The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 25, 2007

Press Briefing by Dana Perino
White House Conference Center Briefing Room

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12:10 P.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Good afternoon. I have no opening statements, I'll just go straight to questions. Terry.

Q The House Judiciary Committee took another step today in its investigation of the firing of the eight U.S. attorneys. They voted to grant immunity to Monica Goodling, the former aide to Attorney General Gonzales. Does the White House think that's a good strategy?

MS. PERINO: That's up to the committee; it's not something we're going to comment on.

Q But you don't object to them trying to force her testimony through an immunity --

MS. PERINO: I'm going to let the committee make those decisions for themselves; I'm not going to comment on it from here.

Is that it? (Laughter.) I shut that train down. (Laughter.)


Q Is the President still going to veto anything from the Hill that sets a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, despite the belief of the public that we should pull out?

MS. PERINO: I think that -- let me try to unpack that. The President has said that if the Democrats decide to insist on sending him a bill that includes a deadline for withdrawal, that he will veto the bill. And I understand that there are many people who are in this country that are frustrated with the war. I do think that you have to be a little bit careful in blanketing everybody that they want to pull out quickly from Iraq and with an arbitrary deadline or a rash decision, and leave that vacuum that we believe is going to be left there, if we leave that quickly.

Q Well, if the majority of people really wanted to pull out, would the President pull out? And what kind of a statistic do you have that they don't want to?

MS. PERINO: As the President has said many times before, he does not make decisions based on polls. He understands as Commander --

Q Did he make decisions based on what the American people want?

MS. PERINO: He makes decisions based as the elected President of the United States and the Commander-in-Chief and his main priority is the protection of the American people, and that's what he --

Q How do you protect the soldiers who are over there dying every day?

MS. PERINO: That is the President's gravest concern, and he talks to the commanders on the ground to make sure that they are protected and that they are doing their jobs. He understands that he has asked them to do a very, very difficult mission. It's very dangerous in Baghdad. We do have a new Baghdad security plan that's underway, being led by General David Petraeus, who is up on the Hill today providing an update to the Congress on the status of that Baghdad security plan.

Q But a hundred people are dying in Iraq every day.

MS. PERINO: It's a very tragic situation. I don't know if that number is accurate, but obviously it's not only our troops that are dying, but very many -- too great of numbers of innocent men, women, and children in Iraq, as well.

Go ahead, Kelly.

Q Can the President say both that he does not question the patriotism of Democrats, but their actions aid the enemy?

MS. PERINO: I think that I want to take a little bit more time to talk about this based on our discussion this morning, because the President's policies are held up to intense scrutiny by the media, and by Democrats, and by everyone around the world, and we welcome that. And I think that when the President and his team and other Republicans try to hold the Democrat's policies up to that same standard of scrutiny, that immediately, the Democrats play the patriotism card.

And I'm sorry, but I don't think that there's anyone in this White House who has actually done that, nor have we have engaged in name calling. Yesterday, Senator Reid called the Vice President a dog, after saying he would not engage in name calling. And I think that let's all take a step back, and if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants to have a debate, then we should have a debate, and we should be able to debate on the substance and on the merits of what we're talking about.

Q Speaking of name calling, Congressman Emanuel had a pretty lengthy speech today in which he said that not since the days of Watergate has partisan politics infiltrated every level of our federal government. I know you've seen the prepared remarks, what's the response?

MS. PERINO: Look, I think that there's an interesting messenger today giving a speech at the Brookings Institute. It's one that you would consider reading in the National Enquirer rather than at a prestigious American think tank like the Brookings Institute. And I think what we have going on here is that the 100-hour congressional agenda is faltering, and in that vacuum, that they've decided to fall back on what is a tried and true tactic of theirs, which is creating grand conspiracy theories that have no basis in fact.

Q On another topic --

Q Are you accusing Brookings of that?

MS. PERINO: No, no, someone is giving a speech there today.

Q On another topic --

MS. PERINO: I just called it a prestigious think tank. Go ahead, you had a follow up.

Q Sara Taylor, is she protected under the same protections given to Karl Rove and Harriet Miers -- would you -- as far as letting her testify with Congress?

MS. PERINO: She would be, but I do think that what we should remember is that we offered to the Senate Judiciary Committee and House Judiciary Committee the opportunity to interview White House officials, in addition to getting documents -- email documents that had come into or out of the White House, and that we would consider adding additional names to that if they wanted to take us up on that offer.


