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President Bush faces the press and Congress; Update On NIE: “They had the program, they halted the program…and they could restart it;” Update: Bush botches Saudi gang rape question; Update: Press corps plays “Psychology 101”

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 4, 2007 09:20 AM

Scroll down for updates…

President Bush will hold a news conference at 10am to discuss spending battles and other legislative conflicts with the Dems. The Iran nuke NIE will also be a hot topic. Stay tuned for the show. (Update: All the dinosaur networks will be covering.) Meantime, how about this fair and balanced Associated Press wire dispatch on the upcoming news conference:

“Bush Is Expected to Scold Congress Again”

President Bush, entrenched in disputes with Congress over spending and the war in Iraq, wants to intensify pressure on lawmakers when he addresses the media on Tuesday. It will be his first news conference in nearly seven weeks.

The president is expected again to admonish Congress for not sending him spending bills, intelligence legislation and tax-law changes. Bush, taking advantage of his veto power and the largest bully pulpit in town, regularly scolds Congress as a way to stay relevant and frame the debate as his presidency winds down.

Democrats counter that Bush is more interested in making statements than genuinely trying to negotiate some common ground with them.

The news conference is scheduled for 10:01 a.m. EST Tuesday.

How about:

“Democrats regularly obstruct legislation as a way to stay relevant and frame the debate as their approval numbers plummet. Republicans counter that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are more interested in making statements than genuinely trying to negotiate some common ground with them.”

***

10:02am Eastern. The “scolding” begins…Bush thanks Senate for taking up free trade agreement with Peru today. Presses conference on military funding, intelligence funding, AMT legislation…If the Congress passes an irresponsible spending bill, I will vote it…

10:05am Eastern. First question on NIE. Are you convinced that Iran is still trying to build a nuclear bomb?

GWB: Here’s what we know. We know that they are still trying to learn how to enrich uranium. Enriching uranium is an important step…we know they had a program, we know they halted it…I view this report as a warning signal that they had the program, they halted the program…and they could restart it…rally the international community to keep up pressure…the NIE said that pressure was effective…

Second question: “Are you concerned that the US has lost credibility in the world?” Sounds like a former CAIR intern/YouTuber.

10:10am Eastern. David Gregory accuses Bush of knowing about the NIE months ago. DG: “Can’t you be accused of hyping this threat?”

GWB: “I hate to contradict an august reporter such as yourself, but I was made aware of this NIE last week…Iran was dangerous. Iran is dangerous. And Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”

10:15am Eastern. “The NIE makes it clear that Iran needs to be taken seriously as a threat to peace. My opinion hasn’t changed.” Material, knowledge, know-how, delivery system. “This is a nation that is testing ballistic missiles. It is a nation that is trying to enrich uranium. The NIE says this is a country that had a covert nuke weapons program that they have failed to disclose. Never admitted it existed in the first place.”

10:17am Eastern. Martha Raddatz: “How can you possibly believe world will rally around you?” Because many people understand the dangers of Iran acquiring a nuke weapon. And because the NIE underscored that diplomatic pressure worked. “One thing is for certain: The NIE talks about how a carrot and stick approach can work.”

10:20am Eastern. A good question about the Saudi gang rape case. Did Bush press the Saudis on the case? What are your first thoughts on hearing about this?

Bush stumbles. “I’d a been emotional, angry, angry at the state that didn’t support the victim. He talked to Abdullah about the peace conference, doesn’t remember if he talked about the rape case.”

Lame.

10:21am Eastern. Question about the mortgage bailout plan. “The basics in the economy are good. Inflation, interest rates, productivity, exports, etc…We are addressing the current issues…home ownership…it’s a headwind…Treas. Sec. Paulson working on a “credit reassurance fund”…We have consistently called on Congress to pass measures that will keep the economy strong…mentions free trade agreement with Peru again…

10:24am Eastern. Another question on housing – “Was the govt too slow to recognize subprime mess?”

GWB: “We shouldn’t bail out lenders.”

Yeah, well, we shouldn’t bail out home owners, either.

10:36am Eastern. Question about presidential race and immigration. “It’s going to be intense…and interesting to watch.” He’s going to miss campaigning and virus-sharing with Candy Crowley.

Eww.

10:40am Eastern. On S-CHIP…Why would you waste time instead of negotiate…and work together…segues to troop funding…We’ve got men and women risking their lives…this congress needs to fund them without telling our military how to conduct this war…Give ’em the funds they need. Now is the time to do it.

(Bush remembers he’s supposed to “scold”.)

10:42am Eastern. Armchair psychologist asks if Bush is “dispirited.” Bush – “All of a sudden, it’s Psychology 101.” Bush reiterates defense of approach to Iran.

Final word from GWB: “I’m going to use the NIE to continue to rally the international community for peace.”

***

Israel reax
:

The threat of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons must not be underestimated, was the message government officials sent out on Tuesday after the release of a US intelligence report claiming that Teheran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 but was continuing to enrich uranium.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Iran was continuing in its efforts to produce a nuclear bomb despite the report. According to the minister, Iran had indeed stopped its program four years ago but has since renewed it.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the opening of a meeting with the Italian deputy prime minister that the report only emphasizes and strengthens the need for the international community to tighten sanctions on Iran so that it will not be able to produce nuclear weapons.

Europe reax on the NIE:

Don’t let Iran off the hook quite yet.

That’s the message European and U.N. officials are sending after a U.S. intelligence report concluded Iran is not building nuclear weapons.

Europeans say the U.S. U-turn strengthens their argument for negotiations with Tehran. But they also said that sanctions are still an option to compel Iran to be fully transparent about its nuclear program.

The report, a composite of findings from several U.S. intelligence agencies released Monday, said Iran halted nuclear weapons development in 2003 � a stunning reversal for an administration whose conviction that Iran was seeking nuclear arms has driven two rounds of U.N. sanctions and stoked worldwide proliferation fears.

European officials, eager not to appear thrown off balance by the surprising report, insisted that the international community should not walk away from years of talks with an often defiant Tehran that is openly enriching uranium for uncertain ends. The report said Iran could still build a nuclear bomb by 2010-15.

“We must maintain pressure on Iran,” said French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani, whose country has taken an increasingly tough stance against Iran in recent months.

Posted in: George W. Bush