President's Address to the Nation Press Release from the White House on 01/10/07 The Library 9 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Tonight in Iraq, the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged in a struggle that will determine the direction of the global war on terror -- and our safety here at home. The new strategy I outline tonight will change America's course in Iraq, and help us succeed in the fight against terror.
When I addressed you just over a year ago, nearly 12 million Iraqis had cast their ballots for a unified and democratic nation. The elections of 2005 were a stunning achievement. We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together, and that as we trained Iraqi security forces we could accomplish our mission with fewer American troops.
But in 2006, the opposite happened. The violence in Iraq -- particularly in Baghdad -- overwhelmed the political gains the Iraqis had made. Al Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's elections posed for their cause, and they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis. They blew up one of the holiest shrines in Shia Islam -- the Golden Mosque of Samarra -- in a calculated effort to provoke Iraq's Shia population to retaliate. Their strategy worked. Radical Shia elements, some supported by Iran, formed death squads. And the result was a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today.
The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people -- and it is unacceptable to me. Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. They have done everything we have asked them to do. Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.
It is clear that we need to change our strategy in Iraq. So my national security team, military commanders, and diplomats conducted a comprehensive review. We consulted members of Congress from both parties, our allies abroad, and distinguished outside experts. We benefitted from the thoughtful recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton. In our discussions, we all agreed that there is no magic formula for success in Iraq. And one message came through loud and clear: Failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States.
The consequences of failure are clear: Radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions. Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Our enemies would have a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the American people. On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities. For the safety of our people, America must succeed in Iraq.
The most urgent priority for success in Iraq is security, especially in Baghdad. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of the capital. This violence is splitting Baghdad into sectarian enclaves, and shaking the confidence of all Iraqis. Only Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.
Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have. Our military commanders reviewed the new Iraqi plan to ensure that it addressed these mistakes. They report that it does. They also report that this plan can work.
Now let me explain the main elements of this effort: The Iraqi government will appoint a military commander and two deputy commanders for their capital. The Iraqi government will deploy Iraqi Army and National Police brigades across Baghdad's nine districts. When these forces are fully deployed, there will be 18 Iraqi Army and National Police brigades committed to this effort, along with local police. These Iraqi forces will operate from local police stations -- conducting patrols and setting up checkpoints, and going door-to-door to gain the trust of Baghdad residents.
This is a strong commitment. But for it to succeed, our commanders say the Iraqis will need our help. So America will change our strategy to help the Iraqis carry out their campaign to put down sectarian violence and bring security to the people of Baghdad. This will require increasing American force levels. So I've committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. The vast majority of them -- five brigades -- will be deployed to Baghdad. These troops will work alongside Iraqi units and be embedded in their formations. Our troops will have a well-defined mission: to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs.
Many listening tonight will ask why this effort will succeed when previous operations to secure Baghdad did not. Well, here are the differences: In earlier operations, Iraqi and American forces cleared many neighborhoods of terrorists and insurgents, but when our forces moved on to other targets, the killers returned. This time, we'll have the force levels we need to hold the areas that have been cleared. In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter those neighborhoods -- and Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated.
I've made it clear to the Prime Minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people -- and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act. The Prime Minister understands this. Here is what he told his people just last week: "The Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation."
This new strategy will not yield an immediate end to suicide bombings, assassinations, or IED attacks. Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering. Yet over time, we can expect to see Iraqi troops chasing down murderers, fewer brazen acts of terror, and growing trust and cooperation from Baghdad's residents. When this happens, daily life will improve, Iraqis will gain confidence in their leaders, and the government will have the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas. Most of Iraq's Sunni and Shia want to live together in peace -- and reducing the violence in Baghdad will help make reconciliation possible.
A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.
To establish its authority, the Iraqi government plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November. To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis. To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs. To empower local leaders, Iraqis plan to hold provincial elections later this year. And to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation's political life, the government will reform de-Baathification laws, and establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution.
America will change our approach to help the Iraqi government as it works to meet these benchmarks. In keeping with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, we will increase the embedding of American advisers in Iraqi Army units, and partner a coalition brigade with every Iraqi Army division. We will help the Iraqis build a larger and better-equipped army, and we will accelerate the training of Iraqi forces, which remains the essential U.S. security mission in Iraq. We will give our commanders and civilians greater flexibility to spend funds for economic assistance. We will double the number of provincial reconstruction teams. These teams bring together military and civilian experts to help local Iraqi communities pursue reconciliation, strengthen the moderates, and speed the transition to Iraqi self-reliance. And Secretary Rice will soon appoint a reconstruction coordinator in Baghdad to ensure better results for economic assistance being spent in Iraq.
As we make these changes, we will continue to pursue al Qaeda and foreign fighters. Al Qaeda is still active in Iraq. Its home base is Anbar Province. Al Qaeda has helped make Anbar the most violent area of Iraq outside the capital. A captured al Qaeda document describes the terrorists' plan to infiltrate and seize control of the province. This would bring al Qaeda closer to its goals of taking down Iraq's democracy, building a radical Islamic empire, and launching new attacks on the United States at home and abroad.
Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing al Qaeda leaders, and they are protecting the local population. Recently, local tribal leaders have begun to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda. And as a result, our commanders believe we have an opportunity to deal a serious blow to the terrorists. So I have given orders to increase American forces in Anbar Province by 4,000 troops. These troops will work with Iraqi and tribal forces to keep up the pressure on the terrorists. America's men and women in uniform took away al Qaeda's safe haven in Afghanistan -- and we will not allow them to re-establish it in Iraq.
Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.
We're also taking other steps to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region. We will expand intelligence-sharing and deploy Patriot air defense systems to reassure our friends and allies. We will work with the governments of Turkey and Iraq to help them resolve problems along their border. And we will work with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region.
We will use America's full diplomatic resources to rally support for Iraq from nations throughout the Middle East. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States need to understand that an American defeat in Iraq would create a new sanctuary for extremists and a strategic threat to their survival. These nations have a stake in a successful Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors, and they must step up their support for Iraq's unity government. We endorse the Iraqi government's call to finalize an International Compact that will bring new economic assistance in exchange for greater economic reform. And on Friday, Secretary Rice will leave for the region, to build support for Iraq and continue the urgent diplomacy required to help bring peace to the Middle East.
The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life. In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy, by advancing liberty across a troubled region. It is in the interests of the United States to stand with the brave men and women who are risking their lives to claim their freedom, and to help them as they work to raise up just and hopeful societies across the Middle East.
From Afghanistan to Lebanon to the Palestinian Territories, millions of ordinary people are sick of the violence, and want a future of peace and opportunity for their children. And they are looking at Iraq. They want to know: Will America withdraw and yield the future of that country to the extremists, or will we stand with the Iraqis who have made the choice for freedom?
The changes I have outlined tonight are aimed at ensuring the survival of a young democracy that is fighting for its life in a part of the world of enormous importance to American security. Let me be clear: The terrorists and insurgents in Iraq are without conscience, and they will make the year ahead bloody and violent. Even if our new strategy works exactly as planned, deadly acts of violence will continue -- and we must expect more Iraqi and American casualties. The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success. I believe that it will.
Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship. But victory in Iraq will bring something new in the Arab world -- a functioning democracy that polices its territory, upholds the rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties, and answers to its people. A democratic Iraq will not be perfect. But it will be a country that fights terrorists instead of harboring them -- and it will help bring a future of peace and security for our children and our grandchildren.
