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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 30, 2005
Press Gaggle by Trent Duffy
Crawford Middle School
12:32 P.M. CST
MR. DUFFY: Let me update you on the President's day. This morning he taped his radio address on the outlook for the year ahead, which includes focusing on our country's top two priorities, which are winning the war on terror and keeping the American economy growing strong and creating more and more jobs.
He then had his normal briefings, which included a briefing on both the wildfire situation in the Southwest, as well as the flooding and rainfall in the Pacific Northwest. As you know, the Agriculture Department issued a press release two days ago that outlined some of the federal government resources that are being applied in the wildfire situation.
He then did some brush clearing and just completed a bike ride before I came out. This afternoon he's scheduled to sign several pieces of legislation which several of you have been inquiring about, including the Patriot Act extension, the Labor-HHS appropriations bill, which does include the provision on the citizenship of Olympic skaters, and the Defense emergency supplemental appropriations bill, which among other things, includes additional aid for the Gulf Coast, as well as the government's preparation for pandemic flu.
Our aim is to have a photo release of him signing the Labor-HHS appropriations bill for your use, should you decide to use it. There will be some other paper coming out today, including the President's New Year's Day message, which we'll release right after the gaggle. And we'll have our normal announcements on all the bill signings that he's done, but there's going to be some paperwork -- we'll try to get it out as soon as we can. I think he'll start signing bills here within the hour. I don't know exactly, but that's kind of the target. So we'll try to get that information out to you as soon as we can.
The week ahead we'll do at the end. I think that's what I have.
Q Is the White House the ones that requested the Justice Department investigation into the NSA leaks?
MR. DUFFY: No, as the President said, the Justice Department undertook this action on its own, which is the way it should be. The President spoke directly about how he felt about the leaking of classified information, and the White House was informed of the decision, as was the President. And you have his own words about how he feels about the leaking of classified information. I think it's plain to say that the terrorists want to strike America again and they hope to inflict even greater damage than they did on September the 11th. The leaking of classified information is a serious issue. The fact is that al Qaeda's playbook is not printed on page one, and when America's is, it has serious ramifications. You don't need to be Sun Tzu to understand that. (Laughter.)
So the country is at war against a determined, patient, and ruthless enemy, and that enemy attacked America repeatedly and wants to do so again.
Q Can you give us just some details on when he was informed?
MR. DUFFY: He was informed today. Yes.
MR. DUFFY: Yes.
Q Who informed him?
MR. DUFFY: Senior staff.
All right, week ahead?
Q Can you talk about some of the things he's done this week to get ready for '06 and the State of the Union? Has he had people up here in meetings, or has he talked to people on phone conference or videoconference?
MR. DUFFY: I think the best way to describe it is he's just reflecting really on the way we've been discussing, earlier this week, been reflecting back, looking forward. Just like all of us, when you're outdoors and taking a break, you have time to think about things, and that's the process that he's going through. He has spoken, himself, about how he values his time out of Washington, because it helps him stay grounded. And that's really all I have.
Q Can you tell us -- has he been talking on the phone --
MR. DUFFY: Don't have anything for you on that. He hasn't had any guests that I know of. Just Mrs. Welch.
Q Any more information about his visit to San Antonio?
MR. DUFFY: More information on the visit to San Antonio? No. I think, for planning purposes, he may hand out some purple awards, Purple Heart awards -- pardon me. He may present some. And that's really all I have. I think we anticipated that most of the wounded soldiers, as I said earlier this week, are going to be from the Iraq theater, but we'll get more information on that.
Q Scott had said that the President was not going to sign an extension of the Patriot Act -- temporary extension of the Patriot Act. Were there any sort of discussions of whether or not he should so this after saying that he wasn't going to?
