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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 25, 2005
Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
James S. Brady Briefing Room
12:40 P.M. EDT
MR. MCCLELLAN: Good afternoon, everybody. There are a number of important and pressing priorities that Congress is working to address this week, before they head home for the summer recess. We have been working very closely with Congress on these priorities. Those include the energy legislation, the Central American and Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement and the highway legislation.
Four years is long enough to wait for comprehensive energy legislation. The President put a comprehensive energy strategy on the table four years ago. We're pleased that the conference committee has been making important progress and working through the weekend. The President spoke with the four leaders of the conference committee yesterday and expressed his appreciation for their efforts and for their hard work to get an agreement done so that the legislation can get passed this week. The President continues to urge Congress to get that legislation to them before they leave town at the end of this week.
We also have been reaching out to members of the House to move forward on passing the Central American Free Trade Agreement. This is an important initiative that will help level the playing field and open an important market for our farmers and our producers and our products. Right now, 80 percent of the goods from Central America are coming into this nation duty free. We want to see a level playing field. And we also want to do our part to support the young and emerging democracies in Central America and show our support for them. This is an important initiative. The President is continuing to reach out to members of the House and urge passage of this agreement.
And, finally, on the highway legislation, Congress has been making important progress. The conference committee members have been working to move forward on a responsible piece of legislation that meets our transportation needs and keeps us well ahead of schedule to cut the deficit in half by 2009. And we are hopeful that they will get that to the President by the time that they recess, as well.
These are all very important priorities for the American people and the President will be focusing on those this week, as Congress continues to move forward.
Also, Judge Roberts has continued his consultations on the Hill. He is meeting with -- has or is meeting with an additional five senators today. Those include Democrats and Republicans. And these are part of his continuing courtesy visits before members head home for the rest of the summer.
And with that, I'll be glad to go to your questions.
Q Scott, are memos and documents written by Judge Roberts when he was working for the Reagan and the first Bush administration, are they fair game for the Senate to examine during the confirmation hearings?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, I think, in terms of documents it's all speculative at this point, because the Senate Judiciary Committee has not made a request of any specific documents from the administration at this point. As you heard from the Attorney General and Senator Thompson yesterday, we intend to work closely with the Senate Judiciary Committee to make sure that they have the appropriate information that they need to do their job, and that's what we have done in the past and that's what we will do as we move forward.
Q So the question is, though, then you're open to talking with them about giving them documents that Judge Roberts wrote during the previous two Republican administrations?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we want to work with the members of the Senate to make sure they have the appropriate information so that they can do their job. They have an important role to play. Now, Senator Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the committee, yesterday indicated that he has not made any requests at this point. So let's see what the requests are, and then we'll work with them as we move forward. I think you heard from Senator Thompson yesterday and he talked about information that could be related to attorney-client privilege, and I think that raises certain privacy concerns, and that's the point that Senator Thompson was making yesterday. And so we hope that people aren't going to be asking for things that they know, as he said, would be considered out of bounds.
Q Senator Leahy, whom you just mentioned, said there was no lawyer-client relationship when -- for Judge Roberts' term in the Justice Department.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Senator Leahy indicated he wasn't sure what he was going to ask for at this point. So let's see what the Judiciary Committee asks for. At this point, it's all hypothetical and speculative. We've made it very clear, as the Attorney General said yesterday, that we want to work with the Judiciary Committee and make sure that they have the appropriate information they need to do their job, and that's what we will do.
Q Scott, still on Judge Roberts. In 2003, he told the Christian Science Monitor that he did not consider the Rehnquist court a conservative court. What did he mean by that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I'm sure senators can ask him those questions. I haven't seen that specific article you're referencing. I'll be glad to take a look at it. But I think people have heard --
Q His views, along those lines, would have been the subject of his conversations with the President and other staff members, key advisers who were involved in the vetting, no?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Judge Roberts is someone who is exceptionally well qualified, and someone who is committed to making decisions in an impartial and open-minded way. He is someone who believes in interpreting the law, not making law from the bench. I'm not sure the context of his remarks, but certainly, there will be confirmation hearings going forward. And I'm sure Judge Roberts will welcome any opportunity to discuss such issues.
