Dana Peroxide Gets Helenized
MS. PERINO: Helen.
Q I have two questions on the Middle East. Has the President been in touch with King Abdullah on his critical comments that we’re wrong to be in Iraq?
MS. PERINO: Not that I’m — no. The President only spoke to President Roh this morning, of South Korea. There have been no other calls that I know of.
Let me just remind you of something I said this morning, which is the United States and Saudi Arabia cooperate on a wide number of issues. It is not accurate to say that the United States is occupying Iraq. We are there under —
Q It is not right to say we’re occupying Iraq —
MS. PERINO: That’s right.
Q — with 150,000 troops there?
MS. PERINO: Helen, we are there at the invitation of the sovereign government of Iraq that was democratically elected —
Q Did we invade that country?
MS. PERINO: We were there under the U.N. Security Council resolution, and we are there now at the — I think one of the things to point out — and I think somebody brought up the Talabani comments this morning — is that he was talking about the initial when we — initially when we went in, of establishing a coalition provisional authority, rather than an Iraqi provisional authority. And we were there —
Q Did we have a right to go in?
MS. PERINO: We were there under a U.N. mandate, yes.
Ouch! But It’s Not Over Yet, Dana — More Helen
Q I have another question then. Does the U.S. take any responsibility for the reign of terror in Tal Afar yesterday between the Sunnis and the Shiites, where the Sunnis were killed, execution style, about 70 or so?
MS. PERINO: It was a horrible and atrocious day. I think that the people —
Q Well, do we take any responsibility for that?
MS. PERINO: I think the people who committed those atrocities are the ones who are responsible. And I know that the United States forces, the coalition forces that are there, who are working alongside the Iraqi security forces, are working to bring security to the region.
This is exactly what we’re talking about —
Q We had nothing to do with their killing each other?
MS. PERINO: The people who commit atrocities are the ones who are responsible for committing atrocities.
Q But, Dana, what about the apparent situation where the revenge killings were conducted, at least in part, by Iraqi police officers? We’re talking about Iraqi police actually trained by the United States, by the coalition.
MS. PERINO: I’ve seen parts of those reports. I don’t have a full report in terms of all that happened there. Clearly, it’s very disturbing if there are police officers that people are supposed to be able to trust committing such atrocities. I did hear also a report — and I hesitate to say it because I don’t have all of the facts — but that the Iraqi army went in and tried to help secure the situation. And that’s what we need, is that the Iraqi forces there being able to take over their own security. And if there are problems with the police forces, and clearly this would be one of them — that they need to go in there and purge those individuals from those positions of authority and the positions of trust that the Iraqi citizens should be able to have, and get them out of there, and allow for the peace to take over. And that’s what General Petraeus is working on.
Sounds Like White House Support For Abu G Is Slipping
Q Kyle Sampson testified today, as you know. He said, “I don’t think the Attorney General’s statement that he was not involved in any discussions of U.S. attorney removals was accurate. I remember discussing with him this process of asking certain U.S. attorneys to resign.” What’s the White House reaction to that? Do you feel like Attorney General Gonzales needs to get up to the Hill much more quickly to explain himself?
MS. PERINO: Well, he’s said, as the President has said since we were in Mérida, Mexico, that, yes, the Attorney General has some work to do up on Capitol Hill; that he wasn’t satisfied with incomplete or inconsistent information being provided to Capitol Hill. I personally did not get to see Kyle Sampson’s testimony. I take your word for it that those are his words, but, yes, the Justice Department has work to do. I think that that is underway. The Attorney General has been not only traveling the country talking to the U.S. attorneys offices to let them know that they have his full faith and confidence, and to keep open lines of communication, and talk with them about how to better improve communication within the department.
Q But if this right that the Attorney General actually was involved in the process, which is different from what he has said, would that change the President’s support for him?
MS. PERINO: I think the key to that is “if,” and I know that the Attorney General is going to be testifying in front of Congress, and I think it’s best for me to allow the Attorney General to either explain further today, if they choose to, or to wait for his testimony.
Q But would the President not want to get in touch with him before April 17th and say, what’s the real story here?
MS. PERINO: I will find out if they’re going to talk beforehand. Obviously it’s kind of a long way away, a little bit more than three weeks.
