February 2 White House Press Briefing

By The White House, The White House - February 2, 2012

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The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

See below for an answer to a question (marked with an asterisk) posed in the briefing that required follow up.

* The President asked the Department of Justice to establish a unit within the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, made up of Department of Housing and Urban Development, Securities and Exchange Commission and state Attorneys General, to investigate origination and securitization. Separately, federal enforcement agencies, state Attorneys General and some of the nation’s largest financial institutions continue negotiations to reach a settlement to resolve misconduct in the servicing of home loans.

1:45 P.M. EST

MR. CARNEY: I have no announcements to make at the top, so I will go straight to questions.

Ben Feller.

Q Thanks, Jay. First off, I wanted to ask about Afghanistan. The President has put in motion a plan to withdraw troops and get us down to about 70,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan by September. Now Secretary Panetta says he envisions an end of combat role towards the middle -- latter part of 2013. How does that affect the pace of withdrawal for the rest of the U.S. troops?

MR. CARNEY: Well, let me step back and clarify your question. Secretary Panetta, on his way to a meeting of fellow defense ministers of NATO in Brussels, spoke with reporters about the consultations he would be having, and in line with the NATO policy set forward in Lisbon with regards to Afghanistan that called for the transfer of security lead to the Afghan security forces by 2014. That is the policy, and it has not changed.

What the meetings the Secretary is involved in now are about is how that transition will unfold and take place, and that will certainly be a subject of serious discussion among heads of state of NATO who are here in Chicago hosted by President Obama in May.

It certainly -- what Secretary Panetta said is that it could happen that the transition to Afghan security lead could be moved up to 2013, but he was not making an announcement about a decision that had been made, simply about the consultations that would be taking place in Brussels and from Brussels forward to Chicago.

Q Well, he said -- he did say “hopefully,” but the mid to latter part of 2013, we’ll be able to make the transition from combat role to training. Before that, we had heard from the President that the combat role would end by 2014. So that’s clearly a change.

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