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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
October 23, 2007

Press Briefing by Dana Perino
James S. Brady Briefing Room

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12:47 P.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Good afternoon. I have three things to go over with you before we go to questions. First of all, the President continues to monitor the situation in southern California regarding the wildfires. He's being provided updates by senior staff. And Secretary Chertoff and FEMA Administrator Paulison are on their way to southern California as I speak. Tonight they will provide the President with an update on ongoing federal efforts and the situation on the ground in southern California.

Yesterday the President spoke with Governor Schwarzenegger, and Secretary Chertoff and Administrator Paulison have been in regular contact with the Governor's staff and local officials. Overnight the President declared an emergency in southern California. FEMA is coordinating federal support to state and local officials -- going to try to see if we can pull up some slides here. We have one. I just wanted to show you a little bit about the -- just to give you some little bit of detail about what is being provided.

To date, there has been a lot -- many different agencies coming together: DHS, DOD, USDA, and the Interior Department, just to name a few. They are providing crews, engines, helicopters. And DOD also, because they have eight DOD installations in the area, are able to provide a lot of different things such as personnel and cots, and 280,000 bottles of water is one of the other things that they can provide.

So we will provide you an update on the President's readout of that call tonight, after he talks to Paulison and Chertoff, when they're on the ground.

Q Will the President be going himself anytime soon?

MS. PERINO: I'll get to questions in a moment.

On a personnel announcement, today President Bush is going to announce his intention to nominate Bobby Sturgell to serve as administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. He is currently the Acting Administrator and Deputy Administrator of the FAA. Bobby has worked tirelessly to modernize our nation's air traffic control system. He was part of the announcement that the President made about six weeks ago. He has over three decades of real-world experience in the field. He served as a flight operations supervisor and a line pilot for United Airlines. He was an instructor at the Navy Fighter Weapons School -- it's also known as Top Gun. Some of you may have seen the movie. He shares the President's strong commitment to continuing to preserve the safest period of aviation on record. And we will call upon Congress to swiftly confirm him.

One last thing, on a personnel note, which is Judge Mukasey. He is an exceptional person; he's an exceptionally well-qualified nominee to be the next Attorney General of the United States. He showed that in his hearings last week in the Senate, over two days. He had scores of personal visits with members of Congress and committee members, two full days of public hearing, which is unusual for a nominee. The Senate Judiciary Committee failed to list the Judge's nomination to committee this week. We are actively encouraging the Senate to do that.

Just a couple of reminders. Senators on Capitol Hill have claimed that the Department of Justice is bereft of leadership and that they want somebody in there, and actually, three of the main Senators, Senators Schumer, Reid, and Leahy have all said that Judge Mukasey would actually be the person that they would want to have in there. Schumer said that this nation needs a new Attorney General and it can't afford to wait. Therefore, we are calling on Congress to actually schedule this vote. They're waiting until Thursday now to provide questions for the record. As soon as we get those questions for the record we will turn them around. But as you can see, Senator Reid and Senator Leahy, the Chairman of the committee, have said that Judge Mukasey would be an excellent Attorney General. Therefore, we see no reason for them to continue to delay his nomination.

Go to questions.

Q I'd like to ask you about the missile defenses and the threat posed by Iran. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says North Korea poses a fundamental threat, but Iran does not. The President said today that Iran is going to have the ability to strike the United States and many European allies by 2015. How do you reconcile the two positions?

MS. PERINO: Well, the President -- I go back to what the United Nations Security Council unanimously has said, which is that Iran should not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. That is why they are under U.N. Security Council regulations and are under Chapter 7 regulations by the U.N. Security Council, that was unanimously passed because the world community does not believe Iran should be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.

We have provided a path for Iran to have a civilian nuclear power program. And Russia has been very supportive of that, as well. The President spoke to President Putin yesterday. He said that he feels confident that Russia agrees that Iran should not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. And what the President was talking about today is a anti-ballistic missile system that would protect our country and countries that are allies of ours, such as the NATO countries, from threats near and far. And we have a system now that's up and running in Alaska and California; we'd like to provide the same for our European partners for threats from countries like Iran.

Q But do you find it troubling that Russia is saying that Iran is not a threat?

