News & Policies
History & Tours | Kids | Your Government | Appointments | Jobs | Contact | Graphic version
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 13, 2006
Press Briefing by Tony Snow
White House Conference Center Briefing Room
12:13 P.M. EDT
MR. SNOW: One brief announcement and then questions. The announcement, the President and Mrs. Bush will welcome Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden to the White House on October 23, 2006.
The United States and Sweden share a long history of friendship and a strong commitment to democracy, human rights and freedom. The visit of their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia is an opportunity to further strengthen the U.S.-Swedish friendship.
Q Do you have any information on whether the North Korean test -- was it a nuclear test?
MR. SNOW: No. I've seen the press reports, but we still do not have any definitive statement on it. We talked to DNI just a couple minutes ago. They still think the analysis that they're doing may take another day or two.
Q So what is this -- what are U.S. intelligence officials talking about when they say that there's no evidence of radioactive particles?
MR. SNOW: Well, they must be talking about partial -- look, there are many different data points when you're trying to analyze this. This may be one of the data points. I don't know where it comes from, but I can tell you that DNI, which is the office that really does have the action for this, tells us that as they continue their analysis, they are just not in a position to give any conclusive answer. And it may take another day or two. That's what they told us.
Q By the weekend, though?
MR. SNOW: Don't -- (laughter) -- again, don't count on this. It's not one of these things where it says, ah-hah, Saturday, this is the day. They don't have a deadline for this. What they try to do is go through whatever metrics they use. And I honestly don't know technically what things they're looking through, but I'm repeating to you what they've told us.
Q How much more difficult would this make the matter in the U.N. if this is not a nuclear test? Or if you get nothing definitive?
MR. SNOW: I don't think it makes any difference. The conversations are ongoing with our allies. There is a draft that is being considered by the allies. The significant thing is that the North Koreans announced that they intended to conduct a test, and then announced afterward -- boasted afterward that they had. That, in and of itself, is an act of provocation and has led to some serious diplomatic work on the part of all the parties.
Q But how can it not make a difference? I mean, don't you suspect the people you want to join in on any sanctions will say, wait a minute, they didn't test a nuclear --
MR. SNOW: I don't think so. No, Martha, I think that they're taking a look at this and they believe that the North Koreans have been trying to test the unity and the will of the parties. And if there is no test, our position remains the same: We don't want a nuclear Korean Peninsula; we want a non-nuclear. Furthermore, the ultimate end state is to have the North Koreans renounce, suspend nuclear activities and to cease all weapons activities, return to the six-party talks, and give themselves and their people a chance to take advantage of the benefits that have been offered to them.
Q Has there been any discussion over the course of the week, with the other members of the six-party talks, that even if there is no nuclear detonation here that everybody will -- has this been talked about as a possibility?
MR. SNOW: I have no idea. I think what -- what everybody has done is taken a look at the behavior of the North Korean government, which gives you a very clear sense of their respect, at least so far, for the expressed wishes of the international community -- and especially their neighbors, the South Koreans and the Chinese. So the talks have been going forward.
I honestly can't tell you, Jim, whether they've been speculating about nuclear or non-nuclear; it may have come up. But what is clear is that if there is nuclear activity, obviously a series of sanctions and that's really what they're talking about here. They're targeting nuclear and proliferation activities.
Q And now it seems from the draft resolution that's out right now that the United States is willing to compromise on this notion of military force being linked to whatever kind of resolution, chapter seven. And it seems like a tip of the hat --
MR. SNOW: "Compromise" on military force? We never talked about using military force.
Q But that the Chinese said we don't want any linkage to any -- that that has to come off the table. I thought you said earlier this week that everything would be on the table --
MR. SNOW: Well, we have always said that we have security obligations with others in the region, and if there is anything that we thought would require us, under our own obligations to those nations, to respond, we would. But I've also tried to make it clear that we are looking for a diplomatic solution here, not a military solution.
Q You want a chapter seven.
MR. SNOW: What chapter seven means is it's binding, it's binding on the parties. That's the key thing you need to remember about it.
Q Is there a sense in this administration that Russia and China are starting to get cold feet somehow?
