Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 3/10/2011By USGOV
Thursday, March 10, 2011
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:54 P.M. EST
MR. CARNEY: Good afternoon. Just one quick announcement just to make sure everyone received the email announcement that National Security Advisor Tom Donilon will be holding a conference call to discuss Libya and the events in the Middle East at 2:30 p.m. So we’ll try to move through the briefing expeditiously.
Q Do you expect an announcement, or is it just background or –
MR. CARNEY: I will encourage you to call in, Ed, and speak with Mr. Donilon.
With that, let me start. Yes.
Q Jay, the Director of National Intelligence said today that Qaddafi is in this for the long haul. He said, “I don’t think he has any intention, despite some of the press speculation to the contrary, of leaving. From all the evidence that we have, he appears to be hunkering down for the duration.” And you’ve repeatedly said that Qaddafi needs to step down, but it sounds like this is going to be kind of a drawn-out affair. There’s less appetite for a no-fly zone. What are the administration’s contingencies for dealing with something that’s protracted in the country?
MR. CARNEY: Let me address that. The leader of the Libyan regime, Muammar Qaddafi, has clearly shown that he doesn’t intend to leave just because we said so or the international community said so. That is why we have taken the swift and dramatic actions that we have taken, unilaterally and in concert with our international partners. In just three weeks we have instituted sanctions that have frozen now $32 billion in assets tied to the Libyan regime. We have, working through the United Nations, instituted an arms embargo. We are in discussions, as you know, in Brussels at NATO with our allies there, reviewing military options. And I can tell you that today at NATO there was a decision to increase naval assets in the central Mediterranean; to enhance our situational awareness and contribute to our surveillance capacity and therefore our ability to enforce the arms embargo. The defense ministers there agreed also to move ahead with operational planning for humanitarian relief, and also for more active enforcement of the arms embargo. And NATO, out of that meeting, is continuing its planning for the full range of possible options, including a no-fly zone. The plans for those options will be presented to NATO on March 15th.
Now, I also — they have agreed, as you know, earlier in this week, NATO, has to put up an AWACS — to put up AWACS capacity over the Mediterranean 24/7, which, again, expands our surveillance and coordination.
This is a highly dynamic and fluid situation. The actions we took in a dramatically short period of time are being implemented, precisely to put pressure on Colonel Qaddafi to remove himself from power, to leave power, because he has lost all legitimacy in the eyes of his people and of the world. The President has made that clear; our allies have made it clear. Very importantly, leaders around the region have made it clear. And we are continuing our efforts to increase that pressure and to ensure that the Libyan people get to decide their future.
Q Jay, how do Clapper’s comments affect your assessment of further actions that the United States and the international community will need to take, and the urgency of that?
MR. CARNEY: Well, let me make clear that Director Clapper stated what is true, that Colonel Qaddafi is hunkering down; we all know that. It’s precisely why we and our partners are responding in the way that we are and that we have, and why the dynamic is changing day by day to enhance the pressure on him to force him to leave. So that’s my assessment of that, and it is completely in concert with everything that we are doing from here and from Brussels at NATO and from New York at the United Nations.
Q Just one other topic, briefly. Is there serious consideration of merging the USTR and the Commerce Department? And when are you going to have something to say about the restructuring of government that the President talked about in his State of the Union?
MR. CARNEY: I want to make clear that, as the President said in his State of the Union, that he is committed to this process of reorganizing the government, to make it more efficient and effective; make it a 21st-century government. Right now it is too much of a 20th-century and in some cases 19th-century government.
The story I think that mentioned that got way ahead of itself. The — we are — the first-ever federal Chief Performance Officer Jeff Zients, who is also the Deputy Director of OMB for Management, is working on this. But we have no imminent announcements related to that at all.
Q The French government is now recognizing some of the Libyan rebels, the Libyan opposition group as representative of the Libyan people. Where is the U.S. when it comes to assessing the opposition in Libya and recognizing them diplomatically?
