In Today’sGaggle Pony Blow Resumed His Mau-Mauing of Congressional Democrats
Q The Democrats in the House are out with their resolution — fairly straightforward. Is this something you can live with?
MR. SNOW: Look, Congress is going to do whatever it thinks it needs to do, in terms of resolutions.
So as we have said in all cases, members need to understand that their words do travel, and they need to assess what impact they think they may have. But other than that —
Q Tony, to be more specific on that point, there were Republican talking points on the Hill floating around that say that this House resolution Steve mentioned will, “weaken troop morale,” and will, “give comfort to the enemy.” Do you agree with that assessment?
MR. SNOW: Don’t know. I mean, I’ve always said that — and the President has said that those are things that people have to take into account. Certainly, General Petraeus and Secretary Gates thought that they would have an adverse impact when it came to morale, and also that they may provide some comfort to the enemy. But, again, I think these are serious matters that people voting on the resolution are going to have to take into account.
Q But the resolution, itself, the first line says that the United States Armed Forces are serving and have served bravely and honorably in Iraq. I mean, it’s very clearly stating that the supporters of this resolution — there is one Republican who has signed on — believe that U.S. soldiers have served bravely and honorably. So what’s the —
MR. SNOW: Okay, so they don’t want to provide the additional support for their mission, and that helps how?
Q That’s for them to answer. But they say that —
MR. SNOW: That’s what I’m saying.
Q Okay. Well, then what is your problem with it? Because specifically after saying that they believe U.S. soldiers have served bravely and honorably, it says Congress disapproves of the decision of President Bush announced on January 10th to deploy —
MR. SNOW: Well, we disagree, and the President is Commander-in-Chief, and he has the obligation to do what he thinks is best to make this country safe, and that’s what he’s doing.
Q Doesn’t the Congress have the obligation to weigh in on it?
MR. SNOW: Congress has the option of it. Members of Congress can express themselves however they wish.
Q This brings up sort of a very interesting point that I think, if we pull back a second, that a lot of Americans are probably engaged in trying to get their arms around. There was an op/ed piece yesterday by a former Director of the NSA and a former Army senior intelligence official, and he asked the question, can you support the troops and still call for bringing them home? Is the only way to support the troops to follow out what — follow what the President’s sort of continued mission is? What do you think of that?
MR. SNOW: Well, what I think is I’m not going to quite rise to that bait, but I’ll give you an answer that is responsive. The way you support the troops is help them complete their mission successfully. That’s how you support them.
Pony Starts By Playing Up This Weekend’s Anonymous Presentation On Scary Iranian Weapons In Iraq
Q Tony, the senior military officials made this presentation in Baghdad on background about the evidence against Iran active inside Iraq. Can you talk about the significance of that presentation, about its timing, and what it really means in context of the war right now?
MR. SNOW: What it means is that there is evidence that there’s been some weaponry coming across the border into Iraq and it’s being used to kill Americans. And it explains why the administration — why our military commanders are doing what they can to try to interdict any movement of weapons into the theaters of battle so we can save American lives. It really is a — it’s a force protection issue.
So why in Baghdad? Because that’s where the action is and that’s where people are collecting things. Why on background? Because one of the key briefers otherwise could not participate, and we thought it was important to get information to reporters. Why then? Because the information was ripe and it had been scrubbed and therefore was ready for presentation. But I don’t want to make more or less of it than it was.
But Pony Has No Facts To Back His Assertions
Q What direct evidence do you have that Iranian leaders authorized the smuggling of weapons into Iraq?
MR. SNOW: What I first would do is just point you back to the briefing. What they have are a number of serial numbers, and so on. I’d just take you back to the transcript on that. If you’re looking for the granular evidence, that’s what they presented.
Q But that wasn’t direct evidence linking Iran —
MR. SNOW: Let me put it this way: There’s not a whole lot of freelancing in the Iranian government, especially when it comes to something like that. So what you would have to do, if you’re trying to do the — to counter that position, you would have to assume that people were able of putting together sophisticated weaponry, moving it across a border into a theater of war and doing so unbeknownst and unbidden.
