The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 12, 2007

Press Briefing by Tony Snow
White House Conference Center Briefing Room

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11:06 A.M. EDT

MR. SNOW: Good morning, everybody. The President's schedule: At 8:00 a.m., he had normal briefings. Let's see -- he has concluded, I presume, making remarks at the dedication of the Victims of Communism Memorial. At 12:30 p.m., he'll return to Capitol Hill; there will be a meeting with Republican Senate leadership, followed at 1:00 p.m. by a Senate Republican Policy lunch. It will be the second time that the President has traveled to the Hill for this lunch -- the first on July 31, 2001. He also hosted a Republican Policy Committee lunch at the White House on June 21, 2005. It's likely that he will make a brief statement following the lunch.


Q Tony, immigration. Sheila Jackson, the Texan, someone who knows about border crossing issues, she said that the President should have been on the Hill way before this. What are your thoughts about that? And tell us why amnesty still is the major hurdle as you continue to tout --

MR. SNOW: I'm not sure that I buy any of the premises. Number one, if you take a look at the way the Senate votes have taken place, on all the major provisions they've passed with more than 60 votes. Last week's vote on cloture was opposed by a number of Republicans, not because they opposed the bill, but because they opposed shutting off debate. They thought that it was important to consider further amendments. And it is our hope that Senate Majority Leader Reid will, in fact, bring the bill back up to the floor so that both sides can present whatever amendments they think may be germane.

But in point of fact, there has been sizeable support for the overall outlines of the legislation by Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate and, therefore, the President has maintained a very active role in this. Furthermore, whether the President is on the Hill or not, we have certainly been in close contact with Democrats and Republicans throughout this process and will continue to be.

Q This is something Republicans are just not trying to back, many Republicans. If you can't get your own party, Democrats are not --

MR. SNOW: Well, no, what I'm telling you is if you have 60 votes in the United States Senate, and you have significant numbers of Democrats and Republicans on the key provisions, that shows strong support. And that's what we have had on the key provisions, and we think that there's going to be strong support on final passage when a bill is brought up and finally they've concluded the debate.

Q Is Al Gonzales coming up today?

MR. SNOW: I don't know. The way these lunches work is that obviously there will be some conversation about immigration. We've got an energy bill that's coming up, a defense authorization bill that's going to be debated before long. There's a whole series of items that I'm sure members are going to want to talk about. I don't -- my guess is, will the Attorney General -- probably not. I mean, we had -- we had the symbolic vote yesterday. It didn't have enough votes to get to the floor for a final vote, and I think that's that. I think that's over.

Q Tony, where is the President's real base of support on immigration? I mean, we know that he went a long way to offending his own base, some of his public remarks on this -- I don't have to tell you about the kind of grassroots efforts against this. So explain to me who he tries to reach when he goes up there today.

MR. SNOW: Well, on the other hand, David, you got 60 votes. What is really -- I'll tell you what he's going to do, is he's going to talk to members, because it's worth going through the legislation and saying to folks, look, I know why people are skeptical; 1986 there was an immigration bill passed, and it didn't deliver on any of the promises. It didn't provide border security, it didn't provide any control when it came to people coming in illegally. There were no punishments for crossing the border illegally. It wasn't even a crime to stay here illegally. You had, at best, a wrist slap for employers who knowingly hired illegals. And I think there's a baseline of skepticism with the American public where people say, look, you passed a law once, it didn't do any good; why should we trust you now?

And members have heard a lot of this. On the other hand, they've also heard that if people feel that, in fact, they're confident in the border security measures, that changes the political calculus. And if you take a look, again, at the key provisions in this bill, and you simply ask the public opinion polling question, do you support it or not, you get very high public approval for them. So we think that there really is a strong base of support here.

We do understand that there are some within the Republican Party who are opposed and who will not support the President. But we also understand that there are quite a number of Republicans who agree with the baseline principles, which is, number one, you got to build public trust by having border security, by doing something serious, tangible and credible on border security.

Number two, you have to restore rule of law. As I mentioned, the prior law had no punishment at all for crossing the border illegally, and if you stayed, it was considered a civil infraction, not even a criminal misdeed. When it came to employers, wrist slaps.

What you have instead are a series of measures that say, number one, if you came here illegally, you had to admit it by paying a fine. Furthermore, you go on probation. You have to maintain continuous employment; you don't have access to welfare, you cannot break the law; you have to learn English. You've got all these things that I think most folks say, okay, that's consistent with what we want people to do if they're going to stay on our shores, and, if they violate these, they get deported.

