8/5/13: White House Press Briefing

Mr. Carney:
Good afternoon,
ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for being here. Good Monday to you. Before I take your questions,
I just wanted to note that on behalf of all
of us in the press office, from the President on down, we want to express our
condolences to the NBC family and to the Palmer family
at the loss of John Palmer, who was truly one
of the greats, in my view — a wonderful man,
a terrific reporter, and someone who was as
old-school as you could get, and just decent to the core. So, with that, I’ll go straight
to the Associated Press. The Press:
Thanks, Jay. A couple of questions
on the embassy closures and the threats
surrounding that. Can you be a little more
specific about the type of chatter that led
to these closures? Are we talking about intercepts
of electronic communications? Mr. Carney:
Well, Julie, I appreciate
the question and I certainly understand
the interest. There’s a great deal of
focus and attention on this in the press, in the public, and of course,
within our administration. We take the threat very
seriously and have taken action because of that. I’m not in a position to
discuss specific intelligence, but we believe that this threat
is significant and we are taking it seriously for that reason,
and have taken the actions that the State Department announced
out of an abundance of caution, and will continue
to monitor this and take action as necessary. The Press:
Is this threat contained
just to Americans and American interests overseas, or is there any heightened
threat to Americans in the U.S.? Mr. Carney:
I would say that the
threat is emanating from and may be directed towards
the Arabian Peninsula, but it is beyond that,
potentially. And that is why we have taken
some of the actions we’ve taken. And we can’t be more specific
than that except to say that the embassy closures
that we’ve announced are in reaction to that out
of an abundance of caution, and the extension of those
closures does not reflect a new stream of threat
information but is more a reflection of taking
necessary precautions. The Press:
But I just want to clarify — you said that this largely
contains the Arabian Peninsula but also beyond that. Does “beyond that” include
Americans in the U.S.? Mr. Carney:
I think that the
threat from al Qaeda and affiliated organizations
to the United States and to the American
people has been a reality that we’ve talked about
for a long time now. I think — The Press:
This specific threat — Mr. Carney:
Again, I’m not
going to get into specific intelligence matters. I can tell you that we have
taken the action we’ve taken out of an abundance of caution and we have issued
the warnings that we’ve issued in order to make sure that
the American people are aware of the potential threat, the potential threat
that has always been with us but which is heightened
at this time. And we will provide more
information as we can, mindful of the need to
maintain our security. The Press:
And word of these embassy
closures and this threat followed the President’s meeting
with the President of Yemen. Obviously Yemen is at
the center of this. Is there anything that
came from that meeting, anything President Hadi
told President Obama that contributed
to this decision? Mr. Carney:
We read out that meeting
and I don’t have any more detail for you
from that meeting. It is certainly the case that
we cooperate on counterterrorism with Yemen and
have for some time. But this specific information
reflects what we’ve gathered, broadly speaking, and that’s
what we’re reacting to. The meeting between President
Hadi and President Obama centered on a variety of topics, including our
counterterrorism cooperation. Yes, Jeff. The Press:
Jay, should Americans
in the U.S. — to follow up on what
Julie asked — be afraid? Mr. Carney:
Jeff, what I can tell you is
that we face an ongoing threat from al Qaeda
and its affiliates. There are individuals and
organizations out there that are focused
on doing the United States and the American people harm, as well as doing
harm to our people. Now, the statement that
we put out has made clear that our current information
suggests that al Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan
terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond. And our information suggests
that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and
the end of August. What we know is that
the threat emanates from and may be focused on occurring
in the Arabian Peninsula, but it could potentially be
beyond that or elsewhere. And so we cannot
be more specific — which is why we’ve taken some
of the actions we’ve taken and made the statements
that we’ve made. The Press:
What does this say more broadly about the strength of
al Qaeda in general? Mr. Carney:
We’ve made clear,
as I was saying earlier, that as al Qaeda core has been
diminished through the efforts of the United States
and our allies, affiliate organizations
— including in particular, al Qaeda in the
Arabian Peninsula — have strengthened. And we have here in Washington
identified AQAP as a particularly dangerous
threat for some time now, a number of years. As you know,
from this very podium John Brennan,
now the CIA Director, then the President’s Counterterrorism and
Homeland Security Advisor, spoke very specifically about
