Today Pony Blow Is Worried That The Military Will Run Out Of Money And Our Troops WIll Be Stranded In Iraq
Q What is the total of the transfers, the financial cost of all the transfers in the last 100 days? And also, Tony, you talk about planning beyond the fourth quarter, and you said that production could be shut down. Could this ultimately — if the stalemate were to continue for months down the road —
MR. SNOW: If the stalemate continues for months, the funds are cut off. You’ve got a military that’s cut off, period.
Q Okay, a military that’s cut off — would that mean some of the military may be coming back home, because they’re cut off?
MR. SNOW: Darling, you don’t have the money to send them home. That also costs money. Total transfers right now $4.918 billion.
Q Four point nine —
MR. SNOW: It’s not as if everybody just has frequent flier passes, say, hey, war is over, send me back for free. That also costs money. It literally affects everything, including the movement of forces in and out of the theater of battle.
Q So no hypothetical —
MR. SNOW: I’m not going to get into a hypothetical, because —
Q No, but you did say that they were stuck there. There’s no money to bring them back home, and then there’s no money to fight the war, so what happens?
MR. SNOW: Well, again, that’s not going to happen. You know that that’s not going to happen, I know it’s not going to happen, Congress knows it’s not going to happen. They’re going to get this fixed.
Nice Knife Work There, Alberto
Q Going to the Attorney General and the U.S. prosecutors that were dismissed. Today Mr. Gonzales said that the recommendations reflect the views of the Deputy Attorney General, Paul McNulty. He signed off on the names. Isn’t the Attorney General effectively pushing blame to the official who is heading out the door?
MR. SNOW: No, because he supports all the personnel actions. There’s nothing to blame.
Q Suggesting, though, that he was not a responsible party by saying he signed off on the names, they reflect the view —
MR. SNOW: Look, what he understands is he’s delegated authority for people within the Department of Justice to make those decisions, which he supports, and he’s simply stating how it worked in terms of the assignment of responsibilities.
Pony Blow Just Can’t Talk ABout Comey’s Testimony
Q Whenever the President has received criticism about the terrorist surveillance program, he has said, look, top Justice Department officials are monitoring this for abuses. Okay, very dramatic testimony on Capitol Hill today — James Comey, who in 2004 was the Acting Attorney general, testified that when he raised objections to the terrorist surveillance program, that Alberto Gonzales, as White House Counsel, and the White House Chief of Staff, Andy Card, took this extraordinary measure — they went to the hospital room of John Ashcroft to try to get him to override what Jim Comey was saying, about how this needs proper legal footing. So wasn’t that an end run by the White House to try to get John Ashcroft to overrule James Comey?
MR. SNOW: Well, number one, you’ve got a representation of internal White House deliberations, and we simply don’t talk about that and are not going to.
Q But he’s testified on Capitol Hill. I mean, he —
MR. SNOW: I understand that, but —
Q All that “you have to tell the truth to the American people” — he’s testified about this now, it’s public.
Q Back on Comey’s testimony, does the White House dispute his claim?
MR. SNOW: You’ve got to understand what you have are characterizations of conversations, the sort of which we simply don’t talk about. So we will —
Q You’ve described his testimony as “flashy.” I’m just trying to find out if it’s accurate, if Card and Gonzales went to the hospital.
MR. SNOW: I understand that, and again, that’s not the sort of thing that I’m at liberty to comment about it.
Q Is it accurate?
MR. SNOW: Again, you’re just asking me to comment about it.
Q But aren’t you trying to have it both ways? You won’t comment on it, so that you leave some doubt as to whether it’s true or not —
MR. SNOW: No, I’m not leaving doubt —
Q — this man used to be your Attorney General. He was the —
MR. SNOW: — attacking Attorney General?
Q “Acting” Attorney General — pardon my grammatical — but, Tony, he was your Attorney General. He was the President’s man. He’s not a Democrat, he was your man. And he’s making these charges.
MR. SNOW: Okay, then I’m going to violate our rules on confidentiality of conversations?
Q It’s already out there; it’s public, he testified before the American people today.
MR. SNOW: I understand that, but I’m still not going to — and his testimony can stand on its own.
Q Can I ask what the rule is on confidentiality? Because it’s not really an internal White House discussion, it’s a discussion with another agency — isn’t that a little different?
MR. SNOW: Again, this is conversations talking about with the White House counsel.