MR. CARNEY: I’m glad you asked that. We are in direct contact with the opposition through a variety of channels, as I’ve mentioned before, including with senior members, all the senior members of the council and other individuals within Libya. We’re coordinating with the opposition, with the council, to provide assistance and to determine the best ways that we can support their aspirations.
We are still engaged in the process of assessing those groups — the council and other individuals — to find out what their vision is, who they represent, what their ideas are, and where they would take Libya in a post-Qaddafi future. But we are very engaged in that process.
And I think it’s important also to note that Secretary Clinton announced today — Secretary of State — that we are suspending Libya’s embassy in the United States and we will not accept representatives put forward by Muammar Qaddafi in Washington. We will not recognize them as representing Libya.
Q The Red Cross today referred to what’s going on in Libya as a civil war. Does the White House agree?
MR. CARNEY: I think far more important than the terminology used is the actions that we, the United States of America, and our allies and our partners around the world take to ensure that Muammar Qaddafi does not remain in power.
Q Lastly, there were more air attacks today against the Libyan people by the Qaddafi regime, by the Libyan government. Has that changed at all the view of White House officials that a no-fly zone would be of limited effectiveness?
MR. CARNEY: We are aware of those reports and it obviously is — they are taken into consideration as the deliberations continue. We’ve made clear, from the President on down, that a no-fly zone remains an option that we are actively considering. The complexities involved in standing up a no-fly zone that have been spelled out by Secretary Gates and others remain, and also it remains true that any action you take, especially a military action, it is very important that you are very clear about what it entails and what your goals are and whether those goals are achievable through that means. And I mean that broadly, not just in relation to a no-fly zone, because we are actively considering that.
Q Sarkozy wants to bomb Qaddafi’s command center. Would the U.S. go along with that?
MR. CARNEY: Well, we are consulting with the French, the British, and all of our allies and partners through NATO, at the United Nations and elsewhere about our options.
Q Yesterday, in terms of reaction to Libya, you compared it to the world reaction to Bosnia. And people who covered that story say that after the arms embargo was instituted it took about a year for a no-fly zone to be instituted, another three years to get everybody to the peace table in Dayton, and that basically this was sort of a model of inaction, not action, by the international community. So, basically, aren’t you setting a pretty low bar to say this is happening faster than that?
MR. CARNEY: Ed, Ed, Ed, wait a second. You’re making the very point that I made, which is that we have moved with extreme urgency in responding to the situation in Libya. And that is made more clear –
Q But to compare it to something that was slow as molasses is not exactly holding this up as –
MR. CARNEY: Again, the slow as molasses comparison, analogy that we’re making here is to a process that took months and years, in many cases, as you pointed out, as opposed to days, and it is precisely because of the leadership of the United States and our partners and allies that we have moved so quickly in reaction to the situation in Libya.
And I need everyone to remember — it’s important that we remember that three weeks and two days ago, this situation did not exist. And it is a quite — there have been a remarkable series of actions taken by the United States and the international community in reaction to this, and we are not at an end point. Many of the actions that we take are part of a process that builds in terms of increasing pressure; the effect of the asset freeze will increase pressure as each day goes by. And the other measures that we are considering obviously would contribute to the pressure we are putting on the Qaddafi regime to cease the violence and for Muammar Qaddafi to give up power.
Q Real quick question on Afghanistan. CNN and others are reporting that a cousin of President Karzai was killed accidentally by a NATO military operation. Is the White House — has the White House confirmed that that actually happened? Have you apologized to the Karzai family given his anger in recent days about NATO air strikes that have killed innocent civilians? What’s your reaction to this?
MR. CARNEY: Well, we are looking into this. I don’t have any specific details for you. Would refer you on that — for those details to the Defense Department. I will say, however, that the President and his commanders have made clear that we take the issue of civilian casualties very seriously. And as you know, General Petraeus, Secretary Gates have apologized for those instances in the past where civilians were lost in this effort, and we take it very seriously.