the rising threat from AQAP. And that is
something that we’ve seen in some of the foiled attempts
that AQAP has been engaged in, and has been a focus of
attention of our national security apparatus
for some time. The Press:
And if I could ask
you one other question on a separate issue — some colleagues of our
at Reuters reported today that a unit of the DEA, called the Special
Operations Division, gives tips to law enforcement
across the U.S., and was asked to cover up evidence that is
used to launch investigations against Americans. Can the White House
confirm this? And are there any concerns
about the constitutionality of this program? Mr. Carney:
Well, I’d say two things. One, I would refer you to the
Department of Justice on this. And beyond that, I can tell
you that it’s my understanding, our understanding, that the
Department of Justice is looking at some of the issues
raised in the story. But for more, I would refer you
to the Department of Justice. The Press:
Jay, in the past, the President
has said that al Qaeda — and you just
mentioned this — core has been
on the path to defeat. He said this back in May;
he said it in December. And I’m just curious — with nearly two dozen embassies
and consulates being closed, is it fair anymore to say that core al Qaeda
is on the path to defeat? Mr. Carney:
Well, I think as most people who cover these
issues understand, al Qaeda core is
the Afghanistan/Pakistan-based central organizational
core of al Qaeda, once headed
by Osama bin Laden. And there is no question
over the past several years al Qaeda core has been
greatly diminished, not least because of the
elimination of Osama bin Laden. What is also true is that
al Qaeda and affiliated organizations represent
a continued threat to the United States,
to our allies, to Americans stationed abroad, as well as Americans
here at home. And for that reason we have
focused a great deal of attention on those
affiliated organizations. And we have made clear over the
past several years that AQAP, al Qaeda in the
Arabian Peninsula, is of particular concern and has
demonstrated both an interest in and a willingness
to attempt serious attacks on the United States,
our allies and our people. For that reason, we have
to be continually vigilant, and have been. And the threat that we’ve made
public in recent days reflects the fact that we are vigilant
about the willingness of al Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula and other affiliated organizations with al Qaeda
to take action against us and against our allies
and our people. And we are taking all
the precautions we can as we gather more information. The Press:
And what does it say
to the rest of the world when you close nearly two
dozen embassies and consulates? Some might say that that is a
showing of weakness on the part of the United States that
it has to shut its doors. Mr. Carney:
Well, as I think the State
Department has made clear, this is a
temporary measure. It is limited to the diplomatic
facilities that have been specifically identified. And it is done — in terms of
the extension of the closure — out of an abundance of caution, which I think is the right move given the potential
threat that exists. We are engaged around the world. And it is absolutely the case
that that engagement creates some risk for American
personnel around the world. And decisions like these are
designed to reduce that risk in the face
of a potential threat. But the engagement, of course,
will continue because it’s in the United States’ interest to
be engaged around the world, including in those
areas that are volatile and where the risk
is higher than elsewhere. The Press:
And is there any concern
that you’ve taken your eye off of the ball when
it comes to al Qaeda — stressing for months that its
core is on the path to defeat while AQAP gets stronger — when you have affiliates
like the one in Benghazi where people who might
be affiliated with al Qaeda pulling off the
attack in Benghazi? Lindsey Graham yesterday said
that al Qaeda is on steroids. That doesn’t sound like
it’s on the path to defeat. Mr. Carney:
Well, again, I think you’re
confusing al Qaeda core with what we have said very
clearly about the threat posed in particular by AQAP, but
also affiliated organizations around the region and the world. I think that any evaluation of
the actions that we’ve taken in the fight against al Qaeda and
its affiliated organizations over the last several years
and over the life of this administration demonstrates
a pretty intense focus on the fight against al Qaeda and the
effort to degradeal Qaeda’s abilities and
all the abilities of all
the affiliated organizations. The Press:
The eye hasn’t been
taken off the ball? Mr. Carney:
I think any fair assessment
would conclude the opposite. Jon. The Press:
Jay, is there any confidence
that we have enough information to disrupt whatever plot
is potentially underway? Mr. Carney:
I think we’ve told you as
much as we can at this point about the intelligence
that we have. I’m not in a position to
discuss in any more detail our intelligence. We obviously, as I said earlier, believe that this threat is
significant and it is ongoing. And for that reason, we have
taken some of the action that we’ve taken. And we are obviously continuing
to gather information to work with our partners and allies as
