From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]
ALONG WITH THE WHOLE A.N.C.
U.S. has Mandela on terrorist list
BY Mimi Hall / 04 30 08
WASHINGTON — Nobel Peace Prize winner and international symbol of
freedom Nelson Mandela is flagged on U.S. terrorist watch lists and
needs special permission to visit the USA. Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice calls the situation “embarrassing,” and some members
of Congress vow to fix it.
The requirement applies to former South African leader Mandela and
other members of South Africa’s governing African National Congress
(ANC), the once-banned anti-Apartheid organization. In the 1970s and
’80s, the ANC was officially designated a terrorist group by the
country’s ruling white minority. Other countries, including the United
States, followed suit.
Because of this, Rice told a Senate committee recently, her department
has to issue waivers for ANC members to travel to the USA. “This is a
country with which we now have excellent relations, South Africa, but
it’s frankly a rather embarrassing matter that I still have to waive
in my own counterpart, the foreign minister of South Africa, not to
mention the great leader Nelson Mandela,” Rice said.
Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., chairman of the House International
Relations Committee, is pushing a bill that would remove current and
former ANC leaders from the watch lists. Supporters hope to get it
passed before Mandela’s 90th birthday July 18. “What an indignity,”
Berman said. “The ANC set an important example: It successfully made
the change from armed struggle to peace. We should celebrate the
In 1990, Mandela was freed after 27 years in prison for crimes
committed during the struggle against Apartheid, a repressive regime
that subjugated black South Africans. In 1994, he was elected South
Africa’s first black president. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., called ANC
members’ inclusion on watch lists a “bureaucratic snafu” and pledged
to fix the problem. Members of other groups deemed a terrorist threat,
such as Hamas, also are on the watch lists.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says “common sense”
suggests Mandela should be removed. He says the issue “raises a
troubling and difficult debate about what groups are considered
terrorists and which are not.”
When ANC members apply for visas to the USA, they are flagged for
questioning and need a waiver to be allowed in the country. In 2002,
former ANC chairman Tokyo Sexwale was denied a visa. In 2007, Barbara
Masekela, South Africa’s ambassador to the United States from 2002 to
2006, was denied a visa to visit her ailing cousin and didn’t get a
waiver until after the cousin had died, Berman’s legislation says.
NELSON MANDELA’S 90th BIRTHDAY IS JULY 18th
Legislation Will Lift Anachronistic U.S. Stigma Against Nelson
Mandela, Other South African Political Leaders
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Howard L. Berman (CA-28), Chairman of
the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has introduced legislation to
remove a government-imposed stigma against membership in the African
National Congress of South Africa, which fought against Apartheid, by
removing from any U.S. databases any notation that would characterize
the ANC and its leaders as terrorists.
“It is shameful that the United States still treats the ANC this way
based solely on its designation as a terrorist organization by the old
Apartheid South African regime,” Berman said. “Amazingly, Nelson
Mandela still needs to get a special waiver to enter the United States
based on his courageous leadership of the ANC. What an indignity.
This legislation will wipe it away.”
The South African Apartheid regime banned the ANC in 1960; its leaders
were imprisoned or forced into exile. But with the end of Apartheid
the ANC went on in 1994 to lead a multiracial, multiparty government,
and it continues to be the leading political party in the post-
Apartheid, democratic South Africa.
“The ANC sets an important example: It successfully made the change
from armed struggle to peace,” Berman noted. “We should celebrate
this transformation, and not continue a policy that is nearly two
decades out of touch with reality. No one should be prohibited from
entering the United States simply because of ANC membership.”
The Berman bill (H.R. 5690), which effectively removes current and
former African National Congress members from our country’s travel and
terrorism watch lists, has the support of the State Department and is
expected to have broad backing in the House and Senate. Original co-
sponsors of the legislation are Homeland Security Committee Chairman
Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Africa Subcommittee Chairman Donald Payne
(D-NJ), and Foreign Affairs Committee member Barbara Lee (D-CA).
“Basic principles of fairness and opportunity for Members of the
African National Congress have been wrongly denied for some time,”
Chairman Thompson said. “It is a travesty to reject entry to America
because of one’s participation in a fight for freedom and justice in
South Africa. For far too long, many of these patriots have been
mislabeled as terrorists solely because of their membership in the
ANC. I applaud Chairman Berman for introducing this bill and working
with my office to ensure that this injustice is corrected.”
