Wow, nice gaggle today, many interesting exchanges. First up, Pony Blow’s reponse to 2500 American military deaths in Chimpy’s Vanity War has been covered by Josh Micah but I think the bit after the SNIP is most revealing.
Q Tony, American deaths in Iraq have reached 2,500. Is there any response or reaction from the President on that?
MR. SNOW: It’s a number, and every time there’s one of these 500 benchmarks people want something.
Q Was he told about the benchmark, the President?
MR. SNOW: I don’t know. I’m sure he will hear about it.
He does not know if the president knows that 2500 soldiers have died for his folly?
Obsession continues, Read More…
In my mind the big story from Iraq today was this:
“The government has in mind somehow to do reconciliation, and one way to do it is to offer an amnesty, but not a sort of unconditional amnesty,” [Maliki’s top advisor Adnan Ali al-Kadhimi] said in a telephone interview. “We can see if somehow those who are so-called resistance can be accepted if they have not been involved in any kind of criminal behavior, such as killing innocent people or damaging infrastructure, and even infrastructure if it is minor will be pardoned.”
Asked about clemency for those who attacked U.S. troops, he said: “That’s an area where we can see a green line. There’s some sort of preliminary understanding between us and the MNF-I,” the U.S.-led Multi-National Force-Iraq, “that there is a patriotic feeling among the Iraqi youth and the belief that those attacks are legitimate acts of resistance and defending their homeland. These people will be pardoned definitely, I believe.”
How will Pony handle this development, you wonder? Well, remember when Iraqi PM Maliki complained that the Haditha killings were “a horrible crime” that was part of a wider pattern of behavior by US forces in Iraq? Pony assured us that Maliki had spoken to both Ambassador Khalilzad and General Casey and explained that he had been misquoted, although Blow had no knowledge of what the Prime Minister had said or meant to say. When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Fox News’ Chris Wallace that Maliki had been quoted accurately Pony claimed that Rice did not know what she was talking about.
Today Pony stayed true to form, claiming that there is no amnesty plan in Iraq so we should not talk about it.
Q Tony, one of the things that seems to be talked about in Baghdad right now, the Prime Minister is doing this reconciliation process. And it’s raised this question of amnesty for people who have attacked U.S. troops.
MR. SNOW: Yes, it’s an important question, I’m glad you asked it. Mowaffak Rubaie, who is the National Security Advisor for Prime Minister Maliki has just been on international TV in the last couple of minutes. And he said that there’s no amnesty for anybody who kills Iraqis or Americans. That’s the first thing. Because I know there’s been a lot of reaction on Capitol Hill.
Q But I just want to be clear — there will be no amnesty offered to anybody who has been part of an attack on U.S. troops?
MR. SNOW: All I can tell you — again, there’s no plan yet. This is the problem. Everybody wants specificity about what was a general quote. Wait until they have a plan. It’s a little too early, but what the Iraqi National Security Advisor said — and I can’t go any further than this — is no amnesty to those who have killed Americans or Iraqis. I can’t answer your question about whether that means people who have been involved in activities against American troops —
Q But in terms of — as the President has been saying, as the Iraqis are sort of getting to run their own show and set their own agenda, will the administration have a role in saying, look, as you are beginning to do this, this is what we want?
MR. SNOW: I’m sure we’ll express our opinions, but we also recognize that it’s theirs to do. But, absolutely, there will be conversations.
Q Tony, back to Jim’s question. Senators Reid, Schumer, Nelson, Menendez, Levin talked extensively about this possible amnesty for those who kill — attack U.S. troops, saying that the President should pick up the phone and call Prime Minister Maliki and make it known that the U.S. will not stand by and —
MR. SNOW: The U.S. will not stand by something that hasn’t been committed to paper and is not yet official.
Q Will the President express those views to President Maliki, or has he?
MR. SNOW: Number one, what we’re talking about is speculation about a plan that doesn’t even exist yet. So I appreciate the sentiment of the Senators, and I think it’s pretty clear that already the Iraqi government has demonstrated some sensitivity to this. The National Security Advisor has come out and said, no amnesty extended to people who kill Iraqis or Americans.
Q Tony, sorry, can I come back to amnesty? I understand what you’re saying, the national security advisor saying, well, we don’t really have anything, there’s not a plan yet, you don’t want to comment on something that doesn’t exist yet.
MR. SNOW: Right.
Q But are you saying that the President, the administration, has no view today on whether any amnesty —
MR. SNOW: No, I’m saying the — I’m not going to negotiate from here. Of course the administration — the administration is going to have views. But the other thing, I’ve said before — and you have to understand this — give the Iraqi government some time. I mean, they’re smart people. And rather — so why should the President be kibitzing before they’ve come up with a policy.
