Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Jeebus, what a gaggle. Little Scottie was leaking oil and throwing bolts all over the James S. Brady Briefing Room. Click the link and read the entire transcript to catch Scottie spinning on Miers and getting called on the carpet for not answering questions.

UPDATE: Crooks & Liars has the video gaggle.

For now I’ll focus on Chimpy’s little chat with the TV and the Plame case, but today’s gaggle is target-rich.

First, Scottie plays dumb.

Q Scott, why did the administration feel it was necessary to coach the soldiers that the President talked to this morning in Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re suggesting.

Q Well, they discussed the questions ahead of time. They were told exactly what the President would ask, and they were coached, in terms of who would answer what question, and how they would pass the microphone.

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m sorry, are you suggesting that what our troops were saying was not sincere, or what they said was not their own thoughts?

Q Nothing at all. I’m just asking why it was necessary to coach them.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, in terms of the event earlier today, the event was set up to highlight an important milestone in Iraq’s history, and to give the President an opportunity to, once again, express our appreciation for all that our troops are doing when it comes to defending freedom, and their courage and their sacrifice. And this is a satellite feed, as you are aware, and there are always technological challenges involved when you’re talking with troops on a satellite feed like this. And I think that we worked very closely with the Department of Defense to coordinate this event. And I think all they were doing was talking to the troops and letting them know what to expect.

Here’s where Scottie is zinged for lying.

Q But we asked you specifically this morning if there would be any screening of questions or if they were being told in any way what they should say or do, and you indicated no.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t think that’s what the question was earlier today. I think the question earlier today was asking if they could ask whatever they want, and I said, of course, the President was — and you saw —

Q And I asked if they were pre-screened.

MR. McCLELLAN: You saw earlier today the President was trying to engage in a back-and-forth with the troops.

[snip]

Q But I also asked this morning, were they being told by their commanders what to say or what to do, and you indicated, no. Was there any prescreening of —

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not aware of any such — any such activities that were being undertaken. We coordinated closely with the Department of Defense. You can ask if there was any additional things that they did. But we work very closely with them to coordinate these events, and the troops can ask the President whatever they want. They’ve always been welcome to do that.

One thing Scottie hates to do is define the president’s terms. Especially if the gaggler asking the question is Helen Thomas.

Q What does the President mean by “total victory” — that we will never leave Iraq until we have “total victory”? What does that mean?

MR. McCLELLAN: Free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East, because a free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will be a major blow to the ambitions —

Q If they ask us to leave, then we’ll leave?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m trying to respond. A free and democratic Iraq in the heart of the broader Middle East will be a major blow to the ambitions of al Qaeda and their terrorist associates. They want to establish or impose their rule over the broader Middle East — we saw that in the Zawahiri letter that was released earlier this week by the intelligence community.

Q They also know we invaded Iraq.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Helen, the President recognizes that we are engaged in a global war on terrorism. And when you’re engaged in a war, it’s not always pleasant, and it’s certainly a last resort. But when you engage in a war, you take the fight to the enemy, you go on the offense. And that’s exactly what we are doing. We are fighting them there so that we don’t have to fight them here. September 11th taught us —

Q It has nothing to do with — Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, you have a very different view of the war on terrorism, and I’m sure you’re opposed to the broader war on terrorism. The President recognizes this requires a comprehensive strategy, and that this is a broad war, that it is not a law enforcement matter.

Terry Moran comes to Helen’s defense.

Q On what basis do you say Helen is opposed to the broader war on terrorism?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, she certainly expressed her concerns about Afghanistan and Iraq and going into those two countries. I think I can go back and pull up her comments over the course of the past couple of years.

Q And speak for her, which is odd.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I said she may be, because certainly if you look at her comments over the course of the past couple of years, she’s expressed her concerns —

Q I’m opposed to preemptive war, unprovoked preemptive war.

MR. McCLELLAN: — she’s expressed her concerns.

Back to Scottie’s lies.

Q All right. Let me get back to the President’s encounter with the troops, if I can. You said that the choreography of this was because of a technological challenge involved in the satellite feed. Well, what does that mean?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I’m just saying that there — you have delays and things like that when you have a satellite feed, and so, obviously, there’s going to be some coordination going on when you’re setting up an event like this.

