In Today’sGaggle Dana Blames The Katrina Victims — Because They Were Warned
Q Dana, the fact that the President will be on the ground tomorrow in southern California, how much is that a reflection of lessons learned by the White House that — from Katrina that even though the President may be engaged behind the scenes, there’s a need — the public wants to see him more involved?
MS. PERINO: Remember — we’ve gone — these fires are not the same disaster that we had in Katrina. There’s so many differences. Katrina wiped out 90,000 square miles of the United States, and there was no electricity, there was no sewer system. And they knew for days that the storm was coming. This is just a very different situation.
Dana Says It’s Irresponsible To Make Any Predictions About The Cost Of Chimpy’s Vanity War
Q Dana, I wanted to ask you about the CBO estimate for the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan. Why is that $2.4 trillion figure wrong?
MS. PERINO: Well, part of it is that when you start having all — just a ton of speculation. It’s a hypothetical that was created based on questions that Democrats in Congress who don’t want us to be in the war asked the Congressional Budget Office to provide. Our force structure in Iraq and Afghanistan has fluctuated. Already this year, the President said that 5,700 troops would come home by December. We don’t know what the costs are going to be over the years, and so because that fluctuates, it’s just wildly premature to put out a number like that.
Q Okay, so what might be a more reasonable estimate? I’m sure folks at OMB have their own counter.
MS. PERINO: Look, spending to fight the global war on terror is an investment in our security and it is something that the President is committed to prioritizing in the budget. We hope that Congress would agree. We don’t know how much the war is going to cost in the future.
Q If you can say it’s inaccurate and others can say it’s wildly inaccurate, surely there must be some kind of quantifiable sense as to what this —
MS. PERINO: I think what they looked at 10 years ago — the answer is we just don’t operate that way in terms of providing a federal budget.
“We Just Don’t Operate That Way In Terms Of Providing A Federal Budget”? Oh Yes You Do!
Q Can you just explain why the administration takes issue with the CBO’s projections of the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it’s perfectly reasonable to put out — OMB puts out a five-, 10-year budget deficit projections?
MS. PERINO: Well, remember the budget deficit projections include our war costs, and so we look at those, that’s a — we do projections for the budget and the deficit every year. That’s a pretty good economic — they have it down to a science over at OMB. We’re not always a nation at war and that is different and there are changing circumstances on the ground, and when you don’t know what the generals are going to need, then you have to wait and see. That’s why we think it’s too speculative to put out a number like CBO did.
Q So how can OMB then put out that five-, 10-year budget projection if they don’t know, for instance, how long the war will go five or 10 years out?
MS. PERINO: As I said, we try to take as many — we take into account the projections that we can. In the budget deficit projections that we have we have included those war costs in the past — I can’t remember — the past, I think five years — I’m sorry, four years, but Sean Kavelighan at OMB can give you more information about it. He was here talking to me about it earlier. We just don’t think that it’s appropriate to wildly speculate and throw out a number like $2.4 trillion that is based on just hypotheticals. It’s just — it’s not a smart way to run a railroad.
Dana Peroxide: Torture Good, Nonviolent Protest Bad
Q Dana, this morning Secretary Rice testified in front of the House Foreign Relations Committee and said that errors were made in the case of Maher Arar — the rendition of Arar to Syria, where he was tortured, and that changes have to be made. Is the White House aware of this? And if so, what sort of changes is the administration thinking of in cases of rendition?
MS. PERINO: I’m not — I didn’t have a chance to see her testimony because I was in the Cabinet Room, so we’ll have to get back to you. And I would also note — I saw a picture from that hearing where a lady in Code Pink with red painted on her hands disrupted the hearing. And I think it’s despicable. And unfortunately, it seems that increasingly Congress is being run by Code Pink. We do thank Chairman Lantos for trying to restore order to that hearing.
Dana Tries To Spin White House Censorship Of The Centers for Disease Control
Q Back on the CDC testimony. You said this morning that Dr. Gerberding’s testimony was not watered down. Can you tell us why it was altered to leave out any discussion of serious health effects relating to global warming, and to leave out her original comment that, “CDC considers climate change a serious public health concern”?
MS. PERINO: Look, I haven’t seen the specific edits. What I can tell you is that she’s giving a speech today at the Atlanta Press Club and she plans to address this issue. Little bit about — take a step back. This administration’s policy on climate change is an open book. There is robust information about where we stand on policy, on the science, on the initiatives, and on the international cooperation that we have initiated under this President.