MS. PERINO: I think that the President feels confident that Russia believes that Iran should not have a nuclear weapon. It's one of the reasons we have a unanimous U.N. Security resolution saying just that. And the international community is working together. We have what's called the P5-plus-1 process in order to pressure Iran. And we're looking at a possible second round -- I'm sorry, third round of economic sanctions that we're discussing with all of those countries, including Russia, right now.

Q Dana, the aggressive response to the fires, how much of that is done sort of with lessons learned from Katrina?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that there were lessons learned from Katrina, especially in regards to early communication and coordination between the federal, state, and local governments. Obviously, the situation is different. When you have a hurricane, there are days when you can prepare and prepare for evacuation. These fires can spark up overnight and literally your house is going up in smoke. And so that's why the President declared the emergency so that we can help people get to a place where they can be safe.

Clearly, when they're talking about increased coordination that means that you can get assets like those DOD assets and the U.S. Department of Agriculture assets, the Department of Interior assets to that region quickly. And I would say that the state and federal -- I'm sorry, the state and local governments are working quite well together, as well, which is why we've had a good coordinated response. It's a very dangerous situation. You have over 300,000 people evacuated, and the President is very concerned for not only their safety, but for how we are going to help them afterwards.

Q Well, when you send Secretary Chertoff out or Director Paulison or you take a minute to show us 280,000 bottles of water, is that designed to make sure folks know that the administration won't repeat its own mistakes?

MS. PERINO: I would say that it's not designed to do anything for me to show you that; it's to alert people to what the federal government is doing in order to help the people of southern California. The whole world is watching how much of the state -- the southern part of the state is on fire. The federal government is very concerned, the President is concerned himself, and that's why we're providing these assets. We did provide assets at Katrina. But there were lessons learned out of Katrina and I think that we are applying some of those, especially when it comes to early communication, early and often communication between our staff here at the federal level and then the Governor's staff and the Mayor's staff.

Q Is the President going to go out?

MS. PERINO: We don't have anything to announce in terms of the President going out. Right now it would be premature to announce because of the situation on the ground requiring so much of the security assets to be put towards helping people get out of harm's way, or to fight -- actually fight the fires. And so we are going to continue to update the President. He'll get a briefing tonight from Secretaries Chertoff and -- I'm sorry, Secretary Chertoff and Administrator Paulison. And then if we have more to update you on when -- whether he might go, we'll let you know.

Q And as far as he knows right now, is everything going as well as it could be going? I've seen a couple of wire reports that at the -- center they were asking for water and other things, donations.

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that -- again, being such an emergency where you have so many people needing to be in one place immediately, obviously they would need a lot of support; not only bottles of water, but cots, diapers, baby formula. People have had to leave immediately. Governor Schwarzenegger did tell the President he felt he was getting what he needed, but the President said, you've got an open line of communication, and if you need more, you just have to let us know.

Toby.

Q The President said that Iran could have the ICBM by 2015. Do you believe that U.S. missile shields in Europe will be operational by then? And also -- I had a question on Russia.

MS. PERINO: Oh, okay, so we'll do this one first. What we're doing right now is having discussions with the Czechoslovakia government and the Polish government to talk about basing arrangements, where we would put the missile defense system. Those discussions are ongoing. At the same time, the President has directed Secretary Gates and Secretary Rice to work with Vladimir Putin's government in Russia in order to identify possible areas of cooperation.

The anti-missile defense system is not aimed at Russia. It is -- the whole purpose of it is to protect countries from rogue states, like Iran, from nuclear weapons or ballistic weapons that would happen to -- they would have range enough in order to hit one of those countries that is our NATO allies, or eventually to hit us. And so there's a lot of groundwork that has to be laid. They're currently working on the technologies, but until you have those basing arrangements, I think that it's a little premature to say exactly what date it would be turned on and deployed.

Q Apparently, Secretary Gates told the Russians that the United States would consider delaying -- delaying the missile defense system --

MS. PERINO: The way I read that is that we are going to continue doing all of these negotiations for the basing arrangements, working on the technology, continue to -- continuing to work with the Russians to see if any of their previous technology would fit with ours and be something that we could use jointly. So all of that groundwork is going to be laid.

