For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 30, 2006
Press Gaggle by Tony Snow
Aboard Air Force One
En route Memphis, Tennessee
9:02 A.M. EDT
MR. SNOW: Questions?
Q How long have you owned those sunglasses?
MR. SNOW: I borrowed them from Deckard. I'm not going to spend money on them, but I'll gladly wear them for this flight.
Q So now that you've had the drive-by briefings on Gitmo, what are you guys going to do now?
MR. SNOW: Well, I think right now, as the President said yesterday, it looks like there's considerable interest in Congress in going ahead and taking a good look at what the Supreme Court had to say and moving forward toward making sure that we can proceed with military commissions and bring to justice the people who are held at Guantanamo, as well as continuing to process or repatriating those who are going to be headed home.
Q Are you talking to European allies about this over the evening, or this morning, or anything like that?
MR. SNOW: Certainly a domestic issue right now is figuring out how to go ahead and continue handling --
Q What about closing it?
MR. SNOW: What?
Q What about closing it?
MR. SNOW: Well, again, you close it when you finish handling all the cases of people who are at Guantanamo. And as we've said many times, you don't simply shut it down. There are some people who you do not want on American soil, who you want to go ahead and conclude the process of bringing them to justice, and repatriating those to whom it is appropriate to repatriate. As we've also mentioned, some countries don't want their people back, and that is a complicated issue.
At the EU summit, some of our EU partners said that they may be willing to work with us on that. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but that's something that we may consider in the future.
Q Is there any thought to any contacts with Israel over what's going on in Gaza? You know they've taken in members of the Palestinian parliament.
MR. SNOW: Well, we addressed that yesterday. What we said is that we want the -- there are two things: Number one, Hamas must return the soldier. And we know that there have been some offers, some public offers by Hamas today to do that. The Israeli government is reviewing that. The other thing we've said is that the Israelis need to practice restraint. And we are encouraged by the fact that the Israelis now are standing down in northern Gaza and that Hamas is talking openly about repatriating the soldier. And we'll continue to watch the developments.
Q Has there been any U.S. involvement in that dialogue?
MR. SNOW: No, not that I'm aware of. Secretary Rice has been in Moscow, as you know, consulting with G8 foreign ministers, but I'm not aware of any direct consultations. Obviously, we've been kept informed.
Q Does the President have any reaction to the bin Laden audiotape that was released?
MR. SNOW: No, it's another bin Laden audiotape. It is what it is.
Q He specifically asked for Zarqawi's body to be returned to the family.
MR. SNOW: No comment on that.
Q What are they doing up there?
MR. SNOW: Actually, they are sitting in the forward cabin kind of enjoying themselves. The still photographers have had a picture. The Prime Minister has an Air Force One jacket now. And it's very interesting -- Senator Frist and Mrs. Frist have been up there in the forward cabin with them, and it's a pretty relaxed conversation. They've been enjoying themselves.
Q Are they talking about substantive issues, or are they talking about fun things?
MR. SNOW: Probably a little bit of both. I mean, the first thing the President did was just pull out the map and show them where we're going today. And beyond that, I've not been privy to all the conversations, but I have a feeling that a lot of it is just informal. Again, these are two guys -- I don't know if you saw the Prime Minister's toast last night, but he talked about the first time they met, tossing a baseball together, playing catch, and moving forward to a very close relationship. I'm sure they'll be doing some business, but these are also two guys who like each other a very great deal. And this is going to be their last trip together and I think they're going to make the most of it.
Q -- is there Elvis music, movies?
MR. SNOW: I don't know if you heard it, but there's Elvis -- we were playing Elvis music when you came on board.
Q You can't hear it back here.
MR. SNOW: Elvis music was being played through the PA. There are, but have not yet been played, there are DVDs of "Love Me Tender," and "Viva Las Vegas," and I am not aware that they have yet been requested by anybody in the forward cabin, or, for that matter, in the staff cabin, but they are available for viewing.
Q Do you know what song was playing when he came on? Was it a specific song --
MR. SNOW: It was an Elvis compilation album. I remember hearing "Love Me Tender," and "Don't Be Cruel," but I'm sure there were plenty more.
Q Are they both excited about meeting Elvis when they get to Graceland and having a chance to talk to the King for a while?
MR. SNOW: Well, I think they are going to view the alleged grave site. (Laughter.)
Q There are some local people who are wanting to give him some present of some sort. Do you have any idea whether that's being worked into the day?
MR. SNOW: I'm not aware of it. I'll let you know if I find out. But what local -- what is it? You know more about this than I do.
Q There's some local guy who wants to give him a lock of his hair, Elvis' hair --
MR. SNOW: I don't know. (Laughter.)
Q Did they close Graceland to the public for this?
MR. SNOW: I'm sure they did. I mean, with all the security issues, I'm almost certain that it's been closed at least for the duration of the visit.
Q Priscilla and Lisa Marie are going to conduct the tour; is that right?
MR. SNOW: They will be in on the tour and they will also participate in the lunch -- The Rendezvous, the favorite barbecue place, ribs place.
Q Are there visitors there that are members of the Japanese delegation?
MR. SNOW: A lot of members of the Japanese delegation. There will be some Tennesseans joining at the lunch -- Fred Smith of Federal Express, and others. I think you'll get a full list, if you don't have it already.
And, no, I'm not going to say it -- wait, wait -- the cheesy Elvis thank-you. Okay, here is the week ahead.
Monday, he signs H.R. 5403, the Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act. That will be at the White House.
On Tuesday, Independence Day celebration in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, followed by a lunch with military personnel. Back to the White House for July 4th celebrations.
Wednesday, he will participate in a meeting with the President of Georgia at the White House.
Thursday, he will participate in a photo opportunity with the 2006 March of Dimes National Ambassador, participate in a meeting with the Prime Minister of Canada, and have a joint press availability with the Prime Minister of Canada. Will head that evening to Chicago. And on Friday, there will be remarks at Citizens For Judy Baar Topinka reception in Chicago, Illinois.
Q Overnight in Chicago?
MR. SNOW: Overnight in Chicago on Thursday night. That is all the detail we have for now. I will continue to look for bits of color as they proceed. There ought to be plenty today, so we'll keep an eye out.
Q Did you hear the Prime Minister say anything this morning, like, I really want to go to the jungle room?
MR. SNOW: No, I haven't, but I'm sure he's anticipating it as eagerly as the rest of us are.
Q Is the President wearing anything Elvis-y?
MR. SNOW: No. Neither of them is wearing Elvis-y regalia. That has been only staffers who have been reduced to wearing bad sunglasses.
Q Is it true we're going to have peanut butter and banana sandwiches?
MR. SNOW: We'll have peanut butter and banana sandwiches which, apparently, have 36 grams of fat.
Q -- they're having?
MR. SNOW: Up in the aft cabin, they have been -- that is one of the breakfast options. And some brave staffers have tried it.
Q What is the President --
MR. SNOW: I think the President is having a healthier diet than the --
Q What about the Prime Minister?
MR. SNOW: I didn't see what the Prime Minister ate, but I'm willing to bet -- I'd rather not speak out of turn. I will inquire as to whether they tried and peanut butter and fried bananas. Although, on the menu it appears as "ripped" bananas. We are not sure what that means.
Q -- working out?
MR. SNOW: They're working out or getting drunk -- we're not sure which it is. But in any event, it's 36 grams of fat and apparently those eating it feel each and every one of those grams as they eat them.
Q Thank you for coming back.
END 9:08 A.M. EDT