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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 19, 2006

Press Briefing by Tony Snow
James S. Brady Briefing Room

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12:36 P.M. EDT

MR. SNOW: Good afternoon. I'll beg your indulgence; I'm a little froggy-throated, but better off than I was this morning. You've already been through the schedule, so we'll just start with questions.

Q Has he vetoed the bill yet?

MR. SNOW: No. The President will, however, before he delivers remarks this afternoon, veto the Castle bill.

Here's how it works -- because I know a lot of you have questions. There will be no photographers, no ceremony. What the President will do is, in his office, he will sign a veto message, he will hand it to a clerk, who will convey to a clerk of the House, and then you go through the formalities of announcing a message from the President and, at some point, the House will vote on the veto.

Q Is there a reason why he's not having photographers in, at least?

MR. SNOW: Because he doesn't feel it's appropriate. He's signing a veto.

Q Is that true of all vetoes? I mean, he's never vetoed anything.

MR. SNOW: Well, then I guess we don't have a precedent, do we? (Laughter.)

Q Is there any movement on the Beirut front, or any change in our policy?

MR. SNOW: No, our policy hasn't changed. Our hopes haven't changed, either -- which is that we hope that there will be a cessation of violence in Lebanon.

Q How do you expect to get that?

MR. SNOW: Maybe Hezbollah will listen the cries of the Lebanese people and the international community and cease violence and stop the provocations. Should that happen, it provides an opportunity for people --

Q -- cease-fire?

MR. SNOW: Because you cannot have a cease-fire that is unilateral. As you may have heard yesterday, Nasrallah was arguing that he was going to start issuing one-hour warnings to Tel Aviv before shelling the city. If there were some way in which Hezbollah would verifiably stand down, and would return the soldiers, and stop firing rockets, then there might be an opportunity to do something. But at this point, there seems absolutely no willingness on the part of Hezbollah.

Q No contact with them at all?

MR. SNOW: I'm not aware that we do. I think, as I've mentioned, Helen, the key thing, with regard to Hezbollah, is that it is operating with the backing of Iran and the support of Syria. And some of our allies, certainly, have been making their voices known, including our Arab friends, and have been encouraging both of those governments to go and tell Hezbollah to back down.

Q Does the President, Tony, believe that this is as much the United States' war as it is Israel's war?

MR. SNOW: No. What the President believes is -- what's interesting about this, David, is that you've got a situation where Hezbollah, I think, miscalculated. They thought they'd be able to get some soldiers; they'd be able to get some PR, they'd be able to sort of say, "look at what we did." And instead what they ended up doing was incurring the wrath, not merely of Israel, but of the entire region.

Again, if you take a look at it, the extraordinary statement by the Arab League, where the Saudis and Jordanians -- the Arab League, was condemning Hezbollah; and, furthermore, the G8 condemning Hezbollah and it's sponsors.

Now what you had, I think, was a guerilla incursion that has turned into just an absolute miscalculation on the part of Hezbollah because what it has done is it has forged, I think, a sense of determination on all parties opposed to the activities of Hezbollah not to let it stand, and also, not to return -- revert to the status quo ante where Hezbollah was operating, in some ways, as an occupying force in southern Lebanon, independent of the government, in some ways contemptuous of the government, using the people in southern Lebanon as human shields, you know, a lot of Druze and Christians in that part of southern Lebanon. And serving not only as an obstacle to having the Siniora government function in an independent and credible way, but in some ways, as a threat to peace.

Q I don't think you really answered the part about why is this not our war?

MR. SNOW: Why would it be our war? I mean, it's not on our territory. This is a war in which the United States -- it's not even a war. What you have are hostilities, at this point, between Israel and Hezbollah. I would not characterize it as a war.