Finally, you have the notion of citizenship. The 1986 bill said to 3 million people, you got amnesty and you're on a fast track to citizenship, 18 months. In this particular case, we say, no, citizenship is an earned privilege, and you've got to earn it through good behavior, and also by entering the mainstream of American cultural and economic life.

And so I think members all agree with those principles, and then it becomes a more practical exercise in figuring out how best to achieve them.

Q What about the hard-nosed politics here? Isn't the reality that, given Iraq and a litany of other issues that the President is unpopular with his own party on, that for Republicans who are already skeptical, at the very least, about this, it makes more sense for them to vote against the President then to vote with him?

MR. SNOW: I'm not sure. Are you telling -- I don't think so, because here you have a bill where the law enforcement provisions are significantly -- border security is significantly tougher than the status quo. When it comes to tracking down who is here illegally, significantly tougher and more credible than the status quo. When it comes to punishing employers who knowingly hire illegals, by many orders of magnitude, tougher than the status quo.

So conservatives -- I think again, for a lot of Republicans, the first thing is, what are you going to do on border security? And our view is, don't trust us, verify. The way the bill is written says that you have to deploy on the border 370 miles of fence, more than 200 miles of vehicle barriers. The fact is, these numbers are changing in the course of debate, and I think they've been strengthened during the course of debate. So what you're going to have is a certain demonstrated commitment on border security that is -- that will be credible.

Furthermore, there's a proposal by Senators Kyl and Graham that would take all the fees and collections made in the course of this legislation, set it aside basically into a fund that could be used only for border enforcement. There you have a mandatory spending program, where the money flows directly into enforcement, and you have a continuous commitment in terms of funding to keeping your vigilance on the border. So I think those are the kinds of things that members are going to want to hear.

Q Tony, I'm sure you've done your head counting on this. Does the President see an equal threat from Democratic senators who don't want to see this bill passed as he does from --

MR. SNOW: Again, I remind you, Bret, that on the major provisions it got 60-plus votes. This is one of those things where you do have members of both parties -- a lot of folks in labor have been opposing the legislation. But on the other hand, the American people -- here we've had this debate for a year, where everybody says, it is a huge problem, we must deal with it. Well, if you must deal with it, deal with it. And we've laid out principles that I think people generally agree with. So as a practical exercise, if you have better ideas, bring them to the table.

You've got to keep in mind also, that after you have a Senate bill, if and when it passes, then you go and have another debate in the House. Then you have conference. So there are going to be many opportunities for people to express their views and to do what they see necessary and fit to improve the legislation. But the one thing that seems to be incumbent is, having identified this as a significant problem, we need to deal with it.

Q You said the President is going to be talking about the amendments today up on the Hill. One of the amendments that squeaked through was this sunsetting of the temporary guest worker program, which a lot of people, namely business leaders, have a problem with.

MR. SNOW: Well, again, we understand that -- the legislative process is what it is. It's not over yet. And at this point, I think what the President is going to be doing is listening to and talking with members of the caucus and the policy committee, just to try and get their feel, and also to let them know exactly how we're approaching the measure.

Q Tony, two questions, one on immigration. Do you think it was a setback for the President because he was hoping -- millions of people were depending on the President to get this immigration bill through, and also small businesses? Do you think today when he tells on the Hill he can convince the senators that this is a good bill and --

MR. SNOW: Again, let me -- Goyal, let me correct a misperception because not everybody who voted against cloture was opposed to the bill. Many of those who voted against cloture voted not to shut down debate because they wanted more debate. There were more amendments to be considered.

If you go back to the example of last year, last year we had a very similar situation where you had cloture invoked early in the minds of some, cloture failed and, therefore, it was set aside. And then they brought it back, they debated amendments, they got a bill passed. And I think what you're likely to see is Republicans hobbling together and saying, okay, what are the key amendments that we think need to be offered in the context of a debate so that we could do as much as we can to make this a better bill? Those will, we hope, be brought up, debated on the floor, and we feel pretty confident, if you've got a situation like that, you're going to be able to go ahead and bring it to a final vote.

So it's important to understand that there's a big procedural element to what happened last week. Senate Majority Leader Reid decided that he did not want to entertain additional amendments at that time, and a number of Republicans thought that it was appropriate to do so. We seem to be getting signals that now he would be open to having amendments considered and, therefore, it would be appropriate for him to bring it back up on the floor and to go ahead and debate those amendments and get the vote.

