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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 18, 2007

Press Briefing by Tony Snow
White House Conference Center Briefing Room

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1:12 P.M. EST

MR. SNOW: All right, before we get started, let me just show you a tiny bit of leg on the State of the Union address, but -- well, maybe it's just upper ankle, I'm not sure. It's not going to be a typical State of the Union address in the sense of going at great length through all the budget items. It's not going to take a comprehensive look at all portions of the budget.

It will address major issues, including the war on terror, energy, health care, immigration, and education. When it comes to specific items, the President will be discussing within those general categories -- and he'll be talking about more, as well -- I will be of little or no help today. On the other hand, we hope to get more to you as we approach the time for delivery of the speech.

Q How long?

MR. SNOW: Don't know yet.

Q Can you elaborate on "not typical"?

MR. SNOW: You know, what typically happens is every department and every agency gets a line or a mention. There are going to be areas -- there will be areas that do not get extensive discussion that will be followed in other speeches and events the President delivers in days after the speech. Rather than -- we're going to have plenty of opportunities, including the release of the budget the first week of February. So we'll have chances to talk about a number of things.

Q Can we go back to Maliki, maybe some of the conversations from earlier today? But I'm trying to get more of a big picture look this. He apparently made his comments in an interview with a large number of American reporters. And he did take exception to some of the characterizations coming out of the White House, whether it be from the President or others on his behalf. And he seemed upset about some of the things that are being said. And how do you -- I'm not asking you to necessarily go point by point with each thing, but how do you respond to the apparent feeling on his part that some of the statements from here are not helpful to what he's trying to do?

MR. SNOW: I think he understands that we were being helpful. There's a disagreement on the handling of the Saddam execution, and that seems to have been a chief point of friction. On the other hand, he said a number of other things that have gotten less attention, but are of perhaps more moment. One of the things he pointed out is that since October they've arrested 400 members of the Mahdi Army, the Jaish al Mahdi, and they've kept them in detention. He made it clear that politicians were not going to have the ability to influence -- that is, sectarian politics were not going to play a role in the Baghdad security plan.

To those who have described his being too close to Muqtada al Sadr, he said, I've met the guy twice in four years, and strongly denied that. He also made it clear that as far as he's concerned, he wants the ability to move quickly toward enhancing security. One of the things that has been described as a point of departure from the administration, but in fact is not, is his saying that he wants more equipment and better supplies for his army. I've said that a number of times up here, and of course he's going to get it. We think that that is a natural part of building greater capacity on the part of the Iraqi security force.

In addition yesterday, a couple of other announcements that are probably worth making -- well, at least three more. Number one, Barham Salih was pointing out -- who is Kurdish -- made the point that the oil law is close to completion, and he hopes for a vote on that very soon. Secondly, you had Ayad Allawi, who was one of the original promoters of deBaathification talking about the importance of pursuing reforms in the deBaathification laws so that people who are at lower levels of government employment when Saddam was in power -- teachers, civil servants and the like -- can get jobs, can vote, and can have full participation in society. Also reports that the second of two brigades making its way from the north toward Baghdad.

So there's a lot of progress in a number of areas. The Prime Minister obviously sometimes reacts also to the tone of comments that are made in the United States, but the one thing that's clear is that he understands on the basis of his conversations with the President and with the Ambassador, with the combatant commanders, that we're committed to success in Iraq, and we define -- both sides are defining it the same way.

Q -- one specific thing, his displeasure with the borrowed time comment? And he's clearly -- you all in the last week or so have been trying to walk a fine line. You want to telegraph to both Maliki and to the American public that patience is not going to last forever. At the same time, Secretary Rice just made clear and others have made clear we can't push too hard. So have you gone too far --

MR. SNOW: I don't think so. Take a look -- I think what's interesting is the volume of action that's taken place in the last couple of weeks, and interestingly, if you listen to congressional critics, we want these things to happen, we want political progress, for instance. That's been cited by a number of critics of the President's proposal. Well, guess what. Political progress has taken place on, and on arguably the two most important fronts, which are the hydrocarbon law, sharing oil and natural gas revenues, and also opening up society, full participation rights, to people who, in order to be employed when Saddam was in power had to be members of the Baath party, and therefore have been shut out, that they are going to have those opportunities, as well.

