Today the gagglers are still trying to find out how deeply involved Chimpy is in the Haditha cover-up.
Q Do you happen to know when or whether Donald Rumsfeld first spoke with the President about Haditha?
MR. SNOW: Hang on a second. I’ve got a timetable and I will try to get you a date here. Let me — if you’ll permit. Or do I?
Q And also, when the Secretary of Defense first knew.
MR. SNOW: I think, again — I will get back to you because I do have a tick-tock on Haditha. And the characterization I’ve received — obviously, there was a report, I believe on November 19th — was that the date? There was a follow-on sort of account on the 20th or the 21st. So in that sense, people knew about Haditha. But I think the concern about subsequent reports of people being massacred or people being killed, that really was stimulated by reporters’ inquiries, which came, I believe in January.
Q There have already been serious allegations of, at best, foot dragging, and at worst, a coverup. Why not get out ahead of the curve, go on the offense, and just appoint an independent inquiry?
MR. SNOW: Because the Marines are actually conducting an inquiry and it’s a very vigorous one. I would ask you to suspend any judgment about what happens….
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Pony Blow says increased violence in Iraq and Afghanistan was expected all along.
Q How does the White House characterize this recent escalation of violent activity both in Afghanistan and Iraq? Is it part of a pattern, or just some that —
MR. SNOW: I think it could probably be both. For instance, take the case of Afghanistan. We have recently had the turnover from U.S. forces to some coalition forces, especially in the south, and you could interpret some of what’s going on as testing. This happens.
The other thing is we have just had a successful transfer of government — or the inauguration of the government of Prime Minister Maliki in Iraq, and again, as we’ve said at many junctures, when you get these key points, what’s going to happen is the people who do not have a vested interest in a free democracy in Iraq are going to do everything they can to test it. And we have seen terrorist spikes around elections, around the announcement of elections, and around a formation of government.
So I think in some ways — I hate to say that they are predictable, but these are things that do happen in a time of war, and especially in a time when you’re seeing the Taliban trying to assert itself in the southern regions of Afghanistan.
Next Pony invents a new word while contradicting Dear Leader.
Q Tony, can I ask you about Iraq? It was a year ago today that Vice President Cheney said that the insurgency there was in its last throes, and now we have this latest Pentagon assessment saying that the insurgency is going to remain steady, the strength will remain steady through the rest of this year. How does the administration reconcile —
MR. SNOW: Well, there was a time when — and I don’t want to try to back-interpret what the Vice President said, but let me just offer at least one view on it, which is, for a long time, when we talked about insurgency — that is, “we,” generally, Americans — we thought of al Qaeda. And I think it’s pretty safe to say that the al Qaeda and the foreign fighters remnant presence in Iraq has been dramatically reduced, such that, at least, in the opinions of people there, it is no longer the major factor when it comes to what’s going on. Now you do have former members of the Saddam regime and you do have Iraqi citizens who are in entrenched opposition and are using terror and other tactics to try to derail democracy.
Again, I don’t want to try to back-interpret what the Vice President said. But I do think that one of the significant changes from the weeks and months after the end of major combat activities in Iraq and today is that that al Qaeda presence has been dramatically, very dramatically reduced — but it does mean that we still do have opposition within former elements.
So when Dick said the “insurgency is in its last throes” he really meant al Qaed in Iraq is in its last throes? That’s not what Chimpy said last week.
You know, al Qaeda has made it clear what their intentions are in Iraq. I’m sure you’ve read some of the intercepts that are laid out there for people to see. And they have made it clear that it’s just a matter of time for countries like Great Britain and the United States to leave. In other words, if they make life miserable enough, we’ll leave. And they want us to leave because they want a safe haven from which to launch attacks, not only on us, but on moderate Muslim governments, as well. These people are totalitarians. They’re Islamic fascists. They have a point of view, they have a philosophy, and they want to impose that philosophy on the rest of the world. And Iraq just happens to be a — one of the battles in the war on terror.
And Tony brings up a good point: Why are they resisting so hard, what is it about democracy they can’t stand? Well, what they can’t stand about democracy is this: Democracy is the exact opposite of what they believe. They believe they can impose their will, they believe there’s no freedom of religion, they believe there’s no women’s rights. They have a — they have a dark vision of the world, and that’s why they’re resisting so mightily.
And in Your Daily Les we observe that it took less than a month before Pony got his fill of Lester.
Q Yes, Tony, two questions. According to researcher Deborah Sherman Coughlin (phonetic), of the Violent Crimes Institute in Atlanta, 240,000 illegal alien sex offenders in the United States have had an average of four victims each, making nearly 1 million sex crimes perpetrated by illegals. My question: Is the President aware of this research? And would it make him more likely to make border security the cornerstone of his immigration reform?
MR. SNOW: Lester, what you have got to — what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to send me advance — let’s do an early warning system for Lester so that when you come up with these fairly obscure stories and studies, that I have an opportunity to look into it. Because that one, I’ve got no clue. I’m serious —
Q You will pursue it, though?
MR. SNOW: Of course. One of things you have to do is to figure out whether these are legitimate pieces of research or whether they’re — and I can’t characterize it.