For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 2, 2006
Press Briefing by Tony Snow
James S. Brady Briefing Room
12:31 P.M. EDT
MR. SNOW: Hello, and welcome back. A couple of quick notes -- actually, Kelly is not here, but I'll answer Kelly's question yesterday. The memoranda of agreement between the Department of Homeland Security and the four southern border states have been concluded; two have already been signed to those by Governors Richardson and Napalitano; and we expect to have signatures soon -- they're working on the paperwork in California and Texas -- with Governors Schwarzenegger and Perry.
Also, economic numbers today, change in payroll employment, 7,500 increase -- that's lower than the expected 170,000; unemployment rate at 4.6 percent, that is lower than the expected 4.7 percent. Average hourly earnings are up 3.7 percent over the past 12 months, through May. That is an increase from the pace from the month before. Housing price index has risen at an 8.1 annual rate in the first quarter, 12.5 percent over the last two years. There were some declines in housing prices, however, in Iowa and South Dakota. Those are the first state level declines since the fourth quarter of 2002.
I think that's all the new stuff. Terry.
Q Can you clarify how many investigations in Iraq President Bush has been briefed on, and what are they? There was some confusion --
MR. SNOW: I'm aware of two -- two. I am not sure -- I do not know that he has been briefed on the allegations that something happened in March in Ishaqi. We do know that -- I do know, personally, that he has been briefed on the allegations that something happened in Ishaqi. We do know that -- I do know personally that he has been briefed on the other two incidents that have been -- that have made some headlines in recent days.
Q And also can you -- have you been able to get any kind of readout on what the Prime Minister said yesterday about --
MR. SNOW: Yes. As a matter of fact, I just -- I spoke just a couple of minutes with Ambassador Khalilzad, who, today with General Casey, went over and spoke with the Prime Minister. And according to the Ambassador, the Prime Minister says he was misquoted. General Casey has said that he will inform him fully of the results of investigations when they have concluded. He filled him in on the fact that there are two separate tracks, one having to do with the timing of reporting in Haditha, and number two, on the criminal investigations.
And apparently the Prime Minister did try to sort of explain how such a characterization would be made in the press, but that is a little too complicated for me to try to read out. But in any event, they did have a meeting with him.
It's probably also important to note that, on a more general basis, a couple of propositions. Secretary Rumsfeld today said of the allegations, "We don't expect U.S. soldiers to act that way, and they're trained not to." But as I have done from this podium, and as all of us in the administration will continue to do, you're not going to be able to get specific reaction to specific charges for the simple reason that it could, in fact, get in the way of any necessary prosecution, should it become necessary, and we're not going to get ourselves embroiled in the legal process.
A couple of other points. The President has, on a number of occasions recently, expressed his admiration for Prime Minister Maliki, who seems to be a take-charge guy. We were heartened by the fact that it appears that he will be completing his cabinet and filling it out within the next few days also. But he went to Basra, which was a pretty courageous thing to do, a couple of days ago, saying, we're going to go in and we're going to take care of the security here. The Prime Minister is clearly somebody who is eager to take on the responsibilities of providing for the safety and security of the Iraqi people, and we look forward to working with him.
Q He was misquoted. Do you have a sense of what he said or meant to say?
MR. SNOW: No, I -- it was one of these things where he said at one point he was asking an unrelated question about a traffic stop, and it really does get pretty convoluted. I don't want to get myself too much into it. But he said -- what Ambassador Khalilzad did say is that he said he was misquoted and they're going to look into it. That is what Prime Minister said.
Q Can I just follow on that, Tony, because it sounds a little too neatly wrapped up.
MR. SNOW: Well, then you're going to have to take that up with the Prime Minister.
Q Well, but I assume we were taking that up with the Prime Minister. So why don't we talk about it from the U.S. government perspective.
MR. SNOW: All right.
Q Which is how does the President react to the fact that someone we had heaped praise on has fired a pretty serious shot across the bow at U.S. forces who are securing Iraq?
MR. SNOW: Well, I've just told you, David, that he said he didn't.
Q And that's it? I mean --
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q -- he was just misquoted?
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q So what did he -- I just want to push --
MR. SNOW: Well, again, you can feel free to push. I've tried to relay to you what was related to me by --
Q That he just didn't mean it?
