Today on Athenae’s Obsession with Filling In For Holden

Scottie says don’t worry. Don’t worry about anything at all. Nobody in the White House is worried about anything, so don’t you concern yourself, either.

Don’t worry about Syria’s SCUD missle launches:

Q Scott, on Syria, do you believe that it was just an accident that those scud missiles were fired? That’s apparently what the Turkish foreign minister was reassured by the Syrians, that it was just an accident. What do you think?

MR. McCLELLAN: We’re aware of the missiles that were launched, and I think I’ll just leave it at that.

Q Do you think it was just an accident?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think I’ll just leave it at that. I don’t think we have anything further to add to it.

Don’t worry about campaign contributions from criminals:

Q Scott, there was a published report this morning that the President had decided to return $4,000 in campaign contributions he received from Tom Noe, the rare coin dealer in Ohio who is under investigation, but that he did not plan to return some $100,000 in other people’s contributions that Mr. Noe had helped raise. Is that true, and why draw the distinction between them?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that there are some serious allegations that have been raised against this individual. They have raised concerns with people in Ohio, they have raised concerns with the White House. And the President felt it was the right thing to return those contributions that came directly from him.

Q But why not the additional contributions that Mr. Noe had raised?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, those are from other individuals, and in the past, I think the campaign, if you’ll go back and look, has returned contributions from individuals that maybe have been convicted of crimes, and so forth. And this one is certainly a unique situation that raises some very serious allegations and we felt it was the right thing to do to return the contributions that he had made to the campaign.

Don’t worry about unsecured missile sites in Iraq, either, especially not those looted after we took over the country:

Q Scott, you mentioned proliferation before as a concern with Prime Minister Blair. There’s a report out from UNMOVIC, their quarterly report about the situation in Iraq, and they have found evidence of additional sites that have been completely looted, including sites related to the production of missile propellants and other missile technology which had been programs Saddam had running for some time.

MR. McCLELLAN: Right.

Q It looks like most of this looting happened after the American occupation began. Can you explain to us why it is that there’s been so much difficultly in securing, in the aftermath of the invasion, more than two years ago now, sites that the U.N. had clearly marked before the invasion as related to missile technologies?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not sure that I necessarily agree with your assessment, but I would encourage you to go back and look at the Duelfer report, because he talked specifically about some of these issues. But in terms of our coalition forces and the Iraqi government, the transitional government now, we have been working closely with the government in Iraq to ensure that Iraq’s former weapons of mass destruction personnel and proliferation materials do not contribute to proliferation programs in other countries. So we have worked to make sure that there is priority put on sites and that those work to — work with the transitional government to make sure that those sites are secure and safe.

Now in terms —

Q The report seems to suggest that 85 percent of those are already gone.

MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on. Hang on, let me back up, let me back up, because I think you should go back and read what Charles Duelfer said, because he talked about it in his report and said that his sense was that any looting was the work of uncoordinated elements. Now remember, the former regime had sites all across the country where they were hiding materials. And it was Duelfer’s sense, as he reported, that any looting was the work of uncoordinated elements rather than directed at an effort to try to export equipment to a country that might obtain or have a weapons of mass destruction program.

And he went on to say in his report that if — and this is a quote — “If Iraq could get this equipment, then other countries could, as well, and would you buy a used piece of equipment from a country which had just been invaded in that war? Probably not,” is what his assessments were — his assessment was. So you might want to go back and look at his report. These are quarterly reports by UNMOVIC, and — as you indicated at the top. These are items — those items that are not on any of the international control list, in particular, could easily be obtained elsewhere. So I think you ought to look at what his assessment was.

And whatever you do, DEFINITELY don’t worry about potentially hijacked jets:

Q Can I verify two things, just because I’m not sure I can hear you. Where was the President when he was informed about the Virgin Atlantic jet, and, two —

MR. McCLELLAN: On the ranch, doing work on the ranch.

Q He was out doing ranch work?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes.

Sleep tight, everybody!

A.