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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 27, 2004

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
The James S. Brady Briefing Room

Press Briefing


12:27 P.M. EDT

MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon. I have one phone call to read out from earlier this morning. The President called Prime Minister Thaksin of Thailand, earlier today, to express his appreciation for Thailand's support in Iraq and for the Prime Minister's strong leadership. The Prime Minister and the President also discussed the situation in Burma.

And that's all I've got, so I'll be glad to go straight to your questions. Steve.

Q Just quickly, the Italian Vice Premiere was at the stakeout and he said -- who did he meet with, first of all? And he said that he came to say that the Italian government will keep the troops in Iraq, but within a new U.N. resolution. Are they threatening to pull out if there is no new U.N. resolution?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, in fact, the statements I've heard from many countries in the coalition is one of reaffirming their resolve to finish the important work in Iraq, to help the Iraqi people realize a free and peaceful future. This is central to winning the war on terrorism. A free and peaceful Iraq will help bring about greater stability in a very dangerous region in the world.

We can get you more details in terms of the staff meetings; we'll get back to you on that. I don't have those details at this point, but we'll get you more details on that.

Q Hey, Scott.


Q How would you describe exactly what it is that the Iraqis will get on June 30th? Is it sovereignty? Is it limited sovereignty? Is it the exercise of the principles of sovereignty? I'm not quite exactly sure what they're going to get.

MR. McCLELLAN: Sovereignty will be transferred to the Iraqi people on June 30th. That is what was agreed to with Iraqi leaders under the November 15th agreement, and we are moving forward to meet that commitment. The Iraqi people want us to meet that timetable. And we anticipate that, in accordance with the oft-expressed preferences of Iraqi leaders, that the Iraqis, themselves, will impose some limits on the authority of that interim government. But sovereignty will be transferred to the Iraqi people on June 30th.

Q But it doesn't seem to fit the true definition of sovereignty, because they will not have control of the country, they will not have control of security --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let's keep a couple of things --

Q There's some thought, even, of collapsing the --

MR. McCLELLAN: Let's separate out sovereignty and let's separate out authority and let's keep this in context. This is an interim represented body that we are talking about. The precise structure and composition of the interim government are being worked about among Iraqi leaders and Mr. Brahimi, in consultation with the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Now, the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist come June 30th. But the law and rules that define the authorities of that interim government will be contained in an annex to the transitional administrative law that was signed by the Iraqi Governing Council in early March.

Iraqis have made it very clear that they want limits on the authority of the interim government. The annex to the transitional administrative law will define in precise ways the interim government's authorities. And in the view of the Iraqi people, the interim government has two basic functions that it will undertake. Remember, it will only be in place for approximately six months before elections are held. And its two basic functions are to assume the day-to-day responsibility for the administration of Iraq and to prepare the country for the holding of direct, national elections no later than January 31, 2005.

But I think that there are certainly ample precedent for self-imposed limits on authority of interim, caretaker governments such as likely to be the case here, in this first phase of Iraq's transition to democracy.

Q What's the real story with this idea of either collapsing or throwing out certain provisions of the interim constitution that the Ayatollah al Sistani has demanded? Where are you with that?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think you can direct that to the Iraqi leaders and the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

Q Yes, but this is something the President --

MR. McCLELLAN: Obviously, Mr. Brahimi has been in discussions with a number of Iraqi leaders. Like I said, there will be an annex that will define the precise structure and composition of the interim representative government that will be appointed.

Q Ambassador Negroponte indicated that that's something that may be under consideration, no decision has been made. Can you at least confirm that it's under consideration?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I'll leave those -- I'll leave the terms of the latest developments there to officials in the region to discuss. They can probably give you --

Q Even though the President would sign off on this?

MR. McCLELLAN: They can give you a more precise update on where those things stand.

Q Even though this is something the President would sign off on?

MR. McCLELLAN: John, I just said you can direct those questions to the officials in the region.

Q Why is Fallujah and Najaf under siege? Why are they -- and is the President willing to see them go into a Waco or Guernica?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, where are you getting that from, Helen?

Q That if they are under siege, and we decide to go in, and there is that kind of resistance, there will be tremendous bloodshed.

MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, that is a highly speculative characterization that you are making there.

Q Well, we do have them under siege, both towns, don't we?

MR. McCLELLAN: And I would not describe it that way. First of all, we have been working very closely with Iraqi officials in those areas to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation. The coalition has been working to partner with Iraqi security forces to improve the security situation. There are a lot of developments going on, on the ground. Certainly, if coalition forces are fired upon, namely our Marines, in the case of Fallujah, they will defend themselves.

Now there are some thugs and terrorists that continue to exist in areas of Fallujah.

Q -- maybe they're just Iraqis.

MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, all you have to have to do is look at the types of attacks that they carried out on innocent Americans recently to know that these are thugs and terrorists. They have no regard for human life.

Q Are we doing the same thing?

MR. McCLELLAN: We will not let them prevail. However, as I said, we are working to improve the security situation there. We're working with Iraqi leaders. You're seeing a partnering with Iraqi security forces to begin patrols in Fallujah and to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation. They've been working with civilian leaders there. But there is a difference between civilian leaders and thugs and terrorists who seek to derail the transition to democracy for the Iraqi people. And they have no place in Iraq.

Q Maybe they're defending their own country against an occupation.

MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, we have liberated the Iraqi people, and we're moving forward to transfer sovereignty back to the Iraqi people, so that they can realize a free and peaceful future. As I said, this is critical to winning the war on terrorism. There are thugs and terrorists who are trying to carry out innocent attacks on innocent men, women and children. Look at what they've done, look at the attacks they've carried out that have led to the deaths of school children. Look at the attacks that they have carried out that have led to the deaths of their fellow Iraqi citizens.

Q And we haven't we killed any civilians? Have we killed any civilians?

MR. McCLELLAN: The United States military and coalition forces go out of their way to make sure that civilians are not targeted and not killed.

Q Have we killed any?

MR. McCLELLAN: We target those who seek to carry out their evil acts and seek to return to the oppressive regime of the past -- and that's not going to happen.

Q Scott, did the White House request there not be any transcribers -- any recording or stenographers in the meeting, in the 9/11 Commission hearing?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that was a request -- I checked on that -- that we discussed with the commission, and they were fine with it.

Q And what is the advantage that you see in that? This is a very historic meeting.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, this is a private meeting, first of all, Elisabeth. And let's keep in mind that it is extraordinary for a sitting President of the United States to sit down with the legislatively created commission. But these are unique circumstances and the President is pleased to do so. The President appreciates the job of the September 11th Commission. We strongly support their work. And we have been pleased to provide the commission unprecedented cooperation and unprecedented access to information, so they can do their work and help us better fight and win the war on terrorism.

Q Right, if I can just follow up. So if this session is an extraordinary event and such an extraordinary meeting, why do you not want an official record of it?

MR. McCLELLAN: Elisabeth, I don't think that this is unusual at all, if you look back at other meetings that have taken place, private meetings with the commission and other members of the administration.

Q But this is the President, why don't we want an official record for history, of this meeting?

MR. McCLELLAN: There will be detailed notes taken of this meeting. This is about helping the commission complete its work, and helping provide the commission with all the information they need so that they can draw as complete a picture as possible for the American people, and make recommendations based on all that information that they piece together.

Q But wouldn't there be better detailed records if you had it recorded, if you had a stenographer?

MR. McCLELLAN: Elisabeth, we have provided the commission with volumes of information, and unprecedented access to information. We've provided more than 2 million pages of documents to the commission. We've provided access to hundreds of administration officials for briefings and interviews so that they can discuss this information. We've provided unprecedented access to some of the most highly classified information in this government.

And this meeting is about helping the commission piece together all that information that they have been provided, so that they can provide a complete and comprehensive report to the American people. And that's what this is about, and we are working to help make sure that they have all the information they need to do their job.

And you're talking -- in some circumstances, some of the information I expect that will be discussed -- it depends on the questions that are raised by the commission -- but some of that information will likely be highly classified. So we think that they will have all the information they need to go back and piece all this information together and report back to the American people what lessons we've learned from September 11th and what recommendations they have that might help us, in addition to the steps we've already taken, to win the war on terrorism.