MR. SNOW: No, no, not that he didn't mean it, that he didn't say it. He said he was misquoted. When somebody says they're misquoted that means --
Q What's the issue? What's the concern that U.S. officials over there are trying to deal with, then?
MR. SNOW: They're not. There are regular meetings. I think -- as you know, there are allegations of things that have gone on in Haditha, in Hamandiya and now in Ishaqi. And these things are -- these are matters --
Q But his remarks are much more general than that.
MR. SNOW: But I'm answering your question, because what I'm trying to do is to talk about the nature of the conversations between the Ambassador and General Casey and the Prime Minister. And, again, this is based on my conversation just concluded with the Ambassador. And they try to maintain regular contact about these things, and they want to make sure that he's fully informed.
Now I am sure that the Prime Minister is every bit as troubled by the allegations as the President of the United States is. And he got the full assurances from General Casey that he will be given all the evidence and all the materials available so he will know what's going on. I think that's really what's going on.
The other thing is, it seems pretty clear that Prime Minister Maliki values the contributions of American forces, but he also wants to make sure, at the earliest practicable moment, that Iraqis can stand up and take full responsibility for security within their borders. And on that, they're all working together on a daily basis.
Q So does the Ambassador and does General Casey sense that they've got some frustration in the Iraqi leadership?
MR. SNOW: No, I don't think so. As a matter of fact, this is an Iraqi leadership that's not even two weeks old. They don't sense frustration. Actually, what's interesting is that the readout I am getting on the Prime Minister -- and everybody -- they're still in that phase where they're getting to know each other -- Prime Minister Maliki is not an English speaker, he speaks Arabic, and so it's not the kind of thing where these guys have had long-standing conversations. So they're feeling each other out.
What I'm getting is just the opposite of frustration. They're impressed. They're impressed that they've got a guy who is not afraid to make decisions, who is not afraid to show leadership, and who is not afraid to put himself in some pretty difficult situations, such as making the trip down to Basra the other day.
So, no, I would wave you away from any characterization that there's frustration. What I'm hearing is, everybody is impressed and they're wishing him success and they want to see more and they want to get to know him better.
Q I'm talking about frustration on his end toward us.
MR. SNOW: No. No.
Q So we don't have a problem here with the Iraqi Prime Minister?
MR. SNOW: No. No.
Q What was misinterpreted? Surely -- you've been a reporter a long time. You just simply ask, what was the real reason that he --
MR. SNOW: Well, what I've tried to do --
Q Where does he say he was misinterpreted?
MR. SNOW: Well, unfortunately, Helen, I have just tried to -- what I'm trying is to relate to you, through Ambassador Khalilzad, through me, what was told to him through an interpreter by the Prime Minister. And it becomes a little convoluted, and so I don't want to make a real clear characterization, because it's a little hazy to me, too. All right? What I do know is that he was misquoted, he's looking into it. But that what he said, and when he said it, and in reaction to what is a little gauzy.
Q No, no, no, but what was the crux of the misinterpretation?
MR. SNOW: The crux is that he says he didn't say it, and that there was --
Q He didn't say he wants us out?
MR. SNOW: Somebody had shouted out a question about an unrelated incident, and I'm not sure I can quite follow it either.
Q The phrase that I saw was, "a daily phenomenon." This is fairly specific stuff he's talking about. So to say, well, we know he didn't say that, when the quotes are -- it's not a generalization, it's very specific stuff that he's quoted as saying. So if you then turn around and say: Well, we know he didn't say that; we don't know what he said, but we know he didn't say that --
MR. SNOW: I'm just telling you what he said. But here's the other thing. Here's Rich Oppel's piece --
Q You're not telling us what he said.
MR. SNOW: But I don't know exactly what he said. All I'm doing is giving you the characterization I repeated through the Ambassador. I'm trying my best to be your advocate on this one. But I did not have a direct conversation with the Ambassador -- I mean, with the Prime Minister. But it's interesting to note that you have -- violence against civilians has become a "daily phenomenon by many troops in the American-led coalition who did not respect the Iraqi people." This is gauzian in and of itself. It doesn't refer to American troops. It talks about troops in an American-led coalition, which also involves Iraqi troops. I don't know what this means. I wish I did, and I wish I could give you clearer guidance.
