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  • THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on Judge Michael Mukasey's nomination to be our next Attorney General. I thank the committee for scheduling this vote. I urge them to approve this fine man's nomination, and send it to the full Senate as quickly as possible. In a time of war, it is vital for the President to have a full national security team in place -- and the Attorney General is a key member of that team. The Attorney General is America's top law enforcement officer, with critical responsibilities for preventing terrorist attacks and protecting our Nation. Judge Mukasey is uniquely qualified to fill this vital role. He served nearly two decades on the Federal bench, and some of his most important legal experience is in the area of national security. He presided over the trial of the terrorist known as "the Blind Sheikh" and his co-defendants in the conspiracy to destroy prominent New York City landmarks, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. And when the World Trade Center was attacked again on September the 11th, 2001, Judge Mukasey quickly reopened his court, even though it was just blocks from Ground Zero. He and other judges in his district worked day and night to ensure that applications for warrants were processed, investigations could proceed, and the rule of law was upheld. This is the kind of leader America needs to head the Department of Justice at this important moment in our history. Judge Mukasey is a man of achievement. He is a man of character. And he has been praised by Republicans and Democrats alike for his honesty, intellect, fairness, and independence. Since I sent his nomination to the Senate, Judge Mukasey has provided nearly six hours of testimony. He patiently answered more than 200 questions during his hearings, and he responded promptly to nearly 500 written questions. Yet some senators are working against his nomination because they want him to take a position on the legality of specific techniques allegedly used to question captured terrorists. As Judge Mukasey explained in a letter to Judiciary Committee members, he cannot give such a legal opinion for several reasons. First, he does not know whether certain methods of questioning are in fact used, because the program is classified, he's not been given access to that information, and therefore he is in no position to provide an informed opinion. Second, he does not want our professional interrogators in the field to take an uninformed opinion he has given in the course of a confirmation hearing as meaning that any conduct of theirs has put them in legal jeopardy. Finally, he does not want an uninformed legal opinion to give terrorists a window into which techniques we may use, and which we may not. That could help them train their operatives to resist questioning, and withhold vital information we need to stop attacks and save lives. Congressional leaders should not make Judge Mukasey's confirmation dependent on his willingness to make a public judgment about a classified program he has not been briefed on. If the Senate Judiciary Committee were to block Judge Mukasey on these grounds, it would set a new standard for confirmation that could not be met by any responsible nominee for Attorney General. And that would guarantee that America would have no confirmed Attorney General during this time of war. Senate leaders should move Judge Mukasey's nomination out of Committee and bring it to the Senate floor for an up or down vote. In this time of war, America needs the best people leading our efforts to protect the American people. With Judge Mukasey serving as Attorney General, our national security team will be stronger -- and the Senate should confirm this good man as quickly as possible. Thank you for listening. 200801/23817
  • Ronald ReaganRemarks at the Brandenburg Gatedelivered 12 June 1987, West Berlin[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio. (2)] Thank you. Thank you, very much. Chancellor Kohl, Governing Mayor Diepgen, ladies and gentlemen: Twenty four years ago, President John F. Kennedy visited Berlin, and speaking to the people of this city and the world at the city hall. Well since then two other presidents have come, each in his turn to Berlin. And today, I, myself, make my second visit to your city.We come to Berlin, we American Presidents, because it's our duty to speak in this place of freedom. But I must confess, we’re drawn here by other things as well; by the feeling of history in this city -- more than 500 years older than our own nation; by the beauty of the Grunewald and the Tiergarten; most of all, by your courage and determination. Perhaps the composer, Paul Linke, understood something about American Presidents. You see, like so many Presidents before me, I come here today because wherever I go, whatever I do: “Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin” [I still have a suitcase in Berlin.]Our gathering today is being broadcast throughout Western Europe and North America. I understand that it is being seen and heard as well in the East. To those listening throughout Eastern Europe, I extend my warmest greetings and the good will of the American people. To those listening in East Berlin, a special word: Although I cannot be with you, I address my remarks to you just as surely as to those standing here before me. For I join you, as I join your fellow countrymen in the West, in this firm, this unalterable belief: Es gibt nur ein Berlin. [There is only one Berlin.]Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. From the Baltic South, those barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers. Farther south, there may be no visible, no obvious wall. But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same -- still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state.Yet, it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly; here, cutting across your city, where the news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world. Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German separated from his fellow men.Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar.President Von Weizsauml;cker has said, "The German question is open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed." Well today -- today I say: As long as this gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind.Yet, I do not come here to lament. For I find in Berlin a message of hope, even in the shadow of this wall, a message of triumph.In this season of spring in 1945, the people of Berlin emerged from their air-raid shelters to find devastation. Thousands of miles away, the people of the ed States reached out to help. And in 1947 Secretary of State -- as you've been told -- George Marshall announced the creation of what would become known as the Marshall Plan. Speaking precisely 40 years ago this month, he said: "Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos."In the Reichstag a few moments ago, I saw a display commemorating this 40th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. I was struck by a sign -- the sign on a burnt-out, gutted structure that was being rebuilt. I understand that Berliners of my own generation can remember seeing signs like it dotted throughout the western sectors of the city. The sign simply: "The Marshall Plan is helping here to strengthen the free world." A strong, free world in the West -- that dream became real. Japan rose from ruin to become an economic giant. Italy, France, Belgium -- virtually every nation in Western Europe saw political and economic rebirth; the European Community was founded.In West Germany and here in Berlin, there took place an economic miracle, the Wirtschaftswunder. Adenauer, Erhard, Reuter, and other leaders understood the practical importance of liberty -- that just as truth can flourish only when the journalist is given freedom of speech, so prosperity can come about only when the farmer and businessman enjoy economic freedom. The German leaders -- the German leaders reduced tariffs, expanded free trade, lowered taxes. From 1950 to 1960 alone, the standard of living in West Germany and Berlin doubled.Where four decades ago there was rubble, today in West Berlin there is the greatest industrial output of any city in Germany: busy office blocks, fine homes and apartments, proud avenues, and the sping lawns of parkland. Where a city's culture seemed to have been destroyed, today there are two great universities, orchestras and an opera, countless theaters, and museums. Where there was want, today there's abundance -- food, clothing, automobiles -- the wonderful goods of the Kudamm.sup1; From devastation, from utter ruin, you Berliners have, in freedom, rebuilt a city that once again ranks as one of the greatest on earth. Now the Soviets may have had other plans. But my friends, there were a few things the Soviets didn't count on: Berliner Herz, Berliner Humor, ja, und Berliner Schnauze. [Berliner heart, Berliner humor, yes, and a Berliner Schnauze.sup2;]In the 1950s -- In the 1950s Khrushchev predicted: "We will bury you." But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind -- too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.And now -- now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control.Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty -- the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev -- Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!I understand the fear of war and the pain of division that afflict this continent, and I pledge to you my country's efforts to help overcome these burdens. To be sure, we in the West must resist Soviet expansion. So, we must maintain defenses of unassailable strength. Yet we seek peace; so we must strive to reduce arms on both sides. Beginning 10 years ago, the Soviets challenged the Western alliance with a grave new threat, hundreds of new and more deadly SS-20 nuclear missiles capable of striking every capital in Europe. The Western alliance responded by committing itself to a counter-deployment (unless the Soviets agreed to negotiate a better solution) -- namely, the elimination of such weapons on both sides. For many months, the Soviets refused to bargain in earnestness. As the alliance, in turn, prepared to go forward with its counter-deployment, there were difficult days, days of protests like those during my 1982 visit to this city; and the Soviets later walked away from the table.But through it all, the alliance held firm. And I invite those who protested then -- I invite those who protest today -- to mark this fact: Because we remained strong, the Soviets came back to the table. Because we remained strong, today we have within reach the possibility, not merely of limiting the growth of arms, but of eliminating, for the first time, an entire class of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.As I speak, NATO ministers are meeting in Iceland to review the progress of our proposals for eliminating these weapons. At the talks in Geneva, we have also proposed deep cuts in strategic offensive weapons. And the Western allies have likewise made far-reaching proposals to reduce the danger of conventional war and to place a total ban on chemical weapons. While we pursue these arms reductions, I pledge to you that we will maintain the capacity to deter Soviet aggression at any level at which it might occur. And in cooperation with many of our allies, the ed States is pursuing the Strategic Defense Initiative -- research to base deterrence not on the threat of offensive retaliation, but on defenses that truly defend; on systems, in short, that will not target populations, but shield them. By these means we seek to increase the safety of Europe and all the world. But we must remember a crucial fact: East and West do not mistrust each other because we are armed; we are armed because we mistrust each other. And our differences are not about weapons but about liberty. When President Kennedy spoke at the City Hall those 24 years ago, freedom was encircled; Berlin was under siege. And today, despite all the pressures upon this city, Berlin stands