Today’s Qs for O’s WH

Feb 16, 2010 2:37pm

TAPPER:  Would you say that cooperation between U.S. intelligence and Pakistani intelligence has never been better?
  
GIBBS:  I think we have, over the course of many months, seen an increase in that cooperation, and I think we've seen — dating back, quite frankly, to last spring, we've seen an increase in Pakistani — I'm figuring out how to phrase — Pakistani push-back on extremists in their own country, which I think is beneficial not simply for us, but I think the Pakistanis realize that extremist — extremist threats within its own border, or just threats outside of its country but were threats to their own country.  And I think they have appropriately taken strong action.
  
TAPPER:  Do you think this is because of a realization, after the incident last year in Swat Valley that they were — that the Pakistani government was in fact being threatened? Or do you think it's also a reflection in any way of the new foreign policy of the Obama administration?
  
GIBBS:  Look, I think we have had, through engagement, an increased amount of — we've seen an increased amount of cooperation with them.  I think we're working constructively with them, meeting with them regularly.  We have a better intelligence-sharing capability. I don't think it's an either/or.  I think, in this case, as I said in my first answer, I think their realization of what was happening within their own country and the threat that it posed also played a big part in changing — changing their actions.
  
TAPPER:  Also, over the weekend, Senator Lindsey Graham suggested that John Brennan should step down because of comments Brennan made at NYU.  I was just wondering if you had any reaction? That's at least the second senator to call for Brennan to step down.
  
GIBBS:  Yes, I — I'll reiterate what I said last week.  I think nobody could hope for, in this administration or in the previous administration in which he served, to stand up the National Counterterrorism Center, somebody more dedicated and less partisan than John Brennan, in doing everything that he possibly can, at every hour of the day, to keep this country safe. I think we owe men and women like him that work to keep our country safe a thank you, rather than to have them used as political footballs.
  
TAPPER:  Does the president agree with what Mr. Brennan wrote in USA Today last week, that some of the more political charged criticism of the Obama administration's counterterrorism policies serve the goals of Al Qaida?

  
GIBBS:  Well, again, I — what John said was that terrorists seek to strike fear and use fear to divide.  I think what — what John pointed out was that these are not giant men.  These are not — these are not great people.  And I think — again, I think John's service, dating back more than two decades, is something to be commended.
  
TAPPER:  Does the president agree with the language Mr. Brennan used?
  
GIBBS:  I think the president believes that we should not — that our national security should not be a partisan political game that seeks to divide us; instead something that hopefully will unite us in efforts, whether it's in Afghanistan, in the efforts — the military efforts and civilian efforts that you see right now, or in activities that are taking place around the world to make this country safer.
  
TAPPER:  And if it doesn't, then it serves the goals of Al Qaida?

  
GIBBS:  Well, I — I — I — it — it seeks to divide and it makes — it makes us working together to fight a common enemy much more difficult.

-jpt

 

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