Q Jay, Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State Clinton said today that Qaddafi has some remaining chemical weapons and some other nasty stuff that we’re concerned about. Is that a new talking point? Is weapons of mass destruction going to be a partial justification for whatever we do in Libya?
MR. CARNEY: Chip, I don’t think that what the Secretary of State said is any different from what we’ve known in the past. I think this is a — there was a question about some remaining chemical weapons a couple of weeks ago. I don’t think there’s any intent to bring up new information here.
Q On the no-fly zone, would it be accurate to say that there is less of an appetite in the administration for a no-fly zone than there was a week ago, given everything that Gates and other people have said?
MR. CARNEY: The President wants a no-fly zone to be on the table as an option. He is very mindful of the fact that it is not just a phrase and that there are no simple answers. We cannot make an announcement or snap our fingers to change the situation overnight in Libya, to force the regime to give up power, to force Colonel Qaddafi to give up power. So it is very important to understand that everything involved in the — what would be involved in the adoption of some of these measures that have been talked about. These are — this is not contradictory. It’s something that’s hard, costly and serious.
In terms of adopting a measure, it does not take it off the table, it just — the President is very mindful of every decision he makes, understanding what it means, what the purpose of it is, how achievable the goals behind it are, and what its cost will be. So these are — he’s taking this all very seriously and very mindful of all the aspects involved in decisions like these.
Q On the — in the discussions or debates or whatever they are over a no-fly zone, have you been in those meetings?
MR. CARNEY: I’ve been in some meetings where this has been discussed. And obviously I wasn’t in Brussels, but we have means of being briefed on the discussions in Brussels and elsewhere. So –
Q Have you heard the issue of the possibility of an American plane being shot down and an American pilot being taken hostage as one of the factors to consider in implementing a no-fly zone?
MR. CARNEY: I haven’t, specifically. The point that you make is a clear one, because people do have to understand that military options, to varying degrees, involve risk to our men and women in the armed services. The President is very aware of that. The Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, everybody on the national security team, everybody in this building, everybody in the administration involved in these issues is aware of that.
Q Last question. John Boehner says high gas prices is all the President’s fault, or largely the President’s fault. They’ve doubled since he came into office, and he says he’s consistently blocked efforts to increase domestic oil production. Your response?
MR. CARNEY: How could that be, since domestic oil production is higher — was higher last year than in any year since 2003? This President is committed to responsible production of energy, including oil, in this country. And that is why he has — his administration has, even since the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf, granted leases — 37, I believe — for shallow-water oil drilling, offshore, and recently the first deepwater permit — not leases, I mean, permits — permit since the Gulf oil spill, because he believes that we need to take serious precautionary measures to make sure that what happened in the Gulf doesn’t happen again. But we obviously need to maintain our production and increase it where we can, and that’s why he has done that.
Q Director Clapper today, I believe, also suggested he thinks Qaddafi may well prevail, and he seemed to characterize China and Russia as potential threats to the U.S. Does the President agree with those assessments?
MR. CARNEY: I think you need to look very carefully at what Director Clapper said. On Qaddafi, he said that if the dynamic doesn’t change, Qaddafi could prevail. Well, as I have just spelled out, the dynamic is changing by the hour and the day. Everything we are doing — from Washington, the United States, from Brussels, from New York, in concert with our international partners, including the Arab League and the African Union — we are — is designed precisely to change the dynamic and put pressure on Colonel Qaddafi.
On a separate issue, if you look closely if you didn’t see it, if you read closely the transcript of what Director Clapper said, he was answering a question with regard to military capacity. Obviously Russia and China are two of the three largest nuclear powers in the world; therefore, they have dangerous weapons and have the capacity. But he made clear that we do not view Russia and China as a threat.
Q On the budget talks, Speaker Boehner says that the White House is not serious. With the President’s chief budget negotiator in Russia, how do you challenge the Speaker?
MR. CARNEY: Well, the Speaker spoke with the Vice President yesterday from Moscow — the phones work all the way from Moscow to Washington — and he spoke –
Q Was it from his dacha? (Laughter.)
