Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Uh-oh. Cheney is toast. How do I know that? Flash back to September 16, 2003:

Q On the Robert Novak-Joseph Wilson situation, Novak reported earlier this year — quoting — “anonymous government sources” telling him that Wilson’s wife was a CIA operative. Now, this is apparently a federal offense, to burn the cover a CIA operative. Wilson now believes that the person who did this was Karl Rove. He’s quoted from a speech last month as saying, “At the end of the day, it’s of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs.” Did Karl Rove tell that —

MR. McCLELLAN: I haven’t heard that. That’s just totally ridiculous. But we’ve already addressed this issue. If I could find out who anonymous people were, I would. I just said, it’s totally ridiculous.

Q But did Karl Rove do it?

MR. McCLELLAN: I said, it’s totally ridiculous.

Scottie used the “ridiculous” non-denial denial in regards to Dick Cheney’s culpability today. And you know that when Scottie calls a charge “ridiculous” then the charge is indeed true.

Q The President then stands by the Vice President’s account in September of —

MR. McCLELLAN: I think it’s a — frankly, I think it’s a ridiculous question, Terry, because —

Now let’s put that exchange incontext.

Q Scott, a couple of years ago, you told us that Scooter Libby and Karl Rove had nothing to do with the CIA leak. It appears that you may have gotten bad information before you made that statement. Now, today, we learn through extrapolation that when the Vice President said in September of 2003 that he didn’t know who said Joe Wilson to Niger to investigate the claims that Iraq was trying to buy yellow cake, that he was not speaking the truth. My question is: Can we be confident that when we hear statements from the White House in public that they are truthful?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think you can because you know that our relationship is built on trust, and I have earned that trust with you all. As you pointed out, you pointed back to some past comments that I gave and I’ve talked to you about the assurances that I’ve received on that.


Q But in terms of public trust, if it is true that Scooter Libby learned of Valerie Plame’s identity from Vice President Cheney in June of 2003, would that not mean then that the Vice President made a false statement three months later when he said he didn’t know who sent Wilson to Niger?

MR. McCLELLAN: I appreciate that. A couple of things. One, the question you bring up is relating to a matter that is under investigation. And secondly, as I pointed out, there is a great deal of speculation that is going on right now, and I would urge you not to engage in that speculation. But certainly, you are pursuing this story as you should. We will wait to see what the special prosecutor does and learn more about the facts at that point.

Q Are you not commenting on whether this report is accurate or not? Will you comment?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I’m not going to comment because it’s relating to an ongoing investigation; the story that you’re referencing relates to an ongoing investigation.

Q Given the fact that the Vice President did say publicly in September of 2003 that he never knew about Joe Wilson or who sent him, as John points out, and now there appears to be information to contradict that, how do you explain that contradiction?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, there’s an ongoing investigation. There are many facts that are not known. I would encourage you not to engage in speculation. And on top of that, if there’s any additional information that the Vice President’s Office wants to provide you, you can direct questions there. But the policy of this White House has been not to comment on this investigation while it’s ongoing. And it has been that way for some time.

Q Does that mean that if you had information that could help clear this up and perhaps make it look like something other than what it is, which is a contradiction, would you provide that, or would you hold that just because you don’t want to —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I said — I mean, if you want to ask any more from the Vice President’s Office, you’re welcome to do that, but —

Q Have you done that?

MR. McCLELLAN: — our policy has been that this is an ongoing investigation, we’re not going to comment on it. The special prosecutor is the one that has been gathering the facts related to it. But just because I’m not commenting on it doesn’t mean you should read anything into that one way or the other.

Q Have you attempted to clarify it with the Vice President’s Office?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, this is an ongoing investigation, and what the President directed us to do was to cooperate fully with the special prosecutor. And so, as part of doing that, we’ve been carrying out the President’s direction from the White House. That means — we’re not doing that ourselves, the special prosecutor is doing that.

Q So that’s, no, you have not sought clarification?

MR. McCLELLAN: So, no — no.

Q Does Vice President always tell the truth to the American people?


Q The President then stands by the Vice President’s account in September of —

MR. McCLELLAN: I think it’s a — frankly, I think it’s a ridiculous question, Terry, because —

Q Well, no, we now have reports that there are documents that directly contradict the public statement of the Vice President of the United States.

MR. McCLELLAN: Reports. The Vice President, like the President, is a straightforward, plainspoken person.


Q Can you give us — I have to ask — do you know if the Vice President talked to the President about Plame, or if the President may have talked to Tenet, himself, about Plame?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I appreciate the question, and it’s relating to an ongoing investigation. You need to direct questions to the special prosecutor.

Q But can you clear this up, though? You said that the Vice President always was truthful with the American people; yet here we have the appearance of an untruthful statement, based on this reported memo.

MR. McCLELLAN: I think it’s a ridiculous suggestion in the first place, John. That’s what I was responding to.

Another gaggle, another chance for Helen Thomas to slap Scottie around regarding Chimpy’s policy of torture.

Q You’ve already said the President is going to veto anything that would exempt us from torture. You have — this White House demeans —

MR. McCLELLAN: No, that’s not correct, that’s —

Q — you demean all Americans when you support torture. And your answer is so fuzzy —

MR. McCLELLAN: No, Helen, our answer is very clear, and that’s flat-out wrong what you’re suggesting, because this President has made it very clear what our policy is —

Q Didn’t you say that he would veto any part of that legislation of defense spending?

MR. McCLELLAN: We did express our views on that legislation, but it is not the way you characterized it, because there are laws and treaty obligations that are on the books. We adhere to those laws and treaty obligations.

Q No, you don’t. You are supporting torture.

MR. McCLELLAN: You are wrong. This is a — the United States is a country that —

Q Is the story in the paper today wrong?

MR. McCLELLAN: — believes in adhering to our laws and our values. And we do. And this President believes in abiding by our laws and our treaty obligations.

Q Why do we keep reading about torture then?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, if you’ll let me respond, I will. The President has made it very clear that he does not condone torture, nor would he ever authorize the use of torture —

Q Condone it, but does he allow it?

MR. McCLELLAN: — and our policy is to comply with our laws and our treaty obligations. That’s what we expect everyone to do. If there are ever instances of wrongdoing, we investigate and we follow through and hold people accountable.

Q That’s not the point. He should —

MR. McCLELLAN: Sure it is.

Q — come out flatly and say he was against torture.

MR. McCLELLAN: He has.

Go ahead.

And in your Daily Les, Kinsolving gets Scottie to confirm the president’s opposition to birth control.

Q Sure. New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and 31 other members of the House issued this statement yesterday: “We have a Supreme Court nominee who won’t even say if she supports a 40-year-old Supreme Court decision affirming women’s right to access birth control, and it is important the President tells the nation whether or not he opposes birth control, too.” And my question: Can you clarify whether or not he opposes birth control, too? Yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think the President has made his views known on this issue.

Q Why don’t you just clarify, yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: And what the focus has been from this administration is on promoting abstinence programs, that that ought to be on the same level as the education funding for teen contraception programs. And that’s what the President’s position has been, and I’ve stated to that previously. You’ve asked this question before. I disagree with the statement that was made regarding Harriet Miers. She is going to be going before the Senate Judiciary Committee in less than two weeks. She looks forward to answering their questions. And I think that people should not try to rush to judgment on it.