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pd15no04 Proclamation 7845--World Freedom Day, 2004...

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endeavor. Of course, I think NATO has a very challenging agenda, and 
I'll make sure that we can deliver--NATO can deliver, that we can face 
all those challenges successfully.
    Thank you so much, and it's a great pleasure to be here in the Oval 
Office once again.
    President Bush. Welcome back.
    We'll be glad to answer a couple of questions. Scott [Scott Lindlaw, 
Associated Press], why don't you start it off.

Future Cooperation With the Palestinian Authority

    Q. Thanks, Mr. President. In June 2002, you urged the Palestinian 
people to replace Yasser Arafat with a leader, in your words, ``not 
compromised by terror.'' Arafat today is gravely ill. In fact, 
Palestinians have already selected his successor. Do you see a new 
opening for peace here?
    President Bush. I do. There will be an opening for peace when 
leadership of the Palestinian people steps forward and says, ``Help us 
build a democratic and free society.'' And when that happens--and I 
believe it's going to happen, because I believe all people desire to 
live in freedom--the United States of America will be more than willing 
to help build the institutions necessary for a free society to emerge, 
so that the Palestinians can have their own state. The vision is two 
states, a Palestinian state and Israel, living side by side in peace. 
And I think we've got a chance to do that. And I look forward to being 
involved in that process.
    Adam [Adam Boulton, Sky News].

[[Page 2812]]

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell

    Q. Mr. President, today you met with your Secretary of State. Do you 
want him to stick around to lead your efforts to revive the Middle East 
peace talks?
    President Bush. I'm proud of my Secretary of State. He's done a heck 
of a good job.
    Heidi [Heidi Pryzbyla, Bloomberg News].

Troop Levels in Iraq

    Q. Yes, sir. Can elections in Iraq be free and fair without the 
participation of Sunnis? And you've also said you'll give the commanders 
in Iraq what they need. Does this mean that you're open to substantially 
increasing the level of troops?
    President Bush. That is a loaded question, and I don't blame you for 
asking it. The commanders on the ground will have that which they need, 
and they have yet to say, ``We need a substantial number of troops.'' As 
a matter of fact, I met with the commanders on the ground today--General 
Casey, and he--a commander on the ground, General Casey, the commander 
on the ground. And he said that things are going well in Fallujah and 
they're making very good progress in securing that country.
    But I haven't changed--the job of the Commander in Chief is to set 
the strategy and to set the direction of policy and say to those who are 
in charge of implementing the policy, ``You'll have that which you 
need.'' And I have said that ever since we've begun operations in Iraq. 
I said it when we began operations in Afghanistan, and it's still true. 
And if the commanders were to bring forth a request, I would look at 
it--I would listen to it very seriously and implement the request. They 
have yet to do so.

Sunni Participation in Iraqi Elections

    Q. Do you need Sunni participation to make the elections free and 
    President Bush. Well, I'm confident when people realize that there's 
a chance to vote on a President, they will participate. People want to 
be free. This is tough right now in Iraq because there are people that 
are willing to commit violent acts to stop elections. But as I reminded 
our citizens prior to the Afghanistan elections, there's a deep desire 
in every soul to vote and to be free and to participate in the 
Presidential elections, which is precisely what happened in Afghanistan 
in spite of the doubt of some and in spite of the violence that took 
place in Afghanistan prior to the vote. I believe that a lot of citizens 
in Iraq will want to vote for their leaders. And I believe that because 
I believe deep in everybody's soul is a desire to be free.
    Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 2:52 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to Gen. George W. Casey, USA, 
commanding general, Multi-National Force--Iraq. A reporter referred to 
Chairman Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Authority.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2812-2813]
Pages 2807	2825
Week Ending Friday, November 12, 2004
Remarks on the Nomination of Alberto R. Gonzales To Be Attorney General