This new approach comes after consultations with Congress about the different courses we could take in Iraq. Many are concerned that the Iraqis are becoming too dependent on the United States, and therefore, our policy should focus on protecting Iraq's borders and hunting down al Qaeda. Their solution is to scale back America's efforts in Baghdad -- or announce the phased withdrawal of our combat forces. We carefully considered these proposals. And we concluded that to step back now would force a collapse of the Iraqi government, tear the country apart, and result in mass killings on an unimaginable scale. Such a scenario would result in our troops being forced to stay in Iraq even longer, and confront an enemy that is even more lethal. If we increase our support at this crucial moment, and help the Iraqis break the current cycle of violence, we can hasten the day our troops begin coming home.
In the days ahead, my national security team will fully brief Congress on our new strategy. If members have improvements that can be made, we will make them. If circumstances change, we will adjust. Honorable people have different views, and they will voice their criticisms. It is fair to hold our views up to scrutiny. And all involved have a responsibility to explain how the path they propose would be more likely to succeed.
Acting on the good advice of Senator Joe Lieberman and other key members of Congress, we will form a new, bipartisan working group that will help us come together across party lines to win the war on terror. This group will meet regularly with me and my administration; it will help strengthen our relationship with Congress. We can begin by working together to increase the size of the active Army and Marine Corps, so that America has the Armed Forces we need for the 21st century. We also need to examine ways to mobilize talented American civilians to deploy overseas, where they can help build democratic institutions in communities and nations recovering from war and tyranny.
In these dangerous times, the United States is blessed to have extraordinary and selfless men and women willing to step forward and defend us. These young Americans understand that our cause in Iraq is noble and necessary -- and that the advance of freedom is the calling of our time. They serve far from their families, who make the quiet sacrifices of lonely holidays and empty chairs at the dinner table. They have watched their comrades give their lives to ensure our liberty. We mourn the loss of every fallen American -- and we owe it to them to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.
Fellow citizens: The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve. It can be tempting to think that America can put aside the burdens of freedom. Yet times of testing reveal the character of a nation. And throughout our history, Americans have always defied the pessimists and seen our faith in freedom redeemed. Now America is engaged in a new struggle that will set the course for a new century. We can, and we will, prevail.
We go forward with trust that the Author of Liberty will guide us through these trying hours. Thank you and good night.
END 9:21 P.M. EST
For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary January 8, 2007
President Bush Marks Fifth Anniversary of No Child Left Behind The Oval Office 1:56 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Laura and I want to thank Senator Kennedy and Congressman George Miller and Congressman McKeon and Senator Enzi for joining us as we celebrate the fifth anniversary of No Child Left Behind and discuss our strategy to reauthorize this important piece of legislation.
I want to thank the members for joining us. I am proud of this piece of legislation. I think it's made an enormous difference, particularly in the lives of some of our poorer students. This country needs to get it right when it comes to public education, and the bill that I was honored to sign is an important first step toward making sure every child gets a good education in America.
And in our discussions today, we've all agreed to work together to address some of the major concerns that some people have on this piece of legislation, without weakening the essence of the bill, and get a piece of legislation done. We showed in the past that we can work together to get positive results, and I'm confident we can do so again.
Again, I appreciate the wisdom and the vision of the members who are here. I thank you for your steadfast and strong support for our public schools and the children in our public schools, and I'm looking forward to working with you to reauthorize No Child Left Behind.
Thank you all very much. END 1:58 P.M. EST
For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary January 8, 2007
President Bush Welcomes European Commission President José Barroso to the White House Oval Office 12:09 P.M. EST
PRESIDENT BUSH: I'm very pleased to welcome back my friend, José Barroso; thank you. We just had a great discussion about the importance between -- of relations between the United States and the European Union. José has got a really important job and I think he's doing it really well.
Our discussion was frank, it was open. We talked about the importance of the transatlantic relationship and how we can work to improve it. We talked about the importance for Europe and the United States to resolve any differences we have when it comes to the Doha round for trade, so that we can promote international trade. We both recognize that the best way to help impoverished nations is to complete this Doha round and to encourage the spread of wealth and opportunity through open and reasonable and fair trade.
José and I talked about the Middle East. There's no question that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is on a lot of people's minds. We are dedicated to a two-state solution, two democracies living side-by-side in peace. And we talked about ways that we need to work together to see if we can't bring that vision to fruition.
We're going to talk about Darfur here at lunch. I know that José is as committed as I am to helping solve what I've called a genocide. It is outrageous that people are being treated the way they are, and I'm confident Europe and the United States can work with other friends and allies around the world to help solve that difficult problem.
We talked about Iran. We talked about Syria. We talked about Iraq. We talked about a lot of issues. We also talked about the importance of energy independence and, at the same time, being wise stewards of the environment. We are very hopeful that the use of technologies and good policy will help us diversify our energy supplies and be able to assure future generations that the environment of the world will be better off.
And so I thought it was a constructive dialogue. Glad to have you back.
PRESIDENT BARROSO: Thank you very much, George. It was, indeed, a pleasure to meet again, President Bush. We have now these very regular meetings. And it's always a great occasion to exchange views on such important subjects.
In fact, we have considered bilateral and global issues. On bilateral, I underlined the importance we give to further -- to make go further, go faster, to go deeper in our economic transatlantic partnership. This is the most important economic relation in the world, the relation between the United States of America and the European Union. And we believe we can achieve more if we look at it in a comprehensive manner. And I hope that now there will be some concrete work so that in our regular institutional summit between the European Union and the United States we can achieve some more complete results.
Of course, the most crucial factor is the successful negotiations for Doha. Doha is not just about trade, it's also about development, it's about having a multilateral approach to trade. There is now the defining moment. We are really at defining moment, and we had a very good exchange, and we gave instructions to all negotiators to come with a solution as soon as possible. And of course it is important to engage also others, because this is a real global agreement that we are trying to build. And this will be a very important signal for the world community if we show that it is possible to have a global approach to trade and development.
Another global issue, but where United States and Europe have a very good -- and we hope to improve relation and dialogue -- is precisely energy and climate. When we speak about climate change, it's not just about the environment -- of course environment is crucially important -- but it is also about global security, it's also about economic development and sustainability.
And so we are hoping to deepen our dialogue on climate change, on technologies, on curbing emissions, on progress, in terms of energy efficiency, and in security. Of course the key is diversification -- diversification in all aspects, and we believe the work going on between our respective experts is a good signal of the commitment of our joint commitment to fight climate change and also to have a more common approach to the problems of global security regarding energy.
We will, of course, consider other issues in the working lunch we're going to have. President Bush just spoke about Darfur. I've been in Darfur recently. I can tell you that it's really a tragedy, what's going on, and we cannot accept that tragedy going on without the united response of the international community.
So, once again, it was a pleasure meeting President Bush in the White House. I'm very much looking forward to other occasions where we can show to the world that this relation, the relation between Europe and the United States of America is, indeed, more important than ever.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thanks, José. Thank you. END 12:15 P.M. EST
For Immediate Release January 6, 2007
President's Radio Address
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Earlier this week, the newly elected members of the House and the Senate took their oaths of office and became part of the 110th Congress. I congratulate them all, and I look forward to working with them over the next two years.
Since the November elections, I've had a number of productive meetings with the new leaders in Congress, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. I was encouraged by our discussions, and I'm confident that we can find common ground in our efforts to serve our fellow citizens and to move our country forward.
One area where we are already finding agreement is in our effort to spend the people's money wisely. This week, I announced that I will submit a five-year budget proposal that will balance the federal budget by 2012, while making the tax relief we passed permanent. Some Democrats have indicated that balancing the budget is a top priority for them as well. By holding the line on spending and continuing our pro-growth policies, we can balance the budget and address the most urgent needs of our Nation, which are winning the war on terror and maintaining a strong national defense, keeping our economy growing, and creating jobs.