Q The President said on Charlie Rose last night that he hoped when a new President took over that there would be fewer troops in Iraq. Why is that not a draw-down timetable? Why is that not telling the enemy something?

MS. PERINO: I think that he said "fewer" and it doesn't mean everybody is leaving, it's not telling them a date on which we are going to start withdrawing. I think that in the bills that are up on Capitol Hill right now, there's one that says you have to start withdrawing on July 1st, and another that says October 1st; it's one of those two dates. And I think what the President is saying is that what David Petraeus has said, it's going to take until the fall to see if this Baghdad security plan is working before we can evaluate. But the President has said before that he hopes that there are fewer troops there at the time, but he has said that we're going to be in Iraq for a while, and it's going to last beyond his presidency.

Q So it's okay to say we're drawing down or he hopes to draw down by a specific date, but it's not okay to say we hope to get out?

MS. PERINO: Well, the Baghdad security plan hasn't even had a chance to be fully implemented yet. And what they want to do is allow General Petraeus to go there, but their mission --

Q I'm not talking about that. I'm saying what the President said last night is he hoped that there would be fewer troops -- I'm sure he's not talking about five or ten, I'm sure he's talking about a substantial number -- by the time a new President takes over. That sounds like it's cluing the enemy into something. I don't get the distinction.

MS. PERINO: No, I think -- well, I do; I understand that you don't. But I do think that it's apples and oranges, and let me try to explain it again. I think what the President is saying is that we have a Baghdad security plan; it is a surge. A surge by its name is a temporary mission. General David Petraeus is there on Capitol Hill today to talk about the status of that and how it's going, and that he would know by the fall whether or not we are going to be able to have success with the mission.

I think the intention is that we need to secure Baghdad. In the meantime, what we need to have happen is the Prime Minister Maliki and the rest of his government to finish many of the pieces that they need to do. They've made progress on several of them, but the key ones -- like the oil law and de-Baathification, and then regional elections -- are ones that they have to do, as well.

The whole point of the surge is to calm the city down so that you can get that political reconciliation, which everyone agrees will help calm the rest of the country down so that they can sustain, defend and govern itself. And I think the President does hope that by the time he leaves office that Iraq is either at that point or nearing that point when they can be a self-sustaining democracy.

Q So it would be okay for the Democrats to start talking about a timetable after the surge in the fall?

MS. PERINO: No, I think -- let's just take what the Democrats have said right now, which is, they don't even want to give this surge a chance to succeed. They want to pull out. Harry Reid has said that the war is lost. And they're not even allowing it to have a chance, and they're wanting us to pull out prematurely. And it's going to put our troops in danger if we were to follow that path, and it would put the innocent men, women and children of Iraq in more peril. And that's why the President says he'll veto the bill.

Q Can you explain why the funding for the troops wasn't put in the regular budget, why you have to have an emergency supplemental?

MS. PERINO: Yes, we have done that over the years. That's the way that we have decided to do it, which is so that you don't put all of that money for a war into the baseline budget of the Department of Defense because we believe that it would be harder to extract it out afterwards, after the war was over.

Q But, I mean, why not plan for the worst? As the President always says, you plan for the worst. Why wouldn't you put that money in there to make sure that the troops had their money, instead of having what's happened now?

MS. PERINO: Well, as you know, Congress last year didn't even pass a budget. And this year I don't know how much more progress they're making -- I mean, we hope they make some more progress, but I think that in order to ensure the troops have what they need, we had to do it this way, follow the path that we have the past couple of years.

Q Rudy Giuliani said in New Hampshire last night that a Democratic President would put the U.S. at greater risk for suffering another 9/11-type attack. Does the administration agree or disagree with him?

MS. PERINO: I know it's going to be very tempting over the next two years to get us to comment about presidential politics from the podium, and I'm just not going to do it. I'll let Giuliani answer that question for himself.

Q So the administration's view, essentially, is that a timetable, any timetable -- specifically in this case the ones that the Democrats are trying to force -- are surrender dates, that the enemy will recognize as an opportunity to kind of galvanize around. Down the road, if a Republican President -- not this President -- if another President talks about a time to draw down troops, why should that not be viewed as a surrender date, as well? Understanding --

MS. PERINO: I think you're talking about a wildly hypothetical situation. And what I'm talking about -- I'm here to represent this President, and he believes that telling the enemy on the day which you are going to leave, that they can sit and wait us out, is the wrong thing to do. And that's why he said he would veto the bill. I'm not going to predict what any future President, Republican or Democrat, will do. I just know what this President will do, and he will protect the American people and fulfill the mission to the troops.