November 10, 2004

    Good afternoon. I'm pleased to announce my nomination of Judge Al 
Gonzales to be the Attorney General of the United States. This is the 
fifth time I have asked Judge Gonzales to serve his fellow citizens, and 
I am very grateful he keeps saying ``yes.''
    A decade ago, when I was elected Governor of Texas, I asked Al to be 
my general counsel. He went on to distinguished service as Texas's 
secretary of State and as a justice of the Texas Supreme Court.
    Since I arrived in Washington 4 years ago, he has served with skill 
and integrity in the White House as Counsel to the President. I have 
counted on Al Gonzales to help select the best nominees for the Federal 
courts, one of the President's most important responsibilities.
    His sharp intellect and sound judgment have helped shape our 
policies in the war on terror, policies designed to protect the security 
of all Americans, while protecting the rights of all Americans. As the 
top legal official on the White House staff, he has led a superb team of 
lawyers and has upheld the highest standards of Government ethics. My 
confidence in Al was high to begin with; it has only grown with time.

[[Page 2813]]

    Over the past decade, I've also come to know the character of this 
man. He always gives me his frank opinion. He is a calm and steady voice 
in times of crisis. He has an unwavering principle, a respect for the 
law, and he and Becky are dear friends of Laura and my--of me, and I'm 
also very friendly with Graham and Gabriel Gonzales.
    My newest Cabinet nominee grew up in a two-bedroom house in Texas 
with his parents and seven siblings. Al's mother and dad, Pablo and 
Maria, were migrant workers who never finished elementary school, but 
they worked hard to educate their children and to instill the values of 
reverence and integrity and personal responsibility. These good people 
lived to see their son, Al, study at Rice University and Harvard Law 
School. Maria still lives in humble Texas in the house her husband 
built, and I can only imagine how proud she is today of her son, Al.
    Serving as Attorney General is one of the most challenging duties in 
our Government. As the Nation's chief law enforcement officer, Al will 
continue our administration's great progress in fighting crime, in 
strengthening the FBI, in improving our domestic efforts in the war on 
terror. As a steward of civil rights laws, he will ensure that Americans 
are protected from discrimination so that each person has the 
opportunity to live the American Dream, as Al himself has done.
    With the Senate's approval, Judge Gonzales will succeed another 
superb public servant, Attorney General John Ashcroft. Attorney General 
Ashcroft has served with excellence during a demanding time. In 4 years, 
he's reorganized the Department of Justice to meet the new threat of 
terrorism. He's fairly and forcefully applied the PATRIOT Act and helped 
to dismantle terror cells inside the United States. During his watch, 
violent crime has dropped to a 30-year low and prosecutions of crimes 
committed with guns have reached an alltime high. Drug use amongst our 
students is down. Confidence in the financial markets has been restored 
because the Attorney General aggressively prosecuted corporate fraud. 
And thanks to John Ashcroft's leadership, America has stepped up its 
efforts to prosecute the cruel exploitation of children by Internet 
pornographers. The Nation is safer and more just today because John 
Ashcroft has served our country so well.
    I'm committed to strong, principled leadership at the Department of 
Justice, and Judge Al Gonzales will be that kind of leader as America's 
80th Attorney General. I urge the Senate to act promptly on this 
important nomination. I look forward to welcoming my great friend to the 

Note: The President spoke at 3:40 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the 
White House. In his remarks, he referred to Rebecca Gonzales, wife of 
Attorney General-Designate Alberto R. Gonzales. The transcript released 
by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of 
Attorney General-Designate Gonzales. The Office of the Press Secretary 
also released a Spanish language transcript of these remarks.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2813-2814]
Pages 2807	2825
Week Ending Friday, November 12, 2004
Remarks at the Iftaar Dinner