PASSED IN THE HOUSE
For Immediate Release
Contact: Lynne Weil (202) 225-5021 / May 8, 2008
House Passes Berman Bill Lifting Stigma Against Nelson Mandela, Other
ANC Members Wishing to Travel to the United States
Washington, D.C. – The House today passed legislation to erase a
government-imposed stigma against membership in the African National
Congress of South Africa. This bill, authored by House Foreign Affairs
Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), will remove from U.S.
databases any notation that would characterize the ANC and its leaders
— including Nobel Laureate and former South African President Nelson
Mandela — as terrorists.
“This long-overdue bill is the direct result of a stunning and,
frankly, embarrassing story for the United States,” Berman noted.
“Despite recognizing two decades ago that America’s place was on the
side of those oppressed by Apartheid, Congress has never resolved the
inconsistency in our immigration code that treats many of those who
actively opposed Apartheid in South Africa as terrorists and
For decades the ANC resisted Apartheid and advocated the rights of
black South Africans – first through nonviolence and community
activism, and then through the actions of its military wing. The South
African government banned the ANC in 1960, and the United States
denied entry to ANC members based on the group’s activities. With the
end of Apartheid in 1990, the ANC grew to become the leading political
party; it continues to lead South Africa in a multiracial, multiparty
“Astonishingly, while South Africa completed its monumental political
transition, the U.S. position regarding entry for ANC’s leaders
remained frozen in time,” Berman said. “Leaders such as Nelson
Mandela, Walter Sisulu, and Govan Mbeki – father of President Thabo
Mbeki – were continually barred from entry to the U.S. and had to
apply for special waivers to gain entry.”
Berman’s bill (H.R. 5690) effectively removes the stain of the
“terrorist” label from the names of current and former African
National Congress members. When the measure becomes law, ANC
membership alone will no longer trigger additional investigation into
an individual’s application for a visa to the United States. The
legislation has the support of the State Department and is expected to
have broad backing in the Senate. House co-sponsors are Judiciary
Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), Homeland Security Committee
Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Africa Subcommittee Chairman
Donald Payne (D-NJ), and Foreign Affairs Committee members Barbara Lee
(D-CA) and Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), and Government Reform Committee
member Peter Welch (D-VT).
PAGING SENATOR OBAMA
Kerry Legislation Would Remove Nelson Mandela from Terror Watch
List / May 06, 2008
WASHINGTON, DC – Recognizing that Nelson Mandela and many members of
the African National Congress (ANC) are currently on U.S. terrorism
watch lists, Sen. John Kerry today introduced legislation in the
Senate to grant the Secretary of State, in consultation with the
Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, the authority to waive
U.S. travel restrictions on former President Mandela and other members
of the ANC. Kerry met with Mandela in South Africa in November 2007,
and toured Robben Island, where Mandela was kept for eighteen of the
twenty-seven years he spent imprisoned during the apartheid era.
Mandela and his fellow ANC members remain on the list for activities
they conducted against South Africa’s apartheid regime decades ago.
U.S. diplomats, including Secretary Rice, have called on Congress to
pass legislation to end this embarrassing impediment to improving U.S.-
South Africa relations.
“Nelson Mandela is one of the world’s strongest voices for human
dignity and courage in the face of oppression. The idea that he’d be
on our government’s terror watch list is deplorable. No bureaucratic
snafu can excuse this international embarrassment, and we need to fix
this policy now,” said Kerry.
Kerry’s proposed reform mirrors the bipartisan House Foreign Affairs
Committee bill, sponsored by Rep. Howard Berman, Chairman of the
Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. John Conyers, Chairman of House
Judiciary, and Rep. Christopher Smith.
The White House press secretary and, like, the “Bay of Pigs thing.”
BY Tim Grieve / Dec. 10, 2007
At a White House press briefing on Oct. 26, a reporter asked Dana
Perino about Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that a U.S. plan to base
parts of a missile shield in Europe was similar to the events that led
to the Cuban missile crisis.
Perino’s response: “Well, I think that the historical comparison is
not — does not exactly work. What I can say is what President Putin
went on to say, which is that the president and President Putin have
said that we can work together on this.”