MR. SNOW: No. I've seen reports --
Q Calling for -- sanctions?
MR. SNOW: No. That's not the impression that we have gotten.
Q Why do you say that?
MR. SNOW: Because that's the readout I got from the people who have been working on it.
Q And the sanctions that are listed in the draft resolution, there's a belief that that will change North Korea's actions?
MR. SNOW: Don't know. Look, it's up to North Korea. It's up to the North Koreans to realize that what has now happened -- they're living in a different world than they lived in. In the past, when the North Koreans have tried to -- have committed bad behavior, they've been rewarded. It's sort of like, you know, dealing with a bratty child -- you give them a piece of candy and hope that they'll shut up. Well, guess what?
What's now happened is that the international community has said, no more carrots, no more rewards for bad behavior; there are going to be punishments, there are going to be consequences for bad behavior. So you've seen the United States and the people who have the most leverage over the North Koreans -- which would be the Chinese, the Japanese, the South Koreans and the Russians, they're in on it, too, they agree, they're equal partners in this. And it's an entirely new calculus because whatever in the past, the North Koreans may have gotten the impression that they'll be rewarded for bad behavior. There should be no question that those days are over.
Q On another front, another "bratty child" -- using your word -- Iran is saying event with the threat of sanctions hanging over that country's head, it's going to move forward with nuclear activity.
MR. SNOW: Well, we'll see.
Q Changing topics a bit. In this midterm climate, there are reports coming out that the former number two official at the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives is writing that during his time here at the White House some of the evangelicals who are prominent were described in very derogatory ways, called "nuts," "ridiculous," "goofy," "boorish" -- terms that might be viewed as offensive --
MR. SNOW: Do you think? (Laughter.) Yes, I think you could construe it that way. (Laughter.)
Q -- while they were publicly embraced by the White House and by senior Republicans and so forth. At a critical time, with the election coming up, to have this come out -- first of all, is it true? And do you think it will have an impact on the race?
MR. SNOW: I'm a little confused, again. You guys have had a better glimpse of the book than we have. We haven't seen it.
When David Kuo left the White House, he sent the President a very warm letter, talking about how wonderful it was. He said, "two-and-a-half years later," after joining the White House, "I'm proud of all the initiative has accomplished. Building on the extraordinary work that John," -- John DiIulio -- "started in 2001, we have advanced the cause of the faith-based groups, ensuring that they are treated fairly by the federal government and have the tools necessary to make their efforts successful. He said, "Ultimately, however, it's your staff's keen awareness of your unwavering support for this initiative that's made the difference."
When you're talking also -- I know Karl Rove, we've asked Karl, did you say the things attributed to you? He said, no. These are people who are friends of many of us in the White House, when you talk about a Richard Land or James Dobson. These are people who are friends. You don't talk about friends that way. I don't -- David has apparently written a book that has a lot of this stuff. I think we are going to need the benefit of being able to take a look specifically at what he says and how he frames it up, and all that, before we can give you detailed answers.
I'm a little bit perplexed, because it does seem at odds with what he was saying inside the building at the time he departed.
Q So is he mistaken?
MR. SNOW: I don't know. Like I said, it's hard for me to respond to whether he was mistaken or not. Is he mistaken in thinking that the -- let me put it this way, because, again, I haven't seen the book, but the assumption, or insinuation, seems to be that the administration takes lightly faith-based groups. False. You've seen the President. When he talks about the faith-based initiative, this is something that's really important to him. This is one of these things where he believes years and years down the road, when people are reviewing this White House, this is going to be one of the signal accomplishments. Using -- harnessing the power of faith to deal with people one on one, face to face, in dealing with some of the most intractable problems that our society faces.
Q But these are more about some of the individual characters or personalities --
MR. SNOW: Like I said, I can't -- until I get a chance, until we get a chance to see the book, what we're doing is we're trying to respond to generalities, and I think it's probably unfair to David and unfair to us. So when we get a chance to give it a look, we'll be happy to go through it. I think it comes out Monday.
Q Is it possible that the office was used for political purposes?