secure in its liberty. And freedom itself is transforming the globe.In the Philippines, in South and Central America, democracy has been given a rebirth. Throughout the Pacific, free markets are working miracle after miracle of economic growth. In the industrialized nations, a technological revolution is taking place, a revolution marked by rapid, dramatic advances in computers and telecommunications. In Europe, only one nation and those it controls refuse to join the community of freedom. Yet in this age of redoubled economic growth, of information and innovation, the Soviet Union faces a choice: It must make fundamental changes, or it will become obsolete.Today, thus, represents a moment of hope. We in the West stand y to cooperate with the East to promote true openness, to break down barriers that separate people, to create a safer, freer world. And surely there is no better place than Berlin, the meeting place of East and West, to make a start. Free people of Berlin: Today, as in the past, the ed States stands for the strict observance and full implementation of all parts of the Four Power Agreement of 1971. Let us use this occasion, the 750th anniversary of this city, to usher in a new era, to seek a still fuller, richer life for the Berlin of the future. Together, let us maintain and develop the ties between the Federal Republic and the Western sectors of Berlin, which is permitted by the 1971 agreement. And I invite Mr. Gorbachev: Let us work to bring the Eastern and Western parts of the city closer together, so that all the inhabitants of all Berlin can enjoy the benefits that come with life in one of the great cities of the world.To open Berlin still further to all Europe, East and West, let us expand the vital air access to this city, finding ways of making commercial air service to Berlin more convenient, more comfortable, and more economical. We look to the day when West Berlin can become one of the chief aviation hubs in all central Europe. With -- With our French -- With our French and British partners, the ed States is prepared to help bring international meetings to Berlin. It would be only fitting for Berlin to serve as the site of ed Nations meetings, or world conferences on human rights and arms control, or other issues that call for international cooperation.There is no better way to establish hope for the future than to enlighten young minds, and we would be honored to sponsor summer youth exchanges, cultural events, and other programs for young Berliners from the East. Our French and British friends, I'm certain, will do the same. And it's my hope that an authority can be found in East Berlin to sponsor visits from young people of the Western sectors. One final proposal, one close to my heart: Sport represents a source of enjoyment and ennoblement, and you may have noted that the Republic of Korea -- South Korea -- has offered to permit certain events of the 1988 Olympics to take place in the North. International sports competitions of all kinds could take place in both parts of this city. And what better way to demonstrate to the world the openness of this city than to offer in some future year to hold the Olympic games here in Berlin, East and West.In these four decades, as I have said, you Berliners have built a great city. You've done so in spite of threats -- the Soviet attempts to impose the East-mark, the blockade. Today the city thrives in spite of the challenges implicit in the very presence of this wall. What keeps you here? Certainly there's a great deal to be said for your fortitude, for your defiant courage. But I believe there's something deeper, something that involves Berlin's whole look and feel and way of life -- not mere sentiment. No one could live long in Berlin without being completely disabused of illusions. Something, instead, that has seen the difficulties of life in Berlin but chose to accept them, that continues to build this good and proud city in contrast to a surrounding totalitarian presence, that refuses to release human energies or aspirations, something that speaks with a powerful voice of affirmation, that says "yes" to this city, yes to the future, yes to freedom. In a word, I would submit that what keeps you in Berlin -- is "love."Love both profound and abiding. Perhaps this gets to the root of the matter, to the most fundamental distinction of all between East and West. The totalitarian world produces backwardness because it does such violence to the spirit, thwarting the human impulse to create, to enjoy, to worship. The totalitarian world finds even symbols of love and of worship an affront. Years ago, before the East Germans began rebuilding their churches, they erected a secular structure: the television tower at Alexander Platz. Virtually ever since, the authorities have been working to correct what they view as the tower's one major flaw: treating the glass sphere at the top with paints and chemicals of every kind. Yet even today when the sun strikes that sphere, that sphere that towers over all Berlin, the light makes the sign of the cross. There in Berlin, like the city itself, symbols of love, symbols of worship, cannot be suppressed.As I looked out a moment ago from the Reichstag, that embodiment of German unity, I noticed words crudely spray-painted upon the wall, perhaps by a young Berliner (e):"This wall will fall. Beliefs become reality."Yes, across Europe, this wall will fall, for it cannot withstand faith; it cannot withstand truth. The wall cannot withstand freedom.And I would like, before I close, to say one word. I have , and I have been questioned since I've been here about certain demonstrations against my coming. And I would like to say just one thing, and to those who demonstrate so. I wonder if they have ever asked themselves that if they should have the kind of government they apparently seek, no one would ever be able to do what they're doing again.Thank you and God bless you all. Thank you.200806/41825
