Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

Right out of the gate, Pony Blow tries togag the gaggle.

[T]he President will be speaking to the nation from the Oval Office at 9:00 p.m. eastern time, again on the 5th anniversary of September 11th. This is not a political speech; there are not going to be any calls to action for Congress. It will be a reflection of what September 11th has meant to the President, and to the country; the realities that it has brought to all of our attention and how we can move forward together to try to win the war on terror.

Right, politics has nothing to do with it.

Q Returning to the bright lines being drawn between Democrats and Republicans, I’d like to follow on a question the President was asked yesterday in an interview. He was asked by Charlie Gibson, does the President believe if the Democrats control one House or another of Congress, that America will be — that security for America will be somewhat compromised in some way, that it’s a less safe country if the Democrats control one of the Houses?

MR. SNOW: I’m just not playing ball on that.

Q It’s not playing ball. It’s a legitimate question, based on the last four speeches in eight days.

MR. SNOW: But I would invite you to go back and look at every one of those speeches and find for me the area in which the President tried to cleave between Democrats and Republicans.

Q So there’s no attempt right now to show a distinction between Democrats and Republicans in how they handle the war on terror?

MR. SNOW: No, I think what’s happening is that the President is making clear what his position is, and critics will respond, and people will be able to draw their distinctions.

No politics? Then where are the Democrats?

Q Tony, I’d like to ask you a little bit more about Monday. Has any thought been — well, who’s going to travel with the President to New York, to Shanksville, the Pentagon?

MR. SNOW: Staff, wife.

Q Was any thought ever given to a bipartisan delegation being with him?

MR. SNOW: I don’t know. And, honestly, I don’t know if there are members of Congress going. Nor do I know, to be honest with you, if people have requested. Get back to us. We’ll talk about it. I just don’t know.

Obsession continues…

Let’s not bicker and argue over who killed who.

Q Earlier, you said the President feels we weren’t prepared for 9/11; obviously, it wouldn’t have happened — which was, to me, it’s a sort of fairly straightforward way I hadn’t heard it put before. So there’s no dispute or argument — we were not prepared on September 11th, otherwise, it wouldn’t have happened, is what you were saying.

MR. SNOW: We weren’t prepared — yes, and we weren’t prepared a long time before September 11th. Look, what happened was, for a whole series of reasons, we did not have in place the security methods. We had a wall that separated domestic and civilian intelligence on these things. We didn’t have intelligence and criminal officials literally — you know the story, sitting across the table from each other at an FBI building in New York, weren’t able to talk to one another. We had trails that were dropped because of communications difficulties. We had a whole series of things we needed to fix. The Patriot Act was designed to deal with some of that. There have been intelligence reforms. There have been military actions.

The other thing is, it’s pretty clear that a lot of people did not think, for a long period of time, Osama bin Laden was able to build up power and influence around the world. All of these things were lessons that everybody has learned from.

Q And in terms of the President’s understanding of all this, who is to blame?

MR. SNOW: I’m not sure — you know, it’s probably not constructive to point blame. I know there’s a big controversy about the ABC special, and everybody is worried that they’re going to get caught with the blame. I think it’s worth saying that Presidents and administrations, if they know that there’s a threat that’s going to place American lives at risk, they’re going to do everything they can to intercept it. And the Presidents of all parties are absolutely serious about trying to keep the American people safe. And I think the idea of pointing fingers of blame at something that had never happened, and never — had not been fully anticipated is an exercise that I think is extremely non-productive, unnecessarily divisive.

And, therefore, the most important thing is to say, what are the systemic problems and how do we fix them? And that’s the approach we’ve taken.

Ooopsie! Caught in another lie.

Q Thank you, Tony. You said in August — I think you said or the President said he’s staying out of the Connecticut U.S. Senate race because party leaders in the state suggested he stay neutral. Is that correct?

MR. SNOW: They suggested he stay out of it.

Q Stay out of it. And I have here a letter in my hand from Republican state chairman of Connecticut who says that the party in Connecticut is supporting its unanimously party-endorsed nominee Alan Schlesinger in the U.S. Senate.

MR. SNOW: And what is the date of that letter?

Q The date of the letter is August of 2006 — August 25, 2006.

MR. SNOW: Okay. If memory serves — and this is probably — I would direct my questions back to Mr. Schlesinger — I mean, to the state party chairman.

Q Mr. Gallo.

MR. SNOW: Yes, Mr. Gallo — as to what he said and when.

Q All right. Because this would just seem, on August 25th, to contradict what you said and what the President said —

MR. SNOW: That’s why I would suggest you talk again to Mr. Gallo. There have been follow on conversations, and he says, we think that the proper position to take is just for you not to participate in this election.

Q When did he say that?

MR. SNOW: He said it in August of 2006.

Not tellin’.

Q How long has the President known Richard Armitage leaked Valerie Plame’s name?

MR. SNOW: I don’t know. I don’t know if he knew.

Q Could you find out for us?


Q Why not?

MR. SNOW: Because when you get into these things what you’re asking about is details on which we’re not commenting. Why don’t you ask when everything has been fully litigated and when we’re in a position to be able to say whatever we might want to say. But in the context of an ongoing investigation and ongoing litigation that involves Scooter Libby, as inviting as it may be to ask who ought to apologize, or who knew what when, or to do that sort of thing, it’s best just to keep my mouth shut. And that’s what I’m going to do.

Q Who does know?

MR. SNOW: You’re the reporter. You’re the reporter. You’re asking me —

Q Well, you may not know because you came in late. But who in the administration does?

MR. SNOW: Again, let me repeat what I said. We’ve got ongoing litigation. I’m just not going to get into any of this stuff. Ask Richard Armitage who he talked to. Maybe he’ll be able to do it. He’s writing op-eds now.