Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Goddammit I can’t wait until Little Scottie drags his sorry ass back to Texas. Good thing Helen Thomas isn’t going anywhere.

Go ahead, Helen.

Q What does the President think of the Justice Department contemplating the use of espionage laws against reporters who find out secrets in this administration, like wire-tapping and secret prisons? And also, a second question is, do you know of anything about the infiltration of gangs, gang-style soldiers in the army in Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: Gang-style soldiers in the army in Iraq?

Q The Chicago Sun-Times has a story saying that many gang members are now in the army.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I haven’t read the report that you’re referring to. I think we have talked about the training and equipping of Iraqi security forces. There’s been substantial progress made. And one of the areas they focused on was to make sure that you had a military that is committed to the country and not committed to any individual militia.

Q Committed to the country, but they have been members of gangs and they formed sort of gangs in the army, apparently.

MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, so this is a different issue. I haven’t taken a look at that report.


Q How about my first question?

MR. McCLELLAN: Your first question — I think you’re going to issues relating to the leaking of classified information. Is that what you’re asking about?

Q Yes.

MR. McCLELLAN: The leaking of classified information is a very serious matter, and the President has spoken about that repeatedly. It is of particular concern when information is being leaked that could harm our nation’s security.

Q By finding out we have secret prisons for torture?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there are laws on the book, and I will let our law enforcement officials talk about the enforcement actions that they are taking.

Q But my question is, does the President support the use of these espionage laws against reporters who find out what’s going on?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President believes laws should be enforced, and he believes that the leaking of classified information that would be harmful to our nation’s security is a very serious matter.

A rare follow-up to Helen’s line of questioning can be found by clicking Read More…

From Holden:

What’s this? A gaggler has Helen’s back?

Q Scott, you’re talking about these stories that Helen raised, and the possible damage to national security. It’s been several months since both of those were released. Is there any evidence that national security has been damaged by either of those stories?

MR. McCLELLAN: You’re talking about the terrorist surveillance program? Absolutely. It shows the enemy our play book, Peter, and that is — when we are engaged in a war on terrorism —

Q Beyond the general concept that it shows the enemy our play book, is there any specific —

MR. McCLELLAN: We’re facing a different kind of enemy. And General Hayden has talked about how it has been harmful to our national security.

Q — anything that happened, specifically, that you can point to and say that happened because of this, or didn’t happen because of this?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think there are two issues you’re talking about. And people have talked about how it has been harmful to our nation’s security —

Q How? Can you point to any specific —

MR. McCLELLAN: Because it’s showing the enemy our play book. And what happens, when the enemy sees our play book, the enemy adjusts and adapts. This is a different kind of war we’re engaged in, against a very dangerous, determined and lethal enemy. And for people to leak information that shows them our play book is a serious matter —

Q Is there any evidence that they have —

MR. McCLELLAN: — and we take it very seriously. And our law enforcement officials are the ones that enforce the laws on the books.

Q Is there anything that shows us that they have, in fact, adapted or changed as a result of —

MR. McCLELLAN: I think General Hayden has talked about it, Peter. He’s our Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and I would encourage you to go back and look — he has talked about how this has been harmful.

The corps tries to clear up the waters Little Scottie muddied in the morning gaggle.

Q Scott, you talked earlier about the historical record, in terms of Jack Abramoff and his goings in and out of the White House, and the Secret Service is about to release that.

MR. McCLELLAN: That’s right.

Q Can you tell us about who would have the total historical record?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think the Secret Service maintains certain records, and there was a FOIA request, a Freedom of Information request of the Secret Service, and they’ll be providing the information that they maintained soon, and they’ll be talking more exactly about what those records are once they release them.

Q But who would have a larger historical record? Is it something you would have? Is it something — where would we go to find out the total story of him —

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I previously talked to you about it in this room, in terms of any meetings or large events that he may have attended here at the White House. And I don’t have any update beyond what I’m already said.

Q Would that be part of what the Secret Service would release, or is there something more?

MR. McCLELLAN: They will release the records that they maintain, and they’ll be talking to you more about that once they’re ready to release those records, which will be —

Q Which would include what you’ve already told us in the past —

MR. McCLELLAN: — which will be very soon.

Q — about staff meetings, receptions —

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I’m not sure that they have all that information. They have the records that they maintain, and they’ll be talking more about what those records are soon.

Q Scott, can I follow on that?

Q Today? Will they be putting it out today?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t know about today. I think they are required to do it under the agreement that they reached with Judicial Watch, I believe it was, by May 10th. So it would be in the next several days, if not sooner.


