Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 2/25/2011
**Note addition to the transcript below.
2:33 P.M. EST
MR. CARNEY: Good afternoon, everybody. Scott, is this your first appearance? Okay. First of all, I want to apologize. I know it’s a late briefing and a delayed briefing, even after announced, but there are a couple of reasons for that. It’s obviously been a busy day -- a lot going on in the Middle East and a lot going on at the White House, and I wanted to hold the briefing so that I could gather as much information as I could and be in a situation -- rather, a position to give you as much information as I could at this briefing, which I am now in.
And so I have a few things I want to tell you about Libya before I take your questions. The State Department has suspended embassy operations in Libya and will temporarily withdraw all embassy employees from Tripoli. A ferry with approximately 200 U.S. citizens left this morning. A charter plane recently took off for Istanbul, Turkey, with remaining embassy personnel and American citizens who had requested evacuation. Further to what I started with, that obviously was very recent and one of the reasons why I wanted to delay the briefing was to make sure that plane had taken off.
Consistent with the President’s tasking to the government to prepare options to hold the Libyan government accountable for its violation of human rights, we have decided to move forward with unilateral sanctions, which we are in the process of finalizing; coordinated sanctions with our European allies; and multilateral efforts to hold the Libyan government accountable through the United Nations.
The President spoke today with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey to coordinate our efforts to respond to developments in Libya and to ensure appropriate accountability. In his call with President Erdogan [sic], and his separate calls with President Sarkozy of France, President -- Prime Minister, rather, Cameron of the United Kingdom, and Prime Minister Berlusconi of Italy yesterday, the President explained the unilateral measures that the United States is implementing, and noted his desire to coordinate on measures that our allies are considering. He will continue these consultations to build international consensus for strong measures in the days to come.
Earlier today the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issued an advisory to U.S. financial institutions to take reasonable risk-based steps with respect to the potential increased movement of assets that may be related to the situation in Libya.
During this period of uncertainty, FinCEN is reminding U.S. financial institutions of their requirement to apply enhanced scrutiny for private banking accounts held by or on behalf of senior foreign political figures, and to monitor transactions that could potentially represent misappropriated or diverted state assets, proceeds of bribery or other illegal payments, or other public corruption proceeds.
Additionally the United States has suspended the very limited military cooperation it had with Libya. The U.S. military began to cautiously re-engage with Libya, as you know, in 2009 following Libya’s decision to halt its weapons of mass destruction programs and compensate victims of terrorism.
Prior to the recent unrest and sales -- prior to the recent unrest, sales of spare military parts were pending. They have been frozen. Bilateral military events that were in the planning phases have also been frozen.
The United Nations Human Rights Council held an emergency session today in Geneva where it adopted by consensus a resolution that condemned the gross and systematic human rights abuses now being committed by the government of Libya; established an international commission of inquiry to investigate these abuses; and recommended accountable -- accountability measures for those responsible; and also recommended that the U.N. General Assembly suspend Libya’s membership on the Council. The United States strongly supports these efforts, and is already closely working with our international partners to carry out this suspension, which will be acted on by the General Assembly early next week.
In addition, as the President announced earlier this week, Secretary Clinton will travel to Geneva on Monday to speak at the Human Rights Council and to discuss with her international counterparts further measures on Libya, as well as events in the broader Middle East.
On Monday, the President will meet with U.N. Security -- U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Washington and will discuss the diplomatic, legal and other actions needed to put a stop to violence against civilians in Libya. He will also discuss the range of activities that U.N. agencies and the international community can undertake to address the significant humanitarian needs created by this crisis.
The United States is involved in ongoing negotiations today at the UNSC -- the U.N. Security Council -- on a resolution that could include a weapons embargo, individual sanctions against key Libyan officials, and an asset freeze.
Finally, the United States is utilizing the full extent of its intelligence capabilities to monitor the Qaddafi regime’s actions, and we are particularly vigilant for evidence of further violence or atrocities committed against the Libyan people.
With that, I’d like to take your questions. Ben.
Q Thanks, Jay. Obviously a lot there. Let me go back to the -- what you said at the top about unilateral and multilateral sanctions. Could you just describe them a bit more? What are we talking about here when you -- when you mean sanctions?
