|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 26, 2005
Press Briefing by Scott McClellan
James S. Brady Briefing Room
1:16 P.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon, everybody. Let me begin with a statement by the President.
"On behalf of all Americans, I wish the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery a safe and successful mission. Today's launch marks NASA's return to flight, following the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia crew in February 2003. I thank the men and women of NASA who have dedicated themselves to putting our space program back on track. Our space program is a source of great national pride, and this flight is an essential step toward our goal of continuing to lead the world in space science, human space flight, and space exploration."
The President, earlier today, did catch the launch. He was watching it from his private dining room next to the Oval Office. The President took a moment to applaud after the launch and reflect on what an exciting day this is for all of us, to see the space shuttle return to flight.
And with that, I'll be glad to go to your questions.
Q Scott, in the post-launch press conference, NASA officials said that they welcomed the Discovery's return to space and sort of renewing the vigor of the space program, the ultimate goal of which would be to land a crew on Mars. Would you like to comment on that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure. That's -- the President outlined a vision, a long-term vision, for our space program, and NASA is working on moving forward on that vision that he outlined. The President --
Q So the President supports a Mars mission?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, this is a long-term mission that the President outlined, John, so I think you have to look at the overall perspective in what the President said. But he wanted to make sure that there's a clearly defined mission for our space program, and there is. And he believes it's important to continue to advance space exploration and for the United States to continue to lead the way. And that's what we are doing, and today's launch is an important first step to put us back on track.
Q And how is the Mars program going?
MR. McCLELLAN: NASA can probably update you on the effort. Again, this is a long-term program, and you can sit there and smirk about it, but the President felt it was important -- (laughter) -- the President felt it was important to outline a clearly defined mission for NASA. And we're all excited about today's launch and we wish the --
Q Will he be speaking about it --
MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on -- we wish the crew all the best.
Q Will he be speaking about it --
MR. McCLELLAN: NASA is working on implementing it, John. Thanks for starting out the briefing on such -- (laughter.)
Q Thought maybe you missed me.
Q On Judge Roberts, you're claiming attorney-client privilege. Do you have any plans to claim any executive privilege with those documents?
MR. McCLELLAN: A couple things. Let me, first, give everybody the overall picture of what we are doing. We committed to working closely with the Senate to make sure that they have all the appropriate information that they need to do their job. The decision that we have made to provide them with all of that appropriate information I think goes above and beyond what the Senate needs to do their job. It's more than what they need.
We are going to -- and let me tell you why -- we are now working with the Reagan Library to expedite the process for the release of all documents related to Judge Roberts' time as a staff member in the White House Counsel's Office. That is a process that typically takes months to go through. About 10 percent of those documents have already been made available publicly. We're working to make sure that the rest of that information is made available publicly, with the exception of issues where there might be national security concerns or privacy concerns. So I think this is a step that goes above and beyond what any reasonable person would expect.
There will be -- I have a more precise estimate from earlier today now from the Archives. We're talking about some 62,000 to 65,000 pages of documents that will be made available, when you also include the documents from the Justice Department archives. Now, in terms -- your question was?
Q Do you plan to make any claims for executive privilege for any of those documents? We know you're -- you have some attorney client privilege concerns.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, this was something we consulted with Chairman Specter about and Chairman Specter expressed his appreciation for what we are doing. We wanted to make sure that all appropriate information was getting to the Senate, so that they could move about in a timely and fair fashion on Judge Roberts' nomination. I think you need to look back at what you're referring to. There are seven former solicitor generals who have publicly expressed concerns when it comes to information related to attorney-client privilege. They rely on open, candid and thorough assessments or advice from their attorneys during the decision-making process, and you cannot have that if attorneys in the Office of the Solicitor General fear that that information might be disclosed.
This is part of the confidential deliberative process. And I would also point out that Judge Roberts has been through a previous confirmation hearing, and the Senate had all the information they needed about his views on the role of the judiciary, and he was someone who was approved with unanimous consent -- that means not a single senator raised an objection to moving forward on his nomination.
Q But none of this falls under executive privilege, is what you're saying?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I'm talking about that this is attorney-client privilege, and it relates to the deliberative process. And seven former solicitor generals have -- and they come from Republican and Democrat administrations, including people like Seth Waxman of the Clinton administration -- and they publicly talked about why it's important to protect this attorney-client information and the reasons for so doing.