Q But we do know that it's favorable in terms of the relationship between Maliki and the United States?
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q We know that there's no problem, everybody is in great shape, "Kumbaya"? (Laughter.)
MR. SNOW: No -- do you really think it's "Kumbaya"? You were talking --
Q That's what I'm asking. I'm trying to figure out what it is.
MR. SNOW: No, that is -- no, come on. You're --
Q That's the impression you're giving from the podium.
MR. SNOW: I am not giving -- when we are talking about investigations that could lead to capital prosecutions, nobody is singing "Kumbaya." And when you have --
Q And that's not what I referring to now, either, and you know that.
MR. SNOW: And when you have General Casey going in and trying to brief a Prime Minister, nobody is singing "Kumbaya." You know what they're saying? They're saying, let's figure out what the facts are and let's work together to secure peace.
Q And Tony, that referred specifically to the idea of what the Ambassador is reporting the conversation with the Prime Minister said. That's all I'm trying to figure out.
MR. SNOW: I gave you my best readout, which is, he said the Prime Minister said he was misquoted, and the Prime Minister was looking into how the misquote appeared.
Q And at some point, we will get a more accurate readout about exactly what he did mean?
MR. SNOW: Lots of luck. We will see what we can get. All right?
Q On a somewhat related issue, as Secretary Rumsfeld correctly said, our troops can get morals and ethics training. And now, after these possible massacres, General Casey has ordered additional training for all hands. Isn't that a little late? Doesn't it smack as spin control as all of this is going on?
MR. SNOW: Well, Ivan, let's do a couple of things. Number one, understand that there is a presumption of innocence in all American courts of law. Number two, let's also try to figure out what the facts are. I'm simply not going to be talking about two later -- smacks of this or smacks of that when neither you nor I has seen the evidence, neither you nor I has heard the prosecution or the defense, you nor I has seen any of the documents. That would be moral grandstanding, and I think we owe it to ourselves to figure out what the facts of the case are, and we all may be able to draw appropriate morals at the appropriate time.
Q I'm not implying guilt. What I'm asking about is the training that General Casey has ordered, if there is possible guilt, if there is possible malfeasance in the way our troops deal with civilians. Isn't that training coming on what they were --
MR. SNOW: No, because it is -- as Secretary Rumsfeld and others have pointed out, people have, from the beginning of this war, been getting training in a number of these things. And so this is not something completely new. But, obviously, there is concern, and they want to make sure that everybody, in a hard war where young men are spending a lot of time in the field of battle, make sure that they know what the proper rules and procedures are so they can do their jobs properly.
Q But why hasn't the President been briefed on this Ishaqi case? And has there been any evidence found of wrongdoing?
MR. SNOW: As far as I -- let me just -- the last time I was briefed on it was this morning. And it was a new story. People here were just hearing about it. So I do not know whether between then and now he's been briefed on it. I just told you my most recent knowledge of what he'd been briefed on -- most recently last week by General Casey and by Secretary Rumsfeld, included Hamandiya and Haditha. So I think we're still trying to figure out what's going on there, as well.
Q So that incident is still under investigation? There's been --
MR. SNOW: What we had is General Campbell today is the one who said it was under investigation. And sometimes some of those facts, as we saw when I was doing the tick-tock yesterday, for whatever reason, it takes time for some of the information to make its way from there to here.
Q Has General Campbell indicated that there are other incidents, as well, that they're investigating --
MR. SNOW: All he said -- all I can do is give you the guidance we have, which is three investigations, period. That's what we have been told. I would refer further inquiries to the Department of Defense. But that's what we have been told by our sources over there.
Q Let's go back for a second to a conversation you just had with the Ambassador.
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q The Prime Minister tells him that he was misquoted.
MR. SNOW: Right.
Q The next logical question for anyone to ask would be, what did you say or what did you mean? And, presumably, the Ambassador and/or General Casey asked the Prime Minister that question.
MR. SNOW: Well, you know what, what I got -- I'm trying to tell you here that, again, you're getting a translated conversation, now translated through an Ambassador to me to you. And you can ask -- I've told you everything I know.
MR. SNOW: So you can try to tease out more, but there ain't any more to tease out.
Q Did you try to find out more?
MR. SNOW: Yes, absolutely I'll try to find out. Because I'll get on the horn with the Ambassador, and try to find out.
