Q Do you have any tick-tock on the policy pick? When did the President reach out to him?
MR. SNOW: Yes, the tick-tock is the two of them met on the 20th of May and there was a conversation, and Hank Paulson accepted the job a day later. That was subject to clearance. It does take time, especially for a Senate-confirmable position, to complete those, so it did take time to get some of those clearances wrapped up.
Q So that’s why there’s been no announcement between May 21st and —
MR. SNOW: Correct.
Q I’m a little bit confused on the tick-tock. You said that the job was offered to Mr. Paulson on May 20th, and they accepted the process on the 21st.
MR. SNOW: That is correct.
Q So we’re talking more than a week ago. The President last week, when he was asked if he was — how he was going to deal with Mr. Snow, said, well, I guess — he said, he’s going to offer his resignation to me, and then went on to say he’s a — good job. This was something that was in play obviously before that, so in terms of its filling a vacancy, which is how you characterized it a minute ago, it wasn’t a vacancy, it was switching a person, wasn’t it?
MR. SNOW: No, he said, he’s not talked to me about resignation. That does not mean that there were not other discussions. I mean, it was artfully worded. But on the other hand, the one thing you do not want to do in a situation like this is to start speculating about changes before the changes are ready to be made. Those do have impacts on markets, and you have to be responsible and cautious in the way you deal with them. Again, at that point, Hank Paulson — you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got all the clearances taken care of.
Q Just one other follow-up on Carl about Secretary Snow. When the President was asked, when he was standing next to Prime Minister Blair, and millions of people watching, he was telling the American people that “I’ve got no indication the Secretary is going to resign” —
MR. SNOW: No, no. Here’s — “No, he has not talked to me about resignation.” I mean, it was very carefully worded, but, again, what you didn’t want to have, I think, is it appearing at a time when you don’t have — when you haven’t finished doing your clearances for the Treasury — the person you want to fill that position. You don’t want to have chaos in the markets. It was —
Q He’s already offered it to somebody, he’s got to have had — I mean, you offer these positions all the time and wait for FBI background searches that sometimes take a long time. I mean, the Supreme Court nominees take six weeks, but you still announce to the public when you pick somebody.
MR. SNOW: But, you know, again, Hank Paulson, at that time, you don’t announce somebody that hasn’t been pre-cleared; you haven’t finished the clearance process, you don’t announce it, period. I mean, it’s just not —
Q If not even announcing him, you could have at least — you could have been direct and said, we’re expecting —
MR. SNOW: With all due respect, I think there was some concern, again, about how something like that affects the markets. If you have uncertainty for an extended period of time, which would have been at that point four or five days, I think that is something that you’ve got to worry about and you’ve got to be responsible in dealing with it.
The lies continue, Read More…
Pony Blow admits to another Assministration lie.
Q Can I ask you a quick question on — did the Attorney General ever directly tell the President that he was threatening to resign over the Jefferson raid?
MR. SNOW: I don’t believe so, but — in fact, no, he didn’t. That much I’ve been — yes.
Blow’s patronizing fratboy humor will not win Helen’s trust.
Q Why did the President pick a man who is so contemptible of the public servants in Washington to be his Domestic Advisor — saying, “People in Washington are morally repugnant, cheating, shifty human beings”? Why would he pick such a man to be a Domestic Advisor?
MR. SNOW: You meant contemptuous, as opposed to contemptible, I think.
Q Pure contempt.
MR. SNOW: Well, I’m not sure it’s pure contempt. I know Karl Zinsmeister pretty well, and he is somebody who expresses himself with a certain amount of piquancy — you’re perhaps familiar with that, aren’t you, Helen? And so, as a consequence, from time to time he’s going to say — he’ll have some sharp elbows.
Q If this is his attitude toward public servants —
MR. SNOW: No, I don’t think it’s his attitude toward public servants — it may have been toward the press. Just kidding. No, I — look, if you look at the bulk of what Karl Zinsmeister has done at The American Enterprise and elsewhere, I think you’re going to find somebody who’s done some pretty meaty and interesting research on a variety of topics. The reason he’s being brought in is that he’s —
Q Do you agree with his assessment of Washington?
MR. SNOW: I’m not — there’s one sentence the guy wrote, and perhaps you may recall — yes?
Q Arrogant, morally repugnant, cheating, shifty — come on.
MR. SNOW: That’s a lot in one sentence, isn’t it? He just packed it right in.
Q So what is the attitude toward —
MR. SNOW: The attitude is we’re glad to have a guy on board who has breadth of knowledge, who has breadth of interest and of experience, and is going to bring —
Q No tolerance for other human beings.
MR. SNOW: Helen, tell you what, why don’t you get to know Karl, because I think you’re going to find out that to judge somebody —
Q Bring him on. (Laughter.)
MR. SNOW: — on the basis of one sentence is probably a little unfair.
Q How could it be unfair?
MR. SNOW: He’ll charm you.
Helen refuses to give him a break.
Q Tony, General McCaffrey has been somewhat critical of not only troop deployments in Iraq, but also the leadership of Secretary Rumsfeld. Was that subject raised in the meeting?