MR. SNOW: No. No. And what's interesting -- and we went through this, this morning -- if you take a look at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which is hardly a conservative group, it came to the conclusion that the faith-based initiative was dispensing money not on the basis of ideology, in fact most of the money was going to blue states.
The President has been really clear, this is not to be used for politics. This is to be used for compassion. You know, talk about the armies of compassion, this is to be used as a way of trying to used faith-based groups who know who the constituents are, who know who the neighbors are, who know what the problems are, to use their own compassion and their own knowledge of the local circumstances to be more effective in delivering services. So, no, not for political use.
Q Is it possible that Karl Rove called them nuts, the evangelicals?
MR. SNOW: He says no.
Q You've asked him about the quotes that are already out?
MR. SNOW: The nuts quote he was asked about. I don't know if there are any additional ones, but I'll be happy to run all by Karl. But here's what your -- Karl made the same point I did, which is, "these are my friends, I don't talk about them like that."
Q Tony, back on North Korea. The President said the other day that we'll reserve all options to protect Japan and South Korea. What are the security arrangements that we have made? If they are attacked, we will support, defend?
MR. SNOW: I think it's, we will come to the support of allies in the region if they're under attack.
Q Tony, when Congressman Mark Foley was still in office, apparently he communicated fairly frequently with Governor Jeb Bush of Florida. And according to some emails obtained by the Palm Beach Post on September 29th of last year, in particular, he complained about not being welcome at a couple of events that the President was attending in Florida, one in Fort Pierce and one in Martin County, saying, "Have I done something to offend the White House, they came to Fort Pierce a few weeks ago, said I was not allowed to attend, yet, Joe Negron, another congressman, was there. Tomorrow POTUS is in Martin County. I'm told I'm not allowed to be there, either." Was Congressman Foley ever told not to appear at events with the President, and, if so, why?
MR. SNOW: We don't know anything about it, and it sounds pretty silly. Look, as a matter of course, you usually invite members of Congress to these -- when you're in town.
Q Are you saying he was mistaken?
MR. SNOW: I don't know. I'm not aware of it. It's not unusual for members of Congress to want to be in on things. But, you know, again, what you've got is an email to a third party, to which I really can't respond. But it just seems to me --
Q Could you check to see if anyone at the White House ever asked Congressman Foley not to attend those events?
MR. SNOW: As far as we know the answer is no, but I'll try to give you an actual definitive -- is it 2004 or 2005?
Q This was a September 29, 2004 email.
MR. SNOW: 2004 -- so this was during the -- okay, see that -- we'll find out.
Q This is when he said they were invited, and he was not.
MR. SNOW: Poor guy. He was invited last year when the President -- we know for a fact that the President was in the state quite often last year, hurricanes and other things, and Congressman Foley was there. He's been at the White House a bunch of times. I'll try to find out if there's -- is there any particular reason we're worried about this particular batch of emails?
Q Just wondering if the White House didn't want the President to be seen with him, and if there was a reason.
MR. SNOW: Well, the answer is, no.
Q Tony, do you have any other -- since the gaggle update this morning, do you have any indications, Bolton says he wants to have the vote tomorrow now on the sanctions thing. Does that look like it's going to happen?
MR. SNOW: Again, it's sort of -- when they finally put it in blue, when they've got a final edition, as you know when they've got a final version, there's a certain time lapse, and you vote on it after a period of time. We'd love to see it voted on tomorrow.
Q And do you have any indications from North Korea that it's maybe taking a second look at the incentives package, or anything like that? That sort of --
MR. SNOW: Look, all they have to do is to say that they're going to return to the six-party talks, and that they're going to put an end to their nuclear program, and a lot of good things happen for them. We'd be happy for that to take place.
Q Have you seen the Russian report?
MR. SNOW: Yes, we've seen the Russian report. We can't confirm it. Again, we know that the deputy foreign -- the deputy foreign minister, according to ITAR-TASS, at least the reading I got -- because it was only a two-sentence dispatch; the deputy foreign minister has been in Pyongyang -- and it seemed to indicate that the North Koreans were expressing a willingness to return to the September 19th agreement, which would involve renouncing all nuclear programs, both civil and military. And in exchange, a series of benefits would be offered their way. Again, if they do, that's great news. But we have nothing to confirm that.
