Today on Holden’s Obsession with the Gaggle

Ho-hum. Once again, Pony Blow is caught contradicting himself in today’s gaggle.

HoldenQ You said today that a troop surge in Iraq was something that’s being explored. Is the idea of a troop cutback something that’s also being explored?

MR. SNOW: What the President is asking people to explore are ways to victory in Iraq, which would mean an Iraq that can sustain, govern and defend itself, where the Iraqis, themselves eventually assume full control for the responsibilities of government: security, political, economic, diplomatic and so on. Anything that fits into that description the President will consider. And, therefore, there are a number of ideas that are being discussed and the President is leaving all options open.

Q Well, you confirmed the surge — how about the cutback?

MR. SNOW: No, I confirmed that there are ideas and I have given you the proper metric. So if people think that that will contribute to the long term goal of victory, it would be reasonable to assume that it would be something under consideration.


Q But you did tell me today, you were specifically asked if a surge was among the things being considered, and you said, “It’s something that’s being explored.” So you did confirm that.

MR. SNOW: Okay, so I confirmed it.

Obsession continues…

The Generals Don’t Know Squat

Q The President had said in the past that he doesn’t set the troop levels, that the commanders in the field — has that changed?

MR. SNOW: What the President does — let me put it this way: What the President does is he sets the mission. And then combatant commanders figure out how to conduct the mission. And when they ask for resources, he provides them. And that’s how it works.

Q And so the President would go with their — would still go with their advice on troop levels?

MR. SNOW: Yes. But, again, keep in mind the President sets the mission. So you define the mission, then you figure out what resources are adequate. This, I think, again, mirrors comments that General Conway has made and also Colin Powell has made, which is you — when people were talking about surges, the answer is, if it fits into a military plan and you have a good plan for it, then maybe it would be appropriate. I am not commenting on surge; I’m just telling you that regardless of what happens in terms of troop posture or equipping forces or deploying forces or moving or redeploying — any military decision obviously is going to have to be made in concert with the goal, which is to win in Iraq.

Must Be Time For Pony’s Daily Paddling, Administered By Helen Thomas

Q Does public opinion enter into his review at all, in terms of the election and —

MR. SNOW: The President — in this sense, Helen, the President understands that you cannot win the war without public support. And it is important to continue — because it’s going to be a long war and it is going to need the determination of the American people —

Q Why is it going to be a long war?

MR. SNOW: Because as far as we can tell, terrorists don’t have any desire to stop entertaining thoughts of terror any time soon.


Q Why can you identify all the Iraqi resistance as terror?

MR. SNOW: I didn’t.

Q We are the occupiers, do you realize that? And do you realize what an occupation is?

MR. SNOW: Do you also realize — I do — I think people not only understand occupation, people in Iraq also understand —

Q Your broad brush everything.

MR. SNOW: And that was a precise characterization you just gave me?

Q I am saying that you —

MR. SNOW: No, you just used a broad brush on responding. If you wish to get into colloquialism, I’ll be happy to go along.

Q Do you think that people are resisting our occupation?

MR. SNOW: I think that there are some people — as a matter of fact, if you take a look at Saddam rejectionists, they’re absolutely resisting the occupation. As a matter of fact, their avowed goal — it’s right here in the 90/10 report — that says that their avowed goal is to push Americans out. Why? Because they want to reestablish the kind of supremacy they enjoyed during the days of Saddam.

There are many people who want to end the occupation and, in many cases, they want to end the occupation because they, themselves, want to restore or to create their own tyranny over the Iraqi people. They do not want to support the goal of a democracy in which the human rights of all are protected and —

Q What gives you the right to impose anything on them?

MR. SNOW: I think what we’re — you know, what’s interesting is the government of Iraq and people of Iraq look upon us not as imposing. I don’t know how you impose liberty. I think what you do is you — you impose tyranny and you relieve tyranny by creating the possibility for freedom.

The Decider Can’t Decide

Q I know you said this story about the debate with the Joint Chiefs is tonally inaccurate. But the fact is —

MR. SNOW: I didn’t say it was totally inaccurate, I said I’m not going to —

Q Tonally. Tonally.

MR. SNOW: Tonally, thank you.

Q Right. But the fact is, someone has put the message out there that there is this dispute, and it’s not the first report that we’ve had about disputes, disagreements about the way to go forward on Iraq. I’m wondering if this is a reflection of paralysis within the administration.


Q Well, why are there so many leaks coming out on this?

MR. SNOW: Well, you’ll have to ask the leakers. They apparently are talking to you, so please consult.

Your Daily Les

Q Reuters reported this morning that the President has just delayed for another six months the 1995 Congress-passed transfer of our U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital city of Jerusalem. And my question: In how many other countries of the world do we refuse to have our embassy in their capital, but in another city which resembles Israel locating their embassy in Baltimore?

MR. SNOW: I’m aware of none, Les. Thank you.

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