Q So that is -- that is to suggest that you think elaborating on that sort of answer is an appropriate area for him to discuss in the course of his hearings?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm not trying to prejudge questions from this podium or get into things of that nature. But, again, I mean --
Q That's an important statement that should be raised.
MR. McCLELLAN: Those are questions that can be raised -- that can be raised in the context of the confirmation hearings, and I know he looks forward to those confirmation hearings taking place once they return from their summer recess.
Q It was reported, as you know, that he was in the Federalist Society, which is an important legal group in the conservative -- on the conservative side. Then the White House said, no, it was not the case. And now it appears that he was part of the leadership group. What is the real story here?
MR. McCLELLAN: He has no memory of ever joining or paying dues to the Federalist Society. He has no recollection of that. He has participated in events and panel discussions. He's given speeches at Federalist Society forums. But he doesn't have any recollection of ever paying dues or joining the organization.
Q Isn't that kind of a simple thing to nail down, prior to now?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, David, he's answered this over the last few years the issue has come up, and he certainly has participated in some of the events that they've sponsored or that they've hosted. But he just doesn't have any memory of ever paying any dues to the organization.
Q Do Karl Rove and Scooter Libby still have top secret clearance here, access to classified documents?
MR. McCLELLAN: You asked this question last week, and --
Q I did. And I'm asking again.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- the President has said what our answer is to these questions. We'll be glad to talk about all these issues once the investigation is complete.
Q Do they have a clearance?
MR. McCLELLAN: We'll be glad to talk about all the issues relating to the investigation once it's complete.
Q Why can't you talk about it now?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that question I addressed a couple weeks ago.
Go ahead. Go ahead, Jessica.
Q Specifically on the issue David raised a minute ago, and, more broadly, is the White House committed to doing everything it can to releasing documents to clear up any confusion about Judge Roberts' past, his history, his involvement?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, it's all speculative at this point. There haven't been any requests made. But the Attorney General and Senator Thompson I think addressed our -- addressed those issues yesterday and made clear what our views are.
Q But will the White House work to get to the bottom of whether he belonged to the Federalist Society, to release to the public everything that can be known about Judge Roberts?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that we've -- that we've already addressed it. He has no recollection of ever joining the Federalist Society. But I think what's important for the American people to know is that he is someone who is highly qualified for this position, and he is someone who will make decisions based on the law and based on our Constitution, and not try to make law from the bench. He is someone who is viewed as impartial and open-minded and fair. And that's the type of judge that he has been for the last couple years and that he will be once he's on the Supreme Court.
Q But it sounds like you're suggesting the White House is not committed to releasing whatever documents it feels are --
MR. McCLELLAN: There haven't been any requests made of us, Jessica, so it's all speculative at this point.
Q On another topic, what is the President doing to sort of mitigate the fallout from the disputes within the labor unions right now? Is he at all involved in this? Is he concerned?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think that that's a matter for those organizations to address. That's a political matter for them to address. The President has a long record of reaching out to working Americans and working families, and he's been appreciative of the support that he's received for his agenda. I think his agenda is one that improves the quality of life of all Americans, particularly working Americans. And if you look at what we've done on the economy, we have provided substantial tax relief to working families, so that they have more to save and spend and invest as they so choose, and we have a strong record of working to support working Americans. And that's what I would point to.
But in terms of those issues, those are matters for those organizations to address. We have reached out to a number of organizations that you reference to find ways we can work together on common priorities. And that includes, like, the Carpenter's Union --
Q -- today?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, this is previously. We've worked well with them on a number of important issues in the past. And the President will continue to move forward on an agenda that is inclusive and reaches out to all Americans, and particularly working Americans.
Q Scott, The L.A. Times has a column today, and is reporting on these informal discussions that Judge Roberts had last week with senators. Senator Durbin asked him what he would do if the law required a ruling that his church, the Catholic Church, considered immoral. And Judge Roberts is said to have said he would probably have to recuse himself.
MR. McCLELLAN: What is this from?
Q This is a column in today's Los Angeles Times.