You've seen increased military activity, such as the actions on Haifa Street last week. You also now have the reports on the Mahdi Army , which I think reassures a lot of people, in terms of going after Shia militias. You have the reports of the two brigades moving down from the north.

So for people who have said, we need to see action on the part of the Iraqis, you've seen it, and I think it's encouraging.

Q Tony, can I follow on all of this?

MR. SNOW: Sure.

Q The bottom line is that this administration, this President has bet on Prime Minister Maliki. And if you read these things, you pay attention to what he is saying on the record, it doesn't sound like he's on board.

MR. SNOW: Well, David, if you look procedurally, what he's discussing in terms of troops and in terms of the way forward, I think he is on board. I don't think that there's any distance when it comes to key issues -- when it comes to political reconciliation, building capacity within the security forces, going after those who are threatening society, regardless. I mean, here is one of the things he says. He says, "We will not allow any politicians to interfere with this Baghdad security plan, whether they're Sunnis or Shiites, Arabs or Kurds, militias or parties, insurgents or terrorists."

That's precisely the sort of thing that both sides can agree upon, and that Americans have been wanting to hear. I think maybe there's been some disconnect in the sense that a number of American politicians have also been saying, we need to see action. You can understand why a head of state might chafe at that. But on the other hand, what's also happened I think is reassuring for people who are keeping a close watch on what's going on because you have seen developments on all the fronts that people have been discussing for the last week.

Q The President made clear that he told Prime Minister Maliki, you'll lose the American people if you don't show up and fulfill your end of the bargain -- is that a fair characterization?

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q And this is what Prime Minister Maliki said: "The situation would be much better if the United States had immediately sent our security forces more adequate weapons and equipment. If they -- the United States -- had committed themselves more and with greater speed, we would have had a lot fewer deaths among Iraqi civilians and American soldiers." Does that sound like a guy who is living up to his end of the bargain, accepting responsibility?

MR. SNOW: Well, again, if you take a look at what's been going on on the ground -- David, I'm not going to get into a fight with the Prime Minister.

Q He's in a fight with you.

MR. SNOW: Well, no, he also has political considerations of his own that he has to deal with. He's not in a fight with us, and that's the important thing to realize. If you think about the operational level, it's not a fight. And the President, in his dealings, has worked very well with the Prime Minister, and the commanders on the ground and the commanders to be on the ground also have good working relationships with him and people who work in his government.

So, I mean, I understand the perception here, but, frankly, we're making too much out of it.

Q Okay, but just one more on this because I think this is important, which is, if your job, one -- you and the President -- is to persuade the American people that we've got a real partner over there, isn't it troublesome -- troubling to you and to the President that you and others have to spend time explaining for him, making excuses for him?

MR. SNOW: We're not really making excuses. I mean, what's frustrating is I've just told you about arrests with the Mahdi Army, the actions on Haifa Street; the important political breakthroughs that have taken place; the very clear statement that the law has to be enforced across all boundaries; the clear statement that, no, he is not working hand-in-glove with Muqtada al Sadr -- those are all profound statements that have to do with policy. What you're really discussing is reactions to statements that have been made at a great remove, and I'm sure that we'll be able to deal with any concerns that he has.

Q These are statements that he's making for political consumption, that's your point?

MR. SNOW: No, I'm just saying that when you take a look -- look, everybody said words alone are not going to win this argument, you've got to see deeds. Well, look at the deeds. The deeds have been impressive.

Q Just to follow again -- one more time, the political considerations, so that the American people can understand sort of what's going on. Is there a little bit of a wink and a nod that you understand Prime Minister Maliki has got a domestic political audience, he understands President Bush has a domestic political audience, but that after you're done sort of with the wink and a nod, everybody is on the same page?

MR. SNOW: I'm not sure that there's any winking and nodding. What I'd ask everybody to do is open their eyes and look at the stuff I've just drawn your attention to, because --

Q But that's not --

MR. SNOW: No, that is important.

