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Press Gaggle by Tony Snow

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 5, 2006

Aboard Air Force One
En route Grand Island, Nebraska

2:24 P.M. CST

MR. SNOW: I don't have anything to announce. Tell me what you want to know.

Q Well, we've got your position on the verdict, itself -- what is the U.S. position of the death sentence for Saddam Hussein?

MR. SNOW: There's no position. The Iraqi court has pronounced sentence in conformity with the Iraqi law, as you would expect it to do.

Q Will it have any impact in the political debate in the United States, leading up to the election?

MR. SNOW: Don't know. The question gets asked a lot. I think what you have seen in recent weeks is the emergence of Iraqi capabilities in a number of areas that are going to be essential for an Iraq that can sustain, govern and defend itself. You've seen security forces standing up in a number of places. They're obviously in full control of two provinces and increasingly asserting command elsewhere. You have increased police capability -- although, we have a long way to go -- police yesterday hitting an al Qaeda cell in southern Baghdad, killing 53 and apprehending another 13. You have reconciliation efforts continuing. And, obviously, when you're trying to develop a democratic system, you need to have a rule of law that protects people's rights and functions in an orderly and fair manner.

Q Will the President mention the Saddam verdict?

MR. SNOW: In the speech? Yes, there will be a little bit of language on it.

Q Do you think his death really matters, in a country so mired in turmoil?

MR. SNOW: What do you mean, does his death really matter?

Q You know, the death penalty. I mean, wouldn't a guilty verdict have been enough? Does he have to be put to death? And does it really matter in a country like Iraq?

MR. SNOW: Well, I'm not going to second-guess the people of Iraq. You might want to keep in mind that this is a guy who's on trial right now for killing, in a separate incident, 180,000 people, and killed hundreds of thousands of his own citizens. And there are people who will forever bear the scars, real and psychological, for the way he brutalized the country over a long period of time.

I think we owe them our respect for having conducted a trial of this sort in an orderly manner, while there were threats of violence throughout on both sides. And the judges are going to be releasing all of the evidence and all the deliberations that led them to this verdict, so that their own process will be completely transparent. I think we ought to respect that.

Q Some political analysts are saying that the reason why the President has to go to Kansas and Nebraska -- really, really Republican states -- is because they're on the defensive so badly. Is that one of the reasons why they're going?

MR. SNOW: He's going in to help candidates. I mean, I --

Q These states are, like, really red.

MR. SNOW: Yes, but on the other hand you've got -- for instance, you've got an open seat in Nebraska, and in Kansas you've got a close race. I don't see -- you can put whatever spin you want to on it; the President is helping candidates and it has certainly made a difference elsewhere and we expect it to here.

Q How can you brief while the Redskins just scored again and we missed it? In overtime. (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: You didn't miss it and it's not overtime, it's just the beginning of the fourth quarter. (Laughter.)

Q Did he speak to the Prime Minister or anybody today?

MR. SNOW: No. No, there have been no foreign leader calls.

Q Anything on the anniversary celebration this morning?

MR. SNOW: Just that they had it, but we're not going to give you any further details.

Q This morning?

MR. SNOW: Well, it is their anniversary.

Q They already had it?

MR. SNOW: They've celebrated it.

Q In the morning --

MR. SNOW: Well, the President didn't leave until after noon.

Q Brunch?

MR. SNOW: Brunch, yes --

Q Thank you.

MR. SNOW: You're welcome. Before I get myself in trouble. (Laughter.)

END 2:28 P.M. CST


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