MR. McCLELLAN: A column by an individual?
Q Jonathon Turley.
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know about -- well, I know who he is. I don't know all the discussions that Judge Roberts has had with members of the Senate. He's had good discussions with a number of them already, and those discussions are continuing. That's part of the ongoing consultations ahead of the confirmation hearings. But I do know that Judge Roberts has said in previous testimony that personal beliefs or views have no role whatsoever when it comes to decisions that judges make. And he's indicated there is nothing that is in his personal views that would prevent him from faithfully and fully applying the law. And that's something he has said in previous testimony. So I'm not sure all the specifics about any conversations or what he's referencing.
Q Scott, from the podium here you've articulated, and I think at various other points the President has articulated, the dangers of having one-on-one discussions with the North Koreans, and thus, he's re-enforced the need to conduct these talks with five other countries -- or four other partners. In that context, can you explain why there was a one-on-one session today that lasted 50-90 minutes?
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure, and I think our Assistant Secretary, Chris Hill, has already talked about it, as well. He has had -- or our delegation in China has had separate discussions with each of the parties to the six-party process. So we've sat down with each of those delegations. And I think that in terms of North Korea, Assistant Secretary Hill has reported back that it was a very businesslike exchange of information focused on the way forward. But it was not a negotiating session; it was more of a discussion to talk about modalities for the six-party talks.
I know China was hosting a dinner this evening, as well, for all the delegations. The discussions will begin tomorrow through the six-party talks, but -- I mean, if you look back in the past, when we've had bilateral contacts within the context of the six-party talks previously.
Q In the past, though, those sessions have usually been pull-asides from a general session. I don't recall one occurring quite like this, where you have a separate meeting with the North Koreans before the talks start. I believe it's the first. And so I'm trying to figure out if there is a new approach.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he had it with all five delegations --
Q That happened before the other four --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- our delegation met ahead of tomorrow's talks with all five delegations. And, again, these weren't negotiating sessions, these were simply discussions to talk about modalities and things of that nature.
Q You would not acknowledge that this was a different approach to the way you've conducted in the past with the --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if you're suggesting it was negotiations, no, not at all. We've had discussions with North Korea in the past through the New York channel and other means, and so that's something we've talked about before.
But let me just back up and talk to you about what Assistant Secretary Hill, who is leading our delegation over there, has reported back. He has said that the atmosphere for the talks is a good one. All parties are ready to get to work and want to see progress. We all want to see a nuclear-free peninsula, and we have a proposal that we've put on the table and we want to make progress on that proposal in these talks. That's an important element of this round of talks. And I think everybody has indicated that they're committed to making progress on the goal of a de-nuclearized peninsula.
Go ahead, Elaine.
Q On the leak investigation, does President Bush feel that it was appropriate for there to be an 11 or 12-hour time gap from the time that Chief of Staff Andy Card was notified that an investigation was underway to the time that staff here at the White House, including him --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has said that -- and the President directed the White House at the beginning of the investigation to cooperate fully with those overseeing the investigation. And that is exactly what we have done, and that's what we did in that context, as well. If you will recall, back on October 1st of 2003, these questions came up and I addressed it at that time. So you might want to go back and look at that discussion during that briefing.
Q But in the spirit of cooperation, and you had indicted on October 1, 2003, that the reason that the Justice Department was asked, is it okay to wait until the morning, and the answer was that it was okay, but in the spirit of cooperation, why did the notification not go out until 11 or 12 hours later?
MR. McCLELLAN: I talked about that in that briefing, and addressed all those questions at that time. And the President has made it clear that we should cooperate fully with the investigation. That's what we have done, that's what we continue to do.
Q Scott, how did the White House select the African American leaders that were invited today to meet with the President? And who all was going to be in that meeting?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't have all the names in front of me. We'll be glad to get you the names of those leaders. If I get out of this room early enough, I'll go to that meeting and be glad to provide a readout to whoever wants it. But the President has had a number of meetings over the years with African American leaders and people from all communities. This is another round of those meetings and discussions that he has with people from all walks of life.