When a second reporter asked whether Putin’s comparison to the Cuban
missile crisis had been “helpful,” Perino said: “I think that — look,
the president has said that we have a good but complicated and complex
relationship with Russia. And the president has a relationship with
President Putin, one, that he treats him with a lot of respect, and
because of that, he’s able to have very frank and honest discussions
with him. And I think the relationship — in a variety of ways, we
work well together on many different issues.”
If that sounds like Perino was buying time or filibustering or
otherwise talking around the question, well, that’s because she was.
Appearing on NPR’s “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me” over the weekend,
Perino said she “panicked” when she got the Cuban missile crisis
question because she wasn’t exactly sure what the Cuban missile crisis
was. “I really know nothing about the Cuban missile crisis,” Perino
said. “It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I’m pretty sure.”
Perino said she went home that night and asked her husband, “‘Wasn’t
that, like, the Bay of Pigs thing?’ And he said, ‘Oh, Dana.'”
‘I COULD HAVE BEEN MORE PRECISE’
Press Briefing by Dana Perino / James S. Brady Briefing Room
12:39 P.M. EDT
MS. PERINO: Happy Friday. I do not have anything to start with.
Q Do you want to address the remarks by President Putin, who said the
United States setting up a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe
was like the Soviet Union putting missiles in Cuba, setting up a Cuban
MS. PERINO: Well, I think that the historical comparison is not —
does not exactly work. What I can say is what President Putin went on
to say, which is that the President and President Putin have said that
we can work together on this. President Putin said that today, that he
believes that there’s a path where the United States and Russia can
work to figure out a way to get the system to work in a way that works
for both people — for both countries.
The purpose of the missile defense system in Europe is to defend
against a missile that would attack one of our European allies and
Russia; and that’s the purpose of it. And as President Putin
identified two people to work with, two people the President
designated — Secretaries Rice and Gates — who were just there last
week. And our military leaders are in communication to try to figure
out if we can use some of their technology in order to make this
Q So you don’t think this is a heightening of tensions over the
MS. PERINO: I think if anyone takes a look at his entire comments and
looks at them objectively, there’s no way you could walk away without
thinking that he thinks that we can work together.
Q As a follow-up, Dana, have you gotten any readout — I asked Tony
about this earlier — on the President’s conversation with Putin since
the visit to Iran and what his sense was of the gap between the U.S.
on this and on Iran policy?
MS. PERINO: Well, we — yes, and I think we have provided a readout on
that. That call happened I think — maybe Monday, or earlier in the
week; it was definitely earlier in the week, I think it was Monday —
might have been Tuesday. But President Putin had a conversation where
they talked about a variety of issues, including the issue of Iran.
And the President does believe that Iran — that Russia agrees that
Iran should not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. And he came away
feeling that that was a solid answer from President Putin.
Q Staying with Iran for a second. On the unintended side events,
perhaps, you know oil closed at the record-high yesterday. What’s the
concern that as the rhetoric with Iran gets ratcheted up, that what
the main way Americans will feel the impact is higher oil prices?
MS. PERINO: Well, higher oil prices are something that has been
building up for over a decade and it’s something that the President
has been talking since 2001 — which is a way to try to get our
country to move away from traditional fossil fuel oil use and to look
at alternatives and also conservation. There’s several initiatives the
President has put forward; one right now is pending in front of
Congress. It’s 20 percent reduction in gasoline use in 10 years, by
2017. So there’s a lot of different ways that we can do that. The
problem here —
Q The way the markets seem to digest what was happening yesterday was
that as tensions escalate, it may cut off the flow of oil.
MS. PERINO: Well, I’m not going to comment on market conditions or
market movements; there’s a lot of different factors that go into
that. Part of what we have in our — in the world is very high demand
and not enough supply, and so providing alternatives to traditional
oil use is what the President is focused on.
Look, the problem here isn’t the United States, it’s not the
international community. The problem is Iran, and Iran has not stepped
back from trying to pursue a nuclear weapon, and — or reprocessing
and enriching uranium, which would lead to a nuclear weapon. We have
provided Iran with a path in order to have a civilian nuclear program.
They have not taken that path. And so yesterday what we did is
identify additional sanctions that we could put — that we could use,
in addition to the diplomacy, so that we can put pressure on the
Iranians so that they will change their behavior.
Q And one follow. Is the White House concerned that as a result of
those sanctions, oil prices may go up?
