All good gaggles begin with the words, “And with that, I’ll be glad to go to your questions. Helen.”
Q I asked you the other day and didn’t get an answer and I’ll ask you again, do we follow the Geneva Conventions at Guantanamo?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President has already answered that question. We’ve answered that question on numerous occasions, Helen. The President’s most solemn obligation is to protect the American people, and in terms of — in terms of Guantanamo, it’s related to the war on terrorism that we’re fighting. We’re fighting a different kind of war and we face an enemy like we have never faced before. The President designated individuals again Guantanamo as unlawful enemy combatants who do not share — they are people who do not share our values, who do not respect the rule of law, and who have no regard for innocent —
Q You haven’t even charged them.
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, I’m going to move on to other people if you’re not going to let me answer the questions.
Q Go ahead.
MR. McCLELLAN: I would like to answer your question and I’m trying to do that. We can disagree on the war on terrorism, but I want to make my points, too.
But these are people who have no regard for innocent civilian life, and the military — and in terms of the military and the detainees who are at Guantanamo Bay, the President expects them to be treated humanely and consistent with the Geneva Conventions. That’s what he has said to the Pentagon, and that’s what he expects to happen. We are a nation of values and laws, and we adhere to our values and laws.
Q Why are there so many reports, then, of abuses at Guantanamo?
MR. McCLELLAN: You should direct your questions to the Department of Defense if there are any allegations of abuse. They take them very seriously.
Q You’re not aware of any?
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, Helen, we can disagree on this, but —
Q It isn’t a question of — I’m asking you a very valid question.
MR. McCLELLAN: And you’re not letting me respond to it, Helen. I would like to respond to it, but you’re not letting me.
Q You said that we don’t really have to obey the law in this case, in terms of not giving these people a fair trial and charging them —
MR. McCLELLAN: These are people that are — that do not adhere to the Geneva Conventions. These are enemy combatants who were picked up on the battlefield trying to do harm to Americans, or plotting to carry out attacks against the American people.
Q How do you know that without charging them?
MR. McCLELLAN: John, go ahead. Helen you’ve got to let me have a chance to respond. Thank you.
Meanwhile, Les is worried about women screwin’ up his war.
Q The Washington Times has twice reported the Center for Military Readiness charged that the U.S. Army is currently violating the Defense Department’s ban on women in land combat. In the first of two, the President, as Commander-in-Chief, is aware that most women can’t carry male wounded, they can’t pass the male strength tests at our service academies, that female POWs have been gang-raped, and that thousands of impregnated women had to be brought home from Desert Storm, isn’t he? Isn’t he aware of this?
MR. McCLELLAN: Les, let me tell you that the President is grateful for the sacrifice and the service of all our men and our women who serve in uniform. They’re doing an outstanding job, and he greatly appreciates it. And that’s what I would say in response to that question.
And Scottie falls for the administration’s propaganda about Saddam, which is just plain sic.
Q But it’s important for the Iraqi people to close the chapter on Saddam Hussein, that he will be tried for his crimes, and that he will not return to power. How can that be accomplished without the support of the United Nations?
MR. McCLELLAN: He will be tried for the oppression and brutality of his regime. He is someone who is no longer carrying out the atrocities on the American [sic] people. He is now in jail. There is a legal process that has been put in place, and the Iraqis will move forward on that legal process.