And today's meeting will include faith-based and community leaders, it will include business leaders. And the President looks forward to sitting down with these leaders in the Roosevelt Room and talking to them about the substantive progress that we made at the G8 summit in Scotland on issues that are important to all of us. We have made an unprecedented commitment to Africa, and we made some important progress to eliminate debt for countries in Africa. We made some important progress on moving forward on combating the scourge of HIV/AIDS. And the President looks forward to talking about these issues with these leaders.
He also looks forward to talking about the faith-based and community initiative that we are pursuing, and how we can move forward on that. And he also is going to let them know that next March we're going to host a corporate and philanthropic summit here in Washington to look at ways that we can continue to remove barriers to encourage charitable giving to faith-based and community organizations. That's been a high priority for the President.
Q But these are all Republican-friendly African American leaders that --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I don't know that I would characterize them that way. I think you should look at the list, and you can obviously ask individuals what their views are. But I think it represents a diverse cross-section of leaders from the African American community.
Q Can you give us the list?
MR. McCLELLAN: I said I'd be glad to get you the names.
Q You said, look at the list -- but can you give us the list?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I said I'd be glad to get you the names.
Q Who from the administration will be in the meeting?
MR. McCLELLAN: Jim Towey is someone who is spearheading this meeting. And I'll be glad to get you names of others who attend the meeting, as well.
Q Back during the Miguel Estrada hearings, the administration was pretty stalwart in its refusal to provide the documents that it considered to be attorney-client privilege. Is that a principle that is likely to slide in any way now that we are talking about a Supreme Court nomination?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, I appreciate the question, and I think Senator Thompson talked about it on some of the Sunday shows yesterday. In terms of documents that may or may not be requested, I mean, it's all speculation at this point. The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to make any requests of us. I think we need to let those requests be made and we'll go from there. But I think the Attorney General emphasized that our goal is to work in a way to make sure that they have the appropriate information that they need and we're going to continue working closely with the Judiciary Committee as we move forward.
You do raise an issue that Senator Thompson talked about yesterday, and I think that when it comes to attorney-client privilege, there are certain privacy concerns that you have to take into account. You have to take into account the concerns that the client may have. And I think that if you look back that that has long been something that in many instances has been considered out of bounds, and that's what Senator Thompson talked about yesterday. And so we would hope people wouldn't make such requests that they know that are considered out of bounds and that can't be fulfilled because of those privacy issues.
Q Thank you. Scott, newspaper reports say Secretary of State doesn't seem to be making progress in her shuttle diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinians. Has the President been working the phones with Sharon and Abbas, and is he considering making (inaudible) to try and get the peace process jump started?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in terms of -- we have been very engaged in the Middle East peace process, and we have been very engaged in working with the parties in the region to move forward on Prime Minister Sharon's bold proposal for withdrawing from Gaza. This presents us with an historic opportunity. Secretary Rice is now back from her trip. She had good discussions with all the parties. The President is going to be meeting with her this afternoon. He looks forward to hearing from her on the update on the progress that was made on her trip.
But I think that she has said that the parties are coordinating and working together to move forward on the disengagement effort. It's important that everybody -- that both parties make maximum effort to make sure that this is successful. That's why we have General Ward in the region in the Palestinian Territories helping to restructure the security forces for the Palestinians. That's why the Quartet appointed an envoy, Jim Wolfensohn, to go in and help make sure that economic issues are addressed so that when Israel moves forward on the disengagement plan that we can move forward on establishing the conditions necessary for a viable state to emerge. And that's what the President is committed to.
So we must keep our focus on the disengagement plan right now, and all parties need to continue making maximum effort on that front. There are those who seek to derail these efforts through terrorist acts and violence, and everybody needs to do their part to go after those who seek to carry out such attacks.
Q Yes, Scott, can you assure us that Andrew Card did not speak to either -- or did not tell the President or Karl Rove or Scooter Libby or anybody else about the Justice Department investigation?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, again, those questions came up back in October of 2003 and I addressed them at the time.
Q May I ask one follow-up?
MR. McCLELLAN: You may. Go ahead.