Pony Blow: The Soul Of Compassion
Q But you had the Acting Attorney General at the time saying, in regards to what Inspectors General — the acting — chief law enforcement officer in the country is saying in 2004, I’ve got problems with this, and then you’ve got the Chief of Staff and the Counsel, Alberto Gonzales at the time, going — and according to James Comey, they were trying to take advantage of a sick man who was in intensive care.
MR. SNOW: Trying to take advantage of a sick man — because he had an appendectomy, his brain didn’t work?
Q Yes, “I was very upset, I was angry.” He was in intensive care at GW. “I thought I had just witnessed an effort” —
MR. SNOW: I —
Q — let me just tell you — “I thought I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man.” Okay? Did any White House officials come and try to take advantage of you — I mean, that’s really not applicable in terms of this.
MR. SNOW: You know what, Ed —
Q They were trying to take advantage of him, according to James Comey.
MR. SNOW: Ed, I’m just telling you, I don’t know anything about the conversations. I’ve also told you the relevant thing, which is, you wanted to ask from a substantive point of view, were there protections in terms of the terrorist surveillance program — the answer is yes.
The “W” Word
Q Last question. The Republican, Arlen Specter, not James Comey, reacted to this by comparing it to the Saturday night massacre during Watergate. Are you concerned about Republicans now comparing this White House to the Nixon White House?
MR. SNOW: What I’m concerned about is — I’m not even going to get there. That’s too tempting and probably not responsible on my part. I think what you really want to do is —
Q Oh, go ahead. (Laughter.)
Alberto All The Way
Q Let me just read one other thing that Senator Specter said today about the Attorney General. He spoke about Mr. McNulty’s resignation, and called it “a significant step and evidence that a department really cannot function with the continued leadership or lack of leadership of Attorney General Gonzales.” That is the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. How can he continue with that kind of comment?
MR. SNOW: He’s going to continue, he’s going to continue. We have faith in him. We disagree with Senator Specter, but we understand that he’s got his concerns. Members of Congress are free to express them.
Backing Away From Wolfie
Q Tony, on Wolfowitz. ABC was reporting that — on Wolfowitz’s future — “all options are on the table,” and second, that it’s an “open question” whether he should stay. Does that reflect the White House views?
MR. SNOW: Let me explain. There are two separate things going on. Number one, there is an inquiry right now — I believe Mr. Wolfowitz today is talking to the World Bank, presenting his side — on personnel matters. And what we’ve said all along is, first, we do support Paul Wolfowitz.
So what we’re really talking about is, let us get through this original process because, again, not a firing offense; throughout, regardless, we have faith in Paul Wolfowitz. We do think it is appropriate for everybody to sit down after the fact, calm down, take a look and figure out, okay, how do you move forward.
Q Well, when this person says it’s an open question whether he should stay, that sounds a lot different than what you’ve been saying here or what you said this morning.
MR. SNOW: Again, that’s something that he is going to have to resolve, or members of the Bank are going to have to resolve; we support him.
Q Well, but the President has said — beyond just saying that he should have his day in court, he’s also said that he supports Wolfowitz —
MR. SNOW: Right.
Q — is that still true?
MR. SNOW: Yes.
Q So then he does think he should continue.
MR. SNOW: Yes — he supports him.
Q So then this person is not reflecting the White House view?
MR. SNOW: No — again, there are going to be conversations about how you move forward. And you talk about any possible options in the future about how to maintain the integrity and the effectiveness of the World Bank. That’s what they’re talking about. They’re going to leave all options — Paul Wolfowitz is somebody who thinks that that is the proper way to proceed, as well.
Q But if they come to the conclusion that Wolfowitz should not continue, the President would oppose that, correct?
MR. SNOW: Well, let’s just find out what happens when they have those conversations.
Jeebus! What Got Into Les?
Q Okay. In view of the extensive media coverage, there are millions of Americans who are wondering, how does the President, as a devout Christian and faithful husband, believe that the Bush administration is rightfully serving this country and providing moral guidance to our young people by saying that it is not a firing offense for a man who boosted the salary of his mistress to head the World Bank?
MR. SNOW: Well, I believe what we are talking about here is so-called firing offenses in terms of personnel policies and communications. I like the fact that you presented it in a colorful and moralistic way, but I don’t believe that those particular issues were the approximate issues before the World Bank, or before the President, or before the board of governors at the World Bank.