Q Second, another question. Modern-day celebrity was the theme of Secretary of State's Condoleezza Rice's talk on human trafficking at the State Department this morning. And a disturbing report was that India was also among the -- human slavery is inside India. Is President aware of this report on human trafficking --

MR. SNOW: This is an annual report, Goyal, and frankly, you were at the briefing; any questions that you probably needed answers for would be answered there. I have not seen the report.

Q Is there any room for more compromise on the immigration thing, or does the President just view his job as one of persuasion? Because some of the Republicans don't sound like they're persuaded.

MR. SNOW: Well, some of the Democrats don't sound like -- again, Tom, I will repeat to you, the key provisions have the support of more than 60 members of the Senate. What the President is trying to do is to work constructively with both sides to try to get a bill that's going to deal with a problem that's been 21 years in the coming, and has led to 12 million now being on our shores illegally. By the way, roughly 40 percent of them came here legally, and there are visa over-stays, and so on. But having said that, you need to deal with it.

So, I mean, at this particular point, you take a look at what's going on. There has been compromise already on the floor of the Senate, and there will be. That's the way the legislative process works. The President has laid down general principles that he thinks are essential; they have been embodied in the legislation. But he's certainly not averse to people coming up with what they think are better ideas for achieving those aims.

Q Have you been in contact with Reid's office? Because he seemed to be indicating that he wouldn't bring it up again for a while if he didn't have the votes to get past cloture.

MR. SNOW: Well, again, there is certainly continuous contact with Majority Leader Reid's office, as well as others on the Hill.

Q Since immigration is the safety valve for Mexico, are there any commitments from Mexico to -- or negotiations to cut down on the flow of immigrants?

MR. SNOW: Well, those were topics of conversations while the President was in Mexico earlier this year. They continue to be the subject of Cabinet-level conversations between the two governments. But it's not simply limited to that. You also have the issue of economic development within Mexico, dealing with issues of drug trafficking and, in some cases, human trafficking. So, yes, those continue to be the topic and focus of joint efforts between the two governments.

Q Well, what clout do we have with Mexico?

MR. SNOW: Well, keep in mind, what we're talking about is a program where if you build credible border security -- and, incidently, border crossings have been going down for six straight years, almost seven straight years. So the number of border crossings have been going down. We have seen that enforcement has paid dividends, by some estimates as many -- the attempted crossings have dropped as much as a quarter in the past year because we've beefed up the presence on the border.

So really the question here is, how do you build a credible program that provides border security and also still creates an orderly flow of workers through a temporary worker program so you don't get the same situation where folks are being hauled in illegally, using coyotes and others who engage in human trafficking, and also, how do you make it much more difficult for people to cheat? The old system --

Q Are we doing anything with the Mexican government to help them improve their development and --

MR. SNOW: Yes, as a matter of -- again, that has been a focus of conversation with the President. The President -- not only with the government of Mexico, but on our South American trip and Central American trip, we talked a great deal about regional development. It's one of the reasons why the President continues -- we've had a series of free trade agreements and some are now pending before Congress -- where we think that one of the most important things we can do is to help develop prosperity within the region so that they not only have greater stability, but also prosperity for all the countries.

Q The President has said he didn't want to do immigration piecemeal, but it appears that those that oppose the bill that have a substantial amount of clout want security first, even though those elements were in the bill. Will the President at some point say, okay, we'll just do the security piece now and come back --

MR. SNOW: Well, again -- how many times do I have to say, the key elements already have overwhelming support? I don't think that it's going to be necessary to do that. But furthermore, as you just mentioned, the bill says, before you go forward with a temporary worker program, for instance, you have to have specified benchmarks. These are not make-believe benchmarks -- hundreds of miles of fence, hundreds of miles of vehicle barriers, thousands of sensors, at least a doubling of the Border Patrol, unmanned aerial vehicles, radar sites, road improvements so that you can get to impassable areas much more quickly. That's all there.

Q Let me be more direct. Would the President slice off the guest worker program and just accept --

MR. SNOW: We are not engaging in debates against ourselves. And, again, if you take a look at what's been going on in the Senate, it looks like there's a pretty strong consensus for doing it all. You got to keep in mind that if you do not -- all these pieces are linked together. For instance, you are not going to have credible control of the borders if you don't know who's here illegally in the first place; and furthermore, you don't have a device, some sort of way of identifying those who cross the border so that you can deport those who make an illegal crossing; you do not have an enforcement mechanism against employers unless you've got a tamper-proof ID that that employer has to be able to ascertain the citizenship status of everybody who's working for the company. That didn't exist in the past. So if you try to lop off pieces, what you end up doing is lopping off some of the things that are going to be necessary to have that credible border security.

