White House Briefing, December 8, 2003
|Monday December 8, 2003
THE WHITE HOUSE
PRESS BRIEFING BY SCOTT McCLELLAN
President's daily schedule
THE WHITE HOUSE
PRESS BRIEFING BY SCOTT McCLELLAN
The James S. Brady Briefing Room
12:34 P.M. EST
MR. McCLELLAN: Good afternoon. A couple updates to the President's schedule and then one statement. This morning the President spoke to both Sudanese President Bashir and the Chairman of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement, Dr. John Garang. Both calls were upbeat and positive. The President congratulated each leader on the progress made thus far in the Sudan peace process, and indicated that he was watching the peace process closely. The President encouraged each side to demonstrate the flexibility to resolve their remaining differences and take the final steps to complete a just and comprehensive peace agreement. President Bush explained that peace in Sudan would give a great boost to the aspirations of the people in Sudan and that Sudan could be a beacon of reconciliation.
Also today Mrs. Bush taped an interview with Larry King. The President made a surprise drop-by, along with Barney and Spot. And that interview airs tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern. And then, this afternoon the President and Mrs. Bush look forward to participating in the Children's Christmas Reception and program. They will join children of all branches of our United States military who are deployed away from home this holiday season, and they will watch scenes from the Nutcracker in the East Room, in addition to Christmas carols, cookies and Santa Claus.
One other statement, and then I'll be glad to take questions. Two weeks ago Congress left town without acting on almost 100 presidential nominations. Obstruction by a Democrat minority that had largely been confined to judicial nominations has now spread to other executive branch nominations. A Democrat minority is obstructing progress on confirming high priority presidential nominations for no other reason than to play partisan politics. These are positions that are critical to running the government. Many are important to our efforts to win the war on terrorism.
We still do not have confirmed ambassadors in critical posts like Saudi Arabia, Syria, India, Uzbekistan, Tunisia and Morocco. We do not have a confirmed Deputy Attorney General, the number two post at Justice, which has oversight of the FBI and all U.S. Attorneys. We do not have a General Counsel at Treasury, a position critical to our success in cracking down on terrorist financing. As Congress returns to Washington this week, we urge the Senate to act as quickly as possible on these highly qualified nominees.
And with that, I'll be glad to take questions.
Q: Scott, why did the President support the provision in the Medicare bill that would ban Medigap coverage for the so called "doughnut hole" in prescription drug coverage?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it was a consumer protection measure, number one. But the President supported this legislation because it will lead to the biggest improvements and greatest advance in health care for our nation's seniors since Medicare was created in 1965. This legislation will provide some 40 million seniors access to prescription drug coverage under Medicare for the first time in history. Seniors have been waiting too long for the kind of modern, updated benefits that others have access to. And the President was pleased to sign this legislation that will give seniors more choices, better benefits, and more control over their health care.
It is important for seniors to have the same kind of access to the medicine and plans that members of Congress now have access to. And this legislation -- the provision you're talking about is about consumer protection for seniors in making sure that insurers aren't offering duplicative, overpriced coverage to them.
Q: The way that I've heard it, though, is that the administration has concerns that if seniors have Medigap covers, they'll overuse the benefit, and that this is --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, and keep in mind, in this legislation that the first choice that seniors are going to have is the choice to keep their current coverage if they like the way it is working. This is a voluntary program. It provides more choices and better benefits, and the bill permits the renewal of traditional Medigap policies, as you bring up, but prohibits the selling of duplicative coverage that this bill makes available to them.
Q: Right. But, still, seniors will get stuck -- seniors who have drug costs that run just below catastrophic coverage, or even over, will still get with this $2,800 out-of-pocket expense because they will not be able to buy Medigap insurance to plug that hole. And I'm wondering why the President saw fit to support that particular provision.
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, why I said; because it's a consumer protection measure that I just outlined to you. And under this legislation, seniors are going to see great savings for their prescription drug coverage. Seniors --
Q: But they could see more, though, if they could buy that insurance.
MR. McCLELLAN: Seniors who have no coverage right now will be able to join a Medicare-approved plan that will cut their yearly drug cost in half, nearly in half, in exchange for a $35 monthly premium. In many instances, the savings are going to be far greater than that. Seniors with no drug coverage and monthly drug cost of $200 would save more than $1,700 on drug costs. Seniors with no drug coverage and monthly drug cost of $800 would save nearly $5,900 on drug cost. So this is a lot of savings in low-income seniors in particular.