Q One more question. Doesn't this leave you open to charges that -- doesn't this leave -- doesn't this put a cloud, put a sort of little fuzziness over the proceedings where somebody could go back and say, well, this is not what I meant to say, the note-taker was wrong. Doesn't this make it a little less definite for future -- for historians?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't look at it that way at all. I look at it as the President is taking an extraordinary step in sitting down with the commission and answering whatever questions they may have, and providing them with information that can help them piece together all the information that they have been previously provided. That's the way I look at it. And the commission will be able to provide the American people with as complete a picture as possible about the events leading up to September 11th and the threat that was building and emerging for quite some period of time, going back more than a decade.

Q Scott, following up to what Elisabeth said, somewhat. Before Dr. Rice testified publicly, President Bush said it was important for the American public to know about the events leading up to 9/11. If that is the case, why not have the President testify publicly, even with a transcript? And why not under oath?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, the President is already under oath as the President of the United States. But let me go back to when the President signed the legislation creating this commission.

Q He's under oath 24 hours a day? (Laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me go back to -- the President will tell it exactly how it happened, and that's why he's going back and looking at materials that were from that time period. Remember, this is some two-and-a-half to three years ago, so he's going back to refresh his memory so that he can provide the commission with an accurate account and as complete an account of events as possible. This is very important work that the commission is undertaking.

Let me just go back to what the President said on November 27, 2002, when he signed the legislation creating the commission. The President said, "We must uncover every detail and learn every lesson of September the 11th. My administration will continue to act on the lessons we have learned so far, to better protect the people of this country."

He went on to talk about how September 11th marked a dividing line in the life of our nation, how it changed the equation. And he talked about "the best way to win the war on terrorism is to go on the offensive." And that's exactly what we are doing. And he also talked about the steps that we were taking to reduce the nation's vulnerabilities here at home.

But he said that, "These essential steps do not complete out work." And he went on to talk about how the "recommendations from the September 11th Commission will be helpful and useful. If there's changes that need to be made," he said, "we need to know them as soon as possible, for the security of our country." And "as a people, Americans are always looking forward. As a nation, we're working every day to build a future that is peaceful and secure. To reach this goal, we must learn all about the past that we can."

And then he went on to say, "The understanding we will gain will serve us for years to come. The work of the 9/11 Commission is important to winning the war on terrorism," and that's the way the President is viewing it. And that's why he's pleased to sit down with them and answer whatever questions they may have.

Q But, Scott, going back to what you said just what the President said, as well as the fact that what he said before he put Dr. Rice in the public in this testimony, it looks like there is something to hide. Many persons are saying there's something to hide by him not going public with it, and also not having a transcript as he feels that the American public should know everything, and the fact that all the information would help thwart an attack from --

MR. McCLELLAN: April, I think you're just looking at this from a characterization and way that I would strongly disagree with. That's not the way you should be looking at this. This is about helping the commission piece together all the information they have already been provided access to, and helping them complete their important work. It's extraordinary for a sitting President of the United States to sit down with a legislatively created commission.

I might point out to you that the previous President and the previous Vice President sat down with the commission in a private meeting to discuss what they knew over the course of their time in office. So we're working with the commission to better learn the lessons of September 11th and see if there are additional steps, beyond the steps we have already taken, that can help us win the war on terrorism. And this President is pleased to sit down with them and help them, because of the unique circumstances involved here.

Q Scott, can I follow on that for just a second.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'll go to Suzanne. I'll come to you.

Q Can you just clarify. You said he was going to be -- the President is always under oath. I mean, he -- as we understand the procedure and the protocol before the 9/11 --

MR. McCLELLAN: When he came into office --

Q That I understand. But in terms of the Q&A session, he will not be under oath.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, that's what I -- but he will tell it exactly how it happened.

Q Okay. Regarding Kerry, there's been much that has been made about whether or not he has thrown away his ribbons, his medals, or pretended to, or whatever. Kerry says it's a smear campaign. He also says that it's a phony controversy. But he goes beyond that, and he says that this comes from a President who can't even show or prove that he showed up for duty in the National Guard. Your response?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think you're asking to get into political attacks by Senator Kerry. This is the latest political attack. And I think that those questions are best directed to the campaign.