Q That's not what he's saying. Prime Minister Maliki had all these reporters in yesterday --

MR. SNOW: No, what you guys are focusing on is a description -- his reaction to rhetoric and what he perceives as the tone of statements in the United States. What you haven't paid attention to, at least in these questions, is what he's doing, which seems to be a critical matter. When it comes -- for instance, there has been all this concern, why don't you enforce the law when it comes to Mahdi Army? Why don't you go against the Mahdi Army? He says, oh, we are. By the way, we've got 400 in detention right now. They've been rounded up since October.

When people say, well, what about moving troops toward Baghdad and living up to your end of the bargain; the second of two brigades now making its way toward Baghdad. When it talks -- when people say, will you go ahead and make those important political steps, whether it be a hydrocarbon law -- I mean, the hydrocarbon law has been mentioned repeatedly, deBaathification, and at the same time, he's making very public statements about the fact that nobody is going to play favorites. Those are all substantive matters that also, I think, deserve real attention because they demonstrate what the Iraqi government is doing.

Q One more on this. He seems to be suggesting that if he's properly armed and properly trained the Iraqi army, gets proper arming and training, that American troops could be out in four to six months.

MR. SNOW: Well, we'll see what happens on the ground, but the whole point is that we agree that it's important to arm up and train the Iraqis. This demonstrates, also, for those who say, well, we're not so sure that they want to step up, this seems to be the statement of somebody who does want to assert control and wants control over security. And I've been making this point a number of times. When we've seen the Prime Minister, he's not acting as if he wants to sit back and have Americans do all the work. He understands that as a sovereign head of state, he needs to be assuming primary control over key operations, whether they be security or dealing with infrastructure. And these are the kinds of things you would expect a head of state to say under such circumstances.

Q So, for the record, there is no rift between President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki?

MR. SNOW: Correct. Correct.

Q But then how do you react to Prime Minister Maliki saying that some of the comments from the President himself and the White House have given a "morale boost to the terrorists"?

MR. SNOW: Again, I'm just not going to comment on that.

Q Okay, what evidence do you have -- does the U.S. government have any evidence that these 400 militia men are actually in custody?

MR. SNOW: Yes, keep in mind that you do not -- I'm not going to tell you exactly what evidence --

Q They're not really in jail.

MR. SNOW: Our people are confident that that's the case. Keep in mind that most of the operations are joint operations.

Q Okay, and are you confident that they're going to be held in custody and that, in fact, they're not going to be let out soon --

MR. SNOW: Well, that's --

Q -- and that this is actually --

MR. SNOW: I would refer you to your colleagues at The New York Times who reported today that they've been held continuously in custody and not been released.

Q -- The New York Times, but he also said that there are American officials that were concerned that they would be let out again.

MR. SNOW: Yes, they were concerned, but they had also noted that they had not been at this point. We expect them to be held in detention as long as appropriate.

Q One last thing on Maliki. He also said there's a crisis in the American administration in the wake of the elections, and saying at the same time that you have conservative columnist Robert Novak saying that there is "sense of impending political doom that clutches Republican hearts right now."

MR. SNOW: Yes, I think what happens is that a lot of people are looking for a panic or a failure narrative out of this White House. And it's just not the case.

The Prime Minister -- again, quite often when you're looking at political developments from a remove, or you're not directly conversing on a daily basis, it's easy to see notional or fractional reporting and to draw a conclusion that maybe there's a certain amount of uncertainty going on.

The President is absolutely resolute and steadfast in his support of this government and of the goals of a democracy in Iraq that can stand up for itself, and really provide a role model for the region and be a supporter in the war on terror. That remains unchanged, and I think, as we've said all along, it's going to take -- the facts on the ground really are going to be the key determinates, and what's happening here is that you're trying to create a war of words that we're just -- I'm afraid -- I'm afraid --

Q They're his comments. We're not creating a war of words. The Prime Minister said this.

