I was there a couple months ago and saw scaffolding, hammering and whatnot.

A: Gary Walters, White House Usher:
The work occurring the north side of the West Wing is part of the comprehensive restoration of the exterior of the East and West Wings begun in 2002 by the Executive Residence.

The project includes the stripping of all paint, restoration of all masonry and wood surfaces, restoration of all the windows including insulating glass and UV filtering film, and the application of new paint. These photos show progress made from early May, 2004 through today (July 9, 2004).

July 9 2004 | 1:46 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Keith from Columbus, Ohio:
Why does the administration have such names as "clear skies" initiatives, and other programs that truly neglect the environment with corporate interest's coming first? We know that many more good jobs can be started by being more proactive in protecting the environment, and by intitiating bold energy policies that create alternate forms of transportation. Why does the Bush administration aviod such things?

A: Jim Connaughton, Chairman Council of Environmental Quality:
Thanks for the question, Keith. It touches on issues of high importance and about which there is significant misinterpretation. As said before on "White House Interactive". we all share the same goal of improving the environmental quality of our country and ensuring responsible stewardship of our natural resources. Today, it is no longer an issue as to whether to protect the environment, but instead it's how much, by when, and using the best tool for the job. Most differences only lie in how we accomplish our shared goal.

You should know that air pollution was cut by almost half over the last 30 years, while the economy more than doubled in strength. Our policies build on that success. As President Bush said, "With the landmark Clean Air Act of 1970, our nation set high goals for air quality. And this administration strongly supports those goals. I believe that by combining the ethic of good stewardship and the spirit of innovation, we will continue to improve the quality of our air and the health of our economy and improve the chance for people to have a good life here in America".

Clear Skies legislation and the related Interstate Air Quality Rule are great examples in that they accomplish just what you and millions of Americans are asking for - sustained economic growth (new jobs) while being, to use your words, "proactive in protecting the environment". Clear Skies will cut pollution that causes smog, soot and acid rain by approximately 70 percent. This is an historic proposal that will bring cleaner air to Americans faster, more reliably, and more cost-effectively than what's being achieved under current law. The emissions trading program created by Clear Skies will create an economic incentive to reduce emissions early. It replaces a cycle of endless litigation with rapid and certain improvements in air quality. Every major coal-fired power plant will be in the program and the power sector will spend nearly $50 billion to come into compliance with our clean air policies that help States comply with the new national health-based air quality standards. You can learn more by visiting and

With respect to "initiating bold energy policies". President Bush introduced his Hydrogen Fuel Initiative in 2003 that will make it possible for the first car driven by a child born today to be powered by pollution-free fuel cells. Coupled with the FreedomCAR partnership, it is providing $1.7 billion over five years to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cells, a hydrogen infrastructure, and advanced automobile technologies that emit no greenhouse gases and will help reduce the country.s dependence on foreign oil. Visit and to learn more. The United States is also sponsoring, with international and private-sector partners, a $1 billion, 10-year demonstration project to create the world's first coal-based, zero-emissions electricity and hydrogen power plant (FutureGen). This project is designed to dramatically reduce air pollution and capture and store greenhouse gases. Visit for more information.

We are also making significant strides in cutting pollution from diesel engines and reducing the sulfur content in diesel fuel. In May, we finalized a rule that will dramatically reduce pollution from heavy-duty diesel engines used in construction, agricultural, and industrial equipment. Soot and NOx emissions will decrease by more than 90 percent by 2014, and the sulfur content of diesel fuel will be cut 99 percent by 2010. You can learn more at

The President is also calling for $4.1 billion in tax incentives through 2009 to spur the use of clean, renewable energy, and energy-efficient technologies, such as hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles, residential solar heating systems, renewable energy produced from landfill gas, wind, or biomass, and efficient combined heat and power systems.

July 8 2004 | 11:34 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Brandon from BYU-Hawaii:

I have always wandered if there is a red phone located in the oval office like on the orignal Batman TV series and if there is what is it used for



A: Gary Walters, White House Usher:
We have no evidence of a red phone. If it were a "hot-line," it may have been concealed in a desk drawer. The various generations of regular desk phone were: black (prior to Kennedy, Nixon-Ford, and Bush 41-present), turquoise (Kennedy-Johnson, or white (Carter-Reagan).

July 7 2004 | 11:21 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Virginia from Conroe, Texas:
I was wondering if there was a "virtual" tour of the Whitehouse. I was on tours there years ago and I would like for my grandchildren to see it.

A: Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
Hi Virginia

There are viritual video tours of the White House and the West Wing available on our web site. Click here

This is one of the most popular sections of the web site

July 6 2004 | 4:03 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Roseanne from Storm Lake, Iowa:
First of all, I want to wish a happy birthday to President Bush! Were there any special activities planned at the White House? Thanks!

A: Andy Card, White House Chief of Staff:
Thank you for your thoughts. I will pass them on to the President.

He has been overwhelmed with birthday greetings today. The press pool even burst into an during his meeting with the Prime Minister of Iceland.

President George W. Bush, at 58, is in great physical, mental and emotional shape. When he arrived in the Oval Office very early this morning there was a spring in his step and he had a clear vision for America.

The staff celebrated the President's birthday with the President's family and friends July 4th. We presented the President a three volume leather-bound set of correspondence between Winston Churchill and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

July 6 2004 | 2:33 p.m.(EDT)

Q: J. J. and Kathy from Cottonwood, AZ:
Happy Birthday Mr. President! Our country is truly blessed to have such a compassionate and caring visionary leader. We hope that this year is your best yet! May God bless you and continue to guide your actions. J. J. and Kathy Cottonwood, AZ

A: Laura Bush, First Lady:
Thanks so much for wishing The President a Happy Birthday. I'll pass on your message.

July 2 2004 | 11:06 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Jim from Cleveland, Ohio:
Is the Terrorist threat level looking to be raised for this 4th of July weekend?

A: Tom Ridge, Secretary of Homeland Security:
While we do not have any specific credible threat reporting that terrorists are planning to target July 4th celebrations, we know that the homeland remains a top al-Qaida target. During the holiday weekend, Americans can be assured that there will be security, especially at those events where large crowds will gather.

We encourage the American public to celebrate this occasion, but as always, keep a watchful eye for items left unattended or suspicious behavior and report any incidents to local authorities immediately.

July 1 2004 | 3:45 p.m.(EDT)

Q: John from Cupertino, CA:
I recall that when King George VI visited FDR, they had an open-car procession down Pennsylvania Ave. When did they stop hosting parades for state visits? Now it's just a South Lawn ceremony...

A: Bill Allman, White House Curator:
President Franklin D. Roosevelet and King George VI of England processed from Union Station to the White House during the roayl couples' state visit in 1939. That parade was one of many events stated in honor of King George and Princess Elizabeth, and was an exception rather than the rule for all formal visits. The state arrival ceremony as we think of it today was begun during the Kennedy administration, when President Kennedy changed the location of the formal welcome ceremony from Andrews Air Force Base to the South Lawn of the White House.

June 29, 2004 | 6:14 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Kelvin from Texas:
The genocide in Darfur is very troubling. The White House should escalate this issue with the Sudanese government, the American people, and to other countries throughout the world. What actions is the White House taking to relieve the suffering of the people in Sudan?

A:Colby Cooper, Director for Communications and Media Relations, National Security Council:
Kelvin - Thank you for your question. In fact, the White House released a statement today on this situation:

The President is deeply disturbed by the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Darfur region of Sudan. He has directed Secretary Powell to travel to Darfur to urge the Sudanese Government to heed the concerns of the international community and find a quick resolution to the crisis. Secretary Powell will be in Khartoum on June 29 and Darfur on June 30.

The United States has led the world in identifying and responding to this crisis. The President, the National Security Advisor, and the Secretary of State have all called for the Government of Sudan to end the crisis now. The United States had identified the nascent crisis by April 2003, and a senior official went to Darfur in October 2003 to alert the world. To save lives, we have delivered approximately $116 million in assistance and pledged a total of almost $300 million.

The United States played a pivotal role this year in negotiating the April 8 ceasefire and negotiating the entrance of African Union monitors. The Administration will continue to seek Security Council attention to this grave issue. It is time for the international community to coordinate its response and not allow a human catastrophe of this magnitude to unfold.

The United States calls upon the Sudanese Government to act urgently and decisively to neutralize and disarm the Jinjaweed and to reverse the crisis and create conditions that will allow the displaced to return home safely and with dignity.

The Bush Administration calls on all parties to the conflict in Darfur to adhere to the ceasefire, to respect the rights of civilians, to allow the free movement of humanitarian workers and relief supplies, and to work in good faith toward a negotiated settlement.

June 25, 2004 | 2:50 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Jim, from Central Ohio:
In response to a comment made by Colby Cooper to "Zach" from Florida....How exactly DID Iraq become the "central front in the war on terror"? Whatever happened to Osama bin laden anyway? I was born and bred here and I love this country but come on guys.....what are we doin here? Can these resources not be better utilized by protecting our own borders rather than continuing in Iraq? Or better yet, actually taking out bin Laden himself??? We are losing a lot of good kids over there. Why?

A: Colby Cooper, Director for Communications and Media Relations, National Security Council:

The President and this Administration, as I am sure every American, grieves heavily at the loss of any of our men and women who are fighting and working for the cause of freedom. We live in a new era with new challenges. Freedom is under attack and this country must not stand idly by while our security is put in jeopardy. We are working to better protect America and that protection does not stop at our borders. We must take this fight to the terrorists, where they live and operate. Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, because the terrorists have made it that. They do not want to see democracy flourish and freedom prevail. Let me remind you of the words found in a memo by a senior al-Qaida associate named Abu Musa.ab Al-Zarqawi who is operating in Iraq.

"There is no doubt that our field of movement is shrinking and the grip around the throat of the Mujahidin has begun to tighten. With the spread of the [Iraqi] Army and Police, our future is becoming frightening... [As of January 2004] I have completed 25 of these operations, some of them against the Shi.ia and their leaders, the Americans and their military, the Police, the Military, and the Coalition Forces... This region is our base of operations from where we depart and to where we return..."

We need to remain resolute in our mission -- defending our ideals and ways of life. As President Bush said on April 13, 2004, "I also have this belief, strong belief, that freedom is not this country's gift to the world; freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world. And as the greatest power on the face of the Earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom. We have an obligation to help feed the hungry. I think the American people find it interesting that we're providing food for the North Korea people who starve. We have an obligation to lead the fight on AIDS, on Africa. And we have an obligation to work toward a more free world. That's our obligation. That is what we have been called to do, as far as I'm concerned. And my job as the President is to lead this nation into making the world a better place. And that's exactly what we're doing."

So Jim, I have to believe that Afghanistan and Iraq and the 50 million people who inhabit those countries are better off today because of the actions taken by President Bush. The citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan have been given a renewed sense of hope and an opportunity to live and grow in an open society where there are civil and human rights...Free and open societies are less likely to breed ideologies of hatred and the bottom line is... With Afghanistan and Iraq free and democratic this world will be safer and America more secure.

