A Matter of Trust

President Obama says he has assured French President Nicholas Sarkozy that the Air Force’s KC-X tanker recapitalization effort will be a “free and fair” process. And the French head of state said he accepts those assurances. Speaking Tuesday during a joint White House press briefing on the occasion of Sarkozy’s US visit, Obama assured his French counterpart that he has full confidence that Defense Secretary Robert Gates would run a “completely transparent, completely open, and a fair competition.” But he also pointed out that there is “a longstanding policy” that the US President “does not meddle” in Pentagon procurement decisions. Sarkozy, in whose country European aircraft maker Airbus is headquartered, said Obama and he had privately discussed the tanker issue—since Airbus’ parent EADS is considering offering a bid for KC-X. He said, given Obama’s assurances, “then we say EADS will bid and we trust you.” (Obama-Sarkozy transcript)