MR. DUFFY: Well, the President spoke repeatedly about why the permanent extension of the Patriot Act is necessary. This is a one month extension. He wants to have the Patriot Act permanently reauthorized and renewed. It is a vital tool for protecting the American people. Law enforcement desperately wants it; this is strongly supported by the Fraternal Order of Police, FBI. And we need to give law enforcement the same tools to track down terrorists that we give them to track down white collar criminals and drug runners. And so the President believes it's necessary to keep that in place, and we need to work hard, and he's going to work hard with the Congress to make sure that we get that important law renewed.
Q -- compromises in that, dealing with congressional oversight -- greater congressional oversight of how the act is enforced?
MR. DUFFY: We'll continue to work with the Congress as it returns next session. You know the administration's view on how important this is, and to continue to make sure that law enforcement has what it needs to do the job.
Q Is there anything on CAFTA, on whether or not it's going to be implemented next year, CAFTA?
MR. DUFFY: On CAFTA?
MR. DUFFY: I don't -- see whether it's going to be implemented next year?
Q Yes, are we ready to implement next year --
MR. DUFFY: You might want to check with USTR. I'll see what I can find out, Suzanne.
Q Trent, on the Patriot Act, I still don't understand why when the Senate was considering a three month extension, the White House threatened to veto, so the Senate passed a six-month extension; then when the House insisted on a five-week extension, the President is now going to accept that.
MR. DUFFY: Suffice it to say, our law enforcement community needs this. He's not satisfied with a one-month extension. But we've got to get that in place, and we've got to work with them to get it permanently reextended, if that's a word.
Q The National Response Plan, on Katrina, the lessons learned, when is that?
MR. DUFFY: The lessons learned review is undergoing -- excuse me, is ongoing. And as the Homeland Security advisor mentioned at the outset of the exercise, she is planning to finalize that in coming, I'd say, weeks. It has been a very productive exercise. She's met with hundreds of officials both in and out of government, and state and local, she's traveled to the region, she has a very effective team of professionals working on this review. They are working out of the Old Executive Office Building, and they're doing an exceptional job. So I anticipate something on that in the coming weeks.
Q And he still hasn't met with any speechwriters, right, on the State of the Union?
MR. DUFFY: Mark asked that earlier this week, and just to be fair to Mark, I said at the time he hadn't met with anybody this week. He has back in Washington met with speechwriters at least once to begin the process of thinking about the State of the Union. So apologies to Mr. Knoller.
Okay. Again, Sunday, January 1st, visit to the Brooke Army Medical Center, as was previously noted.
Monday, January 2nd, no public events.
Tuesday, January 3rd, meeting on the Patriot Act in the Roosevelt Room.
Q Who is that with?
MR. DUFFY: Don't know. I will put that at the end.
Wednesday, January 4th, he will make a statement on the global war on terror at the Pentagon.
On Thursday, January 5th, he will be meeting with the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, former Secretaries of State and former Secretaries of Defense in the Roosevelt Room. And that will be to discuss the war on terror and our challenges in Iraq and winning the war in Iraq. Then he will have a photo opportunity with the 2005 Little League Softball World Series Champions in the Oval Office. And he will later make remarks to the U.S. University Presidents Summit on International Education -- that's at the State Department.
And on Friday, the 6th, the President will travel to Chicago and participate in a tour of the Chicago Board of Trade, and make remarks on the economy at the Hilton Chicago.
Thank you, and happy New Year.
Q On Monday, are you -- is Scott or you doing briefings on Monday, do you know?
MR. DUFFY: Federal holiday.
Q Sorry, what about tomorrow?
MR. DUFFY: Saturday.
Q What about the President tomorrow? What is he planning tomorrow?
MR. DUFFY: I just updated you on the President's schedule.
Q But tomorrow is Saturday, and you started with Sunday.
MR. DUFFY: Correct.
Q So on Saturday, like for New Year's Eve, how does he celebrate, or what does he do?
MR. DUFFY: Let me see what I can get, and I'll see what I can do for a pool report tomorrow, or something like that, to get some color for you. Also still working on those New Year's resolutions -- not mine, his.
END 12:43 P.M. CST
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