Q But his campaign manager says that there is no place, really, to even look at his record or even what happened after his record, because --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Suzanne, no one is --

Q -- Bush and Cheney did not serve in Vietnam. Do you think that's fair?

MR. McCLELLAN: Suzanne, let's be clear. No one is questioning his military service. Senator Kerry's service in the military is commendable. No one is questioning his service in the military. Let's be clear on that.

Q Do you have any response to the president of Westminster College, who apparently was not pleased with Cheney's comments yesterday? He said he was surprised and disappointed. He perceived it as "Kerry-bashing."

MR. McCLELLAN: As I said earlier, first of all, he introduced the Vice President before his remarks, the president of Westminster College did. And the campaign had talked to the president of the college prior to the speech to let them know that the Vice President would be talking about these important issues. I think a spirited discussion about how a President leads in the war on terrorism and how a President acts to protect the American people should be at the forefront of the debate in this election.

The Vice President, in his remarks, discussed the war on terrorism from an historical perspective, and he discussed the different approaches and views between the President and Senator Kerry, and how to win the -- fight and win the war on terrorism. That's what his speech was about. So he was talking about important decisions that the American people face, and the policy differences between the President and Senator Kerry.

Q Is there any regret, though, that the president of the college doesn't see it that way, that he saw it as Kerry-bashing?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think you might want to talk to the campaign a little bit more about it. But the campaign had talked to him beforehand. And I think if you look at the Vice President's remarks, he was simply talking about the clear choices the American people face, and the differences over policy issues, and on issues like the war on terrorism.

Q Two questions for you. The first has to do with the meeting on Thursday. I understand there's no set time limit, right?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President will answer whatever questions they may have. I think you can look back over some of the previous meetings to gauge how much time that may take. Remember that the previous President sat down with the commission -- it was around three hours, or something like that, I think. Of course, that was talking about a much longer period in office, and we're talking about a much shorter period of time in office, prior to the attacks of September 11th and that actual day.

Q My next question has to do with Ambassador Negroponte. You have stated that on June 30th Ambassador Bremer's role comes to an end, and if Negroponte is ratified by the Senate, he will take over. What is the difference in the duties between what Bremer had and what Ambassador Negroponte will do when he takes -- becomes the ambassador --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, sovereignty is transferred when -- on June 30th, and that's when the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist, and Ambassador Negroponte, we hope, will be in place well before then. And he will serve as the chief of mission, essentially, there in Iraq. I think Secretary Powell talked about that yesterday. He will be there to represent the United States and put the embassy in place.

Q But Ambassador Bremer has a lot of activities right now, some even related with the liaison with the military. Will Ambassador Negroponte have the same type of liaison with the military, or will that be a different operation?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, you're talking about the embassy, which will be more of a State Department focus. And then, obviously, the Pentagon will be focusing on the security situation and overseeing the coalition forces there. And the Iraqi people have made it very clear that they want us to continue to help work with the Iraqi security forces to provide for a better security situation in the country.

Q The Supreme Court, as you know, heard arguments today in the Cheney energy task force case. The case shows -- put a bright spotlight on the administration's desire for secrecy in certain areas. There could be some awkward political fallout from this in an election year. Does the President now regret making a fight over this in the way that it's now coming to a head --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Ken, this is an important constitutional principle, first of all, and it is before the Supreme Court now. I think that Solicitor General Olsen will be talking a good bit more about this. But the position of this administration is very clear, and it's been made clear in the government briefs that have been filed in this case. We continue to believe that it is not only important, but vital, for the President and any future President of the United States to be able to seek and receive honest, candid views in the development and formulation of policy.

And so that's why I say it's an important constitutional principle here. And it goes directly to the ability of the President and future Presidents to receive honest, candid advice from members of the administration.

Q So the President has no regrets over the potential political fallout --

MR. McCLELLAN: That this is an important constitutional principle, that's the way the President looks at it -- that it should be of help.