I think that what he was talking about was an idea that lends to what we're all working towards, which is we don't want Iran to have a nuclear weapon; we are working to make sure that we can use all diplomatic means possible to make sure that they stop the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium; and that we can eventually, if they want to, if Iran wants to, they know exactly what they can do in order to reach a point where we can provide to them a civil nuclear power program, using the idea that the Russians had in order to provide the fuel and pick up the fuel, so that they can -- if they really want it for clean-burning nuclear energy, then they have a path to get there.

Q About what Secretary Gates said today and what the President said today. The President said that it's a serious situation we need to take care of now -- as far as the missile defense system in Europe. Secretary Gates said that there might be this deal where they could build it, but not activate it until there is definitive proof of a missile threat from Iran. How do you square the two statements there at the same time?

MS. PERINO: I think that we're all talking about the same thing, which is that we want to have a diplomatic solution to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon. It would be wonderful if we lived in a world where we didn't need an anti-ballistic missile program. But unfortunately, right now we think that we do. So we are going to continue to lay the groundwork. And if we get to the point were Iran decides that they do not want to have a nuclear weapon, where we can verify that, then we might decide that it wouldn't be necessary eventually. But we are working towards getting that through the basing arrangements, getting the technology organized and starting to build those platforms before we turn it on.

Q So the President supports this idea of leaving the switch off until --

MS. PERINO: I haven't talked to the President about it. I do think that Secretary Gates was talking about trying to solve the Iranian situation diplomatically, which is what we all want.

Helen.

Q Did the President authorize Cheney to threaten Iran with serious consequences -- same language that we went into Iraq on?

MS. PERINO: Helen, I don't believe that the Vice President threatened Iran and I don't think that he said anything different than what the President --

Q He certainly did --

MS. PERINO: -- has said before.

Q -- "serious consequences," same language.

MS. PERINO: The Vice President didn't say anything different from what the President said before. If you look at the Vice President's speech, he said, we want to try to solve this diplomatically, but no President is going to take any option off the table. That's exactly what the President has said before. So it wasn't different.

Q He also threatened serious consequences. One other question. Is there any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?

MS. PERINO: Helen, we've talked about this before and I'm going to --

Q No, no, no, you've never answered it.

MS. PERINO: I know. (Laughter.)

Q How can you threaten a country that may have them, and know that another country does have them?

MS. PERINO: Helen, I'm going to let those countries speak for themselves.

Elaine.

Q Dana, back on the wildfires for a moment. Senator Barbara Boxer, this morning in a hearing, suggested that they're limited in the amount of National Guard equipment available to them in California because of commitments in Iraq. Specifically she said, "Right now we are down 50 percent in terms of our National Guard equipment because they're all in Iraq. The equipment -- half of the equipment, so we really will need help." Do you have a response to that?

MS. PERINO: I haven't heard that specifically. I know that that has been a concern. I think in another natural disaster that I'm -- I'm sorry?

Q In Kansas, Greensburg.

MS. PERINO: In Kansas. So obviously this nation -- we are a nation at war and when you are a nation at war you have to use assets that are available to you. And sometimes those come from the National Guard. I haven't heard about those concerns specifically. The President has said we will get them what they need. To the extent that there are holes in the system or not enough equipment, you can bet that the Defense Department and the President will be making sure that we provide what they need.

There are other places to get assets, as I mentioned; U.S. Department of Agriculture has fire engines and tanks that they can bring in, in order to help, as well. So we'll try to make sure that we get them what they need, either through additional DOD assets from other places -- I understand that the Nevada National Guard was going to be willing to help in California, as well. So there are ways to help.

Q But does it raise questions, though, about having these National Guard pieces of equipment elsewhere, outside of the state of California, where it was obviously intended to be used?

MS. PERINO: When we are a nation at war there are priorities that you have to make sure that the National Guard units that are serving -- that live in California, but are serving right now in Iraq, you want to make sure that they have the equipment that they need in order to protect themselves. And so you have to weigh those priorities. But I think that there are ways that we can make sure that California has what it needs.

Ann.

Q You mentioned the suddenness of the fires in southern California. Aside from that, is this on a scale of the disaster you saw with Hurricane Katrina, and are you responding to it in a different way than the administration responded to Katrina?