Q I know that none of you are speaking about this because it's an ongoing investigation. Can you explain why Alberto Gonzales would go on TV yesterday and do that, and talk about it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what he said was already said from this podium back in October of 2003, and I don't think he got into commenting in any substantive way on the discussion. But the President has said that we will be glad to talk about this once the investigation has come to a conclusion, but not until then. And there have certainly been preferences expressed to the White House that we not get into discussing it while it is ongoing.
Q Scott, a two-part. Sean Hannity has just rebroadcast Senator Orrin Hatch's statement that Senator Charles Schumer's questioning of nominee John Roberts was so hostile in 2003 that they were, in Senator Hatch's expressed and twice repeated definition, "dumb-ass questions," which characterization Senator Hatch repeated twice and refused to retract --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, was this the confirmation hearings or -- no, never mind. (Laughter.)
Q This was in 2003. Does the White House expect that Senator Schumer will be any less hostile next month or in early September, and stop asking such questions?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President is optimistic that the Senate is going to move forward in a dignified way on the confirmation process, one that rises above partisanship. There has been positive reception across the political aisle for the nomination that the President made. I think people on both sides of the aisle recognize that he is someone who is exceptionally well qualified for this position, and the President looks forward to continuing to work closely with the Senate as they move forward on the confirmation hearings. And we hope that it will be one that all Americans can be proud of, because the nominee that the President selected is someone that all Americans can be proud of. And I think the American people expect us to put aside partisanship and move forward in a dignified and civil way.
Q Scott, Senator Majority Leader Frist has issued a strong defense of the Boy Scouts of America and has deplored the ACLU's suing them. And my question: When he addresses the Boy Scout National Jamboree on Wednesday, will the President agree with, or ignore Senator Frist's support of the Boy Scouts?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know if that's an issue that he's necessarily getting into in his remarks, but let me wait until we get closer to the event and then we can talk about his --
Q Will that be "no"?
MR. McCLELLAN: We can talk about his remarks at that time. But it's a little premature to kind of preview those remarks for Wednesday.
Q It's Wednesday, it's almost on top of us.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I'm not sure that the President has had an opportunity to really look through his remarks and make any changes or additions to it.
Go ahead, Roger.
Q Scott, Senator Grassley says the final energy bill should be done as early as Friday, maybe before, and it will contain about $10 billion in various tax breaks and subsidies. What does the White House think about $10 billion? Is that excessive or --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we put forward our views. I mean, we had a lot of -- or we had some resources that we dedicated for energy efficiency and for renewables, and we thought that was an important priority in the bill. Now, the President, last week when he met with the leaders of the conference and others here at the White House, he reiterated that he doesn't think we need to be providing tax credits to oil companies when the price of oil is above $50 a barrel. So we think that those resources ought to be targeted toward what we outlined in our comprehensive energy strategy.
Now, with that said, we recognize that there are negotiations going on between the members of the conference committee and we're continuing to work closely with them and let them know what our views are. But we appreciate the great progress that is being made under Chairman Barton's leadership. He's heading up the conference committee. And we appreciate the leadership of Senators Domenici and Bingaman, and Congressman Dingell, as well.
Q What about the MTBE thing? That's been dropped. Does the White House have any concern over that?
MR. McCLELLAN: My understanding is that the conferees have dropped that out of the legislation. We have always said that we would be willing to work with them and assist in any way we can, but that was something for them to work out and try to find an agreement on. And my understanding is now that it's off the table. But we'll let the conferees continue to do their work.
Go ahead, April.
Q Scott, on the African American leaders meeting with the President. One, is Karl Rove involved in this meeting today? Because the last meeting, many of the African American leaders said he played such a key role, he was very supportive of what they were talking about, particularly when they were discussing the issue of Social Security, he wanted to have a conversation with some of them, a sidebar conversation as to their thoughts.
And, two, is Social Security going to be on the agenda, because the last two meetings, at least, that was a major topic of discussion with the African American leaders. And, three, as far as the G8 summit -- I have to put them all in there -- as far as the G8 summit on Africa, some say that, you know, you shouldn't look at it as a victory lap, because that is repackaged monies that you've made to look like it's all new going to Africa.