Q Well, it's just interesting to hear you say that, because it seems that the President has been pretty outspoken about the fact that the United States champions democracy around the world. In fact, we push to make it happen by invading countries like Iraq, by working to get Syria out of Lebanon. He described this as a moment of clarity where the Syrians had to be confronted -- like he told Blair to Annan the other day -- and that Iran should be isolated. So I go back to the same question: Is this not a wider war for the United States that Israel --

MR. SNOW: Okay, I think -- no, it's an interesting point. Let me go back and parse a couple of things. The United States' position is, you're absolutely right, to try to protect democracy and also those who are threats to the region, to address it. What you have is a democracy in the Siniora government that we want to see survive and thrive.

To the extent that this is part of the war on terror, we certainly have an interest in it. But on the other hand, this is -- right now you have hostilities there between the Israelis and Hezbollah, and you have diplomatic activity that has been led by the United States. And by the way, 1559, the U.N. Security Council resolution, was also coauthored by the French; this was a collaborative effort. And 1559 not only said that foreign occupying powers had to get out, but also militias and other independent organizations had to shut down. So that certainly was not an act of American unilateralism.

But what you do see -- and I'm glad you raised this, because it's important to stress again -- what you do see is the emergence now of international, in effect, working groups that are dealing with these problems. You have continued progress in the United Nations, in terms of putting together a resolution on Iran. You have continued progress where I guarantee you there's a lot of diplomatic activity going on now with the United States and all the people in the neighborhood, as well as interested parties, including the G8.

And so to the extent -- it's certainly in America's interest that two things happen. Number one, that terrorism and terrorists be shown, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they're not going to win. And the second thing is to create the basis of a durable peace.

Q Just one final one on this. Why shouldn't the President be the one to mount an aggressive diplomacy, pick up the phone, call Assad of Syria and say, put an end to this, and start negotiating directly with the Syrians?

MR. SNOW: Because the track record stinks. I don't know if you remember all the old pictures of diplomats in the Reagan years going -- in the Carter, Reagan, and maybe even the early Bush years, the first Bush administration -- who knows, Clinton may have done it, too -- sitting around there drinking tea with Hafez al-Assad, the father, having to sit there for five, six, ten hours, listening to polite but long discourses on greater Syria, and at the end of that, having gotten nothing.

There is absolutely no reason to assume, based on the track record, that negotiations and conversations with the Syrians would yield any fruit. And as a consequence, rather than doing that, I think it is incumbent on the United States to use whatever moral force and moral power it has, and also let allies do the talking.

Q Do you think there's a sense among the Israelis that the longer it takes for Secretary Rice to announce her plans that perhaps they are getting the green light that it's okay to go ahead and pound away?

MR. SNOW: I don't know how to interpret what the Israelis may read into it or not. As I said yesterday, she's not going to go with an empty satchel. And when you have conditions in which the United States can play a constructive role in achieving the two aims -- number one, putting an end to -- supporting an end to the terror, but really the thing that we can help out with, we think, is ultimately providing some sort of solution where you can get stability and peace in southern Lebanon. That's where we can play the constructive role, and you have to -- you just have to wait until the conditions are right for that.

Q But is the administration entertaining the idea that perhaps Israel has absolutely no interest in working out any kind of peace agreement, and that now the moment has presented itself to wipe Hezbollah off the map, and there's no amount of diplomacy that's going to prevent Israel from doing that?

MR. SNOW: Honestly, I don't know. You know, there's been a lot of speculation. A lot of these questions are premised on the notion that we're actively engaged in military conversations about what Israel is doing and is not going to do and what its plans are.

What we've done is limit our comments to what we've said many times, which is, we want Israel to show -- to practice caution, and especially as regards civilian deaths on any side. We think it's a horrible thing, and they should be absolutely limited to the greatest extent practicable and possible. So those are the kinds of conversations and guidance we've had.

As far as what the Israelis see, that's sort of a question to direct to them.

Q One more follow on that, to follow on David's point. The President seems to be talking about this now in terms of the war on terror, casting Hezbollah as a terrorist group in another democratic foothold that needs to be established. Does that make it more palatable to a greater cross-section of Americans?