June 24, 2004 | 2:29 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Zach, from Gainesville, FL:
What is the point of fighting a war on terrorism? I understand that our country is no longer the fortified place that it was in past years, and that we too are vaulnerable, but here is the fact. you are never going to eliminate every terrorist. it just is not going to happen. I think that many lives would be saved if the US just pulled out of Iraq.

A: Colby Cooper, Director for Communications and Media Relations, National Security Council:
Zach -

That is exactly what the terrorists want us to do and pulling out of Iraq, the central front on the war on terror, would mean victory for the terrorists over the ideals of freedom. The terrorists who are operating inside Iraq understand the stakes are high and that when Iraq is stable, secure and democratic -- that one more operating base has been taken away. The war on terror is about taking the fight to the terrorists, where they live and operate. It is also about changing ideologies, freedom does not breed hatred and terror. I draw your attention to what President Bush said during his remarks to the graduating cadets of the United States Air Force Academy on June 2, 2004...

"Some who call themselves "realists" question whether the spread of democracy in the Middle East should be any concern of ours. But the realists in this case have lost contact with a fundamental reality. America has always been less secure when freedom is in retreat. America is always more secure when freedom is on the march.

All our commitments in the Middle East -- all of the four commitments of our strategy -- are now being tested in Iraq. We have removed a state-sponsor of terror with a history of using weapons of mass destruction. And the whole world is better off with Saddam Hussein sitting in a prison cell. We now face al Qaeda associates like the terrorist Zarqawi, who seek to hijack the future of that nation. We are fighting enemies who want us to retreat, and leave Iraq to tyranny, so they can claim an ideological victory over America. They would use that victory to gather new strength, and take their violence directly to America and to our friends. Yet our coalition is determined, and the Iraqi people have made clear: Iraq will remain in the camp of free nations."

And, a note about our men and women in uniform... We appreciate, value and honor their commitment and sacrifice in defending freedom. They are the heroes in this war and they have our gratitude as they defend our values and way of life.

June 24, 2004 | 9:52 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Boomer, from Michigan:
Hello, on CNN it was noted that, this would be the first time a Senator's portrait has hung, in the White House (referring to Senator Clinton). I'm not sure that this entirely accurate. Wasn't John Quincy Adams elected Senator, after his term as President ended?

A: Bill Allman, White House Curator:
The portrait of Hillary Rodham Clinton is the first of a sitting United States Senator to hang in the White House.

Andrew Johnson was the only former president to serve in the Senate after his term as president, but he served only briefly--March 4, 1875 until his death on July 31, 1875. His posthumous portrait for the White House was commissioned five years later in 1880.

John Quincy Adams was the only former president to serve in the House of Representatives after his term as president--March 4, 1831 to his death on February 23, 1848. His posthumous portrait for the White House was commissioned ten years later in 1858.

Fifteen of the presidents served in the Senate before becoming president, including John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson, so technically their portraits are one-time senators.

June 23, 2004 | 11:26 a.m.(EDT)

Q: James, from Swansea:
Just a comment I thought I'd write about the war on terror.
As the Great Winston churchill said.


We will win the war on terror eventually. Good always prevails.

A: Colby Cooper, Director for Communications and Media Relations, National Security Council:

Thanks for your note and your support. It is critical that we, the United States, remain steadfast in our resolve to defeat the enemies of freedom, the terrorist only need to be right once... We need to be right 100% of the time. I would also like to respond to your note with a quote from our President George W. Bush.


The President said on March 19, 2004, "The establishment of a free Iraq is our fight. The success of a free Afghanistan is our fight. The war on terror is our fight. All of us are called to share the blessings of liberty, and to be strong and steady in freedom's defense. It will surely be said of our times that we lived with great challenges. Let it also be said of our times that we understood our great duties, and met them in full."


June 22, 2004 | 12:26 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Michael, from North Merrick, NY:
I am working with my daughter on a project regarding the Flag of the US. One of the questions that I can't find the answer to is 'What does it mean when the flag is not flying at the White House?' I have looked on many web sites and count not find an answer. Then I figured, let's see if the White House Staff could help. Thank you for your assistance.

A: Tim Saunders, Executive Clerk:
Well, that's an interesting question, as the flag of the United States flies over the White House every day of every year, 24 hours a day. I'm guessing you might have viewed the flag at half staff one time and were not able to see the flag from the location you were standing.

June 21, 2004 | 5:03 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Jesse, Raleigh, N.C:
Why is our government fighting so hard to destroy our natural resources such as the big trees in southern Oregon? So much time and money was spent in Miami fighting Greenpeace when they are just exercising the right of free speach. Why is our current administration so anti-environment? Thanks for your time.




A: Jim Connaughton, Chairman Council of Environmental Quality:

Thank you for your questions and the opportunity to clarify for you the Bush Administration's approach to protecting -- and improving -- our environment.

I think you'll find that underneath the misrepresentation of our efforts by some special interest groups, we all share the same goal of improving the environmental quality of our great nation and ensuring responsible stewardship of our natural resources. These days, the issue is no longer whether to protect the environment, but how much, by when, and using what tool is best for the job. Most differences lie in how we accomplish our shared goal.

The Bush Administration stands behind the philosophy that a dynamic economy will provide the resources and innovation that will bring about strong environmental progress. We've seen that progress over the last 30 years as air pollution declined by nearly half while the U.S. economy more than doubled in strength. We propose and implement policies that encourage innovation and investments in newer, cleaner technologies, and programs offering incentives to improve faster, as opposed to the old way of thinking that required prolonged conflict and litigation. Most Americans know from their own experience that newer is usually cleaner, more efficient, safer, longer lasting, and requires fewer resources to deliver better performance.

With regard to your point about trees in southern Oregon, we actually are trying to save the trees from being destroyed by catastrophic wildfires. The Healthy Forests Restoration Act aims to do that by strengthening public participation in developing high priority forest health projects; reducing the complexity of environmental analysis allowing federal land agencies to use the best science available to actively manage land under their protection; providing a more effective appeals process encouraging early public participation in project planning; and issuing clear guidance for court action against forest health projects. The legislation, which the President signed last December, specifically protects old-growth trees. In the long-term, communities and wildlife will be safer as we reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires, like the ones that have occurred in Oregon in recent years. This approach was supported by an overwhelming bipartisan group of congressmen, senators and governors - including the Oregon delegation.

June 21, 2004 | 1:29 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Donald Finney, Indianapolis, In:
As a proud grandparent of one of the players in last sunday's tee ball game, I was wondering when the photos would be posted on the web.

A: Eric Draper, White House Photo Director
Thanks for your question, Donald. Here is a tee-ball photo essay from this weekend's game. (click here). Hope you enjoy it.

June 18, 2004 | 2:26 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Mary from Loganville, Ga:
I am a Mother with a son in Iraq. I believe in George Bush and our country and all the values we have been taught. My faith is in God and I just want Mr. Bush to know we love him and appreciate the work he is accomplishing everyday as our President.


A:Condoleezza Rice, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs:
Thank you for your note. More importantly, we appreciate and thank your son for his service and sacrifice to this great nation and thank you for the sacrifice you, as a caring mother, are also making.

Because of the efforts of your son, his fellow soldiers and members of the coalition, one of the most brutal and evil regimes is gone forever. 25 million Iraqis have been liberated and they are beginning to experience democracy and civil rights they have never seen before. A free Iraq will no longer be a threat in the world's most volatile region - a free Iraq will make the world safer and America more secure.

Thank you again for all that your son is doing.

June 18, 2004 | 11:10 a.m.(EDT)

Q: David, Spokane:
A couple days ago, before President Bush held a press conference with the Afghan Prime Minister, I noticed a lot of people running around preparing for the event. What happens before and after a press conference?

A:Erin Nagle, Communications Coordinator:

Actually, the Press Availability in the Rose Garden was with President Karzai of Afghanistan. You probably saw a live bump on one of the networks that later covered the event. The event was a joint press availability which means that President Bush and the visiting leader read statements and then answered questions from members of the press.

You probably saw photographers and reporters getting ready for the event. Usually, there is a 2 minute warning for the press and some of them use that time to do live stand-ups from their position in the Rose Garden. You may have also seen the U.S. and Afghan delegations come out to their viewing area after their meeting with the leaders.

As soon as the event is over, we try to clean-up as quickly as possible. We take the press back to the Briefing Room and then take down the stage, flags, podiums, etc. Usually, most of the 'running around' takes place right before and right after an event.


June 18, 2004 | 09:49 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Devin, Eaglewood, CO

Bishop Elementary School
3100 S. Elati
Englewood,CO 80110

Dear President Bush,
I wanted to talk about the Tropical Rain Forests. When I was in a group with three people Tyler, Kippy, and Daniel we read about the Tropical Rain Forest. We read that by 2005 the south American Tropical Rain Forest will be gone because people keep using it as a resource facility. I'm afraid if we don't try to save it and it gets used up they'll come to our country and use our's as a resource facility.

My group and I are doing a class project on the Tropical Rain Forest. Tyler and I have some ideas. My ideas are to put a security station near by. If people want to see the Tropical Rain Forest they have to check in at the security station. They'll have to go through a metal detector. When they go into the Tropical Rain Forest they have to where plastic shoes.

Another idea of mine is to surround the Tropical Rain Forest with security guards. When the people come to the security guards they have to empty out all their metal. When they go inside they should wear plastic shoes. Tyler's idea is metal alarms. If somebody sneaks through and they have an ax and they hit the tree the alarms will go off. Obviously, you can see this is important us so I hope you can do something about it.

Grade Four.

A:Jim Connaughton, Chairman Council of Environmental Quality:

Hi, Devin!

I am so happy, and I know the President would be, too, that you and your class are learning about tropical rainforest protection. This is a very important issue, one that we take seriously and are working on here at the White House. Thank you for sharing your ideas with us.

There are a lot of ways to protect, or conserve, rainforests around the world. For example, President Bush is a strong supporter of the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, which helps countries redirect their debt payments toward local projects to help protect tropical forests. To learn more, please visit /news/releases/2001/04/20010423-2.html, and /news/releases/2002/03/20020323-6.html for an example of how it works.

President Bush thinks that one of the best ways to help protect rainforests is for the United States government to work closely with other countries that have rainforests, such as the developing nations in South America and Africa, to help their governments create programs to fight illegal logging - timber that is harvested, transported, processed or sold against a country's laws.

The United States has been a leader in educating people and governments about this terrible problem, and is finding the solutions to take care of it through a variety of cooperative efforts with those countries. President Bush.s Initiative Against Illegal Logging expands those efforts by helping to improve law enforcement, getting the local communities in those countries involved, sharing our environmental technology with them, and helping the legal businesses that are regulated by their countries. governments.

You can learn more about this great program at /infocus/illegal-logging/.

We are also the largest supporter of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, which helps countries in Africa.s Congo Basin fight poverty and illegal logging, enforce anti-poaching laws, improve how local governments work, and conserve natural resources by supporting national parks and protected areas. Participating countries include Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, the United States, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the European Commission.