Q Finally, was the President's watch lifted in Albania off his wrist?

MR. SNOW: No, it was not. It was placed in his pocket, and I believe your network has actually looked through the tape carefully and has ascertained the same. But, no, the President put it in his pocket, and it returned safely home.

Q Tony, can I follow up on that? Was it -- you've seen the pictures in Albania; it was quite a reception. Was the Secret Service -- were all procedures followed? Were you worried at any point that it was getting a little dangerous as he waited --

MR. SNOW: I was not there, and I have heard -- look, what the President -- it's interesting. So your story is, well, we're worried about, or concerned about the President's safety. And what you had was an example of what happens when captive nations come free, and they understand the role that the United States has played over the decades, sometimes taking unpopular moves, whether you go back to taking a look at missile deployments in Europe, or pursuing a strategic defense initiative at a time when it was unpopular in Europe, but, in fact, became the bulwark of bringing down a Communist empire and liberating countries like Albania and Bulgaria, where people are euphoric because we helped make them free.

Q I'm not questioning the passions or the euphoria. The President's head was in a guy's arm, and it looked like if it was the wrong guy, they could have had a problem.

MR. SNOW: Well, you know what? If there was a problem, Secret Service would have dealt with it, trust me.

Q Tony, back on immigration.

Q Did we get that kind of reception -- (laughter.)

MR. SNOW: A little noogie action. (Laughter.)

Q Back on immigration. If the immigration reform plan fails, who bears the responsibility? And are you concerned that Democrats -- specifically, the letter from Harry Reid that tells the President, you have to come up with the votes or this won't make it -- do you think the Democrats are laying the groundwork to blame the President for not --

MR. SNOW: You know what? Again, the American people are going to want to ask, after everybody says, this is an important issue, why didn't you deal with it -- we feel confident we're going to get a vote. Therefore, I'm not going to answer a premise that I don't think is legitimate on this.

What I would say is, what will you say when it succeeds? I hope you will say, this is an example of firm presidential leadership on an issue of overwhelming national concern that deals with our security, our economy, and our culture, and demonstrates that when you stick to it and you work hard, you can do very big and important pieces of legislation, even at a time of very divided and sometimes tense politics at home.

Q But that hypothetical, if it succeeds, then what if it fails -- what's the hypothetical here?

MR. SNOW: Well, I'm telling you, we think we've got the votes to get cloture and we think that this bill is going to get a vote on the Senate floor.

Q Tony, who is harmed if Ali al-Mari is either deported, held as a material witness, or charged with a crime?

MR. SNOW: That is not the issue that was before the court. The issue is whether, in fact, you have the ability to detain enemy combatants. The United States Supreme Court said, yes, in the Hamdi case. A federal -- U.S. district court of appeals said, yes, in the Padilla case. And we have asked for an en banc hearing before the 4th U.S. Circuit in the al-Mari case because we think that court precedent supports the position that we have had when it comes to detainees.

Furthermore, that has been a longstanding practice within the United States, over decades, and, therefore, it's not a question of harm; the question is, do you, in fact, have reason to hold somebody, detain somebody as an enemy combatant. Well, let's see -- what was not challenged during the court proceedings was the fact that he had been dealing with Khalid Sheikh Muhammad in 2001. So he's dealing in 2001 with a man who masterminded the September 11th attacks. Apparently, he was part of a cell designed to try to wreak havoc on U.S. financial institutions, somebody who clearly is an enemy combatant.

Some of the issues that were before the court -- this particular panel, this three-judge panel decided that you could not hold him as an enemy combatant because al Qaeda, itself, was not a nation state. We don't think that that is going to withstand further scrutiny, but we'll have to see. Again, we hope that it would be heard en banc, but the court will have to decide.

Q What about just getting him a lawyer and putting him on trial?

MR. SNOW: Because, once again, there are procedures and precedents that we think are appropriate for this situation.

Q But how does that hurt anybody, to just put him on trial? If he has done these things, just put him on trial.

MR. SNOW: Well, again, I'm not going to try to gainsay what has been the security decision of this administration.

Q Just to follow on that, I mean, the President has taken a few legal hits recently on the treatment of prisoners taken in the war on terrorism. How is the President continuing to justify these policies, plus the continued existence of the Guantanamo prison in the face of this almost unanimous criticism abroad, and increasing at home?