We also see bipartisan agreement emerging on reforming the earmark process in Congress. Earmarks are spending provisions that are often slipped into bills at the last minute -- so they rarely get debated or discussed. Many earmarks divert precious funds away from vital priorities like national defense and education to wasteful pork-barrel projects. I appreciate Democratic leaders who have pledged to maintain our current levels of spending without additional earmarks this year. And I support the temporary moratorium on all new earmarks announced by the Democrats.
This is a good start, but I believe we can do more. This week, I proposed my own earmark reforms, which would make the earmark process more transparent, end the practice of concealing earmarks in so-called report language never included in legislation, and cut the number and costs of earmarks by at least half. These common-sense reforms will help prevent billions of taxpayers' dollars from being spent on unnecessary earmarks.
Another area where Democrats and Republicans can work together is in the effort to improve our schools. We have done so before. In my first year as President, Democrats and Republicans saw that our schools were failing too many students, so we worked together to pass the No Child Left Behind Act. This good law gave our schools new resources -- and in return, we asked them to show results. By setting high standards and measuring student progress, we're holding schools accountable for teaching every student to read, write, add, and subtract.
Since No Child Left Behind was passed, we have seen major improvements in student achievement all across America. In reading, nine-year-olds have made larger gains in the last five years of the test than in the previous 28 years. In math, nine-year-olds and 13-year-olds earned the highest scores in the history of the test. And in both reading and math, African-American and Hispanic students are scoring higher and starting to close the achievement gap.
This year the No Child Left Behind Act is up for reauthorization. I'm confident that both parties can work together to help our Nation's students. By reauthorizing this important legislation, we can help make our schools a gateway to opportunity for every child.
With this new Congress and new year, Democrats and Republicans will have many opportunities to serve the American people. We must rise to meet those opportunities and build a stronger and more compassionate Nation for generations to come.
Thank you for listening.
For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary January 5, 2007
Fact Sheet: John Negroponte and Mike McConnell: The Right Choices for Deputy Secretary of State and Director of National Intelligence
Today, President Bush Announced That He Intends To Nominate Ambassador John Negroponte As Deputy Secretary Of State – And Vice Admiral Mike McConnell As Director Of National Intelligence (DNI).
Ambassador John Negroponte
Ambassador John Negroponte Knows The State Department Well – He Started There As A Foreign Service Officer In 1960. He has served in eight Foreign Service posts spanning three continents. He served as Deputy National Security Advisor to President Reagan, represented America at the United Nations, and served as our first Ambassador to a free Iraq. For nearly two years, Ambassador Negroponte has done a superb job as America's first Director of National Intelligence.
Under The Leadership Of Secretary Rice, The Men And Women Of The State Department Are Working To Expand Freedom And Defend America's Interests Around The World. The Deputy Secretary of State has a key role in shaping American foreign policy, and in guiding our diplomats deployed around the globe. The Deputy Secretary also helps our Nation's chief diplomat manage the State Department and helps coordinate with other Federal agencies so that America speaks to the world with one voice.
Vice Admiral Mike McConnell
Admiral Mike McConnell Has The Experience, Intellect, And Character To Succeed As Director Of National Intelligence. He served as Director of the National Security Agency during the 1990s. He was the Intelligence Officer for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the liberation of Kuwait in Operation Desert Storm. He has decades of experience ensuring that our military forces have the intelligence they need to fight and win wars. He has worked with Congress and the White House to strengthen our defenses against threats to our information systems. Admiral McConnell has earned our Nation's highest award for service in the intelligence community.
As DNI, Admiral McConnell Will Report Directly To The President, And Will Provide The President And His National Security Team With Accurate And Timely Intelligence.
The DNI Has Become A Core Part Of Our National Security Team. The DNI determines the national intelligence budget, oversees the collection and analysis of intelligence information, ensures that intelligence agencies share information with each other, and creates common standards for intelligence community personnel. The vigilance of the DNI helps keep the American people safe from harm.
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For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary January 5, 2007
President Bush Nominates John Negroponte as Deputy Secretary of State and Vice Admiral Mike McConnell as Director of National Intelligence The Roosevelt Room
9:45 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Vice President, thank you. Madam Secretary, thank you for joining us. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the White House. I am pleased to announce that I intend to nominate Ambassador John Negroponte to be our next Deputy Secretary of State, and Vice Admiral Mike McConnell to be America's next Director of National Intelligence.
Under the leadership of Secretary Rice, the men and women of the State Department are working to expand freedom and defend America's interests around the world. The Deputy Secretary of State is a key role in shaping American foreign policy and in guiding our diplomats deployed around the globe. The Deputy Secretary also helps our nation's chief diplomat manage the State Department, and helps coordinate with other federal agencies so that America speaks to the world with one voice.
I have asked John Negroponte to serve in this vital position at this crucial moment. John Negroponte knows the State Department well. After all, he started there in 1960 as a Foreign Service Officer in the administration of President Eisenhower. In the four-and-a-half decades since, he has served our nation in eight Foreign Service posts, spanning three continents. He served as Deputy National Security Advisor to President Reagan. He represented America at the United Nations. He served as our first ambassador to a free Iraq. And for nearly two years, John has done a superb job as America's first Director of National Intelligence.
John Negroponte's broad experience, sound judgment and expertise on Iraq and in the war on terror make him a superb choice as Deputy Secretary of State, and I look forward to working with him in this new post.
Ambassador Negroponte leaves big shoes to fill as the Director of National Intelligence. The DNI has become a core part of our national security team. The DNI determines the national intelligence budget, overseas the collection and analysis of intelligence information, ensures that intelligence agencies share information with each other, and creates common standards for intelligence community personnel. The vigilance of the DNI helps keep the American people safe from harm.
Admiral Mike McConnell has the experience, the intellect, and the character to succeed in this position. He served as Director of the National Security Agency during the 1990s. He was the intelligence officer for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the liberation of Kuwait in Operation Desert Storm. Admiral McConnell has decades of experience, ensuring that our military forces had the intelligence they need to fight and win wars.
He's worked with the Congress and with the White House to strengthen our defenses against threats to our information systems. He has earned our nation's highest award for service in the intelligence community. As DNI, Mike will report directly to me, and I am confident he will give me the best information and analysis that America's intelligence community can provide.
I thank John and Mike for taking on these new challenges. I appreciate their service to our country. Each of them will do good work in their new positions. And it is vital they take up their new responsibilities promptly. I'm confident the United States Senate will also see the value of these two serving in crucial positions. And I would hope that they would be confirmed as quickly as possible.
Congratulations to you both. Thank you very much.
AMBASSADOR NEGROPONTE: Thank you very much, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Secretary Rice, Admiral McConnell. It's been a great honor, Mr. President, to serve as your first Director of National Intelligence. I will always be grateful to you for having given me the opportunity to help achieve the goals that you and the Congress set for intelligence reform.
During the past 20 months, I believe that our intelligence community has embraced the challenge of functioning as a single unified enterprise, and reaffirmed the fact that it is the best intelligence community in the world, second to none. That's to the credit of the hundreds -- the thousands of intelligence professionals who serve this nation around the globe, many in harm's way. They and their families make great sacrifices to keep America safe. It has been a privilege to lead them, and it is because of them that I leave the post of the Director of National Intelligence with regret.
