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June 29, 2004 | 6:14 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Kelvin from Texas:
The genocide in Darfur is very troubling. The White House should escalate this issue with the Sudanese government, the American people, and to other countries throughout the world. What actions is the White House taking to relieve the suffering of the people in Sudan?

A:Colby Cooper, Director for Communications and Media Relations, National Security Council:
Kelvin - Thank you for your question. In fact, the White House released a statement today on this situation:

The President is deeply disturbed by the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Darfur region of Sudan. He has directed Secretary Powell to travel to Darfur to urge the Sudanese Government to heed the concerns of the international community and find a quick resolution to the crisis. Secretary Powell will be in Khartoum on June 29 and Darfur on June 30.

The United States has led the world in identifying and responding to this crisis. The President, the National Security Advisor, and the Secretary of State have all called for the Government of Sudan to end the crisis now. The United States had identified the nascent crisis by April 2003, and a senior official went to Darfur in October 2003 to alert the world. To save lives, we have delivered approximately $116 million in assistance and pledged a total of almost $300 million.

The United States played a pivotal role this year in negotiating the April 8 ceasefire and negotiating the entrance of African Union monitors. The Administration will continue to seek Security Council attention to this grave issue. It is time for the international community to coordinate its response and not allow a human catastrophe of this magnitude to unfold.

The United States calls upon the Sudanese Government to act urgently and decisively to neutralize and disarm the Jinjaweed and to reverse the crisis and create conditions that will allow the displaced to return home safely and with dignity.

The Bush Administration calls on all parties to the conflict in Darfur to adhere to the ceasefire, to respect the rights of civilians, to allow the free movement of humanitarian workers and relief supplies, and to work in good faith toward a negotiated settlement.

June 25, 2004 | 2:50 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Jim, from Central Ohio:
In response to a comment made by Colby Cooper to "Zach" from Florida....How exactly DID Iraq become the "central front in the war on terror"? Whatever happened to Osama bin laden anyway? I was born and bred here and I love this country but come on guys.....what are we doin here? Can these resources not be better utilized by protecting our own borders rather than continuing in Iraq? Or better yet, actually taking out bin Laden himself??? We are losing a lot of good kids over there. Why?

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

The President and this Administration, as I am sure every American, grieves heavily at the loss of any of our men and women who are fighting and working for the cause of freedom. We live in a new era with new challenges. Freedom is under attack and this country must not stand idly by while our security is put in jeopardy. We are working to better protect America and that protection does not stop at our borders. We must take this fight to the terrorists, where they live and operate. Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, because the terrorists have made it that. They do not want to see democracy flourish and freedom prevail. Let me remind you of the words found in a memo by a senior al-Qaida associate named Abu Musa.ab Al-Zarqawi who is operating in Iraq.

"There is no doubt that our field of movement is shrinking and the grip around the throat of the Mujahidin has begun to tighten. With the spread of the [Iraqi] Army and Police, our future is becoming frightening... [As of January 2004] I have completed 25 of these operations, some of them against the Shi.ia and their leaders, the Americans and their military, the Police, the Military, and the Coalition Forces... This region is our base of operations from where we depart and to where we return..."

We need to remain resolute in our mission -- defending our ideals and ways of life. As President Bush said on April 13, 2004, "I also have this belief, strong belief, that freedom is not this country's gift to the world; freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world. And as the greatest power on the face of the Earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom. We have an obligation to help feed the hungry. I think the American people find it interesting that we're providing food for the North Korea people who starve. We have an obligation to lead the fight on AIDS, on Africa. And we have an obligation to work toward a more free world. That's our obligation. That is what we have been called to do, as far as I'm concerned. And my job as the President is to lead this nation into making the world a better place. And that's exactly what we're doing."

So Jim, I have to believe that Afghanistan and Iraq and the 50 million people who inhabit those countries are better off today because of the actions taken by President Bush. The citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan have been given a renewed sense of hope and an opportunity to live and grow in an open society where there are civil and human rights...Free and open societies are less likely to breed ideologies of hatred and the bottom line is... With Afghanistan and Iraq free and democratic this world will be safer and America more secure.