MR. SNOW: Well, I would say -- not unanimous -- let's go to Guantanamo. You have had a number of congressional delegations that go down there, they take a look at it, and say, these guys are being treated fairly. You have the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is there constantly and that is constantly monitoring. You have guys who have three square meals a day in keeping with religious traditions, their religious traditions are honored, they are supplied with Korans, prayer mats and other things if they so desire.

In point of fact, it is unpopular -- a lot of people have criticized it because they don't like the idea of having a detention facility for those who are plucked off the battlefields and trying to kill Americans. Nevertheless --

Q Why haven't they been charged?

MR. SNOW: Nevertheless, what we have tried to do is to repatriate as many as possible. Their home countries think that these guys are so dangerous that they don't want them back.

So what I would suggest is, rather than trying to lump in criticisms that come in, take a look at the factual record, and also take a look at what members of Congress have seen and said and reported, or journalists. I don't know if anybody in this room has been there, but a number of -- certainly more than a hundred journalists have been down to Guantanamo to see it.

Having said that, the President doesn't want Guantanamo open any longer than it has to be. He's said many times that he'd like to have it closed. But on the other hand, you have extraordinarily dangerous killers that he does not feel -- that it's not appropriate to put on American shores. There is a legal process for dealing with them that is being pursued, and it is pursued in a way that respects their rights, and at the same time, respects the President's obligations of keeping this country safe.

Q But doesn't the indefinite holding of this many prisoners under these circumstances really undercut the President's arguments in favor of democracy worldwide, as he just spoke about in his speech --

MR. SNOW: How does it do that?

Q That's what I'm asking you.

MR. SNOW: No, the question doesn't make sense to me. How does that happen?

Q By not having due process for every --

MR. SNOW: Are you saying that detaining people who are plucked off the battlefields is an assault on democracy? Are you kidding me? You're talking about the people who were responsible for supporting the Taliban, somehow detaining them is an assault on democracy?

Q And not charging them --

Q Yes. You're getting quite a bit of criticism internationally, as well as domestically on the issue of holding people indefinitely without charge. Are you denying that's the case?

MR. SNOW: No, many have been held, but many also are now being processed through the system. What I just thought was peculiar is that you have people who waged active warfare against democracy and you think detaining them somehow is an assault on democracy.

Q I asked you about the procedures and situation in which they're held --

MR. SNOW: The procedures are those that have -- again, if you take a look at the civil liberty protections in there, they're extensive, and they've been debated before Congress. If you want to give -- if you want to give a platform to folks who belong to organizations that either are not housed in the United States or feel perfectly free to criticize, without having taken a careful look at the precautions, or, in many cases, for instance, in Guantanamo, refuse to come, refuse the invitation to do a full investigation -- well, fine, you may give them that platform. But the question I would ask is, will you not also, then, when you are evaluating these, number one, figure out who was there; number two, take a look at the history of warfare and how these situations have been handled, you will find great consistency over the years; and number three, take a look at the actual record in terms of how these folks are treated, then get back to us on it.

Q Can I follow on that, Tony? Guantanamo, so far only three people have been charged, and the military commission has thrown out two of those charges.

MR. SNOW: Right.

Q They're on appeal, as you know.

MR. SNOW: Right.

Q Everybody else is an enemy combatant down there, whether he's described ultimately as unlawful, or not. According to the folks down at Guantanamo -- and you said it yourself that this is a question of warfare -- they're being held until the end, presumably, of the war on terror. How on earth do you get to the end of the war on terror and ultimately release these people?

MR. SNOW: Number one, you're assuming that nobody gets released, and as you know, in fact, the number of people being detained at Guantanamo has been slowly going down; more than 100 have been returned. So you have a significant reduction, and we continue to try as best we can to repatriate folks. So don't make the assumption that it is a totally static situation.

Number two, it has been the case, in the role of warfare, that, in fact, you can hold enemy combatants during the course of hostilities. Having said that, we'd be perfectly happy to return all those that we can.

Now, keep in mind, one of the conditions is, when you return them, they have to be returned to a nation that will, in fact, respect their human rights and their civil rights in the disposition of these cases. So that is also one of the conditions, and sometimes those conditions are not met.

Q But can I just follow on that? How do you declare an end to the war on terror?

MR. SNOW: I don't know.

Q Tony, I wanted to revisit the Putin missile proposal again.