Q Scott, can you talk more about these Secret Service records? Do they not keep records of every single time somebody comes to the White House?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m not able to talk more about it because this is something that they’re pulling together and they’ll be releasing soon and they’ll be talking more about it once they release it.

Q You talked about it partially, so it sounds like you know what you’re talking about. You said it’s not a full historical record. So can you just give any more information about what you’re talking about —

MR. McCLELLAN: I think those are questions to direct to the Secret Service. I’m not sure that they’re prepared to talk about it yet, but they will be once the they release their records that they have.

Q Can I ask — one more try? Is it possible that if you come into the East Gate for a party, that’s not covered by the Secret Service, whereas if you come in on the other gate, you are? Is that what you’re talking about here?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let me let the Secret Service release the records, and they will brief you all on it at that point. Then we can talk more about it then.


Q Scott, this morning you cautioned us against viewing the Secret Service records of the Abramoff visits as a complete historical record. Are you trying to tell us that that’s going to be wholly inadequate, and offer a misleading picture of the contacts, and is there are a lot more that they are going to show in there?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I wouldn’t say that. What I’m telling you is that the Secret Service maintains certain records, and you should look at it in that context. I just want to make sure you have the clear expectations.

Q Are there a lot more visits — or were there a lot more visits than —

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t have any update beyond what I told you and reiterated to you this morning and told you previously, I think a few months ago.

Peter, go ahead.

Jose can you see?

Q Scott, I wonder — on Friday, the President firmly said he believes the National Anthem should be sung in English. Kevin Phillips, the Republican analyst, wrote a book called American Dynasty, and in there he claims that during the President’s 2000 campaign, he did sing the Star Spangled Banner in Spanish at some Hispanic festivals, various campaign events. Are you aware, do you recall that from the 2000 campaign?

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I don’t.

Q Do you think that that would be counter to what the President laid out on Friday?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don’t recall that, and I’m not going to try to speculate on something I haven’t looked into.

[Les chimes in]

Q Scott, a two-part. Since the President called for the National Anthem in English alone, do you believe there is no inconsistency in one version of the White House website being in Espanol?

MR. McCLELLAN: I’m sorry. I’m not sure exactly the connection that you’re trying to make.

Q Well, I just wondered if the National Anthem should be in English alone, why do you have a multilingual White House website?

MR. McCLELLAN: There are people in this country that come from all kinds of different heritages, and we should be celebrating people’s heritage. The President has, going back to his days as governor — maybe you were not paying attention in yesterday’s briefing — has talked about the importance of having an English-plus approach in America. That’s something that he advocated while he was governor, and that says that it’s important for people that come to this country to learn English, to be able to speak English, and to read and write in English. He also recognizes the importance of respect for people’s heritage. And that’s why, as governor, he talked about bilingual programs can be helpful if they’re working to achieve the result of helping people to learn this country’s language.

An excellent poll question.

Q Scott, you said the President is focused on results, not polls. At what point will he have to focus on polls if, in fact, they continue to drop, as they are doing?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I guess you all are going to stay focused on polls, and that’s what you can do. We’re going to keep getting things done for the American people.


I assume that you’re bringing up — “at what point will he pay attention to this” — I assume you’re bringing up the context of this an election year for members of Congress. And the elections have a tendency to really clarify what the choices are. And the President will continue to make clear what the choices are on the important priorities facing this country. That means the war on terrorism, it means our economy, and it means other issues, such as Medicare, which I mentioned earlier.

Q If the President continues to stay focused on results, but those results, themselves, result in lower and lower polls, at what point will he have to look at the results themselves?

MR. McCLELLAN: Let me make clear, the American people want their leaders in Washington to work together, to get things done on the important priorities facing this country and the big challenges facing this country. This President believes in solving problems and leading and working across the partisan isle to get things done. And that’s what he’s going to continue doing.

And I think that we’ll let the results speak for themselves. We’ll also let the choices speak for themselves. The President is going to continue to clearly articulate what the choices are for addressing these important priorities going forward.

Q Does he not think that a poll is a way for the American people to speak to him?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think they are snapshots in time. And there are important priorities that we’re working to address right now, and we’re achieving some meaningful results for the American people. And I think it’s important to talk about what the American people care most about, and that’s what this President is doing — not only talking about it, but acting on those important priorities.

And finally, Carl Cameron pulls a funny.

Q Thanks, Scott. This past Sunday Josh Bolten said that it was time for the White House to sort of begin to get its mojo back, and you’re going to have the President meeting with the congressional Republican leadership in the next couple of hours. Can you give us an idea of how the mojo renovation is going, the refreshing of it?