June 24, 2004 | 2:29 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Zach, from Gainesville, FL:
What is the point of fighting a war on terrorism? I understand that our country is no longer the fortified place that it was in past years, and that we too are vaulnerable, but here is the fact. you are never going to eliminate every terrorist. it just is not going to happen. I think that many lives would be saved if the US just pulled out of Iraq.

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

That is exactly what the terrorists want us to do and pulling out of Iraq, the central front on the war on terror, would mean victory for the terrorists over the ideals of freedom. The terrorists who are operating inside Iraq understand the stakes are high and that when Iraq is stable, secure and democratic -- that one more operating base has been taken away. The war on terror is about taking the fight to the terrorists, where they live and operate. It is also about changing ideologies, freedom does not breed hatred and terror. I draw your attention to what President Bush said during his remarks to the graduating cadets of the United States Air Force Academy on June 2, 2004...

"Some who call themselves "realists" question whether the spread of democracy in the Middle East should be any concern of ours. But the realists in this case have lost contact with a fundamental reality. America has always been less secure when freedom is in retreat. America is always more secure when freedom is on the march.

All our commitments in the Middle East -- all of the four commitments of our strategy -- are now being tested in Iraq. We have removed a state-sponsor of terror with a history of using weapons of mass destruction. And the whole world is better off with Saddam Hussein sitting in a prison cell. We now face al Qaeda associates like the terrorist Zarqawi, who seek to hijack the future of that nation. We are fighting enemies who want us to retreat, and leave Iraq to tyranny, so they can claim an ideological victory over America. They would use that victory to gather new strength, and take their violence directly to America and to our friends. Yet our coalition is determined, and the Iraqi people have made clear: Iraq will remain in the camp of free nations."

And, a note about our men and women in uniform... We appreciate, value and honor their commitment and sacrifice in defending freedom. They are the heroes in this war and they have our gratitude as they defend our values and way of life.

June 24, 2004 | 9:52 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Boomer, from Michigan:
Hello, on CNN it was noted that, this would be the first time a Senator's portrait has hung, in the White House (referring to Senator Clinton). I'm not sure that this entirely accurate. Wasn't John Quincy Adams elected Senator, after his term as President ended?

A: Bill Allman, White House Curator:
The portrait of Hillary Rodham Clinton is the first of a sitting United States Senator to hang in the White House.

Andrew Johnson was the only former president to serve in the Senate after his term as president, but he served only briefly--March 4, 1875 until his death on July 31, 1875. His posthumous portrait for the White House was commissioned five years later in 1880.

John Quincy Adams was the only former president to serve in the House of Representatives after his term as president--March 4, 1831 to his death on February 23, 1848. His posthumous portrait for the White House was commissioned ten years later in 1858.

Fifteen of the presidents served in the Senate before becoming president, including John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson, so technically their portraits are one-time senators.

June 23, 2004 | 11:26 a.m.(EDT)

Q: James, from Swansea:
Just a comment I thought I'd write about the war on terror.
As the Great Winston churchill said.


We will win the war on terror eventually. Good always prevails.

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

Thanks for your note and your support. It is critical that we, the United States, remain steadfast in our resolve to defeat the enemies of freedom, the terrorist only need to be right once... We need to be right 100% of the time. I would also like to respond to your note with a quote from our President George W. Bush.


The President said on March 19, 2004, "The establishment of a free Iraq is our fight. The success of a free Afghanistan is our fight. The war on terror is our fight. All of us are called to share the blessings of liberty, and to be strong and steady in freedom's defense. It will surely be said of our times that we lived with great challenges. Let it also be said of our times that we understood our great duties, and met them in full."


June 22, 2004 | 12:26 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Michael, from North Merrick, NY:
I am working with my daughter on a project regarding the Flag of the US. One of the questions that I can't find the answer to is 'What does it mean when the flag is not flying at the White House?' I have looked on many web sites and count not find an answer. Then I figured, let's see if the White House Staff could help. Thank you for your assistance.

A: Tim Saunders, Executive Clerk:
Well, that's an interesting question, as the flag of the United States flies over the White House every day of every year, 24 hours a day. I'm guessing you might have viewed the flag at half staff one time and were not able to see the flag from the location you were standing.