Q Can I also ask you just to kind of give us some sense of the administration's thinking of the process, as far as this bill goes -- how quickly might the President veto it? What are you envisioning, or what are you thinking about, perhaps, in terms of --

MS. PERINO: Well, since we don't have it yet, it's a little bit hard to tell. I don't think it's an exact science up on Capitol Hill that they know the exact time and hour in which they'll be able to send it to us. I think they have tried in good faith to try to give us a general idea, and we do believe it would be either later this week, or more likely, we've been told early next week.

So we'll take it from there. And the President, I think it is safe to say he would veto the bill soon after receiving it.

Q Obviously, the President wants to push back with Democrats. He's talked about them making this political statement, and the President obviously has his own message to send. I mean, is he --

MS. PERINO: What the President has said is that if they insist on sending him this bill that he will reluctantly veto it. But one of the reasons he will veto it is because he wants to get that done quickly so that we can then move on to the next step, which is how do we get the money to the troops. That's why the President is in a hurry.

Go ahead, John.

Q On the Hill, House Republicans are beginning today to basically push back against Chairman Waxman's investigations and oversight. And he, I believe, is going to have them vote on authorizing subpoenas for Secretary of State Rice. Has the White House said, or are you prepared to say what Waxman is doing is over-reaching?

MS. PERINO: Well, I do think that there is a difference between oversight and over-reaching. And we understand that the Congress has a role to play, which is oversight over the executive branch. I believe that this administration has been responsive to Congress, as we've worked with the new majorities, as well, that we've been responsive. But there does come a point where it does start to look like over-reaching.

Q Any people who have been reached yet or --

MS. PERINO: No, I think that I'll let the American people judge for themselves.

Q One other thing. Pelosi -- Speaker Pelosi, it has been reported -- it hasn't happened yet, but it's been reported that she might not attend the briefing by General Petraeus today. Do you have any comment on that?

MS. PERINO: No. I don't know what her schedule is. I'm sure if she's not attending, she has good reason.

Q Can we go back once more to the timeline issue. I understand the issue of a timeline for setting a date for withdrawal. But doesn't the President also tell the enemy exactly what to do by saying, we'll know by the end of August, beginning of September whether the surge has worked? Isn't that the same -- here's the plan, here's how you can derail it.

MS. PERINO: I can see your point, although I think that what is important is to keep in mind that what the President is saying is that we need to give Baghdad a chance to calm down. And General Petraeus -- obviously, these are closed briefings up there, and if he has a chance to talk to the press, I think that he will and hopefully we can ask him these questions.

But the President said last night on Charlie Rose that if our definition of success is no more car bombings, that's not realistic. We know that the enemy realizes that when they can set off a spectacular bomb in a market and kill people, that that grabs people's attention and it's one of the things that they look to in order to foment chaos and to spread their ideology.

Q Who is the enemy you speak of? Are these Iraqis?

MS. PERINO: We have different folks that we're considering the enemy. Obviously, al Qaeda is in Iraq, and they say that this is the battle. And then there are insurgents --

Q Are there Iraqis that you speak of, when you speak of the enemy?

MS. PERINO: I think they are definitely -- obviously, there are Iraqis who are engaging in criminal activity and in sectarian violence.

Q Criminal? To defend their own country?

MS. PERINO: I think when anyone is killing innocent men, women and children that they --

Q Against an invader and occupier?

MS. PERINO: Helen, we are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government, and we are there under the U.N. Security Council resolution.

Mark, did I finish your question?

Q I guess I'm still not sure I see how putting a timeline on a surge -- admittedly, a timeline for something other than withdrawal, but a timeline -- how that still does not communicate something useful to the enemy.

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that what we're seeing is the modest signs of hope, little seeds of hope, amongst the destruction and the challenges that we have in Iraq that the Baghdad security plan is starting to have some effect and some success.

And what the President has said is that the American people don't have unlimited patience; he understands that. So just like the Iraq Study Group, the Baker-Hamilton group said we could support a surge to calm the situation down in Baghdad -- that's what the President is trying to do.


Q On the Sara Taylor authorized subpoena by the Senate Judiciary Committee today, if one is issued for her, would it be the intent of the administration to resist that subpoena?

