Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Pony Blow is in da’ housze. But you wouldn’t know it from a casual glance at today’s gaggle transcript as it still sports an image of Little Scottie’s face by the video link.

Helen Thomas gives Pony a thorough going-over.

Q The President today denied he’d ever broken the law in terms of wiretaps. He also indicated that anything that was looked into, any calls, had some sort of foreign aspect either to or from. And he has said he’s always obeyed the law. Are all of these stories untrue that we’ve been reading for the last several days that millions of Americans have been wiretapped?

MR. SNOW: Well, let’s —

Q Are the phone calls turned over to the government?

MR. SNOW: Okay, let’s try to segregate the stories here. What he’s said about the terror surveillance program is that these are foreign-to-domestic calls and they were all done within the parameters of the law. He has not commented on the —

Q He, himself, has said he didn’t obey that law.

MR. SNOW: No, he didn’t. What he said is that he has done everything within the confines of the law. The second thing is, you’re mentioning a USA Today story about which this administration has no comment. But I would direct you back to the USA Today story itself, and if you analyze what that story said, what did it say? It said there is no wiretapping of individual calls, there is no personal information that is being relayed. There is no name, there is no address, there is no consequence of the calls, there’s no description of who the party on the other end is.

Q Privacy was breached by turning over their phone numbers.

MR. SNOW: Well, again, you are jumping to conclusions about a program, the existence of which we will neither confirm, nor deny.

Q Why? Don’t you think the American people have a right to know —

MR. SNOW: Because — what’s interesting is, there seems to be a notion that because the President has talked a little bit about one surveillance program and one matter of intelligence gathering, that somehow we have to tell the entire world we have to make intelligence gathering transparent. Let me remind you, it’s a war on terror, and there are people — I guarantee you, al Qaeda does not believe —

Q He doesn’t have a right to break the law, does he?

MR. SNOW: No, the President is not talking about breaking the law. But al Qaeda doesn’t believe in transparency. What al Qaeda believes in is mayhem, and the President has a constitutional obligation and a heartfelt determination to make sure we fight it.

Q — to obey the Constitution —

MR. SNOW: Absolutely right.

Q — the Fourth Amendment —

MR. SNOW: Absolutely right, and he believes in obeying it.

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From Holden:

Later, when ABC’s Martha Raddatz follows up on Helen’s question Pony falls into his own trap regarding polls.

Again, I would take you back to the USA Today story, simply to give you a little context. Look at the poll that appeared the following day. While there was — part of it said 51 percent of the American people opposed, if you look at when people said, if there is a roster of phone numbers, do you feel comfortable that — I’m paraphrasing and I apologize — but something like 64 percent of the polling was not troubled by it. Having said that, I don’t want to hug the tar baby of trying to comment on the program — the alleged program — the existence of which I can neither confirm nor deny.

Q But there are polls that show Americans are very concerned about it.

MR. SNOW: The President — you cannot run a security — you cannot base national security on poll numbers. As the President of the United States you have to make your own judgments about what is in the nation’s best interest.

Q You just brought it up, though.

MR. SNOW: Well, I did bring it up because what you were talking about is how people were concerned about privacy issues, and I tried to relate to you what happened. It was interesting, when people were given the specifics in that story, they did not seem to be terribly troubled.

Q We are now.

Blow paints himself into another corner on Chimpy’s immigration proposals.

Q Do you have any reaction to Governor Schwarzenegger’s comments that the border state governors were not consulted about the President’s immigration proposal, about the troops on the border, and that they don’t like the idea?

MR. SNOW: Well, governors are going to have different opinions. And I think also, as people again begin to be read into the program, let’s see what they have to say. Obviously, we take seriously what Governor Schwarzenegger has to say about the issue. There was consultation on the staff level, and I guarantee you there will be consultation on the principals level, as well.

Give you another example. Governor Richardson of New Mexico has been saying that he would like to see more Border Patrol agents placed on the border. Well, guess what — that’s the heart and soul of the President’s proposal.

So I think what’s going to happen is that there will be continued dialogue with the governors and with staffs. You’ve got to keep in mind that as the Commander-in-Chief of California, in effect, Governor Schwarzenegger will have the opportunity to request National Guard support to free up Border Patrol agents to work on the border.


Q The White House has not reached out to him specifically before the President made —

MR. SNOW: The White House — there was consultation between the White House and gubernatorial offices. I’ll just leave it at that.


Q Tony, it sounds as though the President did not talk to any of the border state governors, himself, is that correct?

MR. SNOW: I’m not going to engage in on deliberations. I honestly am not sure. I know for a fact that there was staff contact. I don’t know if the President called the governors.

Q How about with the Hill? Did the President — or was it all left to the staff?

MR. SNOW: There, again, I’m not going to get into what the President did or didn’t do.

Q Thanks, Tony. You just a second ago said you guarantee it’s going to go to conference. So you already know that the Senate is going to pass this?

MR. SNOW: Okay, you know what, I was being presumptuous here. (Laughter.) But I think that there is — again, I think there’s a good chance — if you talk to people on the Hill, it looks as if the Senate has put together a series of rules. But you’re absolutely right. I overstepped and should not be making predictions about what the Senate will do, and we’ll leave it to the senators, themselves.

A victim of his past..

Q Tony, Fox News, and specifically “The O’Reilly Factor,” has aired video of the Mexican military assisting coyotes smuggle people across the border. How could the President call Vicente Fox in Mexico an ally in this immigration issue with corruption that extends all the way to the military?

Buh-Bye, Karl.

Q Has Karl Rove told the President that he will resign if he is indicated in the Valerie Plame affair?

MR. SNOW: I am not going to comment at all on Karl Rove and his private communications with the President, nor am I going to comment on what may or may not happen.

Finally, in Your Daily Les, Kinsolving asks the rubber question again.

Q Tony, as the only other talk radio host in this room, I’d like to ask you as a former colleague a brief, one-part question. (Laughter.) Congresswoman Maloney of New York and 43 others in the House have written the President, and this is the fourth time with no response from him, to ask, is the President opposed to contraception or not?

MR. SNOW: Well, thank you, that’s — (laughter) —

Q Thank you?

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q How does he stand?

MR. SNOW: The President does not share his private correspondence with members of Congress or others, and so I don’t have an answer for you, Lester.