Dana Felt Compelled To Respond To Her Misreading OfThe Times
Q Dana, can you tell us why you decided to put out this statement this morning about The New York Times story? Why did you feel compelled to respond?
MS. PERINO: Well, the subhead of the newspaper indicated that the White House — well, it says the White House role was wider than it said, implying that I had either changed my story, or I or somebody else at the White House had misled the public. And that is not true. And I heard now from The New York Times that they will retract that headline, and they are going to run a correction tomorrow.
Q But the underlying facts, four White House lawyers who are named knew about the destruction or the intent to destroy the tapes beforehand. Are you disputing that?
MS. PERINO: I have not commented on that — and when we are in that —
MS. PERINO: Helen, I’m going to finish this answer. The White House has not commented on anybody’s involvement or knowledge, save for me telling everybody that the President had no recollection of being briefed on the existence or the destruction of the tapes before he was briefed by General Hayden. After that, I did not comment on anybody’s knowledge or involvement. So if somebody has information that contradicts the one thing that I’ve said, then this would be true — but it’s not. And that is why I asked for a correction and The New York Times is going to correct it.
Q So you’re disputing the characterization in that —
MS. PERINO: Absolutely, it’s wrong.
Q — not the underlying facts of the story.
MS. PERINO: I’m not commenting on the underlying facts of the story.
Q You’re the one who’s drawing the implication. Would you have been happy if the subhead had read, “White House role was lighter than previously understood”?
MS. PERINO: I have not — what it says is that I had changed my story, and I have not.
Q It doesn’t say that.
MS. PERINO: It — that’s how I took it, and I am not —
Q It does not say —
MS. PERINO: — the only one.
Q It simply says that the White House does not comment on this, then it goes on to —
MS. PERINO: That is not — that’s not what it says in its headline, Bill. And there was editorial decision that led to this subheadline, because if they didn’t want to make this point to try to say that the White House had misled the public, why would they put it in bold face above the fold, and then not — and then it’s not supported by any of the facts or the contradictory statements in the article.
Q But that’s very difficult to judge when you won’t give us the facts.
Dana Peroxide: I’m Not Accountable
Q Okay. Okay, but you’re defining it that way. In fact, right after the first — this story first broke, people within the administration did say privately that, in fact, Harriet Miers had told the CIA not to destroy the tapes and that that suggested that the White House, in fact, was saying don’t destroy. Now this New York Times story is saying four people in the President — or Vice President’s inner circle actually talked to the CIA about it. So that does suggest a wider role.
MS. PERINO: I am not accountable for all the anonymous sources that you turn up. I’m not. I am accountable — I speak for the President and the White House. This says that I was misleading, and I was not.
Q It doesn’t say you. It doesn’t say you at all. And there were other people in the administration who —
MS. PERINO: The White House does not comment. The only thing that I have said from this podium is regarding to the President and his recollection. And if CNN has different information that they want to provide to me that contradicts what I’ve said, you know, let’s see it.
Q They didn’t specifically say it’s you. It’s talking about the White House, the administration in general.
MS. PERINO: I speak for the White House. I represent the White House.
Q Why do you take it personally?
MS. PERINO: I’m not taking it personally. I’m taking it — I speak for the White House. It’s not a personal thing.
Opinion? They Ordered It!
Q Does the White House have an opinion now on whether those tapes should have been destroyed?
MS. PERINO: That’s part of — I’d just refer you to the same answer that I just had, which is I’m not commenting on it in any way, shape, or form.
Q Well, that’s on the investigation of what happened.
MS. PERINO: I’ve been asked that question before and I have not commented on it, either. There is an investigation and — preliminary inquiry, they call it, and I have to leave it at that.
Q Do you know anything about it?
MS. PERINO: What I’m saying is I’m not going to comment from the podium.
Q But there are other people in the White House who know things and have talked.
MS. PERINO: I’m not saying if there’s things that I know or don’t know; I’m saying I’m not commenting.
Nothing To See Here
Q Dana, why do you just want the executive branch to —
MS. PERINO: I’m going to move on.
Q No, but I need to ask why will you only allow the executive branch to investigate itself? Congress wants to investigate this, and the Attorney General is saying, we’re not going to cooperate.
MS. PERINO: That’s a question that — look, I understand the question and I said to you yesterday that General Mukasey and General Hayden have done a — have asked everyone to cooperate in the preliminary inquiry. General Mukasey answered that question to members of Congress, I guess four days ago, and I refer you to him for more.
Q Do you believe in checks and balances?
MS. PERINO: Of course we do.
All That Cocaine Burned Out His Memory
Q And also, I have just one question, if you could clarify on — you repeatedly keep saying the President has no recollection of the issue at hand. So does that mean that he could have heard about it beforehand, but it simply slipped his mind?
MS. PERINO: It means what it means, that he had no recollection.
Your Daily Les
Q Thank you, Dana. Two questions. In Council Bluffs, Iowa, Senator Clinton said, and this is a quote — “I am absolutely overwhelmed personally to have my friend of 25 years, Bob Kerrey, endorse me.” And my question: Can you deny, Dana, that the White House was astounded by this when only 11 years ago Senator Kerrey declared, “Clinton is an unusually good liar, unusually good”?
MS. PERINO: I’m not going to comment.