But I am heartened to know that the intelligence community now will be led by Admiral Mike McConnell, a man whose exceptional accomplishments as an intelligence professional will ensure wise stewardship and success as the Director of National Intelligence. Admiral McConnell will continue to drive forward the reforms we have initiated, fully integrating the domestic, foreign and military dimensions of our national intelligence enterprise.
Now for someone who started his career as a junior foreign service officer in October of 1960, the position, Mr. President, to which you are now nominating me is a -- an opportunity of a lifetime. If confirmed by the Senate as Deputy Secretary of State, I look forward to supporting Secretary Rice in carrying out your foreign policy goals. I particularly welcome the opportunity to help her provide leadership to the thousands of Americans and foreign nationals who work in the Department of State here in the United States, and in the more than 270 embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions the Department maintains overseas.
Whether in Baghdad, Kabul, Kosovo, or elsewhere, these dedicated professionals are on the front line of advancing America's commitment to freedom. It will be a great privilege for me to come home to the Department where I began my career and rejoin a community of colleagues whose work is so important and of whom the nation is so justly proud.
Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Good job. Thank you. Michael.
VICE ADMIRAL McCONNELL: Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Secretary Rice, Ambassador. Thank you very much, sir, for your kind remarks and your vote of confidence in asking me to become your second Director of National Intelligence. If confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to serving you, Mr. President, the nation's senior leadership and all the great men and women of our national security and homeland security communities.
I understand these people rely on timely and useful intelligence every day. After spending most of my adult life in the intelligence community, focused on getting the right information to the right decision-maker in the right time and format, I'm excited about returning.
Fortunately, my work over the past 10 years after leaving government has allowed me to stay focused on the national security and intelligence communities as a strategist and as a consultant. Therefore, in many respects, I never left. I have followed the issues and the initiatives, and I hope to be quickly and directly relevant to build on the many accomplishments of Ambassador Negroponte and his team.
Unlike just a decade ago, the threats of today and the future are moving at increasing speeds and across organizational and geographic boundaries. This will require increased coordinated responsiveness by our community of intelligence professionals. I plan to continue the strong emphasis on integration of the community to better serve all of our customers. That will mean better sharing of information, increased focus on customer needs and service, improved security processes, and deeper penetration of our targets to provide the needed information for tactical, operational and strategic decision-making.
Public service has always been my passion. I look forward to serving this great nation as we continue to fight on the global war on terrorism and to face the many new challenges of the new century.
I want to thank my wife, Terry, and my wonderful family and our grandchildren for their support as I take on these new challenges.
Thank you again, Mr. President. All the best, Mr. Ambassador, for your new leadership role at the Department of State.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all.
END 9:55 A.M. EST
For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary January 4, 2007
President Bush Welcomes Chancellor Merkel of Germany to the White House Cross Hall
PRESIDENT BUSH: Madam Chancellor, thank you. Welcome back to Washington. It's good to welcome you here to the White House. And Laura and I are looking forward to feeding you dinner. I'm not so sure it's going to be as good a dinner as the barbecue you fed us -- (laughter) -- but we'll try.
This new year marks the beginning of Germany's presidency of both the EU and the G8. And we just had a wide-ranging discussion about a lot of issues. We talked about the Chancellor's ambitious agenda for both those leadership roles. We discussed how we can continue to work together to promote prosperity and security and peace.
We spent time talking about Afghanistan, and I appreciate very much, Madam Chancellor, your support for the people of Afghanistan. You take your NATO commitments seriously. We're proud to serve alongside such a strong ally.
We talked about Iran, and I thanked Chancellor Merkel's strong support for a Chapter 7 Iranian -- Chapter 7 United Nations Security Council resolution on Iran. It was an important message to send Iran, that the free world wants there to be a peaceful future. And we don't see a peaceful future with the Iranians developing a nuclear weapon. And so I want to thank you for your leadership, Madam Chancellor. We're going to continue to work together on the Iranian issue. It's important for us to follow through in order -- on this Chapter 7 resolution in order to solve this issue peacefully.
We talked about the Israeli-Palestinian issue. And Madam Chancellor had a good idea to convene the Quartet, which I agreed to. I think the Quartet ought to meet at an appropriate time. Condoleezza Rice will be going to the Middle East here shortly. She'll come back to report to not only me but also to the Chancellor, about how we can move the process forward. We're committed -- strongly committed to a two-state solution with Israeli and Palestine living side by side in peace, two democracies supporting each other's rights to exist. I'm optimistic that we can achieve that objective; I'm looking forward to working with the Chancellor to do so.
We talked about Lebanon. And one thing is for certain, this administration -- and I'm confident Chancellor Merkel, as well -- will support the Siniora government. Isn't it amazing that young democracies are constantly attacked by radicals and extremists, and Lebanon is such an example. And I believe those of us who are fortunate enough to live in free societies have an obligation to support democracies like that of Lebanon.
We talked about Darfur. I appreciate very much Chancellor Merkel's deep concern for the suffering that goes on in Darfur. You may realize that my administration has called the suffering there a genocide. We take the issue very seriously. We expect the Bashar government to make more progress toward allowing there to be not only security, but goods and supplies provided to the people that suffer there. And Madam Chancellor understands the issue. I appreciate the fact that German planes are flying relief into Darfur. Your great country is making a strong commitment and we look forward to working with you as the head of the EU, as well, to help end the suffering there in that part of Africa.
We talked about trade. We're committed to the Doha round. We've got hard work to do to overcome our obstacles. But we spent a -- we had a good, frank discussion on the subject. Jose Barroso and his trade minister will be coming to the United States on Monday; we'll continue to further our dialogue on Doha. But I believe we can get a deal done -- it's just going to take a lot of will and a lot of hard work to do it. I know it is going to be necessary if we really do want to deal with global poverty, to have a successful round at Doha. Trade is the best way to help poor nations develop their economy so that people can realize the benefits of wealth moving throughout their society.
We talked about climate change. And I assured the Chancellor that I've been committed to promoting new technologies that will promote energy efficiency, and at the same time do a better job of protecting the world's environment. And I believe there's a chance now to put behind us the old, stale debates of the past and focus on technological developments that will enable us to be good stewards of the environment, and at the same time enable us to become less dependent on oil and hydrocarbons from parts of the world that may not like us.
Here in the United States, we're going full-steam ahead with new technologies that will change the way we drive our cars and power our homes and light our streets. And so, Madam Chancellor, we've discussed a lot. We'll have a chance to further our discussions over dinner. I'm so happy you're here. I appreciate you taking time to come and visit. The floor is yours.
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: (As translated) -- and the G8 presidency and the fact that this trip here to Washington happens today are certainly not a matter of coincidence, but it is clearly an expression of the fact that we share values, that there are a lot of common interests between our two countries, and that there is also a lot of need for enhanced cooperation between the European Union and the United States of America. We clearly are in need of that cooperation in order to make further progress in solving the problems besetting the world of today.
There are a lot of issues that we debated here today that have clearly a connection to our presence in the European Union. The Doha Round is one issue that comes to mind. We would like to cooperate very closely on that. We are all aware of the fact that this window of opportunity that we have is closing fast. We need to act swiftly. And it was with great pleasure that this is, indeed, an issue that is very important, not only to the European Union, but also to the United States of America.
We will have to further exchange also our views with the G20 in order to achieve an objective that is in our interest and is in their interest, that helps them to get access to our markets and that also helps us.
There will be a G8 meeting later on in the year, and there will be issues related to that that will deal with the climate change, is one. I was delighted to hear that there is a readiness here and we shall continue to work on this -- our experts, indeed, work on this.
