Let’s kick off yesterday’s gaggle with Pony Blow’s lame attempts to swat down questions about Scandal Number 1,582.
Abu G Gets The Kiss Of Death
Q Tony, it’s getting hard to find a Republican around town who says that Gonzales will survive this. Is there any feeling inside the White House that Attorney General Gonzales will survive this?
MR. SNOW: The President has confidence in the Attorney General. He’s made that clear, both privately to the Attorney General, and he made it clear yesterday in the press conference.
Q But if you have an ever-growing number of Republicans on the Hill calling for resignation or expressing strong —
MR. SNOW: Well, you’re asking me if; we have one publicly declared.
Q You do have more Republican opinion that Gonzales should not keep his job.
MR. SNOW: Well, again —
MR. SNOW: The President has confidence in the Attorney General.
Q He had confidence in Rumsfeld, too.
The Chimpster’s Half-Assed Excuses Befuddle Pony Blow
Q The President said, “I’ve heard those allegations about political decision-making; it’s just not true.” How can he say that when he hasn’t seen all the emails, emails continue to come out, and of those that have already come out, some of them clearly seem to show that at some level, at least, there was political decision-making?
MR. SNOW: I’m not — how would you define “political decision-making”?
Q Well, decision-making that involves politics.
Q How would you define it, Tony?
MR. SNOW: Well, it’s a loaded term. I mean, I think what the President — what the President is saying is that there is no — that in evaluating U.S. attorneys, this is based on performance. And the important thing to do — and furthermore, the Department of Justice made recommendations that the President has accepted. Also keep in mind, the President has the authority to remove people and put other folks in the job. That is at his discretion. That’s presidential power.
Q But is he saying that he was so in the loop, then, that he definitely knew there was nothing political, or was he, in fact, removed, as you indicated this morning?
MR. SNOW: No, I think — again, what the President has — the Department of Justice has made recommendations, they’ve been approved. And it’s pretty clear that these things are based on performance and not on sort of attempts to do political retaliation, if you will.
Not The Dreaded “C” Word!!!
Q Tony, going to another subject, the Pentagon. Is the President now going to start embracing the words “civil war,” to a certain extent as it relates to Iraq?
MR. SNOW: What you’re talking about is the 90/10 report that came out. That, April, reflects the language that was used in the National Intelligence Estimate. As you’ll recall, the National Intelligence Estimate said there are some things that are characteristic of a civil war, some that are not. So this is — there’s not new language, or for that matter, new analysis.
Q It’s not new language for the NIE, but it’s new language for the President —
MR. SNOW: No, no, the President — what the President is focusing on is succeeding in Iraq. And again, you’ve got evidence that there has been progress. I don’t want to oversell it because it is tough and there’s along way to go. We’re still busy moving forces into Iraq. We’re still working with the Iraqis to develop capability. They’ve been stepping up and taking on tough decisions. The oil law has been passed by the council ministers; it is going before the legislature. What I’m telling you, April, is there’s a lot of stuff going on. And what you’re asking about is a phrase used in a National Intelligence Estimate.
Q Don’t diminish it, because for months you, from that podium, have been dancing around the words, “civil war,” and sectarian —
MR. SNOW: Right, but what you are trying to say is that that is a label that is attached as an absolute — that is being used to describe accurately what’s going on. And if you take a look at the NIE, it said it has some characteristics and some that are inconsistent. So we’re not going to use the term.
Q So you’re not going to use the term, the President is not?
MR. SNOW: No, but the President — the National Intelligence Estimate says that there are some characteristics that are consistent and some that aren’t.
The Assministration Plans To Sit Idly By While Our Economy Is Gutted Like A Fish
Q Tony, while the President was traveling, New Century fund, one of the biggest mortgage lenders, almost went belly-up, causing a major fall in the stock market. What’s troubling investors now is the fact that this housing market, which has been based on some very risky loans, is really holding up the whole stock market situation. And if the bubble blows in the housing market, a lot of people are going to be in trouble, the U.S. economy goes down the tubes. I was just wondering if the President is focused on this problem. And does he have a game plan, aside from the denial and the happy talk that’s been coming out of the Secretary of Treasury?
MR. SNOW: Well, number one, I would — if you want to — I would encourage you to take your concerns to the Secretary of Treasury; I’m sure he’ll be happy to respond. Hank Paulson is not only an enormously capable, but very realistic Secretary of the Treasury. So, please, try that.
Secondly, we do have — the fundamentals in the economy are sound, but I am not going to get into talking about markets. Any time somebody makes comments from this podium it is something that could potentially influence markets; I’m just not going to do it.
Q If such a collapse — as a follow-up on that — if such a market collapse would occur, would the President be intent on maintaining the value of the dollar?
MR. SNOW: I will refer you to my prior answer. What you’re asking me to do now is to accept a premise, the acceptance of which would be a market-moving event.
It’s A Rare Day When Helen Thomas Gets To Ask Two Questions. Don’t Expect It To Happen Again.
Q Was the Mohammed on the front pages subjected to any torture in the secret prisons?
MR. SNOW: We don’t — again, the policy of this government is we do not engage in torture.
Q And so you can guarantee that he was not tortured in all the years of secret —
MR. SNOW: I’m telling you the policy is that we don’t do torture, and furthermore, that there are — very specific guidelines have been laid down in terms of the questioning of people who, in fact, have been in U.S. custody.
Q But after it was all revealed. How do we know — I mean, this is — why would you send them to secret prisons in the first place?
MR. SNOW: Well, I’m not going to — Helen, we have been through long conversations about that. There was a big debate on Capitol Hill about this. We’re not going to relitigate it.
Q So you’re saying he was not —
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q Is there any plan to commemorate March 19th, four years into war?
MR. SNOW: To “commemorate”? The one thing we do is constantly —
Q Take notice of.
MR. SNOW: Well, I think there will be plenty people taking notice of it. The one thing that we want to do is also make sure that people take notice of how vital it is to continue to supply the reinforcement our forces need and the support that the Iraqi government is going to need in order to put all the pieces together that are going to allow that nation to be delivered from an age of tyranny under Saddam Hussein to one of hope and democracy.
Q Well, but is anything going to be done by the President, personally? You don’t know.
Q Thank you.
MR. SNOW: Thank you.
Les Is Just Begging For Retirement
Q Both the Media Research Center, as well as The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial headlined, “The Hubbell Standard: Hillary Clinton knows about sacking U.S. attorneys,” deplored the old big media uproar about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, when the Clinton administration fired 93 in one day. And my question: Does the President agree or disagree with The Wall Street Journal and the Media Research Center?
MR. SNOW: I’m not aware that he’s expressed an opinion on it. Let me just remind everybody again, U.S. attorneys are —
Q What do you think?
MR. SNOW: It’s not my job to get up here and expound my views.
Q I’d love to hear your opinion on it.
MR. SNOW: Well, that’s well and good, and I appreciate that. It makes me feel all warm inside. But it’s not appropriate for me to do that.