You can learn more about the Partnership at its Web site,

June 17, 2004 | 11:10 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Mimi, California:
How tall is First Lady Laura Bush?

A:Gordon Johndroe, Mrs. Bush's Press Secretary:
Mrs. Bush is 5 feet, 6 inches tall. She's just a few inches shorter than the President, so when the two of them speak at an event together, there's a hidden step that comes out of the podium for her to stand on. When she introduces the President, he pushes the step in with his shoe when it's his turn to speak.

June 17, 2004 | 11:00 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Kris, Nashville, TN:
What are the President's plans on "medical informatics" and the future of medicine? I feel that there has to be a better way to have a nation wide secure data base that medical professionals may retrieve medical records for patients that may have been seen in various, unrelated hospitals. Currently, it takes multiple faxes and phone calls to other facilities, which in turn slows the care for sometimes critically ill people. I understand the arguments against placing medical records online. However, wouldn't you want your family member's known medical diagnoses to be a point-and-click away to ensure the best care and followup? I know I would.

A: Alan Gilbert, Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy
Thank you for that great question. The President recently announced his plan for helping doctors and hospitals adopt health information technologies, and I am pleased to respond.

President Bush believes we should strive to make sure that most Americans have electronic health records within the next 10 years. Why? Too much money is spent each year on medical treatments that are unnecessary, inappropriate or ineffective, and too many Americans die or are harmed each year because of preventable medical errors.

An emergency room doctor needs real-time access to the right information in order to make the right decisions about care of a seriously injured patient. This kind of information is not readily available today to most doctors. In fact, it is a testament to our physicians and other providers that they deliver high-quality health care with a 19th Century, paper-based system.

The President supports health information technology as a way to reduce medical errors -- and reduce health care costs. In May, President Bush visited Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, to see these technologies in use. Vanderbilt is a leader in health information technology, and uses its system to prevent doctors and other providers from ordering the wrong medication or duplicative tests. Approximately 10,000 electronic orders are placed on their system every day -- 70 to 80 percent generated directly by physicians. Vanderbilt is harnessing the power of health information technology to dramatically improve the care it delivers to patients, and reduce its costs.

President Bush wants every American to have the same benefits that Nashville residents currently enjoy. Under his leadership, the Federal government has worked with the private sector to identify and endorse uniform standards -- to make it easier for Vanderbilt Medical Center to share a patient's medical information with a hospital in Crawford, Texas, for example. The President also has proposed to double to $100 million the amount of money for demonstration projects to test the effectiveness of these systems, and created a high-level health information technology coordinator to develop a strategic plan and recommend actions that the federal government may undertake to foster greater adoption.

Finally, let me just say that the President does not believe the use of these technologies should come at the expense of an individual's right to privacy of their private medical information. Americans should not have to worry about their personal medical information being used inappropriately, and President Bush strongly supports privacy rights for personal health information.

June 16, 2004 | 3:10 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Janice from Chicago, Illinois:
Does Barney like to take baths?

A:Dale Haney, White House Horticulturist:
Barney does not like to take baths, but he will tolerate it. Once he is placed in the sink, he knows a bath is coming and he won't move. He'll just stand there and put up with it.

June 16, 2004 | 1:07 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Russ Warner from New Hampshire:
In his June 3rd press gaggle, Scott McClellan refers to Andrew Card as Secretary Card. Exactly what is Andrew Card secretary of?

A:Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary:
Thanks for your question. Andy Card has a long record of public service, including serving in the Reagan administration and both Bush administrations. The first President Bush appointed him to serve as Secretary of Transportation. Although I know Secretary Card is quite happy for people to address him as Andy, most White House staffers tend to address him as Secretary Card or sometimes "Chief." I think it is out of respect for his service as well as admiration for the great job he does overseeing the White House as Chief of Staff.

June 15, 2004 | 5:08 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Frank from Florida:
Why do politicians always refer to the general public as "The people of the United States" or merely "The American People." Would it be so inappropriate to refer to "us" as the "The American Citizens" of our Country or "Citizens of the United States?." After all, though we are both "The People" of the United States, a more defining phrase for us is the "The Citizens of this great Country, The United States of America."

A:Noam Neusner, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Speechwriting:
You're right, Frank -- there are many ways to define "the American people." And your way of describing the citizens of this great nation would be perfectly appropriate. That said, many political leaders -- including President Bush -- prefer using terms that are more familiar and less wordy, which is why you hear the phrase "the American people" more often than not. Thanks for your question.

June 15, 2004 | 12:46 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Regis from Stevens Point, WI
When are you going to do something about the national debt. It is 7.1 trillion right now today. This is a crime. You must bring the countries expenses in line with tax collections. I can't run my families budget in a negative balance and hope to survive.

A:Joel Kaplan, Deputy Director White House Office of Management and Budget:


President Bush is working to ensure that what the Federal Government spends more closely matches the Federal Government's revenues. But it is important to remember what we've been through in the last three years.

The Federal budget--like America itself--is in solid shape considering the extraordinary strain placed upon it: a stock market collapse that began in early 2000; a recession that was fully underway by early 2001; revelation of corporate scandals; and, of course, the September 11th attacks and ensuing War on Terror.

The President is committed to spending what is necessary to provide for our security--even if it means running a deficit for a while--and restraining spending elsewhere. Since September 11th, 2001, more than three-quarters of the increase in discretionary spending has been directly related to our response to the attacks, enhanced homeland security, and the War on Terror. The President's 2005 Budget continues this spending trend: significant increases in funding our security programs combined with a dramatic reduction in the growth of discretionary spending unrelated to security.

With Treasury receipts only beginning to reflect a recovering economy--and major ongoing expenditures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the War on Terror--we still face a projected $521 billion deficit for the 2004 fiscal year. Although a legitimate matter of concern, that size deficit, at 4.5 percent of the economy (Gross Domestic Product), is not historically out of range. Deficits have been this large or larger in six of the last 25 years, including a peak of 6.0 percent in 1983.

The Administration remains committed to dramatic deficit reduction in the coming years. With continuation of the President.s economic growth policies and sound spending restraint as reflected in the 2005 Budget, our projections show the deficit will be cut by more than half over the next five years. Indeed, our projections show the deficit falling from 4.5 percent of GDP in 2004 to 1.6 percent by 2009--which is also well below the 2.2 percent average deficit during the last 40 years. By cutting the deficit in half, we will slow the growth of the Federal debt.

Thanks for writing.

June 15, 2004 | 9:47 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Lisa from Leesburg, VA:
Someone asked what "G8" stood for, but your answer did not include what "G8" means. What does the G stand for? Why is it only 8 if nine entities were represented this time?

A:Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:
G8 means "Group of Eight," meaning 8 nations...there were more nations present this time because the new Iraqi President attended, as did leaders from African nations and several Middle East leaders...

June 14, 2004 | 6:17 p.m.(EDT)

Q: David Miller from Philadelphia:
Today President Bush hosted former President Clinton and his wife Hillary for the unveiling of their official portraits. What part of the White House will these portraits be displayed?

A:Gary Walters, White House Chief Usher:
President Clinton's portrait will hang in the Entrance Hall where President Bush's portrait is now, but they will exchange places so that President Bush hangs on the side of the Grand Staircase. President Kennedy's portrait will be moved to the west end of the Cross hall to replace F.D. Roosevelt.

Roosevelt will replace the portrait of Woodrow Wilson on the east wall of the Grand Staircase, and Wilson will be sent out for conservation. Another portrait of Wilson by Seymour Thomas already hangs in the East Wing, so Wilson will not go unrepresented.

The portrait of Senator Clinton will replace the portrait of Mrs. Barbara Bush that currently hangs on the east end of the Grand Floor Corridor. All of the portraits on that south wall of the Corridor will move down one space. (Mrs. Bush will replace Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Carter will move down to replace Mrs. Ford, and Mrs. Ford will replace Mrs. Wilson, who will be removed. Mrs. Wilson's portrait may be hung in the East Wing when the Reception Room is refurbished.

June 14, 2004 | 1:44 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Erickson from Washington, D.C.:
Dear Mr. or Ms. "Personal Aide to President":

Does your job require you to accompany with the President all time 24/7?

Do you have a deputy aide to President whenever you want to have a day off or vacation time?

What do you do?

Thank you!

A: Blake Gottesman, Personal Aide to the President:
I am not with the President "24/7", but I am fortunate to accompany him on all domestic and international travel (the only exception is when he goes to Camp David, in which case - I only go if he has public events there). When the President is in the office, I sit with his Personal Secretary in an office between the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room.

I don't have a "deputy aide" - but there are persons who can fill in for me, if i get sick, have a family emergency, or am otherwise unable to travel with him.

My goal is to help take care of as much of the little stuff as possible, so that the President can worry about the big stuff. I can't do a whole lot about the economy, the war on terror, or education. I can try, though, to help make sure that the President's mind is free to worry about those things and not about whether we are running late, where his speech is, about changes to the next event, whether someone on his staff is trying to reach him, when he is going to eat lunch, etc. If you're interested in learning more about my job, Brad Patterson wrote a book titled "The White House Staff: Inside the West Wing and Beyond" which, if my memory serves me right (it's been a while since I read it) has a pretty good description of the role of the Personal Aide to the President.

June 11, 2004 | 5:33 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Paula from Annapolis, MD:
Where can I find a program of the memorial service for President Reagan that would list the music played during the service?

A:Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:

Thanks for your email. I found the program by going to the National Cathedral web site. Click here to review the program.

June 11, 2004 | 4:39 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Erin from Cincinnati, Ohio:
What does "G8" stand for? What is the mission of the G8?

A:Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:
President Bush this week hosted the 30th G8 Summit at Sea Island, Georgia. The United States assumed the Presidency of the G8 from France at the beginning of 2004. President Bush, Chairman of the 2004 G8 Summit, is looking forward to the opportunity to meet with the G8 Leaders in the informal and relaxed setting of Sea Island, Georgia.

The G8 Summit brings together the Leaders of the world's major industrial democracies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The European Union also attends the G8 Summit, represented by the President of the European Commission and the Leader of the country holding the Presidency of the European Council. At previous Summits, Leaders have discussed a wide range of international economic, political, and security issues.

The G8 began with a 1975 Summit in France of six countries ( France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States). Canada joined the group at the San Juan Summit of 1976, and the European Community began participation at the London Summit of 1977. Starting with the 1994 Naples Summit, Russia attended the political sessions and at the 1998 Birmingham Summit, Russia began participating in all sessions.

The Presidency of the G8, and responsibility of hosting the G8 Summit, rotates each year. Italy hosted the G8 Summit in Genoa in 2001, Canada hosted in Kananaskis in 2002, and France hosted in Evian in 2003. The United Kingdom will host the G8 Summit in 2005 and Russia will host in 2006.

Sea Island is located on the southern portion of the Georgia coastline, 80 miles from Savannah, Georgia. Previously, the United States hosted G8 Summits in Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico (1976), Williamsburg, Virginia (1983), Houston, Texas (1990) and Denver, Colorado (1997).

