The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 27, 2006

Press Gaggle by Dana Perino
Aboard Air Force One
En route Memphis, Tennessee

11:16 A.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: All right, let's get started. We are on our way to Memphis, Tennessee. Let me give you the President's schedule. He had his normal briefings this morning. At 8:55 a.m. he met with the Secretary of State, Secretary Rice. At 12:05 p.m. he will attend the Bob Corker for U.S. Senate and Tennessee Republican Party Luncheon. We arrive back at the White House at 4:30 p.m.

At 7:30 p.m. will be the greeting with the President of Pakistan and the President of Afghanistan, in the Oval Office. And at 7:50 p.m., the President will make a statement, and the President of Pakistan and the President of Afghanistan will be there with him. That will be in Rose Garden, and that is pool coverage.

Let me give you one read out on a presidential phone call this morning, and then I'll give you a little bit about the dinner tonight. The President spoke with the new Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, this morning. The two leaders reaffirmed the continuing warmth and strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance. They expressed their desire to further deepen and strengthen bilateral relations and global cooperation based on the advancement of deeply held common values of freedom, democracy, human rights, market democracy and rule of law. The President congratulated the Prime Minister on his election and said that he and Mrs. Bush look forward to seeing the Prime Minister and Mrs. Abe at APEC in Hanoi in November.

Q Where was that, back at the White House?

MS. PERINO: That was at the White House, by phone, from the Oval.

A little bit about the dinner tonight, so that you have something to use. You heard the President describe it yesterday, these two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, are very important allies to the United States. The President looks forward to this opportunity to meet with them, and he will be able to be a part of a conversation and work to help strengthen the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He will recognize both countries' efforts to improve communication amongst their two countries, increase efforts to counter the militant threat facing both countries, and really focus on the cooperative efforts there, and emphasize the United States' long-term commitment to the region's security.

One of the reasons that we are all in this together is because we have our common enemy that wants to do us harm, so there are some key things that both countries can do to help strengthen security and help us win the global war on terror.

And with that, I'll take your questions -- oh, and let me give you one scheduling update, in case you didn't see. Tony was not initially going to brief today, but he is briefing at 11:30 a.m., in about 15 minutes, back at the White House.

Q Can you talk -- whose house is the fundraiser at?

MS. PERINO: I don't have the actual house. I know it's a private residence.

MR. DECKARD: We'll get you the name.

Q Can you talk a little bit about the NIE? And there seems to be kind of disconnect between the President's more rosy assessment that he gave during the Karzai meeting and what actually came out of the report. Are we missing something here?

MS. PERINO: Absolutely. You heard the President yesterday. Tony will talk more about this in the briefing today. But the President yesterday said that he embraced the NIE and its conclusions. It does not come as a surprise to him that the terrorists, once they were hit hard in Afghanistan and are hit hard in other places around the world as we work in cooperation with our allies, that they disperse and become more diffuse.

And if you had a chance to look at the National Counterterrorism Strategy document that the Homeland Security Council produced and the White House released in August, many of the strategy -- you will see that the strategy points, many of them are based directly on information from the NIE. And, in fact, Fran Townsend, Homeland Security Advisor, told me yesterday that in knowing that they were going to do the updated National Strategy for Counterterrorism, she asked for more research. And one of those things that she told me is that when you're going to do this type of research, you ask for an NIE. And so that's what they had done. I guess it was finished around February, in terms of their research, and written and published in April of 2006.

The President realizes that we have a philosophical choice to make in this country, the debate being whether we fight this on offense or not. When he said yesterday that to not keep the pressure on them and not keep on offense would be to ignore 20 years of experience, it also meant that it would ignore the choice that we have to make as a country: Do we continue to fight aggressively on the offense, or do we sit back and wait?

And Fran Townsend comprehensively went over the document yesterday. One of the key points was that it says that should the jihadists perceive themselves to be failing in Iraq, their ability to recruit and train will be lessened. And that's why we -- that's why the President has continued to say -- lay out the importance of and the consequences of winning in the region.

Q I'm wondering if there are going to be details on the fundraiser, in terms of whose home and the amount of money raised. You'll have that?

MS. PERINO: For the amount of money raised, I've always got to refer you to the campaign itself. I just -- I know it's a private residence; I just don't have with me the actual name of the individuals' home. But I believe there's about between 400 and 430 people attending. We'll get the name and bring it right back to you.

Q Dana, Fran Townsend said yesterday that the leak of the report was a crime. Did the President -- is there some sort of -- is there going to be some sort of investigation into who leaked that information?

MS. PERINO: I have not heard him express that. No, I think if there's something to update in terms of an investigation, I'd have to refer you to the Department of Justice, because I believe that the intelligence agency that produced this document that was leaked is the one who makes the request to the Department of Justice. The President, to my knowledge, has not made such a request. It is troubling that classified information is leaked.

A couple of points about -- the intelligence community must have the ability to write frankly and to provide advice to the President, in which they provide both welcome and unwelcome news. And what you don't want to have happen, and what Fran Townsend was talking about yesterday, is losing that ability of both the intelligence analysts, and then the policymakers using the information that they're getting, to feel like they are hampered in any decision-making because they believe that that information is going to end up in the public and be exploited for political purposes.

It is curious that this document was finished and provided in April and it doesn't show up until we're in the homestretch of the election. We've seen this pattern of behavior before. Just, overall, the leaking of classified information, the President takes it very, very seriously, I can assure you of that. But in terms of an investigation, I haven't heard that.

Q Will there be any readout of the dinner tonight afterwards?

MS. PERINO: Let me find out. I don't know who all is in attendance, but we'll see if we can provide something. The dinner is a little bit later in the evening, so we'll see what we can do to get you something. I'll find out who the duty officer is, or if Fred or I could do something.

Q Great. That would be wonderful.

MS. PERINO: Okay. We'll get you the name of the house.

MR. DECKARD: It's Pitt and Barbara Hyde, P-i-t-t, last name is H-y-d-e, wife is Barbara, and he's the founder of Auto Zone.

END 11:25 A.M. EDT

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