MS. PERINO: I think I'm not going to go down the hypothetical road. But what I would submit to the House and Senate Judiciary committees is that if they wanted to take us up

on our offer to have the four officials provide an interview up there without a transcript, and then if they would provide -- we would provide them with documents going to and from the White House, which was an extraordinary offer on our part, that we would consider adding additional officials to those interview requests.

Q That offer, though, has been on the table for several weeks now. Is there anything happening on that?

MS. PERINO: No, the ball is in the Democrats' court.

Q Can you explain the objection to a transcript?

MS. PERINO: I think what we have tried to explain is that there is a long tradition in history of not having presidential close advisors testify in front of Congress. But we do want to be responsive to the Congress, and in order to do that, we thought that an interview and a hearing -- an interview is not a hearing, and that's what we offered.

Q Dana, two quick questions. Today, President will talk about malaria and other disease. My question is that, there are people dying around the globe, as far as many diseases, including malaria, HIV/AIDS and all of that. And does the President support the cause by President Clinton, and also Mr. Bill Gates, that they're also taking --

MS. PERINO: Yes, I would say the President and Mrs. Bush, having declared today for the first time ever Malaria Awareness Day, are very interested in anyone who can add to the collective help that we're trying to give to the third world that is suffering from malaria. So I think that the President and Mrs. Bush -- you will hear from them, the President will be introduced by Mrs. Bush in the Rose Garden. I'm sorry, it will be in the East Room, because it was 50 percent change of rain.

Q Second question. As far as Iran is concerned, Iranian President, or Iran has not changed their minds, as far as nuclear program is concerned. But Dr. Condoleezza Rice is planning to meet if they come to the table, as far as -- my question is, is U.S. policy has changed, as far as Iranian nuclear program is concerned, or there will be any compromise if they meet?

MS. PERINO: No, and I would refer -- I know you were at Sean McCormack's briefing yesterday when he addressed this, and I think I'd refer you to his comments. What he said is that Secretary Rice will be joining the Iraq neighbors' conference in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, next week, the one that Harry Reid apparently hasn't heard about because he keeps saying that we need to have a conference. But I would just let him know once again that it is happening next week.

And what Sean McCormack said is that he's not going to rule out any inadvertent contact. This meeting, though, is to talk about Iraq. Our stand with our -- the Permanent 5-plus-1 is strong against the Iranian nuclear program. We do believe that if they want to have a path to get to civilian nuclear power, that it's available to them. They just have to suspend their enrichment.

Q But nothing --

MS. PERINO: Let me move on. Kelly.

Q A couple of points. Has the White House been notified in any way from the agency known as the Office of Special Counsel about its inquiries into the work of Karl Rove or the political operation here?

MS. PERINO: No. No, we have not. As I said yesterday, we have had cooperation with them in the past, and we've responded appropriately. But we have not heard from them on this issue.

Q Dana, in the wake of Senator Reid's comments yesterday that you referenced today, and Congressman Emanuel's comments today, is it fair to say that any hope for spirit of bipartisanship is pretty much out the window?

MS. PERINO: I hope not. I know that we are all working towards -- one, we're working towards getting money to the troops. Secondly, we have a process underway in which we hope to get an immigration bill done. Yesterday, the President was in New York talking about the No Child Left Behind bill. We are moving forward on the energy bill. So we are focused on the priorities of the American people, while at the same time having to work in parallel with the Congress on their oversight request.

Q You have the head of the Democratic Caucus today saying that your administration is "a pattern of political appointees putting partisan interests ahead of the country." Earlier, you said this is part of the nightmare of waking up of a right-wing conspiracy again. What did you mean by that?

MS. PERINO: Well, I just think that what we have is a return to the partisan politics because I think that they are frustrated that their 100-hour congressional agenda has stalled. And they have very little else to talk about. There was nothing in that speech, as I saw it as prepared, that was positive about the -- a positive agenda about for the American people, nothing that talked about what people care about -- how do we make sure that our children are educated and able to compete in a very competitive and growing competitive world? How do we make sure that we are reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy? How do we make sure that we solve our immigration problem so that we can be a nation that is welcoming, as well as a nation of laws?

These are all issues that the President is focused on, as well -- not to mention protecting the American citizens from terrorists who are a very real threat. That speech, as I read it, was one that just strung -- tried to string together a series of unrelated issues and tried to cloak it in a grand conspiracy that was just reminiscent of the vast right-wing conspiracy of the 1990s, and I think the American people have moved past that.

