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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can ask questions of key White House officials.

The current Guest: White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card.

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White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card

Cheyenne, Wyoming: A week ago, President Bush was saying that Saddam was losing his grip on power. In a way, this seemed to indicate he believed Saddam was alive. Now the message from the administration is one of doubt that Saddam is alive. Has something happened in the last week, or are you just -- are you trying to sow doubt among the Iraqi leadership?

Andrew Card: I think that, as the President has always said, and members of the administration have said when asked, is Saddam alive, we say we don't know, because we do not know. The fact that he failed to show up for his scheduled appearance today raises additional questions. But I think it's also fair to say, given the fact that we don't know if he's alive or not, when the President refers or other people in the administration refer to Saddam Hussein this or Saddam Hussein that, it's almost now a generalized term for the Iraqi regime, because we don't know if he's alive or dead.

Richmond, Virginia: How was General Garner picked to be the -- to head the post-war Iraqi occupation?

Andrew Card: My understanding is he was picked by Secretary Rumsfeld as part of the team that the Secretary has assembled that is working in coordination with other offices in the United States government, including AID and State, on the reconstruction of Iraq.

San Diego, California: What is the President doing right now to try to resolve disputes within the administration, specifically Pentagon and State, over administering aid for the Iraqi people? It appears that some of it is being held up now at the port in Umm Qasar.

Andrew Card: Well, one, there is an existing plan and structure for the administration of aid for Iraq. And this is something that was planned going in. This is part -- a follow-up to Helen's question. General Garner is, of course, working on that from the Defense Department, and as well as officials from State, from AID. They all will have a role.

The role really begins with the security of Iraq, and that's why it begins at DOD, because this is going to become an outgrowth of the military operation, to liberate Iraq, to disarm Iraq; and from a security point of view, to allow for the greatest administration, as quickly as possible by the Iraqi people. That will include a role for others, including the United Nations, as I mentioned. So it's all part and parcel of the original plan. And it's just a part of the discussions that are routine around here, that involve the various agencies.

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