MR. SNOW: I don't know. You'll have to ask the pollsters. But let's back up --

Q The President's strategy --

MR. SNOW: -- this is a democracy. What the President wants to do is to protect the democratic government in Lebanon, an elected democratic government. Now, we played a role through U.N. Resolution 1559 getting the Syrians out. But it is clear that Prime Minister Siniora, with whom the President has talked, is still trying and hoping to get control over all of his country. So that's the basic aim. I don't know -- take another run at it, maybe I can be a little more helpful on this.

Q What I'm saying, it seems the terms of the discussion -- you're not just talking about a war, you're talking about something where there's been a particular attempt from the administration for resonance when you talk about the war on terror --

MR. SNOW: Okay, yes, yes.

Q -- oh, that we can support.

MR. SNOW: Well, it's -- I don't think it's an attempt to find resonance. It's a statement of the facts, which is that Hezbollah, which is financed by Iran and protected by Syria, that does have the dimension of a war on terror. Because what do you have? In the war on terror we are facing not duly constituted armies, but terrorist groups who operate independently within the boundaries of otherwise sovereign nations. And what they end up doing is jeopardizing those sovereign nations and using murder and killing as a way either to weaken the will of the people involved, or to try to weaken the cause of peace and stability in the region.

So I think it's perfectly accurate to say that in that sense this is, in fact, part of the war on terror. That's not positioning, because all of the members of the G8, many of whom disagreed with our policy in Iraq, every member of the G8 signed onto this. And also what you have had is, again, the Arab League taking the extraordinary step -- in a case where Israel is involved in hostilities with people within an Arab nation -- have condemned Hezbollah. So this is not political posturing; this is a statement of the world as it is and trying to sort of tease out the consequences if Hezbollah is allowed to prevail.

Q Tony, you've seen the reporting on whether or not Israel has approached you with some sort of time limit -- "give us a week, give us two weeks" --

MR. SNOW: Again, those kinds of discussions, to my knowledge -- I don't want to get any further-leaning, but as far as -- every readout I've had does not have that kind of a discussion. There is a lot of thinking about it --

Q Well, is there a measure of success that you've talked to the Israelis about, a point that they reach where they feel like they've successfully reduced Hezbollah enough?

MR. SNOW: I think the Israelis are going to have to define what they consider success. You know, what we consider success is return the soldiers and stop firing rockets. I mean, those are the positions that we've had. And that's dependent less on Israel than on Hezbollah.

Q In terms of the measure of success again, though, I mean, the United States clearly has some stake in that. Is there any redline that they cross? Is there any point where you say, look, we've got to try a cease-fire because you've gone too far. I mean, at what point do you look at the government of Lebanon and --

MR. SNOW: We haven't gotten there yet. What we've done is, again, we've talked with -- we've been talking with Prime Minister Siniora --

Q Which makes us believe there is sort of a time limit here.

MR. SNOW: Honestly, Martha, I don't know. What if -- what you end up getting in is a game of "what if." You're assuming that we're going to be able to project one, two, three, five, ten days out what's likely to be the situation. I don't think anybody in this room knows it, and for that matter, the President in the Oval Office doesn't have the kind of prescience to know what's going to happen in a few days. We literally don't know. As you know, in a situation like this, you respond constantly to the changing conditions on the ground, or the Israelis are going to have to, and diplomatically you do the same thing. So what we're doing is constantly assessing what's going on.

I think to try to describe it sort of abstractly -- and it would be an abstraction -- what a redline might be, I think it's very difficult to do.

Q Well, can we go to the measure of success? Is the measure of success, from your point of view, from the Israelis' point of view, then, that they return the soldiers and stop --

MR. SNOW: What the President has always said -- I'm not going to speak for the Israelis; you can call Danny Ayalon -- is he still here? I think this is his last week. You can call Danny Ayalon.