MR. CARNEY: — he spoke with Senator McConnell as well. And this is a team effort, because it’s a big issue, and we are negotiating at the principal level as well as the staff level. We’re intensely engaged in this process, and we look forward to finding common ground with Speaker Boehner, Senator McConnell — leaders in both houses, both parties — to resolving the funding issue for the current fiscal year in a way that reduces spending responsibly but seriously, and maintains the investments in the priorities the President has, which are his priorities because they are directly related to our capacity to grow the economy and create jobs here in the United States. So we’re very engaged in this process.
Q And if I can, one more. Can you respond to Wisconsin, the vote in Wisconsin yesterday?
MR. CARNEY: Look, the President has said that we all need to come together at the federal level and the state level to deal with the budget issues we face. He’s very mindful of that fact that states have some serious budget problems and they need to address them. And in that process, he thinks everyone needs to share in the sacrifice, and that would include public sector employees as well as others. He also believes that it is wrong to use those budget problems to denigrate or vilify public sector employees. And he believes that the actions last night taken in Wisconsin violate the principles that he laid out about coming together and addressing these issues together, rather than pursuing partisan goals. And that’s his view on that.
Q You talked about the sanctions and the remarkable efforts that the U.S. in concert with its allies have taken against Libya. What specific evidence could you point to that would show that these sanctions are having any of the desired effect on Qaddafi — i.e., making him leave — seeing as how it seems that he, if anything, seems bolder than he was three weeks ago?
MR. CARNEY: Well, do you think he’s bolder than he was three weeks and two days ago? I just disagree. He is, as described, hunkered down. He controls only a portion of the territory of Libya. And he has — the assets of his regime, his personal assets and the regime’s assets that are in this country and elsewhere — because other countries are taking similar measures — have been frozen.
But if you’re asking that simply by declaring these things we can make him go, clearly that’s not the case.
Q Do you think what the U.S. and its allies have done so far is sufficient to make him go and it’s just a matter of time?
MR. CARNEY: Well, it’s not static, Savannah. It is a process of ramping up the pressure. You make a decision, you begin to implement it, and the effects are felt. And I would say that the process of making the decision and implementing it has been made at a great pace, and therefore, the impact, the effects of the decisions that have been made and implemented will continue to be felt as we implement other measures, as we take the actions that I described that were taken at NATO today in Brussels, and as we consider further options. Yes, we believe that the pressure will increase day by day.
Q Since the U.S. has said that Qaddafi should be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court — in essence, exile is not an option for him, he’s a war criminal if he leaves — he has no option to go. So does that give the U.S. — does that make the U.S. extra responsible to ensure that he is brought down? In other words, he can’t leave in a peaceful way and go to exile. So do we — does the U.S. owe the Libyans –
MR. CARNEY: Well, he can leave and face the judgment of his peers in the international community –
Q Right. So that’s probably not too attractive to him.
MR. CARNEY: Well –
Q So since he’s likely now to be motivated to stay and hang on as long as he can, does the U.S. not owe the Libyans extra effort to help bring him down and that’s what we’re desiring to see?
MR. CARNEY: Well, we are making — we are making great effort. And I also would remind you that the referral by the United Nations to the ICC was a referral by the United Nations, not just the United States. But –
Q Right, but the U.S. supports it.
MR. CARNEY: We support it fully and a hundred percent, and it is a significant step in making clear that not just Colonel Qaddafi but those around him will be held accountable for their actions and the decisions they make in these days about what — whose side they’re on. Are they on the side of the Libyan people or the Qaddafi regime, will have an effect on their lives going forward because they will be held accountable.
Q How committed is the U.S. to seeing Qaddafi actually leave? Is the U.S. willing to use any means necessary to see that outcome?
MR. CARNEY: We have not taken any option off the table, Savannah, and I would just point you to the actions that we’ve taken so far that demonstrate our commitment.
