Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle

InToday’s Gaggle, A Gaggler Catches Chimpy In Yet Another Lie

Q But, Tony, on March 14th, the President was in Mexico, he was at a press conference and said, “I’ve heard those allegations about political decision-making in this matter. It’s just not true.” How can that be true when now there are emails showing that the White House Political Director was involved in the firings? Wouldn’t that suggests politics —

MR. SNOW: No, the White House Political Director — I think if you take a look at the White House Political Director, these most recent emails I believe took place after the personnel action had taken place. And furthermore, look, you can assume that when you have political appointees, the Political Office is certainly going to have some conversations. And I believe that the emails you’re talking about involve Tim Griffin.

Q Okay. But you’re saying you would assume that politics would be involved because there’s a political — but at the beginning of this story —

MR. SNOW: No, no, no, I said the Political Office would have some knowledge of it.

Q Okay, but at the beginning of this story, the President, you, Dan Bartlett, others said on camera that politics was not involved, this was performance-based.

MR. SNOW: That is something — we have never said that. I think you’ll have to take a look at comments that have been made by the Justice Department. What we’ve said is that people serve at the pleasure of the President. That’s the operative principle here.

Q The President said, I’ve heard those allegations about political decision-making and it’s just not true. I mean, he clearly said politics was not involved, right?

MR. SNOW: Right.

Q So now politics was because the Political Director —

MR. SNOW: No. Just because the Political Director is weighing in on something does not mean that this is politics involved. These are political appointees.

Pony Make No Guarantees

Q You make a good point that these emails were in February, with Sarah Taylor. Can you say from that podium categorically that the White House Political Affairs Office was not involved back in November, October, leading up to the December decision?

MR. SNOW: I think what we’ve done is we’ve already released all the emails that are available, and you can draw whatever judgments —

Q From the Justice Department, but what about White House emails?

MR. SNOW: Yes, but the — those were Justice Department emails, including those that had come from the White House.

Pony Gets Helenized — Again!

Q You don’t think that there’s any explanation owed to the American people on whether they really performed badly, or not — over the politics? And what have you got against them taking an oath and having a transcript? What is this administration — why are you always opposed for someone swearing to their testimony?

MR. SNOW: No, Helen, I think you take a look at a long line of precedence that have to do with the way these — what we have said is that we will make available to the committees individuals who are perfectly willing to answer any and all questions.

Q But they won’t swear?

MR. SNOW: — that would be sufficient for the purposes of the committees.

Q Well, what is the objection to swearing, swearing in on this?

MR. SNOW: Again, I’m just — I’m not going to go beyond —

Q Because you don’t have any.

Executive Privilege Forevah!

Q On the subpoenas — how long after a White House official leaves the White House are they covered by executive —

MR. SNOW: I have no idea. That’s a question that you’ll float to legal counsel, but I’m not an attorney.

Q How soon can Congress expect a response on this?

MR. SNOW: Well, first thing we’ve got to do is take a look at it. So we’ll see. It will be —

Q Does the White House call the shots at this point with Harriet Miers —

MR. SNOW: Again, that’s a legal question that — I think what happens is — well, I don’t know. Get back to us, we’ll get you in touch with lawyers. I don’t want to try to pretend to be a junior lawyer, because I’ll mess it up.

Let Libby Twist In The Wind

Q I’ve got a question on something else, unless there’s another question on this. What is the process for considering all of these letters and other requests for pardons for Lewis Libby?

MR. SNOW: Again, there’s a — you have a pardon process that goes on within the White House, and it’s a standard process where these things are reviewed and vetted and so on. At this juncture, I don’t even know that there is a process specific to the case of Lewis Libby. What the President has said all along is that in this particular case, you’ve got to let the legal process run its course, and it has not. He intends to appeal, and we’ll have to see what happens.

Q But there’s going to be something of a turning point in the process tomorrow as the judge may decide whether or not to send him to prison immediately or delay. Will that affect the thinking here at all?

MR. SNOW: It’s our understanding — and I may be wrong on this — but that, in fact, any such rendering would not result in immediately going off to a detention facility. In fact, there is still a process that has to be followed with petitions and reviews that could go on for some time.