we do that to combat this threat and the overall threat posed by terrorist organizations
that wish us harm. The Press:
And on Edward Snowden, you said that the administration
was looking at the utility of this summit in
Moscow in September. Have you had any further
information on that? Mr. Carney:
I have no new announcement
for you today. As I said the other day, this
was not a positive development, and while we have a wide range
of interests with the Russians, we are continuing to evaluate
the utility of a summit. I think it’s fair to say that
you can expect that we’ll have a decision to announce in coming
days about that specific issue. The Press:
So how can the President go
to Moscow and meet with Putin just after this
slap in the face? Mr. Carney:
I think it’s fair to say
that we have a range of issues, Jon, of interest
with the Russians. And as I said the other day, it has been true for
four and a half years now that we have dealt
with the Russians in a very realistic way, in an effort to
cooperate where we can and to be very clear
and pointed where we disagree. We obviously disagree with
the Russians very strongly about the decision they’ve
made on Mr. Snowden. We disagree with the Russians
on a number of other issues, including Syria. And we have made those
disagreements plain, both publicly and privately, in our discussions
with the Russians. So when it comes to the
utility of a summit in Moscow, a bilateral summit, we are
evaluating that against not just our disagreement
over Mr. Snowden, but some of the other issues
where we have failed to see, thus far, eye to eye. And once we have fully assessed
the utility of a summit, we’ll make an announcement. Major. The Press:
A couple of things since
we haven’t had a chance to talk to
you about this — there’s been a lot
of speculation over the weekend that it’s maybe
the President’s birthday, maybe it’s the end of Ramadan, maybe it’s the anniversary or
the Kenya/Tanzania bombings, and I’d like to see if you can,
in any way, shape or form, communicate something that is
non-speculative about what this threat stream seems to be
about and if it does have any connection to what has been
speculated possible touch points that I just listed. Mr. Carney:
I cannot shed light
on what hasgenerated this particular threat. We simply act on the
information that we have. We obviously share the
information we have with our partners and allies, as we
identify and try to take action against those who would do us
harm and pose a threat to us, and who may be organizing an
attempt to attack either the United States, our
allies, or a U.S. facility. But beyond that I don’t have any
specific information to provide to you about this particular
threat and what it’s related to. The Press:
Okay. As you told us over the weekend, the President
was routinely briefed on this. In the past, when you look at
case studies of times when the United States government has
announced and not announced, there have been different
tactical reasons for that. And sometimes when
there’s an announcement, there’s a change in
the information flow, there’s a change in the
chatter, there’s a change in the operational communication that
potential terrorists go through. Can you tell us anything about
if that’s changed over the weekend, after the announcement
on Friday — the threat stream minimizing, or diverting, or
changing in a different way? Mr. Carney:
I think that’s a good question and I have no new information
to provide to you. We have no new threat stream
that is related to our decision to extend the closure
of facilities. And I can say that
because, understandably, a new decision like that, coming
on the original decision to close some facilities on Sunday,
might be read as indicating that we have a new stream of
information, and we do not. We’re simply working off of the
information we had coming into the weekend to act prudently in
further extending the closures. The Press:
Okay. Senator Graham and Senator
McCain are in Egypt. I know we talked a little
bit about this last week, but was there something
— for example, any conversations between
the President or senior administration officials
before they arrived in Egypt? Would you expect to
hear back from them? And in the intervening weeks since the last spate
of violence, is there anything that
you are prepared to say about the direction of Egypt,
either pro or con, or helpful or not helpful? Mr. Carney:
Well, on the visit by
Senators McCain and Graham, I can say that we’re
continuing to consult closely with Congress, and that
includes those two senators, with whom we have had at the
highest levels discussions about matters of national
security and foreign policy. As you know, those two senators
met with the President not long ago to discuss national
security issues. And we will, of course, consult
with them and other members of Congress on
developments in Egypt in the days and weeks ahead. More broadly on
Egypt, as you know, Deputy Secretary of State Bill
Burns was in Cairo this weekend and continued his discussions
with a wide range of Egyptians, both yesterday and today, on
how they can calm tensions, avoid further violence and
facilitate an inclusive democratic process
that helps Egypt’s ongoing transition succeed. Deputy Secretary Burns
has extended his trip, as has the EU Special
Representative Bernadino León. The Deputy Secretary continues