Q Just for the record, does the President continue to have confidence in Vice President Cheney and continue to look forward to him serving with him as his running mate?

MR. McCLELLAN: Of course. Of course. I don't know why you would even ask that question.

Go ahead, Sara.

Q Scott, the U.N. does not seem very anxious to getting further involved in Iraq, nor does NATO. Without these supports, what happens after June 30th?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the United Nations is playing an important role in Iraq right now. Mr. Brahimi has been in Iraq and he's now reporting back to the United Nations Security Council and the Secretary General about the discussions that he's had and about the ideas that he is putting forward for an interim representative government.

And I would also point out the United Nations also has a mission in Iraq working to move forward on the electoral front. The transitional administrative law calls for the elections and the drafting of the constitution and spells out the timetable for doing so.

And so the United Nations, we believe, has a very vital role to play, and they have been playing a vital role more recently, as they were prior to some of the attacks that took place months ago.

Terry, go ahead.

Q Scott, will the President -- back on 9/11 -- will the President have an opening statement to the commission, or will it just be questions?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I don't think so. The President is there to answer their questions and help them piece together all the information that they have already reviewed and been provided access to.

Q So, along those lines, after Condoleezza Rice's testimony and the 2 million pages of documents and everything else, what's left for the President to say?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, this is to answer whatever questions the commission may have. The President wants to do what he can to support the commission and help the commission draw as complete a picture as possible for the American people. That's what this is about.

And so the President looks forward to sitting down with the commission and discussing these issues with the commission and answering whatever questions they may have. I think you can direct those -- if you have questions about what they want to bring up, I think you can direct that to the commission.

Q Well, does he think that there are any missing pieces here, missing -- anything that he needs to fill in?

MR. McCLELLAN: What do you mean, anything he needs to fill in?

Q Well, does he think there's anything missing --

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sure -- I'm sure the commission has a number of questions that they would like to ask the President. This is something that happened on his watch, and the President very much wants to see what the commission reports and recommends and what additional steps we might need to take to win the war on terrorism. This is important work that will help us win the war on terrorism. And so the President looks forward to helping them piece together the information that they already have. I think that's the way you should look at it.

Q Scott, can I clear up one thing?

MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Dick.

Q Scott, on that point, if the President's goal is to help, as you just said, get as complete a picture as possible for the American people, why does he think that a transcript of his remarks wouldn't be of assistance to everybody who has an interest --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think, again, Dick, this is not unusual. I think that if you look at other meetings that have taken place, this is the way they have been -- the way they have been conducted.

Q On another point, it's unusual in these circumstances for the President to appear with somebody else. When President Reagan went before the Iran Contra panel, he went alone. He didn't have the Vice President sitting with him. Vice President Bush -- then Vice President Bush was questioned separately. Why is it important for these two men to testify -- or to appear -- to appear together, particularly with Democrats saying it raises the appearance that they have to get their stories straight, that there might be something to hide?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the argument could be made if they were appearing separately for that same -- that same line of argument could be made even to a greater extent. So I just reject that outright. And you have to keep in mind that this is not an adversarial process. We are all working toward the same objective. This is about helping the commission piece together all the information that they had been provided access to. We are working together to learn the lessons of September 11th. We are working together to see what additional steps might be necessary to help us win the war on terrorism, and better protect the American people here at home.

We believe that having the President and the Vice President meet together with the commission will better help the commission piece together all that information that we have already provided them, and better help the commission provide the American people with as complete a picture as possible, so that they can make recommendations based on what they learn.

Q Scott, what's the purpose of having transcribers in the room for other types of meetings that the President has, whether they're interviews with the press or meetings with other officials? What's the general purpose of having transcribers?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think we typically do, when you're talking about information that could be highly classified or in situations like this. Like I said, this is an extraordinary circumstance. There will be detailed notes taken, and the President looks forward to the meeting.

Q Can you tell us what kind of discussion there might have been within the White House staff about whether or not to have transcribers in this meeting?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that this was very similar to other meetings that have taken -- other private meetings that have taken place. So I think that's the way it was looked at.