MS. PERINO: Look, oil prices are a concern across the board. We have
very tight supply, and we have growing demand, and not just from our
country. When you have growing countries like China, with an economic
growth rate of 11 percent last quarter — and they need a lot of
resources in order to make their economy grow.
So what we have to do in the United States is look to alternatives,
not just because of oil prices, but because of the environmental
benefits, as well.
Q Dana, on Tuesday, FEMA’s deputy administrator held what was called a
news briefing to talk about the California wildfires. And from what we
understand, the questions were posed not by reporters, but by
staffers, and that distinction was not made known. Is that
MS. PERINO: It is not. It is not a practice that we would employ here
at the White House or that we — we certainly don’t condone it. We
didn’t know about it beforehand. FEMA has issued an apology, saying
that they had an error in judgment when they were attempting to try to
get out a lot of information to reporters, who were asking for answers
to a variety of questions in regards to the wildfires in California.
It’s not something I would have condoned, and they, I’m sure, will not
do it again.
Q Who is responsible?
MS. PERINO: FEMA is responsible, and they have taken that — they have
accepted that responsibility, and they issued an apology today.
Q But isn’t — a follow-up on that. Isn’t there a normal morning call
with all the press secretaries of all the agencies here, and whether
somebody is having a press briefing or not is discussed?
MS. PERINIO: We have a variety of ways that we talk to the —
communicate to the communicators in the agency. FEMA is not on that
daily call, no, and I don’t know if the DHS — the head of DHS
communications knew about it either. But FEMA has apologized for the
error in judgment.
Q Dana, why didn’t this raise alarm bells, in terms of credibility,
with anyone there?
MS. PERINO: You’ll have to ask them. They have admitted that they had
an error in judgment. I would agree with that. They’ve issued an
apology. You’ll have to ask them about why they decided to do that.
Q But isn’t the President concerned, at a time when he is traveling to
the area to talk about a very significant natural disaster — there
have been issues about FEMA in the past, trying to make a distinction
about progress made, and for them to effectively pretend to hold a
news conference, doesn’t the President have concerns about that?
MS. PERINO: I just said that the White House did not know about it
before hand, and the White House condones* [sic] it. And they have
apologized for it. They had an error in judgment, they’ve admitted
that. And I think that what they were — I don’t think that there was
any mal-intent. I think that they were trying to provide information
to the public through the press, because there were so many questions
pouring in. It was just a bad way to handle it, and they know that.
Q Will anybody be reprimanded?
MS. PERINO: You’ll have to ask FEMA.
Q Dana, back on Iraq for a moment. There was another Putin analogy.
Yesterday he compared the U.S. imposing of new sanctions on Iran to —
we’re running around like a madman with a blade in his hands. And can
you comment on that and the critics’ view that these sanctions are
counterproductive to the U.S. objective of getting Iran to give up its
MS. PERINO: The sanctions are part of the diplomatic process, and that
has been laid out for several years. We are being very patient with
Iran. We have laid out a schedule for them to be able to comply with
the unanimous consent of the U.N. Security Council, that they need to
stop the enrichment and reprocessing activities that they have going
on in their country.
Again, this is not — the United States is not at fault. The
international community is not at fault. Iran is at fault for not
stopping its activities. And sanctions are part of the diplomatic
process, they buttress the diplomatic process. They make it clear that
we are very serious about making sure that they do not have a path to
get a nuclear weapon. So I reject the notion that it is irresponsible,
because I think it is quite responsible and shows that we are, one,
serious, but that we also are committed to the diplomatic path, and
that we are going to buttress that with sanctions.
Q And as to whether these kinds of comments by President Putin show
that he’s not anywhere near on the same page as the Bush
MS. PERINO: I’m not going to comment on them.
Q Can I ask you about President Putin? I mean, how would you
characterize the relationship with President Putin? I mean, is he a
strong U.S. ally with rhetoric like this? And also the Cuban missile
comparison, is that helpful?
MS. PERINO: I think that — look, the President has said that we have
a good but complicated and complex relationship with Russia. And the
President has a relationship with President Putin, one, that he treats
him with a lot of respect, and because of that, he’s able to have very
frank and honest discussions with him. And I think the relationship —
in a variety of ways, we work well together on many different issues.
