Well, obsessives, we’re stuck with back-bencher Gordon Johndroe again as the gaggle arrives in Crawford.
Just So You Know The President Has His Priorities In Order
Q Anything else on the President’s day? You talked about his morning briefings. But anything later today, how he’s going to spend the day?
MR. JOHNDROE: Yes, let’s see, morning briefings, secure video conference with Prime Minister Blair, bike ride —
Q Phone call or video conference?
MR. JOHNDROE: Secure video conference, bike ride, spending time with Mrs. Bush. His parents arrive tomorrow at lunch, and they’ll be spending Easter weekend there at the ranch as they often do.
There’s Sovereignty And Then There’s Sovereignty
Q Gordon, Zebari says that Iraq has been — Iraq’s government has been asking the United States for quite some time to release the Iranians who are held in the raid a couple months ago — said that the Americans are just not complying. If Iraq is a sovereign government and we’re just there at their invitation, why aren’t we releasing those Iranians at their request?
MR. JOHNDROE: We certainly work hand-in-hand with the Iraqis on the security issues in Iraq. Right now it’s our position that those detained were there engaged in actions that led to the deaths of innocent Iraqis, as well as Americans. So that’s an ongoing process. We’ll continue our discussions with the Iraqis on that.
Q What are the prospects for releasing those five Iranians being held by U.S. forces?
MR. JOHNDROE: Well, that’s an ongoing process. We’re going to work that with the Iraqis to see what the next steps are, determining what course of justice should be carried out to deal with — to deal with, frankly, what we believe were activities harmful to innocent Iraqis, as well as coalition forces.
Q And they’re believed to be responsible for supplying IEDs in Iraq? Or what charges are they being held under?
MR. JOHNDROE: You know, for any specifics like that I would have to refer you to — multinational forces Iraq.
This One Left A Mark
Q As opposed to the subtly political. What lessons does the administration take from the way the British handled this crisis? In other words, some are suggesting that because the Blair government was calm and not given to hysterical rhetoric and worked behind the scenes, that they were more successful than some cowboy diplomacy that might be tried elsewhere. (Laughter.)
Q Can you repeat the question?
Q I am in Texas, right?
MR. JOHNDROE: I think the question is clearly already in the record. We are pleased that there was a successful outcome to this situation. But I think I would point to the real outlier here, and that’s Iran, and Iran’s behavior.
Dick Cheney Was on Rush Limpbaugh’s Show Today, Where He Agreed With Rush That The Senate Judiciary Committee Was “Stalinist” For Opposing Sam Fox’s Ambassadorship
Q Thank you, Gordon. On Sam Fox, some Democrats are saying that he can be denied pay because it’s a recess appointment. Is he prepared to do the job for free, or are you guys aware of that? What’s your take?
MR. JOHNDROE: I think the State Department has something on that about his willingness to — on his compensation. But I’d refer you to the State Department specifically, because they’re the ones who handle that — the finances of that position.
Q Gordon, does the President see recess appointments as a way of circumventing Senate opposition to his nominees?
MR. JOHNDROE: I think the President views recess appointments as an appropriate way to get people who are qualified into jobs that need to be filled. And it’s a process that’s been used many times over the years for people whose nominations have lingered or have been stopped for various reasons.
Q Well, on the Sam Fox case, on the day that the Foreign Relations Committee was going to put it to a vote, the President withdrew the nomination, and then a week later he recess appoints Sam Fox to that very same post. Now you’ve got some Democrats in the Senate calling it an abuse of the recess appointment authority.
MR. JOHNDROE: Well, I, of course, certainly would disagree with that. It’s certainly a presidential prerogative. But I think it was clear that people were putting the politics over the policy of needing to get an ambassador into Brussels. And so the President took his action there to get our ambassador in place — a qualified individual.
Q Are you saying that the Senate Committee would have denied his nomination and it was all political, or do you think there are some other reasons why they might have denied him?
MR. JOHNDROE: Far be it for me to say why various members of the Committee would or would not deny Mr. Fox the ability to serve in the position. But the bottom line is, he’s qualified for the position, the position needed to be filled.
No Press Releases On Issa, However
Q Republican Congressman Darrell Issa met in Damascus with Syria’s President. Does the White House have a comment on that?
MR. JOHNDROE: I think the administration’s position on members of Congress, Democrat or Republican, is very clear: We do not think it’s productive; we do not think it is useful; we do not think it is helpful.