Q If I were in your position, I'd want to know -- I'd want to be able to come in here and say, okay, he said he was misquoted, one; and, two, here's what he said he meant, or here it --
MR. SNOW: Thank you for sharing what you would do if you were in my position. Let me just --
Q Just trying to be helpful.
MR. SNOW: I know. And you know what, a lot of times, again, there was an attempt -- I must say he tried to do it, and it was a complicated answer that I'm not sure he followed, all right, that had to do with somebody stopping -- again, he says -- let me not get into the -- let's just try to follow up, and we'll see what we can get you in terms of a fuller answer.
Q Two quick questions. One for Iraq. Saddam Hussein is still alive, he's in jail, and we don't know what's happened with the trial. And how many loyalists still he has in Iraq that go towards maybe killing innocent people in Iraq?
MR. SNOW: The answer is, too many. I don't know how many. That's a military question that I'm not competent to answer. But it's clear that there are Saddam loyalists who do not democracy to succeed, who are unafraid of killing Iraqi citizens, who are unafraid of using murder as a device not only to weaken the will of Iraqis but also to make a statement here in the United States. So if there's one running around it's too many.
Q Second one.
MR. SNOW: Oh, I'm sorry.
Q Hundred-and-sixty member non-aligned (inaudible) meeting in Malaysia. Coincidently the same day when Dr. Rice spoke about Iran softening, or meeting with Iranians, and now Iranian President rejected her views and comments and all that. But this movement also supported Iran now, that Iran has a right to --
MR. SNOW: Well, they agreed with us, that it has a right to civilian nuclear power. That's not a difference. But keep in mind -- I've gotten a number of inquiries about rejections by Iran. Iran cannot reject what it has not seen. And Iran will be getting a full presentation, I am told, over the weekend of the package of incentives and disincentives. And so I think it really is -- to be fair to the Iranians, first let them see it. And, number two, it's the clear desire and determination of everybody involved, from the standpoint of the international community, that it ultimately becomes a conversation about incentives. Nobody really wants to get to the disincentive base.
Q Different topic. On May 18th, when the Senate Committee approved the Protection of Marriage Amendment, the White House -- the President didn't make a statement. They didn't release so much as what's become sometimes routine congratulatory paper statements. And now the President is wading into this issue. Why?
MR. SNOW: Well, it's getting voted on next week. There is a legislative calendar issue. And there are a couple of things going on. The President has many times made statements about marriage, and his position is that he thinks people ought to have the freedom to lead their private lives. He also does not believe that that means that you have to redefine the institution of marriage. He believes the institution of marriage is between a man and a woman.
Also there have been some developments in the last couple of years. In at least four cases -- there have been four states, California, Maryland, New York, and Washington where trial courts have found within their constitutions and the U.S. Constitution a provision that would permit same-sex marriage. In each of these cases, either state legislatures or state voters had approved statutes that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. The President thinks that personal relationships of this sort ought to be decided by people and by legislators, and not by courts. And so he's going to reiterate the point.
And he's also going to make the same point in tomorrow's radio address. It's an issue that is ripe next week. A lot people were asking before, why are you talking about immigration when you talked about it. Answer: There is a Senate vote coming the next week. It's not unusual for somebody to make a statement on the eve of a vote.
Q But when we asked you back on May 19th, is this a priority for the White House, your response was, we shouldn't get into prioritizing what's Congress' business.
MR. SNOW: Well, yes, yes, yes, because I don't know how you define what a priority is. The President has made it clear what he wants. He would like to see the Senate pass the bill. But I -- literally, I don't -- I'm not going to get into a priority list even now, Jessica. It's one of those things that tries to attach some sort of a motive or political weight to what is pretty much a simple statement of something he's said many times before.
Q Was there a Rose Garden ceremony for it?
MR. SNOW: There's no Rose Garden ceremony. It's a speech in the White House.
Q Have you ever thought -- why does he believe the Constitution of the United States has to be amended, rather than allow it? If he says that it's people who should decide, why not let the states make their own determinations?
MR. SNOW: Well, because what's happened is states have tried to make decisions and courts have overridden the opinions -- in many cases -- of 60 percent to 70 percent of the people residing in those states. So it's not -- he would like the states to be able to have the right to decide. What's happened, David, is that courts have intervened and said, doesn't matter what you think, here's what we think.