On the one hand, we obviously need economic growth. But on the other hand, a reduction, also, of greenhouse gases. We were at one on this. And energy efficiency is the primary goal that we need to attain. There are a lot of areas where we are confident we can cooperate, starting from biofuels to new technologies that we are going to develop. Between the European Union and the United States, I think there is a wide scope for further talks on this.
We also talked about this project of a future common market, joint efforts to make our economic forces so efficient that these economies, our two economies that, after all, rest on the same values, can be rendered more efficient. There will be close contacts; we will set up a working group that will further explore those issues and that will then prepare for the EU-U.S. summit.
It's certainly an uphill battle. I always describe it as a sort of thick board that needs to be chalked at. And what we're dealing here with is, for example, patent laws, international financial markets, protection of intellectual property rights, and so on.
We also talked about the international situation, the situation particularly here in the Middle East. We thought that, for example, in the framework of the Quartet, the European Union can do a lot in order to bring about a solution to the problems besetting the Middle East. I'm delighted to hear that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is going to go to the region shortly. I think this is the right point in time to take some time and reflect what the Quartet can actually do in order to bring about a solution.
We would like the European Union to speak with one and the same voice, saying we want a two-state solution, we want the recognition of the state of Israel by the Palestinians, we want to strengthen President Abbas, and we also want to strengthen, to bolster the evolution of a strong Lebanon. We discussed this today, too, and we also discussed the measures that we think need to be taken.
We cooperate very well in Afghanistan. It was an issue that we discussed at greater length during the NATO meeting in Riga. There will by the end of January be a NATO meeting on that particular issue. I think this is going to be actually very important, that particular meeting, in order to take up where we left off in Riga, to concentrate on military projects, obviously, but also to give a very strong boost to civilian projects so that we might continue to build on what we agreed during the last NATO meeting.
Obviously, we also talked about the situation in Iraq. Allow me to say although Germany is not militarily present in Iraq, we have every interest in seeing Iraq taking a turn for a more peaceful development, where people no longer need to be in fear of their lives, and that politically we shall do everything we can in order to give support to such a positive development.
Well, my impression is that over the next six months during our presidency there is a lot on the agenda. There are a lot of common interests, as a I said, and a lot of areas where I feel we can tackle problems together. And I think this dialogue is just the beginning of a very intensive dialogue we shall continue to have during our presidency -- this is, after all, a sixth meeting already. So I think we may safely speak of a continuous exchange of views. Thank you yet again for the invitation, Mr. President.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You spoke for nearly two hours today with Iraq's Prime Minister. Do you both agree now on the need to send more U.S. troops to Iraq to deal with the rising violence in that country?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, Ben, my thinking is taking shape. I'll be ready to outline a strategy that will help the Iraqis achieve the objective of a country that can govern, sustain and defend itself sometime next week; I've still got consultations to go through. Whatever decision I make, though, will be all aimed at achieving our objective.
I did have a good discussion with Prime Minister Maliki. It did nearly last for two hours. I talked about a lot of topics with him. One thing I was looking for was will -- to determine whether or not he has the will necessary to do the hard work to protect his people. And I told him, I said that, you show the will, we will help you. And that's -- I'm in the process of making up my final decision as to what to recommend -- what recommendations to accept. One thing is for certain, I will want to make sure that the mission is clear and specific and can be accomplished.
Q Madam Chancellor, Mr. President, concerning the Middle East and the revival of the Quartet, did you consider to enlarge the mandate of the Quartet? And there have been talks in Europe about including Lebanon problems, maybe even talks to Syria and broadening the mandate of this, since last summer during the conflict of the northern border between Israel and southern Lebanon, you learned that all these problems are interlinked.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Your first part of your question? I didn't hear the first part of your question.
Q I was just referring --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Broaden the Quartet, is that what you said?
Q That broaden -- mandate of the Quartet, that you take care of more than the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
PRESIDENT BUSH: My view is the Quartet ought to stay focused on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, because when we solve that problem, a lot of other problems will be easier to solve.
Secondly, Syria knows exactly what she needs to do in order to reenter the nation -- reenter the -- you know, to be viewed as a nation that's constructive. And my own view is, is that we need to proceed with the Hariri tribunal as fast as possible, and hold people to account. If they murder somebody, they need to be held to account. People need to -- they need to bring this to conclusion.
So my attitude on Syria is they can be a much more constructive partner and they haven't been. They don't need to be told that in meeting after meeting after meeting. They get told that right here in a press conference like this. They know exactly what they need to do. And it's their choice to make.
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: I think that the Quartet actually has its work cut out for it, looking at the Middle East conflict, first and foremost. I mean, it needs to be spelled out clearly what one actually wants to achieve, and the players in the region need to have the necessary willingness to bring about a solution. They can be supported by the Quartet, and international unified opinion can be set up through the Quartet.
But I think the main task, really, is to push matters along, to give a support to Prime Minister Siniora to develop a truly sovereign Lebanon. I think Syria needs to be given a push there. And Syria, I think looking at, for example, the efforts made by the European Union, looking at the fact that the Foreign Minister of Germany went there to talk to them, Syria has been given a lot of opportunities. Unfortunately, they have allowed those opportunities to pass without taking any action. We expect Syria to change, but unfortunately so far, we haven't received any optimistic messages to that effect.
Q Mr. President, you mentioned that you see national reconciliation as a crucial goal there for your policy. Why then haven't you condemned the taunting that Saddam Hussein faced on the gallows from Shiite officials? And on a related subject, can you be more specific as to which day next week you'll be unveiling your Iraq policy?
THE PRESIDENT: The second part of your question, no. (Laughter.) First part of your question, I want you to anticipate the speech -- I want you to be thinking about it. I want you to be internalizing it.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I talked to Prime Minister Maliki about the videotape that was released during the execution of Saddam Hussein. He said he's going to fully investigate what happened. I appreciate that very much. One thing is for certain: A horrific chapter in Iraqi history has been closed, and now we're talking about a more hopeful chapter for the Iraqi people. And that's what I spent most of my time talking to him about.
We expect there to be a full investigation of what took place. The Iraqi people want to move forward, they want to forget that terrible part of their past and they want to live in peace. And it's in our nation's interest to help them do so.
So I spent a lot of time talking about the strategy to help achieve that objective, and that objective is a country that is an ally in this war on terror, a country that sends a strong example to reformers and women throughout the Middle East that it's possible to live in a free society that can work for the common good. I believe Prime Minister Maliki has the will necessary to make the tough decisions. That's one of the things I learned today. And in the meantime, he said he's going to fully investigate what took place.
Q Sir, do you have a personal reaction, though --
PRESIDENT BUSH: My personal reaction is, is that Saddam Hussein was given a trial that he was unwilling to give the thousands of people he killed. He was given a fair trial -- something he was unwilling to give thousands of Iraqi citizens, who he brutalized. I wish, obviously, that the proceedings had been done in a more dignified way. But, nevertheless, he was given justice; the thousands of people he killed were not.
Q I have a question to the President, and then a question to the Chancellor. Mr. President, now Germany tries to have a new action of the Middle East Quartet. And the debate always is how can European powers influence a superpower like the United States? Whether Germany objected Iraq or Tony Blair got along in Iraq, they had not much influence, the pessimists say. Can you give us one example where you changed your mind after talking to a European leader?
And, Mrs. Merkel, there are actually few successes of the Quartet over the past time. Were the efforts so weak, or are the problems so great that they simply have not been able to achieve progress? And what does this mean, what does this spell out for renewal of efforts?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I have come to realize that -- I don't know if I'd call this "change of mind," but one thing that my European friends have taught me is that the United Nations is an important body in order to be able to convince parliaments of hard work that needs to be done. For example, getting resolutions on Iraq at the United Nations is important for a country like Denmark or Holland, in order for them to go to their parliaments and say, we have U.N. approval.