Q You're running that down, I assume? Or somebody is?
MR. SNOW: Yes, I mean, it came by just a few minutes ago. Keep in mind also that the North Koreans are not above a little gamesmanship a few hours before the United Nations is getting ready to vote on a resolution, so you can also take that into account.
Again, look, if they want to abide by the September 19th agreement, that's great news. And that will mean the diplomacy has worked. But rather than running around and giving each other high fives, I think we need to see what they're going to do.
Q Tony, I know this is something of a sore subject with you, but as you know, the President is at another closed fundraiser as we speak, raising $900,000 at a mansion in Georgetown. Just a couple of questions on this, what happens at these events that the public or media should be left out of? And who decides what's open and what's closed?
MR. SNOW: If they're in private residences, they're closed. If they're in public spaces, they're open.
Q Well, as you know, in the previous administration there were events at closed -- I'm sorry, at residences, and they allowed a pool reporter so that the public would know what the President was saying to his supporters. Is this a matter of keeping this exclusive to people who pay big bucks to hear the President?
MR. SNOW: No, it's just a matter of saying that we think that people in their private residences probably don't -- would like to be able to have these things in a confidential manner. But, look, it's not the only area in which we differ from the previous administration. On the other hand, we are going to have a whole lot of events, and you're going to hear pretty much the same thing that the President says behind closed doors. So trust me, Peter, they're not doing anything any different. And I know it's frustrating. I apologize for your frustration, but that's the policy. That's it.
Q For a President who often talks about transparency on so many issues, why not just not have them at private residences and have them at venues where the public can know what the President is telling his supporters?
MR. SNOW: Well, you know what? You're going to have plenty of opportunities for that -- I mean, a whole lot in the next few weeks, and you'll be able to hear the same thing.
Q Are they -- can you say whether this is the end of the closed press --
MR. SNOW: No, I think there's -- I think we've announced there's one more closed one I think a little later. You know what, I'll try to find out and get an exhaustive list. I'll have to talk to the political office.
Q Tony, can you talk about the Internet gambling ban in the ports bill? This was a reasonably high priority for you folks. You worked hard on it, slipped into that bill. The President did not choose to say anything about it. Would you choose to say anything about it?
MR. SNOW: Yes, we support it.
Q A Senate Minority report released yesterday on nonprofits alleging that five of them have had improper ties with Mr. Abramoff. And I wondered if the White House supports an investigation where --
MR. SNOW: You know, I -- look, you're talking about a minority, so the Senate Democrats have put together a report on this?
Q It was authorized by Senator Grassley, who I understand --
MR. SNOW: Look, I think that the Senate has oversight responsibilities and obligations, and they can proceed as they see fit.
Q Tony, two questions. Regarding next month's election of such vital concern to the President, both The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Times have quoted Maryland's 10 black state senators in their announced complaint that the top of the Democrat ticket for governor, U.S. senator, attorney general and comptroller are all white candidates. And my question, does the President share, or does he deplore these senators' expressed belief that nominees should be selected on the basis of their skin shade?
MR. SNOW: Skin shade?
Q Yes, skin shade, skin color.
MR. SNOW: No, it's just an interesting way of formulating it. Look, the President thinks that parties can nominate however they see fit. In this particular case, he supports Michael Steele as the next U.S. senator from Maryland.
Q A number of these Maryland state senators are from districts in and around Prince Georges County, the home of the Washington Redskins, which team is 50 percent black, with no American Indians, no Chinese or Japanese Americans, and no Hispanics. And my question --
MR. SNOW: I got myself into this, didn't I? (Laughter.)
Q The President believes that this team, like political candidates, should be picked on the basis of ability alone and not race, doesn't he?
MR. SNOW: That is correct. Thank you.
Q The New York Sun has done some reporting on the Baker Commission in which they report about two options the commission is considering. One is titled, "Stability First," arguing that the military should focus on stabilizing Baghdad, while working on a political accommodation with the insurgents. But it specifically drops the goal of nurturing this fledgling democracy. The other, called, "Redeploy and Contain," talks about phased withdrawal of soldiers from Iraq, although without explicit detail. Are either of these options palatable to the President?