Q Two questions. Today is the inauguration in South Africa. Now, we know that the President put out a message and spoke to President Mbeki. Are there any plans for President Bush to actually meet with President Mbeki or invite him here?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if you're asking me about any future meetings or things like that, you know that we'll keep you posted if that's the case. There's nothing to talk about at this time.

Q Do you have any further statement to make on the peacefulness of their election?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think it was well stated in the statement that we put out last week.

Q May I have one more question on Brahimi. Many groups accuse Brahimi of being anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli. Does the White House have a response to that?

MR. McCLELLAN: We are pleased to be working with him and the Iraqi people in Iraq to move forward on the transfer of sovereignty for the Iraqi people. That's what our -- the focus of our efforts are with Mr. Brahimi. We appreciate his involvement in Iraq and appreciate all his efforts there. I think in terms of comments that he's made, the spokesman for the Secretary General has previously spoken to that, or has since spoken to that.

Q When former President Clinton appeared before the 9/11 Commission he was accompanied by Sandy Berger and Bruce Lindsey. Will President Bush have anyone with him, besides Vice President Cheney?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I believe that Al Gonzales, the White House Counsel, will be present. And I would expect that there would be at least one other additional member of the Counsel's Office present. Obviously, we're still two days away from it, so a few things are still being finalized. But I'll keep you posted if there are additional people present.

Q Do you know who is taking notes at this meeting?

MR. McCLELLAN: I expect that there will be someone from the commission staff member, as well as a staff member of the White House.

Q I have a question about cotton and transportation. First, there are reports today that the WTO will rule against the U.S. on cotton subsidies. I wonder if you have any reaction at this point?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, they have issued an interim and confidential report in a case that was brought by Brazil against the United States regarding our cotton program. We believe that United States farm programs were designed to be and are fully consistent with our WTO obligations. And in any case, I would point out that there is no immediate impact on our farm programs. But we will be working closely with members of Congress in the agriculture community as we move forward. And we will be defending U.S. agricultural interests in every forum we need to, and have no intention of unilaterally taking steps to disarm when it comes to this.

Q And, also, on the transportation bill, there are reports that the President would accept a $278 billion bill if it could be proved there were no gimmicks. And I'm wondering if that's accurate?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if you look back at what the President outlined, he outlined a responsible plan, a responsible piece of legislation that would meet our needs when it comes to the highway -- to our transportation needs. And he laid out some clear principles that he believes are very important to adhere to.

We have been continuing to work closely with Congress on this issue, to get legislation passed this year that will provide a responsible and ample level of funding to meet these needs over the next six years. We want to see Congress pass this legislation this year, and we want to see it adhere to the principles that the President has outlined. And we'll continue to work with them on those issues.

Q How do you argue that the subsidy program has no impact on trade, when the effect of the subsidies is to increase American production, which forces down world prices and prejudices the economic interests of trading partners, including those in impoverished countries?

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me step back from this, and go back to some of the history here, recent history here. We believe the best way to address any distortions in world cotton markets is through the WTO agriculture negotiations, multilateral commitments to reduce tariffs and subsidies will increase the role of market forces globally and is the only way to address core problems. So that's our view.

The United States was the first to propose a comprehensive proposal to address trade distorting measures by substantially reducing or eliminating tariffs and subsidies across all agricultural products, including cotton. And the United States' comprehensive proposal will open new market access opportunities for all countries, by reducing annual global trade-distorting domestic support by over $100 billion, completely eliminate global export subsidies, and slash global agricultural tariffs from an average of 62 percent to 25 percent.

Q As of July 1st, who will hold the ultimate decision-making authority in Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: Sovereignty will be transferred to the Iraqi people. You have to separate out the political side and the security side --

Q Right, but you said that their authority will be limited.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's at the wishes of the Iraqi people. They will oversee the day-to-day responsibilities, and they will work to transition or oversee efforts during the transition to move toward the elections to be held in January of 2005.

Q Who will be the ultimate authority? If they make a decision that you don't like --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the helicopter is landing and I'm traveling with the President. I would be glad to stay, and I will be here tomorrow if you want to follow up on this. Or this afternoon.

END 12:59 P.M. EDT

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