Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

In today’s gaggle coverage the last will be first. I say that because the very last series of questions in Scottie’s hoe-down today focused on the Plame investigation, and that’s what everyone wants to hear about so I moved it to the lead-off position.

Q Has any member of the President’s staff informed him that in recent days they have become a subject of the CIA leak investigation?

MR. McCLELLAN: First of all, that’s an ongoing investigation, too, and the President directed that we cooperate fully with that investigation. As part of cooperating fully, that means not commenting on it from here. And I’m not — I’m not aware of any —

Q It’s an administrative question, too, because —

MR. McCLELLAN: — I’m not aware of any new developments.

Q I’m sure the President would be interested to know if anybody has become —

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not aware of any new developments.

Thank you all.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled gaggle.

Scott, is the president out of his mind?

Q Scott, all this talk about a radical Islamic empire stretching from Europe across to southeast Asia, even some Republicans are saying that it has the appearance of the President trying to cover up bad policy in Iraq by unduly alarming people.

MR. McCLELLAN: I haven’t heard any Republicans say that. Do you have one in mind?

Q A couple in mind, yes.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, do you want to share them with me?

Q You can call them and ask them, but I’m just wondering what you think of that?

MR. McCLELLAN: I — you made a statement. I haven’t heard any Republican make such allegation. So I was just wondering where that came from.

Q Part of the eight. (Laughter.)

Q What’s your response to the allegation that you’re trying to cover up bad policy in Iraq by unduly alarming people?

MR. McCLELLAN: It’s an allegation by John Roberts.

Q Pardon me?

MR. McCLELLAN: Are you saying it’s an allegation by John Roberts?

Q It’s not my allegation, no.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, go and look at what the President said in his remarks. Today’s speech is one in a series of speeches that the President continues to make about the war on terrorism. It’s important to understand the nature of the enemy that we face. This is a determined and lethal enemy with a clear strategy. The President outlined that strategy in his remarks. He quoted some of the leaders of this radical ideology that they seek to spread. And he laid out very clearly what their strategy is. I think you can go and look at some of the propaganda and comments that terrorists have made, and it clearly shows what their strategy and what their goals and what their beliefs are.

[snip]

Q But again, does he really believe that they could take over western countries like Spain and France?

MR. McCLELLAN: That’s what their strategy — go back and look at what the President said in his remarks, because he clearly spelled out what their strategy is. I’m not sure that he characterized it the same way as you just did.

Q Does he think that’s realistic?

MR. McCLELLAN: Look at his remarks. They very much have a strategy —

Q He warned of a radical Islamic empire stretching from Spain to Indonesia.

MR. McCLELLAN: — much like the strategy of communism to dominate and intimidate the world.

Scott, is the president a liar?

Q Scott, more on the speech. First, on that issue, obviously, after the “16 words incident” sometime ago, we are more interested than usual in having — seeing the footnotes that go with the speech. So just as a matter of maintaining credibility, it would be good if we could get at least outlines of the brief —

MR. McCLELLAN: I just pointed out some that are public, David, as a matter of record.

Q Of those — you pointed out two.

MR. McCLELLAN: It’s unfortunate that you make such a comparison, so —

Q Of the two that you pointed out, one was Padilla and the other was the New York bridge. Were you considering those to be two of the three incidents within the U.S. that he was referring to?

MR. McCLELLAN: Those were incidents within the United States.

Q Okay, so those count as two of the three. So there’s only one left that you have not described that he was referring to when he said, “breaking up three incidents in the U.S.”

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, that’s very good deduction on your part.

Q Making sure we all understand what it is that we’ve got. So you’ve got one incident that you’re saying is remaining classified, you cannot describe, within the U.S.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I didn’t say that. I said, those are two examples right off the top of my head of examples that it would be referring to in his remarks.

Now, in terms of the rest of the information, some of that information, for very important reasons, remains classified, because it goes to sources and methods and things of that nature as we continue to wage this war on terrorism. Now, we want to be able to provide you with as much as is available publicly, or that we can make available publicly, and we’ll work to do that.

Scott, are you a liar?

Q One more question on the speech. In telling us yesterday that this was going to be a significant speech, you said that the President was going to speak in unprecedented detail. What parts of the speech did you have in mind?

MR. McCLELLAN: About the first half of it. When he talked about the nature of the enemy.

Q Right, but his points were things that we’ve heard him say many times before: that the enemy is determined —

MR. McCLELLAN: He’s never spoken in that much detail about the nature of the enemy, like he did today. He has spoken about the nature of the enemy, you’re correct. But he spoke in very specific and detailed ways about the nature of the enemy, their strategy and their ambitions and their goals and their beliefs.

Maybe you missed the first half of the speech, but I would encourage you to go back and look at it and I’ll be glad for you to come up and show me where he talked about all those things before.

Q That’s a little gratuitous to suggest I wasn’t listening, Scott, don’t you think?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I’m sorry about that, Mark.

Q I listened —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, then, it sure didn’t seem like it, because I think most people in this room recognize that it was much greater detail that he talked about than ever before.

Q Care for a show of hands on that? (Laughter.)

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure. (Laughter.)

Scott, this president guy — he’s fucking nuts, right?

Q Have you ever heard the President say that God told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq and —

MR. McCLELLAN: No, and I’ve been in many meetings with him and never heard such a thing.

Q Are you aware of the — there’s a BBC broadcast tonight that’s quoting the Palestinian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister as saying that they were in a meeting with the President in June of ’03, and there are some very detailed quotes here, saying that the President said to them, “God told me, ‘George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan,’ and I did,” and then “God told me, ‘George go and end the tyranny in the Iraq'” and so forth and so on?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, that’s absurd. He’s never made such comments.

Q Were you in the meeting when that took place?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’ve been in meetings with him with President Abbas; I didn’t travel on that trip, if you’re talking about to Jordan. But I’ve been in many meetings with the President with world leaders where he’s talked about this.

Q So you don’t know about the June ’03 meeting?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I checked into that report and I stand by what I just said.