I’m SurprisedDana Didn’t Claim She Knows Nothing About Katrina
Q Dana, the aggressive response to the fires, how much of that is done sort of with lessons learned from Katrina?
MS. PERINO: Well, I think that there were lessons learned from Katrina, especially in regards to early communication and coordination between the federal, state, and local governments. Obviously, the situation is different. When you have a hurricane, there are days when you can prepare and prepare for evacuation. These fires can spark up overnight and literally your house is going up in smoke. And so that’s why the President declared the emergency so that we can help people get to a place where they can be safe.
Q Well, when you send Secretary Chertoff out or Director Paulison or you take a minute to show us 280,000 bottles of water, is that designed to make sure folks know that the administration won’t repeat its own mistakes?
MS. PERINO: I would say that it’s not designed to do anything for me to show you that; it’s to alert people to what the federal government is doing in order to help the people of southern California. The whole world is watching how much of the state — the southern part of the state is on fire.
Our National Guard In Iraq
Q Dana, back on the wildfires for a moment. Senator Barbara Boxer, this morning in a hearing, suggested that they’re limited in the amount of National Guard equipment available to them in California because of commitments in Iraq. Specifically she said, “Right now we are down 50 percent in terms of our National Guard equipment because they’re all in Iraq. The equipment — half of the equipment, so we really will need help.” Do you have a response to that?
MS. PERINO: I haven’t heard that specifically. I know that that has been a concern. I think in another natural disaster that I’m — I’m sorry?
Q In Kansas, Greensburg.
MS. PERINO: In Kansas. So obviously this nation — we are a nation at war and when you are a nation at war you have to use assets that are available to you. And sometimes those come from the National Guard. I haven’t heard about those concerns specifically.
Q But does it raise questions, though, about having these National Guard pieces of equipment elsewhere, outside of the state of California, where it was obviously intended to be used?
MS. PERINO: When we are a nation at war there are priorities that you have to make sure that the National Guard units that are serving — that live in California, but are serving right now in Iraq, you want to make sure that they have the equipment that they need in order to protect themselves. And so you have to weigh those priorities.
Helen Works Dana Over — Again
Q Did the President authorize Cheney to threaten Iran with serious consequences — same language that we went into Iraq on?
MS. PERINO: Helen, I don’t believe that the Vice President threatened Iran and I don’t think that he said anything different than what the President —
Q He certainly did —
MS. PERINO: — has said before.
Q — “serious consequences,” same language.
MS. PERINO: The Vice President didn’t say anything different from what the President said before. If you look at the Vice President’s speech, he said, we want to try to solve this diplomatically, but no President is going to take any option off the table. That’s exactly what the President has said before. So it wasn’t different.
Q He also threatened serious consequences. One other question. Is there any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons?
MS. PERINO: Helen, we’ve talked about this before and I’m going to —
Q No, no, no, you’ve never answered it.
MS. PERINO: I know. (Laughter.)
Q How can you threaten a country that may have them, and know that another country does have them?
MS. PERINO: Helen, I’m going to let those countries speak for themselves.
Les Drags The Gaggle Down To His Level
Q Thank you, Dana. Two questions. Yesterday, when the President posthumously awarded our nation’s highest military honor to Navy SEAL Lieutenant Michael Murphy of New York, Senator Schumer of New York was present. But New York’s other U.S. Senator was absent, “campaigning in California,” her office explained. And my question: Does the White House believe that any political campaigning justified this New York candidate for a commander-in-chief of our armed forces being absent from this ceremony for a killed-in-action U.S. Navy hero from New York?
MS. PERINO: Les, I don’t know — look, I don’t know the details surrounding that Senator’s schedule, and I’ll let the people of New York and the people of the military decide that.
Q In other words, your answer is no.