June 11, 2004 | 1:06 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Nancy from North Conway, NH:
We need to know when to return the flags at our resort to full staff. I have read several news reports which state once President Reagan is interred (after 10:30 ET or so Friday night), I have also read that tradition states the flags should be lowered for 30 days for a President. Can you tell me what the government plans and what private citizens and businesses should do?

A:Tim Saunders, White House Executive Clerk:
Thanks for your question. The flag code (title 4, United States Code, section 7) states that flags shall be flown at half-mast for 30 days from the day of death of a former President. Individuals and private concerns are certainly invited to join in this observance.

June 11, 2004 | 11:00 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Mary:
Why have you stopped putting Scott McClellans press briefings on the White House website? The last one posted is May 28. Why no more? Thanks.

Please keep posting them

A:Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
Hi Mary,

Thanks for your email. We really do appreciate the feedback from the public.

We do post Scott's press briefings on the White House web site and when Scott briefs from the Press Briefing Room, we webcast these briefings live.

Scott hasn't had a briefing (or gaggle) since June 3, 2004 due to the G8 Summit in Georgia. There were many briefings at the conference, however, and can be accessed on the G8 Summit page: /g8/

Press Briefings do not happen every day, but when they do occur, we put them up.

Thanks again.

June 11, 2004 | 9:25 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Soren from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:
Will President Reagan's funeral be viewable via the internet?

A:Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
Yes, the service will be webcast this morning here on the White House web site at 11:15 (eastern time).

June 10, 2004 | 12:17 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Kathy from Chesterfield, Michigan:
Are churches being asked to ring their bells across the country for President Reagan's funeral? If so, when, and how should they be rung?

A:Tim Saunders, White House Executive Clerk:
Yes, President Reagan's family has asked that churches participate in the ringing of bells at the end of tomorrow's funeral service for President Reagan. As Ronald Reagan was the Nation's 40th President, the family has asked that bells be rung 40 times. The funeral is scheduled to end around 1:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). I would suggest watching the TV broadcast to best coordinate.

June 10, 2004 | 11:54 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Margaret from San Jose, California:
What is the definition of a state funeral, and how is it decided to bestow that honor?

A:Peter Sobich, Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Cabinet Secretary:
By law, former presidents are afforded a state funeral upon their death. While tradition and protocol greatly influence the funeral planning, the exact sequence of events is largely determined by the family. However, most state funerals, including those for Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson have included the following events: repose in home state before traveling to Washington, D.C.; formal funeral procession in horse-drawn caisson along Constitution Avenue to U.S. Capitol; repose in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol; memorial service in Washington, D.C., and then travel to final resting place for internment. In the case of President Reagan, this will be at his Presidential Library located in Simi Valley, California.

June 9, 2004 | 9:47 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Toni from Beaver Creek, Colorado:
With President Reagan's death, what is the rule for American flags?
Does the President have to state all flags must be lowered? If so, how long must they be lowered for?
In addition, if the President doesn't order all of the flags to be lowered, can individuals decide on whether or not they would like to lower their flag?

A:Tim Saunders, White House Executive Clerk:
Upon the death of a former President, the "flag code"
(4 United States Code, section 7) states that flags shall fly at half-staff for 30 days -- the flag code is designed to provide guidelines for the display of the flag.

Traditionally, the President then issues a proclamation "officially" informing the people of the United States, directs all Federal flags to be flown at half-staff over Federal facilities, and designates a "National Day of Mourning," as a mark of respect and remembrance for the former President. President Bush has designated this Friday, June 11, 2004, the day of President Reagan's funeral, as the National Day of Mourning for President Reagan.

As far as flags generally, the President directs the manner of their display over Federal facilities only -- he does not direct their display over non-Federal facilities. Individuals, other levels of government, and private concerns are simply encouraged to follow these observances.

You can find the President's proclamation here on the White House Web site.

Hope this helps,

White House Executive Clerk

June 9, 2004 | 9:25 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Melody from Mt. Clemens, Michigan:
Which government offices are being asked to close for Friday's National Day of Mourning for President Reagan? Is it just Federal Offices or are state, county and local government offices required to close?

A:Kay Coles James, Director, U.S. Office of Personnel Management:
The Executive Order of President George W. Bush, which closed all executive departments, independent establishments, and other governmental agencies on June 11, 2004, as a mark of respect for President Ronald Reagan, refers only to the Federal Government.

During the National Day of Mourning, the pay and leave policies for Federal employees will be consistent with those in effect on a Federal holiday. The decision as to who must work on a holiday is left to each agency head and may be delegated down to lower levels - just like the decision to designate emergency employees for closings such as those that are weather-related.

June 8, 2004 | 12:03 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Scott from DuBois, Pennsylvania:
What new developments has the President and the White House undertaken to make going to college more affordable?

A:Margaret Spellings, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy:
President Bush's higher education proposals will ensure college students are better prepared, provided greater access to college, and are more successful in completing a post-secondary education.

The President's 2005 budget proposes to increase funding for the Pell Grant program, which provides grants to low-income undergraduate students, by $4.1 billion, or 47%, since 2001. In addition, the number of Pell Grant recipients has risen by approximately one million since 2001, and the maximum Pell Grant has risen from $3,750 in 2001 to $4,050. President Bush also proposes larger Pell Grants, up to an additional $1,000 per year for the first two years, for students who prepare for college with demanding courses in high school - the State Scholars curriculum.

The President proposes establishing a new public-private partnership to provide $100 million in grants to low-income students who study math or science beginning in 2006. Under this plan, approximately 20,000 low-income undergraduate students would receive up to $5,000 each to study math or science.

Since entering office, President Bush has also proposed to increase loan forgiveness from $5,000 to $17,500 for highly qualified math, science, and special education teachers who serve low-income communities.

The President's Fiscal Year 2005 budget would expand overall student financial aid available to $73.1 billion, an increase of $25.9 billion or 55% over the 2001 level. The number of recipients of grant, loan, and work-study assistance would grow by 426,000 to 10 million students and parents.

In addition, President Bush.s FY 2005 budget includes a package of student loan program proposals to make college more affordable for students and their families and to strengthen the financial stability of the student loan programs, such as reduced interest rates for student loans, increased student loan limits, and expanded repayment options.

Coupled with an increase in the overall number of AmeriCorps members, more American youth than ever before will have the opportunity to pay for their education through public service.

June 5, 2004 | 1:54 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Paul from Baltimore, Maryland:
How can I get a copy of the text of President Bush's commencement speech at the air Force Academy, June 2, 2004?

A:Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
The President's speech at the Air Force Academy can be accessed by clicking here. The video is online as well.

May 28, 2004 | 5:02 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Justin from Orlando FL:
How do you become an intern to the President of the United States? Or at least work in the White House as an intern?

A:Ann Gray, White House Intern Coordinator:
Approximately 100 interns are chosen to serve in the White House Intern Program for a fall, spring, or summer term. The program is highly competitive. For the Summer, 2004 class, twenty-five White House offices selected interns from almost 1000 applications. A White House Intern must be an American citizen, 18 years of age, and enrolled in school. An excellent candidate should have: a solid academic record, a history of school or community service, consistent internship/work experience, and a demonstrated interest in serving our President in any capacity. Additional information can be found on the White House website /government/wh-intern.html.

May 28, 2004 | 4:51 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Lorie, Wauwatosa, WI:
Lake Michigan is being polluted at a regular rate because Milwaukee County Metro Sewerage is allowing billions of untreated fecal matter, etc. dumped in during/after each rain storm. This must be illegal yet no-one has done anything about this. Working at the Medical College of Wisconsin I have come to realize the danger of human and animal related spores that will continue to produce in the water of Lake Michigan.

I know that our world is plagued with war in Irag but the problem above affects everyone that shares this lake water for regular consumption. Truth being, some of these illness cannot possibly be caught/treated by the water filtration systems.

Can you look into this matter?

A:Jim Connaughton, Chairman of the Council of Environmental Quality:

Thank you for that good question, Lorie. The Bush Administration is implementing a variety of policies and programs to reduce the amount of waste entering our lakes and watersheds, and also clean up what has already crept in

With regard to Lake Michigan and our other Great Lakes, I'd encourage you to take look at the EPA's fact sheet (available at summarizing everything the Administration is doing to clean, protect and restore areas of the Great Lakes Basin. Most recently, President Bush signed an executive order creating a Great Lakes Interagency Task Force that will, in the words of the President, "address environmental and natural resource issues of national concern and better coordinate the region's sustainable development and restoration. It will harness the collective efforts of the Federal government, Governors, Mayors, Members of Congress, tribes, and citizen stewards to ensure that the greatness of the lakes endures for generations." Over the last two years, the Administration has committed over $1.3 billion for interagency programs to improve water quality in the Great Lakes. To learn more, please visit

With specific regard to cutting water pollution from animal waste, the Bush Administration finalized a rule in 2002 that will require all large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) to obtain permits to ensure they protect America.s waters from wastewater and manure. The rule controls runoff from agricultural feeding operations, preventing billions of pounds of pollutants from entering America.s waters, and applies to about 15,500 livestock operations across the country. In 2002, about 4,500 operations were covered by permits. Because of the new rule, EPA expects that up to 11,000 additional facilities will be required to apply for permits by 2006.

We are also making expanded incentive programs available to farmers in the Great Lakes Basin to address pollution runoff that can get into the lakes, and to restore, improve and protect wetlands and other wildlife habitat. Resources will come from the more than $40 billion available nationwide over the next ten years for conservation programs in the Farm Bill that President Bush signed in 2002.

If you are concerned that your local wastewater treatment facility is not operating properly with respect to human waste, you might bring it to the attention of your local EPA office which oversees these facilities to make certain they are being operated correctly. You are in EPA's Region 5 (

May 27, 2004 | 7:40 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Adam, Salt Lake City:
We all know that the President and his wife live in the White House. I am curious as to where the Vice President and his wife live.

A:Lynne Cheney, Wife of the Vice President:

Thank you for your question, Adam.

The Vice President and I live at "One Observatory Circle" located on the grounds of the United States Naval Observatory, in northwest Washington, DC. The home was first occupied in 1893 by the Observatory's superintendent, Captain Frederick V. McNair, and later became home to chiefs of naval operations (CNO) in 1923.

In 1974, Congress passed a law designating the stately home as the Vice President's Residence. Vice President Walter Mondale and his family became the first vice presidential family to actually move into the home in 1977.

Although our daughters are grown up and have their own homes, Vice President Cheney and I live in the Residence with our two dogs, Dave and Jackson.

For a more comprehensive history, please visit the White House website at /history/life/vpresidence.html, where you can also view historical photos and my online video tour.

May 26, 2004 | 16:22 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Mark, America:
The Bush Regime hates nature. How else to explain the war against our land, water and air? Does anyone there care to explain the totally Orwellian "Healthy Forest" act? To save the village we had to destroy it. Sound familiar?

A:Jim Connaugton, Chairman of the Council of Environmental Quality:

Thank you for the question. You apparently are not aware that the President is an avid outdoorsman and conservationist who enjoys restoring habitat, planting native grasses and reforesting his own land. He also goes fishing, hiking and biking outside as much as his very busy schedule allows.

