Chimpy’s Legacy “Hail Mary”Shot Down At The UN
Q Can you tell us why the U.S. has withdrawn a resolution in the Security Council which praised the Israelis —
MS. PERINO: I checked right before I came out here. That has just happened up at the U.N. The quick answer that I got was that they didn’t think it was a necessary resolution to — in order to get the peace negotiations underway and launched, that was started earlier this week in Annapolis, and that’s all I have for you.
Q Why was it put forward, if it’s not necessary?
MS. PERINO: I don’t have anything on it.
Helen Abuses The “Privilege” Of Being In The Gaggle
Q Does the President want no troops out from Iraq on his watch? I’m talking about all the troops.
MS. PERINO: Well, 5,700 troops will be home by the end of the year, so that is some troops coming home. The President said that troop levels are going to be made by commanders on the ground, and that we’re going to have to talk about —
Q Why should it be? Why can’t the American people have a say?
MS. PERINO: — return on success. The American people have had a say. They elected a President who is their Commander-in-Chief and is making decisions based on what his commanders on the ground are telling him.
Q And you think that was the vote of the American people?
MS. PERINO: They elected a Commander-in-Chief, and the President is bringing home 5,700 troops, based on the recommendations of his commanders on the ground and based on return on success. Hopefully in the future we can bring home more, but it’s going to depend on what General Petraeus reports and remember he will come back in March.
Q Why should we depend on him?
MS. PERINO: Because he is the commander on the ground, Helen. He’s the one who is making sure that the situation is moving —
Q You mean how many more people we kill?
MS. PERINO: Helen, I find it really unfortunate that you use your front row position, bestowed upon you by your colleagues, to make such statements. This is a — it is an honor and a privilege to be in the briefing room, and to suggest that we, at the United States, are killing innocent people is just absurd and very offensive.
Q Do you know how many we have since the start of this war?
MS. PERINO: How many — we are going after the enemy, Helen. To the extent that any innocent Iraqis have been killed, we have expressed regret for it.
Q Oh, regret. It doesn’t bring back a life.
MS. PERINO: Helen, we are in a war zone, and our military works extremely hard to make sure that everyone has the opportunity for liberty and freedom and democracy, and that is exactly what they are doing.
I’m going to move on.
China Plays Chimpy Like A Fiddle
Q And just one other on — any reaction to the word now that a number of ships and even one U.S. aircraft have been denied either port or landing rights in Hong Kong?
MS. PERINO: I’m following the story. Obviously this is something that we’ve been talking about for the past couple of days. DOD will have details, in terms of how many ships or in terms of the incident.
Q Any White House reaction to this?
MS. PERINO: This incident has not prevented us from being able to work with the Chinese. We are two very large countries, very powerful countries. We have a deep and mature relationship. We have open lines of communication, and we are taking advantage of those now so that we can establish better communication, and part of that is going to be establishing this mil-to-mil or military-to-military hotline that the President and President Hu Jintao agreed to when we were at APEC. And so I think that this has underscored a need to get that moving even faster.
Q But we’re not talking about the same story we were talking about several days ago. This is new. They have now banned port calls at Christmas.
MS. PERINO: No, I understand. I understand that. And that’s why I said that we are —
Q If we’re so close to them, how come we haven’t been able to work it out?
MS. PERINO: We are — we’ve been communicating with them, and I am sure that we will be able to work it out with them. But that’s why we are seeking a clarification from the other day. And we are working to make sure that this situation can be resolved.
Q What’s your understanding about why it happened — why it’s happening?
MS. PERINO: Well, what I said the other day was that there was a misunderstanding or a miscommunication — in my mind —
Q But it still said — I mean, this is something new. I mean, if there’s something new here —
MS. PERINO: No, I’m not sure if it all didn’t happen on the same day. I’m not positive.
Q They did not.
MS. PERINO: That’s why I need to check with DOD — in terms of the decision that the Chinese made, when they made those decisions.
Q Well, in terms of their announcing it, it didn’t happen on the same day.
MS. PERINO: I realize that, but there’s a distinction.
Q What do you see as their reason?
MS. PERINO: As I said, Helen, we’ve asked for a clarification.
Q Is there a sense of trying to tone down the rhetoric on this and not be perceived as being too critical of the Chinese in a public setting like this?
MS. PERINO: No, I — what I’m expressing is what the President believes, which is that we have lots of different areas of cooperation with China. We have a complicated relationship in some regards.
Does The President Know Any Real People?
Q Does the President know anybody with AIDS?
MS. PERINO: Of course he does. In fact, he met with one today, “Auntie Bridget,” who was one of the women who was a part of the event today. And remember that he went to Africa in July of 2003. I’m sure there are other people that he’s met with here throughout the years. He’s been in office for seven years. He might have known somebody from beforehand. But he’s certainly been in contact with people with HIV/AIDS. He’s very concerned.
Q I meant whether he personally knew anyone, not whether he’d simply met somebody —
MS. PERINO: I don’t know.