Q What's the case law that establishes attorney-client privilege for the work of the Solicitor General's Office?
MR. McCLELLAN: There is ample case law that is available that --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- talks about the importance of government attorneys having attorney-client privilege. And I'll be glad to provide you that information. There is ample case law available.
Q Seth Waxman, himself, argued that the attorney-client privilege applies to the White House Counsel's Office, under the Clinton administration, and the courts found that that was not the case. So why is there -- the White House Counsel isn't compromising its sort of integrity of the process --
MR. McCLELLAN: The Solicitor General's Office comes under the Federal Records Act. The White House Counsel's Office comes under the Presidential Records Act. And under the Presidential Records Act, there is a presumption of disclosure. All of us who come here and work at the White House know that what we are doing is going to be disclosed publicly.
Q So that doesn't compromise the integrity of the discussions within the White House Counsel's Office, but it does the Solicitor General's Office?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm saying there are two different acts that govern these issues, and that's why I was pointing back to what the solicitor general said when it came to the decision-making process in their office.
Q Does the solicitor general work for the people or the President?
MR. McCLELLAN: The solicitor general represents the U.S. government in issues. And so they are the attorney for the U.S. government.
Q How many documents fall under this category, and what are they?
MR. McCLELLAN: Fall under what category?
Q The attorney-client privilege. How many are you holding back, and what do they consist of, exactly?
MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, we're providing all appropriate information to the Senate. And I wanted to make that clear. That's why we went ahead and made this decision so that we could expedite that process at the Reagan Library to make that information available --
Q Right, but how many are you holding back?
MR. McCLELLAN: Wait, hang on -- available before they return so that they can get about moving forward on the confirmation process in a timely manner. We think that's important. And much of this information may not have been made available if it had gone through the normal review process.
Q How many are you holding back and what does it consist of?
MR. McCLELLAN: But in terms of the Solicitor General's Office, the White House hasn't seen or reviewed any of those documents. It wouldn't be appropriate for us to do so, for the reasons I just stated.
Helen, you had something, go ahead.
Q Last week you sort of indicated that there was no recess appointment for Bolton in the works. Now there seems to be a change in the atmosphere. Can you clear that up? Is he going to get a recess appointment?
MR. McCLELLAN: Nothing has changed in terms of our views about John Bolton.
Q That you want an up or down vote?
MR. McCLELLAN: We believe he ought to have an up or down vote. Nothing has changed in terms of that view.
Q So he's not going to get one?
MR. McCLELLAN: Nothing has changed at this point.
Q On the Roberts documents again. Can you understand that people would say that the work he did as an assistant solicitor general, because it was his more recent work, would be a better representation of his more mature legal thinking, as compared to when he was a young staffer working for the Reagan administration, and that it would be, perhaps, a better indication of his views or his qualifications by seeing those documents?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, remember, the D.C. Circuit of Appeals is a court that many people refer to as the second highest court in the land. Judge Roberts was nominated to that court back in 2001, as part of the President's initial nominees. And he went through a confirmation process. People on the Judiciary Committee and members of the Senate had ample information that was available to them to understand his views on the role of a judge and the role of the judiciary. And that's why they moved forward and approved him by unanimous consent.
Now, since that time, Judge Roberts has served on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and we have seen that he is someone who is impartial and fair, and a judge that is committed to applying the law, not trying to make law from the bench.
Q Wouldn't his later work be more relevant than thousands of pages of what he did 25 years ago?
MR. McCLELLAN: His work on the court is absolutely something for people to look at, the last two years that he has served on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. And that's why I pointed back to the confirmation hearing process that he had been through previously.
Q Senator Leahy responded to this. He said if it's --
MR. McCLELLAN: I keep saying, Judge Roberts, and I keep looking at John Roberts. (Laughter.)