to consult closely with Egyptians from a range of groups
and parties and sectors of society, as well as with
the EU and representatives of the UAE and Qatar,
who are also in Cairo. And along with our
international friends, our team is in Cairo to offer
the Egyptians help as they work to calm tensions
and reduce the polarization that we have seen there. Ultimately, the decisions on the
path forward are for Egyptians alone to make, but we are
assisting and facilitating this process, as requested
by the Egyptians. The Press:
Before I let you go, I know you don’t want to give
away everything tomorrow, but there have been for the last
month or so some encouraging signs in the housing market as a
part of the overall upward trend of the economy, and I wonder
what’s missing that the President is going to address
tomorrow that’s needed that he hasn’t
already done before. Mr. Carney:
Well, I think that you’re
absolutely true that there has been an important
rebound in the housing market. The data that describe the
situation in the housing market in this country on January
20th, 2009 are daunting. I believe the American people
lost roughly $7 trillion in wealth by January 2009. And what we have seen, through
the grit and determination of the American people, and through
the decisions made by the administration and the policies
put in place both with Congress and through executive action,
has been a very positive change in direction in
our housing market. But we are still not
where we need to be. And there is certainly ample
room to grow when it comes to providing more homeowners the
assurance and the capability to refinance their homes and to
further stabilize and grow the housing market
across the country. So as part of his plan to offer
a better bargain for the middle class, President Obama will be
in Phoenix tomorrow to lay out proposals for continuing
to help responsible homeowners and those Americans who
seek to own their homes. Following his remarks in
Phoenix, on Wednesday at 1 p.m. Eastern
and 10 a.m. Pacific time, the President will do
an interview with Zillow to answer questions
from citizens around the country that will be submitted through a
range of social media platforms, including through Twitter,
Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Vine. Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff
will moderate the discussion in which the President
will answer questions submitted by Zillow’s users
and social media community, using the hashtag
#askobamahousing. So I think what is important
to remember about this is that so many Americans across the
country view their own economic and financial circumstances
through their homes and whether they own a home, whether
their home is underwater, whether they feel like they
have equity in their homes. And so that strengthening of
the housing market is of vital importance to the strengthening
of the middle class. And that’s why the President has
chosen to focus on housing as one of the cornerstones
of his economic agenda. The Press:
Refinancing and
access to mortgage is primarily the focus? Mr. Carney:
Well, again, I don’t
want to steal — as you said at the top —
the President’s thunder, so I encourage you to wait
for more specifics from the President tomorrow. Ed. The Press:
Jay, on Iran, you’ve got
a new President in office, and obviously there is still
a very grave nuclear threat the administration
is concerned about. But do you feel like he is
saying some of the right things? Do you feel like maybe there
is an opportunity here? Mr. Carney:
Well, I appreciate
the question. I want to mention
that we, again, congratulate the Iranian people
for making their voices heard during Iran’s election. We note that President Rouhani
— recognize his election represented a call by the
Iranian people for change. And we hope that the new Iranian
government will heed the will of the voters by making choices
that will lead to a better life for the Iranian people. The inauguration of the
new President presents an opportunity for Iran to
act quickly to resolve the international community’s deep
concerns over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Should this new government
choose to engage substantively and seriously to meet its
international obligations and find a peaceful solution
to this issue it will find a willing partner
in the United States. Now, as we’ve said consistently,
we are open to discussions with Iran both through the P5-plus-1
and through bilateral talks. The focus of those talks
would be, and needs to be, on Iran’s willingness to forsake
its nuclear weapons ambitions. And should it be willing to
do that in a verifiable way, there’s an opportunity for Iran
to reenter the international community, to ease the
burden of its isolation, and thereby to do what the
new leadership in Iran has identified as its goal, which is to improve
the lot of the Iranian people. And that would be both very good
news for the Iranian people, as well as for the
region and the world. The Press:
And, finally, on al Qaeda, I want to go back to what
Jim was asking you about the President’s
previous comments. You’re correct that you and
other officials have said that there’s a difference
between al Qaeda core and its affiliates and the threat from each. But on the campaign trail, the President rarely
made that distinction. October 11th, 2012 — “I said we’d refocus