In any — when you’re dealing with a world leader that has a different
point of view, you don’t come out and slam them for that, just because
they have a different point of view on a particular thing. But the
bottom line is Iran does agree that — I’m sorry, Russia agrees that
Iran should not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. That hasn’t
We want to see China and Russia do more in regards to the sanctions
that we have followed through on, that are part of the U.N. Security
Council resolutions. But just because you have a complicated or
complex relationship doesn’t mean it can’t also be a good one.
Q But it doesn’t (inaudible) where this relationship is headed in the
future? It doesn’t seem to bode well for where the U.S. —
MS. PERINO: Well, I think the President has done a very good job of
making sure that this country has good relationships with Russia, and
that’s across the board. And I think one of the things you can look at
is just last week he sent his Secretaries of State and Defense to
Russia to have conversations with the leaders of Russia for the —
with their foreign minister and defense minister. But they also met
with President Putin, as well. And President Bush meets with President
Putin quite often; he just saw him at the beginning of September in
Sydney, and I’m sure they’ll see each other again at the next
So we have a good relationship, but it’s complex. None of these things
are easy. It’s just something that takes time, and we are patient and
we work through them all.
Anybody else on Iran or Putin?
Q Yes. The Russians seem to be concerned that — especially in light
of the latest sanctions the U.S. has proposed — Iran is being pushed
toward a corner for which there is no diplomatic solution; that it’s
only war. So what are your expectations of the President’s — the
White House declaration yesterday, basically that if you do business
with Iran you cannot do business with the United States?
MS. PERINO: Well, not only are they trying to pursue — they are not
halting their enrichment and reprocessing activities in Iran, but they
are also state sponsors of terror and sponsoring terrorist
organizations like Hezbollah. It is the height of responsibility to
put sanctions on Iran that buttress our diplomatic efforts.
We provided a path. We, along with our — the P5-plus-1, together,
provided a path for Iran to have a civil nuclear program. They have
decided to reject that path, and so we continue to push, very
patiently, the diplomacy that the President has laid out, along with
his allies, and we are going to continue to do so. Iran has a choice
to make. The problem is not with us, it is with Iran.
Q But my question actually went to Russia and China.
MS. PERINO: Okay.
Q The declaration seems to be, if you can do business with Iran, you
can’t do business with the U.S. Are you telling Russia and China and
their banks, you must divest yourself of investments in Iran, or you
can’t do business with the U.S.?
MS. PERINO: Well, I think it’s a little bit more complicated than that
— how sanctions work, and I’ll have to refer you over to Stuart Levey
at the Treasury Department for how all that works. In fact, he and
Secretary — Under Secretary of State Nick Burns did a full briefing
yesterday where they lay out a lot of these details, because sanctions
work in different ways.
Q All right, let me ask another general question then. It was May that
we had talked with Iran about providing weapons to insurgents in Iraq.
Have you basically concluded that trying to talk to Iran about that is
also a waste of time?
MS. PERINO: Well, look, we continue to try to talk with them. And in
fact, what Secretary Rice said yesterday, she reiterated something she
said for months, which is, she would meet with Iran’s Foreign Minister
anytime, anywhere, if they would want to meet and have these
discussions. We are very concerned that Iran is targeting our soldiers
in Iraq. The Iraqis are concerned that Iran is meddling in its
business. And these sanctions push Iran to understand that we are very
serious about making sure that our soldiers are kept safe and that
they are not allowed — to the greatest extent possible that we can —
not allowed to fund state sponsors of terror, like Hezbollah. And
that’s what the sanctions are meant to do.
Anyone else on this? Okay, we’ll move on. Roger.
Q It’s oil-related.
MS. PERINO: Okay.
Q Oil was trading at $92 a barrel today. That’s 51 percent higher than
a year ago. Is there any concern that it’s going to start damaging the
MS. PERINO: Well, I’m not an economist — and we could try to get you
together with Eddie Lazear — but we do believe that oil prices are
way too high, especially for families who deal — if you have a family
budget, the one item that you don’t have flexibility on is on your
energy cost: You have to pay to heat your home and pay for gas in your
car so that you can get to work and back. We have to look for
alternatives. That’s what we are trying to do. We are asking the
Congress to move forward as well.
