Press Briefing by White House Press Secretary Tony Snow

WASHINGTON, Sept. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of a White House press briefing conducted by Tony Snow: The White House James S. Brady Briefing Room 12:32 P.M. EDT MR. SNOW: Good afternoon all...

Let me just add one thing. I don't think it can have been good for Democrats yesterday to have had the ad or to have had the Code Pink demonstrators, or to have had some members of Congress trying preemptively to smear General Petraeus. But having said that, I just -- I don't know what the public reaction is. I think a lot of people in the American public are curious about what General Petraeus has to say. Again, we'll refer back to polling; everybody talks about polls. They want to hear what the generals have to say. They want to hear what guys with dust on their boots have to say. And I'm sure that there will be some pretty extensive polling on it later.

I'm sorry --

Q When the President meets the deadline for reporting by September 15th , he will do it with a written report and an address to the nation? Is that correct? And is the meeting this afternoon with the leaders of Congress to share his thoughts with them or to once again get their thoughts?

MR. SNOW: No, what the President will be doing is soliciting thoughts from members of Congress. Again, we will announce to you the process and the schedules for things when we're ready to do so. I'm just not ready to do so yet.

Q Is there some reason this is such a mystery?

Q Yes. (Laughter.)

Q Tony, two questions. One, today, of course, is 9/11, Tuesday the same day and date six years ago. Although we have not had any major attacks after 9/11 in the U.S., but still Americans are living under fear. Why still we have to live under fear when there is no major attack --

MR. SNOW: I think Americans, for the most part, have responded to terror in the right way, which is going about their normal lives. Are Americans paralyzed by fear? I don't think so. Do they have concern about terror? Of course. So I think fear is probably too strong a word to use.

This is a factor that this President is going to deal with and the next President is going to deal with, and perhaps Presidents after that are going to have to deal with. You have a -- you've got an ideological struggle between people who believe in going after democracies like ours, but also going after democracies in Lebanon , going after democracies in Iraq , going after democracies in Afghanistan -- in other words, trying to make examples of those -- even in the Palestinian areas -- trying to do what they can to fight against simply human liberty.

Now I've totally lost my thread on the cut camera.

Q If I may, second.

MR. SNOW: Very quickly.

Q Quickly, yes, sir, thank you. As far as yesterday's hearing was concerned, everybody, including the speakers agreed on one thing, that foreign fighters are from Saudi Arabia , and they are the one who also were on 9/11. So where do we stand as far as dealing with Saudi Arabia and --

MR. SNOW: We make clear -- if you're asking me to sort of let you in behind the scenes, forget about it, I'm not going to go do it. But the fact is, we've made it clear to everybody in the region our concerns about terror and terrorists who have tried to make their way into Iraq . We've also made it clear with the Syrians, for instance, the transit through Syria into Iraq is a concern.

The other thing is that I think you find that countries in the neighborhood, including the Saudis, are very aware of the threat of terror. They're also very aware of something Helen was talking about before, which is the menace posed by Iran . And they understand that they've got to be part of the solution to terror.


Q Tony, following on the polling. Having no idea what the American people are making of what's going on the Hill, does it matter to the President in terms of charting -- either Thursday night or beyond that, charting his strategy in the next couple of months?

MR. SNOW: As I've always told you, it's important to have public support, but on the other hand, the President has a practical responsibility to figure out what's going to work, and what's going to make Americans safe and safer in the future. And those are the things that are going to dominate his thinking.

What is constructive is to hear people talking about successes in Iraq , and to hear people talking about their own interactions with leaders in Iraq and in the region, because the American people haven't heard a lot of this stuff. And so for them, maybe it is news, and it is important to have an informed a debate as we go forward. But, Jim, the President's view has always been that as Commander-in-Chief it is his solemn obligation to do whatever is necessary to make Americans safe. And if that makes him unpopular -- if some of the steps he takes make him unpopular, he will accept that hit, because he knows ultimately that nobody will forgive, and nobody should forgive, a President who didn't do what was necessary simply to get a point or two in the polls.