  • On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes, our sense of patriotism is particularly strong. Because while we gather here under open skies, we know that far beyond the Organ Mountains – in the streets of Baghdad, and the outskirts of Kabul – America's sons and daughters are sacrificing on our behalf. And our thoughts and prayers are with them.I speak to you today with deep humility. My grandfather marched in Patton's Army, but I cannot know what it is to walk into battle like so many of you. My grandmother worked on a bomber assembly line, but I cannot know what it is for a family to sacrifice like so many of yours have.I am the father of two young girls, and I cannot imagine what it is to lose a child. My heart breaks for the families who've lost a loved one.These are things I cannot know. But there are also some things I do know.I know that our sadness today is mixed with pride; that those we've lost will be remembered by a grateful nation; and that our presence here today is only possible because your loved ones, America's patriots, were willing to give their lives to defend our nation.I know that while we may come from different places, cherish different traditions, and have different political beliefs, we all – every one of us – hold in reverence those who've given this country the full measure of their devotion.And I know that children in New Mexico and across this country look to your children, to your brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and friends–to those we honor today–as a shining example of what's best about America.Their lives are a model for us all.What led these men and women to wear their country's uniform? What is it that leads anyone to put aside their own pursuit of life's comforts; to subordinate their own sense of survival, for something bigger – something greater?Many of those we honor today were so young when they were killed. They had a whole life ahead of them–birthdays and weddings, holidays with children and grandchildren, homes and jobs and happiness of their own. And yet, at one moment or another, they felt the tug, just as generations of Americans did before them. Maybe it was a massacre in a Boston square; or a President's call to save the Union and free the slaves. Maybe it was the day of infamy that awakened a nation to a storm in the Pacific and a madman's death march across Europe. Or maybe it was the morning they woke up to see our walls of security crumble along with our two largest towers.Whatever the moment was, when it came and they felt that tug, perhaps it was simply the thought of a mom or a dad, a husband or a wife, or a child not yet born that made this young American think that it was time to go;that made them think "I must serve so that the people I love can live–in happiness, and safety, and freedom."This sense of service is what America is all about. It is what leads Americans to enter the military. It is what sustains them in the most difficult hours. And it is the safeguard of our security.You see, America has the greatest military in the history of the world. We have the best training, the most advanced technology, the most sophisticated planning, and the most powerful weapons. And yet, in the end, though each of these things is absolutely critical, the true strength of our military lies someplace else.It lies in the spirit of America's servicemen and women. No matter whether they faced down fascism or fought for freedom in Korea and Vietnam; liberated Kuwait or stopped ethnic cleansing in the Balkans or serve brilliantly and bravely under our flag today; no matter whether they are black, white, Latino, Asian, or Native American; whether they come from old military families, or are recent immigrants – their stories tell the same truth.It is not simply their bravery, their insistence on doing their part – whatever the cost – to make America more secure and our world more free. It's not simply an unflinching belief in our highest ideals. It's that in the thick of battle, when their very survival is threatened, America's sons and daughters aren't thinking about themselves, they're thinking about one another; they're risking everything to save not their own lives, but the lives of their fellow soldiers and sailors, airmen and Marines. And when we lose them – in a final act of selflessness and service – we know that they died so that their brothers and sisters, so that our nation, might live.What makes America's servicemen and women heroes is not just their sense of duty, honor, and country; it's the bigness of their hearts and the bth of their compassion.That is what we honor today.Oliver Wendell Holmes once remarked that "To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might." The Americans we honor today believed. Sergeant Ryan Jopek believed. Ryan was just weeks away from coming home when he volunteered for a mission to Mosul from which he would never return. His friends remember his easy smile; I remember Ryan because of the bracelet his mother gave me that I wear every day. Next to his name, it s: "All gave some–he gave all."It is a living reminder of our obligation as Americans to serve Ryan as well as he served us; as well as the wounded warriors I've had the honor of meeting at Walter Reed have served us; as well as the soldiers at Fort Bliss and the troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world are serving us. That means giving the same priority to building a 21st century VA as to building a 21st century military. It means having zero tolerance for veterans sleeping on our streets. It means bringing home our POWs and MIAs. And it means treating the graves of veterans like the hallowed ground it is and banning protests near funerals.But it also means something more. It means understanding that what Ryan and so many Americans fought and died for is not a place on a map or a certain kind of people. What they sacrificed for –what they gave all for–is a larger idea–the idea that a nation can be governed by laws, not men; that we can be equal in the eyes of those laws;that we can be free to say what we want, write what we want, and worship as we please; that we can have the right to pursue our own dreams, but the obligation to help our fellow Americans pursue theirs.So on this day, of all days, let's memorialize our fallen heroes by honoring all who wear our country's uniform; and by completing their work to make America more secure and our world more free. But let's also do our part – service-member and civilian alike – to live up to the idea that so many of our fellow citizens have consecrated–the idea of America. That is the essence of patriotism. That is the lesson of this solemn day. And that is the task that lies ahead. May God bless you, and may God bless the ed States of America.01/60909