MR. SNOW: Well, before we start telling -- the President has said -- number one, on Baghdad security, we're already making a concerted effort on Baghdad security. Secondly, it's important that democracy succeed. That has been the U.S. goal from the start, an Iraq that can defend, sustain and govern itself. That remains the goal. We have not seen the report. Furthermore, we have been told that there will be no conclusions drawn by the commissioners until after the election.
I've got a call into Jim Baker right now, but we didn't get hooked up before this particular briefing, so I'll be talking to him later in the day, because I want to try to assess the accuracy of that report. I don't know.
Q A couple of follow ups. Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton have been doing a lot of talking to the press, interviews. How much are they talking to the President?
MR. SNOW: Again, there have been a series of meetings where they come in and they will share some of the experiences they have had. But they are not talking specifically about things that they are contemplating, nor are they talking about conclusions they may draw. And Secretary Baker, in particular, has been very careful, and he's said it many times, that he's simply not going to discuss in detail the deliberations.
Q When was the last time -- the last meeting with the President?
MR. SNOW: I don't know when the last time he was. The Iraq Study Group -- when were they last in the White House? Probably five or six weeks ago. I'll find out the date.
Q What's their deadline? I think -- do they have a deadline?
MR. SNOW: I don't know. What they've said is -- I don't know that they have a deadline. They said that they're going to report after the election. They don't want this to become a matter of election-year politics.
Q Just one more. Jim Baker was scheduled to have a breakfast with reporters this morning and it was canceled. Did the White House ask him to --
MR. SNOW: No, no. We don't make such requests.
Q Tony, if he's not making recommendations until after the midterm elections, why do you want to talk to him today and get specifics about this article that outlines these options?
MR. SNOW: Because I figure if some things are going on, I'd like to try to figure out the veracity of the report -- what better way to go than to talk to Jim Baker.
Q But doesn't that tell you the options, then? I mean, do you want to know the options now, and whether you accept them and you pass that on to the President?
MR. SNOW: I can ask him what's going on. I mean, it's worth trying to figure out whether the -- wouldn't you want me to call Jim Baker and figure out if the report is accurate?
Q No, I would. But then I'd want you to tell us that, and I'm not sure whether you'd tell us whether those options are acceptable. So when do you want to know that?
MR. SNOW: I can tell you right now, we're not going to be making any -- we're not going to have any reaction to options until they're presented, because what you have are things that are floating around in draft form at this point. I'm not even sure --
Q -- of those options are correct, yes, we're looking at those two options, then what happens to that? You just wait until after the midterms, and why?
MR. SNOW: Yes, because what the President is doing -- this is not a -- we're not trying to outsource the President's job as Commander-in-Chief. The President continues to receive information and opinions from a wide variety of sources, and I think there's an assumption that this is an outfit that, when they're finished, will present something, the President will duly follow its course. Maybe he will, maybe he won't, but he'll do it on the basis of his judgment. The Iraq Study Group was created pursuant to an act of Congress, and certainly we'll want to hear what the Democrats and Republicans on the bipartisan panel have to say.
But the President also listens to a lot of other voices, and he's going to do what he thinks best pursues the aim that we have always said we want to achieve, which is a democratic Iraq, an ally in the war on terror, that is able to sustain, govern and defend itself.
Q As long as we're on Iraq -- one of the things the President keeps saying is that he depends on General Casey and his commanders. And yet it's a political solution, the commanders will say it's a political solution. Why in the world is he saying it's up to the military commanders to formulate a political solution?
MR. SNOW: No, no. What he's talking about is the military commanders in terms of their ability to work on the security issues that are going to make it possible --
Q He's talking about strategy, he's not just talking about security. He's asked consistently about strategy in Iraq, and he keeps throwing it back to General Casey.
MR. SNOW: Well, when you're talking about -- what you're -- let's try to separate. On the political front, Prime Minister Maliki is pursuing a whole series of initiatives that have everything to do with economic development to reconciliation. Those are within his ambit. Now, General Casey is not telling him how to pursue reconciliation.