Q Jay, Peter King had his hearings today about radicalization, and he’s pointed to myself and many other reporters that he’s not outside that much of the mainstream in his policy and theory. And he points to the fact that Rahm Emanuel invited him to become Barack Obama’s ambassador to Ireland and that the way he’s proceeded towards these hearings shouldn’t be — isn’t that outside the mainstream. Was he ever invited to be the White House’s ambassador to Ireland?
MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any information on that conversation or whether it took place. What I can tell you is that we’ve made clear that we welcome congressional engagement on this issue because we think it’s an important issue. And that is precisely why this administration has been engaged in a process of developing a strategy to deal with violent extremism in America. And you heard a lot about that approach from Denis McDonough, the Deputy National Security Advisor, last Sunday in the speech he gave.
So our approach is that we don’t believe that in America we should practice guilt by association, and we also believe that Muslim Americans are very much part of the solution here and not the problem. It is because of the cooperation with the Muslim American community that we are able to do the things we are able to do to prevent attacks and it is that very cooperation that we seek going forward and that has been so helpful.
Q Well, will you take the question and come back to verify whether or not he was offered to be the ambassador to Ireland?
MR. CARNEY: Again, I don’t have any information about a conversation that may or may not have taken place. That’s all I have on that.
Q Could you try to find out?
Q Yes, I’m asking you to take –
MR. CARNEY: I’ll see if there’s anything I can find out.
Q May I just follow, Jay?
Q On the — two questions, one on the Commerce Department. As the White House considers who’s going to head that next, how important is it that the person have business experience or business world experience?
MR. CARNEY: Look, I think there are a variety of ways to be qualified for a Cabinet post like that. I don’t have any — and the President doesn’t have any litmus test issues that you have to have done that or been that. He is engaged in a process of looking at potential replacements for Secretary Locke, but I have no announcements to make in that regard.
Q Then on the budget. Yesterday you said that the White House would wait to see — until after the votes to see what signs of common ground could be found between Republicans and Democrats — with Republicans and Democrats. What signs are there? Are there any signs of common ground that you see or you –
MR. CARNEY: Well, I would say that the votes yesterday were instructive. They were important to have. The House Republican bill, H.R. 1, did not pass. It is now dead. The Senate Democratic bill did not pass. It is now dead. What we clearly need to do is find common ground. And those votes help point us in the direction of where we can find common ground. So we think it was an important process as we move towards resolving this issue to get us through funding for fiscal year 2011 so we can move on, which the American people want us to do, and address the panoply of big issues facing us.
This is one fiscal year through which we are already — of which we’re already halfway through almost, and we need to focus on that, come to a resolution, and move on to deal with other issues.
Q And what is the next step, I guess, in the negotiations? What happens next? You’ve got a couple — just about 10 days left before March 18th –
MR. CARNEY: Well, I don’t want to give you a play-by-play of who’s going to meet with whom and what one side will propose and another will counterpropose. But how negotiations work is sort of similar across a lot of fields, and I think that there is a lot of focus, understandably, in the media on the numbers and this number versus that number. And it’s also important, very important, in this process to look at what is underneath those numbers.
And we all agree — the President, leaders in Congress, Republicans and Democrats agree that we need to cut spending. We need to reduce spending. It is the responsible thing to do. The President demonstrated that in his State of the Union and he is committed to that going forward. The question is how we do it and do we do it in a way that does not negatively affect our economy and our capacity to grow, or negatively affect our capacity to create jobs. And that is crucial. And he’s made clear where he believes we have to continue to invest, and he’s made clear that he is willing to make tough choices to get to compromise.
Q With such wide gaps between the numbers of what Republicans want to propose for current spending and Democrats, where is the common ground? What areas are there for the two sides to come together?