Q: I understand the savings, but there is still this doughnut hole, as people like to call it, that they can't get coverage for. And I'm just wondering why the President would see fit to not allow them to get coverage for it.
MR. McCLELLAN: You asked specifically about the Medigap policy and stories that ran over the weekend, and what I addressed was the consumer protection measure that was put in the Medicare legislation, for the reasons I stated.
Q: How is a consumer protected by being denied the choice to purchase a product in the free market that he or she thinks will help them?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, they will be able to -- they will be able to keep that coverage if they --
Q: But they won't be able to buy -- you just said they will be banned from buying Medigap insurance.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- if they want to. This package that was passed by Congress is comprehensive and offers a very generous benefit package for seniors. Low-income seniors, at the lowest levels, will be covered completely. And it's a broad benefit, which is why the AARP and doctors are solidly behind this bill.
Q: I understand, those are your talking points. But we're curious about this provision in the law which bans --
MR. McCLELLAN: Insurers could go in there and overcharge seniors for a duplicative coverage. That's the concern. That's why -- I mean, that's why that measure was put in there.
Q: But car dealers could overcharge me for cars. Isn't the bias of this administration to be free market and let people essentially decide for themselves and let the market decide?
MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I emphasized that under this legislation that seniors -- the one choice that they will always have is to be able to keep the coverage they have now. And they can go and renew their traditional Medigap coverage if they so choose. But what this legislation is going to do is going to insert competition into the system which will make health care coverage for seniors more affordable and offer better care to our seniors at the same time.
Q: And insert a little cost discipline. Isn't one of the objectives here to have people feel the cost --
MR. McCLELLAN: I mean, you all are looking at this -- you all are looking at one specific area that was a consumer protection measure. Let's keep in mind the historic nature of these sweeping changes to Medicare that will offer -- that will strengthen and modernize the Medicare for our nation's seniors, for 40 million seniors and people with disabilities who have access to Medicare coverage. It will provide them prescription drug coverage. It will lower drug costs for many of our seniors, particularly the low-income seniors.
Q: So protecting seniors by prohibiting them from buying what they want to buy on the open market?
MR. McCLELLAN: We don't want seniors to be overcharged or have duplicative coverage.
Q: But, Scott, isn't it true that this is a deterrent measure, that if you feel that if you allow seniors to get this Medigap coverage, that they'll over-use the system, or if you make it difficult for them to go above the $2,250 yearly benefit, that they are less likely to reach that benefit level?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think I just explained the way that we view this provision within the legislation.
Q: Yes, but the way that you explained it doesn't make any sense at all.
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure it does. It's a consumer protection initiative.
Q: No, it doesn't, because this is a free market White House that believes that Americans should be able to buy whatever they want on the open market, and you're saying that they can't.
MR. McCLELLAN: And that's what seniors have. They have choice. They have choice and they have benefits that they can choose from. They can keep that coverage if they so choose. That's the first and foremost choice that they have. They can keep that coverage. But we're offering them more benefits and the ability to save even more on prescription drug costs.
Q: Scott, the White House rhetoric is that you don't want seniors to be overcharged, it's going to make it more affordable. But the reality is, this bill does not allow seniors to buy drugs from Canada, and there's also a provision in the bill that does not allow Medicare --
MR. McCLELLAN: The reality is that there are safety issues involved with that matter, too, and that there is -- FDA and HHS are looking at those issues and looking at that in the long-term context, too, about ways that they can address the safety issues.
Q: And then the second part, there's a provision in the bill that does not allow Medicare to negotiate bulk prices, like the Veterans Administration is able to -- since they buy a lot of drugs, they get them at a discount. Yet there's specifically a provision in this bill that says that Medicare can't do that. Why would the President oppose a government agency getting a savings from the pharmaceutical industry?
MR. McCLELLAN: Why would the President support the biggest improvements in Medicare in more than three decades? Because this -- because this is about America's seniors and they have waited long enough. Congress worked hard in a bipartisan way to reach an agreement, and the President was pleased to support this -- to not only to support this legislation, but be out front advocating for the passage of a stronger and more modern Medicare program.