Q Can you just describe what the problem was? I mean, was it going too far? Were these alarmist —
MS. PERINO: No, I think what it is, is when you take — when you try to summarize what is a very complicated issue and you have many different experts who have a lot of opinions, and you get testimony less than 24 hours before it’s going to be given, you — scientists across the administration were taking a look at it, and there were a decision that she would focus where she is an expert, which is on CDC.
Q But would it have been outside her purview to say that the CDC considers climate change a serious public health concern?
MS. PERINO: No, I think that — she has said that before. And in fact, she just — she was telling us that she has co-authored a — one of the folks there at CDC has just co-authored a major paper that ran in a publication about that very issue. So CDC is on record saying that climate change is a public health concern, and we agree.
Q Back on the CDC, Dana. You said many experts have a lot of opinions. So why wasn’t the Senate committee able to hear Dr. Gerberding’s full opinion? Why were 10 pages of 14 taken out?
MS. PERINO: I disagree, Peter. I think that she was able to give her full opinion, and she will say so, as well. I talked to her — we talked to her today; Tony Fratto did. And she feels that this is being blown out of proportion; that she was able to provide Congress with her thinking and her expertise on this issue.
Q Is it typical for the White House to cut that much of an administration official’s prepared —
MS. PERINO: I don’t look at — what I can tell you, it is typical for us to review testimony that comes across.
Q So some of the senators are asking to see the full, uncut version. Will the CDC supply that to them?
MS. PERINO: Well, I’m sure there will be a request, and we’ll talk to them and we’ll see. I’m not prepared to say whether or not they’ll turn it over.
Q It’s being circulated by some outside groups, doctors groups and so forth, that had access to it beforehand.
MS. PERINO: It’s likely that there will be a request. And I’m not prepared, from this podium, to be able to say whether they’ll turn it over or not.
Q Why wouldn’t they?
MS. PERINO: This is a CDC document, it’s not a White House document.
Q There’s another CDC in that article — another CDC official was saying that the testimony was “eviscerated,” which is pretty — I guess accusing the White House of playing very heavy hands.
MS. PERINO: I understand what they’re accusing us of, but I can — I just reject it.
Q As I’m sure you’re aware, there have been a lot of scientists that have gone before Congress and have said that their testimony has been edited, and that it has been basically — I wouldn’t say eviscerated, but with certain things not included in the testimony —
MS. PERINO: I think you’re — I know of one instance that you’re referring to, Paula, and I will tell you that, once again, it was edited to make sure that it comported and aligned with the science that was provided by our own National Academy of Sciences.
Q One of the issues that was edited was the human factor, the involvement of the human factor in —
MS. PERINO: We are on record — Paula, Paula, that was several years ago, and it was based exactly upon the words — you can take it right there in the black and white from the National Academy of Sciences document, which is what the President asked for and what he accepted when he got it.
And Here We Have Dana Peroxide At The Zenith Of Her Career As An Appologist For The Bush Assministration
Q And one more. You mentioned that there are health benefits to climate change. Could you describe some of those?
MS. PERINO: Sure. In some cases, there are — look, this is an issue where I’m sure lots of people would love to ridicule me when I say this, but it is true that many people die from cold-related deaths every winter. And there are studies that say that climate change in certain areas of the world would help those individuals.
Maliki’s Promises Don’t Mean Shit
Q Dana, Prime Minister Maliki said he’s going to close the PKK offices in Iraq. Prime Minister Maliki made the same promise in September of last year. Why should Turkey trust Prime Minister Maliki on this?
MS. PERINO: I did look into that, Olivier, and we can understand why the Turks would be skeptical, because that pledge was made. It does need to be fulfilled. We’ll be talking to the Iraqis about that, as well.
Les Has Dana Defending Hillary Clinton
Q Thank you, Dana. Two questions: The AP reports from Denver that Senator Clinton said that if elected she would “consider giving up some of the executive powers assumed by President Bush and Vice President Cheney.” And my question: Does the White House know of any such powers assumed by the Bush administration that do not constitutionally belong to the President and the Vice President?
MS. PERINO: I’m not going to comment on her comments. I can refer you to the RNC for those or to her campaign.
Q Therefore, what’s your —
MS. PERINO: The President and the Vice President operate within the Constitution.
Q Therefore, the White House considers this more of candidate Clinton’s sometimes —
MS. PERINO: Okay, that’s it. That’s it. No, moving on.
Q — astonishing rhetoric, wouldn’t you say that?
MS. PERINO: No.
Q You wouldn’t?