June 21, 2004 | 5:03 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Jesse, Raleigh, N.C:
Why is our government fighting so hard to destroy our natural resources such as the big trees in southern Oregon? So much time and money was spent in Miami fighting Greenpeace when they are just exercising the right of free speach. Why is our current administration so anti-environment? Thanks for your time.




A: Jim Connaughton, Chairman Council of Environmental Quality:

Thank you for your questions and the opportunity to clarify for you the Bush Administration's approach to protecting -- and improving -- our environment.

I think you'll find that underneath the misrepresentation of our efforts by some special interest groups, we all share the same goal of improving the environmental quality of our great nation and ensuring responsible stewardship of our natural resources. These days, the issue is no longer whether to protect the environment, but how much, by when, and using what tool is best for the job. Most differences lie in how we accomplish our shared goal.

The Bush Administration stands behind the philosophy that a dynamic economy will provide the resources and innovation that will bring about strong environmental progress. We've seen that progress over the last 30 years as air pollution declined by nearly half while the U.S. economy more than doubled in strength. We propose and implement policies that encourage innovation and investments in newer, cleaner technologies, and programs offering incentives to improve faster, as opposed to the old way of thinking that required prolonged conflict and litigation. Most Americans know from their own experience that newer is usually cleaner, more efficient, safer, longer lasting, and requires fewer resources to deliver better performance.

With regard to your point about trees in southern Oregon, we actually are trying to save the trees from being destroyed by catastrophic wildfires. The Healthy Forests Restoration Act aims to do that by strengthening public participation in developing high priority forest health projects; reducing the complexity of environmental analysis allowing federal land agencies to use the best science available to actively manage land under their protection; providing a more effective appeals process encouraging early public participation in project planning; and issuing clear guidance for court action against forest health projects. The legislation, which the President signed last December, specifically protects old-growth trees. In the long-term, communities and wildlife will be safer as we reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires, like the ones that have occurred in Oregon in recent years. This approach was supported by an overwhelming bipartisan group of congressmen, senators and governors - including the Oregon delegation.

June 21, 2004 | 1:29 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Donald Finney, Indianapolis, In:
As a proud grandparent of one of the players in last sunday's tee ball game, I was wondering when the photos would be posted on the web.

A: Eric Draper, White House Photo Director
Thanks for your question, Donald. Here is a tee-ball photo essay from this weekend's game. (click here). Hope you enjoy it.

June 18, 2004 | 2:26 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Mary from Loganville, Ga:
I am a Mother with a son in Iraq. I believe in George Bush and our country and all the values we have been taught. My faith is in God and I just want Mr. Bush to know we love him and appreciate the work he is accomplishing everyday as our President.


A:Condoleezza Rice, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs:
Thank you for your note. More importantly, we appreciate and thank your son for his service and sacrifice to this great nation and thank you for the sacrifice you, as a caring mother, are also making.

Because of the efforts of your son, his fellow soldiers and members of the coalition, one of the most brutal and evil regimes is gone forever. 25 million Iraqis have been liberated and they are beginning to experience democracy and civil rights they have never seen before. A free Iraq will no longer be a threat in the world's most volatile region - a free Iraq will make the world safer and America more secure.

Thank you again for all that your son is doing.

June 18, 2004 | 11:10 a.m.(EDT)

Q: David, Spokane:
A couple days ago, before President Bush held a press conference with the Afghan Prime Minister, I noticed a lot of people running around preparing for the event. What happens before and after a press conference?

A:Erin Nagle, Communications Coordinator:

Actually, the Press Availability in the Rose Garden was with President Karzai of Afghanistan. You probably saw a live bump on one of the networks that later covered the event. The event was a joint press availability which means that President Bush and the visiting leader read statements and then answered questions from members of the press.

You probably saw photographers and reporters getting ready for the event. Usually, there is a 2 minute warning for the press and some of them use that time to do live stand-ups from their position in the Rose Garden. You may have also seen the U.S. and Afghan delegations come out to their viewing area after their meeting with the leaders.

As soon as the event is over, we try to clean-up as quickly as possible. We take the press back to the Briefing Room and then take down the stage, flags, podiums, etc. Usually, most of the 'running around' takes place right before and right after an event.