Q But until that happens, they can keep going?

MR. SNOW: No, you asked them what their success is. What the President has said over and over, it's real clear: return the soldiers, stop firing the rockets. Those are the conditions he set. The measure of success? I don't know. That's what the President has said --

Q And the Israelis can just keep this up as long as possible?

MR. SNOW: -- that's what the President has said that he expects from Hezbollah. I don't know how you define -- how on earth do you define success in the Middle East? I mean, thousands of years, I'm afraid nobody has ever come -- so even trying to talk about success -- I think what you want to try to find out is, how do you create the conditions that Hezbollah stop operating as an independent terrorist force in southern Lebanon. And, number two, how the Siniora government is able to stand on its own two feet throughout Lebanon and have effective control of the entire country and the support it needs to succeed.

Q You know, I think what a lot of these questions are asking is there is this perception that the administration is kind of tacitly giving Israel the go-ahead to take out Hezbollah.

MR. SNOW: Yes, and the assumption is that we're sitting around at the war map saying, do this, this and this. And as I've said over and over, we're not engaged in military strategy sessions with the Israelis. We're not colluding, we're not cooperating, we're not conspiring -- we're not doing any of that. The Israelis are doing what they think is necessary to protect their borders.

Q Okay. And then the follow -- is the President satisfied with the Siniora government's statements about Hezbollah and its attempts to rein Hezbollah in?

MR. SNOW: The statements are a wonderful thing, but what you want to be able to do is to make sure that the Siniora government is no longer itself terrorized, so the Prime Minister can have effective control over all of Lebanon. That's really -- we think the Prime Minister is absolutely right in calling for Hezbollah to cease and desist. But the one thing that's most important, I think, is to make sure that Hezbollah actually do that.

Q Tony, if and when the violence eventually stops, a number of measures are being discussed to stop it from recurring. I wanted to just get your take, if I could, on some of these: a 12-mile buffer zone in southern Lebanon along the border with Israel; expansion of a UNIFIL force; international monitoring team; border surveillance; international arms embargo in Lebanon and --

MR. SNOW: I mean, all of that -- no, I can't speak to specifics, for the obvious reason that people are -- what you're hearing is this floating of a lot of ideas and they all have various practical import. But it's premature. I think it's safe to say that parties of goodwill want to make sure that if and when there's a chance to go ahead and make sure that southern Lebanon is secure, that it is done in such a way that guarantees long-term peace, that does not allow the terrorist conditions to re-arise in that area, and provides the conditions that will allow the Siniora government to do its job effectively.

And you're going to hear all sorts of stuff floated, and honestly, I just think people right now are noodling -- it's like, you know, brainstorming on a chalkboard. People will put up lots of options, but it's probably not going to be until the conditions are right for actually moving that people are going to settle on any final decision on how to proceed. That's just the way it works.

So, in other words, you set up lots of options, but you may have to wait to figure out which options will actually be appropriate and which will work.

Q Has the U.S. reached a decision on whether or not it will support a new international peacekeeping force, a stronger one, a stability force, send U.S. --

MR. SNOW: Again, I refer you to my previous answer, because it's really the same thing.

Q Short of sufficiently eliminating Hezbollah's military capability, how does the President believe the world can deal with the root causes of this violence?

MR. SNOW: Well, a couple of things. It's pretty clear, based on what happened at the G8, that you put pressure on Iran and Syria. Today the Department of Treasury announced, for instance -- and I'll pull up my notes on this -- two more Iranian weapons proliferations firms that have been designated for their ties to missile proliferation. That would be Sanam Industrial Group and the Ya Mahdi Industries Group.

You put economic pressure on. You put diplomatic pressure on. And I think what may be surprising to Hezbollah and its sponsors is the extent to which they have been isolated by this. Quite often, as you know, acts of violence of this sort are designed to isolate Israel. It's had the absolute opposite effect. While there are criticisms of Israel, as you know, within the Middle East and elsewhere, the one thing that's really clear is that that has not provided any kind of free pass for Hezbollah, Iran or Syria.