Q Dana, yesterday --

Q Dana, Dana --

MS. PERINO: Let me go over here. I'll get back to you guys.

Q The Petraeus briefing on the Hill is behind closed doors, but if he goes there and has a lot of positive things to say, do you expect him to talk about it? Do you expect the Republicans to talk about it and let it be known -- let the message get out to the public about that things are getting better?

MS. PERINO: I think I found that members of Congress aren't shy about talking to the media after a meeting. (Laughter.)


Q Do you -- this specific response to the decision of the Office of Special Counsel to enlarge this investigation of Hatch Act violations, is there a legitimate --

MS. PERINO: As I said, Keith, we haven't heard from them.

Q But what do you think about it? I mean --

MS. PERINO: I'm not going to comment on it until the Counsel's Office is contacted by the Office of Special Counsel. I'm just not going to do it.

Q Also just one more on the comment about over-reaching, you kind of seemed to suggest that Waxman is over-reaching, but then you kind of -- you put it out there, but you didn't really embrace it fully. I mean, do you --

MS. PERINO: I said I think the American people are going to have to make a decision. If they think that their Congress and their President should be working on issues that are important to them, then I think that they would be sadly disappointed in the first four months of this new Congress.

Q But since you put it out there, do you think that he is over-reaching at this time with all these difference of opinions --

MS. PERINO: I think that there is a difference between oversight and over-reaching, and the American people will make a decision.

Go ahead.

Q Dana, yesterday we heard testimony from the family of Pat Tillman about the circumstances of his death and the numerous falsehoods that were told to the family by Pentagon officials. Pat Tillman's memorial service was on May 3, 2004. When did the President learn about the unusual circumstances of his death and the possibility that he was killed by friendly fire?

MS. PERINO: From all indications, it was well after the funeral. And I did check, and the President did ask for updates yesterday on the hearing and received them from senior staff members.

Q And any reaction to the testimony by his family at yesterday's hearing, from the President?

MS. PERINO: I haven't spoken to the President, but in talking to -- in checking that out to ask if he had been updated on it, he was interested. He was the one who asked about the hearing. He wanted to know more about it. And I think that he feels deeply sorry for the family and all that they have gone through, and he's pleased that the Department of Defense has taken it upon themselves to investigate it, and he hopes that people are held to account.

Q Has he spoken to the family since the IG report has come out, or since the family has complained about the numerous falsehoods that were told to them?

MS. PERINO: No, he has not spoken to the family. And I think that we have to remember that as this matter is ongoing, that it would be inappropriate for the Commander-in-Chief to do so, to get involved, in terms of while there's an investigation in questioning. But he does believe that General Pace and others at the Defense Department are honorable people who will make sure that it is -- that the wrong is righted.


Q Thank you, Dana. Two questions. How will the United States ever develop, adopt and enforce any sort of immigration policy when individual leaders such as San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom have vowed to oppose federal enforcement of such laws and, in fact, are preparing to run a sanctuary city that would facilitate illegal activities, as just reported for the San Francisco Chronicle and one wire service?

MS. PERINO: Wow, two sources. (Laughter.) President Bush believes that the laws of this country, including immigration laws, need to be followed.

Q Second. The National Border Patrol Council, the union of our 11,000 non-supervisory U.S. Border Patrol agents, has just passed a resolution, which, among other concerns, deplores what they say is, "shamelessly promoting amnesty and a greatly expanded guest worker program, despite intense opposition to these concepts from the front-line Border Patrol agents who risk their lives enforcing our nation's immigration laws."

MS. PERINO: Your question is what?

Q Yes, the question is right here. What is the White House reaction to this resolution?

MS. PERINO: Okay. I haven't seen the resolution. What I would say is that I would hope that the council would take a look at the President's plan. We are working with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to try to work through a plan that would help alleviate the pressure at the border. And I understand that they have very real concerns, since they work on the border every day. And the President believes that the plan that we have in place is one that would help alleviate the problems at the border, as well as allow our country to be one that is continuing to be a welcoming one.

Go ahead.

Q Just to follow up on Mark's point, that you have a surge which is announced, and yet the supposed insurgents or enemy have moved up 35 miles north and killed our servicemen earlier this week. How is not that -- how isn't it the same as essentially announcing a date pullout? I mean --

MS. PERINO: Well, first of all, we haven't announced a date pullout. There's a huge difference.