Q He said, if this is meant to be a dialogue, he welcomes it. But he said, "if it is intended to unilaterally preempt a discussion about documents the Senate may need and is entitled to, then this is a regrettable beginning." And he also said, it is for the Senate and not the White House to decide what documents the Senate will need to fulfill its responsibilities in the confirmation process.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think you've heard from a number of senators who have said that the attorney-client privilege is something that's important to protect, for the reasons that those seven bipartisan former solicitor generals said. And I want to go back to something I said a minute ago. The White House has not seen or reviewed the documents from Judge Roberts' time in the Solicitor General's Office. There was ample information that was available on Judge Roberts during his previous confirmation hearing for members of the Judiciary Committee and members of the Senate to understand his views on the role of a judge and the role of the judiciary. And since that time, as I just pointed out to Kelly, Judge Roberts has shown he is someone who is committed to applying the law in an impartial and fair and open-minded way. He is not someone who is going to legislate from the bench.
Now, I hope Senator Leahy is not trying to demand documents that the President has not even seen as part of their lines of attack against the President. You'll recall that back prior to the President even making a decision on a nominee, that the Democrats had outlined a political strategy based on three lines of attack. The first was that they were going to say that there wasn't enough consultation. Well, I think since that time we've seen that -- the consultations that we've engaged in are unprecedented, according to longtime members of the United States Senate.
The second line of attack was that the nominee is an extremist. Before the President even made a decision, this was all reported in the media and outlined in the media. Well, what we know about Judge Roberts is that he comes from the mainstream of American law and the mainstream of American values. He is someone who believes in interpreting law, not making law.
The third line of attack that the Democrats said that they were going to engage in, even before the President had made a decision, was that the White House hasn't provided a sufficient amount of documents. It's not appropriate for us or for others to have these documents, and it has no bearing on Judge Roberts' suitability to serve on the Court.
Q But if you haven't seen the documents and the President hasn't, either, how do you know if it has any --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he's gone through a confirmation hearing previously, as I just pointed out. And that's why I said we hope Senator Leahy is not demanding to see documents as part of their lines of attack against the President's nominee -- something that they said they were going to engage in even prior to the President making a decision.
Q Just one other follow-up, based on what Senator Leahy said. This is it -- I mean, this is your decision and it's non-negotiable, correct?
MR. McCLELLAN: What we wanted to do was to make sure that we did our part to provide them all the appropriate information, and that's why we moved forward and had consultations with Chairman Specter, who expressed his appreciation for what we are doing. And that's why we're moving forward in expedited fashion to get these documents released from the Reagan Library. So I don't look at it in those terms.
Q On the solicitor general documents, which you are not going to release, that is non-negotiable, the end of story, as far as the White House is concerned?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think we've made our views known.
Q Scott, on CAFTA, senior administration officials have let it be known that they're willing to negotiate side agreements and even entertain requests for special projects in members' districts to get those last few votes that are needed for passage. Why would the President feel it necessary to engage in that kind of deal-making, rather than just selling CAFTA on its merits?
MR. McCLELLAN: There is deal-making that goes on in the United States Congress?
Q So I hear. (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, the President believes -- and I'm not going to accept the premise of your question -- but the President believes it's very important to pass this free trade agreement. This is a free trade agreement that will help level the playing field for American producers and American farmers, and for our products.
It is also a free trade agreement that will help us from a geopolitical standpoint because it will show our support for young emerging democracies in Central America. They need our support, and the President is a strong believer in free and fair trade. Right now you have 80 percent of the goods coming in from Central America that are duty-free. We want to make sure that that playing field is level for our products and goods to be able to go to Central America. And that's why this is so important.
In terms of discussions that go on amongst members of Congress, I think those are best directed to those members of Congress. And our Trade Representative obviously can talk to you about any issues that relate to this specific piece of legislation, as well.
Q You say you don't buy the premise of the question -- does that mean there won't be any special deals made?
MR. McCLELLAN: I can't speak for members of Congress and all the discussions that go on there. I think you recognize the congressional process.
Q Back to Roberts and the documents. Does the White House maintain that what it's doing now related to the DOJ and the Counsel documents is, in effect, expediting the process? It's not that these documents wouldn't be available to members of Congress in the absence of the White House's assistance?
MR. McCLELLAN: We are expediting the process when you're talking about the Reagan Library documents, absolutely.
Q Democrats are arguing that, in effect, however, those documents were in the process of being made public anyway, and that the documents at the Archives were available, thank you very much, and their argument is that they haven't gotten anything that they couldn't have gotten under themselves, and what they're seeking in the solicitor general's documents, they're being denied.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, on the Reagan Library documents, there is a process that they are going through to make those documents available publicly, but it is a process that tends to make months. At a minimum, it takes weeks and weeks and weeks. I think everybody recognizes the importance of moving forward in a timely manner on this confirmation hearing.