As you probably are aware, I've really never felt like the United States needs to get United Nations approval to make decisions necessary for our security. But I have come to realize that other countries do rely upon the United Nations and I respect that a lot. So there's an area, for example, where I have been taught a lesson by my allies and friends.
I listen to Angela Merkel a lot. She has got a lot of wisdom. I don't know if this helps her or hurts her for me to say this, but nevertheless, my consultations with Angela are very productive and very important.
The United States needs to have good relations with Europe in order for us to achieve big objectives, whether it be trade or peace or security, it's -- the relations between Europe and the United States are vital. And sometimes the relations are -- can be difficult. Not every country agrees throughout Europe. And yet Angela always gives me good advice as to how to deal with the common problems we face in order to make sure that our alliance works for the common good. And I appreciate that very much.
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: I simply think that we ought to try time and again to achieve some sort of results in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Looking at another field, for example, the adoption of the resolution on Iran, after all, we were able, looking at the past months to forge a uniform position of the international community and have that reflected in a resolution of the United Nations Security Council. I think that's an enormous success, although things went obviously more slowly than if the EU and the United States, for example, had negotiated together.
But by including Russia and China time and again in these negotiations, what evolved out of that process is an international community that is credibly being able to show Iran where there is a red line. And I think it's essential to see that the European Union, the United States, China and Russia need to pull in the same direction on a number of other international issues.
And I think it's very important that that goes for the Quartet, for example, too, because that's where I think that we will be able to make -- it's an ideal forum where we can actually be able to make a difference and in a coherent fashion.
If that Quartet were to be more active, therefore, in the future, the presidency and also the Commission would obviously also have to meet a very specific task in fulfilling that -- its part of the mandate. We need to make it clear, particularly to the not so constructive parts of Hamas, that they cannot play us off each other -- us, that is the EU and the United States -- but that we pull in the same direction, that we move in concert.
And I must say I am a strong believer in this multilateral effort in these international fora, because it shows clearly where the red line is to those who do not wish for democracy. And this is what we need to do, time and again make it clear to them where the limits are, where the red lines are.
PRESIDENT BUSH: No back rubs. (Laughter.)
END 6:57 P.M. EST
For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary January 3, 2007
President Bush Meets with Cabinet, Proposes Balanced Budget and Earmark Reform Rose Garden
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. We just finished our first Cabinet meeting of 2007. I want to thank my Cabinet officers for joining me here. We discussed our priorities for the next two years, and how we plan to achieve them. The Congress has changed; our obligations to the country haven't changed.
Tomorrow, members of the 110th Congress will take their oaths of office, and I congratulate them. I welcome their arrival into town. I'm looking forward to working with them, and so are members of my Cabinet. We've all been entrusted with public office at a momentous time in our nation's history. And together we have important things to do. It's time to set aside politics and focus on the future.
I've been encouraged by the productive meetings that I've had with many of the new leaders of Congress, people from both parties. I want to thank them for coming down to the White House and talking to me about their ambitions and their goals for our country. I'm hopeful that Republicans and Democrats can find common ground to serve our folks, to do our jobs, to be constructive for our country.
One area where we must work together is that we've got to make sure we spend the people's money wisely. Over the past few years, pro-growth economic policies have generated higher revenues. Together with spending restraint, these policies allowed us to meet our goal of cutting the budget deficit in half three years ahead of schedule. We did so without taxing the working people. We kept taxes low.
It's now time to take the next step. Next month I will submit a five-year budget proposal that will balance the federal budget by 2012. This budget will restrain spending while setting priorities. It will address the most urgent needs of our nation, in particular the need to protect ourselves from radicals and terrorists; the need to win the war on terror; the need to maintain a strong national defense; and the need to keep this economy growing by making tax relief permanent.
By balancing the budget through pro-growth economic policies and spending restraint, we are better positioned to tackle longer-term fiscal challenges facing our country, namely the entitlement programs. These programs need to be reformed for the sake of younger Americans. We need to reform Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid so future generations of Americans can benefit from these vital programs without bankrupting our country.
Another area where we can work together is to reform the earmark process. One important message we all should take from the elections is that people want to end the secretive process by which Washington insiders are able to get billions of dollars directed to projects, many of them pork barrel projects that have never been reviewed or voted on by the Congress.
Some of the earmarks are not even included in legislation. They are stuffed into committee reports that have never been passed, and are never signed into law. Earmarks often divert precious funds from vital priorities like national defense. And each year they cost the taxpayers billions of dollars.
I appreciate the fact that Senator Byrd and Congressman Obey, the Democrats who will lead the appropriations process in the new Congress, heard the same message. For this year's budget, they pledged to maintain current levels of spending without additional earmarks. They agreed to a temporary moratorium on all earmarks. And this is a good start, and I appreciate their position. I also appreciate the fact that House Republicans last fall passed strong earmark reform idea -- put forth earmark reform ideas. And I appreciate their hard work.
But we need to do more. Here's my own view to end the "dead of the night" process: Congress needs to adopt real reform that requires full disclosure of the sponsors, the costs, the recipients, and the justifications for every earmark. Congress needs to stop the practice of concealing earmarks in so-called report language. And Congress needs to cut the number and cost of earmarks next year by at least half.
To help rein in wasteful spending and restore fiscal discipline in Washington, I call on Congress to give the President the tool that 43 governors have, a line-item veto.
There are just a few of the issues that we're going to need to work on in the year ahead. This new year brings new opportunities for progress, and I'm looking forward to working with the new Congress.
Thank you for your time.
END 10:25 A.M. EST
For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary January 2, 2007
President Bush Attends Funeral Service for President Ford at the National Cathedral The Washington National Cathedral Washington, D.C.
THE PRESIDENT: Mrs. Ford, the Ford family; distinguished guests, including our Presidents and First Ladies; and our fellow citizens:
We are here today to say goodbye to a great man. Gerald Ford was born and reared in the American heartland. He belonged to a generation that measured men by their honesty and their courage. He grew to manhood under the roof of a loving mother and father -- and when times were tough, he took part-time jobs to help them out. In President Ford, the world saw the best of America -- and America found a man whose character and leadership would bring calm and healing to one of the most divisive moments in our nation's history.
Long before he was known in Washington, Gerald Ford showed his character and his leadership. As a star football player for the University of Michigan, he came face to face with racial prejudice when Georgia Tech came to Ann Arbor for a football game. One of Michigan's best players was an African American student named Willis Ward. Georgia Tech said they would not take the field if a black man were allowed to play. Gerald Ford was furious at Georgia Tech for making the demand, and for the University of Michigan for caving in. He agreed to play only after Willis Ward personally asked him to. The stand Gerald Ford took that day was never forgotten by his friend. And Gerald Ford never forgot that day either -- and three decades later, he proudly supported the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in the United States Congress.
Gerald Ford showed his character in the devotion to his family. On the day he became President, he told the nation, "I am indebted to no man, and only to one woman -- to my dear wife." By then Betty Ford had a pretty good idea of what marriage to Gerald Ford involved. After all, their wedding had taken place less than three weeks before his first election to the United States Congress, and his idea of a "honeymoon" was driving to Ann Arbor with his bride so they could attend a brunch before the Michigan-Northwestern game the next day. (Laughter.) And that was the beginning of a great marriage. The Fords would have four fine children. And Steve, Jack, Mike, and Susan know that, as proud as their Dad was of being President, Gerald Ford was even prouder of the other titles he held: father, and grandfather, and great-grandfather.