MR. CARNEY: Ben, we’re finalizing the sanctions that we will pursue. Rather than enumerate them, I can tell you that they will be finalized soon and you will know specifically what we’re going to do. I think the universe effect of sanctions is pretty well known, the kinds of things that we’re considering. So a lot of that has been discussed. But I don’t want to specify which ones now because we’re still just finalizing those and we’ll get them to you soon.
Q Finalizing today or in the coming days?
MR. CARNEY: In the near future.
Q Can you explain what gives the United States confidence that sanctions work against someone like Qaddafi and his regime?
MR. CARNEY: We are initiating a series of steps at the unilateral level and the multilateral level to pressure the regime in Libya to stop killing its own people. This is a first step, and obviously we continue to review our options going forward, and the steps that we take in the near future are not the only steps we’re prepared to take if other steps are necessary.
Q Qaddafi today -- or in the last few hours was calling on his followers to continue fighting protesters. The militias that were loyal to him were still gunning down protesters. So I guess I’m wondering as these things unfold, how is it that sanctions as you see it directly can affect that kind of inciting of his people to continue to kill?
MR. CARNEY: Sanctions -- targeted sanctions that affect the senior political leadership of a regime like Libya have been shown to have an effect. We are also, as I mentioned, pursuing actions that will ensure that the perpetrators of violations of human rights are held accountable. And there is certainly a history of those kinds of perpetrators being held accountable in the international community. And, again, we will take these substantial actions and leave other potential actions on the table and evaluate as we go.
Q Jay, at the top you mentioned the U.S. embassy in Tripoli has been withdrawn. Is that right? Have you evacuated?
MR. CARNEY: It has been shuttered.
Q Okay. The pair of sanctions to stop violence immediately is pretty weak. What other steps, more forceful steps, could you take? How quickly could they come? Would more steps have to wait until Secretary Clinton goes to Geneva on Monday, for instance?
MR. CARNEY: Well, let me just say that there has never been a time when this much has been done this quickly. The United States has acted in concert with our international partners and with great deliberation and haste. I know that in the past few days it’s sometimes been frustrating when you’ve been able to question American officials about what we’re doing, and maybe haven’t gotten all the answers you want. I discussed this with the President just a few hours ago, or an hour ago.
The purpose -- the focus that he has is on our obligation to the security of American citizens and also getting the policy right. And I can assure you that has been the guide -- those have been the guiding principles as we’ve proceeded over the course of the last week.
Q Just to follow, there’s been reports that opponents of Qaddafi are taking control of some parts of Tripoli. What is your sense of events there today? And do you believe that Qaddafi is still in control of the capital?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I don’t want to be in a position of giving a play-by-play commentary on very dramatic events happening quite a long way away that we’re all watching on television. What I can say is that it’s clear that Colonel Qaddafi has lost the confidence of his people. He is overseeing the brutal treatment of his people; the fatal violence against his own people; and his legitimacy has been reduced to zero in the eyes of his people. So that’s what I’ll say about him.
Q Just one more thing. Does the President agree with French President Sarkozy that Qaddafi must leave?
MR. CARNEY: We have always said that that is a matter for the people of Libya to decide. But I would repeat what I just said. And because it is a matter for the people of Libya to decide, I think it is also clear that the people of Libya have expressed that his continued use of deadly violence, his clear violations of human rights, are totally unacceptable anywhere in the world. And the status quo is simply neither tenable nor acceptable. The Libyan people deserve a government now that protects the safety of its citizens, is responsive to their aspirations, and is broadly representative.
Q Colonel Qaddafi does not seem all that tethered to reality, right now in particular. He’s been accusing -- and experts on Qaddafi say he actually believes that the protesters in the street are -- have been fed hallucinogens. How does the United States deal with a government -- this isn’t your typical dictator losing power. This is a man who by many accounts seems to be legitimately unstable and perhaps willing to burn the house down with him. How does that affect the policies that you go forward with?
MR. CARNEY: Well, Jake, we make our policy decisions based on some key principles, as you know, that I’ve enunciated, the President has enunciated, and others. And we evaluate the circumstances -- in this case, Libya. It’s not about personalities. It is about the expression of -- the peaceful expression of the dissatisfaction of the people of Libya with their leadership, and we support them in their aspirations.
But the actions we are taking I think in many ways answer your question. We are acting unilaterally and multilaterally in a way that we believe needs to be done to put pressure on the regime to cease this horrendous activity.
