First, the bad news (which actually came at the end oftoday’s gaggle).
MR. SNOW: Okay, one last thing. There have been a lot of rumors about my health, so let me tell you what’s going on. In a recent series of CAT scans and PET scans and MRIs, we have found a small growth in my lower abdomen. Blood tests are negative, PET scans are negative. But out of an aggressive sense of caution, I’m going to go in for surgery on Monday and have it removed. I’ll be out for a few weeks, because it’s still — you know, they’re going to cut me. And it will take me a little while to heal up. So I’ll come back here a little lighter — (laughter) — in, oh, I don’t know, a few weeks, maybe three or four weeks. Dana Perino will be handling the responsibilities from behind the podium.
Bad for Pony’s health, but also bad for gaggle obsessives. Three to four weeks of the humorless, fanatical Bushite Dana Peroxide? I don’t think I can take that.
Anyway, back to the gaggle. Chimpy’s gonna fold like a cardboard box in a thunderstorm.
Q Did the President respond to Fred Fielding, or did Fred Fielding have a conversation with the President?
MR. SNOW: Let me put it this way, as you know, the issue of internal White House deliberations figures rather large in what we’re discussing here. But if Fred Fielding has made a representation that he would take something to the President, you can take it to the bank that that happened.
Q Okay. And then what was the President’s response? (Laughter.)
MR. SNOW: I’m not even going to try to fake that one. Again, internal deliberations. Thank you. The President’s position is pretty clear.
Q We spoke with the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. Senate says there is no precedent for having an official of this nature come and speak to the Committee without a transcript. The House also says they can’t find any precedent. Why should this case set a precedent?
MR. SNOW: Well, the fact is what they’re trying to do is to establish their own set of precedents. What we’re trying to do is to set a precedent for adult behavior in a way that is going to reflect well on a situation and offer an opportunity — I don’t think you’re going to find any case where there has been no allegation of impropriety, no specific —
Q It’s not about —
MR. SNOW: — any specific allegation of impropriety, suddenly to say, we’re going to offer up internal deliberations. But we’re doing this because we know there are concerns on the Hill and we want to address them. I think that this is — I’m not sure that there are any situations for which there is a precedent for this.
Q Even transcripts?
MR. SNOW: For any of this.
Q You just don’t want a record of what they said.
MR. SNOW: No, no, no. The record, in fact, is going to be available. So then if there are follow-on questions of a factual nature, they are going to be able to be answered.
Q Available, but without a transcript?
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Conversations Between Rove And Meirs Are “Immaterial”
Q How can they know what it is that they need until they see it? I mean, aren’t you pretty much predetermining their needs for them by deciding what they need?
MR. SNOW: No. Think of it this way: Congress wants to know “whether there was a White House role.” You would be able to determine that by examining any communication from the White House to the outside. So what we’ve said is, you got it. Do you want to know any conversation or any communication with the Department of Justice? Got it. How about U.S. attorneys? You can have that, too. Members of Congress? Yes. Anybody on the outside, we’ll supply that, as well.
Q They’d like to see what Harriet Miers and Karl Rove had to say to one another.
MR. SNOW: I know, but that is immaterial, in the sense — there are two things. Number one, you understand the confidentiality of an internal White House deliberations, and number two, that is an attempt — that is not germane, because if that’s not communicated to anybody, who cares?
Q Well, I think a lot of people will care, depending on what they say.
MR. SNOW: Well, they might care because, yes, they want to second-guess, they want to fly speck or they want to listen, just as a lot of people would be interested to find out what kind of things are going on right now between fundraising organizations and Democrats. But on the other hand, we respect their right to a certain amount of confidentiality in these deliberations because it’s really what you do in terms of reaching out to others for action items that does matter.
Congress Should Subpoena The RNC
Q Clarification, is the President prepared as part of his offer to turn over all materials and emails that were created on the RNC domain, which is primarily —
MR. SNOW: As I said, all responsive documents will be provided.
Q So he has the authority to tell the RNC to turn it over?
MR. SNOW: I’m not going to get into the vagaries of document production, because that is an issue for lawyers to go into. But any documents that would be generated, that would be germane to the inquiry, would be provided.
