After reading this excrutiating exchange from today’s gaggle I admit that I am a “pessimist and a nay-sayer”, just like the entire intelligence community. Please, Scotty, please answer this first question:
Q Scott, does the President believe that the National Intelligence Committee assessment of the situation in Iraq that he received in July was an accurate assessment?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let’s talk about what the role of the CIA is. The role of the CIA is to look at different scenarios. [Blah-blah, scenarios, blah.]
Q Three fairly dim scenarios, ranging from civil war to delaying — the most optimistic said that we probably —
MR. McCLELLAN: It talks about the great challenges to Iraq’s peaceful and democratic future.
There are certain areas where there are ongoing difficulties and security threats.
But the pessimists and the nay-sayers have said that Iraq wouldn’t — the Iraqi people wouldn’t be able to agree to a transitional administrative law that established the rule of law and protected people’s individual rights. The Iraqi people —
Q The TAL no longer exists.
MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on, Joe. I’m talking. The Iraqi people proved them wrong. The Iraqi — the pessimist nay sayers said that they — that we would not be able to transfer sovereignty by June 30th. The Iraqi people proved them wrong. And we did it early. The pessimists and nay sayers said that Iraq wouldn’t be able to establish an interim representative council at their national conference. And the Iraqi people proved them wrong. And they said — the pessimists and nay-sayers said that the Iraqi leaders wouldn’t be legitimate.
Q It sure sounds like the President doesn’t think much of that report, then.
MR. McCLELLAN: No — no, actually, I told you, that’s what it — it states the obvious, and it talks about the challenges and the different scenarios that we face. That’s what intelligence reports are supposed to do. [Blah bl-blah.]
Q But for the President to accuse the press and others for being pessimistic, which he does commonly in his speeches — referring to The New York Times article from ’45, et cetera — isn’t that disingenuous when there’s reports from NIA which paint these sort of scenarios?
MR. McCLELLAN: That’s why I pointed out that Iraqi leaders and the Iraqi people have proven the pessimists wrong every step of the way. I just pointed to the examples, and I pointed to — most of the country in Iraq has made significant progress. There are areas where difficulties remain and there are ongoing — there are ongoing security threats. [Blah, blah – transition to democracy is very hard – blah.]
Q So the President doesn’t agree with the outlook?
MR. McCLELLAN: Those are different scenarios. They’re different — they’re different scenarios and that’s why it’s important — and that’s why —
Q — those scenarios are possible or likely?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the Iraqi people are proving that those — those scenarios are wrong by the progress that they are making to build a better future and the coalition is there helping them as they do so.