June 18, 2004 | 09:49 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Devin, Eaglewood, CO

Bishop Elementary School
3100 S. Elati
Englewood,CO 80110

Dear President Bush,
I wanted to talk about the Tropical Rain Forests. When I was in a group with three people Tyler, Kippy, and Daniel we read about the Tropical Rain Forest. We read that by 2005 the south American Tropical Rain Forest will be gone because people keep using it as a resource facility. I'm afraid if we don't try to save it and it gets used up they'll come to our country and use our's as a resource facility.

My group and I are doing a class project on the Tropical Rain Forest. Tyler and I have some ideas. My ideas are to put a security station near by. If people want to see the Tropical Rain Forest they have to check in at the security station. They'll have to go through a metal detector. When they go into the Tropical Rain Forest they have to where plastic shoes.

Another idea of mine is to surround the Tropical Rain Forest with security guards. When the people come to the security guards they have to empty out all their metal. When they go inside they should wear plastic shoes. Tyler's idea is metal alarms. If somebody sneaks through and they have an ax and they hit the tree the alarms will go off. Obviously, you can see this is important us so I hope you can do something about it.

Grade Four.

A:Jim Connaughton, Chairman Council of Environmental Quality:

Hi, Devin!

I am so happy, and I know the President would be, too, that you and your class are learning about tropical rainforest protection. This is a very important issue, one that we take seriously and are working on here at the White House. Thank you for sharing your ideas with us.

There are a lot of ways to protect, or conserve, rainforests around the world. For example, President Bush is a strong supporter of the Tropical Forest Conservation Act, which helps countries redirect their debt payments toward local projects to help protect tropical forests. To learn more, please visit /news/releases/2001/04/20010423-2.html, and /news/releases/2002/03/20020323-6.html for an example of how it works.

President Bush thinks that one of the best ways to help protect rainforests is for the United States government to work closely with other countries that have rainforests, such as the developing nations in South America and Africa, to help their governments create programs to fight illegal logging - timber that is harvested, transported, processed or sold against a country's laws.

The United States has been a leader in educating people and governments about this terrible problem, and is finding the solutions to take care of it through a variety of cooperative efforts with those countries. President Bush.s Initiative Against Illegal Logging expands those efforts by helping to improve law enforcement, getting the local communities in those countries involved, sharing our environmental technology with them, and helping the legal businesses that are regulated by their countries. governments.

You can learn more about this great program at /infocus/illegal-logging/.

We are also the largest supporter of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, which helps countries in Africa.s Congo Basin fight poverty and illegal logging, enforce anti-poaching laws, improve how local governments work, and conserve natural resources by supporting national parks and protected areas. Participating countries include Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, the United States, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the European Commission.

You can learn more about the Partnership at its Web site,

June 17, 2004 | 11:10 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Mimi, California:
How tall is First Lady Laura Bush?

A:Gordon Johndroe, Mrs. Bush's Press Secretary:
Mrs. Bush is 5 feet, 6 inches tall. She's just a few inches shorter than the President, so when the two of them speak at an event together, there's a hidden step that comes out of the podium for her to stand on. When she introduces the President, he pushes the step in with his shoe when it's his turn to speak.

June 17, 2004 | 11:00 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Kris, Nashville, TN:
What are the President's plans on "medical informatics" and the future of medicine? I feel that there has to be a better way to have a nation wide secure data base that medical professionals may retrieve medical records for patients that may have been seen in various, unrelated hospitals. Currently, it takes multiple faxes and phone calls to other facilities, which in turn slows the care for sometimes critically ill people. I understand the arguments against placing medical records online. However, wouldn't you want your family member's known medical diagnoses to be a point-and-click away to ensure the best care and followup? I know I would.

A: Alan Gilbert, Special Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy
Thank you for that great question. The President recently announced his plan for helping doctors and hospitals adopt health information technologies, and I am pleased to respond.

President Bush believes we should strive to make sure that most Americans have electronic health records within the next 10 years. Why? Too much money is spent each year on medical treatments that are unnecessary, inappropriate or ineffective, and too many Americans die or are harmed each year because of preventable medical errors.