What is amazing is that our economy has been so resilient over the
past several years, despite high energy prices. We have good job
growth, we have good exports. Of course the housing market has taken a
beating and we’re trying to work through that and see if we can make
sure that there are measures in place to allow people to keep their
homes, but certainly energy prices are a concern. One of the best ways
to help bring them down is to broaden out supply. And I would submit
to you that the energy bills that the Congress is now putting —
pushing forward by the Democrats do not include a lot of energy
production. There’s not in that — there’s not a lot of energy in the
energy bill, and we would like them to take a second look at that and
get something to the President before Christmas.
Q But the main two reasons are the Iran sanctions thing and the
tension between Turks and Iraqis.
MS. PERINO: Look, I think there could be a lot of reasons that oil
prices go high. I’m not going to comment on the market movements;
there’s plenty of people around this country who would. But I think
that the problem comes down — the basic problem comes down to supply
and demand, and that’s something that we are trying to address.
Q Same question.
MS. PERINO: Okay.
Q You know, back when the President Bush was running for office and he
was weighing out an energy —
MS. PERINO: In 2000?
Q No, the last election.
MS. PERINO: Okay.
Q When he was weighing out his energy policy, he talked about the need
for expanding refineries in this country, but that’s gone from your
vocabulary. All you talk about is renewables. Does that mean that the
President is no longer in —
MS. PERINO: Well, maybe that’s my fault. I mean, I can talk about —
we have an entire comprehensive package in our energy proposal, and in
fact Al Hubbard, the President’s Economic Advisor, sent to Congress
just last week a letter outlining what we could and couldn’t accept in
an energy bill.
Now, of course expanding refining capacity in our country is
critically important. It’s really tight right now. And as you have —
when you have maintenance that has to happen every year, you have —
that refinery pressure is even more constricted. And so we do want
additional refineries. You do run into some problems of citing these
permits at different places around the country, because people don’t
like to have them in their backyards. But it’s something we have to
Q Republicans and Democrats are trying to kill a refinery expansion in
northern Indiana that was approved by the EPA — part of it was
approved by the EPA. And the White House and the Energy Department
have pretty much been silent. They’ve left Governor Mitch Daniels out
there to hang. I’m wondering why the administration —
MS. PERINO: Can I look into it? I don’t know about that specific
refinery. I do know that the President supports expanding refinery
capacity in the country. We’ll get back to you on it.
Q Dana, in your answer I think to Elaine about the Putin-Bush
relationship, you said that “when you disagree with a world leader you
don’t go out there and slam them.” Was that aimed at President Putin?
MS. PERINO: No, it was more aimed at you all. (Laughter.) Every time I
come in here, and you ask me about President Putin’s comments, it’s
like you want me to say something derogatory or negative about another
world leader on behalf of the President. And I’m not going to do it.
Q So you weren’t saying that President Putin acted inappropriately by
coming out and —
MS. PERINO: No, no, I am not saying that.
Q Dana, the Committee to Protect Journalists, citing recent physical
attacks on reporters in the Democratic Republic of Congo, today urged
President Bush to raise that topic with President Kabila. Do you know
if that topic came up?
MS. PERINO: I didn’t. I didn’t get a chance to sit in on that, but
Q Thank you, Dana. Two questions. Senate bill 505, the so-called
Hawaii apartheid bill, has resurfaced recently. And this is the one
that would permit native Hawaiians to declare themselves a sovereign
nation. Does the administration have a position on that?
MS. PERINO: John, I know that we have expressed one in the past; I
can’t remember exactly what our position is. But if there’s not a
statement of administration policy out there — there’s a SAP out, so
we’ll get a copy of that for you right after the briefing.
Q The other thing, Dana, is, in California recently, campaign has
started to place a measure on the ballot that would change the
electoral college distribution or electoral vote distribution from
statewide to winner-take-all by congressional district, the way they
do it in Maine and Nebraska. And a lot of the President’s friends are
behind it, I noticed. Is the administration in favor of it?
MS. PERINO: Well, it’s the first I’ve heard of it, and I don’t know
what the President’s position is on it.
Q Read my column; it’s all about it. (Laughter.)
MS. PERINO: Great advertisement.
Q It’s estimated that up to 2 million housing foreclosures could
happen if restrictions aren’t lifted, in terms of sub-prime mortgages.
And I just wondered, does the White House have any second thoughts
about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in terms of any kind of relaxation?
