For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 18, 2005
Press Gaggle with Dana Perino
Crawford Middle School
11:25 A.M. CDT
MS. PERINO: All right. I think we're ready now. Today the Attorney General, Secretary Leavitt from HHS and the Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Walters, they'll be visiting a treatment center for methamphetamine addicts and Davidson County Drug Court and treatment center in Nashville, Tennessee. There, they will announce new tools in our ongoing efforts to target methamphetamine. The President recognizes the significant challenges that this dangerous drug presents to the federal, state and especially local law enforcement. He's directed his administration to take aggressive and collaborative action. So these Cabinet agencies have come -- or the two Cabinet agencies and Director Walters have come together to focus on four core areas: prevention and treatment, law enforcement, education, and management of the drug's unique consequences.
I should note that since taking office the President has seen a substantial drop in teen drug use -- overall a 17 percent decline in youth drug use since 2001, and methamphetamine use by teens is down by 25 percent. There has been a decrease in the number of "super labs" in America and a 54 percent decline in rural drug use. But significant challenges remain.
So following the event, the Attorney General, Secretary Leavitt and Director Walters will have a conference call at 2:00 p.m. central. I can get you the details on that later. And they'll have a couple of announcements to make in that. So I'll let them do that, and I'll take your questions.
Q Dana, what are Senator Lugar's marching orders in Libya?
MS. PERINO: I don't have anything for you beyond what -- the statement that was released this morning. I can tell you that he will be in Libya August 19th through the 20th.
Q Do you know if he'll be meeting with Ghadafi?
MS. PERINO: Nothing for you on that. His schedule is still being ironed out.
Q Is he the highest-ranking emissary the U.S. has sent to Libya since it abandoned its WMD program?
MS. PERINO: The information I have is that -- I believe senior officials from the State and Treasury Departments have traveled to Libya recently, and so I'd refer you to them to find out a little bit more on that. I'm sorry, you asked me which dates -- it was the 19th through the 20th, two days.
Q Senator Feingold, today, I think he became the first senator to call for a complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq, he said by December 31, 2006. Your reaction?
MS. PERINO: Our reaction? The President has talked about this many times, as have many other members of the Defense Department, as well as other members of the Senate. The President believes that setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, who need to know that we are not going to leave before completing the mission. It would also send the wrong message to our troops. We are serious about completing the mission, and they need to know that they have our full support. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy, who, as the President has said many times, would just then have to wait us out. So as the President has said, we're going to stay in Iraq as long as we're needed, but not a day longer.
Q What are the coverage plans for Lance Armstrong's visit on Saturday?
MS. PERINO: It is closed press. The White House will release a photograph. Discovery Channel has an exclusive to tapes and video.
Q So Discovery Channel is doing filming?
MS. PERINO: Yes.
Q I can't hear a thing. That was Lance Armstrong?
MS. PERINO: Lance Armstrong will be here on Saturday to --
Q That's closed press?
MS. PERINO: It is closed press.
Q No pool, nothing?
MS. PERINO: No pool.
Q They're going to be biking entirely within the confines of the ranch. Is that true?
MS. PERINO: That's my understanding, yes.
Q And Discovery Channel has an exclusive what? How are they doing that?
MS. PERINO: To shoot some video.
Q Can you repeat what -- I couldn't hear Dick. Your understanding is what about the biking?
MS. PERINO: He asked if they riding within the confines of the ranch boundaries, and I think that's true.
Q Dana, do you have any reaction -- does the President have any reaction to the vigils last night? Did he see anything on television?
MS. PERINO: I don't have an update as to whether or not he saw anything on television. We were -- I was aware of the vigil and I think that many Americans were, but I have nothing to add from before.
Q There's no reaction from the White House to the vigils?
MS. PERINO: The President has said that he sympathizes with Ms. Sheehan. He has met with her before. He appreciates the opportunities that he has to meet with families of the fallen or -- and families that have men and women, sons and daughters, and mothers and fathers that are serving in the war on terror. He's listened to their -- to views of people like Ms. Sheehan and he respects them, but he disagrees.
