Dana Peroxide Refuses To To Say Whether Or Not Chimpy Hyped The Intelligence
Q Dana, maybe — it’s been a couple of hours since the Senate report came out, so I just wanted to give you a chance on camera to talk a little bit about Senate Democrats — I know Republicans are disagreeing on the Hill — but Senate Democrats are alleging that it’s not that intelligence was wrong, but that the administration maybe exaggerated some intelligence and maybe left out some key caveats about that intelligence in the run-up to the war. And I wonder, for your reaction, especially since Scott McClellan — it’s not just Democrats, but Scott McClellan made a similar claim in his book.
MS. PERINO: Well, one, I would say that the issue of pre-war intelligence on Iraq has been thoroughly reviewed over the years by the Congress, as well as the independent WMD Commission. The majority report today is a selective view. And as you just said, the minority, the Republicans, have their own report, and I would encourage everyone to look at that as well.
Q Senator Rockefeller also specifically said today, he used the word “catastrophe” and said that if the administration had been more careful with the intelligence, we may have been able to avoid this catastrophe, talking about the war in Iraq. How do you react to a statement like that?
MS. PERINO: Well, again, I think that the President and administration officials and the Congress were all working from the same intelligence and acting on the same information. And when the intelligence community tells you this — gives you information, you have an obligation to look at it.
Little Scottie McClellan: Big Poo-Poo Head
Q Dana, following on that, in the release from the Senate Democrats, their message — the first sentence says that this report confirms former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s account of how the Bush administration led the nation to war through a propaganda campaign. What’s your reaction to that?
MS. PERINO: Scott, by his very own admission, wasn’t there at the time. He was the Deputy Press Secretary for Domestic Affairs. He has said, as I understand it, that looking back, even though he wasn’t there, reading Bob Woodward’s book, this is how he came to his conclusion.
So I think that the Senate Democrats and the Republicans took a lot of — look, I don’t know how well this report would stand up in terms of the processes. I know that the Republicans on Capitol Hill have a lot of beef with how it was taken — how it was done.
And so, when it comes to Scott, I would just remind you that he was the Deputy Press Secretary for Domestic Affairs. He said that upon reflection, looking back at how the war was packaged — and that’s his words — he disagrees with that. That’s fine, that’s his opinion. It doesn’t change the fact that the information that the President has, the information he was given by the intelligence community — he based that on the facts that he was given; he based his decisions based on the facts that he was given, and a political judgment. The fact that the intelligence turned out to be wrong on WMD does not mean that anyone purposefully lied. And that is the insinuation by some on Capitol Hill, and by a former colleague. And that’s why we were so saddened and disappointed and hurt by his words.
Q Can I follow on that? With all due respect, press secretaries are authorized to speak for a President. Scott spoke on the war issues, even before — that happened before he was Press Secretary, just as you’re speaking to the intelligence process and how it was reformed before you became Press Secretary. And I was unaware that Scott was limited to domestic affairs. I think those of us that covered him felt that we could go to him on all matter of —
MS. PERINO: Let me be a little bit more precise. The issue is, if I could just — I’ll delve a little bit more into the detail of it — is that — it’s the question of — and I served as the Deputy as well. I didn’t sit in on national security meetings as the Deputy Press Secretary when I dealt with domestic affairs, and neither did Scott. That’s my only point on that. In terms of looking back at issues of 2001 and 2002 and 2003, when intelligence was reviewed, those are the places where he wasn’t. And he says that in his book and he’s said it in interviews since.
Old News, Move On
Q But you understand the differences they’re making, that they think that the claims — understanding that the intelligence was wrong — but that the claims went far beyond what the intelligence community was giving the White House, and that it ignored significant dissent within the intelligence community — the White House.
MS. PERINO: That dissent, amongst experts within the intelligence community at some levels, did not reach the President.
And I think that this is just another example of rehashing this old issue, which is fine. If people want to spend their time doing that, that’s up to them. But we have changed the process, and it’s much more improved. And that’s good for the President — not just this President, but any future President as well.
Exaggerated Statement About Exaggerated Intelligence
Q Okay. And on the Iraq intelligence report, you’ve said a couple times in the past week or so that the entire world had the same intelligence on Iraq. Given the significant dissent even inside the United States intelligence community on a lot of key issues, how can that be true?
MS. PERINO: Okay, well, maybe “entire world” was probably a little bit too strong, or too broad. But clearly, other governments that looked at the same intelligence that we had came to the same conclusions. I don’t think that’s in dispute.
Cheney in Charge
Q A follow-up from yesterday. Do you have anything on an agreement between Cheney and Olmert on a military aid package that includes F-35 stealth fighter jets in 2012 —
MS. PERINO: Did you say Cheney and Olmert?
Q — and missile defense cooperation?
MS. PERINO: Did you say Cheney and Olmert? No, I don’t have anything on that. No, I don’t.
Q Did he meet with Cheney?
MS. PERINO: He did meeting with the Vice President. I believe they had dinner on Tuesday night. I don’t know if that came up. I’d refer you to his office for more.
Your Daily Dana Don’t Know
Q On the story in The Independent about the deal allegedly between the U.S. and Iraq, The Independent says that details of the deal were leaked to them. I’m sure you’ve seen The Independent’s story —
MS. PERINO: I don’t know, I haven’t seen it.
Q You’ve not seen the story in The Independent?
MS. PERINO: I’ve not seen The Independent, I don’t think.
MS. PERINO: I’ve read about ten other papers today, but not The Independent.