Q I understand that the decisions about the Libyan future and the Libyan government should be made by the Libyan people, but what’s the endgame here? How do you see this ending in the best-case scenario?
MR. CARNEY: The best-case scenario for any state in the region or the world is a government that is -- that treats its people well, that is responsive to the aspirations of its people, that includes its people in the political process in a democratic way, and that is a peaceful, responsible neighbor in its region of the world and in the international community. I mean that's --
Q Okay, but how about on -- how about in this actual situation?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I’m not going to plan out or predict for you the day-by-day progression towards that goal, which is -- which I believe is the goal that the Libyan people hold, as do we. This is obviously still a very, very fluid and dangerous situation in Libya, and a very fluid situation in the region. But the goal is very clear.
Q Last question. You mentioned that American intelligence was going to be working on this. Could you elaborate at all on that?
MR. CARNEY: No, I can’t elaborate, but what I can say is that the United States is committed to utilizing the full extent of its capabilities to monitor the Qaddafi regime’s behavior, to ensure that evidence is gathered of further violence or atrocities against -- committed against the Libyan people.
Q I know that the administration, the President in particular, has been hesitant to mention Qaddafi’s name. There was a lot of concern about Americans still on the ground potentially being held hostage. So now that it appears that most of the Americans who wanted to get out have gotten out, can we expect stronger language now from the President, perhaps calling him out by name?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I don’t want to put words in the President’s mouth for the next time he speaks, but I think you’ve heard me use some pretty strong language against Colonel Qaddafi and --
Q But we haven’t heard that from the President himself.
MR. CARNEY: Dan, I think I expressed when I came out here that there has been a clear reason for the way we have handled ourselves this week. The airplane that carried American citizens, the remaining American citizens that we wanted to get evacuated from Libya, was wheels up less than an hour ago.
So I would just say that your analysis of the situation is fairly accurate, and it’s been all of a half an hour or so since those American citizens were in flight towards Istanbul.
Q So much has been asked already about this leader who really is unpredictable in terms of what he’s going to do. Is there really a sense of uncertainty -- you can do all that you have just talked about in sanctions, freezing assets and so forth, but again, this isn’t Egypt, this isn’t any other dictator that the U.S. has been dealing with. Is it really just a crapshoot here?
MR. CARNEY: I’ve said and others have said that each country is different. Each situation that we have encountered in the region in the past number of weeks has been different. And Libya is fairly distinct in a number of ways.
What we can do, guided by the principles we’ve discussed, is pursue a policy that protects American citizens, reflects our fundamental belief that the people of Libya deserve a government that treats them well, doesn’t kill them indiscriminately, that is responsive to their needs and reflects their aspirations, and allows them to participate in a democratic process.
We can also take actions that -- some of which I’ve discussed from here and specifics -- some of the specifics of which you will hear later that we believe can put more pressure on the Libyan regime, can hold it accountable, can isolate it in order to get it to change its behavior.
Q Jay, do we expect to hear from the President on this at some point?
MR. CARNEY: I don't have any announcements about the next time the President will address this.
Q What exactly is he doing? Is he making -- is he going to be making more calls? What is his role in the coming days as this -- it’s all implemented?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think I read out to you the series of calls to foreign leaders specifically on this issue that he has made. I’m sure there will be more going forward. He’s obviously constantly being briefed by his national security team; Tom Donilon, the National Security Advisor. There was a principals committee meeting that lasted two hours or so in the Situation Room earlier today that ended not that long ago -- again, one of the reasons why I wanted to wait for that to end before I came out here. So his participation is robust.
Q Sanctions take a while not only to feel the effect but also to take effect. What is the timeline here for these sanctions to actually go into effect and then for them actually to be felt?
MR. CARNEY: The mechanics of the sanctions, which actually haven’t been finalized, I'll leave to others to describe once the -- they’ve been finalized. But understand that as we reviewed the options available to us, we had a great interest in pursuing those that could be implemented quickly. And again, without putting specific timelines on implementation, some of the things that we’re considering doing are the things that we can move most quickly on.
Q When you say quickly, and I know you can’t put a specific timeline, but are we talking days or are we talking weeks?
MR. CARNEY: Again, it’s a -- there are a range of things that we’re able to do; the specifics you’ll be hearing about in the near future. And the different -- there are timelines about -- in terms of how things are implemented that I can’t characterize.
