Pakistan, golf outing and Libya top the agenda in Carney’s session.
Highlights from Carney’s briefing:
On arrest of CIA informants in Pakistan:
“Important to remember” that relationship with Pakistan is vital for national security. “It remains an important relationship.”
“The cooperation we do get is vital and essential….we are very clear eyed about this.”
On donors getting jobs:
“We stand by those appointments.” Says it would only be “wrong” if the person wasn’t “qualified.”
“Our ethical standards are unmatched” by previous administrations.
On June 18 golf game with Boehner, et al:
“I assume they will discuss” the business “in a general way… we don’t have an agenda.”
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release June 15, 2011
BY PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:05 P.M. EDT
MR. CARNEY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don’t have any announcements, so I will go straight to questions.
Q Hi, Jay. Thank you. I wonder if you could tell us when the White House became aware that Pakistanis had arrested people who had assisted in the operation to raid bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad?
MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any specific information for you about that report. I can say that our relationship with Pakistan is extremely important. It is also complicated. And we have made that clear and been quite candid about that for a long time.
And it is important to remember that the relationship is important because it helps our national security interest to maintain it. Pakistan has worked with us to go after terrorism and terrorists. More terrorists have been killed on Pakistani soil than in any other country.
So we continue to work with the Pakistanis. Sometimes we have difficult issues to work through with them, but it remains an important relationship.
Q Well, there appears to be a pattern. These arrests aside, you had an event — episode a couple weeks ago where U.S. intelligence shared information with the Pakistanis regarding two bomb-making compounds, and then the militants apparently fled. Does the President have — is he frustrated with this kind of pattern?
And let me ask you what the Senate Intelligence Committee asked last week of the deputy CIA director, which is, on a scale of one to 10, where would you rank Pakistani cooperation on matters of counterterrorism?
MR. CARNEY: Well, without addressing that specific ranking, I would say that we acknowledge that it is a complicated relationship, and I think that’s pretty candid. And I think we have also made clear that the cooperation we do get is vital and essential to our war against terrorism and terrorists.
And we will continue that relationship for precisely that reason. And when we have issues, we deal with them. And obviously there was, in the wake of the successful mission against Osama bin Laden, we have reached out and engaged with the Pakistani government and our counterparts in Pakistan at many levels, precisely because this relationship is so important.
Q But it seems that the administration is merely accepting the fact that it’s a complicated relationship. Are you doing anything to improve the relationship?
MR. CARNEY: Well, what I just said. We work constantly to improve the relationship, to improve the cooperation. And whatever number you pick on the scale of cooperation, that number represents significant success in combating terrorism and eliminating terrorists — terrorists who threaten Pakistan, terrorists who threaten the United States and threaten our allies.
So, again, we don’t do this except with those priorities in mind. So it’s not always an easy relationship, but it is a vital one.
Q On Afghanistan — the President is meeting with Secretary Gates today. Is Afghanistan drawdown on the agenda? And have you received a recommendation from the Pentagon?
MR. CARNEY: The President, as you know, has a weekly meeting with Secretary Gates. That is what this meeting is — and with the Vice President when he’s in town.
Afghanistan routinely comes up in those weekly meetings. I’m not saying it’s on the agenda — we don’t read out the weekly meetings with Secretary Gates or the weekly meetings with Secretary Clinton. So I would simply leave it at that.
On the second question, as I’ve said before, the President will be looking at recommendations from his commanders, including General Petraeus, having discussions with his commanders, Secretary Gates, his national security team going forward. I’m not going to give you a blow by blow about when those meetings are taking place and the content of those meetings, but he said — the President did — that he will make a decision soon about the beginning of the drawdown.
I would make the point that this is the continuation, the implementation of a process he set in motion in December of 2009.