Congress passed the Healthy Forests legislation by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of support, including both California senators who understand the danger to communities, wildlife habitat, and air and water quality from catastrophic wildfire. For example, the Biscuit fire in Oregon destroyed 100,000 acres of spotted owl habitat. Smoke from the fires also sent numerous people to hospitals. Interestingly, the majority of the 14 senators voting against the legislation are mainly from the Northeast and do not face the same problem with catastrophic wildfires.

The Healthy Forests Initiative improves the ways our lands are managed. For nearly 100 years, the Federal government had taken the unnatural approach of strict fire suppression, which resulted in dense brush, undergrowth and invasive species which choke off nutrients from old growth trees and create the conditions giving rise to the catastrophic fires we see so frequently now. This phenomenon is more fully explained at a /news/releases/2003/12/20031203-2.html and /infocus/healthyforests/toc.html.

Healthy Forests is based on sound science. Government and academic experts in forestry and fires are responsible for the design and management of the effort. The objective of this effort is to perform responsible thinning projects to return forests to more natural densities so forests can survive and be rejuvenated by natural fire cycles, which also happens to promote faster growth of larger trees. Just last month, the U.S. Forest Service released a study showing that such projects are an effective means to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire to communities. The study also showed that these treatments improve and maintain forest health. The report is available at By the way, contrary to the assertions of some critics, the Healthy Forest legislation specifically ensures protection of old growth trees and keeps wilderness areas off limits.

We are happy that you are interested in forest health and hope that you will check out the information to learn even more. Thanks for the question!

May 26, 2004 | 12:43 p.m.(EDT)

Q: 2, 75 Main Street:
Does anyone even read these emails?

A:Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
Yes, “2,” someone does read these emails. You can imagine the number of emails we receive, but every email sent in to White House Interaction is read. I know, because I receive them.

Although we would prefer to answer each of them, we cannot. So, we answer emails which are representative of the thousands which come in. It is our goal to answer more and more of these.

White House Interactive is relatively young. But it is a defining moment on the Internet. Providing a forum in which the public and the White House can interact like this has NEVER happened before. It is important and it is our hope that these type of forums become the norm all across government. The Internet is a powerful communications medium and government needs to better utilize it in that fashion.

And as I mentioned, it is our goal to answer more and more questions. Thanks for yours...

May 25, 2004 | 3:21 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Lonnie from Southfield, MI:
What are we doing to create jobs in the US? Why don't we increase tariffs? I am recently out of work and would appreciate help.

A:Andrew Samwick, Chief Economist, CEA:
Job creation is a principal focus of this Administration. It has worked to create an atmosphere of lower taxes and sensible regulation in which businesses can thrive and create new jobs. An open world trading system is generally a positive contribution to economic prosperity. It increases living standards both at home and abroad. That is the reason the President has actively pursued trade agreements to open up markets abroad.

The President understands that any economic change, including job changes related to international trade, can cause painful dislocations for workers and their families. The Administration is also working to help workers prepare for new jobs and new opportunities in the global economy.

In Southfield, there is a Michigan Works! Service Center where you can receive assistance in finding work in your current field, learn about other job openings in your area, and arrange for additional training. You can reach them at (248) 796-4550. The center in Southfield is just one of many State and Federal Comprehensive One-Stop Centers around the nation. You can find out more about the Federal government's programs to assist displaced workers at the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration (

May 25, 2004 | 9:57 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Fred, Texas:
Why are the President's speeches not simulcast on the web and why are they not archived in either Realplayer or Windows Media format? I was not able to listen to the speech and would like to hear it.


A:Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
Hi Fred

We try to simulcast the President's speeches on the web whenever we can. There are still some logistical issues with webcasting the President's speeches on the road, but we do so when we can. Last night's speech, for example, was webcast live on our home page. And the archived speech is available by clicking here.

We also heard from visitors who wondered why the text of the speech was not available immediately after it was delivered. It takes awhile for speeches to be transcribed. So, we were able to post the speech at 9:11pm last night which was about 30 minutes after it concluded.

May 21, 2004 | 2:24 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Johannes from Jena, Germany:
Hello! I'm a german Student from Jena, and this semester I'm taking part on a seminar about media in the USA. We read there a newspaper-article about press conferences in the White House. Is it true that the press conferences are planned in advance, so a journalist is only allowed to ask the questions he submited to the White House earlier before the press conference?

Many Thanks in advance and greetings from Germany!

A:White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan:
My job would certainly be much easier if only it were true. I can categorically say it has no basis in fact, but it was one of the more amusing conspiracy theories I have seen during my time at the White House. The White House press corps is represented by a bunch of professional journalists who are working hard to keep the American people informed about the decisions we make here in Washington. Part of their job is to ask the tough questions, but I can never foresee a day when they would ever submit those to us in advance.

May 21, 2004 | 12:10 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Paul from Rochester, NY:
Has George Bush ever been in Rochester?

A:Melissa Bennett, Special Assistant to the President and Director for Appointments and Scheduling:
The President has been to Rochester, Michigan and Rochester, Minnesota, but hasn't been to Rochester, New York yet. In April, he was near by in Buffalo, New York talking about the USA Patriot Act. He has also traveled to Wilmington, West Point, Fort Drum, Bay Shore, East Meadow and New York City. The President loves to travel and meet citizens from all over the country. I hope someday he will be speaking near your home in Rochester, New York too.

May 19, 2004 | 5:01 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Ivan from Tallahassee, Florida:
Getting more people on the information superhighway is a useful endeavor. One proposed means is to have "broadband over power lines," known as "BPL." This system uses electrical power lines like ones you see outside your house and up on a utility pole to carry data transmissions.

The idea for sending data signals over power lines is seriously and fundamentally flawed. Why adjust technical standards to accommodate a seriously flawed idea?

A:Richard Russell, White House Senior Director for Technology:
President Bush has set an aggressive goal for all Americans to have access to broadband by 2007. One way for us to meet that goal is to encourage new technologies such as Broadband Over Powerlines, or BPL. As with most new technologies, BPL has issues that need to be addressed. BPL presents the possibility of interference to certain radio systems. That is why technical standards are necessary to enable BPL to operate while protecting existing radio systems.

To that end, the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has just completed a comprehensive study of the interference risks associated with BPL. Significantly, there are more than 59,000 federal radio systems in the bands to be used by BPL so the government has a vested interest in ensuring that these systems are protected from harmful interference. The NTIA study was a real world analysis of BPL systems, and included 10 million measurements of operating BPL facilities. Based on this study, NTIA has concluded that while there is a risk of interference, there are also reasonable technical solutions that can be employed to ensure that existing radio systems are protected. By protecting these systems, BPL will be able to realize its potential of being the "third broadband wire" into the home and accelerate the deployment of affordable broadband to all Americans.

If you'd like more information on the NTIA study it is available on the web at

May 19, 2004 | 1:58 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Jim from Evanston, Illinois:
Is the University of Denver hockey team there today? Will you publish a picture of the President and the team? Both NSA Rice and Interior Sec. Norton went to DU. Will they be there?

A:Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
The University of Denver hockey team is here today. The President is congratulating four NCAA teams for winning national titles. The President will congratulate the University of Connecticut men's and women's basketball teams, the University of Denver men's hockey team, and the University of Minnesota women's hockey team.

We will post photos of these events and we'll have to see if Dr. Rice and Secretary Norton attend.

May 18, 2004 | 2:37 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Carl from Fort Collins Colorado
During the recent 9/11 commision meetings no audio or video recordings were made, while during Condoleeza's testimony for example the entire thing was broadcast on television, why is the administration being so secretive about this?

A:Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:
The Administration has been extremely cooperative with the September 11 Commission, including allowing unprecedented access to documents and interviews and meetings with Administration officials -- including the President and Vice President. Dr. Rice's testimony was public because the Administration wanted to work with the Commission to help give the public access to as much as possible. As for other September 11 Commission meetings, I would refer you to the Commission.

May 14, 2004 | 6:32 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Ross from Lincoln, Nebraska:
Did you ever take a photo that you didn't think would turn out well -- but when it was developed you really liked it?

A:Eric Draper, White House Photo Director:
A fraction of a second can make the difference between a good photo and a bad one. In this case, timing and a little bit of luck helped me to compose this image of Marine One flying over the heads of French fire and emergency personnel as the President departed Evian, France following last year's G-8 Summit. I didn't know exactly what I was going to get but I took a chance and I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at my film.

May 13, 2004 | 1:21 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Bruce from Honeoye Falls, NY :
I am very happy that the President supports reducing the sulfur in diesel emmisions. I understand that it will apply to off-road vehicles and eventually to marine and train use. Is he also planning ahead for regulations regarding diesel emmisions from cars? While very few Americans drive diesel cars now, it is anticipated that they will increase with the higher cost of fuel. Congratulations on this groundbreaking and environmentally friendly policy!

A:Jim Connaughton, Chairman, Council of Environmental Quality:
Thank you for your inquiry. Indeed, the President's nonroad diesel announcement is ground-breaking. As Administrator Leavitt said, "We are going to make that burst of black smoke that erupts from diesels a thing of the past." For more information on the complete suite of diesel regulations, please click here (

In addition, the Bush Administration is addressing emissions from all cars.

EPA's Tier 2 Vehicle and Gasoline Sulfur Program, which we are currently implementing, affects every new passenger vehicle and every gallon of gasoline sold in our country. In addition, through EPA's Clean Diesel Trucks and Buses program, we are dramatically reducing the level of sulfur in highway diesel fuel as well.

Under these programs, for the first time:

SUVs, pick-up trucks, vans, and the largest personal vehicles are subject to the same national emission standards as cars.

Vehicles and the fuels they use are treated as one system. Cleaner vehicles will have the low-sulfur gasoline or diesel fuels they need to run their cleanest.

These programs will result in cars, SUVs, pick-ups, and vans that are 77-95 percent cleaner than today's cars and trucks, and will also result in cleaner-burning gasoline and diesel fuel that contains 90+ percent less sulfur.

Cleaner cars that run on cleaner fuels result in cleaner air, and better health for all Americans.

May 12, 2004 | 11:41 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Doug from Redlands, CA:
After careful study and research, the Patriot Act allows the government to monitor and watch almost every aspect of our lives. Almost like "Big Brother". With this legislation, is your every day American losing Constitutional freedoms?

A:Ed McNally, Senior Associate Counsel and HSC General Counsel:

Doug --

Thank you for your question about the USA Patriot Act. The President is committed to protecting the rights, the liberties and the security of everyone in America.

The President signed the Patriot Act into law in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. Thanks to the President.s decisive leadership in the war on terrorism, the Patriot Act has played a key role in a number of successful operations to protect innocent Americans from terrorists. In passing the Patriot Act by an overwhelmingly favorable margin (the vote was 98 to 1 in the Senate), Congress provided for modest, incremental changes in the law. Congress took existing legal principles and adapted them to preserve the lives and liberty of the American people given the challenges posed by global terrorist threats. These changes have enabled the Federal Government to better track terrorists, disrupt their cells, seize their assets, and share more information with state and local law enforcement.