Q Okay. I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but when you say “near future” do you mean next week sometime?
MR. CARNEY: Sooner than that, Chip.
Q Okay. Over the weekend, perhaps?
MR. CARNEY: I’m not going to get more specific. (Laughter.)
Q Can I ask you one last question?
MR. CARNEY: Sure.
Q -- wear him down. (Laughter.)
Q How about before Friday at 8:30 p.m.? (Laughter.)
Q When you were -- when there were discussions going on back there about being careful to say things while there were still Americans who wanted to get out on the ground, were there discussions of fears of what happened 30 years ago -- I think it was 30 years ago -- in Iran? Were there specific discussions about the Iranian hostage crisis in saying that’s exactly what we want to avoid?
MR. CARNEY: Not that I’m aware of at all, Chip. There weren’t historical references that I’m aware of. I just -- I want to be clear about this, that the President, in order to focus on his priorities of getting the policy right, protecting American citizens -- the obligation that we all have here and that he has ahead of all of us -- we’re certainly willing to take a few days of consternation in the press in order to get it right. And I’m not saying that -- I mean, this is still a fluid situation. Obviously the situation in Libya remains dangerous and unresolved, as it does in -- I mean, the situation in the whole region remains unresolved in different ways.
But all I would say is I would encourage everyone to remember as these events unfold and we deal with them, that the goals we have are peaceful reactions to peaceful demonstrations; respect for the universal rights of the peoples of these countries where there are demonstrations, and their aspirations; and reform -- responsiveness from the governments that will lead to greater stability and greater prosperity, we believe.
And that is, in the end, very good for the people in the region, for the peoples of these countries, and very good for the United States of America. And that's what we’re focused on. That's what the President is focused on.
Q Does the U.S. have any contact with members of the Libyan opposition?
MR. CARNEY: I’m not aware of the discussions that we may be having with different folks in Libya.
Q Earlier this week, P.J. Crowley at State said that we had tried for a couple of days to get the ferry into port before the weather had stuck it there for a while, and it was unclear whether we’d been unable to get it in because of chaos or whether the Libyan government actually opposed -- frustrated our attempts to get it in. Have we determined yet what the hold-up was?
MR. CARNEY: Wendell, on the operation that was designed to evacuate American citizens and embassy personnel, I would refer you to the State Department. I can say that the very important thing is that that ferry did depart, and as did the airplane that left a little later, not long ago.
Q The reason I asked is because other countries were able to get -- to evacuate citizens earlier, and I wondered whether the Libyans actually frustrated our attempts.
MR. CARNEY: I would refer you to the State Department on that operation.
Q On another matter, will the President, in light of his 2007 comments, walk a picket line in Wisconsin?
MR. CARNEY: What I said, Wendell, yesterday I think holds true today, which is the President has a variety of ways to communicate his views on various matters, including the rights of America’s working men and women. And I would just say that whatever shoes he’s wearing, he is always standing with America’s working men and women and America’s middle class.
Q On union rights, do public sector unions and private sector unions have different rights and responsibilities?
MR. CARNEY: I’m not sure what you’re asking exactly.
Q I’m asking if -- because private sector unions ultimately are competing with, if you will -- not competing but negotiating with board members, and because public sector unions are ultimately negotiating with taxpayers, do they have different responsibilities and rights?
MR. CARNEY: What we have said and what the President has said is that with regard to what’s happening in the states now, as the states address their fiscal situations, everybody needs to tighten their belts, everybody needs to sacrifice and work together to bring state budgets into balance, to bring stability to the fiscal situations in the states, much as we need to work together at the federal level. And that’s our position.
Q Jay, first, anything that Congress has to pass on these sanctions? Have you guys figured that out yet? Do you need congressional --
MR. CARNEY: Not that I’m aware of.
Q All this can be done with executive orders?
MR. CARNEY: I believe that’s true, but if it’s not we will get back to you. [**FOLLOW-UP: The sanctions that President Obama will impose against Libya do not require Congressional approval.]
Q Have you done any consulting with Capitol Hill yet or not yet?
MR. CARNEY: I have to take that.
Q Second, given that the issue of American citizens being in Libya sort of tied the hands of what you could say today versus what you said yesterday and all of these things, have you learned some lessons from this? Are you dealing differently in places like Bahrain, in Yemen, in Jordan? Are any warnings to be given -- here’s Libya, in the middle of Egypt and Tunisia, and we waited until I believe February 20th is the first time even a suggestion was made for American citizens to start thinking about getting out.
