TheAssministration Has No Clue About How To Respond To Pakistan
Q Are you seeing any signs that the administration strategy towards dealing with this crisis [in Pakistan] is working?
MS. PERINO: I think there have been some positive signs. For example, the President said that there would be elections. He did say he would take off the uniform. He did say the emergency order would be lifted; he just has not said when. And we continue to work with Pakistan.
Q The administration has been urging Bhutto to work with Musharraf, for the two of them to cooperate and talk. Is it a major setback that she now says she will not work with him because she can’t trust anything he says?
MS. PERINO: I think, John, that the situation evolves by the hour, as you’ve been covering it over the last 10 days, but since the state of emergency has been put in place. There are developments frequently. And obviously the tensions are very high, and we understand the — that people, when they have feelings, that people express them, and we would hope that people would be able to work together in Pakistan. We’ll just have to wait and see. The situation on the ground is evolving very rapidly.
“The President does not have second thoughts.” – Dana Peroxide, Sep. 28, 2007.
Q Dana, ten days into this, what kind of damage has been done to the relationship between President Bush and President Musharraf?
MS. PERINO: The President doesn’t take this personally. The President believes that it’s incumbent upon him as the Commander-in-Chief of the United States to work with a fellow leader in order to help them along the path to democracy. He feels an obligation to work with them and not to just try to — to throw up our hands and to walk away.
Q Maybe not personally, but certainly he’s welcomed President Musharraf here before; he spoke positively about President Musharraf. And I would think that what President Musharraf has been doing certainly would cause the President to rethink his judgment about him.
MS. PERINO: The President — ever since September 11th, when the President then started working with President Musharraf in order to fight extremists, has appreciated the work that they’ve done to help us in cooperative efforts to go out against the Taliban and al Qaeda. They’ve captured hundreds — captured or killed hundreds of terrorists that were planning to hurt Americans or hurt innocent Pakistanis.
Our challenge now is to effectively support the Pakistani people, and this is — the President is committed to helping them strengthen the influence of the moderate influences in the country, to help bring them along and back to the state of democracy that they enjoyed before, and to establish more in regards to education reform, health care reform. The President feels an obligation to help bring them back to democracy, and he doesn’t take it personally.
Q Whatever admiration he had of President Musharraf based on the President — the Pakistani President’s commitment to the war on terror, has that been mitigated, diminished? Is it in some way smaller?
MS. PERINO: I think the President is focused at the task at hand, which is helping them get back on the road to democracy, not on his personal feelings about it.
Fire Mary Cheney!
Q I have a question on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Why does the President threaten to veto a bill that would solely extend Title VII jobs discrimination protections to individuals based on sexual orientation?
MS. PERINO: It’s been a while since I reviewed that statement of administration position, so can we get right back to you?
Q Well, I have a follow-up. In terms of — well, in terms of the argument about the sanctity of marriage and this bill, it’s directed — the bill is directed solely at employment and extending the same employment rights to people that are — based on sexual orientation as it does to anyone protected based on gender, race, or religion. So again, why is the President opposed and threatening a veto?
MS. PERINO: I’m going to give you the short answer, Paula, which is we’ll get back to you. Let me review that SAP again.
Dana Says A Vast Majority Of Americans Are Members Of “Radical Groups”
Q Yes, back to the Iraq funding bill, Dana. The legislation that I gather is going to pass this afternoon does not have a binding deadline in it; it’s a goal, it sets a goal. The President has said he would like to bring U.S. troops home. And it’s also —
MS. PERINO: And actually, the troops are coming — are starting to come home.
Q Well, and that’s — that was the other part of it. So why would you veto something that’s basically what he is already doing?
MS. PERINO: As I understand it, there is an — the way we read it, there is an arbitrary date for withdrawal. And I would remind you that it was Senator Reid yesterday who said that if the President doesn’t go along with this, then he’s not going to get his money. This is not money for the President, this is money for the troops. And we are urging Congress not to play political games. Think about it — they only have approximately nine legislative days left in their calendar in order to get all of this work done. And I think that I have a slide here. I’ve had this up here before; I’m going to show you again. There are 12 appropriations bills. They sent one to the President that he signed yesterday, and one that he vetoed. I don’t know how many days have passed, legislative days have passed this past year, but they only have nine working days left, and it is unlikely that they’ll be able to get all of this work done before that deadline.
Q And by “appeasing radical groups,” are you talking about MoveOn.org, et cetera? Or are you talking about the large numbers of Americans who tell interviewers and pollsters that they would like troops home as soon as possible?
MS. PERINO: I am talking about MoveOn.org and CODEPINK, in particular.
It’s Time For DanaDon’tKnowapalooza!
Q There’s a report in The New York Times today that indicates investigators are finding 14 of the 17 people killed in the September 16th shootings involving Blackwater were killed in violation of procedures for private security firms. Is the President troubled by this, and has he instructed Attorney General Mukasey to quickly get to the bottom of this?
MS. PERINO: Given that this investigation is still underway, even though there was a report in a newspaper, I am not able to comment on it.
Q Does the Attorney General have anything to do with the President authorizing the investigation into the, I think, the warrantless wiretapping program?
MS. PERINO: This is going to be the same answer, which is there’s an ongoing investigation there and I’m not going to comment on that either.
Q The question was about the security clearance that the President had to grant or not grant. Are you not able to tell us whether he had changed his mind, and if not, why?
MS. PERINO: Well, obviously they have their security — he’s being cleared into the program now, but there’s nothing more I can say about it.
Q You can’t say why he changed his mind?
MS. PERINO: I cannot.