This legislation, beginning next year, will provide seniors immediately with a drug discount card, where they can save some 10 to 25 percent off the cost of most medicines. Beginning in 2006, as I mentioned, seniors without coverage will now be able to join a Medicare-approved plan that would cut their yearly drug costs roughly in half in exchange for a $35 monthly premium. And in many cases, as I pointed out, those savings are going to be far greater.
There would be -- for low-income seniors, they're going to receive additional help paying for their medicines. There would be a $600 annual subsidy that would be added to their discount drug card. There would be no additional premium, no deductible, and low copayments for seniors with limited savings and incomes at or below 135 percent of poverty.
This is a good piece of legislation that provides seniors with the kind of benefits and choices to control their health care so that they can choose the health care that best meets their individual needs and makes it at a more affordable cost for seniors.
Q: Most Americans, as you know, buy in bulk, they shop at places like Costco and other places. How will it make sense to them when the government isn't willing to buy in bulk to get a discount rate?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think I just addressed that it's important to look at the legislation and what it does for American seniors. And this improves Medicare for America's seniors and allows them the choices and benefits that they deserve, and the kind of modern medicine that they should have had long ago, and the prescription drug benefits, access to prescription drug benefit that they have waited on for far too long because of partisan bickering.
The President is focused on solutions, and we provided a very strong solution to help America's seniors have more affordable and better health care.
Q: Scott, Democrats intend to introduce legislation enable the federal government to negotiate drug prices. Does the White House support or oppose that legislation?
MR. McCLELLAN: The White House has put forward our plans that allow -- or that work towards making health care more affordable, more available, and more accessible to all Americans. And this is historic legislation that we just passed that is going to, as I said, reduce drug coverage -- or reduce the cost of drugs for millions of seniors. There are some 10 million seniors without prescription drug coverage now. And they're going to see their prescription drug bills cut significantly. And that's important for America's seniors.
Q: We got that part. We're a little slow, but we're not that slow. (Laughter.)
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it is Monday, so maybe I'm slow.
Q: But what I'm asking about is -- obviously, it is an issue about whether or not the government negotiates prices. It's a concern about whether or not it turns into price-fixing. So I'm just trying to figure out what the White House position is, what the White House reasoning and view is on whether or not that is a good road to go down or not.
MR. McCLELLAN: The road we took today is a good road to go down, to provide seniors with more choices and better benefits. And the President was pleased to sign this legislation. We're going to continue working on all our initiatives to make health care more affordable, more available, and more accessible, and improve the quality of care for all Americans. And today was a significant step for an important segment of our population -- America's seniors. And you are very well-aware of our health care initiatives that we have put forward, and the health saving accounts that were part of this legislation that will also enable additional savings for Americans.
Q: But do you have a position on legislation --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think I've addressed -- our position is, the proposals we've put forward, and that's our view.
Q: First on -- back to Norah's point. She asked you about a specific part of the bill, the government negotiating drug prices. You answered by saying the big product is a good product. Are you acknowledging that -- this is a big bill, it does a lot, it costs a lot of money and it's a very complicated program -- that to get the bill the President is accepting a few things he might not like?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, what I'm saying is that always during the legislative process, there is a give-and-take during that process. The President put forward his framework and his principles for modernizing and strengthening Medicare. And this legislation provided significant improvements in Medicare for our seniors, and he was pleased to sign that legislation. But obviously, yes, in the legislative process, there is give-and- take. But for the first time since 1965, we have provided significant improvements to our seniors under this legislation for their health care.
Q: The Democrats believe there was too much give. I have a stack of their statements here --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, yes, and --
Q: If I could just read one -- I'm reading from one, but don't give this one any particular -- they're all about the same -- $139 billion holiday gift for big insurance companies and drug companies and a raw deal for America's seniors. That's how this is being characterized.
MR. McCLELLAN: The President is focused on improving health care for our seniors. Some are more interested in using this issue for partisan gain. After all these years, we finally got seniors the choices and benefits, including prescription drug coverage, that they deserve. And let me just point out what a Democrat said, as well. And this is someone who has been a leader on this issue for quite a while. "There are some Democrats who did not want this bill to pass, simply for the fact that it may give President Bush an opportunity to sign a Medicare reform bill, and I think that's wrong. I mean, we ought to be concerned not about which party benefits and which party loses, but whether we can do something for the 40 million seniors who desperately wanted us to move on prescription drugs, which is what we ultimately did." That was Senator John Breaux. And I think that speaks for itself.