Q So the choreography —

MR. McCLELLAN: I think you’re missing the broader point of what this event was about. And what this event was about was to highlight an important milestone in the history of Iraq: that is the upcoming referendum.

[snip]

Q So you’re saying this was not a staged conversation for PR purposes?

MR. McCLELLAN: This is an event where there’s coordination that goes on and we work closely with the Department of Defense. They worked to pull together some troops for the President to visit with and highlight important topics that are going on right now on the ground in Iraq.

[snip]

I just don’t know if some are suggesting that what our troops were saying was not their own thoughts, because it clearly was.

Now watch as Scottie clumsily backpedals.

Q Now, we all saw the event, so without getting into what the President said and what the troops said, can you just talk specifically to the choreography? Did the soldiers know what questions they would be asking? Did they —

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I really can’t, because we coordinate this with the Department of Defense, and you might want to direct questions to the Department of Defense, because when we do these events — we appreciate all the help that they provide — the Department of Defense takes the lead in terms of pulling some troops together so that we can do events like this.

Q So you, personally, do not know if those soldiers rehearsed their answers before they were on air, live?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, my understanding is that someone from the Department of Defense was talking to them ahead of time. But I don’t know — I was with the President, so —

Q Can you find out what the answer is?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I think you might want to talk to the Department of Defense. Like I said, they’re kind of the point person in terms of coordinating this with our troops. And we appreciate all that they do to help coordinate an event like this. But I think what the American people heard was some very important information from our men and women in uniform. These are men and women who are on the ground in Iraq, and I think we can get caught up in some of these side issues — because that’s all this is — but let’s talk about what was most important. What’s important is that the Iraqi people are going to the polls this weekend, and they’re going to vote on a constitution in a free Iraq. Just three years ago, the Iraqi people were under a brutal, oppressive dictator, a dictator that killed thousands and thousands of people.

Now that Scottie has admitted he’s a liar, Helen takes another stab at the truth.

Q How many have we killed?

MR. McCLELLAN: We’ve liberated 25 million, both in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

Q How many have we killed?

[snip]

MR. McCLELLAN: Helen — I’m sorry, Bob, I just can’t let this go — our men and women in uniform go out of their way not to target innocent civilians. They go out of their way to target those who are enemies and to bring them to justice. They are making the world safer for our children and grandchildren.

And we’re back to defining terms..

Q Scott, earlier you defined total victory in Iraq as a free and democratic Iraq. Is Iraq now not free and democratic?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m sorry?

Q Is Iraq now not free and democratic?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think you know what I’m talking about there. I’m talking about a free and democratic Iraq that is able to defend itself. That’s what we’re working to accomplish in Iraq.

Onward to Plame: Will Chimpy fire an indicted traitor?

Q Would the President allow a staffer who’s been indicted to continue to serve?

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me correct you. I will be glad to talk about it once it’s come to a conclusion.

Q But today.

MR. McCLELLAN: You’re saying that I don’t want to talk about it. I will be glad to once it comes to a conclusion. I don’t know all the facts. I want this to come to a successful conclusion.

Q But you’ve said you’re not going to talk about it because it’s an ongoing investigation. What I’m just asking is, in general, would the President allow an indicted staffer to remain in the White House?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has addressed these issues, and, again, you’re asking a question relating to an ongoing investigation, and you’re asking in the context of —

Q Can you just remind us of the answers, because I’m —

MR. McCLELLAN: — someone who you’re all reporting may be going back to testify, and I’m just not going to get into that kind of speculation.

Okay, now, back to you. I’m sorry, they’re going back and forth.

Q You say you can’t wait to be able to talk about this. Why?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m sorry?

Q You said that you just can’t wait —

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I said I’ll be glad to talk about it once it’s done.

Q You said you can’t wait to be able to.

MR. McCLELLAN: I said I’ll be glad to talk about it, and I look forward to that opportunity, once it’s completed.

How much longer can Scottie take this sort of abuse? I predict that once the Plame indictments are handed out we will see a mass exodus from the White House, and Little Scottie will be one of the first ones out the door. He’ll probably go back to Texas to work on his serially-wedded mom’s floundering gubernatorial campaign.