Dana Peroxide Claims Chimpy Will Consult With Congress Before Entering Into A Status Of Forces Agreement With Iraq
Q Dana, there have been a number of questions about the status of forces agreement. And I know you talked about it before, but can you say, if the Iraqi government is going to bring this agreement to the Iraqi parliament, why the administration wouldn’t want to bring and consent with our Congress about this agreement, with a legal framework of setting up the way forward in Iraq?
MS. PERINO: As Ambassador Crocker just said, that the — there are briefings already set up for our members of Congress to hear specifically about the strategic forces agreement. Negotiations are currently underway with the Iraqis. This is to establish a basic framework so that our coalition forces can continue to operate there with a legal framework after the U.N. mandate expires in December.
We’re going to continue to work with Congress. We’ve said that — we’ve been very clear as to what this agreement is and what it is not. And so they’re going to continue to have that. What we have said is that if it reaches the level where it would need Senate ratification as a treaty, then that is the path we would go down. We don’t anticipate that right now.
Q So the Democrats, who are very concerned about this, you believe are mistaken?
MS. PERINO: I do believe they are mistaken, and I think that many of them are playing politics with this issue. And it’s at the expense of our forces. I would assume that they would like our forces to have a legal framework to work under, since all of them have conceded that there are going to be — our troops are going to be in Iraq after this President leaves office. So that is what our aim is.
Dana To Dead American Soldiers: Suck It
Q What effect will the deaths of 11 Americans in Iraq just since this past Sunday have on the immediate future of the U.S. strategy, the President’s thinking about —
MS. PERINO: I don’t know if it would have a change in terms of the overall strategy.
Q Well, it appears from a lot of General Petraeus’s comments so far that he’s not advocating a new strategy on Iraq. So when the President speaks on Thursday, I mean, is there going to be any new component to his strategy on Iraq?
MS. PERINO: Why don’t we wait and see? I think that you’ll — this is way too early for me to preview it, Toby.
Dana To Unemployed Americans: Suck It
Q Some Democrats are saying, though, that even though the first one hasn’t fully kicked in, it did not include extension of unemployment benefits, for example, and that that might be good in a second package. Is that something that the President would consider, extending unemployment benefits?
MS. PERINO: At this point, no, given that the unemployment rate that we have is historically and relatively low at just over 5 percent.
Les Pounds Dana On China And The Olympics
Q Two questions. First, since we presume the President is as devoted to human rights as any world leader, why has he failed to join the President of France, the Chancellor of Germany, and now the Prime Minister of Canada in their announced refusal to appear at China’s Olympic Games?
MS. PERINO: I actually don’t think that they have announced that they are going to do that. I think they announced that they are considering it.
Q It’s been reported that they have.
MS. PERINO: That’s not exactly true, Les. The President’s position on this has been very clear. But the key part of what the President can do as the President of the United States is before, during and after the Olympics, push very hard for increased human rights, press freedoms, and political freedom in China.
Q A follow-up: In New York, attorney Bill Donohoe, who is the President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said yesterday, “China can’t pretend to be religion-friendly while routinely censoring religious liberty. Senator Clinton gets it just right when she urges President Bush to boycott the Opening Ceremony, saying ‘Americans will stand strong in support of freedom of religion and” —
MS. PERINO: What’s your question?
Q — “political expression and human rights.'” And my question —
MS. PERINO: Question?
Q — does the President believe that both the Catholic League and Senator Clinton are wrong to make such a request?
MS. PERINO: No, they can make any request that they want. But I just told you what the President’s position is.
Which Leads To A Feeding Frenzy
Q Can I just follow on the Olympics, since you said the President’s position has been clear? Is he attending the Opening Ceremonies then?
MS. PERINO: We haven’t provided any schedules on the President’s trip.
Q There’s doubt about it then, right?
Q Dana, to follow up on that —
Q But, I mean, can I just follow on — does that leave the door open to the President not attending the Opening Ceremonies, but attending some of the games to support the athletes?
MS. PERINO: I wouldn’t put it that way, no.
Q Is the decision to attend the Olympics irreversible, or might it be affected by developments?
MS. PERINO: Any time the President — the President can always make a change. But the President has been clear that this is a sporting event for the athletes, and that pressuring China before, during and after the Olympics is the best way for us to try to help people across the board in China, not just Tibetans. And we are calling on the Chinese to reach out to the Dalai Lama, or to have — or to reach out to the Dalai Lama’s supporters and people, as they used to have a dialogue and we think that that was quite useful, and we are encouraging them to do that again.
Q Wouldn’t it be a better plan —
MS. PERINO: You had two questions.
Q — if he pulled out? Wouldn’t that be a good protest?
Q I just wanted to be specific. Is it being considered to attend the games and skip the Opening Ceremony? Is that under consideration?
MS. PERINO: I would not put it that way, no.
Q You would not put it that way that it’s even being considered?
MS. PERINO: I would not put it that way.