  • Iowa Caucus Night 爱荷华州之夜 (2008年1月3日,爱荷华州首府得梅因市)IOWA CAUCUS NIGHTJanuary 3, 2008 | Des Moines, IowaThank you, Iowa.You know, they said this day would never come.They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided; too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose.But on this January night—at this defining moment in history—you have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do. You have done what the state of New Hampshire can do in five days. You have done what America can do in this new year, 2008. In lines that stretched around schools and churches; in small towns and big cities; you came together as Democrats, Republicans, and independents to stand up and say that we are one nation; we are one people; and our time for change has come.You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that’s consumed Washington; to end the political strategy that’s been all about division and instead make it about addition—to build a coalition for change that stretches through Red states and Blue states . Because that’s how we’ll win in November, and that’s how we’ll finally meet the challenges that we face as a nation. We are choosing hope over fear . We’re choosing unity over division and sending a powerful message that change is coming to America.You said the time has come to tell the lobbyists who think their money and their influence speak louder than our voices that they don’t own this government, we do; and we are here to take it back.The time has come for a President who will be honest about the choices and the challenges we face; who will listen to you and learn from you even when we disagree; who won’t just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know. And in New Hampshire, if you give me the same chance that Iowa did tonight, I will be that President for America.Thank you.I’ll be a President who finally makes health care affordable and available to every single American the same way I expanded health care in Illinois—by—by bringing Democrats and Republicans together to get the job done.I’ll be a President who ends the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and put a middle-class tax cut into the pockets of the working Americans who deserve it.I’ll be a President who harnesses the ingenuity of farmers and scientists and entrepreneurs to free this nation from the tyranny of oil once and for all .And I’ll be a President who ends this war in Iraq and finally brings our troops home; who restores our moral standing; who understands that 9/11 is not a way to scare up votes, but a challenge that should unite America and the world against the common threats of the twenty-first century; common threats of terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease.Tonight, we are one step closer to that vision of America because of what you did here in Iowa. And so I’d especially like to thank the organizers and the precinct captains; the volunteers and the staff who made this all possible.And while I’m at it, on thank-yous , I think it makes sense for me to thank the love of my life, the rock of the Obama family, the closer on the campaign trail —give it up for Michelle Obama .I know you didn’t do this for me. You did this . . . you did this because you believed so deeply in the most American of ideas—that in the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it.08/81858
  • [Nextpage视频演讲]Today, President Obama travelled to the Gulf Coast region for the fourth time since the BP oil spill began in April. The President began his trip in Gulfport, Mississippi, where he met with National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen and local officials to discuss efforts to fight the BP oil spill. Later, the President had lunch with business owners in Gulfport, Mississippi, to discuss the impact the oil spill is having on tourism, fishing and other industries in the region.Download Video: mp4 (167MB) | mp3 (16MB) [Nextpage演讲文本]Remarks by the President After Touring Theodore Staging FacilityTheodore Staging Facility, Theodore, Alabama3:05 P.M. CDTTHE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. I just had to -- a chance to tour this staging facility here at Theodore along with Admiral Allen and Governor Riley. I also want to acknowledge that Congressman Jo Bonner and a number of our elected officials are here and they just received an extensive briefing about what is taking place. It is from this staging area and 16 others like it all across the Gulf Coast that our response to the oil spill is being carried out. I saw and many of you had an opportunity to see what is being done to repair and decontaminate boom, to train volunteers, and to help with the cleanup efforts. And their hard work and their sense of purpose on behalf of the people of Alabama as well as the Gulf Coast is inspiring. I had a chance during the discussions with the state and local officials to reiterate to them what I've been saying all across the coast, and that is that we want to coordinate at every level -- federal, state, and local -- to make sure that we are leaving no stone unturned in terms of our ability to respond to this crisis. Now, what I've heard from a number of local officials during my trip today is what I’ve heard from folks on each of the four visits that I’ve made to this region since the Deepwater Horizon explosion happened in April. There’s a sense that this disaster is not only threatening our fishermen and our shrimpers and our oystermen, not only affecting potentially precious marshes and wetlands and estuaries