MR. CARNEY: Well, Chuck, what I would say, again, is that every country is different, as I’ve said before. And the situations that we’ve seen in the countries where there has been unrest have been different. And we are always evaluating the actions we take and, if you will, doing after-action analyses of the actions we take. But this is obviously ongoing.
What I would say is that one of the lessons we have taken from this is that we need to focus on our core priorities, not on the understandable desire at different points along the way to express how we feel in a way that could sometimes be counterproductive to our long-term goals of the policies that we need to pursue, or to the safety of American citizens.
Q Is there a review going on right now?
MR. CARNEY: Not that I’m aware of, Chuck. This is --
Q No, I understand that --
MR. CARNEY: There's a great to deal --
Q -- but given what happened in Libya --
MR. CARNEY: Sure.
Q -- and the situation where basically you guys couldn’t announce these things today until you knew that airplane was wheels up. Is that why this --
MR. CARNEY: But, Chuck --
Q -- that's why you waited --
MR. CARNEY: Let me point -- well, again, I’m not -- there are a variety of reasons why things have unfolded the way they have. I would also remind you of what I said before, that this has been a very rapid effort to work with our international partners, to analyze and select the options that we want to take. And I know we live in a world where a great deal is happening all at once and where much of it is being witnessed live on television, and that that creates an understandable demand for urgency.
But I can say, again, if you look at the history of how these things are handled, there has been great haste in moving to the point where we are today.
Q Going to this intelligence, the intelligence assets that you were saying, and I know -- this is beyond CIA, so it’s every part of the American intelligence community, whether it’s the Defense, parts of the Air Force intelligence, Army intelligence, Defense Department -- I mean, not just -- I mean, can you at least elaborate on what parts of the intelligence community?
MR. CARNEY: The full extent.
Q The full extent.
MR. CARNEY: The full extent.
Q And is it just observational?
MR. CARNEY: That's all I’m going to say about it. The point is, is that we intend to participate with our international partners in an effort to hold accountable those who have committed atrocities and human rights abuses.
Helene, how are you?
Q I’m good. How are you, Jay? Since sanctions by their very nature take so long to go into effect, whether they’re multilateral or bilateral, what sort of steps are you taking that are immediate right now beyond shuttering the embassy that could influence Colonel Qaddafi? Are there messages that we’re relaying to him? Are there --
MR. CARNEY: Well, again, I think without getting ahead of the specific -- the announcement of the specific sanctions, the things that we are pursuing, timelines are different depending on the action that's being taken.
In terms of communicating to the regime, I think that the expression of what we are doing, both as one country and collectively with our international partners, is very clear and loud. We are talking about the isolation of this regime and the -- and isolating of this regime and the taking of measures that put, we hope, the kind of pressure on it that needs to be put on it in order to get it to stop behaving the way it’s been behaving, which has de-legitimized it in the eyes of the Libyan people and the world. So I think -- that message is, I think, being delivered and heard.
Q To follow, so is the intention of the sanctions to punish this government for what it’s already done, or to help push it from power?
MR. CARNEY: The intent of the sanctions -- actually, the answer is neither. The intent of the sanctions is to make it clear that the regime has to stop its abuses. It has to stop the bloodshed. The determination about who should govern Libya has to be made and will be made by the Libyan people. As I have made clear from here, it is clear to us and we believe to the Libyan people and to the world at large, that the Qaddafi regime and Colonel Qaddafi himself has lost the confidence of his people, and it is for them to decide who should leave.
Q I’m sorry, just quickly. It sounds like they have decided, right? I mean, in your eyes said that -- legitimacy of Qaddafi’s government is zero, in their eyes. Given that they’re facing a well-armed government with little conscience, isn’t there more that the United States can do to support those aspirations? They want the government to change.
MR. CARNEY: Again, Scott, I think I’ve made clear that the options -- the actions we will be taking, we have taken already, and we will take in the near future are not the endpoint for us. We will be constantly reviewing the options that we have, that are available to us, and certainly leave open the possibility of taking further action as necessary.
Q Jay, I was wondering, just to clarify, do we know that all Americans are now out with that last chartered flight? Are there any of them left that you know of?
