Today On Holden’s Obsession With [Yesterday’s] Gaggle

Yeah, I’m a lazy son of a bitch, I should have gotten to this yesterday. Oh well.

Pony Blow Sez Lugar’s Big Flip-Flop Is no Big Deal

Q Tony, you said you weren’t surprised by the substance of Senator Lugar’s comments on the Senate floor last night. Were you surprised by the timing at all, that he chose last night to do it?

MR. SNOW: I’d ask him. We certainly were not aware that there — we were not made directly aware that there would be a statement at that time. But again, it’s consistent with things he said.

Q I’m thinking, from what I heard in the gaggle and from the shrug right now that you don’t find this very significant.

MR. SNOW: Look, Dick Lugar is a serious guy, so obviously you take it seriously. But on the other hand, again, he voted against the original — he voted against the surge. He’s somebody who has had reservations. We take seriously his point of view because he is a serious guy. On the other hand, we also take seriously the efforts and the advice that the President has gotten from his commanders on the ground, and also the continuing cooperation not only with the commanders on the ground, but also Ambassador Crocker and working with our colleagues in the Iraqi government.

That Set Helen Off

Q The arguments you are using are the same ones we heard when we were on the ropes in Vietnam and about to leave. You can’t dismiss Lugar. He’s been in foreign —

MR. SNOW: I didn’t dismiss him.

Q He’s been in foreign relations, head of the committee, all through these many years. And when he says something, he’s saying something very important. The question is, what is the price that this country is willing to pay, in terms of killing people in a country that did nothing to us, and our own people? How far? How long?

MR. SNOW: You’re assuming, Helen, that, in fact, nobody did anything to the American people, and furthermore, that nobody is doing anything to the Iraqi people.

Q Did the Iraqis attack us?

MR. SNOW: Well, what’s going on right now is that you have terrorists who are killing Muslims. The United States is in the process of trying to do —

Q We went in there as an aggressor, who killed people there to take over.

MR. SNOW: No, we did not go there to take over, we went there to liberate.

Q In his speech, Senator Lugar said that the surge’s prospects for success are too dependent on the actions of others who don’t share our agenda; it relies on military power to achieve goals that it can’t achieve, and it distances allies we’ll need for regional diplomatic efforts. And he goes on. This is serious stuff.

MR. SNOW: Yes, it is.

Q He further distances himself from the President. I understand the need to downplay it, and to say that it’s consistent with what he’s said in the past, but really this goes further. This is him separating himself far further from the President.

MR. SNOW: No, that’s your characterization, that’s not mine. Let’s take a look: regional allies — I think you take a look at, do allies want the United States to leave, and you take a look in the region, and the answer is no, unless you’re Iran and Syria. In point of fact, it is very important for us to be able to complete the job of building stability within Iraq, and at the same time, sending the ultimate in terms of discouragement to the terrorist forces by demonstrating that no matter what they do, no matter how they try, their efforts are not going to succeed.

Q He goes so far as to say that Iraqis don’t want to be Iraqis.

MR. SNOW: Well, again, you’ll find that — certainly if you take a look, even — I hate to rely on polling for this — but you look at it and there are — in fact, Iraqis do want to be Iraqis, and more importantly, they want to be free and democratic Iraqis.

Q So Lugar is wrong on that one?

MR. SNOW: I’m just telling you — I’m giving you my analysis.

Ooooo, Chimpy Is Gonna Piss Off The Malkins And Atlas’ Juggs Of The World Today

Q The President goes to the Islamic Center tomorrow. Does he still believe that Islam is a religion of peace, and does he regret using the term last year “Islamic fascists”?

MR. SNOW: He believes Islam is a religion of peace. He also believes that it has been hijacked, in some cases, by people who use Islam as a shield for murdering people, who use it as a way of spreading terrorism rather than tolerance. And he will be making those points tomorrow.

Q What about the term “Islamic fascists”?

MR. SNOW: Again, I think — look, there are some people out there who want to expose people in the name of Islam to a totalitarian way of life. And the President does not think that that is — what is important to realize is that the President does not believe that is consistent with Islam.

Dana’s A Liar

Q Can we move to the Vice President again?

MR. SNOW: Please.

Q Representative Waxman — if that’s a breath of fresh air, you’ve got a bad day going. (Laughter.) Representative Waxman was noting Dana Perino’s statement the other day that the Vice President is complying with all rules and regulations regarding the handling of classified material. He sent a letter to Fred Fielding saying, “According to current and former White House security personnel who have contacted his staff, White House practices have been dangerously inadequate.” He said “the security officers described repeated instances in which security breaches were reported to the White House office, and nothing was ever investigated.”

MR. SNOW: Number one, I can’t comment on it because I haven’t seen it. This may be another one of these that arrives on your desk before it arrives on ours. So I really can’t give you any comment on it.

Q But as David said the other day, that he’s complied with all of these regulations, you believe?

MR. SNOW: Well, keep in mind, what you’re talking about here is an executive order that involves compliance within the executive branch, but it also says that basically for the purposes of the executive order, the President and the Vice President’s offices are not considered “agencies” and, therefore, are not subject to the regulations. Now, do I think that they’ve been handling intelligence with due care and respect? Yes, you bet.

Q And why do you think that? Have there been any reports of breaches? Have there been any reports of complaints that he’s not?