And if it comes to that, if it comes to the people's opinion being dismissed by courts as unconstitutional, then at that point you really do have to say, okay, people, decide: do you want to have a constitutional amendment or not? Keep in mind, should the Senate pass this, then you go through a process of having 38 different states ratify it. This is not sort of a snap judgment. This would be the beginning of a very long political march.
Q Tony, this debate obviously played a big role in the 2004 reelect, and the President made some pledges at that point to fight hard for this. There have been some conservatives who have suggested that he's not made good on that pledge. So apart from tomorrow's radio address and Monday night's activity on the eve of the actual vote, what can be said on the President's behalf to suggest to those critics that, actually, he has done some lifting on this?
MR. SNOW: Well, the President -- I don't know sometimes how you -- the President is going to have to let what he's doing on behalf of this particular legislative proposal stand for itself. They're going to have to draw their own judgments.
Q Is he making calls to senators?
MR. SNOW: Senators aren't in town -- do you know how hard it is to find a senator this week? (Laughter.) I'm serious. Do you have any clue?
Q The President wades into this when it's politically expedient --
MR. SNOW: Oh, David, come on.
Q He did that in 2004 -- don't "come on" me. You know just as well as I do what happened in 2004 --
MR. SNOW: This is what people have been waiting for. (Laughter.)
Q Two-thousand-four, in the heat of the campaign, he gets into it, and he gets into it again in an election year where he's getting a lot of heat from his base to get back into this issue.
MR. SNOW: All he's doing is he's stating a position on the eve of the vote. I mean, I think it's really not that unusual for a President to make statements that are timed to coincide with things on the legislative calendar, I really don't.
Q You know how President --
Q So is that a "no" about phone calls?
MR. SNOW: I honestly don't know if he's making phone calls on this.
Q Do you know if he plans to?
MR. SNOW: I have no knowledge of plans to.
Q Tony, can we get back here?
MR. SNOW: No, I want to finish up with David, then we'll get to Lester.
Q I think you're pretty well aware of how Presidents can use their office --
MR. SNOW: Right.
Q -- to weigh in on issues and influence issues.
MR. SNOW: Right.
Q So when you say you don't know how to attach a priority to it, I think you pretty well do, just like you do on other issues. So the President is making it a priority now, at a time when it is politically expedient. Do you dispute that?
MR. SNOW: Yes, I do, because political expedience -- are you going to say that every time a President makes a speech that's timed to coincide with a vote on a piece of legislation that it's politically expedient? The other way -- you could turn it around and say, it's politically ripe -- I mean, for the President to have done it three weeks ago, what do you do, you tuck it into a vacuum. You have to make statements at a time when it makes sense to do it.
Furthermore, I guarantee you, people who have not spoken about this in many months who are opposed to it are also going to speak out. Is that politically expedient? No, it's politically ripe. It's their chance to have their say about an issue that is now going to be before the United States Senate.
Q Tony, when the President was inaugurated for a second term, he said that he wasn't going to spend time lobbying senators on this issue because he didn't think the Senate was going to pass it. Has his assessment changed on this?
MR. SNOW: I'm not going to get into assessments. We'll just have to wait and see what the vote is next week.
Q He was allocating priorities then. He was saying, it wasn't a priority because he didn't think it would pass --
MR. SNOW: Look, you got me, because I was not here for that one, and I just can't go back and compare it for you Peter, sorry.
Q Two questions. Reuters reported yesterday from Boston that U.S. war veteran Sergeant Peter Damon, who lost both of his arms in Iraq, has sued Michael Moore for using clips without his permission to give the false impression that he opposed the war. And he said, "I didn't lose my arms over there to come back and be used as ammunition against my Commander-in-Chief." And my question, if he is asked, will this Commander-in-Chief be willing to testify in court on behalf of this double amputee sergeant?
MR. SNOW: Lester, I have often had to resist the temptation to answer hypothetical questions. I don't even have to resist that one. Look, it's a hypothetical question. We can't -- please don't put me in the position of trying to answer to a lawsuit between somebody who served his country and Michael Moore. We'll let them deal with it.
