Yesterday saw Terrence Trent d’Uffy subbing for the neverpresent Little Scottie, and new revelations about the Chimpster’s extra-constitutional snooping had Trent clamming up and backing up.
Q To follow up on last week, you know that New York Times story that talked about the NSA, and how the government was doing much broader surveillance than the White House has acknowledged. Are you familiar with that story?
MR. DUFFY: Yes, I saw the story. We’ll be declining to comment on any specific operational details.
Q If I could just follow up on that for a second. In the briefing we had at the White House last — a week ago, Monday, I think it was General Hayden who said at that time that the technology of the program was such that you could only pick up international calls. And he seemed to suggest at the time that a broader program would not have been technologically possible, even if authorized. Your unwillingness to go repeat that, and not discuss the operational details after the story might be interpreted as suggesting that General Hayden’s comment no longer stands. Would that be reasonable?
MR. DUFFY: I don’t think so. I pointed back to the briefing on Friday by General Gonzales and also by General Hayden. I have nothing more to add to it. I mean, his comments stand. I’m declining to go into any specific operational aspects of the program because General Hayden and General Gonzales briefed on it and I don’t have anything more to say. That’s all.
Q Was the President accurate in the news conference when he said that the eavesdropping program only focuses narrowly on people with al Qaeda ties or affiliates?
MR. DUFFY: Yes, the President was accurate.
Q And one more question. UPI is reporting that the reason why — let me find it real quick. That the reason — that the U.S. decided to skip seeking warrants for international wiretaps because the court was challenging President Bush at an unprecedented rate.
MR. DUFFY: I’m sorry, can you say that again, Jessica?
Q That the reason U.S. President George Bush decided to skip seeking warrants for international wiretaps was because the court was challenging him at an unprecedented rate.
MR. DUFFY: The President has already addressed how this program was done within the law, and I don’t have anything more to add to that.
Q So no comment on the specific of — was the President being challenged at an unprecedented rate?
MR. DUFFY: I’ll leave it where the President left it in his news conference.
Q When the President said that — described this program the way he did in his news conference, did he mean to suggest that it is only limited to eavesdropping on ongoing phone calls, or did he not mean to sort of limit it to just that? I mean, the impression that he left was that the program is just about eavesdropping on conversations as they happen.
MR. DUFFY: I’ll have to get back to you on that question, Dana. I’ll take that.