Q It’s a little longer than you want it to hang there, right?
MS. PERINO: Correct, and so I think that we need to — I’ll need to find out if the President is going to talk — be talking to him beforehand. I’m assuming that they probably would, whether it be specifically about this, or in the context of other meetings.
Abu G Can Hang Alone
Q Can you sort of characterize — because this really, this morning, brought into very sharp focus a dispute — I mean, essentially, the Attorney General’s former chief of staff is calling into direct question the crux of what the Attorney General has said about having never had any conversations. He’s counting at least five conversations they’ve had. So how can the Attorney General, in your opinion, continue to be effective if, apparently, he stood up and said something that was categorically false?
MS. PERINO: I’m going to let the Justice Department and the Attorney General speak for himself. And, obviously, I understand how people can have different recollections, and I’m going to have to let the Attorney General speak for himself.
Oh, My — Gonzales Needs To Get His Ass In Gear
Q Back on the Attorney General for a second. Is the White House going to encourage the Attorney General to try to bring some further clarity to this situation before the middle of April when it’s — you’ve got a long stretch of time in front of you where his — you know his public position on his previous statements is not going to be —
MS. PERINO: I would think so, but I’m not — I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you exactly what the Justice Department is going to plan to do in terms of their PR schedule. If we get more on it, we’ll let you know, but I’d refer you over to Justice Department. I agree three weeks is a long time.
Pathetic — Dana Peroxide Doesn’t Know Shit
Q And on the Saudi, are you seeking any — were you surprised by the King’s comments, and are you seeking any clarification?
MS. PERINO: I’m sure that we’re in communication with the Saudis. I don’t know if we’re seeking clarification. In terms of his comments about Iraq, or the other?
Q Yes, about occupation.
MS. PERINO: I don’t have an update for —I don’t know if we’re talking to them.
Q Dana, right before your briefing, Nick Burns came out and said the United States is looking for clarification on that Saudi comment. You have a disagreement about that, a pretty firm one. I assume you don’t agree with the Saudi Foreign Minister saying that Israel basically never wants peace in the region. You have two big breaks — you said the United States and Saudi Arabia are cooperating on a number of issue. We have two major breaks on two major American priorities. How can you give Saudi-American relations a clean bill of health under those circumstances?
MS. PERINO: Well, I think that in any relationship, there is ebbs and flows. We have been close and cooperative with the Saudis, especially in regards to the war on terror, since 9/11. We appreciate those efforts. Clearly, in any type of relationship, especially between powers, when all of us as a world, we’re under a lot of pressure — we all want to see peace in the Middle East, and I certainly — I include Israel in that camp. And we’re going to continue to work hard.I will check on the — what you said where Jonathan Burns of The New York Times is telling us what we’re doing.
Q No, no, Nick Burns.
MS. PERINO: Nick Burns came out.
Q Nick Burns, yes.
MS. PERINO: Nick Burns came out. Oh, I thought you said, Jonathan Burns.
Q Would it be fair, then, to call this one the —
MS. PERINO: Nick Burns would probably know. (Laughter.)
Q So this would be one of ebbs, rather than one of the flows? Is that a fair characterization? (Laughter.)
MS. PERINO: Yes. Go ahead.
Les Has Two Timewasters Today – Here’s Number 1
Q More than half of page two of yesterday’s Washington Post, under the headline, “Defender of the Second Amendment, if Not His Aide,” reports how Senator Webb’s aide Phillip Thompson was held for 28 hours in jail because he inadvertently walked into the Russell Senate Office Building with Senator Webb’s loaded gun and two loaded magazines in his briefcase.
MS. PERINO: And your question is?
Q And my question, you have no doubt in your mind, do you, Dana, that the President would immediately intervene on your behalf, rather than leave you in jail for 28 hours, in the event you inadvertently carried his gun and ammo in a briefcase into the Russell Building? (Laughter.)
And Number 2
Q Vermont’s Senator Leahy, in reference to the firing of eight U.S. attorneys said, “Not since the Saturday night massacre when President Nixon forced the firing of the Watergate prosecutor, Archibald Cox, have we witnessed anything of this magnitude.” Question, does the President believe that Senator Leahy has somehow forgotten how Bill Clinton and Janet Reno fired 93 U.S. attorneys in one day?