The Impact of Wikileaks and the Federal Pay Freeze: Today’s Q’s for O’s WH – 11/29/2010

By Josh

Nov 29, 2010 2:57pm

TAPPER: Is the president worried, because of the WikiLeaks disclosure, that other countries will no longer be candid with American diplomats?  And is the president worried that countries like Yemen or the Gulf states will now be forced into a position where they are publicly not cooperating with American efforts, either against AQAP in Yemen or against Iran's nuclear program?                                  

GIBBS:  Well, I think for obvious legal reasons I don't want to get into the specifics of these purported cables.  I will say that while we — and you've heard the statement that we released from me yesterday, the statement from the secretary of State and from our ambassador at the United Nations.  Obviously a breach of these type of discussions is decidedly — is decidedly not good.  That does not, however, change the fact that we have a series of problems that have to be addressed on the world stage, and that without — it is hard to imagine progress on those issues without American leadership moving those forward.                                                                                                                                     

You mention Iran, and I think it's important to — let's focus on that for a second.  Iran is not a threat because we have said to other countries, it is a threat and you should treat it as such.  I think it is obvious that countries throughout the world, countries in North America, countries in Europe, countries in the Middle East all understand the threat of — the threat that a nuclear Iran poses, again, not because we said it was a threat, but because they recognize either for regional stability or overall global stability that dealing with their pursuit of a nuclear weapons program is of grave concern not just to us, but also to them.   

I do not believe that the release of these documents impacts our ability to conduct a foreign policy that moves our interests forward and addresses both regional and global concerns about the issues that threaten this world.                                                                                                                  

TAPPER: Is the administration considering taking legal action against WikiLeaks itself?                                                                                    

GIBBS:  I would say two things.  Obviously, there is an ongoing criminal investigation about the stealing of and the dissemination of sensitive and classified information.   Secondly, I know the administration — or I should say, administration-wide, we are looking at a whole host of things.  And I wouldn't rule anything out.                                                                                    

TAPPER: And can I ask a question –                    

GIBBS:  Sure.                                                                                                             

TAPPER:   — about the spending freeze?  Does the president believe  –                  

GIBBS:  The pay freeze.                                                                        

TAPPER:  Pay freeze.

GIBBS:  Yeah.

TAPPER:  I'm sorry. Does the president believe that the size of the federal government is too big?

GIBBS:  Well, let me say this, Jake, that we're in the process of putting forward — putting together and ultimately releasing early next year a budget for the next fiscal year and which lays out several fiscal years beyond that.  We have taken steps to, as you heard the president mention today, cut programs that are unnecessary and unwise, and believes that we should — we have to continue to do that.  Our government should be lean and efficient.  And the actions that the president outlined today and the actions that he has outlined in both previous budgets and in future budgets will meet that test.                                                                                                       

TAPPER: But doesn't the president believe that you can't really get ahold of the deficit or the debt unless you actually start making cuts in programs that are necessary and wise?                                                                  

GIBBS:  I don't — I don't think a — I think there is a whole host of decisions — as — again, as you heard the president say — that are going to have to be made in the next year or two years or three years to address a problem that took us many years to get — to get into.                                                                                                                              

Jake, I think it — look, the president did not say today that this action alone will solve our deficit problems.  There are a series of actions alone that won't solve our deficit problems, but we have to make a series of collective and very difficult decisions to get our fiscal house in order.  Obviously, the deficit and debt commission will come back later this week, and the president will get a chance to  — and the team here — to evaluate where we are in that process as we create a budget going forward.

-Jake Tapper


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