on the people who actually
attacked us on 9/11. And today,
al Qaeda is on the run and Osama bin Laden is dead.” Did he give the full picture
to the American people in the campaign about
the threat from al Qaeda when that was his
talking point again and again? Mr. Carney:
I think it’s indisputable that the elimination
of Osama bin Laden was a major accomplishment
in the effort against al Qaeda. We have been clear, and the
President has been clear, that the threat from
al Qaeda very much remains. And I think, in answer
to Jim’s question, I was trying to convey that any
fair assessment of the actions this administration takes
and this government takes, and our extraordinarily capable
men and women in uniform and men and women
in the intelligence community — the actions they take
in order to continue the fight against al Qaeda and al
Qaeda’s affiliates demonstrates how seriously we
continue to take the threat. And nobody should be
under any illusion that that threat still exists. I think that we have numerous
conversations in this room and around Washington and around the
country about what we need to do continually as a nation to
protect ourselves against the threat posed by terrorists
who want to do us harm. And the fact that we continue
to do those things demonstrates that the threat is real and
we have to be ever vigilant. So as I said earlier, I don’t
think there’s any fair reading of the efforts we’ve made in the
fight against AQAP and other al Qaeda affiliates. The
Press: But he rarely had those
caveats that you’re adding now. He said, on the run; he
said they’ve been decimated. Mr. Carney:
There’s no question
that al Qaeda’s core — The Press:
But he didn’t say their
affiliates might get us. Mr. Carney:
Well, that’s
just not true. But al Qaeda’s core leadership,
the leadership that attacked the United States on September
11th, 2001, has been decimated. Al Qaeda core in the AfPak
region has been greatly diminished and is on the run. And we have brought continual
pressure to bear on both al Qaeda core
and al Qaeda’s affiliates. And we have, for a
number of years now, made clear that our attention in
terms of the threat presented by al Qaeda has shifted in focus
to some of these affiliates, in particular AQAP. And John Brennan and
others have been categorical about that in public. So I think that represents
the full picture. The Press:
Jay, I want to follow up
on that from the other side. There have actually been
numerous drone strikes that have taken place in Yemen, some of
which you guys have confirmed, some of which you haven’t —
understandable on that front — but have been talked about as
taking out leaders of AQAP. And I guess my
question is more about — is the drone
strikes not working? AQAP, we’ve supposedly gone
after their leadership, had success in getting —
is this as you get rid of one leader, two more come up? Is there an explanation of why
— why is AQAP apparently as operational as they are today,
with all the effort that you guys have talked about
in public — like I said, some of which you couldn’t
— some of it that has been reported behind the scenes
— why has this not worked? Mr. Carney:
Well, I don’t think that
the fact that there is a continual threat from
the most operational of the AQ affiliates suggests that we haven’t
brought enormous focus to the effort to degrade
those affiliates. We have. And we have worked with
Yemen and other partners when it comes to AQAP. We have worked with other
international partners around the world in our efforts
to degrade al Qaeda and its affiliates in different parts
of the region and the world, and will continue to do that. But as we do that, we have to
recognize that we’re talking about an organization and
individuals who are singularly focused on doing harm to our
interests and our people, and we have to, therefore,
be mindful of that threat and take action accordingly. The Press:
Do you concur with
Congressman Adam Schiff, a member of the
Intelligence Committee? He said this morning that
he thinks the drone strikes, particularly in Yemen, have
been a double-edged sword, that for every success you had, it’s served as
a “recruiting tool” for AQAP. Mr. Carney:
Again, I’m not going to
talk about specific means by which we take the fight
to al Qaeda or its affiliates. I will simply say that it is our
view that we have to continue to take the fight to those
organizations and those individuals that are actively
plotting to attack the United States,
attack American citizens, attack Americans
stationed abroad, attack our allies
and their people, for as long as
that threat exists. And that effort extends
beyond the kinetic actions that can be taken. It includes all of the work
we do with our partners in the region and around the world
through intelligence and other means, to ensure that we are
doing everything we can to enhance the security of the
American people and our men and women stationed
around the world. The Press:
On the worldwide travel alert, is this an indication
that any American tourist, any American businessman
traveling overseas is potentially a target? Or is this worldwide
travel alert just an overabundance
of caution? Mr. Carney:
I think in this situation, it was the judgment made by the
administration that providing the alert was the
right course of action, understanding that it