Q The President has talked extensively about Syria. He's only mentioned Iran a few times. Can you talk about the level of support Iran is giving Hezbollah in this current crisis -- types of weapons, kinds of support, finances, et cetera?

MR. SNOW: Even if I knew, I wouldn't tell you. I mean, that gets into the disclosure of intelligence and all that sort of thing. Good for me, I don't know, so I don't have to worry about faking it. But the fact is, it would be absolutely inappropriate because, as you know, Brett, having been a Pentagon correspondent, that once you do that, you end up disclosing far more than you wish to reveal.

Q Is it fair to say the President feels that Syria and Iran are equally responsible for Hezbollah's actions over the past --

MR. SNOW: They're both responsible. I mean, I don't think anybody is sitting around saying 48 percent, 52 percent. I think that's kind of -- that's a pointless exercise. I think the President has made it clear, especially in conversations. And I know a lot of you have read into the fact that sometimes he's mentioned Syria, but not Iran. Don't read anything into it. He has made it clear, especially in foreign leader calls, that he holds both nations responsible. And how you apportion the percentage of responsibility, I don't know.

Q If the reports are correct, and we, in fact, didn't know about the weapons advances that Hezbollah has made, is there some frustration or embarrassment within the intelligence community at the moment?

MR. SNOW: Well, you've asked me one of those "ifs," and then the answer is, I don't know what the knowledge was about intelligence; therefore, I can't answer it. Sorry, Victoria.

Q Well, it seems certainly according to the reports that we didn't know that they had made significant advances.

MR. SNOW: Again, I don't know.

Q Do you know whether -- do you know?

MR. SNOW: No, I don't know what the intelligence is. I literally don't know what the intelligence was before the fact, and until my security clearance clears, I'm not going to have access to it. I'm told it's a few more weeks. No, that's true. You come here, you're a new guy, you've got to get the clearances.

Goyal.

Q Tony, two questions. One, last night celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Indian-American Friendship Council, Dr. Krishna Reddy he got over 120 members of Congress from both sides -- senators and congressmen on Capitol Hill -- and they were all supporting the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement. And which yesterday you mentioned that G8 also -- Prime Minister of India and the President had discussion on the same issue.

So now next month, there will be voting -- final voting in the U.S. Congress. So where is the President now? How he is taking this approach --

MR. SNOW: The President supports the agreement. He made it clear to Prime Minister Singh. He's made it clear to members of Congress. So far the votes have been overwhelmingly in favor in committee, and we'll just have to see how it proceeds. I mean, that's a no-brainer.

Q Second, as far as terrorism is concerned, also G8 made a statement on terrorism that we have to bring all -- all kind of terrorism to justice, including organizers, supporters and sponsors and financers. And Prime Minister of India is under pressure in India from the Indians on the (inaudible) bombings, that they should cut off all the diplomatic relations in Pakistan because Prime Minister of India has called off the (inaudible) with Pakistan -- he also calling on the Musharraf government to stop in sponsoring terrorism across the border, including in Bombay. So what you think President --

MR. SNOW: Far be it for me to give -- you're trying to get us in the middle of a diplomatic dispute. The President --

Q How President feel?

MR. SNOW: You're asking how the President feels about breaking developments? I think it's inappropriate to comment.

Q Tony, a question, but a short prelude. Obviously, at least according to what the Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. is saying, Israel's goals are far -- more far-reaching than the U.S. goals in ending the violence. He said last night on CNN that the intent of Israel is to destroy the Hezbollah (inaudible) and its ability to wage warfare.

My question is why send Condi Rice in when, obviously, at this point, she can only be talking to one side in the conflict? Has the President considered perhaps sending Bush 41 and Clinton, who have a pretty good track record after the tsunamis?