An emergency room doctor needs real-time access to the right information in order to make the right decisions about care of a seriously injured patient. This kind of information is not readily available today to most doctors. In fact, it is a testament to our physicians and other providers that they deliver high-quality health care with a 19th Century, paper-based system.

The President supports health information technology as a way to reduce medical errors -- and reduce health care costs. In May, President Bush visited Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, to see these technologies in use. Vanderbilt is a leader in health information technology, and uses its system to prevent doctors and other providers from ordering the wrong medication or duplicative tests. Approximately 10,000 electronic orders are placed on their system every day -- 70 to 80 percent generated directly by physicians. Vanderbilt is harnessing the power of health information technology to dramatically improve the care it delivers to patients, and reduce its costs.

President Bush wants every American to have the same benefits that Nashville residents currently enjoy. Under his leadership, the Federal government has worked with the private sector to identify and endorse uniform standards -- to make it easier for Vanderbilt Medical Center to share a patient's medical information with a hospital in Crawford, Texas, for example. The President also has proposed to double to $100 million the amount of money for demonstration projects to test the effectiveness of these systems, and created a high-level health information technology coordinator to develop a strategic plan and recommend actions that the federal government may undertake to foster greater adoption.

Finally, let me just say that the President does not believe the use of these technologies should come at the expense of an individual's right to privacy of their private medical information. Americans should not have to worry about their personal medical information being used inappropriately, and President Bush strongly supports privacy rights for personal health information.

June 16, 2004 | 3:10 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Janice from Chicago, Illinois:
Does Barney like to take baths?

A:Dale Haney, White House Horticulturist:
Barney does not like to take baths, but he will tolerate it. Once he is placed in the sink, he knows a bath is coming and he won't move. He'll just stand there and put up with it.

June 16, 2004 | 1:07 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Russ Warner from New Hampshire:
In his June 3rd press gaggle, Scott McClellan refers to Andrew Card as Secretary Card. Exactly what is Andrew Card secretary of?

A:Scott McClellan, White House Press Secretary:
Thanks for your question. Andy Card has a long record of public service, including serving in the Reagan administration and both Bush administrations. The first President Bush appointed him to serve as Secretary of Transportation. Although I know Secretary Card is quite happy for people to address him as Andy, most White House staffers tend to address him as Secretary Card or sometimes "Chief." I think it is out of respect for his service as well as admiration for the great job he does overseeing the White House as Chief of Staff.

June 15, 2004 | 5:08 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Frank from Florida:
Why do politicians always refer to the general public as "The people of the United States" or merely "The American People." Would it be so inappropriate to refer to "us" as the "The American Citizens" of our Country or "Citizens of the United States?." After all, though we are both "The People" of the United States, a more defining phrase for us is the "The Citizens of this great Country, The United States of America."

A:Noam Neusner, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Speechwriting:
You're right, Frank -- there are many ways to define "the American people." And your way of describing the citizens of this great nation would be perfectly appropriate. That said, many political leaders -- including President Bush -- prefer using terms that are more familiar and less wordy, which is why you hear the phrase "the American people" more often than not. Thanks for your question.

June 15, 2004 | 12:46 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Regis from Stevens Point, WI
When are you going to do something about the national debt. It is 7.1 trillion right now today. This is a crime. You must bring the countries expenses in line with tax collections. I can't run my families budget in a negative balance and hope to survive.

A:Joel Kaplan, Deputy Director White House Office of Management and Budget:


President Bush is working to ensure that what the Federal Government spends more closely matches the Federal Government's revenues. But it is important to remember what we've been through in the last three years.

The Federal budget--like America itself--is in solid shape considering the extraordinary strain placed upon it: a stock market collapse that began in early 2000; a recession that was fully underway by early 2001; revelation of corporate scandals; and, of course, the September 11th attacks and ensuing War on Terror.

The President is committed to spending what is necessary to provide for our security--even if it means running a deficit for a while--and restraining spending elsewhere. Since September 11th, 2001, more than three-quarters of the increase in discretionary spending has been directly related to our response to the attacks, enhanced homeland security, and the War on Terror. The President's 2005 Budget continues this spending trend: significant increases in funding our security programs combined with a dramatic reduction in the growth of discretionary spending unrelated to security.