MR. CARNEY: I would refer you to the State Department on that. I don’t want to state with any sort of certitude something I don’t have a specific answer for. I know that we spent a great deal of time ensuring that American personnel and Americans who wanted to be evacuated were evacuated.
Q And you mentioned the Situation Room meeting a few hours ago with principals and such. Is there any contemplation of a military, U.S. military role, at some point?
MR. CARNEY: I think I would just refer you to what I’ve said, which is we are not -- the action we are taking, which I elaborated on in my reading time at the beginning of this briefing, are pretty detailed and those are the things we’re going to be doing in the near term, but we are not removing options off the table at this point.
Q Thank you. Has there been an evolution in this administration’s foreign policy posture over the last few years from one of valuing stability in the Middle East, maybe moving in a more pro-democratic direction, favoring aspirations -- meeting aspirations and human rights? When we look at what the President said at the U.N. General Assembly last fall and what Secretary of State Clinton said at Doha talking about regimes falling into the sand, slipping into the sand -- has there been sort of a pro-democratic tilt or shift in the President’s policy since he took office?
MR. CARNEY: Peter, I would point you to the speech the President made in Cairo, which spoke very clearly about his view on the universal rights of the people of the world, including the peoples in that region, and the need for the countries in that region to listen to the aspirations of their people and to act accordingly in terms of bringing reforms about, precisely because stability is important -- not precisely because, but because the aspirations of the people need to be heard and listened to and respected. But these are not conflicting goals, in his view.
And so I think there’s been great consistency, in his view. One thing we’ve also made clear, that he has made clear, is that these movements that we’ve seen have been true grassroots movements where the voices of the people of these countries have been heard. And it’s important that that be seen to be the case for their success, because it’s important that the people of the countries own the process. And that is one of the goals we have as we negotiate, navigate our way through these very historic times that we’re in.
MR. CARNEY: Let me get somebody I haven’t -- yes.
MR. CARNEY: No, I’m sorry.
MR. CARNEY: Not you, sorry.
Q Thank you. Just going to follow up on Scott’s question. You talk about isolation. Why would the regime, who’s fighting a battle of survival, would care about any measures that you’re going to take, whether it’s going to take weeks or even days, because many people don't expect the Qaddafi regime to survive even by next week. So for him, any behavior is not going to -- any measure is not going to moderate his behavior because it’s a matter of life or death for him.
MR. CARNEY: Well, again, I’m not going to -- well, I’m not going to speak for what -- how the -- or predict how the regime will behave. I know that we are taking the kinds of actions that we can both unilaterally and with our international partners to influence his behavior -- the regime’s behavior, to isolate the regime, and to hold it accountable.
Q Thank you, Jay. We noticed there was a call to the Bahraini Crown Prince, and there was a statement, as well, applauding the Algerians who are lifting the emergency law. What is the President trying to say to these leaders? Is he trying to salvage their chances of staying in power, or tell them to get their act together because they’re going to be next?
MR. CARNEY: The President’s message in these conversations and the message that has been carried by other American officials in conversations, similar ones, has been the same, and it goes back to the principles we’ve enunciated, which is, reform is necessary. Responsiveness to the aspirations of the people is necessary. And so when steps are taken that are in that direction, we have acknowledged that as positive. But it is not in any case about picking leaders or deciding who should be in power. That is up to the people of the region and the countries.
Q And one more on Libya. You said you were gathering information and evidence about crimes against humanity in Libya. Would the United States support the British proposal asking the International Criminal Court of issuing an indictment against Libyan officials for crimes against humanity?
MR. CARNEY: I think what -- let me find it here, that I mentioned at the top. We obviously are interested in holding accountable the -- those who perpetrated human rights violations and atrocities in Libya. And we -- I’m sorry, I’m getting a little -- I want to make sure I have the right name for this process -- in any case -- getting lost in paper here. But the answer is, without getting into specifics about the procedures, the steps we are taking, the steps we support are clearly designed to work with the international community to make sure there is accountability.
Yes -- I’m sorry -- yes, you.
Q Oh, thank you, Jay. Mike.
MR. CARNEY: Mike, right.
Q So you’ve made it clear that you don't believe it’s appropriate for the U.S. government to dictate the outcome and to actually call for Muammar Qaddafi’s removal from office. But let’s say somehow he is able to hold on and the protests fade. Is he somebody the government could think about doing business with in the future? Would you be willing to normalize relationships? Would you be willing to staff that embassy again?