Q: One quick follow-up to --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, you've had several questions. I'll come back to you at the end. Go ahead. Do you want to yield to him?
Q: This goes right to what John was talking about. It will just take a second.
Q: Sure, but you've got to -- (laughter.)
Q: Even the President, very recently and within the last two weeks in Phoenix said, this bill is not perfect. What does he believe is imperfect about it?
MR. McCLELLAN: He's going to highlight the important benefits and choices that it gives to our seniors. That's what he believes. You all can do the analysis of all the legislation. He's going to focus on the fact that seniors have better health care and they're going to have more affordable health care because of this legislation.
Q: Scott, you keep saying that this Medicare reform bill -- well, this, now, law -- is giving seniors choices. How are they getting choices when some of them are relegated -- or maybe all of them are relegated to HMOs? HMOs are things that don't give people choices.
MR. McCLELLAN: You have to look at the way it was set up. They have choices. That would be one of the choices, but there are other private plan choices, as well.
Q: How can -- even given that an option, how can you say you're giving someone a choice to relegate them to an HMO, or to say --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, no --
Q: -- that that is a choice that you have --
MR. McCLELLAN: Remember, the first choice that they will always have is the ability to keep their current plan, to keep the coverage that they now have. And now all 40 million seniors have access to prescription drug coverage. And that's why organizations like the largest senior organization in America, the AARP, threw their support behind this legislation. That's why you had Democratic leaders who have been involved in this issue for a long time working closely with Republican leaders to get something done. And the President was there urging them to get it done this year, and they did.
Q: And I have another question real quick. You -- this White House has touted the freedom of speech, especially for those who have been vocal against the war. John Kerry has come out using the "F" word, and the White House wants an apology. He's definitely said no. Why are you so hard on him, when you've allowed everyone else to say what they thought about this war, and even said that -- gone as far as saying that people who speak out are still patriotic?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think this was addressed yesterday when Secretary Card was asked a question, and he's known Senator Kerry for a long time, and he addressed it yesterday. And I'll leave it at that.
Q: No, no, no, no --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm going to keep moving.
Q: Now Kerry says he's not going to apologize. What's the response?
MR. McCLELLAN: It's been addressed.
Q: Scott, I'd like to ask about this Syracuse study on the terrorism prosecution that shows a very big increase in prosecutions, but, frankly, just a handful of prison sentences of any length. Isn't this an indictment on what we're being told is a war on terror?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, the United States is winning the war on terrorism with unrelenting focus and unprecedented cooperation. Prevention of future terrorist attacks is our highest priority, and the President has been leading that effort to improve information-sharing and cooperation. Those efforts have greatly increased today. We are better able to connect the dots.
And let me just mention a few things -- I'm coming to your specific question, but I think it's important to put this in context. We are disrupting, arresting, and detaining potential terrorist threats. The FBI and our partners, both here and abroad, have identified, disrupted and neutralized over 100 terrorist threats and cells. Worldwide two-thirds of al Qaeda's senior leadership has been captured or killed. Worldwide more than 3,000 operatives have been incapacitated. Four alleged terror cells in Buffalo, Detroit, Seattle, and Portland have been broken up; 287 individuals have been criminally charged in terrorism investigations since the September 11th attacks. Already, 155 individuals have been convicted, or have pled guilty, including shoe-bomber Richard Reid and American Taliban John Walker Lindh. And over 515 individuals linked to the September 11th investigation have been deported.
Q: The study -- I appreciate --
MR. McCLELLAN: You don't want to focus on the fact that this is all part of what relates to --
Q: I'd like to ask about --
MR. McCLELLAN: This relates directly to the study, Mark.
Q: I appreciate the study -- I'd like to ask specifically about the fact that there are --
MR. McCLELLAN: And I appreciate your question.
Q: -- there are 6,400 cases that were referred to the Justice Department. Of those, the conviction rate was something like 8 percent. The median prison sentence was 14 days and only five people were sentenced to 20 years or more.
