I’m back, and so isDana Peroxide.
Helen Checks Dana’s List
Q This begins President Bush’s final year in the White House. What would you say are his most important goals, his priorities, the things on his “must-do” list before he leaves the White House?
MS. PERINO: Well, there’s a few things that we need to do with Congress on… the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act — the FISA bill… No Child Left Behind reauthorization… modernizing the Federal Housing Administration… we have free trade agreements that are on the table, including South Korea, Colombia, and Peru…
MS. PERINO: Helen.
Q It’s missing in your whole category of goals for his last year in office — peace in Iraq.
MS. PERINO: I should have mentioned, of course — my list was not considered exhaustive as I ticked it off of the top of my head. Clearly, the work that we’ve done in Iraq over the past year has helped improve the security situation in Iraq and — but that peace is — not peace, that security is fragile, and the President will look to General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, who will report later this spring to him on what next steps they think should take place in Iraq.
Lebanon Ain’t Pakistan
Q Just a follow-up on this point, though. The Bush administration pushed heavily for an international investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri in Lebanon, but is not doing so in the case of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, and I wonder what criteria are guiding these very different decisions.
MS. PERINO: James, just now several — just a couple of hours ago, President Musharraf announced that they had asked — he had asked Prime Minister Gordon Brown for help; that Scotland Yard would be participating and doing the — leading the investigation. We support that decision and we think it was the right one.
Q What I’m asking is why the administration is not pushing for an international tribunal of the sort it did push very heavily for in the case of Rafiq Hariri.
MS. PERINO: I think that Scotland Yard being in the lead in this investigation is appropriate and necessary.* And I don’t see — we don’t see a need for an investigation beyond that at this time.
The Ever-Helpful Footnote Gnomes Say…
* The Pakistani government has asked Scotland Yard to assist them in this investigation. The Government of Pakistan is in the lead.