Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

From Holden:

Pony Blow returned from his undisclosed location today and he brought some strawmen with him.

There have been some in the Democratic Party who have argued against the Patriot Act, against the terror surveillance program, against Guantanamo. In other words, there are some people who say that we shouldn’t fight the war, we should not detain — we shouldn’t apprehend al Qaeda, we shouldn’t detain al Qaeda, we shouldn’t question al Qaeda, and we shouldn’t listen to al Qaeda. In other words, they’re all for winning the war on terror, but they’re all against — they’re against providing the tools for winning that war.

Pony also brought Frances “Sure Plays A Mean Pinball” Townsend with him ’cause the White House is rolling out a big new terra strategy. But wait a minute there, Fran — someone is missing from your stragey.

Q Ms. Townsend, is Osama bin Laden still considered a threat? I didn’t read his name in the report.

MS. TOWNSEND: The greatest threat to us is this ideology of violent extremism, and its greatest public proponent is Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden remains the number one target, in terms of our efforts, but he’s not the only target. We care about others who advocate the use of violence to reach ideological objectives, like Dr. Zawahiri. Zarqawi is no longer with us, so he’s off that list. But I give those to you as other examples.

Obsession continues, Read More…

From Holden:

Next, Townsend just can’t take the heat Helen is dishing out.

Q What about the President’s Islamo-fascism? The president of the Islamic Society of North America, the new president, said last week she didn’t think that was particularly helpful.

MS. TOWNSEND: What the President was trying to capture was this idea of using violence to achieve ideological ends — and that’s wrong. Regardless of what label you pin on it, it is this form of radical extremism that really wants to deny people freedom and impose a totalitarian vision of society on everyone, that we object to.

Q Who coined the Islamo-fascist slogan, and what does it mean —

MS. TOWNSEND: I’m not sure I could tell you who coined it —

Q — in this administration?

MS. TOWNSEND: I’m not sure I could tell you if there is a single author or who coined it. And again, Helen, I guess what I was saying to Elaine is, it’s meant to try and capture what is objectionable about the ideology; that is, the use of violence to achieve these ideological ends.

Q Well, why that — why Islamic? Does it make it a religious connotation?

MS. TOWNSEND: Absolutely. There are many peace-loving Muslims around the world.

Q So it is a religious war?

MS. TOWNSEND: No, I didn’t say that. It’s not a religious war. What this is about is there is a battle within Islam, itself, for — in terms of what the ideology is, and there are many devout, pious Muslims, many of whom I’ve met in my travels around the Muslim world, who are deeply offended by this advocating of violence —

Q But why can’t you explain the —

MS. TOWNSEND: Helen, we’re going to give somebody else a chance.

Yes, sir.

Yeah, better move on to someone else, Fran, Helen has you whupped. Uh-oh, follow-up is deadly, too.

Q Along with the rise in the term “Islamic fascism,” I noticed in the Salt Lake speech the President did not use a term he’d used many times before, that these terrorists had hijacked a great religion, that that was missing. Given the two, can you see where some folks might believe the administration is going after Islam directly?

MS. TOWNSEND: You know, if people have got a concern about Islam being sullied — frankly, a great religion being sullied, it’s an anger that ought to be directed at the terrorists. This is not an effort that we focused on the great religion of Islam. This is really a fact of us targeting those who would kill — murder innocent women and children because they believe that they have an ideological objective that justifies it, and we just fundamentally disagree.

Damn liberal journalists, now they have poor Fran all flustered.

Q The report talks about (inaudible), and the importance of (inaudible) in the fight against terror. And (inaudible) and conspiracy theories that it mentioned in the report. How do you address the large, wide perception in the Middle East that the unconditional support of the United States to Israel, especially in the recent war in Lebanon — how do you address it as a component, when the (inaudible) by terrorists to rally people around and to justify the war against American interests in the region?

MS. TOWNSEND: Well, there’s no question that our enemies will take some discreet facts and turn them and try to make use of them. But there should be no — we’ve been quite clear: Israel was unprovoked in the war against Hezbollah — I’m sorry, Lebanon permitted the use by Hezbollah of their territory, and Hezbollah used that territory to provoke Israel with the kidnapping of two soldiers. The fact of the matter is, Israel has been a friend of the United States; it is a democracy and a model in the region. And so our support for that democracy is just that: it’s a support for the freedom and the democracy and those principles in the region.

Better leave the gaggling to a professional, Fran. Here, let Pony show you how to handle the press.

Q The President, in his last speech, made very clear that the American people have a choice — right? — in the way forward in the war on terror, which suggests, by definition, that he is trying to frame the political debate for the midterm election when it comes to national security. Is that fair?

