Let’s lead off with none other than Helen Thomas as she catches Little Scottie indulging in a bit of historical revisionism.
Q The other day — in fact, this week, you said that we, the United States, is in Afghanistan and Iraq by invitation. Would you like to correct that incredible distortion of American history —
MR. McCLELLAN: No, we are — that’s where we currently —
Q — in view of your credibility is already mired? How can you say that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Helen, I think everyone in this room knows that you’re taking that comment out of context. There are two democratically-elected governments in Iraq and —
Q We’re we invited into Iraq?
MR. McCLELLAN: There are two democratically-elected governments now in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are there at their invitation. They are sovereign governments, and we are there today —
Q You mean if they had asked us out, that we would have left?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, Helen, I’m talking about today. We are there at their invitation. They are sovereign governments —
Q I’m talking about today, too.
MR. McCLELLAN: — and we are doing all we can to train and equip their security forces so that they can provide for their own security as they move forward on a free and democratic future.
Q Did we invade those countries?
MR. McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Steve.
Jeebus, Scottie can’t even bring himself to admit we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan.
Next: We’re Number 1!
Q Scott, Amnesty International report today, saying the U.S. is a top offender of human rights. Does the White House dispute that assessment?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think the allegations are ridiculous and unsupported by the facts. The United States is leading the way when it comes to protecting human rights and promoting human dignity.
[Hack *gag* – snip]
Q On various reports of abuse, whether it’s at Guantanamo Bay or Afghanistan, you’ve often said that those are isolated incidents. Are there any U.S. policies, though, in place currently that have lead to those isolated incidences that should be reevaluated?
MR. McCLELLAN: We are a society based on laws and values — it’s not just laws, but also values that we hold dearly. And certainly, what you bring up has been a stain on the image of the United States abroad. But if you look at how we address these matters, it shows our commitment to human rights and human dignity. We hold people accountable when there is abuse. We take steps to prevent it from happening again, and we do so in a very public way for the world to see that we lead by example, and that we do have values that we hold very dearly and believe in.
Q So the current policies aren’t contributing to the problem?
MR. McCLELLAN: No. No.
OK, to summarize today’s gaggle so far: we did not invade Iraq and Afghanistan and the Bush assministration’s policy of torture did not lead to torture.
Scottie, about Newsweek…
Q Scott, there’s an FBI memo that’s been released today through a Freedom of Information request. It dates from August 23, 2002, and recounts the interrogation — the interview of a detainee at Bagram. And in this memo, the FBI recounts that this detainee says he had nothing against the United States, but the guards in his detention facility do not treat him well, their behavior is bad; about five months ago, the guards beat the detainees and they flushed a Koran in the toilet.
Now, there has been some statements coming from some administration officials since the Newsweek retraction of its story that a Koran was flushed down the toilet, that the United States government had no knowledge of any such allegation.
MR. McCLELLAN: This is referring to a detainee, right?
MR. McCLELLAN: No, I think what the Department of Defense has said is that they have found nothing to substantiate any such allegation.
Q At one point I believe Mr. DiRita said that there was no such allegation.
MR. McCLELLAN: You can check with the Department of Defense on his words, but I know that they have publicly said that they have found nothing to substantiate any such allegations. There have been allegations made by detainees. We know that members of al Qaeda are trained to mislead and to provide false reports. We know that’s one of their tactics that they use. And so I think you have to keep that in mind, as well.
Q For sure. How important is it —
MR. McCLELLAN: But in terms — I mean in terms of if there’s any abuse of detainees, we take any such allegations very seriously. And if there is abuse of detainees, we hold people to account — you mentioned mistreatment of a detainee — and we have done that, and we also take steps to correct any problems. And we have done that, as well.
Q Are you saying that there is no substantiation of any Koran desecration at all at Bagram or Guantanamo Bay?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if you look back, I think the Department of Defense briefed last week, and they talked about the specific allegation that you’re bringing up, and they have found nothing to substantiate any such allegation. In terms of the handling of the Koran, that’s a different matter, and they have talked about that, so you might want to look back at what they’ve said.
And finally, we close with a nice juicy one.
Q Scott, the House ignored the President’s veto threat and voted to ease the restriction on stem cell research. It looks like John Bolton’s nomination will go to the Senate floor, but it’s the Senate Republicans urging its colleagues not to vote for the nominee. And the President is having problems getting his Social Security package, even among — even facing resistance among some members of his own party. Is there a concern about sort of an onset of lame duck status around here?