MR. CARNEY: I would say that there is ample area for compromise here. And we believe that. We believe that — Republican leadership and Democratic leadership believes that. And that’s why we remain optimistic that we will work together, with each side, accepting the fact that it will not get a hundred percent of what it wants. We need to move from our starting positions, as the President has done, towards that common ground, give a little in order to get the kind of compromise, which, by the way, we achieved here in Washington against the stated odds in December, on the tax cut deal that is paying dividends literally for Americans today through the payroll tax cut that they received and through the extension of middle-class tax cuts that were achieved as part of that deal.
Q Jay, is the White House looking for a short-term bill or a long-term bill on funding, government funding?
MR. CARNEY: We have made it very clear, Mark, that we want to get to the endgame, that we believe it’s important to deal with the full fiscal year. But obviously this is a process and there’s a lot of moving parts, and we are engaged in the negotiations.
What we think would be extremely harmful, because of the uncertainty it creates, would be to create a tollbooth where every two or three weeks you have to collectively with Congress come up with a certain amount of — certain figure, certain monetary — number figure in order to fund the government for another two or three weeks. That’s just a bad way to do business. It’s not the American way to get this done.
So we understand that this is a complex process. We’re working with our partners in Congress to get it done. And in the end, we believe we need to move quickly towards a full fiscal-year deal.
Q And on government restructuring, you said some parts of the government are acting as though it’s 19th century. Which parts are those?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think I would say that when we had Jeff Zients here last week, I think it was, to discuss his initiative to sell off something like 14,000 federal properties, that is a self-evidently obvious thing that we need to do to bring in revenue, to reduce expenditures, to make the government more efficient. And he is in the process of identifying a lot of different ways that we can reorganize government to make it work better, leaner and more efficiently for the American people, because we are in times where everybody has got to tighten their belts and do things in the most effective and efficient way.
Q Jay, just before the briefing started the AP had a report about Saudi police opened fire at a rally. I don’t know if you saw that.
MR. CARNEY: I did not, no.
Q The government said they’re not going to be tolerating protesters. Immediately afterward crude oil prices went straight up. Does the White House — or has the White House gotten any assurances from the Saudis that they would in fact make up any differences in the event of a supply disruption?
MR. CARNEY: I believe the Saudis have said publicly that they would do that.
Q They have said that. I was just wondering if there’s been any private assurance to the U.S. government.
MR. CARNEY: Well, I would just point you to the public statements. We are in consultation with the IEA and the oil-producing states — of which Saudi Arabia is one — about the unrest in the Middle East and the effect on oil prices. And as I’ve said in the past, and others have said, that we remain confident that the global system has the capacity to deal with a major disruption.
I am not a market analyst or an oil analyst, but clearly the uncertainty created by unrest in the Middle East is one of the things that is affecting prices. And what we’re talking about in terms of the actions the global system can take is regarding — regards a supply disruption. So that’s just a point I think is important to understand.
Q Jay, you said that your approach to the homegrown terrorism issue is not guilt by association. Do you think that’s what Peter King’s hearings are doing?
MR. CARNEY: I think that I will say what I said before, that congressional involvement in this issue is welcomed by this administration because we think it’s an important issue. We have made our approach very clear this week in the speech that Denis McDonough gave on Sunday, and we look forward obviously to working with Congress on this. And we will, in the process of developing a strategy, know we are close to being able to say more about it. One of the reasons why Mr. McDonough was able to give that speech on Sunday and to speak so clearly about our position is because of all the work that we have done on this issue in the past year. And it demonstrates why we believe it’s a serious issue, and it shows the approach we think that we need to take and the approach we have taken to deal with it.
Q Right, but you keep on repeating that as if it’s an approach that’s different, it seems, than the one being taken on Capitol Hill.
MR. CARNEY: I’m not.
Q You’re not?
MR. CARNEY: In fact, I begin by saying — I’m not making an assessment of that. I begin by saying what our approach is and the fact that we welcome congressional engagement on this.
Q Okay, and just a question about Libya. You’ve been criticized almost every day on the editorial pages about not being out in front and not showing leadership, and I know you’re making an effort every day –
MR. CARNEY: I take issue with that. (Laughter.)
