For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 2, 2004
Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En route Colorado Springs, Colorado
9:33 A.M. MDT
MR. McCLELLAN: Good morning, everybody. The President had his usual briefings this morning. He will meet a Freedom Corps greeter upon arrival in Colorado Springs. Her name is Gloria Moran and she's been involved with Falcon Club, which is a partnership between the Air Force Academy and Big Brothers/Big Sisters Pike's Peak, for the past three years. And she mentors a student from the local community and also serves on the Falcon Club's cadet staff helping to organize events for the cadets and their Little Brothers and Sisters.
Then following that, the President looks forward to delivering the commencement address at the Air Force Academy. And I think you already have a little bit from the President yesterday, some from Condi this morning and elsewhere. Then we return to Washington, D.C.
With that, I'll --
Q Is the President concerned about the idea that Chalabi might have given the Iranians information that the U.S. had broken the codes?
MR. McCLELLAN: I appreciate the question, and as Condi said earlier, we're not in a position to comment on it. I'm not going to get into commenting on anything that would be related to intelligence matters.
Q Is the President keeping abreast of it? Is he -- you know, was he briefed on it months ago or --
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I think you're asking me questions that could be related to intelligence matters, and those would be questions I wouldn't be able to discuss.
Q If it's true, how would it damage the U.S.-Iranian relationship, at this point?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think I've answered your question. I know you can try every which way you want, but I'm just not in a position to comment on it.
Q Is the White House concerned about the safety in Saudi Arabia and how it's affecting oil prices there?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, I think you've seen strong steps taken by the Saudi Arabian government to crack down on terrorists. They took strong action to address the situation over the weekend and they are continuing -- you know, Saudi Arabia is someone we're working very closely with in the global war on terrorism, which the President will talk more about today in his remarks at the Air Force Academy. And I think earlier today they had an announcement talking about some of the steps they're taking to crack down on terrorist financing, too, and we welcome those steps.
Q Who had that earlier today?
MR. McCLELLAN: Saudi Arabia.
Q Scott, let me try one more time on Deb's count. Can you just tell me if the President had any reaction to the report -- forgetting the merits of the report, the validity of the report -- was there any reaction from them to the news that this could possibly be the case?
MR. MCCLELLAN: Look, that's just asking us to comment on reports that could be related to intelligence matters, and I'm just not in a position to do that. So I'm not going to comment on it.
Q You will acknowledge that differs from when Chalabi's home was raided, there were many comments given by the White House with regards to that situation. And, yet, now, you choose not to comment?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that was relating to some arrest warrants by the -- that were issued by the Iraqis and the Coalition Provisional Authority addressed that matter, and talked about how that was an Iraqi-led matter.
Q And what's the distinction here?
MR. McCLELLAN: What?
Q I mean, why is this something you can't talk about when the other was? I mean, what's the difference?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you're asking me to get into discussing something that could be related to intelligence matters, and we can't comment on intelligence matters. So I'm not in position to get into whether or not the reports are true or not.
Q How would you describe our relationship with Iran right now?
MR. McCLELLAN: Our relationship with Iran? Well, of course, our focus is on getting Iran to end its nuclear program, and there are steps that we are continuing to -- working with the international community that we are continuing to urge Iran to take to end its nuclear programs. There's no reason they need to have a nuclear program with all their vast oil and gas resources. And so I think that's where our focus is.
Q But could this have --
MR. McCLELLAN: But in terms of our relations with the -- with Iran, I think that you've heard the President talk repeatedly about how we stand with the Iranian people who aspire to greater freedoms.
Q Will the White House continue -- go ahead.
Q Does the White House think that that effort could be impacted at all by the recent news?
MR. McCLELLAN: What effort?
Q That our --
MR. McCLELLAN: Deb, that's just another attempt to try to get me to comment on reports that relate to intelligence matters.
Q Has this had any affect on our efforts to work with the reformers over there?
