For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 17, 2006
Press Gaggle by Trent Duffy
Aboard Air Force One
En route Tampa, Florida
11:01 A.M. EST
MR. DUFFY: All right. This morning the President taped his radio address, it's on energy and, specifically, investing in new technologies, specifically, nuclear energy. And he does discuss the global-nuclear energy partnership that you have heard about. He then had his normal briefings.
And we are on our way to MacDill, where he will have a briefing by Central Command and the Special Operations Command about the war on terror. That briefing will include General Abizaid by secure video teleconference; General Brown, who is the Commander of the Special Operations Command; Lieutenant General Dailey, from the Special Operations Command; and Vice Admiral David Nichols, who is the Deputy Commander of Central Command; also as part of the briefing will be General Kimmitt. There will be others, and you'll have the pool in there, as well.
Q Will they just be there at the top?
Q Can you give us a list of the participants?
MR. DUFFY: We'll see what we get out as far as the participants in the briefing.
Q It's hard to hear back here.
MR. DUFFY: David was asking if we're going to have full names and ranks, I said I will see what we can do about providing that for everybody.
Then he will go to Tampa and have remarks on the war on terror. There are about 500 people in the audience -- these are a cross-section of the area. Tickets are distributed like we have for the Louisville, Kentucky event and other events like this. I anticipate that the President will take questions from the audience, much as he did in Kentucky. It's part of the President's continuing dialogue with the American people about how we must fight and win this war on terror, both abroad and using all the tools that are available to the United States. So he will very much recap about what he did in the State of the Union about those aspects of the war on terror.
Then later on he has remarks at a Republican Party of Florida dinner in Lake Buena Vista. And then we'll arrive back at the White House later tonight.
I have a couple of things to read out. The President this morning called NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer this morning, before 8:00 a.m., eastern time, to share his concerns about the deteriorating situation in Darfur. They discussed the steps NATO has already taken to assist in stopping the violence and what additional actions NATO might take in the future.
On the Philippines, the President was also informed this morning of the tragic mudslides in the Philippines that have caused a terrible loss of life. The United States expresses our sincere condolences to the people of the Philippines for the loss of life and the suffering of other victims, family members and loved ones. We hope and pray that ongoing search and rescue operations will help save as many lives as possible.
The U.S. has received a request from the Philippine government and will provide resources today to help fund the immediate response. U.S. military assets, in the form of two ships currently in the Philippines, are also being dispatched to the area. We will continue to coordinate our response efforts with the government of the Philippines, and we'll look for ways to best support them in this hour of need.
That's what I have.
Q Trent, in Iraq -- I know the President is going to talk about the strategy for victory there today in his remarks. And as he always does, he talks about the efforts to build up an Iraqi security force. Will he mention the findings that there apparently is a death squad operating within the Iraqi police forces, and how that kind of wraps into his view of how these efforts are going?
MR. DUFFY: I don't know about what the President is specifically going to address. I can say that the President has specifically addressed the need to train the Iraqi forces in a way that reflects values and human decency. He's been very forthright about that, that that is part of the training that will take place by U.S. and coalition forces as the police forces in Iraq are trained. And it is a concern, the President has spoken out particularly about that and I expect that he will continue to do so.
Q Well, obviously, that training isn't perfect or you wouldn't have that death squads operating within the police forces. What's the reaction of the White House to this finding?
MR. DUFFY: Obviously, you never like to hear about any reports of this nature. The Iraqi police need to uphold the highest human rights standards that is expected by the international community -- that's what the United States is committed to, and the Iraqi training is ongoing and that will continue to be one of the highest priorities as Iraqi police and other security forces are trained. The U.S. has been very clear about that, including the President.
Q Can you tell us on the discussion in the radio address, on the energy partnership, is he going to discuss Russia's role in any way? You turned out a budget on this, but no details about how this works.
MR. DUFFY: I will let you see the President's embargoed radio address when it comes out.
I did fail to mention on the schedule that the President is expected to meet a family of a fallen soldier today. That is a soldier who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq.
Q Before we leave Tampa?
MR. DUFFY: That's correct.
Q When you said tickets are distributed in the "usual way," can you just say what that is?
MR. DUFFY: Sure, through local areas of Chambers of Commerce, government officials, office holders -- the same sort of format that we've used in the past.
Q You said about 500?
MR. DUFFY: Yes, sir.
Q Any efforts to pick questioners beforehand?
MR. DUFFY: No, ma'am.
Q Week ahead?
MR. DUFFY: Yes, week ahead.
Q Actually, can I ask one more? I'm sorry. On the NSA program, apparently the White House is agreeing to actually look at legislation. Do you know if the White House would agree to legislation that would specifically authorize the NSA program under FISA, and bring it under FISA rules?
MR. DUFFY: Well, I'll decline to get into the specifics about the discussions, but the White House does look forward to working on legislation to further codify the President's authority. I believe that Senator DeWine has offered some good legislative principles in this area, and we look forward to working with the Congress on that. The President believes that he has the authority necessary, but of course we're willing to work with the Congress if they feel that further codification of that would be necessary.
Q Week ahead.
MR. DUFFY: If it's Friday, it's week ahead. Monday, February 20th, he will participate in a tour of Johnson Controls, Incorporated, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and make remarks on energy in Milwaukee. And later he'll participate in a visit on energy initiatives in Auburn Hills , Michigan. And then overnights in Englewood, Colorado.
Tuesday, February 21st, he will participate in a tour of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, and participate in a panel on energy conservation and efficiency in Golden, Colorado, and returns to Washington Tuesday evening.
On Wednesday, the 22nd, he will make remarks to the Asia Society in Washington, and will participate in a photo opportunity with crew members of the space shuttle, Discovery, at the White House.
Q What's the Asia Society speech about, do you know?
MR. DUFFY: I will have to get that information for you, don't have that with me. I suspect it will be previewing his upcoming trip, but I'll make sure we get that for you, David.
Then he later makes remarks at the Celebration of African American History Month, and participates in the presentation of the President's Volunteer Service Awards at the White House.
Thursday, February 23, he'll make remarks at a Chocola for Congress reception in Mishawaka, Indiana. And then later will attend a Mike DeWine for United States Senate reception in Cincinnati, Ohio. And then on Friday, the 24th, he will make remarks on the global war on terror in Washington, and meet with the President of El Salvador at the White House. Saturday, no public events. And on Sunday, he will host a State Dinner for the nation's governors at the White House -- I believe the governors are in town for their annual conference.
Q Is this just an official dinner or a State Dinner?
MR. DUFFY: It says, State Dinner.
MR. DUFFY: Thanks, everybody.
END 11:11 A.M. EST