With Treasury receipts only beginning to reflect a recovering economy--and major ongoing expenditures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the War on Terror--we still face a projected $521 billion deficit for the 2004 fiscal year. Although a legitimate matter of concern, that size deficit, at 4.5 percent of the economy (Gross Domestic Product), is not historically out of range. Deficits have been this large or larger in six of the last 25 years, including a peak of 6.0 percent in 1983.

The Administration remains committed to dramatic deficit reduction in the coming years. With continuation of the President.s economic growth policies and sound spending restraint as reflected in the 2005 Budget, our projections show the deficit will be cut by more than half over the next five years. Indeed, our projections show the deficit falling from 4.5 percent of GDP in 2004 to 1.6 percent by 2009--which is also well below the 2.2 percent average deficit during the last 40 years. By cutting the deficit in half, we will slow the growth of the Federal debt.

Thanks for writing.

June 15, 2004 | 9:47 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Lisa from Leesburg, VA:
Someone asked what "G8" stood for, but your answer did not include what "G8" means. What does the G stand for? Why is it only 8 if nine entities were represented this time?

A:Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:
G8 means "Group of Eight," meaning 8 nations...there were more nations present this time because the new Iraqi President attended, as did leaders from African nations and several Middle East leaders...

June 14, 2004 | 6:17 p.m.(EDT)

Q: David Miller from Philadelphia:
Today President Bush hosted former President Clinton and his wife Hillary for the unveiling of their official portraits. What part of the White House will these portraits be displayed?

A:Gary Walters, White House Chief Usher:
President Clinton's portrait will hang in the Entrance Hall where President Bush's portrait is now, but they will exchange places so that President Bush hangs on the side of the Grand Staircase. President Kennedy's portrait will be moved to the west end of the Cross hall to replace F.D. Roosevelt.

Roosevelt will replace the portrait of Woodrow Wilson on the east wall of the Grand Staircase, and Wilson will be sent out for conservation. Another portrait of Wilson by Seymour Thomas already hangs in the East Wing, so Wilson will not go unrepresented.

The portrait of Senator Clinton will replace the portrait of Mrs. Barbara Bush that currently hangs on the east end of the Grand Floor Corridor. All of the portraits on that south wall of the Corridor will move down one space. (Mrs. Bush will replace Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Carter will move down to replace Mrs. Ford, and Mrs. Ford will replace Mrs. Wilson, who will be removed. Mrs. Wilson's portrait may be hung in the East Wing when the Reception Room is refurbished.

June 14, 2004 | 1:44 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Erickson from Washington, D.C.:
Dear Mr. or Ms. "Personal Aide to President":

Does your job require you to accompany with the President all time 24/7?

Do you have a deputy aide to President whenever you want to have a day off or vacation time?

What do you do?

Thank you!

A: Blake Gottesman, Personal Aide to the President:
I am not with the President "24/7", but I am fortunate to accompany him on all domestic and international travel (the only exception is when he goes to Camp David, in which case - I only go if he has public events there). When the President is in the office, I sit with his Personal Secretary in an office between the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room.

I don't have a "deputy aide" - but there are persons who can fill in for me, if i get sick, have a family emergency, or am otherwise unable to travel with him.

My goal is to help take care of as much of the little stuff as possible, so that the President can worry about the big stuff. I can't do a whole lot about the economy, the war on terror, or education. I can try, though, to help make sure that the President's mind is free to worry about those things and not about whether we are running late, where his speech is, about changes to the next event, whether someone on his staff is trying to reach him, when he is going to eat lunch, etc. If you're interested in learning more about my job, Brad Patterson wrote a book titled "The White House Staff: Inside the West Wing and Beyond" which, if my memory serves me right (it's been a while since I read it) has a pretty good description of the role of the Personal Aide to the President.

June 11, 2004 | 5:33 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Paula from Annapolis, MD:
Where can I find a program of the memorial service for President Reagan that would list the music played during the service?

A:Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:

Thanks for your email. I found the program by going to the National Cathedral web site. Click here to review the program.