MR. SNOW: What?

Q Well --

MR. SNOW: I mean, we've just said that Condi Rice is not going to go until the conditions are right. So we'll wait until she goes, the conditions are right.

Q I said her talks now would be pretty much one-sided --

MR. SNOW: Yes --

Q Wait a minute. You said yourself, correctly, that both Bush 41 and Clinton had talks with Hafez al-Assad --

MR. SNOW: Which were blazingly pointless.

Q But it's a --

MR. SNOW: No. No, the start is to place -- no, wrong. I mean, it may sound good that you dispatch somebody who then can be dealt with in bad faith by a government that does not intend to deliver. I think whatever you may think of it, the United States' position is clear, and you don't dispatch delegations on missions that already are contrary to the stated position of this government. And I guarantee you President Bush 41, and I doubt President Clinton, would agree to such a thing.

Q Is the President concerned that his veto of the stem cell bill is going to hurt Republicans running in fall elections?

MR. SNOW: Not a bit.

Q He doesn't feel as though it will hurt?

MR. SNOW: No.

Q Why not?

MR. SNOW: And I'll tell you what, it's worth pointing out one thing -- actually several things on stem cells. Number one, the President is the first ever to have financed research using embryonic stem cell lines. Number two, there is a bit of demagoguery in the House of Representatives. Representative Castle was circulating talking points about a measure that the House ended up killing that would have provided for research into promising areas that would give us access to what he wants, which are pluripotent cells. But rather than using embryos, it could use adult cells and other cells, and using techniques that are now being pioneered here in the United States provide exactly what he wants. And instead what he did is, is he circulated a series of misleading and fallacious talking points. And on that particular matter, the President is disappointed in the House of Representatives.

Let me just give you a couple of examples. One of the things that Representative Castle was saying is that "it mandates the National Institutes of Health to support highly speculative research, some of which has been deemed unethical by the President's own bioethics council." Wrong, false, 100 percent wrong.

As a matter of fact, what the bioethics council said is that this precise kind of research, because it does not place in jeopardy the life of a human being -- which is what many people think that the embryo is, and that is what the President believes -- you do not engage in morally controversial research when you find ways to back-engineer adult or blood cord cells.

Second point, he says, "it takes the focus away from advancing cures through federal funded embryonic stem cell research." Again, the most promising research to date -- and, granted, a lot of the embryonic stem cell research is itself relatively young, has been in some of these areas that we're talking about.

So the President is disappointed in the House of Representatives for actually seeming to try to create a false choice, which is to say, either you do embryonic stem cells, which raise the specter in many people's minds of killing another human being, or you don't support anything at all, a "my-way-or-the-highway" approach. What the President has done is he has provided access to previously existing embryonic stem cell lines, which are responsible for the vast bulk of research in the entire world, and also pioneering other methods which would get people to exactly the promised land they seek, which is to take a look at pluripotent cells, but getting there through a morally non-controversial means. And apparently that's not good enough for some members of the House.

Q But it often appears in some of the reporting and some of the discussion out there that the President is holding back scientific progress.

MR. SNOW: Wrong.

Q How do you --

MR. SNOW: You're just flat wrong. Just flat wrong. I mean, that is basically an attempt to substitute an insult for an argument. I've given you the argument and I've rebutted the insult.

Q Can I follow up on that?

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q I mean, you got a lot off your chest there, but he asked you a political question, and that is, you know, Democrats clearly feel that there's support in the country for this bill, so therefore why won't it hurt Republicans in the fall?

MR. SNOW: I just don't think it will. I think a President acting on conscience -- a President who, again -- Bill Clinton, as President, didn't authorize any of these lines. This is a President who's spent more money on embryonic stem cell research and stem cell research generally than any President in American history. He's got the track record. What's happening now is that people are trying to politicize it by accusing him of standing in the way of science, when he's the guy who's made it possible to open up the way to science.