Q Some of the moms today are planning to have letters delivered to Mrs. Bush. Do you know if there will be a procedure for her to actually receive those?
MS. PERINO: I don't know anything about -- that's the first I've heard of that, and I'll have to see. There are proper channels in order to get letters.
Q They're going to try to deliver them to the Secret Service.
MS. PERINO: I'll have to check into that. I don't know. Yes, Mark?
Q Dana, has the President decided that he will not meet again with Cindy Sheehan? Is she wasting her time?
MS. PERINO: The President has said she has a right to peacefully protest and to be there and to express her views, but he has met with her before and there's no change in the schedule.
Q Before going to war with Iraq, did the President take into consideration the State Department's February, 2003 warning of serious planning gaps for post-war security, as described in a memo that came out from George Washington University?
MS. PERINO: I saw the news reports on that. I'd refer you to the State Department for the specific memo comment on that. You know, the State Department and the Defense Department, the President, and Scott, from the podium, have talked about this before, and Secretary Rumsfeld and Secretary Rice have addressed it.
What I can tell you is that we are looking ahead. Eight-and-a-half million Iraqis voted nine months ago to have a democracy in their country. Their representatives are working on a constitution that will be possibly the most important historic document of that country's history. The Iraqi army is being trained to take over the security for their own country and the international community stands behind them. So as far as the specific memo, Sean McCormack is briefing at 12:30 p.m.
Q Did the President see that memo, do you know?
MS. PERINO: I don't know. Yes, Molly?
Q What does the President think about Israel's handle of the Gaza pullout today? And did he seen any of the video of how it happened there?
MS. PERINO: I know that he's getting frequent and regular updates from his staff on the developments. He's being kept aware of -- I don't know about the video, in particular. The President continues to support Prime Minister Sharon and what he has called a very bold initiative; it's very courageous. We understand the deep sentiments that are felt and the difficulty one feels when leaving a -- their home.
We agree that the disengagement will only make Israel stronger. We agree with Prime Minister Sharon on that. And the President has also said that this will bring our two countries closer together.
Q Dana, we know he supports the withdrawal, but what does he think about how it's going? Is he concerned, for example, yesterday, there were four Palestinians killed by an Israeli. There's been, I think, no deaths today, but it's certainly a struggle.
MS. PERINO: The murder yesterday of four Palestinians, it was a terrible act of violence, and we commend Prime Minister Sharon for immediately denouncing it as terrorism. And as Secretary Rice said this morning, everyone empathizes with what the Israelis are facing, and that includes the President.
Q Does he think it's going well, though?
MS. PERINO: He's getting regular updates, and I don't have anything for you beyond that.
Q What about on Governor Taft? Does the President have any reaction to his -- I guess now pleading no contest to charges?
MS. PERINO: I saw the news reports on that, but I haven't -- I have to get back to you on it.
Q We don't know if he's seen them?
MS. PERINO: I don't know.
Q Are there any details on the Idaho and Utah trip next week?
MS. PERINO: There's no public events on the Tuesday. But if that changes, I'll let you know.
Q Back to Lance Armstrong for a minute. Will he spend a night, Friday to Saturday night, at the ranch?
MS. PERINO: I don't think so.
Q What was that?
MS. PERINO: He asked if Lance Armstrong was staying the night at the ranch, and I don't believe so.
Q Dana, can you yet not say what the President is doing on Tuesday in Donnelly?
MS. PERINO: I just don't have an update. There's just no public events.
Is that all?
Q Will he be riding his bike in Idaho?
MS. PERINO: I don't know.
Q Senator Schumer is proposing today to extend and strengthen tariffs on China to make up for what he says is their undervalued currency and the problems that that causes with our dollar. Have you seen this, and do you have any --
MS. PERINO: No, that's the first I've heard of it, so I'd have to check into it for you. You might want to check with Treasury.
Q How is the President spending his day?
MS. PERINO: I know that this morning he got his normal briefings.
Q And recreation?
MS. PERINO: I don't have an update for you on that. Okay?
Q Can you give us an update on recreation?
MS. PERINO: I'll work on it.
MS. PERINO: Thank you.
END 11:35 A.M. CDT