was fairly general. We are taking actions when it
comes to the traveling public through TSA and other
organizations to ensure the security of the traveling public
and enhance that security. But as we said earlier,
we can’t be specific about — or I’ve said earlier
and others have said earlier — we can’t be specific
about where it is less safe and where it is more safe, so we need to make
sure that everyone is aware that there is
an existing threat. The Press:
Two other quick things. Why is — are McCain
and Lindsey Graham acting on behalf of the White House
in this instance? I know there’s been — you said
that he’s been fully briefed. Their role as mediator in this
situation — are they basically there on behalf of
the administration? Mr. Carney:
Well, I don’t know that
they’re there as mediators. I think they’re there
representing the United States Congress,
the United States Senate. They’re two leaders
in the Senate on matters of foreign policy for the
Republican Party in particular, but they have certainly been in
conversation with the President and others on the President’s
national security team. And I think
their efforts in Egypt and the conversations they have
represent the broad interests that not just
the administration has, but that the Congress has
in what’s happening there. And we’ll work — The Press:
You’re right. I mean, they are carrying —
as far as General al-Sisi is concerned, the
Muslim Brotherhood, they’re representing the
interests of President Obama. Mr. Carney:
Deputy Secretary
Burns is representing the administration in
Cairo, as I speak, and has been for several days, and has on his
prior visits there. Senators Graham and McCain
are representing themselves, obviously, the U.S. Senate,
the U.S. Congress. But we are all focused
together on the very volatile situation in Egypt. And there is no question that we
consult regularly with members of Congress, especially those
members like Senators Graham and McCain who have a
particularly keen interest in the country and the region. The Press:
Is the G20 at all in jeopardy? Is there a way —
you said you don’t — Mr. Carney:
I don’t foresee a change
in the President’s schedule. The Press:
— adding to U.S. prestige
by going to St. Petersburg? Mr. Carney:
I don’t see a change. There is not
a change to announce in the President’s schedule. The G20 is an
international meeting, one the United States was very
instrumental in setting up as an annual meeting
of 20 nations to discuss international economic
policy and other policies. So the President’s
schedule remains as it was, which includes
attending that summit. The Press:
Could he end up not attending,
but the U.S. attends? Mr. Carney:
Well, again, I don’t
foresee a change in his participation
and I don’t have any further scheduling announcements. Margaret. The Press:
Thanks, Jay. The embassy closings come as
there is this debate over the NSA’s surveillance programs,
and I’m wondering whether the intelligence and the
ongoing threat that the U.S. has identified
helps bolster the case for the NSA’s
activities and programs. Mr. Carney:
I’m not going to
blend those two stories or those two issues together. We have a threat that we have
advised the public about and discussed with you
in the media, and we are acting
in reaction to that threat. And we have a separate — we have a set of issues
regarding the unauthorized disclosure of some
classified information that has led to a debate
about the programs we have in place
to protect our security and the balance that
we seek and the President seeks in both protecting
our security and in maintaining the privacy
of the American people. So we’re focused, when
it comes to the threat, on what that threat represents,
how we can act against it, and ensure the
security and protection of the American people
and of our facilities abroad. I wouldn’t blend the two issues. The Press:
May I ask you — I don’t
mean this facetiously. I mean, it’s a real question. Operationally, what difference
does it make if the AQ core is weakened while the AQ
branches are strengthened? Does it make it
easier or harder? Or is it a wash,
in terms of al Qaeda’s ability to organize some
sort of worldwide thing if there are a bunch
of branches without a core? Mr. Carney:
Well, I think that some
counterterrorism experts might be able to address
this with greater detail. Al Qaeda core, headed by Osama
bin Laden and Zawahiri and others, took dramatic action
on several instances to inflict damage on the American people
and take the lives of Americans. And therefore, the actions
we took against, as a nation, al Qaeda core were both the
right thing to do and necessary when it came to mitigating
the threat that al Qaeda core represented and represents. It is diminished,
but not defeated. But there’s no question that, as we’ve said
for a long time now, some of these affiliate
organizations, and in particular AQAP,
represent threats as well. And we have seen in the past
from AQAP attempts that have been thwarted,
but were serious attempts to inflict damage on
the American people and engage in spectacular attacks against
U.S. interests and people, and we have to
be mindful of that. And that’s why we are responding
to this current threat in the way that we are. I’m going to only be able
to take a couple more. Ari. The Press:
The President is speaking
at Camp Pendleton and then also to disabled