MR. SNOW: I understand that, but I also -- what I'm telling you is that you have comments to reporters and you also have actions on the ground, and those are actions that we support in this -- that demonstrate real seriousness on the part of the Maliki government.

Q Maliki also said that if there's success in Iraq, this will be a success that the United States will share. But if there's failure, this will be a failure for President Bush and for the United States. Do you agree with that?

MR. SNOW: Well, again, what we've said is if there's failure, it's going to be failure for the whole world, and there will be real repercussions. That's why we're determined to succeed.

Q Tony, can I just --

MR. SNOW: Let me move it around. I'll get back to you, David.

Q Tony, you now have a bipartisan Senate resolution that's been introduced, has a good chance of passage, that says there's not a national interest to deepen the U.S. involvement in Iraq. Now my question is, what's the administration's reaction to that? And does the President see a need to make a stronger case than he made in last week's speech when he gives the State of the Union speech?

MR. SNOW: Matt, as we've noted all along, the speech was not a one-time only engagement with the American public. It's worth talking about.

Several other notes. We disagree. We think it's absolutely a matter of national interest. Furthermore, for those who say that they wish to succeed in Iraq, we look forward to seeing what their proposals are for succeeding in Iraq -- and serious proposals, so that you have a government that is going to be able to sustain itself, to stand up, to be an ally in the war on terror and an example to others in the region, a success that is going to say to everyone, the United States is your friend and ally and you can depend upon us. Those are statements -- that is what you want at the end of all this.

And, so, look, there's a disagreement. And what's also interesting is that for the most part, other than saying we want to go, we have not heard any specifics, in terms of how that achieves the goal of trying to have the kind of Iraq we're talking about. And furthermore, it has implicit the assumption that the Iraqis right now have everything they need.

It's our view that they have a lot of what they need, but there is still a need for more training, there is still a need for more support, and we're going to provide that. And then when the Iraqis are able to handle all their affairs, we're going to move out.

Q Doesn't the public and congressional reaction to the troop increase plan --

MR. SNOW: Well, what's also interesting is the public reaction says we want to succeed in Iraq, and also, we'd like to see what alternatives the other side has. And so that's fine. Look, if you've got a better idea, you have an obligation, you can perform a service to mankind by letting us know what it is.

Q Doesn't that reaction show that the President has to do a better job of selling this troop increase plan?

MR. SNOW: No, I think what it shows is -- what, are you trying to hand out grades on the preliminary discussion? This is the beginning of a discussion. And it's interesting, because I don't think there are a lot of people who know what all the parts are. For instance, when people suddenly -- let me put it this way. As Americans begin to get a sense of what's going on in Iraq, I have mentioned already, there was a lot of concern about the Mahdi Army. Here you have the Prime Minister standing up and saying, no, this guy's not -- I'm not in political tandem with Muqtada al Sadr, and here's evidence that we've taken up 400 members of the Mahdi Army, and we continue to go after militias. That's reassuring to the American people.

When the American people find out that there have been aggressive actions against terrorists led by Iraqis in Baghdad in recent days, that's reassuring. When the American people see that the Iraqis -- in fact they're moving, even despite the chaos that sometimes flares up in Baghdad and elsewhere, moving toward some of the key elements that are going to bind their people together, in terms of making available to people who are members of the Baath party full rights, and at the same time also sharing oil revenues across the country, including among people whose own regions do not have oil wealth, those are encouraging signs. When you find out that two divisions are moving from the north into Baghdad, in advance of any American battalions being dispatched in their aid, that's reassuring.

So what Americans have said is, we want signs that these guys are serious. There are signs now. And we expect people to keep an eye on it, and we certainly are going to be interested in reporting developments as we see them both ways.

Yes, Wendell.

Q Two questions on public perceptions. Are you saying that four years into this war, the American people don't have an accurate picture of what's going on in Iraq?

MR. SNOW: I think, Wendell, four years into a war, the picture constantly changes. The picture that we saw in April of 2003 was different than the one we saw a year ago. If you think a year ago, Wendell, there was considerable optimism, Democrats and Republicans both coming back from the region saying, you know, we think things are going okay. We've had the election. They did not anticipate the, I guess, eruption of sectarian violence.