Q Whether or not they were created on this system here —
MR. SNOW: Like I said, I don’t want to get into the technical issues.
Pony Does His Own Polling
Q Well, let me follow on that, because you say, if you want to support the troops, pass a different sort of bill. A majority of Americans, Tony, don’t think that American sacrifice is worth this war. So how — you could look at supporting the troops and be consistent with what the House bill does, which is to set a deadline to remove them.
MR. SNOW: I think if you ask the American —
Q Why does the President — if I can just finish — why do you and this President have the corner on what it means to support the troops?
MR. SNOW: I think if you ask the troops, “Do you think it’s supporting you if we are going to cut off your ability in two-and-a-half weeks to repair your tanks, to fix your fighting vehicles, to be able to have your reinforcements in, to have rotations? Do you think that constitutes support?” My guess is they’d say “No.” I think this is a pretty simple case, when you start cutting people off in the middle of an engagement.
What you’re really asking is, I think — and correct me if I paraphrase wrong — a lot of people want us out. And, yes, I mean, we’d like to be out. But we need — the fact is we want to leave when we have, in fact, succeeded in the mission. I think you’ll find that the folks in the military agree with that, too.
Q But just a final one. Do you dispute the central aim of this bill, which is to reflect the country’s will to get out of Iraq by a date certain?
MR. SNOW: I think — the problem is, if you’re trying to sort of do the public opinion poll, you can read them a lot of different ways, based on the way you do the question. I think —
Q You can read American sentiment about the war a lot of different ways?
MR. SNOW: Yes, because if you ask questions — if you ask a question, “Would you want to leave without completing the mission?” People say “No.” It really does depend on how you frame the question. But we understand that people don’t like war. And the President doesn’t like war, and we wish we could get out yesterday, but we can’t.
Q It’s not that they just don’t like war. They don’t like how this administration is handling this war. Right?
MR. SNOW: Well, yes, but on the other hand, if you ask — if you take a look, for instance, at what has happened: a response in Baghdad security that so far has produced — again, so far — has produced positive results; you see that there has been a change in perception, a pretty significant one in the last month. And I think Americans are willing to stand by the troops.
If you ask the question, “Should our commanders be able to determine the way to run the war?” The answer is, “You bet.” If you say, “Should key battlefield decisions be made by members of Congress and their staff, as opposed to generals and those who serve under them?” The answer would be, “No.” And so that’s one of the issues.
Q Secretary Gates’ concerns about Gitmo. Did they reach the President?
MR. SNOW: No. I received some guidance from the Secretary of Defense’s office, which is that it never did reach the President. He had some concerns, and illegal issues were resolved. And he deferred to the Attorney General on the legal issues. And beyond that, I’m going to kick it all over to DoD. But it did not reach the President.
Q Why is it that the President’s stated desire to close Guantanamo Bay cannot be turned into some kind of plan of action?
MR. SNOW: Because there are legal constraints, and those are the things that the Attorney General had made clear in terms of the inadvisability of putting Guantanamo detainees on continental U.S. soil. We have tried as best we can to move those who are in Guantanamo either to their home nations, or nations where they are wanted for other trial or justice dispensation. But we also have laid down the benchmark that you also have to be able to assure that they’re going to be treated humanely.
Les Is Merely A Vessel
Q Tony, just one question today, and it’s from our fellow talk radio host, Roger Hedgecock, in San Diego. The President is under fire for firing Carol Lam as U.S. attorney in San Diego because she didn’t prosecute drug smugglers and human smugglers, called coyotes. And the question, might the President consider firing Johnny Sutton, U.S. Attorney for Southeastern Texas, for prosecuting law enforcement officers who appear guilty of doing nothing more than doing their job?
MR. SNOW: Well, Les, once again, you’ve tried to draw me into an ongoing legal dispute.
Q No, no, no, this is Roger Hedgecock in San Diego.
MR. SNOW: Oh.
Q That’s his question.
MR. SNOW: I see. Roger Hedgecock has tried to draw me into something that I cannot comment upon because there are ongoing legal deliberations in the case that he has cited, and therefore, I can’t say anything.