MR. SNOW: What you’re asking — again, what you have is the Information Security Oversight Office and they are responsible for reporting breaches, and they do so. I’m not going to tell you how many they do, but they have — I do know that they have reported breaches and they had been acted upon. But again, trying to respond to a Henry Waxman letter that is non-specific, that’s been to sent to Fred Fielding, that I haven’t seen gets me beyond where I can — I can’t give you much more than I’ve given you right now.

Pony Claims That The VEEP’s Office Has Backed Off Of Their Claim To An Independent Branch

Q Can we go again with you, though, on Vice President Cheney’s logic about not being part of the executive branch? I understand, I think, what you’re trying to say why he doesn’t have to comply with these regulations —

MR. SNOW: I’m talking about specifically the executive order.

Q Right, right, okay, I am, too, about the executive order. So the executive order — the Vice President’s office says he’s not a part of the executive branch so he doesn’t have to do this. The White House seems to be saying something different. You’re defending him, but in a different way.

MR. SNOW: No, we deal with — David Addington, as Chief of Staff, said today that — because I believe you have — this we did get to see: The Executive Order on Classified National Security Information, Executive Order 12958, as amended in 2003, makes clear that the Vice President is treated like the President and distinguishes the two of them from “agencies.” The executive order gives the ISOO, under the supervision of the Archivists of the United States, responsibility to oversee certain activities of agencies, but not of the Vice President or the President.

Q So he’s coming around to your argument, it sounds like it. This is Addington today?

MR SNOW: This is what David Addington said today.

Q But, originally, what they sent out was that he wasn’t a part of the executive branch. Are they amending that now?

MR SNOW: Again, I’ll refer that to the Vice President’s office. What you’re really talking about is trying to parse constitutionally —

Q I’m not; he is.

MR SNOW: Well, if you go back and, for instance, look at Article 2, there are no specified executive activities for the Vice President. The Vice President is the president of the Senate. It is a wonderful academic question and I’m just not going to go any further than we’ve gone to date.

Playing Fast And Loose With Secrets — Look For The Double-Asterisk (**)

Q Are you referring to there has been reported breaches being within the office of the Vice President or the White House?

MR SNOW: No, no, no. Again, the office of the Vice President is not covered by the executive order.

Q No, no, no, I’m sorry. You said there have been reported breaches —

MR SNOW: Within the government. But on the other hand, again, the Vice President and the President are not covered by the ISOO.

Q If there is a breach, who is reporting those —

MR SNOW: This is — I don’t know.

Q Does anybody know?

Q I mean, a separate White House security —

MR SNOW: This is something that the ISOO is responsible for overseeing. I’ll try to get you the procedures on it.

Q But you get the question about oversight? If you say, yes, we’re handling intelligence properly, but there’s nobody that says, here’s a breach, because there’s nobody overseeing —**

MR SNOW: But the ISOO is overseeing — what I’m being —

Q Not the President and the Vice President’s office.

MR. SNOW: Well, that’s — yes, correct.

Q So, nobody’s watching, basically.

MR SNOW: No, that’s not what it’s saying. That’s not at all what it’s saying.

Q Is this a White House security office who oversees —

MR SNOW: Again, you’re trying to get in procedural stuff. I can’t help you on it.

Q But why was he a part of the executive branch when Congress wanted to see the Energy Task Force papers and now he’s not?

MR SNOW: Well, now, you’ve got to keep in mind, that wasn’t the argument that was made. The Anti —

Q — official interference —

The Press Office Provides The Double-Asterisked Explanation Since Pony Has No Idea Who Is Responsible For Ensuring That Classified documents Are Handled Correctly At The White House

**The President’s Executive Order governs the handling of classified documents in the White House. All White House staff authorized to handle classified documents are trained on the appropriate procedures. The White House Security Office, the National Security Council, and the White House Military Office all have responsibility for the oversight of the use of classified documents at the White House. The President and White House staff take the issue of document security seriously and take measures to ensure that classified documents are handled appropriately.

Pony Just Can’t Explain It

Q Well, isn’t he serving in an executive capacity at the direction of the President when he’s looking at intelligence papers?

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q Then why doesn’t he hand them over to this agency —

MR. SNOW: What you’re asking is he is delegated by the President to do executive authority, then — well, first, number one, when you’re talking about “these papers,” again, the President and the Vice President are not agencies. I would refer you back to the Addington letter so that you can understand the legal niceties involved.

4 thoughts on “Today On Holden’s Obsession With [Yesterday’s] Gaggle

  1. Hoppy says:

    Well, obviously, it all depends on just what the meaning of is is, or are are, or something…

  2. Robert Earle says:

    “MR. SNOW: Look, Dick Lugar … voted against the surge”
    Per Olbermann and guest Dana Milbank, Lugar voted in favor of the surge.

  3. MapleStreet says:

    If the office of the President and Vice President are handling classified material correctly, who outed Valerie Plame?

  4. Nora says:

    When is someone going to call Pony on his constant claim that he hasn’t seen this document or that document? Waxman’s letter was posted on the internet. He didn’t have to be the actual recipient of the letter to read it — I read it, and it wasn’t addressed to me. And it’s not my JOB (other than my job as a concerned American citizen) to keep track of this stuff, whereas it should be his job. I’m getting sick of that excuse of his.
    If I’m reading the White House’s amendment to the gaggle correctly, it seems that the President and Vice President themselves are the ones making sure that they’re complying with security. So they’re the oversight for their own actions? Is that really what he’s saying here? Because that’s just ridiculous.
    And good on Helen — did Iraqis attack us? — though you’ll notice how Pony dodged and danced around her question.

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