MS. PERINO: I’m not well-versed in all of the details. I do know that
we have FHA modernization bill that we would like the Congress to
One thing I should point out, last night — well, within the last 24
hours, since the President has been in California, there have been two
additions to the help that we can provide to people in California. One
is the Department of Labor issued $50 million worth of grants for
people looking for work. And this allows California to hire people who
have lost their jobs to help with the recovery and the cleanup. And in
addition to that, HUD has put a 90-day moratorium on some types of
foreclosures, so that people can get their feet on the ground and make
sure that they are taken care of down there in Southern California.
But I’ll ask Tony Fratto to get back to you on that.
Q In the statement this morning, the President talked about SCHIP. One
of his concerns was that there were not any negotiations with those
that he chose. But I wondered, has the White House invited Congress —
congressional leaders to come here, or does it intend to invite them
to come —
MS. PERINO: You’ll recall, Paula, that it was I think maybe a week or
maybe two weeks ago that the President designated three people to
represent him in negotiations on the State Children’s Health Insurance
Program, so that we could find common ground with the Democrats. He
sent Secretary Leavitt of Health and Human Services, OMB Director
Nussle, and Al Hubbard, the National Economic Advisor, to Capitol Hill
in order to have discussions. The Democrats wouldn’t meet with us, and
I think that does not bode well when you’re trying to find a — when
you’re to negotiate.
Q Why didn’t you invite them here?
MS. PERINO: The President directed those three individuals to meet
with Congress. The Congress — if Congress wanted to actually meet
with us and they wanted to find a different — a new venue, if that
would help them, if they wanted to leave Capitol Hill in order to come
together, then we could consider that. But I think the fact of the
matter is they didn’t want to meet. They want the issue; they don’t
want a solution. Yesterday they passed a bill that will — that is not
substantially different from what the President vetoed originally. It
appears that in the House, they yet again don’t have enough votes to
override the President’s veto.
And incredibly enough, Senator Reid is planning to use — eat up more
precious time debating this issue in the Senate, where they’re not
willing to have the Republicans have a say in any of the matter. So
they’re going to waste more time and send another bill to the
President that they know he will veto. And they will not be able to
override it at this time. So we think that this is a big waste of
time. We think that it would be better to sit down with us. We offered
some ways that we could find common ground; we offered additional
money. But we’re not going to compromise on the one principle that we
think is key to this debate: Poor children should be taken care of
Q The additional funding would be required, to be paid for, and if the
White House is opposed to any sort of increase on the tobacco tax, how
do you expect to —
MS. PERINO: The President believes that there is plenty of money in
the federal coffers and that we do not need to raise taxes.
Q Thank you, Dana. Two questions. The AP reports that there is
considerable opposition from landowners in Texas to federal plans to
build a border fence. And my question: What is the President’s
position on resistance to this fence that he and Congress agreed is
MS. PERINO: Well, the President, as former governor of Texas, knows
that there are many people on the border who disagree with having a
fence on their private property, and we — the President has asked
Secretary Chertoff to work with them as we try to secure our border.
Q Senator McCain said that while he is sure Woodstock was a cultural
and pharmaceutical event, no one who supports spending $1 million for
a Woodstock memorial, as Senator Schumer and Clinton have, should be
President. Does President Bush agree or disagree?
MS. PERINO: I think the President would disagree with that earmark.
It’s not a good use of taxpayer dollars.
Q Thank you.
Q Will there be a “lessons learned” exercise after the California
MS. PERINO: We always do after-action reports. I don’t know if would
be called a “lessons learned” report, but they do after-action reports
to find out what went right and what went wrong. And it looks — knock
wood — that everything is going very smoothly in California.
Q Are there lessons to be learned yet?
MS. PERINO: There could be. I think it’s too early to say. There could
be good lessons to be learned that we could pass on to other states.
Obviously it’s been a model of good coordination from the federal,
state and local governments.
Q Are you in a position today to confirm or deny that Syria had a
nuclear facility and that it was bombed by Israel?
MS. PERINO: I’m not going to comment on those press reports.
Q One on Kosovo. They are not — Russia said yesterday (inaudible)
recognize two separate regions of Georgia as independent states —
namely (inaudible) and (inaudible). (Inaudible) — split from Serbia
by December 10th. Any comment on that?
MS. PERINO: I’m sorry, I’m not well-versed in it, but we’ll try to get
you an answer.
Q Thank you.
END 1:03 P.M. EDT
*The White House does not condone the way the FEMA press conference