"I'm perfectly comfortable in telling you...""I'm perfectly comfortable in telling you, our country is one that safeguards human rights and human dignity, and we resolve our disputes in a peaceful way."
One of many wonderful statements from Bush's European trip, this from today's meeting with Russian president Putin. The transcript is available here. US concerns with Russia have elevated lately, mostly because of Russia's apparent support for Iran's nuclear proliferation as well as a series of 'democracy reducing' steps Putin is engaged in, including the abandonment of popular election replaced by regional regional governers electing as well as shutting down independent media outlets.
Bush must be happy to hear Putin promise to aid his agenda regarding terrorism and nuclear advancements in the middle eastern countries that US considers threats:
Putin:"We should put an end to the proliferation of missile and missile technology. The proliferation of such weapons is not in the interest specific of countries or in the international community in general. " Note that this refers to these countries and not Russia and the US who actively pursue missle technology of all sorts.
The most interesting part of the statement comes in regards to the original quote. This is in response to a question that basically equated the US governmental policies post 9/11 to the very lessening democracy that is occuring within Russia. Bush response is telling:
"I live in a transparent country. I live in a country where decisions made by government are wide open and people are able to call people to me to account, which many out here do on a regular basis. Our laws and the reasons why we have laws on the books are perfectly explained to people. Every decision we have made is within the Constitution of the United States. We have a constitution that we uphold. "
Unfortunately this comes days after evidence confirming high level planning and execution of the internation 'ghost' prison system and the trasporting prisoners to countries where torture is not outlawed.
Finally, the issue of a free press was discussed, with Bush making perhaps his most poignant point: that the US media is not free, even if the government cannot fire journalists:
"And he wanted to know about our press. It's a nice bunch of folks. And he wanted to know about, as you mentioned, the subject of somebody getting fired. People do get fired in American press. They don't get fired by government, however. They get fired by their editors or they get fired by their producers or they get fired by the owners of a particular outlet or network. "
Although inadvertant, bush's point that corporations control the media and as such control the journalists is well taken, and perhaps will lead to government reconsidering it's hands off approach to media companies and corporate interests.