Q I know that you’re doing a good job of taking issue with that every day. But one of the things that’s pointed out is how it seems like European leaders have been quicker to say things and call for things to happen than the President. Do you think that’s because the U.S. has unique constraints, that President Obama can’t do things the way President Sarkozy can?
MR. CARNEY: I think this is a very good question, and I don’t think it’s about what we can’t do. I think it’s about the choices that we make, because we are the United States of America and we feel it is very important in this whole process not to make the United States the issue. In the whole region, what we have seen is organic uprisings by the people of these countries demanding to be heard; to have greater access to the political process; to have their aspirations, their legitimate aspirations, addressed by their governments; and to have more democracy, more freedoms. And we support that. And that is a movement that has nothing to do with the intervention or involvement of the United States or the West. That is an important factor and has been in the past several months, and we believe it’s important to maintain that and make it clear going forward.
However, I would also say that there is a difference between what has been said and what has been done. I believe I’m right in this — and you should check — but some of the sanctions that we initiated, that have already frozen $32 billion in assets, that we initiated unilaterally, some of our European partners are now taking as I speak or have taken in the last several days. So we have moved very quickly together with our European allies and partners with the international community on a broad range of actions and shown — I think demonstrated quite a bit of leadership in making that happen.
I would point you to the fact, again, that the meetings in NATO at which the military options are being reviewed, refined and considered were called by the United States of America.
But, going back to your point, we are very committed to the idea that we have to keep this — that it is important that this is seen as an international reaction to Libya, because this is about the Libyan people; it is not about the United States and it is not about the West.
Q You’re saying if he spoke more about it, called attention to the things that you call attention to every day — that would harm — that would make it look like a U.S. –
MR. CARNEY: First of all, the President has — the President has spoken about it. I think we addressed and talked about in the early days of the unrest in Libya when there were still Americans very much potentially in harm’s way in Libya, that we had certain obligations that were paramount that we had to be mindful of. And the President has spoken very clearly and strongly about his position on Qaddafi and the Libyan regime.
Q Does the President still view the Wisconsin legislation as a assault on unions? And would he concede that Scott Walker is trying to make sure people in Wisconsin still have jobs and that state employees still have jobs in the same way that he’s trying do nationally? Would he concede this is a good faith effort to try to keep state employees hired?
MR. CARNEY: I would say — I would point to my first answer on this question, which the President absolutely believes that it is not helpful to make the tough decisions that states face, as we face in Washington, on their budgets, to turn that process into an assault on public sector employees.
Q How is it an assault on –
MR. CARNEY: And then I will point now, in answering Perry, to the — to what I said before, which is the actions taken last night, which divorced the issue of the state’s budget problems from the issue of the rights of public sector employees I think pretty clearly showed that the actions were not following the principle that we need to all come together and work together and not denigrate or vilify public sector employees, but bring them into the process and make them part of the solution. Because everybody has to sacrifice and there are examples around the country where governors and legislators, state legislatures, have worked together with public sector unions and employees to address costs in an effective way, in a way that’s not partisan or divisive. And the President believes that that is a better path.
Q Thanks, Jay.
Q Jay, can I just follow right here?
MR. CARNEY: You know what, I think we don’t want to miss the call with Tom Donilon so — let me just take one more. Yes, Ann. Well, you know, I mean, you guys can leave, but go ahead.
Q Do you know whether the President gets his daily presidential brief from the Director of National Intelligence Clapper every day, as was typical with some of Clapper’s predecessors? The reason I ask is Lindsey Graham has just asked — called for Clapper to resign.
MR. CARNEY: I will address — I mean, the President — but, yes, Director Clapper is here frequently for the PDB. What Senator Graham said is based on a real misinterpretation of what Director Clapper said today, which I addressed earlier in these questions.
Q Does the President retain full faith –
MR. CARNEY: Full faith and confidence.
2:30 P.M. EST
Tags: Barack Obama, Office of the Press Secretary, Press Briefings, United States, Whitehouse