MS. PERINO: I think that's too early to say in terms of the situation. Obviously a lot more people were evacuated and are safe, but their homes have been destroyed. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed. So while there might be similarities there, I think it's too early to say. And it's a different type of natural disaster, but what it does remind us is that natural disasters have a way of uprooting people's lives and making a situation where people have to start over. And it's -- I actually lived in San Diego for three years; I know what it's like to live in the West in a very dry part of the world and to worry about whether or not every fall and this time of year, when the Santa Anas come, that you could be vulnerable.

Q Are you using any of the lessons learned from Katrina in the federal response?

MS. PERINO: That's a similar question that Jim had, and we are obviously working to communicate better and earlier. And that was one of the things that -- out of Lessons Learned that we said that we could do. And we've applied that not just here, but in Kansas and in, I believe, tornadoes in Alabama, and then again with the bridge collapse in Minnesota. So I think that clearly those lessons were learned and they're being applied.

Go ahead, Bret.

Q On a different topic, Representative Pete Stark addressed the House today and apologized to colleagues and to the President and to his family, and also to U.S. troops offended by his remarks, saying that he hopes that with the apology he'll become as insignificant as he should be in the continuing debates over Iraq and health care. Does the President accept his apology?

MS. PERINO: This is the first I've heard of it. If it's true that he has apologized, I think that's appropriate. I hadn't heard it.

Let's go to Mark, and then over here.

Q Dana, can we talk about the Cuba speech tomorrow? As I understand it, the President wants to outline steps that the international community, including the United States, can/should take to help prepare for the day of the end of the long tyranny and the arrival of democracy. Are there specific steps that can be taken now, while the communist party is still running Cuba?

MS. PERINO: It's a little premature for me to get in front of the President's speech. Let me tell you a couple of things. First of all, it is true that soon the decades-long debate about our policy towards Cuba will come to a time when we're going to have an opportunity here, when Castro is no longer leading Cuba, that the people there should be able to have a chance at freedom and democracy. That opportunity is coming. The President will call on the world to come together and to support the people of Cuba in their growing support for democracy in the region.

One of the things the President will talk about is that the Cubans are prohibited by their government from participating in things that all of us have come to take for granted -- owning a business, or having access to the Internet. And these are things that can help provide for freedom and hopefully for the future of democracy, if they could lay the groundwork for people to be able to have their own business and to be able to educate themselves and have access to the outside world.

And the President has talked about Cuba in standalone speeches three times before: May 18, 2001, May 20, 2002, and October 10, 2003. This is a time for the President to remind people of our commitment to support the Cuban people's aspirations for freedom. And to the extent that we have more detail to give, we'll either have it later today or tomorrow morning.

Q Let me just ask you one thing, though, about -- Fidel Castro -- apparently it's already written in the Cuban media about the speech ahead of time -- predicting that the President is going to adopt new measures to accelerate the transition period in a way that is equivalent to a new conquest of Cuba by force.

MS. PERINO: Dictators say a lot of things, and most of them can be discounted, including that.

Q Dana --

MS. PERINO: Do you want to stay on Cuba?

Q Yes, just real quickly, Dana. Why now? What's the timing factor --

MS. PERINO: I checked on that. The President has wanted to give a speech on Cuba for a while. There's no significance to tomorrow's date, it just worked with the calendar. As you know, last week also the President met with one of the families of one of the Cuban dissidents who is suffering in prison right now. He's met with many of those families over the years and it's on his mind -- he talked about Cuba in the trade speech on October 12th -- and so we looked for an opportunity for the President to talk about it.

Q So was that meeting last week, was that some sort of an impetus to this?

MS. PERINO: No, it was on the schedule before that.

Q On the war supplemental, given that Democrats say they won't take it up till next year, the President wants it by Christmas, what is he going to do about it? Is he just going to take any opportunity he can, like this talk on the budget later this week, to keep bringing this up? Is that his plan?

MS. PERINO: Yes, the President is going to continue to talk about the war supplemental. Look, there's some time before DOD absolutely must have the money, but not that much time. And we saw last year that the Democrats are willing to play politics when it comes to providing money for the troops. They did it last June when they sent the bill -- the supplemental bill to the President. It was laden with pork. They sent a bill to the President they knew he would veto. He vetoed it and then we had negotiations and we got money for the troops.

Remember last February, at the request of Congress, the President provided an extensive amount of detail for what we thought we were going to need in the war on terror. And at that time, we also said we believe we're probably going to have to ask for more later in the fall. And then the congressionally mandated testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker took place September 15th.