What is important is that the American people not only understand the violence, but they also understand the response and the nature of the response and the way in which we're building capacity among the Iraqis, and the assurance that what a lot of Americans want to see, which is going after the sources of violence -- because I think there's been a notion that our guys are just wandering around getting shot at rather than moving aggressively against an enemy, and at the same time, that the Iraqis are carrying their weight, that they're now devoted $10 billion out of $11 billion of their national surplus to reconstruction.

That's putting their money where their mouth is, talking about the importance of arming up and being fully equipped and ready, making clear to everybody that they are not going to be permitting anybody to commit acts of violence, and nobody gets a free pass just because of their sectarian belief or affiliation.

All of those are important data points that I'm not sure everybody has had a chance to take into account, and therefore, we understand this is going to be important to talk about it a lot.

Q A new Fox poll released today, a substantial majority feels this plan is the President's last chance for saving Iraq. Does he see it that way?

MR. SNOW: No, I mean, what the President -- look, you know why? Because that -- I think the formulation has either a sense of brinkmanship or desperation that don't reflect the way in which a Commander-in-Chief approaches operations. What you do is you take a sober look at what's going on on the ground and figure out how to deal with it.

Let's see what happens. Look, we fully acknowledge that facts on the ground are going to be absolutely critical in influencing public perceptions. People want to see -- they want to see what's happening, and we don't blame them.

Q Can I follow up on Matt's question? You talked about the State of the Union, you gave us a list of things the President will talk about. You didn't mentioned Iraq -- I presume it's --

MR. SNOW: I mentioned the war on terror.

Q -- as part of the war on terror. Is the speech going to be dominated by Iraq, or is it going to be dominated by the other things that you just listed?

MR. SNOW: It's going to be dominated by sound policy.

Q Tony, again following up on the State of the Union, which you said would be not typical.

MR. SNOW: Right.

Q It suggests to me that the President, who will be giving his first State of the Union to a Congress controlled by Democrats, might be concerned that Democrats won't be receptive to the kinds of specific programs that are ordinarily in the State of the Union address, so he'll get a bad reception there. Is that fair?

MR. SNOW: No, look, we understand that because of politics -- I mean, people are already prebutting his speech they haven't heard. And they're developing their responses to policies they haven't seen. So we understand how that works. You've been through the ritual on State of the Union night. The fact is that there are going to be a number of policies here that are going to be good politics because they're good policies. And they're going to offer opportunities for Democrats and Republicans to work together on areas where they do have a vested interest in making this a stronger and better country.

As you recall, just two short weeks ago, as Democrats came to power, there was a lot of talk about working together and demonstrating that we can work together. Well, there are going to be a lot of opportunities within this speech to address stated concerns on the part of both parties, and therefore, what I would suggest is, give the night of speech reactions their due, but then let's see what happens as these ideas begin to present themselves.

Secondly, part of the calculation here is that a lot of times these speeches, they just go on and on and you lose people. It's better to spend some time focusing on big issues so that people do get a sense of your engagement with them, and there will be opportunities to pick up other topics in much greater detail later on.

I don't know about you, but I've been through it where you sit around and you tick almost cynically how many different policy proposals or how many departments or agencies are mentioned. In this case, I think it's important to give people a sense of an in-depth and thoughtful approach to a series of key issues.

Q Is it too late for the Democrats and Congress -- you call this the beginning of the debate on Iraq, but is there anything in any of the proposals and discussion being talked about now that would prompt the President to change his decision to increase by 21,000 the troops in Iraq?

MR. SNOW: Not at this juncture, no. We just haven't seen anything that addresses it.

Q So far.

MR. SNOW: Yes. And I -- look, we're already committed. Five brigades are going to Baghdad, 4,000 Marines to Anbar.

Go ahead, Helen.

Q I'd like to revisit a question yesterday. You said that we would not submit to a referendum from the Iraqis on our military presence.

MR. SNOW: You're talking about a -- I thought you were talking about a referendum within the United States.

Q No. No, in Iraq.