Furthermore -- getting me warmed up here -- for those who are engaged in embryonic stem cell research, there's no legal prohibition against their doing it. What they don't have access to is federal funding. And so the idea that the President is standing in the way of science seems to indicate that the only way you do it is through a federal grant. And there is a burgeoning business -- as you know, a lot of people getting rich already -- in this kind of medical research. So I would argue that the President is the recipient of a bum rap, and for that reason people, when they do get a chance to judge the facts, are going to draw the same conclusion.

Q Okay, now to follow up, the Democrats clearly are going to be hammering away on this. The President really has spoken on stem cell research really when it's come up at various points, but not too consistently, I don't think. Is he going to be talking about this in the fall campaign? Is he going to be making his case?

MR. SNOW: No. The President has made his case. If you take a look back at what happened in 2001, he laid out a position on stem cell research, and guess what, the rest of the world, for the most part, followed. If you take a look at the kinds of conditions that are being applied in Europe and elsewhere, they generally tend to follow the path that was laid down by the President. The people who are Johnny-Come-Latelys to this debate are people who decided, well, let's try to whip this up for a political year. I would argue that the ones who are bringing it up and speaking on a sporadic basis are the critics and not the President, who has been promoting these policies now for going on six years.

Q So he is or he is not going to be speaking about it during the campaign?

MR. SNOW: Don't know. I just -- I think -- look, this is in many ways -- I don't see this being a huge issue. And if Democrats want to make that the centerpiece of their campaign, it will be interesting.

Q What's the point of having the snowflakes here today? What's the message of that?

MR. SNOW: The message is that an embryo can produce a human being, and there will be some in evidence. In addition, there will be people who have been the recipients -- who have been the beneficiaries of stem cell breakthroughs, advances that have been garnered through adult and other stem cells, and therefore demonstrating -- getting back to our other point that, in fact, scientific breakthroughs have been made with these technologies that have also been financed by the federal government and by private industry.

Lester.

Q Tony, two questions.

MR. SNOW: I would disappointed if there weren't.

Q Thank you very much. The Washington Post reported, "The Supreme Court ruled in 1982 that a fired whistle blower could not sue the President without any case citation." I'd like to know, do you know the name of the case? And do you agree or disagree with the Republican National Committee's description of the Valerie and Joe Wilson lawsuit of the Vice President as "ridiculous"?

MR. SNOW: I can't answer either of those, Lester. Go back and get the citation on the '82 -- was that back in the EPA days?

Q Well, I was quoting The Washington Post. They didn't cite it. You don't know the --

MR. SNOW: No, I only sporadically service their research arm.

Q All right. The WorldNet Daily quotes sheriffs in Texas saying that both --

MR. SNOW: Is this question 2A? (Laughter.)

Q This is two.

MR. SNOW: Oh, I see.

Q -- as saying that both their departments and the Border Patrol are out-manned and out-gunned by criminal gangs and drug cartels based in Mexico, who are running drug smuggling and human smuggling operations into this country. And my question: Is the President willing to accept a situation on our border where American law enforcement is out-manned and out-gunned, or are these quoted sheriffs wrong?

MR. SNOW: There is a third option, which is, the President is mindful of the kinds of complaints and concerns, which explains why he went ahead and did a $1.9 billion supplemental, which is already putting National Guardsmen in positions where they can relieve the Border Patrol, where you can get Border Patrol agents, and you know the whole riff.

So option C is the President does care about security at the borders and is active on it.

Q Thank you.

Q Can you say a little bit about tomorrow's NAACP speech?

MR. SNOW: Just a little bit. I mean, the President is going to be going to give an address at the NAACP, as you know. And I kind of outlined some of the themes yesterday in response to April Ryan's question.

The President is looking forward to -- well, you know what, I don't want to get too far ahead. I'm going to let the President give his speech.

Q Thank you.

MR. SNOW: All right. Thanks.

END 1:09 P.M. EDT