June 11, 2004 | 4:39 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Erin from Cincinnati, Ohio:
What does "G8" stand for? What is the mission of the G8?

A:Jim Wilkinson, Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications:
President Bush this week hosted the 30th G8 Summit at Sea Island, Georgia. The United States assumed the Presidency of the G8 from France at the beginning of 2004. President Bush, Chairman of the 2004 G8 Summit, is looking forward to the opportunity to meet with the G8 Leaders in the informal and relaxed setting of Sea Island, Georgia.

The G8 Summit brings together the Leaders of the world's major industrial democracies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The European Union also attends the G8 Summit, represented by the President of the European Commission and the Leader of the country holding the Presidency of the European Council. At previous Summits, Leaders have discussed a wide range of international economic, political, and security issues.

The G8 began with a 1975 Summit in France of six countries ( France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States). Canada joined the group at the San Juan Summit of 1976, and the European Community began participation at the London Summit of 1977. Starting with the 1994 Naples Summit, Russia attended the political sessions and at the 1998 Birmingham Summit, Russia began participating in all sessions.

The Presidency of the G8, and responsibility of hosting the G8 Summit, rotates each year. Italy hosted the G8 Summit in Genoa in 2001, Canada hosted in Kananaskis in 2002, and France hosted in Evian in 2003. The United Kingdom will host the G8 Summit in 2005 and Russia will host in 2006.

Sea Island is located on the southern portion of the Georgia coastline, 80 miles from Savannah, Georgia. Previously, the United States hosted G8 Summits in Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico (1976), Williamsburg, Virginia (1983), Houston, Texas (1990) and Denver, Colorado (1997).

June 11, 2004 | 1:06 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Nancy from North Conway, NH:
We need to know when to return the flags at our resort to full staff. I have read several news reports which state once President Reagan is interred (after 10:30 ET or so Friday night), I have also read that tradition states the flags should be lowered for 30 days for a President. Can you tell me what the government plans and what private citizens and businesses should do?

A:Tim Saunders, White House Executive Clerk:
Thanks for your question. The flag code (title 4, United States Code, section 7) states that flags shall be flown at half-mast for 30 days from the day of death of a former President. Individuals and private concerns are certainly invited to join in this observance.

June 11, 2004 | 11:00 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Mary:
Why have you stopped putting Scott McClellans press briefings on the White House website? The last one posted is May 28. Why no more? Thanks.

Please keep posting them

A:Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
Hi Mary,

Thanks for your email. We really do appreciate the feedback from the public.

We do post Scott's press briefings on the White House web site and when Scott briefs from the Press Briefing Room, we webcast these briefings live.

Scott hasn't had a briefing (or gaggle) since June 3, 2004 due to the G8 Summit in Georgia. There were many briefings at the conference, however, and can be accessed on the G8 Summit page: /g8/

Press Briefings do not happen every day, but when they do occur, we put them up.

Thanks again.

June 11, 2004 | 9:25 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Soren from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:
Will President Reagan's funeral be viewable via the internet?

A:Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
Yes, the service will be webcast this morning here on the White House web site at 11:15 (eastern time).

June 10, 2004 | 12:17 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Kathy from Chesterfield, Michigan:
Are churches being asked to ring their bells across the country for President Reagan's funeral? If so, when, and how should they be rung?

A:Tim Saunders, White House Executive Clerk:
Yes, President Reagan's family has asked that churches participate in the ringing of bells at the end of tomorrow's funeral service for President Reagan. As Ronald Reagan was the Nation's 40th President, the family has asked that bells be rung 40 times. The funeral is scheduled to end around 1:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). I would suggest watching the TV broadcast to best coordinate.

June 10, 2004 | 11:54 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Margaret from San Jose, California:
What is the definition of a state funeral, and how is it decided to bestow that honor?

A:Peter Sobich, Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Cabinet Secretary:
By law, former presidents are afforded a state funeral upon their death. While tradition and protocol greatly influence the funeral planning, the exact sequence of events is largely determined by the family. However, most state funerals, including those for Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson have included the following events: repose in home state before traveling to Washington, D.C.; formal funeral procession in horse-drawn caisson along Constitution Avenue to U.S. Capitol; repose in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol; memorial service in Washington, D.C., and then travel to final resting place for internment. In the case of President Reagan, this will be at his Presidential Library located in Simi Valley, California.