Following that is when the Department of Defense and the Department of State finalized what they would need for the troops. And so the President is going to continue to call on them. The Congress has not had a very good track record of getting things done this year. They've had the President's budget request since February. There have been no appropriations bills sent to the President's desk, even though it is 23 days after the end of the fiscal year. And no appointees have been named to the conference reports that Nancy Pelosi needs to name. Therefore, we can't get anything done.

And so the President is going to call on them to get this work done before they leave for the holidays. It's the least that they could do for the troops. And hopefully, the troops will be able to -- the troops' families will know by the holidays that they're going to be taken care of.

Olivier.

Q Dana, one on Turkey, one on Iran. On Turkey, apparently leaders there are now raising the prospects of possible U.S.-Turkish joint military operations against the PKK. Any reaction to that? Are you open to that idea? Is that a good idea?

MS. PERINO: Well, let me just remind you that yesterday the President reached out to -- by SVTS to Prime Minister Maliki, and he also spoke to -- by phone -- to President Gul of Turkey. What he urged for both of them was to exercise restraint, for them to communicate and to cooperate, because we do not want to see additional violence in that region.

That said, I would refer you to the multinational forces in Iraq to see what sort of support that they can provide. I am not aware of any American support for an air strike, like you said, but actionable intelligence is something that we can provide.

Q On Iran, several of my colleagues have tried to get an answer on this -- on Mr. Gates' comments, and the question is about the missile defense shield, it's not about the nuclear weapon. He said that the United States would build it and would hold off on activating it until we saw, what he'd said, was "definitive proof of an Iranian threat." Are you saying that if Iran backs off its nuclear program, there's no need to activate the missile?

MS. PERINO: Well, not necessarily. I think that what he was saying is an idea based on Iran. I haven't talked to Secretary Gates; obviously he's over in Europe. The way I read it is that he was proposing an idea that we go ahead and do what we said we would do, get the system built so that we can have it in place. And we don't -- we do believe that we are going to need it to prevent against a threat from Iran. But I think what Secretary Gates was talking about is the possibility of it maybe not having to be deployed if we can verify that Iran doesn't have ballistic weapons that they could aim at our NATO allies or at us. But those are a lot of "ifs." It's one of the reasons we don't answer hypotheticals, and so -- move on.

Connie.

Q A lighter one. People are interested in the human side of people. How do you feel, and how does the President and the Vice President feel, when you're parodied the way you are today and this week in Doonesbury, or the way you are on the Daily Show? How do you really feel? Does it get under your skin?

MS. PERINO: No. I hardly have time to check it out.

I'll go to April.

Q All right, Dana, back on the fires, what is the involvement of HUD? We understand after Katrina, they started working out something in case there was a national disaster on that kind of scale when there is not enough housing. And we're hearing out of that area of California that more people are coming to areas who haven't even registered to stay in certain places. What is the role of HUD right now -- to find temporary housing for these people?

MS. PERINO: There will -- I think that right now the most important thing we can do is make sure that people are safe and that they have what they need in order to get through the next few days. Obviously, there is going to be a housing need. It's premature for me to say what the role of HUD is going to be. They have helped with vouchers and other types of assistance in the Gulf region after Katrina. And HUD provided that type of assistance, as did Department of Homeland Security. So it's a little premature for us to say, but we can -- we'll monitor it for you and let you know.

Q And as you're saying, some heads of agencies are over there and they're monitoring, they're going to give the President a call. What would be the criteria to make the President fly over there? What is needed for the President to go to California?

MS. PERINO: We'll let you know if he's going to go. It's just premature to say.

Q I mean, but what --

MS. PERINO: April, there's a lot of different factors that go into those decisions.

Paula.

Q You mentioned about the importance of getting these appropriation bills to the President's desk, its November 16 deadline. That's also the deadline for the SCHIP program. I wondered how negotiations are going on that.

MS. PERINO: Well, obviously, we are very grateful for the 38 House Republicans who have all signed a letter saying that they want to expand SCHIP based on principle of making sure that poor children are taken care of first. That is a good place to start. That's where the President is on this bill. And so I'll not negotiate here from the podium, but we are having ongoing discussions with members of Congress.