MR. CARNEY: Mike, I want to make sure you heard what I said. It is very clear that Colonel Qaddafi has lost the confidence of the Libyan people, and we have always said that it is up to the Libyan people to decide who their leader should be. His continued use of deadly violence against his own people in clear violations of human rights are totally unacceptable anywhere in the world. The status quo is neither tenable nor acceptable, and the Libyan people deserve a government now that protects their safety, is responsive to their aspirations, and is broadly representative.
Again, it’s not about personalities for us. It is about principles. And in the end, it is about respecting the desires and aspirations of the people of Libya and of the other countries that have been affected by this unrest.
Yes, I’m sorry -- with the glasses, sir.
Q Hi. Thank you, Jay. The President’s determination earlier in the week that sex orientation classifications lead to heightened scrutiny led him to determine that section three of DOMA was unconstitutional. In that letter that the attorney general sent to Speaker Boehner, he said that pursuant to the President’s instructions, this would be applied in other cases, which yesterday was applied to two cases in the Second Circuit. My question is, did the President give any instructions to the Justice Department regarding his view of the constitutionality of the status of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the appeal of which, in Log Cabin versus -- Log Cabin Republicans is due today?
MR. CARNEY: As you mentioned, the appeal is due today. I don’t have -- we don’t have -- we have to wait for that final brief.
Q But did the President give any instructions?
MR. CARNEY: Not that I’m aware of. As you know, we are very supportive of and glad that Congress repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell” and we are monitoring and glad that the process is proceeding smoothly and efficiently, the process of repeal. But on the brief and the President’s instructions, I don’t have anything for you.
Q But what you had said regarding the DOMA briefs was that the President -- that the deadline had forced the administration’s hand. Did the -- has the administration in any way reacted to today’s deadline?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think, as you’ve said, the Department of Justice is going to file a final brief. And we will see what that says. But we expect the brief to say the following: reiterate -- number one, reiterating that the courts should not decide the case or the constitutional question, due to the pending repeal, which should be effective in a matter of months. As I said, the repeal is proceeding smoothly and efficiently. Our goal was to have it repealed. It has been repealed. And that process of the repeal is now proceeding efficiently and smoothly, which is a good thing.
Q So the President has not said that he believes that --
MR. CARNEY: Again, I think I said --
Q -- “don’t ask, don’t tell” is unconstitutional?
MR. CARNEY: Not that I know of. No.
Q Yes. Victoria.
MR. CARNEY: Yes, Victoria.
Q Jay, there are now violent spreading demonstrations in Iraq. How is the U.S. government coordinating with the Iraqi government to respond to those demonstrations? And what is the level of concern that if these demonstrations are ongoing, that could affect U.S. troop levels?
MR. CARNEY: The approach we’ve taken with regard to Iraq is the same that we’ve taken with regard to the region, which is that the governments in the region need to be responsive to the -- and listen to the voices of their people and to respond to demonstrations in a peaceful manner. We remain very much on track as regards our policy of drawing down our forces. And certainly I see no reason with regard to your question for that policy to be in any way affected.
Q They’ll all be involved in any way in the response to the demonstrations in Iraq.
MR. CARNEY: In what way? I mean, we are -- we obviously have an embassy there that works with and consults with the government and we have military presence there that now serves in an assist posture, advise-and-assist posture, but nothing exceptional that I’m aware of.
Q Jay, it’s sort of two questions, but it’s the same question, really. Prior to the decision of this administration to propose sanctions, did the administration reach out to other governments in the region like Saudi Arabia or Jordan before that? And what reactions did they give you?
MR. CARNEY: I don’t have anything for you on conversations like that. I think we’ve read out the President’s calls. But -- yes.
Q A follow-up on my own question. Sorry. The President --
MR. CARNEY: Was that somebody else’s? (Laughter.)
Q The President spoke with allies -- obviously, the Prime Minister and -- Berlusconi, et cetera, Sarkozy. Was there any discussions of a unified multilateral approach to these emerging governments that are coming out almost week by week in terms of an overall --
MR. CARNEY: Emerging governments --
Q Well, Libya and Egypt and Bahrain. These -- there’s changes in terms of how they would approach these new entities, basically.