MR. SNOW: I think both parties — if you take a look again at the letter —

Q But I’m asking about the President. I’m not asking about Democrat — you don’t speak for Democrats. I’m asking about the President.

MR. SNOW: Well, but I’m trying to answer, because there are two parts of this equation, David. There seems to be a presumption that if Democrats make political points the President shouldn’t respond because that would be political. The President — these are important issues, and you can call it politics, you can call it whatever you want, but the most important thing to do is to provide a basis for people to take a look at the facts and reach thoughtful conclusions.


Q I’m not asking for the major points. I understand that. I’m asking —

MR. SNOW: Well, it’s important to talk about the major points —

Q Right. But you don’t disagree that he’s trying to frame the debate for what is an important political choice?

MR. SNOW: Absolutely. Of course, of course.

Q Okay. There’s so much emphasis by the President on his resolve and on the consequences of failure, which seems to dovetail to the political strategy of casting the vote as not a referendum on his leadership or his conduct in the war on terror, leading the war on terror, but on a choice between two parties and their visions. And I’m curious whether, in this document, there’s any reflection on the fact that this White House, this administration failed to anticipate a violent terrorist-based insurgency in Iraq, and also failed to adapt once it learned of its presence? And shouldn’t that be put before the voters this fall?

MR. SNOW: I think you’ve admirably expressed the Democratic point of view, but I don’t think —

Q Actually, Tony, I don’t think that’s fair, if you look at the facts. If you look at the facts.

MR. SNOW: Well, I do, because — no, because, for instance —

Q No, no, no. No, I don’t think you should be able to just wipe that, kind of dismiss the question —

MR. SNOW: Well, let me —

Q It’s not a Democratic argument, Tony.

MR. SNOW: Let me answer the question, David.

Q But hold on, let’s not let you get away with saying that’s a Democratic argument.

MR. SNOW: Okay, let me — let’s not let you get away with being rude. Let me just answer the question, and you can come back at me.

Q Excuse me. Don’t point your finger at me. I’m not being rude.

MR. SNOW: Yes, you are.

Q Don’t try to dismiss me as making a Democratic argument, Tony, when I’m speaking fact.

MR. SNOW: Well, okay — well, no —

Q You can do that to the Democrats; don’t do it to me.

MR. SNOW: No, I’m doing it to you because the second part was factually tendentious, okay? Now, when you were talking about the fact that it failed to adapt, that’s just flat wrong. And you will be — there has been — there have been repeated attempts to try to adapt to military realities, to diplomatic realities, to development of new weapons and tools on the part of al Qaeda, including the very creative use of the Internet. So the idea that somehow we’re staying the course is just wrong. It is absolutely wrong.

So that’s why — I apologize for interrupting, but I think it’s important to challenge that presumption. Now, did we fully anticipate —

Q If you want to challenge that presumption — no, no, wait a second. If you want to challenge that presumption, why don’t you describe in some detail how you accurately anticipated the insurgency, and what was done to deal with it at the time.

MR. SNOW: I was just about to go back to that part.

Q Okay.

MR. SNOW: See, there were two assumptions. I was taking —

Q No, you described me as rude in making a Democratic argument and said —

MR. SNOW: Well, that’s because I kept trying to answer the question, and you kept jumping in. We need to come to an accommodation, because I’m perfectly happy to take on both sides.

Woo, nice going, Pony. So, where’s the “new” in your new terra strategy?.

Q And, finally, what’s the big new thing in this report? What is new about this report?

MR. SNOW: Read it. I will challenge you —

Q You’ve read it —

MR. SNOW: Well, no, it —

Q — you tell me what you think is new.

MR. SNOW: The fact is that the world has changed considerably since February of 2003. And what you have here is a comprehensive but not nuts and bolts look — again, we’re not going to give away sources and methods, it’s not operational, but it is strategic. And it tells you all the various different ways in which we are trying to fight the war on terror, and the philosophy behind it — not only the short-term strategies but the long-term goals, and how we think it is best to pursue and achieve those things.

Q I’m looking at the priorities — I think there were four priorities or so listed — and it doesn’t seem like there’s anything so groundbreaking there that couldn’t have been written in February of 2003. So —

MR. SNOW: Well, no, actually — no, no, because not only do you have WMD, you also have — look, at this time, in 2003, at this time in 2003, we had not, in fact, completed restructuring our government in response to the challenges raised by September 11th. We have done considerable work, and it’s described in here, in trying to reform our intelligence apparatus, our military apparatus, to try to reform the way in which the government goes about the business of trying to intercept and to foil terror plots.