General Casey is there to work on security issues, trying to figure out how do you go into the tough areas of Baghdad, how do you try to stabilize them; how do you try at the same time to be training up Iraqi military; how do you try to professionalize the Iraqi police forces. Those are the kinds of activities on which General Casey provides advice. But he is not telling the Prime Minister the strategies he ought to pursue, because that's the Prime Minister's job.
Q I understand that, but consistently the President is asked about the strategy for victory in Iraq, and he keeps throwing it to the military.
MR. SNOW: Yes, but when you're talking about strategy -- oh, I see what you're -- the strategy involves having the military in security conditions such that the United States and the allies can withdraw. And Iraq will have the security it needs. General Casey -- again, let me just reiterate -- is not telling Prime Minister Maliki, or advising him on reconciliation strategy or reconstruction or that sort of thing.
What you do have are other venues. For instance, you've got -- the Iraqis now have been reaching out to the rest of the world in terms of development. That is something that we announced when we were in Baghdad earlier this year. And so there are any number of areas in which the Iraqis are going to get help from abroad. But, again, when the President is talking about the military and security strategy with General Casey, as you'd expect him to do.
Q Tony, also on Iraq, the British senior military official who talked about -- the general who said that the mere presence of British troops in Basra is an exacerbating factor to the conflict. Is that something that through Tony Blair is getting to the President? Is that being put into the calculus?
MR. SNOW: What's interesting is that General Dannatt was out again today talking about it. Here's what he meant by the "exacerbation" quote. I'll just read the key part from a radio interview today -- and to put it in context, his view is, as ours is, that you're always asking yourself the question, when do you have too many/too few/just right, in terms of the mix of coalition forces and Iraqi forces, knowing that eventually you want a hundred percent Iraqi forces and zero percent coalition forces. In a couple of cases now, the Brits have been able to hand over security operations in two separate provinces to the Iraqis and they expect to be able to do so in a third soon. They've taken their complement of forces in Iraq from 20,000 to 30,000 down to 7,000. So that's the context here.
And the question is, when you're in that area where you think that you're about ready to hand over responsibility, what happens? And here's his quote, he says, "The assessment we're trying to make is to leave the places that we can effectively hand over. It's the frustration of us still being somewhere when the Iraqis would like to take control themselves that, in part, causes us to be attacked and hence, it exacerbates the issue."
In other words, he's saying there may be some times when the Brits no longer are necessary, they're there, they're seen as an occupier that may exacerbate some of the tensions. And that's the context in which he was discussing it.
Q What about the part where he says it's time for the British troops to come home?
MR. SNOW: He says that that's not what he said. And furthermore --
Q He was misquoted?
MR. SNOW: Yes, that's what he says, it was taken out of -- his direct quote was, "the particular comment which was actually rather largely taken out of context." He later stresses that, in fact, we're "shoulder-to-shoulder with the Americans" and that there is no difference between his view and the stated view of the British government through the Prime Minister.
Q The U.K. foreign minister has said, about Guantanamo -- calling for it to be closed -- the continuing detention without fair trial of prisoners is unacceptable in terms of human rights, but it's also ineffective in terms of counterterrorism. I wanted to ask about the second part, in terms of it being ineffective in counterterrorism. Would you agree in any part with that, particularly, for example, with the fact that it hasn't been effective in terms of counterterrorism?
MR. SNOW: Well, as a matter of fact, when you talk about the high-value detainees who have been repatriated to Guantanamo -- incidentally, everybody there has been seen by the International Committee of the Red Cross, including the 13 or 14 who were recently transferred there. And if you take a look at what has gone on, people who have actually visited Guantanamo -- and I don't believe Ms. Beckett has -- have come back with reports that talk about its being a model detention facility and so on.
We agree that these people ought to be brought to justice. It's one of the reasons why the President brought to the Congress legislation that he'll sign next week that provides a way for bringing them to justice and having trials. But the President has also laid out for you and everybody else a whole series of terrorist incidents, or terrorist plans that were foiled directly as a result of the intelligence provided by people who are now in Guantanamo.