and waters that are part of what makes the Gulf Coast so special -- there’s also a fear that it can have a long-term impact on a way of life that has been passed on for generations. And I understand that fear. The leaders and the officials who are with me understand it. Governor Riley understands it. He has been a regular presence on our daily coordinating calls, and a relentless advocate for Alabama throughout this process. And we are absolutely committed to working with him and all the local officials who are behind us to do everything in our power to protect the Gulf way of life so that it’s there for our children and our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren. Now, everybody here has had experiences dealing with disasters. As we were flying over from Mississippi via helicopter, you could see the footprints of buildings that had been decimated from Katrina. But in some ways what we're dealing with here is unique because it's not simply one catastrophic event. It’s an ongoing assault whose movements are constantly changing. That's what makes this crisis so challenging. It means that it has to be constantly watched. It has to be tracked. We're constantly having to redeploy resources to make sure that they're having maximum impact. And we also need to make sure that we are constantly helping folks who have been hurt by it, even as we're stopping the oil from sping into more and more areas. So that means that this response effort has to happen on a bunch of different tracks. It means containing as much of the oil as we can as quick as we can. After seeing an initial oil collection plan from BP, we went back to them and said that they need to move faster and more aggressively. And they have now come back with a plan to accelerate steps to contain over 50,000 barrels a day by the end of June, two weeks earlier than they had originally suggested. Their revised plan also includes steps to better prepare against extreme weather events and other unforeseen circumstances in the months ahead, addressing another one of our concerns. And we’re going to continue to hold BP and any other responsible parties accountable for the disaster that they created. Dealing with the aftermath of this spill also means protecting the health and safety of the folks who live and work here in Theodore, here in Alabama, and here on the Gulf Coast. As part of this effort, I’m announcing a comprehensive, coordinated, and multi-agency initiative to ensure that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is safe to eat. Now, I had some of that seafood for lunch and it was delicious. But we want to make sure that the food industry down here as much as possible is getting the protect -- the protection and the certification that they need to continue their businesses. So this is important for consumers who need to know that their food is safe, but it's also important for the fishermen and processors, who need to be able to sell their products with confidence. So, let me be clear: Seafood from the Gulf today is safe to eat. But we need to make sure that it stays that way. And that’s why, beyond closing off waters that have been or are likely to be exposed to oil, the FDA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are increasing inspections of seafood processors, strengthening surveillance programs, and monitoring fish that are caught just outside of restricted areas. And we’re also coordinating our efforts with the states, which are implementing similar plans. These safety measures are on top of steps that we’ve taken to protect workers who are involved in the cleanup efforts. And part of the training that you observed here today involves making sure that workers are sticking to the protocols that are put in place so that when they are out there on the waters or here on land working with potentially toxic materials, that they're taking that seriously and that they're not cutting corners on safety, because we don't want tragedies on top of the tragedy that we're aly seeing. Officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are inspecting all the staging areas like this one. They're boarding vessels off the coast to make sure that BP is complying with its safety obligations. If they see a problem, they’ll work with BP to resolve it as quickly as possible. And we’re also monitoring air and water across the Gulf Coast for hazardous chemicals and pollutants that could endanger oil spill workers or anybody else, so we can act swiftly should any health risks arise. Now, these health and safety measures are just part of our overall effort to deal with the spill. All in all, we are confronting the largest environmental disaster in our history with the largest environmental response and recovery effort in our history. Over 27,000 personnel are working to safeguard our coasts and protect endangered wildlife. More than 5,400 skimmers, tugs, barges and other vessels -- some of which you saw as we came into this facility -- are currently responding to the spill. Over 2 million feet of containment boom and over 3 million feet of absorbent boom are being used to contain the spill, and millions of more feet are available. In addition, we have authorized the deployment of 17,500 National Guardsmen and women to assist in the response effort. So far, only about 1,600 have been activated, and the rest stand y to help whenever our governors choose to call on them. Across the Gulf Coast, Guardsmen are supporting local, state, and federal authorities in a number of ways, from reconnaissance to hazardous material training. Guard aircraft are also assisting in the response and helping to coordinate the vessels that are out on the water. Here in Alabama in particular, about 200 of the roughly 450 Guardsmen who've been activated have received specialized training to assist BP with claims processing. So put simply, this is a multi-purpose force that's prepared to handle almost any challenge, and I hope our governors put them to good use. So, the full resources of our government are being mobilized to confront this disaster. But it's not only