Gerald Ford showed his character in the uniform of our country. When Pearl Harbor was attacked in December 1941, Gerald Ford was an attorney fresh out of Yale Law School, but when his nation called he did not hesitate. In early 1942 he volunteered for the Navy and, after receiving his commission, worked hard to get assigned to a ship headed into combat. Eventually his wish was granted, and Lieutenant Ford was assigned to the aircraft carrier, USS Monterey, which saw action in some of the biggest battles of the Pacific.
Gerald Ford showed his character in public office. As a young congressman, he earned a reputation for an ability to get along with others without compromising his principles. He was greatly admired by his colleagues and they trusted him a lot. And so when President Nixon needed to replace a vice president who had resigned in scandal, he naturally turned to a man whose name was a synonym for integrity: Gerald R. Ford. And eight months later, when he was elevated to the presidency, it was because America needed him, not because he needed the office.
President Ford assumed office at a terrible time in our nation's history. At home, America was divided by political turmoil and wracked by inflation. In Southeast Asia, Saigon fell just nine months into his presidency. Amid all the turmoil, Gerald Ford was a rock of stability. And when he put his hand on his family Bible to take the presidential oath of office, he brought grace to a moment of great doubt.
In a short time, the gentleman from Grand Rapids proved that behind the affability was firm resolve. When a U.S. ship called the Mayaguez was seized by Cambodia, President Ford made the tough decision to send in the Marines -- and all the crew members were rescued. He was criticized for signing the Helsinki Accords, yet history has shown that document helped bring down the Soviet Union, as courageous men and women behind the Iron Curtain used it to demand their God-given liberties. Twice assassins attempted to take the life of this good and decent man, yet he refused to curtail his public appearances. And when he thought that the nation needed to put Watergate behind us, he made the tough and decent decision to pardon President Nixon, even though that decision probably cost him the presidential election.
Gerald Ford assumed the presidency when the nation needed a leader of character and humility -- and we found it in the man from Grand Rapids. President Ford's time in office was brief, but history will long remember the courage and common sense that helped restore trust in the workings of our democracy.
Laura and I had the honor of hosting the Ford family for Gerald Ford's 90th birthday. It's one of the highlights of our time in the White House. I will always cherish the memory of the last time I saw him, this past year in California. He was still smiling, still counting himself lucky to have Betty at his side, and still displaying the optimism and generosity that made him one of America's most beloved leaders.
And so, on behalf of a grateful nation, we bid farewell to our 38th President. We thank the Almighty for Gerald Ford's life, and we ask for God's blessings on Gerald Ford and his family.
END 11:27 A.M. EST
For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary December 29, 2006
President Bush's Statement on Execution of Saddam Hussein
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today, Saddam Hussein was executed after receiving a fair trial -- the kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime.
Fair trials were unimaginable under Saddam Hussein's tyrannical rule. It is a testament to the Iraqi people's resolve to move forward after decades of oppression that, despite his terrible crimes against his own people, Saddam Hussein received a fair trial. This would not have been possible without the Iraqi people's determination to create a society governed by the rule of law.
Saddam Hussein's execution comes at the end of a difficult year for the Iraqi people and for our troops. Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq, but it is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain, and defend itself, and be an ally in the War on Terror.
We are reminded today of how far the Iraqi people have come since the end of Saddam Hussein's rule - and that the progress they have made would not have been possible without the continued service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform.
Many difficult choices and further sacrifices lie ahead. Yet the safety and security of the American people require that we not relent in ensuring that Iraq's young democracy continues to progress.
# # #
For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary December 28, 2006
President Bush Meets with His National Security Team Prairie Chapel Ranch Crawford, Texas
11:59 A.M. CST
THE PRESIDENT: I just had a meeting with my national security team; this is the first time we've had a chance to sit down with Secretary Gates since he came back from Iraq. General Pace went with the Secretary; they reported firsthand what they saw and what they found. It's an important part of coming to closure on a way forward in Iraq that will help us achieve our objective, which is a country that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself. And Mr. Secretary, thank you for your timely trip and thank you for this important briefing.
I've got more consultation to do until I talk to the country about the plan. Obviously, we'll continue to work with the Iraqi government. The key to success in Iraq is to have a government that's willing to deal with the elements there that are trying to prevent this young democracy from succeeding.
We want to help them succeed. And so we'll continue to consult with the Iraqis. I'm going to talk to Congress -- not only will I continue to reach out to Congress, but members of my team will do so, as well. I fully understand it's important to have both Republicans and Democrats understanding the importance of this mission. It's important for the American people to understand success in Iraq is vital for our own security. If we were to not succeed in Iraq, the enemy -- the extremists, the radicals -- would have safe haven from which to launch further attacks, they would be emboldened; they would be in a position to threaten the United States of America. This is an important part of the war on terror.
I'm making good progress toward coming up with a plan that we think will help us achieve our objective. As I think about this plan I'm always -- have our troops in mind. There's nobody more important in this global war on terror than the men and women who wear the uniform, and their families. And as we head into a new year, my thoughts are with them. My thoughts are with the families who have just gone through a holiday season with their loved one overseas. My thoughts are with the troops as we head into 2007.
People always ask me about a New Year's resolution -- my resolution is, is that they'll be safe and that we'll come closer to our objective, that we'll be able to help this young democracy survive and thrive and, therefore, we'll be writing a chapter of peace. I can't thank our families enough for supporting their loved one who wears the uniform, and I can't thank those who -- soldiers and sailors and airmen and Coast Guard men and woman, folks in the Air Force -- who represent the United States of America. May God continue to bless them.
Thank you all very much.
END 12:02 P.M. CST
For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary December 27, 2006
President Bush Extends Condolences, Mourns Loss of Gerald R. Ford Prairie Chapel Ranch Crawford, Texas
6:56 A.M. CST
THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans, all of us are saddened by the news that former President Gerald R. Ford passed away last night. I spoke with Betty Ford. On behalf of all Americans Laura and I extend to Mrs. Ford and all President Ford's family our prayers and our condolences.
President Ford was a great man who devoted the best years of his life in serving the United States. He was a true gentleman who reflected the best in America's character. Before the world knew his name, he served with distinction in the United States Navy and in the United States Congress.
As a congressman from Michigan, and then as Vice President, he commanded the respect and earned the good will of all who had the privilege of knowing him. On August 9, 1974, he stepped into the presidency without ever having sought the office. He assumed power in a period of great division and turmoil. For a nation that needed healing and for an office that needed a calm and steady hand, Gerald Ford came along when we needed him most.
During his time in office, the American people came to know President Ford as a man of complete integrity who led our country with common sense and kind instincts.
Americans will always admire Gerald Ford's unflinching performance of duty and the honorable conduct of his administration, and the great rectitude of the man himself.
We mourn the loss of such a leader, and our 38th President will always have a special place in our nation's memory.
President Ford lived 93 years, and his life was a blessing to America. And now this fine man will be taken to his rest by a family that will love him always, and by a nation that will be grateful to him forever.
May God bless Gerald Ford.
END 6:59 A.M. CST
For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary December 27, 2006
Announcing the Death of Gerald R. Ford A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America
TO THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES:
It is my sad duty to announce officially the death of Gerald R. Ford, the thirty-eighth President of the United States, on December 26, 2006.