MR. McCLELLAN: Look, first of all, in terms of Chalabi, we've had relations with a number of groups previously that were intent on seeing Saddam Hussein's regime removed from power. And the relationships with Chalabi go back to the '90s, and pre-date this administration. But in terms of his future, that's something that will be determined by the Iraqi people, so -- in terms of his future in Iraq.
In terms of Iran, I think the President has made our views very clear in terms of our policy towards Iran.
Q Will the White House continue filling up the SPR despite the high price, oil prices?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think your question probably relates to the issue of high gas prices, and what we will continue to do is urge Congress to act to pass a comprehensive national energy strategy, the one that the President outlined more than three years ago, and that will reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy.
The reason we're in this situation is because we're dependant upon foreign sources of energy, and the demand because of the global economy is very high right now. And we need to become less reliant upon foreign sources of energy. And one of the most important things that Congress can do in the short-term is pass a comprehensive national energy plan because that will send the right message to our markets that we are serious about addressing this matter.
Q Scott, do you have any -- the new resolution that's being circulated at the U.N. seems to call, for the first time, for a timetable, at least for the exit of U.S. troops. Can you tell us the President's position on setting a timetable for the departure of U.S. troops?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think I would necessarily look at it in those terms. One, the resolution is tied to the electoral process in Iraq. And I don't think it's uncommon at all for resolutions of this nature, that relate to international forces being involved, would have such language. First of all, the resolution -- we are continuing to make -- I think what you're seeing is that we're continuing to make important progress on getting the resolution passed. This is one of the next steps in the President's plan for building a free and peaceful Iraq that he outlined at the Army War College, just over a week ago.
So we've been involved in extensive consultations. We've said that we want to work with other countries and take into account some of the issues that they raise. And so we're moving forward with some new language that would make it even more clear that the occupation ends come June 30th, and that the new interim Iraqi government will have full sovereignty.
It also makes clear, on the security front, that the Iraqis will continue to play an even greater role going forward for their own security, and that they will be the ones who will eventually assume full responsibility for the security and stability of Iraq.
And it also states in there that at the completion of the political process, that the mandate for the multinational force will end. I think at that point, obviously, you want to assess situation -- assess the situation, and talk to the new elected, permanent government that will be in place in Iraq, and discuss the steps you take going from there -- going forward.
Q Scott, I know the President previewed this yesterday, but what's the main theme he's trying to convey today?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that his remarks today will talk about the -- how we are engaged in a global war on terrorism, and this is a broad war on terrorism. And I think he will specifically touch on the two completely different visions that are involved in this conflict; that this is a great clash that we're involved in.
I think he will talk about how, much like Europe determined the course for the Cold War, the Middle East will -- events in the Middle East will help set the course for the struggle we are involved in now. He will talk about that in his remarks. I think he will talk about the nature of the enemy that we face, and the types of people who are the enemies of freedom, like Zarqawi, who has been in Iraq for quite some time, and is opposed to freedom and democracy taking root in the Middle East. And he will talk about how this is a great struggle that we are involved in, and that we -- and that prevailing in this struggle will make the world a safer place -- a safer and better place, and America more secure.
Q What will his goal be in his meetings with Berlusconi and Chirac? Does he have any different goals, considering that --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that -- well, one, we're going to be leaving, I guess, tomorrow, on the trip, and so we can talk a little, preview those meetings, maybe on the way to --
Q We're not coming.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- Europe, and talk a little bit more about them. But the President has talked a little bit about it in the last few days, as has Dr. Rice. I think we'll do a little more previewing tomorrow on the way out.
Thanks. Did you have a follow-up? Q Can I just ask you about the Accenture contract? No, I can't?
MR. McCLELLAN: What about it? I don't know --
Q Well, DHS, I guess, has awarded a big contract to Accenture, and some people have criticized that, because Accenture has moved its -- a lot of its holdings offshore. Does the White House have any objection to that contract?
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know the specifics about that decision that was made. I mean, you might want to talk to DHS. I mean, those are contracting decisions that are made by DHS.
END 9:44 A.M. MDT