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q Just for the record, are you, at this point, looking for ways to make it work, or are you looking for ways to reject it and save face? (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: We would save face? I see. No, what we're looking for is a way to have a missile defense that will protect Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia, anybody else, from the now acknowledged threat the Iran or others may develop the capability of firing missiles. The question is, how do you come up with the best proposal? And what we now have is a basis of conversation.

As you know, the implication was before the G8 that Russia was adamantly opposed to any kind of defense -- it turns out that it's not. We look at that as a constructive step forward. And, frankly, we don't look at this as gamesmanship; we look at this as trying to come up with a constructive exercise to come up with the best system to keep everybody safe.

Q Thank you. As I said, it was just for the record, to reconfirm that.

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q My other question is about response from your partners both in the trip that the President has just taken, and maybe outside -- responses coming to the White House internationally, and maybe even domestically, as to how you should treat this proposal.

MR. SNOW: I'm not sure we're sitting around sort of looking through all the emails. I mean, what's happening instead is that we're having consultations both at the ministerial level and the National Security Advisor level. And President Putin will be in Kennebunkport with the President in just about a week and a half, so we're going to have an opportunity once again for the two of them to sit down.

Look, it's important to get this right. It is important to develop missile defense so that you provide an active not only defense against those who might try to use ballistic missiles to destabilize Europe, but also as a way of raising the cost to the point that they cannot afford to continue any efforts along those routes. So the fact is -- well, I'm sorry, go ahead.

Q What I meant, though, was like what did he hear from the Poles, the Bulgarians -- the Bulgarians came out and said that they're happy about it.

MR. SNOW: Yes. Again, you'll have to go and look at their public statements. I don't know.

Q Do you know whether it will work, technically, to put it there?

MR. SNOW: I think at this point they're still working on technical aspects. It's not a turnkey operation where tomorrow you could put it out. So you still have an emerging technology that's being tested. If somebody were to say, can you put it out tomorrow, the answer is, no.

Q The trajectory -- and you can figure out those calculations pretty quickly. You've had a week. I mean, can you actually put it there and defend space as you wanted to --

MR. SNOW: I am not going to try to get up here -- I would suggest you call the Pentagon if you're trying to get technical.

Q Thank you, Tony. Two questions. The New York Times reported -- and this is a quote -- "The legislation sparked a furious rebellion among many Republicans and even some Democratic voters who were linked by the Internet and encouraged by radio talk show hosts," while The Washington Post reported, "Bush has not been able to break through vehement opposition from grassroots conservatives which was stoked by conservative talk radio." And my question: Do these conclusions by both The New York Times and The Washington Post suggest to the President and his chief media advisor that it would be wise for him to appear on more talk radio, and less of that junior electronic medium, television?

MR. SNOW: You're talking to a guy who does talk radio almost every day.

Q But the President doesn't.

MR. SNOW: But I'll let the President handle his own schedule. The fact is that we have had a debate that is really -- look, this is how democracies work. And people have expressed their disagreements. The President also understands that maybe the most important thing to do is step back and take an actual look at things, because there have been a number of things that have been reported about the proposal that aren't true.

So our view is, let people take a long and careful look. As I said before, verify it. When it comes to border security, take a look at what we propose. When it comes to the principles that we've embodied -- security first, make sure that you restore the rule of law, make citizenship mean something -- those are something conservatives agree on. And I think that there are basic principles on which conservatives and liberals can agree on this, and that provides a basis for moving forward.

Q Second, Senator Lieberman said that the U.S. should be prepared to take, "aggressive military action against Iran." And my question: Does the President disagree with the idea of a preemptive military strike on Iran, which continues its attempt to produce nuclear bombs, or does he agree with President Truman's preemptive A-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

MR. SNOW: I'm not sure that the President is going to go back and hand out grades to Harry Truman, other than to note that he was somebody who had to make tough decisions in difficult times.

What the President has always said is, when it comes to Iran, we want to bring international pressure to bear, so that we do not get to the point where we have to worry about a nuclear Iran, especially one that may have the capability to place nuclear warheads on a theater or intercontinental ballistic missile, and therefore, jeopardize the stability of the region in, in fact, not only the Middle East, but also Europe and Asia.

So at this juncture, that is really where our efforts lie. When it comes to any other things, those are sheer speculation. What the President will do is what he considers absolutely necessary to keep this country and its people safe.

Q Thanks.

MR. SNOW: All right, thanks.

END 11:37 A.M. EDT

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