MR. SNOW: No. And what’s also interesting — because I spoke with the General a couple of weeks ago, he dropped by my office and spoke, and he’s put together a paper, portions of which have been published — at this point, he’s not ventilating any agreements or disagreements with the Secretary of Defense. He’s actually highly complimentary of what’s going on there. But he also has some practical concerns, especially as regards to —
Q — today?
MR. SNOW: I’m sorry, what?
Q Has he read the papers today, if he’s complimentary —
MR. SNOW: I’ll get to your question, because it’s a good one to take up, but permit me to finish — because I do like the question, Helen.
But he’s been complimentary of the men and women who are doing the fighting. And as a result — and, also, some of the developments he sees on the ground. General McCaffrey, he had some disagreements about what happened in the immediate aftermath in the spring of 2003, but I think you’re going to find that he’s been quite supportive.
Now, Helen, as to your question, nobody expects the war is going to be easy, and one of the things that is very obvious is that the President takes this very seriously, and so do the people in that room. You had a number of former military officers who do not take lightly the loss of life, or property, or anything else in Iraq. And it’s, frankly, one of the points, I suppose, of pride in the United States of America that we really do care about this. We care not only about our people, but also the people in Iraq, and that did come up.
Q So why is the killing going on?
MR. SNOW: Because it’s a war, and unfortunately, that’s what happens in wars. If there were some — if there were some way —
Q Why does he think we’re going to win?
MR. SNOW: Because — a couple of things. The President has faith in the power of freedom, not only as an idea, but also as a guiding principle. He also has faith in the men and women who are doing the fighting. Anybody who saw the speech that he gave yesterday at Arlington understands that he not only has faith, but a deep respect and admiration. He gets choked up every time he talks about it, because these are young men and women — like the group at West Point — these are all people who decided that they would go to the U.S. Military Academy after September 11th, 2001, knowing that it would be a time of war, possible peril to them, and they did it.
Q But Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.
MR. SNOW: Are we going to just hopscotch across these? I mean, the point here, Helen, is real simple.
Q You’re making points that —
MR. SNOW: I’m not making points about —
Q We all know they’re serving with great faith. The problem is, this killing goes on for three years and the President still cannot give a basic reason why we’re there.
MR. SNOW: Yes, he can, and he’s made it many times.
But the lying won’t stop.
Q When was the President first briefed about the events in Haditha?
MR. SNOW: When a Time reporter first made the call. Time began asking questions about it. He was briefed by Steve Hadley at the time and began asking questions then.
Q And then, after that, what’s been his personal involvement in —
MR. SNOW: Well, I’m not going to get into his personal involvement. I think it’s safe to — look, this is a Department of Defense issue. But I’ll tell you, here’s a safe characterization —
Q Has he taken a personal interest in this?
MR. SNOW: Well, of course. I think anybody who has heard the story has a personal interest in it. It’s impossible not to.
But the President also is allowing the chain of command to do what it’s supposed to do within the Department of Defense, which is to complete an investigation. The Marines are taking an active and aggressive role in this. And I had been told and was assured earlier today when I called about that when this comes out, all the details will be made available to the public. So we’ll have a picture of what happened.
Q On the briefing of the President about Haditha, you said Steve Hadley briefed him after Time had called asking questions about it. Was that a briefing by Steve Hadley that was already planned, or did he brief him because Time called up with questions?
MR. SNOW: Rather than get — I won’t overstep, I’ll have to find — I’ve given you the guidance I got, and I will try to find out specifically. My guess — well, I just don’t know.
Q Tony, on his joint news availability with the British Prime Minister, the President said he regretted Abu Ghraib, and, yet, no one was killed at Abu Ghraib [Of course this is not true, as Manadel al-Jamadi was tortured to death at Abu Ghraib.]. And we are on the edge here, apparently, of seeing the worst massacre since My Lai back during the Vietnam years. What kind of damage control are you and the President getting ready to put forward? And the second part of the question is, did the discussion of Haditha come up at that experts meeting today?
MR. SNOW: Second question first, Haditha did not come up at the experts. You don’t do damage control; what you try to do is find out what the facts are. And that’s what’s going on right now at the Department of Defense. And rather than trying to leap to any conclusion from the podium, let’s all wait. We’re all going to see this, and we’ll all be able to draw conclusions and we’ll all be able to learn from it. But I don’t even want to get into discussing such things as damage control. I think it’s all premature.
Q A follow-up. In addition to the President obviously being concerned and watching the outcome of the investigation — and there are two, as we understand it, one for the possible killing, and two, about the possible coverup — what is his personal mood as he talks to you and the other staff members? I mean, is this —
MR. SNOW: We have not — Ken, we need to find out what the facts are. So there have not been any long talks about this particular thing. Everyone wants to find out what happened. I mean, that’s the first thing, you want to find out what happened. And that’s true for everybody. I mean, we’ve all seen sort of the same stuff leaking out. But keep in mind, you’re getting little pieces here and little pieces there. We’re going to get a full picture, and then my guess is that you’ll get — I’ll be able to give you a pretty clear readout on where the President thinks we ought to go.