important for everyone from the federal government on down to do all we can -- it’s also important for us to work together to make sure our efforts are well-coordinated. That’s why Governor Riley and the other Gulf Coast governors have been on a daily call with my administration, seven days a week, since this disaster occurred. That’s why we’re going to continue to work hand in hand with state and local authorities on every front, from containing as much oil as possible to protecting our coasts, until we put this tragic ordeal behind us. Now, I can’t promise folks here in Theodore or across the Gulf Coast that the oil will be cleaned up overnight. It will not be. It's going to take time for things to return to normal. There's going to be a harmful effect on many local businesses and it's going to be painful for a lot of folks. Folks are going to be frustrated and some folks are going to be angry. But I promise you this: that things are going to return to normal. This region that's known a lot of hardship will bounce back, just like it's bounced back before. We are going to do everything we can, 24/7, to make sure that communities get back on their feet. And in the end, I am confident that we're going to be able to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before. So, Governor Riley, I appreciate all your efforts. To all the local officials here who've been working so hard, we appreciate what you do each and every day. And let me just make one last comment about our Coast Guard and about our National Incident Coordinator, Thad Allen. Thad Allen was about to retire and he has answered the call on behalf of this country and is working as hard as anybody in this country right now to help deal with this crisis. Members of the Coast Guard have been doing outstanding work each and every day, and so I just want to say to all of them that the country is proud of you, grateful to you. Keep up the good work. All right. Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.) Q (Inaudible.) THE PRESIDENT: I want to take this one question because there's been some reports in the news. I'm going to be meeting with the BP chairman and a number of officials on Wednesday. We have begun preliminary conversations about how do we structure a mechanism so that the legitimate claims that are going to be presented not just tomorrow, not just next week, but over the coming months, are dealt with justly, fairly, promptly. So far, we've had a constructive conversation and my hope is, is that by the time the chairman and I meet on Wednesday, that we've made sufficient progress that we can start actually seeing a structure that would be in place. But it's too early now at this point, Major, for me to make an announcement. By Wednesday, though, my hope is, is that we've made some progress on this front. All right. Q (Inaudible.) THE PRESIDENT: I'm going to let Thad Allen, who's the National Incident Coordinator, address this very quickly because we talked about it during our meeting. ADMIRAL ALLEN: First of all, we have a number of different types of skimming equipment. Some are offshore deep-draft vessels; the skimming equipment is organically built into it. We have other skimming arrays that are towed with boom systems, and we have shallow water skimmers that are deployed inshore. They become the major resource of effectiveness to try and fight this battle offshore, and we know what we're doing near the wellhead. We have to push the enemy, if you will, back 20 or 30 miles offshore and do maximum skimming there. We have over 400 of those skimming vessels that are actually organic -- organically contained skimming equipment. Our goal is to take the smaller equipment that's flexible, put it on vessels of opportunity, and then coordinate better with our local state partners, including National Guard overflights, local fishermen's associations, and so forth, mass our effect and get it pointed up with a command and control system that can attack it on all levels. THE PRESIDENT: All right. Q About the vessels of opportunity, there are a lot of local fishermen that say they're not being -- THE PRESIDENT: The -- this is an issue -- and you're only going to get two questions. This is an issue that's come up across the Gulf. Keep in mind what we're talking about with vessels of opportunity -- that could range from a big shrimp boat to just a little recreation boat that somebody has brought up. So each of them is going to have different capacity. Some of them are going to be able to take swimming -- skimming equipment of the sort that Admiral Allen discussed and actually place it on the boat. Some of them aren't going to have that capacity, but maybe they can act as sentinels to spot oil, or maybe some of them are just shuttling supplies back and forth to these ships. So what we're doing now is we're taking inventory of all the vessels that have presented themselves to determine which ones can go out in deep water -- they've got radio, they've got full equipment, they can actually lay out boom, they can engage in skimming -- which ones aren't able to do that, and that process is going to be coordinated. But keep in mind we've got to do this across four states. And what that means is, is that at any given time, as Thad indicated, the priority might be we just want to get some stuff out 20 miles before it starts coming in closer, which means you're not going to see necessarily a lot of skimmers close in because every resource that we have is being deployed further out. But one of the key points that we made with the regional incident commander is we've got to make sure that we've got a full inventory, we know exactly what the capacity of each of these boats are, we've made sure that people are being trained, and we're matched up folks who are trained with these vessels, and we start actually putting to work as quickly as possible. All right. Q (Inaudible.) THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, I've seen a number of beautiful beaches. I saw some in Mississippi. We saw some beaches flying over. But I'll be honest with you -- that we're