What did the president know andwhen did he know it?
Q Tony, when Congressman Mark Foley was still in office, apparently he communicated fairly frequently with Governor Jeb Bush of Florida. And according to someemails obtained by the Palm Beach Post on September 29th of last year, in particular, he complained about not being welcome at a couple of events that the President was attending in Florida, one in Fort Pierce and one in Martin County, saying, “Have I done something to offend the White House, they came to Fort Pierce a few weeks ago, said I was not allowed to attend, yet, Joe Negron, another congressman, was there. Tomorrow POTUS is in Martin County. I’m told I’m not allowed to be there, either.” Was Congressman Foley ever told not to appear at events with the President, and, if so, why?
MR. SNOW: We don’t know anything about it, and it sounds pretty silly. Look, as a matter of course, you usually invite members of Congress to these — when you’re in town.
Q Are you saying he was mistaken?
MR. SNOW: I don’t know. I’m not aware of it. It’s not unusual for members of Congress to want to be in on things. But, you know, again, what you’ve got is an email to a third party, to which I really can’t respond. But it just seems to me —
Q Could you check to see if anyone at the White House ever asked Congressman Foley not to attend those events?
MR. SNOW: Holden far as we know the answer is no, but I’ll try to give you an actual definitive — is it 2004 or 2005?
Q This was a September 29, 2004 email.
MR. SNOW: 2004 — so this was during the — okay, see that — we’ll find out.
Q This is when he said they were invited, and he was not.
MR. SNOW: Poor guy. He was invited last year when the President — we know for a fact that the President was in the state quite often last year, hurricanes and other things, and Congressman Foley was there. He’s been at the White House a bunch of times. I’ll try to find out if there’s — is there any particular reason we’re worried about this particular batch of emails?
Q Just wondering if the White House didn’t want the President to be seen with him, and if there was a reason.
MR. SNOW: Well, the answer is, no.
Yeah, Right. And Sweet Karl Never Said “We Will Fuck You Like You’ve Never Been Fucked Before.”
Q Changing topics a bit. In this midterm climate, there are reports coming out that the former number two official at the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives is writing that during his time here at the White House some of the evangelicals who are prominent were described in very derogatory ways, called “nuts,” “ridiculous,” “goofy,” “boorish” — terms that might be viewed as offensive —
MR. SNOW: Do you think? (Laughter.) Yes, I think you could construe it that way. (Laughter.)
Q — while they were publicly embraced by the White House and by senior Republicans and so forth. At a critical time, with the election coming up, to have this come out — first of all, is it true? And do you think it will have an impact on the race?
MR. SNOW: I’m a little confused, again. You guys have had a better glimpse of the book than we have. We haven’t seen it.
When you’re talking also — I know Karl Rove, we’ve asked Karl, did you say the things attributed to you? He said, no. These are people who are friends of many of us in the White House, when you talk about a Richard Land or James Dobson. These are people who are friends. You don’t talk about friends that way. I don’t — David has apparently written a book that has a lot of this stuff. I think we are going to need the benefit of being able to take a look specifically at what he says and how he frames it up, and all that, before we can give you detailed answers.
I’m a little bit perplexed, because it does seem at odds with what he was saying inside the building at the time he departed.
Q So is he mistaken?
MR. SNOW: I don’t know. Like I said, it’s hard for me to respond to whether he was mistaken or not. Is he mistaken in thinking that the — let me put it this way, because, again, I haven’t seen the book, but the assumption, or insinuation, seems to be that the administration takes lightly faith-based groups. False.
Q But these are more about some of the individual characters or personalities —
MR. SNOW: Like I said, I can’t — until I get a chance, until we get a chance to see the book, what we’re doing is we’re trying to respond to generalities, and I think it’s probably unfair to David and unfair to us. So when we get a chance to give it a look, we’ll be happy to go through it. I think it comes out Monday.
Q Is it possible that the office was used for political purposes?
MR. SNOW: No. No. And what’s interesting — and we went through this, this morning — if you take a look at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which is hardly a conservative group, it came to the conclusion that the faith-based initiative was dispensing money not on the basis of ideology, in fact most of the money was going to blue states.
Q Is it possible that Karl Rove called them nuts, the evangelicals?
MR. SNOW: He says no.
Q You’ve asked him about the quotes that are already out?