MR. CARNEY: Not that I know of in that regard. I mean, the discussion has been focused on --
Q Just Libya right now?
MR. CARNEY: Principally, yes. The phone calls that I have mentioned at the top have been focused on Libya.
Q Thank you. The British sent a warship, the HMS Cumberland, to help with the evacuation of British citizens from Libya. The United States has a Marine amphibious ship, the Kearsarge, in the Red Sea. Is there any thought right now of moving U.S. naval assets to the coast of Libya? And if not, why not show the flag in that way?
MR. CARNEY: I would refer you to the Defense Department for how we deploy our forces. And I think when you talked about -- when you talked the British ship, I believe you said to evacuate its people -- well, we have evacuated Americans. So I’m not sure what the question is getting at.
Q Well, the question is why has the United States not used military assets to show the flag and to show its possible support for the rebellion in Libya?
MR. CARNEY: Well, Jonathan, I would just point you to the steps we are taking and to the fact that we are not taking any options off the table in the future. And I’ll leave it at that.
Q Thanks, Jay.
Q And wait -- one more. The NAC -- did the United States call the NAC meeting, the North American Counsel meeting, today?
MR. CARNEY: I don't know. I’m sorry. Thanks, guys.
Q On the CR? There -- the CR is being written --
MR. CARNEY: I’ll take one question on it, yes.
Q Yes, you need to.
Q The CR is being written both by the Republicans in the House and the Democrats in the Senate, which would be two to four weeks, which include cuts that the President proposed for his FY2011 budget. Would he accept either of those CRs? They’d be short -- so it would be about $4 billion in cuts.
MR. CARNEY: We are glad that the leaders of Congress are working on this issue. We have said that the process is on Capitol Hill. The House has passed something. The Senate needs to pass something. We continue to believe that -- all of us agree that a government shutdown would be bad for the economy. It would create a great deal of uncertainty and potential instability and might have a negative impact on the economy, as well as specific impacts that wouldn’t be good. And we believe that a compromise can be reached. But I’m not going to speculate on a position -- what position we may or may not hold down the road.
Q Jay, Boehner’s office --
Q But the idea of a two to four week --
MR. CARNEY: I’m not going to -- Ann, again, I’m not going to comment on specific proposals that are ideas that are being thrown out there. We’ll let the --
Q But the concept for --
MR. CARNEY: I’m not going to comment on concepts, either. Thanks very much.
Q Week ahead?
MR. CARNEY: You brought me back. Should we -- do you want me to read the week ahead or should I --
Q Come back to the mic.
MR. CARNEY: I’m sorry, do you want me to read the week ahead? I can or we can just --
MR. CARNEY: -- just send it, we can e-mail it. But I am -- for the sake of everyone, we will do this quickly if I can find it.
Yes -- okay, the week ahead.
On Sunday the President and First Lady will welcome the National Governors Association to the White House for the 2011 Governors Dinner. The Vice President and Dr. Biden will also attend. The evening will feature performances by the Marine Corps Band and music legend Gladys Knight.
On Monday, the President and the Vice President --
Q No Pips?
Q Are the Pips going? (Laughter.)
MR. CARNEY: We’ll find out. I will ask about the Pips. (Laughter.)
On Monday, the President and the Vice President will host a meeting with a bipartisan group of governors at the White House. The First Lady and Dr. Biden will also speak at this meeting.
Later on Monday, the President will meet with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the White House and will discuss the humanitarian diplomatic legal and other actions needed to put a stop to violence against civilians and to ensure that U.N. agencies and U.N. members mobilize to provide humanitarian assistance to Libya’s people.
Q Do you have a list of governors that he’s meeting --
MR. CARNEY: This is the NGA.
Q Do we know which governors are participating in that meeting?
MR. CARNEY: I'll have to -- we’ll have to see if we can get that. I don't know that we have that.
On Tuesday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.
On Wednesday, the President will award the 2010 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities in a ceremony at the White House. The First Lady will also attend.
On Thursday the President will meet with his national security team for his monthly meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Later the President will welcome President Calderón of Mexico to the White House to discuss our important bilateral relationship and key global issues.
On Friday, the President will travel to Miami, Florida, to discuss his plan for winning the future. While in Miami the President will also attend a DSCC fundraiser.
And that is the week ahead. Thanks, guys.
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May 13, 2016
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