And this is documents that we're talking about from 20 years ago . I mean, these documents essentially show a young White House staffer providing his legal analysis to support the President's agenda at the time. That's what these documents are. But we wanted to make sure that they had all the appropriate information they needed. And that's what this is about.
Q And what about the Justice documents at the --
MR. McCLELLAN: The fact that we're moving forward and expediting that process so that they could have it in the next few weeks, versus months, will help them have what they need to
do their job.
And? I'm sorry.
Q And the Justice documents at Archives.
MR. McCLELLAN: Right, those are all -- those are all available publicly for people to review and we're going to make sure that the Senate Judiciary Committee has copies of that information.
Go ahead, Goyal.
Q One, when Prime Minister of India was last week in town -- he told me that President Bush may visit India, looked like in January of next year. And Congressman Bobby Jindal also told me on the Hill that he's interested not once every five years, but on a continued basis to foster the India-U.S. relations. My question is that if President visits India in January of next year, he will become the first Republican President to visit India in over 40 years. And Prime Minister Singh was -- his visit was five years ago, the Prime Minister of India visited the White House. So where do go from here as far as -- why are you taking so long to visit the world's largest democracy?
MR. McCLELLAN: I know the President looks forward to visiting India next year. He certainly had a very good visit with Prime Minister Singh. But the official visits that you're talking about are not the only times that these two leaders meet or visit. There are -- oftentimes they'll meet on the sidelines of other meetings, whether it's during our time in Russia or on the G8 summit. The President meets with world leaders on a frequent basis and has opportunities to visit individually with world leaders at these various summits or forums that are going on. So he looks forward to being there next year, as well.
Go ahead, April.
Q Scott, on another topic, former President Bill Clinton spoke to the "Today Show" recently and he basically called the CIA leak issue terrible. And he said, "Rove is a brilliant political strategist and he's proved brilliantly effective at destroying Democrats, personally." He says, "I mean they've gotten away with murder and he's really good at it. He's good at playing psychological head games that damage our side." What are your comments to that?
MR. McCLELLAN: What I've said previously, and I don't have anything else to add to what I've said previously.
Q Former President Clinton, a friend of the first President Bush and a friend of this President Bush, has said "they've gotten away with murder."
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, thank you. And you know our response on questions related to the investigation.
Q This is not a question. I'm asking you what are your thoughts as it relates to this quote from a former President of the United States.
MR. McCLELLAN: That's a question.
Go ahead, Connie.
Q Thank you. The President has often said that Islam is a religion of peace. Does the President plan any new initiatives to encourage American Muslims and those around the world to denounce terrorism and to actively rout out any terrorists who may be in their ranks?
MR. McCLELLAN: There are a number of Muslim leaders who have spoken up and spoken out against the barbaric attacks that took place in London and Sharm el-Sheikh. I think Prime Minister Blair has referenced a letter from some 500 Muslim leaders, I believe -- I'd have to double-check that number. But we appreciate Muslim leaders stepping up and speaking out against these murders of innocent civilians. All of us need to work together to defeat the ideology of hatred that the terrorists seek to spread. That's the way that we will prevail in the war on terrorism, by working together to spread freedom and hope.
The President believes strongly that all people want to live in freedom. He had a good meeting earlier today with some local leaders from Iraq, from a province in Iraq. They were here as part of a delegation that's learning about state and local governments. And the President talked to them about his strong belief in freedom, and how free societies are peaceful societies, and how free societies are committed to the betterment of the people in those societies.
Q Has the President detected any positive changes in American Muslim schools or charities?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you point out that the President has talked about how Islam is a religion that teaches peace. It is a great religion, as the President has said before, and it's important to remind people of that. There are terrorists who seek to hijack that religion and use it to spread an ideology that isn't based on any religion; it's based on their own hate and views that -- of wanting to dominate the Middle East, and to dominate people that hold to a great faith like Islam. And all of us must work to reject that ideology and work together to defeat it. We will prevail by going after those who seek to spread violence and fear and chaos and kill innocent civilians, by bringing them to justice before they can carry out their attacks, and by spreading freedom and democracy.
