Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Today is Pony Blow’s birthday, but that doesn’t mean he gets to blow smoke up Helen Thomas’ skirt on the economy.

Q The President raved today about the economy. How much has been primed by the war, spending for the military industrial complex?

MR. SNOW: Not much, Helen. As a matter of fact, if you take a look — you’re trying to revive the guns for butter — the guns and butter argument. If you really want to take a look at the economy, go back and take a look at when tax cuts took effect.

Q — that’s a deficit argument.

MR. SNOW: Yes, and a lot of those have long since been discredited because they just don’t work.

Q Oh, really?

MR. SNOW: Yes. You take a look at the path of economic growth, and you will see that there has been a real relationship between tax cuts and economic growth in recent years, and also deficits.

Q And the war has nothing to do — war spending to the tune of $5 billion, $6 billion a month in Iraq?

MR. SNOW: In an economy that generates how many trillions of dollars of activity? No, it’s not a major factor in economic growth. What is a major factor in economic growth is continued investment on the part of Americans and businesses in an economy that continues to offer jobs to upwards of 140 million people.

Q But priming the war has nothing to do with it at all?

MR. SNOW: No. It is at best a minor factor, Helen.

You’ll find the Haditha “tick-tock” by clicking Read More…

From Holden:

Blow finally came up with his precious “tick-tock” today, and he managed to fuck it up right off the bat.

Yesterday I also promised a Haditha time line, and let me just lay that out for you as best I can. We’ve been trying to piece it together. As you know, on the 19th of November, there was an IED explosion in Haditha, killed one U.S. Marine and injured two. These were members of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. In subsequent hours, a number of Iraqis died. Press accounts say 24. The military did dispatch an exploitation team to come in, investigate the scene and document it.

The following day, the 2nd Marines released a preliminary report claiming that 15 Iraqis had been killed by an IED. On the 10th of March, Time Magazine inquired of military sources in Baghdad about the circumstances of the Haditha incident. General Chiarelli took the call and spoke with them. On the 14th he directed an investigation. He appointed an Army colonel to look into the facts and circumstances of the case. On the 3rd of March, the preliminary report was completed. It recommended further investigation.

Q You mean the 3rd of April?

MR. SNOW: No, 3rd of March.

Q Then do you mean Time Magazine inquired on the 2nd —

MR. SNOW: Let me go back — I’m sorry — let me go back. The dates are: Time Magazine — did I say March? Sorry — 10th of February. The 14th of February was the directing the investigation and the appointment of an Army colonel.

Now we get into March. March 3rd, the preliminary report was completed. It recommended further investigation. I’ll slow down here because I know you’re taking notes.

On the 9th, General Chiarelli received the initial findings of that preliminary investigation and he directed further review, which is ongoing.

The following day, the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff learned about it. On the 11th, the President received notification from the National Security Advisor. On the 12th, the Commanding General of the Multinational Force West, Richard Zilmer, appointed a Marine colonel to investigate reporting of information at all levels of the chain of command, and also requested a Naval Criminal Investigative Service inquiry.

The following day, that is the 13th of March, the initial NCIS team arrived in Haditha. On the 19th of March, General Chiarelli appointed Major General Bargewell to investigate two major aspects of what happened in Haditha: number one, training and preparation of Marines prior to the engagement; second, reporting of information concerning the incident at all levels of the chain of command. Time Magazine, that same day, published an Haditha piece.

The President, since then, has received regular information and briefings with the Secretary of Defense, who sometimes is accompanied also by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs — the most recent was late last week. And I think that is it. So we’ve tried to put together the time line, and that is what we have.

Yeah, yeah, whatever Tony. When was the White House informed?

Q Yes, Tony, I’ve got a couple. On the time line, the President was briefed by Steve Hadley on the 11th on March.

MR. SNOW: Yes, ma’am.

Q So on what date, then, did the Time Magazine reporter contact the White House?

MR. SNOW: As I understand it, the inquiry — the Time Magazine reporter contacted authorities in Baghdad back on the 10th of February. I do not have a time line for a White House contact.

Q Because yesterday I understood that contact had been made at the White House and it was subsequent to that.

MR. SNOW: Well, that would have been a misstatement on my part, which I now correct and retract.

So it took nearly three months for the president to make mention of this incident?

Q One question on the time line. The President was briefed the 11th of March, Time Magazine published the 19th of March — why did it take until yesterday for the President to say he was troubled by this?

MR. SNOW: Because I’m not aware that any of you asked him about it before. Here’s the problem — it’s a very fine line, and actually very good question.

Q He could have issued a written statement, though, Tony.

MR. SNOW: No, he couldn’t have, and I’ll tell you why. You’ve got ongoing criminal inquiries on two tracks: facts on the ground, and the reporting. The President is Commander-in-Chief. If the Commander-in-Chief says anything that might be regarded as prejudicial to the proceedings, those who are conducting the inquiries and those who might be called upon to conduct trials are, therefore, going to be hamstrung. And so it’s very important — and he’s done this — he’s been very specific about it — staying out of the chain of command. What you don’t want is something that, should these alleged incidents rise to the level of a criminal proceeding, somebody saying, well, here’s what the President had to say — because that suddenly — here’s the President, all these people answer to him, you’ve got to be very careful.

Q Isn’t that also an issue today, though?

MR. SNOW: It remains an issue. The President said he was troubled by the allegations. I’m not sure that it helps to issue statements every time there’s an allegation to say you’re troubled by it.

Q Was he disturbed by the misinformation?

MR. SNOW: Again, Helen, what you’re asking me to do is to leap to conclusions —

Q No, I’m not.

MR. SNOW: Yes, you are.

Q I’m asking you if he’s disturbed by the different stories.

MR. SNOW: The President is disturbed, as he said, by the allegations. And I will leave it at that. You can draw the conclusions.

Looking forward to Hating the Gays.

Q Can you confirm that you’re having a ceremony of some kind in the Rose Garden with regard to gay marriage?

MR. SNOW: I’m not going to give away any events that have not been announced on the public schedule.


Q The President, two years ago when he announced his support for a constitutional amendment protecting marriage, there was a sense of urgency to his remarks that day — I think it was March of 2004. He was talking about the need for decisive action in deciding judicial — or judges, activist judges. Does he still sense — share that sense of urgency? And what is he doing to try to win approval?

MR. SNOW: The President still believes it. And I will leave it to you just to keep your eyes and ears open in coming days to see what he’ll be doing along those lines. Also, keep in mind, since the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts’ initial verdict, a number of states have also enacted legislation that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. There’s been considerable activity, the sense of urgency already being reflected in the acts of various states to tackle the issue themselves.