Pakistanis Not Giving the US Access to OBL’s Wives and Materials, Immigration Reform Outreach, Syria: Today’s Q’s for O’s WH – 5/9/2011

By Nitya

May 9, 2011 2:06pm

TAPPER: If the Pakistani government does not allow the U.S. to have access to bin Laden's wives for questioning or to the other material seized in the raid, will there will be consequences?

CARNEY:  Well, I don't want to anticipate something that we hope — we don't anticipate happening.  We will work cooperatively with the Pakistanis.  We obviously are very interested in getting access to the three wives that you mentioned as well as the information or the material that the Pakistanis collected after U.S. forces left. 
 
But we are — we're going to have those conversations, and we hope and expect to make progress.  I don't want to anticipate something and speak to a hypothetical right now, because we think the relationship's important, the cooperation's important, we've had differences in the past and overcome them, and we think we can overcome them now.
 
TAPPER: But just to be clear, they have yet to agree to allow the U.S. access to the bin Laden's –
 
CARNEY:  As far as I know, but the point is is that there are constant and regular communications between high-level officials in both governments, the appropriate counterparts, about our need for cooperation, about the concerns back in the — you know, from each side.  And that's the kind of interchange that you would want.  It's the best way to work through differences.  It's the best way to further cooperation.  And since we're having that kind of dialogue regularly and this week included that, you know, we anticipate that we'll continue the cooperation.
 
TAPPER: In terms of immigration reform, I know the president has had a number of closed-door meetings with a number of stakeholders, I suppose you'd call them, branching from Governor Schwarzenegger to Eva Longoria.  And given the vote-counting challenge that you have in terms of getting something through the Senate and the House, why aren't there any individuals at these meetings with whom the president disagrees?
 
CARNEY:  Well, but the important part — I mean, he has been meeting with stakeholders who view comprehensive immigration reform as a necessity, maybe not in agreement on every detail of what you put into that package and how you get there but –
 
TAPPER: They’re largely supportive.
 
CARNEY:  They are, but they also represent a cross-section — a broad cross section of America, who –
 
TAPPER: But not of Congress.
 
CARNEY:  Republicans, Democrats, businessmen and -women; you know, NGOs — you know, across the board.  And what I think that says in building — what a — what a president needs to do in many cases is build public support.  And one of the things he does through this public campaign — meeting with stakeholders, giving speeches — is try to raise the profile of an issue, communicate to the American people and members of Congress, the — why it's an imperative and what the positives are, especially in this case, as I mentioned, the economic imperative, as well as the border secure — border security imperative, to try to build the case.

I mean, that's — you know, the president using his unique abilities, because of the nature of his office, to communicate, can build the support you're talking about.  And so meeting with stakeholders is a way of rallying supporters for comprehensive reform, asking them to go out and speak on behalf of that goal, and to try to generate some support and generate some pressure on Congress to take action.
 
TAPPER: But I guess the question is, wouldn't it be better if you're going to even — if you're going to take that approach, and you're not going to go directly to the Jon Kyls and John McCains of the world, but you're — but you're going to try to go to people who will influence them, why not try to win over the Governor Brewers and the Governor Martinezes?
 
CARNEY:  Well, I think you do — I think you do — look, I mean, this is a process where you — you know, you have meetings with stakeholders, and maybe you have meetings with legislators who might be crafting legislation if we get to that point, which we hope we will at — or other elected leaders around the country, further down the road.  One does not preclude the other.
 
This is — this is an important part of the campaign to build public awareness and public support for comprehensive immigration reform, which we have to do to make sure that it's got the kind of momentum behind it that gets Congress' attention.  I mean, you know, we all — we in Washington — you, the government, the Congress, the White House — are dealing with a lot of big issues.  And there's a competition for attention.  And to give immigration the attention it deserves, the need for immigration reform, the president gets out there and gives a speech like he gives tomorrow, he meets with stakeholders.  And he'll take other steps as this process moves forward.
 
TAPPER: And just lastly, could you explain to any Syrian-Americans who are looking at what's happening in their home country, and the lack of urgency that many perceive this administration to have when it comes to this issue — can you explain what we've done as a country or –
 
CARNEY:  Sure.
 
TAPPER: — that has had any impact whatsoever on the behavior of the Syrian government.  

CARNEY:  Well, here's the — here's the point I'll make: that you can take actions that have impact on behavior, and the behavior may not change instantly.  And I understand that as we've all witnessed the historic transformation and upheaval in the region, as these unpredicted events have taken place, that there's been a — you know, a desire for like — what's the end point?  What's the closure? What, you know — you know, why aren't we doing something to make this turn out well?
 
And the fact is — is that we're doing a lot of things in the case of Syria.  We strongly condemn the abhorrent violence that the Syrian government has used against peaceful protesters.  We have, as you know, in addition to the existing sanctions against the Syrian government, instituted targeted sanctions against gov
ernment officials to put pressure on them.  We've worked with our allies to put united pressure on the Syrian government to cease and desist.  And we continue that call today.  And you know, the isolation that Syria feels will, we hope, affect its behavior. 

 
You know, we've made it abundantly clear that the Syrian government security crackdown will not restore stability and will not stop the demands for change.  In other words, the action they're taking is actually entirely counterproductive to the goals they seek. If they seek stability, they're actually producing instability.  When you — when you — when you — the protesters are there because they want — as they have been in many other countries, they're demanding to be heard, they're demanding their rights, they're demanding a government that listens to their grievances and respects their aspirations.  And stability comes when governments do that, when they engage in a dialogue with the opposition, when they produce the kinds of political reforms that in this case the Syrian leadership has promised but has not delivered.
 
We believe — and we've called for this to happen.  We believe that the Syrian government needs to act on its words, act on its promises and that stability will come from that.

-Jake Tapper
 

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