You bring up a very good point. This is an ideological struggle that we're engaged in and it's much broader than just a military effort. It involves many different fronts that we have to wage this on. And it's important for all communities to work together to spread an ideology of hope and opportunity that is founded in freedom.
Q Scott, where do we stand on what the State Department said would be a government-wide search for information about the President of Iran's past, specifically whether or not he was one of the hostage-takers --
MR. McCLELLAN: I did a quick check on it. We're still looking into it. That's where it stands at this point.
Q Scott, in the wake of the Valerie Plame incident, on which you will not comment, intelligence officials have indicated there's a growing concern among operatives in the field, a fear that they might be the targets of political manipulation. And they have indicated that something must be done on the part of the White House to help allay these fears. And given that these people are in the forefront of the war on terror, isn't it necessary to do something more than simply stonewalling all discussion of the incident in order to restore confidence?
MR. McCLELLAN: And I'll reject your characterization. What we're doing is helping to advance the investigation forward. And the President said he's not going to get into trying to draw conclusions based on reports in the media. Let's let the investigators complete their work. And that's what we've said, so I'll reject your characterization. We have for a long time said that we want to help them get to the bottom of this and the best way to do that is to cooperate fully in that investigation. And that means not commenting on it here from this podium.
Q Well, Senator Lautenberg, yesterday in a press conference, indicated that there is probably more concern in the White House about the men in uniform, our operatives in uniform than those who are not in uniform. Is there any justification for that?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, he said what?
Q He said that there's more concern for the people in uniform who are fighting this war, rather than the operatives --
MR. McCLELLAN: That's all part of the politics. Again, these are all questions you're bringing up related to an ongoing investigation, and the President has expressed our views on where we are right now.
Q Scott, just back to the documents, just to clear up one thing. All the documents that are being released now are those that would have been released anyway or are available to the public -- is that correct?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I wouldn't agree with your characterization. I mean, the process for releasing all those documents at the Reagan Library -- there's about 10 percent of those documents that are currently available publicly. So you're talking about an additional 90 percent of documents. It takes months sometimes to go through and review that information as part of the process for making it available publicly. We are now expediting that process. We're going to bend over backwards, and the Reagan Library is committed to working with us to move that process forward and get those documents out in a much shorter period of time.
Q A follow-up, though. Did you waive any attorney-client privilege in the documents that are being released?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, the documents that are being released?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the documents in the Archives are all available publicly and the documents -- like I said, the documents at the Reagan Library, I mean, they're covered under the Presidential Records Act, and I think only documents that you're talking about that might not be disclosed would be related to issues of national security concerns or privacy concerns.
Q But you can't waive any attorney-client --
MR. McCLELLAN: Which is the usual part of the review process.
Q And you can't waive any attorney-client privilege under the solicitor general's documents -- is that right?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, I expressed the views of the former solicitor generals and why they believe it's important to protect the attorney-client privilege, and members of the Senate have expressed that, as well.
Q But you would have the authority to waive it if you chose to do so?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, what we're doing is moving forward and making available all appropriate information for the Senate to do their job and do it in an expedited fashion.
Q Can I just ask a quick follow-up on that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Quick.
Q Do you consider Iran-Contra a national security issue?
MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't even thought about that, Dana, to tell you the truth.
Q Scott, one question and a follow-up. Recent reports suggest Osama bin Laden has continued to finance his terrorism, including attempts, perhaps successful, to secure nuclear weapons by taking control of the Afghan poppy crop. Since we invaded Afghanistan to get bin Laden and decapitate al Qaeda, what steps are we taking to stop him from benefiting from the harvest and sale of drugs originating in occupied Afghanistan?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that is a concern of ours, and it's been a concern of ours. I know it's a concern of President Karzai, as well. And President Karzai was here not too long ago; he and the President talked about it and he talked about the steps they're taking to crack down on the trafficking in illegal drugs, and to track down -- crack down on the drug trafficking networks inside Afghanistan. I don't have the latest update in terms of the progress that's been made. I'll be glad to check on that for you, if you want. That is a concern, and it's something that we continue to urge the government of Afghanistan to move forward on, and that we're working closely with them to address, as well. And the British government has been very involved in that, as well.
Q Scott, when the Reverend Jesse Jackson admitted that he fathered a child out of wedlock, the President, as you remember, telephoned him after this admission. And since Karen Stanford, the mother in this case, has just stated, "I was attacked by friends, strangers in the black press without mercy and labeled by them a political stalker, gold digger and opportunist," will the President now telephone Jesse's victim, as he did, Jesse?
