Q You said this morning that you hadn’t had a chance to talk to with the Vice President or his people about what he said to General Musharraf. Have you been briefed on that?
MR. SNOW: Well, actually, what I said, too, is that the precise nature of his comments and the tenor of comments to the President would be the sort of things that would be confidential.
Q Do you think that General Musharraf is keeping his commitments to go after the Taliban —
MR. SNOW: I’d frame it in a different way, he is doing —
Q Well —
MR. SNOW: Well, I’m not sure how exactly one would — the question, “keeping commitments,” it is not something where he lays out goals and timetables, but he is committed, in fact, to trying to defeat al Qaeda.
Q Tony, results matter, as The Times indicated quoting a senior administration official anonymously today. And the bottom line is this administration is only letting Musharraf know that he could lose a very sizeable foreign aid package because he’s not producing. True?
MR. SNOW: Well, the President not so long ago — it was a couple of weeks ago, as a matter of fact — was talking about a number of recent events in which the Pakistanis, in fact, were very helpful in going after the Taliban. And he pointed out that even though there is not a Taliban spring offensive yet, there have been aggressive actions going after terrorists within Pakistan — in one case, some were chased across the Afghan border, there they met with resistance; when they came back into Pakistan they were also met by actions by the Pakistanis.
I’ll let others answer questions about what they think the political atmosphere here is in the United States.
Q If Musharraf — and this is kind of well out on the table — I mean, there’s political difficulties dealing with this part of the border region, this lawlessness — the President describes it as the “Wild West.” There’s been a deal that Musharraf made with some of the tribal leaders there. Why doesn’t the United States military, in concert with its allies, if it thinks that al Qaeda is reconstituting, take direct military action?
MR. SNOW: Well, again, I would leave that — I would let military officials answer a question like that.
Q But why — I’m sorry, just one more. Why dance around so much on this issue when you’re certainly not doing anything to knock down the idea that this administration, this White House, is sending a tough message to the Musharraf government today, correct?
MR. SNOW: Well, no, I just — I’ll let others characterize. We have not been saying it’s a tough message. What we’re saying is, we’re having — the Vice President is meeting with President Musharraf because we do understand the importance of making even greater progress against al Qaeda, against the Taliban. It is important not only for the safety and security of people within Pakistan, but obviously within Afghanistan, as well. And it’s an important element in the larger war on terror.
Q Does the President feel that President Musharraf has been aggressive enough in living up to the commitments that he made?
MR. SNOW: Again, I think — Jim, you act as if — a question like that seems to presume that everything is predictable; you do a certain amount of things, and you’ll get a predictable result. You’re dealing with an unpredictable enemy. President Musharraf certainly has been responding to a changing threat and to changing conditions, and we are going to support him on that. Do we —
Q But the question —
MR. SNOW: No, the question — I’m sorry, then I’ll let you go back at me. I think the appropriate question is, is he doing what he can, is he committed to winning? The answer is, yes.
Q The question is, is the President satisfied?
MR. SNOW: The President — as long as you have terrorists at large in the world, the President is not going to be satisfied. And I daresay President Musharraf is not satisfied.
Q The question is, Dick Cheney —
MR. SNOW: What you’re trying to do — I’m not going to answer a question —
Q I have a very simple question; there’s no trick question to this. The Vice President was in Pakistan, he was meeting with President Musharraf. There are media reports that he was saying, expressing the administration’s dissatisfaction with the way that President Musharraf has conducted incursions or overseen the border regions. Is that the message that the Vice President was delivering?
MR. SNOW: Again, I’m not going to try to convey precisely what the Vice President said. The President made it clear a couple of weeks ago, President Musharraf is committed to winning this, and we are committed to working with him in this war on terror. We’re not going to be — we’re often asked to give out report cards on other heads of state. I’m not going to play.
Q But you give out report cards on Mr. Maliki all the time.
MR. SNOW: Well, no, quite often you guys will ask us, are you satisfied with X, Y, and Z, and we talk about how we’re working with them.
Q Can you talk about the aid — part of the Vice President’s message, I know it was just referred to in David’s question, about the potential for aid being cut off by the U.S. to Pakistan?
MR. SNOW: No, because what you’re speculating about is congressional action. I’m not going to talk about that.
Q Do you believe that Congress is thinking about —
MR. SNOW: No, I’m not going to speculate about that, nor am I going to talk about the tone, tenor, or precise content of what the Vice President had to say to President Musharraf.