going to stop as much of the oil from coming in as possible. That's our number one job. It turns out that if the oil hits the beaches, that's actually probably the easiest to clean up. So it's a concern obviously for tourism, it's a concern for an entire Gulf region that economically depends on the tourist season and this period of time when people are out of school. But those beaches will recover because those big globs of oil, when they hit the beaches, we can send a bunch of people out there and scoop them up, dispose of it properly, and those beaches will look pretty pristine a year or two years from now. The biggest concern we have, actually, are the marshes, the estuaries, the wetlands, where if you start seeing that oil seeping in, that not only can kill oyster beds and other vitally important seafood and ecosystems, but even the repair efforts in those areas can actually destroy the ecology in the region. So we're having to coordinate with the best scientists we've got available. Thad Allen is working with NOAA and all the other agencies to make sure that we are grading priorities in terms of areas that have to be protected first and foremost because they may have the most difficult time to recover. And that means that sometimes, for example, in Mississippi, where I just came from, they just made a decision they're not putting any boom in front of the beaches, because the fact of the matter is if the oil hits there it's bad but it's temporary, whereas in some of these other areas it could end up being permanent. All right. Thank you, everybody. (Applause.)END3:22 P.M. CDT201006/106309
  • THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. On Wednesday night, I addressed the Nation from the White House to lay out a new strategy that will help Iraq's democratic government succeed.America's new strategy comes after a difficult year in Iraq. In 2006, the terrorists and insurgents fought to reverse the extraordinary democratic gains the Iraqis have made. In February, the extremists bombed a holy Shia mosque in a deliberate effort to provoke reprisals that would set off a sectarian conflict. They succeeded, and the ongoing sectarian violence, especially in Baghdad, is making all other progress difficult. Only the Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. Their leaders understand this, and they are stepping forward to do it. But they need our help, and it is in our interests to provide that help. The changes in our strategy will help the Iraqis in four main areas:First, we will help the Iraqis execute their aggressive plan to secure their capital. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of Baghdad. The new plan to secure Baghdad fixes the problems that prevented previous operations from succeeding. This time, there will be adequate Iraqi and U.S. forces to hold the areas that have been cleared, including more Iraqi forces and five additional brigades of American troops committed to Baghdad. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter neighborhoods that are home to those fueling sectarian violence. Prime Minister Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference with security operations will not be tolerated.Second, America will step up the fight against al Qaeda in its home base in Iraq -- Anbar province. Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing al Qaeda leaders, and 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've given orders to increase American forces in Anbar province by 4,000 troops. These troops will work with Iraqi and tribal forces to increase 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 reestablish it in Iraq.Third, America will hold the Iraqi government to benchmarks it has announced. These include taking responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November, passing legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis, and spending billion of its own money on reconstruction projects that will create new jobs. These are strong commitments. And the Iraqi government knows that it must meet them, or lose the support of the Iraqi and the American people.Fourth, America will expand our military and diplomatic efforts to bolster the security of Iraq and protect American interests in the Middle East. We will address the problem of Iran and Syria allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. We will encourage countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf states to increase their economic assistance to Iraq. Secretary Rice has gone to the region to continue the urgent diplomacy required to help bring peace to the Middle East.My national security team is now making our case on Capitol Hill. We recognize that many members of Congress are skeptical. Some say our approach is really just more troops for the same strategy. In fact, we have a new strategy with a new mission: helping secure the population, especially in Baghdad. Our plan puts Iraqis in the lead.Others worry that we are pursuing a purely military solution that makes a political solution less likely. In fact, the sectarian violence is the main obstacle to a political solution, and the best way to help the Iraqis reach this solution is to help them put down this violence.Members of Congress have a right to express their views, and express them forcefully. But those who refuse to give this plan a chance to work have an obligation to offer an alternative that has a better chance for success. To oppose everything while proposing nothing is irresponsible.Whatever our differences on strategy and tactics, we all have a duty to ensure that our troops have what they need to succeed. Thousands of young men and women are preparing to join an important mission that will in large part determine the outcome in Iraq. Our brave troops should not have to wonder if their leaders in Washington will give them what they need. I urge members of Congress to fulfill their responsibilities, make their views known, and to always support our men and women in harm's way.Thank you for listening. 200801/23684
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