MR. McCLELLAN: I appreciate your question, Les, and I don't have --
Q You appreciate the question?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. Les --
Q Do you think I could appreciate an answer?
MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I don't think it's worthy of an answer.
Q You don't think it's worthy of an answer?
MR. McCLELLAN: Because your characterization is not accurate.
Q It's not? How is it inaccurate?
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead.
Q Scott, first of all, to all those involved with today's launch of the Shuttle Discovery, to the astronauts aboard, and to all of us, isn't this a great country, or not? (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: It absolutely is. I know all of us in this room share in how proud we all are to see the Space Shuttle Discovery return to flight. We all remember well the tragic day of February 1, 2003, when we lost the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia. That was a great tragedy, and I know many of you in this room were here on that day when that occurred, or after that occurred. Today is a day to honor the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia by returning to flight. That's what they would have wanted, and we are very proud of Commander Collins and her crew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Q I have a question. It's related to his question on CAFTA. In its lead editorial today, The Washington Post calls attention to something many Latinos have known for some time, that is, if CAFTA is not passed by the Congress, it would play into the hands of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and his anti-American attempts. Does the President plan to make that clear to the Congress and to the American people?
MR. McCLELLAN: He has, and he will continue to talk about it in the meetings he's having this afternoon with some Republican members of the House that are coming to the White House. The President has had meetings with many members of the House of Representatives to talk about the importance of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, not only from the standpoint of expanding opportunity and trade, and making sure that we have a level playing field, but particularly from the strategic importance.
It's important that we support these young emerging democracies in Central America as they move forward to put in place the institutions for a lasting democracy. It's important that while we're talking about the advance of freedom abroad that we're also working to strengthen democratic institutions in our own neighborhoods. And this agreement is a good way to show our support for those young democracies that are emerging and have a strong commitment to the betterment of their people.
Q Even if the North Korean nuclear issue is resolved at the six-party talks, on the other hand, North Korean human rights issue is not promoted at all. What would happen to the six-party talks?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I don't know that the expectation is as you outlined it for the six-party talks that are going on right now. What we want to see is important progress made toward the goal of a denuclearized peninsula. All parties to the talks have said they share the commitment to a denuclearized peninsula. We have a proposal on the table and I expect that soon they will begin talking about that proposal.
We certainly are waiting to hear from North Korea about their response to how we move forward on the proposal that we outlined. Our Assistant Secretary, Chris Hill, is leading our delegation there. They continue to have some discussions today with the various delegations, and I think they had the preliminary meeting of the six-party group to talk about their ideas about how to move forward, and they will begin some of the plenary sessions, I think, tomorrow for moving forward.
In terms of the human rights situation in North Korea, the President has made our views very clear. Secretary Rice has made our views very clear. We are concerned about the plight of the people in North Korea. And North Korea needs to make a strategic decision to abandon their nuclear ambitions. Then they can start to realize better relations with the international community and start to realize some of the benefits from the international community.
Q Scott, can I follow up on that? Kim Jong-il recently suggested that his father may have sought as an ultimate vision for the peninsula a denuclearization. What does the administration think of Kim Jong-il's comments about what his father's apparent vision might have been?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think we need to let the six-party talks continue to move forward. I think you'll hear more from our delegation that is in Beijing during those talks. I know Chris Hill has continued to talk about the meetings that have taken place, and let's let those meetings take place. I think that's the best thing to do at this point.
Q Scott, following up on Helen's question, it appears that you are at least considering a recess appointment for John Bolton. Is there any concern at all that such a move might poison the waters over at the Senate just in time for the Roberts' confirmation process?
MR. McCLELLAN: So you're asking me a "what-if" question or a hypothetical question? I told you nothing has changed in terms of our view.
John, go ahead.
Q You said a little while ago that there was plenty of information out there during Roberts' 2003 confirmation process to determine his suitability for the bench. Do you agree or disagree with the Democrats' contention that the bar for the suitability of a nominee is higher for the Supreme Court than it is for the Court of Appeals, even the District of Columbia Circuit?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that's why we're moving forward in an expedited way, to make sure that they have all these documents that I just talked about.