MR. SNOW: The nuts quote he was asked about. I don’t know if there are any additional ones, but I’ll be happy to run all by Karl. But here’s what your — Karl made the same point I did, which is, “these are my friends, I don’t talk about them like that.”
Jimmy Baker Wouldn’t Cut-n-Run
Q The New York Sun has done some reporting on the Baker Commission in which they report about two options the commission is considering. One is titled, “Stability First,” arguing that the military should focus on stabilizing Baghdad, while working on a political accommodation with the insurgents. But it specifically drops the goal of nurturing this fledgling democracy. The other, called, “Redeploy and Contain,” talks about phased withdrawal of soldiers from Iraq, although without explicit detail. Are either of these options palatable to the President?
MR. SNOW: Well, before we start telling — the President has said — number one, on Baghdad security, we’re already making a concerted effort on Baghdad security. Secondly, it’s important that democracy succeed. That has been the U.S. goal from the start, an Iraq that can defend, sustain and govern itself. That remains the goal. We have not seen the report. Furthermore, we have been told that there will be no conclusions drawn by the commissioners until after the election.
I’ve got a call into Jim Baker right now, but we didn’t get hooked up before this particular briefing, so I’ll be talking to him later in the day, because I want to try to assess the accuracy of that report. I don’t know.
A “Model” Detention Facility That Beats Prisoners
Q The U.K. foreign minister has said, about Guantanamo — calling for it to be closed — the continuing detention without fair trial of prisoners is unacceptable in terms of human rights, but it’s also ineffective in terms of counterterrorism. I wanted to ask about the second part, in terms of it being ineffective in counterterrorism. Would you agree in any part with that, particularly, for example, with the fact that it hasn’t been effective in terms of counterterrorism?
MR. SNOW: Well, as a matter of fact, when you talk about the high-value detainees who have been repatriated to Guantanamo — incidentally, everybody there has been seen by the International Committee of the Red Cross, including the 13 or 14 who were recently transferred there. And if you take a look at what has gone on, people who have actually visited Guantanamo — and I don’t believe Ms. Beckett has — have come back with reports that talk about its being a model detention facility and so on.
Q Are you aware of the fresh allegations of abuse that have been reported in the BBC?
MR. SNOW: There is — the southern command is investigating a complaint that has been launched by a Marine officer alleging that she had overheard some people talking about beating up prisoners at Guantanamo. We’re aware of it, and expect it to be investigated thoroughly.
Corrupt Republikkkans “Bring Credit Upon Themselves”
Q This morning Congressman Bob Ney pled guilty in federal court to charges that took nine minutes to read into the record. When he resigns, he’ll become the fourth Republican congressman to leave (inaudible). Do Republicans in Washington have a problem with ethics?
MR. SNOW: No, but he ought to resign.
Q But is there something that the Republicans should do to perhaps better deal with problems within their own ranks, better self-policing of behavior?
MR. SNOW: I think it’s important that everybody be policed — Democrats or Republicans. If you’ve got money in your freezer or skeletons in your closet, you better make sure that you’re taking care of what’s going on. I think it’s incumbent on everybody to behave in a model way. And that’s always our belief. We do not think that being a Republican — let me put it this way, what Congressman Ney did is not a reflection of the Republican Party, it’s a reflection of Congressman Ney. And he ought to step down.
We saw that with Duke Cunningham. He took money. He stepped down. He should have. And when people break the law or bring discredit upon themselves and their — bring credit [sic] upon themselves, they ought to do the appropriate thing.
Your Daily Les
Q Tony, two questions. Regarding next month’s election of such vital concern to the President, both The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Times have quoted Maryland’s 10 black state senators in their announced complaint that the top of the Democrat ticket for governor, U.S. senator, attorney general and comptroller are all white candidates. And my question, does the President share, or does he deplore these senators’ expressed belief that nominees should be selected on the basis of their skin shade?
MR. SNOW: Skin shade?
Q Yes, skin shade, skin color.
MR. SNOW: No, it’s just an interesting way of formulating it. Look, the President thinks that parties can nominate however they see fit. In this particular case, he supports Michael Steele as the next U.S. senator from Maryland.
Q A number of these Maryland state senators are from districts in and around Prince Georges County, the home of the Washington Redskins, which team is 50 percent black, with no American Indians, no Chinese or Japanese Americans, and no Hispanics. And my question —
MR. SNOW: I got myself into this, didn’t I? (Laughter.)