President Ford was a great man who devoted the best years of his life to serving the United States of America. He was also a true gentleman who reflected the best in America's character. Before the world knew his name, he served with distinction in the United States Navy and the United States House of Representatives. As a congressman from Michigan, and then as Vice President, he commanded the respect and earned the goodwill of all who had the privilege of knowing him. On August 9, 1974, he stepped into the presidency without having ever sought the office.
During his time in office, the American people came to know President Ford as a man of complete integrity, who led our country with common sense and kind instincts. Americans will always admire Gerald Ford's unflinching performance of duty, the honorable conduct of his Administration, and the great rectitude of the man himself. We mourn the loss of such a leader, and our thirty-eighth President will always have a special place in our Nation's memory.
President Ford lived 93 years, and his life was a blessing to America. Now this fine man will be taken to his rest by a family that will love him always and by a Nation that will be grateful to him forever.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, in honor and tribute to the memory of Gerald R. Ford, and as an expression of public sorrow, do hereby direct that the flag of the United States be displayed at half-staff at the White House and on all buildings, grounds, and Naval vessels of the United States for a period of 30 days from the day of his death. I also direct that for the same length of time, the representatives of the United States in foreign countries shall make similar arrangements for the display of the flag at half-staff over their Embassies, Legations, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and stations.
I hereby order that suitable honors be rendered by units of the Armed Forces under orders of the Secretary of Defense.
In a further expression of our national grief, I will appoint in a subsequent proclamation a National Day of Mourning throughout the United States when the American people may assemble in their respective places of worship, there to pay homage to the memory of President Ford.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty seventh day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.
GEORGE W. BUSH
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For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary December 26, 2006
President and Mrs. Bush Saddened by Passing of Former President Ford
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Laura and I are greatly saddened by the passing of former President Gerald R. Ford.
President Ford was a great American who gave many years of dedicated service to our country. On August 9, 1974, after a long career in the House of Representatives and service as Vice President, he assumed the Presidency in an hour of national turmoil and division. With his quiet integrity, common sense, and kind instincts, President Ford helped heal our land and restore public confidence in the Presidency.
The American people will always admire Gerald Ford's devotion to duty, his personal character, and the honorable conduct of his administration. We mourn the loss of such a leader, and our 38th President will always have a special place in our Nation's memory. On behalf of all Americans, Laura and I offer our deepest sympathies to Betty Ford and all of President Ford's family. Our thoughts and prayers will be with them in the hours and days ahead.
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For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary December 24, 2006
President Bush Makes Christmas Eve Telephone Calls to Members of the Armed Forces Camp David
The President made telephone calls to members of the Armed Forces who are stationed overseas, or who have recently returned from overseas locations, to wish them a Merry Christmas, and to thank them for their service to our Nation.
INFORMATION ON CALL RECIPIENTS
Sergeant Jonathan J. Corell, USA Sergeant Jonathan Corell has been serving in Afghanistan for 18 months. During his tour, Sergeant Corell has shown exceptional combat leadership as the manager of two non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and six junior soldiers. He employs advanced skills in assault weaponry while scouting and patrolling, and has served in the Army for 3 years and 10 months. His wife, Danielle, lives in Syracuse, New York.
Private First Class Rebekah Vandiver, USA Private First Class Rebekah Vandiver, based out of Schofield, Hawaii, is deployed to Speicher, Iraq. As a combat medic, she is responsible for the vital prescreening of all patients that enter the Battalion Aid Station, maintains medical supplies for the Aid Station, and is studying to learn more about advanced medical care and procedures. Her husband, Stephen, and three children live in Hawaii.
Sergeant Ricardo E. Contreras, USMC Sergeant Ricardo E. Contreras is based at Camp Pendleton, California, and is deployed to Fallujah, Iraq. As a career counselor in the Marines, he is responsible for the retention and career development of the enlisted Marines in the 1st Marine Headquarters Group. On December 1, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his outstanding performance in counseling Marines on career options and playing a pivotal role in the Group's retention efforts. His wife, Deborah, lives in San Clemente, California.
Lance Corporal Michael P. Matherne, USMC Lance Corporal Michael P. Matherne is a member of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron-211 and the Marine Air Group-16 out of Yuma, Arizona. He is serving in Al Asad, Iraq, as an aircraft communications/navigation weapons systems technician, where he repairs all communication, navigation, and weapons systems on the squadron's 16 AV-8B Harrier jets. Lance Corporal Matherne is recognized for his exceptional motivation and enthusiasm.
Petty Officer Second Class Dwayne W. Meyer, USN Petty Officer Second Class Dwayne W. Meyer is a member of the Provincial Reconstruction Team at Naval Station North Island, San Diego, California. As a communications specialist in Kala Gosh, Afghanistan, he is responsible for repairing all communication devices to include state-of-the-art satellite radios. His wife, Rebecca, lives in Chula Vista, California.
Petty Officer Third Class Rahm Panjwani, USN Petty Officer Third Class Rahm Panjwani serves aboard the USS BOXER. In 2005, he was honored as the USS BOXER Junior Sailor of the Year. He led 60 personnel in the safe receipt, transfer, and delivery of more than two million gallons of aviation fuel during 2,100 aircraft refueling evolutions and nine underway replenishments. As a Flight Deck Assistant Leading Petty Officer, he was responsible for supervising a 19-person aircraft refueling crew in a demanding, high risk flight deck environment. Hi wife, Heather, lives in San Antonio, Texas.
Master Sergeant John W. Gahan, USAF Master Sergeant John W. Gahan serves in the 40th Airlift Squadron at Dyess AFB, Texas, and has been with the Air Force for 17 years and 3 months. He is deployed to Al Muthana Air Base, Iraq with the 23rd Air Force Squadron. As a C-130 Load Master and Combat Aviation Advisor, he provides upgrade training to new Iraqi C-130 fleet aviators. In his one-year temporary duty assignment to Iraq, Master Sergeant Gahan is training inexperienced Iraqi Air Force personnel and soon will transfer from his instructor billet to important duties on the Iraqi Transition Team. His wife, Karen, lives in Abilene, Texas.
Technical Sergeant Mark S. Pleis Jr., USAF Technical Sergeant Mark S. Pleis Jr. serves in the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Europe, Stuttgart, Germany, where he lives with his wife, Erica, and two children. He supervises 30 joint military and civilian network controllers in the real-time management and operational direction of the $2.4 billion European Global Information Grid. His superlative performance in managing over 60 tactical satellite missions ensured that deployed service members had uninterrupted access to critical voice, data, and video services. He ranked first of 18 DISA non-commissioned officers from all services, and was selected as DISA Europe NCO of the quarter in the first quarter of 2006.
Petty Officer Third Class David A. Rosales, USCG Petty Officer Third Class David A. Rosales is based in his homeport in Naval Support Activity, Bahrain, and serves on the USCGC MONOMOY. He plays an important role in all shipboard evolutions, including small boat launch and recovery, mooring details, general quarters and engineer of the watch (EOW). He is an underway EOW, Inport Officer of the Day, crane operator, small boat crewman and Assistant Damage Control Petty Officer, and ensures that all damage control equipment is inventoried and maintained. He has volunteered to serve an additional six months in the North Arabian Gulf.
Seaman Rayford B. Mitchell, USCG Seaman Rayford B. Mitchell serves aboard the USCGC Diligence, which is based out of Wilmington, North Carolina, and is deployed to the western Caribbean Sea. He works with the deck department, where he completes hull and exterior maintenance. He is also responsible for the cleanliness and general material condition of the ship. Since the beginning of his service just over 1 year ago, SN Mitchell has consistently demonstrated an excellent work ethic, character, and stamina. He is a native of Columbia, South Carolina.
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