Are the Japanese Being Forthcoming About the Nuke Crisis? Why Are Egyptian Students Snubbing Secretary Clinton?: Today’s Q’s for O’s WH – 3/15/2011

Mar 15, 2011 3:42pm

TAPPER:   How satisfied is President Obama with the information coming from Japanese authorities?  Does the U.S. government, does the White House feel that you are getting all the information when it — as soon as the Japanese officials know it?  I say this because on Friday President Obama, when I asked him about the nuclear threat in Japan, offered a — reassuring words, I could say, as conveyed from the prime minister.  Obviously, the situation seems a little more dire today.

CARNEY:  What I can point you to, Jake, is the statement that the NRC has put out.  And it's — you have to remember that the NRC has its own independent experts on the ground there making assessments about the situation in Japan, determinations about advice that American citizens in Japan should follow.  And we have an overall team, the number of which I gave you, on the ground there that is — that is making its own assessments, and working very closely with Japanese officials to make those assessments.

TAPPER: But that — I appreciate the fact that we have our own independent experts there, but that wasn't my question.  The question is how comfortable is the president with — that the information the Japanese are giving to the U.S., from Prime Minister Kan to him and below, is accurate and not just best-case scenarios and hopes and wishes?

CARNEY:  Again, Jake, I would point you to the fact that we have a certain amount of expertise in this area.  We have people on the ground there.  We are working with Japanese officials who are providing us information.  And we are making our independent assessments with our own experts, as well as consulting with the Japanese.

And I — and I just want to point to you right now that, you know, our focus is on helping the Japanese, helping our good friends and allies deal with this terrible tragedy that they have encountered: the combination of an earthquake, a tsunami and now the nuclear- reactor problem that they have.

So we are obviously, in the ways that I mentioned at the top, coordinating very closely with the Japanese and offering assistance that's being accepted, our expertise that they can tap when they need it and giving advice when its solicited.

So there's a great deal of coordination.  And right now, our focus, obviously, is on American citizens in the country.  And those assessments are being made.  And then — and then also we're focused very closely on what we can do to help Japan deal with this series of really tragic events.

TAPPER:  Are our independent experts there at least in part because we don't trust the assessments being made by the Japanese?

CARNEY:  No, no — no, Jake, they're there because we are a close ally and friend to Japan and we are coordinating with the Japanese to assist them in any way that we can and in any way that they request in dealing with this terrible tragedy and historic tragedy.

We are obviously, because we have expertise in this area, making independent assessments and using them to evaluate decisions we make about advising American citizens in Japan, and obviously about advising Americans on American soil, about any impact they may face because of this, which is what Chairman Jaczko was talking about yesterday.

TAPPER: But just to button this: is the president is satisfied with the information he's been getting from the Japanese government?

CARNEY:  I –

TAPPER:  Yes?

CARNEY:  I have no reason to say that he's not, Jake.  The coordination is deep in many ways.  I would refer you for details on how that works and who's talking to whom to the NRC, the Department of Energy, the State Department and the embassy in Tokyo.

TAPPER:  Okay, and one other thing.  The six youth groups who were part of the Egyptian revolution snubbed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who wanted to meet with them, who invited them to meet with her.  They said that they did — would not meet with her based on her negative position from the beginning of the revolution in Egypt and the position of the U.S. administration.  Did they misunderstand our position?

CARNEY:  Jake, I — I'll refer you to the State Department on that specifically.  I believe —  

TAPPER:  They have no comment.  That’s why I'm asking you.

CARNEY:  Well, I would just say that we have said from the beginning of the situation in Egypt, and the beginning, even prior to that, of the — of the unrest in the region, that this is not and should not be about the United States of America.  We have operated under the principles that the president laid out in his speech in Cairo, and we believe that sticking to those principles was an important thing to do during the course of those historic days earlier this year during the events in Egypt.  And we are working closely with our allies in Egypt and offering assistance where we can and advice where we can as they go through this transitional process that is really remarkable, given where they were just a few months ago.  As for the specific comments that those groups made, I don't have a — I do not have a response.

-Jake Tapper

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