Q Right. So you do agree --
MR. McCLELLAN: This is the highest court in the land --
Q So you do agree that the bar is higher?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- it is the highest court in the land, and the President has appointed someone that all of us can be proud of, and someone who has shown his judicial temperament over the course of his time on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Q Right. So if those documents were enough to determine his suitability for the D.C. Circuit, do you believe that they are enough to determine his suitability for what you just --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think we have a responsibility not only to preserve the attorney-client privilege for this administration, but also for future administrations. And I spelled out the thinking of solicitor generals who have already served for Democrat and Republican administrations, and their concerns about this information being disclosed, because it does relate to attorney-client privilege.
I think that if you step back and think about it, future solicitor generals might as well put up a "need not apply" sign if people believe that they may someday go through a Senate confirmation process, and it would stifle the candid, honest, and thorough advice that solicitor generals depend on from their attorneys if that privilege was not protected.
Q Okay, let me also get one other opinion from you here. You said that the documents are being released from the Reagan Library and from the National Archives show a staff attorney providing legal analysis in support of then President Reagan's agenda. Do you believe, even without having seen them, that the memos and other documents from this time as the deputy solicitor general represent his legal analysis in support of government policy, or would they represent potentially his judicial philosophy?
MR. McCLELLAN: Two things: One, he was an attorney representing a client when he was at the Solicitor General's Office. Second, I think that the members of the Senate were well able to see what his views are in terms of judicial philosophy and the role of judges when he went through his previous confirmation hearing.
Q There is a report of an explosion in central Istanbul. Have you had any confirmation of this or any comment?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I've been out here briefing you and that's the first I've heard about it.
Q -- information when you have it? Thank you.
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Nedra.
Q Can you talk to us about how the President's plans have changed for the Boy Scout Jamboree tomorrow in light of the tragedy there yesterday?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I'd say we're all deeply saddened by the tragic accident that took the lives of four of the parents from Alaska. And these parents were there doing their part to help their children have a better understanding of service and leadership and making the right choices in life.
The President is going to be going to the Jamboree tomorrow night in Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia. And the President, I'm sure, will talk about this tragic accident that occurred just yesterday. I also expect in his remarks he will talk about the important -- the importance of the Boy Scouts and the importance of Boy Scouts to helping to positively influence young boys. I expect he'll talk about the importance of service and how the Boy Scouts helps to shape young boys to be good leaders later in life, and talk about the importance of -- how it teaches the importance of making the right choices in life. And I'm sure he will thank the Boy Scouts for all they do to support our troops who are in harm's way. They do a great job doing that.
But this was a tragic accident that took place yesterday. And I think that those parents would want the Boy Scouts to continue forward with their important work. And the President will talk about that important work in his remarks tomorrow night.
Q We're approaching the four-year anniversary of 9/11. And right after 9/11 the President said he wanted Osama bin Laden dead or alive. Do you consider it a failure by either the military or the intelligence that four years later Osama bin Laden is not only on the loose, but is still being tied to terrorist activities extending into Spain, Egypt, Iraq and England?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, I don't think you're trying to draw conclusions about who exactly is responsible for those attacks. Those investigations are continuing, and I don't think they're -- we're in position to draw final conclusions about who exactly is responsible for those attacks, and what people in other parts of the world -- what role they may or may not have had.
In terms of Osama bin Laden, he is someone that is on the run. We have made significant progress in dismantling the al Qaeda network. We continue to pursue him. He will be brought to justice. We have brought to justice a number of his leaders, and that has been an important success in our efforts to better protect the American people and to prevent attacks from happening in the first place. We have learned a lot of valuable information from some of the leaders that we have gone after and captured to help us disrupt attacks or prevent attacks from happening in the first place.
But there has been significant progress. The war on terrorism is broader than any one person. But he is someone we continue to pursue, and he will brought to justice. And you have to look at the overall progress that we've made in the war on terrorism. We've made substantial progress to prevail in the war on terrorism.
But this is a long-term ideological struggle. We are up against a group of people who have no regard for human life. They seek to spread an ideology that is based on hatred and based on fear and chaos and violence. They seek to dominate a part of the world and dominate people of a certain religious background. But they don't represent any religion; they represent a hateful ideology that will be defeated as we work to spread freedom and democracy.
All right, thank you.
END 1:57 P.M. EDT