The other thing we're trying to do is as rapidly as possible repatriate those who have other nations of origin back to those nations. I think, what, 11 are going back to Afghanistan this week. We want to figure out the best way to get people either back to their home countries, or to face justice.
And the other important thing is that there has to be human rights guarantees attached to their ultimate point of destination. We take seriously human rights. The people have been there -- and I don't know if anybody in this room has been; I suspect some of you have been to Guantanamo -- they take extraordinary care in trying to observe everything from being able to be religiously sensitive, to following dietary guidelines and so on.
So we are confident not only that what's going on in Guantanamo passes constitutional and American muster, but it is consistent with the human rights of those who are detained there.
Q Are you aware of the fresh allegations of abuse that have been reported in the BBC?
MR. SNOW: There is -- the southern command is investigating a complaint that has been launched by a Marine officer alleging that she had overheard some people talking about beating up prisoners at Guantanamo. We're aware of it, and expect it to be investigated thoroughly.
Q This morning Congressman Bob Ney pled guilty in federal court to charges that took nine minutes to read into the record. When he resigns, he'll become the fourth Republican congressman to leave (inaudible). Do Republicans in Washington have a problem with ethics?
MR. SNOW: No, but he ought to resign.
Q But is there something that the Republicans should do to perhaps better deal with problems within their own ranks, better self-policing of behavior?
MR. SNOW: I think it's important that everybody be policed -- Democrats or Republicans. If you've got money in your freezer or skeletons in your closet, you better make sure that you're taking care of what's going on. I think it's incumbent on everybody to behave in a model way. And that's always our belief. We do not think that being a Republican -- let me put it this way, what Congressman Ney did is not a reflection of the Republican Party, it's a reflection of Congressman Ney. And he ought to step down.
We saw that with Duke Cunningham. He took money. He stepped down. He should have. And when people break the law or bring discredit upon themselves and their -- bring credit [sic] upon themselves, they ought to do the appropriate thing.
Q Tony, there are a bunch of candidates running on an enforcement-only approach to the illegal immigration problem. And they're saying that the President's comprehensive proposal is going to lead to amnesty and that's very unwise. And most of these candidates -- a lot of them are certainly Republicans. What explains the disconnect between the President and these Republican candidates? And what would the White House say to them?
MR. SNOW: Well, I don't know that there is a disconnect. If you take a look, we have, in fact -- we're prepared, when the Senate delivers it, to sign a border security bill that has been passed by both Houses of Congress.
On the other hand, the President strongly believes that there's unfinished business. And I think the candidates generally would agree. You don't simply say, okay, we've got secure borders and let's not think about 11 million people who are here illegally. You need to find out who is here, and you have to make sure that you have sensible way of approaching it.
You also have to ask yourself into the future, how do you try to reduce pressure on the borders so that you can have regular immigration rather than the kinds of spectacles that we've seen in recent years. The President believes that a temporary worker program is absolutely essential. He believes in comprehensive reform, and he will continue to press for comprehensive reform. And it is not inconsistent with having secure borders.
Q But a guest worker program as part of the comprehensive solution is seen as leading inevitably to a path to legalization, which is described as amnesty.
MR. SNOW: No, the temporary worker program actually requires people to leave after a specified period of time and return home. I think what you're referring to is the fact that you do have 11 or 12 million people here, some of whom have set down roots, have been working, paying taxes, obeying the law. Some of them have students who are now attending elite universities on scholarships, having lived the American Dream. And you have to ask yourself, what do you do with people who have been here 17, 18 years.
The President's response is not amnesty. Instead, it's to say, okay, we're going to test how much you want to be an American citizen. We're going to make it hard. We're going to make it harder on you that we have made it for any previous generation of immigrants in this country because even though you have stayed here, and even though you have obeyed the law, and even though you have paid taxes, and even though your children are model citizens, you're going to need to pay a fine in taxes. You're going to have to go to the back of the line, which means long waits, in terms of naturalization. During that time, you're going to have to obey the law and stay employed. So it seems to me that far from being amnesty, that's a real test of desire, to figure out who wants to be an American citizen. And I think people who have cleared those hurdles will have demonstrated their bona fides.
Q Thank you.
END 12:45 P.M. EDT
|Email this page to a friend|