Q Could I just follow it just one more time? So the direct evidence would be the assumption, then, that it would have to be Iranian —
MR. SNOW: Again, what I would suggest, Victoria, if you really want to go into the details, is you go to Embassy Baghdad, because they’re the ones who do the briefing. This really is — it’s a force protection matter. That’s why they did the briefing. And I’m not going to be able to give you all the jot and tittles on it. That’s why — if you want to call them, or call DoD, they’ll be able to give you more detail on it.
And When Pressed He Punts To The DOD
Q Do you think the American people deserve a little bit more than deduction? I mean, the evidence —
MR. SNOW: I think what the American people — what our troops deserve is somebody who is going to protect them. Now, you cannot deny these weapons exist. You cannot deny that there is presently no manufacturing capability within Iraq able to produce those kinds of weapons. Beyond that, again I point you back to Defense briefing. What the American people need is somebody who is going to say we’re going to protect our people from these weapons. The weapons exist. People have got to look at it, they’ve got to look at what happens when they detonate. It’s hard for me to argue that that’s a phantom menace. And it’s also a lot harder to argue to our troops, who have been getting hit by them.
Q Tony, I’m not sure you want to go back on this notion of freelancing in the Iranian government, but there’s obviously a difference between saying, as they did in Baghdad, that some elements in the leadership —
MR. SNOW: Look, the Department of Defense is doing this. What I’m telling you is you guys want to get those questions answered, you need to go to the Pentagon, because they’re the ones who have done the work on this.
Q But they’ve refused. I mean, you should be able to give us —
MR. SNOW: Well, actually, no. I didn’t get briefed on it.
Q Well, there should be some kind of coordination, don’t you think?
MR. SNOW: Well, actually, when you’ve got — combatant commanders are out doing their work. You can pick up the phone and call the Pentagon. We’ll be happy to supply numbers for you.
Finally, Pony Admits There Was Nothing New In The Briefing on Iran
Q How long have these EFPs been around, that the White House is aware of, in Iraq?
MR. SNOW: Again, I’d refer you back — I think — I don’t want to fake it.
Q They’ve been reported for a few years, though.
MR. SNOW: Yes, but they’ve also been increasingly rather dramatically in use, I believe, if you take a look at it over the last year or so. They’re a concern.
Q But that’s not new, is it?
MR. SNOW: No, it’s not — thank you — no, it’s not new. It’s not new. The concern is something that we’ve had for some time, and it’s one of the reasons why, for instance, there’s a new generation of armor that’s being used for Humvees and other things.
In Today’s Edition Of Your Daily Les, Pony Takes A Crack At Kinsolving…
Q I thought you were going to be calling on me. You said you would call on me first —
MR. SNOW: No, I think I actually said Victoria. I didn’t say April. I did look in your direction, however.
Q You did call on me, because —
MR. SNOW: Sorry if I created offense.
Q I will certainly yield to this lady on my right.
MR. SNOW: You know, I believe many people will be grateful for that. Go ahead. (Laughter.)
But Les Gets The Last Laugh By Mentioning The I-Word
Q Tony, Senator Feinstein has been authorized by Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy to lead a Senate investigation of the case of former U.S. Border Patrol Agent Ignacio Ramos, who was assaulted by four other inmates in the federal prison in Yazoo City, Mississippi, about which Senator Feinstein said this — and this is a quote — “I urge the committee to look into why these agents are not being protected in the federal prison system. It is not hard to predict that two federal agents would be targeted in a prison population.”
And my question, what is the President’s reaction to this upcoming investigation and Republican Congressman Rohrabacher’s warning of “impeachment talk if either of these agents is killed”?
MR. SNOW: You know, this is a time when cooler heads ought to prevail and facts ought to be presented. Therefore, we’re perfectly happy with anything that will reveal the facts of this case. I think there are efforts ongoing and may yield fruit quite soon to get the full transcripts of the trial of agents Campion and Ramos out before the public, every syllable. You and your guys can read them. You know, obviously, we’re concerned about the safety of anybody in the prison system.