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Ask the White House - 2004 Guests Ask the White House Archives
September 30 2004 | 1:55 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Amber from Bremerton, WA:
In response to Rob Nichols answer to the identity theft question - he said the following - "bad news for the criminals that put ten million Americans through a terrible and costly ordeal each year". Uh - ten million? It doesn't take a big brain to figure out that's a ridiculous statement. So I looked it up and according to the FTC website at the number of identity theft victims was 214,905 in 2003. That's a far cry from ten million. Or is Mr. Nichols figuring that 46 of each victim's friends and family share in the terrible and costly ordeal?

Rob Nichols A: Rob Nichols, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Public Affairs:
Dear Amber,
Thank you so much for your follow-up! I agree, it is a shockingly large number, but ten million is, in fact, a sound estimate for the number of victims of identity theft. The 214,905 figure you cited from the Federal Trade Commission's Web site is only the number of ID theft complaints filed with the FTC last year, which is just the tip of the iceberg of the total cases nationwide. A comprehensive report conducted by the Commission - and also posted on its Web site at -- estimates that the actual number of ID theft victims is closer to 10 million each year. That means around 1 in 30 Americans are victimized by an identity thief every year, which is why it's so important to bring the criminals to justice. Thank you for your interest in this important issue.

September 29 2004 | 6:44 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Justin from Syracuse:
What's the scoop on a mandatory draft for all men and women from 18-26 years old? I read it is to begin in June, 2005. What's the deal?

Jim Wilkinson A: Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:
As I said last week on "Ask the White House," this is a myth...there are no plans whatsoever for a draft...we have an all volunteer force of wonderful men and women in uniform who are getting the job done. I know this myth is making its way around the Internet, but you can place this myth right up there with Area 51, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, or the myth that the government filmed the moon landing in Nevada.

September 29 2004 | 5:50 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Ken from Palo Alto, CA:
I had thought that the President had weekly broadcasts in Spanish, but from looking at the /radio/ web pages I am not sure if that is true. Do you have lists of Spanish language broadcasts somewhere on the web site?

Maria Pia Tamburri A: Maria Pia Tamburri, Director of Specialty Media:
Ken, Thank you for your question. Since May 5, 2001, the President's weekly radio address has been available in Spanish. The transcript and the audio can be found on the White House Spanish web site and is posted every Saturday morning at 10:06 a.m. The Spanish address can also be heard on various Spanish radio networks throughout the country. You can locate the President's radio address in Spanish at /espanol/

September 29 2004 | 10:12 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Amanda from New York:
What is the US goverment doing to help the people of Florida due to all of the hurricanes?

Mike Brown A: Mike Brown, FEMA Director:
Life-saving and life-sustaining actions remain the top priority in the areas impacted by Hurricane Jeanne. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is working with the State of Florida and local governments to distribute the water, ice, food, and equipment that FEMA pre-positioned prior to each of the storms. Nearly 5,000 FEMA employees are in Florida working on the response and recovery efforts from these Presidentially declared disasters for Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. FEMA has also filled more than 683,000 applications for Individual Assistance with almost $400 million in payments approved. FEMA has given $1.4 million to Florida for crisis counseling as well for these storms. FEMA continues to take applications at (800) 621-FEMA (3362) and (800) 462-7585 for speech- and hearing-impaired individuals on a 24/7 basis to assist disaster victims.

September 27 2004 | 5:17 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Lisa from West Monroe, Louisiana:
What is the justification for our troops remaining in Iraq? How can we possibly hope to change the issues for the people in Iraq when they do not desire a change? Do we really have a say?

Colby Cooper A: Colby Cooper, Director for Communications and Media Relations, National Security Council:
Lisa -

The President has for a long time committed that US troops will remain in Iraq as long as necessary and not one day longer. On Thursday, in the Rose Garden with Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, President Bush spoke to that commitment when he said, "The path to our safety and to Iraq's future as a democratic nation lies in the resolute defense of freedom. If we stop fighting the terrorists in Iraq, they would be free to plot and plan attacks elsewhere, in America and other free nations. To retreat now would betray our mission, our word, and our friends. Mr. Prime Minister, America will keep it's commitments."


September 22 2004 | 1:25 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Katy from Orange, New Jersey:
I heard this morning that Scott McClellan has not met with reporters for more than a month now. What's up with that?