MR. McCLELLAN: Let me back up and then I'm going to come to that specifically. We are gathering information by leveraging criminal charges and long prison sentences. When individuals realize that they face a long prison term, they often try to cut their prison time by pleading guilty and cooperating with the government. Since September 11th, we have obtained criminal plea agreements from more than 15 individuals who must and will continue to cooperate with the government in its terrorist investigations. These individuals have provided critical intelligence about al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, safe houses, training camps, recruitment and tactics in the U.S. and the operations of those terrorists who mean to do harm to American citizens.
One individual has given us intelligence on weapons stored here in the United States. Another cooperator has identified locations in the U.S. being scouted or cased for potential attacks by al Qaeda. And we're also dismantling the financial terrorist -- the terrorist financial network in many ways.
But the bottom line is that investigations and prosecutions of individuals suspected of ties to international terrorism have significantly increased since September 11th. The President made it clear to the government that prevention of future terrorist attacks is the number one priority. Law enforcement officials are more proactive now at stopping terrorist incidents before they occur. Terrorism is now being disrupted at earlier stages. And while this is resulting in shorter sentences for some individuals, it also results in greater prevention of future terrorist attacks, and protection of America's families and communities.
Early arrests and prosecutions have also led to a wealth of intelligence that is not reflected in the study that you mentioned. So I think that the conclusions of the study are somewhat premature. Many of the more serious terrorism prosecutions continue to this very day. And I think the study itself points out that more serious offenses and cases ought to require more time to complete.
Q: If I could just ask you about tomorrow's visit. Does the President expect to bring up the currency issue with the Premier?
MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, the President looks forward to establishing a personal relationship with Premier Wen and working together with him to promote common goals, as well as address some differences. I think the two leaders will discuss the full agenda of political, security and economic issues on the U.S.-China agenda.
Excuse me? I thought you had a question.
Q: -- update on what that is a little bit more, on details?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm getting to that. I was just seeing if John had another question.
The President looks forward to discussing North Korea, the war on terrorism, proliferation and other issues, and global peace and stability. And Premier Wen does oversee the Chinese economy, and the President and his senior economic team will talk with him about the increasingly important bilateral trading relationship as well as global economic issues. And we anticipate that both sides will raise respective concerns.
The President is likely to engage the Premier on human rights and religious freedom. And we expect the Premier will raise Chinese concerns about Taiwan. And specifically, to some of the agenda you brought up, we have consistently raised our concerns about a number of areas in which China can do more to live up to its international obligations. And there has been some progress made and there is more to do. But those are the issues we have raised and we will certainly provide an update or you will hear from the two leaders themselves tomorrow after they have had an opportunity to meet.
Q: You were just referring to currency there in your last remarks. Scott, on another issue, this morning you raised -- or you spoke of U.S. concerns about Russian elections, parliamentary elections. What in specific do you see as a problem there and how do you see that affecting the U.S.-Russian relationship?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I did address this earlier. I would just add to that that, based on the pre-election polling, it appears that the election results roughly reflected the views of the electorate in Russia. I did point out that the OSCE, which monitored the elections, has expressed concerns about the fairness of the election campaign, especially the media environment and the use of government resources. And those are concerns that we share. A fact which, as I said earlier, underlines the importance of Russian legislators dedicating themselves to pushing through the political and economic reform agenda.
Q: Scott, you mentioned a medley of issues that will come up tomorrow. Is human rights one of them?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, that's what I just -- I just addressed that, that that would be something I would expect would be.
Q: How would you characterize because you seem to have had a lot of cooperation from China in the Security Council and probably relations are in a pretty good state
MR. McCLELLAN: Certainly, on North Korea, we are working very closely and appreciate China's efforts in regards to the six-party talks, and we'll continue to work with them on a new round of talks. And so, yes, this is a relationship where we work closely together on the war on terrorism. We've worked closely together on security issues such as North Korea.
Q: -- do you expect some help from the Chinese --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, again, let's let the meetings take place, and we'll see -- we'll go from there.