The short answer to your question is no - ordinary Americans are not losing their constitutional freedoms. To the contrary, the Patriot Act represents another important step in the government's fulfillment of its constitutional obligation to "provide for the common defense" of Americans against terrorist or other attacks. The Patriot Act is constitutionally sound, and has not been used to violate the rights of Americans. Consider, for example, the Washington Post's account concerning the remarks of one of your home state Senators -- U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif), that she made on this issue at a hearing last fall. The Post reported that although her office received 21,434 letters opposing the Act, none of those letters contained any alleged abuses of the Patriot Act. The Senator said: "I have never had a single abuse of the Patriot Act reported to me." When she asked the ACLU for examples of alleged violations of civil liberties under the Act, Senator Feinstein reported that the ACLU "had none." Source: Washington Post, 10/22/03

Similarly, this is what Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) had to say about the Patriot Act:

"If there is one key word that underscores this bill, it is 'balance.' . . . The balance between the need to update our laws given the new challenges and the need to maintain our basic freedoms which distinguish us from our enemies is real." Source: Congressional Record, October 25, 2001

If you would like more information about the role of the USA PATRIOT Act in protecting Americans in the war on terror, please visit the U.S. Department of Justice website at

-- Edward McNally

May 11, 2004 | 12:27 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Jennifer from Williamsburg, VA:
I understand that the President has taken some serious criticism of the No Child Left Behind Legislation. As a teacher I am starting to see the effects of it. I graduated with a Master's Degree in May and hold a teaching certificate to teach Social Studies, English and General Science, but have been unable to find a job. Many of my fellow graduates are in the same situation. We have been told that we do not qualify as highly qualified under the NCLB and until we do school districts will not even consider us. Many have left the teaching profession and the myth of the teacher shortage for employment in other fields. What is the truth about the so called teacher shortage? How is the President going to address the large numbers of new teaching graduates who can not find jobs?

A:Margaret Spellings, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy:
Jennifer, thanks for writing and congratulations on completing your education. It is true that the No Child Left Behind Act requires that teachers be "highly qualified".

Each state determines exactly what is considered to be "highly qualified" but it must include content mastery in the subject to be taught. You should check with your state certification board to see what your state requires. There is no specific federal mandate in this area.

In addition, many states provide for alternative certification programs and some of these programs are operated by school districts, particularly in urban centers. Alternative certification may provide a way to meet your states "highly qualified" definition and get into the classroom more quickly.

Finally, I would suggest that your teacher preparation program should work closely with state certification processes to make sure that students who are graduating are on course to meet the state requirements.

As for the issue of teacher shortages -- most of these shortages are in the subjects of math, science and special education -- particularly at the middle and high school levels. Thanks for writing and for your commitment to teaching.

May 11, 2004 | 12:00 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Carol from Schodack, NY:
Will this interactive program continue to be operational in the fall? I would like to assign a group project to my Political Science class that would involve submitting a question to White House staff. Thanks for this opportunity!

A:Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
Thanks Carol

We have all intentions of keeping this part of the site very active. We've seen through the success of "Ask the White House" that interactivity between the White House and citizens is what people want. We look at "White House Interactive" as kind of a mini-Ask the White House and we appreciate the questions that we receive. My only regret is that we can't answer more. To that end, we'll try to answer the questions that are the most representative of the emails we receive. And we'll just try our best to answer as many as we can.

May 10, 2004 | 3:06 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Trevor from Bend Oregon:
My mother and father enjoy watching West Wing every Wednesday night. I try and stay up and watch it with them, my dad tells me that someday I can be the President of the United States. I was wondering how much of that show captures the real events around the white house and the west wing.

Thank you for answering my question.

A:Secretary Andy Card, White House Chief of Staff:
The show stretches reality, but frequently has story lines based on credible experiences. The real West Wing is not as "large" as it appears in the television show, and the offices are much smaller. Never have I seen West Wing staffers running around the corridors in any panic. The President is also not likely to give a long speech to his staff in the Oval Office.

May 10, 2004 | 10:55 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Linda from Harrods Creek, KY:
Are citizens allowed to tour the White House at this time?

A:Sara Armstrong, Director of the White House Visitor's Office:
Thank you for your interest in visiting the White House. Tours are available for groups of 10 or more, regardless of age or type of group. Requests must be submitted through your Member of Congress and may be submitted up to six months in advance. We recommend that you submit your request as early as possible since the White House is a popular place to visit. The tours are self-guided and are scheduled from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

You can also tour the White House by visiting our website at Just click on the "History and Tours" section at the top of the homepage where you'll find interesting articles, photos and videos.

Thanks again for your interest. I hope you'll make plans to visit the White House.

May 7, 2004 | 3:54 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Bart from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada:
Does Chief of Staff Andy Card have an actual seat at the Cabinet table or is he a "Counselor to the President"?

A: Brian Montgomery, Deputy Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary:
White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card, Jr., also serves as a member of the President's Cabinet and has a seat at the table for each Cabinet meeting. His official title is Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, not Counselor to the President. Additionally, the Chief of Staff is also referred to as "Secretary Card" since he served as Secretary of Transportation from 1992-93.

A little background on the President's Cabinet: The Cabinet consists of, at a minimum, the Vice President and the heads of the 15 executive departments, including the newest, the Department of Homeland Security. At the discretion of each President, other individuals have variously been accorded Cabinet-level rank. President Bush has designated, in addition to the Chief of Staff, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the United States Trade Representative, the Administrator of EPA, and the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, all to have Cabinet Rank.

May 4, 2004 | 5:16 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Tom from Camano Island, WA:
How could this Country who is supposed to represent all that is right in the World allow the treatment of prisoners to happen as reported in our newspapers today? Swift and sure action must be taken to correct this situation (if true).

A: Dr. Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor:
I want to assure people in the Arab world, Iraq, around the world, and the American people, that the President is determined to get to the bottom of it, to know who is responsible and to make sure that whoever is responsible is punished for it and held accountable.

And he's determined to find out if there is any wider problem than just what happened at Abu Ghraib. And so he has told Secretary Rumsfeld that he expects an investigation, a full accounting. Americans do not do this to other people. Those pictures were awful because America -- American men and women in uniform, active and reserve, are serving in Iraq at great sacrifice. People are losing their lives. We came there to help to liberate the people of Iraq. We came there to build schools, and to build clinics, and we want very much that the images of Americans should be the images of helping the Iraqi people. It's simply unacceptable that anyone would engage in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. And we will get to the bottom of it. And those who are responsible will be punished.*

*Interview of the National Security Advisor by Al Arabiya, May 3, 2004

May 4, 2004 | 11:20 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Lori from Great falls, Montana:
I support the war on Terror, But if the courts are releasing these people and they go back into society are we worried they will cause more problems all over again? And what if anything are we going to do about it??

A: Judge Al Gonzales, White House Counsel:
The President's most solemn obligation is protecting the American people. The President is committed to aggressively pursuing the war on terror and to doing everything possible to try to prevent another attack. He is of course doing so in a way that upholds the Constitution and all U.S. laws.

Currently, the Supreme Court is considering several cases regarding the authority of the President to detain certain individuals as enemy combatants in order to prevent them from returning to the battle against America and to obtain intelligence information from them which would help us in fighting the war.

The Administration believes that the determinations made by the President are within his Constitutional powers as Commander in Chief, are supported by Congressional authorization and Supreme Court precedent, and are consistent with the war-time practices of prior presidents. The Supreme Court has not yet issued a decision in any of these cases.

May 4, 2004 | 9:33 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Adam from New York:
To whom it may concern,
I was reading through the executive proclomations of friday, and I noticed that President Bush has proclaimed May 6, 2004, do be a National day of Prayer. I was wondering how this is not in violation of the church and state seperations set forth by the 1st Amendment and protected by several Federal and Supreme court decisions.

A: Jim Towey, Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives:
President Bush is following the precedent of his predecessors - a practice that began with President Washington, I believe, who proclaimed a national day of fasting and prayer. The event Thursday does not endorse any one religion nor is any citizen obliged to participate. This practice is Constitutional.

April 29, 2004 | 6:00 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Ross from Scotland:
Does the White House really have a 'Situation Room' like in the TV program West Wing?

A: Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:
"There is, in fact, a Situation Room in the White House. It is a command center for the President and his national security team to monitor world events and to meet in a secure setting on issues like terrorism, to help ensure that our national security is being protected. The Situation Room is staffed by a wonderful group of men and women who work around the clock to help protect our nation."

April 29, 2004 | 11:55 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Ronald from Savannah, Georgia:
The constitution of the U.S. clearly states that there will be a separation of church and state. Yet the president has mentioned the "Faith Based Initiatives" Program. Why is he doing this? I know that the president has not mentioned a specific religious denomination, the constitution clearly states that there must be a "separation of chuch and state."

A: Jim Towey, Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives:
Dear Ronald: With all due respect, I must respond to your email by pointing out that the First Amendment does not mention a "separation of church and state." It says that Congress shall not establish a religion or interfere with the free exercise of religion. So there is a balance struck between two interests - a very delicate balance. President Bush agrees with you that government should not establish, fund or favor any religion, and that the church and state should not become one. But the pendulum should not swing in the other direction in such a way that the public square is sanitized of any possible religious influence. This might surprise you but Thomas Jefferson, who coined the phrase "wall between church and state" in a letter he once wrote, used to attend religious services in federal government buildings! No kidding! I point that out to make the simple point that when we harken back to the founders' intent, we should be careful to note the profound respect they had for the freedom of religion, and that they would be aghast at how the First Amendment has been interpreted by some in such a way as to promote a hostility toward religion.

April 28, 2004 | 11:44 a.m.(EDT)

Q: John from Mehoopany (Forkston) PA:
Why were tax breaks for alternative energy systems (to power homes) done away with? It would seem to me that promoting reliance on renewable sources of energy like solar, wind and water powered homes would benefit not only the homeowner, but also our environment. I have a solar energy system with generator back-up powering my house. The more components that I add to my system, the less I rely on my generator for back-up. I have NO power lines to my house. I feel that incentives should be given out to people who go out of their way to help save the environment.

A: Jim Connaughton, Council on Environmental Quality Chairman:
Thanks for your question, John. We agree.

President Bush's 2005 budget calls upon Congress to approve $4.1 billion in tax incentives through 2009 to spur the use of clean, renewable energy, and energy-efficient technologies, such as hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles, residential solar heating systems, renewable energy produced from landfill gas, wind, or biomass, and efficient combined heat and power systems.

These tax incentives, which were first proposed as part of the President's National Energy Policy in 2001, can help improve our environment while sustaining our economic growth and ensuring our the country's energy security. We will continue to work with the Congress to enact these important incentives, which expired at the end of 2003.

April 26, 2004 | 12:37 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Sydney from Green Bay:
Dear White House

With today's news of new home sales, how do economists rate this statistic? There are a lot of economic stats out there -- some more important than others. How important is this one and how do you read it?