Q Today, the administration has no view as to whether amnesty should ever cover somebody who attacks and kills an American soldier?
MR. SNOW: As I said, why raise a question that hasn’t arisen yet, other than in press reports? Why do it? It’s not constructive.
And when questioned about Karl Rove Blow explains that he can’t answer any questions because he was not part of the Assministration (WTF? He worked for Fox.) during most of the period that Rove and Little Scottie were lying to the public.
Q Tony, the investigation of Karl Rove is now over. Why is it, then, inappropriate for the President of the White House, three years later, to finally give us some sort of explanation or assessment, judgment, of Karl Rove’s actions when it had nothing to do with the Libby trial?
MR. SNOW: Because, as you know, there is — well, they may have. There is talk that he may be called —
Q Scott McClellan has nothing to do with the Libby trial, his conversation with ABC News has nothing to do with the Libby trial.
MR. SNOW: Well, that’s fine. I will continue my statement first. I can’t give you any texture or background on the Scott/Karl stuff, because I wasn’t here. But the President made it pretty clear that a lot of this stuff — and as you know, Peter, once you get up on the stand, and Karl may be called to the stand — they can ask about anything.
And so it is our view that we’re simply not going to get involved in making comments on something that may be brought to trial, when Scooter Libby is still under indictment and is going to go to trial with the special prosecutor. The other thing is that Karl, apparently, the prosecutor found nothing untoward in what Karl has done, there is no indictment. But we’re just not going to go into it. You could go at it 58 different angles, I’m still not going to give you an answer.
Q Let me ask a general question then. In 2000, the President said it wasn’t enough to simply not be indicted in the White House, that he had a higher ethical standard. Is that, in fact, still the ethical standard —
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q — or, in fact, should we interpret from his comments yesterday that as long as you’re not indicted, everything is fine?
MR. SNOW: Apparently, you’ve indicted Karl.
Q No, I’m asking a question.
MR. SNOW: And yes, the answer is, the ethical standard still applies.
Q And what is the ethical standard?
MR. SNOW: You tell me. I mean, the President said the higher ethical standard — you were reciting a thing. You know what the President says is, you serve honorably, you serve well, you obey the law.
Q And the reality is —
Q Did Karl Rove serve honorably and serve —
MR. SNOW: Like I said, don’t try to get me to bite on it because I’m not going to do it.
Q Tony, yesterday the President said that he’s made the comments he’s going to make about the Karl Rove matter, and now he’s going to move forward. A year ago, he told us at least twice that he would be more than happy to comment further once the situation, the investigation was completed. Does this mean that despite telling us that he would comment further that now he isn’t going to? Or does it mean that he will comment further and be happy to at a later date?
MR. SNOW: Well, I’m going to let his comments yesterday suffice. I’m not going to get beyond what he said yesterday, and we’ll see what happens. That would be a why-don’t-I-figure-it-out — what the President said yesterday is he’s not going to comment because the Libby trial is upcoming. I don’t know if he has any plans —
Q Has he made the comments he’s going to make?
MR. SNOW: Victoria, I don’t know if he has any plans. I just don’t know. I can’t give you an answer.
Q Will that include appeals? How far can we stretch this?
MR. SNOW: I don’t know, Peter. But I’ll tell you what. It’s obviously really important to you guys. I’ll try to find out.
Q I have one other one on Karl Rove working in the White House, and the “honorable standard” question, which is that he’s not being indicted, apparently. But three years ago — I say “apparently” because I don’t think anyone has seen the letter yet — but three years ago he was asked about whether he has spoken to any reporter about whether Valerie Plame was —
MR. SNOW: Okay, I’m not going to — I can’t get back into that question, because, frankly, I’m totally incompetent on it, and I’m not going to get in the middle of the Karl Rove thing. That all predates me.
Q I can’t even finish the question?
MR. SNOW: You can finish the question. I’ll give you the same answer.
Q Okay, but he was asked whether — Scott McClellan was asked whether in fact he had spoken to any reporter about whether Valerie Plame worked for the CIA. And the reply was that he had assured Scott McClellen that he wasn’t involved in any of this.
MR. SNOW: Right. As I said, thank you for getting me in the middle of an old fight that I have no part in and I’m not — I’m just not going to play on it. But thank —
Q It seems clear, however that he spoke with Matt Cooper, Judith Miller and Robert Novak, so it would seem that the two answers don’t match.
MR. SNOW: Okay, thank you.
Best Freudian slip that may not have been a Freudian slip.
Q Now you still have an upcoming Cheney trial, so —
MR. SNOW: Libby trial. Libby trial.
Q But are you worried about what that may — is the Vice President’s office worried about what that may — how intrusive that could be, in terms of the inner operations of his office?
MR. SNOW: I don’t have any idea. You’ll have to deal with his office on that.