MR. SNOW: Oh, well, the Iraqis can do whatever they want politically. I'm sorry, I completely misunderstood that question.

Q Well, I want to continue this question. Even if you said, no, you wouldn't. The President also has said that he would ignore the polls and what Congress says. Does he really think that he can run a war alone?

MR. SNOW: No. And the President doesn't ignore the polls, but he also doesn't ignore his obligations as Commander-in-Chief. And most of all, he does not --

Q Well, what supersedes the other.

MR. SNOW: No. There will be times when a President sometimes has to show political courage in trying to defend national security because -- and that has happened at a number of junctures in this nation's history. And the President is going to do everything in his power to keep this country secure, and also to prevent a threat, a stated threat, from gathering strength so that future Presidents will not have to deal with even worse crises in the future.

So, as Commander-in-Chief, his most solemn obligation is to protect this country, and that's how he sees it. Now, when it comes to maintaining public support for a war, approaching four years in, that is always a difficult prospect. We understand that. And we continue to talk about it. And we think when the American people not only receive a presentation of what's going on in Iraq and how it fits into the larger war on terror, but also the simple question, if not this, what -- I think it not only sets the basis for --

Q It's not "if what," it's to get out. That's the "what."

MR. SNOW: No, no, I'm afraid not, because if you leave and create a vacuum you really do --

Q There are people there, they've lived there 5,000 years.

MR. SNOW: Yes, I'll rehearse the -- you understand the geopolitical argument.

Q Tony, getting back to the speech, if the approach the President is going to take is not based on the new political reality, why have you all decided from a communications standpoint to take this way, to use this way to address the main issues?

MR. SNOW: I just think some of the old State of the Union formulas have kind of run their course, and it's important to take a look -- you may be right, Peter. It may be that it's important to emphasize the areas where you can work together. And so, in that sense, maybe it does reflect a little bit of the political reality. But also, just as a presentational point of view, we want people to watch. And quite often what happened with previous speeches is you would have these recitations with one or two lines, you couldn't really dig into it or you would try to enunciate big themes, and then you would somehow get lost in reams of detail later on.

I think it's important to give a sense of how this government, with Democrats and Republicans, can, in fact -- he's going to lay a way forward for Democrats and Republicans to work together on the issues that are atop the stated concerns for all Americans -- health care, education, energy, immigration. Those are all atop everybody's lists -- war on terror. So if you talk about those in a way that gives both parties an opportunity to work together and achieve success, that's a good and important thing.

Go ahead, Sarah.

Q Tony, for the first time, the United States has agreed to bilateral talks with North Korea if North Korea agrees to give up its nuclear weapons program. Would it be better to put all issues on the table before negotiations begin?

MR. SNOW: Well, the premise of your question is wrong. In the September 19, 2005 agreement, one of the things that's in there is the possibility of bilateral negotiations within the context of the six-party talks. We have not had bilateral talks. What you had over the week -- this week in Berlin were talks with Chris Hill and a North Korean representative as preparations for the six-party talks. Chris is then moving on to Beijing and Seoul and also Tokyo. So he's going to be meeting with heads of state in Japan, South Korea, and also China.

All the parties of the six-party talks -- we'll speak with the Russians at some other venue, I'm sure -- at this particular point are in the loop. They know that he's been having these conversations. But this is not bilateral -- number one, this is not an instance of bilateral negotiations on the side. And secondly, bilateral relations between the North Koreans and the United States has always been part of the agreement laid out in that September 19th accord.

So if the North Koreans return to the table without preconditions, then you've got the opportunity to move forward.

Q Thank you.

MR. SNOW: You're welcome. Les.

Q Yes, Tony, thank you. Two questions. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Congressman Maurice Hinchy of New York have just introduced companion bills called the "Media Ownership Reform Act," which are an attempt to revive the "fairness doctrine" for TV and radio with no such government control proposed for newspapers, magazines or wire services. My question, does the President believe that we should revive the so-called "fairness doctrine" which was repealed during the Reagan administration?

MR. SNOW: You know, Les, we'll take that up if it becomes a real issue.