Q And also on the emergency war supplemental, I know the President wants this done by Christmas, but in the meantime, DOD appropriations has a $50 billion bridge fund in it. So would the President support that bill?

MS. PERINO: What we would like is full funding out of the supplemental. We think that's the best way to go. Kicking the can down the road is not a good way to steer the taxpayers' money.

Q But does the President support the Defense appropriations bill, because that would buy a little time, wouldn't it?

MS. PERINO: I need to check. I think that we have a SAP out on it.

Let me go to Finlay.

Q Were you in San Diego in 2003 during the wildfires?

MS. PERINO: I was not. I've been here since right after September 11th.

Q Okay, but in 2003 there was a big dispute between San Diego and FEMA over reimbursements for cleanup and for housing. Can you assure the victims in San Diego and around San Diego and the local governments that there won't be the same kind of snafu or bottleneck --

MS. PERINO: Well, I don't know what all the details were there and all the discussions. But what I can assure you is that the President wants good coordination between the federal, state and local governments. And there are laws that govern a lot of this reimbursement. And so, to the extent that there are difficulties or bottlenecks, the President would want to see those broken through, so that we can cut through red tape and make sure people have what they need. But I'm just not prepared to talk about all the details that went into the 2003 decisions.

Let me go to Les.

Q Thank you, Dana. Two questions. Yesterday, when the President posthumously awarded our nation's highest military honor to Navy SEAL Lieutenant Michael Murphy of New York, Senator Schumer of New York was present. But New York's other U.S. Senator was absent, "campaigning in California," her office explained. And my question: Does the White House believe that any political campaigning justified this New York candidate for a commander-in-chief of our armed forces being absent from this ceremony for a killed-in-action U.S. Navy hero from New York?

MS. PERINO: Les, I don't know -- look, I don't know the details surrounding that Senator's schedule, and I'll let the people of New York and the people of the military decide that.

Q In other words, your answer is no.

MS. PERINO: Let's move on to the second one.

Q There are reports that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has delegated key inspection requirements for Mexican trucks to a non-governmental trade organization. And my question: How can this nation's road, safety and border security be maintained when such responsible positions are turned over to organizations holding multiple loyalties?

MS. PERINO: I have not heard of that before, and I'll let Scott Stanzel respond to you.

Q Dana?

MS. PERINO: Go ahead. Let's go over here.

Q Two quick questions. One back to Iran. I don't mean to sound naive, but what do you think of Ahmadinejad's assertion that the concern over a nuclear bomb is outdated, given -- I believe what he said in his 60 Minutes interview, that given what's going on in Iraq, that the war of the present and the future has much more to do with terrorism, hand-to-hand, IEDs, rather than a nuclear bomb?

MS. PERINO: Look, we believe as well as the rest of our allies in the U.N. Security Council that Iran should not have a nuclear weapon. And we believe that the reason we have to have these sanctions is because they want to get one. And so I think that until they make a full declaration that they do not want to have a nuclear weapon and they halt their enrichment and reprocessing activities, we are going to continue to move forward with the sanctions and with the missile defense system because we believe they want a nuclear weapon.

Q Okay, and the second question has to do with Annapolis.

MS. PERINO: Okay.

Q Given the gap between what the Palestinians are saying their goal is of the talks and where the Israelis are, what if anything is realistically expected to occur, and if so, do you have any clear idea of when?

MS. PERINO: Well, Secretary Rice was in the region last week and Steve Hadley is actually leaving tomorrow to go to the region, as well, to talk to the Palestinians and the Israelis about the underlying issues. We do believe that right now is the time to move forward on the core issues, to have a serious and substantive discussion about how do we get a Palestinian state. And until there's more detail to announce we'll decline.

Sara, go ahead.

Q Thank you. Dana, how does the President plan to bring peace to Iraq with the U.S. troops now focusing on the Shiite militias?

MS. PERINO: I'm sorry, how does he plan to what?

Q To bring peace to Iraq with the U.S. troops now focusing on the Shiite militias?

MS. PERINO: Look, our troops are focused on the threats that are there against the Iraqi people and our troops and the rest of the troops that are there for the multi-forces -- multinational forces in Iraq -- includes al Qaeda and all insurgents.

Thank you.

END 1:17 P.M. EDT