Madam Secretary, thanks for having me. I'm here to let the good folks know here how strongly I support the national security language initiative. I've had a little problem with the language in the past, so -- (laughter.) If you've got room in the initiative for me, let me know. (Laughter.) Condi said, come on by, we've got a bunch of university presidents here. And I said, great, just so long as we don't have to compare transcripts. (Laughter.) She's the Ph.D., I'm the President. (Laughter and applause.)
She's a heck of a Secretary of State, though. And Don Rumsfeld is a heck of a Secretary of the Defense, and I want to thank you both for joining together on this initiative. It's interesting, isn't it, that the State Department and the Defense Department are sponsoring a language initiative. It says something about the world we live in. I felt certain that the Secretary of Education would be here. After all, we're talking about education. And I want to thank you for being here, Margaret. But I also find it's interesting you're sitting next to John Negroponte, who is the Director of National Intelligence...
...And so the fundamental question is, how do we win? What do we do? Well, in the short-term, our strategy is to find them and bring them to justice before they hurt us. In other words, we've got to stay on the offense. We've got to be unyielding and never give them a, you know, a breath of fresh air, never give them a hope that they can succeed. It's the only way to do it. We must defeat them in foreign battlefields so they don't strike us here at home.
And that's one of the reasons why the Secretary of Defense is here. He wants his young soldiers who are the front lines of finding these killers to be able to speak their language and be able to listen to the people in the communities in which they live. That makes sense, doesn't it, to have a language-proficient military -- to have people that go into the far reaches of this world and be able to communicate in the villages and towns and rural areas and urban centers, to protect the American people.
Anyone have flashbacks to the "you're doing a heckuva job Brownie" mantra for the FEMA nightmare spawned by Katrina?
Instead, we get to witness more fireworks ignighted by Helen Thomas. With no fear or remores, she asks some more great questions that Scotty McMessage McClellan can't aswer. And, he is trying to speak for the Iraqi people as well as the American people. How much you want to bet there are a fair number of Iraqis that would rather have endured more years of Saddam than get their relatives bombed to shit by American weapons of mass destruction?
Have a gander:
Q Does the President think that 120 people dying in Iraq, after we're nearly three years into this war, is tolerable?
MR. McCLELLAN: The Iraqi people, Helen, have shown time and time again that they want to live in freedom. I think it's important to look at what took place in December. There are terrorists and Saddam loyalists --
Q Why are we there? Why are we killing people there?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- there are terrorists and Saddam loyalists -- because we're transforming the Middle East, and that will help us lay the foundations of peace for generations to come.
Q -- didn't ask you to do that, their country.
MR. McCLELLAN: We were attacked on September 11th and --
Q We were not attacked by Iraqis.
MR. McCLELLAN: I don't think we ever said we were. But what we learned on that day was that this is not a law enforcement war we're engaged in. This is a war about the safety and security of the American people. It's not a law enforcement matter. It's a war. We are a nation at war. And this is a comprehensive effort that we're taking. We're not ignoring threats. We are confronting threats before it's too late. And that's what this President will --
Q You had none from Iraq.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- that's what this President will continue to do because he knows his most important responsibility is protecting the American people. And spreading democracy in the broader Middle East is vital to our own nation's --
Q Don't do it by attacking an innocent country.
MR. McCLELLAN: -- vital to our own nation's security. And the Iraqi people have shown they are deeply appreciative of the efforts that we have undertaken to remove a regime that was a threat and a destabilizing force in a dangerous region of the world. And we are going to change a troubled region for the better, and it will help lay the foundations of peace for generations to come.