Q No, but the Democrats have said that they would like to have a date pullout.

MS. PERINO: No, no, no, they've put in a date to pull out.

Q I understand.

MS. PERINO: It's not they just don't want to -- they don't like it -- they don't just like it, they have done it.

Q What I'm saying is the surge is -- announcing the surge is the same thing, because they just moved north and did a suicide bombing and killed our service members.

MS. PERINO: Well, look, the President has said that we are going to be facing very real dangers about the possibility of more servicemen from -- men and women from the United States facing possible death or injury because of our new Baghdad security plan, and he understood that. We also have new operations in al Anbar province. It is this plan that has small signs of hope that General Petraeus is going to be talking about today.

We have not at all set a date certain. What we have said is that we won't know until the fall whether or not -- General Petraeus, who will make the determination as the commander on the ground, whether or not we are having success there.

Q Can I just go back to Tillman? You said that the President only knew about it well after Pat Tillman's funeral.

MS. PERINO: Sometime after that.

Q Can you tell us how he knew, and whether the speechwriter knew? I mean, there's this email that apparently went to General Abizaid, that he didn't get for a long time.

MS. PERINO: We have no indication that the President knew that there were questions surrounding the circumstances of Colonel Tillman's death until sometime afterwards. And it's not clear -- people don't remember if he heard it from media reports or if he heard it from the Pentagon, but it was sometime after the funeral.

Q Did the speechwriter know?

MS. PERINO: It's unclear. It didn't seem that he did. I did not speak to him; he no longer works at the White House. But it is not unusual --

Q But he never got word through this email --

MS. PERINO: It seemed that it never left CENTCOM and got to here. There's no record of that -- of General McCrystal's memo coming to the White House. But let me tell you it is not unusual that any time the President is going to be giving a speech mentioning somebody that has connections to the Department of Defense or another department, that we wouldn't reach out and make sure that we had any I's dotted and T's crossed. And, obviously, in this regard we would maybe have treated the situation differently had the President known.

Q But it's unclear when he found out and how he found out?

MS. PERINO: Correct.

Q As the most high-profile casualty at that time, wouldn't it have been the responsibility of someone to directly tell the President, and not leave it up to him overhearing reports?

MS. PERINO: I think that's part of the inquiry that Department of Defense is looking into.

Q Is he convinced now that it's friendly fire?

MS. PERINO: I think that that's been established.

Q It has?

MS. PERINO: I believe so.

Q Dana --

MS. PERINO: No, no, no, Goyal. Let's go to Paula, and then we'll get these two in the back, and be done.

Q The meeting this afternoon on immigration reform, is this primarily a listening session with the Hispanic Caucus, or are you going to be discussing new ideas beyond the general principles that the President --

MS. PERINO: I think listening, discussion, and talking about general principles or other principles. I think that the President wants to talk to them about a variety of issues regarding immigration. They're not going to be drafting bill language together, but I think that they'll have their input given to the President and to the members of his staff so that we can include that into our thinking as we're working on Capitol Hill on a bill.

Q Would that include more focus on a temporary worker program?

MS. PERINO: The President is very focused on a temporary worker program, so that will definitely be a part of the discussion, sure.


Q Thanks, Dana. Al Jazeera is reporting in an interview with a Taliban commander that Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden are alive, and that Osama bin Laden directed the attack against Vice President Cheney in Afghanistan.

MS. PERINO: It's an interesting claim, but we don't -- I haven't seen any intelligence that would support that.

Q What about the idea that these individuals are unaccounted for, that they could be out there, and could have directed an attack against the Vice President?

MS. PERINO: Well, I guess that that is possible. It's just I'm not an intelligence experts, and I'd have to refer you over to the DNI's office if you want to check that out. I think that would be a good place to ask.

Q Dana, the word "impeachment" has cropped up in D.C. and elsewhere in the country. How seriously does the administration take those words?

MS. PERINO: How seriously do we take Representative Kucinich's --

Q That and the decision by the assembly in Vermont?

MS. PERINO: The assembly of the what?

Q In Vermont. The resolution by -- in the state of Vermont.

MS. PERINO: Oh, I didn't even know there was a resolution in the state of Vermont. Is that a monthly occurrence? (Laughter.) I don't know. The President and the Vice President have served honorably, and I don't think there's any merit to those impeachment claims.

END 12:39 P.M. EDT

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