A: Andrew Samwick, CEA Chief Economist:
Today, the Census Bureau reported that new single-family home sales in March rose to an annual pace of 1.23 million homes, a 22 percent increase over the March 2003 level. While not as significant as news about Gross Domestic Product or employment, the pace of new home sales shows that the economy continues to strengthen and suggests that the housing market remains an engine of growth after one of its best years ever in 2003. Our nation.s 68.6 percent homeownership rate is the highest ever, and President Bush is taking steps to make owning a home a reality for more Americans, especially minorities and those with low incomes. To read more on the President.s Homeownership Initiative, please see /infocus/homeownership/.

April 22, 2004 | 4:50 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Marlene from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania:
Why was Condoleeza Rice's meeting today on Capitol Hill only with REPUBLICAN members of Congress?

A: Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:
You have it wrong...actually she met this afternoon with Senate Democrats. Dr. Rice believes the job of National Security Advisor should be nonpartisan, and she insisted on meeting with both Democrats and Republicans.

April 22, 2004 | 8:55 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Carlos from Miami, FL:
Mr. President:
In your recent campaign adds on national television, you state how you have promoted the aid to the creation of small businesses. If I were to start a small business, where would I go for a grant, small business loan or even have the government back up my loan? (like student loans that are backed up by the government hence making it easier to obtain)

A: Hector Barreto, Administrator, Small Business Administration:
Of the 500,000 to 1 million new businesses that start up each year, more than 80 percent use some form of credit, and the U.S. Small Business Administration offers several ways that can help you access capital. The SBA backs more than $10 billion in small business loans every year through its two primary loan programs. Under the 7(a) loan program, the SBA provides guarantees that allow commercial lenders such as banks and credit unions to make loans to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. In fact, about a quarter of those loans go to start-ups. The SBA's other major loan program, known as the 504 program, provides loans for capital expenditures, such as the purchase or rehabilitation of land, buildings or machinery, and equipment. You can find more detailed information on the financing page of the SBA's Web site at

April 21, 2004 | 5:16 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Steve from Aurora:
Is President Bush going to participate in any Earth Day event tomorrow? Thank you.

A: Harriet Miers, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy:
Tomorrow the President will celebrate Earth Day by traveling to Wells, Maine to deliver remarks at the National Estuarine Research Reserve. In addition, tomorrow afternoon, the President will honor the recipients of the President's Environmental Youth Awards in a Rose Garden ceremony.

April 21, 2004 | 10:00 a.m. (EDT)

Q: Melissa, Junior Girl Scout from Buffalo, New York:
Hi, I just wanted to say that it was an awesome sight this morning at the Buffalo Airport watching Air Force One land. I only wish that my brother, sister, mom, dad and me could have heard the President speak today. My mom took some pictures of the landing and of the motorcade.

I only wish that somehow, my Girl Scout troop could have welcomed the President and his friends to our city. Please, Mr. Bush...come back to our area again, and PLEASE, please, let the scouts welcome you with a flag ceremony.

A: Andrew Card, White House Chief of Staff:
Melissa -

Thank you for your e-mail. I traveled with the President yesterday when he went to Buffalo. The President was welcomed by thousands of people who lined the streets of Buffalo and waved, held signs or saluted. He participated in an important discussion about fighting terrorism with new tools included in the Patriot Act.

Yes, Air Force One is "awesome." It is a spectacular sight to see it take-off or land. It is also an unbelievable honor to be able to fly in it.

The President is frequently greeted by Girl Scouts. Just a few weeks ago, representatives of the Girls Scouts visited the Oval Office to present a report to the President.

Thank you, too, for being involved in Girl Scouts. You're helping your community and your Nation.

Keep in touch,

Andy Card

April 21, 2004 | 9:00 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Tresha from Erie, MI:
Is it true that Mr. Bush is talking about bring back the draft,and that it could be put into effect by February 2005?

A: Andrew Card, White House Chief of Staff:
We have an all volunteer military in this country and it serves us very well. I have heard no call from any of our military leaders for a return to the draft.

April 20, 2004 | 3:51 p.m.(EDT)

Q: George from Aberdeen, MD:
How can a person apply for a small business loan or grant from the federal government?

A: Hector Barreto, Small Business Administrator:
The SBA administers two major loan programs - the 7(a) working capital loan program and the 504 loan program, which is typically used to finance capital investments including real estate and large equipment purchases. SBA sets the guidelines for the loans while SBA's partners (Lenders, Community Development Organizations, and Microlending Institutions) make the loans to small businesses. SBA backs those loans with a guaranty that will eliminate some of the risk to the lending partners.

The best way to get more information about financing is to log on to the SBA's website - From the website, you can also easily locate one of 70 district offices nationwide nearest you.

April 19, 2004 | 11:52 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Randall from Hanceville, Alabama:
How many invitations does President Bush and the First Lady receive in a month? How hard is it to schedule a visit with them? Is it possible for a average person to meet the president or would they have a bether chance getting struck by lightning? Thank you!!

A: Melissa Bennett, Special Assistant to the President and Director for Appointments and Scheduling:
The president receives more than 1,000 invitations to events all over the world every week. As you might imagine, it is a big job just to go through and respond to all of them. While the President appreciates each invitation it is impossible to attend as many as he'd like. Hope you will send your invitation in to us for consideration.

April 15, 2004 | 9:49 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Daphne, Fresh Meadows, New York:
Did President George Bush, President George W. Bush's father, really hate broccoli so much he took it off the White House menu?

A: George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States:
I never asked that it be removed from White House menus. I just vowed that I would never eat it again, and I have courageously stuck to that promise.

April 14, 2004 | 2:38 a.m.(EST)

Q: Betsy from Connecticut:
When is Barneys new Easter Egg Role Adventure coming out?

A: Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
That's a good question. There were discussions about a new Barney Cam entitled, "Barney's Easter Egg Roll Adventure." The script was in production. Barney agreed to his third film. The supporting actors were ready. But we ran out of time.

So, we'll have to release it next year. So, when will the third installment of Barney Cam come out? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, Barney Cam and Barney Cam II: Barney Reloaded are both still available.


April 14, 2004 | 10:58 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Tom from Plano, Texas:
I am the coach of a Tball team here in in Plano TX. I have heard that during the summer, the White House periodically hosts several Tball teams to come and play on the White House Lawn. I think this would be a tremendous once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity that I could provide to the players. Could you please provide me with information on how a team might get considered for such a wonderful event.

Thank you,
Tom Madden

A: Brian Besanceney, Deputy Director of Communications for Planning:
President Bush has hosted tee ball games on the South Lawn of the White House each year that he has been in office. The tee ball games are a remarkable experience for the children (generally 5-6 years old) and their families. The President hosts these games to help encourage young Americans to learn the importance of teamwork and physical fitness at an early age.

We work closely with Little League to make each tee ball game a memorable experience for the children and their families. Little League provides us with logistical support, equipment, and - most importantly - the teams themselves. Little League takes applications from interested teams and recommends two teams for each game to the White House. Typically, these recommendations are based on a "theme" we have developed for a particular game; for example, the first game last year honored members of our Armed Forces and their families by featuring teams from military bases (it was the tee ball version of the Army-Navy game).

For more information on applying, you can visit the Little League website (

April 13, 2004 | 12:48 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Tiffany, North Canton Middle School, Canton, Ohio:
Can you please move the Presidents speech to another time? I want to watch American Idol. How about moving the speech to 9pm?


A: Scott McClellan, Press Secretary:

I think we are going to stick to the 8:30pm time tonight. There are some important issues that the President wants to discuss with the American people at a time when most Americans will be able to hear what he has to say. The good news for American Idol fans is that FOX is moving tonight's episode to tomorrow night at 8.

April 13, 2004 | 11:24 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Steve from Cheyenne, WY:
Recently, my spouse was laid-off from her job that she had for 11 years. Luckily, she was already planning a career change and had been going to school to become a registered nurse. Since there is such a great need for nurses, is there any type of aid she can get with the President's new reemployment policies? Thank you.

A: Elaine Chao, Labor Secretary:

The President is committed to helping all dislocated workers get the help they need.

Wyoming receives $21 million in federal funds every year from the federal government to pay for training, employment and unemployment programs and services. For more information about what kind assistance you may be eligible for, contact your local One Stop Career Center.

To find your closest One Stop, you can visit or call 1-877-US-2-JOBS.

Your wife has made an excellent career choice. Not only is health care a rewarding field, but it is one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy. Health care is predicted to grow at a rate of 28 percent and add 3.5 million new jobs between 2002 and 2012, which is why the President has made nurse training part of the High Growth Job Training Initiative.

In fact, just last month, I announced a new $24.4 million Health Care Initative, which will help provide the training needed to pair workers with new good-paying health care jobs like nursing.

This Initiative will not only help train new workers, it will also ensure that we have enough skilled workers to meet America's health-care needs as our population ages in the coming years.

April 13, 2004 | 9:53 a.m. (EST)

Q: Kimberly from Stow, Ohio:
I was curious to know if anyone has ever gotten married at the White House and if so, how do you get to do that I am getting married in August and would love to getting married there. Just wondering.

Thank you.

A: Bill Allman, White House Curator:
Dear Kimberly,

There have been 17 weddings at the White House. Although three presidents were married while in office, only one -- Grover Cleveland -- was married at the White House, June 2, 1886, in the Blue Room.

Eight daughters had White House weddings -- Maria Monroe (1820), Elizabeth Tyler (1842), Nellie Grant (1874), Alice Roosevelt (1906), Jessie Wilson (1913), Eleanor Wilson(1914), Lynda Bird Johnson (1967), and Tricia Nixon *1971) -- but one only son -- John Adams, son of President and Mrs. John Quincy Adams (1828).

Four weddings for members of the families of first ladies -- one sister, one brother, and two nieces.

One presidential niece, one daughter of a presidential friend and one presidential assistant make up the final three weddings.

April 9, 2004 | 1:14 p.m. (EST)

Q: Brett from Watertown:
I have a question for the White House photographer. What is the favorite picture you've taken?

A: Eric Draper, White House Photo Director:

This is the most frequently asked question I get and the most difficult to answer because I have several favorite photos. I think one the that remains in my top ten is a photo I made during the first weeks of the administration.

The picture shows the President and Vice President both checking their watches in the Oval Office before the President departed the White House for an event. It was what we call in the business a "grab shot".

I saw it happening, and I just reacted as I reached for my camera around my neck and pressed the shutter button. Lucky for me the image was in focus and perfectly composed and yes the President made it on time to the event.

April 9, 2004 | 12:28 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Jeff from Georgia:
Mr President, I think the NASA decision to abandon the Hubble telescope to its fate and not maintain it is a both short sighted and wrong. Since it in instrument that has far greater capabilities than any earth bound telescope is there a Hubble II waiting the wings to replace it? If not the NASA explaination not to put astronauts at risk is hollow, they all voluteered for those rocket rides didn't they?