June 9, 2004 | 9:47 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Toni from Beaver Creek, Colorado:
With President Reagan's death, what is the rule for American flags?
Does the President have to state all flags must be lowered? If so, how long must they be lowered for?
In addition, if the President doesn't order all of the flags to be lowered, can individuals decide on whether or not they would like to lower their flag?

A:Tim Saunders, White House Executive Clerk:
Upon the death of a former President, the "flag code"
(4 United States Code, section 7) states that flags shall fly at half-staff for 30 days -- the flag code is designed to provide guidelines for the display of the flag.

Traditionally, the President then issues a proclamation "officially" informing the people of the United States, directs all Federal flags to be flown at half-staff over Federal facilities, and designates a "National Day of Mourning," as a mark of respect and remembrance for the former President. President Bush has designated this Friday, June 11, 2004, the day of President Reagan's funeral, as the National Day of Mourning for President Reagan.

As far as flags generally, the President directs the manner of their display over Federal facilities only -- he does not direct their display over non-Federal facilities. Individuals, other levels of government, and private concerns are simply encouraged to follow these observances.

You can find the President's proclamation here on the White House Web site.

Hope this helps,

White House Executive Clerk

June 9, 2004 | 9:25 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Melody from Mt. Clemens, Michigan:
Which government offices are being asked to close for Friday's National Day of Mourning for President Reagan? Is it just Federal Offices or are state, county and local government offices required to close?

A:Kay Coles James, Director, U.S. Office of Personnel Management:
The Executive Order of President George W. Bush, which closed all executive departments, independent establishments, and other governmental agencies on June 11, 2004, as a mark of respect for President Ronald Reagan, refers only to the Federal Government.

During the National Day of Mourning, the pay and leave policies for Federal employees will be consistent with those in effect on a Federal holiday. The decision as to who must work on a holiday is left to each agency head and may be delegated down to lower levels - just like the decision to designate emergency employees for closings such as those that are weather-related.

June 8, 2004 | 12:03 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Scott from DuBois, Pennsylvania:
What new developments has the President and the White House undertaken to make going to college more affordable?

A:Margaret Spellings, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy:
President Bush's higher education proposals will ensure college students are better prepared, provided greater access to college, and are more successful in completing a post-secondary education.

The President's 2005 budget proposes to increase funding for the Pell Grant program, which provides grants to low-income undergraduate students, by $4.1 billion, or 47%, since 2001. In addition, the number of Pell Grant recipients has risen by approximately one million since 2001, and the maximum Pell Grant has risen from $3,750 in 2001 to $4,050. President Bush also proposes larger Pell Grants, up to an additional $1,000 per year for the first two years, for students who prepare for college with demanding courses in high school - the State Scholars curriculum.

The President proposes establishing a new public-private partnership to provide $100 million in grants to low-income students who study math or science beginning in 2006. Under this plan, approximately 20,000 low-income undergraduate students would receive up to $5,000 each to study math or science.

Since entering office, President Bush has also proposed to increase loan forgiveness from $5,000 to $17,500 for highly qualified math, science, and special education teachers who serve low-income communities.

The President's Fiscal Year 2005 budget would expand overall student financial aid available to $73.1 billion, an increase of $25.9 billion or 55% over the 2001 level. The number of recipients of grant, loan, and work-study assistance would grow by 426,000 to 10 million students and parents.

In addition, President Bush.s FY 2005 budget includes a package of student loan program proposals to make college more affordable for students and their families and to strengthen the financial stability of the student loan programs, such as reduced interest rates for student loans, increased student loan limits, and expanded repayment options.

Coupled with an increase in the overall number of AmeriCorps members, more American youth than ever before will have the opportunity to pay for their education through public service.

June 5, 2004 | 1:54 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Paul from Baltimore, Maryland:
How can I get a copy of the text of President Bush's commencement speech at the air Force Academy, June 2, 2004?

A:Jimmy Orr, White House Internet Director:
The President's speech at the Air Force Academy can be accessed by clicking here. The video is online as well.


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