Q: Since the President is no doubt aware of the millions of his supporters in the southern Baptist convention, the National Evangelical Alliance, and given his statement in London that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, my question, what is his reaction to Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention who said the President is simply mistaken and Merle Haggard of the NEA, who said, Mohammed's central message was submission, Jesus' central message was love?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has stated his views repeatedly. He's also stated repeatedly that Islam is a faith that teaches peace. And he's made that very clear.
Q: The New York Post headline, Cursing Kerry Unleashes Foul-Mouthed Attack on Bush, does the President agree or disagree with this headline?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the question was asked earlier.
Q: No, I was following up, because you didn't answer what the President thought --
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think the President comments on every single headline across the U.S.
Q: Scott, you were saying that there have been 100 attacks thwarted. But as I recall, about a year ago FBI Director Bob Mueller said then that about 100 attacks by terrorists had been thwarted. It seems a little inconsistent, given the Iyman Faris arrest, the Brooklyn Bridge plot. What's happened --
MR. McCLELLAN: We're making a lot of important progress in winning the war on terrorism, both abroad and at home. And we are -- we have made a lot of progress in disrupting possible terrorist attacks against the United States, or against American citizens. And what I was referring was more than 100 terrorist threats and cells, what I specifically was referring. I think you can get some of the specific data from the FBI in terms of where that stands.
Q: Is that a significant figure, the 100 that the --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'd had to double-check. I don't recall specifically the one you're referring.
Q: Just one follow. Yesterday, Senator Clinton was asked on several talk shows about the administration's Iraq policy and the exit strategy, the resolving of the CPA by June, and she repeated her assertion that she suspects that the political calendar is being considered by the White House more than the practical realities on the ground.
MR. McCLELLAN: This is best based on what is in the best interest of the Iraqi people. We've always said that we are moving as quickly as possible to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi people. And as they are able to assume more and more responsibility, we want to turn more and more authority over to the Iraqi people. And they are doing that in a number of areas, from the Iraqi Governing Council in the steps they are taking, to the local councils they've established throughout the country, to the schools being opened, hospitals running, to ministers being appointed by the Governing Council. Iraqis are assuming more and more responsibility for their future, and we are working closely with the Governing Council, who came to this decision and we agreed with, to transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi people at the end of June. And it's based on that.
Q: Is she wrong?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, absolutely.
Q: Scott, back to Medicare. Does the President have any concerns that the cost of this bill may be far more than currently anticipated? And would he oppose efforts to expand benefits?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we just expanded benefits, greatly I would add.
Q: -- next year and say, well, this doesn't go far enough. They're already saying it doesn't go far enough.
MR. McCLELLAN: And the President looked at this legislation in the context of the overall budget, and the $400 billion in additional funding was part of the budget he put forward to Congress that held the line on the base discretionary spending to 4 percent, which is the same as the average growth in family income. So it's an important principle that the President believes government should not grow faster than the average family's income.
Q: Then he opposes any further expansion of benefits?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we talk about what we support and what we are working to implement. And that's where we are focused.
Q: U.S.-China relations -- Taiwan's President, Chen Shui-bian, has decided to hold a referendum during the March 20th presidential election to demand China to remove its missiles. And I'm just wondering has the U.S. contacted or delivered any message since the announcement two days ago? Also would this overshadow tomorrow's meeting?
MR. McCLELLAN: You might want to double-check with State Department about any contacts that may or may not have been had. But the President's position is very clear, and it remains unchanged when it comes to Taiwan and China.
Q: Two quick questions -- one back on the war on terrorism. You may have seen some ads by the Saudi embassy and Saudi government in recent weeks. This is the first time they have ever spoken against the terrorists or terrorism. Is that because they got hit at home and they now know the pain and suffering that the terrorists bring? And also at the same time, Homeland Security Department announced that they would stop registration for the Muslims and Arabs here. Do you think that means we have no more threats from these people who were part of the 9/11 --
MR. McCLELLAN: You're talking about the screening program, and there was a new program that was implemented that they talked about. But in terms of Saudi Arabia, we appreciate the efforts they are making in the war on terrorism. We are working closely with Saudi Arabia to continue to build on the cooperation and progress we are making in the war on terrorism. And certainly, they understand the pain and suffering that comes from terrorist attacks and the need to address those terrorist attacks. And we're -- we continue to work closely with them and believe they are making good progress in our efforts.
END 1:05 P.M. EST
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