Dana Sez We Can’t Outlaw Torture
Q Has the President ever considered an executive order that would ban torture specifically? There’s a letter out now from a bipartisan group of former Secretaries of State, including Secretary of State George Shultz, with whom the President was a couple of weeks ago, and former Defense Secretaries and military officials saying that there should be an executive order with the force of law saying that torture is unacceptable.
MS. PERINO: Well, we certainly respect the views of George Shultz. And one thing I would point to is that we have a set of laws that have been passed during this administration, and an executive order, in fact. There was the Detainee Treatment Act, there was the Military Commissions Act, and then there was the President’s executive order interpreting Common Article 3.
So we feel like we have taken steps to address that issue. And I would also point out that we face a very different enemy today than America has ever faced before. We face an enemy that respects no borders, respects no uniforms, and certainly has no regard for civilians, especially innocent women and children and the elderly. So we take his position seriously, but we do think that we have the mechanisms in place to address the issue.
Sovereignty Is A Bitch
Q After the meeting with President Talabani, how close is the U.S. and Iraq to reaching an agreement on the strategic force —
MS. PERINO: Well, they continue to work on it, and I couldn’t put odds on it either way. But we continue to work on it. We think that it’s critically important that we have some sort of mechanism to — legal mechanism to make sure that our forces can operate legally there. So they had a good conversation about it, and obviously the negotiators continue to work on the issue.
Q Did they get into the details of it?
MS. PERINO: No, I don’t think — no, I don’t — the negotiators are getting into the details.
Surprised? He Approved!
Q What was the President’s reaction to the Justice Department report on improper hiring?
MS. PERINO: I said today that the President appreciated the fact that Attorney General Mukasey had already implemented all the recommendations that the Inspector General had put forth, and he expects that those should be implemented fully across the board, and that no politicization in terms of hiring practices should be allowed.
Q Was he not surprised that such a process was taking place?
MS. PERINO: Was he not surprised?
Q Was he surprised that such a process was taking place?
MS. PERINO: Well, I didn’t ask if he was surprised or not. But we do know that he was thankful that General Mukasey had taken this on and had implemented the recommendations of the Inspector General.
Dana Don’t Know, But It’s A Good Idea!
Q Has the President ever met with a group of TV military analysts assembled by the Pentagon?
MS. PERINO: I don’t know. But what — I don’t know.
Q The Pentagon released emails saying that they were seeking such a meeting — that was in March 2006.
MS. PERINO: I think it would probably have been a good idea if they had. It would have been a good meeting.
Q What would such a meeting have —
MS. PERINO: I’m not going to speculate on a meeting that I don’t remember, that I don’t know it happened. I just will say I don’t know, but I think it would have been a good idea had there been a meeting.
Les’ War OnThe New York Times
Q The New York Times reported this morning from San Francisco that the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco is planning to ask voters to change the name of the prize-winning water treatment on the shoreline to, “The George W. Bush Sewage Plant.” And my question: What is the White House reaction to this New York Times news report?
MS. PERINO: I just don’t think it dignifies a response.
Q But do you think that The New York Times doesn’t deserve an answer? Is that what you’re saying?
MS. PERINO: I think your question doesn’t deserve an answer. (Laughter.)
Q Wait a minute, what about The New York Times? I didn’t bring it up. It was The New York Times, Dana, New York Times.
MS. PERINO: I don’t think they were the first to report it.
Q Well, don’t you have any comment on The New York Times?
MS. PERINO: No. Since she’s not here to defend herself, I’ll pass.