Scott McClellan A: Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary:
Katy, unfortunately the truth can be a casualty in an election year. Be wary of nonsensical and inaccurate diversionary tactics. The fact is I participate in question and answer sessions with White House reporters on a daily basis. They include formal and informal briefings at the White House, on the road or at the Crawford, Texas briefing center, and one-on-one interviews throughout the day and into the evening. In fact, there have been more than 37 formal or informal briefings since the beginning of August. Most, but not all, are posted on our White House website at You can imagine I would have heard something from reporters at the White House if only the assertion were true.

September 17 2004 | 4:23 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Dave from Corvallis, OR:
Why has there been no announced support for Russia's recent determination to proactively attack terrorism?

Jim Wilkinson A: Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:

President Bush visited the Russian Embassy on Sunday and discussed terrorism in Russia.
You can read his comments here: /news/releases/2004/09/20040912-1.html

September 16 2004 | 5:58 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Randall from Montgomery, Alabama:
When will the President declare the State of Alabama a disaster area because of Hurricane Ivan?

Andy Card A: Andy Card, White House Chief of Staff:
Good question, Randall. The President has already declared that a major disaster exists in Alabama. Click here for more information. The President has declared that major disasters also exist in Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.

September 14 2004 | 5:54 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Andrea from Fort Myers, FL:
I recently saw a special the History Channel did about the war of 1812. Does the portrait of General Washington that Dolly Madison risked her life to save hang in the White House today? If not, what became of it?

Bill Allman A: Bill Allman, White House Curator:
Yes, the portrait of George Washington that Dolley Madison took with her when she fled the White House in 1814 does hang in the house today. It is on display in the East Room on the State Floor. Mrs. Madison left the White House on August 22, 1814, in advance of British troops who set fire to the White House and other government buildings. In addition to packing and removing cabinet documents and a few furnishings, Mrs. Madison had Gilbert Stuart's 1797 portrait of George Washington removed from its frame and taken safely into the countryside. In 1817, the painting was returned to the newly rebuilt White House. It has remained here ever since with one exception--the portrait was stored at the National Gallery of Art from 1949-1952 during the Truman renovation.

September 10 2004 | 5:58 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Ty from Orlando, Florida:
For the past two years, The President has proclaimed September 11th as Patriot Day and directed the flag of the United States to be flown at half staff. To date, no similar proclamation has been made for September 11, 2004 which is tomorrow. Is there going to be a proclamation this year?

Andy Card A: Andy Card, White House Chief of Staff:
That's correct. The President signed a bill into law in December of 2001 that designated each September 11 as "Patriot Day." Each year since, the President has issued a proclamation requesting that the people of the United States display the flag at half-staff on Patriot Day and observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. eastern daylight time on September 11, to honor the innocent victims who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

In addition, the President has proclaimed each year, "National Days of Prayer and Remembrance," calling on the people of the United States to join together and pray for those who were lost, and for their loved ones. This year, the National Days of Prayer and Remembrance are September 10 through September 12, 2004.

Patriot Day should not be confused with Patriots Day, which is celebrated on April 19th, marking the start of the Revolutionary War with the Battle of Lexington and Concord as well as Paul Revere's "Midnight Ride" on April 19, 1775.

You can find this year's proclamations right here on the White House Web Site.

September 9 2004 | 2:10 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Joseph from St. Louis:
What is the significance of today's declaration that what is happening in Sudan is genocide?

Jim Wilkinson A: Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:
Good question, Joseph. I invite you to read Secretary Powell's testimony from this morning.

September 8 2004 | 5:01 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Nancy from Richmond, Texas:
I am a hardworking, law abiding citizen who has been a victim of identity theft for over five years now and still counting. This is a fast growing dilemma in our society; I was informed that identity theft in my home town (South Texas) has increased by over 30. What is the President doing in regards to this never ending issue?

Rob Nichols A: Rob Nichols, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Public Affairs:
In July of this year, President Bush took an important step in the fight against identity theft, the fastest growing financial crime in America by signing the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act which increases the penalties for identity thieves and ensures that those who do the crime will do the time. This bold step is good news for consumers; bad news for the criminals that put ten million Americans through a terrible and costly ordeal each year. This new law will work together with legislation President Bush signed in December that gives consumers, law enforcement, financial institutions and businesses important new tools to help detect when an identity theft has occurred, stop identity thieves in their tracks, and help victims restore their good names. By empowering consumers, law enforcement and American businesses with new ways to fight identity theft, and with the ongoing vigilance of individuals to protect their personal information we are one step closer to putting an end to this despicable crime. Thanks for your question.

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