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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 22, 2004

Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En route King of Prussia, Pennsylvania

10:53 A.M. EDT

MR. McCLELLAN: Good morning, everybody. I know it's a short flight, but let me try to go quickly and get to your questions. The President had his usual briefings this morning. He participated in an interview with Bill O'Reilly, for his show. I believe that's going to be airing next week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday -- there might be some excerpts earlier, you can ask Fox about that. And then we've got the events in Pennsylvania. Oh, and we did a background briefing at the file [sic] on the meeting with President Musharraf.

Q Scott, can you quickly talk about what the President's goals are for tomorrow, with Allawi's public appearances? He's going to appear before Congress and then have this joint press avail. Is he hoping that will strengthen his hand on Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you heard him talk about that yesterday in his press availability with Prime Minister Allawi. Prime Minister Allawi talked about the important progress that is being made in Iraq. It's hard work, what we're trying to help the Iraqi people achieve in Iraq, which is -- they are on the path to a free, democratic and peaceful future. But what we can't do when things get tough is wilt or waver. We must continue to show strength and resolve and determination to complete the important mission in Iraq. And I think -- well, go ahead.

Q Does he hope that Allawi will help him present a different image, put a different face on what's going on in Iraq, here --

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know what you mean by "different face." I mean, it's tough going from a brutal dictatorship to --

Q -- emphasize the problems --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- to democracy. And the Iraqi people are working to build a brighter future, and important progress is being made. Prime Minister Allawi is working to extend security and to put the institutions in place for free elections. And this is a time for us to stand with the Iraqi people, with our troops and with our allies in Iraq, and to send a clear message to the enemy that we will prevail, they will be defeated. It is not a time to wilt or waver. Any time you're transitioning from dictatorship to democracy, you have to have a flexible plan that adjusts to circumstances on the ground. And that's what we are doing.

Q Anything about the second American hostage beheaded? Any reaction?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know of any confirmation, in terms of a body has been recovered. Obviously, our thoughts and prayers are with the Hensley family. Their strength during a difficult time is amazing. The terrorists want to shake our will, but they will not. It shows the true barbaric nature of the enemies we face in Iraq, that they would take innocent civilian life. But they will be defeated, they will not prevail.

The terrorists like Zarqawi have no regard for innocent human life. Jack Hensley was in Iraq to help the Iraqi people. He was there to help them realize a better future. And Zarqawi and the other terrorists will be defeated.

Anything else?

Q Anything on the -- are we actually going to stop, or is it just going to be an aerial tour?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let me get you some of those details on the tour. We will be touring some of the flood damaged areas.

Q Holly might have already asked you this, but do you know if this is an avail or a regular press conference tomorrow?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it's a press availability in the Rose Garden, obviously, you'll be there to cover it.

Q Is it like a news conference?

Q How many questions?

MR. McCLELLAN: We'll talk that through with Prime Minister Allawi -- we haven't done that at this point -- and work all that out. You'll all be there to cover it. I fully expect questions.

Q Thank you.

END 10:56 A.M. EDT

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