Q Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution says, "The United States shall guarantee to every state in the Union a Republican form of government and shall protect each of them from foreign invasion." My question is, does the President believe this foreign invasion means only armed invasion, or doesn't this also mean the invasion of millions of illegal immigrants?
MR. SNOW: I think what you are doing is you're attaching a martial connotation to something that does not have martial consequences.
Q But I'm just wondering what does he feel? Does he feel that this applies here -- only armed if they --
MR. SNOW: What the President has said -- if you were talking about an invasion, he's made it clear that Mexico is not the enemy.
Q Tony, anti-war forces are using these alleged massacres as a chance to whip up more public support for pulling the troops out. Has the White House considered any kind of counter offensive --
MR. SNOW: You can't do a counter -- look, it's very easy to try to use press accounts to try to make a point. The problem is, the President, as Commander-in-Chief, cannot and will not say things that will prejudice the ongoing investigation and possible prosecution. So you don't push back. You can't. It would be absolutely irresponsible for anybody in this administration to try to push back against critics, when to do so would be to enter into a chain of command and make it possible -- should there ever be a need for prosecutions -- for the defense to say they're in there trying to prejudice. And I just -- you simply cannot do it.
Q Will he go out and make some speeches on Iraq again?
MR. SNOW: Well, we're going to talk -- Iraq is a huge concern. Absolutely you're going to hear about Iraq. But I think, again, if you're asking for specific reactions to stories about Haditha or Hamandiya or wherever, no, I think there is just a real obligation -- and Secretary Rumsfeld is pretty good on this today -- which is, whatever your temptation to speak out, you cannot indulge in it, you cannot get yourself involved in the issue in that way.
But I think it is important to remind people that there is an ongoing war on terror, that the United States is determined to make sure that democracy succeeds in Iraq; that the President does support Prime Minister Maliki, that he's happy to see the Prime Minister is busy putting the finishing touches on a government, that he's shown, in the initial stages, the kind of toughness and character that are essential to leadership.
So if you're going to hear about Iraq -- yes, you'll be hearing about it, and I think you'll be hearing good and bad, because it is -- I think Jim was on to something. If you try to sort of "Kumbaya" about what's going on -- people know it's a war. It's tough. And you can't play "Kumbaya." What you have to do is to take on the harder and more practical business of winning a war and securing a democracy.
Q Tony, Congressman Pete King is going to call hearings into the funding formula that Homeland Security uses for distributing the money around the country. What is the White House's position on potential for a review into that funding --
MR. SNOW: No, there has been a review. You know what's interesting -- and Secretary Chertoff made this point yesterday -- the $124, $125 million that New York received this year is pretty much what it's been receiving on average. A lot of people tell you about a 40 percent cut. Last year was a year in which significant resources were pumped into New York for capital expenses, which were supposed to be one-time only expenditures.
But look, Representative King is a member of the legislative branch, and somebody who is on the Homeland Security -- you can certainly do that. And we will try to answer all questions and concerns.*
Q Tony, during the Abu Ghraib episode, the President was publicly dissatisfied with the way he was apprised and informed of that? Is he comfortable and satisfied with the way information flowed both to Secretary Rumsfeld and to him in this most recent incident?
MR. SNOW: Once again, we've got the unusual added factor that the flow of information is itself a topic of investigation. That's one of the two investigations taking place. So I cannot even give you that much.
Q Tony --
Q Tony --
MR. SNOW: Okay, I'm sorry --
Q A quickie. Has anybody given any thought to whether anyone culpable in this case that we've been talking about should be subject to Iraqi jurisdiction? Anything on that yet?
MR. SNOW: You know what, I'd better not try even to guess on it. I've got my own suspicions, but I think what the United States has said -- well, I'll tell you what General Casey, again, said, which is that there will be proceedings through the military, and he would keep the Prime Minister apprised. I think what might be interesting to find out is whether anybody formally has made such a request on the Iraqi side, which I don't think has happened. I think what you had was a non-binding parliamentary resolution. So I don't think we've gotten to the point of even having to deal with such an issue.
Q Tony, I have two. The AP is reporting that President Ahmadinejad has vowed, "The West will not deprive Iran of nuclear technology." Any response to that?
MR. SNOW: No. Again, there are going to be a lot of statements made right now in advance of actually having seen a proposal. So we take them for what they are -- they're statements in advance of a proposal.