MR. McCLELLAN: April, I think that if you look at the President's record, he has made an unprecedented commitment when it comes to Africa. I don't think any prior President has done more than the President of the United States when it comes to helping the people of Africa and helping those in need. And you have to look at everything that we're doing. You have to look at what we're doing on the HIV/AIDS initiative, the President's Emergency Relief Plan. You have to look at what we're doing to eliminate debt for countries in Africa. You have to look at what we're doing to expand trade and opportunity in Africa, because that's the best way to lift people out of poverty. And this President has made Africa a top priority in his administration. He recognizes how important it is, and he is also strongly committed to helping those in the region who are suffering.
And so I would take exception to your characterization of the President's -- well, the characterization that you referenced.
And in terms of who was in the meeting, I didn't check the exact staff list, but it wouldn't surprise me if he was in the meeting. He's the Deputy Chief of Staff here at the White House.
Q And also the one on Social Security?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let's let the meeting take place. I mean, I know that the President, I think, wants to talk about the G8 summit and our commitment to Africa and what we're doing when it comes to Africa and how we've tripled the amount of aid to that and how we've committed to doubling aid by 2010 to Africa. And in terms of other issues, I imagine he'll talk about the faith-based initiative. I know this is a shared priority with many members who will be here today. And let's let the other discussions take place and then I'll be able to report back to you.
Q Scott, lately we have been in the news. My short comment is part of my question. First of all, I am really thankful to the President for inviting me to the grand State Dinner for the Prime Minister of India last week; it was great.
Q I wasn't there --
MR. McCLELLAN: There are other opportunities.
Q But my -- one of my comment is that, again, I said before that I am really thankful to this press corps, White House press corps, that you have been so supporting and helpful and also very kind and nice to me for those years -- 15 or for also 25 years here at the White House, ever since President Clinton.
MR. McCLELLAN: I appreciate that. Let's get to your question, because I do want to try to meet this meeting with --
Q You're a nice guy. (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: -- or make it to this meeting.
Q What I'm saying, Scott, that why do you have problems that I should ask the same questions that everybody asked, because when the Prime Minister of India is here, I should not ask the same questions everybody is asking. I did the same thing during President Clinton. Why should I ask about Monica Lewinsky when Prime Minister of India --
MR. McCLELLAN: People in this room have the right to ask whatever questions -- have the right to ask whatever questions they want.
Q What I'm saying is really that it was a grand -- beyond red carpet -- what India Globe said that Prime Minister of India got from the President and from the United States and also grand -- renewed of new friendship and new relations between the United States and India.
What my question is that from this -- from that grand dinner and red carpet -- beyond red carpet welcome, where we do go and also because I have not seen much in other paper. Like, I didn't come for the last two days, and I didn't see any question on the Prime Minister of India in town, rather than other question. So where -- what President --
MR. McCLELLAN: The two leaders had a very good visit. The President appreciated the call from Prime Minister Singh after he had returned to India expressing his deep appreciation for the hospitality that the President and Mrs. Bush showed.
We were able to move forward on some important priorities. That was all listed in the joint statement that we put out, and I appreciate your interest in those important issues.
Let me keep going. Let me keep going. Bill. I need to keep going.
Q Scott, you talked about various dimensions of this meeting with African Americans. Is there also a political dimension? In other words, could it be viewed as part of the GOP's broader outreach to try to peel off some support from the Democratic Party, some black support from the Democratic Party?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President has a long record of reaching out to people from all walks of life, and reaching out to people from all communities across America. He has met with Africa American leaders on numerous occasions. He just went to Indiana and spoke to a large audience of African American leaders, where he talked about important priorities that we share. And so the President intends to continue reaching out to people from all walks of life. That's what he has done ever since his days as governor.
Go ahead, Connie.
Q Question and a follow-up on North Korea. Does the United States have any reaction to the very tragic shooting of the innocent person in Great Britain? Have you reached out to the British government on that issue?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that the British government has addressed that, or the -- Scotland Yard has expressed their deep regret for that tragic incident. And in terms of the investigation into the attacks, that is something that continues. We continue to assist British authorities as they move forward to determine who was responsible and to bring those to justice who were involved in this attack on innocent people in London.