American veterans. Is the focus going to
be middle-class jobs and opportunities sort
of in civilian life, or is it going to be a
foreign policy speech? Is he going to focus
on wars ending? Can you just give us a framework
to think about these two events? Mr. Carney:
Well, I don’t want
to steal his thunder for those events either. I think when it comes to
visiting Camp Pendleton, the President very much looks
forward to, as he always does, visiting with our troops both
when they’re stationed here in the United States and when
they’re stationed abroad. And I think you can expect those
remarks to be focused on the troops themselves. And then obviously there are
a host of issues that this President believes merit the
attention of the American people and of Washington when
it comes to our veterans, and in particular,
our disabled veterans. So he looks forward
to that event as well. The Press:
So this is not
branded as part of the middle-class
jobs economic tour? Mr. Carney:
This is not — no,
neither of those events are one of the cornerstones
that we talked about when it came to
this series of speeches, building on the original
speech in Galesburg. Jackie. The Press:
Jay, from the start, the President is trying
to get away from talking about a global war on terror, as the previous
administration did. And yet, if the war on al Qaeda,
as he’s preferred to style it, is, in effect, a war against
these affiliates as well, wherever they show up,
isn’t that, in effect, a global war on terror? Mr. Carney:
Well, setting aside
the nomenclature, I think that the fact is we have a continuing
threat from al Qaeda, and in particular some
of its affiliate organizations that have sprung up
in the last decade. And we respond to those threats
because they represent a real security challenge
for the United States, for our allies and
for our people. But what the President has been
focused on from the beginning, when he came in, was making sure
that we were using our resources to counter the threat
against the United States. That’s why he refocused our
attention on al Qaeda in the AfPak region and
on the effort in Afghanistan, because that war was
launched, justifiably, in response to the attacks
on the United States on September 11, 2001. He ended the war in Iraq,
as he promised he would do, and one of the reasons that that
was necessary was to ensure that we could continue to
focus, as we should, on the threat posed to the
United States by al Qaeda and by its affiliates. It is obviously a well-known
fact that the President believed as a candidate in 2008 that
through the previous years we had, as a nation
and in our efforts, lost our focus
on the specific threat against the United States, and that the effort in Iraq
had contributed to that. So the President made
sure that we would focus again on al Qaeda
in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as al Qaeda’s
affiliates around the world. Last one. Cheryl. The Press:
Thanks, Jay. On a question about health
care, a couple months until the exchanges in marketplaces
have to go into effect. Is the President personally
meeting with Secretary Sebelius and other Cabinet secretaries
about implementing health care at this point? Mr. Carney:
Well, the implementation
of the Affordable Care Act is very much a high
priority of the President’s, and he is engaged in discussions
about progress being made on implementation,
as you would expect, and certainly the rest
of the administration is. I don’t have specific
meetings to read out to you, but this is an
important priority. We need to ensure that
implementation continues. As I’ve said all
along from the podium, as others have engaged
in repeated attempts — futile attempts to repeal
the Affordable Care Act — I think the House
has just had its 40th vote along those lines — the administration is focused
on implementing a law that was passed by Congress, signed
into law by the President, and upheld by the Supreme
Court of the United States, a law that is already
providing benefits to millions of Americans, to young people on their
parents’ insurance policies, to seniors benefiting from
discounted prescription drugs, to everyone who will
benefit from the inability of insurance companies
to deny coverage to those with
preexisting conditions. And we’ll go about the business
of implementing the law so that those benefits are more widely
shared by the American people. And it would be wonderful
if Congress would focus on assisting in that
implementation, because everyone’s constituents,
no matter what state you’re from or what district you represent,
stands to benefit from the greater access to insurance that
the Affordable Care Act provides — the benefits
that the Affordable Care Act when it’s implemented fully
will provide to Americans across the country. And when a citizen
of district Y in state X wants to know how
he or she can benefit from the Affordable Care Act, I would hope that members of
Congress and their staff in those districts would provide
the information to their constituents that their
constituents deserve by law. Thank you very much. The Press:
Do you have any comment
on the baseball suspensions? Mr. Carney:
No, I don’t have anything. The Press:
Jay, happy birthday to the
President and my best wishes. Mr. Carney:
I will tell him.

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