November 10, 2004

    Thank you all. Please be seated. Thank you. Thank you all for 
coming, and welcome to the White House, and Ramadan Mubarak. I'm honored 
to be with so many friends and distinguished guests.
    As we gather during this holy month, America is stronger and more 
hopeful because of the generosity and compassion of our Muslim citizens. 
Our Nation is safer and more prosperous because we have a close 
relationship with our Islamic friends around the world. And tonight we 
honor the traditions of a great faith by hosting the Iftaar dinner here 
at the White House.
    I want to acknowledge our Secretary of State, Colin Powell. I 
appreciate his great service. I want to thank our Secretary of Energy, 
Spence Abraham, who is with us today. I want to thank Dr. Elias Zerhouni 
for his great work at the National Institutes of Health. Thank you. I 
want to thank all the distinguished Ambassadors who are with us today.
    I want to thank the American Muslim leaders who've joined us. I 
appreciate you coming from all around the country. I want to thank Imam 
Faizul Khan of the Islamic Center of Washington, who will lead the 
blessing tonight. And tonight we also remember the late

[[Page 2814]]

Shaykh Zayid, the founder of the United Arab Emirates, who passed away 
last week. He was a wise leader, and America joins the people of the UAE 
in honoring his memory.
    For Muslims in America and around the world, Ramadan is a special 
time of reflection, fasting, and charity. It is a time to think of the 
less fortunate and to share God's gifts with those in need. It is a time 
of spiritual growth and prayer, and the heartfelt prayers offered by 
Muslims across America are a blessing for our whole Nation.
    Ramadan is also a time for togetherness and thanksgiving. And 
Muslims gather to break the fast, and there is so much to be thankful 
for. I know you're thankful for your families and communities, and we 
all pray for their safety and happiness in the year ahead. Here in 
America, Muslims also think of their brothers and sisters in distant 
lands where lives are being lifted up by liberty and by hope.
    In Iraq, families are observing this holy month in a free society. 
After enduring decades of tyranny and fear, the Iraqi people are guiding 
their nation toward democracy. And this January, they will choose their 
leaders in a free election.
    In Afghanistan, brave men and women have transformed a country, and 
they have inspired our world. Just over 3 years ago, the Taliban 
Government controlled Afghanistan. They harbored terrorists and denied 
basic rights to millions of citizens. And today, the Taliban is gone 
from power. Women have their freedom. Girls go to school. And last 
month, the people of Afghanistan stood in long lines to cast their vote 
in a free election.
    The elections in Afghanistan and Iraq will be counted as landmark 
events in the history of liberty. And America will always be proud of 
our efforts to bring liberty and hope to those nations. Freedom is not 
America's gift to the world. Freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each 
man and woman in this world.
    Over the next 4 years, we'll work to ensure that the gift of freedom 
reaches more men and women in the broader Middle East. By working with 
leaders in that region, we can advance reform and change in a vital part 
of the world. And as we do so, we'll build a better future for all 
    As we defend liberty and justice abroad, we must honor those values 
here at home. At our founding, America made a commitment to justice and 
tolerance, and we keep that commitment today. We reject ethnic and 
religious bigotry in every form. We strive for a welcoming society that 
honors the life and faith of every person. We will always protect the 
most basic human freedom, the freedom to worship the Almighty God 
without any fear.

    In recent years, Americans of many faiths have come to learn more 
about our Muslim brothers and sisters. And the more we learn, the more 
we find that our commitments are broadly shared. As Americans, we all 
share a commitment to family, to protect and to love our children. We 
share a belief in God's justice and man's moral responsibility. We share 
the same hope for a future of peace. We have so much in common and so 
much to learn from one another.

    Once again, I wish you a blessed Ramadan. I want to thank you for 
joining us at the White House for this Iftaar, and may God bless you 

Note: The President spoke at 5:58 p.m. on the State Floor at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to Imam Faizul Khan, administrator, 
Islamic Society of the Washington Area.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2814]
Pages 2807	2825
Week Ending Friday, November 12, 2004
Statement on the Death of 
Yasser Arafat

November 10, 2004

    The death of Yasser Arafat is a significant moment in Palestinian 
history. We express our condolences to the Palestinian people. For the 
Palestinian people, we hope that the future will bring peace and the 
fulfillment of their aspirations for an independent, democratic 
Palestine that is at peace with its neighbors. During the period of 
transition that is ahead, we urge all in the region and throughout the 
world to join in helping make progress toward these goals and toward the 
ultimate goal of peace.

[[Page 2815]]

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 2815-2816]
Pages 2807	2825

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