Q But does this affect the timing, Tony?

MR. SNOW: Again, I’m not going to — you’re asking me to get into areas that I’m not going to speculate on from the podium.

The Bombing Of The Golden Mosque in Samarra Is A Sign Of Progress!

Q Let me follow on that, because I think some American officials have called this [re-bombing of the Imam al-Askari mosque in Samarra] an act of desperation. And I’m wondering how this is seen as an act of desperation. Does that mean that the terrorists are so concerned that they’re sort of being shut down, and that the surge is so effective that they’re now desperate to make a statement?

MR. SNOW: Well, I think, again — a couple of things. It does fit a pattern that we see throughout the region, which is that when you see things moving towards success, or when you see signs of success, that there are acts of violence. We saw that, certainly — we’ve seen that in Lebanon, once again, today, tragically. We also saw it earlier in Lebanon. We have seen it on a number of occasions where, when Israel and the Palestinians seem to be getting close to a deal, there are kidnapings and acts of violence.

What you have seen in the last couple of months — it’s well documented — is, increasingly, Iraqis are turning against al Qaeda. And that has been one of the sort of heartening developments. You’ve not only seen it in Anbar Province, but you’ve seen it elsewhere.


Q This could actually be read, then, as a sign of success for the American —

MR. SNOW: I don’t think you ever call an act of terrorism and act of success. What you have to do is to realize that maybe al Qaeda is understanding that it does not have the kind of freedom of motion or action that it used to. Not only have there been the apprehensions and killing of key members of al Qaeda within Iraq, but, again, most significantly, the Iraqi people themselves — tribal leaders in Anbar, insurgents and others — are now making it clear to al Qaeda that they look upon al Qaeda as the enemy of peace and security in Iraq and they’re going after them.

Pony Tries To Backtrack On The Magic Month Of September — And Sets Off A Firestorm Among The Gullible Gagglers

Q Tony, whenever you, or the President, or anyone in the administration is asked about assessing how the surge is going, you point out not everyone is there yet, it’s going to take a while — 30 or 60 days. Are we going to see any softening of the September deadline for a pivotal assessment on how this is going?

MR. SNOW: You call it a pivotal assessment — there are going to be regular assessments of what goes on — what has been going on in Iraq. And I think in September you will have the first opportunity to have a little bit of a metric to see what happens when you have all the forces in place for the Baghdad security plan. I mean, that I think — if you want a definitive judgment, I’ve warned from the very beginning about expecting some sort of magical thing to happen in September.


Q Tony, can we go back to Ken’s question for a second? Because it sounds like you’re laying the groundwork for September to be recharacterized. I mean, it’s been my impression that it is a critical moment of measure. The President seemed to accept such a reading in the last time he did a news conference. Are you saying now, not so much on September?

MR. SNOW: No — if you go back and look at my comments, I’ve always warned against looking upon this as some great moment. I think the term I used was, like the Wizard of Oz where you go from black and white into color.


Q Tony, the President — Jim is right — that in the interview with Reuters a couple of weeks ago, the President, I believe, used the phrase, “critical moment,” for September. Now you’re saying it’s not a pivotal moment. I mean, you don’t seem on the same page with the President on that. Is it critical, or not?

MR. SNOW: No, the characterizations — I’m just — I think he’s talking about a critical moment because it allows people again to take a look at what’s happened with the security plan.


Q Tony, again, I mean, the President said not just in the Reuters interview, but in others, that in September we will find out whether it’s working. He’s been very blunt —

MR. SNOW: Well, again, you’ll be able to see what’s going on at that juncture.

Q — saying we’ll be able to take a look and see — see what’s happening. He has said we’ll know whether it’s working in September.

MR. SNOW: Okay, but what I’m — okay —

Q Is that what you think —

MR. SNOW: No, I think my concern is that the expectations that seem to be raised is that suddenly in September there — there may be an expectation the report says, okay, all the problems are solved. No. But what will happen in September is that we will have an opportunity to assess what’s going on.


Q But that sounds like backpedaling.