And I think it's a grim reminder, as well as the attacks that occurred in Sharm el-Sheikh on Friday, that we are at war on terrorism. It is a long-term, ideological struggle. The terrorists want to weaken our resolve. They want to see us retreat. We will not. We will prevail, and we will defeat them.
The international community is united in our efforts to defeat the ideology of hatred and oppression that they espouse. And the way to do that is to continue to take the fight to the enemy. But it's a determined and patient and lethal enemy, but we will not grow complacent. And the way to do that, to prevail over their ideology, is to continue to advance freedom, to offer hope and opportunity, rather than their ideology of fear and chaos and violence and hatred.
Q Do you have any sympathy for what happened, or do you think the British policeman was trigger-happy?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the British authorities have addressed that matter, and it was a terrible tragedy.
Q Congress is going home in a few days. How does the President approach the question of recess appointments? Does he see that as a sort of last resort, a back door, legitimate approach? How does he approach that question?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I don't want to get into speculating about anything that may or may not occur at this point. There is still this final week before they do recess. There are a number of nominees that I think the Senate is prepared to move forward on. We encourage them to act on those nominees.
In terms of recess appointments, there have been times when the President has used that authority that he has to get people in place that have waited far too long to get about doing their business. And I think that's the way that he approaches it, that there are important priorities we're working to advance, and it's important to have people in certain positions. And if the Senate fails to act and move forward on those nominees, then sometimes there comes a point where the President has needed to fill that in a timely manner by recessing those nominees.
Q Would the U.N. pick fall into that category?
MR. McCLELLAN: There's nothing that's changed, in terms of what we said previously on that at this point.
Q Scott, given the importance of energy resources to national security, and China's perceived military build up, and the possible threats it poses, what is the administration's stance on China wanting to purchase Unocal?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think anything has changed in terms of that. If that were to go forward, there are some procedures that are in place to address that. And we would expect that those procedures be followed.
Q Would the administration try to oppose it in any way, given the national security --
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, there are procedures that are in place to address those issues, and we would expect those procedures to be followed if the bid were to go forward.
Q Last Thursday the White House threatened to veto the defense bill if it includes standards for the humane treatment of prisoners, drafted by Republican Senator John McCain. And also on Thursday the Pentagon refused to comply with a court order to release photos and videos of prisoner abuse in Iraq. Don't these documented cases of abuse suggest that the U.S. military should adopt higher standards for the humane treatment of prisoners?
MR. McCLELLAN: A couple things, and I appreciate the question. We did put out a position paper that is available for you to look at, talking about some of our concerns when it comes to the defense authorization bill that the Senate is moving forward on. We certainly would have concerns if there are amendments that some people seek that would interfere with the President's ability to effectively conduct the global war on terrorism. And there are some amendments that people have suggested that we believe might be unnecessary or duplicative. We want to make sure that there is nothing that restricts the President's authority to be able to do what he needs to do to protect the American people and prevent attacks from happening in the first place, and bring to justice those who seek to murder innocent civilians.
Now, in terms of issues relating to allegations of abuse of detainees, this administration has taken those allegations very seriously. That's why we have moved forward to hold people accountable, and we have made sure that justice is served to those who were involved in any wrongdoing. But there are laws and treaty obligations that are in place and that we follow. And the Department of Defense has made it very clear that when it comes to detainees, that they treat them in a humane fashion. And that's consistent --
Q But they're not being treated humanely.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- with what our laws and obligations call for.
Q Yes, thank you. There has been a lot of speculation concerning the meaning of the underlying statute and the grand jury investigation concerning Mr. Rove. The question is, have the legal counsel to the White House or White House staff reviewed the statute in sufficient specificity to determine whether a violation of that statute would, in effect, constitute treason?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think that in terms of decisions regarding the investigation, those are matters for those overseeing the investigation to decide.
Q Thank you.
MR. McCLELLAN: Thank you.
END 1:17 P.M. EDT
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