A: Sean O'Keefe, NASA Administrator:
We welcome the public's recognition of Hubble's importance. NASA is putting its best people to work on plans to extend Hubble's operations. There are 3-4 years before Hubble's support systems may fail. We have the time and the talent to engineer a way to save the Hubble. In addition, dozens of teams from industry and the university community have responded to NASA's request for innovative ideas to use a robotic spacecraft to replace the Hubble's batteries and gyroscopes and perhaps even install new science instruments. NASA will carefully evaluate these ideas and then proceed with a plan to extend this remarkable scientific instrument's life as long as possible.

These ideas for robotic servicing missions show that there are other options besides a risky Space Shuttle servicing mission to Hubble. NASA is serious in its commitment to implement every one of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's safety recommendations. Based on where NASA is today in its efforts to return the Shuttle safely to flight, prospects have declined dramatically for NASA to develop in time all required safety and return to flight elements for a Shuttle servicing mission before Hubble ceases to be operational. That's why NASA is looking at options for robotic servicing of Hubble and seeking other ways to keep it operating longer as being more attractive options.

NASA is confident that its current course will provide many good options to extend the Hubble's working life. Meanwhile, Hubble will continue to provide unparalleled views of the Universe complementing the capabilities of the Chandra and Spitzer space telescopes. Looking forward, the upcoming Kepler and James Webb space telescopes, and an array of astronomical observatories on the ground promise to dramatically increase our knowledge of the amazing Universe in which we live.

April 9, 2004 | 10:50 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Christopher from South Carolina:
Why is it that marijuana hasn't been legalized in the United States yet we spend so much money fighting against something that really isnt that bad.

I personaly have smoked marijuana in the past and still can not figure out why its not legal to smoke. Alchol is more dangerous than marijuana is. So why not legalize it?

A: John Walters, White House Drug Czar:
Marijuana is a dangerous drug that remains illegal because of the threat it poses to Americans, particularly children. Our current knowledge surrounding marijuana - including treatment center admission data, scientific research, and medical knowledge - directly contradicts the myths that this drug is non-addictive and harmless. The perpetuation of these falsehoods has fueled the spread of this harmful drug among Americans over the last 30 years, so it is important that Americans understand the facts about marijuana:

  • Marijuana smoke contains 50 to 70 percent more carcinogens than tobacco smoke, which can lead to cancer of the respiratory system and can disrupt the immune system.
  • Marijuana use has a negative effect on learning and memory, and is associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia.
  • Marijuana users are more likely to be depressed and have suicidal thoughts.
  • Of the 7.1 million Americans - 1.4 million of whom are teenagers - identified as needing drug treatment, over 60 percent have a dependency on marijuana.
  • In recent years, for the first time, more teens have presented themselves for treatment of marijuana dependency than have presented themselves for treatment of alcohol dependency.
Legalizing marijuana will only cause more Americans, especially children, to believe the marijuana myths and try this harmful drug. Because of these concerns for public health and safety, the federal government will continue to oppose the legalization of marijuana.

Thank you for your question.


April 9, 2004 | 9:38 a.m.(EDT)

Q: David from Fort Lauderdale, FL:
Has there been progress with the executive order the President signed that ends federal discrimination against recently released prisoners to make a successful transition back to society?

This 4-year, $300 million initiative will provide transitional housing, basic job training, and mentoring. Where can I find more about this program? Does this now mean ex-offenders can become federal employees?

A: Jim Towey, Faith-Based Director:
Thank you for your questions. You are actually asking about two separate, but related issues. During his 2004 State of the Union Address, President Bush called on Congress to codify the principle of equal treatment for faith-based organizations in the Federal grants process, putting an end to discrimination against these charities. This legislation would ensure that more Americans in need would be able to get vital social services from the country's most effective charities, whether they are secular or faith-based organizations.

Also during the State of the Union Address, the President announced his four-year, $300 million Prisoner Re-entry Initiative. This innovative program will harness the resources and experience of faith-based and community organizations in dealing with the challenges of helping returning prisoners transition back into their communities. The U.S. Departments of Labor, Justice, and Housing and Development are currently developing the framework for this program that will soon provide tens of thousands of ex-offenders with job-training and placement services, transitional housing, and mentoring. Questions about this initiative may be directed to the Employment and Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor, (202) 693-2700.

April 8, 2004 | 3:17 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Carol from Dover:
What will the new manufacturing czar do? What are his responsibilities?

A: Don Evans, Commerce Secretary:
The Assistant Secretary of Manufacturing and Services will advocate, coordinate and implement policies that will help U.S. manufacturers succeed worldwide. Some of the challenges he will focus on include enhancing government's focus on manufacturing competitiveness; creating the conditions for economic growth and manufacturing investment; promoting open markets and a level playing field; lowering the cost of manufacturing in the United States; investing in innovation; and strengthening education, retraining, and economic diversification.

April 8, 2004 | 10:54 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Rosie Marie from San Antonio, TX:
Our Aunt Bernice will be turning 100 on May 28th. I would like to know if the President could send her a birthday card from the White House for this event. How would I go about getting it?

A: Heidi Marquez Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Correspondence:
Thank you for your interest in requesting a greeting from President Bush for your Aunt Bernice's 100th birthday. You may submit a request via fax at 202-395-1232, mail to The White House, Attn: Greetings Office, Washington, D.C. 20502-0039, or by Web Mail located on the White House website at

Please make sure to include your aunt's full name with appropriate salutation, date of birth, mailing address, and your (the requestor's) name and daytime phone number. We ask that requests for greetings are received in our office at least six weeks in advance of the event date. We will make every effort to send the greeting in time for your special occasion. For more information on our guidelines and the types of greetings you may request please visit the White House website at

April 8, 2004 | 8:35 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Tony from New Jersey:
How many women are in the president's cabinet?

A: Brian Montgomery, Deputy Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary:
Currently, there are three women in the President's Cabinet: Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. To learn more about the President's Cabinet, click here.

Thank you for your question.

April 7, 2004 | 12:44 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Rochelle from Austin, TX:
Where can I find a list of radio stations that air President Bush's weekly radio address in Texas and other states?

A: Trey Bohn, White House Director of Radio:
Thanks for your question. All radio stations that subscribe to news services such as ABC, CBS, CNN, AP, UPI or USA can access the President's Weekly Radio Address to the nation. It is fed live at 10:06 ET each Saturday morning for local affiliates to broadcast.

Many of your local 'all news' format AM stations will typically air the President's Weekly Radio Address, but are under no obligation to do so. Some stations may even air it at different times depending on their programming. Therefore, there isn't a list with consistently accurate information available. I would encourage you to contact your local stations' programming departments to find out more. In Austin, 590 AM and 1370 AM may be a good start, but it can always be found at each and every Saturday.

April 7, 2004 | 11:04 a.m. (EDT)

Q: Dana from Reno, NV
I was wondering- what is the difference between a federal law and Constitutional amendments? And why do some court cases go from a state/federal court to the state/supreme and why do some court cases go from a state/federal court to the state/supreme court?

A: David Leitch, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Counsel:

I was wondering- what is the difference between a federal law and Constitutional amendments?

A federal law is passed by Congress and signed by the President, and must address issues within the enumerated powers of the federal government. A federal law that is inconsistent with the Constitution is invalid. A constitutional amendment follows a different process involving Congress and the States and can address any subject. While hundreds of federal laws are enacted each year, the Constitution is amended only rarely (27 times in our history) and the constitutional amendment process has generally been reserved for issues that are more fundamental and permanent in our society.

Why do some court cases go from a state/Federal court to the state/Supreme Court?

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and consider matters including those involving the United States Constitution, federal laws, treaties, the United States government, and controversies involving citizens from different states. State courts are usually courts of general jurisdiction; this means that under state law they may hear any case except those within the exclusive jurisdiction of a federal court. Any case involving an issue of federal law may be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, but that court has no jurisdiction over cases coming from state courts that implicate only state law.

April 6, 2004 | 11:55 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Charles from Chattanooga, Tn:
What is the President's view on Church and State relations?

A: Jim Towey, Faith-Based Director:
The President believes in the separation of church and state and believes the First Amendment and its protections are essential to true freedom.

He does not support tax dollars going to support the promotion of religious beliefs, nor does he support discrimination based on religion in the provision of publicly-funded services.

He does support faith-based organizations and their right to be in the public square, and he wants to end discrimination against these groups by government.

His faith-based initiative strikes the appropriate constitutional balance and unleashes America's "armies of compassion" to help addicts find successful recovery programs, the homeless find housing, and other Americans in need find hope.

April 5, 2004 | 12:50 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Tim from New York:
What is the President doing for the opening day of Major League Baseball?

A: Andy Card, White House Chief of Staff:
President Bush is throwing out the opening day pitch at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The Cardinals are playing the Milwaukee Brewers. Since 1910, Presidents have traditionally rung in the new baseball year by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day.

The Vice President is throwing out the first pitch at The Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati as the Reds host the Chicago Cubs.

To see a history of Presidents and baseball, click here:

April 1, 2004 | 11:39 a.m.(EST)

Q: Steve from Alexandria, Virginia:
What do you think of today's Washington Post story which says that most Americans feel less safe since 9/11?

A: Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary:
The headline did not accurately reflect the actual survey results, and it leaves readers with the wrong impression. According to the survey from the nonpartisan Council for Excellence in Government, "Americans feel increasingly safe and secure. Nearly half (47%) of all Americans say that the United States is safer today than it was on September 11, 2001. When the same question was asked a year after the attacks, just 38% of Americans said that the country was safer than before. Americans see steady progress in the creation of a secure homeland. Fewer than one in five (18%) say that we are less safe today, and a third (34%) say that we are about as safe as we were two and a half years ago." These words are taken straight from the survey. In other words, 81% feel about as safe or safer than they were two and a half years ago, while only 18% feel less safe.

To see the full report, click here.

March 25, 2004 | 8:27 a.m.(EST)

Q: Ashley, from Philadelphia, PA.:
What is your reaction to today's news that the economy expanded at a 4.1 percent in the first quarter?

A: Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary:
That's another sign that the economy is strong and growing stronger. We're seeing sustained economic growth. Obviously, there are people that are still looking for work that cannot find work, and we need to continue to act to make sure that we're creating as robust an environment for job creation as possible.

We've had six straight months of new jobs being created. The unemployment rate at 5.6 percent is below the average of the '70s, '80s, and '90s. Productivity is high; disposable income is up. The economy is strong and growing stronger. It's moving in the right direction.

March 24, 2004 | 11:15 a.m.(EST)

Q: Ron, from El Cajon, California:
What do you think of today's reports that there was a sea on Mars? Do you believe there was life on Mars? Could there still be life on Mars?

A: Sean O'Keefe, NASA Administrator:
We think the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is in the vicinity of what was once a shoreline of a salty sea on the red planet. If we are correct in our interpretation, this was once a habitable environment. It's a salt flat.

These are the kinds of environments that are suitable for life on Earth, but we don't know if that was the case on Mars. We have not found any evidence of past life on Mars, but we will continue our efforts to gather data, and maybe eventually answer that intriguing question.


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