MR. SNOW: No, it’s not backpedaling. It’s just — it seems to me to be such a vast metaphysical question —

Q — but there is — wait a minute —

Q But the President has answered that question. The President has —


Q Not so much you as everybody else. No matter what side of this issue you’re on in this town, it has become a commonly accepted premise that in September there will be — everyone is asking, when are we going to know, when are we going to know — well, everyone has been talking about September. It sounds like you are suggesting something entirely different right now.

MR. SNOW: No, what I’m saying is in September you’ll have an opportunity to have metrics. I think what we have been saying is you’ll have an opportunity at that juncture to be able to do a sensible analysis of what happens when you’ve got all the forces in place for the Baghdad security plan.

Now, what’s going to happen is that some people are going to try to make the argument, if the job is not done and if they haven’t perfected it and if they haven’t achieved all the — then it’s a failure. I want to guard against that, because I do think that there’s an attempt —

Q Guard against, or inoculate —

MR. SNOW: No, I don’t think it — no, because — this is not inoculation; it is humanly impossible to solve all this before September. All right?


Q Tony, clarify this, because I’m a little confused. I understand this administration said and the President said, September we’ll have a report card about the surge.

MR. SNOW: Right.

Q Okay, all right. Now, in answer to Ken’s question, you said September will be the first opportunity of a metric — first meeting, in my mind, a series —

MR. SNOW: Well, of course. Not only do we hope that this is succeeding, but — it is not as if you say, well, okay, final judgment on this. The fact is what we are hoping is that you will have signs of progress that will allow us benchmarks as we continue in support of the Iraqi democracy. Do not think of this as a moment where you pull the plug on the Iraqi security plan — the Baghdad security plan.

Q I’m not saying pull the plug — this was supposed to be some grandiose moment where the surge activity would — that’s what we’ve been told until this point.

MR. SNOW: Like I said, we have tried — I have tried — I’m glad you used that term, because that will explain why I’ve been very careful about how we try to characterize this —

Q — but you can understand why everyone is asking the question.

MR. SNOW: — because we don’t think there are grandiose moments in this. There are attempts to have sober reflections on what’s going on.

Q But, Tony, by its definition, a surge is supposed to be relatively short-term, right, not on and on and on? If you just have like a mini report card and September and say, we need another six months, maybe another six months, it’s no longer a surge, right?

MR. SNOW: Well, if you take a look at what Baker-Hamilton had talked — a surge is not sort of in and out. What you do is you bring forces to bear and you try to finish the job.

Q But then doesn’t it become an escalation, as the Democrats said at the beginning of the surge? They said, if you don’t put in —

MR. SNOW: Oh, my goodness.

Q Why are you rolling your eyes? Hold on a second. At the beginning, a surge — the idea was a temporary increase to stabilize things. Now you’re talking about —

MR. SNOW: No, Ed, what you’re saying is — what we’re talking about is, yes, it will be a temporary increase, but on the other hand, when we get to September, those forces will have been — all those forces together will have been in theater less than three months. So you need to —

Q Some of them have been there since February —

MR. SNOW: Yes, but the point is —

Q — after the President announced in January.

MR. SNOW: Yes, and it —

Q So not three months. Some of them have actually been there.

MR. SNOW: Yes, but I — I know. But I’m saying, you talk about the surge. The surge is not an overnight thing.

Les Is Protecting You From Teh Scary Gay

Q Yes, thank you, Tony. Two questions. The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post both report that Dr. James Holsinger, the President’s nominee for Surgeon General, has been denounced by homosexual activists, as well as by presidential candidates Edwards and Clinton, because in 1991, Dr. Holsinger wrote that sex between people of the same sex, especially men, could lead to many sexual — serious health problems. And given the medical accuracy of the doctor’s statement, what is the President’s reaction to such attacks on this physician who is his nominee?

MR. SNOW: You know what? I haven’t asked him about that, so I don’t know.

Q Wait a minute. The National Organization of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays has issued a statement that the denunciations of Dr. Holsinger are bigoted. The President, in supporting him, would not disagree with this, would he?

MR. SNOW: Again, I’m not going to speculate on that, Les.

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