This is a negotiation, and I would expect people -- I would expect Iran to try to take some negotiating positions in advance, but I also think it's safe to say that the Iranians are going to take a careful look at this because what has happened -- I was going through this timeline yesterday, where it first started with the United States, then the EU3, then the P5, then the P5 plus one, the IAEA. Suddenly, you've got a large group that now also includes Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt, other nations that have said to Iran: You need to suspend the enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. They're going to take that seriously.
But in addition, what the United States has said, what Secretary Rice has made clear is that there will be incentives. If there is good behavior, there will be incentives. And I think rather than trying to get into a standoff, the position of this government is to look for a way, as I've said before, to have a happy ending here, to make sure -- for the Iraqis [sic] to suspend the nuclear activities and make it possible for the rest of the world to begin working on reintegrating Iraq [sic] into the international community and dealing with other issues, such as human rights and terrorism with that government of Iraq [sic].
Q My second one was, we've got investigations into massacres in Iraq --
MR. SNOW: Alleged massacres.
Q Alleged -- well, there are investigations.
MR. SNOW: Yes, they're investigations.
Q We've got Iran. We've got hurricane season beginning. We've got terrorism funding. And yet the President has chosen for his radio address the subject of the Federal Marriage Amendment. Does the President see gay marriage as such a gathering storm that he feels the need to focus on that?
MR. SNOW: No, again, it's a matter -- it's a matter of a vote. Keep in mind, going back to the ripeness criterion, there will be times, I am sure, unfortunately, where we'll have to talk about hurricane preparedness. There will be times when we'll have to deal with a number of these other issues. He can't give a speech on Haditha and Hamandiya. He can't. So, no, I don't think it's a matter of setting those issues aside. I can tell you there have been plenty of meetings on issues like hurricane preparedness and other things this week. It's one where there is significant attention being paid. But you'll hear about them.
Q What can you give us on what we're going to hear on the radio address tomorrow?
MR. SNOW: What you'll hear is a restatement of the President's position, and he will talk about the fact that he's going to deliver remarks next week, and that he wishes that there was no need to amend the Constitution for such a purpose, that judicial activism has led to the point where in a number of states -- 46 states have passed some sort of law or constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. You have five states where courts have stepped in and said, no, you may not do this. There are nine cases pending in courts, some involving the states I've just mentioned before -- so you really have to be technically correct -- four additional states. So you have nine states that have statutes under review by courts. The President's view is he wishes that you didn't have to deal with judicial activism in an issue like this. But if a constitutional amendment -- which, itself, is an enormously difficult thing to do; you got to get a lot of votes in the Senate, should you pass that hurdle, you've got to go through 38 different states for a constitutional amendment. So he doesn't wish we had to get to this point.
Q You talk about judicial actions only doing what 60 percent, 70 percent of people in the state want; dangerous business to getting into telling courts not to interpret the law the way they're interpreting it, because --
MR. SNOW: No, but it works both ways. It also may be dangerous business for courts to be declaring law in ways that may be constitutionally controversial.
Q Tony, on immigration. You have an author of an upcoming book called "The Big Rip-off" saying that the President's temporary worker program is basically corporate welfare, it drives down wages, as well as it does not give the immigrants negotiating power. Your comments to that. And also comments on your critics who have commented on the fact that you said, what does race have to do with immigration?
MR. SNOW: First thing is -- do I have comments about -- you're asking me, April, about things that I have not seen, both the comments about my comments, and the book.
Q Trust me, it's a fact.
MR. SNOW: All right, well, come and share them with me, and I'll respond.
Q Well, why can't you respond now, on the record?
MR. SNOW: Because I can't respond to things I haven't seen.
Q Timothy P. Carney is coming out with a book --
MR. SNOW: I understand that. Let me look at the book, let me look at the allegations.
Q We've already -- my network has already published and put out for our listeners to hear his comments about immigration --
MR. SNOW: I understand, but you're asking me to respond -- April, I can't help you. I haven't seen it.
Q You haven't been able to help me since you've been here.
Q Thank you.
MR. SNOW: All right, thank you, Steve.
END 1:06 P.M. EDT
* Secretary Chertoff has said that he is willing to meet with the NY delegation and present the facts. He also said that if someone presents a substantive factual error, the Department will review it.