Q Okay. President Kennedy's Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Bill Ruder, said, "We had a massive strategy to use the 'fairness doctrine' to challenge and harass the right-wing broadcasters and hoped the challenge would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited and decide it was too expensive to continue. And my question, do you remember that statement reported by The Washington Times on September 5, 1993?

MR. SNOW: No. Although I do have some memories of the Kennedy administration, that particular utterance does not rise to thought.

Q That was from an article headlined, "Return of the Fairness Demon," and the byline was, Tony Snow.

MR. SNOW: All right, thank you. (Laughter.)

Q Thank you.

MR. SNOW: I guess my research -- played "gotcha". That's great. (Laughter.)

Q Will the speech next week be traditional length, or is going to also be shorter in an attempt to get people to maybe watch?

MR. SNOW: I don't know. We're still working it out. I honestly don't have an answer for you on that.

Q Tony, in the list of priorities for the speech, you mentioned energy, but you didn't mention environment. So I'm just wondering, with respect to your policy, does that mean that this administration believes in incentives to try to lessen dependence on foreign oil or to develop alternative fuels, but no penalty if you don't, particularly with respect to environmental impact?

MR. SNOW: I'm about to bang my head on the microphone again. Let me just try to make it clear one more time. Energy and environmental policy are linked up, for the simple reason that the President has talked about getting rid of an addiction to oil, addressing an addiction to oil, and looking for alternative sources of energy, which themselves do not contribute to greenhouse gases or to global warming or to climate change. And he will talk about that. And the way you do is you encourage innovation. And there are plenty of opportunities out there to encourage people to do the right things. Carrots tend to work better than sticks.

But I'm not going to get into the details of what the President is going to propose, but it is certainly no secret that this President believes deeply in the importance of trying to innovate our way out of a situation where we've been dependent on an oil source that can render us insecure. So what he's really trying to do is to balance the needs of security and, at the same time, also the environment. And you can expect him to make that linkage in the speech.

Q Two other quick subjects. On China, the White House has expressed concern that China tested a satellite-killing weapon. Was this a provocative move by China? What's the White House response?

MR. SNOW: Don't know that, but we are concerned about it, and we've made it known.

Q What about these 55 lawmakers, most of the Republicans yesterday came out on behalf of these Border Patrol agents and are saying that they want a pardon, they want the President to pardon these Border Patrol agents who have gone to jail. What's the White House reaction to that?

MR. SNOW: Well, the White House reaction is, we would encourage everybody to take a look at the fact record in the case, because there have been a number of things that have been alleged that simply aren't true.

You had a situation in which a fellow was pulled over; one of the agents hit him in the chest with a rifle butt after he finally got out. He had resisted slowing down. He had his hands in the air. When an agent slipped, the guy started running away. They fired 15 shots at him, then they departed the scene. And a lot of the allegations about a scuffle and discovering drugs at the scene and all that, they're simply not supported by the fact record of the case.

So what we would encourage members to do -- and I think the prosecutor, Johnny Sutton, is going to be making some media appearances today, is to take a look at what the facts are, because what members have been talking about, and the things that have inflamed passions, are not consistent with what was presented at trial, under oath, and certainly not consistent with what 12 members of a jury agreed to unanimously in that case.

So I think there's kind of a caricature, both of the situation and of our justice system, to think that people would be cavalier about folks who had behaved heroically. I will not characterize what's going on. These gentlemen still have legal avenues and legal redress. But I do think maybe the best way to address the concerns of those members is to take a look at the fact record in this case.

Q If not a pardon, will the President at least meet with these lawmakers to hear these concerns? Will the President get involved himself?

MR. SNOW: I don't know about that. I mean, the President has heard the concerns. One of the things that we think is important is that the lawmakers, as they look at the case, need to look at the facts of the case. This is somewhere where, in a very real way, people have created a narrative that is simply not supported by, again, what was presented under oath at the trial. And if they took a look at that, my sense is that they would take a much different approach to this particular incident.

Q Thank you.

MR. SNOW: Thank you.

END 1:46 P.M. EST